Part 8 out of 12
to go to sleep in over a novel. The old lady soon made her
appearance, with the teapot in one hand, and a plate of butter in
"Oh! thank you," said Hugh. "This is comfortable!"
She answered only by compressing her lips till her mouth vanished
altogether, and nodding her head as much as to say: "I know it is.
I intended it should be." She then poured water into the teapot,
set it down by the fire, and vanished.
Hugh sat down in the easy-chair, and resolved to be comfortable, at
least till he had had his tea; after which he would think what he
was to do next. A knock at the door -- and his landlady entered, laid
a penny newspaper on the table, and went away. This was just what
he wanted to complete his comfort. He took it up, and read while he
consumed his bread and butter. When he had had enough of tea and
newspaper, he said to himself:
"Now, what am I to do next?"
It is a happy thing for us that this is really all we have to
concern ourselves about -- what to do next. No man can do the second
thing. He can do the first. If he omits it, the wheels of the
social Juggernaut roll over him, and leave him more or less crushed
behind. If he does it, he keeps in front, and finds room to do the
next again; and so he is sure to arrive at something, for the onward
march will carry him with it. There is no saying to what perfection
of success a man may come, who begins with what he can do, and uses
the means at his hand. He makes a vortex of action, however slight,
towards which all the means instantly begin to gravitate. Let a man
but lay hold of something -- anything, and he is in the high road to
success -- though it may be very long before he can walk comfortably
in it. -- It is true the success may be measured out according to a
standard very different from his.
But in Hugh's case, the difficulty was to grasp anything -- to make a
beginning anywhere. He knew nobody; and the globe of society seemed
like a mass of adamant, on which he could not gain the slightest
hold, or make the slightest impression. Who would introduce him to
pupils? Nobody. He had the testimonials of his professors; but who
would ask to see them? -- His eye fell on the paper. He would
LETTERS FOR THE POST.
Nothing but drought and dearth, but bush and brake,
Which way soe'er I look, I see.
Some may dream merrily, but when they wake,
They dress themselves, and come to thee.
GEORGE HERBERT. -- Home.
He got his writing materials, and wrote to the effect, that a
graduate of a Scotch university was prepared to give private lessons
in the classics and mathematics, or even in any of the inferior
branches of education, &c., &c. This he would take to the Times
As soon as he had done this, Duty lifted up her head, and called
him. He obeyed, and wrote to his mother. Duty called again; and he
wrote, though with much trepidation and humiliation, to David
It was a good beginning. He had commenced his London life in doing
what he knew he ought to do. His trepidation in writing to David,
arose in part, it must be confessed, from the strange result of one
of the experiments at Arnstead.
This was his letter. But he sat and meditated a long time before he
"MY DEAR FRIEND, -- If I did not think you would forgive me, I should
feel, now that I have once allowed my mind to rest upon my conduct
to you, as if I could never hold up my head again. After much
occupation of thought and feeling with other things, a season of
silence has come, and my sins look me in the face. First of them
all is my neglect of you, to whom I owe more than to any man else,
except, perhaps, my father. Forgive me, for forgiveness' sake. You
know it takes a long time for a child to know its mother. It takes
everything as a matter of course, till suddenly one day it lifts up
its eyes, and knows that a face is looking at it. I have been like
the child towards you; but I am beginning to feel what you have been
to me. I want to be good. I am very lonely now in great noisy
London. Write to me, if you please, and comfort me. I wish I were
as good as you. Then everything would go right with me. Do not
suppose that I am in great trouble of any kind. As yet I am very
comfortable, as far as external circumstances go. But I have a kind
of aching inside me. Something is not right, and I want your help.
You will know what I mean. What am I to do? Please to remember me
in the kindest, most grateful manner to Mrs. Elginbrod and Margaret.
It is more than I deserve, but I hope they have not forgotten me as
I have seemed to forget them.
"I am, my dear Mr. Elginbrod,
"Your old friend,
I may as well insert here another letter, which arrived at
Turriepuffit, likewise addressed to David, some six weeks after the
foregoing. They were both taken to Janet, of course:
"SIR, -- I have heard from one who knows you, that you believe -- really
believe in God. That is why I write to you. It may seem very
strange in me to do so, but how can I help it? I am a very unhappy
woman, for I am in the power of a bad man. I cannot explain it all
to you, and I will not attempt it; for sometimes I almost think I am
out of my mind, and that it is all a delusion. But, alas! delusion
or not, it is a dreadful reality to me in all its consequences. It
is of such a nature that no one can help me -- but God, if there be a
God; and if you can make me believe that there is a God, I shall not
need to be persuaded that he will help me; for I will besiege him
with prayers night and day to set me free. And even if I am out of
my mind, who can help me but him? Ah! is it not when we are driven
to despair, when there is no more help anywhere, that we look around
for some power of good that can put right all that is wrong? Tell
me, dear sir, what to do. Tell me that there certainly is a God;
else I shall die raving. He said you knew about him better than
"I am, honoured Sir,
"Your obedient servant,
"Arnstead, Surrey, &c., &c."
David's answer to this letter, would have been something worth
having. But I think it would have been all summed up in one word:
Try and see: call and listen.
But what could Janet do with such letters? She did the only thing
she could: she sent them to Margaret.
Hugh found it no great hardship to go to bed in the same room in
which he sat. The bed looked peculiarly inviting; for, strange to
tell, it was actually hung with the same pattern of old-fashioned
chintz, as the bed which had been his from his earliest
recollection, till he left his father's house. How could he mistake
the trees, growing with tufts to the ground, or the great birds
which he used to think were crows, notwithstanding their red and
yellow plumage? It was all over red, brown, and yellow. He could
remember, and reconstruct the very faces, distorted and awful,
which, in the delirium of childish sicknesses, he used to discover
in the foliage and stems of the trees. It made the whole place seem
to him homely and kind. When he got tired, he knelt by his bedside,
which he had not done for a long time, and then went to bed.
Hardship! No. It was very pleasant to see the dying fire, and his
books about and his papers; and to dream, half-asleep and
half-awake, that the house-fairies were stealing out to gambol for a
little in the fire-lighted silence of the room as he slept, and to
vanish as the embers turned black. He had not been so happy for a
long time as now. The writing of that letter had removed a load
from his heart. True, we can never be at peace till we have
performed the highest duty of all -- till we have arisen, and gone to
our Father; but the performance of smaller duties, yes, even of the
smallest, will do more to give us temporary repose, will act more as
healthful anodynes, than the greatest joys that can come to us from
any other quarter. He soon fell asleep, and dreamed that he was a
little child lost in a snow-storm; and that just as the snow had
reached above his head, and he was beginning to be smothered, a
great hand caught hold of him by the arm and lifted him out; and,
lo! the storm had ceased, and the stars were sparkling overhead like
diamonds that had been drinking the light of the sun all day; and he
saw that it was David, as strong as ever, who had rescued him, the
little child, and was leading him home to Janet. But he got sleepy
and faint upon the way, which was long and cold; and then David
lifted him up and carried him in his bosom, and he fell asleep.
When he woke, and, opening his eyes, looked up to him who bore him,
it was David no longer. The face was that which was marred more
than any man's, because the soul within had loved more; it was the
face of the Son of Man, and he was carrying him like a lamb in his
bosom. He gazed more and more as they travelled through the cold
night; and the joy of lying in the embrace of that man, grew and
grew, till it became too strong for the bonds of sleep; and he awoke
in the fog of a London morning.
And, even should misfortunes come,
-- I, here wha sit, hae met wi' some,
An's thankfu' for them yet.
They gie the wit of age to youth;
They let us ken oursel';
They mak' us see the naked truth,
The real guid and ill.
Tho' losses, and crosses,
Be lessons right severe,
There's wit there, ye'll get there,
Ye'll find nae other where.
Hugh took his advertisement to the Times office, and paid what
seemed to him an awful amount for its insertion. Then he wandered
about London till the middle of the day, when he went into a baker's
shop, and bought two penny loaves, which he put in his pocket.
Having found his way to the British Museum, he devoured them at his
leisure as he walked through the Grecian and Roman saloons. "What is
the use of good health," he said to himself, "if a man cannot live
upon bread?" Porridge and oatmeal cakes would have pleased him as
well; but that food for horses is not so easily procured in London,
and costs more than the other. A cousin of his had lived in
Edinburgh for six months upon eighteen-pence a week in that way, and
had slept the greater part of the time upon the floor, training
himself for the hardships of a soldier's life. And he could not
forget the college youth whom his comrades had considered mean, till
they learned that, out of his poor bursary of fourteen pounds a
session, and what he could make besides by private teaching at the
rate previously mentioned or even less, he helped his parents to
educate a younger brother; and, in order to do so, lived himself
upon oatmeal and potatoes. But they did not find this out till
after he was dead, poor fellow! He could not stand it.
I ought at the same time to mention, that Hugh rarely made use of a
crossing on a muddy day, without finding a half-penny somewhere
about him for the sweeper. He would rather walk through oceans of
mud, than cross at the natural place when he had no
coppers -- especially if he had patent leather boots on.
After he had eaten his bread, he went home to get some water. Then,
as he had nothing else to do, he sat down in his room, and began to
manufacture a story, thinking it just possible it might be accepted
by one or other of the pseudo-literary publications with which
London is inundated in hebdomadal floods. He found spinning almost
as easy as if he had been a spider, for he had a ready invention,
and a natural gift of speech; so that, in a few days, he had
finished a story, quite as good as most of those that appear in the
better sort of weekly publications. This, in his modesty, he sent
to one of the inferior sort, and heard nothing more of it than if he
had flung it into the sea. Possibly he flew too low. He tried
again, but with no better success. His ambition grew with his
disappointments, or perhaps rather with the exercise of his
faculties. Before many days had passed he made up his mind to try a
novel. For three months he worked at this six hours a day
regularly. When material failed him, from the exhaustion consequent
upon uninterrupted production, he would recreate himself by lying
fallow for an hour or two, or walking out in a mood for merely
passive observation. But this anticipates.
His advertisement did not produce a single inquiry, and he shrunk
from spending more money in such an apparently unprofitable
appliance. Day after day went by, and no voice reached him from the
unknown world of labour. He went at last to several stationers'
shops in the neighbourhood, bought some necessary articles, and took
these opportunities of asking if they knew of any one in want of
such assistance as he could give. But unpleasant as he felt it to
make such inquiries, he soon found that to most people it was
equally unpleasant to reply to them. There seemed to be something
disreputable in having to answer such questions, to judge from the
constrained, indifferent, and sometimes, though not often, surly
answers which he received. "Can it be," thought Hugh, "as
disgraceful to ask for work as to ask for bread?" If he had had a
thousand a year, and had wanted a situation of another thousand, it
would have been quite commendable; but to try to elude cold and
hunger by inquiring after paltry shillings' worths of hard labour,
So he placed the more hope upon his novel, and worked at that
diligently. But he did not find it quite so easy as he had at first
expected. No one finds anything either so easy or so difficult as,
in opposite moods, he had expected to find it. Everything is
possible; but without labour and failure nothing is achievable. The
labour, however, comes naturally, and experience grows without
agonizing transitions; while the failure generally points, in its
detected cause, to the way of future success. He worked on.
He did not, however, forget the ring. Frequent were his
meditations, in the pauses of his story, and when walking in the
streets, as to the best means of recovering it. I should rather say
any means than best; for it was not yet a question of choice and
degrees. The count could not but have known that the ring was of no
money value; therefore it was not likely that he had stolen it in
order to part with it again. Consequently it would be of no use to
advertise it, or to search for it in the pawnbrokers' or second-hand
jewellers' shops. To find the crystal, it was clear as itself that
he must first find the count.
But how? -- He could think of no plan. Any alarm would place the
count on the defensive, and the jewel at once beyond reach.
Besides, he wished to keep the whole matter quiet, and gain his
object without his or any other name coming before the public.
Therefore he would not venture to apply to the police, though
doubtless they would be able to discover the man, if he were
anywhere in London. He surmised that in all probability they knew
him already. But he could not come to any conclusion as to the
object he must have had in view in securing such a trifle.
Hugh had all but forgotten the count's cheque for a hundred guineas;
for, in the first place, he had never intended presenting it -- the
repugnance which some minds feel to using money which they have
neither received by gift nor acquired by honest earning, being at
least equal to the pleasure other minds feel in gaining it without
the expense of either labour or obligation; and in the second place,
since he knew more about the drawer, he had felt sure that it would
be of no use to present it. To make this latter conviction a
certainty, he did present it, and found that there were no effects.
A LETTER FROM THE POST.
Hipolito. Is your wife then departed?
Orlando. She's an old dweller in those high countries, yet not
from me: here, she's here; a good couple are seldom parted. -- DEKKER.
What wonderful things letters are! In trembling and hope the
fingers unclasp, and the folded sheet drops into -- no, not the
post-office letter-box -- but into space.
I have read a story somewhere of a poor child that dropped a letter
into the post-office, addressed to Jesus Christ in Heaven. And it
reached him, and the child had her answer. For was it not Christ
present in the good man or woman -- I forget the particulars of the
story -- who sent the child the help she needed? There was no
necessity for him to answer in person, as in the case of Abgarus,
king of Edessa.
Out of space from somewhere comes the answer. Such letters as those
given in a previous chapter, are each a spirit-cry sent out, like a
Noah's dove, into the abyss; and the spirit turns its ear, where its
mouth had been turned before, and leans listening for the
spirit-echo -- the echo with a soul in it -- the answering voice which
out of the abyss will enter by the gate now turned to receive it.
Whose will be the voice? What will be the sense? What chords on
the harp of life have been struck afar off by the arrow-words of the
letter? What tones will they send back to the longing, hungering
ear? The mouth hath spoken, that the fainting ear may be filled by
the return of its words through the alembic of another soul.
One cause of great uneasiness to Hugh was, that, for some time after
a reply might have been expected, he received no answer from David
Elginbrod. At length, however, a letter arrived, upon the
hand-writing of which he speculated in vain, perplexed with a
resemblance in it to some writing that he knew; and when he opened
it, he found the following answer to his own:
"DEAR MR. SUTHERLAND, -- Your letter to my father has been sent to me
by my mother, for what you will feel to be the sad reason, that he
is no more in this world. But I cannot say it is so very sad to me
to think that he is gone home, where my mother and I will soon join
him. True love can wait well. Nor indeed, dear Mr. Sutherland,
must you be too much troubled that your letter never reached him.
My father was like God in this, that he always forgave anything the
moment there was anything to forgive; for when else could there be
such a good time? -- although, of course, the person forgiven could
not know it till he asked for forgiveness. But, dear Mr.
Sutherland, if you could see me smiling as I write, and could yet
see how earnest my heart is in writing it, I would venture to say
that, in virtue of my knowing my father as I do -- for I am sure I
know his very soul, as near as human love could know it -- I forgive
you, in his name, for anything and everything with which you
reproach yourself in regard to him. Ah! how much I owe you! And
how much he used to say he owed you! We shall thank you one day,
when we all meet.
"I am, dear Mr. Sutherland,
"Your grateful scholar,
Hugh burst into tears on reading this letter, -- with no overpowering
sense of his own sin, for he felt that he was forgiven; but with a
sudden insight into the beauty and grandeur of the man whom he had
neglected, and the wondrous loveliness which he had transmitted from
the feminine part of his nature to the wholly feminine and therefore
delicately powerful nature of Margaret. The vision he had beheld in
the library at Arnstead, about which, as well as about many other
things that had happened to him there, he could form no theory
capable of embracing all the facts -- this vision returned to his
mind's eye, and he felt that the glorified face he had beheld must
surely have been Margaret's, whether he had seen it in the body or
out of the body: such a face alone seemed to him worthy of the
writer of this letter. Purposely or not, there was no address given
in it; and to his surprise, when he examined the envelope with the
utmost care, he could discover no postmark but the London one. The
date-stamp likewise showed that it must have been posted in London.
"So," said he to himself, "in my quest of a devil, I may cross the
track of an angel, who knows? But how can she be here?"
To this of course he had no answer at hand.
Since a man is bound no farther to himself than to do wisely, chance
is only to trouble them that stand upon chance -- SIR PHILIP
SIDNEY. -- The Arcadia.
Meantime a feeble star, but sparkling some rays of comfort, began to
shine upon Hugh's wintry prospects. The star arose in a grocer's
shop. For one day his landlady, whose grim attentions had been
increasing rather than diminishing, addressed him suddenly as she
was removing his breakfast apparatus. This was a very extraordinary
event, for she seldom addressed him it all; and replied, when he
addressed her, only in the briefest manner possible.
"Have you got any pupils yet, Mr. Sutherland?"
"No -- I am sorry to say. But how did you come to know I wanted any,
"You shouldn't have secrets at home, Mr. Sutherland. I like to know
what concerns my own family, and I generally find out."
"You saw my advertisement, perhaps?"
To this suggestion Miss Talbot made no other answer than the usual
compression of her lips.
"You wouldn't be above teaching a tradesman's son to begin with?"
"Certainly not. I should be very happy. Do you know of such a
"Well, I can't exactly say I do know or I don't know; but I happened
to mention to my grocer round the corner that you wanted pupils.
Don't suppose, Mr. Sutherland, that I'm in the way of talking about
any young men of mine; but it -- "
"Not for a moment," interrupted Hugh; and Miss Talbot resumed,
"Well, if you wouldn't mind stepping round the corner, I shouldn't
wonder if you might make an arrangement with Mr. Appleditch. He
said you might call upon him if you liked."
Hugh jumped up, and got his hat at once; received the few necessary
directions from Miss Talbot, and soon found the shop. There were a
good many poor people in it, buying sugar, and soap, &c.; and one
lady apparently giving a large order. A young man came to Hugh, and
bent over the counter in a recipient position, like a live point of
interrogation. Hugh answered --
"Mr. Appleditch will be disengaged in a few minutes. Will you take
The grocer was occupied with the lady and her order; but as soon as
she departed, he approached Hugh behind the rampart, and stood
towards him in the usual retail attitude.
"My name is Sutherland."
"Sutherland?" said Mr. Appleditch; "I think I've 'eard the name
somewheres, but I don't know the face."
"Miss Talbot mentioned me to you, I understand, Mr. Appleditch."
"Oh! ah! I remember. I beg your pardon. Will you step this way,
Hugh followed him through a sort of draw-bridge which he lifted in
the counter, into a little appendix at the back of the shop. Mr.
Appleditch was a meek-looking man, with large eyes, plump pasty
cheeks, and a thin little person.
"'Ow de do, Mr. Sutherland?" said he, holding out his hand, as soon
as they had reached this retreat.
"Thank you -- quite well;" answered Sutherland, shaking hands with him
as well as he could, the contact not being altogether pleasant.
"So you want pupils, do you, sir?"
"Ah! well you see, sir, pupils is scarce at this season. They ain't
to be bought in every shop -- ha! ha!" (The laugh was very mild.) "But
I think Mrs. Appleditch could find you one, if you could agree with
her about the charge, you know, and all that."
"How old is he? A boy, I suppose?"
"Well, you're right, sir. It is a boy. Not very old, though. My
Samuel is just ten, but a wonderful forward boy for his years -- bless
"And what would you wish him to learn?"
"Oh! Latin and Greek, and all that. We intend bringing him up for
the ministry. -- I hope your opinions are decided, sir?"
"On some points, they are. But I do not know to what you refer,
"I mean theological opinions, sir."
"But I shall not have to teach your little boy theology."
"Certainly not, sir. That department belongs to his mother and I.
Unworthy vessels, sir; mere earthen vessels; but filled with the
grace of God, I hope, sir."
The grocer parted his hands, which he had been rubbing together
during this conversation, and lifted them upwards from the wrists,
like the fins of a seal; then, dropping them, fell to rubbing them
"I hope so. Well -- you know the best way will be for me -- not knowing
your opinions -- to avoid everything of a religious kind."
"Ah! but it should be line upon line, you know; here a little, and
there a little, sir. As the bow is bent, you know -- the -- hoop is
made, you know, sir."
Here Mr. Appleditch stepped to the door suddenly, and peeped out, as
if he feared he was wanted; but presently returning, he continued:
"But time's a precious gift, sir, and we must not waste it. So, if
you'll do us the honour, sir, to dine with us next Lord's day -- we
may call it a work of necessity, you know -- you will see the little
Samuel, and -- and -- Mrs. Appleditch."
"I shall be very happy. What is your address, Mr. Appleditch?"
"You had better come to Salem Chapel, Dervish town, and we can go
home together. Service commences at eleven. Mrs. Appleditch will
be glad to see you. Ask for Mr. Appleditch's pew. Goo-ood morning,
Hugh took his leave, half inclined to send an excuse before the day
arrived, and decline the connection. But his principle was, to take
whatever offered, and thus make way for the next thing. Besides, he
thus avoided the responsibility of choice, from which he always
He returned to his novel; but, alas! the inventive faculty
point-blank refused to work under the weight of such a Sunday in
prospect. He wandered out, quite dispirited; but, before long, to
take his revenge upon circumstances, resolved at least to have a
dinner out of them. So he went to a chop house, had a chop and a
glass of ale, and was astonished to find how much he enjoyed them.
In fact, abstinence gave his very plain dinner more than all the
charms of a feast -- a fact of which Hugh has not been the only
discoverer. He studied Punch all the time he ate, and rose with his
spirits perfectly restored.
"Now I am in for it," said he, "I will be extravagant for once." So
he went and bought a cigar, which he spun out into three miles of
smoke, as he wandered through Shoreditch, and Houndsditch, and
Petticoat-lane, gazing at the faces of his brothers and sisters;
which faces having been so many years wrapt in a fog both moral and
physical, now looked out of it as if they were only the condensed
nuclei of the same fog and filth.
As he was returning through Whitechapel, he passed a man on the
pavement, whose appearance was so remarkable that he could not help
looking back after him. When he reflected about it, he thought that
it must have been a certain indescribable resemblance to David
Elginbrod that had so attracted him. The man was very tall.
Six-foot. Hugh felt dwarfed beside him; for he had to look right
up, as he passed, to see his face. He was dressed in loose, shabby
black. He had high and otherwise very marked features, and a dark
complexion. A general carelessness of demeanour was strangely
combined with an expression of reposeful strength and quiet
concentration of will. At how much of this conclusion Hugh arrived
after knowing more of him, I cannot tell; but such was the
description he gave of him as he saw him first: and it was
thoroughly correct. His countenance always seemed to me (for I knew
him well) to represent a nature ever bent in one direction, but
never in haste, because never in doubt.
To carry his extravagance and dissipation still further, Hugh now
betook himself to the pit of the Olympic Theatre; and no one could
have laughed more heartily, or cried more helplessly, that night,
than he; for he gave himself wholly up to the influences of the
ruler of the hour, the admirable Robson. But what was his surprise
when, standing up at the close of the first act, and looking around
and above him, he saw, unmistakeably, the same remarkable
countenance looking down upon him from the front row of the gallery.
He continued his circuit of observation, trying to discover the
face of Funkelstein in the boxes or circles; but involuntarily he
turned his gaze back to the strange countenance, which still seemed
bent towards his. The curtain rose, and during the second act he
forgot all about everything else. At its close he glanced up to the
gallery again, and there was the face still, and still looking at
him. At the close of the third act it had vanished, and he saw
nothing more of it that evening. When the after-piece was over, for
he sat it out, he walked quietly home, much refreshed. He had
needed some relaxation, after many days of close and continuous
But awfully solemn was the face of good Miss Talbot, as she opened
the door for him at midnight. Hugh took especial pains with his
boots and the door-mat, but it was of no use: the austerity of her
countenance would not relax in the least. So he took his candle and
walked up-stairs to his room, saying only as he went -- being unable
to think of anything else:
"Good night, Miss Talbot."
But no response proceeded from the offended divinity of the place.
He went to bed, somewhat distressed at the behaviour of Miss Talbot,
for he had a weakness for being on good terms with everybody. But
he resolved to have it out with her next morning; and so fell asleep
and dreamed of the strange man who had watched him at the theatre.
He rose next morning at the usual time. But his breakfast was
delayed half an hour; and when it came, the maid waited upon him,
and not her mistress, as usual. When he had finished, and she
returned to take away the ruins, he asked her to say to her mistress
that he wanted to speak to her. She brought back a message, which
she delivered with some difficulty, and evidently under
compulsion -- that if Mr. Sutherland wanted to speak to her, he would
find her in the back parlour. Hugh went down instantly, and found
Miss Talbot in a doubly frozen condition, her face absolutely blue
with physical and mental cold combined. She waited for him to
speak. Hugh began:
"Miss Talbot, it seems something is wrong between you and me."
"Yes, Mr. Sutherland."
"Is it because I was rather late last night."
"Rather late, Mr. Sutherland?"
Miss Talbot showed no excitement. With her, the thermometer, in
place of rising under the influence of irritation, steadily sank.
"I cannot make myself a prisoner on parole, you know, Miss Talbot.
You must leave me my liberty."
"Oh, yes, Mr. Sutherland. Take your liberty. You'll go the way of
all the rest. It's no use trying to save any of you."
"But I'm not aware that I am in any particular want of saving, Miss
"There it is! -- Well, till a sinner is called and awakened, of course
it's no use. So I'll just do the best I can for you. Who can tell
when the Spirit may be poured from on high? But it's very sad to
me, Mr. Sutherland, to see an amiable young man like you going the
way of transgressors, which is hard. I am sorry for you, Mr.
Though the ice was not gone yet, it had begun to melt under the
influences of Hugh's good-temper, and Miss Talbot's sympathy with
his threatening fate. Conscience, too, had something to do with the
change; for, much as one of her temperament must have disliked
making such a confession, she ended by adding, after a pause:
"And very sorry, Mr. Sutherland, that I showed you any bad temper
Poor Miss Talbot! Hugh saw that she was genuinely troubled about
him, and resolved to offend but seldom, while he was under her roof.
"Perhaps, when you know me longer, you will find I am steadier than
"Well, it may be. But steadiness won't make a Christian of you."
"It may make a tolerable lodger of me, though," answered Hugh; "and
you wouldn't turn me into the street because I am steady and nothing
more, would you?"
"I said I was sorry, Mr. Sutherland. Do you wish me to say more?"
"Bless your kind heart!" said Hugh. "I was only joking."
He held out his hand to Miss Talbot, and her eyes glistened as she
took it. She pressed it kindly, and abandoned it instantly.
So all was right between them once more.
"Who knows," murmured Miss Talbot, "but the Lord may save him? He's
surely not far from the kingdom of heaven. I'll do all I can to
make him comfortable."
A SUNDAY'S DINNER.
Some books are lies frae end to end,
And some great lies were never penned:
Even ministers, they hae been kenned,
In holy rapture,
Great lies and nonsense baith to vend,
And nail't wi' Scripture.
To the great discomposure of Hugh, Sunday was inevitable, and he had
to set out for Salem Chapel. He found it a neat little Noah's Ark
of a place, built in the shape of a cathedral, and consequently
sharing in the general disadvantages to which dwarfs of all kinds
are subjected, absurdity included. He was shown to Mr. Appleditch's
pew. That worthy man received him in sleek black clothes, with
white neck-cloth, and Sunday face composed of an absurd mixture of
stupidity and sanctity. He stood up, and Mrs. Appleditch stood up,
and Master Appleditch stood up, and Hugh saw that the ceremony of
the place required that he should force his way between the front of
the pew and the person of each of the human beings occupying it,
till he reached the top, where there was room for him to sit down.
No other recognition was taken till after service.
Meantime the minister ascended the pulpit stair, with all the
solemnity of one of the self-elect, and a priest besides. He was
just old enough for the intermittent attacks of self-importance to
which all youth is exposed, to have in his case become chronic. He
stood up and worshipped his creator aloud, after a manner which
seemed to say in every tone: "Behold I am he that worshippeth Thee!
How mighty art Thou!" Then he read the Bible in a quarrelsome sort
of way, as if he were a bantam, and every verse were a crow of
defiance to the sinner. Then they sang a hymn in a fashion which
brought dear old Scotland to Hugh's mind, which has the sweetest
songs in its cottages, and the worst singing in its churches, of any
country in the world. But it was almost equalled here; the chief
cause of its badness being the absence of a modest self-restraint,
and consequent tempering of the tones, on the part of the singers;
so that the result was what Hugh could describe only as scraichin.1
I was once present at the worship of some being who is supposed by
negroes to love drums and cymbals, and all clangorous noises. The
resemblance, according to Hugh's description, could not have been a
very distant one. And yet I doubt not that some thoughts of
worshipping love mingled with the noise; and perhaps the harmony of
these with the spheric melodies, sounded the sweeter to the angels,
from the earthly discord in which they were lapped.
Then came the sermon. The text was the story of the good Samaritan.
Some idea, if not of the sermon, yet of the value of it, may be
formed from the fact, that the first thing to be considered, or, in
other words, the first head was, "The culpable imprudence of the man
in going from Jerusalem to Jericho without an escort."
It was in truth a strange, grotesque, and somewhat awful medley -- not
unlike a dance of death, in which the painter has given here a
lovely face, and there a beautiful arm or an exquisite foot, to the
wild-prancing and exultant skeletons. But the parts of the sermon
corresponding to the beautiful face or arm or foot, were but the
fragments of Scripture, shining like gold amidst the worthless ore
of the man's own production -- worthless, save as gravel or chaff or
husks have worth, in a world where dilution, and not always
concentration, is necessary for healthfulness.
But there are Indians who eat clay, and thrive on it more or less, I
suppose. The power of assimilation which a growing nature must
possess is astonishing. It will find its food, its real Sunday
dinner, in the midst of a whole cartload of refuse; and it will do
the whole week's work on it. On no other supposition would it be
possible to account for the earnest face of Miss Talbot, which Hugh
espied turned up to the preacher, as if his face were the very star
in the east, shining to guide the chosen kings. It was well for
Hugh's power of endurance, that he had heard much the same thing in
Scotland, and the same thing better dressed, and less grotesque, but
more lifeless, and at heart as ill-mannered, in the church of
Just before concluding the service, the pastor made an announcement
in the following terms: "After the close of the present service, I
shall be found in the adjoining vestry by all persons desirous of
communicating with me on the state of their souls, or of being
admitted to the privileges of church-fellowship. Brethren, we have
this treasure in earthen vessels, and so long as this vessel
lasts" -- here he struck his chest so that it resounded -- "it shall be
faithfully and liberally dispensed. Let us pray."
After the prayer, he spread abroad his arms and hands as if he would
clasp the world in his embrace, and pronounced the benediction in a
style of arrogance that the pope himself would have been ashamed of.
The service being thus concluded, the organ absolutely blasted the
congregation out of the chapel, so did it storm and rave with a
fervour anything but divine.
My readers must not suppose that I give this chapel as the type of
orthodox dissenting chapels. I give it only as an approximate
specimen of a large class of them. The religious life which these
communities once possessed, still lingers in those of many country
districts and small towns, but is, I fear, all but gone from those
of the cities and larger towns. What of it remains in these, has
its chief manifestation in the fungous growth of such chapels as the
one I have described, the congregations themselves taking this for a
sure indication of the prosperity of the body. How much even of the
kind of prosperity which they ought to indicate, is in reality at
the foundation of these appearances, I would recommend those to
judge who are versed in the mysteries of chapel-building societies.
As to Hugh, whether it was that the whole was suggestive of Egyptian
bondage, or that his own mood was, at the time, of the least
comfortable sort, I will not pretend to determine; but he assured me
that he felt all the time, as if, instead of being in a chapel built
of bricks harmoniously arranged, as by the lyre of Amphion, he were
wandering in the waste, wretched field whence these bricks had been
dug, of all places on the earth's surface the most miserable,
assailed by the nauseous odours, which have not character enough to
be described, and only remind one of the colours on a snake's back.
When they reached the open air, Mr. Appleditch introduced Hugh to
Mrs. Appleditch, on the steps in front of the chapel.
"This is Mr. Sutherland, Mrs. Appleditch."
Hugh lifted his hat, and Mrs. Appleditch made a courtesy. She was a
very tall woman -- a head beyond her husband, extremely thin, with
sharp nose, hollow cheeks, and good eyes. In fact, she was partly
pretty, and might have been pleasant-looking, but for a large,
thin-lipped, vampire-like mouth, and a general expression of greed
and contempt. She was meant for a lady, and had made herself a
money-maggot. She was richly and plainly dressed; and until she
began to be at her ease, might have passed for an unpleasant lady.
Master Appleditch, the future pastor, was a fat boy, dressed like a
dwarf, in a frock coat and man's hat, with a face in which the
meanness and keenness strove for mastery, and between them kept down
the appearance of stupidity consequent on fatness. They walked home
in silence, Mr. and Mrs. Appleditch apparently pondering either upon
the spiritual food they had just received, or the corporeal food for
which they were about to be thankful.
Their house was one of many in a crescent. Not content with his
sign in town, the grocer had a large brass plate on his door, with
Appleditch engraved upon it in capitals: it saved them always
looking at the numbers. The boy ran on before, and assailed this
door with a succession of explosive knocks.
As soon as it was opened, in he rushed, bawling:
"Peter, Peter, here's the new apprentice! Papa's brought him home
to dinner, because he was at chapel this morning." Then in a lower
tone -- "I mean to have a ride on his back this afternoon."
The father and mother laughed. A solemn priggish little voice
"Oh, no, Johnny. Don't you know what day this is? This is the
"The dear boy!" sighed his mother.
"That boy is too good to live," responded the father.
Hugh was shown into the dining-room, where the table was already
laid for dinner. It was evident that the Appleditches were
well-to-do people. The room was full of what is called handsome
furniture, in a high state of polish. Over the chimney-piece hung
the portrait of a preacher in gown and bands, the most prominent of
whose features were his cheeks.
In a few minutes the host and hostess entered, followed by a
pale-faced little boy, the owner of the voice of reproof.
"Come here, Peetie," said his mother, "and tell Mr. Sutherland what
you have got." She referred to some toy -- no, not toy, for it was
the Sabbath -- to some book, probably.
Peetie answered in a solemn voice, mouthing every vowel:
"I've got five bags of gold in the Bank of England."
"Poor child!" said his mother, with a scornful giggle. "You wouldn't
have much to reckon on, if that were all."
Two or three gaily dressed riflemen passed the window. The poor
fellows, unable to bear the look of their Sunday clothes, if they
had any, after being used to their uniform, had come out in all its
"Ah!" said Mr. Appleditch, "that's all very well in a state of
nature; but when a man is once born into a state of grace, Mr.
Sutherland -- ah!"
"Really," responded Mrs. Appleditch, "the worldliness of the lower
classes is quite awful. But they are spared for a day of wrath,
poor things! I am sure that accident on the railway last Sabbath,
might have been a warning to them all. After that they can't say
there is not a God that ruleth in the earth, and taketh vengeance
for his broken Sabbaths."
"Mr. -- . I don't know your name," said Peter, whose age Hugh had
just been trying in vain to conjecture.
"Mr. Sutherland," said the mother.
"Mr. Slubberman, are you a converted character?" resumed Peter.
"Why do you ask me that, Master Peter?" said Hugh, trying to smile.
"I think you look good, but mamma says she don't think you are,
because you say Sunday instead of Sabbath, and she always finds
people who do are worldly."
Mrs. Appleditch turned red -- not blushed, and said, quickly:
"Peter shouldn't repeat everything he hears."
"No more I do, ma. I haven't told what you said about -- " Here his
mother caught him up, and carried him out of the room, saying:
"You naughty boy! You shall go to bed."
"Oh, no, I shan't!"
"Yes, you shall. Here, Jane, take this naughty boy to bed."
"Yes, I will!"
And such a yell was there
Of sudden and portentous birth,
ten cats were being cooked alive.
"Well! well! well! my Peetie! He shan't go to bed, if he'll be a
good boy. Will he be good?"
"May I stay up to supper, then? May I?"
"Yes, yes; anything to stop such dreadful screaming. You are very
naughty -- very naughty indeed."
"No. I'm not naughty. I'll scream again."
"No, no. Go and get your pinafore on, and come down to dinner.
Anything rather than a scream."
I am sick of all this, and doubt if it is worth printing; but it
amused me very much one night as Hugh related it over a bottle of
Chablis and a pipe.
He certainly did not represent Mrs. Appleditch in a very favourable
light on the whole; but he took care to say that there was a certain
liberality about the table, and a kind of heartiness in her way of
pressing him to have more than he could possibly eat, which
contrasted strangely with her behaviour afterwards in money matters.
There are many people who can be liberal in almost anything but
money. They seem to say, "Take anything but my purse." Miss Talbot
told him afterwards, that this same lady was quite active amongst
the poor of her district. She made it a rule never to give money,
or at least never more than sixpence; but she turned scraps of
victuals and cast-off clothes to the best account; and, if she did
not make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, she yet kept an
eye on the eternal habitations in the distribution of the crumbs
that fell from her table. Poor Mr. Appleditch, on the other hand,
often embezzled a shilling or a half-crown from the till, for the
use of a poor member of the same church -- meaning by church, the
individual community to which he belonged; but of this, Mrs.
Appleditch was carefully kept ignorant.
After dinner was over, and the children had been sent away, which
was effected without a greater amount of difficulty than, from the
anticipative precautions adopted, appeared to be lawful and
ordinary, Mr. Appleditch proceeded to business.
"Now, Mr. Sutherland, what do you think of Johnnie, sir?"
"It is impossible for me to say yet; but I am quite willing to teach
him if you like."
"He's a forward boy," said his mother.
"Not a doubt of it," responded Hugh; for he remembered the boy
asking him, across the table: "Isn't our Mr. Lixom" -- (the
pastor) -- "a oner?"
"And very eager and retentive," said his father.
Hugh had seen the little glutton paint both cheeks to the eyes with
damson tart, and render more than a quantity proportionate to the
"Yes, he is eager, and retentive, too, I daresay," he said; "but
much will depend on whether he has a turn for study."
"Well, you will find that out to-morrow. I think you will be
"At what hour would you like me to come?"
"Stop, Mr. Appleditch," interposed his wife. "You have said nothing
yet about terms; and that is of some importance, considering the
rent and taxes we pay."
"Well, my love, what do you feel inclined to give?"
"How much do you charge a lesson, Mr. Sutherland? Only let me
remind you, sir, that he is a very little boy, although stout, and
that you cannot expect to put much Greek and Latin into him for some
time yet. Besides, we want you to come every day, which ought to be
considered in the rate of charge."
"Of course it ought," said Hugh.
"How much do you say, then, sir?"
"I should be content with half-a-crown a lesson."
"I daresay you would!" replied the lady, with indignation.
"Half-a-crown! That's -- six half-crowns is--fifteen shillings.
Fifteen shillings a week for that mite of a boy! Mr. Sutherland,
you ought to be ashamed of yourself, sir."
"You forget, Mrs. Appleditch, that it is as much trouble to me to
teach one little boy -- yes, a great deal more than to teach twenty
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, sir. You a Christian man, and
talk of trouble in teaching such a little cherub as that?"
"But do pray remember the distance I have to come, and that it will
take nearly four hours of my time every day."
"Then you can get lodgings nearer."
"But I could not get any so cheap."
"Then you can the better afford to do it."
And she threw herself back in her chair, as if she had struck the
decisive blow. Mr. Appleditch remarked, gently:
"It is good for your health to walk the distance, sir."
Mrs. Appleditch resumed:
"I won't give a farthing more than one shilling a lesson. There,
"Very well," said Hugh, rising; "then I must wish you good day. We
need not waste more time in talking about it."
"Surely you are not going to make any use of your time on a Sunday?"
said the grocer, mildly. "Don't be in a hurry, Mr. Sutherland. We
tradespeople like to make the best bargain we can."
"Mr. Appleditch, I am ashamed of you. You always will be vulgar.
You always smell of the shop."
"Well, my dear, how can I help it? The sugar and soft-soap will
smell, you know."
"Mr. Appleditch, you disgust me!"
"Dear! dear! I am sorry for that. -- Suppose we say to Mr.
Sutherland -- "
"Now, you leave that to me. I'll tell you what, Mr.
Sutherland -- I'll give you eighteenpence a lesson, and your dinner on
the Sabbath; that is, if you sit under Mr. Lixom in our pew, and
walk home with us."
"That I must decline" said Hugh. "I must have my Sundays for
Mrs. Appleditch was disappointed. She had coveted the additional
importance which the visible possession of a live tutor would secure
her at "Salem."
"Ah! Mr. Sutherland," she said. "And I must trust my child, with an
immortal soul in his inside, to one who wants the Lord's only day
for himself! -- for himself, Mr. Sutherland!"
Hugh made no answer, because he had none to make. Again Mrs.
"Shall it be a bargain, Mr. Sutherland? Eighteen-pence a
lesson -- that's nine shillings a week -- and begin to morrow?"
Hugh's heart sunk within him, not so much with disappointment as
But to a man who is making nothing, the prospect of earning ever so
little, is irresistibly attractive. Even on a shilling a day, he
could keep hunger at arm's length. And a beginning is half the
battle. He resolved.
"Let it be a bargain, then, Mrs. Appleditch."
The lady immediately brightened up, and at once put on her
company-manners again, behaving to him with great politeness, and a
sneer that would not be hid away under it. From this Hugh suspected
that she had made a better bargain than she had hoped; but the
discovery was now too late, even if he could have brought himself to
take advantage of it. He hated bargain-making as heartily as the
grocer's wife loved it.
He very soon rose to take his leave.
"Oh!" said Mrs. Appleditch to her husband, "but Mr. Sutherland has
not seen the drawing-room!"
Hugh wondered what there could be remarkable about the drawing-room;
but he soon found that it was the pride of Mrs. Appleditch's heart.
She abstained from all use of it except upon great occasions -- when
parties of her friends came to drink tea with her. She made a
point, however, of showing it to everybody who entered the house for
the first time. So Hugh was led up-stairs, to undergo the operation
of being shown the drawing-room, and being expected to be astonished
I asked him what it was like. He answered: "It was just what it
ought to be -- rich and ugly. Mr. Appleditch, in his deacon's
uniform, hung over the fire, and Mrs. Appleditch, in her
wedding-dress, over the piano; for there was a piano, and she could
play psalm-tunes on it with one finger. The round table in the
middle of the room had books in gilded red and blue covers
symmetrically arranged all round it. This is all I can recollect."
Having feasted his eyes on the magnificence thus discovered to him,
he walked home, more depressed at the prospect of his new employment
than he could have believed possible.
On his way he turned aside into the Regent's Park, where the sight
of the people enjoying themselves -- for it was a fine day for the
season -- partially dispelled the sense of living corruption and
premature burial which he had experienced all day long. He kept as
far off from the rank of open-air preachers as possible, and really
was able to thank God that all the world did not keep Scotch
Sabbath -- a day neither Mosaic, nor Jewish, nor Christian: not
Mosaic, inasmuch as it kills the very essence of the fourth
commandment, which is Rest, transmuting it into what the chemists
would call a mechanical mixture of service and inertia; not Jewish,
inasmuch as it is ten times more severe, and formal, and full of
negations, than that of the Sabbatarian Jews reproved by the Saviour
for their idolatry of the day; and unchristian, inasmuch as it
insists, beyond appeal, on the observance of times and seasons,
abolished, as far as law is concerned, by the word of the chief of
the apostles; and elevates into an especial test of piety a custom
not even mentioned by the founders of christianity at all -- that,
namely, of accounting this day more holy than all the rest.
These last are but outside reasons for calling it unchristian.
There are far deeper and more important ones, which cannot well be
It is not Hugh, however, who is to be considered accountable for all
this, but the historian of his fortunes, between whom and the vision
of a Lord's Day indeed, there arises too often the nightmare-memory
of a Scotch Saabbath -- between which and its cousin, the English
Sunday, there is too much of a family likeness. The grand men and
women whom I have known in Scotland, seem to me, as I look back, to
move about in the mists of a Scotch Sabbath, like a company of
way-worn angels in the Limbo of Vanity, in which there is no air
whereupon to smite their sounding wings, that they may rise into the
sunlight of God's presence.
Now resteth in my memory but this point, which indeed is the chief
to you of all others; which is the choice of what men you are to
direct yourself to; for it is certain no vessel can leave a worse
taste in the liquor it contains, than a wrong teacher infects an
unskilful hearer with that which hardly will ever out... But you may
say, "How shall I get excellent men to take pains to speak with me?"
Truly, in few words, either by much expense or much humbleness.
Letter of Sir Philip Sidney to his brother Robert.
How many things which, at the first moment, strike us as curious
coincidences, afterwards become so operative on our lives, and so
interwoven with the whole web of their histories, that instead of
appearing any more as strange accidents, they assume the shape of
unavoidable necessities, of homely, ordinary, lawful occurrences, as
much in their own place as any shaft or pinion of a great machine!
It was dusk before Hugh turned his steps homeward. He wandered
along, thinking of Euphra and the Count and the stolen rings. He
greatly desired to clear himself to Mr. Arnold. He saw that the
nature of the ring tended to justify Mr. Arnold's suspicions; for a
man who would not steal for money's worth, might yet steal for value
of another sort, addressing itself to some peculiar weakness; and
Mr. Arnold might have met with instances of this nature in his
position as magistrate. He greatly desired, likewise, for Euphra's
sake, to have Funkelstein in his power. His own ring was beyond
recovery; but if, by its means, he could hold such a lash over him
as would terrify him from again exercising his villanous influences
on her, he would be satisfied.
While plunged in this contemplation, he came upon two policemen
talking together. He recognized one of them as a Scotchman, from
his speech. It occurred to him at once to ask his advice, in a
modified manner; and a moment's reflection convinced him that it
would at least do no harm. He would do it. It was one of those
resolutions at which one arrives by an arrow flight of the
"You are a countryman of mine, I think," said he, as soon as the two
"If ye're a Scotchman, sir -- may be ay, may be no."
"Whaur come ye frae, man?"
"It's mine ain calf-country. An' what do they ca' ye?"
"They ca' me John MacPherson."
"My name's Sutherland."
"Eh, man! It's my ain mither's name. Gie's a grup o' yer han',
Maister Sutherlan'. -- Eh, man!" he repeated, shaking Hugh's hand with
"I have no doubt," said Hugh, relapsing into English, "that we are
some cousins or other. It's very lucky for me to find a relative,
for I wanted some -- advice."
He took care to say advice, which a Scotchman is generally prepared
to bestow of his best. Had it been sixpence, the cousinship would
have required elaborate proof, before the treaty could have made
"I'm fully at your service, sir."
"When will you be off duty?"
"At nine o'clock preceesely."
"Come to No. 13, -- Square, and ask for me. It's not far."
"Wi' pleesir, sir, 'gin 'twar twise as far."
Hugh would not have ventured to ask him to his house on Sunday
night, when no refreshments could be procured, had he not remembered
a small pig (AnglicÚ stone bottle) of real mountain dew, which he
had carried with him when he went to Arnstead, and which had lain
unopened in one of his boxes.
Miss Talbot received her lodger with more show of pleasure than
usual, for he came lapped in the odour of the deacon's sanctity.
But she was considerably alarmed and beyond measure shocked when
the policeman called and requested to see him. Sally had rushed in
to her mistress in dismay.
"Please'm, there's a pleaceman wants Mr. Sutherland. Oh! lor'm!"
"Well, go and let Mr. Sutherland know, you stupid girl," answered
her mistress, trembling.
"Oh! lor'm!" was all Sally's reply, as she vanished to bear the
awful tidings to Hugh.
"He can't have been housebreaking already," said Miss Talbot to
herself, as she confessed afterwards. "But it may be forgery or
embezzlement. I told the poor deluded young man that the way of
transgressors was hard."
"Please, sir, you're wanted, sir," said Sally, out of breath, and
pale as her Sunday apron.
"Who wants me?" asked Hugh.
"Please, sir, the pleaceman, sir," answered Sally, and burst into
Hugh was perfectly bewildered by the girl's behaviour, and said in a
tone of surprise:
"Well, show him up, then."
"Ooh! sir," said Sally, with a Plutonic sigh, and began to undo the
hooks of her dress; "if you wouldn't mind, sir, just put on my frock
and apron, and take a jug in your hand, an' the pleaceman'll never
look at you. I'll take care of everything till you come back, sir."
And again she burst into tears.
Sally was a great reader of the Family Herald, and knew that this
was an orthodox plan of rescuing a prisoner. The kindness of her
anxiety moderated the expression of Hugh's amusement; and having
convinced her that he was in no danger, he easily prevailed upon her
to bring the policeman upstairs.
Over a tumbler of toddy, the weaker ingredients of which were
procured by Sally's glad connivance, with a lingering idea of
propitiation, and a gentle hint that Missus mustn't know -- the two
Scotchmen, seated at opposite corners of the fire, had a long chat.
They began about the old country, and the places and people they
both knew, and both didn't know. If they had met on the shores of
the central lake of Africa, they could scarcely have been more
couthy together. At length Hugh referred to the object of his
application to MacPherson.
"What plan would you have me pursue, John, to get hold of a man in
"I could manage that for ye, sir. I ken maist the haill mengie o'
"But you see, unfortunately, I don't wish, for particular reasons,
that the police should have anything to do with it."
"Ay! ay! Hm! Hm! I see brawly. Ye'll be efter a stray sheep, nae
Hugh did not reply; so leaving him to form any conclusion he
"Ye see," MacPherson continued, "it's no that easy to a body that's
no up to the trade. Hae ye ony clue like, to set ye spierin' upo'?"
"Not the least."
The man pondered a while.
"I hae't," he exclaimed at last. "What a fule I was no to think o'
that afore! Gin't be a puir bit yow-lammie like, 'at ye're efter,
I'll tell ye what: there's ae man, a countryman o' our ain, an' a
gentleman forbye, that'll do mair for ye in that way, nor a' the
detaictives thegither; an' that's Robert Falconer, Esquire. -- I ken
"But I don't," said Hugh.
"But I'll introduce ye till 'im. He bides close at han' here; roun'
twa corners jist. An' I'm thinkin' he'll be at hame the noo; for I
saw him gaein that get, afore ye cam' up to me. An' the suner we
gang, the better; for he's no aye to be gotten hand o'. Fegs! he
may be in Shoreditch or this."
"But will he not consider it an intrusion?"
"Na, na; there's no fear o' that. He's ony man's an' ilka woman's
freen -- so be he can do them a guid turn; but he's no for drinkin'
and daffin' an' that. Come awa', Maister Sutherlan', he's yer verra
Thus urged, Hugh rose and accompanied the policeman. He took him
round rather more than two corners; but within five minutes they
stood at Mr. Falconer's door. John rang. The door opened without
visible service, and they ascended to the first floor, which was
enclosed something after the Scotch fashion. Here a respectable
looking woman awaited their ascent.
"Is Mr. Falconer at hom', mem?" said Hugh's guide.
"He is; but I think he's just going out again."
"Will ye tell him, mem, 'at hoo John MacPherson, the policeman,
would like sair to see him?"
"I will," she answered; and went in, leaving them at the door.
She returned in a moment, and, inviting them to enter, ushered them
into a large bare room, in which there was just light enough for
Hugh to recognize, to his astonishment, the unmistakeable figure of
the man whom he had met in Whitechapel, and whom he had afterwards
seen apparently watching him from the gallery of the Olympic
"How are you, MacPherson?" said a deep powerful voice, out of the
"Verra weel, I thank ye, Mr. Falconer. Hoo are ye yersel', sir?"
"Very well too, thank you. Who is with you?"
"It's a gentleman, sir, by the name o' Mr. Sutherlan', wha wants
your help, sir, aboot somebody or ither 'at he's enteresstit in,
Falconer advanced, and, bowing to Hugh said, very graciously:
"I shall be most happy to serve Mr. Sutherland, if in my power. Our
friend MacPherson has rather too exalted an idea of my capabilities,
"Weel, Maister Falconer, I only jist spier at yersel', whether or no
ye was ever dung wi' onything ye took in han'."
Falconer made no reply to this. There was the story of a whole life
in his silence -- past and to come.
He merely said:
"You can leave the gentleman with me, then, John. I'll take care of
"No fear o' that, sir. Deil a bit! though a' the policemen i'
Lonnon war efter 'im."
"I'm much obliged to you for bringing him."
"The obligation's mine sir -- an' the gentleman's. Good nicht, sir.
Good nicht, Mr. Sutherlan'. Ye'll ken whaur to fin' me gin ye want
me. Yon's my beat for anither fortnicht."
"And you know my quarters," said Hugh, shaking him by the hand. "I
am greatly obliged to you."
"Not a bit, sir. Or gin ye war, ye sud be hertily welcome."
"Bring candles, Mrs. Ashton," Falconer called from the door. Then,
turning to Hugh, "Sit down, Mr. Sutherland," he said, "if you can
find a chair that is not illegally occupied already. Perhaps we had
better wait for the candles. What a pleasant day we have had!"
"Then you have been more pleasantly occupied than I have," thought
Hugh, to whose mind returned the images of the Appleditch family and
its drawing-room, followed by the anticipation of the distasteful
duties of the morrow. But he only said:
"It has been a most pleasant day."
"I spent it strangely," said Falconer.
Here the candles were brought in.
The two men looked at each other full in the face. Hugh saw that he
had not been in error. The same remarkable countenance was before
him. Falconer smiled.
"We have met before," said he.
"We have," said Hugh.
"I had a conviction we should be better acquainted, but I did not
expect it so soon."
"Are you a clairvoyant, then?"
"Not in the least."
"Or, perhaps, being a Scotchman, you have the second sight?"
"I am hardly Celt enough for that. But I am a sort of a seer, after
all -- from an instinct of the spiritual relations of things, I hope;
not in the least from the nervo-material side."
"I think I understand you."
"Are you at leisure?"
"Had we not better walk, then? I have to go as far as Somers
Town -- no great way; and we can talk as well walking as sitting."
"With pleasure," answered Hugh, rising.
"Will you take anything before you go? A glass of port? It is the
only wine I happen to have."
"Not a drop, thank you. I seldom taste anything stronger than
"I like that. But I like a glass of port too. Come then."
And Falconer rose -- and a great rising it was; for, as I have said,
he was two or three inches taller than Hugh, and much broader across
the shoulders; and Hugh was no stripling now. He could not help
thinking again of his old friend, David Elginbrod, to whom he had to
look up to find the living eyes of him, just as now he looked up to
find Falconer's. But there was a great difference between those
organs in the two men. David's had been of an ordinary size, pure
keen blue, sparkling out of cerulean depths of peace and hope, full
of lambent gleams when he was loving any one, and ever ready to be
dimmed with the mists of rising emotion. All that Hugh could yet
discover of Falconer's eyes was, that they were large, and black as
night, and set so far back in his head, that each gleamed out of its
caverned arch like the reversed torch of the Greek Genius of Death,
just before going out in night. Either the frontal sinus was very
large, or his observant faculties were peculiarly developed.
They went out, and walked for some distance in silence. Hugh
ventured to say at length:
"You said you had spent the day strangely: May I ask how?"
"In a condemned cell in Newgate," answered Falconer. "I am not in
the habit of going to such places, but the man wanted to see me, and
As Falconer said no more, and as Hugh was afraid of showing anything
like vulgar curiosity, this thread of conversation broke. Nothing
worth recording passed until they entered a narrow court in Somers
"Are you afraid of infection?" Falconer said.
"Not in the least, if there be any reason for exposing myself to
"That is right .-- And I need not ask if you are in good health."
"I am in perfect health."
"Then I need not mind asking you to wait for me till I come out of
this house. There is typhus in it."
"I will wait with pleasure. I will go with you if I can be of any
"There is no occasion. It is not your business this time."
So saying, Falconer opened the door, and walked in.
Said Hugh to himself: "I must tell this man the whole story; and
with it all my own."
In a few minutes Falconer rejoined him, looking solemn, but with a
kind of relieved expression on his face.
"The poor fellow is gone," said he.
"What a thing it must be, Mr. Sutherland, for a man to break out of
the choke-damp of a typhus fever into the clear air of the life
"Yes," said Hugh; adding, after a slight hesitation, "if he be at
all prepared for the change."
"Where a change belongs to the natural order of things," said
Falconer, "and arrives inevitably at some hour, there must always be
more or less preparedness for it. Besides, I think a man is
generally prepared for a breath of fresh air."
Hugh did not reply, for he felt that he did not fully comprehend his
new acquaintance. But he had a strong suspicion that it was because
he moved in a higher region than himself.
"If you will still accompany me," resumed Falconer, who had not yet
adverted to Hugh's object in seeking his acquaintance, "you will, I
think, be soon compelled to believe that, at whatever time death may
arrive, or in whatever condition the man may be at the time, it
comes as the best and only good that can at that moment reach him.
We are, perhaps, too much in the habit of thinking of death as the
culmination of disease, which, regarded only in itself, is an evil,
and a terrible evil. But I think rather of death as the first pulse
of the new strength, shaking itself free from the old mouldy
remnants of earth-garments, that it may begin in freedom the new
life that grows out of the old. The caterpillar dies into the
butterfly. Who knows but disease may be the coming, the keener
life, breaking into this, and beginning to destroy like fire the
inferior modes or garments of the present? And then disease would
be but the sign of the salvation of fire; of the agony of the
greater life to lift us to itself, out of that wherein we are
failing and sinning. And so we praise the consuming fire of life."
"But surely all cannot fare alike in the new life."
"Far from it. According to the condition. But what would be hell
to one, will be quietness, and hope, and progress to another;
because he has left worse behind him, and in this the life asserts
itself, and is. -- But perhaps you are not interested in such
subjects, Mr. Sutherland, and I weary you."
"If I have not been interested in them hitherto, I am ready to
become so now. Let me go with you."
As I have attempted to tell a great deal about Robert Falconer and
his pursuits elsewhere, I will not here relate the particulars of
their walk through some of the most wretched parts of London.
Suffice it to say that, if Hugh, as he walked home, was not yet
prepared to receive and understand the half of what Falconer had
said about death, and had not yet that faith in God that gives as
perfect a peace for the future of our brothers and sisters, who,
alas! have as yet been fed with husks, as for that of ourselves, who
have eaten bread of the finest of the wheat, and have been but a
little thankful, -- he yet felt at least that it was a blessed thing
that these men and women would all die -- must all die. That spectre
from which men shrink, as if it would take from them the last
shivering remnant of existence, he turned to for some consolation
even for them. He was prepared to believe that they could not be
going to worse in the end, though some of the rich and respectable
and educated might have to receive their evil things first in the
other world; and he was ready to understand that great saying of
Schiller -- full of a faith evident enough to him who can look far
enough into the saying:
"Death cannot be an evil, for it is universal."
Samson. O that torment should not be confined
To the body's wounds and sores,
But must secret passage find
To the inmost mind.
Dire inflammation, which no cooling herb
Or medicinal liquor can asswage,
Nor breath of vernal air from snowy Alp.
Sleep hath forsook and given me o'er
To death's benumming opium as my only cure,
Thence faintings, swoonings of despair,
And sense of heaven's desertion.
MILTON .-- Samson Agonistes.
Hitherto I have chiefly followed the history of my hero, if hero in
any sense he can yet be called. Now I must leave him for a while,
and take up the story of the rest of the few persons concerned in my
Lady Emily had gone to Madeira, and Mr. Arnold had followed. Mrs.
Elton and Harry, and Margaret, of course, had gone to London.
Euphra was left alone at Arnstead.
A great alteration had taken place in this strange girl. The
servants were positively afraid of her now, from the butler down to
the kitchen-maid. She used to go into violent fits of passion, in
which the mere flash of her eyes was overpowering. These outbreaks
would be followed almost instantaneously by seasons of the deepest
dejection, in which she would confine herself to her room for hours,
or, lame as she was, wander about the house and the Ghost's Walk,
herself pale as a ghost, and looking meagre and wretched.
Also, she became subject to frequent fainting fits, the first of
which took place the night before Hugh's departure, after she had
returned to the house from her interview with him in the Ghost's
Walk. She was evidently miserable.
For this misery we know that there were very sufficient reasons,
without taking into account the fact that she had no one to
fascinate now. Her continued lameness, which her restlessness
aggravated, likewise gave her great cause for anxiety. But I
presume that, even during the early part of her confinement, her
mind had been thrown back upon itself, in that consciousness which
often arises in loneliness and suffering; and that even then she had
begun to feel that her own self was a worse tyrant than the count,
and made her a more wretched slave than any exercise of his unlawful
power could make her.
Some natures will endure an immense amount of misery before they
feel compelled to look there for help, whence all help and healing
comes. They cannot believe that there is verily an unseen
mysterious power, till the world and all that is in it has vanished
in the smoke of despair; till cause and effect is nothing to the
intellect, and possible glories have faded from the imagination;
then, deprived of all that made life pleasant or hopeful, the
immortal essence, lonely and wretched and unable to cease, looks up
with its now unfettered and wakened instinct, to the source of its
own life -- to the possible God who, notwithstanding all the
improbabilities of his existence, may yet perhaps be, and may yet
perhaps hear his wretched creature that calls. In this loneliness
of despair, life must find The Life; for joy is gone, and life is
all that is left: it is compelled to seek its source, its root, its
eternal life. This alone remains as a possible thing. Strange
condition of despair into which the Spirit of God drives a man -- a
condition in which the Best alone is the Possible!
Other simpler natures look up at once. Even before the first pang
has passed away, as by a holy instinct of celestial childhood, they
lift their eyes to the heavens whence cometh their aid. Of this
class Euphra was not. She belonged to the former. And yet even she
had begun to look upward, for the waters had closed above her head.
She betook herself to the one man of whom she had heard as knowing
about God. She wrote, but no answer came. Days and days passed
away, and there was no reply.
"Ah! just so!" she said, in bitterness. "And if I cried to God for
ever, I should hear no word of reply. If he be, he sits apart, and
leaves the weak to be the prey of the bad. What cares he?"
Yet, as she spoke, she rose, and, by a sudden impulse, threw herself
on the floor, and cried for the first time:
"O God, help me!"
Was there voice or hearing?
She rose at least with a little hope, and with the feeling that if
she could cry to him, it might be that he could listen to her. It
seemed natural to pray; it seemed to come of itself: that could not
be except it was first natural for God to hear. The foundation of
her own action must be in him who made her; for her call could be
only a response after all.
The time passed wearily by. Dim, slow November days came on, with
the fall of the last brown shred of those clouds of living green
that had floated betwixt earth and heaven. Through the bare boughs
of the overarching avenue of the Ghost's Walk, themselves living
skeletons, she could now look straight up to the blue sky, which had
been there all the time. And she had begun to look up to a higher
heaven, through the bare skeleton shapes of life; for the foliage of
joy had wholly vanished -- shall we say in order that the children of
the spring might come? -- certainly in order first that the blue sky
of a deeper peace might reflect itself in the hitherto darkened
waters of her soul.
Perhaps some of my readers may think that she had enough to repent
of to keep her from weariness. She had plenty to repent of, no
doubt; but repentance, between the paroxysms of its bitterness, is a
very dreary and November-like state of the spiritual weather. For
its foggy mornings and cheerless noons cannot believe in the sun of
spring, soon to ripen into the sun of summer; and its best time is
the night, that shuts out the world and weeps its fill of slow
tears. But she was not altogether so blameworthy as she may have
appeared. Her affectations had not been altogether false. She
valued, and in a measure possessed, the feelings for which she
sought credit. She had a genuine enjoyment of nature, though after
a sensuous, Keats-like fashion, not a Wordsworthian. It was the
body, rather than the soul, of nature that she loved -- its beauty
rather than its truth. Had her love of nature been of the deepest,
she would have turned aside to conceal her emotions rather than have
held them up as allurements in the eyes of her companion. But as no
body and no beauty can exist without soul and truth, she who loves
the former must at least be capable of loving the deeper essence to
which they owe their very existence.
This view of her character is borne out by her love of music and her
liking for Hugh. Both were genuine. Had the latter been either more
or less genuine than it was, the task of fascination would have been
more difficult, and its success less complete. Whether her own
feelings became further involved than she had calculated upon, I
cannot tell; but surely it says something for her, in any case, that
she desired to retain Hugh as her friend, instead of hating him
because he had been her lover.
How glad she would have been of Harry now! The days crawled one
after the other like weary snakes. She tried to read the New
Testament: It was to her like a mouldy chamber of worm-eaten
parchments, whose windows had not been opened to the sun or the wind
for centuries; and in which the dust of the decaying leaves choked
the few beams that found their way through the age-blinded panes.
This state of things could not have lasted long; for Euphra would
have died. It lasted, however, until she felt that she had been
leading a false, worthless life; that she had been casting from her
every day the few remaining fragments of truth and reality that yet
kept her nature from falling in a heap of helpless ruin; that she
had never been a true friend to any one; that she was of no
value -- fit for no one's admiration, no one's love. She must leave
her former self, like a dead body, behind her, and rise into a purer
air of life and reality, else she would perish with that everlasting
death which is the disease and corruption of the soul itself.
To those who know anything of such experiences, it will not be
surprising that such feelings as these should be alternated with
fierce bursts of passion. The old self then started up with
feverish energy, and writhed for life. Never any one tried to be
better, without, for a time, seeming to himself, perhaps to others,
to be worse. For the suffering of the spirit weakens the brain
itself, and the whole physical nature groans under it; while the
energy spent in the effort to awake, and arise from the dust, leaves
the regions previously guarded by prudence naked to the wild inroads
of the sudden destroying impulses born of suffering, self-sickness,
and hatred. As in the delirious patient, they would dash to the
earth whatever comes first within reach, as if the thing first
perceived, and so (by perception alone) brought into contact with
the suffering, were the cause of all the distress.
One day a letter arrived for her. She had had no letter from any
one for weeks. Yet, when she saw the direction, she flung it from
her. It was from Mrs. Elton, whom she disliked, because she found
her utterly uninteresting and very stupid.
Poor Mrs. Elton laid no claim to the contraries of these epithets.
But in proportion as she abjured thought, she claimed speech, both
by word of mouth and by letter. Why not? There was nothing in it.
She considered reason as an awful enemy to the soul, and obnoxious
to God, especially when applied to find out what he means when he
addresses us as reasonable creatures. But speech? There was no
harm in that. Perhaps it was some latent conviction that this power
of speech was the chief distinction between herself and the lower
animals, that made her use it so freely, and at the same time open
her purse so liberally to the Hospital for Orphan Dogs and Cats. Had
it not been for her own dire necessity, the fact that Mrs. Elton was
religious would have been enough to convince Euphra that there could
not possibly be anything in religion.
The letter lay unopened till next day -- a fact easy to account for,
improbable as it may seem; for besides writing as largely as she
talked, and less amusingly because more correctly, Mrs. Elton wrote
such an indistinct though punctiliously neat hand, that the reading
of a letter of hers involved no small amount of labour. But the sun
shining out next morning, Euphra took courage to read it, while
drinking her coffee, although she could not expect to make that
ceremony more pleasant thereby. It contained an invitation to visit
Mrs. Elton at her house in --- Street, Hyde Park, with the assurance
that, now that everything was arranged, they had plenty of room for
her. Mrs. Elton was sure she must be lonely at Arnstead; and Mrs.
Horton could, no doubt, be trusted -- and so on.
Had this letter arrived a few weeks earlier, Euphra would have
infused into her answer a skilful concoction of delicate contempt;
not for the amusement of knowing that Mrs. Elton would never
discover a trace of it, but simply for a relief to her own dislike.
Now she would have written a plain letter, containing as brief and
as true an excuse as she could find, had it not been, that, inclosed
in Mrs. Elton's note she found another, which ran thus:
"DEAR EUPHRA, -- Do come and see us. I do not like London at all
without you. There are no happy days here like those we had at
Arnstead with Mr. Sutherland. Mrs. Elton and Margaret are very kind
to me. But I wish you would come. Do, do, do. Please do.
"Your affectionate cousin,
"The dear boy!" said Euphra, with a gush of pure and grateful
affection; "I will go and see him."
Harry had begun to work with his masters, and was doing his best,
which was very good. If his heart was not so much in it as when he
was studying with his big brother, he gained a great benefit from
the increase of exercise to his will, in the doing of what was less
pleasant. Ever since Hugh had given his faculties a right
direction, and aided him by healthful manly sympathy, he had been
making up for the period during which childhood had been protracted
into boyhood; and now he was making rapid progress.
When Euphra arrived, Harry rushed to the hall to meet her. She took
him in her arms, and burst into tears. Her tears drew forth his.
He stroked her pale face, and said:
"Dear Euphra, how ill you look!"
"I shall soon be better now, Harry."
"I was afraid you did not love me, Euphra; but now I am sure you
"Indeed I do. I am very sorry for everything that made you think I
did not love you."
"No, no. It was all my fancy. Now we shall be very happy."
And so Harry was. And Euphra, through means of Harry, began to gain
a little of what is better than most kinds of happiness, because it
is nearest to the best happiness -- I mean peace. This foretaste of
rest came to her from the devotedness with which she now applied
herself to aid the intellect, which she had unconsciously repressed
and stunted before. She took Harry's books when he had gone to bed;
and read over all his lessons, that she might be able to assist him
in preparing them; venturing thus into some regions of labour into
which ladies are too seldom conducted by those who instruct them.
This produced in her quite new experiences. One of these was, that
in proportion as she laboured for Harry, hope grew for herself. It
was likewise of the greatest immediate benefit that the intervals of
thought, instead of lying vacant to melancholy, or the vapours that
sprung from the foregoing strife of the spiritual elements, should
be occupied by healthy mental exercise.
Still, however, she was subject to great vicissitudes of feeling. A
kind of peevishness, to which she had formerly been a stranger, was
but too ready to appear, even when she was most anxious, in her
converse with Harry, to behave well to him. But the pure
forgiveness of the boy was wonderful. Instead of plaguing himself
to find out the cause of her behaviour, or resenting it in the
least, he only laboured, by increased attention and submission, to
remove it; and seemed perfectly satisfied when it was followed by a
kind word, which to him was repentance, apology, amends, and
betterment, all in one. When he had thus driven away the evil
spirit, there was Euphra her own self. So perfectly did she see,
and so thoroughly appreciate this kindness and love of Harry, that
he began to look to her like an angel of forgiveness come to live a
boy's life, that he might do an angel's work.
Her health continued very poor. She suffered constantly from more
or less headache, and at times from faintings. But she had not for
some time discovered any signs of somnambulism.
Of this peculiarity her friends were entirely ignorant. The
occasions, indeed, on which it had manifested itself to an excessive
degree, had been but few.
THE NEW PUPILS.
Think you a little din can daunt mine ears?
Have I not in my time heard lions roar?
And do you tell me of a woman's tongue,
That gives not half so great a blow to hear,
As will a chestnut in a farmer's fire?
Tush! tush! fear boys with bugs.
Taming of the Shrew.
During the whole of his first interview with Falconer, which lasted
so long that he had been glad to make a bed of Falconer's sofa, Hugh
never once referred to the object for which he had accepted
MacPherson's proffered introduction; nor did Falconer ask him any
questions. Hugh was too much interested and saddened by the scenes
through which Falconer led him, not to shrink from speaking of
anything less important; and with Falconer it was a rule, a
principle almost, never to expedite utterance of any sort.
In the morning, feeling a little good-natured anxiety as to his
landlady's reception of him, Hugh made some allusion to it, as he
sat at his new friend's breakfast-table.
"What is your landlady's name?"
"Oh! little Miss Talbot? You are in good quarters -- too good to
lose, I can tell you. Just say to Miss Talbot that you were with
"You know her, then?"
"You seem to know everybody."
"If I have spoken to a person once, I never forget him."
"That seems to me very strange."
"It is simple enough. The secret of it is, that, as far as I can
help it, I never have any merely business relations with any one. I
try always not to forget that there is a deeper relation between us.
I commonly succeed worst in a drawing-room; yet even there, for the
time we are together, I try to recognise the present humanity,
however much distorted or concealed. The consequence is, I never
forget anybody; and I generally find that others remember me -- at
least those with whom I have had any real relations, springing from
my need or from theirs. The man who mends a broken chair for you,
or a rent in your coat, renders you a human service; and, in virtue
of that, comes nearer to your inner self, than nine-tenths of the
ladies and gentlemen whom you meet only in what is called society,
are likely to do."
"But do you not find it awkward sometimes?"
"Not in the least. I am never ashamed of knowing any one; and as I
never assume a familiarity that does not exist, I never find it
assumed towards me."
Hugh found the advantage of Falconer's sociology when he mentioned
to Miss Talbot that he had been his guest that night.
"You should have sent us word, Mr. Sutherland," was all Miss
"I could not do so before you must have been all in bed. I was
sorry, but I could hardly help it."
Miss Talbot turned away into the kitchen. The only other indication
of her feeling in the matter was, that she sent him up a cup of
delicious chocolate for his lunch, before he set out for Mr.
Appleditch's, where she had heard at the shop that he was going.
My reader must not be left to fear that I am about to give a
detailed account of Hugh's plans with these unpleasant little
immortals, whose earthly nature sprang from a pair whose religion
consisted chiefly in negations, and whose main duty seemed to be to
make money in small sums, and spend it in smaller. When he arrived
at Buccleuch Crescent, he was shown into the dining-room, into which
the boys were separately dragged, to receive the first instalment of
the mental legacy left them by their ancestors. But the legacy-duty
was so heavy that they would gladly have declined paying it, even
with the loss of the legacy itself; and Hugh was dismayed at the