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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXXII. by Various

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"Have I not in my time heard lions roar?
Have I not heard the sea, puft up with wind,
Rage like an angry boar chafed with sweat?
Have I not heard great ordnance in the field,
And heaven's artillery thunder in the skies?
Have I not in the pitched battle heard
Loud 'larums, neighing steeds, and trumpets clang?"

Why I give the world a sketch of my career through it, is not among the
discoveries which I intend to make. I have been a public man; let those
who know public life imagine what interest may be felt in reviewing the
scenes and struggles of which such a life is full. May there not be a
pleasure in conceiving once again the shapes and circumstances of
things, as one sitting by his fireside sees castles and cottages, men,
women, and children in the embers, and shapes them the better for the
silence and the solitude round him? Let the reader take what reason he
will. I have seen the world, and fought my way through it; have
stumbled, like greater men, have risen, like lesser; have been flung
into the most rapid current of the most hurried, wild, and vivid time
that the world has ever seen--I have _lived_ through the last fifty
years. In all the vigour of my life, I have mingled in some of the
greatest transactions, and been mingled with some of the greatest men,
of my time. Like one who has tumbled down Niagara, and survived the
fall, though I have reached still water, the roar of the cataract is yet
in my ears; and I can even survey it with a fuller gaze, and stronger
sense of its vastness and power, than, when I was rolling down its

I have been soldier, adventurer, traveller, statesman. I have been
lover, husband, father--poor and opulent; obscure and conspicuous. There
are few sensations of our nature, or circumstances of our life, which I
have not undergone. Alternately suffering to the verge of ruin, and
enjoying like an epicurean deity: I have been steeped in poverty to the
lips; I have been surcharged with wealth. I have sacrificed, and
fearfully, to the love of power; I have been disgusted with its
possession. I figured in the great Babel until I loved even its
confusion of tongues; I grew weary of it, until I hated the voice of

Every man is born for a special purpose, and with a special passion. The
multitude, possessing both, exhibit neither; they are flung, or choose
to be flung, into the pond, where they float only to perish, like blind
puppies. But there are others who stem the great tide, and are only the
stronger for the struggle. From my first sense, the passion to be known
and felt, nay, at the expense of being feared, was my impulse. It has
been the impulse of all men who have ever impressed the world. With
great talents it is all-commanding: the thunderbolt in the hands of
Jove. Even with inferior faculties, and I make no pretence of mine, it
singularly excites, urges, and animates. When the prophet saw the
leopard _winged_, he saw a miracle; I claim for my powers only those of
the muscle and sinew.

Ambition was the original passion of my nature. It rose before me, as
the sun ascends before the Indian, until its fire drives him to the
shade. I, too, have been scorched, have shrunk, and now I regret my
shrinking. But time deals alike with all. I can now amuse myself only by
images of the past; and, in the darkness and solitude of years, I take
their Magic Lantern, and replace life by the strange, wild, and
high-coloured extravagances, the ghosts and genii of the phantasmagoria
of ambition.

I was the seventh son of one of the oldest families of England. If I had
been the seventh son of the seventh son, I should, by all the laws of
juggling, have been a conjurer; but I was a generation too early for
fame. My father was an earl, and as proud of his titles as if he had won
them at Crecy or Poictiers, and not in the campaigns of Westminster,
consummated on the backstairs of Whitehall. He had served his country,
as he termed it, in a long succession of Parliaments; and served her
still more, as his country neighbours termed it, by accepting a peerage,
which opened the county to any other representative among the sons of
men. He was a strong-built, stern-countenanced, and haughty-tongued
personage--by some thought a man of sense; by others a fool, with all
his depth, arising from his darkness. My own experience convinced me,
that no man made more of a secret, or thought less of a job. From my
boyhood I own I feared more than honoured him; and as for love, if I had
been more susceptible, mine would have flown round the globe before it
could have fixed on that iron visage. The little love that I could
afford for any human being, was for another and a different order of
existence. Boys have a natural fondness for the mother; and mine was
gentle, timid, and fond. She always parted with me, on my going to
school, as if she had lost a limb, and when I returned, received me as
if she had found a pinion in its place. She perhaps spoiled me by
indulgence, as much as my lord and father spoiled me by severity; but
indulgence is the pleasanter of the two, and I followed the course of
nature, and gave her whatever heart I have. I still remember her. She
was remarkably indebted to nature, at least for externals. She had fine
eyes--large, dark, and sentimental; her dress, which would now be
preposterous, seemed to me, then, the perfection of all taste, and was
in the highest fashion of her time. Her beauty worked miracles; for now
and then I have observed even my father's eye fixed on her, with
something of the admiration which we might conceive in an Esquimaux for
a fixed star, or in an Italian highwayman for some Parian statue which
he had stumbled on in his thickets. But the admiration was soon absorbed
in the job in hand, and he turned away--to scribble to the Minister. Of
the younger portion of the family I shall say but little. Children are
happiest in the nursery, and there I leave them. I had two sisters,
sweet little creatures, one with black eyes and the other with blue.
This is enough for their description. My four brothers were four rough,
bold, well-looking animals, all intended for ambassadors, admirals,
generals, and secretaries of state--for my father had too long tasted of
the honey of official life to think that there was any other food for a
gentleman in the world. He had been suckled for too many years at those
breasts, which, like the bosom of the great Egyptian goddess, pour the
stream of life through whole generations of hangers-on, to believe that
any other fount of existence was to be named but the civil list. I am
strongly inclined to surmise that he would have preferred a pencil,
purloined from the Treasury, to all the cedars of Lebanon.

It may be presumed that I was destined for public life--in other words,
to live on the public; and, to prepare me for the performance of a part,
alternately menial and master--supple as the slave, and superb as the
minister--I was sent to Eton. At this great school of the aristocracy,
would-be and real--barons and dukes _in esse_, and the herald's office
alone, or bedlam, knows what _in posse_, I remained for the customary
number of years. If whoever does me the honour to read these pages,
hates the history of schooldays as much as I do their memory, he will
easily pardon my passing by the topic altogether. If the first purpose
of all great public institutions is to stand still; the great schools of
England, fifty years ago, were righteous adherents to their contract;
they never moved. The world might whirl round them as it would; there
remained the grey milestones, only measuring the speed with which every
thing on the road passed them. This, they say, has largely and
fortunately changed in later years. But the change must proceed; the
venerable cripples must throw by their crutches, and try the effect of
flesh and blood. Flogging and fagging, are the education for a footman;
they disgrace the common sense, and offend the feelings of a manly
people. The pugilist must be expelled, and the puppy must follow him.
The detestable grossness of classical impurity, must be no longer the
price at which Latin "quantities" are to be learned. The last lesson of
the "prodigal son," must not be the first learned by the son of the
gentleman of England--to be fed on the "husks" fit only for the swine.

* * * * *

On my delighted release from this supreme laboratory of statesmen, I
found the state of things considerably altered at Mortimer Castle. I had
left it a stately but rather melancholy-looking household; I found the
mansion glittering in all the novelty of French furniture, gilding, and
_or-molu_--crowded with fashion, and all its menial tribe, from the
groom in the stables to the gentleman's gentleman, who slipped along the
chambers in soft silence, and seemed an embodying of Etiquette, all in
new equipments of all kinds--the avenue trimmed, until it resembled a
theatrical wood; and the grounds, once sober and silent enough for a
Jacques to escape from the sight of human kind, and hold dialogues with
the deer; now levelled, opened, shorn, and shaved, with the precision of
a retired citizen's elysium.

The heads of the family were equally changed; my mother, unhappily, for
the worse. Her fine eyes beamed with joy as she threw herself upon my
neck, and murmured some of those mingled blessings and raptures which
have a language of their own. But when the first flush was past, I
perceived that the cheek was thin, the eye was hollow and heavy, and the
tremulous motion of her slight hand, as it lay in mine, alarmed me; in
all my ignorance of the frailty of the human frame. But the grand change
was in the Earl. My father, whom I had left rather degenerating into the
shape which three courses and a bottle of claret a-day inflict on
country gentlemen "who live at home at ease," was now braced and laced,
costumed in the newest fashion, and overflowing with exuberant
volatility. He breathed of Bond Street. He welcomed me with an ardour
which astonished, more than delighted, me; Talked fragments of French,
congratulated me on my "_air distingue_," advised me to put myself "_en
grande tenue_;" and, after enchanting me in all kinds of strange ways,
concluded by making an attempt to kiss me on both cheeks, like a true
Frenchman. My Eton recollections enabled me to resist the paternal
embrace; until the wonder was simplified, by the discovery that the
family had but just returned from a continental residence of a couple of
years--a matter of which no letter or word had given me the knowledge at
my school. My next discovery was, that an old uncle had died, and left
us money enough to carry the county; and the last and crowning one was,
that my eldest brother had just been returned for the North Riding.

This was such an accumulation of good-luck as might have thrown any
elderly gentleman off the balance of his gravity. It was like Philip's
three plates at the Greek horse-races, crowned by the birth of
Alexander. If my lordly father had danced the "Minuette de la Cour" over
the marble tesselation of his own hall, I should now not have been
surprised. But, from my first sense, or insensibility, I had felt no
great delight in matters which were to make my own condition neither
better nor worse; and after a remarkably brief period, the showy
_dejeunes_ and dinners which commemorated the triumphs of the
heir-apparent of our house, grew tiresome to me beyond all count, and I
openly petitioned to be sent to college, or to the world's end.

My petition was listened to with a mixture of contempt for my want of
taste, and astonishment at my presumption. But before the reply had time
to burst out from lips, at no time too retentive, I was told, that at
the end of one week more I should be suffered to take my way; that week
being devoted to a round of especial entertainments in honour of my
brother's election; the whole to be wound up by that most preposterous
of all delights, an amateur play.

To keep a house in commotion, to produce mysterious conversations,
conferences without number, and confidences without end; and to swell
maidens' hearts and milliners' bills, let me recommend an amateur play
in the country. The very mention of it awoke every soul in the Castle;
caps and complexions were matched, and costumes criticised, from morning
till night, among the ladies. The "acting drama" was turned over leaf by
leaf by the gentlemen. The sound of many a heavy tread of many a heavy
student, was heard in the chambers; the gardens were haunted by "the
characters" getting their parts; and the poet's burlesque of those who
"rave, recite, and madden round the land," was realized to the life in
the histrionic labours of the votaries of Thalia and Melpomene, who
ranged the groves of Mortimer Castle.

Then we had all the charming difficulty of fixing on the play. The
dullest and dreariest of our country Rosciuses were uniformly for
comedy; but the fair sex have a leaning to the tragic muse. We had one
or two, who would have had no objection to be piquant in Lady Teazle, or
petulant in Lady Townley; but we had half a dozen Desdemonas and
Ophelias. The soul of an O'Neil was in every one of our party conscious
of a pair of good eyes, a tolerable shape, and the captivation which, in
some way or other, most women in existence contrive to discover in their
own share of the gifts of nature. At length the votes carried it for
Romeo and Juliet. The eventful night came; the _elite_ of the county
poured in, the theatre was crowded; all was expectancy before the
curtain; all was terror, nervousness, and awkwardness behind. The
orchestra performed its flourish, and the curtain rose.

To do the heads of the household justice, they had done their duty as
managers. The theatre, though but a temporary building, projecting from
the ball-room into one of the gardens, was worthy of the very handsome
apartment which formed its vestibule. The skill of a famous London
architect had been exerted on this fairy erection, and Verona itself
had, perhaps, in its palmiest days, seldom exhibited a display of more
luxuriant elegance. The audience, too, so totally different from the
mingled, ill-dressed, and irregular assemblage that fills a city
theatre; blooming girls and showy matrons, range above range, feathered
and flowered, glittering with all the family jewels, and all animated by
the novelty of the scene before them, formed an exhibition which, for
the night, inspired me with the idea, that (strolling excepted) the
stage might not be a bad resource for a man of talents, after all.

But the play was--must I confess it? though I myself figured as the
Romeo--utterly deplorable. The men forgot their parts, and their casual
attempts to recover them made terrible havoc of the harmony of
Shakspeare. The ladies lost their voices, and carried on their loves,
their sorrows, and even their scoldings, in a whisper. Our play
perfectly deserved the criticism of the old gentleman, who, after a
similar performance, being asked which of the personages he liked best,
candidly replied, "the prompter, for of him he had heard the most and
seen the least."

However, every thing has an end; and we had carried Juliet to the tomb
of all the Capulets, the chant was done, and the mourners were gathered
in the green-room. I was standing, book in hand, preparing for the last
agonies of a love very imperfectly committed to memory, when I heard a
slight confusion in the court-yard, and shortly after the rattle of a
post-chaise. The sound subsided, and I was summoned to my post at the
entrance to the place where the lovely Juliet lay entranced. The
pasteboard gate gave way to knocks enforced with an energy which called
down rapturous applause; and in all the tortures of a broken heart,
rewarded by a profusion of handkerchiefs applied to bright eyes, and a
strong scent of hartshorn round the house, I summoned my fair bride to
my arms. There was no reply. I again invoked her; still silent. Her
trance was evidently of the deepest order. I rose from the ground, where
I had been "taking the measure of my unmade grave," and approaching the
bier, ventured to drop a despairing hand upon her pillow. To my utter
surprise, it was vacant. If I had been another Shakspeare, the situation
was a fine one for a display of original genius. But I was paralyzed. A
sense of the general embarrassment was my first impression, and I was
absolutely struck dumb. But this was soon shaken off. My next was a
sense of the particular burlesque of my situation; I burst out into
laughter, in which the whole house joined; and throwing down my mattock,
rushed off the stage. My theatrical dream was broken up for ever.

* * * * *

But weightier matters now absorbed the universal interest. The
disappearance of the heroine from the stage was speedily accounted for
by her flight in the carriage whose wheels had disturbed my study. But
where fled, why, and with whom? We now found other defalcations in our
numbers; the Chevalier Paul Charlatanski, a gallant Polish exile, who
contrived to pass a very pleasant time on the merit of his misfortunes,
a man of enormous mustaches and calamities, was also missing. His valet,
his valise, every atom that ever appertained to him, had vanished; the
clearance was complete. The confusion now thickened. I never saw the
master of the mansion in such a rage before. Pistols and post-chaises
were in instant requisition. He vowed that the honour of his house was
involved in the transaction, and that nothing should tempt him to
slumber until he had brought the fugitive fair one to the arms of her
noble family; my Juliet being the ward of a duke, and being also
entitled to about twenty thousand pounds a-year on her coming of age.

As for the unlucky, or rather the lucky, Chevalier, nothing human ever
received a hotter shower of surmise and sarcasm. That he was "an
impostor, a swindler, a spy," was the Earl's conviction, declared in the
most public manner. The whole body of matrons looked round on their
blooming innocents, as if they had been snatched from the jaws of a
legion of wolves and thanked their own prudence which had not trusted
those men of mustaches within their hall doors. The blooming innocents
responded in filial gratitude, and, with whatever sincerity, thanked
their stars for their fortunate escape.

Still, the Earl's indignation was of so _ultra_ a quality; his revenge
was so fiery, and his tongue so fluent; that I began to suspect he had
other motives than the insulted laws of hospitality. I reached this
discovery, too, in time. The declining health of his partner had made
him speculate on the chances of survivorship. He certainly was no longer
young, and he had never been an Adonis. Yet his glass did not altogether
throw him into the rank of the impracticable. A coronet was a well-known
charm, which had often compensated for every other; in short, he had
quietly theorized himself into the future husband of the ducal ward; and
felt on this occasion as an Earl should, plundered, before his face, of
a clear twenty thousand a-year.

But he was not to suffer alone. On further enquiry, it was ascertained
that the chevalier's valet had not gone with him. This fellow, a
Frenchman, had taken wing in another direction, and carried off his
turtle-dove, too; not one of the full-blown roses of the servant's-hall,
but a rosebud, the daughter of one of the bulkiest squires of the
Riding; a man of countless beeves and blunders; one of our Yorkshire
Nimrods, "a mighty hunter," until club dinners and home-brewed ale tied
him to his arm-chair, and gout made him a man of peace and flannels, the
best thriven weed in the swamps of Yorkshire. The young lady had been
intended for my eldest brother, as a convenient medium of connexion
between two estates, palpably made for matrimony. Thus we received two
mortal blows in one evening; never was family pilfered more
ignominiously; never was amateur play more peevishly catastrophized.

It must be owned, to the credit of "private theatricals," that the play
had no slight share in the plot. The easy intercourse produced by
rehearsals, the getting of tender speeches by heart, the pretty
personalities and allusions growing out of those speeches, the ramblings
through shades and rose-twined parterres, the raptures and romance, all
tend prodigiously to take off the alarm, or instruct the inexperience,
of the female heart. I know no more certain cure for the rigidity that
is supposed to be a barrier. At all events, the Chevalier and his valet,
probably both footmen, alike had profited of their opportunity. Our play
had cost us two elopements; two shots between wind and water, which
threatened to send the ship down; two breakings of that heart which men
carry in their purse. I laughed, and the world laughed also. But I was
then thoughtless, and the world is malicious. My father and the member,
though they had "never told their love," felt the blow "like a worm in
the bud," and from that night I date the family decline.

Of course, the two whiskered vagabonds could not be suffered to carry
off their laurels without an attempt to diminish them, and my father and
brother were too much in earnest in their objects to lose time. In half
an hour, four post-horses to each britchska whirled them off;--my
father, to take the northern road, some hints of Gretna having
transpired in the slipshod secrecy of the servants' hall--my brother, to
pursue on the Dover road, conjecturing, with more sagacity than I had
given him credit for, that as the fox runs round to his earth, the
Frenchman always speeds for Paris.

The company soon dispersed, after having stayed long enough to glean all
that they could of the family misfortune, and fix appointments for every
day in the week to meet each other, and make the most of the whole
transaction. But still a tolerable number of the steadier hands
remained, who, to show their sympathy with us, resolved not to separate
until they received tidings of his lordship's success. I was voted to
the head of the table, more claret was ordered, the wreck of the general
supper was cleared for one of a snugger kind; and we drew our chairs
together. Toast followed toast, and all became communicative. Family
histories, not excepting our own, were now discussed, with a confidence
new to my boyish conjectures. Charlatanski's career abroad and at home
seemed to be as well known as if he had been pilloried in the county
town; the infinite absurdity of the noble duke who suffered him to make
his way under his roof, and the palpable _penchant_ of his ward, next
underwent discussion; until the ignorance of my noble father on the
subject, gave, with me, the death-blow to his penetration. The
prettinesses which had won the primrose heart of my brother's intended
spouse, I found were equally notorious; the Earl's project was as plain
as if he had pronounced it _viva voce_; and before we parted for the
night, which did not occur until the sun was blazing through the
curtains of our banqueting room, I had made up my mind, once for all,
that neither character nor cunning can be concealed in this world; that
the craftiest impostor is but a clumsier kind of clown; and that the
most dexterous disguise is but a waste of time.

I must hasten to the _denouement_. Our excellent friends indulged us
with their company, and bored us with their society for a mortal week.
But, as Sterne says of the sentimental traveller, scenes of sentiment
are always exhibiting themselves to an appetite eager for knowing what
the world is doing; the knowledge was contributed with a copiousness
which left nothing to learn, and but little to desire. Our guests were
of that class which usually fills the houses of noblemen, in the
annihilation of life in town; clubmen, to whom St James's Street was the
terraqueous globe; guardsmen, on leave of absence for the shooting
season, and saturated with London; several older exhibitors in the
fashionable circles, who as naturally followed where young guardsmen and
wealthy squires were to be found, as flies wing to the honey on which
they live; and two or three of the most opulent and dullest baronets who
ever played whist and billiards, for the advantage of losing guinea
points to gentlemen more accomplished in the science of chances.

At length, on the sixth day, when I really began to feel anxious, an
express announced that his lordship had arrived at a village, about
fifty miles off, on his way home, wounded, and in great danger. I
instantly broke up the convivial party, and set out to see him. To the
imagination of a boy, as I was then, nothing could be more startling
than the aspect of the habitation which now held the haughty Earl of
Mortimer. After passing through a variety of dungeon-like rooms, for the
house had once been a workhouse, or something of the kind, I was ushered
into the chamber where the patient lay. The village doctor, and one or
two of the wise people of the neighbourhood, who thought it their duty
to visit a stranger, that stranger being a man of rank, were standing
by; and the long faces of those persons, seconded by the professional
shake of the doctor's head, told me, that they at least had no hope. It
was not so with the sufferer himself, for he talked as largely and
loftily of what he was to do within the next ten years, as if he was to
survive the century. He still breathed rage and retribution against the
Chevalier, and actually seemed to regard the lady's choice as a
particular infraction of personal claims. He had pursued the fugitives
day and night, until the pursuit threw him into a kind of fever. While
under this paroxysm he had met the enamoured pair, but it was on their
way from that forge on the Border where so many heavy chains have been
manufactured. Useless as challenging was now, he challenged the husband.
The parties met, and my father received a bullet in his body, while he
had the satisfaction of lodging one in his antagonist's knee-pan. The
Chevalier was doomed to waltz no more. But his bullet was fatal.

As I looked round the wretched chamber in which this bold, arrogant, and
busy spirit was evidently about to breathe its last, Pope's lines on the
most splendid _roue_ of his day involuntarily and painfully shot across
my recollection:--

"In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half hung,
The walls of plaster, and the floor of dung;
The George and Garter dangling from the bed,
Where tawdry yellow strove with dirty red,
Great Villiers lies; alas, how changed from him
The glass of fashion!"

I say no more of those scenes; a few days, only enough to collect the
branches of the family round the bed, terminated every thing. Grief,
they say, cannot exist where there is no love, but I was not inclined,
just then, to draw subtle distinctions. I was grieved; and paid the last
duties, without blame to myself, or, I hope, irreverence in the sight of
others. The funeral was stately, and all was over.

Matters now took a new shape at the castle. My brother returned, to find
himself its possessor. His journey had been equally unproductive with my
unfortunate father's. By dint of bribing the postilions, he had even
overpassed the fugitives on the Dover road. But, as he stopped to dine
in Canterbury, where he had prepared a posse of constables for their
reception, he had, unluckily, been accosted by an old London
acquaintance, who had accidentally fixed his quarters there for a day or
two, "seeking whom he might devour." The dinner was followed by a
carouse, the carouse by a "quiet game," or games, which lasted till the
next day; and when my brother rose, with the glow of a superb sunset
giving him the first intimation that he was among the living, he made
the discovery that he was stripped of the last shilling of five hundred
pounds, and that the Frenchman and his prize had quietly changed horses
at the same hotel half a dozen hours before.

* * * * *

The young forget quickly, but they feel keenly. The event which I had
just witnessed threw a shade over me, which, in the want of any vigorous
occupation, began to affect my health. I abjured the sports of the
field, for which, indeed, I had never felt much liking. I rambled
through the woods in a kind of dreamy idleness of mind, which took but
little note of any thing, time included. As mendicants sell tapes and
matches to escape the imputation of mendicancy, I carried a pencil and
portfolio, and seemed to be sketching venerable oaks and patches of the
picturesque, while my mind was wandering from Line to Pole. But in this
earth no one can be singular with impunity. The gentlemen were
"convinced" that my meditations were heavy with unpaid college bills;
and the ladies, from high to low, from "Tilburina, mad in white satin,"
to her "confidant, mad in white linen," were all of opinion that some
one among their peerless selves had destroyed the "five wits of young Mr
Marston." I could have fallen on them with a two-handed sword; but as
the massacre of the sex was not then in my power, I had only to escape.

There were higher matters to move me. Clouds were gathering on the
world; the times were fitful; the air was thick with rumours from
abroad; the sleep of the Continent was breaking up, and Europe lay in
the anxious and strange expectancy in which some great city might see
the signs of a coming earthquake, without the power of ascertaining at
what moment, or from what quarter, its foundations were to be flung up
in sight of the sun.--We were then in the first stage of the French

I resolved to linger and be libelled no more; and being ushered, by
appointment, into the library--for the new master was already all
etiquette--I promptly stated my wishes, and demanded my portion, to try
my fortune in the world.

Our conference, if it had but little of the graces of diplomacy, had
much more than its usual decision. It was abrupt and unhesitating. My
demand had evidently taken his "lordship" by surprise. He started from
the magisterial chair, in which he was yet to awe so many successions of
rustic functionaries, and with a flushed cheek asked "Whether I was
lunatic, or supposed him to be so?"

"Neither the one nor the other," was my answer. "But, to waste life here
is out of the question. I demand the means of entering a profession."

"Are you aware, sir, that our interest is lost since the last change of
ministers? that my estate is loaded with encumbrances? that every
profession is overstocked? and what can you do in the crowd?"

"What others have done--what I should do in a crowd in the streets--push
some aside, get before others; if made way for, be civil; if resisted,
trample; it has been the history of thousands, why not mine?"

The doctrine was as new to this son of indulgence, as if I had
propounded the philosopher's stone. But his courage was exhausted by a
controversy perhaps longer than he had ever ventured on before. He
walked to the glass, adjusted his raven ringlets, and having refreshed
his spirits with the contemplation, enquired, with a smile which made
the nearest possible approach to a sneer, whether I had any thing more
to say?

I had more, and of the kind that least suited his feelings. I demanded
"my property."

The effect of those two words was electrical. The apathy of the
exquisite was at an end, and in a voice of the most indignant
displeasure, he rapidly demanded whether I expected money to fall from
the moon? whether I was not aware of the expense of keeping up the
castle? whether I supposed that my mother's jointure and my sisters'
portions could ever be paid without dipping the rent-roll deeper still?
and, after various and bitter expostulation, "What right had I to
suppose that I was worth the smallest coin of the realm, except by his

One query answered them all. "My lord, is it not true that I am entitled
to five thousand pounds?"

"Five thousand ----?" what word was to fill up the interval I can only
guess. But the first lesson which a man learns at the clubs is, to
control his temper when its display is not likely to be attended with
effect. He saw that I stood his gaze with but few symptoms of giving
way, and he changed his tactics with an adroitness that did honour to
his training. Approaching me, he held out his hand. "Charles, why should
_we_ quarrel about trifles? I was really not acquainted with the
circumstance to which you allude, but I shall look into it without
delay. Pray, can you tell me the when, the where, the how?"

"Your questions may be easily answered. The _when_ was at the death of
our uncle, the _where_ was in his will, and the _how_--in any way your
lordship pleases." The truce was now made; he begged of me, "as I valued
_his_ feelings," to drop the formality of his title, to regard him
simply as a brother, and to rely on his wish to forward every object
that might gratify my inclination.

Our conference broke up. He galloped to a neighbouring horse-race. I
went to take a solitary ramble through the Park.

The hour and the scene were what the poet pronounces "fit to cure all
sadness but despair." Noble old trees, the "roof star-proof" overhead,
the cool velvet grass under the feet--glimpses of sunlight striking
through the trunks--the freshened air coming in gusts across the lake,
like new life, bathing my burning forehead and feverish hands--the whole
unrivalled sweetness of the English landscape softened and subdued me.
Those effects are so common, that I can claim no credit for their
operation on my mind; and, before I had gone far, I was on the point of
returning, if not to recant, at least to palliate the harshness of my
appeal to fraternal justice.

But, by this time I had reached a rising ground which commanded a large
extent of the surrounding country. The evening was one of those
magnificent closes of the year, which, like a final scene in a theatre,
seems intended to comprehend all the beauties and brilliancies of the
past. The western sky was a blaze of all colours, and all pouring over
the succession of forest, cultured field, and mountain top, which make
the English view, if not the most sublime, the most touching of the

But as I stood on the hill, gazing round to enjoy every shape and shade
at leisure, my eye turned on the Castle. It spoiled all my serenity at
once. I felt that it was a spot from which I was excluded by nature;
that it belonged to others so wholly, that scarcely by any conceivable
chance could it ever be mine; and that I could remain within its walls
no longer, but with a sense of uselessness and shame.

If I could have taken staff in hand and pack on shoulder, I would have
started at that moment on a pilgrimage that might have circled the
globe. But the most fiery resolution must submit to circumstances. One
night more, at least, I must sleep under the paternal roof, and I was
hastening home, brooding over bitter thoughts, when I suddenly rushed
against some one whom I nearly overthrew.--"Bless me, Mr Marston, is it
you?"--told me that I had run down my old tutor, Mr Vincent, the parson
of the parish. He had been returning from visiting some of his flock,
and in the exercise of the vocation which he had just been fulfilling,
he saw that something went ill with me, and taking my arm, forced me to
go home with him, for such comfort as he could give.

Parsons, above all men, are the better for wives and families; for,
without them, they are wonderfully apt to grow saturnine or stupid. Of
course there are exceptions. Vincent had a wife not much younger than
himself, to whom he always spoke with the courtiership of a _preux
chevalier_. A portrait of her in her bridal dress, showed that she had
been a pretty brunette in her youth; and her husband still evidently
gave her credit for all that she had been. They had, as is generally the
fate of the clergy, a superfluity of daughters, four or five I think,
creatures as thoughtless and innocent as their own poultry, or their own
pet-sheep. But all round their little vicarage was so pure, so quiet,
and so neat--there was such an aspect of order and even of elegance,
however inexpensive, that its contrast with the glaring and restless
tumult of the "great house" was irresistible. I never had so full a
practical understanding of the world's "pomps and vanities," as while
looking at the trimmings and trelisses of the parson's dwelling.

I acknowledge myself a worldling, but I suppose that all is not lead or
iron within me, from my sense of scenes like this. In my wildest hour,
the sight of fields and gardens has been a kind of febrifuge to me--has
conveyed a feeling of tranquillity to my mind; as if it drank the
silence and the freshness, as the flowers drink the dew. I have often
thus experienced a sudden soothing, which checked the hot current of my
follies or frenzies, and made me think that there were better things
than the baubles of cabinets. But it did not last long.

I mention this evening, because it decided my future life; or at least
the boldest, and perhaps the best portion of it. We had an hour or two
of the little variations of placid amusement which belong to all
parsonages in romances, but which here were reality; easy conversation
on the events of the county; a little political talking with the vicar;
a few details of persons and fashions at the castle, to which the ladies
listened as Desdemona might have listened to Othello's history--for the
Castle was so seldom visited by them, that it had almost the air of a
Castle of Otranto, and they evidently thought that its frowning towers
and gilded halls belonged to another race, if not to another region of
existence; we had, too, some of the last new songs, (at least half a
century old, but which were not the less touching,) and a duet of
Geminiani, performed by the two elder proficients on a spinet which
might have been among the "chamber music" of the Virgin Queen; all
slight matters to speak of, and yet which contributed to the quietude of
a mind longing for rest--sights of innocence and sounds of peace, which,
like the poet's music--

"Might take the prison'd soul
And wrap it in Elysium."

The moon shining in through panes covered with honeysuckle and fragrance
of all kinds, at length warned me that I was intruding on a household
primitive in their hours, as in every thing else, and I rose to take my
leave. But I could not be altogether parted with yet. It seems that they
had found me a most amusing guest; while, to my own conception, I had
been singularly spiritless; but the little anecdotes which were trite to
me had been novelties to them. Fashion has a charm even for
philosophers; and the freaks and follies of the high-toned sons and
daughters of fashion--who wore down my gentle mother's frame, drained my
showy father's rental, and made even myself loathe the sight of loaded
barouches coming to discharge their cargoes of beaux and belles on us
for weeks together--were nectar and ambrosia to my sportive and
rosy-cheeked audience. The five girls put on their bonnets, and looking
like a group of Titania and her nymphs, as they bounded along in the
moonlight, escorted us to the boundary of the vicar's territory.

We were about to separate, with all the pretty formalities of village
leave-taking; when their father, in the act of shaking hands with me,
fixed his eye on mine, and insisted on seeing me home. Whether the
thought occurred to him that I had still something on my mind, which was
not to be trusted within sight of a brook that formed the boundary to
the Castle grounds, I know not, but I complied; the girls were sent
homewards, and I heard their gay voices mingling, at a distance, and not
unsuitably, with the songs of the nightingale.

I took his arm, and we walked on for a while in silence. At length,
slackening his pace, and speaking in a tone whose earnestness struck me,
"Charles," said he, "has any thing peculiarly painful lately happened to
you?--if so, speak out. I know your nature to be above disguise; and
with whom can you repose your vexations, if such there be, more safely
than with your old tutor?"

I was taken unawares; and not having yet formed a distinct conception of
my own grievances, promptly denied that I had any.

"It may be so," said my friend; "and yet once or twice this evening I
saw your cheek alternately flush and grow pale, with a suddenness that
alarmed me for your health. In one of your pleasantest stories, while
you were acting the narrative with a liveliness evidently unconscious,
and giving me and mine a treat which we have not had for a long time, I
observed your voice falter, as if some spasm of soul had shot across
you; and I unquestionably saw, that rare sight in the eyes of man, a

I denied this instance of weakness stoutly; but the old man's
importunities prevailed, and, by degrees, I told him, or rather his
good-natured cross-examination moulded for me, a statement of my
anxieties at home.

The Vicar, with all his simplicity of manner, was a man of powerful and
practical understanding. He had been an eminent scholar at his
university, and was in a fair way for all its distinctions, when he
thought proper to fall desperately in love. This, of course, demolished
his prospects at once. I never heard his subsequent history in detail;
but he had left England, and undergone a long period of disheartening
and distress. Whether he had not, in those times of desolation, taken
service in the Austrian army, and even shared some of its Turkish
campaigns, was a question which I heard once or twice started at the
Castle; and a slight contraction of the arm, and a rather significant
scar which crossed his bold forehead, had been set down to the account
of the Osmanli cimeter.

* * * * *

Vincent had never told the story of either, but a rumour reached his
college of his having been seen in the Austrian uniform on the
Transylvanian frontier, during the campaigns of the Prince of Coburg and
Laudohn against the Turks. It was singular enough, that on this very
evening, in arguing against some of my whims touching destinies and
omens, he illustrated the facility of imposture on such points by an
incident from one of those campaigns.

"A friend of mine," said he, "a captain in the Lichtenstein hussars,
happened to be on the outpost service of the army. As the enemy were in
great force, and commanded by the Vizier in person, an action was daily
expected, and the pickets and videttes were ordered to be peculiarly on
the alert. But, on a sudden, every night produced some casualty. They
either lost videttes, or their patrol was surprised, or their baggage
plundered--in short, they began to be the talk of the army. The regiment
had been always one of the most distinguished in the service, and all
those misfortunes were wholly unaccountable. At length a stronger picket
than usual was ordered for the night--not a man of them was to be found
in the morning. As no firing had been heard, the natural conjecture was,
that they must all have deserted. As this was a still more disgraceful
result than actual defeat, the colonel called his officers together, to
give what information they could. The camp, as usual, swarmed with
Bohemians, fortune-tellers, and gipsies, a race who carry intelligence
on both sides; and whose performances fully accounted for the knowledge
which the enemy evidently had of our outposts. The first order was, to
clear the quarters of the regiment of those encumbrances, and the next
to direct the videttes to fire without challenging. At midnight a shot
was heard; all turned out, and on reaching the spot where the alarm had
been given, the vidette was found lying on the ground and senseless,
though without a wound. On his recovery, he said that he had seen a
ghost; but that having fired at it, according to orders, it looked so
horribly grim at him, that he fell from his horse and saw no more. The
Austrians are brave, but they are remarkably afraid of supernatural
visitants, and a ghost would be a much more formidable thing to them
than a discharge of grape-shot.

"The captain in question was an Englishman, and as John Bull is
supposed, among foreigners, to carry an unusual portion of brains about
him, the colonel took him into his special council in the emergency.
Having settled their measures, the captain prepared to take charge of
the pickets for the night, making no secret of his dispositions. At
dark, the videttes and sentries were posted as usual, and the officer
took his post in the old field redoubt, which had been the headquarters
of the pickets for the last fortnight.

"All went on quietly until about midnight; the men off duty fast asleep
in their cloaks, and the captain reading an English novel. He, too, had
grown weary of the night, and was thinking of stretching himself on the
floor of his hut, when he saw, and not without some perturbation, a tall
spectral figure, in armour, enter the works, stride over the sleeping
men without exciting the smallest movement amongst them, and advance
towards him. He drew his breath hard, and attempted to call out, but his
voice was choked, and he began to think himself under the dominion of
nightmare. The figure came nearer still, looking more menacing, and drew
its sword. My friend, with an effort which he afterwards acknowledged to
be desperate, put his hand to his side to draw his own. What was his
alarm when he found that it had vanished? At this moment his poodle,
which, against all precautions, had followed him, began barking
fiercely, and rushing alternately towards him and a corner of the
redoubt. Though his sabre was gone, a brace of English pistols lay on
the table beside him, and he fired one of them in the direction. The
shot was followed by a groan and the disappearance of the spectre. The
men started to their feet, and all rushed out in pursuit. The captain's
first step struck upon a dead body, evidently that of the spy who had
fallen by his fire. The pursuit was now joined in by the whole regiment,
who had been posted in the rear unseen, to take advantage of
circumstances. They pushed on, swept all before them, and bore down
patrol and picket until they reached the enemy's camp. The question then
was, what to do next? whether to make the best of their way back, or try
their chance onward? The Englishman's voice was for taking fortune at
the flow; and the accidental burning of a tent or two by the fugitives
showed him the Turks already in confusion. The trampling of battalions
in the rear told him at the same time that he had powerful help at hand,
and he dashed among the lines at once. The hussars, determined to
retrieve their reputation, did wonders--the enemy were completely
surprised. No troops but those in the highest state of discipline are
good for any thing when attacked at night. The gallantry of the Turk by
day, deserts him in the dark; and a night surprise, if well followed up,
is sure to end in a victory. From the random firing and shouting on
every side, it was clear that they were totally taken unawares; and the
rapid and general advance of the Austrian brigades, showed that Laudohn
was in the mind to make a handsome imperial bulletin. Day dawned on a
rout as entire as ever was witnessed in a barbarian campaign. The enemy
were flying in all directions like a horde of Tartars, and camp, cannon,
baggage, standards, every thing was left at the mercy of the pursuers."

"But the captain, the Englishman, what became of him?" I asked, slightly
glancing at the countenance of the narrator.

"Oh, very well off indeed! Foreign Governments are showy to the soldier,
and Joseph the Second, though an economist in civil matters, was liberal
to his successful officers. The captain received a pension; a couple of
orders; was made a colonel on the first opportunity; and, besides, had
his share of the plunder--no slight addition to his finances, for the
military chest had been taken in the baggage of the Seraskier."

"And by this time," said I, with an unenquiring air, "he is doubtless a

"Nothing of the kind," replied my reverend friend, "for his victory
cured him of soldiership. He was wounded in the engagement, and if he
had been ever fool enough to think of fame, the solitary hours of his
invalidism put an end to the folly. Other and dearer thoughts recurred
to his mind. He had now obtained something approaching to a competence,
if rightly managed; he asked permission to retire, returned to England,
married the woman he loved; and never for a moment regretted that he was
listening to larks and linnets instead of trumpets and cannon, and
settling the concerns of rustics instead of manoeuvring squadrons and

"But what was the ghost, after all?"

"Oh, the mere trick of a juggler! a figure projected on the wall by some
ingenious contrivance of glasses. The instrument was found on the body
of the performer, who turned out to be the colonel's valet--of course in
the enemy's pay, and who furnished them with daily intelligence of all
our proceedings. As for the loss of the sabre, which actually startled
the ghost-seer most, he found it next morning hanging up in the hut,
where he himself had placed it, and forgotten that he had done so."

"And the captain, or rather the colonel, brought with him to England, a
cimeter-cut on his arm, and another on his forehead?" I asked, fixing my
eyes on him. A crimson flush passed over his countenance, he bit his lip
and turned away. I feared that I had offended irreparably. But his
natural kindliness of heart prevailed, he turned to me gently, laughed,
and pressing my hand in his, said, "You have my secret. It has escaped
me for the first time these thirty years. Keep it like a man of honour."

* * * * *

I have always held that the life of man's mind, where man _has_ a
mind--which is not always the case--is a thing of fits and starts. I
even doubt whether any one who will take the trouble to recollect, will
not be able to put his finger on the precise periods at which new views
of every thing suddenly opened before him, and he emerged at once, if
not into new powers, at least into a new use of them. The frame may grow
like a tree; the faculties may grow as imperceptibly as the frame; but
the mind acquires that knowledge of life which forms its exercise, its
use, and perhaps its essence, by bounds and flights. This moonlight walk
with my old and honoured Mentor, was the beginning of my mental
adolescence. My manhood was still to come, and with a more severe

As we were passing slowly through the plantations which encircled the
Castle with all the noble and profuse shelter and ornament which our
ancestors loved, a distant sound of music came on the wind. I then
remembered, for the first time, that my brother had, on that evening,
given a ball to the county, and a sudden sense of the difference of our
lots in life, came painfully over me;--the course of secure wealth and
English enjoyment, contrasted with the dependence and wandering which
must form the existence of myself, and so many thousands of younger

I was awakened from my reverie by the voice of my companion. His face
was upturned to the cloudless sky, and he was murmuring the fine passage
in the Merchant of Venice.

"Look, how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold;
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st,
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins:
Such harmony is in immortal souls."

"Do you know, Charles," said he, "what changed the whole current of my
life? what, in fact, brought me back to England?" and there was a slight
pause. "What made me a Christian? It was such a night as this. As you
now know the chief part of my story, I need have no further concealment
on the subject. I had recovered from my wounds, and was preparing to set
out for Vienna, when one night a tempest blew down our tents, and left
us to trust to the open air for the hours till morning. Tempests in the
south are violent, but they are generally brief, and this gale cleared
the sky of every cloud. As I lay on the ground, and gazed on the unusual
splendour of the stars, the thought occurred to me, Why should doubts of
a future state ever come into the mind of man? Why should he hesitate
about its reality? Was it not there, before his eyes? Were not the very
regions of future existence already within the reach of one of his
senses? Why might they not yet be within the reach of all? Of course I
do not give you all the vague thoughts which passed through my mind; but
the permanence, power, and astonishing multitude of those bright worlds,
impressed themselves on me with a new force. I had known all those
matters before, but on this night I felt them. My next thoughts were of
the power, the wisdom, and the majesty of the mighty Being by whom all
this had been formed, moved, and sustained through thousands of years. I
need not follow the history of my conversion--for a conversion it was.
When I looked round me on the sleeping troops, I saw nothing but clods
of the valley--gallant beings, but as insensible to their high
inheritance as the chargers they rode. My heart moved me towards them;
and perhaps, in some instances, I succeeded in giving them my own ideas.
But Austria defies, at least, all human change. I was not a fanatic, and
I had no wish to strive with impossibilities. I sent in my resignation;
abandoned the 'pride, pomp, and circumstance' of the most tempting of
all human pursuits, and returned to England to be, what you see me now."

With this man I could have no reserves, and I freely asked his advice on
the plunge which I was about to make into that fathomless tide of good
and ill, the world. I mentioned the Church as the profession which my
mother had suggested, but for which I did not conceive either my temper
or my habits suitable.

"You are right, then, in abandoning the idea altogether," was the
answer; "and yet I know no profession more capable of fulfilling all the
objects of a vigorous mind. I am not now talking of mitres; they can
fall to but few. I speak of the prospects which it opens to all; the
power of exerting the largest influence for the highest purposes; the
possession of fame without its emptiness, and the indulgence of
knowledge without its vanity; energy turned to the most practical and
lofty uses of man; and the full feast of an ambition superior to the
tinsel of the world, and alike pure in its motives, and immeasurable in
its rewards."

"And, yet," said I, naming one or two of our clerical slumberers, "the
profession seems not to be a very disturbing one."

"Those men, was the answer, would have been slumberers at the bar, in
senates, or in the field. I may be prejudiced in favour of the choice
which I made so long since, and which I have never found reason to
repent. But I have not the slightest wish to prejudice any one in its
favour. There is no profession which more requires a peculiar mind;
contentment, with whatever consciousness of being overlooked; patience,
with whatever hopelessness of success; labour, for its own sake; and
learning, with few to share, few to admire, and fewer still to

"If my father had lived," said I, "it was his intention to have tried my
chance in diplomacy."

"Probably enough; for he had figured in that line himself. I remember
him secretary of embassy at Vienna. Perhaps you will scarcely believe,
that I, too, have had my experience on the subject? Accident once made
me an attache to our envoy at Naples. The life is an easy one. Idleness
was never more perfectly reduced to a system, than among the half dozen
functionaries to whom the interests of the British empire were entrusted
in the capital of the Lazzaroni. As the Frenchman said of the Academy,
'We had nothing to do, and we did it.'"

"Italy," said I, "is the land of pleasure, and the Lazzaroni are its
philosophers, but one cannot sleep like them in the face of day, and all
day long. Let what will come, I have no desire to be a weed on the

"No; we had our occupations; for we had the attendance on the court
days--a business of as much formality, as if the fate of mankind
depended on it. Then we had the attendance on the opera at night, a
matter nearly as tiresome. The post from England reached Naples but once
a-week, and scarcely once a month conveyed any intelligence that was
worth the postage. But, if politics were out of the question, we had
negotiation in abundance; for we carried on the whole diplomacy of the
opera-house in London, engaged _primo tenores_, and settled the rival
claims of _prima donnas_; gave our critical opinions on the merits of
dancers worthy of appearing before the British _cognoscenti_; and
dispatched poets, ballet-masters, and scene-painters, to our managers,
with an activity worthy of the purest patriotism. What think you of the

"I have no head for its study; and no heart for its employment."

"It leads more rapidly to rank than any other profession under the sun;
profit beyond counting, and a peerage. Those are no bad things."

"Both capital, if one could be secure of them. But they take too much
time for me. I never was born to sit on the woolsack. No; if I were to
follow my own inclination, I should be a soldier."

I have already said that I have been, throughout life, a kind of
believer in omens. I have seen such a multitude of things decided by
some curious coincidence, some passing occurrence, some of those odd
trifles for which it is impossible to account, but which occur at the
instant when the mind is wavering on the balance; that I feel no wonder
at the old superstitions of guessing our destiny from the shooting of a
star, or the flight of birds. While we were rambling onward, discussing
the merits and demerits of the profession of arms, we heard the winding
of the mail-guard's horn. I sprang the fence, and waited in the road to
enquire the last news from the metropolis. It was momentous--the
Revolution had effectually broken out. Paris was in an uproar. The
king's guards had taken up arms for the people. The Bastile was stormed!

If I had hesitated before, this news decided me; not that I pretend to
have even dreamed of the tremendous changes which were to be produced in
the world by that convulsion. But it struck me as the beginning of a
time, when the lazy quietude of years was about to be broken up, and
room made for all who were inclined to exert themselves. Before we had
reached the level lawns and trim parterres which showed us the lights of
the family festivity, I had settled all the difficulties which might
impede the career of less fortunate individuals; time and chance were
managed with the adroitness of a projector; and if Bellona had been one
of the Nine Muses, my speculations could not have been more poetical.
Somewhat to my surprise, they received no check from my venerable tutor;
quite the contrary. The singular sympathy with which he listened to my
most daring and dashing conceptions, would have betrayed his early
history if I had still the knowledge to acquire. His very looks, as he
listened to my rodomontades, recurred to me, when I read, many years
after, Scott's fine description of his soldier-monk in the Lay of the
Last Minstrel:--

"Again on the knight look'd the churchman old,
And again he sigh'd heavily,
For he had himself been a warrior bold,
And fought in Spain and Italy.
And he thought on the days that were long gone by,
When his limbs were strong, and his courage was high."

* * * * *

The news from France produced a sensation throughout England totally
indescribable at the present day. Every tongue and every heart was full
of it. It offered something for every mind of the million to seize on.
Like a waterspout, such as I have seen sweeping over the bosom of the
Atlantic, half-descending from the skies, and half-ascending from the
deep; every second man whom one met gave it credit for a different
origin, some looking at the upper portion and some at the lower; while,
in the mean time, the huge phenomenon was blackening, gathering, and
rushing onward, threatening to turn all above into darkness and all
below into storm. It made the grand subject of parliamentary eloquence,
and parliament was never more eloquent; it filled the speeches of the
factious, it was hailed by the shouts of the multitude, and it disturbed
the fireside with fear and hope, with wishing and wonder. It must be
acknowledged that a vast quantity of this excitement was absolute folly;
but, at the same time, there was a sincerity in the folly which redeemed
it from ridicule. Nothing could be more evident than that this French
patriotism was as theatrical, in the countless majority of instances, as
the loves and sorrows of its stage. Yet, however the speeches might be
got by heart, or the frippery and actors hired, the _drame_ was
powerfully performed; and all Europe sat by, giving it the tribute of
its tears and its terrors. Even we of England, with all our more sober
recollections that the heroes were ragamuffins, and the heroism
imaginary, gave ourselves up to the illusion. I shall not say that I was
wiser than the rest of mankind. I liked excitement, wherever it was to
be found. The barriers to distinction were still too firmly closed
against the youngest son of an embarrassed family, not to suggest many a
wish for whatever chance might burst the gate, or blow up the rampart;
and my first effort in political life was a harangue to the rabble of
the next borough, conceived in the most Gallic style. Yet this act of
absurdity had the effect of forwarding my views more rapidly than if I
had become an aristocratic Demosthenes. My speech was so much applauded
by the mob, that they began to put its theories in practice, though with
rather more vigour than I had dreamed of. There were riots, and even
some attempts at the seizure of arms; and the noble duke, our neighbour,
had received a threatening letter, which sent him at full gallop to the
Home Secretary. A note, by no means too gentle in its tone, was
instantly despatched to my noble brother, enquiring why he did not
contrive to keep the minor branches of his family in better order, and
threatening him with the withdrawal of the county patronage. My demand
of a commission in the Guards was no longer answered by the head of our
house with astonishment at the loftiness of my expectations, and
statements of the utter emptiness of the family exchequer. The result of
his brief correspondence with Downing Street was a letter, notifying
that his majesty was pleased to accept my services in the Coldstream.

I was enraptured, and my brother was enraptured, for we had both gained
our objects. I had got rid of him and ennui. He had got rid of me, and
the displeasure of the grand dispensers of place and pension. No time
was lost in forwarding me to make my bow at the Horse Guards; and my
noble brother lost as little time in making me put my hand to a paper,
in which, for prompt payment, I relinquished one half of my legacy. But
what cared I for money? I had obtained a profession in which money was
contemptible, the only purse the military chest, and the only prize,
like Nelson's, a peerage or Westminster Abbey. The ferment did not cool
within the week, and within that period I had taken leave of half the
county, been wished laurels and aiguillettes by a hundred or a thousand
of the fairest of our country belles; and been wished a thousand miles
off by the wise matrons, to whom the sight of a "younger son without
house or land" is a nuisance, a kite among their family pigeons.

At that moment, however, all their dovecots were secure. I should not
have spent a sigh on the Venus de Medicis had she sprung from her
pedestal to enchant me. The world was open before me; and trite and
trifling objects were no more to occupy my time. I felt like one who,
after wandering all day through the depths of an American forest,
suddenly reaches its border, and sees before him the boundless prairie,
with its boundlessness still more striking, from the absence of any
distinct object on which the eye could rest. What were horses, dogs, and
country dinners, to the world of London and of life which now came in
full, and, I will own it, extravagant vision before me? The ideas which
I conceived of men and things, of my own fortunes, and the fortunate
exercise of my own powers, were of an order which, in my calmer days,
have often made me smile; yet what is the whole early life of man but a
predisposition to fever? and I was then throbbing on the fiery verge of
the disease.

I shall say but little of my first sensations on reaching London. My
eyes and ears were in full activity. But the impression upon all who
enter this mightiest of capitals for the first time, is nearly the same.
Its perpetual multitude, its incessant movement, its variety of
occupations, sights and sounds, the echo of the whole vast and sleepless
machinery of national existence, have been a thousand times the subject
of description, and always of wonder. Yet, I must acknowledge, that its
first sight repelled me. I had lived in field and forest, my society had
been among my fellows in rank; I had lived in magnificent halls, and
been surrounded by bowing attendants; and now, with my mind full of the
calm magnificence of English noble life, I felt myself flung into the
midst of a numberless, miscellaneous, noisy rabble, all rushing on
regardless of every thing but themselves, pouring through endless lines
of dingy houses; and I nothing, an atom in the confusion, a grain of
dust on the great chariot wheel of society, a lonely and obscure
struggler in the mighty current of human life, which rolled along the
sullen channels of the most cheerless, however it might be the largest,
of capitals.

For the first week, I was absolutely unable to collect my thoughts. All
that I learned was, to make my way through the principal thoroughfares,
and know the names of her chief buildings. In later days, I took a more
practical view of matters, and regarded them only as places in which the
business of the hour was to be done. But in my first view, something of
the romance and revival of my forest walks clung to me. I remember that,
when I first saw the Horse Guards, to which, of course, one of my
earliest visits was paid, I found no slight difficulty in thinking of it
as only a remarkably clownish mass of brick and stone, crowded with
clerks. To me it was the very palace of war; the spot from which the
thunderbolts of England were launched; the centre and the stronghold of
that irresistible influence with which England sways and moulds mankind.
The India House was another of my reveries. I could not think of it as
but a huge pile in a vulgar outlet of the city, as a place of porters
and messengers loitering in gloomy corridors, of busy clerks for ever
scribbling in nooks unvisited by the sun, or even of portly directors,
congregating in halls encrusted with the cobwebs of centuries. To my
eyes it was invested with the mystery and dignity of Orientalism. I
thought of the powers by which rajahs were raised and overthrown, of the
mandates which spread war and restored peace over regions wide as
Europe, and a thousand times more brilliant. I had rambling visions of
armies of elephants, superb cavalry, and chieftains covered with gold
and diamonds. As I traversed the dusky halls, I thought of the will
which pronounced the fate of kingdoms, the fallen glories of Aurengzebe,
the broken sceptre of the Mahratta, and the crushed tiara of Mysore.
Round me was the moving power of an empire, the noblest that the East
has ever seen, and which, in the act of assuming additional greatness,
by a contradiction to all the laws of extended conquest, was hourly
assuming additional stability.

And yet, and yet, are not those the true views, after all? Are the
effects to be forgotten in the instruments, or is it not the result
which forms the character of the whole? Are we to think of the dagger
which strikes the master of a throne, as only the steel in the hand of
an assassin, or as the summoner to civil war and the subversion of
thrones? Is the pen which pours political frenzy through the hearts of
living millions, or sheds the splendours of poetry over millions still
to come, to be valued only as the feather of a bird? Or is the press
itself to be remembered only as a dexterous combination of springs and
screws; or to be bowed down to as the steward of all the hidden
treasures of mind--as the breaker of intellectual chains, the avenger of
injured rights, the moral Hercules that goes forth turning the
wilderness to fertility, and smiting the monsters of the world?

But among the wonders of the time, there was one which struck me with
prodigious force, which has remained on my recollection to this hour,
and which still survives with undiminished vividness. It was the acting
of Siddons.

The stage is now almost undone. The absurd liberalism of the day has
given every corner of London a theatre, and has degraded the character
of the stage in all. By scattering the ability which still exists, it
has stripped the great theatres of the very means of representing
dramatic excellence; while, by adopting popular contrivances to obtain
temporary success, they have driven away dramatic genius in contempt or
in despair. Our stage is now condemned to be fed like a felon from the
dungeons, and, like the felon, to feel a stigma in every morsel which it
puts between its lips. It must stoop to French frivolity, or German
extravagance, and be glad to exist upon either. Yet, why should not
higher names come to its aid? Why should not the State relieve the
difficulties of a great institution, which might be made to repay its
assistance a thousand-fold? Is there nothing that could be withdrawn
from the waste of our civil lists, or the pomp of public establishments,
to reunite, to purify, and even to exalt the stage? The people _will_
have theatres. Good or evil, noble or degraded, the stage will be
demanded by the people. Is it a thing indifferent to our rulers, to
supply them with this powerful and universal excitement in its highest
degree of moral influence, or in its lowest degree of impurity; to bring
before them, with all the attractions of the drama, the memory of heroes
and sages, patriots and martyrs, or leave them to rake for the
indulgence of eye and ear in the very kennels of crime?

"They order those things better in France."

Unquestionably. The care of Government there protects the national
taste, and prevents the theatres from looking for subsistence to the
history of the highway. The vices which now haunt theatres are no more
necessary to their nature, than to the senate or the palace. Why should
not the State interpose to prevent the sale of poison on the stage, as
in the streets? Why should it not offer prizes and honours for great
tragedies and comedies, as soon as it would for a voyage to the Arctic
or Antarctic? But is dramatic genius dead in England? What, in England!
where nothing dies--where every faculty of the heart and understanding
is in the most perpetual activity--where the noblest impulses are
perpetually pushing forward to the noblest ends--where human nature
moves in all its vigour, from hour to hour, without disguise--where the
whole anatomy of the moral frame is visible, and all its weakness, and
all its wonders, are the daily spectacle of all mankind!

In giving these opinions of the powers of the stage, need I guard them
by saying, that I contemplate a higher spirit than the drama even of
Shakspeare has ever displayed--one which, to the vigour of his
characters, and the splendours of his poetry, should add a moral of
which his time was scarcely conscious? My idea would approach more
nearly the objects of the great Greek dramas, in which the first
sympathies of the people were appealed to by the most powerful
recollections of historic virtue; their national victories over the
Persian, the lofty conceptions of their Olympus, the glories of their
national power, and the prospects of their imperishable renown. I
contemplate nothing of the weakness, locality, or license, of our old
drama. I think only of a rich and lofty combination of characters above
the level of our time, thoughts belonging to that elevation, feelings
more generous, vivid, and majestic, and exploits uniting the soaring
spirit of old romance with the sustained strength of modern energy;
Greece in her brightest days of intellectual lustre, Rome in her most
heroic days of patriotism, and England in those days which are yet to
come, and which shall fill up her inheritance of glory.

Siddons was then witching the world--witching, in its more solemn sense;
for though her smile was exquisite, she might have sat for the picture
of a Sybil or a Pythoness. The stage had never seen her equal, and will
probably never see another so completely formed to command all its
influences. Yet her beauty, her acting, even her movement, were
characteristic, and their character was noble melancholy. I never saw so
mournful a countenance combined with so much beauty. Her voice, though
grand, was melancholy--her step, though superb, was melancholy; her very
smile was melancholy; and yet there was so much of living intellect in
her expression, such vast variety of passion in her look and gesture;
she so deeply awoke the feelings, or so awfully impressed the mind; thus
it was impossible to escape the spell, while she moved upon the stage.

In this language there is not the slightest exaggeration. I have seen a
whole audience burst into tears at a single tone of her voice. Her
natural conception was so fine, that the merest commonplace often
received a living spirit from her lips. I have seen a single glance from
her powerful eye hush an audience--I have seen her acting sometimes even
startle and bewilder the actors beside her. There is perhaps a genius
for every art, and hers was the genius of the stage--a faculty of
instant communication between the speaker and the hearer, some
unaccountable sympathy, the power to create which belongs to but one in
millions, and which, where it exists, lifts its possessor to the height
of the Art at once, and constitutes perfection.

It may be presumed that I saw this extraordinary being whenever it was
possible. But her _chef-d'oeuvre_, in my eyes, was the "wife of
Macbeth." The character seemed made for her, by something of that
instinct which in olden times combined the poet and the prophet in one.
It had the ardour and boldness mingled with the solemnity and mystery
that belonged to the character of her beauty.

Her entrance was hurried, as if she had but just glanced over the
letter, and had been eager to escape from the crowd of attendants to
reperuse it alone. She then read on, in a strong calm voice, until she
came to the passage which proved the preternatural character of the
prediction. "They have more in them than mortal knowledge. When I burnt
with desire to question them further, they made themselves into air
and--_vanished_." As she was about to pronounce the last word, she
paused, drew a short breath, her whole frame was disturbed, she threw
her fine eyes upwards, and exclaimed "_Vanished_!" with a wild force,
which showed that the whole spirit of the temptation had shrunk into her
soul. The "Hail, king that shall be!" was the winding-up of the spell.
It was pronounced with the grandeur of one already by anticipation a

Her solitary summons to her distant lord followed, like an invocation--

"Hie thee hither,
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear;
And chastise with the valour of my tongue
All that impedes thee from the golden round."

The murder scene was the next triumph: her acting was that of a
triumphant fiend. I must follow these recollections no further; but the
most admirable piece of dumb show that perhaps ever was conceived, was
her "Banquet scene." That scene, from the terrible business on the
stage--the entrance of Banquo's ghost, the horrors of Macbeth, stricken
in the moment of his royal exultation, and the astonishment and alarm of
the courtiers--is one of the most thrilling and tumultuous. Yet Siddons,
sitting at the extremity of the royal hall, not having a syllable to
utter, and simply occupied with courtesies to her guests, made her
silence so expressive, that she more than divided the interest with the
powerful action going on in front. And when at last, indignant at
Macbeth's terrors, stung by conscience, and alarmed at the result of an
up-breaking of the banquet with such rumours in their lips, she rushed
towards her unhappy husband, and burst out with the words, still though
but whispered, yet intensely poured into his passive ear--

"Are you a _man_?
This is the very painting of your fear!
This is the air-drawn dagger, which, you said,
Led you to Duncan!--
Why do you make such faces? When all's done,
_You look but on a stool_!"

In those accents all else was forgotten.

But her sleep-walking scene! When shall we see its "second or its
similar?" Nothing so solemn, nothing so awful, was ever seen upon the
stage. Yet it had one fault--it was too awful. She more resembled a
majestic shade rising from the tomb than a living woman, however
disturbed by wild fear and lofty passion. It is a remarkable instance of
the genius of Shakspeare, that he here found the means of giving a human
interest to a being whom he had almost exalted to the "bad eminence" of
a magnificent fiend. In this famous soliloquy, the thoughts which once
filled and fired her have totally vanished. Ambition has died; remorse
lives in its place. The diadem has disappeared; she thinks only of the
blood that stains her for ever. She is the queen no more, but an
exhausted and unhappy woman, worn down by the stings of conscience, and
with her frame dying by the disease of her soul.

But Siddons wanted the agitation, the drooping, the timidity. She looked
a living statue. She spoke with the solemn tone of a voice from a
shrine. She stood more the sepulchral avenger of regicide than the
sufferer from its convictions. Her grand voice, her fixed and marble
countenance, and her silent step, gave the impression of a supernatural
being, the genius of an ancient oracle--a tremendous Nemesis.

I have seen all the great tragedians of my day, but I have never seen an
equal to the sublime of this extraordinary actress. I have seen beauty,
youth, touching sensibility, and powerful conception; but I never saw so
complete an union of them all--and that union was the sublime.
Shakspeare must have had some such form before his mind's eye, while he
was creating the wife of Macbeth. Some magnificent and regal
countenance, some movement of native majesty, some imaginary Siddons. He
could not have gone beyond the true. She was a living Melpomene.

The business of the War-Office was not transacted in those days with the
dispatch subsequently introduced by the honest Duke of York. After a
delay of weeks I found myself still ungazetted, grew sad, angry,
impatient; and after some consideration on the various modes of getting
rid of _ennui_, which were to be found in enlisting the service of that
Great Company which extended its wings from Bombay to Bengal, as
Sheridan said, impudently enough, like the vulture covering his prey; or
in taking the chance of fortune, in the shape of cabin-boy on board one
of the thousand ships that were daily floating down the Thames, making
their way to the extremities of the earth; or in finishing my feverish
speculations in a cold bath at the bottom of the Thames itself; I did
what I felt a severer exertion than any of them--I wrote a full and true
statement of my vexations to my lordly brother.

His answer was lordly enough. He had been "so much occupied with the
numberless duties devolving upon him as landlord, magistrate,
lord-lieutenant, and fifty other things, that he absolutely had not been
able to find a moment to think of me;" and what was rather more
perplexing to my immediate sensibilities, "he had not been able to send
me a shilling. However, he did all that he could, and gave me a note to
a particular friend," Mr Elisha Mordecai of Moorfields.

There is nothing which quickens a man's movements like a depletion of
the purse; and instead of lounging at my hotel until the morning paper
brought me the scandals and pleasantries of the day before fresh for my
breakfast-table, I threw myself out of bed at an hour which I should not
have ventured to mention to any man with whom I walked arm-in-arm during
the day, and made my way in a hackney coach, to avoid the possibility of
being recognised, to the dwelling of my new patron, or rather my guide
and guardian angel.

I make no attempt to describe the navigation through which I reached
him; it was winding, dark, and dirty beyond all description, and gave
the idea of the passages of a dungeon rather than any thing else that I
could name. And in a hovel worthy to finish such a voyage of discovery,
I discovered Mr Elisha Mordecai, the man of untold opulence. For a
while, on being ushered into the office, where he sat pen in hand, I was
utterly unable to ascertain any thing of him beyond a gaunt thin figure,
who sat crouching behind a pile of papers, and beneath a small window
covered with the dirt of ages. He gave me the impression in his dungeon
of one of those toads which are found from time to time in blocks of
coal, and have lain there unbreathing and unmoving since the deluge.
However, he was a man of business, and so was I for the moment. I handed
him my brother's note; and like a ray of sunshine on the torpid snake,
it put him into immediate motion. He now took off his spectacles, as if
to indulge himself with a view of me by the naked eye; and after a
scrutinizing look, which, in another place and person, I should probably
have resented as impertinent, but which here seemed part of his
profession, he rose from his seat and ushered me into another apartment.
This room was probably his place of reception for criminals of a more
exalted order; for it was lined with foreign prints, had one or two
tolerable Dutch pictures, and a bookcase. Out of his bookcase he took
down a folio, examined it, compared the writing of my credentials with
the signatures of a book which, as Cromwell's son said of his trunk,
contained the lives and fortunes, or at least that on which depended the
lives and fortunes, of half the noble _roues_ of England, their
"promises to pay," bonds, mortgages, and post-obits, and then performed
the operation on myself. My L.2500 in prospect was mulcted of a fifth
for the trouble of realizing it; of another fifth for prompt payment,
and of another for expediting the affair of my commission. "Another such
victory would have ruined me."

However, I bore the torture well. In truth, I had so little regard for
any object but the grand one of wearing a sword and epaulette, that if
Mordecai had demanded the whole sum in fifths, I should have scarcely
winced. But my philosophy stood me in good part, for it won a grim smile
from the torturer, and even a little of his confidence.

"This," said he, running his finger down a list which looked endless, "I
call my peerage book." Turning to another of equal dimensions, "there
lies my House of Commons. Not quite as many words wasted in it as in the
Honourable House, but rather to the purpose."

Mordecai grew facetious; the feeling that he had made a handsome
morning's work of it put him into spirits, and he let me into some of
the secrets of high life, with the air of a looker-on who sees the whole
game, and intends to pocket the stakes of the fools on both sides.
"Money, Mr Marston," said my hook-nosed and keen-eyed enlightener, "is
the true business of man. It is philosophy, science, and patriotism in
one; or, at least, without it the whole three are of but little service.
Your philosopher dies in a garret, your man of science hawks telescopes,
and your patriot starves in the streets, or gets himself hanged in
honour of the 'Rights of Man.' I have known all these things, for I was
born a German, and bred among the illustrissimi of a German university.
But I determined not to live a beggar, or at least not to die one. I
left Gottingen behind on a May morning, and trudged, fought, and begged,
'borrowed' my way to London. What I am now, you see."

Probably, the glance which I involuntarily gave round the room, did not
exhibit much admiration.

"Ha," said he with a half smile, which, on his gigantic and sullen
features, looked like a smile on one of the sculptures of a mausoleum,
"you are young--you judge by appearances. Let me give you one piece of
advice: If the Italian said, 'distrust words, they are fit only to
disguise thoughts,' take a Londoner's warning, and distrust your
eyes--they are only fit to pretend to see." He paused a moment, and
turned over some memorandums. "I find," said he, "by these papers, that
I shall have occasion to leave town in the beginning of next week. You
shall then see how I live. If I am to be found in this den, it is not
for want of a liking for light and air. I am a German. I have seen
plains and mountains in my time. If I had been a fool, there I should
have remained a bear-shooter; if I were a fool here, I should act like
others of the breed, and be a fox-hunter. But I had other game in view,
and now I could sell half the estates in England, call half the
'Honourable House' to my levee, brush down an old loan, buy up a new
one, and shake the credit of every thing but the Bank of England."

This was bold speaking, and at another time I should have laughed at it;
but the times were bold, the language of the streets was bold, the
country was bold, and I, too, was bold. There was something singular in
the man; even the hovel round him had a look which added to his
influence. I listened to the Jew as one might listen to a revealer of
those secrets which find an echo in every bosom, when they are once
discovered, and on which still deeper secrets seem to depend. My
acquiescence, not the less effective for its being expressed more in
looks than words, warmed even the stern spirit of the Israelite towards
me, and he actually went the length of ordering some refreshments to be
put on the table. We eat and drank together; a new source of cordiality.
Our conversation continued long. I shall have more to say of him, and
must now proceed to other things; but it ended in my acceptance of his
invitation to his villa at Brighton, which he termed "a small thing,
simply for a week's change of air," and where he promised to give me
some curious explanations of his theory--that money was the master of
all things, men, manners, and opinions.

On one of the finest mornings of autumn, I was on the box of the Royal
Sussex Stage.

I had full leisure to admire the country, for our progress occupied
nearly the whole day. We now laugh at our slow-moving forefathers, but
is not the time coming when our thirty miles an hour will be laughed at
as much as their five? when our passage from Calais to Dover will be
made by the turn of a winch, and Paris will be within the penny-post
delivery? when the balloon will carry our letters and ourselves; until
that still more rapid period, when we shall ride on cannon-shot, and
make but a stage from London to Pekin?

On the roof of the coach I found a strong-featured and closely
wrapped-up man, who, by degrees, performed the part of my cicerone. His
knowledge of the localities was perfect; "every bush and bosky dell,"
every creek and winding, as the shore came in sight, was so familiar to
him, that I should have set him down at once for a smuggler, but for a
superiority of tone in his language, and still more from the evident
deference to him by the coachman, in those days a leading authority with
all the passengers. His occupation is now nearly o'er. Fire and water
have swept him away. His broad back, his broad grin, and his broad
buttons, are now but recollections.

My new acquaintance exhibited as perfect a knowledge of the country
residents as of its map, and nothing could be more unhesitating than his
opinions of them all, from the prince and his set, as he termed them, to
Mordecai himself. Of my Jew friend, he said, with a laugh, "There is not
a better friend to the King's Bench in all England. If you have any
thing to lose, he will strip you on the spot. If you have nothing, you
may escape, unless he can make something by having you hanged." I begged
of him to spare my new friend. "Why," said he, "he is one of my oldest
friends, and one of the cleverest fellows alive. I speak tenderly of
him, from admiration of his talents. I have a liking for the perfection
of a rogue. He is a superb fellow. You will find his 'Hermitage,' as he
calls it, a pond of gold fish. But all this you will soon learn for
yourself." The coach now stopped on a rising ground, which showed the
little fishing village beneath us, basking in the glow of sunset. My
cicerone got down, and bade me farewell. On enquiring his name from my
fellow-travellers, a group of Sussex farmers, I found a general
disinclination to touch on the subject. Even the coachman, the
established source of information on all topics, exhibited no wish to
discuss the stranger; his official loquacity was almost dumb. "He merely
believed that he was something in the navy, or in the army, or in
something or other; but he was often in those parts, and generally
travelled to London by the Royal Sussex Stage."

No country in Europe has changed its appearance more than the greater
part of England during the last fifty years. Sussex was then as wild as
the wildest heath of Yorkshire. The population, too, looked as wild as
the landscape. This was once the very land of the bold smuggler; the
haunt of the dashing defier of the customhouse officer, who in those
days generally knew his antagonist too well to interfere with his days
or nights, the run between every port of the west of France and the
coasts of the Channel, being, in fact, as familiar to both as the
lounger in Bond Street to the beau of the day.

We passed groups of men, who, when they had not the sailor's dress, had
the sailor's look; some trudging along the road-side, evidently not in
idleness; others mounted on the short rough horse of the country, and
all knowing and known by our coachman.

On our passing one group, leaning with their backs against one of the
low walls which seemed the only enclosure of this rugged region, I,
half-laughingly, hinted to one of my neighbours, a giant of a
rough-headed farmer, that "perhaps a meeting with such a party, at a
late hour, might be inconvenient, especially if the traveller had a full
purse." The fellow turned on me a countenance of ridicule. "What?" said
he, "do you take them for robbers? Heaven bless you, my lad, they could
buy the stage, horses, passengers, and all. I'll warrant you, they will
have news from over there," and he pointed towards France, "before it
gets into the newspapers, long enough. They are the richest fellows in
the county."

"Are they smugglers?" I asked, with sufficient want of tact.

"Why, no," was the answer, with a leer. "We have nothing of that breed
among us; we are all honest men. But what if a man has an acquaintance
abroad, and gets a commission to sell a cargo of tea or brandy, or
perhaps a present from a friend--what shall hinder him from going to
bring it? I'm sure, not I."

It was evidently not the "etiquette" on the roof of the Royal Sussex to
think much on the subject, and before my curiosity could reach the
length of actual imprudence, the coachman pulled up, and informed me
that I had reached the nearest turn to "the Hermitage." My valise was
lowered down, a peasant was found to carry it, and I plunged into the
depth of a lane as primitive as if it had been a path in Siberia.

It was brief, however, and in a few minutes I was within sight of the
villa. Here I at once discovered that Mordecai was a man of taste;
perhaps the very roughness of the Sussex jungle, through which I had
just come, had been suffered to remain for the sake of contrast. A small
lodge, covered with late blooming roses, let me into a narrow avenue of
all kinds of odorous shrubs; the evening sun was still strong enough to
show me glimpses of the grounds on either side, and they had all the
dressed smoothness of a parterre. The scene was so different from all
that I had been wearied of during the day, that I felt it with double
enjoyment; and the utter solitude and silence, after the rough voices of
my companions in the journey, were so soothing, that I involuntarily
paused before I approached the house, to refresh not more my senses than
my mind. As I stood leaning against a tree, and baring my hot brain and
bosom to the breeze, that rose with delicious coolness, I heard music.
It was a sweet voice, accompanied at intervals by some skilful touches
of a harp; and, from the solemnity of the measure, I supposed it to be a
hymn. Who was the minstrel? Mordecai had never mentioned to me either
wife or daughter. Well, at all events, the song was sweet. The minstrel
was a woman, and the Jew's household promised me more amusement than I
could have expected from the man of Moorfields. The song ceased, the
spell was broken, and I moved on, fully convinced that I had entered on
a scene where I might expect at least novelty; and the expectation was
then enough to have led me to the cannon's mouth or the antipodes.

* * * * *



This old poem, which commemorates the festivities with which ancient
Rome hailed the returning brightness of spring, may, perhaps, awaken in
our readers some melancholy reflections on the bygone delights of the
same season in our own country. To the Romans, it would seem, this
period of the year never ceased to bring rejoicing holidays. There is
good reason to suppose that this poem was written in the declining times
of the empire; if so, it seems that, amidst the public misfortunes that
followed one another during that age, the people were not woe-worn and
distressed; that they were able to forget, in social pleasures, the
gradual decay of their ancient glory. Rome "smiled in death." England is
still great and powerful, but she is no longer Merry England.

Most people have heard of the Floralia, and have learned to deduce the
frolics of Maid Marian and her comrades from the Roman observances on
that festive occasion. But few are aware of the close similarity which
this poem shows to have existed between the customs of the Romans and
those of our fathers. In the denunciations of the latter by the acrid
Puritans of the 17th century, we might almost imagine that the tirade
was expressly levelled against the vigils described in the _Pervigilium
Veneris_. If the poem had ever fallen into the hands of those worthies,
it would have afforded them an additional handle for invective against
the foul ethnic superstitions which the May-games were denounced as
representing. Hear Master Stubbes, in his _Anatomie of Abuses_,
published in 1585:--

"Against May, Whitsonday, or other time, all the yung men and
maides, old men and wives, run gadding over the night to the
woods, groves, hils, and mountains, where they spend all the
night in pleasant pastimes, and in the morning they return,
bringing with them birch and branches of trees, to deck their
assemblies withall; and no meruaile, for there is a great Lord
present amongst them as superintendent and Lord of their
sports, namely, Sathan prince of hel. But the chiefest jewel
they bring from thence is their May-pole, (say rather their
stinking poole,) which they bring home with great veneration."

Who does not remember Lysander's appointment with Hermia:

----"in that wood, a league without the town,
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
To do observance to a morn of May,
There will I stay for thee."

These passages point us to the time when man and nature met to rejoice
together on May-day: to the time before the days of the workhouse and
factory; when the length and breadth of the land rung to the joyaunce
and glee of the holiday-rejoicing nation, and the gay sounds careered on
fresh breezes even where now the dense atmosphere of Manchester or
Ashton glooms over the dens of torture in which withered and debauched
children are forced to their labour, and the foul haunts under the
shelter of which desperate men hatch plots of rapine and slaughter.

The poem shows that the Romans, like the English of those days,
celebrated the season by betaking themselves to the woods throughout the
night, where they kept a vigil in honour of Venus, to whose guardianship
the month of April was assigned, as being the universal generating and
producing power, and more especially to be adored as such by the Romans,
from having been, through her son AEneas, the author of their race. The
poem seems to have been composed with a view to its being sung by a
choir of maidens in their nocturnal rambles beneath the soft light of an
Italian moon. The delicious balm of that voluptuous climate breathes
through every line of it, and vividly presents to the reader's
imagination the scene of the festivity; but whether we can claim these
celebrations for our own May-day, is a doubtful point; for Wernsdorf,
who has included the Pervigilium Veneris in his edition of _Poetae Latini
Minores_, vol. iii., maintains that it is to be referred to the
Veneralia, or feast of Venus, on the 1st of April. The Kalendar of
Constantius marks the 3d day of April as Natalis Quirini. If, then, the
morrow spoken of in the poem is to be taken to mean this birthday of
Romulus, we must suppose the vigil of three nights to have begun on the
night of the last day of March. But perhaps our readers will agree with
us, that there are quite as good grounds for attributing this vigil to
the Floralia, which commenced on the 27th of April, and ended on the
first of May. For although the rites of the Floralia were in honour of
Flora, yet we may easily conceive the principle by which the worship of
Venus, the spirit of beauty, and love, and production, would come to be
intermingled with the homage paid to the flower-goddess. And then the
three nights would denote the nights of the Floralia already past, if we
suppose the hymn to have been sung on the night before the 1st of May.
This seems more natural, as coinciding with the known length of the
festival, than Wernsdorf's hypothesis, which makes the vigil commence
before the month of Venus had opened. As regards the time of year, too,
May is far more suited than April, even in Italy, for outwatching the
Bear on woodland lawns.

The question regarding the author of the Pervigilium Veneris is still a
_lis sub judice_. Aldus, Erasmus, and Meursius, attributed it to
Catullus; but subsequent editors have, with much more probability,
contended that its age is considerably later. We may notice a scholastic
and philosophical spirit about it, which is ill-suited to the Bard of
Verona. Lipsius claimed it for the Augustan age, in consequence of the
mention of Caesar which is introduced. But we think we may safely assume,
that the observance of this vigil grew into custom after the time of
Ovid, otherwise it is difficult to account for the total absence of all
allusion, in his Fasti, to a subject so perfectly adapted to his verse.
But we will not enter any further into a discussion which Salmasius and
Scaliger could not settle, but shall at once present our readers with
the following translation of the Pervigilium Veneris:--

He that never loved before,
Let him love to-morrow!
He that hath loved o'er and o'er,
Let him love to-morrow!

Spring, young Spring, with song and mirth,
Spring is on the newborn earth.
Spring is here, the time of love--
The merry birds pair in the grove,
And the green trees hang their tresses,
Loosen'd by the rain's caresses.
To-morrow sees the dawn of May,
When Venus will her sceptre sway,
Glorious, in her justice-hall:
There where woodland shadows fall,
On bowers of myrtle intertwined,
Many a band of love she'll bind.
He that never, &c.

To-morrow is the day when first
From the foam-world of Ocean burst,
Like one of his own waves, the bright
Dione, queen of love and light,
Amid the sea-gods' azure train,
'Mid the strange horses of the main.
He that never, &c.

She it is that lends the Hours
Their crimson glow, their jewel-flowers:
At her command the buds are seen,
Where the west-wind's breath hath been,
To swell within their dwellings green.
She abroad those dewdrops flings,
Dew that night's cool softness brings;
How the bright tears hang declining,
And glisten with a tremulous shining,
Almost of weight to drop away,
And yet too light to leave the spray.
Hence the tender plants are bold
Their blushing petals to unfold:
'Tis that dew, which through the air
Falls from heaven when night is fair,
That unbinds the moist green vest
From the floweret's maiden breast.
'Tis Venus' will, when morning glows,
'Twill be the bridal of each rose.
Then the bride-flower shall reveal,
What her veil cloth now conceal,
The blush divinest, which of yore
She caught from Venus' trickling gore,
With Love's kisses mix'd, I trow,
With blaze of fire, and rubies' glow,
And with many a crimson ray
Stolen from the birth of day.
He that never, &c.

All the nymphs the Queen of Love
Summons to the myrtle-grove;
And see ye, how her wanton boy
Comes with them to share our joy?
Yet, if Love be arm'd, they say,
Love can scarce keep holiday:
Love without his bow is straying!
Come, ye nymphs, Love goes a Maying.
His torch, his shafts, are laid aside--
From them no harm shall you betide.
Yet, I rede ye, nymphs, beware,
For your foe is passing fair;
Love is mighty, ye'll confess,
Mighty e'en in nakedness;
And most panoplied for fight
When his charms are bared to sight.
He that never, &c.

Dian, a petition we,
By Venus sent, prefer to thee:
Virgin envoys, it is meet,
Should the Virgin huntress greet:
Quit the grove, nor it profane
With the blood of quarry slain.
She would ask thee, might she dare
Hope a maiden's thought to share--
She would bid thee join us now,
Might cold maids our sport allow.
Now three nights thou may'st have seen,
Wandering through thine alleys green,
Troops of joyous friends, with flowers
Crown'd, amidst their myrtle bowers.
Ceres and Bacchus us attend,
And great Apollo is our friend;
All night we must our Vigil keep--
Night by song redeem'd from sleep.
Let Venus in the woods bear sway,
Dian, quit the grove, we pray.
He that never, &c.

Of Hybla's flowers, so Venus will'd,
Venus' judgment-seat we build.
She is judge supreme; the Graces,
As assessors, take their places.
Hybla, render all thy store
All the season sheds thee o'er,
Till a hill of bloom be found
Wide as Enna's flowery ground.
Attendant nymphs shall here be seen,
Those who delight in forest green,
Those who on mountain-top abide,
And those whom sparkling fountains hide.
All these the Queen of joy and sport
Summons to attend her court,
And bids them all of Love beware,
Although the guise of peace he wear.
He that never, &c.

Fresh be your coronals of flowers,
And green your overarching bowers,
To-morrow brings us the return
Of Ether's primal marriage-morn.
In amorous showers of rain he came
T' embrace his bride's mysterious frame,
To generate the blooming year,
And all the produce Earth does bear.
Venus still through vein and soul
Bids the genial current roll;
Still she guides its secret course
With interpenetrating force,
And breathes through heaven, and earth, and sea,
A reproductive energy.
He that never, &c.

She old Troy's extinguish'd glory
Revived in Latium's later story,
When, by her auspices, her son
Laurentia's royal damsel won.
She vestal Rhea's spotless charms
Surrender'd to the War-god's arms;
She for Romulus that day
The Sabine daughters bore away;
Thence sprung the Rhamnes' lofty name,
Thence the old Quirites came;
And thence the stock of high renown,
The blood of Romulus, handed down
Through many an age of glory pass'd,
To blaze in Caesar's at last.
He that never, &c.

All rural nature feels the glow
Of quickening passion through it flow.
Love, in rural scenes of yore,
They say, his goddess-mother bore;
Received on Earth's sustaining breast,
Th' ambrosial infant sunk to rest;
And him the wild-flowers, o'er his head
Bending, with sweetest kisses fed.
He that never, &c.

On yellow broom out yonder, see,
The mighty bulls lie peacefully.
Each animal of field or grove
Owns faithfully the bond of love.
The flocks of ewes, beneath the shade,
Around their gallant rams are laid;
And Venus bids the birds awake
To pour their song through plain and brake.
Hark! the noisy pools reply
To the swan's hoarse harmony;
And Philomel is vocal now,
Perch'd upon a poplar-bough.
Thou scarce would'st think that dying fall
Could ought but love's sweet griefs recall;
Thou scarce would'st gather from her song
The tale of brother's barbarous wrong.
She sings, but I must silent be:--
When will the spring-tide come for me?
When, like the swallow, spring's own bird,
Shall my faint twittering notes be heard?
Alas! the muse, while silent I
Remain'd, hath gone and pass'd me by,
Nor Phoebus listens to my cry.
And thus forgotten, I await,
By silence lost, Amyclae's fate.

* * * * *



The restraint which the ferocious energy of Sultan Mourad-Ghazi, during
the latter years of his reign, had succeeded in imposing on the
turbulence of the Janissaries,[1] vanished at his death; and for many
years subsequently, the domestic annals of the Ottoman capital are
filled with the details of the intrigues of women and eunuchs within the
palace, and the sanguinary feuds and excesses of the soldiery without.
The Sultan Ibrahim, the only surviving brother and successor of Mourad,
was in his twenty-fifth year at the time of his accession; but he had
been closely immured in the seraglio from the moment of his birth; and
the dulness of his temperament (to which he probably owed his escape
from the bowstring, by which the lives of his three brothers had been
terminated by order of Mourad) had never been improved by cultivation.
Destitute alike of capacity and inclination for the toils of government,
he remained constantly immersed in the pleasures of the harem; while his
mother, the Sultana-Walidah Kiosem, (surnamed _Mah-peiker_, or the
_Moon-face_,) who had been the favourite of the harem under Ahmed I.,
and was a woman of extraordinary beauty and masculine understanding,
kept the administration of the state almost wholly in her own hands. The
talents of this princess, aided by the ministers of her selection, for
some time prevented the incompetency of the sultan from publicly
manifesting itself; but Ibrahim at last shook off the control of his
mother, and speedily excited the indignant murmurs of the troops and the
people by the publicity with which he abandoned himself to the most
degrading sensuality. The sanctity of the harem and of the bath had
hitherto been held inviolate by even the most despotic of the Ottoman
sovereigns; but this sacred barrier was broken through by the unbridled
passions of Ibrahim, who at length ventured to seize in the public baths
the daughter of the mufti, and, after detaining her for some days in the
palace, sent her back with ignominy to her father. This unheard-of
outrage at once kindled the smouldering discontent into a flame; the
Moslem population rose in instant and universal revolt; and a scene
ensued almost without parallel in history--the deposition of an absolute
sovereign by form of law. The grand-vizir Ahmed, and other panders to
the vices of the sultan, were seized and put to death on the place of
public execution; while an immense crowd of soldiers, citizens, and
janissaries, assembling before the palace of the mufti early on the
morning of August 8, 1648, received from him a _fetwa_, or decree, to
the effect that the sultan (designated as "Ibrahim Abdul-Rahman
Effendi") had, by his habitual immorality and disregard of law,
forfeited all claim to be considered as a true believer, and was
therefore incapable of reigning over the Faithful. The execution of this
sentence was entrusted to the Aga of the Janissaries, the Silihdar or
grand sword-bearer, and the Kadhi-asker or chief judge of Anatolia, who,
repairing to the seraglio, attended by a multitude of military officers
and the _ulemah_, proceeded without ceremony to announce to Ibrahim that
his rule was at an end. His furious remonstrances were drowned by the
rude voice of the Kadhi Abdul-Aziz Effendi,[2] who boldly reproached him
with his vices. "Thou hast gone astray," said he, "from the paths in
which thy glorious ancestors walked, and hast trampled under foot both
law and religion, and thou art no longer the padishah of the Moslems!"
He was at last conducted to the same apartment whence he had been taken
to ascend the throne, and where, ten days later, his existence was
terminated by the bowstring; while the Sultana-Walidah, (whose
acquiescence in this extraordinary revolution had been previously
secured,) led into the _salamlik_ (hall of audience) her eldest grandson
Mohammed,[3] an infant scarcely seven years old, who was forthwith
seated on the imperial sofa, and received the homage of the dignitaries
of the realm.

[1] See "Chapters of Turkish History," No. III., November 1840.

[2] He was afterwards, in 1651, mufti for a few months; but is
better known as an historian, (under the appellation of
Kara-Tchelibi-Zadah,) and as having been tutor to

[3] His name, according to Evliya, was originally Yusuf, but was
changed to Mohammed on the entreaty of the ladies of the
seraglio, who said that Yusuf was the name of a slave.

Sultan Mohammed IV., afterwards surnamed _Avadji_, or the Hunter, who
was destined to fill the throne of the Ottoman Empire during one of the
most eventful periods of its history, possessed qualifications which, if
his education had not been interrupted by his early accession to supreme
power, might have entitled him to a high place among the monarchs of his
line. Unlike most of the imperial family, he was of a spare sinewy form,
and lofty stature; and his features are said by Evliya to have been
remarkably handsome, though his forehead was disfigured by a deep scar
which he had received in his infancy, by being thrown by his father, in
an access of brutal passion, into a cistern in the gardens of the
seraglio; and a contemporary Venetian chronicler says that his dark
complexion and vivid restless eye gave him rather the aspect of a
_Zigano_, or gipsy, than an Osmanli. In the first years of his reign,
his grandmother, the Walidah Kiosem, acted as regent; but the rule of a
woman and a child was little able to curb the turbulent soldiery of the
capital; and the old feuds between the spahis and janissaries, which had
been dormant since the death of Abaza, broke out afresh with redoubled
violence. The war in Crete, which had been commenced under Ibrahim,
languished for want of troops and supplies; while the rival military
factions fought, sword in hand, in front of the imperial palace, and
filled Constantinople with pillage and massacre. The janissaries, who
were supported by Kiosem, for some time maintained the ascendency; but
this ambitious princess was at length cut off by an intrigue, in the
interior of the harem, fomented by the mother of Mohammed, who suspected
her of a design to prolong her own sway by the removal of the sultan, in
favour of a still younger son of Ibrahim. Seized in the midst of the
night of September 3, 1651, by the eunuchs whom her rival had gained,
Kiosem was strangled (according to a report preserved by Evliya) with
the braids of her own long hair; and the sultan was exhibited at
daybreak by the grand-vizir Siawush-Pasha to the people, who thronged
round the palace on the rumour of this domestic tragedy, to assure them
of the personal safety of their youthful sovereign.

The supreme power was now lodged in the hands of the young Sultana

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