Friday, November 9, 2007


The Romany Rye by George Borrow

The Romany Rye by George Borrow
The Making of the Linch-pin - The Sound Sleeper - Breakfast -
The Postillion's Departure.
I AWOKE at the first break of day, and, leaving the
postillion fast asleep, stepped out of the tent. The dingle
was dank and dripping. I lighted a fire of coals, and got my
forge in readiness. I then ascended to the field, where the
chaise was standing as we had left it on the previous
evening. After looking at the cloud-stone near it, now cold,
and split into three pieces, I set about prying narrowly into
the condition of the wheel and axletree - the latter had
sustained no damage of any consequence, and the wheel, as far
as I was able to judge, was sound, being only slightly
injured in the box. The only thing requisite to set the
chaise in a travelling condition appeared to be a linch-pin,
which I determined to make. Going to the companion wheel, I
took out the linch-pin, which I carried down with me to the
dingle, to serve as a model.
I found Belle by this time dressed, and seated near the
forge: with a slight nod to her like that which a person
gives who happens to see an acquaintance when his mind is
occupied with important business, I forthwith set about my
work. Selecting a piece of iron which I thought would serve
my purpose, I placed it in the fire, and plying the bellows
in a furious manner, soon made it hot; then seizing it with
the tongs, I laid it on my anvil, and began to beat it with
my hammer, according to the rules of my art. The dingle
resounded with my strokes. Belle sat still, and occasionally
smiled, but suddenly started up, and retreated towards her
encampment, on a spark which I purposely sent in her
direction alighting on her knee. I found the making of a
linch-pin no easy matter; it was, however, less difficult
than the fabrication of a pony-shoe; my work, indeed, was
much facilitated by my having another pin to look at. In
about three-quarters of an hour I had succeeded tolerably
well, and had produced a linch-pin which I thought would
serve. During all this time, notwithstanding the noise which
I was making, the postillion never showed his face. His nonappearance
at first alarmed me: I was afraid he might be
dead, but, on looking into the tent, I found him still buried
in the soundest sleep. "He must surely be descended from one
of the seven sleepers," said I, as I turned away, and resumed
my work. My work finished, I took a little oil, leather, and
sand, and polished the pin as well as I could; then,
summoning Belle, we both went to the chaise, where, with her
assistance, I put on the wheel. The linch-pin which I had
made fitted its place very well, and having replaced the
other, I gazed at the chaise for some time with my heart full
of that satisfaction which results from the consciousness of
having achieved a great action; then, after looking at Belle
in the hope of obtaining a compliment from her lips, which
did not come, I returned to the dingle, without saying a
word, followed by her. Belle set about making preparations
for breakfast; and I taking the kettle, went and filled it at
the spring. Having hung it over the fire, I went to the tent
in which the postillion was still sleeping, and called upon
him to arise. He awoke with a start, and stared around him
at first with the utmost surprise, not unmixed, I could
observe, with a certain degree of fear. At last, looking in
my face, he appeared to recollect himself. "I had quite
forgot," said he, as he got up, "where I was, and all that
happened yesterday. However, I remember now the whole
affair, thunder-storm, thunder-bolt, frightened horses, and
all your kindness. Come, I must see after my coach and
horses; I hope we shall be able to repair the damage." "The
damage is already quite repaired," said I, "as you will see,
if you come to the field above." "You don't say so," said
the postillion, coming out of the tent; "well, I am mightily
beholden to you. Good morning, young gentle-woman," said he,
addressing Belle, who, having finished her preparations, was
seated near the fire. "Good morning, young man," said Belle,
"I suppose you would be glad of some breakfast; however, you
must wait a little, the kettle does not boil." "Come and
look at your chaise," said I; "but tell me how it happened
that the noise which I have been making did not awake you;
for three-quarters of an hour at least I was hammering close
at your ear." "I heard you all the time," said the
postillion, "but your hammering made me sleep all the
sounder; I am used to hear hammering in my morning sleep.
There's a forge close by the room where I sleep when I'm at
home, at my inn; for we have all kinds of conveniences at my
inn - forge, carpenter's shop, and wheel-wright's, - so that
when I heard you hammering I thought, no doubt, that it was
the old noise, and that I was comfortable in my bed at my own
inn." We now ascended to the field, where I showed the
postillion his chaise. He looked at the pin attentively,
rubbed his hands, and gave a loud laugh. "Is it not well
done?" said I. "It will do till I get home," he replied.
"And that is all you have to say?" I demanded. "And that's a
good deal," said he, "considering who made it. But don't be
offended," he added, "I shall prize it all the more for its
being made by a gentleman, and no blacksmith; and so will my
governor, when I show it to him. I shan't let it remain
where it is, but will keep it, as a remembrance of you, as
long as I live." He then again rubbed his hands with great
glee, and said, "I will now go and see after my horses, and
then to breakfast, partner, if you please." Suddenly,
however, looking at his hands, he said, "Before sitting down
to breakfast I am in the habit of washing my hands and face:
I suppose you could not furnish me with a little soap and
water." "As much water as you please," said I, "but if you
want soap, I must go and trouble the young gentle-woman for
some." "By no means," said the postillion, "water will do at
a pinch." "Follow me," said I, and leading him to the pond
of the frogs and newts, I said, "this is my ewer; you are
welcome to part of it - the water is so soft that it is
scarcely necessary to add soap to it;" then lying down on the
bank, I plunged my head into the water, then scrubbed my
hands and face, and afterwards wiped them with some long
grass which grew on the margin of the pond. "Bravo," said
the postillion, "I see you know how to make a shift:" he then
followed my example, declared he never felt more refreshed in
his life, and, giving a bound, said, "he would go and look
after his horses."
We then went to look after the horses, which we found not
much the worse for having spent the night in the open air.
My companion again inserted their heads in the corn-bags,
and, leaving the animals to discuss their corn, returned with
me to the dingle, where we found the kettle boiling. We sat
down, and Belle made tea and did the honours of the meal.
The postillion was in high spirits, ate heartily, and, to
Belle's evident satisfaction, declared that he had never
drank better tea in his life, or indeed any half so good.
Breakfast over, he said that he must now go and harness his
horses, as it was high time for him to return to his inn.
Belle gave him her hand and wished him farewell: the
postillion shook her hand warmly, and was advancing close up
to her - for what purpose I cannot say - whereupon Belle,
withdrawing her hand, drew herself up with an air which
caused the postillion to retreat a step or two with an
exceedingly sheepish look. Recovering himself, however, he
made a low bow, and proceeded up the path. I attended him,
and helped to harness his horses and put them to the vehicle;
he then shook me by the hand, and taking the reins and whip,
mounted to his seat; ere he drove away he thus addressed me:
"If ever I forget your kindness and that of the young woman
below, dash my buttons. If ever either of you should enter
my inn you may depend upon a warm welcome, the best that can
be set before you, and no expense to either, for I will give
both of you the best of characters to the governor, who is
the very best fellow upon all the road. As for your linchpin,
I trust it will serve till I get home, when I will take
it out and keep it in remembrance of you all the days of my
life:" then giving the horses a jerk with his reins, he
cracked his whip and drove off.
I returned to the dingle, Belle had removed the breakfast
things, and was busy in her own encampment: nothing occurred,
worthy of being related, for two hours, at the end of which
time Belle departed on a short expedition, and I again found
myself alone in the dingle.
The Man in Black - The Emperor of Germany - Nepotism - Donna
Olympia - Omnipotence - Camillo Astalli - The Five
IN the evening I received another visit from the man in
black. I had been taking a stroll in the neighbourhood, and
was sitting in the dingle in rather a listless manner,
scarcely knowing how to employ myself; his coming, therefore,
was by no means disagreeable to me. I produced the hollands
and glass from my tent, where Isopel Berners had requested me
to deposit them, and also some lump sugar, then taking the
gotch I fetched water from the spring, and, sitting down,
begged the man in black to help himself; he was not slow in
complying with my desire, and prepared for himself a glass of
hollands and water with a lump of sugar in it. After he had
taken two or three sips with evident satisfaction, I,
remembering his chuckling exclamation of "Go to Rome for
money," when he last left the dingle, took the liberty, after
a little conversation, of reminding him of it, whereupon,
with a he! he! he! he replied, "Your idea was not quite so
original as I supposed. After leaving you the other night, I
remembered having read of an Emperor of Germany who conceived
the idea of applying to Rome for money, and actually put it
into practice.
"Urban the Eighth then occupied the papal chair, of the
family of the Barbarini, nicknamed the Mosche, or Flies, from
the circumstance of bees being their armorial bearing. The
Emperor having exhausted all his money in endeavouring to
defend the church against Gustavus Adolphus, the great King
of Sweden, who was bent on its destruction, applied in his
necessity to the Pope for a loan of money. The Pope,
however, and his relations, whose cellars were at that time
full of the money of the church, which they had been
plundering for years, refused to lend him a scudo; whereupon
a pasquinade picture was stuck up at Rome, representing the
church lying on a bed, gashed with dreadful wounds, and beset
all over with flies, which were sucking her, whilst the
Emperor of Germany was kneeling before her with a miserable
face, requesting a little money towards carrying on the war
against the heretics, to which the poor church was made to
say: 'How can I assist you, O my champion, do you not see
that the flies have sucked me to the very bones?' Which
story," said he, "shows that the idea of going to Rome for
money was not quite so original as I imagined the other
night, though utterly preposterous.
"This affair," said he, "occurred in what were called the
days of nepotism. Certain popes, who wished to make
themselves in some degree independent of the cardinals,
surrounded themselves with their nephews and the rest of
their family, who sucked the church and Christendom as much
as they could, none doing so more effectually than the
relations of Urban the Eighth, at whose death, according to
the book called the 'Nipotismo di Roma,' there were in the
Barbarini family two hundred and twenty-seven governments,
abbeys and high dignities; and so much hard cash in their
possession, that threescore and ten mules were scarcely
sufficient to convey the plunder of one of them to
Palestrina." He added, however, that it was probable that
Christendom fared better whilst the popes were thus
independent, as it was less sucked, whereas before and after
that period it was sucked by hundreds instead of tens, by the
cardinals and all their relations, instead of by the pope and
his nephews only.
Then, after drinking rather copiously of his hollands, he
said that it was certainly no bad idea of the popes to
surround themselves with nephews, on whom they bestowed great
church dignities, as by so doing they were tolerably safe
from poison, whereas a pope, if abandoned to the cardinals,
might at any time be made away with by them, provided they
thought that he lived too long, or that he seemed disposed to
do anything which they disliked; adding, that Ganganelli
would never have been poisoned provided he had had nephews
about him to take care of his life, and to see that nothing
unholy was put into his food, or a bustling stirring
brother's wife like Donna Olympia. He then with a he! he!
he! asked me if I had ever read the book called the
"Nipotismo di Roma"; and on my replying in the negative, he
told me that it was a very curious and entertaining book,
which he occasionally looked at in an idle hour, and
proceeded to relate to me anecdotes out of the "Nipotismo di
Roma," about the successor of Urban, Innocent the Tenth, and
Donna Olympia, showing how fond he was of her, and how she
cooked his food, and kept the cardinals away from it, and how
she and her creatures plundered Christendom, with the
sanction of the Pope, until Christendom, becoming enraged,
insisted that he should put her away, which he did for a
time, putting a nephew - one Camillo Astalli - in her place,
in which, however, he did not continue long; for the Pope,
conceiving a pique against him, banished him from his sight,
and recalled Donna Olympia, who took care of his food, and
plundered Christendom until Pope Innocent died.
I said that I only wondered that between pope and cardinals
the whole system of Rome had not long fallen to the ground,
and was told, in reply, that its not having fallen was the
strongest proof of its vital power, and the absolute
necessity for the existence of the system. That the system,
notwithstanding its occasional disorders, went on. Popes and
cardinals might prey upon its bowels, and sell its interests,
but the system survived. The cutting off of this or that
member was not able to cause Rome any vital loss; for, as
soon as she lost a member, the loss was supplied by her own
inherent vitality; though her popes had been poisoned by
cardinals, and her cardinals by popes; and though priests
occasionally poisoned popes, cardinals, and each other, after
all that had been, and might be, she had still, and would
ever have, her priests, cardinals, and pope.
Finding the man in black so communicative and reasonable, I
determined to make the best of my opportunity, and learn from
him all I could with respect to the papal system, and told
him that he would particularly oblige me by telling me who
the Pope of Rome was; and received for answer, that he was an
old man elected by a majority of cardinals to the papal
chair; who, immediately after his election, became omnipotent
and equal to God on earth. On my begging him not to talk
such nonsense, and asking him how a person could be
omnipotent who could not always preserve himself from poison,
even when fenced round by nephews, or protected by a bustling
woman, he, after taking a long sip of hollands and water,
told me that I must not expect too much from omnipotence; for
example, that as it would be unreasonable to expect that One
above could annihilate the past - for instance, the Seven
Years' War, or the French Revolution - though any one who
believed in Him would acknowledge Him to be omnipotent, so
would it be unreasonable for the faithful to expect that the
Pope could always guard himself from poison. Then, after
looking at me for a moment stedfastly, and taking another
sip, he told me that popes had frequently done
impossibilities; for example, Innocent the Tenth had created
a nephew; for, not liking particularly any of his real
nephews, he had created the said Camillo Astalli his nephew;
asking me, with a he! he! "What but omnipotence could make a
young man nephew to a person to whom he was not in the
slightest degree related?" On my observing that of course no
one believed that the young fellow was really the Pope's
nephew, though the Pope might have adopted him as such, the
man in black replied, "that the reality of the nephewship of
Camillo Astalli had hitherto never become a point of faith;
let, however, the present pope, or any other pope, proclaim
that it is necessary to believe in the reality of the
nephewship of Camillo Astalli, and see whether the faithful
would not believe in it. Who can doubt that," he added,
"seeing that they believe in the reality of the five
propositions of Jansenius? The Jesuits, wishing to ruin the
Jansenists, induced a pope to declare that such and such
damnable opinions, which they called five propositions, were
to be found in a book written by Jansen, though, in reality,
no such propositions were to be found there; whereupon the
existence of these propositions became forthwith a point of
faith to the faithful. Do you then think," he demanded,
"that there is one of the faithful who would not swallow, if
called upon, the nephewship of Camillo Astalli as easily as
the five propositions of Jansenius?" "Surely, then," said I,
"the faithful must be a pretty pack of simpletons!"
Whereupon the man in black exclaimed, "What! a Protestant,
and an infringer of the rights of faith! Here's a fellow,
who would feel himself insulted if any one were to ask him
how he could believe in the miraculous conception, calling
people simpletons who swallow the five propositions of
Jansenius, and are disposed, if called upon, to swallow the
reality of the nephewship of Camillo Astalli."
I was about to speak, when I was interrupted by the arrival
of Belle. After unharnessing her donkey, and adjusting her
person a little, she came and sat down by us. In the
meantime I had helped my companion to some more hollands and
water, and had plunged with him into yet deeper discourse.
Necessity of Religion - The Great Indian One - Image-worship
- Shakespeare - The Pat Answer - Krishna - Amen.
HAVING told the man in black that I should like to know all
the truth with regard to the Pope and his system, he assured
me he should be delighted to give me all the information in
his power; that he had come to the dingle, not so much for
the sake of the good cheer which I was in the habit of giving
him, as in the hope of inducing me to enlist under the
banners of Rome, and to fight in her cause; and that he had
no doubt that, by speaking out frankly to me, he ran the best
chance of winning me over.
He then proceeded to tell me that the experience of countless
ages had proved the necessity of religion; the necessity, he
would admit, was only for simpletons; but as nine-tenths of
the dwellers upon this earth were simpletons, it would never
do for sensible people to run counter to their folly, but, on
the contrary, it was their wisest course to encourage them in
it, always provided that, by so doing, sensible people would
derive advantage; that the truly sensible people of this
world were the priests, who, without caring a straw for
religion for its own sake, made use of it as a cord by which
to draw the simpletons after them; that there were many
religions in this world, all of which had been turned to
excellent account by the priesthood; but that the one the
best adapted for the purposes of priestcraft was the popish,
which, he said, was the oldest in the world and the best
calculated to endure. On my inquiring what he meant by
saying the popish religion was the oldest in the world,
whereas there could be no doubt that the Greek and Roman
religion had existed long before it, to say nothing of the
old Indian religion still in existence and vigour; he said,
with a nod, after taking a sip at his glass, that, between me
and him, the popish religion, that of Greece and Rome, and
the old Indian system were, in reality, one and the same.
"You told me that you intended to be frank," said I; "but,
however frank you may be, I think you are rather wild."
"We priests of Rome," said the man in black, "even those
amongst us who do not go much abroad, know a great deal about
church matters, of which you heretics have very little idea.
Those of our brethren of the Propaganda, on their return home
from distant missions, not unfrequently tell us very strange
things relating to our dear mother; for example, our first
missionaries to the East were not slow in discovering and
telling to their brethren that our religion and the great
Indian one were identical, no more difference between them
than between Ram and Rome. Priests, convents, beads,
prayers, processions, fastings, penances, all the same, not
forgetting anchorites and vermin, he! he! The pope they
found under the title of the grand lama, a sucking child
surrounded by an immense number of priests. Our good
brethren, some two hundred years ago, had a hearty laugh,
which their successors have often re-echoed; they said that
helpless suckling and its priests put them so much in mind of
their own old man, surrounded by his cardinals, he! he! Old
age is second childhood."
"Did they find Christ?" said I.
"They found him too," said the man in black, "that is, they
saw his image; he is considered in India as a pure kind of
being, and on that account, perhaps, is kept there rather in
the background, even as he is here."
"All this is very mysterious to me," said I.
"Very likely," said the man in black; "but of this I am
tolerably sure, and so are most of those of Rome, that modern
Rome had its religion from ancient Rome, which had its
religion from the East."
"But how?" I demanded.
"It was brought about, I believe, by the wanderings of
nations," said the man in black. "A brother of the
Propaganda, a very learned man, once told me - I do not mean
Mezzofanti, who has not five ideas - this brother once told
me that all we of the Old World, from Calcutta to Dublin, are
of the same stock, and were originally of the same language,
and - "
"All of one religion," I put in.
"All of one religion," said the man in black; "and now follow
different modifications of the same religion."
"We Christians are not image-worshippers," said I.
"You heretics are not, you mean," said the man in black; "but
you will be put down, just as you have always been, though
others may rise up after you; the true religion is imageworship;
people may strive against it, but they will only
work themselves to an oil; how did it fare with that Greek
Emperor, the Iconoclast, what was his name, Leon the
Isaurian? Did not his image-breaking cost him Italy, the
fairest province of his empire, and did not ten fresh images
start up at home for every one which he demolished? Oh! you
little know the craving which the soul sometimes feels after
a good bodily image."
"I have indeed no conception of it," said I; "I have an
abhorrence of idolatry - the idea of bowing before a graven
"The idea, indeed!" said Belle, who had now joined us.
"Did you never bow before that of Shakespeare?" said the man
in black, addressing himself to me, after a low bow to Belle.
"I don't remember that I ever did," said I, "but even suppose
I did?"
"Suppose you did," said the man in black; "shame on you, Mr.
Hater of Idolatry; why, the very supposition brings you to
the ground; you must make figures of Shakespeare, must you?
then why not of St. Antonio, or Ignacio, or of a greater
personage still! I know what you are going to say," he
cried, interrupting me, as I was about to speak. "You don't
make his image in order to pay it divine honours, but only to
look at it, and think of Shakespeare; but this looking at a
thing in order to think of a person is the very basis of
idolatry. Shakespeare's works are not sufficient for you; no
more are the Bible or the legend of Saint Anthony or Saint
Ignacio for us, that is for those of us who believe in them;
I tell you, Zingara, that no religion can exist long which
rejects a good bodily image."
"Do you think," said I, "that Shakespeare's works would not
exist without his image?"
"I believe," said the man in black, "that Shakespeare's image
is looked at more than his works, and will be looked at, and
perhaps adored, when they are forgotten. I am surprised that
they have not been forgotten long ago; I am no admirer of
"But I can't imagine," said I, "how you will put aside the
authority of Moses. If Moses strove against image-worship,
should not his doing so be conclusive as to the impropriety
of the practice: what higher authority can you have than that
of Moses?"
"The practice of the great majority of the human race," said
the man in black, "and the recurrence to image-worship where
image-worship has been abolished. Do you know that Moses is
considered by the church as no better than a heretic, and
though, for particular reasons, it has been obliged to adopt
his writings, the adoption was merely a sham one, as it never
paid the slightest attention to them? No, no, the church was
never led by Moses, nor by one mightier than he, whose
doctrine it has equally nullified - I allude to Krishna in
his second avatar; the church, it is true, governs in his
name, but not unfrequently gives him the lie, if he happens
to have said anything which it dislikes. Did you never hear
the reply which Padre Paolo Segani made to the French
Protestant Jean Anthoine Guerin, who had asked him whether it
was easier for Christ to have been mistaken in his Gospel,
than for the Pope to be mistaken in his decrees?"
"I never heard their names before," said I.
"The answer was pat," said the man in black, "though he who
made it was confessedly the most ignorant fellow of the very
ignorant order to which he belonged, the Augustine. 'Christ
might err as a man,' said he, 'but the Pope can never err,
being God.' The whole story is related in the Nipotismo."
"I wonder you should ever have troubled yourself with Christ
at all," said I.
"What was to be done?" said the man in black; "the power of
that name suddenly came over Europe, like the power of a
mighty wind; it was said to have come from Judea, and from
Judea it probably came when it first began to agitate minds
in these parts; but it seems to have been known in the remote
East, more or less, for thousands of years previously. It
filled people's minds with madness; it was followed by books
which were never much regarded, as they contained little of
insanity; but the name! what fury that breathed into people!
the books were about peace and gentleness, but the name was
the most horrible of war-cries - those who wished to uphold
old names at first strove to oppose it, but their efforts
were feeble, and they had no good war-cry; what was Mars as a
war-cry compared with the name of . . . ? It was said that
they persecuted terribly, but who said so? The Christians.
The Christians could have given them a lesson in the art of
persecution, and eventually did so. None but Christians have
ever been good persecutors; well, the old religion succumbed,
Christianity prevailed, for the ferocious is sure to prevail
over the gentle."
"I thought," said I, "you stated a little time ago that the
Popish religion and the ancient Roman are the same?"
"In every point but that name, that Krishna and the fury and
love of persecution which it inspired," said the man in
black. "A hot blast came from the East, sounding Krishna; it
absolutely maddened people's minds, and the people would call
themselves his children; we will not belong to Jupiter any
longer, we will belong to Krishna, and they did belong to
Krishna; that is in name, but in nothing else; for who ever
cared for Krishna in the Christian world, or who ever
regarded the words attributed to him, or put them in
"Why, we Protestants regard his words, and endeavour to
practise what they enjoin as much as possible."
"But you reject his image," sad the man in black; "better
reject his words than his image: no religion can exist long
which rejects a good bodily image. Why, the very negro
barbarians of High Barbary could give you a lesson on that
point; they have their fetish images, to which they look for
help in their afflictions; they have likewise a high priest,
whom they call - "
"Mumbo Jumbo," said I; "I know all about him already."
"How came you to know anything about him?" said the man in
black, with a look of some surprise.
"Some of us poor Protestants tinkers," said I, "though we
live in dingles, are also acquainted with a thing or two."
"I really believe you are," said the man in black, staring at
me; "but, in connection with this Mumbo Jumbo, I could relate
to you a comical story about a fellow, an English servant, I
once met at Rome."
"It would be quite unnecessary," said I; "I would much sooner
hear you talk about Krishna, his words and image."
"Spoken like a true heretic," said the man in black; "one of
the faithful would have placed his image before his words;
for what are all the words in the world compared with a good
bodily image!"
"I believe you occasionally quote his words?" said I.
"He! he!" said the man in black; "occasionally."
"For example," said I, "upon this rock I will found my
"He! he!" said the man in black; "you must really become one
of us."
"Yet you must have had some difficulty in getting the rock to
"None whatever," said the man in black; "faith can remove
mountains, to say nothing of rocks - ho! ho!"
"But I cannot imagine," said I, "what advantage you could
derive from perverting those words of Scripture in which the
Saviour talks about eating his body."
"I do not know, indeed, why we troubled our heads about the
matter at all," said the man in black; "but when you talk
about perverting the meaning of the text, you speak
ignorantly, Mr. Tinker; when he whom you call the Saviour
gave his followers the sop, and bade them eat it, telling
them it was his body, he delicately alluded to what it was
incumbent upon them to do after his death, namely, to eat his
"You do not mean to say that he intended they should actually
eat his body?"
"Then you suppose ignorantly," said the man in black; "eating
the bodies of the dead was a heathenish custom, practised by
the heirs and legatees of people who left property; and this
custom is alluded to in the text."
"But what has the New Testament to do with heathen customs,"
said I, "except to destroy them?"
"More than you suppose," said the man in black. "We priests
of Rome, who have long lived at Rome, know much better what
the New Testament is made of than the heretics and their
theologians, not forgetting their Tinkers; though I confess
some of the latter have occasionally surprised us - for
example, Bunyan. The New Testament is crowded with allusions
to heathen customs, and with words connected with pagan
sorcery. Now, with respect to words, I would fain have you,
who pretend to be a philologist, tell me the meaning of
I made no answer.
"We of Rome," said the man in black, "know two or three
things of which the heretics are quite ignorant; for example,
there are those amongst us - those, too, who do not pretend
to be philologists - who know what Amen is, and, moreover,
how we got it. We got it from our ancestors, the priests of
ancient Rome; and they got the word from their ancestors of
the East, the priests of Buddh and Brahma."
"And what is the meaning of the word?" I demanded.
"Amen," said the man in black, "is a modification of the old
Hindoo formula, Omani batsikhom, by the almost ceaseless
repetition of which the Indians hope to be received finally
to the rest or state of forgetfulness of Buddh or Brahma; a
foolish practice you will say, but are you heretics much
wiser, who are continually sticking Amen to the end of your
prayers, little knowing when you do so, that you are
consigning yourselves to the repose of Buddh! Oh, what
hearty laughs our missionaries have had when comparing the
eternally-sounding Eastern gibberish of Omani batsikhom,
Omani batsikhom, and the Ave Maria and Amen Jesus of our own
idiotical devotees."
"I have nothing to say about the Ave Marias and Amens of your
superstitious devotees," said I; "I dare say that they use
them nonsensically enough, but in putting Amen to the end of
a prayer, we merely intend to express, 'So let it be.'"
"It means nothing of the kind," said the man in black; "and
the Hindoos might just as well put your national oath at the
end of their prayers, as perhaps they will after a great many
thousand years, when English is forgotten, and only a few
words of it remembered by dim tradition without being
understood. How strange if, after the lapse of four thousand
years, the Hindoos should damn themselves to the blindness so
dear to their present masters, even as their masters at
present consign themselves to the forgetfulness so dear to
the Hindoos; but my glass has been empty for a considerable
time; perhaps, Bellissima Biondina," said he, addressing
Belle, "you will deign to replenish it?"
"I shall do no such thing," said Belle, "you have drunk quite
enough, and talked more than enough, and to tell you the
truth I wish you would leave us alone."
"Shame on you, Belle," said I; "consider the obligations of
"I am sick of that word," said Belle, "you are so frequently
misusing it; were this place not Mumpers' Dingle, and
consequently as free to the fellow as ourselves, I would lead
him out of it."
"Pray be quiet, Belle," said I. "You had better help
yourself," said I, addressing myself to the man in black,
"the lady is angry with you."
"I am sorry for it," said the man in black; "if she is angry
with me, I am not so with her, and shall be always proud to
wait upon her; in the meantime, I will wait upon myself."
The Proposal - The Scotch Novel - Latitude - Miracles -
Pestilent Heretics - Old Fraser - Wonderful Texts - No
THE man in black having helped himself to some more of his
favourite beverage, and tasted it, I thus addressed him: "The
evening is getting rather advanced, and I can see that this
lady," pointing to Belle, "is anxious for her tea, which she
prefers to take cosily and comfortably with me in the dingle:
the place, it is true, is as free to you as to ourselves,
nevertheless, as we are located here by necessity, whilst you
merely come as a visitor, I must take the liberty of telling
you that we shall be glad to be alone, as soon as you have
said what you have to say, and have finished the glass of
refreshment at present in your hand. I think you said some
time ago that one of your motives for coming hither was to
induce me to enlist under the banner of Rome. I wish to know
whether that was really the case?"
"Decidedly so," said the man in black; "I come here
principally in the hope of enlisting you in our regiment, in
which I have no doubt you could do us excellent service."
"Would you enlist my companion as well?" I demanded.
"We should be only too proud to have her among us, whether
she comes with you or alone," said the man in black, with a
polite bow to Belle.
"Before we give you an answer," I replied, "I would fain know
more about you; perhaps you will declare your name?"
"That I will never do," said the man in black; "no one in
England knows it but myself, and I will not declare it, even
in a dingle; as for the rest, SONO UN PRETE CATTOLICO
APPOSTOLICO - that is all that many a one of us can say for
himself, and it assuredly means a great deal."
"We will now proceed to business," said I. "You must be
aware that we English are generally considered a selfinterested
"And with considerable justice," said the man in black,
drinking. "Well, you are a person of acute perception, and I
will presently make it evident to you that it would be to
your interest to join with us. You are at present,
evidently, in very needy circumstances, and are lost, not
only to yourself, but to the world; but should you enlist
with us, I could find you an occupation not only agreeable,
but one in which your talents would have free scope. I would
introduce you in the various grand houses here in England, to
which I have myself admission, as a surprising young
gentleman of infinite learning, who by dint of study has
discovered that the Roman is the only true faith. I tell you
confidently that our popish females would make a saint, nay,
a God of you; they are fools enough for anything. There is
one person in particular with whom I would wish to make you
acquainted, in the hope that you would be able to help me to
perform good service to the holy see. He is a gouty old
fellow, of some learning, residing in an old hall, near the
great western seaport, and is one of the very few amongst the
English Catholics possessing a grain of sense. I think you
could help us to govern him, for he is not unfrequently
disposed to be restive, asks us strange questions -
occasionally threatens us with his crutch; and behaves so
that we are often afraid that we shall lose him, or, rather,
his property, which he has bequeathed to us, and which is
enormous. I am sure that you could help us to deal with him;
sometimes with your humour, sometimes with your learning, and
perhaps occasionally with your fists."
"And in what manner would you provide for my companion?" said
"We would place her at once," said the man in black, "in the
house of two highly respectable Catholic ladies in this
neighbourhood, where she would be treated with every care and
consideration till her conversion should be accomplished in a
regular manner; we would then remove her to a female monastic
establishment, where, after undergoing a year's probation,
during which time she would be instructed in every elegant
accomplishment, she should take the veil. Her advancement
would speedily follow, for, with such a face and figure, she
would make a capital lady abbess, especially in Italy, to
which country she would probably be sent; ladies of her hair
and complexion - to say nothing of her height - being a
curiosity in the south. With a little care and management
she could soon obtain a vast reputation for sanctity; and who
knows but after her death she might become a glorified saint
- he! he! Sister Maria Theresa, for that is the name I
propose you should bear. Holy Mother Maria Theresa -
glorified and celestial saint, I have the honour of drinking
to your health," and the man in black drank.
"Well, Belle," said I, "what have you to say to the
gentleman's proposal?"
"That if he goes on in this way I will break his glass
against his mouth."
"You have heard the lady's answer," said I.
"I have," said the man in black, "and shall not press the
matter. I can't help, however, repeating that she would make
a capital lady abbess; she would keep the nuns in order, I
warrant her; no easy matter! Break the glass against my
mouth - he! he! How she would send the holy utensils flying
at the nuns' heads occasionally, and just the person to wring
the nose of Satan, should he venture to appear one night in
her cell in the shape of a handsome black man. No offence,
madam, no offence, pray retain your seat," said he, observing
that Belle had started up; "I mean no offence. Well, if you
will not consent to be an abbess, perhaps you will consent to
follow this young Zingaro, and to co-operate with him and us.
I am a priest, madam, and can join you both in an instant,
CONNUBIO STABILI, as I suppose the knot has not been tied
"Hold your mumping gibberish," said Belle, "and leave the
dingle this moment, for though 'tis free to every one, you
have no right to insult me in it."
"Pray be pacified," said I to Belle, getting up, and placing
myself between her and the man in black, "he will presently
leave, take my word for it - there, sit down again," said I,
as I led her to her seat; then, resuming my own, I said to
the man in black: "I advise you to leave the dingle as soon
as possible."
"I should wish to have your answer to my proposal first,"
said he.
"Well, then, here you shall have it: I will not entertain
your proposal; I detest your schemes: they are both wicked
and foolish."
"Wicked," said the man in black, "have they not - he! he! -
the furtherance of religion in view?"
"A religion," said I, "in which you yourself do not believe,
and which you contemn."
"Whether I believe in it or not," said the man in black, "it
is adapted for the generality of the human race; so I will
forward it, and advise you to do the same. It was nearly
extirpated in these regions, but it is springing up again,
owing to circumstances. Radicalism is a good friend to us;
all the liberals laud up our system out of hatred to the
Established Church, though our system is ten times less
liberal than the Church of England. Some of them have really
come over to us. I myself confess a baronet who presided
over the first radical meeting ever held in England - he was
an atheist when he came over to us, in the hope of mortifying
his own church - but he is now - ho! ho! - a real Catholic
devotee - quite afraid of my threats; I make him frequently
scourge himself before me. Well, Radicalism does us good
service, especially amongst the lower classes, for Radicalism
chiefly flourishes amongst them; for though a baronet or two
may be found amongst the radicals, and perhaps as many lords
- fellows who have been discarded by their own order for
clownishness, or something they have done - it incontestably
flourishes best among the lower orders. Then the love of
what is foreign is a great friend to us; this love is chiefly
confined to the middle and upper classes. Some admire the
French, and imitate them; others must needs be Spaniards,
dress themselves up in a zamarra, stick a cigar in their
mouth, and say, 'Carajo.' Others would pass for Germans; he!
he! the idea of any one wishing to pass for a German! but
what has done us more service than anything else in these
regions - I mean amidst the middle classes - has been the
novel, the Scotch novel. The good folks, since they have
read the novels, have become Jacobites; and, because all the
Jacobs were Papists, the good folks must become Papists also,
or, at least, papistically inclined. The very Scotch
Presbyterians, since they have read the novels, are become
all but Papists; I speak advisedly, having lately been
amongst them. There's a trumpery bit of a half papist sect,
called the Scotch Episcopalian Church, which lay dormant and
nearly forgotten for upwards of a hundred years, which has of
late got wonderfully into fashion in Scotland, because,
forsooth, some of the long-haired gentry of the novels were
said to belong to it, such as Montrose and Dundee; and to
this the Presbyterians are going over in throngs, traducing
and vilifying their own forefathers, or denying them
altogether, and calling themselves descendants of - ho! ho!
ho! - Scottish Cavaliers!!! I have heard them myself
repeating snatches of Jacobite ditties about 'Bonnie Dundee,'
and -
"'Come, fill up my cup, and fill up my can,
And saddle my horse, and call up my man.'
There's stuff for you! Not that I object to the first part
of the ditty. It is natural enough that a Scotchman should
cry, 'Come, fill up my cup!' more especially if he's drinking
at another person's expense - all Scotchmen being fond of
liquor at free cost: but 'Saddle his horse!!!' - for what
purpose, I would ask? Where is the use of saddling a horse,
unless you can ride him? and where was there ever a Scotchman
who could ride?"
"Of course you have not a drop of Scotch blood in your
veins," said I, "otherwise you would never have uttered that
last sentence."
"Don't be too sure of that," said the man in black; "you know
little of Popery if you imagine that it cannot extinguish
love of country, even in a Scotchman. A thorough-going
Papist - and who more thorough-going than myself? - cares
nothing for his country; and why should he? he belongs to a
system, and not to a country."
"One thing," said I, "connected with you, I cannot
understand; you call yourself a thorough-going Papist, yet
are continually saying the most pungent things against
Popery, and turning to unbounded ridicule those who show any
inclination to embrace it."
"Rome is a very sensible old body," said the man in black,
"and little cares what her children say, provided they do her
bidding. She knows several things, and amongst others, that
no servants work so hard and faithfully as those who curse
their masters at every stroke they do. She was not fool
enough to be angry with the Miquelets of Alba, who renounced
her, and called her 'puta' all the time they were cutting the
throats of the Netherlanders. Now, if she allowed her
faithful soldiers the latitude of renouncing her, and calling
her 'puta' in the market-place, think not she is so
unreasonable as to object to her faithful priests
occasionally calling her 'puta' in the dingle."
"But," said I, "suppose some one were to tell the world some
of the disorderly things which her priests say in the
"He would have the fate of Cassandra," said the man in black;
"no one would believe him - yes, the priests would: but they
would make no sign of belief. They believe in the Alcoran
des Cordeliers - that is, those who have read it; but they
make no sign."
"A pretty system," said I, "which extinguishes love of
country and of everything noble, and brings the minds of its
ministers to a parity with those of devils, who delight in
nothing but mischief."
"The system," said the man in black, "is a grand one, with
unbounded vitality. Compare it with your Protestantism, and
you will see the difference. Popery is ever at work, whilst
Protestantism is supine. A pretty church, indeed, the
Protestant! Why, it can't even work a miracle."
"Can your church work miracles?" I demanded.
"That was the very question," said the man in black, "which
the ancient British clergy asked of Austin Monk, after they
had been fools enough to acknowledge their own inability.
'We don't pretend to work miracles; do you?' 'Oh! dear me,
yes,' said Austin; 'we find no difficulty in the matter. We
can raise the dead, we can make the blind see; and to
convince you, I will give sight to the blind. Here is this
blind Saxon, whom you cannot cure, but on whose eyes I will
manifest my power, in order to show the difference between
the true and the false church;' and forthwith, with the
assistance of a handkerchief and a little hot water, he
opened the eyes of the barbarian. So we manage matters! A
pretty church, that old British church, which could not work
miracles - quite as helpless as the modern one. The fools!
was birdlime so scarce a thing amongst them? - and were the
properties of warm water so unknown to them, that they could
not close a pair of eyes and open them?"
"It's a pity," said I, "that the British clergy at that
interview with Austin, did not bring forward a blind
Welshman, and ask the monk to operate upon him."
"Clearly," said the man in black; "that's what they ought to
have done; but they were fools without a single resource."
Here he took a sip at his glass.
"But they did not believe in the miracle?" said I.
"And what did their not believing avail them?" said the man
in black. "Austin remained master of the field, and they
went away holding their heads down, and muttering to
themselves. What a fine subject for a painting would be
Austin's opening the eyes of the Saxon barbarian, and the
discomfiture of the British clergy! I wonder it has not been
painted! - he! he!"
"I suppose your church still performs miracles occasionally!"
said I.
"It does," said the man in black. "The Rev. - has lately
been performing miracles in Ireland, destroying devils that
had got possession of people; he has been eminently
successful. In two instances he not only destroyed the
devils, but the lives of the people possessed - he! he! Oh!
there is so much energy in our system; we are always at work,
whilst Protestantism is supine."
"You must not imagine," said I, "that all Protestants are
supine; some of them appear to be filled with unbounded zeal.
They deal, it is true, not in lying miracles, but they
propagate God's Word. I remember only a few months ago,
having occasion for a Bible, going to an establishment, the
object of which was to send Bibles all over the world. The
supporters of that establishment could have no selfinterested
views; for I was supplied by them with a noblesized
Bible at a price so small as to preclude the idea that
it could bring any profit to the vendors."
The countenance of the man in black slightly fell. "I know
the people to whom you allude," said he; "indeed, unknown to
them, I have frequently been to see them, and observed their
ways. I tell you frankly that there is not a set of people
in this kingdom who have caused our church so much trouble
and uneasiness. I should rather say that they alone cause us
any; for as for the rest, what with their drowsiness, their
plethora, their folly and their vanity, they are doing us
anything but mischief. These fellows are a pestilent set of
heretics, whom we would gladly see burnt; they are, with the
most untiring perseverance, and in spite of divers minatory
declarations of the holy father, scattering their books
abroad through all Europe, and have caused many people in
Catholic countries to think that hitherto their priesthood
have endeavoured, as much as possible, to keep them blinded.
There is one fellow amongst them for whom we entertain a
particular aversion; a big, burly parson, with the face of a
lion, the voice of a buffalo, and a fist like a sledgehammer.
The last time I was there, I observed that his eye
was upon me, and I did not like the glance he gave me at all;
I observed him clench his fist, and I took my departure as
fast as I conveniently could. Whether he suspected who I
was, I know not; but I did not like his look at all, and do
not intend to go again."
"Well, then," said I, "you confess that you have redoubtable
enemies to your plans in these regions, and that even amongst
the ecclesiastics there are some widely different from those
of the plethoric and Platitude schools?"
"It is but too true," said the man in black; "and if the rest
of your church were like them we should quickly bid adieu to
all hope of converting these regions, but we are thankful to
be able to say that such folks are not numerous; there are,
moreover, causes at work quite sufficient to undermine even
their zeal. Their sons return at the vacations, from Oxford
and Cambridge, puppies, full of the nonsense which they have
imbibed from Platitude professors; and this nonsense they
retail at home, where it fails not to make some impression,
whilst the daughters scream - I beg their pardons - warble
about Scotland's Montrose and Bonny Dundee, and all the
Jacobs; so we have no doubt that their papas' zeal about the
propagation of such a vulgar book as the Bible will in a very
little time be terribly diminished. Old Rome will win, so
you had better join her."
And the man in black drained the last drop in his glass.
"Never," said I, "will I become the slave of Rome."
"She will allow you latitude," said the man in black; "do but
serve her, and she will allow you to call her 'puta' at a
decent time and place, her popes occasionally call her
'puta.' A pope has been known to start from his bed at
midnight and rush out into the corridor, and call out 'puta'
three times in a voice which pierced the Vatican; that pope
was - "
"Alexander the Sixth, I dare say," said I; "the greatest
monster that ever existed, though the worthiest head which
the pope system ever had - so his conscience was not always
still. I thought it had been seared with a brand of iron."
"I did not allude to him, but to a much more modern pope,"
said the man in black; "it is true he brought the word, which
is Spanish, from Spain, his native country, to Rome. He was
very fond of calling the church by that name, and other popes
have taken it up. She will allow you to call her by it, if
you belong to her."
"I shall call her so," said I, "without belonging to her, or
asking her permission."
"She will allow you to treat her as such, if you belong to
her," said the man in black; "there is a chapel in Rome,
where there is a wondrously fair statue - the son of a
cardinal - I mean his nephew - once - Well, she did not cut
off his head, but slightly boxed his cheek and bade him go."
"I have read all about that in 'Keysler's Travels,'" said I;
"do you tell her that I would not touch her with a pair of
tongs, unless to seize her nose."
"She is fond of lucre," said the man in black; "but does not
grudge a faithful priest a little private perquisite," and he
took out a very handsome gold repeater.
"Are you not afraid," said I, "to flash that watch before the
eyes of a poor tinker in a dingle?"
"Not before the eyes of one like you," said the man in black.
"It is getting late," said I; "I care not for perquisites."
"So you will not join us?" said the man in black.
"You have had my answer," said I.
"If I belong to Rome," said the man in black, "why should not
"I may be a poor tinker," said I; "but I may never have
undergone what you have. You remember, perhaps, the fable of
the fox who had lost his tail?"
The man in black winced, but almost immediately recovering
himself, he said, "Well, we can do without you, we are sure
of winning."
"It is not the part of wise people," said I, "to make sure of
the battle before it is fought: there's the landlord of the
public-house, who made sure that his cocks would win, yet the
cocks lost the main, and the landlord is little better than a
"People very different from the landlord," said the man in
black, "both in intellect and station, think we shall surely
win; there are clever machinators among us who have no doubt
of our success."
"Well," said I, "I will set the landlord aside, and will
adduce one who was in every point a very different person
from the landlord, both in understanding and station; he was
very fond of laying schemes, and, indeed, many of them turned
out successful. His last and darling one, however,
miscarried, notwithstanding that by his calculations he had
persuaded himself that there was no possibility of its
failing - the person that I allude to was old Fraser - "
"Who?" said the man in black, giving a start, and letting his
glass fall.
"Old Fraser, of Lovat," said I, "the prince of all
conspirators and machinators; he made sure of placing the
Pretender on the throne of these realms. 'I can bring into
the field so many men,' said he; 'my son-in-law Cluny, so
many, and likewise my cousin, and my good friend;' then
speaking of those on whom the government reckoned for
support, he would say, 'So and so are lukewarm, this person
is ruled by his wife, who is with us, the clergy are anything
but hostile to us, and as for the soldiers and sailors, half
are disaffected to King George, and the rest cowards.' Yet
when things came to a trial, this person whom he had
calculated upon to join the Pretender did not stir from his
home, another joined the hostile ranks, the presumed cowards
turned out heroes, and those whom he thought heroes ran away
like lusty fellows at Culloden; in a word, he found himself
utterly mistaken, and in nothing more than in himself; he
thought he was a hero, and proved himself nothing more than
an old fox; he got up a hollow tree, didn't he, just like a
"'L'opere sue non furon leonine, ma di volpe.'"
The man in black sat silent for a considerable time, and at
length answered in rather a faltering voice, "I was not
prepared for this; you have frequently surprised me by your
knowledge of things which I should never have expected any
person of your appearance to be acquainted with, but that you
should be aware of my name is a circumstance utterly
incomprehensible to me. I had imagined that no person in
England was acquainted with it; indeed, I don't see how any
person should be, I have revealed it to no one, not being
particularly proud of it. Yes, I acknowledge that my name is
Fraser, and that I am of the blood of that family or clan, of
which the rector of our college once said, that he was firmly
of opinion that every individual member was either rogue or
fool. I was born at Madrid, of pure, OIME, Fraser blood. My
parents, at an early age, took me to -, where they shortly
died, not, however, before they had placed me in the service
of a cardinal, with whom I continued for some years, and who,
when he had no further occasion for me, sent me to the
college, in the left-hand cloister of which, as you enter,
rest the bones of Sir John -; there, in studying logic and
humane letters, I lost whatever of humanity I had retained
when discarded by the cardinal. Let me not, however, forget
two points, - I am a Fraser, it is true, but not a Flannagan;
I may bear the vilest name of Britain, but not of Ireland; I
was bred up at the English house, and there is at - a house
for the education of bogtrotters; I was not bred up at that;
beneath the lowest gulf, there is one yet lower; whatever my
blood may be, it is at least not Irish; whatever my education
may have been, I was not bred at the Irish seminary - on
those accounts I am thankful - yes, PER DIO! I am thankful.
After some years at college - but why should I tell you my
history? you know it already perfectly well, probably much
better than myself. I am now a missionary priest, labouring
in heretic England, like Parsons and Garnet of old, save and
except that, unlike them, I run no danger, for the times are
changed. As I told you before, I shall cleave to Rome - I
must; NO HAY REMEDIO, as they say at Madrid, and I will do my
best to further her holy plans - he! he! - but I confess I
begin to doubt of their being successful here - you put me
out; old Fraser, of Lovat! I have heard my father talk of
him; he had a gold-headed cane, with which he once knocked my
grandfather down -he was an astute one, but, as you say,
mistaken, particularly in himself. I have read his life by
Arbuthnot, it is in the library of our college. Farewell! I
shall come no more to this dingle - to come would be of no
utility; I shall go and labour elsewhere, though - how you
came to know my name, is a fact quite inexplicable -
farewell! to you both."
He then arose; and without further salutation departed from
the dingle, in which I never saw him again. "How, in the
name of wonder, came you to know that man's name?" said
Belle, after he had been gone some time.
"I, Belle? I knew nothing of the fellow's name, I assure
"But you mentioned his name."
"If I did, it was merely casually, by way of illustration. I
was saying how frequently cunning people were mistaken in
their calculations, and I adduced the case of old Fraser, of
Lovat, as one in point; I brought forward his name, because I
was well acquainted with his history, from having compiled
and inserted it in a wonderful work, which I edited some
months ago, entitled 'Newgate Lives and Trials,' but without
the slightest idea that it was the name of him who was
sitting with us; he, however, thought that I was aware of his
name. Belle! Belle! for a long time I doubted the truth of
Scripture, owing to certain conceited individuals, but now I
begin to believe firmly; what wonderful texts are in
Scripture, Belle; 'The wicked trembleth where - where - '"
"'They were afraid where no fear was; thou hast put them to
confusion, because God hath despised them,'" said Belle; "I
have frequently read it before the clergyman in the great
house of Long Melford. But if you did not know the man's
name, why let him go away supposing that you did?"
"Oh, if he was fool enough to make such a mistake, I was not
going to undeceive him - no, no! Let the enemies of old
England make the most of all their blunders and mistakes,
they will have no help from me; but enough of the fellow,
Belle; let us now have tea, and after that - "
"No Armenian," said Belle; "but I want to ask a question:
pray are all people of that man's name either rogues or
"It is impossible for me to say, Belle, this person being the
only one of the name I have ever personally known. I suppose
there are good and bad, clever and foolish, amongst them, as
amongst all large bodies of people; however, after the tribe
had been governed for upwards of thirty years, by such a
person as old Fraser, it were no wonder if the greater part
had become either rogues or fools: he was a ruthless tyrant,
Belle, over his own people, and by his cruelty and
rapaciousness must either have stunned them into an apathy
approaching to idiotcy, or made them artful knaves in their
own defence. The qualities of parents are generally
transmitted to their descendants - the progeny of trained
pointers are almost sure to point, even without being taught:
if, therefore, all Frasers are either rogues or fools, as
this person seems to insinuate, it is little to be wondered
at, their parents or grandparents having been in the
training-school of old Fraser! But enough of the old tyrant
and his slaves. Belle, prepare tea this moment, or dread my
anger. I have not a gold-headed cane like old Fraser of
Lovat, but I have, what some people would dread much more, an
Armenian rune-stick."
Fresh Arrivals - Pitching the Tent - Certificated Wife -
High-flying Notions.
ON the following morning, as I was about to leave my tent, I
heard the voice of Belle at the door, exclaiming, "Sleepest
thou, or wakest thou?" "I was never more awake in my life,"
said I, going out. "What is the matter?" "He of the horseshoe,"
said she, "Jasper, of whom I have heard you talk, is
above there on the field with all his people; I went out
about a quarter of an hour ago to fill the kettle at the
spring, and saw them arriving. "It is well," said I; "have
you any objection to asking him and his wife to breakfast?"
"You can do as you please," said she; "I have cups enough,
and have no objection to their company." "We are the first
occupiers of the ground," said I, "and, being so, should
consider ourselves in the light of hosts, and do our best to
practise the duties of hospitality." "How fond you are of
using that word," said Belle; "if you wish to invite the man
and his wife, do so, without more ado; remember, however,
that I have not cups enough, nor indeed tea enough, for the
whole company." Thereupon hurrying up the ascent, I
presently found myself outside the dingle. It was as usual a
brilliant morning, the dewy blades of the rye-grass which
covered the plain sparkled brightly in the beams of the sun,
which had probably been about two hours above the horizon. A
rather numerous body of my ancient friends and allies
occupied the ground in the vicinity of the mouth of the
dingle. About five yards on the right I perceived Mr.
Petulengro busily employed in erecting his tent; he held in
his hand an iron bar, sharp at the bottom, with a kind of arm
projecting from the top for the purpose of supporting a
kettle or cauldron over the fire, and which is called in the
Romanian language "Kekauviskoe saster." With the sharp end
of this Mr. Petulengro was making holes in the earth, at
about twenty inches distant from each other, into which he
inserted certain long rods with a considerable bend towards
the top, which constituted no less than the timber of the
tent, and the supporters of the canvas. Mrs. Petulengro, and
a female with a crutch in her hand, whom I recognised as Mrs.
Chikno, sat near him on the ground, whilst two or three
children, from six to ten years old, who composed the young
family of Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro, were playing about.
"Here we are, brother," said Mr. Petulengro, as he drove the
sharp end of the bar into the ground; "here we are, and
plenty of us - Bute dosta Romany chals."
"I am glad to see you all," said I; "and particularly you,
madam," said I, making a bow to Mrs. Petulengro; "and you
also, madam," taking off my hat to Mrs. Chikno.
"Good-day to you, sir," said Mrs. Petulengro; "you look, as
usual, charmingly, and speak so, too; you have not forgot
your manners."
"It is not all gold that glitters," said Mrs. Chikno.
"However, good-morrow to you, young rye."
"I do not see Tawno," said I, looking around; "where is he?"
"Where, indeed!" said Mrs. Chikno; "I don't know; he who
countenances him in the roving line can best answer."
"He will be here anon," said Mr. Petulengro; "he has merely
ridden down a by-road to show a farmer a two-year-old colt;
she heard me give him directions, but she can't be
"I can't indeed," said Mrs. Chikno.
"And why not, sister?"
"Because I place no confidence in your words, brother; as I
said before, you countenances him."
"Well," said I, "I know nothing of your private concerns; I
am come on an errand. Isopel Berners, down in the dell
there, requests the pleasure of Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro's
company at breakfast. She will be happy also to see you,
madam," said I, addressing Mrs. Chikno.
"Is that young female your wife, young man?" said Mrs.
"My wife?" said I.
"Yes, young man; your wife, your lawful certificated wife?"
"No," said I; "she is not my wife."
"Then I will not visit with her," said Mrs. Chikno; "I
countenance nothing in the roving line."
"What do you mean by the roving line?" I demanded.
"What do I mean by the roving line? Why, by it I mean such
conduct as is not tatcheno. When ryes and rawnies live
together in dingles, without being certificated, I call such
behaviour being tolerably deep in the roving line, everything
savouring of which I am determined not to sanctify. I have
suffered too much by my own certificated husband's outbreaks
in that line to afford anything of the kind the slightest
shadow of countenance."
"It is hard that people may not live in dingles together
without being suspected of doing wrong," said I.
"So it is," said Mrs. Petulengro, interposing; "and, to tell
you the truth, I am altogether surprised at the illiberality
of my sister's remarks. I have often heard say, that it is
in good company - and I have kept good company in my time -
that suspicion is king's evidence of a narrow and
uncultivated mind; on which account I am suspicious of
nobody, not even of my own husband, whom some people would
think I have a right to be suspicious of, seeing that on his
account I once refused a lord; but ask him whether I am
suspicious of him, and whether I seek to keep him close tied
to my apron-string; he will tell you nothing of the kind; but
that, on the contrary, I always allows him an agreeable
latitude, permitting him to go where he pleases, and to
converse with any one to whose manner of speaking he may take
a fancy. But I have had the advantage of keeping good
company, and therefore - "
"Meklis," said Mrs. Chikno, "pray drop all that, sister; I
believe I have kept as good company as yourself; and with
respect to that offer with which you frequently fatigue those
who keeps company with you, I believe, after all, it was
something in the roving and uncertificated line."
"In whatever line it was," said Mrs. Petulengro, "the offer
was a good one. The young duke - for he was not only a lord,
but a duke too - offered to keep me a fine carriage, and to
make me his second wife; for it is true that he had another
who was old and stout, though mighty rich, and highly goodnatured;
so much so, indeed, that the young lord assured me
that she would have no manner of objection to the
arrangement; more especially if I would consent to live in
the same house with her, being fond of young and cheerful
society. So you see - "
"Yes, yes," said Mrs. Chikno, "I see, what I before thought,
that it was altogether in the uncertificated line."
"Meklis," said Mrs. Petulengro; "I use your own word, madam,
which is Romany: for my own part, I am not fond of using
Romany words, unless I can hope to pass them off for French,
which I cannot in the present company. I heartily wish that
there was no such language, and do my best to keep it away
from my children, lest the frequent use of it should
altogether confirm them in low and vulgar habits. I have
four children, madam, but - "
"I suppose by talking of your four children you wish to check
me for having none," said Mrs. Chikno, bursting into tears;
"if I have no children, sister, it is no fault of mine, it is
- but why do I call you sister?" said she, angrily; "you are
no sister of mine, you are a grasni, a regular mare - a
pretty sister, indeed, ashamed of your own language. I
remember well that by your high-flying notions you drove your
own mother - "
"We will drop it," said Mrs. Petulengro; "I do not wish to
raise my voice, and to make myself ridiculous. Young
gentleman," said she, "pray present my compliments to Miss
Isopel Berners, and inform her that I am very sorry that I
cannot accept her polite invitation. I am just arrived, and
have some slight domestic matters to see to - amongst others,
to wash my children's faces; but that in the course of the
forenoon, when I have attended to what I have to do, and have
dressed myself, I hope to do myself the honour of paying her
a regular visit; you will tell her that, with my compliments.
With respect to my husband he can answer for himself, as I,
not being of a jealous disposition, never interferes with his
"And tell Miss Berners," said Mr. Petulengro, "that I shall
be happy to wait upon her in company with my wife as soon as
we are regularly settled: at present I have much on my hands,
having not only to pitch my own tent, but this here jealous
woman's, whose husband is absent on my business."
Thereupon I returned to the dingle, and, without saying
anything about Mrs. Chikno's observations, communicated to
Isopel the messages of Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro; Isopel made
no other reply than by replacing in her coffer two additional
cups and saucers, which, in expectation of company, she had
placed upon the board. The kettle was by this time boiling.
We sat down, and, as we breakfasted, I gave Isopel Berners
another lesson in the Armenian language.
The Promised Visit - Roman Fashion - Wizard and Witch -
Catching at Words - The Two Females - Dressing of Hair - The
New Roads - Belle's Altered Appearance - Herself Again.
ABOUT mid-day Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro came to the dingle to
pay the promised visit. Belle, at the time of their arrival,
was in her tent, but I was at the fire-place, engaged in
hammering part of the outer-tire, or defence, which had come
off from one of the wheels of my vehicle. On perceiving them
I forthwith went to receive them. Mr. Petulengro was dressed
in Roman fashion, with a somewhat smartly-cut sporting-coat,
the buttons of which were half-crowns - and a waistcoat,
scarlet and black, the buttons of which were spaded halfguineas;
his breeches were of a stuff half velveteen, half
corduroy, the cords exceedingly broad. He had leggings of
buff cloth, furred at the bottom; and upon his feet were
highlows. Under his left arm was a long black whalebone
riding-whip, with a red lash, and an immense silver knob.
Upon his head was a hat with a high peak, somewhat of the
kind which the Spaniards call CALANE, so much in favour with
the bravos of Seville and Madrid. Now, when I have added
that Mr. Petulengro had on a very fine white holland shirt, I
think I have described his array. Mrs. Petulengro - I beg
pardon for not having spoken of her first - was also arrayed
very much in the Roman fashion. Her hair, which was
exceedingly black and lustrous, fell in braids on either side
of her head. In her ears were rings, with long drops of
gold. Round her neck was a string of what seemed very much
like very large pearls, somewhat tarnished, however, and
apparently of considerable antiquity. "Here we are,
brother," said Mr. Petulengro; "here we are, come to see you
- wizard and witch, witch and wizard:-
"'There's a chovahanee, and a chovahano,
The nav se len is Petulengro.'"
"Hold your tongue, sir," said Mrs. Petulengro; "you make me
ashamed of you with your vulgar ditties. We are come a
visiting now, and everything low should be left behind."
"True," said Mr. Petulengro; "why bring what's low to the
dingle, which is low enough already?"
"What, are you a catcher at words?" said I. "I thought that
catching at words had been confined to the pothouse farmers
and village witty bodies."
"All fools," said Mrs. Petulengro, "catch at words, and very
naturally, as by so doing they hope to prevent the
possibility of rational conversation. Catching at words
confined to pothouse farmers, and village witty bodies! No,
not to Jasper Petulengro. Listen for an hour or two to the
discourse of a set they call newspaper editors, and if you
don't go out and eat grass, as a dog does when he is sick, I
am no female woman. The young lord whose hand I refused when
I took up with wise Jasper, once brought two of them to my
mother's tan, when hankering after my company; they did
nothing but carp at each other's words, and a pretty hand
they made of it. Ill-favoured dogs they were; and their
attempts at what they called wit almost as unfortunate as
their countenances."
"Well," said I, "madam, we will drop all catchings and
carpings for the present. Pray take your seat on this stool,
whilst I go and announce to Miss Isopel Berners your
Thereupon I went to Belle's habitation, and informed her that
Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro had paid us a visit of ceremony, and
were awaiting her at the fire-place. "Pray go and tell them
that I am busy," said Belle, who was engaged with her needle.
"I do not feel disposed to take part in any such nonsense."
"I shall do no such thing," said I; "and I insist upon your
coming forthwith, and showing proper courtesy to your
visitors. If you do not, their feelings will be hurt, and
you are aware that I cannot bear that people's feelings
should be outraged. Come this moment, or - " "Or what?"
said Belle, half smiling. "I was about to say something in
Armenian," said I. "Well," said Belle, laying down her work,
"I will come." "Stay," said I; "your hair is hanging about
your ears, and your dress is in disorder; you had better stay
a minute or two to prepare yourself to appear before your
visitors, who have come in their very best attire." "No,"
said Belle, "I will make no alteration in my appearance; you
told me to come this moment, and you shall be obeyed." So
Belle and I advanced towards our guests. As we drew nigh Mr.
Petulengro took off his hat, and made a profound obeisance to
Belle, whilst Mrs. Petulengro rose from the stool, and made a
profound curtsey. Belle, who had flung her hair back over
her shoulders, returned their salutations by bending her
head, and after slightly glancing at Mr. Petulengro, fixed
her large blue eyes full upon his wife. Both these females
were very handsome - but how unlike! Belle fair, with blue
eyes and flaxen hair; Mrs. Petulengro with olive complexion,
eyes black, and hair dark - as dark as could be. Belle, in
demeanour calm and proud; the gypsy graceful, but full of
movement and agitation. And then how different were those
two in stature! The head of the Romany rawnie scarcely
ascended to the breast of Isopel Berners. I could see that
Mrs. Petulengro gazed on Belle with unmixed admiration; so
did her husband. "Well," said the latter, "one thing I will
say, which is, that there is only one on earth worthy to
stand up in front of this she, and that is the beauty of the
world, as far as man flesh is concerned, Tawno Chikno; what a
pity he did not come down!"
"Tawno Chikno," said Mrs. Petulengro, flaring up; "a pretty
fellow he to stand up in front of this gentlewoman, a pity he
didn't come, quotha? not at all, the fellow is a sneak,
afraid of his wife. He stand up against this rawnie! why,
the look she has given me would knock the fellow down."
"It is easier to knock him down with a look than with a
fist," said Mr. Petulengro; "that is, if the look comes from
a woman: not that I am disposed to doubt that this female
gentlewoman is able to knock him down either one way or the
other. I have heard of her often enough, and have seen her
once or twice, though not so near as now. Well, ma'am, my
wife and I are come to pay our respects to you; we are both
glad to find that you have left off keeping company with
Flaming Bosville, and have taken up with my pal; he is not
very handsome, but a better - "
"I take up with your pal, as you call him! you had better
mind what you say," said Isopel Berners, "I take up with
"I merely mean taking up your quarters with him," said Mr.
Petulengro; "and I was only about to say a better fellowlodger
you cannot have, or a more instructive, especially if
you have a desire to be inoculated with tongues, as he calls
them. I wonder whether you and he have had any tongue-work
"Have you and your wife anything particular to say? if you
have nothing but this kind of conversation I must leave you,
as I am going to make a journey this afternoon, and should be
getting ready."
"You must excuse my husband, madam," said Mrs. Petulengro,
"he is not overburdened with understanding, and has said but
one word of sense since he has been here, which was that we
came to pay our respects to you. We have dressed ourselves
in our best Roman way, in order to do honour to you; perhaps
you do not like it; if so, I am sorry. I have no French
clothes, madam; if I had any, madam, I would have come in
them, in order to do you more honour."
"I like to see you much better as you are," said Belle;
"people should keep to their own fashions, and yours is very
"I am glad you are pleased to think it so, madam; it has been
admired in the great city; it created what they call a
sensation; and some of the great ladies, the court ladies,
imitated it, else I should not appear in it so often as I am
accustomed; for I am not very fond of what is Roman, having
an imagination that what is Roman is ungenteel; in fact, I
once heard the wife of a rich citizen say that gypsies were
vulgar creatures. I should have taken her saying very much
to heart, but for her improper pronunciation; she could not
pronounce her words, madam, which we gypsies, as they call
us, usually can, so I thought she was no very high purchase.
You are very beautiful, madam, though you are not dressed as
I could wish to see you, and your hair is hanging down in sad
confusion; allow me to assist you in arranging your hair,
madam; I will dress it for you in our fashion; I would fain
see how your hair would look in our poor gypsy fashion; pray
allow me, madam?" and she took Belle by the hand.
"I really can do no such thing," said Belle, withdrawing her
hand; "I thank you for coming to see me, but - "
"Do allow me to officiate upon your hair, madam," said Mrs.
Petulengro. "I should esteem your allowing me a great mark
of condescension. You are very beautiful, madam, and I think
you doubly so, because you are so fair; I have a great esteem
for persons with fair complexions and hair; I have a less
regard for people with dark hair and complexions, madam."
"Then why did you turn off the lord, and take up with me?"
said Mr. Petulengro; "that same lord was fair enough all
about him."
"People do when they are young and silly what they sometimes
repent of when they are of riper years and understandings. I
sometimes think that had I not been something of a simpleton,
I might at this time be a great court lady. Now, madam,"
said she, again taking Belle by the hand, "do oblige me by
allowing me to plait your hair a little?"
"I have really a good mind to be angry with you," said Belle,
giving Mrs. Petulengro a peculiar glance.
"Do allow her to arrange your hair," said I; "she means no
harm, and wishes to do you honour; do oblige her and me too,
for I should like to see how your hair would look dressed in
her fashion."
"You hear what the young rye says?" said Mrs. Petulengro. "I
am sure you will oblige the young rye, if not myself. Many
people would be willing to oblige the young rye, if he would
but ask them; but he is not in the habit of asking favours.
He has a nose of his own, which he keeps tolerably exalted;
he does not think small-beer of himself, madam; and all the
time I have been with him, I never heard him ask a favour
before; therefore, madam, I am sure you will oblige him. My
sister Ursula would be very willing to oblige him in many
things, but he will not ask for anything, except for such a
favour as a word, which is a poor favour after all. I don't
mean for her word; perhaps he will some day ask you for your
word. If so - "
"Why, here you are, after railing at me for catching at
words, catching at a word yourself," said Mr. Petulengro.
"Hold your tongue, sir," said Mrs. Petulengro. "Don't
interrupt me in my discourse; if I caught at a word now, I am
not in the habit of doing so. I am no conceited body; no
newspaper Neddy; no pothouse witty person. I was about to
say, madam, that if the young rye asks you at any time for
your word, you will do as you deem convenient; but I am sure
you will oblige him by allowing me to braid your hair."
"I shall not do it to oblige him," said Belle; "the young
rye, as you call him, is nothing to me."
"Well, then, to oblige me," said Mrs. Petulengro; "do allow
me to become your poor tire-woman."
"It is great nonsense," said Belle, reddening; "however, as
you came to see me, and ask the matter as a particular favour
to yourself - "
"Thank you, madam," said Mrs. Petulengro, leading Belle to
the stool; "please to sit down here. Thank you; your hair is
very beautiful, madam," she continued, as she proceeded to
braid Belle's hair; "so is your countenance. Should you ever
go to the great city, among the grand folks, you would make a
sensation, madam. I have made one myself, who am dark; the
chi she is kauley, which last word signifies black, which I
am not, though rather dark. There is no colour like white,
madam; it's so lasting, so genteel. Gentility will carry the
day, madam, even with the young rye. He will ask words of
the black lass, but beg the word of the fair."
In the meantime Mr. Petulengro and myself entered into
conversation. "Any news stirring, Mr. Petulengro?" said I.
"Have you heard anything of the great religious movements?"
"Plenty," said Mr. Petulengro; "all the religious people,
more especially the Evangelicals - those that go about
distributing tracts - are very angry about the fight between
Gentleman Cooper and White-headed Bob, which they say ought
not to have been permitted to take place; and then they are
trying all they can to prevent the fight between the lion and
the dogs, which they say is a disgrace to a Christian
country. Now I can't say that I have any quarrel with the
religious party and the Evangelicals; they are always civil
to me and mine, and frequently give us tracts, as they call
them, which neither I nor mine can read; but I cannot say
that I approve of any movements, religious or not, which have
in aim to put down all life and manly sport in this here
"Anything else?" said I.
"People are becoming vastly sharp," said Mr. Petulengro; "and
I am told that all the old-fashioned good-tempered constables
are going to be set aside, and a paid body of men to be
established, who are not to permit a tramper or vagabond on
the roads of England; - and talking of roads, puts me in mind
of a strange story I heard two nights ago, whilst drinking
some beer at a public-house in company with my cousin
Sylvester. I had asked Tawno to go, but his wife would not
let him. Just opposite me, smoking their pipes, were a
couple of men, something like engineers, and they were
talking of a wonderful invention which was to make a
wonderful alteration in England; inasmuch as it would set
aside all the old roads, which in a little time would be
ploughed up, and sowed with corn, and cause all England to be
laid down with iron roads, on which people would go
thundering along in vehicles, pushed forward by fire and
smoke. Now, brother, when I heard this, I did not feel very
comfortable; for I thought to myself, what a queer place such
a road would be to pitch one's tent upon, and how impossible
it would be for one's cattle to find a bite of grass upon it;
and I thought likewise of the danger to which one's family
would be exposed in being run over and severely scorched by
these same flying fiery vehicles; so I made bold to say, that
I hoped such an invention would never be countenanced,
because it was likely to do a great deal of harm. Whereupon,
one of the men, giving me a glance, said, without taking the
pipe out of his mouth, that for his part, he sincerely hoped
that it would take effect; and if it did no other good than
stopping the rambles of gypsies, and other like scamps, it
ought to be encouraged. Well, brother, feeling myself
insulted, I put my hand into my pocket, in order to pull out
money, intending to challenge him to fight for a fiveshilling
stake, but merely found sixpence, having left all my
other money at the tent; which sixpence was just sufficient
to pay for the beer which Sylvester and myself were drinking,
of whom I couldn't hope to borrow anything - 'poor as
Sylvester' being a by-word amongst us. So, not being able to
back myself, I held my peace, and let the Gorgio have it all
his own way, who, after turning up his nose at me, went on
discoursing about the said invention, saying what a fund of
profit it would be to those who knew how to make use of it,
and should have the laying down of the new roads, and the
shoeing of England with iron. And after he had said this,
and much more of the same kind, which I cannot remember, he
and his companion got up and walked away; and presently I and
Sylvester got up and walked to our camp; and there I lay down
in my tent by the side of my wife, where I had an ugly dream
of having camped upon an iron road; my tent being overturned
by a flying vehicle; my wife's leg injured; and all my
affairs put into great confusion."
"Now, madam," said Mrs. Petulengro, "I have braided your hair
in our fashion: you look very beautiful, madam; more
beautiful, if possible, than before." Belle now rose, and
came forward with her tire-woman. Mr. Petulengro was loud in
his applause, but I said nothing, for I did not think Belle
was improved in appearance by having submitted to the
ministry of Mrs. Petulengro's hand. Nature never intended
Belle to appear as a gypsy; she had made her too proud and
serious. A more proper part for her was that of a heroine, a
queenly heroine, - that of Theresa of Hungary, for example;
or, better still, that of Brynhilda the Valkyrie, the beloved
of Sigurd, the serpent-killer, who incurred the curse of
Odin, because, in the tumult of spears, she sided with the
young king, and doomed the old warrior to die, to whom Odin
had promised victory.
Belle looked at me for a moment in silence; then turning to
Mrs. Petulengro, she said, "You have had your will with me;
are you satisfied?" "Quite so, madam," said Mrs. Petulengro,
"and I hope you will be so too, as soon as you have looked in
the glass." "I have looked in one already," said Belle; "and
the glass does not flatter." "You mean the face of the young
rye," said Mrs. Petulengro; "never mind him, madam; the young
rye, though he knows a thing or two, is not a university, nor
a person of universal wisdom. I assure you, that you never
looked so well before; and I hope that, from this moment, you
will wear your hair in this way." "And who is to braid it in
this way?" said Belle, smiling. "I, madam," said Mrs.
Petulengro; "I will braid it for you every morning, if you
will but be persuaded to join us. Do so, madam, and I think,
if you did, the young rye would do so too." "The young rye
is nothing to me, nor I to him," said Belle; "we have stayed
some time together; but our paths will soon be apart. Now,
farewell, for I am about to take a journey." "And you will
go out with your hair as I have braided it," said Mrs.
Petulengro; "if you do, everybody will be in love with you."
"No," said Belle; "hither-to I have allowed you to do what
you please, but henceforth I shall have my own way. Come,
come," said she, observing that the gypsy was about to speak,
"we have had enough of nonsense; whenever I leave this
hollow, it will be wearing my hair in my own fashion."
"Come, wife," said Mr. Petulengro; "we will no longer intrude
upon the rye and rawnie; there is such a thing as being
troublesome." Thereupon Mr. Petulengro and his wife took
their leave, with many salutations. "Then you are going?"
said I, when Belle and I were left alone. "Yes," said Belle;
"I am going on a journey; my affairs compel me." "But you
will return again?" said I. "Yes," said Belle, "I shall
return once more." "Once more," said I; "what do you mean by
once more? The Petulengros will soon be gone, and will you
abandon me in this place?" "You were alone here," said
Belle, "before I came, and I suppose, found it agreeable, or
you would not have stayed in it." "Yes," said I, "that was
before I knew you; but having lived with you here, I should
be very loth to live here without you." "Indeed," said
Belle; "I did not know that I was of so much consequence to
you. Well, the day is wearing away - I must go and harness
Traveller to the cart." "I will do that," said I, "or
anything else you may wish me. Go and prepare yourself; I
will see after Traveller and the cart." Belle departed to
her tent, and I set about performing the task I had
undertaken. In about half-an-hour Belle again made her
appearance - she was dressed neatly and plainly. Her hair
was no longer in the Roman fashion, in which Pakomovna had
plaited it, but was secured by a comb; she held a bonnet in
her hand. "Is there anything else I can do for you?" I
demanded. "There are two or three bundles by my tent, which
you can put into the cart," said Belle. I put the bundles
into the cart, and then led Traveller and the cart up the
winding path to the mouth of the dingle, near which was Mr.
Petulengro's encampment. Belle followed. At the top, I
delivered the reins into her hands; we looked at each other
stedfastly for some time. Belle then departed, and I
returned to the dingle, where, seating myself on my stone, I
remained for upwards of an hour in thought.
The Festival - The Gypsy Song - Piramus of Rome - The
Scotchman - Gypsy Names.
ON the following day there was much feasting amongst the
Romany chals of Mr. Petulengro's party. Throughout the
forenoon the Romany chies did scarcely anything but cook
flesh, and the flesh which they cooked was swine's flesh.
About two o'clock, the chals dividing themselves into various
parties, sat down and partook of the fare, which was partly
roasted, partly sodden. I dined that day with Mr. Petulengro
and his wife and family, Ursula, Mr. and Mrs. Chikno, and
Sylvester and his two children. Sylvester, it will be as
well to say, was a widower, and had consequently no one to
cook his victuals for him, supposing he had any, which was
not always the case, Sylvester's affairs being seldom in a
prosperous state. He was noted for his bad success in
trafficking, notwithstanding the many hints which he received
from Jasper, under whose protection he had placed himself,
even as Tawno Chikno had done, who himself, as the reader has
heard on a former occasion, was anything but a wealthy
subject, though he was at all times better off than
Sylvester, the Lazarus of the Romany tribe.
All our party ate with a good appetite, except myself, who,
feeling rather melancholy that day, had little desire to eat.
I did not, like the others, partake of the pork, but got my
dinner entirely off the body of a squirrel which had been
shot the day before by a chal of the name of Piramus, who,
besides being a good shot, was celebrated for his skill in
playing on the fiddle. During the dinner a horn filled with
ale passed frequently around; I drank of it more than once,
and felt inspirited by the draughts. The repast concluded,
Sylvester and his children departed to their tent, and Mr.
Petulengro, Tawno, and myself, getting up, went and lay down
under a shady hedge, where Mr. Petulengro, lighting his pipe,
began to smoke, and where Tawno presently fell asleep. I was
about to fall asleep also, when I heard the sound of music
and song. Piramus was playing on the fiddle, whilst Mrs.
Chikno, who had a voice of her own, was singing in tones
sharp enough, but of great power, a gypsy song:-
To mande shoon ye Romany chals
Who besh in the pus about the yag,
I'll pen how we drab the baulo,
I'll pen how we drab the baulo.
We jaws to the drab-engro ker,
Trin horsworth there of drab we lels,
And when to the swety back we wels
We pens we'll drab the baulo,
We'll have a drab at a baulo.
And then we kairs the drab opre,
And then we jaws to the farming ker,
To mang a beti habben,
A beti poggado habben.
A rinkeno baulo there we dick,
And then we pens in Romano jib;
Wust lis odoi opre ye chick,
And the baulo he will lel lis,
The baulo he will lel lis.
Coliko, coliko saulo we
Apopli to the farming ker
Will wel and mang him mullo,
Will wel and mang his truppo.
And so we kairs, and so we kairs;
The baulo in the rarde mers;
We mang him on the saulo,
And rig to the tan the baulo.
And then we toves the wendror well
Till sore the wendror iuziou se,
Till kekkeno drab's adrey lis,
Till drab there's kek adrey lis.
And then his truppo well we hatch,
Kin levinor at the kitchema,
And have a kosko habben,
A kosko Romano habben.
The boshom engro kils, he kils,
The tawnie juva gils, she gils
A puro Romano gillie,
Now shoon the Romano gillie.
Which song I had translated in the following manner, in my
younger days, for a lady's album:
Listen to me ye Romanlads, who are seated in the straw about
the fire, and I will tell how we poison the porker, I will
tell how we poison the porker.
We go to the house of the poison-monger, where we buy three
pennies' worth of bane, and when we return to our people we
say, we will poison the porker; we will try and poison the
We then make up the poison, and then we take our way to the
house of the farmer, as if to beg a bit of victuals, a little
broken victuals.
We see a jolly porker, and then we say in Roman language,
"Fling the bane yonder amongst the dirt, and the porker soon
will find it, the porker soon will find it."
Early on the morrow, we will return to the farm-house, and
beg the dead porker, the body of the dead porker.
And so we do, even so we do; the porker dieth during the
night; on the morrow we beg the porker, and carry to the tent
the porker.
And then we wash the inside well, till all the inside is
perfectly clean, till there's no bane within it, not a poison
grain within it.
And then we roast the body well, send for ale to the
alehouse, and have a merry banquet, a merry Roman banquet.
The fellow with the fiddle plays, he plays; the little lassie
sings, she sings an ancient Roman ditty; now hear the Roman
Penn'd the Romany chi ke laki dye
"Miry dearie dye mi shom cambri!"
"And coin kerdo tute cambri,
Miry dearie chi, miry Romany chi?"
"O miry dye a boro rye,
A bovalo rye, a gorgiko rye,
Sos kistur pre a pellengo grye,
'Twas yov sos kerdo man cambri."
"Tu tawnie vassavie lubbeny,
Tu chal from miry tan abri;
Had a Romany cwal kair'd tute cambri,
Then I had penn'd ke tute chie,
But tu shan a vassavie lubbeny
With gorgikie rat to be cambri."
"There's some kernel in those songs, brother," said Mr.
Petulengro, when the songs and music were over.
"Yes," said I; "they are certainly very remarkable songs. I
say, Jasper, I hope you have not been drabbing baulor
"And suppose we have, brother, what then?"
"Why, it is a very dangerous practice, to say nothing of the
wickedness of it."
"Necessity has no law, brother."
"That is true," said I; "I have always said so, but you are
not necessitous, and should not drab baulor."
"And who told you we had been drabbing baulor?"
"Why, you have had a banquet of pork, and after the banquet,
Mrs. Chikno sang a song about drabbing baulor, so I naturally
thought you might have lately been engaged in such a thing."
"Brother, you occasionally utter a word or two of common
sense. It was natural for you to suppose, after seeing that
dinner of pork, and hearing that song, that we had been
drabbing baulor; I will now tell you that we have not been
doing so. What have you to say to that?"
"That I am very glad of it."
"Had you tasted that pork, brother, you would have found that
it was sweet and tasty, which balluva that is drabbed can
hardly be expected to be. We have no reason to drab baulor
at present, we have money and credit; but necessity has no
law. Our forefathers occasionally drabbed baulor; some of
our people may still do such a thing, but only from
"I see," said I; "and at your merry meetings you sing songs
upon the compulsatory deeds of your people, alias, their
villainous actions; and, after all, what would the stirring
poetry of any nation be, but for its compulsatory deeds?
Look at the poetry of Scotland, the heroic part, founded
almost entirely on the villainous deeds of the Scotch nation;
cow-stealing, for example, which is very little better than
drabbing baulor; whilst the softer part is mostly about the
slips of its females among the broom, so that no upholder of
Scotch poetry could censure Ursula's song as indelicate, even
if he understood it. What do you think, Jasper?"
"I think, brother, as I before said, that occasionally you
utter a word of common sense; you were talking of the Scotch,
brother; what do you think of a Scotchman finding fault with
"A Scotchman finding fault with Romany, Jasper! Oh dear, but
you joke, the thing could never be."
"Yes, and at Piramus's fiddle; what do you think of a
Scotchman turning up his nose at Piramus's fiddle?"
"A Scotchman turning up his nose at Piramus's fiddle!
nonsense, Jasper."
"Do you know what I most dislike, brother?"
"I do not, unless it be the constable, Jasper."
"It is not the constable; it's a beggar on horseback,
"What do you mean by a beggar on horseback?"
"Why, a scamp, brother, raised above his proper place, who
takes every opportunity of giving himself fine airs. About a
week ago, my people and myself camped on a green by a
plantation in the neighbourhood of a great house. In the
evening we were making merry, the girls were dancing, while
Piramus was playing on the fiddle a tune of his own
composing, to which he has given his own name, Piramus of
Rome, and which is much celebrated amongst our people, and
from which I have been told that one of the grand gorgio
composers, who once heard it, has taken several hints. So,
as we were making merry, a great many grand people, lords and
ladies, I believe, came from the great house, and looked on,
as the girls danced to the tune of Piramus of Rome, and
seemed much pleased; and when the girls had left off dancing,
and Piramus playing, the ladies wanted to have their fortunes
told; so I bade Mikailia Chikno, who can tell a fortune when
she pleases better than any one else, tell them a fortune,
and she, being in a good mind, told them a fortune which
pleased them very much. So, after they had heard their
fortunes, one of them asked if any of our women could sing;
and I told them several could, more particularly Leviathan -
you know Leviathan, she is not here now, but some miles
distant, she is our best singer, Ursula coming next. So the
lady said she should like to hear Leviathan sing, whereupon
Leviathan sang the Gudlo pesham, and Piramus played the tune
of the same name, which as you know, means the honeycomb, the
song and the tune being well entitled to the name, being
wonderfully sweet. Well, everybody present seemed mighty
well pleased with the song and music, with the exception of
one person, a carroty-haired Scotch body; how he came there I
don't know, but there he was; and, coming forward, he began
in Scotch as broad as a barn-door to find fault with the
music and the song, saying, that he had never heard viler
stuff than either. Well, brother, out of consideration for
the civil gentry with whom the fellow had come, I held my
peace for a long time, and in order to get the subject
changed, I said to Mikailia in Romany, You have told the
ladies their fortunes, now tell the gentlemen theirs, quick,
quick, - pen lende dukkerin. Well, brother, the Scotchman, I
suppose, thinking I was speaking ill of him, fell into a
greater passion than before, and catching hold of the word
dukkerin - 'Dukkerin,' said he, 'what's dukkerin?'
'Dukkerin,' said I, 'is fortune, a man or woman's destiny;
don't you like the word?' 'Word! d'ye ca' that a word? a
bonnie word,' said he. 'Perhaps, you'll tell us what it is
in Scotch,' said I, 'in order that we may improve our
language by a Scotch word; a pal of mine has told me that we
have taken a great many words from foreign lingos.' 'Why,
then, if that be the case, fellow, I will tell you; it is
e'en "spaeing,"' said he, very seriously. 'Well, then,' said
I, 'I'll keep my own word, which is much the prettiest -
spaeing! spaeing! why, I should be ashamed to make use of the
word, it sounds so much like a certain other word;' and then
I made a face as if I were unwell. 'Perhaps it's Scotch also
for that?' 'What do ye mean by speaking in that guise to a
gentleman?' said he; 'you insolent vagabond, without a name
or a country.' 'There you are mistaken,' said I; 'my country
is Egypt, but we 'Gyptians, like you Scotch, are rather fond
of travelling; and as for name - my name is Jasper
Petulengro, perhaps you have a better; what is it?' 'Sandy
Macraw.' At that, brother, the gentlemen burst into a roar
of laughter, and all the ladies tittered."
"You were rather severe on the Scotchman, Jasper."
"Not at all, brother, and suppose I were, he began first; I
am the civilest man in the world, and never interfere with
anybody, who lets me and mine alone. He finds fault with
Romany, forsooth! why, L-d A'mighty, what's Scotch? He
doesn't like our songs; what are his own? I understand them
as little as he mine; I have heard one or two of them, and
pretty rubbish they seemed. But the best of the joke is, the
fellow's finding fault with Piramus's fiddle - a chap from
the land of bagpipes finding fault with Piramus's fiddle!
Why, I'll back that fiddle against all the bagpipes in
Scotland, and Piramus against all the bagpipers; for though
Piramus weighs but ten stone, he shall flog a Scotchman of
"Scotchmen are never so fat as that," said I, "unless indeed,
they have been a long time pensioners of England. I say,
Jasper, what remarkable names your people have!"
"And what pretty names, brother; there's my own, for example,
Jasper; then there's Ambrose and Sylvester; then there's
Culvato, which signifies Claude; then there's Piramus -
that's a nice name, brother."
"Then there's your wife's name, Pakomovna; then there's
Ursula and Morella."
"Then, brother, there's Ercilla."
"Ercilla! the name of the great poet of Spain, how wonderful;
then Leviathan."
"The name of a ship, brother; Leviathan was named after a
ship, so don't make a wonder out of her. But there's
Sanpriel and Synfye."
"Ay, and Clementina and Lavinia, Camillia and Lydia, Curlanda
and Orlanda; wherever did they get those names?"
"Where did my wife get her necklace, brother?"
"She knows best, Jasper. I hope - "
"Come, no hoping! She got it from her grandmother, who died
at the age of a hundred and three, and sleeps in Coggeshall
churchyard. She got it from her mother, who also died very
old, and who could give no other account of it than that it
had been in the family time out of mind."
"Whence could they have got it?"
"Why, perhaps where they got their names, brother. A
gentleman, who had travelled much, once told me that he had
seen the sister of it about the neck of an Indian queen."
"Some of your names, Jasper, appear to be church names; your
own, for example, and Ambrose, and Sylvester; perhaps you got
them from the Papists, in the times of Popery; but where did
you get such a name as Piramus, a name of Grecian romance?
Then some of them appear to be Slavonian; for example,
Mikailia and Pakomovna. I don't know much of Slavonian; but
- "
"What is Slavonian, brother?"
"The family name of certain nations, the principal of which
is the Russian, and from which the word slave is originally
derived. You have heard of the Russians, Jasper?"
"Yes, brother; and seen some. I saw their crallis at the
time of the peace; he was not a bad-looking man for a
"By the bye, Jasper, I'm half inclined to think that crallis
is a Slavish word. I saw something like it in a lil called
'Voltaire's Life of Charles.' How you should have come by
such names and words is to me incomprehensible."
"You seem posed, brother."
"I really know very little about you, Jasper."
"Very little indeed, brother. We know very little about
ourselves; and you know nothing, save what we have told you;
and we have now and then told you things about us which are
not exactly true, simply to make a fool of you, brother. You
will say that was wrong; perhaps it was. Well, Sunday will
be here in a day or two, when we will go to church, where
possibly we shall hear a sermon on the disastrous
consequences of lying."
The Church - The Aristocratical Pew - Days of Yore - The
Clergyman - "In What Would a Man be Profited?"
WHEN two days had passed, Sunday came; I breakfasted by
myself in the solitary dingle; and then, having set things a
little to rights, I ascended to Mr. Petulengro's encampment.
I could hear church-bells ringing around in the distance,
appearing to say, "Come to church, come to church," as
clearly as it was possible for church-bells to say. I found
Mr. Petulengro seated by the door of his tent, smoking his
pipe, in rather an ungenteel undress. "Well, Jasper," said
I, "are you ready to go to church? for if you are, I am ready
to accompany you." "I am not ready, brother," said Mr.
Petulengro, "nor is my wife; the church, too, to which we
shall go is three miles off; so it is of no use to think of
going there this morning, as the service would be threequarters
over before we got there; if, however, you are
disposed to go in the afternoon, we are your people."
Thereupon I returned to my dingle, where I passed several
hours in conning the Welsh Bible, which the preacher, Peter
Williams, had given me.
At last I gave over reading, took a slight refreshment, and
was about to emerge from the dingle, when I heard the voice
of Mr. Petulengro calling me. I went up again to the
encampment, where I found Mr. Petulengro, his wife, and Tawno
Chikno, ready to proceed to church. Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro
were dressed in Roman fashion, though not in the full-blown
manner in which they had paid their visit to Isopel and
myself. Tawno had on a clean white slop, with a nearly new
black beaver, with very broad rims, and the nap exceedingly
long. As for myself, I was dressed in much the same manner
as that in which I departed from London, having on, in honour
of the day, a shirt perfectly clean, having washed one on
purpose for the occasion, with my own hands, the day before,
in the pond of tepid water in which the newts and defts were
in the habit of taking their pleasure. We proceeded for
upwards of a mile, by footpaths through meadows and cornfields;
we crossed various stiles; at last, passing over one,
we found ourselves in a road, wending along which for a
considerable distance, we at last came in sight of a church,
the bells of which had been tolling distinctly in our ears
for some time; before, however, we reached the church-yard,
the bells had ceased their melody. It was surrounded by
lofty beech-trees of brilliant green foliage. We entered the
gate, Mrs. Petulengro leading the way, and proceeded to a
small door near the east end of the church. As we advanced,
the sound of singing within the church rose upon our ears.
Arrived at the small door, Mrs. Petulengro opened it and
entered, followed by Tawno Chikno. I myself went last of
all, following Mr. Petulengro, who, before I entered, turned
round, and, with a significant nod, advised me to take care
how I behaved. The part of the church which we had entered
was the chancel; on one side stood a number of venerable old
men - probably the neighbouring poor - and on the other a
number of poor girls belonging to the village school, dressed
in white gowns and straw bonnets, whom two elegant but simply
dressed young women were superintending. Every voice seemed
to be united in singing a certain anthem, which,
notwithstanding it was written neither by Tate nor Brady,
contains some of the sublimest words which were ever put
together, not the worst of which are those which burst on our
ears as we entered:
"Every eye shall now behold Him,
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at nought and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see."
Still following Mrs. Petulengro, we proceeded down the
chancel and along the aisle; notwithstanding the singing, I
could distinctly hear as we passed many a voice whispering,
"Here come the gypsies! here come the gypsies!" I felt
rather embarrassed, with a somewhat awkward doubt as to where
we were to sit; none of the occupiers of the pews, who
appeared to consist almost entirely of farmers, with their
wives, sons, and daughters, opened a door to admit us. Mrs.
Petulengro, however, appeared to feel not the least
embarrassment, but tripped along the aisle with the greatest
nonchalance. We passed under the pulpit, in which stood the
clergyman in his white surplice, and reached the middle of
the church, where we were confronted by the sexton dressed in
long blue coat, and holding in his hand a wand. This
functionary motioned towards the lower end of the church,
where were certain benches, partly occupied by poor people
and boys. Mrs. Petulengro, however, with a toss of her head,
directed her course to a magnificent pew, which was
unoccupied, which she opened and entered, followed closely by
Tawno Chikno, Mr. Petulengro, and myself. The sexton did not
appear by any means to approve of the arrangement, and as I
stood next the door, laid his finger on my arm, as if to
intimate that myself and companions must quit our
aristocratical location. I said nothing, but directed my
eyes to the clergyman, who uttered a short and expressive
cough; the sexton looked at him for a moment, and then,
bowing his head, closed the door - in a moment more the music
ceased. I took up a prayer-book, on which was engraved an
earl's coronet. The clergyman uttered, "I will arise, and go
to my father." England's sublime liturgy had commenced.
Oh, what feelings came over me on finding myself again in an
edifice devoted to the religion of my country! I had not
been in such a place I cannot tell for how long - certainly
not for years; and now I had found my way there again, it
appeared as if I had fallen asleep in the pew of the old
church of pretty D-. I had occasionally done so when a
child, and had suddenly woke up. Yes, surely I had been
asleep and had woke up; but no! alas, no! I had not been
asleep - at least not in the old church - if I had been
asleep I had been walking in my sleep, struggling, striving,
learning, and unlearning in my sleep. Years had rolled away
whilst I had been asleep - ripe fruit had fallen, green fruit
had come on whilst I had been asleep - how circumstances had
altered, and above all myself, whilst I had been asleep. No,
I had not been asleep in the old church! I was in a pew, it
is true, but not the pew of black leather, in which I
sometimes fell asleep in days of yore, but in a strange pew;
and then my companions, they were no longer those of days of
yore. I was no longer with my respectable father and mother,
and my dear brother, but with the gypsy cral and his wife,
and the gigantic Tawno, the Antinous of the dusky people.
And what was I myself? No longer an innocent child, but a
moody man, bearing in my face, as I knew well, the marks of
my strivings and strugglings, of what I had learnt and
unlearnt; nevertheless, the general aspect of things brought
to my mind what I had felt and seen of yore. There was
difference enough, it is true, but still there was a
similarity - at least I thought so - the church, the
clergyman, and the clerk, differing in many respects from
those of pretty D-, put me strangely in mind of them; and
then the words! - by the bye, was it not the magic of the
words which brought the dear enchanting past so powerfully
before the mind of Lavengro? for the words were the same
sonorous words of high import which had first made an
impression on his childish ear in the old church of pretty D-
The liturgy was now over, during the reading of which my
companions behaved in a most unexceptionable manner, sitting
down and rising up when other people sat down and rose, and
holding in their hands prayer-books which they found in the
pew, into which they stared intently, though I observed that,
with the exception of Mrs. Petulengro, who knew how to read a
little, they held the books by the top, and not the bottom,
as is the usual way. The clergyman now ascended the pulpit,
arrayed in his black gown. The congregation composed
themselves to attention, as did also my companions, who fixed
their eyes upon the clergyman with a certain strange
immovable stare, which I believe to be peculiar to their
race. The clergyman gave out his text, and began to preach.
He was a tall, gentlemanly man, seemingly between fifty and
sixty, with greyish hair; his features were very handsome,
but with a somewhat melancholy cast: the tones of his voice
were rich and noble, but also with somewhat of melancholy in
them. The text which he gave out was the following one, "In
what would a man be profited, provided he gained the whole
world, and lost his own soul?"
And on this text the clergyman preached long and well: he did
not read his sermon, but spoke it extempore; his doing so
rather surprised and offended me at first; I was not used to
such a style of preaching in a church devoted to the religion
of my country. I compared it within my mind with the style
of preaching used by the high-church rector in the old church
of pretty D-, and I thought to myself it was very different,
and being very different I did not like it, and I thought to
myself how scandalized the people of D- would have been had
they heard it, and I figured to myself how indignant the
high-church clerk would have been had any clergyman got up in
the church of D- and preached in such a manner. Did it not
savour strongly of dissent, methodism, and similar low stuff?
Surely it did; why, the Methodist I had heard preach on the
heath above the old city, preached in the same manner - at
least he preached extempore; ay, and something like the
present clergyman; for the Methodist spoke very zealously and
with great feeling, and so did the present clergyman; so I,
of course, felt rather offended with the clergyman for
speaking with zeal and feeling. However, long before the
sermon was over I forgot the offence which I had taken, and
listened to the sermon with much admiration, for the
eloquence and powerful reasoning with which it abounded.
Oh, how eloquent he was, when he talked of the inestimable
value of a man's soul, which he said endured for ever, whilst
his body, as every one knew, lasted at most for a very
contemptible period of time; and how forcibly he reasoned on
the folly of a man, who, for the sake of gaining the whole
world - a thing, he said, which provided he gained he could
only possess for a part of the time, during which his
perishable body existed - should lose his soul, that is,
cause that precious deathless portion of him to suffer
indescribable misery time without end.
There was one part of his sermon which struck me in a very
particular manner: he said, "That there were some people who
gained something in return for their souls; if they did not
get the whole world, they got a part of it - lands, wealth,
honour, or renown; mere trifles, he allowed, in comparison
with the value of a man's soul, which is destined either to
enjoy delight, or suffer tribulation time without end; but
which, in the eyes of the worldly, had a certain value, and
which afforded a certain pleasure and satisfaction. But
there were also others who lost their souls, and got nothing
for them - neither lands, wealth, renown, nor consideration,
who were poor outcasts, and despised by everybody. My
friends," he added, "if the man is a fool who barters his
soul for the whole world, what a fool he must be who barters
his soul for nothing."
The eyes of the clergyman, as he uttered these words,
wandered around the whole congregation; and when he had
concluded them, the eyes of the whole congregation were
turned upon my companions and myself.
Return from Church - The Cuckoo and Gypsy - Spiritual
THE service over, my companions and myself returned towards
the encampment, by the way we came. Some of the humble part
of the congregation laughed and joked at us as we passed.
Mr. Petulengro and his wife, however, returned their laughs
and jokes with interest. As for Tawno and myself, we said
nothing: Tawno, like most handsome fellows, having very
little to say for himself at any time; and myself, though not
handsome, not being particularly skilful at repartee. Some
boys followed us for a considerable time, making all kinds of
observations about gypsies; but as we walked at a great pace,
we gradually left them behind, and at last lost sight of
them. Mrs. Petulengro and Tawno Chikno walked together, even
as they had come; whilst Mr. Petulengro and myself followed
at a little distance.
"That was a very fine preacher we heard," said I to Mr.
Petulengro, after we had crossed the stile into the fields.
"Very fine indeed, brother," said Mr. Petulengro; "he is
talked of, far and wide, for his sermons; folks say that
there is scarcely another like him in the whole of England."
"He looks rather melancholy, Jasper."
"He lost his wife several years ago, who, they say, was one
of the most beautiful women ever seen. They say that it was
grief for her loss that made him come out mighty strong as a
preacher; for, though he was a clergyman, he was never heard
of in the pulpit before he lost his wife; since then, the
whole country has rung with the preaching of the clergyman of
M- as they call him. Those two nice young gentlewomen, whom
you saw with the female childer, are his daughters."
"You seem to know all about him, Jasper. Did you ever hear
him preach before?"
"Never, brother; but he has frequently been to our tent, and
his daughters too, and given us tracts; for he is one of the
people they call Evangelicals, who give folks tracts which
they cannot read."
"You should learn to read, Jasper."
"We have no time, brother."
"Are you not frequently idle?"
"Never, brother; when we are not engaged in our traffic, we
are engaged in taking our relaxation: so we have no time to
"You really should make an effort. If you were disposed to
learn to read, I would endeavour to assist you. You would be
all the better for knowing how to read."
"In what way, brother?"
"Why, you could read the Scriptures, and, by so doing, learn
your duty towards your fellow-creatures."
"We know that already, brother; the constables and justices
have contrived to knock that tolerably into our heads."
"Yet you frequently break the laws."
"So, I believe, do now and then those who know how to read,
"Very true, Jasper; but you really ought to learn to read,
as, by so doing, you might learn your duty towards
yourselves: and your chief duty is to take care of your own
souls; did not the preacher say, 'In what is a man profited,
provided he gain the whole world?'"
"We have not much of the world, brother."
"Very little indeed, Jasper. Did you not observe how the
eyes of the whole congregation were turned towards our pew,
when the preacher said, 'There are some people who lose their
souls, and get nothing in exchange; who are outcast,
despised, and miserable?' Now was not what he said quite
applicable to the gypsies?"
"We are not miserable, brother."
"Well, then, you ought to be, Jasper. Have you an inch of
ground of your own? Are you of the least use? Are you not
spoken ill of by everybody? What's a gypsy?"
"What's the bird noising yonder, brother?"
"The bird! oh, that's the cuckoo tolling; but what has the
cuckoo to do with the matter?"
"We'll see, brother; what's the cuckoo?"
"What is it? you know as much about it as myself, Jasper."
"Isn't it a kind of roguish, chaffing bird, brother?"
"I believe it is, Jasper."
"Nobody knows whence it comes, brother?"
"I believe not, Jasper."
"Very poor, brother, not a nest of its own?"
"So they say, Jasper."
"With every person's bad word, brother?"
"Yes, Jasper, every person is mocking it."
"Tolerably merry, brother?"
"Yes, tolerably merry, Jasper."
"Of no use at all, brother?"
"None whatever, Jasper."
"You would be glad to get rid of the cuckoos, brother?"
"Why, not exactly, Jasper; the cuckoo is a pleasant, funny
bird, and its presence and voice give a great charm to the
green trees and fields; no, I can't say I wish exactly to get
rid of the cuckoo."
"Well, brother, what's a Romany chal?"
"You must answer that question yourself, Jasper."
"A roguish, chaffing fellow, a'n't he, brother?"
"Ay, ay, Jasper."
"Of no use at all, brother?"
"Just so, Jasper; I see - "
"Something very much like a cuckoo, brother?"
"I see what you are after, Jasper."
"You would like to get rid of us, wouldn't you?"
"Why no, not exactly."
"We are no ornament to the green lanes in spring and summer
time, are we, brother? and the voices of our chies, with
their cukkerin and dukkerin, don't help to make them
"I see what you are at, Jasper."
"You would wish to turn the cuckoos into barn-door fowls,
wouldn't you?"
"Can't say I should, Jasper, whatever some people might
"And the chals and chies into radical weavers and factory
wenches, hey, brother?"
"Can't say that I should, Jasper. You are certainly a
picturesque people, and in many respects an ornament both to
town and country; painting and lil writing too are under
great obligations to you. What pretty pictures are made out
of your campings and groupings, and what pretty books have
been written in which gypsies, or at least creatures intended
to represent gypsies, have been the principal figures. I
think if we were without you, we should begin to miss you."
"Just as you would the cuckoos, if they were all converted
into barn-door fowls. I tell you what, brother; frequently,
as I have sat under a hedge in spring or summer time, and
heard the cuckoo, I have thought that we chals and cuckoos
are alike in many respects, but especially in character.
Everybody speaks ill of us both, and everybody is glad to see
both of us again."
"Yes, Jasper, but there is some difference between men and
cuckoos; men have souls, Jasper!"
"And why not cuckoos, brother?"
"You should not talk so, Jasper; what you say is little short
of blasphemy. How should a bird have a soul?"
"And how should a man?"
"Oh, we know very well that a man has a soul."
"How do you know it?"
"We know very well."
"Would you take your oath of it, brother - your bodily oath?"
"Why, I think I might, Jasper!"
"Did you ever see the soul, brother?"
"No, I never saw it."
"Then how could you swear to it? A pretty figure you would
make in a court of justice, to swear to a thing which you
never saw. Hold up your head, fellow. When and where did
you see it? Now upon your oath, fellow, do you mean to say
that this Roman stole the donkey's foal? Oh, there's no one
for cross-questioning like Counsellor P-. Our people when
they are in a hobble always like to employ him, though he is
somewhat dear. Now, brother, how can you get over the 'upon
your oath, fellow, will you say that you have a soul?'"
"Well, we will take no oaths on the subject; but you yourself
believe in the soul. I have heard you say that you believe
in dukkerin; now what is dukkerin but the soul science?"
"When did I say that I believed in it?"
"Why, after that fight, when you pointed to the bloody mark
in the cloud, whilst he you wot of was galloping in the
barouche to the old town, amidst the rain-cataracts, the
thunder, and flame of heaven."
"I have some kind of remembrance of it, brother."
"Then, again, I heard you say that the dook of Abershaw rode
every night on horseback down the wooded hill."
"I say, brother, what a wonderful memory you have!"
"I wish I had not, Jasper; but I can't help it, it is my
"Misfortune! well, perhaps it is; at any rate it is very
ungenteel to have such a memory. I have heard my wife say
that to show you have a long memory looks very vulgar; and
that you can't give a greater proof of gentility than by
forgetting a thing as soon as possible - more especially a
promise, or an acquaintance when he happens to be shabby.
Well, brother, I don't deny that I may have said that I
believe in dukkerin, and in Abershaw's dook, which you say is
his soul; but what I believe one moment, or say I believe,
don't be certain that I shall believe the next, or say I do."
"Indeed, Jasper, I heard you say on a previous occasion, on
quoting a piece of a song, that when a man dies he is cast
into the earth, and there's an end of him."
"I did, did I? Lor' what a memory you have, brother. But
you are not sure that I hold that opinion now."
"Certainly not, Jasper. Indeed, after such a sermon as we
have been hearing, I should be very shocked if you held such
an opinion."
"However, brother, don't be sure I do not, however shocking
such an opinion may be to you."
"What an incomprehensible people you are, Jasper."
"We are rather so, brother; indeed, we have posed wiser heads
than yours before now."
"You seem to care for so little, and yet you rove about a
distinct race."
"I say, brother!"
"Yes, Jasper."
"What do you think of our women?"
"They have certainly very singular names, Jasper."
"Names! Lavengro! However, brother, if you had been as fond
of things as of names, you would never have been a pal of
"What do you mean, Jasper?"
"A'n't they rum animals?"
"They have tongues of their own, Jasper."
"Did you ever feel their teeth and nails, brother?"
"Never, Jasper, save Mrs. Herne's. I have always been very
civil to them, so - "
"They let you alone. I say, brother, some part of the secret
is in them."
"They seem rather flighty, Jasper."
"Ay, ay, brother!"
"Rather fond of loose discourse!"
"Rather so, brother."
"Can you always trust them, Jasper?"
"We never watch them, brother."
"Can they always trust you?"
"Not quite so well as we can them. However, we get on very
well together, except Mikailia and her husband; but Mikailia
is a cripple, and is married to the beauty of the world, so
she may be expected to be jealous - though he would not part
with her for a duchess, no more than I would part with my
rawnie, nor any other chal with his."
"Ay, but would not the chi part with the chal for a duke,
"My Pakomovna gave up the duke for me, brother."
"But she occasionally talks of him, Jasper."
"Yes, brother, but Pakomovna was born on a common not far
from the sign of the gammon."
"Gammon of bacon, I suppose."
"Yes, brother; but gammon likewise means - "
"I know it does, Jasper; it means fun, ridicule, jest; it is
an ancient Norse word, and is found in the Edda."
"Lor', brother! how learned in lils you are!"
"Many words of Norse are to be found in our vulgar sayings,
Jasper; for example - in that particularly vulgar saying of
ours, 'Your mother is up,' there's a noble Norse word;
mother, there, meaning not the female who bore us, but rage
and choler, as I discovered by reading the Sagas, Jasper."
"Lor', brother! how book-learned you be."
"Indifferently so, Jasper. Then you think you might trust
your wife with the duke?"
"I think I could, brother, or even with yourself."
"Myself, Jasper! Oh, I never troubled my head about your
wife; but I suppose there have been love affairs between
gorgios and Romany chies. Why, novels are stuffed with such
matters; and then even one of your own songs says so - the
song which Ursula was singing the other afternoon."
"That is somewhat of an old song, brother, and is sung by the
chies as a warning at our solemn festivals."
"Well! but there's your sister-in-law, Ursula, herself,
"Ursula, herself, brother?"
"You were talking of my having her, Jasper."
"Well, brother, why didn't you have her?"
"Would she have had me?"
"Of course, brother. You are so much of a Roman, and speak
Romany so remarkably well."
"Poor thing! she looks very innocent!"
"Remarkably so, brother! however, though not born on the same
common with my wife, she knows a thing or two of Roman
"I should like to ask her a question or two, Jasper, in
connection with that song."
"You can do no better, brother. Here we are at the camp.
After tea, take Ursula under a hedge, and ask her a question
or two in connection with that song."
Sunday Evening - Ursula - Action at Law - Meridiana - Married
I TOOK tea that evening with Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro and
Ursula, outside of their tent. Tawno was not present, being
engaged with his wife in his own tabernacle; Sylvester was
there, however, lolling listlessly upon the ground. As I
looked upon this man, I thought him one of the most
disagreeable fellows I had ever seen. His features were
ugly, and, moreover, as dark as pepper; and, besides being
dark, his skin was dirty. As for his dress, it was torn and
sordid. His chest was broad, and his arms seemed powerful;
but, upon the whole, he looked a very caitiff. "I am sorry
that man has lost his wife," thought I; "for I am sure he
will never get another." What surprises me is, that he ever
found a woman disposed to unite her lot with his!
After tea I got up and strolled about the field. My thoughts
were upon Isopel Berners. I wondered where she was, and how
long she would stay away. At length becoming tired and
listless, I determined to return to the dingle, and resume
the reading of the Bible at the place where I had left off.
"What better could I do," methought, "on a Sunday evening?"
I was then near the wood which surrounded the dingle, but at
that side which was farthest from the encampment, which stood
near the entrance. Suddenly, on turning round the southern
corner of the copse, which surrounded the dingle, I perceived
Ursula seated under a thornbush. I thought I never saw her
look prettier than then, dressed as she was, in her Sunday's
"Good evening, Ursula," said I; "I little thought to have the
pleasure of seeing you here."
"Nor would you, brother," said Ursula, "had not Jasper told
me that you had been talking about me, and wanted to speak to
me under a hedge; so, hearing that, I watched your motions,
and came here and sat down."
"I was thinking of going to my quarters in the dingle, to
read the Bible, Ursula, but - "
"Oh, pray then, go to your quarters, brother, and read the
Miduveleskoe lil; you can speak to me under a hedge some
other time."
"I think I will sit down with you, Ursula; for, after all,
reading godly books in dingles at eve, is rather sombre work.
Yes, I think I will sit down with you;" and I sat down by her
"Well, brother, now you have sat down with me under the
hedge, what have you to say to me?"
"Why, I hardly know, Ursula."
"Not know, brother; a pretty fellow you to ask young women to
come and sit with you under hedges, and, when they come, not
know what to say to them."
"Oh! ah! I remember; do you know, Ursula, that I take a great
interest in you?"
"Thank ye, brother; kind of you, at any rate."
"You must be exposed to a great many temptations, Ursula."
"A great many indeed, brother. It is hard, to see fine
things, such as shawls, gold watches, and chains in the
shops, behind the big glasses, and to know that they are not
intended for one. Many's the time I have been tempted to
make a dash at them; but I bethought myself that by so doing
I should cut my hands, besides being almost certain of being
grabbed and sent across the gull's bath to the foreign
"Then you think gold and fine things temptations, Ursula?"
"Of course, brother, very great temptations; don't you think
them so?"
"Can't say I do, Ursula."
"Then more fool you, brother; but have the kindness to tell
me what you would call a temptation?"
"Why, for example, the hope of honour and renown, Ursula."
"The hope of honour and renown! very good, brother; but I
tell you one thing, that unless you have money in your
pocket, and good broad-cloth on your back, you are not likely
to obtain much honour and - what do you call it? amongst the
gorgios, to say nothing of the Romany chals."
"I should have thought, Ursula, that the Romany chals,
roaming about the world as they do, free and independent,
were above being led by such trifles."
"Then you know nothing of the gypsies, brother; no people on
earth are fonder of those trifles, as you call them, than the
Romany chals, and more disposed to respect those who have
"Then money and fine clothes would induce you to do anything,
"Ay, ay, brother, anything."
"To chore, Ursula?"
"Like enough, brother; gypsies have been transported before
now for choring."
"To hokkawar?"
"Ay, ay; I was telling dukkerin only yesterday, brother."
"In fact, to break the law in everything?"
"Who knows, brother, who knows? as I said before, gold and
fine clothes are great temptations."
"Well, Ursula, I am sorry for it, I should never have thought
you so depraved."
"Indeed, brother."
"To think that I am seated by one who is willing to - to - "
"Go on, brother."
"To play the thief."
"Go on, brother."
"The liar."
"Go on, brother."
"The - the - "
"Go on, brother."
"The - the lubbeny."
"The what, brother?" said Ursula, starting from her seat.
"Why, the lubbeny; don't you - "
"I tell you what, brother," said Ursula, looking somewhat
pale, and speaking very low, "if I had only something in my
hand, I would do you a mischief."
"Why, what is the matter, Ursula?" said I; "how have I
offended you?"
"How have you offended me? Why, didn't you insinivate just
now that I was ready to play the - the - "
"Go on, Ursula."
"The - the - I'll not say it; but I only wish I had something
in my hand."
"If I have offended, Ursula, I am very sorry for it; any
offence I may have given you was from want of understanding
you. Come, pray be seated, I have much to question you about
- to talk to you about."
"Seated, not I! It was only just now that you gave me to
understand that you was ashamed to be seated by me, a thief,
a liar."
"Well, did you not almost give me to understand that you were
both, Ursula?"
"I don't much care being called a thief and a liar," said
Ursula; "a person may be a liar and thief, and yet a very
honest woman, but - "
"Well, Ursula."
"I tell you what, brother, if you ever sinivate again that I
could be the third thing, so help me duvel! I'll do you a
mischief. By my God I will!"
"Well, Ursula, I assure you that I shall sinivate, as you
call it, nothing of the kind about you. I have no doubt,
from what you have said, that you are a very paragon of
virtue - a perfect Lucretia; but - "
"My name is Ursula, brother, and not Lucretia: Lucretia is
not of our family, but one of the Bucklands; she travels
about Oxfordshire; yet I am as good as she any day."
"Lucretia; how odd! Where could she have got that name?
Well, I make no doubt, Ursula, that you are quite as good as
she, and she as her namesake of ancient Rome; but there is a
mystery in this same virtue, Ursula, which I cannot fathom;
how a thief and a liar should be able, or indeed willing, to
preserve her virtue is what I don't understand. You confess
that you are very fond of gold. Now, how is it that you
don't barter your virtue for gold sometimes? I am a
philosopher, Ursula, and like to know everything. You must
be every now and then exposed to great temptation, Ursula;
for you are of a beauty calculated to captivate all hearts.
Come, sit down and tell me how you are enabled to resist such
a temptation as gold and fine clothes?"
"Well, brother," said Ursula, "as you say you mean no harm, I
will sit down beside you, and enter into discourse with you;
but I will uphold that you are the coolest hand that I ever
came nigh, and say the coolest things."
And thereupon Ursula sat down by my side.
"Well, Ursula, we will, if you please, discourse on the
subject of your temptations. I suppose that you travel very
much about, and show yourself in all kinds of places?"
"In all kinds, brother; I travels, as you say, very much
about, attends fairs and races, and enters booths and publichouses,
where I tells fortunes, and sometimes dances and
"And do not people often address you in a very free manner?"
"Frequently, brother; and I give them tolerably free
"Do people ever offer to make you presents? I mean presents
of value, such as - "
"Silk handkerchiefs, shawls, and trinkets; very frequently,
"And what do you do, Ursula?"
"I takes what people offers me, brother, and stows it away as
soon as I can."
"Well, but don't people expect something for their presents?
I don't mean dukkerin, dancing, and the like; but such a
moderate and innocent thing as a choomer, Ursula?"
"Innocent thing, do you call it, brother?"
"The world calls it so, Ursula. Well, do the people who give
you the fine things never expect a choomer in return?"
"Very frequently, brother."
"And do you ever grant it?"
"Never, brother."
"How do you avoid it?"
"I gets away as soon as possible, brother. If they follows
me, I tries to baffle them, by means of jests and laughter;
and if they persist, I uses bad and terrible language, of
which I have plenty in store."
"But if your terrible language has no effect?"
"Then I screams for the constable, and if he comes not, I
uses my teeth and nails."
"And are they always sufficient?"
"I have only had to use them twice, brother; but then I found
them sufficient."
"But suppose the person who followed you was highly
agreeable, Ursula? A handsome young officer of local
militia, for example, all dressed in Lincoln green, would you
still refuse him the choomer?"
"We makes no difference, brother; the daughters of the gypsyfather
makes no difference; and what's more, sees none."
"Well, Ursula, the world will hardly give you credit for such
"What cares we for the world, brother! we are not of the
"But your fathers, brothers, and uncles, give you credit, I
suppose, Ursula."
"Ay, ay, brother, our fathers, brothers, and cokos gives us
all manner of credit; for example, I am telling lies and
dukkerin in a public-house where my batu or coko - perhaps
both - are playing on the fiddle; well, my batu and my coko
beholds me amongst the public-house crew, talking nonsense
and hearing nonsense; but they are under no apprehension; and
presently they sees the good-looking officer of militia, in
his greens and Lincolns, get up and give me a wink, and I go
out with him abroad, into the dark night perhaps; well, my
batu and my coko goes on fiddling just as if I were six miles
off asleep in the tent, and not out in the dark street with
the local officer, with his Lincolns and his greens."
"They know they can trust you, Ursula?"
"Ay, ay, brother; and, what's more, I knows I can trust
"So you would merely go out to make a fool of him, Ursula?"
"Merely go out to make a fool of him, brother, I assure you."
"But such proceedings really have an odd look, Ursula."
"Amongst gorgios, very so, brother."
"Well, it must be rather unpleasant to lose one's character
even amongst gorgios, Ursula; and suppose the officer, out of
revenge for being tricked and duped by you, were to say of
you the thing that is not, were to meet you on the racecourse
the next day, and boast of receiving favours which he
never had, amidst a knot of jeering militia-men, how would
you proceed, Ursula? would you not be abashed?"
"By no means, brother; I should bring my action of law
against him."
"Your action at law, Ursula?"
"Yes, brother, I should give a whistle, whereupon all one's
cokos and batus, and all my near and distant relations, would
leave their fiddling, dukkerin, and horse-dealing, and come
flocking about me. 'What's the matter, Ursula?' says my
coko. 'Nothing at all,' I replies, 'save and except that
gorgio, in his greens and his Lincolns, says that I have
played the - with him.' 'Oho, he does, Ursula,' says my
coko, 'try your action of law against him, my lamb,' and he
puts something privily into my hands; whereupon I goes close
up to the grinning gorgio, and staring him in the face, with
my head pushed forward, I cries out: 'You say I did what was
wrong with you last night when I was out with you abroad?'
'Yes,' says the local officer, 'I says you did,' looking down
all the time. 'You are a liar,' says I, and forthwith I
breaks his head with the stick which I holds behind me, and
which my coko has conveyed privily into my hand."
"And this is your action at law, Ursula?"
"Yes, brother, this is my action at club-law."
"And would your breaking the fellow's head quite clear you of
all suspicion in the eyes of your batus, cokos, and what
"They would never suspect me at all, brother, because they
would know that I would never condescend to be over-intimate
with a gorgio; the breaking the head would be merely intended
to justify Ursula in the eyes of the gorgios."
"And would it clear you in their eyes?"
"Would it not, brother? when they saw the blood running down
from the fellow's cracked poll on his greens and Lincolns,
they would be quite satisfied; why, the fellow would not be
able to show his face at fair or merry-making for a year and
"Did you ever try it, Ursula?"
"Can't say I ever did, brother, but it would do."
"And how did you ever learn such a method of proceeding?"
"Why, 't is advised by gypsy liri, brother. It's part of our
way of settling difficulties amongst ourselves; for example,
if a young Roman were to say the thing which is not
respecting Ursula and himself, Ursula would call a great
meeting of the people, who would all sit down in a ring, the
young fellow amongst them; a coko would then put a stick in
Ursula's hand, who would then get up and go to the young
fellow, and say, 'Did I play the - with you?' and were he to
say 'Yes,' she would crack his head before the eyes of all."
"Well," said I, "Ursula, I was bred an apprentice to gorgio
law, and of course ought to stand up for it, whenever I
conscientiously can, but I must say the gypsy manner of
bringing an action for defamation is much less tedious, and
far more satisfactory, than the gorgiko one. I wish you now
to clear up a certain point which is rather mysterious to me.
You say that for a Romany chi to do what is unseemly with a
gorgio is quite out of the question, yet only the other day I
heard you singing a song in which a Romany chi confesses
herself to be cambri by a grand gorgious gentleman."
"A sad let down," said Ursula.
"Well," said I, "sad or not, there's the song that speaks of
the thing, which you give me to understand is not."
"Well, if the thing ever was," said Ursula, "it was a long
time ago, and perhaps, after all, not true."
"Then why do you sing the song?"
"I'll tell you, brother, we sings the song now and then to be
a warning to ourselves to have as little to do as possible in
the way of acquaintance with the gorgios; and a warning it
is; you see how the young woman in the song was driven out of
her tent by her mother, with all kind of disgrace and bad
language; but you don't know that she was afterwards buried
alive by her cokos and pals, in an uninhabited place; the
song doesn't say it, but the story says it, for there is a
story about it, though, as I said before, it was a long time
ago, and perhaps, after all, wasn't true."
"But if such a thing were to happen at present, would the
cokos and pals bury the girl alive?"
"I can't say what they would do," said Ursula; "I suppose
they are not so strict as they were long ago; at any rate,
she would be driven from the tan, and avoided by all her
family and relations as a gorgio's acquaintance; so that,
perhaps, at last, she would be glad if they would bury her
"Well, I can conceive that there would be an objection on the
part of the cokos and batus that a Romany chi should form an
improper acquaintance with a gorgio, but I should think that
the batus and cokos could hardly object to the chi's entering
into the honourable estate of wedlock with a gorgio."
Ursula was silent.
"Marriage is an honourable estate, Ursula."
"Well, brother, suppose it be?"
"I don't see why a Romany chi should object to enter into the
honourable estate of wedlock with a gorgio."
"You don't, brother; don't you?"
"No," said I; "and, moreover, I am aware, notwithstanding
your evasion, Ursula, that marriages and connections now and
then occur between gorgios and Romany chies; the result of
which is the mixed breed, called half and half, which is at
present travelling about England, and to which the Flaming
Tinman belongs, otherwise called Anselo Herne."
"As for the half and halfs," said Ursula, "they are a bad
set; and there is not a worse blackguard in England than
Anselo Herne."
"All that you say may be very true, Ursula, but you admit
that there are half and halfs."
"The more's the pity, brother."
"Pity, or not, you admit the fact; but how do you account for
"How do I account for it? why, I will tell you, by the break
up of a Roman family, brother - the father of a small family
dies, and, perhaps, the mother; and the poor children are
left behind; sometimes, they are gathered up by their
relations, and sometimes, if they have none, by charitable
Romans, who bring them up in the observance of gypsy law; but
sometimes they are not so lucky, and falls into the company
of gorgios, trampers, and basket-makers, who live in
caravans, with whom they take up, and so - I hate to talk of
the matter, brother; but so comes this race of the half and
"Then you mean to say, Ursula, that no Romany chi, unless
compelled by hard necessity, would have anything to do with a
"We are not over-fond of gorgios, brother, and we hates
basket-makers, and folks that live in caravans."
"Well," said I, "suppose a gorgio who is not a basket-maker,
a fine, handsome gorgious gentleman, who lives in a fine
house - "
"We are not fond of houses, brother; I never slept in a house
in my life."
"But would not plenty of money induce you?"
"I hate houses, brother, and those who live in them."
"Well, suppose such a person were willing to resign his fine
house; and, for love of you, to adopt gypsy law, speak
Romany, and live in a tan, would you have nothing to say to
"Bringing plenty of money with him, brother?"
"Well, bringing plenty of money with him, Ursula."
"Well, brother, suppose you produce your man; where is he?"
"I was merely supposing such a person, Ursula."
"Then you don't know of such a person, brother?"
"Why, no, Ursula; why do you ask?"
"Because, brother, I was almost beginning to think that you
meant yourself."
"Myself! Ursula; I have no fine house to resign; nor have I
money. Moreover, Ursula, though I have a great regard for
you, and though I consider you very handsome, quite as
handsome, indeed, as Meridiana in - "
"Meridiana! where did you meet with her?" said Ursula, with a
toss of her head.
"Why, in old Pulci's - "
"At old Fulcher's! that's not true, brother. Meridiana is a
Borzlam, and travels with her own people, and not with old
Fulcher, who is a gorgio, and a basket-maker."
"I was not speaking of old Fulcher, but Pulci, a great
Italian writer, who lived many hundred years ago, and who, in
his poem called 'Morgante Maggiore,' speaks of Meridiana, the
daughter of - "
"Old Carus Borzlam," said Ursula; "but if the fellow you
mention lived so many hundred years ago, how, in the name of
wonder, could he know anything of Meridiana?"
"The wonder, Ursula, is, how your people could ever have got
hold of that name, and similar ones. The Meridiana of Pulci
was not the daughter of old Carus Borzlam, but of Caradoro, a
great pagan king of the East, who, being besieged in his
capital by Manfredonio, another mighty pagan king, who wished
to obtain possession of his daughter, who had refused him,
was relieved in his distress by certain paladins of
Charlemagne, with one of whom, Oliver, his daughter Meridiana
fell in love."
"I see," said, Ursula, "that it must have been altogether a
different person, for I am sure that Meridiana Borzlam would
never have fallen in love with Oliver. Oliver! why, that is
the name of the curo-mengro, who lost the fight near the
chong gav, the day of the great tempest, when I got wet
through. No, no! Meridiana Borzlam would never have so far
forgot her blood as to take up with Tom Oliver."
"I was not talking of that Oliver, Ursula, but of Oliver,
peer of France, and paladin of Charlemagne, with whom
Meridiana, daughter of Caradoro, fell in love, and for whose
sake she renounced her religion and became a Christian, and
finally ingravidata, or cambri, by him:-
'E nacquene un figliuol, dice la storia,
Che dette a Carlo-man poi gran vittoria;'
which means - "
"I don't want to know what it means," said Ursula; "no good,
I'm sure. Well, if the Meridiana of Charles's wain's pal was
no handsomer than Meridiana Borzlam, she was no great catch,
brother; for though I am by no means given to vanity, I think
myself better to look at than she, though I will say she is
no lubbeny, and would scorn - "
"I make no doubt she would, Ursula, and I make no doubt that
you are much handsomer than she, or even the Meridiana of
Oliver. What I was about to say, before you interrupted me,
is this, that though I have a great regard for you, and
highly admire you, it is only in a brotherly way, and - "
"And you had nothing better to say to me," said Ursula, "when
you wanted to talk to me beneath a hedge, than that you liked
me in a brotherly way I well, I declare - "
"You seem disappointed, Ursula."
"Disappointed, brother! not I."
"You were just now saying that you disliked gorgios, so, of
course, could only wish that I, who am a gorgio, should like
you in a brotherly way: I wished to have a conversation with
you beneath a hedge, but only with the view of procuring from
you some information respecting the song which you sung the
other day, and the conduct of Roman females, which has always
struck me as being highly unaccountable; so, if you thought
anything else - "
"What else should I expect from a picker-up of old words,
brother? Bah! I dislike a picker-up of old words worse than
a picker-up of old rags."
"Don't be angry, Ursula, I feel a great interest in you; you
are very handsome, and very clever; indeed, with your beauty
and cleverness, I only wonder that you have not long since
been married."
"You do, do you, brother?"
"Yes. However, keep up your spirits, Ursula, you are not
much past the prime of youth, so - "
"Not much past the prime of youth! Don't be uncivil,
brother, I was only twenty-two last month."
"Don't be offended, Ursula, but twenty-two is twenty-two, or,
I should rather say, that twenty-two in a woman is more than
twenty-six in a man. You are still very beautiful, but I
advise you to accept the first offer that's made to you."
"Thank you, brother, but your advice comes rather late; I
accepted the first offer that was made me five years ago."
"You married five years ago, Ursula! is it possible?"
"Quite possible, brother, I assure you."
"And how came I to know nothing about it?"
"How comes it that you don't know many thousand things about
the Romans, brother? Do you think they tell you all their
"Married, Ursula, married! well, I declare!"
"You seem disappointed, brother."
"Disappointed! Oh! no, not at all; but Jasper, only a few
weeks ago, told me that you were not married; and, indeed,
almost gave me to understand that you would be very glad to
get a husband."
"And you believed him? I'll tell you, brother, for your
instruction, that there is not in the whole world a greater
liar than Jasper Petulengro."
"I am sorry to hear it, Ursula; but with respect to him you
married - who might he be? A gorgio, or a Romany chal?"
"Gorgio, or Romany chal! Do you think I would ever
condescend to a gorgio! It was a Camomescro, brother, a
Lovell, a distant relation of my own."
"And where is he? and what became of him! Have you any
"Don't think I am going to tell you all my history, brother;
and, to tell you the truth, I am tired of sitting under
hedges with you, talking nonsense. I shall go to my house."
"Do sit a little longer, sister Ursula. I most heartily
congratulate you on your marriage. But where is this same
Lovell? I have never seen him: I wish to congratulate him
too. You are quite as handsome as the Meridiana of Pulci,
Ursula, ay, or the Despina of Riciardetto. Riciardetto,
Ursula, is a poem written by one Fortiguerra, about ninety
years ago, in imitation of the Morgante of Pulci. It treats
of the wars of Charlemagne and his Paladins with various
barbarous nations, who came to besiege Paris. Despina was
the daughter and heiress of Scricca, King of Cafria; she was
the beloved of Riciardetto, and was beautiful as an angel;
but I make no doubt you are quite as handsome as she."
"Brother," said Ursula - but the reply of Ursula I reserve
for another chapter, the present having attained to rather an
uncommon length, for which, however, the importance of the
matter discussed is a sufficient apology.
Ursula's Tale - The Patteran - The Deep Water - Second
"BROTHER," said Ursula, plucking a dandelion which grew at
her feet, "I have always said that a more civil and pleasantspoken
person than yourself can't be found. I have a great
regard for you and your learning, and am willing to do you
any pleasure in the way of words or conversation. Mine is
not a very happy story, but as you wish to hear it, it is
quite at your service. Launcelot Lovell made me an offer, as
you call it, and we were married in Roman fashion; that is,
we gave each other our right hands, and promised to be true
to each other. We lived together two years, travelling
sometimes by ourselves, sometimes with our relations; I bore
him two children, both of which were still-born, partly, I
believe, from the fatigue I underwent in running about the
country telling dukkerin when I was not exactly in a state to
do so, and partly from the kicks and blows which my husband
Launcelot was in the habit of giving me every night, provided
I came home with less than five shillings, which it is
sometimes impossible to make in the country, provided no fair
or merry-making is going on. At the end of two years my
husband, Launcelot, whistled a horse from a farmer's field,
and sold it for forty-pounds; and for that horse he was
taken, put in prison, tried, and condemned to be sent to the
other country for life. Two days before he was to be sent
away, I got leave to see him in the prison, and in the
presence of the turnkey I gave him a thin cake of
gingerbread, in which there was a dainty saw which could cut
through iron. I then took on wonderfully, turned my eyes
inside out, fell down in a seeming fit, and was carried out
of the prison. That same night my husband sawed his irons
off, cut through the bars of his window, and dropping down a
height of fifty feet, lighted on his legs, and came and
joined me on a heath where I was camped alone. We were just
getting things ready to be off, when we heard people coming,
and sure enough they were runners after my husband, Launcelot
Lovell; for his escape had been discovered within a quarter
of an hour after he had got away. My husband, without
bidding me farewell, set off at full speed, and they after
him, but they could not take him, and so they came back and
took me, and shook me, and threatened me, and had me before
the poknees, who shook his head at me, and threatened me in
order to make me discover where my husband was, but I said I
did not know, which was true enough; not that I would have
told him if I had. So at last the poknees and the runners,
not being able to make anything out of me, were obliged to
let me go, and I went in search of my husband. I wandered
about with my cart for several days in the direction in which
I saw him run off, with my eyes bent on the ground, but could
see no marks of him; at last, coming to four cross roads, I
saw my husband's patteran."
"You saw your husband's patteran?"
"Yes, brother. Do you know what patteran means?"
"Of course, Ursula; the gypsy trail, the handful of grass
which the gypsies strew in the roads as they travel, to give
information to any of their companions who may be behind, as
to the route they have taken. The gypsy patteran has always
had a strange interest for me, Ursula."
"Like enough, brother; but what does patteran mean?"
"Why, the gypsy trail, formed as I told you before."
"And you know nothing more about patteran, brother?"
"Nothing at all, Ursula; do you?"
"What's the name for the leaf of a tree, brother?"
"I don't know," said I; "it's odd enough that I have asked
that question of a dozen Romany chals and chies, and they
always told me that they did not know."
"No more they did, brother; there's only one person in
England that knows, and that's myself - the name for a leaf
is patteran. Now there are two that knows it - the other is
"Dear me, Ursula, how very strange! I am much obliged to
you. I think I never saw you look so pretty as you do now;
but who told you?"
"My mother, Mrs. Herne, told it me one day, brother, when she
was in a good humour, which she very seldom was, as no one
has a better right to know than yourself, as she hated you
mortally: it was one day when you had been asking our company
what was the word for a leaf, and nobody could tell you, that
she took me aside and told me, for she was in a good humour,
and triumphed in seeing you balked. She told me the word for
leaf was patteran, which our people use now for trail, having
forgotten the true meaning. She said that the trail was
called patteran, because the gypsies of old were in the habit
of making the marks with the leaves and branches of trees,
placed in a certain manner. She said that nobody knew it but
herself, who was one of the old sort, and begged me never to
tell the word to any one but him I should marry; and to be
particularly cautious never to let you know it, whom she
hated. Well, brother, perhaps I have done wrong to tell you;
but, as I said before, I likes you, and am always ready to do
your pleasure in words and conversation; my mother, moreover,
is dead and gone, and, poor thing, will never know anything
about the matter. So, when I married, I told my husband
about the patteran, and we were in the habit of making our
private trails with leaves and branches of trees, which none
of the other gypsy people did; so, when I saw my husband's
patteran, I knew it at once, and I followed it upwards of two
hundred miles towards the north; and then I came to a deep,
awful-looking water, with an overhanging bank, and on the
bank I found the patteran, which directed me to proceed along
the bank towards the east, and I followed my husband's
patteran towards the east; and before I had gone half a mile,
I came to a place where I saw the bank had given way, and
fallen into the deep water. Without paying much heed, I
passed on, and presently came to a public-house, not far from
the water, and I entered the public-house to get a little
beer, and perhaps to tell a dukkerin, for I saw a great many
people about the door; and, when I entered, I found there was
what they calls an inquest being held upon a body in that
house, and the jury had just risen to go and look at the
body; and being a woman, and having a curiosity, I thought I
would go with them, and so I did; and no sooner did I see the
body, than I knew it to be my husband's; it was much swelled
and altered, but I knew it partly by the clothes, and partly
by a mark on the forehead, and I cried out, 'It is my
husband's body,' and I fell down in a fit, and the fit that
time, brother, was not a seeming one."
"Dear me," said I, "how terrible! but tell me, Ursula, how
did your husband come by his death?"
"The bank, overhanging the deep water, gave way under him,
brother, and he was drowned; for, like most of our people, he
could not swim, or only a little. The body, after it had
been in the water a long time, came up of itself, and was
found floating. Well, brother, when the people of the
neighbourhood found that I was the wife of the drowned man,
they were very kind to me, and made a subscription for me,
with which, after having seen my husband buried, I returned
the way I had come, till I met Jasper and his people, and
with them I have travelled ever since: I was very melancholy
for a long time, I assure you, brother; for the death of my
husband preyed very much upon my mind."
"His death was certainly a very shocking one, Ursula; but,
really, if he had died a natural one, you could scarcely have
regretted it, for he appears to have treated you
"Women must bear, brother; and, barring that he kicked and
beat me, and drove me out to tell dukkerin when I could
scarcely stand, he was not a bad husband. A man, by gypsy
law, brother, is allowed to kick and beat his wife, and to
bury her alive, if he thinks proper. I am a gypsy, and have
nothing to say against the law."
"But what has Mikailia Chikno to say about it?"
"She is a cripple, brother, the only cripple amongst the
Roman people: so she is allowed to do and say as she pleases.
Moreover, her husband does not think fit to kick or beat her,
though it is my opinion she would like him all the better if
he were occasionally to do so, and threaten to bury her
alive; at any rate, she would treat him better, and respect
him more."
"Your sister does not seem to stand much in awe of Jasper
Petulengro, Ursula."
"Let the matters of my sister and Jasper Petulengro alone,
brother; you must travel in their company some time before
you can understand them; they are a strange two, up to all
kind of chaffing: but two more regular Romans don't breathe,
and I'll tell you, for your instruction, that there isn't a
better mare-breaker in England than Jasper Petulengro, if you
can manage Miss Isopel Berners as well as - "
"Isopel Berners," said I, "how came you to think of her?"
"How should I but think of her, brother, living as she does
with you in Mumper's dingle, and travelling about with you;
you will have, brother, more difficulty to manage her, than
Jasper has to manage my sister Pakomovna. I should have
mentioned her before, only I wanted to know what you had to
say to me; and when we got into discourse, I forgot her. I
say, brother, let me tell you your dukkerin, with respect to
her, you will never - "
"I want to hear no dukkerin, Ursula."
"Do let me tell you your dukkerin, brother, you will never
manage - "
"I want to hear no dukkerin, Ursula, in connection with
Isopel Berners. Moreover, it is Sunday, we will change the
subject; it is surprising to me that, after all you have
undergone, you should look so beautiful. I suppose you do
not think of marrying again, Ursula?"
"No, brother, one husband at a time is quite enough for any
reasonable mort; especially such a good husband as I have
"Such a good husband! why, I thought you told me your husband
was drowned?"
"Yes, brother, my first husband was."
"And have you a second?"
"To be sure, brother."
"And who is he? in the name of wonder."
"Who is he? why Sylvester, to be sure."
"I do assure you, Ursula, that I feel disposed to be angry
with you; such a handsome young woman as yourself to take up
with such a nasty pepper-faced good for nothing - "
"I won't hear my husband abused, brother; so you had better
say no more."
"Why, is he not the Lazarus of the gypsies? has he a penny of
his own, Ursula?"
"Then the more his want, brother, of a clever chi like me to
take care of him and his childer. I tell you what, brother,
I will chore, if necessary, and tell dukkerin for Sylvester,
if even so heavy as scarcely to be able to stand. You call
him lazy; you would not think him lazy if you were in a ring
with him: he is a proper man with his hands; Jasper is going
to back him for twenty pounds against Slammocks of the Chong
gav, the brother of Roarer and Bell-metal, he says he has no
doubt that he will win."
"Well, if you like him, I, of course, can have no objection.
Have you been long married?"
"About a fortnight, brother; that dinner, the other day, when
I sang the song, was given in celebration of the wedding."
"Were you married in a church, Ursula?"
"We were not, brother; none but gorgios, cripples, and
lubbenys are ever married in a church: we took each other's
words. Brother, I have been with you near three hours
beneath this hedge. I will go to my husband."
"Does he know that you are here?"
"He does, brother."
"And is he satisfied?"
"Satisfied! of course. Lor', you gorgies! Brother, I go to
my husband and my house." And, thereupon, Ursula rose and
After waiting a little time I also arose; it was now dark,
and I thought I could do no better than betake myself to the
dingle; at the entrance of it I found Mr. Petulengro. "Well,
brother," said he, "what kind of conversation have you and
Ursula had beneath the hedge?"
"If you wished to hear what we were talking about, you should
have come and sat down beside us; you knew where we were."
"Well, brother, I did much the same, for I went and sat down
behind you."
"Behind the hedge, Jasper?"
"Behind the hedge, brother."
"And heard all our conversation."
"Every word, brother; and a rum conversation it was."
"'Tis an old saying, Jasper, that listeners never hear any
good of themselves; perhaps you heard the epithet that Ursula
bestowed upon you."
"If, by epitaph, you mean that she called me a liar, I did,
brother, and she was not much wrong, for I certainly do not
always stick exactly to truth; you, however, have not much to
complain of me."
"You deceived me about Ursula, giving me to understand she
was not married."
"She was not married when I told you so, brother; that is,
not to Sylvester; nor was I aware that she was going to marry
him. I once thought you had a kind of regard for her, and I
am sure she had as much for you as a Romany chi can have for
a gorgio. I half expected to have heard you make love to her
behind the hedge, but I begin to think you care for nothing
in this world but old words and strange stories. Lor' to
take a young woman under a hedge, and talk to her as you did
to Ursula; and yet you got everything out of her that you
wanted, with your gammon about old Fulcher and Meridiana.
You are a cunning one, brother."
"There you are mistaken, Jasper. I am not cunning. If
people think I am, it is because, being made up of art
themselves, simplicity of character is a puzzle to them.
Your women are certainly extraordinary creatures, Jasper."
"Didn't I say they were rum animals? Brother, we Romans
shall always stick together as long as they stick fast to
"Do you think they always will, Jasper?"
"Can't say, brother; nothing lasts for ever. Romany chies
are Romany chies still, though not exactly what they were
sixty years ago. My wife, though a rum one, is not Mrs.
Herne, brother. I think she is rather fond of Frenchmen and
French discourse. I tell you what, brother, if ever gypsyism
breaks up, it will be owing to our chies having been bitten
by that mad puppy they calls gentility."
The Dingle at Night - The Two Sides of the Question - Roman
Females - Filling the Kettle - The Dream - The Tall Figure.
I DESCENDED to the bottom of the dingle. It was nearly
involved in obscurity. To dissipate the feeling of
melancholy which came over my mind, I resolved to kindle a
fire; and having heaped dry sticks upon my hearth, and added
a billet or two, I struck a light, and soon produced a blaze.
Sitting down, I fixed my eyes upon the blaze, and soon fell
into a deep meditation. I thought of the events of the day,
the scene at church, and what I had heard at church, the
danger of losing one's soul, the doubts of Jasper Petulengro
as to whether one had a soul. I thought over the various
arguments which I had either heard, or which had come
spontaneously to my mind, for or against the probability of a
state of future existence. They appeared to me to be
tolerably evenly balanced. I then thought that it was at all
events taking the safest part to conclude that there was a
soul. It would be a terrible thing, after having passed
one's life in the disbelief of the existence of a soul, to
wake up after death a soul, and to find one's self a lost
soul. Yes, methought I would come to the conclusion that one
has a soul. Choosing the safe side, however, appeared to me
to be playing a rather dastardly part. I had never been an
admirer of people who chose the safe side in everything;
indeed I had always entertained a thorough contempt for them.
Surely it would be showing more manhood to adopt the
dangerous side, that of disbelief; I almost resolved to do so
- but yet in a question of so much importance, I ought not to
be guided by vanity. The question was not which was the
safe, but the true side? yet how was I to know which was the
true side? Then I thought of the Bible - which I had been
reading in the morning - that spoke of the soul and a future
state; but was the Bible true? I had heard learned and moral
men say that it was true, but I had also heard learned and
moral men say that it was not: how was I to decide? Still
that balance of probabilities! If I could but see the way of
truth, I would follow it, if necessary, upon hands and knees;
on that I was determined; but I could not see it. Feeling my
brain begin to turn round, I resolved to think of something
else; and forthwith began to think of what had passed between
Ursula and myself in our discourse beneath the hedge.
I mused deeply on what she had told me as to the virtue of
the females of her race. How singular that virtue must be
which was kept pure and immaculate by the possessor, whilst
indulging in habits of falsehood and dishonesty! I had
always thought the gypsy females extraordinary beings. I had
often wondered at them, their dress, their manner of
speaking, and, not least, at their names; but, until the
present day, I had been unacquainted with the most
extraordinary point connected with them. How came they
possessed of this extraordinary virtue? was it because they
were thievish? I remembered that an ancient thief-taker, who
had retired from his useful calling, and who frequently
visited the office of my master at law, the respectable S-,
who had the management of his property - I remembered to have
heard this worthy, with whom I occasionally held discourse,
philosophic and profound, when he and I chanced to be alone
together in the office, say that all first-rate thieves were
sober, and of well-regulated morals, their bodily passions
being kept in abeyance by their love of gain; but this axiom
could scarcely hold good with respect to these women -
however thievish they might be, they did care for something
besides gain: they cared for their husbands. If they did
thieve, they merely thieved for their husbands; and though,
perhaps, some of them were vain, they merely prized their
beauty because it gave them favour in the eyes of their
husbands. Whatever the husbands were - and Jasper had almost
insinuated that the males occasionally allowed themselves
some latitude - they appeared to be as faithful to their
husbands as the ancient Roman matrons were to theirs. Roman
matrons! and, after all, might not these be in reality Roman
matrons? They called themselves Romans; might not they be
the descendants of the old Roman matrons? Might not they be
of the same blood as Lucretia? And were not many of their
strange names - Lucretia amongst the rest - handed down to
them from old Rome? It is true their language was not that
of old Rome; it was not, however, altogether different from
it. After all, the ancient Romans might be a tribe of these
people, who settled down and founded a village with the tilts
of carts, which, by degrees, and the influx of other people,
became the grand city of the world. I liked the idea of the
grand city of the world owing its origin to a people who had
been in the habit of carrying their houses in their carts.
Why, after all, should not the Romans of history be a branch
of these Romans? There were several points of similarity
between them; if Roman matrons were chaste, both men and
women were thieves. Old Rome was the thief of the world; yet
still there were difficulties to be removed before I could
persuade myself that the old Romans and my Romans were
identical; and in trying to remove these difficulties, I felt
my brain once more beginning to turn, and in haste took up
another subject of meditation, and that was the patteran, and
what Ursula had told me about it.
I had always entertained a strange interest for that sign by
which in their wanderings the Romanese gave to those of their
people who came behind intimation as to the direction which
they took; but it now inspired me with greater interest than
ever, - now that I had learnt that the proper meaning of it
was the leaves of trees. I had, as I had said in my dialogue
with Ursula, been very eager to learn the word for leaf in
the Romanian language, but had never learnt it till this day;
so patteran signified leaf of a tree; and no one at present
knew that but myself and Ursula, who had learnt it from Mrs.
Herne, the last, it was said, of the old stock; and then I
thought what strange people the gypsies must have been in the
old time. They were sufficiently strange at present, but
they must have been far stranger of old; they must have been
a more peculiar people - their language must have been more
perfect - and they must have had a greater stock of strange
secrets. I almost wished that I had lived some two or three
hundred years ago, that I might have observed these people
when they were yet stranger than at present. I wondered
whether I could have introduced myself to their company at
that period, whether I should have been so fortunate as to
meet such a strange, half-malicious, half good-humoured being
as Jasper, who would have instructed me in the language, then
more deserving of note than at present. What might I not
have done with that language, had I known it in its purity?
Why, I might have written books in it; yet those who spoke it
would hardly have admitted me to their society at that
period, when they kept more to themselves. Yet I thought
that I might possibly have gained their confidence, and have
wandered about with them, and learnt their language, and all
their strange ways, and then - and then - and a sigh rose
from the depth of my breast; for I began to think, "Supposing
I had accomplished all this, what would have been the profit
of it; and in what would all this wild gypsy dream have
Then rose another sigh, yet more profound, for I began to
think, "What was likely to be the profit of my present way of
life; the living in dingles, making pony and donkey shoes,
conversing with gypsy-women under hedges, and extracting from
them their odd secrets?" What was likely to be the profit of
such a kind of life, even should it continue for a length of
time? - a supposition not very probable, for I was earning
nothing to support me, and the funds with which I had entered
upon this life were gradually disappearing. I was living, it
is true, not unpleasantly, enjoying the healthy air of
heaven; but, upon the whole, was I not sadly misspending my
time? Surely I was; and, as I looked back, it appeared to me
that I had always been doing so. What had been the profit of
the tongues which I had learnt? had they ever assisted me in
the day of hunger? No, no! it appeared to me that I had
always misspent my time, save in one instance, when by a
desperate effort I had collected all the powers of my
imagination, and written the "Life of Joseph Sell;" but even
when I wrote the Life of Sell, was I not in a false position?
Provided I had not misspent my time, would it have been
necessary to make that effort, which, after all, had only
enabled me to leave London, and wander about the country for
a time? But could I, taking all circumstances into
consideration, have done better than I had? With my peculiar
temperament and ideas, could I have pursued with advantage
the profession to which my respectable parents had
endeavoured to bring me up? It appeared to me that I could
not, and that the hand of necessity had guided me from my
earliest years, until the present night, in which I found
myself seated in the dingle, staring on the brands of the
fire. But ceasing to think of the past which, as
irrecoverably gone, it was useless to regret, even were there
cause to regret it, what should I do in future? Should I
write another book like the Life of Joseph Sell; take it to
London, and offer it to a publisher? But when I reflected on
the grisly sufferings which I had undergone whilst engaged in
writing the Life of Sell, I shrank from the idea of a similar
attempt; moreover, I doubted whether I possessed the power to
write a similar work - whether the materials for the life of
another Sell lurked within the recesses of my brain? Had I
not better become in reality what I had hitherto been merely
playing at - a tinker or a gypsy? But I soon saw that I was
not fitted to become either in reality. It was much more
agreeable to play the gypsy or the tinker than to become
either in reality. I had seen enough of gypsying and
tinkering to be convinced of that. All of a sudden the idea
of tilling the soil came into my head; tilling the soil was a
healthful and noble pursuit! but my idea of tilling the soil
had no connection with Britain; for I could only expect to
till the soil in Britain as a serf. I thought of tilling it
in America, in which it was said there was plenty of wild,
unclaimed land, of which any one, who chose to clear it of
its trees, might take possession. I figured myself in
America, in an immense forest, clearing the land destined, by
my exertions, to become a fruitful and smiling plain.
Methought I heard the crash of the huge trees as they fell
beneath my axe; and then I bethought me that a man was
intended to marry - I ought to marry; and if I married, where
was I likely to be more happy as a husband and a father than
in America, engaged in tilling the ground? I fancied myself
in America, engaged in tilling the ground, assisted by an
enormous progeny. Well, why not marry, and go and till the
ground in America? I was young, and youth was the time to
marry in, and to labour in. I had the use of all my
faculties; my eyes, it is true, were rather dull from early
study, and from writing the Life of Joseph Sell; but I could
see tolerably well with them, and they were not bleared. I
felt my arms, and thighs, and teeth - they were strong and
sound enough; so now was the time to labour, to marry, eat
strong flesh, and beget strong children - the power of doing
all this would pass away with youth, which was terribly
transitory. I bethought me that a time would come when my
eyes would be bleared, and, perhaps, sightless; my arms and
thighs strengthless and sapless; when my teeth would shake in
my jaws, even supposing they did not drop out. No going a
wooing then - no labouring - no eating strong flesh, and
begetting lusty children then; and I bethought me how, when
all this should be, I should bewail the days of my youth as
misspent, provided I had not in them founded for myself a
home, and begotten strong children to take care of me in the
days when I could not take care of myself; and thinking of
these things, I became sadder and sadder, and stared vacantly
upon the fire till my eyes closed in a doze.
I continued dozing over the fire, until rousing myself I
perceived that the brands were nearly consumed, and I thought
of retiring for the night. I arose, and was about to enter
my tent, when a thought struck me. "Suppose," thought I,
"that Isopel Berners should return in the midst of the night,
how dark and dreary would the dingle appear without a fire!
truly, I will keep up the fire, and I will do more; I have no
board to spread for her, but I will fill the kettle, and heat
it, so that, if she comes, I may be able to welcome her with
a cup of tea, for I know she loves tea." Thereupon, I piled
more wood upon the fire, and soon succeeded in procuring a
better blaze than before; then, taking the kettle, I set out
for the spring. On arriving at the mouth of the dingle,
which fronted the east, I perceived that Charles's wain was
nearly opposite to it, high above in the heavens, by which I
knew that the night was tolerably well advanced. The gypsy
encampment lay before me; all was hushed and still within it,
and its inmates appeared to be locked in slumber; as I
advanced, however, the dogs, which were fastened outside the
tents, growled and barked; but presently recognising me, they
were again silent, some of them wagging their tails. As I
drew near a particular tent, I heard a female voice say -
"Some one is coming!" and, as I was about to pass it, the
cloth which formed the door was suddenly lifted up, and a
black head and part of a huge naked body protruded. It was
the head and upper part of the giant Tawno, who, according to
the fashion of gypsy men, lay next the door wrapped in his
blanket; the blanket had, however, fallen off, and the
starlight shone clear on his athletic tawny body, and was
reflected from his large staring eyes.
"It is only I, Tawno," said I, "going to fill the kettle, as
it is possible that Miss Berners may arrive this night."
"Kos-ko," drawled out Tawno, and replaced the curtain.
"Good, do you call it?" said the sharp voice of his wife;
"there is no good in the matter! if that young chap were not
living with the rawnee in the illegal and uncertificated
line, he would not be getting up in the middle of the night
to fill her kettles." Passing on, I proceeded to the spring,
where I filled the kettle, and then returned to the dingle.
Placing the kettle upon the fire, I watched it till it began
to boil; then removing it from the top of the brands, I
placed it close beside the fire, and leaving it simmering, I
retired to my tent; where, having taken off my shoes, and a
few of my garments, I lay down on my palliasse, and was not
long in falling asleep. I believe I slept soundly for some
time, thinking and dreaming of nothing; suddenly, however, my
sleep became disturbed, and the subject of the patterans
began to occupy my brain. I imagined that I saw Ursula
tracing her husband, Launcelot Lovel, by means of his
patterans; I imagined that she had considerable difficulty in
doing so; that she was occasionally interrupted by parish
beadles and constables, who asked her whither she was
travelling, to whom she gave various answers. Presently
methought that, as she was passing by a farm-yard, two fierce
and savage dogs flew at her; I was in great trouble, I
remember, and wished to assist her, but could not, for though
I seemed to see her, I was still at a distance: and now it
appeared that she had escaped from the dogs, and was
proceeding with her cart along a gravelly path which
traversed a wild moor; I could hear the wheels grating amidst
sand and gravel. The next moment I was awake, and found
myself sitting up in my tent; there was a glimmer of light
through the canvas caused by the fire; a feeling of dread
came over me, which was perhaps natural, on starting suddenly
from one's sleep in that wild lone place; I half imagined
that some one was nigh the tent; the idea made me rather
uncomfortable, and, to dissipate it, I lifted up the canvas
of the door and peeped out, and, lo! I had a distinct view of
a tall figure standing by the tent. "Who is that?" said I,
whilst I felt my blood rush to my heart. "It is I," said the
voice of Isopel Berners; "you little expected me, I dare say;
well, sleep on, I do not wish to disturb you." "But I was
expecting you," said I, recovering myself, "as you may see by
the fire and kettle. I will be with you in a moment."
Putting on in haste the articles of dress which I had flung
off, I came out of the tent, and addressing myself to Isopel,
who was standing beside her cart, I said - "just as I was
about to retire to rest I thought it possible that you might
come to-night, and got everything in readiness for you. Now,
sit down by the fire whilst I lead the donkey and cart to the
place where you stay; I will unharness the animal, and
presently come and join you." "I need not trouble you," said
Isopel; "I will go myself and see after my things." "We will
go together," said I, "and then return and have some tea."
Isopel made no objection, and in about half-an-hour we had
arranged everything at her quarters, I then hastened and
prepared tea. Presently Isopel rejoined me, bringing her
stool; she had divested herself of her bonnet, and her hair
fell over her shoulders; she sat down, and I poured out the
beverage, handing her a cup. "Have you made a long journey
to-night?" said I. "A very long one," replied Belle. "I
have come nearly twenty miles since six o'clock." "I believe
I heard you coming in my sleep," said I; "did the dogs above
bark at you?" "Yes," said Isopel, "very violently; did you
think of me in your sleep?" "No," said I, "I was thinking of
Ursula and something she had told me." "When and where was
that?" said Isopel. "Yesterday evening," said I, "beneath
the dingle hedge." "Then you were talking with her beneath
the hedge?" "I was," said I, "but only upon gypsy matters.
Do you know, Belle, that she has just been married to
Sylvester, so that you need not think that she and I - "
"She and you are quite at liberty to sit where you please,"
said Isopel. "However, young man," she continued, dropping
her tone, which she had slightly raised, "I believe what you
said, that you were merely talking about gypsy matters, and
also what you were going to say, if it was, as I suppose,
that she and you had no particular acquaintance." Isopel was
now silent for some time. "What are you thinking of?" said
I. "I was thinking," said Belle, "how exceedingly kind it
was of you to get everything in readiness for me, though you
did not know that I should come." "I had a presentiment that
you would come," said I; "but you forget that I have prepared
the kettle for you before, though it was true that I was then
certain that you would come." "I had not forgotten your
doing so, young man," said Belle; "but I was beginning to
think that you were utterly selfish, caring for nothing but
the gratification of your own selfish whims." "I am very
fond of having my own way," said I, "but utterly selfish I am
not, as I dare say I shall frequently prove to you. You will
often find the kettle boiling when you come home." "Not
heated by you," said Isopel, with a sigh. "By whom else?"
said I; "surely you are not thinking of driving me away?"
"You have as much right here as myself," said Isopel, "as I
have told you before; but I must be going myself." "Well,"
said I, "we can go together; to tell you the truth, I am
rather tired of this place." "Our paths must be separate,"
said Belle. "Separate," said I, "what do you mean? I shan't
let you go alone, I shall go with you; and you know the road
is as free to me as to you; besides, you can't think of
parting company with me, considering how much you would lose
by doing so; remember that you know scarcely anything of the
Armenian language; now, to learn Armenian from me would take
you twenty years."
Belle faintly smiled. "Come," said I, "take another cup of
tea." Belle took another cup of tea, and yet another; we had
some indifferent conversation, after which I arose and gave
her donkey a considerable feed of corn. Belle thanked me,
shook me by the hand, and then went to her own tabernacle,
and I returned to mine.
Visit to the Landlord - His Mortifications - Hunter and his
Clan - Resolution.
ON the following morning, after breakfasting with Belle, who
was silent and melancholy, I left her in the dingle, and took
a stroll amongst the neighbouring lanes. After some time I
thought I would pay a visit to the landlord of the publichouse,
whom I had not seen since the day when he communicated
to me his intention of changing his religion. I therefore
directed my steps to the house, and on entering it found the
landlord standing in the kitchen. Just then two mean-looking
fellows, who had been drinking at one of the tables, and who
appeared to be the only customers in the house, got up,
brushed past the landlord, and saying in a surly tone, we
shall pay you some time or other, took their departure.
"That's the way they serve me now," said the landlord, with a
sigh. "Do you know those fellows," I demanded, "since you
let them go away in your debt?" "I know nothing about
them," said the landlord, "save that they are a couple of
scamps." "Then why did you let them go away without paying
you?" said I. "I had not the heart to stop them," said the
landlord; "and, to tell you the truth, everybody serves me so
now, and I suppose they are right, for a child could flog
me." "Nonsense," said I, "behave more like a man, and with
respect to those two fellows run after them, I will go with
you, and if they refuse to pay the reckoning I will help you
to shake some money out of their clothes." "Thank you," said
the landlord; "but as they are gone, let them go on. What
they have drank is not of much consequence." "What is the
matter with you?" said I, staring at the landlord, who
appeared strangely altered; his features were wild and
haggard, his formerly bluff cheeks were considerably sunken
in, and his figure had lost much of its plumpness. "Have you
changed your religion already, and has the fellow in black
commanded you to fast?" "I have not changed my religion
yet," said the landlord, with a kind of shudder; "I am to
change it publicly this day fortnight, and the idea of doing
so - I do not mind telling you - preys much upon my mind;
moreover, the noise of the thing has got abroad, and
everybody is laughing at me, and what's more, coming and
drinking my beer, and going away without paying for it,
whilst I feel myself like one bewitched, wishing but not
daring to take my own part. Confound the fellow in black, I
wish I had never seen him! yet what can I do without him?
The brewer swears that unless I pay him fifty pounds within a
fortnight he'll send a distress warrant into the house, and
take all I have. My poor niece is crying in the room above;
and I am thinking of going into the stable and hanging
myself; and perhaps it's the best thing I can do, for it's
better to hang myself before selling my soul than afterwards,
as I'm sure I should, like Judas Iscariot, whom my poor
niece, who is somewhat religiously inclined, has been talking
to me about." "I wish I could assist you," said I, "with
money, but that is quite out of my power. However, I can
give you a piece of advice. Don't change your religion by
any means; you can't hope to prosper if you do; and if the
brewer chooses to deal hardly with you, let him. Everybody
would respect you ten times more provided you allowed
yourself to be turned into the roads rather than change your
religion, than if you got fifty pounds for renouncing it."
"I am half inclined to take your advice," said the landlord,
"only, to tell you the truth, I feel quite low, without any
heart in me." "Come into the bar," said I, "and let us have
something together - you need not be afraid of my not paying
for what I order."
We went into the bar-room, where the landlord and I discussed
between us two bottles of strong ale, which he said were part
of the last six which he had in his possession. At first he
wished to drink sherry, but I begged him to do no such thing,
telling him that sherry would do him no good under the
present circumstances; nor, indeed, to the best of my belief,
under any, it being of all wines the one for which I
entertained the most contempt. The landlord allowed himself
to be dissuaded, and, after a glass or two of ale, confessed
that sherry was a sickly, disagreeable drink, and that he had
merely been in the habit of taking it from an idea he had
that it was genteel. Whilst quaffing our beverage, he gave
me an account of the various mortifications to which he had
of late been subject, dwelling with particular bitterness on
the conduct of Hunter, who he said came every night and
mouthed him, and afterwards went away without paying for what
he had drank or smoked, in which conduct he was closely
imitated by a clan of fellows who constantly attended him.
After spending several hours at the public-house I departed,
not forgetting to pay for the two bottles of ale. The
landlord, before I went, shaking me by the hand, declared
that he had now made up his mind to stick to his religion at
all hazards, the more especially as he was convinced he
should derive no good by giving it up.
Preparations for the Fair - The Last Lesson - The Verb
IT might be about five in the evening, when I reached the
gypsy encampment. Here I found Mr. Petulengro, Tawno Chikno,
Sylvester, and others in a great bustle, clipping and
trimming certain ponies and old horses which they had brought
with them. On inquiring of Jasper the reason of their being
so engaged, he informed me that they were getting the horses
ready for a fair, which was to he held on the morrow, at a
place some miles distant, at which they should endeavour to
dispose of them, adding - "Perhaps, brother, you will go with
us, provided you have nothing better to do?" Not having any
particular engagement, I assured him that I should have great
pleasure in being of the party. It was agreed that we should
start early on the following morning. Thereupon I descended
into the dingle. Belle was sitting before the fire, at which
the kettle was boiling. "Were you waiting for me?" I
inquired. "Yes," said Belle, "I thought that you would come,
and I waited for you." "That was very kind," said I. "Not
half so kind," said she, "as it was of you to get everything
ready for me in the dead of last night, when there was
scarcely a chance of my coming." The tea-things were brought
forward, and we sat down. "Have you been far?" said Belle.
"Merely to that public-house," said I, "to which you directed
me on the second day of our acquaintance." "Young men should
not make a habit of visiting public-houses," said Belle,
"they are bad places." "They may be so to some people," said
I, "but I do not think the worst public-house in England
could do me any harm." "Perhaps you are so bad already,"
said Belle, with a smile, "that it would be impossible to
spoil you." "How dare you catch at my words?" said I; "come,
I will make you pay for doing so - you shall have this
evening the longest lesson in Armenian which I have yet
inflicted upon you." "You may well say inflicted," said
Belle, "but pray spare me. I do not wish to hear anything
about Armenian, especially this evening." "Why this
evening?" said I. Belle made no answer. "I will not spare
you," said I; "this evening I intend to make you conjugate an
Armenian verb." "Well, be it so," said Belle; "for this
evening you shall command." "To command is hramahyel," said
I. "Ram her ill, indeed," said Belle; "I do not wish to
begin with that." "No," said I, "as we have come to the
verbs, we will begin regularly; hramahyel is a verb of the
second conjugation. We will begin with the first." "First
of all tell me," said Belle, "what a verb is?" "A part of
speech," said I, "which, according to the dictionary,
signifies some action or passion; for example, I command you,
or I hate you." "I have given you no cause to hate me," said
Belle, looking me sorrowfully in the face.
"I was merely giving two examples," said I, "and neither was
directed at you. In those examples, to command and hate are
verbs. Belle, in Armenian there are four conjugations of
verbs; the first ends in al, the second in yel, the third in
oul, and the fourth in il. Now, have you understood me?"
"I am afraid, indeed, it will all end ill," said Belle.
"Hold your tongue," said I, "or you will make me lose my
patience." "You have already made me nearly lose mine," said
Belle. "Let us have no unprofitable interruptions," said I;
"the conjugations of the Armenian verbs are neither so
numerous nor so difficult as the declensions of the nouns;
hear that, and rejoice. Come, we will begin with the verb
hntal, a verb of the first conjugation, which signifies to
rejoice. Come along; hntam, I rejoice; hntas, thou
rejoicest; why don't you follow, Belle?"
"I am sure I don't rejoice, whatever you may do," said Belle.
"The chief difficulty, Belle," said I, "that I find in
teaching you the Armenian grammar, proceeds from your
applying to yourself and me every example I give. Rejoice,
in this instance, is merely an example of an Armenian verb of
the first conjugation, and has no more to do with your
rejoicing than lal, which is, also a verb of the first
conjugation, and which signifies to weep, would have to do
with your weeping, provided I made you conjugate it. Come
along; hntam, I rejoice; hntas, thou rejoicest; hnta, he
rejoices; hntamk we rejoice: now, repeat those words."
"I can't," said Belle, "they sound more like the language of
horses than human beings. Do you take me for - ?" "For
what?" said I. Belle was silent. "Were you going to say
mare?" said I. "Mare! mare! by the bye, do you know, Belle,
that mare in old English stands for woman; and that when we
call a female an evil mare, the strict meaning of the term is
merely a bad woman. So if I were to call you a mare without
prefixing bad, you must not be offended." "But I should
though," said Belle. "I was merely attempting to make you
acquainted with a philological fact," said I. "If mare,
which in old English, and likewise in vulgar English,
signifies a woman, sounds the same as mare, which in modern
and polite English signifies a female horse, I can't help it.
There is no such confusion of sounds in Armenian, not, at
least, in the same instance. Belle, in Armenian, woman is
ghin, the same word, by the by, as our queen, whereas mare is
madagh tzi, which signifies a female horse; and perhaps you
will permit me to add, that a hard-mouthed jade is, in
Armenian, madagh tzi hsdierah."
"I can't bear this much longer," said Belle. "Keep yourself
quiet," said I; "I wish to be gentle with you; and to
convince you, we will skip hntal, and also for the present
verbs of the first conjugation and proceed to the second.
Belle, I will now select for you to conjugate the prettiest
verb in Armenian; not only of the second, but also of all the
four conjugations; that verb is siriel. Here is the present
tense:- siriem, siries, sire, siriemk, sirek, sirien. You
observe that it runs on just in the same manner as hntal,
save and except that the e is substituted for a; and it will
be as well to tell you that almost the only difference
between the second, third, and fourth conjugation, and the
first, is the substituting in the present, preterite and
other tenses e or ou, or i for a; so you see that the
Armenian verbs are by no means difficult. Come on, Belle,
and say siriem." Belle hesitated. "Pray oblige me, Belle,
by saying siriem!" Belle still appeared to hesitate. "You
must admit, Belle, that it is much softer than hntam." "It
is so," said Belle; "and to oblige you I will say siriem."
"Very well indeed, Belle," said I. "No vartabied, or doctor,
could have pronounced it better; and now, to show you how
verbs act upon pronouns in Armenian, I will say siriem zkiez.
Please to repeat siriem zkiez!" "Siriem zkiez!" said Belle;
"that last word is very hard to say." "Sorry that you think
so, Belle," said I. "Now please to say siria zis." Belle
did so. "Exceedingly well," said I. "Now say, yerani the
sireir zis." "Yerani the sireir zis," said Belle.
"Capital!" said I; "you have now said, I love you - love me -
ah! would that you would love me!"
"And I have said all these things?" said Belle. "Yes," said
I; "you have said them in Armenian." "I would have said them
in no language that I understood," said Belle; "and it was
very wrong of you to take advantage of my ignorance, and make
me say such things." "Why so?" said I; "if you said them, I
said them too." "You did so," said Belle; "but I believe you
were merely bantering and jeering." "As I told you before,
Belle," said I, "the chief difficulty which I find in
teaching you Armenian proceeds from your persisting in
applying to yourself and me every example I give." "Then you
meant nothing after all," said Belle, raising her voice.
"Let us proceed," said I; "sirietsi, I loved." "You never
loved any one but yourself," said Belle; "and what's more - "
"Sirietsits, I will love," said I; "sirietsies, thou wilt
love." "Never one so thoroughly heartless," said Belle. "I
tell you what, Belle, you are becoming intolerable, but we
will change the verb; or rather I will now proceed to tell
you here, that some of the Armenian conjugations have their
anomalies; one species of these I wish to bring before your
notice. As old Villotte says - from whose work I first
contrived to pick up the rudiments of Armenian - 'Est
verborum transitivorum, quorum infinitivus - ' but I forgot,
you don't understand Latin. He says there are certain
transitive verbs, whose infinitive is in outsaniel; the
preterite in outsi; the imperative in one; for example -
parghatsout-saniem, I irritate - "
"You do, you do," said Belle; "and it will be better for both
of us, if you leave off doing so."
"You would hardly believe, Belle," said I, "that the Armenian
is in some respects closely connected with the Irish, but so
it is; for example, that word parghatsout-saniem is evidently
derived from the same root as feargaim, which, in Irish, is
as much as to say I vex."
"You do, indeed," said Belle, sobbing.
"But how do you account for it?"
"O man, man!" said Belle, bursting into tears, "for what
purpose do you ask a poor ignorant girl such a question,
unless it be to vex and irritate her? If you wish to display
your learning, do so to the wise and instructed, and not to
me, who can scarcely read or write. Oh, leave off your
nonsense; yet I know you will not do so, for it is the breath
of your nostrils! I could have wished we should have parted
in kindness, but you will not permit it. I have deserved
better at your hands than such treatment. The whole time we
have kept company together in this place, I have scarcely had
one kind word from you, but the strangest - " and here the
voice of Belle was drowned in her sobs.
"I am sorry to see you take on so, dear Belle," said I. "I
really have given you no cause to be so unhappy; surely
teaching you a little Armenian was a very innocent kind of
"Yes, but you went on so long, and in such a strange way, and
made me repeat such strange examples, as you call them, that
I could not bear it."
"Why, to tell you the truth, Belle, it's just my way; and I
have dealt with you just as I would with - "
"A hard-mouthed jade," said Belle, "and you practising your
horse-witchery upon her. I have been of an unsubdued spirit,
I acknowledge, but I was always kind to you; and if you have
made me cry, it's a poor thing to boast of."
"Boast of!" said I; "a pretty thing indeed to boast of; I had
no idea of making you cry. Come, I beg your pardon; what
more can I do? Come, cheer up, Belle. You were talking of
parting; don't let us part, but depart, and that together."
"Our ways lie different," said Belle.
"I don't see why they should," said I. "Come, let us he off
to America together."
"To America together?" said Belle, looking full at me.
"Yes," said I; "where we will settle down in some forest, and
conjugate the verb siriel conjugally."
"Conjugally?" said Belle.
"Yes," said I; "as man and wife in America, air yew ghin."
"You are jesting, as usual," said Belle.
"Not I, indeed. Come, Belle, make up your mind, and let us
be off to America; and leave priests, humbug, learning, and
languages behind us."
"I don't think you are jesting," said Belle; "but I can
hardly entertain your offers; however, young man, I thank
"You had better make up your mind at once," said I, "and let
us be off. I shan't make a bad husband, I assure you.
Perhaps you think I am not worthy of you? To convince you,
Belle, that I am, I am ready to try a fall with you this
moment upon the grass. Brynhilda, the valkyrie, swore that
no one should ever marry her who could not fling her down.
Perhaps you have done the same. The man who eventually
married her, got a friend of his, who was called Sygurd, the
serpent-killer, to wrestle with her, disguising him in his
own armour. Sygurd flung her down, and won her for his
friend, though he loved her himself. I shall not use a
similar deceit, nor employ Jasper Petulengro to personate me
- so get up, Belle, and I will do my best to fling you down."
"I require no such thing of you, or anybody," said Belle;
"you are beginning to look rather wild."
"I every now and then do," said I; "come, Belle, what do you
"I will say nothing at present on the subject," said Belle,
"I must have time to consider."
"Just as you please," said I, "to-morrow I go to a fair with
Mr. Petulengro, perhaps you will consider whilst I am away.
Come, Belle, let us have some more tea. I wonder whether we
shall be able to procure tea as good as this in the American
The Dawn of Day - The Last Farewell - Departure for the Fair
- The Fine Horse - Return to the Dingle - No Isopel.
IT was about the dawn of day when I was awakened by the voice
of Mr. Petulengro shouting from the top of the dingle, and
bidding me get up. I arose instantly, and dressed myself for
the expedition to the fair. On leaving my tent, I was
surprised to observe Belle, entirely dressed, standing close
to her own little encampment. "Dear me," said I, "I little
expected to find you up so early. I suppose Jasper's call
awakened you, as it did me." "I merely lay down in my
things," said Belle, "and have not slept during the night."
"And why did you not take off your things and go to sleep?"
said I. "I did not undress," said Belle, "because I wished
to be in readiness to bid you farewell when you departed; and
as for sleeping, I could not." "Well, God bless you!" said
I, taking Belle by the hand. Belle made no answer, and I
observed that her hand was very cold. "What is the matter
with you?" said I, looking her in the face. Belle looked at
me for a moment in the eyes - and then cast down her own -
her features were very pale. "You are really unwell," said
I, "I had better not go to the fair, but stay here, and take
care of you." "No," said Belle, "pray go, I am not unwell."
"Then go to your tent," said I, "and do not endanger your
health by standing abroad in the raw morning air. God bless
you, Belle. I shall be home to-night, by which time I expect
you will have made up your mind; if not, another lesson in
Armenian, however late the hour be." I then wrung Belle's
hand, and ascended to the plain above.
I found the Romany party waiting for me, and everything in
readiness for departing. Mr. Petulengro and Tawno Chikno
were mounted on two old horses. The rest, who intended to go
to the fair, amongst whom were two or three women, were on
foot. On arriving at the extremity of the plain, I looked
towards the dingle. Isopel Berners stood at the mouth, the
beams of the early morning sun shone full on her noble face
and figure. I waved my hand towards her. She slowly lifted
up her right arm. I turned away, and never saw Isopel
Berners again.
My companions and myself proceeded on our way. In about two
hours we reached the place where the fair was to be held.
After breakfasting on bread and cheese and ale behind a
broken stone wall, we drove our animals to the fair. The
fair was a common cattle and horse fair: there was little
merriment going on, but there was no lack of business. By
about two o'clock in the afternoon, Mr. Petulengro and his
people had disposed of their animals at what they conceived
very fair prices - they were all in high spirits, and Jasper
proposed to adjourn to a public-house. As we were proceeding
to one, a very fine horse, led by a jockey, made its
appearance on the ground. Mr. Petulengro stopped short, and
looked at it stedfastly: "Fino covar dove odoy sas miro - a
fine thing were that if it were but mine!" he exclaimed. "If
you covet it," said I, "why do you not purchase it?" "We low
'Gyptians never buy animals of that description; if we did we
could never sell them, and most likely should be had up as
horse-stealers." "Then why did you say just now, 'It were a
fine thing if it were but yours?'" said I. "We 'Gyptians
always say so when we see anything that we admire. An animal
like that is not intended for a little hare like me, but for
some grand gentleman like yourself. I say, brother, do you
buy that horse!" "How should I buy the horse, you foolish
person?" said I. "Buy the horse, brother," said Mr.
Petulengro, "if you have not the money I can lend it you,
though I be of lower Egypt." "You talk nonsense," said I;
"however, I wish you would ask the man the price of it."
Mr. Petulengro, going up to the jockey, inquired the price of
the horse - the man, looking at him scornfully, made no
reply. "Young man," said I, going up to the jockey, "do me
the favour to tell me the price of that horse, as I suppose
it is to sell." The jockey, who was a surly-looking man, of
about fifty, looked at me for a moment, then, after some
hesitation, said, laconically, "Seventy." "Thank you," said
I, and turned away. "Buy that horse," said Mr. Petulengro,
coming after me; "the dook tells me that in less than three
months he will be sold for twice seventy." "I will have
nothing to do with him," said I; "besides, Jasper, I don't
like his tail. Did you observe what a mean scrubby tail he
has?" "What a fool you are, brother," said Mr. Petulengro;
"that very tail of his shows his breeding. No good bred
horse ever yet carried a fine tail - 'tis your scrubby-tailed
horses that are your out-and-outers. Did you ever hear of
Syntax, brother? That tail of his puts me in mind of Syntax.
Well, I say nothing more, have your own way - all I wonder at
is, that a horse like him was ever brought to such a fair of
dog cattle as this."
We then made the best of our way to a public-house, where we
had some refreshment. I then proposed returning to the
encampment, but Mr. Petulengro declined, and remained
drinking with his companions till about six o'clock in the
evening, when various jockeys from the fair came in. After
some conversation a jockey proposed a game of cards; and in a
little time, Mr. Petulengro and another gypsy sat down to
play a game of cards with two of the jockeys.
Though not much acquainted with cards, I soon conceived a
suspicion that the jockeys were cheating Mr. Petulengro and
his companion, I therefore called Mr. Petulengro aside, and
gave him a hint to that effect. Mr. Petulengro, however,
instead of thanking me, told me to mind my own bread and
butter, and forthwith returned to his game. I continued
watching the players for some hours. The gypsies lost
considerably, and I saw clearly that the jockeys were
cheating them most confoundedly. I therefore once more
called Mr. Petulengro aside, and told him that the jockeys
were cheating him, conjuring him to return to the encampment.
Mr. Petulengro, who was by this time somewhat the worse for
liquor, now fell into a passion, swore several oaths, and
asking me who had made me a Moses over him and his brethren,
told me to return to the encampment by myself. Incensed at
the unworthy return which my well-meant words had received, I
forthwith left the house, and having purchased a few articles
of provision, I set out for the dingle alone. It was a dark
night when I reached it, and descending I saw the glimmer of
a fire from the depths of the dingle; my heart beat with fond
anticipation of a welcome. "Isopel Berners is waiting for
me," said I, "and the first words that I shall hear from her
lips is that she has made up her mind. We shall go to
America, and be so happy together." On reaching the bottom
of the dingle, however, I saw seated near the fire, beside
which stood the kettle simmering, not Isopel Berners, but a
gypsy girl, who told me that Miss Berners when she went away
had charged her to keep up the fire, and have the kettle
boiling against my arrival. Startled at these words, I
inquired at what hour Isopel had left, and whither she was
gone, and was told that she had left the dingle, with her
cart, about two hours after I departed; but where she was
gone she, the girl, did not know. I then asked whether she
had left no message, and the girl replied that she had left
none, but had merely given directions about the kettle and
fire, putting, at the same time, six-pence into her hand.
"Very strange," thought I; then dismissing the gypsy girl I
sat down by the fire. I had no wish for tea, but sat looking
on the embers, wondering what could be the motive of the
sudden departure of Isopel. "Does she mean to return?"
thought I to myself. "Surely she means to return," Hope
replied, "or she would not have gone away without leaving any
message" - "and yet she could scarcely mean to return,"
muttered Foreboding, "or she assuredly would have left some
message with the girl." I then thought to myself what a hard
thing it would be, if, after having made up my mind to assume
the yoke of matrimony, I should be disappointed of the woman
of my choice. "Well, after all," thought I, "I can scarcely
be disappointed; if such an ugly scoundrel as Sylvester had
no difficulty in getting such a nice wife as Ursula, surely
I, who am not a tenth part so ugly, cannot fail to obtain the
hand of Isopel Berners, uncommonly fine damsel though she be.
Husbands do not grow upon hedgerows; she is merely gone after
a little business and will return to-morrow."
Comforted in some degree by these hopeful imaginings, I
retired to my tent, and went to sleep.
Gloomy Forebodings - The Postman's Mother - The Letter -
Bears and Barons - The Best of Advice.
NOTHING occurred to me of any particular moment during the
following day. Isopel Berners did not return; but Mr.
Petulengro and his companions came home from the fair early
in the morning. When I saw him, which was about midday, I
found him with his face bruised and swelled. It appeared
that, some time after I had left him, he himself perceived
that the jockeys with whom he was playing cards were cheating
him and his companion; a quarrel ensued, which terminated in
a fight between Mr. Petulengro and one of the jockeys, which
lasted some time, and in which Mr. Petulengro, though he
eventually came off victor, was considerably beaten. His
bruises, in conjunction with his pecuniary loss, which
amounted to about seven pounds, were the cause of his being
much out of humour; before night, however, he had returned to
his usual philosophic frame of mind, and, coming up to me as
I was walking about, apologized for his behaviour on the
preceding day, and assured me that he was determined, from
that time forward, never to quarrel with a friend for giving
him good advice.
Two more days passed, and still Isopel Berners did not
return. Gloomy thoughts and forebodings filled my mind.
During the day I wandered about the neighbouring roads in the
hopes of catching an early glimpse of her and her returning
vehicle; and at night lay awake, tossing about on my hard
couch, listening to the rustle of every leaf, and
occasionally thinking that I heard the sound of her wheels
upon the distant road. Once at midnight, just as I was about
to fall into unconsciousness, I suddenly started up, for I
was convinced that I heard the sound of wheels. I listened
most anxiously, and the sound of wheels striking against
stones was certainly plain enough. "She comes at last,"
thought I, and for a few moments I felt as if a mountain had
been removed from my breast; - "here she comes at last, now,
how shall I receive her? Oh," thought I, "I will receive her
rather coolly, just as if I was not particularly anxious
about her - that's the way to manage these women." The next
moment the sound became very loud, rather too loud, I
thought, to proceed from her wheels, and then by degrees
became fainter. Rushing out of my tent, I hurried up the
path to the top of the dingle, where I heard the sound
distinctly enough, but it was going from me, and evidently
proceeded from something much larger than the cart of Isopel.
I could, moreover, hear the stamping of a horse's hoof at a
lumbering trot. Those only whose hopes have been wrought up
to a high pitch, and then suddenly cast down, can imagine
what I felt at that moment; and yet when I returned to my
lonely tent, and lay down on my hard pallet, the voice of
conscience told me that the misery I was then undergoing I
had fully merited, for the unkind manner in which I had
intended to receive her, when for a brief moment I supposed
that she had returned.
It was on the morning after this affair, and the fourth, if I
forget not, from the time of Isopel's departure, that, as I
was seated on my stone at the bottom of the dingle, getting
my breakfast, I heard an unknown voice from the path above -
apparently that of a person descending - exclaim, "Here's a
strange place to bring a letter to;" and presently an old
woman, with a belt round her middle, to which was attached a
leathern bag, made her appearance, and stood before me.
"Well, if I ever!" said she, as she looked about her. "My
good gentlewoman," said I, "pray what may you please to
want?" "Gentlewoman!" said the old dame, "please to want -
well, I call that speaking civilly, at any rate. It is true,
civil words cost nothing; nevertheless, we do not always get
them. What I please to want is to deliver a letter to a
young man in this place; perhaps you be he?" "What's the
name on the letter?" said I, getting up, and going to her.
"There's no name upon it," said she, taking a letter out of
her scrip, and looking at it. "It is directed to the young
man in Mumper's Dingle." "Then it is for me, I make no
doubt," said I, stretching out my hand to take it. "Please
to pay me ninepence first," said the old woman. "However,"
said she, after a moment's thought, "civility is civility,
and, being rather a scarce article, should meet with some
return. Here's the letter, young man, and I hope you will
pay for it; for if you do not I must pay the postage myself."
"You are the postwoman, I suppose," said I, as I took the
letter. "I am the postman's mother," said the old woman;
"but as he has a wide beat, I help him as much as I can, and
I generally carry letters to places like this, to which he is
afraid to come himself." "You say the postage is ninepence,"
said I, "here's a shilling." "Well, I call that honourable,"
said the old woman, taking the shilling, and putting it into
her pocket - "here's your change, young man," said she,
offering me threepence. "Pray keep that for yourself," said
I; "you deserve it for your trouble." "Well, I call that
genteel," said the old woman; "and as one good turn deserves
another, since you look as if you couldn't read, I will read
your letter for you. Let's see it; it's from some young
woman or other, I dare say." "Thank you," said I, "but I can
read." "All the better for you," said the old woman; "your
being able to read will frequently save you a penny, for
that's the charge I generally make for reading letters;
though, as you behaved so genteelly to me, I should have
charged you nothing. Well, if you can read, why don't you
open the letter, instead of keeping it hanging between your
finger and thumb?" "I am in no hurry to open it," said I,
with a sigh. The old woman looked at me for a moment -
"Well, young man," said she, "there are some - especially
those who can read - who don't like to open their letters
when anybody is by, more especially when they come from young
women. Well, I won't intrude upon you, but leave you alone
with your letter. I wish it may contain something pleasant.
God bless you," and with these words she departed.
I sat down on my stone, with my letter in my hand. I knew
perfectly well that it could have come from no other person
than Isopel Berners; but what did the letter contain? I
guessed tolerably well what its purport was - an eternal
farewell! yet I was afraid to open the letter, lest my
expectation should be confirmed. There I sat with the
letter, putting off the evil moment as long as possible. At
length I glanced at the direction, which was written in a
fine bold hand, and was directed, as the old woman had said,
to the young man in "Mumpers' Dingle," with the addition,
near -, in the county of - Suddenly the idea occurred to me,
that, after all, the letter might not contain an eternal
farewell; and that Isopel might have written, requesting me
to join her. Could it be so? "Alas! no," presently said
Foreboding. At last I became ashamed of my weakness. The
letter must be opened sooner or later. Why not at once? So
as the bather who, for a considerable time, has stood
shivering on the bank, afraid to take the decisive plunge,
suddenly takes it, I tore open the letter almost before I was
aware. I had no sooner done so than a paper fell out. I
examined it; it contained a lock of bright flaxen hair.
"This is no good sign," said I, as I thrust the lock and
paper into my bosom, and proceeded to read the letter, which
ran as follows: -
"SIR, - I send these lines, with the hope and trust that they
will find you well, even as I am myself at this moment, and
in much better spirits, for my own are not such as I could
wish they were, being sometimes rather hysterical and
vapourish, and at other times, and most often, very low. I
am at a sea-port, and am just going on shipboard; and when
you get these I shall be on the salt waters, on my way to a
distant country, and leaving my own behind me, which I do not
expect ever to see again.
"And now, young man, I will, in the first place, say
something about the manner in which I quitted you. It must
have seemed somewhat singular to you that I went away without
taking any leave, or giving you the slightest hint that I was
going; but I did not do so without considerable reflection.
I was afraid that I should not be able to support a leavetaking;
and as you had said that you were determined to go
wherever I did, I thought it best not to tell you at all; for
I did not think it advisable that you should go with me, and
I wished to have no dispute.
"In the second place, I wish to say something about an offer
of wedlock which you made me; perhaps, young man, had you
made it at the first period of our acquaintance, I should
have accepted it, but you did not, and kept putting off and
putting off, and behaving in a very strange manner, till I
could stand your conduct no longer, but determined upon
leaving you and Old England, which last step I had been long
thinking about; so when you made your offer at last,
everything was arranged - my cart and donkey engaged to be
sold - and the greater part of my things disposed of.
However, young man, when you did make it, I frankly tell you
that I had half a mind to accept it; at last, however, after
very much consideration, I thought it best to leave you for
ever, because, for some time past, I had become almost
convinced, that though with a wonderful deal of learning, and
exceedingly shrewd in some things, you were - pray don't be
offended - at the root mad! and though mad people, I have
been told, sometimes make very good husbands, I was unwilling
that your friends, if you had any, should say that Belle
Berners, the workhouse girl, took advantage of your
infirmity; for there is no concealing that I was born and
bred up in a workhouse; notwithstanding that, my blood is
better than your own, and as good as the best; you having
yourself told me that my name is a noble name, and once, if I
mistake not, that it was the same word as baron, which is the
same thing as bear; and that to be called in old times a bear
was considered a great compliment - the bear being a mighty
strong animal, on which account our forefathers called all
their great fighting-men barons, which is the same as bears.
"However, setting matters of blood and family entirely aside,
many thanks to you, young man, from poor Belle, for the
honour you did her in making that same offer; for, after all,
it is an honour to receive an honourable offer, which she
could see clearly yours was, with no floriness nor chaff in
it; but, on the contrary, entire sincerity. She assures you
that she shall always bear it and yourself in mind, whether
on land or water; and as a proof of the good-will she bears
to you, she sends you a lock of the hair which she wears on
her head, which you were often looking at, and were pleased
to call flax, which word she supposes you meant as a
compliment, even as the old people meant to pass a compliment
to their great folks, when they called them bears; though she
cannot help thinking that they might have found an animal as
strong as a bear, and somewhat less uncouth, to call their
great folks after: even as she thinks yourself, amongst your
great store of words, might have found something a little
more genteel to call her hair after than flax, which, though
strong and useful, is rather a coarse and common kind of
"And as another proof of the good-will she bears to you, she
sends you, along with the lock, a piece of advice, which is
worth all the hair in the world, to say nothing of the flax.
"FEAR GOD, and take your own part. There's Bible in that,
young man: see how Moses feared God, and how he took his own
part against everybody who meddled with him. And see how
David feared God, and took his own part against all the
bloody enemies which surrounded him - so fear God, young man,
and never give in! The world can bully, and is fond,
provided it sees a man in a kind of difficulty, of getting
about him, calling him coarse names, and even going so far as
to hustle him: but the world, like all bullies, carries a
white feather in its tail, and no sooner sees the man taking
off his coat, and offering to fight its best, than it
scatters here and there, and is always civil to him
afterwards. So when folks are disposed to ill-treat you,
young man, say, 'Lord have mercy upon me!' and then tip them
to Long Melford, which, as the saying goes, there is nothing
comparable for shortness all the world over; and these last
words, young man, are the last you will ever have from her
who is nevertheless,
Your affectionate female servant,
After reading the letter I sat for some time motionless,
holding it in my hand. The daydream in which I had been a
little time before indulging, of marrying Isopel Berners, of
going with her to America, and having by her a large progeny,
who were to assist me in felling trees, cultivating the soil,
and who would take care of me when I was old, was now
thoroughly dispelled. Isopel had deserted me, and was gone
to America by herself, where, perhaps, she would marry some
other person, and would bear him a progeny, who would do for
him what in my dream I had hoped my progeny by her would do
for me. Then the thought came into my head that though she
was gone, I might follow her to America, but then I thought
that if I did I might not find her; America was a very large
place, and I did not know the port to which she was bound;
but I could follow her to the port from which she had sailed,
and there possibly discover the port to which she was bound;
but I did not even know the port from which she had set out,
for Isopel had not dated her letter from any place. Suddenly
it occurred to me that the post-mark on the letter would tell
me from whence it came, so I forthwith looked at the back of
the letter, and in the post-mark read the name of a wellknown
and not very distant sea-port. I then knew with
tolerable certainty the port where she had embarked, and I
almost determined to follow her, but I almost instantly
determined to do no such thing. Isopel Berners had abandoned
me, and I would not follow her; "Perhaps," whispered Pride,
"if I overtook her, she would only despise me for running
after her;" and it also told me pretty roundly, provided I
ran after her, whether I overtook her or not, I should
heartily despise myself. So I determined not to follow
Isopel Berners; I took her lock of hair, and looked at it,
then put it in her letter, which I folded up and carefully
stowed away, resolved to keep both for ever, but I determined
not to follow her. Two or three times, however, during the
day, I wavered in my determination, and was again and again
almost tempted to follow her, but every succeeding time the
temptation was fainter. In the evening I left the dingle,
and sat down with Mr. Petulengro and his family by the door
of his tent; Mr. Petulengro soon began talking of the letter
which I had received in the morning. "Is it not from Miss
Berners, brother?" said he. I told him it was. "Is she
coming back, brother?" "Never," said I; "she is gone to
America, and has deserted me." "I always knew that you two
were never destined for each other," said he. "How did you
know that?" I inquired. "The dook told me so, brother; you
are born to be a great traveller." "Well," said I, "if I had
gone with her to America, as I was thinking of doing, I
should have been a great traveller." "You are to travel in
another direction, brother," said he. "I wish you would tell
me all about my future wanderings," said I. "I can't,
brother," said Mr. Petulengro, "there's a power of clouds
before my eye." "You are a poor seer, after all," said I;
and getting up, I retired to my dingle and my tent, where I
betook myself to my bed, and there, knowing the worst, and
being no longer agitated by apprehension, nor agonized by
expectation, I was soon buried in a deep slumber, the first
which I had fallen into for several nights.
The Public-house - Landlord on His Legs Again - A Blow in
Season - The Way of the World - The Grateful Mind - The
Horse's Neigh.
IT was rather late on the following morning when I awoke. At
first I was almost unconscious of what had occurred on the
preceding day; recollection, however, by degrees returned,
and I felt a deep melancholy coming over me, but perfectly
aware that no advantage could be derived from the indulgence
of such a feeling, I sprang up, prepared my breakfast, which
I ate with a tolerable appetite, and then left the dingle,
and betook myself to the gypsy encampment, where I entered
into discourse with various Romanies, both male and female.
After some time, feeling myself in better spirits, I
determined to pay another visit to the landlord of the
public-house. From the position of his affairs when I had
last visited him I entertained rather gloomy ideas with
respect to his present circumstances. I imagined that I
should either find him alone in his kitchen smoking a
wretched pipe, or in company with some surly bailiff or his
follower, whom his friend the brewer had sent into the house
in order to take possession of his effects.
Nothing more entirely differing from either of these
anticipations could have presented itself to my view than
what I saw about one o'clock in the afternoon, when I entered
the house. I had come, though somewhat in want of
consolation myself, to offer any consolation which was at my
command to my acquaintance Catchpole, and perhaps like many
other people who go to a house with "drops of compassion
trembling on their eyelids," I felt rather disappointed at
finding that no compassion was necessary. The house was
thronged with company, and cries for ale and porter, hot
brandy and water, cold gin and water, were numerous;
moreover, no desire to receive and not to pay for the
landlord's liquids was manifested - on the contrary,
everybody seemed disposed to play the most honourable part:
"Landlord, here's the money for this glass of brandy and
water - do me the favour to take it; all right, remember I
have paid you." "Landlord, here's the money for the pint of
half-and-half-fourpence halfpenny, ain't it? - here's
sixpence; keep the change - confound the change!" The
landlord, assisted by his niece, bustled about; his brow
erect, his cheeks plumped out, and all his features
exhibiting a kind of surly satisfaction. Wherever he moved,
marks of the most cordial amity were shown him, hands were
thrust out to grasp his, nor were looks of respect,
admiration, nay, almost of adoration, wanting. I observed
one fellow, as the landlord advanced, take the pipe out of
his mouth, and gaze upon him with a kind of grin of wonder,
probably much the same as his ancestor, the Saxon lout of
old, put on when he saw his idol Thur, dressed in a new
kirtle. To avoid the press, I got into a corner, where on a
couple of chairs sat two respectable-looking individuals,
whether farmers or sow-gelders, I know not, but highly
respectable-looking, who were discoursing about the landlord.
"Such another," said one, "you will not find in a summer's
day." "No, nor in the whole of England," said the other.
"Tom of Hopton," said the first: "ah! Tom of Hopton," echoed
the other; "the man who could beat Tom of Hopton could beat
the world." "I glory in him," said the first. "So do I,"
said the second, "I'll back him against the world. Let me
hear any one say anything against him, and if I don't - "
then, looking at me, he added, "have you anything to say
against him, young man?" "Not a word," said I, "save that he
regularly puts me out." "He'll put any one out," said the
man, "any one out of conceit with himself;" then, lifting a
mug to his mouth, he added, with a hiccough, "I drink his
health." Presently the landlord, as he moved about,
observing me, stopped short: "Ah!" said he, "are you here? I
am glad to see you, come this way. Stand back," said he to
his company, as I followed him to the bar, "stand back for me
and this gentleman." Two or three young fellows were in the
bar, seemingly sporting yokels, drinking sherry and smoking.
"Come, gentlemen," said the landlord, "clear the bar, I must
have a clear bar for me and my friend here." "Landlord, what
will you take," said one, "a glass of sherry? I know you
like it." "- sherry and you too," said the landlord, "I want
neither sherry nor yourself; didn't you hear what I told
you?" "All right, old fellow," said the other, shaking the
landlord by the hand, "all right, don't wish to intrude - but
I suppose when you and your friend have done, I may come in
again;" then, with a "sarvant, sir," to me, he took himself
into the kitchen, followed by the rest of the sporting
Thereupon the landlord, taking a bottle of ale from a basket,
uncorked it, and pouring the contents into two large glasses,
handed me one, and motioning me to sit down, placed himself
by me; then, emptying his own glass at a draught, he gave a
kind of grunt of satisfaction, and fixing his eyes upon the
opposite side of the bar, remained motionless, without saying
a word, buried apparently in important cogitations. With
respect to myself, I swallowed my ale more leisurely, and was
about to address my friend, when his niece, coming into the
bar, said that more and more customers were arriving, and how
she should supply their wants she did not know, unless her
uncle would get and help her.
"The customers!" said the landlord, "let the scoundrels wait
till you have time to serve them, or till I have leisure to
see after them." "The kitchen won't contain half of them,"
said his niece. "Then let them sit out abroad," said the
landlord. "But there are not benches enough, uncle," said
the niece. "Then let them stand or sit on the ground," said
the uncle, "what care I; I'll let them know that the man who
beat Tom of Hopton stands as well again on his legs as ever."
Then opening a side door which led from the bar into the back
yard, he beckoned me to follow him. "You treat your
customers in rather a cavalier manner," said I, when we were
alone together in the yard.
"Don't I?" said the landlord; "and I'll treat them more so
yet; now I have got the whiphand of the rascals I intend to
keep it. I dare say you are a bit surprised with regard to
the change which has come over things since you were last
here. I'll tell you how it happened. You remember in what a
desperate condition you found me, thinking of changing my
religion, selling my soul to the man in black, and then going
and hanging myself like Pontius Pilate; and I dare say you
can't have forgotten how you gave me good advice, made me
drink ale, and give up sherry. Well, after you were gone, I
felt all the better for your talk, and what you had made me
drink, and it was a mercy that I did feel better; for my
niece was gone out, poor thing, and I was left alone in the
house, without a soul to look at, or to keep me from doing
myself a mischief in case I was so inclined. Well, things
wore on in this way till it grew dusk, when in came that
blackguard Hunter with his train to drink at my expense, and
to insult me as usual; there were more than a dozen of them,
and a pretty set they looked. Well, they ordered about in a
very free and easy manner for upwards of an hour and a half,
occasionally sneering and jeering at me, as they had been in
the habit of doing for some time past; so, as I said before,
things wore on, and other customers came in, who, though they
did not belong to Hunter's gang, also passed off their jokes
upon me; for, as you perhaps know, we English are a set of
low hounds, who will always take part with the many by way of
making ourselves safe, and currying favour with the stronger
side. I said little or nothing, for my spirits had again
become very low, and I was verily scared and afraid. All of
a sudden I thought of the ale which I had drank in the
morning, and of the good it did me then, so I went into the
bar, opened another bottle, took a glass, and felt better; so
I took another, and feeling better still, I went back into
the kitchen, just as Hunter and his crew were about leaving.
'Mr. Hunter,' said I, 'you and your people will please to pay
me for what you have had?' 'What do you mean by my people?'
said he, with an oath. 'Ah, what do you mean by calling us
his people?' said the clan. 'We are nobody's people;' and
then there was a pretty load of abuse, and threatening to
serve me out. 'Well,' said I, 'I was perhaps wrong to call
them your people, and beg your pardon and theirs. And now
you will please to pay me for what you have had yourself, and
afterwards I can settle with them.' 'I shall pay you when I
think fit,' said Hunter. 'Yes,' said the rest, 'and so shall
we. We shall pay you when we think fit.' 'I tell you what,'
said Hunter, 'I conceives I do such an old fool as you an
honour when I comes into his house and drinks his beer, and
goes away without paying for it;' and then there was a roar
of laughter from everybody, and almost all said the same
thing. 'Now do you please to pay me, Mr. Hunter?' said I.
'Pay you!' said Hunter; 'pay you! Yes, here's the pay;' and
thereupon he held out his thumb, twirling it round till it
just touched my nose. I can't tell you what I felt that
moment; a kind of madhouse thrill came upon me, and all I
know is, that I bent back as far as I could, then lunging
out, struck him under the ear, sending him reeling two or
three yards, when he fell on the floor. I wish you had but
seen how my company looked at me and at each other. One or
two of the clan went to raise Hunter, and get him to fight,
but it was no go; though he was not killed, he had had enough
for that evening. Oh, I wish you had seen my customers;
those who did not belong to the clan, but who had taken part
with them, and helped to jeer and flout me, now came and
shook me by the hand, wishing me joy, and saying as, how 'I
was a brave fellow, and had served the bully right!' As for
the clan, they all said Hunter was bound to do me justice; so
they made him pay me what he owed for himself, and the
reckoning of those among them who said they had no money.
Two or three of them then led him away, while the rest stayed
behind, and flattered me, and worshipped me, and called
Hunter all kinds of dogs' names. What do you think of that?"
"Why," said I, "it makes good what I read in a letter which I
received yesterday. It is just the way of the world."
"A'n't it," said the landlord. "Well, that a'n't all; let me
go on. Good fortune never yet came alone. In about an hour
comes home my poor niece, almost in high sterricks with joy,
smiling and sobbing. She had been to the clergyman of M-,
the great preacher, to whose church she was in the habit of
going, and to whose daughters she was well known; and to him
she told a lamentable tale about my distresses, and about the
snares which had been laid for my soul; and so well did she
plead my cause, and so strong did the young ladies back all
she said, that the good clergyman promised to stand my
friend, and to lend me sufficient money to satisfy the
brewer, and to get my soul out of the snares of the man in
black; and sure enough the next morning the two young ladies
brought me the fifty pounds, which I forthwith carried to the
brewer, who was monstrously civil, saying that he hoped any
little misunderstanding we had had would not prevent our
being good friends in future. That a'n't all; the people of
the neighbouring county hearing as if by art witchcraft that
I had licked Hunter, and was on good terms with the brewer,
forthwith began to come in crowds to look at me, pay me
homage, and be my customers. Moreover, fifty scoundrels who
owed me money, and would have seen me starve rather than help
me as long as they considered me a down pin, remembered their
debts, and came and paid me more than they owed. That a'n't
all; the brewer being about to establish a stage-coach and
three, to run across the country, says it shall stop and
change horses at my house, and the passengers breakfast and
sup as it goes and returns. He wishes me - whom he calls the
best man in England - to give his son lessons in boxing,
which he says he considers a fine manly English art, and a
great defence against Popery - notwithstanding that only a
month ago, when he considered me a down pin, he was in the
habit of railing against it as a blackguard practice, and
against me as a blackguard for following it; so I am going to
commence with young hopeful to-morrow."
"I really cannot help congratulating you on your good
fortune," said I.
"That a'n't all," said the landlord. "This very morning the
folks of our parish made me churchwarden, which they would no
more have done a month ago, when they considered me a down
pin, than they - "
"Mercy upon us!" said I, "if fortune pours in upon you in
this manner, who knows but that within a year they may make
you a justice of the peace?"
"Who knows, indeed!" said the landlord. "Well, I will prove
myself worthy of my good luck by showing the grateful mind -
not to those who would be kind to me now, but to those who
were, when the days were rather gloomy. My customers shall
have abundance of rough language, but I'll knock any one down
who says anything against the clergyman who lent me the fifty
pounds, or against the Church of England, of which he is
parson and I am churchwarden. I am also ready to do anything
in reason for him who paid me for the ale he drank, when I
shouldn't have had the heart to collar him for the money had
he refused to pay; who never jeered or flouted me like the
rest of my customers when I was a down pin - and though he
refused to fight cross FOR me was never cross WITH me, but
listened to all I had to say, and gave me all kinds of good
advice. Now who do you think I mean by this last? why, who
but yourself - who on earth but yourself? The parson is a
good man and a great preacher, and I'll knock anybody down
who says to the contrary; and I mention him first, because
why; he's a gentleman, and you a tinker. But I am by no
means sure you are not the best friend of the two; for I
doubt, do you see, whether I should have had the fifty pounds
but for you. You persuaded me to give up that silly drink
they call sherry, and drink ale; and what was it but drinking
ale which gave me courage to knock down that fellow Hunter -
and knocking him down was, I verily believe, the turning
point of my disorder. God don't love them who won't strike
out for themselves; and as far as I can calculate with
respect to time, it was just the moment after I had knocked
down Hunter, that the parson consented to lend me the money,
and everything began to grow civil to me. So, dash my
buttons if I show the ungrateful mind to you! I don't offer
to knock anybody down for you, because why - I dare say you
can knock a body down yourself; but I'll offer something more
to the purpose; as my business is wonderfully on the
increase, I shall want somebody to help me in serving my
customers, and keeping them in order. If you choose to come
and serve for your board, and what they'll give you, give me
your fist; or if you like ten shillings a week better than
their sixpences and ha'pence, only say so - though, to be
open with you, I believe you would make twice ten shillings
out of them - the sneaking, fawning, curry-favouring
"I am much obliged to you," said I, "for your handsome offer,
which, however, I am obliged to decline."
"Why so?" said the landlord.
"I am not fit for service," said I; "moreover, I am about to
leave this part of the country." As I spoke a horse neighed
in the stable. "What horse is that?" said I.
"It belongs to a cousin of mine, who put it into my hands
yesterday in the hopes that I might get rid of it for him,
though he would no more have done so a week ago, when he
considered me a down pin, than he would have given the horse
away. Are you fond of horses?"
"Very much," said I.
"Then come and look at it." He led me into the stable,
where, in a stall, stood a noble-looking animal.
"Dear me," said I, "I saw this horse at - fair."
"Like enough," said the landlord; "he was there and was
offered for seventy pounds, but didn't find a bidder at any
price. What do you think of him?"
"He's a splendid creature."
"I am no judge of horses," said the landlord; "but I am told
he's a firstrate trotter, good leaper, and has some of the
blood of Syntax. What does all that signify? - the game is
against his master, who is a down pin, is thinking of
emigrating, and wants money confoundedly. He asked seventy
pounds at the fair; but, between ourselves, he would be glad
to take fifty here."
"I almost wish," said I, "that I were a rich squire."
"You would buy him then," said the landlord. Here he mused
for some time, with a very profound look. "It would be a rum
thing," said he, "if, some time or other, that horse should
come into your hands. Didn't you hear how he neighed when
you talked about leaving the country? My granny was a wise
woman, and was up to all kinds of signs and wonders, sounds
and noises, the interpretation of the language of birds and
animals, crowing and lowing, neighing and braying. If she
had been here, she would have said at once that that horse
was fated to carry you away. On that point, however, I can
say nothing, for under fifty pounds no one can have him. Are
you taking that money out of your pocket to pay me for the
ale? That won't do; nothing to pay; I invited you this time.
Now if you are going, you had best get into the road through
the yard-gate. I won't trouble you to make your way through
the kitchen and my fine-weather company - confound them!"
Mr. Petulengro's Device - The Leathern Purse - Consent to
Purchase a Horse.
AS I returned along the road I met Mr. Petulengro and one of
his companions, who told me that they were bound for the
public-house; whereupon I informed Jasper how I had seen in
the stable the horse which we had admired at the fair. "I
shouldn't wonder if you buy that horse after all, brother,"
said Mr. Petulengro. With a smile at the absurdity of such a
supposition, I left him and his companion, and betook myself
to the dingle. In the evening I received a visit from Mr.
Petulengro, who forthwith commenced talking about the horse,
which he had again seen, the landlord having shown it to him
on learning that he was a friend of mine. He told me that
the horse pleased him more than ever, he having examined his
points with more accuracy than he had an opportunity of doing
on the first occasion, concluding by pressing me to buy him.
I begged him to desist from such foolish importunity,
assuring him that I had never so much money in all my life as
would enable me to purchase the horse. Whilst this discourse
was going on, Mr. Petulengro and myself were standing
together in the midst of the dingle. Suddenly he began to
move round me - in a very singular manner, making strange
motions with his hands, and frightful contortions with his
features, till I became alarmed, and asked him whether he had
not lost his senses? Whereupon, ceasing his movements and
contortions, he assured me that he had not, but had merely
been seized with a slight dizziness, and then once more
returned to the subject of the horse. Feeling myself very
angry, I told him that if he continued persecuting me in that
manner, I should be obliged to quarrel with him; adding, that
I believed his only motive for asking me to buy the animal
was to insult my poverty. "Pretty poverty," said he, "with
fifty pounds in your pocket; however, I have heard say that
it is always the custom of your rich people to talk of their
poverty, more especially when they wish to avoid laying out
money." Surprised at his saying that I had fifty pounds in
my pocket, I asked him what he meant; whereupon he told me
that he was very sure that I had fifty pounds in my pocket,
offering to lay me five shillings to that effect. "Done!"
said I; "I have scarcely more than the fifth part of what you
say." "I know better, brother," said Mr. Petulengro; "if you
only pull out what you have in the pocket of your slop, I am
sure you will have lost your wager." Putting my hand into
the pocket, I felt something which I had never felt there
before, and pulling it out, perceived that it was a clumsy
leathern purse, which I found on opening contained four tenpound-
notes, and several pieces of gold. "Didn't I tell you
so, brother?" said Mr. Petulengro. "Now, in the first place,
please to pay me the five shillings you have lost." "This is
only a foolish piece of pleasantry," said I; "you put it into
my pocket whilst you were moving about me, making faces like
a distracted person. Here, take your purse back." "I?" said
Mr. Petulengro, "not I, indeed I don't think I am such a
fool. I have won my wager, so pay me the five shillings,
brother." "Do drop this folly," said I, "and take your
purse;" and I flung it on the ground. "Brother," said Mr.
Petulengro, "you were talking of quarrelling with me just
now. I tell you now one thing, which is, that if you do not
take back the purse I will quarrel with you; and it shall be
for good and all. I'll drop your acquaintance, no longer
call you my pal, and not even say sarshan to you when I meet
you by the roadside. Hir mi diblis I never will." I saw by
Jasper's look and tone that he was in earnest, and, as I had
really a regard for the strange being, I scarcely knew what
to do. "Now, be persuaded, brother," said Mr. Petulengro,
taking up the purse, and handing it to me; "be persuaded; put
the purse into your pocket, and buy the horse." "Well," said
I, "if I did so, would you acknowledge the horse to be yours,
and receive the money again as soon as I should be able to
repay you?"
"I would, brother, I would," said he; "return me the money as
soon as you please, provided you buy the horse." "What
motive have you for wishing me to buy that horse?" said I.
"He's to be sold for fifty pounds," said Jasper, "and is
worth four times that sum; though, like many a splendid
bargain, he is now going a begging; buy him, and I'm
confident that, in a little time, a grand gentleman of your
appearance may have anything he asks for him, and found a
fortune by his means. Moreover, brother, I want to dispose
of this fifty pounds in a safe manner. If you don't take it,
I shall fool it away in no time, perhaps at card-playing, for
you saw how I was cheated by those blackguard jockeys the
other day - we gyptians don't know how to take care of money:
our best plan when we have got a handful of guineas is to
make buttons with them; but I have plenty of golden buttons,
and don't wish to be troubled with more, so you can do me no
greater favour than vesting the money in this speculation, by
which my mind will be relieved of considerable care and
trouble for some time at least."
Perceiving that I still hesitated, he said, "Perhaps,
brother, you think I did not come honestly by the money: by
the honestest manner in the world, for it is the money I
earnt by fighting in the ring: I did not steal it, brother,
nor did I get it by disposing of spavined donkeys, or
glandered ponies - nor is it, brother, the profits of my
wife's witchcraft and dukkerin."
"But," said I, "you had better employ it in your traffic."
"I have plenty of money for my traffic, independent of this
capital," said Mr. Petulengro; "ay, brother, and enough
besides to back the husband of my wife's sister, Sylvester,
against Slammocks of the Chong gav for twenty pounds, which I
am thinking of doing."
"But," said I, "after all, the horse may have found another
purchaser by this time." "Not he," said Mr. Petulengro,
"there is nobody in this neighbourhood to purchase a horse
like that, unless it be your lordship - so take the money,
brother," and he thrust the purse into my hand. Allowing
myself to be persuaded, I kept possession of the purse. "Are
you satisfied now?" said I. "By no means, brother," said Mr.
Petulengro, "you will please to pay me the five shillings
which you lost to me." "Why," said I, "the fifty pounds
which I found in my pocket were not mine, but put in by
yourself." "That's nothing to do with the matter, brother,"
said Mr. Petulengro, "I betted you five shillings that you
had fifty pounds in your pocket, which sum you had: I did not
say that they were your own, but merely that you had fifty
pounds; you will therefore pay me, brother, or I shall not
consider you an honourable man." Not wishing to have any
dispute about such a matter, I took five shillings out of my
under pocket, and gave them to him. Mr. Petulengro took the
money with great glee, observing - "These five shillings I
will take to the public-house forthwith, and spend in
drinking with four of my brethren, and doing so will give me
an opportunity of telling the landlord that I have found a
customer for his horse, and that you are the man. It will be
as well to secure the horse as soon as possible; for though
the dook tells me that the horse is intended for you, I have
now and then found that the dock is, like myself, somewhat
given to lying."
He then departed, and I remained alone in the dingle. I
thought at first that I had committed a great piece of folly
in consenting to purchase this horse; I might find no
desirable purchaser for him, until the money in my possession
should be totally exhausted, and then I might be compelled to
sell him for half the price I had given for him, or be even
glad to find a person who would receive him at a gift; I
should then remain sans horse, and indebted to Mr.
Petulengro. Nevertheless, it was possible that I might sell
the horse very advantageously, and by so doing obtain a fund
sufficient to enable me to execute some grand enterprise or
other. My present way of life afforded no prospect of
support, whereas the purchase of the horse did afford a
possibility of bettering my condition, so, after all, had I
not done right in consenting to purchase the horse? the
purchase was to be made with another person's property, it is
true, and I did not exactly like the idea of speculating with
another person's property, but Mr. Petulengro had thrust his
money upon me, and if I lost his money, he could have no one
but himself to blame; so I persuaded myself that I had, upon
the whole, done right, and having come to that persuasion, I
soon began to enjoy the idea of finding myself on horseback
again, and figured to myself all kinds of strange adventures
which I should meet with on the roads before the horse and I
should part company.
Trying the Horse - The Feats of Tawno - Man with the Red
Waist-coat - Disposal of Property.
I SAW nothing more of Mr. Petulengro that evening - on the
morrow, however, he came and informed me that he had secured
the horse for me, and that I was to go and pay for it at
noon. At the hour appointed, therefore, I went with Mr.
Petulengro and Tawno to the public, where, as before, there
was a crowd of company. The landlord received us in the bar
with marks of much satisfaction and esteem, made us sit down,
and treated us with some excellent mild draught ale. "Who do
you think has been here this morning?" he said to me, "why,
that fellow in black, who came to carry me off to a house of
Popish devotion, where I was to pass seven days and nights in
meditation, as I think he called it, before I publicly
renounced the religion of my country. I read him a pretty
lecture, calling him several unhandsome names, and asking him
what he meant by attempting to seduce a church-warden of the
Church of England. I tell you what, he ran some danger; for
some of my customers, learning his errand, laid hold on him,
and were about to toss him in a blanket, and then duck him in
the horse-pond. I, however, interfered, and said, 'that what
he came about was between me and him, and that it was no
business of theirs.' To tell you the truth, I felt pity for
the poor devil, more especially when I considered that they
merely sided against him because they thought him the
weakest, and that they would have wanted to serve me in the
same manner had they considered me a down pin; so I rescued
him from their hands, told him not to be afraid, for that
nobody should touch him, and offered to treat him to some
cold gin and water with a lump of sugar in it; and on his
refusing, told him that he had better make himself scarce,
which he did, and I hope I shall never see him again. So I
suppose you are come for the horse; mercy upon us! who would
have thought you would have become the purchaser? The horse,
however, seemed to know it by his neighing. How did you ever
come by the money? however, that's no matter of mine. I
suppose you are strongly backed by certain friends you have."
I informed the landlord that he was right in supposing that I
came for the horse, but that, before I paid for him, I should
wish to prove his capabilities. "With all my heart," said
the landlord. "You shall mount him this moment." Then going
into the stable, he saddled and bridled the horse, and
presently brought him out before the door. I mounted him,
Mr. Petulengro putting a heavy whip into my hand, and saying
a few words to me in his own mysterious language. "The horse
wants no whip," said the landlord. "Hold your tongue,
daddy," said Mr. Petulengro. "My pal knows quite well what
to do with the whip, he's not going to beat the horse with
it." About four hundred yards from the house there was a
hill, to the foot of which the road ran almost on a perfect
level; towards the foot of this hill I trotted the horse, who
set off at a long, swift pace, seemingly at the rate of about
sixteen miles an hour. On reaching the foot of the hill, I
wheeled the animal round, and trotted him towards the house -
the horse sped faster than before. Ere he had advanced a
hundred yards, I took off my hat, in obedience to the advice
which Mr. Petulengro had given me, in his own language, and
holding it over the horse's head commenced drumming on the
crown with the knob of the whip; the horse gave a slight
start, but instantly recovering himself, continued his trot
till he arrived at the door of the public-house, amidst the
acclamations of the company, who had all rushed out of the
house to be spectators of what was going on. "I see now what
you wanted the whip for," said the landlord, "and sure
enough, that drumming on your hat was no bad way of learning
whether the horse was quiet or not. Well, did you ever see a
more quiet horse, or a better trotter?" "My cob shall trot
against him," said a fellow, dressed in velveteen, mounted on
a low powerful-looking animal. "My cob shall trot against
him to the hill and back again - come on!" We both started;
the cob kept up gallantly against the horse for about half
way to the hill, when he began to lose ground; at the foot of
the hill he was about fifteen yards behind. Whereupon I
turned slowly and waited for him. We then set off towards
the house, but now the cob had no chance, being at least
twenty yards behind when I reached the door. This running of
the horse, the wild uncouth forms around me, and the ale and
beer which were being guzzled from pots and flagons, put me
wonderfully in mind of the ancient horse-races of the heathen
north. I almost imagined myself Gunnar of Hlitharend at the
race of -
"Are you satisfied?" said the landlord. "Didn't you tell me
that he could leap?" I demanded. "I am told he can," said
the landlord; "but I can't consent that he should be tried in
that way, as he might be damaged." "That's right!" said Mr.
Petulengro, "don't trust my pal to leap that horse, he'll
merely fling him down, and break his neck and his own.
There's a better man than he close by; let him get on his
back and leap him." "You mean yourself, I suppose," said the
landlord. "Well, I call that talking modestly, and nothing
becomes a young man more than modesty." "It a'n't I, daddy,"
said Mr. Petulengro. "Here's the man," said he, pointing to
Tawno. "Here's the horse-leaper of the world!" "You mean
the horse-back breaker," said the landlord. "That big fellow
would break down my cousin's horse." "Why, he weighs only
sixteen stone," said Mr. Petulengro. "And his sixteen stone,
with his way of handling a horse, does not press so much as
any other one's thirteen. Only let him get on the horse's
back, and you'll see what he can do!" "No," said the
landlord, "it won't do." Whereupon Mr. Petulengro became very
much excited; and pulling out a handful of money, said, "I'll
tell you what, I'll forfeit these guineas, if my black pal
there does the horse any kind of damage; duck me in the
horse-pond if I don't." "Well," said the landlord, "for the
sport of the thing I consent, so let your white pal get down,
and our black pal mount as soon as he pleases." I felt
rather mortified at Mr. Petulengro's interference; and showed
no disposition to quit my seat; whereupon he came up to me
and said, "Now, brother, do get out of the saddle - you are
no bad hand at trotting, I am willing to acknowledge that;
but at leaping a horse there is no one like Tawno. Let every
dog be praised for his own gift. You have been showing off
in your line for the last half-hour; now do give Tawno a
chance of exhibiting a little; poor fellow, he hasn't often a
chance of exhibiting, as his wife keeps him so much out of
sight." Not wishing to appear desirous of engrossing the
public attention, and feeling rather desirous to see how
Tawno, of whose exploits in leaping horses I had frequently
heard, would acquit himself in the affair, I at length
dismounted, and Tawno, at a bound, leaped into the saddle,
where he really looked like Gunnar of Hlitharend, save and
except the complexion of Gunnar was florid, whereas that of
Tawno was of nearly Mulatto darkness; and that all Tawno's
features were cast in the Grecian model, whereas Gunnar had a
snub nose. "There's a leaping-bar behind the house," said
the landlord. "Leaping-bar!" said Mr. Petulengro,
scornfully. "Do you think my black pal ever rides at a
leaping-bar? No more than a windle-straw. Leap over that
meadow-wall, Tawno." Just past the house, in the direction
in which I had been trotting, was a wall about four feet
high, beyond which was a small meadow. Tawno rode the horse
gently up to the wall, permitted him to look over, then
backed him for about ten yards, and pressing his calves
against the horse's sides, he loosed the rein, and the horse
launching forward, took the leap in gallant style. "Well
done, man and horse!" said Mr. Petulengro, "now come back,
Tawno." The leap from the side of the meadow was, however,
somewhat higher; and the horse, when pushed at it, at first
turned away; whereupon Tawno backed him to a greater
distance, pushed the horse to a full gallop, giving a wild
cry; whereupon the horse again took the wall, slightly
grazing one of his legs against it. "A near thing," said the
landlord; "but a good leap. Now, no more leaping, so long as
I have control over the animal." The horse was then led back
to the stable; and the landlord, myself and companions going
into the bar, I paid down the money for the horse.
Scarcely was the bargain concluded, when two or three of the
company began to envy me the possession of the horse, and
forcing their way into the bar, with much noise and clamour,
said that the horse had been sold too cheap. One fellow, in
particular, with a red waistcoat, the son of a wealthy
farmer, said that if he had but known that the horse had been
so good a one, he would have bought it at the first price
asked for it, which he was now willing to pay, that is tomorrow,
supposing - "supposing your father will let you have
the money," said the landlord, "which, after all, might not
be the case; but, however that may be, it is too late now. I
think myself the horse has been sold for too little money,
but if so all the better for the young man, who came forward
when no other body did with his money in his hand. There,
take yourselves out of my bar," he said to the fellows; "and
a pretty scoundrel you," said he to the man of the red
waistcoat, "to say the horse has been sold too cheap; why, it
was only yesterday you said he was good for nothing, and were
passing all kinds of jokes at him. Take yourself out of my
bar, I say, you and all of you," and he turned the fellows
out. I then asked the landlord whether he would permit the
horse to remain in the stable for a short time, provided I
paid for his entertainment; and on his willingly consenting,
I treated my friends with ale, and then returned with them to
the encampment.
That evening I informed Mr. Petulengro and his party that on
the morrow I intended to mount my horse, and leave that part
of the country in quest of adventures; inquiring of Jasper
where, in the event of my selling the horse advantageously, I
might meet with him, and repay the money I had borrowed of
him; whereupon Mr. Petulengro informed me that in about ten
weeks I might find him at a certain place at the Chong gav.
I then stated that as I could not well carry with me the
property which I possessed in the dingle, which after all was
of no considerable value, I had resolved to bestow the said
property, namely, the pony, tent, tinker-tools, etc., on
Ursula and her husband, partly because they were poor, and
partly on account of the great kindness which I bore to
Ursula, from whom I had, on various occasions, experienced
all manner of civility, particularly in regard to crabbed
words. On hearing this intelligence, Ursula returned many
thanks to her gentle brother, as she called me, and Sylvester
was so overjoyed that, casting aside his usual phlegm, he
said I was the best friend he had ever had in the world, and
in testimony of his gratitude swore that he would permit his
wife to give me a choomer in the presence of the whole
company, which offer, however, met with a very mortifying
reception, the company frowning disapprobation, Ursula
protesting against anything of the kind, and I myself showing
no forwardness to avail myself of it, having inherited from
nature a considerable fund of modesty, to which was added no
slight store acquired in the course of my Irish education. I
passed that night alone in the dingle in a very melancholy
manner, with little or no sleep, thinking of Isopel Berners;
and in the morning when I quitted it I shed several tears, as
I reflected that I should probably never again see the spot
where I had passed so many hours in her company.
Farewell to the Romans - The Landlord and His Niece - Set Out
as a Traveller.
ON reaching the plain above, I found my Romany friends
breakfasting, and on being asked by Mr. Petulengro to join
them, I accepted the invitation. No sooner was breakfast
over than I informed Ursula and her husband that they would
find the property, which I had promised them, in the dingle,
commanding the little pony Ambrol to their best care. I took
leave of the whole company, which was itself about to break
up camp and to depart in the direction of London, and made
the best of my way to the public-house. I had a small bundle
in my hand, and was dressed in the same manner as when I
departed from London, having left my waggoner's slop with the
other effects in the dingle. On arriving at the publichouse,
I informed the landlord that I was come for my horse,
inquiring, at the same time, whether he could not accommodate
me with a bridle and saddle. He told me that the bridle and
saddle, with which I had ridden the horse on the preceding
day, were at my service for a trifle; that he had received
them some time since in payment for a debt, and that he had
himself no use for them. The leathers of the bridle were
rather shabby, and the bit rusty, and the saddle was old
fashioned; but I was happy to purchase them for seven
shillings, more especially as the landlord added a small
valise, which he said could be strapped to the saddle, and
which I should find very convenient for carrying my things
in. I then proceeded to the stable, told the horse we were
bound on an expedition, and giving him a feed of corn, left
him to discuss it, and returned to the bar-room to have a
little farewell chat with the landlord, and at the same time
to drink with him a farewell glass of ale. Whilst we were
talking and drinking, the niece came and joined us: she was a
decent, sensible young woman, who appeared to take a great
interest in her uncle, whom she regarded with a singular
mixture of pride and, disapprobation - pride for the renown
which he had acquired by his feats of old, and disapprobation
for his late imprudences. She said that she hoped that his
misfortunes would be a warning to him to turn more to his God
than he had hitherto done, and to give up cock-fighting and
other low-life practices. To which the landlord replied,
that with respect to cock-fighting he intended to give it up
entirely, being determined no longer to risk his capital upon
birds, and with respect to his religious duties, he should
attend the church of which he was churchwarden at least once
a quarter, adding, however, that he did not intend to become
either canter or driveller, neither of which characters would
befit a publican surrounded by such customers as he was, and
that to the last day of his life he hoped to be able to make
use of his fists. After a stay of about two hours I settled
accounts, and having bridled and saddled my horse, and
strapped on my valise, I mounted, shook hands with the
landlord and his niece, and departed, notwithstanding that
they both entreated me to tarry until the evening, it being
then the heat of the day.
An Adventure on the Road - The Six Flint Stone - A Rural
Scene - Mead - The Old Man and His Bees.
I BENT my course in the direction of the north, more induced
by chance than any particular motive; all quarters of the
world having about equal attractions for me. I was in high
spirits at finding myself once more on horse-back, and
trotted gaily on, until the heat of the weather induced me to
slacken my pace, more out of pity for my horse than because I
felt any particular inconvenience from it - heat and cold
being then, and still, matters of great indifference to me.
What I thought of I scarcely know, save and except that I
have a glimmering recollection that I felt some desire to
meet with one of those adventures which upon the roads of
England are generally as plentiful as blackberries in autumn;
and Fortune, who has generally been ready to gratify my
inclinations, provided it cost her very little by so doing,
was not slow in furnishing me with an adventure, perhaps as
characteristic of the English roads as anything which could
have happened.
I might have travelled about six miles amongst cross roads
and lanes, when suddenly I found myself upon a broad and very
dusty road which seemed to lead due north. As I wended along
this I saw a man upon a donkey riding towards me. The man
was commonly dressed, with a broad felt hat on his head, and
a kind of satchel on his back; he seemed to be in a mighty
hurry, and was every now and then belabouring the donkey with
a cudgel. The donkey, however, which was a fine large
creature of the silver-grey species, did not appear to
sympathize at all with its rider in his desire to get on, but
kept its head turned back as much as possible, moving from
one side of the road to the other, and not making much
forward way. As I passed, being naturally of a very polite
disposition, I gave the man the sele of the day, asking him,
at the same time, why he beat the donkey; whereupon the
fellow eyeing me askance, told me to mind my own business,
with the addition of something which I need not repeat. I
had not proceeded a furlong before I saw seated on the dust
by the wayside, close by a heap of stones, and with several
flints before him, a respectable-looking old man, with a
straw hat and a white smock, who was weeping bitterly.
"What are you crying for, father?" said I. "Have you come to
any hurt?" "Hurt enough," sobbed the old man, "I have just
been tricked out of the best ass in England by a villain, who
gave me nothing but these trash in return," pointing to the
stones before him. "I really scarcely understand you," said
I, "I wish you would explain yourself more clearly." "I was
riding on my ass from market," said the old man, "when I met
here a fellow with a sack on his back, who, after staring at
the ass and me a moment or two, asked me if I would sell her.
I told him that I could not think of selling her, as she was
very useful to me, and though an animal, my true companion,
whom I loved as much as if she were my wife and daughter. I
then attempted to pass on, but the fellow stood before me,
begging me to sell her, saying that he would give me anything
for her; well, seeing that he persisted, I said at last that
if I sold her, I must have six pounds for her, and I said so
to get rid of him, for I saw that he was a shabby fellow, who
had probably not six shillings in the world; but I had better
have held my tongue," said the old man, crying more bitterly
than before, "for the words were scarcely out of my mouth,
when he said he would give me what I asked, and taking the
sack from his back, he pulled out a steelyard, and going to
the heap of stones there, he took up several of them and
weighed them, then flinging them down before me, he said,
'There are six pounds, neighbour; now, get off the ass, and
hand her over to me.' Well, I sat like one dumbfoundered for
a time, till at last I asked him what he meant? 'What do I
mean?' said he, 'you old rascal, why, I mean to claim my
purchase,' and then he swore so awfully, that scarcely
knowing what I did I got down, and he jumped on the animal
and rode off as fast as he could." "I suppose he was the
fellow," said I, "whom I just now met upon a fine gray ass,
which he was beating with a cudgel." "I dare say he was,"
said the old man, "I saw him beating her as he rode away, and
I thought I should have died." "I never heard such a story,"
said I; "well, do you mean to submit to such a piece of
roguery quietly?" "Oh, dear," said the old man, "what can I
do? I am seventy-nine years of age; I am bad on my feet, and
dar'n't go after him." - "Shall I go?" said I; "the fellow is
a thief, and any one has a right to stop him." "Oh, if you
could but bring her again to me," said the old man, "I would
bless you till my dying day; but have a care; I don't know
but after all the law may say that she is his lawful
purchase. I asked six pounds for her, and he gave me six
pounds." "Six flints, you mean," said I, "no, no, the law is
not quite so bad as that either; I know something about her,
and am sure that she will never sanction such a quibble. At
all events, I'll ride after the fellow." Thereupon turning
my horse round, I put him to his very best trot; I rode
nearly a mile without obtaining a glimpse of the fellow, and
was becoming apprehensive that he had escaped me by turning
down some by-path, two or three of which I had passed.
Suddenly, however, on the road making a slight turning, I
perceived him right before me, moving at a tolerably swift
pace, having by this time probably overcome the resistance of
the animal. Putting my horse to a full gallop, I shouted at
the top of my voice, "Get off that donkey, you rascal, and
give her up to me, or I'll ride you down." The fellow
hearing the thunder of the horse's hoofs behind him, drew up
on one side of the road. "What do you want?" said he, as I
stopped my charger, now almost covered with sweat and foam
close beside him. "Do you want to rob me?" "To rob you?"
said I. "No! but to take from you that ass, of which you
have just robbed its owner." "I have robbed no man," said
the fellow; "I just now purchased it fairly of its master,
and the law will give it to me; he asked six pounds for it,
and I gave him six pounds." "Six stones, you mean, you
rascal," said I; "get down, or my horse shall be upon you in
a moment;" then with a motion of my reins, I caused the horse
to rear, pressing his sides with my heels as if I intended to
make him leap. "Stop," said the man, "I'll get down, and
then try if I can't serve you out." He then got down, and
confronted me with his cudgel; he was a horrible-looking
fellow, and seemed prepared for anything. Scarcely, however,
had he dismounted, when the donkey jerked the bridle out of
his hand, and probably in revenge for the usage she had
received, gave him a pair of tremendous kicks on the hip with
her hinder legs, which overturned him, and then scampered
down the road the way she had come. "Pretty treatment this,"
said the fellow, getting up without his cudgel, and holding
his hand to his side, "I wish I may not be lamed for life."
"And if you be," said I, "it will merely serve you right, you
rascal, for trying to cheat a poor old man out of his
property by quibbling at words." "Rascal!" said the fellow,
"you lie, I am no rascal; and as for quibbling with words -
suppose I did! What then? All the first people does it!
The newspapers does it! the gentlefolks that calls themselves
the guides of the popular mind does it! I'm no ignoramus. I
read the newspapers, and knows what's what." "You read them
to some purpose," said I. "Well, if you are lamed for life,
and unfitted for any active line - turn newspaper editor; I
should say you are perfectly qualified, and this day's
adventure may be the foundation of your fortune," thereupon I
turned round and rode off. The fellow followed me with a
torrent of abuse. "Confound you," said he - yet that was not
the expression either - "I know you; you are one of the
horse-patrol come down into the country on leave to see your
relations. Confound you, you and the like of you have
knocked my business on the head near Lunnon, and I suppose we
shall have you shortly in the country." "To the newspaper
office," said I, "and fabricate falsehoods out of flint
stones;" then touching the horse with my heels, I trotted
off, and coming to the place where I had seen the old man, I
found him there, risen from the ground, and embracing his
I told him that I was travelling down the road, and said,
that if his way lay in the same direction as mine he could do
no better than accompany me for some distance, lest the
fellow who, for aught I knew, might be hovering nigh, might
catch him alone, and again get his ass from him. After
thanking me for my offer, which he said he would accept, he
got upon his ass, and we proceeded together down the road.
My new acquaintance said very little of his own accord; and
when I asked him a question, answered rather incoherently. I
heard him every now and then say, "Villain!" to himself,
after which he would pat the donkey's neck, from which
circumstance I concluded that his mind was occupied with his
late adventure. After travelling about two miles, we reached
a place where a drift-way on the right led from the great
road; here my companion stopped, and on my asking him whether
he was going any farther, he told me that the path to the
right was the way to his home.
I was bidding him farewell, when he hemmed once or twice, and
said, that as he did not live far off, he hoped that I would
go with him and taste some of his mead. As I had never
tasted mead, of which I had frequently read in the
compositions of the Welsh bards, and, moreover, felt rather
thirsty from the heat of the day, I told him that I should
have great pleasure in attending him. Whereupon, turning off
together, we proceeded about half a mile, sometimes between
stone walls, and at other times hedges, till we reached a
small hamlet, through which we passed, and presently came to
a very pretty cottage, delightfully situated within a garden,
surrounded by a hedge of woodbines. Opening a gate at one
corner of the garden he led the way to a large shed, which
stood partly behind the cottage, which he said was his
stable; thereupon he dismounted and led his donkey into the
shed, which was without stalls, but had a long rack and
manger. On one side he tied his donkey, after taking off her
caparisons, and I followed his example, tying my horse at the
other side with a rope halter which he gave me; he then asked
me to come in and taste his mead, but I told him that I must
attend to the comfort of my horse first, and forthwith,
taking a wisp of straw, rubbed him carefully down. Then
taking a pailful of clear water which stood in the shed, I
allowed the horse to drink about half a pint; and then
turning to the old man, who all the time had stood by looking
at my proceedings, I asked him whether he had any oats? "I
have all kinds of grain," he replied; and, going out, he
presently returned with two measures, one a large and the
other a small one, both filled with oats, mixed with a few
beans, and handing the large one to me for the horse, he
emptied the other before the donkey, who, before she began to
despatch it, turned her nose to her master's face, and fairly
kissed him. Having given my horse his portion, I told the
old man that I was ready to taste his mead as soon as he
pleased, whereupon he ushered me into his cottage, where,
making me sit down by a deal table in a neatly sanded
kitchen, he produced from an old-fashioned closet a bottle,
holding about a quart, and a couple of cups, which might each
contain about half a pint, then opening the bottle and
filling the cups with a brown-coloured liquor, he handed one
to me, and taking a seat opposite to me, he lifted the other,
nodded, and saying to me - "Health and welcome," placed it to
his lips and drank.
"Health and thanks," I replied; and being very thirsty,
emptied my cup at a draught; I had scarcely done so, however,
when I half repented. The mead was deliciously sweet and
mellow, but appeared strong as brandy; my eyes reeled in my
head, and my brain became slightly dizzy. "Mead is a strong
drink," said the old man, as he looked at me, with a half
smile on his countenance. "This is at any rate," said I, "so
strong, indeed, that I would not drink another cup for any
consideration." "And I would not ask you," said the old man;
"for, if you did, you would most probably be stupid all day,
and wake the next morning with a headache. Mead is a good
drink, but woundily strong, especially to those who be not
used to it, as I suppose you are not." "Where do you get
it?" said I. "I make it myself," said the old man, "from the
honey which my bees make." "Have you many bees?" I inquired.
"A great many," said the old man. "And do you keep them,"
said I, "for the sake of making mead with their honey?" "I
keep them," he replied, "partly because I am fond of them,
and partly for what they bring me in; they make me a great
deal of honey, some of which I sell, and with a little I make
some mead to warm my poor heart with, or occasionally to
treat a friend with like yourself." "And do you support
yourself entirely by means of your bees?" "No," said the old
man; "I have a little bit of ground behind my house, which is
my principal means of support." "And do you live alone?"
"Yes," said he; "with the exception of the bees and the
donkey, I live quite alone." "And have you always lived
alone?" The old man emptied his cup, and his heart being
warmed with the mead, he told his history, which was
simplicity itself. His father was a small yeoman, who, at
his death, had left him, his only child, the cottage, with a
small piece of ground behind it, and on this little property
he had lived ever since. About the age of twenty-five he had
married an industrious young woman, by whom he had one
daughter, who died before reaching years of womanhood. His
wife, however, had survived her daughter many years, and had
been a great comfort to him, assisting him in his rural
occupations; but, about four years before the present period,
he had lost her, since which time he had lived alone, making
himself as comfortable as he could; cultivating his ground,
with the help of a lad from the neighbouring village,
attending to his bees, and occasionally riding his donkey to
market, and hearing the word of God, which he said he was
sorry he could not read, twice a week regularly at the parish
church. Such was the old man's tale.
When he had finished speaking, he led me behind his house,
and showed me his little domain. It consisted of about two
acres in admirable cultivation; a small portion of it formed
a kitchen garden, while the rest was sown with four kinds of
grain, wheat, barley, peas, and beans. The air was full of
ambrosial sweets, resembling those proceeding from an orange
grove; a place which though I had never seen at that time, I
since have. In the garden was the habitation of the bees, a
long box, supported upon three oaken stumps. It was full of
small round glass windows, and appeared to be divided into a
great many compartments, much resembling drawers placed
sideways. He told me that, as one compartment was filled,
the bees left it for another; so that, whenever he wanted
honey, he could procure some without injury to the insects.
Through the little round windows I could see several of the
bees at work; hundreds were going in and out of the doors;
hundreds were buzzing about on the flowers, the woodbines,
and beans. As I looked around on the well-cultivated field,
the garden, and the bees, I thought I had never before seen
so rural and peaceful a scene.
When we returned to the cottage we again sat down, and I
asked the old man whether he was not afraid to live alone.
He told me that he was not, for that, upon the whole, his
neighbours were very kind to him. I mentioned the fellow who
had swindled him of his donkey upon the road. "That was no
neighbour of mine," said the old man, "and, perhaps, I shall
never see him again, or his like." "It's a dreadful thing,"
said I, "to have no other resource, when injured, than to
shed tears on the road." "It is so," said the old man; "but
God saw the tears of the old, and sent a helper." "Why did
you not help yourself?" said I. "Instead of getting off your
ass, why did you not punch at the fellow, or at any rate use
dreadful language, call him villain, and shout robbery?"
"Punch!" said the old man, "shout! what, with these hands,
and this voice - Lord, how you run on! I am old, young chap,
I am old!" "Well," said I, "it is a shameful thing to cry
even when old." "You think so now," said the old man,
"because you are young and strong; perhaps when you are as
old as I, you will not be ashamed to cry."
Upon the whole I was rather pleased with the old man, and
much with all about him. As evening drew nigh, I told him
that I must proceed on my journey; whereupon he invited me to
tarry with him during the night, telling me that he had a
nice room and bed above at my service. I, however, declined;
and bidding him farewell, mounted my horse, and departed.
Regaining the road, I proceeded once more in the direction of
the north; and, after a few hours, coming to a comfortable
public-house, I stopped, and put up for the night.
The Singular Noise - Sleeping in a Meadow - The Book - Cure
for Wakefulness - Literary Tea Party - Poor Byron.
I DID not awake till rather late the next morning; and when I
did, I felt considerable drowsiness, with a slight headache,
which I was uncharitable enough to attribute to the mead
which I had drunk on the preceding day. After feeding my
horse, and breakfasting, I proceeded on my wanderings.
Nothing occurred worthy of relating till mid-day was
considerably past, when I came to a pleasant valley, between
two gentle hills. I had dismounted, in order to ease my
horse, and was leading him along by the bridle, when, on my
right, behind a bank in which some umbrageous ashes were
growing, heard a singular noise. I stopped short and
listened, and presently said to myself, "Surely this is
snoring, perhaps that of a hedgehog." On further
consideration, however, I was convinced that the noise which
I heard, and which certainly seemed to be snoring, could not
possibly proceed from the nostrils of so small an animal, but
must rather come from those of a giant, so loud and sonorous
was it. About two or three yards farther was a gate, partly
open, to which I went, and peeping into the field, saw a man
lying on some rich grass, under the shade of one of the
ashes; he was snoring away at a great rate. Impelled by
curiosity, I fastened the bridle of my horse to the gate, and
went up to the man. He was a genteelly-dressed individual;
rather corpulent, with dark features, and seemingly about
forty-five. He lay on his back, his hat slightly over his
brow, and at his right hand lay an open book. So strenuously
did he snore that the wind from his nostrils agitated,
perceptibly, a fine cambric frill which he wore at his bosom.
I gazed upon him for some time, expecting that he might
awake; but he did not, but kept on snoring, his breast
heaving convulsively. At last, the noise he made became so
terrible, that I felt alarmed for his safety, imagining that
a fit might seize him, and he lose his life while fast
asleep. I therefore exclaimed, "Sir, sir, awake! you sleep
over-much." But my voice failed to rouse him, and he
continued snoring as before; whereupon I touched him slightly
with my riding wand, but failing to wake him, I touched him
again more vigorously; whereupon he opened his eyes, and,
probably imagining himself in a dream, closed them again.
But I was determined to arouse him, and cried as loud as I
could, "Sir, sir, pray sleep no more!" He heard what I said,
opened his eyes again, stared at me with a look of some
consciousness, and, half raising himself upon his elbows,
asked me what was the matter. "I beg your pardon," said I,
"but I took the liberty of awaking you, because you appeared
to be much disturbed in your sleep - I was fearful, too, that
you might catch a fever from sleeping under a tree." "I run
no risk," said the man, "I often come and sleep here; and as
for being disturbed in my sleep, I felt very comfortable; I
wish you had not awoke me." "Well," said I, "I beg your
pardon once more. I assure you that what I did was with the
best intention." "Oh! pray make no further apology," said
the individual, "I make no doubt that what you did was done
kindly; but there's an old proverb, to the effect, 'that you
should let sleeping dogs lie,'" he added with a smile. Then,
getting up, and stretching himself with a yawn, he took up
his book and said, "I have slept quite long enough, and it's
quite time for me to be going home." "Excuse my curiosity,"
said I, "if I inquire what may induce you to come and sleep
in this meadow?" "To tell you the truth," answered he, "I am
a bad sleeper." "Pray pardon me," said I, "if I tell you
that I never saw one sleep more heartily." "If I did so,"
said the individual, "I am beholden to this meadow and this
book; but I am talking riddles, and will explain myself. I
am the owner of a very pretty property, of which this valley
forms part. Some years ago, however, up started a person who
said the property was his; a lawsuit ensued, and I was on the
brink of losing my all, when, most unexpectedly, the suit was
determined in my favour. Owing, however, to the anxiety to
which my mind had been subjected for several years, my nerves
had become terribly shaken; and no sooner was the trial
terminated than sleep forsook my pillow. I sometimes passed
nights without closing an eye; I took opiates, but they
rather increased than alleviated my malady. About three
weeks ago a friend of mine put this book into my hand, and
advised me to take it every day to some pleasant part of my
estate, and try and read a page or two, assuring me, if I
did, that I should infallibly fall asleep. I took his
advice, and selecting this place, which I considered the
pleasantest part of my property, I came, and lying down,
commenced reading the book, and before finishing a page was
in a dead slumber. Every day since then I have repeated the
experiment, and every time with equal success. I am a single
man, without any children; and yesterday I made my will, in
which, in the event of my friend's surviving me, I have left
him all my fortune, in gratitude for his having procured for
me the most invaluable of all blessings - sleep."
"Dear me," said I, "how very extraordinary! Do you think
that your going to sleep is caused by the meadow or the
book?" "I suppose by both," said my new acquaintance,
"acting in co-operation." "It may be so," said I; "the magic
influence does certainly not proceed from the meadow alone;
for since I have been here, I have not felt the slightest
inclination to sleep. Does the book consist of prose or
poetry?" "It consists of poetry," said the individual. "Not
Byron's?" said I. "Byron's!" repeated the individual, with a
smile of contempt; "no, no; there is nothing narcotic in
Byron's poetry. I don't like it. I used to read it, but it
thrilled, agitated, and kept me awake. No; this is not
Byron's poetry, but the inimitable -'s" - mentioning a name
which I had never heard till then. "Will you permit me to
look at it?" said I. "With pleasure," he answered, politely
handing me the book. I took the volume, and glanced over the
contents. It was written in blank verse, and appeared to
abound in descriptions of scenery; there was much mention of
mountains, valleys, streams, and waterfalls, harebells and
daffodils. These descriptions were interspersed with
dialogues, which, though they proceeded from the mouths of
pedlars and rustics, were of the most edifying description;
mostly on subjects moral or metaphysical, and couched in the
most gentlemanly and unexceptionable language, without the
slightest mixture of vulgarity, coarseness, or pie-bald
grammar. Such appeared to me to be the contents of the book;
but before I could form a very clear idea of them, I found
myself nodding, and a surprising desire to sleep coming over
me. Rousing myself, however, by a strong effort, I closed
the book, and, returning it to the owner, inquired of him,
"Whether he had any motive in coming and lying down in the
meadow, besides the wish of enjoying sleep?" "None
whatever," he replied; "indeed, I should be very glad not to
be compelled to do so, always provided I could enjoy the
blessing of sleep; for by lying down under trees, I may
possibly catch the rheumatism, or be stung by serpents; and,
moreover, in the rainy season and winter the thing will be
impossible, unless I erect a tent, which will possibly
destroy the charm." "Well," said I, "you need give yourself
no further trouble about coming here, as I am fully convinced
that with this book in your hand, you may go to sleep
anywhere, as your friend was doubtless aware, though he
wished to interest your imagination for a time by persuading
you to lie abroad; therefore, in future, whenever you feel
disposed to sleep, try to read the book, and you will be
sound asleep in a minute; the narcotic influence lies in the
book, and not in the field." "I will follow your advice,"
said the individual; "and this very night take it with me to
bed; though I hope in time to be able to sleep without it, my
nerves being already much quieted from the slumbers I have
enjoyed in this field." He then moved towards the gate,
where we parted; he going one way, and I and my horse the
More than twenty years subsequent to this period, after much
wandering about the world, returning to my native country, I
was invited to a literary tea-party, where, the discourse
turning upon poetry, I, in order to show that I was not more
ignorant than my neighbours, began to talk about Byron, for
whose writings I really entertained considerable admiration,
though I had no particular esteem for the man himself. At
first, I received no answer to what I said - the company
merely surveying me with a kind of sleepy stare. At length a
lady, about the age of forty, with a large wart on her face,
observed, in a drawling tone, "That she had not read Byron -
at least, since her girlhood - and then only a few passages;
but that the impression on her mind was, that his writings
were of a highly objectionable character." "I also read a
little of him in my boyhood," said a gentleman about sixty,
but who evidently, from his dress and demeanour, wished to
appear about thirty, "but I highly disapproved of him; for,
notwithstanding he was a nobleman, he is frequently very
coarse, and very fond of raising emotion. Now emotion is
what I dislike;" drawling out the last syllable of the word
dislike. "There is only one poet for me - the divine - " and
then he mentioned a name which I had only once heard, and
afterwards quite forgotten; the same mentioned by the snorer
in the field. "Ah! there is no one like him!" murmured some
more of the company; "the poet of nature - of nature without
its vulgarity." I wished very much to ask these people
whether they were ever bad sleepers, and whether they had
read the poet, so called, from a desire of being set to
sleep. Within a few days, however, I learnt that it had of
late become very fashionable and genteel to appear half
asleep, and that one could exhibit no better mark of
superfine breeding than by occasionally in company setting
one's rhomal organ in action. I then ceased to wonder at the
popularity, which I found nearly universal, of -'s poetry;
for, certainly in order to make one's self appear sleepy in
company, or occasionally to induce sleep, nothing could be
more efficacious than a slight prelection of his poems. So
poor Byron, with his fire and emotion - to say nothing of his
mouthings and coxcombry - was dethroned, as I prophesied he
would be more than twenty years before, on the day of his
funeral, though I had little idea that his humiliation would
have been brought about by one, whose sole strength consists
in setting people to sleep. Well, all things are doomed to
terminate in sleep. Before that termination, however, I will
venture to prophesy that people will become a little more
awake - snoring and yawning be a little less in fashion - and
poor Byron be once more reinstated on his throne, though his
rival will always stand a good chance of being worshipped by
those whose ruined nerves are insensible to the narcotic
powers of opium and morphine.
Drivers and Front Outside Passengers - Fatigue of Body and
Mind - Unexpected Greeting - My Inn - The Governor -
I CONTINUED my journey, passing through one or two villages.
The day was exceedingly hot, and the roads dusty. In order
to cause my horse as little fatigue as possible, and not to
chafe his back, I led him by the bridle, my doing which
brought upon me a shower of remarks, jests, and would-be
witticisms from the drivers and front outside passengers of
sundry stage-coaches which passed me in one direction or the
other. In this way I proceeded till considerably past noon,
when I felt myself very fatigued, and my horse appeared no
less so; and it is probable that the lazy and listless manner
in which we were moving on, tired us both much more
effectually than hurrying along at a swift trot would have
done, for I have observed that when the energies of the body
are not exerted a languor frequently comes over it. At
length arriving at a very large building with an archway,
near the entrance of a town, I sat down on what appeared to
be a stepping-block, and presently experienced a great
depression of spirits. I began to ask myself whither I was
going, and what I should do with myself and the horse which I
held by the bridle? It appeared to me that I was alone in
the world with the poor animal, who looked for support to me,
who knew not how to support myself. Then the image of Isopel
Berners came into my mind, and when I thought how I had lost
her for ever, and how happy I might have been with her in the
New World had she not deserted me, I became yet more
As I sat in this state of mind, I suddenly felt some one clap
me on the shoulder, and heard a voice say, "Ha! comrade of
the dingle, what chance has brought you into these parts?" I
turned round, and beheld a man in the dress of a postillion,
whom I instantly recognized as he to whom I had rendered
assistance on the night of the storm.
"Ah!" said I, "is it you? I am glad to see you, for I was
feeling very lonely and melancholy."
"Lonely and melancholy," he replied, "how is that? how can
any one be lonely and melancholy with such a noble horse as
that you hold by the bridle?"
"The horse," said I, "is one cause of my melancholy, for I
know not in the world what to do with it."
"It is your own?"
"Yes," said I, "I may call it my own, though I borrowed the
money to purchase it."
"Well, why don't you sell it?"
"It is not always easy to find a purchaser for a horse like
this," said I; "can you recommend me one?"
"I? Why no, not exactly; but you'll find a purchaser shortly
- pooh! if you have no other cause for disquiet than that
horse, cheer up, man, don't be cast down. Have you nothing
else on your mind? By the bye, what's become of the young
woman you were keeping company with in that queer lodging
place of yours?"
"She has left me," said I.
"You quarrelled, I suppose?"
"No," said I, "we did not exactly quarrel, but we are
"Well," replied he, "but you will soon come together again."
"No," said I, "we are parted for ever."
"For ever! Pooh! you little know how people sometimes come
together again who think they are parted for ever. Here's
something on that point relating to myself. You remember,
when I told you my story in that dingle of yours, that I
mentioned a young woman, my fellow-servant when I lived with
the English family in Mumbo Jumbo's town, and how she and I,
when our foolish governors were thinking of changing their
religion, agreed to stand by each other, and be true to old
Church of England, and to give our governors warning,
provided they tried to make us renegades. Well, she and I
parted soon after that, and never to meet again, yet we met
the other day in the fields, for she lately came to live with
a great family not far from here, and we have since agreed to
marry, to take a little farm, for we have both a trifle of
money, and live together till 'death us do part.' So much
for parting for ever! But what do I mean by keeping you
broiling in the sun with your horse's bridle in your hand,
and you on my own ground? Do you know where you are? Why,
that great house is my inn, that is, it's my master's, the
best fellow in -. Come along, you and your horse both will
find a welcome at my inn."
Thereupon he led the way into a large court in which there
were coaches, chaises, and a great many people; taking my
horse from me, he led it into a nice cool stall, and fastened
it to the rack - he then conducted me into a postillion's
keeping-room, which at that time chanced to be empty, and he
then fetched a pot of beer and sat down by me.
After a little conversation he asked me what I intended to
do, and I told him frankly that I did not know; whereupon he
observed that, provided I had no objection, he had little
doubt that I could be accommodated for some time at his inn.
"Our upper ostler," said he, "died about a week ago; he was a
clever fellow, and, besides his trade, understood reading and
"Dear me," said I, interrupting him, "I am not fitted for the
place of ostler - moreover, I refused the place of ostler at
a public-house, which was offered to me only a few days ago."
The postillion burst into a laugh. "Ostler at a publichouse,
indeed! why, you would not compare a berth at a place
like that with the situation of ostler at my inn, the first
road-house in England! However, I was not thinking of the
place of ostler for you; you are, as you say, not fitted for
it, at any rate, not at a house like this. We have,
moreover, the best under-ostler in all England - old Bill,
with the drawback that he is rather fond of drink. We could
make shift with him very well, provided we could fall in with
a man of writing and figures, who could give an account of
the hay and corn which comes in and goes out, and wouldn't
object to give a look occasionally at the yard. Now it
appears to me that you are just such a kind of man, and, if
you will allow me to speak to the governor, I don't doubt
that he will gladly take you, as he feels kindly disposed
towards you from what he has heard me say concerning you."
"And what should I do with my horse?" said I.
"The horse need give you no uneasiness," said the postillion;
"I know he will be welcome here both for bed and manger, and,
perhaps, in a little time you may find a purchaser, as a vast
number of sporting people frequent this house." I offered
two or three more objections, which the postillion overcame
with great force of argument, and the pot being nearly empty,
he drained it to the bottom drop, and then starting up, left
me alone.
In about twenty minutes he returned, accompanied by a highly
intelligent-looking individual, dressed in blue and black,
with a particularly white cravat, and without a hat on his
head: this individual, whom I should have mistaken for a
gentleman but for the intelligence depicted in his face, he
introduced to me as the master of the inn. The master of the
inn shook me warmly by the hand, told me that he was happy to
see me in his house, and thanked me in the handsomest terms
for the kindness I had shown to his servant in the affair of
the thunderstorm. Then saying that he was informed I was out
of employ, he assured me that he should be most happy to
engage me to keep his hay and corn account, and as general
superintendent of the yard, and that with respect to the
horse, which he was told I had, he begged to inform me that I
was perfectly at liberty to keep it at the inn upon the very
best, until I could find a purchaser, - that with regard to
wages - but he had no sooner mentioned wages than I cut him
short, saying, that provided I stayed I should be most happy
to serve him for bed and board, and requested that he would
allow me until the next morning to consider of his offer; he
willingly consented to my request, and, begging that I would
call for anything I pleased, left me alone with the
I passed that night until about ten o'clock with the
postillion, when he left me, having to drive a family about
ten miles across the country; before his departure, however,
I told him that I had determined to accept the offer of his
governor, as he called him. At the bottom of my heart I was
most happy that an offer had been made, which secured to
myself and the animal a comfortable retreat at a moment when
I knew not whither in the world to take myself and him.
An Inn of Times gone by - A First-rate Publican - Hay and
Corn - Old-fashioned Ostler - Highwaymen - Mounted Police -
THE inn, of which I had become an inhabitant, was a place of
infinite life and bustle. Travellers of all descriptions,
from all the cardinal points, were continually stopping at
it; and to attend to their wants, and minister to their
convenience, an army of servants, of one description or
other, was kept; waiters, chambermaids, grooms, postillions,
shoe-blacks, cooks, scullions, and what not, for there was a
barber and hair-dresser, who had been at Paris, and talked
French with a cockney accent; the French sounding all the
better, as no accent is so melodious as the cockney. Jacks
creaked in the kitchens turning round spits, on which large
joints of meat piped and smoked before great big fires.
There was running up and down stairs, and along galleries,
slamming of doors, cries of "Coming, sir," and "Please to
step this way, ma'am," during eighteen hours of the four-andtwenty.
Truly a very great place for life and bustle was
this inn. And often in after life, when lonely and
melancholy, I have called up the time I spent there, and
never failed to become cheerful from the recollection.
I found the master of the house a very kind and civil person.
Before being an inn-keeper he had been in some other line of
business; but on the death of the former proprietor of the
inn had married his widow, who was still alive, but, being
somewhat infirm, lived in a retired part of the house. I
have said that he was kind and civil; he was, however, not
one of those people who suffer themselves to be made fools of
by anybody; he knew his customers, and had a calm, clear eye,
which would look through a man without seeming to do so. The
accommodation of his house was of the very best description;
his wines were good, his viands equally so, and his charges
not immoderate; though he very properly took care of himself.
He was no vulgar inn-keeper, had a host of friends, and
deserved them all. During the time I lived with him, he was
presented by a large assemblage of his friends and customers
with a dinner at his own house, which was very costly, and at
which the best of wines were sported, and after the dinner
with a piece of plate estimated at fifty guineas. He
received the plate, made a neat speech of thanks, and when
the bill was called for, made another neat speech, in which
he refused to receive one farthing for the entertainment,
ordering in at the same time two dozen more of the best
champagne, and sitting down amidst uproarious applause, and
cries of "You shall be no loser by it!" Nothing very
wonderful in such conduct, some people will say; I don't say
there is, nor have I any intention to endeavour to persuade
the reader that the landlord was a Carlo Boromeo; he merely
gave a quid pro quo; but it is not every person who will give
you a quid pro quo. Had he been a vulgar publican, he would
have sent in a swinging bill after receiving the plate; "but
then no vulgar publican would have been presented with
plate;" perhaps not, but many a vulgar public character has
been presented with plate, whose admirers never received a
quid pro quo, except in the shape of a swinging bill.
I found my duties of distributing hay and corn, and keeping
an account thereof, anything but disagreeable, particularly
after I had acquired the good-will of the old ostler, who at
first looked upon me with rather an evil eye, considering me
somewhat in the light of one who had usurped an office which
belonged to himself by the right of succession; but there was
little gall in the old fellow, and, by speaking kindly to
him, never giving myself any airs of assumption; but, above
all, by frequently reading the newspapers to him - for though
passionately fond of news and politics, he was unable to read
- I soon succeeded in placing myself on excellent terms with
him. A regular character was that old ostler; he was a
Yorkshireman by birth, but had seen a great deal of life in
the vicinity of London, to which, on the death of his
parents, who were very poor people, he went at a very early
age. Amongst other places where he had served as ostler was
a small inn at Hounslow, much frequented by highwaymen, whose
exploits he was fond of narrating, especially those of Jerry
Abershaw, who, he said, was a capital rider; and on hearing
his accounts of that worthy, I half regretted that the old
fellow had not been in London, and I had not formed his
acquaintance about the time I was thinking of writing the
life of the said Abershaw, not doubting that with his
assistance, I could have produced a book at least as
remarkable as the life and adventures of that entirely
imaginary personage Joseph Sell; perhaps, however, I was
mistaken; and whenever Abershaw's life shall appear before
the public - and my publisher credibly informs me that it has
not yet appeared - I beg and entreat the public to state
which it likes best, the life of Abershaw, or that of Sell,
for which latter work I am informed that during the last few
months there has been a prodigious demand. My old friend,
however, after talking of Abershaw, would frequently add,
that, good rider as Abershaw certainly was, he was decidedly
inferior to Richard Ferguson, generally called Galloping
Dick, who was a pal of Abershaw's, and had enjoyed a career
as long, and nearly as remarkable as his own. I learned from
him that both were capital customers at the Hounslow inn, and
that he had frequently drank with them in the corn-room. He
said that no man could desire more jolly or entertaining
companions over a glass of "summut;" but that upon the road
it was anything but desirable to meet them; there they were
terrible, cursing and swearing, and thrusting the muzzles of
their pistols into people's mouths; and at this part of his
locution the old man winked, and said, in a somewhat lower
voice, that upon the whole they were right in doing so, and
that when a person had once made up his mind to become a
highwayman, his best policy was to go the whole hog, fearing
nothing, but making everybody afraid of him; that people
never thought of resisting a savage-faced, foul-mouthed
highwayman, and if he were taken, were afraid to bear witness
against him, lest he should get off and cut their throats
some time or other upon the roads; whereas people would
resist being robbed by a sneaking, pale-visaged rascal, and
would swear bodily against him on the first opportunity, -
adding, that Abershaw and Ferguson, two most awful fellows,
had enjoyed a long career, whereas two disbanded officers of
the army, who wished to rob a coach like gentlemen, had
begged the passengers' pardon, and talked of hard necessity,
had been set upon by the passengers themselves, amongst whom
were three women, pulled from their horses, conducted to
Maidstone, and hanged with as little pity as such
contemptible fellows deserved. "There is nothing like going
the whole hog," he repeated, "and if ever I had been a
highwayman, I would have done so; I should have thought
myself all the more safe; and, moreover, shouldn't have
despised myself. To curry favour with those you are robbing,
sometimes at the expense of your own comrades, as I have
known fellows do, why, it is the greatest - "
"So it is," interposed my friend the postillion, who chanced
to be present at a considerable part of the old ostler's
discourse; "it is, as you say, the greatest of humbug, and
merely, after all, gets a fellow into trouble; but no regular
bred highwayman would do it. I say, George, catch the Pope
of Rome trying to curry favour with anybody he robs; catch
old Mumbo Jumbo currying favour with the Archbishop of
Canterbury and the Dean and Chapter, should he meet them in a
stage-coach; it would be with him, Bricconi Abbasso, as he
knocked their teeth out with the butt of his trombone; and
the old regular-built ruffian would be all the safer for it,
as Bill would say, as ten to one the Archbishop and Chapter,
after such a spice of his quality, would be afraid to swear
against him, and to hang him, even if he were in their power,
though that would be the proper way; for, if it is the
greatest of all humbug for a highwayman to curry favour with
those he robs, the next greatest is to try to curry favour
with a highwayman when you have got him, by letting him off."
Finding the old man so well acquainted with the history of
highwaymen, and taking considerable interest in the subject,
having myself edited a book containing the lives of many
remarkable people who had figured on the highway, I forthwith
asked him how it was that the trade of highwaymen had become
extinct in England, as at present we never heard of any one
following it. Whereupon he told me that many causes had
contributed to bring about that result; the principal of
which were the following:- the refusal to license houses
which were known to afford shelter to highwaymen, which,
amongst many others, had caused the inn at Hounslow to be
closed; the inclosure of many a wild heath in the country, on
which they were in the habit of lurking, and particularly the
establishing in the neighbourhood of London of a well-armed
mounted patrol, who rode the highwaymen down, and delivered
them up to justice, which hanged them without ceremony.
"And that would be the way to deal with Mumbo Jumbo and his
gang," said the postillion, "should they show their visages
in these realms; and I hear by the newspapers that they are
becoming every day more desperate. Take away the license
from their public-houses, cut down the rookeries and shadowy
old avenues in which they are fond of lying in wait, in order
to sally out upon people as they pass in the roads; but,
above all, establish a good mounted police to ride after the
ruffians and drag them by the scruff of the neck to the next
clink, where they might lie till they could be properly dealt
with by law; instead of which, the Government are repealing
the wise old laws enacted against such characters, giving
fresh licenses every day to their public-houses, and saying
that it would be a pity to cut down their rookeries and
thickets because they look so very picturesque; and, in fact,
giving them all kind of encouragement; why, if such behaviour
is not enough to drive an honest man mad, I know not what is.
It is of no use talking, I only wish the power were in my
hands, and if I did not make short work of them, might I be a
mere jackass postillion all the remainder of my life."
Besides acquiring from the ancient ostler a great deal of
curious information respecting the ways and habits of the
heroes of the road, with whom he had come in contact in the
early portion of his life, I picked up from him many
excellent hints relating to the art of grooming horses.
Whilst at the inn, I frequently groomed the stage and posthorses,
and those driven up by travellers in their gigs: I
was not compelled, nor indeed expected, to do so; but I took
pleasure in the occupation; and I remember at that period one
of the principal objects of my ambition was to be a firstrate
groom, and to make the skins of the creatures I took in
hand look sleek and glossy like those of moles. I have said
that I derived valuable hints from the old man, and, indeed,
became a very tolerable groom, but there was a certain
finishing touch which I could never learn from him, though he
possessed it himself, and which I could never attain to by my
own endeavours; though my want of success certainly did not
proceed from want of application, for I have rubbed the
horses down, purring and buzzing all the time, after the
genuine ostler fashion, until the perspiration fell in heavy
drops upon my shoes, and when I had done my best and asked
the old fellow what he thought of my work, I could never
extract from him more than a kind of grunt, which might be
translated, "Not so very bad, but I have seen a horse groomed
much better," which leads me to suppose that a person, in
order to be a first-rate groom, must have something in him
when he is born which I had not, and, indeed, which many
other people have not who pretend to be grooms. What does
the reader think?
Stable Hartshorn - How to Manage a Horse on a Journey - Your
Best Friend.
OF one thing I am certain, that the reader must be much
delighted with the wholesome smell of the stable, with which
many of these pages are redolent; what a contrast to the
sickly odours exhaled from those of some of my
contemporaries, especially of those who pretend to be of the
highly fashionable class, and who treat of reception-rooms,
well may they be styled so, in which dukes, duchesses, earls,
countesses, archbishops, bishops, mayors, mayoresses - not
forgetting the writers themselves, both male and female -
congregate and press upon one another; how cheering, how
refreshing, after having been nearly knocked down with such
an atmosphere, to come in contact with genuine stable
hartshorn. Oh! the reader shall have yet more of the stable,
and of that old ostler, for which he or she will doubtless
exclaim, "Much obliged!" - and, lest I should forget to
perform my promise, the reader shall have it now.
I shall never forget an harangue from the mouth of the old
man, which I listened to one warm evening as he and I sat on
the threshold of the stable, after having attended to some of
the wants of a batch of coach-horses. It related to the
manner in which a gentleman should take care of his horse and
self, whilst engaged in a journey on horseback, and was
addressed to myself, on the supposition of my one day coming
to an estate, and of course becoming a gentleman.
"When you are a gentleman," said he, "should you ever journey
on a horse of your own, and you could not have a much better
than the one you have here eating its fill in the box yonder
- I wonder, by the bye, how you ever came by it - you can't
do better than follow the advice I am about to give you, both
with respect to your animal and yourself. Before you start,
merely give your horse a couple of handfuls of corn and a
little water, somewhat under a quart, and if you drink a pint
of water yourself out of the pail, you will feel all the
better during the whole day; then you may walk and trot your
animal for about ten miles, till you come to some nice inn,
where you may get down and see your horse led into a nice
stall, telling the ostler not to feed him till you come. If
the ostler happens to be a dog-fancier, and has an English
terrier-dog like that of mine there, say what a nice dog it
is, and praise its black and tawn; and if he does not happen
to be a dog-fancier, ask him how he's getting on, and whether
he ever knew worse times; that kind of thing will please the
ostler, and he will let you do just what you please with your
own horse, and when your back is turned, he'll say to his
comrades what a nice gentleman you are, and how he thinks he
has seen you before; then go and sit down to breakfast, and,
before you have finished breakfast, get up and go and give
your horse a feed of corn; chat with the ostler two or three
minutes till your horse has taken the shine out of his corn,
which will prevent the ostler taking any of it away when your
back is turned, for such things are sometimes done - not that
I ever did such a thing myself when I was at the inn at
Hounslow. Oh, dear me, no! Then go and finish your
breakfast, and when you have finished your breakfast and
called for the newspaper, go and water your horse, letting
him have one pailful, then give him another feed of corn, and
enter into discourse with the ostler about bull-baiting, the
prime minister, and the like; and when your horse has once
more taken the shine out of his corn, go back to your room
and your newspaper - and I hope for your sake it may be the
GLOBE, for that's the best paper going - then pull the bellrope
and order in your bill, which you will pay without
counting it up - supposing you to be a gentleman. Give the
waiter sixpence, and order out your horse, and when your
horse is out, pay for the corn, and give the ostler a
shilling, then mount your horse and walk him gently for five
miles; and whilst you are walking him in this manner, it may
be as well to tell you to take care that you do not let him
down and smash his knees, more especially if the road be a
particularly good one, for it is not at a desperate hiverman
pace, and over very bad roads, that a horse tumbles and
smashes his knees, but on your particularly nice road, when
the horse is going gently and lazily, and is half asleep,
like the gemman on his back; well, at the end of the five
miles, when the horse has digested his food, and is all
right, you may begin to push your horse on, trotting him a
mile at a heat, and then walking him a quarter of a one, that
his wind may be not distressed; and you may go on in that way
for thirty miles, never galloping, of course, for none but
fools or hivermen ever gallop horses on roads; and at the end
of that distance you may stop at some other nice inn to
dinner. I say, when your horse is led into the stable, after
that same thirty miles' trotting and walking, don't let the
saddle be whisked off at once, for if you do your horse will
have such a sore back as will frighten you, but let your
saddle remain on your horse's back, with the girths loosened,
till after his next feed of corn, and be sure that he has no
corn, much less water, till after a long hour and more; after
he is fed he may be watered to the tune of half a pail, and
then the ostler can give him a regular rub down; you may then
sit down to dinner, and when you have dined get up and see to
your horse as you did after breakfast, in fact, you must do
much after the same fashion you did at t'other inn; see to
your horse, and by no means disoblige the ostler. So when
you have seen to your horse a second time, you will sit down
to your bottle of wine - supposing you to be a gentleman -
and after you have finished it, and your argument about the
corn-laws with any commercial gentleman who happens to be in
the room, you may mount your horse again - not forgetting to
do the proper thing to the waiter and ostler; you may mount
your horse again and ride him, as you did before, for about
five and twenty miles, at the end of which you may put up for
the night after a very fair day's journey, for no gentleman -
supposing he weighs sixteen stone, as I suppose you will by
the time you become a gentleman - ought to ride a horse more
than sixty-five miles in one day, provided he has any regard
for his horse's back, or his own either. See to your horse
at night, and have him well rubbed down. The next day you
may ride your horse forty miles, just as you please, but
never foolishly, and those forty miles will bring you to your
journey's end, unless your journey be a plaguy long one, and
if so, never ride your horse more than five and thirty miles
a day, always, however, seeing him well fed, and taking more
care of him than yourself; which is but right and reasonable,
seeing as how the horse is the best animal of the two."
"When you are a gentleman," said he, after a pause, "the
first thing you must think about is to provide yourself with
a good horse for your own particular riding; you will,
perhaps, keep a coach and pair, but they will be less your
own than your lady's, should you have one, and your young
gentry, should you have any; or, if you have neither, for
madam, your housekeeper, and the upper female servants; so
you need trouble your head less about them, though, of
course, you would not like to pay away your money for screws;
but be sure you get a good horse for your own riding; and
that you may have a good chance of having a good one, buy one
that's young and has plenty of belly - a little more than the
one has which you now have, though you are not yet a
gentleman; you will, of course, look to his head, his
withers, legs and other points, but never buy a horse at any
price that has not plenty of belly; no horse that has not
belly is ever a good feeder, and a horse that a'n't a good
feeder can't be a good horse; never buy a horse that is drawn
up in the belly behind; a horse of that description can't
feed, and can never carry sixteen stone.
"So when you have got such a horse be proud of it - as I
daresay you are of the one you have now - and wherever you go
swear there a'n't another to match it in the country, and if
anybody gives you the lie, take him by the nose and tweak it
off, just as you would do if anybody were to speak ill of
your lady, or, for want of her, of your housekeeper. Take
care of your horse, as you would of the apple of your eye - I
am sure I would, if I were a gentleman, which I don't ever
expect to be, and hardly wish, seeing as how I am sixty-nine,
and am rather too old to ride - yes, cherish and take care of
your horse as perhaps the best friend you have in the world;
for, after all, who will carry you through thick and thin as
your horse will? not your gentlemen friends, I warrant, nor
your upper servants, male or female; perhaps your lady would,
that is, if she is a whopper, and one of the right sort; the
others would be more likely to take up mud and pelt you with
it, provided they saw you in trouble, than to help you. So
take care of your horse, and feed him every day with your own
hands; give him three quarters of a peck of corn each day,
mixed up with a little hay-chaff, and allow him besides one
hundredweight of hay in the course of the week; some say that
the hay should be hardland hay, because it is the
wholesomest, but I say, let it be clover hay, because the
horse likes it best; give him through summer and winter, once
a week, a pailful of bran mash, cold in summer and in winter
hot; ride him gently about the neighbourhood every day, by
which means you will give exercise to yourself and horse,
and, moreover, have the satisfaction of exhibiting yourself
and your horse to advantage, and hearing, perhaps, the men
say what a fine horse, and the ladies saying what a fine man:
never let your groom mount your horse, as it is ten to one,
if you do, your groom will be wishing to show off before
company, and will fling your horse down. I was groom to a
gemman before I went to the inn at Hounslow, and flung him a
horse down worth ninety guineas, by endeavouring to show off
before some ladies that I met on the road. Turn your horse
out to grass throughout May and the first part of June, for
then the grass is sweetest, and the flies don't sting so bad
as they do later in summer; afterwards merely turn him out
occasionally in the swale of the morn and the evening; after
September the grass is good for little, lash and sour at
best; every horse should go out to grass, if not his blood
becomes full of greasy humours, and his wind is apt to become
affected, but he ought to be kept as much as possible from
the heat and flies, always got up at night, and never turned
out late in the year - Lord! if I had always such a nice
attentive person to listen to me as you are, I could go on
talking about 'orses to the end of time."
The Stage - Coachmen of England - A Bully Served Out -
Broughton's Guard - The Brazen Head.
I LIVED on very good terms, not only with the master and the
old ostler, but with all the domestics and hangers on at the
inn; waiters, chambermaids, cooks, and scullions, not
forgetting the "boots," of which there were three. As for
the postillions, I was sworn brother with them all, and some
of them went so far as to swear that I was the best fellow in
the world; for which high opinion entertained by them of me,
I believe I was principally indebted to the good account
their comrade gave of me, whom I had so hospitably received
in the dingle. I repeat that I lived on good terms with all
the people connected with the inn, and was noticed and spoken
kindly to by some of the guests - especially by that class
termed commercial travellers - all of whom were great friends
and patronizers of the landlord, and were the principal
promoters of the dinner, and subscribers to the gift of
plate, which I have already spoken of, the whole fraternity
striking me as the jolliest set of fellows imaginable, the
best customers to an inn, and the most liberal to servants;
there was one description of persons, however, frequenting
the inn, which I did not like at all, and which I did not get
on well with, and these people were the stage-coachmen.
The stage-coachmen of England, at the time of which I am
speaking, considered themselves mighty fine gentry, nay, I
verily believe the most important personages of the realm,
and their entertaining this high opinion of themselves can
scarcely be wondered at; they were low fellows, but masters
at driving; driving was in fashion, and sprigs of nobility
used to dress as coachmen and imitate the slang and behaviour
of the coachmen, from whom occasionally they would take
lessons in driving as they sat beside them on the box, which
post of honour any sprig of nobility who happened to take a
place on a coach claimed as his unquestionable right; and
these sprigs would smoke cigars and drink sherry with the
coachmen in bar-rooms, and on the road; and, when bidding
them farewell, would give them a guinea or a half-guinea, and
shake them by the hand, so that these fellows, being low
fellows, very naturally thought no small liquor of
themselves, but would talk familiarly of their friends lords
so and so, the honourable misters so and so, and Sir Harry
and Sir Charles, and be wonderfully saucy to any one who was
not a lord, or something of the kind; and this high opinion
of themselves received daily augmentation from the servile
homage paid them by the generality of the untitled male
passengers, especially those on the fore part of the coach,
who used to contend for the honour of sitting on the box with
the coachman when no sprig was nigh to put in his claim. Oh!
what servile homage these craven creatures did pay these same
coach fellows, more especially after witnessing this or
t'other act of brutality practised upon the weak and
unoffending - upon some poor friendless woman travelling with
but little money, and perhaps a brace of hungry children with
her, or upon some thin and half-starved man travelling on the
hind part of the coach from London to Liverpool with only
eighteen pence in his pocket after his fare was paid, to
defray his expenses on the road; for as the insolence of
these knights was vast, so was their rapacity enormous; they
had been so long accustomed to have crowns and half-crowns
rained upon them by their admirers and flatterers, that they
would look at a shilling, for which many an honest labourer
was happy to toil for ten hours under a broiling sun, with
the utmost contempt; would blow upon it derisively, or fillip
it into the air before they pocketed it; but when nothing was
given them, as would occasionally happen - for how could they
receive from those who had nothing? and nobody was bound to
give them anything, as they had certain wages from their
employers - then what a scene would ensue! Truly the
brutality and rapacious insolence of English coachmen had
reached a climax; it was time that these fellows should be
disenchanted, and the time - thank Heaven! - was not far
distant. Let the craven dastards who used to curry favour
with them, and applaud their brutality, lament their loss now
that they and their vehicles have disappeared from the roads;
I, who have ever been an enemy to insolence, cruelty, and
tyranny, loathe their memory, and, what is more, am not
afraid to say so, well aware of the storm of vituperation,
partly learnt from them, which I may expect from those who
used to fall down and worship them.
Amongst the coachmen who frequented the inn was one who was
called "the bang-up coachman." He drove to our inn, in the
fore part of every day, one of what were called the fast
coaches, and afterwards took back the corresponding vehicle.
He stayed at our house about twenty minutes, during which
time the passengers of the coach which he was to return with
dined; those at least who were inclined for dinner, and could
pay for it. He derived his sobriquet of "the bang-up
coachman" partly from his being dressed in the extremity of
coach dandyism, and partly from the peculiar insolence of his
manner, and the unmerciful fashion in which he was in the
habit of lashing on the poor horses committed to his charge.
He was a large tall fellow, of about thirty, with a face
which, had it not been bloated by excess, and insolence and
cruelty stamped most visibly upon it, might have been called
good-looking. His insolence indeed was so great, that he was
hated by all the minor fry connected with coaches along the
road upon which he drove, especially the ostlers, whom he was
continually abusing or finding fault with. Many was the
hearty curse which he received when his back was turned; but
the generality of people were much afraid of him, for he was
a swinging strong fellow, and had the reputation of being a
fighter, and in one or two instances had beaten in a
barbarous manner individuals who had quarrelled with him.
I was nearly having a fracas with this worthy. One day,
after he had been drinking sherry with a sprig, he swaggered
into the yard where I happened to be standing; just then a
waiter came by carrying upon a tray part of a splendid
Cheshire cheese, with a knife, plate, and napkin. Stopping
the waiter, the coachman cut with the knife a tolerably large
lump out of the very middle of the cheese, stuck it on the
end of the knife, and putting it to his mouth nibbled a
slight piece off it, and then, tossing the rest away with
disdain, flung the knife down upon the tray, motioning the
waiter to proceed; "I wish," said I, "you may not want before
you die what you have just flung away," whereupon the fellow
turned furiously towards me; just then, however, his coach
being standing at the door, there was a cry for coachman, so
that he was forced to depart, contenting himself for the
present with shaking his fist at me, and threatening to serve
me out on the first opportunity; before, however, the
opportunity occurred he himself got served out in a most
unexpected manner.
The day after this incident he drove his coach to the inn,
and after having dismounted and received the contributions of
the generality of the passengers, he strutted up, with a
cigar in his mouth, to an individual who had come with him,
and who had just asked me a question with respect to the
direction of a village about three miles off, to which he was
going. "Remember the coachman," said the knight of the box
to this individual, who was a thin person of about sixty,
with a white hat, rather shabby black coat, and buff-coloured
trousers, and who held an umbrella and a small bundle in his
hand. "If you expect me to give you anything," said he to
the coachman, "you are mistaken; I will give you nothing.
You have been very insolent to me as I rode behind you on the
coach, and have encouraged two or three trumpery fellows, who
rode along with you, to cut scurvy jokes at my expense, and
now you come to me for money; I am not so poor, but I could
have given you a shilling had you been civil; as it is, I
will give you nothing." "Oh! you won't, won't you?" said the
coachman; "dear me! I hope I shan't starve because you won't
give me anything - a shilling I why, I could afford to give
you twenty if I thought fit, you pauper! civil to you,
indeed! things are come to a fine pass if I need be civil to
you! Do you know who you are speaking to? why, the best
lords in the country are proud to speak to me. Why, it was
only the other day that the Marquis of - said to me - " and
then he went on to say what the Marquis said to him; after
which, flinging down his cigar, he strutted up the road,
swearing to himself about paupers.
"You say it is three miles to -," said the individual to me;
"I think I shall light my pipe, and smoke it as I go along."
Thereupon he took out from a side-pocket a tobacco-box and
short meerschaum pipe, and implements for striking a light,
filled his pipe, lighted it, and commenced smoking.
Presently the coachman drew near. I saw at once that there
was mischief in his eye; the man smoking was standing with
his back towards him, and he came so nigh to him, seemingly
purposely, that as he passed a puff of smoke came of
necessity against his face. "What do you mean by smoking in
my face?" said he, striking the pipe of the elderly
individual out of his mouth. The other, without manifesting
much surprise, said, "I thank you; and if you will wait a
minute, I will give you a receipt for that favour;" then
gathering up his pipe, and taking off his coat and hat, he
laid them on a stepping-block which stood near, and rubbing
his hands together, he advanced towards the coachman in an
attitude of offence, holding his hands crossed very near to
his face. The coachman, who probably expected anything but
such a movement from a person of the age and appearance of
the individual whom he had insulted, stood for a moment
motionless with surprise; but, recollecting himself, he
pointed at him derisively with his finger; the next moment,
however, the other was close upon him, had struck aside the
extended hand with his left fist, and given him a severe blow
on the nose with his right, which he immediately followed by
a left-hand blow in the eye; then drawing his body slightly
backward, with the velocity of lightning he struck the
coachman full in the mouth, and the last blow was the
severest of all, for it cut the coachman's lips nearly
through; blows so quickly and sharply dealt I had never seen.
The coachman reeled like a fir-tree in a gale, and seemed
nearly unsensed. "Ho! what's this? a fight! a fight!"
sounded from a dozen voices, and people came running from all
directions to see what was going on. The coachman, coming
somewhat to himself, disencumbered himself of his coat and
hat; and, encouraged by two or three of his brothers of the
whip, showed some symptoms of fighting, endeavouring to close
with his foe, but the attempt was vain, for his foe was not
to be closed with; he did not shift or dodge about, but
warded off the blows of his opponent with the greatest sangfroid,
always using the guard which I have already described,
and putting in, in return, short chopping blows with the
swiftness of lightning. In a very few minutes the
countenance of the coachman was literally cut to pieces, and
several of his teeth were dislodged; at length he gave in;
stung with mortification, however, he repented, and asked for
another round; it was granted, to his own complete
demolition. The coachman did not drive his coach back that
day, he did not appear on the box again for a week; but he
never held up his head afterwards. Before I quitted the inn,
he had disappeared from the road, going no one knew where.
The coachman, as I have said before, was very much disliked
upon the road, but there was an esprit de corps amongst the
coachmen, and those who stood by did not like to see their
brother chastised in such tremendous fashion. "I never saw
such a fight before," said one. "Fight! why, I don't call it
a fight at all; this chap here ha'n't got a scratch, whereas
Tom is cut to pieces; it is all along of that guard of his;
if Tom could have got within his guard he would have soon
served the old chap out." "So he would," said another, "it
was all owing to that guard. However, I think I see into it,
and if I had not to drive this afternoon, I would have a turn
with the old fellow and soon serve him out." "I will fight
him now for a guinea," said the other coachman, half taking
off his coat; observing, however, that the elderly individual
made a motion towards him, he hitched it upon his shoulder
again, and added, "that is, if he had not been fighting
already, but as it is, I am above taking an advantage,
especially of such a poor old creature as that." And when he
had said this, he looked around him, and there was a feeble
titter of approbation from two or three of the craven crew,
who were in the habit of currying favour with the coachmen.
The elderly individual looked for a moment at these last, and
then said, "To such fellows as you I have nothing to say;"
then turning to the coachmen, "and as for you," he said, "ye
cowardly bullies, I have but one word, which is, that your
reign upon the roads is nearly over, and that a time is
coming when ye will no longer be wanted or employed in your
present capacity, when ye will either have to drive dungcarts,
assist as ostlers at village ale-houses, or rot in the
workhouse." Then putting on his coat and hat, and taking up
his bundle, not forgetting his meerschaum, and the rest of
his smoking apparatus, he departed on his way. Filled with
curiosity, I followed him.
"I am quite astonished that you should be able to use your
hands in the way you have done," said I, as I walked with
this individual in the direction in which he was bound.
"I will tell you how I became able to do so," said the
elderly individual, proceeding to fill and light his pipe as
he walked along. "My father was a journeyman engraver, who
lived in a very riotous neighbourhood in the outskirts of
London. Wishing to give me something of an education, he
sent me to a day-school, two or three streets distant from
where we lived, and there, being rather a puny boy, I
suffered much persecution from my schoolfellows, who were a
very blackguard set. One day, as I was running home, with
one of my tormentors pursuing me, old Sergeant Broughton, the
retired fighting-man, seized me by the arm - "
"Dear me," said I, "has it ever been your luck to be
acquainted with Sergeant Broughton?"
"You may well call it luck," said the elderly individual; but
for him I should never have been able to make my way through
the world. He lived only four doors from our house; so, as I
was running along the street, with my tyrant behind me,
Sergeant Broughton seized me by the arm. 'Stop, my boy,'
said he; 'I have frequently seen that scamp ill-treating you;
now I will teach you how to send him home with a bloody nose;
down with your bag of books; and now, my game chick,'
whispered he to me, placing himself between me and my
adversary, so that he could not observe his motions; 'clench
your fist in this manner, and hold your arms in this, and
when he strikes at you, move them as I now show you, and he
can't hurt you; now, don't be afraid, but go at him.' I
confess that I was somewhat afraid, but I considered myself
in some degree under the protection of the famous Sergeant,
and, clenching my fist, I went at my foe, using the guard
which my ally recommended. The result corresponded to a
certain degree with the predictions of the Sergeant; I gave
my foe a bloody nose and a black eye, though, notwithstanding
my recent lesson in the art of self-defence, he contrived to
give me two or three clumsy blows. From that moment I was
the especial favourite of the Sergeant, who gave me further
lessons, so that in a little time I became a very fair boxer,
beating everybody of my own size who attacked me. The old
gentleman, however, made me promise never to be quarrelsome,
nor to turn his instructions to account, except in selfdefence.
I have always borne in mind my promise, and have
made it a point of conscience never to fight unless
absolutely compelled. Folks may rail against boxing if they
please, but being able to box may sometimes stand a quiet man
in good stead. How should I have fared to-day, but for the
instructions of Sergeant Broughton? But for them, the brutal
ruffian who insulted me must have passed unpunished. He will
not soon forget the lesson which I have just given him - the
only lesson he could understand. What would have been the
use of reasoning with a fellow of that description? Brave
old Broughton! I owe him much."
"And your manner of fighting," said I, "was the manner
employed by Sergeant Broughton?"
"Yes," said my new acquaintance; "it was the manner in which
he beat every one who attempted to contend with him, till, in
an evil hour, he entered the ring with Slack, without any
training or preparation, and by a chance blow lost the battle
to a man who had been beaten with ease by those who, in the
hands of Broughton, appeared like so many children. It was
the way of fighting of him who first taught Englishmen to box
scientifically, who was the head and father of the fighters
of what is now called the old school, the last of which were
Johnson and Big Ben."
"A wonderful man, that Big Ben," said I.
"He was so," said the elderly individual; "but had it not
been for Broughton, I question whether Ben would have ever
been the fighter he was. Oh! there was no one like old
Broughton; but for him I should at the present moment be
sneaking along the road, pursued by the hissings and hootings
of the dirty flatterers of that blackguard coachman."
"What did you mean," said I, "by those words of yours, that
the coachmen would speedily disappear from the roads?"
"I meant," said he, "that a new method of travelling is about
to be established, which will supersede the old. I am a poor
engraver, as my father was before me; but engraving is an
intellectual trade, and by following it, I have been brought
in contact with some of the cleverest men in England. It has
even made me acquainted with the projector of the scheme,
which he has told me many of the wisest heads of England have
been dreaming of during a period of six hundred years, and
which it seems was alluded to by a certain Brazen Head in the
story-book of Friar Bacon, who is generally supposed to have
been a wizard, but in reality was a great philosopher. Young
man, in less than twenty years, by which time I shall be dead
and gone, England will be surrounded with roads of metal, on
which armies may travel with mighty velocity, and of which
the walls of brass and iron by which the friar proposed to
defend his native land are the types." He then, shaking me
by the hand, proceeded on his way, whilst I returned to the
Francis Ardry - His Misfortunes - Dog and Lion Fight - Great
Men of the World.
A FEW days after the circumstance which I have last
commemorated, it chanced that, as I was standing at the door
of the inn, one of the numerous stage-coaches which were in
the habit of stopping there, drove up, and several passengers
got down. I had assisted a woman with a couple of children
to dismount, and had just delivered to her a band-box, which
appeared to be her only property, which she had begged me to
fetch down from the roof, when I felt a hand laid upon my
shoulder, and heard a voice exclaim, "Is it possible, old
fellow, that I find you in this place?" I turned round, and,
wrapped in a large blue cloak, I beheld my good friend
Francis Ardry. I shook him most warmly by the hand, and
said, "If you are surprised to see me, I am no less so to see
you; where are you bound to?"
"I am bound for L-; at any rate, I am booked for that seaport,"
said my friend in reply.
"I am sorry for it," said I, "for in that case we shall have
to part in a quarter of an hour, the coach by which you came
stopping no longer."
"And whither are you bound?" demanded my friend.
"I am stopping at present in this house, quite undetermined
as to what to do."
"Then come along with me," said Francis Ardry.
"That I can scarcely do," said I; "I have a horse in the
stall which I cannot afford to ruin by racing to L- by the
side of your coach."
My friend mused for a moment: "I have no particular business
at L-," said he; "I was merely going thither to pass a day or
two, till an affair, in which I am deeply interested, at Cshall
come off. I think I shall stay with you for four-andtwenty
hours at least; I have been rather melancholy of late,
and cannot afford to part with a friend like you at the
present moment; it is an unexpected piece of good fortune to
have met you; and I have not been very fortunate of late," he
added, sighing.
"Well," said I, "I am glad to see you once more, whether
fortunate, or not; where is your baggage?"
"Yon trunk is mine," said Francis, pointing to a trunk of
black Russian leather upon the coach.
"We will soon have it down," said I; and at a word which I
gave to one of the hangers-on of the inn, the trunk was taken
from the top of the coach. "Now," said I to Francis Ardry,
"follow me, I am a person of some authority in this house;"
thereupon I led Francis Ardry into the house, and a word
which I said to a waiter forthwith installed Francis Ardry in
a comfortable private sitting-room, and his trunk in the very
best sleeping-room of our extensive establishment.
It was now about one o'clock: Francis Ardry ordered dinner
for two, to be ready at four, and a pint of sherry to be
brought forthwith, which I requested my friend the waiter
might be the very best, and which in effect turned out as I
requested; we sat down, and when we had drunk to each other's
health, Frank requested me to make known to him how I had
contrived to free myself from my embarrassments in London,
what I had been about since I quitted that city, and the
present posture of my affairs.
I related to Francis Ardry how I had composed the Life of
Joseph Sell, and how the sale of it to the bookseller had
enabled me to quit London with money in my pocket, which had
supported me during a long course of ramble in the country,
into the particulars of which I, however, did not enter with
any considerable degree of fulness. I summed up my account
by saying that "I was at present a kind of overlooker in the
stables of the inn, had still some pounds in my purse, and,
moreover, a capital horse in the stall."
"No very agreeable posture of affairs," said Francis Ardry,
looking rather seriously at me.
"I make no complaints," said I, "my prospects are not very
bright, it is true, but sometimes I have visions both waking
and sleeping, which, though always strange, are invariably
agreeable. Last night, in my chamber near the hayloft, I
dreamt that I had passed over an almost interminable
wilderness - an enormous wall rose before me, the wall,
methought, was the great wall of China:- strange figures
appeared to be beckoning to me from the top of the wall; such
visions are not exactly to be sneered at. Not that such
phantasmagoria," said I, raising my voice, "are to be
compared for a moment with such desirable things as fashion,
fine clothes, cheques from uncles, parliamentary interest,
the love of splendid females. Ah! woman's love," said I, and
"What's the matter with the fellow?" said Francis Ardry.
"There is nothing like it," said I.
"Like what?"
"Love, divine love," said I.
"Confound love," said Francis Ardry, "I hate the very name; I
have made myself a pretty fool by it, but trust me for ever
being at such folly again. In an evil hour I abandoned my
former pursuits and amusements for it; in one morning spent
at Joey's there was more real pleasure than in - "
"Surely," said I, "you are not hankering after dog-fighting
again, a sport which none but the gross and unrefined care
anything for? No, one's thoughts should be occupied by
something higher and more rational than dog-fighting; and
what better than love - divine love? Oh, there's nothing
like it!"
"Pray, don't talk nonsense," said Francis Ardry.
"Nonsense," said I; "why I was repeating, to the best of my
recollection, what I heard you say on a former occasion."
"If ever I talked such stuff," said Francis Ardry, "I was a
fool; and indeed I cannot deny that I have been one: no,
there's no denying that I have been a fool. What do you
think? that false Annette has cruelly abandoned me."
"Well," said I, "perhaps you have yourself to thank for her
having done so; did you never treat her with coldness, and
repay her marks of affectionate interest with strange fits of
eccentric humour?"
"Lord! how little you know of women," said Francis Ardry;
"had I done as you suppose, I should probably have possessed
her at the present moment. I treated her in a manner
diametrically opposite to that. I loaded her with presents,
was always most assiduous to her, always at her feet, as I
may say, yet she nevertheless abandoned me - and for whom? I
am almost ashamed to say - for a fiddler."
I took a glass of wine, Francis Ardry followed my example,
and then proceeded to detail to me the treatment which he had
experienced from Annette, and from what he said, it appeared
that her conduct to him had been in the highest degree
reprehensible; notwithstanding he had indulged her in
everything, she was never civil to him, but loaded him
continually with taunts and insults, and had finally, on his
being unable to supply her with a sum of money which she had
demanded, decamped from the lodgings which he had taken for
her, carrying with her all the presents which at various
times he had bestowed upon her, and had put herself under the
protection of a gentleman who played the bassoon at the
Italian Opera, at which place it appeared that her sister had
lately been engaged as a danseuse. My friend informed me
that at first he had experienced great agony at the
ingratitude of Annette, but at last had made up his mind to
forget her, and, in order more effectually to do so, had left
London with the intention of witnessing a fight, which was
shortly coming off at a town in these parts, between some
dogs and a lion; which combat, he informed me, had for some
time past been looked forward to with intense eagerness by
the gentlemen of the sporting world.
I commended him for his resolution, at the same time advising
him not to give up his mind entirely to dog-fighting, as he
had formerly done, but, when the present combat should be
over, to return to his rhetorical studies, and above all to
marry some rich and handsome lady on the first opportunity,
as, with his person and expectations, he had only to sue for
the hand of the daughter of a marquis to be successful,
telling him, with a sigh, that all women were not Annettes,
and that, upon the whole, there was nothing like them. To
which advice he answered, that he intended to return to
rhetoric as soon as the lion fight should be over, but that
he never intended to marry, having had enough of women;
adding that he was glad he had no sister, as, with the
feelings which he entertained with respect to her sex, he
should be unable to treat her with common affection, and
concluded by repeating a proverb which he had learnt from an
Arab whom he had met at Venice, to the effect, that, "one who
has been stung by a snake, shivers at the sight of a sting."
After a little more conversation, we strolled to the stable,
where my horse was standing; my friend, who was a connoisseur
in horseflesh, surveyed the animal with attention, and after
inquiring where and how I had obtained him, asked what I
intended to do with him; on my telling him that I was
undetermined, and that I was afraid the horse was likely to
prove a burden to me, he said, "It is a noble animal, and if
you mind what you are about, you may make a small fortune by
him. I do not want such an animal myself, nor do I know any
one who does; but a great horse-fair will be held shortly at
a place where, it is true, I have never been, but of which I
have heard a great deal from my acquaintances, where it is
said a first-rate horse is always sure to fetch its value;
that place is Horncastle, in Lincolnshire, you should take
him thither."
Francis Ardry and myself dined together, and after dinner
partook of a bottle of the best port which the inn afforded.
After a few glasses, we had a great deal of conversation; I
again brought the subject of marriage and love, divine love,
upon the carpet, but Francis almost immediately begged me to
drop it; and on my having the delicacy to comply, he reverted
to dog-fighting, on which he talked well and learnedly;
amongst other things, he said it was a princely sport of
great antiquity, and quoted from Quintus Curtius to prove
that the princes of India must have been of the fancy, they
having, according to that author, treated Alexander to a
fight between certain dogs and a lion. Becoming,
notwithstanding my friend's eloquence and learning, somewhat
tired of the subject, I began to talk about Alexander.
Francis Ardry said he was one of the two great men whom the
world has produced, the other being Napoleon; I replied that
I believed Tamerlane was a greater man than either; but
Francis Ardry knew nothing of Tamerlane, save what he had
gathered from the play of Timour the Tartar. "No," said he,
"Alexander and Napoleon are the great men of the world, their
names are known everywhere. Alexander has been dead upwards
of two thousand years, but the very English bumpkins
sometimes christen their boys by the name of Alexander - can
there be a greater evidence of his greatness? As for
Napoleon, there are some parts of India in which his bust is
worshipped." Wishing to make up a triumvirate, I mentioned
the name of Wellington, to which Francis Ardry merely said,
"bah!" and resumed the subject of dog-fighting.
Francis Ardry remained at the inn during that day and the
next, and then departed to the dog and lion fight; I never
saw him afterwards, and merely heard of him once after a
lapse of some years, and what I then heard was not exactly
what I could have wished to hear. He did not make much of
the advantages which he possessed, a pity, for how great were
those advantages - person, intellect, eloquence, connection,
riches! yet, with all these advantages, one thing highly
needful seems to have been wanting in Francis. A desire, a
craving, to perform something great and good. Oh! what a
vast deal may be done with intellect, courage, riches,
accompanied by the desire of ,doing something great and good!
Why, a person may carry the blessings of civilization and
religion to barbarous, yet at the same time beautiful and
romantic lands; and what a triumph there is for him who does
so! what a crown of glory! of far greater value than those
surrounding the brows of your mere conquerors. Yet who has
done so in these times? Not many; not three, not two,
something seems to have been always wanting; there is,
however, one instance, in which the various requisites have
been united, and the crown, the most desirable in the world -
at least which I consider to be the most desirable -
achieved, and only one, that of Brooke of Borneo.
Mr. Platitude and the Man in Black - The Postillion's
Adventures - The Lone House - A Goodly Assemblage.
IT never rains, but it pours. I was destined to see at this
inn more acquaintances than one. On the day of Francis
Ardry's departure, shortly after he had taken leave of me, as
I was standing in the corn-chamber, at a kind of writingtable
or desk, fastened to the wall, with a book before me,
in which I was making out an account of the corn and hay
lately received and distributed, my friend the postillion
came running in out of breath. "Here they both are," he
gasped out; "pray do come and look at them."
"Whom do you mean?" said I.
"Why, that red-haired Jack Priest, and that idiotic parson,
Platitude; they have just been set down by one of the
coaches, and want a postchaise to go across the country in;
and what do you think? I am to have the driving of them. I
have no time to lose, for I must get myself ready; so do come
and look at them."
I hastened into the yard of the inn; two or three of the
helpers of our establishment were employed in drawing forward
a postchaise out of the chaise-house, which occupied one side
of the yard, and which was spacious enough to contain nearly
twenty of these vehicles, though it was never full, several
of them being always out upon the roads, as the demand upon
us for postchaises across the country was very great. "There
they are," said the postillion, softly, nodding towards two
individuals, in one of whom I recognized the man in black,
and in the other Mr. Platitude; "there they are; have a good
look at them, while I go and get ready." The man in black
and Mr. Platitude were walking up and down the yard, Mr.
Platitude was doing his best to make himself appear
ridiculous, talking very loudly in exceedingly bad Italian,
evidently for the purpose of attracting the notice of the
bystanders, in which he succeeded, all the stable-boys and
hangers-on about the yard, attracted by his vociferation,
grinning at his ridiculous figure as he limped up and down.
The man in black said little or nothing, but from the glances
which he cast sideways appeared to be thoroughly ashamed of
his companion; the worthy couple presently arrived close to
where I was standing, and the man in black, who was nearest
to me, perceiving me, stood still as if hesitating, but
recovering himself in a moment, he moved on without taking
any farther notice; Mr. Platitude exclaimed as they passed in
broken lingo, "I hope we shall find the holy doctors all
assembled," and as they returned, "I make no doubt that they
will all be rejoiced to see me." Not wishing to be standing
an idle gazer, I went to the chaise and assisted in attaching
the horses, which had now been brought out, to the pole. The
postillion presently arrived, and finding all ready took the
reins and mounted the box, whilst I very politely opened the
door for the two travellers; Mr. Platitude got in first, and,
without taking any notice of me, seated himself on the
farther side. In got the man in black, and seated himself
nearest to me. "All is right," said I, as I shut the door,
whereupon the postillion cracked his whip, and the chaise
drove out of the yard. Just as I shut the door, however, and
just as Mr. Platitude had recommenced talking in jergo, at
the top of his voice, the man in black turned his face partly
towards me, and gave me a wink with his left eye.
I did not see my friend the postillion till the next morning,
when he gave me an account of the adventures he had met with
on his expedition. It appeared that he had driven the man in
black and the Reverend Platitude across the country by roads
and lanes which he had some difficulty in threading. At
length, when he had reached a part of the country where he
had never been before, the man in black pointed out to him a
house near the corner of a wood, to which he informed him
they were bound. The postillion said it was a strangelooking
house, with a wall round it; and, upon the whole,
bore something of the look of a madhouse. There was already
a postchaise at the gate, from which three individuals had
alighted - one of them the postillion said was a mean-looking
scoundrel, with a regular petty-larceny expression in his
countenance. He was dressed very much like the man in black,
and the postillion said that he could almost have taken his
Bible oath that they were both of the same profession. The
other two he said were parsons, he could swear that, though
he had never seen them before; there could be no mistake
about them. Church of England parsons the postillion swore
they were, with their black coats, white cravats, and airs,
in which clumsiness and conceit were most funnily blended -
Church of England parsons of the Platitude description, who
had been in Italy, and seen the Pope, and kissed his toe, and
picked up a little broken Italian, and come home greater
fools than they went forth. It appeared that they were all
acquaintances of Mr. Platitude, for when the postillion had
alighted and let Mr. Platitude and his companion out of the
chaise, Mr. Platitude shook the whole three by the hand,
conversed with his two brothers in a little broken jergo, and
addressed the petty-larceny looking individual by the title
of Reverend Doctor. In the midst of these greetings,
however, the postillion said the man in black came up to him,
and proceeded to settle with him for the chaise; he had
shaken hands with nobody, and had merely nodded to the
others; "and now," said the postillion, "he evidently wished
to get rid of me, fearing, probably, that I should see too
much of the nonsense that was going on. It was whilst
settling with me that he seemed to recognize me for the first
time, for he stared hard at me, and at last asked whether I
had not been in Italy; to which question, with a nod and a
laugh, I replied that I had. I was then going to ask him
about the health of the image of Holy Mary, and to say that I
hoped it had recovered from its horsewhipping; but he
interrupted me, paid me the money for the fare, and gave me a
crown for myself, saying he would not detain me any longer.
I say, partner, I am a poor postillion, but when he gave me
the crown I had a good mind to fling it in his face. I
reflected, however, that it was not mere gift-money, but coin
which I had earned, and hardly too, so I put it in my pocket,
and I bethought me, moreover, that, knave as I knew him to
be, he had always treated me with civility; so I nodded to
him, and he said something which, perhaps, he meant for
Latin, but which sounded very much like 'vails,' and by which
he doubtless alluded to the money which he had given me. He
then went into the house with the rest, the coach drove away
which had brought the others, and I was about to get on the
box and follow; observing, however, two more chaises driving
up, I thought I would be in no hurry, so I just led my horses
and chaise a little out of the way, and pretending to be
occupied about the harness, I kept a tolerably sharp look-out
at the new arrivals. Well, partner, the next vehicle that
drove up was a gentleman's carriage which I knew very well,
as well as those within it, who were a father and son, the
father a good kind old gentleman, and a justice of the peace,
therefore not very wise, as you may suppose; the son a puppy
who has been abroad, where he contrived to forget his own
language, though only nine months absent, and now rules the
roast over his father and mother, whose only child he is, and
by whom he is thought wondrous clever. So this foreigneering
chap brings his poor old father to this out-of-the-way house
to meet these Platitudes and petty-larceny villains, and
perhaps would have brought his mother too, only, simple
thing, by good fortune she happens to be laid up with the
rheumatic. Well, the father and son, I beg pardon, I mean
the son and father, got down and went in, and then after
their carriage was gone, the chaise behind drove up, in which
was a huge fat fellow, weighing twenty stone at least, but
with something of a foreign look, and with him - who do you
think? Why, a rascally Unitarian minister, that is, a fellow
who had been such a minister, but who, some years ago leaving
his own people, who had bred him up and sent him to their
college at York, went over to the High Church, and is now, I
suppose, going over to some other church, for he was talking,
as he got down, wondrous fast in Latin, or what sounded
something like Latin, to the fat fellow, who appeared to take
things wonderfully easy, and merely grunted to the dog Latin
which the scoundrel had learnt at the expense of the poor
Unitarians at York. So they went into the house, and
presently arrived another chaise, but ere I could make any
further observations, the porter of the out-of-the-way house
came up to me, asking what I was stopping there for? bidding
me go away, and not pry into other people's business.
'Pretty business,' said I to him, 'that is being transacted
in a place like this,' and then I was going to say something
uncivil, but he went to attend to the new corners, and I took
myself away on my own business as he bade me, not, however,
before observing that these two last were a couple of
The postillion then proceeded to relate how he made the best
of his way to a small public-house, about a mile off, where
he had intended to bait, and how he met on the way a landau
and pair, belonging to a Scotch coxcomb whom he had known in
London, about whom he related some curious particulars, and
then continued: "Well, after I had passed him and his turnout,
I drove straight to the public-house, where I baited my
horses, and where I found some of the chaises and drivers who
had driven the folks to the lunatic-looking mansion, and were
now waiting to take them up again. Whilst my horses were
eating their bait, I sat me down, as the weather was warm, at
a table outside, and smoked a pipe, and drank some ale, in
company with the coachman of the old gentleman who had gone
to the house with his son, and the coachman then told me that
the house was a Papist house, and that the present was a
grand meeting of all the fools and rascals in the country,
who came to bow down to images, and to concert schemes -
pretty schemes no doubt - for overturning the religion of the
country, and that for his part he did not approve of being
concerned with such doings, and that he was going to give his
master warning next day. So, as we were drinking and
discoursing, up drove the chariot of the Scotchman, and down
got his valet and the driver, and whilst the driver was
seeing after the horses, the valet came and sat down at the
table where the gentleman's coachman and I were drinking. I
knew the fellow well, a Scotchman like his master, and just
of the same kidney, with white kid gloves, red hair frizzled,
a patch of paint on his face, and his hands covered with
rings. This very fellow, I must tell you, was one of those
most busy in endeavouring to get me turned out of the
servants' club in Park Lane, because I happened to serve a
literary man; so he sat down, and in a kind of affected tone
cried out, 'Landlord, bring me a glass of cold negus.' The
landlord, however, told him that there was no negus, but that
if he pleased, he could have a jug of as good beer as any in
the country. 'Confound the beer,' said the valet, 'do you
think that I am accustomed to such vulgar beverage?'
However, as he found there was nothing better to be had, he
let the man bring him some beer, and when he had got it, soon
showed that he could drink it easily enough; so, when he had
drunk two or three draughts, he turned his eyes in a
contemptuous manner, first, on the coachman, and then on me:
I saw the scamp recollected me, for after staring at me and
my dress for about half a minute, he put on a broad grin, and
flinging his head back, he uttered a loud laugh. Well, I did
not like this, as you may well believe, and taking the pipe
out of my mouth, I asked him if he meant anything personal,
to which he answered, that he had said nothing to me, and
that he had a right to look where he pleased, and laugh when
he pleased. Well, as to a certain extent he was right, as to
looking and laughing; and as I have occasionally looked at a
fool and laughed, though I was not the fool in this instance,
I put my pipe into my mouth and said no more. This quiet and
well-regulated behaviour of mine, however, the fellow
interpreted into fear; so, after drinking a little more, he
suddenly started up, and striding once or twice before the
table, he asked me what I meant by that impertinent question
of mine, saying that he had a good mind to wring my nose for
my presumption. 'You have?' said I, getting up, and laying
down my pipe. 'Well, I'll now give you an opportunity.' So
I put myself in an attitude, and went up to him, saying 'I
have an old score to settle with you, you scamp; you wanted
to get me turned out of the club, didn't you?' And
thereupon, remembering that he had threatened to wring my
nose, I gave him a snorter upon his own. I wish you could
have seen the fellow when he felt the smart; so far from
trying to defend himself, he turned round, and with his hand
to his face, attempted to run away; but I was now in a
regular passion, and following him up, got before him, and
was going to pummel away at him, when he burst into tears,
and begged me not to hurt him, saying that he was sorry if he
had offended me, and that, if I pleased, he would go down on
his knees, or do anything else I wanted. Well, when I heard
him talk in this manner, I, of course, let him be; I could
hardly help laughing at the figure he cut; his face all
blubbered with tears, and blood and paint; but I did not
laugh at the poor creature either, but went to the table and
took up my pipe, and smoked and drank as if nothing had
happened; and the fellow, after having been to the pump, came
and sat down, crying, and trying to curry favour with me and
the coachman; presently, however, putting on a confidential
look, he began to talk of the Popish house, and of the doings
there, and said he supposed as how we were of the party, and
that it was all right; and then he began to talk of the Pope
of Rome, and what a nice man he was, and what a fine thing it
was to be of his religion, especially if folks went over to
him; and how it advanced them in the world, and gave them
consideration; and how his master, who had been abroad and
seen the Pope, and kissed his toe, was going over to the
Popish religion, and had persuaded him to consent to do so,
and to forsake his own, which I think the scoundrel called
the 'Piscopal Church of Scotland, and how many others of that
church were going over, thinking to better their condition in
life by so doing, and to be more thought on; and how many of
the English Church were thinking of going over too - and that
he had no doubt that it would all end right and comfortably.
Well, as he was going on in this way, the old coachman began
to spit, and getting up, flung all the beer that was in his
jug upon the ground, and going away, ordered another jug of
beer, and sat down at another table, saying that he would not
drink in such company; and I too got up, and flung what beer
remained in my jug, there wasn't more than a drop, in the
fellow's face, saying, I would scorn to drink any more in
such company; and then I went to my horses, put them to, paid
my reckoning, and drove home."
The postillion having related his story, to which I listened
with all due attention, mused for a moment, and then said, "I
dare say you remember how, some time since, when old Bill had
been telling us how the Government a long time ago, had done
away with robbing on the highway, by putting down the publichouses
and places which the highwaymen frequented, and by
sending a good mounted police to hunt them down, I said that
it was a shame that the present Government did not employ
somewhat the same means in order to stop the proceedings of
Mumbo Jumbo and his gang now-a-days in England. Howsomever,
since I have driven a fare to a Popish rendezvous, and seen
something of what is going on there, I should conceive that
the Government are justified in allowing the gang the free
exercise of their calling. Anybody is welcome to stoop and
pick up nothing, or worse than nothing, and if Mumbo Jumbo's
people, after their expeditions, return to their haunts with
no better plunder in the shape of converts than what I saw
going into yonder place of call, I should say they are
welcome to what they get; for if that's the kind of rubbish
they steal out of the Church of England, or any other church,
who in his senses but would say a good riddance, and many
thanks for your trouble: at any rate, that is my opinion of
the matter."
Deliberations with Self-Resolution - Invitation to Dinner -
The Commercial Traveller - The Landlord's Offer - The Comet
IT was now that I had frequent deliberations with myself.
Should I continue at the inn in my present position? I was
not very much captivated with it; there was little poetry in
keeping an account of the corn, hay, and straw which came in,
and was given out, and I was fond of poetry; moreover, there
was no glory at all to be expected in doing so, and I was
fond of glory. Should I give up that situation, and
remaining at the inn, become ostler under old Bill? There
was more poetry in rubbing down horses than in keeping an
account of straw, hay, and corn; there was also some prospect
of glory attached to the situation of ostler, for the grooms
and stable-boys occasionally talked of an ostler, a great way
down the road, who had been presented by some sporting
people, not with a silver vase, as our governor had been, but
with a silver currycomb, in testimony of their admiration for
his skill; but I confess that the poetry of rubbing down had
become, as all other poetry becomes, rather prosy by frequent
repetition, and with respect to the chance of deriving glory
from the employment, I entertained, in the event of my
determining to stay, very slight hope of ever attaining skill
in the ostler art sufficient to induce sporting people to
bestow upon me a silver currycomb. I was not half so good an
ostler as old Bill, who had never been presented with a
silver currycomb, and I never expected to become so,
therefore what chance had I? It was true, there was a
prospect of some pecuniary emolument to be derived by
remaining in either situation. It was very probable that,
provided I continued to keep an account of the hay and corn
coming in and expended, the landlord would consent to allow
me a pound a week, which at the end of a dozen years,
provided I kept myself sober, would amount to a considerable
sum. I might, on the retirement of old Bill, by taking his
place, save up a decent sum of money, provided, unlike him, I
kept myself sober, and laid by all the shillings and
sixpences I got; but the prospect of laying up a decent sum
of money was not of sufficient importance to induce me to
continue either at my wooden desk, or in the inn-yard. The
reader will remember what difficulty I had to make up my mind
to become a merchant under the Armenian's auspices, even with
the prospect of making two or three hundred thousand pounds
by following the Armenian way of doing business, so it was
not probable that I should feel disposed to be a book-keeper
or ostler all my life with no other prospect than being able
to make a tidy sum of money. If indeed, besides the prospect
of making a tidy sum at the end of perhaps forty years'
ostlering, I had been certain of being presented with a
silver currycomb with my name engraved upon it, which I might
have left to my descendants, or, in default thereof, to the
parish church destined to contain my bones, with directions
that it might be soldered into the wall above the arch
leading from the body of the church into the chancel - I will
not say with such a certainty of immortality, combined with
such a prospect of moderate pecuniary advantage, - I might
not have thought it worth my while to stay, but I entertained
no such certainty, and, taking everything into consideration,
I determined to mount my horse and leave the inn.
This horse had caused me for some time past no little
perplexity; I had frequently repented of having purchased
him, more especially as the purchase had been made with
another person's money, and had more than once shown him to
people who, I imagined, were likely to purchase him; but,
though they were profuse in his praise, as people generally
are in the praise of what they don't intend to purchase, they
never made me an offer, and now that I had determined to
mount on his back and ride away, what was I to do with him in
the sequel? I could not maintain him long. Suddenly I
bethought me of Horncastle, which Francis Ardry had mentioned
as a place where the horse was likely to find a purchaser,
and not having determined upon any particular place to which
to repair, I thought that I could do no better than betake
myself to Horncastle in the first instance, and there
endeavour to dispose of my horse.
On making inquiries with respect to the situation of
Horncastle, and the time when the fair would be held, I
learned that the town was situated in Lincolnshire, about a
hundred and fifty miles from the inn at which I was at
present sojourning, and that the fair would be held nominally
within about a month, but that it was always requisite to be
on the spot some days before the nominal day of the fair, as
all the best horses were generally sold before that time, and
the people who came to purchase gone away with what they had
The people of the inn were very sorry on being informed of my
determination to depart. Old Bill told me that he had hoped
as how I had intended to settle down there, and to take his
place as ostler when he was fit for no more work, adding,
that though I did not know much of the business, yet he had
no doubt but that I might improve. My friend the postillion
was particularly sorry, and taking me with him to the taproom
called for two pints of beer, to one of which he treated
me; and whilst we were drinking told me how particularly
sorry he was at the thought of my going, but that he hoped I
should think better of the matter. On my telling him that I
must go, he said that he trusted I should put off my
departure for three weeks, in order that I might be present
at his marriage, the banns of which were just about to be
published. He said that nothing would give him greater
pleasure than to see me dance a minuet with his wife after
the marriage dinner; but I told him it was impossible that I
should stay, my affairs imperatively calling me elsewhere;
and that with respect to my dancing a minuet, such a thing
was out of the question, as I had never learned to dance. At
which he said that he was exceedingly sorry, and finding me
determined to go, wished me success in all my undertakings.
The master of the house, to whom, as in duty bound, I
communicated my intention before I spoke of it to the
servants, was, I make no doubt, very sorry, though he did not
exactly tell me so. What he said was, that he had never
expected that I should remain long there, as such a situation
never appeared to him quite suitable to me, though I had been
very diligent, and had given him perfect satisfaction. On
his inquiring when I intended to depart, I informed him next
day, whereupon he begged that I would defer my departure till
the next day but one, and do him the favour of dining with
him on the morrow. I informed him that I should be only too
On the following day at four o'clock I dined with the
landlord, in company with a commercial traveller. The dinner
was good, though plain, consisting of boiled mackerel -
rather a rarity in those parts at that time - with fennel
sauce, a prime baron of roast beef after the mackerel, then a
tart and noble Cheshire cheese; we had prime sherry at
dinner, and whilst eating the cheese prime porter, that of
Barclay, the only good porter in the world. After the cloth
was removed we had a bottle of very good port; and whilst
partaking of the port I had an argument with the commercial
traveller on the subject of the corn-laws.
The commercial traveller, having worsted me in the argument
on the subject of the corn-laws, got up in great glee, saying
that he must order his gig, as business must be attended to.
Before leaving the room, however, he shook me patronizingly
by the hand, and said something to the master of the house,
but in so low a tone that it escaped my ear.
No sooner had he departed than the master of the house told
me that his friend the traveller had just said that I was a
confounded sensible young fellow, and not at all opinionated,
a sentiment in which he himself perfectly agreed - then
hemming once or twice, he said that as I was going on a
journey he hoped I was tolerably well provided with money,
adding that travelling was rather expensive, especially on
horseback, the manner in which he supposed, as I had a horse
in the stable, I intended to travel. I told him that though
I was not particularly well supplied with money, I had
sufficient for the expenses of my journey, at the end of
which I hoped to procure more. He then hemmed again, and
said that since I had been at the inn I had rendered him a
great deal of service in more ways than one, and that he
should not think of permitting me to depart without making me
some remuneration; then putting his hand into his waistcoat
pocket, he handed me a cheque for ten pounds, which he had
prepared beforehand, the value of which he said I could
receive at the next town, or that, if I wished it, any waiter
in the house would cash it for me. I thanked him for his
generosity in the best terms I could select, but, handing him
back the cheque, I told him that I could not accept it,
saying, that, so far from his being my debtor, I believed
myself to be indebted to him, as not only myself but my horse
had been living at his house for several weeks. He replied,
that as for my board at a house like his it amounted to
nothing, and as for the little corn and hay which the horse
had consumed it was of no consequence, and that he must
insist upon my taking the cheque. But I again declined,
telling him that doing so would be a violation of a rule
which I had determined to follow, and which nothing but the
greatest necessity would ever compel me to break through -
never to incur obligations. "But," said he, "receiving this
money will not be incurring an obligation, it is your due."
"I do not think so," said I; "I did not engage to serve you
for money, nor will I take any from you." "Perhaps you will
take it as a loan?" said he. "No," I replied, "I never
borrow." "Well," said the landlord, smiling, "you are
different from all others that I am acquainted with. I never
yet knew any one else who scrupled to borrow and receive
obligations; why, there are two baronets in the neighbourhood
who have borrowed money of me, ay, and who have never repaid
what they borrowed; and there are a dozen squires who are
under considerable obligations to me, who I dare say will
never return them. Come, you need not be more scrupulous
than your superiors - I mean in station." "Every vessel must
stand on its own bottom," said I; "they take pleasure in
receiving obligations, I take pleasure in being independent.
Perhaps they are wise, and I am a fool, I know not, but one
thing I am certain of, which is, that were I not independent
I should be very unhappy: I should have no visions then."
"Have you any relations?" said the landlord, looking at me
compassionately; "excuse me, but I don't think you are
exactly fit to take care of yourself." "There you are
mistaken," said I, "I can take precious good care of myself;
ay, and can drive a precious hard bargain when I have
occasion, but driving bargains is a widely different thing
from receiving gifts. I am going to take my horse to
Horncastle, and when there I shall endeavour to obtain his
full value - ay to the last penny."
"Horncastle!" said the landlord, "I have heard of that place;
you mustn't be dreaming visions when you get there, or
they'll steal the horse from under you. Well," said he,
rising, "I shall not press you further on the subject of the
cheque. I intend, however, to put you under an obligation to
me." He then rang the bell, and having ordered two fresh
glasses to be brought, he went out and presently returned
with a small pint bottle, which he uncorked with his own
hand; then sitting down, he said, "The wine that I bring
here, is port of eighteen hundred and eleven, the year of the
comet, the best vintage on record; the wine which we have
been drinking," he added, "is good, but not to be compared
with this, which I never sell, and which I am chary of. When
you have drunk some of it, I think you will own that I have
conferred an obligation upon you;" he then filled the
glasses, the wine which he poured out diffusing an aroma
through the room; then motioning me to drink, he raised his
own glass to his lips, saying, "Come, friend, I drink to your
success at Horncastle."
Triumphal Departure - No Season like Youth - Extreme Old Age
- Beautiful England - The Ratcatcher - A Misadventure.
I DEPARTED from the inn much in the same fashion as I had
come to it, mounted on a splendid horse indifferently well
caparisoned, with the small valise attached to my crupper, in
which, besides the few things I had brought with me, was a
small book of roads with a map which had been presented to me
by the landlord. I must not forget to state that I did not
ride out of the yard, but that my horse was brought to me at
the front door by old Bill, who insisted upon doing so, and
who refused a five-shilling piece which I offered him; and it
will be as well to let the reader know that the landlord
shook me by the hand as I mounted, and that the people
attached to the inn, male and female - my friend the
postillion at the head - assembled before the house to see me
off, and gave me three cheers as I rode away. Perhaps no
person ever departed from an inn with more eclat or better
wishes; nobody looked at me askance, except two stagecoachmen
who were loitering about, one of whom said to his
companion, "I say, Jim! twig his portmanteau! a regular
Newmarket turn-out, by - !"
It was in the cool of the evening of a bright day - all the
days of that summer were bright - that I departed. I felt at
first rather melancholy at finding myself again launched into
the wide world, and leaving the friends whom I had lately
made behind me; but by occasionally trotting the horse, and
occasionally singing a song of Romanvile, I had dispelled the
feeling of melancholy by the time I had proceeded three miles
down the main road. It was at the end of these three miles,
just opposite a milestone, that I struck into a cross road.
After riding about seven miles, threading what are called, in
postillion parlance, cross-country roads, I reached another
high road, tending to the east, along which I proceeded for a
mile or two, when coming to a small inn, about nine o'clock,
I halted and put up for the night.
Early on the following morning I proceeded on my journey, but
fearing to gall the horse, I no longer rode him, but led him
by the bridle, until I came to a town at the distance of
about ten miles from the place where I had passed the night.
Here I stayed during the heat of the day, more on the horse's
account than my own, and towards evening resumed my journey,
leading the animal by the bridle as before; and in this
manner I proceeded for several days, travelling on an average
from twenty to twenty-five miles a day, always leading the
animal, except perhaps now and then of an evening, when, if I
saw a good piece of road before me, I would mount and put the
horse into a trot, which the creature seemed to enjoy as much
as myself, showing his satisfaction by snorting and neighing,
whilst I gave utterance to my own exhilaration by shouts, or
by "the chi she is kaulo she soves pre lakie dumo," or by
something else of the same kind in Romanvile.
On the whole, I journeyed along very pleasantly, certainly
quite as pleasantly as I do at present, now that I am become
a gentleman and weigh sixteen stone, though some people would
say that my present manner of travelling is much the most
preferable, riding as I now do, instead of leading my horse;
receiving the homage of ostlers instead of their familiar
nods; sitting down to dinner in the parlour of the best inn I
can find, instead of passing the brightest part of the day in
the kitchen of a village alehouse; carrying on my argument
after dinner on the subject of the corn-laws, with the best
commercial gentlemen on the road, instead of being glad,
whilst sipping a pint of beer, to get into conversation with
blind trampers, or maimed Abraham sailors, regaling
themselves on half-pints at the said village hostelries.
Many people will doubtless say that things have altered
wonderfully with me for the better, and they would say right,
provided I possessed now what I then carried about with me in
my journeys - the spirit of youth. Youth is the only season
for enjoyment, and the first twenty-five years of one's life
are worth all the rest of the longest life of man, even
though those five-and-twenty be spent in penury and contempt,
and the rest in the possession of wealth, honours,
respectability, ay, and many of them in strength and health,
such as will enable one to ride forty miles before dinner,
and over one's pint of port - for the best gentleman in the
land should not drink a bottle - carry on one's argument,
with gravity and decorum, with any commercial gentleman who,
responsive to one's challenge, takes the part of humanity and
common sense against "protection" and the lord of the land.
Ah! there is nothing like youth - not that after-life is
valueless. Even in extreme old age one may get on very well,
provided we will but accept of the bounties of God. I met
the other day an old man, who asked me to drink. "I am not
thirsty," said I, "and will not drink with you." "Yes, you
will," said the old man, "for I am this day one hundred years
old; and you will never again have an opportunity of drinking
the health of a man on his hundredth birthday." So I broke
my word, and drank. "Yours is a wonderful age," said I. "It
is a long time to look back to the beginning of it," said the
old man; "yet, upon the whole, I am not sorry to have lived
it all." "How have you passed your time?" said I. "As well
as I could," said the old man; "always enjoying a good thing
when it came honestly within my reach; not forgetting to
praise God for putting it there." "I suppose you were fond
of a glass of good ale when you were young?" "Yes," said the
old man, "I was; and so, thank God, I am still." And he
drank off a glass of ale.
On I went in my journey, traversing England from west to east
- ascending and descending hills - crossing rivers by bridge
and ferry - and passing over extensive plains. What a
beautiful country is England! People run abroad to see
beautiful countries, and leave their own behind unknown,
unnoticed - their own the most beautiful! And then, again,
what a country for adventures! especially to those who travel
on foot, or on horseback. People run abroad in quest of
adventures, and traverse Spain or Portugal on mule or on
horseback; whereas there are ten times more adventures to be
met with in England than in Spain, Portugal, or stupid
Germany to boot. Witness the number of adventures narrated
in the present book - a book entirely devoted to England.
Why, there is not a chapter in the present book which is not
full of adventures, with the exception of the present one,
and this is not yet terminated.
After traversing two or three counties, I reached the
confines of Lincolnshire. During one particularly hot day I
put up at a public-house, to which, in the evening, came a
party of harvesters to make merry, who, finding me wandering
about the house a stranger, invited me to partake of their
ale; so I drank with the harvesters, who sang me songs about
rural life, such as -
"Sitting in the swale; and listening to the swindle of the
flail, as it sounds dub-a-dub on the corn, from the
neighbouring barn."
In requital for which I treated them with a song, not of
Romanvile, but the song of "Sivory and the horse Grayman." I
remained with them till it was dark, having, after sunset,
entered into deep discourse with a celebrated ratcatcher, who
communicated to me the secrets of his trade, saying, amongst
other things, "When you see the rats pouring out of their
holes, and running up my hands and arms, it's not after me
they comes, but after the oils I carries about me they
comes;" and who subsequently spoke in the most enthusiastic
manner of his trade, saying that it was the best trade in the
world, and most diverting, and that it was likely to last for
ever; for whereas all other kinds of vermin were fast
disappearing from England, rats were every day becoming more
abundant. I had quitted this good company, and having
mounted my horse, was making my way towards a town at about
six miles' distance, at a swinging trot, my thoughts deeply
engaged on what I had gathered from the ratcatcher, when all
on a sudden a light glared upon the horse's face, who purled
round in great terror, and flung me out of the saddle, as
from a sling, or with as much violence as the horse Grayman,
in the ballad, flings Sivord the Snareswayne. I fell upon
the ground - felt a kind of crashing about my neck - and
forthwith became senseless.
A Novel Situation - The Elderly Individual - The Surgeon - A
Kind Offer - Chimerical Ideas - Strange Dream.
HOW long I remained senseless I cannot say, for a
considerable time, I believe; at length, opening my eyes, I
found myself lying on a bed in a middle-sized chamber,
lighted by a candle, which stood on a table - an elderly man
stood near me, and a yet more elderly female was holding a
phial of very pungent salts to my olfactory organ. I
attempted to move, but felt very stiff - my right arm
appeared nearly paralysed, and there was a strange dull
sensation in my head. "You had better remain still, young
man," said the elderly individual, "the surgeon will be here
presently; I have sent a message for him to the neighbouring
village." "Where am I?" said I, "and what has happened?"
"You are in my house," said the old man, "and you have been
flung from a horse. I am sorry to say that I was the cause.
As I was driving home, the lights in my gig frightened the
animal." "Where is the horse?" said I. "Below, in my
stable," said the elderly individual. "I saw you fall, but
knowing that on account of my age I could be of little use to
you, I instantly hurried home, the accident did not occur
more than a furlong off, and procuring the assistance of my
lad, and two or three neighbouring cottagers, I returned to
the spot where you were lying senseless. We raised you up,
and brought you here. My lad then went in quest of the
horse, who had run away as we drew nigh. When we saw him
first he was standing near you; he caught him with some
difficulty, and brought him home. What are you about?" said
the old man, as I strove to get off the bed. "I want to see
the horse," said I. "I entreat you to be still," said the
old man; "the horse is safe, I assure you." "I am thinking
about his knees," said I. "Instead of thinking about your
horse's knees," said the old man, "be thankful that you have
not broke your own neck." "You do not talk wisely," said I;
"when a man's neck is broke, he is provided for; but when his
horse's knees are broke, he is a lost jockey, that is, if he
has nothing but his horse to depend upon. A pretty figure I
should cut at Horncastle, mounted on a horse blood-raw at the
knees." "Oh, you are going to Horncastle," said the old man,
seriously, "then I can sympathize with you in your anxiety
about your horse, being a Lincolnshire man, and the son of
one who bred horses. I will myself go down into the stable,
and examine into the condition of your horse, so pray remain
quiet till I return; it would certainly be a terrible thing
to appear at Horncastle on a broken-kneed horse."
He left the room and returned in about ten minutes, followed
by another person. "Your horse is safe," said he, "and his
knees are unblemished; not a hair ruffled. He is a fine
animal, and will do credit to Horncastle; but here is the
surgeon come to examine into your own condition." The
surgeon was a man about thirty-five, thin, and rather tall;
his face was long and pale, and his hair, which was light,
was carefully combed back as much as possible from his
forehead. He was dressed very neatly, and spoke in a very
precise tone. "Allow me to feel your pulse, friend?" said
he, taking me by the right wrist. I uttered a cry, for at
the motion which he caused a thrill of agony darted through
my arm. "I hope your arm is not broke, my friend," said the
surgeon, "allow me to see; first of all, we must divest you
of this cumbrous frock."
The frock was removed with some difficulty, and then the
upper vestments of my frame, with more difficulty still. The
surgeon felt my arm, moving it up and down, causing me
unspeakable pain. "There is no fracture," said he, at last,
"but a contusion - a violent contusion. I am told you were
going to Horncastle; I am afraid you will be hardly able to
ride your horse thither in time to dispose of him; however,
we shall see - your arm must be bandaged, friend; after which
I shall bleed you, and administer a composing draught."
To be short, the surgeon did as he proposed, and when he had
administered the composing draught, he said, "Be of good
cheer; I should not be surprised if you are yet in time for
Horncastle." He then departed with the master of the house,
and the woman, leaving me to my repose. I soon began to feel
drowsy, and was just composing myself to slumber, lying on my
back, as the surgeon had advised me, when I heard steps
ascending the stairs, and in a moment more the surgeon
entered again, followed by the master of the house. "I hope
I don't disturb you," said the former; "my reason for
returning is to relieve your mind from any anxiety with
respect to your horse. I am by no means sure that you will
be able, owing to your accident, to reach Horncastle in time:
to quiet you, however, I will buy your horse for any
reasonable sum. I have been down to the stable, and approve
of his figure. What do you ask for him?" "This is a strange
time of night," said I, "to come to me about purchasing my
horse, and I am hardly in a fitting situation to be applied
to about such a matter. What do you want him for?" "For my
own use," said the surgeon; "I am a professional man, and am
obliged to be continually driving about; I cover at least one
hundred and fifty miles every week." "He will never answer
your purpose," said I, "he is not a driving horse, and was
never between shafts in his life; he is for riding, more
especially for trotting, at which he has few equals." "It
matters not to me whether he is for riding or driving," said
the surgeon, "sometimes I ride, sometimes drive; so, if we
can come to terms, I will buy him, though remember it is
chiefly to remove any anxiety from your mind about him."
"This is no time for bargaining," said I, "if you wish to
have the horse for a hundred guineas, you may; if not - " "A
hundred guineas!" said the surgeon, "my good friend, you must
surely be light-headed; allow me to feel your pulse," and he
attempted to feel my left wrist. "I am not light-headed,"
said I, "and I require no one to feel my pulse; but I should
be light-headed if I were to sell my horse for less than I
have demanded; but I have a curiosity to know what you would
be willing to offer." "Thirty pounds," said the surgeon, "is
all I can afford to give; and that is a great deal for a
country surgeon to offer for a horse." "Thirty pounds!" said
I, "why, he cost me nearly double that sum. To tell you the
truth, I am afraid that you want to take advantage of my
situation." "Not in the least, friend," said the surgeon,
"not in the least; I only wished to set your mind at rest
about your horse; but as you think he is worth more than I
can afford to offer, take him to Horncastle by all means; I
will do my best to cure you in time. Good night, I will see
you again on the morrow." Thereupon he once more departed
with the master of the house. "A sharp one," I heard him
say, with a laugh, as the door closed upon him.
Left to myself, I again essayed to compose myself to rest,
but for some time in vain. I had been terribly shaken by my
fall, and had subsequently, owing to the incision of the
surgeon's lancet, been deprived of much of the vital fluid;
it is when the body is in such a state that the merest
trifles affect and agitate the mind; no wonder, then, that
the return of the surgeon and the master of the house for the
purpose of inquiring whether I would sell my horse, struck me
as being highly extraordinary, considering the hour of the
night, and the situation in which they knew me to be. What
could they mean by such conduct - did they wish to cheat me
of the animal? "Well, well," said I, "if they did, what
matters, they found their match; yes, yes," said I, "but I am
in their power, perhaps" - but I instantly dismissed the
apprehension which came into my mind, with a pooh, nonsense!
In a little time, however, a far more foolish and chimerical
idea began to disturb me - the idea of being flung from my
horse; was I not disgraced for ever as a horseman by being
flung from my horse? Assuredly, I thought; and the idea of
being disgraced as a horseman, operating on my nervous
system, caused me very acute misery. "After all," said I to
myself, "it was perhaps the contemptible opinion which the
surgeon must have formed of my equestrian powers, which
induced him to offer to take my horse off my hands; he
perhaps thought I was unable to manage a horse, and therefore
in pity returned in the dead of night to offer to purchase
the animal which had flung me;" and then the thought that the
surgeon had conceived a contemptible opinion of my equestrian
powers, caused me the acutest misery, and continued
tormenting me until some other idea (I have forgot what it
was, but doubtless equally foolish) took possession of my
mind. At length, brought on by the agitation of my spirits,
there came over me the same feeling of horror that I had
experienced of old when I was a boy, and likewise of late
within the dingle; it was, however, not so violent as it had
been on those occasions, and I struggled manfully against it,
until by degrees it passed away, and then I fell asleep; and
in my sleep I had an ugly dream. I dreamt that I had died of
the injuries I had received from my fall, and that no sooner
had my soul departed from my body than it entered that of a
quadruped, even my own horse in the stable - in a word, I
was, to all intents and purposes, my own steed; and as I
stood in the stable chewing hay (and I remember that the hay
was exceedingly tough), the door opened, and the surgeon who
had attended me came in. "My good animal," said he, "as your
late master has scarcely left enough to pay for the expenses
of his funeral, and nothing to remunerate me for my trouble,
I shall make bold to take possession of you. If your paces
are good, I shall keep you for my own riding; if not, I shall
take you to Horncastle, your original destination." He then
bridled and saddled me, and, leading me out, mounted, and
then trotted me up and down before the house, at the door of
which the old man, who now appeared to be dressed in regular
jockey fashion, was standing. "I like his paces well," said
the surgeon; "I think I shall take him for my own use." "And
what am I to have for all the trouble his master caused me?"
said my late entertainer, on whose countenance I now
observed, for the first time, a diabolical squint. "The
consciousness of having done your duty to a fellow-creature
in succouring him in a time of distress, must be your
reward," said the surgeon. "Pretty gammon, truly," said my
late entertainer; "what would you say if I were to talk in
that way to you? Come, unless you choose to behave jonnock,
I shall take the bridle and lead the horse back into the
stable." "Well," said the surgeon, "we are old friends, and
I don't wish to dispute with you, so I'll tell you what I
will do; I will ride the animal to Horncastle, and we will
share what he fetches like brothers." "Good," said the old
man, "but if you say that you have sold him for less than a
hundred, I shan't consider you jonnock; remember what the
young fellow said - that young fellow - " I heard no more,
for the next moment I found myself on a broad road leading,
as I supposed, in the direction of Horncastle, the surgeon
still in the saddle, and my legs moving at a rapid trot.
"Get on," said the surgeon, jerking my mouth with the bit;
whereupon, full of rage, I instantly set off at a full
gallop, determined, if possible, to dash my rider to the
earth. The surgeon, however, kept his seat, and, so far from
attempting to abate my speed, urged me on to greater efforts
with a stout stick, which methought he held in his hand. In
vain did I rear and kick, attempting to get rid of my foe;
but the surgeon remained as saddle-fast as ever the Maugrabin
sorcerer in the Arabian tale what time he rode the young
prince transformed into a steed to his enchanted palace in
the wilderness. At last, as I was still madly dashing on,
panting and blowing, and had almost given up all hope, I saw
at a distance before me a heap of stones by the side of the
road, probably placed there for the purpose of repairing it;
a thought appeared to strike me - I will shy at those stones,
and, if I can't get rid of him so, resign myself to my fate.
So I increased my speed, till arriving within about ten yards
of the heap, I made a desperate start, turning half round
with nearly the velocity of a mill-stone. Oh, the joy I
experienced when I felt my enemy canted over my neck, and saw
him lying senseless in the road. "I have you now in my
power," I said, or rather neighed, as, going up to my
prostrate foe, I stood over him. "Suppose I were to rear
now, and let my fore feet fall upon you, what would your life
be worth? that is, supposing you are not killed already; but
lie there, I will do you no further harm, but trot to
Horncastle without a rider, and when there - " and without
further reflection off I trotted in the direction of
Horncastle, but had not gone far before my bridle, falling
from my neck, got entangled with my off fore foot. I felt
myself falling, a thrill of agony shot through me - my knees
would be broken, and what should I do at Horncastle with a
pair of broken knees? I struggled, but I could not disengage
my off fore foot, and downward I fell, but before I had
reached the ground I awoke, and found myself half out of bed,
my bandaged arm in considerable pain, and my left hand just
touching the floor.
With some difficulty I readjusted myself in bed. It was now
early morning, and the first rays of the sun were beginning
to penetrate the white curtains of a window on my left, which
probably looked into the garden, as I caught a glimpse or two
of the leaves of trees through a small uncovered part at the
side. For some time I felt uneasy and anxious, my spirits
being in a strange fluttering state. At last my eyes fell
upon a small row of tea-cups seemingly of china, which stood
on a mantelpiece exactly fronting the bottom of the bed. The
sight of these objects, I know not why, soothed and pacified
me; I kept my eyes fixed upon them, as I lay on my back on
the bed, with my head upon the pillow, till at last I fell
into a calm and refreshing sleep.
The Morning after a Fall - The Teapot - Unpretending
Hospitality - The Chinese Student.
IT might be about eight o'clock in the morning when I was
awakened by the entrance of the old man. "How have you
rested?" said he, coming up to the bedside, and looking me in
the face. "Well," said I, "and I feel much better, but I am
still very sore." I surveyed him now for the first time with
attention. He was dressed in a sober-coloured suit, and was
apparently between sixty and seventy. In stature he was
rather above the middle height, but with a slight stoop; his
features were placid, and expressive of much benevolence,
but, as it appeared to me, with rather a melancholy cast - as
I gazed upon them, I felt ashamed that I should ever have
conceived in my brain a vision like that of the preceding
night, in which he appeared in so disadvantageous a light.
At length he said, "It is now time for you to take some
refreshment. I hear my old servant coming up with your
breakfast." In a moment the elderly female entered with a
tray, on which was some bread and butter, a teapot and cup.
The cup was of common blue earthenware, but the pot was of
china, curiously fashioned, and seemingly of great antiquity.
The old man poured me out a cupful of tea, and then, with the
assistance of the woman, raised me higher, and propped me up
with the pillows. I ate and drank; when the pot was emptied
of its liquid (it did not contain much), I raised it up with
my left hand to inspect it. The sides were covered with
curious characters, seemingly hieroglyphics. After surveying
them for some time, I replaced it upon the tray. "You seem
fond of china," said I, to the old man, after the servant had
retired with the breakfast things, and I had returned to my
former posture; "you have china on the mantelpiece, and that
was a remarkable teapot out of which I have just been
The old man fixed his eyes intently on me, and methought the
expression of his countenance became yet more melancholy.
"Yes," said he, at last, "I am fond of china - I have reason
to be fond of china - but for china I should - " and here he
sighed again.
"You value it for the quaintness and singularity of its
form," said I; "it appears to be less adapted for real use
than our own pottery."
"I care little about its form," said the old man; "I care for
it simply on account of - however, why talk to you on the
subject which can have no possible interest to you? I expect
the surgeon here presently."
"I do not like that surgeon at all," said I; "how strangely
he behaved last night, coming back, when I was just falling
asleep, to ask me if I would sell my horse."
The old man smiled. "He has but one failing," said he, "an
itch for horse-dealing; but for that he might be a much
richer man than he is; he is continually buying and
exchanging horses, and generally finds himself a loser by his
bargains: but he is a worthy creature, and skilful in his
profession - it is well for you that you are under his care."
The old man then left me, and in about an hour returned with
the surgeon, who examined me and reported favourably as to my
case. He spoke to me with kindness and feeling, and did not
introduce the subject of the horse. I asked him whether he
thought I should be in time for the fair. "I saw some people
making their way thither to-day," said he; "the fair lasts
three weeks, and it has just commenced. Yes, I think I may
promise you that you will be in time for the very heat of it.
In a few days you will be able to mount your saddle with your
arm in a sling, but you must by no means appear with your arm
in a sling at Horncastle, as people would think that your
horse had flung you, and that you wanted to dispose of him
because he was a vicious brute. You must, by all means, drop
the sling before you get to Horncastle."
For three days I kept my apartment by the advice of the
surgeon. I passed my time as I best could. Stretched on my
bed, I either abandoned myself to reflection, or listened to
the voices of the birds in the neighbouring garden.
Sometimes, as I lay awake at night, I would endeavour to
catch the tick of a clock, which methought sounded from some
distant part of the house.
The old man visited me twice or thrice every day to inquire
into my state. His words were few on these occasions, and he
did not stay long. Yet his voice and his words were kind.
What surprised me most in connection with this individual
was, the delicacy of conduct which he exhibited in not
letting a word proceed from his lips which could testify
curiosity respecting who I was, or whence I came. All he
knew of me was, that I had been flung from my horse on my way
to a fair for the purpose of disposing of the animal; and
that I was now his guest. I might be a common horse-dealer
for what he knew, yet I was treated by him with all the
attention which I could have expected, had I been an alderman
of Boston's heir, and known to him as such. The county in
which I am now, thought I at last, must be either
extraordinarily devoted to hospitality, or this old host of
mine must be an extraordinary individual. On the evening of
the fourth day, feeling tired of my confinement, I put my
clothes on in the best manner I could, and left the chamber.
Descending a flight of stairs, I reached a kind of
quadrangle, from which branched two or three passages; one of
these I entered, which had a door at the farther end, and one
on each side; the one to the left standing partly open, I
entered it, and found myself in a middle-sized room with a
large window, or rather glass-door, which looked into a
garden, and which stood open. There was nothing remarkable
in this room, except a large quantity of china. There was
china on the mantelpiece - china on two tables, and a small
beaufet, which stood opposite the glass-door, was covered
with china - there were cups, teapots, and vases of various
forms, and on all of them I observed characters - not a
teapot, not a tea-cup, not a vase of whatever form or size,
but appeared to possess hieroglyphics on some part or other.
After surveying these articles for some time with no little
interest, I passed into the garden, in which there were small
parterres of flowers, and two or three trees, and which,
where the house did not abut, was bounded by a wall; turning
to the right by a walk by the side of a house, I passed by a
door - probably the one I had seen at the end of the passage
- and arrived at another window similar to that through which
I had come, and which also stood open; I was about to pass
through it, when I heard the voice of my entertainer
exclaiming, "Is that you? pray come in."
I entered the room, which seemed to be a counterpart of the
one which I had just left. It was of the same size, had the
same kind of furniture, and appeared to be equally well
stocked with china; one prominent article it possessed,
however, which the other room did not exhibit - namely, a
clock, which, with its pendulum moving tick-a-tick, hung
against the wall opposite to the door, the sight of which
made me conclude that the sound which methought I had heard
in the stillness of the night was not an imaginary one.
There it hung on the wall, with its pendulum moving tick-atick.
The old gentleman was seated in an easy chair a little
way into the room, having the glass-door on his right hand.
On a table before him lay a large open volume, in which I
observed Roman letters as well as characters. A few inches
beyond the book on the table, covered all over with
hieroglyphics, stood a china vase. The eyes of the old man
were fixed upon it.
"Sit down," said he, motioning me with his hand to a stool
close by, but without taking his eyes from the vase.
"I can't make it out," said he, at last, removing his eyes
from the vase, and leaning back on the chair, "I can't make
it out."
"I wish I could assist you," said I.
"Assist me," said the old man, looking at me with a half
"Yes," said I, "but I don't understand Chinese."
"I suppose not," said the old man, with another slight smile;
"but - but - "
"Pray proceed," said I.
"I wished to ask you," said the old man, "how you knew that
the characters on yon piece of crockery were Chinese; or,
indeed, that there was such a language?"
"I knew the crockery was china," said I, "and naturally
enough supposed what was written upon it to be Chinese; as
for there being such a language - the English have a
language, the French have a language, and why not the
"May I ask you a question?"
"As many as you like."
"Do you know any language besides English?"
"Yes," said I, "I know a little of two or three."
"May I ask their names?"
"Why not?" said I, "I know a little French."
"Anything else?"
"Yes, a little Welsh, and a little Haik."
"What is Haik?"
"I am glad to see you in my house," said the old man, shaking
me by the hand; "how singular that one coming as you did
should know Armenian!"
"Not more singular," said I, "than that one living in such a
place as this should know Chinese. How came you to acquire
The old man looked at me, and sighed. "I beg pardon," said
I, "for asking what is, perhaps, an impertinent question; I
have not imitated your own delicacy; you have never asked me
a question without first desiring permission, and here I have
been days and nights in your house an intruder on your
hospitality, and you have never so much as asked me who I
"In forbearing to do that," said the old man, "I merely
obeyed the Chinese precept, 'Ask no questions of a guest;' it
is written on both sides of the teapot out of which you have
had your tea."
"I wish I knew Chinese," said I. "Is it a difficult language
to acquire?"
"I have reason to think so," said the old man. "I have been
occupied upon it five-and-thirty years, and I am still very
imperfectly acquainted with it; at least, I frequently find
upon my crockery sentences the meaning of which to me is very
dark, though it is true these sentences are mostly verses,
which are, of course, more difficult to understand than mere
"Are your Chinese studies," said I, "confined to crockery
"Entirely," said the old man; "I read nothing else."
"I have heard," said I, "that the Chinese have no letters,
but that for every word they have a separate character - is
it so?"
"For every word they have a particular character," said the
old man; "though, to prevent confusion, they have arranged
their words under two hundred and fourteen what we should
call radicals, but which they call keys. As we arrange all
our words in a dictionary under twenty-four letters, so do
they arrange all their words, or characters, under two
hundred and fourteen radical signs; the simplest radicals
being the first, and the more complex the last."
"Does the Chinese resemble any of the European languages in
words?" said I.
"I am scarcely competent to inform you," said the old man;
"but I believe not."
"What does that character represent?" said I, pointing to one
on the vase.
"A knife," said the old man, "that character is one of the
simplest radicals or keys."
"And what is the sound of it?" said I.
"Tau," said the old man.
"Tau!" said I; "tau!"
"A strange word for a knife is it not?" said the old man.
"Tawse!" said I; "tawse!"
"What is tawse?" said the old man.
"You were never at school at Edinburgh, I suppose?"
"Never," said the old man.
"That accounts for your not knowing the meaning of tawse,"
said I; "had you received the rudiments of a classical
education at the High School, you would have known the
meaning of tawse full well. It is a leathern thong, with
which refractory urchins are recalled to a sense of their
duty by the dominie. Tau - tawse - how singular!"
"I cannot see what the two words have in common, except a
slight agreement in sound."
"You will see the connection," said I, "when I inform you
that the thong, from the middle to the bottom, is cut or slit
into two or three parts, from which slits or cuts, unless I
am very much mistaken, it derives its name - tawse, a thong
with slits or cuts, used for chastising disorderly urchins at
the High School, from the French tailler, to cut; evidently
connected with the Chinese tau, a knife - how very
Convalescence - The Surgeon's Bill - Letter of Recommendation
- Commencement of the Old Man's History.
TWO days - three days passed away - and I still remained at
the house of my hospitable entertainer; my bruised limb
rapidly recovering the power of performing its functions. I
passed my time agreeably enough, sometimes in my chamber,
communing with my own thoughts; sometimes in the stable,
attending to, and not unfrequently conversing with, my horse;
and at meal-time - for I seldom saw him at any other -
discoursing with the old gentleman, sometimes on the Chinese
vocabulary, sometimes on Chinese syntax, and once or twice on
English horseflesh; though on this latter subject,
notwithstanding his descent from a race of horse-traders, he
did not enter into with much alacrity. As a small requital
for his kindness, I gave him one day, after dinner, unasked,
a brief account of my history and pursuits. He listened with
attention; and when it was concluded, thanked me for the
confidence which I had reposed in him. "Such conduct," said
he, "deserves a return. I will tell you my own history; it
is brief, but may perhaps not prove uninteresting to you -
though the relation of it will give me some pain." "Pray,
then, do not recite it," said I. "Yes," said the old man, "I
will tell you, for I wish you to know it." He was about to
begin, when he was interrupted by the arrival of the surgeon.
The surgeon examined into the state of my bruised limb, and
told me, what indeed I already well knew, that it was rapidly
improving. "You will not even require a sling," said he, "to
ride to Horncastle. When do you propose going?" he demanded.
"When do you think I may venture?" I replied. "I think, if
you are a tolerably good horseman, you may mount the day
after to-morrow," answered the medical man. "By-the-bye, are
you acquainted with anybody at Horncastle?" "With no living
soul," I answered. "Then you would scarcely find stable-room
for your horse. But I am happy to be able to assist you. I
have a friend there who keeps a small inn, and who, during
the time of the fair, keeps a stall vacant for any quadruped
I may bring, until he knows whether I am coming or not. I
will give you a letter to him, and he will see after the
accommodation of your horse. To-morrow I will pay you a
farewell visit, and bring you the letter." "Thank you," said
I; "and do not forget to bring your bill." The surgeon
looked at the old man, who gave him a peculiar nod. "Oh!"
said he, in reply to me, "for the little service I have
rendered you, I require no remuneration. You are in my
friend's house, and he and I understand each other." "I
never receive such favours," said I, "as you have rendered
me, without remunerating them; therefore I shall expect your
bill." "Oh! just as you please," said the surgeon; and
shaking me by the hand more warmly than he had hitherto done,
he took his leave.
On the evening of the next day, the last which I spent with
my kind entertainer, I sat at tea with him in a little
summer-house in his garden, partially shaded by the boughs of
a large fig-tree. The surgeon had shortly before paid me his
farewell visit, and had brought me the letter of introduction
to his friend at Horncastle, and also his bill, which I found
anything but extravagant. After we had each respectively
drank the contents of two cups - and it may not be amiss here
to inform the reader that though I took cream with my tea, as
I always do when I can procure that addition, the old man,
like most people bred up in the country, drank his without it
- he thus addressed me:- "I am, as I told you on the night of
your accident, the son of a breeder of horses, a respectable
and honest man. When I was about twenty he died, leaving me,
his only child, a comfortable property, consisting of about
two hundred acres of land and some fifteen hundred pounds in
money. My mother had died about three years previously. I
felt the death of my mother keenly, but that of my father
less than was my duty; indeed, truth compels me to
acknowledge that I scarcely regretted his death. The cause
of this want of proper filial feeling was the opposition
which I had experienced from him in an affair which deeply
concerned me. I had formed an attachment for a young female
in the neighbourhood, who, though poor, was of highly
respectable birth, her father having been a curate of the
Established Church. She was, at the time of which I am
speaking, an orphan, having lost both her parents, and
supported herself by keeping a small school. My attachment
was returned, and we had pledged our vows, but my father, who
could not reconcile himself to her lack of fortune, forbade
our marriage in the most positive terms. He was wrong, for
she was a fortune in herself - amiable and accomplished. Oh!
I cannot tell you all she was - " and here the old man drew
his hand across his eyes. "By the death of my father, the
only obstacle to our happiness appeared to be removed. We
agreed, therefore, that our marriage should take place within
the course of a year; and I forthwith commenced enlarging my
house and getting my affairs in order. Having been left in
the easy circumstances which I have described, I determined
to follow no business, but to pass my life in a strictly
domestic manner, and to be very, very happy. Amongst other
property derived from my father were several horses, which I
disposed of in this neighbourhood, with the exception of two
remarkably fine ones, which I determined to take to the next
fair at Horncastle, the only place where I expected to be
able to obtain what I considered to be their full value. At
length the time arrived for the commencement of the fair,
which was within three months of the period which my beloved
and myself had fixed upon for the celebration of our
nuptials. To the fair I went, a couple of trusty men
following me with the horses. I soon found a purchaser for
the animals, a portly, plausible person, of about forty,
dressed in a blue riding coat, brown top boots, and leather
breeches. There was a strange-looking urchin with him,
attired in nearly similar fashion, with a beam in one of his
eyes, who called him father. The man paid me for the
purchase in bank-notes - three fifty-pound notes for the two
horses. As we were about to take leave of each other, he
suddenly produced another fifty-pound note, inquiring whether
I could change it, complaining, at the same time, of the
difficulty of procuring change in the fair. As I happened to
have plenty of small money in my possession, and as I felt
obliged to him for having purchased my horses at what I
considered to be a good price, I informed him that I should
be very happy to accommodate him; so I changed him the note,
and he, having taken possession of the horses, went his way,
and I myself returned home.
"A month passed; during this time I paid away two of the
notes which I had received at Horncastle from the dealer -
one of them in my immediate neighbourhood, and the other at a
town about fifteen miles distant, to which I had repaired for
the purpose of purchasing some furniture. All things seemed
to be going on most prosperously, and I felt quite happy,
when one morning, as I was overlooking some workmen who were
employed about my house, I was accosted by a constable, who
informed me that he was sent to request my immediate
appearance before a neighbouring bench of magistrates.
Concluding that I was merely summoned on some unimportant
business connected with the neighbourhood, I felt no
surprise, and forthwith departed in company with the officer.
The demeanour of the man upon the way struck me as somewhat
singular. I had frequently spoken to him before, and had
always found him civil and respectful, but he was now
reserved and sullen, and replied to two or three questions
which I put to him in anything but a courteous manner. On
arriving at the place where the magistrates were sitting - an
inn at a small town about two miles distant - I found a more
than usual number of people assembled, who appeared to be
conversing with considerable eagerness. At sight of me they
became silent, but crowded after me as I followed the man
into the magistrates' room. There I found the tradesman to
whom I had paid the note for the furniture at the town
fifteen miles off in attendance, accompanied by an agent of
the Bank of England; the former, it seems, had paid the note
into a provincial bank, the proprietors of which, discovering
it to be a forgery, had forthwith written up to the Bank of
England, who had sent down their agent to investigate the
matter. A third individual stood beside them - the person in
my own immediate neighbourhood to whom I had paid the second
note; this, by some means or other, before the coming down of
the agent, had found its way to the same provincial bank, and
also being pronounced a forgery, it had speedily been traced
to the person to whom I had paid it. It was owing to the
apparition of this second note that the agent had determined,
without further inquiry, to cause me to be summoned before
the rural tribunal.
"In a few words the magistrates' clerk gave me to understand
the state of the case. I was filled with surprise and
consternation. I knew myself to be perfectly innocent of any
fraudulent intention, but at the time of which I am speaking
it was a matter fraught with the greatest danger to be mixed
up, however innocently, with the passing of false money. The
law with respect to forgery was terribly severe, and the
innocent as well as the guilty occasionally suffered. Of
this I was not altogether ignorant; unfortunately, however,
in my transactions with the stranger, the idea of false notes
being offered to me, and my being brought into trouble by
means of them, never entered my mind. Recovering myself a
little, I stated that the notes in question were two of three
notes which I had received at Horncastle, for a pair of
horses, which it was well known I had carried thither.
"Thereupon, I produced from my pocket-book the third note,
which was forthwith pronounced a forgery. I had scarcely
produced the third note, when I remembered the one which I
had changed for the Horncastle dealer, and with the
remembrance came the almost certain conviction that it was
also a forgery; I was tempted for a moment to produce it, and
to explain the circumstance - would to God I had done so! -
but shame at the idea of having been so wretchedly duped
prevented me, and the opportunity was lost. I must confess
that the agent of the bank behaved, upon the whole, in a very
handsome manner; he said that as it was quite evident that I
had disposed of certain horses at the fair, it was very
probable that I might have received the notes in question in
exchange for them, and that he was willing, as he had
received a very excellent account of my general conduct, to
press the matter no farther, that is, provided - " And here
he stopped. Thereupon, one of the three magistrates, who
were present, asked me whether I chanced to have any more of
these spurious notes in my possession. He certainly had a
right to ask the question; but there was something peculiar
in his tone-insinuating suspicion. It is certainly difficult
to judge of the motives which rule a person's conduct, but I
cannot help imagining that he was somewhat influenced in his
behaviour on that occasion, which was anything but friendly,
by my having refused to sell him the horses at a price less
than that which I expected to get at the fair; be this as it
may, the question filled me with embarrassment, and I
bitterly repented not having at first been more explicit.
Thereupon the magistrate in the same kind of tone, demanded
to see my pocket-book. I knew that to demur would be
useless, and produced it, and therewith, amongst two or three
small country notes, appeared the fourth which I had received
from the Horncastle dealer. The agent took it up and
examined it with attention. 'Well, is it a genuine note?'
asked the magistrate. 'I am sorry to say that it is not,'
said the agent; 'it is a forgery, like the other three.' The
magistrate shrugged his shoulders, as indeed did several
people in the room. 'A regular dealer in forged notes,' said
a person close behind me; 'who would have thought it?'
"Seeing matters begin to look so serious, I aroused myself,
and endeavoured to speak in my own behalf, giving a candid
account of the manner in which I became possessed of the
notes; but my explanation did not appear to meet much credit;
the magistrate, to whom I have in particular alluded, asked,
why I had not at once stated the fact of my having received a
fourth note; and the agent, though in a very quiet tone,
observed that he could not help thinking it somewhat strange
that I should have changed a note of so much value for a
perfect stranger, even supposing that he had purchased my
horses, and had paid me their value in hard cash; and I
noticed that he laid particular emphasis on the last words.
I might have observed that I was an inexperienced young man,
who, meaning no harm myself, suspected none in others, but I
was confused, stunned, and my tongue seemed to cleave to the
roof of my mouth. The men who had taken my horses to
Horncastle, and for whom I had sent, as they lived close at
hand, now arrived, but the evidence which they could give was
anything but conclusive in my favour; they had seen me in
company with an individual at Horncastle, to whom, by my
orders, they had delivered certain horses, but they had seen
no part of the money transaction; the fellow, whether from
design or not, having taken me aside into a retired place,
where he had paid me the three spurious notes, and induced me
to change the fourth, which throughout the affair was what
bore most materially against me. How matters might have
terminated I do not know, I might have gone to prison, and I
might have been - just then, when I most needed a friend, and
least expected to find one, for though amongst those present
there were several who were my neighbours, and who had
professed friendship for me, none of them when they saw that
I needed support and encouragement, came forward to yield me
any, but, on the contrary, appeared by their looks to enjoy
my terror and confusion - just then a friend entered the room
in the person of the surgeon of the neighbourhood, the father
of him who has attended you; he was not on very intimate
terms with me, but he had occasionally spoken to me, and had
attended my father in his dying illness, and chancing to hear
that I was in trouble, he now hastened to assist me. After a
short preamble, in which he apologized to the bench for
interfering, he begged to be informed of the state of the
case, whereupon the matter was laid before him in all its
details. He was not slow in taking a fair view of it, and
spoke well and eloquently in my behalf - insisting on the
improbability that a person of my habits and position would
be wilfully mixed up with a transaction like that of which it
appeared I was suspected - adding, that as he was fully
convinced of my innocence, he was ready to enter into any
surety with respect to my appearance at any time to answer
anything which might be laid to my charge. This last
observation had particular effect, and as he was a person
universally respected, both for his skill in his profession
and his general demeanour, people began to think that a
person in whom he took an interest could scarcely be
concerned in anything criminal, and though my friend the
magistrate - I call him so ironically - made two or three
demurs, it was at last agreed between him and his brethren of
the bench, that, for the present, I should be merely called
upon to enter into my own recognizance for the sum of two
hundred pounds, to appear whenever it should be deemed
requisite to enter into any further investigation of the
"So I was permitted to depart from the tribunal of petty
justice without handcuffs, and uncollared by a constable; but
people looked coldly and suspiciously upon me. The first
thing I did was to hasten to the house of my beloved, in
order to inform her of every circumstance attending the
transaction. I found her, but how? A malicious female
individual had hurried to her with a distorted tale, to the
effect that I had been taken up as an utterer of forged
notes; that an immense number had been found in my
possession; that I was already committed, and that probably I
should be executed. My affianced one tenderly loved me, and
her constitution was delicate; fit succeeded fit; she broke a
blood-vessel, and I found her deluged in blood; the surgeon
had been sent for; he came and afforded her every possible
relief. I was distracted; he bade me have hope, but I
observed he looked very grave.
"By the skill of the surgeon, the poor girl was saved in the
first instance from the arms of death, and for a few weeks
she appeared to be rapidly recovering; by degrees, however,
she became melancholy; a worm preyed upon her spirit; a slow
fever took possession of her frame. I subsequently learned
that the same malicious female who had first carried to her
an exaggerated account of the affair, and who was a distant
relative of her own, frequently visited her, and did all in
her power to excite her fears with respect to its eventual
termination. Time passed on in a very wretched manner. Our
friend the surgeon showing to us both every mark of kindness
and attention.
"It was owing to this excellent man that my innocence was
eventually established. Having been called to a town on the
borders of Yorkshire to a medical consultation, he chanced to
be taking a glass of wine with the landlord of the inn at
which he stopped, when the waiter brought in a note to be
changed, saying 'That the Quaker gentleman, who had been for
some days in the house, and was about to depart, had sent it
to be changed, in order that he might pay his bill.' The
landlord took the note, and looked at it. 'A fifty-pound
bill,' said he; 'I don't like changing bills of that amount,
lest they should prove bad ones; however, as it comes from a
Quaker gentleman, I suppose it is all right.' The mention of
a fifty-pound note aroused the attention of my friend, and he
requested to be permitted to look at it; he had scarcely seen
it, when he was convinced that it was one of the same
description as those which had brought me into trouble, as it
corresponded with them in two particular features, which the
agent of the bank had pointed out to him and others as
evidence of their spuriousness. My friend, without a
moment's hesitation, informed the landlord that the note was
a bad one, expressing at the same time a great wish to see
the Quaker gentleman who wanted to have it changed. 'That
you can easily do,' said the landlord, and forthwith
conducted him into the common room, where he saw a
respectable-looking man, dressed like a Quaker, and seemingly
about sixty years of age.
"My friend, after a short apology, showed him the note which
he held in his hand, stating that he had no doubt it was a
spurious one, and begged to be informed where he had taken
it, adding, that a particular friend of his was at present in
trouble, owing to his having taken similar notes from a
stranger at Horncastle; but that he hoped that he, the
Quaker, could give information, by means of which the guilty
party, or parties, could be arrested. At the mention of
Horncastle, it appeared to my friend that the Quaker gave a
slight start. At the conclusion of this speech, however, he
answered, with great tranquillity, that he had received it in
the way of business at -, naming one of the principal towns
in Yorkshire, from a very respectable person, whose name he
was perfectly willing to communicate, and likewise his own,
which he said was James, and that he was a merchant residing
at Liverpool; that he would write to his friend at -,
requesting him to make inquiries on the subject; that just at
that moment he was in a hurry to depart, having some
particular business at a town about ten miles off, to go to
which he had bespoken a post-chaise of the landlord; that
with respect to the note, it was doubtless a very
disagreeable thing to have a suspicious one in his
possession, but that it would make little difference to him,
as he had plenty of other money, and thereupon he pulled out
a purse, containing various other notes, and some gold,
observing, 'that his only motive for wishing to change the
other note was a desire to be well provided with change;' and
finally, that if they had any suspicion with respect to him,
he was perfectly willing to leave the note in their
possession till he should return, which he intended to do in
about a fortnight. There was so much plausibility in the
speech of the Quaker, and his appearance and behaviour were
so perfectly respectable, that my friend felt almost ashamed
of the suspicion which at first he had entertained of him,
though, at the same time, he felt an unaccountable
unwillingness to let the man depart without some further
interrogation. The landlord, however, who did not wish to
disoblige one who had been, and might probably be again, a
profitable customer, declared that he was perfectly
satisfied; and that he had no wish to detain the note, which
he made no doubt the gentleman had received in the way of
business, and that as the matter concerned him alone, he
would leave it to him to make the necessary inquiries. 'Just
as you please, friend,' said the Quaker, pocketing the
suspicious note, 'I will now pay my bill.' Thereupon he
discharged the bill with a five-pound note, which he begged
the landlord to inspect carefully, and with two pieces of
"The landlord had just taken the money, receipted the bill,
and was bowing to his customer, when the door opened, and a
lad, dressed in a kind of grey livery, appeared, and informed
the Quaker that the chaise was ready. 'Is that boy your
servant?' said the surgeon. 'He is, friend,' said the
Quaker. 'Hast thou any reason for asking me that question?'
'And has he been long in your service?' 'Several years,'
replied the Quaker, 'I took him into my house out of
compassion, he being an orphan, but as the chaise is waiting,
I will bid thee farewell.' 'I am afraid I must stop your
journey for the present,' said the surgeon; 'that boy has
exactly the same blemish in the eye which a boy had who was
in company with the man at Horncastle, from whom my friend
received the forged notes, and who there passed for his son.'
'I know nothing about that,' said the Quaker, 'but I am
determined to be detained here no longer, after the
satisfactory account which I have given as to the note's
coming into my possession.' He then attempted to leave the
room, but my friend detained him, a struggle ensued, during
which a wig which the Quaker wore fell off, whereupon he
instantly appeared to lose some twenty years of his age.
'Knock the fellow down, father,' said the boy, 'I'll help
"And, forsooth, the pretended Quaker took the boy's advice,
and knocked my friend down in a twinkling. The landlord,
however, and waiter, seeing how matters stood, instantly laid
hold of him; but there can be no doubt that he would have
escaped from the whole three, had not certain guests who were
in the house, hearing the noise, rushed in, and helped to
secure him. The boy was true to his word, assisting him to
the best of his ability, flinging himself between the legs of
his father's assailants, causing several of them to stumble
and fall. At length, the fellow was secured, and led before
a magistrate; the boy, to whom he was heard to say something
which nobody understood, and to whom, after the man's
capture, no one paid much attention, was no more seen.
"The rest, as far as this man was concerned, may be told in a
few words; nothing to criminate him was found on his person,
but on his baggage being examined, a quantity of spurious
notes were discovered. Much of his hardihood now forsook
him, and in the hope of saving his life he made some very
important disclosures; amongst other things, he confessed
that it was he who had given me the notes in exchange for the
horses, and also the note to be changed. He was subsequently
tried on two indictments, in the second of which I appeared
against him. He was condemned to die; but, in consideration
of the disclosures he had made, his sentence was commuted to
perpetual transportation.
"My innocence was thus perfectly established before the eyes
of the world, and all my friends hastened to congratulate me.
There was one who congratulated me more than all the rest -
it was my beloved one, but - but - she was dying - "
Here the old man drew his hand before his eyes, and remained
for some time without speaking; at length he removed his
hand, and commenced again with a broken voice: "You will
pardon me if I hurry over this part of my story, I am unable
to dwell upon it. How dwell upon a period when I saw my only
earthly treasure pine away gradually day by day, and knew
that nothing could save her! She saw my agony, and did all
she could to console me, saying that she was herself quite
resigned. A little time before her death she expressed a
wish that we should be united. I was too happy to comply
with her request. We were united, I brought her to this
house, where, in less than a week, she expired in my arms."
The Old Man's Story continued - Misery in the Head - The
Strange Marks - Tea-dealer from London - Difficulties of the
Chinese Language.
AFTER another pause the old man once more resumed his
narration:- "If ever there was a man perfectly miserable it
was myself, after the loss of that cherished woman. I sat
solitary in the house, in which I had hoped in her company to
realize the choicest earthly happiness, a prey to the
bitterest reflections; many people visited, and endeavoured
to console me - amongst them was the clergyman of the parish,
who begged me to be resigned, and told me that it was good to
be afflicted. I bowed my head, but I could not help thinking
how easy it must be for those who feel no affliction, to bid
others to be resigned, and to talk of the benefit resulting
from sorrow; perhaps I should have paid more attention to his
discourse than I did, provided he had been a person for whom
it was possible to entertain much respect, but his own heart
was known to be set on the things of this world.
"Within a little time he had an opportunity, in his own case,
of practising resignation, and of realizing the benefit of
being afflicted. A merchant, to whom he had entrusted all
his fortune, in the hope of a large interest, became suddenly
a bankrupt, with scarcely any assets. I will not say that it
was owing to this misfortune that the divine died in less
than a month after its occurrence, but such was the fact.
Amongst those who most frequently visited me was my friend
the surgeon; he did not confine himself to the common topics
of consolation, but endeavoured to impress upon me the
necessity of rousing myself, advising me to occupy my mind
with some pursuit, particularly recommending agriculture; but
agriculture possessed no interest for me, nor, indeed, any
pursuit within my reach; my hopes of happiness had been
blighted, and what cared I for anything? so at last he
thought it best to leave me to myself, hoping that time would
bring with it consolation; and I remained solitary in my
house, waited upon by a male and a female servant. Oh, what
dreary moments I passed! My only amusement - and it was a
sad one - was to look at the things which once belonged to my
beloved, and which were new in my possession. Oh, how fondly
would I dwell upon them! There were some books; I cared not
for books, but these had belonged to my beloved. Oh, how
fondly did I dwell on them! Then there was her hat and
bonnet - oh, me, how fondly did I gaze upon them! and after
looking at her things for hours, I would sit and ruminate on
the happiness I had lost. How I execrated the moment I had
gone to the fair to sell horses! 'Would that I had never
been to Horncastle to sell horses!' I would say; 'I might at
this moment have been enjoying the company of my beloved,
leading a happy, quiet, easy life, but for that fatal
expedition;' that thought worked on my brain, till my brain
seemed to turn round.
"One day I sat at the breakfast-table gazing vacantly around
me, my mind was in a state of inexpressible misery; there was
a whirl in my brain, probably like that which people feel who
are rapidly going mad; this increased to such a degree that I
felt giddiness coming upon me. To abate this feeling I no
longer permitted my eyes to wander about, but fixed them upon
an object on the table, and continued gazing at it for
several minutes without knowing what it was; at length, the
misery in my head was somewhat stilled, my lips moved, and I
heard myself saying, 'What odd marks!' I had fastened my
eyes on the side of a teapot, and by keeping them fixed upon
it, had become aware of a fact that had escaped my notice
before - namely, that there were marks upon it. I kept my
eyes fixed upon them, and repeated at intervals, 'What
strange marks!' - for I thought that looking upon the marks
tended to abate the whirl in my head: I kept tracing the
marks one after the other, and I observed that though they
all bore a general resemblance to each other, they were all
to a certain extent different. The smallest portion possible
of curious interest had been awakened within me, and, at
last, I asked myself, within my own mind, 'What motive could
induce people to put such odd marks on their crockery? they
were not pictures, they were not letters; what motive could
people have for putting them there?' At last I removed my
eyes from the teapot, and thought for a few moments about the
marks; presently, however, I felt the whirl returning; the
marks became almost effaced from my mind, and I was beginning
to revert to my miserable ruminations, when suddenly
methought I heard a voice say, 'The marks! the marks! cling
to the marks? or- ' So I fixed my eyes again upon the marks,
inspecting them more attentively, if possible, than I had
done before, and, at last, I came to the conclusion that they
were not capricious or fanciful marks, but were arranged
systematically; when I had gazed at them for a considerable
time, I turned the teapot round, and on the other side I
observed marks of a similar kind, which I soon discovered
were identical with the ones I had been observing. All the
marks were something alike, but all somewhat different, and
on comparing them with each other, I was struck with the
frequent occurrence of a mark crossing an upright line, or
projecting from it, now on the right, now on the left side;
and I said to myself, 'Why does this mark sometimes cross the
upright line, and sometimes project?' and the more I thought
on the matter, the less did I feel of the misery in my head.
"The things were at length removed, and I sat, as I had for
some time past been wont to sit after my meals, silent and
motionless; but in the present instance my mind was not
entirely abandoned to the one mournful idea which had so long
distressed it. It was, to a certain extent, occupied with
the marks on the teapot; it is true that the mournful idea
strove hard with the marks on the teapot for the mastery in
my mind, and at last the painful idea drove the marks of the
teapot out; they, however, would occasionally return and flit
across my mind for a moment or two, and their coming was like
a momentary relief from intense pain. I thought once or
twice that I would have the teapot placed before me, that I
might examine the marks at leisure, but I considered that it
would be as well to defer the re-examination of the marks
till the next morning; at that time I did not take tea of an
evening. By deferring the examination thus, I had something
to look forward to on the next morning. The day was a
melancholy one, but it certainly was more tolerable to me
than any of the others had been since the death of my
beloved. As I lay awake that night I occasionally thought of
the marks, and in my sleep methought I saw them upon the
teapot vividly before me. On the morrow, I examined the
marks again; how singular they looked! Surely they must mean
something, and if so, what could they mean? and at last I
thought within myself whether it would be possible for me to
make out what they meant: that day I felt more relief than on
the preceding one, and towards night I walked a little about.
"In about a week's time I received a visit from my friend the
surgeon; after a little discourse, he told me that he
perceived I was better than when he had last seen me, and
asked me what I had been about; I told him that I had been
principally occupied in considering certain marks which I had
found on a teapot, and wondering what they could mean; he
smiled at first, but instantly assuming a serious look, he
asked to see the teapot. I produced it, and after having
surveyed the marks with attention, he observed that they were
highly curious, and also wondered what they meant. 'I
strongly advise you,' said he, 'to attempt to make them out,
and also to take moderate exercise, and to see after your
concerns.' I followed his advice; every morning I studied
the marks on the teapot, and in the course of the day took
moderate exercise, and attended to little domestic matters,
as became the master of a house.
"I subsequently learned that the surgeon, in advising me to
study the marks, and endeavour to make out their meaning,
merely hoped that by means of them my mind might by degrees
be diverted from the mournful idea on which I had so long
brooded. He was a man well skilled in his profession, but
had read and thought very little on matters unconnected with
it. He had no idea that the marks had any particular
signification, or were anything else but common and
fortuitous ones. That I became at all acquainted with their
nature was owing to a ludicrous circumstance which I will now
"One day, chancing to be at a neighbouring town, I was struck
with the appearance of a shop recently established. It had
an immense bow-window, and every part of it, to which a brush
could be applied, was painted in a gaudy flaming style.
Large bowls of green and black tea were placed upon certain
chests, which stood at the window. I stopped to look at
them, such a display, whatever it may be at the present time,
being, at the period of which I am speaking, quite uncommon
in a country town. The tea, whether black or green, was very
shining and inviting, and the bowls, of which there were
three, standing on as many chests, were very grand and
foreign looking. Two of these were white, with figures and
trees painted upon them in blue; the other, which was the
middlemost, had neither trees nor figures upon it, but, as I
looked through the window, appeared to have on its sides the
very same kind of marks which I had observed on the teapot at
home; there were also marks on the tea-chests, somewhat
similar, but much larger, and, apparently, not executed with
so much care. 'Best teas direct from China,' said a voice
close to my side; and looking round I saw a youngish man,
with a frizzled head, flat face, and an immensely wide mouth,
standing in his shirt-sleeves by the door. 'Direct from
China,' said he; 'perhaps you will do me the favour to walk
in and scent them?' 'I do not want any tea,' said I; 'I was
only standing at the window examining those marks on the bowl
and the chests. I have observed similar ones on a teapot at
home.' 'Pray walk in, sir,' said the young fellow, extending
his mouth till it reached nearly from ear to ear; 'pray walk
in, and I shall be happy to give you any information
respecting the manners and customs of the Chinese in my
power.' Thereupon I followed him into his shop, where he
began to harangue on the manners, customs, and peculiarities
of the Chinese, especially their manner of preparing tea, not
forgetting to tell me that the only genuine Chinese tea ever
imported into England was to be found in his shop. 'With
respect to those marks,' said he, 'on the bowl and chests,
they are nothing more nor less than Chinese writing
expressing something, though what I can't exactly tell you.
Allow me to sell you this pound of tea,' he added, showing me
a paper parcel. 'On the envelope there is a printed account
of the Chinese system of writing, extracted from authors of
the most established reputation. These things I print,
principally with the hope of, in some degree, removing the
worse than Gothic ignorance prevalent amongst natives of
these parts. I am from London myself. With respect to all
that relates to the Chinese real imperial tea, I assure you
sir, that - ' Well, to make short of what you doubtless
consider a very tiresome story, I purchased the tea and
carried it home. The tea proved imperially bad, but the
paper envelope really contained some information on the
Chinese language and writing, amounting to about as much as
you gained from me the other day. On learning that the marks
on the teapot expressed words, I felt my interest with
respect to them considerably increased, and returned to the
task of inspecting them with greater zeal than before,
hoping, by continually looking at them, to be able eventually
to understand their meaning, in which hope you may easily
believe I was disappointed, though my desire to understand
what they represented continued on the increase. In this
dilemma I determined to apply again to the shopkeeper from
whom I bought the tea. I found him in rather low spirits,
his shirt-sleeves were soiled, and his hair was out of curl.
On my inquiring how he got on, he informed me that he
intended speedily to leave, having received little or no
encouragement, the people, in their Gothic ignorance,
preferring to deal with an old-fashioned shopkeeper over the
way, who, so far from possessing any acquaintance with the
polity and institutions of the Chinese, did not, he believed,
know that tea came from China. 'You are come for some more,
I suppose?' said he. On receiving an answer in the negative
he looked somewhat blank, but when I added that I came to
consult with him as to the means which I must take in order
to acquire the Chinese language he brightened up. 'You must
get a grammar,' said he, rubbing his hands. 'Have you not
one?' said I. 'No,' he replied, 'but any bookseller can
procure you one.' As I was taking my departure, he told me
that as he was about to leave the neighbourhood, the bowl at
the window, which bore the inscription, besides some other
pieces of porcelain of a similar description, were at my
service, provided I chose to purchase them. I consented, and
two or three days afterwards took from off his hands all the
china in his possession which bore the inscriptions, paying
what he demanded. Had I waited till the sale of his effects,
which occurred within a few weeks, I could probably have
procured it for a fifth part of the sum which I paid, the
other pieces realizing very little. I did not, however,
grudge the poor fellow what he got from me, as I considered
myself to be somewhat in his debt for the information he had
afforded me.
"As for the rest of my story, it may be briefly told. I
followed the advice of the shopkeeper, and applied to a
bookseller who wrote to his correspondent in London. After a
long interval, I was informed that if I wished to learn
Chinese, I must do so through the medium of French, there
being neither Chinese grammar nor dictionary in our language.
I was at first very much disheartened. I determined,
however, at last to gratify my desire of learning Chinese,
even at the expense of learning French. I procured the
books, and in order to qualify myself to turn them to
account, took lessons in French from a little Swiss, the
usher of a neighbouring boarding-school. I was very stupid
in acquiring French; perseverance, however, enabled me to
acquire a knowledge sufficient for the object I had in view.
In about two years I began to study Chinese by myself,
through the medium of the French."
"Well," said I, "and how did you get on with the study of the
And then the old man proceeded to inform me how he got on
with the study of Chinese, enumerated all the difficulties he
had had to encounter; dilating upon his frequent despondency
of mind, and occasionally his utter despair of ever mastering
Chinese. He told me that more than once he had determined
upon giving up the study, but when the misery in his head
forthwith returned, to escape from which he had as often
resumed it. It appeared, however, that ten years elapsed
before he was able to use ten of the two hundred and fourteen
keys, which serve to undo the locks of Chinese writing.
"And are you able at present to use the entire number?" I
"Yes," said the old man; "I can at present use the whole
number. I know the key for every particular lock, though I
frequently find the wards unwilling to give way."
"Has nothing particular occurred to you," said I, "during the
time that you have been prosecuting your studies?"
"During the whole time in which I have been engaged in these
studies," said the old man, "only one circumstance has
occurred which requires any particular mention - the death of
my old friend the surgeon - who was carried off suddenly by a
fit of apoplexy. His death was a great shock to me, and for
a time interrupted my studies. His son, however, who
succeeded him, was very kind to me, and, in some degree,
supplied his father's place; and I gradually returned to my
Chinese locks and keys."
"And in applying keys to the Chinese locks you employ your
"Yes," said the old man, "in making out the inscriptions on
the various pieces of porcelain, which I have at different
times procured, I pass my time. The first inscription which
I translated was that on the teapot of my beloved."
"And how many other pieces of porcelain may you have at
present in your possession?"
"About fifteen hundred."
"And how did you obtain them?" I demanded.
"Without much labour," said the old man, "in the neighbouring
towns and villages - chiefly at auctions - of which, about
twenty years ago, there were many in these parts."
"And may I ask your reasons for confining your studies
entirely to the crockery literature of China, when you have
all the rest at your disposal?"
"The inscriptions enable me to pass my time," said the old
man; "what more would the whole literature of China do?"
"And from these inscriptions," said I, "what a book it is in
your power to make, whenever so disposed. 'Translations from
the crockery literature of China.' Such a book would be sure
to take; even glorious John himself would not disdain to
publish it." The old man smiled. "I have no desire for
literary distinction," said he; "no ambition. My original
wish was to pass my life in easy, quiet obscurity, with her
whom I loved. I was disappointed in my wish; she was
removed, who constituted my only felicity in this life;
desolation came to my heart, and misery to my head. To
escape from the latter I had recourse to Chinese. By degrees
the misery left my head, but the desolation of the heart yet
"Be of good cheer," said I; "through the instrumentality of
this affliction you have learnt Chinese, and, in so doing,
learnt to practise the duties of hospitality. Who but a man
who could read Runes on a teapot, would have received an
unfortunate wayfarer as you have received me?"
"Well," said the old man, "let us hope that all is for the
best. I am by nature indolent, and, but for this affliction,
should, perhaps, have hardly taken the trouble to do my duty
to my fellow-creatures. I am very, very indolent," said he,
slightly glancing towards the clock; "therefore let us hope
that all is for the best; but, oh! these trials, they are
very hard to bear."
The Leave-taking - Spirit of the Hearth - What's o'Clock?
THE next morning, having breakfasted with my old friend, I
went into the stable to make the necessary preparations for
my departure; there, with the assistance of a stable lad, I
cleaned and caparisoned my horse, and then, returning into
the house, I made the old female attendant such a present as
I deemed would be some compensation for the trouble I had
caused. Hearing that the old gentleman was in his study, I
repaired to him. "I am come to take leave of you," said I,
"and to thank you for all the hospitality which I have
received at your hands." The eyes of the old man were fixed
steadfastly on the inscription which I had found him studying
on a former occasion. "At length," he murmured to himself,
"I have it - I think I have it;" and then, looking at me, he
said, "So you are about to depart?"
"Yes," said I, "my horse will be at the front door in a few
minutes; I am glad, however, before I go, to find that you
have mastered the inscription."
"Yes," said the old man, "I believe I have mastered it; it
seems to consist of some verses relating to the worship of
the Spirit of the Hearth."
"What is the Spirit of the Hearth?" said I.
"One of the many demons which the Chinese worship," said the
old man; "they do not worship one God, but many." And then
the old man told me a great many highly-interesting
particulars respecting the demon worship of the Chinese.
After the lapse of at least half an hour I said, "I must not
linger here any longer, however willing. Horncastle is
distant, and I wish to be there to-night. Pray can you
inform me what's o'clock?"
The old man, rising, looked towards the clock which hung on
the side of the room at his left hand, on the farther side of
the table at which he was seated.
"I am rather short-sighted," said I, "and cannot distinguish
the number, at that distance."
"It is ten o'clock," said the old man; "I believe somewhat
"A quarter, perhaps?"
"Yes," said the old man "a quarter or - "
"Seven minutes, or ten minutes past ten."
"I do not understand you."
"Why, to tell you the truth," said the old man, with a smile,
"there is one thing to the knowledge of which I could never
exactly attain."
"Do you mean to say," said I, "that you do not know what's
"I can give a guess," said the old man, "to within a few
"But you cannot tell the exact moment?"
"No," said the old man.
"In the name of wonder," said I, "with that thing there on
the wall continually ticking in your ear, how comes it that
you do not know what's o'clock?"
"Why," said the old man, "I have contented myself with giving
a tolerably good guess; to do more would have been too great
"But you have learnt Chinese," said I.
"Yes," said the old man, "I have learnt Chinese."
"Well," said I, "I really would counsel you to learn to know
what's o'clock as soon as possible. Consider what a sad
thing it would be to go out of the world not knowing what's
o'clock. A millionth part of the trouble required to learn
Chinese would, if employed, infallibly teach you to know
what's o'clock."
"I had a motive for learning Chinese," said the old man, "the
hope of appeasing the misery in my head. With respect to not
knowing what's o'clock, I cannot see anything particularly
sad in the matter. A man may get through the world very
creditably without knowing what's o'clock. Yet, upon the
whole, it is no bad thing to know what's o'clock - you, of
course, do? It would be too good a joke if two people were
to be together, one knowing Armenian and the other Chinese,
and neither knowing what's o'clock. I'll now see you off."
Arrival at Horncastle - The Inn and Ostlers - The Garret -
Figure of a Man with a Candle.
LEAVING the house of the old man who knew Chinese, but could
not tell what was o'clock, I wended my way to Horncastle,
which I reached in the evening of the same day, without
having met any adventure on the way worthy of being marked
down in this very remarkable history.
The town was a small one, seemingly ancient, and was crowded
with people and horses. I proceeded, without delay, to the
inn to which my friend the surgeon had directed me. "It is
of no use coming here," said two or three ostlers, as I
entered the yard - "all full - no room whatever;" whilst one
added in an undertone, "That ere a'n't a bad-looking horse."
"I want to see the master of this inn," said I, as I
dismounted from the horse. "See the master," said an ostler
- the same who had paid the negative kind of compliment to
the horse - "a likely thing, truly; my master is drinking
wine with some of the grand gentry, and can't be disturbed
for the sake of the like of you." "I bring a letter to him,"
said I, pulling out the surgeon's epistle. "I wish you would
deliver it to him," I added, offering a half-crown. "Oh,
it's you, is it?" said the ostler, taking the letter and the
half-crown; "my master will be right glad to see you; why,
you ha'n't been here for many a year; I'll carry the note to
him at once." And with these words he hurried into the
house. "That's a nice horse, young man," said another
ostler, "what will you take for it?" to which interrogation I
made no answer. "If you wish to sell him," said the ostler,
coming up to me, and winking knowingly, "I think I and my
partners might offer you a summut under seventy pounds;" to
which kind and half-insinuated offer I made no reply, save by
winking in the same kind of knowing manner in which I
observed him wink. "Rather leary!" said a third ostler.
"Well, young man, perhaps you will drink tonight with me and
my partners, when we can talk the matter over." Before I had
time to answer, the landlord, a well-dressed, good-looking
man, made his appearance with the ostler; he bore the letter
in his hand. Without glancing at me, he betook himself at
once to consider the horse, going round him, and observing
every point with the utmost minuteness. At last, having gone
round the horse three times, he stopped beside me, and
keeping his eyes on the horse, bent his head towards his
right shoulder. "That horse is worth some money," said he,
turning towards me suddenly, and slightly touching me on the
arm with the letter which he held in his hand; to which
observation I made no reply, save by bending my head towards
the right shoulder as I had seen him do. "The young man is
going to talk to me and my partners about it tonight," said
the ostler who had expressed an opinion that he and his
friends might offer me somewhat under seventy pounds for the
animal. "Pooh!" said the landlord, "the young man' knows
what he is about; in the meantime lead the horse to the
reserved stall, and see well after him. My friend," said he,
taking me aside after the ostler had led the animal away,
"recommends you to me in the strongest manner, on which
account alone I take you and your horse in. I need not
advise you not to be taken in, as I should say, by your look,
that you are tolerably awake; but there are queer hands at
Horncastle at this time, and those fellows of mine, you
understand me - ; but I have a great deal to do at present,
so you must excuse me." And thereupon went into the house.
That same evening I was engaged at least two hours in the
stable, in rubbing the horse down, and preparing him for the
exhibition which I intended he should make in the fair on the
following day. The ostler, to whom I had given the halfcrown,
occasionally assisted me, though he was too much
occupied by the horses of other guests to devote any length
of time to the service of mine; he more than once repeated to
me his firm conviction that himself and partners could afford
to offer me summut for the horse; and at a later hour when,
in compliance with his invitation, I took a glass of summut
with himself and partners, in a little room surrounded with
corn-chests, on which we sat, both himself and partners
endeavoured to impress upon me, chiefly by means of nods and
winks, their conviction that they could afford to give me
summut for the horse, provided I were disposed to sell him;
in return for which intimation, with as many nods and winks
as they had all collectively used, I endeavoured to impress
upon them my conviction that I could get summut handsomer in
the fair than they might be disposed to offer me, seeing as
how - which how I followed by a wink and a nod, which they
seemed perfectly to understand, one or two of them declaring
that if the case was so, it made a great deal of difference,
and that they did not wish to be any hindrance to me, more
particularly as it was quite clear I had been an ostler like
It was late at night when I began to think of retiring to
rest. On inquiring if there was any place in which I could
sleep, I was informed that there was a bed at my service,
provided I chose to sleep in a two-bedded room, one of the
beds of which was engaged by another gentleman. I expressed
my satisfaction at this arrangement, and was conducted by a
maid-servant up many pairs of stairs to a garret, in which
were two small beds, in one of which she gave me to
understand another gentleman slept; he had, however, not yet
retired to rest; I asked who he was, but the maid-servant
could give me no information about him, save that he was a
highly respectable gentleman, and a friend of her master's.
Presently, bidding me good night, she left me with a candle;
and I, having undressed myself and extinguished the light,
went to bed. Notwithstanding the noises which sounded from
every part of the house, I was not slow in falling asleep,
being thoroughly tired. I know not how long I might have
been in bed, perhaps two hours, when I was partially awakened
by a light shining upon my face, whereupon, unclosing my
eyes, I perceived the figure of a man, with a candle in one
hand, staring at my face, whilst with the other hand, he held
back the curtain of the bed. As I have said before, I was
only partially awakened, my power of conception was
consequently very confused; it appeared to me, however, that
the man was dressed in a green coat; that he had curly brown
or black hair, and that there was something peculiar in his
look. Just as I was beginning to recollect myself, the
curtain dropped, and I heard, or thought I heard, a voice
say, "Don't know the cove." Then there was a rustling like a
person undressing, whereupon being satisfied that it was my
fellow-lodger, I dropped asleep, but was awakened again by a
kind of heavy plunge upon the other bed, which caused it to
rock and creak, when I observed that the light had been
extinguished, probably blown out, if I might judge from a
rather disagreeable smell of burnt wick which remained in the
room, and which kept me awake till I heard my companion
breathing hard, when, turning on the other side, I was again
once more speedily in the arms of slumber.
Horncastle Fair.
IT had been my intention to be up and doing early on the
following morning, but my slumbers proved so profound, that I
did not wake until about eight; on arising, I again found
myself the sole occupant of the apartment, my more alert
companion having probably risen at a much earlier hour.
Having dressed myself, I descended, and going to the stable,
found my horse under the hands of my friend the ostler, who
was carefully rubbing him down. "There a'n't a better horse
in the fair," said he to me, "and as you are one of us, and
appear to be all right, I'll give you a piece of advice -
don't take less than a hundred and fifty for him; if you mind
your hits, you may get it, for I have known two hundred given
in this fair for one no better, if so good." "Well," said I,
"thank you for your advice, which I will take, and, if
successful, will give you 'summut' handsome." "Thank you,"
said the ostler; "and now let me ask whether you are up to
all the ways of this here place?" "I have never been here
before," said I, "but I have a pair of tolerably sharp eyes
in my head." "That I see you have," said the ostler, "but
many a body, with as sharp a pair of eyes as yourn, has lost
his horse in this fair, for want of having been here before,
therefore," said he, "I'll give you a caution or two."
Thereupon the ostler proceeded to give me at least half a
dozen cautions, only two of which I shall relate to the
reader: - the first, not to stop to listen to what any chance
customer might have to say; and the last - the one on which
he appeared to lay most stress - by no manner of means to
permit a Yorkshireman to get up into the saddle, "for," said
he, "if you do, it is three to one that he rides off with the
horse; he can't help it; trust a cat amongst cream, but never
trust a Yorkshireman on the saddle of a good horse; by-theby,"
he continued, "that saddle of yours is not a
particularly good one, no more is the bridle. I tell you
what, as you seem a decent kind of a young chap, I'll lend
you a saddle and bridle of my master's, almost bran new; he
won't object, I know, as you are a friend of his, only you
must not forget your promise to come down with summut
handsome after you have sold the animal."
After a slight breakfast I mounted the horse, which, decked
out in his borrowed finery, really looked better by a large
sum of money than on any former occasion. Making my way out
of the yard of the inn, I was instantly in the principal
street of the town, up and down which an immense number of
horses were being exhibited, some led, and others with
riders. "A wonderful small quantity of good horses in the
fair this time!" I heard a stout jockey-looking individual
say, who was staring up the street with his side towards me.
"Halloo, young fellow!" said he, a few moments after I had
passed, "whose horse is that? Stop! I want to look at him!"
Though confident that he was addressing himself to me, I took
no notice, remembering the advice of the ostler, and
proceeded up the street. My horse possessed a good walking
step; but walking, as the reader knows, was not his best
pace, which was the long trot, at which I could not well
exercise him in the street, on account of the crowd of men
and animals; however, as he walked along, I could easily
perceive that he attracted no slight attention amongst those
who, by their jockey dress and general appearance, I imagined
to be connoisseurs; I heard various calls to stop, to none of
which I paid the slightest attention. In a few minutes I
found myself out of the town, when, turning round for the
purpose of returning, I found I had been followed by several
of the connoisseur-looking individuals, whom I had observed
in the fair. "Now would be the time for a display," thought
I; and looking around me I observed two five-barred gates,
one on each side of the road, and fronting each other.
Turning my horse's head to one, I pressed my heels to his
sides, loosened the reins, and gave an encouraging cry,
whereupon the animal cleared the gate in a twinkling. Before
he had advanced ten yards in the field to which the gate
opened, I had turned him round, and again giving him cry and
rein, I caused him to leap back again into the road, and
still allowing him head, I made him leap the other gate; and
forthwith turning him round, I caused him to leap once more
into the road, where he stood proudly tossing his head, as
much as to say, "What more?" "A fine horse! a capital
horse!" said several of the connoisseurs. "What do you ask
for him?" "Too much for any of you to pay," said I. "A
horse like this is intended for other kind of customers than
any of you." "How do you know that?" said one; the very same
person whom I had heard complaining in the street of the
paucity of good horses in the fair. "Come, let us know what
you ask for him?" "A hundred and fifty pounds!" said I;
"neither more nor less." "Do you call that a great price?"
said the man. "Why, I thought you would have asked double
that amount! You do yourself injustice, young man."
"Perhaps I do," said I, "but that's my affair; I do not
choose to take more." "I wish you would let me get into the
saddle," said the man; "the horse knows you, and therefore
shows to more advantage; but I should like to see how he
would move under me, who am a stranger. Will you let me get
into the saddle, young man?" "No," said I; "I will not let
you get into the saddle." "Why not?" said the man. "Lest
you should be a Yorkshireman," said I; "and should run away
with the horse." "Yorkshire?" said the man; "I am from
Suffolk; silly Suffolk - so you need not be afraid of my
running away with the horse." "Oh! if that's the case," said
I, "I should be afraid that the horse would run away with
you; so I will by no means let you mount." "Will you let me
look in his mouth?" said the man. "If you please," said I;
"but I tell you, he's apt to bite." "He can scarcely be a
worse bite than his master," said the man, looking into the
horse's mouth; "he's four off. I say, young man, will you
warrant this horse?" "No," said I; "I never warrant horses;
the horses that I ride can always warrant themselves." "I
wish you would let me speak a word to you," said he. "Just
come aside. It's a nice horse," said he, in a half whisper,
after I had ridden a few paces aside with him. "It's a nice
horse," said he, placing his hand upon the pommel of the
saddle, and looking up in my face, "and I think I can find
you a customer. If you would take a hundred, I think my lord
would purchase it, for he has sent me about the fair to look
him up a horse, by which he could hope to make an honest
penny." "Well," said I, "and could he not make an honest
penny, and yet give me the price I ask?" "Why," said the gobetween,
"a hundred and fifty pounds is as much as the animal
is worth, or nearly so; and my lord, do you see - " "I see
no reason at all," said I, "why I should sell the animal for
less than he is worth, in order that his lordship may be
benefited by him; so that if his lordship wants to make an
honest penny, he must find some person who would consider the
disadvantage of selling him a horse for less than it is
worth, as counterbalanced by the honour of dealing with a
lord, which I should never do; but I can't be wasting my time
here. I am going back to the -, where, if you, or any
person, are desirous of purchasing the horse, you must come
within the next half hour, or I shall probably not feel
disposed to sell him at all." "Another word, young man,"
said the jockey; but without staying to hear what he had to
say, I put the horse to his best trot, and re-entering the
town, and threading my way as well as I could through the
press, I returned to the yard of the inn, where, dismounting,
I stood still, holding the horse by the bridle.
I had been standing in this manner about five minutes, when I
saw the jockey enter the yard, accompanied by another
individual. They advanced directly towards me. "Here is my
lord come to look at the horse, young man," said the jockey.
My lord, as the jockey called him, was a tall figure, of
about five-and-thirty. He had on his head a hat somewhat
rusty, and on his back a surtout of blue rather the worse for
wear. His forehead, if not high, was exceedingly narrow; his
eyes were brown, with a rat-like glare in them; the nose was
rather long, and the mouth very wide; the cheek-bones high,
and the cheeks, as to hue and consistency, exhibiting very
much the appearance of a withered red apple; there was a
gaunt expression of hunger in the whole countenance. He had
scarcely glanced at the horse, when drawing in his cheeks, he
thrust out his lips very much after the manner of a baboon,
when he sees a piece of sugar held out towards him. "Is this
horse yours?" said he, suddenly turning towards me, with a
kind of smirk. "It's my horse," said I; "are you the person
who wishes to make an honest penny by it?" "How!" said he,
drawing up his head with a very consequential look, and
speaking with a very haughty tone, "what do you mean?" We
looked at each other full in the face; after a few moments,
the muscles of the mouth of him of the hungry look began to
move violently, the face was puckered into innumerable
wrinkles, and the eyes became half closed. "Well," said I,
"have you ever seen me before? I suppose you are asking
yourself that question." "Excuse me, sir," said he, dropping
his lofty look, and speaking in a very subdued and civil
tone, "I have never had the honour of seeing you before, that
is" - said he, slightly glancing at me again, and again
moving the muscles of his mouth, "no, I have never seen you
before," he added, making me a bow. "I have never had that
pleasure; my business with you, at present, is to inquire the
lowest price you are willing to take for this horse. My
agent here informs me that you ask one hundred and fifty
pounds, which I cannot think of giving - the horse is a showy
horse, but look, my dear sir, he has a defect here, and there
in his near fore leg I observe something which looks very
like a splint - yes, upon my credit," said he, touching the
animal, "he has a splint, or something which will end in one.
A hundred and fifty pounds, sir! what could have induced you
ever to ask anything like that for this animal? I protest
that, in my time, I have frequently bought a better for -
Who are you, sir? I am in treaty for this horse," said he to
a man who had come up whilst he was talking, and was now
looking into the horse's mouth. "Who am I?" said the man,
still looking into the horse's mouth; "who am I? his lordship
asks me. Ah, I see, close on five," said he, releasing the
horse's jaws, and looking at me. This new corner was a thin,
wiry-made individual, with wiry curling brown hair; his face
was dark, and wore an arch and somewhat roguish expression;
upon one of his eyes was a kind of speck or beam; he might be
about forty, wore a green jockey coat, and held in his hand a
black riding whip, with a knob of silver wire. As I gazed
upon his countenance, it brought powerfully to my mind the
face which, by the light of the candle, I had seen staring
over me on the preceding night, when lying in bed and half
asleep. Close beside him, and seemingly in his company,
stood an exceedingly tall figure, that of a youth, seemingly
about one-and-twenty, dressed in a handsome riding dress, and
wearing on his head a singular hat, green in colour, and with
a very high peak. "What do you ask for this horse?" said he
of the green coat, winking at me with the eye which had a
beam in it, whilst the other shone and sparkled like Mrs.
Colonel W-'s Golconda diamond. "Who are you, sir, I demand
once more?" said he of the hungry look. "Who am I? why, who
should I be but Jack Dale, who buys horses for himself and
other folk; I want one at present for this short young
gentleman," said he, motioning with his finger to the
gigantic youth. "Well, sir," said the other, "and what
business have you to interfere between me and any purchase I
may be disposed to make?" "Well, then," said the other, "be
quick and purchase the horse, or, perhaps, I may." "Do you
think I am to be dictated to by a fellow of your
description?" said his lordship, "begone, or - " "What do
you ask for this horse?" said the other to me, very coolly.
"A hundred and fifty," said I. "I shouldn't mind giving it
to you," said he. "You will do no such thing," said his
lordship, speaking so fast that he almost stuttered. "Sir,"
said he to me, "I must give you what you ask; Symmonds, take
possession of the animal for me," said he to the other jockey
who attended him. "You will please to do no such thing
without my consent," said I, "I have not sold him." "I have
this moment told you that I will give you the price you
demand," said his lordship; "is not that sufficient?" "No,"
said I, "there is a proper manner of doing everything - had
you come forward in a manly and gentlemanly manner to
purchase the horse, I should have been happy to sell him to
you, but after all the fault you have found with him, I would
not sell him to you at any price, so send your friend to find
up another." "You behave in this manner, I suppose," said
his lordship, "because this fellow has expressed a
willingness to come to your terms. I would advise you to be
cautious how you trust the animal in his hands; I think I
have seen him before, and could tell you - " "What can you
tell of me?" said the other, going up to him; "except that I
have been a poor dicky-boy, and that now I am a dealer in
horses, and that my father was lagged; that's all you could
tell of me, and that I don't mind telling myself: but there
are two things they can't say of me, they can't say that I am
either a coward or a screw either, except so far as one who
gets his bread by horses may be expected to be; and they
can't say of me that I ever ate up an ice which a young woman
was waiting for, or that I ever backed out of a fight.
Horse!" said he, motioning with his finger tauntingly to the
other; "what do you want with a horse, except to take the
bread out of the mouth of a poor man - to-morrow is not the
battle of Waterloo, so that you don't want to back out of
danger, by pretending to have hurt yourself by falling from
the creature's back, my lord of the white feather - come,
none of your fierce looks - I am not afraid of you." In
fact, the other had assumed an expression of the deadliest
malice, his teeth were clenched, his lips quivered, and were
quite pale; the rat-like eyes sparkled, and he made a half
spring, a la rat, towards his adversary, who only laughed.
Restraining himself, however, he suddenly turned to his
understrapper, saying, "Symmonds, will you see me thus
insulted? go and trounce this scoundrel; you can, I know."
"Symmonds trounce me!" said the other, going up to the person
addressed, and drawing his hand contemptuously over his face;
"why, I beat Symmonds in this very yard in one round three
years ago; didn't I, Symmonds?" said he to the understrapper,
who held down his head, muttering, in a surly tone, "I didn't
come here to fight; let every one take his own part."
"That's right, Symmonds," said the other, "especially every
one from whom there is nothing to be got. I would give you
half-a-crown for all the trouble you have had, provided I
were not afraid that my Lord Plume there would get it from
you as soon as you leave the yard together. Come, take
yourselves both off; there's nothing to be made here."
Indeed, his lordship seemed to be of the same opinion, for
after a further glance at the horse, a contemptuous look at
me, and a scowl at the jockey, he turned on his heel,
muttering something which sounded like fellows, and stalked
out of the yard, followed by Symmonds.
"And now, young man," said the jockey, or whatever he was,
turning to me with an arch leer, "I suppose I may consider
myself as the purchaser of this here animal, for the use and
behoof of this young gentleman?" making a sign with his head
to the tall young man by his side. "By no means," said I, "I
am utterly unacquainted with either of you, and before
parting with the horse I must be satisfied as to the
respectability of the purchaser." "Oh! as to that matter,"
said he, "I have plenty of vouchers for my respectability
about me;" and thrusting his hand into his bosom below his
waistcoat, he drew out a large bundle of notes. "These are
the kind of things," said he, "which vouch best for a man's
respectability." "Not always," said I; "indeed, sometimes
these kind of things need vouchers for themselves." The man
looked at me with a peculiar look. "Do you mean to say that
these notes are not sufficient notes?" said he, "because if
you do I shall take the liberty of thinking you are not over
civil, and when I thinks a person is not over and above civil
I sometimes takes off my coat; and when my coat is off - "
"You sometimes knock people down," I added; "well, whether
you knock me down or not, I beg leave to tell you that I am a
stranger in this fair, and that I shall part with the horse
to nobody who has no better guarantee for his respectability
than a roll of bank-notes, which may be good or not for what
I know, who am not a judge of such things." "Oh! if you are
a stranger here," said the man, "as I believe you are, never
having seen you here before except last night, when I think I
saw you above stairs by the glimmer of a candle - I say, if
you are a stranger, you are quite right to be cautious; queer
things being done in this fair, as nobody knows better than
myself," he added with a leer; "but I suppose if the landlord
of the house vouches for me and my notes, you will have no
objection to part with the horse to me?" "None whatever,"
said I, "and in the meantime the horse can return to the
Thereupon I delivered the horse to my friend the ostler.
The landlord of the house on being questioned by me as to the
character and condition of my new acquaintance, informed me
that he was a respectable horsedealer, and an intimate friend
of his, whereupon the purchase was soon brought to a
satisfactory conclusion.
High Dutch.
IT was evening: and myself and the two acquaintances I had
made in the fair - namely, the jockey and the tall foreigner
- sat in a large upstairs room, which looked into a court; we
had dined with several people connected with the fair at a
long TABLE D'HOTE; they had now departed, and we sat at a
small side-table with wine and a candle before us; both my
companions had pipes in their mouths - the jockey a common
pipe, and the foreigner, one, the syphon of which, made of
some kind of wood, was at least six feet long, and the bowl
of which, made of a white kind of substance like porcelain,
and capable of holding nearly an ounce of tobacco, rested on
the ground. The jockey frequently emptied and replenished
his glass; the foreigner sometimes raised his to his lips,
for no other purpose seemingly than to moisten them, as he
never drained his glass. As for myself, though I did not
smoke, I had a glass before me, from which I sometimes took a
sip. The room, notwithstanding the window was flung open,
was in general so filled with smoke, chiefly that which was
drawn from the huge bowl of the foreigner, that my companions
and I were frequently concealed from each other's eyes. The
conversation, which related entirely to the events of the
fair, was carried on by the jockey and myself, the foreigner,
who appeared to understand the greater part of what we said,
occasionally putting in a few observations in broken English.
At length the jockey, after the other had made some
ineffectual attempts to express something intelligibly which
he wished to say, observed, "Isn't it a pity that so fine a
fellow as meinheer, and so clever a fellow too, as I believe
him to be, is not a better master of our language?"
"Is the gentleman a German?" said I; "if so, I can interpret
for him anything he wishes to say."
"The deuce you can," said the jockey, taking his pipe out of
his mouth, and staring at me through the smoke.
"Ha! you speak German," vociferated the foreigner in that
language. "By Isten, I am glad of it! I wanted to say - "
And here he said in German what he wished to say, and which
was of no great importance, and which I translated into
"Well, if you don't put me out," said the jockey; "what
language is that - Dutch?"
"High Dutch," said I.
"High Dutch, and you speak High Dutch, - why, I had booked
you for as great an ignoramus as myself, who can't write -
no, nor distinguish in a book a great A from a bull's foot."
"A person may be a very clever man," said I - "no, not a
clever man, for clever signifies clerkly, and a clever man
one who is able to read and write, and entitled to the
benefit of his clergy or clerkship; but a person may be a
very acute person without being able to read or write. I
never saw a more acute countenance than your own."
"No soft soap," said the jockey, "for I never uses any.
However, thank you for your information; I have hitherto
thought myself a'nition clever fellow, but from henceforth
shall consider myself just the contrary, and only - what's
the word? - confounded 'cute."
"Just so," said I.
"Well," said the jockey, "as you say you can speak High
Dutch, I should like to hear you and master six foot six fire
away at each other."
"I cannot speak German," said I, "but I can understand
tolerably well what others say in it."
"Come no backing out," said the jockey, "let's hear you fire
away for the glory of Old England."
"Then you are a German?" said I, in German to the foreigner.
"That will do," said the jockey, "keep it up."
"A German!" said the tall foreigner. "No, I thank God that I
do not belong to the stupid sluggish Germanic race, but to a
braver, taller, and handsomer people;" here taking the pipe
out of his mouth, he stood up proudly erect, so that his head
nearly touched the ceiling of the room, then reseating
himself, and again putting the syphon to his lips, he added,
"I am a Magyar."
"What is that?" said I.
The foreigner looked at me for a moment, somewhat
contemptuously, through the smoke, then said, in a voice of
thunder, "A Hungarian!"
"What a voice the chap has when he pleases!" interposed the
jockey; "what is he saying?"
"Merely that he is a Hungarian," said I; but I added, "the
conversation of this gentleman and myself in a language which
you can't understand must be very tedious to you, we had
better give it up."
"Keep on with it," said the jockey, "I shall go on listening
very contentedly till I fall asleep, no bad thing to do at
most times."
The Hungarian.
"THEN you are a countryman of Tekeli, and of the queen who
made the celebrated water," said I, speaking to the Hungarian
in German, which I was able to do tolerably well, owing to my
having translated the Publisher's philosophy into that
language, always provided I did not attempt to say much at a
HUNGARIAN. Ah! you have heard of Tekeli, and of L'eau de la
Reine d'Hongrie. How is that?
MYSELF. I have seen a play acted, founded on the exploits of
Tekeli, and have read Pigault Le Brun's beautiful romance,
entitled the "Barons of Felsheim," in which he is mentioned.
As for the water, I have heard a lady, the wife of a master
of mine, speak of it.
HUNGARIAN. Was she handsome?
HUNGARIAN. Did she possess the water?
MYSELF. I should say not; for I have heard her express a
great curiosity about it.
HUNGARIAN. Was she growing old?
MYSELF. Of course not; but why do you put all these
HUNGARIAN. Because the water is said to make people
handsome, and above all, to restore to the aged the beauty of
their youth. Well! Tekeli was my countryman, and I have the
honour of having some of the blood of the Tekelis in my
veins, but with respect to the queen, pardon me if I tell you
that she was not an Hungarian; she was a Pole - Ersebet by
name, daughter of Wladislaus Locticus King of Poland; she was
the fourth spouse of Caroly the Second, King of the Magyar
country, who married her in 1320. She was a great woman and
celebrated politician, though at present chiefly known by her
MYSELF. How came she to invent it?
HUNGARIAN. If her own account may be believed, she did not
invent it. After her death, as I have read in Florentius of
Buda, there was found a statement of the manner in which she
came by it, written in her own hand, on a fly-leaf of her
breviary, to the following effect:- Being afflicted with a
grievous disorder at the age of seventy-two, she received the
medicine which was called her water, from an old hermit whom
she never saw before or afterwards; it not only cured her,
but restored to her all her former beauty, so that the King
of Poland fell in love with her, and made her an offer of
marriage, which she refused for the glory of God, from whose
holy angel she believed she had received the water. The
receipt for making it and directions for using it, were also
found on the fly-leaf. The principal component parts were
burnt wine and rosemary, passed through an alembic; a drachm
of it was to be taken once a week, "etelbenn vagy italbann,"
in the food or the drink, early in the morning, and the
cheeks were to be moistened with it every day. The effects
according to the statement, were wonderful - and perhaps they
were upon the queen; but whether the water has been equally
efficacious on other people, is a point which I cannot
determine. I should wish to see some old woman who has been
restored to youthful beauty by the use of L'eau de la Reine
MYSELF. Perhaps, if you did, the old gentlewoman would
hardly be so ingenuous as the queen. But who are the
Hungarians - descendants of Attila and his people?
The Hungarian shook his head, and gave me to understand that
he did not believe that his nation were the descendants of
Attila and his people, though he acknowledged that they were
probably of the same race. Attila and his armies, he said,
came and disappeared in a very mysterious manner, and that
nothing could be said with positiveness about them; that the
people now known as Magyars first made their appearance in
Muscovy in the year 884, under the leadership of Almus,
called so from Alom, which, in the Hungarian language,
signifies a dream; his mother, before his birth, having
dreamt that the child with which she was enceinte would be
the father of a long succession of kings, which, in fact, was
the case; that after beating the Russians he entered Hungary,
and coming to a place called Ungvar, from which many people
believed that modern Hungary derived its name, he captured
it, and held in it a grand festival, which lasted four days,
at the end of which time he resigned the leadership of the
Magyars to his son Arpad. This Arpad and his Magyars utterly
subdued Pannonia - that is, Hungary and Transylvania,
wresting the government of it from the Sclavonian tribes who
inhabited it, and settling down amongst them as conquerors!
After giving me this information, the Hungarian exclaimed
with much animation, - "A goodly country that which they had
entered on, consisting of a plain surrounded by mountains,
some of which intersect it here and there, with noble rapid
rivers, the grandest of which is the mighty Dunau; a country
with tiny volcanoes, casting up puffs of smoke and steam, and
from which hot springs arise, good for the sick; with many
fountains, some of which are so pleasant to the taste as to
be preferred to wine; with a generous soil which, warmed by a
beautiful sun, is able to produce corn, grapes, and even the
Indian weed; in fact, one of the finest countries in the
world, which even a Spaniard would pronounce to be nearly
equal to Spain. Here they rested - meditating, however,
fresh conquests. Oh, the Magyars soon showed themselves a
mighty people. Besides Hungary and Transylvania, they
subdued Bulgaria and Bosnia, and the land of Tot, now called
Sclavonia. The generals of Zoltan, the son of Arpad, led
troops of horsemen to the banks of the Rhine. One of them,
at the head of a host, besieged Constantinople. It was then
that Botond engaged in combat with a Greek of gigantic
stature, who came out of the city and challenged the two best
men in the Magyar army. 'I am the feeblest of the Magyars,'
said Botond, 'but I will kill thee;' and he performed his
word, having previously given a proof of the feebleness of
his arm by striking his battle-axe through the brazen gate,
making a hole so big that a child of five years old could
walk through it."
MYSELF. Of what religion were the old Hungarians?
HUNGARIAN. They had some idea of a Supreme Being, whom they
called Isten, which word is still used by the Magyars for
God; but their chief devotion was directed to sorcerers and
soothsayers, something like the Schamans of the Siberian
steppes. They were converted to Christianity chiefly through
the instrumentality of Istvan or Stephen, called after his
death St. Istvan, who ascended the throne in the year one
thousand. He was born in heathenesse, and his original name
was Vojk: he was the first kiraly, or king of the Magyars.
Their former leaders had been called fejedelmek, or dukes.
The Magyar language has properly no term either for king or
house. Kiraly is a word derived from the Sclaves; haz, or
house, from the Germans, who first taught them to build
houses, their original dwellings having been tilted waggons.
MYSELF. Many thanks for your account of the great men of
your country.
HUNGARIAN. The great men of my country! I have only told
you of the - Well, I acknowledge that Almus and Arpad were
great men, but Hungary has produced many greater; I will not
trouble you by recapitulating all, but there is one name I
cannot forbear mentioning - but you have heard of it - even
at Horncastle, the name of Hunyadi must be familiar.
MYSELF. It may be so, though I rather doubt it; but, however
that may be, I confess my ignorance. I have never, until
this moment, heard the name of Hunyadi.
HUNGARIAN. Not of Hunyadi Janos, not of Hunyadi John - for
the genius of our language compels us to put a man's
Christian name after his other; perhaps you have heard of the
name of Corvinus?
MYSELF. Yes, I have heard the name of Corvinus.
HUNGARIAN. By my God, I am glad of it; I thought our hammer
of destruction, our thunderbolt, whom the Greeks called
Achilles, must be known to the people of Horncastle. Well,
Hunyadi and Corvinus are the same.
MYSELF. Corvinus means the man of the crow, or raven. I
suppose that your John, when a boy, climbed up to a crow or a
raven's nest, and stole the young; a bold feat, well
befitting a young hero.
HUNGARIAN. By Isten, you are an acute guesser; a robbery
there was, but it was not Hunyadi who robbed the raven, but
the raven who robbed Hunyadi.
MYSELF. How was that?
HUNGARIAN. In this manner: Hunyadi, according to tradition,
was the son of King Sigmond, by a peasant's daughter. The
king saw and fell in love with her, whilst marching against
the vaivode of Wallachia. He had some difficulty in
persuading her to consent to his wishes, and she only yielded
at last, on the king making her a solemn promise that, in the
event of her becoming with child by him, he would handsomely
provide for her and the infant. The king proceeded on his
expedition; and on his returning in triumph from Wallachia,
again saw the girl, who informed him that she was enceinte by
him; the king was delighted with the intelligence, gave the
girl money, and at the same time a ring, requesting her, if
she brought forth a son, to bring the ring to Buda with the
child, and present it to him. When her time was up, the
peasant's daughter brought forth a fair son, who was baptized
by the name of John. After some time the young woman
communicated the whole affair to her elder brother, whose
name was Gaspar, and begged him to convey her and the child
to the king at Buda. The brother consented, and both set
out, taking the child with them. On their way, the woman,
wanting to wash her clothes, laid the child down, giving it
the king's ring to play with. A raven, who saw the
glittering ring, came flying, and plucking it out of the
child's hand, carried it up into a tree; the child suddenly
began to cry, and the mother, hearing it, left her washing,
and running to the child, forthwith missed the ring, but
hearing the raven croak in the tree, she lifted up her eyes,
and saw it with the ring in its beak. The woman, in great
terror, called her brother, and told him what had happened,
adding that she durst not approach the king if the raven took
away the ring. Gaspar, seizing his cross-bow and quiver, ran
to the tree, where the raven was yet with the ring, and
discharged an arrow at it, but, being in a great hurry, he
missed it; with his second shot he was more lucky, for he hit
the raven in the breast, which, together with the ring, fell
to the ground. Taking up the ring, they went on their way,
and shortly arrived at Buda. One day, as the king was
walking after dinner in his outer hall, the woman appeared
before him with the child, and, showing him the ring, said,
"Mighty lord! behold this token! and take pity upon me and
your own son." King Sigmond took the child and kissed it,
and, after a pause, said to the mother, "You have done right
in bringing me the boy; I will take care of you, and make him
a nobleman." The king was as good as his word, he provided
for the mother; caused the boy to be instructed in knightly
exercises, and made him a present of the town of Hunyad, in
Transylvania, on which account he was afterwards called
Hunyadi, and gave him, as an armorial sign, a raven bearing a
ring in his beak.
Such, oh young man of Horncastle! is the popular account of
the birth of the great captain of Hungary, as related by
Florentius of Buda. There are other accounts of his birth,
which is, indeed, involved in much mystery, and of the reason
of his being called Corvinus, but as this is the most
pleasing, and is, upon the whole, founded on quite as good
evidence as the others, I have selected it for recitation.
MYSELF. I heartily thank you; but you must tell me something
more of Hunyadi. You call him your great captain; what did
he do?
HUNGARIAN. Do! what no other man of his day could have done.
He broke the power of the Turk when he was coming to
overwhelm Europe. From the blows inflicted by Hunyadi, the
Turk never thoroughly recovered; he has been frequently
worsted in latter times, but none but Hunyadi could have
routed the armies of Amurath and Mahomed the Second.
MYSELF. How was it that he had an opportunity of displaying
his military genius?
HUNGARIAN. I can hardly tell you, but his valour soon made
him famous; King Albert made him Ban of Szorenyi. He became
eventually waivode of Transylvania, and governor of Hungary.
His first grand action was the defeat of Bashaw Isack; and
though himself surprised and routed at St. Imre, he speedily
regained his prestige by defeating the Turks, with enormous
slaughter, killing their leader, Mezerbeg; and subsequently,
at the battle of the Iron Gates, he destroyed ninety thousand
Turks, sent by Amurath to avenge the late disgrace. It was
then that the Greeks called him Achilles.
MYSELF. He was not always successful.
HUNGARIAN. Who could be always successful against the early
Turk? He was defeated in the battle in which King Vladislaus
lost his life, but his victories outnumbered his defeats
three-fold. His grandest victory - perhaps the grandest ever
achieved by man - was over the terrible Mahomed the Second;
who, after the taking of Constantinople in 1453, said, "One
God in Heaven - one king on earth;" and marched to besiege
Belgrade at the head of one hundred, and fifty thousand men;
swearing by the beard of the prophet, "That he would sup
within it ere two months were elapsed." He brought with him
dogs, to eat the bodies of the Christians whom he should take
or slay; so says Florentius; hear what he also says: The Turk
sat down before the town towards the end of June, 1454,
covering the Dunau and Szava with ships: and on the 4th of
July he began to cannonade Belgrade with cannons twenty-five
feet long, whose roar could be heard at Szeged, a distance of
twenty-four leagues, at which place Hunyadi had assembled his
forces. Hunyadi had been able to raise only fifteen thousand
of well-armed and disciplined men, though he had with him
vast bands of people, who called themselves Soldiers of the
Cross, but who consisted of inexperienced lads from school,
peasants, and hermits, armed with swords, slings, and clubs.
Hunyadi, undismayed by the great disparity between his forces
and those of the Turk, advanced to relieve Belgrade, and
encamped at Szalankemen with his army. There he saw at once,
that his first step must be to attack the flotilla; he
therefore privately informed Szilagy, his wife's brother, who
at that time defended Belgrade, that it was his intention to
attack the ships of the Turks on the 14th day of July in
front, and requested his co-operation in the rear. On the
14th came on the commencement of the great battle of
Belgrade, between Hunyadi and the Turk. Many days it lasted.
MYSELF. Describe it.
HUNGARIAN. I cannot. One has described it well - Florentius
of Buda. I can only repeat a few of his words: - "On the
appointed day, Hunyadi, with two hundred vessels, attacked
the Turkish flotilla in front, whilst Szilagy, with forty
vessels, filled with the men of Belgrade, assailed it in the
rear; striving for the same object, they sunk many of the
Turkish vessels, captured seventy-four, burnt many, and
utterly annihilated the whole fleet. After this victory,
Hunyadi, with his army, entered Belgrade, to the great joy of
the Magyars. But though the force of Mahomed upon the water
was destroyed, that upon the land remained entire; and with
this, during six days and nights, he attacked the city
without intermission, destroying its walls in many parts.
His last and most desperate assault was made on the 21st day
of July. Twice did the Turks gain possession of the outer
town, and twice was it retaken with indescribable slaughter.
The next day the combat raged without ceasing till mid-day,
when the Turks were again beaten out of the town, and pursued
by the Magyars to their camp. There the combat was renewed,
both sides displaying the greatest obstinacy, until Mahomed
received a great wound over his left eye. The Turks then,
turning their faces, fled, leaving behind them three hundred
cannon in the hands of the Christians, and more than twentyfour
thousand slain on the field of battle."
MYSELF. After that battle, I suppose Hunyadi enjoyed his
triumphs in peace?
HUNGARIAN. In the deepest, for he shortly died. His great
soul quitted his body, which was exhausted by almost
superhuman exertions, on the 11th of August, 1456. Shortly
before he died, according to Florentius, a comet appeared,
sent, as it would seem, to announce his coming end. The
whole Christian world mourned his loss. The Pope ordered the
cardinals to perform a funeral ceremony at Rome in his
honour. His great enemy himself grieved for him, and
pronounced his finest eulogium. When Mahomed the Second
heard of his death, he struck his head for some time against
the ground without speaking. Suddenly he broke silence with
these words, "Notwithstanding he was my enemy, yet do I
bewail his loss; since the sun has shone in heaven, no Prince
had ever yet such a man."
MYSELF. What was the name of his Prince?
HUNGARIAN. Laszlo the Fifth; who, though under infinite
obligations to Hunyadi, was anything but grateful to him; for
he once consented to a plan which was laid to assassinate
him, contrived by his mortal enemy Ulrik, Count of Cilejia;
and after Hunyadi's death, caused his eldest son, Hunyadi
Laszlo, to be executed on a false accusation, and imprisoned
his younger son, Matyas, who, on the death of Laszlo, was
elected by the Magyars to be their king, on the 24th of
January, 1458.
MYSELF. Was this Matyas a good king?
HUNGARIAN. Was Matyas Corvinus a good king? O young man of
Horncastle! he was the best and greatest that ever Hungary
possessed, and, after his father, the most renowned warrior,
- some of our best laws were framed by him. It was he who
organized the Hussar force, and it was he who took Vienna.
Why does your Government always send fools to represent it at
MYSELF. I really cannot say; but with respect to the Hussar
force, is it of Hungarian origin?
HUNGARIAN. Its name shows its origin. Huz, in Hungarian, is
twenty and the Hussar force is so called because it is formed
of twentieths. A law was issued by which it was ordered that
every Hungarian nobleman, out of every twenty dependents,
should produce a well-equipped horseman, and with him proceed
to the field of battle.
MYSELF. Why did Matyas capture Venna?
HUNGARIAN. Because the Emperor Frederick took part against
him with the King of Poland, who claimed the kingdom of
Hungary for his son, and had also assisted the Turk. He
captured it in the year 1487, but did not survive his triumph
long, expiring there in the year 1490. He was so veracious a
man, that it was said of him, after his death, "Truth died
with Matyas." It might be added that the glory of Hungary
departed with him. I wish to say nothing more connected with
Hungarian history.
MYSELF. Another word. Did Matyas leave a son?
HUNGARIAN. A natural son, Hunyadi John, called so after the
great man. He would have been universally acknowledged as
King of Hungary but for the illegitimacy of his birth. As it
was, Ulaszlo, the son of the King of Poland, afterwards
called Ulaszlo the Second, who claimed Hungary as being
descended from Albert, was nominated king by a great majority
of the Magyar electors. Hunyadi John for some time disputed
the throne with him; there was some bloodshed, but Hunyadi
John eventually submitted, and became the faithful captain of
Ulaszlo, notwithstanding that the Turk offered to assist him
with an army of two hundred thousand men.
MYSELF. Go on.
HUNGARIAN. To what? Tche Drak, to the Mohacs Veszedelem.
Ulaszlo left a son, Lajos the Second, born without skin, as
it is said, certainly without a head. He, contrary to the
advice of all his wise counsellors, - and amongst them was
Batory Stephen, who became eventually King of Poland -
engaged, with twenty-five thousand men, at Mohacs, Soliman
the Turk, who had an army of two hundred thousand. Drak! the
Magyars were annihilated, King Lajos disappeared with his
heavy horse and armour in a bog. We call that battle, which
was fought on the 29th of August, 1526, the destruction of
Mohacs, but it was the destruction of Hungary.
MYSELF. You have twice used the word drak, what is the
meaning of it? Is it Hungarian?
HUNGARIAN. No! it belongs to the mad Wallacks. They are a
nation of madmen on the other side of Transylvania. Their
country was formerly a fief of Hungary, like Moldavia, which
is inhabited by the same race, who speak the same language
and are equally mad.
MYSELF. What language do they speak?
HUNGARIAN. A strange mixture of Latin and Sclavonian - they
themselves being a mixed race of Romans and Sclavonians.
Trajan sent certain legions to form military colonies in
Dacia; and the present Wallacks and Moldavians are, to a
certain extent, the descendants of the Roman soldiers, who
married the women of the country. I say to a certain extent,
for the Sclavonian element both in blood and language seems
to prevail.
MYSELF. And what is drak?
HUNGARIAN. Dragon; which the Wallacks use for "devil." The
term is curious, as it shows that the old Romans looked upon
the dragon as an infernal being.
MYSELF. You have been in Wallachia?
HUNGARIAN. I have, and glad I was to get out of it. I hate
the mad Wallacks.
MYSELF. Why do you call them mad?
HUNGARIAN. They are always drinking or talking. I never saw
a Wallachian eating or silent. They talk like madmen, and
drink like madmen. In drinking they use small phials, the
contents of which they pour down their throats. When I first
went amongst them I thought the whole nation was under a
course of physic, but the terrible jabber of their tongues
soon undeceived me. Drak was the first word I heard on
entering Dacia, and the last when I left it. The Moldaves,
if possible, drink more, and talk more than the Wallachians.
MYSELF. It is singular enough that the only Moldavian I have
known could not speak. I suppose he was born dumb.
HUNGARIAN. A Moldavian born dumb! Excuse me, the thing is
impossible, - all Moldavians are born talking! I have known
a Moldavian who could not speak, but he was not born dumb.
His master, an Armenian, snipped off part of his tongue at
Adrianople. He drove him mad with his jabber. He is now in
London, where his master has a house. I have letters of
credit on the house: the clerk paid me money in London, the
master was absent; the money which you received for the horse
belonged to that house.
MYSELF. Another word with respect to Hungarian history.
HUNGARIAN. Drak! I wish to say nothing more about Hungarian
MYSELF. The Turk, I suppose, after Mohacs, got possession of
HUNGARIAN. Not exactly. The Turk, upon the whole, showed
great moderation; not so the Austrian. Ferdinand the First
claimed the crown of Hungary as being the cousin of Maria,
widow of Lajos; he found too many disposed to support him.
His claim, however, was resisted by Zapolya John, a Hungarian
magnate, who caused himself to be elected king. Hungary was
for a long time devastated by wars between the partisans of
Zapolya and Ferdinand. At last Zapolya called in the Turk.
Soliman behaved generously to him, and after his death
befriended his young son, and Isabella his queen; eventually
the Turks became masters of Transylvania and the greater part
of Hungary. They were not bad masters, and had many friends
in Hungary, especially amongst those of the reformed faith,
to which I have myself the honour of belonging; those of the
reformed faith found the Mufti more tolerant than the Pope.
Many Hungarians went with the Turks to the siege of Vienna,
whilst Tekeli and his horsemen guarded Hungary for them. A
gallant enterprise that siege of Vienna, the last great
effort of the Turk; it failed, and he speedily lost Hungary,
but he did not sneak from Hungary like a frightened hound.
His defence of Buda will not be soon forgotten, where Apty
Basha, the governor, died fighting like a lion in the breach.
There's many a Hungarian would prefer Stamboul to Vienna.
Why does your Government always send fools to represent it at
MYSELF. I have already told you that I cannot say. What
became of Tekeli?
HUNGARIAN. When Hungary was lost he retired with the Turks
into Turkey. Count Renoncourt, in his Memoirs, mentions
having seen him at Adrianople. The Sultan, in consideration
of the services which he had rendered to the Moslem in
Hungary, made over the revenues of certain towns and
districts for his subsistence. The count says that he always
went armed to the teeth, and was always attended by a young
female dressed in male attire, who had followed him in his
wars, and had more than once saved his life. His end is
wrapped in mystery, I - whose greatest boast, next to being a
Hungarian, is to be of his blood - know nothing of his end.
MYSELF. Allow me to ask who you are?
HUNGARIAN. Egy szegeny Magyar Nemes ember, a poor Hungarian
nobleman, son of one yet poorer. I was born in Transylvania,
not far to the west of good Coloscvar. I served some time in
the Austrian army as a noble Hussar, but am now equerry to a
great nobleman, to whom I am distantly related. In his
service I have travelled far and wide, buying horses. I have
been in Russia and in Turkey, and am now at Horncastle, where
I have had the satisfaction to meet with you, and to buy your
horse, which is, in truth, a noble brute.
MYSELF. For a soldier and equerry you seem to know a great
deal of the history of your country.
HUNGARIAN. All I know is derived from Florentius of Buda,
whom we call Budai Ferentz. He was professor of Greek and
Latin at the Reformed College of Debreczen, where I was
educated; he wrote a work entitled "Magyar Polgari Lexicon,"
Lives of Great Hungarian Citizens. He was dead before I was
born, but I found his book, when I was a child, in the
solitary home of my father, which stood on the confines of a
puszta, or wilderness, and that book I used to devour in
winter nights when the winds were whistling around the house.
Oh I how my blood used to glow at the descriptions of Magyar
valour, and likewise of Turkish; for Florentius has always
done justice to the Turk. Many a passage similar to this
have I got by heart; it is connected with a battle on the
plain of Rigo, which Hunyadi lost:- "The next day, which was
Friday, as the two armies were drawn up in battle array, a
Magyar hero riding forth, galloped up and down, challenging
the Turks to single combat. Then came out to meet him the
son of a renowned bashaw of Asia; rushing upon each other,
both broke their lances, but the Magyar hero and his horse
rolled over upon the ground, for the Turks had always the
best horses." O young man of Horncastle! if ever you learn
Hungarian - and learn it assuredly you will after what I have
told you - read the book of Florentius of Buda, even if you
go to Hungary to get it, for you will scarcely find it
elsewhere, and even there with difficulty, for the book has
been long out of print. It describes the actions of the
great men of Hungary down to the middle of the sixteenth
century; and besides being written in the purest Hungarian,
has the merit of having for its author a professor of the
Reformed College of Debreczen.
MYSELF. I will go to Hungary rather than not read it. I am
glad that the Turk beat the Magyar. When I used to read the
ballads of Spain I always sided with the Moor against the
HUNGARIAN. It was a drawn fight after all, for the terrible
horse of the Turk presently flung his own master, whereupon
the two champions returned to their respective armies; but in
the grand conflict which ensued, the Turks beat the Magyars,
pursuing them till night, and striking them on the necks with
their scymetars. The Turk is a noble fellow; I should wish
to be a Turk, were I not a Magyar.
MYSELF. The Turk always keeps his word, I am told.
HUNGARIAN. Which the Christian very seldom does, and even
the Hungarian does not always. In 1444 Ulaszlo made, at
Szeged, peace with Amurath for ten years, which he swore with
an oath to keep, but at the instigation of the Pope Julian he
broke it, and induced his great captain, Hunyadi John, to
share in the perjury. The consequence was the battle of
Varna, of the 10th of November, in which Hunyadi was routed,
and Ulaszlo slain. Did you ever hear his epitaph? it is both
solemn and edifying:-
Romulidae Cannas ego Varnam clade notavi;
Discite rnortales non temerare fidem:
Me nisi Pontifices jussissent rumpere foedus
Non ferret Scythicum Pannonis ora jugum."
"Halloo!" said the jockey, starting up from a doze in which
he had been indulging for the last hour, his head leaning
upon his breast, "what is that? That's not high Dutch; I
bargained for high Dutch, and I left you speaking high Dutch,
as it sounded very much like the language of horses, as I
have been told high Dutch does; but as for what you are
speaking now, whatever you may call it, it sounds more like
the language of another kind of animal. I suppose you want
to insult me, because I was once a dicky-boy."
"Nothing of the kind," said I; "the gentleman was making a
quotation in Latin."
"Latin, was it?" said the jockey; "that alters the case.
Latin is genteel, and I have sent my eldest boy to an academy
to learn it. Come, let us hear you fire away in Latin," he
continued, proceeding to re-light his pipe, which, before
going to sleep, he had laid on the table.
"If you wish to follow the discourse in Latin," said the
Hungarian, in very bad English, "I can oblige you; I learned
to speak very good Latin in the college of Debreczen."
"That's more," said I, "than I have done in the colleges
where I have been; in any little conversation which we may
yet have, I wish you would use German."
"Well," said the jockey, taking a whiff, "make your
conversation as short as possible, whether in Latin or Dutch,
for, to tell you the truth, I am rather tired of merely
playing listener."
"You were saying you had been in Russia," said I; "I believe
the Russians are part of the Sclavonian race."
HUNGARIAN. Yes, part of the great Sclavonian family; one of
the most numerous races in the world. The Russians
themselves are very numerous; would that the Magyars could
boast of the fifth part of their number!
MYSELF. What is the number of the Magyars?
HUNGARIAN. Barely four millions. We came a tribe of Tartars
into Europe, and settled down amongst Sclavonians, whom we
conquered, but who never coalesced with us. The Austrian at
present plays in Pannonia the Sclavonian against us, and us
against the Sclavonian; but the downfall of the Austrian is
at hand; they, like us, are not a numerous people.
MYSELF. Who will bring about his downfall?
HUNGARIAN. The Russians. The Rysckie Tsar will lead his
people forth, all the Sclavonians will join him, he will
conquer all before him.
MYSELF. Are the Russians good soldiers?
HUNGARIAN. They are stubborn and unflinching to an
astonishing degree, and their fidelity to their Tsar is quite
admirable. See how the Russians behaved at Plescova, in
Livonia, in the old time, against our great Batory Stephen;
they defended the place till it was a heap of rubbish, and
mark how they behaved after they had been made prisoners.
Stephen offered them two alternatives:- to enter into his
service, in which they would have good pay, clothing, and
fair treatment; or to be allowed to return to Russia.
Without the slightest hesitation they, to a man, chose the
latter, though well aware that their beloved Tsar, the cruel
Ivan Basilowits, would put them all to death, amidst tortures
the most horrible, for not doing what was impossible -
preserving the town.
MYSELF. You speak Russian?
HUNGARIAN. A little. I was born in the vicinity of a
Sclavonian tribe; the servants of our house were Sclavonians,
and I early acquired something of their language, which
differs not much from that of Russia; when in that country I
quickly understood what was said.
MYSELF. Have the Russians any literature?
HUNGARIAN. Doubtless; but I am not acquainted with it, as I
do not read their language; but I know something of their
popular tales, to which I used to listen in their izbushkas;
a principal personage in these is a creation quite original -
called Baba Yaga.
MYSELF. Who is the Baba Yaga?
HUNGARIAN. A female phantom, who is described as hurrying
along the puszta, or steppe, in a mortar, pounding with a
pestle at a tremendous rate, and leaving a long trace on the
ground behind her with her tongue, which is three yards long,
and with which she seizes any men and horses coming in her
way, swallowing them down into her capacious belly. She has
several daughters, very handsome, and with plenty of money;
happy the young Mujik who catches and marries one of them,
for they make excellent wives.
"Many thanks," said I, "for the information you have afforded
me: this is rather poor wine," I observed, as I poured out a
glass - "I suppose you have better wine in Hungary?"
"Yes, we have better wine in Hungary. First of all there is
Tokay, the most celebrated in the world, though I confess I
prefer the wine of Eger - Tokay is too sweet."
"Have you ever been at Tokay?"
"I have," said the Hungarian.
"What kind of place is Tokay?"
"A small town situated on the Tyzza, a rapid river descending
from the north; the Tokay Mountain is just behind the town,
which stands on the right bank. The top of the mountain is
called Kopacs Teto, or the bald tip; the hill is so steep
that during thunder-storms pieces frequently fall down upon
the roofs of the houses. It was planted with vines by King
Lajos, who ascended the throne in 1342. The best wine called
Tokay is, however, not made at Tokay, but at Kassau, two
leagues farther into the Carpathians, of which Tokay is a
spur. If you wish to drink the best Tokay, you must go to
Vienna, to which place all the prime is sent. For the third
time I ask you, O young man of Horncastle! why does your
Government always send fools to represent it at Vienna?"
"And for the third time I tell you, O son of Almus! that I
cannot say; perhaps, however, to drink the sweet Tokay wine;
fools, you know, always like sweet things."
"Good," said the Hungarian; "it must be so, and when I return
to Hungary, I will state to my countrymen your explanation of
a circumstance which has frequently caused them great
perplexity. Oh! the English are a clever people, and have a
deep meaning in all they do. What a vision of deep policy
opens itself to my view! they do not send their fool to
Vienna in order to gape at processions, and to bow and scrape
at a base Papist court, but to drink at the great dinners the
celebrated Tokay of Hungary, which the Hungarians, though
they do not drink it, are very proud of, and by doing so to
intimate the sympathy which the English entertain for their
fellow religionists of Hungary. Oh! the English are a deep
The Horncastle Welcome - Tzernebock and Bielebock.
THE pipe of the Hungarian had, for some time past, exhibited
considerable symptoms of exhaustion, little or no ruttling
having been heard in the tube, and scarcely a particle of
smoke, drawn through the syphon, having been emitted from the
lips of the possessor. He now rose from his seat, and going
to a corner of the room, placed his pipe against the wall,
then striding up and down the room, he cracked his fingers
several times, exclaiming, in a half-musing manner, "Oh, the
deep nation, which, in order to display its sympathy for
Hungary, sends its fool to Vienna, to drink the sweet wine of
The jockey, having looked for some time at the tall figure
with evident approbation, winked at me with that brilliant
eye of his on which there was no speck, saying, "'Did you
ever see a taller fellow?"
"Never," said I.
"Or a finer?"
"That's another question," said I, "which I am not so willing
to answer; however, as I am fond of truth, and scorn to
flatter, I will take the liberty of saying that I have seen a
"A finer! where?" said the jockey; whilst the Hungarian, who
appeared to understand what we said, stood still, and looked
full at me.
"Amongst a strange set of people," said I, "whom, if I were
to name, you would, I dare say, only laugh at me."
"Who be they?" said the jockey. "Come, don't be ashamed; I
have occasionally kept queerish company myself."
"The people whom we call gypsies," said I; "whom the Germans
call Zigeuner, and who call themselves Romany chals."
"Zigeuner!" said the Hungarian; "by Isten! I do know those
"Romany chals!" said the jockey; "whew! I begin to smell a
"What do you mean by smelling a rat?" said I.
"I'll bet a crown," said the jockey, "that you be the young
chap what certain folks call 'the Romany Rye.'"
"Ah!" said I, "how came you to know that name?"
"Be not you he?" said the jockey.
"Why, I certainly have been called by that name."
"I could have sworn it," said the jockey; then rising from
his chair, he laid his pipe on the table, took a large handbell
which stood on the side-board, and going to the door,
opened it, and commenced ringing in a most tremendous manner
on the staircase. The noise presently brought up a waiter,
to whom the jockey vociferated, "Go to your master, and tell
him to send immediately three bottles of champagne, of the
pink kind, mind you, which is twelve guineas a dozen;" the
waiter hurried away, and the jockey resumed his seat and his
pipe. I sat in silent astonishment until the waiter returned
with a basket containing the wine, which, with three long
glasses, he placed on the table. The jockey then got up, and
going to a large bow-window at the end of the room, which
looked into a court-yard, peeped out; then saying, "the coast
is clear," he shut down the principal sash which was open for
the sake of the air, and taking up a bottle of champagne, he
placed another in the hands of the Hungarian, to whom he said
something in private. The latter, who seemed to understand
him, answered by a nod. The two then going to the end of the
table fronting the window, and about eight paces from it,
stood before it, holding the bottles by their necks; suddenly
the jockey lifted up his arm. "Surely," said I, "you are not
mad enough to fling that bottle through the window?" "Here's
to the Romany Rye; here's to the sweet master," said the
jockey, dashing the bottle through the pane in so neat a
manner that scarcely a particle of glass fell into the room.
"Eljen edes csigany ur - eljen gul eray!" said the Hungarian,
swinging round his bottle, and discharging it at the window;
but, either not possessing the jockey's accuracy of aim, or
reckless of the consequences, he flung his bottle so, that it
struck against part of the wooden setting of the panes,
breaking along with the wood and itself three or four panes
to pieces. The crash was horrid, and wine and particles of
glass flew back into the room, to the no small danger of its
inmates. "What do you think of that?" said the jockey; "were
you ever so honoured before?" "Honoured!" said I. "God
preserve me in future from such honour;" and I put my finger
to my cheek, which was slightly hurt by a particle of the
glass. "That's the way we of the cofrady honour great men at
Horncastle," said the jockey. "What, you are hurt! never
mind; all the better; your scratch shows that you are the
body the compliment was paid to." "And what are you going to
do with the other bottle?" said I. "Do with it!" said the
jockey, "why, drink it, cosily and comfortably, whilst
holding a little quiet talk. The Romany Rye at Horncastle,
what an idea!"
"And what will the master of the house say to all this damage
which you have caused him!"
"What will your master say, William?" said the jockey to the
waiter, who had witnessed the singular scene just described
without exhibiting the slightest mark of surprise. William
smiled, and slightly shrugging his shoulders, replied, "Very
little, I dare say, sir; this a'n't the first time your
honour has done a thing of this kind." "Nor will it be the
first time that I shall have paid for it," said the jockey;
"well, I shall never have paid for a certain item in the bill
with more pleasure than I shall pay for it now. Come,
William, draw the cork, and let us taste the pink champagne."
The waiter drew the cork, and filled the glasses with a pinky
liquor, which bubbled, hissed, and foamed. "How do you like
it?" said the jockey, after I had imitated the example of my
companions, by despatching my portion at a draught.
"It is wonderful wine," said I; "I have never tasted
champagne before, though I have frequently heard it praised;
it more than answers my expectations; but, I confess, I
should not wish to be obliged to drink it every day."
"Nor I," said the jockey, "for every-day drinking give me a
glass of old port, or - "
"Of hard old ale," I interposed, "which, according to my
mind, is better than all the wine in the world."
"Well said, Romany Rye," said the jockey, "just my own
opinion; now, William, make yourself scarce."
The waiter withdrew, and I said to the jockey, " How did you
become acquainted with the Romany chals?"
"I first became acquainted with them," said the jockey, "when
I lived with old Fulcher the basketmaker, who took me up when
I was adrift upon the world; I do not mean the present
Fulcher, who is likewise called old Fulcher, but his father,
who has been dead this many a year; while living with him in
the caravan, I frequently met them in the green lanes, and of
latter years I have had occasional dealings with them in the
horse line."
"And the gypsies have mentioned me to you?" said I.
"Frequently," said the jockey, "and not only those of these
parts; why, there's scarcely a part of England in which I
have not heard the name of the Romany Rye mentioned by these
people. The power you have over them is wonderful; that is,
I should have thought it wonderful, had they not more than
once told me the cause."
"And what is the cause?" said I, "for I am sure I do not
"The cause is this," said the jockey, "they never heard a bad
word proceed from your mouth, and never knew you do a bad
"They are a singular people," said I.
"And what a singular language they have got," said the
"Do you know it?" said I.
"Only a few words," said the jockey, "they were always chary
in teaching me any."
"They were vary sherry to me too," said the Hungarian,
speaking in broken English; "I only could learn from them
half-a-dozen words, for example, gul eray, which, in the
czigany of my country, means sweet gentleman; or edes ur in
my own Magyar."
"Gudlo Rye, in the Romany of mine, means a sugar'd
gentleman," said I; "then there are gypsies in your country?"
"Plenty," said the Hungarian, speaking German, "and in Russia
and Turkey too; and wherever they are found, they are alike
in their ways and language. Oh, they are a strange race, and
how little known! I know little of them, but enough to say,
that one horse-load of nonsense has been written about them;
there is one Valter Scott - "
"Mind what you say about him," said I; "he is our grand
authority in matters of philology and history."
"A pretty philologist," said the Hungarian, "who makes the
gypsies speak Roth-Welsch, the dialect of thieves; a pretty
historian, who couples together Thor and Tzernebock."
"Where does he do that?" said I.
"In his conceited romance of 'Ivanhoe,' he couples Thor and
Tzernebock together, and calls them gods of the heathen
"Well," said I, "Thur or Thor was certainly a god of the
heathen Saxons."
"True," said the Hungarian; "but why couple him with
Tzernebock? Tzernebock was a word which your Valter had
picked up somewhere without knowing the meaning. Tzernebock
was no god of the Saxons, but one of the gods of the Sclaves,
on the southern side of the Baltic. The Sclaves had two
grand gods to whom they sacrificed, Tzernebock and Bielebock;
that is, the black and white gods, who represented the powers
of dark and light. They were overturned by Waldemar, the
Dane, the great enemy of the Sclaves; the account of whose
wars you will find in one fine old book, written by Saxo
Gramaticus, which I read in the library of the college of
Debreczen. The Sclaves, at one time, were masters of all the
southern shore of the Baltic, where their descendants are
still to be found, though they have lost their language, and
call themselves Germans; but the word Zernevitz near Dantzic,
still attests that the Sclavic language was once common in
those parts. Zernevitz means the thing of blackness, as
Tzernebock means the god of blackness. Prussia itself merely
means, in Sclavish, Lower Russia. There is scarcely a race
or language in the world more extended than the Sclavic. On
the other side of the Dunau you will find the Sclaves and
their language. Czernavoda is Sclavic, and means black
water; in Turkish, kara su; even as Tzernebock means black
god; and Belgrade, or Belograd, means the white town; even as
Bielebock, or Bielebog, means the white god. Oh! he is one
great ignorant, that Valter. He is going, they say, to write
one history about Napoleon. I do hope that in his history he
will couple his Thor and Tzernebock together. By my God! it
would be good diversion that."
"Walter Scott appears to be no particular favourite of
yours," said I.
"He is not," said the Hungarian; "I hate him for his slavish
principles. He wishes to see absolute power restored in this
country, and Popery also - and I hate him because - what do
you think? In one of his novels, published a few months ago,
he has the insolence to insult Hungary in the presence of one
of her sons. He makes his great braggart, Coeur de Lion,
fling a Magyar over his head. Ha! it was well for Richard
that he never felt the gripe of a Hungarian. I wish the
braggart could have felt the gripe of me, who am 'a' magyarok
kozt legkissebb,' the least among the Magyars. I do hate
that Scott, and all his vile gang of Lowlanders and
Highlanders. The black corps, the fekete regiment of Matyjas
Hunyadi, was worth all the Scots, high or low, that ever
pretended to be soldiers; and would have sent them all
headlong into the Black Sea, had they dared to confront it on
its shores; but why be angry with an ignorant, who couples
together Thor and Tzernebock? Ha! Ha!"
"You have read his novels?" said I.
"Yes, I read them now and then. I do not speak much English,
but I can read it well, and I have read some of his romances,
and mean to read his 'Napoleon,' in the hope of finding Thor
and Tzernebock coupled together in it, as in his high-flying
"Come," said the jockey, "no more Dutch, whether high or low.
I am tired of it; unless we can have some English, I am off
to bed."
"I should be very glad to hear some English," said I;
"especially from your mouth. Several things which you have
mentioned, have awakened my curiosity. Suppose you give us
your history?"
"My history?" said the jockey. "A rum idea! however, lest
conversation should lag, I'll give it you. First of all,
however, a glass of champagne to each."
After we had each taken a glass of champagne, the jockey
commenced his history.
The Jockey's Tale - Thieves' Latin - Liberties with Coin -
The Smasher in Prison - Old Fulcher - Every One has His Gift
- Fashion of the English.
"MY grandfather was a shorter, and my father was a smasher;
the one was scragg'd, and the other lagg'd."
I here interrupted the jockey by observing that his discourse
was, for the greater part, unintelligible to me.
"I do not understand much English," said the Hungarian, who,
having replenished and resumed his mighty pipe, was now
smoking away; "but, by Isten, I believe it is the gibberish
which that great ignorant Valther Scott puts into the mouths
of the folks he calls gypsies."
"Something like it, I confess," said I, "though this sounds
more genuine than his dialect, which he picked up out of the
canting vocabulary at the end of the 'English Rogue,' a book
which, however despised, was written by a remarkable genius.
What do you call the speech you were using?" said I,
addressing myself to the jockey.
"Latin," said the jockey, very coolly, "that is, that dialect
of it which is used by the light-fingered gentry."
"He is right," said the Hungarian; "it is what the Germans
call Roth-Welsch: they call it so because there are a great
many Latin words in it, introduced by the priests, who, at
the time of the Reformation, being too lazy to work and too
stupid to preach, joined the bands of thieves and robbers who
prowled about the country. Italy, as you are aware, is
called by the Germans Welschland, or the land of the
Welschers; and I may add that Wallachia derives its name from
a colony of Welschers which Trajan sent there. Welsch and
Wallack being one and the same word, and tantamount to
"I dare say you are right," said I; "but why was Italy termed
"I do not know," said the Hungarian.
"Then I think I can tell you," said I; "it was called so
because the original inhabitants were a Cimbric tribe, who
were called Gwyltiad, that is, a race of wild people, living
in coverts, who were of the same blood, and spoke the same
language as the present inhabitants of Wales. Welsh seems
merely a modification of Gwyltiad. Pray continue your
history," said I to the jockey, "only please to do so in a
language which we can understand, and first of all interpret
the sentence with which you began it."
"I told you that my grandfather was a shorter," said the
jockey, "by which is meant a gentleman who shortens or
reduces the current coin of these realms, for which practice
he was scragged, that is, hung by the scrag of the neck. And
when I said that my father was a smasher, I meant one who
passes forged notes, thereby doing his best to smash the Bank
of England; by being lagged, I meant he was laid fast, that
is, had a chain put round his leg and then transported."
"Your explanations are quite satisfactory," said I; "the
three first words are metaphorical, and the fourth, lagged,
is the old genuine Norse term, lagda, which signifies laid,
whether in durance, or in bed, has nothing to do with the
matter. What you have told me confirms me in an opinion
which I have long entertained, that thieves' Latin is a
strange mysterious speech, formed of metaphorical terms, and
words derived from the various ancient languages. Pray tell
me, now, how the gentleman, your grandfather, contrived to
shorten the coin of these realms?"
"You shall hear," said the jockey; "but I have one thing to
beg of you, which is, that when I have once begun my history
you will not interrupt me with questions, I don't like them,
they stops one, and puts one out of one's tale, and are not
wanted; for anything which I think can't be understood, I
should myself explain, without being asked. My grandfather
reduced or shortened the coin of this country by three
processes. By aquafortis, by clipping, and by filing.
Filing and clipping he employed in reducing all sorts of
coin, whether gold or silver; but aquafortis he used merely
in reducing gold coin, whether guineas, jacobuses, or
Portugal pieces, otherwise called moidores, which were at one
time as current as guineas. By laying a guinea in aquafortis
for twelve hours, he could filch from it to the value of
ninepence, and by letting it remain there for twenty-four to
the value of eighteenpence, the aquafortis eating the gold
away, and leaving it like a sediment in the vessel. He was
generally satisfied with taking the value of ninepence from a
guinea, of eighteenpence from a jacobus or moidore, or halfa-
crown from a broad Spanish piece, whether he reduced them
by aquafortis, filing, or clipping. From a five-shilling
piece, which is called a bull in Latin because it is round
like a bull's head, he would file or clip to the value of
fivepence, and from lesser coin in proportion. He was
connected with a numerous gang, or set, of people, who had
given up their minds and talents entirely to shortening."
Here I interrupted the jockey. "How singular," said I, "is
the fall and debasement of words; you talk of a gang, or set,
of shorters; you are, perhaps, not aware that gang and set
were, a thousand years ago, only connected with the great and
Divine; they are ancient Norse words, which may be found in
the heroic poems of the north, and in the Edda, a collection
of mythologic and heroic songs. In these poems we read that
such and such a king invaded Norway with a gang of heroes; or
so and so, for example, Erik Bloodaxe, was admitted to the
set of gods; but at present gang and set are merely applied
to the vilest of the vile, and the lowest of the low, - we
say a gang of thieves and shorters, or a set of authors. How
touching is this debasement of words in the course of time;
it puts me in mind of the decay of old houses and names. I
have known a Mortimer who was a hedger and ditcher, a Berners
who was born in a workhouse, and a descendant of the De
Burghs, who bore the falcon, mending old kettles, and making
horse and pony shoes in a dingle."
"Odd enough," said the jockey; "but you were saying you knew
one Berners - man or woman? I would ask."
"A woman," said I.
"What might her Christian name be?" said the jockey.
"It is not to be mentioned lightly," said I, with a sigh.
"I shouldn't wonder if it were Isopel," said the jockey with
an arch glance of his one brilliant eye.
"It was Isopel," said I; "did you know Isopel Berners?"
"Ay, and have reason to know her," said the jockey, putting
his hand into his left waistcoat pocket, as if to feel for
something, "for she gave me what I believe few men could do -
a most confounded whopping. But now, Mr. Romany Rye, I have
again to tell you that I don't like to be interrupted when
I'm speaking, and to add that if you break in upon me a third
time, you and I shall quarrel."
"Pray proceed with your story," said I; "I will not interrupt
you again."
"Good!" said the jockey. "Where was I? Oh, with a set of
people who had given up their minds to shortening! Reducing
the coin, though rather a lucrative, was a very dangerous
trade. Coin filed felt rough to the touch; coin clipped
could be easily detected by the eye; and as for coin reduced
by aquafortis, it was generally so discoloured that, unless a
great deal of pains was used to polish it, people were apt to
stare at it in a strange manner, and to say, 'What have they
been doing to this here gold?' My grandfather, as I have
said before, was connected with a gang of shorters, and
sometimes shortened money, and at other times passed off what
had been shortened by other gentry.
"Passing off what had been shortened by others was his ruin;
for once, in trying to pass off a broad piece which had been
laid in aquafortis for four-and-twenty hours, and was very
black, not having been properly rectified, he was stopped and
searched, and other reduced coins being found about him, and
in his lodgings, he was committed to prison, tried, and
executed. He was offered his life, provided he would betray
his comrades; but he told the big-wigs, who wanted him to do
so, that he would see them farther first, and died at Tyburn,
amidst the cheers of the populace, leaving my grandmother and
father, to whom he had always been a kind husband and parent
- for, setting aside the crime for which he suffered, he was
a moral man; leaving them, I say, to bewail his irreparable
"'Tis said that misfortune never comes alone; this is,
however, not always the case. Shortly after my grandfather's
misfortune, as my grandmother and her son were living in
great misery in Spitalfields, her only relation - a brother
from whom she had been estranged some years, on account of
her marriage with my grandfather, who had been in an inferior
station to herself - died, leaving all his property to her
and the child. This property consisted of a farm of about a
hundred acres, with its stock, and some money besides. My
grandmother, who knew something of business, instantly went
into the country, where she farmed the property for her own
benefit and that of her son, to whom she gave an education
suitable to a person in his condition, till he was old enough
to manage the farm himself. Shortly after the young man came
of age, my grandmother died, and my father, in about a year,
married the daughter of a farmer, from whom he expected some
little fortune, but who very much deceived him, becoming a
bankrupt almost immediately after the marriage of his
daughter, and himself and family going into the workhouse.
"My mother, however, made my father an excellent wife; and if
my father in the long run did not do well it was no fault of
hers. My father was not a bad man by nature, he was of an
easy, generous temper, the most unfortunate temper, by the
bye, for success in this life that any person can be
possessed of, as those who have it are almost sure to be made
dupes of by the designing. But, though easy and generous, he
was anything but a fool; he had a quick and witty tongue of
his own when he chose to exert it, and woe be to those who
insulted him openly, for there was not a better boxer in the
whole country round. My parents were married several years
before I came into the world, who was their first and only
child. I may be called an unfortunate creature; I was born
with this beam or scale on my left eye, which does not allow
me to see with it; and though I can see tolerably sharply
with the other, indeed more than most people can with both of
theirs, it is a great misfortune not to have two eyes like
other people. Moreover, setting aside the affair of my eye,
I had a very ugly countenance; my mouth being slightly wrung
aside, and my complexion swarthy. In fact, I looked so queer
that the gossips and neighbours, when they first saw me,
swore I was a changeling - perhaps it would have been well if
I had never been born; for my poor father, who had been
particularly anxious to have a son, no sooner saw me than he
turned away, went to the neighbouring town, and did not
return for two days. I am by no means certain that I was not
the cause of his ruin, for till I came into the world he was
fond of his home, and attended much to business, but
afterwards he went frequently into company, and did not seem
to care much about his affairs: he was, however, a kind man,
and when his wife gave him advice never struck her, nor do I
ever remember that he kicked me when I came in his way, or so
much as cursed my ugly face, though it was easy to see that
he didn't over-like me. When I was six years old I was sent
to the village-school, where I was soon booked for a dunce,
because the master found it impossible to teach me either to
read or write. Before I had been at school two years,
however, I had beaten boys four years older than myself, and
could fling a stone with my left hand (for if I am right-eyed
I am left-handed) higher and farther than any one in the
parish. Moreover, no boy could equal me at riding, and no
people ride so well or desperately as boys. I could ride a
donkey - a thing far more difficult to ride than a horse - at
full gallop over hedges and ditches, seated, or rather
floating upon his hinder part, - so, though anything but
clever, as this here Romany Rye would say, I was yet able to
do things which few other people could do. By the time I was
ten my father's affairs had got into a very desperate
condition, for he had taken to gambling and horse-racing,
and, being unsuccessful, had sold his stock, mortgaged his
estate, and incurred very serious debts. The upshot was,
that within a little time all he had was seized, himself
imprisoned, and my mother and myself put into a cottage
belonging to the parish, which, being very cold and damp, was
the cause of her catching a fever, which speedily carried her
off. I was then bound apprentice to a farmer, in whose
service I underwent much coarse treatment, cold, and hunger.
"After lying in prison near two years, my father was
liberated by an Act for the benefit of insolvent debtors; he
was then lost sight of for some time; at last, however, he
made his appearance in the neighbourhood dressed like a
gentleman, and seemingly possessed of plenty of money. He
came to see me, took me into a field, and asked me how I was
getting on. I told him I was dreadfully used, and begged him
to take me away with him; he refused, and told me to be
satisfied with my condition, for that he could do nothing for
me. I had a great love for my father, and likewise a great
admiration for him on account of his character as a boxer,
the only character which boys in general regard, so I wished
much to be with him, independently of the dog's life I was
leading where I was; I therefore said if he would not take me
with him, I would follow him; he replied that I must do no
such thing, for that if I did, it would be my ruin. I asked
him what he meant, but he made no reply, only saying that he
would go and speak to the farmer. Then taking me with him,
he went to the farmer, and in a very civil manner said that
he understood I had not been very kindly treated by him, but
he hoped that in future I should be used better. The farmer
answered in a surly tone, that I had been only too well
treated, for that I was a worthless young scoundrel; high
words ensued, and the farmer, forgetting the kind of man he
had to deal with, checked him with my grandsire's misfortune,
and said he deserved to be hanged like his father. In a
moment my father knocked him down, and on his getting up,
gave him a terrible beating, then taking me by the hand he
hastened away; as we were going down a lane he said we were
now both done for: 'I don't care a straw for that, father,'
said I, 'provided I be with you.' My father took me to the
neighbouring town, and going into the yard of a small inn, he
ordered out a pony and light cart which belonged to him, then
paying his bill, he told me to mount upon the seat, and
getting up drove away like lightning; we drove for at least
six hours without stopping, till we came to a cottage by the
side of a heath; we put the pony and cart into a shed, and
went into the cottage, my father unlocking the door with a
key which he took out of his pocket; there was nobody in the
cottage when we arrived, but shortly after there came a man
and a woman, and then some more people, and by ten o'clock at
night there were a dozen of us in the cottage. The people
were companions of my father. My father began talking to
them in Latin, but I did not understand much of the
discourse, though I believe it was about myself, as their
eyes were frequently turned to me. Some objections appeared
to be made to what he said; however, all at last seemed to be
settled, and we all sat down to some food. After that, all
the people got up and went away, with the exception of the
woman, who remained with my father and me. The next day my
father also departed, leaving me with the woman, telling me
before he went that she would teach me some things which it
behoved me to know. I remained with her in the cottage
upwards of a week; several of those who had been there coming
and going. The woman, after making me take an oath to be
faithful, told me that the people whom I had seen were a gang
who got their livelihood by passing forged notes, and that my
father was a principal man amongst them, adding, that I must
do my best to assist them. I was a poor ignorant child at
that time, and I made no objection, thinking that whatever my
father did must be right; the woman then gave me some
instructions in the smasher's dialect of the Latin language.
I made great progress, because, for the first time in my
life, I paid great attention to my lessons. At last my
father returned, and, after some conversation with the woman,
took me away in his cart. I shall be very short about what
happened to my father and myself during two years. My father
did his best to smash the Bank of England by passing forged
notes, and I did my best to assist him. We attended races
and fairs in all kinds of disguises; my father was a firstrate
hand at a disguise, and could appear of all ages, from
twenty to fourscore; he was, however, grabbed at last. He
had said, as I have told you, that he should be my ruin, but
I was the cause of his, and all owing to the misfortune of
this here eye of mine. We came to this very place of
Horncastle, where my father purchased two horses of a young
man, paying for them with three forged notes, purporting to
be Bank of Englanders of fifty pounds each, and got the young
man to change another of the like amount; he at that time
appeared as a respectable dealer, and I as his son, as I
really was.
"As soon as we had got the horses, we conveyed them to one of
the places of call belonging to our gang, of which there were
several. There they were delivered into the hands of our
companions, who speedily sold them in a distant part of the
country. The sum which they fetched - for the gang kept very
regular accounts - formed an important item on the next day
of sharing, of which there were twelve in the year. The
young man, whom my father had paid for the horses with his
smashing notes, was soon in trouble about them, and ran some
risk, as I heard, of being executed; but he bore a good
character, told a plain story, and, above all, had friends,
and was admitted to bail; to one of his friends he described
my father and myself. This person happened to be at an inn
in Yorkshire, where my father, disguised as a Quaker,
attempted to pass a forged note. The note was shown to this
individual, who pronounced it a forgery, it being exactly
similar to those for which the young man had been in trouble,
and which he had seen. My father, however, being supposed a
respectable man, because he was dressed as a Quaker - the
very reason, by the bye, why anybody who knew aught of the
Quakers would have suspected him to be a rogue - would have
been let go, had I not made my appearance, dressed as his
footboy. The friend of the young man looked at my eye, and
seized hold of my father, who made a desperate resistance, I
assisting him, as in duty bound. Being, however, overpowered
by numbers, he bade me by a look, and a word or two in Latin,
to make myself scarce. Though my heart was fit to break, I
obeyed my father, who was speedily committed. I followed him
to the county town in which he was lodged, where shortly
after I saw him tried, convicted, and condemned. I then,
having made friends with the jailor's wife, visited him in
his cell, where I found him very much cast down. He said,
that my mother had appeared to him in a dream, and talked to
him about a resurrection and Christ Jesus; there was a Bible
before him, and he told me the chaplain had just been praying
with him. He reproached himself much, saying, he was afraid
he had been my ruin, by teaching me bad habits. I told him
not to say any such thing, for that I had been the cause of
his, owing to the misfortune of my eye. He begged me to give
over all unlawful pursuits, saying, that if persisted in,
they were sure of bringing a person to destruction. I
advised him to try and make his escape, proposing, that when
the turnkey came to let me out, he should knock him down, and
fight his way out, offering to assist him; showing him a
small saw, with which one of our companions, who was in the
neighbourhood, had provided me, and with which he could have
cut through his fetters in five minutes; but he told me he
had no wish to escape, and was quite willing to die. I was
rather hard at that time; I am not very soft now; and I felt
rather ashamed of my father's want of what I called spirit.
He was not executed after all; for the chaplain, who was
connected with a great family, stood his friend, and got his
sentence commuted, as they call it, to transportation; and in
order to make the matter easy, he induced my father to make
some valuable disclosures with respect to the smashers'
system. I confess that I would have been hanged before I
would have done so, after having reaped the profit of it;
that is, I think so now, seated comfortably in my inn, with
my bottle of champagne before me. He, however, did not show
himself carrion; he would not betray his companions, who had
behaved very handsomely to him, having given the son of a
lord, a great barrister, not a hundred-pound forged bill, but
a hundred hard guineas, to plead his cause, and another ten,
to induce him, after pleading, to put his hand to his breast,
and say, that, upon his honour, he believed the prisoner at
the bar to be an honest and injured man. No; I am glad to be
able to say, that my father did not show himself exactly
carrion, though I could almost have wished he had let himself
- However, I am here with my bottle of champagne and the
Romany Rye, and he was in his cell, with bread and water and
the prison chaplain. He took an affectionate leave of me
before he was sent away, giving me three out of five guineas,
all the money he had left. He was a kind man, but not
exactly fitted to fill my grandfather's shoes. I afterwards
learned that he died of fever, as he was being carried across
the sea.
"During the 'sizes I had made acquaintance with old Fulcher.
I was in the town on my father's account, and he was there on
his son's, who, having committed a small larceny, was in
trouble. Young Fulcher, however, unlike my father, got off,
though he did not give the son of a lord a hundred guineas to
speak for him, and ten more to pledge his sacred honour for
his honesty, but gave Counsellor P- one-and-twenty shillings
to defend him, who so frightened the principal evidence, a
plain honest farming-man, that he flatly contradicted what he
had first said, and at last acknowledged himself to be all
the rogues in the world, and, amongst other things, a
perjured villain. Old Fulcher, before he left the town with
his son, - and here it will be well to say that he and his
son left it in a kind of triumph, the base drummer of a
militia regiment, to whom they had given half-a-crown,
beating his drum before them - old Fulcher, I say, asked me
to go and visit him, telling me where, at such a time, I
might find him and his caravan and family; offering, if I
thought fit, to teach me basket-making: so, after my father
had been sent off, I went and found up old Fulcher, and
became his apprentice in the basket-making line. I stayed
with him till the time of his death, which happened in about
three months, travelling about with him and his family, and
living in green lanes, where we saw gypsies and trampers, and
all kinds of strange characters. Old Fulcher, besides being
an industrious basket-maker, was an out-and-out thief, as was
also his son, and, indeed, every member of his family. They
used to make baskets during the day, and thieve during a
great part of the night. I had not been with them twelve
hours before old Fulcher told me that I must thieve as well
as the rest. I demurred at first, for I remembered the fate
of my father, and what he had told me about leaving off bad
courses, but soon allowed myself to be over-persuaded; more
especially as the first robbery I was asked to do was a fruit
robbery. I was to go with young Fulcher, and steal some fine
Morell cherries, which grew against a wall in a gentleman's
garden; so young Fulcher and I went and stole the cherries,
one half of which we ate, and gave the rest to the old man,
who sold them to a fruiterer ten miles off from the place
where we had stolen them. The next night old Fulcher took me
out with himself. He was a great thief, though in a small
way. He used to say, that they were fools, who did not
always manage to keep the rope below their shoulders, by
which he meant, that it was not advisable to commit a
robbery, or do anything which could bring you to the gallows.
He was all for petty larceny, and knew where to put his hand
upon any little thing in England, which it was possible to
steal. I submit it to the better judgment of the Romany Rye,
who I see is a great hand for words and names, whether he
ought not to have been called old Filcher, instead of
Fulcher. I shan't give a regular account of the larcenies he
committed during the short time I knew him, either alone by
himself, or with me and his son. I shall merely relate the
"A melancholy gentleman, who lived a very solitary life, had
a large carp in a shady pond in a meadow close to his house;
he was exceedingly fond of it, and used to feed it with his
own hand, the creature being so tame that it would put its
snout out of the water to be fed when it was whistled to;
feeding and looking at his carp were the only pleasures the
poor melancholy gentleman possessed. Old Fulcher - being in
the neighbourhood, and having an order from a fishmonger for
a large fish, which was wanted at a great city dinner, at
which His Majesty was to be present - swore he would steal
the carp, and asked me to go with him. I had heard of the
gentleman's fondness for his creature, and begged him to let
it be, advising him to go and steal some other fish; but old
Fulcher swore, and said he would have the carp, although its
master should hang himself; I told him he might go by
himself, but he took his son and stole the carp, which
weighed seventeen pounds. Old Fulcher got thirty shillings
for the carp, which I afterwards heard was much admired and
relished by His Majesty. The master, however, of the carp,
on losing his favourite, became more melancholy than ever,
and in a little time hanged himself. 'What's sport for one,
is death to another,' I once heard at the village-school read
out of a copy-book.
"This was the last larceny old Fulcher ever committed. He
could keep his neck always out of the noose, but he could not
always keep his leg out of the trap. A few nights after,
having removed to a distance, he went to an osier car in
order to steal some osiers for his basket-making, for he
never bought any. I followed a little way behind. Old
Fulcher had frequently stolen osiers out of the car, whilst
in the neighbourhood, but during his absence the property, of
which the car was a part, had been let to a young gentleman,
a great hand for preserving game. Old Fulcher had not got
far into the car before he put his foot into a man-trap.
Hearing old Fulcher shriek, I ran up, and found him in a
dreadful condition. Putting a large stick which I carried
into the jaws of the trap, I contrived to prize them open,
and get old Fulcher's leg out, but the leg was broken. So I
ran to the caravan, and told young Fulcher of what had
happened, and he and I helped his father home. A doctor was
sent for, who said that it was necessary to take the leg off,
but old Fulcher, being very much afraid of pain, said it
should not be taken off, and the doctor went away, but after
some days, old Fulcher becoming worse, ordered the doctor to
be sent for, who came and took off his leg, but it was then
too late, mortification had come on, and in a little time old
Fulcher died.
"Thus perished old Fulcher; he was succeeded in his business
by his son, young Fulcher, who, immediately after the death
of his father, was called old Fulcher, it being our English
custom to call everybody old, as soon as their fathers are
buried; young Fulcher - I mean he who had been called young,
but was now old Fulcher - wanted me to go out and commit
larcenies with him; but I told him that I would have nothing
more to do with thieving, having seen the ill effects of it,
and that I should leave them in the morning. Old Fulcher
begged me to think better of it, and his mother joined with
him. They offered, if I would stay, to give me Mary Fulcher
as a mort, till she and I were old enough to be regularly
married, she being the daughter of the one, and the sister of
the other. I liked the girl very well, for she had always
been civil to me, and had a fair complexion and nice red
hair, both of which I like, being a bit of a black myself;
but I refused, being determined to see something more of the
world than I could hope to do with the Fulchers, and,
moreover, to live honestly, which I could never do along with
them. So the next morning I left them: I was, as I said
before, quite determined upon an honest livelihood, and I
soon found one. He is a great fool who is ever dishonest in
England. Any person who has any natural gift, and everybody
has some natural gift, is sure of finding encouragement in
this noble country of ours, provided he will but exhibit it.
I had not walked more than three miles before I came to a
wonderfully high church steeple, which stood close by the
road; I looked at the steeple, and going to a heap of smooth
pebbles which lay by the roadside, I took up some, and then
went into the churchyard, and placing myself just below the
tower, my right foot resting on a ledge, about two foot from
the ground, I, with my left hand - being a left-handed
person, do you see - flung or chucked up a stone, which,
lighting on the top of the steeple, which was at least a
hundred and fifty feet high, did there remain. After
repeating this feat two or three times, I 'hulled' up a
stone, which went clean over the tower, and then one, my
right foot still on the ledge, which rising at least five
yards above the steeple, did fall down just at my feet.
Without knowing it, I was showing off my gift to others
besides myself, doing what, perhaps, not five men in England
could do. Two men, who were passing by, stopped and looked
at my proceedings, and when I had done flinging came into the
churchyard, and, after paying me a compliment on what they
had seen me do, proposed that I should join company with
them; I asked them who they were, and they told me. The one
was Hopping Ned, and the other Biting Giles. Both had their
gifts, by which they got their livelihood; Ned could hop a
hundred yards with any man in England, and Giles could lift
up with his teeth any dresser or kitchen-table in the
country, and, standing erect, hold it dangling in his jaws.
There's many a big oak table and dresser in certain districts
of England, which bear the marks of Giles's teeth; and I make
no doubt that, a hundred or two years hence, there'll be
strange stories about those marks, and that people will point
them out as a proof that there were giants in bygone time,
and that many a dentist will moralize on the decays which
human teeth have undergone.
"They wanted me to go about with them, and exhibit my gift
occasionally, as they did theirs, promising that the money
that was got by the exhibitions should be honestly divided.
I consented, and we set off together, and that evening coming
to a village, and putting up at the ale-house, all the grand
folks of the village being there smoking their pipes, we
contrived to introduce the subject of hopping - the upshot
being that Ned hopped against the school-master for a pound,
and beat him hollow; shortly after, Giles, for a wager, took
up the kitchen table in his jaws, though he had to pay a
shilling to the landlady for the marks he left, whose
grandchildren will perhaps get money by exhibiting them. As
for myself, I did nothing that day, but the next, on which my
companions did nothing, I showed off at hulling stones
against a cripple, the crack man for stone-throwing, of a
small town, a few miles farther on. Bets were made to the
tune of some pounds; I contrived to beat the cripple, and
just contrived; for to do him justice I must acknowledge he
was a first-rate hand at stones, though he had a game hip,
and went sideways; his head, when he walked - if his
movements could be called walking - not being above three
feet above the ground. So we travelled, I and my companions,
showing off our gifts, Giles and I occasionally for a
gathering, but Ned never hopping, unless against somebody for
a wager. We lived honestly and comfortably, making no little
money by our natural endowments, and were known over a great
part of England as 'Hopping Ned,' 'Biting Giles,' and 'Hull
over the Head Jack,' which was my name, it being the
blackguard fashion of the English, do you see, to - "
Here I interrupted the jockey. "You may call it a blackguard
fashion," said I, "and I dare say it is, or it would scarcely
be English; but it is an immensely ancient one, and is handed
down to us from our northern ancestry, especially the Danes,
who were in the habit of giving people surnames, or rather
nicknames, from some quality of body or mind, but generally
from some disadvantageous peculiarity of feature; for there
is no denying that the English, Norse, or whatever we may
please to call them, are an envious, depreciatory set of
people, who not only give their poor comrades contemptuous
names, but their great people also. They didn't call you the
matchless Hurler, because, by doing so, they would have paid
you a compliment, but Hull over the Head Jack, as much as to
say that after all you were a scrub; so, in ancient time,
instead of calling Regner the great conqueror, the Nation
Tamer, they surnamed him Lodbrog, which signifies Rough or
Hairy Breeks - lod or loddin signifying rough or hairy; and
instead of complimenting Halgerdr, the wife of Gunnar of
Hlitharend, the great champion of Iceland, upon her majestic
presence, by calling her Halgerdr, the stately or tall; what
must they do but term her Ha-brokr, or Highbreeks, it being
the fashion in old times for Northern ladies to wear breeks,
or breeches, which English ladies of the present day never
think of doing; and just, as of old, they called Halgerdr
Long-breeks, so this very day a fellow of Horncastle called,
in my hearing, our noble-looking Hungarian friend here, Longstockings.
Oh, I could give you a hundred instances, both
ancient and modern, of this unseemly propensity of our
illustrious race, though I will only trouble you with a few
more ancient ones; they not only nicknamed Regner, but his
sons also, who were all kings, and distinguished men: one,
whose name was Biorn, they nicknamed Ironsides; another,
Sigurd, Snake in the Eye; another, White Sark, or White Shirt
- I wonder they did not call him Dirty Shirt; and Ivarr,
another, who was king of Northumberland, they called
Bienlausi, or the Legless, because he was spindle-shanked,
had no sap in his bones, and consequently no children. He
was a great king, it is true, and very wise, nevertheless his
blackguard countrymen, always averse, as their descendants
are, to give credit to anybody, for any valuable quality or
possession, must needs lay hold, do you see - "
But before I could say any more, the jockey, having laid down
his pipe, rose, and having taken off his coat, advanced
towards me.
A Short-tempered Person - Gravitation - The Best Endowment -
Mary Fulcher - Fair Dealing - Horse-witchery - Darius and his
Groom - The Jockey's Tricks - The Two Characters - The
Jockey's Song.
THE jockey, having taken off his coat and advanced towards
me, as I have stated in the preceding chapter, exclaimed, in
an angry tone, "This is the third time you have interrupted
me in my tale, Mr. Rye; I passed over the two first times
with a simple warning, but you will now please to get up and
give me the satisfaction of a man."
"I am really sorry," said I, "if I have given you offence,
but you were talking of our English habits of bestowing
nicknames, and I could not refrain from giving a few examples
tending to prove what a very ancient habit it is."
"But you interrupted me," said the jockey, "and put me out of
my tale, which you had no right to do; and as for your
examples, how do you know that I wasn't going to give some as
old or older than yourn? Now stand up, and I'll make an
example of you."
"Well," said I, "I confess it was wrong in me to interrupt
you, and I ask your pardon."
"That won't do," said the jockey, "asking pardon won't do."
"Oh," said I, getting up, "if asking pardon does not satisfy
you, you are a different man from what I considered you."
But here the Hungarian, also getting up, interposed his tall
form and pipe between us, saying in English, scarcely
intelligible, "Let there be no dispute! As for myself, I am
very much obliged to the young man of Horncastle for his
interruption, though he has told me that one of his dirty
townsmen called me 'Long-stocking.' By Isten! there is more
learning in what he has just said than in all the verdammt
English histories of Thor and Tzernebock I ever read."
"I care nothing for his learning," said the jockey. "I
consider myself as good a man as he, for all his learning; so
stand out of the way, Mr. Sixfooteleven, or - "
"I shall do no such thing," said the Hungarian. "I wonder
you are not ashamed of yourself. You ask a young man to
drink champagne with you, you make him dronk, he interrupt
you with very good sense; he ask your pardon, yet you not - "
"Well," said the jockey, "I am satisfied. I am rather a
short-tempered person, but I bear no malice. He is, as you
say, drinking my wine, and has perhaps taken a drop too much,
not being used to such high liquor; but one doesn't like to
be put out of one's tale, more especially when one was about
to moralize, do you see, oneself, and to show off what little
learning one has. However, I bears no malice. Here is a
hand to each of you; we'll take another glass each, and think
no more about it."
The jockey having shaken both of our hands, and filled our
glasses and his own with what champagne remained in the
bottle, put on his coat, sat down, and resumed his pipe and
"Where was I? Oh, roaming about the country with Hopping Ned
and Biting Giles. Those were happy days, and a merry and
prosperous life we led. However, nothing continues under the
sun in the same state in which it begins, and our firm was
soon destined to undergo a change. We came to a village
where there was a very high church steeple, and in a little
time my comrades induced a crowd of people to go and see me
display my gift by flinging stones above the heads of
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, who stood at the four corners
on the top, carved in stone. The parson, seeing the crowd,
came waddling out of his rectory to see what was going on.
After I had flung up the stones, letting them fall just where
I liked - and one, I remember, fell on the head of Mark,
where I dare say it remains to the present day - the parson,
who was one of the description of people called philosophers,
held up his hand, and asked me to let the next stone I flung
up fall upon it. He wished, do you see, to know with what
weight the stone would fall down, and talked something about
gravitation - a word which I could never understand to the
present day, save that it turned out a grave matter to me.
I, like a silly fellow myself, must needs consent, and,
flinging the stone up to a vast height, contrived so that it
fell into the parson's hand, which it cut dreadfully. The
parson flew into a great rage, more particularly as everybody
laughed at him, and, being a magistrate, ordered his clerk,
who was likewise constable, to conduct me to prison as a
rogue and vagabond, telling my comrades that if they did not
take themselves off, he would serve them in the same manner.
So Ned hopped off, and Giles ran after him, without making
any gathering, and I was led to Bridewell, my mittimus
following at the end of a week, the parson's hand not
permitting him to write before that time. In the Bridewell I
remained a month, when, being dismissed, I went in quest of
my companions, whom, after some time, I found up, but they
refused to keep my company any longer; telling me that I was
a dangerous character, likely to bring them more trouble than
profit; they had, moreover, filled up my place. Going into a
cottage to ask for a drink of water, they saw a country
fellow making faces to amuse his children; the faces were so
wonderful that Hopping Ned and Biting Giles at once proposed
taking him into partnership, and the man - who was a fellow
not very fond of work - after a little entreaty, went away
with them. I saw him exhibit his gift, and couldn't blame
the others for preferring him to me; he was a proper ugly
fellow at all times, but when he made faces his countenance
was like nothing human. He was called Ugly Moses. I was so
amazed at his faces, that though poor myself I gave him
sixpence, which I have never grudged to this day, for I never
saw anything like them. The firm throve wonderfully after he
had been admitted into it. He died some little time ago,
keeper of a public-house, which he had been enabled to take
from the profits of his faces. A son of his, one of the
children he was making faces to when my comrades entered his
door, is at present a barrister, and a very rising one. He
has his gift - he has not, it is true, the gift of the gab,
but he has something better, he was born with a grin on his
face, a quiet grin; he would not have done to grin through a
collar like his father, and would never have been taken up by
Hopping Ned and Biting Giles, but that grin of his caused him
to be noticed by a much greater person than either; an
attorney observing it took a liking to the lad, and
prophesied that he would some day be heard of in the world;
and in order to give him the first lift, took him into his
office, at first to light fires and do such kind of work, and
after a little time taught him to write, then promoted him to
a desk, articled him afterwards, and being unmarried, and
without children, left him what he had when he died. The
young fellow, after practising at the law some time, went to
the bar, where, in a few years, helped on by his grin, for he
had nothing else to recommend him, he became, as I said
before, a rising barrister. He comes our circuit, and I
occasionally employ him, when I am obliged to go to law about
such a thing as an unsound horse. He generally brings me
through - or rather that grin of his does - and yet I don't
like the fellow, confound him, but I'm an oddity - no, the
one I like, and whom I generally employ, is a fellow quite
different, a bluff sturdy dog, with no grin on his face, but
with a look that seems to say I am an honest man, and what
cares I for any one? And an honest man he is, and something
more. I have known coves with a better gift of the gab,
though not many, but he always speaks to the purpose, and
understands law thoroughly; and that's not all. When at
college, for he has been at college, he carried off
everything before him as a Latiner, and was first-rate at a
game they call matthew mattocks. I don't exactly know what
it is, but I have heard that he who is first-rate at matthew
mattocks is thought more of than if he were first-rate
"Well, the chap that I'm talking about, not only came out
first-rate Latiner, but first-rate at matthew mattocks too;
doing, in fact, as I am told by those who knows, for I was
never at college myself, what no one had ever done before.
Well, he makes his appearance at our circuit, does very well,
of course, but he has a somewhat high front, as becomes an
honest man, and one who has beat every one at Latin and
matthew mattocks; and one who can speak first-rate law and
sense; - but see now, the cove with the grin, who has like
myself never been at college; knows nothing of Latin, or
matthew mattocks, and has no particular gift of the gab, has
two briefs for his one, and I suppose very properly, for that
grin of his curries favour with the juries; and mark me, that
grin of his will enable him to beat the other in the long
run. We all know what all barrister coves looks forward to -
a seat on the hop sack. Well, I'll bet a bull to fivepence,
that the grinner gets upon it, and the snarler doesn't; at
any rate, that he gets there first. I calls my cove - for he
is my cove - a snarler; because your first-rates at matthew
mattocks are called snarlers, and for no other reason; for
the chap, though with a high front, is a good chap, and once
drank a glass of ale with me, after buying an animal out of
my stable. I have often thought it a pity he wasn't born
with a grin on his face like the son of Ugly MOSES. It is
true he would scarcely then have been an out and outer at
Latin and matthew mattocks, but what need of either to a chap
born with a grin? Talk of being born with a silver spoon in
one's mouth! give me a cove born with a grin on his face - a
much better endowment.
"I will now shorten my history as much as I can, for we have
talked as much as folks do during a whole night in the
Commons' House, though, of course, not with so much learning,
or so much to the purpose, because - why? They are in the
House of Commons, and we in a public room of an inn at
Horncastle. The goodness of the ale, do ye see, never
depending on what it is made of, oh, no! but on the fashion
and appearance of the jug in which it is served up. After
being turned out of the firm, I got my living in two or three
honest ways, which I shall not trouble you with describing.
I did not like any of them, however, as they did not exactly
suit my humour; at last I found one which did. One Saturday
afternoon, I chanced to be in the cattle-market of a place
about eighty miles from here; there I won the favour of an
old gentleman who sold dickeys. He had a very shabby squad
of animals, without soul or spirit; nobody would buy them,
till I leaped upon their hinder ends, and by merely wriggling
in a particular manner, made them caper and bound so to
people's liking, that in a few hours every one of them was
sold at very sufficient prices. The old gentleman was so
pleased with my skill, that he took me home with him, and in
a very little time into partnership. It's a good thing to
have a gift, but yet better to have two. I might have got a
very decent livelihood by throwing stones, but I much
question whether I should ever have attained to the position
in society which I now occupy, but for my knowledge of
animals. I lived very comfortably with the old gentleman
till he died, which he did in about a fortnight after he had
laid his old lady in the ground. Having no children, he left
me what should remain after he had been buried decently, and
the remainder was six dickeys and thirty shillings in silver.
I remained in the dickey trade ten years, during which time I
saved a hundred pounds. I then embarked in the horse line.
One day, being in the - market on a Saturday, I saw Mary
Fulcher with a halter round her neck, led about by a man, who
offered to sell her for eighteen-pence. I took out the money
forthwith and bought her; the man was her husband, a basketmaker,
with whom she had lived several years without having
any children; he was a drunken, quarrel-some fellow, and
having had a dispute with her the day before, he determined
to get rid of her, by putting a halter round her neck and
leading her to the cattle-market, as if she were a mare,
which he had, it seems, a right to do; - all women being
considered mares by old English law, and, indeed, still
called mares in certain counties, where genuine old English
is still preserved. That same afternoon, the man who had
been her husband, having got drunk in a public-house, with
the money which he had received for her, quarrelled with
another man, and receiving a blow under the ear, fell upon
the floor, and died of artiflex; and in less than three weeks
I was married to Mary Fulcher, by virtue of regular bans. I
am told she was legally my property by virtue of my having
bought her with a halter round her neck; but, to tell you the
truth, I think everybody should live by his trade, and I
didn't wish to act shabbily towards our parson, who is a good
fellow, and has certainly a right to his fees. A better wife
than Mary Fulcher - I mean Mary Dale - no one ever had; she
has borne me several children, and has at all times shown a
willingness to oblige me, and to be my faithful wife.
Amongst other things, I begged her to have done with her
family, and I believe she has never spoken to them since.
"I have thriven very well in business, and my name is up as
being a person who can be depended on, when folks treats me
handsomely. I always make a point when a gentleman comes to
me, and says, 'Mr. Dale,' or 'John,' for I have no objection
to be called John by a gentleman - 'I wants a good horse, and
am ready to pay a good price' - I always makes a point, I
say, to furnish him with an animal worth the money; but when
I sees a fellow, whether he calls himself gentleman or not,
wishing to circumvent me, what does I do? I doesn't quarrel
with him; not I; but, letting him imagine he is taking me in,
I contrives to sell him a screw for thirty pounds, not worth
thirty shillings. All honest respectable people have at
present great confidence in me, and frequently commissions me
to buy them horses at great fairs like this.
"This short young gentleman was recommended to me by a great
landed proprietor, to whom he bore letters of recommendation
from some great prince in his own country, who had a long
time ago been entertained at the house of the landed
proprietor, and the consequence is, that I brings young six
foot six to Horncastle, and purchases for him the horse of
the Romany Rye. I don't do these kind things for nothing, it
is true; that can't be expected; for every one must live by
his trade; but, as I said before, when I am treated
handsomely, I treat folks so. Honesty, I have discovered, as
perhaps some other people have, is by far the best policy;
though, as I also said before, when I'm along with thieves, I
can beat them at their own game. If I am obliged to do it, I
can pass off the veriest screw as a flying drummedary, for
even when I was a child I had found out by various means what
may be done with animals. I wish now to ask a civil
question, Mr. Romany Rye. Certain folks have told me that
you are a horse witch; are you one, or are you not?"
"I, like yourself," said I, "know, to a certain extent, what
may be done with animals."
"Then how would you, Mr. Romany Rye, pass off the veriest
screw in the world for a flying drummedary?"
"By putting a small live eel down his throat; as long as the
eel remained in his stomach, the horse would appear brisk and
lively in a surprising degree."
"And how would you contrive to make a regular kicker and
biter appear so tame and gentle, that any respectable fat old
gentleman of sixty, who wanted an easy goer, would be glad to
purchase him for fifty pounds?"
"By pouring down his throat four pints of generous old ale,
which would make him so happy and comfortable, that he would
not have the heart to kick or bite anybody, for a season at
"And where did you learn all this?" said the jockey.
"I have read about the eel in an old English book, and about
the making drunk in a Spanish novel, and, singularly enough,
I was told the same things by a wild blacksmith in Ireland.
Now tell me, do you bewitch horses in this way?"
"I?" said the jockey; "mercy upon us! I wouldn't do such
things for a hatful of money. No, no, preserve me from live
eels and hocussing! And now let me ask you, how would you
spirit a horse out of a field?"
"How would I spirit a horse out of a field?"
"Yes; supposing you were down in the world, and had
determined on taking up the horse-stealing line of business."
"Why, I should - But I tell you what, friend, I see you are
trying to pump me, and I tell you plainly that I will hear
something from you with respect to your art, before I tell
you anything more. Now how would you whisper a horse out of
a field, provided you were down in the world, and so forth?"
"Ah, ah, I see you are up to a game, Mr. Romany: however, I
am a gentleman in mind, if not by birth, and I scorn to do
the unhandsome thing to anybody who has dealt fairly towards
me. Now you told me something I didn't know, and I'll tell
you something which perhaps you do know. I whispers a horse
out of a field in this way: I have a mare in my stable; well,
in the early season of the year I goes into my stable - Well,
I puts the sponge into a small bottle which I keeps corked.
I takes my bottle in my hand, and goes into a field, suppose
by night, where there is a very fine stag horse. I manage
with great difficulty to get within ten yards of the horse,
who stands staring at me just ready to run away. I then
uncorks my bottle, presses my fore-finger to the sponge, and
holds it out to the horse, the horse gives a sniff, then a
start, and comes nearer. I corks up my bottle and puts it
into my pocket. My business is done, for the next two hours
the horse would follow me anywhere - the difficulty, indeed,
would be to get rid of him. Now is that your way of doing
"My way of doing business? Mercy upon us! I wouldn't steal
a horse in that way, or, indeed, in any way, for all the
money in the world: however, let me tell you, for your
comfort, that a trick somewhat similar is described in the
history of Herodotus."
"In the history of Herod's ass!" said the jockey; "well, if I
did write a book, it should be about something more genteel
than a dickey."
"I did not say Herod's ass," said I, "but Herodotus, a very
genteel writer, I assure you, who wrote a history about very
genteel people, in a language no less genteel than Greek,
more than two thousand years ago. There was a dispute as to
who should be king amongst certain imperious chieftains. At
last they agreed to obey him whose horse should neigh first
on a certain day, in front of the royal palace, before the
rising of the sun; for you must know that they did not
worship the person who made the sun as we do, but the sun
itself. So one of these chieftains, talking over the matter
to his groom, and saying he wondered who would be king, the
fellow said, 'Why you, master, or I don't know much about
horses.' So the day before the day of trial, what does the
groom do, but take his master's horse before the palace and
introduce him to a mare in the stable, and then lead him
forth again. Well, early the next day all the chieftains on
their horses appeared in front of the palace before the dawn
of day. Not a horse neighed but one, and that was the horse
of him who had consulted with his groom, who, thinking of the
animal within the stable, gave such a neigh that all the
buildings rang. His rider was forthwith elected king, and a
brave king he was. So this shows what seemingly wonderful
things may be brought about by a little preparation."
"It doth," said the jockey; "what was the chap's name?"
"His name - his name - Darius Hystaspes."
"And the groom's?"
"I don't know."
"And he made a good king?"
"Only think! well, if he made a good king, what a wonderful
king the groom would have made, through whose knowledge of
'orses he was put on the throne. And now another question,
Mr. Romany Rye, have you particular words which have power to
soothe or aggravate horses?"
"You should ask me," said I, "whether I have horses that can
be aggravated or soothed by particular words. No words have
any particular power over horses or other animals who have
never heard them before - how, should they? But certain
animals connect ideas of misery or enjoyment with particular
words which they are acquainted with. I'll give you an
example. I knew a cob in Ireland that could be driven to a
state of kicking madness by a particular word, used by a
particular person, in a particular tone; but that word was
connected with a very painful operation which had been
performed upon him by that individual, who had frequently
employed it at a certain period whilst the animal had been
under his treatment. The same cob could be soothed in a
moment by another word, used by the same individual in a very
different kind of tone; the word was deaghblasda, or sweet
tasted. Some time after the operation, whilst the cob was
yet under his hands, the fellow - who was what the Irish call
a fairy smith - had done all he could to soothe the creature,
and had at last succeeded by giving it gingerbread-buttons,
of which the cob became passionately fond. Invariably,
however, before giving it a button, he said, 'Deaghblasda,'
with which word the cob by degrees associated an idea of
unmixed enjoyment: so if he could rouse the cob to madness by
the word which recalled the torture to its remembrance, he
could as easily soothe it by the other word, which the cob
knew would be instantly followed by the button, which the
smith never failed to give him after using the word
"There is nothing wonderful to be done," said the jockey,
"without a good deal of preparation, as I know myself. Folks
stare and wonder at certain things which they would only
laugh at if they knew how they were done; and to prove what I
say is true, I will give you one or two examples. Can either
of you lend me a handkerchief? That won't do," said he, as I
presented him with a silk one. "I wish for a delicate white
handkerchief. That's just the kind of thing," said he, as
the Hungarian offered him a fine white cambric handkerchief,
beautifully worked with gold at the hems; "now you shall see
me set this handkerchief on fire." "Don't let him do so by
any means," said the Hungarian, speaking to me in German, "it
is the gift of a lady whom I highly admire, and I would not
have it burnt for the world." "He has no occasion to be
under any apprehension," said the jockey, after I had
interpreted to him what the Hungarian had said, "I will
restore it to him uninjured, or my name is not Jack Dale."
Then sticking the handkerchief carelessly into the left side
of his bosom, he took the candle, which by this time had
burnt very low, and holding his head back, he applied the
flame to the handkerchief, which instantly seemed to catch
fire. "What do you think of that?" said he to the Hungarian.
"Why, that you have ruined me," said the latter. "No harm
done, I assure you," said the jockey, who presently, clapping
his hand on his bosom, extinguished the fire, and returned
the handkerchief to the Hungarian, asking him if it was
burnt. "I see no burn upon it," said the Hungarian; "but in
the name of Gott, how could you set it on fire without
burning it?" "I never set it on fire at all," said the
jockey; "I set this on fire," showing us a piece of halfburnt
calico. "I placed this calico above it, and lighted
not the handkerchief, but the rag. Now I will show you
something else. I have a magic shilling in my pocket, which
I can make run up along my arm. But, first of all, I would
gladly know whether either of you can do the like."
Thereupon the Hungarian and myself, putting our hands into
our pockets, took out shillings, and endeavoured to make them
run up our arms, but utterly failed; both shillings, after we
had made two or three attempts, falling to the ground. "What
noncomposses you both are," said the jockey; and placing a
shilling on the end of the fingers of his right hand he made
strange faces to it, drawing back his head, whereupon the
shilling instantly began to run up his arm, occasionally
hopping and jumping as if it were bewitched, always
endeavouring to make towards the head of the jockey.
"How do I do that?" said he, addressing himself to me. "I
really do not know," said I, "unless it is by the motion of
your arm." "The motion of my nonsense," said the jockey,
and, making a dreadful grimace, the shilling hopped upon his
knee, and began to run up his thigh and to climb up his
breast. "How is that done?" said he again. "By witchcraft,
I suppose," said I. "There you are right," said the jockey;
"by the witchcraft of one of Miss Berners' hairs; the end of
one of her long hairs is tied to that shilling by means of a
hole in it, and the other end goes round my neck by means of
a loop; so that, when I draw back my head, the shilling
follows it. I suppose you wish to know how I got the hair,"
said he, grinning at me. "I will tell you. I once, in the
course of my ridings, saw Miss Berners beneath a hedge,
combing out her long hair, and, being rather a modest kind of
person, what must I do but get off my horse, tie him to a
gate, go up to her, and endeavour to enter into conversation
with her. After giving her the sele of the day, and
complimenting her on her hair, I asked her to give me one of
the threads; whereupon she gave me such a look, and, calling
me fellow, told me to take myself off. 'I must have a hair
first,' said I, making a snatch at one. I believe I hurt
her; but, whether I did or not, up she started, and, though
her hair was unbound, gave me the only drubbing I ever had in
my life. Lor! how, with her right hand, she fibbed me whilst
she held me round the neck with her left arm; I was soon glad
to beg her pardon on my knees, which she gave me in a moment,
when she saw me in that condition, being the most placable
creature in the world, and not only her pardon, but one of
the hairs which I longed for, which I put through a shilling,
with which I have on evenings after fairs, like this,
frequently worked what seemed to those who looked on
downright witchcraft, but which is nothing more than pleasant
deception. And now, Mr. Romany Rye, to testify my regard for
you, I give you the shilling and the hair. I think you have
a kind of respect for Miss Berners; but whether you have or
not, keep them as long as you can, and whenever you look at
them think of the finest woman in England, and of John Dale,
the jockey of Horncastle. I believe I have told you my
history," said he - "no, not quite; there is one circumstance
I had passed over. I told you that I have thriven very well
in business, and so I have, upon the whole; at any rate, I
find myself comfortably off now. I have horses, money, and
owe nobody a groat; at any rate, nothing but what I could pay
to-morrow. Yet I have had my dreary day, ay, after I had
obtained what I call a station in the world. All of a
sudden, about five years ago, everything seemed to go wrong
with me - horses became sick or died, people who owed me
money broke or ran away, my house caught fire, in fact,
everything went against me; and not from any mismanagement of
my own. I looked round for help, but - what do you think? -
nobody would help me. Somehow or other it had got abroad
that I was in difficulties, and everybody seemed disposed to
avoid me, as if I had got the plague. Those who were always
offering me help when I wanted none, now, when they thought
me in trouble, talked of arresting me. Yes; two particular
friends of mine, who had always been offering me their purses
when my own was stuffed full, now talked of arresting me,
though I only owed the scoundrels a hundred pounds each; and
they would have done so, provided I had not paid them what I
owed them; and how did I do that? Why, I was able to do it
because I found a friend - and who was that friend? Why, a
man who has since been hung, of whom everybody has heard, and
of whom everybody for the next hundred years will
occasionally talk.
"One day, whilst in trouble, I was visited by a person I had
occasionally met at sporting-dinners. He came to look after
a Suffolk Punch, the best horse, by the bye, that anybody can
purchase to drive, it being the only animal of the horse kind
in England that will pull twice at a dead weight. I told him
that I had none at that time that I could recommend; in fact,
that every horse in my stable was sick. He then invited me
to dine with him at an inn close by, and I was glad to go
with him, in the hope of getting rid of unpleasant thoughts.
After dinner, during which he talked nothing but slang,
observing I looked very melancholy, he asked me what was the
matter with me, and I, my heart being opened by the wine he
had made me drink, told him my circumstances without reserve.
With an oath or two for not having treated him at first like
a friend, he said he would soon set me all right; and pulling
out two hundred pounds, told me to pay him when I could. I
felt as I never felt before; however, I took his notes, paid
my sneaks, and in less than three months was right again, and
had returned him his money. On paying it to him, I said that
I had now a lunch which would just suit him, saying that I
would give it to him - a free gift - for nothing. He swore
at me; - telling me to keep my Punch, for that he was suited
already. I begged him to tell me how I could requite him for
his kindness, whereupon, with the most dreadful oath I ever
heard, he bade me come and see him hanged when his time was
come. I wrung his hand, and told him I would, and I kept my
word. The night before the day he was hanged at H-, I
harnessed a Suffolk Punch to my light gig, the same Punch
which I had offered to him, which I have ever since kept, and
which brought me and this short young man to Horncastle, and
in eleven hours I drove that Punch one hundred and ten miles.
I arrived at H- just in the nick of time. There was the ugly
jail - the scaffold - and there upon it stood the only friend
I ever had in the world. Driving my Punch, which was all in
a foam, into the midst of the crowd, which made way for me as
if it knew what I came for, I stood up in my gig, took off my
hat, and shouted, 'God Almighty bless you, Jack!' The dying
man turned his pale grim face towards me - for his face was
always somewhat grim, do you see - nodded and said, or I
thought I heard him say, 'All right, old chap.' The next
moment - my eyes water. He had a high heart, got into a
scrape whilst in the marines, lost his half-pay, took to the
turf, ring, gambling, and at last cut the throat of a villain
who had robbed him of nearly all he had. But he had good
qualities, and I know for certain that he never did half the
bad things laid to his charge; for example, he never bribed
Tom Oliver to fight cross, as it was said he did on the day
of the awful thunder-storm. Ned Flatnose fairly beat Tom
Oliver, for though Ned was not what's called a good fighter,
he had a particular blow, which if he could put in he was
sure to win. His right shoulder, do you see, was two inches
farther back than it ought to have been, and consequently his
right fist generally fell short; but if he could swing
himself round, and put in a blow with that right arm, he
could kill or take away the senses of anybody in the world.
It was by putting in that blow in his second fight with
Spring that he beat noble Tom. Spring beat him like a sack
in the first battle, but in the second Ned Painter - for that
was his real name - contrived to put in his blow, and took
the senses out of Spring; and in like manner he took the
senses out of Tom Oliver.
"Well, some are born to be hanged, and some are not; and many
of those who are not hanged are much worse than those who
are. Jack, with many a good quality, is hanged, whilst that
fellow of a lord, who wanted to get the horse from you at
about two-thirds of his value, without a single good quality
in the world, is not hanged, and probably will remain so.
You ask the reason why, perhaps. I'll tell you; the lack of
a certain quality called courage, which Jack possessed in
abundance, will preserve him; from the love which he bears
his own neck he will do nothing which can bring him to the
gallows. In my rough way I'll draw their characters from
their childhood, and then ask whether Jack was not the best
character of the two. Jack was a rough, audacious boy, fond
of fighting, going a birds'-nesting, but I never heard he did
anything particularly cruel save once, I believe, tying a
canister to a butcher's dog's tail; whilst this fellow of a
lord was by nature a savage beast, and when a boy would in
winter pluck poor fowls naked, and set them running on the
ice and in the snow, and was particularly fond of burning
cats alive in the fire. Jack, when a lad, gets a commission
on board a ship as an officer of horse marines, and in two or
three engagements behaves quite up to the mark - at least of
a marine; the marines having no particular character for
courage, you know - never having run to the guns and fired
them like madmen after the blue jackets had had more than
enough. Oh, dear me, no! My lord gets into the valorous
British army, where cowardice - Oh, dear me! - is a thing
almost entirely unknown; and being on the field of Waterloo
the day before the battle, falls off his horse, and,
pretending to be hurt in the back, gets himself put on the
sick list - a pretty excuse - hurting his back - for not
being present at such a fight. Old Benbow, after part of
both his legs had been shot away in a sea-fight, made the
carpenter make him a cradle to hold his bloody stumps, and
continued on deck, cheering his men till he died. Jack
returns home, and gets into trouble, and having nothing to
subsist by but his wits, gets his living by the ring and the
turf, doing many an odd kind of thing, I dare say, but not
half those laid to his charge. My lord does much the same
without the excuse for doing so which Jack had, for he had
plenty of means, is a leg, and a black, only in a more
polished way, and with more cunning, and I may say success,
having done many a rascally thing never laid to his charge.
Jack at last cuts the throat of a villain who had cheated him
of all he had in the world, and who, I am told, was in many
points the counterpart of this screw and white feather, is
taken up, tried, and executed; and certainly taking away a
man's life is a dreadful thing; but is there nothing as bad?
Whitefeather will cut no person's throat - I will not say who
has cheated him, for, being a cheat himself, he will take
good care that nobody cheats him, but he'll do something
quite as bad; out of envy to a person who never injured him,
and whom he hates for being more clever and respected than
himself, he will do all he possibly can, by backbiting and
every unfair means, to do that person a mortal injury. But
Jack is hanged, and my lord it not. Is that right? My wife,
Mary Fulcher - I beg her pardon, Mary Dale - who is a
Methodist, and has heard the mighty preacher, Peter Williams,
says some people are preserved from hanging by the grace of
God. With her I differs, and says it is from want of
courage. This Whitefeather, with one particle of Jack's
courage, and with one tithe of his good qualities, would have
been hanged long ago, for he has ten times Jack's malignity.
Jack was hanged because, along with his bad qualities, he had
courage and generosity; this fellow is not, because with all
Jack's bad qualities, and many more, amongst which is
cunning, he has neither courage nor generosity. Think of a
fellow like that putting down two hundred pounds to relieve a
distressed fellow-creature; why he would rob, but for the law
and the fear it fills him with, a workhouse child of its
breakfast, as the saying is - and has been heard to say that
he would not trust his own father for sixpence, and he can't
imagine why such a thing as credit should be ever given. I
never heard a person give him a good word - stay, stay, yes!
I once heard an old parson, to whom I sold a Punch, say that
he had the art of receiving company gracefully and dismissing
them without refreshment. I don't wish to be too hard with
him, and so let him make the most of that compliment. Well!
he manages to get on, whilst Jack is hanged; not quite
enviably, however; he has had his rubs, and pretty hard ones
- everybody knows he slunk from Waterloo, and occasionally
checks him with so doing; whilst he has been rejected by a
woman - what a mortification to the low pride of which the
scoundrel has plenty! There's a song about both
circumstances, which may, perhaps, ring in his ears on a
dying bed. It's a funny kind of song, set to the old tune of
the Lord-Lieutenant or Deputy, and with it I will conclude my
discourse, for I really think it's past one." The jockey
then, with a very tolerable voice, sung the following song:-
Now list to a ditty both funny and true! -
Merrily moves the dance along -
A ditty that tells of a coward and screw,
My Lord-Lieutenant so free and young.
Sir Plume, though not liking a bullet at all, -
Merrily moves the dance along -
Had yet resolution to go to a BALL,
My Lord-Lieutenant so free and young.
"Woulez wous danser, mademoiselle?" -
Merrily moves the dance along; -
Said she, "Sir, to dance I should like very well,"
My Lord-Lieutenant so free and young.
They danc'd to the left, and they danc'd to the right, -
Merrily moves the dance along; -
And her troth the fair damsel bestow'd on the knight,
My Lord-Lieutenant so free and young.
"Now what shall I fetch you, mademoiselle?" -
Merrily moves the dance along; -
Said she, "Sir, an ice I should like very well,"
My Lord-Lieutenant so free and young.
But the ice, when he'd got it, he instantly ate, -
Merrily moves the dance along; -
Although his poor partner was all in a fret,
My Lord-Lieutenant so free and young.
He ate up the ice like a prudent young lord, -
Merrily moves the dance along; -
For he saw 't was the very last ice on the board, -
My Lord-Lieutenant so free and young.
"Now, when shall we marry?" the gentleman cried; -
Merrily moves the dance along; -
"Sir, get you to Jordan," the damsel replied,
My Lord-Lieutenant so free and young.
"I never will wed with the pitiful elf" -
Merrily moves the dance along -
"Who ate up the ice which I wanted myself,"
My Lord-Lieutenant so free and young.
"I'd pardon your backing from red Waterloo," -
Merrily moves the dance along -
"But I never will wed with a coward and screw,"
My Lord-Lieutenant so free and young.
The Church.
THE next morning I began to think of departing; I had sewed
up the money which I had received for the horse in a portion
of my clothing, where I entertained no fears for its safety,
with the exception of a small sum in notes, gold, and silver,
which I carried in my pocket. Ere departing, however, I
determined to stroll about and examine the town, and observe
more particularly the humours of the fair than I had hitherto
an opportunity of doing. The town, when I examined it,
offered no object worthy of attention but its church - an
edifice of some antiquity; under the guidance of an old man,
who officiated as sexton, I inspected its interior
attentively, occasionally conversing with my guide, who,
however, seemed much more disposed to talk about horses than
the church. "No good horses in the fair this time, measter,"
said he; "none but one brought hither by a chap whom nobody
knows, and bought by a foreigneering man, who came here with
Jack Dale. The horse fetched a good swinging price, which is
said, however, to be much less than its worth; for the horse
is a regular clipper; not such a one, 'tis said, has been
seen in the fair for several summers. Lord Whitefeather says
that he believes the fellow who brought him to be a
highwayman, and talks of having him taken up, but Lord
Whitefeather is only in a rage because he could not get him
for himself. The chap would not sell it to un; Lord Screw
wanted to beat him down, and the chap took huff, said he
wouldn't sell it to him at no price, and accepted the offer
of the foreigneering man, or of Jack, who was his 'terpreter,
and who scorned to higgle about such a hanimal, because Jack
is a gentleman, though bred a dickey-boy, whilst t'other,
though bred a lord, is a screw and a whitefeather. Every one
says the cove was right, and I says so too; I likes spirit,
and if the cove were here, and in your place, measter, I
would invite him to drink a pint of beer. Good horses are
scarce now, measter, ay, and so are good men, quite a
different set from what there were when I was young; that was
the time for men and horses. Lord bless you, I know all the
breeders about here; they are not a bad set, and they breed a
very fairish set of horses, but they are not like what their
fathers were, nor are their horses like their fathers'
horses. Now there is Mr. - the great breeder, a very fairish
man, with very fairish horses; but, Lord bless you, he's
nothing to what his father was, nor his steeds to his
father's; I ought to know, for I was at the school here with
his father, and afterwards for many a year helped him to get
up his horses; that was when I was young, measter - those
were the days. You look at that monument, measter," said he,
as I stopped and looked attentively at a monument on the
southern side of the church near the altar; "that was put up
for a rector of this church, who lived a long time ago, in
Oliver's time, and was ill-treated and imprisoned by Oliver
and his men; you will see all about it on the monument.
There was a grand battle fought nigh this place, between
Oliver's men and the Royal party, and the Royal party had the
worst of it, as I'm told they generally had; and Oliver's men
came into the town, and did a great deal of damage, and
illtreated the people. I can't remember anything about the
matter myself, for it happened just one hundred years before
I was born, but my father was acquainted with an old
countryman, who lived not many miles from here, who said he
remembered perfectly well the day of the battle; that he was
a boy at the time, and was working in a field near the place
where the battle was fought; and heard shouting, and noise of
firearms, and also the sound of several balls, which fell in
the field near him. Come this way, measter, and I will show
you some remains of that day's field." Leaving the monument,
on which was inscribed an account of the life and sufferings
of the Royalist Rector of Horncastle, I followed the sexton
to the western end of the church, where, hanging against the
wall, were a number of scythes stuck in the ends of poles.
"Those are the weapons, measter," said the sexton, "which the
great people put into the hands of the country folks, in
order that they might use them against Oliver's men; ugly
weapons enough; however, Oliver's men won, and Sir Jacob
Ashley and his party were beat. And a rare time Oliver and
his men had of it, till Oliver died, when the other party got
the better, not by fighting, 'tis said, but through a General
Monk, who turned sides. Ah, the old fellow that my father
knew, said he well remembered the time when General Monk went
over and proclaimed Charles the Second. Bonfires were
lighted everywhere, oxen roasted, and beer drunk by pailfuls;
the country folks were drunk with joy, and something else;
sung scurvy songs about Oliver to the tune of Barney Banks,
and pelted his men, wherever they found them, with stones and
dirt." "The more ungrateful scoundrels they," said I.
"Oliver and his men fought the battle of English independence
against a wretched king and corrupt lords. Had I been living
at the time, I should have been proud to be a trooper of
Oliver." "You would, measter, would you? Well, I never
quarrels with the opinions of people who come to look at the
church, and certainly independence is a fine thing. I like
to see a chap of an independent spirit, and if I were now to
see the cove that refused to sell his horse to my Lord Screw
and Whitefeather, and let Jack Dale have him, I would offer
to treat him to a pint of beer - e'es, I would, verily.
Well, measter, you have now seen the church, and all there's
in it worth seeing - so I'll just lock up, and go and finish
digging the grave I was about when you came, after which I
must go into the fair to see how matters are going on. Thank
ye, measter," said he, as I put something into his hand;
"thank ye kindly; 'tis not every one who gives me a shilling
now-a-days who comes to see the church, but times are very
different from what they were when I was young; I was not
sexton then, but something better; helped Mr. - with his
horses, and got many a broad crown. Those were the days,
measter, both for men and horses - and I say, measter, if men
and horses were so much better when I was young than they are
now, what, I wonder, must they have been in the time of
Oliver and his men?"
An Old Acquaintance.
LEAVING the church, I strolled through the fair, looking at
the horses, listening to the chaffering of the buyers and
sellers, and occasionally putting in a word of my own, which
was not always received with much deference; suddenly,
however, on a whisper arising that I was the young cove who
had brought the wonderful horse to the fair which Jack Dale
had bought for the foreigneering man, I found myself an
object of the greatest attention; those who had before
replied with stuff! and nonsense! to what I said, now
listened with the greatest eagerness to any nonsense I wished
to utter, and I did not fail to utter a great deal;
presently, however, becoming disgusted with the beings about
me, I forced my way, not very civilly, through my crowd of
admirers; and passing through an alley and a back street, at
last reached an outskirt of the fair, where no person
appeared to know me. Here I stood, looking vacantly on what
was going on, musing on the strange infatuation of my
species, who judge of a person's words, not from their
intrinsic merit, but from the opinion - generally an
erroneous one - which they have formed of the person. From
this reverie I was roused by certain words which sounded near
me, uttered in a strange tone, and in a strange cadence - the
words were, "them that finds, wins; and them that can't find,
loses." Turning my eyes in the direction from which the
words proceeded, I saw six or seven people, apparently all
countrymen, gathered round a person standing behind a tall
white table of very small compass. "What!" said I, "the
thimble-engro of - Fair here at Horncastle." Advancing
nearer, however, I perceived that though the present person
was a thimble-engro, he was a very different one from my old
acquaintance of - Fair. The present one was a fellow about
half-a-foot taller than the other. He had a long, haggard,
wild face, and was dressed in a kind of jacket, something
like that of a soldier, with dirty hempen trousers, and with
a foreign-looking peaked hat on his head. He spoke with an
accent evidently Irish, and occasionally changed the usual
thimble formule, "them that finds wins, and them that can't -
och, sure! - they loses;" saying also frequently, "your
honour," instead of "my lord." I observed, on drawing
nearer, that he handled the pea and thimble with some
awkwardness, like that which might be expected from a novice
in the trade. He contrived, however, to win several
shillings, for he did not seem to play for gold, from "their
honours." Awkward, as he was, he evidently did his best, and
never flung a chance away by permitting any one to win. He
had just won three shillings from a farmer, who, incensed at
his loss, was calling him a confounded cheat, and saying that
he would play no more, when up came my friend of the
preceding day, Jack, the jockey. This worthy, after looking
at the thimble-man a moment or two, with a peculiarly crafty
glance, cried out, as he clapped down a shilling on the
table, "I will stand you, old fellow!" "Them that finds
wins; and them that can't - och, sure! - they loses," said
the thimble-man. The game commenced, and Jack took up the
thimble without finding the pea; another shilling was
produced, and lost in the same manner; "this is slow work,"
said Jack, banging down a guinea on the table; "can you cover
that, old fellow?" The man of the thimble looked at the
gold, and then at him who produced it, and scratched his
head. "Come, cover that, or I shall be off," said the
jockey. "Och, sure, my lord! - no, I mean your honour - no,
sure, your lordship," said the other, "if I covers it at all,
it must be with silver, for divil a bit of gold have I by
me." "Well, then, produce the value in silver," said the
jockey, "and do it quickly, for I can't be staying here all
day." The thimble-man hesitated, looked at Jack with a
dubious look, then at the gold, and then scratched his head.
There was now a laugh amongst the surrounders, which
evidently nettled the fellow, who forthwith thrust his hand
into his pocket, and pulling out all his silver treasure,
just contrived to place the value of the guinea on the table.
"Them that finds wins, and them that can't find - LOSES,"
interrupted Jack, lifting up a thimble, out of which rolled a
pea. "There, paddy, what do you think of that?" said he,
seizing the heap of silver with one hand, whilst he pocketed
the guinea with the other. The thimble-engro stood, for some
time, like one transfixed, his eyes glaring wildly, now at
the table, and now at his successful customers; at last he
said, "Arrah, sure, master! - no, I manes my lord - you are
not going to ruin a poor boy!" "Ruin you!" sail the other;
"what! by winning a guinea's change? a pretty small dodger
you - if you have not sufficient capital, why do you engage
in so deep a trade as thimbling? come, will you stand another
game?" "Och, sure, master, no! the twenty shillings and one
which you have cheated me of were all I had in the world."
"Cheated you," said Jack, "say that again, and I will knock
you down." "Arrah! sure, master, you knows that the pea
under the thimble was not mine; here is mine, master; now
give me back my money." "A likely thing," said Jack; "no,
no, I know a trick worth two or three of that; whether the
pea was yours or mine, you will never have your twenty
shillings and one again; and if I have ruined you, all the
better; I'd gladly ruin all such villains as you, who ruin
poor men with your dirty tricks, whom you would knock down
and rob on the road, if you had but courage; not that I mean
to keep your shillings, with the exception of the two you
cheated from me, which I'll keep. A scramble, boys! a
scramble!" said he, flinging up all the silver into the air,
with the exception of the two shillings; and a scramble there
instantly was, between the rustics who had lost their money
and the urchins who came running up; the poor thimble-engro
tried likewise to have his share; and though he flung himself
down, in order to join more effectually in the scramble, he
was unable to obtain a single sixpence; and having in his
rage given some of his fellow-scramblers a cuff or two, he
was set upon by the boys and country fellows, and compelled
to make an inglorious retreat with his table, which had been
flung down in the scuffle, and had one of its legs broken.
As he retired, the rabble hooted, and Jack, holding up in
derision the pea with which he had outmanoeuvred him,
exclaimed, "I always carry this in my pocket in order to be a
match for vagabonds like you."
The tumult over, Jack gone, and the rabble dispersed, I
followed the discomfited adventurer at a distance, who,
leaving the town, went slowly on, carrying his dilapidated
piece of furniture; till coming to an old wall by the
roadside, he placed it on the ground, and sat down, seemingly
in deep despondency, holding his thumb to his mouth. Going
nearly up to him, I stood still, whereupon he looked up, and
perceiving I was looking steadfastly at him, he said, in an
angry tone, "Arrah! what for are you staring at me so? By my
shoul, I think you are one of the thaives who are after
robbing me. I think I saw you among them, and if I were only
sure of it, I would take the liberty of trying to give you a
big bating." "You have had enough of trying to give people a
beating," said I; "you had better be taking your table to
some skilful carpenter to get it repaired. He will do it for
sixpence." "Divil a sixpence did you and your thaives leave
me," said he; "and if you do not take yourself off, joy, I
will be breaking your ugly head with the foot of it."
"Arrah, Murtagh!" said I, "would ye be breaking the head of
your friend and scholar, to whom you taught the blessed
tongue of Oilien nan Naomha, in exchange for a pack of
cards?" Murtagh, for he it was, gazed at me for a moment
with a bewildered look; then, with a gleam of intelligence in
his eye, he said, "Shorsha! no, it can't be - yes, by my
faith it is!" Then, springing up, and seizing me by the
hand, he said, "Yes, by the powers, sure enough it is Shorsha
agra! Arrah, Shorsha! where have you been this many a day?
Sure, you are not one of the spalpeens who are after robbing
me?" "Not I," I replied, "but I saw all that happened.
Come, you must not take matters so to heart; cheer up; such
things will happen in connection with the trade you have
taken up." "Sorrow befall the trade, and the thief who
taught it me," said Murtagh; "and yet the trade is not a bad
one, if I only knew more of it, and had some one to help and
back me. Och! the idea of being cheated and bamboozled by
that one-eyed thief in the horseman's dress." "Let bygones
be bygones, Murtagh," said I; "it is no use grieving for the
past; sit down, and let us have a little pleasant gossip.
Arrah, Murtagh! when I saw you sitting under the wall, with
your thumb to your mouth, it brought to my mind tales which
you used to tell me all about Finn-ma-Coul. You have not
forgotten Finn-ma-Coul, Murtagh, and how he sucked wisdom out
of his thumb." "Sorrow a bit have I forgot about him,
Shorsha," said Murtagh, as we sat down together, "nor what
you yourself told me about the snake. Arrah, Shorsha! what
ye told me about the snake, bates anything I ever told you
about Finn. Ochone, Shorsha! perhaps you will be telling me
about the snake once more? I think the tale would do me
good, and I have need of comfort, God knows, ochone!" Seeing
Murtagh in such a distressed plight, I forthwith told him
over again the tale of the snake, in precisely the same words
as I have related it in the first part of this history.
After which, I said, "Now, Murtagh, tit for tat; ye will be
telling me one of the old stories of Finn-ma-Coul." "Och,
Shorsha! I haven't heart enough," said Murtagh. "Thank you
for your tale, but it makes me weep; it brings to my mind
Dungarvon times of old - I mean the times we were at school
together." "Cheer up, man," said I, "and let's have the
story, and let it be about Ma-Coul and the salmon and his
thumb." "Arrah, Shorsha! I can't. Well, to oblige you,
I'll give it you. Well, you know Ma-Coul was an exposed
child, and came floating over the salt sea in a chest which
was cast ashore at Veintry Bay. In the corner of that bay
was a castle, where dwelt a giant and his wife, very
respectable and decent people, and this giant, taking his
morning walk along the bay, came to the place where the child
had been cast ashore in his box. Well, the giant looked at
the child, and being filled with compassion for his exposed
state, took the child up in his box, and carried him home to
his castle, where he and his wife, being dacent respectable
people, as I telled ye before, fostered the child and took
care of him, till he became old enough to go out to service
and gain his livelihood, when they bound him out apprentice
to another giant, who lived in a castle up the country, at
some distance from the bay.
"This giant, whose name was Darmod David Odeen, was not a
respectable person at all, but a big old vagabond. He was
twice the size of the other giant, who, though bigger than
any man, was not a big giant; for, as there are great and
small men, so there are great and small giants - I mean some
are small when compared with the others. Well, Finn served
this giant a considerable time, doing all kinds of hard and
unreasonable service for him, and receiving all kinds of hard
words, and many a hard knock and kick to boot - sorrow befall
the old vagabond who could thus ill-treat a helpless
foundling. It chanced that one day the giant caught a
salmon, near a salmon-leap upon his estate - for, though a
big ould blackguard, he was a person of considerable landed
property, and high sheriff for the county Cork. Well, the
giant brings home the salmon by the gills, and delivers it to
Finn, telling him to roast it for the giant's dinner; 'but
take care, ye young blackguard,' he added, 'that in roasting
it - and I expect ye to roast it well - you do not let a
blister come upon its nice satin skin, for if ye do, I will
cut the head off your shoulders.' 'Well,' thinks Finn, 'this
is a hard task; however, as I have done many hard tasks for
him, I will try and do this too, though I was never set to do
anything yet half so difficult.' So he prepared his fire,
and put his gridiron upon it, and lays the salmon fairly and
softly upon the gridiron, and then he roasts it, turning it
from one side to the other just in the nick of time, before
the soft satin skin could be blistered. However, on turning
it over the eleventh time - and twelve would have settled the
business - he found he had delayed a little bit of time too
long in turning it over, and that there was a small, tiny
blister on the soft outer skin. Well, Finn was in a mighty
panic, remembering the threats of the ould giant; however, he
did not lose heart, but clapped his thumb upon the blister in
order to smooth it down. Now the salmon, Shorsha, was nearly
done, and the flesh thoroughly hot, so Finn's thumb was
scalt, and he, clapping it to his mouth, sucked it, in order
to draw out the pain, and in a moment - hubbuboo! - became
imbued with all the wisdom of the world.
MYSELF. Stop, Murtagh! stop!
MURTAGH. All the witchcraft, Shorsha.
MYSELF. How wonderful!
MURTAGH. Was it not, Shorsha? The salmon, do you see, was a
fairy salmon.
MYSELF. What a strange coincidence
MURTAGH. A what, Shorsha?
MYSELF. Why, that the very same tale should be told of Finnma-
Coul, which is related of Sigurd Fafnisbane.
"What thief was that, Shorsha?"
"Thief! 'Tis true, he took the treasure of Fafnir. Sigurd
was the hero of the North, Murtagh, even as Finn is the great
hero of Ireland. He, too, according to one account, was an
exposed child, and came floating in a casket to a wild shore,
where he was suckled by a hind, and afterwards found and
fostered by Mimir, a fairy blacksmith; he, too, sucked wisdom
from a burn. According to the Edda, he burnt his finger
whilst feeling of the heart of Fafnir, which he was roasting,
and putting it into his mouth in order to suck out the pain,
became imbued with all the wisdom of the world, the knowledge
of the language of birds, and what not. I have heard you
tell the tale of Finn a dozen times in the blessed days of
old, but its identity with the tale of Sigurd never occurred
to me till now. It is true, when I knew you of old, I had
never read the tale of Sigurd, and have since almost
dismissed matters of Ireland from my mind; but as soon as you
told me again about Finn's burning his finger, the
coincidence struck me. I say, Murtagh, the Irish owe much to
the Danes - "
"Devil a bit, Shorsha, do they owe to the thaives, except
many a bloody bating and plundering, which they never paid
them back. Och, Shorsha! you, edicated in ould Ireland, to
say that the Irish owes anything good to the plundering
villains - the Siol Loughlin."
"They owe them half their traditions, Murtagh, and amongst
others, Finn-ma-Coul and the burnt finger; and if ever I
publish the Loughlin songs, I'll tell the world so."
"But, Shorsha, the world will never believe ye - to say
nothing of the Irish part of it."
"Then the world, Murtagh - to say nothing of the Irish part
of it - will be a fool, even as I have often thought it; the
grand thing, Murtagh, is to be able to believe oneself, and
respect oneself. How few whom the world believes believe and
respect themselves."
"Och, Shorsha! shall I go on with the tale of Finn?"
"I'd rather you should not, Murtagh; I know all about it
"Then why did you bother me to tell it at first, Shorsha?
Och, it was doing my ownself good, and making me forget my
own sorrowful state, when ye interrupted me with your thaives
of Danes! Och, Shorsha! let me tell you how Finn, by means
of sucking his thumb, and the witchcraft he imbibed from it,
contrived to pull off the arm of the ould wagabone, Darmod
David Odeen, whilst shaking hands with him - for Finn could
do no feat of strength without sucking his thumb, Shorsha, as
Conan the Bald told the son of Oisin in the song which I used
to sing ye in Dungarvon times of old;" and here Murtagh
repeated certain Irish words to the following effect: -
"O little the foolish words I heed
O Oisin's son, from thy lips which come;
No strength were in Finn for valorous deed,
Unless to the gristle he suck'd his thumb."
"Enough is as good as a feast, Murtagh, I am no longer in the
cue for Finn. I would rather hear your own history. Now
tell us, man, all that has happened to ye since Dungarvon
times of old?"
"Och, Shorsha, it would be merely bringing all my sorrows
back upon me!"
"Well, if I know all your sorrows, perhaps I shall be able to
find a help for them. I owe you much, Murtagh; you taught me
Irish, and I will do all I can to help you."
"Why, then, Shorsha, I'll tell ye my history. Here goes!"
Murtagh's Tale.
"WELL, Shorsha, about a year and a half after you left us -
and a sorrowful hour for us it was when ye left us, losing,
as we did, your funny stories of your snake - and the battles
of your military - they sent me to Paris and Salamanca, in
order to make a saggart of me."
"Pray excuse me," said I, "for interrupting you, but what
kind of place is Salamanca?"
"Divil a bit did I ever see of it, Shorsha!"
"Then why did ye say ye were sent there? Well, what kind of
place is Paris? Not that I care much about Paris."
"Sorrow a bit did I ever see of either them, Shorsha, for no
one sent me to either. When we says at home a person is
going to Paris and Salamanca, it manes that he is going
abroad to study to be a saggart, whether he goes to them
places or not. No, I never saw either - bad luck to them - I
was shipped away from Cork up the straits to a place called
Leghorn, from which I was sent to - to a religious house,
where I was to be instructed in saggarting till they had made
me fit to cut a dacent figure in Ireland. We had a long and
tedious voyage, Shorsha; not so tedious, however, as it would
have been had I been fool enough to lave your pack of cards
behind me, as the thaif, my brother Denis, wanted to persuade
me to do, in order that he might play with them himself.
With the cards I managed to have many a nice game with the
sailors, winning from them ha'pennies and sixpences until the
captain said I was ruining his men, and keeping them from
their duty; and, being a heretic and a Dutchman, swore that
unless I gave over he would tie me up to the mast and give me
a round dozen. This threat obliged me to be more on my
guard, though I occasionally contrived to get a game at
night, and to win sixpennies and ha'pennies.
"We reached Leghorn at last, and glad I was to leave the ship
and the master, who gave me a kick as I was getting over the
side, bad luck to the dirty heretic for kicking a son of the
church, for I have always been a true son of the church,
Shorsha, and never quarrelled with it unless it interfered
with me in my playing at cards. I left Leghorn with certain
muleteers, with whom I played at cards at the baiting-houses,
and who speedily won from me all the ha'pennies and sixpences
I had won from the sailors. I got my money's worth, however,
for I learnt from the muleteers all kind of quaint tricks
upon the cards, which I knew nothing of before; so I did not
grudge them what they chated me of, and when we parted we did
so in kindness on both sides. On getting to - I was received
into the religious house for Irishes. It was the Irish
house, Shorsha, into which I was taken, for I do not wish ye
to suppose that I was in the English religious house which
there is in that city, in which a purty set are educated, and
in which purty doings are going on if all tales be true.
"In this Irish house I commenced my studies, learning to sing
and to read the Latin prayers of the church. 'Faith,
Shorsha, many's the sorrowful day I passed in that house
learning the prayers and litanies, being half-starved, with
no earthly diversion at all, at all; until I took the cards
out of my chest and began instructing in card-playing the
chum which I had with me in my cell; then I had plenty of
diversion along with him during the times when I was not
engaged in singing, and chanting, and saying the prayers of
the church; there was, however, some drawback in playing with
my chum, for though he was very clever in learning, divil a
sixpence had he to play with, in which respect he was like
myself, the master who taught him, who had lost all my money
to the muleteers who taught me the tricks upon the cards; by
degrees, however, it began to be noised about the religious
house that Murtagh, from Hibrodary, (1) had a pack of cards
with which he played with his chum in the cell; whereupon
other scholars of the religious house came to me, some to be
taught and others to play, so with some I played, and others
I taught, but neither to those who could play, or to those
who could not, did I teach the elegant tricks which I learnt
from the muleteers. Well, the scholars came to me for the
sake of the cards, and the porter and cook of the religious
house, who could both play very well, came also; at last I
became tired of playing for nothing, so I borrowed a few bits
of silver from the cook, and played against the porter, and
by means of my tricks I won money from the porter, and then I
paid the cook the bits of silver which I had borrowed of him;
and played with him, and won a little of his money, which I
let him win back again, as I had lived long enough in a
religious house to know that it is dangerous to take money
from the cook. In a little time, Shorsha, there was scarcely
anything going on in the house but card-playing; the almoner
played with me, and so did the sub-rector, and I won money
from both; not too much, however, lest they should tell the
rector, who had the character of a very austere man, and of
being a bit of a saint; however, the thief of a porter, whose
money I had won, informed the rector of what was going on,
and one day the rector sent for me into his private
apartment, and gave me so long and pious a lecture upon the
heinous sin of card-playing, that I thought I should sink
into the ground; after about half-an-hour's inveighing
against card-playing, he began to soften his tone, and with a
long sigh told me that at one time of his life he had been a
young man himself, and had occasionally used the cards; he
then began to ask me some questions about card-playing, which
questions I afterwards found were to pump from me what I knew
about the science. After a time he asked me whether I had
got my cards with me, and on my telling him I had, he
expressed a wish to see them, whereupon I took the pack out
of my pocket, and showed it to him; he looked at it very
attentively, and at last, giving another deep sigh, he said,
that though he was nearly weaned from the vanities of the
world, he had still an inclination to see whether he had
entirely lost the little skill which at one time he
possessed. When I heard him speak in this manner, I told him
that if his reverence was inclined for a game of cards, I
should be very happy to play one with him; scarcely had I
uttered these words than he gave a third sigh, and looked so
very much like a saint that I was afraid he was going to
excommunicate me. Nothing of the kind, however, for
presently he gets up and locks the door, then sitting down at
the table, he motioned me to do the same, which I did, and in
five minutes we were playing at cards, his reverence and
"I soon found that his reverence knew quite as much about
card-playing as I did. Divil a trick was there connected
with cards that his reverence did not seem awake to. As,
however, we were not playing for money, this circumstance did
not give me much uneasiness; so we played game after game for
two hours, when his reverence, having business, told me I
might go, so I took up my cards, make my obedience, and left
him. The next day I had other games with him, and so on for
a very long time, still playing for nothing. At last his
reverence grew tired of playing for nothing, and proposed
that we should play for money. Now, I had no desire to play
with his reverence for money, as I knew that doing so would
bring on a quarrel. As long as we were playing for nothing,
I could afford to let his reverence use what tricks he
pleased; but if we played for money, I couldn't do so. If he
played his tricks, I must play mine, and use every advantage
to save my money; and there was one I possessed which his
reverence did not. The cards being my own, I had put some
delicate little marks on the trump cards, just at the edges,
so that when I dealt, by means of a little sleight of hand, I
could deal myself any trump card I pleased. But I wished, as
I said before, to have no dealings for money with his
reverence, knowing that he was master in the house, and that
he could lead me a dog of a life if I offended him, either by
winning his money, or not letting him win mine. So I told
him I had no money to play with, but the ould thief knew
better; he knew that I was every day winning money from the
scholars, and the sub-rector, and the other people of the
house, and the ould thaif had determined to let me go on in
that way winning money, and then by means of his tricks,
which he thought I dare not resent, to win from me all my
earnings - in a word, Shorsha, to let me fill myself like a
sponge, and then squeeze me for his own advantage. So he
made me play with him, and in less than three days came on
the quarrel; his reverence chated me, and I chated his
reverence; the ould thaif knew every trick that I knew, and
one or two more; but in daling out the cards I nicked his
reverence; scarcely a trump did I ever give him, Shorsha, and
won his money purty freely. Och, it was a purty quarrel!
All the delicate names in the 'Newgate Calendar,' if ye ever
heard of such a book; all the hang-dog names in the Newgate
histories, and the lives of Irish rogues, did we call each
other - his reverence and I! Suddenly, however, putting out
his hand, he seized the cards, saying, 'I will examine these
cards, ye cheating scoundrel! for I believe there are dirty
marks on them, which ye have made in order to know the
winning cards.' 'Give me back my pack,' said I, 'or m'anam
on Dioul if I be not the death of ye!' His reverence,
however, clapped the cards into his pocket, and made the best
of his way to the door, I hanging upon him. He was a gross,
fat man, but, like most fat men, deadly strong, so he forced
his way to the door, and, opening it, flung himself out, with
me still holding on him like a terrier dog on a big fat pig;
then he shouts for help, and in a little time I was secured
and thrust into a lock-up room, where I was left to myself.
Here was a purty alteration. Yesterday I was the idol of the
religious house, thought more on than his reverence, every
one paying me court and wurtship, and wanting to play cards
with me, and to learn my tricks, and fed, moreover, on the
tidbits of the table; and to-day I was in a cell, nobody
coming to look at me but the blackguard porter who had charge
of me, my cards taken from me, and with nothing but bread and
water to live upon. Time passed dreary enough for a month,
at the end of which time his reverence came to me, leaving
the porter just outside the door in order to come to his help
should I be violent; and then he read me a very purty lecture
on my conduct, saying I had turned the religious house topsyturvy,
and corrupted the scholars, and that I was the cheat
of the world, for that on inspecting the pack he had
discovered the dirty marks which I had made upon the trump
cards for to know them by. He said a great deal more to me,
which is not worth relating, and ended by telling me that he
intended to let me out of confinement next day, but that if
ever I misconducted myself any more, he would clap me in
again for the rest of my life. I had a good mind to call him
an ould thaif, but the hope of getting out made me hold my
tongue, and the next day I was let out; and need enough I had
to be let out, for what with being alone, and living on bread
and water, I was becoming frighted, or, as the doctors call
it, narvous. But when I was out - oh, what a change I found
in the religious house! no card-playing, for it had been
forbidden to the scholars, and there was now nothing going on
but reading and singing; divil a merry visage to be seen, but
plenty of prim airs and graces; but the case of the scholars,
though bad enough, was not half so bad as mine, for they
could spake to each other, whereas I could not have a word of
conversation, for the ould thaif of a rector had ordered them
to send me to 'Coventry,' telling them that I was a gambling
cheat, with morals bad enough to corrupt a horse regiment;
and whereas they were allowed to divert themselves with going
out, I was kept reading and singing from morn till night.
The only soul who was willing to exchange a word with me was
the cook, and sometimes he and I had a little bit of
discourse in a corner, and we condoled with each other, for
he liked the change in the religious house almost as little
as myself; but he told me that, for all the change below
stairs, there was still card-playing on above, for that the
ould thaif of a rector, and the sub-rector, and the almoner
played at cards together, and that the rector won money from
the others - the almoner had told him so - and, moreover,
that the rector was the thaif of the world, and had once been
kicked out of a club-house at Dublin for cheating at cards,
and after that circumstance had apparently reformed and lived
decently till the time when I came to the religious house
with my pack, but that the sight of that had brought him back
to his ould gambling. He told the cook, moreover, that the
rector frequently went out at night to the houses of the
great clergy and cheated at cards.
"In this melancholy state, with respect to myself, things
continued a long time, when suddenly there was a report that
his Holiness the Pope intended to pay a visit to the
religious house in order to examine into its discipline.
When I heard this I was glad, for I determined after the Pope
had done what he had come to do, to fall upon my knees before
him, and make a regular complaint of the treatment I had
received, to tell him of the cheating at cards of the rector,
and to beg him to make the ould thaif give me back my pack
again. So the day of the visit came, and his Holiness made
his appearance with his attendants, and, having looked over
the religious house, he went into the rector's room with the
rector, the sub-rector, and the almoner. I intended to have
waited until his Holiness came out, but finding he stayed a
long time I thought I would e'en go into him, so I went up to
the door without anybody observing me - his attendants being
walking about the corridor - and opening it I slipped in, and
there what do you think I saw? Why, his Holiness the Pope,
and his reverence the rector, and the sub-rector, and the
almoner seated at cards; and the ould thaif of a rector was
dealing out the cards which ye had given me, Shorsha, to his
Holiness the Pope, the sub-rector, the almoner, and himself."
In this part of his history I interrupted Murtagh, saying
that I was afraid he was telling untruths, and that it was
highly improbable that the Pope would leave the Vatican to
play cards with Irish at their religious house, and that I
was sure, if on his, Murtagh's authority, I were to tell the
world so, the world would never believe it.
"Then the world, Shorsha, would be a fool, even as you were
just now saying you had frequently believed it to be; the
grand thing, Shorsha, is to be able to believe oneself; if ye
can do that, it matters very little whether the world believe
ye or no. But a purty thing for you and the world to stickle
at the Pope's playing at cards at a religious house of Irish;
och! if I were to tell you and the world, what the Pope has
been sometimes at, at the religious house of English thaives,
I would excuse you and the world for turning up your eyes.
However, I wish to say nothing against the Pope. I am a son
of the church, and if the Pope don't interfere with my cards,
divil a bit will I have to say against him; but I saw the
Pope playing, or about to play, with the pack which had been
taken from me, and when I told the Pope, the Pope did not -
Ye had better let me go on with my history, Shorsha; whether
you or the world believe it or not, I am sure it is quite as
true as your tale of the snake, or saying that Finn got his
burnt finger from the thaives of Loughlin; and whatever you
may say, I am sure the world will think so too."
I apologized to Murtagh for interrupting him, and telling him
that his history, whether true or not, was infinitely
diverting, begged him to continue it.
Murtagh's Story continued - The Priest, Exorcist, and
Thimble-engro - How to Check a Rebellion.
I WAS telling ye, Shorsha, when ye interrupted me, that I
found the Pope, the rector, the sub-rector, and the almoner
seated at the table, the rector with my pack of cards in his
hands, about to deal out to the Pope and the rest, not
forgetting himself, for whom he intended all the trump-cards,
no doubt. No sooner did they perceive me than they seemed
taken all aback; but the rector, suddenly starting up with
the cards in his hand, asked me what I did there, threatening
to have me well disciplined if I did not go about my
business; 'I am come for my pack,' said I, 'ye ould thaif,
and to tell his Holiness how I have been treated by ye;' then
going down on my knees before his Holiness, I said, 'Arrah,
now, your Holiness! will ye not see justice done to a poor
boy who has been sadly misused? The pack of cards which that
old ruffian has in his hand are my cards, which he has taken
from me, in order to chate with. Arrah! don't play with him,
your Holiness, for he'll only chate ye - there are dirty
marks upon the cards which bear the trumps, put there in
order to know them by; and the ould thaif in daling out will
give himself all the good cards, and chate ye of the last
farthing in your pocket; so let them be taken from him, your
Holiness, and given back to me; and order him to lave the
room, and then, if your Holiness be for an honest game, don't
think I am the boy to baulk ye. I'll take the old ruffian's
place, and play with ye till evening, and all night besides,
and divil an advantage will I take of the dirty marks, though
I know them all, having placed them on the cards myself.' I
was going on in this way when the ould thaif of a rector,
flinging down the cards, made at me as if to kick me out of
the room, whereupon I started up and said, 'If ye are for
kicking, sure two can play at that;' and then I kicked at his
reverence, and his reverence at me, and there was a regular
scrimmage between us, which frightened the Pope, who, getting
up, said some words which I did not understand, but which the
cook afterwards told me were, 'English extravagance, and this
is the second edition;' for it seems that, a little time
before, his Holiness had been frightened in St. Peter's
Church by the servant of an English family, which those
thaives of the English religious house had been endeavouring
to bring over to the Catholic faith, and who didn't approve
of their being converted. Och! his Holiness did us all sore
injustice to call us English, and to confound our house with
the other; for however dirty our house might be, our house
was a clane house compared with the English house, and we
honest people compared with those English thaives. Well, his
Holiness was frighted, and the almoner ran out, and brought
in his Holiness's attendants, and they laid hold of me, but I
struggled hard, and said, 'I will not go without my pack;
arrah, your Holiness! make them give me my pack, which
Shorsha gave me in Dungarvon times of old;' but my struggles
were of no use. I was pulled away and put out in the ould
dungeon, and his Holiness went away sore frighted, crossing
himself much, and never returned again.
"In the old dungeon I was fastened to the wall by a chain,
and there I was disciplined once every other day for the
first three weeks, and then I was left to myself, and my
chain, and hunger; and there I sat in the dungeon, sometimes
screeching, sometimes hallooing, for I soon became frighted,
having nothing in the cell to divert me. At last the cook
found his way to me by stealth, and comforted me a little,
bringing me tidbits out of the kitchen; and he visited me
again and again - not often, however, for he dare only come
when he could steal away the key from the custody of the
thaif of a porter. I was three years in the dungeon, and
should have gone mad but for the cook, and his words of
comfort, and his tidbits, and nice books which he brought me
out of the library, which were the 'Calendars of Newgate,'
and the 'Lives of Irish Rogues and Raparees,' the only
English books in the library. However, at the end of three
years, the ould thaif of a rector, wishing to look at them
books, missed them from the library, and made a perquisition
about them, and the thaif of a porter said that he shouldn't
wonder if I had them; saying that he had once seen me
reading; and then the rector came with others to my cell, and
took my books from me, from under my straw, and asked me how
I came by them; and on my refusal to tell, they disciplined
me again till the blood ran down my back; and making more
perquisition they at last accused the cook of having carried
the books to me, and not denying, he was given warning to
leave next day, but he left that night, and took me away with
him; for he stole the key, and came to me and cut my chain
through, and then he and I escaped from the religious house
through a window - the cook with a bundle, containing what
things he had. No sooner had we got out than the honest cook
gave me a little bit of money and a loaf, and told me to
follow a way which he pointed out, which he said would lead
to the sea; and then, having embraced me after the Italian
way, he left me, and I never saw him again. So I followed
the way which the cook pointed out, and in two days reached a
seaport called Chiviter Vik, terribly foot-foundered, and
there I met a sailor who spoke Irish, and who belonged to a
vessel just ready to sail for France; and the sailor took me
on board his vessel, and said I was his brother, and the
captain gave me a passage to a place in France called
Marseilles; and when I got there, the captain and sailor got
a little money for me and a passport, and I travelled across
the country towards a place they directed me to called
Bayonne, from which they said I might, perhaps, get to
Ireland. Coming, however, to a place called Pau, all my
money being gone, I enlisted into a regiment called the Army
of the Faith, which was going into Spain, for the King of
Spain had been dethroned and imprisoned by his own subjects,
as perhaps you may have heard; and the King of France, who
was his cousin, was sending an army to help him, under the
command of his own son, whom the English called Prince Hilt,
because when he was told that he was appointed to the
command, he clapped his hand on the hilt of his sword. So I
enlisted into the regiment of the Faith, which was made up of
Spaniards, many of them priests who had run out of Spain, and
broken Germans, and foot-foundered Irish, like myself. It
was said to be a blackguard regiment, that same regiment of
the Faith; but, 'faith, I saw nothing blackguardly going on
in it, for you would hardly reckon card-playing and dominoes,
and pitch and toss blackguardly, and I saw nothing else in
it. There was one thing in it which I disliked - the priests
drawing their Spanish knives occasionally, when they lost
their money. After we had been some time at Pau, the army of
the Faith was sent across the mountains into Spain, as the
vanguard of the French; and no sooner did the Spaniards see
the Faith than they made a dash at it, and the Faith ran
away, myself along with it, and got behind the French army,
which told it to keep there, and the Faith did so, and
followed the French army, which soon scattered the Spaniards,
and in the end placed the king on his throne again. When the
war was over the Faith was disbanded; some of the foreigners,
however, amongst whom I was one, were put into a Guard
regiment, and there I continued for more than a year.
"One day, being at a place called the Escurial, I took stock,
as the tradesmen say, and found I possessed the sum of eighty
dollars won by playing at cards, for though I could not play
so well with the foreign cards as with the pack you gave me,
Shorsha, I had yet contrived to win money from the priests
and soldiers of the Faith. Finding myself possessed of such
a capital, I determined to leave the service, and to make the
best of my way to Ireland; so I deserted, but coming in an
evil hour to a place they calls Torre Lodones, I found the
priest playing at cards with his parishioners. The sight of
the cards made me stop, and then, fool like, notwithstanding
the treasure I had about me, I must wish to play, so not
being able to speak their language, I made signs to them to
let me play, and the priest and his thaives consented
willingly; so I sat down to cards with the priest and two of
his parishioners, and in a little time had won plenty of
their money, but I had better never have done any such thing,
for suddenly the priest and all his parishioners set upon me
and bate me, and took from me all I had, and cast me out of
the village more dead than alive. Och! it's a bad village
that, and if I had known what it was I would have avoided it,
or run straight through it, though I saw all the card-playing
in the world going on in it. There is a proverb about it, as
I was afterwards told, old as the time of the Moors, which
holds good to the present day - it is, that in Torre Lodones
there are twenty-four housekeepers, and twenty-five thieves,
maning that all the people are thaives, and the clergyman to
boot, who is not reckoned a housekeeper; and troth I found
the clergyman the greatest thaif of the lot. After being
cast out of that village I travelled for nearly a month,
subsisting by begging tolerably well, for though most of the
Spanish are thaives, they are rather charitable; but though
charitable thaives they do not like their own being taken
from them without leave being asked, as I found to my cost;
for on my entering a garden near Seville, without leave, to
take an orange, the labourer came running up and struck me to
the ground with a hatchet, giving me a big wound in the arm.
I fainted with loss of blood, and on reviving I found myself
in a hospital at Seville, to which the labourer and the
people of the village had taken me. I should have died of
starvation in that hospital had not some English people heard
of me and come to see me; they tended me with food till I was
cured, and then paid my passage on board a ship to London, to
which place the ship carried me.
"And now I was in London with five shillings in my pocket -
all I had in the world - and that did not last for long; and
when it was gone I begged in the streets, but I did not get
much by that, except a month's hard labour in the correctionhouse;
and when I came out I knew not what to do, but thought
I would take a walk in the country, for it was spring-time,
and the weather was fine, so I took a walk about seven miles
from London, and came to a place where a great fair was being
held; and there I begged, but got nothing but a halfpenny,
and was thinking of going farther, when I saw a man with a
table, like that of mine, playing with thimbles, as you saw
me. I looked at the play, and saw him win money, and run
away, and hunted by constables more than once. I kept
following the man, and at last entered into conversation with
him; and learning from him that he was in want of a companion
to help him, I offered to help him if he would pay me; he
looked at me from top to toe, and did not wish at first to
have anything to do with me, as he said my appearance was
against me. 'Faith, Shorsha, he had better have looked at
home, for his appearance was not much in his favour: he
looked very much like a Jew, Shorsha. However, he at last
agreed to take me to be his companion, or bonnet as he called
it; and I was to keep a look-out, and let him know when
constables were coming, and to spake a good word for him
occasionally, whilst he was chating folks with his thimbles
and his pea. So I became his bonnet, and assisted him in the
fair, and in many other fairs beside; but I did not like my
occupation much, or rather my master, who, though not a big
man, was a big thaif, and an unkind one, for do all I could I
could never give him pleasure; and he was continually calling
me fool and bogtrotter, and twitting me because I could not
learn his thaives' Latin, and discourse with him in it, and
comparing me with another acquaintance, or bit of a pal of
his, whom he said he had parted with in the fair, and of whom
he was fond of saying all kinds of wonderful things, amongst
others, that he knew the grammar of all tongues. At last,
wearied with being twitted by him with not being able to
learn his thaives' Greek, I proposed that I should teach him
Irish, that we should spake it together when we had anything
to say in secret. To that he consented willingly; but, och!
a purty hand he made with Irish, 'faith, not much better than
I did with his thaives' Hebrew. Then my turn came, and I
twitted him nicely with dulness, and compared him with a pal
that I had in ould Ireland, in Dungarvon times of yore, to
whom I teached Irish, telling him that he was the broth of a
boy, and not only knew the grammar of all human tongues, but
the dialects of the snakes besides; in fact, I tould him all
about your own sweet self, Shorsha, and many a dispute and
quarrel had we together about our pals, which was the
cleverest fellow, his or mine.
"Well, after having been wid him about two months, I quitted
him without noise, taking away one of his tables, and some
peas and thimbles; and that I did with a safe conscience, for
he paid me nothing, and was not over free with the meat and
the drink, though I must say of him that he was a clever
fellow, and perfect master of his trade, by which he made a
power of money, and bating his not being able to learn Irish,
and a certain Jewish lisp which he had, a great master of his
tongue, of which he was very proud; so much so, that he once
told me that when he had saved a certain sum of money he
meant to leave off the thimbling business, and enter
Parliament; into which, he said, he could get at any time,
through the interest of a friend of his, a Tory Peer - my
Lord Whitefeather, with whom, he said, he had occasionally
done business. With the table, and other things which I had
taken, I commenced trade on my own account, having contrived
to learn a few of his tricks. My only capital was the change
for half-a-guinea, which he had once let fall, and which I
picked up, which was all I could ever get from him: for it
was impossible to stale any money from him, he was so awake,
being up to all the tricks of thaives, having followed the
diving trade, as he called it, for a considerable time. My
wish was to make enough by my table to enable me to return
with credit to ould Ireland, where I had no doubt of being
able to get myself ordained as priest; and, in troth,
notwithstanding I was a beginner, and without any companion
to help me, I did tolerably well, getting my meat and drink,
and increasing my small capital, till I came to this unlucky
place of Horncastle, where I was utterly ruined by the thaif
in the rider's dress. And now, Shorsha, I am after telling
you my history; perhaps you will now be telling me something
about yourself?"
I told Murtagh all about myself that I deemed necessary to
relate, and then asked him what he intended to do; he
repeated that he was utterly ruined, and that he had no
prospect before him but starving, or making away with
himself. I inquired "How much would take him to Ireland, and
establish him there with credit." "Five pounds," he
answered, adding, "but who in the world would be fool enough
to tend me five pounds, unless it be yourself, Shorsha, who,
may be, have not got it; for when you told me about yourself,
you made no boast of the state of your affairs." "I am not
very rich," I replied, "but I think I can accommodate you
with what you want. I consider myself under great
obligations to you, Murtagh; it was you who instructed me in
the language of Oilein nan Naomha, which has been the
foundation of all my acquisitions in philology; without you,
I should not have been what I am - Lavengro! which signifies
a philologist. Here is the money, Murtagh," said I, putting
my hand into my pocket, and taking out five pounds, "much
good may it do you." He took the money, stared at it, and
then at me - "And you mane to give me this, Shorsha?" "It is
no longer mine to give," said I; "it is yours." "And you
give it me for the gratitude you bear me?" "Yes, " said I,
"and for Dungarvon times of old." "Well, Shorsha," said he,
"you are a broth of a boy, and I'll take your benefaction -
five pounds! och, Jasus!" He then put the money in his
pocket, and springing up, waved his hat three times, uttering
some old Irish cry; then, sitting down, he took my hand, and
said, "Sure, Shorsha, I'll be going thither; and when I get
there, it is turning over another leaf I will be; I have
learnt a thing or two abroad; I will become a priest; that's
the trade, Shorsha! and I will cry out for repale; that's the
cry, Shorsha! and I'll be a fool no longer." "And what will
you do with your table?" said I. "'Faith, I'll be taking it
with me, Shorsha; and when I gets to Ireland, I'll get it
mended, and I will keep it in the house which I shall have;
and when I looks upon it, I will be thinking of all I have
undergone." "You had better leave it behind you," said I;
"if you take it with you, you will, perhaps, take up the
thimble trade again before you get to Ireland, and lose the
money I am after giving you." "No fear of that, Shorsha;
never will I play on that table again, Shorsha, till I get it
mended, which shall not be till I am a priest, and have a
house in which to place it."
Murtagh and I then went into the town, where we had some
refreshment together, and then parted on our several ways. I
heard nothing of him for nearly a quarter of a century, when
a person who knew him well, coming from Ireland, and staying
at my humble house, told me a great deal about him. He
reached Ireland in safety, soon reconciled himself with his
Church, and was ordained a priest; in the priestly office he
acquitted himself in a way very satisfactory, upon the whole,
to his superiors, having, as he frequently said, learned
wisdom abroad. The Popish Church never fails to turn to
account any particular gift which its servants may possess;
and discovering soon that Murtagh was endowed with
considerable manual dexterity - proof of which he frequently
gave at cards, and at a singular game which he occasionally
played at thimbles - it selected him as a very fit person to
play the part of exorcist; and accordingly he travelled
through a great part of Ireland, casting out devils from
people possessed, which he afterwards exhibited, sometimes in
the shape of rabbits, and occasionally birds and fishes.
There is a holy island in a lake in Ireland, to which the
people resort at a particular season of the year. Here
Murtagh frequently attended, and it was here that he
performed a cure which will cause his name long to be
remembered in Ireland, delivering a possessed woman of two
demons, which he brandished aloft in his hands, in the shape
of two large eels, and subsequently hurled into the lake,
amidst the shouts of an enthusiastic multitude. Besides
playing the part of an exorcist, he acted that of a
politician with considerable success; he attached himself to
the party of the sire of agitation - "the man of paunch," and
preached and hallooed for repeal with the loudest and best,
as long as repeal was the cry; as soon, however, as the Whigs
attained the helm of Government, and the greater part of the
loaves and fishes - more politely termed the patronage of
Ireland - was placed at the disposition of the priesthood,
the tone of Murtagh, like that of the rest of his brother
saggarts, was considerably softened; he even went so far as
to declare that politics were not altogether consistent with
sacerdotal duty; and resuming his exorcisms, which he had for
some time abandoned, he went to the Isle of Holiness, and
delivered a possessed woman of six demons in the shape of
white mice. He, however, again resumed the political mantle
in the year 1848, during the short period of the rebellion of
the so-called Young Irelanders. The priests, though they
apparently sided with this party, did not approve of it, as
it was chiefly formed of ardent young men, fond of what they
termed liberty, and by no means admirers of priestly
domination, being mostly Protestants. Just before the
outbreak of this rebellion, it was determined between the
priests and the -, that this party should be rendered
comparatively innocuous by being deprived of the sinews' of
war - in other words, certain sums of money which they had
raised for their enterprise. Murtagh was deemed the best
qualified person in Ireland to be entrusted with the delicate
office of getting their money from them. Having received his
instructions, he invited the leaders to his parsonage amongst
the mountains, under pretence of deliberating with them about
what was to be done. They arrived there just before
nightfall, dressed in red, yellow, and green, the colours so
dear to enthusiastic Irishmen; Murtagh received them with
great apparent cordiality, and entered into a long discourse
with them, promising them the assistance of himself and
order, and received from them a profusion of thanks. After a
time Murtagh, observing, in a jocular tone, that consulting
was dull work, proposed a game of cards, and the leaders,
though somewhat surprised, assenting, he went to a closet,
and taking out a pack of cards, laid it upon the table; it
was a strange dirty pack, and exhibited every mark of having
seen very long service. On one of its guests making some
remarks on the "ancientness" of its appearance, Murtagh
observed that there was a very wonderful history attached to
that pack; it had been presented to him, he said, by a young
gentleman, a disciple of his, to whom, in Dungarvon times of
yore, he had taught the Irish language, and of whom he
related some very extraordinary things; he added that he,
Murtagh, had taken it to -, where it had once the happiness
of being in the hands of the Holy Father; by a great
misfortune, he did not say what, he had lost possession of
it, and had returned without it, but had some time since
recovered it; a nephew of his, who was being educated at -
for a priest, having found it in a nook of the college, and
sent it to him.
Murtagh and the leaders then played various games with this
pack, more especially one called by the initiated "blind
hockey," the result being that at the end of about two hours
the leaders found they had lost one-half of their funds; they
now looked serious, and talked of leaving the house, but
Murtagh begging them to stay to supper, they consented.
After supper, at which the guests drank rather freely,
Murtagh said that, as he had not the least wish to win their
money, he intended to give them their revenge; he would not
play at cards with them, he added, but at a funny game of
thimbles, at which they would be sure of winning back their
own; then going out, he brought in a table, tall and narrow,
on which placing certain thimbles and a pea, he proposed that
they should stake whatever they pleased on the almost
certainty of finding the pea under the thimbles. The
leaders, after some hesitation, consented, and were at first
eminently successful, winning back the greater part of what
they had lost; after some time, however, Fortune, or rather
Murtagh, turned against them, and then, instead of leaving
off, they doubled and trebled their stakes, and continued
doing so until they had lost nearly the whole of their funds.
Quite furious, they now swore that Murtagh had cheated them,
and insisted on having their property restored to them.
Murtagh, without a word of reply, went to the door, and
shouting into the passage something in Irish, the room was
instantly filled with bogtrotters, each at least six feet
high, with a stout shillelah in his hand. Murtagh then
turning to his guests, asked them what they meant by
insulting an anointed priest; telling them that it was not
for the likes of them to avenge the wrongs of Ireland. "I
have been clane mistaken in the whole of ye," said he, "I
supposed ye Irish, but have found, to my sorrow, that ye are
nothing of the kind; purty fellows to pretend to be Irish,
when there is not a word of Irish on the tongue of any of ye,
divil a ha'porth; the illigant young gentleman to whom I
taught Irish, in Dungarvon times of old, though not born in
Ireland, has more Irish in him than any ten of ye. He is the
boy to avenge the wrongs of Ireland, if ever foreigner is to
do it." Then saying something to the bogtrotters, they
instantly cleared the room of the young Irelanders, who
retired sadly disconcerted; nevertheless, being very silly
young fellows, they hoisted the standard of rebellion; few,
however, joining them, partly because they had no money, and
partly because the priests abused them with might and main,
their rebellion ended in a lamentable manner; themselves
being seized and tried, and though convicted, not deemed of
sufficient importance to be sent to the scaffold, where they
might have had the satisfaction of saying -
"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."
My visitor, after saying that of the money won, Murtagh
retained a considerable portion, that a part went to the
hierarchy for what were called church purposes, and that the
- took the remainder, which it employed in establishing a
newspaper, in which the private characters of the worthiest
and most loyal Protestants in Ireland were traduced and
vilified, concluded his account by observing, that it was the
common belief that Murtagh, having by his services,
ecclesiastical and political, acquired the confidence of the
priesthood and favour of the Government, would, on the first
vacancy, be appointed to the high office of Popish Primate of
Departure from Horncastle - Recruiting Sergeant - Kauloes and
LEAVING Horncastle I bent my steps in the direction of the
east. I walked at a brisk rate, and late in the evening
reached a large town, situate at the entrance of an extensive
firth, or arm of the sea, which prevented my farther progress
eastward. Sleeping that night in the suburbs of the town, I
departed early next morning in the direction of the south. A
walk of about twenty miles brought me to another large town,
situated on a river, where I again turned towards the east.
At the end of the town I was accosted by a fiery-faced
individual, somewhat under the middle size, dressed as a
recruiting sergeant.
"Young man," said the recruiting sergeant, "you are just the
kind of person to serve the Honourable East India Company."
"I had rather the Honourable Company should serve me," said
"Of course, young man. Well, the Honourable East India
Company shall serve you - that's reasonable. Here, take this
shilling; 'tis service-money. The Honourable Company engages
to serve you, and you the Honourable Company; both parties
shall be thus served; that's just and reasonable."
"And what must I do for the Company?"
"Only go to India; that's all."
"And what should I do in India?"
"Fight, my brave boy! fight, my youthful hero!"
"What kind of country is India?"
"The finest country in the world! Rivers, bigger than the
Ouse. Hills, higher than anything near Spalding! Trees -
you never saw such trees! Fruits - you never saw such
"And the people - what kind of folk are they?"
"Pah! Kauloes - blacks - a set of rascals not worth
"Kauloes!" said I; "blacks!"
"Yes," said the recruiting sergeant; "and they call us
lolloes, which, in their beastly gibberish, means red."
"Lolloes!" said I; "reds!"
"Yes," said the recruiting sergeant, "kauloes and lolloes;
and all the lolloes have to do is to kick and cut down the
kauloes, and take from them their rupees, which mean silver
money. Why do you stare so?"
"Why," said I, "this is the very language of Mr. Petulengro."
"Mr. Pet-?"
"Yes," said I, "and Tawno Chikno."
"Tawno Chik-? I say, young fellow, I don't like your way of
speaking; no, nor your way of looking. You are mad, sir; you
are mad; and what's this? Why, your hair is grey! You won't
do for the Honourable Company - they like red. I'm glad I
didn't give you the shilling. Good day to you."
"I shouldn't wonder," said I, as I proceeded rapidly along a
broad causeway, in the direction of the east, "if Mr.
Petulengro and Tawno Chikno came originally from India. I
think I'll go there."
A Word for Lavengro.
LAVENGRO is the history up to a certain period of one of
rather a peculiar mind and system of nerves, with an exterior
shy and cold, under which lurk much curiosity, especially
with regard to what is wild and extraordinary, a considerable
quantity of energy and industry, and an unconquerable love of
independence. It narrates his earliest dreams and feelings,
dwells with minuteness on the ways, words, and characters of
his father, mother, and brother, lingers on the occasional
resting-places of his wandering half military childhood,
describes the gradual hardening of his bodily frame by robust
exercises, his successive struggles, after his family and
himself have settled down in a small local capital, to obtain
knowledge of every kind, but more particularly philological
lore; his visits to the tent of the Romany chal, and the
parlour of the Anglo-German philosopher; the effect produced
upon his character by his flinging himself into contact with
people all widely differing from each other, but all
extraordinary; his reluctance to settle down to the ordinary
pursuits of life; his struggles after moral truth; his
glimpses of God and the obscuration of the Divine Being, to
his mind's eye; and his being cast upon the world of London
by the death of his father, at the age of nineteen. In the
world within a world, the world of London, it shows him
playing his part for some time as he best can, in the
capacity of a writer for reviews and magazines, and describes
what he saw and underwent whilst labouring in that capacity;
it represents him, however, as never forgetting that he is
the son of a brave but poor gentleman, and that if he is a
hack author, he is likewise a scholar. It shows him doing no
dishonourable jobs, and proves that if he occasionally
associates with low characters, he does so chiefly to gratify
the curiosity of a scholar. In his conversations with the
apple-woman of London Bridge, the scholar is ever apparent,
so again in his acquaintance with the man of the table, for
the book is no raker up of the uncleanness of London, and if
it gives what at first sight appears refuse, it invariably
shows that a pearl of some kind, generally a philological
one, is contained amongst it; it shows its hero always
accompanied by his love of independence, scorning in the
greatest poverty to receive favours from anybody, and
describes him finally rescuing himself from peculiarly
miserable circumstances by writing a book, an original book,
within a week, even as Johnson is said to have written his
"Rasselas," and Beckford his "Vathek," and tells how, leaving
London, he betakes himself to the roads and fields.
In the country it shows him leading a life of roving
adventure, becoming tinker, gypsy, postillion, ostler;
associating with various kinds of people, chiefly of the
lower classes, whose ways and habits are described; but,
though leading this erratic life, we gather from the book
that his habits are neither vulgar nor vicious, that he still
follows to a certain extent his favourite pursuits, hunting
after strange characters, or analysing strange words and
names. At the conclusion of the last chapter, which
terminates the first part of the history, it hints that he is
about to quit his native land on a grand philological
Those who read this book with attention - and the author begs
to observe that it would be of little utility to read it
hurriedly - may derive much information with respect to
matters of philology and literature; it will be found
treating of most of the principal languages from Ireland to
China, and of the literature which they contain; and it is
particularly minute with regard to the ways, manners, and
speech of the English section of the most extraordinary and
mysterious clan or tribe of people to be found in the whole
world - the children of Roma. But it contains matters of
much more importance than anything in connection with
philology, and the literature and manners of nations.
Perhaps no work was ever offered to the public in which the
kindness and providence of God have been set forth by more
striking examples, or the machinations of priestcraft been
more truly and lucidly exposed, or the dangers which result
to a nation when it abandons itself to effeminacy, and a rage
for what is novel and fashionable, than the present.
With respect to the kindness and providence of God, are they
not exemplified in the case of the old apple-woman and her
son? These are beings in many points bad, but with warm
affections, who, after an agonizing separation, are restored
to each other, but not until the hearts of both are changed
and purified by the influence of affliction. Are they not
exemplified in the case of the rich gentleman, who touches
objects in order to avert the evil chance? This being has
great gifts and many amiable qualifies, but does not
everybody see that his besetting sin is selfishness? He
fixes his mind on certain objects, and takes inordinate
interest in them, because they are his own, and those very
objects, through the providence of God, which is kindness in
disguise, become snakes and scorpions to whip him. Tired of
various pursuits, he at last becomes an author, and publishes
a book, which is very much admired, and which he loves with
his usual inordinate affection; the book, consequently,
becomes a viper to him, and at last he flings it aside and
begins another; the book, however, is not flung aside by the
world, who are benefited by it, deriving pleasure and
knowledge from it: so the man who merely wrote to gratify
self, has already done good to others, and got himself an
honourable name. But God will not allow that man to put that
book under his head and use it as a pillow: the book has
become a viper to him, he has banished it, and is about
another, which he finishes and gives to the world; it is a
better book than the first, and every one is delighted with
it; but it proves to the writer a scorpion, because he loves
it with inordinate affection; but it was good for the world
that he produced this book, which stung him as a scorpion.
Yes; and good for himself, for the labour of writing it
amused him, and perhaps prevented him from dying of apoplexy;
but the book is banished, and another is begun, and herein,
again, is the providence of God manifested; the man has the
power of producing still, and God determines that he shall
give to the world what remains in his brain, which he would
not do, had he been satisfied with the second work; he would
have gone to sleep upon that as he would upon the first, for
the man is selfish and lazy. In his account of what he
suffered during the composition of this work, his besetting
sin of selfishness is manifest enough; the work on which he
is engaged occupies his every thought, it is his idol, his
deity, it shall be all his own, he won't borrow a thought
from any one else, and he is so afraid lest, when he
publishes it, that it should be thought that he had borrowed
from any one, that he is continually touching objects, his
nervous system, owing to his extreme selfishness, having
become partly deranged. He is left touching, in order to
banish the evil chance from his book, his deity. No more of
his history is given; but does the reader think that God will
permit that man to go to sleep on his third book, however
extraordinary it may be? Assuredly not. God will not permit
that man to rest till he has cured him to a certain extent of
his selfishness, which has, however, hitherto been very
useful to the world.
Then, again, in the tale of Peter Williams, is not the hand
of Providence to be seen? This person commits a sin in his
childhood, utters words of blasphemy, the remembrance of
which, in after life, preying upon his imagination, unfits
him for quiet pursuits, to which he seems to have been
naturally inclined; but for the remembrance of that sin, he
would have been Peter Williams the quiet and respectable
Welsh farmer, somewhat fond of reading the ancient literature
of his country in winter evenings, after his work was done.
God, however, was aware that there was something in Peter
Williams to entitle him to assume a higher calling; he
therefore permits this sin, which, though a childish affair,
was yet a sin, and committed deliberately, to prey upon his
mind till he becomes at last an instrument in the hand of
God, a humble Paul, the great preacher, Peter Williams, who,
though he considers himself a reprobate and a castaway,
instead of having recourse to drinking in mad desperation, as
many do who consider themselves reprobates, goes about Wales
and England preaching the word of God, dilating on his power
and majesty, and visiting the sick and afflicted, until God
sees fit to restore to him his peace of mind; which he does
not do, however, until that mind is in a proper condition to
receive peace, till it has been purified by the pain of the
one idea which has so long been permitted to riot in his
brain; which pain, however, an angel, in the shape of a
gentle faithful wife, had occasionally alleviated; for God is
merciful even in the blows which He bestoweth, and will not
permit any one to be tempted beyond the measure which he can
support. And here it will be as well for the reader to
ponder upon the means by which the Welsh preacher is relieved
from his mental misery: he is not relieved by a text from the
Bible, by the words of consolation and wisdom addressed to
him by his angel-minded wife, nor by the preaching of one yet
more eloquent than himself; but by a quotation made by
Lavengro from the life of Mary Flanders, cut-purse and
prostitute, which life Lavengro had been in the habit of
reading at the stall of his old friend the apple-woman, on
London Bridge, who had herself been very much addicted to the
perusal of it, though without any profit whatever. Should
the reader be dissatisfied with the manner in which Peter
Williams is made to find relief, the author would wish to
answer, that the Almighty frequently accomplishes his
purposes by means which appear very singular to the eyes of
men, and at the same time to observe that the manner in which
that relief is obtained, is calculated to read a lesson to
the proud, fanciful, and squeamish, who are ever in a fidget
lest they should be thought to mix with low society, or to
bestow a moment's attention on publications which are not
what is called of a perfectly unobjectionable character. Had
not Lavengro formed the acquaintance of the apple-woman on
London Bridge, he would not have had an opportunity of
reading the life of Mary Flanders; and, consequently, of
storing in a memory, which never forgets anything, a passage
which contained a balm for the agonized mind of poor Peter
Williams. The best medicines are not always found in the
finest shops. Suppose, for example, if, instead of going to
London Bridge to read, he had gone to Albemarle Street, and
had received from the proprietors of the literary
establishment in that very fashionable street, permission to
read the publications on the tables of the saloons there,
does the reader think he would have met any balm in those
publications for the case of Peter Williams? does the reader
suppose that he would have found Mary Flanders there? He
would certainly have found that highly unobjectionable
publication, "Rasselas," and the "Spectator," or "Lives of
Royal and Illustrious Personages," but, of a surety, no Mary
Flanders; so when Lavengro met with Peter Williams, he would
have been unprovided with a balm to cure his ulcerated mind,
and have parted from him in a way not quite so satisfactory
as the manner in which he took his leave of him; for it is
certain that he might have read "Rasselas," and all other
unexceptionable works to be found in the library of Albemarle
Street, over and over again, before he would have found any
cure in them for the case of Peter Williams. Therefore the
author requests the reader to drop any squeamish nonsense he
may wish to utter about Mary Flanders, and the manner in
which Peter Williams was cured.
And now with respect to the old man who knew Chinese, but
could not tell what was o'clock. This individual was a man
whose natural powers would have been utterly buried and lost
beneath a mountain of sloth and laziness, had not God
determined otherwise. He had in his early years chalked out
for himself a plan of life in which he had his own ease and
self-indulgence solely in view; he had no particular bad
passions to gratify, he only wished to live a happy quiet
life, just as if the business of this mighty world could be
carried on by innocent people fond of ease or quiet, or that
Providence would permit innocent quiet drones to occupy any
portion of the earth and to cumber it. God had at any rate
decreed that this man should not cumber it as a drone. He
brings a certain affliction upon him, the agony of which
produces that terrible whirling of the brain which, unless it
is stopped in time, produces madness; he suffers
indescribable misery for a period, until one morning his
attention is arrested, and his curiosity is aroused, by
certain Chinese letters on a teapot; his curiosity increases
more and more, and, of course, in proportion as his curiosity
is increased with respect to the Chinese marks, the misery in
his brain, produced by his mental affliction, decreases. He
sets about learning Chinese, and after the lapse of many
years, during which his mind subsides into a certain state of
tranquillity, he acquires sufficient knowledge of Chinese to
be able to translate with ease the inscriptions to be found
on its singular crockery. Yes, the laziest of human beings,
through the Providence of God, a being too of rather inferior
capacity, acquires the written part of a language so
difficult that, as Lavengro said on a former occasion, none
but the cleverest people in Europe, the French, are able to
acquire it. But God did not intend that man should merely
acquire Chinese. He intended that he should be of use to his
species, and by the instrumentality of the first Chinese
inscription which he translates, the one which first arrested
his curiosity, he is taught the duty of hospitality; yes, by
means of an inscription in the language of a people, who have
scarcely an idea of hospitality themselves, God causes the
slothful man to play a useful and beneficent part in the
world, relieving distressed wanderers, and, amongst others,
Lavengro himself. But a striking indication of the man's
surprising sloth is still apparent in what he omits to do; he
has learnt Chinese, the most difficult of languages, and he
practises acts of hospitality, because he believes himself
enjoined to do so by the Chinese inscription, but he cannot
tell the hour of the day by the clock within his house; he
can get on, he thinks, very well without being able to do so;
therefore from this one omission, it is easy to come to a
conclusion as to what a sluggard's part the man would have
played in life, but for the dispensation of Providence;
nothing but extreme agony could have induced such a man to do
anything useful. He still continues, with all he has
acquired, with all his usefulness, and with all his innocence
of character, without any proper sense of religion, though he
has attained a rather advanced age. If it be observed, that
this want of religion is a great defect in the story, the
author begs leave to observe that he cannot help it.
Lavengro relates the lives of people so far as they were
placed before him, but no further. It was certainly a great
defect in so good a man to be without religion; it was
likewise a great defect in so learned a man not to be able to
tell what was o'clock. It is probable that God, in his
loving kindness, will not permit that man to go out of the
world without religion; who knows but some powerful minister
of the church full of zeal for the glory of God, will illume
that man's dark mind; perhaps some clergyman will come to the
parish who will visit him and teach him his duty to his God.
Yes, it is very probable that such a man, before he dies,
will have been made to love his God; whether he will ever
learn to know what's o'clock is another matter. It is
probable that he will go out of the world without knowing
what's o'clock. It is not so necessary to be able to tell
the time of day by the clock as to know one's God through His
inspired word; a man cannot get to heaven without religion,
but a man can get there very comfortably without knowing
what's o'clock.
But, above all, the care and providence of God are manifested
in the case of Lavengro himself, by the manner in which he is
enabled to make his way in the world up to a certain period,
without falling a prey either to vice or poverty. In his
history, there is a wonderful illustration of part of the
text, quoted by his mother, "I have been young, but now am
old, yet never saw I the righteous forsaken, or his seed
begging his bread." He is the son of good and honourable
parents, but at the critical period of life, that of entering
into the world, he finds himself without any earthly friend
to help him, yet he manages to make his way; he does not
become a Captain in the Life Guards, it is true, nor does he
get into Parliament, nor does the last volume conclude in the
most satisfactory and unobjectionable manner, by his marrying
a dowager countess, as that wise man Addison did, or by his
settling down as a great country gentleman, perfectly happy
and contented, like the very moral Roderick Random, or the
equally estimable Peregrine Pickle; he is hack author, gypsy,
tinker, and postillion, yet, upon the whole, he seems to be
quite as happy as the younger sons of most earls, to have as
high feelings of honour; and when the reader loses sight of
him, he has money in his pocket honestly acquired, to enable
him to commence a journey quite as laudable as those which
the younger sons of earls generally undertake. Surely all
this is a manifestation of the kindness and providence of
God: and yet he is not a religious person; up to the time
when the reader loses sight of him, he is decidedly not a
religious person; he has glimpses, it is true, of that God
who does not forsake him, but he prays very seldom, is not
fond of going to church; and, though he admires Tate and
Brady's version of the Psalms, his admiration is rather
caused by the beautiful poetry which that version contains
than the religion; yet his tale is not finished - like the
tale of the gentleman who touched objects, and that of the
old man who knew Chinese without knowing what was o'clock;
perhaps, like them, he is destined to become religious, and
to have, instead of occasional glimpses, frequent and
distinct views of his God; yet, though he may become
religious, it is hardly to be expected that he will become a
very precise and straightlaced person; it is probable that he
will retain, with his scholarship, something of his gypsyism,
his predilection for the hammer and tongs, and perhaps some
inclination to put on certain gloves, not white kid, with any
friend who may be inclined for a little old English
diversion, and a readiness to take a glass of ale, with
plenty of malt in it, and as little hop as may well be - ale
at least two years old - with the aforesaid friend, when the
diversion is over; for, as it is the belief of the writer
that a person may get to heaven very comfortably without
knowing what's o'clock, so it is his belief that he will not
be refused admission there, because to the last he has been
fond of healthy and invigorating exercises, and felt a
willingness to partake of any of the good things which it
pleases the Almighty to put within the reach of his children
during their sojourn upon earth.
On Priestcraft.
THE writer will now say a few words about priestcraft, and
the machinations of Rome, and will afterwards say something
about himself, and his motives for writing against them.
With respect to Rome, and her machinations, much valuable
information can be obtained from particular parts of
Lavengro, and its sequel. Shortly before the time when the
hero of the book is launched into the world, the Popish
agitation in England had commenced. The Popish propaganda
had determined to make a grand attempt on England; Popish
priests were scattered over the land, doing the best they
could to make converts to the old superstition. With the
plans of Rome, and her hopes, and the reasons on which those
hopes are grounded, the hero of the book becomes acquainted,
during an expedition which he makes into the country, from
certain conversations which he holds with a priest in a
dingle, in which the hero had taken up his residence; he
likewise learns from the same person much of the secret
history of the Roman See, and many matters connected with the
origin and progress of the Popish superstition. The
individual with whom he holds these conversations is a
learned, intelligent, but highly-unprincipled person, of a
character however very common amongst the priests of Rome,
who in general are people void of all religion, and who,
notwithstanding they are tied to Rome by a band which they
have neither the power nor wish to break, turn her and her
practices, over their cups with their confidential
associates, to a ridicule only exceeded by that to which they
turn those who become the dupes of their mistress and
It is now necessary that the writer should say something with
respect to himself, and his motives for waging war against
Rome. First of all, with respect to himself, he wishes to
state, that to the very last moment of his life, he will do
and say all that in his power may be to hold up to contempt
and execration the priestcraft and practices of Rome; there
is, perhaps, no person better acquainted than himself, not
even among the choicest spirits of the priesthood, with the
origin and history of Popery. From what he saw and heard of
Popery in England, at a very early period of his life, his
curiosity was aroused, and he spared himself no trouble,
either by travel or study, to make himself well acquainted
with it in all its phases, the result being a hatred of it,
which he hopes and trusts he shall retain till the moment
when his spirit quits the body. Popery is the great lie of
the world; a source from which more misery and social
degradation have flowed upon the human race, than from all
the other sources from which those evils come. It is the
oldest of all superstitions; and though in Europe it assumes
the name of Christianity, it existed and flourished amidst
the Himalayan hills at least two thousand years before the
real Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea; in a word, it is
Buddhism; and let those who may be disposed to doubt this
assertion, compare the Popery of Rome, and the superstitious
practices of its followers, with the doings of the priests
who surround the grand Lama; and the mouthings, bellowing,
turnings round, and, above all, the penances of the followers
of Buddh with those of Roman devotees. But he is not going
to dwell here on this point; it is dwelt upon at tolerable
length in the text, and has likewise been handled with
extraordinary power by the pen of the gifted but irreligious
Volney; moreover, the ELITE of the Roman priesthood are
perfectly well aware that their system is nothing but
Buddhism under a slight disguise, and the European world in
general has entertained for some time past an inkling of the
And now a few words with respect to the motives of the writer
for expressing a hatred for Rome.
This expressed abhorrence of the author for Rome might be
entitled to little regard, provided it were possible to
attribute it to any self-interested motive. There have been
professed enemies of Rome, or of this or that system; but
their professed enmity may frequently be traced to some cause
which does them little credit; but the writer of these lines
has no motive, and can have no motive, for his enmity to
Rome, save the abhorrence of an honest heart for what is
false, base, and cruel. A certain clergyman wrote with much
heat against the Papists in the time of - who was known to
favour the Papists, but was not expected to continue long in
office, and whose supposed successor, the person, indeed, who
did succeed him, was thought to be hostile to the Papists.
This divine, who obtained a rich benefice from the successor
of - who during -'s time had always opposed him in everything
he proposed to do, and who, of course, during that time
affected to be very inimical to Popery - this divine might
well be suspected of having a motive equally creditable for
writing against the Papists, as that which induced him to
write for them, as soon as his patron, who eventually did
something more for him, had espoused their cause; but what
motive, save an honest one, can the present writer have, for
expressing an abhorrence of Popery? He is no clergyman, and
consequently can expect neither benefices nor bishoprics,
supposing it were the fashion of the present, or likely to be
the fashion of any future administration, to reward clergymen
with benefices or bishoprics, who, in the defence of the
religion of their country write, or shall write, against
Popery, and not to reward those who write, or shall write, in
favour of it, and all its nonsense and abominations.
"But if not a clergyman, he is the servant of a certain
society, which has the overthrow of Popery in view, and
therefore," etc. This assertion, which has been frequently
made, is incorrect, even as those who have made it probably
knew it to be. He is the servant of no society whatever. He
eats his own bread, and is one of the very few men in England
who are independent in every sense of the word.
It is true he went to Spain with the colours of that society
on his hat - oh! the blood glows in his veins! oh! the marrow
awakes in his old bones when he thinks of what he
accomplished in Spain in the cause of religion and
civilization with the colours of that society in his hat, and
its weapon in his hand, even the sword of the word of God;
how with that weapon he hewed left and right, making the
priests fly before him, and run away squeaking: "Vaya! que
demonio es este!" Ay, and when he thinks of the plenty of
Bible swords which he left behind him, destined to prove, and
which have already proved, pretty calthrops in the heels of
Popery. "Halloo! Batuschca," he exclaimed the other night,
on reading an article in a newspaper; "what do you think of
the present doings in Spain? Your old friend the zingaro,
the gitano who rode about Spain, to say nothing of Galicia,
with the Greek Buchini behind him as his squire, had a hand
in bringing them about; there are many brave Spaniards
connected with the present movement who took Bibles from his
hands, and read them and profited by them, learning from the
inspired page the duties of one man towards another, and the
real value of a priesthood and their head, who set at nought
the word of God, and think only of their own temporal
interests; ay, and who learned Gitano - their own Gitano -
from the lips of the London Caloro, and also songs in the
said Gitano, very fit to dumbfounder your semi-Buddhist
priests when they attempt to bewilder people's minds with
their school-logic and pseudo-ecclesiastical nonsense, songs
such as -
"Un Erajai
Sinaba chibando un sermon - ."
- But with that society he has long since ceased to have any
connection; he bade it adieu with feelings of love and
admiration more than fourteen years ago; so, in continuing to
assault Popery, no hopes of interest founded on that society
can sway his mind - interest! who, with worldly interest in
view, would ever have anything to do with that society? It
is poor and supported, like its founder Christ, by poor
people; and so far from having political influence, it is in
such disfavour, and has ever been, with the dastardly great,
to whom the government of England has for many years past
been confided, that they having borne its colours only for a
month would be sufficient to exclude any man, whatever his
talents, his learning, or his courage may be, from the
slightest chance of being permitted to serve his country
either for fee, or without. A fellow who unites in himself
the bankrupt trader, the broken author, or rather book-maker,
and the laughed-down single speech spouter of the House of
Commons, may look forward, always supposing that at one time
he has been a foaming radical, to the government of an
important colony. Ay, an ancient fox who has lost his tail
may, provided he has a score of radical friends, who will
swear that he can bark Chinese, though Chinese is not barked
but sung, be forced upon a Chinese colony, though it is well
known that to have lost one's tail is considered by the
Chinese in general as an irreparable infamy, whilst to have
been once connected with a certain society, to which, to its
honour be it said, all the radical party are vehemently
hostile, would be quite sufficient to keep any one not only
from a government, but something much less, even though he
could translate the rhymed "Sessions of Hariri," and were
versed, still retaining his tail, in the two languages in
which Kien-Loung wrote his Eulogium on Moukden, that piece
which, translated by Amyot, the learned Jesuit, won the
applause of the celebrated Voltaire.
No! were the author influenced by hopes of fee or reward, he
would, instead of writing against Popery, write for it; all
the trumpery titled - he will not call them great again -
would then be for him, and their masters the radicals, with
their hosts of newspapers, would be for him, more especially
if he would commence maligning the society whose colours he
had once on his hat - a society which, as the priest says in
the text, is one of the very few Protestant institutions for
which the Popish Church entertains any fear, and consequently
respect, as it respects nothing which it does not fear. The
writer said that certain "rulers" would never forgive him for
having been connected with that society; he went perhaps too
far in saying "never." It is probable that they would take
him into favour on one condition, which is, that he should
turn his pen and his voice against that society; such a mark
"of a better way of thinking" would perhaps induce them to
give him a government, nearly as good as that which they gave
to a certain ancient radical fox at the intercession of his
radical friends (who were bound to keep him from the pauper's
kennel), after he had promised to foam, bark, and snarl at
corruption no more; he might even entertain hopes of
succeeding, nay, of superseding, the ancient creature in his
government; but even were he as badly off as he is well off,
he would do no such thing. He would rather exist on crusts
and water; he has often done so, and been happy; nay, he
would rather starve than be a rogue - for even the feeling of
starvation is happiness compared with what he feels who knows
himself to be a rogue, provided he has any feeling at all.
What is the use of a mitre or knighthood to a man who has
betrayed his principles? What is the use of a gilt collar,
nay, even of a pair of scarlet breeches, to a fox who has
lost his tail? Oh! the horror which haunts the mind of a fox
who has lost his tail; and with reason, for his very mate
loathes him, and more especially if, like himself, she has
lost her brush. Oh! the horror which haunts the mind of the
two-legged rogue who has parted with his principles, or those
which he professed - for what? We'll suppose a government.
What's the use of a government, if the next day after you
have received it, you are obliged for very shame to scurry
off to it with the hoot of every honest man sounding in your
"Lightly liar leaped and away ran."
But bigotry, it has been said, makes the author write against
Popery; and thorough-going bigotry, indeed, will make a
person say or do anything. But the writer is a very pretty
bigot truly! Where will the public find traces of bigotry in
anything he has written? He has written against Rome with
all his heart, with all his mind, with all his soul, and with
all his strength; but as a person may be quite honest, and
speak and write against Rome, in like manner he may speak and
write against her, and be quite free from bigotry; though it
is impossible for any one but a bigot or a bad man to write
or speak in her praise; her doctrines, actions, and
machinations being what they are.
Bigotry! The author was born, and has always continued in
the wrong church for bigotry, the quiet, unpretending Church
of England; a church which, had it been a bigoted church, and
not long suffering almost to a fault, might with its
opportunities, as the priest says in the text, have stood in
a very different position from that which it occupies at
present. No! let those who are in search of bigotry, seek
for it in a church very different from the inoffensive Church
of England, which never encourages cruelty or calumny. Let
them seek for it amongst the members of the Church of Rome,
and more especially amongst those who have renegaded to it.
There is nothing, however false and horrible, which a pervert
to Rome will not say for his church, and which his priests
will not encourage him in saying; and there is nothing,
however horrible - the more horrible indeed and revolting to
human nature, the more eager he would be to do it - which he
will not do for it, and which his priests will not encourage
him in doing.
Of the readiness which converts to Popery exhibit to
sacrifice all the ties of blood and affection on the shrine
of their newly-adopted religion, there is a curious
illustration in the work of Luigi Pulci. This man, who was
born at Florence in the year 1432, and who was deeply versed
in the Bible, composed a poem, called the "Morgante
Maggiore," which he recited at the table of Lorenzo de
Medici, the great patron of Italian genius. It is a mockheroic
and religious poem, in which the legends of knighterrantry,
and of the Popish Church, are turned to unbounded
ridicule. The pretended hero of it is a converted giant,
called Morgante; though his adventures do not occupy the
twentieth part of the poem, the principal personages being
Charlemagne, Orlando, and his cousin Rinaldo of Montalban.
Morgante has two brothers, both of them giants, and in the
first canto of the poem, Morgante is represented with his
brothers as carrying on a feud with the abbot and monks of a
certain convent, built upon the confines of heathenesse; the
giants being in the habit of flinging down stones, or rather
huge rocks, on the convent. Orlando, however, who is
banished from the court of Charlemagne, arriving at the
convent, undertakes to destroy them, and, accordingly, kills
Passamonte and Alabastro, and converts Morgante, whose mind
had been previously softened by a vision, in which the
"Blessed Virgin" figures. No sooner is he converted than, as
a sign of his penitence, what does he do, but hastens and
cuts off the hands of his two brothers, saying -
"Io vo' tagliar le mani a tutti quanti
E porterolle a que' monaci santi."
And he does cut off the hands of his brethren, and carries
them to the abbot, who blesses him for so doing. Pulci here
is holding up to ridicule and execration the horrid butchery
or betrayal of friends by popish converts, and the
encouragement they receive from the priest. No sooner is a
person converted to Popery, than his principal thought is how
he can bring the hands and feet of his brethren, however
harmless they may be, and different from the giants, to the
"holy priests," who, if he manages to do so, never fail to
praise him, saying to the miserable wretch, as the abbot said
to Morgante:-
"Tu sarai or perfetto e vero amico
A Cristo, quanto tu gli eri nemico."
Can the English public deny the justice of Pulci's
illustration, after something which it has lately witnessed?
Has it not seen equivalents for the hands and feet of
brothers carried by popish perverts to the "holy priests,"
and has it not seen the manner in which the offering has been
received? Let those who are in quest of bigotry seek for it
among the perverts to Rome, and not amongst those who, born
in the pale of the Church of England, have always continued
in it.
On Foreign Nonsense.
WITH respect to the third point, various lessons which the
book reads to the nation at large, and which it would be well
for the nation to ponder and profit by.
There are many species of nonsense to which the nation is
much addicted, and of which the perusal of Lavengro ought to
give them a wholesome shame. First of all, with respect to
the foreign nonsense so prevalent now in England. The hero
is a scholar; but, though possessed of a great many tongues,
he affects to be neither Frenchman, nor German, nor this or
that foreigner; he is one who loves his country, and the
language and literature of his country, and speaks up for
each and all when there is occasion to do so. Now what is
the case with nine out of ten amongst those of the English
who study foreign languages? No sooner have they picked up a
smattering of this or that speech than they begin to abuse
their own country, and everything connected with it, more
especially its language. This is particularly the case with
those who call themselves German students. It is said, and
the writer believes with truth, that when a woman falls in
love with a particularly ugly fellow, she squeezes him with
ten times more zest than she would a handsome one, if
captivated by him. So it is with these German students; no
sooner have they taken German in hand than there is nothing
like German. Oh, the dear delightful German! How proud I am
that it is now my own, and that its divine literature is
within my reach! And all this whilst mumbling the most
uncouth speech, and crunching the most crabbed literature in
Europe. The writer is not an exclusive admirer of everything
English; he does not advise his country people never to go
abroad, never to study foreign languages, and he does not
wish to persuade them that there is nothing beautiful or
valuable in foreign literature; he only wishes that they
would not make themselves fools with respect to foreign
people, foreign languages or reading; that if they chance to
have been in Spain, and have picked up a little Spanish, they
would not affect the airs of Spaniards; that if males they
would not make Tomfools of themselves by sticking cigars into
their mouths, dressing themselves in zamarras, and saying,
carajo! (2) and if females that they would not make zanies of
themselves by sticking cigars into their mouths, flinging
mantillas over their heads, and by saying carai, and perhaps
carajo too; or if they have been in France or Italy, and have
picked up a little French or Italian, they would not affect
to be French or Italians; and particularly, after having been
a month or two in Germany, or picked up a little German in
England, they would not make themselves foolish about
everything German, as the Anglo-German in the book does - a
real character, the founder of the Anglo-German school in
England, and the cleverest Englishman who ever talked or
wrote encomiastic nonsense about Germany and the Germans. Of
all infatuations connected with what is foreign, the
infatuation about everything that is German, to a certain
extent prevalent in England, is assuredly the most
ridiculous. One can find something like a palliation for
people making themselves somewhat foolish about particular
languages, literatures, and people. The Spanish certainly is
a noble language, and there is something wild and captivating
in the Spanish character, and its literature contains the
grand book of the world. French is a manly language. The
French are the great martial people in the world; and French
literature is admirable in many respects. Italian is a sweet
language, and of beautiful simplicity - its literature
perhaps the first in the world. The Italians! - wonderful
men have sprung up in Italy. Italy is not merely famous for
painters, poets, musicians, singers, and linguists - the
greatest linguist the world ever saw, the late Cardinal
Mezzofanti, was an Italian; but it is celebrated for men -
men emphatically speaking: Columbus was an Italian, Alexander
Farnese was an Italian, so was the mightiest of the mighty,
Napoleon Bonaparte; - but the German language, German
literature, and the Germans! The writer has already stated
his opinion with respect to German; he does not speak from
ignorance or prejudice; he has heard German spoken, and many
other languages. German literature! He does not speak from
ignorance, he has read that and many a literature, and he
repeats - However, he acknowledges that there is one fine
poem in the German language, that poem is the "Oberon;" a
poem, by the bye, ignored by the Germans - a speaking fact -
and of course, by the Anglo-Germanists. The Germans! he has
been amongst them, and amongst many other nations, and
confesses that his opinion of the Germans, as men, is a very
low one. Germany, it is true, has produced one very great
man, the monk who fought the Pope, and nearly knocked him
down; but this man his countrymen - a telling fact - affect
to despise, and, of course, the Anglo-Germanists: the father
of Anglo-Germanism was very fond of inveighing against
The madness, or rather foolery, of the English for foreign
customs, dresses, and languages, is not an affair of to-day,
or yesterday - it is of very ancient date, and was very
properly exposed nearly three centuries ago by one Andrew
Borde, who under the picture of a "Naked man, with a pair of
shears in one hand, and a roll of cloth in the other," (3)
inserted the following lines along with others:-
"I am an Englishman, and naked I stand here,
Musing in my mind what garment I shall weare;
For now I will weare this, and now I will weare that,
Now I will weare, I cannot tell what.
All new fashions be pleasant to mee,
I will have them, whether I thrive or thee;
What do I care if all the world me fail?
I will have a garment reach to my taile;
Then am I a minion, for I wear the new guise.
The next yeare after I hope to be wise,
Not only in wearing my gorgeous array,
For I will go to learning a whole summer's day;
I will learn Latine, Hebrew, Greek, and French,
And I will learn Dutch, sitting on my bench.
I had no peere if to myself I were true,
Because I am not so, divers times do I rue.
Yet I lacke nothing, I have all things at will
If I were wise and would hold myself still,
And meddle with no matters but to me pertaining,
But ever to be true to God and my king.
But I have such matters rowling in my pate,
That I will and do - I cannot tell what," etc.
On Gentility Nonsense - Illustrations of Gentility.
WHAT is gentility? People in different stations in England -
entertain different ideas of what is genteel, (4) but it must
be something gorgeous, glittering, or tawdry, to be
considered genteel by any of them. The beau-ideal of the
English aristocracy, of course with some exceptions, is some
young fellow with an imperial title, a military personage of
course, for what is military is so particularly genteel, with
flaming epaulets, a cocked hat and plume, a prancing charger,
and a band of fellows called generals and colonels, with
flaming epaulets, cocked hats and plumes, and prancing
chargers vapouring behind him. It was but lately that the
daughter of an English marquis was heard to say, that the
sole remaining wish of her heart - she had known misfortunes,
and was not far from fifty - was to be introduced to - whom?
The Emperor of Austria! The sole remaining wish of the heart
of one who ought to have been thinking of the grave and
judgment, was to be introduced to the miscreant who had
caused the blood of noble Hungarian females to be whipped out
of their shoulders, for no other crime than devotion to their
country, and its tall and heroic sons. The middle classes -
of course there are some exceptions - admire the aristocracy,
and consider them pinks, the aristocracy who admire the
Emperor of Austria, and adored the Emperor of Russia, till he
became old, ugly, and unfortunate, when their adoration
instantly terminated; for what is more ungenteel than age,
ugliness, and misfortune! The beau-ideal with those of the
lower classes, with peasants and mechanics, is some
flourishing railroad contractor: look, for example, how they
worship Mr. Flamson. This person makes his grand debut in
the year 'thirty-nine, at a public meeting in the principal
room of a country inn. He has come into the neighbourhood
with the character of a man worth a million pounds, who is to
make everybody's fortune; at this time, however, he is not
worth a shilling of his own, though he flashes about
dexterously three or four thousand pounds, part of which sum
he has obtained by specious pretences, and part from certain
individuals who are his confederates. But in the year
'forty-nine, he is really in possession of the fortune which
he and his agents pretended to be worth ten years before - he
is worth a million pounds. By what means has he come by
them? By railroad contracts, for which he takes care to be
paid in hard cash before he attempts to perform them, and to
carry out which he makes use of the sweat and blood of
wretches who, since their organization, have introduced
crimes and language into England to which it was previously
almost a stranger - by purchasing, with paper, shares by
hundreds in the schemes to execute which he contracts, and
which are his own devising; which shares he sells as soon as
they are at a high premium, to which they are speedily forced
by means of paragraphs, inserted by himself and agents, in
newspapers devoted to his interest, utterly reckless of the
terrible depreciation to which they are almost instantly
subjected. But he is worth a million pounds, there can be no
doubt of the fact - he has not made people's fortunes, at
least those whose fortunes it was said he would make; he has
made them away; but his own he has made, emphatically made
it; he is worth a million pounds. Hurrah for the
millionnaire! The clown who views the pandemonium of red
brick which he has built on the estate which he has purchased
in the neighbourhood of the place of his grand debut, in
which every species of architecture, Greek, Indian, and
Chinese, is employed in caricature - who hears of the grand
entertainment he gives at Christmas in the principal diningroom,
the hundred wax-candles, the waggon-load of plate, and
the ocean of wine which form parts of it, and above all the
two ostrich poults, one at the head, and the other at the
foot of the table, exclaims, "Well! if he a'n't bang up, I
don't know who be; why he beats my lord hollow!" The
mechanic of the borough town, who sees him dashing through
the streets in an open landau, drawn by four milk-white
horses, amidst his attendant out-riders; his wife, a monster
of a woman, by his side, stout as the wife of Tamerlane, who
weighed twenty stone, and bedizened out like her whose person
shone with the jewels of plundered Persia, stares with silent
wonder, and at last exclaims "That's the man for my vote!"
You tell the clown that the man of the mansion has
contributed enormously to corrupt the rural innocence of
England; you point to an incipient branch railroad, from
around which the accents of Gomorrah are sounding, and beg
him to listen for a moment, and then close his ears. Hodge
scratches his head and says, "Well, I have nothing to say to
that; all I know is, that he is bang up, and I wish I were
he;" perhaps he will add - a Hodge has been known to add -
"He has been kind enough to put my son on that very railroad;
'tis true the company is somewhat queer, and the work rather
killing, but he gets there half-a-crown a day, whereas from
the farmers he would only get eighteen-pence." You remind
the mechanic that the man in the landau has been the ruin of
thousands and you mention people whom he himself knows,
people in various grades of life, widows and orphans amongst
them, whose little all has been dissipated, and whom he has
reduced to beggary by inducing them to become sharers in his
delusive schemes. But the mechanic says, "Well, the more
fools they to let themselves be robbed. But I don't call
that kind of thing robbery, I merely call it out-witting; and
everybody in this free country has a right to outwit others
if he can. What a turn-out he has!" One was once heard to
add, "I never saw a more genteel-looking man in all my life
except one, and that was a gentleman's walley, who was much
like him. It is true that he is rather under-sized, but then
madam, you know, makes up for all."
Subject of Gentility continued.
IN the last chapter have been exhibited specimens of
gentility, so considered by different classes; by one class
power, youth, and epaulets are considered the ne plus ultra
of gentility; by another class pride, stateliness, and title;
by another, wealth and flaming tawdriness. But what
constitutes a gentleman? It is easy to say at once what
constitutes a gentleman, and there are no distinctions in
what is gentlemanly, (5) as there are in what is genteel.
The characteristics of a gentleman are high feeling - a
determination never to take a cowardly advantage of another -
a liberal education - absence of narrow views - generosity
and courage, propriety of behaviour. Now a person may be
genteel according to one or another of the three standards
described above, and not possess one of the characteristics
of a gentleman. Is the emperor a gentleman, with spatters of
blood on his clothes, scourged from the backs of noble
Hungarian women? Are the aristocracy gentlefolks, who admire
him? Is Mr. Flamson a gentleman, although he has a million
pounds? No! cowardly miscreants, admirers of cowardly
miscreants, and people who make a million pounds by means
compared with which those employed to make fortunes by the
getters up of the South Sea Bubble might be called honest
dealing, are decidedly not gentlefolks. Now as it is clearly
demonstrable that a person may be perfectly genteel according
to some standard or other, and yet be no gentleman, so it is
demonstrable that a person may have no pretensions to
gentility, and yet be a gentleman. For example, there is
Lavengro! Would the admirers of the emperor, or the admirers
of those who admire the emperor, or the admirers of Mr.
Flamson, call him genteel? and gentility with them is
everything! Assuredly they would not; and assuredly they
would consider him respectively as a being to be shunned,
despised, or hooted. Genteel! Why at one time he is a hack
author - writes reviewals for eighteenpence a page - edits a
Newgate chronicle. At another he wanders the country with a
face grimy from occasionally mending kettles; and there is no
evidence that his clothes are not seedy and torn, and his
shoes down at the heel; but by what process of reasoning will
they prove that he is no gentleman? Is he not learned? Has
he not generosity and courage? Whilst a hack author, does he
pawn the books entrusted to him to review? Does he break his
word to his publisher? Does he write begging letters? Does
he get clothes or lodgings without paying for them? Again,
whilst a wanderer, does he insult helpless women on the road
with loose proposals or ribald discourse? Does he take what
is not his own from the hedges? Does he play on the fiddle,
or make faces in public-houses, in order to obtain pence or
beer? or does he call for liquor, swallow it, and then say to
a widowed landlady, "Mistress, I have no brass?" In a word,
what vice and crime does he perpetrate - what low acts does
he commit? Therefore, with his endowments, who will venture
to say that he is no gentleman? - unless it be an admirer of
Mr. Flamson - a clown - who will, perhaps, shout - "I say he
is no gentleman; for who can be a gentleman who keeps no
The indifference exhibited by Lavengro for what is merely
genteel, compared with his solicitude never to infringe the
strict laws of honour, should read a salutary lesson. The
generality of his countrymen are far more careful not to
transgress the customs of what they call gentility, than to
violate the laws of honour or morality. They will shrink
from carrying their own carpet-bag, and from speaking to a
person in seedy raiment, whilst to matters of much higher
importance they are shamelessly indifferent. Not so
Lavengro; he will do anything that he deems convenient, or
which strikes his fancy, provided it does not outrage
decency, or is unallied to profligacy; is not ashamed to
speak to a beggar in rags, and will associate with anybody,
provided he can gratify a laudable curiosity. He has no
abstract love for what is low, or what the world calls low.
He sees that many things which the world looks down upon are
valuable, so he prizes much which the world condemns; he sees
that many things which the world admires are contemptible, so
he despises much which the world does not; but when the world
prizes what is really excellent, he does not contemn it,
because the world regards it. If he learns Irish, which all
the world scoffs at, he likewise learns Italian, which all
the world melts at. If he learns Gypsy, the language of the
tattered tent, he likewise learns Greek, the language of the
college-hall. If he learns smithery, he also learns - ah!
what does he learn to set against smithery? - the law? No;
he does not learn the law, which, by the way, is not very
genteel. Swimming? Yes, he learns to swim. Swimming,
however, is not genteel; and the world - at least the genteel
part of it - acts very wisely in setting its face against it;
for to swim you must be naked, and how would many a genteel
person look without his clothes? Come, he learns
horsemanship; a very genteel accomplishment, which every
genteel person would gladly possess, though not all genteel
people do.
Again as to associates: if he holds communion when a boy with
Murtagh, the scarecrow of an Irish academy, he associates in
after life with Francis Ardry, a rich and talented young
Irish gentleman about town. If he accepts an invitation from
Mr. Petulengro to his tent, he has no objection to go home
with a rich genius to dinner; who then will say that he
prizes a thing or a person because they are ungenteel? That
he is not ready to take up with everything that is ungenteel
he gives a proof, when he refuses, though on the brink of
starvation, to become bonnet to the thimble-man, an office,
which, though profitable, is positively ungenteel. Ah! but
some sticker-up for gentility will exclaim, "The hero did not
refuse this office from an insurmountable dislike to its
ungentility, but merely from a feeling of principle." Well!
the writer is not fond of argument, and he will admit that
such was the case; he admits that it was a love of principle,
rather than an over-regard for gentility, which prevented the
hero from accepting, when on the brink of starvation, an
ungenteel though lucrative office, an office which, the
writer begs leave to observe, many a person with a great
regard for gentility, and no particular regard for principle,
would in a similar strait have accepted; for when did a mere
love for gentility keep a person from being a dirty
scoundrel, when the alternatives were "either be a dirty
scoundrel or starve?" One thing, however, is certain, which
is, that Lavengro did not accept the office, which if a love
for what is low had been his ruling passion he certainly
would have done; consequently, he refuses to do one thing
which no genteel person would willingly do, even as he does
many things which every genteel person would gladly do, for
example, speaks Italian, rides on horseback, associates with
a fashionable young man, dines with a rich genius, et cetera.
Yet - and it cannot be minced - he and gentility with regard
to many things are at strange divergency; he shrinks from
many things at which gentility placidly hums a tune, or
approvingly simpers, and does some things at which gentility
positively shrinks. He will not run into debt for clothes or
lodgings, which he might do without any scandal to gentility;
he will not receive money from Francis Ardry, and go to
Brighton with the sister of Annette Le Noir, though there is
nothing ungenteel in borrowing money from a friend, even when
you never intend to repay him, and something poignantly
genteel in going to a watering-place with a gay young
Frenchwoman; but he has no objection, after raising twenty
pounds by the sale of that extraordinary work "Joseph Sell,"
to set off into the country, mend kettles under hedge-rows,
and make pony and donkey shoes in a dingle. Here, perhaps,
some plain, well-meaning person will cry - and with much
apparent justice - how can the writer justify him in this
act? What motive, save a love for what is low, could induce
him to do such a thing? Would the writer have everybody who
is in need of recreation go into the country, mend kettles
under hedges, and make pony shoes in dingles? To such an
observation the writer would answer, that Lavengro had an
excellent motive in doing what he did, but that the writer is
not so unreasonable as to wish everybody to do the same. It
is not everybody who can mend kettles. It is not everybody
who is in similar circumstances to those in which Lavengro
was. Lavengro flies from London and hack authorship, and
takes to the roads from fear of consumption; it is expensive
to put up at inns, and even at public-houses, and Lavengro
has not much money; so he buys a tinker's cart and apparatus,
and sets up as tinker, and subsequently as blacksmith; a
person living in a tent, or in anything else, must do
something or go mad; Lavengro had a mind, as he himself well
knew, with some slight tendency to madness, and had he not
employed himself, he must have gone wild; so to employ
himself he drew upon one of his resources, the only one
available at the time. Authorship had nearly killed him, he
was sick of reading, and had besides no books; but he
possessed the rudiments of an art akin to tinkering; he knew
something of smithery, having served a kind of apprenticeship
in Ireland to a fairy smith; so he draws upon his smithery to
enable him to acquire tinkering, he speedily acquires that
craft, even as he had speedily acquired Welsh, owing to its
connection with Irish, which language he possessed; and with
tinkering he amuses himself until he lays it aside to resume
smithery. A man who has an innocent resource, has quite as
much right to draw upon it in need, as he has upon a banker
in whose hands he has placed a sum; Lavengro turns to
advantage, under particular circumstances, a certain resource
which he has, but people who are not so forlorn as Lavengro,
and have not served the same apprenticeship which he had, are
not advised to follow his example. Surely he was better
employed in plying the trades of tinker and smith than in
having recourse to vice, in running after milk-maids, for
example. Running after milk-maids is by no means an
ungenteel rural diversion; but let any one ask some
respectable casuist (the Bishop of London for example),
whether Lavengro was not far better employed, when in the
country, at tinkering and smithery than he would have been in
running after all the milk-maids in Cheshire, though
tinkering is in general considered a very ungenteel
employment, and smithery little better, notwithstanding that
an Orcadian poet, who wrote in Norse about eight hundred
years ago, reckons the latter among nine noble arts which he
possessed, naming it along with playing at chess, on the
harp, and ravelling runes, or as the original has it,
"treading runes" - that is, compressing them into a small
compass by mingling one letter with another, even as the
Turkish caligraphists ravel the Arabic letters, more
especially those who write talismans.
"Nine arts have I, all noble;
I play at chess so free,
At ravelling runes I'm ready,
At books and smithery;
I'm skilled o'er ice at skimming
On skates, I shoot and row,
And few at harping match me,
Or minstrelsy, I trow."
But though Lavengro takes up smithery, which, though the
Orcadian ranks it with chess-playing and harping, is
certainly somewhat of a grimy art, there can be no doubt
that, had he been wealthy and not so forlorn as he was, he
would have turned to many things, honourable, of course, in
preference. He has no objection to ride a fine horse when he
has the opportunity: he has his day-dream of making a fortune
of two hundred thousand pounds by becoming a merchant and
doing business after the Armenian fashion; and there can be
no doubt that he would have been glad to wear fine clothes,
provided he had had sufficient funds to authorize him in
wearing them. For the sake of wandering the country and
plying the hammer and tongs, he would not have refused a
commission in the service of that illustrious monarch George
the Fourth, provided he had thought that he could live on his
pay, and not be forced to run in debt to tradesmen, without
any hope of paying them, for clothes and luxuries, as many
highly genteel officers in that honourable service were in
the habit of doing. For the sake of tinkering, he would
certainly not have refused a secretaryship of an embassy to
Persia, in which he might have turned his acquaintance with
Persian, Arabic, and the Lord only knows what other
languages, to account. He took to tinkering and smithery,
because no better employments were at his command. No war is
waged in the book against rank, wealth, fine clothes, or
dignified employments; it is shown, however, that a person
may be a gentleman and a scholar without them. Rank, wealth,
fine clothes, and dignified employments, are no doubt very
fine things, but they are merely externals, they do not make
a gentleman, they add external grace and dignity to the
gentleman and scholar, but they make neither; and is it not
better to be a gentleman without them than not a gentleman
with them? Is not Lavengro, when he leaves London on foot
with twenty pounds in his pocket, entitled to more respect
than Mr. Flamson flaming in his coach with a million? And is
not even the honest jockey at Horncastle, who offers a fair
price to Lavengro for his horse, entitled to more than the
scoundrel lord, who attempts to cheat him of one-fourth of
its value?
Millions, however, seem to think otherwise, by their servile
adoration of people whom without rank, wealth, and fine
clothes they would consider infamous, but whom possessed of
rank, wealth, and glittering habiliments they seem to admire
all the more for their profligacy and crimes. Does not a
blood-spot, or a lust-spot, on the clothes of a blooming
emperor, give a kind of zest to the genteel young god? Do
not the pride, superciliousness, and selfishness of a certain
aristocracy make it all the more regarded by its worshippers?
and do not the clownish and gutter-blood admirers of Mr.
Flamson like him all the more because they are conscious that
he is a knave? If such is the case - and, alas! is it not
the case? - they cannot be too frequently told that fine
clothes, wealth, and titles adorn a person in proportion as
he adorns them; that if worn by the magnanimous and good they
are ornaments indeed, but if by the vile and profligate they
are merely san benitos, and only serve to make their infamy
doubly apparent; and that a person in seedy raiment and
tattered hat, possessed of courage, kindness, and virtue, is
entitled to more respect from those to whom his virtues are
manifested than any cruel profligate emperor, selfish
aristocrat, or knavish millionaire in the world.
The writer has no intention of saying that all in England are
affected with the absurd mania for gentility; nor is such a
statement made in the book; it is shown therein that
individuals of certain classes can prize a gentleman,
notwithstanding seedy raiment, dusty shoes or tattered hat, -
for example, the young Irishman, the rich genius, the
postillion, and his employer. Again, when the life of the
hero is given to the world, amidst the howl about its lowness
and vulgarity, raised by the servile crew whom its
independence of sentiment has stung, more than one powerful
voice has been heard testifying approbation of its learning
and the purity of its morality. That there is some salt in
England, minds not swayed by mere externals, he is fully
convinced; if he were not, he would spare himself the trouble
of writing; but to the fact that the generality of his
countrymen are basely grovelling before the shrine of what
they are pleased to call gentility, he cannot shut his eyes.
Oh! what a clever person that Cockney was, who, travelling
in the Aberdeen railroad carriage, after edifying the company
with his remarks on various subjects, gave it as his opinion
that Lieutenant P- would, in future, be shunned by all
respectable society! And what a simple person that elderly
gentleman was, who, abruptly starting, asked in rather an
authoritative voice, "and why should Lieutenant P- be shunned
by respectable society?" and who, after entering into what
was said to be a masterly analysis of the entire evidence of
the case, concluded by stating, "that having been accustomed
to all kinds of evidence all his life, he had never known a
case in which the accused had obtained a more complete and
triumphant justification than Lieutenant P- had done in the
late trial."
Now the Cockney, who is said to have been a very foppish
Cockney, was perfectly right in what he said, and therein
manifested a knowledge of the English mind and character, and
likewise of the modern English language, to which his
catechist, who, it seems, was a distinguished member of the
Scottish bar, could lay no pretensions. The Cockney knew
what the Lord of Session knew not, that the British public is
gentility crazy, and he knew, moreover, that gentility and
respectability are synonymous. No one in England is genteel
or respectable that is "looked at," who is the victim of
oppression; he may be pitied for a time, but when did not
pity terminate in contempt? A poor, harmless young officer -
but why enter into the details of the infamous case? they are
but too well known, and if ever cruelty, pride, and
cowardice, and things much worse than even cruelty,
cowardice, and pride were brought to light, and, at the same
time, countenanced, they were in that case. What availed the
triumphant justification of the poor victim? There was at
first a roar of indignation against his oppressors, but how
long did it last? He had been turned out of the service,
they remained in it with their red coats and epaulets; he was
merely the son of a man who had rendered good service to his
country, they were, for the most part, highly connected -
they were in the extremest degree genteel, he quite the
reverse; so the nation wavered, considered, thought the
genteel side was the safest after all, and then with the cry
of, "Oh! there is nothing like gentility," ratted bodily.
Newspaper and public turned against the victim, scouted him,
apologized for the - what should they be called? - who were
not only admitted into the most respectable society, but
courted to come, the spots not merely of wine on their
military clothes, giving them a kind of poignancy. But there
is a God in heaven; the British glories are tarnished -
Providence has never smiled on British arms since that case -
oh! Balaklava! thy name interpreted is net of fishes, and
well dost thou deserve that name. How many a scarlet golden
fish has of late perished in the mud amidst thee, cursing the
genteel service, and the genteel leader which brought him to
such a doom.
Whether the rage for gentility is most prevalent amongst the
upper, middle, or lower classes it is difficult to say; the
priest in the text seems to think that it is exhibited in the
most decided manner in the middle class; it is the writer's
opinion, however, that in no class is it more strongly
developed than in the lower: what they call being well-born
goes a great way amongst them, but the possession of money
much farther, whence Mr. Flamson's influence over them.
Their rage against, and scorn for, any person who by his
courage and talents has advanced himself in life, and still
remains poor, are indescribable; "he is no better than
ourselves," they say, "why should he be above us?" - for they
have no conception that anybody has a right to ascendency
over themselves except by birth or money. This feeling
amongst the vulgar has been, to a certain extent, the bane of
two services, naval and military. The writer does not make
this assertion rashly; he observed this feeling at work in
the army when a child, and he has good reason for believing
that it was as strongly at work in the navy at the same time,
and is still as prevalent in both. Why are not brave men
raised from the ranks? is frequently the cry; why are not
brave sailors promoted? The Lord help brave soldiers and
sailors who are promoted; they have less to undergo from the
high airs of their brother officers, and those are hard
enough to endure, than from the insolence of the men.
Soldiers and sailors promoted to command are said to be in
general tyrants; in nine cases out of ten, when they are
tyrants, they have been obliged to have recourse to extreme
severity in order to protect themselves from the insolence
and mutinous spirit of the men, - "He is no better than
ourselves: shoot him, bayonet him, or fling him overboard!"
they say of some obnoxious individual raised above them by
his merit. Soldiers and sailors, in general, will bear any
amount of tyranny from a lordly sot, or the son of a man who
has "plenty of brass" - their own term - but will mutiny
against the just orders of a skilful and brave officer who
"is no better than themselves." There was the affair of the
"Bounty," for example: Bligh was one of the best seamen that
ever trod deck, and one of the bravest of men; proofs of his
seamanship he gave by steering, amidst dreadful weather, a
deeply-laden boat for nearly four thousand miles over an
almost unknown ocean - of his bravery, at the fight of
Copenhagen, one of the most desperate ever fought, of which
after Nelson he was the hero: he was, moreover, not an unkind
man; but the crew of the "Bounty" mutinied against him, and
set him half naked in an open boat, with certain of his men
who remained faithful to him, and ran away with the ship.
Their principal motive for doing so was an idea, whether true
or groundless the writer cannot say, that Bligh was "no
better than themselves;" he was certainly neither a lord's
illegitimate, nor possessed of twenty thousand pounds. The
writer knows what he is writing about, having been acquainted
in his early years with an individual who was turned adrift
with Bligh, and who died about the year '22, a lieutenant in
the navy, in a provincial town in which the writer was
brought up. The ringleaders in the mutiny were two
scoundrels, Christian and Young, who had great influence with
the crew, because they were genteelly connected. Bligh,
after leaving the "Bounty," had considerable difficulty in
managing the men who had shared his fate, because they
considered themselves "as good men as he," notwithstanding,
that to his conduct and seamanship they had alone to look,
under Heaven, for salvation from the ghastly perils that
surrounded them. Bligh himself, in his journal, alludes to
this feeling. Once, when he and his companions landed on a
desert island, one of them said, with a mutinous look, that
he considered himself "as good a man as he;" Bligh, seizing a
cutlass, called upon him to take another and defend himself,
whereupon the man said that Bligh was going to kill him, and
made all manner of concessions; now why did this fellow
consider himself as good a man as Bligh? Was he as good a
seaman? no, nor a tenth part as good. As brave a man? no,
nor a tenth part as brave; and of these facts he was
perfectly well aware, but bravery and seamanship stood for
nothing with him, as they still stand with thousands of his
class; Bligh was not genteel by birth or money, therefore
Bligh was no better than himself. Had Bligh, before he
sailed, got a twenty-thousand pound prize in the lottery, he
would have experienced no insolence from this fellow, for
there would have been no mutiny in the "Bounty." "He is our
betters," the crew would have said, "and it is our duty to
obey him."
The wonderful power of gentility in England is exemplified in
nothing more than in what it is producing amongst Jews,
Gypsies, and Quakers. It is breaking up their venerable
communities. All the better, some one will say. Alas! alas!
It is making the wealthy Jews forsake the synagogue for the
opera-house, or the gentility chapel, in which a disciple of
Mr. Platitude, in a white surplice, preaches a sermon at
noon-day from a desk, on each side of which is a flaming
taper. It is making them abandon their ancient literature,
their "Mischna," their "Gemara," their "Zohar," for gentility
novels, "The Young Duke," the most unexceptionably genteel
book ever written, being the principal favourite. It makes
the young Jew ashamed of the young Jewess, it makes her
ashamed of the young Jew. The young Jew marries an operadancer,
or if the dancer will not have him, as is frequently
the case, the cast-off Miss of the Honourable Spencer So-andso.
It makes the young Jewess accept the honourable offer of
a cashiered lieutenant of the Bengal Native Infantry; or, if
such a person does not come forward, the dishonourable offer
of a cornet of a regiment of crack hussars. It makes poor
Jews, male and female, forsake the synagogue for the sixpenny
theatre or penny hop; the Jew to take up with an Irish female
of loose character, and the Jewess with a musician of the
Guards, or the Tipperary servant of Captain Mulligan. With
respect to the gypsies, it is making the women what they
never were before - harlots; and the men what they never were
before - careless fathers and husbands. It has made the
daughter of Ursula the chaste take up with the base drummer
of a wild-beast show. It makes Gorgiko Brown, the gypsy man,
leave his tent and his old wife, of an evening, and thrust
himself into society which could well dispense with him.
"Brother," said Mr. Petulengro to the Romany Rye, after
telling him many things connected with the decadence of
gypsyism, "there is one Gorgiko Brown, who, with a face as
black as a tea-kettle, wishes to be mistaken for a Christian
tradesman; he goes into the parlour of a third-rate inn of an
evening, calls for rum and water, and attempts to enter into
conversation with the company about politics and business;
the company flout him and give him the cold shoulder, or
perhaps complain to the landlord, who comes and asks him what
business he has in the parlour, telling him if he wants to
drink to go into the tap-room, and perhaps collars him and
kicks him out, provided he refuses to move." With respect to
the Quakers, it makes the young people like the young Jews,
crazy after gentility diversions, worship, marriages, or
connections, and makes old Pease do what it makes Gorgiko
Brown do, thrust himself into society which could well
dispense with him, and out of which he is not kicked, because
unlike the gypsy he is not poor. The writer would say much
more on these points, but want of room prevents him; he must
therefore request the reader to have patience until he can
lay before the world a pamphlet, which he has been long
meditating, to be entitled "Remarks on the strikingly similar
Effects which a Love for Gentility has produced, and is
producing, amongst Jews, Gypsies, and Quakers."
The Priest in the book has much to say on the subject of this
gentility-nonsense; no person can possibly despise it more
thoroughly than that very remarkable individual seems to do,
yet he hails its prevalence with pleasure, knowing the
benefits which will result from it to the church of which he
is the sneering slave. "The English are mad after
gentility," says he; "well, all the better for us; their
religion for a long time past has been a plain and simple
one, and consequently by no means genteel; they'll quit it
for ours, which is the perfection of what they admire; with
which Templars, Hospitalers, mitred abbots, Gothic abbeys,
long-drawn aisles, golden censers, incense, et cetera, are
connected; nothing, or next to nothing, of Christ, it is
true, but weighed in the balance against gentility, where
will Christianity be? why, kicking against the beam - ho!
ho!" And in connection with the gentility-nonsense, he
expatiates largely, and with much contempt, on a species of
literature by which the interests of his church in England
have been very much advanced - all genuine priests have a
thorough contempt for everything which tends to advance the
interests of their church - this literature is made up of
pseudo Jacobitism, Charlie o'er the waterism, or nonsense
about Charlie o'er the water. And the writer will now take
the liberty of saying a few words about it on his own
On Scotch Gentility-Nonsense - Charlie o'er the Waterism.
OF the literature just alluded to Scott was the inventor. It
is founded on the fortunes and misfortunes of the Stuart
family, of which Scott was the zealous defender and
apologist, doing all that in his power lay to represent the
members of it as noble, chivalrous, high-minded, unfortunate
princes; though, perhaps, of all the royal families that ever
existed upon the earth, this family was the worst. It was
unfortunate enough, it is true; but it owed its misfortunes
entirely to its crimes, viciousness, bad faith, and
cowardice. Nothing will be said of it here until it made its
appearance in England to occupy the English throne.
The first of the family which we have to do with, James, was
a dirty, cowardly miscreant, of whom the less said the
better. His son, Charles the First, was a tyrant -
exceedingly cruel and revengeful, but weak and dastardly; he
caused a poor fellow to be hanged in London, who was not his
subject, because he had heard that the unfortunate creature
had once bitten his own glove at Cadiz, in Spain, at the
mention of his name; and he permitted his own bull-dog,
Strafford, to be executed by his own enemies, though the only
crime of Strafford was, that he had barked furiously at those
enemies, and had worried two or three of them, when Charles
shouted, "Fetch 'em." He was a bitter, but yet a despicable
enemy, and the coldest and most worthless of friends; for
though he always hoped to be able, some time or other, to
hang his enemies, he was always ready to curry favour with
them, more especially if he could do so at the expense of his
friends. He was the haughtiest, yet meanest of mankind. He
once caned a young nobleman for appearing before him in the
drawing-room not dressed exactly according to the court
etiquette; yet he condescended to flatter and compliment him
who, from principle, was his bitterest enemy, namely,
Harrison, when the republican colonel was conducting him as a
prisoner to London. His bad faith was notorious; it was from
abhorrence of the first public instance which he gave of his
bad faith, his breaking his word to the Infanta of Spain,
that the poor Hiberno-Spaniard bit his glove at Cadiz; and it
was his notorious bad faith which eventually cost him his
head; for the Republicans would gladly have spared him,
provided they could put the slightest confidence in any
promise, however solemn, which he might have made to them.
Of them, it would be difficult to say whether they most hated
or despised him. Religion he had none. One day he favoured
Popery; the next, on hearing certain clamours of the people,
he sent his wife's domestics back packing to France, because
they were Papists. Papists, however, should make him a
saint, for he was certainly the cause of the taking of
His son, Charles the Second, though he passed his youth in
the school of adversity, learned no other lesson from it than
the following one - take care of yourself, and never do an
action, either good or bad, which is likely to bring you into
any great difficulty; and this maxim he acted up to as soon
as he came to the throne. He was a Papist, but took especial
care not to acknowledge his religion, at which he frequently
scoffed, till just before his last gasp, when he knew that he
could lose nothing, and hoped to gain everything by it. He
was always in want of money, but took care not to tax the
country beyond all endurable bounds; preferring to such a
bold and dangerous course, to become the pensioner of Louis,
to whom, in return for his gold, he sacrificed the honour and
interests of Britain. He was too lazy and sensual to delight
in playing the part of a tyrant himself; but he never checked
tyranny in others save in one instance. He permitted beastly
butchers to commit unmentionable horrors on the feeble,
unarmed, and disunited Covenanters of Scotland, but checked
them when they would fain have endeavoured to play the same
game on the numerous united, dogged, and warlike Independents
of England. To show his filial piety, he bade the hangman
dishonour the corpses of some of his father's judges, before
whom, when alive, he ran like a screaming hare; but permitted
those who had lost their all in supporting his father's
cause, to pine in misery and want. He would give to a
painted harlot a thousand pounds for a loathsome embrace, and
to a player or buffoon a hundred for a trumpery pun, but
would refuse a penny to the widow or orphan of an old
Royalist soldier. He was the personification of selfishness;
and as he loved and cared for no one, so did no one love or
care for him. So little had he gained the respect or
affection of those who surrounded him, that after his body
had undergone an after-death examination, parts of it were
thrown down the sinks of the palace, to become eventually the
prey of the swine and ducks of Westminster.
His brother, who succeeded him, James the Second, was a
Papist, but sufficiently honest to acknowledge his Popery,
but upon the whole, he was a poor creature; though a tyrant,
he was cowardly, had he not been a coward he would never have
lost his throne. There were plenty of lovers of tyranny in
England who would have stood by him, provided he would have
stood by them, and would, though not Papists, have encouraged
him in his attempt to bring back England beneath the sway of
Rome, and perhaps would eventually have become Papists
themselves; but the nation raising a cry against him, and his
son-in-law, the Prince of Orange, invading the country, he
forsook his friends, of whom he had a host, but for whom he
cared little - left his throne, for which he cared a great
deal - and Popery in England, for which he cared yet more, to
their fate, and escaped to France, from whence, after taking
a little heart, he repaired to Ireland, where he was speedily
joined by a gallant army of Papists whom he basely abandoned
at the Boyne, running away in a most lamentable condition, at
the time when by showing a little courage he might have
enabled them to conquer. This worthy, in his last will,
bequeathed his heart to England - his right arm to Scotland -
and his bowels to Ireland. What the English and Scotch said
to their respective bequests is not known, but it is certain
that an old Irish priest, supposed to have been a greatgrand-
uncle of the present Reverend Father Murtagh, on
hearing of the bequest to Ireland, fell into a great passion,
and having been brought up at "Paris and Salamanca,"
expressed his indignation in the following strain:- "Malditas
sean tus tripas! teniamos bastante del olor de tus tripas al
tiempo de tu nuida dela batalla del Boyne!"
His son, generally called the Old Pretender, though born in
England, was carried in his infancy to France, where he was
brought up in the strictest principles of Popery, which
principles, however, did not prevent him becoming (when did
they ever prevent any one?) a worthless and profligate
scoundrel; there are some doubts as to the reality of his
being a son of James, which doubts are probably unfounded,
the grand proof of his legitimacy being the thorough baseness
of his character. It was said of his father that he could
speak well, and it may be said of him that he could write
well, the only thing he could do which was worth doing,
always supposing that there is any merit in being able to
write. He was of a mean appearance, and, like his father,
pusillanimous to a degree. The meanness of his appearance
disgusted, and his pusillanimity discouraged the Scotch when
he made his appearance amongst them in the year 1715, some
time after the standard of rebellion had been hoisted by Mar.
He only stayed a short time in Scotland, and then, seized
with panic, retreated to France, leaving his friends to shift
for themselves as they best could. He died a pensioner of
the Pope.
The son of this man, Charles Edward, of whom so much in later
years has been said and written, was a worthless ignorant
youth, and a profligate and illiterate old man. When young,
the best that can be said of him is, that he had occasionally
springs of courage, invariably at the wrong time and place,
which merely served to lead his friends into inextricable
difficulties. When old, he was loathsome and contemptible to
both friend and foe. His wife loathed him, and for the most
terrible of reasons; she did not pollute his couch, for to do
that was impossible - he had made it so vile; but she
betrayed it, inviting to it not only Alfieri the Filthy, but
the coarsest grooms. Doctor King, the warmest and almost
last adherent of his family, said, that there was not a vice
or crime of which he was not guilty; as for his foes, they
scorned to harm him even when in their power. In the year
1745 he came down from the Highlands of Scotland, which had
long been a focus of rebellion. He was attended by certain
clans of the Highlands, desperadoes used to free-bootery from
their infancy, and, consequently, to the use of arms, and
possessed of a certain species of discipline; with these he
defeated at Prestonpans a body of men called soldiers, but
who were in reality peasants and artizans, levied about a
month before, without discipline or confidence in each other,
and who were miserably massacred by the Highland army; he
subsequently invaded England, nearly destitute of regular
soldiers, and penetrated as far as Derby, from which place he
retreated on learning that regular forces which had been
hastily recalled from Flanders were coming against him, with
the Duke of Cumberland at their head; he was pursued, and his
rearguard overtaken and defeated by the dragoons of the duke
at Clifton, from which place the rebels retreated in great
confusion across the Eden into Scotland, where they commenced
dancing Highland reels and strathspeys on the bank of the
river, for joy at their escape, whilst a number of wretched
girls, paramours of some of them, were perishing in the
waters of the swollen river in an attempt to follow them;
they themselves passed over by eighties and by hundreds, arm
in arm, for mutual safety, without the loss of a man, but
they left the poor paramours to shift for themselves, nor did
any of these canny people after passing the stream dash back
to rescue a single female life, - no, they were too well
employed upon the bank in dancing strathspeys to the tune of
"Charlie o'er the water." It was, indeed, Charlie o'er the
water, and canny Highlanders o'er the water, but where were
the poor prostitutes meantime? IN THE WATER.
The Jacobite farce, or tragedy, was speedily brought to a
close by the battle of Culloden; there did Charlie wish
himself back again o'er the water, exhibiting the most
unmistakable signs of pusillanimity; there were the clans cut
to pieces, at least those who could be brought to the charge,
and there fell Giles Mac Bean, or as he was called in Gaelic,
Giliosa Mac Beathan, a kind of giant, six feet four inches
and a quarter high, "than whom," as his wife said in a
coronach she made upon him, "no man who stood at Cuiloitr was
taller" - Giles Mac Bean the Major of the clan Cattan - a
great drinker - a great fisher - a great shooter, and the
champion of the Highland host.
The last of the Stuarts was a cardinal.
Such were the Stuarts, such their miserable history. They
were dead and buried in every sense of the word until Scott
resuscitated them - how? by the power of fine writing and by
calling to his aid that strange divinity, gentility. He
wrote splendid novels about the Stuarts, in which he
represents them as unlike what they really were as the
graceful and beautiful papillon is unlike the hideous and
filthy worm. In a word, he made them genteel, and that was
enough to give them paramount sway over the minds of the
British people. The public became Stuart-mad, and everybody,
specially the women, said, "What a pity it was that we hadn't
a Stuart to govern." All parties, Whig, Tory, or Radical,
became Jacobite at heart, and admirers of absolute power.
The Whigs talked about the liberty of the subject, and the
Radicals about the rights of man still, but neither party
cared a straw for what it talked about, and mentally swore
that, as soon as by means of such stuff they could get
places, and fill their pockets, they would be as Jacobite as
the Jacobs themselves. As for Tories, no great change in
them was necessary; everything favouring absolutism and
slavery being congenial to them. So the whole nation, that
is, the reading part of the nation, with some exceptions, for
thank God there has always been some salt in England, went
over the water to Charlie. But going over to Charlie was not
enough, they must, or at least a considerable part of them,
go over to Rome too, or have a hankering to do so. As the
Priest sarcastically observes in the text, "As all the Jacobs
were Papists, so the good folks who through Scott's novels
admire the Jacobs must be Papists too." An idea got about
that the religion of such genteel people as the Stuarts must
be the climax of gentility, and that idea was quite
sufficient. Only let a thing, whether temporal or spiritual,
be considered genteel in England, and if it be not followed
it is strange indeed; so Scott's writings not only made the
greater part of the nation Jacobite, but Popish.
Here some people will exclaim - whose opinions remain sound
and uncontaminated - what you say is perhaps true with
respect to the Jacobite nonsense at present so prevalent
being derived from Scott's novels, but the Popish nonsense,
which people of the genteeler classes are so fond of, is
derived from Oxford. We sent our sons to Oxford nice honest
lads, educated in the principles of the Church of England,
and at the end of the first term they came home puppies,
talking Popish nonsense, which they had learned from the
pedants to whose care we had entrusted them; ay, not only
Popery but Jacobitism, which they hardly carried with them
from home, for we never heard them talking Jacobitism before
they had been at Oxford; but now their conversation is a
farrago of Popish and Jacobite stuff - "Complines and
Claverse." Now, what these honest folks say is, to a certain
extent, founded on fact; the Popery which has overflowed the
land during the last fourteen or fifteen years, has come
immediately from Oxford, and likewise some of the Jacobitism,
Popish and Jacobite nonsense, and little or nothing else,
having been taught at Oxford for about that number of years.
But whence did the pedants get the Popish nonsense with which
they have corrupted youth? Why, from the same quarter from
which they got the Jacobite nonsense with which they have
inoculated those lads who were not inoculated with it before
- Scott's novels. Jacobitism and Laudism, a kind of half
Popery, had at one time been very prevalent at Oxford, but
both had been long consigned to oblivion there, and people at
Oxford cared as little about Laud as they did about the
Pretender. Both were dead and buried there, as everywhere
else, till Scott called them out of their graves, when the
pedants of Oxford hailed both - ay, and the Pope, too, as
soon as Scott had made the old fellow fascinating, through
particular novels, more especially the "Monastery" and
"Abbot." Then the quiet, respectable, honourable Church of
England would no longer do for the pedants of Oxford; they
must belong to a more genteel church - they were ashamed at
first to be downright Romans - so they would be Lauds. The
pale-looking, but exceedingly genteel non-juring clergyman in
Waverley was a Laud; but they soon became tired of being
Lauds, for Laud's Church, gew-gawish and idolatrous as it
was, was not sufficiently tinselly and idolatrous for them,
so they must be Popes, but in a sneaking way, still calling
themselves Church-of-England men, in order to batten on the
bounty of the church which they were betraying, and likewise
have opportunities of corrupting such lads as might still
resort to Oxford with principles uncontaminated.
So the respectable people, whose opinions are still sound,
are, to a certain extent, right when they say that the tide
of Popery, which has flowed over the land, has come from
Oxford. It did come immediately from Oxford, but how did it
get to Oxford? Why, from Scott's novels. Oh! that sermon
which was the first manifestation of Oxford feeling, preached
at Oxford some time in the year '38 by a divine of a weak and
confused intellect, in which Popery was mixed up with
Jacobitism! The present writer remembers perfectly well, on
reading some extracts from it at the time in a newspaper, on
the top of a coach, exclaiming - "Why, the simpleton has been
pilfering from Walter Scott's novels!"
O Oxford pedants! Oxford pedants! ye whose politics and
religion are both derived from Scott's novels! what a pity it
is that some lad of honest parents, whose mind ye are
endeavouring to stultify with your nonsense about "Complines
and Claverse," has not the spirit to start up and cry,
"Confound your gibberish! I'll have none of it. Hurrah for
the Church, and the principles of my FATHER!"
Same Subject continued.
NOW what could have induced Scott to write novels tending to
make people Papists and Jacobites, and in love with arbitrary
power? Did he think that Christianity was a gaudy mummery?
He did not, he could not, for he had read the Bible; yet was
he fond of gaudy mummeries, fond of talking about them. Did
he believe that the Stuarts were a good family, and fit to
govern a country like Britain? He knew that they were a
vicious, worthless crew, and that Britain was a degraded
country as long as they swayed the sceptre; but for those
facts he cared nothing, they governed in a way which he
liked, for he had an abstract love of despotism, and an
abhorrence of everything savouring of freedom and the rights
of man in general. His favourite political picture was a
joking, profligate, careless king, nominally absolute - the
heads of great houses paying court to, but in reality
governing, that king, whilst revelling with him on the
plunder of a nation, and a set of crouching, grovelling
vassals (the literal meaning of vassal is a wretch), who,
after allowing themselves to be horsewhipped, would take a
bone if flung to them, and be grateful; so that in love with
mummery, though he knew what Christianity was, no wonder he
admired such a church as that of Rome, and that which Laud
set up; and by nature formed to be the holder of the candle
to ancient worm-eaten and profligate families, no wonder that
all his sympathies were with the Stuarts and their dissipated
insolent party, and all his hatred directed against those who
endeavoured to check them in their proceedings, and to raise
the generality of mankind something above a state of
vassalage, that is, wretchedness. Those who were born great,
were, if he could have had his will, always to remain great,
however worthless their characters. Those who were born low,
were always to remain so, however great their talents;
though, if that rule were carried out, where would he have
been himself?
In the book which he called the "History of Napoleon
Bonaparte," in which he plays the sycophant to all the
legitimate crowned heads in Europe, whatever their crimes,
vices, or miserable imbecilities, he, in his abhorrence of
everything low which by its own vigour makes itself
illustrious, calls Murat of the sabre the son of a pastrycook,
of a Marseilleise pastry-cook. It is a pity that
people who give themselves hoity-toity airs - and the Scotch
in general are wonderfully addicted to giving themselves
hoity-toity airs, and checking people better than themselves
with their birth (6) and their country - it is a great pity
that such people do not look at home-son of a pastry-cook, of
a Marseilleise pastry-cook! Well, and what was Scott
himself? Why, son of a pettifogger, of an Edinburgh
pettifogger. "Oh, but Scott was descended from the old cowstealers
of Buccleuch, and therefore - " descended from old
cow-stealers, was he? Well, had he nothing to boast of
beyond such a pedigree, he would have lived and died the son
of a pettifogger, and been forgotten, and deservedly so; but
he possessed talents, and by his talents rose like Murat, and
like him will be remembered for his talents alone, and
deservedly so. "Yes, but Murat was still the son of a
pastry-cook, and though he was certainly good at the sabre,
and cut his way to a throne, still - " Lord! what fools
there are in the world; but as no one can be thought anything
of in this world without a pedigree, the writer will now give
a pedigree for Murat, of a very different character from the
cow-stealing one of Scott, but such a one as the proudest he
might not disdain to claim. Scott was descended from the old
cow-stealers of Buccleuch - was he? Good! and Murat was
descended from the old Moors of Spain, from the Abencerages
(sons of the saddle) of Granada. The name Murat is Arabic,
and is the same as Murad (Le Desire, or the wished-for one).
Scott in his genteel Life of Bonaparte, says that "when Murat
was in Egypt, the similarity between the name of the
celebrated Mameluke Mourad and that of Bonaparte's Meilleur
Sabreur was remarked, and became the subject of jest amongst
the comrades of the gallant Frenchman." But the writer of
the novel of Bonaparte did not know that the names were one
and the same. Now which was the best pedigree, that of the
son of the pastry-cook, or that of the son of the
pettifogger? Which was the best blood? Let us observe the
workings of the two bloods. He who had the blood of the
"sons of the saddle" in him, became the wonderful cavalier of
the most wonderful host that ever went forth to conquest, won
for himself a crown, and died the death of a soldier, leaving
behind him a son, only inferior to himself in strength, in
prowess, and in horsemanship. The descendant of the cowstealer
became a poet, a novel writer, the panegyrist of
great folk and genteel people; became insolvent because,
though an author, he deemed it ungenteel to be mixed up with
the business part of the authorship; died paralytic and
broken-hearted because he could no longer give entertainments
to great folks, leaving behind him, amongst other children,
who were never heard of, a son, who, through his father's
interest, had become lieutenant-colonel in a genteel cavalry
regiment. A son who was ashamed of his father because his
father was an author; a son who - paugh - why ask which was
the best blood?
So, owing to his rage for gentility, Scott must needs become
the apologist of the Stuarts and their party; but God made
this man pay dearly for taking the part of the wicked against
the good; for lauding up to the skies the miscreants and
robbers, and calumniating the noble spirits of Britain, the
salt of England, and his own country. As God had driven the
Stuarts from their throne, and their followers from their
estates, making them vagabonds and beggars on the face of the
earth, taking from them all that they cared for, so did that
same God, who knows perfectly well how and where to strike,
deprive the apologist of that wretched crew of all that
rendered life pleasant in his eyes, the lack of which
paralysed him in body and mind, rendered him pitiable to
others, loathsome to himself, - so much so, that he once
said, "Where is the beggar who would change places with me,
notwithstanding all my fame?" Ah! God knows perfectly well
how to strike. He permitted him to retain all his literary
fame to the very last - his literary fame for which he cared
nothing; but what became of the sweetness of life, his fine
house, his grand company, and his entertainments? The grand
house ceased to be his; he was only permitted to live in it
on sufferance, and whatever grandeur it might still retain,
it soon became as desolate a looking house as any misanthrope
could wish to see - where were the grand entertainments and
the grand company? there are no grand entertainments where
there is no money; no lords and ladies where there are no
entertainments - and there lay the poor lodger in the
desolate house, groaning on a bed no longer his, smitten by
the hand of God in the part where he was most vulnerable. Of
what use telling such a man to take comfort, for he had
written the "Minstrel" and "Rob Roy," - telling him to think
of his literary fame? Literary fame, indeed! he wanted back
his lost gentility:-
"Retain my altar,
I care nothing for it - but, oh! touch not my BEARD."
He dies, his children die too, and then comes the crowning
judgment of God on what remains of his race and the house
which he had built. He was not a Papist himself, nor did he
wish any one belonging to him to be Popish, for he had read
enough of the Bible to know that no one can be saved through
Popery, yet had he a sneaking affection for it, and would at
times in an underhand manner, give it a good word both in
writing and discourse, because it was a gaudy kind of
worship, and ignorance and vassalage prevailed so long as it
flourished - but he certainly did not wish any of his people
to become Papists, nor the house which he had built to become
a Popish house, though the very name he gave it savoured of
Popery; but Popery becomes fashionable through his novels and
poems - the only one that remains of his race, a female
grandchild, marries a person who, following the fashion,
becomes a Papist, and makes her a Papist too. Money abounds
with the husband, who buys the house, and then the house
becomes the rankest Popish house in Britain. A superstitious
person might almost imagine that one of the old Scottish
Covenanters, whilst the grand house was being built from the
profits resulting from the sale of writings favouring Popery
and persecution, and calumniatory of Scotland's saints and
martyrs, had risen from the grave, and banned Scott, his
race, and his house, by reading a certain psalm.
In saying what he has said about Scott, the author has not
been influenced by any feeling of malice or ill-will, but
simply by a regard for truth, and a desire to point out to
his countrymen the harm which has resulted from the perusal
of his works; - he is not one of those who would depreciate
the talents of Scott - he admires his talents, both as a
prose writer and a poet; as a poet especially he admires him,
and believes him to have been by far the greatest, with
perhaps the exception of Mickiewicz, who only wrote for
unfortunate Poland, that Europe has given birth to during the
last hundred years. As a prose writer he admires him, less,
it is true, but his admiration for him in that capacity is
very high, and he only laments that he prostituted his
talents to the cause of the Stuarts and gentility. What book
of fiction of the present century can you read twice, with
the exception of "Waverley" and "Rob Roy?" There is
"Pelham," it is true, which the writer of these lines has
seen a Jewess reading in the steppe of Debreczin, and which a
young Prussian Baron, a great traveller, whom he met at
Constantinople in '44 told him he always carried in his
valise. And, in conclusion, he will say, in order to show
the opinion which he entertains of the power of Scott as a
writer, that he did for the sceptre of the wretched Pretender
what all the kings of Europe could not do for his body -
placed it on the throne of these realms; and for Popery, what
Popes and Cardinals strove in vain to do for three centuries
- brought back its mummeries and nonsense into the temples of
the British Isles.
Scott during his lifetime had a crowd of imitators, who,
whether they wrote history so called - poetry so called - or
novels - nobody would call a book a novel if he could call it
anything else - wrote Charlie o'er the water nonsense; and
now that he has been dead nearly a quarter of a century,
there are others daily springing up who are striving to
imitate Scott in his Charlie o'er the water nonsense - for
nonsense it is, even when flowing from his pen. They, too,
must write Jacobite histories, Jacobite songs, and Jacobite
novels, and much the same figure as the scoundrel menials in
the comedy cut when personating their masters, and retailing
their masters' conversation, do they cut as Walter Scotts.
In their histories, they too talk about the Prince and
Glenfinnan, and the pibroch; and in their songs about
"Claverse" and "Bonny Dundee." But though they may be Scots,
they are not Walter Scotts. But it is perhaps chiefly in the
novel that you see the veritable hog in armour; the time of
the novel is of course the '15 or '45; the hero a Jacobite,
and connected with one or other of the enterprises of those
periods; and the author, to show how unprejudiced he is, and
what ORIGINAL views he takes of subjects, must needs speak up
for Popery, whenever he has occasion to mention it; though,
with all his originality, when he brings his hero and the
vagabonds with which he is concerned before a barricadoed
house, belonging to the Whigs, he can make them get into it
by no other method than that which Scott makes his rioters
employ to get into the Tolbooth, BURNING DOWN the door.
To express the more than utter foolishness of this latter
Charlie o'er the water nonsense, whether in rhyme or prose,
there is but one word, and that word a Scotch word. Scotch,
the sorriest of jargons, compared with which even Roth Welsch
is dignified and expressive, has yet one word to express what
would be inexpressible by any word or combination of words in
any language, or in any other jargon in the world; and very
properly; for as the nonsense is properly Scotch, so should
the word be Scotch which expresses it - that word is
"fushionless," pronounced FOOSHIONLESS; and when the writer
has called the nonsense fooshionless - and he does call it
fooshionless - he has nothing more to say, but leaves the
nonsense to its fate.
On Canting Nonsense.
THE writer now wishes to say something on the subject of
canting nonsense, of which there is a great deal in England.
There are various cants in England, amongst which is the
religious cant. He is not going to discuss the subject of
religious cant: lest, however, he should be misunderstood, he
begs leave to repeat that he is a sincere member of the
Church of England, in which he believes there is more
religion, and consequently less cant, than in any other
church in the world; nor is he going to discuss many other
cants; he shall content himself with saying something about
two - the temperance cant and the unmanly cant. Temperance
canters say that "it is unlawful to drink a glass of ale."
Unmanly canters say that "it is unlawful to use one's fists."
The writer begs leave to tell both these species of canters
that they do not speak words of truth.
It is very lawful to take a cup of ale, or wine, for the
purpose of cheering or invigorating yourself when you are
faint and down-hearted; and likewise to give a cup of ale or
wine to others when they are in a similar condition. The
Holy Scripture sayeth nothing to the contrary, but rather
encourageth people in so doing by the text, "Wine maketh glad
the heart of man." But it is not lawful to intoxicate
yourself with frequent cups of ale or wine, nor to make
others intoxicated, nor does the Holy Scripture say it is.
The Holy Scripture no more says that it is lawful to
intoxicate yourself or others, than it says that it is
unlawful to take a cup of ale or wine yourself, or to give
one to others. Noah is not commended in the Scripture for
making himself drunken on the wine he brewed. Nor is it said
that the Saviour, when he supplied the guests with first-rate
wine at the marriage-feast, told them to make themselves
drunk upon it. He is said to have supplied them with firstrate
wine, but He doubtless left the quantity which each
should drink to each party's reason and discretion. When you
set a good dinner before your guests, you do not expect that
they should gorge themselves with the victuals you set before
them. Wine may be abused, and so may a leg of mutton.
Second. It is lawful for any one to use his fists in his own
defence, or in the defence of others, provided they can't
help themselves; but it is not lawful to use them for
purposes of tyranny or brutality. If you are attacked by a
ruffian, as the elderly individual in Lavengro is in the innyard,
it is quite lawful, if you can, to give him as good a
thrashing as the elderly individual gave the brutal coachman;
and if you see a helpless woman - perhaps your own sister -
set upon by a drunken lord, a drunken coachman, or a drunken
coalheaver, or a brute of any description, either drunk or
sober, it is not only lawful but laudable, to give them, if
you can, a good drubbing; but it is not lawful because you
have a strong pair of fists, and know how to use them, to go
swaggering through a fair, jostling against unoffending
individuals; should you do so, you would be served quite
right if you were to get a drubbing, more particularly if you
were served out by some one less strong, but more skilful
than yourself - even as the coachman was served out by a
pupil of the immortal Broughton - sixty years old, it is
true, but possessed of Broughton's guard and chop. Moses is
not blamed in the Scripture for taking part with the
oppressed, and killing an Egyptian persecutor. We are not
told how Moses killed the Egyptian; but it is quite as
creditable to Moses to suppose that he killed the Egyptian by
giving him a buffet under the left ear, as by stabbing him
with a knife. It is true that the Saviour in the New
Testament tells His disciples to turn the left cheek to be
smitten, after they had received a blow on the right; but He
was speaking to people divinely inspired, or whom He intended
divinely to inspire - people selected by God for a particular
purpose. He likewise tells these people to part with various
articles of raiment when asked for them, and to go atravelling
without money, and take no thought of the morrow.
Are those exhortations carried out by very good people in the
present day? Do Quakers, when smitten on the right cheek,
turn the left to the smiter? When asked for their coat, do
they say, "Friend, take my shirt also?" Has the Dean of
Salisbury no purse? Does the Archbishop of Canterbury go to
an inn, run up a reckoning, and then say to his landlady,
"Mistress, I have no coin?" Assuredly the Dean has a purse,
and a tolerably well-filled one; and, assuredly, the
Archbishop, on departing from an inn, not only settles his
reckoning, but leaves something handsome for the servants,
and does not say that he is forbidden by the gospel to pay
for what he has eaten, or the trouble he has given, as a
certain Spanish cavalier said he was forbidden by the
statutes of chivalry. Now, to take the part of yourself, or
the part of the oppressed, with your fists, is quite as
lawful in the present day as it is to refuse your coat and
shirt also to any vagabond who may ask for them, and not to
refuse to pay for supper, bed, and breakfast, at the
Feathers, or any other inn, after you have had the benefit of
all three.
The conduct of Lavengro with respect to drink may, upon the
whole, serve as a model. He is no drunkard, nor is he fond
of intoxicating other people; yet when the horrors are upon
him he has no objection to go to a public-house and call for
a pint of ale, nor does he shrink from recommending ale to
others when they are faint and downcast. In one instance, it
is true, he does what cannot be exactly justified; he
encourages the Priest in the dingle, in more instances than
one, in drinking more hollands and water than is consistent
with decorum. He has a motive indeed in doing so; a desire
to learn from the knave in his cups the plans and hopes of
the Propaganda of Rome. Such conduct, however, was
inconsistent with strict fair dealing and openness; and the
author advises all those whose consciences never reproach
them for a single unfair or covert act committed by them, to
abuse him heartily for administering hollands and water to
the Priest of Rome. In that instance the hero is certainly
wrong; yet in all other cases with regard to drink, he is
manifestly right. To tell people that they are never to
drink a glass of ale or wine themselves, or to give one to
others, is cant; and the writer has no toleration for cant of
any description. Some cants are not dangerous; but the
writer believes that a more dangerous cant than the
temperance cant, or as it is generally called, teetotalism,
is scarcely to be found. The writer is willing to believe
that it originated with well meaning, though weak people; but
there can be no doubt that it was quickly turned to account
by people who were neither well meaning nor weak. Let the
reader note particularly the purpose to which this cry has
been turned in America; the land, indeed, par excellence, of
humbug and humbug cries. It is there continually in the
mouth of the most violent political party, and is made an
instrument of almost unexampled persecution. The writer
would say more on the temperance cant, both in England and
America, but want of space prevents him. There is one point
on which he cannot avoid making a few brief remarks - that
is, the inconsistent conduct of its apostles in general. The
teetotal apostle says, it is a dreadful thing to be drunk.
So it is, teetotaller; but if so, why do you get drunk? I
get drunk? Yes, unhappy man, why do you get drunk on smoke
and passion? Why are your garments impregnated with the
odour of the Indian weed? Why is there a pipe or a cigar
always in your mouth? Why is your language more dreadful
than that of a Poissarde? Tobacco-smoke is more deleterious
than ale, teetotaller; bile more potent than brandy. You are
fond of telling your hearers what an awful thing it is to die
drunken. So it is, teetotaller. Then take good care that
you do not die with smoke and passion, drunken, and with
temperance language on your lips; that is, abuse and calumny
against all those who differ from you. One word of sense you
have been heard to say, which is, that spirits may be taken
as a medicine. Now you are in a fever of passion,
teetotaller; so, pray take this tumbler of brandy; take it on
the homoeopathic principle, that heat is to be expelled by
heat. You are in a temperance fury, so swallow the contents
of this tumbler, and it will, perhaps, cure you. You look at
the glass wistfully - you occasionally take a glass
medicinally - and it is probable you do. Take one now.
Consider what a dreadful thing it would be to die passion
drunk; to appear before your Maker with intemperate language
on your lips. That's right! You don't seem to wince at the
brandy. That's right! - well done! All down in two pulls.
Now you look like a reasonable being!
If the conduct of Lavengro with retard to drink is open to
little censure, assuredly the use which he makes of his fists
is entitled to none at all. Because he has a pair of
tolerably strong fists, and knows to a certain extent how to
use them, is he a swaggerer or oppressor? To what ill
account does he turn them? Who more quiet, gentle, and
inoffensive than he? He beats off a ruffian who attacks him
in a dingle; has a kind of friendly tuzzle with Mr.
Petulengro, and behold the extent of his fistic exploits.
Ay, but he associates with prize-fighters; and that very
fellow, Petulengro, is a prize-fighter, and has fought for a
stake in a ring. Well, and if he had not associated with
prize-fighters, how could he have used his fists? Oh,
anybody can use his fists in his own defence, without being
taught by prize-fighters. Can they? Then why does not the
Italian, or Spaniard, or Affghan use his fists when insulted
or outraged, instead of having recourse to the weapons which
he has recourse to? Nobody can use his fists without being
taught the use of them by those who have themselves been
taught, no more than any one can "whiffle" without being
taught by a master of the art. Now let any man of the
present day try to whiffle. Would not any one who wished to
whiffle have to go to a master of the art? Assuredly! but
where would he find one at the present day? The last of the
whifflers hanged himself about a fortnight ago on a bell-rope
in a church steeple of "the old town," from pure grief that
there was no further demand for the exhibition of his art,
there being no demand for whiffling since the discontinuation
of Guildhall banquets. Whiffling is lost. The old chap left
his sword behind him; let any one take up the old chap's
sword and try to whiffle. Now much the same hand as he would
make who should take up the whiffler's sword and try to
whiffle, would he who should try to use his fists who had
never had the advantage of a master. Let no one think that
men use their fists naturally in their own disputes - men
have naturally recourse to any other thing to defend
themselves or to offend others; they fly to the stick, to the
stone, to the murderous and cowardly knife, or to abuse as
cowardly as the knife, and occasionally more murderous. Now
which is best when you hate a person, or have a pique against
a person, to clench your fist and say "Come on," or to have
recourse to the stone, the knife, - or murderous calumny?
The use of the fist is almost lost in England. Yet are the
people better than they were when they knew how to use their
fists? The writer believes not. A fisty combat is at
present a great rarity, but the use of the knife, the noose,
and of poison, to say nothing of calumny, are of more
frequent occurrence in England than perhaps in any country in
Europe. Is polite taste better than when it could bear the
details of a fight? The writer believes not. Two men cannot
meet in a ring to settle a dispute in a manly manner without
some trumpery local newspaper letting loose a volley of abuse
against "the disgraceful exhibition," in which abuse it is
sure to be sanctioned by its dainty readers; whereas some
murderous horror, the discovery for example of the mangled
remains of a woman in some obscure den, is greedily seized
hold of by the moral journal, and dressed up for its readers,
who luxuriate and gloat upon the ghastly dish. Now, the
writer of Lavengro has no sympathy with those who would
shrink from striking a blow, but would not shrink from the
use of poison or calumny; and his taste has little in common
with that which cannot tolerate the hardy details of a prizefight,
but which luxuriates on descriptions of the murder
dens of modern England. But prize-fighters and pugilists are
blackguards, a reviewer has said; and blackguards they would
be provided they employed their skill and their prowess for
purposes of brutality and oppression; but prize-fighters and
pugilists are seldom friends to brutality and oppression; and
which is the blackguard, the writer would ask, he who uses
his fists to take his own part, or instructs others to use
theirs for the same purpose, or the being who from envy and
malice, or at the bidding of a malicious scoundrel,
endeavours by calumny, falsehood, and misrepresentation to
impede the efforts of lonely and unprotected genius?
One word more about the race, all but extinct, of the people
opprobriously called prize-fighters. Some of them have been
as noble, kindly men as the world ever produced. Can the
rolls of the English aristocracy exhibit names belonging to
more noble, more heroic men than those who were called
respectively Pearce, Cribb, and Spring? Did ever one of the
English aristocracy contract the seeds of fatal consumption
by rushing up the stairs of a burning edifice, even to the
topmost garret, and rescuing a woman from seemingly
inevitable destruction? The writer says no. A woman was
rescued from the top of a burning house; but the man who
rescued her was no aristocrat; it was Pearce, not Percy, who
ran up the burning stairs. Did ever one of those glittering
ones save a fainting female from the libidinous rage of six
ruffians? The writer believes not. A woman was rescued from
the libidinous fury of six monsters on - Down; but the man
who rescued her was no aristocrat; it was Pearce not Paulet,
who rescued the woman, and thrashed my lord's six gamekeepers
- Pearce, whose equal never was, and probably never will be,
found in sturdy combat. Are there any of the aristocracy of
whom it can be said that they never did a cowardly, cruel, or
mean action, and that they invariably took the part of the
unfortunate and weak against cruelty and oppression? As much
can be said of Cribb, of Spring, and the other; but where is
the aristocrat of whom as much can be said? Wellington?
Wellington indeed! a skilful general, and a good man of
valour, it is true, but with that cant word of "duty"
continually on his lips, did he rescue Ney from his butchers?
Did he lend a helping hand to Warner?
In conclusion, the writer would advise those of his countryfolks
who read his book to have nothing to do with the two
kinds of canting nonsense described above, but in their
progress through life to enjoy as well as they can, but
always with moderation, the good things of this world, to put
confidence in God, to be as independent as possible, and to
take their own parts. If they are low-spirited, let them not
make themselves foolish by putting on sackcloth, drinking
water, or chewing ashes, but let them take wholesome
exercise, and eat the most generous food they can get, taking
up and reading occasionally, not the lives of Ignatius Loyola
and Francis Spira, but something more agreeable; for example,
the life and adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell, the deaf and
dumb gentleman; the travels of Captain Falconer in America,
and the journal of John Randall, who went to Virginia and
married an Indian wife; not forgetting, amidst their eating
and drinking, their walks over heaths, and by the sea-side,
and their agreeable literature, to be charitable to the poor,
to read the Psalms and to go to church twice on a Sunday. In
their dealings with people, to be courteous to everybody, as
Lavengro was, but always independent like him; and if people
meddle with them, to give them as good as they bring, even as
he and Isopel Berners were in the habit of doing; and it will
be as well for him to observe that he by no means advises
women to be too womanly, but bearing the conduct of Isopel
Berners in mind, to take their own parts, and if anybody
strikes them, to strike again.
Beating of women by the lords of the creation has become very
prevalent in England since pugilism has been discountenanced.
Now the writer strongly advises any woman who is struck by a
ruffian to strike him again; or if she cannot clench her
fists, and he advises all women in these singular times to
learn to clench their fists, to go at him with tooth and
nail, and not to be afraid of the result, for any fellow who
is dastard enough to strike a woman, would allow himself to
be beaten by a woman, were she to make at him in selfdefence,
even if, instead of possessing the stately height
and athletic proportions of the aforesaid Isopel, she were as
diminutive in stature, and had a hand as delicate, and foot
as small, as a certain royal lady, who was some time ago
assaulted by a fellow upwards of six feet high, whom the
writer has no doubt she could have beaten had she thought
proper to go at him. Such is the deliberate advice of the
author to his countrymen and women - advice in which he
believes there is nothing unscriptural or repugnant to common
The writer is perfectly well aware that, by the plain
language which he has used in speaking of the various kinds
of nonsense prevalent in England, he shall make himself a
multitude of enemies; but he is not going to conceal the
truth or to tamper with nonsense, from the fear of provoking
hostility. He has a duty to perform and he will perform it
resolutely; he is the person who carried the Bible to Spain;
and as resolutely as he spoke in Spain against the
superstitions of Spain, will he speak in England against the
nonsense of his own native land. He is not one of those who,
before they sit down to write a book, say to themselves, what
cry shall we take up? what principles shall we advocate? what
principles shall we abuse? before we put pen to paper we must
find out what cry is the loudest, what principle has the most
advocates, otherwise, after having written our book, we may
find ourselves on the weaker side.
A sailor of the "Bounty," waked from his sleep by the noise
of the mutiny, lay still in his hammock for some time, quite
undecided whether to take part with the captain or to join
the mutineers. "I must mind what I do," said he to himself,
"lest, in the end, I find myself on the weaker side;"
finally, on hearing that the mutineers were successful, he
went on deck, and seeing Bligh pinioned to the mast, he put
his fist to his nose, and otherwise insulted him. Now, there
are many writers of the present day whose conduct is very
similar to that of the sailor. They lie listening in their
corners till they have ascertained which principle has most
advocates; then, presently, they make their appearance on the
deck of the world with their book; if truth has been
victorious, then has truth the hurrah! but if truth is
pinioned against the mast, then is their fist thrust against
the nose of truth, and their gibe and their insult spirted in
her face. The strongest party had the sailor, and the
strongest party has almost invariably the writer of the
present day.
A CERTAIN set of individuals calling themselves critics have
attacked Lavengro with much virulence and malice. If what
they call criticism had been founded on truth, the author
would have had nothing to say. The book contains plenty of
blemishes, some of them, by the bye, wilful ones, as the
writer will presently show; not one of these, however, has
been detected and pointed out; but the best passages in the
book, indeed whatever was calculated to make the book
valuable, have been assailed with abuse and
misrepresentation. The duty of the true critic is to play
the part of a leech, and not of a viper. Upon true and upon
malignant criticism there is an excellent fable by the
Spaniard Iriarte. The viper says to the leech, "Why do
people invite your bite, and flee from mine?" "Because,"
says the leech, "people receive health from my bite, and
poison from yours." "There is as much difference," says the
clever Spaniard, "between true and malignant criticism, as
between poison and medicine." Certainly a great many
meritorious writers have allowed themselves to be poisoned by
malignant criticism; the writer, however, is not one of those
who allow themselves to be poisoned by pseudo-critics; no!
no! he will rather hold them up by their tails, and show the
creatures wriggling, blood and foam streaming from their
broken jaws. First of all, however, he will notice one of
their objections. "The book isn't true," say they. Now one
of the principal reasons with those that have attacked
Lavengro for their abuse of it is, that it is particularly
true in one instance, namely, that it exposes their own
nonsense, their love of humbug, their slavishness, their
dressings, their goings out, their scraping and bowing to
great people; it is the showing up of "gentility-nonsense" in
Lavengro that has been one principal reason for raising the
above cry; for in Lavengro is denounced the besetting folly
of the English people, a folly which those who call
themselves guardians of the public taste are far from being
above. "We can't abide anything that isn't true!" they
exclaim. Can't they? Then why are they so enraptured with
any fiction that is adapted to purposes of humbug, which
tends to make them satisfied with their own proceedings, with
their own nonsense, which does not tell them to reform, to
become more alive to their own failings, and less sensitive
about the tyrannical goings on of the masters, and the
degraded condition, the sufferings, and the trials of the
serfs in the star Jupiter? Had Lavengro, instead of being
the work of an independent mind, been written in order to
further any of the thousand and one cants, and species of
nonsense prevalent in England, the author would have heard
much less about its not being true, both from public
detractors and private censurers.
"But Lavengro pretends to be an autobiography," say the
critics; and here the writer begs leave to observe, that it
would be well for people who profess to have a regard for
truth, not to exhibit in every assertion which they make a
most profligate disregard of it; this assertion of theirs is
a falsehood, and they know it to be a falsehood. In the
preface Lavengro is stated to be a dream; and the writer
takes this opportunity of stating that he never said it was
an autobiography; never authorized any person to say that it
was one; and that he has in innumerable instances declared in
public and private, both before and after the work was
published, that it was not what is generally termed an
autobiography: but a set of people who pretend to write
criticisms on books, hating the author for various reasons, -
amongst others, because, having the proper pride of a
gentleman and a scholar, he did not, in the year '43, choose
to permit himself to be exhibited and made a zany of in
London, and especially because he will neither associate
with, nor curry favour with, them who are neither gentlemen
nor scholars, - attack his book with abuse and calumny. He
is, perhaps, condescending too much when he takes any notice
of such people; as, however, the English public is
wonderfully led by cries and shouts, and generally ready to
take part against any person who is either unwilling or
unable to defend himself, he deems it advisable not to be
altogether quiet with those who assail him. The best way to
deal with vipers is to tear out their teeth; and the best way
to deal with pseudo-critics is to deprive them of their
poison-bag, which is easily done by exposing their ignorance.
The writer knew perfectly well the description of people with
whom he would have to do, he therefore very quietly prepared
a stratagem, by means of which he could at any time exhibit
them, powerless and helpless, in his hand. Critics, when
they review books, ought to have a competent knowledge of the
subjects which those books discuss.
Lavengro is a philological book, a poem if you choose to call
it so. Now, what a fine triumph it would have been for those
who wished to vilify the book and its author, provided they
could have detected the latter tripping in his philology -
they might have instantly said that he was an ignorant
pretender to philology - they laughed at the idea of his
taking up a viper by its tail, a trick which hundreds of
country urchins do every September, but they were silent
about the really wonderful part of the book, the philological
matter - they thought philology was his stronghold, and that
it would be useless to attack him there; they of course would
give him no credit as a philologist, for anything like fair
treatment towards him was not to be expected at their hands,
but they were afraid to attack his philology - yet that was
the point, and the only point in which they might have
attacked him successfully; he was vulnerable there. How was
this? Why, in order to have an opportunity of holding up
pseudo-critics by the tails, he wilfully spelt various
foreign words wrong - Welsh words, and even Italian words -
did they detect these misspellings? not one of them, even as
he knew they would not, and he now taunts them with
ignorance; and the power of taunting them with ignorance is
the punishment which he designed for them - a power which
they might but for their ignorance have used against him.
The writer besides knowing something of Italian and Welsh,
knows a little of Armenian language and literature; but who
knowing anything of the Armenian language, unless he had an
end in view, would say, that the word sea in Armenian is
anything like the word tide in English? The word for sea in
Armenian is dzow, a word connected with the Tebetian word for
water, and the Chinese shuy, and the Turkish su, signifying
the same thing; but where is the resemblance between dzow and
tide? Again, the word for bread in ancient Armenian is hats;
yet the Armenian on London Bridge is made to say zhats, which
is not the nominative of the Armenian noun for bread, but the
accusative: now, critics, ravening against a man because he
is a gentleman and a scholar, and has not only the power but
also the courage to write original works, why did you not
discover that weak point? Why, because you were ignorant, so
here ye are held up! Moreover, who with a name commencing
with Z, ever wrote fables in Armenian? There are two writers
of fables in Armenian - Varthan and Koscht, and illustrious
writers they are, one in the simple, and the other in the
ornate style of Armenian composition, but neither of their
names begins with a Z. Oh, what a precious opportunity ye
lost, ye ravening crew, of convicting the poor, half-starved,
friendless boy of the book, of ignorance or
misrepresentation, by asking who with a name beginning with Z
ever wrote fables in Armenian; but ye couldn't help
yourselves, ye are duncie. We duncie! Ay, duncie. So here
ye are held up by the tails, blood and foam streaming from
your jaws.
The writer wishes to ask here, what do you think of all this,
Messieurs les Critiques? Were ye ever served so before? But
don't you richly deserve it? Haven't you been for years past
bullying and insulting everybody whom you deemed weak, and
currying favour with everybody whom you thought strong? "We
approve of this. We disapprove of that. Oh, this will never
do. These are fine lines!" The lines perhaps some horrid
sycophantic rubbish addressed to Wellington, or Lord So-andso.
To have your ignorance thus exposed, to be shown up in
this manner, and by whom? A gypsy! Ay, a gypsy was the very
right person to do it. But is it not galling, after all?
"Ah, but WE don't understand Armenian, it cannot be expected
that WE should understand Armenian, or Welsh, or - Hey,
what's this? The mighty WE not understand Armenian or Welsh,
or - Then why does the mighty WE pretend to review a book
like Lavengro? From the arrogance with which it continually
delivers itself, one would think that the mighty WE is
omniscient; that it understands every language; is versed in
every literature; yet the mighty WE does not even know the
word for bread in Armenian. It knows bread well enough by
name in England, and frequently bread in England only by its
name, but the truth is, that the mighty WE, with all its
pretension, is in general a very sorry creature, who, instead
of saying nous disons, should rather say nous dis: Porny in
his "Guerre des Dieux," very profanely makes the three in one
say, Je faisons; now, Lavengro, who is anything but profane,
would suggest that critics, especially magazine and Sunday
newspaper critics, should commence with nous dis, as the
first word would be significant of the conceit and assumption
of the critic, and the second of the extent of the critic's
information. The WE says its say, but when fawning
sycophancy or vulgar abuse are taken from that say, what
remains? Why a blank, a void like Ginnungagap.
As the writer, of his own accord, has exposed some of the
blemishes of his book - a task, which a competent critic
ought to have done - he will now point out two or three of
its merits, which any critic, not altogether blinded with
ignorance might have done, or not replete with gall and envy
would have been glad to do. The book has the merit of
communicating a fact connected with physiology, which in all
the pages of the multitude of books was never previously
mentioned - the mysterious practice of touching objects to
baffle the evil chance. The miserable detractor will, of
course, instantly begin to rave about such a habit being
common: well and good; but was it ever before described in
print, or all connected with it dissected? He may then
vociferate something about Johnson having touched:- the
writer cares not whether Johnson, who, by the bye, during the
last twenty or thirty years, owing to people having become
ultra Tory mad from reading Scott's novels and the "Quarterly
Review," has been a mighty favourite, especially with some
who were in the habit of calling him a half crazy old fool -
touched, or whether he did or not; but he asks where did
Johnson ever describe the feelings which induced him to
perform the magic touch, even supposing that he did perform
it? Again, the history gives an account of a certain book
called the "Sleeping Bard," the most remarkable prose work of
the most difficult language but one, of modern Europe, - a
book, for a notice of which, he believes, one might turn over
in vain the pages of any review printed in England, or,
indeed, elsewhere. - So here are two facts, one literary and
the other physiological, for which any candid critic was
bound to thank the author, even as in Romany Rye there is a
fact connected with Iro Norman Myth, for the disclosing of
which, any person who pretends to have a regard for
literature is bound to thank him, namely, that the mysterious
Finn or Fingal of "Ossian's Poems" is one and the same person
as the Sigurd Fofnisbane of the Edda and the Wilkina, and the
Siegfried Horn of the Lay of the Niebelungs.
The writer might here conclude, and, he believes, most
triumphantly; as, however, he is in the cue for writing,
which he seldom is, he will for his own gratification, and
for the sake of others, dropping metaphors about vipers and
serpents, show up in particular two or three sets or cliques
of people, who, he is happy to say, have been particularly
virulent against him and his work, for nothing indeed could
have given him greater mortification than their praise.
In the first place, he wishes to dispose of certain
individuals who call themselves men of wit and fashion -
about town - who he is told have abused his book "vaustly" -
their own word. These people paint their cheeks, wear white
kid gloves, and dabble in literature, or what they conceive
to be literature. For abuse from such people, the writer was
prepared. Does any one imagine that the writer was not well
aware, before he published his book, that, whenever he gave
it to the world, he should be attacked by every literary
coxcomb in England who had influence enough to procure the
insertion of a scurrilous article in a magazine or newspaper!
He has been in Spain, and has seen how invariably the mule
attacks the horse; now why does the mule attack the horse?
Why, because the latter carries about with him that which the
envious hermaphrodite does not possess.
They consider, forsooth, that his book is low - but he is not
going to waste words about them - one or two of whom, he is
told, have written very duncie books about Spain, and are
highly enraged with him, because certain books which he wrote
about Spain were not considered duncie. No, he is not going
to waste words upon them, for verily he dislikes their
company, and so he'll pass them by, and proceed to others.
The Scotch Charlie o'er the water people have been very loud
in the abuse of Lavengro - this again might be expected; the
sarcasms of the Priest about the Charlie o'er the water
nonsense of course stung them. Oh! it is one of the claims
which Lavengro has to respect, that it is the first, if not
the only work, in which that nonsense is, to a certain
extent, exposed. Two or three of their remarks on passages
of Lavengro, he will reproduce and laugh at. Of course your
Charlie o'er the water people are genteel exceedingly, and
cannot abide anything low. Gypsyism they think is
particularly low, and the use of gypsy words in literature
beneath its gentility; so they object to gypsy words being
used in Lavengro where gypsies are introduced speaking -
"What is Romany forsooth?" say they. Very good! And what is
Scotch? has not the public been nauseated with Scotch for the
last thirty years? "Ay, but Scotch is not" - the writer
believes he knows much better than the Scotch what Scotch is
and what it is not; he has told them before what it is, a
very sorry jargon. He will now tell them what it is not - a
sister or an immediate daughter of the Sanscrit, which Romany
is. "Ay, but the Scotch are" - foxes, foxes, nothing else
than foxes, even like the gypsies - the difference between
the gypsy and Scotch fox being that the first is wild, with a
mighty brush, the other a sneak with a gilt collar and
without a tail.
A Charlie o'er the water person attempts to be witty, because
the writer has said that perhaps a certain old Edinburgh
High-School porter, of the name of Boee, was perhaps of the
same blood as a certain Bui, a Northern Kemp who
distinguished himself at the battle of Horinger Bay. A
pretty matter, forsooth, to excite the ridicule of a
Scotchman! Why, is there a beggar or trumpery fellow in
Scotland, who does not pretend to be somebody, or related to
somebody? Is not every Scotchman descended from some king,
kemp, or cow-stealer of old, by his own account at least?
Why, the writer would even go so far as to bet a trifle that
the poor creature, who ridicules Boee's supposed ancestry,
has one of his own, at least as grand and as apocryphal as
old Boee's of the High School.
The same Charlie o'er the water person is mightily indignant
that Lavengro should have spoken disrespectfully of William
Wallace; Lavengro, when he speaks of that personage, being a
child of about ten years old, and repeating merely what he
had heard. All the Scotch, by the bye, for a great many
years past, have been great admirers of William Wallace,
particularly the Charlie o'er the water people, who in their
nonsense-verses about Charlie generally contrive to bring in
the name of William, Willie, or Wullie Wallace. The writer
begs leave to say that he by no means wishes to bear hard
against William Wallace, but he cannot help asking why, if
William, Willie, or Wullie Wallace was such a particularly
nice person, did his brother Scots betray him to a certain
renowned southern warrior, called Edward Longshanks, who
caused him to be hanged and cut into four in London, and his
quarters to be placed over the gates of certain towns? They
got gold, it is true, and titles, very nice things, no doubt;
but, surely, the life of a patriot is better than all the
gold and titles in the world - at least Lavengro thinks so -
but Lavengro has lived more with gypsies than Scotchmen, and
gypsies do not betray their brothers. It would be some time
before a gypsy would hand over his brother to the harum-beck,
even supposing you would not only make him a king, but a
justice of the peace, and not only give him the world, but
the best farm on the Holkham estate; but gypsies are wild
foxes, and there is certainly a wonderful difference between
the way of thinking of the wild fox who retains his brush,
and that of the scurvy kennel creature who has lost his tail.
Ah! but thousands of Scotch, and particularly the Charlie
o'er the water people, will say, "We didn't sell Willie
Wallace, it was our forbears who sold Willie Wallace - If
Edward Longshanks had asked us to sell Wullie Wallace, we
would soon have shown him that - " Lord better ye, ye poor
trumpery set of creatures, ye would not have acted a bit
better than your forefathers; remember how ye have ever
treated the few amongst ye who, though born in the kennel,
have shown something of the spirit of the wood. Many of ye
are still alive who delivered over men, quite as honest and
patriotic as William Wallace, into the hands of an English
minister, to be chained and transported for merely venturing
to speak and write in the cause of humanity, at the time when
Europe was beginning to fling off the chains imposed by kings
and priests. And it is not so very long since Burns, to whom
ye are now building up obelisks rather higher than he
deserves, was permitted by his countrymen to die in poverty
and misery, because he would not join with them in songs of
adulation to kings and the trumpery great. So say not that
ye would have acted with respect to William Wallace one whit
better than your fathers - and you in particular, ye children
of Charlie, whom do ye write nonsense-verses about? A family
of dastard despots, who did their best, during a century and
more, to tread out the few sparks of independent feeling
still glowing in Scotland - but enough has been said about
Amongst those who have been prodigal in abuse and defamation
of Lavengro, have been your modern Radicals, and particularly
a set of people who filled the country with noise against the
King and Queen, Wellington, and the Tories, in '32. About
these people the writer will presently have occasion to say a
good deal, and also of real Radicals. As, however, it may be
supposed that he is one of those who delight to play the
sycophant to kings and queens, to curry favour with Tories,
and to bepraise Wellington, he begs leave to state that such
is not the case.
About kings and queens he has nothing to say; about Tories,
simply that he believes them to be a bad set; about
Wellington, however, it will be necessary for him to say a
good deal, of mixed import, as he will subsequently
frequently have occasion to mention him in connection with
what he has to say about pseudo-Radicals.
ABOUT Wellington, then, he says, that he believes him at the
present day to be infinitely overrated. But there certainly
was a time when he was shamefully underrated. Now what time
was that? Why the time of pseudo-Radicalism, par excellence,
from '20 to '32. Oh, the abuse that was heaped on Wellington
by those who traded in Radical cant - your newspaper editors
and review writers! and how he was sneered at then by your
Whigs, and how faintly supported he was by your Tories, who
were half ashamed of him; for your Tories, though capital
fellows as followers, when you want nobody to back you, are
the faintest creatures in the world when you cry in your
agony, "Come and help me!" Oh, assuredly Wellington was
infamously used at that time, especially by your traders in
Radicalism, who howled at and hooted him; said he had every
vice - was no general - was beaten at Waterloo - was a
poltroon - moreover a poor illiterate creature, who could
scarcely read or write; nay, a principal Radical paper said
boldly he could not read, and devised an ingenious plan for
teaching Wellington how to read. Now this was too bad; and
the writer, being a lover of justice, frequently spoke up for
Wellington, saying, that as for vice, he was not worse than
his neighbours; that he was brave; that he won the fight at
Waterloo, from a half-dead man, it is true, but that he did
win it. Also, that he believed he had read "Rules for the
Manual and Platoon Exercises" to some purpose; moreover, that
he was sure he could write, for that he the writer had once
written to Wellington, and had received an answer from him;
nay, the writer once went so far as to strike a blow for
Wellington; for the last time he used his fists was upon a
Radical sub-editor, who was mobbing Wellington in the street,
from behind a rank of grimy fellows; but though the writer
spoke up for Wellington to a certain extent, when he was
shamefully underrated, and once struck a blow for him when he
was about being hustled, he is not going to join in the
loathsome sycophantic nonsense which it has been the fashion
to use with respect to Wellington these last twenty years.
Now what have those years been to England! Why the years of
ultra-gentility, everybody in England having gone gentility
mad during the last twenty years, and no people more so than
your pseudo-Radicals. Wellington was turned out, and your
Whigs and Radicals got in, and then commenced the period of
ultra-gentility in England. The Whigs and Radicals only
hated Wellington as long as the patronage of the country was
in his hands, none of which they were tolerably sure he would
bestow on them; but no sooner did they get it into their own,
than they forthwith became admirers of Wellington. And why?
Because he was a duke, petted at Windsor and by foreign
princes, and a very genteel personage. Formerly many of your
Whigs and Radicals had scarcely a decent coat on their backs;
but now the plunder of the country was at their disposal, and
they had as good a chance of being genteel as any people. So
they were willing to worship Wellington because he was very
genteel, and could not keep the plunder of the country out of
their hands. And Wellington has been worshipped, and
prettily so, during the last fifteen or twenty years. He is
now a noble fine-hearted creature; the greatest general the
world ever produced; the bravest of men; and - and - mercy
upon us! the greatest of military writers! Now the present
writer will not join in such sycophancy. As he was not
afraid to take the part of Wellington when he was scurvily
used by all parties, and when it was dangerous to take his
part, so he is not afraid to speak the naked truth about
Wellington in these days, when it is dangerous to say
anything about him but what is sycophantically laudatory. He
said in '32, that as to vice, Wellington was not worse than
his neighbours; but he is not going to say, in '54, that
Wellington was a noble-hearted fellow; for he believes that a
more cold-hearted individual never existed. His conduct to
Warner, the poor Vaudois, and Marshal Ney, showed that. He
said, in '32, that he was a good general and a brave man; but
he is not going, in '54, to say that he was the best general,
or the bravest man the world ever saw. England has produced
a better general - France two or three - both countries many
braver men. The son of the Norfolk clergyman was a brave
man; Marshal Ney was a braver man. Oh, that battle of
Copenhagen! Oh, that covering the retreat of the Grand Army!
And though he said in '32 that he could write, he is not
going to say in '54 that he is the best of all military
writers. On the contrary, he does not hesitate to say that
any Commentary of Julius Caesar, or any chapter in Justinus,
more especially the one about the Parthians, is worth the ten
volumes of Wellington's Despatches; though he has no doubt
that, by saying so, he shall especially rouse the indignation
of a certain newspaper, at present one of the most genteel
journals imaginable - with a slight tendency to Liberalism,
it is true, but perfectly genteel - which is nevertheless the
very one which, in '32, swore bodily that Wellington could
neither read nor write, and devised an ingenious plan for
teaching him how to read.
Now, after the above statement, no one will venture to say,
if the writer should be disposed to bear hard upon Radicals,
that he would be influenced by a desire to pay court to
princes, or to curry favour with Tories, or from being a
blind admirer of the Duke of Wellington; but the writer is
not going to declaim against Radicals, that is, real
Republicans, or their principles; upon the whole, he is
something of an admirer of both. The writer has always had
as much admiration for everything that is real and honest as
he has had contempt for the opposite. Now real Republicanism
is certainly a very fine thing, a much finer thing than
Toryism, a system of common robbery, which is nevertheless
far better than Whiggism (7) - a compound of petty larceny,
popular instruction, and receiving of stolen goods. Yes,
real Republicanism is certainly a very fine thing, and your
real Radicals and Republicans are certainly very fine
fellows, or rather were fine fellows, for the Lord only knows
where to find them at the present day - the writer does not.
If he did, he would at any time go five miles to invite one
of them to dinner, even supposing that he had to go to a
workhouse in order to find the person he wished to invite.
Amongst the real Radicals of England, those who flourished
from the year '16 to '20, there were certainly extraordinary
characters, men partially insane, perhaps, but honest and
brave - they did not make a market of the principles which
they professed, and never intended to do so; they believed in
them, and were willing to risk their lives in endeavouring to
carry them out. The writer wishes to speak in particular of
two of these men, both of whom perished on the scaffold -
their names were Thistlewood and Ings. Thistlewood, the best
known of them, was a brave soldier, and had served with
distinction as an officer in the French service; he was one
of the excellent swordsmen of Europe; had fought several
duels in France, where it is no child's play to fight a duel;
but had never unsheathed his sword for single combat, but in
defence of the feeble and insulted - he was kind and openhearted,
but of too great simplicity; he had once ten
thousand pounds left him, all of which he lent to a friend,
who disappeared and never returned a penny. Ings was an
uneducated man, of very low stature, but amazing strength and
resolution; he was a kind husband and father, and though a
humble butcher, the name he bore was one of the royal names
of the heathen Anglo-Saxons. These two men, along with five
others, were executed, and their heads hacked off, for
levying war against George the Fourth; the whole seven dying
in a manner which extorted cheers from the populace; the most
of then uttering philosophical or patriotic sayings.
Thistlewood, who was, perhaps, the most calm and collected of
all, just before he was turned off, said, "We are now going
to discover the great secret." Ings, the moment before he
was choked, was singing "Scots wha ha' wi' Wallace bled."
Now there was no humbug about those men, nor about many more
of the same time and of the same principles. They might be
deluded about Republicanism, as Algernon Sidney was, and as
Brutus was, but they were as honest and brave as either
Brutus or Sidney; and as willing to die for their principles.
But the Radicals who succeeded them were beings of a very
different description; they jobbed and traded in
Republicanism, and either parted with it, or at the present
day are eager to part with it for a consideration. In order
to get the Whigs into power, and themselves places, they
brought the country by their inflammatory language to the
verge of a revolution, and were the cause that many perished
on the scaffold; by their incendiary harangues and newspaper
articles they caused the Bristol conflagration, for which six
poor creatures were executed; they encouraged the mob to
pillage, pull down and burn, and then rushing into garrets
looked on. Thistlewood tells the mob the Tower is a second
Bastile; let it be pulled down. A mob tries to pull down the
Tower; but Thistlewood is at the head of that mob; he is not
peeping from a garret on Tower Hill like Gulliver at Lisbon.
Thistlewood and Ings say to twenty ragged individuals,
Liverpool and Castlereagh are two satellites of despotism; it
would be highly desirable to put them out of the way. And a
certain number of ragged individuals are surprised in a
stable in Cato Street, making preparations to put Castlereagh
and Liverpool out of the way, and are fired upon with muskets
by Grenadiers, and are hacked at with cutlasses by Bow Street
runners; but the twain who encouraged those ragged
individuals to meet in Cato Street are not far off, they are
not on the other side of the river, in the Borough, for
example, in some garret or obscure cellar. The very first to
confront the Guards and runners are Thistlewood and Ings;
Thistlewood whips his long thin rapier through Smithers'
lungs, and Ings makes a dash at Fitzclarence with his
butcher's knife. Oh, there was something in those fellows!
honesty and courage - but can as much be said for the
inciters of the troubles of '32? No; they egged on poor
ignorant mechanics and rustics, and got them hanged for
pulling down and burning, whilst the highest pitch to which
their own daring ever mounted was to mob Wellington as he
passed in the streets.
Now, these people were humbugs, which Thistlewood and Ings
were not. They raved and foamed against kings, queens,
Wellington, the aristocracy, and what not, till they had got
the Whigs into power, with whom they were in secret alliance,
and with whom they afterwards openly joined in a system of
robbery and corruption, more flagitious than the old Tory
one, because there was more cant about it; for themselves
they got consulships, commissionerships, and in some
instances governments; for their sons clerkships in public
offices; and there you may see those sons with the neverfailing
badge of the low scoundrel-puppy, the gilt chain at
the waistcoat pocket; and there you may hear and see them
using the languishing tones, and employing the airs and
graces which wenches use and employ, who, without being in
the family way, wish to make their keepers believe that they
are in the family way. Assuredly great is the cleverness of
your Radicals of '32, in providing for themselves and their
families. Yet, clever as they are, there is one thing they
cannot do - they get governments for themselves,
commissionerships for their brothers, clerkships for their
sons, but there is one thing beyond their craft - they cannot
get husbands for their daughters, who, too ugly for marriage,
and with their heads filled with the nonsense they have
imbibed from gentility-novels, go over from Socinus to the
Pope, becoming sisters in fusty convents, or having heard a
few sermons in Mr. Platitude's "chapelle," seek for admission
at the establishment of mother S-, who, after employing them
for a time in various menial offices, and making them pluck
off their eyebrows hair by hair, generally dismisses them on
the plea of sluttishness; whereupon they return to their
papas to eat the bread of the country, with the comfortable
prospect of eating it still in the shape of a pension after
their sires are dead. Papa (ex uno disce omnes) living as
quietly as he can; not exactly enviably, it is true, being
now and then seen to cast an uneasy and furtive glance
behind, even as an animal is wont, who has lost by some
mischance a very slight appendage; as quietly however as he
can, and as dignifiedly, a great admirer of every genteel
thing and genteel personage, the Duke in particular, whose
"Despatches," bound in red morocco, you will find on his
table. A disliker of coarse expressions, and extremes of
every kind, with a perfect horror for revolutions and
attempts to revolutionize, exclaiming now and then, as a
shriek escapes from whipped and bleeding Hungary, a groan
from gasping Poland, and a half-stifled curse from downtrodden
but scowling Italy, "Confound the revolutionary
canaille, why can't it be quiet!" in a word, putting one in
mind of the parvenu in the "Walpurgis Nacht." The writer is
no admirer of Gothe, but the idea of that parvenu was
certainly a good one. Yes, putting one in mind of the
individual who says -
"Wir waren wahrlich auch nicht dumm,
Und thaten oft was wir nicht sollten;
Doch jetzo kehrt sich alles um und um,
Und eben da wir's fest erhalten wollten."
We were no fools, as every one discern'd,
And stopp'd at nought our projects in fulfilling;
But now the world seems topsy-turvy turn'd,
To keep it quiet just when we were willing.
Now, this class of individuals entertain a mortal hatred for
Lavengro and its writer, and never lose an opportunity of
vituperating both. It is true that such hatred is by no
means surprising. There is certainly a great deal of
difference between Lavengro and their own sons; the one
thinking of independence and philology, whilst he is clinking
away at kettles, and hammering horse-shoes in dingles; the
others stuck up at public offices with gilt chains at their
waistcoat-pockets, and giving themselves the airs and graces
of females of a certain description. And there certainly is
a great deal of difference between the author of Lavengro and
themselves - he retaining his principles and his brush; they
with scarlet breeches on, it is true, but without their
Republicanism, and their tails. Oh, the writer can well
afford to be vituperated by your pseudo-Radicals of '32!
Some time ago the writer was set upon by an old Radical and
his wife; but the matter is too rich not to require a chapter
to itself.
The Old Radical.
"This very dirty man, with his very dirty face,
Would do any dirty act, which would get him a place."
SOME time ago the writer was set upon by an old Radical and
his wife; but before he relates the manner in which they set
upon him, it will be as well to enter upon a few particulars
tending to elucidate their reasons for so doing.
The writer had just entered into his eighteenth year, when he
met at the table of a certain Anglo-Germanist an individual,
apparently somewhat under thirty, of middle stature, a thin
and weaselly figure, a sallow complexion, a certain obliquity
of vision, and a large pair of spectacles. This person, who
had lately come from abroad, and had published a volume of
translations, had attracted some slight notice in the
literary world, and was looked upon as a kind of lion in a
small provincial capital. After dinner he argued a great
deal, spoke vehemently against the church, and uttered the
most desperate Radicalism that was perhaps ever heard,
saying, he hoped that in a short time there would not be a
king or queen in Europe, and inveighing bitterly against the
English aristocracy, and against the Duke of Wellington in
particular, whom he said, if he himself was ever president of
an English republic - an event which he seemed to think by no
means improbable - he would hang for certain infamous acts of
profligacy and bloodshed which he had perpetrated in Spain.
Being informed that the writer was something of a
philologist, to which character the individual in question
laid great pretensions, he came and sat down by him, and
talked about languages and literature. The writer, who was
only a boy, was a little frightened at first, but, not
wishing to appear a child of absolute ignorance, he summoned
what little learning he had, and began to blunder out
something about the Celtic languages and literature, and
asked the Lion who he conceived Finn-Ma-Coul to be? and
whether he did not consider the "Ode to the Fox," by Red Rhys
of Eryry, to be a masterpiece of pleasantry? Receiving no
answer to these questions from the Lion, who, singular
enough, would frequently, when the writer put a question to
him, look across the table, and flatly contradict some one
who was talking to some other person, the writer dropped the
Celtic languages and literature, and asked him whether he did
not think it a funny thing that Temugin, generally called
Genghis Khan, should have married the daughter of Prester
John? (8) The Lion, after giving a side-glance at the writer
through his left spectacle glass, seemed about to reply, but
was unfortunately prevented, being seized with an
irresistible impulse to contradict a respectable doctor of
medicine, who was engaged in conversation with the master of
the house at the upper and farther end of the table, the
writer being a poor ignorant lad, sitting of course at the
bottom. The doctor, who had served in the Peninsula, having
observed that Ferdinand the Seventh was not quite so bad as
had been represented, the Lion vociferated that he was ten
times worse, and that he hoped to see him and the Duke of
Wellington hanged together. The doctor, who, being a
Welshman, was somewhat of a warm temper, growing rather red,
said that at any rate he had been informed that Ferdinand the
Seventh knew sometimes how to behave himself like a gentleman
- this brought on a long dispute, which terminated rather
abruptly. The Lion having observed that the doctor must not
talk about Spanish matters with one who had visited every
part of Spain, the doctor bowed, and said he was right, for
that he believed no people in general possessed such accurate
information about countries as those who had travelled them
as bagmen. On the Lion asking the doctor what he meant, the
Welshman, whose under jaw began to move violently, replied,
that he meant what he said. Here the matter ended, for the
Lion, turning from him, looked at the writer. The writer,
imagining that his own conversation hitherto had been too
trivial and common-place for the Lion to consider worth his
while to take much notice of it, determined to assume a
little higher ground, and after repeating a few verses of the
Koran, and gabbling a little Arabic, asked the Lion what he
considered to be the difference between the Hegira and the
Christian era, adding, that he thought the general
computation was in error by about one year; and being a
particularly modest person, chiefly, he believes, owing to
his having been at school in Ireland, absolutely blushed at
finding that the Lion returned not a word in answer. "What a
wonderful individual I am seated by," thought he, "to whom
Arabic seems a vulgar speech, and a question about the Hegira
not worthy of an answer!" not reflecting that as lions come
from the Sahara, they have quite enough of Arabic at home,
and that the question about the Hegira was rather mal a
propos to one used to prey on the flesh of hadjis. "Now I
only wish he would vouchsafe me a little of his learning,"
thought the boy to himself, and in this wish he was at last
gratified; for the Lion, after asking him whether he was
acquainted at all with the Sclavonian languages, and being
informed that he was not, absolutely dumb-foundered him by a
display of Sclavonian erudition.
Years rolled by - the writer was a good deal about, sometimes
in London, sometimes in the country, sometimes abroad; in
London he occasionally met the man of the spectacles, who was
always very civil to him, and, indeed, cultivated his
acquaintance. The writer thought it rather odd that, after
he himself had become acquainted with the Sclavonian
languages and literature, the man of the spectacles talked
little or nothing about them. In a little time, however, the
matter ceased to cause him the slightest surprise, for he had
discovered a key to the mystery. In the mean time the man of
spectacles was busy enough; he speculated in commerce,
failed, and paid his creditors twenty pennies in the pound;
published translations, of which the public at length became
heartily tired; having, indeed, got an inkling of the manner
in which those translations were got up. He managed,
however, to ride out many a storm, having one trusty sheetanchor
- Radicalism. This he turned to the best advantage -
writing pamphlets and articles in reviews, all in the Radical
interest, and for which he was paid out of the Radical fund;
which articles and pamphlets, when Toryism seemed to reel on
its last legs, exhibited a slight tendency to Whiggism.
Nevertheless, his abhorrence of desertion of principle was so
great in the time of the Duke of Wellington's administration,
that when S- left the Whigs and went over, he told the
writer, who was about that time engaged with him in a
literary undertaking, that the said S- was a fellow with a
character so infamous, that any honest man would rather that
you spit in his face than insult his ears with the mention of
the name of S-.
The literary project having come to nothing, - in which, by
the bye, the writer was to have all the labour, and his
friend all the credit, provided any credit should accrue from
it, - the writer did not see the latter for some years,
during which time considerable political changes took place;
the Tories were driven from, and the Whigs placed in, office,
both events being brought about by the Radicals coalescing
with the Whigs, over whom they possessed great influence for
the services which they had rendered. When the writer next
visited his friend, he found him very much altered; his
opinions were by no means so exalted as they had been - he
was not disposed even to be rancorous against the Duke of
Wellington, saying that there were worse men than he, and
giving him some credit as a general; a hankering after
gentility seeming to pervade the whole family, father and
sons, wife and daughters, all of whom talked about genteel
diversions - gentility novels, and even seemed to look with
favour on High Churchism, having in former years, to all
appearance, been bigoted Dissenters. In a little time the
writer went abroad; as, indeed, did his friend; not, however,
like the writer, at his own expense, but at that of the
country - the Whigs having given him a travelling
appointment, which he held for some years, during which he
received upwards of twelve thousand pounds of the money of
the country, for services which will, perhaps, be found
inscribed on certain tablets, when another Astolfo shall
visit the moon. This appointment, however, he lost on the
Tories resuming power - when the writer found him almost as
Radical and patriotic as ever, just engaged in trying to get
into Parliament, into which he got by the assistance of his
Radical friends, who, in conjunction with the Whigs, were
just getting up a crusade against the Tories, which they
intended should be a conclusive one.
A little time after the publication of "The Bible in Spain,"
the Tories being still in power, this individual, full of the
most disinterested friendship for the author, was
particularly anxious that he should be presented with an
official situation, in a certain region a great many miles
off. "You are the only person for that appointment," said
he; "you understand a great deal about the country, and are
better acquainted with the two languages spoken there than
any one in England. Now I love my country, and have,
moreover, a great regard for you, and as I am in Parliament,
and have frequent opportunities of speaking to the Ministry,
I shall take care to tell them how desirable it would be to
secure your services. It is true they are Tories, but I
think that even Tories would give up their habitual love of
jobbery in a case like yours, and for once show themselves
disposed to be honest men and gentlemen; indeed, I have no
doubt they will, for having so deservedly an infamous
character, they would be glad to get themselves a little
credit, by a presentation which could not possibly be traced
to jobbery or favouritism."
The writer begged his friend to give himself no trouble about
the matter, as he was not desirous of the appointment, being
in tolerably easy circumstances, and willing to take some
rest after a life of labour. All, however, that he could say
was of no use, his friend indignantly observing, that the
matter ought to be taken entirely out of his hands, and the
appointment thrust upon him for the credit of the country.
"But may not many people be far more worthy of the
appointment than myself?" said the writer. "Where?" said the
friendly Radical. "If you don't get it, it will be made a
job of, given to the son of some steward, or, perhaps, to
some quack who has done dirty work; I tell you what, I shall
ask it for you, in spite of you; I shall, indeed!" and his
eyes flashed with friendly and patriotic fervour through the
large pair of spectacles which he wore.
And, in fact, it would appear that the honest and friendly
patriot put his threat into execution. "I have spoken," said
he, "more than once to this and that individual in
Parliament, and everybody seems to think that the appointment
should be given to you. Nay, that you should be forced to
accept it. I intend next to speak to Lord A- " And so he
did, at least it would appear so. On the writer calling upon
him one evening, about a week afterwards, in order to take
leave of him, as the writer was about to take a long journey
for the sake of his health, his friend no sooner saw him than
he started up in a violent fit of agitation, and glancing
about the room, in which there were several people, amongst
others two Whig members of Parliament, said, "I am glad you
are come, I was just speaking about you. This," said he,
addressing the two members, "is so and so, the author of so
and so, the well-known philologist; as I was telling you, I
spoke to Lord A- this day about him, and said that he ought
forthwith to have the head appointment in - and what did the
fellow say? Why, that there was no necessity for such an
appointment at all, and if there were, why - and then he
hummed and ha'd. Yes," said he, looking at the writer, "he
did indeed. What a scandal! what an infamy! But I see how
it will be, it will be a job. The place will be given to
some son of a steward or to some quack, as I said before.
Oh, these Tories! Well, if this does not make one - " Here
he stopped short, crunched his teeth, and looked the image of
Seeing the poor man in this distressed condition, the writer
begged him to be comforted, and not to take the matter so
much to heart; but the indignant Radical took the matter very
much to heart, and refused all comfort whatever, bouncing
about the room, and, whilst his spectacles flashed in the
light of four spermaceti candles, exclaiming, "It will be a
job - a Tory job! I see it all, I see it all, I see it all!"
And a job it proved, and a very pretty job, but no Tory job.
Shortly afterwards the Tories were out, and the Whigs were
in. From that time the writer heard not a word about the
injustice done to the country in not presenting him with the
appointment to -; the Radical, however, was busy enough to
obtain the appointment, not for the writer, but for himself,
and eventually succeeded, partly through Radical influence,
and partly through that of a certain Whig lord, for whom the
Radical had done, on a particular occasion, work of a
particular kind. So, though the place was given to a quack,
and the whole affair a very pretty job, it was one in which
the Tories had certainly no hand.
In the meanwhile, however, the friendly Radical did not drop
the writer. Oh, no! On various occasions he obtained from
the writer all the information about the country in question,
and was particularly anxious to obtain from the writer, and
eventually did obtain, a copy of a work written in the court
language of that country, edited by the writer, a language
exceedingly difficult, which the writer, at the expense of a
considerable portion of his eyesight, had acquired, at least
as far as by the eyesight it could be acquired. What use the
writer's friend made of the knowledge he had gained from him,
and what use he made of the book, the writer can only guess;
but he has little doubt that when the question of sending a
person to - was mooted in a Parliamentary Committee - which
it was at the instigation of the writer's friend - the
Radical on being examined about the country, gave the
information which he had obtained from the writer as his own,
and flashed the book and its singular characters in the eyes
of the Committee; and then of course his Radical friends
would instantly say, "This is the man! there is no one like
him. See what information he possesses; and see that book
written by himself in the court language of Serendib. This
is the only man to send there. What a glory, what a triumph
it would be to Britain, to send out a man so deeply versed in
the mysterious lore of - as our illustrious countryman; a
person who with his knowledge could beat with their own
weapons the wise men of - Is such an opportunity to be lost?
Oh, no! surely not; if it is, it will be an eternal disgrace
to England, and the world will see that Whigs are no better
than Tories."
Let no one think the writer uncharitable in these
suppositions. The writer is only too well acquainted with
the antecedents of the individual, to entertain much doubt
that he would shrink from any such conduct, provided he
thought that his temporal interest would be forwarded by it.
The writer is aware of more than one instance in which he has
passed off the literature of friendless young men for his
own, after making them a slight pecuniary compensation and
deforming what was originally excellent by interpolations of
his own. This was his especial practice with regard to
translation, of which he would fain be esteemed the king.
This Radical literato is slightly acquainted with four or
five of the easier dialects of Europe, on the strength of
which knowledge be would fain pass for a universal linguist,
publishing translations of pieces originally written in
various difficult languages; which translations, however,
were either made by himself from literal renderings done for
him into French or German, or had been made from the
originals into English, by friendless young men, and then
deformed by his alterations.
Well, the Radical got the appointment, and the writer
certainly did not grudge it him. He, of course, was aware
that his friend had behaved in a very base manner towards
him, but he bore him no ill-will, and invariably when he
heard him spoken against, which was frequently the case, took
his part when no other person would; indeed, he could well
afford to bear him no ill-will. He had never sought for the
appointment, nor wished for it, nor, indeed, ever believed
himself to be qualified for it. He was conscious, it is
true, that he was not altogether unacquainted with the
language and literature of the country with which the
appointment was connected. He was likewise aware that he was
not altogether deficient in courage and in propriety of
behaviour. He knew that his appearance was not particularly
against him; his face not being like that of a convicted
pickpocket, nor his gait resembling that of a fox who has
lost his tail; yet he never believed himself adapted for the
appointment, being aware that he had no aptitude for the
doing of dirty work, if called to do it, nor pliancy which
would enable him to submit to scurvy treatment, whether he
did dirty work or not - requisites, at the time of which he
is speaking, indispensable in every British official;
requisites, by the bye, which his friend the Radical
possessed in a high degree; but though he bore no ill-will
towards his friend, his friend bore anything but good-will
towards him; for from the moment that he had obtained the
appointment for himself, his mind was filled with the most
bitter malignity against the writer, and naturally enough;
for no one ever yet behaved in a base manner towards another,
without forthwith conceiving a mortal hatred against him.
You wrong another, know yourself to have acted basely, and
are enraged, not against yourself - for no one hates himself
- but against the innocent cause of your baseness; reasoning
very plausibly, "But for that fellow, I should never have
been base; for had he not existed I could not have been so,
at any rate against him;" and this hatred is all the more
bitter, when you reflect that you have been needlessly base.
Whilst the Tories are in power the writer's friend, of his
own accord, raves against the Tories because they do not give
the writer a certain appointment, and makes, or says he
makes, desperate exertions to make them do so; but no sooner
are the Tories out, with whom he has no influence, and the
Whigs in, with whom he, or rather his party, has influence,
than he gets the place for himself, though, according to his
own expressed opinion - an opinion with which the writer does
not, and never did, concur - the writer was the only person
competent to hold it. Now had he, without saying a word to
the writer, or about the writer with respect to the
employment, got the place for himself when he had an
opportunity, knowing, as he very well knew, himself to be
utterly unqualified for it, the transaction, though a piece
of jobbery, would not have merited the title of a base
transaction; as the matter stands, however, who can avoid
calling the whole affair not only a piece of - come, come,
out with the word - scoundrelism on the part of the writer's
friend, but a most curious piece of uncalled-for
scoundrelism? and who, with any knowledge of fallen human
nature, can wonder at the writer's friend entertaining
towards him a considerable portion of gall and malignity?
This feeling on the part of the writer's friend was
wonderfully increased by the appearance of Lavengro, many
passages of which the Radical in his foreign appointment
applied to himself and family - one or two of his children
having gone over to Popery, the rest become members of Mr.
Platitude's chapel, and the minds of all being filled with
ultra notions of gentility.
The writer, hearing that his old friend had returned to
England, to apply, he believes, for an increase of salary,
and for a title, called upon him, unwillingly, it is true,
for he had no wish to see a person for whom, though he bore
him no ill-will, he could not avoid feeling a considerable
portion of contempt; the truth is, that his sole object in
calling was to endeavour to get back a piece of literary
property which his friend had obtained from him many years
previously, and which, though he had frequently applied for
it, he never could get back. Well, the writer called; he did
not get his property, which, indeed, he had scarcely time to
press for, being almost instantly attacked by his good friend
and his wife - yes, it was then that the author was set upon
by an old Radical and his wife - the wife, who looked the
very image of shame and malignity, did not say much, it is
true, but encouraged her husband in all he said. Both of
their own accord introduced the subject of Lavengro. The
Radical called the writer a grumbler, just as if there had
ever been a greater grumbler than himself until, by the means
above described, he had obtained a place: he said that the
book contained a melancholy view of human nature - just as if
anybody could look in his face without having a melancholy
view of human nature. On the writer quietly observing that
the book contained an exposition of his principles, the
pseudo-Radical replied, that he cared nothing for his
principles - which was probably true, it not being likely
that he would care for another person's principles after
having shown so thorough a disregard for his own. The writer
said that the book, of course, would give offence to humbugs;
the Radical then demanded whether he thought him a humbug? -
the wretched wife was the Radical's protection, even as he
knew she would be; it was on her account that the writer did
not kick his good friend; as it was, he looked at him in the
face and thought to himself, "How is it possible I should
think you a humbug, when only last night I was taking your
part in a company in which everybody called you a humbug?"
The Radical, probably observing something in the writer's eye
which he did not like, became all on a sudden abjectly
submissive, and, professing the highest admiration for the
writer, begged him to visit him in his government; this the
writer promised faithfully to do, and he takes the present
opportunity of performing his promise.
This is one of the pseudo-Radical calumniators of Lavengro
and its author; were the writer on his deathbed he would lay
his hand on his heart and say, that he does not believe that
there is one trait of exaggeration in the portrait which he
has drawn. This is one of the pseudo-Radical calumniators of
Lavengro and its author; and this is one of the genus, who,
after having railed against jobbery for perhaps a quarter of
a century, at present batten on large official salaries which
they do not earn. England is a great country, and her
interests require that she should have many a well-paid
official both at home and abroad; but will England long
continue a great country if the care of her interests, both
at home and abroad, is in many instances intrusted to beings
like him described above, whose only recommendation for an
official appointment was that he was deeply versed in the
secrets of his party and of the Whigs?
Before he concludes, the writer will take the liberty of
saying of Lavengro that it is a book written for the express
purpose of inculcating virtue, love of country, learning,
manly pursuits, and genuine religion, for example, that of
the Church of England, and for awakening a contempt for
nonsense of every kind, and a hatred for priestcraft, more
especially that of Rome.
And in conclusion, with respect to many passages of his book
in which he has expressed himself in terms neither measured
nor mealy, he will beg leave to observe, in the words of a
great poet, who lived a profligate life, it is true, but who
died a sincere penitent - thanks, after God, to good Bishop
Burnet -
"All this with indignation I have hurl'd
At the pretending part of this proud world,
Who, swollen with selfish vanity, devise
False freedoms, formal cheats, and holy lies,
Over their fellow fools to tyrannize."
(1) Tipperary.
(2) An obscene oath.
(3) See "Muses' Library," pp. 86, 87. London, 1738.
(4) Genteel with them seems to be synonymous with Gentile and
Gentoo; if so, the manner in which it has been applied for
ages ceases to surprise, for genteel is heathenish. Ideas of
barbaric pearl and gold, glittering armour, plumes, tortures,
blood-shedding, and lust, should always be connected with it.
Wace, in his grand Norman poem, calls the Baron genteel:-
"La furent li gentil Baron," etc.
And he certainly could not have applied the word better than
to the strong Norman thief, armed cap-a-pie, without one
particle of truth or generosity; for a person to be a pink of
gentility, that is heathenism, should have no such feelings;
and, indeed, the admirers of gentility seldom or never
associate any such feelings with it. It was from the Norman,
the worst of all robbers and miscreants, who built strong
castles, garrisoned them with devils, and tore out poor
wretches' eyes, as the Saxon Chronicle says, that the English
got their detestable word genteel. What could ever have made
the English such admirers of gentility, it would be difficult
to say; for, during three hundred years, they suffered enough
by it. Their genteel Norman landlords were their scourgers,
their torturers, the plunderers of their homes, the
dishonourers of their wives, and the deflourers of their
daughters. Perhaps, after all, fear is at the root of the
English veneration for gentility.
(5) Gentle and gentlemanly may be derived from the same root
as genteel; but nothing can be more distinct from the mere
genteel, than the ideas which enlightened minds associate
with these words. Gentle and gentlemanly mean something kind
and genial; genteel, that which is glittering or gaudy. A
person can be a gentleman in rags, but nobody can be genteel.
(6) The writer has been checked in print by the Scotch with
being a Norfolk man. Surely, surely, these latter times have
not been exactly the ones in which it was expedient for
Scotchmen to check the children of any county in England with
the place of their birth, more especially those who have had
the honour of being born in Norfolk - times in which British
fleets, commanded by Scotchmen, have returned laden with
anything but laurels from foreign shores. It would have been
well for Britain had she had the old Norfolk man to dispatch
to the Baltic or the Black sea, lately, instead of Scotch
(7) As the present work will come out in the midst of a
vehement political contest, people may be led to suppose that
the above was written expressly for the time. The writer
therefore begs to state that it was written in the year 1854.
He cannot help adding that he is neither Whig, Tory, nor
Radical, and cares not a straw what party governs England,
provided it is governed well. But he has no hopes of good
government from the Whigs. It is true that amongst them
there is one very great man, Lord Palmerston, who is indeed
the sword and buckler, the chariots and the horses of the
party; but it is impossible for his lordship to govern well
with such colleagues as he has - colleagues which have been
forced upon him by family influence, and who are continually
pestering him into measures anything but conducive to the
country's honour and interest. If Palmerston would govern
well, he must get rid of them; but from that step, with all
his courage and all his greatness, he will shrink. Yet how
proper and easy a step it would be! He could easily get
better, but scarcely worse, associates. They appear to have
one object in view, and only one - jobbery. It was chiefly
owing to a most flagitious piece of jobbery, which one of his
lordship's principal colleagues sanctioned and promoted, that
his lordship experienced his late parliamentary disasters.
(8) A fact.

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