First published as Punch’s Prize Novelists in Punch (20 nos.), 3 April-9 Oct., 1847. Reprinted in Miscellanies, vol. II, 1856, under the title Novels by Eminent Hands.
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In the Morning of Life the Truthful wooed the Beautiful, and their offspring was Love. Like his Divine parents, He is eternal. He has his Mother’s ravishing smile; his Father’s steadfast eyes. He rises every day, fresh and glorious as the untired Sun-God. He is Eros, the ever young. Dark, dark were this world of ours had either Divinity left it — dark without the day-beams of the Latonian Charioteer, darker yet without the daedal Smile of the God of the Other Bow! Dost know him, reader?
Old is he, Eros, the ever young. He and Time were children together. Chronos shall die, too; but Love is imperishable. Brightest of the Divinities, where hast thou not been sung? Other worships pass away; the idols for whom pyramids were raised lie in the desert crumbling and almost nameless; the Olympians are fled, their fanes no longer rise among the quivering olive-groves of Ilissus, or crown the emerald-islets of the amethyst Aegean! These are gone, but thou remainest. There is still a garland for thy temple, a heifer for thy stone. A heifer? Ah, many a darker sacrifice. Other blood is shed at thy altars, Remorseless One, and the Poet Priest who ministers at thy Shrine draws his auguries from the bleeding hearts of men!
While Love hath no end, Can the Bard ever cease singing? In Kingly and Heroic ages, ’twas of Kings and Heroes that the Poet spake. But in these, our times, the Artisan hath his voice as well as the Monarch. The people To-Day is King, and we chronicle his woes, as They of old did the sacrifice of the princely Iphigenia, or the fate of the crowned Agamemnon.
Is Odysseus less august in his rags than in his purple? Fate, Passion, Mystery, the Victim, the Avenger, the Hate that harms, the Furies that tear, the Love that bleeds, are not these with us Still? are not these still the weapons of the Artist? the colors of his palette? the chords of his lyre? Listen! I tell thee a tale — not of Kings — but of Men — not of Thrones, but of Love, and Grief, and Crime. Listen, and but once more. ’Tis for the last time (probably) these fingers shall sweep the strings.
’Twas noonday in Chepe. High Tide in the mighty River City! — its banks wellnigh overflowing with the myriad-waved Stream of Man! The toppling wains, bearing the produce of a thousand marts; the gilded equipage of the Millionary; the humbler, but yet larger vehicle from the green metropolitan suburbs (the Hanging Gardens of our Babylon), in which every traveller might, for a modest remuneration, take a republican seat; the mercenary caroche, with its private freight; the brisk curricle of the letter-carrier, robed in royal scarlet: these and a thousand others were laboring and pressing onward, and locked and bound and hustling together in the narrow channel of Chepe. The imprecations of the charioteers were terrible. From the noble’s broidered hammer-cloth, or the driving-seat of the common coach, each driver assailed the other with floods of ribald satire. The pavid matron within the one vehicle (speeding to the Bank for her semestrial pittance) shrieked and trembled; the angry Dives hastening to his office (to add another thousand to his heap,) thrust his head over the blazoned panels, and displayed an eloquence of objurgation which his very Menials could not equal; the dauntless street urchins, as they gayly threaded the Labyrinth of Life, enjoyed the perplexities and quarrels of the scene, and exacerbated the already furious combatants by their poignant infantile satire. And the Philosopher, as he regarded the hot strife and struggle of these Candidates in the race for Gold, thought with a sigh of the Truthful and the Beautiful, and walked on, melancholy and serene.
’Twas noon in Chepe. The ware-rooms were thronged. The flaunting windows of the mercers attracted many a purchaser: the glittering panes behind which Birmingham had glazed its simulated silver, induced rustics to pause: although only noon, the savory odors of the Cook Shops tempted the over hungry citizen to the bun of Bath, or to the fragrant potage that mocks the turtle’s flavor — the turtle! O dapibus suprimi grata testudo Jovis! I am an Alderman when I think of thee! Well: it was noon in Chepe.
But were all battling for gain there? Among the many brilliant shops whose casements shone upon Chepe, there stood one a century back (about which period our tale opens) devoted to the sale of Colonial produce. A rudely carved image of a negro, with a fantastic plume and apron of variegated feathers, decorated the lintel. The East and West had sent their contributions to replenish the window.
The poor slave had toiled, died perhaps, to produce yon pyramid of swarthy sugar marked “ONLY 6 1/2d.”— That catty box, on which was the epigraph “STRONG FAMILY CONGO ONLY 3s. 9d,” was from the country of Confutzee — that heap of dark produce bore the legend “TRY OUR REAL NUT”—’Twas Cocoa — and that nut the Cocoa-nut, whose milk has refreshed the traveller and perplexed the natural philosopher. The shop in question was, in a word, a Grocer’s.
In the midst of the shop and its gorgeous contents sat one who, to judge from his appearance (though ’twas a difficult task, as, in sooth, his back was turned), had just reached that happy period of life when the Boy is expanding into the Man. O Youth, Youth! Happy and Beautiful! O fresh and roseate dawn of life; when the dew yet lies on the flowers, ere they have been scorched and withered by Passion’s fiery Sun! Immersed in thought or study, and indifferent to the din around him, sat the boy. A careless guardian was he of the treasures confided to him. The crowd passed in Chepe; he never marked it. The sun shone on Chepe; he only asked that it should illumine the page he read. The knave might filch his treasures; he was heedless of the knave. The customer might enter; but his book was all in all to him.
And indeed a customer WAS there; a little hand was tapping on the counter with a pretty impatience; a pair of arch eyes were gazing at the boy, admiring, perhaps, his manly proportions through the homely and tightened garments he wore.
“Ahem! sir! I say, young man!” the customer exclaimed.
“Ton d’apameibomenos prosephe,” read on the student, his voice choked with emotion. “What language!” he said; “how rich, how noble, how sonorous! prosephe podas —”
The customer burst out into a fit of laughter so shrill and cheery, that the young Student could not but turn round, and blushing, for the first time remarked her. “A pretty grocer’s boy you are,” she cried, “with your applepiebomenos and your French and lingo. Am I to be kept waiting for hever?”
“Pardon, fair Maiden,” said he, with high-bred courtesy: “’twas not French I read, ’twas the Godlike language of the blind old bard. In what can I be serviceable to ye, lady?” and to spring from his desk, to smooth his apron, to stand before her the obedient Shop Boy, the Poet no more, was the work of a moment.
“I might have prigged this box of figs,” the damsel said good-naturedly, “and you’d never have turned round.”
“They came from the country of Hector,” the boy said. “Would you have currants, lady? These once bloomed in the island gardens of the blue Aegean. They are uncommon fine ones, and the figure is low; they’re fourpence-halfpenny a pound. Would ye mayhap make trial of our teas? We do not advertise, as some folks do: but sell as low as any other house.”
“You’re precious young to have all these good things,” the girl exclaimed, not unwilling, seemingly, to prolong the conversation. “If I was you, and stood behind the counter, I should be eating figs the whole day long.”
“Time was,” answered the lad, “and not long since I thought so too. I thought I never should be tired of figs. But my old uncle bade me take my fill, and now in sooth I am aweary of them.”
“I think you gentlemen are always so,” the coquette said.
“Nay, say not so, fair stranger!” the youth replied, his face kindling as he spoke, and his eagle eyes flashing fire. “Figs pall; but oh! the Beautiful never does. Figs rot; but oh! the Truthful is eternal. I was born, lady, to grapple with the Lofty and the Ideal. My soul yearns for the Visionary. I stand behind the counter, it is true; but I ponder here upon the deeds of heroes, and muse over the thoughts of sages. What is grocery for one who has ambition? What sweetness hath Muscovada to him who hath tasted of Poesy? The Ideal, lady, I often think, is the true Real, and the Actual, but a visionary hallucination. But pardon me; with what may I serve thee?”
“I came only for sixpenn’orth of tea-dust,” the girl said, with a faltering voice; “but oh, I should like to hear you speak on for ever!”
Only for sixpenn’orth of tea-dust? Girl, thou camest for other things! Thou lovedst his voice? Siren! what was the witchery of thine own? He deftly made up the packet, and placed it in the little hand. She paid for her small purchase, and with a farewell glance of her lustrous eyes, she left him. She passed slowly through the portal, and in a moment was lost in the crowd. It was noon in Chepe. And George de Barnwell was alone.
We have selected the following episodical chapter in preference to anything relating to the mere story of George Barnwell, with which most readers are familiar.
Up to this passage (extracted from the beginning of Vol. II.) the tale is briefly thus:
The rogue of a Millwood has come back every day to the grocer’s shop in Chepe, wanting some sugar, or some nutmeg, or some figs, half a dozen times in the week.
She and George de Barnwell have vowed to each other an eternal attachment.
This flame acts violently upon George. His bosom swells with ambition. His genius breaks out prodigiously. He talks about the Good, the Beautiful, the Ideal, &c., in and out of all season, and is virtuous and eloquent almost beyond belief — in fact like Devereux, or P. Clifford, or E. Aram, Esquires.
Inspired by Millwood and love, George robs the till, and mingles in the world which he is destined to ornament. He outdoes all the dandies, all the wits, all the scholars, and all the voluptuaries of the age — an indefinite period of time between Queen Anne and George II. — dines with Curll at St. John’s Gate, pinks Colonel Charteris in a duel behind Montague House, is initiated into the intrigues of the Chevalier St. George, whom he entertains at his sumptuous pavilion at Hampstead, and likewise in disguise at the shop in Cheapside.
His uncle, the owner of the shop, a surly curmudgeon with very little taste for the True and Beautiful, has retired from business to the pastoral village in Cambridgeshire from which the noble Barnwells came. George’s cousin Annabel is, of course, consumed with a secret passion for him.
Some trifling inaccuracies may be remarked in the ensuing brilliant little chapter; but it must be remembered that the author wished to present an age at a glance: and the dialogue is quite as fine and correct as that in the “Last of the Barons,” or in “Eugene Aram,” or other works of our author, in which Sentiment and History, or the True and Beautiful, are united.
Those who frequent the dismal and enormous Mansions of Silence which society has raised to Ennui in that Omphalos of town, Pall Mall, and which, because they knock you down with their dulness, are called Clubs no doubt; those who yawn from a bay-window in St. James’s Street, at a half-score of other dandies gaping from another bay-window over the way; those who consult a dreary evening paper for news, or satisfy themselves with the jokes of the miserable Punch by way of wit; the men about town of the present day, in a word, can have but little idea of London some six or eight score years back. Thou pudding-sided old dandy of St. James’s Street, with thy lacquered boots, thy dyed whiskers, and thy suffocating waistband, what art thou to thy brilliant predecessor in the same quarter? The Brougham from which thou descendest at the portal of the “Carlton” or the “Travellers’,” is like everybody else’s; thy black coat has no more plaits, nor buttons, nor fancy in it than thy neighbor’s; thy hat was made on the very block on which Lord Addlepate’s was cast, who has just entered the Club before thee. You and he yawn together out of the same omnibus-box every night; you fancy yourselves men of pleasure; you fancy yourselves men of fashion; you fancy yourselves men of taste; in fancy, in taste, in opinion, in philosophy, the newspaper legislates for you; it is there you get your jokes and your thoughts, and your facts and your wisdom — poor Pall Mall dullards. Stupid slaves of the press, on that ground which you at present occupy, there were men of wit and pleasure and fashion, some five-and-twenty lustres ago.
We are at Button’s — the well-known sign of the “Turk’s Head.” The crowd of periwigged heads at the windows — the swearing chairmen round the steps (the blazoned and coronalled panels of whose vehicles denote the lofty rank of their owners) — the throng of embroidered beaux entering or departing, and rendering the air fragrant with the odors of pulvillio and pomander, proclaim the celebrated resort of London’s Wit and Fashion. It is the corner of Regent Street. Carlton House has not yet been taken down.
A stately gentleman in crimson velvet and gold is sipping chocolate at one of the tables, in earnest converse with a friend whose suit is likewise embroidered, but stained by time, or wine mayhap, or wear. A little deformed gentleman in iron-gray is reading the Morning Chronicle newspaper by the fire, while a divine, with a broad brogue and a shovel hat and cassock, is talking freely with a gentleman, whose star and ribbon, as well as the unmistakable beauty of his Phidian countenance, proclaims him to be a member of Britain’s aristocracy.
Two ragged youths, the one tall, gaunt, clumsy and scrofulous, the other with a wild, careless, beautiful look, evidently indicating Race, are gazing in at the window, not merely at the crowd in the celebrated Club, but at Timothy the waiter, who is removing a plate of that exquisite dish, the muffin (then newly invented), at the desire of some of the revellers within.
“I would, Sam,” said the wild youth to his companion, “that I had some of my mother Macclesfield’s gold, to enable us to eat of those cates and mingle with yon springalds and beaux.”
“To vaunt a knowledge of the stoical philosophy,” said the youth addressed as Sam, “might elicit a smile of incredulity upon the cheek of the parasite of pleasure; but there are moments in life when History fortifies endurance: and past study renders present deprivation more bearable. If our pecuniary resources be exiguous, let our resolution, Dick, supply the deficiencies of Fortune. The muffin we desire today would little benefit us tomorrow. Poor and hungry as we are, are we less happy, Dick, than yon listless voluptuary who banquets on the food which you covet?”
And the two lads turned away up Waterloo Place, and past the “Parthenon” Club-house, and disappeared to take a meal of cow-heel at a neighboring cook’s shop. Their names were Samuel Johnson and Richard Savage.
Meanwhile the conversation at Button’s was fast and brilliant. “By Wood’s thirteens, and the divvle go wid ’em,” cried the Church dignitary in the cassock, “is it in blue and goold ye are this morning, Sir Richard, when you ought to be in seebles?”
“Who’s dead, Dean?” said the nobleman, the dean’s companion.
“Faix, mee Lard Bolingbroke, as sure as mee name’s Jonathan Swift — and I’m not so sure of that neither, for who knows his father’s name? — there’s been a mighty cruel murther committed entirely. A child of Dick Steele’s has been barbarously slain, dthrawn, and quarthered, and it’s Joe Addison yondther has done it. Ye should have killed one of your own, Joe, ye thief of the world.”
“I!” said the amazed and Right Honorable Joseph Addison; “I kill Dick’s child! I was godfather to the last.”
“And promised a cup and never sent it,” Dick ejaculated. Joseph looked grave.
“The child I mean is Sir Roger de Coverley, Knight and Baronet. What made ye kill him, ye savage Mohock? The whole town is in tears about the good knight; all the ladies at Church this afternoon were in mourning; all the booksellers are wild; and Lintot says not a third of the copies of the Spectator are sold since the death of the brave old gentleman.” And the Dean of St. Patrick’s pulled out the Spectator newspaper, containing the well-known passage regarding Sir Roger’s death. “I bought it but now in ‘Wellington Street,’” he said; “the newsboys were howling all down the Strand.”
“What a miracle is Genius — Genius, the Divine and Beautiful,” said a gentleman leaning against the same fireplace with the deformed cavalier in iron-gray, and addressing that individual, who was in fact Mr. Alexander Pope. “What a marvellous gift is this, and royal privilege of Art! To make the Ideal more credible than the Actual: to enchain our hearts, to command our hopes, our regrets, our tears, for a mere brain-born Emanation: to invest with life the Incorporeal, and to glamour the cloudy into substance — these are the lofty privileges of the Poet, if I have read poesy aright; and I am as familiar with the sounds that rang from Homer’s lyre, as with the strains which celebrate the loss of Belinda’s lovely locks”—(Mr. Pope blushed and bowed, highly delighted)—“these, I say, sir, are the privileges of the Poet — the Poietes — the Maker — he moves the world, and asks no lever; if he cannot charm death into life, as Orpheus feigned to do, he can create Beauty out of Nought, and defy Death by rendering Thought Eternal. Ho! Jemmy, another flask of Nantz.”
And the boy — for he who addressed the most brilliant company of wits in Europe was little more — emptied the contents of the brandy-flask into a silver flagon, and quaffed it gayly to the health of the company assembled. ’Twas the third he had taken during the sitting. Presently, and with a graceful salute to the Society, he quitted the coffee-house, and was seen cantering on a magnificent Arab past the National Gallery.
“Who is yon spark in blue and silver? He beats Joe Addison himself, in drinking, and pious Joe is the greatest toper in the three kingdoms,” Dick Steele said, good-naturedly.
“His paper in the Spectator beats thy best, Dick, thou sluggard,” the Right Honorable Mr. Addison exclaimed. “He is the author of that famous No. 996, for which you have all been giving me the credit.”
“The rascal foiled me at capping verses,” Dean Swift said, “and won a tenpenny piece of me, plague take him!”
“He has suggested an emendation in my ‘Homer,’ which proves him a delicate scholar,” Mr. Pope exclaimed.
“He knows more of the French king than any man I have met with; and we must have an eye upon him,” said Lord Bolingbroke, then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and beckoning a suspicious-looking person who was drinking at a side-table, whispered to him something.
Meantime who was he? where was he, this youth who had struck all the wits of London with admiration? His galloping charger had returned to the City; his splendid court-suit was doffed for the citizen’s gabardine and grocer’s humble apron.
George de Barnwell was in Chepe — in Chepe, at the feet of Martha Millwood.
“Quid me mollibus implicas lacertis, my Elinor? Nay,” George added, a faint smile illumining his wan but noble features, “why speak to thee in the accents of the Roman poet, which thou comprehendest not? Bright One, there be other things in Life, in Nature, in this Inscrutable Labyrinth, this Heart on which thou leanest, which are equally unintelligible to thee! Yes, my pretty one, what is the Unintelligible but the Ideal? what is the Ideal but the Beautiful? what the Beautiful but the Eternal? And the Spirit of Man that would commune with these is like Him who wanders by the thina poluphloisboio thalasses, and shrinks awe-struck before that Azure Mystery.”
Emily’s eyes filled with fresh-gushing dew. “Speak on, speak ever thus, my George,” she exclaimed. Barnwell’s chains rattled as the confiding girl clung to him. Even Snoggin, the turnkey appointed to sit with the Prisoner, was affected by his noble and appropriate language, and also burst into tears.
“You weep, my Snoggin,” the Boy said; “and why? Hath Life been so charming to me that I should wish to retain it? hath Pleasure no after-Weariness? Ambition no Deception; Wealth no Care; and Glory no Mockery? Psha! I am sick of Success, palled of Pleasure, weary of Wine and Wit, and — nay, start not, my Adelaide — and Woman. I fling away all these things as the Toys of Boyhood. Life is the Soul’s Nursery. I am a Man, and pine for the Illimitable! Mark you me! Has the Morrow any terrors for me, think ye? Did Socrates falter at his poison? Did Seneca blench in his bath? Did Brutus shirk the sword when his great stake was lost? Did even weak Cleopatra shrink from the Serpent’s fatal nip? And why should I? My great Hazard hath been played, and I pay my forfeit. Lie sheathed in my heart, thou flashing Blade! Welcome to my Bosom, thou faithful Serpent; I hug thee, peace-bearing Image of the Eternal! Ha, the hemlock cup! Fill high, boy, for my soul is thirsty for the Infinite! Get ready the bath, friends; prepare me for the feast To-morrow — bathe my limbs in odors, and put ointment in my hair.”
“Has for a bath,” Snoggin interposed, “they’re not to be ‘ad in this ward of the prison; but I dussay Hemmy will git you a little hoil for your ‘air.”
The Prisoned One laughed loud and merrily. “My guardian understands me not, pretty one — and thou? what sayest thou? From those dear lips methinks — plura sunt oscula quam sententiae — I kiss away thy tears, dove! — they will flow apace when I am gone, then they will dry, and presently these fair eyes will shine on another, as they have beamed on poor George Barnwell. Yet wilt thou not all forget him, sweet one. He was an honest fellow, and had a kindly heart for all the world said —”
“That, that he had,” cried the gaoler and the girl in voices gurgling with emotion. And you who read! you unconvicted Convict — you murderer, though haply you have slain no one — you Felon in posse if not in esse — deal gently with one who has used the Opportunity that has failed thee — and believe that the Truthful and the Beautiful bloom sometimes in the dock and the convict’s tawny Gabardine!
In the matter for which he suffered, George could never be brought to acknowledge that he was at all in the wrong. “It may be an error of judgment,” he said to the Venerable Chaplain of the gaol, “but it is no crime. Were it Crime, I should feel Remorse. Where there is no remorse, Crime cannot exist. I am not sorry: therefore, I am innocent. Is the proposition a fair one?”
The excellent Doctor admitted that it was not to be contested.
“And wherefore, sir, should I have sorrow,” the Boy resumed, “for ridding the world of a sordid worm;1 of a man whose very soul was dross, and who never had a feeling for the Truthful and the Beautiful? When I stood before my uncle in the moonlight, in the gardens of the ancestral halls of the De Barnwells, I felt that it was the Nemesis come to overthrow him. ‘Dog,’ I said to the trembling slave, ‘tell me where thy Gold is. THOU hast no use for it. I can spend it in relieving the Poverty on which thou tramplest; in aiding Science, which thou knowest not; in uplifting Art, to which thou art blind. Give Gold, and thou art free.’ But he spake not, and I slew him.”
“I would not have this doctrine vulgarly promulgated,” said the admirable chaplain, “for its general practice might chance to do harm. Thou, my son, the Refined, the Gentle, the Loving and Beloved, the Poet and Sage, urged by what I cannot but think a grievous error, hast appeared as Avenger. Think what would be the world’s condition, were men without any Yearning after the Ideal to attempt to reorganize Society, to redistribute Property, to avenge Wrong.”
“A rabble of pigmies scaling Heaven,” said the noble though misguided young Prisoner. “Prometheus was a Giant, and he fell.”
“Yes, indeed, my brave youth!” the benevolent Dr. Fuzwig exclaimed, clasping the Prisoner’s marble and manacled hand; “and the Tragedy of To-morrow will teach the World that Homicide is not to be permitted even to the most amiable Genius, and that the lover of the Ideal and the Beautiful, as thou art, my son, must respect the Real likewise.”
“Look! here is supper!” cried Barnwell gayly. “This is the Real, Doctor; let us respect it and fall to.” He partook of the meal as joyously as if it had been one of his early festals; but the worthy chaplain could scarcely eat it for tears.
1 This is a gross plagiarism: the above sentiment is expressed much more eloquently in the ingenious romance of Eugene Aram:—“The burning desires I have known — the resplendent visions I have nursed — the sublime aspirings that have lifted me so often from sense and clay: these tell me, that whether for good or ill, I am the thing of an immortality and the creature of a God. . . . I have destroyed a man noxious to the world! with the wealth by which he afflicted society, I have been the means of blessing many.”
“The whole world is bound by one chain. In every city in the globe there is one quarter that certain travellers know and recognize from its likeness to its brother district in all other places where are congregated the habitations of men. In Tehran, or Pekin, or Stamboul, or New York, or Timbuctoo, or London, there is a certain district where a certain man is not a stranger. Where the idols are fed with incense by the streams of Ching-wang-foo; where the minarets soar sparkling above the cypresses, their reflections quivering in the lucid waters of the Golden Horn; where the yellow Tiber flows under broken bridges and over imperial glories; where the huts are squatted by the Niger, under the palm-trees; where the Northern Babel lies, with its warehouses, and its bridges, its graceful factory-chimneys, and its clumsy fanes — hidden in fog and smoke by the dirtiest river in the world — in all the cities of mankind there is One Home whither men of one family may resort. Over the entire world spreads a vast brotherhood, suffering, silent, scattered, sympathizing, WAITING— an immense Free-Masonry. Once this world-spread band was an Arabian clan — a little nation alone and outlying amongst the mighty monarchies of ancient time, the Megatheria of history. The sails of their rare ships might be seen in the Egyptian waters; the camels of their caravans might thread the sands of Baalbec, or wind through the date-groves of Damascus; their flag was raised, not ingloriously, in many wars, against mighty odds; but ’twas a small people, and on one dark night the Lion of Judah went down before Vespasian’s Eagles, and in flame, and death, and struggle, Jerusalem agonized and died. . . . Yes, the Jewish city is lost to Jewish men; but have they not taken the world in exchange?”
Mused thus Godfrey de Bouillon, Marquis of Codlingsby, as he debouched from Wych Street into the Strand. He had been to take a box for Armida at Madame Vestris’s theatre. That little Armida was folle of Madame Vestris’s theatre; and her little brougham, and her little self, and her enormous eyes, and her prodigious opera-glass, and her miraculous bouquet, which cost Lord Codlingsby twenty guineas every evening at Nathan’s in Covent Garden (the children of the gardeners of Sharon have still no rival for flowers), might be seen, three nights in the week at least, in the narrow, charming, comfortable little theatre. Godfrey had the box. He was strolling, listlessly, eastward; and the above thoughts passed through the young noble’s mind as he came in sight of Holywell Street.
The occupants of the London Ghetto sat at their porches basking in the evening sunshine. Children were playing on the steps. Fathers were smoking at the lintel. Smiling faces looked out from the various and darkling draperies with which the warehouses were hung. Ringlets glossy, and curly, and jetty — eyes black as night — midsummer night — when it lightens; haughty noses bending like beaks of eagles — eager quivering nostrils — lips curved like the bow of Love — every man or maiden, every babe or matron in that English Jewry bore in his countenance one or more of these characteristics of his peerless Arab race.
“How beautiful they are!” mused Codlingsby, as he surveyed these placid groups calmly taking their pleasure in the sunset.
“D’you vant to look at a nishe coat?” a voice said, which made him start; and then some one behind him began handling a masterpiece of Stultz’s with a familiarity which would have made the baron tremble.
“Rafael Mendoza!” exclaimed Godfrey.
“The same, Lord Codlingsby,” the individual so apostrophized replied. “I told you we should meet again where you would little expect me. Will it please you to enter? this is Friday, and we close at sunset. It rejoices my heart to welcome you home.” So saying Rafael laid his hand on his breast, and bowed, an oriental reverence. All traces of the accent with which he first addressed Lord Codlingsby had vanished: it was disguise; half the Hebrew’s life is a disguise. He shields himself in craft, since the Norman boors persecuted him.
They passed under an awning of old clothes, tawdry fripperies, greasy spangles, and battered masks, into a shop as black and hideous as the entrance was foul. “THIS your home, Rafael?” said Lord Codlingsby.
“Why not?” Rafael answered. “I am tired of Schloss Schinkenstein; the Rhine bores me after a while. It is too hot for Florence; besides they have not completed the picture-gallery, and my place smells of putty. You wouldn’t have a man, mon cher, bury himself in his chateau in Normandy, out of the hunting season? The Rugantino Palace stupefies me. Those Titians are so gloomy, I shall have my Hobbimas and Tenierses, I think, from my house at the Hague hung over them.”
“How many castles, palaces, houses, warehouses, shops, have you, Rafael?” Lord Codlingsby asked, laughing.
“This is one,” Rafael answered. “Come in.”
The noise in the old town was terrific; Great Tom was booming sullenly over the uproar; the bell of Saint Mary’s was clanging with alarm; St. Giles’s tocsin chimed furiously; howls, curses, flights of brickbats, stones shivering windows, groans of wounded men, cries of frightened females, cheers of either contending party as it charged the enemy from Carfax to Trumpington Street, proclaimed that the battle was at its height.
In Berlin they would have said it was a revolution, and the cuirassiers would have been charging, sabre in hand, amidst that infuriate mob. In France they would have brought down artillery, and played on it with twenty-four pounders. In Cambridge nobody heeded the disturbance — it was a Town and Gown row.
The row arose at a boat-race. The Town boat (manned by eight stout Bargees, with the redoubted Rullock for stroke) had bumped the Brazenose light oar, usually at the head of the river. High words arose regarding the dispute. After returning from Granchester, when the boats pulled back to Christchurch meadows, the disturbance between the Townsmen and the University youths — their invariable opponents — grew louder and more violent, until it broke out in open battle. Sparring and skirmishing took place along the pleasant fields that lead from the University gate down to the broad and shining waters of the Cam, and under the walls of Balliol and Sidney Sussex. The Duke of Bellamont (then a dashing young sizar at Exeter) had a couple of rounds with Billy Butt, the bow-oar of the Bargee boat. Vavasour of Brazenose was engaged with a powerful butcher, a well-known champion of the Town party, when, the great University bells ringing to dinner, truce was called between the combatants, and they retired to their several colleges for refection.
During the boat-race, a gentleman pulling in a canoe, and smoking a narghilly, had attracted no ordinary attention. He rowed about a hundred yards ahead of the boats in the race, so that he could have a good view of that curious pastime. If the eight-oars neared him, with a few rapid strokes of his flashing paddles his boat shot a furlong ahead; then he would wait, surveying the race, and sending up volumes of odor from his cool narghilly.
“Who is he?” asked the crowds who panted along the shore, encouraging, according to Cambridge wont, the efforts of the oarsmen in the race. Town and Gown alike asked who it was, who, with an ease so provoking, in a barque so singular, with a form seemingly so slight, but a skill so prodigious, beat their best men. No answer could be given to the query, save that a gentleman in a dark travelling-chariot, preceded by six fourgons and a courier, had arrived the day before at the “Hoop Inn,” opposite Brazenose, and that the stranger of the canoe seemed to be the individual in question.
No wonder the boat, that all admired so, could compete with any that ever was wrought by Cambridge artificer or Putney workman. That boat — slim, shining, and shooting through the water like a pike after a small fish — was a caique from Tophana; it had distanced the Sultan’s oarsmen and the best crews of the Capitan Pasha in the Bosphorus; it was the workmanship of Togrul-Beg, Caikjee Bashee of his Highness. The Bashee had refused fifty thousand tomauns from Count Boutenieff, the Russian Ambassador, for that little marvel. When his head was taken off, the Father of Believers presented the boat to Rafael Mendoza.
It was Rafael Mendoza that saved the Turkish monarchy after the battle of Nezeeb. By sending three millions of piastres to the Seraskier; by bribing Colonel de St. Cornichon, the French envoy in the camp of the victorious Ibrahim, the march of the Egyptian army was stopped — the menaced empire of the Ottomans was saved from ruin; the Marchioness of Stokepogis, our ambassador’s lady, appeared in a suite of diamonds which outblazed even the Romanoff jewels, and Rafael Mendoza obtained the little caique. He never travelled without it. It was scarcely heavier than an arm-chair. Baroni, the courier, had carried it down to the Cam that morning, and Rafael had seen the singular sport which we have mentioned.
The dinner over, the young men rushed from their colleges, flushed, full-fed, and eager for battle. If the Gown was angry, the Town, too, was on the alert. From Iffly and Barnwell, from factory and mill, from wharf and warehouse, the Town poured out to meet the enemy, and their battle was soon general. From the Addenbrook’s hospital to the Blenheim turnpike, all Cambridge was in an uproar — the college gates closed — the shops barricaded — the shop-boys away in support of their brother townsmen — the battle raged, and the Gown had the worst of the fight.
A luncheon of many courses had been provided for Rafael Mendoza at his inn; but he smiled at the clumsy efforts of the university cooks to entertain him, and a couple of dates and a glass of water formed his meal. In vain the discomfited landlord pressed him to partake of the slighted banquet. “A breakfast! psha!” said he. “My good man, I have nineteen cooks, at salaries rising from four hundred a year. I can have a dinner at any hour; but a Town and Gown row” (a brickbat here flying through the window crashed the caraffe of water in Mendoza’s hand)—“a Town and Gown row is a novelty to me. The Town has the best of it, clearly, though: the men outnumber the lads. Ha, a good blow! How that tall townsman went down before yonder slim young fellow in the scarlet trencher cap.”
“That is the Lord Codlingsby,” the landlord said.
“A light weight, but a pretty fighter,” Mendoza remarked. “Well hit with your left, Lord Codlingsby; well parried, Lord Codlingsby; claret drawn, by Jupiter!”
“Ours is werry fine,” the landlord said. “Will your Highness have Chateau Margaux or Lafitte?”
“He never can be going to match himself against that bargeman!” Rafael exclaimed, as an enormous boatman — no other than Rullock — indeed, the most famous bruiser of Cambridge, and before whose fists the Gownsmen went down like ninepins — fought his way up to the spot where, with admirable spirit and resolution, Lord Codlingsby and one or two of his friends were making head against a number of the town.
The young noble faced the huge champion with the gallantry of his race, but was no match for the enemy’s strength and weight and sinew, and went down at every round. The brutal fellow had no mercy on the lad. His savage treatment chafed Mendoza as he viewed the unequal combat from the inn-window. “Hold your hand!” he cried to this Goliath; “don’t you see he’s but a boy?”
“Down he goes again!” the bargeman cried, not heeding the interruption. “Down he goes again: I likes wapping a lord!”
“Coward!” shouted Mendoza; and to fling open the window amidst a shower of brickbats, to vault over the balcony, to slide down one of the pillars to the ground, was an instant’s work.
At the next he stood before the enormous bargeman.
After the coroner’s inquest, Mendoza gave ten thousand pounds to each of the bargeman’s ten children, and it was thus his first acquaintance was formed with Lord Codlingsby.
But we are lingering on the threshold of the house in Holywell Street. Let us go in.
Godfrey and Rafael passed from the street into the outer shop of the old mansion in Holywell Street. It was a masquerade warehouse to all appearance. A dark-eyed damsel of the nation was standing at the dark and grimy counter, strewed with old feathers, old yellow hoots, old stage mantles, painted masks, blind and yet gazing at you with a look of sad death-like intelligence from the vacancy behind their sockets.
A medical student was trying one of the doublets of orange-tawny and silver, slashed with dirty light blue. He was going to a masquerade that night. He thought Polly Pattens would admire him in the dress — Polly Pattens, the fairest of maids-of-all-work — the Borough Venus, adored by half the youth of Guy’s.
“You look like a prince in it, Mr. Lint,” pretty Rachel said, coaxing him with her beady black eyes.
“It IS the cheese,” replied Mr. Lint; “it ain’t the dress that don’t suit, my rose of Sharon; it’s the FIGURE. Hullo, Rafael, is that you, my lad of sealing-wax? Come and intercede for me with this wild gazelle; she says I can’t have it under fifteen bob for the night. And it’s too much: cuss me if it’s not too much, unless you’ll take my little bill at two months, Rafael.”
“There’s a sweet pretty brigand’s dress you may have for half de monish,” Rafael replied; “there’s a splendid clown for eight bob; but for dat Spanish dress, selp ma Moshesh, Mistraer Lint, ve’d ask a guinea of any but you. Here’s a gentlemansh just come to look at it. Look ‘ear, Mr. Brownsh, did you ever shee a nisher ting dan dat?” So saying, Rafael turned to Lord Codlingsby with the utmost gravity, and displayed to him the garment about which the young medicus was haggling.
“Cheap at the money,” Codlingsby replied; “if you won’t make up your mind, sir, I should like to engage it myself.” But the thought that another should appear before Polly Pattens in that costume was too much for Mr. Lint; he agreed to pay the fifteen shillings for the garment. And Rafael, pocketing the money with perfect simplicity, said, “Dis vay, Mr. Brownsh: dere’s someting vill shoot you in the next shop.”
Lord Codlingsby followed him, wondering.
“You are surprised at our system,” said Rafael, marking the evident bewilderment of his friend. “Confess you would call it meanness — my huckstering with yonder young fool. I call it simplicity. Why throw away a shilling without need? Our race never did. A shilling is four men’s bread: shall I disdain to defile my fingers by holding them out relief in their necessity? It is you who are mean — you Normans — not we of the ancient race. You have your vulgar measurement for great things and small. You call a thousand pounds respectable, and a shekel despicable. Psha, my Codlingsby! One is as the other. I trade in pennies and in millions. I am above or below neither.”
They were passing through a second shop, smelling strongly of cedar, and, in fact, piled up with bales of those pencils which the young Hebrews are in the habit of vending through the streets. “I have sold bundles and bundles of these,” said Rafael. “My little brother is now out with oranges in Piccadilly. I am bringing him up to be head of our house at Amsterdam. We all do it. I had myself to see Rothschild in Eaton Place this morning, about the Irish loan, of which I have taken three millions: and as I wanted to walk, I carried the bag.
“You should have seen the astonishment of Lauda Latymer, the Archbishop of Croydon’s daughter, as she was passing St. Bennet’s, Knightsbridge, and as she fancied she recognized in the man who was crying old clothes the gentleman with whom she had talked at the Count de St. Aulair’s the night before.” Something like a blush flushed over the pale features of Mendoza as he mentioned the Lady Lauda’s name. “Come on,” said he. They passed through various warehouses — the orange room, the sealing-wax room, the six-bladed knife department, and finally came to an old baize door. Rafael opened the baize door by some secret contrivance, and they were in a black passage, with a curtain at the end.
He clapped his hands; the curtain at the end of the passage drew back, and a flood of golden light streamed on the Hebrew and his visitor.
They entered a moderate-sized apartment — indeed, Holywell Street is not above a hundred yards long, and this chamber was not more than half that length — it was fitted up with the simple taste of its owner.
The carpet was of white velvet —(laid over several webs of Aubusson, Ispahan, and Axminster, so that your foot gave no more sound as it trod upon the yielding plain than the shadow did which followed you)— of white velvet, painted with flowers, arabesques, and classic figures, by Sir William Ross, J. M. W. Turner, R. A., Mrs. Mee, and Paul Delaroche. The edges were wrought with seed-pearls, and fringed with Valenciennes lace and bullion. The walls were hung with cloth of silver, embroidered with gold figures, over which were worked pomegranates, polyanthuses, and passion-flowers, in ruby, amethyst, and smaragd. The drops of dew which the artificer had sprinkled on the flowers were diamonds. The hangings were overhung by pictures yet more costly. Giorgione the gorgeous, Titian the golden, Rubens the ruddy and pulpy (the Pan of Painting), some of Murillo’s beatified shepherdesses, who smile on you out of darkness like a star, a few score first-class Leonardos, and fifty of the master-pieces of the patron of Julius and Leo, the Imperial genius of Urbino, covered the walls of the little chamber. Divans of carved amber covered with ermine went round the room, and in the midst was a fountain, pattering and babbling with jets of double-distilled otto of roses.
“Pipes, Goliath!” Rafael said gayly to a little negro with a silver collar (he spoke to him in his native tongue of Dongola); “and welcome to our snuggery, my Codlingsby. We are quieter here than in the front of the house, and I wanted to show you a picture. I’m proud of my pictures. That Leonardo came from Genoa, and was a gift to our father from my cousin, Marshal Manasseh: that Murillo was pawned to my uncle by Marie Antoinette before the flight to Varennes — the poor lady could not redeem the pledge, you know, and the picture remains with us. As for the Rafael, I suppose you are aware that he was one of our people. But what are you gazing at? Oh! my sister — I forgot. Miriam! this is the Lord Codlingsby.”
She had been seated at an ivory pianoforte on a mother-of-pearl music-stool, trying a sonata of Herz. She rose when thus apostrophized. Miriam de Mendoza rose and greeted the stranger.
The Talmud relates that Adam had two wives — Zillah the dark beauty; Eva the fair one. The ringlets of Zillah were black; those of Eva were golden. The eyes of Zillah were night; those of Eva were morning. Codlingsby was fair — of the fair Saxon race of Hengist and Horsa — they called him Miss Codlingsby at school; but how much fairer was Miriam the Hebrew!
Her hair had that deep glowing tinge in it which has been the delight of all painters, and which, therefore, the vulgar sneer at. It was of burning auburn. Meandering over her fairest shoulders in twenty thousand minute ringlets, it hung to her waist and below it. A light blue velvet fillet clasped with a diamond aigrette (valued at two hundred thousand tomauns, and bought from Lieutenant Vicovich, who had received it from Dost Mahomed), with a simple bird of paradise, formed her head-gear. A sea-green cymar with short sleeves, displayed her exquisitely moulded arms to perfection, and was fastened by a girdle of emeralds over a yellow satin frock. Pink gauze trousers spangled with silver, and slippers of the same color as the band which clasped her ringlets (but so covered with pearls that the original hue of the charming little papoosh disappeared entirely) completed her costume. She had three necklaces on, each of which would have dowered a Princess — her fingers glistened with rings to their rosy tips, and priceless bracelets, bangles, and armlets wound round an arm that was whiter than the ivory grand piano on which it leaned.
As Miriam de Mendoza greeted the stranger, turning upon him the solemn welcome of her eyes, Codlingsby swooned almost in the brightness of her beauty. It was well she spoke; the sweet kind voice restored him to consciousness. Muttering a few words of incoherent recognition, he sank upon a sandalwood settee, as Goliath, the little slave, brought aromatic coffee in cups of opal, and alabaster spittoons, and pipes of the fragrant Gibelly.
“My lord’s pipe is out,” said Miriam with a smile, remarking the bewilderment of her guest — who in truth forgot to smoke — and taking up a thousand pound note from a bundle on the piano, she lighted it at the taper and proceeded to re-illumine the extinguished chibouk of Lord Codlingsby.
When Miriam, returning to the mother-of-pearl music-stool, at a signal from her brother, touched the silver and enamelled keys of the ivory piano, and began to sing, Lord Codlingsby felt as if he were listening at the gates of Paradise, or were hearing Jenny Lind.
“Lind is the name of the Hebrew race; so is Mendelssohn, the son of Almonds; so is Rosenthal, the Valley of the Roses: so is Lowe or Lewis or Lyons or Lion. The beautiful and the brave alike give cognizances to the ancient people: you Saxons call yourselves Brown, or Smith, or Rodgers,” Rafael observed to his friend; and, drawing the instrument from his pocket, he accompanied his sister, in the most ravishing manner, on a little gold and jewelled harp, of the kind peculiar to his nation.
All the airs which the Hebrew maid selected were written by composers of her race; it was either a hymn by Rossini, a polacca by Braham, a delicious romance by Sloman, or a melody by Weber, that, thrilling on the strings of the instrument, wakened a harmony on the fibres of the heart; but she sang no other than the songs of her nation.
“Beautiful one! sing ever, sing always,” Codlingsby thought. “I could sit at thy feet as under a green palm-tree, and fancy that Paradise-birds were singing in the boughs.”
Rafael read his thoughts. “We have Saxon blood too in our veins,” he said. “You smile! but it is even so. An ancestress of ours made a mesalliance in the reign of your King John. Her name was Rebecca, daughter of Isaac of York, and she married in Spain, whither she had fled to the Court of King Boabdil, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe; then a widower by the demise of his first lady, Rowena. The match was deemed a cruel insult amongst our people but Wilfred conformed, and was a Rabbi of some note at the synagogue of Cordova. We are descended from him lineally. It is the only blot upon the escutcheon of the Mendozas.”
As they sat talking together, the music finished, and Miriam having retired (though her song and her beauty were still present to the soul of the stranger) at a signal from Mendoza, various messengers from the outer apartments came in to transact business with him.
First it was Mr. Aminadab, who kissed his foot, and brought papers to sign. “How is the house in Grosvenor Square, Aminadab; and is your son tired of his yacht yet?” Mendoza asked. “That is my twenty-fourth cashier,” said Rafael to Codlingsby, when the obsequious clerk went away. “He is fond of display, and all my people may have what money they like.”
Entered presently the Lord Bareacres, on the affair of his mortgage. The Lord Bareacres, strutting into the apartment with a haughty air, shrank back, nevertheless, with surprise on beholding the magnificence around him. “Little Mordecai,” said Rafael to a little orange-boy, who came in at the heels of the noble, “take this gentleman out and let him have ten thousand pounds. I can’t do more for you, my lord, than this — I’m busy. Good-by!” And Rafael waved his hand to the peer, and fell to smoking his narghilly.
A man with a square face, cat-like eyes, and a yellow moustache, came next. He had an hour-glass of a waist, and walked uneasily upon his high-heeled boots. “Tell your master that he shall have two millions more, but not another shilling,” Rafael said. “That story about the five-and-twenty millions of ready money at Cronstadt is all bosh. They won’t believe it in Europe. You understand me, Count Grogomoffski?”
“But his Imperial Majesty said four millions, and I shall get the knout unless —”
“Go and speak to Mr. Shadrach, in room Z 94, the fourth court,” said Mendoza good-naturedly. “Leave me at peace, Count: don’t you see it is Friday, and almost sunset?” The Calmuck envoy retired cringing, and left an odor of musk and candle-grease behind him.
An orange-man; an emissary from Lola Montes; a dealer in piping bullfinches; and a Cardinal in disguise, with a proposal for a new loan for the Pope, were heard by turns; and each, after a rapid colloquy in his own language, was dismissed by Rafael.
“The queen must come back from Aranjuez, or that king must be disposed of,” Rafael exclaimed, as a yellow-faced amabassador from Spain, General the Duke of Olla Podrida, left him. “Which shall it be, my Codlingsby?” Codlingsby was about laughingly to answer — for indeed he was amazed to find all the affairs of the world represented here, and Holywell Street the centre of Europe — when three knocks of a peculiar nature were heard, and Mendoza starting up, said, “Ha! there are only four men in the world who know that signal.” At once, and with a reverence quite distinct from his former nonchalant manner, he advanced towards the new-comer.
He was an old man — an old man evidently, too, of the Hebrew race — the light of his eyes was unfathomable — about his mouth there played an inscrutable smile. He had a cotton umbrella, and old trousers, and old boots, and an old wig, curling at the top like a rotten old pear.
He sat down, as if tired, in the first seat at hand, as Rafael made him the lowest reverence.
“I am tired,” says he; “I have come in fifteen hours. I am ill at Neuilly,” he added with a grin. “Get me some eau sucree, and tell me the news, Prince de Mendoza. These bread rows; this unpopularity of Guizot; this odious Spanish conspiracy against my darling Montpensier and daughter; this ferocity of Palmerston against Coletti, makes me quite ill. Give me your opinion, my dear duke. But ha! whom have we here?”
The august individual who had spoken, had used the Hebrew language to address Mendoza, and the Lord Codlingsby might easily have pleaded ignorance of that tongue. But he had been at Cambridge, where all the youth acquire it perfectly.
“SIRE,” said he, “I will not disguise from you that I know the ancient tongue in which you speak. There are probably secrets between Mendoza and your Maj —”
“Hush!” said Rafael, leading him from the room. “Au revoir, dear Codlingsby. His Majesty is one of US,” he whispered at the door; “so is the Pope of Rome; so is . . .”— a whisper concealed the rest.
“Gracious powers! is it so?” said Codlingsby, musing. He entered into Holywell Street. The sun was sinking.
“It is time,” said he, “to go and fetch Armida to the Olympic.”
The gabion was ours. After two hours’ fighting we were in possession of the first embrasure, and made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances would admit. Jack Delamere, Tom Delancy, Jerry Blake, the Doctor, and myself, sat down under a pontoon, and our servants laid out a hasty supper on a tumbrel. Though Cambaceres had escaped me so provokingly after I cut him down, his spoils were mine; a cold fowl and a Bologna sausage were found in the Marshal’s holsters; and in the haversack of a French private who lay a corpse on the glacis, we found a loaf of bread, his three days’ ration. Instead of salt, we had gunpowder; and you may be sure, wherever the Doctor was, a flask of good brandy was behind him in his instrument-case. We sat down and made a soldier’s supper. The Doctor pulled a few of the delicious fruit from the lemon-trees growing near (and round which the Carabineers and the 24th Leger had made a desperate rally), and punch was brewed in Jack Delamere’s helmet.
“‘Faith, it never had so much wit in it before,” said the Doctor, as he ladled out the drink. We all roared with laughing, except the guardsman, who was as savage as a Turk at a christening.
“Buvez-en,” said old Sawbones to our French prisoner; “ca vous fera du bien, mon vieux coq!” and the Colonel, whose wound had been just dressed, eagerly grasped at the proffered cup, and drained it with a health to the donors.
How strange are the chances of war! But half an hour before he and I were engaged in mortal combat, and our prisoner was all but my conqueror. Grappling with Cambaceres, whom I knocked from his horse, and was about to despatch, I felt a lunge behind, which luckily was parried by my sabretache; a herculean grasp was at the next instant at my throat — I was on the ground — my prisoner had escaped, and a gigantic warrior in the uniform of a colonel of the regiment of Artois glaring over me with pointed sword.
“Rends-toi, coquin!” said he.
“Allez an Diable!” said I: “a Fogarty never surrenders.”
I thought of my poor mother and my sisters, at the old house in Killaloo — I felt the tip of his blade between my teeth — I breathed a prayer, and shut my eyes — when the tables were turned — the butt-end of Lanty Clancy’s musket knocked the sword up and broke the arm that held it.
“Thonamoundiaoul nabochlish,” said the French officer, with a curse in the purest Irish. It was lucky I stopped laughing time enough to bid Lanty hold his hand, for the honest fellow would else have brained my gallant adversary. We were the better friends for our combat, as what gallant hearts are not?
The breach was to be stormed at sunset, and like true soldiers we sat down to make the most of our time. The rogue of a Doctor took the liver-wing for his share — we gave the other to our guest, a prisoner; those scoundrels Jack Delamere and Tom Delaney took the legs — and, ‘faith, poor I was put off with the Pope’s nose and a bit of the back.
“How d’ye like his Holiness’s FAYTURE?” said Jerry Blake.
“Anyhow you’ll have a MERRY THOUGHT,” cried the incorrigible Doctor, and all the party shrieked at the witticism.
“De mortuis nil nisi bonum,” said Jack, holding up the drumstick clean.
“‘Faith, there’s not enough of it to make us CHICKEN-HEARTED, anyhow,” said I; “come, boys, let’s have a song.”
“Here goes,” said Tom Delaney, and sung the following lyric, of his own composition —
“Dear Jack, this white mug that with Guinness I fill,
And drink to the health of sweet Nan of the hill,
Was once Tommy Tosspot’s, as jovial a sot,
As e’er drew a spigot, or drain’d a full pot —
In drinking all round ’twas his joy to surpass,
And with all merry tipplers he swigg’d off his glass.
“One morning in summer, while seated so snug,
In the porch of his garden, discussing his jug,
Stern Death, on a sudden, to Tom did appear,
And said, ‘Honest Thomas, come take your last bier;’
We kneaded his clay in the shape of this can,
From which let us drink to the health of my Nan.”
“Psha!” said the Doctor, “I’ve heard that song before; here’s a new one for you, boys!” and Sawbones began, in a rich Corkagian voice —
“You’ve all heard of Larry O’Toole,
Of the beautiful town of Drumgoole;
He had but one eye,
To ogle ye by —
Oh, murther, but that was a jew’l!
He made of de girls, dis O’Toole.
“’Twas he was the boy didn’t fail,
That tuck down pataties and mail;
He never would shrink
From any sthrong dthrink,
Was it whisky or Drogheda ale;
This Larry would swallow a pail.
“Oh, many a night at the bowl,
With Larry I’ve sot cheek by jowl;
He’s gone to his rest,
Where there’s dthrink of the best,
And so let us give his old sowl
For twas he made the noggin to rowl.”
I observed the French Colonel’s eye glistened as he heard these well-known accents of his country but we were too well-bred to pretend to remark his emotion.
The sun was setting behind the mountains as our songs were finished, and each began to look out with some anxiety for the preconcerted signal, the rocket from Sir Hussey Vivian’s quarters, which was to announce the recommencement of hostilities. It came just as the moon rose in her silver splendor, and ere the rocket-stick fell quivering to the earth at the feet of General Picton and Sir Lowry Cole, who were at their posts at the head of the storming-parties, nine hundred and ninety nine guns in position opened their fire from our batteries, which were answered by a tremendous canonnade from the fort.
“Who’s going to dance?” said the Doctor: “the ball’s begun. Ha! there goes poor Jack Delamere’s head off! The ball chose a soft one, anyhow. Come here, Tim, till I mend your leg. Your wife has need only knit half as many stockings next year, Doolan my boy. Faix! there goes a big one had wellnigh stopped my talking: bedad! it has snuffed the feather off my cocked hat!”
In this way, with eighty-four-pounders roaring over us like hail, the undaunted little Doctor pursued his jokes and his duty. That he had a feeling heart, all who served with him knew, and none more so than Philip Fogarty, the humble writer of this tale of war.
Our embrasure was luckily bomb-proof, and the detachment of the Onety-oneth under my orders suffered comparatively little. “Be cool, boys,” I said; “it will be hot enough work for you ere long.” The honest fellows answered with an Irish cheer. I saw that it affected our prisoner.
“Countryman,” said I, “I know you; but an Irishman was never a traitor.”
“Taisez-vous!” said he, putting his finger to his lip. “C’est la fortune de la guerre: if ever you come to Paris, ask for the Marquis d’ O’Mahony, and I may render you the hospitality which your tyrannous laws prevent me from exercising in the ancestral halls of my own race.”
I shook him warmly by the hand as a tear bedimmed his eye. It was, then, the celebrated colonel of the Irish Brigade, created a Marquis by Napoleon on the field of Austerlitz!
“Marquis,” said I, “the country which disowns you is proud of you; but — ha! here, if I mistake not, comes our signal to advance.” And in fact, Captain Vandeleur, riding up through the shower of shot, asked for the commander of the detachment, and bade me hold myself in readiness to move as soon as the flank companies of the Ninety-ninth, and Sixty-sixth, and the Grenadier Brigade of the German Legion began to advance up the echelon. The devoted band soon arrived; Jack Bowser heading the Ninety-ninth (when was he away and a storming-party to the fore?), and the gallant Potztausend, with his Hanoverian veterans.
The second rocket flew up.
“Forward, Onety-oneth!” cried I, in a voice of thunder. “Killaloo boys, follow your captain!” and with a shrill hurray, that sounded above the tremendous fire from the fort, we sprung upon the steep; Bowser with the brave Ninety-ninth, and the bold Potztausend, keeping well up with us. We passed the demilune, we passed the culverin, bayoneting the artillerymen at their guns; we advanced across the two tremendous demilunes which flank the counterscarp, and prepared for the final spring upon the citadel. Soult I could see quite pale on the wall; and the scoundrel Cambaceres, who had been so nearly my prisoner that day, trembled as he cheered his men. “On, boys, on!” I hoarsely exclaimed. “Hurroo!” said the fighting Onety-oneth.
But there was a movement among the enemy. An officer, glittering with orders, and another in a gray coat and a cocked hat, came to the wall, and I recognized the Emperor Napoleon and the famous Joachim Murat.
“We are hardly pressed, methinks,” Napoleon said sternly. “I must exercise my old trade as an artilleryman;” and Murat loaded, and the Emperor pointed the only hundred-and-twenty-four-pounder that had not been silenced by our fire.
“Hurray, Killaloo boys!” shouted I. The next moment a sensation of numbness and death seized me, and I lay like a corpse upon the rampart.
“Hush!” said a voice, which I recognized to be that of the Marquis d’ O’Mahony. “Heaven be praised, reason has returned to you. For six weeks those are the only sane words I have heard from you.”
“Faix, and ’tis thrue for you, Colonel dear,” cried another voice, with which I was even more familiar; ’twas that of my honest and gallant Lanty Clancy, who was blubbering at my bedside overjoyed at his master’s recovery.
“O musha, Masther Phil agrah! but this will be the great day intirely, when I send off the news, which I would, barrin’ I can’t write, to the lady your mother and your sisters at Castle Fogarty; and ’tis his Riv’rence Father Luke will jump for joy thin, when he reads the letther! Six weeks ravin’ and roarin’ as bould as a lion, and as mad as Mick Malony’s pig, that mistuck Mick’s wig for a cabbage, and died of atin’ it!”
“And have I then lost my senses?” I exclaimed feebly.
“Sure, didn’t ye call me your beautiful Donna Anna only yesterday, and catch hould of me whiskers as if they were the Signora’s jet-black ringlets?” Lanty cried.
At this moment, and blushing deeply, the most beautiful young creature I ever set my eyes upon, rose from a chair at the foot of the bed, and sailed out of the room.
“Confusion, you blundering rogue,” I cried; “who is that lovely lady whom you frightened away by your impertinence? Donna Anna? Where am I?”
“You are in good hands, Philip,” said the Colonel; “you are at my house in the Place Vendome, at Paris, of which I am the military Governor. You and Lanty were knocked down by the wind of the cannon-ball at Burgos. Do not be ashamed: ’twas the Emperor pointed the gun;” and the Colonel took off his hat as he mentioned the name darling to France. “When our troops returned from the sally in which your gallant storming party was driven back, you were found on the glacis, and I had you brought into the City. Your reason had left you, however, when you returned to life; but, unwilling to desert the son of my old friend, Philip Fogarty, who saved my life in ‘98, I brought you in my carriage to Paris.”
“And many’s the time you tried to jump out of the windy, Masther Phil,” said Clancy.
“Brought you to Paris,” resumed the Colonel, smiling; “where, by the soins of my friends Broussais, Esquirol, and Baron Larrey, you have been restored to health, thank heaven!”
“And that lovely angel who quitted the apartment?” I cried.
“That lovely angel is the Lady Blanche Sarsfield, my ward, a descendant of the gallant Lucan, and who may be, when she chooses, Madame la Marechale de Cambaceres, Duchess of Illyria.”
“Why did you deliver the ruffian when he was in my grasp?” I cried.
“Why did Lanty deliver you when in mine?” the Colonel replied. “C’est la fortune de la guerre, mon garcon; but calm yourself, and take this potion which Blanche has prepared for you.”
I drank the tisane eagerly when I heard whose fair hands had compounded it, and its effects were speedily beneficial to me, for I sank into a cool and refreshing slumber.
From that day I began to mend rapidly, with all the elasticity of youth’s happy time. Blanche — the enchanting Blanche — ministered henceforth to me, for I would take no medicine but from her lily hand. And what were the effects? ‘Faith, ere a month was past, the patient was over head and ears in love with the doctor; and as for Baron Larrey, and Broussais, and Esquirol, they were sent to the right-about. In a short time I was in a situation to do justice to the gigot aux navets, the boeuf aux cornichons, and the other delicious entremets of the Marquis’s board, with an appetite that astonished some of the Frenchmen who frequented it.
“Wait till he’s quite well, Miss,” said Lanty, who waited always behind me. “‘Faith! when he’s in health, I’d back him to ate a cow, barrin’ the horns and teel.” I sent a decanter at the rogue’s head, by way of answer to his impertinence.
Although the disgusting Cambaceres did his best to have my parole withdrawn from me, and to cause me to be sent to the English depot of prisoners at Verdun, the Marquis’s interest with the Emperor prevailed, and I was allowed to remain at Paris, the happiest of prisoners, at the Colonel’s hotel at the Place Vendome. I here had the opportunity (an opportunity not lost, I flatter myself, on a young fellow with the accomplishments of Philip Fogarty, Esq.) of mixing with the elite of French society, and meeting with many of the great, the beautiful, and the brave. Talleyrand was a frequent guest of the Marquis’s. His bon-mots used to keep the table in a roar. Ney frequently took his chop with us; Murat, when in town, constantly dropt in for a cup of tea and friendly round game. Alas! who would have thought those two gallant heads would be so soon laid low? My wife has a pair of earrings which the latter, who always wore them, presented to her — but we are advancing matters. Anybody could see, “avec un demioeil,” as the Prince of Benevento remarked, how affairs went between me and Blanche; but though she loathed him for his cruelties and the odiousness of his person, the brutal Cambaceres still pursued his designs upon her.
I recollect it was on St. Patrick’s Day. My lovely friend had procured, from the gardens of the Empress Josephine, at Malmaison (whom we loved a thousand times more than her Austrian successor, a sandy-haired woman, between ourselves, with an odious squint), a quantity of shamrock wherewith to garnish the hotel, and all the Irish in Paris were invited to the national festival.
I and Prince Talleyrand danced a double hornpipe with Pauline Bonaparte and Madame de Stael; Marshal Soult went down a couple of sets with Madame Recamier; and Robespierre’s widow — an excellent, gentle creature, quite unlike her husband — stood up with the Austrian ambassador. Besides, the famous artists Baron Gros, David and Nicholas Poussin, and Canova, who was in town making a statue of the Emperor for Leo X., and, in a word, all the celebrities of Paris — as my gifted countrywoman, the wild Irish girl, calls them — were assembled in the Marquis’s elegant receiving-rooms.
At last a great outcry was raised for La Gigue Irlandaise! La Gigue Irlandaise! a dance which had made a fureur amongst the Parisians ever since the lovely Blanche Sarsfield had danced it. She stepped forward and took me for a partner, and amidst the bravoes of the crowd, in which stood Ney, Murat, Lannes, the Prince of Wagram, and the Austrian ambassador, we showed to the beau monde of the French capital, I flatter myself, a not unfavorable specimen of the dance of our country.
As I was cutting the double-shuffle, and toe-and-heeling it in the “rail” style, Blanche danced up to me, smiling, and said, “Be on your guard; I see Cambaceres talking to Fouche, the Duke of Otranto, about us; and when Otranto turns his eyes upon a man, they bode him no good.”
“Cambaceres is jealous,” said I. “I have it,” says she; “I’ll make him dance a turn with me.” So, presently, as the music was going like mad all this time, I pretended fatigue from my late wounds, and sat down. The lovely Blanche went up smiling, and brought out Cambaceres as a second partner.
The Marshal is a lusty man, who makes desperate efforts to give himself a waist, and the effect of the exercise upon him was speedily visible. He puffed and snorted like a walrus, drops trickled down his purple face, while my lovely mischief of a Blanche went on dancing at treble quick, till she fairly danced him down.
“Who’ll take the flure with me?” said the charming girl, animated by the sport.
“Faix, den, ’tis I, Lanty Clancy!” cried my rascal, who had been mad with excitement at the scene; and, stepping in with a whoop and a hurroo, he began to dance with such rapidity as made all present stare.
As the couple were footing it, there was a noise as of a rapid cavalcade traversing the Place Vendome, and stopping at the Marquis’s door. A crowd appeared to mount the stair; the great doors of the reception-room were flung open, and two pages announced their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress. So engaged were Lanty and Blanche, that they never heard the tumult occasioned by the august approach.
It was indeed the Emperor, who, returning from the Theatre Francais, and seeing the Marquis’s windows lighted up, proposed to the Empress to drop in on the party. He made signs to the musicians to continue: and the conqueror of Marengo and Friedland watched with interest the simple evolutions of two happy Irish people. Even the Empress smiled and, seeing this, all the courtiers, including Naples and Talleyrand, were delighted.
“Is not this a great day for Ireland?” said the Marquis, with a tear trickling down his noble face. “O Ireland! O my country! But no more of that. Go up, Phil, you divvle, and offer her Majesty the choice of punch or negus.”
Among the young fellows with whom I was most intimate in Paris was Eugene Beauharnais, the son of the ill-used and unhappy Josephine by her former marriage with a French gentleman of good family. Having a smack of the old blood in him, Eugene’s manners were much more refined than those of the new-fangled dignitaries of the Emperor’s Court, where (for my knife and fork were regularly laid at the Tuileries) I have seen my poor friend Murat repeatedly mistake a fork for a toothpick, and the gallant Massena devour pease by means of his knife, in a way more innocent than graceful. Talleyrand, Eugene, and I used often to laugh at these eccentricities of our brave friends; who certainly did not shine in the drawing-room, however brilliant they were in the field of battle. The Emperor always asked me to take wine with him, and was full of kindness and attention.
“I like Eugene,” he would say, pinching my ear confidentially, as his way was —“I like Eugene to keep company with such young fellows as you; you have manners; you have principles; my rogues from the camp have none. And I like you, Philip my boy,” he added, “for being so attentive to my poor wife — the Empress Josephine, I mean.” All these honors made my friends at the Marquis’s very proud, and my enemies at Court crever with envy. Among these, the atrocious Cambaceres was not the least active and envenomed.
The cause of the many attentions which were paid to me, and which, like a vain coxcomb, I had chosen to attribute to my own personal amiability, soon was apparent. Having formed a good opinion of my gallantry from my conduct in various actions and forlorn hopes during the war, the Emperor was most anxious to attach me to his service. The Grand Cross of St. Louis, the title of Count, the command of a crack cavalry regiment, the l4me Chevaux Marins, were the bribes that were actually offered to me; and must I say it? Blanche, the lovely, the perfidious Blanche, was one of the agents employed to tempt me to commit this act of treason.
“Object to enter a foreign service!” she said, in reply to my refusal. “It is you, Philip, who are in a foreign service. The Irish nation is in exile, and in the territories of its French allies. Irish traitors are not here; they march alone under the accursed flag of the Saxon, whom the great Napoleon would have swept from the face of the earth, but for the fatal valor of Irish mercenaries! Accept this offer, and my heart, my hand, my all are yours. Refuse it, Philip, and we part.”
“To wed the abominable Cambaceres!” I cried, stung with rage. “To wear a duchess’s coronet, Blanche! Ha, ha! Mushrooms, instead of strawberry-leaves, should decorate the brows of the upstart French nobility. I shall withdraw my parole. I demand to be sent to prison — to be exchanged — to die — anything rather than be a traitor, and the tool of a traitress!” Taking up my hat, I left the room in a fury; and flinging open the door tumbled over Cambaceres, who was listening at the key-hole, and must have overheard every word of our conversation.
We tumbled over each other, as Blanche was shrieking with laughter at our mutual discomfiture. Her scorn only made me more mad; and, having spurs on, I began digging them into Cambaceres’ fat sides as we rolled on the carpet, until the Marshal howled with rage and anger.
“This insult must be avenged with blood!” roared the Duke of Illyria.
“I have already drawn it,” says I, “with my spurs.”
“Malheur et malediction!” roared the Marshal.
“Hadn’t you better settle your wig?” says I, offering it to him on the tip of my cane, “and we’ll arrange time and place when you have put your jasey in order.” I shall never forget the look of revenge which he cast at me, as I was thus turning him into ridicule before his mistress.
“Lady Blanche,” I continued bitterly, “as you look to share the Duke’s coronet, hadn’t you better see to his wig?” and so saying, I cocked my hat, and walked out of the Marquis’s place, whistling “Garryowen.”
I knew my man would not be long in following me, and waited for him in the Place Vendome, where I luckily met Eugene too, who was looking at the picture-shop in the corner. I explained to him my affair in a twinkling. He at once agreed to go with me to the ground, and commended me, rather than otherwise, for refusing the offer which had been made to me. “I knew it would be so,” he said, kindly; “I told my father you wouldn’t. A man with the blood of the Fogarties, Phil my boy, doesn’t wheel about like those fellows of yesterday.” So, when Cambaceres came out, which he did presently, with a more furious air than before, I handed him at once over to Eugene, who begged him to name a friend, and an early hour for the meeting to take place.
“Can you make it before eleven, Phil?” said Beauharnais. “The Emperor reviews the troops in the Bois de Boulogne at that hour, and we might fight there handy before the review.”
“Done!” said I. “I want of all things to see the newly-arrived Saxon cavalry manoeuvre:” on which Cambaceres, giving me a look, as much as to say, “See sights! Watch cavalry manoeuvres! Make your soul, and take measure for a coffin, my boy!” walked away, naming our mutual acquaintance, Marshal Ney, to Eugene, as his second in the business.
I had purchased from Murat a very fine Irish horse, Bugaboo, out of Smithereens, by Fadladeen, which ran into the French ranks at Salamanca, with poor Jack Clonakilty, of the 13th, dead, on the top of him. Bugaboo was too much and too ugly an animal for the King of Naples, who, though a showy horseman, was a bad rider across country; and I got the horse for a song. A wickeder and uglier brute never wore pig-skin; and I never put my leg over such a timber-jumper in my life. I rode the horse down to the Bois de Boulogne on the morning that the affair with Cambaceres was to come off, and Lanty held him as I went in, “sure to win,” as they say in the ring.
Cambaceres was known to be the best shot in the French army; but I, who am a pretty good hand at a snipe, thought a man was bigger, and that I could wing him if I had a mind. As soon as Ney gave the word, we both fired: I felt a whiz past my left ear, and putting up my hand there, found a large piece of my whiskers gone; whereas at the same moment, and shrieking a horrible malediction, my adversary reeled and fell.
“Mon Dieu, il est mort!” cried Ney.
“Pas de tout,” said Beauharnais. “Ecoute; il jure toujours.”
And such, indeed, was the fact: the supposed dead man lay on the ground cursing most frightfully. We went up to him: he was blind with the loss of blood, and my ball had carried off the bridge of his nose. He recovered; but he was always called the Prince of Ponterotto in the French army, afterwards. The surgeon in attendance having taken charge of this unfortunate warrior, we rode off to the review where Ney and Eugene were on duty at the head of their respective divisions; and where, by the way, Cambaceres, as the French say, “se faisait desirer.”
It was arranged that Cambaceres’ division of six battalions and nine-and-twenty squadrons should execute a ricochet movement, supported by artillery in the intervals, and converging by different epaulements on the light infantry, that formed, as usual, the centre of the line. It was by this famous manoeuvre that at Arcola, at Montenotte, at Friedland, and subsequently at Mazagran, Suwaroff, Prince Charles, and General Castanos were defeated with such victorious slaughter: but it is a movement which, I need not tell every military man, requires the greatest delicacy of execution, and which, if it fails, plunges an army into confusion.
“Where is the Duke of Illyria?” Napoleon asked. “At the head of his division, no doubt,” said Murat: at which Eugene, giving me an arch look, put his hand to his nose, and caused me almost to fall off my horse with laughter. Napoleon looked sternly at me; but at this moment the troops getting in motion, the celebrated manoeuvre began, and his Majesty’s attention was taken off from my impudence.
Milhaud’s Dragoons, their bands playing “Vive Henri Quatre,” their cuirasses gleaming in the sunshine, moved upon their own centre from the left flank in the most brilliant order, while the Carbineers of Foy, and the Grenadiers of the Guard under Drouet d’Erlon, executed a carambolade on the right, with the precision which became those veteran troops; but the Chasseurs of the young guard, marching by twos instead of threes, bore consequently upon the Bavarian Uhlans (an ill-disciplined and ill-affected body), and then, falling back in disorder, became entangled with the artillery and the left centre of the line, and in one instant thirty thousand men were in inextricable confusion.
“Clubbed, by Jabers!” roared out Lanty Clancy. “I wish we could show ’em the Fighting Onety-oneth, Captain darling.”
“Silence, fellow!” I exclaimed. I never saw the face of man express passion so vividly as now did the livid countenance of Napoleon. He tore off General Milhaud’s epaulettes, which he flung into Foy’s face. He glared about him wildly, like a demon, and shouted hoarsely for the Duke of Illyria. “He is wounded, Sire,” said General Foy, wiping a tear from his eye, which was blackened by the force of the blow; “he was wounded an hour since in a duel, Sire, by a young English prisoner, Monsieur de Fogarty.”
“Wounded! a marshal of France wounded! Where is the Englishman? Bring him out, and let a file of grenadiers —”
“Sire!” interposed Eugene.
“Let him be shot!” shrieked the Emperor, shaking his spyglass at me with the fury of a fiend.
This was too much. “Here goes!” said I, and rode slap at him.
There was a shriek of terror from the whole of the French army, and I should think at least forty thousand guns were levelled at me in an instant. But as the muskets were not loaded, and the cannon had only wadding in them, these facts, I presume, saved the life of Phil Fogarty from this discharge.
Knowing my horse, I put him at the Emperor’s head, and Bugaboo went at it like a shot. He was riding his famous white Arab, and turned quite pale as I came up and went over the horse and the Emperor, scarcely brushing the cockade which he wore.
“Bravo!” said Murat, bursting into enthusiasm at the leap.
“Cut him down!” said Sieyes, once an Abbe, but now a gigantic Cuirassier; and he made a pass at me with his sword. But he little knew an Irishman on an Irish horse. Bugaboo cleared Sieyes, and fetched the monster a slap with his near hind hoof which sent him reeling from his saddle — and away I went, with an army of a hundred and seventy-three thousand eight hundred men at my heels . . . .
It was upon one of those balmy evenings of November, which are only known in the valleys of Languedoc and among the mountains of Alsace, that two cavaliers might have been perceived by the naked eye threading one of the rocky and romantic gorges that skirt the mountain-land between the Marne and the Garonne. The rosy tints of the declining luminary were gilding the peaks and crags which lined the path, through which the horsemen wound slowly; and as these eternal battlements with which Nature had hemmed in the ravine which our travellers trod, blushed with the last tints of the fading sunlight, the valley below was gray and darkling, and the hard and devious course was sombre in twilight. A few goats, hardly visible among the peaks, were cropping the scanty herbage here and there. The pipes of shepherds, calling in their flocks as they trooped homewards to their mountain villages, sent up plaintive echoes which moaned through those rocky and lonely steeps; the stars began to glimmer in the purple heavens spread serenely overhead and the faint crescent of the moon, which had peered for some time scarce visible in the azure, gleamed out more brilliantly at every moment, until it blazed as if in triumph at the sun’s retreat. ’Tis a fair land that of France, a gentle, a green, and a beautiful; the home of arts and arms, of chivalry and romance, and (however sadly stained by the excesses of modern times) ’twas the unbought grace of nations once, and the seat of ancient renown and disciplined valor.
And of all that fair land of France, whose beauty is so bright and bravery is so famous, there is no spot greener or fairer than that one over which our travellers wended, and which stretches between the good towns of Vendemiaire and Nivose. ’Tis common now to a hundred thousand voyagers: the English tourist, with his chariot and his Harvey’s Sauce, and his imperials; the bustling commis-voyageur on the roof of the rumbling diligence; the rapid malle-poste thundering over the chaussee at twelve miles an hour — pass the ground hourly and daily now: ’twas lonely and unfrequented at the end of that seventeenth century with which our story commences.
Along the darkening mountain-paths the two gentlemen (for such their outward bearing proclaimed them) caracoled together. The one, seemingly the younger of the twain, wore a flaunting feather in his barret-cap, and managed a prancing Andalusian palfrey that bounded and curveted gayly. A surcoat of peach-colored samite and a purfled doublet of vair bespoke him noble, as did his brilliant eye, his exquisitely chiselled nose, and his curling chestnut ringlets.
Youth was on his brow; his eyes were dark and dewy, like spring-violets; and spring-roses bloomed upon his cheek — roses, alas! that bloom and die with life’s spring! Now bounding over a rock, now playfully whisking off with his riding rod a floweret in his path, Philibert de Coquelicot rode by his darker companion.
His comrade was mounted upon a destriere of the true Norman breed, that had first champed grass on the green pastures of Aquitaine. Thence through Berry, Picardy, and the Limousin, halting at many a city and commune, holding joust and tourney in many a castle and manor of Navarre, Poitou, and St. Germain l’Auxerrois, the warrior and his charger reached the lonely spot where now we find them.
The warrior who bestrode the noble beast was in sooth worthy of the steed which bore him. Both were caparisoned in the fullest trappings of feudal war. The arblast, the mangonel, the demiculverin, and the cuissart of the period, glittered upon the neck and chest of the war-steed; while the rider, with chamfron and catapult, with ban and arriere-ban, morion and tumbrel, battle-axe and rifflard, and the other appurtenances of ancient chivalry, rode stately on his steel-clad charger, himself a tower of steel. This mighty horseman was carried by his steed as lightly as the young springald by his Andalusian hackney.
“’Twas well done of thee, Philibert,” said he of the proof-armor, “to ride forth so far to welcome thy cousin and companion in arms.”
“Companion in battledore and shuttlecock, Romane de Clos-Vougeot!” replied the younger Cavalier. “When I was yet a page, thou wert a belted knight; and thou wert away to the Crusades ere ever my beard grew.”
“I stood by Richard of England at the gates of Ascalon, and drew the spear from sainted King Louis in the tents of Damietta,” the individual addressed as Romane replied. “Well-a-day! since thy beard grew, boy, (and marry ’tis yet a thin one,) I have broken a lance with Solyman at Rhodes, and smoked a chibouque with Saladin at Acre. But enough of this. Tell me of home — of our native valley — of my hearth, and my lady-mother, and my good chaplain — tell me of HER, Philibert,” said the knight, executing a demivolt, in order to hide his emotion.
Philibert seemed uneasy, and to strive as though he would parry the question. “The castle stands on the rock,” he said, “and the swallows still build in the battlements. The good chaplain still chants his vespers at morn, and snuffles his matins at even-song. The lady-mother still distributeth tracts, and knitteth Berlin linsey-woolsey. The tenants pay no better, and the lawyers dun as sorely, kinsman mine,” he added with an arch look.
“But Fatima, Fatima, how fares she?” Romane continued. “Since Lammas was a twelvemonth, I hear nought of her; my letters are unanswered. The postman hath traversed our camp every day, and never brought me a billet. How is Fatima, Philibert de Coquelicot?”
“She is — well,” Philibert replied; “her sister Anne is the fairest of the twain, though.”
“Her sister Anne was a baby when I embarked for Egypt. A plague on sister Anne! Speak of Fatima, Philibert — my blue-eyed Fatima!”
“I say she is — well,” answered his comrade gloomily.
“Is she dead? Is she ill? Hath she the measles? Nay, hath she had the small-pox, and lost her beauty? Speak; speak, boy!” cried the knight, wrought to agony.
“Her cheek is as red as her mother’s, though the old Countess paints hers every day. Her foot is as light as a sparrow’s, and her voice as sweet as a minstrel’s dulcimer; but give me nathless the Lady Anne,” cried Philibert; “give me the peerless Lady Anne! As soon as ever I have won spurs, I will ride all Christendom through, and proclaim her the Queen of Beauty. Ho, Lady Anne! Lady Anne!” and so saying — but evidently wishing to disguise some emotion, or conceal some tale his friend could ill brook to hear — the reckless damoiseau galloped wildly forward.
But swift as was his courser’s pace, that of his companion’s enormous charger was swifter. “Boy,” said the elder, “thou hast ill tidings. I know it by thy glance. Speak: shall he who hath bearded grim Death in a thousand fields shame to face truth from a friend? Speak, in the name of heaven and good Saint Botibol. Romane de Clos-Vougeot will bear your tidings like a man!”
“Fatima is well,” answered Philibert once again; “she hath had no measles: she lives and is still fair.”
“Fair, ay, peerless fair; but what more, Philibert? Not false? By Saint Botibol, say not false,” groaned the elder warrior.
“A month syne,” Philibert replied, “she married the Baron de Barbazure.”
With that scream which is so terrible in a strong man in agony, the brave knight Romane de Clos-Vougeot sank back at the words, and fell from his charger to the ground, a lifeless mass of steel.
Like many another fabric of feudal war and splendor, the once vast and magnificent Castle of Barbazure is now a moss-grown ruin. The traveller of the present day, who wanders by the banks of the silvery Loire, and climbs the steep on which the magnificent edifice stood, can scarcely trace, among the shattered masses of ivy-covered masonry which lie among the lonely crags, even the skeleton of the proud and majestic palace stronghold of the Barons of Barbazure.
In the days of our tale its turrets and pinnacles rose as stately, and seemed (to the pride of sinful man!) as strong as the eternal rocks on which they stood. The three mullets on a gules wavy reversed, surmounted by the sinople couchant Or; the well-known cognizance of the house, blazed in gorgeous heraldry on a hundred banners, surmounting as many towers. The long lines of battlemented walls spread down the mountain to the Loire, and were defended by thousands of steel-clad serving-men. Four hundred knights and six times as many archers fought round the banner of Barbazure at Bouvines, Malplaquet, and Azincour. For his services at Fontenoy against the English, the heroic Charles Martel appointed the fourteenth Baron Hereditary Grand Bootjack of the kingdom of France; and for wealth, and for splendor, and for skill and fame in war, Raoul, the twenty-eighth Baron, was in no-wise inferior to his noble ancestors.
That the Baron Raoul levied toll upon the river and mail upon the shore; that he now and then ransomed a burgher, plundered a neighbor, or drew the fangs of a Jew; that he burned an enemy’s castle with the wife and children within; — these were points for which the country knew and respected the stout Baron. When he returned from victory, he was sure to endow the Church with a part of his spoil, so that when he went forth to battle he was always accompanied by her blessing. Thus lived the Baron Raoul, the pride of the country in which he dwelt, an ornament to the Court, the Church, and his neighbors.
But in the midst of all his power and splendor there was a domestic grief which deeply afflicted the princely Barbazure. His lovely ladies died one after the other. No sooner was he married than he was a widower; in the course of eighteen years no less than nine bereavements had befallen the chieftain. So true it is, that if fortune is a parasite, grief is a republican, and visits the hall of the great and wealthy as it does the humbler tenements of the poor.
“Leave off deploring thy faithless, gad-about lover,” said the Lady of Chacabacque to her daughter, the lovely Fatima, “and think how the noble Barbazure loves thee! Of all the damsels at the ball last night, he had eyes for thee and thy cousin only.”
“I am sure my cousin hath no good looks to be proud of!” the admirable Fatima exclaimed, bridling up. “Not that I care for my Lord of Barbazure’s looks. MY heart, dearest mother, is with him who is far away!”
“He danced with thee four galliards, nine quadrilles, and twenty-three corantoes, I think, child,” the mother said, eluding her daughter’s remark.
“Twenty-five,” said lovely Fatima, casting her beautiful eyes to the ground. “Heigh-ho! but Romane danced them very well!”
“He had not the court air,” the mother suggested.
“I don’t wish to deny the beauty of the Lord of Burbazure’s dancing, mamma,” Fatima replied. “For a short, lusty man, ’tis wondrous how active he is; and in dignity the King’s Grace himself could not surpass him.”
“You were the noblest couple in the room, love,” the lady cried.
“That pea-green doublet, slashed with orange-tawny, those ostrich plumes, blue, red, and yellow, those party-colored hose and pink shoon, became the noble baron wondrous well,” Fatima acknowledged. “It must be confessed that, though middle-aged, he hath all the agility of youth. But alas, madam! The noble baron hath had nine wives already.”
“And your cousin would give her eyes to become the tenth,” the mother replied.
“My cousin give her eyes!” Fatima exclaimed. “It’s not much, I’m sure, for she squints abominably.” And thus the ladies prattled, as they rode home at night after the great ball at the house of the Baron of Barbazure.
The gentle reader, who has overheard their talk, will understand the doubts which pervaded the mind of the lovely Fatima, and the well-nurtured English maiden will participate in the divided feelings which rent her bosom. ’Tis true, that on his departure for the holy wars, Romane and Fatima were plighted to each other; but the folly of long engagements is proverbial; and though for many months the faithful and affectionate girl had looked in vain for news from him, her admirable parents had long spoken with repugnance of a match which must bring inevitable poverty to both parties. They had suffered, ’tis true, the engagement to subside, hostile as they ever were to it; but when on the death of the ninth lady of Barbazure, the noble baron remarked Fatima at the funeral, and rode home with her after the ceremony, her prudent parents saw how much wiser, better, happier for their child it would be to have for life a partner like the baron, than to wait the doubtful return of the penniless wanderer to whom she was plighted.
Ah! how beautiful and pure a being! how regardless of self! how true to duty! how obedient to parental command, is that earthly angel, a well-bred woman of genteel family! Instead of indulging in splenetic refusals or vain regrets for her absent lover, the exemplary Fatima at once signified to her excellent parents her willingness to obey their orders; though she had sorrows (and she declared them to be tremendous), the admirable being disguised them so well, that none knew they oppressed her. She said she would try to forget former ties, and (so strong in her mind was DUTY above every other feeling! — so strong may it be in every British maiden!) the lovely girl kept her promise. “My former engagements,” she said, packing up Romane’s letters and presents, (which, as the good knight was mortal poor, were in sooth of no great price)—“my former engagements I look upon as childish follies; — my affections are fixed where my dear parents graft them — on the noble, the princely, the polite Barbazure. ’Tis true he is not comely in feature, but the chaste and well-bred female knows how to despise the fleeting charms of form. ’Tis true he is old; but can woman be better employed than in tending her aged and sickly companion? That he has been married is likewise certain — but ah, my mother! who knows not that he must be a good and tender husband, who, nine times wedded, owns that, he cannot be happy without another partner?”
It was with these admirable sentiments the lovely Fatima proposed obedience to her parents’ will, and consented to receive the magnificent marriage-gift presented to her by her gallant bridegroom.
The old Countess of Chacabacque had made a score of vain attempts to see her hapless daughter. Ever, when she came, the porters grinned at her savagely through the grating of the portcullis of the vast embattled gate of the Castle of Barbazure, and rudely bade her begone. “The Lady of Barbazure sees nobody but her confessor, and keeps her chamber,” was the invariable reply of the dogged functionaries to the entreaties of the agonized mother. And at length, so furious was he at her perpetual calls at his gate, that the angry Lord of Barbazure himself, who chanced to be at the postern, armed a cross-bow, and let fly an arblast at the crupper of the lady’s palfrey, whereon she fled finally, screaming, and in terror. “I will aim at the rider next time!” howled the ferocious baron, “and not at the horse!” And those who knew his savage nature and his unrivalled skill as a bowman, knew that he would neither break his knightly promise nor miss his aim.
Since the fatal day when the Grand Duke of Burgundy gave his famous passage of arms at Nantes, and all the nobles of France were present at the joustings, it was remarked that the Barbazure’s heart was changed towards his gentle and virtuous lady.
For the three first days of that famous festival, the redoubted Baron of Barbazure had kept the field against all the knights who entered. His lance bore everything down before it. The most famous champions of Europe, assembled at these joustings, had dropped, one by one, before this tremendous warrior. The prize of the tourney was destined to be his, and he was to be proclaimed bravest of the brave, as his lady was the fairest of the fair.
On the third day, however, as the sun was declining over the Vosges, and the shadows were lengthening over the plain where the warrior had obtained such triumphs; — after having overcome two hundred and thirteen knights of different nations, including the fiery Dunois, the intrepid Walter Manny, the spotless Bayard, and the undaunted Dugueselin, as the conqueror sat still erect on his charger, and the multitudes doubted whether ever another champion could be found to face him, three blasts of a trumpet were heard, faint at first, but at every moment ringing more clearly, until a knight in pink armor rode into the lists with his visor down, and riding a tremendous dun charger, which he managed to the admiration of all present.
The heralds asked him his name and quality.
“Call me,” said he, in a hollow voice, “the Jilted Knight.” What was it made the Lady of Barbazure tremble at his accents.
The knight refused to tell his name and qualities; but the companion who rode with him, the young and noble Philibert de Coquelicot, who was known and respected universally through the neighborhood, gave a warranty for the birth and noble degree of the Jilted Knight — and Raoul de Barbazure, yelling hoarsely for a two-hundred-and-fourteenth lance, shook the huge weapon in the air as though it were a reed, and prepared to encounter the intruder.
According to the wont of chivalry, and to keep the point of the spear from harm, the top of the unknown knight’s lance was shielded with a bung, which the warrior removed; and galloping up to Barbazure’s pavilion, over which his shield hung, touched that noble cognizance with the sharpened steel. A thrill of excitement ran through the assembly at this daring challenge to a combat a l’outrance. “Hast thou confessed, Sir Knight?” roared the Barbazure; “take thy ground, and look to thyself; for by heaven thy last hour is come!” “Poor youth, poor youth!” sighed the spectators; “he has called down his own fate.” The next minute the signal was given, and as the simoom across the desert, the cataract down the rock, the shell from the howitzer, each warrior rushed from his goal.
“Thou wilt not slay so good a champion?” said the Grand Duke, as at the end of that terrific combat the knight in rose armor stood over his prostrate foe, whose helmet had rolled off when he was at length unhorsed, and whose bloodshot eyes glared unutterable hate and ferocity on his conqueror.
“Take thy life,” said he who had styled himself the Jilted Knight; “thou hast taken all that was dear to me.” And the sun setting, and no other warrior appearing to do battle against him, he was proclaimed the conqueror, and rode up to the duchess’s balcony to receive the gold chain which was the reward of the victor. He raised his visor as the smiling princess guerdoned him — raised it, and gave ONE sad look towards the Lady Fatima at her side!
“Romane de Clos-Vougeot!” shrieked she, and fainted. The Baron of Barbazure heard the name as he writhed on the ground with his wound, and by his slighted honor, by his broken ribs, by his roused fury, he swore revenge; and the Lady Fatima, who had come to the tourney as a queen, returned to her castle as a prisoner.
(As it is impossible to give the whole of this remarkable novel, let it suffice to say briefly here, that in about a volume and a half, in which the descriptions of scenery, the account of the agonies of the baroness, kept on bread and water in her dungeon, and the general tone of morality, are all excellently worked out, the Baron de Barbazure resolves upon putting his wife to death by the hands of the public executioner.)
Two minutes before the clock struck noon, the savage baron was on the platform to inspect the preparation for the frightful ceremony of mid-day.
The block was laid forth — the hideous minister of vengeance, masked and in black, with the flaming glaive in his hand, was ready. The baron tried the edge of the blade with his finger, and asked the dreadful swordsman if his hand was sure? A nod was the reply of the man of blood. The weeping garrison and domestics shuddered and shrank from him. There was not one there but loved and pitied the gentle lady.
Pale, pale as a stone, she was brought from her dungeon. To all her lord’s savage interrogatories, her reply had been, “I am innocent.” To his threats of death, her answer was, “You are my lord; my life is in your hands, to take or to give.” How few are the wives, in our day, who show such angelic meekness! It touched all hearts around her, save that of the implacable Barbazure! Even the Lady Blanche, (Fatima’s cousin), whom he had promised to marry upon his faithless wife’s demise, besought for her kinswoman’s life, and a divorce; but Barbazure had vowed her death.
“Is there no pity, sir?” asked the chaplain who had attended her.
“No pity?” echoed the weeping serving-maid.
“Did I not aye say I would die for my lord?” said the gentle lady, and placed herself at the block.
Sir Raoul de Barbazure seized up the long ringlets of her raven hair. “Now!” shouted he to the executioner, with a stamp of his foot —“Now strike!”
The man (who knew his trade) advanced at once, and poised himself to deliver his blow: and making his flashing sword sing in the air, with one irresistible, rapid stroke, it sheared clean off the head of the furious, the bloodthirsty, the implacable Baron de Barbazure!
Thus he fell a victim to his own jealousy: and the agitation of the Lady Fatima may be imagined, when the executioner, flinging off his mask, knelt gracefully at her feet, and revealed to her the well-known features of Romane de Clos-Vougeot.
“CORBLEU! What a lovely creature that was in the Fitzbattleaxe box to-night,” said one of a group of young dandies who were leaning over the velvet-cushioned balconies of the “Coventry Club,” smoking their full-flavored Cubas (from Hudson’s) after the opera.
Everybody stared at such an exclamation of enthusiasm from the lips of the young Earl of Bagnigge, who was never heard to admire anything except a coulis de dindonneau a la St. Menehould, or a supreme de cochon en torticolis a la Piffarde; such as Champollion, the chef of the “Traveller’s,” only knows how to dress; or the bouquet of a flask of Medoc, of Carbonell’s best quality; or a goutte of Marasquin, from the cellars of Briggs and Hobson.
Alured de Pentonville, eighteenth Earl of Bagnigge, Viscount Paon of Islington, Baron Pancras, Kingscross, and a Baronet, was, like too many of our young men of ton, utterly blase, although only in his twenty-fourth year. Blest, luckily, with a mother of excellent principles (who had imbued his young mind with that Morality which is so superior to all the vain pomps of the world!) it had not been always the young earl’s lot to wear the coronet for which he now in sooth cared so little. His father, a captain of Britain’s navy, struck down by the side of the gallant Collingwood in the Bay of Fundy, left little but his sword and spotless name to his young, lovely, and inconsolable widow, who passed the first years of her mourning in educating her child in an elegant though small cottage in one of the romantic marine villages of beautiful Devonshire. Her child! What a gush of consolation filled the widow’s heart as she pressed him to it! How faithfully did she instil into his young bosom those principles which had been the pole-star of the existence of his gallant father!
In this secluded retreat, rank and wealth almost boundless found the widow and her boy. The seventeenth Earl — gallant and ardent, and in the prime of youth — went forth one day from the Eternal City to a steeple-chase in the Campagna. A mutilated corpse was brought back to his hotel in the Piazza di Spagna. Death, alas! is no respecter of the Nobility. That shattered form was all that remained of the fiery, the haughty, the wild, but the generous Altamont de Pentonville! Such, such is fate!
The admirable Emily de Pentonville trembled with all a mother’s solicitude at the distinctions and honors which thus suddenly descended on her boy. She engaged an excellent clergyman of the Church of England to superintend his studies; to accompany him on foreign travel when the proper season arrived; to ward from him those dangers which dissipation always throws in the way of the noble, the idle, and the wealthy. But the Reverend Cyril Delaval died of the measles at Naples, and henceforth the young Earl of Bagnigge was without a guardian.
What was the consequence? That, at three-and-twenty, he was a cynic and an epicure. He had drained the cup of pleasure till it had palled in his unnerved hand. He had looked at the Pyramids without awe, at the Alps without reverence. He was unmoved by the sandy solitudes of the Desert as by the placid depths of Mediterranean’s sea of blue. Bitter, bitter tears did Emily de Pentonville weep, when, on Alured’s return from the Continent, she beheld the awful change that dissipation had wrought in her beautiful, her blue-eyed, her perverted, her still beloved boy!
“Corpo di Bacco,” he said, pitching the end of his cigar on to the red nose of the Countess of Delawaddymore’s coachman — who, having deposited her fat ladyship at No. 236 Piccadilly, was driving the carriage to the stables, before commencing his evening at the “Fortune of War” public-house —“what a lovely creature that was! What eyes! what hair! Who knows her? Do you, mon cher prince?”
“E bellissima, certamente,” said the Duca de Montepulciano, and stroked down his jetty moustache.
“Ein gar schones Madchen,” said the Hereditary Grand Duke of Eulenschreckenstein, and turned up his carroty one.
“Elle n’est pas mal, ma foi!” said the Prince de Borodino, with a scowl on his darkling brows. “Mon Dieu, que ces cigarres sont mauvais!” he added as he too cast away his Cuba.
“Try one of my Pickwicks,” said Franklin Fox, with a sneer, offering his gold etui to the young Frenchman; “they are some of Pontet’s best, Prince. What, do you bear malice? Come, let us be friends,” said the gay and careless young patrician; but a scowl on the part of the Frenchman was the only reply.
“Want to know who she is? Borodino knows who she is, Bagnigge,” the wag went on.
Everybody crowded around Monsieur de Borodino thus apostrophized. The Marquis of Alicompayne, young De Boots of the Lifeguards, Tom Protocol of the Foreign Office; the gay young Peers, Farintosh, Poldoody, and the rest; and Bagnigge, for a wonder, not less eager than any one present.
“No, he will tell you nothing about her. Don’t you see he has gone off in a fury!” Franklin Fox continued. “He has his reasons, ce cher prince: he will tell you nothing; but I will. You know that I am au mieux with the dear old duchess.”
“They say Frank and she are engaged after the duke’s death,” cried Poldoody.
“I always thought Fwank was the duke’s illicit gweatgwandson,” drawled out De Boots.
“I heard that he doctored her Blenheim, and used to bring her wigs from Paris,” cried that malicious Tom Protocol, whose mots are known in every diplomatic salon from Petersburg to Palermo.
“Burn her wigs and hang her poodle!” said Bagnigge. “Tell me about this girl, Franklin Fox.”
“In the first place, she has five hundred thousand acres, in a ring fence in Norfolk; a county in Scotland, a castle in Wales, a villa at Richmond, a corner house in Belgrave Square, and eighty thousand a year in the three-per-cents.”
“Apres?” said Bagnigge, still yawning.
“Secondly, Borodino lui fait la cour. They are cousins, her mother was an Armagnac of the emigration; the old Marshal, his father, married another sister. I believe he was footman in the family, before Napoleon princified him.”
“No, no, he was second coachman,” Tom Protocol good-naturedly interposed —“a cavalry officer, Frank, not an infantry man.”
“‘Faith you should have seen his fury (the young one’s, I mean) when he found me in the duchess’s room this evening, tete-a-tete with the heiress, who deigned to receive a bouquet from this hand.”
“It cost me three guineas,” poor Frank said, with a shrug and a sigh, “and that Covent Garden scoundrel gives no credit: but she took the flowers; — eh, Bagnigge?”
“And flung them to Alboni,” the Peer replied, with a haughty sneer. And poor little Franklin Fox was compelled to own that she had.
The maitre d’hotel here announced that supper was served. It was remarked that even the coulis de dindonneau made no impression on Bagnigge that night.
The sensation produced by the debut of Amethyst Pimlico at the court of the sovereign, and in the salons of the beau-monde, was such as has seldom been created by the appearance of any other beauty. The men were raving with love, and the women with jealousy. Her eyes, her beauty, her wit, her grace, her ton, caused a perfect fureur of admiration or envy.
Introduced by the Duchess of Fitzbattleaxe, along with her Grace’s daughters, the Ladies Gwendoline and Gwinever Portcullis, the heiress’s regal beauty quite flung her cousins’ simple charms into the shade, and blazed with a splendor which caused all “minor lights” to twinkle faintly. Before a day the beau-monde, before a week even the vulgarians of the rest of the town, rang with the fame of her charms; and while the dandies and the beauties were raving about her, or tearing her to pieces in May Fair, even Mrs. Dobbs (who had been to the pit of the “Hoperer” in a green turban and a crumpled yellow satin) talked about the great HAIRESS to her D. in Bloomsbury Square.
Crowds went to Squab and Lynch’s, in Long Acre, to examine the carriages building for her, so faultless, so splendid, so quiet, so odiously unostentatious and provokingly simple! Besides the ancestral services of argenterie and vaisselle plate, contained in a hundred and seventy-six plate-chests at Messrs. Childs’, Rumble and Briggs prepared a gold service, and Garraway, of the Haymarket, a service of the Benvenuto Cellini pattern, which were the admiration of all London. Before a month it is a fact that the wretched haberdashers in the city exhibited the blue stocks, called “Heiress-killers, very chaste, two-and-six:” long before that, the monde had rushed to Madame Crinoline’s, or sent couriers to Madame Marabou, at Paris, so as to have copies of her dresses; but, as the Mantuan bard observes, “Non cuivis contigit,”— every foot cannot accommodate itself to the chaussure of Cinderella.
With all this splendor, this worship, this beauty; with these cheers following her, and these crowds at her feet, was Amethyst happy? Ah, no! It is not under the necklace the most brilliant that Briggs and Rumble can supply, it is not in Lynch’s best cushioned chariot that the heart is most at ease. “Que je me ruinerai,” says Fronsac in a letter to Bossuet, “si je savais ou acheter le bonheur!”
With all her riches, with all her splendor, Amethyst was wretched — wretched, because lonely; wretched, because her loving heart had nothing to cling to. Her splendid mansion was a convent; no male person even entered it, except Franklin Fox, (who counted for nothing,) and the duchess’s family, her kinsman old Lord Humpington, his friend old Sir John Fogey, and her cousin, the odious, odious Borodino.
The Prince de Borodino declared openly that Amethyst was engaged to him. Crible de dettes, it is no wonder that he should choose such an opportunity to refaire sa fortune. He gave out that he would kill any man who should cast an eye on the heiress, and the monster kept his word. Major Grigg, of the Lifeguards, had already fallen by his hand at Ostend. The O’Toole, who had met her on the Rhine, had received a ball in his shoulder at Coblentz, and did not care to resume so dangerous a courtship. Borodino could snuff a bougie at a hundred and fifty yards. He could beat Bertrand or Alexander Dumas himself with the small-sword: he was the dragon that watched this pomme d’or, and very few persons were now inclined to face a champion si redoutable.
Over a salmi d’escargot at the “Coventry,” the dandies whom we introduced in our last volume were assembled, there talking of the heiress; and her story was told by Franklin Fox to Lord Bagnigge, who, for a wonder, was interested in the tale. Borodino’s pretensions were discussed, and the way in which the fair Amethyst was confined. Fitzbattleaxe House, in Belgrave Square, is — as everybody knows — the next mansion to that occupied by Amethyst. A communication was made between the two houses. She never went out except accompanied by the duchess’s guard, which it was impossible to overcome.
“Impossible! Nothing’s impossible,” said Lord Bagnigge.
“I bet you what you like you don’t get in,” said the young Marquis of Martingale.
“I bet you a thousand ponies I stop a week in the heiress’s house before the season’s over,” Lord Bagnigge replied with a yawn; and the bet was registered with shouts of applause.
But it seemed as if the Fates had determined against Lord Bagnigge, for the very next day, riding in the Park, his horse fell with him; he was carried home to his house with a fractured limb and a dislocated shoulder; and the doctor’s bulletins pronounced him to be in the most dangerous state.
Martingale was a married man, and there was no danger of HIS riding by the Fitzbattleaxe carriage. A fortnight after the above events, his lordship was prancing by her Grace’s great family coach, and chattering with Lady Gwinever about the strange wager.
“Do you know what a pony is, Lady Gwinever?” he asked. Her ladyship said yes: she had a cream-colored one at Castle Barbican; and stared when Lord Martingale announced that he should soon have a thousand ponies, worth five-and-twenty pounds each, which were all now kept at Coutts’s. Then he explained the circumstances of the bet with Bagnigge. Parliament was to adjourn in ten days; the season would be over! Bagnigge was lying ill chez lui; and the five-and-twenty thousand were irrecoverably his. And he vowed he would buy Lord Binnacle’s yacht — crew, captain, guns and all.
On returning home that night from Lady Polkimore’s, Martingale found among the many billets upon the gold plateau in his antichambre, the following brief one, which made him start —
“DEAR MARTINGALE. — Don’t be too sure of Binnacle’s yacht. There are still ten days before the season is over; and my ponies may lie at Coutts’s for some time to come.
“P. S. — I write with my left hand; for my right is still splintered up from that confounded fall.”
The tall footman, number four, who had come in the place of John, cashiered, (for want of proper mollets, and because his hair did not take powder well,) had given great satisfaction to the under-butler, who reported well of him to his chief, who had mentioned his name with praise to the house-steward. He was so good-looking and well-spoken a young man, that the ladies in the housekeeper’s room deigned to notice him more than once; nor was his popularity diminished on account of a quarrel in which he engaged with Monsieur Anatole, the enormous Walloon chasseur, who was one day found embracing Miss Flouncy, who waited on Amethyst’s own maid. The very instant Miss Flouncy saw Mr. Jeames entering the Servants’ Hall, where Monsieur Anatole was engaged in “aggravating” her, Miss Flouncy screamed: at the next moment the Belgian giant lay sprawling upon the carpet; and Jeames, standing over him, assumed so terrible a look, that the chasseur declined any further combat. The victory was made known to the house-steward himself, who, being a little partial to Miss Flouncy herself, complimented Jeames on his valor, and poured out a glass of Madeira in his own room.
Who was Jeames? He had come recommended by the Bagnigge people. He had lived, he said, in that family two years. “But where there was no ladies,” he said, “a gentleman’s hand was spiled for service;” and Jeames’s was a very delicate hand; Miss Flouncy admired it very much, and of course he did not defile it by menial service: he had in a young man who called him sir, and did all the coarse work; and Jeames read the morning paper to the ladies; not spellingly and with hesitation, as many gentlemen do, but easily and elegantly, speaking off the longest words without a moment’s difficulty. He could speak French, too, Miss Flouncy found, who was studying it under Mademoiselle Grande fille-de-chambre de confiance; for when she said to him, “Polly voo Fransy, Munseer Jeames?” he replied readily, “We, Mademaselle, j’ay passay boco de tong a Parry. Commong voo potty voo?” How Miss Flouncy admired him as he stood before her, the day after he had saved Miss Amethyst when the horses had run away with her in the Park!
Poor Flouncy, poor Flouncy! Jeames had been but a week in Amethyst’s service, and already the gentle heart of the washing-girl was irrecoverably gone! Poor Flouncy! Poor Flouncy! he thought not of thee.
It happened thus. Miss Amethyst being engaged to drive with her cousin the prince in his phaeton, her own carriage was sent into the Park simply with her companion, who had charge of her little Fido, the dearest little spaniel in the world. Jeames and Frederick were behind the carriage with their long sticks and neat dark liveries; the horses were worth a thousand guineas each, the coachman a late lieutenant-colonel of cavalry: the whole ring could not boast a more elegant turn-out.
The prince drove his curricle, and had charge of his belle cousine. It may have been the red fezzes in the carriage of the Turkish ambassador which frightened the prince’s grays, or Mrs. Champignon’s new yellow liveries, which were flaunting in the Park, or hideous Lady Gorgon’s preternatural ugliness, who passed in a low pony-carriage at the time, or the prince’s own want of skill, finally; but certain it is that the horses took fright, dashed wildly along the mile, scattered equipages, pietons, dandies’ cabs, and snobs’ pheaytons. Amethyst was screaming; and the prince, deadly pale, had lost all presence of mind, as the curricle came rushing by the spot where Miss Amethyst’s carriage stood.
“I’m blest,” Frederick exclaimed to his companion, “if it ain’t the prince a-drivin our missis! They’ll be in the Serpingtine, or dashed to pieces, if they don’t mind.” And the runaway steeds at this instant came upon them as a whirlwind.
But if those steeds ran at a whirlwind pace, Jeames was swifter. To jump from behind, to bound after the rocking, reeling curricle, to jump into it, aided by the long stick which he carried and used as a leaping-pole, and to seize the reins out of the hands of the miserable Borodino, who shrieked piteously as the dauntless valet leapt on his toes and into his seat, was the work of an instant. In a few minutes the mad, swaying rush of the horses was reduced to a swift but steady gallop; presently into a canter, then a trot; until finally they pulled up smoking and trembling, but quite quiet, by the side of Amethyst’s carriage, which came up at a rapid pace.
“Give me the reins, malappris! tu m’ecrases le corps, manant!” yelled the frantic nobleman, writhing underneath the intrepid charioteer.
“Tant pis pour toi, nigaud,” was the reply. The lovely Amethyst of course had fainted; but she recovered as she was placed in her carriage, and rewarded her preserver with a celestial smile.
The rage, the fury, the maledictions of Borodino, as he saw the latter — a liveried menial — stoop gracefully forward and kiss Amethyst’s hand, may be imagined rather than described. But Jeames heeded not his curses. Having placed his adored mistress in the carriage, he calmly resumed his station behind. Passion or danger seemed to have no impression upon that pale marble face.
Borodino went home furious; nor was his rage diminished, when, on coming to dinner that day, a recherche banquet served in the Frangipane best style, and requesting a supply of a puree a la bisque aux ecrevisses, the clumsy attendant who served him let fall the assiette of vermeille cisele, with its scalding contents, over the prince’s chin, his Mechlin jabot, and the grand cordon of the Legion of honor which he wore.
“Infame,” howled Borodino, “tu l’as fait expres!”
“Oui, je l’ai fait expres,” said the man, with the most perfect Parisian accent. It was Jeames.
Such insolence of course could not be passed unnoticed even after the morning’s service, and he was chassed on the spot. He had been but a week in the house.
The next month the newspapers contained a paragraph which may possibly elucidate the above mystery, and to the following effect:—
“Singular Wager. — One night, at the end of last season, the young and eccentric Earl of B-gn-gge laid a wager of twenty-five thousand pounds with a broken sporting patrician, the dashing Marquis of M-rt-ng-le, that he would pass a week under the roof of a celebrated and lovely young heiress, who lives not a hundred miles from B-lgr-ve Squ-re. The bet having been made, the earl pretended an illness, and having taken lessons from one of his lordship’s own footmen (Mr. James Plush, whose name he also borrowed) in ‘the MYSTERIES of the PROFESSION,’ actually succeeded in making an entry into Miss P-ml-co’s mansion, where he stopped one week exactly; having time to win his bet, and to save the life of the lady, whom we hear he is about to lead to the altar. He disarmed the Prince of Borodino in a duel fought on Calais sands — and, it is said, appeared at the C—— club wearing his PLUSH COSTUME under a cloak, and displaying it as a proof that he had won his wager.”
Such, indeed, were the circumstances. The young couple have not more than nine hundred thousand a year, but they live cheerfully, and manage to do good; and Emily de Pentonville, who adores her daughter-inlaw and her little grandchildren, is blest in seeing her darling son enfin un homme range.
I’m not at libbaty to divulj the reel names of the 2 Eroes of the igstrawny Tail which I am abowt to relait to those unlightnd paytrons of letarature and true connyshures of merrit — the great Brittish public — But I pledj my varacity that this singlar story of rewmantic love, absobbing pashn, and likewise of GENTEEL LIFE, is, in the main fax, TREW. The suckmstanzas I elude to, ocurd in the rain of our presnt Gratious Madjisty and her beluvd and roil Concert Prince Halbert.
Welthen. Some time in the seazen of 18 — (mor I dar not rewheel) there arrived in this metropulus, per seknd class of the London and Dover Railway, an ellygant young foring gentleman, whom I shall danomminate Munseer Jools De Chacabac.
Having read through “The Vicker of Wackfield” in the same oridganal English tung in which this very harticle I write is wrote too, and halways been remarkyble, both at collidge and in the estamminy, for his aytred and orror of perfidgus Halbion, Munseer Jools was considered by the prapriretors of the newspaper in which he wrote, at Parris, the very man to come to this country, igsamin its manners and customs, cast an i upon the politticle and finalshle stat of the Hempire, and igspose the mackynations of the infyamous Palmerston, and the ebomminable Sir Pill — both enemies of France; as is every other Britten of that great, gloarus, libberal, and peasable country. In one word, Jools de Chacabac was a penny-a-liner.
“I will go see with my own I’s,” he said, “that infimus hiland of which the innabitants are shopkeepers, gorged with roast beef and treason. I will go and see the murderers of the Hirish, the pisoners of the Chynese, the villians who put the Hemperor to death in Saintyleany, the artful dodges who wish to smother Europe with their cotton, and can’t sleep or rest heasy for henvy and hatred of the great inwinsable French nation. I will igsammin, face to face, these hotty insularies; I will pennytrate into the secrets of their Jessywhittickle cabinet, and beard Palmerston in his denn.” When he jumpt on shor at Foaxton (after having been tremenguously sick in the fourcabbing), he exclaimed, “Enfin je te tiens, Ile maudite! je te crache a la figure, vieille Angleterre! Je te foule a mes pieds an nom du monde outrage,” and so proseaded to inwade the metropulus.
As he wisht to micks with the very chicest sosiaty, and git the best of infamation about this country, Munseer Jools of coarse went and lodgd in Lester Square — Lester Squarr, as he calls it — which, as he was infommed in the printed suckular presented to him by a very greasy but polite comishner at the Custumus Stares, was in the scenter of the town, contiggus to the Ouses of Parlyment, the prinsple theayters, the parx, St. Jams Pallice, and the Corts of Lor. “I can surwhey them all at one cut of the eye,” Jools thought; “the Sovring, the infamus Ministers plotting the destruction of my immortial country; the business and pleasure of these pusprond Londoners and aristoxy; I can look round and see all.” So he took a three-pair back in a French hotel, the “Hotel de l’Ail,” kep by Monsieur Gigotot, Cranbourne Street, Lester Squarr, London.
In this otell there’s a billiard-room on the first floor, and a tabble-doat at eighteenpence peredd at 5 o’clock; and the landlord, who kem into Jools’s room smoaking a segar, told the young gent that the house was friquented by all the Brittish nobillaty, who reglar took their dinners there. “They can’t ebide their own quiseen,” he said. “You’ll see what a dinner we’ll serve you today.” Jools wrote off to his paper —
“The members of the haughty and luxurious English aristocracy, like all the rest of the world, are obliged to fly to France for the indulgence of their luxuries. The nobles of England, quitting their homes, their wives, miladies and mistriss, so fair but so cold, dine universally at the tavern. That from which I write is frequented by Peel and Palmerston. I fremis to think that I may meet them at the board today.”
Singlar to say, Peel and Palmerston didn’t dine at the “Hotel de l’Ail” on that evening. “It’s quite igstronnary they don’t come,” said Munseer de l’Ail.
“Peraps they’re ingaged at some boxing-match or some combaw de cock,” Munseer Jools sejested; and the landlord egreed that was very likely.
Instedd of English there was, however, plenty of foring sociaty, of every nation under the sun. Most of the noblemen were great hamatures of hale and porter. The tablecloth was marked over with brown suckles, made by the pewter-pots on that and the previous days.
“It is the usage here,” wrote Jools to his newspaper, “among the Anglais of the fashonne to absorb immense quantities of ale and porter during their meals. These stupefying, but cheap, and not unpalatable liquors are served in shining pewter vessels. A mug of foaming hafanaf (so a certain sort of beer is called) was placed by the side of most of the convives. I was disappointed of seeing Sir Peel: he was engaged to a combat of cocks which occurs at Windsor.”
Not one word of English was spoke during this dinner, excep when the gentlemen said “Garsong de l’afanaf,” but Jool was very much pleased to meet the eleet of the foringers in town, and ask their opinion about the reel state of thinx. Was it likely that the bishops were to be turned out of the Chambre des Communes? Was it true that Lor Palmerston had boxed with Lor Broghamm in the House of Lords, until they were sepparayted by the Lor Maire? Who was the Lor Maire? Wasn’t he Premier Minister? and wasn’t the Archeveque de Cantorbery a Quaker? He got answers to these questions from the various gents round about during the dinner — which, he remarked, was very much like a French dinner, only dirtier. And he wrote off all the infamation he got to his newspaper.
“The Lord Maire, Lord Lansdowne, is Premier Ministre. His Grace has his dwelling in the City. The Archbishop of Cantabery is not turned Quaker, as some people stated. Quakers may not marry, nor sit in the Chamber of Peers. The minor bishops have seats in the House of Commons, where they are attacked by the bitter pleasantries of Lord Brougham. A boxer is in the house; he taught Palmerston the science of the pugilate, who conferred upon him the seat,” &c. &c.
His writing hover, Jools came down and ad a gaym at pool with two Poles, a Bulgian, and 2 of his own countrymen. This being done amidst more hafanaf, without which nothink is done in England, and as there was no French play that night, he & the two French gents walked round and round Lester Squarr smoking segaws in the faces of other French gents who were smoaking 2. And they talked about the granjer of France and the perfidgusness of England, and looked at the aluminated pictur of Madame Wharton as Haryadney till bedtime. But befor he slep, he finished his letter you may be sure, and called it his “Fust Imprestiuns of Anglyterre.”
“Mind and wake me early,” he said to Boots, the ony Brittish subject in the “Hotel de l’Ail,” and who therefore didn’t understand him. “I wish to be at Smithfield at 6 hours to see THE MEN SELL THEIR WIVES.” And the young roag fell asleep, thinking what sort of a one he’d buy.
This was the way Jools passed his days, and got infamation about Hengland and the Henglish — walking round and round Lester Squarr all day, and every day with the same company, occasionally dewussified by an Oprer Chorus-singer or a Jew or two, and every afternoon in the Quadrant admiring the genteal sosiaty there. Munseer Jools was not over well funnisht with pocket-money, and so his pleasure was of the gratis sort cheafly.
Well, one day as he and a friend was taking their turn among the aristoxy under the Quadrant — they were struck all of a heap by seeing — But, stop! who WAS Jools’s friend? Here you have pictures of both — but the Istory of Jools’s friend must be kep for another innings.
Not fur from that knowble and cheerflie Squear which Munseer Jools de Chacabac had selacted for his eboad in London — not fur, I say, from Lester Squarr, is a rainje of bildings called Pipping’s Buildings, leading to Blue Lion Court, leading to St. Martin’s Lane. You know Pipping’s Buildings by its greatest ornament, an am and beefouce (where Jools has often stood admiring the degstaraty of the carver a-cuttin the varous jints), and by the little fishmungur’s, where you remark the mouldy lobsters, the fly-blown picklesammon, the playbills, and the gingybear bottles in the window — above all, by the “Constantinople” Divan, kep by the Misses Mordeky, and well known to every lover of “a prime sigaw and an exlent cup of reel Moky Coffy for 6d.”
The Constantinople Divann is greatly used by the foring gents of Lester Squar. I never ad the good fortn to pass down Pipping’s Buildings without seeing a haf a duzen of ’em on the threshole of the extablishment, giving the street an oppertunity of testing the odar of the Misses Mordeky’s prime Avannas. Two or three mor may be visable inside, settn on the counter or the chestis, indulging in their fav’rit whead, the rich and spisy Pickwhick, the ripe Manilly, or the flagrant and arheumatic Qby.
“These Divanns are, as is very well known, the knightly resott of the young Henglish nobillaty. It is ear a young Pier, after an arjus day at the House of Commons, solazes himself with a glas of gin-and-water (the national beveridge), with cheerful conversation on the ewents of the day, or with an armless gaym of baggytell in the back-parlor.”
So wrote at least our friend Jools to his newspaper, the Horriflam; and of this back-parlor and baggytell-bord, of this counter, of this “Constantinople” Divan, he became almost as reglar a frequenter as the plaster of Parish Turk who sits smoking a hookey between the two blue coffee-cups in the winder.
I have oftin, smokin my own shroot in silents in a corner of the Diwann, listened to Jools and his friends inwaying aginst Hingland, and boastin of their own immortial country. How they did go on about Wellintun, and what an arty contamp they ad for him! — how they used to prove that France was the Light, the Scenter-pint, the Igsample and hadmiration of the whole world! And though I scarcely take a French paper now-a-days (I lived in early days as groom in a French famly three years, and therefore knows the languidg), though, I say, you can’t take up Jools’s paper, the Orriflam, without readin that a minister has committed bribery and perjury, or that a littery man has committed perjury and murder, or that a Duke has stabbed his wife in fifty places, or some story equally horrible; yet for all that it’s admiral to see how the French gents will swagger — how they will be the scenters of civilization — how they will be the Igsamples of Europ, and nothink shall prevent ’em — knowing they will have it, I say I listen, smokin my pip in silence. But to our tail.
Reglar every evening there came to the “Constantanople” a young gent etired in the igth of fashn; and indead presenting by the cleanlyness of his appearants and linning (which was generally a pink or blew shurt, with a cricketer or a dansuse pattern) rather a contrast to the dinjy and whistkcard sosaity of the Diwann. As for wiskars, this young mann had none beyond a little yallow tought to his chin, which you woodn notas, only he was always pulling at it. His statue was diminnative, but his coschume supubb, for he had the tippiest Jane boots, the ivoryheadest canes, the most gawjus scarlick Jonville ties, and the most Scotch-plaidest trowseys, of any customer of that establishment. He was univusaly called Milord.
“Que est ce jeune seigneur? Who is this young hurl who comes knightly to the ‘Constantanople,’ who is so proddigl of his gold (for indeed the young gent would frequinly propoase gininwater to the company), and who drinks so much gin?” asked Munseer Chacabac of a friend from the “Hotel de l’Ail.”
“His name is Lord Yardham,” answered that friend. “He never comes here but at night — and why?”
“Y?” igsclaimed Jools, istonisht.
“Why? because he is engaygd all day — and do you know where he is engaygd all day?”
“Where?” asked Jools.
“At the Foring Office — NOW do you begin to understand?”— Jools trembled.
He speaks of his uncle, the head of that office. —“Who IS the head of that offis? — Palmerston.”
“The nephew of Palmerston!” said Jools, almost in a fit.
“Lor Yardham pretends not to speak French,” the other went on. “He pretends he can only say wee and commong porty voo. Shallow humbug! — I have marked him during our conversations. — When we have spoken of the glory of France among the nations, I have seen his eye kindle, and his perfidious lip curl with rage. When they have discussed before him, the Imprudents! the affairs of Europe, and Raggybritchovich has shown us the next Circassian Campaign, or Sapousne has laid hare the plan of the Calabrian patriots for the next insurrection, I have marked this stranger — this Lor Yardham. He smokes, ’tis to conceal his countenance; he drinks gin, ’tis to hide his face in the goblet. And be sure, he carries every word of our conversation to the perfidious Palmerston, his uncle.”
“I will beard him in his den,” thought Jools. “I will meet him corps-a-corps — the tyrant of Europe shall suffer through his nephew, and I will shoot him as dead as Dujarrier.”
When Lor Yardham came to the “Constantanople” that night, Jools i’d him savidgely from edd to foot, while Lord Yardham replied the same. It wasn’t much for either to do — neyther being more than 4 foot ten hi — Jools was a grannydear in his company of the Nashnal Gard, and was as brayv as a lion.
“Ah, l’Angleterre, l’Angleterre, tu nous dois une revanche,” said Jools, crossing his arms and grinding his teeth at Lord Yardham.
“Wee,” said Lord Yardham; “wee.”
“Delenda est Carthago!” howled out Jools.
“Oh, wee,” said the Erl of Yardham, and at the same moment his glas of ginawater coming in, he took a drink, saying, “A voternsanty, Munseer:” and then he offered it like a man of fashn to Jools.
A light broak on Jools’s mind as he igsepted the refreshmint. “Sapoase,” he said, “instedd of slaughtering this nephew of the infamous Palmerston, I extract his secrets from him; suppose I pump him — suppose I unveil his schemes and send them to my paper? La France may hear the name of Jools de Chacabac, and the star of honor may glitter on my bosom.”
So axepting Lord Yardham’s cortasy, he returned it by ordering another glass of gin at his own expence, and they both drank it on the counter, where Jools talked of the affaers of Europ all night. To everything he said, the Earl of Yardham answered, “Wee, wee;” except at the end of the evening, when he squeeged his & and said, “Bong swore.”
“There’s nothing like goin amongst ’em to equire the reel pronounciation,” his lordship said, as he let himself into his lodgings with his latch-key. “That was a very eloquent young gent at the ‘Constantinople,’ and I’ll patronize him.”
“Ah, perfide, je te demasquerai!” Jools remarked to himself as he went to bed in his “Hotel de l’Ail.” And they met the next night, and from that heavning the young men were continyually together.
Well, one day, as they were walking in the Quadrant, Jools talking, and Lord Yardham saying, “Wee, wee,” they were struck all of a heap by seeing —
But my paper is igshosted, and I must dixcribe what they sor in the nex number.
The travler who pesews his dalitefle coarse through the fair rellum of Franse (as a great romantic landskippist and neamsack of mind would say) never chaumed his i’s within a site more lovely, or vu’d a pallis more magniffiznt than that which was the buthplace of the Eroing of this Trew Tale. Phansy a country through whose werdant planes the selvery Garonne wines, like — like a benevvolent sarpent. In its plasid busum antient cassles, picturask willidges, and waving woods are reflected. Purple hills, crownd with inteak ruings; rivvilets babbling through gentle greenwoods; wight farm ouses, hevvy with hoverhanging vines, and from which the appy and peaseful okupier can cast his glans over goolden waving cornfealds, and M. Herald meddows in which the lazy cattle are graysinn; while the sheppard, tending his snoughy flox, wiles away the leisure mominx on his loot — these hoffer but a phaint pictur of the rurial felissaty in the midst of widge Crinoline and Hesteria de Viddlers were bawn.
Their Par, the Marcus de Viddlers, Shavilear of the Legend of Honor and of the Lion of Bulgum, the Golden Flease, Grand Cross of the Eflant and Castle, and of the Catinbagpipes of Hostria, Grand Chamberleng of the Crownd, and Major-Genaril of Hoss-Mareens, &c. &c. &c. — is the twenty-foth or fith Marquis that has bawn the Tittle; is disended lenyally from King Pipping, and has almost as antient a paddygree as any which the Ollywell Street frends of the Member of Buckinumsheer can supply.
His Marchyniss, the lovely & ecomplisht Emily de St. Cornichon, quitted this mortial spear very soon after she had presented her lord with the two little dawling Cherrybins above dixcribed, in whomb, after the loss of that angle his wife, the disconslit widderer found his only jy on huth. In all his emusemints they ecumpanied him; their edjacation was his sole bisniss; he atcheaved it with the assistnce of the ugliest and most lernid masters, and the most hidjus and egsimplary governices which money could procure. R, how must his peturnle art have bet, as these Budds, which he had nurrisht, bust into buty, and twined in blooming flagrance round his pirentle Busm!
The villidges all round his hancestral Alls blessed the Marcus and his lovely hoffsprig. Not one villidge in their naybrood but was edawned by their elygint benifisns, and where the inhabitnts wern’t rendered appy. It was a pattern pheasantry. All the old men in the districk were wertuous & tockative, ad red stockins and i-eeled drab shoes, and beautiful snowy air. All the old women had peaked ats, and crooked cains, and chince gowns tucked into the pockits of their quiltid petticoats; they sat in pictarask porches, pretendin to spinn, while the lads and lassis of the villidges danst under the hellums. O, tis a noble sight to whitniss that of an appy pheasantry! Not one of those rustic wassals of the Ouse of Widdlers, but ad his air curled and his shirt-sheaves tied up with pink ribbing as he led to the macy dance some appy country gal, with a black velvit boddice and a redd or yaller petticoat, a hormylu cross on her neck, and a silver harrow in her air!
When the Marcus & ther young ladies came to the villidge it would have done the i’s of the flanthropist good to see how all reseaved ’em! The little children scattered calico flowers on their path, the snowy-aired old men with red faces and rinkles took off their brown paper ats to slewt the noble Marcus. Young and old led them to a woodn bank painted to look like a bower of roses, and when they were sett down danst ballys before them. O ’twas a noble site to see the Marcus too, smilin ellygint with fethers in his edd and all his stars on, and the young Marchynisses with their ploomes, and trains, and little coronicks!
They lived in tremenjus splendor at home in their pyturnle alls, and had no end of pallises, willers, and town and country resadences; but their fayvorit resadence was called the Castle of the Island of Fogo.
Add I the penn of the hawther of a Codlingsby himself, I coodnt dixcribe the gawjusness of their aboad. They add twenty-four footmen in livery, besides a boy in codroys for the knives & shoes. They had nine meels aday — Shampayne and pineapples were served to each of the young ladies in bed before they got up. Was it Prawns, Sherry-cobblers, lobster-salids, or maids of honor, they had but to ring the bell and call for what they chose. They had two new dresses every day — one to ride out in the open carriage, and another to appear in the gardens of the Castle of the Island of Fogo, which were illuminated every night like Voxhall. The young noblemen of France were there ready to dance with them, and festif suppers concludid the jawyus night.
Thus they lived in ellygant ratirement until Missfortune bust upon this happy fammaly. Etached to his Princes and abommanating the ojus Lewyphlip, the Marcus was conspiring for the benefick of the helder branch of the Borebones — and what was the consquince? — One night a fleat presented itself round the Castle of the Island of Fogo — and skewering only a couple of chests of jewils, the Marcus and the two young ladies in disgyise, fled from that island of bliss. And whither fled they? — To England! — England the ome of the brave, the refuge of the world, where the pore slave never setts his foot but he is free!
Such was the ramantic tail which was told to 2 friends of ours by the Marcus de Viddlers himself, whose daughters, walking with their page from Ungerford Market (where they had been to purchis a paper of srimps for the umble supper of their noble father), Yardham and his equaintnce, Munseer Jools, had remarked and admired.
But how had those two young Erows become equainted with the noble Marcus? — That is a mistry we must elucydate in a futur vollam.
The King of France was walking on the terrace of Versailles; the fairest, not only of Queens, but of women, hung fondly on the Royal arm; while the children of France were indulging in their infantile hilarity in the alleys of the magnificent garden of Le Notre (from which Niblo’s garden has been copied in our own Empire city of New York), and playing at leap-frog with their uncle, the Count of Provence; gaudy courtiers, emlazoned with orders, glittered in the groves, and murmured frivolous talk in the ears of high-bred beauty.
“Marie, my beloved,” said the ruler of France, taking out his watch, “’tis time that the Minister of America should be here.”
“Your Majesty should know the time,” replied Marie Antoinette, archly, and in an Austrian accent; “is not my Royal Louis the first watchmaker in his empire?”
The King cast a pleased glance at his repeater, and kissed with courtly grace the fair hand of her who had made him the compliment. “My Lord Bishop of Autun,” said he to Monsieur de Talleyrand Perigord, who followed the royal pair, in his quality of arch-chamberlain of the empire, “I pray you look through the gardens, and tell his Excellency Doctor Franklin that the King waits.” The Bishop ran off, with more than youthful agility, to seek the United States’ Minister. “These Republicans,” he added, confidentially, and with something of a supercilious look, “are but rude courtiers, methinks.”
“Nay,” interposed the lovely Antoinette, “rude courtiers, Sire, they may be; but the world boasts not of more accomplished gentlemen. I have seen no grandee of Versailles that has the noble bearing of this American envoy and his suite. They have the refinement of the Old World, with all the simple elegance of the New. Though they have perfect dignity of manner, they have an engaging modesty which I have never seen equalled by the best of the proud English nobles with whom they wage war. I am told they speak their very language with a grace which the haughty Islanders who oppress them never attained. They are independent, yet never insolent; elegant, yet always respectful; and brave, but not in the least boastful.”
“What! savages and all, Marie?” exclaimed Louis, laughing, and chucking the lovely Queen playfully under the royal chin. “But here comes Doctor Franklin, and your friend the Cacique with him.” In fact, as the monarch spoke, the Minister of the United States made his appearance, followed by a gigantic warrior in the garb of his native woods.
Knowing his place as Minister of a sovereign state, (yielding even then in dignity to none, as it surpasses all now in dignity, in valor, in honesty, in strength, and civilization,) the Doctor nodded to the Queen of France, but kept his hat on as he faced the French monarch, and did not cease whittling the cane he carried in his hand.
“I was waiting for you, sir,” the King said, peevishly, in spite of the alarmed pressure which the Queen gave his royal arm.
“The business of the Republic, sire, must take precedence even of your Majesty’s wishes,” replied Dr. Franklin. “When I was a poor printer’s boy and ran errands, no lad could be more punctual than poor Ben Franklin; but all other things must yield to the service of the United States of North America. I have done. What would you, Sire?” and the intrepid republican eyed the monarch with a serene and easy dignity, which made the descendant of St. Louis feel ill at ease.
“I wished to — to say farewell to Tatua before his departure,” said Louis XVI., looking rather awkward. “Approach, Tatua.” And the gigantic Indian strode up, and stood undaunted before the first magistrate of the French nation: again the feeble monarch quailed before the terrible simplicity of the glance of the denizen of the primaeval forests.
The redoubted chief of the Nose-ring Indians was decorated in his war-paint, and in his top-knot was a peacock’s feather, which had been given him out of the head-dress of the beautiful Princess of Lamballe. His nose, from which hung the ornament from which his ferocious tribe took its designation, was painted a light-blue, a circle of green and orange was drawn round each eye, while serpentine stripes of black, white, and vermilion alternately were smeared on his forehead, and descended over his cheek-bones to his chin. His manly chest was similarly tattooed and painted, and round his brawny neck and arms hung innumerable bracelets and necklaces of human teeth, extracted (one only from each skull) from the jaws of those who had fallen by the terrible tomahawk at his girdle. His moccasins, and his blanket, which was draped on his arm and fell in picturesque folds to his feet, were fringed with tufts of hair — the black, the gray, the auburn, the golden ringlet of beauty, the red lock from the forehead of the Scottish or the Northern soldier, the snowy tress of extreme old age, the flaxen down of infancy — all were there, dreadful reminiscences of the chief’s triumphs in war. The warrior leaned on his enormous rifle, and faced the King.
“And it was with that carabine that you shot Wolfe in ‘57?” said Louis, eying the warrior and his weapon. “’Tis a clumsy lock, and methinks I could mend it,” he added mentally.
“The chief of the French pale-faces speaks truth,” Tatua said. “Tatua was a boy when he went first on the war-path with Montcalm.”
“And shot a Wolfe at the first fire!” said the King.
“The English are braves, though their faces are white,” replied the Indian. “Tatua shot the raging Wolfe of the English; but the other wolves caused the foxes to go to earth.” A smile played round Dr. Franklin’s lips, as he whittled his cane with more vigor than ever.
“I believe, your Excellency, Tatua has done good service elsewhere than at Quebec,” the King said, appealing to the American Envoy: “at Bunker’s Hill, at Brandywine, at York Island? Now that Lafayette and my brave Frenchmen are among you, your Excellency need have no fear but that the war will finish quickly — yes, yes, it will finish quickly. They will teach you discipline, and the way to conquer.”
“King Louis of France,” said the Envoy, clapping his hat down over his head, and putting his arms a-kimbo, “we have learned that from the British, to whom we are superior in everything: and I’d have your Majesty to know that in the art of whipping the world we have no need of any French lessons. If your reglars jine General Washington, ’tis to larn from HIM how Britishers are licked; for I’m blest if YU know the way yet.”
Tatua said, “Ugh,” and gave a rattle with the butt of his carabine, which made the timid monarch start; the eyes of the lovely Antoinette flashed fire, but it played round the head of the dauntless American Envoy harmless as the lightning which he knew how to conjure away.
The King fumbled in his pocket, and pulled out a Cross of the Order of the Bath. “Your Excellency wears no honor,” the monarch said; “but Tatua, who is not a subject, only an ally, of the United States, may. Noble Tatua, I appoint you Knight Companion of my noble Order of the Bath. Wear this cross upon your breast in memory of Louis of France;” and the King held out the decoration to the Chief.
Up to that moment the Chief’s countenance had been impassible. No look either of admiration or dislike had appeared upon that grim and war-painted visage. But now, as Louis spoke, Tatua’s face assumed a glance of ineffable scorn, as, bending his head, he took the bauble.
“I will give it to one of my squaws,” he said. “The papooses in my lodge will play with it. Come, Medecine, Tatua will go and drink fire-water;” and, shouldering his carabine, he turned his broad back without ceremony upon the monarch and his train, and disappeared down one of the walks of the garden. Franklin found him when his own interview with the French Chief Magistrate was over; being attracted to the spot where the Chief was, by the crack of his well-known rifle. He was laughing in his quiet way. He had shot the Colonel of the Swiss Guards through his cockade.
Three days afterwards, as the gallant frigate, the “Repudiator,” was sailing out of Brest Harbor, the gigantic form of an Indian might be seen standing on the binnacle in conversation with Commodore Bowie, the commander of the noble ship. It was Tatua, the Chief of the Nose-rings.
Leatherlegs and Tom Coxswain did not accompany Tatua when he went to the Parisian metropolis on a visit to the father of the French pale-faces. Neither the Legs nor the Sailor cared for the gayety and the crowd of cities; the stout mariner’s home was in the puttock-shrouds of the old “Repudiator.” The stern and simple trapper loved the sound of the waters better than the jargon of the French of the old country. “I can follow the talk of a Pawnee,” he said, “or wag my jaw, if so be necessity bids me to speak, by a Sioux’s council-fire and I can patter Canadian French with the hunters who come for peltries to Nachitoches or Thichimuchimachy; but from the tongue of a Frenchwoman, with white flour on her head, and war-paint on her face, the Lord deliver poor Natty Pumpo.”
“Amen and amen!” said Tom Coxswain. “There was a woman in our aft-scuppers when I went a-whalin in the little ‘Grampus’— and Lord love you, Pumpo, you poor land-swab, she WAS as pretty a craft as ever dowsed a tarpauling — there was a woman on board the ‘Grampus,’ who before we’d struck our first fish, or biled our first blubber, set the whole crew in a mutiny. I mind me of her now, Natty — her eye was sich a piercer that you could see to steer by it in a Newfoundland fog; her nose stood out like the ‘Grampus’s’ jibboom, and her woice, Lord love you, her woice sings in my ears even now:— it set the Captain a-quarrelin with the Mate, who was hanged in Boston harbor for harpoonin of his officer in Baffin’s Bay; — it set me and Bob Bunting a-pouring broadsides into each other’s old timbers, whereas me and Bob was worth all the women that ever shipped a hawser. It cost me three years’ pay as I’d stowed away for the old mother, and might have cost me ever so much more, only bad luck to me, she went and married a little tailor out of Nantucket; and I’ve hated women and tailors ever since!” As he spoke, the hardy tar dashed a drop of brine from his tawny cheek, and once more betook himself to splice the taffrail.
Though the brave frigate lay off Havre de Grace, she was not idle. The gallant Bowie and his intrepid crew made repeated descents upon the enemy’s seaboard. The coasts of Rutland and merry Leicestershire have still many a legend of fear to tell; and the children of the British fishermen tremble even now when they speak of the terrible “Repudiator.” She was the first of the mighty American war-ships that have taught the domineering Briton to respect the valor of the Republic.
The novelist ever and anon finds himself forced to adopt the sterner tone of the historian, when describing deeds connected with his country’s triumphs. It is well known that during the two months in which she lay off Havre, the “Repudiator” had brought more prizes into that port than had ever before been seen in the astonished French waters. Her actions with the “Dettingen” and the “Elector” frigates form part of our country’s history; their defence — it may be said without prejudice to national vanity — was worthy of Britons and of the audacious foe they had to encounter; and it must be owned, that but for a happy fortune which presided on that day over the destinies of our country, the chance of the combat might have been in favor of the British vessels. It was not until the “Elector” blew up, at a quarter past three P.M., by a lucky shot which fell into her caboose, and communicated with the powder-magazine, that Commodore Bowie was enabled to lay himself on board the “Dettingen,” which he carried sword in hand. Even when the American boarders had made their lodgment on the “Dettingen’s” binnacle, it is possible that the battle would still have gone against us. The British were still seven to one; their carronades, loaded with marline-spikes, swept the gun-deck, of which we had possession, and decimated our little force; when a rifle-ball from the shrouds of the “Repudiator” shot Captain Mumford under the star of the Guelphic Order which he wore, and the Americans, with a shout, rushed up the companion to the quarter-deck, upon the astonished foe. Pike and cutlass did the rest of the bloody work. Rumford, the gigantic first-lieutenant of the “Dettingen,” was cut down by Commodore Bowie’s own sword, as they engaged hand to hand; and it was Tom Coxswain who tore down the British flag, after having slain the Englishman at the wheel. Peace be to the souls of the brave! The combat was honorable alike to the victor and the vanquished; and it never can be said that an American warrior depreciated a gallant foe. The bitterness of defeat was enough to the haughty islanders who had to suffer. The people of Herne Bay were lining the shore, near which the combat took place, and cruel must have been the pang to them when they saw the Stars and Stripes rise over the old flag of the Union, and the “Dettingen” fall down the river in tow of the Republican frigate.
Another action Bowie contemplated: the boldest and most daring perhaps ever imagined by seaman. It is this which has been so wrongly described by European annalists, and of which the British until now have maintained the most jealous secrecy.
Portsmouth Harbor was badly defended. Our intelligence in that town and arsenal gave us precise knowledge of the disposition of the troops, the forts, and the ships there; and it was determined to strike a blow which should shake the British power in its centre.
That a frigate of the size of the “Repudiator” should enter the harbor unnoticed, or could escape its guns unscathed, passed the notions of even American temerity. But upon the memorable 26th of June, 1782, the “Repudiator” sailed out of Havre Roads in a thick fog, under cover of which she entered and cast anchor in Bonchurch Bay, in the Isle of Wight. To surprise the Martello Tower and take the feeble garrison thereunder, was the work of Tom Coxswain and a few of his blue-jackets. The surprised garrison laid down their arms before him.
It was midnight before the boats of the ship, commanded by Lieutenant Bunker, pulled off from Bonchurch with muffled oars, and in another hour were off the Common Hard of Portsmouth, having passed the challenges of the “Thetis” and the “Amphion” frigates, and the “Polyanthus” brig.
There had been on that day great feasting and merriment on board the Flag-ship lying in the harbor. A banquet had been given in honor of the birthday of one of the princes of the royal line of the Guelphs — the reader knows the propensity of Britons when liquor is in plenty. All on board that royal ship were more or less overcome. The Flag-ship was plunged in a deathlike and drunken sleep. The very officer of the watch was intoxicated: he could not see the “Repudiator’s” boats as they shot swiftly through the waters; nor had he time to challenge her seamen as they swarmed up the huge sides of the ship.
At the next moment Tom Coxswain stood at the wheel of the “Royal George”— the Briton who had guarded, a corpse at his feet. The hatches were down. The ship was in possession of the “Repudiator’s” crew. They were busy in her rigging, bending her sails to carry her out of the harbor. The well-known heave of the men at the windlass woke up Kempenfelt in his state-cabin. We know, or rather do not know, the result; for who can tell by whom the lower-deck ports of the brave ship were opened, and how the haughty prisoners below sunk the ship and its conquerors rather than yield her as a prize to the Republic!
Only Tom Coxswain escaped of victors and vanquished. His tale was told to his Captain and to Congress, but Washington forbade its publication; and it was but lately that the faithful seaman told it to me, his grandson, on his hundred-and-fifteenth birthday.
“CAFE DES AVEUGLES.
“MY DEAR SNOOKS — I am on the look-out here for materials for original comedies such as those lately produced at your theatre; and, in the course of my studies, I have found something, my dear Snooks, which I think will suit your book. You are bringing, I see, your admirable novel, ‘The Mysteries of May Fair,’ to an end —(by the way, the scene, in the 200th number, between the Duke, his Grandmother, and the Jesuit Butler, is one of the most harrowing and exciting I ever read)— and, of course, you must turn your real genius to some other channel; and we may expect that your pen shall not be idle.
“The original plan I have to propose to you, then, is taken from the French, just like the original dramas above mentioned; and, indeed, I found it in the law report of the National newspaper, and a French literary gentleman, M. Emanuel Gonzales, has the credit of the invention. He and an advertisement agent fell out about a question of money, the affair was brought before the courts, and the little plot so got wind. But there is no reason why you should not take the plot and act on it yourself. You are a known man; the public relishes your works; anything bearing the name of Snooks is eagerly read by the masses; and though Messrs. Hookey, of Holywell Street, pay you handsomely, I make no doubt you would like to be rewarded at a still higher figure.
“Unless he writes with a purpose, you know, a novelist in our days is good for nothing. This one writes with a socialist purpose; that with a conservative purpose: this author or authoress with the most delicate skill insinuates Catholicism into you, and you find yourself all but a Papist in the third volume: another doctors you with Low Church remedies to work inwardly upon you, and which you swallow down unsuspiciously, as children do calomel in jelly. Fiction advocates all sorts of truth and causes — doesn’t the delightful bard of the Minories find Moses in everything? M. Gonzales’s plan, and the one which I recommend to my dear Snooks, simply was to write an advertisement novel. Look over The Times or the ‘Directory,’ walk down Regent Street or Fleet Street any day — see what houses advertise most, and put yourself into communication with their proprietors. With your rings, your chains, your studs, and the tip on your chin, I don’t know any greater swell than Bob Snooks. Walk into the shops, I say, ask for the principal, and introduce yourself, saying, ‘I am the great Snooks; I am the author of the “Mysteries of May Fair;” my weekly sale is 281,000; I am about to produce a new work called “The Palaces of Pimlico, or the Curse of the Court,” describing and lashing fearlessly the vices of the aristocracy; this book will have a sale of at least 530,000; it will be on every table — in the boudoir of the pampered duke, as in the chamber of the honest artisan. The myriads of foreigners who are coming to London, and are anxious to know about our national manners, will purchase my book, and carry it to their distant homes. So, Mr. Taylor, or Mr. Haberdasher, or Mr. Jeweller, how much will you stand if I recommend you in my forthcoming novel?’ You may make a noble income in this way, Snooks.
“For instance, suppose it is an upholsterer. What more easy, what more delightful, than the description of upholstery? As thus:—
“‘Lady Emily was reclining on one of Down and Eider’s voluptuous ottomans, the only couch on which Belgravian beauty now reposes, when Lord Bathershins entered, stepping noiselessly over one of Tomkins’s elastic Axminster carpets. “Good heavens, my lord!” she said — and the lovely creature fainted. The Earl rushed to the mantel-piece, where he saw a flacon of Otto’s eau-de-Cologne, and,’ &c.
“Or say it’s a cheap furniture-shop, and it may be brought in just as easily, as thus:—
“‘We are poor, Eliza,’ said Harry Hardhand, looking affectionately at his wife, ‘but we have enough, love, have we not, for our humble wants? The rich and luxurious may go to Dillow’s or Gobiggin’s, but we can get our rooms comfortably furnished at Timmonson’s for 20L.’ And putting on her bonnet, and hanging affectionately on her husband, the stoker’s pretty bride tripped gayly to the well-known mart, where Timmonson, within his usual affability, was ready to receive them.
“Then you might have a touch at the wine-merchant and purveyor. ‘Where did you get this delicious claret, or pate de fois gras, or what you please?’ said Count Blagowski to the gay young Sir Horace Swellmore. The voluptuous Bart answered, ‘At So-and-So’s, or So-and-So’s.’ The answer is obvious. You may furnish your cellar or your larder in this way. Begad, Snooks! I lick my lips at the very idea.
“Then, as to tailors, milliners, bootmakers, &c., how easy to get a word for them! Amranson, the tailor, waited upon Lord Paddington with an assortment of his unrivalled waistcoats, or clad in that simple but aristocratic style of which Schneider ALONE has the secret. Parvy Newcome really looked like a gentleman, and though corpulent and crooked, Schneider had managed to give him, &c. Don’t you see what a stroke of business you might do in this way.
“The shoemaker. — Lady Fanny flew, rather than danced, across the ball-room; only a Sylphide, or Taglioni, or a lady chausseed by Chevillett of Bond Street could move in that fairy way; and
“The hairdresser. —‘Count Barbarossa is seventy years of age,’ said the Earl. ‘I remember him at the Congress of Vienna, and he has not a single gray hair.’ Wiggins laughed. ‘My good Lord Baldock,’ said the old wag, ‘I saw Barbarossa’s hair coming out of Ducroissant’s shop, and under his valet’s arm — ho! ho! ho!’— and the two bon-vivans chuckled as the Count passed by, talking with, &c. &c.
“The gunmaker. —‘The antagonists faced each other; and undismayed before his gigantic enemy, Kilconnel raised his pistol. It was one of Clicker’s manufacture, and Sir Marmaduke knew he could trust the maker and the weapon. “One, two, THREE,” cried O’Tool, and the two pistols went off at that instant, and uttering a terrific curse, the Lifeguardsman,’ &c. — A sentence of this nature from your pen, my dear Snooks, would, I should think, bring a case of pistols and a double-barrelled gun to your lodgings; and, though heaven forbid you should use such weapons, you might sell them, you know, and we could make merry with the proceeds.
“If my hint is of any use to you, it is quite at your service, dear Snooks; and should anything come of it, I hope you will remember your friend.”
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