Page images

These ideas are but the prelude to a late adventure among the scenes of rural life, where although there was no music to delight the ear but the songs of birds,-no gambols but those of the tame ducks upon


sunny waters:--these were the charms of simplicity, and the welcome of sincerity, and where the principal perforiners in our little pastoral were a poor old man and his mate, whom I shall distinguish by the names of Baucis and Philemon.

It was early in June, and one of those mornings that makes the bosom grateful to heaven for the beauties and the bounties of the season, when I left Thanet with Statira by my side, with an intent to visit Canterbury, where we proposed to gratify ourselves with the rarities of that ancient city, and return in sober time to our temporary station. We had but just crossed the Wantsum at Sarre, when suddenly appeared to us, rolling up majestically from the south-west, a ponderous sable cloud, attended with thunder and frequent zig-zag flashes of electrical fire ;-thinking to reach Upstreet before the tempest descended, I drove our horse with greater speed, but in this I was mistaken, for the elements became more troubled, and the rain began to fall abundantly. A shepherd boy, who beheld our situation, pointed the way to Grove Ferry, assuring us it was the nearest shelter; when we turned down a narrow lane that leads to the river Stour, and alighted almost drenched, at a Fisherman's hut, the inmates consisted of a healthy looking old man, his wife, and a daughter, the latter from home. Statira was presently stripped of her wet covering, a faggot refreshed the fire, and in a short time all was well again; the heavens became clear, and the sun more powerful than before, and we once more began to think on our journey, when from the honest solicitations of the rural-pair, we were prevailed on to partake of an cel-pie, a plate of cherries, and a bottle of old beer, given to them by their landlord at the time they paid their last rent :—and here let me give the reader some description of the place that gave us shelter, and of the humble pair that dried our garments, and gave us all they had for our refreshment.

GROVE FERRY. The end of the lane we turned down is crossed by the lower Stour, close to which is the fisherman's hut, extremely rude and singular in its construction, and so humiliating within, that the same posts which propped the tester of the bed, kept up the moss. covered roofing of the fabric; the chimney was so low as to admit the sun-beams through its top; and the hearth, sacred to the Lares, composed of a few bricks surmounted by a couple of ancient iron-dogs to sustain the glowing faggot; beside the bed, all the furniture consisted of two broken arın chairs, and a cricket, an apology for a table, a brass kettle, and another circumstance no decent dwelling is without, beside some adornments I had like to have forgot, but these were more for keeping out the wind than for their value, for they were pasted carefully over the cracks made by the violence of time, and composed of a number of English ballads,-among the rest were the Babes in the Wood, the downfall of the Miller's Daughter, and Billy is the Lad for me; the Wanton Wife of Bath, and the Merry Cuckolds; and no other print or memorandum to be found except some notches on a cleft stick, signifying an account of unpaid-for labour, the utility of which was only known to the recorder and his dame, who, though they are under no obligation to the schools, are perfectly moral, accommodating to strangers, and in their domestic pursuits cleanly to a proverb. If a party should be inclined to dine in the shades, and bring with them the necessary prog, old

Philemon will catch and dress them eels, and dame Baucis will make the tea, and purvey the sweetest butter. The ferry-boat, as well as for man, serves for the grazing cattle on the opposite side, and is hawled over by pulling a rope stretched across the stream; the adjacent country exhibits all we know of Paradise, or read of in the garden of Tempe. To the top of a high bank, which the old folks call their look-out, is a flight of fifty steps of their own erecting, which afford the visitor no small share of gratification, for from this elevated spot he may behold whatever is passing on the winding waters, or in the circumambient air ; and thus within these romantic premises live this antiquated pair, who at the age of ninety, are Merry! Contented! HEALTHY! and AFFECTIONATE !

Ye tyrants of the bleeding world ; ye proud and bloated worms, swoln with excess, arrogance, and conceit ; ye troubled souls, ever hunting after riches, wasting life dishonorably, what are ye all about ? --Forego your unprofitable pursuits,-take example from the rustics I have described, and remember the poet's song.--

“ Pilgrim here thy fears forego,

1 All earth-born cares are wrong: " Man wants but little here below,

“ Nor wants that little long." After a 'proper remuneration to our hosts, we left their hospitable though humble roof, and having once more attained the high road to Canterbury, in about an hour we entered the great city of the Kentish kings, and, while the cook was preparing our dinner, the muse being in good humour, I inarked the subsequent stanzas on my tablets :


Ah! never scorn the rural pair,

Ye great, who live in splendid strife,
For sure some little fame they share,

the lower walks of life; Reward them from thy stores of wealth,

Go, cheer the artless, honest poor ; How sweet to see content and health

Gay smiling, at the cottage door.

Oft where at noon the broad-leaf'd vine

Spreads wide, a shade from summer heat, Old Gaffer sits him down to dine

With modest Gammer cleanly neat. And now the bomely loaf they part,

(Rich wines of France, let grandeur sip,) Ah! hear how grateful beats the heart,

The while the piteher cools the lip.

Refreshment waits the humble meal,

Of morning labours now they talk, Or else some tender wish reveal,

For Youngsters on the distant walk ; If to true bliss the fancy tow'rs,

So simple is contentment's lot, She finds it in her garden flow'rs,

And he within his pipe and pot.

If for less music both incline,

The cricket sings from bakehouse nigh, While robin redbreast wakes the bine

With notes, refinement can't supply; Sweet Philomela near at hand

Pours around her plaintive strains, The blackbird whistles o'er the land,

Where peace throughout the summer reigns.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]


(Continued from page 120.)

These comforts, probably, reached the ear, and gave offence to the inexorable soul of Madame Pompadour. In four months time, Latude was removed to the prison of Vincennes. The discipline of this place was very strict, a guard was constantly in the room, to watch every movement, and report every word spoken by the prisoner. The uneasiness of his mind occasioned an illness, from which he suffered considerably, and found his best remedy in ruminating on the means of making his escape. He effected it about fourteen months after his first apprehension in this manner. He had liberty to walk in the garden two hours every day, accompanied by two turnkeys. Sometimes the oldest waited for him at the foot of the stairs, while the other came alone to open the room door. At such times he would always hasten down stairs to rejoin the other; and the younger turnkey, accustomed to find him always safe below, never hastened his pace to follow him. One day, the moment the door was opened, he darted down the staircase, fastened a door at the foot, and proceeded to an outward door, guarded by a centinel; he knocked, the centinel opened it, he inquired if the Confessor was arrived, for that he was wanted instantly; and walked on, as if to fetch him ; he deceived a second, a third, and a fourth centinel, in the same manner, and found himself once more free.

He hastened to Paris ; but the dread of being retaken, destroyed all the enjoyment of liberty, and he thought, by throwing himself on Madame Pompadour's mercy and generosity, he might obtain her forgiveness. He drew up a memorial to the King, and pointed out at the close of it the place of his retreat. He was immediately arrested, and sent again to the Bastille.

His confinement was now more severe; he was put into a dungeon, where the light could scarcely find admittance. His kind friend, the Lieutenant of the Police, did what he could to relieve his sufferings, by ordering him good diet, and the use of books, paper, and ink. On the margin of one of these buoks, Latude had the imprudence to write some satirical lines on his powerful enemy. They were carried to her, and her enmity became inveterate. In answer to an application made in his favor, she showed these verses : “ See what a wretch you plead for ; never mention him to me more !" He reinained eighteen months in this dungeon, when his friend, the Lieutenant, procured his removal into a chamber, and offered him the accommodation of a servant.-A man was induced, by offer of high wages, to leave his wife and children, and enter the Bastille : but


having done this, the regulations forbid his ever going out, or holding any correspondence without the walls, unless his master obtained his liberty. The poor fellow, who had thus engaged himself to Latude, could not long support his situation; he pined so much after his liberty, that it brought on a fit of illness, and he died in the Bastille. This was a severe affliction, but it was alleviated by the kindness of the same friend, to whoin he had already been so much indebted, and another companion supplied the place of the one he had lost. D'Alégre had already been a prisoner three years; and his sufferings proceeded from his having written a letter of advice and caution to Mad. Pompadour. He had, equally with Latude, experienced the kindness of the compassionate Lieutenant, who continued to exert himself to the utmòst to procure their release. He one day put an end to their hopes, by saying that Madame Pompadour had sworn that her hatred should be eternal, and had ordered him never again to mention their names. D'Alégre gave himself up to despair; Latude formed the extraordinary design of escaping; a design which, probably, no prisoner had ever entertained, and which certainly no one had ever carried into effect.

To find a way through the rioors, and to pass the numerous centinels, was an absolute impossibility. To most minds it would have appeared equally so to mount a chimney, which was full of grates and bars of iron, to descend from a tower, near two hundred feet high, and to pass a fosse, guarded by a high wall, yet this was performed by Latude and his companion, in the following manner.

Latude first discovered, in an ingenious manner, that there was a space of four or five feet between the floor of his apartment and the cieling of that below him, and he made use of that to conceal his tools and materials, which must otherwise have betrayed them to their watchful guardians.

Their table was held together by two bolts of iron : these bolts they sharpened upon the pavement ; of the steel from a tinderbox they made small knife, and cut two handles for them. These instruinents were intended to work out the bars of iron in the chimney.

Their first operation was to find a good access to their depôt, which was accomplished in the course of one night, and answered fully to their wishes; but they could only work in the night, after all the visits of the day were over. They then unravelled two shirts, formed the threads into'twine, and twisted those again into a cord sufficiently strong to bear the weight of a man. With this they made a rope ladder, twenty feet in length, to support themselves in the chimney, while they unfastened the bars and spikes with which it was secured. The labor of doing this was very severe, on account of the hardness of the cement,

« PreviousContinue »