« PreviousContinue »
same pane, in the same window, during our play pleasantly near, B. would hold up his finger, and, hours, kuocking with a key, till he had worn a hole as a natural result, the 'bus would immediately in the glass, and, whenever he caught an eye, stop, when crossing jauntily over, he would bow beckoning frantically for the boy to come in, and and say, " Thank you, sir, not this time,” followed not play any longer? Lastly, shall I tell how, so by a shower of invectives froin the deluded con. sure as quarter-day came, the learned doctor sallied ductor and cad. forth for the receipt of some mysterious income or pension, one half of which was forthwith expended in certain strong dilutions that sent him reeling home, whilst the other was laid out upon
CHAPTER XIII. tables, for which he had an extravagant mania, and
SOUVENIRS OF HOME. which never could be got into his house, excepting through the windows ? Or how, on such occasions, My early home in England, like that of a great brought up by some ditch, the doctor would lay many other East Indians, was somewhere in tbe and contemplate the stars, until some wary police- neighbourhood of Kensington—to wit, in Sloane map, expostulating upon the lateness of the hour, Street. If some of my school acauaintances we received for reply—“ Get away, man, or I'll kick eccentric, I leave the reader to judge what kind ye to my fut! Don't ye see that I'm taking the of originals my own immediate connexions were. angle of yonder star !"
In the first place I, in common with all my elder All these are stitched together and bound up brothers and sisters, had been consigned to the with my recollections of good but eccentric Dr. M. care of six maiden aunts; ladies who had once - now, alas, many years gathered to his fathers. won and held the hearts of countless victims both
Another strange character, who figured conspi. | at home and abroad, but whose capricious dispocuously in those sunny days, was the father of two sitions had outlived their charms and left them of my schoolfellows, the eccentric but talented old (alas ! that I should say it), like so many bean. Mr. B. B. was an author of high standing, and a stalks, stripped of verdure and beauty by the decided old beau of the Brummel school. He equinoctial autumnal gales. The six Miss N.'s prided himself on everything he wore, from his had once passed under the pleasant soubriquet of cravat to his pumps, and was the terror of French “the beautiful,” but this was long before my time tailors at Paris. Often with our legs under his and years, and disappointments had dealt unkindly hospitable mahogany have we listended to the with them. Nevertheless, they were excellent eloquence and wit of men whose names are fami- | guardians of youth, and terrible disciplinarians. liar to literature, and to draw out each one of Owing to the gallant services of my uncle George, these in his own particular hobby was old B.'s the East India Company had awarded them a very greatest delight. Having been in India myself, I handsome pension; in addition to which, the became a species of young lion-a cub of a minor various sums paid for our board and lodging, and breed : and over and over again has the stale joke that of sundry other cousins of like juvenile agesbeen elicited by the simple quesiton, “ By-the. and the income of one Lady A., the widow of bye, N., you've been in India, eh ?" "Yes, sir.”' a K.C.B., of the Bengal Engineers, afforded them “They hunt with chetahs there, don't they ?" On affluent means, and they occupied a perfect manour replying in the affirmative, out came the bon sion, maintained in becoming grandeur. The bouche - Ha, ha! How different froin us. In story of this old lady was most remarkable : England we don't hunt with chetabs, but we in an exceedingly handsome and spirited girl, she variably hunt cheaters, Sir.”
had early in life married Sir Thomas, then simply His greatest antipathy was fuszy old women and | Colonel A., of the Bengal Engineers. Emi. omnibus cads. With regard to the former, I grating with him to the East, her charms and her well remember one occasion, when a fidgetty old excellent and bold horsewomanship attracted the lady called in at B.'s, all of a tremble. She had admiration and laudatory praise of all officials, witnessed such a terible accident, she said, “So from the Right Hon. the Goveruor-General down shocking, so heartrending-oh! dear, dear! 'twas to the latest arrived Ensign. The hot sun of terrible.” “What was it, mum ?" impatiently India, and exposure to the glare, unfortunately observed old B. “A poor apple woman, knocked for Lady A., caused a slight skin eruption, over by a cab, and carried into the nearest which, doubtless, proper remedies might have chemists.” “Was she much hurt, mum?" | speedily removed. Impatient, however, of the “ No; but her clothes were shockingly torn ?" slightest interruption in life, and heeding the “Hum !” said old B., angrily; "better have recommendation of some native quack, she made
I her to a tailor's, mum, instead of a chem- use of a powerful remedy, constituted chiefly of ist's ! ”
mercury, which produced a species of paralysis, and As for omnibus people they knew B. by sight crippled her for life. Her naturally fiery temper to a man; and, I earnestly believe, would bave | became perfectly vicious, and her husband, though gladly driven over him had the opportunity pre- devotingly fond of her, was forced to a separation, sented itself. Whenever B. wanted to cross a and allowing her a very liberal income, sent her street, and a 'bus chanced to be coming up un- ' home under the care of two of my aunts, with
whom she ever afterwards remained, through a male victim. In one thing, however, old D. kept period of not less than forty years. Though up his courage he never lost his appetite. swholly deprived of all exercise during this long Happy was this ruined nabob when one of us boys period (save only such as could be taken in the had the carving of the joint, for he knew no Vauxchair that wheeled her from room to room), she hall slices would fall to his lot that day. Imme. never, till within a day or so of her death, lost her diately after breakfast it was his daily custom to appetite, spirit, or energy. It was really hard to go out for a constitutional, which usually extended say wbich we youngsters most dreaded, her lady. a couple of hours or more. With old ship or her maid ; the latter was certainly a bachelor precision, his room, and everything in it, terrible incubus to every individual of the house- was always kept in apple-pie order, so that if a hold, but more especially a terror to all the maid. pin were only misplaced he would tell that some. servants. Yet, Mrs. J. and my lady were insepar- body had been there. Weather-wise, in his own ables, and none dared go against them openly; estimation, he invariably left bis window wide not even my six aunts in solemn conclave, assisted open, with sundry choice garments airing on chair and abetted by a grown up niece (who was herself backs close to it, when, in his opinion, there was the mother of two daughters), and her brother, an not the slightest chance of any rain falling. It old Indian bachelor. Not all these forces could sometimes happened that, like other mortals, he make head against Lady A. and her handmaid, was deceived in his judgments and opinions, and till the latter, in an unlucky moment of if only a few drops of rain chanced to fall during inebriety, was detected making free use of her his absence, so surely would we mischief-loving ladyslip's best port wine, and forthwith handed urchins inundate his apartment, and then, hidden oser to a constable; an event which was produc- by a partition, impatiently await his return and tive of universal rejoicings in the establishment. enjoy his surprise as, on re-entering his room, he
Next to Lady A. herself, old D., the Indian, gazed on the prospect before him. ranked as a curiosity. For fifty years nearly had “It is very extraordinary ! it hardly rained two he rolled in riches and luxury, as a partner in one drops out o doors, and here's my best coat wet of the wealthiest firms at Madras, till a sudden through and ruined !" crash deprived him of his last farthing, involving Spite, in its most unmitigated form, existed bethousands in ruin and misery, besides rendering tween old D. and Lady A. They had known each him responsible for debts that fell very little short other in their youthful and palmy days; Airted, of a million sterling. From this unpleasant pre- danced, and hunted together, and they were now dicament he managed, with the assistance of his by a strange accident forced into each other's sister, to extricate himself by leaving India, and society - living monuments of one and the other's now, after three score years of independence and folly. affluerce, found himself utterly dependent for sup- “ Were you ever married, D.?” was the most port upon others, and subjected to the hundred | heart.rending and grievous question that Lady A. annoying wbims and caprices of a herd of old could possibly put to the unhappy old bachelor. maiden ladies, who seemed to take special delight “ Married !” he would shout in reply, “who in exercising their authority over their unfortunate would marry after your example ?"
TANGLED TAL K.
"Sir, we had talk."-Dr. Johnson. "Better be an outlaw than not free."-Jean Paul, the Only One. "The honourablest part of talk is to give the occasion; and then to moderate again, and pass to somewhat else." -Lord
sionally happens that a composition which, after “ Heard melodies,” says Keats, " are sweet ; you have slept on it, you decline to post, may but those unheard are sweeter.” Letters despatched contain things which, struck off at fever heat, you to their original destination, we might say, are
will never say better, try as you may. interesting; but those never despatched are more lay it by, not with any design of using it, proba50. Volatile people--and people to whom, being bly, but from a sort of unwillingness to throw of artist-mould, expression is a necessity-write away what rings true. numerous epistles which never reach the hands of One reason why we do not post all the letters the individuals addressed, for the simplest and we write-while young, at all events,—is, that we most satisfactory of reasons—they are never sent. sometimes find them too true. We feel a sort of The writers change their minds. Still, they very shame that “ Pysche, my Soul,” should so loosen osten keep the MSS. To some of us, every her zone to strangers. Has it never happened to register of strong feeling is precious ; and it occa. you to blush, when, all alone, you have accident
ally turned up an Unsent Letter of old days, little after 10 a.m., I was in your street, watehwhich contained no love, and no sin, but seemed ing your door. At about the half-bour, I saw to lay you too bare almost to your own self ? you come out, accompanied by a lady, whom I “Oh, was that I? Could I ever have thought of took to be your mamma; and I judged, from the writing like that to that Brown ? Psyche, my way in which I saw you turn and deliver some sweet, for shame!"
orders to the servant who let you out, that it was Perhaps it may cross your mind at such a mo- your home. My heart leaped up with joy. I ment that you failed in duty to your "truth of followed you to church, dear, dear Madam, and truth," in not sending Brown the communication! witnessed the devout attention with which you How do you know what a prophecy he might have listened to the Rev.Cornelius Butterbrains,of whom found it ? “ Letters once committed to the box," I have myself been an occasional hearer. Forgive says the Postmaster-General, " are the property of me, if I mention any, the slightest circumstance, Her Majesty, and cannot be delivered up to the which may serve to create the most momentary sender on any pretence whatsoever.” A wholesome link between us ! regulation. Suppose you adopt some such rule “I could not summon courage to take a seat with respect to all communications once penned? where I might be sure of catching your eye; nor, If you began to speak to Brown, you would feel in truth, did the pew-opener appear disposed to bound to go on.
What difference between speak place me in an auspicious pew. It would be ing by word of mouth and by goosequill? more than I dare hope, that you should have
To quit transcendentals, and deal only with noticed a gentleman who sat three off from the the everyday interests of our nature—what com- fourth pillar under the north gallery, who wore a motions would be raised if ten thousand desks watered silk waistcoat, and dropped his prayercould be made to yield up their secrets in the shape book in the middle of the second lesson. of Unsent Letters !
“In thus trespassing Poor, fast-fading rose," withering on the virgin Aud there, the faded writing breaks off. The thorn," nobody has asked you to live, and you did question is, why did not this excitable, and, let us not know how to live without being asked; but hope, respectable young man, finish and send his what if you could read a somewhat faded epistle letter ? That I cannot say. Perbaps his heart --much blurred, blotted, and corrected—of which misgave him. Perhaps he was poor, and, resolr. I have at this moment a glimpse! Is it possible ? ing upon making inquiries before going any fur
“MADAM.--I am aware that the step I am about ther, discovered that Withering Rose was a to take is an unusual one. True, I am unversed fortune, who would probably pack him off with in the customs of society in such matters, and fear disdain. Perhaps his father failed in business that I should distrust any method I should be likely to very day, and, renouncing all thoughts of marriage, invent for communicating with you as much as the he devoted himself to retrieving his parents' posione I now actually adopt. But unless I have tion. Perhaps he was the young man who was misread your countenance (some epithet-"an-waylaid and murdered about that time under such gelic,”perhaps-struck out before "countenance"), horrible circumstances that Withering Rose turned I feel that even if you should smile-nay, dear pale as she read the newspaper account of it to madam (O forgive me !), even if you should despise, her mamma. One thing is clear, that the letter you will yet pity and pardon.
was never finished or sent. And another, that “ The signature at the foot of this letter will, Withering Rose knows nothing about it till alas! be quite strange to you; but you will, I this number of “Tangled Talk” gives her the doubt not, have already guessed something of its suppressed information. daring purport. Yet, you will naturally inquire, But here is another Unsent Letter, no less Where has this strange correspondent seen me, noticeable in its way :and how does he know my name and address ? “ DEAR JACK. I cannot forbear telling you Dear Madam, the tale is soon told.
that I was deeply wounded at what you said last “On Saturday afternoon last, I was a passenger night of my sbare in that abominable affair of in one of the Wellington omnibuses that go from the Saw-mills. Were you not very tart to your Paddington to the Bank. I had a roll of paper old friend? I can't get over it, so I must tell in my band, and sat opposite to you, at the end you. It cuts me to the quick, and I half fancy nearest the horses. I do not know how to proceed, Polly noticed how I turned. But, if you would yet it is simple, what I wish to say-Oh! pardon, just give me one word pardon, pardon! To see you was to love you. I Once more, never finished, never sent! I can say no more. I can say no less. I did love think we can guess the story of this little letter. you—I do love you, I must love you for ever. Some sharply, suspiciously seeming words bad Love made me bold.
been dropped in the course of a warm and hurried "I took the liberty of following you to the conversation by Jack to Bob, Jack and Bob house whither you went, after you left the omni- being old schoolfellows and friends. There was bus. I waited in the street till past eleven, to no opportunity for explanation at the time, and make sure that it was, at all events, where you next day Bob began a note to his friend to ask were staying. The next day was Sunday. Al him for a word of explanation to set his mind at
rest. When he had got halfway through the that something more than the habit of the eye, note, he thought to himself
, “No, I won't ; I'mor, say, of the mental ear, is offended by the altea morbid, conceited fellow-too thin-skinned by ration made. We have not got the poet's inten. half-Jack will only laugh at 'me in his sleeve, tion. Very subtle indeed are the links between though we are friends. I'll just pocket it, and form and spirit in all imaginative utterances; nay, keep silence.” This was wrong.
in all such utterances as demand any sort of music wounded; he ought to have said so, and given for their expression. The eye takes strange likes Jack a chance of setting matters straight. As for and dislikes. In the same book, within a few Jack, less self-conscious than his friend, he had pages, the present writer took it into his head that not " meant" anything by what he had said, much in one case he must have“ grey,” and in the less remembered it. It sometimes happened, other “gray," for the same word. At the time of however, in the subsequent intercourse of these printing, the thing was as clear as daylight to twain, that a shade of expression in Bob's eye, him; and quite imperative. Six weeks afterwards, coming and going like a flash of lightning, would all that was changed; he had no such fancy about cause Jack acute pain. “What can it mean?"
the matter, he would ask himself ; and, by degrees, a some- As I was turning over Emerson this morning, thing unpleasant, not amounting to a chill, or a well-known passage in the oration on “Literary eren to a coolness, crept into their intercourse, Ethics " shaped itself into blank verse as I read. never to be exorcised thence, as by one sentence Not good blank verse, indeed, but much better on each side it might have been.
than nine-tenths of the unrhymed prose which "Speech," says Carlyle, “is silvern, but silence takes that name. Here is the passage :is golden.” Perhaps. C'est tout selon. Ask The noonday darkness of the primal forest, Withering Rose. The longing for expression has The deep, broad, echoing, aboriginal woods, its rights as well as its duties.
Where living columns of the oak and fir
Bearded, the pines arise, yet touched with grace
By violets at their feet; the lowland broad
And cold, which puts its coat of vapour on Did it ever strike you how very important the typo- Silently as the crystal grows beneath ; grapher's arrangement of the lines is to the effect
And where the traveller, 'mid repalsive forms of poetry P
Of plant-life native to the swamp, recalls
The distant city with a pleasing terror ;
This haggard, desert beauty, which the sun,
The moon, the snow, and rain, repaint and vary,
Has never yet been registered by art,
But is indifferent to no passenger ;
For all, at heart, are poets. Men may serve
Nature for bread, but still her loveliness
O'ercomes them sometimes !
Readers who will turn to the original will find
that my alterations and transpositions are of the Through the ringing grooves of change; most trivial character; in fact that the passage For I doubt not through the ages,
stands nearly as Emerson wrote it.
With the process of the suns ;
A LITERARY PARALLELISM.
We speak of such as are above plagiarism ; above
the need, and above the habit. It is with a thrill How do you like that? Not very well, I am
of pleasure, not with any sentiment of disapproafraid. Perhaps the loss is not so great when we
bation that one finds two great souls saying a turn short lengths into long, as when we turn long
similar thing, and lighting it up with the same into short. This we have tried with snatches
illustration. Read this from Mrs. Browning's from “ Locksley Hall." Now, still keeping to
“Aurora Leigh " :Tennyson, let us reverse the process with a few stanzas from the “ Day-dream” :
A woman cannot do the thing she ought,
Which means whatever perfect thing she can,
To let the perfect action take her part Or to what purpose shall we put the wildweed flower that And rest there : she must prove what she can do simply blows?
Before she does it,-prate of woman's rights, Or is there any moral shut within the bosom of the rose ?
Of woman's mission, woman's function, till That is not such a very disagreeable experi
The men (who are prating, too, on their side) cry,
“A woman's function plainly is to talk. ment as our last, and this kind of verse was Poor souls, they are very reasonably vesed ! formerly so printed. And yet we instinctively feel They cannot hear cach other speak.”
should become unfitted for their ofice, and the An artist, judge so ?
fair creature should die, it is a great sorrow; I, an artist, --yes, Because, precisely, I'm an artist, sir,
something abnormal —a warning; nay, a penalty. And woman,-if another sate in sight,
Such an event says to those who have ears to I'd whisper, Soft, my sister! not a word ! hear: “Purify the air around you ; ventilate your By speaking we prove only we can speak;
dwelling-houses ; minimisc unwholesome influences Which he, the man here, never doubted. What
of all kinds; train your own daughter, if you He doubts is whether we can do the thing
bave one, to active exercise; give her as little With decent grace, we've not yet done at all : Now, do it; bring your statue--you have room!
desk and as much open-air as possible; in a word, He'll see it even by the starlight here ;
do all you can to help her to do what she was And if 'tis c'er so little like the god
made to do to live."
But in serious.consumptive literature, do you
find that moral drawn? I trow not. I have now The universe shall henceforth speak for you,
before me a serious-consumptive memoir of a young And witness, “ She who did this thing was born
| lady of considerable gifts and attainments, not To do it-claims her license in her work."
unknown to literature, in which “our Heavenly
- and enabling her to make "such an early For touching coppers, though her hands be white, and lovely end." And in that spirit the wbole But we, we talk!
book is written. Not a glimpse of perception And then this, from Emerson's Essay on "Spi
that the poor child was a victim to violated lawritual Laws":
law violated, it may be, before she came into exist.
ence-but still violated law, and law God-made. Take the place and attitude to which you see your un.
The general impression left upon the mind of a questionable right, and all men acquiesce. The world must be just. It always leaves every man with perfect uncon.
sost-headed individual would be, that it was rather cern to settle his own rate. It will certainly accept your the right thing for an amiable and gifted girl to own measure of your doing and being, whether you sneak die at twenty-five; and that on her deathbed she about and deny your own name, or whether you see your should make minute verbal corrections in her work produced to the concave sphere of the heavens, one
volume of poems, bequeathing to a friend the with the revolution of the stars. ... A man passes for what he is worth. Very idle is all curiosity concerning
task of arranging “my letters and papers, if other people's estimate of us, and idle is all fear of remain. anything in my poor life should be thought worthy, ing unknown. If a man know that he can do anything- &c., &c." An utterly morbid spirit pervades the that he can do it better than any one else,-- he has a pledge
| whole thing; the entire environment of this un. of the acknowledgment of that fact by all persons. The
fortunate girl seems to have been made up of circumworld is full of judgment days, and into every assembly a man enters, in every action he attempts, he is guaged and
stances adapted to aggravate that preponderance stamped.... Do not trouble yourself too much about of nervous over muscular action which was part the light of your statue, said Michael Angelo to the young of her disease; some of the anecdotes are ridicusculptor, the light of the public square will test its value. lous in their sickliness; the "glorified departed"
It is very pleasant, and perhaps not a little help. (I am not responsible for that phrase) is furnished ful, to a reading man to cherish the habit of noting with a portable inkstand, that she may write under such parallelisms as this. And they abound in the a tree in the park, when common sense would have best literature of all times and countries.
furnished her with a rampant pony to pitch her into the furze-bushes in the park; or, if that were too expensive, with a spirited companion to keep
her at romps as long as possible. And so on, “AN EARLY AND LOVELY DEATH.”
| through anecdote upon anecdotc of nauseating
namby.pambyism, of children who “burst into It is well known in the “Row" that scarcely any tears" on hearing sacred music, and express their books sell so well as pious memoirs; and that of fears lest they should he unable to bear the pious memoirs in general, those go off best which singing in heaven," and feeble-minded seniors, relate to young people, especially young females, who exchange copies of verses—till the end comes. who, after a morbidly exemplary career, Then, after having laughed a little during the have made “an early and lovely deatlı.” The progress of the story, you shut the book in a rage, serious-consumptive market, as we may call it, is exclaiming, “If this amiable creature had been always to be reckoned upon, and a wretchedly helped to live gallantly, instead of being spiritudiseased taste the fact implies.
ally molly.coddled, she might have been living It would scarcely seem to need insisting on, now; or, if God had said Nay' to that, she would that a young girl is made to live. That is at least have bequeathed a healthier memory to her the express object of all this complicated ma- | friends and the world.” chinery of use and beauty. The lungs are to I speak warmly upon this matter, because it is breathe, the heart to beat, the legs to walk and time some one did so. Hundreds of delicate run, the hand to clasp, the lips to kiss, and the young ladies are tacitly taught, by books of this eyes to shine. If by any misfortune the lungs I sort, and the gossip of certain circles, to consider