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Title: Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 754, June 8, 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. 754, June 8, 1878" ***

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Fourth Series


NO. 754.      SATURDAY, JUNE 8, 1878.      PRICE 1½_d._]


In the deep green lanes of leafy Devonshire, and over its broad heaths
and moors, there are (as we had occasion to shew in a recent sketch)
still pixies to be found by those who believe in them; as there are yet
‘the little folk’—‘the good people’—in the remotest parts of Scotland,
leprechauns in Ireland, and _les dames blanches_ in France. And still,
as in olden time, poor dazed mortals are pixy-led;—fascinated, like the
victims of the Sirens of old, by the songs which to others are but as
the sighing of the wind among the reeds, but which to them are divinest
music, full of lovely promises and of fairest visions. To them that
handful of withered leaves is a mass of shining gold; and Rübezahl,
now a gnome of the mines and now a charcoal-burner of the mountains,
is followed without question or suspicion when he poses for Apollo or
offers himself as Alexander. The old old times, when fairy Melusines
were women by day and snakes by night—when demon lovers abounded, and
men and maidens lost their souls for eyes too bright to be true—are
still repeated in the circumstances of to-day; and to one under the
spell of the pixies, old age is youth, ugliness is beauty, and sordid
meanness is magnanimity and goodness. The subtle enchantment of glamour
is thrown over every part of life; and, like gardens seen in dreams,
where the flowers of spring and the fruits of autumn grow side by side
on the same branch, those touched with elfin fingers see things which
never existed and as they never existed; enriching with the wealth of
their own fancy natures left dowerless by genius, by beauty, by grace;
exalting mediocrity into the high place of excellence—like the godhead
once worshipped in a bull and reverenced in a hawk.

A man lies at the feet of a vitalised machine, a living doll—a talking
marionette—whom he idealises as the crowned grace of womanhood, just
as Titania before him idealised the ass’s head of her Gentle Joy. He
sees nothing in its true light, but, pixy-led, hears only the sweet
poem of his own love, knows only the magic beauty of his own creation.
Where others gauge the vulgar selfishness of a commonplace schemer who
has weighed her chances and her advantages in the scales together, and
has decided on accepting him and his title and his banker’s book as
the best that she can do for herself, he declares to be unfathomable
the sweet reticence of her modesty, the saintly devotion of her gentle
heart, given to him so generously for love’s sake only. Stolidity is
dignity and stupidity repose; a fatuous smile is the expression of her
inherent sweetness; levity is light-heartedness; frivolity good-humour;
the flirtations, which are patent to the world at large and food for
all the circle to discuss, are the natural liking of a pretty woman
for an innocent admiration which is as naturally her due; the delicacy
of health, which others know as a mere blind—used now as an excuse for
self-indulgent indolence, now as the assigned reason for a retirement
not always wisely employed—is to him, pixy-led, an incessant spur to
his pity, to his fear, to his devotion. Blinded as he is, even when
she neglects her children for her pleasure—for the idle play that she
calls her work—and for the coarser personal ambition which she calls
a cause—he reverences her as a leader, of society or otherwise, doing
her duty to herself and to others; a creature too full of intellectual
power and genius to be confined to the four narrow walls of home;
and he thinks that a hired nurse and paid governess can do all for
the little ones which is necessary, and at less expenditure of fine
material. This is the lover and husband pixy-led; and who can open his

The mother who adores her handsome, plausible, scampish son; who
accepts his boastings as if they were so many announcements in the
Gazette; and to whom the significant fact that the splendour of his
self-reported career never consolidates into public recognition or
tangible fortune, conveys nothing but a sense of the injustice of Fate
and the crossness of circumstance—what is she but pixy-led, the magic
herb that has blinded her being, her maternal love? She believes in
her scamp as other folks believe in the Gospel; credits all his wild
romances about his past and his present, of which she had no more proof
than the courtiers had of their king’s magic wind-woven garments; and
makes no doubt, raises no question as to the certain fortune that
awaits him—put on paper as a sum; and figures you know cannot lie!—if
only she will trust him with his sisters’ portion and her own jointure.
She places herself and her daughters unreservedly in his hands; and
though others know that her fairy palace is only a hill-side mound of
earth and rubbish—her golden tables and delicious fruits nothing but
‘agaricus and fungi with mildew and mould’—and the noble music by which
she is bewitched, the shrill screechings of a ‘scrannel pipe’—yet to
her the cheat is true; and, pixy-blinded, pixy-led as she is, probably
remains true to the end. For even when the inevitable crash comes, and
all these rainbow hopes of glittering success pass away into the dark
clouds of ruin and despair, even then she clings to her faith in her
boy as a devotee clings to the image of her god; and is so certain
that, either all will come right in the end or, if that is impossible,
then that it was not his fault. If this had happened, or that had not
happened—things impossible to foresee and as impossible to control—the
rainbow would never have faded away and they would have built their
palace under its arch. How was he to blame if facts were too strong
for him, and fortune was not to be wooed or won? So she argues,
influenced by the ‘good people’ who delude her with their false shows
and fair-spoken words; making use of one of the holiest feelings of
human nature to bring about her sorrow, and using one of the sweetest
attributes of womanhood to compass ruin.

If we are pixy-led by our affections, how much more by our passions
and our fancies! What after all is that thirst for fame, which goes
under the name of ambition, but a delusion created by the Pucks and
the Rübezahls of the unseen fairy-world that is about us? What is that
craze for ‘success’ but the same thing? A man gives all that makes life
worth having for the name of having succeeded in his career. He toils
through youth, maturity, and into old age, and then he plants his foot
on that final rung of the ladder where he has coveted to stand:—he buys
that special property; holds that special office; is invested with
that one long-desired dignity:—And all for what? To totter through
the few frail years still left to him, and from which hard work and
harder living have taken all savour. Broken in health, how can he,
barring certain notable exceptions, enjoy those good things which he
gave that health and his manhood to attain? Hardened in heart by the
friction and the fight, how can he know the happiness which springs
from participation, from sympathy, wherein lies the only true happiness
of man? His mind narrowed by long compression in one groove, can he, at
his age, learn the delights of art, the glory of science, the solace of
literature? He has been following the pixy who promised him Success;
and the imp has kept her word. But the curse which lies in fairy gold
is repeated even in the fulfilment; and when the endowment is made, the
power of profiting by it is gone. For all the purposes of wealth, that
pyramid of gold might as well be only a mass of withered forest-leaves.

The woman who sacrifices the gallant fellow whom she loves for the man
whom she does not love, because the one has as many thousands as that
other has hundreds, is she not pixy-led?—to be landed before long in
the worst Slough of Despond to be found in the whole tract of human
life! And the man who gives up his sweet young love, with beauty a
true heart and a noble nature for her only dower, to marry instead
that hard-faced woman with her dazzling jointure and her evil heart—is
he not also pixy-led to his own substantial ruin if seeming success?
Where love is the unswerving star set for guidance in the heavens,
money and ambition are the torches waved by the flitting pixies over
the morass—we know with what result to those who follow! So with honour
in a ragged mantle instead of chicanery in cloth of gold; so with
truth pelted in the pillory instead of falsehood set in high places;
so with all the true and noble things of life, whatever their outside
reception, instead of the apparent glitter of what men call success,
and the soul knows to be death.

Pixy-led by superstitious fancies, now of things and now of persons,
we are as often the slaves of seeming as the believers in truths. All
the crazy beliefs which have turned the steady-going world of intellect
upside down, and substituted for realities the merest nightmares—when
they are not day-dreams—are of the nature of things pixy-led. There
are people who believe in the secret police as a power defying the
house-door key and penetrating into private dwellings from basement
to garret. And there are people who believe in secret poisonings
and the presence in our midst of murderers in dress coats and white
kid gloves—men who have done to death their wives and sisters and
friends—it maybe even their mothers—when they will gain so much by the
quiet removal of these poor creatures, apparently loved and tended
while in reality murdered—but men whom neither society suspects nor the
law can touch. What is all this but pixy-led belief?—a mere phantasy
founded on nothing, without proof, foundation, or argument. None the
less there are hundreds who believe implicitly in these two things—the
universal overlooking of the secret police, and the prevalence of
undetected poisoning among respectable families over whom the shadow of
crime has apparently never passed.

It is the same kind of thing, inverted, when people give credence
to certain statements, which if true will be their salvation, but
which have neither proof nor warranty. They believe because they are
told—never mind who the teller or how unlikely the tale; just as to
say, ‘I read it in a book’—‘I saw it in the newspaper,’ is the clincher
to them of all trustworthiness. You will make your fortune by such
and such a scheme; a fortune to be had only for the lifting and at
very little risk. So whisper the pixies, singing low and sweet to the
ear of credulity, under the guise of a sharp-faced man who has been
‘something in the City’ for all his life, though he never seems to
have brought much out of it. What says the common-sense of experience
on the other side? Would that fortune have been left for you to pick
up if those who shew it you could have gained it for themselves? Would
the finder, the pioneer, the displayer thereof—he the ragged robin
notoriously impecunious and out at elbows—be such a philanthropist
as to give away what he needs so greatly, for the mere pleasure of
doing a kind thing to a comparative stranger? Pixy sings with its
sweet seductive tenor for the one part, and common-sense puts in its
controlling bass for the other; but the flattering imp too often wins
the day, and reason retires shivering and sad, rebuked and rebuffed!

Pixy-led by our hopes and our fears, our passions and our affections,
so are we by our tastes. The men who ruin themselves for horses
and hounds, for pictures and _bric-à-brac_, for gardens and fancy
fowls;—they have poor relations—nieces who are making their own living,
young, tender, delicate; sisters who are sitting desolate among the
cold ashes of the ruined hearth: but the uncle and the brother wastes
his clear thousands over toys, and thinks himself blessed when he has
got hold of an unintelligible daub, god-fathered to a famous painter,
or a bit of cracked porcelain sworn to by the dealer as unique.

Pixy-led by our senses we spend our strength like our substance in
pleasure and flood our brains with drink that we may live in a fool’s
paradise half our time and a real hades for the next half. Pixy-led by
our ignorance we accept the appearance of things for their substance
and knock our heads against the walls by which we are surrounded,
determined not to learn their real properties. Thus we seek to exorcise
the murderous diseases of men, moral as well as physical, by muttered
charms and potent talismans, rather than by tracing the cause in
its course—baring the roots—and thus learning how best to extirpate
them. But we content ourselves with sighing at the hard necessities
of Fate; and, wrapping ourselves up in a false cloak of religion, we
say that the Father of Men and the God of Love has laid on us these
terrible scourges that we may learn patience under suffering; while
shutting our eyes to the fact that with every poison is an antidote and
that every evil has its remedy. Pixy-led by our fears we create the
sorrows that we dread, and live in a world of misery fashioned by our
self-tormenting hands. How many time-honoured beliefs and cherished
ideas are only fancies and superstitions without base or substance!—how
many beloved things are utterly without value, and beautiful creatures
mere pixy cheats if only we could open our eyes and see! Oh! if ever
the reign of truth, clear, bright, unmistakable truth, comes on this
sad earth of ours, what a heap of dead bones which now seem to have
life would fall together—what enchantment of the pixies would be at an
end! The gold that now we cherish would be turned to rubbish to which
we would not give harbourage; and the things which we now believe to
be rubbish would prove themselves of purest gold throughout. Among
our most earnest prayers may be inserted that of deliverance from the
charms and magic spells of the pixies—in other words, deliverance from
vain imaginings and false beliefs; from baseless hope and causeless
fear; the restless doubt of an unproved suspicion, and the blind faith
which accepts because it wishes, and believes because it desires.



‘Beaten, decidedly beaten, bad luck to them! The only chance Sir David
has left is to slip off in the night, grope for a ford higher up the
stream, and pass his artillery over as best he may. I could lay a wager
that he tries it.’

‘Not he,’ returned a gruffer voice. ‘Moffat’s too wary to be caught
napping. The sly old fox was almost too many for us though, when he
made that forced march, and all but captured the bridge by a swoop of
his cavalry.’

‘Ah!’ chimed in a third officer of the group now eating a hurried
supper around a bivouac fire, the glow of which was doubly welcome
from the fact that the uniforms of all present had been drenched and
soaked with the heavy rain that had fallen that day—‘Ah! tell it not
in Gath; but it was the quickness of those militia fellows—the Devon
Light Infantry, or whatever they call themselves—that saved us. The
enemy’s cavalry were just clattering over the bridge, when that militia
regiment threw out its skirmishers, in very smart style too, and saved
the chief from a checkmate.’

‘That was Harrogate’s doing,’ observed the first speaker; ‘he’s their
acting-major just now, and I saw him on horseback at the bridge-foot.
A first-rate fellow he is, and could teach a lesson to some of our
pompous bigwigs in cocked-hat and feather. All the same, I’d not work
as he does, if I were a lord.’

‘You had better leave off chattering, you youngsters, and get forty
winks,’ said the good-natured senior with the gruff voice. ‘It’s ten
to one Moffat has us under arms and on the march a good hour before
daybreak. I learned his ways in India, when we were following Tantia
Topee and the Nana up hill and down dale. As for me, I’ve the rounds
to-night, and—— Well, sergeant; what is it?’ he added, as he tightened
his belt.

‘A civilian, sir, that wants to be passed to the quarters of an officer
of the Devon militia, on important business, he says. He has come in a
gig from Downton, and the picket stopped him on the Whiteparish road.’

‘It’s a spy of old Sir David’s!’ exclaimed one of the subalterns,
jumping to his feet; ‘one of the enemy in plain clothes sent to
reconnoitre within our lines. I suppose it wouldn’t quite do to hang
him, though!’

‘A London tailor, more likely,’ said another of the young men, with a
laugh. ‘Too bad, I call it, to be dunned down here, and pestered with
bills, when one is wearing out one’s clothes and wetting one’s feet in
the service of an ungrateful country.—What sort of man is he, sergeant?’

‘A sailor-looking fellow, sir—from abroad, I should judge—dressed very
respectable,’ returned the sergeant, again lifting his hand to the
peak of his cap. ‘It’s Lord Harrogate he wants to see—on particular
business, he says.’

There was some little discussion as to whether the stranger should
be allowed to proceed. Strictly speaking, every British subject has
a right to go where he lists, within the four seas, upon a lawful
errand; but there are exceptions to this abstract right, in practice,
if not in theory. This was one of them. The Autumn Manœuvres were
going on, and two generals of great Indian renown, Sir David Roberts,
and Lord Moffat, but lately promoted to the peerage on account of his
long and good service, were pitted against one another in that larger
_Kriegspiel_ or game of war which we call a sham campaign.

Sir David commanded the ‘enemy,’ and his business was to get within
striking distance of London, if his strategy should prove superior to
that of his old comrade and rival. He was supposed to have landed a
powerful foreign force at Poole, Weymouth, or Christchurch, and now
to be pushing vigorously on, scattering the local levies as he came
towards the capital. It was Lord Moffat’s more popular task to defend
London and beat back the invader to his ships.

There had been much marching and countermarching. The forces employed,
men and officers alike, had entered into the mimic contest with
the heartiness of so many schoolboys intent upon their play. Their
willing obedience knew no bounds. When the commissariat—as is the
nature of commissariats—was behind-hand with their food, they marched,
dinnerless, and bore cheerfully every hardship that dust, rain, hunger,
and fatigue could inflict. The men disguised their footsore condition
that the regiment might have full ranks when the mock-fight should
come. The officers scarcely grumbled over the heavy bills which the
spoiling of their new uniforms entailed.

Lord Moffat, the national defender, to the great joy of his army and
the delight of the newspaper correspondents, was getting the best of
it. But the wily Sir David and his invading hordes had been within an
ace, if not of victory, at least of that upper hand which goes far
in sham war as in real war. By a stolen flank-march he had all but
captured the only available bridge across the Lene, on the swift stream
and deep though narrow channel of which his veteran antagonist had
relied perhaps a little too implicitly.

Sir David’s Hussars and Lancers had come charging down upon the feebly
guarded bridge across the Lene, unexpectedly, when every one in Lord
Moffat’s camp believed them to be miles away. Five minutes more of
panic and indecision would have given up to the ‘enemy’ the hill-road
that skirted the downs, and led direct to Aldershot and London.
Luckily, the militia regiment posted nearest to the river was in a
state of unusually stringent discipline, and had in Lord Harrogate
an officer who could be cool and firm at a moment’s warning. The
skirmishers of the regiment of which he was now acting-major had lined
the bank with magical quickness, and the battalion had come swiftly on
to pour blank-cartridge into the hostile squadrons. Horse, foot, and
guns had come to the help of the men of Devon, and Sir David’s daring
onslaught had been repulsed.

All this sounds very childish, possibly, to those who, at a distance
from the scene of strife, only read of it through the cold medium of
printed words. But to those who took part in the fray and were all
on fire with the keen contagion of the excitement, it was very real.
So many stratagems were reputed to be in use for the obtaining of
information, so much of the success of either friendly belligerent
must depend on secrecy as to his movements, that it is no wonder if a
stranger was regarded with extreme suspicion when presenting himself at
the outposts.

Had this stranger asked for a less popular officer than Lord Harrogate,
it is probable that he would have met with every conceivable impediment
in the further prosecution of his researches. But, apart from that
shadowy halo of respect which, as such, still surrounds those born in
the purple, Lord Harrogate was a man never named but with respect, and
on account of his service at the bridge was the hero of the hour.

‘I’ll take him with me as far as the post of the Devon militia,’ said
the gruff field-officer, who had now completed the tightening of his
belt and the adjustment of his cloak. ‘My orderly must look after him,

Lord Harrogate, in the act of receiving the reports for the night, with
some surprise beheld Richard Hold, master-mariner, marched up under
escort to the door of his hastily pitched tent. He knew the man at
once. That sallow, swarthy countenance had attracted some notice in the
quiet Devonshire country-side near High Tor.

‘You want me, then, it seems, Mr’—— began the future Earl of

‘Hold, my lord! Dick Hold, very much at your service!’ returned
the seaman, ‘if these men’—with a half-angry glance at the file of
militia privates to left and right, and the pink-faced young corporal
who, stiff as a ramrod, commanded the guard—‘would give a fellow

At a sign from Lord Harrogate, the escort fell back, and Richard Hold
was at liberty to speak. ‘Did your lordship ever hear what happens to a
pig when he swims?’ asked the seaman abruptly; and without giving his
auditor leisure to reply to the queer question, he resumed: ‘He cuts
his throat, they say; and so do I, maybe, in speaking as I’m going to
do. I’ve been paid for silence until it goes agin me to speak, even to
spoil the game of one who hasn’t used me well.’

Lord Harrogate, smiling, looked steadily at the man, and read a good
deal of his character at a glance.

‘Vain, shrewd, boastful, and a bully;’ such was his rapid summary of
Hold’s qualities; ‘but with a stout heart to back his bullying, which
is not a common conjunction. The fellow must be smarting under some
sense of injury, or he would not be here.’

He saw too that Mr Hold was in that peculiar condition as to the
effects of liquor which police constables delicately define when they
say that the prisoner at the bar ‘had been drinking, but was not tipsy.’

Now, no suspicion that the stranger was even flustered by drink had
entered the minds of his late military custodians, or he would never
have been admitted within the pickets. Hold, when questioned before,
had seemed as sober as a Good Templar. There is, however, as men of the
world know, such a thing as latent intoxication, precisely as there is
such a thing as latent heat; and even such a seasoned vessel as Richard
Hold may suddenly, under excitement, feel the staggering effects of
brandy swallowed hours ago.

‘It was on business, I think, that you had to speak to me?’ said Lord
Harrogate cheerfully.

‘Business, I guess, can be of more sorts than one,’ rapped out the
seaman argumentatively. ‘To reeve a rope for a rogue’s neck is one sort
o’ business; and to clinker on the irons of the chain-gang at Perth, W.
A., or Bermuda, or Gib (I’ve seen the convicts most everywhere; though,
mind ye, I never wore the Queen’s canary-suit), is another. Rough
customers are most of those that get a sentence of penal servitude.
It’s on a gentleman—say on Sir Sykes Denzil, Baronet—the punishment
falls the heaviest.’

‘What do you mean? Or by what right do you drag the name of a landed
gentleman of high position into your rambling talk?’ asked Lord
Harrogate, very sternly.

Hold, as though the young man’s severe demeanour had excited instead of
sobering him, broke into a crowing laugh of scorn. ‘That mealy-mouthed
hypocrite!’ he exclaimed; ‘and he, forsooth, is a gentleman of high
position, to play skipper to my swabber, I suppose, though I’ve more
pluck in my little finger than Sir Sykes Denzil, Baronet, has in his
whole body. It isn’t to a poor young thing—and she a widow and a
lady—I’d owe a grudge, and still less to an innocent baby-girl that
had no more harmed him than—— If it were all to come over again, I’m as
certain as I stand here that I’d have gone to that young Lady Harrogate
herself, and said’——

Something here seemed to flit across Hold’s clouded mind, for he
started, bit his lip, and became silent.

‘Did you know that young Lady Harrogate of whom you have made mention,
and who has been long dead?’ asked Lord Harrogate encouragingly.

‘Maybe I did, and maybe I didn’t,’ grudgingly returned Richard, whose
vein of communicativeness no longer flowed freely. ‘I’ve had sunstroke,
mister, and knocks on the head too, on the topsy-turvy side of the
world, that ought to excuse me if I talk a bit wild when I get liquor
aboard. I’m Jack Ashore. Nobody minds a sailor.’

It was in vain that Lord Harrogate plied him with questions. A change
had come over the man’s mood, and his dogged caution was as prominent
as had lately been his garrulous bravado. It was evident that he
regretted his recent avowal, and that being unable to recall it, he
would say no more. Then came muffled noises from without, a single low
roll of the drum, and the passing of the word from man to man.

‘The brigade to which you are attached, Lord Harrogate, is to get under
arms and march at once,’ said an aide-de-camp, putting his head into
the canvas doorway of the tent. ‘“Quick and silent,” are Lord Moffat’s

‘You must make your mind up, Mr Hold,’ said the young lord, as he
caught up his sword and buckled it on, ‘as to whether you prefer to
speak, or to have had your journey for nothing.’

The master-mariner shook his head sullenly. ‘You titled swells back one
another, right or wrong,’ he muttered querulously. ‘A plain man like me
might have known it.’

‘I back nobody in wrong, for my poor part,’ replied Lord Harrogate, as
he made his hasty preparations for a start. His soldier-servant was
already aiding a couple of privates to strike the tent.

‘I don’t believe you do, my lord!’ exclaimed Hold irresolutely; ‘you
don’t fly false colours at the main, whoever does. If you knew that a
girl, as noble in blood as yourself, was robbed of her rights, and made
to pass for a mere nobody’s child, in the very place that’——

‘Harrogate, the colonel only waits for you!’ cried the breathless
adjutant, as he stood panting at the door. Without, was heard the
steady tramp of marching feet and the rattle of arms.

‘One moment, Vicars!’ said Lord Harrogate.—‘You see, Mr Hold, go I
must. Will you give me some address, at which this conversation can be

Almost mechanically, Dick drew out one of the cards of Old Plugger’s.

‘I’ll look you up there,’ cried Lord Harrogate, as he darted out into
the night. Then came the smothered sound of voices, as the words of
command were given, and then the regular hurried tramp of many feet.
The brigade had marched, leaving Mr Richard Hold to regain his gig, his
railway station, and ultimately London, as best he might.


‘I will take your card in to Mr Sturgis, sir. I don’t know, I’m sure,
about his being well enough to see you; but perhaps you’ll please to
wait,’ said the tall, prim, grim parlour-maid who acted as janitress of
the front-door of a slack-baked villa at Putney, one of twin villas,
which were called—at the express desire of the inhabitant of the other
one, old Colonel Chutnee, H.E.I.C.S.—Bundelcund Mansions. They were
capacious villas these, as might be augured from the grandiloquent name
that had been fathered upon them; and they had pleasant gardens, with
shaven turf, weeping-willows, and azalea beds in the first style of
suburban gardening, sloping down to the river at the gentle curve of
Putney Reach.

No. 1 Bundelcund Mansions belonged, so far as lease and furniture went,
to Colonel Chutnee; No. 2 Bundelcund Mansions, to Ebenezer Sturgis,
Esq., retired from the practice of law. Lord Harrogate, who was the
visitor-expectant at the ex-lawyer’s outer portals, had often heard of
Mr Sturgis, as having been formerly solicitor to that young Baroness
Harrogate who had been so unfortunate as wife and mother, and to his
own father the Earl; but he had never seen Mr Sturgis.

The Aldershot Autumn Manœuvres were over, the troops dispersed, and
the victory of Lord Moffat over Sir David Roberts—hard won, and much
trumpeted by the newspapers, whose correspondents had accompanied the
respective staffs of the belligerent generals—was already as much
forgotten by the public as the shreds of cartridge-case that lay strewn
among the Wessex stubble-fields. Lord Harrogate had time now to attend
to the queer business broached by that respectable person, Mr Richard

‘Master will see you, sir—my lord,’ said the grim, prim parlour-maid,
dropping a flurried courtesy, in acknowledgment of the rank of the
visitor, as she returned. ‘Only you must please walk into the garden.
He’s mostly there in the fine weather.’

Hard by the water’s edge, in a leafy arbour, overrun with American
creepers, with the morning newspapers neatly arranged upon a table
beside him, and a long slender fishing-rod lying on the turf within
reach, was Mr Sturgis, a little nervous-mannered, trimly attired old
gentleman, who shaded his eyes with one thin white hand, and then held
it out in salutation.

‘You’ve a De Vere face, my lord,’ he said, rising from his chair. ‘A
boy you were, a boy, when I saw you last. But I have known so many of
the name.’

Mr Sturgis was deaf; and it was through the serpentine tube of an
ear-trumpet that Lord Harrogate had to explain the object of his visit.
He wished, he said, that Mr Sturgis would so far oblige him as to
recall his recollections of the time when Clare, Baroness Harrogate,
lost that only child who would in due course have succeeded her in
the title that had now lapsed to the Wolverhampton line. Was it not
true—a proper explanation should be forthcoming as to the reason for
the inquiry—that Mr Sturgis had been at the late Lady Harrogate’s
cottage-residence, beside the Thames, on the very day of the child’s
drowning? Was it not also true that there were some suspicions of foul

The little old lawyer fidgeted very much with his yellow silk
pocket-handkerchief, his gold-rimmed spectacles, and a tiny gold
snuff-box that lay on the table at his elbow, before he returned any
answer to these questions. ‘Poor young thing! poor young creature!’ he
said at last ‘Yes; I was there. I attended her ladyship in Berkshire,
there, at her request, to see to the proper execution of some legal
documents relating to the trifling property her late husband the
Colonel had left behind him; and within a few minutes of my reaching
Holly Cottage, the accident occurred. Ah, to be sure! It was sad, very

‘You speak of it, I perceive, as an accident?’ said Lord Harrogate
interrogatively. ‘There were reports, I believe, to the contrary?’

‘Why, yes,’ replied Mr Sturgis, in a slow reluctant tone. ‘The vulgar,
your lordship knows, like a spice of the marvellous, especially when
a death is in question, and there were ugly rumours flying about—soon
hushed up and forgotten, though.’

‘Do you imagine that there was any substratum of solid truth underlying
these rumours?’ asked Lord Harrogate through the trumpet.

‘Now, my dear sir—my dear lord—that’s a leading question,’ said
the little lawyer argumentatively, and laying one weak hand on his
visitor’s coat-sleeve. ‘What we have to deal with, as men of business
and men of the world, are first facts, and then probabilities. The case
_primâ facie_ was a very simple one. Child, of tender years, left alone
on terrace overlooking river—scream heard—infant’s body vainly sought
for in the Thames—a very melancholy but commonplace concatenation of
circumstances. Nothing but the rank of the parties called attention to
the misfortune.’

‘And yet, Mr Sturgis, you do not believe that things passed in this
commonplace, everyday fashion?’ said Lord Harrogate.

‘_Argumentum ad hominem_, my lord—_argumentum ad_—— Ah! whisssh!’
exclaimed Mr Sturgis, tottering to his feet and flourishing his arms
like an insane semaphore—‘whisssh! you bloodthirsty animal!’

And as he spoke, he flung a short cudgel, that lay concealed among the
leafy walls of the arbour, into a clump of rose-bushes a few yards
distant. A large cat, scared by the hostile demonstration, scuttled
hastily towards the boundary-wall, leaped into a tree, and regaining
the neutral ground of the brickwork, turned, with arching back and
swollen tail, and glared at its human enemy.

‘One of old Chutnee’s cats—the Colonel’s cats; Persians, he calls them;
but they are neither deaf nor white, so that’s all nonsense—after my
pigeons!’ explained Mr Sturgis. ‘I saw the brindled monster, the same
that robbed me of two pretty fantails and a pouter, stealing like a
tigerkin through the bushes. Most encroaching, unprincipled, odious,
old fellow is that neighbour of mine. I wish he were back with his
sepoys. I wish he had stopped in that detestable Bundelcund, the
heathenish name of which he was pigheaded enough to get painted on this
house of mine, as if I, of all people, were a Qui Hi, like himself.’

‘Uncongenial tastes,’ said Lord Harrogate, smiling, ‘must detract a
great deal from the pleasures of good neighbourhood.’

‘Good neighbourhood indeed!’ cried Mr Sturgis irritably. ‘I might as
well be cheek-by-jowl with a Pindharee or a Dacoo, or any other of the
outlandish robbers that the Colonel spent such part of his life in
hunting as he could spare from billiards and bitter beer and brandy
pawnee. It’s not only his cats—it’s everything! His very hookah, in
which he smokes rascally eastern drugs, to which tobacco is harmless,
poisons the air. He trespasses on everything. He ground-baits for fish
until the dace in the river turn up their noses at paste or gentle. He
lets long lines, all over hooks, trail down the current, entangling the
tackle of other anglers. There’s nothing, really nothing, of which that
redfaced Half-pay is not capable, and until he dies of apoplexy, there
will be no comfort for me!’

It was evident that there was a standing feud between the man of war
and the man of peace. It cost Lord Harrogate some trouble to divert
the ex-lawyer’s mind from Colonel Chutnee and his misdoings to his own
reminiscences as to that sad little episode that had been enacted years
before at Holly Cottage. And it proved impossible to pin so slippery a
witness to the point as concerned his own impressions with respect to
the cause of the catastrophe. Mr Sturgis was one of those casuists who
have been blessed, or the reverse, with that peculiarly legal intellect
which takes delight in the niceties of mental straw-splitting,
and the edge of which is too fine for the practical work of this
rough-and-ready world. He was timid too, and nervously reluctant—having
the fear of the law of libel perpetually before his eyes, wherever
Colonel Chutnee was not the subject of discourse—to speak his mind.
Nevertheless, Lord Harrogate gathered from the ex-solicitor’s guarded
talk that the speaker’s delicately balanced opinion inclined towards
the hypothesis that there _had_ been something wrong. It was singular
that the poor little thing’s body had never been recovered. Men had
been dragging, dragging night and day; and not the river Thames alone,
but every creek, backwater, weir, and pool had been examined within
miles. That the infant had been murdered, was a supposition grossly
improbable. It was no one’s interest to make away with the heiress
of a barren title. Kidnapping was, under the circumstances, almost
as unlikely as murder. Gipsies, credited in popular belief with such
offences, had never been taxed with stealing a child too young to beg,
and who would therefore be useless to the strolling tribe. Nor would
the lithest Zingari be bold and deft enough to venture on a theft so
audacious, so difficult, and so unprofitable.

Yet, though Mr Sturgis glibly enumerated all the grounds on which a
verdict of ‘Accidental drowning’ might be returned by a coroner’s jury,
Lord Harrogate felt more and more convinced that the little lawyer in
his heart of hearts believed that something was amiss.

‘Rumours were afloat at the time,’ said Lord Harrogate; ‘and unless I
am greatly mistaken, inquiries were made?’

Mr Sturgis assented. ‘Idle tongues wagged,’ he said, ‘in various
circles of society; and we sifted, as was our duty—I speak of myself
and of my esteemed coadjutors, Messrs Pounce and Pontifex—much loose
gossip, and found a residuum of—nothing. There was much assertion, but
not an iota of proof.’

However, at the close of the interview, Mr Sturgis hospitably pressed
on his visitor a glass of old Madeira—‘Very rare, my lord, existing
only in a few private cellars; the present, forty years since, of a
ducal client of mine.’

After some further quiet conversation upon the mysterious subject in
hand, the lawyer put into the possession of Lord Harrogate the half of
a card torn in two, which had for two decades reposed peaceably in the
recesses of his own desk; and told him that this card, picked up on the
towing-path by one of the men employed in searching for the child’s
body, was the only fragment of mute evidence that was now in exigence.


It is now an ascertained fact that as a rule, no organised being in the
world subsists alone by the nourishment which it absorbs, either in the
form of food or of atmospheric air; it has also need of heat and light.
Light is the creator of the charming colours, the sweet perfumes, the
exquisite flavours which we gain from the vegetable kingdom. But how
these marvellous operations are accomplished, what are the rules of
the dispersion of darkness and its multiplied refractions, are not
yet thoroughly determined. Let us glance at what has been already

Plants are nourished by absorbing through their roots certain
substances in the soil, and by decomposing through their green parts
the carbonic acid gas contained in the atmosphere. They decompose this
gas into carbon, which is assimilated, and into oxygen, which they
exhale, and return to the atmosphere for the use of animals. This,
which may be called the respiration of plants, cannot be performed
without the help of the solar rays. Charles Bonnet, the well-known
philosopher of Geneva, was the first in the last century to verify this
truth. He remarked that all plants grow vertically, and stretch towards
the sun in whatever position the seed may have been planted. We have
all noticed how plants in dark places direct their stems to the place
whence a ray of light issues. He also discovered that when plunged into
water they disengage bubbles or gas under the sun’s influence. Our own
Dr Priestley took up the subject and gained another step; he burned
a light in a closed space until it went out, shewing that the oxygen
had been consumed, and that in consequence the air had become unfit
for maintaining combustion. Into the space he introduced the green
parts of a plant, and after ten days the air was so purified that the
candle would burn once more. In other words he had proved that plants
can substitute oxygen for carbonic acid gas. If some water-cress, for
instance, be grown in water, and exposed to sunlight, the presence
of the oxygen gas given off by the leaves may be demonstrated by the
rekindling of a paper the lingering spark of which is introduced into
the vessel in which the plant is contained.

Dr Ingenhousz further explained this interesting fact. He observed that
plants have the power of correcting impure air in a few hours; and that
this marvellous operation is due solely to the influence of the sun
upon plants. This influence only begins when the sun has risen some
little time above the horizon; the obscurity of night entirely suspends
the operation, as do also high buildings or the shade of trees. Towards
the close of day the production of oxygen relaxes, and entirely ceases
at sunset.

When these facts had been established, the explanation was soon
discovered: the impure gas which was absorbed and decomposed during the
day was nothing but the carbonic acid which is freely given out from
the lungs of every breathing animal, the pure gas resulting from the
decomposition being oxygen. But the diurnal respiration of most plants
is exactly the inverse of the nocturnal, for the gas which they emit
during night is the unwholesome carbonic acid. It was discovered also
that mere heat could not take the place of light in these operations.
There was another point which required elucidation; this was, the
relation that existed between the amount of carbonic acid absorbed and
of oxygen exhaled. Another Genevese citizen, De Saussure, maintained
that the latter is always the smaller quantity, and that at the same
time a portion of the oxygen retained by the plant is replaced by
nitrogen; whilst Boussingault shewed that the volume of carbonic acid
decomposed was equal to that of the oxygen produced.

There is a wonderful rapidity and energy in the performance of these
functions by the green parts of plants, as was proved by placing an
earthen vessel in the sun filled with vine-leaves. Through this a
current of carbonic acid was passed, and when it came out it was pure
oxygen. It is calculated that one single leaf of the water-lily thus
exhales during the summer about three hundred quarts of oxygen. Indeed
there are some peculiarities about aquatic plants which make them more
valuable in clearing the atmosphere than others, for during the night
they are inactive and disengage no carbonic acid, whilst they act as
others do in the daytime. It is easy to shew the direct action of the
sun on vegetable respiration by placing some leaves of the _nayas_ in a
vessel filled with water saturated with carbonic gas; as soon as this
is exposed to the sun, an infinite number of little bubbles of almost
pure oxygen will be seen rising to the surface. The shadow of a cloud
crossing the sky suffices to lessen this action, which is again resumed
with sudden activity when it has passed. By intercepting the solar rays
with a screen, the changes of quick or slow production of gas-bubbles
may be clearly observed.

So far these remarks apply only to white light, that is the mixture
of all the rays which the sun sends us; but this light is not simple;
it is composed of seven prismatic groups of colours, the properties
of which are quite distinct. This prismatic group further prolongs
and extends itself by invisible radiations. Beyond the red there are
radiations of heat; beyond the violet, chemical radiations. The first
act on the thermometer; the second determine energetic reactions in
chemical compositions. What is their influence on vegetation? Does the
solar light affect plants through its colour, its chemical properties,
or its heat?

Many experiments have been tried to solve this question, but it is
still a matter of doubt. If plants are placed in coloured glasses,
less oxygen is disengaged than under the influence of white light.
Young plants grown in comparative darkness, and consequently pale as to
colour, have been exposed to different rays of the spectrum, the effect
being that in three hours and a half they assumed a green tint under
the action of yellow light; whilst an hour longer was required for
orange, and sixteen hours for blue. It is evident from this that the
energy of solar action on plants corresponds neither with the maximum
of heat, which lies in the red rays, nor in the maximum of chemical
intensity which is at the other extremity of the spectrum, that is the

If blades of grass are put into tubes filled with water charged with
carbonic gas, and exposed to coloured rays, and the quantity of oxygen
gas disengaged is measured, it will be found that the largest quantity
is in the tubes which have been acted on by yellow and green light;
afterwards those influenced by orange and red. Just as aquatic plants
send out gaseous bubbles under white light, so do they to nearly the
same extent under orange light, but twenty times less if placed under
blue glass. These experiments would seem to prove that it is the
_luminous_ rays only, and principally the yellow and orange, that act
upon plants. To this may be added, that green light produces much the
same effect as darkness on vegetable respiration; thus explaining why
there is such a slow lingering growth under the shade of large trees or
forests, where the ground beneath is bathed in emerald light.

The sun also assists in the transpiration and constant renewal of the
moisture essential to the tissues of plants. Like the human being,
when there is no evaporation, the plant becomes dropsical, and the
leaves fall because the stem is too weak to bear their weight. This
imperious need and love which they have for light shews that the
solar rays are really the essence which gives colour. The corollas
of those flowers which grow on mountains at a great elevation have
a deeper hue than those which blow in lowlands. The sun’s rays pass
more easily through the transparent atmosphere which bathes the higher
peaks. Certain flowers vary with their altitude; thus the _Anthyllis
vulneraria_ passes from white, through pale red, to an intense purple.
Well-lighted and cleared tracts of land are much richer in colour than
those shaded by high hedges and trees; and some flowers are observed
to change during the day, owing to the direct action of the sun. The
_Hibiscus mutabilis_, for instance, blooms white in the morning and
becomes red at noon-day; the floral buds of the _Agapanthus umbellatus_
are also white at early dawn and afterwards acquire a blue tint; the
_Cheiranthus camelea_ changes from white to lemon colour and then to a
red violet. If a flower be taken as it is coming out of its sheath and
wrapped in black paper, so as to intercept the light, it remains white;
but recovers its colour when exposed to the sun. Nor are fruits any
exception to this rule; the beneficial action of daylight is necessary
to their development, and to all those principles which communicate
taste and scent to the different parts.

Another part of this interesting study relates to the _mechanical_
action which light exercises, as shewn in the sleep of flowers,
the inflection of the stems, and the inclination towards the great
luminary. Pliny speaks of the sunflower which always faces the sun
and turns round with it; a delicate sensibility which the poet Moore
has beautifully expressed in words and music. The lupine is another
instance, which indicates by its diurnal revolution the hour of the
day to the labourer. The stems of all plants as a rule turn towards
the side of the light, and bend to drink it in. This constitutes what
is known as ‘heliotropism.’ If cress be grown in darkness on moist
cotton-wool, and then placed in a room lighted on one side only, the
stems bend and incline very rapidly towards it; the higher part only
turns, the lower remaining upright. But if it be placed in a room
lighted by two windows, a fresh observation will be made. Supposing
they are on the same side, and admitting an equal amount of light, the
stem bends in the direction of the middle of the angle formed by the
rays; whilst if one window allows more light to penetrate into the room
than the other, the stem turns to it. When the two are opposite there
is no deviation from the straight line.

There are some curious facts regarding climbing-plants; their stems
generally turn from left to right round the pole used for support;
others follow a contrary direction; while to some it seems to be a
matter of indifference. Mr Darwin has concluded that light is an
influential cause. If plants of this class are placed in a room near
a window, the stem requires more time to perform the half-revolution
during which it is turned away from the light, than for that which
is towards the window. In one case the whole circle was completed in
five hours and twenty minutes; of this the half in full light only
required an hour; whilst the other could not traverse its part in less
than four hours and twenty minutes—a very striking variation. Some
Chinese ignamas, _Diascorea batatas_, in full growth were placed in a
completely darkened cave, and others in a garden; in every case those
which were in darkness lost the power of climbing round their supports;
those exposed to the sun were twisting, but as soon as they were put in
the cellar they grew with straight stems.

The sleep of plants, which certainly has a connection with light, is
another curiosity in nature. Flowers and leaves of some growths seem to
fade at particular hours, the corolla being closed, which after a state
of lethargy blows out afresh; in others, the flower falls and dies
without having closed. In the case of the convolvulus the flower is
drawn up at noon. Linnæus noted the hours in which certain plants blow
and fade, and thus composed a floral dial; but science has not yet been
able to explain these curious relations to light.

The green colouring of leaves and stems is owing to a special matter
called chlorophyll, which forms microscopical granulations contained in
their cells. These grains are more or less numerous in each cell, and
it is to their number as well as to the intensity of their colour that
the plant owes its particular shade of green. Sometimes they are found
pressed together and cover the whole internal surface of the cell;
whilst at other times they are smaller in quantity and do not touch
each other. It has recently been observed also in the latter case, that
under the influence of light the green corpuscles undergo very curious
changes of position; in certain plants they crowd to the part of the
wall of the cells exposed to the action of the sun—a phenomenon which
does not take place in darkness or under red rays only.

There might be given many other very interesting effects of light on
plants, not usually noticed. The truth is, the direct rays of the
sun exert a potent influence on every living thing, whether plant or
animal. Sunlight, fair and full upon you and upon your dwelling, might
be called the greatest blessing in nature; but on this branch of the
subject we will not at present expatiate.



It was on a dull sultry afternoon in July 1869, that my friend Morrissy
and I found ourselves comfortably located in the commercial room of
one of the hotels in Westport, County Mayo, Ireland, after a long
uninteresting car-ride from Sligo and Ballina. The excellent turnpike
road ran through a flat boggy district; and as we had journeyed along
through dense clouds of dust, it was with an infinite sense of relief
that we disencumbered ourselves of our wraps and other travelling
impedimenta, and prepared ourselves for the substantial dinner which
was placed on the table for our refection.

To those of our readers who are unacquainted with the ‘long-cars’ used
in moving about from one town to another, and especially in the west of
Ireland, where the climate is somewhat exhaustive from its excessive
humidity, a journey upon these public conveniences has its fascinations
as well as its drawbacks; for in going through the country on these
vehicles, you can always, excepting in stormy or dusty weather, insure
capital views of the scenery of the district, pick up a gossiping
acquaintance with your fellow-travellers, readily command the local
information in the possession of your charioteer, and be alternately
amused and annoyed at one time with his legendary and romantic stories,
and at another with his sarcastic reflections on the ‘misgovernment’
of the country since it came under a dominion not entirely its
own. An Irish car-driver always appears to me to be a strikingly
representative type of the Milesian race. He is impulsive and rash,
credulous and wildly poetical, with a dash of superstition and romance
in his character, and a constantly recurring lament for the ‘good old
times’ that prevailed when Brian Borru was king. At the same time, he
is an excellent _compagnon de voyage_, and if he is properly treated
and humoured, will pour out for your delectation quite a flood of
antiquarian, genealogical, historical, and legendary lore, appertaining
to the country in which you are, and the noteworthy objects around you.

Morrissy and I were joined at dinner by a fellow-tourist who had
travelled on the car from Ballina; and as this gentleman is the
principal hero of the little adventure I am about to relate, it is
necessary I should put the reader in possession of some particulars
respecting him. His appearance was both striking and peculiar. At
the Ballina car-office he was very anxious about the disposition of
his luggage. This property consisted of a rifle-case, a long wooden
trunk which he said contained his ‘fixings,’ a hat-case of leather,
several other boxes which sadly taxed the carrying capacity of the
car, and quite a miscellaneous collection of parcels and wrappers.
Though only standing some five feet eight inches in height, he was
strongly built, and of good muscular development, his complexion
having somewhat suffered from a long-continued residence in America.
He wore a conical-shaped wide-awake of green felt; his gold watch,
which with its appurtenances of seals and lockets, was frequently
prominently and somewhat ostentatiously displayed, bore on the reverse
the harp of Ireland beautifully enamelled on a green background; and
he carried a small pocket pistol in the breast of his waistcoat. He
had previously told us that his name was John Hanlon; that he had left
Ireland in consequence of a little political trouble, some twenty years
previously; that he was now a prosperous floor-cloth manufacturer at
Baltimore, and that he was paying a long-cherished visit to his native
country previous to his final settlement in the transatlantic land of
his adoption. Mr Hanlon somewhat surprised me by the freedom of speech
he indulged in on all subjects that cropped up for discussion on the
road, and I could only explain it on the hypothesis that his lengthened
sojourn in America, and the liberal toleration of political questions
there enjoyed by all classes, had lent to his ordinary conversation
a fluency and a license which were comparatively unknown in our more
cautious latitude. Hanlon evidently considered himself a citizen of the
Great Republic, and was certainly far from restricted in the expression
of his sentiments on subjects ranging from the latest Democratic ticket
in his adopted state, to the question of greater political and social
freedom for his fatherland.

My friend Bryan Morrissy possessed many traits of character and
feeling in common with Mr Hanlon, and consequently it was not at
all extraordinary to find that they almost immediately struck up a
close intimacy. Morrissy, a somewhat slimly-built fellow of six feet,
was a County Waterford man; and his fervent poetical and patriotic
temperament was so strongly displayed during the troubles in Tipperary
in 1848, that he judged it expedient for the good of his health to
make a somewhat sudden voyage to New York. Finding many sympathetic
friends in Cork, he was one fine night quietly smuggled on board an
outward-bound vessel at Queenstown; and in a month he found himself at
Castle Gardens, on Manhattan Island, with a couple of sovereigns in his
pocket, three shirts, a Sunday suit, and letters of introduction to a
number of Irish Nationalists in the cosmopolitan city of New York. For
a couple of months he led a very active life of unprofitable energy,
his time mainly occupied in addressing huge meetings; but at length he
got disgusted with the game of politics, so unblushingly played there
by mercenary ‘patriots;’ and as he saw no prospect of succeeding in his
business as a counting-house clerk, he slipped over to England; and
finding that the pursuit of the Young Ireland conspirators had been
judiciously relaxed, he took a post as a store-manager in a Yorkshire
manufacturing town which I shall call Fleeceborough, and for a number
of years devoted himself so closely and assiduously to his essentially
prosaic duties, that even the new acquaintances—of whom I was one—who
gathered around him, scarcely realised how deep were his convictions on
certain ‘burning questions’ of national sentiment connected with his
own country, and at what great hazard he had, at an earlier period of
his life, advocated and compromised himself by his enunciation of those

Considered as a warm friend and a lively and entertaining acquaintance,
Morrissy was everything that one could wish; and as he was well versed
in ancient as well as contemporary history, and had an appreciative
acquaintance with the modern poets, especially such as Byron, Burns,
Moore, and Campbell, whose aspirations after liberty were warm and
fervent, his company was highly appreciated by the little earnest band
of embryo publicists among whom he found himself in the radical town
of Fleeceborough. By his outdoor political speeches and harangues in
America, he had contracted severe colds, which ultimately somewhat
affected his hearing—an ailment afflicting enough in itself, but which
had its occasional benefits, a salient example of which will be seen in
the further progress of this narrative.

Coming to myself, as the third of the party, I may briefly inform the
reader that my name is Robert Talbot, that I am generally accounted a
pleasant and fairly informed acquaintance, rather given to punning and
other word-dislocating frivolities, though esteemed for my patience
as a good listener, and as one who generally appreciates any smart or
witty remark made by another. In fact my habit of preserving these good
conversational things is so strong that it has been my practice to
‘take them down in black and white;’ and as they sometimes crop up and
out on seasonable and auspicious occasions, I have got myself generally
known by the name of ‘the repeater.’ And it was during a pleasure
excursion through the highlands of Connemara that Morrissy and I thus
became acquainted with Mr John Hanlon, floor-cloth manufacturer, of
Baltimore, United States.

Dinner passed pleasantly enough at the Westport hotel. The provision
was bountiful and miscellaneous in its character, and we chatted over
the table as if we had been acquainted for years. When the cloth had
been removed, Morrissy and Hanlon drew themselves more confidentially
together, and soon commenced exchanging reminiscences of the ‘affair
of 1848,’ over a jug of whisky-punch. In the earlier hours of the
evening their conversation was quiet and decorous enough, but with
the interchange of mutual confidences, the narration of mutually
interesting incidents connected with the ‘rising,’ and the frequent
appeals to the inspiriting liquor which the constantly replenished
‘Toby’ supplied, they soon became more cosy, and began to fight their
patriotic battles over again in strains more hearty and convivial than
ordinary sobriety would have warranted.

Another person had by this time joined the party. Although a complete
stranger to ourselves, he was evidently well known to the people at
the hotel, for the waiters treated him with a certain deference for
which I was unable to account. Although plainly and respectably dressed
in a kind of frieze cut-away suit, these clothes did not seem to sit
comfortably and naturally upon him; and when he rose to procure a
light for his pipe or to ring the bell for another supply of punch, he
paced the room with a habit of precision and regularity that somehow
suggested to me that he must at one time of his life have been in
the army. The waiters were somewhat obsequious in their attention to
his orders, called him with emphasis ‘Mister Doolan,’ and appeared
to hold him in a certain degree of respect, if not of absolute fear.
Mister Doolan paid particular regard to the conversation of my Irish
friends Morrissy and Hanlon; and if at any time the continuity of their
narratives appeared likely to be broken in favour of subjects more
generally interesting to myself as an Englishman, I noticed that he was
at extraordinary pains to bring it back to the point at which I had
broken in upon their talk, and to induce them to resume the story of
their experiences.

As I was very tired with the jolting motion of the car—a species
of locomotion with which I had been previously unfamiliar—I soon
afterwards retired to rest; but even after I had got to bed in the
room above, I could hear my friends below in the full flight of
conversation, not only on the past of Ireland, but in somewhat hazy
prophecies as to the future of their beloved country. To the music of
this harmonious but disturbing concert, relieved at times by the more
measured and careful utterances of Mister Doolan, I listened for a
time, until the voices became a monotonous drone in my sleepy ear; and
then I sank into the elysium of sleep, a paradise doubly grateful to me
after the fatiguing incidents of the day, and the consciousness that
though I was in a strange land I was neither alone nor unbefriended.

As some of my readers will be aware, Ireland was at this time suffering
in the throes of the Fenian agitation. Not only was a deep patriotic
feeling prevalent among honest Irishmen, but the national spirit was
also being moved strongly and passionately by the Irish Americans, who
were quietly invading the country, and making large and extravagant
promises of American support to another rising against English rule.
The extraordinary enthusiasm manifested by Irish men and women at
that time settled in the United States; and the heartiness with
which money was subscribed by all classes of the community, from the
middle classes down to the humblest labourers of both sexes, still
arrests the attention of the historian, and excites his surprise that
enthusiasm so general in its character should have so powerfully
impressed the children of Erin who peacefully sojourned in a distant
land. The fact remains that for some time Ireland was seething like
a restricted volcano, the under-current of patriotism being deep,
earnest, and general. Government at length awoke to the seriousness of
the crisis, and after a long period of inaction, the English officials
came to the conclusion that not only was sedition rife in that unhappy
country of Ireland, but that a great proportion of the mischief was
directly traceable to Irish-American agents, who with military titles
and the nucleus of military organisations, were constantly landing on
her shores. It was not, however, until the English government found
that chests and packages of arms and munitions of war were being
systematically despatched to and distributed through a large range of
the country, that they fairly took the alarm, and began to exercise
a stricter supervision over the arrival of American Hibernians in
Ireland, and took measures for obtaining careful information of
the movements of such disaffected persons as had already procured
a footing in the country. Not only were the soldiery placed on the
alert, but that semi-military organisation, the Irish constabulary, had
also instructions to scrutinise carefully the persons and movements
of strangers and travellers in the interior of the country. These
regulations, of a repressive as well as detective character, were in
full force in certain wild and disturbed districts at the time that
Morrissy and I were taking our peaceful excursion; and they were
the means of bringing about the curious imbroglio I am now about to

When I descended to the coffee-room next morning, I did not find either
of my companions of the previous night. As they had not evidently
yet slept off the fumes of the whisky-punch, I strolled down to the
beach of Clew Bay, and was soon drinking in not only the fine mountain
and sea breeze, but also the wild but charming scenery of that fine
district. Leaving behind me the desolate ruined warehouses which told
the mournful story of the past, when Westport was indeed the western
harbour of Ireland, I saw in the near distance the placid waters of
the bay, studded with its numerous and picturesque islets; whilst to
the left—rearing itself in savage majesty over the waters—frowned
the Reek of Croagh Patrick, the sacred mountain of the district, and
up the craggy sides of which, pilgrimages to the stone hut of St
Patrick are still regularly made. The light haze resting upon the sea
and the cloudy vapour that encircled the summit of Croagh Patrick,
appeared destined soon to give way before the western breeze, that
already curled the surface of the bay into miniature waves and lent a
refreshing fragrance to the morning air. But though thus inspirited
by the ramble, I could not help thinking with some uneasiness of the
dangerously outspoken language both Morrissy and Hanlon had been using
when in their cups; though I had heard so much of the proverbial
good-fellowship of the Irish character, that I was reluctant to
bring myself to the conviction that any such loose talk would be
unfavourably brought up against them. At the same time, considering
the state of the country and the many warnings on the subject of
political discussion which I had received in Dublin, I could not avoid
regretting that the conversation had taken such a dangerous direction,
feeling assured that if any of the police or military authorities had
been in the Commercial Room at the time, they would have been bound to
notice what Morrissy and Hanlon might call ‘patriotic talk,’ but which
other keen protectors of law and order might designate as seditious and
treasonable utterances. It was while thus engaged in chewing the cud
of sweet and bitter fancy that I again found myself at the door of the
hotel, in front of which was already standing the long-car on which we
purposed journeying that day to Clifden.

I found both Morrissy and Hanlon in the coffee-room awaiting my
appearance. The breakfast table was profusely laden with substantial
delicacies; but though I was ready enough for that meal, I could see
at a glance that my companions were not equally prepared. Both looked
sheepish enough in all conscience, and on the principle that if you
feel ill you must take ‘a hair of the dog that bit you,’ each of them
had a suspicious-looking glass of ‘mountain-dew’ at his elbow. Neither
seemed inclined for eating, and I therefore had the breakfast-table
much to myself. I tried to interest them by describing the delightful
walk I had enjoyed to the bay, but was unable to galvanise either life
or spirit into them. My only hope was that the fresh keen sea-air and
the rushing excitement of the car-ride might by-and-by restore them to
their wonted physical and mental equilibrium.

As the weather had by this time cleared up, and there was every
prospect of a fine pleasant journey of forty miles to Clifden,
through the heart of the Connemara mountains, the car filled rapidly
that morning, partly with visitors like ourselves and partly with
residents in the district. Within the latter category evidently came
two fine-looking undoubted Irishmen, who took their seats on my side
of the conveyance, and who interested me by their conversation and
evident familiarity with the sights of the neighbourhood. They were
well though plainly dressed, and evidently devoted themselves to the
task of engaging me in talk of a nature innocent enough in itself,
but which later on grew somewhat irksome and suspicious. Morrissy and
Hanlon were on the other side of the car; and just as it was about to
start, our friend Doolan came up in a bit of a hurry, and took the
vacant seat which had been left unoccupied by their side. Doolan, who
was spruce and collected enough, and who looked as fresh as a daisy,
gave me a half-familiar nod, and then exchanged the compliments of the
day with my friends. It struck me that Hanlon received his approaches
in a half-sullen, half-distant manner, but that I set down to my latent
suspicions respecting the man; and as the car rattled gaily over the
road to Leenane, and I heard little bursts of laughter and apparently
racy jests exchanged by that party, I felt ashamed of the apprehension
by which I was still haunted.

The route, at first direct south, curved a little westward as we
approached Killery Bay, through the mountainous, land-locked, tortuous
courses of which the Atlantic was now rolling in magnificent grandeur.
I was entranced with the first view of this fine picture, embracing
high rugged rocks overhanging the bay, with a stern range of mountains
in the north-west, and a splendid natural harbour in which the navy of
England might safely ride, protected from all winds except the west. My
enthusiasm increased as we neared Leenane, which pretty little village
nestled snugly and picturesquely at the head of Killery, and where
we stopped to change horses. Here Mr Doolan alighted, somewhat to my
surprise; though I fancied a look of intelligence passed between him
and the two Irishmen with whom I had been in conversation. In answer to
my question as to whether he was not going farther with us, he quietly
remarked that he had a little business in the neighbourhood, but that
he would be seeing us again in the course of the day. I noticed that
Doolan turned up an avenue leading to a gentleman’s house; and on
asking the driver who resided in that fine mansion, was somewhat dryly
told that ‘it was the country residence of Mr Sarsfield, a magistrate.’


The first recorded ascent of the great mountain which is an object of
veneration to all the races who inhabit Asia Minor, however various
they may be in blood, in customs, and in creeds; the mountain to which
tradition assigns the resting of the Ark from its floating above the
ruins of a drowned world, and at whose foot at this present time three
empires meet, took place in 1829. Ararat was then ascended by Dr
Frederick Parrot, a Russo-German Professor in the university of Dorpat,
after whom is named one of the pinnacles of Monte Rosa. After two
unsuccessful attempts, the Professor reached the top of the mountain
with a party of three Armenians and two Russian soldiers. The second
ascent was made in 1834 by Spassky-Altonomof, who went up in order
to ascertain whether it was really true that the stars are visible
at noon from the tops of the highest mountains. The third was made
by Herr Abich in 1845. General Chodzko, while conducting the survey
of Transcaucasia, reached the top with a large party in 1850, and
remained there for a week in a tent pitched on the snow. And a party
of Englishmen—who, however, believed that they were the first who had
accomplished the feat—ascended from the Turkish side in 1856.

Yet, though these several exploits are perfectly proven to the European
world, Mr James Bryce tells us in his _Transcaucasia and Ararat_
(London: Macmillan & Co.), that ‘there is not a person living within
sight of Ararat, unless possibly some exceptionally educated Russian
official in Erivan, who believes that any human foot since Father
Noah’s has trodden that sacred summit.’

The mountain, divided into two peaks called Great and Little Ararat,
forms an elliptical mass of about twenty-five miles in length from
north-west to south-east, and about half that width. ‘Little Ararat
is an elegant cone or pyramid, rising with steep, smooth, regular
sides into a comparatively sharp peak. Great Ararat is a huge
broad-shouldered mass, more like a dome than a cone, supported by
strong buttresses, and throwing out rough ribs or ridges of rock that
stand out like knotty muscles, from its solid trunk.’

The latest mark which the hand of Nature has set upon this mighty
mountain was made in 1840, and the story is a pathetic one. Near the
mouth of the great chasm with its crown of tremendous precipices, there
formerly stood a pleasant little Armenian village, of two hundred
houses, named Aghurri. The dwellers there were pastoral people like
their forefathers, who fed their flocks in the Alpine pastures, and
cultivated a few fields which were watered by the glacier-stream. They
claimed that the vine which bore these delicious grapes was Father
Noah’s own, and that the ancient willow, the pride of the village, had
sprung from one of the planks of the Ark. The little monastery of St
Jacob had for eight hundred years stood just above the village, on the
spot where the angel of the legend had appeared to the monk. With the
exception of the wandering Kurds, the inhabitants of Aghurri were the
only dwellers on the mountain; in their village its traditions centred,
and there they were faithfully preserved. Thus Mr Bryce relates the
fate of the happy mountain village: ‘Towards sunset in the evening of
the 21st of June 1840, the sudden shock of an earthquake, accompanied
by a subterranean roar, and followed by a terrific blast of wind,
threw down the houses of Aghurri, and at the same moment detached
enormous masses of rock with their superjacent ice from the cliffs that
surround the chasm. A shower of falling rocks overwhelmed in an instant
the village, the monastery, and a Kurdish encampment on the pastures
above. Not a soul survived to tell the tale. Four days afterwards,
the masses of snow and ice that had been precipitated into the glen
suddenly melted, and forming an irresistible torrent of water and mud,
swept along the channel of the stream and down the outer slopes of the
mountain, far away into the Aras Plain, bearing with them huge blocks,
and covering the ground for miles with a deep bed of mud and gravel....
Since then, a few huts have again arisen, somewhat lower down the slope
than the site of old Aghurri; here dwell a few Tatars, and pasture
their cattle on the sides of the valley, which grass has again begun
to clothe. But Noah’s vine and the primeval willow, and the little
monastery where Parrot lived so happily, among the few old monks who
had retired to this hallowed spot from the troubles of the world, are
gone for ever; no Christian bell is heard, no Christian service said
upon the Mountain of the Ark.’

From the Russian station of Aralykh, on the line where the last and
very gentle slope of Ararat melts into the perfectly flat bottom of
the Araxes valley, Mr Bryce and his companion commenced their ascent
of the mountain on the 11th of September 1876. The officer in command
at Aralykh, a Mohammedan noble from the Caucasus, gave them horses
and a mounted Cossack escort to take them to Sardarbulakh, a small
military outpost on the pass between Great and Little Ararat. Past
a Kurdish encampment and up a grassy slope the travellers ride to
Sardarbulakh—‘the Governor’s Well’—a very pleasant frontier-post,
but to them a place of refreshing indeed, though the beginning of
troubles. Horses could go no farther, the necessaries for bivouac
must be carried, and the Cossacks would not carry them. Kurds had to
be procured and bargained with, a time-wasting process all the more
trying to the travellers that they could not understand what was said
on either side. The glorious snows were beckoning them, the precious
minutes were flying, but there was nothing for it except patience.

At length it became evident that the travellers must camp at
Sardarbulakh; neither Kurd nor Cossack would face the terrors of the
mountain at night at an unfamiliar height. For the unforeseen annoyance
there arose one unexpected item of consolation; a band of Kurds, who
had just crossed the flanks of Little Ararat from Persia in search
of fresher pasture, came up, driving their cattle to the Governor’s
Well; and the travellers beheld, in the most ancient scene within
the historic record, a picture which vividly reproduced the first
simple life of the world. The well is an elliptical hollow three feet
deep, surrounded by a loose wall of lumps of lava; troughs were set
up all over the surrounding pasture. And Kurdish boys and girls went
busily to work filling brazen bowls and carrying the water to the
troughs, whence the sheep, small creatures like those of the Scotch
Highlands, and the goats—‘exactly like the scapegoat of Mr Holman
Hunt’s picture’—drank. For two hours the watering went on, and the
boys and girls and women were so intent upon their work that they
hardly glanced at the strangers from Frangistan, wonderfully foreign
as the group must have been to them. Only a few men were of the nomad
party, and they were armed; the women and girls were most picturesquely
dressed, all unveiled, and each carried a distaff in one hand, with
a lump of wool upon her wrist, and this they plied as they drove the
flocks before them. Mr Bryce sketches the scene in eloquent words: ‘In
the foreground were the beautiful flocks, the exquisite colours of the
women’s dresses and ornaments, their own graceful figures, the stir and
movement beside the clear pool, the expanse of rolling pasture around
with its patch of tender little birchwood. On each side a towering cone
rose to heaven, while in front the mountain slope swept down into the
broad valley, and beyond, stern red mountains ranged away, ridge over
ridge, to the eastern horizon, all bare and parched, with every peak
and gully standing sharp out through the clear air, yet softened by
distance into the most delicately rich and tender hues. Here, where
a picture of primitive life close at hand was combined with a vision
of broad countries, inhabited by many peoples, stretching out to the
shores of the inland sea of Asia, one seemed at a glance to take in and
realise their character and history, unchanging in the midst of change.
Through the empires of Assyria and Persia and Macedon, through Parthian
Arsacidæ and Iranian Sassanidæ, through the reigns of Arabian Califs
and Turkish Sultans and Persian Shahs, these Kurds have roamed as they
roam now, over the slopes of the everlasting mountains, watering their
flocks at this spring, pitching their goats-hair tents in the recesses
of these lonely rocks, chanting their wildly pathetic lays, with
neither a past to remember nor a future to plan for.’

Among the many memories of his ascent of Mount Ararat, doubtless
Mr Bryce will cherish that of the halt at the Governor’s Well with
peculiar pleasure. The bivouac too in such a spot, and amid the
astonishing silence of the mountains, where no torrents call to one
another, no rills ripple, no boughs rustle, no stones slip and fall,
must have been memorable too. At 1 A.M. the party started, thirteen in
number, and made across grassy hollows for the ridges which trend up
the great cone; the Kurds leading the way. The travellers’ hopes were
high; the Kurds got on rapidly; their pace was better than that of
the Swiss guides; but it soon slackened; and at the top of the first
steep bit these sturdy fellows sat down to rest; and they repeated the
performance every quarter of an hour, sitting seven or eight minutes
each time, smoking and chattering, and utterly indifferent to gestures
of remonstrance and appeals. The travellers could not make them
understand their speech—the interpreter had left them at Sardarbulakh;
‘and,’ says Mr Bryce, ‘it was all very well to beckon them, or pull
them by the elbow or clap them on the back; they thought this was only
our fun, and sat still and chattered all the same.’

When daylight came the travellers began to despair, but also to
enjoy the wonderful effects of light. At 3 A.M. they had seen the
morning-star spring up from behind the Median mountains, shedding a
light that almost outshone the moon. An hour later, there came upon
the topmost slope of the cold and ghostly snows of the cone, six
thousand feet above, a flush of pink. ‘Swiftly it floated down the
eastern face, and touched and kindled the rocks above us,’ says the
author; ‘and then the sun flamed out, and in a moment the Araxes
valley and all the hollows of the savage ridges we were crossing were
flooded with overpowering light.’ At six o’clock it became evident that
neither Cossacks nor Kurds would go farther. Mr Bryce then resolved to
leave them, to await his return or not as they pleased, and to make
the ascent of the snow-cone alone; his friend, being unequal to the
exertion, agreed to wait about and look out for him at nightfall. They
had now reached a height of twelve thousand feet; everything, except
Little Ararat opposite, lay below them; the awful cone rose there
from where they sat, its glittering snows and stern black crags of
lava standing up perfectly clear in a sea of cloudless blue; tempting
indeed, but awe-inspiring too, for the summit was hidden behind the
nearer slopes, and no one could tell what the difficulties of the
ascent might be. The Kurds and the Cossacks knew nothing, and could not
tell, if they _had_ known anything on the subject.

At 8 A.M. Mr Bryce buckled on his canvas gaiters, put some meat
lozenges, four hard-boiled eggs, a small flask of tea, some crusts of
bread, and a lemon, into his pocket, bade his friend good-bye, and
set off, accompanied, to his no small surprise, by two Cossacks (who
had been much amused by the ice-axe) and one Kurd. After two hours’
climbing, only one Cossack remained with the daring mountaineer, and
the courage of this worthy gave way before a terrible sheer cliff,
which had to be reached by steps cut in the intervening snow. Mr Bryce
bade him by signs return to the bivouac, and pressed on alone.

After two hours’ incessant toil up a straight slope of volcanic
minerals, fragments of trachyte and other stones, which perpetually
slipped under his foot and hand, it became a question whether the
gasping climber could possibly reach the desired goal. He would not
at all events give it up yet; and after a severe struggle with this
decidedly bad bit, he got on to a rock rib, where he was revived by
beholding a spectacle which he describes as perhaps the grandest on the
whole mountain. ‘At my foot,’ he says, ‘was a deep, narrow, impassable
gully, in whose bottom snow lay where the inclination was not too
steep. Beyond it a line of rocky towers, red, grim, and terrible, ran
right up towards the summit, its upper end lost in the clouds, through
which, as at intervals they broke or shifted, one could descry, far,
far above, a wilderness of snow.’

Having crossed the fissure, Mr Bryce began a tremendous climb along
a slope of friable rocks which ran up till lost in clouds, and among
which he was saluted by a violent sulphurous smell, which made him
look for some trace of an eruptive vent, or at least for hot vapours
betraying the presence of subterranean fires. Nothing of the kind
is to be seen, however, and he attributes the smell to the natural
decomposition of the trachytic rock, which is full of minute crystals
of sulphide of iron. All the way up this rock-slope, the climber
kept his eye fixed on its upper end, to see what signs there were of
crags or snow-fields above. He was now thousands of feet above Little
Ararat, which looked more like a broken obelisk than an independent
summit twelve thousand eight hundred feet in height. ‘With mists to
the left and above,’ he says, ‘and a range of black precipices cutting
off all view to the right, there came a vehement sense of isolation
and solitude, and I began to understand better the awe with which the
mountain-silence inspires the Kurdish shepherds. Overhead, the sky
had turned from dark blue to an intense bright green, a colour whose
strangeness added to the weird terror of the scene.’

In another hour he must turn back, whether he should have gained the
summit or not; to be overtaken by darkness upon the mountain would
mean death; already he was suffering very severely from cold, and his
strength was nearly exhausted. The rest must be told in his own simple
forcible words: ‘At length the rock-slope came suddenly to an end, and
I stepped out upon the almost level snow at the top of it, coming at
the same time into the clouds, which cling to the colder surfaces....
In the thick mist the eye could pierce only some thirty yards ahead;
so I walked on over the snow five or six minutes, following the rise
of its surface, which was gentle, and fancying there might still be a
good way to go. To mark the backward track, I trailed the point of the
ice-axe along behind me in the soft snow, for there was no longer any
landmark; all was closed on every side. Suddenly, to my astonishment,
the ground began to fall away to the north; I stopped; a puff of wind
drove off the mists on one side, the opposite side to that by which I
had come, and shewed the Araxes Plain at an abysmal depth below. It was
the top of Ararat.’

The traveller himself could not put into words the wonder and awe with
which he was filled by the spectacle which lay before him. We can
only indicate the chief features of that astonishing panorama, which
included Kazbek and Elbruz, the latter two hundred and eighty miles
away, and had the Caspian Sea upon its dim horizon. The mountains of
Daghestan, the extinct volcano of Ala Goz, Erivan with its orchards
and its vineyards, Araxes like a silver thread, the Taunus ranges and
Bingol Dagh, the great Russian fortress of Alexandropol, and Kars,
its enemy then, now in Russian hands. Two hundred miles away could be
faintly descried the blue tops of the Assyrian mountains of Southern
Kurdistan, ‘mountains that look down on Mosul and those huge mounds of
Nineveh by which the Tigris flows.’ Below and around, included in this
single view, seemed to lie the whole cradle of the human race, ‘from
Mesopotamia in the south to the great wall of the Caucasus that covered
the northern horizon, the boundary of the civilised world.’ No wonder
that looking on such a scene, a solitary man should feel terrified at
his own insignificance. ‘Nature,’ says the traveller, ‘sits enthroned,
serenely calm, upon this hoary pinnacle, and speaks to her children
only in the storm and earthquake that level their dwellings in the

No wonder the solitary man could take no heed of time until, while
the eye was still unsatisfied with gazing, the curtain of mist closed
again, and, says the author, ‘I was left alone in this little plain
of snow, white, silent, and desolate, with a vividly bright green sky
above it, and a wild west wind whistling across it, clouds girding it
in, and ever and anon through the clouds glimpses of far-stretching
valleys and mountains away to the world’s end.’

Mr Bryce accomplished the descent speedily and safely, reaching the
encampment at six o’clock in the evening. Two days later, he and his
friend went to visit the Armenian monastery of Etchmiadzin, near the
northern foot of Ararat, and were presented to the Archimandrite.
Here is Mr Bryce’s pithy account of the interview: ‘It came out in
conversation that we had been on the mountain, and the Armenian
gentleman who was acting as interpreter turned to the Archimandrite,
and said: “This Englishman says he has ascended to the top of Massis
(Ararat).” The venerable man smiled sweetly. “No,” he replied; “that
cannot be. No one has ever been there. It is impossible.”’


Sticklers for their rights or fancied rights are rarely deterred from
trying legal conclusions with an adversary by reason of the game not
being worth the candle. In 1819 the Master of the Rolls delivered
judgment in a case he described as the most difficult one he had ever
been called upon to decide; a case which had been before the court for
ten years, and cost each side some four thousand pounds; the matter in
dispute being the ownership of a couple of perches of land of the value
of ten pounds.

Not long ago a traveller by a London tram-car refused, ‘from
principle,’ to pay his fare of two-pence until he arrived at the end
of his journey; and a magistrate sympathising with him, dismissed the
summons obtained by the Company. The latter appealed to the Court of
Queen’s Bench, and got the case remitted to the police court; the
upshot being that the traveller was fined one shilling, and had to pay
the costs incurred by the Company, amounting to something like fifty

To pay for defeat is bad enough, but to win and yet lose by victory
is certainly worse. A gentleman once spent two thousand pounds in
establishing his claim to compensation for an infraction of his rights,
and then was awarded one hundred and ten pounds by the assessor of the
damages.—Nor, if his time was of any value to him, did a labourer,
seeking to recover ten shillings from an innkeeper for refusing to
supply him with refreshment, find himself the richer for invoking the
aid of the law. Going into a public-house, he called for half a pint
of ‘four-half,’ for which he put down his penny; but mine host refused
to serve him, so that he was compelled to go farther, to a house on
the opposite side of the street, where they sold beer that ‘did not
suit him so well.’ For this he claimed damages in the county court, and
got them, the judge giving him one shilling.—But more unfortunate was
a Yorkshire wight who won his cause and two shillings damages at York
assizes, but had to go to prison for his own costs.

Something said by a frank-speaking witness in a case tried by Lord
Mansfield impelled his lordship to remark: ‘You have said the parish
funds are often imprudently applied, and you have mentioned that you
once served as churchwarden yourself. If you have no objection, I
should wish to hear what was done with the money at that time?’

‘Why, my lord,’ said the farmer, ‘the money was worse applied when I
was churchwarden than ever I knew it to be in my life.’

‘Indeed,’ said the judge; ‘I should be glad to know how?’

‘Well, my lord, I will tell you,’ replied the witness. ‘A gentleman
left a hundred and twenty pounds to the poor of our parish. We applied
for it again and again; but it wouldn’t do: the executors, the lawyers,
and one and another were glad to keep the money in their hands; for
you know, my lord, it is an old saying, that might can overcome right.
We did not know what to do. I came to your lordship—then Counsellor
Murray—for advice, and you advised us to file a bill in Chancery. We
did so; and after throwing a great deal of good money after bad, we
got what they call a decree; and such a decree it was, that when all
expenses were paid, I reckon we were about a hundred and seventy-five
pounds out of pocket. Now, my lord, I leave you to judge whether the
parish money was not worse employed when I was churchwarden than ever
it was before.’ Lord Mansfield thought it might have been used to
better profit.

When a man makes a formal contract he should be sure it is one the law
will recognise. A would-be Benedict of Hancock, Ohio, offered fifty
dollars reward to any one who would procure him ‘a wife.’ Sam Wickham
introduced a bewitching widow, and the wedding soon came off. Then
Wickham wanted the dollars; but the happy man would not pay. His plea
perhaps was that he had got a widow and not a wife. Sam brought an
action for the money, and lost it, and as he paid his lawyer’s bill,
solemnly abjured the wife-procuring business henceforth for evermore.—A
year or two ago, one Thomas Clegg sued Charles Derrick in the Rochdale
county court upon the following bill of particulars: ‘For finding a
husband valued at fifty pounds, commission five per cent. per annum;
two pounds ten shillings.’ The plaintiff deposed that the wife of
the defendant, when a single woman, contracted with him to get her a
husband, saying, she was twenty-six, not married yet, and feared she
never would be; and if he would get Derrick to marry her, she would
pay him five per cent. upon fifty pounds a year. He brought the pair
together, and considered that the husband was bound to fulfil the
wife’s agreement. But Mr Clegg learned that a contract to procure
marriage between two parties for reward was altogether illegal, and
could not be sustained.

As regards matrimonial contracts, the sexes are assuredly not on an
equality. When Miss Roxalana Hoonan sued Mr Earle for breach of promise
in a Brooklyn court, she admitted the gentleman had never promised
marriage by his hand or tongue, but he had kissed her in company;
and Judge Neilson told the jury that no interchange of words was
necessary, ‘the gleam of the eye and the conjunction of the lips being
overtures when frequent and protracted;’ and thus directed, they made
the defendant pay fifteen thousand dollars for heedlessly indulging in
eye-gleams and lip-conjunctions.

Extreme explicitness would seem to be required when trafficking with
Frenchmen. In 1870, a lady purchased two hundred pounds’ worth of
jewellery in Paris, the jeweller giving her a written promise to
exchange the articles if not approved. She wore them for half-a-dozen
years, and then intimated to the astonished man her desire to change
them for others of newer style. He naturally demurred, arguing, as his
advocate urged before the civil tribunal, that it was unreasonable
that he should be called upon to accept at the price originally paid
for them, trinkets that had been used constantly for six years. The
court nevertheless decided that the agreement did not define the period
during which the exchange might be made, and he must do his customer’s
bidding. This might be law; equity it certainly was not. As we write,
a case of a very similar kind has just been decided in London against
Mr Streeter, the well-known jeweller, who, having promised to take back
a diamond ring if not approved of, was obliged to do so, though his
customer had retained it for three years.

Sharp practice is not always so successful. A gentleman took railway
tickets for himself, his servants, and his horses. After the passengers
were seated, it was found expedient to divide the train, the gentleman
being in the first part. When the second train was about to start,
the cry was ‘Tickets, please.’ The servants having none, they and the
horses were turned out of their places and left behind. The gentleman
sued the Company. The latter brought forward their by-law setting
forth that no passenger would be allowed to enter a carriage without
having first obtained a ticket, to be produced on demand. The court
very properly over-ruled the plea, deciding that by delivering the
tickets to the master, and not to the servants severally, the Company
had contracted with him personally, and could not justify their failure
to carry out the contract they had made. This was perhaps just, but
we should advise that in all such cases each passenger should have
possession of his own ticket.

Hood once figured in a court of law as a defendant in an action for
libel, the plaintiff being Sir John Carr, author of _The Stranger in
Ireland_, _The Stranger in France_, and other tedious books of travel.
Appended to the poet’s _My Pocket-book, or Hints for a right merrie
and conceited Tour, in Quarto, to be called the Stranger in Ireland
in 1805_, was a sketch entitled ‘The Knight leaving Ireland with
regret.’ This was the libel, being, as Sir John or his legal aid put
it, ‘a certain false, scandalous, malicious, ridiculous, and defamatory
representation of the said Sir John Carr, in the form of a man of
ludicrous and ridiculous appearance, holding a pocket-handkerchief to
his face, and appearing to be weeping, and also containing therein a
false, malicious, and ridiculous representation of a man of ridiculous
and ludicrous appearance following the said representation of the
said John Carr, and loaded with and bending under the weight of
three large books, and a pocket-handkerchief appearing to be held
in one of the hands of the representation of a man, and the corners
thereof appearing to be tied together as if containing something
therein, with the printed word _wardrobe_ depending therefrom; thereby
falsely and maliciously meaning and intending to represent, for the
purpose of rendering the said Sir John Carr ridiculous, and exposing
him to laughter, ridicule, and contempt, that one copy of the said
first above-mentioned book, and two copies of the said secondly
above-mentioned book, were so heavy as to cause a man to bend under the
weight thereof, and that his the said Sir John Carr’s wardrobe was very
small, and capable of being contained in a pocket-handkerchief.’ Spite
of this precise specification of the offence committed by the pencil of
the pun-loving poet, twelve good men and true failed to find that the
traveller had been libelled, however much he might have been affronted.

A young man losing his wits through parental thwarting of his
matrimonial aspirations, was placed in an asylum. Having occasion to
leave his charge for a few minutes, the attendant forgot to lock the
door upon him. The lunatic taking advantage of the oversight, slipped
out of the room, made his way to an upper gallery, smashed the window,
and leaped out a thirty feet fall. The shock restored his reason, but
he was crippled for life; and his father brought an action against the
superintendent of the asylum for compensation. The judge ruled that
the superintendent could not be held guilty of neglect because his
subordinate failed in his duty; and so saved the jury the trouble of
assessing damages, which, supposing they set the benefit done to the
patient’s mind against the injury done to his limbs, would have been a
difficult matter for calculation.

Almost as difficult as that left to certain assessors appointed by the
civil tribunal of Melun. The plaintiff in a case tried in that court
alleged that M. de Sagonrac had ordered his gamekeeper to place snares
near his land, in which ‘bats, owls and other night-birds’ were caught;
in consequence of which mice and other vermin had so multiplied that
his crops were spoiled. The tribunal holding that if the facts were so,
the defendant would be liable, appointed three farmers to ascertain
if any damage had been done to the plaintiff’s crops; whether that
damage was due to animals whose presence on the land arose from the
destruction of birds of prey by the defendant’s keeper; and if so, to
assess the amount of the plaintiff’s loss.—A yet more puzzling suit
is still at the time we write awaiting the decision of the American
bench. A landslip in Shodack filled up a creek and turned the water
in a different direction. The proprietor of a mill deprived of its
motive-power, sues the farmer owning the land on which the slip
occurred, not for damages, but to compel him to restore the stream to
its former channel.


A correspondent obliges us with the following: ‘Having read the “Story
of a Partridge and her Chicks,” which appeared in your _Journal_ of
October 6, 1877, I can fully concur with the writer regarding the
strong attachment the partridge has for her young.

‘When spending a few holidays in the Highlands last summer, I was
witness of a somewhat similar incident. Accompanying the worthy farmer
with whom I was staying to the hayfield one morning, the reapers
discovered a partridge sitting on her eggs right in the way of their
scythes. As they could not proceed without her being removed, the
farmer gently lifted her and placed the eggs one by one in his hat, to
carry them to a place of safety; the poor bird meanwhile being in great
distress, watching every movement with fluttering wings and palpitating
heart, thinking, no doubt, we intended robbing her. No sooner had she
seen the last egg safely removed, than, with a cry of delight, she flew
on to his shoulder, and leaping down on the hat containing her eggs,
carefully spread her feathers, and remained sitting upon them till
they were placed out of all danger under one of the hayricks. On going
to see how she fared in her new abode in the evening, we were greatly
surprised to see her surrounded by a numerous and interesting family.

‘This bird continued about the farm all the time the brood remained
by her, and at last got so tame that she would feed with the poultry.
But alas! Puss made sad havoc among her chicks, only seven out of the
twenty-three which were hatched coming to maturity. Whenever they got
the use of their wings, they disappeared, and have probably ere this
time gone the way of all flesh.’


    Something I’ve found on my way
              Through earth to-day;
    Something of value untold,
              Brighter than gold;
    Something more fair than the tint
              Of morning glint;
    Something more sweet than the song
              Of feathered throng;
    Something that lovelier glows
              Than queenly rose;
    Something more sparkling by far
              Than yon bright star;
    Something I cherish—how well?
              Words cannot tell.
    Something—Oh, can you not guess?
              Then I confess.
    Some one has said ‘Love is blind;’
              Yet do I find,
    Deep in the heart of my Love,
              My Treasure-Trove!

            H. K. W.

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

_All Rights Reserved._

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