Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Lavengro by George Borrow

Part 11 out of 13

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

gulley you before he comes to be . . . . Have you with us, indeed!
after what's past! no, nor nothing belonging to you. Fetch down
your mailia go-cart and live here with your chabo.' She then
whipped on the horse, and ascended the pass, followed by the man.
The carts were light, and they were not long in ascending the
winding path. I followed to see that they took their departure.
Arriving at the top, I found near the entrance a small donkey-cart,
which I concluded belonged to the girl. The tinker and his mort
were already at some distance; I stood looking after them for a
little time, then taking the donkey by the reins I led it with the
cart to the bottom of the dingle. Arrived there, I found Belle
seated on the stone by the fireplace. Her hair was all
dishevelled, and she was in tears.

'They were bad people,' said she, 'and I did not like them, but
they were my only acquaintance in the wide world.'


At tea--Vapours--Isopel Berners--Softly and kindly--Sweet pretty
creature--Bread and water--Two sailors--Truth and constancy--Very

In the evening of that same day the tall girl and I sat at tea by
the fire, at the bottom of the dingle; the girl on a small stool,
and myself, as usual, upon my stone.

The water which served for the tea had been taken from a spring of
pellucid water in the neighbourhood, which I had not had the good
fortune to discover, though it was well known to my companion, and
to the wandering people who frequented the dingle.

'This tea is very good,' said I, 'but I cannot enjoy it as much as
if I were well: I feel very sadly.'

'How else should you feel,' said the girl, 'after fighting with the
Flaming Tinman? All I wonder at is that you can feel at all! As
for the tea, it ought to be good, seeing that it cost me ten
shillings a pound.'

'That's a great deal for a person in your station to pay.'

'In my station! I'd have you to know, young man--however, I
haven't the heart to quarrel with you, you look so ill; and after
all, it is a good sum for one to pay who travels the roads; but if
I must have tea, I like to have the best; and tea I must have, for
I am used to it, though I can't help thinking that it sometimes
fills my head with strange fancies--what some folks call vapours,
making me weep and cry.'

'Dear me,' said I, 'I should never have thought that one of your
size and fierceness would weep and cry!'

'My size and fierceness! I tell you what, young man, you are not
over civil this evening; but you are ill, as I said before, and I
shan't take much notice of your language, at least for the present;
as for my size, I am not so much bigger than yourself; and as for
being fierce, you should be the last one to fling that at me. It
is well for you that I can be fierce sometimes. If I hadn't taken
your part against Blazing Bosville, you wouldn't be now taking tea
with me.'

'It is true that you struck me in the face first; but we'll let
that pass. So that man's name is Bosville; what's your own?'

'Isopel Berners.'

'How did you get that name?'

'I say, young man, you seem fond of asking questions: will you
have another cup of tea?'

'I was just going to ask for another.'

'Well, then, here it is, and much good may it do you; as for my
name, I got it from my mother.'

'Your mother's name, then, was Isopel!'

'Isopel Berners.'

'But had you never a father?'

'Yes, I had a father,' said the girl, sighing, 'but I don't bear
his name.'

'Is it the fashion, then, in your country for children to bear
their mother's name?'

'If you ask such questions, young man, I shall be angry with you.
I have told you my name, and, whether my father's or mother's, I am
not ashamed of it.'

'It is a noble name.'

'There you are right, young man. The chaplain in the great house
where I was born told me it was a noble name; it was odd enough, he
said, that the only three noble names in the county were to be
found in the great house; mine was one; the other two were Devereux
and Bohun.'

'What do you mean by the great house?'

'The workhouse.'

'Is it possible that you were born there?'

'Yes, young man; and as you now speak softly and kindly, I will
tell you my whole tale. My father was an officer of the sea, and
was killed at sea as he was coming home to marry my mother, Isopel
Berners. He had been acquainted with her, and had left her; but
after a few months he wrote her a letter, to say that he had no
rest, and that he repented, and that as soon as his ship came to
port he would do her all the reparation in his power. Well, young
man, the very day before they reached port they met the enemy, and
there was a fight, and my father was killed, after he had struck
down six of the enemy's crew on their own deck; for my father was a
big man, as I have heard, and knew tolerably well how to use his
hands, And when my mother heard the news, she became half
distracted, and ran away into the fields and forests, totally
neglecting her business, for she was a small milliner; and so she
ran demented about the meads and forests for a long time, now
sitting under a tree, and now by the side of a river--at last she
flung herself into some water, and would have been drowned, had not
some one been at hand and rescued her, whereupon she was conveyed
to the great house, lest she should attempt to do herself farther
mischief, for she had neither friends nor parents--and there she
died three months after, having first brought me into the world.
She was a sweet pretty creature, I'm told, but hardly fit for this
world, being neither large, nor fierce, nor able to take her own
part. So I was born and bred in the great house, where I learnt to
read and sew, to fear God, and to take my own part. When I was
fourteen I was put out to service to a small farmer and his wife,
with whom, however, I did not stay long, for I was half-starved,
and otherwise ill treated, especially by my mistress, who one day
attempting to knock me down with a besom, I knocked her down with
my fist, and went back to the great house.'

'And how did they receive you in the great house?'

'Not very kindly, young man--on the contrary, I was put into a dark
room, where I was kept a fortnight on bread and water; I did not
much care, however, being glad to have got back to the great house
at any rate--the place where I was born, and where my poor mother
died; and in the great house I continued two years longer, reading
and sewing, fearing God, and taking my own part when necessary. At
the end of the two years I was again put out to service, but this
time to a rich farmer and his wife, with whom, however, I did not
live long, less time, I believe, than with the poor ones, being
obliged to leave for--'

'Knocking your mistress down?'

'No, young man, knocking my master down, who conducted himself
improperly towards me. This time I did not go back to the great
house, having a misgiving that they would not receive me; so I
turned my back to the great house where I was born, and where my
poor mother died, and wandered for several days I know not whither,
supporting myself on a few halfpence which I chanced to have in my
pocket. It happened one day, as I sat under a hedge crying, having
spent my last farthing, that a comfortable-looking elderly woman
came up in a cart, and seeing the state in which I was, she stopped
and asked what was the matter with me; I told her some part of my
story, whereupon she said, 'Cheer up, my dear; if you like, you
shall go with me, and wait upon me.' Of course I wanted little
persuasion, so I got into the cart and went with her. She took me
to London and various other places, and I soon found that she was a
travelling woman, who went about the country with silks and linen.
I was of great use to her, more especially in those places where we
met evil company. Once, as we were coming from Dover, we were met
by two sailors, who stopped our cart, and would have robbed and
stripped us. 'Let me get down,' said I; so I got down, and fought
with them both, till they turned round and ran away. Two years I
lived with the old gentlewoman, who was very kind to me, almost as
kind as a mother; at last she fell sick at a place in Lincolnshire,
and after a few days died, leaving me her cart and stock in trade,
praying me only to see her decently buried--which I did, giving her
a funeral fit for a gentlewoman. After which I travelled the
country--melancholy enough for want of company, but so far
fortunate, that I could take my own part when anybody was uncivil
to me. At last, passing through the valley of Todmorden, I formed
the acquaintance of Blazing Bosville and his wife, with whom I
occasionally took journeys for company's sake, for it is melancholy
to travel about alone, even when one can take one's own part. I
soon found they were evil people; but, upon the whole, they treated
me civilly, and I sometimes lent them a little money, so that we
got on tolerably well together. He and I, it is true, had once a
dispute, and nearly came to blows; for once, when we were alone, he
wanted me to marry him, promising, if I would, to turn off Grey
Moll, or, if I liked it better, to make her wait upon me as a maid-
servant; I never liked him much, but from that hour less than ever.
Of the two, I believe Grey Moll to be the best, for she is at any
rate true and faithful to him, and I like truth and constancy--
don't you, young man?'

'Yes,' said I, 'they are very nice things. I feel very strangely.'

'How do you feel, young man?

'Very much afraid.'

'Afraid, at what? At the Flaming Tinman? Don't be afraid of him.
He won't come back, and if he did, he shouldn't touch you in this
state, I'd fight him for you; but he won't come back, so you
needn't be afraid of him.'

'I'm not afraid of the Flaming Tinman.'

'What, then, are you afraid of?'

'The evil one.'

'The evil one!' said the girl, 'where is he?'

'Coming upon me.'

'Never heed,' said the girl, 'I'll stand by you.'


Hubbub of voices--No offence--Nodding--The guests.

The kitchen of the public-house was a large one, and many people
were drinking in it; there was a confused hubbub of voices.

I sat down on a bench behind a deal table, of which there were
three or four in the kitchen; presently a bulky man, in a green
coat of the Newmarket cut, and without a hat, entered, and
observing me, came up, and in rather a gruff tone cried, 'Want
anything, young fellow?'

'Bring me a jug of ale,' said I, 'if you are the master, as I
suppose you are, by that same coat of yours, and your having no hat
on your head.'

'Don't be saucy, young fellow,' said the landlord, for such he was;
'don't be saucy, or--' Whatever he intended to say he left unsaid,
for fixing his eyes upon one of my hands, which I had placed by
chance upon the table, he became suddenly still.

This was my left hand, which was raw and swollen, from the blows
dealt on a certain hard skull in a recent combat. 'What do you
mean by staring at my hand so?' said I, withdrawing it from the

'No offence, young man, no offence,' said the landlord, in a quite
altered tone; 'but the sight of your hand--' then observing that
our conversation began to attract the notice of the guests in the
kitchen, he interrupted himself, saying in an undertone, 'But mum's
the word for the present, I will go and fetch the ale.'

In about a minute he returned, with a jug of ale foaming high.
'Here's your health,' said he, blowing off the foam, and drinking;
but perceiving that I looked rather dissatisfied, he murmured,
'All's right, I glory in you; but mum's the word.' Then, placing
the jug on the table, he gave me a confidential nod, and swaggered
out of the room.

What can the silly impertinent fellow mean? thought I; but the ale
was now before me, and I hastened to drink, for my weakness was
great, and my mind was full of dark thoughts, the remains of the
indescribable horror of the preceding night. It may kill me,
thought I, as I drank deep--but who cares? anything is better than
what I have suffered. I drank deep, and then leaned back against
the wall: it appeared as if a vapour was stealing up into my
brain, gentle and benign, soothing and stifling the horror and the
fear; higher and higher it mounted, and I felt nearly overcome; but
the sensation was delicious, compared with that I had lately
experienced, and now I felt myself nodding; and, bending down, I
laid my head on the table on my folded hands.

And in that attitude I remained some time, perfectly unconscious.
At length, by degrees, perception returned, and I lifted up my
head. I felt somewhat dizzy and bewildered, but the dark shadow
had withdrawn itself from me. And now once more I drank of the
jug; this second draught did not produce an overpowering effect
upon me--it revived and strengthened me--I felt a new man.

I looked around me; the kitchen had been deserted by the greater
part of the guests; besides myself, only four remained; these were
seated at the farther end. One was haranguing fiercely and
eagerly; he was abusing England, and praising America. At last he
exclaimed, 'So when I gets to New York, I will toss up my hat, and
damn the King.'

That man must be a Radical, thought I.


A Radical--Simple-looking man--Church of England--The President--
Aristocracy--Gin and water--Mending the roads--Persecuting Church--
Simon de Montfort--Broken bells--Get up--Not for the Pope--Quay of
New York--Mumpers' Dingle--No wish to fight--First draught--A poor
pipe--Half-a-crown broke.

The individual whom I supposed to be a Radical, after a short
pause, again uplifted his voice; he was rather a strong-built
fellow of about thirty, with an ill-favoured countenance, a white
hat on his head, a snuff-coloured coat on his back, and when he was
not speaking, a pipe in his mouth. 'Who would live in such a
country as England?' he shouted.

'There is no country like America,' said his nearest neighbour, a
man also in a white hat, and of a very ill-favoured countenance--
'there is no country like America,' said he, withdrawing a pipe
from his mouth; 'I think I shall--' and here he took a draught from
a jug, the contents of which he appeared to have in common with the
other,--'go to America one of these days myself.'

'Poor old England is not such a bad country, after all,' said a
third, a simple-looking man in a labouring dress, who sat smoking a
pipe without anything before him. 'If there was but a little more
work to be got, I should have nothing to say against her; I hope,

'You hope! who cares what you hope?' interrupted the first, in a
savage tone; 'you are one of those sneaking hounds who are
satisfied with dogs' wages--a bit of bread and a kick. Work,
indeed! who, with the spirit of a man, would work for a country
where there is neither liberty of speech nor of action? a land full
of beggarly aristocracy, hungry borough-mongers, insolent parsons,
and "their . . . wives and daughters," as William Cobbett says, in
his "Register."'

'Ah, the Church of England has been a source of incalculable
mischief to these realms,' said another.

The person who uttered these words sat rather aloof from the rest;
he was dressed in a long black surtout. I could not see much of
his face, partly owing to his keeping it very much directed to the
ground, and partly owing to a large slouched hat which he wore; I
observed, however, that his hair was of a reddish tinge. On the
table near him was a glass and spoon.

'You are quite right,' said the first, alluding to what this last
had said, 'the Church of England has done incalculable mischief
here. I value no religion three halfpence, for I believe in none;
but the one that I hate most is the Church of England; so when I
get to New York, after I have shown the fine fellows on the quay a
spice of me, by . . . the King, I'll toss up my hat again, and . .
. the Church of England too.'

'And suppose the people of New York should clap you in the stocks?'
said I.

These words drew upon me the attention of the whole four. The
Radical and his companion stared at me ferociously; the man in
black gave me a peculiar glance from under his slouched hat; the
simple-looking man in the labouring dress laughed.

'What are you laughing at, you fool?' said the Radical, turning and
looking at the other, who appeared to be afraid of him; 'hold your
noise; and a pretty fellow, you,' said he, looking at me, 'to come
here, and speak against the great American nation.'

'I speak against the great American nation!' said I; 'I rather paid
them a compliment.'

'By supposing they would put me in the stocks. Well, I call it
abusing them, to suppose they would do any such thing--stocks,
indeed!--there are no stocks in all the land. Put me in the
stocks! why, the President will come down to the quay, and ask me
to dinner, as soon as he hears what I have said about the King and

'I shouldn't wonder,' said I, 'if you go to America you will say of
the President and country what now you say of the King and Church,
and cry out for somebody to send you back to England.'

The Radical dashed his pipe to pieces against the table. 'I tell
you what, young fellow, you are a spy of the aristocracy, sent here
to kick up a disturbance.'

'Kicking up a disturbance,' said I, 'is rather inconsistent with
the office of spy. If I were a spy, I should hold my head down,
and say nothing.'

The man in black partially raised his head, and gave me another
peculiar glance.

'Well, if you aren't sent to spy, you are sent to bully, to prevent
people speaking, and to run down the great American nation; but you
shan't bully me. I say, down with the aristocracy, the beggarly
British aristocracy. Come, what have you to say to that?'

'Nothing,' said I.

'Nothing!' repeated the Radical.

'No,' said I, 'down with them as soon as you can.'

'As soon as I can! I wish I could. But I can down with a bully of
theirs. Come, will you fight for them?'

'No,' said I.

'You won't?

'No,' said I; 'though, from what I have seen of them, I should say
they are tolerably able to fight for themselves.'

'You won't fight for them,' said the Radical triumphantly; 'I
thought so; all bullies, especially those of the aristocracy, are
cowards. Here, landlord,' said he, raising his voice, and striking
against the table with the jug, 'some more ale--he won't fight for
his friends.'

'A white feather,' said his companion.

'He! he!' tittered the man in black.

'Landlord, landlord,' shouted the Radical, striking the table with
the jug louder than before. 'Who called?' said the landlord,
coming in at last. 'Fill this jug again,' said the other, 'and be
quick about it.' 'Does any one else want anything?' said the
landlord. 'Yes,' said the man in black; 'you may bring me another
glass of gin and water.' 'Cold?' said the landlord. 'Yes,' said
the man in black, 'with a lump of sugar in it.'

'Gin and water cold, with a lump of sugar in it,' said I, and
struck the table with my fist.

'Take some?' said the landlord, inquiringly.

'No,' said I, 'only something came into my head.'

'He's mad,' said the man in black.

'Not he,' said the Radical. 'He's only shamming; he knows his
master is here, and therefore has recourse to these manoeuvres, but
it won't do. Come, landlord, what are you staring at? Why don't
you obey your orders? Keeping your customers waiting in this
manner is not the way to increase your business.'

The landlord looked at the Radical, and then at me. At last,
taking the jug and glass, he left the apartment, and presently
returned with each filled with its respective liquor. He placed
the jug with beer before the Radical, and the glass with the gin
and water before the man in black, and then, with a wink to me, he
sauntered out.

'Here is your health, sir,' said the man of the snuff-coloured
coat, addressing himself to the one in black; 'I honour you for
what you said about the Church of England. Every one who speaks
against the Church of England has my warm heart. Down with it, I
say, and may the stones of it be used for mending the roads, as my
friend William says in his Register.'

The man in black, with a courteous nod of his head, drank to the
man in the snuff-coloured coat. 'With respect to the steeples,'
said he, 'I am not altogether of your opinion; they might be turned
to better account than to serve to mend the roads; they might still
be used as places of worship, but not for the worship of the Church
of England. I have no fault to find with the steeples, it is the
Church itself which I am compelled to arraign; but it will not
stand long, the respectable part of its ministers are already
leaving it. It is a bad Church, a persecuting Church.'

'Whom does it persecute?' said I.

The man in black glanced at me slightly, and then replied slowly,
'The Catholics.'

'And do those whom you call Catholics never persecute?' said I.

'Never,' said the man in black.

'Did you ever read Foxe's Book of Martyrs?' said I.

'He! he!' tittered the man in black; 'there is not a word of truth
in Foxe's Book of Martyrs.'

'Ten times more than in the Flos Sanctorum,' said I.

The man in black looked at me, but made no answer.

'And what say you to the Massacre of the Albigenses and the
Vaudois, "whose bones lie scattered on the cold Alp," or the
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes?'

The man in black made no answer.

'Go to,' said I; 'it is because the Church of England is not a
persecuting church, that those whom you call the respectable part
are leaving her; it is because they can't do with the poor
Dissenters what Simon de Montfort did with the Albigenses, and the
cruel Piedmontese with the Vaudois, that they turn to bloody Rome;
the Pope will no doubt welcome them, for the Pope, do you see,
being very much in want, will welcome--'

'Hollo!' said the Radical, interfering, 'what are you saying about
the Pope? I say, hurrah for the Pope; I value no religion three
halfpence, as I said before, but if I were to adopt any, it should
be the Popish as it's called, because I conceives the Popish to be
the grand enemy of the Church of England, of the beggarly
aristocracy, and the borough-monger system, so I won't hear the
Pope abused while I am by. Come, don't look fierce. You won't
fight, you know, I have proved it; but I will give you another
chance--I will fight for the Pope, will you fight against him?'

'Oh dear me, yes,' said I, getting up and stepping forward. 'I am
a quiet peaceable young man, and, being so, am always ready to
fight against the Pope--the enemy of all peace and quiet; to refuse
fighting for the aristocracy is a widely different thing from
refusing to fight against the Pope; so come on, if you are disposed
to fight for him. To the Pope broken bells, to Saint James broken
shells. No Popish vile oppression, but the Protestant succession.
Confusion to the Groyne, hurrah for the Boyne, for the army at
Clonmel, and the Protestant young gentlemen who live there as

'An Orangeman,' said the man in black.

'Not a Platitude,' said I.

The man in black gave a slight start.

'Amongst that family,' said I, 'no doubt, something may be done,
but amongst the Methodist preachers I should conceive that the
success would not be great.'

The man in black sat quite still.

'Especially amongst those who have wives,' I added.

The man in black stretched his hand towards his gin and water.

'However,' said I, 'we shall see what the grand movement will bring
about, and the results of the lessons in elocution.'

The man in black lifted the glass up to his mouth, and, in doing
so, let the spoon fall.

'But what has this to do with the main question?' said I; 'I am
waiting here to fight against the Pope.'

'Come, Hunter,' said the companion of the man in the snuff coloured
coat, 'get up, and fight for the Pope.'

'I don't care for the young fellow,' said the man in the snuff-
coloured coat.

'I know you don't,' said the other, 'so get up, and serve him out.'

'I could serve out three like him,' said the man in the snuff-
coloured coat.

'So much the better for you,' said the other, 'the present work
will be all the easier for you, get up, and serve him out at once.'

The man in the snuff-coloured coat did not stir.

'Who shows the white feather now?' said the simple-looking man.

'He! he! he!' tittered the man in black.

'Who told you to interfere?' said the Radical, turning ferociously
towards the simple-looking man; 'say another word and I'll--' 'And
you!' said he, addressing himself to the man in black, 'a pretty
fellow you to turn against me, after I had taken your part. I tell
you what, you may fight for yourself. I'll see you and your Pope
in the pit of Eldon before I fight for either of you, so make the
most of it.'

'Then you won't fight?' said I.

'Not for the Pope,' said the Radical; 'I'll see the Pope--'

'Dear me!' said I, 'not fight for the Pope, whose religion you
would turn to, if you were inclined for any. I see how it is, you
are not fond of fighting; but I'll give you another chance--you
were abusing the Church of England just now: I'll fight for it--
will you fight against it?'

'Come, Hunter,' said the other, 'get up, and fight against the
Church of England.'

'I have no particular quarrel against the Church of England,' said
the man in the snuff-coloured coat, 'my quarrel is with the
aristocracy. If I said anything against the Church, it was merely
for a bit of corollary, as Master William Cobbett would say; the
quarrel with the Church belongs to this fellow in black, so let him
carry it on. However,' he continued suddenly, 'I won't slink from
the matter either; it shall never be said by the fine fellows on
the quay of New York that I wouldn't fight against the Church of
England. So down with the beggarly aristocracy, the Church, and
the Pope to the bottom of the pit of Eldon, and may the Pope fall
first, and the others upon him.'

Thereupon, dashing his hat on the table, he placed himself in an
attitude of offence and rushed forward. He was, as I have said
before, a powerful fellow, and might have proved a dangerous
antagonist, more especially to myself, who, after my recent
encounter with the Flaming Tinman, and my wrestlings with the evil
one, was in anything but fighting order. Any collision, however,
was prevented by the landlord, who, suddenly appearing, thrust
himself between us. 'There shall be no fighting here,' said he;
'no one shall fight in this house, except it be with myself; so if
you two have anything to say to each other, you had better go into
the field behind the house. But, you fool,' said he, pushing
Hunter violently on the breast, 'do you know whom you are going to
tackle with?--this is the young chap that beat Blazing Bosville,
only as late as yesterday, in Mumpers' Dingle. Grey Moll told me
all about it last night, when she came for some brandy for her
husband, who, she said, had been half killed; and she described the
young man to me so closely that I knew him at once, that is, as
soon as I saw how his left hand was bruised, for she told me he was
a left-hand hitter. Aren't it all true, young man? Aren't you he
that beat Flaming Bosville, in Mumpers' Dingle?' 'I never beat
Flaming Bosville,' said I, 'he beat himself. Had he not struck his
hand against a tree, I shouldn't be here at the present moment.'
'Hear, hear!' said the landlord, 'now that's just as it should be;
I like a modest man, for, as the parson says, nothing sits better
upon a young man than modesty. I remember, when I was young,
fighting with Tom of Hopton, the best man that ever pulled off coat
in England. I remember, too, that I won the battle; for I happened
to hit Tom of Hopton in the mark, as he was coming in, so that he
lost his wind, and falling squelch on the ground, do ye see, he
lost the battle, though I am free to confess that he was a better
man than myself; indeed, the best man that ever fought in England;
yet still, I won the battle, as every customer of mine, and
everybody within twelve miles round, has heard over and over again.
Now, Mr. Hunter, I have one thing to say, if you choose to go into
the field behind the house, and fight the young man, you can. I'll
back him for ten pounds; but no fighting in my kitchen--because
why? I keeps a decent kind of an establishment.'

'I have no wish to fight the young man,' said Hunter; 'more
especially as he has nothing to say for the aristocracy. If he
chose to fight for them, indeed--but he won't, I know; for I see
he's a decent, respectable young man; and, after all, fighting is a
blackguard way of settling a dispute; so I have no wish to fight;
however, there is one thing I'll do,' said he, uplifting his fist,
'I'll fight this fellow in black here for half a crown, or for
nothing, if he pleases; it was he that got up the last dispute
between me and the young man, with his Pope and his nonsense; so I
will fight him for anything he pleases, and perhaps the young man
will be my second; whilst you--'

'Come, Doctor,' said the landlord, 'or whatsoever you be, will you
go into the field with Hunter? I'll second you, only you must back
yourself. I'll lay five pounds on Hunter, if you are inclined to
back yourself; and will help you to win it as far, do you see, as a
second can; because why? I always likes to do the fair thing.'

'Oh, I have no wish to fight,' said the man in black, hastily;
'fighting is not my trade. If I have given any offence, I beg
anybody's pardon.'

'Landlord,' said I, 'what have I to pay?

'Nothing at all,' said the landlord; 'glad to see you. This is the
first time that you have been at my house, and I never charge new
customers, at least customers such as you, anything for the first
draught. You'll come again, I daresay; shall always be glad to see
you. I won't take it,' said he, as I put sixpence on the table; 'I
won't take it.'

'Yes, you shall,' said I; 'but not in payment for anything I have
had myself: it shall serve to pay for a jug of ale for that
gentleman,' said I, pointing to the simple-looking individual; 'he
is smoking a poor pipe. I do not mean to say that a pipe is a bad
thing; but a pipe without ale, do you see--'

'Bravo!' said the landlord, 'that's just the conduct I like.'

'Bravo!' said Hunter. 'I shall be happy to drink with the young
man whenever I meet him at New York, where, do you see, things are
better managed than here.'

'If I have given offence to anybody,' said the man in black, 'I
repeat that I ask pardon,--more especially to the young gentleman,
who was perfectly right to stand up for his religion, just as I--
not that I am of any particular religion, no more than this honest
gentleman here,' bowing to Hunter; 'but I happen to know something
of the Catholics--several excellent friends of mine are Catholics--
and of a surety the Catholic religion is an ancient religion, and a
widely-extended religion, though it certainly is not a universal
religion, but it has of late made considerable progress, even
amongst those nations who have been particularly opposed to it--
amongst the Prussians and the Dutch, for example, to say nothing of
the English; and then, in the East, amongst the Persians, amongst
the Armenians.'

'The Armenians,' said I; 'oh dear me, the Armenians--'

'Have you anything to say about those people, sir?' said the man in
black, lifting up his glass to his mouth.

'I have nothing further to say,' said I, 'than that the roots of
Ararat are occasionally found to be deeper than those of Rome.'

'There's half-a-crown broke,' said the landlord, as the man in
black let fall the glass, which was broken to pieces on the floor.
'You will pay me the damage, friend, before you leave this kitchen.
I like to see people drink freely in my kitchen, but not too
freely, and I hate breakages; because why? I keeps a decent kind
of an establishment.'


The dingle--Give them ale--Not over complimentary--America--Many
people--Washington--Promiscuous company--Language of the roads--The
old women--Numerals--The man in black.

The public-house where the scenes which I have attempted to
describe in the preceding chapters took place, was at the distance
of about two miles from the dingle. The sun was sinking in the
west by the time I returned to the latter spot. I found Belle
seated by a fire, over which her kettle was suspended. During my
absence she had prepared herself a kind of tent, consisting of
large hoops covered over with tarpaulins, quite impenetrable to
rain, however violent. 'I am glad you are returned,' said she, as
soon as she perceived me; 'I began to be anxious about you. Did
you take my advice?'

'Yes,' said I; 'I went to the public-house and drank ale, as you
advised me; it cheered, strengthened, and drove away the horror
from my mind--I am much beholden to you.'

'I knew it would do you good,' said Belle; 'I remembered that when
the poor women in the great house were afflicted with hysterics,
and fearful imaginings, the surgeon, who was a good kind man, used
to say, "Ale, give them ale, and let it be strong."'

'He was no advocate for tea, then?' said I.

'He had no objection to tea; but he used to say, "Everything in its
season." Shall we take ours now?--I have waited for you.'

'I have no objection,' said I; 'I feel rather heated, and at
present should prefer tea to ale--"Everything in its season," as
the surgeon said.'

Thereupon Belle prepared tea, and, as we were taking it, she said--
'What did you see and hear at the public-house?'

'Really,' said I, 'you appear to have your full portion of
curiosity; what matters it to you what I saw and heard at the

'It matters very little to me,' said Belle; 'I merely inquired of
you, for the sake of a little conversation--you were silent, and it
is uncomfortable for two people to sit together without opening
their lips--at least I think so.'

'One only feels uncomfortable,' said I, 'in being silent, when one
happens to be thinking of the individual with whom one is in
company. To tell you the truth, I was not thinking of my
companion, but of certain company with whom I had been at the

'Really, young man,' said Belle, 'you are not over complimentary;
but who may this wonderful company have been--some young--?' and
here Belle stopped.

'No,' said I, 'there was no young person--if person you were going
to say. There was a big portly landlord, whom I daresay you have
seen; a noisy savage Radical, who wanted at first to fasten upon me
a quarrel about America, but who subsequently drew in his horns;
then there was a strange fellow, a prowling priest, I believe, whom
I have frequently heard of, who at first seemed disposed to side
with the Radical against me, and afterwards with me against the
Radical. There, you know my company, and what took place.'

'Was there no one else?' said Belle.

'You are mighty curious,' said I. 'No, none else, except a poor
simple mechanic, and some common company, who soon went away.'

Belle looked at me for a moment, and then appeared to be lost in
thought--'America!' said she, musingly--'America!'

'What of America?' said I.

'I have heard that it is a mighty country.'

'I daresay it is,' said I; 'I have heard my father say that the
Americans are first-rate marksmen.'

'I heard nothing about that,' said Belle; 'what I heard was, that
it is a great and goodly land, where people can walk about without
jostling, and where the industrious can always find bread; I have
frequently thought of going thither.'

'Well,' said I, 'the Radical in the public-house will perhaps be
glad of your company thither; he is as great an admirer of America
as yourself, though I believe on different grounds.'

'I shall go by myself,' said Belle, 'unless--unless that should
happen which is not likely--I am not fond of Radicals no more than
I am of scoffers and mockers.'

'Do you mean to say that I am a scoffer and mocker?'

'I don't wish to say you are,' said Belle; 'but some of your words
sound strangely like scoffing and mocking. I have now one thing to
beg, which is, that if you have anything to say against America,
you would speak it out boldly.'

'What should I have to say against America? I never was there.'

'Many people speak against America who never were there.'

'Many people speak in praise of America who never were there; but
with respect to myself, I have not spoken for or against America.'

'If you liked America you would speak in its praise.'

'By the same rule, if I disliked America I should speak against

'I can't speak with you,' said Belle; 'but I see you dislike the

'The country!'

'Well, the people--don't you?'

'I do.'

'Why do you dislike them?'

'Why, I have heard my father say that the American marksmen, led on
by a chap of the name of Washington, sent the English to the right-
about in double-quick time.'

'And that is your reason for disliking the Americans?'

'Yes,' said I, 'that is my reason for disliking them.'

'Will you take another cup of tea?' said Belle.

I took another cup; we were again silent. 'It is rather
uncomfortable,' said I, at last, 'for people to sit together
without having anything to say.'

'Were you thinking of your company?' said Belle.

'What company?' said I.

'The present company.'

'The present company! oh, ah--I remember that I said one only feels
uncomfortable in being silent with a companion, when one happens to
be thinking of the companion. Well, I had been thinking of you the
last two or three minutes, and had just come to the conclusion
that, to prevent us both feeling occasionally uncomfortably towards
each other, having nothing to say, it would be as well to have a
standing subject on which to employ our tongues. Belle, I have
determined to give you lessons in Armenian.'

'What is Armenian?'

'Did you ever hear of Ararat?'

'Yes, that was the place where the ark rested; I have heard the
chaplain in the great house talk of it; besides, I have read of it
in the Bible.'

'Well, Armenian is the speech of people of that place, and I should
like to teach it you.'

'To prevent--'

'Ay, ay, to prevent our occasionally feeling uncomfortable
together. Your acquiring it besides might prove of ulterior
advantage to us both; for example, suppose you and I were in
promiscuous company, at Court, for example, and you had something
to communicate to me which you did not wish any one else to be
acquainted with, how safely you might communicate it to me in

'Would not the language of the roads do as well?' said Belle.

'In some places it would,' said I, 'but not at Court, owing to its
resemblance to thieves' slang. There is Hebrew, again, which I was
thinking of teaching you, till the idea of being presented at Court
made me abandon it, from the probability of our being understood,
in the event of our speaking it, by at least half a dozen people in
our vicinity. There is Latin, it is true, or Greek, which we might
speak aloud at Court with perfect confidence of safety, but upon
the whole I should prefer teaching you Armenian, not because it
would be a safer language to hold communication with at Court, but
because, not being very well grounded in it myself, I am
apprehensive that its words and forms may escape from my
recollection, unless I have sometimes occasion to call them forth.'

'I am afraid we shall have to part company before I have learnt
it,' said Belle; 'in the meantime, if I wish to say anything to you
in private, somebody being by, shall I speak in the language of the

'If no roadster is nigh you may,' said I, 'and I will do my best to
understand you. Belle, I will now give you a lesson in Armenian.'

'I suppose you mean no harm,' said Belle.

'Not in the least; I merely propose the thing to prevent our
occasionally feeling uncomfortable together. Let us begin.'

'Stop till I have removed the tea things,' said Belle; and, getting
up, she removed them to her own encampment.

'I am ready,' said Belle, returning, and taking her former seat,
'to join with you in anything which will serve to pass away the
time agreeably, provided there is no harm in it.'

'Belle,' said I, 'I have determined to commence the course of
Armenian lessons by teaching you the numerals; but, before I do
that, it will be as well to tell you that the Armenian language is
called Haik.'

'I am sure that word will hang upon my memory,' said Belle.

'Why hang upon it?' said I.

'Because the old women in the great house used to call so the
chimney-hook, on which they hung the kettle; in like manner, on the
hake of my memory I will hang your hake.'

'Good!' said I, 'you will make an apt scholar; but mind that I did
not say hake, but haik; the words are, however, very much alike;
and, as you observe, upon your hake you may hang my haik. We will
now proceed to the numerals.'

'What are numerals?' said Belle.

'Numbers. I will say the Haikan numbers up to ten. There--have
you heard them?'


'Well, try and repeat them.'

'I only remember number one,' said Belle, 'and that because it is

' I will repeat them again,' said I, 'and pay greater attention.
Now, try again.'

'Me, jergo, earache.'

'I neither said jergo nor earache. I said yergou and yerek.
Belle, I am afraid I shall have some difficulty with you as a

Belle made no answer. Her eyes were turned in the direction of the
winding path which led from the bottom of the hollow, where we were
seated, to the plain above. 'Gorgio shunella,' she said at length,
in a low voice.

'Pure Rommany,' said I; 'where?' I added, in a whisper.

'Dovey odoi,' said Belle, nodding with her head towards the path.

'I will soon see who it is,' said I; and starting up, I rushed
towards the pathway, intending to lay violent hands on any one I
might find lurking in its windings. Before, however, I had reached
its commencement, a man, somewhat above the middle height, advanced
from it into the dingle, in whom I recognised the man in black whom
I had seen in the public-house.


Buona sera--Rather apprehensive--The steep bank--Lovely virgin--
Hospitality--Tory minister--Custom of the country--Sneering smile--
Wandering Zigan--Gypsies' cloaks--Certain faculty--Acute answer--
Various ways--Addio--Best Hollands.

The man in black and myself stood opposite to each other for a
minute or two in silence; I will not say that we confronted each
other that time, for the man in black, after a furtive glance, did
not look me in the face, but kept his eyes fixed apparently on the
leaves of a bunch of ground-nuts which were growing at my feet. At
length, looking around the dingle, he exclaimed, 'Buona sera, I
hope I don't intrude.'

'You have as much right here,' said I, 'as I or my companion; but
you had no right to stand listening to our conversation.'

'I was not listening,' said the man, 'I was hesitating whether to
advance or retire; and if I heard some of your conversation, the
fault was not mine.'

'I do not see why you should have hesitated if your intentions were
good,' said I.

'I think the kind of place in which I found myself might excuse
some hesitation,' said the man in black, looking around; 'moreover,
from what I had seen of your demeanour at the public-house, I was
rather apprehensive that the reception I might experience at your
hands might be more rough than agreeable.'

'And what may have been your motive for coming to this place?' said

'Per far visita a sua signoria, ecco il motivo.'

'Why do you speak to me in that gibberish,' said I; 'do you think I
understand it?'

'It is not Armenian,' said the man in black; 'but it might serve,
in a place like this, for the breathing of a little secret
communication, were any common roadster near at hand. It would not
do at Court, it is true, being the language of singing women, and
the like; but we are not at Court--when we are, I can perhaps
summon up a little indifferent Latin, if I have anything private to
communicate to the learned Professor.'

And at the conclusion of this speech the man in black lifted up his
head, and, for some moments, looked me in the face. The muscles of
his own seemed to be slightly convulsed, and his mouth opened in a
singular manner

'I see,' said I, 'that for some time you were standing near me and
my companion, in the mean act of listening.'

'Not at all,' said the man in black; 'I heard from the steep bank
above, that to which I have now alluded, whilst I was puzzling
myself to find the path which leads to your retreat. I made,
indeed, nearly the compass of the whole thicket before I found it.'

'And how did you know that I was here?' I demanded.

'The landlord of the public-house, with whom I had some
conversation concerning you, informed me that he had no doubt I
should find you in this place, to which he gave me instructions not
very clear. But, now I am here, I crave permission to remain a
little time, in order that I may hold some communion with you.'

'Well,' said I, 'since you are come, you are welcome; please to
step this way.'

Thereupon I conducted the man in black to the fireplace, where
Belle was standing, who had risen from her stool on my springing up
to go in quest of the stranger. The man in black looked at her
with evident curiosity, then making her rather a graceful bow,
'Lovely virgin,' said he, stretching out his hand, 'allow me to
salute your fingers.'

'I am not in the habit of shaking hands with strangers,' said

'I did not presume to request to shake hands with you,' said the
man in black, 'I merely wished to be permitted to salute with my
lips the extremity of your two forefingers.'

'I never permit anything of the kind,' said Belle; ' I do not
approve of such unmanly ways, they are only befitting those who
lurk in corners or behind trees, listening to the conversation of
people who would fain be private.'

'Do you take me for a listener then?' said the man in black.

'Ay, indeed I do,' said Belle; 'the young man may receive your
excuses, and put confidence in them, if he please, but for my part
I neither admit them nor believe them;' and thereupon flinging her
long hair back, which was hanging over her cheeks, she seated
herself on her stool.

'Come, Belle,' said I, 'I have bidden the gentleman welcome, I
beseech you, therefore, to make him welcome; he is a stranger,
where we are at home, therefore, even did we wish him away, we are
bound to treat him kindly.'

'That's not English doctrine,' said the man in black.

'I thought the English prided themselves on their hospitality,'
said I.

'They do so,' said the man in black; 'they are proud of showing
hospitality to people above them, that is, to those who do not want
it, but of the hospitality which you were now describing, and which
is Arabian, they know nothing. No Englishman will tolerate another
in his house, from whom he does not expect advantage of some kind,
and to those from whom he does he can be civil enough. An
Englishman thinks that, because he is in his own house, he has a
right to be boorish and brutal to any one who is disagreeable to
him, as all those are who are really in want of assistance. Should
a hunted fugitive rush into an Englishman's house, beseeching
protection, and appealing to the master's feelings of hospitality,
the Englishman would knock him down in the passage.'

'You are too general,' said I, 'in your strictures. Lord -, the
unpopular Tory minister, was once chased through the streets of
London by a mob, and, being in danger of his life, took shelter in
the shop of a Whig linen-draper, declaring his own unpopular name,
and appealing to the linen-draper's feelings of hospitality;
whereupon the linen-draper, utterly forgetful of all party rancour,
nobly responded to the appeal, and telling his wife to conduct his
lordship upstairs, jumped over the counter, with his ell in his
hand, and placing himself with half-a-dozen of his assistants at
the door of his boutique, manfully confronted the mob, telling them
that he would allow himself to be torn to a thousand pieces ere he
would permit them to injure a hair of his lordship's head: what do
you think of that?'

'He! he! he!' tittered the man in black.

'Well,' said I, 'I am afraid your own practice is not very
different from that which you have been just now describing; you
sided with the Radical in the public-house against me, as long as
you thought him the most powerful, and then turned against him when
you saw he was cowed. What have you to say to that?'

'Oh, when one is in Rome, I mean England, one must do as they do in
England; I was merely conforming to the custom of the country, he!
he! but I beg your pardon here, as I did in the public-house. I
made a mistake.'

'Well,' said I, 'we will drop the matter, but pray seat yourself on
that stone, and I will sit down on the grass near you.'

The man in black, after proffering two or three excuses for
occupying what he supposed to be my seat, sat down upon the stone,
and I squatted down, gypsy-fashion, just opposite to him, Belle
sitting on her stool at a slight distance on my right. After a
time I addressed him thus: 'Am I to reckon this a mere visit of
ceremony? should it prove so, it will be, I believe, the first
visit of the kind ever paid me.'

'Will you permit me to ask,' said the man in black--'the weather is
very warm,' said he, interrupting himself, and taking off his hat.

I now observed that he was partly bald, his red hair having died
away from the fore part of his crown--his forehead was high, his
eyebrows scanty, his eyes gray and sly, with a downward tendency,
his nose was slightly aquiline, his mouth rather large--a kind of
sneering smile played continually on his lips, his complexion was
somewhat rubicund.

'A bad countenance,' said Belle, in the language of the roads,
observing that my eyes were fixed on his face.

'Does not my countenance please you, fair damsel?' said the man in
black, resuming his hat, and speaking in a peculiarly gentle voice.

'How,' said I, 'do you understand the language of the roads?'

'As little as I do Armenian,' said the man in black; 'but I
understand look and tone.'

'So do I, perhaps,' retorted Belle; 'and, to tell you the truth, I
like your tone as little as your face.'

'For shame,' said I; 'have you forgot what I was saying just now
about the duties of hospitality? You have not yet answered my
question,' said I, addressing myself to the man, 'with respect to
your visit.'

'Will you permit me to ask who you are?'

'Do you see the place where I live?' said I.

'I do,' said the man in black, looking around.

'Do you know the name of this place?'

'I was told it was Mumpers' or Gypsies' Dingle,' said the man in

'Good,' said I; 'and this forge and tent, what do they look like?'

'Like the forge and tent of a wandering Zigan; I have seen the like
in Italy.'

'Good,' said I; 'they belong to me.'

'Are you, then, a gypsy?' said the man in black.

'What else should I be?'

'But you seem to have been acquainted with various individuals with
whom I have likewise had acquaintance; and you have even alluded to
matters, and even words, which have passed between me and them.'

'Do you know how gypsies live?' said I.

'By hammering old iron, I believe, and telling fortunes.'

'Well,' said I, 'there's my forge, and yonder is some iron, though
not old, and by your own confession I am a soothsayer.'

'But how did you come by your knowledge?'

'Oh,' said I, 'if you want me to reveal the secrets of my trade, I
have, of course, nothing further to say. Go to the scarlet dyer,
and ask him how he dyes cloth.'

'Why scarlet?' said the man in black. 'Is it because gypsies blush
like scarlet?'

'Gypsies never blush,' said I; 'but gypsies' cloaks are scarlet.'

'I should almost take you for a gypsy,' said the man in black, 'but

'For what?' said I.

'But for that same lesson in Armenian, and your general knowledge
of languages; as for your manners and appearance I will say
nothing,' said the man in black, with a titter.

'And why should not a gypsy possess a knowledge of languages?' said

'Because the gypsy race is perfectly illiterate,' said the man in
black; 'they are possessed, it is true, of a knavish acuteness, and
are particularly noted for giving subtle and evasive answers--and
in your answers, I confess, you remind me of them; but that one of
the race should acquire a learned language like the Armenian, and
have a general knowledge of literature, is a thing che io non credo

'What do you take me for?' said I.

'Why,' said the man in black, 'I should consider you to be a
philologist, who, for some purpose, has taken up a gypsy life; but
I confess to you that your way of answering questions is far too
acute for a philologist.'

'And why should not a philologist be able to answer questions
acutely?' said I.

'Because the philological race is the most stupid under heaven,'
said the man in black; 'they are possessed, it is true, of a
certain faculty for picking up words, and a memory for retaining
them; but that any one of the sect should be able to give a
rational answer, to say nothing of an acute one, on any subject--
even though the subject were philology--is a thing of which I have
no idea.'

'But you found me giving a lesson in Armenian to this handmaid?'

'I believe I did,' said the man in black.

'And you heard me give what you are disposed to call acute answers
to the questions you asked me?'

'I believe I did,' said the man in black.

'And would any one but a philologist think of giving a lesson in
Armenian to a handmaid in a dingle?

'I should think not,' said the man in black.

'Well, then, don't you see that it is possible for a philologist to
give not only a rational, but an acute answer?'

'I really don't know,' said the man in black.

'What's the matter with you?' said I.

'Merely puzzled,' said the man in black.



'Really puzzled?'


'Remain so.'

'Well,' said the man in black, rising, 'puzzled or not, I will no
longer trespass upon your and this young lady's retirement; only
allow me, before I go, to apologise for my intrusion.'

'No apology is necessary,' said I; 'will you please to take
anything before you go? I think this young lady, at my request,
would contrive to make you a cup of tea.'

'Tea!' said the man in black; 'he! he! I don't drink tea; I don't
like it--if, indeed, you had,' and here he stopped.

'There's nothing like gin and water, is there?' said I, 'but I am
sorry to say I have none.'

'Gin and water,' said the man in black, 'how do you know that I am
fond of gin and water?'

'Did I not see you drinking some at the public-house?'

'You did,' said the man in black, 'and I remember that, when I
called for some you repeated my words--permit me to ask, is gin and
water an unusual drink in England?'

'It is not usually drunk cold, and with a lump of sugar,' said I.

'And did you know who I was by my calling for it so?'

'Gypsies have various ways of obtaining information,' said I.

'With all your knowledge,' said the man in black, 'you do not
appear to have known that I was coming to visit you?'

'Gypsies do not pretend to know anything which relates to
themselves,' said I; 'but I advise you, if you ever come again, to
come openly.'

'Have I your permission to come again?' said the man in black.

'Come when you please; this dingle is as free for you as me.'

'I will visit you again,' said the man in black--'till then,

'Belle,' said I, after the man in black had departed, 'we did not
treat that man very hospitably; he left us without having eaten or
drunk at our expense.'

'You offered him some tea,' said Belle, 'which, as it is mine, I
should have grudged him, for I like him not.'

'Our liking or disliking him had nothing to do with the matter, he
was our visitor, and ought not to have been permitted to depart
dry; living as we do in this desert, we ought always to be prepared
to administer to the wants of our visitors. Belle, do you know
where to procure any good Hollands?'

'I think I do,' said Belle, 'but--'

'I will have no buts. Belle, I expect that with as little delay as
possible you procure, at my expense, the best Hollands you can


Excursions--Adventurous English--Opaque forests--The greatest

Time passed on, and Belle and I lived in the dingle; when I say
lived, the reader must not imagine that we were always there. She
went out upon her pursuits, and I went out where inclination led
me; but my excursions were very short ones, and hers occasionally
occupied whole days and nights. If I am asked how we passed the
time when we were together in the dingle, I would answer that we
passed the time very tolerably, all things considered; we conversed
together, and when tired of conversing I would sometimes give Belle
a lesson in Armenian; her progress was not particularly brilliant,
but upon the whole satisfactory; in about a fortnight she had hung
up one hundred Haikan numerals upon the hake of her memory. I
found her conversation highly entertaining; she had seen much of
England and Wales, and had been acquainted with some of the most
remarkable characters who travelled the roads at that period; and
let me be permitted to say that many remarkable characters have
travelled the roads of England, of whom fame has never said a word.
I loved to hear her anecdotes of these people; some of whom I found
had occasionally attempted to lay violent hands either upon her
person or effects, and had invariably been humbled by her without
the assistance of either justice or constable. I could clearly
see, however, that she was rather tired of England, and wished for
a change of scene; she was particularly fond of talking of America,
to which country her aspirations chiefly tended. She had heard
much of America, which had excited her imagination; for at that
time America was much talked of, on roads and in homesteads--at
least, so said Belle, who had good opportunities of knowing--and
most people allowed that it was a good country for adventurous
English. The people who chiefly spoke against it, as she informed
me, were soldiers disbanded upon pensions, the sextons of village
churches, and excisemen. Belle had a craving desire to visit that
country, and to wander with cart and little animal amongst its
forests; when I would occasionally object that she would be exposed
to danger from strange and perverse customers, she said that she
had not wandered the roads of England so long and alone, to be
afraid of anything which might befall in America; and that she
hoped, with God's favour, to be able to take her own part, and to
give to perverse customers as good as they might bring. She had a
dauntless heart, that same Belle. Such was the staple of Belle's
conversation. As for mine, I would endeavour to entertain her with
strange dreams of adventure, in which I figured in opaque forests,
strangling wild beasts, or discovering and plundering the hoards of
dragons; and sometimes I would narrate to her other things far more
genuine--how I had tamed savage mares, wrestled with Satan, and had
dealings with ferocious publishers. Belle had a kind heart, and
would weep at the accounts I gave her of my early wrestlings with
the dark Monarch. She would sigh, too, as I recounted the many
slights and degradations I had received at the hands of ferocious
publishers; but she had the curiosity of a woman; and once, when I
talked to her of the triumphs which I had achieved over unbroken
mares, she lifted up her head and questioned me as to the secret of
the virtue which I possessed over the aforesaid animals; whereupon
I sternly reprimanded, and forthwith commanded her to repeat the
Armenian numerals; and, on her demurring, I made use of words, to
escape which she was glad to comply, saying the Armenian numerals
from one to a hundred, which numerals, as a punishment for her
curiosity, I made her repeat three times, loading her with the
bitterest reproaches whenever she committed the slightest error,
either in accent or pronunciation, which reproaches she appeared to
bear with the greatest patience. And now I have given a very fair
account of the manner in which Isopel Berners and myself passed our
time in the dingle.


The landlord--Rather too old--Without a shilling--Reputation--A
fortnight ago--Liquids--The main chance--Respectability--Irrational
beings--Parliament cove--My brewer.

Amongst other excursions, I went several times to the public-house
to which I introduced the reader in a former chapter. I had
experienced such beneficial effects from the ale I had drunk on
that occasion, that I wished to put its virtue to a frequent test;
nor did the ale on subsequent trials belie the good opinion which I
had at first formed of it. After each visit which I made to the
public-house, I found my frame stronger and my mind more cheerful
than they had previously been. The landlord appeared at all times
glad to see me, and insisted that I should sit within the bar,
where, leaving his other guests to be attended to by a niece of
his, who officiated as his housekeeper, he would sit beside me and
talk of matters concerning 'the ring,' indulging himself with a
cigar and a glass of sherry, which he told me was his favourite
wine, whilst I drank my ale. 'I loves the conversation of all you
coves of the ring,' said he once, 'which is natural, seeing as how
I have fought in a ring myself. Ah, there is nothing like the
ring; I wish I was not rather too old to go again into it. I often
think I should like to have another rally--one more rally, and
then--but there's a time for all things--youth will be served,
every dog has his day, and mine has been a fine one--let me be
content. After beating Tom of Hopton, there was not much more to
be done in the way of reputation; I have long sat in my bar the
wonder and glory of this here neighbourhood. I'm content, as far
as reputation goes; I only wish money would come in a little
faster; however, the next main of cocks will bring me in something
handsome--comes off next Wednesday, at -; have ventured ten five-
pound notes--shouldn't say ventured either--run no risk at all,
because why? I knows my birds.' About ten days after this
harangue I called again, at about three o'clock one afternoon. The
landlord was seated on a bench by a table in the common room, which
was entirely empty; he was neither smoking nor drinking, but sat
with his arms folded, and his head hanging down over his breast.
At the sound of my step he looked up; 'Ah,' said he, 'I am glad you
are come, I was just thinking about you.' 'Thank you,' said I; 'it
was very kind of you, especially at a time like this, when your
mind must be full of your good fortune. Allow me to congratulate
you on the sums of money you won by the main of cocks at -. I hope
you brought it all safe home.' 'Safe home!' said the landlord; 'I
brought myself safe home, and that was all; came home without a
shilling, regularly done, cleaned out.' 'I am sorry for that,'
said I; 'but after you had won the money, you ought to have been
satisfied, and not risked it again--how did you lose it? I hope
not by the pea and thimble.' 'Pea and thimble,' said the landlord-
-'not I; those confounded cocks left me nothing to lose by the pea
and thimble.' 'Dear me,' said I; 'I thought that you knew your
birds.' 'Well, so I did,' said the landlord; 'I knew the birds to
be good birds, and so they proved, and would have won if better
birds had not been brought against them, of which I knew nothing,
and so do you see I am done, regularly done.' 'Well,' said I,
'don't be cast down; there is one thing of which the cocks by their
misfortune cannot deprive you--your reputation; make the most of
that, give up cock-fighting, and be content with the custom of your
house, of which you will always have plenty, as long as you are the
wonder and glory of the neighbourhood.'

The landlord struck the table before him violently with his fist.
'Confound my reputation!' said he. 'No reputation that I have will
be satisfaction to my brewer for the seventy pounds I owe him.
Reputation won't pass for the current coin of this here realm; and
let me tell you, that if it ain't backed by some of it, it ain't a
bit better than rotten cabbage, as I have found. Only three weeks
since I was, as I told you, the wonder and glory of the
neighbourhood; and people used to come to look at me, and worship
me; but as soon as it began to be whispered about that I owed money
to the brewer, they presently left off all that kind of thing; and
now, during the last three days, since the tale of my misfortune
with the cocks has got wind, almost everybody has left off coming
to the house, and the few who does, merely comes to insult and
flout me. It was only last night that fellow, Hunter, called me an
old fool in my own kitchen here. He wouldn't have called me a fool
a fortnight ago; 'twas I called him fool then, and last night he
called me old fool; what do you think of that?--the man that beat
Tom of Hopton, to be called, not only a fool, but an old fool; and
I hadn't heart, with one blow of this here fist into his face, to
send his head ringing against the wall; for when a man's pocket is
low, do you see, his heart ain't much higher; but it is of no use
talking, something must be done. I was thinking of you just as you
came in, for you are just the person that can help me.'

'If you mean,' said I, 'to ask me to lend you the money which you
want, it will be to no purpose, as I have very little of my own,
just enough for my own occasions; it is true, if you desired it, I
would be your intercessor with the person to whom you owe the
money, though I should hardly imagine that anything I could say--'
'You are right there,' said the landlord; 'much the brewer would
care for anything you could say on my behalf--your going would be
the very way to do me up entirely. A pretty opinion he would have
of the state of my affairs if I were to send him such a 'cessor as
you; and as for your lending me money, don't think I was ever fool
enough to suppose either that you had any, or if you had that you
would be fool enough to lend me any. No, no, the coves of the ring
knows better; I have been in the ring myself, and knows what a
fighting cove is, and though I was fool enough to back those birds,
I was never quite fool enough to lend anybody money. What I am
about to propose is something very different from going to my
landlord, or lending any capital; something which, though it will
put money into my pocket, will likewise put something handsome into
your own. I want to get up a fight in this here neighbourhood,
which would be sure to bring plenty of people to my house, for a
week before and after it takes place; and as people can't come
without drinking, I think I could, during one fortnight, get off
for the brewer all the sour and unsaleable liquids he now has,
which people wouldn't drink at any other time, and by that means,
do you see, liquidate my debt; then, by means of betting, making
first all right, do you see, I have no doubt that I could put
something handsome into my pocket and yours, for I should wish you
to be the fighting man, as I think I can depend upon you.' 'You
really must excuse me,' said I; 'I have no wish to figure as a
pugilist; besides, there is such a difference in our ages; you may
be the stronger man of the two, and perhaps the hardest hitter, but
I am in much better condition, am more active on my legs, so that I
am almost sure I should have the advantage, for, as you very
properly observed, "Youth will be served."' 'Oh, I didn't mean to
fight,' said the landlord; 'I think I could beat you if I were to
train a little; but in the fight I propose I looks more to the main
chance than anything else. I question whether half so many people
could be brought together if you were to fight with me as the
person I have in view, or whether there would be half such
opportunities for betting, for I am a man, do you see; the person I
wants you to fight with is not a man, but the young woman you keeps
company with.'

'The young woman I keep company with,' said I; 'pray what do you

'We will go into the bar, and have something,' said the landlord,
getting up. 'My niece is out, and there is no one in the house, so
we can talk the matter over quietly.' Thereupon I followed him
into the bar, where, having drawn me a jug of ale, helped himself
as usual to a glass of sherry, and lighted a cigar, he proceeded to
explain himself further. 'What I wants is to get up a fight
between a man and a woman; there never has yet been such a thing in
the ring, and the mere noise of the matter would bring thousands of
people together, quite enough to drink out, for the thing should be
close to my house, all the brewer's stock of liquids, both good and
bad.' 'But,' said I, 'you were the other day boasting of the
respectability of your house; do you think that a fight between a
man and a woman close to your establishment would add to its
respectability?' 'Confound the respectability of my house,' said
the landlord; 'will the respectability of my house pay the brewer,
or keep the roof over my head? No, no! when respectability won't
keep a man, do you see, the best thing is to let it go and wander.
Only let me have my own way, and both the brewer, myself, and every
one of us, will be satisfied. And then the betting--what a deal we
may make by the betting--and that we shall have all to ourselves,
you, I, and the young woman; the brewer will have no hand in that.
I can manage to raise ten pounds, and if by flashing that about I
don't manage to make a hundred, call me horse.' 'But suppose,'
said I, 'the party should lose, on whom you sport your money, even
as the birds did?' 'We must first make all right,' said the
landlord, 'as I told you before; the birds were irrational beings,
and therefore couldn't come to an understanding with the others, as
you and the young woman can. The birds fought fair; but I intend
that you and the young woman should fight cross.' 'What do you
mean by cross?' said I. 'Come, come,' said the landlord, 'don't
attempt to gammon me; you in the ring, and pretend not to know what
fighting cross is! That won't do, my fine fellow; but as no one is
near us, I will speak out. I intend that you and the young woman
should understand one another, and agree beforehand which should be
beat; and if you take my advice, you will determine between you
that the young woman shall be beat, as I am sure that the odds will
run high upon her, her character as a fist-woman being spread far
and wide, so that all the flats who think it will be all right will
back her, as I myself would, if I thought it would be a fair
thing.' 'Then,' said I, 'you would not have us fight fair?' 'By
no means,' said the landlord, 'because why?--I conceives that a
cross is a certainty to those who are in it, whereas by the fair
thing one may lose all he has.' 'But,' said I, 'you said the other
day that you liked the fair thing.' 'That was by way of gammon,'
said the landlord; 'just, do you see, as a Parliament cove might
say, speechifying from a barrel to a set of flats, whom he means to
sell. Come, what do you think of the plan?'

'It is a very ingenious one,' said I.

'Ain't it?' said the landlord. 'The folks in this neighbourhood
are beginning to call me old fool; but if they don't call me
something else, when they sees me friends with the brewer, and
money in my pocket, my name is not Catchpole. Come, drink your
ale, and go home to the young gentlewoman.'

'I am going,' said I, rising from my seat, after finishing the
remainder of the ale.

'Do you think she'll have any objection?' said the landlord.

'To do what?' said I.

'Why, to fight cross.'

'Yes, I do,' said I.

'But you will do your best to persuade her?'

'No, I will not,' said I.

'Are you fool enough to wish to fight fair?'

'No,' said I, 'I am wise enough to wish not to fight at all.'

'And how's my brewer to be paid?' said the landlord.

'I really don't know,' said I.

'I'll change my religion,' said the landlord.


Another visit--A la Margutte--Clever man--Napoleon's estimate--
Another statue.

One evening Belle and myself received another visit from the man in
black. After a little conversation of not much importance, I asked
him whether he would not take some refreshment, assuring him that I
was now in possession of some very excellent Hollands, which, with
a glass, a jug of water, and a lump of sugar, was heartily at his
service; he accepted my offer, and Belle going with a jug to the
spring, from which she was in the habit of procuring water for tea,
speedily returned with it full of the clear, delicious water of
which I have already spoken. Having placed the jug by the side of
the man in black, she brought him a glass and spoon, and a tea-cup,
the latter containing various lumps of snowy-white sugar: in the
meantime I had produced a bottle of the stronger liquid. The man
in black helped himself to some water, and likewise to some
Hollands, the proportion of water being about two-thirds; then
adding a lump of sugar, he stirred the whole up, tasted it, and
said that it was good.

'This is one of the good things of life,' he added, after a short

'What are the others?' I demanded.

'There is Malvoisia sack,' said the man in black, 'and partridge,
and beccafico.'

'And what do you say to high mass?' said I.

'High mass!' said the man in black; 'however,' he continued, after
a pause, 'I will be frank with you; I came to be so; I may have
heard high mass on a time, and said it too; but as for any
predilection for it, I assure you I have no more than for a long
High Church sermon.'

'You speak a la Margutte,' said I.

'Margutte!' said the man in black, musingly, 'Margutte!'

'You have read Pulci, I suppose?' said I.

'Yes, yes,' said the man in black, laughing; 'I remember.'

'He might be rendered into English,' said I, 'something in this

'To which Margutte answered with a sneer,
I like the blue no better than the black,
My faith consists alone in savoury cheer,
In roasted capons, and in potent sack;
But above all, in famous gin and clear,
Which often lays the Briton on his back;
With lump of sugar, and with lymph from well,
I drink it, and defy the fiends of hell.'

'He! he! he!' said the man in black; 'that is more than Mezzofante
could have done for a stanza of Byron.'

'A clever man,' said I.

'Who?' said the man in black.

'Mezzofante di Bologna.'

'He! he! he!' said the man in black; 'now I know that you are not a
gypsy, at least a soothsayer; no soothsayer would have said that--'

'Why,' said I, 'does he not understand five-and-twenty tongues?'

'Oh yes,' said the man in black; 'and five-and-twenty added to
them; but, he! he! he! it was principally from him, who is
certainly the greatest of Philologists, that I formed my opinion of
the sect.'

'You ought to speak of him with more respect,' said I; 'I have
heard say that he has done good service to your See.'

'Oh yes,' said the man in black; 'he has done good service to our
See, that is, in his way; when the neophytes of the Propaganda are
to be examined in the several tongues in which they are destined to
preach, he is appointed to question them, the questions being first
written down for him, or else, he! he! he!--Of course you know
Napoleon's estimate of Mezzofante; he sent for the linguist from
motives of curiosity, and after some discourse with him, told him
that he might depart; then turning to some of his generals he
observed, "Nous avons eu ici un exemple qu'un homme peut avoir
beaucoup de paroles avec bien pen d'esprit."'

'You are ungrateful to him,' said I; 'well, perhaps, when he is
dead and gone you will do him justice.'

'True,' said the man in black; 'when he is dead and gone, we intend
to erect him a statue of wood, on the left-hand side of the door of
the Vatican library.'

'Of wood?' said I.

'He was the son of a carpenter, you know,' said the man in black;
'the figure will be of wood for no other reason, I assure you; he!

'You should place another statue on the right.'

'Perhaps we shall,' said the man in black; 'but we know of no one
amongst the philologists of Italy, nor, indeed, of the other
countries inhabited by the faithful, worthy to sit parallel in
effigy with our illustrissimo; when, indeed, we have conquered
these regions of the perfidious by bringing the inhabitants thereof
to the true faith, I have no doubt that we shall be able to select
one worthy to bear him company--one whose statue shall be placed on
the right hand of the library, in testimony of our joy at his
conversion; for, as you know, "There is more joy," etc.'

'Wood?' said I.

'I hope not,' said the man in black; 'no, if I be consulted as to
the material for the statue, I should strongly recommend bronze.'

And when the man in black had said this, he emptied his second
tumbler of its contents, and prepared himself another.


Prerogative--Feeling of gratitude--A long history--Alliterative
style--Advantageous specimen--Jesuit benefice--Not sufficient--
Queen Stork's tragedy--Good sense--Grandeur and gentility--
Ironmonger's daughter--Clan Mac-Sycophant--Lickspittles--A
curiosity--Newspaper editors--Charles the Simple--High-flying
ditty--Dissenters--Lower classes--Priestley's house--Saxon
ancestors--Austin--Renovating glass--Money--Quite original.

'So you hope to bring these regions again beneath the banner of the
Roman See?' said I, after the man in black had prepared the
beverage, and tasted it.

'Hope!' said the man in black; 'how can we fail? Is not the Church
of these regions going to lose its prerogative?'

'Its prerogative?'

'Yes; those who should be the guardians of the religion of England
are about to grant Papists emancipation, and to remove the
disabilities from Dissenters, which will allow the Holy Father to
play his own game in England.'

On my inquiring how the Holy Father intended to play his game, the
man in black gave me to understand that he intended for the present
to cover the land with temples, in which the religion of
Protestants would be continually scoffed at and reviled.

On my observing that such behaviour would savour strongly of
ingratitude, the man in black gave me to understand that if I
entertained the idea that the See of Rome was ever influenced in
its actions by any feeling of gratitude I was much mistaken,
assuring me that if the See of Rome in any encounter should chance
to be disarmed, and its adversary, from a feeling of magnanimity,
should restore the sword which had been knocked out of its hand,
the See of Rome always endeavoured on the first opportunity to
plunge the said sword into its adversary's bosom; conduct which the
man in black seemed to think was very wise, and which he assured me
had already enabled it to get rid of a great many troublesome
adversaries, and would, he had no doubt, enable it to get rid of a
great many more.

On my attempting to argue against the propriety of such behaviour,
the man in black cut the matter short by saying that if one party
was a fool he saw no reason why the other should imitate it in its

After musing a little while, I told him that emancipation had not
yet passed through the legislature, and that perhaps it never
would; reminding him that there was often many a slip between the
cup and the lip; to which observation the man in black agreed,
assuring me, however, that there was no doubt that emancipation
would be carried, inasmuch as there was a very loud cry at present
in the land--a cry of 'tolerance,' which had almost frightened the
Government out of its wits; who, to get rid of the cry, was going
to grant all that was asked in the way of toleration, instead of
telling the people to 'hold their nonsense,' and cutting them down
provided they continued bawling longer.

I questioned the man in black with respect to the origin of this
cry; but he said, to trace it to its origin would require a long
history; that, at any rate, such a cry was in existence, the chief
raisers of it being certain of the nobility, called Whigs, who
hoped by means of it to get into power, and to turn out certain
ancient adversaries of theirs called Tories, who were for letting
things remain in statu quo; that these Whigs were backed by a party
amongst the people called Radicals, a specimen of whom I had seen
in the public-house; a set of fellows who were always in the habit
of bawling against those in place; 'and so,' he added, 'by means of
these parties, and the hubbub which the Papists and other smaller
sects are making, a general emancipation will be carried, and the
Church of England humbled, which is the principal thing which the
See of Rome cares for.'

On my telling the man in black that I believed that, even among the
high dignitaries of the English Church, there were many who wished
to grant perfect freedom to religions of all descriptions, he said
he was aware that such was the fact, and that such a wish was
anything but wise, inasmuch as, if they had any regard for the
religion they professed, they ought to stand by it through thick
and thin, proclaiming it to be the only true one, and denouncing
all others, in an alliterative style, as dangerous and damnable;
whereas, by their present conduct, they were bringing their
religion into contempt with the people at large, who would never
continue long attached to a Church the ministers of which did not
stand up for it, and likewise cause their own brethren, who had a
clearer notion of things, to be ashamed of belonging to it. 'I
speak advisedly,' said he, in continuation; 'there is one

'And I hope there is only one,' said I; 'you surely would not
adduce the likes and dislikes of that poor silly fellow as the
criterions of the opinions of any party?'

'You know him,' said the man in black, 'nay, I heard you mention
him in the public-house; the fellow is not very wise, I admit, but
he has sense enough to know that, unless a Church can make people
hold their tongues when it thinks fit, it is scarcely deserving the
name of a Church; no, I think that the fellow is not such a very
bad stick, and that upon the whole he is, or rather was, an
advantageous specimen of the High Church English clergy, who, for
the most part, so far from troubling their heads about persecuting
people, only think of securing their tithes, eating their heavy
dinners, puffing out their cheeks with importance on country
justice benches, and occasionally exhibiting their conceited wives,
hoyden daughters, and gawky sons at country balls, whereas

'Stop,' said I; 'you said in the public-house that the Church of
England was a persecuting Church, and here in the dingle you have
confessed that one section of it is willing to grant perfect
freedom to the exercise of all religions, and the other only thinks
of leading an easy life.'

'Saying a thing in the public-house is a widely different thing
from saying it in the dingle,' said the man in black; 'had the
Church of England been a persecuting Church, it would not stand in
the position in which it stands at present; it might, with its
opportunities, have spread itself over the greater part of the
world. I was about to observe that, instead of practising the
indolent habits of his High Church brethren, Platitude would be
working for his money, preaching the proper use of fire and faggot,
or rather of the halter and the whipping-post, encouraging mobs to
attack the houses of Dissenters, employing spies to collect the
scandal of neighbourhoods, in order that he might use it for
sacerdotal purposes, and, in fact, endeavouring to turn an English
parish into something like a Jesuit benefice in the south of

'He tried that game,' said I, 'and the parish said "Pooh, pooh,"
and, for the most part, went over to the Dissenters.'

'Very true,' said the man in black, taking a sip at his glass, 'but
why were the Dissenters allowed to preach? why were they not beaten
on the lips till they spat out blood, with a dislodged tooth or
two? Why, but because the authority of the Church of England has,
by its own fault, become so circumscribed that Mr. Platitude was
not able to send a host of beadles and sbirri to their chapel to
bring them to reason, on which account Mr. Platitude is very
properly ashamed of his Church, and is thinking of uniting himself
with one which possesses more vigour and authority.'

'It may have vigour and authority,' said I, 'in foreign lands, but
in these kingdoms the day for practising its atrocities is gone by.
It is at present almost below contempt, and is obliged to sue for
grace in forma pauperis.'

'Very true,' said the man in black; 'but let it once obtain
emancipation, and it will cast its slough, put on its fine clothes,
and make converts by thousands. 'What a fine Church!' they'll say;
'with what authority it speaks! no doubts, no hesitation, no
sticking at trifles. What a contrast to the sleepy English Church!
They'll go over to it by millions, till it preponderates here over
every other, when it will of course be voted the dominant one; and
then--and then--' and here the man in black drank a considerable
quantity of gin and water.

'What then?' said I.

'What then?' said the man in black, 'why she will be true to
herself. Let Dissenters, whether they be Church of England, as
perhaps they may still call themselves, Methodist, or Presbyterian,
presume to grumble, and there shall be bruising of lips in pulpits,
tying up to whipping-posts, cutting off ears and noses--he! he! the
farce of King Log has been acted long enough; the time for Queen
Stork's tragedy is drawing nigh'; and the man in black sipped his
gin and water in a very exulting manner.

'And this is the Church which, according to your assertion in the
public-house, never persecutes?'

'I have already given you an answer,' said the man in black. 'With
respect to the matter of the public-house, it is one of the happy
privileges of those who belong to my Church to deny in the public-
house what they admit in the dingle; we have high warranty for such
double speaking. Did not the foundation stone of our Church, Saint
Peter, deny in the public-house what he had previously professed in
the valley?'

'And do you think,' said I, 'that the people of England, who have
shown aversion to anything in the shape of intolerance, will permit
such barbarities as you have described?'

'Let them become Papists,' said the man in black; 'only let the
majority become Papists, and you will see.'

'They will never become so,' said I; 'the good sense of the people
of England will never permit them to commit such an absurdity.'

'The good sense of the people of England!' said the man in black,
filling himself another glass.

'Yes,' said I, 'the good sense of not only the upper, but the
middle and lower classes.'

'And of what description of people are the upper class?' said the
man in black, putting a lump of sugar into his gin and water.

'Very fine people,' said I, 'monstrously fine people; so, at least,
they are generally believed to be.'

'He! he!' said the man in black; 'only those think them so who
don't know them. The male part of the upper class are in youth a
set of heartless profligates; in old age, a parcel of poor,
shaking, nervous paillards. The female part, worthy to be the
sisters and wives of such wretches--unmarried, full of cold vice,
kept under by vanity and ambition, but which, after marriage, they
seek not to restrain; in old age, abandoned to vapours and horrors;
do you think that such beings will afford any obstacle to the
progress of the Church in these regions, as soon as her movements
are unfettered?'

'I cannot give an opinion; I know nothing of them, except from a
distance. But what think you of the middle classes?'

'Their chief characteristic,' said the man in black, 'is a rage for
grandeur and gentility; and that same rage makes us quite sure of
them in the long run. Everything that's lofty meets their
unqualified approbation; whilst everything humble, or, as they call
it, "low," is scouted by them. They begin to have a vague idea
that the religion which they have hitherto professed is low; at any
rate, that it is not the religion of the mighty ones of the earth,
of the great kings and emperors whose shoes they have a vast
inclination to kiss, nor was used by the grand personages of whom
they have read in their novels and romances, their Ivanhoes, their
Marmions, and their Ladies of the Lake.'

'Do you think that the writings of Scott have had any influence in
modifying their religious opinions?'

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest