Page images

"No," returned he; "we have even no serious sick- wearing at night, and in his hand he held a large knife. ness at present."

At this strange apparition I stood transfixed. From "I see one of the brothers below digging a grave,” I the cautious manner in which he had opened the door, replied.

and the stealthy pace with which he advanced into the ** Oh," said he, looking out, that is Brother Lazarus room, I could not doubt that he was bent upon mischief; - he is digging his own grave."

but aware of the dangerous effects that frequently result “What an extraordinary fancy!” said I. “But per- from the too sudden awakening of a sleep-walker, I haps it's a penance ?"

thought it better to watch in silence the acting out of "Not a penance imposed by me,” replied the prior, this fearful drama, than venture to disturb him. With " but by himself. Brother Lazarus is a very strange all the precautions he would have used not to arouse person. Perhaps you may have observed him in the me had he been awake, he moved towards the bed, refectory–he sat nearly opposite you at the other and in so doing he had occasion to pass quite close to table?”

where I stood, and as the light of the lamps fell upon "Bless me! is that he? Oh yes, I observed him in his face, I saw that his brows were knit, and his feadeed. Who could help observing him ? He has the tures contracted into an expression of resolute malignity. most extraordinary countenance I ever beheld.” When he reached the bed, he bent over it, felt with his

" Brother Lazarus is a somnambulist,” returned the hand in the place where I should have been, and then, prior ; "a natural somnambulist; and is altogether, as apparently satisfied, he lifted up his arm, and struck I said before, a very extraordinary character."

successively three heavy blows-so heavy, that, having * What!" said I, my curiosity being a good deal pierced the bedclothes, the blade of the knife entered awakened, “ does he walk in his sleep? I never saw a far into the mattress, or rather into the mat that served somnambulist before, and should like to hear some me for one. Suddenly, however, whilst his arm was particulars about him, if you have no objection to tell raised for another blow, he started, and turning round, them me."

hastened towards the window, which he opened, and “ They are not desirable inmates, I assure you," had it been large enough, I think would have thrown answered the prior. “I could tell you some very odd himself out. But finding the aperture too small, he adventures connected with this disease of Brother La- changed his direction. Again he passed close to me, zarus."

and I felt myself shrink back as he almost touched “I should be very much obliged if you would,” me with his tunic. The two lamps that stood on my said I with no little eagerness.

table made no impression on his eyes; he opened and "Somnambulists are sometimes subject to strange closed the door as before; and I heard him proceed hallucinations,” he replied ; “ their dream is to them rapidly along the gallery, and retire to his own cell. as real as our actual daily life is to us, and they not It would be vain to attempt to describe the amazeunfrequently act out the scenes of the drama with a ment with which I had witnessed this terrible scene. I terrible determination. I will just give you one instance had been, as it were, the spectator of my own murder, of the danger that may accrue from a delusion of this and I was overcome by the horrors of this visionary nature. At the last monastery I inhabited, before I be- assassination. Grateful to Providence for the danger I came prior of Pierre Châtel, we had a monk who was had escaped, I yet could not brace my nerves to look known to be a somnambulist. He was a man of a sombre at it with calmness, and I passed the remainder of the character and gloomy temperament; but it was rather night in a state of painful agitation. On the followsupposed that his melancholy proceeded from physical ing morning, as soon as breakfast was over, I sumcanses, than from any particular source of mental un- moned Fra Dominique to my room. As he entered, easiness. His nightly wanderings were very irregular: I saw his eye glance at the bed, which was now, howsometimes they were frequent, sometimes there were ever, covered by other linen, so that there were no long intermissions. Occasionally he would leave his traces visible of his nocturnal visit. His countenance cell, and after being absent from it several hours, would was sad, but expressed no confusion, till I inquired what return of his own accord, still fast asleep, and lay had been the subject of his dreams the preceding night. himself in his bed : at other times he would wander so Then he started, and changed colour. far away, that we had to send in search of him; and * Reverend father,' said he, 'why do you ask me sometimes he would be met by the messengers on his this ? ' way back, either awake or asleep, as it might happen. • Never mind,' said I ; 'I have my reasons.' This strange malady had caused us some anxiety, and 'I do not like to repeat my dream,' returned he ; we had not neglected to seek the best advice we could it was too frightful; and I fear that it must have obtain with respect to its treatment; and at length the been Satan himself that inspired it.' remedies applied seemed to have taken effect; the Nevertheless let me hear it.' paroxysms became more rare, and the disease so far Well, reverend father, if you will have it so, what subsided, that it ceased to be a subject of observation I dreamt was this-but that you may the better comamongst us. Several months had elapsed since I had prehend my dream, I must give you a short sketch of heard anything of the nocturnal excursions of Brother the circumstances in which it originated.' Dominique, when one night that I had some business of Do so,' said I; "and that we may not be interrupted, importance in hand, instead of going to bed when the I'll lock the door.' So having turned the key, and bade rest of the brotherhood retired to their cells, I seated my-him seat himself on a stool opposite me, I prepared to self at my desk, for the purpose of reading and answer listen to the story of his life, which was to this effect. ing certain letters concerning the affair in question. I While a child of four years of age, he awoke one mornhad been some time thus occupied, and had just finished ing and found that his poor mother lay a bleeding corpse my work, and had already locked my desk preparatory by his side. She had been murdered during the night to going to bed, when I heard the closing of a distant by a miscreant relative, in order to obtain some mean door, and immediately afterwards a foot in the long inheritance by her decease. The effect of the circumgallery that separated my room from the cells of the stance, with its painful details, had disturbed his infant brotherhood. What could be the matter? Somebody faculties, which led to occasional fits, and to terrific must be ill, and was coming to seek assistance; and I dreams. These dreams, he added, sometimes made him was confirmed in this persuasion when I perceived that feel as if he were under a stern necessity of performing the foot was approaching my door, the key of which I the part of the murderer of his mother. had not turned. In a moment more it opened, and Fra And pray,' I inquired, do you select any particular Dominique entered, asleep. His eyes were wide open, person as your victim in those dreams?', but there was evidently no speculation in them; they Always.' were fixed and glassy, like the eyes of a corpse. He had ' And what does this selection depend upon ? Is it nothing on but the tunic which he was in the habit of enmity ?'


[ocr errors]

“No,' returned Dominique; 'it is a peculiar influence altogether. Consequently, whenever I am under çirthat I cannot explain. Perhaps,' added he, after some cumstances that oblige me to retire early to my room, I hesitation, you may have observed my eyes frequently make a practice of reading till I find my eyelids heavy. fixed on you of late ?' I remembered that I had ob- But the dormitory assigned me in this Franciscan conserved this; and he then told me that whoever he looked vent was so chilly, and the lamp gave so little light, at in that manner was the person he dreamt of.” that either remaining out of bed or reading in it was

Such,' said Charlie Lisle, was the prior's account of out of the question ; so I yielded to necessity, and this strange personage. I confess, when I had heard stretched myself on Padre Pachorra's hard couch ; and his explanation, I began to feel particularly queer, for a very hard one it was, I assure you. I was very cold I was already satisfied that Fra Dominique and Brother too. There were not coverings enough on the bed to Lazarus were one and the same person ; and I perceived keep in my animal heat; and although I spread my own that I was in considerable danger of being the selected clothes over me also, still I lay shivering in a very unvictim of his next dream ; and so I told Père Jolivet.' comfortable manner, and, I am afraid, uttering sundry

“Never fear,” said he; “ we lock him up every night, harsh remarks on the padre's niggardly hospitality. and have done so ever since my adventure. Added to in this agreeable occupation, as you may suppose, the which, he is now very unwell; he was taken with a fit flight of time was somewhat of the slowest. I do not yesterday, and we have been obliged to bleed him.” know how many hours I had been there, but I had be“ But he is digging there below," said I.

gun to think it never would be morning, when I heard “ Yes," replied the prior ; " he has a notion he is going something stirring in the gallery outside my door. The to die, and intreated permission to prepare his grave. silence of a convent at night is the silence of the grave. It is, however, a mere fancy I daresay. He had the Too far removed from the busy world without for exsame notion during the indisposition that succeeded ternal sounds to penetrate the thick walls, whilst within the dream I have just related. I forgot to tell you, no slamming door, nor wandering foot, nor sacrilegious however, though you seem to have penetrated the voice breaks in upon the stillness, the slightest noise secret, that this Fra Dominique changed his name to strikes upon the ear with a fearful distinctness. I had Lazarus when he accompanied me here, which he was no shutters to my window, so that I was aware it was allowed to do at his own urgent intreaty; why, I cannot still pitch-dark without, though, within, the feeble light tell, but ever after that conversation, he seemed to have of my lamp still enabled me to see a little about me. I imbibed a strong attachment to me; perhaps because knew that the inmates of monasteries not only rise I exhibited none of the distrust or aversion towards before daylight, but also that they perform midnight him which some persons might have been apt to enter- masses, and so forth; but then I had always observed tain under the same circumstances."

that on these occasions they were summoned by a bell. A week after this I was informed that Brother Laza- Now, there was no bell; on the contrary, all was still rus was dead,' continued Lisle ; "and I confess I did not as death, except the cautious foot which seemed to be much regret his decease. I thought a man subject to approaching my room. “What on earth can it be?" such dangerous dreams was better out of the world than thought I, sitting up in bed with an indescribable feel. in it; more especially as by all accounts he had no en- ing of apprehension. At that moment a hand was laid joyment in life. On the day I quitted the monastery, I upon the latch of my door. I cannot tell why, but insaw from my window one of the brothers completing the stinctively I jumped out of bed--the door opened, and already partly-made grave, and learnt that he was to be in walked what appeared to me to be Brother Lazarus, buried that evening; and as I descended the stairs, I exactly as the prior of Pierre Châtel had described him passed some monks who were carrying his cofin to his to me on the occasion of his nocturnal visit to his chamcell

. “Rest his soul !” said I, as I buckled on my spurs; ber. His eyes were open, but glazed, as of one dead; his and having heartily thanked the good prior for his hos- face was of a ghastly paleness; he had nothing on but the pitality, I mounted my horse and rode away.'

gray tunic in which he slept; and in his hand he held a Here Charlie Lisle rang the bell and asked for a glass knife, such a one as was used by the monks to cut their of water.

large loaves with. 'Is that all?' inquired Lady Araminta.

You may conceive my amazement,' continued Charlie Not quite,' said Charlie; 'the sequel is to come. My Lisle, whilst amongst his auditors every eye was firmly visit to the monastery of Pierre Châtel had occurred riveted. “I rubbed my eyes, and asked myself if I in the month of June. During the ensuing months I were dreaming. Too surely I was awake--I had never travelled over a considerable part of the south of even slumbered for an instant. Was I mad? I did France; and at length I crossed the Pyrenees, intend- not think I was; but certainly that was no proof to the ing to proceed as far as Madrid, and winter there. contrary; and I almost began to doubt that Brother Amongst the lions I had been recommended to visit Lazarus was dead and buried on the other side of the was a monastery of Franciscans in the neighbourhood Pyrenees. The prior of Pierre Châtel had told me of Burgos, and I turned somewhat out of my road for he was dead, and I had heard several others of the the purpose of inspecting some curious manuscripts brotherhood alluding to his decease. I had seen his which the monks were reputed to possess. It was in grave made ready, and I had passed his coffin as I dethe month of October, and a bright moonlight night, scended to the hall; yet bere he was in Spain, again rewhen I rang the bell, and requested to see the Padre hearsing the frightful scene that Jolivet had described to Pachorra, to whom I had letters of introduction. I me! Whilst all this was fleeting through my mind, I found him a dark, grave, sombre-looking man, not was standing en chemise betwixt the bed and the wall, very unlike my old friend Brother Lazarus ; and al on which side I had happened to leap out. In the though he received me civilly enough, there was some meantime the apparition advanced with bare feet, and thing in his demeanour that affected my spirits. The with the greatest caution, towards the other side of the whole air of the convent, too, was melancholy; convents, bed; and as there were of course no curtains, I had a like other establishments, taking their tone very much full view of his diabolical features, which appeared confrom the character of their superiors. As the monks tracted with rage and malignity. As Jolivet had dehad already supped when I arrived, I was served with scribed to me, he first felt the bed, as if to ascertain if some refreshment in the parlour; and the whole in- I were there ; and I confess I was frightened out of ternal arrangements here being exceedingly strict, I my senses lest he should discover that I was not, and immediately afterwards retired to my chamber, firmly possibly detect me where I was. What could I have resolved to take my departure the next day. I am done, unarmed, and in my shirt, against this preternot in the habit of going to bed early, and when I natural-looking monster? And to wake him-provided do, I never can sleep. By the time my usual sleeping always it was really Brother Lazarus, and not his double, hour is arrived, I have generally got so restless and a point about which I felt exceedingly uncertain-Í nervous from lying awake, that slumber is banished | had learnt from Jolivet was extremely perilous. How

ever, he did not discover that the bed was empty-his tion," answered the padre. “ He was only at Pierre dream no doubt supplying a visionary victim for the oc-Châtel by indulgence, and after this accident they did casion--and raising his arm, he plunged the knife into not wish to retain him." the mattress with a fierce determination that convinced “ I do not wonder at that, I am sure," said I. “But me I should have had very little chance of surviving why did he deny having been there? When I spoke the blow had I been where he imagined me. Again and of it to him just now, he only shook his head.” again he struck, I looking on with a horror that words “ He did not mean to deny it, I daresay,” said the could but feebly paint; and then he suddenly started— prior; “ but he never speaks. Fra Dominique has the uplifted arm was arrested — the pursuer was at taken a vow of eternal silence." hand: he first rushed to the window, and opened it, Here Charles Lisle brought his story to a conclusion. but being only a small lattice, there was no egress How extremely shocking!' exclaimed Lady Arathere, so he turned to the door, making his escape minta ; whilst the whole company agreed that he had that way; and I could hear his foot distinctly flying made out an excellent excuse for wishing to sleep with along the gallery till he reached his own cell. By his door locked, and that he had very satisfactorily this time I was perfectly satisfied that it was no entitled himself to the promised exchange. spirit I had seen, but the veritable Brother Lazarus, or Dominique, or whatever his name was--for he might have half a dozen aliases for aught I knew—though

BOOKSELLERS. how he had contrived to come to life again, if he were BOOKSELLERS are an ancient and venerable fraternity. dead, or by what means, or for what purpose, he could They are associated so intimately with the production have persuaded the monks of Pierre Châtel of his de- of literature, that they may almost be considered a sort cease, if the fact were not so, I could not conceive. of authors themselves. And many of them have been There was no fastening to my door, and the first ques: authors in reality, so easy is the transition from handtion that occurred to me was, whether this diabolical dream of his was ever repeated twice in one night. I ling to making a book. Tonson, Dodsley, Richardson, had often heard that the magic number of three is apt Murray, and Constable, the great names of the profesto prevail on these occasions; and if so, he might come sion, were all less or more bookseller-authors, and beback again. I confess I was horridly afraid that he sides writing volumes themselves, were the cause of would. In the meantime I found myself shivering with hundreds of volumes being written by others. cold, and was, perforce, obliged to creep into the bed, where indeed I was not much warmer. Sleep was of tan age from the era of Tonson to Constable, a space of

As old as literature itself, bookselling had its Auguscourse out of the question. I lay listening anxiously, about a hundred years, beginning in the early part of expecting either the stealthy foot of Brother Lazarus, or the glad sound of the matin bell

, that would summon the eighteenth century. During that great epoch the the monks from their cells, and wondering which I 'trade' revelled in quartos and octavos. Hume, and all should hear first. Fortunately for my nerves it was the other eminent authors, came out first in quarto the latter ; and with alacrity I jumped out of bed, the lordly two-guinea quarto; and having satiated the dressed myself, and descended to the chapel.

more eager and deep-pursed part of the community in • When I reached it, the monks were on their knees, that agreeable form, down they reluctantly came to the and their cowls being over their heads, I could not, octavo – the moderate middle-class-of-society twelveas I ran my eye over them, distinguish my friend the somnambulist; but when they rose to their feet, his shilling octavo. These, these were the days, Mr Rigtall gaunt figure and high shoulders were easily dis- marole! Booksellers then were booksellers. To sell a cernible, and I had identified him before I saw his dozen quartos in a forenoon was a satisfactory way of face. As they passed out of the chapel, I drew near and doing business. The transaction had a pleasing faresaluted him, observing that I believed I had had the well flavour. pleasure of seeing him before at Pierre Châtel; but he There is nothing certain in this unsteady world. only shook his head, as if in token of denial; and as I The quarto and octavo era came to an end. It went could obtain no other answer to my further attempts out with George III., the last of the kings who wore at conversation, I left him, and proceeded to pay my respects to the prior. Of course I felt it my duty to powdered wigs. Then was let in a deluge of demomention my adventure of the previous night, for Brother cratic shapes and prices. Duodecimo, post-octavo, Lazarus might on some occasion chance to act out his eighteenmo, sixteenmo, and a hundred other vos and dream more effectually than he had had the opportu-mos, bewildered the aged members of the profesnity of doing with me and Père Jolivet.

sion. Books at three-and-sixpence and half-a-crown * I am extremely sorry indeed,” said Padre Pachorra were a rank heresy. •Literature is ruined, and we are when he had heard my story; "they must have omitted ruined with it,' was the melancholy dirge sung by many to lock him into his cell last night. I must speak about a worthy bibliopole. Things, however, were not by any it, for the consequences might have been very serious.” means at their worst; but fortunately all the old book!." Very serious to me certainly,” said I. “ But how sellers, who delighted in the sale of quartos, and con

is it I see this man here alive? When I quitted Pierre stitutionally adhered to queues, were dead and in their Châtel I was told he was dead, and I saw the prepara- graves before this revolutionary movement ensued. tions for his burial.”

Easy, says the proverb, are the steps to destruction. They believed him dead," returned the prior ; " but The eighteenmo, and other transitionary mos, having he was only in a trance; and after he was screwed down run their race, and half-crowns and shillings become in his coffin, just as they were about to lower it into no longer practicable, what did not the trade' endure the grave, they felt that something was moving within. when they saw an actual descent into brown money! They opened it, and Fra Dominique was found alive. This monstrous aggression on vested rights occurred in It appeared, from his own account, that he had been the reign of William IV., and was clearly one of those saffering extremely from his dreadful dream, on occa- wicked attempts to founder the monarchy which marked sion of the visit of some young stranger - an English- that unhappy period. man, I think.”

Eighteen hundred and thirty-two, what have you not ** Myself, I have no doubt," said I.

to answer for! Books at a penny! Worse still-books Probably," returned the prior ; " and this was either at a penny-halfpenny! Odd halfpence counted! How the cause or the consequence of his illness, for it is on earth would it be possible to reckon a profit of fivedifficult to decide which."

and-twenty per cent. on three-halfpence? Plain figures ** But how came he here?" I inquired.

could not do it. It would require decimal fractions ; “It was in this monastery he commenced his voca- l but then where was the coinage to nieet such a state


of infinitesimal reckoning? The legislature ought cer- trade was strictly and well adapted. A new order tainly to interfere. If it did not, there was only one of affairs ensues. Sheets, each a book of its kind. hope left, and that was, that every one of the brown are printed by machinery to the extent of hundreds of money intruders would very shortly be ruined !

thousands of copies. The number of sheets which our In this manner, with blended feelings of consolation own machines alone turn out annually is ten millions ; and despair, the bookselling world looked on the revolu- and this is but a fragment of the new kind of trade in tion from silver to copper which broke out in 1832. As literature. It may seem that, if we can manage to is always the case in revolutions, the universal notion distribute ten millions of sheets through the ordinary was, that things would by and by return to their wonted channels of trade, there is nothing to complain of. This condition, and that all would go on comfortably as is reasoning which would do for the eighteenth, not for usual-meaning thereby that the cheap-sheet nonsense the nineteenth century. Let us grapple with particulars. would soon explode, and no more about it. This ex- Of each number of our Journal, about eighty thousand pectation was not creditable to the acumen of the bib- copies have for years been distributed. Fifty thousand liopolic community. Instead of setting their faces so of these are issued in monthly parts, and such are, to generally against the change, and prophesying all sorts all intents and purposes, monthly magazines, purchased of bad endings to the new régime, they should have per- by the higher-class families. Thirty thousand are disceived-Jacob Tonson and Dodsley would have done so posed of in single sheets, the way we really wish the --that the cheap-sheet idea was nothing more than an work to be sold. Now, what are these thirty thousand exponent of the age. In the progress of human affairs, cheap sheets among twenty-eight millions of people ? a time had arrived when nobody had any guineas, half- Say that, with our Miscellany of Tracts, and other crowns, or shillings to spend on books. There was no- things, we dispose of two hundred thousand sheets per thing left in the pockets of the human race but a few week, what is even that amount to the reading popuodd pence and halfpence. But, deplorable as was such a lation of the British islands and colonies ? Our object catastrophe, it happened that there was still as much all along has been to reach the masses, but we cannot money in the world as ever. The only novelty was, the get to them. In vain, as we said in a late article, do we dispersion of the money through a great many pockets: cheapen literature to the verge of non-productiveness ; there being, for example, eight men each with three- the persons for whom we write and incur hazards are halfpence, in place of one who formerly had a shilling. not those, generally speaking, who become our purThe change was not confined to books. Every object chasers. Our sheets are addressed to the cottage firewhich could be manufactured by the agency of wheels side; they find their way to drawing-rooms. Mr instead of men and women's fingers, similarly, and about Knight-of whom the 'trade ' have no little reason to the same time, came down in price with a marvel- be proud-makes, we believe, a similar remark. There lous celerity. Where is the haberdasher who cannot is, he observes, a universal tendency for sheets to run show a piece of beautiful lace, which, within his remem into the book form; the proper interpretation of which brance, was sold at half-a-crown a yard, but is now seems to be, that the enginery for sheet distribution is offered at the humble price of three-halfpence?

imperfect, and that booksellers generally encourage the Of all mad ideas, that is the maddest which antici- monthly part or book form, as everyway less troublepates a return of old usages in trade. Yet how common to see men endowed with rationality standing coolly by, The great question, however, remains-Do the masses, in the hope that affairs will resume their previous cha- that is, the bulk of the manual labouring classes in racter, and with all their might denouncing changes of town and country, really wish to buy literary sheets ? which it should have been their duty to take advantage. Is it not all a delusion and fallacy for publishers like One of the first principles of commercial wisdom consists ourselves to imagine that these classes have a taste for in a ready adaptation to what is evidently about to be reading, or that it is possible to create such a taste in come a new fashion of taste. To stand aloof and jeer is a them? After making every proper allowance for the piece of short-sighted folly, which carries with it its own unsuitableness of existing literary sheets, our own inpunishment; because others less scrupulous minister cluded, to the tastes of the working-classes, we are to the popular fancy, and speedily leave their brethren inclined to think that a large proportion of them would nothing to laugh at but their own incredulity. Book- become purchasers if the article were brought distinctly sellers, we fear, were too long sceptical as to the per- within their reach. At present, few of them enter manency or propriety of the cheaper class of publica- booksellers' shops; and unless a person frequent these tions. Many, resisting them as long as possible, have establishments, he cannot, according to old-established even at the last given but a faint and ungracious adher- usage, become a buyer of books. The only sure way to ence to that great modern principle of trade-small reach the masses is to act aggressively-take the bookprofits on numerous transactions, instead of large pro- sellers’ shop to their doors and firesides, and let them fits on few transactions. On the whole, however, con see and handle what is going on in the department of siderable allowances for an entirely altered state of literature specially addressed to them. But who could things require to be made. Booksellers with neat undertake to send salaried agents to the doors of all the counters and prim shelves could not, with complacency, working people of Great Britain, in the hope of selling see the disorderly intrusion of bales of loose sheets, them halfpenny tracts? There appears to us to be only which threatened a demand for new accommodation, two means by which the thing could be feasibly atnew book-keeping, and an addition of sundry new hands. tempted. One would consist in country booksellers The truth is, the poor trade' were taken a good deal greatly altering the style of their operations. Instead by surprise, and out of that state they have not all as of laying a parcel of new tracts or cheap popular books yet been able to come.

on their counters, and there letting them take their So much may be granted by way of palliation; but chance, they might either proceed themselves, or send unfortunately no degree of allowance can exactly mend persons in their employment, to call on all parties around the matter. To our mind the fact is as clear as the likely to become purchasers. If well-worked, such a sun at noonday, that the existing bookselling apparatus system would carry literature into every neighbourhas failed as an enginery for the distribution of cheap hood, and probably extend the sale of cheap and useful literary sheets. To do justice to the recent innovations, books immensely; and it would have the advantage an entirely new system of trade, supplementary to the of being carried out at scarcely any expense. other, would be desirable, in order to bring the distri Should provincial booksellers find it inconvenient or butive into harmony with the productive. Here is the impracticable to institute any such process, then another way the thing stands. Twenty years ago, books were distributive enginery might be attempted. Small shopgenerally printed in small editions of seven hun keepers in the country, or in densely-peopled neighdred and fifty or one thousand copies; and for the dis. bourhoods, might safely and profitably adventure in tribution of these limited quantities the bookselling the trade of selling cheap and popular tracts; and so

might individuals out of employment take up the busi- ago to raise himself. In these anecdotes do we not see ness of hawking articles of this kind. A number of a miniature of the social world ?—the true and honest instances have come to our knowledge of parties, for- man getting forward in his arduous enterprises ; the merly in wretchedness, making a good livelihood by false, the self-indulgent, the indolent, lost in the great this easily-conducted trade, while at the same time gulf of human wretchedness. they greatly extended the taste for popular literature. In a large town, where the sale of our Journal could not by the usual means be raised above fifty copies, an

JACQUES LAFITTE. enterprising individual, stepping beyond the bounds of IF men make their boast of the honourable name, the trade,' elevated it with ease to twelve hundred the rank in life, which they inherit from their fathers, copies. In another, but much larger town, the sales of why should it not be a much nobler boast to owe only our publications generally have been latterly doubled, to myself, to my own talent, my genius, my industry, merely by a bookseller in the place having incited a name, and fortune, and position in society-to make few men in poor circumstances to become peripatetic them all, in short, for myself?' dealers. There is not one of these men, he teīls us, who Such were the reflections of a youth who, one mornsells fewer than forty volumes daily of our Miscellany ing in the year 1787, was hurrying, in much apparent of Useful and Entertaining Tracts immediately after agitation, along the street of the Chaussee d'Antin, and their publication; and all this over and above what the who now stopped, as if undecided what to do, before regular trade were in the habit of distributing. These, one of the handsomest hotels in Paris, which had been and other circumstances, convince us that the process long the abode of a great banker. of distributing literature has fallen considerably behind No sooner had he passed through the gate, than a the age, and admits of prodigious extension through very natural feeling of timidity made the youth draw the agency of a new class of tradesmen acting aggres- back a few steps, while his mild and pleasing countesively on the masses.

nance seemed to assume a still more pensive expression Whether these rambling observations may have the as his eye for a moment fell upon his plain coarse garb. effect of calling into existence such an agency as we The courage which had led him on 80 far had sudspeak of, is of course to be determined by time alone; denly abandoned him, and he would have gone away but we mention a fact, by way of showing that our as he came, if the concierge, or house-porter, who had ideas on the subject are not altogether visionary. One been for some moments watching and smiling at his day, about nine or ten years ago, a young man from embarrassment, had not advanced towards him and the country waited upon us to crave our assistance. He inquired what he wanted. was not begging. He told us that he had been a hand * I wish to see Monsieur Perregaux,' replied he, enloom weaver ; that his trade was gone; that he could couraged by something in the look of the man. no longer subsist by it; and that he was determined to *You can walk up stairs,' answered the porter, pointtry something else. He said he had always had a taste ing to a wide handsome staircase, which our young for reading, and he fancied that he could make a live- hero ascended as if every step was made of fire, so lihood by going about the country selling books and much did he dread cutting with his hob-nailed and tracts. The only difficulty was this—he had no capital dusty shoes the soft rich carpets which covered it. to begin with. Would we give him credit? All he In the anteroom he found a great many people, and wished was a small stock of our publications, to the stood modestly in a corner, while the big tears were value of L.2; and to show that we might rely on trembling in his eyes as he thought of his native town, bis integrity, he produced a certificate of character of the paternal roof, of the companions of his childhood, from the minister of a congregation to which he had and of the last adieu of his mother-her anguish, her been some years attached. This little bit of paper was fears, her admonitions. all the young man had to depend on. His fate trembled • You have here a humble home, but still a home,' said on our decision. Starvation in one scale of the balance, she weepingly; 'what do you expect to do at Paris ?' a comfortable independence in the other. The latter I want to make my fortune,' replied the young man, went down with a bang. We gave him the credit he and then to share it with you, and my father, and my required. He sold the books in a few days, and came brothers.' to pay some of his debt, and get more books. In a few Fortune does not always come to him who seeks,' days, again, he sold these, paid up a little more of his said the anxious mother. debt, and again had a fresh supply. Thus he went on, But it never comes to those who do not seck,' realways getting the more cheerful and enterprising; plied the young enthusiast. extending his business round the country, and realising • Well,' said the fond mother, ‘go, if it must be so ; a comfortable livelihood. Where and what is he doing but should you not succeed, do not be ashamed to return now? That once abject hand-loom weaver is at this to us. The house of your father, and the arms of your moment a respectable bookseller in a country town, mother, will be ever open to you, and, like the prodigal, with a number of persons in his employment. From you shall have the fatted calf killed for you.' first to last he has dispersed a large quantity of our He had laughed in his youthful ardour at the puerile sheets and books; and of other publications his sales fears of his mother. Not succeed !' said he to himself; bave doubtless been far more considerable.

impossible!' Nor was bis faith shaken in the morning The success of this person, whom we may call hand- on which he left his home; for that morning was a loom weaver No. 1, incited another individual, whom lovely one in April, and how could he distrust the ve may call hand-loom weaver No. 2, to try the same gracious providence of God, whilst the very air he sort of trade. We likewise granted him credit on the breathed seemed redolent with his goodness? But as like terms; and he also, we are glad to say, turned out he drew near the end of his journey, the goal of his well, and is now in respectable circumstances. Hearing hopes, he began to feel some misgivings; and by degrees of all this, hand-loom weaver No. 3 made his appear- they took such possession of his mind, and of every ance; and he, after a little inquiry, was placed on the faculty, that at the moment it came to his turn to have same footing with his predecessors. No. 3, however, an audience of the banker, he would gladly have been was a failure. Having got the two pounds' worth of anywhere else. credit, we never saw him more. The cash he got into Monsieur Perregaux was standing in the window : his hands proved too heavy a temptation. There were, he was reading a letter, and hardly raised his eyes as in his opinion, a great many good drams and bottles of the youth entered, as if awaiting his speaking; but porter in two pounds. And to indulge his appetite in hearing nothing but a hurried breathing, he at length these, he sacrificed a lifetime of respectability and com- looked up, and perceived a very pleasing countenance, fort. At this moment he is precisely in the position and lips parted as if to address him, but no sound was from which he made the too ambitious effort some years audible.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »