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Title: Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 733, January 12, 1878
Author: Various
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 733, January 12, 1878" ***

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[Illustration: CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL

OF

POPULAR

LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART.

Fourth Series

CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS.

NO. 733.      SATURDAY, JANUARY 12, 1878.      PRICE 1½_d._]



THE JUBILEE SINGERS.


One of the most interesting and vivid of our recollections is that
of witnessing some scenes in negro slavery in the United States, now
upwards of twenty years ago--very nearly the close of the iniquity;
but of that nobody was aware. There was a novelty in seeing fairly
dressed men and women brought out for sale by public auction, and
in observing how the persons who came to buy carefully examined the
men's hands and the flexibility of their fingers, looked into their
mouths to make sure of their teeth, and having effected a removal of
the coats and shirts, scanned the bare backs to discover whether they
had suffered by the lash. Just as in buying horses in a market, it
was quite a business affair; and what was a little surprising, the
unfortunate objects of this degrading exhibition took all in good part.
But what else could they do? In the grasp of power, they knew that
resistance was worse than useless. Close by were cow-hide whips handled
by heartless ruffians voraciously chewing tobacco, as if to keep up
the proper inspiration of brutality. Across the way was seen an ugly
brick building inscribed with the word JAIL, in tall black letters on
a white ground, to which establishment, in case of remonstrance, the
poor wretches would have been instantly marched for punishment. Doom
hopeless!

The equanimity, and indeed the good-humour, with which these blacks
seemed to endure their fate, indicated, we thought, good points
of character. Nowhere in travelling about did we observe anything
positively disagreeable, to remind us that the labourers in the fields
or the loiterers at doorways were slaves. Often, we heard singing
and jollity, as if light-heartedness was on the whole predominant.
Obviously, slave-owners were not all Legrees. On the contrary, in
many instances they shewed a kind indulgence to their ‘servants,’ as
they called them, and were pleased to see them singing, laughing, and
making merry in the intervals of rest from labour. Perhaps this is not
saying much, for the singing of slaves may be compared to the notes
of a bird in captivity, to be admired, but pitied. Anyway, there was
a disposition to seek solacement in the outpouring of song. If not
intellectually brilliant, the negro is naturally vivacious. Even when
he grows old, he is still something of a boy, with an inherent love of
frolic. He is clever in picking up tunes, and one of the complaints
which we heard against him in a free state was that if not looked
after by his master, he would continually go out to entertainments and
dance all night. A curious result of the taste for music has been the
creation of what are known as negro melodies; partly suggested by old
English airs, and by the psalm and hymn tunes that had been heard at
church or in the devotional exercises of missionaries. With a blended
simplicity and oddity, the negro airs which have gained currency are
wonderfully harmonious and touching. The time is well marked, shewing
correctness of ear, and accordingly the pieces, however eccentric
in language, are well adapted for singing in harmony by a number of
voices. From the performances of the ‘Christy Minstrels,’ as they
are usually designated--white men with blackened faces imitative of
negroes--people will have a pretty good idea of the melodies we speak
of; but we should say that the real thing is to be obtained only from a
band of genuine negroes, who for some years have been travelling about,
and who style themselves the Jubilee Singers. Of these we want to say
something.

As is well known, the abolition of slavery in the United States was
no deliberate act of national justice and humanity, but took place
in consequence of a proclamation issued by President Lincoln in the
exigency of the civil war in 1862. Without preparation for freedom,
over four millions of slaves were thrown on their own resources. They
could work, but comparatively few of them could read; for it had been
hitherto penal to teach them. Considering their state of ignorance, and
the good grounds they generally had for resenting past treatment, they
behaved with a singular degree of moderation. What, however, was to be
done with such a mass of illiterates, unaccustomed to self-reliance,
and who, even if desirous of being taught, had no means of being so?
Here comes in a bright feature of the Anglo-Saxon and Christian-minded
North. Within six months of the close of the war, societies of
benevolent individuals sprang up to extend the blessings of elementary
education to hordes of negroes; and in which movement ladies
appropriately took part. In the confusion and rankling animosities
that prevailed in the South, the efforts to uplift the negro by
means of schools were heroic, often dangerous, and always attended
with difficulty. There was likewise much good done by the American
Missionary Association. Schools, academies, and preaching stations
were at length established in quarters where they were most needed. To
complete the organisation of humanising influences, some thoughtful
individuals struck out the idea of establishing a University for the
higher education of the freed people, and training them to go forth as
ministers and teachers, as well as leaders in various departments of
civil life.

It was easier to conceive this brilliant idea than to bring it to
a practical issue. Where was the money to come from to build a
University, to equip it properly, and to pay for professors? There
would even be a difficulty in finding a site, for few land-owners in
a central situation would be willing to promote the elevation of the
coloured races. The history of the way in which these preliminary
difficulties were overcome is about as interesting a narrative as we
ever read. Immense spirit and ingenuity were developed in bringing the
scheme into shape. Without saying what it was for, a suitable site was
procured at the price of sixteen thousand dollars, near Nashville, the
capital of Tennessee. There were already a few frame-buildings on the
spot, which were employed to accommodate a school, as a beginning of
the proposed educational operations. The institution was called the
Fisk University, in honour of General Clinton B. Fisk, who had taken
a warm interest in the undertaking. The establishment was opened in
January 1866.

By-and-by the school, or we might say schools, throve. Thousands of
negroes were taught by a band of eager teachers, some of whom only a
short time before did not know one letter from another. There was an
honest enthusiasm in the whole affair that brought with it the blessing
of success. Again we are called on to note what good is often done by
the quiet unprompted and unselfish energy of a single individual. About
the time when the Fisk University was organised, there cast up a young
man named White, who, looking about for a means of livelihood, took up
the profession of teacher. He was the son of a village blacksmith in
the state of New York, had fought in several battles during the war,
and made himself useful in connection with the Freedman's Bureau at
Nashville. He had a special taste for vocal music, with which he amused
his leisure hours, and this accomplishment along with good business
habits, made him very acceptable as a coadjutor in the University.
White started a singing class among the negroes, male and female, who
came to get lessons in reading; and, pleased with their aptitude, he
fell upon the bold plan of drilling them as a choir of singers, who
should travel through the Northern cities in the hope of gathering
money to help the University funds. Getting his band into trim, he set
out with them on a musical excursion in October 1871, carrying with
them the good wishes of all, from the Principal of the institution
downwards.

In our own country, the getting up of a university, or even the
enlargement of one, is ordinarily a serious affair. Unless some wealthy
person has bequeathed money for the purpose, government is worried
for grants, and the public are worried for subscriptions. Keeping
proceedings of this kind in view, one can hardly fail to be amused
with the novel and heroic notion entertained by a dozen simple-minded
negroes in trying to collect fifty to a hundred thousand pounds
for a University by mere dint of singing a few simple hymns, which
illustrious dons of the musical profession would only laugh at. Yet,
this is what was attempted. Led by White as general manager, and by
Miss Wells, who took the oversight of the girls of the party, the
negroes went on their way, poorly clothed, and with barely means to
pay for a night's lodging. We observe by the history given of them,
that they trusted a good deal to kind treatment from Congregational
and other churches. They got the gratuitous use of chapels for their
concerts, or what were termed ‘praise services,’ and when they became
known, engagements freely poured in upon them. The sweetness of the
voices, the accuracy of the execution, the precision of the time,
and the wild simplicity of the words, astonished the audiences who
listened to them; the wonder being of course augmented by the fact of
their colour and the knowledge that only a few years ago these singers
had been slaves. Although generally well received, they had at first
numerous difficulties to encounter. The expense of travelling from town
to town was considerable. To give a distinctive character to their
enterprise, they assumed the name of Jubilee Singers, significant of
their emancipation in 1862, as the year of negro jubilee!

Their first eminent successes were at New York, Boston, and in
Connecticut. The good-will of the people took the shape not only
of money contributions, but of articles to furnish their proposed
University. A firm at Boston made them a present of a thousand dollar
organ. The singing campaign of three months over the principal parts
of the Northern states yielded, after paying all expenses, the sum of
twenty thousand dollars. The company were received at the University
with joy and thanksgiving--a prodigious triumph for White, the planner
and conductor of the expedition.

Encouraged by this success, a second campaign followed, and the result
was another sum of twenty thousand dollars, making forty thousand
that had now been secured. In this expedition, the party encountered
various caste prejudices. Halls were refused to them; at some
railway stations they were treated with indignity, and hotel-keepers
declined to give them accommodation. At one hotel where the keeper
received them, all the waiters deserted their posts, and the Jubilee
Singers waited on themselves and blackened their own boots. These
misadventures were taken with good-humour. Having so far done well
within American territory, the party resolved to try their fortune
in Great Britain, for which purpose they were favoured with letters
of introduction likely to advance their enterprise. Curiously enough,
cabin accommodation was refused to the party by one after another of
the leading ocean steamship lines. At last they were received on board
one of the Cunard steamers, and safely and agreeably landed in England.

The letters of introduction worked marvels. We are to contemplate the
Jubilee Singers one May afternoon in 1873, at Willis's Rooms, giving
a private concert to a select body of individuals, by invitation of
the Earl of Shaftesbury and a Committee of the Freedman's Aid Society.
There was a distinguished assemblage; the singers did their best, and
all were delighted. The Duke and Duchess of Argyll were foremost in
expressing a desire to promote the object of the party, and arranged
for a visit of the singers to Argyll Lodge the next day. This visit to
Argyll Lodge was a notable event. The Queen, who is always foremost
in works of intelligent benevolence, graciously attended for a short
time, and listened with manifest pleasure to the hymns which the
singers had learned in bondage. Her Majesty in departing, communicated
through the Duke her thanks for the gratification she had received.
These preliminary efforts insured to the Jubilee Singers a wide round
of popularity. Hospitable invitations poured in upon them from persons
of literary and political distinction. Among the most pleasurable
of these invitations was one to breakfast from Mr Gladstone, then
prime-minister, by whom they were cordially received. After breakfast,
the singers entertained the company with their wonderful music. The
intense feeling with which they sang _John Brown_, with the refrain--

    John Brown died that the slave might be free,

electrified the audience; and ‘never,’ said a spectator, ‘shall I
forget Mr Gladstone's rapt enthusiastic attention. His form was bent
forward, his eyes were riveted; all the intellect and soul of his great
nature seemed expressed in his countenance; and when they had finished,
he kept saying: “Isn't it wonderful? I never heard anything like it!”’

After spending three months in London, the Jubilee Singers proceeded
to give a round of concerts in the principal towns of England and
Scotland; being everywhere well received by large and appreciative
audiences. Financially, the excursion was eminently successful.
Nearly ten thousand pounds had been raised for the Fisk University,
besides special gifts for the purchase of philosophical apparatus, and
donations of books for the library. The money collected first and last
by the singers now amounted to about twenty thousand pounds, which
went a considerable way towards the building of the University, which
assumed shape and was opened in 1875. To reinforce the funds, another
visit to Great Britain was determined on. We cannot go into an account
of this second visit; it is enough to say that the singers again made
their appearance in all the principal towns of England and Scotland,
and were able to take back the sum of ten thousand pounds; making in
all as a result of their labours the sum of thirty thousand. Since
this time, the party have made various excursions, always increasing
the funds for the erection of college buildings; but of the exact
particulars we have no account. One of the objects in view is to erect
a building called the Livingstone Missionary Hall, designed, as we
understand, for the special preparation of missionaries for Africa. The
latest statement we see on the subject is that the Jubilee Singers have
gone on a visit to Germany, to secure funds to complete this building
and further equip the University for missionary work.

The vicissitudes of travelling at home and abroad during several years
led to changes in the company of singers. When members were obliged to
retire, others equally qualified took their place. At different times
twenty-four persons in all have belonged to the company. All of them
have been slaves or of slave parentage. Excepting a few mulattoes,
all have been of a pure negro type; and their respective histories
offer some interesting facts concerning the condition of people of
colour in the slave states up till the period of general emancipation.
It is gratifying to know that the extraordinary change of life from
privation and contumely to comfort and public respect has not uplifted
the feelings, or materially altered the habits of the members of
the corps. In their moral and religious obligations they have ever
been irreproachable. We are told that none of them uses tobacco; and
their English friends, whose hospitalities have been so abundant, are
equally surprised, if not gratified, to find that they are inveterate
abstainers from alcoholic liquors. Considering the temptations and
buffetings of their early life, there is not a little to admire in the
conduct as well as in the accomplishments of the several individuals
composing the party. The energetic yet modest way they have acquitted
themselves in the routine of the very peculiar duties imposed on them,
is probably not often met with in parties of higher pretensions.

We have now in brief told the story of the Jubilee Singers, and
it is more than ordinarily remarkable. A handful of freed negro
slaves undertaking by voluntary efforts to collect funds wherewith
to establish and support a University, having for its object the
higher education of the coloured population in the United States.
The enterprise has had no parallel. These negroes do not beg, nor do
they trouble people for subscriptions. They only try to raise funds
by the exercise of their talents in an honest line of industry, by
communicating pleasure to countless audiences. Amidst the frauds
and commercial rascalities of pompous pretenders that are becoming
a scandal to the age, the unselfish and noble endeavours of these
humble melodists stand out in marked contrast, as something to applaud
and to redeem human nature. The marvel of the enterprise has been
its universal success. High and low are equally pleased. Professing
no particular knowledge in music, but yielding to none in an ardent
admiration of the simpler class of national ballads and songs, we have
listened to the melodies of the Jubilee Singers with heartfelt delight.
Whether with or without instrumental accompaniment, the melodies might
be described as supplying a new relish. It has been remarked that the
greater number of the pieces are in the same scale as that in which
Scottish music is written, with the fourth and seventh tones omitted.
This would only indicate the untutored nature of their origin, and
the wonder is greater at the effects produced. Nothing is left for
us to add but an advice to our readers. It is, to take the earliest
opportunity to go and hear the JUBILEE SINGERS.

    W. C.



HELENA, LADY HARROGATE.


CHAPTER II.--AT CARBERY CHASE.

The horseman, at whose approach the interesting inmate of _The
Traveller's Rest_ had so abruptly withdrawn from the place of
observation whence he was contemplating the Elizabethan front of
Carbery Court, had scarcely recognised in the lounger smoking his pipe
beneath the elm, the bronzed seafaring fellow whom he had frequently
of late encountered. But as the man moved off with hasty step and an
evident dislike to observation, the rider's eyes for a moment followed
him.

‘A queer customer that,’ he said carelessly to himself. ‘What is he, I
wonder? If I saw that ugly face of his near Ashdown Park or Newmarket
Heath, I'd lay a trifle that he was a racing tout; in London I would
class him as a dog-dealer or dog-stealer, or possibly a sham smuggler,
one of those gruff longshore-men who waylay you with their contraband
cabbage-leaf _Trabucos_; but being here, I think he has more the look
of a real one.’

Having said which, he rode on, in the quiet enjoyment of a cigar,
towards the material of which it is unlikely that the leaf of any
British vegetable had contributed; while no sound but the jingling of
the bridle-rein and the tramp of the horse's feet broke the silence.
Overhead there soared aloft a living canopy of verdure, formed by
the mighty trees, that seemed to throw, as it were, a succession of
triumphal arches over the smooth carriage-road, flecked with broad bars
of light and shadow. There were vistas here and there, opening out
from between the massive trees, on which an artist's eye might have
feasted, dells clothed with beech and birch trees, fairy glens through
which trickled some brooklet fresh from its cradle among the ridges of
Dartmoor, pools on which the water-lily floated, and around which the
deer bent down their antlered heads to drink. But Jasper Denzil had
little or no appreciation of the charms of a landscape, and as he rode
on, the only comment which escaped him was evoked by the sight of the
superb old house, its many windows glistening golden in the sloping
sun, as though to challenge admiration.

‘Tiresome old jail!’ he said, tossing away the stump of his cigar. ‘A
nice place to be mewed up in, with the London season at high-pressure,
is this! If it were mine to do as I liked with’---- But the only son
and heir of Sir Sykes Denzil did not definitely state the course that
he should pursue were he undisputed proprietor of Carbery Chase.

Jasper, whose actual age may have been six or at the most seven and
twenty, was one of those men of whom it is puzzling to say whether
they look, for their years, very youthful or surprisingly old. He was
below the middle height, and his smooth pale face seemed at first
sight almost boyish; but the cold glance of the small blue eyes, the
firmness of the compressed lips, and the tell-tale lines that were
faintly visible at the angles of both eyes and mouth, were not such as
we associate with ingenuous youth.

Captain Denzil (Jasper had at an early age attained, thanks to the
golden ladder by which the offspring of wealthy men were wont to climb,
his captaincy in the light cavalry regiment to which he had till
recently belonged) had proved himself an expensive son to Sir Sykes.
His fair moustache, pallid face, and drawling accent were well known on
race-courses, and quite familiar in those darkened rooms at fashionable
clubs where the fickle goddess Chance is worshipped by card-players
around their lamp-lit green tables, while it is honest daylight in the
workaday world beyond.

He rode into the yard and dismounted; but instead of immediately
entering the house, lingered to exchange a thoughtful word or two as
to the signs of an incipient spavin in the off fore-leg of the fiery
chestnut which he had been riding.

‘Knew he wasn't sound of course, when I bought him,’ remarked the
captain, with calm philosophy. ‘A friend's horse never is, especially
when the friend is such an impulsive open-hearted fellow as Charley
Granger. But he was cheap, and he has a turn of speed, and I've entered
him for the Pebworth Steeplechase, and don't want to pay forfeit. So
see to the bandages, Phillips, will you; and don't have him out, except
for gentle exercise on the soft, this fortnight. We mustn't neglect
that leg.’

Jasper was not one of those who care for a horse, as some of us do, for
the horse's own sake, and out of genuine love for the noblest of the
dumb servants that do the bidding of mankind. But he did regard the
genus _equus_ as a very valuable instrument for gambling purposes, and
as such to be tended with jealous care and helped, when convenient, to
victory on the turf.

With a slow step and a careless indolent manner, Jasper Denzil crossed
the paved yard, and entered by a side-door the mansion that must
one day in the course of nature be his, but of which as a place of
residence we have already heard him express an opinion the reverse
of flattering. There was very little at Carbery Chase to amuse the
captain, cut off from his usual sources of excitement and a temporary
exile from London and its pleasures. It was sorry work this pottering
business of picking up a few ten-pound bets on country courses, or
winning paltry stakes by the aid of wretched platers. It was better
than nothing no doubt; precisely as at Monaco we see the ruined
millionaire, Spanish or Russian, eagerly playing for silver when his
last rouleaux of louis-d'or have taken wing; but he felt that it was
a sore degradation for one whose dash and coolness had won dubious
compliments from very great personages.

Traversing a passage, Jasper presently crossed the great hall--full
of costly marbles brought from Italy, in days when there were no
manufacturers of the spurious antique--and opened the door of what was
known as the morning-room, cheerful and bright as a morning-room should
be, and overlooking the rose-garden, then glorious in its glow and
blush of tender colour.

Two ladies were the occupants of the room, both young and both pretty,
though each of them had that likeness to Jasper (her only brother)
which we so constantly trace in members of the same family. Lucy it
is true was dark-haired and dark-eyed; while Blanche, the younger and
taller of the two, was delicately--perhaps too delicately--fair of
complexion, and had hair of the palest gold. Sir Sykes had been for
several years a widower; and all the Denzil family, with the exception
of the baronet himself, were now present in that room, through the
French windows of which came stealing in the fresh scent of roses.

‘I saw you, Jasper, from the pheasantry, as you came up the park; but
you did not see me,’ said Miss Denzil, smiling. ‘You did not stay,
then, to see the finish of the Pebworth cricket-match?’

‘I--no!’ answered Jasper with a yawn. ‘Cricket is amusing, I daresay,
to those who knock the ball about, or to those who run to pick it up
again, as the French countess said of our noble national game; but it
is slow--fearfully slow.’ And the captain yawned again.

‘Most things are, I am afraid, at Carbery,’ said Blanche gently.--‘We
have tried to amuse him--have we not, Lucy?--by dragging him with
us to such primitive merry-makings as lay within driving distance,
archery-meetings, flower-shows’----

‘Yes, and all manner of Arcadian entertainments of the same species,’
interrupted Jasper, drumming with his ringed fingers on the glass of
the open window near which he was standing. ‘I believe I had a narrow
escape from what they called a sillabub party at that old woman's (Lady
Di Horner's) house at Ottery St Luke's, with a cow on the lawn and the
rest of it. The natives, I suppose, like that kind of thing; I don't.’
There was a half-peevish lassitude in his tone, in his attitude, as he
spoke, which added emphasis to words that were, if ungracious, perhaps
not unkindly meant. But his sisters were not in the least offended that
their brother should shew so unaffectedly how little pleasure he took
in their society, and how complete was his distaste for their simple
pleasures and homely occupations. A grown-up brother is, in the eyes
of good girls, a hero by right of birth, and with Lucy and Blanche the
captain was a privileged person, not to be judged by the standards of
ordinary ethics.

‘If the governor,’ said Jasper, after a pause, ‘would ask people down
here--I mean of course after town is empty--a houseful of people of
the right sort, why then, one might get through the autumn and winter
without being moped to death.’

Lucy shook her head. ‘There is no chance, brother,’ she said, ‘that
papa should fill his house with what you would consider people of the
right sort. The Vanes will come of course, and the Henshaws, and’----

‘Never mind the rest of the names,’ broke in the captain with a lazy
brusqueness; ‘heavy county members, who know more of the points of
a bullock than they do of those of a horse; and their fat wives and
starched daughters. What have I done, to be buried alive in this way!’

Women have this merit, that they seldom retort, as they might sometimes
do with crushing effect, upon a man who bewails his hard lot, be
his self-pity ever so unreasonable. Lucy and Blanche Denzil knew,
or guessed, with tolerable accuracy that it was due to Jasper's own
extravagance that he no longer wore the gay trappings of a captain
of Lancers, and that the soles of his varnished boots were no longer
familiar with the Pall-Mall pavement.

‘I'll go in and see my father; he's in the library, I suppose?’ said
Jasper, and without waiting for an answer, he sauntered off.

Sir Sykes Denzil was a man of methodical habits, and his son's
conjecture that he would be found at that hour in the library was
quite warranted, not only by fact, but by his daily practice. On
his way thither the young man passed by the suite of drawing-rooms,
only the smallest of which was ever used, save on the occasions, not
too frequent, when some great dinner-party or possibly a dance at
Carbery Chase set all the neighbouring lanes and roads aglow with
carriage-lamps. With all its splendour, the Court was what might be
described as a dull house; the master of which had never made the most,
even for selfish purposes, of his large share in the good things of
this world.

The library, Sir Sykes's favourite room, was a stately apartment, with
gilt cornices and a richly painted ceiling. It overlooked the stone
terrace whereon, amidst statues and marble vases overbrimming with
scarlet geraniums, the peacocks strutted. The great central window was
of ancient stained glass, and from its quaint panes in their leaden
setting flashed forth the lost colours of the blue and crimson, deemed
inimitable for centuries past, but which probably owed their peculiar
beauty to the corroding touch of time. This window, of which honourable
mention was made in the county guide-book aforesaid, glimmered with
heraldic blazonry, wherein the couchant greyhounds of the present
owners of Carbery found no place.

The baronet, who was seated at his writing-table, strewn with papers,
looked up as he heard the opening of the door, and greeted his son
with rather a conventional smile of recognition. ‘So you are back with
us earlier than usual, Jasper,’ he said, in a tone that was polite,
but scarcely cordial. The young man's voice, as usual with him when
he addressed his father, had lost much of the languid insolence which
habit had rendered natural to him.

‘Yes, sir; I don't care much for cricket, so I did not stay to see the
end of it. So far as I could hear, the Zingari were beating the County
hollow. But as I said before, that style of thing is not much in my
line.’

‘Better for you, my boy, if it had been,’ returned the baronet dryly.
‘A young fellow cannot break his health or ruin his fortunes at
cricket, as more fashionable pastimes may help him to do.’

The captain winced and reddened. ‘I didn't expect a lecture, father,’
he said peevishly. ‘Indeed I'm not likely to forget the crasher I came
down with, that my misfortunes should be thrown in my teeth every day I
live.’

‘We will let the subject drop,’ said the baronet after a momentary
pause. ‘Who were at Pebworth to-day? No lack of company, I suppose? Our
friends hereabouts are not all as complete cosmopolitans as you are,
Jasper; and some of the ladies at anyrate may have gone there in hopes
of seeing Devon win the game.’

Jasper half sullenly made answer that he could scarcely say who were
there. ‘Fulfords and Courtenays and the Carews, and the people from
Prideaux Park, yes; and the De Vere girls, and Harrogate their brother.
The old Earl wasn't there, and the ladies went on horseback.’

‘Lady Gladys looks well on horseback,’ observed Sir Sykes with a
sidelong glance at his son.

‘Yes; and rides nicely,’ answered Jasper with an air of the most utter
indifference; and then the eyes of the father and the son met, not
frankly, but as the eyes of two wary fencing-masters might do at the
instant of crossing swords. Sir Sykes and Jasper were not, so far as
outward seeming went, in the least alike. The common attribute of
worldliness they did indeed share, but neither in looks nor in manner
did they resemble each other. The baronet was a tall and handsome
man, whose dark hair was now dashed with gray, and his high forehead
deeply lined, but who still presented to the eyes of the world a showy
exterior and a bearing that was at once dignified and urbane. That he
was not in perfect health could only be conjectured from the slowness
of his step, and those faintly marked furrows near the corners of the
shapely mouth, in which a shrewd physician might have read of mischief
silently at work; but to unprofessional scrutiny he appeared simply as
a gentleman of a goodly presence.

A melancholy man, albeit a proud and a courteous one, Sir Sykes was
known to be. And singularly enough, the baronet's sadness was supposed
to date from the day when he had lost, long years ago, the eldest of
his three daughters, a little girl to whom he was rumoured to have
been unusually attached. This was the odder, because Sir Sykes was
not the sort of man who is generally credited with very deep feelings
or a peculiar strength of family affection. He had borne his wife's
decease with polished equanimity; but those who had known him in his
early poverty and in his subsequent prosperity averred that the lord of
Carbery had never been the same man since the death of this child.

‘I wish,’ said Sir Sykes, speaking slowly, and poising a gold-hafted
paper-knife between his soft white fingers--‘I wish I could see you
married and settled.’

‘The settling, if, as I suppose, it means the making of a suitable
settlement, makes the main impediment to marrying, with some of us at
least,’ rejoined Jasper with mock gravity; but before his father could
reply, a servant entered bringing a letter. Sir Sykes mechanically took
up the letter from the silver tray and as mechanically opened it. But
his eyes had hardly glanced at the first half-page before a great and
sudden change came over his calm face; he grew white, almost livid, to
his very lips, and let his hand which held the open letter drop heavily
upon the table.

‘Are you ill, sir?’ said Jasper quickly and with a sort of anxiety
unusual with him. It was impossible to avoid taking notice of the
baronet's very evident emotion; impossible too not to connect the cause
of it with the letter which Sir Sykes held in his hand. But the master
of Carbery Chase rallied himself, and though his face was even ghastly
in its pallor and his breath came painfully, he managed to smile as he
rejoined: ‘Not ill. It is a mere pain, a spasm at most, which comes at
times, but goes as quickly, or nearly so, as it comes. It is a trifle,
not worth the talking about. It is getting late, and I have a note or
two to write and some papers to look over before the dressing-bell
rings. We shall meet at dinner presently.’

Jasper rose to go. ‘I hardly like’---- he began.

‘I am better; I am well; it is nothing,’ interrupted Sir Sykes
irritably; and then blandly added: ‘I thank you, my dear boy, for your
solicitude, but I am best alone.’

Jasper had not proceeded two paces along the carpeted corridor before
he heard the key of the library door turned from within.

‘I'd give a cool hundred,’ said this exemplary youth, ‘to look over
my father's shoulder as he reads that letter. To have a hold on the
governor would’---- He left the rest of the sentence unspoken, and
passed on, leaving Sir Sykes in the locked-up library to the company of
his own solitary thoughts.



TIGER-SHOOTING.


Tiger-shooting in India differs a trifle from the tame pursuit of
game in England--a very different thing indeed from the miserable
amusement of the _battue_, in which hundreds of defenceless creatures
are shot down without any chance of danger to the shooter. To go out
tiger-shooting is to run the risk of encountering a deadly enemy, which
on grounds of public policy it is of importance to destroy. So much as
a preliminary observation.

The danger connected with tiger-shooting varies very much in proportion
to the conditions under which it is prosecuted. Thus a man on foot
following the fresh tracks of a tiger up to his lair, and shooting
him as he lies, or following him up on foot when wounded, incurs the
maximum risk. In all cases, after being wounded, ungovernable fury and
a fierce longing for revenge take the place of that instinctive fear
or shyness of man which tigers share with all other wild animals. This
instinctive dread of man is so well known to the tribes who inhabit the
forests of India, that even solitary individuals will hail the prospect
of suddenly encountering a tiger, provided, of course, that he is not a
man-eater. They know their safety at such a moment lies in preserving a
composed attitude and demeanour. The tiger will often yield the right
of way; but if the human subject finds it necessary to set that example
in the way of politeness, he knows it to be absolutely essential to the
preservation of his life that he should do so with every appearance
of self-possession, and without any signs of fear or precipitancy.
A passage in _King Richard III._ accurately reflects the line of
conduct which should be observed, holding good as it does equally with
reference to the tiger:

    To fly the boar, before the boar pursues,
    Were to incense the boar to follow us,
    And make pursuit where he did mean no chase.

In proportion to the successful days, the number of blank days in
tiger-shooting is extraordinarily large, as the experience of most
shikarees will confirm. This is owing to ‘hanks’ or beats being so
often badly planned or mismanaged; through which tigers escape which
might otherwise have easily been brought to book. The dry and denuded
state of an Indian jungle during the hot weather makes that the most
fitting season for tiger-shooting. Indeed it is the only season in
which the sport can be undertaken with a reasonable prospect of
success. The available covers for a tiger are then much reduced in
number and extent; and in the inverse ratio are the chances increased
of the animal's not betaking himself to some distant locality before
the plan of action which is intended to effect his destruction has
had time to develop itself. In other words, any faint and accidental
signs of a disturbance in a tiger's vicinity will rouse him from his
lair, and drive him to green patch or snug retreat miles away, if the
weather be cool and cover abundant; whereas with very hot weather and
extensive denudation of shade, he will prefer remaining where he is
until the sounds assume too decided a character to be mistaken; when
the probabilities are that the sportsman will be perfectly ready on his
making a move.

The great point to remember in arranging to hunt a tiger is that one
of his most prominent characteristics is cunning--and that this _must
be met by cunning_. This is not sufficiently studied, especially by
beginners. Eager and enthusiastic for the fray, and for the thrill
of satisfaction which the all-important moment of the actual kill
inspires, the inexperienced sportsman is too apt to overlook those
precautions and preparations which are essential aids to success; or
he relies upon others for doing in the above respects what he should
attend to himself. The first thing to be done on arriving at the ground
where a tiger has safely been marked down by the early despatched
scouts is to acquaint one's self thoroughly with its topography. The
nature of the ground varies very much; consisting sometimes of a pile
of rocks rising from a plain, of a confused mass of hills, or of a
large single hill, a river or small water-course stocked with green
bushes, and with level jungle or perhaps open ground bordering on both
sides; and so on. On being roused from his lair in say a water-course
by the beaters, a tiger is very likely to cross over into the jungle,
especially if another ravine is not far off to which he can retire. He
does so with the express object of getting rid of his disturbers as
soon as possible; or let us say that instinct tells him that an entire
change of locality is most conducive to his safety. On the other hand,
if there be no adjoining cover, a tiger will keep to the same channel
and steal along its course. The difference between the two cases
represents the comparative prospect of a tiger being bagged. When a
tiger is compelled to steal along the channel from which he has been
roused, the prospect becomes nearly a certainty, assuming the ‘hank’ to
be conducted in a correct manner.

A very slight noise, such as slight coughing, will sometimes start
a tiger; while he will at other times refuse to move, although even
shots should be fired into the bush or among the rocks where he may
be lying concealed. As Colonel Rice, late of the Bombay army, very
justly remarks in his book entitled _Tiger-shooting in India_--and the
writer's own experience is entirely corroborative of that statement--no
two tigers can be depended on for behaving exactly alike under the
same circumstances. An old tiger, and especially one which has been
hunted before, is extremely wary, and very difficult to circumvent
with even good management; while a young one readily falls a victim,
like any other greenhorn. A tigress with young cubs is always very
savage, and will sometimes charge anybody approaching her den or other
resting-place before her own presence is at all suspected. Three men
in the service of the writer were once obliged to take refuge on a
rock only some six or seven feet high, where an angry tigress bayed
them, and repeatedly threatened to charge home for at least two hours.
One of the men was armed with a sword, and the other two had nothing
but sticks in their hands. The tigress crouched at the very foot of
the rock, which was small but flat-topped, over and over again. She
there alternately blinked and glared at the unfortunate men, who only
succeeded in keeping her off from actually springing on them by dint
of vigorous and incessant shouting, and constantly changing front,
according as the tigress herself kept moving from one side of the rock
to another, and occasionally retiring a few paces, and then stealing
forward and crouching again. The state of their throats and the
terribly husky whisper to which their voices were in the end reduced,
may easily be imagined. However, down to their humblest followers,
hunters as a rule are a merry set, and directly actual danger has
passed away the danger is forgotten.

In large covers there are often outlets and lines of exit, in addition
to those guarded by a party of say four or five sportsmen, who post
themselves at the most important points. These all require to be
blocked up, so that a tiger, should he attempt to escape by any of
them, may be readily turned on to a path which will draw him under
fire. One of the covers in which the writer was fortunate enough to
bag several tigers in different years, consisted of a river of about a
hundred and fifty yards width, with ravines branching out at different
points, and low hills bordering the banks. It was impracticable
with fewer than a hundred men, and was best driven by elephants, in
consequence of the thick and tangled state of the bushes. It was a
piece of ground of the kind described above, offering numerous outlets,
as the cover extended right under one of the banks, and ran for some
distance along the length of the river; while the bank itself was
of no great height, and might be ascended in a moment at any point.
The method of blocking up the outlets which the sportsmen themselves
cannot watch, is to place over them, on trees, the sharpest and most
intelligent of the men that can be selected from among the beaters.
They should be instructed to strike the tree with a stone taken up in
the hand for that purpose, or to employ any other simple process of
producing a noise, so that the tiger may be headed back the moment he
is seen to be advancing, and his intention is unmistakable. A blank
shot will be necessary to turn a _rapidly_ advancing tiger; and a
matchlock or spare gun in the hands of a competent person should in
such cases be kept in reserve. Many of the rivers in India during the
hunting season are perfectly dry beds, except as to a mere rill or
narrow stream. The actual water's edge is, however, almost sure to be
the tiger's position, if fringed by bushes sufficiently large to afford
him shelter; for he delights in lapping the water frequently, and in
laving his limbs during the hottest hours of the day.

With respect to the height a tiger will clear at a bound or series of
bounds, some uncertainty seems to prevail. In Captain Shakspeare's
_Wild Sports of India_, the author, when twelve feet up a tree,
scarcely thought himself beyond the reach of the man-eater he was
expecting, as he believed a tiger capable of springing over that
height. In the book of Colonel Gordon Gumming (a brother of the African
hunter), a sad case is recorded of his gun-bearer being pulled out of
a tree and killed by a wounded tiger through incautiously standing
only some eight feet above the ground. But points of this nature are
altogether of a secondary character, the slightest vantage-ground being
sufficient if the requisites are preserved of a cool head and steady
hand to guide the management of an efficient weapon.

To the generality of tastes, the most satisfactory method of hunting
tigers is with and upon a well-trained elephant. But when the
arrangements are on a very extensive scale, they fail of anything like
due effect. On special occasions, elephants have been employed in the
hunting-field by the score, and also by the hundred, as in the case of
the Prince of Wales's excursions in Nepaul. A cordon of eight hundred
elephants was then employed to inclose a jungle and to drive the game
on to a central point; but the bag, though good, was disproportionately
small, looking to the means and labour employed. Better results might
have been obtained if the ground had been traversed in sections with
only a few elephants, though this would have required more time, which
probably could not be spared. The great object to be kept in view in
approaching a tiger for the purpose of obtaining a fair shot, is to do
as little as possible towards startling the beast until within a few
yards, even though obstructions such as bushes or rocks intervene; for
when once a ‘scare’ is excited, a tiger will break through an inclosing
line of elephants and probably escape altogether; whereas by being
quietly followed up with scouts previously sent forward to note and
telegraph his progress, the chances are all in favour of the sportsman.

In hilly tracts where the hills run in long ridges and are flanked
or intersected by ravines, as in Rajpootana, tiger-shooting may at
all times be conducted on foot with comparative safety. This was
successfully done by Colonel (then Lieutenant) Rice from twenty to
twenty-five years back. He never once employed an elephant, and treats
the notion of doing so with a certain amount of disdain. Confessing
to a desire to employ his rifle on the tigers in the island of
Singapore, which is (or certainly was) very much infested by them,
he remarks: ‘There the old notion prevails that without elephants
tigers are best let alone.’ Evidently the Colonel does not consider
the elephant a necessary adjunct to the sport, nor did he really find
it so. There can, however, be no question that in large swamps and
grass tracts, and in fact under all circumstances, an elephant is a
most powerful auxiliary, whose importance cannot be over-rated. If
trees and such positions are taken to meet the tiger when he first
breaks, the advantage of afterwards following him up on an elephant if
only wounded, is too obvious to need any comment. But it is of course
absolutely necessary that the elephant should be one which can be
depended on for making a firm stand before a tiger. The more steady the
elephant, the better the aim that can be taken; but the uninitiated
should know that there is always some slight oscillatory movement in
an elephant, so that a small though perhaps an infinitesimal measure
of calculation has to be applied in shooting from its back. From a
neglect of this necessity, tigers are sometimes missed at absurdly
close quarters, though there may be no actual change in the elephant's
position to account for the circumstance, and to justify the miss. On
the other hand, as sometimes happens, an elephant may very seriously
incommode or perhaps precipitate his rider to the ground, by actually
charging a tiger and dropping down on his knees, in order the better
to crush the foe. At the same time, an elephant that bolts jeopardises
his rider's life in a worse degree, by the reckless manner in which he
pursues his flight. Should the jungle consist of trees, there is almost
a certainty of the howdah being dashed up against them, or of its being
swept off by some projecting bough, which affords a clear passage to
the body of the elephant, but not to the howdah and those seated in it.
The latter, therefore, run a serious risk of being badly injured or of
losing their lives.

One important essential for the obtaining of sport is a liberal
expenditure of money. It both sweetens labour and smooths the path
to danger. To keep an elephant in prime hearty condition costs about
fifteen pounds a month, and good elephants may occasionally be borrowed
from native chiefs through the instrumentality of political officers;
but unless one has influence enough to insure his being thus favoured,
he should make up his mind to hunt on foot. Many men have done, and
still do so with the most satisfactory results; while with respect
to elephants, some special elements of risk exist, which prove fatal
entirely from a want of common forethought. Thus, an unfortunate
officer of one of Her Majesty's regiments serving in India ventured
into a jungle after a tiger, seated merely on the pad on which a howdah
is made to rest; he was thrown off, and fell into the jaws of the
enraged beast. A person seated in this manner is at any moment liable
to be thrown by a sudden swerve, and such an occurrence is extremely
likely when a tiger charges, or suddenly appears before an elephant.
The writer remembers an instance within his own experience of being
mounted on an elephant off whose back at least a hundred tigers had
at various times been killed, and which was therefore generally very
staunch, and of there being a second and third elephant on each side
of the first; yet on a panther very little bigger than a large cat
charging from a bush, the three elephants together turned in an instant
and ignominiously retreated for about a dozen yards. The shock of the
movement was so great that he was forced back on the seat from which he
had just risen the moment before, and must have infallibly been hurled
to the ground had he been seated on a pad only. It should therefore be
adopted as a rule never to be deviated from, that a tiger should not
be approached on an elephant otherwise than in a properly constructed
howdah.

But as a contrast to the behaviour of the panther above referred to, a
large tiger will sometimes altogether refuse to face an elephant, and
will retreat from point to point of a cover until he at last becomes an
easy victim; which shews in what extremely opposite lights the subject
requires to be looked at.

The duty of arranging a proper plan of attack upon a tiger in any
known position is sometimes delegated by the English sportsman to
his head native shikaree, who is qualified for that task both by a
certain aptitude and a considerable amount of experience; but the
best of such men are apt sometimes to fail, and close supervision of
them is consequently always necessary. Besides, they are generally
trained by those who have them in their service; and a long course of
association and reciprocal action between master and servant is needed
to produce an efficient henchman. It is therefore advisable for men
who are about to begin tiger-shooting to take their initiatory lessons
in jungle-craft under the guidance of some brother-sportsman, who can
be looked on as a sort of distinguished professor who has already
graduated with honours in his studies.



THE BELL-RINGER.

IN FOUR CHAPTERS.


CHAPTER II.--THE STORY OF RUTH.

‘I can't think whatever's come over Nathan; he's that queer there's no
such thing as making of him out.’ This remark was addressed by Mark
Day, the tenor bell-ringer, to Obadiah Lang, who rang the third bell, a
few days after the events narrated in the previous chapter.

‘Ay,’ responded Obadiah. ‘There's the practisin' for Christmas-eve, the
practisin' for the carols and for the hymns a' Christmas-day; he don't
seem to care about them at all, and when I says to him: “How about the
evergreens for the church?” he stared hard, and said: “I'll see;” and
walked off.’

‘That ain't all neither,’ said Mark Day. ‘He's wonderful curious about
his house. He don't ask nobody in, but stands agen the door, with it
in his hand, and seems afraid all the time you are talking to him. My
opinion is, trouble's turned his brain. If he don't alter, I shall
speak to the parson.’

‘Don't do nothing you're sorry for afterwards,’ replied Obadiah.
‘Y' see Nathan ain't like one of us; he mostly have his reasons for
everythink, which ain't the case with everybody nowadays: it's all talk
and no do with the many.’

At this moment some one made his way to the churchyard, and to that
some one, the men touched their hats respectfully. It was Oliver
Peregrine. He brushed past quickly; but had the men been keen
observers, they might have noticed that his face was pale and his air
abstracted. He was going for a long and solitary walk, his custom
when any matter disturbed him, or as Gertrude Peregrine said, ‘when
he had a fit of the blues.’ He was not favoured by that young lady,
who secretly wondered how Patricia could fancy him. To her sister,
Gertrude said nothing of her choice, for Patricia was reserved and
distant even to her nearest of kin. Few could imagine how deeply she
loved this silent studious man. He himself was far from guessing the
depth of her affection, his own being centred not on Patricia but on
her inheritance, which would be his by marriage. All his life he had
coveted a position with wealth to support it; had determined to make it
his; had planned and worked for it; when, just as he was on the point
of attaining his ends, Death stepped in, and for the time frustrated
his hopes. Again the time drew near, and again Death intervened; while
impatient of the delay, the arrival of Colonel Lindsay, whom he well
remembered, proved a further source of annoyance.

Oliver and the Colonel had been secret antagonists in days gone by;
for the latter, a brave, honest, God-fearing soldier, disliked the
character of the younger man, whom he mistrusted; and from his long
and close intimacy with Squire Peregrine, felt at liberty to search
into matters of which he had heard, but seen nothing. After some years
spent in India, he had returned, to find changes at Linden Hall which
grieved and even displeased him. He felt more than ever disposed to
mistrust Oliver, but like a skilful tactician, knew that his plans must
be laid with the utmost secrecy; his enemies being the obstinate and
unforgiving disposition of his old friend, the craftiness of Oliver,
and his ignorance of the whereabouts of the outlawed son, to whom he
had acted as god-father, and for whom he entertained a true affection.
He had heard the story as related by Dobson, whose fidelity was
unimpeachable; but found that even that faithful dependent was obliged
to acknowledge that the case was as clear as the day, and that Mr
Bertram would never be forgiven by his father.

‘Never, sir,’ concluded Dobson; ‘not if he was dying.’

‘And how about the girl's brother, Dobson? You mentioned her
brother. Is he still alive? And does he manifest a vindictive spirit
towards--towards my god-son?’

‘Not he, sir. Nathan Boltz has forgiven him years ago. Poor Ruth
forgave him long before she died; but my master will never forgive him.
My mistress died with his name upon her lips; I believe waiting for his
return had killed her. It is a sad history, sir.’

Colonel Lindsay had made up his mind he would hear the story from
the lips of Nathan himself, and at once. Therefore, on the evening
of the day when Mark Day and Obadiah Lang had conversed respecting
Nathan, there came a gentle tap on the cottage door, which the owner
cautiously opened. In a few words the Colonel made it known that he
desired to speak to him; and with some hesitation Nathan bid him
enter. The Colonel had excused himself after dinner from returning
to the drawing-room, and had wrapped a large cloak over him by way
of disguise; this and his fur cap and muffler prevented Nathan from
discovering the rank of his visitor until they were seated in the neat
and pleasant room in which he usually lived. The cottage staircase led
from the kitchen to the floor above; but the door which opened upon the
kitchen was shut.

Nathan waited for Colonel Lindsay to speak; he knew that he was a
visitor at the Hall, and yet he shewed little anxiety concerning what
he might have to say to him. But when the Colonel, with soldierly
authority, made known who he was, and that he came for the purpose of
hearing the sad story of his sister's life, in order to forward the
ends of justice; then Nathan's hands trembled, his lip quivered, and in
a low voice he begged to be excused.

‘No,’ replied Colonel Lindsay with decision and yet kindness in his
tone; ‘you must tell me the whole of the particulars, either here or in
a court of justice; for I am determined to search them out, for reasons
which I shall hereafter explain.’

Nathan gazed at his visitor inquiringly, then gathering his resolution
together, he said: ‘If your object, Colonel Lindsay, be to bring the
offender to justice, I must utterly decline either in this place or any
other to open my lips upon the subject. I will never betray him. I mean
that I will give no evidence, not even if I am punished for withholding
it.’ He spoke under considerable excitement, but still with caution in
his manner.

This was not lost upon the Colonel, who answered: ‘Would you shield
your sister's betrayer, the man who beguiled her, and then left her to
sustain herself as best she might?’

‘He did not do that,’ replied Nathan; ‘she received an allowance as
long as she lived. But I promised her on her dying bed never to reveal
anything concerning her; and can I, ought I to break that promise?’

‘Yes!’ answered the Colonel decidedly. ‘Nathan Boltz, you may trust me
not to make use of my knowledge against the author of all this sorrow,
for the sake of my old friend, for the sake of his son. Can you not
trust me?’

‘Yes, sir, I will trust you; but you will not’---- He paused.

‘I will do nothing without your consent,’ said Colonel Lindsay. ‘And
now, let me hear it, for time passes. Please, begin at the beginning.’

‘My father,’ began Nathan, ‘was a Dutch sailor. My mother died when
Ruth was thirteen, and I two years older. After her death--which
happened at a time when my father had returned from a voyage--he did
not go to sea any more, but became a labourer under Squire Peregrine,
and kept a house for me and Ruth. The Squire was very kind to my father
and his orphans; and after a time Ruth learned the dressmaking, and
I was apprenticed to the head gardener at the Hall. My sister was a
beautiful girl, the belle of the village, and as modest as she was
pretty. We were very happy, until the Squire's son came home from
college, and began to notice Ruth in a manner which led my father to
warn her to beware. She smiled in her innocence, and told him he was
mistaken; and as we saw little or nothing of Mr Bertram, the feeling
died out. Thus matters remained for more than a year. But when I was
twenty and Ruth eighteen, the blow fell with crushing effect upon us
all. We rose one morning to find her gone, and to hear that Mr Bertram
had also disappeared, after forging his father's name for five hundred
pounds. It was useless to pursue the fugitives, even if we had had any
clue to their flight; and our desire was frustrated by orders from
Squire Peregrine to abandon all search. Day after day we waited and
hoped. But it was some months before poor Ruth made her way to us,
footsore and weary, and begging forgiveness for her sin. Then we knew
that he had not married her; and my father went nigh mad with anger. We
had been poor, but free from shame. He thanked God that my mother was
dead; and followed her soon after the death of Ruth's baby, which lived
only a few weeks. From time to time Mr Bertram sent her money, and when
I mentioned him, she always answered: “Have patience, Nathan. He will
marry me soon. Do not question me; only trust me.” I was very bitter
against him then, and would have killed him if we had met. I told Ruth
so; and she shuddered and prayed we might never meet until he had done
her justice. So the weary time went on; poor Ruth hopeful and patient;
so patient, that I used to wonder how she could live alone year after
year and not try to find him, not go mad with grief and disappointment.
But so it was. I could never understand her. We cannot all bear trouble
alike, sir’----

Nathan stopped suddenly, and turned his face away.

‘Go on,’ said Colonel Lindsay, rather anxiously, consulting his watch;
and Nathan obeyed.

‘My sister and I lived together in this manner for more than ten years.
She supported herself by dressmaking, and was fully employed, for her
history was known, and she was deeply pitied. As she received a regular
allowance from Mr Bertram, she must have known at such times where he
was; but never allowed me to see or hear anything of her proceedings.
Sometimes my violence frightened her. I know now how blind and wrong
I was. The Squire, who is a true gentleman, gave me the office of
bell-ringer and sexton, and made us many valuable presents; and it was
understood that no mention should ever be made by either of us of the
blight and sorrow of our life. But one day when my sister heard from
Mr Dobson that his young master's name was struck out of the will, and
that the young ladies were to be brought up in ignorance that they had
a brother, she came home in great distress; and one evening soon after,
when she had been with some work to a distant farm, she fainted on this
spot where I now sit, causing me great alarm. She would not reveal the
cause of her illness; and from that time, which was two years from the
date of Mr Bertram's flight, I said nothing to her of her sorrow and
its cause. Ten years after that her health gave way, and I saw that her
sickness was unto death. Inwardly, I vowed vengeance on the man who had
wrought this foul wrong; outwardly, I remained calmly waiting for the
end. Every luxury was sent her from the Hall; but Mrs Peregrine did not
visit her; no doubt she was forbidden, as her nature was both gentle
and forgiving. However, when the end was near at hand, Ruth implored me
to fetch her, and I did so. The urgency of my manner prevailed, and she
came immediately, alone and on foot. It was too late; Death had arrived
before her; and after a few kind words to me, she left. I found all
the money Ruth had received from Mr Bertram put by, and used a portion
of it for funeral expenses. From the day of her death I was a changed
man. She had besought me, charged me, as I would meet her hereafter,
to conquer even a desire for vengeance, and had commended Mr Bertram
to my care and protection, should he ever return; and so vehement
was her manner and so solemn her tone, that I made a vow to obey her
dying injunction; and have kept it. I have forgiven, as I hope to be
forgiven.’

Again Nathan paused, while a strange peacefulness gathered over his
face.

‘Have you finished?’ inquired his visitor, much moved.

‘Not quite. Soon after the date of Ruth's death, all remittances
ceased; and I concluded that he who had sent them was dead. This was
one circumstance worth notice. The other, that shortly before her death
Mrs Peregrine sent for me, and charged me that should her son return, I
would neither do nor say anything to widen the breach between him and
his father. For “Nathan,” she said, “I feel convinced that some day he
_will_ return. Therefore, for the sake of poor Ruth, who is gone, and
for my sake, who will soon follow her, promise me that you will do what
you can to bring them together; promise me, Nathan! I have always been
so grieved that I was too late to hear what your sister had to say.
Poor girl, she had a claim on us, although the world would have smiled
at the idea. It is just possible that she might have been married to my
son. What do you think?”

‘I told her I thought not; but added that my sister had been very
secret in all that she had said and done.

‘“'Tis a great relief to speak of my poor boy,” said Mrs Peregrine, who
seemed to forget all difference in rank; “and this will be the last
time, Nathan, that we may meet on earth. Bear my words in mind. My end
is peace, but one cannot have peace without forgiveness.”

‘I left her almost awe-stricken; it was so wonderful to have had this
lesson twice repeated. Neither had said a word of the wrong done to
them; it seemed to have faded out before the joy and peace which filled
their hearts, and which now fills mine.’

Nathan paused, and again the bright look stole into his face.

‘Well?’ said Colonel Lindsay.

‘That is all, sir,’ answered Nathan, evidently relieved that his
visitor rose to go.

‘Nothing more?’ pursued the Colonel, as he buttoned his cloak. He
looked straight at Nathan, whose eyes fell before the soldier's
searching glance.

‘No,’ he hesitated--‘nothing.’

There was silence. Suddenly a voice from a room above called ‘Nathan!’
twice.

‘Whose voice is that?’ exclaimed Colonel Lindsay. ‘I thought you lived
alone?’

‘I do; but this is a friend who is ill, and is staying with me for a
time. Excuse me, sir, but I am wanted.’

Again the call for Nathan.

‘Go to your friend,’ said the Colonel; ‘I will not detain you. After
you have attended to his wants, come back to me.’

Very unwillingly Nathan opened the staircase door; but no sooner had he
turned to go upstairs than he found his visitor behind him.

‘Go on,’ he said, as he paused. ‘I can read you like a book.’ Another
moment, and Colonel Lindsay had clasped the hands of Bertram Peregrine,
and Nathan had left the two alone.

Alone with Bertram, the Colonel heard his story, sympathised in his
trials, related all that had been told him by the Squire, and promised
to act as mediator between father and son; for he entertained no doubts
as to the truth of the statement, having always believed his god-son
sinned against rather than sinning. At the same time he congratulated
himself on his true perception of character.

When Colonel Lindsay returned to the Hall he was in a fever of
anxiety, distress, and hope; what steps to take he could not tell, but
determined to have but one confidant, Nathan Boltz.


CHAPTER III.--TOLLING THE CURFEW.

Oliver Peregrine hated Nathan Boltz; but nobody suspected it, least of
all Nathan himself. Oliver longed for the time to come when as Squire
of Linden he could shew his hatred, for which he considered he had
satisfactory reasons: one being, that Nathan was a favourite in the
village and Oliver was disliked; another, that he was a protégé of the
Squire's; a third, that he had been a great hinderance to Oliver's
schemes. And now this Colonel Lindsay seemed to be smitten with the
bell-ringer, for he frequently engaged him in conversation and met him
in the belfry to inspect the bells. Evidently the Colonel was mad on
the subject of bell-ringing.

But at the end of a fortnight it occurred to Oliver, who was always
prying and suspecting, that their visitor must have some deeper motive
than this love of bells and their ringers. He set himself to watch.
Just now the Hall was very quiet. Christmas would be kept entirely by
themselves, therefore Oliver had plenty of leisure. He said nothing to
Patricia of his suspicions; he was not communicative, and she forbore
to question him.

To Gertrude, Oliver had never appeared more distasteful than at this
time; and she missed the presence of the sweet sister in whom she
had confided; for Gertrude had her romance. A very degrading affair
Patricia would have called it. However, no one knew of it. Indeed
Gertrude had dared scarcely confess it to herself. She loved with the
depth and purity of a Christian maiden. Whom? None other than Nathan
the bell-ringer! Fearful was Gertrude of whispering his name even in
the solitude of her chamber. Yet it afforded her a melancholy pleasure
that he should have prepared the last resting-places of her mother and
sister, and that in some manner, she did not quite know how, his life
should be connected with her family.

‘But what recompense can we make him,’ she would argue, ‘in return for
Bertram's wrong? Even my father acknowledges that he did this wrong,
and has made him pay in full the penalty of his sin.’ And then she
would sigh, as she felt how hopeless, how almost criminal was her love.
In vain, however, she struggled against it. In her eyes Nathan was the
true type of a gentleman; and ‘Oh!’ she would cry, ‘if Bertram felt
thus for Ruth, how could he--how could he forsake her in her time of
need?’

Sometimes Gertrude had feared that Oliver Peregrine would discover
her secret, or suspect her, from her having already refused certain
eligible connections approved by her father; but she had no cause to
fear: her family had not the most remote suspicion of the truth.

Christmas drew near, while Colonel Lindsay continued his visits to the
belfry, where, as we know, certain weighty considerations detained
him in converse with Nathan; and several times Oliver had watched the
Colonel emerge from the cottage of the man he so detested. At last,
with some difficulty, Oliver managed to play the eavesdropper, and
gathered from their conversation that the subject of it was closely
connected with his uncle.

‘What--if?’ he muttered to himself, but dared not complete his
question; and as he walked home, after the Colonel had left Nathan,
he grew more and more uneasy, and determined to find out for himself
the secret of Nathan's attic window, where for the last fortnight a
light had been observed. Conceive his annoyance when, on commencing a
cross-examination of the Colonel in a friendly tone, he found the old
soldier on his guard, and ready to parry every attack. Foiled on every
side by the experienced veteran, Oliver altered his tactics, and made
up his mind to use force, as stratagem availed nothing, and to wring
the secret from Nathan Boltz.

It was on a dark starless evening that Nathan set out to toll the
curfew, accompanied by Bertram Peregrine, who having recovered in a
great measure from the effects of his fatigue and exposure, desired
to revisit the well-remembered church, in which many of his ancestors
were buried. Colonel Lindsay had arranged to meet him there to decide
upon an immediate course of action; and the belfry was to be the scene
of their consultation. Nathan and his patient soon reached the belfry,
whence the tolling of the curfew was to be the signal for the Colonel
to join them. But Oliver had invented a mysterious communication which
should detain the Colonel in waiting for an imaginary visitor, and
give him the opportunity of going instead; therefore while the soldier
waited impatiently at the Hall for his unknown correspondent, Oliver
borrowed his cloak, and opening the door in the wall before mentioned,
entered the churchyard and repaired to the church.

‘I hear the Colonel; he has just come in,’ said Nathan. ‘Will you shew
a light, Mr Bertram?’ As he spoke he continued the tolling of the
curfew; and his companion descended the stairs with the lantern in his
hand; but he saw no one, for Oliver was concealed in the deep shadow of
the porch.

Just as Bertram stepped forward saying: ‘This way, Colonel Lindsay,’
the lantern was dashed from his hand, and a violent blow felled him to
the ground. He rose and grappled with his antagonist, who maintained
a dead silence, until slipping over the steps into the interior of
the church, they fell with violence on the stone floor; at the same
moment Bertram felt a sharp wound in his side, and uttered a loud cry
as Nathan rushed from the belfry bearing a candle in his hand. He saw
before him Oliver Peregrine about to escape from the scene, while his
cousin lay on the floor of the church bleeding and unconscious.

In a moment Nathan had grasped Oliver in a powerful grip, the signal
for a terrible struggle, during which, however, the latter overpowered
his antagonist; and the would-be murderer escaped in the darkness, just
as Colonel Lindsay, who had begun to suspect treachery, came hastily
upon the scene followed by Dobson and two or three of the villagers.
The reason of the sudden stoppage of the bell was apparent to all. With
faces of horror and affright they gazed upon Nathan, who, breathless
and trembling, supported the wounded man upon his arm.

‘What is it? Who is it?’ demanded Colonel Lindsay, as he picked up
his cloak, which lay in the porch; but Nathan made no reply; and
his interrogator saw that for some unknown reason he purposely kept
silence; also that he took no notice of the cloak or the broken
lantern, but signed to Dobson to help him to bear Bertram from the
church.

Colonel Lindsay at once comprehended the manœuvre; and spreading out
the cloak, they laid Bertram gently down upon it; then Nathan, assisted
by two labourers and the Colonel, raised him, and preceded by Dobson,
whose legs trembled beneath him, bore their senseless burden through
the churchyard. ‘To the Hall!’ was the word of command, given and
obeyed, as they marched slowly but steadily through the grounds, until
they reached the principal entrance. There a crowd of bewildered faces
including those of Squire Peregrine, his daughters and servants, met
their gaze.

‘Charles,’ said Colonel Lindsay, ‘I bring you your son. You dare not
refuse him a home if he is living, or a grave if he be dead.’

The Squire made no reply, but sank upon the nearest chair and covered
his face with his hands.

‘Shew me to a room,’ continued Colonel Lindsay.

Now Nathan and the gloomy procession moved up the broad staircase,
leaving those below watching their progress in dumb amazement. Patricia
was the first to recover, and sign to her father to follow her to the
room they had just left. Her movement dispersed the crowd of servants
to wonder and talk among themselves; while Gertrude found herself
surrounded by her younger sisters, who began eagerly plying her with
questions. To all their importunities, Gertrude only answered: ‘Do not
ask me--do not ask me;’ and with the tears streaming down her face,
which she in vain attempted to control, she mounted the staircase, and
with a trembling hand knocked at the door of the room into which her
brother had been carried. Colonel Lindsay answered her.

‘May I come in?’ she whispered; and receiving permission, she stepped
up to the bed, around which the men were still busy. One glance at her
apparently dying brother determined her.

‘Colonel Lindsay,’ she said with forced composure, ‘pray telegraph at
once for a physician. Papa cannot collect himself sufficiently; but
I am sure he would wish it.’ Then turning to two young men who stood
waiting near the door, she despatched them in all speed for the local
practitioner, Dr Downes.

Then she addressed herself to Nathan: ‘You will watch my brother, will
you not, until I come back? If he should return to consciousness, he
will be glad to find you near him.’ Without waiting for a reply, she
left the room quietly, but soon returned, prepared to act nurse to the
wounded man.

As Nathan raised his eyes, he thought he had never seen anything so
charming before; nothing of which he had read could exceed the womanly
gentleness and loveliness of that fair face; and his own flushed with
shame as he allowed his eyes to dwell upon it longer than in his
opinion was consistent with good breeding. ‘And at such a time,’ said
Nathan to himself, as he again bent over the prostrate form.

Gertrude had brought with her an aged servant who had nursed them, and
still remained an inmate of the Hall. In spite of the changes produced
by time and the circumstances under which she now saw him, Nurse
Goodall recognised Bertram at once, and her agitation was extreme;
for being fully acquainted with every circumstance connected with his
flight, she argued that there could be but one termination to this rash
proceeding on the part of Colonel Lindsay--the expulsion of the son now
lying at the point of death from his father's roof; for she knew full
well the obstinate character of the Squire of Linden, and blamed the
Colonel for thus precipitating the end.

As yet, no one in the Hall knew anything further than that the son of
the house had returned desperately wounded, and that Colonel Lindsay
and Nathan had brought him home: all the rest was mystery unfathomable.
At this juncture, the surgeon, Dr Downes, entered the room in a little
trepidation, his visits to the Hall being rare, and this message having
been sudden and brief. The surgeon perceived a complicated case, and
made an examination of his patient. This done, he inquired if any
person was present to whom the injured man was thoroughly accustomed.
Colonel Lindsay mentioned Nathan and himself. The surgeon then
requested Gertrude and the servants to retire, and proposed to wait
with Nathan the advent of the physician, who had been telegraphed for.
Colonel Lindsay, promising to introduce Dr Ferris directly he arrived,
left the room also, and taking Gertrude on his arm, sought the Squire,
who was still in conversation with his eldest daughter. Patricia and
her father received him coldly, and positively declined to see Bertram.

‘Charles,’ said the Colonel, ‘I have much to tell you, which had better
be said privately. Will you give me a few minutes in your library?’
The tone was so full of meaning, that the Squire rose and led the way.
The result of their conference will be shewn in the conclusion of our
narrative.



THE SALT MARSHES OF BRITTANY.


Not the least interesting part of France is the wide range of country
watered by the Loire. It is here that feudal and historic remains may
best be studied; fine old castles, palaces, and abbeys rise before the
traveller on all sides. The gloomy Blois, where those arch enemies of
French liberty the Guises, were assassinated; the castellated den of
Plessis-les-Tours, where Louis XI. carried out his deep-laid schemes,
so well described in _Quentin Durward_; and the high towers and deep
vaults of Amboise, which tell of many a tragic conspiracy and massacre.
Here too is the picturesque Chénonceaux, with its rich ceilings and
tapestry, where Mary Queen of Scots passed some happy days in her
sad life, and Francis I. drew around him his joyous court. Joan of
Arc unfurled her banner in this interesting province; and the heroic
Vendeans lie buried by thousands, martyrs to their religion and their
king. It is a bright sunny land; the acacia hedges divide the fields
with their elegant white blossoms; the vineyards are loaded with purple
grapes, the apple orchards give abundance of cider; a lazy kind of
land where the idler may kill time to his heart's content. Yet the
Loire cannot boast of equal beauty with the Seine; its raging waters
inundate the country in winter, leaving dry shoals in summer; and near
its mouth, the district called the Marais is an uninteresting tract of
sand, salt marshes, and ponds. It is of this unpromising scene that we
would write, where ten thousand persons find occupation in the making
of salt.

The interest attaching to the people arises from their extreme
simplicity. Thanks to the salubrity of the country, they are a fine
hardy race, the men tall and well-proportioned, the women celebrated
for their fresh complexions. Watch them as they work in the salt-fields
carrying heavy loads on their heads, barefoot, in short petticoats,
and running rather than walking on the edge of the ponds. But all this
is changed on grand fête days, when the costume of their forefathers
in past centuries is worn. It is called the marriage dress, as it
is first donned by the women on that day. Since it must last for a
lifetime, it is carefully laid aside for special occasions. There is
the embroidered cap and white handkerchief for the shoulders, edged
with lace; the belt and bodice stitched with gold thread. A gay violet
petticoat is partially covered by a white dress, the sleeves of which
are either red or white; and an apron of yellow or red silk adds to
the smart attire. The red stockings are embroidered, and the violet
sandals cover well-shaped feet. As for the bridegroom to this pretty
bride, he adorns himself with a brown cloth shirt, a muslin collarette,
full knickerbockers, and no less than two waistcoats, one white, the
other blue, with a large black cloth mantle over all. To complete
his toilet there is a three-cornered hat with velvet cords, white
embroidered stockings, and white buckskin shoes. Such is the costume of
Bourg-de-Batz; but each village has its own distinctive coiffure. The
burning summer sun, whose rays are reflected from the salt marshes as
if from a lens, forces all to wear wide-brimmed hats for daily work;
the high winds and great changes of temperature necessitating double or
triple woollen waistcoats; yet even this time-honoured style of dress
has something picturesque about it.

Let us cross to the left bank of the Loire, and ascend the hill
into the little town of Pellerin, justly proud of its position and
commanding views. From this vantage-ground the eye passes over the
indented coast-line where the points of Mesquer, Croisic, and many
others advance into the sea. The green pastures and pretty villas
of Saint Etienne form the foreground to the barren reaches of the
salt district, which extends towards Morbihan, occupying about six
thousand acres. The commercial centre of the country is the town of
Guérande, perched on a hill, and belonging to a long past age. Its
high ramparts, built for defence in troublous times, can only be
entered by four gates, which bear the marks of portcullises. Enormous
trees entirely conceal it from the traveller, who would fancy he was
approaching a green forest, instead of an old fortified place belonging
to feudal times. Vines and cereals grow admirably on the higher
ground surrounding it, to the very verge of the salt marshes, which
are utterly bare. Looking towards the sea, the marks of its fury are
apparent, as if Nature wished to collect all her weapons of defence for
the inhabitants. Gigantic rocks of capricious forms, sometimes rising
like a bundle of lances; sometimes lying on the shore, as if they were
Egyptian sphinxes, or lions turned into stone, and polished by the
waves; or even resembling these very waves petrified in a moment on
some tempestuous day.

Nothing is more easy to describe than a salt marsh. Imagine a
market-garden divided into squares; but instead of the green
vegetables, each square filled with water, and the walks not level
with, but raised above the spaces about ten inches in height. The
parallelograms are termed in the vernacular _œillets_. These are filled
with sea-water, which pours in through conduits at high-tide, the water
having been stored during a period of from fifteen to thirty days, in
reservoirs attached to each marsh. The system of canals through which
it passes is of a complicated nature; and the production of the salt
constitutes, so to speak, a special branch of agriculture, where the
visible help of man assists the hidden work of Nature. The ground must
be dug and arranged in a particular manner, that the saline particles
may crystallise, just as a field where wheat grows and ripens. Thus, it
is not surprising that the salt-workers adopt the professional terms of
the farmers. At certain times they say ‘The marsh is in flower;’ they
speak of the ‘harvest’ and of ‘reaping the salt.’

It is in the _œillet_, where the water is only about an inch in depth,
that the salt forms, thanks to the evaporation of the sun, and to the
current which, slowly circulating through the different compartments,
assists the evaporation. The salt which then falls to the bottom of the
basin is raked out by the _paludier_ into round hollows made at the
edge at certain distances. This is done every one or two days. The art
consists in raking up all the salt without drawing the mud with it. In
the salt marsh of Guérande they collect separately a white salt, which
forms on the surface under the appearance of foam, and is used for the
salting of sardines.

It will easily be understood that everything depends on the sky; above
all things, the heat of the solar rays is necessary. In cloudy weather
there is no crystallisation. Rainy seasons are most disastrous for the
_paludiers_. The harvest varies from year to year; but calculating the
produce for ten years, it amounts to three or four thousand pounds of
salt in each _œillet_. Work begins in the month of June, and is carried
on till October. The number of _œillets_ varies with the size of the
marsh; that of Guérande contains about twenty-four thousand; others
are much less. The gathered salt is carried daily to some slope near
and packed in a conical form, very much resembling the tents of a camp
when seen from a distance. At Guérande the women are seen running in
this direction, carrying the salt on their heads in large wooden bowls,
holding about fifty pounds; whilst at Bourgneuf the men are employed,
who make use of willow-baskets borne on the shoulder. If the salt is
sold immediately, the cone is only covered with a little earth. But it
more frequently happens that when the harvest is good, speculators buy
large quantities to keep until the price rises, and then large masses a
thousand pounds in weight are formed, and protected by a thick layer of
earth.

Like all kinds of property in France, the salt marshes are much
divided. More than three thousand proprietors share that of Guérande;
and there is a kind of co-operative partnership between the owner and
the worker, the latter generally receiving a quarter of the profits,
out of which he pays the porters. The gain is, however, miserably
small; and the wonder is how the various families manage to exist upon
it. Even if the wife and daughter help, the whole family only earn
about two hundred and fifty-five francs a year--ten pounds of our
money; and in consequence of the season when the salt is collected,
the _paludier_ has no chance of increasing his income by assisting
the farmers, and can only employ himself in the trifling labours of
winter. So low, indeed, have the profits sunk, that in some marshes the
expenses have exceeded them; in short there is no kind of property in
France that has for the last century undergone more terrible reverses
than this. These changes are partly due to the railways, which have
provided a much more efficient and rapid means of transport for the
east of France than for the west.

There are three large zones in the country where salt is found. In
the eastern district it is derived from springs and mines; but in the
present day the salt mines are treated like the springs. Instead of
dividing the lumps with the pickaxe, galleries are cut through and
flooded with water; when this is sufficiently saturated, it is brought
to the surface and evaporated in heated caldrons. The aid of the sun
is not required; fine or rainy days do not count, and the making of
salt becomes a trade for all the year round. In the south the plan is
varied, because there is no tide in the Mediterranean Sea. Here, by the
help of a mechanical apparatus, the sea-water is pumped into enormous
squares, where it crystallises, and the evaporation is accelerated by a
continual circulation. With a warm temperature and a cloudless sky, the
water requires to be renewed only at intervals, whilst the salt itself
is not collected until the end of summer. Thus the poor workmen of
Brittany have a more laborious and less remunerative task, though the
salt is acknowledged to be of a finer quality.

The family life is necessarily of a very hard and parsimonious
character. It is impossible to buy animal food; a thin soup supplies
the morning and evening repast, with poorly cooked potatoes at mid-day.
Those who are near the sea can add the sardine and common shell-fish,
which are not worth the trouble of taking into the towns to sell. The
cruel proverb, ‘Who sleeps, dines,’ finds here its literal application;
during the winter the people lie in bed all the day to save a meal.
There is a strong family affection apparent among them, the father
exercising a patriarchal authority in the much-loved home. If they go
away, it is never for more than twenty leagues, to sell the salt from
door to door. Driving before them their indefatigable mules, borne down
at starting with too heavy a load, they penetrate through the devious
narrow lanes, knowing the path to every hamlet or farmhouse where they
hope to meet with a customer.

The population of Bourg-de-Batz is said to be a branch of the Saxon
race, and has hitherto been so jealous of preserving an unbroken
genealogy that marriages are always made among themselves. A union with
a stranger is felt to be a misalliance. There are some local customs
still remaining which point to an ancient origin, a visible legacy of
paganism perpetuated to the present day. Such is the festival which is
celebrated at Croisic in the month of August in honour of Hirmen, a
pagan divinity in the form of a stone with a wide base lying near the
sea. Here, with grotesque movements, the women execute round the stone
a sort of sacred dance, and every young girl who is unfortunate enough
to touch it is certain not to be married during the year. There is an
old chapel of St Goustan which shews the tenacity with which the people
hold to their traditions. Once a place for pilgrimages, it has not been
used for sacred purposes during seventy years, and serves as a magazine
for arms. Yet the inhabitants of Batz visit it yearly, and especially
pray beneath the sacred walls at Whitsuntide.

Sunday is strictly kept as a day of rest from their toils; then the
poorest dress in clean clothes, men, women, and children going in
family groups to church. After that, relations and neighbours pay
visits. Man is no longer a beast of burden, but shews that he has a
heart and a conscience; a happy spirit of good temper and frankness
reigns everywhere. Indeed the high moral qualities of the natives,
their love of education, and strong attachment to their native soil,
make them a vigorous branch of the French nation, and one calculated to
gain the traveller's respect.



CRITICAL ODDITIES.


That short pithy criticisms are occasionally as pointed as those that
are more elaborated, may be gleaned from the following, which we cull
at random for the amusement of our readers.

A little calculation would have saved a well-known novelist being taken
to task by a fair graduate of Elmira College, who thus relieved her
mind by writing as follows to the College magazine: ‘In a novel of
Miss Braddon's, a book of wonderful plot and incident, the hero, after
coming to grief in a civilised country, went to Australia to make his
fortune; and while yet an apprentice at the pick and shovel, found an
immense nugget of gold, which he hid, now in one place, now in another,
and finally, was obliged to carry in his under-shirt pocket for weeks.
When he reached home its sale made him immensely rich. I had a little
curiosity in the matter, and obtaining the current price of gold,
found, by a simple computation, that the nugget must have weighed _a
hundred and ninety-four pounds_. A sizeable pocket that must have been!’

Albert Smith had his pronouns criticised in the following neat way by
Thackeray. Turning over the leaves of a young lady's album, Thackeray
came upon the following lines:

    Mont Blanc is the Monarch of Mountains--
      They crowned him long ago;
    But who they got to put it on,
      Nobody seems to know.--ALBERT SMITH.

And wrote underneath:

    I know that Albert wrote in a hurry:
      To criticise I scarce presume;
    But yet methinks that Lindley Murray,
      Instead of ‘who,’ had written ‘whom.’

        W. M. THACKERAY.

Not quite so good-naturedly did Chorley treat Patmore's _Angel in the
House_, in his critical versicles: ‘The gentle reader we apprise, That
this new Angel in the House, Contains a tale, not very wise, About a
parson and a spouse. The author, gentle as a lamb, Has managèd his
rhymes to fit; He haply fancies he has writ Another _In Memoriam_. How
his intended gathered flowers, And took her tea, and after sung, Is
told in style somewhat like ours, For delectation of the young.’ Then
after giving ‘some little pictures’ in the poet's own language, the
cruel critic went on--‘From ball to bed, from field to farm, The tale
flows nicely purling on; With much conceit there is no harm, In the
love-legend here begun. The rest will come some other day, If public
sympathy allows; And this is all we have to say About the Angel in the
House.’

This hardly amounted to faint praise, a kind of encouragement Mr
Buckstone owned had a very depressing effect upon him when he ranked
among youthful aspirants to theatrical honours. ‘I was,’ said the
comedian, ‘given by my manager a very good part to act, which being
received by the public with roars of laughter, I considered that my
future was made. A worthy vendor of newspapers, a great critic and
patron of the drama, asked me for an order. On giving him one, I called
the next day expecting to hear a flattering account of my performance,
but was disappointed. Determined to learn what effect my acting had
produced on him, I nervously put the question: “Did you see me last
night?” to which he replied: “O yes.” “Well,” said I, “were you
pleased?” And he again replied with his “O yes.” I then came to the
point with: “Did you like my acting?” And he rejoined: “O yes; you made
me _smile_.”’

A more appreciative critic was the lady who after seeing Garrick
and Barry severally play Romeo, observed that in the garden scene,
Garrick's looks were so animated and his gestures so spirited, that had
she been Juliet she should have thought Romeo was going to jump up to
her; but that Barry was so tender, melting, and persuasive, that had
she been Juliet she should have jumped down to him.

An old seaman after looking long at the picture of ‘Rochester from the
River,’ cried: ‘Yes, that's it--just opposite old Staunton's, where
I served my time--just as it used to look when I was a youngster no
higher than my stick. It's forty years since I saw the old place; but
_if the haze would only clear off_, I could point out every house!’

When M. Gondinet's _Free_ was produced at the Porte St Martin Theatre,
a Parisian critic commended the playwright for rendering a good deal of
the dialogue inaudible by a liberal employment of muskets and cannon;
and then conjugated _Free_ thus: ‘I am free to go to the play; thou art
free to be bored by the first act; he or she is free to be bored by act
second; we are free to be bored by the third; you are free to be bored
still more by the fourth and fifth acts; and they are free to stay away
for the future.’

M. Gondinet's drama was seemingly as fitting a subject for the
pruning-knife as the play of which Mark Twain, speaking for himself and
partner, deposed: ‘The more we cut out of it, the better it got along.
We cut out, and cut out, and cut out; and I do believe this would be
one of the best plays in the world to-day, if our strength had held
out, and we could have gone on and cut out the rest of it.’

An Ohio politician ‘on the stump,’ stayed the torrent of his eloquence
for a moment, and looking round with a self-satisfied air, put the
question: ‘Now, gentlemen, what do you think?’ A voice from the crowd
replied: ‘Well, Mr Speaker, if you ask me, I think, sir, I do indeed,
that if you and me were to stump the state together, we could tell more
lies than any other two men in the country, sir; and I'd not say a word
myself, sir, all the time.’ The orator must have felt as grateful as
the actor whose impersonation of the hero of _Escaped from Sing-Sing_
impelled a weary pittite to proclaim aloud that the play would have
been better ‘if that chap hadn't escaped from Sing-Sing;’ or the Opera
tenor whose first solo elicited from Pat in the upper regions the
despairing ejaculation: ‘Och, my eighteen-pince!’

A young negro, carefully conducting an old blind woman through the
Philadelphia Exhibition, stopped in front of a statue of Cupid and
Psyche, and thus enlightened his sightless companion: ‘Dis is a white
mammy and her babby, and dey has just got no clo' onto 'em at all, and
he is a-kissin' of her like mischief, to be shuah. I's kind o' glad you
can't see 'em, 'cause you'd be flustered like, 'cause dey don't stay
in de house till dey dresses deyselves. All dese figures seem to be
scarce o' clo', but dey is mighty pooty, only dey be too white to be
any 'lation to you and me, mammy.’ Then turning to a statue in bronze:
‘Dere be one nigger among 'em which is crying over a handkerchief. Dey
call him Othello. Mebbe his mother is dead, and he can't fetch her to
de show, poor fellow!’

An American officer riding by the bronze statue of Henry Clay in Canal
Street, New Orleans, was asked by his Irish orderly if the New Orleans
‘fellers’ were so fond of niggers that they put a statue of one in
their ‘fashionablest’ street. ‘That's not a nigger, Tom; that's the
great Clay statue,’ said the amused officer. Tom rode round the statue,
dismounted, climbed upon the pedestal, examined the figure closely, and
then said: ‘Did they tell yez it was clay? It looks to me like iron!’

Tom's ignorance was more excusable than that of the Yankee who,
learning on inquiry that the colossal equestrian figure in Union
Square, New York, was ‘General Washington, the father of his country,’
observed: ‘It is? I never heard of him before; but there is one thing
about him I do like--he does set a horse plaguy well.’ A compliment to
the artist, at all events.

Perhaps Salvini took it as a compliment when his Othello was compared
to the awakening fury of the Hyrcanian tiger disturbed at his feast
of blood, and his Hamlet described as ‘a magnificent hoodlum on
his muscle, with a big mad on, smashing things generally;’ and the
Boston actress was delighted to know her ‘subtle grace, flexible as
the sinuosities of a morning mist, yet thoroughly proportioned to
the curves of the character, was most especially noticeable.’ But
the Hungarian prima donna must have felt a little dubious as to the
intentions of the critic who wrote of her: ‘Her voice is wonderful.
She runs up and down the scale with the agility of an experienced cat
running up and down a house-top, and two or three fences thrown in. She
turns figurative flip-flaps on every bar, tearing up the thermometer
to away above two hundred and twelve, and sliding down again so far
below zero that one feels chilled to the bone.’ The fair singer would
probably have preferred something in this style: ‘Miss ---- wore a rich
purple suit with a handsome shade of lavender, a white over-garment,
tight-fitting, with flowing sleeves, and a white bonnet trimmed with
the same shades of purple and lavender, and she sang finely.’

That has the merit of being intelligible. The writer was not in such a
desperate condition as the Memphis theatrical reporter who lauded an
actress as ‘intense yet expansive, comprehensive yet particular, fervid
without faultiness; glowing and still controlled, natural but refined,
daring anything, fearing nothing but to violate grace; pure as dew,
soft as the gush of distant music, gentle as a star beaming through the
riven clouds. With mystery of charms she comes near to us, and melts
down our admiration into love; but when we take her to us as something
familiar and delicious, she floats away to the far heights of fame,
and looks down on our despair with countenance of peaceful lustre and
smiles as sweet as spring.’ If the lady did not reciprocate, her heart
must have been of adamant.



THE WELL-KNOWN SPOT.


    Again with joy I view the waking shore,
    Where mem'ries live for ever in their green,
    And from the solemn graveyard's checkered floor
    Gaze fondly o'er the all-enchanting scene.

    The same sad rooks awake their mocking cries,
    And drooping willows weep the early grave,
    As o'er the dead the restless spirit flies,
    Tries vainly yet yon broken heart to save.

    But, hush! sad soul, nor leave this hallowed spot,
    Where peaceful slumber seals the closèd eye.
    The lonely sleeper now awaken not
    By the rude raving, or the deep-drawn sigh.

    Oh, let me mourn (the fainting heart replies),
    These new-made graves, which take my wond'ring sight;
    Say, who beneath this little tombstone lies,
    Or who this Angel guards through the long night.

    When last I saw, no mounds lay heaving there,
    No sexton rude had turned the resting sod.
    Alas, how changed! The holy and the fair
    Have sunk in death, and triumphed in their God.

    Then let me pause, if here my Maker stays,
    And guards his saints from the inhuman foe.
    His word is true; my trembling heart obeys;
    Bless'd are the dead who to the Saviour go.

    Now new refulgence breathes o'er all the scene;
    Yon lark's sweet warble now is sweeter still;
    Yon blady grass stands out in purer green;
    And softer music tinkles from the rill.

    For why? O mark! The cause is written here;
    The pale-faced marble tells the softened tale,
    That sweeteneth the sigh, arrests the starting tear,
    And lulls to silence the untimely wail.

        ASTLEY H. BALDWIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

Printed and Published by W. & R. CHAMBERS, 47 Paternoster Row, LONDON,
and 339 High Street, EDINBURGH.

       *       *       *       *       *

_All Rights Reserved._





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