Part 4 out of 6
or rather the chaplain's gun; for that only presents its muzzle. "So
loud a report, and so near, startled my daughters; and I could perceive
that Sophia, in the fright, had thrown herself into Mr Burchell's arms
for protection." We do not recognize the alarmed and lovely Sophia--here
she might be any miss; so that the greatest miss is Mr Mulready's, for
he has missed an opportunity of showing the beauty of the sweet sisters
in alarm. In this chapter, we have Goldsmith's delightful ballad, "Turn,
gentle hermit of the dale." Surely this was worthy an illustration or
two; and if Mr Mulready felt himself confined to the heads of chapters,
might he not, for once, have made his digression from the tale, as
Goldsmith has done, and given us that charming episode?
"The Family Group on Horseback, going to Church."--"And when I got about
halfway home, perceived the procession marching slowly forward towards
the church." "The colt that had been nine years in the family, and
Blackberry, his companion," are not the best horse-flesh. Mr Mulready
does not draw the horse like Mr Herring; so, having failed in the feet
of the colt, he has, though rather awkwardly, hidden Blackberry's behind
a convenient stone, which yet makes us fear that the "family pride" will
have a fall, and spare the Vicar's reproof. The party on Blackberry is
good; and the patient, blind face of the animal is well attempted.
"The Visit to Neighbour Flamborough's on Michaelmas Eve."--"But
previously I should have mentioned the very impolitic behaviour of Mr
Burchell, who, during this discourse, sat with his face turned to the
fire; and, at the conclusion of every sentence, would cry out, 'Fudge!'"
This is scarcely the subject of the illustration, for Mr Burchell is
quite in the background. We should like to have seen his face. Miss
Carolina Wilhelmina Amelia Skeggs is good; Lady Blarney is not the
overdressed and overacting peeress. The whole is very nicely grouped.
Perhaps we are not so pleased with this illustration, remembering
Maclise's more finished picture of the subject.
Moses departing for the "Fair." Hopeful and confident are the group, and
not least so Moses himself. We fancy we recognize in Moses a similar
figure in a sweet picture exhibited last year by Mr Stonhouse, one of
the "Etching Club." We are not quite satisfied with the other
figures--they all hide their faces, as well they might, for their
simplicity in trusting to the "discreet boy" that can "buy and sell to
very good advantage"--so off go Moses and the colt that had been nine
years in the family. "We all followed him several paces from the door,
bawling after him good-luck! good-luck! till we could see him no
No. 12 exhibits simplicity upon a larger scale, and shows the head of
the family, verifying the old proverb, "like father like son"--though it
should be here like son like father. The colt was fitly turned over to
the son, grave blind Blackberry was a horse for the father's art and
wisdom. "By this time I began to have a most hearty contempt for the
poor animal myself, and was almost alarmed at the approach of every
customer." Poor Blackberry! He is quite conscious of his depreciation;
he is a wise animal, and can see that "with half an eye." Alas! we fear
he has not that half. Blackberry is good--yet will he sell for nothing;
how patiently he lets them handle his leg, and a handle it is; we can
imagine the creature thinking, "pray, sir, would you like to look at the
other poor thing of a leg?" The rascally Fair, in which Mr Mulready has
shown, according to his author, that the Vicar ought not to have been,
is well given; but we should have liked a full length portrait of Mr
Jenkinson pronouncing [Greek: Anarchon ara chai atelentaion to pan.]
The reading the letter, the well-known letter of Mr Burchell to "The
Ladies." "There seemed, indeed, something applicable to both sides in
this letter, and its censures might as well be referred to those to whom
it was written, as to us; but the malicious meaning was obvious, and we
went no further." This, as usual, is well grouped; the Vicar ponders,
and cannot tell what to make of it. We should have preferred, as a
subject, the Vicar confronting Mr Burchell, and the cool effrontery of
the philosopher turning the tables upon the Vicar, "and how came you so
basely to presume to break open this letter?" or better still, perhaps,
the encounter of art between Mr Burchell and Mrs Deborah Primrose. And
why have we not Dick's episode of the dwarf and the giant? Episodes are
excellent things, as good for the illustrations as for the book. No. 14,
the contrivance of Mrs Primrose to entrap the squire, properly belongs
to another chapter. "Then the poor woman would sometimes tell the squire
that she thought him and Olivia extremely of a size, and would bid both
stand up to see which was tallest." The passage is nicely told; there
is, however, but one figure to arrest attention, and that is quite
right, for it is Olivia's, and a sweet figure it is. Dear Olivia! We
have not seen her portrait before, and we shall love her, beyond "to the
end of the chapter," to the end of the volume, and the more so, that
hers after all was a hard fate. It is the part of the tale which leaves
a melancholy impression; Goldsmith has so determined it--and to his
judgment we bow implicitly. Had any other author so wretchedly disposed
of his heroine, in a work not professedly tragic, we should have been
pert as critics usually are. Mrs Primrose is certainly here too young.
We cannot keep our eyes off Olivia; and see, the scoundrel has slyly
taken her innocent hand, and the other is put up to her neck in such
modest doubt of the liberty allowed. Here, as in other instances, the
squire is not the well-dressed man of the world, whose gold lace had
attracted Dick's attention. We could linger longer over this
illustration, but must pass on--honest Burchell has been dismissed,
villany has full sway. We must leave poor Olivia to her fate, and turn
to the family picture "drawn by a limner;" capital--"limner" well
suiting the intended satire--some say a good-natured, sly cut at Sir
Joshua. We should certainly have had Mrs Primrose as Venus, and the two
little ones as Cupids, and the Vicar presenting to her his books on the
Whistonian controversy, and the squire as Alexander. Whoever wishes to
see specimens of this kind may see some ludicrous ones at Hampton
court--particularly of Queen Elizabeth, and the three goddesses abashed
by her superiority. We thought to leave poor Olivia to her fate--Mr
Mulready will not let us give her up so easily, and takes us to the
scene of her quitting her home for her betrayer; and this is the subject
"Yes, she is gone off with two gentlemen in a post-chaise; and one of
them kissed her, and said he would die for her;" and there she is,
hiding her beautiful face with her hands, and poor good Dick is pulling
her back by her dress, that she may not go; but a villain's hand is
round her waist, and one foot he has upon the step of the chaise, and
the door is open. Poor Dick, you have nothing left you to do but to run
home as fast as you can; and there you will find such a scene of
innocent enjoyment, how to be marr'd! at the very moment, too, that the
good Vicar had been feeling and saying, "I think myself happier now than
the greatest monarch upon earth. He has no such fireside, nor such
pleasant faces about it. We are descended from ancestors that knew no
stain, and we shall leave a good and virtuous race of children behind
us. While we live they will be our support and our pleasure here, and
when we die they will transmit our honour untainted to posterity. Come,
my son, we wait for a song: let us have a chorus. But where is my
darling Olivia? That little cherub's voice is always sweetest in the
concert." O Dick, Dick! at such a moment as this to run in and tell him
to be miserable for ever; for that his cherub, his Olivia is gone, and
gone, as it appears, to infamy, a thousand times more grievous than
death. Was there ever so touching a scene?--Mr Mulready feared it. That
is a wonderful chapter--the happiness is so domestically heightened,
that the homefelt joy may be more instantly crushed. We know we shall
not see dear darling Olivia again for a long, long time; and feel we
want a pause and a little diversion--so we will go back to Bill the
songster for amusement, and take it if we can; and here is for the
purpose Bill's "Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog," alas! taught him, too,
by honest Mr Williams; we only hope young, sturdy farmers have strong
nerves, and don't break their hearts in love's disappointments. Here is
Dick's Elegy; and as we, too, have a Moses at home of a "miscellaneous
education," we will put on the Vicar's simplicity, and cheerful
familiarity with his own flesh and blood--and thus we address our Moses,
"Come, my boy, you are no hand at singing, so turn the Elegy another
way: let us have a little Latin, for your music is Hexameter and
Pentameter." Our Moses, "That's a hard task, sir, for one that cannot
mount to Parnass Hill without his 'Gradus ad Parnassum.'" "Well, then
get your Gradus, and put your foot in that first step of the ladder."
Our Moses, waggishly--"I must mind my feet, sir, or they will be but
lame verses, and go halting and hobbling--but I suppose you won't be
very particular as to Latinity. I have heard you tell how Farmer
Williams"--"No," said we, "not Williams, any other farmer you please;
poor Williams is not likely to have any children; yet I know what you
were going to say." "Farmer any body, then," said our Moses, "when he
took his boy to school, left him with the master; and shortly returned
to inform him, that, discoursing upon the subject at the 'public,' he
had heard that there were two sorts of Latin, and so he brought the
master a gammon of bacon, for he wished his son to have the best: now I
think, sir, one of these two sorts must be 'dog Latin,' and that must be
best fitted for the Elegy in question." Our Moses beats the Vicar's
hollow in waggery, so we are proud of him. He takes after his mother. We
condescended to be familiar enough to laugh. Now, then, Moses, to _your_
task and we to _ours_. And here we are at--
The scene of Mr Arnold and his family breaking in upon his butler
personating his master, we are rather inclined to think a failure. There
is Mr Mulready's good grouping, but somehow or other it is rather flat
for so piquant an incident; "I was struck dumb with the apprehension of
my own absurdity, when whom should I next see enter the room but my dear
Miss Arabella Wilmot." We should like to have seen, in illustration, the
political butler ordering the Vicar out of his house, or at least a more
decided portrait of Arabella Wilmot. "Beauty is," as Miss Skeggs said of
virtue, "worth any price;" and we are sorry to look about, and continue,
in her words, "but where is that to be found?" What had Mr Mulready to
do, that he would not let us have a sight of Arabella Wilmot. We,
therefore, pass on to her lover, the Vicar's eldest son George,
delivering his letter of recommendation to the nobleman's footmen, with
his fee, which brings us to--
"However, after bribing the servants with half my worldly fortune, I was
at last shown into a spacious apartment, my letter being previously sent
up for his lordship's inspection." The Vicar's son is a fine fellow in
the illustration: we are glad to see him, but rather wish Mr Mulready
had chosen a better subject. George's adventures were written with a
nice satire; for Goldsmith knew what and whom he had to describe. The
reasons why he would not do for an usher, are well put. Is it not
possible that Mr Dickens took his first hint of Do-the-boys' Hall from
reading this passage in Goldsmith? Indeed, there may be a suspicion that
Mrs Primrose gave the idea of Mrs Nickleby, though he has made her an
original. But to return to the traveller--we should like to have seen an
"illustration" of his interview with the principal of the College of
Louvain, a passage quite in the spirit of Le Sage. "The principal seemed
at first to doubt my abilities; but of these I offered to convince him,
by turning a part of any Greek author he should fix upon into Latin.
Finding me perfectly earnest in my proposals he addressed me thus, 'You
see, young man,' continued he, 'I never learned Greek, and I don't find
that I have ever missed it. I have had a doctor's cap and gown without
Greek; I have ten thousand florins a year without Greek; and, in short,'
continued he, 'as I don't know Greek, I do not believe there is any good
The office of Mr Crispe, who fitted becoming situations upon every body.
"There I found a number of poor creatures, all in circumstances like
myself, expecting the arrival of Mr Crispe, presenting a true epitome of
English impatience." And there is Mr Crispe himself, in the distance
indeed, but certainly the principal figure. The expectants are good
enough, but Mr Crispe, with his audacious, confident, deceitful face, is
excellent; the fellow rattling the money in both his pockets, with
fraud, successful laughing fraud filling out both his cheeks. The
audacious wretch! little cares he for the miserable expectants whom he
means to ship off to America and slavery. Preferring to see the Vicar's
son among "the harmless peasants of Flanders," we turn over the leaves.
Here is a delightful group,--a fine sturdy fellow holding his dog by a
handkerchief through his collar, and how naturally the honest brute
leans against his master, as claiming a sort of kindred--the expression
of the young woman with the child in her arms, is attention and
admiration. It is not quite certain that one of the loungers is pleased
with that admiration. This is a pleasant scene, and happily illustrated.
"I had some knowledge of music, with a tolerable voice, and now turned
what was once my amusement into a present means of subsistence." That is
a pleasant, happy scene, though the personages are the poorest. Of
another character is the next scene, and quite other personages act in
it; for we come again to poor Olivia in her distress, grossly, brutally
insulted by the wealthy profligate.
The profligate scoundrel in the very lowest baseness of his
character.--It is poor Olivia speaks. "Thus each day I grew more
pensive, and he more insolent, till at last the monster had the
assurance to offer me to a young baronet of his acquaintance." This
scene is not fit for picture; it is seemingly nothing but successful
villany, and of too gay a cast to be pathetic. The chapter from which it
is taken would have furnished a much better one--the meeting between the
Vicar and his poor Olivia. We can bear the suffering of a Cordelia,
because all in that is great though villany be successful; but there is
a littleness in mere profligacy that infects even the victim. We could
have wished that Mr Mulready had taken the "Meeting" for his
illustration. How exquisitely beautiful is the text! The first impulse
of affection is to forget, or instantly palliate the fault. "Welcome,
any way welcome, my dearest lost one, my treasure, to your poor old
father's bosom!" Then how exquisite her observance of the effect of
grief upon the parent's appearance. "Surely you have too much wisdom to
take the miseries of my guilt upon yourself." How timely has Goldsmith
thrown in this, when we are most willing to catch at a straw of excuse
for the lovely sufferer! No, we say, she never contemplated the misery
she has inflicted; and then how natural is the instantaneous remembrance
of her guilt! The taking it up and laying it down at a moment's call,
from affection, is most touchingly beautiful. "Our wisdom, young woman,"
replied I--"Ah, why so cold a name, papa?" cried she. "This is the first
time you ever called me by so cold a name." "I ask pardon, my darling,"
returned I; "but I was going to observe that wisdom makes but a slow
defence against trouble, though at last a sure one." Admitting the
subject chosen by Mr Mulready, we do not approve of his manner of
telling it; we scarcely know which is the principal figure. Nor is
Olivia's good. It has nothing of the madness the text speaks of. "My
answer to this proposal was almost madness." We are glad to quit the
scene, though our next step is into deeper misery; and--
"The return of the Vicar to his home in flames," a pitiable sight; but
here is the triumph of love over misery, and the subject is good. "Now,"
cried I, holding up my children, "now let the flames burn on, and all my
possessions perish." The scene is well told, and not the worse for a
justifiable theft from Correggio in the fainting figure--it is the
_mother_ in the Ecce Homo in the National Gallery. The failing of the
hands at the moment of action, is true to the original and to nature. We
rejoice that Mr Mulready did not take the return of Olivia as his
subject. We should not like to see Mrs Primrose in that odious light;
and though admirable in the tale, she is no favourite already. The
parent had called his child, "woman--young woman"--the coldness passed
away, and the word was changed for "darling." The word was again to be
resumed, and how applied!--to the unforgiving--That even the Vicar's
anger, we must rather say indignation, should be virtuous. "Ah, madam!"
cried her mother, "this is but a poor place you have come to after so
much finery. My daughter Sophy and I can afford but little entertainment
to persons who have kept company only with people of distinction. Yes,
Miss Livy, your poor father and I have suffered very much of late; but I
hope Heaven will forgive you." Not a word of her own forgiving, not a
word of endearment; and we suspect the word madam had, when written,
more blame in it than it now retains--and how do the words "my daughter
Sophy and I" cut off the forlorn one from the family!--and the plural
"persons" avoiding the individuality, the personality of her daughter
was another deep cut into the very flesh of the lost one's heart. Now
then comes the reproof, and the good man shines in the glory of goodness
and greatness, indignation for love's sake. "During this reception the
unhappy victim stood pale and trembling, unable to weep or to reply; but
I could not continue a silent spectator of her distress; wherefore,
assuming a degree of severity in my voice and manner, which was ever
followed with instant submission, 'I entreat, woman, that my words may
be now marked once for all: I have brought you back a poor deluded
wanderer: her return to duty demands the revival of our tenderness. The
real hardships of life are now coming fast upon us; let us not therefore
increase them by dissensions among each other." The words to the
conclusion of the chapter should be written in letters of gold, were not
the better place for them out of sight, upon the hearts of all; for none
of us have too much charity, though some may have an excess of love.
No. 22 is an affecting scene. The Vicar with his wounded arm is on his
bed, with his distressed family about him. Olivia has fainted on hearing
the news of her betrayer's intended marriage, and the mother is
attending her. "My compassion for my poor daughter, overpowered by this
new disaster, interrupted what I had further to observe. I bade her
mother support her, and after a short time she recovered." The
countenance of the Vicar in this scene is the best among the
illustrations--of that good man enduring affliction, that sight worthy
the gods to look at, as said the Stoic. But we that have human
sympathies, would willingly turn away from such a sight; and where shall
we find refuge? for sorrow is coming on--sorrow upon sorrow--an
accumulation of miseries no Stoic would have borne; for he, with all his
boasted indifference, would have borne them no longer, but ended them
and life together, if he might so end them, as he thought. And now,
happily, "_our_ Moses" comes to our relief, not with extracts from
chapters on stoicism, or any other false philosophy, but holding up to
us what he is pleased to call his "dogrel." So, between him and Bill the
Songster, we will have a duet. But as we have no Bill present, we will
take his part ourselves, and, like other acting substitutes, go through
the part, reading. "Now we hope," addressing our Moses, "you have not
lengthened out your Latin to four lines for the four short English in
each stanza. If you have, to the flames with them!"
"CARMINA ELEGIACA IN MORTEM CUJUSDAM CANIS ISLINGTONIENSIS."
(_We_.--Not in such a hurry--"An Elegy on the death of a mad dog;" and
what made you put in Islingtoniensis? Well, I suppose you call that a
Ciceronic flourish! Now, I will read the English--you the Latin.)
_We_.--Good people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song,
And if you find it wondrous short,
It cannot hold you long.
_Our Moses_.--Quotlibet huc, ubicunque hominum, auscultate canenti,
Si breve vos teneam;--non ego longus ero.
_We_.--In Islington there was a man
Of whom the world might say,
That still a godly race he ran
Whene'er he went to pray.
_Our Moses_.--Quidam Islingtoniensis erat, quem donec adibat
Templa pius, sacra diximus ire via.
_We_.--A kind and gentle heart he had
To comfort friends and foes;
The naked every day he clad
When he put on his clothes.
_Our Moses_.--Suavis amico, inimico, ita mitis, nudum ut amictu,
Quum se vestibat, cotidie indueret.
_We_.--And in that town a dog was found,
As many dogs there be,
Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,
And curs of low degree.
_Our Moses_.--Et canis oppido eodem erat huic, ubi plurimus, et grex
Et faex, cum catulis plebs numerosa canum.
_We_.--This dog and man at first were friends,
But when a pique began,
The dog, to gain some private ends,
Went mad and bit the man.
_Our Moses_.--Grandis amicitia, at Canis, ut sibi gratificetur
Fit rabidus, rabido dente hominemque petit.
_We_.--Around from all the neighbouring streets
The wondering neighbours ran,
And swore the dog had lost his wits,
To bite so good a man.
_Our Moses_.--Concurrunt cives, O illum Cerberun, at aiunt,
Qualem amens rabido dense momordet herum.
_We_.--The wound it seem'd both sore and sad
To every Christian eye,
And while they swore the dog was mad,
They swore the man would die.
_Our Moses_.--O saevum vulnus, clamant lachrymosius omnes,
En rabidus canis, et mox moriturus homo.
_We_.--But soon a wonder came to light,
That show'd the rogues they lied;
The man recover'd of the bite,
The dog it was that died.
_Our Moses_.--Mendaces cives monstrat res prodigiosa,
Sanus homo subito fit--moriturque canis.
"A very good boy, Bill, upon my word," said the Vicar, "and an Elegy
that may truly be called tragical." So we present our Moses a sovereign
for his verse--"A sovereign for a verse, my boy." "I will never," quoth
he, "be averse to a sovereign. We have heard of a monarch who gave a
crown for a song." A little refreshed, let us turn to the book. Here is
No. 23.--Very well, Mr Mulready, artistically performed; but we fear we
shall not relish too many of these distressing subjects. We know, from
distress to distress, you will take us into prison. Artists and writers
of the present day delight in prison scenes; we are not of that class,
but endure it. We would on no account sit down with that
rascally-looking fellow that is driving and taking an inventory of the
Vicar's stock. It is winter too. "The consequence of my incapacity was
his driving my cattle that evening, and their being appraised and sold
the next day for less than half their value."
No. 24--Is the attempt at a rescue. The Vicar represses and reproves the
violence of his enraged parishioners. The drawing is good; but it is not
a subject we delight to look at; and we begin to fear that further on we
shall fare worse. Why did not Mr Mulready give us the interview between
the Vicar and his old acquaintance, Mr Jenkinson? Artists of skill like
to show it in grouping, and prefer that to giving character. "The
consequences might have been fatal, had I not immediately interposed,
and with some difficulty rescued the officers from the hands of the
"The Prison." We have little wish to stay there long, and look at the
odious villains that surround the good man "paying his footing." "I was
apprised of the usual perquisite required upon these occasions, and
immediately complied with the demand, though the little money I had was
nearly exhausted." The next illustration, too, takes us into equally bad
The Vicar's attempt to reform the jail. The mockery, and roguery, and
Vicar's perseverance, while a practised hand is picking his pocket--are
admirably represented. "I therefore read them a portion of the service,
with a loud unaffected voice, and found my audience perfectly merry upon
The penitent scene. "My design succeeded, and in less than six days some
were penitent, and all attentive." We now began to say, what a happy
thing it was that Dr Primrose was sent to jail. Doubtless Goldsmith
intended to show how good comes out of evil. There are some good figures
in this illustration.
The seizure of poor Sophia--and very good it is--not that we
congratulate Mr Mulready on his Sophia here; she is rather a vulgar
dowdy figure, the others are very good, and the incident well told. "A
post-chaise and pair drove up to them, and instantly stopped. Upon which
a well-dressed man, but not Mr Thornhill, stepping out, clasped my
daughter round the waist, and, forcing her in, bid the postilion drive
on, so that they were out of sight in a moment." Now, Mr Mulready, in
the next edition, you must positively illustrate the rescue by Mr
"The Vicar delivering his sermon"--Charmingly grouped are the attentive
and subdued audience. Mrs Primrose is surely too young a figure. If we
could get over our early impression of the Vicar's countenance, his
figure here would probably please. "The prisoners assembled themselves
according to my directions, for they loved to hear my counsel--my son
and his mother supported me on either side."
The return of dear Sophia, with her true but singular lover and
deliverer--Perhaps the vicar takes it more coolly than the text
justifies. "Just as he delivered this news, my dearest girl entered, and
with looks almost wild with pleasure, ran to kiss me in a transport of
action." There should have been an illustration of the scene where Mr
Burchell is discovered to be Sir William Thornhill; and above all, where
he proposes Jenkinson to Sophia.
The complete detection of the squire's villainies, and his great
disappointment. "And to convince you that I speak nothing but truth,
here is the license by which you were married together." All here is
good but the figure of the Squire. In appearance we are to presume that
Squire Thornhill was a gentleman, or Miss Wilmot could not have endured
his addresses, nor indeed would Olivia have been deceived by him. In
this illustration he has neither the appearance, dress, nor attitude of
one in that condition.
The last illustration, or "All's Well that End's Well." It is, however,
near ending badly, both as to the incident and the illustration--in the
latter all is good, excepting only Arabella Wilmot; perhaps there is a
defect in the printing, which gives her an odd look--but altogether she
is not a good figure. She should have been elegance personified.
Burchell looks the sturdy runner that could overtake the chaise, and
rescue manfully his Sophia, to win and wear a favour, though he seems
here in little hurry; but that is in character. "But as I stood all this
time with my book ready, I was at last quite tired of the contest, and
shutting it, 'I perceive,' cried I, 'that none of you have a mind to be
married.'" We should like to have seen the dinner-party, and the two
Miss Flamboroughs ready to die with laughing. "One jest I particularly
remember: old Mr Wilmot drinking to Moses, whose head was turned another
way, my son replied, 'Madam, I thank you.' Upon which the old gentleman,
winking upon the rest of the company, observed that he was thinking of
his mistress; at which jest I thought the two Miss Flamboroughs would
have died with laughing." We should like to have seen their faces by Mr
Mulready's hand, because we are sure that the two Miss Flamboroughs were
thinking of themselves, in conjunction with Moses and the jest.
We have noticed every illustration. We hope there will be another
edition, and then we may have a few more plates. We have therefore, as
we have gone on, ventured to suggest some subjects--but, above all, we
would recommend Mr Mulready to supply a few portraits, heads only, such
as that of the "Schoolmaster in the Deserted Village," by the Etching
* * * * *
THE ATTORNEY'S CLERK IN THE MONK'S HOOD.
"I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous boy--
The sleepless soul that perish'd in his pride."
Had the "resolution and independence" which dignify the lowly, and
strengthen the unhappy, when no visible eye befriends them, been among
the rich endowments of Chatterton's wonderful mind--had he possessed and
cherished the courage that bears up against obloquy and neglect--had he
pursued the rough tenour of his way undaunted, in spite of "solitude,
pain of heart, distress, and poverty," how different must have been the
fate of the inspired boy of Bristol! He might be alive yet; he would be
ninety years old, graced with honour, love, obedience, troops of
friends, and all that should accompany old age. He might have achieved
some great epic, or some gorgeous historical dramas,--have finished the
Fairy Queen, or given us a Fairy King of his own creation.
Among the lighter honours of social distinction, we can fancy his
reception as a London "lion," by the fair and noble in proud places.
Still pleasanter is the vision of his less public hours of idleness
spent among congenial spirits. We can fancy him, the patriarch of living
poets, seated as a guest at the breakfast-table of Samuel Rogers, who is
about twelve years his junior, and those fine lads, Lisle Bowles, James
Montgomery, and William Wordsworth, and those promising children, Tom
Moore and Tom Campbell, and that braw chiel John Wilson--(_palmam qui
meruit ferat_)--the youngest of the party something, perhaps, but not
much, under seventy, except the bard of the Isle of Palms, who is no
chicken; and unless the master of the feast have summoned those pretty
babes from the Wood, the two Tennysons. But alas for Chatterton! the
vision will not hold: he disappears from his chair at the feast, like
Banquo--"and, when all's done, you look but on a stool." The ghost of
the slayer of himself, after long haunting Strawberry Hill, to rebuke
the senile complacency of the chronicler of royal and noble authors,
repaired, after the death of that prosperous man of wit and fashion, to
his native town, to prowl in Redcliff church, and about the graves of
his fathers in its churchyard, and the graves which they had
successively dug there during a century and a half. His bones were left
to moulder among those of other pauper strangers in the burial-ground of
Shoelane workhouse. We attach no credit to the story of the exhumation
of his body, and its mysterious reinterment in Redcliff. His fathers
were sextons; and he, too, was in some sort a sexton also--but
spiritually and transcendantly. He buried his genius in the visionary
grave of Rowley, "an old chest in an upper room over the chapel on the
north side of Redcliff church;" and thence, most rare young conjurer, he
evoked its spirit in the shape of fragments of law-parchment, quaintly
inscribed with spells of verse and armorial hieroglyphics, to puzzle
antiquaries and make fools of scholiasts. Puzzle them he did; and they
could not forgive a clever stripling, whom hunger had tempted to don an
ancient mask, and impose himself on their spectacled eyes as a reverend
elder. Rogue!--vagabond! Profligate impostor! The slim, sleek,
embroidered juggler of the Castle of Otranto had not a kind word for
this ragged orphan of his own craft. He, whose ambition was to shine
among writers who have given intellectual grace to their noble
lineage--among whom assuredly he does and will shine--but whose acute
consciousness of something meretricious in his metal, made him doubt if
the public would accept coinage from his mint; and so caused him to wear
tentative disguises, whether he elaborated a romance or a keen and
playful witticism--and who really did injustice to his own powers,--not
from modesty but meanness,--even he, the son of a prime minister and
heir to a peerage--a man who was himself always something of a
trickster, now mystifying a blind old woman at Paris; now sending open
letters, privately nullified, recommending the bearers to his friend the
envoy at Florence; now, with the mechanic aid of village carpenters and
bricklayers, rearing a frail edifice bristling with false points, and
persuading the world that it was all pure Gothic, perhaps chuckling at
his assurance--even this shrewd mummer gravely shook his head at
Chatterton, and frowned on him as a cheat! True; they were both cheats;
Horace Walpole from apprehensive vanity; Chatterton from proud oblique
humility. The Bristol boy knew his worth; but, doubting the equity as
well as the sagacity of his judges, he did not venture to produce it as
his own. He supposed that an obscure and penniless youth, such as he,
could have little chance of attention or fair play in the world if he
appeared in his proper character; so he painfully assumed another, of a
nature that could not long have been supported even had he been a
various linguist deeply versed in etymologies, and especially proficient
in our extinct idioms, and their several dates of usage, instead of
wanting even Latin enough to understand the easiest parts of Skinner's
Etymology of the English tongue, one of the books that he consulted and
Of all modern suicides this youth was the most interesting; of all
literary impostors the least unpardonable, though his ways were,
unhappily for himself, of indefensible crookedness. He neither ascribed
his fictions to a great name as Ireland did, nor did he, like
Macpherson, steal the heart out of national ballads and traditions, to
stuff a Bombastes Penseroso of his own making.
Any competent, yet moderately indulgent reader, who should for the first
time take up Chatterton's works, and beginning at the beginning, in
Tyrwhitt's first edition, for example, peruse no more than sixty or
seventy pages, would probably lay down the volume somewhat disappointed
not to have found the very extraordinary merit he had expected. The
compositions that this partial examination would take in are
three--Eclogues, Elinour and Juga, Verses to Lydgate, with Song to Ella,
Lydgate's Answer, and the Tournament.
The first Eclogue is a conversation between two fugitive shepherds, who
bewail the wretched condition to which the barons' wars have reduced
them. It contains some pleasing lines.
As the rustics discuss their grievances in a valley under cover of
"... Eve's mantle gray,
The rustling leaves do their white hearts affray.
They regret the pleasures of their forsaken home,
... the kingcup decked mees,
The spreading flocks of sheep of lily white,
The tender applings and embodied trees,
The parker's grange, far spreading to the sight,
The gentle kine, the bullocks strong in fight,
The garden whiten'd with the comfrey plant,
The flowers Saint Mary shooting with the light--
The far-seen groves around the hermit's cell,
The merry fiddle dinning up the dell,
The joyous dancing in the hostry court--
high song and every joy farewell,
Farewell the very shade of fair disport."
In the second Eclogue, a good son invokes blessings on his father, who
is gone with the crusaders to Palestine. He describes with much
animation the voyage, the landing in Syria, the warring Saracens, King
Richard of lion's heart, and anticipates victory and the return to
"Thus Nigel said, when from the azure sea
The swollen sail did dance before his eyne.
Swift as the wish he to the beach did fly,
And found his father stepping from the brine.
Sprites of the blest, the pious Nigel said,
Pour out your pleasance on my father's head!"
The third Eclogue, if divested of certain exuberances--for Chatterton
was precocious in every thing, and many of his fancies want the Bowdler
pruning-knife--might be seasonably transferred to some of the penny
publications for the benefit of Mr Frost's disciples. A poor man and
woman, on their way to the parson's hayfield, complain to each other of
their hard lot in being obliged to earn their bread by the sweat of
their brows. "Why," asks the woman, "should I be more obligated to work
than the fine Dame Agnes? What is she more than me? The man, unable to
solve so knotty a point, says he doesn't see how he himself is not as
good as a lord's son, but he will ask Sir Roger the parson, whom he
"_Man_.--By your priestship now say unto me,
Sir Godfrey the knight, who liveth hard by,
Why should he than me
Be more great
In honour, knighthood, and estate?
"_Sir Roger_.--If thou hast ease, the shadow of content,
Believe the truth, none happier is than thee.
Thou workest well; can that a trouble be?
Sloth more would jade thee than the roughest day.
Could'st thou the secret minds of others see,
Thou would'st full soon see truth in what I say.
But let me hear thy way of life, and then
Hear thou from me the lives of richer men.
"_Man_.--I rise with the sun,
Like him to drive the wain,
And, ere my work is done,
I sing a song or twain.
I follow the plough-tail
With a bottle of ale.
On every saint's day
With the minstrel I'm seen,
All footing away
With the maids on the green.
But oh, I wish to be more great,
In honour, station, and estate!
"_Sir Roger_.--Hast thou not seen a tree upon a hill,
Whose ample boughs stretch wide around to sight?
When angry tempests do the heavens fill,
It shaketh drear, in dole and much affright:
While the small flower in lowly graces deck'd
Standeth unhurt, untroubled by the storm.
The picture such of life. The man of might
Is tempest-chafed, his woe great as his form;
Thyself, a floweret of small account,
Would harder feel the wind as higher thou didst mount."
Sir Roger's moral is trite enough, yet it seems to have escaped the
consideration of our Chartists and Socialists.
Elinour the nut-brown, and Juga the fair, are two pining maidens, who,
seated on the banks of the Redbourne, a river near St Alban's, are each
bemoaning their lovers, gone to fight in that neighbourhood for the Rose
of York. Presently, racked with suspense, they hasten nearer to the
scene of action.
"_Like twain of clouds that hold the stormy rain,
They moved gently o'er the dewy meads_
To where Saint Alban's holy shrines remain.
There did they find that both their knights were slain.
Distraught they wander'd to swoln Redbourne's side,
Yell'd there their deadly knell, sank in the waves, and died."
The verses to Lydgate consist of ten lines of no merit at all, and
supposed to be sent to him by Rowley, with the Ode to Ella, which has a
movement that recalls Collins, a lyrical artist perhaps unexcelled in
our language, and in whose manner Chatterton so obviously and frequently
composes, that the fact alone might have settled the Rowley question,
though we are not aware that it was ever particularly insisted on in the
"Oh Thou, or what remains of Thee,
Ella! the darling of futurity,
Let this my song bold as thy courage be,
As everlasting to posterity--
"When Dacia's sons, with hair of blood-red hue,
Like kingcups glittering with the morning dew,
Arranged in drear array,
Upon the fatal day,
Spread far and wide on Watchet's shore,
Then didst thou furious stand,
And by thy valiant hand
Besprinkle all the meads with gore.
"Driven by thy broadsword fell,
Down to the depths of hell,
Thousands of Dacians went.
* * * * *
"Oh Thou, where'er, thy bones at rest,
Thy sprite to haunt delighteth best,
Whether upon the blood-embrued plain--
Or where thou ken'st from far,
The dismal cry of war,
_Or see'st some mountain made of corses slain,_
"Or see'st the war-clad steed
That prances o'er the mead,
And neighs to be among the pointed spears--
Or in black armour stalk around
Embattled Bristol, once thy ground,
Or haunt with lurid glow the castle stairs,
"Or, fiery, round the Minster glare!
Let Bristol still be made thy care;
Guard it from foeman and consuming fire;
Like Avon's stream embrace it round,
Nor let a sparkle harm the ground,
Till in one flame the total world expire."
The quatrains entitled Lydgate's answer, are amply complimentary on the
foregoing song, but otherwise as prosaic as the lines that introduce it.
* * * * *
"Among the Grecians Homer was
A poet much renown'd;
Among the Latins _Virgilius_
Was best of poets found.
"The British Merlin often had
The gift of inspiration;
And Afled to the Saxon men
Did sing with animation.
"In Norman times Turgotus and
Good Chaucer did excel;
Then Stowe, the Bristol Carmelite,
Did bear away the bell.
"Now Rowley, in these murky days,
Sends out his shining lights,
And Turgotus and Chaucer live
In every line he writes."
The next is the Tournament, an interlude. Sir Simon de Burton, its hero,
is supposed to have been the first founder, in accomplishment of a vow
made on the occasion, of a church dedicated to _Our Lady_, in the place
where the church of St Mary Redcliff now stands. There is life and force
in the details of this tourney; and the songs of the minstrel are good,
especially the first, which is a gallant hunting stave in honour of
William the Red King, who hunts the stag, the wolf, and "the _lion_
brought from sultry lands." The sentiment conveyed in the burden of this
spirited chorus sounds oddly considerate, as the command issued by
"Go, rouse the lion from his hidden den,
Let thy darts drink the blood of any thing but men."
To the paternity of the next in order--the Bristol Tragedy, or Death of
Sir Charles Baldwin--Chatterton confessed; and such an admission might
have satisfied any one but Dean Milles. The language is modern--the
measure flowing without interruption; and, though the orthography
affects to be antiquated, there is but one word (bataunt) in the whole
series of quatrains, ninety-eight in number, that would embarrass any
reader in his teens; though a boy that could generate such a poem as
that, might well be believed the father of other giants whom he chose to
disown. It is a masterpiece in its kind, almost unexceptionable in all
its parts. The subject is supposed to have been suggested by the fate of
Sir Baldwin Fulford, a zealous Lancastrian, beheaded at Bristol in 1461,
the first year of the reign of Edward IV., who, it is believed, was
actually present at the execution.
Now comes Ella, a tragical interlude, or discoursing tragedy, by Thomas
Rowley, prefaced by two letters to Master Canning, and an introduction.
In the first letter, among various sarcasms on the age, is one,
"In holy priest appears the baron's pride."
A proposition, we fear, at least as true in our day as in the fifteenth
century. From the same epistle we would recommend to the consideration
of the Pontius Pilates of our era, the numerous poets who choose none
but awfully perilous themes, and who re-enact tremendous mysteries more
confidently than if they were all Miltons, the annexed judicious
"Plays made from holy tales I hold unmeet;
Let some great story of a man be sung;
When as a man we God and Jesus treat,
In my poor mind we do the Godhead wrong."
And the following piece of advice, from the same letter, would not be
ill bestowed on modern shopocracy:--
"Let kings and rulers, when they gain a throne,
Show what their grandsires and great-grandsires bore;
Let trades' and towns'-folk let such things alone,
Nor fight for sable on a field of ore."
Yet he who could give this sensible counsel did by no means follow it.
Chatterton, who really could trace back his ancestors for 150 years as a
family of gravediggers, drew out for himself a pedigree which would have
astonished Garter king-at-arms, and almost abashed a Welsh or German
genealogy. He derived his descent from Sire de Chasteautonne, of the
house of Rollo, the first Duke of Normandy, who made an incursion on the
coast of Britain in the ninth century, and was driven away by Alfred the
Great! Nine shields, exhibiting the family arms, were carefully prepared
by him, and are preserved, with many other and very various inventions
by the same hand, in the British Museum; and neat engravings of those
Chatterton escutcheons are furnished by Mr Cottle, in his excellent
essays on this tortuous genius. He was equally liberal in providing a
pedigree for his friend Mr Burgham, a worthy and credulous pewterer in
his native town, convincing him, by proofs that were not conclusive at
the Herald's College, that he was descended from the De Burghams, who
possessed the estate and manor of Brougham in the reign of Edward the
Confessor, and so allying the delighted hearer with the forefathers of
an illustrious Ex-Chancellor of our day. No less a personage, too, than
Fitz-Stephen, son of Stephen Earl of Ammerle in 1095, grandson of Od,
Earl of Bloys and Lord of Holderness, was the progenitor gravely
assigned to Chatterton's relative, Mr Stephens, leather-breeches-maker
of Salisbury. Evidence of all sorts was ever ready among the treasures
in the Redcliff muniment room, the Blue-Coat boy's "Open Sesame!"
The plot of Ella may be told in a few words. Ella, a renowned English
warrior, the same who is invoked in the fine song already quoted,
marries Bertha, of whom his friend and fellow warrior, Celmond, is
secretly enamoured. On the wedding-day he is called suddenly away to
oppose a Danish force, which he defeats, but not without receiving
wounds severe enough to prevent his immediate return home. Celmond takes
advantage of this circumstance, and under pretence of conducting Bertha
to her husband, betrays her into a forest that chances to be the covert
of Hurra, the Danish general, and other of the discomfited invaders. Her
shrieks bring Hurra and his companions to her aid. They kill Celmond,
and generously resolve to restore Bertha to her lord. He in the mean
time, impatient to rejoin his bride, has contrived to get home, where,
when he hears of her ill-explained departure, believing her false, he
stabs himself. She arrives only in time to see him die.
Celmond, soliloquizing on the charms of Bertha, exclaims,--
"Ah, Bertha, why did nature frame thee fair?
Why art thou not as coarse as others are?
_But then thy soul would through thy visage shine_;
Like nut-brown cloud when by the sun made red,
So would thy spirit on thy visage spread."
At the wedding-feast, so unexpectedly interrupted by news of the Danes,
the following pretty stanzas are sung by minstrels representing a young
man and woman.
"_Man_.--Turn thee to thy shepherd swain;
Bright sun has not drunk the dew
From the flowers of yellow hue;
Turn thee, Alice, back again.
_Woman_.--No, deceiver, I will go,
Softly tripping o'er the mees,
Like the silver-footed doe
Seeking shelter in green trees.
_Man_.--See the moss-grown daisied bank
Peering in the stream below;
Here we'll sit in dewy dank,
Turn thee, Alice: do not go.
_Woman_.--I've heard erst my grandam say
That young damsels should not be,
In the balmy month of May,
With young men by the greenwood tree.
_Man_.--Sit thee, Alice, sit and hark
How the blackbird chants his note,
The goldfinch and the gray-morn lark,
Shrilling from their little throat.
_Woman_.--I hear them from each greenwood tree
Chanting out so lustily,
Telling lectures unto me,
Mischief is when you are nigh.
_Man_.--See, along the mends so green
Pied daisies, kingcups sweet,
All we see; by none are seen;
None but sheep set here their feet.
_Woman_.--Shepherd swain, you tear my sleeve;
Out upon you! let me go;
Keep your distance, by your leave,
Till Sir Priest make one of two.
_Man_.--By our lady and her bairn,
To-morrow, soon as it is day,
I'll make thee wife, nor be forsworn,
So may I live or die for aye.
_Woman_.--What doth hinder but that now
We at once, thus hand in hand,
Unto a divine do go,
And be link'd in wedlock-band?
_Man_.--I agree, and thus I plight
Hand and heart and all that's mine.
Good Sir Herbert do us right,
Make us one at Cuthbert's shrine.
_Both_.--We will in a cottage live,
Happy though of no estate;
Every hour more love shall give;
We in goodness will be great."
The two Danish generals, Hurra and Magnus, warm their blood to the
fighting temperature before the battle by quarreling with and abusing
each other, like Grecian heroes. They are both bullies, but Hurra is
brave and Magnus a craven. Chatterton's sarcastic humour plays them off
admirably. The result of the struggle between the two armies is pithily
announced by one of the fugitives:--
"Fly, fly, ye Danes! Magnus the chief is slain;
The Saxons come with Ella at their head:
Fly, fly, _this is the kingdom of the dead_."
In this drama is the exquisite melody, "O, sing unto my roundelay!" with
which every one is familiar, as it is introduced into all our popular
selections from the poets.
Here is a cunning description of dawn.
"The morn begins along the east to sheen,
_Darkling the light doth on the waters play_;
The faint red flame slow creepeth o'er the green,
To chase the murkiness of night away,
Swift flies the hour that will bring out the day.
The soft dew falleth on the greening grass;
The shepherd-maiden, dighting her array,
_Scarce sees her visage in the wavy glass_."
Such extracts do not, and are not intended to, convey any notion of
Chatterton's dramatic power in this play. Mere extracts would not do
justice to that, and therefore we confine ourselves to selections of a
few out of many passages that can stand independent of plot or action,
without detriment to their effect. The same remark will not apply to the
next piece, or rather fragment. Godwin, a Tragedy, by Thomas Rowley. It
is short, and the dramatic interest weak. In the following noble chorus,
however, we recognise the genius of Chatterton:--
"When Freedom, drest in blood-stained vest,
To every knight her war-song sung,
Upon her head wild weeds were spread,
A gory broadsword by her hung.
She paced along the heath,
She heard the voice of death.
"Pale-eyed Affright, his heart of silver hue,
In vain essay'd her bosom to congeal:
She heard inflamed the shrieking voice of Woe,
And cry of owls along the sadden'd vale.
She shook the pointed spear,
On high she raised her shield;
Her foemen all appear,
And fly along the field.
"Power, with his head uplifted to the skies,
His spear a sunbeam and his shield a star,
Like two bright-burning meteors rolls his eyes,
Stamps with his iron feet, and sounds to war.
She sits upon a rock,
She bends before his spear,
She rises from the shock,
Wielding her own in air.
"Hard as the thunder doth she drive it on;
Keen wit, cross muffled, guides it to his crown;
His long sharp spear, his spreading shield are goe;
He falls, and falling rolleth thousands down."
A short prologue by Master William Canning, informs us that this tragedy
of Godwin was designed to vindicate the Kentish earl's memory from
prejudices raised against him by monkish writers, who had mistaken his
character, and accused him of ungodliness "for that he gifted not the
church." There are but three scenes in the play. In the first, Godwin
and Harold confer together on the distressed state of the nation, and
the weakness of the king, whose court is overrun with Norman favourites
to the exclusion of the English knights, and the great oppression of the
people. Harold, young and impetuous, is for instant rebellion; but the
father tries to moderate his rage, recommending patience and calm
"_Godwin_.--What tidings from the king?
_Harold_.-- His Normans know.
_Godwin_.--What tidings of the people?
_Harold_.--Still murmuring at their fate, still to the king
They roll their troubles like a surging sea.
Has England, then, a tongue but not a sting?
Do all complain, yet will none righted be?
_Godwin_.--Await the time when God will send us aid.
_Harold_.--Must we, then, drowse away the weary hours?
I'll free my country, or I'll die in fight.
_Godwin_.--But let us wait until some season fit.
_My_ Kentishmen, _thy_ Somertons shall rise,
Their prowess warmer for the cloak of wit,
Again the argent horse shall prance in skies."
An allusion, says Chatterton, to the arms of Kent, a horse salient,
argent. As to the cloak of wit, it may possibly be preserved in
Somersetshire; but the mantle certainly was not tied as an indefeasible
heirloom over the broad shoulders of the county of Kent. No ancient
Saxons, or even Britons, ever displayed prowess so stolid as those brave
wild-wood savages of Boughton Blean, near Canterbury, who recently fell
in battle with her Majesty's 45th regiment, opposing sticks to balls and
bayonets, under their doughty leader Sir William Courtenay, Earl of
Devonshire, Knight of Malta, King of Jerusalem, and much more. And there
were other blockheads, substantial dunces, of respectable station in
East Kent, among this ignorant and ambitious madman's supporters; men
who had been at school to little purpose. Such an insurrection of
satyrs, and such a Pan, in the middle of the nineteenth century, within
earshot of the bells of Christchurch! But this by the bye.
The next poem is styled English Metamorphosis, by T. Rowley. It consists
of eleven stanzas of ten lines each, all fluent and spirited, and some
of very superior merit. It is the fable of Sabrina, Milton's "daughter
of Locrine," transliquefied to the river Severn, while her mother,
Elstrida, was changed to the ridge of stones that rises on either side
of it, Vincent's rocks at Clifton, and their enemy, the giant, was
transformed to the mountain Snowdon. This giant was a very Enceladus.
"He tore a ragged mountain from the ground;
Hurried up nodding forests to the sky:
Then with a fury that might earth astound,
To middle air he let the mountain fly,
_The flying wolves sent forth a yelling cry_."
In illustration of Elstrida's beauty,--
"The morning tinge, the rose, the lily flower,
In ever-running race on her did paint their power."
The most vulgar and outworn simile is refreshed with a grace by the
touch of Chatterton.
Of the next poem--An excellent ballad of Charity, by the good priest,
Thomas Rowley, 1454--it is clear that the young author thought highly,
by a note that he transmitted with it to the printer of the "Town and
Country Magazine," July 4, 1770, the month preceding that of his death.
Unlike too many bearers of sounding appellations, it has certainly
something more than its title to recommend it.
The octosyllabic lines--twenty only--on Redcliff Church, by T.R., show
what nice feeling Chatterton had for the delicacies of that florid
"The cunning handiwork so fine,
Had wellnigh dazzled mine eyne.
Quoth I, some artful fairy hand
Uprear'd this chapel in this land.
Full well I know so fine a sight,
Was never raised by mortal wight."
Of its majesty he speaks in another measure:--
"Stay, curious traveller, and pass not by
Until this festive pile astound thine eye.
Whole rocks on rocks, with iron join'd, survey;
And oaks with oaks that interfitted lie;
This mighty pile that keeps the winds at bay,
And doth the lightning and the storm defy,
That shoots aloft into the realms of day,
Shall be the record of the builder's fame for aye.
Thou see'st this mastery of a human hand,
The pride of Bristol, and the western land.
Yet is the builder's virtue much more great;
Greater than can by Rowley's pen be scann'd.
Thou see'st _the saints and kings in stony state,
As if with breath and human soul expand_.
Well may'st thou be astounded--view it well;
Go not from hence before thou see thy fill,
And learn the builder's virtues and his name.
Of this tall spire in every country tell,
And with thy tale the lazy rich men shame;
Show how the glorious Canning did excel;
How he, good man, a friend for kings became,
And glorious paved at once the way to heaven and fame."
The "Battle of Hastings" is the longest of Chatterton's poems, and the
reader who arrives at its abrupt termination will probably not grieve
that it is left unfinished. The whole contains about 1300 lines in
stanzas of ten, describing archery fights and heroic duels that are
rather tedious by their similarity, and offensive from the smell of the
shambles; and which any quick-witted stripling with the knack of rhyming
might perhaps have done as well, and less coarsely, after reading
Chapman's or Ogilby's Homer, or the fighting scenes in Spenser, the
Border Ballads, &c. But even this composition is not unconscious of the
true afflatus, such as is incommunicable by learning, not to be inhaled
by mere imitative powers, and which might be vainly sought for in
hundreds of highly elaborated prize poems.
There is nothing more interesting in British history than the subject;
and it is one which Chatterton, with all his genius, was much too young
to treat in a manner at all approaching to epic completeness. Yet a few
specimens might show that he is not deficient in the energy of the
Homeric poetry of action. But here is metal more attractive, a young
"White as the chalky cliffs of Britain's isle,
Red as the highest-coloured Gallic wine,
Gay as all nature at the morning smile,
Those hues with pleasance on her lips combine;
Her lips more red than summer evening's skies,
Or Phoebus rising in a frosty morn;
Her breast more white than snow in fields that lies,
Or lily lambs that never have been shorn,
Swelling like bubbles in a boiling well,
Or new-burst brooklets gentling whispering in the dell,
* * * * *
"Brown as the filbert dropping from the shell,
Brown as the nappy ale at Hocktide game--
So brown the crooked rings that neatly fell
Over the neck of that all-beauteous dame.
Grey as the morn before the ruddy flame
Of Phoebus' chariot rolling through the sky;
Grey as the steel-horn'd goats Conyan made tame--
So grey appear'd her featly sparkling eye.
* * * * *
"Majestic as the grove of oaks that stood
Before the abbey built by Oswald king;
Majestic as Hibernia's holy wood,
Where saints, and souls departed, masses sing--
Such awe from her sweet look far issuing,
At once for reverence and love did call.
Sweet as the voice of thrushes in the spring,
So sweet the words that from her lips did fall.
* * * * *
"Taper as candles laid at Cuthbert's shrine,
Taper as silver chalices for wine,
So were her arms and shape.--
As skilful miners by the stones above
Can ken what metal is inlaid below,
So Kennewalcha's face, design'd for love,
The lovely image of her soul did show.
Thus was she outward form'd; the sun, her mind,
Did gild her mortal shape and all her charms refined."
The next poem, and the last of the _modern-antiques_ that it may be
worth while to note, is the story of William Canning, the illustrious
founder of Redcliff Church, and is worthy of the author and his subject.
"Anent a brooklet as I lay reclined,
Listening to hear the water glide along,
Minding how thorough the green meads it twined,
While caves responded to its muttering song,
To distant-rising Avon as it sped,
Where, among hills, the river show'd his head.
Engarlanded with crowns of osier-weeds,
And wreaths of alders of a pleasant scent.
"Then from the distant stream arose a maid,
Whose gentle tresses moved not to the wind.
Like to the silver moon in frosty night,
The damsel did come on so blithe and bright.
No broider'd mantle of a scarlet hue,
No peaked shoon with plaited riband gear,
No costly paraments of woaden blue;
Nought of a dress but beauty did she wear;
Naked she was, and looked sweet of youth,
And all betoken'd that her name was Truth."
The few words then spoken by this angelical lady--who unhappily favoured
Chatterton but with "angel visits, short and far between"--throw him
into a reverie on the life of William Canning, whose boyhood was more
fortunate than the poet's; for it is here reported of Canning, that
"He ate down learning with the wastlecake."
Chatterton, poor fellow, had neither fine bread to eat, nor fine
learning within the possibility of his acquisition. Yet even the worthy
Corporation of his native city will, we doubt not, be willing to allow
that the Blue-Coat Charity boy might be entitled to the praise he gives
Canning in the next couplet: that he--
"As wise as any of the Aldermen,
Had wit enough to make a Mayor at ten."
We have limited these slight notices to the Rowley Poems; and such
readers of our extracts as have been repelled from the perusal of those
poems, by the formidable array of uncouth diction and strange spelling,
may enquire what has become of the hard words. Here are long quotations,
and not an obsolete term or unfamiliar metre among them. Chatterton took
great pains to encrust his gold with verd-antique; it requires little to
remove the green rubbish from the coin. By the aid of little else than
his own glossary, "the Gode Preeste Rowleie, Aucthoure," is restored to
his true form and pressure, and is all the fairer for the renovation.
We have no space for examination of the "numerous verse," and verses
numerous, that Chatterton left undisguised by barbarous phraseology. His
modern poems, morally exceptionable as is much of the matter, are
affluent of the genius that inspired the old. African Eclogues, Elegies,
Political Satires, Amatory Triflings, Lines on the Copernican System,
the Consuliad, Lines on Happiness, _Resignation_, The Art of Puffing,
and Kew Gardens--to say nothing of his equally remarkable prose
writings--attest the versatility of his powers, and the variety of his
perception of men and manners. His knowledge of the world appears to
have been almost intuitive; for surely no youth of his years ever
displayed so much. Bristol, it is true, was, of all great towns in
England, one of the most favourable to the development of his peculiar
and complicated faculties. His passion for antiquarian lore, and his
poetical enthusiasm, found a nursing mother in a city so rich in ancient
architecture, heraldic monuments, and historical interest; his caustic
humour was amply fed from the full tide of human life, with all its
follies, in that populous mart; and his exquisite sensibility to the
beautiful and magnificent in nature, was abundantly ministered to by the
surrounding country. We are told that he had been by some odd chance
taught his alphabet, and his first lesson in "reading made easy," out of
a black-letter Bible! That accident may have had its share in forming
his taste for old-fashioned literature. But he was an attorney's clerk!
The very name of a lawyer's office seems to suggest a writ of ejectment
against all poetical influences in the brain of his indented apprentice.
Yet Chatterton's anomalous genius was in all likelihood fostered by that
dark, yet subtle atmosphere. His duty of copying precedents must have
initiated him in many of the astute wiles and twisted lines of reasoning
that lead to what is termed sharp practice, and so may have confirmed
and aided his propensities to artifice; while the mere manual operation
tutored his fingers to dexterity at quaint penmanship. He had much
leisure too; for it is recorded that his master's business seldom
occupied him more than two hours a-day. He was left to devote the rest
of his time unquestioned to all the devices of an inordinate
After all, it is no unreasonable charity to believe, that what was
unworthy and unsound in his character, and probably in his physical
temperament, might, under more auspicious circumstances of condition and
training, have been kept in check till utterly expelled by the force of
his own maturer mind. In weighing his faults against his genius and its
better fruits, it should never be forgotten that when he terminated his
existence he was only seventeen years and nine months old.
"More wounds than nature gave he knew,
While misery's form his fancy drew
In dark ideal hues and horrors not its own."
May we not even dare to hope, then, though he "perished in his pride,"
that he is still a living genius, assoiled of that foul stain of
self-murder, and a chartered spiritualized melody where want and trouble
 T. Warton's "Suicide."
* * * * *
IGNACIO GUERRA AND EL SANGRADOR;
A TALE OF CIVIL WAR.
On a June evening in the year 1839, four persons were assembled in the
balcony of a pleasant little villa, some half-league from the town of
Logrono in Navarre. The site of the house in question was a narrow
valley, formed by a double range of wood-covered hills, the lower limbs
of a mountain chain that bounded the horizon some miles in rear of the
villa. The house itself was a long, low building, of which the white
stone walls had acquired the mellow tint that time and exposure to the
seasons can alone impart. A solid balcony of carved unpainted oak ran
completely round the house, its breadth preventing the rays of the sun
from entering the rooms on the ground floor, and thereby converting them
into a cool and delightful refuge from the heats of summer. The windows
of the first and only story opened upon this balcony, which, in its
turn, received shelter from a roof of yellow canes, laid side by side,
and fastened by innumerable packthreads, in the same way as Indian
matting. This sort of awning was supported by light wooden pillars,
placed at distances of five or six feet from each other, and
corresponding with the more massive columns that sustained the balcony.
At the foot of these latter, various creeping plants had taken root. A
broad-leafed vine pushed its knotty branches and curled tendrils up to
the very roof of the dwelling, and a passion-flower displayed its
mystical purple blossoms nearly at as great a height; while the small
white stars of the jasmine glittered among its narrow dark-green leaves,
and every passing breeze wafted the scent of the honeysuckle and
clematis through the open windows, in puffs of overpowering fragrance.
About two hundred yards to the right of the house, rose one of the
ranges of hills already mentioned, and on the opposite side the eye
glanced over some of those luxuriant corn-fields which form so important
a part of the riches of the fertile province of Navarre. The ground in
front of the villa was tastefully laid out as a flower garden, and,
midway between two magnificent chestnut trees, a mountain rivulet fell
into a large stone basin, and fed a fountain, from which it was spouted
twenty feet into the air, greatly to the refreshment of the surrounding
The party that on the evening in question was enjoying the scent of the
flowers and the song of the nightingales, to which the neighbouring
trees afforded a shelter, consisted, in the first place, of Don Torribio
Olana, a wealthy proprietor of La Rioja, and owner of the country-house
that has been described. He had been long used to pass the hot months of
each year at this pleasant retreat; and it was no small calamity to him
when the civil war that broke out on the death of Ferdinand, rendered it
scarcely safe, in Navarre at least, to live out of musket-shot of a
garrison. Sometimes, however, and in spite of the advice of his friends,
who urged him to greater prudence, the worthy Riojano would mount his
easy-going round-quartered cob, and leave the town for a few hours'
rustication at his _Retiro_. After a time, finding himself unmolested
either by Carlists or by the numerous predatory bands that overran the
country, he took for companions of his excursions his daughter
Gertrudis, and an orphan niece, to whom he supplied the place of a
father. Five years of impunity were taken as a guarantee for future
safety, and Don Torribio now no longer hesitated to pass the night at
his country-house as often as he found it convenient. It was observed,
also, that many of those persons who had at first loudly blamed him for
risking his neck, and that of his daughter and niece, in order to enjoy
a purer atmosphere than could be inhaled in the dusty streets of
Logrono, at length gathered so much courage from his example, as to
accompany him out to the _Retiro_, and eat his excellent dinners, and
empty his cobweb-covered bottles, without allowing their fear of the
Carlists to diminish their thirst or disturb their digestion.
Upon this occasion, however, the only guest was a young and handsome
man, whose sunburnt countenance and military gait bespoke the soldier,
while a double stripe of gold lace on the cuff of his blue frock-coat,
marked his rank as that of lieutenant-colonel. Although not more than
thirty years of age, Don Ignacio Guerra had already attained a grade
which is often the price of as many years' service; but his rapid
promotion was so well justified by his merit and gallantry, that few
were found to complain of a preference which all felt was deserved. Both
by moral and physical qualities, he was admirably suited to the
profession he had embraced. Slender in person, but well knit and
muscular, he possessed extraordinary activity, and a capacity of
enduring great fatigue. Indulgent to those under his command, and
self-denying in all that regarded himself personally, his enthusiasm for
the cause he served was such, that during nearly two years that he had
been the accepted lover of Donna Gertrudis Olana, this was only the
second time he had left his regiment for a few days' visit to his
affianced bride. He had arrived at Logrono the preceding day from a town
lower down the Ebro, where the battalion he commanded was stationed; and
Don Torribio, with whom he was a great favourite, had lost no time in
taking him out to the _Retiro_; nor, perhaps, were the lovers sorry to
leave the noise and bustle of the town for this calm and peaceful
It was about an hour after sunset, and Don Torribio sat dozing in an
arm-chair, with his old black dog Moro coiled up at his feet, and his
niece Teresa beside him, busying herself in the arrangement of a bouquet
of choice flowers, while at the other end of the balcony Gertrudis and
her lover were looking out upon the garden. The silence was unbroken,
save by the splashing noise of the fountain as it fell back upon the
water-lilies that covered its basin. The moon was as yet concealed
behind the high ground to the right of the house; but the sky in that
direction was lighted up by its beams, and the outline of every tree and
bush on the summit of the hill was defined and cut out, as it were,
against the clear blue background. Suddenly Gertrudis called her
companion's attention to the neighbouring mountain. "See, Ignacio!"
exclaimed she, "yonder bush on the very highest point of the hill! Could
not one almost fancy it to be a man with a gun in his hand? and that
clump of leaves on the top bough might be the _boina_ of one of those
While she spoke the officer ran his eye along the ridge of the hill, and
started when he caught sight of the object pointed out by Gertrudis; but
before he could reply to her remark, she was called away by her father.
At that moment the supposed bush made a sudden movement, and the long
bright barrel of a musket glittered in the moonbeams. The next instant
the figure disappeared as suddenly as though it had sunk into the earth.
The Christino colonel remained for a moment gazing on the mountain, and
then, turning away, hastened to accompany his host and the ladies, who
had received a summons to supper. On reaching the foot of the stairs,
however, instead of following them into the supper-room, he passed
through the house-door, which stood open, and, after a moment's halt in
the shade of the lattice portico, sprang forward with a light and
noiseless step, and in three or four bounds found himself under one of
the large chestnut trees that stood on either side the fountain. Keeping
within the black shadow thrown by the branches, he cast a keen and
searching glance over the garden and shrubberies, now partially lighted
up by the moon. Nothing was moving either in the garden, or as far as he
could see into the adjacent country. He was about to return to the
house, when a blow on the back of the head stretched him stunned upon
the ground. In an instant a slip-knot was drawn tight round his wrists,
and his person securely pinioned by a strong cord to the tree under
which he had been standing. A cloth was crammed into his mouth to
prevent his calling out, and the three men who had thus rapidly and
dexterously effected his capture, darted off in the direction of the
Desperate were the efforts made by Don Ignacio to free himself from his
bonds, and his struggles became almost frantic, when the sound of a
scuffle in the house, followed by the piercing shrieks of women, reached
his ears. He succeeded in getting rid of the handkerchief that gagged
him, but the rope with which his arms were bound, and that had
afterwards been twined round his body and the tree, withstood his utmost
efforts. In vain did he throw himself forward with all his strength,
striking his feet furiously against the trunk of the tree, and writhing
his arms till the sharp cord cut into the very sinew. The rope appeared
rather tightened than slackened by his violence. The screams and noise
in the house continued; he was sufficiently near to hear the hoarse
voices and obscene oaths of the banditti--the prayers for mercy of their
victims. At length the shrieks became less frequent and fainter, and at
last they died away entirely.
Two hours had elapsed since Ignacio had been made prisoner, hours that
to him appeared centuries. Exhausted by the violence of his exertions,
and still more by the mental agony he had endured, his head fell forward
on his breast, a cold sweat stood upon his forehead, and had it not been
for the cords that held him up, he would have fallen to the ground. He
was roused from this state of exhaustion and despair by the noise of
approaching footsteps, and by the arrival of a dozen men, three or four
of whom carried torches. They were dressed in the sort of half uniform
worn by the Carlist _volantes_, or irregular troops; round their waists
were leathern belts filled with cartridges, and supporting bayonets and
long knives, in many instances without sheaths. Ignacio observed with a
shudder that several of the ruffians had their hands and weapons stained
"Whom have we here?" exclaimed a sallow, evil-visaged fellow, who wore a
pair of tarnished epaulets. "Is this the _negro_ you secured at the
beginning of the affair?"
One of the men nodded assent, and the chief bandit, taking a torch,
passed it before the face of the captive officer.
"_Un militar_!" exclaimed he, observing the uniform button. "Your name
Receiving no reply, he stepped a little on one side, and looked to the
coat-cuff for the usual sign of grade.
"_Teniente coronel_!" cried he on seeing the double stripe.
A man stepped forward, and Ignacio, who knew that death was the best he
had to expect at the hands of these ruffians, and was observing their
proceedings in stern silence, immediately recognized a deserter from his
"'Tis the Colonel Ignacio Guerra," said the man; "he commands the first
battalion of the Toledo regiment."
An exclamation of surprise and pleasure burst from the Carlists on
hearing the name of an officer and battalion, well known and justly
dreaded among the adherents of the Pretender. Their leader again threw
the light of the torch on the features of the Christino, and gazed at
him for the space of a minute with an expression of cruel triumph.
"Ha!" exclaimed he, "_el Coronel Guerra! He_ is worth taking to
"We shall have enough to do to get away ourselves, laden as we are,"
said one of the men, pointing to a number of large packages of plunder
lying on the grass hard by. "Who is to take charge of the prisoner? Not
I, for one."
A murmur among the other brigands approved this mutinous speech.
"_Cuatro tiros_," suggested a voice.
"Yes," said the leader, "to bring down the enemy's pickets upon us. They
are not a quarter of a league off. Pedro, lend me your knife. We will
see," he added with a cruel grin, "how the gallant colonel will look
A knife-blade glanced for a moment in the torchlight as it was passed
round the head of the Christino officer.
"_Toma! chicos!_" said the savage, as he threw the ears of the unhappy
Ignacio amongst his men. A ferocious laugh from the banditti welcomed
this act of barbarous cruelty.
The leader sheathed the knife twice in his victim's breast before
restoring it to it's owner, and the Carlists, snatching up their booty,
disappeared in the direction of the mountains.
At daybreak the following morning, some peasants going to their labour
in the fields saw the body of the unfortunate officer still fastened to
the tree. They unbound him, and, perceiving some signs of life, carried
him into Logrono, where they gave the alarm. A detachment was
immediately sent out to the Retiro, but it was too late to pursue the
assassins; and all that could be done was to bring in the bodies of Don
Torribio, his daughter, and niece, who were lying dead in the
supper-room. An old groom and two women servants had shared a like fate;
the horses had been taken out of the stable, and the house ransacked of
every thing valuable.
For several weeks Ignacio Guerra remained wavering, as it were, between
life and death. At length he recovered; but his health was so much
impaired, that the surgeons forbade his again encountering the fatigues
of a campaign. Enfeebled in body, heartbroken at the horrible fate of
Gertrudis, and foreseeing the speedy termination of the war, consequent
on the concluded treaty of Bergara, he threw up his commission, and left
Spain to seek forgetfulness of his misfortunes in foreign travel.
In all French towns of any consequence, and in many whose size and
population would almost class them under the denomination of villages,
there is some favourite spot serving as an evening lounge for the
inhabitants, whither, on Sundays and fete-days especially, the belles
and _elegants_ of the place resort, to criticize each other's toilet,
and parade up and down a walk varying from one to two or three hundred
yards in extent.
The ancient city of Toulouse is of course not without its promenade,
although but poor taste has been evinced in its selection; for, while on
one side of the town soft well-trimmed lawns, cool fountains, and
magnificent avenues of elm and plane trees, are abandoned to
nursery-maids and their charges, the rendezvous of the fashionables of
the pleasant capital of Languedoc is a parched and dusty _allee_,
scantily sheltered by trees of recent growth, extending from the canal
to the open square formerly known as the Place d'Angouleme, but since
1830 re-baptized by the name of the revolutionary patriarch General
It was on a Sunday evening of the month of August 1840, and the Allee
Lafayette was more than usually crowded. After a day of uncommon
sultriness, a fresh breeze had sprung up, and a little before sundown
the fair Toulousaines had deserted their darkened and artificially
cooled rooms, and flocked to the promenade. The walk was thronged with
gaily attired ladies, smirking dandies, and officers in full dress. In
the fields on the further side of the canal, a number of men of the
working-classes, happy in their respite from the toils of the week, were
singing in parts, with all the musical taste and correctness of ear for
which the inhabitants of that part of France are noted; while, on the
broad boulevard that traverses the lower end of the _allee_, a crowd of
recruits whom the conscription had recently called under the colours,
stood gazing in open-mouthed astonishment and infinite delight at some
rudely constructed booths and shows, outside of which, clown and
paillasse were rivalling each other in the broad humour of their lazzi.
Parties of students, easily recognizable by their eccentric and
exaggerated style of dress, and the loud tone of their conversation,
were seated outside the cafes and ice-rooms, or circulating under the
trees, puffing forth clouds of tobacco smoke; and on the road round the
_allee_, open carriages, smart tilburies, and dapper horsemen were
Among the various groups thronging the promenade was one, which, in Hyde
Park or on the Paris boulevards, would have attracted some notice; but
the persons composing it were of a class too common of late years in the
south of France to draw upon them any attention from the loungers. The
party in question consisted of three men, who, by their bronzed
complexions, ragged mustaches, and sullen, dogged countenances, as well
as their whole air and _tournure_, were easily distinguishable as
belonging to the exiled and disappointed faction of the Spanish
Pretender. Their threadbare costume still exhibited signs of their late
military employment, probably from a lack of means to replace it by any
other garments. The closely buttoned blue frock of one of them still had
upon its shoulders the small lace straps used to support the epaulets,
and another wore for headdress a _boina_, with its large starlike
tassels of silver cord. The third and most remarkable of the party, was
a man in the prime of life and strength, whose countenance bore the
impress of every bad passion. It was one of those faces sometimes seen
in old paintings of monkish inquisitors, on viewing which, one feels
inclined to suspect that the artist has outdone and exaggerated nature.
The expression of the cold, glassy, grey eye, and thin, pale, compressed
lips, was one of unrelenting cruelty; while the coarsely moulded chin
and jaw gave a sensual character to the lower part of the face. The scar
of a sabre-cut extended from the centre of the forehead nearly to the
upper lip, partly dividing the nose, and giving a hideously distorted
and unnatural appearance to that feature. The man's frame was bony and
powerful; the loose sheepskin jacket he wore was thrown open, and
through the imperfectly fastened shirt-front, it might be seen that his
breast was covered with a thick felt of matted hair.
It was the moment of the short twilight that in the south of France
intervenes between day and night. The Carlists had reached the upper end
of the walk, and, turning round, began to descend it again three
abreast, and with the man who has been particularly described in the
centre. On a sudden the latter stopped short, as though petrified where
he stood. His countenance, naturally sallow, became pale as ashes, and,
as if to save himself from falling, he clutched the arm of one of his
companions with a force that made him wince again, while he gazed with
distended eyeballs on a man who had halted within half-a-dozen paces of
the Spaniards. The person whose aspect produced this Medusa-like effect
upon the Carlist was a man about thirty years of age, plainly but
elegantly dressed, and of a prepossessing but somewhat sickly
countenance, the lines of which were now working under the influence of
some violent emotion. The only peculiarity in his appearance was a black
silk band which, passing under his chin, was brought up on both sides of
the head, and fastened on the crown under the hat.
"_Que tienes, Sangrador_? What ails thee, man?" enquired the Carlists of
their terror-stricken companion, addressing him by a _nom-de-guerre_
that he doubtless owed to his bloody deeds or disposition. At that
moment the stranger sprang like a bloodhound into the centre of the
group. In an instant El Sangrador was on the ground, his assailant's
knee upon his breast, and his throat compressed by two nervous hands,
which bade fair to perform the office of a bowstring on the prostrate
man. All this had passed in far less time than is required to narrate
it, and the astonishment of the Carlists at their comrade's terror and
this sudden attack, was such, that, although men of action and energy,
they were for a moment paralysed, and thought not of rescuing their
friend from the iron gripe in which he was held. Already his eyes were
bloodshot, his face purple, and his tongue protruding from his mouth,
when a gendarme came up, and aided by half-a-dozen of those agents who,
in plain clothes, half-spy and half-policeman, are to be found in every
place of public resort in France, succeeded, but not without difficulty,
in rescuing the Carlist from the fierce clutch of his foe, who clung to
him with bull-dog tenacity till they were actually drawn asunder by main
"_Canalla! infame!_" shouted the stranger, as he writhed and struggled
in the hands of his guards. "By yonder villain have all my hopes in life
been blasted--an adored mistress outraged and murdered, myself tortured
and mutilated in cold blood!" And, tearing off the black fillet that
encircled his head, it was seen that his ears had been cut off. A murmur
of horror ran through the crowd which this scene had assembled. "And
shall I not have revenge?" shouted Ignacio (for he it was) in a voice
rendered shrill by furious passion. And by a violent effort he again
nearly succeeded in shaking off the men who held him.
El Sangrador, whose first terror had probably been caused by
astonishment at seeing one whom he firmly believed numbered with the
dead, had now recovered from his alarm.
"_Adios_, Don Ignacio," cried he with a sneer, as he walked away between
two gendarmes, while his enemy was hurried off in another direction.
The following day El Sangrador was sent to a depot of Spanish emigrants
in the interior of France. On his departure, the authorities, who had
made themselves acquainted with the particulars of this dramatic
incident, released Don Ignacio from confinement; but he was informed
that no passport would be given him to quit Toulouse unless it were for
the Spanish frontier.
At the distance of a few leagues from the town of Oleron, and in one of
the wildest parts of the Pyrenees, is a difficult pass, scarcely known,
except to smugglers and izard-hunters whose hazardous avocations make
them acquainted with the most hidden recesses of these rugged and
picturesque mountains. Towards the close of the summer of 1841, this
defile was occasionally traversed by adherents of the Ex-Queen-Regent
Christina, entering Spain secretly and in small parties, to be ready to
take share in the abortive attempt subsequently made to replace the
reins of government in the hands of Ferdinand's widow. Not a few
Carlists also, weary of the monotonous inactive life they were leading
in France, prepared to join the projected insurrection; and, leaving the
towns in which a residence had been assigned them, sought to gain the
Spanish side of the Pyrenees, where they might lie _perdus_ until the
moment for active operation arrived, subsisting in the meanwhile by
brigandage and other lawless means. Owing to the negligence, either
accidental or intentional, of the French authorities, these adventurers
usually found little difficulty in reaching the line of demarcation
between the two frontiers; but it was there their troubles began, and
they had to take the greatest precaution to avoid falling into the hands
of the Spanish _carabineros_ and light troops posted along the frontier.
Among those who intended to take a share in the rebellion, Don Ignacio
Guerra occupied a prominent place. Being well known to the Spanish
Government as a devoted adherent of Christina, it would have been in
vain for him to have attempted entering Spain by one of the ordinary
roads. Repairing to Oleron, therefore, he procured himself a guide, and
one of the small but sure-footed horses of the Pyrenees, and, after a
wearisome march among the mountains, arrived about dusk at a cottage, or
rather hovel, built on a ledge of rock within half-an-hour's walk of the
Spanish frontier. Beyond this spot the road was impracticable for a
horse, and dangerous even for a pedestrian, and Don Ignacio had arranged
to send back his guide and horse and proceed on foot; in which manner,
also, it was easier to avoid falling in with the Spanish troops. The
night was fine, and having had the road minutely explained to him by his
peasant guide, Ignacio had no doubt of finding himself, in a few hours,
at a village where shelter and concealment were prepared for him.
Leaving the horse in a sort of shed that afforded shelter to two or
three pigs, the Christino officer entered the hut, followed by his guide
and by a splendid wolf-dog, an old and faithful companion of his
wanderings. It was some seconds, however, before their eyes got
sufficiently accustomed to the dark and smoky atmosphere of the place,
to distinguish the objects it contained. The smoke came from a fire of
green wood, that was smouldering under an enormous chimney, and over
which a decrepit old woman was frying _talloua_ or maize-meal cake, in
grease of a most suspicious odour. The old lady was so intent on the
preparation of this delicacy, a favourite food of the Pyrenean
mountaineers, that it was with difficulty she could be prevailed upon to
prepare something more substantial for the hungry travellers. Some
smoked goats' flesh and acid wine were at length obtained, and, after a
hasty meal, Ignacio paid his guide and resumed his perilous journey. The
moon had not yet risen--the night was dark--the paths rugged and
difficult, and the troops on the alert; to avoid falling in with an
enemy, or down a precipice, so much care and attention were necessary,
that nearly three hours had elapsed before Ignacio perceived that his
dog had not followed him from the cottage. The animal had gone into the
stable and lain down beside his master's horse, doubtless imagining, by
that sort of half-reasoning instinct which dogs possess, that, as long
as the horse was there, the rider would not be far off.
Ignacio's first impulse, on discovering the absence of his four-footed
companion, was to return to the cottage; but the risk in so doing was
extreme, and as he felt certain his guide would take care of the dog,
and that he should get it at some future day, he resolved to pursue his
journey. Meantime the night became darker and darker--thick clouds had
gathered, and hung low--there was no longer the slightest trace or
indication of a path, and the darkness preventing him from finding
certain landmarks he had been told to observe, he was obliged to walk on
nearly at hazard, and soon became aware he had lost his way. To add to
his difficulties, the low growlings of distant thunder were heard, and
some large drops of rain fell. A violent storm was evidently
approaching, and Ignacio quickened his pace in hopes of finding some
shelter before it came on, resolving to wait at all risks till daylight
before continuing his route, lest he should run, as it were, blindfolded
into the very dangers he wished to avoid. A sort of cliff or wall of
rock he had for some time had on his left hand, now suddenly ended, and
a scene burst on his view which to him was commonplace enough, but would
have appeared somewhat strange to a person unaccustomed to such sights.
The mountain, which had been steep and difficult to descend, now began
to slope more gradually as it approached nearer its base. On a sort of
shelving plateau of great extent, a number of charcoal-burners had
established themselves, and, as the most expeditious way of clearing the
ground, had set light in various places to the brushwood and furze that
clothed this part of the mountain. To prevent, however, the
conflagration from extending too far, they had previously, with their
axes, cleared rings of several feet wide around the places to which they
set fire. The bushes and furze they rooted up were thrown into the
centre, and increased the blaze. In this manner the entire mountain
side, of which several hundred acres were overlooked from the spot where
Ignacio stood, appeared dotted with brilliant fiery spots of some fifty
feet in diameter, the more distant ones assuming a lurid blood-red look,
seen through the fog and mist that had now gathered over the mountain.
Ignacio approached the nearest of the fires, lighted close to a crag
that almost overhung it, and that offered a sufficient shelter from the
rain which had begun to descend in torrents. Throwing himself on the
ground with his feet towards the flames, he endeavoured to get a little
sleep, of which he stood much in need. But it was in vain. The situation
in which he found himself suggested thoughts that he was unable to drive
away. Gradually a sort of phantasmagoria passed before his "mind's eye,"
wherein the various events of his life, which, although a short one, had
not the less been sadly eventful, were represented in vivid colours. He
thought of his childhood, spent in the sunny _vegas_ of Andalusia--of
the companions of his military studies, high-spirited free-hearted lads,
of whom some had achieved honours and fame, but by far the greater part
had died on the battle-field--the smoke of the bivouac fire, the merry
laugh of the _insouciant_ soldier--the din and excitement of the
fight--the exultation of victory, and the well-won and highly relished
pleasures of the garrison town after severe duty in the field;--the
graceful form of Gertrudis now flitted across the picture--her jetty
hair braided over her pure white forehead, the light of her swimming
"eye, that mocked her coal-black veil," flashing from under the
mantilla. Her father, with his portly figure and good-humoured
countenance, was beside her. They smiled at Ignacio, and seemed to
beckon to him. So life-like was the illusion of his fancy, he could
almost have sprung forward to join them. But again there was a change. A
large and handsome room, a well-covered table--all the appliances of
modern luxury--plate and crystal sparkling in the brilliant lights--a
happy cheerful party surrounding the board. Alas, for the tragedy played
on this stage! The hand of the spoiler was there--blood and womens'
screams, dishevelled hair and men's deep oaths, the wild and broken
accents of despair, the coarse jest and ferocious exultation of
gratified brutality. And then all was dark and gloomy as a winter's
night, and through the darkness was seen a grave-stone, shadowy and
spectral, and a man still young, but with heart crushed and hopes
blighted, lying prostrate before it, his breast heaving with convulsive
sobs of agony, until at length he rose and moved sadly away, to become
an exile and a wanderer in a foreign land.
Maddened by these reflections, Ignacio started to his feet, and was
about to rush out into the storm, and fly, he knew not whither, from his
own thoughts, when he suddenly became aware of the presence of a man
within a few yards of him. The projecting crag, under which he had
sought a shelter, extended all along one side of the fire. In one corner
an angle of the rock threw a deep shadow, in which Ignacio now stood,
and was thus enabled, without being seen himself, to observe the
new-comer, who seated himself on a block of stone close to the fire. As
he did so, the flame, which had been deadened by the rain, again burned
up brightly, and threw a strong light on the features of the stranger.
They were those of _El Sangrador_.
With stealthy pace, and trembling at every step, lest his prey should
take the alarm, and even yet escape him, Ignacio stole towards his
mortal foe. The noise of the storm, that still raged furiously, enabled
him to get within five paces of him without being heard. He then halted,
and silently cocking a pistol, remained for some time motionless as a
statue. Now that his revenge was within his grasp, he hesitated to take
it, not from any relenting weakness, but because the speedy death it was
in his power to give, appeared an inadequate punishment--a paltry
vengeance. Had he seen his enemy torn by wild horses, or broken on the
wheel, his burning thirst for revenge would hardly have been slaked; and
an easy, painless death by knife or bullet, he looked upon as a boon
rather than a punishment. An end was put to his hesitation by the
Carlist himself, who, either tormented by an evil conscience, or
oppressed by one of those unaccountable and mysterious presentiments
that sometimes warn us of impending danger, became restless, cast uneasy
glances about him, and at last, turning round, found himself face to
face with Ignacio. Almost before he recognized him, a hand was on his
collar, and the muzzle of a pistol crammed into his ear. The click of
the lock was heard, but no discharge ensued. The rain had damped the
powder. Before Ignacio could draw his other pistol, the Carlist grappled
him fiercely, and a terrible struggle commenced. Their feet soon slipped
upon the wet rock, and they fell, still grasping each other's throats,
foaming with rage, and hate, and desperation. The fire, now nearly out,
afforded little light for the contest; but as they rolled over the
smouldering embers, clouds of sparks arose, their clothes and hair were
burned, and their faces scorched by the heat. The Carlist was unarmed,
save with a clasp-knife, which, being in his pocket, was useless to him;
for had he ventured to remove one hand from the struggle even for a
moment, he would have given his antagonist a fatal advantage. At length
the contest seemed about to terminate in favour of Ignacio. He got his
enemy under, and knelt upon his breast, while, with a charred,
half-burned branch which he found at hand, he dealt furious blows upon
his head. Half-blinded by the smoke and heat, and by his own blood, the
Carlist felt the sickness of death coming over him. By a last effort he
slipped one hand, which was now at liberty, into his pocket, and
immediately withdrawing it, raised it to his mouth. His teeth grated
upon the blade of the knife as he opened it, and the next instant
Ignacio, with a long deep sob, rolled over among the ashes. The Carlist
rose painfully and with difficulty into a sitting posture, and with a
grim smile gazed upon his enemy, whose eyes were glazing, and features
settling into the rigidity of death. But the conqueror's triumph was
short-lived. A deep bark was heard, and a moment afterwards a wolf-dog,
drenched with mud and rain, leaped into the middle of the embers.
Placing his black muzzle on Ignacio's face, he gave a long deep howl,
which was succeeded by a growl like that of a lion, as he sprang upon
The morning after the storm, when the charcoal-burners returned to their
fires, they found two dead bodies amidst the ashes. One of them had a
stab in his breast, which had caused his death. The other was
frightfully disfigured, and bore marks of the fangs of some savage
animal. In that wild district, the skirmishing-ground of smugglers and
_douaniers_, the mountaineers think little of such occurrences. A hole
was dug, the bodies thrown into it; and a cross, rudely cut upon the
rock, alone marks the spot where the midnight conflict took place.
* * * * *
MEMORANDUMS OF A MONTH'S TOUR IN SICILY.
The _Francesco Primo_ was to leave the harbour at ten o'clock. Better
acquaintance with Mediterannean _pyroscaphs_, as they call themselves,
whose axle-trees turn not except when the police pleases, ought to have
led us to all the latitude of uncertainty; but when two hours and more
had elapsed with all the passengers aboard, we began to suppose some
extraordinary cause for so long a detention. A deputation is accordingly
dispatched to the captain, which brings back an abrupt reply, that he is
not going _yet_; and that it is for him and the proprietors to be
dissatisfied, who are wasting steam, while we are only losing patience.
It shortly transpired that he was under Government orders, and would not
proceed for another hour at _least_, nor even then, unless he received
permission from the minister of police. The affair now looked serious.
We must have some _carbonaro_ on board, who was, in due time, to be
arrested; and no further doubt could remain of this, when, that other
hour being past, we saw a longboat leaving shore, with two officers and
six stout rowers, who soon brought her under our bow. What can it be?
The senior epaulet rises in the boat--the second follows his
example--both are on deck; the captain, hitherto unseen, now comes
forward with alacrity, and, stretching forward _both_ his hands,
receives with profound reverence a thin, square enclosure, with an
immense seal attached to it, and retires to put it in a place of safety.
The uniforms disappear over the side of the vessel--the paddles begin to
paw the water--we swing round--and in a few seconds our prow points for
the _Sorrentine_ coast, and we are on our watery way to _Sicily_. What,
then, had detained us? It is always very provoking to have a miserable
solution of a promising mystery! We were on the exact spot for a new
edition of some "_Verbosa et grandis Epistola_" from the tyrants of the
land; and so it was, but only not _from_ Capreae or Tiberius this time.
Yes! The actual cause of the delay of a great steam-boat, full of
passengers, for three hours, attended, among other melancholy results,
with that of exciting the choler of a new-made cardinal, was a _letter_
that the Queen of Naples, who had probably overslept herself, had
occasion to write to the king on conjugal affairs!--his majesty having
left her majesty only the day before, to show himself to his loving
subjects at Palermo. Hem! Campania _felix_! If we were known to be
inditing this unreverential passage, and its disloyal apostrophe, we
should, no doubt, be invited to leave "Campania the happy" at a day's
notice; whereas our comfort is, that this day three months it is quite
possible that it will have been read in Bengal!
We are now in the middle of the Bay of Naples; the spot from which
panoramas have been so often sketched on that noble elevation, the deck
of a lofty ship, swinging on her cables. What numberless sites of
unparallelled interest are hence visible to the newly arrived and
insatiable stranger! _Misenum, Baiae, Puteoli, Gaurus, Vesuvius,
Herculaneum, Pompeii_! But the office of the cicerone here cannot--alas
for Britain!--be confined to the old classics, or the mere indication of
places whose very _names_ are things to _conjure with_! In America, we
converse with nature only, whose voice is in her woods and waterfalls;
but, in our threadbare Europe, all _sites_ are _historical_, and chiefly
in one sad sense--for Waterloo only brings up the rear of fields
illustrated by the wholesale destruction of mankind! In the position
which we now occupy, volumes might be written--ay, and _have been
Look at that proud, impregnable Castle of St Elmo, culminating over all
Naples! Look at those sea-washed fortresses which guard the entrance of
her harbour! The garrisons of those strong places having, in the year
1799, from the turn of public affairs, judged it expedient to capitulate
to Ferdinand and his allies, on conditions which should leave their
honour without blemish, and assure their own safety and that of the
city; and this capitulation having been solemnly accepted and ratified
by _Cardinal Ruffo, as the king's legate and plenipotentiary_, by the
late _Sir Edward Foote_, as acting commodore of the British force, and
by the representatives of _two European governments_, officially
residing in the revolutionized city, and the surrender of the forts
having accordingly taken place, it came to pass, in an evil hour, that
Lord Nelson, entering the bay as commander-_in-chief_, took upon himself
the odious responsibility of rescinding the British guarantee, and of
supporting Ferdinand, powerless but through him, in his refusal to hold
himself bound by a convention made _by his own viceroy_!--thus
delivering over the defenceless city to its own implacable sovereign.
Then came a political persecution unknown in the annals of mankind;
till, _hebetes lasso lictore secures_, even Naples could bear no more!
The noblest blood and the most distinguished talent were no protection
at the bar of a special tribunal, with a low-born monster at its head,
not surpassed in its atrocities by the revolutionary tyrants of Paris
and of Lyons. The ships shared the infamy; the venerable and noble
Caraccioli, seventy-five years of age, himself an admiral, was the first
_piaculum_! Summarily condemned by a court-martial _held on board
Nelson's flag-ship_, he was executed like a felon, and cast overboard
from a Neapolitan frigate floating on the same anchorage, and subject to
the same authority!
But Nelson's star was then in the ascendant; the presence and notorious
influence of Emma Hamilton in these frightful transactions, was
unaccountably connived at by the British nation. The officer who has
been a party to a convention, which his commander-in-chief thinks proper
not only to disapprove but to violate, must inevitably suffer in that
fame and popularity which our public services so justly cherish. And in
the state of men's passions during that memorable war, _so that it were
against the French, a successful_ commander-in-chief could do no wrong!
Yet here, probably, the matter would have rested; but when, nine years
afterwards, _Stanier Clarke_ so little appreciated the duty of a
biographer as to relate a transaction susceptible of no excuse, in terms
unjustified by the facts, and sought to render his hero _immaculate_ at
the _expense of others_, the excellent officer whose feelings and
character had been so cruelly sacrificed, felt himself compelled at last
to publish his "Vindication," judicious in every thing but _the title_.
He most properly printed the _Convention itself_ in the original words,
and with all the signatures it bore. Such works, however, even when the
affairs they refer to are _recent_, are never read but by _friends_--or
_enemies_. A late atonement was made by William IV. in conferring on Sir
Edward Foote a titular distinction, which the public heed not; but the
tables are now turned, and Europe, taught by Cuoco, Coletta, and by
Botta, the great historian of Italy, has irrevocably closed this _great
account_. The name of Foote is recorded in all their pages in terms
which, had he seen them, might well have consoled him for the past;
while the last and most popular biographer of Nelson (Southey) feels
himself compelled to admit, and the frank admission does him infinite
honour, that this is a passage of his hero's life which the muse of
history "must _record with sorrow and with shame_."
But the sea spray is dashing splendidly on our bows--we are clearing
Capri, and have, as we pass it, a fine view of that high and precipitous
rock, thinking of Tiberius and the soothsayer Thrasyllus, and of all the
monstrous scenes which those unapproachable cliffs concealed from the
indignation even of a Roman world. But twilight was already coming on,
and the city and the coast were gradually withdrawn from the
panorama--dark night came rushing over the deep, an Italian summer's
night, and yet with no stars or moon; meanwhile steadily rides our
vessel along the Calabrian waters, confident alike of her strength and
her bearings, which we soon left her to pursue, and went down to see
what the cabin and the company promised below. And thus the hours passed
away; and when the suspended lamp began to burn dimly under the
skylight, and grey morning found stealthy admittance through the cabin
windows, although we had been unable to sleep, the anticipation of all
the marvels we were to see in Sicily had answered the purpose of a
night's rest, and sent us active and alert on deck to fresh air and the
rising sun. Nor were we a moment too soon. A large flotilla of little
boats manoeuvring between two of larger size, placed to defend the space
destined for their operations, were now in the full activity of the
thunny and spada fishery; and a most picturesque rock, right over our
bow, proved to be no other than _Monte Pelegrino_, at the foot of which
lay Palermo and our breakfast--in short, after a voyage of little more
than a summer's night, we are again on _terra firma_, if that name can
be given to volcanic soils, and long before noon are actively engaged in
perambulating the streets of the Sicilian capital of the _faecunda
Among the most striking peculiarities of the interior or street views,
presented to the stranger's eye at Palermo, are its very unusually