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Title: Lavengro - The Scholar, The Gypsy, The Priest
Author: Borrow, George Henry, 1803-1881
Language: English
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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.

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Transcribed from the 1914 T. N. Foulis edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org

   [Picture: As I read over the lives of these robbers and pickpockets]



                                 LAVENGRO
                             THE SCHOLAR, THE
                            GYPSY, THE PRIEST


                             BY GEORGE BORROW

                   WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR

                          BY EDMUND J. SULLIVAN

                                * * * * *

                         T. N. FOULIS, PUBLISHER
                        LONDON, EDINBURGH & BOSTON

                        _Published November 1914_

                                * * * * *

                   Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
                    at the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh



PREFACE


In the following pages I have endeavoured to describe a dream, partly of
study, partly of adventure, in which will be found copious notices of
books, and many descriptions of life and manners, some in a very unusual
form.

The scenes of action lie in the British Islands;—pray be not displeased,
gentle reader, if perchance thou hast imagined that I was about to
conduct thee to distant lands, and didst promise thyself much instruction
and entertainment from what I might tell thee of them.  I do assure thee
that thou hast no reason to be displeased, inasmuch as there are no
countries in the world less known by the British than these selfsame
British Islands, or where more strange things are every day occurring,
whether in road or street, house or dingle.

The time embraces nearly the first quarter of the present century: this
information again may, perhaps, be anything but agreeable to thee; it is
a long time to revert to, but fret not thyself, many matters which at
present much occupy the public mind originated in some degree towards the
latter end of that period, and some of them will be treated of.

The principal actors in this dream, or drama, are, as you will have
gathered from the title-page, a Scholar, a Gypsy, and a Priest.  Should
you imagine that these three form one, permit me to assure you that you
are very much mistaken.  Should there be something of the Gypsy manifest
in the Scholar, there is certainly nothing of the Priest.  With respect
to the Gypsy—decidedly the most entertaining character of the three—there
is certainly nothing of the Scholar or the Priest in him; and as for the
Priest, though there may be something in him both of scholarship and
gypsyism, neither the Scholar nor the Gypsy would feel at all flattered
by being confounded with him.

Many characters which may be called subordinate will be found, and it is
probable that some of these characters will afford much more interest to
the reader than those styled the principal.  The favourites with the
writer are a brave old soldier and his helpmate, an ancient gentlewoman
who sold apples, and a strange kind of wandering man and his wife.

Amongst the many things attempted in this book is the encouragement of
charity, and free and genial manners, and the exposure of humbug, of
which there are various kinds, but of which the most perfidious, the most
debasing, and the most cruel, is the humbug of the Priest.

Yet let no one think that irreligion is advocated in this book.  With
respect to religious tenets I wish to observe that I am a member of the
Church of England, into whose communion I was baptized, and to which my
forefathers belonged.  Its being the religion in which I was baptized,
and of my forefathers, would be a strong inducement to me to cling to it;
for I do not happen to be one of those choice spirits ‘who turn from
their banner when the battle bears strongly against it, and go over to
the enemy,’ and who receive at first a hug and a ‘viva,’ and in the
sequel contempt and spittle in the face; but my chief reason for
belonging to it is, because, of all churches calling themselves Christian
ones, I believe there is none so good, so well founded upon Scripture, or
whose ministers are, upon the whole, so exemplary in their lives and
conversation, so well read in the book from which they preach, or so
versed in general learning, so useful in their immediate neighbourhoods,
or so unwilling to persecute people of other denominations for matters of
doctrine.

In the communion of this Church, and with the religious consolation of
its ministers, I wish and hope to live and die, and in its and their
defence will at all times be ready, if required, to speak, though humbly,
and to fight, though feebly, against enemies, whether carnal or
spiritual.

And is there no priestcraft in the Church of England?  There is
certainly, or rather there was, a modicum of priestcraft in the Church of
England, but I have generally found that those who are most vehement
against the Church of England are chiefly dissatisfied with her because
there is only a modicum of that article in her—were she stuffed to the
very cupola with it, like a certain other Church, they would have much
less to say against the Church of England.

By the other Church, I mean Rome.  Its system was once prevalent in
England, and, during the period that it prevailed there, was more
prolific of debasement and crime than all other causes united.  The
people and the government at last becoming enlightened by means of the
Scripture spurned it from the island with disgust and horror, the land
instantly after its disappearance becoming a fair field, in which arts,
sciences, and all the amiable virtues flourished, instead of being a
pestilent marsh where swine-like ignorance wallowed, and artful
hypocrites, like so many Wills-o’-the-wisp, played antic gambols about,
around, and above debased humanity.

But Popery still wished to play her old part, to regain her lost
dominion, to reconvert the smiling land into the pestilential morass,
where she could play again her old antics.  From the period of the
Reformation in England up to the present time, she has kept her
emissaries here, individuals contemptible in intellect, it is true, but
cat-like and gliding, who, at her bidding, have endeavoured, as much as
in their power has lain, to damp and stifle every genial, honest, loyal,
and independent thought, and to reduce minds to such a state of dotage as
would enable their old Popish mother to do what she pleased with them.

And in every country, however enlightened, there are always minds
inclined to grovelling superstition—minds fond of eating dust and
swallowing clay—minds never at rest, save when prostrate before some
fellow in a surplice; and these Popish emissaries found always some weak
enough to bow down before them, astounded by their dreadful denunciations
of eternal woe and damnation to any who should refuse to believe their
Romania; but they played a poor game—the law protected the servants of
Scripture, and the priest with his beads seldom ventured to approach any
but the remnant of those of the eikonolatry—representatives of worm-eaten
houses, their debased dependents, and a few poor crazy creatures amongst
the middle classes—he played a poor game, and the labour was about to
prove almost entirely in vain, when the English legislature, in
compassion or contempt, or, yet more probably, influenced by that spirit
of toleration and kindness which is so mixed up with Protestantism,
removed almost entirely the disabilities under which Popery laboured, and
enabled it to raise its head and to speak out almost without fear.

And it did raise its head, and, though it spoke with some little fear at
first, soon discarded every relic of it; went about the land uttering its
damnation cry, gathering around it—and for doing so many thanks to it—the
favourers of priestcraft who lurked within the walls of the Church of
England; frightening with the loudness of its voice the weak, the timid,
and the ailing; perpetrating, whenever it had an opportunity, that
species of crime to which it has ever been most partial—_Deathbed
robbery_; for as it is cruel, so is it dastardly.  Yes, it went on
enlisting, plundering, and uttering its terrible threats till—till it
became, as it always does when left to itself, a fool, a very fool.  Its
plunderings might have been overlooked, and so might its insolence, had
it been common insolence, but it—, and then the roar of indignation which
arose from outraged England against the viper, the frozen viper, which it
had permitted to warm itself upon its bosom.

But thanks, Popery, you have done all that the friends of enlightenment
and religious liberty could wish; but if ever there were a set of foolish
ones to be found under heaven, surely it is the priestly rabble who came
over from Rome to direct the grand movement—so long in its getting up.

But now again the damnation cry is withdrawn, there is a subdued meekness
in your demeanour, you are now once more harmless as a lamb.  Well, we
shall see how the trick—‘the old trick’—will serve you.



THE LIST OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE
Birth—My father—Tamerlane—Ben Brain—French                         1–9
Protestants—East Anglia—Sorrow and troubles—True peace—A
beautiful child—Foreign grave—Mirrors—The Alpine
country—Emblems—Slowness of speech—The Jew—Some strange
gestures
CHAPTER TWO
Barracks and lodgings—A camp—The viper—A delicate                10–16
child—Blackberry time—_Meum_ and _tuum_—Hythe—The
Golgotha—Daneman’s skull—Superhuman stature—Stirring
times—The sea-bord
CHAPTER THREE
Pretty D---—The venerable church—The stricken                    17–26
heart—Dormant energies—The small packet—Nerves—The
books—A picture—Mountain-like billows—The
footprint—Spirit of De Foe—Reasoning powers—Terrors of
God—Heads of the dragons—High-Church clerk—A journey—My
father recalled to his regiment—The drowned country
CHAPTER FOUR
Norman Cross—Wide expanse—_Vive l’Empereur_—Unpruned             27–34
woods—Man with the bag—Froth and conceit—I beg your
pardon—Growing timid—About three o’clock—Taking one’s
ease—Cheek on the ground—King of the vipers—Frenchmen and
water
CHAPTER FIVE
The tent—Man and woman—Dark and swarthy—Manner of                35–45
speaking—Bad money—Transfixed—Faltering tone—Little
basket—High opinion—Plenty of good—Keeping guard—Tilted
cart—Rubricals—Jasper—The right sort—The horseman—John
Newton—The alarm—Gentle brothers
CHAPTER SIX
Three years—Lilly’s grammar—Proficiency—Ignorant of              46–53
figures—The school bell—Order of
succession—Persecution—What are we to do?—Northward—A
goodly scene—Haunted ground—The feats of
chivalry—Rivers—And over the brig
CHAPTER SEVEN
The Castle—A father’s inquiries—Scotch language—A                54–62
determination—Bui hin Digri—Good Scotchman—Difference of
races—Ne’er a haggis—Pugnacious people—Wha are ye,
man?—The Nor’ Loch—Gestures wild—The bicker—Wild-looking
figure
CHAPTER EIGHT
Expert climbers—The crags—Something red—The horrible             63–67
edge—David Haggart—Fine materials—Victory—Extraordinary
robber—Ruling passion
CHAPTER NINE
Napoleon—The storm—The cove—Up the country—The trembling         68–74
hand—Irish—Tough battle—Tipperary hills—Elegant
lodgings—Fair specimen
CHAPTER TEN
Protestant young gentlemen—The Greek letters—Open                75–79
chimney—Murtagh—To Paris and Salamanca—Nothing to do—To
whit, to whoo!—Christmas
CHAPTER ELEVEN
Templemore—Devil’s Mountain—No companion—Force of                80–85
circumstance—Way of the world—Ruined castle—Grim and
desolate—Donjon—My own house
CHAPTER TWELVE
A visit—Figure of a man—The dog of peace—The raw                 86–94
wound—The guardroom—Boy soldier—Person in authority—Never
solitary—Clergyman and family—Still-hunting—Fairy
man—Near sunset—Bagg—Left-handed hitter—At Swanton Morley
CHAPTER THIRTEEN
Groom and cob—Strength and symmetry—Where’s the                 95–101
saddle?—The first ride—No more fatigue—Love for
horses—The pursuit of words—Philologist and Pegasus—The
smith—What more, agrah?
CHAPTER FOURTEEN
A fine old city—Norman master-work—Lollards’ Hole—Good         102–110
blood—The Spaniard’s sword—Old retired officer—Writing to
a duke—God help the child—Nothing like Jacob—Irish
brigades—Old Sergeant Meredith—I have been
young—Idleness—The bookstall—A portrait—A banished priest
CHAPTER FIFTEEN
Monsieur Dante—Condemned musket—Sporting—Sweet                 111–117
rivulet—The Earl’s Home—The pool—The sonorous voice—What
dost thou read?—The man of peace—Of Zohar and of
Mishna—The money-changers
CHAPTER SIXTEEN
Fair of horses—Looks of respect—The fast trotter—Pair of       118–123
eyes—Strange men—Jasper, your pal—Force of blood—The
young lady with diamonds
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
The tents—Pleasant discourse—I am Pharaoh—Shifting for         124–132
one’s self—Horse-shoes—This is wonderful—Bless your
wisdom—A pretty manœuvre—Ill day to the Romans—My name is
Herne—A singular people—An original speech
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
What profession?—Not fitted for a Churchman—Erratic            133–136
course—The bitter draught—Principle of woe—Thou wouldst
be joyous—What ails you?
CHAPTER NINETEEN
Agreeable delusions—Youth—A profession—Ab Gwilym—Glorious      137–144
English law—There they pass—My dear old master—The deal
desk—The Language of the tents—Where is Morfydd?—Go
to—Only once
CHAPTER TWENTY
Silver grey—Good word for everybody—A remarkable               145–148
youth—The archdeacon—Reading the Bible
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
The eldest son—Saying of wild Finland—The critical             149–154
time—Vaunting polls—One thing wanted—A father’s
blessing—Miracle of art—The Pope’s house—The young
enthusiast—Pictures of England—Persist and wrestle—Of the
little dark man
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO
Desire for novelty—Lives of the lawless—Countenances—Old       155–162
yeoman and dame—We live near the sea—Uncouth-looking
volume—The other condition—Draoitheac—A dilemma—The
Antinomian—Lodowick Muggleton—Anders Vedel
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE
The two individuals—The long pipe—The Germans—Werther—The      163–171
female Quaker—Suicide—Gibbon—Jesus of Bethlehem—Fill your
glass—Shakespeare—English at Minden—Melancholy Swayne
Vonved—Are you happy?—Improve yourself in German
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR
The alehouse-keeper—Compassion for the rich—Old English        172–179
gentleman—How is this?—Madeira—The Greek Parr—Twenty
languages—Winter’s health—About the fight—A sporting
gentleman—Flattened nose—That pightle—The surly nod
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE
Doubts—Wise king of Jerusalem—Let me see—A thousand            180–187
years—Nothing new—The crowd—The hymn—Faith—Charles
Wesley—There he stood—Farewell, brother—Death—Wind on the
heath
CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX
The flower of the grass—Days of pugilism—The                   188–195
rendezvous—Jews—Bruisers of England—Winter,
spring—Well-earned bays—The fight—The huge black cloud—A
frame of adamant—The storm—Dukkeripens—The barouche—The
rain-gushes
CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN
My father—Premature decay—The easy-chair—A few                 196–204
questions—So you told me—A difficult language—They call
it Haik—Misused opportunities—Saul—Want of candour—Don’t
weep—Heaven forgive me—Dated from Paris—I wish he were
here—A father’s reminiscences—Vanities
CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT
My brother’s arrival—A dying father—Christ                     205–207
CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE
The greeting—Queer figure—Cheer up—The cheerful fire—The       208–211
trepidation—Let him come in
CHAPTER THIRTY
The sinister glance—Excellent correspondent—Quite              212–218
original—My system—A losing trade—Merit—Starting a
Review—What have you got?—_Dairyman’s Daughter_—Oxford
principles—How is this?
CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE
The walk—London’s Cheape—Street of the Lombards—Strange        219–225
bridge—Main arch—The roaring gulf—The boat—Cly-faking—A
comfort—No trap
CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO
The tanner—The hotel—Drinking claret—London journal—New        226–231
field—Commonplaceness—The three
individuals—Botheration—Both frank and ardent
CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE
Dine with the publisher—Religions—No animal                    232–237
food—Unprofitable discussions—principles of criticism—The
book market—Newgate lives—Goethe—German
acquirements—Moral dignity
CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR
Two volumes—Editor—Quintilian—Loose money                      238–240
CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE
Francis Ardry—Certain sharpers—Brave and                       241–245
eloquent—Opposites—Flinging the bones—In strange places—A
batch of dogs—Redoubled application
CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX
Occupations—Traduttore traditore—Ode to the Mist—Apple         246–251
and pear—Reviewing—Current literature—Oxford-like
manner—A plain story—Ill-regulated mind—Unsnuffed
candle—Dreams
CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN
My brother—Fits of crying—Mayor-elect—The committee—The        252–256
Norman arch—A word of Greek—The Church and the State—At
my own expense
CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT
Painter of the heroic—I’ll go!—A modest peep—Who is            257–260
this?—A capital Pharaoh—Disproportionably short—Imaginary
picture—About English figures
CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE
No authority whatever—Interference—Wondrous                    261–267
farrago—Brandt and Struensee—What a life!—The
hearse—Mortal relics—Great poet—Fashion and fame—A
difference—Good for nothing
CHAPTER FORTY
London Bridge—Why not?—Every heart has its own                 268–271
bitters—Wicked boys—Give me my book—A fright
CHAPTER FORTY-ONE
Decrease of the Review—Homer himself—Bread and                 272–276
cheese—Finger and thumb—Impossible to find—Something
grand—Universal mixture—Publisher
CHAPTER FORTY-TWO
Francis Ardry—That won’t do, sir—Observe my gestures—I         277–282
think you improve—Better than politics—Delightful young
Frenchwoman—A burning shame—Paunch—Voltaire—Lump of sugar
CHAPTER FORTY-THREE
Progress—Glorious John—Utterly unintelligible                  283–284
CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR
The old spot—A long history—Thou shalt not steal—No            285–291
harm—Education—Necessity—Foam on your lip—Metaphor—Fur
cap—I don’t know him
CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE
Bought and exchanged—Quite empty—A new                         292–297
firm—Bibles—Countenance of a lion—Clap of thunder—Lost
it—Clearly a right—Goddess of the Mint
CHAPTER FORTY-SIX
The pickpocket—Strange rencounter—Drag him along—A great       298–301
service—Things of importance—Philological matters—A
mother of languages
CHAPTER FORTY-SEVEN
New acquaintance—Wired cases—Bread and wine—Armenian           302–307
colonies—Learning without money—What a language—The
tide—Your foible—Learning of the Haiks—Pressing
invitation
CHAPTER FORTY-EIGHT
What to do—Strong enough—Fame and profit—Alliterative          308–311
euphony—A plan—Bagnigge Wells
CHAPTER FORTY-NINE
Singular personage—A large sum—Papa of                         312–315
Rome—Armenians—Roots of Ararat—Regular features
CHAPTER FIFTY
Wish fulfilled—Extraordinary figure—Bueno—Noah—The two         316–319
faces—I don’t blame him—Of money
CHAPTER FIFTY-ONE
The one half-crown—Merit in patience—Cementer of               320–324
friendship—Dreadful perplexity—The usual
guttural—Armenian letters—Pure helplessness
CHAPTER FIFTY-TWO
Kind of stupor—Peace of God—Divine hand—Farewell,              325–329
child—The fair—The massive edifice—The battered
tars—Lost! lost!—Good-day, gentlemen
CHAPTER FIFTY-THREE
Singular table—No money—Out of employ—My bonnet—We of the      330–338
thimble—Good wages—Wisely resolved—Strangest way in the
world—Fat gentleman—Not such another—First edition—Not
easy—Won’t close—Avella gorgio—Alarmed look
CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR
Mr. Petulengro—Rommany Rye—Lil-writers—One’s own               339–343
horn—Lawfully-earnt money—The wooded hill—A
favourite—Shop window—Much wanted
CHAPTER FIFTY-FIVE
Bread and water—Fair play—Fashionable life—Colonel B---        344–347
or Joseph Sell—The kindly glow
CHAPTER FIFTY-SIX
Considerably sobered—The power of writing—The tempter—The      348–350
hungry talent—Work concluded
CHAPTER FIFTY-SEVEN
Nervous look—The bookseller’s wife—The last                    351–354
stake—Terms—God forbid!—Will you come to tea?
CHAPTER FIFTY-EIGHT
Indisposition—A resolution—Poor equivalents—The piece of       355–358
gold—Flashing eyes—How beautiful
CHAPTER FIFTY-NINE
The milestone—Meditation—Want to get up?—Sixteen               359–362
shillings—Near-hand wheeler—All right
CHAPTER SIXTY
The still hour—A thrill—The wondrous circle—The                363–367
shepherd—Heaps and barrows—What do you mean?—The milk of
the plains—Hengist spared it
CHAPTER SIXTY-ONE
The river—The arid downs—A prospect                            368–369
CHAPTER SIXTY-TWO
The hostelry—Life uncertain—Open countenance—The grand         370–375
point—Thank you, master—A hard mother—Poor dear!—The
odds—The better country—English fashion—Landlord-looking
person
CHAPTER SIXTY-THREE
Primitive habits—Rosy-faced damsel—A pleasant moment—Suit      376–381
of black—The furtive glance—The mighty round—These
degenerate times—The newspaper—The evil chance—I must
congratulate you
CHAPTER SIXTY-FOUR
New acquaintance—Old French style—The                          382–392
portrait—Taciturnity—The evergreen tree—The dark hour—The
flash—Ancestors—A fortunate man—A posthumous
child—Antagonist ideas—The hawks—Flaws—The
pony—Irresistible impulse—Favourable crisis—Topmost
branch—Ashamed
CHAPTER SIXTY-FIVE
Maternal anxiety—The baronet—Little zest—Mr.                   393–397
Speaker!—Craving—Spirited address—Author
CHAPTER SIXTY-SIX
Trepidations—Subtle principle—Perverse imagination—Are         398–404
they mine?—Another book—How hard!—Agricultural
dinner—Incomprehensible actions—Inmost bosom—Give it
up—Rascally newspaper
CHAPTER SIXTY-SEVEN
Disturbed slumbers—The bed-post—Two wizards—What can I         405–414
do?—Real library—The Rev. Mr. Platitude—Toleration to
Dissenters—Paradox—Sword of St. Peter—Enemy to
humbug—High principles—False concord—The damsel—What
religion?—The further conversation—That would never do!
CHAPTER SIXTY-EIGHT
Elastic step—Disconsolate party—Not the season—Mend your       415–426
draught—Good ale—Crotchet—Hammer and
tongs—Schoolmaster—True Eden life—Flaming Tinman—Twice my
size—Hard at work—My poor wife—Grey Moll—A
Bible—Half-and-half—What to do—Half inclined—In no
time—On one condition only—Don’t stare—Like unto the wind
CHAPTER SIXTY-NINE
Effects of corn—One night longer—The hoofs—A stumble—Are       427–434
you hurt?—What a difference—Drowsy—Maze of
bushes—Housekeeping—Sticks and furze—The driftway—An
account of stock
CHAPTER SEVENTY
New profession—Beautiful night—Jupiter—Sharp and               435–442
shrill—Rommany chi—All alone—Three-and-sixpence—What is
Rommany?—Be civil—Parraco tute—Slight start—Grateful—The
rustling
CHAPTER SEVENTY-ONE
Friend of Slingsby—All quiet—Danger—The two                    443–454
cakes—Children in the wood—Don’t be angry—In deep
thought—Temples throbbing—Deadly sick—Another blow—No
answer—How old are you?—Play and sacrament—Heavy
heart—Song of poison—The drow of gypsies—The dog—Of Ely’s
church—Get up, bebee—The vehicle—Can you speak?—The oil
CHAPTER SEVENTY-TWO
Desired effect—The three oaks—Winifred—Things of               455–460
time—With God’s will—The preacher—Creature
comforts—Croesaw—Welsh and English—Chester
CHAPTER SEVENTY-THREE
Morning hymn—Much alone—John Bunyan—Beholden to                461–468
nobody—Sixty-five—Sober greeting—Early Sabbaths—Finny
brood—The porch—No fortune-telling—The master’s
niece—Doing good—The groans and voices—Pechod Ysprydd
Glan
CHAPTER SEVENTY-FOUR
The following day—Pride—Thriving trade—Tylwyth Teg—About       469–473
Ellis Wyn—Sleeping bard—The incalculable good—Fearful
agony—The tale
CHAPTER SEVENTY-FIVE
Taking a cup—Getting to heaven—After breakfast—Wooden          474–480
gallery—Mechanical habit—Reserved and gloomy—Last words—A
long time—From the clouds—Momentary chill—Pleasing
anticipation
CHAPTER SEVENTY-SIX
Hasty farewell—Lofty rock—Wrestlings of Jacob—No               481–490
rest—Ways of Providence—Two females—Foot of the
Cross—Enemy of souls—Perplexed—Lucky
hour—Valetudinarian—Methodists—Fervent in your prayer—You
Saxons—Weak creatures—Very agreeable—Almost
happy—Kindness and solicitude
CHAPTER SEVENTY-SEVEN
Getting late—Seven years old—Chastening—Go                     491–494
forth—London—Same eyes—Common occurrence
CHAPTER SEVENTY-EIGHT
Low and calm—Much better—The blessed effect                    495–497
CHAPTER SEVENTY-NINE
Deep interest—Goodly country—Two mansions—Welshman’s           498–504
Candle—Beautiful universe—Godly discourse—Fine
church—Points of doctrine—Strange adventures—The
Pontiff—Evil spirit
CHAPTER EIGHTY
The border—Thank you both—Pipe and fiddle                      505–507
CHAPTER EIGHTY-ONE
At a funeral—Two days ago—Very coolly—Roman woman—Well         508–517
and hearty—Somewhat dreary—Plum pudding—Roman
fashion—Quite different—The dark lane—Beyond time—Fine
fellow—Like a wild cat—Pleasant enough spot—No gloves
CHAPTER EIGHTY-TWO
Offence and defence—I’m satisfied—Fond of                      518–520
solitude—Possession of property—Winding path
CHAPTER EIGHTY-THREE
Highly poetical—Volundr—Grecian mythology—Making a             521–525
petul—Spite of dukkerin—Heaviness
CHAPTER EIGHTY-FOUR
Several causes—Frogs and eftes—Gloom and twilight—What         526–531
should I do?—‘Our Father’—Fellow-men—What a
mercy!—History of Saul—Pitch dark
CHAPTER EIGHTY-FIVE
Free and independent—I don’t see why—Oats—A                    532–544
noise—Unwelcome visitors—What’s the matter?—Good-day to
ye—The tall girl—Dovrefeld—Blow on the face—Civil
enough—What’s this?—Vulgar woman—Hands off—Gasping for
breath—Long Melford—A pretty manœuvre—A long
draught—Animation—It won’t do—Nomalice—Bad people
CHAPTER EIGHTY-SIX
At tea—Vapours—Of Isopel Berners—So softly and                 545–549
kindly—Sweet pretty creature—Bread and water—Truth and
constancy—Very strangely
CHAPTER EIGHTY-SEVEN
Hubbub of voices—No offence—The guests                         550–551
CHAPTER EIGHTY-EIGHT
A Radical—Simple-looking man—Church of England—The             552–561
President—Aristocracy—Gin and water—Mending the
roads—Persecuting Church—Simon de Montfort—Broken
bells—Get up—Not for the Pope—Quay of New York—Mumpers’
Dingle—No wish to fight—First draught—Half a crown broke
CHAPTER EIGHTY-NINE
The dingle—Give them ale—Not over                              562–567
complimentary—America—Many people—Washington—Promiscuous
company—Language of the roads—The old women—Some
numerals—The man in black
CHAPTER NINETY
Buona sera—Rather apprehensive—The steep bank—Lovely           568–575
virgin—Hospitality—Tory minister—Custom of the
country—Sneering smile—Wandering Zigan—Gypsies’
cloaks—Certain faculty—Acute answer—Various
ways—Addio—The best Hollands
CHAPTER NINETY-ONE
Excursions—Adventurous English—Opaque forests                  576–577
CHAPTER NINETY-TWO
The landlord—Rather too old—Without a                          578–583
shilling—Reputation—A fortnight ago—Liquids—Irrational
beings—Parliament cove—My brewer
CHAPTER NINETY-THREE
Another visit—Clever man—Another statue                        584–586
CHAPTER NINETY-FOUR
Prerogative—Feeling of gratitude—A long                        587–601
history—Alliterative style—Advantageous specimen—Jesuit
benefice—Not sufficient—Queen Stork’s tragedy—Good
sense—Grandeur and gentility—Ironmonger’s daughter—Clan
Mac-Sycophant—Lickspittles—A curiosity—Newspaper
editors—Charles the Simple—High-flying
ditty—Dissenters—Lower classes—Priestley’s
house—Ancestors—Austin—Renovating glass—Money—Quite
original
CHAPTER NINETY-FIVE
Wooded retreat—Fresh shoes—Wood fire—Ash, when                 602–610
green—Queen of China—Cleverest
people—Declensions—Armenian—Thunder—Deep olive—What do
you mean?—Bushes—Wood pigeon—Old Göthe
CHAPTER NINETY-SIX
A shout—A fireball—See to the horses—Passing away—Gap in       611–616
the hedge—On three wheels—Why do you stop?—No craven
heart—The cordial—Bags
CHAPTER NINETY-SEVEN
Fire of charcoal—The new-comer—No wonder!—Not a                617–625
blacksmith—A love affair—Gretna Green—A cool
thousand—Family estates—Borough interest—Grand
education—Let us hear—Already quarrelling—Honourable
parents—Not common people
CHAPTER NINETY-EIGHT
An exordium—Fine ships—High Barbary captains—Free-born         626–639
Englishmen—Monstrous figure—Swashbuckler—The grand
coaches—The footmen—A travelling expedition—Black
Jack—Nelson’s cannon—Pharaoh’s butler—A diligence—Two
passengers—Sharking priest—Virgilio—Lessons in
Italian—Two opinions—Holy Mary—Priestly
confederates—Methodist—Like a sepulchre—All for
themselves
CHAPTER NINETY-NINE
A cloister—Half English—New acquaintance—Mixed                 640–651
liquors—Turning Papist—Purposes of charity—Foreign
religion—Melancholy—Elbowing and pushing—Outlandish
sight—The figure—I don’t care for you—Merry-andrews—One
good—Religion of my country—Fellow of spirit—A
dispute—The next morning—Proper dignity—Fetish country
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED
Nothing but gloom—Sporting character—Gouty Tory—Reformado      652–655
footman—Peroration—Good-night

THE LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


_From water-colour drawings by_ EDMUND J. SULLIVAN

‘As I read over the lives of these robbers and          _Frontispiece_
pickpockets, strange doubts began to arise in my
mind about virtue and crime’
‘Fool, indeed! . . . or I’ll forfeit the box’                 _page_ 8
‘Once I saw him standing in the middle of a dusty                   32
road’
‘A wild grimy figure of a man . . . fashioning a                    96
piece of iron’
‘There’s night and day, brother, both sweet                        186
things; sun, moon, and stars, brother, all sweet
things; there’s likewise a wind on the heath.
Life is very sweet, brother; who would wish to
die?’
‘All safe with me; I never peach, and scorns a                     224
trap; so now, dear, God bless you!’
‘I am willing to encourage merit, sir; . . . I                     240
have determined that you shall translate my book
of philosophy’
‘The bar of the gate’                                              416
Mrs. Herne                                                         512
‘The blow which I struck the Tinker’                               544
Isopel Berners                                                     560
‘The man in black’                                                 600

CHAP. ONE


BIRTH—MY FATHER—TAMERLANE—BEN BRAIN—FRENCH PROTESTANTS—EAST ANGLIA—SORROW
AND TROUBLES—TRUE PEACE—A BEAUTIFUL CHILD—FOREIGN GRAVE—MIRRORS—THE
ALPINE COUNTRY—EMBLEMS—SLOWNESS OF SPEECH—THE JEW—SOME STRANGE GESTURES

On an evening of July, in the year 18--, at East D---, a beautiful little
town in a certain district of East Anglia, I first saw the light.

My father was a Cornish man, the youngest, as I have heard him say, of
seven brothers.  He sprang from a family of gentlemen, or, as some people
would call them, gentillâtres, for they were not very wealthy; they had a
coat of arms, however, and lived on their own property at a place called
Tredinnock, which being interpreted means _the house on the hill_, which
house and the neighbouring acres had been from time immemorial in their
possession.  I mention these particulars that the reader may see at once
that I am not altogether of low and plebeian origin; the present age is
highly aristocratic, and I am convinced that the public will read my
pages with more zest from being told that I am a gentillâtre by birth
with Cornish blood {1} in my veins, of a family who lived on their own
property at a place bearing a Celtic name, signifying the house on the
hill, or more strictly the house on the _hillock_.

My father was what is generally termed a posthumous child—in other words,
the gentillâtre who begot him never had the satisfaction of invoking the
blessing of the Father of All upon his head; having departed this life
some months before the birth of his youngest son.  The boy, therefore,
never knew a father’s care; he was, however, well tended by his mother,
whose favourite he was; so much so, indeed, that his brethren, the
youngest of whom was considerably older than himself, were rather jealous
of him.  I never heard, however, that they treated him with any marked
unkindness, and it will be as well to observe here that I am by no means
well acquainted with his early history, of which, indeed, as I am not
writing his life, it is not necessary to say much.  Shortly after his
mother’s death, which occurred when he was eighteen, he adopted the
profession of arms, which he followed during the remainder of his life,
and in which, had circumstances permitted, he would probably have shone
amongst the best.  By nature he was cool and collected, slow to anger,
though perfectly fearless, patient of control, of great strength; and, to
crown all, a proper man with his hands.

With far inferior qualifications many a man has become a field-marshal or
general; similar ones made Tamerlane, who was not a gentillâtre, but the
son of a blacksmith, emperor of one-third of the world; but the race is
not always for the swift, nor the battle for the strong, indeed I ought
rather to say very seldom; certain it is, that my father, with all his
high military qualifications, never became emperor, field-marshal, or
even general: indeed, he had never an opportunity of distinguishing
himself save in one battle, and that took place neither in Flanders,
Egypt, nor on the banks of the Indus or Oxus, but in Hyde Park.

Smile not, gentle reader, many a battle has been fought in Hyde Park, in
which as much skill, science, and bravery have been displayed as ever
achieved a victory in Flanders or by the Indus.  In such a combat as that
to which I allude, I opine that even Wellington or Napoleon would have
been heartily glad to cry for quarter ere the lapse of five minutes, and
even the Blacksmith Tartar would, perhaps, have shrunk from the opponent
with whom, after having had a dispute with him, my father engaged in
single combat for one hour, at the end of which time the champions shook
hands and retired, each having experienced quite enough of the other’s
prowess.  The name of my father’s antagonist was Brain.

What! still a smile? did you never hear that name before?  I cannot help
it!  Honour to Brain, who four months after the event which I have now
narrated was champion of England, having conquered the heroic Johnson.
Honour to Brain, who, at the end of other four months, worn out by the
dreadful blows which he had received in his manly combats, expired in the
arms of my father, who read the Bible to him in his latter moments—Big
Ben Brain.

You no longer smile, even _you_ have heard of Big Ben.

I have already hinted that my father never rose to any very exalted rank
in his profession, notwithstanding his prowess and other qualifications.
After serving for many years in the line, he at last entered as captain
in the militia regiment of the Earl of ---, at that period just raised,
and to which he was sent by the Duke of York to instruct the young levies
in military manœuvres and discipline; and in this mission I believe he
perfectly succeeded, competent judges having assured me that the regiment
in question soon came by his means to be considered as one of the most
brilliant in the service, and inferior to no regiment of the line in
appearance or discipline.

As the headquarters of this corps were at D--- the duties of my father
not unfrequently carried him to that place, and it was on one of these
occasions that he became acquainted with a young person of the
neighbourhood, for whom he formed an attachment, which was returned; and
this young person was my mother.

She was descended from a family of French Protestants, natives of Caen,
who were obliged to leave their native country when old Louis, at the
instigation of the Pope, thought fit to revoke the Edict of Nantes: their
name was Petrement, and I have reason for believing that they were people
of some consideration; that they were noble hearts, and good Christians,
they gave sufficient proof in scorning to bow the knee to the tyranny of
Rome.  So they left beautiful Normandy for their faith’s sake, and with a
few louis d’ors in their purse, a Bible in the vulgar tongue, and a
couple of old swords, which, if report be true, had done service in the
Huguenot wars, they crossed the sea to the isle of civil peace and
religious liberty, and established themselves in East Anglia.

And many other Huguenot families bent their steps thither, and devoted
themselves to agriculture or the mechanical arts; and in the venerable
old city, the capital of the province, in the northern shadow of the
Castle of De Burgh, the exiles built for themselves a church where they
praised God in the French tongue, and to which, at particular seasons of
the year, they were in the habit of flocking from country and from town
to sing—

‘Thou hast provided for us a goodly earth; thou waterest her furrows,
thou sendest rain into the little valleys thereof, thou makest it soft
with the drops of rain, and blessest the increase of it.’

I have been told that in her younger days my mother was strikingly
handsome; this I can easily believe: I never knew her in her youth, for
though she was very young when she married my father (who was her senior
by many years), she had attained the middle age before I was born, no
children having been vouchsafed to my parents in the early stages of
their union.  Yet even at the present day, now that years threescore and
ten have passed over her head, attended with sorrow and troubles
manifold, poorly chequered with scanty joys, can I look on that
countenance and doubt that at one time beauty decked it as with a
glorious garment?  Hail to thee, my parent! as thou sittest there, in thy
widow’s weeds, in the dusky parlour in the house overgrown with the
lustrous ivy of the sister isle, the solitary house at the end of the
retired court shaded by lofty poplars.  Hail to thee, dame of the oval
face, olive complexion, and Grecian forehead; by thy table seated with
the mighty volume of the good Bishop Hopkins spread out before thee;
there is peace in thy countenance, my mother; it is not worldly peace,
however, not the deceitful peace which lulls to bewitching slumbers, and
from which, let us pray, humbly pray, that every sinner may be roused in
time to implore mercy not in vain!  Thine is the peace of the righteous,
my mother, of those to whom no sin can be imputed, the score of whose
misdeeds has been long since washed away by the blood of atonement, which
imputeth righteousness to those who trust in it.  It was not always thus,
my mother; a time was, when the cares, pomps, and vanities of this world
agitated thee too much; but that time is gone by, another and a better
has succeeded; there is peace now on thy countenance, the true peace;
peace around thee, too, in thy solitary dwelling, sounds of peace, the
cheerful hum of the kettle and the purring of the immense angola, which
stares up at thee from its settle with its almost human eyes.

No more earthly cares and affections now, my mother!  Yes, one.  Why dost
thou suddenly raise thy dark and still brilliant eye from the volume with
a somewhat startled glance?  What noise is that in the distant street?
Merely the noise of a hoof; a sound common enough: it draws nearer,
nearer, and now it stops before thy gate.  Singular!  And now there is a
pause, a long pause.  Ha! thou hearest something—a footstep; a swift but
heavy footstep! thou risest, thou tremblest, there is a hand on the pin
of the outer door, there is some one in the vestibule, and now the door
of thy apartment opens, there is a reflection on the mirror behind thee,
a travelling hat, a grey head and sunburnt face.  My dearest Son!—My
darling Mother!

Yes, mother, thou didst recognise in the distant street the hoof-tramp of
the wanderer’s horse.

I was not the only child of my parents; I had a brother some three years
older than myself.  He was a beautiful child; one of those occasionally
seen in England, and in England alone; a rosy, angelic face, blue eyes,
and light chestnut hair; it was not exactly an Anglo-Saxon countenance,
in which, by the bye, there is generally a cast of loutishness and
stupidity; it partook, to a certain extent, of the Celtic character,
particularly in the fire and vivacity which illumined it; his face was
the mirror of his mind; perhaps no disposition more amiable was ever
found amongst the children of Adam, united, however, with no
inconsiderable portion of high and dauntless spirit.  So great was his
beauty in infancy, that people, especially those of the poorer classes,
would follow the nurse who carried him about in order to look at and
bless his lovely face.  At the age of three months an attempt was made to
snatch him from his mother’s arms in the streets of London, at the moment
she was about to enter a coach; indeed, his appearance seemed to operate
so powerfully upon every person who beheld him, that my parents were
under continual apprehension of losing him; his beauty, however, was
perhaps surpassed by the quickness of his parts.  He mastered his letters
in a few hours, and in a day or two could decipher the names of people on
the doors of houses and over the shop-windows.

As he grew up, his personal appearance became less prepossessing, his
quickness and cleverness, however, rather increased; and I may say of
him, that with respect to everything which he took in hand he did it
better and more speedily than any other person.  Perhaps it will be asked
here, what became of him?  Alas! alas! his was an early and a foreign
grave.  As I have said before, the race is not always for the swift, nor
the battle for the strong.

And now, doubtless, after the above portrait of my brother, painted in
the very best style of Rubens, the reader will conceive himself justified
in expecting a full-length one of myself, as a child, for as to my
present appearance, I suppose he will be tolerably content with that
flitting glimpse in the mirror.  But he must excuse me; I have no
intention of drawing a portrait of myself in childhood; indeed it would
be difficult, for at that time I never looked into mirrors.  No attempts,
however, were ever made to steal me in my infancy, and I never heard that
my parents entertained the slightest apprehension of losing me by the
hands of kidnappers, though I remember perfectly well that people were in
the habit of standing still to look at me, ay, more than at my brother;
from which premisses the reader may form any conclusion with respect to
my appearance which seemeth good unto him and reasonable.  Should he,
being a good-natured person, and always inclined to adopt the charitable
side in any doubtful point, be willing to suppose that I, too, was
eminently endowed by nature with personal graces, I tell him frankly that
I have no objection whatever to his entertaining that idea; moreover,
that I heartily thank him, and shall at all times be disposed, under
similar circumstances, to exercise the same species of charity towards
himself.

With respect to my mind and its qualities I shall be more explicit; for,
were I to maintain much reserve on this point, many things which appear
in these memoirs would be highly mysterious to the reader, indeed
incomprehensible.  Perhaps no two individuals were ever more unlike in
mind and disposition than my brother and myself: as light is opposed to
darkness, so was that happy, brilliant, cheerful child to the sad and
melancholy being who sprang from the same stock as himself, and was
nurtured by the same milk.

Once, when travelling in an Alpine country, I arrived at a considerable
elevation; I saw in the distance, far below, a beautiful stream hastening
to the ocean, its rapid waters here sparkling in the sunshine, and there
tumbling merrily in cascades.  On its banks were vineyards and cheerful
villages; close to where I stood, in a granite basin with steep and
precipitous sides, slumbered a deep, dark lagoon, shaded by black pines
cypresses, and yews.  It was a wild, savage spot, strange and singular;
ravens hovered above the pines, filling the air with their uncouth notes,
pies chattered, and I heard the cry of an eagle from a neighbouring peak;
there lay the lake, the dark, solitary, and almost inaccessible lake;
gloomy shadows were upon it, which, strangely modified, as gusts of wind
agitated the surface, occasionally assumed the shape of monsters.  So I
stood on the Alpine elevation, and looked now on the gay distant river,
and now at the dark granite-encircled lake close beside me in the lone
solitude, and I thought of my brother and myself.  I am no moraliser; but
the gay and rapid river, and the dark and silent lake, were, of a verity,
no bad emblems of us two.

                         [Picture: Fool indeed!]

So far from being quick and clever like my brother, and able to rival the
literary feat which I have recorded of him, many years elapsed before I
was able to understand the nature of letters, or to connect them.  A
lover of nooks and retired corners, I was as a child in the habit of
fleeing from society, and of sitting for hours together with my head on
my breast.  What I was thinking about, it would be difficult to say at
this distance of time; I remember perfectly well, however, being ever
conscious of a peculiar heaviness within me, and at times of a strange
sensation of fear, which occasionally amounted to horror, and for which I
could assign no real cause whatever.

By nature slow of speech, I took no pleasure in conversation, nor in
hearing the voices of my fellow-creatures.  When people addressed me, I
not unfrequently, especially if they were strangers, turned away my head
from them, and if they persisted in their notice burst into tears, which
singularity of behaviour by no means tended to dispose people in my
favour.  I was as much disliked as my brother was deservedly beloved and
admired.  My parents, it is true, were always kind to me; and my brother,
who was good nature itself, was continually lavishing upon me every mark
of affection.

There was, however, one individual who, in the days of my childhood, was
disposed to form a favourable opinion of me.  One day, a Jew—I have quite
forgotten the circumstance, but I was long subsequently informed of
it—one day a travelling Jew knocked at the door of a farmhouse in which
we had taken apartments; I was near at hand sitting in the bright
sunshine, drawing strange lines on the dust with my fingers, an ape and
dog were my companions; the Jew looked at me and asked me some questions,
to which, though I was quite able to speak, I returned no answer.  On the
door being opened, the Jew, after a few words, probably relating to
pedlery, demanded who the child was, sitting in the sun; the maid replied
that I was her mistress’s youngest son, a child weak _here_, pointing to
her forehead.  The Jew looked at me again, and then said: ‘’Pon my
conscience, my dear, I believe that you must be troubled there yourself
to tell me any such thing.  It is not my habit to speak to children,
inasmuch as I hate them because they often follow me and fling stones
after me; but I no sooner looked at that child than I was forced to speak
to it—his not answering me shows his sense, for it has never been the
custom of the wise to fling away their words in indifferent talk and
conversation; the child is a sweet child, and has all the look of one of
our people’s children.  Fool, indeed! did I not see his eyes sparkle just
now when the monkey seized the dog by the ear?—they shone like my own
diamonds—does your good lady want any—real and fine?  Were it not for
what you tell me, I should say it was a prophet’s child.  Fool, indeed!
he can write already, or I’ll forfeit the box which I carry on my back,
and for which I should be loth to take two hundred pounds!’  He then
leaned forward to inspect the lines which I had traced.  All of a sudden
he started back, and grew white as a sheet; then, taking off his hat, he
made some strange gestures to me, cringing, chattering, and showing his
teeth, and shortly departed, muttering something about ‘holy letters,’
and talking to himself in a strange tongue.  The words of the Jew were in
due course of time reported to my mother, who treasured them in her
heart, and from that moment began to entertain brighter hopes of her
youngest born than she had ever before ventured to foster.



CHAPTER TWO


BARRACKS AND LODGINGS—A CAMP—THE VIPER—A DELICATE CHILD—BLACKBERRY
TIME—_MEUM_ AND _TUUM_—HYTHE—THE GOLGOTHA—DANEMAN’S SKULL—SUPERHUMAN
STATURE—STIRRING TIMES—THE SEA-BORD

I have been a wanderer the greater part of my life; indeed I remember
only two periods, and these by no means lengthy, when I was, strictly
speaking, stationary.  I was a soldier’s son, and as the means of my
father were by no means sufficient to support two establishments, his
family invariably attended him wherever he went, so that from my infancy
I was accustomed to travelling and wandering, and looked upon a monthly
change of scene and residence as a matter of course.  Sometimes we lived
in barracks, sometimes in lodgings, but generally in the former, always
eschewing the latter from motives of economy, save when the barracks were
inconvenient and uncomfortable; and they must have been highly so indeed,
to have discouraged us from entering them; for though we were gentry
(pray bear that in mind, gentle reader), gentry by birth, and
incontestably so by my father’s bearing the commission of good old George
the Third, we were not _fine gentry_, but people who could put up with as
much as any genteel Scotch family who find it convenient to live on a
third floor in London, or on a sixth at Edinburgh or Glasgow.  It was not
a little that could discourage us: we once lived within the canvas walls
of a camp, at a place called Pett, in Sussex; and I believe it was at
this place that occurred the first circumstance, or adventure, call it
which you will, that I can remember in connection with myself: it was a
strange one, and I will relate it.

It happened that my brother and myself were playing one evening in a
sandy lane, in the neighbourhood of this Pett camp; our mother was at a
slight distance.  All of a sudden, a bright yellow, and, to my infantine
eye, beautiful and glorious, object made its appearance at the top of the
bank from between the thick quickset, and, gliding down, began to move
across the lane to the other side, like a line of golden light.  Uttering
a cry of pleasure, I sprang forward, and seized it nearly by the middle.
A strange sensation of numbing coldness seemed to pervade my whole arm,
which surprised me the more, as the object to the eye appeared so warm
and sunlike.  I did not drop it, however, but, holding it up, looked at
it intently, as its head dangled about a foot from my hand.  It made no
resistance; I felt not even the slightest struggle; but now my brother
began to scream and shriek like one possessed, ‘O mother, mother!’ said
he, ‘the viper!—my brother has a viper in his hand!’  He then, like one
frantic, made an effort to snatch the creature away from me.  The viper
now hissed amain, and raised its head, in which were eyes like hot coals,
menacing, not myself, but my brother.  I dropped my captive, for I saw my
mother running towards me; and the reptile, after standing for a moment
nearly erect, and still hissing furiously, made off, and disappeared.
The whole scene is now before me, as vividly as if it occurred
yesterday—the gorgeous viper, my poor dear frantic brother, my agitated
parent, and a frightened hen clucking under the bushes—and yet I was not
three years old.

It is my firm belief that certain individuals possess an inherent power,
or fascination, over certain creatures, otherwise I should be unable to
account for many feats which I have witnessed, and, indeed, borne a share
in, connected with the taming of brutes and reptiles.  I have known a
savage and vicious mare, whose stall it was dangerous to approach, even
when bearing provender, welcome, nevertheless, with every appearance of
pleasure, an uncouth, wiry-headed man, with a frightfully seamed face,
and an iron hook supplying the place of his right hand, one whom the
animal had never seen before, playfully bite his hair, and cover his face
with gentle and endearing kisses; and I have already stated how a viper
would permit, without resentment, one child to take it up in his hand,
whilst it showed its dislike to the approach of another by the fiercest
hissings.  Philosophy can explain many strange things, but there are some
which are a far pitch above her, and this is one.

I should scarcely relate another circumstance which occurred about this
time but for a singular effect which it produced upon my constitution.
Up to this period I had been rather a delicate child; whereas, almost
immediately after the occurrence to which I allude, I became both hale
and vigorous, to the great astonishment of my parents, who naturally
enough expected that it would produce quite a contrary effect.

It happened that my brother and myself were disporting ourselves in
certain fields near the good town of Canterbury.  A female servant had
attended us, in order to take care that we came to no mischief: she,
however, it seems, had matters of her own to attend to, and, allowing us
to go where we listed, remained in one corner of a field, in earnest
conversation with a red-coated dragoon.  Now it chanced to be blackberry
time, and the two children wandered under the hedges, peering anxiously
among them in quest of that trash so grateful to urchins of their degree.
We did not find much of it, however, and were soon separated in the
pursuit.  All at once I stood still, and could scarcely believe my eyes.
I had come to a spot where, almost covering the hedge, hung clusters of
what seemed fruit—deliciously-tempting fruit—something resembling grapes
of various colours, green, red, and purple.  Dear me, thought I, how
fortunate! yet have I a right to gather it? is it mine? for the
observance of the law of _meum_ and _tuum_ had early been impressed upon
my mind, and I entertained, even at that tender age, the utmost horror
for theft; so I stood staring at the variegated clusters, in doubt as to
what I should do.  I know not how I argued the matter in my mind; the
temptation, however, was at last too strong for me, so I stretched forth
my hand and ate.  I remember, perfectly well, that the taste of this
strange fruit was by no means so pleasant as the appearance; but the idea
of eating fruit was sufficient for a child, and, after all, the flavour
was much superior to that of sour apples, so I ate voraciously.  How long
I continued eating I scarcely know.  One thing is certain, that I never
left the field as I entered it, being carried home in the arms of the
dragoon in strong convulsions, in which I continued for several hours.
About midnight I awoke, as if from a troubled sleep, and beheld my
parents bending over my couch, whilst the regimental surgeon, with a
candle in his hand, stood nigh, the light feebly reflected on the
whitewashed walls of the barrack-room.

Another circumstance connected with my infancy, and I have done.  I need
offer no apology for relating it, as it subsequently exercised
considerable influence over my pursuits.  We were, if I remember right,
in the vicinity of a place called Hythe, in Kent.  One sweet evening, in
the latter part of summer, our mother took her two little boys by the
hand, for a wander about the fields.  In the course of our stroll we came
to the village church; an old, grey-headed sexton stood in the porch,
who, perceiving that we were strangers, invited us to enter.  We were
presently in the interior, wandering about the aisles, looking on the
walls, and inspecting the monuments of the notable dead.  I can scarcely
state what we saw; how should I? I was a child not yet four years old,
and yet I think I remember the evening sun streaming in through a stained
window upon the dingy mahogany pulpit, and flinging a rich lustre upon
the faded tints of an ancient banner.  And now once more we were outside
the building, where, against the wall, stood a low-eaved pent-house, into
which we looked.  It was half filled with substances of some kind, which
at first looked like large grey stones.  The greater part were lying in
layers; some, however, were seen in confused and mouldering heaps, and
two or three, which had perhaps rolled down from the rest, lay separately
on the floor.  ‘Skulls, madam,’ said the sexton; ‘skulls of the old
Danes!  Long ago they came pirating into these parts; and then there
chanced a mighty shipwreck, for God was angry with them, and He sunk
them; and their skulls, as they came ashore, were placed here as a
memorial.  There were many more when I was young, but now they are fast
disappearing.  Some of them must have belonged to strange fellows, madam.
Only see that one; why, the two young gentry can scarcely lift it!’  And,
indeed, my brother and myself had entered the Golgotha, and commenced
handling these grim relics of mortality.  One enormous skull, lying in a
corner, had fixed our attention, and we had drawn it forth.  Spirit of
eld, what a skull was yon!

I still seem to see it, the huge grim thing; many of the others were
large, strikingly so, and appeared fully to justify the old man’s
conclusion that their owners must have been strange fellows; but,
compared with this mighty mass of bone, they looked small and diminutive
like those of pigmies; it must have belonged to a giant, one of those
red-haired warriors of whose strength and stature such wondrous tales are
told in the ancient chronicles of the north, and whose grave-hills, when
ransacked, occasionally reveal secrets which fill the minds of puny
moderns with astonishment and awe.  Reader, have you ever pored days and
nights over the pages of Snorro?—probably not, for he wrote in a language
which few of the present day understand, and few would be tempted to read
him tamed down by Latin dragomans.  A brave old book is that of Snorro,
containing the histories and adventures of old northern kings and
champions, who seemed to have been quite different men, if we may judge
from the feats which they performed, from those of these days; one of the
best of his histories is that which describes the life of Harald
Haardraade, who, after manifold adventures by land and sea, now a pirate,
now a mercenary of the Greek emperor, became king of Norway, and
eventually perished at the battle of Stamford Bridge, whilst engaged in a
gallant onslaught upon England.  Now, I have often thought that the old
Kemp, whose mouldering skull in the Golgotha of Hythe my brother and
myself could scarcely lift, must have resembled in one respect at least
this Harald, whom Snorro describes as a great and wise ruler and a
determined leader, dangerous in battle, of fair presence and measuring in
height {14} just _five ells_, neither more nor less.

I never forgot the Daneman’s skull; like the apparition of the viper in
the sandy lane, it dwelt in the mind of the boy, affording copious food
for the exercise of imagination.  From that moment with the name of Dane
were associated strange ideas of strength, daring, and superhuman
stature; and an undefinable curiosity for all that is connected with the
Danish race began to pervade me; and if, long after, when I became a
student I devoted myself with peculiar zest to Danish lore and the
acquirement of the old Norse tongue and its dialects, I can only explain
the matter by the early impression received at Hythe from the tale of the
old sexton, beneath the pent-house, and the sight of the Danish skull.

And thus we went on straying from place to place, at Hythe to-day, and
perhaps within a week looking out from our hostel-window upon the streets
of old Winchester, our motions ever in accordance with the ‘route’ of the
regiment, so habituated to change of scene that it had become almost
necessary to our existence.  Pleasant were these days of my early
boyhood; and a melancholy pleasure steals over me as I recall them.
Those were stirring times of which I am speaking, and there was much
passing around me calculated to captivate the imagination.  The dreadful
struggle which so long convulsed Europe, and in which England bore so
prominent a part, was then at its hottest; we were at war, and
determination and enthusiasm shone in every face; man, woman, and child
were eager to fight the Frank, the hereditary, but, thank God, never
dreaded enemy of the Anglo-Saxon race.  ‘Love your country and beat the
French, and then never mind what happens,’ was the cry of entire England.
Oh, those were days of power, gallant days, bustling days, worth the
bravest days of chivalry at least; tall battalions of native warriors
were marching through the land; there was the glitter of the bayonet and
the gleam of the sabre; the shrill squeak of the fife and loud rattling
of the drum were heard in the streets of country towns, and the loyal
shouts of the inhabitants greeted the soldiery on their arrival, or
cheered them at their departure.  And now let us leave the upland, and
descend to the sea-bord; there is a sight for you upon the billows!  A
dozen men-of-war are gliding majestically out of port, their long
buntings streaming from the top-gallant masts, calling on the skulking
Frenchman to come forth from his bights and bays; and what looms upon us
yonder from the fog-bank in the east? a gallant frigate towing behind her
the long low hull of a crippled privateer, which but three short days ago
had left Dieppe to skim the sea, and whose crew of ferocious hearts are
now cursing their imprudence in an English hold.  Stirring times those,
which I love to recall, for they were days of gallantry and enthusiasm,
and were moreover the days of my boyhood.



CHAPTER THREE


PRETTY D---—THE VENERABLE CHURCH—THE STRICKEN HEART—DORMANT ENERGIES—THE
SMALL PACKET—NERVES—THE BOOKS—A PICTURE—MOUNTAIN-LIKE BILLOWS—THE
FOOTPRINT—SPIRIT OF DE FOE—REASONING POWERS—TERRORS OF GOD—HEADS OF THE
DRAGONS—HIGH-CHURCH CLERK—A JOURNEY—MY FATHER RECALLED TO HIS
REGIMENT—THE DROWNED COUNTRY

And when I was between six and seven years of age we were once more at
D---, the place of my birth, whither my father had been despatched on the
recruiting service.  I have already said that it was a beautiful little
town—at least it was at the time of which I am speaking—what it is at
present I know not, for thirty years and more have elapsed since I last
trod its streets.  It will scarcely have improved, for how could it be
better than it then was?  I love to think on thee, pretty quiet D---,
thou pattern of an English country town, with thy clean but narrow
streets branching out from thy modest market-place, with thine
old-fashioned houses, with here and there a roof of venerable thatch,
with thy one half-aristocratic mansion, where resided thy Lady
Bountiful—she, the generous and kind, who loved to visit the sick,
leaning on her gold-headed cane, whilst the sleek old footman walked at a
respectful distance behind.  Pretty quiet D---, with thy venerable
church, in which moulder the mortal remains of England’s sweetest and
most pious bard.

Yes, pretty D---, I could always love thee, were it but for the sake of
him who sleeps beneath the marble slab in yonder quiet chancel.  It was
within thee that the long-oppressed bosom heaved its last sigh, and the
crushed and gentle spirit escaped from a world in which it had known
nought but sorrow.  Sorrow! do I say?  How faint a word to express the
misery of that bruised reed; misery so dark that a blind worm like myself
is occasionally tempted to exclaim, Better had the world never been
created than that one so kind, so harmless, and so mild, should have
undergone such intolerable woe!  But it is over now, for, as there is an
end of joy, so has affliction its termination.  Doubtless the All-wise
did not afflict him without a cause: who knows but within that unhappy
frame lurked vicious seeds which the sunbeams of joy and prosperity might
have called into life and vigour?  Perhaps the withering blasts of misery
nipped that which otherwise might have terminated in fruit noxious and
lamentable.  But peace to the unhappy one, he is gone to his rest; the
death-like face is no longer occasionally seen timidly and mournfully
looking for a moment through the window-pane upon thy market-place, quiet
and pretty D---; the hind in thy neighbourhood no longer at evening-fall
views, and starts as he views, the dark lathy figure moving beneath the
hazels and alders of shadowy lanes, or by the side of murmuring trout
streams, and no longer at early dawn does the sexton of the old church
reverently doff his hat as, supported by some kind friend, the
death-stricken creature totters along the church-path to that mouldering
edifice with the low roof, enclosing a spring of sanatory waters, built
and devoted to some saint, if the legend over the door be true, by the
daughter of an East Anglian king.

But to return to my own history.  I had now attained the age of six:
shall I state what intellectual progress I had been making up to this
period?  Alas! upon this point I have little to say calculated to afford
either pleasure or edification; I had increased rapidly in size and in
strength: the growth of the mind, however, had by no means corresponded
with that of the body.  It is true, I had acquired my letters, and was by
this time able to read imperfectly; but this was all: and even this poor
triumph over absolute ignorance would never have been effected but for
the unremitting attention of my parents, who, sometimes by threats,
sometimes by entreaties, endeavoured to rouse the dormant energies of my
nature, and to bend my wishes to the acquisition of the rudiments of
knowledge; but in influencing the wish lay the difficulty.  Let but the
will of a human being be turned to any particular object, and it is ten
to one that sooner or later he achieves it.  At this time I may safely
say that I harboured neither wishes nor hopes; I had as yet seen no
object calculated to call them forth, and yet I took pleasure in many
things which perhaps unfortunately were all within my sphere of
enjoyment.  I loved to look upon the heavens, and to bask in the rays of
the sun, or to sit beneath hedgerows and listen to the chirping of the
birds, indulging the while in musing and meditation as far as my very
limited circle of ideas would permit; but, unlike my brother, who was at
this time at school, and whose rapid progress in every branch of
instruction astonished and delighted his preceptors, I took no pleasure
in books, whose use, indeed, I could scarcely comprehend, and bade fair
to be as arrant a dunce as ever brought the blush of shame into the
cheeks of anxious and affectionate parents.

But the time was now at hand when the ice which had hitherto bound the
mind of the child with its benumbing power was to be thawed, and a world
of sensations and ideas awakened to which it had hitherto been an entire
stranger.  One day a young lady, an intimate acquaintance of our family,
and godmother to my brother, drove up to the house in which we dwelt; she
stayed some time conversing with my mother, and on rising to depart, she
put down on the table a small packet, exclaiming, ‘I have brought a
little present for each of the boys: the one is a History of England,
which I intend for my godson when he returns from school, the other is
. . .’—and here she said something which escaped my ear, as I sat at some
distance, moping in a corner,—‘I intend it for the youngster yonder,’
pointing to myself; she then departed, and, my mother going out shortly
after, I was left alone.

I remember for some time sitting motionless in my corner, with my eyes
bent upon the ground; at last I lifted my head and looked upon the packet
as it lay on the table.  All at once a strange sensation came over me,
such as I had never experienced before—a singular blending of curiosity,
awe, and pleasure, the remembrance of which, even at this distance of
time, produces a remarkable effect upon my nervous system.  What strange
things are the nerves—I mean those more secret and mysterious ones in
which I have some notion that the mind or soul, call it which you will,
has its habitation; how they occasionally tingle and vibrate before any
coming event closely connected with the future weal or woe of the human
being.  Such a feeling was now within me, certainly independent of what
the eye had seen or the ear had heard.  A book of some description had
been brought for me, a present by no means calculated to interest me;
what cared I for books?  I had already many into which I never looked but
from compulsion; friends, moreover, had presented me with similar things
before, which I had entirely disregarded, and what was there in this
particular book, whose very title I did not know, calculated to attract
me more than the rest? yet something within told me that my fate was
connected with the book which had been last brought; so, after looking on
the packet from my corner for a considerable time, I got up and went to
the table.

The packet was lying where it had been left—I took it up; had the
envelope, which consisted of whitish brown paper, been secured by a
string or a seal, I should not have opened it, as I should have
considered such an act almost in the light of a crime; the books,
however, had been merely folded up, and I therefore considered that there
could be no possible harm in inspecting them, more especially as I had
received no injunction to the contrary.  Perhaps there was something
unsound in this reasoning, something sophistical; but a child is
sometimes as ready as a grown-up person in finding excuses for doing that
which he is inclined to.  But whether the action was right or wrong, and
I am afraid it was not altogether right, I undid the packet: it contained
three books; two from their similarity seemed to be separate parts of one
and the same work; they were handsomely bound, and to them I first turned
my attention.  I opened them successively, and endeavoured to make out
their meaning; their contents, however, as far as I was able to
understand them, were by no means interesting: whoever pleases may read
these books for me, and keep them, too, into the bargain, said I to
myself.

I now took up the third book: it did not resemble the others, being
longer and considerably thicker; the binding was of dingy calf-skin.  I
opened it, and as I did so another strange thrill of pleasure shot
through my frame.  The first object on which my eyes rested was a
picture; it was exceedingly well executed, at least the scene which it
represented made a vivid impression upon me, which would hardly have been
the case had the artist not been faithful to nature.  A wild scene it
was—a heavy sea and rocky shore, with mountains in the background, above
which the moon was peering.  Not far from the shore, upon the water, was
a boat with two figures in it, one of which stood at the bow, pointing
with what I knew to be a gun at a dreadful shape in the water; fire was
flashing from the muzzle of the gun, and the monster appeared to be
transfixed.  I almost thought I heard its cry.  I remained motionless,
gazing upon the picture, scarcely daring to draw my breath, lest the new
and wondrous world should vanish of which I had now obtained a glimpse.
‘Who are those people, and what could have brought them into that strange
situation?’ I asked of myself; and now the seed of curiosity, which had
so long lain dormant, began to expand, and I vowed to myself to become
speedily acquainted with the whole history of the people in the boat.
After looking on the picture till every mark and line in it were familiar
to me, I turned over various leaves till I came to another engraving; a
new source of wonder—a low sandy beach on which the furious sea was
breaking in mountain-like billows; cloud and rack deformed the firmament,
which wore a dull and leaden-like hue; gulls and other aquatic fowls were
toppling upon the blast, or skimming over the tops of the maddening
waves—‘Mercy upon him! he must be drowned!’ I exclaimed, as my eyes fell
upon a poor wretch who appeared to be striving to reach the shore; he was
upon his legs, but was evidently half smothered with the brine; high
above his head curled a horrible billow, as if to engulf him for ever.
‘He must be drowned! he must be drowned!’ I almost shrieked, and dropped
the book.  I soon snatched it up again, and now my eye lighted on a third
picture: again a shore, but what a sweet and lovely one, and how I wished
to be treading it; there were beautiful shells lying on the smooth white
sand, some were empty like those I had occasionally seen on marble
mantelpieces, but out of others peered the heads and bodies of wondrous
crayfish, a wood of thick green trees skirted the beach and partly shaded
it from the rays of the sun, which shone hot above, while blue waves
slightly crested with foam were gently curling against it; there was a
human figure upon the beach, wild and uncouth, clad in the skins of
animals, with a huge cap on his head, a hatchet at his girdle, and in his
hand a gun; his feet and legs were bare; he stood in an attitude of
horror and surprise; his body was bent far back, and his eyes, which
seemed starting out of his head, were fixed upon a mark on the sand—a
large distinct mark—a human footprint. . . .

Reader, is it necessary to name the book which now stood open in my hand,
and whose very prints, feeble expounders of its wondrous lines, had
produced within me emotions strange and novel?  Scarcely—for it was a
book which has exerted over the minds of Englishmen an influence
certainly greater than any other of modern times—which has been in most
people’s hands, and with the contents of which even those who cannot read
are to a certain extent acquainted—a book from which the most luxuriant
and fertile of our modern prose writers have drunk inspiration—a book,
moreover, to which, from the hardy deeds which it narrates, and the
spirit of strange and romantic enterprise which it tends to awaken,
England owes many of her astonishing discoveries both by sea and land,
and no inconsiderable part of her naval glory.

Hail to thee, spirit of De Foe!  What does not my own poor self owe to
thee?  England has better bards than either Greece or Rome, yet I could
spare them easier far than De Foe, ‘unabashed De Foe,’ as the hunchbacked
rhymer styled him.

The true chord had now been touched; a raging curiosity with respect to
the contents of the volume, whose engravings had fascinated my eye,
burned within me, and I never rested until I had fully satisfied it;
weeks succeeded weeks, months followed months, and the wondrous volume
was my only study and principal source of amusement.  For hours together
I would sit poring over a page till I had become acquainted with the
import of every line.  My progress, slow enough at first, became by
degrees more rapid, till at last, under ‘a shoulder of mutton sail,’ I
found myself cantering before a steady breeze over an ocean of
enchantment, so well pleased with my voyage that I cared not how long it
might be ere it reached its termination.

And it was in this manner that I first took to the paths of knowledge.

About this time I began to be somewhat impressed with religious feelings.
My parents were, to a certain extent, religious people; but, though they
had done their best to afford me instruction on religious points, I had
either paid no attention to what they endeavoured to communicate, or had
listened with an ear far too obtuse to derive any benefit.  But my mind
had now become awakened from the drowsy torpor in which it had lain so
long, and the reasoning powers which I possessed were no longer inactive.
Hitherto I had entertained no conception whatever of the nature and
properties of God, and with the most perfect indifference had heard the
divine name proceeding from the mouths of people—frequently, alas! on
occasions when it ought not to be employed; but I now never heard it
without a tremor, for I now knew that God was an awful and inscrutable
Being, the Maker of all things; that we were His children, and that we,
by our sins, had justly offended Him; that we were in very great peril
from His anger, not so much in this life as in another and far stranger
state of being yet to come; that we had a Saviour withal to whom it was
necessary to look for help: upon this point, however, I was yet very much
in the dark, as, indeed, were most of those with whom I was connected.
The power and terrors of God were uppermost in my thoughts; they
fascinated though they astounded me.  Twice every Sunday I was regularly
taken to the church, where, from a corner of the large spacious pew,
lined with black leather, I would fix my eyes on the dignified
High-Church rector, and the dignified High-Church clerk, and watch the
movement of their lips, from which, as they read their respective
portions of the venerable liturgy, would roll many a portentous word
descriptive of the wondrous works of the Most High.

_Rector_.  Thou didst divide the sea, through thy power: thou brakest the
heads of the dragons in the waters.

_Philoh_.  Thou smotest the heads of Leviathan in pieces: and gavest him
to be meat for the people in the wilderness.

_Rector_.  Thou broughtest out fountains, and waters out of the hard
rocks: thou driedst up mighty waters.

_Philoh_.  The day is thine, and the night is thine: thou hast prepared
the light and the sun.

Peace to your memories, dignified rector, and yet more dignified
clerk!—by this time ye are probably gone to your long homes, and your
voices are no longer heard sounding down the aisles of the venerable
church—nay, doubtless, this has already long since been the fate of him
of the sonorous ‘Amen!’—the one of the two who, with all due respect to
the rector, principally engrossed my boyish admiration—he, at least, is
scarcely now among the living!  Living! why, I have heard say that he
blew a fife—for he was a musical as well as a Christian professor—a bold
fife, to cheer the Guards and the brave Marines, as they marched with
measured step, obeying an insane command, up Bunker’s height, whilst the
rifles of the sturdy Yankees were sending the leaden hail sharp and thick
amidst the red-coated ranks; for Philoh had not always been a man of
peace, nor an exhorter to turn the other cheek to the smiter, but had
even arrived at the dignity of a halberd in his country’s service before
his six-foot form required rest, and the grey-haired veteran retired,
after a long peregrination, to his native town, to enjoy ease and
respectability on a pension of ‘eighteenpence a day’; and well did his
fellow-townsmen act, when, to increase that ease and respectability, and
with a thoughtful regard for the dignity of the good church service, they
made him clerk and precentor—the man of the tall form and of the audible
voice, which sounded loud and clear as his own Bunker fife.  Well, peace
to thee, thou fine old chap, despiser of dissenters, and hater of
papists, as became a dignified and High-Church clerk; if thou art in thy
grave, the better for thee; thou wert fitted to adorn a bygone time, when
loyalty was in vogue, and smiling content lay like a sunbeam upon the
land, but thou wouldst be sadly out of place in these days of cold
philosophic latitudinarian doctrine, universal tolerism, and
half-concealed rebellion—rare times, no doubt, for papists and
dissenters, but which would assuredly have broken the heart of the loyal
soldier of George the Third, and the dignified High-Church clerk of
pretty D---.

We passed many months at this place: nothing, however, occurred requiring
any particular notice, relating to myself, beyond what I have already
stated, and I am not writing the history of others.  At length my father
was recalled to his regiment, which at that time was stationed at a place
called Norman Cross, in Lincolnshire, or rather Huntingdonshire, at some
distance from the old town of Peterborough.  For this place he departed,
leaving my mother and myself to follow in a few days.  Our journey was a
singular one.  On the second day we reached a marshy and fenny country,
which, owing to immense quantities of rain which had lately fallen, was
completely submerged.  At a large town we got on board a kind of
passage-boat, crowded with people; it had neither sails nor oars, and
those were not the days of steam-vessels; it was a treck-schuyt, and was
drawn by horses.  Young as I was, there was much connected with this
journey which highly surprised me, and which brought to my remembrance
particular scenes described in the book which I now generally carried in
my bosom.  The country was, as I have already said, submerged—entirely
drowned—no land was visible; the trees were growing bolt upright in the
flood, whilst farmhouses and cottages were standing insulated; the horses
which drew us were up to the knees in water, and, on coming to blind
pools and ‘greedy depths,’ were not unfrequently swimming, in which case,
the boys or urchins who mounted them sometimes stood, sometimes knelt,
upon the saddle and pillions.  No accident, however, occurred either to
the quadrupeds or bipeds, who appeared respectively to be quite _au fait_
in their business, and extricated themselves with the greatest ease from
places in which Pharaoh and all his host would have gone to the bottom.
Nightfall brought us to Peterborough, and from thence we were not slow in
reaching the place of our destination.



CHAPTER FOUR


NORMAN CROSS—WIDE EXPANSE—_VIVE L’EMPEREUR_—UNPRUNED WOODS—MAN WITH THE
BAG—FROTH AND CONCEIT—I BEG YOUR PARDON—GROWING TIMID—ABOUT THREE
O’CLOCK—TAKING ONE’S EASE—CHEEK ON THE GROUND—KING OF THE
VIPERS—FRENCHMEN & WATER

And a strange place it was, this Norman Cross, and, at the time of which
I am speaking, a sad cross to many a Norman, being what was then styled a
French prison, that is, a receptacle for captives made in the French war.
It consisted, if I remember right, of some five or six casernes, very
long, and immensely high; each standing isolated from the rest, upon a
spot of ground which might average ten acres, and which was fenced round
with lofty palisades, the whole being compassed about by a towering wall,
beneath which, at intervals, on both sides, sentinels were stationed,
whilst outside, upon the field, stood commodious wooden barracks, capable
of containing two regiments of infantry, intended to serve as guards upon
the captives.  Such was the station or prison at Norman Cross, where some
six thousand French and other foreigners, followers of the grand
Corsican, were now immured.

What a strange appearance had those mighty casernes, with their blank
blind walls, without windows or grating, and their slanting roofs, out of
which, through orifices where the tiles had been removed, would be
protruded dozens of grim heads, feasting their prison-sick eyes on the
wide expanse of country unfolded from that airy height.  Ah! there was
much misery in those casernes; and from those roofs, doubtless, many a
wistful look was turned in the direction of lovely France.  Much had the
poor inmates to endure, and much to complain of, to the disgrace of
England be it said—of England, in general so kind and bountiful.  Rations
of carrion meat, and bread from which I have seen the very hounds
occasionally turn away, were unworthy entertainment even for the most
ruffian enemy, when helpless and a captive; and such, alas! was the fare
in those casernes.  And then, those visits, or rather ruthless inroads,
called in the slang of the place ‘strawplait-hunts,’ when in pursuit of a
contraband article, which the prisoners, in order to procure themselves a
few of the necessaries and comforts of existence, were in the habit of
making, red-coated battalions were marched into the prisons, who, with
the bayonet’s point, carried havoc and ruin into every poor convenience
which ingenious wretchedness had been endeavouring to raise around it;
and then the triumphant exit with the miserable booty; and, worst of all,
the accursed bonfire, on the barrack parade, of the plait contraband,
beneath the view of the glaring eyeballs from those lofty roofs, amidst
the hurrahs of the troops, frequently drowned in the curses poured down
from above like a tempest-shower or in the terrific war-whoop of ‘_Vive
l’Empereur_!’

It was midsummer when we arrived at this place, and the weather, which
had for a long time been wet and gloomy, now became bright and glorious;
I was subjected to but little control, and passed my time pleasantly
enough, principally in wandering about the neighbouring country.  It was
flat and somewhat fenny, a district more of pasture than agriculture, and
not very thickly inhabited.  I soon became well acquainted with it.  At
the distance of two miles from the station was a large lake, styled in
the dialect of the country ‘a mere,’ about whose borders tall reeds were
growing in abundance, this was a frequent haunt of mine; but my favourite
place of resort was a wild sequestered spot at a somewhat greater
distance.  Here, surrounded with woods and thick groves, was the seat of
some ancient family, deserted by the proprietor, and only inhabited by a
rustic servant or two.  A place more solitary and wild could scarcely be
imagined; the garden and walks were overgrown with weeds and briers, and
the unpruned woods were so tangled as to be almost impervious.  About
this domain I would wander till overtaken by fatigue, and then I would
sit down with my back against some beech, elm, or stately alder tree,
and, taking out my book, would pass hours in a state of unmixed
enjoyment, my eyes now fixed on the wondrous pages, now glancing at the
sylvan scene around; and sometimes I would drop the book and listen to
the voice of the rooks and wild pigeons, and not unfrequently to the
croaking of multitudes of frogs from the neighbouring swamps and fens.

In going to and from this place I frequently passed a tall elderly
individual, dressed in rather a quaint fashion, with a skin cap on his
head and stout gaiters on his legs; on his shoulders hung a moderate
sized leathern sack; he seemed fond of loitering near sunny banks, and of
groping amidst furze and low scrubby bramble bushes, of which there were
plenty in the neighbourhood of Norman Cross.  Once I saw him standing in
the middle of a dusty road, looking intently at a large mark which seemed
to have been drawn across it, as if by a walking stick.  ‘He must have
been a large one,’ the old man muttered half to himself, ‘or he would not
have left such a trail, I wonder if he is near; he seems to have moved
this way.’  He then went behind some bushes which grew on the right side
of the road, and appeared to be in quest of something, moving behind the
bushes with his head downwards, and occasionally striking their roots
with his foot: at length he exclaimed, ‘Here he is!’ and forthwith I saw
him dart amongst the bushes.  There was a kind of scuffling noise, the
rustling of branches, and the crackling of dry sticks.  ‘I have him!’
said the man at last; ‘I have got him!’ and presently he made his
appearance about twenty yards down the road, holding a large viper in his
hand.  ‘What do you think of that, my boy?’ said he, as I went up to
him—‘what do you think of catching such a thing as that with the naked
hand?’  ‘What do I think?’ said I.  ‘Why, that I could do as much
myself.’  ‘You do,’ said the man, ‘do you?  Lord! how the young people in
these days are given to conceit; it did not use to be so in my time: when
I was a child, childer knew how to behave themselves; but the childer of
these days are full of conceit, full of froth, like the mouth of this
viper’; and with his forefinger and thumb he squeezed a considerable
quantity of foam from the jaws of the viper down upon the road.  ‘The
childer of these days are a generation of—God forgive me, what was I
about to say?’ said the old man; and opening his bag he thrust the
reptile into it, which appeared far from empty.  I passed on.  As I was
returning, towards the evening, I overtook the old man, who was wending
in the same direction.  ‘Good evening to you, sir,’ said I, taking off a
cap which I wore on my head.  ‘Good evening,’ said the old man; and then,
looking at me, ‘How’s this?’ said he, ‘you aren’t, sure, the child I met
in the morning?’  ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘I am; what makes you doubt it?’  ‘Why,
you were then all froth and conceit,’ said the old man, ‘and now you take
off your cap to me.’  ‘I beg your pardon,’ said I, ‘if I was frothy and
conceited; it ill becomes a child like me to be so.’  ‘That’s true,
dear,’ said the old man; ‘well, as you have begged my pardon, I truly
forgive you.’  ‘Thank you,’ said I; ‘have you caught any more of those
things?’  ‘Only four or five,’ said the old man; ‘they are getting
scarce, though this used to be a great neighbourhood for them.’  ‘And
what do you do with them?’ said I; ‘do you carry them home and play with
them?’  ‘I sometimes play with one or two that I tame,’ said the old man;
‘but I hunt them mostly for the fat which they contain, out of which I
make unguents which are good for various sore troubles, especially for
the rheumatism.’  ‘And do you get your living by hunting these
creatures?’ I demanded.  ‘Not altogether,’ said the old man; ‘besides
being a viper-hunter, I am what they call a herbalist, one who knows the
virtue of particular herbs; I gather them at the proper season, to make
medicines with for the sick.’  ‘And do you live in the neighbourhood?’ I
demanded.  ‘You seem very fond of asking questions, child.  No, I do not
live in this neighbourhood in particular, I travel about; I have not been
in this neighbourhood till lately for some years.’

From this time the old man and myself formed an acquaintance; I often
accompanied him in his wanderings about the neighbourhood, and, on two or
three occasions, assisted him in catching the reptiles which he hunted.
He generally carried a viper with him which he had made quite tame, and
from which he had extracted the poisonous fangs; it would dance and
perform various kinds of tricks.  He was fond of telling me anecdotes
connected with his adventures with the reptile species.  ‘But,’ said he
one day, sighing, ‘I must shortly give up this business, I am no longer
the man I was, I am become timid, and when a person is timid in
viper-hunting, he had better leave off, as it is quite clear his virtue
is leaving him.  I got a fright some years ago, which I am quite sure I
shall never get the better of; my hand has been shaky more or less ever
since.’  ‘What frightened you?’ said I.  ‘I had better not tell you,’
said the old man, ‘or you may be frightened too, lose your virtue, and be
no longer good for the business.’  ‘I don’t care,’ said I; ‘I don’t
intend to follow the business: I daresay I shall be an officer, like my
father.’  ‘Well,’ said the old man, ‘I once saw the king of the vipers,
and since then—’  ‘The king of the vipers!’ said I, interrupting him;
‘have the vipers a king?’  ‘As sure as we have,’ said the old man—‘as
sure as we have King George to rule over us, have these reptiles a king
to rule over them.’  ‘And where did you see him?’ said I.  ‘I will tell
you,’ said the old man, ‘though I don’t like talking about the matter.
It may be about seven years ago that I happened to be far down yonder to
the west, on the other side of England, nearly two hundred miles from
here, following my business.  It was a very sultry day, I remember, and I
had been out several hours catching creatures.  It might be about three
o’clock in the afternoon, when I found myself on some heathy land near
the sea, on a ridge of a hill, the side of which, nearly as far down as
the sea, was heath; but on the top there was arable ground, which had
been planted, and from which the harvest had been gathered—oats or
barley, I know not which—but I remember that the ground was covered with
stubble.  Well, about three o’clock, as I told you before, what with the
heat of the day and from having walked about for hours in a lazy way, I
felt very tired; so I determined to have a sleep, and I laid myself down,
my head just on the ridge of the hill, towards the field, and my body
over the side down amongst the heath; my bag, which was nearly filled
with creatures, lay at a little distance from my face; the creatures were
struggling in it, I remember, and I thought to myself, how much more
comfortably off I was than they; I was taking my ease on the nice open
hill, cooled with the breezes, whilst they were in the nasty close bag,
coiling about one another, and breaking their very hearts, all to no
purpose: and I felt quite comfortable and happy in the thought, and
little by little closed my eyes, and fell into the sweetest snooze that
ever I was in in all my life; and there I lay over the hill’s side, with
my head half in the field, I don’t know how long, all dead asleep.  At
last it seemed to me that I heard a noise in my sleep, something like a
thing moving, very faint, however, far away; then it died, and then it
came again upon my ear as I slept, and now it appeared almost as if I
heard crackle, crackle; then it died again, or I became yet more dead
asleep than before, I know not which, but I certainly lay some time
without hearing it.  All of a sudden I became awake, and there was I, on
the ridge of the hill, with my cheek on the ground towards the stubble,
with a noise in my ear like that of something moving towards me amongst
the stubble of the field; well, I lay a moment or two listening to the
noise, and then I became frightened, for I did not like the noise at all,
it sounded so odd; so I rolled myself on my belly, and looked towards the
stubble.  Mercy upon us! there was a huge snake, or rather a dreadful
viper, for it was all yellow and gold, moving towards me, bearing its
head about a foot and a half above the ground, the dry stubble crackling
beneath its outrageous belly.  It might be about five yards off when I
first saw it, making straight towards me, child, as if it would devour
me.  I lay quite still, for I was stupefied with horror, whilst the
creature came still nearer; and now it was nearly upon me, when it
suddenly drew back a little, and then—what do you think?—it lifted its
head and chest high in the air, and high over my face as I looked up,
flickering at me with its tongue as if it would fly at my face.  Child,
what I felt at that moment I can scarcely say, but it was a sufficient
punishment for all the sins I ever committed; and there we two were, I
looking up at the viper, and the viper looking down upon me, flickering
at me with its tongue.  It was only the kindness of God that saved me:
all at once there was a loud noise, the report of a gun, for a fowler was
shooting at a covey of birds, a little way off in the stubble.  Whereupon
the viper sunk its head, and immediately made off over the ridge of the
hill, down in the direction of the sea.  As it passed by me, however—and
it passed close by me—it hesitated a moment, as if it was doubtful
whether it should not seize me; it did not, however, but made off down
the hill.  It has often struck me that he was angry with me, and came
upon me unawares for presuming to meddle with his people, as I have
always been in the habit of doing.’

     [Picture: Once I saw him standing in the middle of a dusty road]

‘But,’ said I, ‘how do you know that it was the king of the vipers?’

‘How do I know!’ said the old man, ‘who else should it be?  There was as
much difference between it and other reptiles as between King George and
other people.’

‘Is King George, then, different from other people?’ I demanded.

‘Of course,’ said the old man; ‘I have never seen him myself, but I have
heard people say that he is a ten times greater man than other folks;
indeed, it stands to reason that he must be different from the rest, else
people would not be so eager to see him.  Do you think, child, that
people would be fools enough to run a matter of twenty or thirty miles to
see the king, provided King George—’

‘Haven’t the French a king?’ I demanded.

‘Yes,’ said the old man, ‘or something much the same, and a queer one he
is; not quite so big as King George, they say, but quite as terrible a
fellow.  What of him?’

‘Suppose he should come to Norman Cross!’

‘What should he do at Norman Cross, child?’

‘Why, you were talking about the vipers in your bag breaking their
hearts, and so on, and their king coming to help them.  Now, suppose the
French king should hear of his people being in trouble at Norman Cross,
and—’

‘He can’t come, child,’ said the old man, rubbing his hands, ‘the water
lies between.  The French don’t like the water; neither vipers nor
Frenchmen take kindly to the water, child.’

When the old man left the country, which he did a few days after the
conversation which I have just related, he left me the reptile which he
had tamed and rendered quite harmless by removing the fangs.  I was in
the habit of feeding it with milk, and frequently carried it abroad with
me in my walks.



CHAPTER FIVE


THE TENT—MAN AND WOMAN—DARK AND SWARTHY—MANNER OF SPEAKING—BAD
MONEY—TRANSFIXED—FALTERING TONE—LITTLE BASKET—HIGH OPINION—PLENTY OF
GOOD—KEEPING GUARD—TILTED CART—RUBRICALS—JASPER—THE RIGHT SORT—THE
HORSEMAN—JOHN NEWTON—THE ALARM—GENTLE BROTHERS

One day it happened that, being on my rambles, I entered a green lane
which I had never seen before; at first it was rather narrow, but as I
advanced it became considerably wider; in the middle was a driftway with
deep ruts, but right and left was a space carpeted with a sward of
trefoil and clover; there was no lack of trees, chiefly ancient oaks,
which, flinging out their arms from either side, nearly formed a canopy,
and afforded a pleasing shelter from the rays of the sun, which was
burning fiercely above.  Suddenly a group of objects attracted my
attention.  Beneath one of the largest of the trees, upon the grass, was
a kind of low tent or booth, from the top of which a thin smoke was
curling; beside it stood a couple of light carts, whilst two or three
lean horses or ponies were cropping the herbage which was growing nigh.
Wondering to whom this odd tent could belong, I advanced till I was close
before it, when I found that it consisted of two tilts, like those of
waggons, placed upon the ground and fronting each other, connected behind
by a sail or large piece of canvas which was but partially drawn across
the top; upon the ground, in the intervening space, was a fire, over
which, supported by a kind of iron crowbar, hung a caldron; my advance
had been so noiseless as not to alarm the inmates, who consisted of a man
and woman, who sat apart, one on each side of the fire; they were both
busily employed—the man was carding plaited straw, whilst the woman
seemed to be rubbing something with a white powder, some of which lay on
a plate beside her; suddenly the man looked up, and, perceiving me,
uttered a strange kind of cry, and the next moment both the woman and
himself were on their feet and rushing out upon me.

I retreated a few steps, yet without turning to flee.  I was not,
however, without apprehension, which, indeed, the appearance of these two
people was well calculated to inspire: the woman was a stout figure,
seemingly between thirty and forty; she wore no cap, and her long hair
fell on either side of her head like horse-tails half-way down her waist;
her skin was dark and swarthy, like that of a toad, and the expression of
her countenance was particularly evil; her arms were bare, and her bosom
was but half concealed by a slight bodice, below which she wore a coarse
petticoat, her only other article of dress.  The man was somewhat
younger, but of a figure equally wild; his frame was long and lathy, but
his arms were remarkably short, his neck was rather bent, he squinted
slightly, and his mouth was much awry; his complexion was dark, but,
unlike that of the woman, was more ruddy than livid; there was a deep
scar on his cheek, something like the impression of a halfpenny.  The
dress was quite in keeping with the figure: in his hat, which was
slightly peaked, was stuck a peacock’s feather; over a waistcoat of hide,
untanned and with the hair upon it, he wore a rough jerkin of russet hue;
smallclothes of leather, which had probably once belonged to a soldier,
but with which pipeclay did not seem to have come in contact for many a
year, protected his lower man as far as the knee; his legs were cased in
long stockings of blue worsted, and on his shoes he wore immense
old-fashioned buckles.

Such were the two beings who now came rushing upon me; the man was rather
in advance, brandishing a ladle in his hand.

‘So I have caught you at last,’ said he; ‘I’ll teach ye, you young
highwayman, to come skulking about my properties!’

Young as I was, I remarked that his manner of speaking was different from
that of any people with whom I had been in the habit of associating.  It
was quite as strange as his appearance, and yet it nothing resembled the
foreign English which I had been in the habit of hearing through the
palisades of the prison; he could scarcely be a foreigner.

‘Your properties!’ said I; ‘I am in the King’s Lane.  Why did you put
them there, if you did not wish them to be seen?’

‘On the spy,’ said the woman, ‘hey?  I’ll drown him in the sludge in the
toad-pond over the hedge.’

‘So we will,’ said the man, ‘drown him anon in the mud!’

‘Drown me, will you?’ said I; ‘I should like to see you!  What’s all this
about?  Was it because I saw you with your hands full of straw plait, and
my mother there—’

‘Yes,’ said the woman; ‘what was I about?’

_Myself_.  How should I know?  Making bad money, perhaps!

And it will be as well here to observe, that at this time there was much
bad money in circulation in the neighbourhood, generally supposed to be
fabricated by the prisoners, so that this false coin and straw plait
formed the standard subjects of conversation at Norman Cross.

‘I’ll strangle thee,’ said the beldame, dashing at me.  ‘Bad money, is
it?’

‘Leave him to me, wifelkin,’ said the man, interposing; ‘you shall now
see how I’ll baste him down the lane.’

_Myself_.  I tell you what, my chap, you had better put down that thing
of yours; my father lies concealed within my tepid breast, and if to me
you offer any harm or wrong, I’ll call him forth to help me with his
forked tongue.

_Man_.  What do you mean, ye Bengui’s bantling?  I never heard such
discourse in all my life: playman’s speech or Frenchman’s talk—which, I
wonder?  Your father!  Tell the mumping villain that if he comes near my
fire I’ll serve him out as I will you.  Take that—Tiny Jesus! what have
we got here?

Oh, delicate Jesus! what is the matter with the child?

I had made a motion which the viper understood; and now, partly
disengaging itself from my bosom, where it had lain perdu, it raised its
head to a level with my face, and stared upon my enemy with its
glittering eyes.

The man stood like one transfixed, and the ladle, with which he had aimed
a blow at me, now hung in the air like the hand which held it; his mouth
was extended, and his cheeks became of a pale yellow, save alone that
place which bore the mark which I have already described, and this shone
now portentously, like fire.  He stood in this manner for some time; at
last the ladle fell from his hand, and its falling appeared to rouse him
from his stupor.

‘I say, wifelkin,’ said he, in a faltering tone, ‘did you ever see the
like of this here?’

But the woman had retreated to the tent, from the entrance of which her
loathly face was now thrust, with an expression partly of terror and
partly of curiosity.  After gazing some time longer at the viper and
myself, the man stooped down and took up the ladle; then, as if somewhat
more assured, he moved to the tent, where he entered into conversation
with the beldame in a low voice.  Of their discourse, though I could hear
the greater part of it, I understood not a single word; and I wondered
what it could be, for I knew by the sound that it was not French.  At
last the man, in a somewhat louder tone, appeared to put a question to
the woman, who nodded her head affirmatively, and in a moment or two
produced a small stool, which she delivered to him.  He placed it on the
ground, close by the door of the tent, first rubbing it with his sleeve,
as if for the purpose of polishing its surface.

_Man_.  Now, my precious little gentleman, do sit down here by the poor
people’s tent; we wish to be civil in our slight way.  Don’t be angry,
and say no; but look kindly upon us, and satisfied, my precious little
God Almighty.

_Woman_.  Yes, my gorgeous angel, sit down by the poor bodies’ fire, and
eat a sweetmeat.  We want to ask you a question or two; only first put
that serpent away.

_Myself_.  I can sit down, and bid the serpent go to sleep, that’s easy
enough; but as for eating a sweetmeat, how can I do that?  I have not got
one, and where am I to get it?

_Woman_.  Never fear, my tiny tawny, we can give you one, such as you
never ate, I daresay, however far you may have come from.

The serpent sank into its usual resting-place, and I sat down on the
stool.  The woman opened a box, and took out a strange little basket or
hamper, not much larger than a man’s fist, and formed of a delicate kind
of matting.  It was sewed at the top; but, ripping it open with a knife,
she held it to me, and I saw, to my surprise, that it contained candied
fruits of a dark green hue, tempting enough to one of my age.  ‘There, my
tiny,’ said she; ‘taste, and tell me how you like them.’

‘Very much,’ said I, ‘where did you get them?’

The beldame leered upon me for a moment, then, nodding her head thrice,
with a knowing look, said, ‘Who knows better than yourself, my tawny?’

Now, I knew nothing about the matter; but I saw that these strange people
had conceived a very high opinion of the abilities of their visitor,
which I was nothing loth to encourage.  I therefore answered boldly, ‘Ah!
who indeed!’

‘Certainly,’ said the man; ‘who should know better than yourself, or so
well?  And now, my tiny one, let me ask you one thing—you didn’t come to
do us any harm?’

‘No,’ said I, ‘I had no dislike to you; though, if you were to meddle
with me—’

_Man_.  Of course, my gorgeous, of course you would; and quite right too.
Meddle with you!—what right have we?  I should say, it would not be quite
safe.  I see how it is; you are one of them there;—and he bent his head
towards his left shoulder.

_Myself_.  Yes, I am one of them—for I thought he was alluding to the
soldiers,—you had best mind what you are about, I can tell you.

_Man_.  Don’t doubt we will for our own sake; Lord bless you, wifelkin,
only think that we should see one of them there when we least thought
about it.  Well, I have heard of such things, though I never thought to
see one; however, seeing is believing.  Well! now you are come, and are
not going to do us any mischief, I hope you will stay; you can do us
plenty of good if you will.

_Myself_.  What good could I do you?

_Man_.  What good? plenty!  Would you not bring us luck?  I have heard
say that one of them there always does, if it will but settle down.  Stay
with us, you shall have a tilted cart all to yourself if you like.  We’ll
make you our little God Almighty, and say our prayers to you every
morning!

_Myself_.  That would be nice; and, if you were to give me plenty of
these things, I should have no objection.  But what would my father say?
I think he would hardly let me.

_Man_.  Why not? he would be with you; and kindly would we treat him.
Indeed, without your father you would be nothing at all.

_Myself_.  That’s true; but I do not think he could be spared from his
regiment.  I have heard him say that they could do nothing without him.

_Man_.  His regiment!  What are you talking about?—what does the child
mean?

_Myself_.  What do I mean!—why, that my father is an officer-man at the
barracks yonder, keeping guard over the French prisoners.

_Man_.  Oh! then that sap is not your father?

_Myself_.  What, the snake?  Why, no!  Did you think he was?

_Man_.  To be sure we did.  Didn’t you tell me so?

_Myself_.  Why, yes; but who would have thought you would have believed
it?  It is a tame one.  I hunt vipers, and tame them.

_Man_.  O—h!

‘O—h!’ grunted the woman, ‘that’s it, is it?’

The man and woman, who during this conversation had resumed their former
positions within the tent, looked at each other with a queer look of
surprise, as if somewhat disconcerted at what they now heard.  They then
entered into discourse with each other in the same strange tongue which
had already puzzled me.  At length the man looked me in the face, and
said, somewhat hesitatingly, ‘So you are not one of them there after
all?’

_Myself_.  One of them there?  I don’t know what you mean.

_Man_.  Why, we have been thinking you were a goblin—a devilkin!
However, I see how it is: you are a sap-engro, a chap who catches snakes,
and plays tricks with them!  Well, it comes very nearly to the same
thing; and if you please to list with us, and bear us pleasant company,
we shall be glad of you.  I’d take my oath upon it, that we might make a
mort of money by you and that sap, and the tricks it could do; and, as
you seem fly to everything, I shouldn’t wonder if you would make a prime
hand at telling fortunes.

‘I shouldn’t wonder,’ said I.

_Man_.  Of course.  And you might still be our God Almighty, or at any
rate our clergyman, so you should live in a tilted cart by yourself, and
say prayers to us night and morning—to wifelkin here, and all our family;
there’s plenty of us when we are all together: as I said before, you seem
fly, I shouldn’t wonder if you could read?

‘Oh yes!’ said I, ‘I can read’; and, eager to display my accomplishments,
I took my book out of my pocket, and, opening it at random, proceeded to
read how a certain man, whilst wandering about a certain solitary island,
entered a cave, the mouth of which was overgrown with brushwood, and how
he was nearly frightened to death in that cave by something which he saw.

‘That will do,’ said the man; ‘that’s the kind of prayers for me and my
family, aren’t they, wifelkin?  I never heard more delicate prayers in
all my life!  Why, they beat the rubricals hollow!—and here comes my son
Jasper.  I say, Jasper, here’s a young sap-engro that can read, and is
more fly than yourself.  Shake hands with him; I wish ye to be two
brothers.’

With a swift but stealthy pace Jasper came towards us from the farther
part of the lane; on reaching the tent he stood still, and looked fixedly
upon me as I sat upon the stool; I looked fixedly upon him.  A queer look
had Jasper; he was a lad of some twelve or thirteen years, with long
arms, unlike the singular being who called himself his father; his
complexion was ruddy, but his face was seamed, though it did not bear the
peculiar scar which disfigured the countenance of the other; nor, though
roguish enough, a certain evil expression which that of the other bore,
and which the face of the woman possessed in a yet more remarkable
degree.  For the rest, he wore drab breeches, with certain strings at the
knee, a rather gay waistcoat, and tolerably white shirt; under his arm he
bore a mighty whip of whalebone with a brass knob, and upon his head was
a hat without either top or brim.

‘There, Jasper! shake hands with the sap-engro.’

‘Can he box, father?’ said Jasper, surveying me rather contemptuously.
‘I should think not, he looks so puny and small.’

‘Hold your peace, fool!’ said the man; ‘he can do more than that—I tell
you he’s fly: he carries a sap about, which would sting a ninny like you
to dead.’

‘What, a sap-engro!’ said the boy, with a singular whine, and, stooping
down, he leered curiously in my face, kindly, however, and then patted me
on the head.  ‘A sap-engro,’ he ejaculated; ‘lor!’

‘Yes, and one of the right sort,’ said the man; ‘I am glad we have met
with him, he is going to list with us, and be our clergyman and God
Almighty, ain’t you, my tawny?’

‘I don’t know,’ said I; ‘I must see what my father will say.’

‘Your father; bah!’—but here he stopped, for a sound was heard like the
rapid galloping of a horse, not loud and distinct as on a road, but dull
and heavy as if upon a grass sward; nearer and nearer it came, and the
man, starting up, rushed out of the tent, and looked around anxiously.  I
arose from the stool upon which I had been seated, and just at that
moment, amidst a crashing of boughs and sticks, a man on horse-back
bounded over the hedge into the lane at a few yards’ distance from where
we were: from the impetus of the leap the horse was nearly down on his
knees; the rider, however, by dint of vigorous handling of the reins,
prevented him from falling, and then rode up to the tent.  ‘’Tis Nat,’
said the man; what brings him here?’  The newcomer was a stout burly
fellow, about the middle age; he had a savage determined look, and his
face was nearly covered over with carbuncles; he wore a broad slouching
hat, and was dressed in a grey coat, cut in a fashion which I afterwards
learnt to be the genuine Newmarket cut, the skirts being exceedingly
short; his waistcoat was of red plush, and he wore broad corduroy
breeches and white top-boots.  The steed which carried him was of iron
grey, spirited and powerful, but covered with sweat and foam.  The fellow
glanced fiercely and suspiciously around, and said something to the man
of the tent in a harsh and rapid voice.  A short and hurried conversation
ensued in the strange tongue.  I could not take my eyes off this
new-comer.  Oh, that half-jockey, half-bruiser countenance, I never
forgot it!  More than fifteen years afterwards I found myself amidst a
crowd before Newgate; a gallows was erected, and beneath it stood a
criminal, a notorious malefactor.  I recognised him at once; the horseman
of the lane is now beneath the fatal tree, but nothing altered; still the
same man; jerking his head to the right and left with the same fierce and
under glance, just as if the affairs of this world had the same kind of
interest to the last; grey coat of Newmarket cut, plush waistcoat,
corduroys, and boots, nothing altered; but the head, alas! is bare, and
so is the neck.  Oh, crime and virtue, virtue and crime!—it was old John
Newton, I think, who, when he saw a man going to be hanged, said, ‘There
goes John Newton, but for the grace of God!’

But the lane, the lane, all was now in confusion in the lane; the man and
woman were employed in striking the tents and in making hurried
preparations for departure; the boy Jasper was putting the harness upon
the ponies and attaching them to the carts; and, to increase the
singularity of the scene, two or three wild-looking women and girls, in
red cloaks and immense black beaver bonnets, came from I know not what
direction, and, after exchanging a few words with the others, commenced
with fierce and agitated gestures to assist them in their occupation.
The rider meanwhile sat upon his horse, but evidently in a state of great
impatience; he muttered curses between his teeth, spurred the animal
furiously, and then reined it in, causing it to rear itself up nearly
perpendicular.  At last he said, ‘Curse ye for Romans, how slow ye are!
well, it is no business of mine, stay here all day if you like; I have
given ye warning, I am off to the big north road.  However, before I go,
you had better give me all you have of that.’

‘Truly spoken, Nat, my pal,’ said the man; ‘give it him, mother.  There
it is; now be off as soon as you please, and rid us of evil company.’

The woman had handed him two bags formed of stocking, half full of
something heavy, which looked through them for all the world like money
of some kind.  The fellow, on receiving them, thrust them without
ceremony into the pockets of his coat, and then, without a word of
farewell salutation, departed at a tremendous rate, the hoofs of his
horse thundering for a long time on the hard soil of the neighbouring
road, till the sound finally died away in the distance.  The strange
people were not slow in completing their preparations, and then, flogging
their animals terrifically, hurried away seemingly in the same direction.

The boy Jasper was last of the band.  As he was following the rest, he
stopped suddenly, and looked on the ground, appearing to muse; then,
turning round, he came up to me where I was standing, leered in my face,
and then, thrusting out his hand, he said, ‘Good-bye, Sap, I daresay we
shall meet again, remember we are brothers; two gentle brothers.’

Then whining forth, ‘What a sap-engro, lor!’ he gave me a parting leer,
and hastened away.

I remained standing in the lane gazing after the retreating company.  ‘A
strange set of people,’ said I at last; ‘I wonder who they can be?’



CHAPTER SIX


THREE YEARS—LILLY’S GRAMMAR—PROFICIENCY—IGNORANT OF FIGURES—THE SCHOOL
BELL—ORDER OF SUCCESSION—PERSECUTION—WHAT ARE WE TO DO?—NORTHWARD—A
GOODLY SCENE—HAUNTED GROUND—THE FEATS OF CHIVALRY—RIVERS—AND OVER THE
BRIG

Years passed on, even three years; during this period I had increased
considerably in stature and in strength, and, let us hope, improved in
mind; for I had entered on the study of the Latin language.  The very
first person to whose care I was entrusted for the acquisition of Latin
was an old friend of my father’s, a clergyman who kept a seminary at a
town the very next we visited after our departure from ‘the Cross.’
Under his instruction, however, I continued only a few weeks, as we
speedily left the place.  ‘Captain,’ said this divine, when my father
came to take leave of him on the eve of our departure, ‘I have a
friendship for you, and therefore wish to give you a piece of advice
concerning this son of yours.  You are now removing him from my care; you
do wrong, but we will let that pass.  Listen to me: there is but one good
school-book in the world—the one I use in my seminary—Lilly’s Latin
grammar, in which your son has already made some progress.  If you are
anxious for the success of your son in life, for the correctness of his
conduct and the soundness of his principles, keep him to Lilly’s grammar.
If you can by any means, either fair or foul, induce him to get by heart
Lilly’s Latin grammar, you may set your heart at rest with respect to
him; I, myself, will be his warrant.  I never yet knew a boy that was
induced, either by fair means or foul, to learn Lilly’s Latin grammar by
heart, who did not turn out a man, provided he lived long enough.’

My father, who did not understand the classical languages, received with
respect the advice of his old friend, and from that moment conceived the
highest opinion of Lilly’s Latin grammar.  During three years I studied
Lilly’s Latin grammar under the tuition of various schoolmasters, for I
travelled with the regiment, and in every town in which we were
stationary I was invariably (God bless my father!) sent to the classical
academy of the place.  It chanced, by good fortune, that in the
generality of these schools the grammar of Lilly was in use; when,
however, that was not the case, it made no difference in my educational
course, my father always stipulating with the masters that I should be
daily examined in Lilly.  At the end of the three years I had the whole
by heart; you had only to repeat the first two or three words of any
sentence in any part of the book, and forthwith I would open cry,
commencing without blundering and hesitation, and continue till you were
glad to beg me to leave off, with many expressions of admiration at my
proficiency in the Latin language.  Sometimes, however, to convince you
how well I merited these encomiums, I would follow you to the bottom of
the stair, and even into the street, repeating in a kind of sing-song
measure the sonorous lines of the golden schoolmaster.  If I am here
asked whether I understood anything of what I had got by heart, I
reply—‘Never mind, I understand it all now, and believe that no one ever
yet got Lilly’s Latin grammar by heart when young, who repented of the
feat at a mature age.’

And, when my father saw that I had accomplished my task, he opened his
mouth, and said, ‘Truly, this is more than I expected.  I did not think
that there had been so much in you, either of application or capacity;
you have now learnt all that is necessary, if my friend Dr. B---’s
opinion was sterling, as I have no doubt it was.  You are still a child,
however, and must yet go to school, in order that you may be kept out of
evil company.  Perhaps you may still contrive, now you have exhausted the
barn, to pick up a grain or two in the barn-yard.  You are still ignorant
of figures, I believe, not that I would mention figures in the same day
with Lilly’s grammar.’

These words were uttered in a place called ---, in the north, or in the
road to the north, to which, for some time past, our corps had been
slowly advancing.  I was sent to the school of the place, which chanced
to be a day school.  It was a somewhat extraordinary one, and a somewhat
extraordinary event occurred to me within its walls.

It occupied part of the farther end of a small plain, or square, at the
outskirts of the town, close to some extensive bleaching fields.  It was
a long low building of one room, with no upper story; on the top was a
kind of wooden box, or sconce, which I at first mistook for a
pigeon-house, but which in reality contained a bell, to which was
attached a rope, which, passing through the ceiling, hung dangling in the
middle of the school-room.  I am the more particular in mentioning this
appurtenance, as I had soon occasion to scrape acquaintance with it in a
manner not very agreeable to my feelings.  The master was very proud of
his bell, if I might judge from the fact of his eyes being frequently
turned to that part of the ceiling from which the rope depended.  Twice
every day, namely, after the morning and evening tasks had been gone
through, were the boys rung out of school by the monotonous jingle of
this bell.  This ringing out was rather a lengthy affair, for, as the
master was a man of order and method, the boys were only permitted to go
out of the room one by one; and as they were rather numerous, amounting,
at least, to one hundred, and were taught to move at a pace of suitable
decorum, at least a quarter of an hour elapsed from the commencement of
the march before the last boy could make his exit.  The office of
bell-ringer was performed by every boy successively; and it so happened
that, the very first day of my attendance at the school, the turn to ring
the bell had, by order of succession, arrived at the place which had been
allotted to me; for the master, as I have already observed, was a man of
method and order, and every boy had a particular seat, to which he became
a fixture as long as he continued at the school.

So, upon this day, when the tasks were done and completed, and the boys
sat with their hats and caps in their hands, anxiously expecting the
moment of dismissal, it was suddenly notified to me, by the urchins who
sat nearest to me, that I must get up and ring the bell.  Now, as this
was the first time that I had been at the school, I was totally
unacquainted with the process, which I had never seen, and, indeed, had
never heard of till that moment.  I therefore sat still, not imagining it
possible that any such duty could be required of me.  But now, with not a
little confusion, I perceived that the eyes of all the boys in the school
were fixed upon me.  Presently there were nods and winks in the direction
of the bell-rope; and, as these produced no effect, uncouth visages were
made, like those of monkeys when enraged; teeth were gnashed, tongues
thrust out, and even fists were bent at me.  The master, who stood at the
end of the room, with a huge ferule under his arm, bent full upon me a
look of stern appeal; and the ushers, of whom there were four, glared
upon me, each from his own particular corner, as I vainly turned, in one
direction and another, in search of one reassuring look.

But now, probably in obedience to a sign from the master, the boys in my
immediate neighbourhood began to maltreat me.  Some pinched me with their
fingers, some buffeted me, whilst others pricked me with pins, or the
points of compasses.  These arguments were not without effect.  I sprang
from my seat, and endeavoured to escape along a double line of benches,
thronged with boys of all ages, from the urchin of six or seven to the
nondescript of sixteen or seventeen.  It was like running the gauntlet;
every one, great or small, pinching, kicking, or otherwise maltreating
me, as I passed by.

Goaded on in this manner, I at length reached the middle of the room,
where dangled the bell-rope, the cause of all my sufferings.  I should
have passed it—for my confusion was so great that I was quite at a loss
to comprehend what all this could mean, and almost believed myself under
the influence of an ugly dream—but now the boys, who were seated in
advance in the row, arose with one accord, and barred my farther
progress; and one, doubtless more sensible than the rest, seizing the
rope, thrust it into my hand.  I now began to perceive that the dismissal
of the school, and my own release from torment, depended upon this
selfsame rope.  I therefore, in a fit of desperation, pulled it once or
twice, and then left off, naturally supposing that I had done quite
enough.  The boys who sat next the door no sooner heard the bell, than,
rising from their seats, they moved out at the door.  The bell, however,
had no sooner ceased to jingle, than they stopped short, and, turning
round, stared at the master, as much as to say, ‘What are we to do now?’
This was too much for the patience of the man of method, which my
previous stupidity had already nearly exhausted.  Dashing forward into
the middle of the room, he struck me violently on the shoulders with his
ferule, and, snatching the rope out of my hand, exclaimed, with a
stentorian voice, and genuine Yorkshire accent, ‘Prodigy of ignorance!
dost not even know how to ring a bell?  Must I myself instruct thee?’  He
then commenced pulling at the bell with such violence that long before
half the school was dismissed the rope broke, and the rest of the boys
had to depart without their accustomed music.

But I must not linger here, though I could say much about the school and
the pedagogue highly amusing and diverting, which, however, I suppress,
in order to make way for matters of yet greater interest.  On we went,
northward, northward! and, as we advanced, I saw that the country was
becoming widely different from those parts of merry England in which we
had previously travelled.  It was wilder, and less cultivated, and more
broken with hills and hillocks.  The people, too, of these regions
appeared to partake of something of the character of their country.  They
were coarsely dressed; tall and sturdy of frame; their voices were deep
and guttural; and the half of the dialect which they spoke was
unintelligible to my ears.

I often wondered where we could be going, for I was at this time about as
ignorant of geography as I was of most other things.  However, I held my
peace, asked no questions, and patiently awaited the issue.

Northward, northward, still!  And it came to pass that one morning, I
found myself extended on the bank of a river.  It was a beautiful morning
of early spring; small white clouds were floating in the heaven,
occasionally veiling the countenance of the sun, whose light, as they
retired, would again burst forth, coursing like a race-horse over the
scene—and a goodly scene it was!  Before me, across the water, on an
eminence, stood a white old city, surrounded with lofty walls, above
which rose the tops of tall houses, with here and there a church or
steeple.  To my right hand was a long and massive bridge, with many
arches, and of antique architecture, which traversed the river.  The
river was a noble one; the broadest that I had hitherto seen.  Its
waters, of a greenish tinge, poured with impetuosity beneath the narrow
arches to meet the sea, close at hand, as the boom of the billows
breaking distinctly upon a beach declared.  There were songs upon the
river from the fisher-barks; and occasionally a chorus, plaintive and
wild, such as I had never heard before, the words of which I did not
understand, but which, at the present time, down the long avenue of
years, seem in memory’s ear to sound like ‘Horam, coram, dago.’  Several
robust fellows were near me, some knee-deep in water, employed in hauling
the seine upon the strand.  Huge fish were struggling amidst the
meshes—princely salmon,—their brilliant mail of blue and silver flashing
in the morning beam; so goodly and gay a scene, in truth, had never
greeted my boyish eye.

And, as I gazed upon the prospect, my bosom began to heave, and my tears
to trickle.  Was it the beauty of the scene which gave rise to these
emotions?  Possibly; for though a poor ignorant child—a half-wild
creature—I was not insensible to the loveliness of nature, and took
pleasure in the happiness and handiworks of my fellow-creatures.  Yet,
perhaps, in something more deep and mysterious the feelings which then
pervaded me might originate.  Who can lie down on Elvir Hill without
experiencing something of the sorcery of the place?  Flee from Elvir
Hill, young swain, or the maids of Elle will have power over you, and you
will go elf-wild!—so say the Danes.  I had unconsciously laid myself down
upon haunted ground; and I am willing to imagine that what I then
experienced was rather connected with the world of spirits and dreams
than with what I actually saw and heard around me.  Surely the elves and
genii of the place were conversing, by some inscrutable means, with the
principle of intelligence lurking within the poor uncultivated clod!
Perhaps to that ethereal principle the wonders of the past, as connected
with that stream, the glories of the present, and even the history of the
future, were at that moment being revealed!  Of how many feats of
chivalry had those old walls been witness, when hostile kings contended
for their possession!—how many an army from the south and from the north
had trod that old bridge!—what red and noble blood had crimsoned those
rushing waters!—what strains had been sung, ay, were yet being sung, on
its banks!—some soft as Doric reed; some fierce and sharp as those of
Norwegian Skaldaglam; some as replete with wild and wizard force as
Finland’s runes, singing of Kalevala’s moors, and the deeds of
Woinomoinen!  Honour to thee, thou island stream!  Onward may thou ever
roll, fresh and green, rejoicing in thy bright past, thy glorious
present, and in vivid hope of a triumphant future!  Flow on, beautiful
one!—which of the world’s streams canst thou envy, with thy beauty and
renown?  Stately is the Danube, rolling in its might through lands
romantic with the wild exploits of Turk, Polak, and Magyar!  Lovely is
the Rhine! on its shelvy banks grows the racy grape; and strange old
keeps of robber-knights of yore are reflected in its waters, from
picturesque crags and airy headlands!—yet neither the stately Danube nor
the beauteous Rhine, with all their fame, though abundant, needst thou
envy, thou pure island stream!—and far less yon turbid river of old, not
modern renown, gurgling beneath the walls of what was once proud Rome,
towering Rome, Jupiter’s town, but now vile Rome, crumbling Rome,
Batuscha’s town, far less needst thou envy the turbid Tiber of bygone
fame, creeping sadly to the sea, surcharged with the abominations of
modern Rome—how unlike to thee, thou pure island stream!

And as I lay on the bank and wept, there drew nigh to me a man in the
habiliments of a fisher.  He was bare-legged, of a weather-beaten
countenance, and of stature approaching to the gigantic.  ‘What is the
callant greeting for?’ said he, as he stopped and surveyed me.  ‘Has
onybody wrought ye ony harm?’

‘Not that I know of,’ I replied, rather guessing at than understanding
his question; ‘I was crying because I could not help it!  I say, old one,
what is the name of this river?’

‘Hout!  I now see what you was greeting at—at your ain ignorance, nae
doubt—’tis very great!  Weel, I will na fash you with reproaches, but
even enlighten ye, since you seem a decent man’s bairn, and you speir a
civil question.  Yon river is called the Tweed; and yonder, over the
brig, is Scotland.  Did ye never hear of the Tweed, my bonny man?’

‘No,’ said I, as I rose from the grass, and proceeded to cross the bridge
to the town at which we had arrived the preceding night; ‘I never heard
of it; but now I have seen it, I shall not soon forget it!’



CHAPTER SEVEN


THE CASTLE—A FATHER’S INQUIRIES—SCOTCH LANGUAGE—A DETERMINATION—BUI HIN
DIGRI—GOOD SCOTCHMAN—DIFFERENCE OF RACES—NE’ER A HAGGIS—PUGNACIOUS
PEOPLE—WHA ARE YE, MAN?—THE NOR’ LOCH—GESTURES WILD—THE BICKER—A
WILD-LOOKING FIGURE

It was not long before we found ourselves at Edinburgh, or rather in the
Castle, into which the regiment marched with drums beating, colours
flying, and a long train of baggage-waggons behind.  The Castle was, as I
suppose it is now, a garrison for soldiers.  Two other regiments were
already there; the one an Irish, if I remember right, the other a small
Highland corps.

It is hardly necessary to say much about this Castle, which everybody has
seen; on which account, doubtless, nobody has ever yet thought fit to
describe it—at least that I am aware.  Be this as it may, I have no
intention of describing it, and shall content myself with observing that
we took up our abode in that immense building, or caserne, of modern
erection, which occupies the entire eastern side of the bold rock on
which the Castle stands.  A gallant caserne it was—the best and roomiest
that I had hitherto seen—rather cold and windy, it is true, especially in
the winter, but commanding a noble prospect of a range of distant hills,
which I was told were ‘the hieland hills,’ and of a broad arm of the sea,
which I heard somebody say was the Firth of Forth.

My brother, who, for some years past, had been receiving his education in
a certain celebrated school in England, was now with us; and it came to
pass, that one day my father, as he sat at table, looked steadfastly on
my brother and myself, and then addressed my mother:—‘During my journey
down hither, I have lost no opportunity of making inquiries about these
people, the Scotch, amongst whom we now are, and since I have been here I
have observed them attentively.  From what I have heard and seen, I
should say that upon the whole they are a very decent set of people; they
seem acute and intelligent, and I am told that their system of education
is so excellent that every person is learned—more or less acquainted with
Greek and Latin.  There is one thing, however, connected with them, which
is a great drawback—the horrid jargon which they speak.  However learned
they may be in Greek and Latin, their English is execrable; and yet I’m
told it is not so bad as it was.  I was in company, the other day, with
an Englishman who has resided here many years.  We were talking about the
country and the people.  “I should like both very well,” said I, “were it
not for the language.  I wish sincerely our Parliament, which is passing
so many foolish acts every year, would pass one to force these Scotch to
speak English.”  “I wish so, too,” said he.  “The language is a disgrace
to the British Government; but, if you had heard it twenty years ago,
captain!—if you had heard it as it was spoken when I first came to
Edinburgh!”’

‘Only custom,’ said my mother.  ‘I daresay the language is now what it
was then.’

‘I don’t know,’ said my father; ‘though I daresay you are right; it could
never have been worse than it is at present.  But now to the point.  Were
it not for the language, which, if the boys were to pick it up, might
ruin their prospects in life,—were it not for that, I should very much
like to send them to a school there is in this place, which everybody
talks about—the High School I think they call it.  ’Tis said to be the
best school in the whole island; but the idea of one’s children speaking
Scotch—broad Scotch!  I must think the matter over.’

And he did think the matter over; and the result of his deliberation was
a determination to send us to the school.  Let me call thee up before my
mind’s eye, High School, to which, every morning, the two English
brothers took their way from the proud old Castle through the lofty
streets of the Old Town.  High School!—called so, I scarcely know why;
neither lofty in thyself nor by position, being situated in a flat
bottom; oblong structure of tawny stone, with many windows fenced with
iron netting—with thy long hall below, and thy five chambers above, for
the reception of the five classes, into which the eight hundred urchins
who styled thee instructress were divided.  Thy learned rector and his
four subordinate dominies; thy strange old porter of the tall form and
grizzled hair, hight Boee, and doubtless of Norse ancestry, as his name
declares; perhaps of the blood of Bui hin Digri, the hero of northern
song—the Jomsborg Viking who clove Thorsteinn Midlangr asunder in the
dread sea battle of Horunga Vog, and who, when the fight was lost and his
own two hands smitten off, seized two chests of gold with his bloody
stumps, and, springing with them into the sea, cried to the scanty relics
of his crew, ‘Overboard now, all Bui’s lads!’  Yes, I remember all about
thee, and how at eight of every morn we were all gathered together with
one accord in the long hall, from which, after the litanies had been read
(for so I will call them, being an Episcopalian), the five classes from
the five sets of benches trotted off in long files, one boy after the
other, up the five spiral staircases of stone, each class to its
destination; and well do I remember how we of the third sat hushed and
still, watched by the eye of the dux, until the door opened, and in
walked that model of a good Scotchman, the shrewd, intelligent, but
warm-hearted and kind dominie, the respectable Carson.

And in this school I began to construe the Latin language, which I had
never done before, notwithstanding my long and diligent study of Lilly,
which illustrious grammar was not used at Edinburgh, nor indeed known.
Greek was only taught in the fifth or highest class, in which my brother
was; as for myself, I never got beyond the third during the two years
that I remained at this seminary.  I certainly acquired here a
considerable insight in the Latin tongue; and, to the scandal of my
father and horror of my mother, a thorough proficiency in the Scotch,
which, in less than two months, usurped the place of the English, and so
obstinately maintained its ground, that I still can occasionally detect
its lingering remains.  I did not spend my time unpleasantly at this
school, though, first of all, I had to pass through an ordeal.

‘Scotland is a better country than England,’ said an ugly, blear-eyed
lad, about a head and shoulders taller than myself, the leader of a gang
of varlets who surrounded me in the play-ground, on the first day, as
soon as the morning lesson was over.  ‘Scotland is a far better country
than England, in every respect.’

‘Is it?’ said I.  ‘Then you ought to be very thankful for not having been
born in England.’

‘That’s just what I am, ye loon; and every morning, when I say my
prayers, I thank God for not being an Englishman.  The Scotch are a much
better and braver people than the English.’

‘It may be so,’ said I, ‘for what I know—indeed, till I came here, I
never heard a word either about the Scotch or their country.’

‘Are ye making fun of us, ye English puppy?’ said the blear-eyed lad;
‘take that!’ and I was presently beaten black and blue.  And thus did I
first become aware of the difference of races and their antipathy to each
other.

‘Bow to the storm, and it shall pass over you.’  I held my peace, and
silently submitted to the superiority of the Scotch—_in numbers_.  This
was enough; from an object of persecution I soon became one of patronage,
especially amongst the champions of the class.  ‘The English,’ said the
blear-eyed lad, ‘though a wee bit behind the Scotch in strength and
fortitude, are nae to be sneezed at, being far ahead of the Irish, to say
nothing of the French, a pack of cowardly scoundrels.  And with regard to
the English country, it is na Scotland, it is true, but it has its gude
properties; and, though there is ne’er a haggis in a’ the land, there’s
an unco deal o’ gowd and siller.  I respect England, for I have an auntie
married there.’

The Scotch are certainly a most pugnacious people; their whole history
proves it.  Witness their incessant wars with the English in the olden
time, and their internal feuds, highland and lowland, clan with clan,
family with family, Saxon with Gael.  In my time, the schoolboys, for
want, perhaps, of English urchins to contend with, were continually
fighting with each other; every noon there was at least one pugilistic
encounter, and sometimes three.  In one month I witnessed more of these
encounters than I had ever previously seen under similar circumstances in
England.  After all, there was not much harm done.  Harm! what harm could
result from short chopping blows, a hug, and a tumble?  I was witness to
many a sounding whack, some blood shed, ‘a blue e’e’ now and then, but
nothing more.  In England, on the contrary, where the lads were
comparatively mild, gentle, and pacific, I had been present at more than
one death caused by blows in boyish combats, in which the oldest of the
victors had scarcely reached thirteen years; but these blows were in the
jugular, given with the full force of the arm shot out horizontally from
the shoulder.

But the Scotch—though by no means proficients in boxing (and how should
they box, seeing that they have never had a teacher?)—are, I repeat, a
most pugnacious people; at least they were in my time.  Anything served
them, that is, the urchins, as a pretence for a fray, or, Dorically
speaking, a _bicker_; every street and close was at feud with its
neighbour; the lads of the school were at feud with the young men of the
college, whom they pelted in winter with snow, and in summer with stones;
and then the feud between the old and new town!

One day I was standing on the ramparts of the Castle on the south-western
side which overhangs the green brae, where it slopes down into what was
in those days the green swamp or morass, called by the natives of Auld
Reekie the Nor’ Loch; it was a dark gloomy day, and a thin veil of mist
was beginning to settle down upon the brae and the morass.  I could
perceive, however, that there was a skirmish taking place in the latter
spot.  I had an indistinct view of two parties—apparently of urchins—and
I heard whoops and shrill cries: eager to know the cause of this
disturbance, I left the Castle, and descending the brae reached the
borders of the morass, where were a runnel of water and the remains of an
old wall, on the other side of which a narrow path led across the swamp:
upon this path at a little distance before me there was ‘a bicker.’  I
pushed forward, but had scarcely crossed the ruined wall and runnel, when
the party nearest to me gave way, and in great confusion came running in
my direction.  As they drew nigh, one of them shouted to me, ‘Wha are ye,
man? are ye o’ the Auld Toon?’  I made no answer.  ‘Ha! ye are o’ the New
Toon; De’il tak ye, we’ll moorder ye’; and the next moment a huge stone
sung past my head.  ‘Let me be, ye fule bodies,’ said I, ‘I’m no of
either of ye, I live yonder aboon in the Castle.’  ‘Ah! ye live in the
Castle; then ye’re an auld tooner; come gie us your help, man, and dinna
stand there staring like a dunnot, we want help sair eneugh.  Here are
stanes.’

For my own part I wished for nothing better, and, rushing forward, I
placed myself at the head of my new associates, and commenced flinging
stones fast and desperately.  The other party now gave way in their turn,
closely followed by ourselves; I was in the van, and about to stretch out
my hand to seize the hindermost boy of the enemy, when, not being
acquainted with the miry and difficult paths of the Nor’ Loch, and in my
eagerness taking no heed of my footing, I plunged into a quagmire, into
which I sank as far as my shoulders.  Our adversaries no sooner perceived
this disaster, than, setting up a shout, they wheeled round and attacked
us most vehemently.  Had my comrades now deserted me, my life had not
been worth a straw’s purchase, I should either have been smothered in the
quag, or, what is more probable, had my brains beaten out with stones;
but they behaved like true Scots, and fought stoutly around their
comrade, until I was extricated, whereupon both parties retired, the
night being near at hand.

‘Ye are na a bad hand at flinging stanes,’ said the lad who first
addressed me, as we now returned up the brae; ‘your aim is right
dangerous, mon, I saw how ye skelpit them, ye maun help us agin thae New
Toon blackguards at our next bicker.’

So to the next bicker I went, and to many more, which speedily followed
as the summer advanced; the party to which I had given my help on the
first occasion consisted merely of outlyers, posted about half-way up the
hill, for the purpose of overlooking the movements of the enemy.

Did the latter draw nigh in any considerable force, messengers were
forthwith despatched to the ‘Auld Toon,’ especially to the filthy alleys
and closes of the High Street, which forthwith would disgorge swarms of
bare-headed and bare-footed ‘callants,’ who, with gestures wild and
‘eldrich screech and hollo,’ might frequently be seen pouring down the
sides of the hill.  I have seen upwards of a thousand engaged on either
side in these frays, which I have no doubt were full as desperate as the
fights described in the _Iliad_, and which were certainly much more
bloody than the combats of modern Greece in the war of independence: the
callants not only employed their hands in hurling stones, but not
unfrequently slings; at the use of which they were very expert, and which
occasionally dislodged teeth, shattered jaws, or knocked out an eye.  Our
opponents certainly laboured under considerable disadvantage, being
compelled not only to wade across a deceitful bog, but likewise to
clamber up part of a steep hill, before they could attack us;
nevertheless, their determination was such, and such their impetuosity,
that we had sometimes difficulty enough to maintain our own.  I shall
never forget one bicker, the last indeed which occurred at that time, as
the authorities of the town, alarmed by the desperation of its character,
stationed forthwith a body of police on the hillside, to prevent, in
future, any such breaches of the peace.

It was a beautiful Sunday evening, the rays of the descending sun were
reflected redly from the grey walls of the Castle, and from the black
rocks on which it was founded.  The bicker had long since commenced,
stones from sling and hand were flying; but the callants of the New Town
were now carrying everything before them.

A full-grown baker’s apprentice was at their head; he was foaming with
rage, and had taken the field, as I was told, in order to avenge his
brother, whose eye had been knocked out in one of the late bickers.  He
was no slinger, or flinger, but brandished in his right hand the spoke of
a cart-wheel, like my countryman Tom Hickathrift of old in his encounter
with the giant of the Lincolnshire fen.  Protected by a piece of
wicker-work attached to his left arm, he rushed on to the fray,
disregarding the stones which were showered against him, and was ably
seconded by his followers.  Our own party was chased half-way up the
hill, where I was struck to the ground by the baker, after having been
foiled in an attempt which I had made to fling a handful of earth into
his eyes.  All now appeared lost, the Auld Toon was in full retreat.  I
myself lay at the baker’s feet, who had just raised his spoke, probably
to give me the _coup de grace_,—it was an awful moment.  Just then I
heard a shout and a rushing sound; a wild-looking figure is descending
the hill with terrible bounds; it is a lad of some fifteen years; he is
bare-headed, and his red uncombed hair stands on end like hedgehogs’
bristles: his frame is lithy, like that of an antelope, but he has
prodigious breadth of chest; he wears a military undress, that of the
regiment, even of a drummer, for it is wild Davy, whom a month before I
had seen enlisted on Leith Links to serve King George with drum and
drumstick as long as his services might be required, and who, ere a week
had elapsed, had smitten with his fist Drum-Major Elzigood, who, incensed
at his inaptitude, had threatened him with his cane; he has been in
confinement for weeks, this is the first day of his liberation, and he is
now descending the hill with horrid bounds and shoutings; he is now about
five yards distant, and the baker, who apprehends that something
dangerous is at hand, prepares himself for the encounter; but what avails
the strength of a baker, even full grown?—what avails the defence of a
wicker shield?—what avails the wheel-spoke, should there be an
opportunity of using it, against the impetus of an avalanche or a
cannon-ball?—for to either of these might that wild figure be compared,
which, at the distance of five yards, sprang at once with head, hands,
feet and body, all together, upon the champion of the New Town, tumbling
him to the earth amain.  And now it was the turn of the Old Town to
triumph.  Our late discomfited host, returning on its steps, overwhelmed
the fallen champion with blows of every kind, and then, led on by his
vanquisher, who had assumed his arms, namely, the wheel-spoke and wicker
shield, fairly cleared the brae of their adversaries, whom they drove
down headlong into the morass.



CHAPTER EIGHT


EXPERT CLIMBERS—THE CRAGS—SOMETHING RED—THE HORRIBLE EDGE—DAVID
HAGGART—FINE MATERIALS—VICTORY—EXTRAORDINARY ROBBER—RULING PASSION

Meanwhile I had become a daring cragsman, a character to which an English
lad has seldom opportunities of aspiring; for in England there are
neither crags nor mountains.  Of these, however, as is well known, there
is no lack in Scotland, and the habits of individuals are invariably in
harmony with the country in which they dwell.  The Scotch are expert
climbers, and I was now a Scot in most things, particularly in language.
The Castle in which I dwelt stood upon a rock, a bold and craggy one,
which, at first sight, would seem to bid defiance to any feet save those
of goats and chamois; but patience and perseverance generally enable
mankind to overcome things which, at first sight, appear impossible.
Indeed, what is there above man’s exertions?  Unwearied determination
will enable him to run with the horse, to swim with the fish, and
assuredly to compete with the chamois and the goat in agility and
sureness of foot.  To scale the rock was merely child’s play for the
Edinbro’ callants.  It was my own favourite diversion.  I soon found that
the rock contained all manner of strange crypts, crannies, and recesses,
where owls nestled, and the weasel brought forth her young; here and
there were small natural platforms, overgrown with long grass and various
kinds of plants, where the climber, if so disposed, could stretch
himself, and either give his eyes to sleep or his mind to thought; for
capital places were these same platforms either for repose or meditation.
The boldest features of the rock are descried on the northern side,
where, after shelving down gently from the wall for some distance, it
terminates abruptly in a precipice, black and horrible, of some three
hundred feet at least, as if the axe of nature had been here employed
cutting sheer down, and leaving behind neither excrescence nor spur—a
dizzy precipice it is, assimilating much to those so frequent in the
flinty hills of Northern Africa, and exhibiting some distant resemblance
to that of Gibraltar, towering in its horridness above the Neutral
Ground.

It was now holiday time, and having nothing particular wherewith to
occupy myself, I not unfrequently passed the greater part of the day upon
the rocks.  Once, after scaling the western crags, and creeping round a
sharp angle of the wall, overhung by a kind of watch-tower, I found
myself on the northern side.  Still keeping close to the wall, I was
proceeding onward, for I was bent upon a long excursion which should
embrace half the circuit of the Castle, when suddenly my eye was
attracted by the appearance of something red, far below me; I stopped
short, and, looking fixedly upon it, perceived that it was a human being
in a kind of red jacket, seated on the extreme verge of the precipice
which I have already made a faint attempt to describe.  Wondering who it
could be, I shouted; but it took not the slightest notice, remaining as
immovable as the rock on which it sat.  ‘I should never have thought of
going near that edge,’ said I to myself; ‘however, as you have done it,
why should not I?  And I should like to know who you are.’  So I
commenced the descent of the rock, but with great care, for I had as yet
never been in a situation so dangerous; a slight moisture exuded from the
palms of my hands, my nerves were tingling, and my brain was somewhat
dizzy—and now I had arrived within a few yards of the figure, and had
recognised it: it was the wild drummer who had turned the tide of battle
in the bicker on the Castle Brae.  A small stone which I dislodged now
rolled down the rock, and tumbled into the abyss close beside him.  He
turned his head, and after looking at me for a moment somewhat vacantly,
he resumed his former attitude.  I drew yet nearer to the horrible edge;
not close, however, for fear was on me.

‘What are you thinking of, David?’ said I, as I sat behind him and
trembled, for I repeat that I was afraid.

_David Haggart_.  I was thinking of Willie Wallace.

_Myself_.  You had better be thinking of yourself, man.  A strange place
this to come to and think of William Wallace.

_David Haggart_.  Why so?  Is not his tower just beneath our feet?

_Myself_.  You mean the auld ruin by the side of the Nor’ Loch—the ugly
stane bulk, from the foot of which flows the spring into the dyke where
the watercresses grow?

_David Haggart_.  Just sae, Geordie.

_Myself_.  And why were ye thinking of him?  The English hanged him long
since, as I have heard say.

_David Haggart_.  I was thinking that I should wish to be like him.

_Myself_.  Do ye mean that ye would wish to be hanged?

_David Haggart_.  I wadna flinch from that, Geordie, if I might be a
great man first.

_Myself_.  And wha kens, Davie, how great you may be, even without
hanging?  Are ye not in the high road of preferment?  Are ye not a bauld
drummer already?  Wha kens how high ye may rise? perhaps to be general,
or drum-major.

_David Haggart_.  I hae nae wish to be drum-major; it were nae great
things to be like the doited carle, Else-than-gude, as they call him;
and, troth, he has nae his name for naething.  But I should have nae
objection to be a general, and to fight the French and Americans, and win
myself a name and a fame like Willie Wallace, and do brave deeds, such as
I have been reading about in his story book.

_Myself_.  Ye are a fule, Davie; the story book is full of lies.
Wallace, indeed! the wuddie rebel!  I have heard my father say that the
Duke of Cumberland was worth twenty of Willie Wallace.

_David Haggart_.  Ye had better sae naething agin Willie Wallace,
Geordie, for, if ye do, De’il hae me, if I dinna tumble ye doon the
craig.

                                * * * * *

Fine materials in that lad for a hero, you will say.  Yes, indeed, for a
hero, or for what he afterwards became.  In other times, and under other
circumstances, he might have made what is generally termed a great man, a
patriot, or a conqueror.  As it was, the very qualities which might then
have pushed him on to fortune and renown were the cause of his ruin.  The
war over, he fell into evil courses; for his wild heart and ambitious
spirit could not brook the sober and quiet pursuits of honest industry.

‘Can an Arabian steed submit to be a vile drudge?’ cries the fatalist.
Nonsense!  A man is not an irrational creature, but a reasoning being,
and has something within him beyond mere brutal instinct.  The greatest
victory which a man can achieve is over himself, by which is meant those
unruly passions which are not convenient to the time and place.  David
did not do this; he gave the reins to his wild heart, instead of curbing
it, and became a robber, and, alas! alas! he shed blood—under peculiar
circumstances, it is true, and without _malice prepense_—and for that
blood he eventually died, and justly; for it was that of the warden of a
prison from which he was escaping, and whom he slew with one blow of his
stalwart arm.

Tamerlane and Haggart!  Haggart and Tamerlane!  Both these men were
robbers, and of low birth, yet one perished on an ignoble scaffold, and
the other died emperor of the world.  Is this justice?  The ends of the
two men were widely dissimilar—yet what is the intrinsic difference
between them?  Very great indeed; the one acted according to his lights
and his country, not so the other.  Tamerlane was a heathen, and acted
according to his lights; he was a robber where all around were robbers,
but he became the avenger of God—God’s scourge on unjust kings, on the
cruel Bajazet, who had plucked out his own brothers’ eyes; he became to a
certain extent the purifier of the East, its regenerator; his equal never
was before, nor has it since been seen.  Here the wild heart was
profitably employed, the wild strength, the teeming brain.  Onward, Lame
one!  Onward, Tamur!—lank!  Haggart. . . .

But peace to thee, poor David! why should a mortal worm be sitting in
judgment over thee?  The Mighty and Just One has already judged thee, and
perhaps above thou hast received pardon for thy crimes, which could not
be pardoned here below; and now that thy feverish existence has closed,
and thy once active form become inanimate dust, thy very memory all but
forgotten, I will say a few words about thee, a few words soon also to be
forgotten.  Thou wast the most extraordinary robber that ever lived
within the belt of Britain; Scotland rang with thy exploits, and England,
too, north of the Humber; strange deeds also didst thou achieve when,
fleeing from justice, thou didst find thyself in the Sister Isle; busy
wast thou there in town and on curragh, at fair and racecourse, and also
in the solitary place.  Ireland thought thee her child, for who spoke her
brogue better than thyself?—she felt proud of thee, and said, ‘Sure,
O’Hanlon is come again.’  What might not have been thy fate in the far
west in America, whither thou hadst turned thine eye, saying, ‘I will go
there, and become an honest man!’  But thou wast not to go there,
David—the blood which thou hadst shed in Scotland was to be required of
thee; the avenger was at hand, the avenger of blood.  Seized, manacled,
brought back to thy native land, condemned to die, thou wast left in thy
narrow cell, and told to make the most of thy time, for it was short: and
there, in thy narrow cell, and thy time so short, thou didst put the
crowning stone to thy strange deeds, by that strange history of thyself,
penned by thine own hand in the robber tongue.  Thou mightest have been
better employed, David!—but the ruling passion was strong with thee, even
in the jaws of death.  Thou mightest have been better employed!—but peace
be with thee, I repeat, and the Almighty’s grace and pardon.



CHAPTER NINE


NAPOLEON—THE STORM—THE COVE—UP THE COUNTRY—THE TREMBLING HAND—IRISH—TOUGH
BATTLE—TIPPERARY HILLS—ELEGANT LODGINGS—FAIR SPECIMEN

Onward, onward! and after we had sojourned in Scotland nearly two years,
the long continental war had been brought to an end, Napoleon was humbled
for a time, and the Bourbons restored to a land which could well have
dispensed with them; we returned to England, where the corps was
disbanded, and my parents with their family retired to private life.  I
shall pass over in silence the events of a year, which offer little of
interest as far as connected with me and mine.  Suddenly, however, the
sound of war was heard again, Napoleon had broken forth from Elba, and
everything was in confusion.  Vast military preparations were again made,
our own corps was levied anew, and my brother became an officer in it;
but the danger was soon over, Napoleon was once more quelled, and chained
for ever, like Prometheus, to his rock.  As the corps, however, though so
recently levied, had already become a very fine one, thanks to my
father’s energetic drilling, the Government very properly determined to
turn it to some account, and, as disturbances were apprehended in Ireland
about this period, it occurred to them that they could do no better than
despatch it to that country.

In the autumn of the year 1815 we set sail from a port in Essex; we were
some eight hundred strong, and were embarked in two ships, very large,
but old and crazy; a storm overtook us when off Beachy Head, in which we
had nearly foundered.  I was awakened early in the morning by the howling
of the wind and the uproar on deck.  I kept myself close, however, as is
still my constant practice on similar occasions, and waited the result
with that apathy and indifference which violent sea-sickness is sure to
produce.  We shipped several seas, and once the vessel missing
stays—which, to do it justice, it generally did at every third or fourth
tack—we escaped almost by a miracle from being dashed upon the foreland.
On the eighth day of our voyage we were in sight of Ireland.  The weather
was now calm and serene, the sun shone brightly on the sea and on certain
green hills in the distance, on which I descried what at first sight I
believed to be two ladies gathering flowers, which, however, on our
nearer approach, proved to be two tall white towers, doubtless built for
some purpose or other, though I did not learn for what.

We entered a kind of bay, or cove, by a narrow inlet; it was a beautiful
and romantic place this cove, very spacious, and, being nearly
land-locked, was sheltered from every wind.  A small island, every inch
of which was covered with fortifications, appeared to swim upon the
waters, whose dark blue denoted their immense depth; tall green hills,
which ascended gradually from the shore, formed the background to the
west; they were carpeted to the top with turf of the most vivid green,
and studded here and there with woods, seemingly of oak; there was a
strange old castle half-way up the ascent, a village on a crag—but the
mists of morning were half veiling the scene when I surveyed it, and the
mists of time are now hanging densely between it and my no longer
youthful eye; I may not describe it;—nor will I try.

Leaving the ship in the cove, we passed up a wide river in boats till we
came to a city, where we disembarked.  It was a large city, as large as
Edinburgh to my eyes; there were plenty of fine houses, but little
neatness; the streets were full of impurities; handsome equipages rolled
along, but the greater part of the population were in rags; beggars
abounded; there was no lack of merriment, however; boisterous shouts of
laughter were heard on every side.  It appeared a city of contradictions.
After a few days’ rest we marched from this place in two divisions.  My
father commanded the second, I walked by his side.

Our route lay up the country; the country at first offered no very
remarkable feature, it was pretty, but tame.  On the second day, however,
its appearance had altered, it had become more wild; a range of distant
mountains bounded the horizon.  We passed through several villages, as I
suppose I may term them, of low huts, the walls formed of rough stones
without mortar, the roof of flags laid over wattles and wicker-work; they
seemed to be inhabited solely by women and children; the latter were
naked, the former, in general, blear-eyed beldames, who sat beside the
doors on low stools, spinning.  We saw, however, both men and women
working at a distance in the fields.

I was thirsty; and going up to an ancient crone, employed in the manner
which I have described, I asked her for water; she looked me in the face,
appeared to consider a moment, then tottering into her hut, presently
reappeared with a small pipkin of milk, which she offered to me with a
trembling hand.  I drank the milk; it was sour, but I found it highly
refreshing.  I then took out a penny and offered it to her, whereupon she
shook her head, smiled, and, patting my face with her skinny hand,
murmured some words in a tongue which I had never heard before.

I walked on by my father’s side, holding the stirrup-leather of his
horse; presently several low uncouth cars passed by, drawn by starved
cattle: the drivers were tall fellows, with dark features and athletic
frames—they wore long loose blue cloaks with sleeves, which last,
however, dangled unoccupied: these cloaks appeared in tolerably good
condition, not so their under garments.  On their heads were broad
slouching hats: the generality of them were bare-footed.  As they passed,
the soldiers jested with them in the patois of East Anglia, whereupon the
fellows laughed, and appeared to jest with the soldiers; but what they
said who knows, it being in a rough guttural language, strange and wild.
The soldiers stared at each other, and were silent.

‘A strange language that!’ said a young officer to my father, ‘I don’t
understand a word of it; what can it be?’

‘Irish!’ said my father, with a loud voice, ‘and a bad language it is, I
have known it of old, that is, I have often heard it spoken when I was a
guardsman in London.  There’s one part of London where all the Irish
live—at least all the worst of them—and there they hatch their villainies
and speak this tongue; it is that which keeps them together and makes
them dangerous: I was once sent there to seize a couple of
deserters—Irish—who had taken refuge amongst their companions; we found
them in what was in my time called a ken, that is a house where only
thieves and desperadoes are to be found.  Knowing on what kind of
business I was bound, I had taken with me a sergeant’s party; it was well
I did so.  We found the deserters in a large room, with at least thirty
ruffians, horrid-looking fellows, seated about a long table, drinking,
swearing, and talking Irish.  Ah! we had a tough battle, I remember; the
two fellows did nothing, but sat still, thinking it best to be quiet; but
the rest, with an ubbubboo like the blowing up of a powder magazine,
sprang up, brandishing their sticks; for these fellows always carry
sticks with them even to bed, and not unfrequently spring up in their
sleep, striking left and right.’

‘And did you take the deserters?’ said the officer.

‘Yes,’ said my father; ‘for we formed at the end of the room, and charged
with fixed bayonets, which compelled the others to yield notwithstanding
their numbers; but the worst was when we got out into the street; the
whole district had become alarmed, and hundreds came pouring down upon
us—men, women, and children.  Women, did I say!—they looked fiends, half
naked, with their hair hanging down over their bosoms; they tore up the
very pavement to hurl at us, sticks rang about our ears, stones, and
Irish—I liked the Irish worst of all, it sounded so horrid, especially as
I did not understand it.  It’s a bad language.’

‘A queer tongue,’ said I; ‘I wonder if I could learn it.’

‘Learn it!’ said my father; ‘what should you learn it for?—however, I am
not afraid of that.  It is not like Scotch, no person can learn it, save
those who are born to it, and even in Ireland the respectable people do
not speak it, only the wilder sort, like those we have passed.’

Within a day or two we had reached a tall range of mountains running
north and south, which I was told were those of Tipperary; along the
skirts of these we proceeded till we came to a town, the principal one of
these regions.  It was on the bank of a beautiful river, which separated
it from the mountains.  It was rather an ancient place, and might contain
some ten thousand inhabitants—I found that it was our destination; there
were extensive barracks at the farther end, in which the corps took up
its quarters; with respect to ourselves, we took lodgings in a house
which stood in the principal street.

‘You never saw more elegant lodgings than these, captain,’ said the
master of the house, a tall, handsome, and athletic man, who came up
whilst our little family were seated at dinner late in the afternoon of
the day of our arrival; ‘they beat anything in this town of Clonmel.  I
do not let them for the sake of interest, and to none but gentlemen in
the army, in order that myself and my wife, who is from Londonderry, may
have the advantage of pleasant company, genteel company; ay, and
Protestant company, captain.  It did my heart good when I saw your honour
ride in at the head of all those fine fellows, real Protestants, I’ll
engage, not a Papist among them, they are too good-looking and
honest-looking for that.  So I no sooner saw your honour at the head of
your army, with that handsome young gentleman holding by your stirrup,
than I said to my wife, Mistress Hyne, who is from Londonderry, “God
bless me,” said I, “what a truly Protestant countenance, what a noble
bearing, and what a sweet young gentleman.  By the silver hairs of his
honour”—and sure enough I never saw hairs more regally silver than those
of your honour—“by his honour’s grey silver hairs, and by my own soul,
which is not worthy to be mentioned in the same day with one of them—it
would be no more than decent and civil to run out and welcome such a
father and son coming in at the head of such a Protestant military.”  And
then my wife, who is from Londonderry, Mistress Hyne, looking me in the
face like a fairy as she is, “You may say that,” says she.  “It would be
but decent and civil, honey.”  And your honour knows how I ran out of my
own door and welcomed your honour riding in company with your son, who
was walking; how I welcomed ye both at the head of your royal regiment,
and how I shook your honour by the hand, saying, I am glad to see your
honour, and your honour’s son, and your honour’s royal military
Protestant regiment.  And now I have you in the house, and right proud I
am to have ye one and all; one, two, three, four, true Protestants every
one, no Papists here; and I have made bold to bring up a bottle of claret
which is now waiting behind the door; and, when your honour and your
family have dined, I will make bold too to bring up Mistress Hyne, from
Londonderry, to introduce to your honour’s lady, and then we’ll drink to
the health of King George, God bless him; to the “glorious and
immortal”—to Boyne water—to your honour’s speedy promotion to be Lord
Lieutenant, and to the speedy downfall of the Pope and Saint Anthony of
Padua.’

Such was the speech of the Irish Protestant addressed to my father in the
long lofty dining-room with three windows, looking upon the high street
of the good town of Clonmel, as he sat at meat with his family, after
saying grace like a true-hearted respectable soldier as he was.

‘A bigot and an Orangeman!’  Oh yes!  It is easier to apply epithets of
opprobrium to people than to make yourself acquainted with their history
and position.  He was a specimen, and a fair specimen, of a most
remarkable body of men, who during two centuries have fought a good fight
in Ireland in the cause of civilisation and religious truth; they were
sent as colonists, few in number, into a barbarous and unhappy country,
where ever since, though surrounded with difficulties of every kind, they
have maintained their ground; theirs has been no easy life, nor have
their lines fallen upon very pleasant places; amidst darkness they have
held up a lamp, and it would be well for Ireland were all her children
like these her adopted ones.  ‘But they are fierce and sanguinary,’ it is
said.  Ay, ay! they have not unfrequently opposed the keen sword to the
savage pike.  ‘But they are bigoted and narrow-minded.’  Ay, ay! they do
not like idolatry, and will not bow the knee before a stone!  ‘But their
language is frequently indecorous.’  Go to, my dainty one, did ye ever
listen to the voice of Papist cursing?

The Irish Protestants have faults, numerous ones; but the greater number
of these may be traced to the peculiar circumstances of their position:
but they have virtues, numerous ones; and their virtues are their own,
their industry, their energy, and their undaunted resolution are their
own.  They have been vilified and traduced—but what would Ireland be
without them?  I repeat, that it would be well for her were all her sons
no worse than these much-calumniated children of her adoption.



CHAPTER TEN


PROTESTANT YOUNG GENTLEMEN—THE GREEK LETTERS—OPEN CHIMNEY—MURTAGH—PARIS
AND SALAMANCA—NOTHING TO DO—TO WHIT, TO WHOO!—CHRISTMAS

We continued at this place for some months, during which time the
soldiers performed their duties, whatever they were; and I, having no
duties to perform, was sent to school.  I had been to English schools,
and to the celebrated one of Edinburgh; but my education, at the present
day, would not be what it is—perfect, had I never had the honour of being
_alumnus_ in an Irish seminary.

‘Captain,’ said our kind host, ‘you would, no doubt, wish that the young
gentleman should enjoy every advantage which the town may afford towards
helping him on in the path of genteel learning.  It’s a great pity that
he should waste his time in idleness—doing nothing else than what he says
he has been doing for the last fortnight—fishing in the river for trouts
which he never catches; and wandering up the glen in the mountain, in
search of the hips that grow there.  Now, we have a school here, where he
can learn the most elegant Latin, and get an insight into the Greek
letters, which is desirable; and where, moreover, he will have an
opportunity of making acquaintance with all the Protestant young
gentlemen of the place, the handsome well-dressed young persons whom your
honour sees in the church on the Sundays, when your honour goes there in
the morning, with the rest of the Protestant military; for it is no
Papist school, though there may be a Papist or two there—a few poor
farmers’ sons from the country, with whom there is no necessity for your
honour’s child to form any acquaintance at all, at all!’

And to the school I went, where I read the Latin tongue and the Greek
letters, with a nice old clergyman, who sat behind a black oaken desk,
with a huge Elzevir Flaccus before him, in a long gloomy kind of hall,
with a broken stone floor, the roof festooned with cobwebs, the walls
considerably dilapidated, and covered over with strange figures and
hieroglyphics, evidently produced by the application of burnt stick; and
there I made acquaintance with the Protestant young gentlemen of the
place, who, with whatever _éclat_ they might appear at church on a
Sunday, did assuredly not exhibit to much advantage in the schoolroom on
the week days, either with respect to clothes or looks.  And there I was
in the habit of sitting on a large stone, before the roaring fire in the
huge open chimney, and entertaining certain of the Protestant young
gentlemen of my own age, seated on similar stones, with extraordinary
accounts of my own adventures, and those of the corps, with an occasional
anecdote extracted from the story-books of Hickathrift and Wight Wallace,
pretending to be conning the lesson all the while.

And there I made acquaintance, notwithstanding the hint of the landlord,
with the Papist ‘gossoons,’ as they were called, the farmers’ sons from
the country; and of these gossoons, of whom there were three, two might
be reckoned as nothing at all; in the third, however, I soon discovered
that there was something extraordinary.

He was about sixteen years old, and above six feet high, dressed in a
grey suit; the coat, from its size, appeared to have been made for him
some ten years before.  He was remarkably narrow-chested and
round-shouldered, owing, perhaps as much to the tightness of his garment
as to the hand of nature.  His face was long, and his complexion swarthy,
relieved, however, by certain freckles, with which the skin was
plentifully studded.  He had strange wandering eyes, grey, and somewhat
unequal in size; they seldom rested on the book, but were generally
wandering about the room, from one object to another.  Sometimes he would
fix them intently on the wall, and then suddenly starting, as if from a
reverie, he would commence making certain mysterious movements with his
thumbs and forefingers, as if he were shuffling something from him.

One morning, as he sat by himself on a bench, engaged in this manner, I
went up to him, and said, ‘Good-day, Murtagh; you do not seem to have
much to do?’

‘Faith, you may say that, Shorsha dear!—it is seldom much to do that I
have.’

‘And what are you doing with your hands?’

‘Faith, then, if I must tell you, I was e’en dealing with the cards.’

‘Do you play much at cards?’

‘Sorra a game, Shorsha, have I played with the cards since my uncle
Phelim, the thief, stole away the ould pack, when he went to settle in
the county Waterford!’

‘But you have other things to do?’

‘Sorra anything else has Murtagh to do that he cares about; and that
makes me dread so going home at nights.’

‘I should like to know all about you; where do you live, joy?’

‘Faith, then, ye shall know all about me, and where I live.  It is at a
place called the Wilderness that I live, and they call it so, because it
is a fearful wild place, without any house near it but my father’s own;
and that’s where I live when at home.’

‘And your father is a farmer, I suppose?’

‘You may say that; and it is a farmer I should have been, like my brother
Denis, had not my uncle Phelim, the thief, tould my father to send me to
school, to learn Greek letters, that I might be made a saggart of, and
sent to Paris and Salamanca.’

‘And you would rather be a farmer than a priest?’

‘You may say that!—for, were I a farmer, like the rest, I should have
something to do, like the rest—something that I cared for—and I should
come home tired at night, and fall asleep, as the rest do, before the
fire; but when I comes home at night I am not tired, for I have been
doing nothing all day that I care for; and then I sits down and stares
about me, and at the fire, till I become frighted; and then I shouts to
my brother Denis, or to the gossoons, “Get up, I say, and let’s be doing
something; tell us the tale of Finn-ma-Coul, and how he lay down in the
Shannon’s bed, and let the river flow down his jaws!”  Arrah, Shorsha! I
wish you would come and stay with us, and tell us some o’ your sweet
stories of your own self and the snake ye carried about wid ye.  Faith,
Shorsha dear! that snake bates anything about Finn-ma-Coul or Brian
Boroo, the thieves two, bad luck to them!’

‘And do they get up and tell you stories?’

‘Sometimes they does, but oftenmost they curses me, and bids me be quiet!
But I can’t be quiet, either before the fire or abed; so I runs out of
the house, and stares at the rocks, at the trees, and sometimes at the
clouds, as they run a race across the bright moon; and, the more I
stares, the more frighted I grows, till I screeches and holloas.  And
last night I went into the barn, and hid my face in the straw; and there,
as I lay and shivered in the straw, I heard a voice above my head singing
out “To whit, to whoo!” and then up I starts, and runs into the house,
and falls over my brother Denis, as he lies at the fire.  “What’s that
for?” says he.  “Get up, you thief!” says I, “and be helping me.  I have
been out into the barn, and an owl has crow’d at me!”’

‘And what has this to do with playing cards?’

‘Little enough, Shorsha dear!—If there were card-playing, I should not be
frighted.’

‘And why do you not play at cards?’

‘Did I not tell you that the thief, my uncle Phelim, stole away the pack?
If we had the pack, my brother Denis and the gossoons would be ready
enough to get up from their sleep before the fire, and play cards with me
for ha’pence, or eggs, or nothing at all; but the pack is gone—bad luck
to the thief who took it!’

‘And why don’t you buy another?’

‘Is it of buying you are speaking?  And where am I to get the money?’

‘Ah! that’s another thing!’

‘Faith it is, honey!—And now the Christmas holidays is coming, when I
shall be at home by day as well as night, and then what am I to do?
Since I have been a saggarting, I have been good for nothing at
all—neither for work nor Greek—only to play cards!  Faith, it’s going mad
I will be!’

‘I say, Murtagh!’

‘Yes, Shorsha dear!’

‘I have a pack of cards.’

‘You don’t say so, Shorsha ma vourneen?—you don’t say that you have cards
fifty-two?’

‘I do, though; and they are quite new—never been once used.’

‘And you’ll be lending them to me, I warrant?’

‘Don’t think it!—But I’ll sell them to you, joy, if you like.’

‘Hanam mon Dioul! am I not after telling you that I have no money at
all!’

‘But you have as good as money, to me, at least; and I’ll take it in
exchange.’

‘What’s that, Shorsha dear?’

‘Irish!’

‘Irish?’

‘Yes, you speak Irish; I heard you talking it the other day to the
cripple.  You shall teach me Irish.’

‘And is it a language-master you’d be making of me?’

‘To be sure!—what better can you do?—it would help you to pass your time
at school.  You can’t learn Greek, so you must teach Irish!’

Before Christmas, Murtagh was playing at cards with his brother Denis,
and I could speak a considerable quantity of broken Irish.



CHAPTER ELEVEN


TEMPLEMORE—DEVIL’S MOUNTAIN—NO COMPANION—FORCE OF CIRCUMSTANCE—WAY OF THE
WORLD—RUINED CASTLE—GRIM & DESOLATE—DONJON—MY OWN HOUSE

When Christmas was over, and the new year commenced, we broke up our
quarters, and marched away to Templemore.  This was a large military
station, situated in a wild and thinly inhabited country.  Extensive bogs
were in the neighbourhood, connected with the huge bog of Allen, the
Palus Mæotis of Ireland.  Here and there was seen a ruined castle looming
through the mists of winter; whilst, at the distance of seven miles, rose
a singular mountain, exhibiting in its brow a chasm, or vacuum, just, for
all the world, as if a piece had been bitten out; a feat which, according
to the tradition of the country, had actually been performed by his
Satanic majesty, who, after flying for some leagues with the morsel in
his mouth, becoming weary, dropped it in the vicinity of Cashel, where it
may now be seen in the shape of a bold bluff hill, crowned with the ruins
of a stately edifice, probably built by some ancient Irish king.

We had been here only a few days, when my brother, who, as I have before
observed, had become one of his Majesty’s officers, was sent on
detachment to a village at about ten miles’ distance.  He was not
sixteen, and, though three years older than myself, scarcely my equal in
stature, for I had become tall and large-limbed for my age; but there was
a spirit in him which would not have disgraced a general; and, nothing
daunted at the considerable responsibility which he was about to incur,
he marched sturdily out of the barrack-yard at the head of his party,
consisting of twenty light-infantry men, and a tall grenadier sergeant,
selected expressly by my father, for the soldier-like qualities which he
possessed, to accompany his son on this his first expedition.  So out of
the barrack-yard, with something of an air, marched my dear brother, his
single drum and fife playing the inspiring old melody,

    Marlbrouk is gone to the wars,
    He’ll never return no more!

I soon missed my brother, for I was now alone, with no being, at all
assimilating in age, with whom I could exchange a word.  Of late years,
from being almost constantly at school, I had cast aside, in a great
degree, my unsocial habits and natural reserve, but in the desolate
region in which we now were there was no school; and I felt doubly the
loss of my brother, whom, moreover, I tenderly loved for his own sake.
Books I had none, at least such ‘as I cared about’; and with respect to
the old volume, the wonders of which had first beguiled me into common
reading, I had so frequently pored over its pages, that I had almost got
its contents by heart.  I was therefore in danger of falling into the
same predicament as Murtagh, becoming ‘frighted’ from having nothing to
do!  Nay, I had not even his resources; I cared not for cards, even if I
possessed them and could find people disposed to play with them.
However, I made the most of circumstances, and roamed about the desolate
fields and bogs in the neighbourhood, sometimes entering the cabins of
the peasantry, with a ‘God’s blessing upon you, good people!’ where I
would take my seat on the ‘stranger’s stone’ at the corner of the hearth,
and, looking them full in the face, would listen to the carles and
carlines talking Irish.

Ah, that Irish!  How frequently do circumstances, at first sight the most
trivial and unimportant, exercise a mighty and permanent influence on our
habits and pursuits!—how frequently is a stream turned aside from its
natural course by some little rock or knoll, causing it to make an abrupt
turn!  On a wild road in Ireland I had heard Irish spoken for the first
time; and I was seized with a desire to learn Irish, the acquisition of
which, in my case, became the stepping-stone to other languages.  I had
previously learnt Latin, or rather Lilly; but neither Latin nor Lilly
made me a philologist.  I had frequently heard French and other
languages, but had felt little desire to become acquainted with them; and
what, it may be asked, was there connected with the Irish calculated to
recommend it to my attention?

First of all, and principally, I believe, the strangeness and singularity
of its tones; then there was something mysterious and uncommon associated
with its use.  It was not a school language, to acquire which was
considered an imperative duty; no, no; nor was it a drawing-room
language, drawled out, occasionally, in shreds and patches, by the ladies
of generals and other great dignitaries, to the ineffable dismay of poor
officers’ wives.  Nothing of the kind; but a speech spoken in
out-of-the-way desolate places, and in cut-throat kens, where thirty
ruffians, at the sight of the king’s minions, would spring up with
brandished sticks and an ‘ubbubboo like the blowing up of a
powder-magazine.’  Such were the points connected with the Irish, which
first awakened in my mind the desire of acquiring it; and by acquiring it
I became, as I have already said, enamoured of languages.  Having learnt
one by choice I speedily, as the reader will perceive, learnt others,
some of which were widely different from Irish.

Ah, that Irish!  I am much indebted to it in more ways than one.  But I
am afraid I have followed the way of the world, which is very much wont
to neglect original friends and benefactors.  I frequently find myself,
at present, turning up my nose at Irish when I hear it in the street; yet
I have still a kind of regard for it, the fine old language:

    A labhair Padruic n’insefail nan riogh.

One of the most peculiar features of this part of Ireland is the ruined
castles, which are so thick and numerous that the face of the country
appears studded with them, it being difficult to choose any situation
from which one, at least, may not be descried.  They are of various ages
and styles of architecture, some of great antiquity, like the stately
remains which crown the Crag of Cashel; others built by the early English
conquerors; others, and probably the greater part, erections of the times
of Elizabeth and Cromwell.  The whole speaking monuments of the troubled
and insecure state of the country, from the most remote periods to a
comparatively modern time.

From the windows of the room where I slept I had a view of one of these
old places—an indistinct one, it is true, the distance being too great to
permit me to distinguish more than the general outline.  I had an anxious
desire to explore it.  It stood to the south-east; in which direction,
however, a black bog intervened, which had more than once baffled all my
attempts to cross it.  One morning, however, when the sun shone brightly
upon the old building, it appeared so near, that I felt ashamed at not
being able to accomplish a feat seemingly so easy; I determined,
therefore, upon another trial.  I reached the bog, and was about to
venture upon its black surface, and to pick my way amongst its
innumerable holes, yawning horribly, and half filled with water black as
soot, when it suddenly occurred to me that there was a road to the south,
by following which I might find a more convenient route to the object of
my wishes.  The event justified my expectations, for, after following the
road for some three miles, seemingly in the direction of the Devil’s
Mountain, I suddenly beheld the castle on my left.

I diverged from the road, and, crossing two or three fields, came to a
small grassy plain, in the midst of which stood the castle.  About a
gun-shot to the south was a small village, which had, probably, in
ancient days, sprung up beneath its protection.  A kind of awe came over
me as I approached the old building.  The sun no longer shone upon it,
and it looked so grim, so desolate and solitary; and here was I, in that
wild country, alone with that grim building before me.  The village was
within sight, it is true; but it might be a village of the dead for what
I knew; no sound issued from it, no smoke was rising from its roofs,
neither man nor beast was visible, no life, no motion—it looked as
desolate as the castle itself.  Yet I was bent on the adventure, and
moved on towards the castle across the green plain, occasionally casting
a startled glance around me; and now I was close to it.

It was surrounded by a quadrangular wall, about ten feet in height, with
a square tower at each corner.  At first I could discover no entrance;
walking round, however, to the northern side, I found a wide and lofty
gateway with a tower above it, similar to those at the angles of the
wall; on this side the ground sloped gently down towards the bog, which
was here skirted by an abundant growth of copse-wood and a few evergreen
oaks.  I passed through the gateway, and found myself within a square
enclosure of about two acres.  On one side rose a round and lofty keep,
or donjon, with a conical roof, part of which had fallen down, strewing
the square with its ruins.  Close to the keep, on the other side, stood
the remains of an oblong house, built something in the modern style, with
various window-holes; nothing remained but the bare walls and a few
projecting stumps of beams, which seemed to have been half burnt.  The
interior of the walls was blackened, as if by fire; fire also appeared at
one time to have raged out of the window-holes, for the outside about
them was black, portentously so.  ‘I wonder what has been going on here?’
I exclaimed.

There were echoes among the walls as I walked about the court.  I entered
the keep by a low and frowning doorway: the lower floor consisted of a
large dungeon-like room, with a vaulted roof; on the left hand was a
winding staircase in the thickness of the wall; it looked anything but
inviting; yet I stole softly up, my heart beating.  On the top of the
first flight of stairs was an arched doorway, to the left was a dark
passage, to the right, stairs leading still higher.  I stepped under the
arch and found myself in an apartment somewhat similar to the one below,
but higher.  There was an object at the farther end.

An old woman, at least eighty, was seated on a stone, cowering over a few
sticks burning feebly on what had once been a right noble and cheerful
hearth; her side-glance was towards the doorway as I entered, for she had
heard my footsteps.  I stood suddenly still, and her haggard glance
rested on my face.

‘Is this your house, mother?’ I at length demanded, in the language which
I thought she would best understand.

‘Yes, my house, my own house; the house of the broken-hearted.’

‘Any other person’s house?’ I demanded.

‘My own house, the beggar’s house—the accursed house of Cromwell!’



CHAPTER TWELVE


A VISIT—FIGURE OF A MAN—THE DOG OF PEACE—THE RAW WOUND—THE GUARDROOM—BOY
SOLDIER—PERSON IN AUTHORITY—NEVER SOLITARY—CLERGYMAN AND
FAMILY—STILL-HUNTING—FAIRY MAN—NEAR SUNSET—BAGG—LEFT-HANDED HITTER—AT
SWANTON MORLEY

One morning I set out, designing to pay a visit to my brother at the
place where he was detached; the distance was rather considerable, yet I
hoped to be back by evening fall, for I was now a shrewd walker, thanks
to constant practice.  I set out early, and, directing my course towards
the north, I had in less than two hours accomplished considerably more
than half of the journey.  The weather had at first been propitious: a
slight frost had rendered the ground firm to the tread, and the skies
were clear; but now a change came over the scene, the skies darkened, and
a heavy snowstorm came on; the road then lay straight through a bog, and
was bounded by a deep trench on both sides; I was making the best of my
way, keeping as nearly as I could in the middle of the road, lest,
blinded by the snow which was frequently borne into my eyes by the wind,
I might fall into the dyke, when all at once I heard a shout to windward,
and turning my eyes I saw the figure of a man, and what appeared to be an
animal of some kind, coming across the bog with great speed, in the
direction of myself; the nature of the ground seemed to offer but little
impediment to these beings, both clearing the holes and abysses which lay
in their way with surprising agility; the animal was, however, some
slight way in advance, and, bounding over the dyke, appeared on the road
just before me.  It was a dog, of what species I cannot tell, never
having seen the like before or since; the head was large and round; the
ears so tiny as scarcely to be discernible; the eyes of a fiery red: in
size it was rather small than large; and the coat, which was remarkably
smooth, as white as the falling flakes.  It placed itself directly in my
path, and showing its teeth, and bristling its coat, appeared determined
to prevent my progress.  I had an ashen stick in my hand, with which I
threatened it; this, however, only served to increase its fury; it rushed
upon me, and I had the utmost difficulty to preserve myself from its
fangs.

‘What are you doing with the dog, the fairy dog?’ said a man, who at this
time likewise cleared the dyke at a bound.

He was a very tall man, rather well dressed as it should seem; his
garments, however, were, like my own, so covered with snow that I could
scarcely discern their quality.

‘What are ye doing with the dog of peace?’

‘I wish he would show himself one,’ said I; ‘I said nothing to him, but
he placed himself in my road, and would not let me pass.’

‘Of course he would not be letting you till he knew where ye were going.’

‘He’s not much of a fairy,’ said I, ‘or he would know that without
asking; tell him that I am going to see my brother.’

‘And who is your brother, little Sas?’

‘What my father is, a royal soldier.’

‘Oh, ye are going then to the detachment at ---; by my shoul, I have a
good mind to be spoiling your journey.’

‘You are doing that already,’ said I, ‘keeping me here talking about dogs
and fairies; you had better go home and get some salve to cure that place
over your eye; it’s catching cold you’ll be, in so much snow.’

On one side of the man’s forehead there was a raw and staring wound, as
if from a recent and terrible blow.

‘Faith, then I’ll be going, but it’s taking you wid me I will be.’

‘And where will you take me?’

‘Why, then, to Ryan’s Castle, little Sas.’

‘You do not speak the language very correctly,’ said I; ‘it is not Sas
you should call me—’tis Sassannach,’ and forthwith I accompanied the word
with a speech full of flowers of Irish rhetoric.

The man looked upon me for a moment, fixedly, then, bending his head
towards his breast, he appeared to be undergoing a kind of convulsion,
which was accompanied by a sound something resembling laughter; presently
he looked at me, and there was a broad grin on his features.

‘By my shoul, it’s a thing of peace I’m thinking ye.’

But now with a whisking sound came running down the road a hare; it was
nearly upon us before it perceived us; suddenly stopping short, however,
it sprang into the bog on the right-hand side; after it amain bounded the
dog of peace, followed by the man, but not until he had nodded to me a
farewell salutation.  In a few moments I lost sight of him amidst the
snow-flakes.

The weather was again clear and fine before I reached the place of
detachment.  It was a little wooden barrack, surrounded by a wall of the
same material; a sentinel stood at the gate, I passed by him, and,
entering the building, found myself in a rude kind of guardroom; several
soldiers were lying asleep on a wooden couch at one end, others lounged
on benches by the side of a turf fire.  The tall sergeant stood before
the fire, holding a cooking utensil in his left hand; on seeing me, he
made the military salutation.

‘Is my brother here?’ said I, rather timidly, dreading to hear that he
was out, perhaps for the day.

‘The ensign is in his room, sir,’ said Bagg, ‘I am now preparing his
meal, which will presently be ready; you will find the ensign above
stairs,’ and he pointed to a broken ladder which led to some place above.

And there I found him—the boy soldier—in a kind of upper loft, so low
that I could touch with my hands the sooty rafters; the door was of rough
boards, through the joints of which you could see the gleam of the
soldiers’ fire, and occasionally discern their figures as they moved
about; in one corner was a camp bedstead, by the side of which hung the
child’s sword, gorget, and sash; a deal table stood in the proximity of
the rusty grate, where smoked and smouldered a pile of black turf from
the bog,—a deal table without a piece of baize to cover it, yet fraught
with things not devoid of interest: a Bible, given by a mother; the
_Odyssey_, the Greek _Odyssey_; a flute, with broad silver keys; crayons,
moreover, and water-colours; and a sketch of a wild prospect near, which,
though but half finished, afforded ample proof of the excellence and
skill of the boyish hand now occupied upon it.

Ah! he was a sweet being, that boy soldier, a plant of early promise,
bidding fair to become in after time all that is great, good, and
admirable.  I have read of a remarkable Welshman, of whom it was said,
when the grave closed over him, that he could frame a harp, and play it;
build a ship, and sail it; compose an ode, and set it to music.  A brave
fellow that son of Wales—but I had once a brother who could do more and
better than this, but the grave has closed over him, as over the gallant
Welshman of yore; there are now but two that remember him—the one who
bore him, and the being who was nurtured at the same breast.  He was
taken, and I was left!—Truly, the ways of Providence are inscrutable.

‘You seem to be very comfortable, John,’ said I, looking around the room
and at the various objects which I have described above: ‘you have a good
roof over your head, and have all your things about you.’

‘Yes, I am very comfortable, George, in many respects; I am, moreover,
independent, and feel myself a man for the first time in my
life—independent, did I say?—that’s not the word, I am something much
higher than that; here am I, not sixteen yet, a person in authority, like
the centurion in the book there, with twenty Englishmen under me, worth a
whole legion of his men, and that fine fellow Bagg to wait upon me, and
take my orders.  Oh! these last six weeks have passed like hours of
heaven.’

‘But your time must frequently hang heavy on your hands; this is a
strange wild place, and you must be very solitary?’

‘I am never solitary; I have, as you see, all my things about me, and
there is plenty of company below stairs.  Not that I mix with the
soldiers; if I did, good-bye to my authority; but when I am alone I can
hear all their discourse through the planks, and I often laugh to myself
at the funny things they say.’

‘And have you any acquaintance here?’

‘The very best; much better than the Colonel and the rest, at their grand
Templemore; I had never so many in my whole life before.  One has just
left me, a gentleman who lives at a distance across the bog; he comes to
talk with me about Greek, and the _Odyssey_, for he is a very learned
man, and understands the old Irish, and various other strange languages.
He has had a dispute with Bagg.  On hearing his name, he called him to
him, and, after looking at him for some time with great curiosity, said
that he was sure he was a Dane.  Bagg, however, took the compliment in
dudgeon, and said that he was no more a Dane than himself, but a
true-born Englishman, and a sergeant of six years’ standing.’

‘And what other acquaintance have you?’

‘All kinds; the whole neighbourhood can’t make enough of me.  Amongst
others there’s the clergyman of the parish and his family; such a
venerable old man, such fine sons and daughters!  I am treated by them
like a son and a brother—I might be always with them if I pleased;
there’s one drawback, however, in going to see them; there’s a horrible
creature in the house, a kind of tutor, whom they keep more from charity
than anything else; he is a Papist and, they say, a priest; you should
see him scowl sometimes at my red coat, for he hates the king, and not
unfrequently, when the king’s health is drunk, curses him between his
teeth.  I once got up to strike him; but the youngest of the sisters, who
is the handsomest, caught my arm and pointed to her forehead.’

‘And what does your duty consist of?  Have you nothing else to do than
pay visits and receive them?’

‘We do what is required of us, we guard this edifice, perform our
evolutions, and help the excise; I am frequently called up in the dead of
night to go to some wild place or other in quest of an illicit still;
this last part of our duty is poor mean work, I don’t like it, nor more
does Bagg; though without it we should not see much active service, for
the neighbourhood is quiet; save the poor creatures with their stills,
not a soul is stirring.  ’Tis true there’s Jerry Grant.’

‘And who is Jerry Grant?’

‘Did you never hear of him? that’s strange, the whole country is talking
about him; he is a kind of outlaw, rebel, or robber, all three I daresay;
there’s a hundred pounds offered for his head.’

‘And where does he live?’

‘His proper home, they say, is in the Queen’s County, where he has a
band, but he is a strange fellow, fond of wandering about by himself
amidst the bogs and mountains, and living in the old castles;
occasionally he quarters himself in the peasants’ houses, who let him do
just what he pleases; he is free of his money, and often does them good
turns, and can be good-humoured enough, so they don’t dislike him.  Then
he is what they call a fairy man, a person in league with fairies and
spirits, and able to work much harm by supernatural means, on which
account they hold him in great awe; he is, moreover, a mighty strong and
tall fellow.  Bagg has seen him.’

‘Has he?’

‘Yes! and felt him; he too is a strange one.  A few days ago he was told
that Grant had been seen hovering about an old castle some two miles off
in the bog; so one afternoon what does he do but, without saying a word
to me—for which, by the bye, I ought to put him under arrest, though what
I should do without Bagg I have no idea whatever—what does he do but walk
off to the castle, intending, as I suppose, to pay a visit to Jerry.  He
had some difficulty in getting there on account of the turf-holes in the
bog, which he was not accustomed to; however, thither at last he got and
went in.  It was a strange lonesome place, he says, and he did not much
like the look of it; however, in he went, and searched about from the
bottom to the top and down again, but could find no one; he shouted and
hallooed, but nobody answered, save the rooks and choughs, which started
up in great numbers.  “I have lost my trouble,” said Bagg, and left the
castle.  It was now late in the afternoon, near sunset, when about
half-way over the bog he met a man—’

‘And that man was—’

‘Jerry Grant! there’s no doubt of it.  Bagg says it was the most sudden
thing in the world.  He was moving along, making the best of his way,
thinking of nothing at all save a public-house at Swanton Morley, which
he intends to take when he gets home, and the regiment is
disbanded—though I hope that will not be for some time yet: he had just
leaped a turf-hole, and was moving on, when, at the distance of about six
yards before him, he saw a fellow coming straight towards him.  Bagg says
that he stopped short, as suddenly as if he had heard the word halt, when
marching at double quick time.  It was quite a surprise, he says, and he
can’t imagine how the fellow was so close upon him before he was aware.
He was an immense tall fellow—Bagg thinks at least two inches taller than
himself—very well dressed in a blue coat and buff breeches, for all the
world like a squire when going out hunting.  Bagg, however, saw at once
that he had a roguish air, and he was on his guard in a moment.
“Good-evening to ye, sodger,” says the fellow, stepping close up to Bagg,
and staring him in the face.  “Good-evening to you, sir!  I hope you are
well,” says Bagg.  “You are looking after some one?” says the fellow.
“Just so, sir,” says Bagg, and forthwith seized him by the collar; the
man laughed, Bagg says it was such a strange awkward laugh.  “Do you know
whom you have got hold of, sodger?” said he.  “I believe I do, sir,” said
Bagg, “and in that belief will hold you fast in the name of King George
and the quarter sessions”; the next moment he was sprawling with his
heels in the air.  Bagg says there was nothing remarkable in that; he was
only flung by a kind of wrestling trick, which he could easily have
baffled had he been aware of it.  “You will not do that again, sir,” said
he, as he got up and put himself on his guard.  The fellow laughed again
more strangely and awkwardly than before; then, bending his body and
moving his head from one side to the other as a cat does before she
springs, and crying out, “Here’s for ye, sodger!” he made a dart at Bagg,
rushing in with his head foremost.  “That will do, sir,” says Bagg, and,
drawing himself back, he put in a left-handed blow with all the force of
his body and arm, just over the fellow’s right eye—Bagg is a left-handed
hitter, you must know—and it was a blow of that kind which won him his
famous battle at Edinburgh with the big Highland sergeant.  Bagg says
that he was quite satisfied with the blow, more especially when he saw
the fellow reel, fling out his arms, and fall to the ground.  “And now,
sir,” said he, “I’ll make bold to hand you over to the quarter sessions,
and, if there is a hundred pounds for taking you, who has more right to
it than myself?”  So he went forward, but ere he could lay hold of his
man the other was again on his legs, and was prepared to renew the
combat.  They grappled each other—Bagg says he had not much fear of the
result, as he now felt himself the best man, the other seeming
half-stunned with the blow—but just then there came on a blast, a
horrible roaring wind bearing night upon its wings, snow, and sleet, and
hail.  Bagg says he had the fellow by the throat quite fast, as he
thought, but suddenly he became bewildered, and knew not where he was;
and the man seemed to melt away from his grasp, and the wind howled more
and more, and the night poured down darker and darker; the snow and the
sleet thicker and more blinding.  “Lord have mercy upon us!” said Bagg.’

_Myself_.  A strange adventure that; it is well that Bagg got home alive.

_John_.  He says that the fight was a fair fight, and that the fling he
got was a fair fling, the result of a common enough wrestling trick.  But
with respect to the storm, which rose up just in time to save the fellow,
he is of opinion that it was not fair, but something Irish and
supernatural.

_Myself_.  I daresay he’s right.  I have read of witchcraft in the Bible.

_John_.  He wishes much to have one more encounter with the fellow; he
says that on fair ground, and in fine weather, he has no doubt that he
could master him, and hand him over to the quarter sessions.  He says
that a hundred pounds would be no bad thing to be disbanded upon; for he
wishes to take an inn at Swanton Morley, keep a cock-pit, and live
respectably.

_Myself_.  He is quite right; and now kiss me, my darling brother, for I
must go back through the bog to Templemore.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN


GROOM AND COB—STRENGTH AND SYMMETRY—WHERE’S THE SADDLE?—THE FIRST RIDE—NO
MORE FATIGUE—LOVE FOR HORSES—THE PURSUIT OF WORDS—PHILOLOGIST AND
PEGASUS—THE SMITH—WHAT MORE, AGRAH?

And it came to pass that, as I was standing by the door of the barrack
stable, one of the grooms came out to me, saying, ‘I say, young
gentleman, I wish you would give the cob a breathing this fine morning.’

‘Why do you wish me to mount him?’ said I; ‘you know he is dangerous.  I
saw him fling you off his back only a few days ago.’

‘Why, that’s the very thing, master.  I’d rather see anybody on his back
than myself; he does not like me; but, to them he does, he can be as
gentle as a lamb.’

‘But suppose,’ said I, ‘that he should not like me?’

‘We shall soon see that, master,’ said the groom; ‘and, if so be he shows
temper, I will be the first to tell you to get down.  But there’s no fear
of that; you have never angered or insulted him, and to such as you, I
say again, he’ll be as gentle as a lamb.’

‘And how came you to insult him,’ said I, ‘knowing his temper as you do?’

‘Merely through forgetfulness, master: I was riding him about a month
ago, and having a stick in my hand, I struck him, thinking I was on
another horse, or rather thinking of nothing at all.  He has never
forgiven me, though before that time he was the only friend I had in the
world; I should like to see you on him, master.’

‘I should soon be off him; I can’t ride.’

‘Then you are all right, master; there’s no fear.  Trust him for not
hurting a young gentleman, an officer’s son, who can’t ride.  If you were
a blackguard dragoon, indeed, with long spurs, ’twere another thing; as
it is, he’ll treat you as if he were the elder brother that loves you.
Ride! he’ll soon teach you to ride if you leave the matter with him.
He’s the best riding-master in all Ireland, and the gentlest.’

The cob was led forth; what a tremendous creature!  I had frequently seen
him before, and wondered at him; he was barely fifteen hands, but he had
the girth of a metropolitan dray-horse; his head was small in comparison
with his immense neck, which curved down nobly to his wide back: his
chest was broad and fine, and his shoulders models of symmetry and
strength; he stood well and powerfully upon his legs, which were somewhat
short.  In a word, he was a gallant specimen of the genuine Irish cob, a
species at one time not uncommon, but at the present day nearly extinct.

                 [Picture: A wild, grimy figure of a man]

‘There!’ said the groom, as he looked at him, half admiringly, half
sorrowfully, ‘with sixteen stone on his back, he’ll trot fourteen miles
in one hour, with your nine stone, some two and a half more; ay, and
clear a six-foot wall at the end of it.’

‘I’m half afraid,’ said I; ‘I had rather you would ride him.’

‘I’d rather so, too, if he would let me; but he remembers the blow.  Now,
don’t be afraid, young master, he’s longing to go out himself.  He’s been
trampling with his feet these three days, and I know what that means;
he’ll let anybody ride him but myself, and thank them; but to me he says,
“No! you struck me.”’

‘But,’ said I, ‘where’s the saddle?’

‘Never mind the saddle; if you are ever to be a frank rider, you must
begin without a saddle; besides, if he felt a saddle, he would think you
don’t trust him, and leave you to yourself.  Now, before you mount, make
his acquaintance—see there, how he kisses you and licks your face, and
see how he lifts his foot, that’s to shake hands.  You may trust him—now
you are on his back at last; mind how you hold the bridle—gently, gently!
It’s not four pair of hands like yours can hold him if he wishes to be
off.  Mind what I tell you—leave it all to him.’

Off went the cob at a slow and gentle trot, too fast and rough, however,
for so inexperienced a rider.  I soon felt myself sliding off, the animal
perceived it too, and instantly stood stone still till I had righted
myself; and now the groom came up: ‘When you feel yourself going,’ said
he, ‘don’t lay hold of the mane, that’s no use; mane never yet saved man
from falling, no more than straw from drowning; it’s his sides you must
cling to with your calves and feet, till you learn to balance yourself.
That’s it, now abroad with you; I’ll bet my comrade a pot of beer that
you’ll be a regular rough-rider by the time you come back.’

And so it proved; I followed the directions of the groom, and the cob
gave me every assistance.  How easy is riding, after the first timidity
is got over, to supple and youthful limbs; and there is no second fear.
The creature soon found that the nerves of his rider were in proper tone.
Turning his head half round, he made a kind of whining noise, flung out a
little foam, and set off.

In less than two hours I had made the circuit of the Devil’s Mountain,
and was returning along the road, bathed with perspiration, but screaming
with delight; the cob laughing in his equine way, scattering foam and
pebbles to the left and right, and trotting at the rate of sixteen miles
an hour.

Oh, that ride! that first ride!—most truly it was an epoch in my
existence; and I still look back to it with feelings of longing and
regret.  People may talk of first love—it is a very agreeable event, I
daresay,—but give me the flush, and triumph, and glorious sweat of a
first ride, like mine on the mighty cob!  My whole frame was shaken, it
is true; and during one long week I could hardly move foot or hand; but
what of that?  By that one trial I had become free, as I may say, of the
whole equine species.  No more fatigue, no more stiffness of joints,
after that first ride round the Devil’s Hill on the cob.

Oh, that cob! that Irish cob!—may the sod lie lightly over the bones of
the strongest, speediest, and most gallant of its kind!  Oh! the days
when, issuing from the barrack-gate of Templemore, we commenced our
hurry-skurry just as inclination led—now across the fields—direct over
stone walls and running brooks—mere pastime for the cob!—sometimes along
the road to Thurles and Holy Cross, even to distant Cahir!—what was
distance to the cob?

It was thus that the passion for the equine race was first awakened
within me—a passion which, up to the present time, has been rather on the
increase than diminishing.  It is no blind passion; the horse being a
noble and generous creature, intended by the All-Wise to be the helper
and friend of man, to whom he stands next in the order of creation.  On
many occasions of my life I have been much indebted to the horse, and
have found in him a friend and coadjutor, when human help and sympathy
were not to be obtained.  It is therefore natural enough that I should
love the horse; but the love which I entertain for him has always been
blended with respect; for I soon perceived that, though disposed to be
the friend and helper of man, he is by no means inclined to be his slave;
in which respect he differs from the dog, who will crouch when beaten;
whereas the horse spurns, for he is aware of his own worth, and that he
carries death within the horn of his heel.  If, therefore, I found it
easy to love the horse, I found it equally natural to respect him.

I much question whether philology, or the passion for languages, requires
so little of an apology as the love for horses.  It has been said, I
believe, that the more languages a man speaks, the more a man is he;
which is very true, provided he acquires languages as a medium for
becoming acquainted with the thoughts and feelings of the various
sections into which the human race is divided; but, in that case, he
should rather be termed a philosopher than a philologist—between which
two the difference is wide indeed!  An individual may speak and read a
dozen languages, and yet be an exceedingly poor creature, scarcely half a
man; and the pursuit of tongues for their own sake, and the mere
satisfaction of acquiring them, surely argues an intellect of a very low
order; a mind disposed to be satisfied with mean and grovelling things;
taking more pleasure in the trumpery casket than in the precious treasure
which it contains; in the pursuit of words, than in the acquisition of
ideas.

I cannot help thinking that it was fortunate for myself, who am, to a
certain extent, a philologist, that with me the pursuit of languages has
been always modified by the love of horses; for scarcely had I turned my
mind to the former, when I also mounted the wild cob, and hurried forth
in the direction of the Devil’s Hill, scattering dust and flint-stones on
every side; that ride, amongst other things, taught me that a lad with
thews and sinews was intended by nature for something better than mere
word-culling; and if I have accomplished anything in after life worthy of
mentioning, I believe it may partly be attributed to the ideas which that
ride, by setting my blood in a glow, infused into my brain.  I might,
otherwise, have become a mere philologist; one of those beings who toil
night and day in culling useless words for some _opus magnum_ which
Murray will never publish, and nobody ever read; beings without
enthusiasm, who, having never mounted a generous steed, cannot detect a
good point in Pegasus himself; like a certain philologist, who, though
acquainted with the exact value of every word in the Greek and Latin
languages, could observe no particular beauty in one of the most glorious
of Homer’s rhapsodies.  What knew he of Pegasus? he had never mounted a
generous steed; the merest jockey, had the strain been interpreted to
him, would have called it a brave song!—I return to the brave cob.

On a certain day I had been out on an excursion.  In a cross-road, at
some distance from the Satanic hill, the animal which I rode cast a shoe.
By good luck a small village was at hand, at the entrance of which was a
large shed, from which proceeded a most furious noise of hammering.
Leading the cob by the bridle, I entered boldly.  ‘Shoe this horse, and
do it quickly, a gough,’ said I to a wild grimy figure of a man, whom I
found alone, fashioning a piece of iron.

‘Arrigod yuit?’ said the fellow, desisting from his work, and staring at
me.

‘Oh yes, I have money,’ said I, ‘and of the best’; and I pulled out an
English shilling.

‘Tabhair chugam?’ said the smith, stretching out his grimy hand.

‘No, I shan’t,’ said I; ‘some people are glad to get their money when
their work is done.’

The fellow hammered a little longer, and then proceeded to shoe the cob,
after having first surveyed it with attention.  He performed his job
rather roughly, and more than once appeared to give the animal
unnecessary pain, frequently making use of loud and boisterous words.  By
the time the work was done, the creature was in a state of high
excitement, and plunged and tore.  The smith stood at a short distance,
seeming to enjoy the irritation of the animal, and showing, in a
remarkable manner, a huge fang, which projected from the under jaw of a
very wry mouth.

‘You deserve better handling,’ said I, as I went up to the cob and
fondled it; whereupon it whinnied, and attempted to touch my face with
its nose.

‘Are ye not afraid of that beast?’ said the smith, showing his fang.
‘Arrah, it’s vicious that he looks!’

‘It’s at you, then!—I don’t fear him’; and thereupon I passed under the
horse, between its hind legs.

‘And is that all you can do, agrah?’ said the smith.

‘No,’ said I, ‘I can ride him.’

‘Ye can ride him, and what else, agrah?’

‘I can leap him over a six-foot wall,’ said I.

‘Over a wall, and what more, agrah?’

‘Nothing more,’ said I; ‘what more would you have?’

‘Can you do this, agrah?’ said the smith; and he uttered a word which I
had never heard before, in a sharp pungent tone.  The effect upon myself
was somewhat extraordinary, a strange thrill ran through me; but with
regard to the cob it was terrible; the animal forthwith became like one
mad, and reared and kicked with the utmost desperation.

‘Can you do that, agrah?’ said the smith.

‘What is it?’ said I, retreating, ‘I never saw the horse so before.’

‘Go between his legs, agrah,’ said the smith, ‘his hinder legs’; and he
again showed his fang.

‘I dare not,’ said I, ‘he would kill me.’

‘He would kill ye! and how do ye know that, agrah?’

‘I feel he would,’ said I, ‘something tells me so.’

‘And it tells ye truth, agrah; but it’s a fine beast, and it’s a pity to
see him in such a state: Is agam an’t leigeas’—and here he uttered
another word in a voice singularly modified, but sweet and almost
plaintive; the effect of it was as instantaneous as that of the other,
but how different!—the animal lost all its fury, and became at once calm
and gentle.  The smith went up to it, coaxed and patted it, making use of
various sounds of equine endearment; then turning to me, and holding out
once more the grimy hand, he said, ‘And now ye will be giving me the
Sassannach tenpence, agrah?’



CHAPTER FOURTEEN


A FINE OLD CITY—NORMAN MASTER-WORK—LOLLARDS’ HOLE—GOOD BLOOD—THE
SPANIARD’S SWORD—OLD RETIRED OFFICER—WRITING TO A DUKE—GOD HELP THE
CHILD—NOTHING LIKE JACOB—IRISH BRIGADES—OLD SERGEANT MEREDITH—I HAVE BEEN
YOUNG—IDLENESS—THE BOOKSTALL—A PORTRAIT—A BANISHED PRIEST

From the wild scenes which I have attempted to describe in the latter
pages I must now transport the reader to others of a widely different
character.  He must suppose himself no longer in Ireland, but in the
eastern corner of merry England.  Bogs, ruins, and mountains have
disappeared amidst the vapours of the west: I have nothing more to say of
them; the region in which we are now is not famous for objects of that
kind: perhaps it flatters itself that it can produce fairer and better
things, of some of which let me speak; there is a fine old city before
us, and first of that let me speak.

A fine old city, truly, is that, view it from whatever side you will; but
it shows best from the east, where the ground, bold and elevated,
overlooks the fair and fertile valley in which it stands.  Gazing from
those heights, the eye beholds a scene which cannot fail to awaken, even
in the least sensitive bosom, feelings of pleasure and admiration.  At
the foot of the heights flows a narrow and deep river, with an antique
bridge communicating with a long and narrow suburb, flanked on either
side by rich meadows of the brightest green, beyond which spreads the
city; the fine old city, perhaps the most curious specimen at present
extant of the genuine old English town.  Yes, there it spreads from north
to south, with its venerable houses, its numerous gardens, its thrice
twelve churches, its mighty mound, which, if tradition speaks true, was
raised by human hands to serve as the grave-heap of an old heathen king,
who sits deep within it, with his sword in his hand, and his gold and
silver treasures about him.  There is a grey old castle upon the top of
that mighty mound; and yonder, rising three hundred feet above the soil,
from among those noble forest trees, behold that old Norman master-work,
that cloud-encircled cathedral spire, around which a garrulous army of
rooks and choughs continually wheel their flight.  Now, who can wonder
that the children of that fine old city are proud of her, and offer up
prayers for her prosperity?  I, myself, who was not born within her
walls, offer up prayers for her prosperity, that want may never visit her
cottages, vice her palaces, and that the abomination of idolatry may
never pollute her temples.  Ha, idolatry! the reign of idolatry has been
over there for many a long year, never more, let us hope, to return;
brave hearts in that old town have borne witness against it, and sealed
their testimony with their hearts’ blood—most precious to the Lord is the
blood of His saints! we are not far from hallowed ground.  Observe ye not
yon chalky precipice, to the right of the Norman bridge?  On this side of
the stream, upon its brow, is a piece of ruined wall, the last relic of
what was of old a stately pile, whilst at its foot is a place called the
Lollards’ Hole; and with good reason, for many a saint of God has
breathed his last beneath that white precipice, bearing witness against
popish idolatry, midst flame and pitch; many a grisly procession has
advanced along that suburb, across the old bridge, towards the Lollards’
Hole: furious priests in front, a calm pale martyr in the midst, a
pitying multitude behind.  It has had its martyrs, the venerable old
town!

Ah! there is good blood in that old city, and in the whole circumjacent
region of which it is the capital.  The Angles possessed the land at an
early period, which, however, they were eventually compelled to share
with hordes of Danes and Northmen, who flocked thither across the sea to
found hearthsteads on its fertile soil.  The present race, a mixture of
Angles and Danes, still preserve much which speaks strongly of their
northern ancestry; amongst them ye will find the light-brown hair of the
north, the strong and burly forms of the north, many a wild superstition,
ay, and many a wild name connected with the ancient history of the north
and its sublime mythology; the warm heart and the strong heart of the old
Danes and Saxons still beats in those regions, and there ye will find, if
anywhere, old northern hospitality and kindness of manner, united with
energy, perseverance, and dauntless intrepidity; better soldiers or
mariners never bled in their country’s battles than those nurtured in
those regions, and within those old walls.  It was yonder, to the west,
that the great naval hero of Britain first saw the light; he who
annihilated the sea pride of Spain, and dragged the humble banner of
France in triumph at his stern.  He was born yonder, towards the west,
and of him there is a glorious relic in that old town; in its dark flint
guildhouse, the roof of which you can just descry rising above that maze
of buildings, in the upper hall of justice, is a species of glass shrine,
in which the relic is to be seen; a sword of curious workmanship, the
blade is of keen Toledan steel, the heft of ivory and mother-of-pearl.
’Tis the sword of Cordova, won in bloodiest fray off Saint Vincent’s
promontory, and presented by Nelson to the old capital of the much-loved
land of his birth.  Yes, the proud Spaniard’s sword is to be seen in
yonder guildhouse, in the glass case affixed to the wall: many other
relics has the good old town, but none prouder than the Spaniard’s sword.

Such was the place to which, when the war was over, my father retired: it
was here that the old tired soldier set himself down with his little
family.  He had passed the greater part of his life in meritorious
exertion, in the service of his country, and his chief wish now was to
spend the remainder of his days in quiet and respectability; his means,
it is true, were not very ample; fortunate it was that his desires
corresponded with them; with a small fortune of his own, and with his
half-pay as a royal soldier, he had no fears for himself or for his
faithful partner and helpmate; but then his children! how was he to
provide for them? how launch them upon the wide ocean of the world?  This
was, perhaps, the only thought which gave him uneasiness, and I believe
that many an old retired officer at that time, and under similar
circumstances, experienced similar anxiety; had the war continued, their
children would have been, of course, provided for in the army, but peace
now reigned, and the military career was closed to all save the scions of
the aristocracy, or those who were in some degree connected with that
privileged order, an advantage which few of these old officers could
boast of; they had slight influence with the great, who gave themselves
very little trouble either about them or their families.

‘I have been writing to the Duke,’ said my father one day to my excellent
mother, after we had been at home somewhat better than a year.  ‘I have
been writing to the Duke of York about a commission for that eldest boy
of ours.  He, however, affords me no hopes; he says that his list is
crammed with names, and that the greater number of the candidates have
better claims than my son.’

‘I do not see how that can be,’ said my mother.

‘Nor do I,’ replied my father.  ‘I see the sons of bankers and merchants
gazetted every month, and I do not see what claims they have to urge,
unless they be golden ones.  However, I have not served my king fifty
years to turn grumbler at this time of life.  I suppose that the people
at the head of affairs know what is most proper and convenient; perhaps
when the lad sees how difficult, nay, how impossible it is that he should
enter the army, he will turn his mind to some other profession; I wish he
may!’

‘I think he has already,’ said my mother; ‘you see how fond he is of the
arts, of drawing and painting, and, as far as I can judge, what he has
already done is very respectable; his mind seems quite turned that way,
and I heard him say the other day that he would sooner be a Michael
Angelo than a general officer.  But you are always talking of him; what
do you think of doing with the other child?’

‘What, indeed!’ said my father; ‘that is a consideration which gives me
no little uneasiness.  I am afraid it will be much more difficult to
settle him in life than his brother.  What is he fitted for, even were it
in my power to provide for him?  God help the child!  I bear him no ill
will, on the contrary, all love and affection; but I cannot shut my eyes;
there is something so strange about him!  How he behaved in Ireland!  I
sent him to school to learn Greek, and he picked up Irish!’

‘And Greek as well,’ said my mother.  ‘I heard him say the other day that
he could read St. John in the original tongue.’

‘You will find excuses for him, I know,’ said my father.  ‘You tell me I
am always talking of my first-born; I might retort by saying you are
always thinking of the other: but it is the way of women always to side
with the second-born.  There’s what’s her name in the Bible, by whose
wiles the old blind man was induced to give to his second son the
blessing which was the birthright of the other.  I wish I had been in his
place!  I should not have been so easily deceived! no disguise would ever
have caused me to mistake an impostor for my first-born.  Though I must
say for this boy that he is nothing like Jacob; he is neither smooth nor
sleek, and, though my second-born, is already taller and larger than his
brother.’

‘Just so,’ said my mother; ‘his brother would make a far better Jacob
than he.’

‘I will hear nothing against my first-born,’ said my father, ‘even in the
way of insinuation: he is my joy and pride; the very image of myself in
my youthful days, long before I fought Big Ben; though perhaps not quite
so tall or strong built.  As for the other, God bless the child!  I love
him, I’m sure; but I must be blind not to see the difference between him
and his brother.  Why, he has neither my hair nor my eyes; and then his
countenance! why, ’tis absolutely swarthy, God forgive me! I had almost
said like that of a gypsy, but I have nothing to say against that; the
boy is not to be blamed for the colour of his face, nor for his hair and
eyes; but, then, his ways and manners!—I confess I do not like them, and
that they give me no little uneasiness—I know that he kept very strange
company when he was in Ireland; people of evil report, of whom terrible
things were said—horse-witches and the like.  I questioned him once or
twice upon the matter, and even threatened him, but it was of no use; he
put on a look as if he did not understand me, a regular Irish look, just
such a one as those rascals assume when they wish to appear all innocence
and simplicity, and they full of malice and deceit all the time.  I don’t
like them; they are no friends to old England, or its old king, God bless
him!  They are not good subjects, and never were; always in league with
foreign enemies.  When I was in the Coldstream, long before the
Revolution, I used to hear enough about the Irish brigades kept by the
French kings, to be a thorn in the side of the English whenever
opportunity served.  Old Sergeant Meredith once told me that in the time
of the Pretender there were always, in London alone, a dozen of fellows
connected with these brigades, with the view of seducing the king’s
soldiers from their allegiance, and persuading them to desert to France
to join the honest Irish, as they were called.  One of these traitors
once accosted him and proposed the matter to him, offering handfuls of
gold if he could induce any of his comrades to go over.  Meredith
appeared to consent, but secretly gave information to his colonel; the
fellow was seized, and certain traitorous papers found upon him; he was
hanged before Newgate, and died exulting in his treason.  His name was
Michael Nowlan.  That ever son of mine should have been intimate with the
Papist Irish, and have learnt their language!’

‘But he thinks of other things now,’ said my mother.

‘Other languages, you mean,’ said my father.  ‘It is strange that he has
conceived such a zest for the study of languages; no sooner did he come
home than he persuaded me to send him to that old priest to learn French
and Italian, and, if I remember right, you abetted him; but, as I said
before, it is in the nature of women invariably to take the part of the
second-born.  Well, there is no harm in learning French and Italian,
perhaps much good in his case, as they may drive the other tongue out of
his head.  Irish! why, he might go to the university but for that; but
how would he look when, on being examined with respect to his
attainments, it was discovered that he understood Irish?  How did you
learn it? they would ask him; how did you become acquainted with the
language of Papists and rebels?  The boy would be sent away in disgrace.’

‘Be under no apprehension, I have no doubt that he has long since
forgotten it.’

‘I am glad to hear it,’ said my father; ‘for, between ourselves, I love
the poor child; ay, quite as well as my first-born.  I trust they will do
well, and that God will be their shield and guide; I have no doubt He
will, for I have read something in the Bible to that effect.  What is
that text about the young ravens being fed?’

‘I know a better than that,’ said my mother; ‘one of David’s own words,
“I have been young and now am grown old, yet never have I seen the
righteous man forsaken, or his seed begging their bread.”’

I have heard talk of the pleasures of idleness, yet it is my own firm
belief that no one ever yet took pleasure in it.  Mere idleness is the
most disagreeable state of existence, and both mind and body are
continually making efforts to escape from it.  It has been said that
idleness is the parent of mischief, which is very true; but mischief
itself is merely an attempt to escape from the dreary vacuum of idleness.
There are many tasks and occupations which a man is unwilling to perform,
but let no one think that he is therefore in love with idleness; he turns
to something which is more agreeable to his inclination, and doubtless
more suited to his nature; but he is not in love with idleness.  A boy
may play the truant from school because he dislikes books and study; but,
depend upon it, he intends doing something the while—to go fishing, or
perhaps to take a walk; and who knows but that from such excursions both
his mind and body may derive more benefit than from books and school?
Many people go to sleep to escape from idleness; the Spaniards do; and,
according to the French account, John Bull, the ’squire, hangs himself in
the month of November; but the French, who are a very sensible people,
attribute the action _à une grande envie de se désennuyer_; he wishes to
be doing something, say they, and having nothing better to do, he has
recourse to the cord.

It was for want of something better to do that, shortly after my return
home, I applied myself to the study of languages.  By the acquisition of
Irish, with the first elements of which I had become acquainted under the
tuition of Murtagh, I had contracted a certain zest and inclination for
the pursuit.  Yet it is probable that had I been launched about this time
into some agreeable career, that of arms for example, for which, being
the son of a soldier, I had, as was natural, a sort of penchant, I might
have thought nothing more of the acquisition of tongues of any kind; but,
having nothing to do, I followed the only course suited to my genius
which appeared open to me.

So it came to pass that one day, whilst wandering listlessly about the
streets of the old town, I came to a small book-stall, and stopping,
commenced turning over the books; I took up at least a dozen, and almost
instantly flung them down.  What were they to me?  At last, coming to a
thick volume, I opened it, and after inspecting its contents for a few
minutes, I paid for it what was demanded, and forthwith carried it home.

It was a tessaraglot grammar; a strange old book, printed somewhere in
Holland, which pretended to be an easy guide to the acquirement of the
French, Italian, Low Dutch, and English tongues, by means of which anyone
conversant in any one of these languages could make himself master of the
other three.  I turned my attention to the French and Italian.  The old
book was not of much value; I derived some benefit from it, however, and,
conning it intensely, at the end of a few weeks obtained some insight
into the structure of these two languages.  At length I had learnt all
that the book was capable of informing me, yet was still far from the
goal to which it had promised to conduct me.  ‘I wish I had a master!’ I
exclaimed; and the master was at hand.  In an old court of the old town
lived a certain elderly personage, perhaps sixty, or thereabouts; he was
rather tall, and something of a robust make, with a countenance in which
bluffness was singularly blended with vivacity and grimace; and with a
complexion which would have been ruddy, but for a yellow hue which rather
predominated.  His dress consisted of a snuff-coloured coat and drab
pantaloons, the former evidently seldom subjected to the annoyance of a
brush, and the latter exhibiting here and there spots of something which,
if not grease, bore a strong resemblance to it; add to these articles an
immense frill, seldom of the purest white, but invariably of the finest
French cambric, and you have some idea of his dress.  He had rather a
remarkable stoop, but his step was rapid and vigorous, and as he hurried
along the streets, he would glance to the right and left with a pair of
big eyes like plums, and on recognising any one would exalt a pair of
grizzled eyebrows, and slightly kiss a tawny and ungloved hand.  At
certain hours of the day he might be seen entering the doors of female
boarding-schools, generally with a book in his hand, and perhaps another
just peering from the orifice of a capacious back pocket; and at a
certain season of the year he might be seen, dressed in white, before the
altar of a certain small popish chapel, chanting from the breviary in
very intelligible Latin, or perhaps reading from the desk in utterly
unintelligible English.  Such was my preceptor in the French and Italian
tongues.  ‘Exul sacerdos; vone banished priest.  I came into England
twenty-five year ago, “my dear.”’



CHAPTER FIFTEEN


MONSIEUR DANTE—CONDEMNED MUSKET—SPORTING—SWEET RIVULET—THE EARL’S
HOME—THE POOL—THE SONOROUS VOICE—WHAT DOST THOU READ?—THE MAN OF PEACE—OF
ZOHAR AND MISHNA—THE MONEY-CHANGERS

So I studied French and Italian under the tuition of the banished priest,
to whose house I went regularly every evening to receive instruction.  I
made considerable progress in the acquisition of the two languages.  I
found the French by far the most difficult, chiefly on account of the
accent, which my master himself possessed in no great purity, being a
Norman by birth.  The Italian was my favourite.

‘Vous serez un jour un grand philologue, mon cher,’ said the old man, on
our arriving at the conclusion of Dante’s Hell.

‘I hope I shall be something better,’ said I, ‘before I die, or I shall
have lived to little purpose.’

‘That’s true, my dear! philologist—one small poor dog.  What would you
wish to be?’

‘Many things sooner than that; for example, I would rather be like him
who wrote this book.’

‘Quoi, Monsieur Dante?  He was a vagabond, my dear, forced to fly from
his country.  No, my dear, if you would be like one poet, be like
Monsieur Boileau; he is the poet.’

‘I don’t think so.’

‘How, not think so?  He wrote very respectable verses; lived and died
much respected by everybody.  T’other, one bad dog, forced to fly from
his country—died with not enough to pay his undertaker.’

‘Were you not forced to flee from your country?’

‘That very true; but there is much difference between me and this Dante.
He fled from country because he had one bad tongue which he shook at his
betters.  I fly because benefice gone, and head going; not on account of
the badness of my tongue.’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘you can return now; the Bourbons are restored.’

‘I find myself very well here; not bad country.  Il est vrai que la
France sera toujours la France; but all are dead there who knew me.  I
find myself very well here.  Preach in popish chapel, teach schismatic,
that is Protestant, child tongues and literature.  I find myself very
well; and why?  Because I know how to govern my tongue; never call people
hard names.  Ma foi, il y a beaucoup de différence entre moi et ce sacre
de Dante.’

Under this old man, who was well versed in the southern languages,
besides studying French and Italian, I acquired some knowledge of
Spanish.  But I did not devote my time entirely to philology; I had other
pursuits.  I had not forgotten the roving life I had led in former days,
nor its delights; neither was I formed by Nature to be a pallid indoor
student.  No, no!  I was fond of other and, I say it boldly, better
things than study.  I had an attachment to the angle, ay, and to the gun
likewise.  In our house was a condemned musket, bearing somewhere on its
lock, in rather antique characters, ‘Tower, 1746’; with this weapon I had
already, in Ireland, performed some execution among the rooks and
choughs, and it was now again destined to be a source of solace and
amusement to me, in the winter season, especially on occasions of severe
frost when birds abounded.  Sallying forth with it at these times, far
into the country, I seldom returned at night without a string of
bullfinches, blackbirds, and linnets hanging in triumph round my neck.
When I reflect on the immense quantity of powder and shot which I crammed
down the muzzle of my uncouth fowling-piece, I am less surprised at the
number of birds which I slaughtered than that I never blew my hands,
face, and old honeycombed gun, at one and the same time, to pieces.

But the winter, alas! (I speak as a fowler) seldom lasts in England more
than three or four months; so, during the rest of the year, when not
occupied with my philological studies, I had to seek for other
diversions.  I have already given a hint that I was also addicted to the
angle.  Of course there is no comparison between the two pursuits, the
rod and line seeming but very poor trumpery to one who has had the honour
of carrying a noble firelock.  There is a time, however, for all things;
and we return to any favourite amusement with the greater zest, from
being compelled to relinquish it for a season.  So, if I shot birds in
winter with my firelock, I caught fish in summer, or attempted so to do,
with my angle.  I was not quite so successful, it is true, with the
latter as with the former; possibly because it afforded me less pleasure.
It was, indeed, too much of a listless pastime to inspire me with any
great interest.  I not unfrequently fell into a doze, whilst sitting on
the bank, and more than once let my rod drop from my hands into the
water.

At some distance from the city, behind a range of hilly ground which
rises towards the south-west, is a small river, the waters of which,
after many meanderings, eventually enter the principal river of the
district, and assist to swell the tide which it rolls down to the ocean.
It is a sweet rivulet, and pleasant is it to trace its course from its
spring-head, high up in the remote regions of Eastern Anglia, till it
arrives in the valley behind yon rising ground; and pleasant is that
valley, truly a goodly spot, but most lovely where yonder bridge crosses
the little stream.  Beneath its arch the waters rush garrulously into a
blue pool, and are there stilled, for a time, for the pool is deep, and
they appear to have sunk to sleep.  Farther on, however, you hear their
voice again, where they ripple gaily over yon gravelly shallow.  On the
left, the hill slopes gently down to the margin of the stream.  On the
right is a green level, a smiling meadow, grass of the richest decks the
side of the slope; mighty trees also adorn it, giant elms, the nearest of
which, when the sun is nigh its meridian, fling a broad shadow upon the
face of the pool; through yon vista you catch a glimpse of the ancient
brick of an old English hall.  It has a stately look, that old building,
indistinctly seen, as it is, among those umbrageous trees; you might
almost suppose it an earl’s home; and such it was, or rather upon its
site stood an earl’s home, in days of old, for there some old Kemp, some
Sigurd or Thorkild, roaming in quest of a hearthstead, settled down in
the grey old time, when Thor and Freya were yet gods, and Odin was a
portentous name.  Yon old hall is still called the Earl’s Home, though
the hearth of Sigurd is now no more, and the bones of the old Kemp, and
of Sigrith his dame, have been mouldering for a thousand years in some
neighbouring knoll; perhaps yonder, where those tall Norwegian pines
shoot up so boldly into the air.  It is said that the old earl’s galley
was once moored where is now that blue pool, for the waters of that
valley were not always sweet; yon valley was once an arm of the sea, a
salt lagoon, to which the war-barks of ‘Sigurd, in search of a home,’
found their way.

I was in the habit of spending many an hour on the banks of that rivulet,
with my rod in my hand, and, when tired with angling, would stretch
myself on the grass, and gaze upon the waters as they glided past, and
not unfrequently, divesting myself of my dress, I would plunge into the
deep pool which I have already mentioned, for I had long since learned to
swim.  And it came to pass that on one hot summer’s day, after bathing in
the pool, I passed along the meadow till I came to a shallow part, and,
wading over to the opposite side, I adjusted my dress, and commenced
fishing in another pool, beside which was a small clump of hazels.

And there I sat upon the bank, at the bottom of the hill which slopes
down from ‘the Earl’s home’; my float was on the waters, and my back was
towards the old hall.  I drew up many fish, small and great, which I took
from off the hook mechanically, and flung upon the bank, for I was almost
unconscious of what I was about, for my mind was not with my fish.  I was
thinking of my earlier years—of the Scottish crags and the heaths of
Ireland—and sometimes my mind would dwell on my studies—on the sonorous
stanzas of Dante, rising and falling like the waves of the sea—or would
strive to remember a couplet or two of poor Monsieur Boileau.

‘Canst thou answer to thy conscience for pulling all those fish out of
the water, and leaving them to gasp in the sun?’ said a voice, clear and
sonorous as a bell.

I started, and looked round.  Close behind me stood the tall figure of a
man, dressed in raiment of quaint and singular fashion, but of goodly
materials.  He was in the prime and vigour of manhood; his features
handsome and noble, but full of calmness and benevolence; at least I
thought so, though they were somewhat shaded by a hat of finest beaver,
with broad drooping eaves.

‘Surely that is a very cruel diversion in which thou indulgest, my young
friend?’ he continued.

‘I am sorry for it, if it be, sir,’ said I, rising; ‘but I do not think
it cruel to fish.’

‘What are thy reasons for not thinking so?’

‘Fishing is mentioned frequently in Scripture.  Simon Peter was a
fisherman.’

‘True; and Andrew and his brother.  But thou forgettest: they did not
follow fishing as a diversion, as I fear thou doest.—Thou readest the
Scriptures?’

‘Sometimes.’

‘Sometimes?—not daily?—that is to be regretted.  What profession dost
thou make?—I mean to what religious denomination dost thou belong, my
young friend?’

‘Church.’

‘It is a very good profession—there is much of Scripture contained in its
liturgy.  Dost thou read aught besides the Scriptures?’

‘Sometimes.’

‘What dost thou read besides?’

‘Greek, and Dante.’

‘Indeed! then thou hast the advantage over myself; I can only read the
former.  Well, I am rejoiced to find that thou hast other pursuits beside
thy fishing.  Dost thou know Hebrew?’

‘No?’

‘Thou shouldst study it.  Why dost thou not undertake the study?’

‘I have no books.’

‘I will lend thee books, if thou wish to undertake the study.  I live
yonder at the hall, as perhaps thou knowest.  I have a library there, in
which are many curious books, both in Greek and Hebrew, which I will show
to thee, whenever thou mayest find it convenient to come and see me.
Farewell!  I am glad to find that thou hast pursuits more satisfactory
than thy cruel fishing.’

And the man of peace departed, and left me on the bank of the stream.
Whether from the effect of his words, or from want of inclination to the
sport, I know not, but from that day I became less and less a
practitioner of that ‘cruel fishing.’  I rarely flung line and angle into
the water, but I not unfrequently wandered by the banks of the pleasant
rivulet.  It seems singular to me, on reflection, that I never availed
myself of his kind invitation.  I say singular, for the extraordinary,
under whatever form, had long had no slight interest for me; and I had
discernment enough to perceive that yon was no common man.  Yet I went
not near him, certainly not from bashfulness or timidity, feelings to
which I had long been an entire stranger.  Am I to regret this? perhaps,
for I might have learned both wisdom and righteousness from those calm,
quiet lips, and my after-course might have been widely different.  As it
was, I fell in with other guess companions, from whom I received widely
different impressions than those I might have derived from him.  When
many years had rolled on, long after I had attained manhood, and had seen
and suffered much, and when our first interview had long since been
effaced from the mind of the man of peace, I visited him in his venerable
hall, and partook of the hospitality of his hearth.  And there I saw his
gentle partner and his fair children, and on the morrow he showed me the
books of which he had spoken years before by the side of the stream.  In
the low quiet chamber, whose one window, shaded by a gigantic elm, looks
down the slope towards the pleasant stream, he took from the shelf his
learned books, Zohar and Mishna, Toldoth Jesu and Abarbenel.  ‘I am fond
of these studies,’ said he, ‘which, perhaps, is not to be wondered at,
seeing that our people have been compared to the Jews.  In one respect I
confess we are similar to them; we are fond of getting money.  I do not
like this last author, this Abarbenel, the worse for having been a
money-changer.  I am a banker myself, as thou knowest.’

And would there were many like him, amidst the money-changers of princes!
The hall of many an earl lacks the bounty, the palace of many a prelate
the piety and learning, which adorn the quiet Quaker’s home!



CHAPTER SIXTEEN


FAIR OF HORSES—LOOKS OF RESPECT—THE FAST TROTTER—PAIR OF EYES—STRANGE
MEN—JASPER, YOUR PAL—FORCE OF BLOOD—THE YOUNG LADY WITH DIAMONDS

I was standing on the castle hill in the midst of a fair of horses.

I have already had occasion to mention this castle.  It is the remains of
what was once a Norman stronghold, and is perched upon a round mound or
monticle, in the midst of the old city.  Steep is this mound and scarped,
evidently by the hand of man; a deep gorge over which is flung a bridge,
separates it, on the south, from a broad swell of open ground called ‘the
hill’; of old the scene of many a tournament and feat of Norman chivalry,
but now much used as a show-place for cattle, where those who buy and
sell beeves and other beasts resort at stated periods.

So it came to pass that I stood upon this hill, observing a fair of
horses.

The reader is already aware that I had long since conceived a passion for
the equine race; a passion in which circumstances had of late not
permitted me to indulge.  I had no horses to ride, but I took pleasure in
looking at them; and I had already attended more than one of these fairs:
the present was lively enough, indeed horse fairs are seldom dull.  There
was shouting and whooping, neighing and braying; there was galloping and
trotting; fellows with highlows and white stockings, and with many a
string dangling from the knees of their tight breeches, were running
desperately, holding horses by the halter, and in some cases dragging
them along; there were long-tailed steeds and dock-tailed steeds of every
degree and breed; there were droves of wild ponies, and long rows of
sober cart horses; there were donkeys, and even mules: the last rare
things to be seen in damp, misty England, for the mule pines in mud and
rain, and thrives best with a hot sun above and a burning sand below.
There were—oh, the gallant creatures!  I hear their neigh upon the wind;
there were—goodliest sight of all—certain enormous quadrupeds only seen
to perfection in our native isle, led about by dapper grooms, their manes
ribanded and their tails curiously clubbed and balled.  Ha! ha!—how
distinctly do they say, ha! ha!

An old man draws nigh, he is mounted on a lean pony, and he leads by the
bridle one of these animals; nothing very remarkable about that creature,
unless in being smaller than the rest and gentle, which they are not; he
is not of the sightliest look; he is almost dun, and over one eye a thick
film has gathered.  But stay! there _is_ something remarkable about that
horse, there is something in his action in which he differs from all the
rest: as he advances, the clamour is hushed! all eyes are turned upon
him—what looks of interest—of respect—and, what is this? people are
taking off their hats—surely not to that steed!  Yes, verily! men,
especially old men, are taking off their hats to that one-eyed steed, and
I hear more than one deep-drawn ah!

‘What horse is that?’ said I to a very old fellow, the counterpart of the
old man on the pony, save that the last wore a faded suit of velveteen,
and this one was dressed in a white frock.

‘The best in mother England,’ said the very old man, taking a knobbed
stick from his mouth, and looking me in the face, at first carelessly,
but presently with something like interest; ‘he is old like myself, but
can still trot his twenty miles an hour.  You won’t live long, my swain;
tall and overgrown ones like thee never does; yet, if you should chance
to reach my years, you may boast to thy great-grand-boys thou hast seen
Marshland Shales.’

Amain I did for the horse what I would neither do for earl nor baron,
doffed my hat; yes! I doffed my hat to the wondrous horse, the fast
trotter, the best in mother England; and I too drew a deep ah! and
repeated the words of the old fellows around.  ‘Such a horse as this we
shall never see again; a pity that he is so old.’

Now during all this time I had a kind of consciousness that I had been
the object of some person’s observation; that eyes were fastened upon me
from somewhere in the crowd.  Sometimes I thought myself watched from
before, sometimes from behind; and occasionally methought that, if I just
turned my head to the right or left, I should meet a peering and
inquiring glance; and indeed once or twice I did turn, expecting to see
somebody whom I knew, yet always without success; though it appeared to
me that I was but a moment too late, and that some one had just slipped
away from the direction to which I turned, like the figure in a magic
lanthorn.  Once I was quite sure that there were a pair of eyes glaring
over my right shoulder; my attention, however, was so fully occupied with
the objects which I have attempted to describe, that I thought very
little of this coming and going, this flitting and dodging of I knew not
whom or what.  It was, after all, a matter of sheer indifference to me
who was looking at me.  I could only wish whomsoever it might be to be
more profitably employed; so I continued enjoying what I saw; and now
there was a change in the scene, the wondrous old horse departed with his
aged guardian; other objects of interest are at hand; two or three men on
horseback are hurrying through the crowd, they are widely different in
their appearance from the other people of the fair; not so much in dress,
for they are clad something after the fashion of rustic jockeys, but in
their look—no light-brown hair have they, no ruddy cheeks, no blue quiet
glances belong to them; their features are dark, their locks long, black,
and shining, and their eyes are wild; they are admirable horsemen, but
they do not sit the saddle in the manner of common jockeys, they seem to
float or hover upon it, like gulls upon the waves; two of them are mere
striplings, but the third is a very tall man with a countenance
heroically beautiful, but wild, wild, wild.  As they rush along, the
crowd give way on all sides, and now a kind of ring or circus is formed,
within which the strange men exhibit their horsemanship, rushing past
each other, in and out, after the manner of a reel, the tall man
occasionally balancing himself upon the saddle, and standing erect on one
foot.  He had just regained his seat after the latter feat, and was about
to push his horse to a gallop, when a figure started forward close from
beside me, and laying his hand on his neck, and pulling him gently
downward, appeared to whisper something into his ear; presently the tall
man raised his head, and, scanning the crowd for a moment in the
direction in which I was standing, fixed his eyes full upon me, and anon
the countenance of the whisperer was turned, but only in part, and the
side-glance of another pair of wild eyes was directed towards my face,
but the entire visage of the big black man, half stooping as he was, was
turned full upon mine.

But now, with a nod to the figure who had stopped him, and with another
inquiring glance at myself, the big man once more put his steed into
motion, and, after riding round the ring a few more times, darted through
a lane in the crowd, and followed by his two companions disappeared,
whereupon the figure who had whispered to him, and had subsequently
remained in the middle of the space, came towards me, and, cracking a
whip which he held in his hand so loudly that the report was nearly equal
to that of a pocket pistol, he cried in a strange tone:

‘What! the sap-engro?  Lor! the sap-engro upon the hill!’

‘I remember that word,’ said I, ‘and I almost think I remember you.  You
can’t be—’

‘Jasper, your pal!  Truth, and no lie, brother.’

‘It is strange that you should have known me,’ said I.  ‘I am certain,
but for the word you used, I should never have recognised you.’

‘Not so strange as you may think, brother; there is something in your
face which would prevent people from forgetting you, even though they
might wish it; and your face is not much altered since the time you wot
of, though you are so much grown.  I thought it was you, but to make sure
I dodged about, inspecting you.  I believe you felt me, though I never
touched you; a sign, brother, that we are akin, that we are dui palor—two
relations.  Your blood beat when mine was near, as mine always does at
the coming of a brother; and we became brothers in that lane.’

‘And where are you staying?’ said I; ‘in this town?’

‘Not in the town; the like of us don’t find it exactly wholesome to stay
in towns, we keep abroad.  But I have little to do here—come with me, and
I’ll show you where we stay.’

We descended the hill in the direction of the north, and passing along
the suburb reached the old Norman bridge, which we crossed; the chalk
precipice, with the ruin on its top, was now before us; but turning to
the left we walked swiftly along, and presently came to some rising
ground, which ascending, we found ourselves upon a wild moor or heath.

‘You are one of them,’ said I, ‘whom people call—’

‘Just so,’ said Jasper; ‘but never mind what people call us.’

‘And that tall handsome man on the hill, whom you whispered?  I suppose
he’s one of ye.  What is his name?’

‘Tawno Chikno,’ said Jasper, ‘which means the small one; we call him such
because he is the biggest man of all our nation.  You say he is handsome,
that is not the word, brother; he’s the beauty of the world.  Women run
wild at the sight of Tawno.  An earl’s daughter, near London—a fine young
lady with diamonds round her neck—fell in love with Tawno.  I have seen
that lass on a heath, as this may be, kneel down to Tawno, clasp his
feet, begging to be his wife—or anything else—if she might go with him.
But Tawno would have nothing to do with her: “I have a wife of my own,”
said he, “a lawful rommany wife, whom I love better than the whole world,
jealous though she sometimes be.”’

‘And is she very beautiful?’ said I.

‘Why, you know, brother, beauty is frequently a matter of taste; however,
as you ask my opinion, I should say not quite so beautiful as himself.’

We had now arrived at a small valley between two hills, or downs, the
sides of which were covered with furze; in the midst of this valley were
various carts and low tents forming a rude kind of encampment; several
dark children were playing about, who took no manner of notice of us.  As
we passed one of the tents, however, a canvas screen was lifted up, and a
woman supported upon a crutch hobbled out.  She was about the middle age,
and, besides being lame, was bitterly ugly; she was very slovenly
dressed, and on her swarthy features ill nature was most visibly stamped.
She did not deign me a look, but, addressing Jasper in a tongue which I
did not understand, appeared to put some eager questions to him.

‘He’s coming,’ said Jasper, and passed on.  ‘Poor fellow,’ said he to me,
‘he has scarcely been gone an hour, and she’s jealous already.  Well,’ he
continued, ‘what do you think of her? you have seen her now, and can
judge for yourself—that ’ere woman is Tawno Chikno’s wife!’



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN


THE TENTS—PLEASANT DISCOURSE—I AM PHARAOH—SHIFTING FOR ONE’S
SELF—HORSE-SHOES—THIS IS WONDERFUL—BLESS YOUR WISDOM—A PRETTY
MANŒUVRE—ILL DAY TO THE ROMANS—MY NAME IS HERNE—A SINGULAR PEOPLE—AN
ORIGINAL SPEECH

We went to the farthest of the tents, which stood at a slight distance
from the rest, and which exactly resembled the one which I have described
on a former occasion; we went in and sat down one on each side of a small
fire, which was smouldering on the ground, there was no one else in the
tent but a tall tawny woman of middle age, who was busily knitting.
‘Brother,’ said Jasper, ‘I wish to hold some pleasant discourse with
you.’

‘As much as you please,’ said I, ‘provided you can find anything pleasant
to talk about.’

‘Never fear,’ said Jasper; ‘and first of all we will talk of yourself.
Where have you been all this long time?’

‘Here and there,’ said I, ‘and far and near, going about with the
soldiers; but there is no soldiering now, so we have sat down, father and
family, in the town there.’

‘And do you still hunt snakes?’ said Jasper.

‘No,’ said I, ‘I have given up that long ago; I do better now: read books
and learn languages.’

‘Well, I am sorry you have given up your snake-hunting, many’s the
strange talk I have had with our people about your snake and yourself,
and how you frightened my father and mother in the lane.’

‘And where are your father and mother?’

‘Where I shall never see them, brother; at least, I hope so.’

‘Not dead?’

‘No, not dead; they are bitchadey pawdel.’

‘What’s that?’

‘Sent across—banished.’

‘Ah!  I understand; I am sorry for them.  And so you are here alone?’

‘Not quite alone, brother.’

‘No, not alone; but with the rest—Tawno Chikno takes care of you.’

‘Takes care of me, brother!’

‘Yes, stands to you in the place of a father—keeps you out of harm’s
way.’

‘What do you take me for, brother?’

‘For about three years older than myself.’

‘Perhaps; but you are of the Gorgios, and I am a Rommany Chal.  Tawno
Chikno take care of Jasper Petulengro!’

‘Is that your name?’

‘Don’t you like it?’

‘Very much, I never heard a sweeter; it is something like what you call
me.’

‘The horse-shoe master and the snake-fellow, I am the first.’

‘Who gave you that name?’

‘Ask Pharaoh.’

‘I would, if he were here, but I do not see him.’

‘I am Pharaoh.’

‘Then you are a king.’

‘Chachipen Pal.’

‘I do not understand you.’

‘Where are your languages?  You want two things, brother: mother sense,
and gentle Rommany.’

‘What makes you think that I want sense?’

‘That, being so old, you can’t yet guide yourself!’

‘I can read Dante, Jasper.’

‘Anan, brother.’

‘I can charm snakes, Jasper.’

‘I know you can, brother.’

‘Yes, and horses too; bring me the most vicious in the land, if I whisper
he’ll be tame.’

‘Then the more shame for you—a snake-fellow—a horse-witch—and a
lil-reader—yet you can’t shift for yourself.  I laugh at you, brother!’

‘Then you can shift for yourself?’

‘For myself and for others, brother.’

‘And what does Chikno?’

‘Sells me horses, when I bid him.  Those horses on the chong were mine.’

‘And has he none of his own?’

‘Sometimes he has; but he is not so well off as myself.  When my father
and mother were bitchadey pawdel, which, to tell you the truth, they were
for chiving wafodo dloovu, they left me all they had, which was not a
little, and I became the head of our family, which was not a small one.
I was not older than you when that happened; yet our people said they had
never a better krallis to contrive and plan for them, and to keep them in
order.  And this is so well known that many Rommany Chals, not of our
family, come and join themselves to us, living with us for a time, in
order to better themselves, more especially those of the poorer sort, who
have little of their own.  Tawno is one of these.’

‘Is that fine fellow poor?’

‘One of the poorest, brother.  Handsome as he is, he has not a horse of
his own to ride on.  Perhaps we may put it down to his wife, who cannot
move about, being a cripple, as you saw.’

‘And you are what is called a Gypsy King?’

‘Ay, ay; a Rommany Kral.’

‘Are there other kings?’

‘Those who call themselves so; but the true Pharaoh is Petulengro.’

‘Did Pharaoh make horse-shoes?’

‘The first who ever did, brother.’

‘Pharaoh lived in Egypt.’

‘So did we once, brother.’

‘And you left it?’

‘My fathers did, brother.’

‘And why did they come here?’

‘They had their reasons, brother.’

‘And you are not English?’

‘We are not gorgios.’

‘And you have a language of your own?’

‘Avali.’

‘This is wonderful.’

‘Ha, ha!’ cried the woman, who had hitherto sat knitting, at the farther
end of the tent, without saying a word, though not inattentive to our
conversation, as I could perceive by certain glances which she
occasionally cast upon us both.  ‘Ha, ha!’ she screamed, fixing upon me
two eyes, which shone like burning coals, and which were filled with an
expression both of scorn and malignity, ‘It is wonderful, is it, that we
should have a language of our own?  What, you grudge the poor people the
speech they talk among themselves?  That’s just like you gorgios; you
would have everybody stupid, single-tongued idiots, like yourselves.  We
are taken before the Poknees of the gav, myself and sister, to give an
account of ourselves.  So I says to my sister’s little boy, speaking
Rommany, I says to the little boy who is with us, Run to my son Jasper,
and the rest, and tell them to be off, there are hawks abroad.  So the
Poknees questions us, and lets us go, not being able to make anything of
us; but, as we are going, he calls us back.  “Good woman,” says the
Poknees, “what was that I heard you say just now to the little boy?”  “I
was telling him, your worship, to go and see the time of day, and to save
trouble I said it in our own language.”  “Where did you get that
language?” says the Poknees.  “’Tis our own language, sir,” I tells him,
“we did not steal it.”  “Shall I tell you what it is, my good woman?”
says the Poknees.  “I would thank you, sir,” says I, “for ’tis often we
are asked about it.”  “Well, then,” says the Poknees, “it is no language
at all, merely a made-up gibberish.”  “Oh, bless your wisdom,” says I,
with a curtsey, “you can tell us what our language is, without
understanding it!”  Another time we meet a parson.  “Good woman,” says
he, “what’s that you are talking?  Is it broken language?”  “Of course,
your reverence,” says I, “we are broken people; give a shilling, your
reverence, to the poor broken woman.”  Oh, these gorgios! they grudge us
our very language!’

‘She called you her son, Jasper?’

‘I am her son, brother.’

‘I thought you said your parents were—’

‘Bitchadey pawdel; you thought right, brother.  This is my wife’s
mother.’

‘Then you are married, Jasper?’

‘Ay, truly; I am husband and father.  You will see wife and chabo anon.’

‘Where are they now?’

‘In the gav, penning dukkerin.’

‘We were talking of language, Jasper?’

‘True, brother.’

‘Yours must be a rum one?’

‘’Tis called Rommany.’

‘I would gladly know it.’

‘You need it sorely.’

‘Would you teach it me?’

‘None sooner.’

‘Suppose we begin now?’

‘Suppose we do, brother.’

‘Not whilst I am here,’ said the woman, flinging her knitting down, and
starting upon her feet; ‘not whilst I am here shall this gorgio learn
Rommany.  A pretty manœuvre, truly; and what would be the end of it?  I
goes to the farming ker with my sister, to tell a fortune, and earn a few
sixpences for the chabes.  I sees a jolly pig in the yard, and I says to
my sister, speaking Rommany, “Do so and so,” says I; which the farming
man hearing, asks what we are talking about.  “Nothing at all, master,”
says I; “something about the weather”; when who should start up from
behind a pale, where he has been listening, but this ugly gorgio, crying
out, “They are after poisoning your pigs, neighbour!” so that we are glad
to run, I and my sister, with perhaps the farm-engro shouting after us.
Says my sister to me, when we have got fairly off, “How came that ugly
one to know what you said to me?”  Whereupon I answers, “It all comes of
my son Jasper, who brings the gorgio to our fire, and must needs be
teaching him.”  “Who was fool there?” says my sister.  “Who, indeed, but
my son Jasper,” I answers.  And here should I be a greater fool to sit
still and suffer it; which I will not do.  I do not like the look of him;
he looks over-gorgeous.  An ill day to the Romans when he masters
Rommany; and, when I says that, I pens a true dukkerin.’

‘What do you call God, Jasper?’

‘You had better be jawing,’ said the woman, raising her voice to a
terrible scream; ‘you had better be moving off, my gorgio; hang you for a
keen one, sitting there by the fire, and stealing my language before my
face.  Do you know whom you have to deal with?  Do you know that I am
dangerous?  My name is Herne, and I comes of the hairy ones!’

And a hairy one she looked!  She wore her hair clubbed upon her head,
fastened with many strings and ligatures; but now, tearing these off, her
locks, originally jet black, but now partially grizzled with age, fell
down on every side of her, covering her face and back as far down as her
knees.  No she-bear of Lapland ever looked more fierce and hairy than did
that woman, as standing in the open part of the tent, with her head bent
down, and her shoulders drawn up, seemingly about to precipitate herself
upon me, she repeated, again and again,—

‘My name is Herne, and I comes of the hairy ones!—’

‘I call God Duvel, brother.’

‘It sounds very like Devil.’

‘It doth, brother, it doth.’

‘And what do you call divine, I mean godly?’

‘Oh!  I call that duvelskoe.’

‘I am thinking of something, Jasper.’

‘What are you thinking of, brother?’

‘Would it not be a rum thing if divine and devilish were originally one
and the same word?’

‘It would, brother, it would—’

                                * * * * *

From this time I had frequent interviews with Jasper, sometimes in his
tent, sometimes on the heath, about which we would roam for hours,
discoursing on various matters.  Sometimes, mounted on one of his horses,
of which he had several, I would accompany him to various fairs and
markets in the neighbourhood, to which he went on his own affairs, or
those of his tribe.  I soon found that I had become acquainted with a
most singular people, whose habits and pursuits awakened within me the
highest interest.  Of all connected with them, however, their language
was doubtless that which exercised the greatest influence over my
imagination.  I had at first some suspicion that it would prove a mere
made-up gibberish; but I was soon undeceived.  Broken, corrupted, and
half in ruins as it was, it was not long before I found that it was an
original speech, far more so, indeed, than one or two others of high name
and celebrity, which, up to that time, I had been in the habit of
regarding with respect and veneration.  Indeed many obscure points
connected with the vocabulary of these languages, and to which neither
classic nor modern lore afforded any clue, I thought I could now clear up
by means of this strange broken tongue, spoken by people who dwelt
amongst thickets and furze bushes, in tents as tawny as their faces, and
whom the generality of mankind designated, and with much semblance of
justice, as thieves and vagabonds.  But where did this speech come from,
and who were they who spoke it?  These were questions which I could not
solve, and which Jasper himself, when pressed, confessed his inability to
answer.  ‘But, whoever we be, brother,’ said he, ‘we are an old people,
and not what folks in general imagine, broken gorgios; and, if we are not
Egyptians, we are at any rate Rommany Chals!’

‘Rommany Chals!  I should not wonder after all,’ said I, ‘that these
people had something to do with the founding of Rome.  Rome, it is said,
was built by vagabonds, who knows but that some tribe of the kind settled
down thereabouts, and called the town which they built after their name;
but whence did they come originally? ah! there is the difficulty.’

But abandoning these questions, which at that time were far too profound
for me, I went on studying the language, and at the same time the
characters and manners of these strange people.  My rapid progress in the
former astonished, while it delighted, Jasper.  ‘We’ll no longer call you
Sap-engro, brother,’ said he; ‘but rather Lav-engro, which in the
language of the gorgios meaneth Word-master.’  ‘Nay, brother,’ said Tawno
Chikno, with whom I had become very intimate, ‘you had better call him
Cooro-mengro, I have put on _the gloves_ with him, and find him a pure
fist-master; I like him for that, for I am a Cooro-mengro myself, and was
born at Brummagem.’

‘I likes him for his modesty,’ said Mrs. Chikno; ‘I never hears any ill
words come from his mouth, but, on the contrary, much sweet language.
His talk is golden, and he has taught my eldest to say his prayers in
Rommany, which my rover had never the grace to do.’  ‘He is the pal of my
rom,’ said Mrs. Petulengro, who was a very handsome woman, ‘and therefore
I likes him, and not the less for his being a rye; folks calls me
high-minded, and perhaps I have reason to be so; before I married Pharaoh
I had an offer from a lord—I likes the young rye, and, if he chooses to
follow us, he shall have my sister.  What say you, mother? should not the
young rye have my sister Ursula?’

‘I am going to my people,’ said Mrs. Herne, placing a bundle upon a
donkey, which was her own peculiar property; ‘I am going to Yorkshire,
for I can stand this no longer.  You say you like him: in that we
differs; I hates the gorgio, and would like, speaking Romanly, to mix a
little poison with his waters.  And now go to Lundra, my children, I goes
to Yorkshire.  Take my blessing with ye, and a little bit of a gillie to
cheer your hearts with when ye are weary.  In all kinds of weather have
we lived together; but now we are parted.  I goes broken-hearted—I can’t
keep you company; ye are no longer Rommany.  To gain a bad brother, ye
have lost a good mother.’



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN


WHAT PROFESSION?—NOT FITTED FOR A CHURCHMAN—ERRATIC COURSE—THE BITTER
DRAUGHT—PRINCIPLE OF WOE—THOU WOULDST BE JOYOUS—WHAT AILS YOU?

So the gypsies departed; Mrs. Herne to Yorkshire, and the rest to London:
as for myself, I continued in the house of my parents, passing my time in
much the same manner as I have already described, principally in
philological pursuits; but I was now sixteen, and it was highly necessary
that I should adopt some profession, unless I intended to fritter away my
existence, and to be a useless burden to those who had given me birth;
but what profession was I to choose? there being none in the wide world
perhaps for which I was suited; nor was there any one for which I felt
any decided inclination, though perhaps there existed within me a lurking
penchant for the profession of arms, which was natural enough, as, from
my earliest infancy, I had been accustomed to military sights and sounds;
but this profession was then closed, as I have already hinted, and, as I
believe, it has since continued, to those who, like myself, had no better
claims to urge than the services of a father.

My father, who, for certain reasons of his own, had no very high opinion
of the advantages resulting from this career, would have gladly seen me
enter the Church.  His desire was, however, considerably abated by one or
two passages of my life, which occurred to his recollection.  He
particularly dwelt on the unheard-of manner in which I had picked up the
Irish language, and drew from thence the conclusion that I was not fitted
by nature to cut a respectable figure at an English university.  ‘He will
fly off in a tangent,’ said he, ‘and, when called upon to exhibit his
skill in Greek, will be found proficient in Irish; I have observed the
poor lad attentively, and really do not know what to make of him; but I
am afraid he will never make a churchman!’  And I have no doubt that my
excellent father was right, both in his premises and the conclusion at
which he arrived.  I had undoubtedly, at one period of my life, forsaken
Greek for Irish, and the instructions of a learned Protestant divine for
those of a Papist gossoon, the card-fancying Murtagh; and of late, though
I kept it a strict secret, I had abandoned in a great measure the study
of the beautiful Italian, and the recitation of the sonorous terzets of
the Divine Comedy; in which at one time I took the greatest delight, in
order to become acquainted with the broken speech, and yet more broken
songs, of certain houseless wanderers whom I had met at a horse fair.
Such an erratic course was certainly by no means in consonance with the
sober and unvarying routine of college study.  And my father, who was a
man of excellent common sense, displayed it in not pressing me to adopt a
profession which required qualities of mind which he saw I did not
possess.

Other professions were talked of, amongst which the law; but now an event
occurred which had nearly stopped my career, and merged all minor points
of solicitude in anxiety for my life.  My strength and appetite suddenly
deserted me, and I began to pine and droop.  Some said that I had
overgrown myself, and that these were the symptoms of a rapid decline; I
grew worse and worse, and was soon stretched upon my bed, from which it
seemed scarcely probable that I should ever more rise, the physicians
themselves giving but slight hopes of my recovery: as for myself, I made
up my mind to die, and felt quite resigned.  I was sadly ignorant at that
time, and, when I thought of death, it appeared to me little else than a
pleasant sleep, and I wished for sleep, of which I got but little.  It
was well that I did not die that time, for I repeat that I was sadly
ignorant of many important things.  I did not die, for somebody coming
gave me a strange, bitter draught; a decoction, I believe, of a bitter
root which grows on commons and desolate places: and the person who gave
it me was an ancient female, a kind of doctress, who had been my nurse in
my infancy, and who, hearing of my state, had come to see me; so I drank
the draught, and became a little better, and I continued taking draughts
made from the bitter root till I manifested symptoms of convalescence.

But how much more quickly does strength desert the human frame than
return to it!  I had become convalescent, it is true, but my state of
feebleness was truly pitiable.  I believe it is in that state that the
most remarkable feature of human physiology frequently exhibits itself.
Oh, how dare I mention the dark feeling of mysterious dread which comes
over the mind, and which the lamp of reason, though burning bright the
while, is unable to dispel!  Art thou, as leeches say, the concomitant of
disease—the result of shattered nerves?  Nay, rather the principle of woe
itself, the fountain-head of all sorrow co-existent with man, whose
influence he feels when yet unborn, and whose workings he testifies with
his earliest cries, when, ‘drowned in tears,’ he first beholds the light;
for, as the sparks fly upward, so is man born to trouble, and woe doth he
bring with him into the world, even thyself, dark one, terrible one,
causeless, unbegotten, without a father.  Oh, how unfrequently dost thou
break down the barriers which divide thee from the poor soul of man, and
overcast its sunshine with thy gloomy shadow.  In the brightest days of
prosperity—in the midst of health and wealth—how sentient is the poor
human creature of thy neighbourhood! how instinctively aware that the
flood-gates of horror may be cast open, and the dark stream engulf him
for ever and ever!  Then is it not lawful for man to exclaim, ‘Better
that I had never been born!’  Fool, for thyself thou wast not born, but
to fulfil the inscrutable decrees of thy Creator; and how dost thou know
that this dark principle is not, after all, thy best friend; that it is
not that which tempers the whole mass of thy corruption?  It may be, for
what thou knowest, the mother of wisdom, and of great works: it is the
dread of the horror of the night that makes the pilgrim hasten on his
way.  When thou feelest it nigh, let thy safety word be ‘Onward’; if thou
tarry, thou art overwhelmed.  Courage! build great works—’tis urging
thee—it is ever nearest the favourites of God—the fool knows little of
it.  Thou wouldst be joyous, wouldst thou? then be a fool.  What great
work was ever the result of joy, the puny one?  Who have been the wise
ones, the mighty ones, the conquering ones of this earth? the joyous?  I
believe not.  The fool is happy, or comparatively so—certainly the least
sorrowful, but he is still a fool: and whose notes are sweetest, those of
the nightingale, or of the silly lark?

‘What ails you, my child?’ said a mother to her son, as he lay on a couch
under the influence of the dreadful one; ‘what ails you? you seem
afraid!’

_Boy_.  And so I am; a dreadful fear is upon me.

_Mother_.  But of what?  There is no one can harm you; of what are you
apprehensive?

_Boy_.  Of nothing that I can express; I know not what I am afraid of,
but afraid I am.

_Mother_.  Perhaps you see sights and visions; I knew a lady once who was
continually thinking that she saw an armed man threaten her, but it was
only an imagination, a phantom of the brain.

_Boy_.  No armed man threatens me; and ’tis not a thing like that would
cause me any fear.  Did an armed man threaten me, I would get up and
fight him; weak as I am, I would wish for nothing better, for then,
perhaps, I should lose this fear; mine is a dread of I know not what, and
there the horror lies.

_Mother_.  Your forehead is cool, and your speech collected.  Do you know
where you are?

_Boy_.  I know where I am, and I see things just as they are; you are
beside me, and upon the table there is a book which was written by a
Florentine; all this I see, and that there is no ground for being afraid.
I am, moreover, quite cool, and feel no pain—but, but—

And then there was a burst of ‘gemiti, sospiri ed alti guai.’  Alas,
alas, poor child of clay! as the sparks fly upward, so wast thou born to
sorrow—Onward!



CHAPTER NINETEEN


AGREEABLE DELUSIONS—YOUTH—A PROFESSION—AB GWILYM—GLORIOUS ENGLISH
LAW—THERE THEY PASS—MY DEAR OLD MASTER—THE DEAL DESK—LANGUAGE OF THE
TENTS—WHERE IS MORFYDD?—GO TO—ONLY ONCE

It has been said by this or that writer, I scarcely know by whom, that,
in proportion as we grow old, and our time becomes short, the swifter
does it pass, until at last, as we approach the borders of the grave, it
assumes all the speed and impetuosity of a river about to precipitate
itself into an abyss; this is doubtless the case, provided we can carry
to the grave those pleasant thoughts and delusions, which alone render
life agreeable, and to which even to the very last we would gladly cling;
but what becomes of the swiftness of time, when the mind sees the vanity
of human pursuits? which is sure to be the case when its fondest, dearest
hopes have been blighted at the very moment when the harvest was deemed
secure.  What becomes from that moment, I repeat, of the shortness of
time?  I put not the question to those who have never known that trial,
they are satisfied with themselves and all around them, with what they
have done, and yet hope to do; some carry their delusions with them to
the borders of the grave, ay, to the very moment when they fall into it;
a beautiful golden cloud surrounds them to the last, and such talk of the
shortness of time: through the medium of that cloud the world has ever
been a pleasant world to them; their only regret is that they are so soon
to quit it; but oh, ye dear deluded hearts, it is not every one who is so
fortunate!

To the generality of mankind there is no period like youth.  The
generality are far from fortunate; but the period of youth, even to the
least so, offers moments of considerable happiness, for they are not only
disposed but able to enjoy most things within their reach.  With what
trifles at that period are we content; the things from which in
after-life we should turn away in disdain please us then, for we are in
the midst of a golden cloud, and everything seems decked with a golden
hue.  Never during any portion of my life did time flow on more speedily
than during the two or three years immediately succeeding the period to
which we arrived in the preceding chapter: since then it has flagged
often enough; sometimes it has seemed to stand entirely still; and the
reader may easily judge how it fares at the present, from the
circumstance of my taking pen in hand, and endeavouring to write down the
passages of my life—a last resource with most people.  But at the period
to which I allude I was just, as I may say, entering upon life; I had
adopted a profession, and, to keep up my character, simultaneously with
that profession—the study of a new language.  I speedily became a
proficient in the one, but ever remained a novice in the other: a novice
in the law, but a perfect master in the Welsh tongue.

Yes; very pleasant times were those, when within the womb of a lofty deal
desk, behind which I sat for some eight hours every day, transcribing
(when I imagined eyes were upon me) documents of every description in
every possible hand, Blackstone kept company with Ab Gwilym—the polished
English lawyer of the last century, who wrote long and prosy chapters on
the rights of things—with a certain wild Welshman, who some four hundred
years before that time indited immortal cowydds and odes to the wives of
Cambrian chieftains—more particularly to one Morfydd, the wife of a
certain hunchbacked dignitary called by the poet facetiously Bwa
Bach—generally terminating with the modest request of a little private
parlance beneath the greenwood bough, with no other witness than the eos,
or nightingale, a request which, if the poet himself may be believed,
rather a doubtful point, was seldom, very seldom, denied.  And by what
strange chance had Ab Gwilym and Blackstone, two personages so
exceedingly different, been thus brought together?  From what the reader
already knows of me, he may be quite prepared to find me reading the
former; but what could have induced me to take up Blackstone, or rather
the law?

I have ever loved to be as explicit as possible; on which account,
perhaps, I never attained to any proficiency in the law, the essence of
which is said to be ambiguity; most questions may be answered in a few
words, and this among the rest, though connected with the law.  My
parents deemed it necessary that I should adopt some profession, they
named the law; the law was as agreeable to me as any other profession
within my reach, so I adopted the law, and the consequence was, that
Blackstone, probably for the first time, found himself in company with Ab
Gwilym.  By adopting the law I had not ceased to be Lavengro.

So I sat behind a desk many hours in the day, ostensibly engaged in
transcribing documents of various kinds; the scene of my labours was a
strange old house, occupying one side of a long and narrow court, into
which, however, the greater number of the windows looked not, but into an
extensive garden, filled with fruit trees, in the rear of a large,
handsome house, belonging to a highly respectable gentleman, who,
moyennant un douceur considerable, had consented to instruct my father’s
youngest son in the mysteries of glorious English law.  Ah! would that I
could describe the good gentleman in the manner which he deserves; he has
long since sunk to his place in a respectable vault, in the aisle of a
very respectable church, whilst an exceedingly respectable marble slab
against the neighbouring wall tells on a Sunday some eye wandering from
its prayer-book that his dust lies below; to secure such respectabilities
in death, he passed a most respectable life.  Let no one sneer, he
accomplished much; his life was peaceful, so was his death.  Are these
trifles?  I wish I could describe him, for I loved the man, and with
reason, for he was ever kind to me, to whom kindness has not always been
shown; and he was, moreover, a choice specimen of a class which no longer
exists—a gentleman lawyer of the old school.  I would fain describe him,
but figures with which he has nought to do press forward and keep him
from my mind’s eye; there they pass, Spaniard and Moor, Gypsy, Turk, and
livid Jew.  But who is that? what that thick pursy man in the loose,
snuff-coloured greatcoat, with the white stockings, drab breeches, and
silver buckles on his shoes; that man with the bull neck, and singular
head, immense in the lower part, especially about the jaws, but tapering
upward like a pear; the man with the bushy brows, small grey eyes replete
with catlike expression, whose grizzled hair is cut close, and whose
ear-lobes are pierced with small golden rings?  Oh! that is not my dear
old master, but a widely different personage.  Bon jour, Monsieur Vidocq!
expressions de ma part à Monsieur Le Baron Taylor.  But here he comes at
last, my veritable old master!

A more respectable-looking individual was never seen; he really looked
what he was, a gentleman of the law—there was nothing of the pettifogger
about him: somewhat under the middle size, and somewhat rotund in person,
he was always dressed in a full suit of black, never worn long enough to
become threadbare.  His face was rubicund, and not without keenness; but
the most remarkable thing about him was the crown of his head, which was
bald, and shone like polished ivory, nothing more white, smooth, and
lustrous.  Some people have said that he wore false calves, probably
because his black silk stockings never exhibited a wrinkle; they might
just as well have said that he waddled, because his shoes creaked; for
these last, which were always without a speck, and polished as his crown,
though of a different hue, did creak, as he walked rather slowly.  I
cannot say that I ever saw him walk fast.

He had a handsome practice, and might have died a very rich man, much
richer than he did, had he not been in the habit of giving rather
expensive dinners to certain great people, who gave him nothing in return
except their company; I could never discover his reasons for doing so, as
he always appeared to me a remarkably quiet man, by nature averse to
noise and bustle; but in all dispositions there are anomalies: I have
already said that he lived in a handsome house, and I may as well here
add that he had a very handsome wife, who both dressed and talked
exceedingly well.

So I sat behind the deal desk, engaged in copying documents of various
kinds; and in the apartment in which I sat, and in the adjoining ones,
there were others, some of whom likewise copied documents, while some
were engaged in the yet more difficult task of drawing them up; and some
of these, sons of nobody, were paid for the work they did, whilst others,
like myself, sons of somebody, paid for being permitted to work, which,
as our principal observed, was but reasonable, forasmuch as we not
unfrequently utterly spoiled the greater part of the work entrusted to
our hands.

There was one part of the day when I generally found myself quite alone,
I mean at the hour when the rest went home to their principal meal; I,
being the youngest, was left to take care of the premises, to answer the
bell, and so forth, till relieved, which was seldom before the expiration
of an hour and a half, when I myself went home; this period, however, was
anything but disagreeable to me, for it was then that I did what best
pleased me, and, leaving off copying the documents, I sometimes indulged
in a fit of musing, my chin resting on both my hands, and my elbows
planted on the desk; or, opening the desk aforesaid, I would take out one
of the books contained within it, and the book which I took out was
almost invariably, not Blackstone, but Ab Gwilym.

Ah, that Ab Gwilym!  I am much indebted to him, and it were ungrateful on
my part not to devote a few lines to him and his songs in this my
history.  Start not, reader, I am not going to trouble you with a
poetical dissertation; no, no; I know my duty too well to introduce
anything of the kind; but I, who imagine I know several things, and
amongst others the workings of your mind at this moment, have an idea
that you are anxious to learn a little, a very little, more about Ab
Gwilym than I have hitherto told you, the two or three words that I have
dropped having awakened within you a languid kind of curiosity.  I have
no hesitation in saying that he makes one of the some half-dozen really
great poets whose verses, in whatever language they wrote, exist at the
present day, and are more or less known.  It matters little how I first
became acquainted with the writings of this man, and how the short thick
volume, stuffed full with his immortal imaginings, first came into my
hands.  I was studying Welsh, and I fell in with Ab Gwilym by no very
strange chance.  But, before I say more about Ab Gwilym, I must be
permitted—I really must—to say a word or two about the language in which
he wrote, that same ‘Sweet Welsh.’  If I remember right, I found the
language a difficult one; in mastering it, however, I derived unexpected
assistance from what of Irish remained in my head, and I soon found that
they were cognate dialects, springing from some old tongue which itself,
perhaps, had sprung from one much older.  And here I cannot help
observing cursorily that I every now and then, whilst studying this
Welsh, generally supposed to be the original tongue of Britain,
encountered words which, according to the lexicographers, were venerable
words highly expressive, showing the wonderful power and originality of
the Welsh, in which, however, they were no longer used in common
discourse, but were relics, precious relics, of the first speech of
Britain, perhaps of the world; with which words, however, I was already
well acquainted, and which I had picked up, not in learned books, classic
books, and in tongues of old renown, but whilst listening to Mr.
Petulengro and Tawno Chikno talking over their everyday affairs in the
language of the tents; which circumstance did not fail to give rise to
deep reflection in those moments when, planting my elbows on the deal
desk, I rested my chin upon my hands.  But it is probable that I should
have abandoned the pursuit of the Welsh language, after obtaining a very
superficial acquaintance with it, had it not been for Ab Gwilym.

A strange songster was that who, pretending to be captivated by every
woman he saw, was, in reality, in love with nature alone—wild, beautiful,
solitary nature—her mountains and cascades, her forests and streams, her
birds, fishes, and wild animals.  Go to, Ab Gwilym, with thy
pseudo-amatory odes, to Morfydd, or this or that other lady, fair or
ugly; little didst thou care for any of them, Dame Nature was thy love,
however thou mayest seek to disguise the truth.  Yes, yes, send thy
love-message to Morfydd, the fair wanton.  By whom dost thou send it, I
would know? by the salmon forsooth, which haunts the rushing stream! the
glorious salmon which bounds and gambols in the flashing water, and whose
ways and circumstances thou so well describest—see, there he hurries
upwards through the flashing water.  Halloo! what a glimpse of glory—but
where is Morfydd the while?  What, another message to the wife of Bwa
Bach?  Ay, truly; and by whom?—the wind! the swift wind, the rider of the
world, whose course is not to be stayed; who gallops o’er the mountain,
and, when he comes to broadest river, asks neither for boat nor ferry;
who has described the wind so well—his speed and power?  But where is
Morfydd?  And now thou art awaiting Morfydd, the wanton, the wife of the
Bwa Bach; thou art awaiting her beneath the tall trees, amidst the
underwood; but she comes not; no Morfydd is there.  Quite right, Ab
Gwilym; what wantest thou with Morfydd?  But another form is nigh at
hand, that of red Reynard, who, seated upon his chine at the mouth of his
cave, looks very composedly at thee; thou startest, bendest thy bow, thy
cross-bow, intending to hit Reynard with the bolt just about the jaw; but
the bow breaks, Reynard barks and disappears into his cave, which by
thine own account reaches hell—and then thou ravest at the misfortune of
thy bow, and the non-appearance of Morfydd, and abusest Reynard.  Go to,
thou carest neither for thy bow nor for Morfydd, thou merely seekest an
opportunity to speak of Reynard; and who has described him like thee? the
brute with the sharp shrill cry, the black reverse of melody, whose face
sometimes wears a smile like the devil’s in the Evangile.  But now thou
art actually with Morfydd; yes, she has stolen from the dwelling of the
Bwa Bach and has met thee beneath those rocks—she is actually with thee,
Ab Gwilym; but she is not long with thee, for a storm comes on, and
thunder shatters the rocks—Morfydd flees!  Quite right, Ab Gwilym; thou
hadst no need of her, a better theme for song is the voice of the
Lord—the rock-shatterer—than the frail wife of the Bwa Bach.  Go to, Ab
Gwilym, thou wast a wiser and a better man than thou wouldst fain have
had people believe.

But enough of thee and thy songs!  Those times passed rapidly; with Ab
Gwilym in my hand, I was in the midst of enchanted ground, in which I
experienced sensations akin to those I had felt of yore whilst spelling
my way through the wonderful book—the delight of my childhood.  I say
akin, for perhaps only once in our lives do we experience unmixed wonder
and delight; and these I had already known.



CHAPTER TWENTY


SILVER GREY—GOOD WORD FOR EVERYBODY—A REMARKABLE YOUTH—THE
ARCHDEACON—READING THE BIBLE

‘I am afraid that I have not acted very wisely in putting this boy of
ours to the law,’ said my father to my mother, as they sat together one
summer evening in their little garden, beneath the shade of some tall
poplars.

Yes, there sat my father in the garden chair which leaned against the
wall of his quiet home, the haven in which he had sought rest; and,
praise be to God, found it, after many a year of poorly-requited toil;
there he sat, with locks of silver grey which set off so nobly his fine
bold but benevolent face, his faithful consort at his side, and his
trusty dog at his feet—an eccentric animal of the genuine regimental
breed, who, born amongst red coats, had not yet become reconciled to
those of any other hue, barking and tearing at them when they drew near
the door, but testifying his fond reminiscence of the former by
hospitable waggings of the tail whenever a uniform made its appearance—at
present a very unfrequent occurrence.

‘I am afraid I have not done right in putting him to the law,’ said my
father, resting his chin upon his gold-headed bamboo cane.

‘Why, what makes you think so?’ said my mother.

‘I have been taking my usual evening walk up the road, with the animal
here,’ said my father; ‘and, as I walked along, I overtook the boy’s
master, Mr. S---.  We shook hands, and, after walking a little way
farther, we turned back together, talking about this and that; the state
of the country, the weather, and the dog, which he greatly admired; for
he is a good-natured man, and has a good word for everybody, though the
dog all but bit him when he attempted to coax his head; after the dog, we
began talking about the boy; it was myself who introduced that subject: I
thought it was a good opportunity to learn how he was getting on, so I
asked what he thought of my son; he hesitated at first, seeming scarcely
to know what to say; at length he came out with “Oh, a very extraordinary
youth, a most remarkable youth indeed, captain!”  “Indeed,” said I, “I am
glad to hear it, but I hope you find him steady?”  “Steady, steady,” said
he, “why, yes, he’s steady, I cannot say that he is not steady.”  “Come,
come,” said I, beginning to be rather uneasy, “I see plainly that you are
not altogether satisfied with him; I was afraid you would not be, for,
though he is my own son, I am anything but blind to his imperfections;
but do tell me what particular fault you have to find with him; and I
will do my best to make him alter his conduct.”  “No fault to find with
him, captain, I assure you, no fault whatever; the youth is a remarkable
youth, an extraordinary youth, only—”  As I told you before, Mr. S--- is
the best-natured man in the world, and it was only with the greatest
difficulty that I could get him to say a single word to the disadvantage
of the boy, for whom he seems to entertain a very great regard.  At last
I forced the truth from him, and grieved I was to hear it; though I must
confess that I was somewhat prepared for it.  It appears that the lad has
a total want of discrimination.’

‘I don’t understand you,’ said my mother.

‘You can understand nothing that would seem for a moment to impugn the
conduct of that child.  I am not, however, so blind; want of
discrimination was the word, and it both sounds well, and is expressive.
It appears that, since he has been placed where he is, he has been guilty
of the grossest blunders; only the other day, Mr. S--- told me, as he was
engaged in close conversation with one of his principal clients, the boy
came to tell him that a person wanted particularly to speak with him;
and, on going out, he found a lamentable figure with one eye, who came to
ask for charity; whom, nevertheless, the lad had ushered into a private
room, and installed in an arm-chair, like a justice of the peace, instead
of telling him to go about his business—now what did that show, but a
total want of discrimination?’

‘I wish we may never have anything worse to reproach him with,’ said my
mother.

‘I don’t know what worse we could reproach him with,’ said my father; ‘I
mean of course as far as his profession is concerned; discrimination is
the very keystone; if he treated all people alike, he would soon become a
beggar himself; there are grades in society as well as in the army; and
according to those grades we should fashion our behaviour, else there
would instantly be an end of all order and discipline.  I am afraid that
the child is too condescending to his inferiors, whilst to his superiors
he is apt to be unbending enough; I don’t believe that would do in the
world; I am sure it would not in the army.  He told me another anecdote
with respect to his behaviour, which shocked me more than the other had
done.  It appears that his wife, who by the bye, is a very fine woman,
and highly fashionable, gave him permission to ask the boy to tea one
evening, for she is herself rather partial to the lad; there had been a
great dinner party there that day, and there were a great many
fashionable people, so the boy went and behaved very well and modestly
for some time, and was rather noticed, till, unluckily, a very great
gentleman, an archdeacon I think, put some questions to him, and, finding
that he understood the languages, began talking to him about the
classics.  What do you think? the boy had the impertinence to say that
the classics were much overvalued, and amongst other things that some
horrid fellow or other, some Welshman I think (thank God it was not an
Irishman), was a better poet than Ovid; the company were of course
horrified; the archdeacon, who is seventy years of age, and has seven
thousand a year, took snuff and turned away.  Mrs. S--- turned up her
eyes, Mr. S---, however, told me with his usual good-nature (I suppose to
spare my feelings) that he rather enjoyed the thing, and thought it a
capital joke.’

‘I think so too,’ said my mother.

‘I do not,’ said my father; ‘that a boy of his years should entertain an
opinion of his own—I mean one which militates against all established
authority—is astounding; as well might a raw recruit pretend to offer an
unfavourable opinion on the manual and platoon exercise; the idea is
preposterous; the lad is too independent by half.  I never yet knew one
of an independent spirit get on in the army, the secret of success in the
army is the spirit of subordination.’

‘Which is a poor spirit after all,’ said my mother; ‘but the child is not
in the army.’

‘And it is well for him that he is not,’ said my father; ‘but you do not
talk wisely, the world is a field of battle, and he who leaves the ranks,
what can he expect but to be cut down?  I call his present behaviour
leaving the ranks, and going vapouring about without orders; his only
chance lies in falling in again as quick as possible; does he think he
can carry the day by himself? an opinion of his own at these years—I
confess I am exceedingly uneasy about the lad.’

‘You make me uneasy too,’ said my mother; ‘but I really think you are too
hard upon the child; he is not a bad child, after all, though not,
perhaps, all you could wish him; he is always ready to read the Bible.
Let us go in; he is in the room above us; at least he was two hours ago,
I left him there bending over his books; I wonder what he has been doing
all this time, it is now getting late; let us go in, and he shall read to
us.’

‘I am getting old,’ said my father; ‘and I love to hear the Bible read to
me, for my own sight is something dim; yet I do not wish the child to
read to me this night, I cannot so soon forget what I have heard; but I
hear my eldest son’s voice, he is now entering the gate; he shall read
the Bible to us this night.  What say you?’



CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE


THE ELDEST SON—SAYING OF WILD FINLAND—THE CRITICAL TIME—VAUNTING
POLLS—ONE THING WANTED—A FATHER’S BLESSING—MIRACLE OF ART—THE POPE’S
HOUSE—THE YOUNG ENTHUSIAST—PICTURES OF ENGLAND—PERSIST AND WRESTLE—OF THE
LITTLE DARK MAN

The eldest son!  The regard and affection which my father entertained for
his first-born were natural enough, and appeared to none more so than
myself, who cherished the same feelings towards him.  What he was as a
boy the reader already knows, for the reader has seen him as a boy; fain
would I describe him at the time of which I am now speaking, when he had
attained the verge of manhood, but the pen fails me, and I attempt not
the task; and yet it ought to be an easy one, for how frequently does his
form visit my mind’s eye in slumber and in wakefulness, in the light of
day and in the night watches; but last night I saw him in his beauty and
his strength; he was about to speak, and my ear was on the stretch, when
at once I awoke, and there was I alone, and the night storm was howling
amidst the branches of the pines which surround my lonely dwelling:
‘Listen to the moaning of the pine, at whose root thy hut is fastened,’—a
saying that, of wild Finland, in which there is wisdom; I listened and
thought of life and death. . . .  Of all human beings that I have ever
known, that elder brother was the most frank and generous, ay, and the
quickest and readiest, and the best adapted to do a great thing needful
at the critical time, when the delay of a moment would be fatal.  I have
known him dash from a steep bank into a stream in his full dress, and
pull out a man who was drowning; yet there were twenty others bathing in
the water, who might have saved him by putting out a hand, without
inconvenience to themselves, which, however, they did not do, but stared
with stupid surprise at the drowning one’s struggles.  Yes, whilst some
shouted from the bank to those in the water to save the drowning one, and
those in the water did nothing, my brother neither shouted nor stood
still, but dashed from the bank and did the one thing needful, which,
under such circumstances, not one man in a million would have done.  Now,
who can wonder that a brave old man should love a son like this, and
prefer him to any other?

‘My boy, my own boy, you are the very image of myself, the day I took off
my coat in the park to fight Big Ben,’ said my father, on meeting his son
wet and dripping, immediately after his bold feat.  And who cannot excuse
the honest pride of the old man—the stout old man?

Ay, old man, that son was worthy of thee, and thou wast worthy of such a
son; a noble specimen wast thou of those strong single-minded Englishmen,
who, without making a parade either of religion or loyalty, feared God
and honoured their king, and were not particularly friendly to the
French, whose vaunting polls they occasionally broke, as at Minden and at
Malplaquet, to the confusion vast of the eternal foes of the English
land.  I, who was so little like thee that thou understoodst me not, and
in whom with justice thou didst feel so little pride, had yet perception
enough to see all thy worth, and to feel it an honour to be able to call
myself thy son; and if at some no distant time, when the foreign enemy
ventures to insult our shore, I be permitted to break some vaunting poll,
it will be a triumph to me to think that, if thou hadst lived, thou
wouldst have hailed the deed, and mightest yet discover some distant
resemblance to thyself, the day when thou didst all but vanquish the
mighty Brain.

I have already spoken of my brother’s taste for painting, and the
progress he had made in that beautiful art.  It is probable that, if
circumstances had not eventually diverted his mind from the pursuit, he
would have attained excellence, and left behind him some enduring
monument of his powers, for he had an imagination to conceive, and that
yet rarer endowment, a hand capable of giving life, body, and reality to
the conceptions of his mind; perhaps he wanted one thing, the want of
which is but too often fatal to the sons of genius, and without which
genius is little more than a splendid toy in the hands of the
possessor—perseverance, dogged perseverance, in his proper calling;
otherwise, though the grave had closed over him, he might still be living
in the admiration of his fellow-creatures.  O ye gifted ones, follow your
calling, for, however various your talents may be, ye can have but one
calling capable of leading ye to eminence and renown; follow resolutely
the one straight path before you, it is that of your good angel, let
neither obstacles nor temptations induce ye to leave it; bound along if
you can; if not, on hands and knees follow it, perish in it, if needful;
but ye need not fear that; no one ever yet died in the true path of his
calling before he had attained the pinnacle.  Turn into other paths, and
for a momentary advantage or gratification ye have sold your inheritance,
your immortality.  Ye will never be heard of after death.

‘My father has given me a hundred and fifty pounds,’ said my brother to
me one morning, ‘and something which is better—his blessing.  I am going
to leave you.’

‘And where are you going?’

‘Where? to the great city; to London, to be sure.’

‘I should like to go with you.’

‘Pooh,’ said my brother, ‘what should you do there?  But don’t be
discouraged, I daresay a time will come when you too will go to London.’

And, sure enough, so it did, and all but too soon.

‘And what do you purpose doing there?’ I demanded.

‘Oh, I go to improve myself in art, to place myself under some master of
high name, at least I hope to do so eventually.  I have, however, a plan
in my head, which I should wish first to execute; indeed, I do not think
I can rest till I have done so; every one talks so much about Italy, and
the wondrous artists which it has produced, and the wondrous pictures
which are to be found there; now I wish to see Italy, or rather Rome, the
great city, for I am told that in a certain room there is contained the
grand miracle of art.’

‘And what do you call it?’

‘The Transfiguration, painted by one Rafael, and it is said to be the
greatest work of the greatest painter whom the world has ever known.  I
suppose it is because everybody says so, that I have such a strange
desire to see it.  I have already made myself well acquainted with its
locality, and think that I could almost find my way to it blindfold.
When I have crossed the Tiber, which, as you are aware, runs through
Rome, I must presently turn to the right, up a rather shabby street,
which communicates with a large square, the farther end of which is
entirely occupied by the front of an immense church, with a dome, which
ascends almost to the clouds, and this church they call St. Peter’s.’

‘Ay, ay,’ said I, ‘I have read about that in Keysler’s Travels.’

‘Before the church, in the square, are two fountains, one on either side,
casting up water in showers; between them, in the midst, is an obelisk,
brought from Egypt, and covered with mysterious writing; on your right
rises an edifice, not beautiful nor grand, but huge and bulky, where
lives a strange kind of priest whom men call the Pope, a very horrible
old individual, who would fain keep Christ in leading strings, calls the
Virgin Mary the Queen of Heaven, and himself God’s Lieutenant-General
upon earth.’

‘Ay, ay,’ said I, ‘I have read of him in Foxe’s _Book of Martyrs_.’

‘Well, I do not go straight forward up the flight of steps conducting
into the church, but I turn to the right, and, passing under the piazza,
find myself in a court of the huge bulky house; and then ascend various
staircases, and pass along various corridors and galleries, all of which
I could describe to you, though I have never seen them; at last a door is
unlocked, and we enter a room rather high, but not particularly large,
communicating with another room, into which, however, I do not go, though
there are noble things in that second room—immortal things, by immortal
artists; amongst others, a grand piece of Correggio; I do not enter it,
for the grand picture of the world is not there; but I stand still
immediately on entering the first room, and I look straight before me,
neither to the right nor left, though there are noble things both on the
right and left, for immediately before me at the farther end, hanging
against the wall, is a picture which arrests me, and I can see nothing
else, for that picture at the farther end hanging against the wall is the
picture of the world. . . .’

Yes, go thy way, young enthusiast, and, whether to London town or to old
Rome, may success attend thee; yet strange fears assail me and misgivings
on thy account.  Thou canst not rest, thou say’st, till thou hast seen
the picture in the chamber at old Rome hanging over against the wall; ay,
and thus thou dost exemplify thy weakness—thy strength too, it may be—for
the one idea, fantastic yet lovely, which now possesses thee, could only
have originated in a genial and fervent brain.  Well, go, if thou must
go; yet it perhaps were better for thee to bide in thy native land, and
there, with fear and trembling, with groanings, with straining eyeballs,
toil, drudge, slave, till thou hast made excellence thine own; thou wilt
scarcely acquire it by staring at the picture over against the door in
the high chamber of old Rome.  Seekest thou inspiration? thou needest it
not, thou hast it already; and it was never yet found by crossing the
sea.  What hast thou to do with old Rome, and thou an Englishman?  ‘Did
thy blood never glow at the mention of thy native land?’ as an artist
merely?  Yes, I trow, and with reason, for thy native land need not
grudge old Rome her ‘pictures of the world’; she has pictures of her own,
‘pictures of England’; and is it a new thing to toss up caps and
shout—England against the world?  Yes, against the world in all, in all;
in science and in arms, in minstrel strain, and not less in the art
‘which enables the hand to deceive the intoxicated soul by means of
pictures.’ {153}  Seek’st models? to Gainsborough and Hogarth turn, not
names of the world, maybe, but English names—and England against the
world!  A living master? why, there he comes! thou hast had him long, he
has long guided thy young hand towards the excellence which is yet far
from thee, but which thou canst attain if thou shouldst persist and
wrestle, even as he has done, ’midst gloom and despondency—ay, and even
contempt; he who now comes up the creaking stair to thy little studio in
the second floor to inspect thy last effort before thou departest, the
little stout man whose face is very dark, and whose eye is vivacious;
that man has attained excellence, destined some day to be acknowledged,
though not till he is cold, and his mortal part returned to its kindred
clay.  He has painted, not pictures of the world, but English pictures,
such as Gainsborough himself might have done; beautiful rural pieces,
with trees which might well tempt the wild birds to perch upon them: thou
needest not run to Rome, brother, where lives the old Mariolater, after
pictures of the world, whilst at home there are pictures of England; nor
needest thou even go to London, the big city, in search of a master, for
thou hast one at home in the old East Anglian town who can instruct thee
whilst thou needest instruction: better stay at home, brother, at least
for a season, and toil and strive ’midst groanings and despondency till
thou hast attained excellence even as he has done—the little dark man
with the brown coat and the top-boots, whose name will one day be
considered the chief ornament of the old town, and whose works will at no
distant period rank amongst the proudest pictures of England—and England
against the world!—thy master, my brother, thy, at present, all too
little considered master—Crome.



CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO


DESIRE FOR NOVELTY—LIVES OF THE LAWLESS—COUNTENANCES—OLD YEOMAN AND
DAME—WE LIVE NEAR THE SEA—UNCOUTH-LOOKING VOLUME—THE OTHER
CONDITION—DRAOITHEAC—A DILEMMA—THE ANTINOMIAN—LODOWICK MUGGLETON—ANDERS
VEDEL

But to proceed with my own story: I now ceased all at once to take much
pleasure in the pursuits which formerly interested me, I yawned over Ab
Gwilym, even as I now in my mind’s eye perceive the reader yawning over
the present pages.  What was the cause of this?  Constitutional
lassitude, or a desire for novelty?  Both it is probable had some
influence in the matter, but I rather think that the latter feeling was
predominant.  The parting words of my brother had sunk into my mind.  He
had talked of travelling in strange regions and seeing strange and
wonderful objects, and my imagination fell to work and drew pictures of
adventures wild and fantastic, and I thought what a fine thing it must be
to travel, and I wished that my father would give me his blessing, and
the same sum that he had given my brother, and bid me go forth into the
world; always forgetting that I had neither talents nor energies at this
period which would enable me to make any successful figure on its stage.

And then I again sought up the book which had so captivated me in my
infancy, and I read it through; and I sought up others of a similar
character, and in seeking for them I met books also of adventure, but by
no means of a harmless description, lives of wicked and lawless men,
Murray and Latroon—books of singular power, but of coarse and prurient
imagination—books at one time highly in vogue; now deservedly forgotten,
and most difficult to be found.

And when I had gone through these books, what was my state of mind?  I
had derived entertainment from their perusal, but they left me more
listless and unsettled than before, and I really knew not what to do to
pass my time.  My philological studies had become distasteful, and I had
never taken any pleasure in the duties of my profession.  I sat behind my
desk in a state of torpor, my mind almost as blank as the paper before
me, on which I rarely traced a line.  It was always a relief to hear the
bell ring, as it afforded me an opportunity of doing something which I
was yet capable of doing, to rise and open the door and stare in the
countenances of the visitors.  All of a sudden I fell to studying
countenances, and soon flattered myself that I had made considerable
progress in the science.

‘There is no faith in countenances,’ said some Roman of old; ‘trust
anything but a person’s countenance.’  ‘Not trust a man’s countenance?’
say some moderns, ‘why, it is the only thing in many people that we can
trust; on which account they keep it most assiduously out of the way.
Trust not a man’s words if you please, or you may come to very erroneous
conclusions; but at all times place implicit confidence in a man’s
countenance, in which there is no deceit; and of necessity there can be
none.  If people would but look each other more in the face, we should
have less cause to complain of the deception of the world; nothing so
easy as physiognomy nor so useful.’  Somewhat in this latter strain I
thought at the time of which I am speaking.  I am now older, and, let us
hope, less presumptuous.  It is true that in the course of my life I have
scarcely ever had occasion to repent placing confidence in individuals
whose countenances have prepossessed me in their favour; though to how
many I may have been unjust, from whose countenances I may have drawn
unfavourable conclusions, is another matter.

But it had been decreed by that Fate which governs our every action that
I was soon to return to my old pursuits.  It was written that I should
not yet cease to be Lav-engro, though I had become, in my own opinion, a
kind of Lavater.  It is singular enough that my renewed ardour for
philology seems to have been brought about indirectly by my
physiognomical researches, in which had I not indulged, the event which I
am about to relate, as far as connected with myself, might never have
occurred.  Amongst the various countenances which I admitted during the
period of my answering the bell, there were two which particularly
pleased me, and which belonged to an elderly yeoman and his wife, whom
some little business had brought to our law sanctuary.  I believe they
experienced from me some kindness and attention, which won the old
people’s hearts.  So, one day, when their little business had been
brought to a conclusion, and they chanced to be alone with me, who was
seated as usual behind the deal desk in the outer room, the old man with
some confusion began to tell me how grateful himself and dame felt for
the many attentions I had shown them, and how desirous they were to make
me some remuneration.  ‘Of course,’ said the old man, ‘we must be
cautious what we offer to so fine a young gentleman as yourself; we have,
however, something we think will just suit the occasion, a strange kind
of thing which people say is a book, though no one that my dame or myself
have shown it to can make anything out of it; so as we are told that you
are a fine young gentleman, who can read all the tongues of the earth and
stars, as the Bible says, we thought, I and my dame, that it would be
just the thing you would like; and my dame has it now at the bottom of
her basket.’

‘A book!’ said I, ‘how did you come by it?’

‘We live near the sea,’ said the old man; ‘so near that sometimes our
thatch is wet with the spray; and it may now be a year ago that there was
a fearful storm, and a ship was driven ashore during the night, and ere
the morn was a complete wreck.  When we got up at daylight, there were
the poor shivering crew at our door; they were foreigners, red-haired
men, whose speech we did not understand; but we took them in, and warmed
them, and they remained with us three days; and when they went away they
left behind them this thing, here it is, part of the contents of a box
which was washed ashore.’

‘And did you learn who they were?’

‘Why, yes; they made us understand that they were Danes.’

Danes! thought I, Danes! and instantaneously, huge and grisly, appeared
to rise up before my vision the skull of the old pirate Dane, even as I
had seen it of yore in the pent-house of the ancient church to which,
with my mother and my brother, I had wandered on the memorable summer
eve.

And now the old man handed me the book; a strange and uncouth-looking
volume enough.  It was not very large, but instead of the usual covering
was bound in wood, and was compressed with strong iron clasps.  It was a
printed book, but the pages were not of paper, but vellum, and the
characters were black, and resembled those generally termed Gothic.

‘It is certainly a curious book,’ said I; ‘and I should like to have it,
but I can’t think of taking it as a gift, I must give you an equivalent,
I never take presents from anybody.’

The old man whispered with his dame and chuckled, and then turned his
face to me, and said, with another chuckle, ‘Well, we have agreed about
the price, but, maybe, you will not consent.’

‘I don’t know,’ said I; ‘what do you demand?’

‘Why, that you shake me by the hand, and hold out your cheek to my old
dame, she has taken an affection to you.’

‘I shall be very glad to shake you by the hand,’ said I, ‘but as for the
other condition, it requires consideration.’

‘No consideration at all,’ said the old man, with something like a sigh;
‘she thinks you like her son, our only child, that was lost twenty years
ago in the waves of the North Sea.’

‘Oh, that alters the case altogether,’ said I, ‘and of course I can have
no objection.’

And now at once I shook off my listlessness, to enable me to do which
nothing could have happened more opportune than the above event.  The
Danes, the Danes!  And was I at last to become acquainted, and in so
singular a manner, with the speech of a people which had as far back as I
could remember exercised the strongest influence over my imagination, as
how should they not!—in infancy there was the summer-eve adventure, to
which I often looked back, and always with a kind of strange interest
with respect to those to whom such gigantic and wondrous bones could
belong as I had seen on that occasion; and, more than this, I had been in
Ireland, and there, under peculiar circumstances, this same interest was
increased tenfold.  I had mingled much whilst there with the genuine
Irish—a wild but kind-hearted race, whose conversation was deeply imbued
with traditionary lore, connected with the early history of their own
romantic land, and from them I heard enough of the Danes, but nothing
commonplace, for they never mentioned them but in terms which tallied
well with my own preconceived ideas.  For at an early period the Danes
had invaded Ireland, and had subdued it, and though eventually driven
out, had left behind them an enduring remembrance in the minds of the
people, who loved to speak of their strength and their stature, in
evidence of which they would point to the ancient raths or mounds where
the old Danes were buried, and where bones of extraordinary size were
occasionally exhumed.  And as the Danes surpassed other people in
strength, so, according to my narrators, they also excelled all others in
wisdom, or rather in Draoitheac, or magic, for they were powerful
sorcerers, they said, compared with whom the fairy men of the present day
knew nothing at all, at all; and, amongst other wonderful things, they
knew how to make strong beer from the heather that grows upon the bogs.
Little wonder if the interest, the mysterious interest, which I had early
felt about the Danes, was increased tenfold by my sojourn in Ireland.

And now I had in my possession a Danish book, which, from its appearance,
might be supposed to have belonged to the very old Danes indeed; but how
was I to turn it to any account?  I had the book, it is true, but I did
not understand the language, and how was I to overcome that difficulty?
hardly by poring over the book; yet I did pore over the book, daily and
nightly, till my eyes were dim, and it appeared to me that every now and
then I encountered words which I understood—English words, though
strangely disguised; and I said to myself, Courage!  English and Danish
are cognate dialects, a time will come when I shall understand this
Danish; and then I pored over the book again, but with all my poring I
could not understand it; and then I became angry, and I bit my lips till
the blood came; and I occasionally tore a handful from my hair, and flung
it upon the floor, but that did not mend the matter, for still I did not
understand the book, which, however, I began to see was written in
rhyme—a circumstance rather difficult to discover at first, the
arrangement of the lines not differing from that which is employed in
prose; and its being written in rhyme made me only the more eager to
understand it.

But I toiled in vain, for I had neither grammar nor dictionary of the
language; and when I sought for them could procure neither; and I was
much dispirited, till suddenly a bright thought came into my head, and I
said, although I cannot obtain a dictionary or grammar, I can perhaps
obtain a Bible in this language, and if I can procure a Bible, I can
learn the language, for the Bible in every tongue contains the same
thing, and I have only to compare the words of the Danish Bible with
those of the English, and, if I persevere, I shall in time acquire the
language of the Danes; and I was pleased with the thought, which I
considered to be a bright one, and I no longer bit my lips, or tore my
hair, but I took my hat, and, going forth, I flung my hat into the air.

And when my hat came down, I put it on my head and commenced running,
directing my course to the house of the Antinomian preacher, who sold
books, and whom I knew to have Bibles in various tongues amongst the
number, and I arrived out of breath, and I found the Antinomian in his
little library, dusting his books; and the Antinomian clergyman was a
tall man of about seventy, who wore a hat with a broad brim and a shallow
crown, and whose manner of speaking was exceedingly nasal; and when I saw
him, I cried, out of breath, ‘Have you a Danish Bible?’ and he replied,
‘What do you want it for, friend?’ and I answered, ‘To learn Danish by’;
‘And maybe to learn thy duty,’ replied the Antinomian preacher.  ‘Truly,
I have it not, but, as you are a customer of mine, I will endeavour to
procure you one, and I will write to that laudable society which men call
the Bible Society, an unworthy member of which I am, and I hope by next
week to procure what you desire.’

And when I heard these words of the old man, I was very glad, and my
heart yearned towards him, and I would fain enter into conversation with
him; and I said, ‘Why are you an Antinomian?  For my part I would rather
be a dog than belong to such a religion.’  ‘Nay, friend,’ said the
Antinomian, ‘thou forejudgest us; know that those who call us Antinomians
call us so despitefully, we do not acknowledge the designation.’  ‘Then
you do not set all law at nought?’ said I.  ‘Far be it from us,’ said the
old man, ‘we only hope that, being sanctified by the Spirit from above,
we have no need of the law to keep us in order.  Did you ever hear tell
of Lodowick Muggleton?’  ‘Not I.’  ‘That is strange; know then that he
was the founder of our poor society, and after him we are frequently,
though opprobriously, termed Muggletonians, for we are Christians.  Here
is his book, which, perhaps, you can do no better than purchase, you are
fond of rare books, and this is both curious and rare; I will sell it
cheap.  Thank you, and now be gone, I will do all I can to procure the
Bible.’

And in this manner I procured the Danish Bible, and I commenced my task;
first of all, however, I locked up in a closet the volume which had
excited my curiosity, saying, ‘Out of this closet thou comest not till I
deem myself competent to read thee,’ and then I sat down in right
earnest, comparing every line in the one version with the corresponding
one in the other; and I passed entire nights in this manner, till I was
almost blind, and the task was tedious enough at first, but I quailed
not, and soon began to make progress: and at first I had a misgiving that
the old book might not prove a Danish book, but was soon reassured by
reading many words in the Bible which I remembered to have seen in the
book; and then I went on right merrily, and I found that the language
which I was studying was by no means a difficult one, and in less than a
month I deemed myself able to read the book.

Anon, I took the book from the closet, and proceeded to make myself
master of its contents; I had some difficulty, for the language of the
book, though in the main the same as the language of the Bible, differed
from it in some points, being apparently a more ancient dialect; by
degrees, however, I overcame this difficulty, and I understood the
contents of the book, and well did they correspond with all those ideas
in which I had indulged connected with the Danes.  For the book was a
book of ballads, about the deeds of knights and champions, and men of
huge stature; ballads which from time immemorial had been sung in the
North, and which some two centuries before the time of which I am
speaking had been collected by one Anders Vedel, who lived with a certain
Tycho Brahe, and assisted him in making observations upon the heavenly
bodies, at a place called Uranias Castle, on the little island of Hveen,
in the Cattegat.



CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE


THE TWO INDIVIDUALS—THE LONG PIPE—THE GERMANS—WERTHER—THE FEMALE
QUAKER—SUICIDE—GIBBON—JESUS OF BETHLEHEM—FILL YOUR
GLASS—SHAKESPEARE—ENGLISH OF MINDEN—MELANCHOLY SWAYNE VONVED—ARE YOU
HAPPY?—IMPROVE YOURSELF IN GERMAN

It might be some six months after the events last recorded, that two
individuals were seated together in a certain room, in a certain street
of the old town which I have so frequently had occasion to mention in the
preceding pages; one of them was an elderly, and the other a very young
man, and they sat on either side of a fireplace, beside a table on which
were fruit and wine; the room was a small one, and in its furniture
exhibited nothing remarkable.  Over the mantelpiece, however, hung a
small picture with naked figures in the foreground, and with much foliage
behind.  It might not have struck every beholder, for it looked old and
smoke-dried; but a connoisseur, on inspecting it closely, would have
pronounced it to be a Judgment of Paris, and a masterpiece of the Flemish
school.

The forehead of the elder individual was high, and perhaps appeared more
so than it really was, from the hair being carefully brushed back, as if
for the purpose of displaying to the best advantage that part of the
cranium; his eyes were large and full, and of a light brown, and might
have been called heavy and dull, had they not been occasionally lighted
up by a sudden gleam—not so brilliant however as that which at every
inhalation shone from the bowl of the long clay pipe which he was
smoking, but which, from a certain sucking sound which about this time
began to be heard from the bottom, appeared to be giving notice that it
would soon require replenishment from a certain canister, which, together
with a lighted taper, stood upon the table beside him.

‘You do not smoke?’ said he, at length, laying down his pipe, and
directing his glance to his companion.

Now there was at least one thing singular connected with this last,
namely, the colour of his hair, which, notwithstanding his extreme youth,
appeared to be rapidly becoming grey.  He had very long limbs, and was
apparently tall of stature, in which he differed from his elderly
companion, who must have been somewhat below the usual height.

‘No, I can’t smoke,’ said the youth, in reply to the observation of the
other; ‘I have often tried, but could never succeed to my satisfaction.’

‘Is it possible to become a good German without smoking?’ said the
senior, half speaking to himself.

‘I daresay not,’ said the youth; ‘but I shan’t break my heart on that
account.’

‘As for breaking your heart, of course you would never think of such a
thing; he is a fool who breaks his heart on any account; but it is good
to be a German, the Germans are the most philosophic people in the world,
and the greatest smokers: now I trace their philosophy to their smoking.’

‘I have heard say their philosophy is all smoke—is that your opinion?’

‘Why, no; but smoking has a sedative effect upon the nerves, and enables
a man to bear the sorrows of this life (of which every one has his share)
not only decently, but dignifiedly.  Suicide is not a national habit in
Germany as it is in England.’

‘But that poor creature, Werther, who committed suicide, was a German.’

‘Werther is a fictitious character, and by no means a felicitous one; I
am no admirer either of Werther or his author.  But I should say that, if
there ever was a Werther in Germany, he did not smoke.  Werther, as you
very justly observe, was a poor creature.’

‘And a very sinful one; I have heard my parents say that suicide is a
great crime.’

‘Broadly, and without qualification, to say that suicide is a crime, is
speaking somewhat unphilosophically.  No doubt suicide, under many
circumstances, is a crime, a very heinous one.  When the father of a
family, for example, to escape from certain difficulties, commits
suicide, he commits a crime; there are those around him who look to him
for support, by the law of nature, and he has no right to withdraw
himself from those who have a claim upon his exertions; he is a person
who decamps with other people’s goods as well as his own.  Indeed, there
can be no crime which is not founded upon the depriving others of
something which belongs to them.  A man is hanged for setting fire to his
house in a crowded city, for he burns at the same time or damages those
of other people; but if a man who has a house on a heath sets fire to it,
he is not hanged, for he has not damaged or endangered any other
individual’s property, and the principle of revenge, upon which all
punishment is founded, has not been aroused.  Similar to such a case is
that of the man who, without any family ties, commits suicide; for
example, were I to do the thing this evening, who would have a right to
call me to account?  I am alone in the world, have no family to support,
and, so far from damaging any one, should even benefit my heir by my
accelerated death.  However, I am no advocate for suicide under any
circumstances; there is something undignified in it, unheroic,
un-Germanic.  But if you must commit suicide—and there is no knowing to
what people may be brought—always contrive to do it as decorously as
possible; the decencies, whether of life or of death, should never be
lost sight of.  I remember a female Quaker who committed suicide by
cutting her throat, but she did it decorously and decently: kneeling down
over a pail, so that not one drop fell upon the floor; thus exhibiting in
her last act that nice sense of neatness for which Quakers are
distinguished.  I have always had a respect for that woman’s memory.’

And here, filling his pipe from the canister, and lighting it at the
taper, he recommenced smoking calmly and sedately.

‘But is not suicide forbidden in the Bible?’ the youth demanded.

‘Why, no; but what though it were!—the Bible is a respectable book, but I
should hardly call it one whose philosophy is of the soundest.  I have
said that it is a respectable book; I mean respectable from its
antiquity, and from containing, as Herder says, “the earliest records of
the human race,” though those records are far from being dispassionately
written, on which account they are of less value than they otherwise
might have been.  There is too much passion in the Bible, too much
violence; now, to come to all truth, especially historic truth, requires
cool dispassionate investigation, for which the Jews do not appear to
have ever been famous.  We are ourselves not famous for it, for we are a
passionate people; the Germans are not—they are not a passionate people—a
people celebrated for their oaths; we are.  The Germans have many
excellent historic writers, we . . . ’tis true we have Gibbon. . . .  You
have been reading Gibbon—what do you think of him?’

‘I think him a very wonderful writer.’

‘He is a wonderful writer—one _sui generis_—uniting the perspicuity of
the English—for we are perspicuous—with the cool dispassionate reasoning
of the Germans.  Gibbon sought after the truth, found it, and made it
clear.’

‘Then you think Gibbon a truthful writer?’

‘Why, yes; who shall convict Gibbon of falsehood?  Many people have
endeavoured to convict Gibbon of falsehood; they have followed him in his
researches, and have never found him once tripping.  Oh, he is a
wonderful writer! his power of condensation is admirable; the lore of the
whole world is to be found in his pages.  Sometimes in a single note he
has given us the result of the study of years; or, to speak
metaphorically, “he has ransacked a thousand Gulistans, and has condensed
all his fragrant booty into a single drop of otto.’”

‘But was not Gibbon an enemy to the Christian faith?’

‘Why, no; he was rather an enemy to priestcraft, so am I; and when I say
the philosophy of the Bible is in many respects unsound, I always wish to
make an exception in favour of that part of it which contains the life
and sayings of Jesus of Bethlehem, to which I must always concede my
unqualified admiration—of Jesus, mind you; for with his followers and
their dogmas I have nothing to do.  Of all historic characters Jesus is
the most beautiful and the most heroic.  I have always been a friend to
hero-worship, it is the only rational one, and has always been in use
amongst civilised people—the worship of spirits is synonymous with
barbarism—it is mere fetish; the savages of West Africa are all
spirit-worshippers.  But there is something philosophic in the worship of
the heroes of the human race, and the true hero is the benefactor.
Brahma, Jupiter, Bacchus, were all benefactors, and, therefore, entitled
to the worship of their respective peoples.  The Celts worshipped Hesus,
who taught them to plough, a highly useful art.  We, who have attained a
much higher state of civilisation than the Celts ever did, worship Jesus,
the first who endeavoured to teach men to behave decently and decorously
under all circumstances; who was the foe of vengeance, in which there is
something highly indecorous; who had first the courage to lift his voice
against that violent dogma, “an eye for an eye”; who shouted conquer, but
conquer with kindness; who said put up the sword, a violent unphilosophic
weapon; and who finally died calmly and decorously in defence of his
philosophy.  He must be a savage who denies worship to the hero of
Golgotha.’

‘But he was something more than a hero; he was the Son of God, wasn’t
he?’

The elderly individual made no immediate answer; but, after a few more
whiffs from his pipe, exclaimed, ‘Come, fill your glass!  How do you
advance with your translation of _Tell_?’

‘It is nearly finished; but I do not think I shall proceed with it; I
begin to think the original somewhat dull.’

‘There you are wrong; it is the masterpiece of Schiller, the first of
German poets.’

‘It may be so,’ said the youth.  ‘But, pray excuse me, I do not think
very highly of German poetry.  I have lately been reading Shakespeare;
and, when I turn from him to the Germans—even the best of them—they
appear mere pigmies.  You will pardon the liberty I perhaps take in
saying so.’

‘I like that every one should have an opinion of his own,’ said the
elderly individual; ‘and, what is more, declare it.  Nothing displeases
me more than to see people assenting to everything that they hear said; I
at once come to the conclusion that they are either hypocrites, or there
is nothing in them.  But, with respect to Shakespeare, whom I have not
read for thirty years, is he not rather given to bombast, “crackling
bombast,” as I think I have said in one of my essays?’

‘I daresay he is,’ said the youth; ‘but I can’t help thinking him the
greatest of all poets, not even excepting Homer.  I would sooner have
written that series of plays, founded on the fortunes of the House of
Lancaster, than the _Iliad_ itself.  The events described are as lofty as
those sung by Homer in his great work, and the characters brought upon
the stage still more interesting.  I think Hotspur as much of a hero as
Hector, and young Henry more of a man than Achilles; and then there is
the fat knight, the quintessence of fun, wit, and rascality.  Falstaff is
a creation beyond the genius even of Homer.’

‘You almost tempt me to read Shakespeare again—but the Germans?’

‘I don’t admire the Germans,’ said the youth, somewhat excited.  ‘I don’t
admire them in any point of view.  I have heard my father say that,
though good sharpshooters, they can’t be much depended upon as soldiers;
and that old Sergeant Meredith told him that Minden would never have been
won but for the two English regiments, who charged the French with fixed
bayonets, and sent them to the right-about in double-quick time.  With
respect to poetry, setting Shakespeare and the English altogether aside,
I think there is another Gothic nation, at least, entitled to dispute
with them the palm.  Indeed, to my mind, there is more genuine poetry
contained in the old Danish book which I came so strangely by, than has
been produced in Germany from the period of the Niebelungen lay to the
present.’

‘Ah, the Kœmpe Viser?’ said the elderly individual, breathing forth an
immense volume of smoke, which he had been collecting during the
declamation of his young companion.  ‘There are singular things in that
book, I must confess; and I thank you for showing it to me, or rather
your attempt at translation.  I was struck with that ballad of Orm
Ungarswayne, who goes by night to the grave-hill of his father to seek
for counsel.  And then, again, that strange melancholy Swayne Vonved, who
roams about the world propounding people riddles; slaying those who
cannot answer, and rewarding those who can with golden bracelets.  Were
it not for the violence, I should say that ballad has a philosophic
tendency.  I thank you for making me acquainted with the book, and I
thank the Jew Mousha for making me acquainted with you.’

‘That Mousha was a strange customer,’ said the youth, collecting himself.

‘He _was_ a strange customer,’ said the elder individual, breathing forth
a gentle cloud.  ‘I love to exercise hospitality to wandering strangers,
especially foreigners; and when he came to this place, pretending to
teach German and Hebrew, I asked him to dinner.  After the first dinner,
he asked me to lend him five pounds; I _did_ lend him five pounds.  After
the fifth dinner, he asked me to lend him fifty pounds; I did _not_ lend
him the fifty pounds.’

‘He was as ignorant of German as of Hebrew,’ said the youth; ‘on which
account he was soon glad, I suppose, to transfer his pupil to some one
else.’

‘He told me,’ said the elder individual, ‘that he intended to leave a
town where he did not find sufficient encouragement; and, at the same
time, expressed regret at being obliged to abandon a certain
extraordinary pupil, for whom he had a particular regard.  Now I, who
have taught many people German from the love which I bear to it, and the
desire which I feel that it should be generally diffused, instantly said
that I should be happy to take his pupil off his hands, and afford him
what instruction I could in German, for, as to Hebrew, I have never taken
much interest in it.  Such was the origin of our acquaintance.  You have
been an apt scholar.  Of late, however, I have seen little of you—what is
the reason?’

The youth made no answer.

‘You think, probably, that you have learned all I can teach you?  Well,
perhaps you are right.’

‘Not so, not so,’ said the young man eagerly; ‘before I knew you I knew
nothing, and am still very ignorant; but of late my father’s health has
been very much broken, and he requires attention; his spirits also have
become low, which, to tell you the truth, he attributes to my misconduct.
He says that I have imbibed all kinds of strange notions and doctrines,
which will, in all probability, prove my ruin, both here and hereafter;
which—which—’

‘Ah!  I understand,’ said the elder, with another calm whiff.  ‘I have
always had a kind of respect for your father, for there is something
remarkable in his appearance, something heroic, and I would fain have
cultivated his acquaintance; the feeling, however, has not been
reciprocated.  I met him, the other day, up the road, with his cane and
dog, and saluted him; he did not return my salutation.’

‘He has certain opinions of his own,’ said the youth, ‘which are widely
different from those which he has heard that you profess.’

‘I respect a man for entertaining an opinion of his own,’ said the
elderly individual.  ‘I hold certain opinions; but I should not respect
an individual the more for adopting them.  All I wish for is tolerance,
which I myself endeavour to practise.  I have always loved the truth, and
sought it; if I have not found it, the greater my misfortune.’

‘Are you happy?’ said the young man.

‘Why, no!  And, between ourselves, it is that which induces me to doubt
sometimes the truth of my opinions.  My life, upon the whole, I consider
a failure; on which account, I would not counsel you, or any one, to
follow my example too closely.  It is getting late, and you had better be
going, especially as your father, you say, is anxious about you.  But, as
we may never meet again, I think there are three things which I may
safely venture to press upon you.  The first is, that the decencies and
gentlenesses should never be lost sight of, as the practice of the
decencies and gentlenesses is at all times compatible with independence
of thought and action.  The second thing which I would wish to impress
upon you is, that there is always some eye upon us; and that it is
impossible to keep anything we do from the world, as it will assuredly be
divulged by somebody as soon as it is his interest to do so.  The third
thing which I would wish to press upon you—’

‘Yes,’ said the youth, eagerly bending forward.

‘Is—’ and here the elderly individual laid down his pipe upon the
table—‘that it will be as well to go on improving yourself in German!’



CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR


THE ALEHOUSE-KEEPER—COMPASSION FOR THE RICH—OLD ENGLISH GENTLEMAN—HOW IS
THIS?—MADEIRA—THE GREEK PARR—TWENTY LANGUAGES—WHITER’S HEALTH—ABOUT THE
FIGHT—A SPORTING GENTLEMAN—FLATTENED NOSE—THAT PIGHTLE—THE SURLY NOD

‘Holloa, master! can you tell us where the fight is likely to be?’

Such were the words shouted out to me by a short thick fellow, in brown
top-boots, and bareheaded, who stood, with his hands in his pockets, at
the door of a country alehouse as I was passing by.

Now, as I knew nothing about the fight, and as the appearance of the man
did not tempt me greatly to enter into conversation with him, I merely
answered in the negative, and continued my way.

It was a fine lovely morning in May, the sun shone bright above, and the
birds were carolling in the hedgerows.  I was wont to be cheerful at such
seasons, for, from my earliest recollection, sunshine and the song of
birds have been dear to me; yet, about that period, I was not cheerful,
my mind was not at rest; I was debating within myself, and the debate was
dreary and unsatisfactory enough.  I sighed, and turning my eyes upward,
I ejaculated, ‘What is truth?’

But suddenly, by a violent effort breaking away from my meditations, I
hastened forward; one mile, two miles, three miles were speedily left
behind; and now I came to a grove of birch and other trees, and opening a
gate I passed up a kind of avenue, and soon arriving before a large brick
house, of rather antique appearance, knocked at the door.

In this house there lived a gentleman with whom I had business.  He was
said to be a genuine old English gentleman, and a man of considerable
property; at this time, however, he wanted a thousand pounds, as
gentlemen of considerable property every now and then do.  I had brought
him a thousand pounds in my pocket, for it is astonishing how many eager
helpers the rich find, and with what compassion people look upon their
distresses.  He was said to have good wine in his cellar.

‘Is your master at home?’ said I, to a servant who appeared at the door.

‘His worship is at home, young man,’ said the servant, as he looked at my
shoes, which bore evidence that I had come walking.  ‘I beg your pardon,
sir,’ he added, as he looked me in the face.

‘Ay, ay, servants,’ thought I, as I followed the man into the house,
‘always look people in the face when you open the door, and do so before
you look at their shoes, or you may mistake the heir of a Prime Minister
for a shopkeeper’s son.’

I found his worship a jolly, red-faced gentleman, of about fifty-five; he
was dressed in a green coat, white corduroy breeches, and drab gaiters,
and sat on an old-fashioned leather sofa, with two small, thoroughbred,
black English terriers, one on each side of him.  He had all the
appearance of a genuine old English gentleman who kept good wine in his
cellar.

‘Sir,’ said I, ‘I have brought you a thousand pounds’; and I said this
after the servant had retired, and the two terriers had ceased the
barking which is natural to all such dogs at the sight of a stranger.

And when the magistrate had received the money, and signed and returned a
certain paper which I handed to him, he rubbed his hands, and looking
very benignantly at me, exclaimed—

‘And now, young gentleman, that our business is over, perhaps you can
tell me where the fight is to take place?’

‘I am sorry, sir,’ said I, ‘that I can’t inform you, but everybody seems
to be anxious about it’; and then I told him what had occurred to me on
the road with the alehouse-keeper.

‘I know him,’ said his worship; ‘he’s a tenant of mine, and a good
fellow, somewhat too much in my debt though.  But how is this, young
gentleman, you look as if you had been walking; you did not come on
foot?’

‘Yes, sir, I came on foot.’

‘On foot! why it is sixteen miles.’

‘I shan’t be tired when I have walked back.’

‘You can’t ride, I suppose?’

‘Better than I can walk.’

‘Then why do you walk?’

‘I have frequently to make journeys connected with my profession;
sometimes I walk, sometimes I ride, just as the whim takes me.’

‘Will you take a glass of wine?’

‘Yes.’

‘That’s right; what shall it be?’

‘Madeira!’

The magistrate gave a violent slap on his knee; ‘I like your taste,’ said
he, ‘I am fond of a glass of Madeira myself, and can give you such a one
as you will not drink every day; sit down, young gentleman, you shall
have a glass of Madeira, and the best I have.’

Thereupon he got up, and followed by his two terriers, walked slowly out
of the room.

I looked round the room, and, seeing nothing which promised me much
amusement, I sat down, and fell again into my former train of thought.
‘What is truth?’ said I.

‘Here it is,’ said the magistrate, returning at the end of a quarter of
an hour, followed by the servant with a tray; ‘here’s the true thing, or
I am no judge, far less a justice.  It has been thirty years in my cellar
last Christmas.  There,’ said he to the servant, ‘put it down, and leave
my young friend and me to ourselves.  Now, what do you think of it?’

‘It is very good,’ said I.

‘Did you ever taste better Madeira?’

‘I never before tasted Madeira.’

‘Then you ask for a wine without knowing what it is?’

‘I ask for it, sir, that I may know what it is.’

‘Well, there is logic in that, as Parr would say; you have heard of
Parr?’

‘Old Parr?’

‘Yes, old Parr, but not that Parr; you mean the English, I the Greek
Parr, as people call him.’

‘I don’t know him.’

‘Perhaps not—rather too young for that, but were you of my age, you might
have cause to know him, coming from where you do.  He kept school there,
I was his first scholar; he flogged Greek into me till I loved him—and he
loved me: he came to see me last year, and sat in that chair; I honour
Parr—he knows much, and is a sound man.’

‘Does he know the truth?’

‘Know the truth! he knows what’s good, from an oyster to an ostrich—he’s
not only sound, but round.’

‘Suppose we drink his health?’

‘Thank you, boy: here’s Parr’s health, and Whiter’s.’

‘Who is Whiter?’

‘Don’t you know Whiter?  I thought everybody knew Reverend Whiter the
philologist, though I suppose you scarcely know what that means.  A man
fond of tongues and languages, quite out of your way—he understands some
twenty; what do you say to that?’

‘Is he a sound man?’

‘Why, as to that, I scarcely know what to say: he has got queer notions
in his head—wrote a book to prove that all words came originally from the
earth—who knows?  Words have roots, and roots live in the earth; but,
upon the whole, I should not call him altogether a sound man, though he
can talk Greek nearly as fast as Parr.’

‘Is he a round man?’

‘Ay, boy, rounder than Parr; I’ll sing you a song, if you like, which
will let you into his character:—

    ‘Give me the haunch of a buck to eat, and to drink Madeira old,
    And a gentle wife to rest with, and in my arms to fold,
    An Arabic book to study, a Norfolk cob to ride,
    And a house to live in shaded with trees, and near to a river side;
    With such good things around me, and blessed with good health withal,
    Though I should live for a hundred years, for death I would not call.

Here’s to Whiter’s health—so you know nothing about the fight?’

‘No, sir; the truth is, that of late I have been very much occupied with
various matters, otherwise I should, perhaps, have been able to afford
you some information—boxing is a noble art.’

‘Can you box?’

‘A little.’

‘I tell you what, my boy; I honour you, and provided your education had
been a little less limited, I should have been glad to see you here in
company with Parr and Whiter; both can box.  Boxing is, as you say, a
noble art—a truly English art; may I never see the day when Englishmen
shall feel ashamed of it, or blacklegs and blackguards bring it into
disgrace.  I am a magistrate, and, of course, cannot patronise the thing
very openly, yet I sometimes see a prize fight: I saw the Game Chicken
beat Gulley.’

‘Did you ever see Big Ben?’

‘No; why do you ask?’  But here we heard a noise, like that of a gig
driving up to the door, which was immediately succeeded by a violent
knocking and ringing, and after a little time the servant who had
admitted me made his appearance in the room.  ‘Sir,’ said he, with a
certain eagerness of manner, ‘here are two gentlemen waiting to speak to
you.’

‘Gentlemen waiting to speak to me! who are they?’

‘I don’t know, sir,’ said the servant; ‘but they look like sporting
gentlemen, and—and’—here he hesitated; ‘from a word or two they dropped,
I almost think that they come about the fight.’

‘About the fight!’ said the magistrate.  ‘No; that can hardly be;
however, you had better show them in.’

Heavy steps were now heard ascending the stairs, and the servant ushered
two men into the apartment.  Again there was a barking, but louder than
that which had been directed against myself, for here were two intruders;
both of them were remarkable-looking men, but to the foremost of them the
most particular notice may well be accorded: he was a man somewhat under
thirty, and nearly six feet in height.  He was dressed in a blue coat,
white corduroy breeches, fastened below the knee with small golden
buttons; on his legs he wore white lamb’s-wool stockings, and on his feet
shoes reaching to the ankles; round his neck was a handkerchief of the
blue and bird’s eye pattern; he wore neither whiskers nor moustaches, and
appeared not to delight in hair, that of his head, which was of a light
brown, being closely cropped; the forehead was rather high, but somewhat
narrow; the face neither broad nor sharp, perhaps rather sharp than
broad; the nose was almost delicate; the eyes were grey, with an
expression in which there was sternness blended with something
approaching to feline; his complexion was exceedingly pale, relieved,
however, by certain pock-marks, which here and there studded his
countenance; his form was athletic, but lean; his arms long.  In the
whole appearance of the man there was a blending of the bluff and the
sharp.  You might have supposed him a bruiser; his dress was that of one
in all its minutiæ; something was wanting, however, in his manner—the
quietness of the professional man; he rather looked like one performing
the part—well—very well—but still performing a part.  His
companion!—there, indeed, was the bruiser—no mistake about him: a tall
massive man, with a broad countenance and a flattened nose; dressed like
a bruiser, but not like a bruiser going into the ring; he wore
white-topped boots, and a loose brown jockey coat.

As the first advanced towards the table, behind which the magistrate sat,
he doffed a white castor from his head, and made rather a genteel bow;
looking at me, who sat somewhat on one side, he gave a kind of nod of
recognition.

‘May I request to know who you are, gentlemen?’ said the magistrate.

‘Sir,’ said the man in a deep, but not unpleasant voice, ‘allow me to
introduce to you my friend, Mr. ---, the celebrated pugilist’; and he
motioned with his hand towards the massive man with the flattened nose.

‘And your own name, sir?’ said the magistrate.

‘My name is no matter,’ said the man; ‘were I to mention it to you, it
would awaken within you no feeling of interest.  It is neither Kean nor
Belcher, and I have as yet done nothing to distinguish myself like either
of those individuals, or even like my friend here.  However, a time may
come—we are not yet buried; and whensoever my hour arrives, I hope I
shall prove myself equal to my destiny, however high—

    ‘Like bird that’s bred amongst the Helicons.’

And here a smile half theatrical passed over his features.

‘In what can I oblige you, sir?’ said the magistrate.

‘Well, sir; the soul of wit is brevity; we want a place for an
approaching combat between my friend here and a brave from town.  Passing
by your broad acres this fine morning we saw a pightle, which we deemed
would suit.  Lend us that pightle, and receive our thanks; ’twould be a
favour, though not much to grant: we neither ask for Stonehenge nor for
Tempe.’

My friend looked somewhat perplexed; after a moment, however, he said,
with a firm but gentlemanly air, ‘Sir, I am sorry that I cannot comply
with your request.’

‘Not comply!’ said the man, his brow becoming dark as midnight; and with
a hoarse and savage tone, ‘Not comply! why not?’

‘It is impossible, sir; utterly impossible!’

‘Why so?’

‘I am not compelled to give my reasons to you, sir, nor to any man.’

‘Let me beg of you to alter your decision,’ said the man, in a tone of
profound respect.

‘Utterly impossible, sir; I am a magistrate.’

‘Magistrate! then fare ye well, for a green-coated buffer and a
Harmanbeck.’

‘Sir!’ said the magistrate, springing up with a face fiery with wrath.

But, with a surly nod to me, the man left the apartment; and in a moment
more the heavy footsteps of himself and his companion were heard
descending the staircase.

‘Who is that man?’ said my friend, turning towards me.

‘A sporting gentleman, well known in the place from which I come.’

‘He appeared to know you.’

‘I have occasionally put on the gloves with him.’

‘What is his name?’



CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE


DOUBTS—WISE KING OF JERUSALEM—LET ME SEE—A THOUSAND YEARS—NOTHING NEW—THE
CROWD—THE HYMN—FAITH—CHARLES WESLEY—THERE HE STOOD—FAREWELL,
BROTHER—DEATH—WIND ON THE HEATH

There was one question which I was continually asking myself at this
period, and which has more than once met the eyes of the reader who has
followed me through the last chapter: ‘What is truth?’  I had involved
myself imperceptibly in a dreary labyrinth of doubt, and, whichever way I
turned, no reasonable prospect of extricating myself appeared.  The means
by which I had brought myself into this situation may be very briefly
told; I had inquired into many matters, in order that I might become
wise, and I had read and pondered over the words of the wise, so called,
till I had made myself master of the sum of human wisdom; namely, that
everything is enigmatical and that man is an enigma to himself; hence the
cry of ‘What is truth?’  I had ceased to believe in the truth of that in
which I had hitherto trusted, and yet could find nothing in which I could
put any fixed or deliberate belief—I was, indeed, in a labyrinth!  In
what did I not doubt?  With respect to crime and virtue I was in doubt; I
doubted that the one was blamable and the other praiseworthy.  Are not
all things subjected to the law of necessity?  Assuredly; time and chance
govern all things: yet how can this be? alas!

Then there was myself; for what was I born?  Are not all things born to
be forgotten?  That’s incomprehensible: yet is it not so?  Those
butterflies fall and are forgotten.  In what is man better than a
butterfly?  All then is born to be forgotten.  Ah! that was a pang
indeed; ’tis at such a moment that a man wishes to die.  The wise king of
Jerusalem, who sat in his shady arbours beside his sunny fish-pools,
saying so many fine things, wished to die, when he saw that not only all
was vanity, but that he himself was vanity.  Will a time come when all
will be forgotten that now is beneath the sun?  If so, of what profit is
life?

In truth it was a sore vexation of spirit to me when I saw, as the wise
man saw of old, that whatever I could hope to perform must necessarily be
of very temporary duration; and if so, why do it?  I said to myself,
whatever name I can acquire, will it endure for eternity? scarcely so.  A
thousand years?  Let me see! what have I done already?  I have learnt
Welsh, and have translated the songs of Ab Gwilym, some ten thousand
lines, into English rhyme; I have also learnt Danish, and have rendered
the old book of ballads cast by the tempest upon the beach into
corresponding English metre.  Good! have I done enough already to secure
myself a reputation of a thousand years?  No, no! certainly not; I have
not the slightest ground for hoping that my translations from the Welsh
and Danish will be read at the end of a thousand years.  Well, but I am
only eighteen, and I have not stated all that I have done; I have learnt
many other tongues, and have acquired some knowledge even of Hebrew and
Arabic.  Should I go on in this way till I am forty, I must then be very
learned; and perhaps, among other things, may have translated the Talmud,
and some of the great works of the Arabians.  Pooh! all this is mere
learning and translation, and such will never secure immortality.
Translation is at best an echo, and it must be a wonderful echo to be
heard after the lapse of a thousand years.  No! all I have already done,
and all I may yet do in the same way, I may reckon as nothing—mere
pastime; something else must be done.  I must either write some grand
original work, or conquer an empire; the one just as easy as the other.
But am I competent to do either?  Yes, I think I am, under favourable
circumstances.  Yes, I think I may promise myself a reputation of a
thousand years, if I do but give myself the necessary trouble.  Well! but
what’s a thousand years after all, or twice a thousand years?  Woe, is
me!  I may just as well sit still.

‘Would I had never been born!’ I said to myself; and a thought would
occasionally intrude: But was I ever born?  Is not all that I see a lie—a
deceitful phantom?  Is there a world, and earth, and sky?  Berkeley’s
doctrine—Spinoza’s doctrine!  Dear reader, I had at that time never read
either Berkeley or Spinoza.  I have still never read them; who are they,
men of yesterday?  ‘All is a lie—all a deceitful phantom,’ are old cries;
they come naturally from the mouths of those who, casting aside that
choicest shield against madness, simplicity, would fain be wise as God,
and can only know that they are naked.  This doubting in the ‘universal
all’ is almost coeval with the human race: wisdom, so called, was early
sought after.  All is a lie—a deceitful phantom—was said when the world
was yet young; its surface, save a scanty portion, yet untrodden by human
foot, and when the great tortoise yet crawled about.  All is a lie, was
the doctrine of Buddh; and Buddh lived thirty centuries before the wise
king of Jerusalem, who sat in his arbours, beside his sunny fish-pools,
saying many fine things, and, amongst others, ‘There is nothing new under
the sun!’

                                * * * * *

One day, whilst I bent my way to the heath of which I have spoken on a
former occasion, at the foot of the hills which formed it I came to a
place where a wagon was standing, but without horses, the shafts resting
on the ground; there was a crowd about it, which extended half-way up the
side of the neighbouring hill.  The wagon was occupied by some half a
dozen men; some sitting, others standing—they were dressed in
sober-coloured habiliments of black or brown, cut in a plain and rather
uncouth fashion, and partially white with dust; their hair was short, and
seemed to have been smoothed down by the application of the hand; all
were bareheaded—sitting or standing, all were bareheaded.  One of them, a
tall man, was speaking as I arrived; ere, however, I could distinguish
what he was saying, he left off, and then there was a cry for a hymn ‘to
the glory of God’—that was the word.  It was a strange-sounding hymn, as
well it might be, for everybody joined in it: there were voices of all
kinds, of men, of women, and of children—of those who could sing and of
those who could not—a thousand voices all joined, and all joined
heartily; no voice of all the multitude was silent save mine.  The crowd
consisted entirely of the lower classes, labourers and mechanics, and
their wives and children—dusty people, unwashed people, people of no
account whatever, and yet they did not look a mob.  And when that hymn
was over—and here let me observe that, strange as it sounded, I have
recalled that hymn to mind, and it has seemed to tingle in my ears on
occasions when all that pomp and art could do to enhance religious
solemnity was being done—in the Sistine Chapel, what time the papal band
was in full play, and the choicest choristers of Italy poured forth their
mellowest tones in presence of Batuschca and his cardinals—on the ice of
the Neva, what time the long train of stately priests, with their noble
beards and their flowing robes of crimson and gold, with their ebony and
ivory staves, stalked along, chanting their Sclavonian litanies in
advance of the mighty Emperor of the North and his Priberjensky guard of
giants, towards the orifice through which the river, running below in its
swiftness, is to receive the baptismal lymph:—when the hymn was over,
another man in the wagon proceeded to address the people; he was a much
younger man than the last speaker; somewhat square built and about the
middle height; his face was rather broad, but expressive of much
intelligence, and with a peculiar calm and serious look; the accent in
which he spoke indicated that he was not of these parts, but from some
distant district.  The subject of his address was faith, and how it could
remove mountains.  It was a plain address, without any attempt at
ornament, and delivered in a tone which was neither loud nor vehement.
The speaker was evidently not a practised one—once or twice he hesitated
as if for words to express his meaning, but still he held on, talking of
faith, and how it could remove mountains: ‘It is the only thing we want,
brethren, in this world; if we have that, we are indeed rich, as it will
enable us to do our duty under all circumstances, and to bear our lot,
however hard it may be—and the lot of all mankind is hard—the lot of the
poor is hard, brethren—and who knows more of the poor than I?—a poor man
myself, and the son of a poor man: but are the rich better off? not so,
brethren, for God is just.  The rich have their trials too: I am not rich
myself, but I have seen the rich with careworn countenances; I have also
seen them in madhouses; from which you may learn, brethren, that the lot
of all mankind is hard; that is, till we lay hold of faith, which makes
us comfortable under all circumstances; whether we ride in gilded
chariots or walk barefooted in quest of bread; whether we be ignorant,
whether we be wise—for riches and poverty, ignorance and wisdom,
brethren, each brings with it its peculiar temptations.  Well, under all
these troubles, the thing which I would recommend you to seek is one and
the same—faith; faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who made us and allotted
to each his station.  Each has something to do, brethren.  Do it,
therefore, but always in faith; without faith we shall find ourselves
sometimes at fault; but with faith never—for faith can remove the
difficulty.  It will teach us to love life, brethren, when life is
becoming bitter, and to prize the blessings around us; for as every man
has his cares, brethren, so has each man his blessings.  It will likewise
teach us not to love life over much, seeing that we must one day part
with it.  It will teach us to face death with resignation, and will
preserve us from sinking amidst the swelling of the river Jordan.’

And when he had concluded his address, he said, ‘Let us sing a hymn, one
composed by Master Charles Wesley—he was my countryman, brethren.

    ‘Jesus, I cast my soul on Thee,
    Mighty and merciful to save;
    Thou shalt to death go down with me,
    And lay me gently in the grave.
    This body then shall rest in hope,
    This body which the worms destroy;
    For Thou shalt surely raise me up
    To glorious life and endless joy.’

Farewell, preacher with the plain coat and the calm serious look!  I saw
thee once again, and that was lately—only the other day.  It was near a
fishing hamlet, by the sea-side, that I saw the preacher again.  He stood
on the top of a steep monticle, used by pilots as a look-out for vessels
approaching that coast, a dangerous one, abounding in rocks and
quicksands.  There he stood on the monticle, preaching to weather-worn
fishermen and mariners gathered below upon the sand.  ‘Who is he?’ said I
to an old fisherman who stood beside me with a book of hymns in his hand;
but the old man put his hand to his lips, and that was the only answer I
received.  Not a sound was heard but the voice of the preacher and the
roaring of the waves; but the voice was heard loud above the roaring of
the sea, for the preacher now spoke with power, and his voice was not
that of one who hesitates.  There he stood—no longer a young man, for his
black locks were become grey, even like my own; but there was the
intelligent face, and the calm serious look which had struck me of yore.
There stood the preacher, one of those men—and, thank God, their number
is not few—who, animated by the spirit of Christ, amidst much poverty,
and, alas! much contempt, persist in carrying the light of the Gospel
amidst the dark parishes of what, but for their instrumentality, would
scarcely be Christian England.  I would have waited till he had
concluded, in order that I might speak to him, and endeavour to bring
back the ancient scene to his recollection, but suddenly a man came
hurrying towards the monticle, mounted on a speedy horse, and holding by
the bridle one yet more speedy, and he whispered to me, ‘Why loiterest
thou here?—knowest thou not all that is to be done before midnight?’ and
he flung me the bridle; and I mounted on the horse of great speed, and I
followed the other, who had already galloped off.  And as I departed, I
waved my hand to him on the monticle, and I shouted, ‘Farewell, brother!
the seed came up at last, after a long period!’ and then I gave the
speedy horse his way, and leaning over the shoulder of the galloping
horse, I said, ‘Would that my life had been like his—even like that
man’s!’

I now wandered along the heath, till I came to a place where, beside a
thick furze, sat a man, his eyes fixed intently on the red ball of the
setting sun.

‘That’s not you, Jasper?’

‘Indeed, brother!’

‘I’ve not seen you for years.’

‘How should you, brother?’

‘What brings you here?’

‘The fight, brother.’

‘Where are the tents?’

‘On the old spot, brother.’

‘Any news since we parted?’

‘Two deaths, brother.’

‘Who are dead, Jasper?’

‘Father and mother, brother.’

‘Where did they die?’

‘Where they were sent, brother.’

‘And Mrs. Herne?’

‘She’s alive, brother.’

‘Where is she now?’

‘In Yorkshire, brother.’

‘What is your opinion of death, Mr. Petulengro?’ said I, as I sat down
beside him.

‘My opinion of death, brother, is much the same as that in the old song
of Pharaoh, which I have heard my grandam sing—

    Cana marel o manus chivios andé puv,
    Ta rovel pa leste o chavo ta romi.

When a man dies, he is cast into the earth, and his wife and child sorrow
over him.  If he has neither wife nor child, then his father and mother,
I suppose; and if he is quite alone in the world, why, then, he is cast
into the earth, and there is an end of the matter.’

‘And do you think that is the end of a man?’

                [Picture: There’s night and day, brother]

‘There’s an end of him, brother, more’s the pity.’

‘Why do you say so?’

‘Life is sweet, brother.’

‘Do you think so?’

‘Think so!—There’s night and day, brother, both sweet things; sun, moon,
and stars, brother, all sweet things; there’s likewise a wind on the
heath.  Life is very sweet, brother; who would wish to die?’

‘I would wish to die—’

‘You talk like a gorgio—which is the same as talking like a fool—were you
a Rommany Chal you would talk wiser.  Wish to die, indeed!—A Rommany Chal
would wish to live for ever!’

‘In sickness, Jasper?’

‘There’s the sun and stars, brother.’

‘In blindness, Jasper?’

‘There’s the wind on the heath, brother; if I could only feel that, I
would gladly live for ever.  Dosta, we’ll now go to the tents and put on
the gloves; and I’ll try to make you feel what a sweet thing it is to be
alive, brother!’



CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX


THE FLOWER OF THE GRASS—DAYS OF PUGILISM—THE RENDEZVOUS—JEWS—BRUISERS OF
ENGLAND—WINTER, SPRING—WELL-EARNED BAYS—THE FIGHT—THE HUGE BLACK CLOUD—A
FRAME OF ADAMANT—THE STORM—DUKKERIPENS—THE BAROUCHE—THE RAIN-GUSHES

How for everything there is a time and a season, and then how does the
glory of a thing pass from it, even like the flower of the grass.  This
is a truism, but it is one of those which are continually forcing
themselves upon the mind.  Many years have not passed over my head, yet,
during those which I can recall to remembrance, how many things have I
seen flourish, pass away, and become forgotten, except by myself, who, in
spite of all my endeavours, never can forget anything.  I have known the
time when a pugilistic encounter between two noted champions was almost
considered in the light of a national affair; when tens of thousands of
individuals, high and low, meditated and brooded upon it, the first thing
in the morning and the last at night, until the great event was decided.
But the time is past, and many people will say, thank God that it is; all
I have to say is, that the French still live on the other side of the
water, and are still casting their eyes hitherward—and that in the days
of pugilism it was no vain boast to say that one Englishman was a match
for two of t’other race; at present it would be a vain boast to say so,
for these are not the days of pugilism.

But those to which the course of my narrative has carried me were the
days of pugilism; it was then at its height, and consequently near its
decline, for corruption had crept into the ring; and how many things,
states and sects among the rest, owe their decline to this cause!  But
what a bold and vigorous aspect pugilism wore at that time! and the great
battle was just then coming off: the day had been decided upon, and the
spot—a convenient distance from the old town; and to the old town were
now flocking the bruisers of England, men of tremendous renown.  Let no
one sneer at the bruisers of England—what were the gladiators of Rome, or
the bull-fighters of Spain, in its palmiest days, compared to England’s
bruisers?  Pity that ever corruption should have crept in amongst
them—but of that I wish not to talk; let us still hope that a spark of
the old religion, of which they were the priests, still lingers in the
breasts of Englishmen.  There they come, the bruisers, from far London,
or from wherever else they might chance to be at the time, to the great
rendezvous in the old city; some came one way, some another; some of
tip-top reputation came with peers in their chariots, for glory and fame
are such fair things that even peers are proud to have those invested
therewith by their sides; others came in their own gigs, driving their
own bits of blood, and I heard one say: ‘I have driven through at a heat
the whole hundred and eleven miles, and only stopped to bait twice.’  Oh,
the blood-horses of old England! but they, too, have had their day—for
everything beneath the sun there is a season and a time.  But the greater
number come just as they can contrive; on the tops of coaches, for
example; and amongst these there are fellows with dark sallow faces and
sharp shining eyes; and it is these that have planted rottenness in the
core of pugilism, for they are Jews, and, true to their kind, have only
base lucre in view.

It was fierce old Cobbett, I think, who first said that the Jews first
introduced bad faith amongst pugilists.  He did not always speak the
truth, but at any rate he spoke it when he made that observation.
Strange people the Jews—endowed with every gift but one, and that the
highest, genius divine—genius which can alone make of men demigods, and
elevate them above earth and what is earthy and grovelling; without which
a clever nation—and who more clever than the Jews?—may have Rambams in
plenty, but never a Fielding nor a Shakespeare.  A Rothschild and a
Mendoza, yes—but never a Kean nor a Belcher.

So the bruisers of England are come to be present at the grand fight
speedily coming off; there they are met in the precincts of the old town,
near the field of the chapel, planted with tender saplings at the
restoration of sporting Charles, which are now become venerable elms, as
high as many a steeple; there they are met at a fitting rendezvous, where
a retired coachman, with one leg, keeps an hotel and a bowling-green.  I
think I now see them upon the bowling-green, the men of renown, amidst
hundreds of people with no renown at all, who gaze upon them with timid
wonder.  Fame, after all, is a glorious thing, though it lasts only for a
day.  There’s Cribb, the champion of England, and perhaps the best man in
England; there he is, with his huge massive figure, and face wonderfully
like that of a lion.  There is Belcher, the younger, not the mighty one,
who is gone to his place, but the Teucer Belcher, the most scientific
pugilist that ever entered a ring, only wanting strength to be, I won’t
say what.  He appears to walk before me now, as he did that evening, with
his white hat, white greatcoat, thin genteel figure, springy step, and
keen, determined eye.  Crosses him, what a contrast! grim, savage
Shelton, who has a civil word for nobody, and a hard blow for
anybody—hard! one blow, given with the proper play of his athletic arm,
will unsense a giant.  Yonder individual, who strolls about with his
hands behind him, supporting his brown coat lappets, under-sized, and who
looks anything but what he is, is the king of the light weights, so
called—Randall! the terrible Randall, who has Irish blood in his veins;
not the better for that, nor the worse; and not far from him is his last
antagonist, Ned Turner, who, though beaten by him, still thinks himself
as good a man, in which he is, perhaps, right, for it was a near thing;
and ‘a better shentleman,’ in which he is quite right, for he is a
Welshman.  But how shall I name them all? they were there by dozens, and
all tremendous in their way.  There was Bulldog Hudson, and fearless
Scroggins, who beat the conqueror of Sam the Jew.  There was Black
Richmond—no, he was not there, but I knew him well; he was the most
dangerous of blacks, even with a broken thigh.  There was Purcell, who
could never conquer till all seemed over with him.  There was—what! shall
I name thee last? ay, why not?  I believe that thou art the last of all
that strong family still above the sod, where mayst thou long
continue—true piece of English stuff, Tom of Bedford—sharp as Winter,
kind as Spring.

Hail to thee, Tom of Bedford, or by whatever name it may please thee to
be called, Spring or Winter.  Hail to thee, six-foot Englishman of the
brown eye, worthy to have carried a six-foot bow at Flodden, where
England’s yeomen triumphed over Scotland’s king, his clans and chivalry.
Hail to thee, last of England’s bruisers, after all the many victories
which thou hast achieved—true English victories, unbought by yellow gold;
need I recount them? nay, nay! they are already well known to
fame—sufficient to say that Bristol’s Bull and Ireland’s Champion were
vanquished by thee, and one mightier still, gold itself, thou didst
overcome; for gold itself strove in vain to deaden the power of thy arm;
and thus thou didst proceed till men left off challenging thee, the
unvanquishable, the incorruptible.  ’Tis a treat to see thee, Tom of
Bedford, in thy ‘public’ in Holborn way, whither thou hast retired with
thy well-earned bays.  ’Tis Friday night, and nine by Holborn clock.
There sits the yeoman at the end of his long room, surrounded by his
friends; glasses are filled, and a song is the cry, and a song is sung
well suited to the place: it finds an echo in every heart—fists are
clenched, arms are waved, and the portraits of the mighty fighting men of
yore, Broughton, and Slack, and Ben, which adorn the walls, appear to
smile grim approbation, whilst many a manly voice joins in the bold
chorus:

    Here’s a health to old honest John Bull,
    When he’s gone we shan’t find such another,
    And with hearts and with glasses brim full,
    We will drink to old England, his mother.

But the fight! with respect to the fight, what shall I say?  Little can
be said about it—it was soon over; some said that the brave from town,
who was reputed the best man of the two, and whose form was a perfect
model of athletic beauty, allowed himself, for lucre vile, to be
vanquished by the massive champion with the flattened nose.  One thing is
certain, that the former was suddenly seen to sink to the earth before a
blow of by no means extraordinary power.  Time, time! was called; but
there he lay upon the ground apparently senseless, and from thence he did
not lift his head till several seconds after the umpires had declared his
adversary victor.

There were shouts; indeed there’s never a lack of shouts to celebrate a
victory, however acquired; but there was also much grinding of teeth,
especially amongst the fighting men from town.  ‘Tom has sold us,’ said
they, ‘sold us to the yokels; who would have thought it?’  Then there was
fresh grinding of teeth, and scowling brows were turned to the heaven;
but what is this? is it possible, does the heaven scowl too? why, only a
quarter of an hour ago . . . but what may not happen in a quarter of an
hour?  For many weeks the weather had been of the most glorious
description, the eventful day, too, had dawned gloriously, and so it had
continued till some two hours after noon; the fight was then over; and
about that time I looked up—what a glorious sky of deep blue, and what a
big fierce sun swimming high above in the midst of that blue; not a
cloud—there had not been one for weeks—not a cloud to be seen, only in
the far west, just on the horizon, something like the extremity of a
black wing; that was only a quarter of an hour ago, and now the whole
northern side of the heaven is occupied by a huge black cloud, and the
sun is only occasionally seen amidst masses of driving vapour; what a
change! but another fight is at hand, and the pugilists are clearing the
outer ring;—how their huge whips come crashing upon the heads of the
yokels; blood flows, more blood than in the fight; those blows are given
with right good-will, those are not sham blows, whether of whip or fist;
it is with fist that grim Shelton strikes down the big yokel; he is
always dangerous, grim Shelton, but now particularly so, for he has lost
ten pounds betted on the brave who sold himself to the yokels; but the
outer ring is cleared: and now the second fight commences; it is between
two champions of less renown than the others, but is perhaps not the
worse on that account.  A tall thin boy is fighting in the ring with a
man somewhat under the middle size, with a frame of adamant; that’s a
gallant boy! he’s a yokel, but he comes from Brummagem, and he does
credit to his extraction; but his adversary has a frame of adamant: in
what a strange light they fight, but who can wonder, on looking at that
frightful cloud usurping now one-half of heaven, and at the sun
struggling with sulphurous vapour; the face of the boy, which is turned
towards me, looks horrible in that light, but he is a brave boy, he
strikes his foe on the forehead, and the report of the blow is like the
sound of a hammer against a rock; but there is a rush and a roar
overhead, a wild commotion, the tempest is beginning to break loose;
there’s wind and dust, a crash, rain and hail; is it possible to fight
amidst such a commotion? yes! the fight goes on; again the boy strikes
the man full on the brow, but it is of no use striking that man, his
frame is of adamant.  ‘Boy, thy strength is beginning to give way, and
thou art becoming confused’; the man now goes to work, amidst rain and
hail.  ‘Boy, thou wilt not hold out ten minutes longer against rain,
hail, and the blows of such an antagonist.’

And now the storm was at its height; the black thundercloud had broken
into many, which assumed the wildest shapes and the strangest colours,
some of them unspeakably glorious; the rain poured in a deluge, and more
than one waterspout was seen at no great distance: an immense rabble is
hurrying in one direction; a multitude of men of all ranks, peers and
yokels, prize-fighters and Jews, and the last came to plunder, and are
now plundering amidst that wild confusion of hail and rain, men and
horses, carts and carriages.  But all hurry in one direction, through mud
and mire; there’s a town only three miles distant, which is soon reached,
and soon filled, it will not contain one-third of that mighty rabble; but
there’s another town farther on—the good old city is farther on, only
twelve miles; what’s that! who will stay here? onward to the old town.

Hurry-skurry, a mixed multitude of men and horses, carts and carriages,
all in the direction of the old town; and, in the midst of all that mad
throng, at a moment when the rain-gushes were coming down with particular
fury, and the artillery of the sky was pealing as I had never heard it
peal before, I felt some one seize me by the arm—I turned round, and
beheld Mr. Petulengro.

‘I can’t hear you, Mr. Petulengro,’ said I; for the thunder drowned the
words which he appeared to be uttering.

‘Dearginni,’ I heard Mr. Petulengro say, ‘it thundreth.  I was asking,
brother, whether you believe in dukkeripens?’

‘I do not, Mr. Petulengro; but this is strange weather to be asking me
whether I believe in fortunes.’

‘Grondinni,’ said Mr. Petulengro, ‘it haileth.  I believe in dukkeripens,
brother.’

‘And who has more right,’ said I; ‘seeing that you live by them?  But
this tempest is truly horrible.’

‘Dearginni, grondinni ta villaminni!  It thundreth, it haileth, and also
flameth,’ said Mr. Petulengro.  ‘Look up there, brother!’

I looked up.  Connected with this tempest there was one feature to which
I have already alluded—the wonderful colours of the clouds.  Some were of
vivid green; others of the brightest orange; others as black as pitch.
The gypsy’s finger was pointed to a particular part of the sky.

‘What do you see there, brother?’

‘A strange kind of cloud.’

‘What does it look like, brother?’

‘Something like a stream of blood.’

‘That cloud foreshoweth a bloody dukkeripen.’

‘A bloody fortune!’ said I.  ‘And whom may it betide?’

‘Who knows!’ said the gypsy.

Down the way, dashing and splashing, and scattering man, horse, and cart
to the left and right, came an open barouche, drawn by four smoking
steeds, with postilions in scarlet jackets and leather skull caps.  Two
forms were conspicuous in it; that of the successful bruiser, and of his
friend and backer, the sporting gentleman of my acquaintance.

‘His!’ said the gypsy, pointing to the latter, whose stern features wore
a smile of triumph, as, probably recognising me in the crowd, he nodded
in the direction of where I stood, as the barouche hurried by.

There went the barouche, dashing through the rain-gushes, and in it one
whose boast it was that he was equal to ‘either fortune.’  Many have
heard of that man—many may be desirous of knowing yet more of him.  I
have nothing to do with that man’s after life—he fulfilled his
dukkeripen.  ‘A bad, violent man!’  Softly, friend; when thou wouldst
speak harshly of the dead, remember that thou hast not yet fulfilled thy
own dukkeripen!



CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN


MY FATHER—PREMATURE DECAY—THE EASY-CHAIR—A FEW QUESTIONS—SO YOU TOLD ME—A
DIFFICULT LANGUAGE—THEY CALL IT HAIK—MISUSED OPPORTUNITIES—SAUL—WANT OF
CANDOUR—DON’T WEEP—HEAVEN FORGIVE ME—DATED FROM PARIS—I WISH HE WERE
HERE—A FATHER’S REMINISCENCES—VANITIES

My father, as I have already informed the reader, had been endowed by
nature with great corporeal strength; indeed, I have been assured that,
at the period of his prime, his figure had denoted the possession of
almost Herculean powers.  The strongest forms, however, do not always
endure the longest, the very excess of the noble and generous juices
which they contain being the cause of their premature decay.  But, be
that as it may, the health of my father, some few years after his
retirement from the service to the quiet of domestic life, underwent a
considerable change; his constitution appeared to be breaking up; and he
was subject to severe attacks from various disorders, with which, till
then, he had been utterly unacquainted.  He was, however, wont to rally,
more or less, after his illnesses, and might still occasionally be seen
taking his walk, with his cane in his hand, and accompanied by his dog,
who sympathised entirely with him, pining as he pined, improving as he
improved, and never leaving the house save in his company; and in this
manner matters went on for a considerable time, no very great
apprehension with respect to my father’s state being raised either in my
mother’s breast, or my own.  But, about six months after the period at
which I have arrived in my last chapter, it came to pass that my father
experienced a severer attack than on any previous occasion.

He had the best medical advice; but it was easy to see, from the looks of
his doctors, that they entertained but slight hopes of his recovery.  His
sufferings were great, yet he invariably bore them with unshaken
fortitude.  There was one thing remarkable connected with his illness;
notwithstanding its severity, it never confined him to his bed.  He was
wont to sit in his little parlour, in his easy-chair, dressed in a faded
regimental coat, his dog at his feet, who would occasionally lift his
head from the hearth-rug on which he lay, and look his master wistfully
in the face.  And thus my father spent the greater part of his time,
sometimes in prayer, sometimes in meditation, and sometimes in reading
the Scriptures.  I frequently sat with him, though, as I entertained a
great awe for my father, I used to feel rather ill at ease, when, as
sometimes happened, I found myself alone with him.

‘I wish to ask you a few questions,’ said he to me one day, after my
mother had left the room.

‘I will answer anything you may please to ask me, my dear father.’

‘What have you been about lately?’

‘I have been occupied as usual, attending at the office at the appointed
hours.’

‘And what do you there?’

‘Whatever I am ordered.’

‘And nothing else?’

‘Oh yes! sometimes I read a book.’

‘Connected with your profession?’

‘Not always; I have been lately reading Armenian—’

‘What’s that?’

‘The language of a people whose country is a region on the other side of
Asia Minor.’

‘Well!’

‘A region abounding with mountains.’

‘Well!’

‘Amongst which is Mount Ararat.’

‘Well!’

‘Upon which, as the Bible informs us, the ark rested.’

‘Well!’

‘It is the language of the people of those regions.’

‘So you told me.’

‘And I have been reading the Bible in their language.’

‘Well!’

‘Or rather, I should say, in the ancient language of these people; from
which I am told the modern Armenian differs considerably.’

‘Well!’

‘As much as the Italian from the Latin.’

‘Well!’

‘So I have been reading the Bible in ancient Armenian.’

‘You told me so before.’

‘I found it a highly difficult language.’

‘Yes.’

‘Differing widely from the languages in general with which I am
acquainted.’

‘Yes.’

‘Exhibiting, however, some features in common with them.’

‘Yes.’

‘And sometimes agreeing remarkably in words with a certain strange wild
speech with which I became acquainted—’

‘Irish?’

‘No, father, not Irish—with which I became acquainted by the greatest
chance in the world.’

‘Yes.’

‘But of which I need say nothing farther at present, and which I should
not have mentioned but for that fact.’

‘Well!’

‘Which I consider remarkable.’

‘Yes.’

‘The Armenian is copious.’

‘Is it?’

‘With an alphabet of thirty-nine letters, but it is harsh and guttural.’

‘Yes.’

‘Like the language of most mountainous people—the Armenians call it
Haik.’

‘Do they?’

‘And themselves, Haik, also; they are a remarkable people, and, though
their original habitation is the Mountain of Ararat, they are to be
found, like the Jews, all over the world.’

‘Well!’

‘Well, father, that’s all I can tell you about the Haiks, or Armenians.’

‘And what does it all amount to?’

‘Very little, father; indeed, there is very little known about the
Armenians; their early history, in particular, is involved in
considerable mystery.’

‘And, if you knew all that it was possible to know about them, to what
would it amount? to what earthly purpose could you turn it? have you
acquired any knowledge of your profession?’

‘Very little, father.’

‘Very little!  Have you acquired all in your power?’

‘I can’t say that I have, father.’

‘And yet it was your duty to have done so.  But I see how it is, you have
shamefully misused your opportunities; you are like one, who, sent into
the field to labour, passes his time in flinging stones at the birds of
heaven.’

‘I would scorn to fling a stone at a bird, father.’

‘You know what I mean, and all too well, and this attempt to evade
deserved reproof by feigned simplicity is quite in character with your
general behaviour.  I have ever observed about you a want of frankness,
which has distressed me; you never speak of what you are about, your
hopes, or your projects, but cover yourself with mystery.  I never knew
till the present moment that you were acquainted with Armenian.’

‘Because you never asked me, father; there’s nothing to conceal in the
matter—I will tell you in a moment how I came to learn Armenian.  A lady
whom I met at one of Mrs. ---’s parties took a fancy to me, and has done
me the honour to allow me to go and see her sometimes.  She is the widow
of a rich clergyman, and on her husband’s death came to this place to
live, bringing her husband’s library with her: I soon found my way to it,
and examined every book.  Her husband must have been a learned man, for
amongst much Greek and Hebrew I found several volumes in Armenian, or
relating to the language.’

‘And why did you not tell me of this before?’

‘Because you never questioned me; but, I repeat, there is nothing to
conceal in the matter.  The lady took a fancy to me, and, being fond of
the arts, drew my portrait; she said the expression of my countenance put
her in mind of Alfieri’s Saul.’

‘And do you still visit her?’

‘No, she soon grew tired of me, and told people that she found me very
stupid; she gave me the Armenian books, however.’

‘Saul,’ said my father musingly, ‘Saul.  I am afraid she was only too
right there; he disobeyed the commands of his master, and brought down on
his head the vengeance of Heaven—he became a maniac, prophesied, and
flung weapons about him.’

‘He was, indeed, an awful character—I hope I shan’t turn out like him.’

‘God forbid!’ said my father solemnly; ‘but in many respects you are
headstrong and disobedient like him.  I placed you in a profession, and
besought you to make yourself master of it by giving it your undivided
attention.  This, however, you did not do, you know nothing of it, but
tell me that you are acquainted with Armenian; but what I dislike most is
your want of candour—you are my son, but I know little of your real
history, you may know fifty things for what I am aware: you may know how
to shoe a horse for what I am aware.’

‘Not only to shoe a horse, father, but to make horse-shoes.’

‘Perhaps so,’ said my father; ‘and it only serves to prove what I was
just saying, that I know little about you.’

‘But you easily may, my dear father; I will tell you anything that you
may wish to know—shall I inform you how I learnt to make horse-shoes?’

‘No,’ said my father; ‘as you kept it a secret so long, it may as well
continue so still.  Had you been a frank, open-hearted boy, like one I
could name, you would have told me all about it of your own accord.  But
I now wish to ask you a serious question—what do you propose to do?’

‘To do, father?’

‘Yes! the time for which you were articled to your profession will soon
be expired, and I shall be no more.’

‘Do not talk so, my dear father; I have no doubt that you will soon be
better.’

‘Do not flatter yourself; I feel that my days are numbered, I am soon
going to my rest, and I have need of rest, for I am weary.  There, there,
don’t weep!  Tears will help me as little as they will you; you have not
yet answered my question.  Tell me what you intend to do?’

‘I really do not know what I shall do.’

‘The military pension which I enjoy will cease with my life.  The
property which I shall leave behind me will be barely sufficient for the
maintenance of your mother respectably.  I again ask you what you intend
to do.  Do you think you can support yourself by your Armenian or your
other acquirements?’

‘Alas!  I think little at all about it; but I suppose I must push into
the world, and make a good fight, as becomes the son of him who fought
Big Ben; if I can’t succeed, and am driven to the worst, it is but
dying—’

‘What do you mean by dying?’

‘Leaving the world; my loss would scarcely be felt.  I have never held
life in much value, and every one has a right to dispose as he thinks
best of that which is his own.’

‘Ah! now I understand you; and well I know how and where you imbibed that
horrible doctrine, and many similar ones which I have heard from your
mouth; but I wish not to reproach you—I view in your conduct a punishment
for my own sins, and I bow to the will of God.  Few and evil have been my
days upon the earth; little have I done to which I can look back with
satisfaction.  It is true I have served my king fifty years, and I have
fought with—Heaven forgive me, what was I about to say!—but you mentioned
the man’s name, and our minds willingly recall our ancient follies.  Few
and evil have been my days upon earth, I may say with Jacob of old,
though I do not mean to say that my case is so hard as his; he had many
undutiful children, whilst I have only—; but I will not reproach you.  I
have also like him a son to whom I can look with hope, who may yet
preserve my name when I am gone, so let me be thankful; perhaps, after
all, I have not lived in vain.  Boy, when I am gone, look up to your
brother, and may God bless you both!  There, don’t weep; but take the
Bible, and read me something about the old man and his children.’

My brother had now been absent for the space of three years.  At first
his letters had been frequent, and from them it appeared that he was
following his profession in London with industry; they then became rather
rare, and my father did not always communicate their contents.  His last
letter, however, had filled him and our whole little family with joy; it
was dated from Paris, and the writer was evidently in high spirits.
After describing in eloquent terms the beauties and gaieties of the
French capital, he informed us how he had plenty of money, having copied
a celebrated picture of one of the Italian masters for a Hungarian
nobleman, for which he had received a large sum.  ‘He wishes me to go
with him to Italy,’ added he, ‘but I am fond of independence; and, if
ever I visit old Rome, I will have no patrons near me to distract my
attention.’  But six months had now elapsed from the date of this letter,
and we had heard no further intelligence of my brother.  My father’s
complaint increased; the gout, his principal enemy, occasionally mounted
high up in his system, and we had considerable difficulty in keeping it
from the stomach, where it generally proves fatal.  I now devoted almost
the whole of my time to my father, on whom his faithful partner also
lavished every attention and care.  I read the Bible to him, which was
his chief delight; and also occasionally such other books as I thought
might prove entertaining to him.  His spirits were generally rather
depressed.  The absence of my brother appeared to prey upon his mind.  ‘I
wish he were here,’ he would frequently exclaim; ‘I can’t imagine what
can have become of him; I trust, however, he will arrive in time.’  He
still sometimes rallied, and I took advantage of those moments of
comparative ease to question him upon the events of his early life.  My
attentions to him had not passed unnoticed, and he was kind, fatherly,
and unreserved.  I had never known my father so entertaining as at these
moments, when his life was but too evidently drawing to a close.  I had
no idea that he knew and had seen so much; my respect for him increased,
and I looked upon him almost with admiration.  His anecdotes were in
general highly curious; some of them related to people in the highest
stations, and to men whose names were closely connected with some of the
brightest glories of our native land.  He had frequently conversed—almost
on terms of familiarity—with good old George.  He had known the conqueror
of Tippoo Saib; and was the friend of Townshend, who, when Wolfe fell,
led the British grenadiers against the shrinking regiments of Montcalm.
‘Pity,’ he added, ‘that when old—old as I am now—he should have driven
his own son mad by robbing him of his plighted bride; but so it was; he
married his son’s bride.  I saw him lead her to the altar; if ever there
was an angelic countenance, it was that girl’s; she was almost too fair
to be one of the daughters of women.  Is there anything, boy, that you
would wish to ask me? now is the time.’

‘Yes, father; there is one about whom I would fain question you.’

‘Who is it? shall I tell you about Elliot?’

‘No, father, not about Elliot; but pray don’t be angry; I should like to
know something about Big Ben.’

‘You are a strange lad,’ said my father; ‘and, though of late I have
begun to entertain a more favourable opinion than heretofore, there is
still much about you that I do not understand.  Why do you bring up that
name?  Don’t you know that it is one of my temptations: you wish to know
something about him.  Well!  I will oblige you this once, and then
farewell to such vanities—something about him.  I will tell you—his—skin
when he flung off his clothes—and he had a particular knack in doing
so—his skin, when he bared his mighty chest and back for combat; and when
he fought he stood, so . . . if I remember right—his skin, I say, was
brown and dusky as that of a toad.  Oh me!  I wish my elder son was
here.’



CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT


MY BROTHER’S ARRIVAL—A DYING FATHER—CHRIST

At last my brother arrived; he looked pale and unwell; I met him at the
door.  ‘You have been long absent,’ said I.

‘Yes,’ said he, ‘perhaps too long; but how is my father?’

‘Very poorly,’ said I, ‘he has had a fresh attack; but where have you
been of late?’

‘Far and wide,’ said my brother; ‘but I can’t tell you anything now, I
must go to my father.  It was only by chance that I heard of his
illness.’

‘Stay a moment,’ said I.  ‘Is the world such a fine place as you supposed
it to be before you went away?’

‘Not quite,’ said my brother, ‘not quite; indeed I wish—but ask me no
questions now, I must hasten to my father.’

There was another question on my tongue, but I forebore; for the eyes of
the young man were full of tears.  I pointed with my finger, and the
young man hastened past me to the arms of his father.

I forebore to ask my brother whether he had been to old Rome.

What passed between my father and brother I do not know; the interview,
no doubt, was tender enough, for they tenderly loved each other; but my
brother’s arrival did not produce the beneficial effect upon my father
which I at first hoped it would; it did not even appear to have raised
his spirits.  He was composed enough, however: ‘I ought to be grateful,’
said he; ‘I wished to see my son, and God has granted me my wish; what
more have I to do now than to bless my little family and go?’

My father’s end was evidently at hand.

And did I shed no tears? did I breathe no sighs? did I never wring my
hands at this period? the reader will perhaps be asking.  Whatever I did
and thought is best known to God and myself; but it will be as well to
observe, that it is possible to feel deeply, and yet make no outward
sign.

And now for the closing scene.

At the dead hour of night, it might be about two, I was awakened from
sleep by a cry which sounded from the room immediately below that in
which I slept.  I knew the cry, it was the cry of my mother; and I also
knew its import, yet I made no effort to rise, for I was for the moment
paralysed.  Again the cry sounded, yet still I lay motionless—the
stupidity of horror was upon me.  A third time, and it was then that, by
a violent effort, bursting the spell which appeared to bind me, I sprang
from the bed and rushed downstairs.  My mother was running wildly about
the room; she had awoke, and found my father senseless in the bed by her
side.  I essayed to raise him, and after a few efforts supported him in
the bed in a sitting posture.  My brother now rushed in, and, snatching
up a light that was burning, he held it to my father’s face.  ‘The
surgeon, the surgeon!’ he cried; then, dropping the light, he ran out of
the room followed by my mother; I remained alone, supporting the
senseless form of my father; the light had been extinguished by the fall,
and an almost total darkness reigned in the room.  The form pressed
heavily against my bosom—at last methought it moved.  Yes, I was right,
there was a heaving of the breast, and then a gasping.  Were those words
which I heard?  Yes, they were words, low and indistinct at first, and
then audible.  The mind of the dying man was reverting to former scenes.
I heard him mention names which I had often heard him mention before.  It
was an awful moment; I felt stupefied, but I still contrived to support
my dying father.

There was a pause, again my father spoke: I heard him speak of Minden,
and of Meredith, the old Minden sergeant, and then he uttered another
name, which at one period of his life was much in his lips, the name of
. . . but this is a solemn moment!  There was a deep gasp: I shook, and
thought all was over; but I was mistaken—my father moved, and revived for
a moment; he supported himself in bed without my assistance.  I make no
doubt that for a moment he was perfectly sensible, and it was then that,
clasping his hands, he uttered another name clearly, distinctly—it was
the name of Christ.  With that name upon his lips, the brave old soldier
sank back upon my bosom, and, with his hands still clasped, yielded up
his soul.



CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE


THE GREETING—QUEER FIGURE—CHEER UP—THE CHEERFUL FIRE—THE TREPIDATION—LET
HIM COME IN

‘One-and-ninepence, sir, or the things which you have brought with you
will be taken away from you!’

Such were the first words which greeted my ears, one damp misty morning
in March, as I dismounted from the top of a coach in the yard of a London
inn.

I turned round, for I felt that the words were addressed to myself.
Plenty of people were in the yard—porters, passengers, coachmen,
hostlers, and others, who appeared to be intent on anything but myself,
with the exception of one individual, whose business appeared to lie with
me, and who now confronted me at the distance of about two yards.

I looked hard at the man—and a queer kind of individual he was to look
at—a rakish figure, about thirty, and of the middle size, dressed in a
coat smartly cut, but threadbare, very tight pantaloons of blue stuff,
tied at the ankles, dirty white stockings and thin shoes, like those of a
dancing-master; his features were not ugly, but rather haggard, and he
appeared to owe his complexion less to nature than carmine; in fact, in
every respect, a very queer figure.

‘One-and-ninepence, sir, or your things will be taken away from you!’ he
said, in a kind of lisping tone, coming yet nearer to me.

I still remained staring fixedly at him, but never a word answered.  Our
eyes met; whereupon he suddenly lost the easy impudent air which he
before wore.  He glanced, for a moment, at my fist, which I had by this
time clenched, and his features became yet more haggard; he faltered; a
fresh ‘one-and-ninepence,’ which he was about to utter, died on his lips;
he shrank back, disappeared behind a coach, and I saw no more of him.

‘One-and-ninepence, or my things will be taken away from me!’ said I to
myself, musingly, as I followed the porter to whom I had delivered my
scanty baggage; ‘am I to expect many of these greetings in the big world?
Well, never mind!  I think I know the counter-sign!’  And I clenched my
fist yet harder than before.

So I followed the porter, through the streets of London, to a lodging
which had been prepared for me by an acquaintance.  The morning, as I
have before said, was gloomy, and the streets through which I passed were
dank and filthy; the people, also, looked dank and filthy; and so,
probably, did I, for the night had been rainy, and I had come upwards of
a hundred miles on the top of a coach; my heart had sank within me, by
the time we reached a dark narrow street, in which was the lodging.

‘Cheer up, young man,’ said the porter, ‘we shall have a fine afternoon!’

And presently I found myself in the lodging which had been prepared for
me.  It consisted of a small room, up two pair of stairs, in which I was
to sit, and another still smaller above it, in which I was to sleep.  I
remember that I sat down, and looked disconsolate about me—everything
seemed so cold and dingy.  Yet how little is required to make a
situation—however cheerless at first sight—cheerful and comfortable.  The
people of the house, who looked kindly upon me, lighted a fire in the
dingy grate; and, then, what a change!—the dingy room seemed dingy no
more!  Oh the luxury of a cheerful fire after a chill night’s journey!  I
drew near to the blazing grate, rubbed my hands, and felt glad.

And, when I had warmed myself, I turned to the table, on which, by this
time, the people of the house had placed my breakfast; and I ate, and I
drank; and, as I ate and drank, I mused within myself, and my eyes were
frequently directed to a small green box, which constituted part of my
luggage, and which, with the rest of my things, stood in one corner of
the room, till at last, leaving my breakfast unfinished, I rose, and,
going to the box, unlocked it, and took out two or three bundles of
papers tied with red tape, and, placing them on the table, I resumed my
seat and my breakfast, my eyes intently fixed upon the bundles of papers
all the time.

And when I had drained the last cup of tea out of a dingy teapot, and ate
the last slice of the dingy loaf, I untied one of the bundles, and
proceeded to look over the papers, which were closely written over in a
singular hand, and I read for some time, till at last I said to myself,
‘It will do.’  And then I looked at the other bundle for some time
without untying it; and at last I said, ‘It will do also.’  And then I
turned to the fire, and, putting my feet against the sides of the grate,
I leaned back on my chair, and, with my eyes upon the fire, fell into
deep thought.

And there I continued in thought before the fire, until my eyes closed,
and I fell asleep; which was not to be wondered at, after the fatigue and
cold which I had lately undergone on the coach-top; and, in my sleep, I
imagined myself still there, amidst darkness and rain, hurrying now over
wild heaths, and now along roads overhung with thick and umbrageous
trees, and sometimes methought I heard the horn of the guard, and
sometimes the voice of the coachman, now chiding, now encouraging his
horses, as they toiled through the deep and miry ways.  At length a
tremendous crack of a whip saluted the tympanum of my ear, and I started
up broad awake, nearly oversetting the chair on which I reclined—and lo!
I was in the dingy room before the fire, which was by this time half
extinguished.  In my dream I had confounded the noise of the street with
those of my night journey; the crack which had aroused me I soon found
proceeded from the whip of a carter, who, with many oaths, was flogging
his team below the window.

Looking at a clock which stood upon the mantelpiece, I perceived that it
was past eleven; whereupon I said to myself, ‘I am wasting my time
foolishly and unprofitably, forgetting that I am now in the big world,
without anything to depend upon save my own exertions’; and then I
adjusted my dress, and, locking up the bundle of papers which I had not
read, I tied up the other, and, taking it under my arm, I went
downstairs; and, after asking a question or two of the people of the
house, I sallied forth into the street with a determined look, though at
heart I felt somewhat timorous at the idea of venturing out alone into
the mazes of the mighty city, of which I had heard much, but of which, of
my own knowledge, I knew nothing.

I had, however, no great cause for anxiety in the present instance; I
easily found my way to the place which I was in quest of—one of the many
new squares on the northern side of the metropolis, and which was
scarcely ten minutes’ walk from the street in which I had taken up my
abode.  Arriving before the door of a tolerably large house which bore a
certain number, I stood still for a moment in a kind of trepidation,
looking anxiously at the door; I then slowly passed on till I came to the
end of the square, where I stood still, and pondered for a while.
Suddenly, however, like one who has formed a resolution, I clenched my
right hand, flinging my hat somewhat on one side, and, turning back with
haste to the door before which I had stopped, I sprang up the steps, and
gave a loud rap, ringing at the same time the bell of the area.  After
the lapse of a minute the door was opened by a maid-servant of no very
cleanly or prepossessing appearance, of whom I demanded, in a tone of
some hauteur, whether the master of the house was at home.  Glancing for
a moment at the white paper bundle beneath my arm, the handmaid made no
reply in words, but, with a kind of toss of her head, flung the door
open, standing on one side as if to let me enter.  I did enter; and the
handmaid, having opened another door on the right hand, went in, and said
something which I could not hear: after a considerable pause, however, I
heard the voice of a man say, ‘Let him come in’; whereupon the handmaid,
coming out, motioned me to enter, and, on my obeying, instantly closed
the door behind me.



CHAPTER THIRTY


THE SINISTER GLANCE—EXCELLENT CORRESPONDENT—QUITE ORIGINAL—MY SYSTEM—A
LOSING TRADE—MERIT—STARTING A REVIEW—WHAT HAVE YOU GOT?—_DIARYMAN’S
DAUGHTER_—OXFORD PRINCIPLES—HOW IS THIS?

There were two individuals in the room in which I now found myself; it
was a small study, surrounded with bookcases, the window looking out upon
the square.  Of these individuals he who appeared to be the principal
stood with his back to the fireplace.  He was a tall stout man, about
sixty, dressed in a loose morning gown.  The expression of his
countenance would have been bluff but for a certain sinister glance, and
his complexion might have been called rubicund but for a considerable
tinge of bilious yellow.  He eyed me askance as I entered.  The other, a
pale, shrivelled-looking person, sat at a table apparently engaged with
an account-book; he took no manner of notice of me, never once lifting
his eyes from the page before him.

‘Well, sir, what is your pleasure?’ said the big man, in a rough tone, as
I stood there, looking at him wistfully—as well I might—for upon that
man, at the time of which I am speaking, my principal, I may say my only,
hopes rested.

‘Sir,’ said I, ‘my name is so-and-so, and I am the bearer of a letter to
you from Mr. so-and-so, an old friend and correspondent of yours.’

The countenance of the big man instantly lost the suspicious and lowering
expression which it had hitherto exhibited; he strode forward, and,
seizing me by the hand, gave me a violent squeeze.

‘My dear sir,’ said he, ‘I am rejoiced to see you in London.  I have been
long anxious for the pleasure—we are old friends, though we have never
before met.  Taggart,’ said he to the man who sat at the desk, ‘this is
our excellent correspondent, the friend and pupil of our other excellent
correspondent.’

The pale, shrivelled-looking man slowly and deliberately raised his head
from the account-book, and surveyed me for a moment or two; not the
slightest emotion was observable in his countenance.  It appeared to me,
however, that I could detect a droll twinkle in his eye: his curiosity,
if he had any, was soon gratified; he made me a kind of bow, pulled out a
snuff-box, took a pinch of snuff, and again bent his head over the page.

‘And now, my dear sir,’ said the big man, ‘pray sit down, and tell me the
cause of your visit.  I hope you intend to remain here a day or two.’

‘More than that,’ said I, ‘I am come to take up my abode in London.’

‘Glad to hear it; and what have you been about of late? got anything
which will suit me?  Sir, I admire your style of writing, and your manner
of thinking; and I am much obliged to my good friend and correspondent
for sending me some of your productions.  I inserted them all, and wished
there had been more of them—quite original, sir, quite: took with the
public, especially the essay about the non-existence of anything.  I
don’t exactly agree with you though; I have my own peculiar ideas about
matter—as you know, of course, from the book I have published.
Nevertheless, a very pretty piece of speculative philosophy—no such thing
as matter—impossible that there should be—_ex nihilo_—what is the Greek?
I have forgot—very pretty indeed; very original.’

‘I am afraid, sir, it was very wrong to write such trash, and yet more to
allow it to be published.’

‘Trash! not at all; a very pretty piece of speculative philosophy; of
course you were wrong in saying there is no world.  The world must exist,
to have the shape of a pear; and that the world is shaped like a pear,
and not like an apple, as the fools of Oxford say, I have satisfactorily
proved in my book.  Now, if there were no world, what would become of my
system?  But what do you propose to do in London?’

‘Here is the letter, sir,’ said I, ‘of our good friend, which I have not
yet given to you; I believe it will explain to you the circumstances
under which I come.’

He took the letter, and perused it with attention.  ‘Hem!’ said he, with
a somewhat altered manner, ‘my friend tells me that you are come up to
London with the view of turning your literary talents to account, and
desires me to assist you in my capacity of publisher in bringing forth
two or three works which you have prepared.  My good friend is perhaps
not aware that for some time past I have given up publishing—was obliged
to do so—had many severe losses—do nothing at present in that line, save
sending out the Magazine once a month; and, between ourselves, am
thinking of disposing of that—wish to retire—high time at my age—so you
see—’

‘I am very sorry, sir, to hear that you cannot assist me’ (and I remember
that I felt very nervous); ‘I had hoped—’

‘A losing trade, I assure you, sir; literature is a drug.  Taggart, what
o’clock is it?’

‘Well, sir!’ said I, rising, ‘as you cannot assist me, I will now take my
leave; I thank you sincerely for your kind reception, and will trouble
you no longer.’

‘Oh, don’t go.  I wish to have some further conversation with you; and
perhaps I may hit upon some plan to benefit you.  I honour merit, and
always make a point to encourage it when I can; but—  Taggart, go to the
bank, and tell them to dishonour the bill twelve months after date for
thirty pounds which becomes due to-morrow.  I am dissatisfied with that
fellow who wrote the fairy tales, and intend to give him all the trouble
in my power.  Make haste.’

Taggart did not appear to be in any particular haste.  First of all, he
took a pinch of snuff, then, rising from his chair, slowly and
deliberately drew his wig, for he wore a wig of a brown colour, rather
more over his forehead than it had previously been, buttoned his coat,
and, taking his hat, and an umbrella which stood in a corner, made me a
low bow, and quitted the room.

‘Well, sir, where were we?  Oh, I remember, we were talking about merit.
Sir, I always wish to encourage merit, especially when it comes so highly
recommended as in the present instance.  Sir, my good friend and
correspondent speaks of you in the highest terms.  Sir, I honour my good
friend, and have the highest respect for his opinion in all matters
connected with literature—rather eccentric though.  Sir, my good friend
has done my periodical more good and more harm than all the rest of my
correspondents.  Sir, I shall never forget the sensation caused by the
appearance of his article about a certain personage whom he proved—and I
think satisfactorily—to have been a legionary soldier—rather startling,
was it not?  The S--- of the world a common soldier, in a marching
regiment—original, but startling; sir, I honour my good friend.’

‘So you have renounced publishing, sir,’ said I, ‘with the exception of
the Magazine?’

‘Why, yes; except now and then, under the rose; the old coachman, you
know, likes to hear the whip.  Indeed, at the present moment, I am
thinking of starting a Review on an entirely new and original principle;
and it just struck me that you might be of high utility in the
undertaking—what do you think of the matter?’

‘I should be happy, sir, to render you any assistance, but I am afraid
the employment you propose requires other qualifications than I possess;
however, I can make the essay.  My chief intention in coming to London
was to lay before the world what I had prepared; and I had hoped by your
assistance—’

‘Ah!  I see, ambition!  Ambition is a very pretty thing; but, sir, we
must walk before we run, according to the old saying—what is that you
have got under your arm?’

‘One of the works to which I was alluding; the one, indeed, which I am
most anxious to lay before the world, as I hope to derive from it both
profit and reputation.’

‘Indeed! what do you call it?’

‘Ancient songs of Denmark, heroic and romantic, translated by myself;
with notes philological, critical, and historical.’

‘Then, sir, I assure you that your time and labour have been entirely
flung away; nobody would read your ballads, if you were to give them to
the world to-morrow.’

‘I am sure, sir, that you would say otherwise if you would permit me to
read one to you’; and, without waiting for the answer of the big man, nor
indeed so much as looking at him, to see whether he was inclined or not
to hear me, I undid my manuscript, and, with a voice trembling with
eagerness, I read to the following effect:

    Buckshank bold and Elfinstone,
    And more than I can mention here,
    They caused to be built so stout a ship,
    And unto Iceland they would steer.

    They launched the ship upon the main,
    Which bellowed like a wrathful bear,
    Down to the bottom the vessel sank,
    A laidly Trold has dragged it there.

    Down to the bottom sank young Roland,
    And round about he groped awhile;
    Until he found the path which led
    Unto the bower of Ellenlyle.

‘Stop!’ said the publisher; ‘very pretty indeed, and very original; beats
Scott hollow, and Percy too: but, sir, the day for these things is gone
by; nobody at present cares for Percy, nor for Scott either, save as a
novelist; sorry to discourage merit, sir, but what can I do!  What else
have you got?’

‘The songs of Ab Gwilym, the Welsh bard, also translated by myself, with
notes critical, philological, and historical.’

‘Pass on—what else?’

‘Nothing else,’ said I, folding up my manuscript with a sigh, ‘unless it
be a romance in the German style; on which, I confess, I set very little
value.’

‘Wild?’

‘Yes, sir, very wild.’

‘Like the Miller of the Black Valley?’

‘Yes, sir, very much like the Miller of the Black Valley.’

‘Well, that’s better,’ said the publisher; ‘and yet, I don’t know, I
question whether anyone at present cares for the miller himself.  No,
sir, the time for those things is also gone by; German, at present, is a
drug; and, between ourselves, nobody has contributed to make it so more
than my good friend and correspondent;—but, sir, I see you are a young
gentleman of infinite merit, and I always wish to encourage merit.  Don’t
you think you could write a series of evangelical tales?’

‘Evangelical tales, sir?’

‘Yes, sir, evangelical novels.’

‘Something in the style of Herder?’

‘Herder is a drug, sir; nobody cares for Herder—thanks to my good friend.
Sir, I have in yon drawer a hundred pages about Herder, which I dare not
insert in my periodical; it would sink it, sir.  No, sir, something in
the style of the _Dairyman’s Daughter_.’

‘I never heard of the work till the present moment.’

‘Then, sir, procure it by all means.  Sir, I could afford as much as ten
pounds for a well-written tale in the style of the _Dairyman’s Daughter_;
that is the kind of literature, sir, that sells at the present day!  It
is not the Miller of the Black Valley—no, sir, nor Herder either, that
will suit the present taste; the evangelical body is becoming very
strong, sir; the canting scoundrels—’

‘But, sir, surely you would not pander to a scoundrelly taste?’

‘Then, sir, I must give up business altogether.  Sir, I have a great
respect for the goddess Reason—an infinite respect, sir; indeed, in my
time, I have made a great many sacrifices for her; but, sir, I cannot
altogether ruin myself for the goddess Reason.  Sir, I am a friend to
Liberty, as is well known; but I must also be a friend to my own family.
It is with the view of providing for a son of mine that I am about to
start the Review of which I was speaking.  He has taken into his head to
marry, sir, and I must do something for him, for he can do but little for
himself.  Well, sir, I am a friend to Liberty, as I said before, and
likewise a friend to Reason; but I tell you frankly that the Review which
I intend to get up under the rose, and present him with when it is
established, will be conducted on Oxford principles.’

‘Orthodox principles, I suppose you mean, sir?’

‘I do, sir; I am no linguist, but I believe the words are synonymous.’

Much more conversation passed between us, and it was agreed that I should
become a contributor to the Oxford Review.  I stipulated, however, that,
as I knew little of politics, and cared less, no other articles should be
required from me than such as were connected with belles-lettres and
philology; to this the big man readily assented.  ‘Nothing will be
required from you,’ said he, ‘but what you mention; and now and then,
perhaps, a paper on metaphysics.  You understand German, and perhaps it
would be desirable that you should review Kant; and in a review of Kant,
sir, you could introduce to advantage your peculiar notions about _ex
nihilo_.’  He then reverted to the subject of the _Dairyman’s Daughter_,
which I promised to take into consideration.  As I was going away, he
invited me to dine with him on the ensuing Sunday.

‘That’s a strange man!’ said I to myself, after I had left the house; ‘he
is evidently very clever; but I cannot say that I like him much, with his
Oxford Reviews and Dairyman’s Daughters.  But what can I do?  I am almost
without a friend in the world.  I wish I could find some one who would
publish my ballads, or my songs of Ab Gwilym.  In spite of what the big
man says, I am convinced that, once published, they would bring me much
fame and profit.  But how is this?—what a beautiful sun!—the porter was
right in saying that the day would clear up—I will now go to my dingy
lodging, lock up my manuscripts, and then take a stroll about the big
city.’



CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE


THE WALK—LONDON’S CHEAPE—STREET OF THE LOMBARDS—STRANGE BRIDGE—MAIN
ARCH—THE ROARING GULF—THE BOAT—CLY-FAKING—A COMFORT—NO TRAP

So I set out on my walk to see the wonders of the big city, and, as
chance would have it, I directed my course to the east.  The day, as I
have already said, had become very fine, so that I saw the great city to
advantage, and the wonders thereof: and much I admired all I saw; and,
amongst other things, the huge cathedral, standing so proudly on the most
commanding ground in the big city; and I looked up to the mighty dome,
surmounted by a golden cross, and I said within myself, ‘That dome must
needs be the finest in the world’; and I gazed upon it till my eyes
reeled, and my brain became dizzy, and I thought that the dome would fall
and crush me; and I shrank within myself, and struck yet deeper into the
heart of the big city.

‘Oh Cheapside!  Cheapside!’ said I, as I advanced up that mighty
thoroughfare, ‘truly thou art a wonderful place for hurry, noise, and
riches!  Men talk of the bazaars of the East—I have never seen them—but I
daresay that, compared with thee, they are poor places, silent places,
abounding with empty boxes, O thou pride of London’s east!—mighty mart of
old renown!—for thou art not a place of yesterday:—long before the Roses
red and white battled in fair England, thou didst exist—a place of throng
and bustle—a place of gold and silver, perfumes and fine linen.
Centuries ago thou couldst extort the praises even of the fiercest foes
of England.  Fierce bards of Wales, sworn foes of England, sang thy
praises centuries ago; and even the fiercest of them all, Red Julius
himself, wild Glendower’s bard, had a word of praise for London’s
‘Cheape,’ for so the bards of Wales styled thee in their flowing odes.
Then, if those who were not English, and hated England, and all connected
therewith, had yet much to say in thy praise, when thou wast far inferior
to what thou art now, why should true-born Englishmen, or those who call
themselves so, turn up their noses at thee, and scoff thee at the present
day, as I believe they do?  But, let others do as they will, I, at least,
who am not only an Englishman, but an East Englishman, will not turn up
my nose at thee, but will praise and extol thee, calling thee mart of the
world—a place of wonder and astonishment!—and, were it right and fitting
to wish that anything should endure for ever, I would say prosperity to
Cheapside, throughout all ages—may it be the world’s resort for
merchandise, world without end.’

And when I had passed through the Cheape I entered another street, which
led up a kind of ascent, and which proved to be the street of the
Lombards, called so from the name of its first founders; and I walked
rapidly up the street of the Lombards, neither looking to the right nor
left, for it had no interest for me, though I had a kind of consciousness
that mighty things were being transacted behind its walls: but it wanted
the throng, bustle, and outward magnificence of the Cheape, and it had
never been spoken of by ‘ruddy bards’!  And, when I had got to the end of
the street of the Lombards, I stood still for some time, deliberating
within myself whether I should turn to the right or the left, or go
straight forward, and at last I turned to the right, down a street of
rapid descent, and presently found myself upon a bridge which traversed
the river which runs by the big city.

A strange kind of bridge it was; huge and massive, and seemingly of great
antiquity.  It had an arched back, like that of a hog, a high balustrade,
and at either side, at intervals, were stone bowers bulking over the
river, but open on the other side, and furnished with a semicircular
bench.  Though the bridge was wide—very wide—it was all too narrow for
the concourse upon it.  Thousands of human beings were pouring over the
bridge.  But what chiefly struck my attention was a double row of carts
and wagons, the generality drawn by horses as large as elephants, each
row striving hard in a different direction, and not unfrequently brought
to a standstill.  Oh the cracking of whips, the shouts and oaths of the
carters, and the grating of wheels upon the enormous stones that formed
the pavement!  In fact, there was a wild hurly-burly upon the bridge,
which nearly deafened me.  But, if upon the bridge there was a confusion,
below it there was a confusion ten times confounded.  The tide, which was
fast ebbing, obstructed by the immense piers of the old bridge, poured
beneath the arches with a fall of several feet, forming in the river
below as many whirlpools as there were arches.  Truly tremendous was the
roar of the descending waters, and the bellow of the tremendous gulfs,
which swallowed them for a time, and then cast them forth, foaming and
frothing from their horrid wombs.  Slowly advancing along the bridge, I
came to the highest point, and there I stood still, close beside one of
the stone bowers, in which, beside a fruit-stall, sat an old woman, with
a pan of charcoal at her feet, and a book in her hand, in which she
appeared to be reading intently.  There I stood, just above the principal
arch, looking through the balustrade at the scene that presented
itself—and such a scene!  Towards the left bank of the river, a forest of
masts, thick and close, as far as the eye could reach; spacious wharfs,
surmounted with gigantic edifices; and, far away, Cæsar’s Castle, with
its White Tower.  To the right, another forest of masts, and a maze of
buildings, from which, here and there, shot up to the sky chimneys taller
than Cleopatra’s Needle, vomiting forth huge wreaths of that black smoke
which forms the canopy—occasionally a gorgeous one—of the more than Babel
city.  Stretching before me, the troubled breast of the mighty river,
and, immediately below, the main whirlpool of the Thames—the Maëlstrom of
the bulwarks of the middle arch—a grisly pool, which, with its
superabundance of horror, fascinated me.  Who knows but I should have
leapt into its depths?—I have heard of such things—but for a rather
startling occurrence which broke the spell.  As I stood upon the bridge,
gazing into the jaws of the pool, a small boat shot suddenly through the
arch beneath my feet.  There were three persons in it; an oarsman in the
middle, whilst a man and woman sat at the stern.  I shall never forget
the thrill of horror which went through me at this sudden apparition.
What!—a boat—a small boat—passing beneath that arch into yonder roaring
gulf!  Yes, yes, down through that awful water-way, with more than the
swiftness of an arrow, shot the boat, or skiff, right into the jaws of
the pool.  A monstrous breaker curls over the prow—there is no hope; the
boat is swamped, and all drowned in that strangling vortex.  No! the
boat, which appeared to have the buoyancy of a feather, skipped over the
threatening horror, and, the next moment, was out of danger, the
boatman—a true boatman of Cockaigne that—elevating one of his sculls in
sign of triumph, the man hallooing, and the woman, a true Englishwoman
that—of a certain class—waving her shawl.  Whether any one observed them
save myself, or whether the feat was a common one, I know not; but nobody
appeared to take any notice of them.  As for myself, I was so excited
that I strove to clamber up the balustrade of the bridge, in order to
obtain a better view of the daring adventurers.  Before I could
accomplish my design, however, I felt myself seized by the body, and,
turning my head, perceived the old fruit-woman, who was clinging to me.

‘Nay, dear! don’t—don’t!’ said she.  ‘Don’t fling yourself over—perhaps
you may have better luck next time!’

‘I was not going to fling myself over,’ said I, dropping from the
balustrade; ‘how came you to think of such a thing?’

‘Why, seeing you clamber up so fiercely, I thought you might have had ill
luck, and that you wished to make away with yourself.’

‘Ill luck,’ said I, going into the stone bower, and sitting down.  ‘What
do you mean? ill luck in what?’

‘Why, no great harm, dear! cly-faking perhaps.’

‘Are you coming over me with dialects,’ said I, ‘speaking unto me in
fashions I wot nothing of?’

‘Nay, dear! don’t look so strange with those eyes of your’n, nor talk so
strangely; I don’t understand you.’

‘Nor I you; what do you mean by cly-faking?’

‘Lor, dear! no harm; only taking a handkerchief now and then.’

‘Do you take me for a thief?’

‘Nay, dear! don’t make use of bad language; we never calls them thieves
here, but prigs and fakers: to tell you the truth, dear, seeing you
spring at that railing put me in mind of my own dear son, who is now at
Bot’ny: when he had bad luck, he always used to talk of flinging himself
over the bridge; and, sure enough, when the traps were after him, he did
fling himself into the river, but that was off the bank; nevertheless,
the traps pulled him out, and he is now suffering his sentence; so you
see you may speak out, if you have done anything in the harmless line,
for I am my son’s own mother, I assure you.’

‘So you think there’s no harm in stealing?’

‘No harm in the world, dear!  Do you think my own child would have been
transported for it, if there had been any harm in it? and, what’s more,
would the blessed woman in the book here have written her life as she has
done, and given it to the world, if there had been any harm in faking?
She, too, was what they call a thief and a cut-purse; ay, and was
transported for it, like my dear son; and do you think she would have
told the world so, if there had been any harm in the thing?  Oh, it is a
comfort to me that the blessed woman was transported, and came back—for
come back she did, and rich too—for it is an assurance to me that my dear
son, who was transported too, will come back like her.’

‘What was her name?’

‘Her name, blessed Mary Flanders.’

‘Will you let me look at the book?’

‘Yes, dear, that I will, if you promise me not to run away with it.’

I took the book from her hand; a short thick volume, at least a century
old, bound with greasy black leather.  I turned the yellow and
dog’s-eared pages, reading here and there a sentence.  Yes, and no
mistake!  _His_ pen, his style, his spirit might be observed in every
line of the uncouth-looking old volume—the air, the style, the spirit of
the writer of the book which first taught me to read.  I covered my face
with my hand, and thought of my childhood . . .

‘This is a singular book,’ said I at last; ‘but it does not appear to
have been written to prove that thieving is no harm, but rather to show
the terrible consequences of crime: it contains a deep moral.’

‘A deep what, dear?’

‘A—but no matter, I will give you a crown for this volume.’

‘No, dear, I will not sell the volume for a crown.’

‘I am poor,’ said I; ‘but I will give you two silver crowns for your
volume.’

‘No, dear, I will not sell my volume for two silver crowns; no, nor for
the golden one in the king’s tower down there; without my book I should
mope and pine, and perhaps fling myself into the river; but I am glad you
like it, which shows that I was right about you, after all; you are one
of our party, and you have a flash about that eye of yours which puts me
just in mind of my dear son.  No, dear, I won’t sell you my book; but, if
you like, you may have a peep into it whenever you come this way.  I
shall be glad to see you; you are one of the right sort, for, if you had
been a common one, you would have run away with the thing; but you scorn
such behaviour, and, as you are so flash of your money, though you say
you are poor, you may give me a tanner to buy a little baccy with; I love
baccy, dear, more by token that it comes from the plantations to which
the blessed woman was sent.’

                       [Picture: All safe with me]

‘What’s a tanner?’ said I.

‘Lor! don’t you know, dear?  Why, a tanner is sixpence; and, as you were
talking just now about crowns, it will be as well to tell you that those
of our trade never calls them crowns, but bulls; but I am talking
nonsense, just as if you did not know all that already, as well as
myself; you are only shamming—I’m no trap, dear, nor more was the blessed
woman in the book.  Thank you, dear—thank you for the tanner; if I don’t
spend it, I’ll keep it in remembrance of your sweet face.  What, you are
going?—well, first let me whisper a word to you.  If you have any clies
to sell at any time, I’ll buy them of you; all safe with me; I never
peach, and scorns a trap; so now, dear, God bless you! and give you good
luck!  Thank you for your pleasant company, and thank you for the
tanner.’



CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO


THE TANNER—THE HOTEL—DRINKING CLARET—LONDON JOURNAL—NEW
FIELD—COMMONPLACENESS—THE THREE INDIVIDUALS—BOTHERATION—BOTH FRANK AND
ARDENT

‘Tanner!’ said I musingly, as I left the bridge; ‘Tanner! what can the
man who cures raw skins by means of a preparation of oak bark and other
materials have to do with the name which these fakers, as they call
themselves, bestow on the smallest silver coin in these dominions?
Tanner!  I can’t trace the connection between the man of bark and the
silver coin, unless journeymen tanners are in the habit of working for
sixpence a day.  But I have it,’ I continued, flourishing my hat over my
head, ‘tanner, in this instance, is not an English word.’  Is it not
surprising that the language of Mr. Petulengro and of Tawno Chikno is
continually coming to my assistance whenever I appear to be at a nonplus
with respect to the derivation of crabbed words?  I have made out crabbed
words in Æschylus by means of the speech of Chikno and Petulengro, and
even in my Biblical researches I have derived no slight assistance from
it.  It appears to be a kind of picklock, an open sesame, Tanner—Tawno!
the one is but a modification of the other; they were originally
identical, and have still much the same signification.  Tanner, in the
language of the apple-woman, meaneth the smallest of English silver
coins; and Tawno, in the language of the Petulengres, though bestowed
upon the biggest of the Romans, according to strict interpretation
signifieth a little child.

So I left the bridge, retracing my steps for a considerable way, as I
thought I had seen enough in the direction in which I had hitherto been
wandering; I should say that I scarcely walked less than thirty miles
about the big city on the day of my first arrival.  Night came on, but
still I was walking about, my eyes wide open, and admiring everything
that presented itself to them.  Everything was new to me, for everything
is different in London from what it is elsewhere—the people, their
language, the horses, the _tout ensemble_—even the stones of London are
different from others—at least it appeared to me that I had never walked
with the same ease and facility on the flagstones of a country town as on
those of London; so I continued roving about till night came on, and then
the splendour of some of the shops particularly struck me.  ‘A regular
Arabian Nights entertainment!’ said I, as I looked into one on Cornhill,
gorgeous with precious merchandise, and lighted up with lustres, the rays
of which were reflected from a hundred mirrors.

But, notwithstanding the excellence of the London pavement, I began about
nine o’clock to feel myself thoroughly tired; painfully and slowly did I
drag my feet along.  I also felt very much in want of some refreshment,
and I remembered that since breakfast I had taken nothing.  I was now in
the Strand, and, glancing about, I perceived that I was close by an
hotel, which bore over the door the somewhat remarkable name of Holy
Lands.  Without a moment’s hesitation I entered a well-lighted passage,
and, turning to the left, I found myself in a well-lighted coffee-room,
with a well-dressed and frizzled waiter before me.  ‘Bring me some
claret,’ said I, for I was rather faint than hungry, and I felt ashamed
to give a humbler order to so well-dressed an individual.  The waiter
looked at me for a moment; then, making a low bow, he bustled off, and I
sat myself down in the box nearest to the window.  Presently the waiter
returned, bearing beneath his left arm a long bottle, and between the
fingers of his right hand two large purple glasses; placing the latter on
the table, he produced a corkscrew, drew the cork in a twinkling, set the
bottle down before me with a bang, and then, standing still, appeared to
watch my movements.  You think I don’t know how to drink a glass of
claret, thought I to myself.  I’ll soon show you how we drink claret
where I come from; and, filling one of the glasses to the brim, I
flickered it for a moment between my eyes and the lustre, and then held
it to my nose; having given that organ full time to test the bouquet of
the wine, I applied the glass to my lips, taking a large mouthful of the
wine, which I swallowed slowly and by degrees, that the palate might
likewise have an opportunity of performing its functions.  A second
mouthful I disposed of more summarily; then, placing the empty glass upon
the table, I fixed my eyes upon the bottle, and said—nothing; whereupon
the waiter, who had been observing the whole process with considerable
attention, made me a bow yet more low than before, and, turning on his
heel, retired with a smart chuck of his head, as much as to say, It is
all right: the young man is used to claret.

And when the waiter had retired I took a second glass of the wine, which
I found excellent; and, observing a newspaper lying near me, I took it up
and began perusing it.  It has been observed somewhere that people who
are in the habit of reading newspapers every day are not unfrequently
struck with the excellence of style and general talent which they
display.  Now, if that be the case, how must I have been surprised, who
was reading a newspaper for the first time, and that one of the best of
the London journals!  Yes, strange as it may seem, it was nevertheless
true that, up to the moment of which I am speaking, I had never read a
newspaper of any description.  I of course had frequently seen journals,
and even handled them; but, as for reading them, what were they to me?  I
cared not for news.  But here I was now with my claret before me,
perusing, perhaps, the best of all the London journals; it was not the
---, and I was astonished: an entirely new field of literature appeared
to be opened to my view.  It was a discovery, but I confess rather an
unpleasant one; for I said to myself, If literary talent is so very
common in London, that the journals, things which, as their very name
denotes, are ephemeral, are written in a style like the article I have
been perusing, how can I hope to distinguish myself in this big town,
when, for the life of me, I don’t think I could write anything half so
clever as what I have been reading?  And then I laid down the paper, and
fell into deep musing; rousing myself from which, I took a glass of wine,
and, pouring out another, began musing again.  What I have been reading,
thought I, is certainly very clever and very talented; but talent and
cleverness I think I have heard some one say are very commonplace things,
only fitted for everyday occasions.  I question whether the man who wrote
the book I saw this day on the bridge was a clever man; but, after all,
was he not something much better?  I don’t think he could have written
this article, but then he wrote the book which I saw on the bridge.
Then, if he could not have written the article on which I now hold my
forefinger—and I do not believe he could—why should I feel discouraged at
the consciousness that I, too, could not write it?  I certainly could no
more have written the article, than he could; but then, like him, though
I would not compare myself to the man who wrote the book I saw upon the
bridge, I think I could—and here I emptied the glass of claret—write
something better.

Thereupon I resumed the newspaper; and, as I was before struck with the
fluency of style and the general talent which it displayed, I was now
equally so with its commonplaceness and want of originality on every
subject; and it was evident to me that, whatever advantage these
newspaper-writers might have over me in some points, they had never
studied the Welsh bards, translated Kæmpe Viser, or been under the
pupilage of Mr. Petulengro and Tawno Chikno.

And as I sat conning the newspaper three individuals entered the room,
and seated themselves in the box at the farther end of which I was.  They
were all three very well dressed; two of them elderly gentlemen, the
third a young man about my own age, or perhaps a year or two older: they
called for coffee; and, after two or three observations, the two eldest
commenced a conversation in French, which, however, though they spoke it
fluently enough, I perceived at once was not their native language; the
young man, however, took no part in their conversation, and when they
addressed a portion to him, which indeed was but rarely, merely replied
by a monosyllable.  I have never been a listener, and I paid but little
heed to their discourse, nor indeed to themselves; as I occasionally
looked up, however, I could perceive that the features of the young man,
who chanced to be seated exactly opposite to me, wore an air of
constraint and vexation.  This circumstance caused me to observe him more
particularly than I otherwise should have done: his features were
handsome and prepossessing; he had dark brown hair and a high-arched
forehead.  After the lapse of half an hour, the two elder individuals,
having finished their coffee, called for the waiter, and then rose as if
to depart, the young man, however, still remaining seated in the box.
The others, having reached the door, turned round, and, finding that the
youth did not follow them, one of them called to him with a tone of some
authority; whereupon the young man rose, and, pronouncing half audibly
the word ‘botheration,’ rose and followed them.  I now observed that he
was remarkably tall.  All three left the house.  In about ten minutes,
finding nothing more worth reading in the newspaper, I laid it down, and
though the claret was not yet exhausted, I was thinking of betaking
myself to my lodgings, and was about to call the waiter, when I heard a
step in the passage, and in another moment the tall young man entered the
room, advanced to the same box, and, sitting down nearly opposite to me,
again pronounced to himself, but more audibly than before, the same word.

‘A troublesome world this, sir,’ said I, looking at him.

‘Yes,’ said the young man, looking fixedly at me; ‘but I am afraid we
bring most of our troubles on our own heads—at least I can say so of
myself,’ he added, laughing.  Then, after a pause, ‘I beg pardon,’ he
said, ‘but am I not addressing one of my own country?’

‘Of what country are you?’ said I.

‘Ireland.’

‘I am not of your country, sir; but I have an infinite veneration for
your country, as Strap said to the French soldier.  Will you take a glass
of wine?’

‘Ah, de tout mon cœur, as the parasite said to Gil Blas,’ cried the young
man, laughing.  ‘Here’s to our better acquaintance!’

And better acquainted we soon became; and I found that, in making the
acquaintance of the young man, I had indeed made a valuable acquisition;
he was accomplished, highly connected, and bore the name of Francis
Ardry.  Frank and ardent he was, and in a very little time had told me
much that related to himself, and in return I communicated a general
outline of my own history; he listened with profound attention, but
laughed heartily when I told him some particulars of my visit in the
morning to the publisher, whom he had frequently heard of.

We left the house together.

‘We shall soon see each other again,’ said he, as we separated at the
door of my lodging.



CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE


DINE WITH THE PUBLISHER—RELIGIONS—NO ANIMAL FOOD—UNPROFITABLE
DISCUSSIONS—PRINCIPLES OF CRITICISM—THE BOOK MARKET—NEWGATE
LIVES—GOETHE—GERMAN ACQUIREMENTS—MORAL DIGNITY

On the Sunday I was punctual to my appointment to dine with the
publisher.  As I hurried along the square in which his house stood, my
thoughts were fixed so intently on the great man, that I passed by him
without seeing him.  He had observed me, however, and joined me just as I
was about to knock at the door.  ‘Let us take a turn in the square,’ said
he, ‘we shall not dine for half an hour.’

‘Well,’ said he, as we were walking in the square, ‘what have you been
doing since I last saw you?’

‘I have been looking about London,’ said I, ‘and I have bought the
_Dairyman’s Daughter_; here it is.’

‘Pray put it up,’ said the publisher; ‘I don’t want to look at such
trash.  Well, do you think you could write anything like it?’

‘I do not,’ said I.

‘How is that?’ said the publisher, looking at me.

‘Because,’ said I, ‘the man who wrote it seems to be perfectly well
acquainted with his subject; and, moreover, to write from the heart.’

‘By the subject you mean—’

‘Religion.’

‘And ain’t you acquainted with religion?’

‘Very little.’

‘I am sorry for that,’ said the publisher seriously, ‘for he who sets up
for an author ought to be acquainted not only with religion, but
religions, and indeed with all subjects, like my good friend in the
country.  It is well that I have changed my mind about the _Dairyman’s
Daughter_, or I really don’t know whom I could apply to on the subject at
the present moment, unless to himself; and after all I question whether
his style is exactly suited for an evangelical novel.’

‘Then you do not wish for an imitation of the _Dairyman’s Daughter_?’

‘I do not, sir; I have changed my mind, as I told you before; I wish to
employ you in another line, but will communicate to you my intentions
after dinner.’

At dinner, beside the publisher and myself, were present his wife and son
with his newly-married bride; the wife appeared a quiet respectable
woman, and the young people looked very happy and good-natured; not so
the publisher, who occasionally eyed both with contempt and dislike.
Connected with this dinner there was one thing remarkable; the publisher
took no animal food, but contented himself with feeding voraciously on
rice and vegetables prepared in various ways.

‘You eat no animal food, sir?’ said I.

‘I do not, sir,’ said he; ‘I have forsworn it upwards of twenty years.
In one respect, sir, I am a Brahmin.  I abhor taking away life—the brutes
have as much right to live as ourselves.’

‘But,’ said I, ‘if the brutes were not killed, there would be such a
superabundance of them that the land would be overrun with them.’

‘I do not think so, sir; few are killed in India, and yet there is plenty
of room.’

‘But,’ said I, ‘Nature intended that they should be destroyed, and the
brutes themselves prey upon one another, and it is well for themselves
and the world that they do so.  What would be the state of things if
every insect, bird, and worm were left to perish of old age?’

‘We will change the subject,’ said the publisher; ‘I have never been a
friend of unprofitable discussions.’

I looked at the publisher with some surprise, I had not been accustomed
to be spoken to so magisterially; his countenance was dressed in a
portentous frown, and his eye looked more sinister than ever; at that
moment he put me in mind of some of those despots of whom I had read in
the history of Morocco, whose word was law.  He merely wants power,
thought I to myself, to be a regular Muley Mehemet; and then I sighed,
for I remembered how very much I was in the power of that man.

The dinner over, the publisher nodded to his wife, who departed, followed
by her daughter-in-law.  The son looked as if he would willingly have
attended them; he, however, remained seated; and, a small decanter of
wine being placed on the table, the publisher filled two glasses, one of
which he handed to myself, and the other to his son; saying, ‘Suppose you
two drink to the success of the Review.  I would join you,’ said he,
addressing himself to me, ‘but I drink no wine; if I am a Brahmin with
respect to meat, I am a Mahometan with respect to wine.’

So the son and I drank success to the Review, and then the young man
asked me various questions; for example—How I liked London?—Whether I did
not think it a very fine place?—Whether I was at the play the night
before?—and whether I was in the park that afternoon?  He seemed
preparing to ask me some more questions; but, receiving a furious look
from his father, he became silent, filled himself a glass of wine, drank
it off, looked at the table for about a minute, then got up, pushed back
his chair, made me a bow, and left the room.

‘Is that young gentleman, sir,’ said I, ‘well versed in the principles of
criticism?’

‘He is not, sir,’ said the publisher; ‘and if I place him at the head of
the Review ostensibly, I do it merely in the hope of procuring him a
maintenance; of the principle of a thing he knows nothing, except that
the principle of bread is wheat, and that the principle of that wine is
grape.  Will you take another glass?’

I looked at the decanter; but, not feeling altogether so sure as the
publisher’s son with respect to the principle of what it contained, I
declined taking any more.

‘No, sir,’ said the publisher, adjusting himself in his chair, ‘he knows
nothing about criticism, and will have nothing more to do with the
reviewals than carrying about the books to those who have to review them;
the real conductor of the Review will be a widely different person, to
whom I will, when convenient, introduce you.  And now we will talk of the
matter which we touched upon before dinner: I told you then that I had
changed my mind with respect to you; I have been considering the state of
the market, sir, the book market, and I have come to the conclusion that,
though you might be profitably employed upon evangelical novels, you
could earn more money for me, sir, and consequently for yourself, by a
compilation of Newgate lives and trials.’

‘Newgate lives and trials!’

‘Yes, sir,’ said the publisher, ‘Newgate lives and trials; and now, sir,
I will briefly state to you the services which I expect you to perform,
and the terms which I am willing to grant.  I expect you, sir, to compile
six volumes of Newgate lives and trials, each volume to contain by no
manner of means less than one thousand pages; the remuneration which you
will receive when the work is completed will be fifty pounds, which is
likewise intended to cover any expenses you may incur in procuring books,
papers, and manuscripts necessary for the compilation.  Such will be one
of your employments, sir,—such the terms.  In the second place, you will
be expected to make yourself useful in the Review—generally useful,
sir—doing whatever is required of you; for it is not customary, at least
with me, to permit writers, especially young writers, to choose their
subjects.  In these two departments, sir, namely compilation and
reviewing, I had yesterday, after due consideration, determined upon
employing you.  I had intended to employ you no farther, sir—at least for
the present; but, sir, this morning I received a letter from my valued
friend in the country, in which he speaks in terms of strong admiration
(I don’t overstate) of your German acquirements.  Sir, he says that it
would be a thousand pities if your knowledge of the German language
should be lost to the world, or even permitted to sleep, and he entreats
me to think of some plan by which it may be turned to account.  Sir, I am
at all times willing, if possible, to oblige my worthy friend, and
likewise to encourage merit and talent; I have, therefore, determined to
employ you in German.’

‘Sir,’ said I, rubbing my hands, ‘you are very kind, and so is our mutual
friend; I shall be happy to make myself useful in German; and if you
think a good translation from Goethe—his _Sorrows_ for example, or more
particularly his _Faust_—’

‘Sir,’ said the publisher, ‘Goethe is a drug; his _Sorrows_ are a drug,
so is his _Faustus_, more especially the last, since that fool ---
rendered him into English.  No, sir, I do not want you to translate
Goethe or anything belonging to him; nor do I want you to translate
anything from the German; what I want you to do, is to translate into
German.  I am willing to encourage merit, sir; and, as my good friend in
his last letter has spoken very highly of your German acquirements, I
have determined that you shall translate my book of philosophy into
German.’

‘Your book of philosophy into German, sir?’

‘Yes, sir; my book of philosophy into German.  I am not a drug, sir, in
Germany as Goethe is here, no more is my book.  I intend to print the
translation at Leipzig, sir; and if it turns out a profitable
speculation, as I make no doubt it will, provided the translation be well
executed, I will make you some remuneration.  Sir, your remuneration will
be determined by the success of your translation.’

‘But, sir—’

‘Sir,’ said the publisher, interrupting me, ‘you have heard my
intentions; I consider that you ought to feel yourself highly gratified
by my intentions towards you; it is not frequently that I deal with a
writer, especially a young writer, as I have done with you.  And now,
sir, permit me to inform you that I wish to be alone.  This is Sunday
afternoon, sir; I never go to church, but I am in the habit of spending
part of every Sunday afternoon alone—profitably I hope, sir—in musing on
the magnificence of nature and the moral dignity of man.’



CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR


TWO VOLUMES—EDITOR—QUINTILIAN—LOOSE MONEY

‘What can’t be cured must be endured,’ and ‘it is hard to kick against
the pricks.’

At the period to which I have brought my history, I bethought me of the
proverbs with which I have headed this chapter, and determined to act up
to their spirit.  I determined not to fly in the face of the publisher,
and to bear—what I could not cure—his arrogance and vanity.  At present,
at the conclusion of nearly a quarter of a century, I am glad that I came
to that determination, which I did my best to carry into effect.

Two or three days after our last interview, the publisher made his
appearance in my apartment; he bore two tattered volumes under his arm,
which he placed on the table.  ‘I have brought you two volumes of lives,
sir,’ said he, ‘which I yesterday found in my garret; you will find them
of service for your compilation.  As I always wish to behave liberally
and encourage talent, especially youthful talent, I shall make no charge
for them, though I should be justified in so doing, as you are aware
that, by our agreement, you are to provide any books and materials which
may be necessary.  Have you been in quest of any?’

‘No,’ said I, ‘not yet.’

‘Then, sir, I would advise you to lose no time in doing so; you must
visit all the bookstalls, sir, especially those in the by-streets and
blind alleys.  It is in such places that you will find the description of
literature you are in want of.  You must be up and doing, sir; it will
not do for an author, especially a young author, to be idle in this town.
To-night you will receive my book of philosophy, and likewise books for
the Review.  And, by the bye, sir, it will be as well for you to review
my book of philosophy for the Review; the other reviews not having
noticed it.  Sir, before translating it, I wish you to review my book of
philosophy for the Review.’

‘I shall be happy to do my best, sir.’

‘Very good, sir; I should be unreasonable to expect anything beyond a
person’s best.  And now, sir, if you please, I will conduct you to the
future editor of the Review.  As you are to co-operate, sir, I deem it
right to make you acquainted.’

The intended editor was a little old man, who sat in a kind of wooden
pavilion in a small garden behind a house in one of the purlieus of the
city, composing tunes upon a piano.  The walls of the pavilion were
covered with fiddles of various sizes and appearances, and a considerable
portion of the floor occupied by a pile of books all of one size.  The
publisher introduced him to me as a gentleman scarcely less eminent in
literature than in music, and me to him as an aspirant critic—a young
gentleman scarcely less eminent in philosophy than in philology.  The
conversation consisted entirely of compliments till just before we
separated, when the future editor inquired of me whether I had ever read
Quintilian; and, on my replying in the negative, expressed his surprise
that any gentleman should aspire to become a critic who had never read
Quintilian, with the comfortable information, however, that he could
supply me with a Quintilian at half-price, that is, a translation made by
himself some years previously, of which he had, pointing to the heap on
the floor, still a few copies remaining unsold.  For some reason or
other, perhaps a poor one, I did not purchase the editor’s translation of
Quintilian.

‘Sir,’ said the publisher, as we were returning from our visit to the
editor, ‘you did right in not purchasing a drug.  I am not prepared, sir,
to say that Quintilian is a drug, never having seen him; but I am
prepared to say that man’s translation is a drug, judging from the heap
of rubbish on the floor; besides, sir, you will want any loose money you
may have to purchase the description of literature which is required for
your compilation.’

The publisher presently paused before the entrance of a very
forlorn-looking street.  ‘Sir,’ said he, after looking down it with
attention, ‘I should not wonder if in that street you find works
connected with the description of literature which is required for your
compilation.  It is in streets of this description, sir, and blind
alleys, where such works are to be found.  You had better search that
street, sir, whilst I continue my way.’

I searched the street to which the publisher had pointed, and, in the
course of the three succeeding days, many others of a similar kind.  I
did not find the description of literature alluded to by the publisher to
be a drug, but, on the contrary, both scarce and dear.  I had expended
much more than my loose money long before I could procure materials even
for the first volume of my compilation.

             [Picture: I am willing to encourage merit, sir]



CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE


FRANCIS ARDRY—CERTAIN SHARPERS—BRAVE AND ELOQUENT—OPPOSITES—FLINGING THE
BONES—STRANGE PLACES—A BATCH OF DOGS—REDOUBLED APPLICATION

One evening I was visited by the tall young gentleman, Francis Ardry,
whose acquaintance I had formed at the coffee-house.  As it is necessary
that the reader should know something more about this young man, who will
frequently appear in the course of these pages, I will state in a few
words who and what he was.  He was born of an ancient Roman Catholic
family in Ireland; his parents, whose only child he was, had long been
dead.  His father, who had survived his mother several years, had been a
spendthrift, and at his death had left the family property considerably
embarrassed.  Happily, however, the son and the estate fell into the
hands of careful guardians, near relations of the family, by whom the
property was managed to the best advantage, and every means taken to
educate the young man in a manner suitable to his expectations.  At the
age of sixteen he was taken from a celebrated school in England at which
he had been placed, and sent to a small French university, in order that
he might form an intimate and accurate acquaintance with the grand
language of the continent.  There he continued three years, at the end of
which he went under the care of a French abbé to Germany and Italy.  It
was in this latter country that he first began to cause his guardians
serious uneasiness.  He was in the heyday of youth when he visited Italy,
and he entered wildly into the various delights of that fascinating
region, and, what was worse, falling into the hands of certain sharpers,
not Italian, but English, he was fleeced of considerable sums of money.
The abbé, who, it seems, was an excellent individual of the old French
school, remonstrated with his pupil on his dissipation and extravagance;
but, finding his remonstrances vain, very properly informed the guardians
of the manner of life of his charge.  They were not slow in commanding
Francis Ardry home; and, as he was entirely in their power, he was forced
to comply.  He had been about three months in London when I met him in
the coffee-room, and the two elderly gentlemen in his company were his
guardians.  At this time they were very solicitous that he should choose
for himself a profession, offering to his choice either the army or
law—he was calculated to shine in either of these professions—for, like
many others of his countrymen, he was brave and eloquent; but he did not
wish to shackle himself with a profession.  As, however, his minority did
not terminate till he was three-and-twenty, of which age he wanted nearly
two years during which he would be entirely dependent on his guardians,
he deemed it expedient to conceal, to a certain degree, his sentiments,
temporising with the old gentlemen, with whom, notwithstanding his many
irregularities, he was a great favourite, and at whose death he expected
to come into a yet greater property than that which he inherited from his
parents.

Such is a brief account of Francis Ardry—of my friend Francis Ardry; for
the acquaintance, commenced in the singular manner with which the reader
is acquainted, speedily ripened into a friendship which endured through
many long years of separation, and which still endures certainly on my
part, and on his—if he lives; but it is many years since I have heard
from Francis Ardry.

And yet many people would have thought it impossible for our friendship
to have lasted a week—for in many respects no two people could be more
dissimilar.  He was an Irishman—I, an Englishman;—he, fiery,
enthusiastic, and open-hearted; I, neither fiery, enthusiastic, nor
open-hearted;—he, fond of pleasure and dissipation; I, of study and
reflection.  Yet it is of such dissimilar elements that the most lasting
friendships are formed: we do not like counterparts of ourselves.  ‘Two
great talkers will not travel far together,’ is a Spanish saying; I will
add, ‘Nor two silent people’; we naturally love our opposites.

So Francis Ardry came to see me, and right glad I was to see him, for I
had just flung my books and papers aside, and was wishing for a little
social converse; and when we had conversed for some little time together,
Francis Ardry proposed that we should go to the play to see Kean; so we
went to the play, and saw—not Kean, who at that time was ashamed to show
himself, but—a man who was not ashamed to show himself, and who people
said was a much better man than Kean—as I have no doubt he was—though
whether he was a better actor I cannot say, for I never saw Kean.

Two or three evenings after Francis Ardry came to see me again, and again
we went out together, and Francis Ardry took me to—shall I say?—why
not?—a gaming-house, where I saw people playing, and where I saw Francis
Ardry play and lose five guineas, and where I lost nothing, because I did
not play, though I felt somewhat inclined; for a man with a white hat and
a sparkling eye held up a box which contained something which rattled,
and asked me to fling the bones.  ‘There is nothing like flinging the
bones!’ said he, and then I thought I should like to know what kind of
thing flinging the bones was; I, however, restrained myself.  ‘There is
nothing like flinging the bones!’ shouted the man, as my friend and
myself left the room.

Long life and prosperity to Francis Ardry! but for him I should not have
obtained knowledge which I did of the strange and eccentric places of
London.  Some of the places to which he took me were very strange places
indeed; but, however strange the places were, I observed that the
inhabitants thought there were no places like their several places, and
no occupations like their several occupations; and among other strange
places to which Francis Ardry conducted me was a place not far from the
abbey church of Westminster.

Before we entered this place our ears were greeted by a confused hubbub
of human voices, squealing of rats, barking of dogs, and the cries of
various other animals.  Here we beheld a kind of cock-pit, around which a
great many people, seeming of all ranks, but chiefly of the lower, were
gathered, and in it we saw a dog destroy a great many rats in a very
small period; and when the dog had destroyed the rats, we saw a fight
between a dog and a bear, then a fight between two dogs, then . . .

After the diversions of the day were over, my friend introduced me to the
genius of the place, a small man of about five feet high, with a very
sharp countenance, and dressed in a brown jockey coat and top-boots.
‘Joey,’ said he, ‘this is a friend of mine.’  Joey nodded to me with a
patronising air.  ‘Glad to see you, sir!—want a dog?’

‘No,’ said I.

‘You have got one, then—want to match him?’

‘We have a dog at home,’ said I, ‘in the country; but I can’t say I
should like to match him.  Indeed, I do not like dog-fighting.’

‘Not like dog-fighting!’ said the man, staring.

‘The truth is, Joe, that he is just come to town.’

‘So I should think; he looks rather green—not like dog-fighting!’

‘Nothing like it, is there, Joey?’

‘I should think not; what is like it?  A time will come, and that
speedily, when folks will give up everything else, and follow
dog-fighting.’

‘Do you think so?’ said I.

‘Think so?  Let me ask what there is that a man wouldn’t give up for it?’

‘Why,’ said I modestly, ‘there’s religion.’

‘Religion!  How you talk.  Why, there’s myself, bred and born an
Independent, and intended to be a preacher, didn’t I give up religion for
dog-fighting?  Religion, indeed!  If it were not for the rascally law, my
pit would fill better on Sundays than any other time.  Who would go to
church when they could come to my pit?  Religion! why, the parsons
themselves come to my pit; and I have now a letter in my pocket from one
of them, asking me to send him a dog.’

‘Well, then, politics,’ said I.

‘Politics!  Why, the gemmen in the House would leave Pitt himself, if he
were alive, to come to my pit.  There were three of the best of them here
to-night, all great horators.—Get on with you, what comes next?’

‘Why, there’s learning and letters.’

‘Pretty things, truly, to keep people from dog-fighting.  Why, there’s
the young gentlemen from the Abbey School comes here in shoals, leaving
books, and letters, and masters too.  To tell you the truth, I rather
wish they would mind their letters, for a more precious set of young
blackguards I never seed.  It was only the other day I was thinking of
calling in a constable for my own protection, for I thought my pit would
have been torn down by them.’

Scarcely knowing what to say, I made an observation at random.  ‘You
show, by your own conduct,’ said I, ‘that there are other things worth
following besides dog-fighting.  You practise rat-catching and
badger-baiting as well.’

The dog-fancier eyed me with supreme contempt.

‘Your friend here,’ said he, ‘might well call you a new one.  When I
talks of dog-fighting, I of course means rat-catching, and
badger-baiting, ay, and bull-baiting too, just as when I speaks
religiously, when I says one I means not one but three.  And talking of
religion puts me in mind that I have something else to do besides
chaffing here, having a batch of dogs to send off by this night’s packet
to the Pope of Rome.’

But at last I had seen enough of what London had to show, whether strange
or commonplace, so at least I thought, and I ceased to accompany my
friend in his rambles about town, and to partake of his adventures.  Our
friendship, however, still continued unabated, though I saw, in
consequence, less of him.  I reflected that time was passing on—that the
little money I had brought to town was fast consuming, and that I had
nothing to depend upon but my own exertions for a fresh supply; and I
returned with redoubled application to my pursuits.



CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX


OCCUPATIONS—TRADUTTORE TRADITORE—ODE TO THE MIST—APPLE AND
PEAR—REVIEWING—CURRENT LITERATURE—OXFORD-LIKE MANNER—A PLAIN
STORY—ILL-REGULATED MIND—UNSNUFFED CANDLE—DREAMS

I compiled the Chronicles of Newgate; I reviewed books for the Review
established on an entirely new principle; and I occasionally tried my
best to translate into German portions of the publisher’s philosophy.  In
this last task I experienced more than one difficulty.  I was a tolerable
German scholar, it is true, and I had long been able to translate from
German into English with considerable facility; but to translate from a
foreign language into your own is a widely different thing from
translating from your own into a foreign language; and, in my first
attempt to render the publisher into German, I was conscious of making
miserable failures, from pure ignorance of German grammar; however, by
the assistance of grammars and dictionaries, and by extreme perseverance,
I at length overcame all the difficulties connected with the German
language.  But, alas! another difficulty remained, far greater than any
connected with German—a difficulty connected with the language of the
publisher—the language which the great man employed in his writings was
very hard to understand; I say in his writings—for his colloquial English
was plain enough.  Though not professing to be a scholar, he was much
addicted, when writing, to the use of Greek and Latin terms, not as other
people used them, but in a manner of his own, which set the authority of
dictionaries at defiance; the consequence was that I was sometimes
utterly at a loss to understand the meaning of the publisher.  Many a
quarter of an hour did I pass at this period, staring at periods of the
publisher, and wondering what he could mean, but in vain, till at last,
with a shake of the head, I would snatch up the pen, and render the
publisher literally into German.  Sometimes I was almost tempted to
substitute something of my own for what the publisher had written, but my
conscience interposed; the awful words, Traduttore traditore, commenced
ringing in my ears, and I asked myself whether I should be acting
honourably towards the publisher, who had committed to me the delicate
task of translating him into German; should I be acting honourably
towards him, in making him speak in German in a manner different from
that in which he expressed himself in English?  No, I could not reconcile
such conduct with any principle of honour; by substituting something of
my own in lieu of these mysterious passages of the publisher, I might be
giving a fatal blow to his whole system of philosophy.  Besides, when
translating into English, had I treated foreign authors in this manner?
Had I treated the minstrels of the Kæmpe Viser in this manner?—No.  Had I
treated Ab Gwilym in this manner?  Even when translating his Ode to the
Mist, in which he is misty enough, had I attempted to make Ab Gwilym less
misty?  No; on referring to my translation, I found that Ab Gwilym in my
hands was quite as misty as in his own.  Then, seeing that I had not
ventured to take liberties with people who had never put themselves into
my hands for the purpose of being rendered, how could I venture to
substitute my own thoughts and ideas for the publisher’s, who had put
himself into my hands for that purpose?  Forbid it every proper
feeling—so I told the Germans, in the publisher’s own way, the
publisher’s tale of an apple and a pear.

I at first felt much inclined to be of the publisher’s opinion with
respect to the theory of the pear.  After all, why should the earth be
shaped like an apple, and not like a pear?—it would certainly gain in
appearance by being shaped like a pear.  A pear being a handsomer fruit
than an apple, the publisher is probably right, thought I, and I will say
that he is right on this point in the notice which I am about to write of
his publication for the Review.  And yet I don’t know—said I, after a
long fit of musing—I don’t know but what there is more to be said for the
Oxford theory.  The world may be shaped like a pear, but I don’t know
that it is; but one thing I know, which is, that it does not taste like a
pear; I have always liked pears, but I don’t like the world.  The world
to me tastes much more like an apple, and I have never liked apples.  I
will uphold the Oxford theory—besides, I am writing in an Oxford Review,
and am in duty bound to uphold the Oxford theory.  So in my notice I
asserted that the world was round; I quoted Scripture, and endeavoured to
prove that the world was typified by the apple in Scripture, both as to
shape and properties.  ‘An apple is round,’ said I, ‘and the world is
round—the apple is a sour, disagreeable fruit; and who has tasted much of
the world without having his teeth set on edge?’  I, however, treated the
publisher, upon the whole, in the most urbane and Oxford-like manner;
complimenting him upon his style, acknowledging the general soundness of
his views, and only differing with him in the affair of the apple and
pear.

I did not like reviewing at all—it was not to my taste; it was not in my
way; I liked it far less than translating the publisher’s philosophy, for
that was something in the line of one whom a competent judge had surnamed
Lavengro.  I never could understand why reviews were instituted; works of
merit do not require to be reviewed, they can speak for themselves, and
require no praising; works of no merit at all will die of themselves,
they require no killing.  The Review to which I was attached was, as has
been already intimated, established on an entirely new plan; it professed
to review all new publications, which certainly no Review had ever
professed to do before, other Reviews never pretending to review more
than one-tenth of the current literature of the day.  When I say it
professed to review all new publications, I should add, which should be
sent to it; for, of course, the Review would not acknowledge the
existence of publications, the authors of which did not acknowledge the
existence of the Review.  I don’t think, however, that the Review had
much cause to complain of being neglected; I have reason to believe that
at least nine-tenths of the publications of the day were sent to the
Review, and in due time reviewed.  I had good opportunity of judging—I
was connected with several departments of the Review, though more
particularly with the poetical and philosophic ones.  An English
translation of Kant’s philosophy made its appearance on my table the day
before its publication.  In my notice of this work I said that the
English shortly hoped to give the Germans a _quid pro quo_.  I believe at
that time authors were much in the habit of publishing at their own
expense.  All the poetry which I reviewed appeared to be published at the
expense of the authors.  If I am asked how I comported myself, under all
circumstances, as a reviewer—I answer,—I did not forget that I was
connected with a Review established on Oxford principles, the editor of
which had translated Quintilian.  All the publications which fell under
my notice I treated in a gentlemanly and Oxford-like manner, no
personalities—no vituperation—no shabby insinuations; decorum, decorum
was the order of the day.  Occasionally a word of admonition, but gently
expressed, as an Oxford undergraduate might have expressed it, or master
of arts.  How the authors whose publications were consigned to my
colleagues were treated by them I know not; I suppose they were treated
in an urbane and Oxford-like manner, but I cannot say; I did not read the
reviewals of my colleagues, I did not read my own after they were
printed.  I did not like reviewing.

Of all my occupations at this period I am free to confess I liked that of
compiling the _Newgate Lives and Trials_ the best; that is, after I had
surmounted a kind of prejudice which I originally entertained.  The
trials were entertaining enough; but the lives—how full were they of wild
and racy adventures, and in what racy, genuine language were they told!
What struck me most with respect to these lives was the art which the
writers, whoever they were, possessed of telling a plain story.  It is no
easy thing to tell a story plainly and distinctly by mouth; but to tell
one on paper is difficult indeed, so many snares lie in the way.  People
are afraid to put down what is common on paper, they seek to embellish
their narratives, as they think, by philosophic speculations and
reflections; they are anxious to shine, and people who are anxious to
shine can never tell a plain story.  ‘So I went with them to a music
booth, where they made me almost drunk with gin, and began to talk their
flash language, which I did not understand,’ says, or is made to say,
Henry Simms, executed at Tyburn some seventy years before the time of
which I am speaking.  I have always looked upon this sentence as a
masterpiece of the narrative style, it is so concise and yet so very
clear.  As I gazed on passages like this, and there were many nearly as
good in the Newgate lives, I often sighed that it was not my fortune to
have to render these lives into German rather than the publisher’s
philosophy—his tale of an apple and pear.

Mine was an ill-regulated mind at this period.  As I read over the lives
of these robbers and pickpockets, strange doubts began to arise in my
mind about virtue and crime.  Years before, when quite a boy, as in one
of the early chapters I have hinted, I had been a necessitarian; I had
even written an essay on crime (I have it now before me, penned in a
round boyish hand), in which I attempted to prove that there is no such
thing as crime or virtue, all our actions being the result of
circumstances or necessity.  These doubts were now again reviving in my
mind; I could not, for the life of me, imagine how, taking all
circumstances into consideration, these highwaymen, these pickpockets,
should have been anything else than highwaymen and pickpockets; any more
than how, taking all circumstances into consideration, Bishop Latimer
(the reader is aware that I had read Foxe’s _Book of Martyrs_) should
have been anything else than Bishop Latimer.  I had a very ill-regulated
mind at that period.

My own peculiar ideas with respect to everything being a lying dream
began also to revive.  Sometimes at midnight, after having toiled for
hours at my occupations, I would fling myself back on my chair, look
about the poor apartment, dimly lighted by an unsnuffed candle, or upon
the heaps of books and papers before me, and exclaim,—‘Do I exist?  Do
these things, which I think I see about me, exist, or do they not?  Is
not everything a dream—a deceitful dream?  Is not this apartment a
dream—the furniture a dream?  The publisher a dream—his philosophy a
dream?  Am I not myself a dream—dreaming about translating a dream?  I
can’t see why all should not be a dream; what’s the use of the reality?’
And then I would pinch myself, and snuff the burdened smoky light.  ‘I
can’t see, for the life of me, the use of all this; therefore why should
I think that it exists?  If there was a chance, a probability, of all
this tending to anything, I might believe; but—’ and then I would stare
and think, and after some time shake my head and return again to my
occupations for an hour or two; and then I would perhaps shake, and
shiver, and yawn, and look wistfully in the direction of my sleeping
apartment; and then, but not wistfully, at the papers and books before
me; and sometimes I would return to my papers and books; but oftener I
would arise, and, after another yawn and shiver, take my light, and
proceed to my sleeping chamber.

They say that light fare begets light dreams; my fare at that time was
light enough; but I had anything but light dreams, for at that period I
had all kind of strange and extravagant dreams, and amongst other things
I dreamt that the whole world had taken to dog-fighting; and that I,
myself, had taken to dog-fighting, and that in a vast circus I backed an
English bulldog against the bloodhound of the Pope of Rome.



CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN


MY BROTHER—FITS OF CRYING—MAYOR-ELECT—THE COMMITTEE—THE NORMAN ARCH—A
WORD OF GREEK—THE CHURCH AND THE STATE—AT MY OWN EXPENSE

One morning I arose somewhat later than usual, having been occupied
during the greater part of the night with my literary toil.  On
descending from my chamber into the sitting-room I found a person seated
by the fire, whose glance was directed sideways to the table, on which
were the usual preparations for my morning’s meal.  Forthwith I gave a
cry, and sprang forward to embrace the person; for the person by the
fire, whose glance was directed to the table, was no one else than my
brother.

‘And how are things going on at home?’ said I to my brother, after we had
kissed and embraced.  ‘How is my mother, and how is the dog?’

‘My mother, thank God, is tolerably well,’ said my brother, ‘but very
much given to fits of crying.  As for the dog, he is not so well; but we
will talk more of these matters anon,’ said my brother, again glancing at
the breakfast things: ‘I am very hungry, as you may suppose, after having
travelled all night.’

Thereupon I exerted myself to the best of my ability to perform the
duties of hospitality, and I made my brother welcome—I may say more than
welcome; and, when the rage of my brother’s hunger was somewhat abated,
we recommenced talking about the matters of our little family, and my
brother told me much about my mother; he spoke of her fits of crying, but
said that of late the said fits of crying had much diminished, and she
appeared to be taking comfort; and, if I am not much mistaken, my brother
told me that my mother had of late the Prayer-book frequently in her
hand, and yet oftener the Bible.

We were silent for a time—at last I opened my mouth and mentioned the
dog.

‘The dog,’ said my brother, ‘is, I am afraid, in a very poor way; ever
since the death he has done nothing but pine and take on.  A few months
ago, you remember, he was as plump and fine as any dog in the town; but
at present he is little more than skin and bone.  Once we lost him for
two days, and never expected to see him again, imagining that some
mischance had befallen him; at length I found him—where do you think?
Chancing to pass by the churchyard, I found him seated on the grave!’

‘Very strange,’ said I; ‘but let us talk of something else.  It was very
kind of you to come and see me.’

‘Oh, as for that matter, I did not come up to see you, though of course I
am very glad to see you, having been rather anxious about you, like my
mother, who has received only one letter from you since your departure.
No, I did not come up on purpose to see you; but on quite a different
account.  You must know that the corporation of our town have lately
elected a new mayor, a person of many qualifications—big and portly, with
a voice like Boanerges; a religious man, the possessor of an immense pew;
loyal, so much so that I once heard him say that he would at any time go
three miles to hear any one sing “God save the King”; moreover, a giver
of excellent dinners.  Such is our present mayor; who, owing to his
loyalty, his religion, and a little, perhaps, to his dinners, is a mighty
favourite; so much so that the town is anxious to have his portrait
painted in a superior style, so that remote posterity may know what kind
of man he was, the colour of his hair, his air and gait.  So a committee
was formed some time ago, which is still sitting; that is, they dine with
the mayor every day to talk over the subject.  A few days since, to my
great surprise, they made their appearance in my poor studio, and desired
to be favoured with a sight of some of my paintings; well, I showed them
some, and, after looking at them with great attention, they went aside
and whispered.  “He’ll do,” I heard one say; “Yes, he’ll do,” said
another; and then they came to me, and one of them, a little man with a
hump on his back, who is a watchmaker, assumed the office of spokesman,
and made a long speech—(the old town has been always celebrated for
orators)—in which he told me how much they had been pleased with my
productions—(the old town has been always celebrated for its artistic
taste)—and, what do you think? offered me the painting of the mayor’s
portrait, and a hundred pounds for my trouble.  Well, of course I was
much surprised, and for a minute or two could scarcely speak; recovering
myself, however, I made a speech, not so eloquent as that of the
watchmaker of course, being not so accustomed to speaking; but not so bad
either, taking everything into consideration, telling them how flattered
I felt by the honour which they had conferred in proposing to me such an
undertaking; expressing, however, my fears that I was not competent to
the task, and concluding by saying what a pity it was that Crome was
dead.  “Crome,” said the little man, “Crome; yes, he was a clever man, a
very clever man in his way; he was good at painting landscapes and
farm-houses, but he would not do in the present instance were he alive.
He had no conception of the heroic, sir.  We want some person capable of
representing our mayor striding under the Norman arch out of the
cathedral.”  At the mention of the heroic an idea came at once into my
head.  “Oh,” said I, “if you are in quest of the heroic, I am glad that
you came to me; don’t mistake me,” I continued, “I do not mean to say
that I could do justice to your subject, though I am fond of the heroic;
but I can introduce you to a great master of the heroic, fully competent
to do justice to your mayor.  Not to me, therefore, be the painting of
the picture given, but to a friend of mine, the great master of the
heroic, to the best, the strongest, τω κρατίστῳ,” I added, for, being
amongst orators, I thought a word of Greek would tell.’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘and what did the orators say?’

‘They gazed dubiously at me and at one another,’ said my brother; ‘at
last the watchmaker asked me who this Mr. Christo was; adding, that he
had never heard of such a person; that, from my recommendation of him, he
had no doubt that he was a very clever man; but that they should like to
know something more about him before giving the commission to him.  That
he had heard of Christie the great auctioneer, who was considered to be
an excellent judge of pictures; but he supposed that I
scarcely—Whereupon, interrupting the watchmaker, I told him that I
alluded neither to Christo nor to Christie; but to the painter of Lazarus
rising from the grave, a painter under whom I had myself studied during
some months that I had spent in London, and to whom I was indebted for
much connected with the heroic.

‘“I have heard of him,” said the watchmaker, “and his paintings too; but
I am afraid that he is not exactly the gentleman by whom our mayor would
wish to be painted.  I have heard say that he is not a very good friend
to Church and State.  Come, young man,” he added, “it appears to me that
you are too modest; I like your style of painting, so do we all, and—why
should I mince the matter?—the money is to be collected in the town, why
should it go into a stranger’s pocket, and be spent in London?”

‘Thereupon I made them a speech, in which I said that art had nothing to
do with Church and State, at least with English Church and State, which
had never encouraged it; and that, though Church and State were doubtless
very fine things, a man might be a very good artist who cared not a straw
for either.  I then made use of some more Greek words, and told them how
painting was one of the Nine Muses, and one of the most independent
creatures alive, inspiring whom she pleased, and asking leave of nobody;
that I should be quite unworthy of the favours of the Muse, if, on the
present occasion, I did not recommend them a man whom I considered to be
a much greater master of the heroic than myself; and that, with regard to
the money being spent in the city, I had no doubt that they would not
weigh for a moment such a consideration against the chance of getting a
true heroic picture for the city.  I never talked so well in my life, and
said so many flattering things to the hunchback and his friends, that at
last they said that I should have my own way; and that if I pleased to go
up to London, and bring down the painter of Lazarus to paint the mayor, I
might; so they then bade me farewell, and I have come up to London.’

‘To put a hundred pounds into the hands of—’

‘A better man than myself,’ said my brother, ‘of course.’

‘And have you come up at your own expense?’

‘Yes,’ said my brother, ‘I have come up at my own expense.’

I made no answer, but looked in my brother’s face.  We then returned to
the former subjects of conversation, talking of the dead, my mother, and
the dog.

After some time my brother said, ‘I will now go to the painter, and
communicate to him the business which has brought me to town; and, if you
please, I will take you with me and introduce you to him.’  Having
expressed my willingness, we descended into the street.



CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT


PAINTER OF THE HEROIC—I’LL GO!—A MODEST PEEP—WHO IS THIS?—A CAPITAL
PHARAOH—DISPROPORTIONABLY SHORT—IMAGINARY PICTURE—ABOUT ENGLISH FIGURES

The painter of the heroic resided a great way off, at the western end of
the town.  We had some difficulty in obtaining admission to him; a
maid-servant, who opened the door, eyeing us somewhat suspiciously: it
was not until my brother had said that he was a friend of the painter
that we were permitted to pass the threshold.  At length we were shown
into the studio, where we found the painter, with an easel and brush,
standing before a huge piece of canvas, on which he had lately commenced
painting a heroic picture.  The painter might be about thirty-five years
old; he had a clever, intelligent countenance, with a sharp grey eye—his
hair was dark brown, and cut à-la-Rafael, as I was subsequently told,
that is, there was little before and much behind—he did not wear a
neckcloth; but, in its stead, a black riband, so that his neck, which was
rather fine, was somewhat exposed—he had a broad, muscular breast, and I
make no doubt that he would have been a very fine figure, but
unfortunately his legs and thighs were somewhat short.  He recognised my
brother, and appeared glad to see him.

‘What brings you to London?’ said he.

Whereupon my brother gave him a brief account of his commission.  At the
mention of the hundred pounds, I observed the eyes of the painter
glisten.  ‘Really,’ said he, when my brother had concluded, ‘it was very
kind to think of me.  I am not very fond of painting portraits; but a
mayor is a mayor, and there is something grand in that idea of the Norman
arch.  I’ll go; moreover, I am just at this moment confoundedly in need
of money, and when you knocked at the door, I don’t mind telling you, I
thought it was some dun.  I don’t know how it is, but in the capital they
have no taste for the heroic, they will scarce look at a heroic picture;
I am glad to hear that they have better taste in the provinces.  I’ll go;
when shall we set off?’

Thereupon it was arranged between the painter and my brother that they
should depart the next day but one; they then began to talk of art.
‘I’ll stick to the heroic,’ said the painter; ‘I now and then dabble in
the comic, but what I do gives me no pleasure, the comic is so low; there
is nothing like the heroic.  I am engaged here on a heroic picture,’ said
he, pointing to the canvas; ‘the subject is “Pharaoh dismissing Moses
from Egypt,” after the last plague—the death of the first-born; it is not
far advanced—that finished figure is Moses’: they both looked at the
canvas, and I, standing behind, took a modest peep.  The picture, as the
painter said, was not far advanced, the Pharaoh was merely in outline; my
eye was, of course, attracted by the finished figure, or rather what the
painter had called the finished figure; but, as I gazed upon it, it
appeared to me that there was something defective—something
unsatisfactory in the figure.  I concluded, however, that the painter,
notwithstanding what he had said, had omitted to give it the finishing
touch.  ‘I intend this to be my best picture,’ said the painter; ‘what I
want now is a face for Pharaoh; I have long been meditating on a face for
Pharaoh.’  Here, chancing to cast his eye upon my countenance, of whom he
had scarcely taken any manner of notice, he remained with his mouth open
for some time.  ‘Who is this?’ said he at last.  ‘Oh, this is my brother,
I forgot to introduce him. . . . ’

We presently afterwards departed; my brother talked much about the
painter.  ‘He is a noble fellow,’ said my brother; ‘but, like many other
noble fellows, has a great many enemies; he is hated by his brethren of
the brush—all the land and water scape painters hate him—but, above all,
the race of portrait-painters, who are ten times more numerous than the
other two sorts, detest him for his heroic tendencies.  It will be a kind
of triumph to the last, I fear, when they hear he has condescended to
paint a portrait; however, that Norman arch will enable him to escape
from their malice—that is a capital idea of the watchmaker, that Norman
arch.’

I spent a happy day with my brother.  On the morrow he went again to the
painter, with whom he dined; I did not go with him.  On his return he
said, ‘The painter has been asking a great many questions about you, and
expressed a wish that you would sit to him as Pharaoh; he thinks you
would make a capital Pharaoh.’  ‘I have no wish to appear on canvas,’
said I; ‘moreover he can find much better Pharaohs than myself; and, if
he wants a real Pharaoh, there is a certain Mr. Petulengro.’
‘Petulengro?’ said my brother; ‘a strange kind of fellow came up to me
some time ago in our town, and asked me about you; when I inquired his
name, he told me Petulengro.  No, he will not do, he is too short; by the
by, do you not think that figure of Moses is somewhat short?’  And then
it appeared to me that I had thought the figure of Moses somewhat short,
and I told my brother so.  ‘Ah!’ said my brother.

On the morrow my brother departed with the painter for the old town, and
there the painter painted the mayor.  I did not see the picture for a
great many years, when, chancing to be at the old town, I beheld it.

The original mayor was a mighty, portly man, with a bull’s head, black
hair, body like that of a dray horse, and legs and thighs corresponding;
a man six foot high at the least.  To his bull’s head, black hair, and
body the painter had done justice; there was one point, however, in which
the portrait did not correspond with the original—the legs were
disproportionably short, the painter having substituted his own legs for
those of the mayor, which when I perceived I rejoiced that I had not
consented to be painted as Pharaoh, for, if I had, the chances are that
he would have served me in exactly a similar way as he had served Moses
and the mayor.

Short legs in a heroic picture will never do; and, upon the whole, I
think the painter’s attempt at the heroic in painting the mayor of the
old town a decided failure.  If I am now asked whether the picture would
have been a heroic one provided the painter had not substituted his own
legs for those of the mayor—I must say, I am afraid not.  I have no idea
of making heroic pictures out of English mayors, even with the assistance
of Norman arches; yet I am sure that capital pictures might be made out
of English mayors, not issuing from Norman arches, but rather from the
door of the ‘Checquers’ or the ‘Brewers Three.’  The painter in question
had great comic power, which he scarcely ever cultivated; he would fain
be a Rafael, which he never could be, when he might have been something
quite as good—another Hogarth; the only comic piece which he ever
presented to the world being something little inferior to the best of
that illustrious master.  I have often thought what a capital picture
might have been made by my brother’s friend, if, instead of making the
mayor issue out of the Norman arch, he had painted him moving under the
sign of the ‘Checquers,’ or the ‘Three Brewers,’ with mace—yes, with
mace,—the mace appears in the picture issuing out of the Norman arch
behind the mayor,—but likewise with Snap, and with whiffler, quart pot,
and frying-pan, Billy Blind and Owlenglass, Mr. Petulengro and
Pakomovna;—then, had he clapped his own legs upon the mayor, or any one
else in the concourse, what matter?  But I repeat that I have no hope of
making heroic pictures out of English mayors, or indeed, out of English
figures in general.  England may be a land of heroic hearts, but it is
not, properly, a land of heroic figures, or heroic posture-making.  Italy
. . . what was I going to say about Italy?



CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE


NO AUTHORITY WHATEVER—INTERFERENCE—WONDROUS FARRAGO—BRANDT AND
STRUENSEE—WHAT A LIFE!—THE HEARSE—MORTAL RELICS—GREAT POET—FASHION &
FAME—A DIFFERENCE—GOOD FOR NOTHING

And now once more to my pursuits, to my Lives and Trials.  However
partial at first I might be to these lives and trials, it was not long
before they became regular trials to me, owing to the whims and caprices
of the publisher.  I had not been long connected with him before I
discovered that he was wonderfully fond of interfering with other
people’s business—at least with the business of those who were under his
control.  What a life did his unfortunate authors lead!  He had many in
his employ toiling at all kinds of subjects—I call them authors because
there is something respectable in the term author, though they had little
authorship in, and no authority whatever over, the works on which they
were engaged.  It is true the publisher interfered with some colour of
reason, the plan of all and every of the works alluded to having
originated with himself; and, be it observed, many of his plans were
highly clever and promising, for, as I have already had occasion to say,
the publisher in many points was a highly clever and sagacious person;
but he ought to have been contented with planning the works originally,
and have left to other people the task of executing them, instead of
which he marred everything by his rage for interference.  If a book of
fairy tales was being compiled, he was sure to introduce some of his
philosophy, explaining the fairy tale by some theory of his own.  Was a
book of anecdotes on hand, it was sure to be half filled with sayings and
doings of himself during the time that he was common councilman of the
City of London.  Now, however fond the public might be of fairy tales, it
by no means relished them in conjunction with the publisher’s philosophy;
and however fond of anecdotes in general, or even of the publisher in
particular—for indeed there were a great many anecdotes in circulation
about him which the public both read and listened to very readily—it took
no pleasure in such anecdotes as he was disposed to relate about himself.
In the compilation of my Lives and Trials I was exposed to incredible
mortification, and ceaseless trouble, from this same rage for
interference.  It is true he could not introduce his philosophy into the
work, nor was it possible for him to introduce anecdotes of himself,
having never had the good or evil fortune to be tried at the bar; but he
was continually introducing—what, under a less apathetic government than
the one then being, would have infallibly subjected him, and perhaps
myself, to a trial,—his politics; not his Oxford or pseudo politics, but
the politics which he really entertained, and which were of the most
republican and violent kind.  But this was not all; when about a moiety
of the first volume had been printed, he materially altered the plan of
the work; it was no longer to be a collection of mere Newgate lives and
trials, but of lives and trials of criminals in general, foreign as well
as domestic.  In a little time the work became a wondrous farrago, in
which Königsmark the robber figured by the side of Sam Lynn, and the
Marchioness de Brinvilliers was placed in contact with a Chinese outlaw.
What gave me the most trouble and annoyance was the publisher’s
remembering some life or trial, foreign or domestic, which he wished to
be inserted, and which I was forthwith to go in quest of and purchase at
my own expense: some of those lives and trials were by no means easy to
find.  ‘Where is Brandt and Struensee?’ cries the publisher; ‘I am sure I
don’t know,’ I replied; whereupon the publisher falls to squealing like
one of Joey’s rats.  ‘Find me up Brandt and Struensee by next morning,
or—’  ‘Have you found Brandt and Struensee?’ cried the publisher, on my
appearing before him next morning.  ‘No,’ I reply, ‘I can hear nothing
about them’; whereupon the publisher falls to bellowing like Joey’s bull.
By dint of incredible diligence, I at length discover the dingy volume
containing the lives and trials of the celebrated two who had brooded
treason dangerous to the state of Denmark.  I purchase the dingy volume,
and bring it in triumph to the publisher, the perspiration running down
my brow.  The publisher takes the dingy volume in his hand, he examines
it attentively, then puts it down; his countenance is calm for a moment,
almost benign.  Another moment and there is a gleam in the publisher’s
sinister eye; he snatches up the paper containing the names of the
worthies which I have intended shall figure in the forthcoming volumes—he
glances rapidly over it, and his countenance once more assumes a terrific
expression.  ‘How is this?’ he exclaims; ‘I can scarcely believe my
eyes—the most important life and trial omitted to be found in the whole
criminal record—what gross, what utter negligence!  Where’s the life of
Farmer Patch? where’s the trial of Yeoman Patch?’

‘What a life! what a dog’s life!’ I would frequently exclaim, after
escaping from the presence of the publisher.

One day, after a scene with the publisher similar to that which I have
described above, I found myself about noon at the bottom of Oxford
Street, where it forms a right angle with the road which leads or did
lead to Tottenham Court.  Happening to cast my eyes around, it suddenly
occurred to me that something uncommon was expected; people were standing
in groups on the pavement—the upstair windows of the houses were thronged
with faces, especially those of women, and many of the shops were partly,
and not a few entirely, closed.  What could be the reason of all this?
All at once I bethought me that this street of Oxford was no other than
the far-famed Tyburn way.  Oh, oh, thought I, an execution; some handsome
young robber is about to be executed at the farther end; just so, see how
earnestly the women are peering; perhaps another Harry Simms—Gentleman
Harry as they called him—is about to be carted along this street to
Tyburn tree; but then I remembered that Tyburn tree had long since been
cut down, and that criminals, whether young or old, good-looking or ugly,
were executed before the big stone gaol, which I had looked at with a
kind of shudder during my short rambles in the City.  What could be the
matter?  Just then I heard various voices cry, ‘There it comes!’ and all
heads were turned up Oxford Street, down which a hearse was slowly
coming: nearer and nearer it drew; presently it was just opposite the
place where I was standing, when, turning to the left, it proceeded
slowly along Tottenham Road; immediately behind the hearse were three or
four mourning coaches, full of people, some of whom, from the partial
glimpse which I caught of them, appeared to be foreigners; behind these
came a very long train of splendid carriages, all of which, without one
exception, were empty.

‘Whose body is in that hearse?’ said I to a dapper-looking individual,
seemingly a shopkeeper, who stood beside me on the pavement, looking at
the procession.

‘The mortal relics of Lord Byron,’ said the dapper-looking individual,
mouthing his words and smirking—‘the illustrious poet, which have been
just brought from Greece, and are being conveyed to the family vault in
---shire.’

‘An illustrious poet, was he?’ said I.

‘Beyond all criticism,’ said the dapper man; ‘all we of the rising
generation are under incalculable obligation to Byron; I myself, in
particular, have reason to say so; in all my correspondence my style is
formed on the Byronic model.’

I looked at the individual for a moment, who smiled and smirked to
himself applause, and then I turned my eyes upon the hearse proceeding
slowly up the almost endless street.  This man, this Byron, had for many
years past been the demigod of England, and his verses the daily food of
those who read, from the peer to the draper’s assistant; all were
admirers, or rather worshippers, of Byron, and all doated on his verses;
and then I thought of those who, with genius as high as his, or higher,
had lived and died neglected.  I thought of Milton abandoned to poverty
and blindness; of witty and ingenious Butler consigned to the tender
mercies of bailiffs; and starving Otway: they had lived neglected and
despised, and, when they died, a few poor mourners only had followed them
to the grave; but this Byron had been made a half god of when living, and
now that he was dead he was followed by worshipping crowds, and the very
sun seemed to come out on purpose to grace his funeral.  And, indeed, the
sun, which for many days past had hidden its face in clouds, shone out
that morn with wonderful brilliancy, flaming upon the black hearse and
its tall ostrich plumes, the mourning coaches, and the long train of
aristocratic carriages which followed behind.

‘Great poet, sir,’ said the dapper-looking man, ‘great poet, but
unhappy.’

Unhappy? yes, I had heard that he had been unhappy; that he had roamed
about a fevered, distempered man, taking pleasure in nothing—that I had
heard; but was it true? was he really unhappy? was not this unhappiness
assumed, with the view of increasing the interest which the world took in
him? and yet who could say?  He might be unhappy, and with reason.  Was
he a real poet after all? might he not doubt himself? might he not have a
lurking consciousness that he was undeserving of the homage which he was
receiving? that it could not last? that he was rather at the top of
fashion than of fame?  He was a lordling, a glittering, gorgeous
lordling: and he might have had a consciousness that he owed much of his
celebrity to being so; he might have felt that he was rather at the top
of fashion than of fame.  Fashion soon changes, thought I, eagerly to
myself—a time will come, and that speedily, when he will be no longer in
the fashion; when this idiotic admirer of his, who is still grinning at
my side, shall have ceased to mould his style on Byron’s; and this
aristocracy, squirearchy, and what not, who now send their empty
carriages to pay respect to the fashionable corpse, shall have
transferred their empty worship to some other animate or inanimate thing.
Well, perhaps after all it was better to have been mighty Milton in his
poverty and blindness—witty and ingenious Butler consigned to the tender
mercies of bailiffs, and starving Otway; they might enjoy more real
pleasure than this lordling; they must have been aware that the world
would one day do them justice—fame after death is better than the top of
fashion in life.  They have left a fame behind them which shall never
die, whilst this lordling—a time will come when he will be out of fashion
and forgotten.  And yet I don’t know; didn’t he write Childe Harold and
that ode?  Yes, he wrote Childe Harold and that ode.  Then a time will
scarcely come when he will be forgotten.  Lords, squires, and cockneys
may pass away, but a time will scarcely come when Childe Harold and that
ode will be forgotten.  He was a poet, after all, and he must have known
it; a real poet, equal to --- to --- what a destiny!  Rank, beauty,
fashion, immortality,—he could not be unhappy; what a difference in the
fate of men—I wish I could think he was unhappy . . .

I turned away.

‘Great poet, sir,’ said the dapper man, turning away too, ‘but
unhappy—fate of genius, sir, I, too, am frequently unhappy.’

Hurrying down a street to the right, I encountered Francis Ardry.

‘What means the multitude yonder?’ he demanded.

‘They are looking after the hearse which is carrying the remains of Byron
up Tottenham Road.’

‘I have seen the man,’ said my friend, as he turned back the way he had
come, ‘so I can dispense with seeing the hearse—I saw the living man at
Venice—ah, a great poet.’

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘a great poet, it must be so, everybody says so—what a
destiny!  What a difference in the fate of men; but ’tis said he was
unhappy; you have seen him, how did he look?’

‘Oh, beautiful!’

‘But did he look happy?’

‘Why, I can’t say he looked very unhappy; I saw him with two . . . very
fair ladies; but what is it to you whether the man was unhappy or not?
Come, where shall we go—to Joey’s?  His hugest bear—’

‘Oh, I have had enough of bears, I have just been worried by one.’

‘The publisher?’

‘Yes.’

‘Then come to Joey’s, three dogs are to be launched at his bear: as they
pin him, imagine him to be the publisher.’

‘No,’ said I, ‘I am good for nothing; I think I shall stroll to London
Bridge.’

‘That’s too far for me—farewell.’



CHAPTER FORTY


LONDON BRIDGE—WHY NOT?—EVERY HEART HAS ITS BITTERS—WICKED BOYS—GIVE ME MY
BOOK—A FRIGHT

So I went to London Bridge, and again took my station on the spot by the
booth where I had stood on the former occasion.  The booth, however, was
empty; neither the apple-woman nor her stall was to be seen.  I looked
over the balustrade upon the river; the tide was now, as before, rolling
beneath the arch with frightful impetuosity.  As I gazed upon the eddies
of the whirlpool, I thought within myself how soon human life would
become extinct there; a plunge, a convulsive flounder, and all would be
over.  When I last stood over that abyss I had felt a kind of impulse—a
fascination; I had resisted it—I did not plunge into it.  At present I
felt a kind of impulse to plunge; but the impulse was of a different
kind; it proceeded from a loathing of life.  I looked wistfully at the
eddies—what had I to live for?—what, indeed!  I thought of Brandt and
Struensee, and Yeoman Patch—should I yield to the impulse—why not?  My
eyes were fixed on the eddies.  All of a sudden I shuddered; I thought I
saw heads in the pool; human bodies wallowing confusedly; eyes turned up
to heaven with hopeless horror; was that water or—?  Where was the
impulse now?  I raised my eyes from the pool, I looked no more upon it—I
looked forward, far down the stream in the far distance.  Ha! what is
that?  I thought I saw a kind of Fata Morgana, green meadows, waving
groves, a rustic home; but in the far distance—I stared—I stared—a Fata
Morgana—it was gone. . . .

I left the balustrade and walked to the farther end of the bridge, where
I stood for some time contemplating the crowd; I then passed over to the
other side with an intention of returning home; just half-way over the
bridge, in a booth immediately opposite to the one in which I had
formerly beheld her, sat my friend, the old apple-woman, huddled up
behind her stall.

‘Well, mother,’ said I, ‘how are you?’  The old woman lifted her head
with a startled look.

‘Don’t you know me?’ said I.

‘Yes, I think I do.  Ah, yes,’ said she, as her features beamed with
recollection.  ‘I know you, dear; you are the young lad that gave me the
tanner.  Well, child, got anything to sell?’

‘Nothing at all,’ said I.

‘Bad luck?’

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘bad enough, and ill usage.’

‘Ah, I suppose they caught ye; well, child, never mind, better luck next
time; I am glad to see you.’

‘Thank you,’ said I, sitting down on the stone bench; ‘I thought you had
left the bridge—why have you changed your side?’

The old woman shook.

‘What is the matter with you,’ said I; ‘are you ill?’

‘No, child, no; only—’

‘Only what?  Any bad news of your son?’

‘No, child, no; nothing about my son.  Only low, child—every heart has
its bitters.’

‘That’s true,’ said I; ‘well, I don’t want to know your sorrows; come,
where’s the book?’

The apple-woman shook more violently than before, bent herself down, and
drew her cloak more closely about her than before.  ‘Book, child, what
book?’

‘Why, blessed Mary, to be sure.’

‘Oh, that; I ha’n’t got it, child—I have lost it, have left it at home.’

‘Lost it,’ said I; ‘left it at home—what do you mean?  Come, let me have
it.’

‘I ha’n’t got it, child.’

‘I believe you have got it under your cloak.’

‘Don’t tell any one, dear; don’t—don’t,’ and the apple-woman burst into
tears.

‘What’s the matter with you?’ said I, staring at her.

‘You want to take my book from me?’

‘Not I, I care nothing about it; keep it, if you like, only tell me
what’s the matter?’

‘Why, all about that book.’

‘The book?’

‘Yes, they wanted to take it from me.’

‘Who did?’

‘Why, some wicked boys.  I’ll tell you all about it.  Eight or ten days
ago, I sat behind my stall, reading my book; all of a sudden I felt it
snatched from my hand, up I started, and see three rascals of boys
grinning at me; one of them held the book in his hand.  “What book is
this?” said he, grinning at it.  “What do you want with my book?” said I,
clutching at it over my stall; “give me my book.”  “What do you want a
book for?” said he, holding it back; “I have a good mind to fling it into
the Thames.”  “Give me my book,” I shrieked; and, snatching at it, I fell
over my stall, and all my fruit was scattered about.  Off ran the
boys—off ran the rascal with my book.  Oh dear, I thought I should have
died; up I got, however, and ran after them as well as I could; I thought
of my fruit, but I thought more of my book.  I left my fruit and ran
after my book.  “My book! my book!” I shrieked, “murder! theft! robbery!”
I was near being crushed under the wheels of a cart; but I didn’t care—I
followed the rascals.  “Stop them! stop them!”  I ran nearly as fast as
they—they couldn’t run very fast on account of the crowd.  At last some
one stopped the rascal, whereupon he turned round, and flinging the book
at me, it fell into the mud; well, I picked it up and kissed it, all
muddy as it was.  “Has he robbed you?” said the man.  “Robbed me, indeed;
why he had got my book.”  “Oh, your book,” said the man, and laughed, and
let the rascal go.  Ah, he might laugh, but—’

‘Well, go on.’

‘My heart beats so.  Well, I went back to my booth and picked up my stall
and my fruits, what I could find of them.  I couldn’t keep my stall for
two days I got such a fright, and when I got round I couldn’t bide the
booth where the thing had happened, so I came over to the other side.
Oh, the rascals, if I could but see them hanged.’

‘For what?’

‘Why, for stealing my book.’

‘I thought you didn’t dislike stealing,—that you were ready to buy
things—there was your son, you know—’

‘Yes, to be sure.’

‘He took things.’

‘To be sure he did.’

‘But you don’t like a thing of yours to be taken.’

‘No, that’s quite a different thing; what’s stealing handkerchiefs, and
that kind of thing, to do with taking my book? there’s a wide
difference—don’t you see?’

‘Yes, I see.’

‘Do you, dear? well, bless your heart, I’m glad you do.  Would you like
to look at the book?’

‘Well, I think I should.’

‘Honour bright?’ said the apple-woman, looking me in the eyes.

‘Honour bright,’ said I, looking the apple-woman in the eyes.

‘Well then, dear, here it is,’ said she, taking it from under her cloak;
‘read it as long as you like, only get a little farther into the
booth—Don’t sit so near the edge—you might—’

I went deep into the booth, and the apple-woman, bringing her chair
round, almost confronted me.  I commenced reading the book, and was soon
engrossed by it; hours passed away, once or twice I lifted up my eyes,
the apple-woman was still confronting me: at last my eyes began to ache,
whereupon I returned the book to the apple-woman, and, giving her another
tanner, walked away.



CHAPTER FORTY-ONE


DECEASE OF THE REVIEW—HOMER HIMSELF—BREAD AND CHEESE—FINGER AND
THUMB—IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND—SOMETHING GRAND—UNIVERSAL MIXTURE—PUBLISHER

Time passed away, and with it the Review, which, contrary to the
publisher’s expectation, did not prove a successful speculation.  About
four months after the period of its birth it expired, as all Reviews must
for which there is no demand.  Authors had ceased to send their
publications to it, and, consequently, to purchase it; for I have already
hinted that it was almost entirely supported by authors of a particular
class, who expected to see their publications foredoomed to immortality
in its pages.  The behaviour of these authors towards this unfortunate
publication I can attribute to no other cause than to a report which was
industriously circulated, namely, that the Review was low, and that to be
reviewed in it was an infallible sign that one was a low person, who
could be reviewed nowhere else.  So authors took fright; and no wonder,
for it will never do for an author to be considered low.  Homer himself
has never yet entirely recovered from the injury he received by Lord
Chesterfield’s remark that the speeches of his heroes were frequently
exceedingly low.

So the Review ceased, and the reviewing corps no longer existed as such;
they forthwith returned to their proper avocations—the editor to compose
tunes on his piano, and to the task of disposing of the remaining copies
of his Quintilian—the inferior members to working for the publisher,
being to a man dependants of his; one, to composing fairy tales; another,
to collecting miracles of Popish saints; and a third, Newgate lives and
trials.  Owing to the bad success of the Review, the publisher became
more furious than ever.  My money was growing short, and I one day asked
him to pay me for my labours in the deceased publication.

‘Sir,’ said the publisher, ‘what do you want the money for?’

‘Merely to live on,’ I replied; ‘it is very difficult to live in this
town without money.’

‘How much money did you bring with you to town?’ demanded the publisher.

‘Some twenty or thirty pounds,’ I replied.

‘And you have spent it already?’

‘No,’ said I, ‘not entirely; but it is fast disappearing.’

‘Sir,’ said the publisher, ‘I believe you to be extravagant; yes, sir,
extravagant!’

‘On what grounds do you suppose me to be so?’

‘Sir,’ said the publisher, ‘you eat meat.’

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘I eat meat sometimes; what should I eat?’

‘Bread, sir,’ said the publisher; ‘bread and cheese.’

‘So I do, sir, when I am disposed to indulge; but I cannot often afford
it—it is very expensive to dine on bread and cheese, especially when one
is fond of cheese, as I am.  My last bread and cheese dinner cost me
fourteenpence.  There is drink, sir; with bread and cheese one must drink
porter, sir.’

‘Then, sir, eat bread—bread alone.  As good men as yourself have eaten
bread alone; they have been glad to get it, sir.  If with bread and
cheese you must drink porter, sir, with bread alone you can, perhaps,
drink water, sir.’

However, I got paid at last for my writings in the Review, not, it is
true, in the current coin of the realm, but in certain bills; there were
two of them, one payable at twelve, and the other at eighteen months
after date.  It was a long time before I could turn these bills to any
account; at last I found a person who, at a discount of only thirty per
cent, consented to cash them; not, however, without sundry grimaces, and,
what was still more galling, holding, more than once, the unfortunate
papers high in air between his forefinger and thumb.  So ill, indeed, did
I like this last action, that I felt much inclined to snatch them away.
I restrained myself, however, for I remembered that it was very difficult
to live without money, and that, if the present person did not discount
the bills, I should probably find no one else that would.

But if the treatment which I had experienced from the publisher, previous
to making this demand upon him, was difficult to bear, that which I
subsequently underwent was far more so: his great delight seemed to
consist in causing me misery and mortification; if, on former occasions,
he was continually sending me in quest of lives and trials difficult to
find, he now was continually demanding lives and trials which it was
impossible to find; the personages whom he mentioned never having lived,
nor consequently been tried.  Moreover, some of my best lives and trials
which I had corrected and edited with particular care, and on which I
prided myself no little, he caused to be cancelled after they had passed
through the press.  Amongst these was the life of ‘Gentleman Harry.’
‘They are drugs, sir,’ said the publisher, ‘drugs; that life of Harry
Simms has long been the greatest drug in the calendar—has it not,
Taggart?’

Taggart made no answer save by taking a pinch of snuff.  The reader, has,
I hope, not forgotten Taggart, whom I mentioned whilst giving an account
of my first morning’s visit to the publisher.  I beg Taggart’s pardon for
having been so long silent about him; but he was a very silent man—yet
there was much in Taggart—and Taggart had always been civil and kind to
me in his peculiar way.

‘Well, young gentleman,’ said Taggart to me one morning, when we chanced
to be alone a few days after the affair of the cancelling, ‘how do you
like authorship?’

‘I scarcely call authorship the drudgery I am engaged in,’ said I.

‘What do you call authorship?’ said Taggart.

‘I scarcely know,’ said I; ‘that is, I can scarcely express what I think
it.’

‘Shall I help you out?’ said Taggart, turning round his chair, and
looking at me.

‘If you like,’ said I.

‘To write something grand,’ said Taggart, taking snuff; ‘to be stared
at—lifted on people’s shoulders—’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘that is something like it.’

Taggart took snuff.  ‘Well,’ said he, ‘why don’t you write something
grand?’

‘I have,’ said I.

‘What?’ said Taggart.

‘Why,’ said I, ‘there are those ballads.’

Taggart took snuff.

‘And those wonderful versions from Ab Gwilym.’

Taggart took snuff again.

‘You seem to be very fond of snuff,’ said I, looking at him angrily.

Taggart tapped his box.

‘Have you taken it long?’

‘Three-and-twenty years.’

‘What snuff do you take?’

‘Universal mixture.’

‘And you find it of use?’

Taggart tapped his box.

‘In what respect?’ said I.

‘In many—there is nothing like it to get a man through; but for snuff I
should scarcely be where I am now.’

‘Have you been long here?’

‘Three-and-twenty years.’

‘Dear me,’ said I; ‘and snuff brought you through?  Give me a pinch—pah,
I don’t like it,’ and I sneezed.

‘Take another pinch,’ said Taggart.

‘No,’ said I, ‘I don’t like snuff.’

‘Then you will never do for authorship; at least for this kind.’

‘So I begin to think—what shall I do?’

Taggart took snuff.

‘You were talking of a great work—what shall it be?’

Taggart took snuff.

‘Do you think I could write one?’

Taggart uplifted his two forefingers as if to tap, he did not, however.

‘It would require time,’ said I, with a half sigh.

Taggart tapped his box.

‘A great deal of time; I really think that my ballads—’

Taggart took snuff.

‘If published, would do me credit.  I’ll make an effort, and offer them
to some other publisher.’

Taggart took a double quantity of snuff.



CHAPTER FORTY-TWO


FRANCIS ARDRY—THAT WON’T DO, SIR—OBSERVE MY GESTURES—I THINK YOU
IMPROVE—BETTER THAN POLITICS—DELIGHTFUL YOUNG FRENCHWOMAN—A BURNING
SHAME—PAUNCH—VOLTAIRE—LUMP OF SUGAR

Occasionally I called on Francis Ardry.  This young gentleman resided in
handsome apartments in the neighbourhood of a fashionable square, kept a
livery servant, and, upon the whole, lived in very good style.  Going to
see him one day, between one and two, I was informed by the servant that
his master was engaged for the moment, but that, if I pleased to wait a
few minutes, I should find him at liberty.  Having told the man that I
had no objection, he conducted me into a small apartment which served as
antechamber to a drawing-room; the door of this last being half open, I
could see Francis Ardry at the farther end, speechifying and
gesticulating in a very impressive manner.  The servant, in some
confusion, was hastening to close the door; but, ere he could effect his
purpose, Francis Ardry, who had caught a glimpse of me, exclaimed, ‘Come
in—come in by all means’; and then proceeded, as before, speechifying and
gesticulating.  Filled with some surprise, I obeyed his summons.

On entering the room I perceived another individual, to whom Francis
Ardry appeared to be addressing himself; this other was a short spare man
of about sixty; his hair was of badger grey, and his face was covered
with wrinkles—without vouchsafing me a look, he kept his eye, which was
black and lustrous, fixed full on Francis Ardry, as if paying the deepest
attention to his discourse.  All of a sudden, however, he cried with a
sharp, cracked voice, ‘That won’t do, sir; that won’t do—more
vehemence—your argument is at present particularly weak; therefore, more
vehemence—you must confuse them, stun them, stultify them, sir’; and, at
each of these injunctions, he struck the back of his right hand sharply
against the palm of the left.  ‘Good, sir—good!’ he occasionally uttered,
in the same sharp, cracked tone, as the voice of Francis Ardry became
more and more vehement.  ‘Infinitely good!’ he exclaimed, as Francis
Ardry raised his voice to the highest pitch; ‘and now, sir, abate; let
the tempest of vehemence decline—gradually, sir; not too fast.  Good,
sir—very good!’ as the voice of Francis Ardry declined gradually in
vehemence.  ‘And now a little pathos, sir—try them with a little pathos.
That won’t do, sir—that won’t do,’—as Francis Ardry made an attempt to
become pathetic,—‘that will never pass for pathos—with tones and gesture
of that description you will never redress the wrongs of your country.
Now, sir, observe my gestures, and pay attention to the tone of my voice,
sir.’

Thereupon, making use of nearly the same terms which Francis Ardry had
employed, the individual in black uttered several sentences in tones and
with gestures which were intended to express a considerable degree of
pathos, though it is possible that some people would have thought both
the one and the other highly ludicrous.  After a pause, Francis Ardry
recommenced imitating the tones and the gestures of his monitor in the
most admirable manner.  Before he had proceeded far, however, he burst
into a fit of laughter, in which I should, perhaps, have joined, provided
it were ever my wont to laugh.  ‘Ha, ha!’ said the other,
good-humouredly, ‘you are laughing at me.  Well, well, I merely wished to
give you a hint; but you saw very well what I meant; upon the whole I
think you improve.  But I must now go, having two other pupils to visit
before four.’

Then taking from the table a kind of three-cornered hat, and a cane
headed with amber, he shook Francis Ardry by the hand; and, after
glancing at me for a moment, made me a half bow, attended with a strange
grimace, and departed.

‘Who is that gentleman?’ said I to Francis Ardry, as soon as we were
alone.

‘Oh, that is ---’ said Frank, smiling, ‘the gentleman who gives me
lessons in elocution.’

‘And what need have you of elocution?’

‘Oh, I merely obey the commands of my guardians,’ said Francis, ‘who
insist that I should, with the assistance of ---, qualify myself for
Parliament; for which they do me the honour to suppose that I have some
natural talent.  I dare not disobey them; for, at the present moment, I
have particular reasons for wishing to keep on good terms with them.’

‘But,’ said I, ‘you are a Roman Catholic; and I thought that persons of
your religion were excluded from Parliament?’

‘Why, upon that very thing the whole matter hinges; people of our
religion are determined to be no longer excluded from Parliament, but to
have a share in the government of the nation.  Not that I care anything
about the matter; I merely obey the will of my guardians; my thoughts are
fixed on something better than politics.’

‘I understand you,’ said I; ‘dog-fighting—well, I can easily conceive
that to some minds dog-fighting—’

‘I was not thinking of dog-fighting,’ said Francis Ardry, interrupting
me.

‘Not thinking of dog-fighting!’ I ejaculated.

‘No,’ said Francis Ardry, ‘something higher and much more rational than
dog-fighting at present occupies my thoughts.’

‘Dear me,’ said I, ‘I thought I had heard you say that there was nothing
like it!’

‘Like what?’ said Francis Ardry.

‘Dog-fighting, to be sure,’ said I.

‘Pooh,’ said Francis Ardry; ‘who but the gross and unrefined care
anything for dog-fighting?  That which at present engages my waking and
sleeping thoughts is love—divine love—there is nothing like _that_.
Listen to me, I have a secret to confide to you.’

And then Francis Ardry proceeded to make me his confidant.  It appeared
that he had had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of the most
delightful young Frenchwoman imaginable, Annette La Noire by name, who
had just arrived from her native country with the intention of obtaining
the situation of governess in some English family; a position which, on
account of her many accomplishments, she was eminently qualified to fill.
Francis Ardry had, however, persuaded her to relinquish her intention for
the present, on the ground that, until she had become acclimated in
England, her health would probably suffer from the confinement
inseparable from the occupation in which she was desirous of engaging; he
had, moreover—for it appeared that she was the most frank and confiding
creature in the world—succeeded in persuading her to permit him to hire
for her a very handsome first floor in his own neighbourhood, and to
accept a few inconsiderable presents in money and jewellery.  ‘I am
looking out for a handsome gig and horse,’ said Francis Ardry, at the
conclusion of his narration: ‘it were a burning shame that so divine a
creature should have to go about a place like London on foot, or in a
paltry hackney coach.’

‘But,’ said I, ‘will not the pursuit of politics prevent your devoting
much time to this fair lady?’

‘It will prevent me devoting all my time,’ said Francis Ardry, ‘as I
gladly would; but what can I do?  My guardians wish me to qualify myself
for a political orator, and I dare not offend them by a refusal.  If I
offend my guardians, I should find it impossible—unless I have recourse
to Jews and money-lenders—to support Annette; present her with articles
of dress and jewellery, and purchase a horse and cabriolet worthy of
conveying her angelic person through the streets of London.’

After a pause, in which Francis Ardry appeared lost in thought, his mind
being probably occupied with the subject of Annette, I broke silence by
observing, ‘So your fellow-religionists are really going to make a
serious attempt to procure their emancipation?’

‘Yes,’ said Francis Ardry, starting from his reverie; ‘everything has
been arranged; even a leader has been chosen, at least for us of Ireland,
upon the whole the most suitable man in the world for the occasion—a
barrister of considerable talent, mighty voice, and magnificent
impudence.  With emancipation, liberty, and redress for the wrongs of
Ireland in his mouth, he is to force his way into the British House of
Commons, dragging myself and others behind him—he will succeed, and when
he is in he will cut a figure; I have heard --- himself, who has heard
him speak, say that he will cut a figure.’

‘And is --- competent to judge?’ I demanded.

‘Who but he?’ said Francis Ardry; ‘no one questions his judgment
concerning what relates to elocution.  His fame on that point is so well
established, that the greatest orators do not disdain occasionally to
consult him; C--- himself, as I have been told, when anxious to produce
any particular effect in the House, is in the habit of calling in --- for
a consultation.’

‘As to matter, or manner?’ said I.

‘Chiefly the latter,’ said Francis Ardry, ‘though he is competent to give
advice as to both, for he has been an orator in his day, and a leader of
the people; though he confessed to me that he was not exactly qualified
to play the latter part—“I want paunch,” said he.’

‘It is not always indispensable,’ said I; ‘there is an orator in my town,
a hunchback and watchmaker, without it, who not only leads the people,
but the mayor too; perhaps he has a succedaneum in his hunch: but, tell
me, is the leader of your movement in possession of that which ---
wants?’

‘No more deficient in it than in brass,’ said Francis Ardry.

‘Well,’ said I, ‘whatever his qualifications may be, I wish him success
in the cause which he has taken up—I love religious liberty.’

‘We shall succeed,’ said Francis Ardry; ‘John Bull upon the whole is
rather indifferent on the subject, and then we are sure to be backed by
the Radical party, who, to gratify their political prejudices, would join
with Satan himself.’

‘There is one thing,’ said I, ‘connected with this matter which surprises
me—your own lukewarmness.  Yes, making every allowance for your natural
predilection for dog-fighting, and your present enamoured state of mind,
your apathy at the commencement of such a movement is to me
unaccountable.’

‘You would not have cause to complain of my indifference,’ said Frank,
‘provided I thought my country would be benefited by this movement; but I
happen to know the origin of it.  The priests are the originators, ‘and
what country was ever benefited by a movement which owed its origin to
them?’ so says Voltaire, a page of whom I occasionally read.  By the
present move they hope to increase their influence, and to further
certain designs which they entertain both with regard to this country and
Ireland.  I do not speak rashly or unadvisedly.  A strange fellow—a
half-Italian, half-English priest,—who was recommended to me by my
guardians, partly as a spiritual, partly as a temporal guide, has let me
into a secret or two; he is fond of a glass of gin and water—and over a
glass of gin and water cold, with a lump of sugar in it, he has been more
communicative, perhaps, than was altogether prudent.  Were I my own
master, I would kick him, politics, and religious movements, to a
considerable distance.  And now, if you are going away, do so quickly; I
have an appointment with Annette, and must make myself fit to appear
before her.’



CHAPTER FORTY-THREE


PROGRESS—GLORIOUS JOHN—UTTERLY UNINTELLIGIBLE

By the month of October I had, in spite of all difficulties and
obstacles, accomplished about two-thirds of the principal task which I
had undertaken, the compiling of the Newgate lives; I had also made some
progress in translating the publisher’s philosophy into German.  But
about this time I began to see very clearly that it was impossible that
our connection should prove of long duration; yet, in the event of my
leaving the big man, what other resource had I—another publisher?  But
what had I to offer?  There were my ballads, my Ab Gwilym, but then I
thought of Taggart and his snuff, his pinch of snuff.  However, I
determined to see what could be done, so I took my ballads under my arm,
and went to various publishers; some took snuff, others did not, but none
took my ballads or Ab Gwilym, they would not even look at them.  One
asked me if I had anything else—he was a snuff-taker—I said yes; and
going home, returned with my translation of the German novel, to which I
have before alluded.  After keeping it for a fortnight, he returned it to
me on my visiting him, and, taking a pinch of snuff, told me it would not
do.  There were marks of snuff on the outside of the manuscript, which
was a roll of paper bound with red tape, but there were no marks of snuff
on the interior of the manuscript, from which I concluded that he had
never opened it.

I had often heard of one Glorious John, who lived at the western end of
the town; on consulting Taggart, he told me that it was possible that
Glorious John would publish my ballads and Ab Gwilym, that is, said he,
taking a pinch of snuff, provided you can see him; so I went to the house
where Glorious John resided, and a glorious house it was, but I could not
see Glorious John—I called a dozen times, but I never could see Glorious
John.  Twenty years after, by the greatest chance in the world, I saw
Glorious John, and sure enough Glorious John published my books, but they
were different books from the first; I never offered my ballads or Ab
Gwilym to Glorious John.  Glorious John was no snuff-taker.  He asked me
to dinner, and treated me with superb Rhenish wine.  Glorious John is now
gone to his rest, but I—what was I going to say?—the world will never
forget Glorious John.

So I returned to my last resource for the time then being—to the
publisher, persevering doggedly in my labour.  One day, on visiting the
publisher, I found him stamping with fury upon certain fragments of
paper.  ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘you know nothing of German; I have shown your
translation of the first chapter of my Philosophy to several Germans: it
is utterly unintelligible to them.’  ‘Did they see the Philosophy?’ I
replied.  ‘They did, sir, but they did not profess to understand
English.’  ‘No more do I,’ I replied, ‘if that Philosophy be English.’

The publisher was furious—I was silent.  For want of a pinch of snuff, I
had recourse to something which is no bad substitute for a pinch of
snuff, to those who can’t take it, silent contempt; at first it made the
publisher more furious, as perhaps a pinch of snuff would; it, however,
eventually calmed him, and he ordered me back to my occupations, in other
words, the compilation.  To be brief, the compilation was completed, I
got paid in the usual manner, and forthwith left him.

He was a clever man, but what a difference in clever men!



CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR


THE OLD SPOT—A LONG HISTORY—THOU SHALT NOT STEAL—NO
HARM—EDUCATION—NECESSITY—FOAM ON YOUR LIP—METAPHOR—FUR CAP—I DON’T KNOW
HIM

It was past midwinter, and I sat on London Bridge, in company with the
old apple-woman: she has just returned to the other side of the bridge,
to her place in the booth where I had originally found her.  This she had
done after frequent conversations with me; ‘she liked the old place
best,’ she said, which she would never have left but for the terror which
she experienced when the boys ran away with her book.  So I sat with her
at the old spot, one afternoon past midwinter, reading the book, of which
I had by this time come to the last pages.  I had observed that the old
woman for some time past had shown much less anxiety about the book than
she had been in the habit of doing.  I was, however, not quite prepared
for her offering to make me a present of it, which she did that
afternoon; when, having finished it, I returned it to her, with many
thanks for the pleasure and instruction I had derived from its perusal.
‘You may keep it, dear,’ said the old woman, with a sigh; ‘you may carry
it to your lodging, and keep it for your own.’

Looking at the old woman with surprise, I exclaimed, ‘Is it possible that
you are willing to part with the book which has been your source of
comfort so long?’

Whereupon the old woman entered into a long history, from which I
gathered that the book had become distasteful to her; she hardly ever
opened it of late, she said, or if she did, it was only to shut it again;
also, that other things which she had been fond of, though of a widely
different kind, were now distasteful to her.  Porter and beef-steaks were
no longer grateful to her palate, her present diet chiefly consisting of
tea, and bread and butter.

‘Ah,’ said I, ‘you have been ill, and when people are ill, they seldom
like the things which give them pleasure when they are in health.’  I
learned, moreover, that she slept little at night, and had all kinds of
strange thoughts; that as she lay awake many things connected with her
youth, which she had quite forgotten, came into her mind.  There were
certain words that came into her mind the night before the last, which
were continually humming in her ears: I found that the words were, ‘Thou
shalt not steal.’

On inquiring where she had first heard these words, I learned that she
had read them at school, in a book called the primer; to this school she
had been sent by her mother, who was a poor widow, and followed the trade
of apple-selling in the very spot where her daughter followed it now.  It
seems that the mother was a very good kind of woman, but quite ignorant
of letters, the benefit of which she was willing to procure for her
child; and at the school the daughter learned to read, and subsequently
experienced the pleasure and benefit of letters, in being able to read
the book which she found in an obscure closet of her mother’s house, and
which had been her principal companion and comfort for many years of her
life.

But, as I have said before, she was now dissatisfied with the book, and
with most other things in which she had taken pleasure; she dwelt much on
the words, ‘Thou shalt not steal’; she had never stolen things herself,
but then she had bought things which other people had stolen, and which
she knew had been stolen; and her dear son had been a thief, which he
perhaps would not have been but for the example which she set him in
buying things from characters, as she called them, who associated with
her.

On inquiring how she had become acquainted with these characters, I
learned that times had gone hard with her; that she had married, but her
husband had died after a long sickness, which had reduced them to great
distress; that her fruit trade was not a profitable one, and that she had
bought and sold things which had been stolen to support herself and her
son.  That for a long time she supposed there was no harm in doing so, as
her book was full of entertaining tales of stealing; but she now thought
that the book was a bad book, and that learning to read was a bad thing;
her mother had never been able to read, but had died in peace, though
poor.

So here was a woman who attributed the vices and follies of her life to
being able to read; her mother, she said, who could not read, lived
respectably, and died in peace; and what was the essential difference
between the mother and daughter, save that the latter could read?  But
for her literature she might in all probability have lived respectably
and honestly, like her mother, and might eventually have died in peace,
which at present she could scarcely hope to do.  Education had failed to
produce any good in this poor woman; on the contrary, there could be
little doubt that she had been injured by it.  Then was education a bad
thing?  Rousseau was of opinion that it was; but Rousseau was a
Frenchman, at least wrote in French, and I cared not the snap of my
fingers for Rousseau.  But education has certainly been of benefit in
some instances; well, what did that prove, but that partiality existed in
the management of the affairs of the world—if education was a benefit to
some, why was it not a benefit to others?  Could some avoid abusing it,
any more than others could avoid turning it to a profitable account?  I
did not see how they could; this poor simple woman found a book in her
mother’s closet; a book, which was a capital book for those who could
turn it to the account for which it was intended; a book, from the
perusal of which I felt myself wiser and better, but which was by no
means suited to the intellect of this poor simple woman, who thought that
it was written in praise of thieving; yet she found it, she read it,
and—and—I felt myself getting into a maze; what is right, thought I? what
is wrong?  Do I exist?  Does the world exist? if it does, every action is
bound up with necessity.

‘Necessity!’ I exclaimed, and cracked my finger-joints.

‘Ah, it is a bad thing,’ said the old woman.

‘What is a bad thing?’ said I.

‘Why to be poor, dear.’

‘You talk like a fool,’ said I, ‘riches and poverty are only different
forms of necessity.’

‘You should not call me a fool, dear; you should not call your own mother
a fool.’

‘You are not my mother,’ said I.

‘Not your mother, dear?—no, no more I am; but your calling me fool put me
in mind of my dear son, who often used to call me fool—and you just now
looked as he sometimes did, with a blob of foam on your lip.’

‘After all, I don’t know that you are not my mother.’

‘Don’t you, dear?  I’m glad of it; I wish you would make it out.’

‘How should I make it out? who can speak from his own knowledge as to the
circumstances of his birth?  Besides, before attempting to establish our
relationship, it would be necessary to prove that such people exist.’

‘What people, dear?’

‘You and I.’

‘Lord, child, you are mad; that book has made you so.’

‘Don’t abuse it,’ said I; ‘the book is an excellent one, that is,
provided it exists.’

‘I wish it did not,’ said the old woman; ‘but it shan’t long; I’ll burn
it, or fling it into the river—the voices at night tell me to do so.’

‘Tell the voices,’ said I, ‘that they talk nonsense; the book, if it
exists, is a good book, it contains a deep moral; have you read it all?’

‘All the funny parts, dear; all about taking things, and the manner it
was done; as for the rest, I could not exactly make it out.’

‘Then the book is not to blame; I repeat that the book is a good book,
and contains deep morality, always supposing that there is such a thing
as morality, which is the same thing as supposing that there is anything
at all.’

‘Anything at all!  Why ain’t we here on this bridge, in my booth, with my
stall and my—’

‘Apples and pears, baked hot, you would say—I don’t know; all is a
mystery, a deep question.  It is a question, and probably always will be,
whether there is a world, and consequently apples and pears; and,
provided there be a world, whether that world be like an apple or a
pear.’

‘Don’t talk so, dear.’

‘I won’t; we will suppose that we all exist—world, ourselves, apples, and
pears: so you wish to get rid of the book?’

‘Yes, dear, I wish you would take it.’

‘I have read it, and have no further use for it; I do not need books: in
a little time, perhaps, I shall not have a place wherein to deposit
myself, far less books.’

‘Then I will fling it into the river.’

‘Don’t do that; here, give it me.  Now what shall I do with it? you were
so fond of it.’

‘I am so no longer.’

‘But how will you pass your time; what will you read?’

‘I wish I had never learned to read, or, if I had, that I had only read
the books I saw at school: the primer or the other.’

‘What was the other?’

‘I think they called it the Bible: all about God, and Job, and Jesus.’

‘Ah, I know it.’

‘You have read it; is it a nice book—all true?’

‘True, true—I don’t know what to say; but if the world be true, and not
all a lie, a fiction, I don’t see why the Bible, as they call it, should
not be true.  By the by, what do you call Bible in your tongue, or,
indeed, book of any kind? as Bible merely means a book.’

‘What do I call the Bible in my language, dear?’

‘Yes, the language of those who bring you things.’

‘The language of those who _did_, dear; they bring them now no longer.
They call me fool, as you did, dear, just now; they call kissing the
Bible, which means taking a false oath, smacking calf-skin.’

‘That’s metaphor,’ said I; ‘English, but metaphorical; what an odd
language!  So you would like to have a Bible,—shall I buy you one?’

‘I am poor, dear—no money since I left off the other trade.’

‘Well, then, I’ll buy you one.’

‘No, dear, no; you are poor, and may soon want the money; but if you can
take me one conveniently on the sly, you know—I think you may, for, as it
is a good book, I suppose there can be no harm in taking it.’

‘That will never do,’ said I, ‘more especially as I should be sure to be
caught, not having made taking of things my trade; but I’ll tell you what
I’ll do—try and exchange this book of yours for a Bible; who knows for
what great things this same book of yours may serve?’

‘Well, dear,’ said the old woman, ‘do as you please; I should like to see
the—what do you call it?—Bible, and to read it, as you seem to think it
true.’

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘seem; that is the way to express yourself in this maze of
doubt—I seem to think—these apples and pears seem to be—and here seems to
be a gentleman who wants to purchase either one or the other.’

A person had stopped before the apple-woman’s stall, and was glancing now
at the fruit, now at the old woman and myself; he wore a blue mantle, and
had a kind of fur cap on his head; he was somewhat above the middle
stature; his features were keen, but rather hard; there was a slight
obliquity in his vision.  Selecting a small apple, he gave the old woman
a penny; then, after looking at me scrutinisingly for a moment, he moved
from the booth in the direction of Southwark.

‘Do you know who that man is?’ said I to the old woman.

‘No,’ said she, ‘except that he is one of my best customers: he
frequently stops, takes an apple, and gives me a penny; his is the only
piece of money I have taken this blessed day.  I don’t know him, but he
has once or twice sat down in the booth with two strange-looking
men—Mulattos, or Lascars, I think they call them.’



CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE


BOUGHT AND EXCHANGED—QUITE EMPTY—A NEW FIRM—BIBLES—COUNTENANCE OF A
LION—CLAP OF THUNDER—LOST IT—CLEARLY A RIGHT—GODDESS OF THE MINT

In pursuance of my promise to the old woman, I set about procuring her a
Bible with all convenient speed, placing the book which she had entrusted
to me for the purpose of exchange in my pocket.  I went to several shops,
and asked if Bibles were to be had: I found that there were plenty.
When, however, I informed the people that I came to barter, they looked
blank, and declined treating with me; saying that they did not do
business in that way.  At last I went into a shop over the window of
which I saw written, ‘Books bought and exchanged’: there was a smartish
young fellow in the shop, with black hair and whiskers; ‘You exchange?’
said I.  ‘Yes,’ said he, ‘sometimes, but we prefer selling; what book do
you want?’  ‘A Bible,’ said I.  ‘Ah,’ said he, ‘there’s a great demand
for Bibles just now; all kinds of people are become very pious of late,’
he added, grinning at me; ‘I am afraid I can’t do business with you, more
especially as the master is not at home.  What book have you brought?’
Taking the book out of my pocket, I placed it on the counter: the young
fellow opened the book, and inspecting the title-page, burst into a loud
laugh.  ‘What do you laugh for?’ said I angrily, and half clenching my
fist.  ‘Laugh!’ said the young fellow; ‘laugh! who could help laughing?’
‘I could,’ said I; ‘I see nothing to laugh at; I want to exchange this
book for a Bible.’  ‘You do?’ said the young fellow; ‘well, I daresay
there are plenty who would be willing to exchange, that is, if they
dared.  I wish master were at home; but that would never do, either.
Master’s a family man, the Bibles are not mine, and master being a family
man, is sharp, and knows all his stock; I’d buy it of you, but, to tell
you the truth, I am quite empty here,’ said he, pointing to his pocket,
‘so I am afraid we can’t deal.’

Whereupon, looking anxiously at the young man, ‘What am I to do?’ said I;
‘I really want a Bible.’

‘Can’t you buy one?’ said the young man; ‘have you no money?’

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘I have some, but I am merely the agent of another; I came
to exchange, not to buy; what am I to do?’

‘I don’t know,’ said the young man, thoughtfully laying down the book on
the counter; ‘I don’t know what you can do; I think you will find some
difficulty in this bartering job, the trade are rather precise.’  All at
once he laughed louder than before; suddenly stopping, however, he put on
a very grave look.  ‘Take my advice,’ said he; ‘there is a firm
established in this neighbourhood which scarcely sells any books but
Bibles; they are very rich, and pride themselves on selling their books
at the lowest possible price; apply to them, who knows but what they will
exchange with you?’

Thereupon I demanded with some eagerness of the young man the direction
to the place where he thought it possible that I might effect the
exchange—which direction the young fellow cheerfully gave me, and, as I
turned away, had the civility to wish me success.

I had no difficulty in finding the house to which the young fellow
directed me; it was a very large house, situated in a square; and upon
the side of the house was written in large letters, ‘Bibles, and other
religious books.’

At the door of the house were two or three tumbrils, in the act of being
loaded with chests, very much resembling tea-chests; one of the chests
falling down, burst, and out flew, not tea, but various books, in a neat,
small size, and in neat leather covers; Bibles, said I,—Bibles,
doubtless.  I was not quite right, nor quite wrong; picking up one of the
books, I looked at it for a moment, and found it to be the New Testament.
‘Come, young lad,’ said a man who stood by, in the dress of a porter,
‘put that book down, it is none of yours; if you want a book, go in and
deal for one.’

Deal, thought I, deal,—the man seems to know what I am coming about,—and
going in, I presently found myself in a very large room.  Behind a
counter two men stood with their backs to a splendid fire, warming
themselves, for the weather was cold.

Of these men one was dressed in brown, and the other was dressed in
black; both were tall men—he who was dressed in brown was thin, and had a
particularly ill-natured countenance; the man dressed in black was bulky,
his features were noble, but they were those of a lion.

‘What is your business, young man?’ said the precise personage, as I
stood staring at him and his companion.

‘I want a Bible,’ said I.

‘What price, what size?’ said the precise-looking man.

‘As to size,’ said I, ‘I should like to have a large one—that is, if you
can afford me one—I do not come to buy.’

‘Oh, friend,’ said the precise-looking man, ‘if you come here expecting
to have a Bible for nothing, you are mistaken—we—’

‘I would scorn to have a Bible for nothing,’ said I, ‘or anything else; I
came not to beg, but to barter; there is no shame in that, especially in
a country like this, where all folks barter.’

‘Oh, we don’t barter,’ said the precise man, ‘at least Bibles; you had
better depart.’

‘Stay, brother,’ said the man with the countenance of a lion, ‘let us ask
a few questions; this may be a very important case; perhaps the young man
has had convictions.’

‘Not I,’ I exclaimed, ‘I am convinced of nothing, and with regard to the
Bible—I don’t believe—’

‘Hey!’ said the man with the lion countenance, and there he stopped.  But
with that ‘Hey’ the walls of the house seemed to shake, the windows
rattled, and the porter whom I had seen in front of the house came
running up the steps, and looked into the apartment through the glass of
the door.

There was silence for about a minute—the same kind of silence which
succeeds a clap of thunder.

At last the man with the lion countenance, who had kept his eyes fixed
upon me, said calmly, ‘Were you about to say that you don’t believe in
the Bible, young man?’

‘No more than in anything else,’ said I; ‘you were talking of
convictions—I have no convictions.  It is not easy to believe in the
Bible till one is convinced that there is a Bible.’

‘He seems to be insane,’ said the prim-looking man; ‘we had better order
the porter to turn him out.’

‘I am by no means certain,’ said I, ‘that the porter could turn me out;
always provided there is a porter, and this system of ours be not a lie,
and a dream.’

‘Come,’ said the lion-looking man, impatiently, ‘a truce with this
nonsense.  If the porter cannot turn you out, perhaps some other person
can; but to the point—you want a Bible?’

‘I do,’ said I, ‘but not for myself; I was sent by another person to
offer something in exchange for one.’

‘And who is that person?’

‘A poor old woman, who has had what you call convictions,—heard voices,
or thought she heard them—I forgot to ask her whether they were loud
ones.’

‘What has she sent to offer in exchange?’ said the man, without taking
any notice of the concluding part of my speech.

‘A book,’ said I.

‘Let me see it.’

‘Nay, brother,’ said the precise man, ‘this will never do; if we once
adopt the system of barter, we shall have all the holders of useless
rubbish in the town applying to us.’

‘I wish to see what he has brought,’ said the other; ‘perhaps Baxter, or
Jewell’s _Apology_, either of which would make a valuable addition to our
collection.  Well, young man, what’s the matter with you?’

I stood like one petrified; I had put my hand into my pocket—the book was
gone.

‘What’s the matter?’ repeated the man with the lion countenance, in a
voice very much resembling thunder.

‘I have it not—I have lost it!’

‘A pretty story, truly,’ said the precise-looking man, ‘lost it!’

‘You had better retire,’ said the other.

‘How shall I appear before the party who entrusted me with the book?  She
will certainly think that I have purloined it, notwithstanding all I can
say; nor, indeed, can I blame her,—appearances are certainly against me.’

‘They are so—you had better retire.’

I moved towards the door.  ‘Stay, young man, one word more; there is only
one way of proceeding which would induce me to believe that you are
sincere.’

‘What is that?’ said I, stopping and looking at him anxiously.

‘The purchase of a Bible.’

‘Purchase!’ said I, ‘purchase!  I came not to purchase, but to barter;
such was my instruction, and how can I barter if I have lost the book?’

The other made no answer, and turning away I made for the door; all of a
sudden I started, and turning round, ‘Dear me,’ said I, ‘it has just come
into my head, that if the book was lost by my negligence, as it must have
been, I have clearly a right to make it good.’

No answer.

‘Yes,’ I repeated, ‘I have clearly a right to make it good; how glad I
am! see the effect of a little reflection.  I will purchase a Bible
instantly, that is, if I have not lost—’ and with considerable agitation
I felt in my pocket.

The prim-looking man smiled: ‘I suppose,’ said he, ‘that he has lost his
money as well as book.’

‘No,’ said I, ‘I have not’; and pulling out my hand I displayed no less a
sum than three half-crowns.

‘Oh, noble goddess of the Mint!’ as Dame Charlotta Nordenflycht, the
Swede, said a hundred and fifty years ago, ‘great is thy power; how
energetically the possession of thee speaks in favour of man’s
character!’

‘Only half-a-crown for this Bible?’ said I, putting down the money, ‘it
is worth three’; and bowing to the man of the noble features, I departed
with my purchase.

‘Queer customer,’ said the prim-looking man, as I was about to close the
door—‘don’t like him.’

‘Why, as to that, I scarcely know what to say,’ said he of the
countenance of a lion.



CHAPTER FORTY-SIX


THE PICKPOCKET—STRANGE RENCOUNTER—DRAG HIM ALONG—A GREAT SERVICE—THINGS
OF IMPORTANCE—PHILOLOGICAL MATTERS—A MOTHER OF LANGUAGES

A few days after the occurrence of what is recorded in the last chapter,
as I was wandering in the City, chance directed my footsteps to an alley
leading from one narrow street to another in the neighbourhood of
Cheapside.  Just before I reached the mouth of the alley, a man in a
greatcoat, closely followed by another, passed it; and, at the moment in
which they were passing, I observed the man behind snatch something from
the pocket of the other; whereupon, darting into the street, I seized the
hindermost man by the collar, crying at the same time to the other, ‘My
good friend, this person has just picked your pocket.’

The individual whom I addressed, turning round with a start, glanced at
me, and then at the person whom I held.  London is the place for strange
encounters.  It appeared to me that I recognised both individuals—the man
whose pocket had been picked and the other; the latter now began to
struggle violently; ‘I have picked no one’s pocket,’ said he.  ‘Rascal,’
said the other, ‘you have got my pocket-book in your bosom.’  ‘No, I have
not,’ said the other; and, struggling more violently than before, the
pocket-book dropped from his bosom upon the ground.

The other was now about to lay hands upon the fellow, who was still
struggling.  ‘You had better take up your book,’ said I; ‘I can hold
him.’  He followed my advice; and, taking up his pocket-book, surveyed my
prisoner with a ferocious look, occasionally glaring at me.  Yes, I had
seen him before—it was the stranger whom I had observed on London Bridge,
by the stall of the old apple-woman, with the cap and cloak; but, instead
of these, he now wore a hat and greatcoat.  ‘Well,’ said I, at last,
‘what am I to do with this gentleman of ours?’ nodding to the prisoner,
who had now left off struggling.  ‘Shall I let him go?’

‘Go!’ said the other; ‘go!  The knave—the rascal; let him go, indeed!
Not so, he shall go before the Lord Mayor.  Bring him along.’

‘Oh, let me go,’ said the other: ‘let me go; this is the first offence, I
assure ye—the first time I ever thought to do anything wrong.’

‘Hold your tongue,’ said I, ‘or I shall be angry with you.  If I am not
very much mistaken, you once attempted to cheat me.’

‘I never saw you before in all my life,’ said the fellow, though his
countenance seemed to belie his words.

‘That is not true,’ said I; ‘you are the man who attempted to cheat me of
one-and-ninepence in the coach-yard, on the first morning of my arrival
in London.’

‘I don’t doubt it,’ said the other; ‘a confirmed thief’; and here his
tones became peculiarly sharp; ‘I would fain see him hanged—crucified.
Drag him along.’

‘I am no constable,’ said I; ‘you have got your pocket-book,—I would
rather you would bid me let him go.’

‘Bid you let him go!’ said the other almost furiously, ‘I command—stay,
what was I going to say?  I was forgetting myself,’ he observed more
gently; ‘but he stole my pocket-book;—if you did but know what it
contained.’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘if it contains anything valuable, be the more thankful
that you have recovered it; as for the man, I will help you to take him
where you please; but I wish you would let him go.’

The stranger hesitated, and there was an extraordinary play of emotion in
his features: he looked ferociously at the pickpocket, and, more than
once, somewhat suspiciously at myself; at last his countenance cleared,
and, with a good grace, he said, ‘Well, you have done me a great service,
and you have my consent to let him go; but the rascal shall not escape
with impunity,’ he exclaimed suddenly, as I let the man go, and starting
forward, before the fellow could escape, he struck him a violent blow on
the face.  The man staggered, and had nearly fallen; recovering himself,
however, he said, ‘I tell you what, my fellow; if I ever meet you in this
street in a dark night, and I have a knife about me, it shall be the
worse for you; as for you, young man,’ said he to me; but, observing that
the other was making towards him, he left whatever he was about to say
unfinished, and, taking to his heels, was out of sight in a moment.

The stranger and myself walked in the direction of Cheapside, the way in
which he had been originally proceeding; he was silent for a few moments,
at length he said, ‘You have really done me a great service, and I should
be ungrateful not to acknowledge it.  I am a merchant; and a merchant’s
pocket-book, as you perhaps know, contains many things of importance;
but, young man,’ he exclaimed, ‘I think I have seen you before; I thought
so at first, but where I cannot exactly say: where was it?’  I mentioned
London Bridge and the old apple-woman.  ‘Oh,’ said he, and smiled, and
there was something peculiar in his smile, ‘I remember now.  Do you
frequently sit on London Bridge?’  ‘Occasionally,’ said I: ‘that old
woman is an old friend of mine.’  ‘Friend?’ said the stranger, ‘I am glad
of it, for I shall know where to find you.  At present I am going to
‘Change; time, you know, is precious to a merchant.’  We were by this
time close to Cheapside.  ‘Farewell,’ said he, ‘I shall not forget this
service.  I trust we shall soon meet again.’  He then shook me by the
hand and went his way.

The next day, as I was seated beside the old woman in the booth, the
stranger again made his appearance, and, after a word or two, sat down
beside me; the old woman was sometimes reading the Bible, which she had
already had two or three days in her possession, and sometimes
discoursing with me.  Our discourse rolled chiefly on philological
matters.

‘What do you call bread in your language?’ said I.

‘You mean the language of those who bring me things to buy, or who did;
for, as I told you before, I shan’t buy any more; it’s no language of
mine, dear—they call bread pannam in their language.’

‘Pannam!’ said I, ‘pannam! evidently connected with, if not derived from,
the Latin panis; even as the word tanner, which signifieth a sixpence, is
connected with, if not derived from, the Latin tener, which is itself
connected with, if not derived from, tawno or tawner, which, in the
language of Mr. Petulengro, signifieth a sucking child.  Let me see, what
is the term for bread in the language of Mr. Petulengro?  Morro, or
manro, as I have sometimes heard it called; is there not some connection
between these words and panis?  Yes, I think there is; and I should not
wonder if morro, manro, and panis were connected, perhaps derived from,
the same root; but what is that root?  I don’t know—I wish I did; though,
perhaps, I should not be the happier.  Morro—manro!  I rather think morro
is the oldest form; it is easier to say morro than manro.  Morro!  Irish,
aran; Welsh, bara; English, bread.  I can see a resemblance between all
the words, and pannam too; and I rather think that the Petulengrian word
is the elder.  How odd it would be if the language of Mr. Petulengro
should eventually turn out to be the mother of all the languages in the
world; yet it is certain that there are some languages in which the terms
for bread have no connection with the word used by Mr. Petulengro,
notwithstanding that those languages, in many other points, exhibit a
close affinity to the language of the horse-shoe master: for example,
bread, in Hebrew, is Laham, which assuredly exhibits little similitude to
the word used by the aforesaid Petulengro.  In Armenian it is—’

‘Zhats!’ said the stranger, starting up.  ‘By the Patriarch and the Three
Holy Churches, this is wonderful!  How came you to know aught of
Armenian?’



CHAPTER FORTY-SEVEN


NEW ACQUAINTANCE—WIRED CASES—BREAD AND WINE—ARMENIAN COLONIES—LEARNING
WITHOUT MONEY—WHAT A LANGUAGE—THE TIDE—YOUR FOIBLE—LEARNING OF THE
HAIKS—PRESSING INVITATION

Just as I was about to reply to the interrogation of my new-formed
acquaintance, a man with a dusky countenance, probably one of the
Lascars, or Mulattos, of whom the old woman had spoken, came up and
whispered to him, and with this man he presently departed, not however
before he had told me the place of his abode, and requested me to visit
him.

After the lapse of a few days, I called at the house which he had
indicated.  It was situated in a dark and narrow street, in the heart of
the City, at no great distance from the Bank.  I entered a counting-room,
in which a solitary clerk, with a foreign look, was writing.  The
stranger was not at home; returning the next day, however, I met him at
the door as he was about to enter; he shook me warmly by the hand.  ‘I am
glad to see you,’ said he, ‘follow me, I was just thinking of you.’  He
led me through the counting-room, to an apartment up a flight of stairs;
before ascending, however, he looked into the book in which the
foreign-visaged clerk was writing, and, seemingly not satisfied with the
manner in which he was executing his task, he gave him two or three
cuffs, telling him at the same time that he deserved crucifixion.

The apartment above stairs, to which he led me, was large, with three
windows, which opened upon the street.  The walls were hung with wired
cases, apparently containing books.  There was a table and two or three
chairs; but the principal article of furniture was a long sofa, extending
from the door by which we entered to the farther end of the apartment.
Seating himself upon the sofa, my new acquaintance motioned to me to sit
beside him, and then, looking me full in the face, repeated his former
inquiry.  ‘In the name of all that is wonderful, how came you to know
aught of my language?’

‘There is nothing wonderful in that,’ said I; ‘we are at the commencement
of a philological age, every one studies languages; that is, every one
who is fit for nothing else; philology being the last resource of dulness
and ennui, I have got a little in advance of the throng, by mastering the
Armenian alphabet; but I foresee the time when every unmarriageable miss,
and desperate blockhead, will likewise have acquired the letter of
Mesroub, and will know the term for bread, in Armenian, and perhaps that
for wine.’

‘Kini,’ said my companion; and that and the other word put me in mind of
the duties of hospitality.  ‘Will you eat bread and drink wine with me?’

‘Willingly,’ said I.  Whereupon my companion, unlocking a closet,
produced on a silver salver, a loaf of bread, with a silver-handled
knife, and wine in a silver flask, with cups of the same metal.  ‘I hope
you like my fare,’ said he, after we had both eaten and drunk.

‘I like your bread,’ said I, ‘for it is stale; I like not your wine, it
is sweet, and I hate sweet wine.’

‘It is wine of Cyprus,’ said my entertainer; and, when I found that it
was wine of Cyprus, I tasted it again, and the second taste pleased me
much better than the first, notwithstanding that I still thought it
somewhat sweet.  ‘So,’ said I after a pause, looking at my companion,
‘you are an Armenian.’

‘Yes,’ said he, ‘an Armenian born in London, but not less an Armenian on
that account.  My father was a native of Ispahan, one of the celebrated
Armenian colony which was established there shortly after the time of the
dreadful hunger, which drove the children of Haik in swarms from their
original country, and scattered them over most parts of the eastern and
western world.  In Ispahan he passed the greater portion of his life,
following mercantile pursuits with considerable success.  Certain
enemies, however, having accused him to the despot of the place, of using
seditious language, he was compelled to flee, leaving most of his
property behind.  Travelling in the direction of the west, he came at
last to London, where he established himself, and where he eventually
died, leaving behind a large property and myself, his only child, the
fruit of a marriage with an Armenian Englishwoman, who did not survive my
birth more than three months.’

The Armenian then proceeded to tell me that he had carried on the
business of his father, which seemed to embrace most matters, from buying
silks of Lascars, to speculating in the funds, and that he had
considerably increased the property which his father had left him.  He
candidly confessed that he was wonderfully fond of gold, and said there
was nothing like it for giving a person respectability and consideration
in the world: to which assertion I made no answer, being not exactly
prepared to contradict it.

And, when he had related to me his history, he expressed a desire to know
something more of myself, whereupon I gave him the outline of my history,
concluding with saying, ‘I am now a poor author, or rather philologist,
upon the streets of London, possessed of many tongues, which I find of no
use in the world.’

‘Learning without money is anything but desirable,’ said the Armenian,
‘as it unfits a man for humble occupations.  It is true that it may
occasionally beget him friends; I confess to you that your understanding
something of my language weighs more with me than the service you
rendered me in rescuing my pocket-book the other day from the claws of
that scoundrel whom I yet hope to see hanged, if not crucified,
notwithstanding there were in that pocket-book papers and documents of
considerable value.  Yes, that circumstance makes my heart warm towards
you, for I am proud of my language—as I indeed well may be—what a
language, noble and energetic! quite original, differing from all others
both in words and structure.’

‘You are mistaken,’ said I; ‘many languages resemble the Armenian both in
structure and words.’

‘For example?’ said the Armenian.

‘For example,’ said I, ‘the English.’

‘The English!’ said the Armenian; ‘show me one word in which the English
resembles the Armenian.’

‘You walk on London Bridge,’ said I.

‘Yes,’ said the Armenian.

‘I saw you look over the balustrade the other morning.’

‘True,’ said the Armenian.

‘Well, what did you see rushing up through the arches with noise and
foam?’

‘What was it?’ said the Armenian.  ‘What was it?—you don’t mean the
_tide_?’

‘Do I not?’ said I.

‘Well, what has the tide to do with the matter?’

‘Much,’ said I; ‘what is the tide?’

‘The ebb and flow of the sea,’ said the Armenian.

‘The sea itself; what is the Haik word for sea?’

The Armenian gave a strong gasp; then, nodding his head thrice, ‘You are
right,’ said he, ‘the English word tide is the Armenian for sea; and now
I begin to perceive that there are many English words which are Armenian;
there is --- and ---; and there again in French, there is --- and ---
derived from the Armenian.  How strange, how singular—I thank you.  It is
a proud thing to see that the language of my race has had so much
influence over the languages of the world.’

I saw that all that related to his race was the weak point of the
Armenian.  I did not flatter the Armenian with respect to his race or
language.  ‘An inconsiderable people,’ said I, ‘shrewd and industrious,
but still an inconsiderable people.  A language bold and expressive, and
of some antiquity, derived, though perhaps not immediately, from some
much older tongue.  I do not think that the Armenian has had any
influence over the formation of the languages of the world.  I am not
much indebted to the Armenian for the solution of any doubts; whereas to
the language of Mr. Petulengro—’

‘I have heard you mention that name before,’ said the Armenian; ‘who is
Mr. Petulengro?’

And then I told the Armenian who Mr. Petulengro was.  The Armenian spoke
contemptuously of Mr. Petulengro and his race.  ‘Don’t speak
contemptuously of Mr. Petulengro,’ said I, ‘nor of anything belonging to
him.  He is a dark mysterious personage; all connected with him is a
mystery, especially his language; but I believe that his language is
doomed to solve a great philological problem—Mr. Petulengro—’

‘You appear agitated,’ said the Armenian; ‘take another glass of wine;
you possess a great deal of philological knowledge, but it appears to me
that the language of this Petulengro is your foible: but let us change
the subject; I feel much interested in you, and would fain be of service
to you.  Can you cast accounts?’

I shook my head.

‘Keep books?’

‘I have an idea that I could write books,’ said I; ‘but, as to keeping
them—’ and here again I shook my head.

The Armenian was silent some time; all at once, glancing at one of the
wire cases, with which, as I have already said, the walls of the room
were hung, he asked me if I was well acquainted with the learning of the
Haiks.  ‘The books in these cases,’ said he, ‘contain the masterpieces of
Haik learning.’

‘No,’ said I; ‘all I know of the learning of the Haiks is their
translation of the Bible.’

‘You have never read Z---?’

‘No,’ said I, ‘I have never read Z---.’

‘I have a plan,’ said the Armenian; ‘I think I can employ you agreeably
and profitably; I should like to see Z--- in an English dress; you shall
translate Z---.  If you can read the Scriptures in Armenian, you can
translate Z---.  He is our Esop, the most acute and clever of all our
moral writers—his philosophy—’

‘I will have nothing to do with him,’ said I.

‘Wherefore?’ said the Armenian.

‘There is an old proverb,’ said I, ‘“that a burnt child avoids the fire.”
I have burnt my hands sufficiently with attempting to translate
philosophy, to make me cautious of venturing upon it again’; and then I
told the Armenian how I had been persuaded by the publisher to translate
his philosophy into German, and what sorry thanks I had received; ‘And
who knows,’ said I, ‘but the attempt to translate Armenian philosophy
into English might be attended with yet more disagreeable consequences?’

The Armenian smiled.  ‘You will find me very different from the
publisher.’

‘In many points I have no doubt I should,’ I replied; ‘but at the present
moment I feel like a bird which has escaped from a cage, and, though
hungry, feels no disposition to return.  Of what nation is the dark man
below stairs, whom I saw writing at the desk?’

‘He is a Moldave,’ said the Armenian; ‘the dog (and here his eyes
sparkled) deserves to be crucified, he is continually making mistakes.’

The Armenian again renewed his proposition about Z---, which I again
refused, as I felt but little inclination to place myself beneath the
jurisdiction of a person who was in the habit of cuffing those whom he
employed, when they made mistakes.  I presently took my departure; not,
however, before I had received from the Armenian a pressing invitation to
call upon him whenever I should feel disposed.



CHAPTER FORTY-EIGHT


WHAT TO DO—STRONG ENOUGH—FAME AND PROFIT—ALLITERATIVE EUPHONY—A
PLAN—BAGNIGGE WELLS

Anxious thoughts frequently disturbed me at this time with respect to
what I was to do, and how support myself in the Great City.  My future
prospects were gloomy enough, and I looked forward and feared; sometimes
I felt half disposed to accept the offer of the Armenian, and to commence
forthwith, under his superintendence, the translation of the Haik Esop;
but the remembrance of the cuffs which I had seen him bestow upon the
Moldavian, when glancing over his shoulder into the ledger or whatever it
was on which he was employed, immediately drove the inclination from my
mind.  I could not support the idea of the possibility of his staring
over my shoulder upon my translation of the Haik Esop, and, dissatisfied
with my attempts, treating me as he had treated the Moldavian clerk;
placing myself in a position which exposed me to such treatment would
indeed be plunging into the fire after escaping from the frying-pan.  The
publisher, insolent and overbearing as he was, whatever he might have
wished or thought, had never lifted his hand against me, or told me that
I merited crucifixion.

What was I to do? turn porter?  I was strong; but there was something
besides strength required to ply the trade of a porter—a mind of a
particularly phlegmatic temperament, which I did not possess.  What
should I do? enlist as a soldier?  I was tall enough; but something
besides height is required to make a man play with credit the part of
soldier, I mean a private one—a spirit, if spirit it can be called, which
will not only enable a man to submit with patience to insolence and
abuse, and even to cuffs and kicks, but occasionally to the lash.  I felt
that I was not qualified to be a soldier, at least a private one; far
better be a drudge to the most ferocious of publishers, editing Newgate
lives, and writing in eighteenpenny reviews—better to translate the Haik
Esop, under the superintendence of ten Armenians, than be a private
soldier in the English service; I did not decide rashly—I knew something
of soldiering.  What should I do?  I thought that I would make a last and
desperate attempt to dispose of the ballads and of Ab Gwilym.

I had still an idea that, provided I could persuade any spirited
publisher to give these translations to the world, I should acquire both
considerable fame and profit; not, perhaps, a world-embracing fame such
as Byron’s; but a fame not to be sneered at, which would last me a
considerable time, and would keep my heart from breaking;—profit, not
equal to that which Scott had made by his wondrous novels, but which
would prevent me from starving, and enable me to achieve some other
literary enterprise.  I read and reread my ballads, and the more I read
them the more I was convinced that the public, in the event of their
being published, would freely purchase, and hail them with the merited
applause.  Were not the deeds and adventures wonderful and
heart-stirring—from which it is true I could claim no merit, being but
the translator; but had I not rendered them into English, with all their
original fire?  Yes, I was confident I had; and I had no doubt that the
public would say so.  And then, with respect to Ab Gwilym, had I not done
as much justice to him as to the Danish ballads; not only rendering
faithfully his thoughts, imagery, and phraseology, but even preserving in
my translation the alliterative euphony which constitutes one of the most
remarkable features of Welsh prosody?  Yes, I had accomplished all this;
and I doubted not that the public would receive my translations from Ab
Gwilym with quite as much eagerness as my version of the Danish ballads.
But I found the publishers as intractable as ever, and to this day the
public has never had an opportunity of doing justice to the glowing fire
of my ballad versification, and the alliterative euphony of my imitations
of Ab Gwilym.

I had not seen Francis Ardry since the day I had seen him taking lessons
in elocution.  One afternoon as I was seated at my table, my head resting
on my hands, he entered my apartment; sitting down, he inquired of me why
I had not been to see him.

‘I might ask the same question of you,’ I replied.  ‘Wherefore have you
not been to see me?’  Whereupon Francis Ardry told me that he had been
much engaged in his oratorical exercises, also in escorting the young
Frenchwoman about to places of public amusement; he then again questioned
me as to the reason of my not having been to see him.

I returned an evasive answer.  The truth was, that for some time past my
appearance, owing to the state of my finances, had been rather shabby,
and I did not wish to expose a fashionable young man like Francis Ardry,
who lived in a fashionable neighbourhood, to the imputation of having a
shabby acquaintance.  I was aware that Francis Ardry was an excellent
fellow; but, on that very account, I felt, under existing circumstances,
a delicacy in visiting him.

It is very possible that he had an inkling of how matters stood, as he
presently began to talk of my affairs and prospects.  I told him of my
late ill success with the booksellers, and inveighed against their
blindness to their own interest in refusing to publish my translations.
‘The last that I addressed myself to,’ said I, ‘told me not to trouble
him again unless I could bring him a decent novel or a tale.’

‘Well,’ said Frank, ‘and why did you not carry him a decent novel or a
tale?’

‘Because I have neither,’ said I; ‘and to write them is, I believe above
my capacity.  At present I feel divested of all energy—heartless, and
almost hopeless.’

‘I see how it is,’ said Francis Ardry, ‘you have overworked yourself,
and, worst of all, to no purpose.  Take my advice; cast all care aside,
and only think of diverting yourself for a month at least.’

‘Divert myself!’ said I; ‘and where am I to find the means?’

‘Be that care on my shoulders,’ said Francis Ardry.  ‘Listen to me—my
uncles have been so delighted with the favourable accounts which they
have lately received from T--- of my progress in oratory, that, in the
warmth of their hearts, they made me a present yesterday of two hundred
pounds.  This is more money than I want, at least for the present; do me
the favour to take half of it as a loan—hear me,’ said he, observing that
I was about to interrupt him; ‘I have a plan in my head—one of the
prettiest in the world.  The sister of my charmer is just arrived from
France; she cannot speak a word of English; and, as Annette and myself
are much engaged in our own matters, we cannot pay her the attention
which we should wish, and which she deserves, for she is a truly
fascinating creature, although somewhat differing from my charmer, having
blue eyes and flaxen hair; whilst, Annette, on the contrary—  But I hope
you will shortly see Annette.  Now, my plan is this—Take the money, dress
yourself fashionably, and conduct Annette’s sister to Bagnigge Wells.’

‘And what should we do at Bagnigge Wells?’

‘Do!’ said Francis Ardry.  ‘Dance!’

‘But,’ said I, ‘I scarcely know anything of dancing.’

‘Then here’s an excellent opportunity of improving yourself.  Like most
Frenchwomen, she dances divinely; however, if you object to Bagnigge
Wells and dancing, go to Brighton, and remain there a month or two, at
the end of which time you can return with your mind refreshed and
invigorated, and materials, perhaps, for a tale or novel.’

‘I never heard a more foolish plan,’ said I, ‘or one less likely to
terminate profitably or satisfactorily.  I thank you, however, for your
offer, which is, I daresay, well meant.  If I am to escape from my cares
and troubles, and find my mind refreshed and invigorated, I must adopt
other means than conducting a French demoiselle to Brighton or Bagnigge
Wells, defraying the expense by borrowing from a friend.’



CHAPTER FORTY-NINE


SINGULAR PERSONAGE—A LARGE SUM—PAPA OF ROME—ARMENIANS—ROOTS OF
ARARAT—REGULAR FEATURES

The Armenian!  I frequently saw this individual, availing myself of the
permission which he had given me to call upon him.  A truly singular
personage was he, with his love of amassing money, and his nationality so
strong as to be akin to poetry.  Many an Armenian I have subsequently
known fond of money-getting, and not destitute of national spirit; but
never another, who, in the midst of his schemes of lucre, was at all
times willing to enter into a conversation on the structure of the Haik
language, or who ever offered me money to render into English the fables
of Z--- in the hope of astonishing the stock-jobbers of the Exchange with
the wisdom of the Haik Esop.

But he was fond of money, very fond.  Within a little time I had won his
confidence to such a degree that he informed me that the grand wish of
his heart was to be possessed of two hundred thousand pounds.

‘I think you might satisfy yourself with the half,’ said I.  ‘One hundred
thousand pounds is a large sum.’

‘You are mistaken,’ said the Armenian, ‘a hundred thousand pounds is
nothing.  My father left me that or more at his death.  No, I shall never
be satisfied with less than two.’

‘And what will you do with your riches,’ said I, ‘when you have obtained
them?  Will you sit down and muse upon them, or will you deposit them in
a cellar, and go down once a day to stare at them?  I have heard say that
the fulfilment of one’s wishes is invariably the precursor of extreme
misery, and forsooth I can scarcely conceive a more horrible state of
existence than to be without a hope or wish.’

‘It is bad enough, I daresay,’ said the Armenian; ‘it will, however, be
time enough to think of disposing of the money when I have procured it.
I still fall short by a vast sum of the two hundred thousand pounds.’

I had occasionally much conversation with him on the state and prospects
of his nation, especially of that part of it which still continued in the
original country of the Haiks—Ararat and its confines, which, it
appeared, he had frequently visited.  He informed me that since the death
of the last Haik monarch, which occurred in the eleventh century, Armenia
had been governed both temporally and spiritually by certain personages
called patriarchs; their temporal authority, however, was much
circumscribed by the Persian and Turk, especially the former, of whom the
Armenian spoke with much hatred, whilst their spiritual authority had at
various times been considerably undermined by the emissaries of the Papa
of Rome, as the Armenian called him.

‘The Papa of Rome sent his emissaries at an early period amongst us,’
said the Armenian, ‘seducing the minds of weak-headed people, persuading
them that the hillocks of Rome are higher than the ridges of Ararat; that
the Roman Papa has more to say in heaven than the Armenian patriarch, and
that puny Latin is a better language than nervous and sonorous Haik.’

‘They are both dialects,’ said I, ‘of the language of Mr. Petulengro, one
of whose race I believe to have been the original founder of Rome; but,
with respect to religion, what are the chief points of your faith? you
are Christians, I believe.’

‘Yes,’ said the Armenian, ‘we are Christians in our way; we believe in
God, the Holy Spirit, and Saviour, though we are not prepared to admit
that the last personage is not only himself, but the other two.  We
believe . . . ’ and then the Armenian told me of several things which the
Haiks believed or disbelieved.  ‘But what we find most hard of all to
believe,’ said he, ‘is that the man of the mole-hills is entitled to our
allegiance, he not being a Haik, or understanding the Haik language.’

‘But, by your own confession,’ said I, ‘he has introduced a schism in
your nation, and has amongst you many that believe in him.’

‘It is true,’ said the Armenian, ‘that even on the confines of Ararat
there are a great number who consider that mountain to be lower than the
hillocks of Rome; but the greater number of degenerate Armenians are to
be found amongst those who have wandered to the west; most of the Haik
churches of the west consider Rome to be higher than Ararat—most of the
Armenians of this place hold that dogma; I, however, have always stood
firm in the contrary opinion.’

‘Ha! ha!’—here the Armenian laughed in his peculiar manner—‘talking of
this matter puts me in mind of an adventure which lately befell me, with
one of the emissaries of the Papa of Rome, for the Papa of Rome has at
present many emissaries in this country, in order to seduce the people
from their own quiet religion to the savage heresy of Rome; this fellow
came to me partly in the hope of converting me, but principally to extort
money for the purpose of furthering the designs of Rome in this country.
I humoured the fellow at first, keeping him in play for nearly a month,
deceiving and laughing at him.  At last he discovered that he could make
nothing of me, and departed with the scowl of Caiaphas, whilst I cried
after him, ‘The roots of Ararat are _deeper_ than those of Rome.’

The Armenian had occasionally reverted to the subject of the translation
of the Haik Esop, which he had still a lurking desire that I should
execute; but I had invariably declined the undertaking, without, however,
stating my reasons.  On one occasion, when we had been conversing on the
subject, the Armenian, who had been observing my countenance for some
time with much attention, remarked, ‘Perhaps, after all, you are right,
and you might employ your time to better advantage.  Literature is a fine
thing, especially Haik literature, but neither that nor any other would
be likely to serve as a foundation to a man’s fortune: and to make a
fortune should be the principal aim of every one’s life; therefore listen
to me.  Accept a seat at the desk opposite to my Moldavian clerk, and
receive the rudiments of a merchant’s education.  You shall be instructed
in the Armenian way of doing business—I think you would make an excellent
merchant.’

‘Why do you think so?’

‘Because you have something of the Armenian look.’

‘I understand you,’ said I; ‘you mean to say that I squint!’

‘Not exactly,’ said the Armenian, ‘but there is certainly a kind of
irregularity in your features.  One eye appears to me larger than the
other—never mind, but rather rejoice; in that irregularity consists your
strength.  All people with regular features are fools; it is very hard
for them, you’ll say, but there is no help: all we can do, who are not in
such a predicament, is to pity those who are.  Well! will you accept my
offer?  No! you are a singular individual; but I must not forget my own
concerns.  I must now go forth, having an appointment by which I hope to
make money.’



CHAPTER FIFTY


WISH FULFILLED—EXTRAORDINARY FIGURE—BUENO—NOAH—THE TWO FACES—I DON’T
BLAME HIM—OF MONEY

The fulfilment of the Armenian’s grand wish was nearer at hand than
either he or I had anticipated.  Partly owing to the success of a bold
speculation, in which he had some time previously engaged, and partly
owing to the bequest of a large sum of money by one of his nation who
died at this period in Paris, he found himself in the possession of a
fortune somewhat exceeding two hundred thousand pounds; this fact he
communicated to me one evening about an hour after the close of ’Change;
the hour at which I generally called, and at which I mostly found him at
home.

‘Well,’ said I, ‘and what do you intend to do next?’

‘I scarcely know,’ said the Armenian.  ‘I was thinking of that when you
came in.  I don’t see anything that I can do, save going on in my former
course.  After all, I was perhaps too moderate in making the possession
of two hundred thousand pounds the summit of my ambition; there are many
individuals in this town who possess three times that sum, and are not
yet satisfied.  No, I think I can do no better than pursue the old
career; who knows but I may make the two hundred thousand three or
four?—there is already a surplus, which is an encouragement; however, we
will consider the matter over a goblet of wine; I have observed of late
that you have become partial to my Cyprus.’

And it came to pass that, as we were seated over the Cyprus wine, we
heard a knock at the door.  ‘Adelante!’ cried the Armenian; whereupon the
door opened, and in walked a somewhat extraordinary figure—a man in a
long loose tunic of a stuff striped with black and yellow; breeches of
plush velvet, silk stockings, and shoes with silver buckles.  On his head
he wore a high-peaked hat; he was tall, had a hooked nose, and in age was
about fifty.

‘Welcome, Rabbi Manasseh,’ said the Armenian.  ‘I know your knock—you are
welcome; sit down.’

‘I am welcome,’ said Manasseh, sitting down; ‘he—he—he! you know my
knock—I bring you money—_bueno_!’

There was something very peculiar in the sound of that bueno—I never
forgot it.

Thereupon a conversation ensued between Rabbi Manasseh and the Armenian,
in a language which I knew to be Spanish, though a peculiar dialect.  It
related to a mercantile transaction.  The Rabbi sighed heavily as he
delivered to the other a considerable sum of money.

‘It is right,’ said the Armenian, handing a receipt.  ‘It is right; and I
am quite satisfied.’

‘You are satisfied—you have taken money.  _Bueno_, I have nothing to say
against your being satisfied.’

‘Come, Rabbi,’ said the Armenian, ‘do not despond; it may be your turn
next to take money; in the meantime, can’t you be persuaded to taste my
Cyprus?’

‘He—he—he! señor, you know I do not love wine.  I love Noah when he is
himself; but, as Janus, I love him not.  But you are merry; _bueno_, you
have a right to be so.’

‘Excuse me,’ said I, ‘but does Noah ever appear as Janus?’

‘He—he—he!’ said the Rabbi, ‘he only appeared as Janus once—una vez
quando estuvo borracho; which means—’

‘I understand,’ said I; ‘when he was . . . ’ and I drew the side of my
right hand sharply across my left wrist.

‘Are you one of our people?’ said the Rabbi.

‘No,’ said I, ‘I am one of the Goyim; but I am only half enlightened.
Why should Noah be Janus when he was in that state?’

‘He—he—he! you must know that in Lasan akhades wine is janin.’

‘In Armenian, kini,’ said I; ‘in Welsh, gwin; Latin, vinum; but do you
think that Janus and janin are one?’

‘Do I think?  Don’t the commentators say so?  Does not Master Leo
Abarbenel say so in his _Dialogues of Divine Love_?’

‘But,’ said I, ‘I always thought that Janus was a god of the ancient
Romans, who stood in a temple open in time of war, and shut in time of
peace; he was represented with two faces, which—which—’

‘He—he—he!’ said the Rabbi, rising from his seat; ‘he had two faces, had
he?  And what did those two faces typify?  You do not know; no, nor did
the Romans who carved him with two faces know why they did so; for they
were only half enlightened, like you and the rest of the Goyim.  Yet they
were right in carving him with two faces looking from each other—they
were right, though they knew not why; there was a tradition among them
that the Janinoso had two faces, but they knew not that one was for the
world which was gone and the other for the world before him—for the
drowned world and for the present, as Master Leo Abarbenel says in his
_Dialogues of Divine Love_.  He—he—he!’ continued the Rabbi, who had by
this time advanced to the door, and, turning round, waved the two
forefingers of his right hand in our faces; ‘the Goyims and Epicouraiyim
are clever men, they know how to make money better than we of Israel.  My
good friend there is a clever man, I bring him money, he never brought me
any; _bueno_, I do not blame him, he knows much, very much; but one thing
there is my friend does not know, nor any of the Epicureans, he does not
know the sacred thing—he has never received the gift of interpretation
which God alone gives to the seed—he has his gift, I have mine—he is
satisfied, I don’t blame him, _bueno_.’

And, with this last word in his mouth, he departed.

‘Is that man a native of Spain?’ I demanded.

‘Not a native of Spain,’ said the Armenian, ‘though he is one of those
who call themselves Spanish Jews, and who are to be found scattered
throughout Europe, speaking the Spanish language transmitted to them by
their ancestors, who were expelled from Spain in the time of Ferdinand
and Isabella.’

‘The Jews are a singular people,’ said I.

‘A race of cowards and dastards,’ said the Armenian, ‘without a home or
country; servants to servants; persecuted and despised by all.’

‘And what are the Haiks?’ I demanded.

‘Very different from the Jews,’ replied the Armenian; ‘the Haiks have a
home—a country, and can occasionally use a good sword; though it is true
they are not what they might be.’

‘Then it is a shame that they do not become so,’ said I; ‘but they are
too fond of money.  There is yourself, with two hundred thousand pounds
in your pocket, craving for more, whilst you might be turning your wealth
to the service of your country.’

‘In what manner?’ said the Armenian.

‘I have heard you say that the grand oppressor of your country is the
Persian; why not attempt to free your country from his oppression—you
have two hundred thousand pounds, and money is the sinew of war?’

‘Would you, then, have me attack the Persian?’

‘I scarcely know what to say; fighting is a rough trade, and I am by no
means certain that you are calculated for the scratch.  It is not every
one who has been brought up in the school of Mr. Petulengro and Tawno
Chikno.  All I can say is, that if I were an Armenian, and had two
hundred thousand pounds to back me, I would attack the Persian.’

‘Hem!’ said the Armenian.



CHAPTER FIFTY-ONE


THE ONE HALF-CROWN—MERIT IN PATIENCE—CEMENTER OF FRIENDSHIP—DREADFUL
PERPLEXITY—THE USUAL GUTTURAL—ARMENIAN LETTERS—PURE HELPLESSNESS

One morning on getting up I discovered that my whole worldly wealth was
reduced to one half-crown—throughout that day I walked about in
considerable distress of mind; it was now requisite that I should come to
a speedy decision with respect to what I was to do; I had not many
alternatives, and, before I had retired to rest on the night of the day
in question, I had determined that I could do no better than accept the
first proposal of the Armenian, and translate under his superintendence
the Haik Esop into English.

I reflected, for I made a virtue of necessity, that, after all, such an
employment would be an honest and honourable one; honest, inasmuch as by
engaging in it I should do harm to nobody; honourable, inasmuch as it was
a literary task, which not everyone was capable of executing.  It was not
everyone of the booksellers’ writers of London who was competent to
translate the Haik Esop.  I determined to accept the offer of the
Armenian.

Once or twice the thought of what I might have to undergo in the
translation from certain peculiarities of the Armenian’s temper almost
unsettled me; but a mechanical diving of my hand into my pocket, and the
feeling of the solitary half-crown, confirmed me; after all, this was a
life of trial and tribulation, and I had read somewhere or other that
there was much merit in patience, so I determined to hold fast in my
resolution of accepting the offer of the Armenian.

But all of a sudden I remembered that the Armenian appeared to have
altered his intentions towards me: he appeared no longer desirous that I
should render the Haik Esop into English for the benefit of the
stock-jobbers on Exchange, but rather that I should acquire the rudiments
of doing business in the Armenian fashion, and accumulate a fortune,
which would enable me to make a figure upon ’Change with the best of the
stock-jobbers.  ‘Well,’ thought I, withdrawing my hand from my pocket,
whither it had again mechanically dived, ‘after all, what would the
world, what would this city, be without commerce?  I believe the world,
and particularly this city, would cut a very poor figure without
commerce; and then there is something poetical in the idea of doing
business after the Armenian fashion, dealing with dark-faced Lascars and
Rabbins of the Sephardim.  Yes, should the Armenian insist upon it, I
will accept a seat at the desk, opposite the Moldavian clerk.  I do not
like the idea of cuffs similar to those the Armenian bestowed upon the
Moldavian clerk; whatever merit there may be in patience, I do not think
that my estimation of the merit of patience would be sufficient to induce
me to remain quietly sitting under the infliction of cuffs.  I think I
should, in the event of his cuffing me, knock the Armenian down.  Well, I
think I have heard it said somewhere, that a knock-down blow is a great
cementer of friendship; I think I have heard of two people being better
friends than ever after the one had received from the other a knock-down
blow.’

That night I dreamed I had acquired a colossal fortune, some four hundred
thousand pounds, by the Armenian way of doing business, but suddenly
awoke in dreadful perplexity as to how I should dispose of it.

About nine o’clock next morning I set off to the house of the Armenian; I
had never called upon him so early before, and certainly never with a
heart beating with so much eagerness; but the situation of my affairs had
become very critical, and I thought that I ought to lose no time in
informing the Armenian that I was at length perfectly willing either to
translate the Haik Esop under his superintendence, or to accept a seat at
the desk opposite to the Moldavian clerk, and acquire the secrets of
Armenian commerce.  With a quick step I entered the counting-room, where,
notwithstanding the earliness of the hour, I found the clerk, busied as
usual at his desk.

He had always appeared to me a singular being, this same Moldavian clerk.
A person of fewer words could scarcely be conceived: provided his master
were at home, he would, on my inquiring, nod his head; and, provided he
were not, he would invariably reply with the monosyllable No, delivered
in a strange guttural tone.  On the present occasion, being full of
eagerness and impatience, I was about to pass by him to the apartment
above, without my usual inquiry, when he lifted his head from the ledger
in which he was writing, and, laying down his pen, motioned to me with
his forefinger, as if to arrest my progress; whereupon I stopped, and,
with a palpitating heart, demanded whether the master of the house was at
home.  The Moldavian clerk replied with his usual guttural, and, opening
his desk, ensconced his head therein.

‘It does not much matter,’ said I; ‘I suppose I shall find him at home
after ’Change; it does not much matter, I can return.’

I was turning away with the intention of leaving the room; at this
moment, however, the head of the Moldavian clerk became visible, and I
observed a letter in his hand, which he had inserted in the desk at the
same time with his head; this he extended towards me, making at the same
time a sidelong motion with his head, as much as to say that it contained
something which interested me.

I took the letter, and the Moldavian clerk forthwith resumed his
occupation.  The back of the letter bore my name, written in Armenian
characters; with a trembling hand I broke the seal, and, unfolding the
letter, I beheld several lines also written in the letters of Mesroub,
the Cadmus of the Armenians.

I stared at the lines, and at first could not make out a syllable of
their meaning; at last, however, by continued staring, I discovered that,
though the letters were Armenian, the words were English; in about ten
minutes I had contrived to decipher the sense of the letter; it ran
somewhat in this style:—

    ‘MY DEAR FRIEND—The words which you uttered in our last conversation
    have made a profound impression upon me; I have thought them over day
    and night, and have come to the conclusion that it is my bounden duty
    to attack the Persians.  When these lines are delivered to you, I
    shall be on the route to Ararat.  A mercantile speculation will be to
    the world the ostensible motive of my journey, and it is singular
    enough that one which offers considerable prospect of advantage has
    just presented itself on the confines of Persia.  Think not, however,
    that motives of lucre would have been sufficiently powerful to tempt
    me to the East at the present moment.  I may speculate, it is true,
    but I should scarcely have undertaken the journey but for your
    pungent words inciting me to attack the Persians.  Doubt not that I
    will attack them on the first opportunity.  I thank you heartily for
    putting me in mind of my duty.  I have hitherto, to use your own
    words, been too fond of money-getting, like all my countrymen.  I am
    much indebted to you; farewell! and may every prosperity await you.’

For some time after I had deciphered the epistle, I stood as if rooted to
the floor.  I felt stunned—my last hope was gone; presently a feeling
arose in my mind—a feeling of self-reproach.  Whom had I to blame but
myself for the departure of the Armenian?  Would he have ever thought of
attacking the Persians had I not put the idea into his head? he had told
me in his epistle that he was indebted to me for the idea.  But for that,
he might at the present moment have been in London, increasing his
fortune by his usual methods, and I might be commencing under his
auspices the translation of the Haik Esop, with the promise, no doubt, of
a considerable remuneration for my trouble; or I might be taking a seat
opposite the Moldavian clerk, and imbibing the first rudiments of doing
business after the Armenian fashion, with the comfortable hope of
realising, in a short time, a fortune of three or four hundred thousand
pounds; but the Armenian was now gone, and farewell to the fine hopes I
had founded upon him the day before.  What was I to do?  I looked wildly
around, till my eyes rested on the Moldavian clerk, who was writing away
in his ledger with particular vehemence.  Not knowing well what to do or
to say, I thought I might as well ask the Moldavian clerk when the
Armenian had departed, and when he thought that he would return.  It is
true it mattered little to me when he departed, seeing that he was gone,
and it was evident that he would not be back soon; but I knew not what to
do, and in pure helplessness thought I might as well ask; so I went up to
the Moldavian clerk, and asked him when the Armenian had departed, and
whether he had been gone two days or three.  Whereupon the Moldavian
clerk, looking up from his ledger, made certain signs, which I could by
no means understand.  I stood astonished, but, presently recovering
myself, inquired when he considered it probable that the master would
return, and whether he thought it would be two months or—my tongue
faltered—two years; whereupon the Moldavian clerk made more signs than
before, and yet more unintelligible; as I persisted, however, he flung
down his pen, and, putting his thumb into his mouth, moved it rapidly,
causing the nail to sound against the lower jaw; whereupon I saw that he
was dumb, and hurried away, for I had always entertained a horror of dumb
people, having once heard my mother say, when I was a child, that dumb
people were half demoniacs, or little better.



CHAPTER FIFTY-TWO


KIND OF STUPOR—PEACE OF GOD—DIVINE HAND—FAREWELL, CHILD—THE FAIR—THE
MASSIVE EDIFICE—THE BATTERED TARS—LOST! LOST!—GOOD-DAY, GENTLEMEN

Leaving the house of the Armenian, I strolled about for some time; almost
mechanically my feet conducted me to London Bridge, to the booth in which
stood the stall of the old apple-woman; the sound of her voice aroused
me, as I sat in a kind of stupor on the stone bench beside her; she was
inquiring what was the matter with me.

At first, I believe, I answered her very incoherently, for I observed
alarm beginning to depict itself upon her countenance.  Rousing myself,
however, I in my turn put a few questions to her upon her present
condition and prospects.  The old woman’s countenance cleared up
instantly; she informed me that she had never been more comfortable in
her life; that her trade, her _honest_ trade—laying an emphasis on the
word honest—had increased of late wonderfully; that her health was
better, and, above all, that she felt no fear and horror ‘here,’ laying
her hand on her breast.

On my asking her whether she still heard voices in the night, she told me
that she frequently did; but that the present were mild voices, sweet
voices, encouraging voices, very different from the former ones; that a
voice, only the night previous, had cried out about ‘the peace of God,’
in particularly sweet accents; a sentence which she remembered to have
read in her early youth in the primer, but which she had clean forgotten
till the voice the night before brought it to her recollection.

After a pause, the old woman said to me, ‘I believe, dear, that it is the
blessed book you brought me which has wrought this goodly change.  How
glad I am now that I can read; but oh what a difference between the book
you brought to me and the one you took away!  I believe the one you
brought is written by the finger of God, and the other by—’

‘Don’t abuse the book,’ said I, ‘it is an excellent book for those who
can understand it; it was not exactly suited to you, and perhaps it had
been better that you had never read it—and yet, who knows?  Peradventure,
if you had not read that book, you would not have been fitted for the
perusal of the one which you say is written by the finger of God’; and,
pressing my hand to my head, I fell into a deep fit of musing.  ‘What,
after all,’ thought I, ‘if there should be more order and system in the
working of the moral world than I have thought?  Does there not seem in
the present instance to be something like the working of a Divine hand?
I could not conceive why this woman, better educated than her mother,
should have been, as she certainly was, a worse character than her
mother.  Yet perhaps this woman may be better and happier than her mother
ever was; perhaps she is so already—perhaps this world is not a wild,
lying dream, as I have occasionally supposed it to be.’

But the thought of my own situation did not permit me to abandon myself
much longer to these musings.  I started up.  ‘Where are you going,
child?’ said the woman, anxiously.  ‘I scarcely know,’ said I;
‘anywhere.’  ‘Then stay here, child,’ said she; ‘I have much to say to
you.’  ‘No,’ said I, ‘I shall be better moving about’; and I was moving
away, when it suddenly occurred to me that I might never see this woman
again; and turning round I offered her my hand, and bade her goodbye.
‘Farewell, child,’ said the old woman, ‘and God bless you!’ I then moved
along the bridge until I reached the Southwark side, and, still holding
on my course, my mind again became quickly abstracted from all
surrounding objects.

At length I found myself in a street or road, with terraces on either
side, and seemingly of interminable length, leading, as it would appear,
to the south-east.  I was walking at a great rate—there were likewise a
great number of people, also walking at a great rate; also carts and
carriages driving at a great rate; and all—men, carts, and
carriages—going in the selfsame direction, namely to the south-east.  I
stopped for a moment and deliberated whether or not I should proceed.
What business had I in that direction?  I could not say that I had any
particular business in that direction, but what could I do were I to turn
back? only walk about well-known streets; and, if I must walk, why not
continue in the direction in which I was to see whither the road and its
terraces led?  I was here in a _terra incognito_, and an unknown place
had always some interest for me; moreover, I had a desire to know whither
all this crowd was going, and for what purpose.  I thought they could not
be going far, as crowds seldom go far, especially at such a rate; so I
walked on more lustily than before, passing group after group of the
crowd, and almost vying in speed with some of the carriages, especially
the hackney-coaches; and, by dint of walking at this rate, the terraces
and houses becoming somewhat less frequent as I advanced, I reached in
about three-quarters of an hour a kind of low dingy town, in the
neighbourhood of the river; the streets were swarming with people, and I
concluded, from the number of wild-beast shows, caravans, gingerbread
stalls, and the like, that a fair was being held.  Now, as I had always
been partial to fairs, I felt glad that I had fallen in with the crowd
which had conducted me to the present one, and, casting away as much as I
was able all gloomy thoughts, I did my best to enter into the diversions
of the fair; staring at the wonderful representations of animals on
canvas hung up before the shows of wild beasts, which, by the bye, are
frequently found much more worthy of admiration than the real beasts
themselves; listening to the jokes of the merry-andrews from the
platforms in front of the temporary theatres, or admiring the splendid
tinsel dresses of the performers who thronged the stages in the intervals
of the entertainments; and in this manner, occasionally gazing and
occasionally listening I passed through the town till I came in front of
a large edifice looking full upon the majestic bosom of the Thames.

It was a massive stone edifice, built in an antique style, and black with
age, with a broad esplanade between it and the river, on which, mixed
with a few people from the fair, I observed moving about a great many
individuals in quaint dresses of blue, with strange three-cornered hats
on their heads; most of them were mutilated; this had a wooden leg—this
wanted an arm; some had but one eye; and as I gazed upon the edifice, and
the singular-looking individuals who moved before it, I guessed where I
was.  ‘I am at ---’ said I; ‘these individuals are battered tars of Old
England, and this edifice, once the favourite abode of Glorious
Elizabeth, is the refuge which a grateful country has allotted to them.
Here they can rest their weary bodies; at their ease talk over the
actions in which they have been injured; and, with the tear of enthusiasm
flowing from their eyes, boast how they have trod the deck of fame with
Rodney, or Nelson, or others whose names stand emblazoned in the naval
annals of their country.’

Turning to the right, I entered a park or wood consisting of enormous
trees, occupying the foot, sides, and top of a hill which rose behind the
town; there were multitudes of people among the trees, diverting
themselves in various ways.  Coming to the top of the hill, I was
presently stopped by a lofty wall, along which I walked, till, coming to
a small gate, I passed through, and found myself on an extensive green
plain, on one side bounded in part by the wall of the park, and on the
others, in the distance, by extensive ranges of houses; to the south-east
was a lofty eminence, partially clothed with wood.  The plain exhibited
an animated scene, a kind of continuation of the fair below; there were
multitudes of people upon it, many tents, and shows; there was also
horse-racing, and much noise and shouting, the sun shining brightly
overhead.  After gazing at the horse-racing for a little time, feeling
myself somewhat tired, I went up to one of the tents, and laid myself
down on the grass.  There was much noise in the tent.  ‘Who will stand
me?’ said a voice with a slight tendency to lisp.  ‘Will you, my lord?’
‘Yes,’ said another voice.  Then there was a sound as of a piece of money
banging on a table.  ‘Lost! lost! lost!’ cried several voices; and then
the banging down of the money, and the ‘lost! lost! lost!’ were
frequently repeated; at last the second voice exclaimed, ‘I will try no
more; you have cheated me.’  ‘Never cheated any one in my life, my
lord—all fair—all chance.  Them that finds, wins—them that can’t finds,
loses.  Any one else try?  Who’ll try?  Will you, my lord?’ and then it
appeared that some other lord tried, for I heard more money flung down.
Then again the cry of ‘lost! lost!’—then again the sound of money, and so
on.  Once or twice, but not more, I heard ‘Won! won!’ but the predominant
cry was ‘Lost! lost!’  At last there was a considerable hubbub, and the
words ‘Cheat!’ ‘Rogue!’ and ‘You filched away the pea!’ were used freely
by more voices than one, to which the voice with the tendency to lisp
replied, ‘Never filched a pea in my life; would scorn it.  Always glad
when folks wins; but, as those here don’t appear to be civil, nor to wish
to play any more, I shall take myself off with my table; so, good-day,
gentlemen.’



CHAPTER FIFTY-THREE


SINGULAR TABLE—NO MONEY—OUT OF EMPLOY—MY BONNET—WE OF THE THIMBLE—GOOD
WAGES—WISELY RESOLVED—STRANGEST WAY IN THE WORLD—FAT GENTLEMAN—NOT SUCH
ANOTHER—FIRST EDITION—NOT EASY—WON’T CLOSE—AVELLA GORGIO—ALARMED LOOK

Presently a man emerged from the tent, bearing before him a rather
singular table; it appeared to be of white deal, was exceedingly small at
the top, and with very long legs.  At a few yards from the entrance he
paused, and looked round, as if to decide on the direction which he
should take; presently, his eye glancing on me as I lay upon the ground,
he started, and appeared for a moment inclined to make off as quick as
possible, table and all.  In a moment, however, he seemed to recover
assurance, and, coming up to the place where I was, the long legs of the
table projecting before him, he cried, ‘Glad to see you here, my lord.’

‘Thank you,’ said I, ‘it’s a fine day.’

‘Very fine, my lord; will your lordship play?  Them that finds, wins—them
that don’t finds, loses.’

‘Play at what?’ said I.

‘Only at the thimble and pea, my lord.’

‘I never heard of such a game.’

‘Didn’t you?  Well, I’ll soon teach you,’ said he, placing the table
down.  ‘All you have to do is to put a sovereign down on my table, and to
find the pea, which I put under one of my thimbles.  If you find it,—and
it is easy enough to find it,—I give you a sovereign besides your own:
for them that finds, wins.’

‘And them that don’t finds, loses,’ said I; ‘no, I don’t wish to play.’

‘Why not, my lord?’

‘Why, in the first place, I have no money.’

‘Oh, you have no money, that of course alters the case.  If you have no
money, you can’t play.  Well, I suppose I must be seeing after my
customers,’ said he, glancing over the plain.

‘Good-day,’ said I.

‘Good-day,’ said the man slowly, but without moving, and as if in
reflection.  After a moment or two, looking at me inquiringly, he added,
‘Out of employ?’

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘out of employ.’

The man measured me with his eye as I lay on the ground.  At length he
said, ‘May I speak a word or two to you, my lord?’

‘As many as you please,’ said I.

‘Then just come a little out of hearing, a little farther on the grass,
if you please, my lord.’

‘Why do you call me my lord?’ said I, as I arose and followed him.

‘We of the thimble always calls our customers lords,’ said the man; ‘but
I won’t call you such a foolish name any more; come along.’

The man walked along the plain till he came to the side of a dry pit,
when, looking round to see that no one was nigh, he laid his table on the
grass, and, sitting down with his legs over the side of the pit, he
motioned me to do the same.  ‘So you are in want of employ?’ said he,
after I had sat down beside him.

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘I am very much in want of employ.’

‘I think I can find you some.’

‘What kind?’ said I.

‘Why,’ said the man, ‘I think you would do to be my bonnet.’

‘Bonnet!’ said I, ‘what is that?’

‘Don’t you know?  However, no wonder, as you had never heard of the
thimble and pea game, but I will tell you.  We of the game are very much
exposed; folks when they have lost their money, as those who play with us
mostly do, sometimes uses rough language, calls us cheats, and sometimes
knocks our hats over our eyes; and what’s more, with a kick under our
table, cause the top deals to fly off; this is the third table I have
used this day, the other two being broken by uncivil customers: so we of
the game generally like to have gentlemen go about with us to take our
part, and encourage us, though pretending to know nothing about us; for
example, when the customer says, “I’m cheated,” the bonnet must say, “No,
you ain’t, it is all right”; or, when my hat is knocked over my eyes, the
bonnet must square, and say, “I never saw the man before in all my life,
but I won’t see him ill-used”; and so, when they kicks at the table, the
bonnet must say, “I won’t see the table ill-used, such a nice table, too;
besides, I want to play myself”; and then I would say to the bonnet,
“Thank you, my lord, them that finds, wins”; and then the bonnet plays,
and I lets the bonnet win.’

‘In a word,’ said I, ‘the bonnet means the man who covers you, even as
the real bonnet covers the head.’

‘Just so,’ said the man; ‘I see you are awake, and would soon make a
first-rate bonnet.’

‘Bonnet,’ said I, musingly; ‘bonnet; it is metaphorical.’

‘Is it?’ said the man.

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘like the cant words—’

‘Bonnet is cant,’ said the man; ‘we of the thimble, as well as all
cly-fakers and the like, understand cant, as, of course, must every
bonnet; so, if you are employed by me, you had better learn it as soon as
you can, that we may discourse together without being understood by every
one.  Besides covering his principal, a bonnet must have his eyes about
him, for the trade of the pea, though a strictly honest one, is not
altogether lawful; so it is the duty of the bonnet, if he sees the
constable coming, to say, The gorgio’s welling.’

‘That is not cant,’ said I, ‘that is the language of the Rommany Chals.’

‘Do you know those people?’ said the man.

‘Perfectly,’ said I, ‘and their language too.’

‘I wish I did,’ said the man; ‘I would give ten pounds and more to know
the language of the Rommany Chals.  There’s some of it in the language of
the pea and thimble; how it came there I don’t know, but so it is.  I
wish I knew it, but it is difficult.  You’ll make a capital bonnet; shall
we close?’

‘What would the wages be?’ I demanded.

‘Why, to a first-rate bonnet, as I think you would prove, I could afford
to give from forty to fifty shillings a week.’

‘Is it possible?’ said I.

‘Good wages, ain’t they?’ said the man.

‘First-rate,’ said I; ‘bonneting is more profitable than reviewing.’

‘Anan?’ said the man.

‘Or translating; I don’t think the Armenian would have paid me at that
rate for translating his Esop.’

‘Who is he?’ said the man.

‘Esop?’

‘No, I know what that is, Esop’s cant for a hunchback; but t’other?’

‘You should know,’ said I.

‘Never saw the man in all my life.’

‘Yes, you have,’ said I, ‘and felt him too; don’t you remember the
individual from whom you took the pocket-book?’

‘Oh, that was he; well, the less said about that matter the better; I
have left off that trade, and taken to this, which is a much better.
Between ourselves, I am not sorry that I did not carry off that
pocket-book; if I had, it might have encouraged me in the trade, in which
had I remained, I might have been lagged, sent abroad, as I had been
already imprisoned; so I determined to leave it off at all hazards,
though I was hard up, not having a penny in the world.’

‘And wisely resolved,’ said I; ‘it was a bad and dangerous trade, I
wonder you should ever have embraced it.’

‘It is all very well talking,’ said the man, ‘but there is a reason for
everything; I am the son of a Jewess, by a military officer’—and then the
man told me his story.  I shall not repeat the man’s story, it was a poor
one, a vile one; at last he observed, ‘So that affair which you know of
determined me to leave the filching trade, and take up with a more honest
and safe one; so at last I thought of the pea and thimble, but I wanted
funds, especially to pay for lessons at the hands of a master, for I knew
little about it.’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘how did you get over that difficulty?’

‘Why,’ said the man, ‘I thought I should never have got over it.  What
funds could I raise?  I had nothing to sell; the few clothes I had I
wanted, for we of the thimble must always appear decent, or nobody would
come near us.  I was at my wits’ ends; at last I got over my difficulty
in the strangest way in the world.’

‘What was that?’

‘By an old thing which I had picked up some time before—a book.’

‘A book?’ said I.

‘Yes, which I had taken out of your lordship’s pocket one day as you were
walking the streets in a great hurry.  I thought it was a pocket-book at
first, full of bank-notes, perhaps,’ continued he, laughing.  ‘It was
well for me, however, that it was not, for I should have soon spent the
notes; as it was, I had flung the old thing down with an oath, as soon as
I brought it home.  When I was so hard up, however, after the affair with
that friend of yours, I took it up one day, and thought I might make
something by it to support myself a day with.  Chance or something else
led me into a grand shop; there was a man there who seemed to be the
master, talking to a jolly, portly old gentleman, who seemed to be a
country squire.  Well, I went up to the first, and offered it for sale;
he took the book, opened it at the title-page, and then all of a sudden
his eyes glistened, and he showed it to the fat, jolly gentleman, and his
eyes glistened too, and I heard him say “How singular!” and then the two
talked together in a speech I didn’t understand—I rather thought it was
French, at any rate it wasn’t cant; and presently the first asked me what
I would take for the book.  Now I am not altogether a fool, nor am I
blind, and I had narrowly marked all that passed, and it came into my
head that now was the time for making a man of myself, at any rate I
could lose nothing by a little confidence; so I looked the man boldly in
the face, and said, “I will have five guineas for that book, there ain’t
such another in the whole world.”  “Nonsense,” said the first man, “there
are plenty of them, there have been nearly fifty editions, to my
knowledge; I will give you five shillings.”  “No,” said I, “I’ll not take
it, for I don’t like to be cheated, so give me my book again”; and I
attempted to take it away from the fat gentleman’s hand.  “Stop,” said
the younger man; “are you sure that you won’t take less?”  “Not a
farthing,” said I; which was not altogether true, but I said so.  “Well,”
said the fat gentleman, “I will give you what you ask”; and sure enough
he presently gave me the money; so I made a bow, and was leaving the
shop, when it came into my head that there was something odd in all this,
and, as I had the money in my pocket, I turned back, and, making another
bow, said, “May I be so bold as to ask why you gave me all this money for
that ’ere dirty book?  When I came into the shop, I should have been glad
to get a shilling for it; but I saw you wanted it, and asked five
guineas.”  Then they looked at one another, and smiled, and shrugged up
their shoulders.  Then the first man, looking at me, said, “Friend, you
have been a little too sharp for us; however, we can afford to forgive
you, as my friend here has long since been in quest of this particular
book; there are plenty of editions, as I told you, and a common copy is
not worth five shillings; but this is a first edition; and a copy of the
first edition is worth its weight in gold.”’

‘So, after all, they outwitted you,’ I observed.

‘Clearly,’ said the man; ‘I might have got double the price, had I known
the value; but I don’t care, much good may it do them, it has done me
plenty.  By means of it I have got into an honest, respectable trade, in
which there’s little danger and plenty of profit, and got out of one
which would have got me lagged, sooner or later.’

‘But,’ said I, ‘you ought to remember that the thing was not yours; you
took it from me, who had been requested by a poor old apple-woman to
exchange it for a Bible.’

‘Well,’ said the man, ‘did she ever get her Bible?’

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘she got her Bible.’

‘Then she has no cause to complain; and, as for you, chance or something
else has sent you to me, that I may make you reasonable amends for any
loss you may have had.  Here am I ready to make you my bonnet, with forty
or fifty shillings a week, which you say yourself are capital wages.’

‘I find no fault with the wages,’ said I, ‘but I don’t like the employ.’

‘Not like bonneting,’ said the man; ‘ah, I see, you would like to be
principal; well, a time may come—those long white fingers of yours would
just serve for the business.’

‘Is it a difficult one?’ I demanded.

‘Why, it is not very easy: two things are needful—natural talent, and
constant practice; but I’ll show you a point or two connected with the
game’; and, placing his table between his knees as he sat over the side
of the pit, he produced three thimbles, and a small brown pellet,
something resembling a pea.  He moved the thimble and pellet about, now
placing it to all appearance under one, and now under another; ‘Under
which is it now?’ he said at last.  ‘Under that,’ said I, pointing to the
lowermost of the thimbles, which, as they stood, formed a kind of
triangle.  ‘No,’ said he, ‘it is not, but lift it up’; and, when I lifted
up the thimble, the pellet, in truth, was not under it.  ‘It was under
none of them,’ said he, ‘it was pressed by my little finger against my
palm’; and then he showed me how he did the trick, and asked me if the
game was not a funny one; and, on my answering in the affirmative, he
said, ‘I am glad you like it; come along and let us win some money.’

Thereupon, getting up, he placed the table before him, and was moving
away; observing, however, that I did not stir, he asked me what I was
staying for.  ‘Merely for my own pleasure,’ said I; ‘I like sitting here
very well.’  ‘Then you won’t close?’ said the man.  ‘By no means,’ I
replied; ‘your proposal does not suit me.’  ‘You may be principal in
time,’ said the man.  ‘That makes no difference,’ said I; and, sitting
with my legs over the pit, I forthwith began to decline an Armenian noun.
‘That ain’t cant,’ said the man; ‘no, nor gypsy either.  Well, if you
won’t close, another will, I can’t lose any more time,’ and forthwith he
departed.

And after I had declined four Armenian nouns, of different declensions, I
rose from the side of the pit, and wandered about amongst the various
groups of people scattered over the green.  Presently I came to where the
man of the thimbles was standing, with the table before him, and many
people about him.  ‘Them who finds, wins, and them who can’t find,
loses,’ he cried.  Various individuals tried to find the pellet, but all
were unsuccessful, till at last considerable dissatisfaction was
expressed, and the terms rogue and cheat were lavished upon him.  ‘Never
cheated anybody in all my life,’ he cried; and, observing me at hand,
‘didn’t I play fair, my lord?’ he inquired.  But I made no answer.
Presently some more played, and he permitted one or two to win, and the
eagerness to play with him became greater.  After I had looked on for
some time, I was moving away: just then I perceived a short, thick
personage, with a staff in his hand, advancing in a great hurry;
whereupon, with a sudden impulse, I exclaimed—

SHOON THIMBLE ENGRO;
AVELLA GORGIO.

The man, who was in the midst of his pea-and-thimble process, no sooner
heard the last word of the distich than he turned an alarmed look in the
direction of where I stood; then, glancing around, and perceiving the
constable, he slipped forthwith his pellet and thimbles into his pocket,
and, lifting up his table, he cried to the people about him, ‘Make way!’
and with a motion with his head to me, as if to follow him, he darted off
with a swiftness which the short, pursy constable could by no means
rival; and whither he went, or what became of him, I know not, inasmuch
as I turned away in another direction.



CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR


MR. PETULENGRO—ROMMANY RYE—LIL-WRITERS—ONE’S OWN HORN—LAWFULLY-EARNT
MONEY—THE WOODED HILL—A FAVOURITE—SHOP WINDOW—MUCH WANTED

And as I wandered along the green, I drew near to a place where several
men, with a cask beside them, sat carousing in the neighbourhood of a
small tent.  ‘Here he comes,’ said one of them, as I advanced, and
standing up he raised his voice and sang:—

    ‘Here the Gypsy gemman see,
    With his Roman jib and his rome and dree—
    Rome and dree, rum and dry
    Rally round the Rommany Rye.’

It was Mr. Petulengro, who was here diverting himself with several of his
comrades; they all received me with considerable frankness.  ‘Sit down,
brother,’ said Mr. Petulengro, ‘and take a cup of good ale.’

I sat down.  ‘Your health, gentlemen,’ said I, as I took the cup which
Mr. Petulengro handed to me.

‘Aukko tu pios adrey Rommanis.  Here is your health in Rommany, brother,’
said Mr. Petulengro; who, having refilled the cup, now emptied it at a
draught.

‘Your health in Rommany, brother,’ said Tawno Chikno, to whom the cup
came next.

‘The Rommany Rye,’ said a third.

‘The Gypsy gentleman,’ exclaimed a fourth, drinking.

And then they all sang in chorus:—

    ‘Here the Gypsy gemman see,
    With his Roman jib and his rome and dree—
    Rome and dree, rum and dry
    Rally round the Rommany Rye.’

‘And now, brother,’ said Mr. Petulengro, ‘seeing that you have drunk and
been drunken, you will perhaps tell us where you have been, and what
about?’

‘I have been in the Big City,’ said I, ‘writing lils.’

‘How much money have you got in your pocket, brother?’ said Mr.
Petulengro.

‘Eighteenpence,’ said I; ‘all I have in the world.’

‘I have been in the Big City, too,’ said Mr. Petulengro; ‘but I have not
written lils—I have fought in the ring—I have fifty pounds in my pocket—I
have much more in the world.  Brother, there is considerable difference
between us.’

‘I would rather be the lil-writer, after all,’ said the tall, handsome
black man; ‘indeed, I would wish for nothing better.’

‘Why so?’ said Mr. Petulengro.

‘Because they have so much to say for themselves,’ said the black man,
‘even when dead and gone.  When they are laid in the churchyard, it is
their own fault if people ain’t talking of them.  Who will know, after I
am dead, or bitchadey pawdel, that I was once the beauty of the world, or
that you Jasper were—’

‘The best man in England of my inches.  That’s true, Tawno—however,
here’s our brother will perhaps let the world know something about us.’

‘Not he,’ said the other, with a sigh; ‘he’ll have quite enough to do in
writing his own lils, and telling the world how handsome and clever he
was; and who can blame him?  Not I.  If I could write lils, every word
should be about myself and my own tacho Rommanis—my own lawful wedded
wife, which is the same thing.  I tell you what, brother, I once heard a
wise man say in Brummagem, that “there is nothing like blowing one’s own
horn,” which I conceive to be much the same thing as writing one’s own
lil.’

After a little more conversation, Mr. Petulengro arose, and motioned me
to follow him.  ‘Only eighteenpence in the world, brother?’ said he, as
we walked together.

‘Nothing more, I assure you.  How came you to ask me how much money I
had?’

‘Because there was something in your look, brother, something very much
resembling that which a person showeth who does not carry much money in
his pocket.  I was looking at my own face this morning in my wife’s
looking-glass—I did not look as you do, brother.’

‘I believe your sole motive for inquiring,’ said I, ‘was to have an
opportunity of venting a foolish boast, and to let me know that you were
in possession of fifty pounds.’

‘What is the use of having money unless you let people know you have it?’
said Mr. Petulengro.  ‘It is not everyone can read faces, brother; and,
unless you knew I had money, how could you ask me to lend you any?’

‘I am not going to ask you to lend me any.’

‘Then you may have it without asking; as I said before, I have fifty
pounds, all lawfully-earnt money, got by fighting in the ring—I will lend
you that, brother.’

‘You are very kind,’ said I; ‘but I will not take it.’

‘Then the half of it?’

‘Nor the half of it; but it is getting towards evening, I must go back to
the Great City.’

‘And what will you do in the Boro Foros?’

‘I know not,’ said I.

‘Earn money?’

‘If I can.’

‘And if you can’t?’

‘Starve!’

‘You look ill, brother,’ said Mr. Petulengro.

‘I do not feel well; the Great City does not agree with me.  Should I be
so fortunate as to earn some money, I would leave the Big City, and take
to the woods and fields.’

‘You may do that, brother,’ said Mr. Petulengro, ‘whether you have money
or not.  Our tents and horses are on the other side of yonder wooded
hill, come and stay with us; we shall all be glad of your company, but
more especially myself and my wife Pakomovna.’

‘What hill is that?’ I demanded.

And then Mr. Petulengro told me the name of the hill.  ‘We shall stay on
t’other side of the hill a fortnight,’ he continued; ‘and, as you are
fond of lil-writing, you may employ yourself profitably whilst there.
You can write the lil of him whose dook gallops down that hill every
night, even as the living man was wont to do long ago.’

‘Who was he?’ I demanded.

‘Jemmy Abershaw,’ said Mr. Petulengro; ‘one of those whom we call Boro
drom engroes, and the gorgios highwaymen.  I once heard a rye say that
the life of that man would fetch much money; so come to the other side of
the hill, and write the lil in the tent of Jasper and his wife
Pakomovna.’

At first I felt inclined to accept the invitation of Mr. Petulengro; a
little consideration, however, determined me to decline it.  I had always
been on excellent terms with Mr. Petulengro, but I reflected that people
might be excellent friends when they met occasionally in the street, or
on the heath, or in the wood; but that these very people when living
together in a house, to say nothing of a tent, might quarrel.  I
reflected, moreover, that Mr. Petulengro had a wife.  I had always, it is
true, been a great favourite with Mrs. Petulengro, who had frequently
been loud in her commendation of the young rye, as she called me, and his
turn of conversation; but this was at a time when I stood in need of
nothing, lived under my parents’ roof, and only visited at the tents to
divert and to be diverted.  The times were altered, and I was by no means
certain that Mrs. Petulengro, when she should discover that I was in need
both of shelter and subsistence, might not alter her opinion both with
respect to the individual and what he said—stigmatising my conversation
as saucy discourse, and myself as a scurvy companion; and that she might
bring over her husband to her own way of thinking, provided, indeed, he
should need any conducting.  I therefore, though without declaring my
reasons, declined the offer of Mr. Petulengro, and presently, after
shaking him by the hand, bent again my course towards the Great City.

I crossed the river at a bridge considerably above that hight of London;
for, not being acquainted with the way, I missed the turning which should
have brought me to the latter.  Suddenly I found myself in a street of
which I had some recollection, and mechanically stopped before the window
of a shop at which various publications were exposed; it was that of the
bookseller to whom I had last applied in the hope of selling my ballads
or Ab Gwilym, and who had given me hopes that, in the event of my writing
a decent novel, or a tale, he would prove a purchaser.  As I stood
listlessly looking at the window, and the publications which it
contained, I observed a paper affixed to the glass by wafers with
something written upon it.  I drew yet nearer for the purpose of
inspecting it; the writing was in a fair round hand—‘A Novel or Tale is
much wanted,’ was what was written.



CHAPTER FIFTY-FIVE


BREAD AND WATER—FAIR PLAY—FASHIONABLE LIFE—COLONEL B--- OR JOSEPH
SELL—THE KINDLY GLOW

‘I must do something,’ said I, as I sat that night in my lonely
apartment, with some bread and a pitcher of water before me.

Thereupon taking some of the bread, and eating it, I considered what I
was to do.  ‘I have no idea what I am to do,’ said I, as I stretched my
hand towards the pitcher, ‘unless (and here I took a considerable
draught) I write a tale or a novel—  That bookseller,’ I continued,
speaking to myself, ‘is certainly much in need of a tale or a novel,
otherwise he would not advertise for one.  Suppose I write one, I appear
to have no other chance of extricating myself from my present
difficulties; surely it was Fate that conducted me to his window.

‘I will do it,’ said I, as I struck my hand against the table; ‘I will do
it.’  Suddenly a heavy cloud of despondency came over me.  Could I do it?
Had I the imagination requisite to write a tale or a novel?  ‘Yes, yes,’
said I, as I struck my hand again against the table, ‘I can manage it;
give me fair play, and I can accomplish anything.’

But should I have fair play?  I must have something to maintain myself
with whilst I wrote my tale, and I had but eighteenpence in the world.
Would that maintain me whilst I wrote my tale?  Yes, I thought it would,
provided I ate bread, which did not cost much, and drank water, which
cost nothing; it was poor diet, it was true, but better men than myself
had written on bread and water; had not the big man told me so? or
something to that effect, months before?

It was true there was my lodging to pay for; but up to the present time I
owed nothing, and perhaps, by the time that the people of the house asked
me for money, I should have written a tale or a novel, which would bring
me in money; I had paper, pens, and ink, and, let me not forget them, I
had candles in my closet, all paid for, to light me during my night work.
Enough, I would go doggedly to work upon my tale or novel.

But what was the tale or novel to be about?  Was it to be a tale of
fashionable life, about Sir Harry Somebody, and the Countess something?
But I knew nothing about fashionable people, and cared less; therefore
how should I attempt to describe fashionable life?  What should the tale
consist of?  The life and adventures of some one.  Good—but of whom?  Did
not Mr. Petulengro mention one Jemmy Abershaw?  Yes.  Did he not tell me
that the life and adventures of Jemmy Abershaw would bring in much money
to the writer?  Yes, but I knew nothing of that worthy.  I heard, it is
true, from Mr. Petulengro, that when alive he committed robberies on the
hill, on the side of which Mr. Petulengro had pitched his tents, and that
his ghost still haunted the hill at midnight; but those were scant
materials out of which to write the man’s life.  It is probable, indeed,
that Mr. Petulengro would be able to supply me with further materials if
I should apply to him, but I was in a hurry, and could not afford the
time which it would be necessary to spend in passing to and from Mr.
Petulengro, and consulting him.  Moreover, my pride revolted at the idea
of being beholden to Mr. Petulengro for the materials of the history.
No, I would not write the history of Abershaw.  Whose then—Harry Simms?
Alas, the life of Harry Simms had been already much better written by
himself than I could hope to do it; and, after all, Harry Simms, like
Jemmy Abershaw, was merely a robber.  Both, though bold and extraordinary
men, were merely highwaymen.  I questioned whether I could compose a tale
likely to excite any particular interest out of the exploits of a mere
robber.  I want a character for my hero, thought I, something higher than
a mere robber; someone like—like Colonel B---.  By the way, why should I
not write the life and adventures of Colonel B---, of Londonderry in
Ireland?

A truly singular man was this same Colonel B---, of Londonderry in
Ireland; a personage of most strange and incredible feats and daring, who
had been a partizan soldier, a bravo—who, assisted by certain
discontented troopers, nearly succeeded in stealing the crown and regalia
from the Tower of London; who attempted to hang the Duke of Ormond at
Tyburn; and whose strange, eventful career did not terminate even with
his life, his dead body, on the circulation of an unfounded report that
he did not come to his death by fair means, having been exhumed by the
mob of his native place, where he had retired to die, and carried in the
coffin through the streets.

Of his life I had inserted an account in the _Newgate Lives and Trials_;
it was bare and meagre, and written in the stiff, awkward style of the
seventeenth century; it had, however, strongly captivated my imagination,
and I now thought that out of it something better could be made; that, if
I added to the adventures, and purified the style, I might fashion out of
it a very decent tale or novel.  On a sudden, however, the proverb of
mending old garments with new cloth occurred to me.  ‘I am afraid,’ said
I, ‘any new adventures which I can invent will not fadge well with the
old tale; one will but spoil the other.’  I had better have nothing to do
with Colonel B---, thought I, but boldly and independently sit down and
write the life of Joseph Sell.

This Joseph Sell, dear reader, was a fictitious personage who had just
come into my head.  I had never even heard of the name; but just at that
moment it happened to come into my head; I would write an entirely
fictitious narrative, called the _Life and Adventures of Joseph Sell_,
the great traveller.

I had better begin at once, thought I; and removing the bread and the
jug, which latter was now empty, I seized pen and paper, and forthwith
essayed to write the life of Joseph Sell, but soon discovered that it is
much easier to resolve upon a thing than to achieve it, or even to
commence it; for the life of me I did not know how to begin, and, after
trying in vain to write a line, I thought it would be as well to go to
bed, and defer my projected undertaking till the morrow.

So I went to bed, but not to sleep.  During the greater part of the night
I lay awake, musing upon the work which I had determined to execute.  For
a long time my brain was dry and unproductive; I could form no plan which
appeared feasible.  At length I felt within my brain a kindly glow; it
was the commencement of inspiration; in a few minutes I had formed my
plan; I then began to imagine the scenes and the incidents.  Scenes and
incidents flitted before my mind’s eye so plentifully, that I knew not
how to dispose of them; I was in a regular embarrassment.  At length I
got out of the difficulty in the easiest manner imaginable, namely, by
consigning to the depths of oblivion all the feebler and less stimulant
scenes and incidents, and retaining the better and more impressive ones.
Before morning I had sketched the whole work on the tablets of my mind,
and then resigned myself to sleep in the pleasing conviction that the
most difficult part of my undertaking was achieved.



CHAPTER FIFTY-SIX


CONSIDERABLY SOBERED—THE POWER OF WRITING—THE TEMPTER—THE HUNGRY
TALENT—WORK CONCLUDED

Rather late in the morning I awoke; for a few minutes I lay still,
perfectly still; my imagination was considerably sobered; the scenes and
situations which had pleased me so much over night appeared to me in a
far less captivating guise that morning.  I felt languid and almost
hopeless—the thought, however, of my situation soon roused me.  I must
make an effort to improve the posture of my affairs; there was no time to
be lost; so I sprang out of bed, breakfasted on bread and water, and then
sat down doggedly to write the life of Joseph Sell.

It was a great thing to have formed my plan, and to have arranged the
scenes in my head, as I had done on the preceding night.  The chief thing
requisite at present was the mere mechanical act of committing them to
paper.  This I did not find at first so easy as I could wish—I wanted
mechanical skill; but I persevered, and before evening I had written ten
pages.  I partook of some bread and water; and before I went to bed that
night, I had completed fifteen pages of my life of Joseph Sell.

The next day I resumed my task—I found my power of writing considerably
increased; my pen hurried rapidly over the paper—my brain was in a
wonderfully teeming state; many scenes and visions which I had not
thought of before were evolved, and as fast as evolved, written down;
they seemed to be more pat to my purpose, and more natural to my history,
than many others which I had imagined before, and which I made now give
place to these newer creations: by about midnight I had added thirty
fresh pages to my _Life and Adventures of Joseph Sell_.

The third day arose—it was dark and dreary out of doors, and I passed it
drearily enough within; my brain appeared to have lost much of its former
glow, and my pen much of its power; I, however, toiled on, but at
midnight had only added seven pages to my history of Joseph Sell.

On the fourth day the sun shone brightly—I arose, and, having breakfasted
as usual, I fell to work.  My brain was this day wonderfully prolific,
and my pen never before or since glided so rapidly over the paper;
towards night I began to feel strangely about the back part of my head,
and my whole system was extraordinarily affected.  I likewise
occasionally saw double—a tempter now seemed to be at work within me.

‘You had better leave off now for a short space,’ said the tempter, ‘and
go out and drink a pint of beer; you have still one shilling left—if you
go on at this rate, you will go mad—go out and spend sixpence, you can
afford it, more than half your work is done.’  I was about to obey the
suggestion of the tempter, when the idea struck me that, if I did not
complete the work whilst the fit was on me, I should never complete it;
so I held on.  I am almost afraid to state how many pages I wrote that
day of the life of Joseph Sell.

From this time I proceeded in a somewhat more leisurely manner; but, as I
drew nearer and nearer to the completion of my task, dreadful fears and
despondencies came over me.—It will be too late, thought I; by the time I
have finished the work, the bookseller will have been supplied with a
tale or a novel.  Is it probable that, in a town like this, where talent
is so abundant—hungry talent too—a bookseller can advertise for a tale or
a novel, without being supplied with half a dozen in twenty-four hours?
I may as well fling down my pen—I am writing to no purpose.  And these
thoughts came over my mind so often, that at last, in utter despair, I
flung down the pen.  Whereupon the tempter within me said—‘And, now you
have flung down the pen, you may as well fling yourself out of the
window; what remains for you to do?’  Why, to take it up again, thought I
to myself, for I did not like the latter suggestion at all—and then
forthwith I resumed the pen, and wrote with greater vigour than before,
from about six o’clock in the evening until I could hardly see, when I
rested for a while, when the tempter within me again said, or appeared to
say—‘All you have been writing is stuff, it will never do—a drug—a mere
drug’; and methought these last words were uttered in the gruff tones of
the big publisher.  ‘A thing merely to be sneezed at,’ a voice like that
of Taggart added; and then I seemed to hear a sternutation,—as I probably
did, for recovering from a kind of swoon, I found myself shivering with
cold.  The next day I brought my work to a conclusion.

But the task of revision still remained; for an hour or two I shrank from
it, and remained gazing stupidly at the pile of paper which I had written
over.  I was all but exhausted, and I dreaded, on inspecting the sheets,
to find them full of absurdities which I had paid no regard to in the
furor of composition.  But the task, however trying to my nerves, must be
got over; at last, in a kind of desperation, I entered upon it.  It was
far from an easy one; there were, however, fewer errors and absurdities
than I had anticipated.  About twelve o’clock at night I had got over the
task of revision.  ‘To-morrow for the bookseller,’ said I, as my head
sank on the pillow.  ‘Oh me!’



CHAPTER FIFTY-SEVEN


NERVOUS LOOK—THE BOOKSELLER’S WIFE—THE LAST STAKE—TERMS—GOD FORBID!—WILL
YOU COME TO TEA?

On arriving at the bookseller’s shop, I cast a nervous look at the
window, for the purpose of observing whether the paper had been removed
or not.  To my great delight the paper was in its place; with a beating
heart I entered, there was nobody in the shop; as I stood at the counter,
however, deliberating whether or not I should call out, the door of what
seemed to be a back-parlour opened, and out came a well-dressed lady-like
female, of about thirty, with a good-looking and intelligent countenance.
‘What is your business, young man?’ said she to me, after I had made her
a polite bow.  ‘I wish to speak to the gentleman of the house,’ said I.
‘My husband is not within at present,’ she replied; ‘what is your
business?’  ‘I have merely brought something to show him,’ said I, ‘but I
will call again.’  ‘If you are the young gentleman who has been here
before,’ said the lady, ‘with poems and ballads, as, indeed, I know you
are,’ she added, smiling, ‘for I have seen you through the glass door, I
am afraid it will be useless; that is,’ she added with another smile, ‘if
you bring us nothing else.’  ‘I have not brought you poems and ballads,
now,’ said I, ‘but something widely different; I saw your advertisement
for a tale or a novel, and have written something which I think will
suit; and here it is,’ I added, showing the roll of paper which I held in
my hand.  ‘Well,’ said the bookseller’s wife, ‘you may leave it, though I
cannot promise you much chance of its being accepted.  My husband has
already had several offered to him; however, you may leave it; give it
me.  Are you afraid to intrust it to me?’ she demanded somewhat hastily,
observing that I hesitated.  ‘Excuse me,’ said I, ‘but it is all I have
to depend upon in the world; I am chiefly apprehensive that it will not
be read.’  ‘On that point I can reassure you,’ said the good lady,
smiling, and there was now something sweet in her smile.  ‘I give you my
word that it shall be read; come again to-morrow morning at eleven, when,
if not approved, it shall be returned to you.’

I returned to my lodging, and forthwith betook myself to bed,
notwithstanding the earliness of the hour.  I felt tolerably tranquil; I
had now cast my last stake, and was prepared to abide by the result.
Whatever that result might be, I could have nothing to reproach myself
with; I had strained all the energies which nature had given me in order
to rescue myself from the difficulties which surrounded me.  I presently
sank into a sleep, which endured during the remainder of the day, and the
whole of the succeeding night.  I awoke about nine on the morrow, and
spent my last threepence on a breakfast somewhat more luxurious than the
immediately preceding ones, for one penny of the sum was expended on the
purchase of milk.

At the appointed hour I repaired to the house of the bookseller; the
bookseller was in his shop.  ‘Ah,’ said he, as soon as I entered, ‘I am
glad to see you.’  There was an unwonted heartiness in the bookseller’s
tones, an unwonted benignity in his face.  ‘So,’ said he, after a pause,
‘you have taken my advice, written a book of adventure; nothing like
taking the advice, young man, of your superiors in age.  Well, I think
your book will do, and so does my wife, for whose judgment I have a great
regard; as well I may, as she is the daughter of a first-rate novelist,
deceased.  I think I shall venture on sending your book to the press.’
‘But,’ said I, ‘we have not yet agreed upon terms.’  ‘Terms, terms,’ said
the bookseller; ‘ahem! well, there is nothing like coming to terms at
once.  I will print the book, and give you half the profit when the
edition is sold.’  ‘That will not do,’ said I; ‘I intend shortly to leave
London: I must have something at once.’  ‘Ah, I see,’ said the
bookseller, ‘in distress; frequently the case with authors, especially
young ones.  Well, I don’t care if I purchase it of you, but you must be
moderate; the public are very fastidious, and the speculation may prove a
losing one after all.  Let me see, will five-hem—’ he stopped.  I looked
the bookseller in the face; there was something peculiar in it.  Suddenly
it appeared to me as if the voice of him of the thimble sounded in my
ear, ‘Now is your time, ask enough, never such another chance of
establishing yourself; respectable trade, pea and thimble.’  ‘Well,’ said
I at last, ‘I have no objection to take the offer which you were about to
make, though I really think five-and-twenty guineas to be scarcely
enough, everything considered.’  ‘Five-and-twenty guineas!’ said the
bookseller; ‘are you—what was I going to say—I never meant to offer half
as much—I mean a quarter; I was going to say five guineas—I mean pounds;
I will, however, make it up guineas.’  ‘That will not do,’ said I; ‘but,
as I find we shall not deal, return me my manuscript, that I may carry it
to some one else.’  The bookseller looked blank.  ‘Dear me,’ said he, ‘I
should never have supposed that you would have made any objection to such
an offer; I am quite sure that you would have been glad to take five
pounds for either of the two huge manuscripts of songs and ballads that
you brought me on a former occasion.’  ‘Well,’ said I, ‘if you will
engage to publish either of those two manuscripts, you shall have the
present one for five pounds.’  ‘God forbid that I should make any such
bargain!’ said the bookseller; ‘I would publish neither on any account;
but, with respect to this last book, I have really an inclination to
print it, both for your sake and mine; suppose we say ten pounds.’  ‘No,’
said I, ‘ten pounds will not do; pray restore me my manuscript.’  ‘Stay,’
said the bookseller, ‘my wife is in the next room, I will go and consult
her.’  Thereupon he went into his back room, where I heard him conversing
with his wife in a low tone; in about ten minutes he returned.  ‘Young
gentleman,’ said he, ‘perhaps you will take tea with us this evening,
when we will talk further over the matter.’

That evening I went and took tea with the bookseller and his wife, both
of whom, particularly the latter, overwhelmed me with civility.  It was
not long before I learned that the work had been already sent to the
press, and was intended to stand at the head of a series of entertaining
narratives, from which my friends promised themselves considerable
profit.  The subject of terms was again brought forward.  I stood firm to
my first demand for a long time; when, however, the bookseller’s wife
complimented me on my production in the highest terms, and said that she
discovered therein the germs of genius, which she made no doubt would
some day prove ornamental to my native land, I consented to drop my
demand to twenty pounds, stipulating, however, that I should not be
troubled with the correction of the work.

Before I departed, I received the twenty pounds, and departed with a
light heart to my lodgings.

Reader, amidst the difficulties and dangers of this life, should you ever
be tempted to despair, call to mind these latter chapters of the life of
Lavengro.  There are few positions, however difficult, from which dogged
resolution and perseverance may not liberate you.



CHAPTER FIFTY-EIGHT


INDISPOSITION—A RESOLUTION—POOR EQUIVALENTS—THE PIECE OF GOLD—FLASHING
EYES—HOW BEAUTIFUL

I had long ago determined to leave London as soon as the means should be
in my power, and, now that they were, I determined to leave the Great
City, yet I felt some reluctance to go.  I would fain have pursued the
career of original authorship which had just opened itself to me, and
have written other tales of adventure.  The bookseller had given me
encouragement enough to do so; he had assured me that he should be always
happy to deal with me for an article (that was the word) similar to the
one I had brought him, provided my terms were moderate; and the
bookseller’s wife, by her complimentary language, had given me yet more
encouragement.  But for some months past I had been far from well, and my
original indisposition, brought on partly by the peculiar atmosphere of
the Big City, partly by anxiety of mind, had been much increased by the
exertions which I had been compelled to make during the last few days.  I
felt that, were I to remain where I was, I should die, or become a
confirmed valetudinarian.  I would go forth into the country, travelling
on foot, and, by exercise and inhaling pure air, endeavour to recover my
health, leaving my subsequent movements to be determined by Providence.

But whither should I bend my course?  Once or twice I thought of walking
home to the old town, stay some time with my mother and my brother, and
enjoy the pleasant walks in the neighbourhood; but, though I wished very
much to see my mother and my brother, and felt much disposed to enjoy the
said pleasant walks, the old town was not exactly the place to which I
wished to go at this present juncture.  I was afraid that people would
ask, Where are your Northern Ballads?  Where are your alliterative
translations from Ab Gwilym—of which you were always talking, and with
which you promised to astonish the world?  Now, in the event of such
interrogations, what could I answer?  It is true I had compiled _Newgate
__Lives and Trials_, and had written the life of Joseph Sell, but I was
afraid that the people of the old town would scarcely consider these as
equivalents for the Northern Ballads and the songs of Ab Gwilym.  I would
go forth and wander in any direction but that of the old town.

But how one’s sensibility on any particular point diminishes with time;
at present I enter the old town perfectly indifferent as to what the
people may be thinking on the subject of the songs and ballads.  With
respect to the people themselves, whether, like my sensibility, their
curiosity has altogether evaporated, whether, which is at least equally
probable, they never entertained any, one thing is certain, that never in
a single instance have they troubled me with any remarks on the subject
of the songs and ballads.

As it was my intention to travel on foot, with a bundle and a stick, I
despatched my trunk containing some few clothes and books to the old
town.  My preparations were soon made; in about three days I was in
readiness to start.

Before departing, however, I bethought me of my old friend the
apple-woman of London Bridge.  Apprehensive that she might be labouring
under the difficulties of poverty, I sent her a piece of gold by the
hands of a young maiden in the house in which I lived.  The latter
punctually executed her commission, but brought me back the piece of
gold.  The old woman would not take it; she did not want it, she said,
‘Tell the poor thin lad,’ she added, ‘to keep it for himself, he wants it
more than I.’

Rather late one afternoon I departed from my lodging, with my stick in
one hand and a small bundle in the other, shaping my course to the
south-west: when I first arrived, somewhat more than a year before, I had
entered the city by the north-east.  As I was not going home, I
determined to take my departure in the direction the very opposite to
home.

Just as I was about to cross the street called the Haymarket, at the
lower part, a cabriolet, drawn by a magnificent animal, came dashing
along at a furious rate; it stopped close by the curb-stone where I was,
a sudden pull of the reins nearly bringing the spirited animal upon its
haunches.  The Jehu who had accomplished this feat was Francis Ardry.  A
small beautiful female, with flashing eyes, dressed in the extremity of
fashion, sat beside him.

‘Holloa, friend,’ said Francis Ardry, ‘whither bound?’

‘I do not know,’ said I; ‘all I can say is, that I am about to leave
London.’

‘And the means?’ said Francis Ardry.

‘I have them,’ said I, with a cheerful smile.

‘Qui est celui-ci?’ demanded the small female, impatiently.

‘C’est—mon ami le plus intime; so you were about to leave London, without
telling me a word,’ said Francis Ardry, somewhat angrily.

‘I intended to have written to you,’ said I: ‘what a splendid mare that
is.’

‘Is she not?’ said Francis Ardry, who was holding in the mare with
difficulty; ‘she cost a hundred guineas.’

‘Qu’est ce qu’il dit?’ demanded his companion.

‘Il dit que le jument est bien beau.’

‘Allons, mon ami, il est tard,’ said the beauty, with a scornful toss of
her head; ‘allons!’

‘Encore un moment,’ said Francis Ardry; ‘and when shall I see you again?’

‘I scarcely know,’ I replied: ‘I never saw a more splendid turn out.’

‘Qu’est ce qu’il dit?’ said the lady again.

‘Il dit que tout l’équipage est en assez bon goût.’

‘Allons, c’est un ours,’ said the lady; ‘le cheval même en a peur,’ added
she, as the mare reared up on high.

‘Can you find nothing else to admire but the mare and the equipage?’ said
Francis Ardry, reproachfully, after he had with some difficulty brought
the mare to order.

Lifting my hand, in which I held my stick, I took off my hat.  ‘How
beautiful!’ said I, looking the lady full in the face.

‘Comment?’ said the lady, inquiringly.

‘Il dit que vous êtes belle comme un ange,’ said Francis Ardry,
emphatically.

‘Mais, à la bonne heure! arrêtez, mon ami,’ said the lady to Francis
Ardry, who was about to drive off; ‘je voudrais bien causer un moment
avec lui; arrêtez, il est délicieux.—Est-ce bien ainsi que vous traitez
vos amis?’ said she passionately, as Francis Ardry lifted up his whip.
‘Bon jour, Monsieur, bon jour,’ said she, thrusting her head from the
side and looking back, as Francis Ardry drove off at the rate of thirteen
miles an hour.



CHAPTER FIFTY-NINE


THE MILESTONE—MEDITATION—WANT TO GET UP?—SIXTEEN SHILLINGS—NEAR-HAND
WHEELER—ALL RIGHT

In about two hours I had cleared the Great City, and got beyond the
suburban villages, or rather towns, in the direction in which I was
travelling; I was in a broad and excellent road, leading I knew not
whither.  I now slackened my pace, which had hitherto been great.
Presently, coming to a milestone on which was graven nine miles, I rested
against it, and looking round towards the vast city, which had long
ceased to be visible, I fell into a train of meditation.

I thought of all my ways and doings since the day of my first arrival in
that vast city—I had worked and toiled, and, though I had accomplished
nothing at all commensurate with the hopes which I had entertained
previous to my arrival, I had achieved my own living, preserved my
independence, and become indebted to no one.  I was now quitting it, poor
in purse, it is true, but not wholly empty; rather ailing it may be, but
not broken in health; and, with hope within my bosom, had I not cause
upon the whole to be thankful?  Perhaps there were some who, arriving at
the same time under not more favourable circumstances, had accomplished
much more, and whose future was far more hopeful—Good!  But there might
be others who, in spite of all their efforts, had been either trodden
down in the press, never more to be heard of, or were quitting that
mighty town broken in purse, broken in health, and, oh! with not one dear
hope to cheer them.  Had I not, upon the whole, abundant cause to be
grateful?  Truly, yes!

My meditation over, I left the milestone and proceeded on my way in the
same direction as before until the night began to close in.  I had always
been a good pedestrian; but now, whether owing to indisposition or to not
having for some time past been much in the habit of taking such lengthy
walks, I began to feel not a little weary.  Just as I was thinking of
putting up for the night at the next inn or public-house I should arrive
at, I heard what sounded like a coach coming up rapidly behind me.
Induced, perhaps, by the weariness which I felt, I stopped and looked
wistfully in the direction of the sound; presently up came a coach,
seemingly a mail, drawn by four bounding horses—there was no one upon it
but the coachman and the guard; when nearly parallel with me it stopped.
‘Want to get up?’ sounded a voice, in the true coachman-like-tone—half
querulous, half authoritative.  I hesitated; I was tired, it is true, but
I had left London bound on a pedestrian excursion, and I did not much
like the idea of having recourse to a coach after accomplishing so very
inconsiderable a distance.  ‘Come, we can’t be staying here all night,’
said the voice, more sharply than before.  ‘I can ride a little way, and
get down whenever I like,’ thought I; and springing forward I clambered
up the coach, and was going to sit down upon the box, next the coachman.
‘No, no,’ said the coachman, who was a man about thirty, with a hooked
nose and red face, dressed in a fashionably-cut greatcoat, with a
fashionable black castor on his head.  ‘No, no, keep behind—the box ain’t
for the like of you,’ said he, as he drove off; ‘the box is for lords, or
gentlemen at least.’  I made no answer, ‘D--- that off-hand leader,’ said
the coachman, as the right-hand front horse made a desperate start at
something he saw in the road; and, half-rising, he with great dexterity
hit with his long whip the off-hand leader a cut on the off cheek.
‘These seem to be fine horses,’ said I.  The coachman made no answer.
‘Nearly thoroughbred,’ I continued; the coachman drew his breath, with a
kind of hissing sound, through his teeth.  ‘Come, young fellow, none of
your chaff.  Don’t you think, because you ride on my mail, I’m going to
talk to you about ’orses.  I talk to nobody about ’orses except lords.’
‘Well,’ said I, ‘I have been called a lord in my time.’  ‘It must have
been by a thimble-rigger, then,’ said the coachman, bending back, and
half turning his face round with a broad leer.  ‘You have hit the mark
wonderfully,’ said I.  ‘You coachmen, whatever else you may be, are
certainly no fools.’  ‘We ain’t, ain’t we?’ said the coachman.  ‘There
you are right; and, to show you that you are, I’ll now trouble you for
your fare.  If you have been amongst the thimble-riggers you must be
tolerably well cleared out.  Where are you going?—to ---?  I think I have
seen you there.  The fare is sixteen shillings.  Come, tip us the blunt;
them that has no money can’t ride on my mail.’

Sixteen shillings was a large sum, and to pay it would make a
considerable inroad on my slender finances; I thought, at first, that I
would say I did not want to go so far; but then the fellow would ask at
once where I wanted to go, and I was ashamed to acknowledge my utter
ignorance of the road.  I determined, therefore, to pay the fare, with a
tacit determination not to mount a coach in future without knowing
whither I was going.  So I paid the man the money, who, turning round,
shouted to the guard—‘All right, Jem; got fare to ---’; and forthwith
whipped on his horses, especially the off-hand leader, for whom he seemed
to entertain a particular spite, to greater speed than before—the horses
flew.

A young moon gave a feeble light, partially illuminating a line of road
which, appearing by no means interesting, I the less regretted having
paid my money for the privilege of being hurried along it in the flying
vehicle.  We frequently changed horses; and at last my friend the
coachman was replaced by another, the very image of himself—hawk nose,
red face, with narrow-rimmed hat and fashionable benjamin.  After he had
driven about fifty yards, the new coachman fell to whipping one of the
horses.  ‘D--- this near-hand wheeler,’ said he, ‘the brute has got a
corn.’  ‘Whipping him won’t cure him of his corn,’ said I.  ‘Who told you
to speak?’ said the driver, with an oath; ‘mind your own business;
’tisn’t from the like of you I am to learn to drive ’orses.’  Presently I
fell into a broken kind of slumber.  In an hour or two I was aroused by a
rough voice—‘Got to ---, young man; get down if you please.’  I opened my
eyes—there was a dim and indistinct light, like that which precedes dawn;
the coach was standing still in something like a street; just below me
stood the guard.  ‘Do you mean to get down,’ said he, ‘or will you keep
us here till morning? other fares want to get up.’  Scarcely knowing what
I did, I took my bundle and stick and descended, whilst two people
mounted.  ‘All right, John,’ said the guard to the coachman, springing up
behind; whereupon off whisked the coach, one or two individuals who were
standing by disappeared, and I was left alone.



CHAPTER SIXTY


THE STILL HOUR—A THRILL—THE WONDROUS CIRCLE—THE SHEPHERD—HEAPS AND
BARROWS—WHAT DO YOU MEAN?—THE MILK OF THE PLAINS—HENGIST SPARED IT

After standing still, a minute or two, considering what I should do, I
moved down what appeared to be the street of a small straggling town;
presently I passed by a church, which rose indistinctly on my right hand;
anon there was the rustling of foliage and the rushing of waters.  I
reached a bridge, beneath which a small stream was running in the
direction of the south.  I stopped and leaned over the parapet, for I
have always loved to look upon streams, especially at the still hours.
‘What stream is this, I wonder?’ said I, as I looked down from the
parapet into the water, which whirled and gurgled below.

Leaving the bridge, I ascended a gentle acclivity, and presently reached
what appeared to be a tract of moory undulating ground.  It was now
tolerably light, but there was a mist or haze abroad which prevented my
seeing objects with much precision.  I felt chill in the damp air of the
early morn, and walked rapidly forward.  In about half an hour I arrived
where the road divided into two, at an angle or tongue of dark green
sward.  ‘To the right or the left?’ said I, and forthwith took, without
knowing why, the left-hand road, along which I proceeded about a hundred
yards, when, in the midst of the tongue of sward formed by the two roads,
collaterally with myself, I perceived what I at first conceived to be a
small grove of blighted trunks of oaks, barked and grey.  I stood still
for a moment, and then, turning off the road, advanced slowly towards it
over the sward; as I drew nearer, I perceived that the objects which had
attracted my curiosity, and which formed a kind of circle, were not
trees, but immense upright stones.  A thrill pervaded my system; just
before me were two, the mightiest of the whole, tall as the stems of
proud oaks, supporting on their tops a huge transverse stone, and forming
a wonderful doorway.  I knew now where I was, and, laying down my stick
and bundle, and taking off my hat, I advanced slowly, and cast myself—it
was folly, perhaps, but I could not help what I did—cast myself, with my
face on the dewy earth, in the middle of the portal of giants, beneath
the transverse stone.

The spirit of Stonehenge was strong upon me!

And after I had remained with my face on the ground for some time, I
arose, placed my hat on my head, and, taking up my stick and bundle,
wandered round the wondrous circle, examining each individual stone, from
the greatest to the least; and then, entering by the great door, seated
myself upon an immense broad stone, one side of which was supported by
several small ones, and the other slanted upon the earth; and there, in
deep meditation, I sat for an hour or two, till the sun shone in my face
above the tall stones of the eastern side.

And as I still sat there, I heard the noise of bells, and presently a
large number of sheep came browsing past the circle of stones; two or
three entered, and grazed upon what they could find, and soon a man also
entered the circle at the northern side.

‘Early here, sir,’ said the man, who was tall, and dressed in a dark
green slop, and had all the appearance of a shepherd; ‘a traveller, I
suppose?’

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘I am a traveller; are these sheep yours?’

‘They are, sir; that is, they are my master’s.  A strange place this,
sir,’ said he, looking at the stones; ‘ever here before?’

‘Never in body, frequently in mind.’

‘Heard of the stones, I suppose; no wonder—all the people of the plain
talk of them.’

‘What do the people of the plain say of them?’

‘Why, they say—How did they ever come here?’

‘Do they not suppose them to have been brought?’

‘Who should have brought them?’

‘I have read that they were brought by many thousand men.’

‘Where from?’

‘Ireland.’

‘How did they bring them?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘And what did they bring them for?’

‘To form a temple, perhaps.’

‘What is that?’

‘A place to worship God in.’

‘A strange place to worship God in.’

‘Why?’

‘It has no roof.’

‘Yes, it has.’

‘Where?’ said the man, looking up.

‘What do you see above you?’

‘The sky.’

‘Well?’

‘Well!’

‘Have you anything to say?’

‘How did these stones come here?’

‘Are there other stones like these on the plains?’ said I.

‘None; and yet there are plenty of strange things on these downs.’

‘What are they?’

‘Strange heaps, and barrows, and great walls of earth built on the tops
of hills.’

‘Do the people of the plain wonder how they came there?’

‘They do not.’

‘Why?’

‘They were raised by hands.’

‘And these stones?’

‘How did they ever come here?’

‘I wonder whether they are here?’ said I.

‘These stones?’

‘Yes.’

‘So sure as the world,’ said the man; ‘and, as the world, they will stand
as long.’

‘I wonder whether there is a world.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘An earth, and sea, moon and stars, sheep and men.’

‘Do you doubt it?’

‘Sometimes.’

‘I never heard it doubted before.’

‘It is impossible there should be a world.’

‘It ain’t possible there shouldn’t be a world.’

‘Just so.’  At this moment a fine ewe, attended by a lamb, rushed into
the circle and fondled the knees of the shepherd.  ‘I suppose you would
not care to have some milk,’ said the man.

‘Why do you suppose so?’

‘Because, so be there be no sheep, no milk, you know; and what there
ben’t is not worth having.’

‘You could not have argued better,’ said I; ‘that is, supposing you have
argued; with respect to the milk you may do as you please.’

‘Be still, Nanny,’ said the man; and producing a tin vessel from his
scrip, he milked the ewe into it.  ‘Here is milk of the plains, master,’
said the man, as he handed the vessel to me.

‘Where are those barrows and great walls of earth you were speaking of?’
said I, after I had drunk some of the milk; ‘are there any near where we
are?’

‘Not within many miles; the nearest is yonder away,’ said the shepherd,
pointing to the south-east.  ‘It’s a grand place, that, but not like
this; quite different, and from it you have a sight of the finest spire
in the world.’

‘I must go to it,’ said I, and I drank the remainder of the milk;
‘yonder, you say.’

‘Yes, yonder; but you cannot get to it in that direction, the river lies
between.’

‘What river?’

‘The Avon.’

‘Avon is British,’ said I.

‘Yes,’ said the man, ‘we are all British here.’

‘No, we are not,’ said I.

‘What are we then?’

‘English.’

‘Ain’t they one?’

‘No.’

‘Who were the British?’

‘The men who are supposed to have worshipped God in this place, and who
raised these stones.’

‘Where are they now?’

‘Our forefathers slaughtered them, spilled their blood all about,
especially in this neighbourhood, destroyed their pleasant places, and
left not, to use their own words, one stone upon another.’

‘Yes, they did,’ said the shepherd, looking aloft at the transverse
stone.

‘And it is well for them they did; whenever that stone, which English
hands never raised, is by English hands thrown down, woe, woe, woe to the
English race; spare it, English!  Hengist spared it!—Here is sixpence.’

‘I won’t have it,’ said the man.

‘Why not?’

‘You talk so prettily about these stones; you seem to know all about
them.’

‘I never receive presents; with respect to the stones, I say with
yourself, How did they ever come here?’

‘How did they ever come here?’ said the shepherd.



CHAPTER SIXTY-ONE


THE BANKS OF A RIVER—THE ARID DOWNS—A PROSPECT

Leaving the shepherd, I bent my way in the direction pointed out by him
as that in which the most remarkable of the strange remains of which he
had spoken lay.  I proceeded rapidly, making my way over the downs
covered with coarse grass and fern; with respect to the river of which he
had spoken, I reflected that, either by wading or swimming, I could
easily transfer myself and what I bore to the opposite side.  On arriving
at its banks, I found it a beautiful stream, but shallow, with here and
there a deep place where the water ran dark and still.

Always fond of the pure lymph, I undressed, and plunged into one of these
gulfs, from which I emerged, my whole frame in a glow, and tingling with
delicious sensations.  After conveying my clothes and scanty baggage to
the farther side, I dressed, and then with hurried steps bent my course
in the direction of some lofty ground; I at length found myself on a
high-road, leading over wide and arid downs; following the road for some
miles without seeing anything remarkable, I supposed at length that I had
taken the wrong path, and wended on slowly and disconsolately for some
time, till, having nearly surmounted a steep hill, I knew at once, from
certain appearances, that I was near the object of my search.  Turning to
the right near the brow of the hill, I proceeded along a path which
brought me to a causeway leading over a deep ravine, and connecting the
hill with another which had once formed part of it, for the ravine was
evidently the work of art.  I passed over the causeway, and found myself
in a kind of gateway which admitted me into a square space of many acres,
surrounded on all sides by mounds or ramparts of earth.  Though I had
never been in such a place before, I knew that I stood within the
precincts of what had been a Roman encampment, and one probably of the
largest size, for many thousand warriors might have found room to perform
their evolutions in that space, in which corn was now growing, the green
ears waving in the morning wind.

After I had gazed about the space for a time, standing in the gateway
formed by the mounds, I clambered up the mound to the left hand, and on
the top of that mound I found myself at a great altitude; beneath, at the
distance of a mile, was a fair old city, situated amongst verdant
meadows, watered with streams, and from the heart of that old city, from
amidst mighty trees, I beheld towering to the sky the finest spire in the
world.

And after I had looked from the Roman rampart for a long time, I hurried
away, and, retracing my steps along the causeway, regained the road, and,
passing over the brow of the hill, descended to the city of the spire.



CHAPTER SIXTY-TWO


THE HOSTELRY—LIFE UNCERTAIN—OPEN COUNTENANCE—THE GRAND POINT—THANK YOU,
MASTER—A HARD MOTHER—POOR DEAR!—THE ODDS—THE BETTER COUNTRY—ENGLISH
FASHION—LANDLORD-LOOKING PERSON

And in the old city I remained two days, passing my time as I best
could—inspecting the curiosities of the place, eating and drinking when I
so felt disposed, which I frequently did, the digestive organs having
assumed a tone to which for many months they had been strangers—enjoying
at night balmy sleep in a large bed in a dusky room, at the end of a
corridor, in a certain hostelry in which I had taken up my
quarters—receiving from the people of the hostelry such civility and
condescension as people who travel on foot with bundle and stick, but who
nevertheless are perceived to be not altogether destitute of coin, are in
the habit of receiving.  On the third day, on a fine sunny afternoon, I
departed from the city of the spire.

As I was passing through one of the suburbs, I saw, all on a sudden, a
respectable-looking female fall down in a fit; several persons hastened
to her assistance.  ‘She is dead,’ said one.  ‘No, she is not,’ said
another.  ‘I am afraid she is,’ said the third.  ‘Life is very
uncertain,’ said the fourth.  ‘It is Mrs. ---,’ said the fifth; ‘let us
carry her to her own house.’  Not being able to render any assistance, I
left the poor female in the hands of her townsfolk, and proceeded on my
way.  I had chosen a road in the direction of the north-west, it led over
downs where corn was growing, but where neither tree nor hedge was to be
seen; two or three hours’ walking brought me to a beautiful valley,
abounding with trees of various kinds, with a delightful village at its
farthest extremity; passing through it, I ascended a lofty acclivity, on
the top of which I sat down on a bank, and, taking off my hat, permitted
a breeze, which swept coolly and refreshingly over the downs, to dry my
hair, dripping from the effects of exercise and the heat of the day.

And as I sat there, gazing now at the blue heavens, now at the downs
before me, a man came along the road in the direction in which I had
hitherto been proceeding: just opposite to me he stopped, and, looking at
me, cried,—‘Am I right for London, master?’

He was dressed like a sailor, and appeared to be between twenty-five and
thirty years of age—he had an open manly countenance, and there was a
bold and fearless expression in his eye.

‘Yes,’ said I, in reply to his question; ‘this is one of the ways to
London.  Do you come from far?’

‘From ---,’ said the man, naming a well-known seaport.

‘Is this the direct road to London from that place?’ I demanded.

‘No,’ said the man; ‘but I had to visit two or three other places on
certain commissions I was intrusted with; amongst others to ---, where I
had to take a small sum of money.  I am rather tired, master; and, if you
please, I will sit down beside you.’

‘You have as much right to sit down here as I have,’ said I; ‘the road is
free for every one; as for sitting down beside me, you have the look of
an honest man, and I have no objection to your company.’

‘Why, as for being honest, master,’ said the man, laughing and sitting
down by me, ‘I haven’t much to say—many is the wild thing I have done
when I was younger; however, what is done, is done.  To learn, one must
live, master; and I have lived long enough to learn the grand point of
wisdom.’

‘What is that?’ said I.

‘That honesty is the best policy, master.’

‘You appear to be a sailor,’ said I, looking at his dress.

‘I was not bred a sailor,’ said the man, ‘though, when my foot is on the
salt water, I can play the part—and play it well too.  I am now from a
long voyage.’

‘From America?’ said I.

‘Farther than that,’ said the man.

‘Have you any objection to tell me?’ said I.

‘From New South Wales,’ said the man, looking me full in the face.

‘Dear me,’ said I.

‘Why do you say “Dear me”?’ said the man.

‘It is a very long way off,’ said I.

‘Was that your reason for saying so?’ said the man.

‘Not exactly,’ said I.

‘No,’ said the man, with something of a bitter smile; ‘it was something
else that made you say so; you were thinking of the convicts.’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘what then—you are no convict.’

‘How do you know?’

‘You do not look like one.’

‘Thank you, master,’ said the man cheerfully; ‘and, to a certain extent,
you are right—bygones are bygones—I am no longer what I was, nor ever
will be again; the truth, however, is the truth—a convict I have been—a
convict at Sydney Cove.’

‘And you have served out the period for which you were sentenced, and are
now returned?’

‘As to serving out my sentence,’ replied the man, ‘I can’t say that I
did; I was sentenced for fourteen years, and I was in Sydney Cove little
more than half that time.  The truth is that I did the Government a
service.  There was a conspiracy amongst some of the convicts to murder
and destroy—I overheard and informed the Government; mind one thing,
however, I was not concerned in it; those who got it up were no comrades
of mine, but a bloody gang of villains.  Well, the Government, in
consideration of the service I had done them, remitted the remainder of
my sentence; and some kind gentlemen interested themselves about me, gave
me good books and good advice, and, being satisfied with my conduct,
procured me employ in an exploring expedition, by which I earned money.
In fact, the being sent to Sydney was the best thing that ever happened
to me in all my life.’

‘And you have now returned to your native country.  Longing to see home
brought you from New South Wales.’

‘There you are mistaken,’ said the man.  ‘Wish to see England again would
never have brought me so far; for, to tell you the truth, master, England
was a hard mother to me, as she has proved to many.  No, a wish to see
another kind of mother—a poor old woman, whose son I am—has brought me
back.’

‘You have a mother, then?’ said I.  ‘Does she reside in London?’

‘She used to live in London,’ said the man; ‘but I am afraid she is long
since dead.’

‘How did she support herself?’ said I.

‘Support herself! with difficulty enough; she used to keep a small stall
on London Bridge, where she sold fruit; I am afraid she is dead, and that
she died perhaps in misery.  She was a poor sinful creature; but I loved
her, and she loved me.  I came all the way back merely for the chance of
seeing her.’

‘Did you ever write to her,’ said I, ‘or cause others to write to her?’

‘I wrote to her myself,’ said the man, ‘about two years ago; but I never
received an answer.  I learned to write very tolerably over there, by the
assistance of the good people I spoke of.  As for reading, I could do
that very well before I went—my poor mother taught me to read, out of a
book that she was very fond of; a strange book it was, I remember.  Poor
dear!—what I would give only to know that she is alive.’

‘Life is very uncertain,’ said I.

‘That is true,’ said the man, with a sigh.

‘We are here one moment, and gone the next,’ I continued.  ‘As I passed
through the streets of a neighbouring town, I saw a respectable woman
drop down, and people said she was dead.  Who knows but that she too had
a son coming to see her from a distance, at that very time?’

‘Who knows, indeed?’ said the man.  ‘Ah, I am afraid my mother is dead.
Well, God’s will be done.’

‘However,’ said I, ‘I should not wonder at your finding your mother
alive.’

‘You wouldn’t?’ said the man, looking at me wistfully.

‘I should not wonder at all,’ said I; ‘indeed, something within me seems
to tell me you will; I should not much mind betting five shillings to
fivepence that you will see your mother within a week.  Now, friend, five
shillings to fivepence—’

‘Is very considerable odds,’ said the man, rubbing his hands; ‘sure you
must have good reason to hope, when you are willing to give such odds.’

‘After all,’ said I, ‘it not unfrequently happens that those who lay the
long odds lose.  Let us hope, however.  What do you mean to do in the
event of finding your mother alive?’

‘I scarcely know,’ said the man; ‘I have frequently thought that if I
found my mother alive I would attempt to persuade her to accompany me to
the country which I have left—it is a better country for a man—that is, a
free man—to live in than this; however, let me first find my mother—if I
could only find my mother—’

‘Farewell,’ said I, rising.  ‘Go your way, and God go with you—I will go
mine.’  ‘I have but one thing to ask you,’ said the man.  ‘What is that?’
I inquired.  ‘That you would drink with me before we part—you have done
me so much good.’  ‘How should we drink?’ said I; ‘we are on the top of a
hill where there is nothing to drink.’  ‘But there is a village below,’
said the man; ‘do let us drink before we part.’  ‘I have been through
that village already,’ said I, ‘and I do not like turning back.’  ‘Ah,’
said the man, sorrowfully, ‘you will not drink with me because I told you
I was—’  ‘You are quite mistaken,’ said I, ‘I would as soon drink with a
convict as with a judge.  I am by no means certain that, under the same
circumstances, the judge would be one whit better than the convict.  Come
along!  I will go back to oblige you.  I have an odd sixpence in my
pocket, which I will change that I may drink with you.’  So we went down
the hill together to the village through which I had already passed,
where, finding a public-house, we drank together in true English fashion,
after which we parted, the sailor-looking man going his way and I mine.

After walking about a dozen miles, I came to a town, where I rested for
the night.  The next morning I set out again in the direction of the
north-west.  I continued journeying for four days, my daily journeys
varying from twenty to twenty-five miles.  During this time nothing
occurred to me worthy of any especial notice.  The weather was brilliant,
and I rapidly improved both in strength and spirits.  On the fifth day,
about two o’clock, I arrived at a small town.  Feeling hungry, I entered
a decent-looking inn—within a kind of bar I saw a huge, fat,
landlord-looking person, with a very pretty, smartly-dressed maiden.
Addressing myself to the fat man, ‘House!’ said I, ‘house!  Can I have
dinner, house?’



CHAPTER SIXTY-THREE


PRIMITIVE HABITS—ROSY-FACED DAMSEL—A PLEASANT MOMENT—SUIT OF BLACK—THE
FURTIVE GLANCE—THE MIGHTY ROUND—THESE DEGENERATE TIMES—THE NEWSPAPER—THE
EVIL CHANCE—I MUST CONGRATULATE YOU

‘Young gentleman,’ said the huge fat landlord, ‘you are come at the right
time; dinner will be taken up in a few minutes, and such a dinner,’ he
continued, rubbing his hands, ‘as you will not see every day in these
times.’

‘I am hot and dusty,’ said I, ‘and should wish to cool my hands and
face.’

‘Jenny!’ said the huge landlord, with the utmost gravity, ‘show the
gentleman into number seven, that he may wash his hands and face.’

‘By no means,’ said I, ‘I am a person of primitive habits, and there is
nothing like the pump in weather like this.’

‘Jenny,’ said the landlord, with the same gravity as before, ‘go with the
young gentleman to the pump in the back kitchen, and take a clean towel
along with you.’

Thereupon the rosy-faced clean-looking damsel went to a drawer, and
producing a large, thick, but snowy white towel, she nodded to me to
follow her; whereupon I followed Jenny through a long passage into the
back kitchen.

And at the end of the back kitchen there stood a pump; and going to it I
placed my hands beneath the spout, and said, ‘Pump, Jenny’; and Jenny
incontinently, without laying down the towel, pumped with one hand, and I
washed and cooled my heated hands.

And, when my hands were washed and cooled, I took off my neckcloth, and,
unbuttoning my shirt collar, I placed my head beneath the spout of the
pump, and I said unto Jenny, ‘Now, Jenny, lay down the towel, and pump
for your life.’

Thereupon Jenny, placing the towel on a linen-horse, took the handle of
the pump with both hands and pumped over my head as handmaid had never
pumped before; so that the water poured in torrents from my head, my
face, and my hair down upon the brick floor.

And, after the lapse of somewhat more than a minute, I called out with a
half-strangled voice, ‘Hold, Jenny!’ and Jenny desisted.  I stood for a
few moments to recover my breath, then taking the towel which Jenny
proffered, I dried composedly my hands and head, my face and hair; then,
returning the towel to Jenny, I gave a deep sigh and said, ‘Surely this
is one of the pleasant moments of life.’

Then, having set my dress to rights, and combed my hair with a pocket
comb, I followed Jenny, who conducted me back through the long passage,
and showed me into a neat sanded parlour on the ground-floor.

I sat down by a window which looked out upon the dusty street; presently
in came the handmaid, and commenced laying the table-cloth.  ‘Shall I
spread the table for one, sir,’ said she, ‘or do you expect anybody to
dine with you?’

‘I can’t say that I expect anybody,’ said I, laughing inwardly to myself;
‘however, if you please you can lay for two, so that if any acquaintance
of mine should chance to step in, he may find a knife and fork ready for
him.’

So I sat by the window, sometimes looking out upon the dusty street, and
now glancing at certain old-fashioned prints which adorned the wall over
against me.  I fell into a kind of doze, from which I was almost
instantly awakened by the opening of the door.  Dinner, thought I; and I
sat upright in my chair.  No; a man of the middle age, and rather above
the middle height, dressed in a plain suit of black, made his appearance,
and sat down in a chair at some distance from me, but near to the table,
and appeared to be lost in thought.

‘The weather is very warm, sir,’ said I.

‘Very,’ said the stranger, laconically, looking at me for the first time.

‘Would you like to see the newspaper?’ said I, taking up one which lay
upon the window seat.

‘I never read newspapers,’ said the stranger, ‘nor, indeed, ---’
Whatever it might be that he had intended to say he left unfinished.
Suddenly he walked to the mantelpiece at the farther end of the room,
before which he placed himself with his back towards me.  There he
remained motionless for some time; at length, raising his hand, he
touched the corner of the mantelpiece with his finger, advanced towards
the chair which he had left, and again seated himself.

‘Have you come far?’ said he, suddenly looking towards me, and speaking
in a frank and open manner, which denoted a wish to enter into
conversation.  ‘You do not seem to be of this place.’

‘I come from some distance,’ said I; ‘indeed, I am walking for exercise,
which I find as necessary to the mind as the body.  I believe that by
exercise people would escape much mental misery.’

Scarcely had I uttered these words when the stranger laid his hand, with
seeming carelessness, upon the table, near one of the glasses; after a
moment or two he touched the glass with his finger as if inadvertently,
then, glancing furtively at me, he withdrew his hand and looked towards
the window.

‘Are you from these parts?’ said I at last, with apparent carelessness.

‘From this vicinity,’ replied the stranger.  ‘You think, then, that it is
as easy to walk off the bad humours of the mind as of the body?’

‘I, at least, am walking in that hope,’ said I.

‘I wish you may be successful,’ said the stranger; and here he touched
one of the forks which lay on the table near him.

Here the door, which was slightly ajar, was suddenly pushed open with
some fracas, and in came the stout landlord, supporting with some
difficulty an immense dish, in which was a mighty round mass of smoking
meat garnished all round with vegetables; so high was the mass that it
probably obstructed his view, for it was not until he had placed it upon
the table that he appeared to observe the stranger; he almost started,
and quite out of breath exclaimed, ‘God bless me, your honour; is your
honour the acquaintance that the young gentleman was expecting?’

‘Is the young gentleman expecting an acquaintance?’ said the stranger.

There is nothing like putting a good face upon these matters, thought I
to myself; and, getting up, I bowed to the unknown.  ‘Sir,’ said I, ‘when
I told Jenny that she might lay the table-cloth for two, so that in the
event of any acquaintance dropping in he might find a knife and fork
ready for him, I was merely jocular, being an entire stranger in these
parts, and expecting no one.  Fortune, however, it would seem, has been
unexpectedly kind to me; I flatter myself, sir, that since you have been
in this room I have had the honour of making your acquaintance; and in
the strength of that hope I humbly entreat you to honour me with your
company to dinner, provided you have not already dined.’

The stranger laughed outright.

‘Sir,’ I continued, ‘the round of beef is a noble one, and seems
exceedingly well boiled, and the landlord was just right when he said I
should have such a dinner as is not seen every day.  A round of beef, at
any rate such a round of beef as this, is seldom seen smoking upon the
table in these degenerate times.  Allow me, sir,’ said I, observing that
the stranger was about to speak, ‘allow me another remark.  I think I saw
you just now touch the fork; I venture to hail it as an omen that you
will presently seize it, and apply it to its proper purpose, and its
companion the knife also.’

The stranger changed colour, and gazed upon me in silence.

‘Do, sir,’ here put in the landlord; ‘do, sir, accept the young
gentleman’s invitation.  Your honour has of late been looking poorly, and
the young gentleman is a funny young gentleman, and a clever young
gentleman; and I think it will do your honour good to have a dinner’s
chat with the young gentleman.’

‘It is not my dinner hour,’ said the stranger; ‘I dine considerably
later; taking anything now would only discompose me; I shall, however, be
most happy to sit down with the young gentleman; reach me that paper,
and, when the young gentleman has satisfied his appetite, we may perhaps
have a little chat together.’

The landlord handed the stranger the newspaper, and, bowing, retired with
his maid Jenny.  I helped myself to a portion of the smoking round, and
commenced eating with no little appetite.  The stranger appeared to be
soon engrossed with the newspaper.  We continued thus a considerable
time—the one reading and the other dining.  Chancing suddenly to cast my
eyes upon the stranger, I saw his brow contract; he gave a slight stamp
with his foot, and flung the newspaper to the ground, then stooping down
he picked it up, first moving his forefinger along the floor, seemingly
slightly scratching it with his nail.

‘Do you hope, sir,’ said I, ‘by that ceremony with the finger to preserve
yourself from the evil chance?’

The stranger started; then, after looking at me for some time in silence,
he said, ‘Is it possible that you—?’

‘Ay, ay,’ said I, helping myself to some more of the round; ‘I have
touched myself in my younger days, both for the evil chance and the good.
Can’t say, though, that I ever trusted much in the ceremony.’

The stranger made no reply, but appeared to be in deep thought; nothing
farther passed between us until I had concluded the dinner, when I said
to him, ‘I shall now be most happy, sir, to have the pleasure of your
conversation over a pint of wine.’

The stranger rose; ‘No, my young friend,’ said he, smiling, ‘that would
scarce be fair.  It is my turn now—pray do me the favour to go home with
me, and accept what hospitality my poor roof can offer; to tell you the
truth, I wish to have some particular discourse with you which would
hardly be possible in this place.  As for wine, I can give you some much
better than you can get here: the landlord is an excellent fellow, but he
is an innkeeper after all.  I am going out for a moment, and will send
him in, so that you may settle your account; I trust you will not refuse
me, I only live about two miles from here.’

I looked in the face of the stranger—it was a fine intelligent face, with
a cast of melancholy in it.  ‘Sir,’ said I, ‘I would go with you though
you lived four miles instead of two.’

‘Who is that gentleman?’ said I to the landlord, after I had settled his
bill; ‘I am going home with him.’

‘I wish I were going too,’ said the fat landlord, laying his hand upon
his stomach.  ‘Young gentleman, I shall be a loser by his honour’s taking
you away; but, after all, the truth is the truth—there are few gentlemen
in these parts like his honour, either for learning or welcoming his
friends.  Young gentleman, I congratulate you.’



CHAPTER SIXTY-FOUR


NEW ACQUAINTANCE—OLD FRENCH STYLE—THE PORTRAIT—TACITURNITY—THE EVERGREEN
TREE—THE DARK HOUR—THE FLASH—ANCESTORS—A FORTUNATE MAN—A POSTHUMOUS
CHILD—ANTAGONIST IDEAS—THE HAWKS—FLAWS—THE PONY—IRRESISTIBLE
IMPULSE—FAVOURABLE CRISIS—TOPMOST BRANCH—ASHAMED

I found the stranger awaiting me at the door of the inn.  ‘Like yourself,
I am fond of walking,’ said he, ‘and when any little business calls me to
this place I generally come on foot.’

We were soon out of the town, and in a very beautiful country.  After
proceeding some distance on the high-road, we turned off, and were
presently in one of those mazes of lanes for which England is famous; the
stranger at first seemed inclined to be taciturn; a few observations,
however, which I made appeared to rouse him, and he soon exhibited not
only considerable powers of conversation, but stores of information which
surprised me.  So pleased did I become with my new acquaintance that I
soon ceased to pay the slightest attention either to place or distance.
At length the stranger was silent, and I perceived that we had arrived at
a handsome iron gate and a lodge; the stranger having rung a bell, the
gate was opened by an old man, and we proceeded along a gravel path,
which in about five minutes brought us to a large brick house, built
something in the old French style, having a spacious lawn before it, and
immediately in front a pond in which were golden fish, and in the middle
a stone swan discharging quantities of water from its bill.  We ascended
a spacious flight of steps to the door, which was at once flung open, and
two servants with powdered hair and in livery of blue plush came out and
stood one on either side as we passed the threshold.  We entered a large
hall, and the stranger, taking me by the hand, welcomed me to his poor
home, as he called it, and then gave orders to another servant, but out
of livery, to show me to an apartment, and give me whatever assistance I
might require in my toilet.  Notwithstanding the plea as to primitive
habits which I had lately made to my other host in the town, I offered no
objection to this arrangement, but followed the bowing domestic to a
spacious and airy chamber, where he rendered me all those little nameless
offices which the somewhat neglected state of my dress required.  When
everything had been completed to my perfect satisfaction, he told me that
if I pleased he would conduct me to the library, where dinner would be
speedily served.

In the library I found a table laid for two; my host was not there,
having as I supposed not been quite so speedy with his toilet as his
guest.  Left alone, I looked round the apartment with inquiring eyes; it
was long and tolerably lofty, the walls from the top to the bottom were
lined with cases containing books of all sizes and bindings; there was a
globe or two, a couch, and an easy-chair.  Statues and busts there were
none, and only one painting, a portrait, that of my host, but not him of
the mansion.  Over the mantelpiece, the features staring like, but so
ridiculously exaggerated that they scarcely resembled those of a human
being, daubed evidently by the hand of the commonest sign-artist, hung a
half-length portrait of him of round of beef celebrity—my sturdy host of
the town.

I had been in the library about ten minutes, amusing myself as I best
could, when my friend entered; he seemed to have resumed his
taciturnity—scarce a word escaped his lips till dinner was served, when
he said, smiling, ‘I suppose it would be merely a compliment to ask you
to partake?’

‘I don’t know,’ said I, seating myself; ‘your first course consists of
troutlets, I am fond of troutlets, and I always like to be
companionable.’

The dinner was excellent, though I did but little justice to it from the
circumstance of having already dined; the stranger also, though without
my excuse, partook but slightly of the good cheer; he still continued
taciturn, and appeared lost in thought, and every attempt which I made to
induce him to converse was signally unsuccessful.

And now dinner was removed, and we sat over our wine, and I remember that
the wine was good, and fully justified the encomiums of my host of the
town.  Over the wine I made sure that my entertainer would have loosened
the chain which seemed to tie his tongue—but no!  I endeavoured to tempt
him by various topics, and talked of geometry and the use of the globes,
of the heavenly sphere, and the star Jupiter, which I said I had heard
was a very large star, also of the evergreen tree, which, according to
Olaus, stood of old before the heathen temple of Upsal, and which I
affirmed was a yew—but no, nothing that I said could induce my
entertainer to relax his taciturnity.

It grew dark, and I became uncomfortable.  ‘I must presently be going,’ I
at last exclaimed.

At these words he gave a sudden start; ‘Going,’ said he, ‘are you not my
guest, and an honoured one?’

‘You know best,’ said I; ‘but I was apprehensive I was an intruder; to
several of my questions you have returned no answer.’

‘Ten thousand pardons!’ he exclaimed, seizing me by the hand; ‘but you
cannot go now, I have much to talk to you about—there is one thing in
particular—’

‘If it be the evergreen tree at Upsal,’ said I, interrupting him, ‘I hold
it to have been a yew—what else?  The evergreens of the south, as the old
bishop observes, will not grow in the north, and a pine was unfitted for
such a locality, being a vulgar tree.  What else could it have been but
the yew—the sacred yew which our ancestors were in the habit of planting
in their churchyards?  Moreover, I affirm it to have been the yew for the
honour of the tree; for I love the yew, and had I home and land, I would
have one growing before my front windows.’

‘You would do right, the yew is indeed a venerable tree, but it is not
about the yew.’

‘The star Jupiter, perhaps?’

‘Nor the star Jupiter, nor its moons; an observation which escaped you at
the inn has made a considerable impression upon me.’

‘But I really must take my departure,’ said I; ‘the dark hour is at
hand.’

And as I uttered these latter words the stranger touched rapidly
something which lay near him—I forget what it was.  It was the first
action of the kind which I had observed on his part since we sat down to
table.

‘You allude to the evil chance,’ said I; ‘but it is getting both dark and
late.’

‘I believe we are going to have a storm,’ said my friend, ‘but I really
hope that you will give me your company for a day or two; I have, as I
said before, much to talk to you about.’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘I shall be most happy to be your guest for this night; I
am ignorant of the country, and it is not pleasant to travel unknown
paths by night—dear me, what a flash of lightning.’

It had become very dark; suddenly a blaze of sheet lightning illumed the
room.  By the momentary light I distinctly saw my host touch another
object upon the table.

‘Will you allow me to ask you a question or two?’ said he at last.

‘As many as you please,’ said I; ‘but shall we not have lights?’

‘Not unless you particularly wish it,’ said my entertainer; ‘I rather
like the dark, and though a storm is evidently at hand, neither thunder
nor lightning has any terrors for me.  It is other things I quake at—I
should rather say ideas.  Now permit me to ask you—’

And then my entertainer asked me various questions, to all of which I
answered unreservedly; he was then silent for some time, at last he
exclaimed, ‘I should wish to tell you the history of my life—though not
an adventurous one, I think it contains some things which will interest
you.’

Without waiting for my reply he began.  Amidst darkness and gloom,
occasionally broken by flashes of lightning, the stranger related to me,
as we sat at table in the library, his truly touching history.

‘Before proceeding to relate the events of my life, it will not be amiss
to give you some account of my ancestors.  My great-grandfather on the
male side was a silk mercer, in Cheapside, who, when he died, left his
son, who was his only child, a fortune of one hundred thousand pounds and
a splendid business; the son, however, had no inclination for trade, the
summit of his ambition was to be a country gentleman, to found a family,
and to pass the remainder of his days in rural ease and dignity, and all
this he managed to accomplish; he disposed of his business, purchased a
beautiful and extensive estate for fourscore thousand pounds, built upon
it the mansion to which I had the honour of welcoming you to-day, married
the daughter of a neighbouring squire, who brought him a fortune of five
thousand pounds, became a magistrate, and only wanted a son and heir to
make him completely happy; this blessing, it is true, was for a long time
denied him; it came, however, at last, as is usual, when least expected.
His lady was brought to bed of my father, and then who so happy a man as
my grandsire; he gave away two thousand pounds in charities, and in the
joy of his heart made a speech at the next quarter sessions; the rest of
his life was spent in ease, tranquillity, and rural dignity; he died of
apoplexy on the day that my father came of age; perhaps it would be
difficult to mention a man who in all respects was so fortunate as my
grandfather: his death was sudden it is true, but I am not one of those
who pray to be delivered from a sudden death.

‘I should not call my father a fortunate man; it is true that he had the
advantage of a first-rate education; that he made the grand tour with a
private tutor, as was the fashion at that time; that he came to a
splendid fortune on the very day that he came of age; that for many years
he tasted all the diversions of the capital; that, at last determined to
settle, he married the sister of a baronet, an amiable and accomplished
lady, with a large fortune; that he had the best stud of hunters in the
country, on which, during the season, he followed the fox gallantly; had
he been a fortunate man he would never have cursed his fate, as he was
frequently known to do; ten months after his marriage his horse fell upon
him, and so injured him, that he expired in a few days in great agony.
My grandfather was, indeed, a fortunate man; when he died he was followed
to the grave by the tears of the poor—my father was not.

‘Two remarkable circumstances are connected with my birth—I am a
posthumous child, and came into the world some weeks before the usual
time, the shock which my mother experienced at my father’s death having
brought on the pangs of premature labour; both my mother’s life and my
own were at first despaired of; we both, however, survived the crisis.
My mother loved me with the most passionate fondness, and I was brought
up in this house under her own eye—I was never sent to school.

‘I have already told you that mine is not a tale of adventure; my life
has not been one of action, but of wild imaginings and strange
sensations; I was born with excessive sensibility, and that has been my
bane.  I have not been a fortunate man.

‘No one is fortunate unless he is happy, and it is impossible for a being
constructed like myself to be happy for an hour, or even enjoy peace and
tranquillity; most of our pleasures and pains are the effects of
imagination, and wherever the sensibility is great, the imagination is
great also.  No sooner has my imagination raised up an image of pleasure,
than it is sure to conjure up one of distress and gloom; these two
antagonist ideas instantly commence a struggle in my mind, and the gloomy
one generally, I may say invariably, prevails.  How is it possible that I
should be a happy man?

‘It has invariably been so with me from the earliest period that I can
remember; the first playthings that were given me caused me for a few
minutes excessive pleasure: they were pretty and glittering; presently,
however, I became anxious and perplexed, I wished to know their history,
how they were made, and what of—were the materials precious?  I was not
satisfied with their outward appearance.  In less than an hour I had
broken the playthings in an attempt to discover what they were made of.

‘When I was eight years of age my uncle the baronet, who was also my
godfather, sent me a pair of Norway hawks, with directions for managing
them; he was a great fowler.  Oh, how rejoiced was I with the present
which had been made me, my joy lasted for at least five minutes; I would
let them breed, I would have a house of hawks; yes, that I would—but—and
here came the unpleasant idea—suppose they were to fly away, how very
annoying!  Ah, but, said hope, there’s little fear of that; feed them
well and they will never fly away, or if they do they will come back, my
uncle says so; so sunshine triumphed for a little time.  Then the
strangest of all doubts came into my head; I doubted the legality of my
tenure of these hawks; how did I come by them? why, my uncle gave them to
me, but how did they come into his possession? what right had he to them?
after all, they might not be his to give.  I passed a sleepless night.
The next morning I found that the man who brought the hawks had not
departed.  “How came my uncle by these hawks?” I anxiously inquired.
“They were sent to him from Norway, master, with another pair.”  “And who
sent them?”  “That I don’t know, master, but I suppose his honour can
tell you.”  I was even thinking of scrawling a letter to my uncle to make
inquiry on this point, but shame restrained me, and I likewise reflected
that it would be impossible for him to give my mind entire satisfaction;
it is true he could tell who sent him the hawks, but how was he to know
how the hawks came into the possession of those who sent them to him, and
by what right they possessed them or the parents of the hawks?  In a
word, I wanted a clear valid title, as lawyers would say, to my hawks,
and I believe no title would have satisfied me that did not extend up to
the time of the first hawk, that is, prior to Adam; and, could I have
obtained such a title, I make no doubt that, young as I was, I should
have suspected that it was full of flaws.

‘I was now disgusted with the hawks, and no wonder, seeing all the
disquietude they had caused me; I soon totally neglected the poor birds,
and they would have starved had not some of the servants taken compassion
upon them and fed them.  My uncle, soon hearing of my neglect, was angry,
and took the birds away; he was a very good-natured man, however, and
soon sent me a fine pony; at first I was charmed with the pony, soon,
however, the same kind of thoughts arose which had disgusted me on a
former occasion.  How did my uncle become possessed of the pony?  This
question I asked him the first time I saw him.  Oh, he had bought it of a
gypsy, that I might learn to ride upon it.  A gypsy; I had heard that
gypsies were great thieves, and I instantly began to fear that the gypsy
had stolen the pony, and it is probable that for this apprehension I had
better grounds than for many others.  I instantly ceased to set any value
upon the pony, but for that reason, perhaps, I turned it to some account;
I mounted it and rode it about, which I don’t think I should have done
had I looked upon it as a secure possession.  Had I looked upon my title
as secure, I should have prized it so much, that I should scarcely have
mounted it for fear of injuring the animal; but now, caring not a straw
for it, I rode it most unmercifully, and soon became a capital rider.
This was very selfish in me, and I tell the fact with shame.  I was
punished, however, as I deserved; the pony had a spirit of its own, and,
moreover, it had belonged to gypsies; once, as I was riding it furiously
over the lawn, applying both whip and spur, it suddenly lifted up its
heels, and flung me at least five yards over its head.  I received some
desperate contusions, and was taken up for dead; it was many months
before I perfectly recovered.

‘But it is time for me to come to the touching part of my story.  There
was one thing that I loved better than the choicest gift which could be
bestowed upon me, better than life itself—my mother;—at length she became
unwell, and the thought that I might possibly lose her now rushed into my
mind for the first time; it was terrible, and caused me unspeakable
misery, I may say horror.  My mother became worse, and I was not allowed
to enter her apartment, lest by my frantic exclamations of grief I might
aggravate her disorder.  I rested neither day nor night, but roamed about
the house like one distracted.  Suddenly I found myself doing that which
even at the time struck me as being highly singular; I found myself
touching particular objects that were near me, and to which my fingers
seemed to be attracted by an irresistible impulse.  It was now the table
or the chair that I was compelled to touch; now the bell-rope; now the
handle of the door; now I would touch the wall, and the next moment,
stooping down, I would place the point of my finger upon the floor: and
so I continued to do day after day; frequently I would struggle to resist
the impulse, but invariably in vain.  I have even rushed away from the
object, but I was sure to return, the impulse was too strong to be
resisted: I quickly hurried back, compelled by the feeling within me to
touch the object.  Now I need not tell you that what impelled me to these
actions was the desire to prevent my mother’s death; whenever I touched
any particular object, it was with the view of baffling the evil chance,
as you would call it—in this instance my mother’s death.

‘A favourable crisis occurred in my mother’s complaint, and she
recovered; this crisis took place about six o’clock in the morning;
almost simultaneously with it there happened to myself a rather
remarkable circumstance connected with the nervous feeling which was
rioting in my system.  I was lying in bed in a kind of uneasy doze, the
only kind of rest which my anxiety on account of my mother permitted me
at this time to take, when all at once I sprang up as if electrified; the
mysterious impulse was upon me, and it urged me to go without delay, and
climb a stately elm behind the house, and touch the topmost branch;
otherwise—you know the rest—the evil chance would prevail.  Accustomed
for some time as I had been, under this impulse, to perform extravagant
actions, I confess to you that the difficulty and peril of such a feat
startled me; I reasoned against the feeling, and strove more strenuously
than I had ever done before; I even made a solemn vow not to give way to
the temptation, but I believe nothing less than chains, and those strong
ones, could have restrained me.  The demoniac influence, for I can call
it nothing else, at length prevailed; it compelled me to rise, to dress
myself, to descend the stairs, to unbolt the door, and to go forth; it
drove me to the foot of the tree, and it compelled me to climb the trunk;
this was a tremendous task, and I only accomplished it after repeated
falls and trials.  When I had got amongst the branches, I rested for a
time, and then set about accomplishing the remainder of the ascent; this
for some time was not so difficult, for I was now amongst the branches;
as I approached the top, however, the difficulty became greater, and
likewise the danger; but I was a light boy, and almost as nimble as a
squirrel, and, moreover, the nervous feeling was within me, impelling me
upward.  It was only by means of a spring, however, that I was enabled to
touch the top of the tree; I sprang, touched the top of the tree, and
fell a distance of at least twenty feet, amongst the branches; had I
fallen to the bottom I must have been killed, but I fell into the middle
of the tree, and presently found myself astride upon one of the boughs;
scratched and bruised all over, I reached the ground, and regained my
chamber unobserved; I flung myself on my bed quite exhausted; presently
they came to tell me that my mother was better—they found me in the state
which I have described, and in a fever besides.  The favourable crisis
must have occurred just about the time that I performed the magic touch;
it certainly was a curious coincidence, yet I was not weak enough, even
though a child, to suppose that I had baffled the evil chance by my
daring feat.

‘Indeed, all the time that I was performing these strange feats, I knew
them to be highly absurd, yet the impulse to perform them was
irresistible—a mysterious dread hanging over me till I had given way to
it; even at that early period I frequently used to reason within myself
as to what could be the cause of my propensity to touch, but of course I
could come to no satisfactory conclusion respecting it; being heartily
ashamed of the practice, I never spoke of it to anyone and was at all
times highly solicitous that no one should observe my weakness.’



CHAPTER SIXTY-FIVE


MATERNAL ANXIETY—THE BARONET—LITTLE ZEST—MR SPEAKER!—CRAVING—SPIRITED
ADDRESS—AUTHOR

After a short pause my host resumed his narration.  ‘Though I was never
sent to school, my education was not neglected on that account; I had
tutors in various branches of knowledge, under whom I made a tolerable
progress; by the time I was eighteen I was able to read most of the Greek
and Latin authors with facility; I was likewise, to a certain degree, a
mathematician.  I cannot say that I took much pleasure in my studies; my
chief aim in endeavouring to accomplish my tasks was to give pleasure to
my beloved parent, who watched my progress with anxiety truly maternal.
My life at this period may be summed up in a few words: I pursued my
studies, roamed about the woods, walked the green lanes occasionally,
cast my fly in a trout stream, and sometimes, but not often, rode
a-hunting with my uncle.  A considerable part of my time was devoted to
my mother, conversing with her and reading to her; youthful companions I
had none, and as to my mother, she lived in the greatest retirement,
devoting herself to the superintendence of my education, and the practice
of acts of charity; nothing could be more innocent than this mode of
life, and some people say that in innocence there is happiness, yet I
can’t say that I was happy.  A continual dread overshadowed my mind, it
was the dread of my mother’s death.  Her constitution had never been
strong, and it had been considerably shaken by her last illness; this I
knew, and this I saw—for the eyes of fear are marvellously keen.  Well,
things went on in this way till I had come of age; my tutors were then
dismissed, and my uncle the baronet took me in hand, telling my mother
that it was high time for him to exert his authority; that I must see
something of the world, for that, if I remained much longer with her, I
should be ruined.  “You must consign him to me,” said he, “and I will
introduce him to the world.”  My mother sighed and consented; so my uncle
the baronet introduced me to the world, took me to horse-races and to
London, and endeavoured to make a man of me according to his idea of the
term, and in part succeeded.  I became moderately dissipated—I say
moderately, for dissipation had but little zest for me.

‘In this manner four years passed over.  It happened that I was in London
in the height of the season with my uncle, at his house; one morning he
summoned me into the parlour, he was standing before the fire, and looked
very serious.  “I have had a letter,” said he; “your mother is very ill.”
I staggered, and touched the nearest object to me; nothing was said for
two or three minutes, and then my uncle put his lips to my ear and
whispered something.  I fell down senseless.  My mother was . . .  I
remember nothing for a long time—for two years I was out of my mind; at
the end of this time I recovered, or partly so.  My uncle the baronet was
very kind to me; he advised me to travel, he offered to go with me.  I
told him he was very kind, but I would rather go by myself.  So I went
abroad, and saw, amongst other things, Rome and the Pyramids.  By
frequent change of scene my mind became not happy, but tolerably
tranquil.  I continued abroad some years, when, becoming tired of
travelling, I came home, found my uncle the baronet alive, hearty, and
unmarried, as he still is.  He received me very kindly, took me to
Newmarket, and said that he hoped by this time I was become quite a man
of the world; by his advice I took a house in town, in which I lived
during the season.  In summer I strolled from one watering-place to
another; and, in order to pass the time, I became very dissipated.

‘At last I became as tired of dissipation as I had previously been of
travelling, and I determined to retire to the country, and live on my
paternal estate; this resolution I was not slow in putting into effect; I
sold my house in town, repaired and refurnished my country house, and,
for at least ten years, lived a regular country life; I gave dinner
parties, prosecuted poachers, was charitable to the poor, and now and
then went into my library; during this time I was seldom or never visited
by the magic impulse, the reason being that there was nothing in the wide
world for which I cared sufficiently to move a finger to preserve it.
When the ten years, however, were nearly ended, I started out of bed one
morning in a fit of horror, exclaiming, “Mercy, mercy! what will become
of me?  I am afraid I shall go mad.  I have lived thirty-five years and
upwards without doing anything; shall I pass through life in this manner?
Horror!”  And then in rapid succession I touched three different objects.

‘I dressed myself and went down, determining to set about something; but
what was I to do?—there was the difficulty.  I ate no breakfast, but
walked about the room in a state of distraction; at last I thought that
the easiest way to do something was to get into Parliament, there would
be no difficulty in that.  I had plenty of money, and could buy a seat;
but what was I to do in Parliament?  Speak, of course—but could I speak?
“I’ll try at once,” said I, and forthwith I rushed into the largest
dining-room, and, locking the door, I commenced speaking: “Mr. Speaker,”
said I, and then I went on speaking for about ten minutes as I best
could, and then I left off, for I was talking nonsense.  No, I was not
formed for Parliament; I could do nothing there.  What—what was I to do?

‘Many many times I thought this question over, but was unable to solve
it; a fear now stole over me that I was unfit for anything in the world,
save the lazy life of vegetation which I had for many years been leading;
yet, if that were the case, thought I, why the craving within me to
distinguish myself?  Surely it does not occur fortuitously, but is
intended to rouse and call into exercise certain latent powers that I
possess? and then with infinite eagerness I set about attempting to
discover these latent powers.  I tried an infinity of pursuits, botany
and geology amongst the rest, but in vain; I was fitted for none of them.
I became very sorrowful and despondent, and at one time I had almost
resolved to plunge again into the whirlpool of dissipation; it was a
dreadful resource, it was true, but what better could I do?

‘But I was not doomed to return to the dissipation of the world.  One
morning a young nobleman, who had for some time past showed a wish to
cultivate my acquaintance, came to me in a considerable hurry.  “I am
come to beg an important favour of you,” said he; “one of the county
memberships is vacant—I intend to become a candidate; what I want
immediately is a spirited address to the electors.  I have been
endeavouring to frame one all the morning, but in vain; I have,
therefore, recourse to you as a person of infinite genius; pray, my dear
friend, concoct me one by the morning!”  “What you require of me,” I
replied, “is impossible; I have not the gift of words; did I possess it I
would stand for the county myself, but I can’t speak.  Only the other day
I attempted to make a speech, but left off suddenly, utterly ashamed,
although I was quite alone, of the nonsense I was uttering.”  “It is not
a speech that I want,” said my friend; “I can talk for three hours
without hesitating, but I want an address to circulate through the
county, and I find myself utterly incompetent to put one together; do
oblige me by writing one for me, I know you can; and, if at any time you
want a person to speak for you, you may command me not for three but for
six hours.  Good-morning; to-morrow I will breakfast with you.”  In the
morning he came again.  “Well,” said he, “what success?”  “Very poor,”
said I; “but judge for yourself”; and I put into his hand a manuscript of
several pages.  My friend read it through with considerable attention.
“I congratulate you,” said he, “and likewise myself; I was not mistaken
in my opinion of you; the address is too long by at least two-thirds, or
I should rather say, that it is longer by two-thirds than addresses
generally are; but it will do—I will not curtail it of a word.  I shall
win my election.”  And in truth he did win his election; and it was not
only his own but the general opinion that he owed it to the address.

‘But, however that might be, I had, by writing the address, at last
discovered what had so long eluded my search—what I was able to do.  I,
who had neither the nerve nor the command of speech necessary to
constitute the orator—who had not the power of patient research required
by those who would investigate the secrets of nature, had, nevertheless,
a ready pen and teeming imagination.  This discovery decided my fate—from
that moment I became an author.’



CHAPTER SIXTY-SIX


TREPIDATIONS—SUBTLE PRINCIPLE—PERVERSE IMAGINATION—ARE THEY MINE?—ANOTHER
BOOK—HOW HARD!—AGRICULTURAL DINNER—INCOMPREHENSIBLE ACTIONS—INMOST
BOSOM—GIVE IT UP—RASCALLY NEWSPAPER

‘An author,’ said I, addressing my host; ‘is it possible that I am under
the roof of an author?’

‘Yes,’ said my host, sighing, ‘my name is so and so, and I am the author
of so and so; it is more than probable that you have heard both of my
name and works.  I will not detain you much longer with my history; the
night is advancing, and the storm appears to be upon the increase.  My
life since the period of my becoming an author may be summed briefly as
an almost uninterrupted series of doubts, anxieties, and trepidations.  I
see clearly that it is not good to love anything immoderately in this
world, but it has been my misfortune to love immoderately everything on
which I have set my heart.  This is not good, I repeat—but where is the
remedy?  The ancients were always in the habit of saying, “Practise
moderation,” but the ancients appear to have considered only one portion
of the subject.  It is very possible to practise moderation in some
things, in drink and the like—to restrain the appetites—but can a man
restrain the affections of his mind, and tell them, so far you shall go,
and no farther?  Alas, no! for the mind is a subtle principle, and cannot
be confined.  The winds may be imprisoned; Homer says that Odysseus
carried certain winds in his ship, confined in leathern bags, but Homer
never speaks of confining the affections.  It were but right that those
who exhort us against inordinate affections, and setting our hearts too
much upon the world and its vanities, would tell us how to avoid doing
so.

‘I need scarcely tell you that no sooner did I become an author than I
gave myself up immoderately to my vocation.  It became my idol, and, as a
necessary consequence, it has proved a source of misery and disquietude
to me, instead of pleasure and blessing.  I had trouble enough in writing
my first work, and I was not long in discovering that it was one thing to
write a stirring and spirited address to a set of county electors, and
another widely different to produce a work at all calculated to make an
impression upon the great world.  I felt, however, that I was in my
proper sphere, and by dint of unwearied diligence and exertion I
succeeded in evolving from the depths of my agitated breast a work which,
though it did not exactly please me, I thought would serve to make an
experiment upon the public; so I laid it before the public, and the
reception which it met with was far beyond my wildest expectations.  The
public were delighted with it, but what were my feelings?  Anything,
alas! but those of delight.  No sooner did the public express its
satisfaction at the result of my endeavours, than my perverse imagination
began to conceive a thousand chimerical doubts; forthwith I sat down to
analyse it; and my worst enemy, and all people have their enemies,
especially authors—my worst enemy could not have discovered or sought to
discover a tenth part of the faults which I, the author and creator of
the unfortunate production, found or sought to find in it.  It has been
said that love makes us blind to the faults of the loved object—common
love does, perhaps—the love of a father to his child, or that of a lover
to his mistress, but not the inordinate love of an author to his works,
at least not the love which one like myself bears to his works: to be
brief, I discovered a thousand faults in my work, which neither public
nor critics discovered.  However, I was beginning to get over this
misery, and to forgive my work all its imperfections, when—and I shake
when I mention it—the same kind of idea which perplexed me with regard to
the hawks and the gipsy pony rushed into my mind, and I forthwith
commenced touching the objects around me, in order to baffle the evil
chance, as you call it; it was neither more nor less than a doubt of the
legality of my claim to the thoughts, expressions, and situations
contained in the book; that is, to all that constituted the book.  How
did I get them?  How did they come into my mind?  Did I invent them?  Did
they originate with myself?  Are they my own, or are they some other
body’s?  You see into what difficulty I had got; I won’t trouble you by
relating all that I endured at that time, but will merely say that after
eating my own heart, as the Italians say, and touching every object that
came in my way for six months, I at length flung my book, I mean the copy
of it which I possessed, into the fire, and began another.

‘But it was all in vain; I laboured at this other, finished it, and gave
it to the world; and no sooner had I done so, than the same thought was
busy in my brain, poisoning all the pleasure which I should otherwise
have derived from my work.  How did I get all the matter which composed
it?  Out of my own mind, unquestionably; but how did it come there—was it
the indigenous growth of the mind?  And then I would sit down and ponder
over the various scenes and adventures in my book, endeavouring to
ascertain how I came originally to devise them, and by dint of reflecting
I remembered that to a single word in conversation, or some simple
accident in a street or on a road, I was indebted for some of the
happiest portions of my work; they were but tiny seeds, it is true, which
in the soil of my imagination had subsequently become stately trees, but
I reflected that without them no stately trees would have been produced,
and that, consequently, only a part in the merit of these compositions
which charmed the world—for they did charm the world—was due to myself.
Thus, a dead fly was in my phial, poisoning all the pleasure which I
should otherwise have derived from the result of my brain-sweat.  “How
hard!” I would exclaim, looking up to the sky, “how hard!  I am like
Virgil’s sheep, bearing fleeces not for themselves.”  But, not to tire
you, it fared with my second work as it did with my first; I flung it
aside, and, in order to forget it, I began a third, on which I am now
occupied; but the difficulty of writing it is immense, my extreme desire
to be original sadly cramping the powers of my mind; my fastidiousness
being so great that I invariably reject whatever ideas I do not think to
be legitimately my own.  But there is one circumstance to which I cannot
help alluding here, as it serves to show what miseries this love of
originality must needs bring upon an author.  I am constantly discovering
that, however original I may wish to be, I am continually producing the
same things which other people say or write.  Whenever, after producing
something which gives me perfect satisfaction, and which has cost me
perhaps days and nights of brooding, I chance to take up a book for the
sake of a little relaxation, a book which I never saw before, I am sure
to find in it something more or less resembling some part of what I have
been just composing.  You will easily conceive the distress which then
comes over me; ’tis then that I am almost tempted to execrate the chance
which, by discovering my latent powers, induced me to adopt a profession
of such anxiety and misery.

‘For some time past I have given up reading almost entirely, owing to the
dread which I entertain of lighting upon something similar to what I
myself have written.  I scarcely ever transgress without having almost
instant reason to repent.  To-day, when I took up the newspaper, I saw in
a speech of the Duke of Rhododendron, at an agricultural dinner, the very
same ideas, and almost the same expressions which I had put into the
mouth of an imaginary personage of mine, on a widely different occasion;
you saw how I dashed the newspaper down—you saw how I touched the floor;
the touch was to baffle the evil chance, to prevent the critics detecting
any similarity between the speech of the Duke of Rhododendron at the
agricultural dinner and the speech of my personage.  My sensibility on
the subject of my writings is so great that sometimes a chance word is
sufficient to unman me, I apply it to them in a superstitious sense; for
example, when you said some time ago that the dark hour was coming on, I
applied it to my works—it appeared to bode them evil fortune; you saw how
I touched, it was to baffle the evil chance; but I do not confine myself
to touching when the fear of the evil chance is upon me.  To baffle it I
occasionally perform actions which must appear highly incomprehensible; I
have been known, when riding in company with other people, to leave the
direct road, and make a long circuit by a miry lane to the place to which
we were going.  I have also been seen attempting to ride across a morass,
where I had no business whatever, and in which my horse finally sank up
to its saddle-girths, and was only extricated by the help of a multitude
of hands.  I have, of course, frequently been asked the reason of such
conduct, to which I have invariably returned no answer, for I scorn
duplicity; whereupon people have looked mysteriously, and sometimes put
their fingers to their foreheads.  “And yet it can’t be,” I once heard an
old gentleman say; “don’t we know what he is capable of?” and the old man
was right; I merely did these things to avoid the evil chance, impelled
by the strange feeling within me; and this evil chance is invariably
connected with my writings, the only things at present which render life
valuable to me.  If I touch various objects, and ride into miry places,
it is to baffle any mischance befalling me as an author, to prevent my
books getting into disrepute; in nine cases out of ten to prevent any
expressions, thoughts, or situations in any work which I am writing from
resembling the thoughts, expressions, and situations of other authors,
for my great wish, as I told you before, is to be original.

‘I have now related my history, and have revealed to you the secrets of
my inmost bosom.  I should certainly not have spoken so unreservedly as I
have done, had I not discovered in you a kindred spirit.  I have long
wished for an opportunity of discoursing on the point which forms the
peculiar feature of my history with a being who could understand me; and
truly it was a lucky chance which brought you to these parts; you who
seem to be acquainted with all things strange and singular, and who are
as well acquainted with the subject of the magic touch as with all that
relates to the star Jupiter or the mysterious tree at Upsal.’

Such was the story which my host related to me in the library, amidst the
darkness, occasionally broken by flashes of lightning.  Both of us
remained silent for some time after it was concluded.

‘It is a singular story,’ said I, at last, ‘though I confess that I was
prepared for some part of it.  Will you permit me to ask you a question?’

‘Certainly,’ said my host.

‘Did you never speak in public?’ said I.

‘Never.’

‘And when you made this speech of yours in the dining-room, commencing
with Mr. Speaker, no one was present?’

‘None in the world, I double-locked the door; what do you mean?’

‘An idea came into my head—dear me how the rain is pouring—but, with
respect to your present troubles and anxieties, would it not be wise,
seeing that authorship causes you so much trouble and anxiety, to give it
up altogether?’

‘Were you an author yourself,’ replied my host, ‘you would not talk in
this manner; once an author, ever an author—besides, what could I do?
return to my former state of vegetation? no, much as I endure, I do not
wish that; besides, every now and then my reason tells me that these
troubles and anxieties of mine are utterly without foundation; that
whatever I write is the legitimate growth of my own mind, and that it is
the height of folly to afflict myself at any chance resemblance between
my own thoughts and those of other writers, such resemblance being
inevitable from the fact of our common human origin.  In short—’

‘I understand you,’ said I; ‘notwithstanding your troubles and anxieties
you find life very tolerable; has your originality ever been called in
question?’

‘On the contrary, every one declares that originality constitutes the
most remarkable feature of my writings; the man has some faults, they
say, but want of originality is certainly not one of them.  He is quite
different from others—a certain newspaper, it is true, the --- I think,
once insinuated that in a certain work of mine I had taken a hint or two
from the writings of a couple of authors which it mentioned; it happened,
however, that I had never even read one syllable of the writings of
either, and of one of them had never even heard the name; so much for the
discrimination of the ---.  By the bye, what a rascally newspaper that
is!’

‘A very rascally newspaper,’ said I.



CHAPTER SIXTY-SEVEN


DISTURBED SLUMBERS—THE BED-POST—TWO WIZARDS—WHAT CAN I DO?—REAL
LIBRARY—THE REV. MR. PLATITUDE—TOLERATION TO DISSENTERS—PARADOX—SWORD OF
ST. PETER—ENEMY TO HUMBUG—HIGH PRINCIPLES—FALSE CONCORD—THE DAMSEL—WHAT
RELIGION?—THE FURTHER CONVERSATION—THAT WOULD NEVER DO!

During the greater part of that night my slumbers were disturbed by
strange dreams.  Amongst other things, I fancied that I was my host; my
head appeared to be teeming with wild thoughts and imaginations, out of
which I was endeavouring to frame a book.  And now the book was finished
and given to the world, and the world shouted; and all eyes were turned
upon me, and I shrank from the eyes of the world.  And, when I got into
retired places, I touched various objects in order to baffle the evil
chance.  In short, during the whole night, I was acting over the story
which I had heard before I went to bed.

At about eight o’clock I awoke.  The storm had long since passed away,
and the morning was bright and shining; my couch was so soft and
luxurious that I felt loth to quit it, so I lay some time, my eyes
wandering about the magnificent room to which fortune had conducted me in
so singular a manner; at last I heaved a sigh; I was thinking of my own
homeless condition, and imagining where I should find myself on the
following morning.  Unwilling, however, to indulge in melancholy
thoughts, I sprang out of bed and proceeded to dress myself, and, whilst
dressing, I felt an irresistible inclination to touch the bed-post.

I finished dressing and left the room, feeling compelled, however, as I
left it, to touch the lintel of the door.  Is it possible, thought I,
that from what I have lately heard the long-forgotten influence should
have possessed me again? but I will not give way to it; so I hurried
downstairs, resisting as I went a certain inclination which I
occasionally felt to touch the rail of the banister.  I was presently
upon the gravel walk before the house: it was indeed a glorious morning.
I stood for some time observing the golden fish disporting in the waters
of the pond, and then strolled about amongst the noble trees of the park;
the beauty and freshness of the morning—for the air had been considerably
cooled by the late storm—soon enabled me to cast away the gloomy ideas
which had previously taken possession of my mind, and, after a stroll of
about half an hour, I returned towards the house in high spirits.  It is
true that once I felt very much inclined to go and touch the leaves of a
flowery shrub which I saw at some distance, and had even moved two or
three paces towards it; but, bethinking myself, I manfully resisted the
temptation.  ‘Begone!’ I exclaimed, ‘ye sorceries, in which I formerly
trusted—begone for ever vagaries which I had almost forgotten; good luck
is not to be obtained, or bad averted, by magic touches; besides, two
wizards in one parish would be too much, in all conscience.’

I returned to the house, and entered the library; breakfast was laid on
the table, and my friend was standing before the portrait which I have
already said hung above the mantelpiece; so intently was he occupied in
gazing at it that he did not hear me enter, nor was aware of my presence
till I advanced close to him and spoke, when he turned round and shook me
by the hand.

‘What can possibly have induced you to hang up that portrait in your
library? it is a staring likeness, it is true, but it appears to me a
wretched daub.’

‘Daub as you call it,’ said my friend, smiling, ‘I would not part with it
for the best piece of Rafael.  For many a happy thought I am indebted to
that picture—it is my principal source of inspiration; when my
imagination flags, as of course it occasionally does, I stare upon those
features, and forthwith strange ideas of fun and drollery begin to flow
into my mind; these I round, amplify, or combine into goodly creations,
and bring forth as I find an opportunity.  It is true that I am
occasionally tormented by the thought that, by doing this, I am
committing plagiarism; though, in that case, all thoughts must be
plagiarisms, all that we think being the result of what we hear, see, or
feel.  What can I do?  I must derive my thoughts from some source or
other; and, after all, it is better to plariarise from the features of my
landlord than from the works of Butler and Cervantes.  My works, as you
are aware, are of a serio-comic character.  My neighbours are of opinion
that I am a great reader, and so I am, but only of those features—my real
library is that picture.’

‘But how did you obtain it?’ said I.

‘Some years ago a travelling painter came into this neighbourhood, and my
jolly host, at the request of his wife, consented to sit for his
portrait; she highly admired the picture, but she soon died, and then my
fat friend, who is of an affectionate disposition, said he could not bear
the sight of it, as it put him in mind of his poor wife.  I purchased it
of him for five pounds—I would not take five thousand for it; when you
called that picture a daub, you did not see all the poetry of it.’

We sat down to breakfast; my entertainer appeared to be in much better
spirits than on the preceding day; I did not observe him touch once; ere
breakfast was over a servant entered—‘The Reverend Mr. Platitude, sir,’
said he.

A shade of dissatisfaction came over the countenance of my host.  ‘What
does the silly pestilent fellow mean by coming here?’ said he, half to
himself; ‘let him come in,’ said he to the servant.

The servant went out, and in a moment reappeared, introducing the
Reverend Mr. Platitude.  The Reverend Mr. Platitude, having what is
vulgarly called a game leg, came shambling into the room; he was about
thirty years of age, and about five feet three inches high; his face was
of the colour of pepper, and nearly as rugged as a nutmeg-grater; his
hair was black; with his eyes he squinted, and grinned with his lips,
which were very much apart, disclosing two very irregular rows of teeth;
he was dressed in the true Levitical fashion, in a suit of spotless
black, and a neckerchief of spotless white.

The Reverend Mr. Platitude advanced winking and grinning to my
entertainer, who received him politely but with evident coldness; nothing
daunted, however, the Reverend Mr. Platitude took a seat by the table,
and, being asked to take a cup of coffee, winked, grinned, and consented.

In company I am occasionally subject to fits of what is generally called
absence; my mind takes flight and returns to former scenes, or presses
forward into the future.  One of these fits of absence came over me at
this time—I looked at the Reverend Mr. Platitude for a moment, heard a
word or two that proceeded from his mouth, and saying to myself, ‘You are
no man for me,’ fell into a fit of musing—into the same train of thought
as in the morning, no very pleasant one—I was thinking of the future.

I continued in my reverie for some time, and probably should have
continued longer, had I not been suddenly aroused by the voice of Mr.
Platitude raised to a very high key.  ‘Yes, my dear sir,’ said he, ‘it is
but too true; I have it on good authority—a gone church—a lost church—a
ruined church—a demolished church is the Church of England.  Toleration
to Dissenters!—oh, monstrous!’

‘I suppose,’ said my host, ‘that the repeal of the Test Acts will be
merely a precursor of the emancipation of the Papists?’

‘Of the Catholics,’ said the Reverend Mr. Platitude.  ‘Ahem.  There was a
time, as I believe you are aware, my dear sir, when I was as much opposed
to the emancipation of the Catholics as it was possible for any one to
be; but I was prejudiced, my dear sir, labouring under a cloud of most
unfortunate prejudice; but I thank my Maker I am so no longer.  I have
travelled, as you are aware.  It is only by travelling that one can rub
off prejudices; I think you will agree with me there.  I am speaking to a
traveller.  I left behind all my prejudices in Italy.  The Catholics are
at least our fellow-Christians.  I thank Heaven that I am no longer an
enemy to Catholic emancipation.’

‘And yet you would not tolerate Dissenters?’

‘Dissenters, my dear sir; I hope you would not class such a set as the
Dissenters with Catholics?’

‘Perhaps it would be unjust,’ said my host, ‘though to which of the two
parties is another thing; but permit me to ask you a question: Does it
not smack somewhat of paradox to talk of Catholics, whilst you admit
there are Dissenters?  If there are Dissenters, how should there be
Catholics?’

‘It is not my fault that there are Dissenters,’ said the Reverend Mr.
Platitude; ‘if I had my will I would neither admit there were any, nor
permit any to be.’

‘Of course you would admit there were such as long as they existed; but
how would you get rid of them?’

‘I would have the Church exert its authority.’

‘What do you mean by exerting its authority?’

‘I would not have the Church bear the sword in vain.’

‘What, the sword of St. Peter?  You remember what the founder of the
religion which you profess said about the sword, “He who striketh with it
. . . ”  I think those who have called themselves the Church have had
enough of the sword.  Two can play with the sword, Mr. Platitude.  The
Church of Rome tried the sword with the Lutherans: how did it fare with
the Church of Rome?  The Church of England tried the sword, Mr.
Platitude, with the Puritans: how did it fare with Laud and Charles?’

‘Oh, as for the Church of England,’ said Mr. Platitude, ‘I have little to
say.  Thank God, I left all my Church of England prejudices in Italy.
Had the Church of England known its true interests, it would long ago
have sought a reconciliation with its illustrious mother.  If the Church
of England had not been in some degree a schismatic church, it would not
have fared so ill at the time of which you are speaking; the rest of the
Church would have come to its assistance.  The Irish would have helped
it, so would the French, so would the Portuguese.  Disunion has always
been the bane of the Church.’

Once more I fell into a reverie.  My mind now reverted to the past;
methought I was in a small comfortable room wainscoted with oak; I was
seated on one side of a fireplace, close by a table on which were wine
and fruit; on the other side of the fire sat a man in a plain suit of
brown, with the hair combed back from his somewhat high forehead; he had
a pipe in his mouth, which for some time he smoked gravely and placidly,
without saying a word; at length, after drawing at the pipe for some time
rather vigorously, he removed it from his mouth, and, emitting an
accumulated cloud of smoke, he exclaimed in a slow and measured tone, ‘As
I was telling you just now, my good chap, I have always been an enemy to
humbug.’

When I awoke from my reverie the Reverend Mr. Platitude was quitting the
apartment.

‘Who is that person?’ said I to my entertainer, as the door closed behind
him.

‘Who is he?’ said my host; ‘why, the Reverend Mr. Platitude.’

‘Does he reside in this neighbourhood?’

‘He holds a living about three miles from here; his history, as far as I
am acquainted with it, is as follows.  His father was a respectable
tanner in the neighbouring town, who, wishing to make his son a
gentleman, sent him to college.  Having never been at college myself, I
cannot say whether he took the wisest course; I believe it is more easy
to unmake than to make a gentleman; I have known many gentlemanly youths
go to college, and return anything but what they went.  Young Mr.
Platitude did not go to college a gentleman, but neither did he return
one: he went to college an ass, and returned a prig; to his original
folly was superadded a vast quantity of conceit.  He told his father that
he had adopted high principles, and was determined to discountenance
everything low and mean; advised him to eschew trade, and to purchase him
a living.  The old man retired from business, purchased his son a living,
and shortly after died, leaving him what remained of his fortune.  The
first thing the Reverend Mr. Platitude did, after his father’s decease,
was to send his mother and sister into Wales to live upon a small
annuity, assigning as a reason that he was averse to anything low, and
that they talked ungrammatically.  Wishing to shine in the pulpit, he now
preached high sermons, as he called them, interspersed with scraps of
learning.  His sermons did not, however, procure him much popularity; on
the contrary, his church soon became nearly deserted, the greater part of
his flock going over to certain dissenting preachers, who had shortly
before made their appearance in the neighbourhood.  Mr. Platitude was
filled with wrath, and abused Dissenters in most unmeasured terms.
Coming in contact with some of the preachers at a public meeting, he was
rash enough to enter into argument with them.  Poor Platitude! he had
better have been quiet, he appeared like a child, a very infant, in their
grasp; he attempted to take shelter under his college learning, but
found, to his dismay, that his opponents knew more Greek and Latin than
himself.  These illiterate boors, as he had supposed them, caught him at
once in a false concord, and Mr. Platitude had to slink home overwhelmed
with shame.  To avenge himself he applied to the ecclesiastical court,
but was told that the Dissenters could not be put down by the present
ecclesiastical law.  He found the Church of England, to use his own
expression, a poor, powerless, restricted Church.  He now thought to
improve his consequence by marriage, and made up to a rich and beautiful
young lady in the neighbourhood; the damsel measured him from head to
foot with a pair of very sharp eyes, dropped a curtsey, and refused him.
Mr. Platitude, finding England a very stupid place, determined to travel;
he went to Italy; how he passed his time there he knows best, to other
people it is a matter of little importance.  At the end of two years he
returned with a real or assumed contempt for everything English, and
especially for the Church to which he belongs, and out of which he is
supported.  He forthwith gave out that he had left behind him all his
Church of England prejudices, and, as a proof thereof, spoke against
sacerdotal wedlock and the toleration of schismatics.  In an evil hour
for myself he was introduced to me by a clergyman of my acquaintance, and
from that time I have been pestered, as I was this morning, at least once
a week.  I seldom enter into any discussion with him, but fix my eyes on
the portrait over the mantelpiece, and endeavour to conjure up some comic
idea or situation, whilst he goes on talking tomfoolery by the hour about
Church authority, schismatics, and the unlawfulness of sacerdotal
wedlock; occasionally he brings with him a strange kind of being, whose
acquaintance he says he made in Italy; I believe he is some sharking
priest who has come over to proselytise and plunder.  This being has some
powers of conversation and some learning, but carries the countenance of
an arch villain; Platitude is evidently his tool.’

‘Of what religion are you?’ said I to my host.

‘That of the Vicar of Wakefield—good, quiet, Church of England, which
would live and let live, practises charity, and rails at no one; where
the priest is the husband of one wife, takes care of his family and his
parish—such is the religion for me, though I confess I have hitherto
thought too little of religious matters.  When, however, I have completed
this plaguy work on which I am engaged, I hope to be able to devote more
attention to them.’

After some further conversation, the subjects being, if I remember right,
college education, priggism, church authority, tomfoolery, and the like,
I rose and said to my host, ‘I must now leave you.’

‘Whither are you going?’

‘I do not know.’

‘Stay here, then—you shall be welcome as many days, months, and years as
you please to stay.’

‘Do you think I would hang upon another man?  No, not if he were Emperor
of all the Chinas.  I will now make my preparations, and then bid you
farewell.’

I retired to my apartment and collected the handful of things which I
carried with me on my travels.

‘I will walk a little way with you,’ said my friend on my return.

He walked with me to the park gate; neither of us said anything by the
way.  When we had come upon the road, I said, ‘Farewell now; I will not
permit you to give yourself any further trouble on my account.  Receive
my best thanks for your kindness; before we part, however, I should wish
to ask you a question.  Do you think you shall ever grow tired of
authorship?’

‘I have my fears,’ said my friend, advancing his hand to one of the iron
bars of the gate.

‘Don’t touch,’ said I, ‘it is a bad habit.  I have but one word to add:
should you ever grow tired of authorship follow your first idea of
getting into Parliament; you have words enough at command; perhaps you
want manner and method; but, in that case, you must apply to a teacher,
you must take lessons of a master of elocution.’

‘That would never do!’ said my host; ‘I know myself too well to think of
applying for assistance to any one.  Were I to become a parliamentary
orator, I should wish to be an original one, even if not above
mediocrity.  What pleasure should I take in any speech I might make,
however original as to thought, provided the gestures I employed and the
very modulation of my voice were not my own?  Take lessons, indeed! why,
the fellow who taught me, the professor, might be standing in the gallery
whilst I spoke; and, at the best parts of my speech, might say to
himself, “That gesture is mine—that modulation is mine.”  I could not
bear the thought of such a thing.’

‘Farewell,’ said I, ‘and may you prosper.  I have nothing more to say.’

I departed.  At the distance of twenty yards I turned round suddenly; my
friend was just withdrawing his finger from the bar of the gate.

‘He has been touching,’ said I, as I proceeded on my way; ‘I wonder what
was the evil chance he wished to baffle.’



CHAPTER SIXTY-EIGHT


ELASTIC STEP—DISCONSOLATE PARTY—NOT THE SEASON—MEND YOUR DRAUGHT—GOOD
ALE—CROTCHET—HAMMER AND TONGS—SCHOOLMASTER—TRUE EDEN LIFE—FLAMING
TINMAN—TWICE MY SIZE—HARD AT WORK—MY POOR WIFE—GREY MOLL—A
BIBLE—HALF-AND-HALF—WHAT TO DO—HALF INCLINED—IN NO TIME—ON ONE CONDITION
ONLY—DON’T STARE—LIKE UNTO THE WIND

After walking some time, I found myself on the great road, at the same
spot where I had turned aside the day before with my new-made
acquaintance, in the direction of his house.  I now continued my journey
as before, towards the north.  The weather, though beautiful, was much
cooler than it had been for some time past; I walked at a great rate,
with a springing and elastic step.  In about two hours I came to where a
kind of cottage stood a little way back from the road, with a huge oak
before it, under the shade of which stood a little pony and a cart, which
seemed to contain various articles.  I was going past—when I saw scrawled
over the door of the cottage, ‘Good beer sold here’; upon which, feeling
myself all of a sudden very thirsty, I determined to go in and taste the
beverage.

I entered a well-sanded kitchen, and seated myself on a bench, on one
side of a long white table; the other side, which was nearest to the
wall, was occupied by a party, or rather family, consisting of a
grimy-looking man, somewhat under the middle size, dressed in faded
velveteens, and wearing a leather apron—a rather pretty-looking woman,
but sunburnt, and meanly dressed, and two ragged children, a boy and
girl, about four or five years old.  The man sat with his eyes fixed upon
the table, supporting his chin with both his hands; the woman, who was
next him, sat quite still, save that occasionally she turned a glance
upon her husband with eyes that appeared to have been lately crying.  The
children had none of the vivacity so general at their age.  A more
disconsolate family I had never seen; a mug, which, when filled, might
contain half a pint, stood empty before them; a very disconsolate party
indeed.

‘House!’ said I; ‘House!’ and then, as nobody appeared, I cried again as
loud as I could, ‘House! do you hear me, House!’

‘What’s your pleasure, young man?’ said an elderly woman, who now made
her appearance from a side apartment.

‘To taste your ale,’ said I.

‘How much?’ said the woman, stretching out her hand towards the empty mug
upon the table.

‘The largest measure-full in your house,’ said I, putting back her hand
gently.  ‘This is not the season for half-pint mugs.’

‘As you will, young man,’ said the landlady; and presently brought in an
earthen pitcher which might contain about three pints, and which foamed
and frothed withal.

‘Will this pay for it?’ said I, putting down sixpence.

‘I have to return you a penny,’ said the landlady, putting her hand into
her pocket.

‘I want no change,’ said I, flourishing my hand with an air.

‘As you please, young gentleman,’ said the landlady, and then, making a
kind of curtsey, she again retired to the side apartment.

‘Here is your health, sir,’ said I to the grimy-looking man, as I raised
the pitcher to my lips.

The tinker, for such I supposed him to be, without altering his posture,
raised his eyes, looked at me for a moment, gave a slight nod, and then
once more fixed his eyes upon the table.  I took a draught of the ale,
which I found excellent; ‘Won’t you drink?’ said I, holding the pitcher
to the tinker.

                      [Picture: The bar of the gate]

The man again lifted up his eyes, looked at me, and then at the pitcher,
and then at me again.  I thought at one time that he was about to shake
his head in sign of refusal; but no, he looked once more at the pitcher,
and the temptation was too strong.  Slowly removing his head from his
arms, he took the pitcher, sighed, nodded, and drank a tolerable
quantity, and then set the pitcher down before me upon the table.

‘You had better mend your draught,’ said I to the tinker; ‘it is a sad
heart that never rejoices.’

‘That’s true,’ said the tinker, and again raising the pitcher to his
lips, he mended his draught as I had bidden him, drinking a larger
quantity than before.

‘Pass it to your wife,’ said I.

The poor woman took the pitcher from the man’s hand; before, however,
raising it to her lips, she looked at the children.  True mother’s heart,
thought I to myself, and taking the half-pint mug, I made her fill it,
and then held it to the children, causing each to take a draught.  The
woman wiped her eyes with the corner of her gown, before she raised the
pitcher and drank to my health.

In about five minutes none of the family looked half so disconsolate as
before, and the tinker and I were in deep discourse.

Oh, genial and gladdening is the power of good ale, the true and proper
drink of Englishmen.  He is not deserving of the name of Englishman who
speaketh against ale, that is good ale, like that which has just made
merry the hearts of this poor family; and yet there are beings, calling
themselves Englishmen, who say that it is a sin to drink a cup of ale,
and who, on coming to this passage will be tempted to fling down the book
and exclaim, ‘The man is evidently a bad man, for behold, by his own
confession, he is not only fond of ale himself, but is in the habit of
tempting other people with it.’  Alas! alas! what a number of silly
individuals there are in this world; I wonder what they would have had me
do in this instance—given the afflicted family a cup of cold water? go
to!  They could have found water in the road, for there was a pellucid
spring only a few yards distant from the house, as they were well
aware—but they wanted not water; what should I have given them? meat and
bread? go to!  They were not hungry; there was stifled sobbing in their
bosoms, and the first mouthful of strong meat would have choked them.
What should I have given them?  Money! what right had I to insult them by
offering them money?  Advice! words, words, words; friends, there is a
time for everything; there is a time for a cup of cold water; there is a
time for strong meat and bread; there is a time for advice, and there is
a time for ale; and I have generally found that the time for advice is
after a cup of ale.  I do not say many cups; the tongue then speaketh
more smoothly, and the ear listeneth more benignantly; but why do I
attempt to reason with you? do I not know you for conceited creatures,
with one idea—and that a foolish one;—a crotchet, for the sake of which
ye would sacrifice anything, religion if required—country?  There, fling
down my book, I do not wish ye to walk any farther in my company, unless
you cast your nonsense away, which ye will never do, for it is the breath
of your nostrils; fling down my book, it was not written to support a
crotchet, for know one thing, my good people, I have invariably been an
enemy to humbug.

‘Well,’ said the tinker, after we had discoursed some time, ‘I little
thought, when I first saw you, that you were of my own trade.’

_Myself_.  Nor am I, at least not exactly.  There is not much difference,
’tis true, between a tinker and a smith.

_Tinker_.  You are a whitesmith then?

_Myself_.  Not I, I’d scorn to be anything so mean; no, friend, black’s
the colour; I am a brother of the horse-shoe.  Success to the hammer and
tongs.

_Tinker_.  Well, I shouldn’t have thought you had been a blacksmith by
your hands.

_Myself_.  I have seen them, however, as black as yours.  The truth is, I
have not worked for many a day.

_Tinker_.  Where did you serve first?

_Myself_.  In Ireland.

_Tinker_.  That’s a good way off, isn’t it?

_Myself_.  Not very far; over those mountains to the left, and the run of
salt water that lies behind them, there’s Ireland.

_Tinker_.  It’s a fine thing to be a scholar.

_Myself_.  Not half so fine as to be a tinker.

_Tinker_.  How you talk!

_Myself_.  Nothing but the truth; what can be better than to be one’s own
master?  Now a tinker is his own master, a scholar is not.  Let us
suppose the best of scholars, a schoolmaster for example, for I suppose
you will admit that no one can be higher in scholarship than a
schoolmaster; do you call his a pleasant life?  I don’t; we should call
him a school-slave, rather than a schoolmaster.  Only conceive him in
blessed weather like this, in his close school, teaching children to
write in copy-books, ‘Evil communication corrupts good manners,’ or ‘You
cannot touch pitch without defilement,’ or to spell out of Abedariums, or
to read out of Jack Smith, or Sandford and Merton.  Only conceive him, I
say, drudging in such guise from morning till night, without any rational
enjoyment but to beat the children.  Would you compare such a dog’s life
as that with your own—the happiest under heaven—true Eden life, as the
Germans would say,—pitching your tent under the pleasant hedgerows,
listening to the song of the feathered tribes, collecting all the leaky
kettles in the neighbourhood, soldering and joining, earning your honest
bread by the wholesome sweat of your brow—making ten holes—hey, what’s
this? what’s the man crying for?

Suddenly the tinker had covered his face with his hands, and began to sob
and moan like a man in the deepest distress; the breast of his wife was
heaved with emotion; even the children were agitated, the youngest began
to roar.

_Myself_.  What’s the matter with you; what are you all crying about?

_Tinker_ (uncovering his face).  Lord, why to hear you talk; isn’t that
enough to make anybody cry—even the poor babes?  Yes, you said right,
’tis life in the garden of Eden—the tinker’s; I see so now that I’m about
to give it up.

_Myself_.  Give it up! you must not think of such a thing.

_Tinker_.  No, I can’t bear to think of it, and yetl must; what’s to be
done?  How hard to be frightened to death, to be driven off the roads.

_Myself_.  Who has driven you off the roads?

_Tinker_.  Who! the Flaming Tinman.

_Myself_.  Who is he?

_Tinker_.  The biggest rogue in England, and the cruellest, or he
wouldn’t have served me as he has done—I’ll tell you all about it.  I was
born upon the roads, and so was my father before me, and my mother too;
and I worked with them as long as they lived, as a dutiful child, for I
have nothing to reproach myself with on their account; and when my father
died I took up the business, and went his beat, and supported my mother
for the little time she lived; and when she died I married this young
woman, who was not born upon the roads, but was a small tradesman’s
daughter at Gloster.  She had a kindness for me, and, notwithstanding her
friends were against the match, she married the poor tinker, and came to
live with him upon the roads.  Well, young man, for six or seven years I
was the happiest fellow breathing, living just the life you described
just now—respected by everybody in this beat; when in an evil hour comes
this Black Jack, this flaming tinman, into these parts, driven as they
say out of Yorkshire—for no good you may be sure.  Now there is no beat
will support two tinkers, as you doubtless know; mine was a good one, but
it would not support the flying tinker and myself, though if it would
have supported twenty it would have been all the same to the flying
villain, who’ll brook no one but himself; so he presently finds me out,
and offers to fight me for the beat.  Now, being bred upon the roads, I
can fight a little, that is with anything like my match, but I was not
going to fight him, who happens to be twice my size, and so I told him;
whereupon he knocks me down, and would have done me farther mischief had
not some men been nigh and prevented him; so he threatened to cut my
throat, and went his way.  Well, I did not like such usage at all, and
was woundily frightened, and tried to keep as much out of his way as
possible, going anywhere but where I thought I was likely to meet him;
and sure enough for several months I contrived to keep out of his way.
At last somebody told me that he was gone back to Yorkshire, whereupon I
was glad at heart, and ventured to show myself, going here and there as I
did before.  Well, young man, it was yesterday that I and mine set
ourselves down in a lane, about five miles from here, and lighted our
fire, and had our dinner, and after dinner I sat down to mend three
kettles and a frying-pan which the people in the neighbourhood had given
me to mend—for, as I told you before, I have a good connection, owing to
my honesty.  Well, as I sat there hard at work, happy as the day’s long,
and thinking of anything but what was to happen, who should come up but
this Black Jack, this king of the tinkers, rattling along in his cart,
with his wife, that they call Grey Moll, by his side—for the villain has
got a wife, and a maid-servant too; the last I never saw, but they that
has, says that she is as big as a house, and young, and well to look at,
which can’t be all said of Moll, who, though she’s big enough in all
conscience, is neither young nor handsome.  Well, no sooner does he see
me and mine, than, giving the reins to Grey Moll, he springs out of his
cart, and comes straight at me; not a word did he say, but on he comes
straight at me like a wild bull.  I am a quiet man, young fellow, but I
saw now that quietness would be of no use, so I sprang up upon my legs,
and being bred upon the roads, and able to fight a little, I squared as
he came running in upon me, and had a round or two with him.  Lord bless
you, young man, it was like a fly fighting with an elephant—one of those
big beasts the show-folks carry about.  I had not a chance with the
fellow, he knocked me here, he knocked me there, knocked me into the
hedge, and knocked me out again.  I was at my last shifts, and my poor
wife saw it.  Now my poor wife, though she is as gentle as a pigeon, has
yet a spirit of her own, and though she wasn’t bred upon the roads, can
scratch a little; so when she saw me at my last shifts, she flew at the
villain—she couldn’t bear to see her partner murdered—and scratched the
villain’s face.  Lord bless you, young man, she had better have been
quiet: Grey Moll no sooner saw what she was about, than, springing out of
the cart, where she had sat all along perfectly quiet, save a little
whooping and screeching to encourage her blade:—Grey Moll, I say (my
flesh creeps when I think of it—for I am a kind husband, and love my poor
wife) . . .

_Myself_.  Take another draught of the ale; you look frightened, and it
will do you good.  Stout liquor makes stout heart, as the man says in the
play.

_Tinker_.  That’s true, young man; here’s to you—where was I?  Grey Moll
no sooner saw what my wife was about, than, springing out of the cart,
she flew at my poor wife, clawed off her bonnet in a moment, and seized
hold of her hair.  Lord bless you, young man, my poor wife, in the hands
of Grey Moll, was nothing better than a pigeon in the claws of a buzzard
hawk, or I in the hands of the Flaming Tinman, which when I saw, my heart
was fit to burst, and I determined to give up everything—everything to
save my poor wife out of Grey Moll’s claws.  ‘Hold!’ I shouted.  ‘Hold,
both of you—Jack, Moll.  Hold, both of you, for God’s sake, and I’ll do
what you will: give up trade, and business, connection, bread, and
everything, never more travel the roads, and go down on my knees to you
in the bargain.’  Well, this had some effect; Moll let go my wife, and
the Blazing Tinman stopped for a moment; it was only for a moment,
however, that he left off—all of a sudden he hit me a blow which sent me
against a tree; and what did the villain then? why the flying villain
seized me by the throat, and almost throttled me, roaring—what do you
think, young man, that the flaming villain roared out?

_Myself_.  I really don’t know—something horrible, I suppose.

_Tinker_.  Horrible, indeed; you may well say horrible, young man;
neither more nor less than the Bible—‘A Bible, a Bible!’ roared the
Blazing Tinman; and he pressed my throat so hard against the tree that my
senses began to dwaul away—a Bible, a Bible, still ringing in my ears.
Now, young man, my poor wife is a Christian woman, and, though she
travels the roads, carries a Bible with her at the bottom of her sack,
with which sometimes she teaches the children to read—it was the only
thing she brought with her from the place of her kith and kin, save her
own body and the clothes on her back; so my poor wife, half distracted,
runs to her sack, pulls out the Bible, and puts it into the hand of the
Blazing Tinman, who then thrusts the end of it into my mouth with such
fury that it made my lips bleed, and broke short one of my teeth which
happened to be decayed ‘Swear,’ said he, ‘swear, you mumping villain,
take your Bible oath that you will quit and give up the beat altogether,
or I’ll’—and then the hard-hearted villain made me swear by the Bible,
and my own damnation, half-throttled as I was, to—to—I can’t go on—

_Myself_.  Take another draught—stout liquor—

_Tinker_.  I can’t, young man, my heart’s too full, and what’s more, the
pitcher is empty.

_Myself_.  And so he swore you, I suppose, on the Bible, to quit the
roads?

_Tinker_.  You are right, he did so, the gypsy villain.

_Myself_.  Gypsy!  Is he a gypsy?

_Tinker_.  Not exactly; what they call a half-and-half.  His father was a
gypsy, and his mother, like mine, one who walked the roads?

_Myself_.  Is he of the Smiths—the Petulengres?

_Tinker_.  I say, young man, you know a thing or two; one would think, to
hear you talk, you had been bred upon the roads.  I thought none but
those bred upon the roads knew anything of that name—Petulengres!  No,
not he, he fights the Petulengres whenever he meets them; he likes nobody
but himself, and wants to be king of the roads.  I believe he is a Boss,
or a --- at any rate he’s a bad one, as I know to my cost.

_Myself_.  And what are you going to do?

_Tinker_.  Do! you may well ask that; I don’t know what to do.  My poor
wife and I have been talking of that all the morning, over that half-pint
mug of beer; we can’t determine on what’s to be done.  All we know is,
that we must quit the roads.  The villain swore that the next time he saw
us on the roads he’d cut all our throats, and seize our horse and bit of
a cart that are now standing out there under the tree.

_Myself_.  And what do you mean to do with your horse and cart?

_Tinker_.  Another question!  What shall we do with our cart and pony?
they are of no use to us now.  Stay on the roads I will not, both for my
oath’s sake and my own.  If we had a trifle of money, we were thinking of
going to Bristol, where I might get up a little business, but we have
none; our last three farthings we spent about the mug of beer.

_Myself_.  But why don’t you sell your horse and cart?

_Tinker_.  Sell them! and who would buy them, unless some one who wished
to set up in my line; but there’s no beat, and what’s the use of the
horse and cart and the few tools without the beat?

_Myself_.  I’m half inclined to buy your cart and pony, and your beat
too.

_Tinker_.  You!  How came you to think of such a thing?

_Myself_.  Why, like yourself, I hardly know what to do.  I want a home
and work.  As for a home, I suppose I can contrive to make a home out of
your tent and cart; and as for work, I must learn to be a tinker, it
would not be hard for one of my trade to learn to tinker; what better can
I do?  Would you have me go to Chester and work there now?  I don’t like
the thoughts of it.  If I go to Chester and work there, I can’t be my own
man; I must work under a master, and perhaps he and I should quarrel, and
when I quarrel I am apt to hit folks, and those that hit folks are
sometimes sent to prison; I don’t like the thought either of going to
Chester or to Chester prison.  What do you think I could earn at Chester?

_Tinker_.  A matter of eleven shillings a week, if anybody would employ
you, which I don’t think they would with those hands of yours.  But
whether they would or not, if you are of a quarrelsome nature you must
not go to Chester; you would be in the castle in no time.  I don’t know
how to advise you.  As for selling you my stock, I’d see you farther
first, for your own sake.

_Myself_.  Why?

_Tinker_.  Why! you would get your head knocked off.  Suppose you were to
meet him?

_Myself_.  Pooh, don’t be afraid on my account; if I were to meet him I
could easily manage him one way or other.  I know all kinds of strange
words and names, and, as I told you before, I sometimes hit people when
they put me out.

Here the tinker’s wife, who for some minutes past had been listening
attentively to our discourse, interposed, saying, in a low soft tone: ‘I
really don’t see, John, why you shouldn’t sell the young man the things,
seeing that he wishes for them, and is so confident; you have told him
plainly how matters stand, and if anything ill should befall him, people
couldn’t lay the blame on you; but I don’t think any ill will befall him,
and who knows but God has sent him to our assistance in time of need?’

‘I’ll hear of no such thing,’ said the tinker; ‘I have drunk at the young
man’s expense, and though he says he’s quarrelsome, I would not wish to
sit in pleasanter company.  A pretty fellow I should be, now, if I were
to let him follow his own will.  If he once sets up on my beat, he’s a
lost man, his ribs will be stove in, and his head knocked off his
shoulders.  There, you are crying, but you shan’t have your will though;
I won’t be the young man’s destruction . . .  If, indeed, I thought he
could manage the tinker—but he never can; he says he can hit, but it’s no
use hitting the tinker;—crying still! you are enough to drive one mad.  I
say, young man, I believe you understand a thing or two, just now you
were talking of knowing hard words and names—I don’t wish to send you to
your mischief—you say you know hard words and names; let us see.  Only on
one condition I’ll sell you the pony and things; as for the beat it’s
gone, isn’t mine—sworn away by my own mouth.  Tell me what’s my name; if
you can’t, may I—’

_Myself_.  Don’t swear, it’s a bad habit, neither pleasant nor
profitable.  Your name is Slingsby—Jack Slingsby.  There don’t stare,
there’s nothing in my telling you your name: I’ve been in these parts
before, at least not very far from here.  Ten years ago, when I was
little more than a child, I was about twenty miles from here in a
post-chaise, at the door of an inn, and as I looked from the window of
the chaise, I saw you standing by a gutter, with a big tin ladle in your
hand, and somebody called you Jack Slingsby.  I never forget anything I
hear or see; I can’t, I wish I could.  So there’s nothing strange in my
knowing your name; indeed, there’s nothing strange in anything, provided
you examine it to the bottom.  Now what am I to give you for the things?

I paid Slingsby five pounds ten shillings for his stock in trade, cart,
and pony—purchased sundry provisions of the landlady, also a wagoner’s
frock, which had belonged to a certain son of hers, deceased, gave my
little animal a feed of corn, and prepared to depart.

‘God bless you, young man,’ said Slingsby, shaking me by the hand; ‘you
are the best friend I’ve had for many a day: I have but one thing to tell
you, Don’t cross that fellow’s path if you can help it; and stay—should
the pony refuse to go, just touch him so, and he’ll fly like the wind.’



CHAPTER SIXTY-NINE


EFFECTS OF CORN—ONE NIGHT LONGER—THE HOOFS—A STUMBLE—ARE YOU HURT?—WHAT A
DIFFERENCE—DROWSY—MAZE OF BUSHES—HOUSEKEEPING—STICKS AND FURZE—THE
DRIFTWAY—AN ACCOUNT OF STOCK

It was two or three hours past noon when I took my departure from the
place of the last adventure, walking by the side of my little cart; the
pony, invigorated by the corn, to which he was probably not much
accustomed, proceeded right gallantly; so far from having to hasten him
forward by the particular application which the tinker had pointed out to
me, I had rather to repress his eagerness, being, though an excellent
pedestrian, not unfrequently left behind.  The country through which I
passed was beautiful and interesting, but solitary; few habitations
appeared.  As it was quite a matter of indifference to me in what
direction I went, the whole world being before me, I allowed the pony to
decide upon the matter; it was not long before he left the high-road,
being probably no friend to public places.  I followed him I knew not
whither, but, from subsequent observation, have reason to suppose that
our course was in a north-west direction.  At length night came upon us,
and a cold wind sprang up, which was succeeded by a drizzling rain.

I had originally intended to pass the night in the cart, or to pitch my
little tent on some convenient spot by the road’s side; but, owing to the
alteration in the weather, I thought that it would be advisable to take
up my quarters in any hedge alehouse at which I might arrive.  To tell
the truth, I was not very sorry to have an excuse to pass the night once
more beneath a roof.  I had determined to live quite independent, but I
had never before passed a night by myself abroad, and felt a little
apprehensive at the idea; I hoped, however, on the morrow, to be a little
more prepared for the step, so I determined for one night—only for one
night longer—to sleep like a Christian; but human determinations are not
always put into effect, such a thing as opportunity is frequently
wanting, such was the case here.  I went on for a considerable time, in
expectation of coming to some rustic hostelry, but nothing of the kind
presented itself to my eyes; the country in which I now was seemed almost
uninhabited, not a house of any kind was to be seen—at least I saw
none—though it is true houses might be near without my seeing them, owing
to the darkness of the night, for neither moon nor star was abroad.  I
heard, occasionally, the bark of dogs; but the sound appeared to come
from an immense distance.  The rain still fell, and the ground beneath my
feet was wet and miry; in short, it was a night in which even a tramper
by profession would feel more comfortable in being housed than abroad.  I
followed in the rear of the cart, the pony still proceeding at a sturdy
pace, till methought I heard other hoofs than those of my own nag; I
listened for a moment, and distinctly heard the sounds of hoofs
approaching at a great rate, and evidently from the quarter towards which
I and my little caravan were moving.  We were in a dark lane—so dark that
it was impossible for me to see my own hand.  Apprehensive that some
accident might occur, I ran forward, and, seizing the pony by the bridle,
drew him as near as I could to the hedge.  On came the hoofs—trot, trot,
trot; and evidently more than those of one horse; their speed as they
advanced appeared to slacken—it was only, however, for a moment.  I heard
a voice cry, ‘Push on,—this is a desperate robbing place,—never mind the
dark’; and the hoofs came on quicker than before.  ‘Stop!’ said I, at the
top of my voice; ‘stop! or—’  Before I could finish what I was about to
say there was a stumble, a heavy fall, a cry, and a groan, and putting
out my foot I felt what I conjectured to be the head of a horse stretched
upon the road.  ‘Lord have mercy upon us! what’s the matter?’ exclaimed a
voice.  ‘Spare my life,’ cried another voice, apparently from the ground;
‘only spare my life, and take all I have.’  ‘Where are you, Master Wise?’
cried the other voice.  ‘Help! here, Master Bat,’ cried the voice from
the ground; ‘help me up or I shall be murdered.’  ‘Why, what’s the
matter?’ said Bat.  ‘Some one has knocked me down, and is robbing me,’
said the voice from the ground.  ‘Help! murder!’ cried Bat; and,
regardless of the entreaties of the man on the ground that he would stay
and help him up, he urged his horse forward and galloped away as fast as
he could.  I remained for some time quiet, listening to various groans
and exclamations uttered by the person on the ground; at length I said,
‘Halloa! are you hurt?’  ‘Spare my life, and take all I have!’ said the
voice from the ground.  ‘Have they not done robbing you yet?’ said I;
‘when they have finished let me know, and I will come and help you.’
‘Who is that?’ said the voice; ‘pray come and help me, and do me no
mischief.’  ‘You were saying that some one was robbing you,’ said I;
‘don’t think I shall come till he is gone away.’  ‘Then you ben’t he?’
said the voice.  ‘Aren’t you robbed?’ said I.  ‘Can’t say I be,’ said the
voice; ‘not yet at any rate; but who are you?  I don’t know you.’  ‘A
traveller whom you and your partner were going to run over in this dark
lane; you almost frightened me out of my senses.’  ‘Frightened!’ said the
voice, in a louder tone; ‘frightened! oh!’ and thereupon I heard somebody
getting upon his legs.  This accomplished, the individual proceeded to
attend to his horse, and with a little difficulty raised him upon his
legs also.  ‘Aren’t you hurt?’ said I.  ‘Hurt!’ said the voice; ‘not I;
don’t think it, whatever the horse may be.  I tell you what, my fellow, I
thought you were a robber, and now I find you are not; I have a good
mind—’  ‘To do what?’  ‘To serve you out; aren’t you ashamed—?’  ‘At
what?’ said I; ‘not to have robbed you?  Shall I set about it now?’  ‘Ha,
ha!’ said the man, dropping the bullying tone which he had assumed; ‘you
are joking—robbing! who talks of robbing?  I wonder how my horse’s knees
are; not much hurt, I think—only mired.’  The man, whoever he was, then
got upon his horse; and, after moving him about a little, said, ‘Good
night, friend; where are you?’  ‘Here I am,’ said I, ‘just behind you.’
‘You are, are you?  Take that.’  I know not what he did, but probably
pricking his horse with the spur the animal kicked out violently; one of
his heels struck me on the shoulder, but luckily missed my face; I fell
back with the violence of the blow, whilst the fellow scampered off at a
great rate.  Stopping at some distance, he loaded me with abuse, and
then, continuing his way at a rapid trot, I heard no more of him.

‘What a difference!’ said I, getting up; ‘last night I was fêted in the
hall of a rich genius, and to-night I am knocked down and mired in a dark
lane by the heel of Master Wise’s horse—I wonder who gave him that name?
And yet he was wise enough to wreak his revenge upon me, and I was not
wise enough to keep out of his way.  Well, I am not much hurt, so it is
of little consequence.’

I now bethought me that, as I had a carriage of my own, I might as well
make use of it; I therefore got into the cart, and, taking the reins in
my hand, gave an encouraging cry to the pony, whereupon the sturdy little
animal started again at as brisk a pace as if he had not already come
many a long mile.  I lay half reclining in the cart, holding the reins
lazily, and allowing the animal to go just where he pleased, often
wondering where he would conduct me.  At length I felt drowsy, and my
head sank upon my breast; I soon aroused myself, but it was only to doze
again; this occurred several times.  Opening my eyes after a doze
somewhat longer than the others, I found that the drizzling rain had
ceased, a corner of the moon was apparent in the heavens, casting a faint
light; I looked around for a moment or two, but my eyes and brain were
heavy with slumber, and I could scarcely distinguish where we were.  I
had a kind of dim consciousness that we were traversing an uninclosed
country—perhaps a heath; I thought, however, that I saw certain large
black objects looming in the distance, which I had a confused idea might
be woods or plantations; the pony still moved at his usual pace.  I did
not find the jolting of the cart at all disagreeable, on the contrary, it
had quite a somniferous effect upon me.  Again my eyes closed; I opened
them once more, but with less perception in them than before, looked
forward, and, muttering something about woodlands, I placed myself in an
easier posture than I had hitherto done, and fairly fell asleep.

How long I continued in that state I am unable to say, but I believe for
a considerable time; I was suddenly awakened by the ceasing of the
jolting to which I had become accustomed, and of which I was perfectly
sensible in my sleep.  I started up and looked around me, the moon was
still shining, and the face of the heaven was studded with stars; I found
myself amidst a maze of bushes of various kinds, but principally hazel
and holly, through which was a path or driftway with grass growing on
either side, upon which the pony was already diligently browsing.  I
conjectured that this place had been one of the haunts of his former
master, and, on dismounting and looking about, was strengthened in that
opinion by finding a spot under an ash tree which, from its burnt and
blackened appearance, seemed to have been frequently used as a fireplace.
I will take up my quarters here, thought I; it is an excellent spot for
me to commence my new profession in; I was quite right to trust myself to
the guidance of the pony.  Unharnessing the animal without delay, I
permitted him to browse at free will on the grass, convinced that he
would not wander far from a place to which he was so much attached; I
then pitched the little tent close beside the ash tree to which I have
alluded, and conveyed two or three articles into it, and instantly felt
that I had commenced housekeeping for the first time in my life.
Housekeeping, however, without a fire is a very sorry affair, something
like the housekeeping of children in their toy houses; of this I was the
more sensible from feeling very cold and shivering, owing to my late
exposure to the rain, and sleeping in the night air.  Collecting,
therefore, all the dry sticks and furze I could find, I placed them upon
the fireplace, adding certain chips and a billet which I found in the
cart, it having apparently been the habit of Slingsby to carry with him a
small store of fuel.  Having then struck a spark in a tinder-box and
lighted a match, I set fire to the combustible heap, and was not slow in
raising a cheerful blaze; I then drew my cart near the fire, and, seating
myself on one of the shafts, hung over the warmth with feelings of
intense pleasure and satisfaction.  Having continued in this posture for
a considerable time, I turned my eyes to the heaven in the direction of a
particular star; I, however, could not find the star, nor indeed many of
the starry train, the greater number having fled, from which
circumstance, and from the appearance of the sky, I concluded that
morning was nigh.  About this time I again began to feel drowsy; I
therefore arose, and having prepared for myself a kind of couch in the
tent, I flung myself upon it and went to sleep.

I will not say that I was awakened in the morning by the carolling of
birds, as I perhaps might if I were writing a novel; I awoke because, to
use vulgar language, I had slept my sleep out, not because the birds were
carolling around me in numbers, as they had probably been for hours
without my hearing them.  I got up and left my tent; the morning was yet
more bright than that of the preceding day.  Impelled by curiosity, I
walked about endeavouring to ascertain to what place chance, or rather
the pony, had brought me; following the driftway for some time, amidst
bushes and stunted trees, I came to a grove of dark pines, through which
it appeared to lead; I tracked it a few hundred yards, but seeing nothing
but trees, and the way being wet and sloughy, owing to the recent rain, I
returned on my steps, and, pursuing the path in another direction, came
to a sandy road leading over a common, doubtless the one I had traversed
the preceding night.  My curiosity satisfied, I returned to my little
encampment, and on the way beheld a small footpath on the left winding
through the bushes, which had before escaped my observation.  Having
reached my tent and cart, I breakfasted on some of the provisions which I
had procured the day before, and then proceeded to take a regular account
of the stock formerly possessed by Slingsby the tinker, but now become my
own by right of lawful purchase.

Besides the pony, the cart, and the tent, I found I was possessed of a
mattress stuffed with straw on which to lie, and a blanket to cover me,
the last quite clean and nearly new; then there was a frying-pan and a
kettle, the first for cooking any food which required cooking, and the
second for heating any water which I might wish to heat.  I likewise
found an earthen teapot and two or three cups; of the first I should
rather say I found the remains, it being broken in three parts, no doubt
since it came into my possession, which would have precluded the
possibility of my asking anybody to tea for the present, should anybody
visit me, even supposing I had tea and sugar, which was not the case.  I
then overhauled what might more strictly be called the stock in trade;
this consisted of various tools, an iron ladle, a chafing-pan and small
bellows, sundry pans and kettles, the latter being of tin, with the
exception of one which was of copper, all in a state of considerable
dilapidation—if I may use the term; of these first Slingsby had spoken in
particular, advising me to mend them as soon as possible, and to
endeavour to sell them, in order that I might have the satisfaction of
receiving some return upon the outlay which I had made.  There was
likewise a small quantity of block tin, sheet tin, and solder.  ‘This
Slingsby,’ said I, ‘is certainly a very honest man, he has sold me more
than my money’s worth; I believe, however, there is something more in the
cart.’  Thereupon I rummaged the farther end of the cart, and, amidst a
quantity of straw, I found a small anvil and bellows of that kind which
are used in forges, and two hammers such as smiths use, one great, and
the other small.

The sight of these last articles caused me no little surprise, as no word
which had escaped from the mouth of Slingsby had given me reason to
suppose that he had ever followed the occupation of a smith; yet, if he
had not, how did he come by them?  I sat down upon the shaft, and
pondered the question deliberately in my mind; at length I concluded that
he had come by them by one of those numerous casualties which occur upon
the roads, of which I, being a young hand upon the roads, must have a
very imperfect conception; honestly, of course—for I scouted the idea
that Slingsby would have stolen this blacksmith’s gear—for I had the
highest opinion of his honesty, which opinion I still retain at the
present day, which is upwards of twenty years from the time of which I am
speaking, during the whole of which period I have neither seen the poor
fellow nor received any intelligence of him.



CHAPTER SEVENTY


NEW PROFESSION—BEAUTIFUL NIGHT—JUPITER—SHARP AND SHRILL—ROMMANY CHI—ALL
ALONE—THREE-AND-SIXPENCE—WHAT IS ROMMANY?—BE CIVIL—PARRACO TUTE—SLIGHT
START—GRATEFUL—THE RUSTLING

I passed the greater part of the day in endeavouring to teach myself the
mysteries of my new profession.  I cannot say that I was very successful,
but the time passed agreeably, and was therefore not ill spent.  Towards
evening I flung my work aside, took some refreshment, and afterwards a
walk.

This time I turned up the small footpath of which I have already spoken.
It led in a zigzag manner through thickets of hazel, elder, and
sweet-brier; after following its windings for somewhat better than a
furlong, I heard a gentle sound of water, and presently came to a small
rill, which ran directly across the path.  I was rejoiced at the sight,
for I had already experienced the want of water, which I yet knew must be
nigh at hand, as I was in a place to all appearance occasionally
frequented by wandering people, who I was aware never take up their
quarters in places where water is difficult to be obtained.  Forthwith I
stretched myself on the ground, and took a long and delicious draught of
the crystal stream, and then, seating myself in a bush, I continued for
some time gazing on the water as it purled tinkling away in its channel
through an opening in the hazels, and should have probably continued much
longer had not the thought that I had left my property unprotected
compelled me to rise and return to my encampment.

Night came on, and a beautiful night it was; up rose the moon, and
innumerable stars decked the firmament of heaven.  I sat on the shaft, my
eyes turned upwards.  I had found it: there it was twinkling millions of
miles above me, mightiest star of the system to which we belong: of all
stars the one which has most interest for me—the star Jupiter.

Why have I always taken an interest in thee, O Jupiter?  I know nothing
about thee, save what every child knows, that thou art a big star, whose
only light is derived from moons.  And is not that knowledge enough to
make me feel an interest in thee?  Ay, truly; I never look at thee
without wondering what is going on in thee; what is life in Jupiter?
That there is life in Jupiter who can doubt?  There is life in our own
little star, therefore there must be life in Jupiter, which is not a
little star.  But how different must life be in Jupiter from what it is
in our own little star!  Life here is life beneath the dear sun—life in
Jupiter is life beneath moons—four moons—no single moon is able to
illumine that vast bulk.  All know what life is in our own little star;
it is anything but a routine of happiness here, where the dear sun rises
to us every day: then how sad and moping must life be in mighty Jupiter,
on which no sun ever shines, and which is never lighted save by pale
moonbeams!  The thought that there is more sadness and melancholy in
Jupiter than in this world of ours, where, alas! there is but too much,
has always made me take a melancholy interest in that huge distant star.

Two or three days passed by in much the same manner as the first.  During
the morning I worked upon my kettles, and employed the remaining part of
the day as I best could.  The whole of this time I only saw two
individuals, rustics, who passed by my encampment without vouchsafing me
a glance; they probably considered themselves my superiors, as perhaps
they were.

One very brilliant morning, as I sat at work in very good spirits, for by
this time I had actually mended in a very creditable way, as I imagined,
two kettles and a frying-pan, I heard a voice which seemed to proceed
from the path leading to the rivulet; at first it sounded from a
considerable distance, but drew nearer by degrees.  I soon remarked that
the tones were exceedingly sharp and shrill, with yet something of
childhood in them.  Once or twice I distinguished certain words in the
song which the voice was singing; the words were—but no, I thought again
I was probably mistaken—and then the voice ceased for a time; presently I
heard it again, close to the entrance of the footpath; in another moment
I heard it in the lane or glade in which stood my tent, where it abruptly
stopped, but not before I had heard the very words which I at first
thought I had distinguished.

I turned my head; at the entrance of the footpath, which might be about
thirty yards from the place where I was sitting, I perceived the figure
of a young girl; her face was turned towards me, and she appeared to be
scanning me and my encampment; after a little time she looked in the
other direction, only for a moment, however; probably observing nothing
in that quarter, she again looked towards me, and almost immediately
stepped forward; and, as she advanced, sang the song which I had heard in
the wood, the first words of which were those which I have already
alluded to.

    ‘The Rommany chi
    And the Rommany chal
    Shall jaw tasaulor
    To drab the bawlor,
    And dook the gry
    Of the farming rye.’

A very pretty song, thought I, falling again hard to work upon my kettle;
a very pretty song, which bodes the farmers much good.  Let them look to
their cattle.

‘All alone here, brother?’ said a voice close by me, in sharp but not
disagreeable tones.

I made no answer, but continued my work, click, click, with the gravity
which became one of my profession.  I allowed at least half a minute to
elapse before I even lifted up my eyes.

A girl of about thirteen was standing before me; her features were very
pretty, but with a peculiar expression; her complexion was a clear olive,
and her jet black hair hung back upon her shoulders.  She was rather
scantily dressed, and her arms and feet were bare; round her neck,
however, was a handsome string of corals, with ornaments of gold; in her
hand she held a bulrush.

‘All alone here, brother?’ said the girl, as I looked up; ‘all alone
here, in the lane; where are your wife and children?’

‘Why do you call me brother?’ said I; ‘I am no brother of yours.  Do you
take me for one of your people?  I am no gypsy; not I, indeed!’

‘Don’t be afraid, brother, you are no Roman—Roman indeed, you are not
handsome enough to be a Roman; not black enough, tinker though you be.
If I called you brother, it was because I didn’t know what else to call
you.  Marry, come up, brother, I should be sorry to have you for a
brother.’

‘Then you don’t like me?’

‘Neither like you nor dislike you, brother; what will you have for that
kekaubi?’

‘What’s the use of talking to me in that un-Christian way; what do you
mean, young gentlewoman?’

‘Lord, brother, what a fool you are; every tinker knows what a kekaubi
is.  I was asking you what you would have for that kettle.’

‘Three-and-sixpence, young gentlewoman; isn’t it well mended?’

‘Well mended!  I could have done it better myself; three-and-sixpence!
it’s only fit to be played at football with.’

‘I will take no less for it, young gentlewoman; it has caused me a world
of trouble.’

‘I never saw a worse mended kettle.  I say, brother, your hair is white.’

‘’Tis nature; your hair is black; nature, nothing but nature.’

‘I am young, brother; my hair is black—that’s nature: you are young,
brother; your hair is white—that’s not nature.’

‘I can’t help it if it be not, but it is nature after all; did you never
see grey hair on the young?’

‘Never!  I have heard it is true of a grey lad, and a bad one he was.
Oh, so bad.’

‘Sit down on the grass, and tell me all about it, sister; do, to oblige
me, pretty sister.’

‘Hey, brother, you don’t speak as you did—you don’t speak like a gorgio,
you speak like one of us, you call me sister.’

‘As you call me brother; I am not an uncivil person after all, sister.’

‘I say, brother, tell me one thing, and look me in the face—there—do you
speak Rommany?’

‘Rommany!  Rommany! what is Rommany?’

‘What is Rommany? our language to be sure; tell me, brother, only one
thing, you don’t speak Rommany?’

‘You say it.’

‘I don’t say it, I wish to know.  Do you speak Rommany?’

‘Do you mean thieves’ slang—cant? no, I don’t speak cant, I don’t like
it, I only know a few words; they call a sixpence a tanner, don’t they?’

‘I don’t know,’ said the girl, sitting down on the ground, ‘I was almost
thinking—well, never mind, you don’t know Rommany.  I say, brother, I
think I should like to have the kekaubi.’

‘I thought you said it was badly mended?’

‘Yes, yes, brother, but—’

‘I thought you said it was only fit to be played at football with?’

‘Yes, yes, brother, but—’

‘What will you give for it?’

‘Brother, I am the poor person’s child, I will give you sixpence for the
kekaubi.’

‘Poor person’s child; how came you by that necklace?’

‘Be civil, brother; am I to have the kekaubi?’

‘Not for sixpence; isn’t the kettle nicely mended?’

‘I never saw a nicer mended kettle, brother; am I to have the kekaubi,
brother?’

‘You like me, then?’

‘I don’t dislike you—I dislike no one; there’s only one, and him I don’t
dislike, him I hate.’

‘Who is he?’

‘I scarcely know, I never saw him, but ’tis no affair of yours, you don’t
speak Rommany; you will let me have the kekaubi, pretty brother?’

‘You may have it, but not for sixpence; I’ll give it to you.’

‘Parraco tute, that is, I thank you, brother; the rikkeni kekaubi is now
mine.  O, rare!  I thank you kindly, brother.’

Starting up, she flung the bulrush aside which she had hitherto held in
her hand, and, seizing the kettle, she looked at it for a moment, and
then began a kind of dance, flourishing the kettle over her head the
while, and singing—

    ‘The Rommany chi
    And the Rommany chal
    Shall jaw tasaulor
    To drab the bawlor,
    And dook the gry
    Of the farming rye.

Good-bye, brother, I must be going.’

‘Good-bye, sister; why do you sing that wicked song?’

‘Wicked song, hey, brother! you don’t understand the song!’

‘Ha, ha! gypsy daughter,’ said I, starting up and clapping my hands, ‘I
don’t understand Rommany, don’t I?  You shall see; here’s the answer to
your gillie—

    ‘The Rommany chi
    And the Rommany chal,
    Love Luripen
    And dukkeripen,
    And hokkeripen,
    And every pen
    But Lachipen
    And tatchipen.’

The girl, who had given a slight start when I began, remained for some
time after I had concluded the song standing motionless as a statue, with
the kettle in her hand.  At length she came towards me, and stared me
full in the face.  ‘Grey, tall, and talks Rommany,’ said she to herself.
In her countenance there was an expression which I had not seen before—an
expression which struck me as being composed of fear, curiosity, and the
deepest hate.  It was momentary, however, and was succeeded by one
smiling, frank, and open.  ‘Ha, ha, brother,’ said she, ‘well, I like you
all the better for talking Rommany; it is a sweet language, isn’t it?
especially as you sing it.  How did you pick it up?  But you picked it up
upon the roads, no doubt?  Ha, it was funny in you to pretend not to know
it, and you so flush with it all the time; it was not kind in you,
however, to frighten the poor person’s child so by screaming out, but it
was kind in you to give the rikkeni kekaubi to the child of the poor
person.  She will be grateful to you; she will bring you her little dog
to show you, her pretty juggal; the poor person’s child will come and see
you again; you are not going away to-day, I hope, or to-morrow, pretty
brother, grey-haired brother—you are not going away to-morrow, I hope?’

‘Nor the next day,’ said I, ‘only to take a stroll to see if I can sell a
kettle; good-bye, little sister, Rommany sister, dingy sister.’

‘Good-bye, tall brother,’ said the girl, as she departed, singing

    ‘The Rommany chi,’ etc.

‘There’s something about that girl that I don’t understand,’ said I to
myself; ‘something mysterious.  However, it is nothing to me, she knows
not who I am, and if she did, what then?’

Late that evening as I sat on the shaft of my cart in deep meditation,
with my arms folded, I thought I heard a rustling in the bushes over
against me.  I turned my eyes in that direction, but saw nothing.  ‘Some
bird,’ said I; ‘an owl, perhaps’; and once more I fell into meditation;
my mind wandered from one thing to another—musing now on the structure of
the Roman tongue—now on the rise and fall of the Persian power—and now on
the powers vested in recorders at quarter-sessions.  I was thinking what
a fine thing it must be to be a recorder of the peace, when, lifting up
my eyes, I saw right opposite, not a culprit at the bar, but, staring at
me through a gap in the bush, a face wild and strange, half covered with
grey hair; I only saw it a moment, the next it had disappeared.



CHAPTER SEVENTY-ONE


FRIEND OF SLINGSBY—ALL QUIET—DANGER—THE TWO CAKES—CHILDREN IN THE
WOOD—DON’T BE ANGRY—IN DEEP THOUGHT—TEMPLES THROBBING—DEADLY SICK—ANOTHER
BLOW—NO ANSWER—HOW OLD ARE YOU?—PLAY AND SACRAMENT—HEAVY HEART—SONG OF
POISON—THE DROW OF GYPSIES—THE DOG—OF ELY’S CHURCH—GET UP, BEBEE—THE
VEHICLE—CAN YOU SPEAK?—THE OIL

The next day, at an early hour, I harnessed my little pony, and, putting
my things in my cart, I went on my projected stroll.  Crossing the moor,
I arrived in about an hour at a small village, from which, after a short
stay, I proceeded to another, and from thence to a third.  I found that
the name of Slingsby was well known in these parts.

‘If you are a friend of Slingsby you must be an honest lad,’ said an
ancient crone; ‘you shall never want for work whilst I can give it you.
Here, take my kettle, the bottom came out this morning, and lend me that
of yours till you bring it back.  I’m not afraid to trust you—not I.
Don’t hurry yourself, young man, if you don’t come back for a fortnight I
shan’t have the worse opinion of you.’

I returned to my quarters at evening, tired, but rejoiced at heart; I had
work before me for several days, having collected various kekaubies which
required mending, in place of those which I left behind—those which I had
been employed upon during the last few days.  I found all quiet in the
lane or glade, and, unharnessing my little horse, I once more pitched my
tent in the old spot beneath the ash, lighted my fire, ate my frugal
meal, and then, after looking for some time at the heavenly bodies, and
more particularly at the star Jupiter, I entered my tent, lay down upon
my pallet, and went to sleep.

Nothing occurred on the following day which requires any particular
notice, nor indeed on the one succeeding that.  It was about noon on the
third day that I sat beneath the shade of the ash tree; I was not at
work, for the weather was particularly hot, and I felt but little
inclination to make any exertion.  Leaning my back against the tree, I
was not long in falling into a slumber; I particularly remember that
slumber of mine beneath the ash tree, for it was about the sweetest
slumber that I ever enjoyed; how long I continued in it I do not know; I
could almost have wished that it had lasted to the present time.  All of
a sudden it appeared to me that a voice cried in my ear, ‘Danger! danger!
danger!’  Nothing seemingly could be more distinct than the words which I
heard; then an uneasy sensation came over me, which I strove to get rid
of, and at last succeeded, for I awoke.  The gypsy girl was standing just
opposite to me, with her eyes fixed upon my countenance; a singular kind
of little dog stood beside her.

‘Ha!’ said I, ‘was it you that cried danger?  What danger is there?’

‘Danger, brother, there is no danger; what danger should there be?  I
called to my little dog, but that was in the wood; my little dog’s name
is not danger, but Stranger; what danger should there be, brother?’

‘What, indeed, except in sleeping beneath a tree; what is that you have
got in your hand?’

‘Something for you,’ said the girl, sitting down and proceeding to untie
a white napkin; ‘a pretty manricli, so sweet, so nice; when I went home
to my people I told my grandbebee how kind you had been to the poor
person’s child, and when my grandbebee saw the kekaubi, she said, “Hir mi
devlis, it won’t do for the poor people to be ungrateful; by my God, I
will bake a cake for the young harko mescro.’”

‘But there are two cakes.’

‘Yes, brother, two cakes, both for you; my grandbebee meant them both for
you—but list, brother, I will have one of them for bringing them.  I know
you will give me one, pretty brother, grey-haired brother—which shall I
have, brother?’

In the napkin were two round cakes, seemingly made of rich and costly
compounds, and precisely similar in form, each weighing about half a
pound.

‘Which shall I have, brother?’ said the gypsy girl.

‘Whichever you please.’

‘No, brother, no, the cakes are yours, not mine.  It is for you to say.’

‘Well, then, give me the one nearest you, and take the other.’

‘Yes, brother, yes,’ said the girl; and taking the cakes, she flung them
into the air two or three times, catching them as they fell, and singing
the while.  ‘Pretty brother, grey-haired brother—here, brother,’ said
she, ‘here is your cake, this other is mine.’

‘Are you sure,’ said I, taking the cake, ‘that this is the one I chose?’

‘Quite sure, brother; but if you like you can have mine; there’s no
difference, however—shall I eat?’

‘Yes, sister, eat.’

‘See, brother, I do; now, brother, eat, pretty brother, grey-haired
brother.’

‘I am not hungry.’

‘Not hungry! well, what then—what has being hungry to do with the matter?
It is my grandbebee’s cake which was sent because you were kind to the
poor person’s child; eat, brother, eat, and we shall be like the children
in the wood that the gorgios speak of.’

‘The children in the wood had nothing to eat.’

‘Yes, they had hips and haws; we have better.  Eat, brother.’

‘See, sister, I do,’ and I ate a piece of the cake.

‘Well, brother, how do you like it?’ said the girl, looking fixedly at
me.

‘It is very rich and sweet, and yet there is something strange about it;
I don’t think I shall eat any more.’

‘Fie, brother, fie, to find fault with the poor person’s cake; see, I
have nearly eaten mine.’

‘That’s a pretty little dog.’

‘Is it not, brother? that’s my juggal, my little sister, as I call her.’

‘Come here, juggal,’ said I to the animal.

‘What do you want with my juggal?’ said the girl.

‘Only to give her a piece of cake,’ said I, offering the dog a piece
which I had just broken off.

‘What do you mean?’ said the girl, snatching the dog away; ‘my
grandbebee’s cake is not for dogs.’

‘Why, I just now saw you give the animal a piece of yours.’

‘You lie, brother, you saw no such thing; but I see how it is, you wish
to affront the poor person’s child.  I shall go to my house.’

‘Keep still, and don’t be angry; see, I have eaten the piece which I
offered the dog.  I meant no offence.  It is a sweet cake after all.’

‘Isn’t it, brother?  I am glad you like it.  Offence, brother, no offence
at all!  I am so glad you like my grandbebee’s cake, but she will be
wanting me at home.  Eat one piece more of grandbebee’s cake, and I will
go.’

‘I am not hungry, I will put the rest by.’

‘One piece more before I go, handsome brother, grey-haired brother.’

‘I will not eat any more, I have already eaten more than I wished to
oblige you; if you must go, good-day to you.’

The girl rose upon her feet, looked hard at me, then at the remainder of
the cake which I held in my hand, and then at me again, and then stood
for a moment or two, as if in deep thought; presently an air of
satisfaction came over her countenance, she smiled and said, ‘Well,
brother, well, do as you please, I merely wished you to eat because you
have been so kind to the poor person’s child.  She loves you so, that she
could have wished to have seen you eat it all; good-bye, brother, I
daresay when I am gone you will eat some more of it, and if you don’t, I
daresay you have eaten enough to—to—show your love for us.  After all it
was a poor person’s cake, a Rommany manricli, and all you gorgios are
somewhat gorgious.  Farewell, brother, pretty brother, grey-haired
brother.  Come, juggal.’

I remained under the ash tree seated on the grass for a minute or two,
and endeavoured to resume the occupation in which I had been engaged
before I fell asleep, but I felt no inclination for labour.  I then
thought I would sleep again, and once more reclined against the tree, and
slumbered for some little time, but my sleep was more agitated than
before.  Something appeared to bear heavy on my breast, I struggled in my
sleep, fell on the grass, and awoke; my temples were throbbing, there was
a burning in my eyes, and my mouth felt parched; the oppression about the
chest which I had felt in my sleep still continued.  ‘I must shake off
these feelings,’ said I, ‘and get upon my legs.’  I walked rapidly up and
down upon the green sward; at length, feeling my thirst increase, I
directed my steps down the narrow path to the spring which ran amidst the
bushes; arriving there, I knelt down and drank of the water, but on
lifting up my head I felt thirstier than before; again I drank, but with
the like result; I was about to drink for the third time, when I felt a
dreadful qualm which instantly robbed me of nearly all my strength.  What
can be the matter with me? thought I; but I suppose I have made myself
ill by drinking cold water.  I got up and made the best of my way back to
my tent; before I reached it the qualm had seized me again, and I was
deadly sick.  I flung myself on my pallet, qualm succeeded qualm, but in
the intervals my mouth was dry and burning, and I felt a frantic desire
to drink, but no water was at hand, and to reach the spring once more was
impossible; the qualms continued, deadly pains shot through my whole
frame; I could bear my agonies no longer, and I fell into a trance or
swoon.  How long I continued therein I know not; on recovering, however,
I felt somewhat better, and attempted to lift my head off my couch; the
next moment, however, the qualms and pains returned, if possible, with
greater violence than before.  I am dying, thought I, like a dog, without
any help; and then methought I heard a sound at a distance like people
singing, and then once more I relapsed into my swoon.

I revived just as a heavy blow sounded upon the canvas of the tent.  I
started, but my condition did not permit me to rise; again the same kind
of blow sounded upon the canvas; I thought for a moment of crying out and
requesting assistance, but an inexplicable something chained my tongue,
and now I heard a whisper on the outside of the tent.  ‘He does not move,
bebee,’ said a voice which I knew.  ‘I should not wonder if it has done
for him already; however, strike again with your ran’; and then there was
another blow, after which another voice cried aloud in a strange tone,
‘Is the gentleman of the house asleep, or is he taking his dinner?’  I
remained quite silent and motionless, and in another moment the voice
continued, ‘What, no answer? what can the gentleman of the house be about
that he makes no answer? perhaps the gentleman of the house may be
darning his stockings?’  Thereupon a face peered into the door of the
tent, at the farther extremity of which I was stretched.  It was that of
a woman, but owing to the posture in which she stood, with her back to
the light, and partly owing to a large straw bonnet, I could distinguish
but very little of the features of her countenance.  I had, however,
recognised her voice; it was that of my old acquaintance, Mrs. Herne.
‘Ho, ho, sir!’ said she, ‘here you are.  Come here, Leonora,’ said she to
the gypsy girl, who pressed in at the other side of the door; ‘here is
the gentleman, not asleep, but only stretched out after dinner.  Sit down
on your ham, child, at the door, I shall do the same.  There—you have
seen me before, sir, have you not?’

‘The gentleman makes no answer, bebee; perhaps he does not know you.’

‘I have known him of old, Leonora,’ said Mrs. Herne; ‘and, to tell you
the truth, though I spoke to him just now, I expected no answer.’

‘It’s a way he has, bebee, I suppose?’

‘Yes, child, it’s a way he has.’

‘Take off your bonnet, bebee, perhaps he cannot see your face.’

‘I do not think that will be of much use, child; however, I will take off
my bonnet—there—and shake out my hair—there—you have seen this hair
before, sir, and this face—’

‘No answer, bebee.’

‘Though the one was not quite so grey, nor the other so wrinkled.’

‘How came they so, bebee?’

‘All along of this gorgio, child.’

‘The gentleman in the house, you mean, bebee?’

‘Yes, child, the gentleman in the house.  God grant that I may preserve
my temper.  Do you know, sir, my name?  My name is Herne, which signifies
a hairy individual, though neither grey-haired nor wrinkled.  It is not
the nature of the Hernes to be grey or wrinkled, even when they are old,
and I am not old.’

‘How old are you, bebee?’

‘Sixty-five years, child—an inconsiderable number.  My mother was a
hundred and one—a considerable age—when she died, yet she had not one
grey hair, and not more than six wrinkles—an inconsiderable number.’

‘She had no griefs, bebee?’

‘Plenty, child, but not like mine.’

‘Not quite so hard to bear, bebee?’

‘No, child; my head wanders when I think of them.  After the death of my
husband, who came to his end untimeously, I went to live with a daughter
of mine, married out among certain Romans who walk about the eastern
counties, and with whom for some time I found a home and pleasant
society, for they lived right Romanly, which gave my heart considerable
satisfaction, who am a Roman born, and hope to die so.  When I say right
Romanly, I mean that they kept to themselves, and were not much given to
blabbing about their private matters in promiscuous company.  Well,
things went on in this way for some time, when one day my son-in-law
brings home a young gorgio of singular and outrageous ugliness, and,
without much preamble, says to me and mine, “This is my pal, ain’t he a
beauty? fall down and worship him.”  “Hold,” said I, “I for one will
never consent to such foolishness.”’

‘That was right, bebee, I think I should have done the same.’

‘I think you would, child; but what was the profit of it?  The whole
party makes an almighty of this gorgio, lets him into their ways, says
prayers of his making, till things come to such a pass that my own
daughter says to me, “I shall buy myself a veil and fan, and treat myself
to a play and sacrament.”  “Don’t,” says I; says she, “I should like for
once in my life to be courtesied to as a Christian gentlewoman.’”

‘Very foolish of her, bebee.’

‘Wasn’t it, child?  Where was I?  At the fan and sacrament; with a heavy
heart I put seven score miles between us, came back to the hairy ones,
and found them over-given to gorgious companions; said I, “Foolish
manners is catching; all this comes of that there gorgio.”  Answers the
child Leonora, “Take comfort, bebee; I hate the gorgios as much as you
do.”’

‘And I say so again, bebee, as much or more.’

‘Time flows on, I engage in many matters, in most miscarry.  Am sent to
prison; says I to myself, I am become foolish.  Am turned out of prison,
and go back to the hairy ones, who receive me not over courteously; says
I, for their unkindness, and my own foolishness, all the thanks to that
gorgio.  Answers to me the child, “I wish I could set eyes upon him,
bebee.”’

‘I did so, bebee; go on.’

‘“How shall I know him, bebee?” says the child.  “Young and grey, tall,
and speaks Romanly.”  Runs to me the child, and says, “I’ve found him,
bebee.”  “Where, child?” says I.  “Come with me, bebee,” says the child.
“That’s he,” says I, as I looked at my gentleman through the hedge.’

‘Ha, ha! bebee, and here he lies, poisoned like a hog.’

‘You have taken drows, sir,’ said Mrs. Herne; ‘do you hear, sir? drows;
tip him a stave, child, of the song of poison.’

And thereupon the girl clapped her hands, and sang—

    ‘The Rommany churl
    And the Rommany girl
    To-morrow shall hie
    To poison the sty,
    And bewitch on the mead
    The farmer’s steed.’

‘Do you hear that, sir?’ said Mrs. Herne; ‘the child has tipped you a
stave of the song of poison: that is, she has sung it Christianly, though
perhaps you would like to hear it Romanly; you were always fond of what
was Roman.  Tip it him Romanly, child.’

‘He has heard it Romanly already, bebee; ’twas by that I found him out,
as I told you.’

‘Halloo, sir, are you sleeping? you have taken drows; the gentleman makes
no answer.  God give me patience!’

‘And what if he doesn’t, bebee; isn’t he poisoned like a hog?  Gentleman,
indeed! why call him gentleman? if he ever was one he’s broke, and is now
a tinker, a worker of blue metal.’

‘That’s his way, child, to-day a tinker, to-morrow something else; and as
for being drabbed, I don’t know what to say about it.’

‘Not drabbed! what do you mean, bebee? but look there, bebee; ha, ha,
look at the gentleman’s motions.’

‘He is sick, child, sure enough.  Ho, ho! sir, you have taken drows;
what, another throe! writhe, sir, writhe; the hog died by the drow of
gypsies; I saw him stretched at evening.  That’s yourself, sir.  There is
no hope, sir, no help, you have taken drow; shall I tell you your
fortune, sir, your dukkerin?  God bless you, pretty gentleman, much
trouble will you have to suffer, and much water to cross; but never mind,
pretty gentleman, you shall be fortunate at the end, and those who hate
shall take off their hats to you.’

‘Hey, bebee!’ cried the girl; ‘what is this? what do you mean? you have
blessed the gorgio!’

‘Blessed him! no, sure; what did I say?  Oh, I remember, I’m mad; well, I
can’t help it, I said what the dukkerin dook told me; woe’s me, he’ll get
up yet.’

‘Nonsense, bebee!  Look at his motions, he’s drabbed, spite of dukkerin.’

‘Don’t say so, child; he’s sick, ’tis true, but don’t laugh at dukkerin,
only folks do that that know no better.  I, for one, will never laugh at
the dukkerin dook.  Sick again; I wish he was gone.’

‘He’ll soon be gone, bebee; let’s leave him.  He’s as good as gone; look
there, he’s dead.’

‘No, he’s not, he’ll get up—I feel it; can’t we hasten him?’

‘Hasten him! yes, to be sure; set the dog upon him.  Here, juggal, look
in there, my dog.’

The dog made its appearance at the door of the tent, and began to bark
and tear up the ground.

‘At him, juggal, at him; he wished to poison, to drab you.  Halloo!’

The dog barked violently, and seemed about to spring at my face, but
retreated.

‘The dog won’t fly at him, child; he flashed at the dog with his eye, and
scared him.  He’ll get up.’

‘Nonsense, bebee! you make me angry; how should he get up?’

‘The dook tells me so, and, what’s more, I had a dream.  I thought I was
at York, standing amidst a crowd to see a man hung, and the crowd
shouted, “There he comes!” and I looked, and lo! it was the tinker;
before I could cry with joy I was whisked away, and I found myself in
Ely’s big church, which was chock full of people to hear the dean preach,
and all eyes were turned to the big pulpit; and presently I heard them
say, “There he mounts!” and I looked up to the big pulpit, and, lo! the
tinker was in the pulpit, and he raised his arm and began to preach.
Anon, I found myself at York again, just as the drop fell, and I looked
up, and I saw not the tinker, but my own self hanging in the air.’

‘You are going mad, bebee; if you want to hasten him, take your stick and
poke him in the eye.’

‘That will be of no use, child, the dukkerin tells me so; but I will try
what I can do.  Halloo, tinker! you must introduce yourself into a quiet
family, and raise confusion—must you?  You must steal its language, and,
what was never done before, write it down Christianly—must you?  Take
that—and that’; and she stabbed violently with her stick towards the end
of the tent.

‘That’s right, bebee, you struck his face; now once more, and let it be
in the eye.  Stay, what’s that? get up, bebee.’

‘What’s the matter, child?’

‘Some one is coming, come away.’

‘Let me make sure of him, child; he’ll be up yet.’  And thereupon Mrs.
Herne, rising, leaned forward into the tent, and, supporting herself
against the pole, took aim in the direction of the farther end.  ‘I will
thrust out his eye,’ said she; and, lunging with her stick, she would
probably have accomplished her purpose had not at that moment the pole of
the tent given way, whereupon she fell to the ground, the canvas falling
upon her and her intended victim.

‘Here’s a pretty affair, bebee,’ screamed the girl.

‘He’ll get up, yet,’ said Mrs. Herne, from beneath the canvas.

‘Get up!—get up yourself; where are you? where is your—Here, there,
bebee, here’s the door; there, make haste, they are coming.’

‘He’ll get up yet,’ said Mrs. Herne, recovering her breath; ‘the dook
tells me so.’

‘Never mind him or the dook; he is drabbed; come away, or we shall be
grabbed—both of us.’

‘One more blow, I know where his head lies.’

‘You are mad, bebee; leave the fellow—gorgio avella.’

And thereupon the females hurried away.

A vehicle of some kind was evidently drawing nigh; in a little time it
came alongside of the place where lay the fallen tent, and stopped
suddenly.  There was a silence for a moment, and then a parley ensued
between two voices, one of which was that of a woman.  It was not in
English, but in a deep guttural tongue.

‘Peth yw hono sydd yn gorwedd yna ar y ddaear?’ said a masculine voice.

‘Yn wirionedd—I do not know what it can be,’ said the female voice, in
the same tongue.

‘Here is a cart, and there are tools; but what is that on the ground?’

‘Something moves beneath it; and what was that—a groan?’

‘Shall I get down?’

‘Of course, Peter, some one may want your help?’

‘Then I will get down, though I do not like this place; it is frequented
by Egyptians, and I do not like their yellow faces, nor their clibberty
clabber, as Master Ellis Wyn says.  Now I am down.  It is a tent,
Winifred, and see, here is a boy beneath it.  Merciful father! what a
face.’

A middle-aged man, with a strongly marked and serious countenance,
dressed in sober-coloured habiliments, had lifted up the stifling folds
of the tent, and was bending over me.  ‘Can you speak, my lad?’ said he
in English; ‘what is the matter with you? if you could but tell me, I
could perhaps help you—’  ‘What is that you say?  I can’t hear you.  I
will kneel down’; and he flung himself on the ground, and placed his ear
close to my mouth.  ‘Now speak if you can.  Hey! what! no, sure, God
forbid!’ then starting up, he cried to a female who sat in the cart,
anxiously looking on—‘Gwenwyn! gwenwyn! yw y gwas wedi ei gwenwynaw.  The
oil!  Winifred, the oil!’



CHAPTER SEVENTY-TWO


DESIRED EFFECT—THE THREE OAKS—WINIFRED—THINGS OF TIME—WITH GOD’S WILL—THE
PREACHER—CREATURE COMFORTS—CROESAW—WELSH AND ENGLISH—CHESTER

The oil, which the strangers compelled me to take, produced the desired
effect, though, during at least two hours, it was very doubtful whether
or not my life would be saved.  At the end of that period the man said
that with the blessing of God he would answer for my life.  He then
demanded whether I thought I could bear to be removed from the place in
which we were; ‘for I like it not,’ he continued, ‘as something within me
tells me that it is not good for any of us to be here.’  I told him, as
well as I was able, that I, too, should be glad to leave the place;
whereupon, after collecting my things, he harnessed my pony, and, with
the assistance of the woman, he contrived to place me in the cart; he
then gave me a draught out of a small phial, and we set forward at a slow
pace, the man walking by the side of the cart in which I lay.  It is
probable that the draught consisted of a strong opiate, for after
swallowing it I fell into a deep slumber; on my awaking, I found that the
shadows of night had enveloped the earth—we were still moving on.
Shortly, however, after descending a declivity, we turned into a lane, at
the entrance of which was a gate.  This lane conducted to a meadow,
through the middle of which ran a small brook; it stood between two
rising grounds; that on the left, which was on the farther side of the
water, was covered with wood, whilst the one on the right, which was not
so high, was crowned with the white walls of what appeared to be a
farm-house.

Advancing along the meadow, we presently came to a place where grew three
immense oaks, almost on the side of the brook, over which they flung
their arms, so as to shade it as with a canopy; the ground beneath was
bare of grass, and nearly as hard and smooth as the floor of a barn.
Having led his own cart on one side of the midmost tree, and my own on
the other, the stranger said to me, ‘This is the spot where my wife and
myself generally tarry in the summer season, when we come into these
parts.  We are about to pass the night here.  I suppose you will have no
objection to do the same?  Indeed, I do not see what else you could do
under present circumstances.’  After receiving my answer, in which I, of
course, expressed my readiness to assent to his proposal, he proceeded to
unharness his horse, and, feeling myself much better, I got down, and
began to make the necessary preparations for passing the night beneath
the oak.

Whilst thus engaged, I felt myself touched on the shoulder, and, looking
round, perceived the woman, whom the stranger called Winifred, standing
close to me.  The moon was shining brightly upon her, and I observed that
she was very good-looking, with a composed yet cheerful expression of
countenance; her dress was plain and primitive, very much resembling that
of a Quaker.  She held a straw bonnet in her hand.  ‘I am glad to see
thee moving about, young man,’ said she, in a soft, placid tone; ‘I could
scarcely have expected it.  Thou must be wondrous strong; many, after
what thou hast suffered, would not have stood on their feet for weeks and
months.  What do I say?—Peter, my husband, who is skilled in medicine,
just now told me that not one in five hundred would have survived what
thou hast this day undergone; but allow me to ask thee one thing, Hast
thou returned thanks to God for thy deliverance?’  I made no answer, and
the woman, after a pause, said, ‘Excuse me, young man, but do you know
anything of God?’  ‘Very little,’ I replied, ‘but I should say He must be
a wondrous strong person, if He made all those big bright things up above
there, to say nothing of the ground on which we stand, which bears beings
like these oaks, each of which is fifty times as strong as myself, and
will live twenty times as long.’  The woman was silent for some moments,
and then said, ‘I scarcely know in what spirit thy words are uttered.  If
thou art serious, however, I would caution thee against supposing that
the power of God is more manifested in these trees, or even in those
bright stars above us, than in thyself—they are things of time, but thou
art a being destined to an eternity; it depends upon thyself whether thy
eternity shall be one of joy or sorrow.’

Here she was interrupted by the man, who exclaimed from the other side of
the tree, ‘Winifred, it is getting late, you had better go up to the
house on the hill to inform our friends of our arrival, or they will have
retired for the night.’  ‘True,’ said Winifred, and forthwith wended her
way to the house in question, returning shortly with another woman, whom
the man, speaking in the same language which I had heard him first use,
greeted by the name of Mary; the woman replied in the same tongue, but
almost immediately said, in English, ‘We hoped to have heard you speak
to-night, Peter, but we cannot expect that now, seeing that it is so
late, owing to your having been detained by the way, as Winifred tells
me; nothing remains for you to do now but to sup—to-morrow, with God’s
will, we shall hear you.’  ‘And to-night, also, with God’s will, provided
you be so disposed.  Let those of your family come hither.’  ‘They will
be hither presently,’ said Mary, ‘for knowing that thou art arrived, they
will, of course, come and bid thee welcome.’  And scarcely had she spoke,
when I beheld a party of people descending the moonlit side of the hill.
They soon arrived at the place where we were; they might amount in all to
twelve individuals.  The principal person was a tall, athletic man, of
about forty, dressed like a plain country farmer; this was, I soon found,
the husband of Mary; the rest of the group consisted of the children of
these two, and their domestic servants.  One after another they all shook
Peter by the hand, men and women, boys and girls, and expressed their joy
at seeing him.  After which he said, ‘Now, friends, if you please, I will
speak a few words to you.’  A stool was then brought him from the cart,
which he stepped on, and the people arranging themselves round him, some
standing, some seated on the ground, he forthwith began to address them
in a clear, distinct voice; and the subject of his discourse was the
necessity, in all human beings, of a change of heart.

The preacher was better than his promise, for, instead of speaking a few
words, he preached for at least three-quarters of an hour; none of the
audience, however, showed the slightest symptom of weariness; on the
contrary, the hope of each individual appeared to hang upon the words
which proceeded from his mouth.  At the conclusion of the sermon or
discourse the whole assembly again shook Peter by the hand, and returned
to their house, the mistress of the family saying, as she departed, ‘I
shall soon be back, Peter; I go but to make arrangements for the supper
of thyself and company’; and, in effect, she presently returned, attended
by a young woman, who bore a tray in her hands.  ‘Set it down, Jessy,’
said the mistress to the girl, ‘and then betake thyself to thy rest, I
shall remain here for a little time to talk with my friends.’  The girl
departed, and the preacher and the two females placed themselves on the
ground about the tray.  The man gave thanks, and himself and his wife
appeared to be about to eat, when the latter suddenly placed her hand
upon his arm, and said something to him in a low voice, whereupon he
exclaimed, ‘Ay, truly, we were both forgetful’; and then getting up, he
came towards me, who stood a little way off, leaning against the wheel of
my cart; and, taking me by the hand, he said, ‘Pardon us, young man, we
were both so engaged in our own creature-comforts, that we forgot thee,
but it is not too late to repair our fault; wilt thou not join us, and
taste our bread and milk?’  ‘I cannot eat,’ I replied, ‘but I think I
could drink a little milk’; whereupon he led me to the rest, and seating
me by his side, he poured some milk into a horn cup, saying, ‘“Croesaw.”
That,’ added he, with a smile, ‘is Welsh for welcome.’

The fare upon the tray was of the simplest description, consisting of
bread, cheese, milk, and curds.  My two friends partook with a good
appetite.  ‘Mary,’ said the preacher, addressing himself to the woman of
the house, ‘every time I come to visit thee, I find thee less inclined to
speak Welsh.  I suppose, in a little time, thou wilt entirely have
forgotten it; hast thou taught it to any of thy children?’  ‘The two
eldest understand a few words,’ said the woman, ‘but my husband does not
wish them to learn it; he says sometimes, jocularly, that though it
pleased him to marry a Welsh wife, it does not please him to have Welsh
children.  Who, I have heard him say, would be a Welshman, if he could be
an Englishman?’  ‘I for one,’ said the preacher, somewhat hastily; ‘not
to be king of all England would I give up my birthright as a Welshman.
Your husband is an excellent person, Mary, but I am afraid he is somewhat
prejudiced.’  ‘You do him justice, Peter, in saying that he is an
excellent person,’ said the woman; ‘as to being prejudiced, I scarcely
know what to say, but he thinks that two languages in the same kingdom
are almost as bad as two kings.’  ‘That’s no bad observation,’ said the
preacher, ‘and it is generally the case; yet, thank God, the Welsh and
English go on very well, side by side, and I hope will do so till the
Almighty calls all men to their long account.’  ‘They jog on very well
now,’ said the woman; ‘but I have heard my husband say that it was not
always so, and that the Welsh, in old times, were a violent and ferocious
people, for that once they hanged the mayor of Chester.’  ‘Ha, ha!’ said
the preacher, and his eyes flashed in the moonlight; ‘he told you that,
did he?’  ‘Yes,’ said Mary; ‘once, when the mayor of Chester, with some
of his people, was present at one of the fairs over the border, a quarrel
arose between the Welsh and the English, and the Welsh beat the English,
and hanged the mayor.’  ‘Your husband is a clever man,’ said Peter, ‘and
knows a great deal; did he tell you the name of the leader of the Welsh?
No! then I will: the leader of the Welsh on that occasion was --- ---.
He was a powerful chieftain, and there was an old feud between him and
the men of Chester.  Afterwards, when two hundred of the men of Chester
invaded his country to take revenge for their mayor, he enticed them into
a tower, set fire to it, and burnt them all.  That --- was a very fine,
noble—God forgive me, what was I about to say!—a very bad, violent man;
but, Mary, this is very carnal and unprofitable conversation, and in
holding it we set a very bad example to the young man here—let us change
the subject.’

They then began to talk on religious matters.  At length Mary departed to
her abode, and the preacher and his wife retired to their tilted cart.

‘Poor fellow, he seems to be almost brutally ignorant,’ said Peter,
addressing his wife in their native language, after they had bidden me
farewell for the night.

‘I am afraid he is,’ said Winifred, ‘yet my heart warms to the poor lad,
he seems so forlorn.’



CHAPTER SEVENTY-THREE


MORNING HYMN—MUCH ALONE—JOHN BUNYAN—BEHOLDEN TO NOBODY—SIXTY-FIVE—SOBER
GREETING—EARLY SABBATHS—FINNY BROOD—THE PORCH—NO FORTUNE TELLING—THE
MASTER’S NIECE—DOING GOOD—THE GROANS AND VOICES—PECHOD YSPRYDD GLAN

I slept soundly during that night, partly owing to the influence of the
opiate.  Early in the morning I was awakened by the voices of Peter and
his wife, who were singing a morning hymn in their own language.  Both
subsequently prayed long and fervently.  I lay still till their devotions
were completed, and then left my tent.  ‘Good morning,’ said Peter, ‘how
dost thou feel?’  ‘Much better,’ said I, ‘than I could have expected.’
‘I am glad of it,’ said Peter.  ‘Art thou hungry? yonder comes our
breakfast,’ pointing to the same young woman I had seen the preceding
night, who was again descending the hill bearing the tray upon her head.

‘What dost thou intend to do, young man, this day?’ said Peter, when we
had about half finished breakfast.  ‘Do,’ said I; ‘as I do other days,
what I can.’  ‘And dost thou pass this day as thou dost other days?’ said
Peter.  ‘Why not?’ said I; ‘what is there in this day different from the
rest? it seems to be of the same colour as yesterday.’  ‘Art thou aware,’
said the wife, interposing, ‘what day it is? that it is Sabbath? that it
is Sunday?’  ‘No,’ said I, ‘I did not know that it was Sunday.’  ‘And how
did that happen?’ said Winifred, with a sigh.  ‘To tell you the truth,’
said I, ‘I live very much alone, and pay very little heed to the passing
of time.’  ‘And yet of what infinite importance is time,’ said Winifred.
‘Art thou not aware that every year brings thee nearer to thy end?’  ‘I
do not think,’ said I, ‘that I am so near my end as I was yesterday.’
‘Yes, thou art,’ said the woman; ‘thou wast not doomed to die yesterday;
an invisible hand was watching over thee yesterday; but thy day will
come, therefore improve the time; be grateful that thou wast saved
yesterday; and, oh! reflect on one thing; if thou hadst died yesterday,
where wouldst thou have been now?’  ‘Cast into the earth, perhaps,’ said
I.  ‘I have heard Mr. Petulengro say that to be cast into the earth is
the natural end of man.’  ‘Who is Mr. Petulengro?’ said Peter,
interrupting his wife, as she was about to speak.  ‘Master of the
horse-shoe,’ said I; ‘and, according to his own account, king of Egypt.’
‘I understand,’ said Peter, ‘head of some family of wandering
Egyptians—they are a race utterly godless.  Art thou of them?—but no,
thou art not, thou hast not their yellow blood.  I suppose thou belongest
to the family of wandering artisans called ---.  I do not like you the
worse for belonging to them.  A mighty speaker of old sprang up from
amidst that family.’  ‘Who was he?’ said I.  ‘John Bunyan,’ replied
Peter, reverently, ‘and the mention of his name reminds me that I have to
preach this day; wilt thou go and hear? the distance is not great, only
half a mile.’  ‘No,’ said I, ‘I will not go and hear.’  ‘Wherefore?’ said
Peter.  ‘I belong to the church,’ said I, ‘and not to the congregations.’
‘Oh! the pride of that church,’ said Peter, addressing his wife in their
own tongue, ‘exemplified even in the lowest and most ignorant of its
members.  Then thou, doubtless, meanest to go to church,’ said Peter,
again addressing me; ‘there is a church on the other side of that wooded
hill.’  ‘No,’ said I, ‘I do not mean to go to church.’  ‘May I ask thee
wherefore?’ said Peter.  ‘Because,’ said I, ‘I prefer remaining beneath
the shade of these trees, listening to the sound of the leaves and the
tinkling of the waters.’

‘Then thou intendest to remain here?’ said Peter, looking fixedly at me.
‘If I do not intrude,’ said I; ‘but if I do, I will wander away; I wish
to be beholden to nobody—perhaps you wish me to go?’  ‘On the contrary,’
said Peter, ‘I wish you to stay.  I begin to see something in thee which
has much interest for me; but we must now bid thee farewell for the rest
of the day, the time is drawing nigh for us to repair to the place of
preaching; before we leave thee alone, however, I should wish to ask thee
a question—Didst thou seek thy own destruction yesterday, and didst thou
wilfully take that poison?’  ‘No,’ said I; ‘had I known there had been
poison in the cake I certainly should not have taken it.’  ‘And who gave
it thee?’ said Peter.  ‘An enemy of mine,’ I replied.  ‘Who is thy
enemy?’  ‘An Egyptian sorceress and poison-monger.’  ‘Thy enemy is a
female.  I fear thou hadst given her cause to hate thee—of what did she
complain?’  ‘That I had stolen the tongue out of her head.’  ‘I do not
understand thee—is she young?’  ‘About sixty-five.’

Here Winifred interposed.  ‘Thou didst call her just now by hard names,
young man,’ said she; ‘I trust thou dost bear no malice against her.’
‘No,’ said I, ‘I bear no malice against her.’  ‘Thou art not wishing to
deliver her into the hand of what is called justice?’  ‘By no means,’
said I; ‘I have lived long enough upon the roads not to cry out for the
constable when my finger is broken.  I consider this poisoning as an
accident of the roads; one of those to which those who travel are
occasionally subject.’  ‘In short, thou forgivest thine adversary?’
‘Both now and for ever,’ said I.  ‘Truly,’ said Winifred, ‘the spirit
which the young man displayeth pleases me much; I should be loth that he
left us yet.  I have no doubt that, with the blessing of God, and a
little of thy exhortation, he will turn out a true Christian before he
leaveth us.’  ‘My exhortation!’ said Peter, and a dark shade passed over
his countenance; ‘thou forgettest what I am—I—I—but I am forgetting
myself; the Lord’s will be done; and now put away the things, for I
perceive that our friends are coming to attend us to the place of
meeting.’

Again the family which I had seen the night before descended the hill
from their abode.  They were now dressed in their Sunday’s best.  The
master of the house led the way.  They presently joined us, when a quiet
sober greeting ensued on each side.  After a little time Peter shook me
by the hand and bade me farewell till the evening; Winifred did the same,
adding that she hoped I should be visited by sweet and holy thoughts.
The whole party then moved off in the direction by which we had come the
preceding night, Peter and the master leading the way, followed by
Winifred and the mistress of the family.  As I gazed on their departing
forms, I felt almost inclined to follow them to their place of worship.
I did not stir, however, but remained leaning against my oak with my
hands behind me.

And after a time I sat me down at the foot of the oak with my face turned
towards the water, and, folding my hands, I fell into deep meditation.  I
thought on the early Sabbaths of my life, and the manner in which I was
wont to pass them.  How carefully I said my prayers when I got up on the
Sabbath morn, and how carefully I combed my hair and brushed my clothes
in order that I might do credit to the Sabbath day.  I thought of the old
church at pretty D---, the dignified rector, and yet more dignified
clerk.  I thought of England’s grand Liturgy, and Tate and Brady’s
sonorous minstrelsy.  I thought of the Holy Book, portions of which I was
in the habit of reading between service.  I thought, too, of the evening
walk which I sometimes took in fine weather like the present, with my
mother and brother—a quiet sober walk, during which I would not break
into a run, even to chase a butterfly, or yet more a honey-bee, being
fully convinced of the dread importance of the day which God had
hallowed.  And how glad I was when I had got over the Sabbath day without
having done anything to profane it.  And how soundly I slept on the
Sabbath night after the toil of being very good throughout the day.

And when I had mused on those times a long while, I sighed and said to
myself, I am much altered since then; am I altered for the better?  And
then I looked at my hands and my apparel, and sighed again.  I was not
wont of yore to appear thus on the Sabbath day.

For a long time I continued in a state of deep meditation, till at last I
lifted up my eyes to the sun, which, as usual during that glorious
summer, was shining in unclouded majesty; and then I lowered them to the
sparkling water, in which hundreds of the finny brood were disporting
themselves, and then I thought what a fine thing it was to be a fish on
such a fine summer day, and I wished myself a fish, or at least amongst
the fishes; and then I looked at my hands again, and then, bending over
the water, I looked at my face in the crystal mirror, and started when I
saw it, for it looked squalid and miserable.

Forthwith I started up, and said to myself, I should like to bathe and
cleanse myself from the squalor produced by my late hard life and by Mrs.
Herne’s drow.  I wonder if there is any harm in bathing on the Sabbath
day.  I will ask Winifred when she comes home; in the meantime I will
bathe, provided I can find a fitting place.

But the brook, though a very delightful place for fish to disport in, was
shallow, and by no means adapted for the recreation of so large a being
as myself; it was, moreover, exposed, though I saw nobody at hand, nor
heard a single human voice or sound.  Following the winding of the brook,
I left the meadow, and, passing through two or three thickets, came to a
place where between lofty banks the water ran deep and dark, and there I
bathed, imbibing new tone and vigour into my languid and exhausted frame.

Having put on my clothes, I returned by the way I had come to my vehicle
beneath the oak tree.  From thence, for want of something better to do, I
strolled up the hill, on the top of which stood the farm-house; it was a
large and commodious building built principally of stone, and seeming of
some antiquity, with a porch, on either side of which was an oaken bench.
On the right was seated a young woman with a book in her hand, the same
who had brought the tray to my friends and myself.

‘Good-day,’ said I, ‘pretty damsel, sitting in the farm porch.’

‘Good-day,’ said the girl, looking at me for a moment, and then fixing
her eyes on her book.

‘That’s a nice book you are reading,’ said I.

The girl looked at me with surprise.  ‘How do you know what book it is?’
said she.

‘How do I know—never mind; but a nice book it is—no love, no
fortune-telling in it.’

The girl looked at me half offended.  ‘Fortune-telling!’ said she, ‘I
should think not.  But you know nothing about it’; and she bent her head
once more over the book.

‘I tell you what, young person,’ said I, ‘I know all about that book;
what will you wager that I do not?’

‘I never wager,’ said the girl.

‘Shall I tell you the name of it,’ said I, ‘O daughter of the dairy?’

The girl half started.  ‘I should never have thought,’ said she, half
timidly, ‘that you could have guessed it.’

‘I did not guess it,’ said I, ‘I knew it; and meet and proper it is that
you should read it.’

‘Why so?’ said the girl.

‘Can the daughter of the dairy read a more fitting book than the
_Dairyman’s Daughter_?’

‘Where do you come from?’ said the girl.

‘Out of the water,’ said I.  ‘Don’t start, I have been bathing; are you
fond of the water?’

‘No,’ said the girl, heaving a sigh; ‘I am not fond of the water, that
is, of the sea’; and here she sighed again.

‘The sea is a wide gulf,’ said I, ‘and frequently separates hearts.’

The girl sobbed.

‘Why are you alone here?’ said I.

‘I take my turn with the rest,’ said the girl, ‘to keep at home on
Sunday.’

‘And you are—,’ said I.

‘The master’s niece!’ said the girl.  ‘How came you to know it?  But why
did you not go with the rest and with your friends?’

‘Who are those you call my friends?’ said I.

‘Peter and his wife.’

‘And who are they?’ said I.

‘Do you not know?’ said the girl; ‘you came with them.’

‘They found me ill by the way,’ said I; ‘and they relieved me: I know
nothing about them.’

‘I thought you knew everything,’ said the girl.

‘There are two or three things which I do not know, and this is one of
them.  Who are they?’

‘Did you never hear of the great Welsh preacher, Peter Williams?’

‘Never,’ said I.

‘Well,’ said the girl, ‘this is he, and Winifred is his wife, and a nice
person she is.  Some people say, indeed, that she is as good a preacher
as her husband, though of that matter I can say nothing, having never
heard her preach.  So these two wander over all Wales and the greater
part of England, comforting the hearts of the people with their doctrine,
and doing all the good they can.  They frequently come here, for the
mistress is a Welsh woman, and an old friend of both, and then they take
up their abode in the cart beneath the old oaks down there by the
stream.’

‘And what is their reason for doing so?’ said I; ‘would it not be more
comfortable to sleep beneath a roof?’

‘I know not their reasons,’ said the girl, ‘but so it is; they never
sleep beneath a roof unless the weather is very severe.  I once heard the
mistress say that Peter had something heavy upon his mind; perhaps that
is the cause.  If he is unhappy, all I can say is, that I wish him
otherwise, for he is a good man and a kind—’

‘Thank you,’ said I, ‘I will now depart.’

‘Hem!’ said the girl, ‘I was wishing—’

‘What? to ask me a question?’

‘Not exactly; but you seem to know everything; you mentioned, I think,
fortune-telling.’

‘Do you wish me to tell your fortune?’

‘By no means; but I have a friend at a distance at sea, and I should wish
to know—’

‘When he will come back?  I have told you already there are two or three
things which I do not know—this is another of them.  However, I should
not be surprised if he were to come back some of these days; I would if I
were in his place.  In the meantime be patient, attend to the dairy, and
read the _Dairyman’s Daughter_ when you have nothing better to do.’

It was late in the evening when the party of the morning returned.  The
farmer and his family repaired at once to their abode, and my two friends
joined me beneath the tree.  Peter sat down at the foot of the oak, and
said nothing.  Supper was brought by a servant, not the damsel of the
porch.  We sat round the tray, Peter said grace, but scarcely anything
else; he appeared sad and dejected, his wife looked anxiously upon him.
I was as silent as my friends; after a little time we retired to our
separate places of rest.

About midnight I was awakened by a noise; I started up and listened; it
appeared to me that I heard voices and groans.  In a moment I had issued
from my tent—all was silent—but the next moment I again heard groans and
voices; they proceeded from the tilted cart where Peter and his wife lay;
I drew near, again there was a pause, and then I heard the voice of
Peter, in an accent of extreme anguish, exclaim, ‘Pechod Ysprydd Glan—O
pechod Ysprydd Glan!’ and then he uttered a deep groan.  Anon, I heard
the voice of Winifred, and never shall I forget the sweetness and
gentleness of the tones of her voice in the stillness of that night.  I
did not understand all she said—she spoke in her native language, and I
was some way apart; she appeared to endeavour to console her husband, but
he seemed to refuse all comfort, and, with many groans, repeated—‘Pechod
Ysprydd Glan—O pechod Ysprydd Glan!’  I felt I had no right to pry into
their afflictions, and retired.

Now ‘pechod Ysprydd Glan,’ interpreted, is the sin against the Holy
Ghost.



CHAPTER SEVENTY-FOUR


THE FOLLOWING DAY—PRIDE—THRIVING TRADE—TYLWYTH TEG—ABOUT ELLIS
WYN—SLEEPING BARD—THE INCALCULABLE GOOD—FEARFUL AGONY—THE TALE

Peter and his wife did not proceed on any expedition during the following
day.  The former strolled gloomily about the fields, and the latter
passed many hours in the farmhouse.  Towards evening, without saying a
word to either, I departed with my vehicle, and finding my way to a small
town at some distance, I laid in a store of various articles, with which
I returned.  It was night, and my two friends were seated beneath the
oak; they had just completed their frugal supper.  ‘We waited for thee
some time,’ said Winifred, ‘but, finding that thou didst not come, we
began without thee; but sit down, I pray thee, there is still enough for
thee.’  ‘I will sit down,’ said I, ‘but I require no supper, for I have
eaten where I have been’: nothing more particular occurred at the time.
Next morning the kind pair invited me to share their breakfast.  ‘I will
not share your breakfast,’ said I.  ‘Wherefore not?’ said Winifred
anxiously.  ‘Because,’ said I, ‘it is not proper that I be beholden to
you for meat and drink.’  ‘But we are beholden to other people,’ said
Winifred.  ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘but you preach to them, and give them ghostly
advice, which considerably alters the matter; not that I would receive
anything from them, if I preached to them six times a day.’  ‘Thou art
not fond of receiving favours, then, young man,’ said Winifred.  ‘I am
not,’ said I.  ‘And of conferring favours?’  ‘Nothing affords me greater
pleasure,’ said I, ‘than to confer favours.’  ‘What a disposition,’ said
Winifred, holding up her hands; ‘and this is pride, genuine pride—that
feeling which the world agrees to call so noble.  Oh, how mean a thing is
pride! never before did I see all the meanness of what is called pride!’

‘But how wilt thou live, friend,’ said Peter; ‘dost thou not intend to
eat?’  ‘When I went out last night,’ said I, ‘I laid in a provision.’
‘Thou hast laid in a provision!’ said Peter, ‘pray let us see it.
Really, friend,’ said he, after I had produced it, ‘thou must drive a
thriving trade; here are provisions enough to last three people for
several days.  Here are butter and eggs, here is tea, here is sugar, and
there is a flitch.  I hope thou wilt let us partake of some of thy fare.’
‘I should be very happy if you would,’ said I.  ‘Doubt not but we shall,’
said Peter; ‘Winifred shall have some of thy flitch cooked for dinner.
In the meantime, sit down, young man, and breakfast at our expense—we
will dine at thine.’

On the evening of that day, Peter and myself sat alone beneath the oak.
We fell into conversation; Peter was at first melancholy, but he soon
became more cheerful, fluent, and entertaining.  I spoke but little; but
I observed that sometimes what I said surprised the good Methodist.  We
had been silent some time.  At length, lifting up my eyes to the broad
and leafy canopy of the trees, I said, having nothing better to remark,
‘What a noble tree!  I wonder if the fairies ever dance beneath it.’

‘Fairies!’ said Peter, ‘fairies! how came you, young man, to know
anything about the fair family?’

‘I am an Englishman,’ said I, ‘and of course know something about
fairies; England was once a famous place for them.’

‘Was once, I grant you,’ said Peter, ‘but is so no longer.  I have
travelled for years about England, and never heard them mentioned before;
the belief in them has died away, and even their name seems to be
forgotten.  If you had said you were a Welshman, I should not have been
surprised.  The Welsh have much to say of the Tylwyth Teg, or fair
family, and many believe in them.’

‘And do you believe in them?’ said I.

‘I scarcely know what to say.  Wise and good men have been of opinion
that they are nothing but devils, who, under the form of pretty and
amiable spirits, would fain allure poor human beings; I see nothing
irrational in the supposition.’

‘Do you believe in devils, then?’

‘Do I believe in devils, young man?’ said Peter, and his frame was shaken
as if by convulsions.  ‘If I do not believe in devils, why am I here at
the present moment?’

‘You know best,’ said I; ‘but I don’t believe that fairies are devils,
and I don’t wish to hear them insulted.  What learned men have said they
are devils?’

‘Many have said it, young man, and amongst others, Master Ellis Wyn, in
that wonderful book of his, the _Bardd Cwsg_.’

‘The _Bardd Cwsg_,’ said I; ‘what kind of book is that?  I have never
heard of that book before.’

‘Heard of it before; I suppose not; how should you have heard of it
before?  By the bye, can you read?’

‘Very tolerably,’ said I; ‘so there are fairies in this book.  What do
you call it—the _Bardd Cwsg_?’

‘Yes, the _Bardd Cwsg_.  You pronounce Welsh very fairly; have you ever
been in Wales?’

‘Never,’ said I.

‘Not been in Wales; then, of course, you don’t understand Welsh; but we
were talking of the _Bardd Cwsg_—yes, there are fairies in the _Bardd
Cwsg_,—the author of it, Master Ellis Wyn, was carried away in his sleep
by them over mountains and valleys, rivers and great waters, incurring
mighty perils at their hands, till he was rescued from them by an angel
of the Most High, who subsequently showed him many wonderful things.’

‘I beg your pardon,’ said I, ‘but what were those wonderful things?’

‘I see, young man,’ said Peter, smiling, ‘that you are not without
curiosity; but I can easily pardon any one for being curious about the
wonders contained in the book of Master Ellis Wyn.  The angel showed him
the course of this world, its pomps and vanities, its cruelty and its
pride, its crimes and deceits.  On another occasion, the angel showed him
Death in his nether palace, surrounded by his grisly ministers, and by
those who are continually falling victims to his power.  And, on a third
occasion, the state of the condemned in their place of everlasting
torment.’

‘But this was all in his sleep,’ said I, ‘was it not?’

‘Yes,’ said Peter, ‘in his sleep; and on that account the book is called
_Gweledigaethau y Bardd Cwsg_, or, _Visions of the Sleeping Bard_.’

‘I do not care for wonders which occur in sleep,’ said I.  ‘I prefer real
ones; and perhaps, notwithstanding what he says, the man had no visions
at all—they are probably of his own invention.’

‘They are substantially true, young man,’ said Peter; ‘like the dreams of
Bunyan, they are founded on three tremendous facts, Sin, Death, and Hell;
and like his they have done incalculable good, at least in my own
country, in the language of which they are written.  Many a guilty
conscience has the _Bardd Cwsg_ aroused with its dreadful sights, its
strong sighs, its puffs of smoke from the pit, and its showers of sparks
from the mouth of the yet lower gulf of Unknown—were it not for the
_Bardd Cwsg_ perhaps I might not be here.’

‘I would sooner hear your own tale,’ said I, ‘than all the visions of the
_Bardd Cwsg_.’

Peter shook, bent his form nearly double, and covered his face with his
hands.  I sat still and motionless, with my eyes fixed upon him.
Presently Winifred descended the hill, and joined us.  ‘What is the
matter?’ said she, looking at her husband, who still remained in the
posture I have described.  He made no answer; whereupon, laying her hand
gently on his shoulder, she said, in the peculiar soft and tender tone
which I had heard her use on a former occasion, ‘Take comfort, Peter;
what has happened now to afflict thee?’  Peter removed his hand from his
face.  ‘The old pain, the old pain,’ said he; ‘I was talking with this
young man, and he would fain know what brought me here, he would fain
hear my tale, Winifred—my sin: O pechod Ysprydd Glan!  O pechod Ysprydd
Glan!’ and the poor man fell into a more fearful agony than before.
Tears trickled down Winifred’s face, I saw them trickling by the
moonlight, as she gazed upon the writhing form of her afflicted husband.
I arose from my seat.  ‘I am the cause of all this,’ said I, ‘by my folly
and imprudence, and it is thus I have returned your kindness and
hospitality; I will depart from you and wander my way.’  I was retiring,
but Peter sprang up and detained me.  ‘Go not,’ said he, ‘you were not in
fault; if there be any fault in the case it was mine; if I suffer, I am
but paying the penalty of my own iniquity’; he then paused, and appeared
to be considering: at length he said, ‘Many things which thou hast seen
and heard connected with me require explanation; thou wishest to know my
tale, I will tell it thee, but not now, not to-night; I am too much
shaken.’

Two evenings later, when we were again seated beneath the oak, Peter took
the hand of his wife in his own, and then, in tones broken and almost
inarticulate, commenced telling me his tale—the tale of the Pechod
Ysprydd Glan.



CHAPTER SEVENTY-FIVE


TAKING A CUP—GETTING TO HEAVEN—AFTER BREAKFAST—WOODEN GALLERY—MECHANICAL
HABIT—RESERVED AND GLOOMY—LAST WORDS—A LONG TIME—FROM THE
CLOUDS—MOMENTARY CHILL—PLEASING ANTICIPATION

‘I was born in the heart of North Wales, the son of a respectable farmer,
and am the youngest of seven brothers.

‘My father was a member of the Church of England, and was what is
generally called a serious man.  He went to church regularly, and read
the Bible every Sunday evening; in his moments of leisure he was fond of
holding religious discourse both with his family and his neighbours.

‘One autumn afternoon, on a week day, my father sat with one of his
neighbours taking a cup of ale by the oak table in our stone kitchen.  I
sat near them, and listened to their discourse.  I was at that time seven
years of age.  They were talking of religious matters.  “It is a hard
matter to get to heaven,” said my father.  “Exceedingly so,” said the
other.  “However, I don’t despond; none need despair of getting to
heaven, save those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost.”

‘“Ah!” said my father, “thank God I never committed that—how awful must
be the state of a person who has committed the sin against the Holy
Ghost.  I can scarcely think of it without my hair standing on end”; and
then my father and his friend began talking of the nature of the sin
against the Holy Ghost, and I heard them say what it was, as I sat with
greedy ears listening to their discourse.

‘I lay awake the greater part of the night musing upon what I had heard.
I kept wondering to myself what must be the state of a person who had
committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, and how he must feel.  Once or
twice I felt a strong inclination to commit it, a strange kind of fear,
however, prevented me; at last I determined not to commit it, and, having
said my prayers, I fell asleep.

‘When I awoke in the morning the first thing I thought of was the
mysterious sin, and a voice within me seemed to say, “Commit it”; and I
felt a strong temptation to do so, even stronger than in the night.  I
was just about to yield, when the same dread, of which I have already
spoken, came over me, and, springing out of bed, I went down on my knees.
I slept in a small room alone, to which I ascended by a wooden stair,
open to the sky.  I have often thought since that it is not a good thing
for children to sleep alone.

‘After breakfast I went to school, and endeavoured to employ myself upon
my tasks, but all in vain; I could think of nothing but the sin against
the Holy Ghost; my eyes, instead of being fixed upon my book, wandered in
vacancy.  My master observed my inattention, and chid me.  The time came
for saying my task, and I had not acquired it.  My master reproached me,
and, yet more, he beat me; I felt shame and anger, and I went home with a
full determination to commit the sin against the Holy Ghost.

‘But when I got home my father ordered me to do something connected with
the farm, so that I was compelled to exert myself; I was occupied till
night, and was so busy that I almost forgot the sin and my late
resolution.  My work completed, I took my supper, and went to my room; I
began my prayers, and when they were ended, I thought of the sin, but the
temptation was slight, I felt very tired, and was presently asleep.

‘Thus, you see, I had plenty of time allotted me by a gracious and kind
God to reflect on what I was about to do.  He did not permit the enemy of
souls to take me by surprise, and to hurry me at once into the commission
of that which was to be my ruin here and hereafter.  Whatever I did was
of my own free will, after I had had time to reflect.  Thus God is
justified; He had no hand in my destruction, but, on the contrary, He did
all that was compatible with justice to prevent it.  I hasten to the
fatal moment.  Awaking in the night, I determined that nothing should
prevent my committing the sin.  Arising from my bed, I went out upon the
wooden gallery; and having stood for a few moments looking at the stars,
with which the heavens were thickly strewn, I laid myself down, and
supporting my face with my hand, I murmured out words of horror, words
not to be repeated, and in this manner I committed the sin against the
Holy Ghost.

‘When the words were uttered I sat up upon the topmost step of the
gallery; for some time I felt stunned in somewhat the same manner as I
once subsequently felt after being stung by an adder.  I soon arose,
however, and retired to my bed, where, notwithstanding what I had done, I
was not slow in falling asleep.

‘I awoke several times during the night, each time with the dim idea that
something strange and monstrous had occurred, but I presently fell asleep
again; in the morning I awoke with the same vague feeling, but presently
recollection returned, and I remembered that I had committed the sin
against the Holy Ghost.  I lay musing for some time on what I had done,
and I felt rather stunned, as before; at last I arose and got out of bed,
dressed myself, and then went down on my knees, and was about to pray
from the force of mechanical habit; before I said a word, however, I
recollected myself, and got up again.  What was the use of praying?  I
thought; I had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost.

‘I went to school, but sat stupefied.  I was again chidden, again beaten,
by my master.  I felt no anger this time, and scarcely heeded the
strokes.  I looked, however, at my master’s face, and thought to myself,
you are beating me for being idle, as you suppose; poor man, what would
you do if you knew I had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost?

‘Days and weeks passed by.  I had once been cheerful, and fond of the
society of children of my own age; but I was now reserved and gloomy.  It
seemed to me that a gulf separated me from all my fellow-creatures.  I
used to look at my brothers and schoolfellows, and think how different I
was from them; they had not done what I had.  I seemed, in my own eyes, a
lone monstrous being, and yet, strange to say, I felt a kind of pride in
being so.  I was unhappy, but I frequently thought to myself, I have done
what no one else would dare to do; there was something grand in the idea;
I had yet to learn the horror of my condition.

‘Time passed on, and I began to think less of what I had done; I began
once more to take pleasure in my childish sports; I was active, and
excelled at football and the like all the lads of my age.  I likewise
began, what I had never done before, to take pleasure in the exercises of
the school.  I made great progress in Welsh and English grammar, and
learnt to construe Latin.  My master no longer chid or beat me, but one
day told my father that he had no doubt that one day I should be an
honour to Wales.

‘Shortly after this my father fell sick; the progress of the disorder was
rapid; feeling his end approaching, he called his children before him.
After tenderly embracing us, he said, “God bless you, my children, I am
going from you, but take comfort, I trust that we shall all meet again in
heaven.”

‘As he uttered these last words, horror took entire possession of me.
Meet my father in heaven,—how could I ever hope to meet him there?  I
looked wildly at my brethren and at my mother; they were all bathed in
tears, but how I envied them.  They might hope to meet my father in
heaven, but how different were they from me, they had never committed the
unpardonable sin.

‘In a few days my father died; he left his family in comfortable
circumstances, at least such as would be considered so in Wales, where
the wants of the people are few.  My elder brother carried on the farm
for the benefit of my mother and us all.  In course of time my brothers
were put out to various trades.  I still remained at school, but without
being a source of expense to my relations, as I was by this time able to
assist my master in the business of the school.

‘I was diligent both in self-improvement and in the instruction of
others; nevertheless, a horrible weight pressed upon my breast; I knew I
was a lost being; that for me there was no hope; that, though all others
might be saved, I must of necessity be lost; I had committed the
unpardonable sin, for which I was doomed to eternal punishment, in the
flaming gulf, as soon as life was over!—and how long could I hope to
live? perhaps fifty years; at the end of which I must go to my place; and
then I would count the months and the days, nay, even the hours, which
yet intervened between me and my doom.  Sometimes I would comfort myself
with the idea that a long time would elapse before my time would be out;
but then again I thought that, however long the term might be, it must be
out at last; and then I would fall into an agony, during which I would
almost wish that the term were out, and that I were in my place; the
horrors of which I thought could scarcely be worse than what I then
endured.

‘There was one thought about this time which caused me unutterable grief
and shame, perhaps more shame than grief.  It was that my father, who was
gone to heaven, and was there daily holding communion with his God, was
by this time aware of my crime.  I imagined him looking down from the
clouds upon his wretched son, with a countenance of inexpressible horror.
When this idea was upon me, I would often rush to some secret place to
hide myself; to some thicket, where I would cast myself on the ground,
and thrust my head into a thick bush, in order to escape from the
horror-struck glance of my father above in the clouds; and there I would
continue groaning till the agony had, in some degree, passed away.

‘The wretchedness of my state increasing daily, it at last became
apparent to the master of the school, who questioned me earnestly and
affectionately.  I, however, gave him no satisfactory answer, being
apprehensive that, if I unbosomed myself, I should become as much an
object of horror to him as I had long been to myself.  At length he
suspected that I was unsettled in my intellects; and, fearing probably
the ill effect of my presence upon his scholars, he advised me to go
home; which I was glad to do, as I felt myself every day becoming less
qualified for the duties of the office which I had undertaken.

‘So I returned home to my mother and my brother, who received me with the
greatest kindness and affection.  I now determined to devote myself to
husbandry, and assist my brother in the business of the farm.  I was
still, however, very much distressed.  One fine morning, however, as I
was at work in the field, and the birds were carolling around me, a ray
of hope began to break upon my poor dark soul.  I looked at the earth and
looked at the sky, and felt as I had not done for many a year; presently
a delicious feeling stole over me.  I was beginning to enjoy existence.
I shall never forget that hour.  I flung myself on the soil, and kissed
it; then, springing up with a sudden impulse, I rushed into the depths of
a neighbouring wood, and, falling upon my knees, did what I had not done
for a long, long time—prayed to God.

‘A change, an entire change, seemed to have come over me.  I was no
longer gloomy and despairing, but gay and happy.  My slumbers were light
and easy; not disturbed, as before, by frightful dreams.  I arose with
the lark, and like him uttered a cheerful song of praise to God,
frequently and earnestly, and was particularly cautious not to do
anything which I considered might cause His displeasure.

‘At church I was constant, and when there listened with deepest attention
to every word which proceeded from the mouth of the minister.  In a
little time it appeared to me that I had become a good, very good, young
man.  At times the recollection of the sin would return, and I would feel
a momentary chill; but the thought quickly vanished, and I again felt
happy and secure.

‘One Sunday morning, after I had said my prayers, I felt particularly
joyous.  I thought of the innocent and virtuous life I was leading; and
when the recollection of the sin intruded for a moment, I said, “I am
sure God will never utterly cast away so good a creature as myself.”  I
went to church, and was as usual attentive.  The subject of the sermon
was on the duty of searching the Scriptures; all I knew of them was from
the liturgy.  I now, however, determined to read them, and perfect the
good work which I had begun.  My father’s Bible was upon the shelf, and
on that evening I took it with me to my chamber.  I placed it on the
table, and sat down.  My heart was filled with pleasing anticipation.  I
opened the book at random, and began to read; the first passage on which
my eyes lighted was the following:—

‘“He who committeth the sin against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven,
either in this world or the next. ”’

Here Peter was seized with convulsive tremors.  Winifred sobbed
violently.  I got up, and went away.  Returning in about a quarter of an
hour, I found him more calm; he motioned me to sit down; and, after a
short pause, continued his narration.



CHAPTER SEVENTY-SIX


HASTY FAREWELL—LOFTY ROCK—WRESTLINGS OF JACOB—NO REST—WAYS OF
PROVIDENCE—TWO FEMALES—FOOT OF THE CROSS—ENEMY OF SOULS—PERPLEXED—LUCKY
HOUR—VALETUDINARIAN—METHODISTS—FERVENT IN YOUR PRAYER—YOU SAXONS—WEAK
CREATURES—VERY AGREEABLE—ALMOST HAPPY—KINDNESS AND SOLICITUDE

‘Where was I, young man?  Oh, I remember, at the fatal passage which
removed all hope.  I will not dwell on what I felt.  I closed my eyes,
and wished that I might be dreaming; but it was no dream, but a terrific
reality: I will not dwell on that period, I should only shock you.  I
could not bear my feelings; so, bidding my friends a hasty farewell, I
abandoned myself to horror and despair, and ran wild through Wales,
climbing mountains and wading streams.

‘Climbing mountains and wading streams, I ran wild about, I was burnt by
the sun, drenched by the rain, and had frequently at night no other
covering than the sky, or the humid roof of some cave; but nothing seemed
to affect my constitution; probably the fire which burned within me
counteracted what I suffered from without.  During the space of three
years I scarcely knew what befell me; my life was a dream—a wild,
horrible dream; more than once I believe I was in the hands of robbers,
and once in the hands of gypsies.  I liked the last description of people
least of all; I could not abide their yellow faces, or their ceaseless
clabber.  Escaping from these beings, whose countenances and godless
discourse brought to my mind the demons of the deep Unknown, I still ran
wild through Wales, I know not how long.  On one occasion, coming in some
degree to my recollection, I felt myself quite unable to bear the horrors
of my situation; looking round I found myself near the sea; instantly the
idea came into my head that I would cast myself into it, and thus
anticipate my final doom.  I hesitated a moment, but a voice within me
seemed to tell me that I could do no better; the sea was near, and I
could not swim, so I determined to fling myself into the sea.  As I was
running along at great speed, in the direction of a lofty rock, which
beetled over the waters, I suddenly felt myself seized by the coat.  I
strove to tear myself away, but in vain; looking round, I perceived a
venerable hale old man, who had hold of me.  “Let me go!” said I
fiercely.  “I will not let thee go,” said the old man, and now, instead
of with one, he grappled me with both hands.  “In whose name dost thou
detain me?” said I, scarcely knowing what I said.  “In the name of my
Master, who made thee and yonder sea; and has said to the sea, So far
shalt thou come, and no farther, and to thee, Thou shalt do no murder.”
“Has not a man a right to do what he pleases with his own?” said I.  “He
has,” said the old man, “but thy life is not thy own; thou art
accountable for it to thy God.  Nay, I will not let thee go,” he
continued, as I again struggled; “if thou struggle with me the whole day
I will not let thee go, as Charles Wesley says, in his ‘Wrestlings of
Jacob’; and see, it is of no use struggling, for I am, in the strength of
my Master, stronger than thou”; and indeed, all of a sudden I had become
very weak and exhausted; whereupon the old man, beholding my situation,
took me by the arm and led me gently to a neighbouring town, which stood
behind a hill, and which I had not before observed; presently he opened
the door of a respectable-looking house, which stood beside a large
building having the appearance of a chapel, and conducted me into a small
room, with a great many books in it.  Having caused me to sit down, he
stood looking at me for some time, occasionally heaving a sigh.  I was,
indeed, haggard and forlorn.  “Who art thou?” he said at last.  “A
miserable man,” I replied.  “What makes thee miserable?” said the old
man.  “A hideous crime,” I replied.  “I can find no rest; like Cain I
wander here and there.”  The old man turned pale.  “Hast thou taken
another’s life?” said he; “if so, I advise thee to surrender thyself to
the magistrate; thou canst do no better; thy doing so will be the best
proof of thy repentance; and though there be no hope for thee in this
world there may be much in the next.”  “No,” said I, “I have never taken
another’s life.”  “What then, another’s goods?  If so, restore them
sevenfold, if possible: or, if it be not in thy power, and thy conscience
accuse thee, surrender thyself to the magistrate, and make the only
satisfaction thou art able.”  “I have taken no one’s goods,” said I.  “Of
what art thou guilty, then?” said he.  “Art thou a drunkard? a
profligate?”  “Alas, no,” said I; “I am neither of these; would that I
were no worse.”

‘Thereupon the old man looked steadfastly at me for some time; then,
after appearing to reflect, he said, “Young man, I have a great desire to
know your name.”  “What matters it to you what is my name?” said I; “you
know nothing of me.”  “Perhaps you are mistaken,” said the old man,
looking kindly at me; “but at all events tell me your name.”  I hesitated
a moment, and then told him who I was, whereupon he exclaimed with much
emotion, “I thought so; how wonderful are the ways of Providence.  I have
heard of thee, young man, and know thy mother well.  Only a month ago,
when upon a journey, I experienced much kindness from her.  She was
speaking to me of her lost child, with tears; she told me that you were
one of the best of sons, but that some strange idea appeared to have
occupied your mind.  Despair not, my son.  If thou hast been afflicted, I
doubt not but that thy affliction will eventually turn out to thy
benefit; I doubt not but that thou wilt be preserved, as an example of
the great mercy of God.  I will now kneel down and pray for thee, my
son.”

‘He knelt down, and prayed long and fervently.  I remained standing for
some time; at length I knelt down likewise.  I scarcely knew what he was
saying, but when he concluded I said “Amen.”

‘And when we had risen from our knees, the old man left me for a short
time, and on his return led me into another room, where were two females;
one was an elderly person, the wife of the old man,—the other was a young
woman of very prepossessing appearance (hang not down thy head,
Winifred), who I soon found was a distant relation of the old man,—both
received me with great kindness, the old man having doubtless previously
told them who I was.

‘I stayed several days in the good man’s house.  I had still the greater
portion of a small sum which I happened to have about me when I departed
on my dolorous wandering, and with this I purchased clothes, and altered
my appearance considerably.  On the evening of the second day my friend
said, “I am going to preach, perhaps you will come and hear me.”  I
consented, and we all went, not to a church, but to the large building
next the house; for the old man, though a clergyman, was not of the
established persuasion, and there the old man mounted a pulpit and began
to preach.  “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” etc.,
etc., was his text.  His sermon was long, but I still bear the greater
portion of it in my mind.

‘The substance of it was that Jesus was at all times ready to take upon
Himself the burden of our sins, provided we came to Him with a humble and
contrite spirit, and begged His help.  This doctrine was new to me; I had
often been at church, but had never heard it preached before, at least so
distinctly.  When he said that all men might be saved, I shook, for I
expected he would add, all except those who had committed the mysterious
sin; but no, all men were to be saved who with a humble and contrite
spirit would come to Jesus, cast themselves at the foot of His cross, and
accept pardon through the merits of His blood-shedding alone.
“Therefore, my friends,” said he, in conclusion, “despair not—however
guilty you may be, despair not—however desperate your conditions may
seem,” said he, fixing his eyes upon me, “despair not.  There is nothing
more foolish and more wicked than despair; overweening confidence is not
more foolish than despair; both are the favourite weapons of the enemy of
souls.”

‘This discourse gave rise in my mind to no slight perplexity.  I had read
in the Scriptures that he who committeth a certain sin shall never be
forgiven, and that there is no hope for him either in this world or the
next.  And here was a man, a good man certainly, and one who, of
necessity, was thoroughly acquainted with the Scriptures, who told me
that any one might be forgiven, however wicked, who would only trust in
Christ and in the merits of His blood-shedding.  Did I believe in Christ?
Ay, truly.  Was I willing to be saved by Christ?  Ay, truly.  Did I trust
in Christ?  I trusted that Christ would save every one but myself.  And
why not myself? simply because the Scriptures had told me that he who has
committed the sin against the Holy Ghost can never be saved, and I had
committed the sin against the Holy Ghost,—perhaps the only one who ever
had committed it.  How could I hope?  The Scriptures could not lie, and
yet here was this good old man, profoundly versed in the Scriptures, who
bade me hope; would he lie?  No.  But did the old man know my case?  Ah,
no, he did not know my case! but yet he had bid me hope, whatever I had
done, provided I would go to Jesus.  But how could I think of going to
Jesus, when the Scriptures told me plainly that all would be useless?  I
was perplexed, and yet a ray of hope began to dawn in my soul.  I thought
of consulting the good man, but I was afraid he would drive away the
small glimmer.  I was afraid he would say, “Oh yes, every one is to be
saved, except a wretch like you; I was not aware before that there was
anything so horrible,—begone!”  Once or twice the old man questioned me
on the subject of my misery, but I evaded him; once, indeed, when he
looked particularly benevolent, I think I should have unbosomed myself to
him, but we were interrupted.  He never pressed me much; perhaps he was
delicate in probing my mind, as we were then of different persuasions.
Hence he advised me to seek the advice of some powerful minister in my
own church; there were many such in it, he said.

‘I stayed several days in the family, during which time I more than once
heard my venerable friend preach; each time he preached, he exhorted his
hearers not to despair.  The whole family were kind to me; his wife
frequently discoursed with me, and also the young person to whom I have
already alluded.  It appeared to me that the latter took a peculiar
interest in my fate.

‘At last my friend said to me, “It is now time thou shouldest return to
thy mother and thy brother.”  So I arose, and departed to my mother and
my brother; and at my departure my old friend gave me his blessing, and
his wife and the young person shed tears, the last especially.  And when
my mother saw me, she shed tears, and fell on my neck and kissed me, and
my brother took me by the hand and bade me welcome; and when our first
emotions were subsided, my mother said, “I trust thou are come in a lucky
hour.  A few weeks ago my cousin (whose favourite thou always wast) died
and left thee his heir—left thee the goodly farm in which he lived.  I
trust, my son, that thou wilt now settle, and be a comfort to me in my
old days.”  And I answered, “I will, if so please the Lord”; and I said
to myself, “God grant that this bequest be a token of the Lord’s favour.”

‘And in a few days I departed to take possession of my farm; it was about
twenty miles from my mother’s house, in a beautiful but rather wild
district; I arrived at the fall of the leaf.  All day long I busied
myself with my farm, and thus kept my mind employed.  At night, however,
I felt rather solitary, and I frequently wished for a companion.  Each
night and morning I prayed fervently unto the Lord; for His hand had been
very heavy upon me, and I feared Him.

‘There was one thing connected with my new abode which gave me
considerable uneasiness—the want of spiritual instruction.  There was a
church, indeed, close at hand, in which service was occasionally
performed, but in so hurried and heartless a manner that I derived little
benefit from it.  The clergyman to whom the benefice belonged was a
valetudinarian, who passed his time in London, or at some watering-place,
entrusting the care of his flock to the curate of a distant parish, who
gave himself very little trouble about the matter.  Now I wanted every
Sunday to hear from the pulpit words of consolation and encouragement,
similar to those which I had heard uttered from the pulpit by my good and
venerable friend, but I was debarred from this privilege.  At length, one
day being in conversation with one of my labourers, a staid and serious
man, I spoke to him of the matter which lay heavy upon my mind;
whereupon, looking me wistfully in the face, he said, “Master, the want
of religious instruction in my church was what drove me to the
Methodists.”  “The Methodists,” said I, “are there any in these parts?”
“There is a chapel,” said he, “only half a mile distant, at which there
are two services every Sunday, and other two during the week.”  Now it
happened that my venerable friend was of the Methodist persuasion, and
when I heard the poor man talk in this manner, I said to him, “May I go
with you next Sunday?”  “Why not?” said he; so I went with the labourer
on the ensuing Sabbath to the meeting of the Methodists.

‘I liked the preaching which I heard at the chapel very well, though it
was not quite so comfortable as that of my old friend, the preacher being
in some respects a different kind of man.  It, however, did me good, and
I went again, and continued to do so, though I did not become a regular
member of the body at that time.

‘I had now the benefit of religious instruction, and also to a certain
extent of religious fellowship, for the preacher and various members of
his flock frequently came to see me.  They were honest plain men, not
exactly of the description which I wished for, but still good sort of
people, and I was glad to see them.  Once on a time, when some of them
were with me, one of them inquired whether I was fervent in prayer.
“Very fervent,” said I.  “And do you read the Scriptures often?” said he.
“No,” said I.  “Why not?” said he.  “Because I am afraid to see there my
own condemnation.”  They looked at each other, and said nothing at the
time.  On leaving me, however, they all advised me to read the Scriptures
with fervency and prayer.

‘As I had told these honest people, I shrank from searching the
Scriptures; the remembrance of the fatal passage was still too vivid in
my mind to permit me.  I did not wish to see my condemnation repeated,
but I was very fervent in prayer, and almost hoped that God would yet
forgive me by virtue of the blood-shedding of the Lamb.  Time passed on,
my affairs prospered, and I enjoyed a certain portion of tranquillity.
Occasionally, when I had nothing else to do, I renewed my studies.  Many
is the book I read, especially in my native language, for I was always
fond of my native language, and proud of being a Welshman.  Amongst the
books I read were the odes of the great Ab Gwilym, whom thou, friend,
hast never heard of; no, nor any of thy countrymen, for you are an
ignorant race, you Saxons, at least with respect to all that relates to
Wales and Welshmen.  I likewise read the book of Master Ellis Wyn.  The
latter work possessed a singular fascination for me, on account of its
wonderful delineations of the torments of the nether world.

‘But man does not love to be alone; indeed, the Scripture says that it is
not good for man to be alone.  I occupied my body with the pursuits of
husbandry, and I improved my mind with the perusal of good and wise
books; but, as I have already said, I frequently sighed for a companion
with whom I could exchange ideas, and who could take an interest in my
pursuits; the want of such a one I more particularly felt in the long
winter evenings.  It was then that the image of the young person whom I
had seen in the house of the preacher frequently rose up distinctly
before my mind’s eye, decked with quiet graces—hang not down your head,
Winifred—and I thought that of all the women in the world I should wish
her to be my partner, and then I considered whether it would be possible
to obtain her.  I am ready to acknowledge, friend, that it was both
selfish and wicked in me to wish to fetter any human being to a lost
creature like myself, conscious of having committed a crime for which the
Scriptures told me there is no pardon.  I had, indeed, a long struggle as
to whether I should make the attempt or not—selfishness however
prevailed.  I will not detain your attention with relating all that
occurred at this period—suffice it to say that I made my suit and was
successful; it is true that the old man, who was her guardian, hesitated,
and asked several questions respecting my state of mind.  I am afraid
that I partly deceived him, perhaps he partly deceived himself; he was
pleased that I had adopted his profession—we are all weak creatures.
With respect to the young person, she did not ask many questions; and I
soon found that I had won her heart.  To be brief, I married her; and
here she is, the truest wife that ever man had, and the kindest.  Kind I
may well call her, seeing that she shrinks not from me, who so cruelly
deceived her, in not telling her at first what I was.  I married her,
friend; and brought her home to my little possession, where we passed our
time very agreeably.  Our affairs prospered, our garners were full, and
there was coin in our purse.  I worked in the field; Winifred busied
herself with the dairy.  At night I frequently read books to her, books
of my own country, friend; I likewise read to her songs of my own, holy
songs and carols which she admired, and which yourself would perhaps
admire, could you understand them; but I repeat, you Saxons are an
ignorant people with respect to us, and a perverse, inasmuch as you
despise Welsh without understanding it.  Every night I prayed fervently,
and my wife admired my gift of prayer.

‘One night, after I had been reading to my wife a portion of Ellis Wyn,
my wife said, “This is a wonderful book, and containing much true and
pleasant doctrine; but how is it that you, who are so fond of good books,
and good things in general, never read the Bible?  You read me the book
of Master Ellis Wyn, you read me sweet songs of your own composition, you
edify me with your gift of prayer, but yet you never read the Bible.”
And when I heard her mention the Bible I shook, for I thought of my own
condemnation.  However, I dearly loved my wife, and as she pressed me, I
commenced on that very night reading the Bible.  All went on smoothly for
a long time; for months and months I did not find the fatal passage, so
that I almost thought that I had imagined it.  My affairs prospered much
the while, so that I was almost happy,—taking pleasure in everything
around me,—in my wife, in my farm, my books and compositions, and the
Welsh language; till one night, as I was reading the Bible, feeling
particularly comfortable, a thought having just come into my head that I
would print some of my compositions, and purchase a particular field of a
neighbour—O God—God!  I came to the fatal passage.

‘Friend, friend, what shall I say?  I rushed out.  My wife followed me,
asking me what was the matter.  I could only answer with groans—for three
days and three nights I did little else than groan.  Oh the kindness and
solicitude of my wife!  “What is the matter, husband, dear husband?” she
was continually saying.  I became at last more calm.  My wife still
persisted in asking me the cause of my late paroxysm.  It is hard to keep
a secret from a wife, especially such a wife as mine, so I told my wife
the tale, as we sat one night—it was a mid-winter night—over the dying
brands of our hearth, after the family had retired to rest, her hand
locked in mine, even as it is now.

‘I thought she would have shrunk from me with horror; but she did not;
her hand, it is true, trembled once or twice; but that was all.  At last
she gave mine a gentle pressure; and, looking up in my face, she
said—what do you think my wife said, young man?’

‘It is impossible for me to guess,’ said I.

‘“Let us go to rest, my love; your fears are all groundless.”’



CHAPTER SEVENTY-SEVEN


GETTING LATE—SEVEN YEARS OLD—CHASTENING—GO FORTH—LONDON—SAME EYES—COMMON
OCCURRENCE

‘And so I still say,’ said Winifred, sobbing.  ‘Let us retire to rest,
dear husband; your fears are groundless.  I had hoped long since that
your affliction would have passed away, and I still hope that it
eventually will; so take heart, Peter, and let us retire to rest, for it
is getting late.’

‘Rest!’ said Peter; ‘there is no rest for the wicked!’

‘We are all wicked,’ said Winifred; ‘but you are afraid of a shadow.  How
often have I told you that the sin of your heart is not the sin against
the Holy Ghost: the sin of your heart is its natural pride, of which you
are scarcely aware, to keep down which God in His mercy permitted you to
be terrified with the idea of having committed a sin which you never
committed.’

‘Then you will still maintain,’ said Peter, ‘that I never committed the
sin against the Holy Spirit?’

‘I will,’ said Winifred; ‘you never committed it.  How should a child
seven years old commit a sin like that?’

‘Have I not read my own condemnation?’ said Peter.  ‘Did not the first
words which I read in the Holy Scripture condemn me?  “He who committeth
the sin against the Holy Ghost shall never enter into the kingdom of
God.”’

‘You never committed it,’ said Winifred.

‘But the words! the words! the words!’ said Peter.

‘The words are true words,’ said Winifred, sobbing; ‘but they were not
meant for you, but for those who have broken their profession, who,
having embraced the cross, have receded from their Master.’

‘And what sayst thou to the effect which the words produced upon me?’
said Peter.  ‘Did they not cause me to run wild through Wales for years,
like Merddin Wyllt of yore; thinkest thou that I opened the book at that
particular passage by chance?’

‘No,’ said Winifred, ‘not by chance; it was the hand of God directed you,
doubtless for some wise purpose.  You had become satisfied with yourself.
The Lord wished to rouse thee from thy state of carnal security, and
therefore directed your eyes to that fearful passage.’

‘Does the Lord then carry out His designs by means of guile?’ said Peter
with a groan.  ‘Is not the Lord true?  Would the Lord impress upon me
that I had committed a sin of which I am guiltless?  Hush, Winifred!
hush! thou knowest that I have committed the sin.’

‘Thou hast not committed it,’ said Winifred, sobbing yet more violently.
‘Were they my last words, I would persist that thou hast not committed
it, though, perhaps, thou wouldst, but for this chastening; it was not to
convince thee that thou hast committed the sin, but rather to prevent
thee from committing it, that the Lord brought that passage before thy
eyes.  He is not to blame, if thou art wilfully blind to the truth and
wisdom of His ways.’

‘I see thou wouldst comfort me,’ said Peter, ‘as thou hast often before
attempted to do.  I would fain ask the young man his opinion.’

‘I have not yet heard the whole of your history,’ said I.

‘My story is nearly told,’ said Peter; ‘a few words will complete it.  My
wife endeavoured to console and reassure me, using the arguments which
you have just heard her use, and many others, but in vain.  Peace nor
comfort came to my breast.  I was rapidly falling into the depths of
despair; when one day Winifred said to me, “I see thou wilt be lost, if
we remain here.  One resource only remains.  Thou must go forth, my
husband, into the wide world, and to comfort thee I will go with thee.”
“And what can I do in the wide world?” said I despondingly.  “Much,”
replied Winifred, “if you will but exert yourself; much good canst thou
do with the blessing of God.”  Many things of the same kind she said to
me; and at last I arose from the earth to which God had smitten me, and
disposed of my property in the best way I could, and went into the world.
We did all the good we were able, visiting the sick, ministering to the
sick, and praying with the sick.  At last I became celebrated as the
possessor of a great gift of prayer.  And people urged me to preach, and
Winifred urged me too, and at last I consented, and I preached.
I—I—outcast Peter, became the preacher Peter Williams.  I, the lost one,
attempted to show others the right road.  And in this way I have gone on
for thirteen years, preaching and teaching, visiting the sick, and
ministering to them, with Winifred by my side heartening me on.
Occasionally I am visited with fits of indescribable agony, generally on
the night before the Sabbath; for I then ask myself, how dare I, the
outcast, attempt to preach the word of God?  Young man, my tale is told;
you seem in thought!’

‘I am thinking of London Bridge,’ said I.

‘Of London Bridge!’ said Peter and his wife.

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘of London Bridge.  I am indebted for much wisdom to
London Bridge; it was there that I completed my studies.  But to the
point.  I was once reading on London Bridge a book which an ancient
gentlewoman, who kept the bridge, was in the habit of lending me; and
there I found written, “Each one carries in his breast the recollection
of some sin which presses heavy upon him.  Oh, if men could but look into
each other’s hearts, what blackness would they find there!”’

‘That’s true,’ said Peter.  ‘What is the name of the book?’

‘_The Life of Blessed Mary Flanders_.’

‘Some popish saint, I suppose,’ said Peter.

‘As much of a saint, I daresay,’ said I, ‘as most popish ones; but you
interrupted me.  One part of your narrative brought the passage which I
have quoted into my mind.  You said that after you had committed this
same sin of yours you were in the habit, at school, of looking upon your
school-fellows with a kind of gloomy superiority, considering yourself a
lone monstrous being who had committed a sin far above the daring of any
of them.  Are you sure that many others of your schoolfellows were not
looking upon you and the others with much the same eyes with which you
were looking upon them?’

‘How!’ said Peter, ‘dost thou think that they had divined my secret?’

‘Not they,’ said I, ‘they were, I daresay, thinking too much of
themselves and of their own concerns to have divined any secrets of
yours.  All I mean to say is, they had probably secrets of their own, and
who knows that the secret sin of more than one of them was not the very
sin which caused you so much misery?’

‘Dost thou then imagine,’ said Peter, ‘the sin against the Holy Ghost to
be so common an occurrence?’

‘As you have described it,’ said I, ‘of very common occurrence,
especially amongst children, who are, indeed, the only beings likely to
commit it.’

‘Truly,’ said Winifred, ‘the young man talks wisely.’

Peter was silent for some moments, and appeared to be reflecting; at
last, suddenly raising his head, he looked me full in the face, and,
grasping my hand with vehemence, he said, ‘Tell me, young man, only one
thing, hast thou, too, committed the sin against the Holy Ghost?’

‘I am neither Papist nor Methodist,’ said I, ‘but of the Church, and,
being so, confess myself to no one, but keep my own counsel; I will tell
thee, however, had I committed, at the same age, twenty such sins as that
which you committed, I should feel no uneasiness at these years—but I am
sleepy, and must go to rest.’

‘God bless thee, young man,’ said Winifred.



CHAPTER SEVENTY-EIGHT


LOW AND CALM—MUCH BETTER—THE BLESSED EFFECT

Before I sank to rest I heard Winifred and her husband conversing in the
place where I had left them; both their voices were low and calm.  I soon
fell asleep, and slumbered for some time.  On my awakening I again heard
them conversing, but they were now in their cart; still the voices of
both were calm.  I heard no passionate bursts of wild despair on the part
of the man.  Methought I occasionally heard the word Pechod proceeding
from the lips of each, but with no particular emphasis.  I supposed they
were talking of the innate sin of both their hearts.

‘I wish that man were happy,’ said I to myself, ‘were it only for his
wife’s sake, and yet he deserves to be happy for his own.’

The next day Peter was very cheerful, more cheerful than I had ever seen
him.  At breakfast his conversation was animated, and he smiled
repeatedly.  I looked at him with the greatest interest, and the eyes of
his wife were almost constantly fixed upon him.  A shade of gloom would
occasionally come over his countenance, but it almost instantly
disappeared; perhaps it proceeded more from habit than anything else.
After breakfast he took his Welsh Bible and sat down beneath a tree.  His
eyes were soon fixed intently on the volume; now and then he would call
his wife, show her some passage, and appeared to consult with her.  The
day passed quickly and comfortably.

‘Your husband seems much better,’ said I, at evening fall, to Winifred,
as we chanced to be alone.

‘He does,’ said Winifred; ‘and that on the day of the week when he was
wont to appear most melancholy, for to-morrow is the Sabbath.  He now no
longer looks forward to the Sabbath with dread, but appears to reckon on
it.  What a happy change! and to think that this change should have been
produced by a few words, seemingly careless ones, proceeding from the
mouth of one who is almost a stranger to him.  Truly, it is wonderful.’

‘To whom do you allude,’ said I; ‘and to what words?’

‘To yourself, and to the words which came from your lips last night,
after you had heard my poor husband’s history.  Those strange words,
drawn out with so much seeming indifference, have produced in my husband
the blessed effect which you have observed.  They have altered the
current of his ideas.  He no longer thinks himself the only being in the
world doomed to destruction,—the only being capable of committing the
never-to-be-forgotten sin.  Your supposition that that which harrowed his
soul is of frequent occurrence amongst children has tranquillised him;
the mist which hung over his mind has cleared away, and he begins to see
the groundlessness of his apprehensions.  The Lord has permitted him to
be chastened for a season, but his lamp will only burn the brighter for
what he has undergone.’

Sunday came, fine and glorious as the last.  Again my friends and myself
breakfasted together—again the good family of the house on the hill
above, headed by the respectable master, descended to the meadow.  Peter
and his wife were ready to receive them.  Again Peter placed himself at
the side of the honest farmer, and Winifred by the side of her friend.
‘Wilt thou not come?’ said Peter, looking towards me with a face in which
there was much emotion.  ‘Wilt thou not come?’ said Winifred, with a face
beaming with kindness.  But I made no answer, and presently the party
moved away, in the same manner in which it had moved on the preceding
Sabbath, and I was again left alone.

The hours of the Sabbath passed slowly away.  I sat gazing at the sky,
the trees, and the water.  At last I strolled up to the house and sat
down in the porch.  It was empty; there was no modest maiden there, as on
the preceding Sabbath.  The damsel of the book had accompanied the rest.
I had seen her in the procession, and the house appeared quite deserted.
The owners had probably left it to my custody, so I sat down in the
porch, quite alone.  The hours of the Sabbath passed heavily away.

At last evening came, and with it the party of the morning.  I was now at
my place beneath the oak.  I went forward to meet them.  Peter and his
wife received me with a calm and quiet greeting, and passed forward.  The
rest of the party had broken into groups.  There was a kind of excitement
amongst them, and much eager whispering.  I went to one of the groups;
the young girl of whom I have spoken more than once was speaking: ‘Such a
sermon,’ said she, ‘it has never been our lot to hear; Peter never before
spoke as he has done this day—he was always a powerful preacher, but oh,
the unction of the discourse of this morning, and yet more of that of the
afternoon, which was the continuation of it!’  ‘What was the subject?’
said I, interrupting her.  ‘Ah! you should have been there, young man, to
have heard it; it would have made a lasting impression upon you.  I was
bathed in tears all the time; those who heard it will never forget the
preaching of the good Peter Williams on the Power, Providence, and
Goodness of God.’



CHAPTER SEVENTY-NINE


DEEP INTEREST—GOODLY COUNTRY—TWO MANSIONS—WELSHMAN’S CANDLE—BEAUTIFUL
UNIVERSE—GODLY DISCOURSE—FINE CHURCH—POINTS OF DOCTRINE—STRANGE
ADVENTURES—THE PONTIFF—EVIL SPIRIT

On the morrow I said to my friends, ‘I am about to depart; farewell!’
‘Depart!’ said Peter and his wife, simultaneously; ‘whither wouldst thou
go?’  ‘I can’t stay here all my days,’ I replied.  ‘Of course not,’ said
Peter; ‘but we had no idea of losing thee so soon: we had almost hoped
that thou wouldst join us, become one of us.  We are under infinite
obligations to thee.’  ‘You mean I am under infinite obligations to you,’
said I.  ‘Did you not save my life?’  ‘Perhaps so, under God,’ said
Peter; ‘and what hast thou not done for me?  Art thou aware that, under
God, thou hast preserved my soul from despair?  But, independent of that,
we like thy company, and feel a deep interest in thee, and would fain
teach thee the way that is right.  Hearken, to-morrow we go into Wales;
go with us.’  ‘I have no wish to go into Wales,’ said I.  ‘Why not?’ said
Peter, with animation.  ‘Wales is a goodly country; as the Scripture
says—a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, that spring out
of valleys and hills, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose
hills thou mayest dig _lead_.’

‘I daresay it is a very fine country,’ said I, ‘but I have no wish to go
there just now; my destiny seems to point in another direction, to say
nothing of my trade.’  ‘Thou dost right to say nothing of thy trade,’
said Peter, smiling, ‘for thou seemest to care nothing about it; which
has led Winifred and myself to suspect that thou art not altogether what
thou seemest; but, setting that aside, we should be most happy if thou
wouldst go with us into Wales.’  ‘I cannot promise to go with you into
Wales,’ said I; ‘but, as you depart to-morrow, I will stay with you
through the day, and on the morrow accompany you part of the way.’  ‘Do,’
said Peter: ‘I have many people to see to-day, and so has Winifred; but
we will both endeavour to have some serious discourse with thee, which,
perhaps, will turn to thy profit in the end.’

In the course of the day the good Peter came to me, as I was seated
beneath the oak, and, placing himself by me, commenced addressing me in
the following manner:—

‘I have no doubt, my young friend, that you are willing to admit that the
most important thing which a human being possesses is his soul; it is of
infinitely more importance than the body, which is a frail substance, and
cannot last for many years; but not so the soul, which, by its nature, is
imperishable.  To one of two mansions the soul is destined to depart,
after its separation from the body, to heaven or hell; to the halls of
eternal bliss, where God and His holy angels dwell, or to the place of
endless misery, inhabited by Satan and his grisly companions.  My friend,
if the joys of heaven are great, unutterably great, so are the torments
of hell unutterably so.  I wish not to speak of them, I wish not to
terrify your imagination with the torments of hell: indeed, I like not to
think of them; but it is necessary to speak of them sometimes, and to
think of them sometimes, lest you should sink into a state of carnal
security.  Authors, friend, and learned men, are not altogether agreed as
to the particulars of hell.  They all agree, however, in considering it a
place of exceeding horror.  Master Ellis Wyn, who by the bye was a
churchman, calls it, amongst other things, a place of strong sighs, and
of flaming sparks.  Master Rees Pritchard, who was not only a churchman,
but Vicar of Llandovery, and flourished about two hundred years ago—I
wish many like him flourished now—speaking of hell, in his collection of
sweet hymns called the “Welshman’s Candle,” observes,

‘“The pool is continually blazing; it is very deep, without any known
bottom, and the walls are so high, that there is neither hope nor
possibility of escaping over them.”

‘But, as I told you just now, I have no great pleasure in talking of
hell.  No, friend, no; I would sooner talk of the other place, and of the
goodness and hospitality of God amongst His saints above.’

And then the excellent man began to dilate upon the joys of heaven, and
the goodness and hospitality of God in the mansions above; explaining to
me, in the clearest way, how I might get there.

And when he had finished what he had to say, he left me, whereupon
Winifred drew nigh, and sitting down by me began to address me.  ‘I do
not think,’ said she, ‘from what I have observed of thee, that thou
wouldst wish to be ungrateful, and yet, is not thy whole life a series of
ingratitude, and to whom?—to thy Maker.  Has He not endowed thee with a
goodly and healthy form; and senses which enable thee to enjoy the
delights of His beautiful universe—the work of His hands?  Canst thou not
enjoy, even to rapture, the brightness of the sun, the perfume of the
meads, and the song of the dear birds which inhabit among the trees?
Yes, thou canst; for I have seen thee, and observed thee doing so.  Yet,
during the whole time that I have known thee, I have not heard proceed
from thy lips one single word of praise or thanksgiving to . . .’

And in this manner the admirable woman proceeded for a considerable time,
and to all her discourse I listened with attention; and when she had
concluded, I took her hand and said, ‘I thank you,’ and that was all.

On the next day everything was ready for our departure.  The good family
of the house came to bid us farewell.  There were shaking of hands, and
kisses, as on the night of our arrival.

And as I stood somewhat apart, the young girl of whom I have spoken so
often came up to me, and holding out her hand, said, ‘Farewell, young
man, wherever thou goest.’  Then, after looking around her, she said, ‘It
was all true you told me.  Yesterday I received a letter from him thou
wottest of; he is coming soon.  God bless you, young man; who would have
thought thou knewest so much!’

So, after we had taken our farewell of the good family, we departed,
proceeding in the direction of Wales.  Peter was very cheerful, and
enlivened the way with godly discourse and spiritual hymns, some of which
were in the Welsh language.  At length I said, ‘It is a pity that you did
not continue in the Church; you have a turn for Psalmody, and I have
heard of a man becoming a bishop by means of a less qualification.’

‘Very probably,’ said Peter; ‘more the pity.  But I have told you the
reason of my forsaking it.  Frequently, when I went to the church door, I
found it barred, and the priest absent; what was I to do?  My heart was
bursting for want of some religious help and comfort; what could I do? as
good Master Rees Pritchard observes in his “Candle for Welshmen.”

‘“It is a doleful thing to see little children burning on the hot coals
for want of help; but yet more doleful to see a flock of souls falling
into the burning lake for want of a priest.”’

‘The Church of England is a fine church,’ said I; ‘I would not advise any
one to speak ill of the Church of England before me.’

‘I have nothing to say against the church,’ said Peter; ‘all I wish is
that it would fling itself a little more open, and that its priests would
a little more bestir themselves; in a word, that it would shoulder the
cross and become a missionary church.’

‘It is too proud for that,’ said Winifred.

‘You are much more of a Methodist,’ said I, ‘than your husband.  But tell
me,’ said I, addressing myself to Peter, ‘do you not differ from the
church in some points of doctrine?  I, of course, as a true member of the
church, am quite ignorant of the peculiar opinions of wandering
sectaries.’

‘Oh the pride of that church!’ said Winifred, half to herself; ‘wandering
sectaries!’

‘We differ in no points of doctrine,’ said Peter; ‘we believe all the
church believes, though we are not so fond of vain and superfluous
ceremonies, snow-white neckcloths and surplices, as the church is.  We
likewise think that there is no harm in a sermon by the road-side, or in
holding free discourse with a beggar beneath a hedge, or a tinker,’ he
added, smiling; ‘it was those superfluous ceremonies, those surplices and
white neckcloths, and, above all, the necessity of strictly regulating
his words and conversation, which drove John Wesley out of the church,
and sent him wandering up and down as you see me, poor Welsh Peter, do.’

Nothing farther passed for some time; we were now drawing near the hills:
at last I said, ‘You must have met with a great many strange adventures
since you took up this course of life?’

‘Many,’ said Peter, ‘it has been my lot to meet with; but none more
strange than one which occurred to me only a few weeks ago.  You were
asking me, not long since, whether I believed in devils?  Ay, truly,
young man; and I believe that the abyss and the yet deeper unknown do not
contain them all; some walk about upon the green earth.  So it happened,
some weeks ago, that I was exercising my ministry about forty miles from
here.  I was alone, Winifred being slightly indisposed, staying for a few
days at the house of an acquaintance; I had finished afternoon’s
worship—the people had dispersed, and I was sitting solitary by my cart
under some green trees in a quiet retired place; suddenly a voice said to
me, “Good-evening, Pastor”; I looked up, and before me stood a man, at
least the appearance of a man, dressed in a black suit of rather a
singular fashion.  He was about my own age, or somewhat older.  As I
looked upon him, it appeared to me that I had seen him twice before
whilst preaching.  I replied to his salutation, and perceiving that he
looked somewhat fatigued, I took out a stool from the cart, and asked him
to sit down.  We began to discourse; I at first supposed that he might be
one of ourselves, some wandering minister; but I was soon undeceived.
Neither his language nor his ideas were those of any one of our body.  He
spoke on all kinds of matters with much fluency; till at last he
mentioned my preaching, complimenting me on my powers.  I replied, as
well I might, that I could claim no merit of my own, and that if I spoke
with any effect, it was only by the grace of God.  As I uttered these
last words, a horrible kind of sneer came over his countenance, which
made me shudder, for there was something diabolical in it.  I said little
more, but listened attentively to his discourse.  At last he said that I
was engaged in a paltry cause, quite unworthy of one of my powers.  “How
can that be,” said I, “even if I possessed all the powers in the world,
seeing that I am engaged in the cause of our Lord Jesus?”

‘The same kind of sneer again came on his countenance, but he almost
instantly observed, that if I chose to forsake this same miserable cause,
from which nothing but contempt and privation was to be expected, he
would enlist me into another, from which I might expect both profit and
renown.  An idea now came into my head, and I told him firmly that if he
wished me to forsake my present profession and become a member of the
Church of England, I must absolutely decline; that I had no ill-will
against that church, but I thought I could do most good in my present
position, which I would not forsake to be Archbishop of Canterbury.
Thereupon he burst into a strange laughter, and went away, repeating to
himself, “Church of England!  Archbishop of Canterbury!”  A few days
after, when I was once more in a solitary place, he again appeared before
me, and asked me whether I had thought over his words, and whether I was
willing to enlist under the banners of his master, adding that he was
eager to secure me, as he conceived that I might be highly useful to the
cause.  I then asked him who his master was; he hesitated for a moment,
and then answered, “The Roman Pontiff.”  “If it be he,” said I, “I can
have nothing to do with him; I will serve no one who is an enemy of
Christ.”  Thereupon he drew near to me, and told me not to talk so much
like a simpleton; that as for Christ, it was probable that no such person
ever existed, but that if He ever did, He was the greatest impostor the
world ever saw.  How long he continued in this way I know not, for I now
considered that an evil spirit was before me, and shrank within myself,
shivering in every limb; when I recovered myself and looked about me, he
was gone.  Two days after, he again stood before me, in the same place,
and about the same hour, renewing his propositions, and speaking more
horribly than before.  I made him no answer; whereupon he continued; but
suddenly hearing a noise behind him, he looked round and beheld Winifred,
who had returned to me on the morning of that day.  “Who are you?” said
he fiercely.  “This man’s wife,” said she, calmly fixing her eyes upon
him.  “Begone from him, unhappy one, thou temptest him in vain.”  He made
no answer, but stood as if transfixed: at length, recovering himself, he
departed, muttering, “Wife! wife!  If the fool has a wife, he will never
do for us!”’



CHAPTER EIGHTY


THE BORDER—THANK YOU BOTH—PIPE AND FIDDLE

We were now drawing very near the hills, and Peter said, ‘If you are to
go into Wales, you must presently decide, for we are close upon the
border.’

‘Which is the border?’ said I.

‘Yon small brook,’ said Peter, ‘into which the man on horseback who is
coming towards us is now entering.’

‘I see it,’ said I, ‘and the man; he stops in the middle of it, as if to
water his steed.’

We proceeded till we had nearly reached the brook.  ‘Well,’ said Peter,
‘will you go into Wales?’

‘What should I do in Wales?’ I demanded.

‘Do!’ said Peter, smiling, ‘learn Welsh.’

I stopped my little pony.  ‘Then I need not go into Wales; I already know
Welsh.’

‘Know Welsh!’ said Peter, staring at me.

‘Know Welsh!’ said Winifred, stopping her cart.

‘How and when did you learn it?’ said Peter.

‘From books, in my boyhood.’

‘Read Welsh!’ said Peter; ‘is it possible?’

‘Read Welsh!’ said Winifred; ‘is it possible?’

‘Well, I hope you will come with us,’ said Peter.

‘Come with us, young man,’ said Winifred; ‘let me, on the other side of
the brook, welcome you into Wales.’

‘Thank you both,’ said I, ‘but I will not come.’

‘Wherefore?’ exclaimed both simultaneously.

‘Because it is neither fit nor proper that I cross into Wales at this
time, and in this manner.  When I go into Wales, I should wish to go in a
new suit of superfine black, with hat and beaver, mounted on a powerful
steed, black and glossy, like that which bore Greduv to the fight of
Catraeth.  I should wish, moreover, to see the Welshmen assembled on the
border ready to welcome me with pipe and fiddle, and much whooping and
shouting, and to attend me to Wrexham, or even as far as Machynllaith,
where I should wish to be invited to a dinner at which all the bards
should be present, and to be seated at the right hand of the president,
who, when the cloth was removed, should arise, and, amidst cries of
silence, exclaim—“Brethren and Welshmen, allow me to propose the health
of my most respectable friend the translator of the odes of the great Ab
Gwilym, the pride and glory of Wales.”’

‘How!’ said Peter, ‘hast thou translated the works of the mighty Dafydd?’

‘With notes critical, historical, and explanatory.’

‘Come with us, friend,’ said Peter.  ‘I cannot promise such a dinner as
thou wishest, but neither pipe nor fiddle shall be wanting.’

‘Come with us, young man,’ said Winifred, ‘even as thou art, and the
daughters of Wales shall bid thee welcome.’

‘I will not go with you,’ said I.  ‘Dost thou see that man in the ford?’

‘Who is staring at us so, and whose horse has not yet done drinking?  Of
course I see him.’

‘I shall turn back with him.  God bless you.’

‘Go back with him not,’ said Peter; ‘he is one of those whom I like not,
one of the clibberty-clabber, as Master Ellis Wyn observes—turn not with
that man.’

‘Go not back with him,’ said Winifred.  ‘If thou goest with that man,
thou wilt soon forget all our profitable counsels; come with us.’

‘I cannot; I have much to say to him.  Kosko Divvus, Mr. Petulengro.’

‘Kosko Divvus, Pal,’ said Mr. Petulengro, riding through the water; ‘are
you turning back?’

I turned back with Mr. Petulengro.

Peter came running after me: ‘One moment, young man,—who and what are
you?’

‘I must answer in the words of Taliesin,’ said I: ‘none can say with
positiveness whether I be fish or flesh, least of all myself.  God bless
you both!’

‘Take this,’ said Peter, and he thrust his Welsh Bible into my hand.



CHAPTER EIGHTY-ONE


AT A FUNERAL—TWO DAYS AGO—VERY COOLLY—ROMAN WOMAN—WELL AND
HEARTY—SOMEWHAT DREARY—PLUM PUDDING—ROMAN FASHION—QUITE DIFFERENT—THE
DARK LANE—BEYOND TIME—FINE FELLOW—LIKE A WILD CAT—PLEASANT ENOUGH SPOT—NO
GLOVES

So I turned back with Mr. Petulengro.  We travelled for some time in
silence; at last we fell into discourse.  ‘You have been in Wales, Mr.
Petulengro?’

‘Ay, truly, brother.’

‘What have you been doing there?’

‘Assisting at a funeral.’

‘At whose funeral?’

‘Mrs. Herne’s, brother.’

‘Is she dead, then?’

‘As a nail, brother.’

‘How did she die?’

‘By hanging, brother.’

‘I am lost in astonishment,’ said I; whereupon Mr. Petulengro, lifting
his sinister leg over the neck of his steed, and adjusting himself
sideways in the saddle, replied, with great deliberation, ‘Two days ago I
happened to be at a fair not very far from here; I was all alone by
myself, for our party were upwards of forty miles off, when who should
come up but a chap that I knew, a relation, or rather a connection, of
mine—one of those Hernes.  “Aren’t you going to the funeral?” said he;
and then, brother, there passed between him and me, in the way of
questioning and answering, much the same as has just now passed between
me and you; but when he mentioned hanging, I thought I could do no less
than ask who hanged her, which you forgot to do.  “Who hanged her?” said
I; and then the man told me that she had done it herself; been her own
hinjiri; and then I thought to myself what a sin and shame it would be if
I did not go to the funeral, seeing that she was my own mother-in-law.  I
would have brought my wife, and, indeed, the whole of our party, but
there was no time for that; they were too far off, and the dead was to be
buried early the next morning; so I went with the man, and he led me into
Wales, where his party had lately retired, and when there, through many
wild and desolate places to their encampment, and there I found the
Hernes, and the dead body—the last laid out on a mattress, in a tent,
dressed Romaneskoenæs in a red cloak, and big bonnet of black beaver.  I
must say for the Hernes that they took the matter very coolly; some were
eating, others drinking, and some were talking about their small affairs;
there was one, however, who did not take the matter so coolly, but took
on enough for the whole family, sitting beside the dead woman, tearing
her hair, and refusing to take either meat or drink; it was the child
Leonora.  I arrived at nightfall, and the burying was not to take place
till the morning, which I was rather sorry for, as I am not very fond of
them Hernes, who are not very fond of anybody.  They never asked me to
eat or drink, notwithstanding I had married into the family, one of them,
however, came up and offered to fight me for five shillings; had it not
been for them I should have come back as empty as I went—he didn’t stand
up five minutes.  Brother, I passed the night as well as I could, beneath
a tree, for the tents were full, and not over clean; I slept little, and
had my eyes about me, for I knew the kind of people I was among.

‘Early in the morning the funeral took place.  The body was placed not in
a coffin but on a bier, and carried not to a churchyard but to a deep
dell close by; and there it was buried beneath a rock, dressed just as I
have told you; and this was done by the bidding of Leonora, who had heard
her bebee say that she wished to be buried, not in gorgious fashion, but
like a Roman woman of the old blood, the kosko puro rati, brother.  When
it was over, and we had got back to the encampment, I prepared to be
going.  Before mounting my gry, however, I bethought me to ask what could
have induced the dead woman to make away with herself—a thing so uncommon
amongst Romanies; whereupon one squinted with his eyes, a second spirted
saliver into the air, and a third said that he neither knew nor cared;
she was a good riddance, having more than once been nearly the ruin of
them all, from the quantity of brimstone she carried about her.  One,
however, I suppose rather ashamed of the way in which they had treated
me, said at last that if I wanted to know all about the matter none could
tell me better than the child, who was in all her secrets, and was not a
little like her; so I looked about for the child, but could find her
nowhere.  At last the same man told me that he shouldn’t wonder if I
found her at the grave; so I went back to the grave, and sure enough
there I found the child Leonora, seated on the ground above the body,
crying and taking on; so I spoke kindly to her, and said, “How came all
this, Leonora? tell me all about it.”  It was a long time before I could
get any answer; at last she opened her mouth and spoke, and these were
the words she said, “It was all along of your Pal”; and then she told me
all about the matter—how Mrs. Herne could not abide you, which I knew
before; and that she had sworn your destruction, which I did not know
before.  And then she told me how she found you living in the wood by
yourself, and how you were enticed to eat a poisoned cake; and she told
me many other things that you wot of, and she told me what perhaps you
don’t wot, namely, that finding you had been removed, she, the child, had
tracked you a long way, and found you at last well and hearty, and no
ways affected by the poison, and heard you, as she stood concealed,
disputing about religion with a Welsh Methody.  Well, brother, she told
me all this; and, moreover, that when Mrs. Herne heard of it, she said
that a dream of hers had come to pass.  I don’t know what it was, but
something about herself, a tinker, and a dean; and then she added that it
was all up with her, and that she must take a long journey.  Well,
brother, that same night Leonora, waking from her sleep in the tent where
Mrs. Herne and she were wont to sleep, missed her bebee, and, becoming
alarmed, went in search of her, and at last found her hanging from a
branch; and when the child had got so far, she took on violently, and I
could not get another word from her; so I left her, and here I am.’

‘And I am glad to see you, Mr. Petulengro; but this is sad news which you
tell me about Mrs. Herne.’

‘Somewhat dreary, brother; yet, perhaps, after all, it is a good thing
that she is removed; she carried so much Devil’s tinder about with her,
as the man said.’

‘I am sorry for her,’ said I; ‘more especially as I am the cause of her
death—though the innocent one.’

‘She could not bide you, brother, that’s certain; but that is no
reason’—said Mr. Petulengro, balancing himself upon the saddle—‘that is
no reason why she should prepare drow to take away your essence of life;
and, when disappointed, to hang herself upon a tree: if she was
dissatisfied with you, she might have flown at you, and scratched your
face; or, if she did not judge herself your match, she might have put
down five shillings for a turn-up between you and some one she thought
could beat you—myself, for example—and so the matter might have ended
comfortably; but she was always too fond of covert ways, drows, and
brimstones.  This is not the first poisoning affair she has been engaged
in.’

‘You allude to drabbing bawlor.’

‘Bah!’ said Mr. Petulengro; ‘there’s no harm in that.  No, no! she has
cast drows in her time for other guess things than bawlor; both Gorgios
and Romans have tasted of them, and died.  Did you never hear of the
poisoned plum pudding?’

‘Never.’

‘Then I will tell you about it.  It happened about six years ago, a few
months after she had quitted us—she had gone first amongst her own
people, as she called them; but there was another small party of Romans,
with whom she soon became very intimate.  It so happened that this small
party got into trouble; whether it was about a horse or an ass, or
passing bad money, no matter to you and me, who had no hand in the
business; three or four of them were taken and lodged in --- Castle, and
amongst them was a woman; but the sherengro, or principal man of the
party, and who it seems had most hand in the affair, was still at large.
All of a sudden a rumour was spread abroad that the woman was about to
play false, and to ’peach the rest.  Said the principal man, when he
heard it, “If she does, I am nashkado.”  Mrs. Herne was then on a visit
to the party, and when she heard the principal man take on so, she said,
“But I suppose you know what to do?”  “I do not,” said he.  “Then hir mi
devlis,” said she, “you are a fool.  But leave the matter to me, I know
how to dispose of her in Roman fashion.”  Why she wanted to interfere in
the matter, brother, I don’t know, unless it was from pure brimstoneness
of disposition—she had no hand in the matter which had brought the party
into trouble—she was only on a visit, and it had happened before she
came; but she was always ready to give dangerous advice.  Well, brother,
the principal man listened to what she had to say, and let her do what
she would; and she made a pudding, a very nice one, no doubt—for, besides
plums, she put in drows and all the Roman condiments that she knew of;
and she gave it to the principal man, and the principal put it into a
basket and directed it to the woman in --- Castle, and the woman in the
castle took it and—’

‘Ate of it,’ said I; ‘just like my case!’

                          [Picture: Mrs. Herne]

‘Quite different, brother; she took it, it is true, but instead of giving
way to her appetite, as you might have done, she put it before the rest
whom she was going to impeach; perhaps she wished to see how they liked
it before she tasted it herself; and all the rest were poisoned, and one
died, and there was a precious outcry, and the woman cried loudest of
all; and she said, “It was my death was sought for; I know the man, and
I’ll be revenged.”  And then the Poknees spoke to her and said, “Where
can we find him?” and she said, “I am awake to his motions; three weeks
from hence, the night before the full moon, at such and such an hour, he
will pass down such a lane with such a man.”’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘and what did the Poknees do?’

‘Do, brother! sent for a plastramengro from Bow Street, quite secretly,
and told him what the woman had said; and the night before the full moon,
the plastramengro went to the place which the juwa had pointed out, all
alone, brother; and in order that he might not be too late, he went two
hours before his time.  I know the place well, brother, where the
plastramengro placed himself behind a thick holly tree, at the end of a
lane, where a gate leads into various fields, through which there is a
path for carts and horses.  The lane is called the dark lane by the
Gorgios, being much shaded by trees.  So the plastramengro placed himself
in the dark lane behind the holly tree; it was a cold February night,
dreary though; the wind blew in gusts, and the moon had not yet risen,
and the plastramengro waited behind the tree till he was tired, and
thought he might as well sit down; so he sat down, and was not long in
falling to sleep, and there he slept for some hours; and when he awoke
the moon had risen, and was shining bright, so that there was a kind of
moonlight even in the dark lane; and the plastramengro pulled out his
watch, and contrived to make out that it was just two hours beyond the
time when the men should have passed by.  Brother, I do not know what the
plastramengro thought of himself, but I know, brother, what I should have
thought of myself in his situation.  I should have thought, brother, that
I was a drowsy scoppelo, and that I had let the fellow pass by whilst I
was sleeping behind a bush.  As it turned out, however, his going to
sleep did no harm, but quite the contrary: just as he was going away, he
heard a gate slam in the direction of the fields, and then he heard the
low stumping of horses, as if on soft ground, for the path in those
fields is generally soft, and at that time it had been lately ploughed
up.  Well, brother, presently he saw two men on horseback coming towards
the lane through the field behind the gate; the man who rode foremost was
a tall big fellow, the very man he was in quest of; the other was a
smaller chap, not so small either, but a light, wiry fellow, and a proper
master of his hands when he sees occasion for using them.  Well, brother,
the foremost man came to the gate, reached at the hank, undid it, and
rode through, holding it open for the other.  Before, however, the other
could follow into the lane, out bolted the plastramengro from behind the
tree, kicked the gate to with his foot, and, seizing the big man on
horseback, “You are my prisoner,” said he.  I am of opinion, brother,
that the plastramengro, notwithstanding he went to sleep, must have been
a regular fine fellow.’

‘I am entirely of your opinion,’ said I; ‘but what happened then?’

‘Why, brother, the Rommany chal, after he had somewhat recovered from his
surprise, for it is rather uncomfortable to be laid hold of at
night-time, and told you are a prisoner; more especially when you happen
to have two or three things on your mind which, if proved against you,
would carry you to the nashky,—the Rommany chal, I say, clubbed his whip,
and aimed a blow at the plastramengro, which, if it had hit him on the
skull, as was intended, would very likely have cracked it.  The
plastramengro, however, received it partly on his staff, so that it did
him no particular damage.  Whereupon, seeing what kind of customer he had
to deal with, he dropped his staff and seized the chal with both his
hands, who forthwith spurred his horse, hoping, by doing so, either to
break away from him or fling him down; but it would not do—the
plastramengro held on like a bull-dog, so that the Rommany chal, to
escape being hauled to the ground, suddenly flung himself off the saddle,
and then happened in that lane, close by the gate, such a struggle
between those two—the chal and the runner—as I suppose will never happen
again.  But you must have heard of it; everyone has heard of it; everyone
has heard of the fight between the Bow Street engro and the Rommany
chal.’

‘I never heard of it till now.’

‘All England rung of it, brother.  There never was a better match than
between those two.  The runner was somewhat the stronger of the two—all
those engroes are strong fellows—and a great deal cooler, for all of that
sort are wondrous cool people—he had, however, to do with one who knew
full well how to take his own part.  The chal fought the engro, brother,
in the old Roman fashion.  He bit, he kicked, and screamed like a wild
cat of Benygant; casting foam from his mouth and fire from his eyes.
Sometimes he was beneath the engro’s legs, and sometimes he was upon his
shoulders.  What the engro found the most difficult was to get a firm
hold of the chal, for no sooner did he seize the chal by any part of his
wearing apparel, than the chal either tore himself away, or contrived to
slip out of it; so that in a little time the chal was three parts naked;
and as for holding him by the body, it was out of the question, for he
was as slippery as an eel.  At last the engro seized the chal by the
Belcher’s handkerchief, which he wore in a knot round his neck, and do
whatever the chal could, he could not free himself; and when the engro
saw that, it gave him fresh heart, no doubt: “It’s of no use,” said he;
“you had better give in; hold out your hands for the darbies, or I will
throttle you.”

‘And what did the other fellow do, who came with the chal?’ said I.

‘I sat still on my horse, brother.’

‘You!’ said I.  ‘Were you the man?’

‘I was he, brother.’

‘And why did you not help your comrade?’

‘I have fought in the ring, brother.’

‘And what had fighting in the ring to do with fighting in the lane?’

‘You mean not fighting.  A great deal, brother; it taught me to prize
fair play.  When I fought Staffordshire Dick, t’other side of London, I
was alone, brother.  Not a Rommany chal to back me, and he had all his
brother pals about him; but they gave me fair play, brother; and I beat
Staffordshire Dick, which I couldn’t have done had they put one finger on
his side the scale; for he was as good a man as myself, or nearly so.
Now, brother, had I but bent a finger in favour of the Rommany chal, the
plastramengro would never have come alive out of the lane; but I did not,
for I thought to myself fair play is a precious stone; so you see,
brother—’

‘That you are quite right, Mr. Petulengro, I see that clearly; and now,
pray proceed with your narration; it is both moral and entertaining.’

But Mr. Petulengro did not proceed with his narration, neither did he
proceed upon his way; he had stopped his horse, and his eyes were
intently fixed on a broad strip of grass beneath some lofty trees, on the
left side of the road.  It was a pleasant enough spot, and seemed to
invite wayfaring people, such as we were, to rest from the fatigues of
the road, and the heat and vehemence of the sun.  After examining it for
a considerable time, Mr. Petulengro said, ‘I say, brother, that would be
a nice place for a tussle!’

‘I daresay it would,’ said I, ‘if two people were inclined to fight.’

‘The ground is smooth,’ said Mr. Petulengro; ‘without holes or ruts, and
the trees cast much shade.  I don’t think, brother, that we could find a
better place,’ said Mr. Petulengro, springing from his horse.

‘But you and I don’t want to fight!’

‘Speak for yourself, brother,’ said Mr. Petulengro.  ‘However, I will
tell you how the matter stands.  There is a point at present between us.
There can be no doubt that you are the cause of Mrs. Herne’s death,
innocently, you will say, but still the cause.  Now, I shouldn’t like it
to be known that I went up and down the country with a pal who was the
cause of my mother-in-law’s death, that’s to say, unless he gave me
satisfaction.  Now, if I and my pal have a tussle, he gives me
satisfaction; and, if he knocks my eyes out, which I know you can’t do,
it makes no difference at all, he gives me satisfaction; and he who says
to the contrary knows nothing of gypsy law, and is a dinelo into the
bargain.’

‘But we have no gloves!’

‘Gloves!’ said Mr. Petulengro, contemptuously, ‘gloves!  I tell you what,
brother, I always thought you were a better hand at the gloves than the
naked fist; and, to tell you the truth, besides taking satisfaction for
Mrs. Herne’s death, I wish to see what you can do with your mawleys; so
now is your time, brother, and this is your place, grass and shade, no
ruts or holes; come on, brother, or I shall think you what I should not
like to call you.’



CHAPTER EIGHTY-TWO


OFFENCE AND DEFENCE—I’M SATISFIED—FOND OF SOLITUDE—POSSESSION OF
PROPERTY—WINDING PATH

And when I heard Mr. Petulengro talk in this manner, which I had never
heard him do before, and which I can only account for by his being
fasting and ill-tempered, I had of course no other alternative than to
accept his challenge; so I put myself into a posture which I deemed the
best both for offence and defence, and the tussle commenced; and when it
had endured for about half an hour, Mr. Petulengro said, ‘Brother, there
is much blood on your face; you had better wipe it off’; and when I had
wiped it off, and again resumed my former attitude.  Mr. Petulengro said,
‘I think enough has been done, brother, in the affair of the old woman; I
have, moreover, tried what you are able to do, and find you, as I
thought, less apt with the naked mawleys than the stuffed gloves; nay,
brother, put your hands down, I’m satisfied; blood has been shed, which
is all that can be reasonably expected for an old woman who carried so
much brimstone about her as Mrs. Herne.’

So the struggle ended, and we resumed our route, Mr. Petulengro sitting
sideways upon his horse as before, and I driving my little pony-cart; and
when we had proceeded about three miles, we came to a small public-house,
which bore the sign of the Silent Woman, where we stopped to refresh our
cattle and ourselves; and as we sat over our bread and ale, it came to
pass that Mr. Petulengro asked me various questions, and amongst others,
how I intended to dispose of myself; I told him that I did not know;
whereupon, with considerable frankness, he invited me to his camp, and
told me that if I chose to settle down amongst them, and become a Rommany
chal, I should have his wife’s sister Ursula, who was still unmarried,
and occasionally talked of me.

I declined his offer, assigning as a reason the recent death of Mrs.
Herne, of which I was the cause, although innocent.  ‘A pretty life I
should lead with those two,’ said I, ‘when they came to know it.’
‘Pooh,’ said Mr. Petulengro, ‘they will never know it.  I shan’t blab,
and as for Leonora, that girl has a head on her shoulders.’  ‘Unlike the
woman in the sign,’ said I, ‘whose head is cut off.  You speak nonsense,
Mr. Petulengro; as long as a woman has a head on her shoulders she’ll
talk,—but, leaving women out of the case, it is impossible to keep
anything a secret; an old master of mine told me so long ago.  I have
moreover another reason for declining your offer.  I am at present not
disposed for society.  I am become fond of solitude.  I wish I could find
some quiet place to which I could retire to hold communion with my own
thoughts, and practise, if I thought fit, either of my trades.’  ‘What
trades?’ said Mr. Petulengro.  ‘Why, the one which I have lately been
engaged in, or my original one, which I confess I should like better,
that of a kaulo-mescro.’  ‘Ah, I have frequently heard you talk of making
horse-shoes,’ said Mr. Petulengro; ‘I, however, never saw you make one,
and no one else that I am aware; I don’t believe—come, brother, don’t be
angry, it’s quite possible that you may have done things which neither I
nor any one else has seen you do, and that such things may some day or
other come to light, as you say nothing can be kept secret.  Be that,
however, as it may, pay the reckoning and let us be going; I think I can
advise you to just such a kind of place as you seem to want.’

‘And how do you know that I have got wherewithal to pay the reckoning?’ I
demanded.  ‘Brother,’ said Mr. Petulengro, ‘I was just now looking in
your face, which exhibited the very look of a person conscious of the
possession of property; there was nothing hungry or sneaking in it.  Pay
the reckoning, brother.’

And when we were once more upon the road, Mr. Petulengro began to talk of
the place which he conceived would serve me as a retreat under present
circumstances.  ‘I tell you frankly, brother, that it is a queer kind of
place, and I am not very fond of pitching my tent in it, it is so
surprisingly dreary.  It is a deep dingle in the midst of a large field,
on an estate about which there has been a lawsuit for some years past.  I
daresay you will be quiet enough, for the nearest town is five miles
distant, and there are only a few huts and hedge public-houses in the
neighbourhood.  Brother, I am fond of solitude myself, but not that kind
of solitude; I like a quiet heath, where I can pitch my house, but I
always like to have a gay stirring place not far off, where the women can
pen dukkerin, and I myself can sell or buy a horse, if needful—such a
place as the Chong Gav.  I never feel so merry as when there, brother, or
on the heath above it, where I taught you Rommany.’

Shortly after this discourse we reached a milestone, and a few yards from
the milestone, on the left hand, was a cross-road.  Thereupon Mr.
Petulengro said, ‘Brother, my path lies to the left; if you choose to go
with me to my camp, good; if not, Chal Devlehi.’  But I again refused Mr.
Petulengro’s invitation, and, shaking him by the hand, proceeded forward
alone; and about ten miles farther on I reached the town of which he had
spoken, and, following certain directions which he had given, discovered,
though not without some difficulty, the dingle which he had mentioned.
It was a deep hollow in the midst of a wide field; the shelving sides
were overgrown with trees and bushes, a belt of sallows surrounded it on
the top, a steep winding path led down into the depths, practicable,
however, for a light cart, like mine; at the bottom was an open space,
and there I pitched my tent, and there I contrived to put up my forge.
‘I will here ply the trade of kaulomescro,’ said I.



CHAPTER EIGHTY-THREE


HIGHLY POETICAL—VOLUNDR—GRECIAN MYTHOLOGY—MAKING A PETUL—SPITE OF
DUKKERIN—HEAVINESS

It has always struck me that there is something highly poetical about a
forge.  I am not singular in this opinion: various individuals have
assured me that they can never pass by one, even in the midst of a
crowded town, without experiencing sensations which they can scarcely
define, but which are highly pleasurable.  I have a decided penchant for
forges, especially rural ones, placed in some quaint quiet spot—a dingle,
for example, which is a poetical place, or at a meeting of four roads,
which is still more so; for how many a superstition—and superstition is
the soul of poetry—is connected with these cross roads!  I love to light
upon such a one, especially after nightfall, as everything about a forge
tells to most advantage at night; the hammer sounds more solemnly in the
stillness; the glowing particles scattered by the strokes sparkle with
more effect in the darkness, whilst the sooty visage of the sastramescro,
half in shadow and half illumed by the red and partial blaze of the
forge, looks more mysterious and strange.  On such occasions I draw in my
horse’s rein, and, seated in the saddle, endeavour to associate with the
picture before me—in itself a picture of romance—whatever of the wild and
wonderful I have read of in books, or have seen with my own eyes in
connection with forges.

I believe the life of any blacksmith, especially a rural one, would
afford materials for a highly poetical history.  I do not speak
unadvisedly, having the honour to be free of the forge, and therefore
fully competent to give an opinion as to what might be made out of the
forge by some dexterous hand.  Certainly, the strangest and most
entertaining life ever written is that of a blacksmith of the olden
north, a certain Volundr, or Velint, who lived in woods and thickets,
made keen swords—so keen, indeed, that if placed in a running stream they
would fairly divide an object, however slight, which was borne against
them by the water, and who eventually married a king’s daughter, by whom
he had a son, who was as bold a knight as his father was a cunning
blacksmith.  I never see a forge at night, when seated on the back of my
horse, at the bottom of a dark lane, but I somehow or other associate it
with the exploits of this extraordinary fellow, with many other
extraordinary things, amongst which, as I have hinted before, are
particular passages of my own life, one or two of which I shall perhaps
relate to the reader.

I never associate Vulcan and his Cyclops with the idea of a forge.  These
gentry would be the very last people in the world to flit across my mind
whilst gazing at the forge from the bottom of the dark lane.  The truth
is, they are highly unpoetical fellows, as well they may be, connected as
they are with the Grecian mythology.  At the very mention of their names
the forge burns dull and dim, as if snowballs had been suddenly flung
into it; the only remedy is to ply the bellows, an operation which I now
hasten to perform.

I am in the dingle making a horse-shoe.  Having no other horses on whose
hoofs I could exercise my art, I made my first essay on those of my own
horse, if that could be called horse which horse was none, being only a
pony.  Perhaps, if I had sought all England, I should scarcely have found
an animal more in need of the kind offices of the smith.  On three of his
feet there were no shoes at all, and on the fourth only a remnant of one,
on which account his hoofs were sadly broken and lacerated by his late
journeys over the hard and flinty roads.  ‘You belonged to a tinker
before,’ said I, addressing the animal, ‘but now you belong to a smith.
It is said that the household of the shoemaker invariably go worse shod
than that of any other craft.  That may be the case of those who make
shoes of leather, but it shan’t be said of the household of him who makes
shoes of iron; at any rate it shan’t be said of mine.  I tell you what,
my gry, whilst you continue with me, you shall both be better shod and
better fed than you were with your last master.’

I am in the dingle making a petul; and I must here observe that whilst I
am making a horse-shoe the reader need not be surprised if I speak
occasionally in the language of the lord of the horse-shoe—Mr.
Petulengro.  I have for some time past been plying the peshota, or
bellows, endeavouring to raise up the yag, or fire, in my primitive
forge.  The angar, or coals, are now burning fiercely, casting forth
sparks and long vagescoe chipes, or tongues of flame; a small bar of
sastra, or iron, is lying in the fire, to the length of ten or twelve
inches, and so far it is hot, very hot, exceeding hot, brother.  And now
you see me prala, snatch the bar of iron, and place the heated end of it
upon the covantza, or anvil, and forthwith I commence cooring the sastra
as hard as if I had been just engaged by a master at the rate of dui
caulor, or two shillings, a day, brother; and when I have beaten the iron
till it is nearly cool, and my arm tired, I place it again in the angar,
and begin again to rouse the fire with the pudamengro, which signifies
the blowing thing, and is another and more common word for bellows; and
whilst thus employed I sing a gypsy song, the sound of which is
wonderfully in unison with the hoarse moaning of the pudamengro, and ere
the song is finished, the iron is again hot and malleable.  Behold, I
place it once more on the covantza, and recommence hammering; and now I
am somewhat at fault; I am in want of assistance; I want you, brother, or
some one else, to take the bar out of my hand and support it upon the
covantza, whilst I, applying a chinomescro, or kind of chisel, to the
heated iron, cut off with a lusty stroke or two of the shukara baro, or
big hammer, as much as is required for the petul.  But having no one to
help me, I go on hammering till I have fairly knocked off as much as I
want, and then I place the piece in the fire, and again apply the
bellows, and take up the song where I left it off; and when I have
finished the song, I take out the iron, but this time with my plaistra,
or pincers, and then I recommence hammering, turning the iron round and
round with my pincers; and now I bend the iron and, lo and behold! it has
assumed something of the outline of a petul.

I am not going to enter into further details with respect to the
process—it was rather a wearisome one.  I had to contend with various
disadvantages; my forge was a rude one, my tools might have been better;
I was in want of one or two highly necessary implements, but, above all,
manual dexterity.  Though free of the forge, I had not practised the
albeytarian art for very many years, never since—but stay, it is not my
intention to tell the reader, at least in this place, how and when I
became a blacksmith.  There was one thing, however, which stood me in
good stead in my labour, the same thing which through life has ever been
of incalculable utility to me, and has not unfrequently supplied the
place of friends, money, and many other things of almost equal
importance—iron perseverance, without which all the advantages of time
and circumstance are of very little avail in any undertaking.  I was
determined to make a horse-shoe, and a good one, in spite of every
obstacle—ay, in spite of dukkerin.  At the end of four days, during which
I had fashioned and refashioned the thing at least fifty times, I had
made a petul such as no master of the craft need have been ashamed of;
with the second shoe I had less difficulty, and, by the time I had made
the fourth, I would have scorned to take off my hat to the best smith in
Cheshire.

But I had not yet shod my little gry: this I proceeded now to do.  After
having first well pared the hoofs with my churi, I applied each petul
hot, glowing hot, to the pindro.  Oh, how the hoofs hissed! and, oh, the
pleasant pungent odour which diffused itself through the dingle!—an odour
good for an ailing spirit.

I shod the little horse bravely—merely pricked him once, slightly, with a
cafi, for doing which, I remember, he kicked me down; I was not
disconcerted, however, but, getting up, promised to be more cautious in
future; and having finished the operation, I filed the hoof well with the
rin baro, then dismissed him to graze amongst the trees, and, putting my
smaller tools into the muchtar, I sat down on my stone, and, supporting
my arm upon my knee, leaned my head upon my hand.  Heaviness had come
over me.



CHAPTER EIGHTY-FOUR


SEVERAL CAUSES—FROGS AND EFTES—GLOOM AND TWILIGHT—WHAT SHOULD I DO?—“OUR
FATHER”—FELLOW-MEN—WHAT A MERCY!—HISTORY OF SAUL—PITCH DARK

Heaviness had suddenly come over me, heaviness of heart, and of body
also.  I had accomplished the task which I had imposed upon myself, and
now that nothing more remained to do, my energies suddenly deserted me,
and I felt without strength, and without hope.  Several causes, perhaps,
co-operated to bring about the state in which I then felt myself.  It is
not improbable that my energies had been overstrained during the work the
progress of which I have attempted to describe; and every one is aware
that the results of overstrained energies are feebleness and
lassitude—want of nourishment might likewise have something to do with
it.  During my sojourn in the dingle, my food had been of the simplest
and most unsatisfying description, by no means calculated to support the
exertion which the labour I had been engaged upon required; it had
consisted of coarse oaten cakes and hard cheese, and for beverage I had
been indebted to a neighbouring pit, in which, in the heat of the day, I
frequently saw, not golden or silver fish, but frogs and eftes swimming
about.  I am, however, inclined to believe that Mrs. Herne’s cake had
quite as much to do with the matter as insufficient nourishment.  I had
never entirely recovered from the effects of its poison, but had
occasionally, especially at night, been visited by a grinding pain in the
stomach, and my whole body had been suffused with cold sweat; and indeed
these memorials of the drow have never entirely disappeared—even at the
present time they display themselves in my system, especially after much
fatigue of body and excitement of mind.  So there I sat in the dingle
upon my stone, nerveless and hopeless, by whatever cause or causes that
state had been produced—there I sat with my head leaning upon my hand,
and so I continued a long, long time.  At last I lifted my head from my
hand, and began to cast anxious, unquiet looks about the dingle—the
entire hollow was now enveloped in deep shade—I cast my eyes up; there
was a golden gleam on the tops of the trees which grew towards the upper
parts of the dingle; but lower down all was gloom and twilight—yet, when
I first sat down on my stone, the sun was right above the dingle,
illuminating all its depths by the rays which it cast perpendicularly
down—so I must have sat a long, long time upon my stone.  And now, once
more, I rested my head upon my hand, but almost instantly lifted it again
in a kind of fear, and began looking at the objects before me—the forge,
the tools, the branches of the trees, endeavouring to follow their rows,
till they were lost in the darkness of the dingle; and now I found my
right hand grasping convulsively the three fore-fingers of the left,
first collectively, and then successively, wringing them till the joints
cracked; then I became quiet, but not for long.

Suddenly I started up, and could scarcely repress the shriek which was
rising to my lips.  Was it possible?  Yes, all too certain; the evil one
was upon me; the inscrutable horror which I had felt in my boyhood had
once more taken possession of me.  I had thought that it had forsaken
me—that it would never visit me again; that I had outgrown it; that I
might almost bid defiance to it; and I had even begun to think of it
without horror, as we are in the habit of doing of horrors of which we
conceive we run no danger; and lo! when least thought of, it had seized
me again.  Every moment I felt it gathering force, and making me more
wholly its own.  What should I do?—resist, of course; and I did resist.
I grasped, I tore, and strove to fling it from me; but of what avail were
my efforts?  I could only have got rid of it by getting rid of myself: it
was a part of myself, or rather it was all myself.  I rushed amongst the
trees, and struck at them with my bare fists, and dashed my head against
them, but I felt no pain.  How could I feel pain with that horror upon
me?  And then I flung myself on the ground, gnawed the earth, and
swallowed it; and then I looked round; it was almost total darkness in
the dingle, and the darkness added to my horror.  I could no longer stay
there; up I rose from the ground, and attempted to escape.  At the bottom
of the winding path which led up the acclivity, I fell over something
which was lying on the ground; the something moved, and gave a kind of
whine.  It was my little horse, which had made that place its lair; my
little horse; my only companion and friend in that now awful solitude.  I
reached the mouth of the dingle; the sun was just sinking in the far west
behind me, the fields were flooded with his last gleams.  How beautiful
everything looked in the last gleams of the sun!  I felt relieved for a
moment; I was no longer in the horrid dingle.  In another minute the sun
was gone, and a big cloud occupied the place where he had been: in a
little time it was almost as dark as it had previously been in the open
part of the dingle.  My horror increased; what was I to do?—it was of no
use fighting against the horror—that I saw; the more I fought against it,
the stronger it became.  What should I do; say my prayers?  Ah! why not?
So I knelt down under the hedge, and said, ‘Our Father’; but that was of
no use; and now I could no longer repress cries—the horror was too great
to be borne.  What should I do? run to the nearest town or village, and
request the assistance of my fellow-men?  No! that I was ashamed to do;
notwithstanding the horror was upon me, I was ashamed to do that.  I knew
they would consider me a maniac, if I went screaming amongst them; and I
did not wish to be considered a maniac.  Moreover, I knew that I was not
a maniac, for I possessed all my reasoning powers, only the horror was
upon me—the screaming horror!  But how were indifferent people to
distinguish between madness and the screaming horror?  So I thought and
reasoned; and at last I determined not to go amongst my fellow-men,
whatever the result might be.  I went to the mouth of the dingle, and
there, placing myself on my knees, I again said the Lord’s Prayer; but it
was of no use—praying seemed to have no effect over the horror; the
unutterable fear appeared rather to increase than diminish, and I again
uttered wild cries, so loud that I was apprehensive they would be heard
by some chance passenger on the neighbouring road; I therefore went
deeper into the dingle.  I sat down with my back against a thorn bush;
the thorns entered my flesh, and when I felt them, I pressed harder
against the bush; I thought the pain of the flesh might in some degree
counteract the mental agony; presently I felt them no longer—the power of
the mental horror was so great that it was impossible, with that upon me,
to feel any pain from the thorns.  I continued in this posture a long
time, undergoing what I cannot describe, and would not attempt if I were
able.  Several times I was on the point of starting up and rushing
anywhere; but I restrained myself, for I knew I could not escape from
myself, so why should I not remain in the dingle?  So I thought and said
to myself, for my reasoning powers were still uninjured.  At last it
appeared to me that the horror was not so strong, not quite so strong,
upon me.  Was it possible that it was relaxing its grasp, releasing its
prey?  Oh what a mercy! but it could not be; and yet—I looked up to
heaven, and clasped my hands, and said, ‘Our Father.’  I said no more—I
was too agitated; and now I was almost sure that the horror had done its
worst.

After a little time I arose, and staggered down yet farther into the
dingle.  I again found my little horse on the same spot as before.  I put
my hand to his mouth—he licked my hand, I flung myself down by him, and
put my arms round his neck; the creature whinnied, and appeared to
sympathise with me.  What a comfort to have any one, even a dumb brute,
to sympathise with me at such a moment!  I clung to my little horse, as
if for safety and protection.  I laid my head on his neck, and felt
almost calm.  Presently the fear returned, but not so wild as before; it
subsided, came again, again subsided; then drowsiness came over me, and
at last I fell asleep, my head supported on the neck of the little horse.
I awoke; it was dark, dark night—not a star was to be seen—but I felt no
fear, the horror had left me.  I arose from the side of the little horse,
and went into my tent, lay down, and again went to sleep.

I awoke in the morning weak and sore, and shuddering at the remembrance
of what I had gone through on the preceding day; the sun was shining
brightly, but it had not yet risen high enough to show its head above the
trees which fenced the eastern side of the dingle, on which account the
dingle was wet and dank from the dews of the night.  I kindled my fire,
and, after sitting by it for some time to warm my frame, I took some of
the coarse food which I have already mentioned; notwithstanding my late
struggle, and the coarseness of the fare, I ate with appetite.  My
provisions had by this time been very much diminished, and I saw that it
would be speedily necessary, in the event of my continuing to reside in
the dingle, to lay in a fresh store.  After my meal, I