Part 4 out of 13
lighted taper, stood upon the table beside him.
'You do not smoke?' said he, at length, laying down his pipe, and
directing his glance to his companion.
Now there was at least one thing singular connected with this last,
namely, the colour of his hair, which, notwithstanding his extreme
youth, appeared to be rapidly becoming gray. He had very long
limbs, and was apparently tall of stature, in which he differed
from his elderly companion, who must have been somewhat below the
'No, I can't smoke,' said the youth, in reply to the observation of
the other; 'I have often tried, but could never succeed to my
'Is it possible to become a good German without smoking?' said the
senior, half speaking to himself.
'I daresay not,' said the youth; 'but I shan't break my heart on
'As for breaking your heart, of course you would never think of
such a thing; he is a fool who breaks his heart on any account; but
it is good to be a German, the Germans are the most philosophic
people in the world, and the greatest smokers: now I trace their
philosophy to their smoking.'
'I have heard say their philosophy is all smoke--is that your
'Why, no; but smoking has a sedative effect upon the nerves, and
enables a man to bear the sorrows of this life (of which every one
has his share) not only decently, but dignifiedly. Suicide is not
a national habit in Germany as it is in England.'
'But that poor creature, Werther, who committed suicide, was a
'Werther is a fictitious character, and by no means a felicitous
one; I am no admirer either of Werther or his author. But I should
say that, if there ever was a Werther in Germany, he did not smoke.
Werther, as you very justly observe, was a poor creature.'
'And a very sinful one; I have heard my parents say that suicide is
a great crime.'
'Broadly, and without qualification, to say that suicide is a
crime, is speaking somewhat unphilosophically. No doubt suicide,
under many circumstances, is a crime, a very heinous one. When the
father of a family, for example, to escape from certain
difficulties, commits suicide, he commits a crime; there are those
around him who look to him for support, by the law of nature, and
he has no right to withdraw himself from those who have a claim
upon his exertions; he is a person who decamps with other people's
goods as well as his own. Indeed, there can be no crime which is
not founded upon the depriving others of something which belongs to
them. A man is hanged for setting fire to his house in a crowded
city, for he burns at the same time or damages those of other
people; but if a man who has a house on a heath sets fire to it, he
is not hanged, for he has not damaged or endangered any other
individual's property, and the principle of revenge, upon which all
punishment is founded, has not been aroused. Similar to such a
case is that of the man who, without any family ties, commits
suicide; for example, were I to do the thing this evening, who
would have a right to call me to account? I am alone in the world,
have no family to support, and, so far from damaging any one,
should even benefit my heir by my accelerated death. However, I am
no advocate for suicide under any circumstances; there is something
undignified in it, unheroic, un-Germanic. But if you must commit
suicide--and there is no knowing to what people may be brought--
always contrive to do it as decorously as possible; the decencies,
whether of life or of death, should never be lost sight of. I
remember a female Quaker who committed suicide by cutting her
throat, but she did it decorously and decently: kneeling down over
a pail, so that not one drop fell upon the floor; thus exhibiting
in her last act that nice sense of neatness for which Quakers are
distinguished. I have always had a respect for that woman's
And here, filling his pipe from the canister, and lighting it at
the taper, he recommenced smoking calmly and sedately.
'But is not suicide forbidden in the Bible?' the youth demanded.
'Why, no; but what though it were!--the Bible is a respectable
book, but I should hardly call it one whose philosophy is of the
soundest. I have said that it is a respectable book; I mean
respectable from its antiquity, and from containing, as Herder
says, "the earliest records of the human race," though those
records are far from being dispassionately written, on which
account they are of less value than they otherwise might have been.
There is too much passion in the Bible, too much violence; now, to
come to all truth, especially historic truth, requires cool
dispassionate investigation, for which the Jews do not appear to
have ever been famous. We are ourselves not famous for it, for we
are a passionate people; the Germans are not--they are not a
passionate people--a people celebrated for their oaths; we are.
The Germans have many excellent historic writers, we . . . 'tis
true we have Gibbon . . . You have been reading Gibbon--what do you
think of him?'
'I think him a very wonderful writer.'
'He is a wonderful writer--one sui generis--uniting the perspicuity
of the English--for we are perspicuous--with the cool dispassionate
reasoning of the Germans. Gibbon sought after the truth, found it,
and made it clear.'
'Then you think Gibbon a truthful writer?'
'Why, yes; who shall convict Gibbon of falsehood? Many people have
endeavoured to convict Gibbon of falsehood; they have followed him
in his researches, and have never found him once tripping. Oh, he
is a wonderful writer! his power of condensation is admirable; the
lore of the whole world is to be found in his pages. Sometimes in
a single note he has given us the result of the study of years; or,
to speak metaphorically, "he has ransacked a thousand Gulistans,
and has condensed all his fragrant booty into a single drop of
'But was not Gibbon an enemy to the Christian faith?'
'Why, no; he was rather an enemy to priestcraft, so am I; and when
I say the philosophy of the Bible is in many respects unsound, I
always wish to make an exception in favour of that part of it which
contains the life and sayings of Jesus of Bethlehem, to which I
must always concede my unqualified admiration--of Jesus, mind you;
for with his followers and their dogmas I have nothing to do. Of
all historic characters Jesus is the most beautiful and the most
heroic. I have always been a friend to hero-worship, it is the
only rational one, and has always been in use amongst civilised
people--the worship of spirits is synonymous with barbarism--it is
mere fetish; the savages of West Africa are all spirit-worshippers.
But there is something philosophic in the worship of the heroes of
the human race, and the true hero is the benefactor. Brahma,
Jupiter, Bacchus, were all benefactors, and, therefore, entitled to
the worship of their respective peoples. The Celts worshipped
Hesus, who taught them to plough, a highly useful art. We, who
have attained a much higher state of civilisation than the Celts
ever did, worship Jesus, the first who endeavoured to teach men to
behave decently and decorously under all circumstances; who was the
foe of vengeance, in which there is something highly indecorous;
who had first the courage to lift his voice against that violent
dogma, "an eye for an eye"; who shouted conquer, but conquer with
kindness; who said put up the sword, a violent unphilosophic
weapon; and who finally died calmly and decorously in defence of
his philosophy. He must be a savage who denies worship to the hero
'But he was something more than a hero; he was the Son of God,
The elderly individual made no immediate answer; but, after a few
more whiffs from his pipe, exclaimed, 'Come, fill your glass! How
do you advance with your translation of Tell'?
'It is nearly finished; but I do not think I shall proceed with it;
I begin to think the original somewhat dull.'
'There you are wrong; it is the masterpiece of Schiller, the first
of German poets.'
'It may be so,' said the youth. 'But, pray excuse me, I do not
think very highly of German poetry. I have lately been reading
Shakespeare; and, when I turn from him to the Germans--even the
best of them--they appear mere pigmies. You will pardon the
liberty I perhaps take in saying so.'
'I like that every one should have an opinion of his own,' said the
elderly individual; 'and, what is more, declare it. Nothing
displeases me more than to see people assenting to everything that
they hear said; I at once come to the conclusion that they are
either hypocrites, or there is nothing in them. But, with respect
to Shakespeare, whom I have not read for thirty years, is he not
rather given to bombast, "crackling bombast," as I think I have
said in one of my essays?'
'I daresay he is,' said the youth; 'but I can't help thinking him
the greatest of all poets, not even excepting Homer. I would
sooner have written that series of plays, founded on the fortunes
of the House of Lancaster, than the Iliad itself. The events
described are as lofty as those sung by Homer in his great work,
and the characters brought upon the stage still more interesting.
I think Hotspur as much of a hero as Hector, and young Henry more
of a man than Achilles; and then there is the fat knight, the
quintessence of fun, wit, and rascality. Falstaff is a creation
beyond the genius even of Homer.'
'You almost tempt me to read Shakespeare again--but the Germans?'
'I don't admire the Germans,' said the youth, somewhat excited. 'I
don't admire them in any point of view. I have heard my father say
that, though good sharpshooters, they can't be much depended upon
as soldiers; and that old Sergeant Meredith told him that Minden
would never have been won but for the two English regiments, who
charged the French with fixed bayonets, and sent them to the right-
about in double-quick time. With respect to poetry, setting
Shakespeare and the English altogether aside, I think there is
another Gothic nation, at least, entitled to dispute with them the
palm. Indeed, to my mind, there is more genuine poetry contained
in the old Danish book which I came so strangely by, than has been
produced in Germany from the period of the Niebelungen lay to the
'Ah, the Koempe Viser?' said the elderly individual, breathing
forth an immense volume of smoke, which he had been collecting
during the declamation of his young companion. 'There are singular
things in that book, I must confess; and I thank you for showing it
to me, or rather your attempt at translation. I was struck with
that ballad of Orm Ungarswayne, who goes by night to the grave-hill
of his father to seek for counsel. And then, again, that strange
melancholy Swayne Vonved, who roams about the world propounding
people riddles; slaying those who cannot answer, and rewarding
those who can with golden bracelets. Were it not for the violence,
I should say that ballad has a philosophic tendency. I thank you
for making me acquainted with the book, and I thank the Jew Mousha
for making me acquainted with you.'
'That Mousha was a strange customer,' said the youth, collecting
'He WAS a strange customer,' said the elder individual, breathing
forth a gentle cloud. 'I love to exercise hospitality to wandering
strangers, especially foreigners; and when he came to this place,
pretending to teach German and Hebrew, I asked him to dinner.
After the first dinner, he asked me to lend him five pounds; I DID
lend him five pounds. After the fifth dinner, he asked me to lend
him fifty pounds; I did NOT lend him the fifty pounds.'
'He was as ignorant of German as of Hebrew,' said the youth; 'on
which account he was soon glad, I suppose, to transfer his pupil to
some one else.'
'He told me,' said the elder individual, 'that he intended to leave
a town where he did not find sufficient encouragement; and, at the
same time, expressed regret at being obliged to abandon a certain
extraordinary pupil, for whom he had a particular regard. Now I,
who have taught many people German from the love which I bear to
it, and the desire which I feel that it should be generally
diffused, instantly said that I should be happy to take his pupil
off his hands, and afford him what instruction I could in German,
for, as to Hebrew, I have never taken much interest in it. Such
was the origin of our acquaintance. You have been an apt scholar.
Of late, however, I have seen little of you--what is the reason?'
The youth made no answer.
'You think, probably, that you have learned all I can teach you?
Well, perhaps you are right.'
'Not so, not so,' said the young man eagerly; 'before I knew you I
knew nothing, and am still very ignorant; but of late my father's
health has been very much broken, and he requires attention; his
spirits also have become low, which, to tell you the truth, he
attributes to my misconduct. He says that I have imbibed all kinds
of strange notions and doctrines, which will, in all probability,
prove my ruin, both here and hereafter; which--which--'
'Ah! I understand,' said the elder, with another calm whiff. 'I
have always had a kind of respect for your father, for there is
something remarkable in his appearance, something heroic, and I
would fain have cultivated his acquaintance; the feeling, however,
has not been reciprocated. I met him, the other day, up the road,
with his cane and dog, and saluted him; he did not return my
'He has certain opinions of his own,' said the youth, 'which are
widely different from those which he has heard that you profess.'
'I respect a man for entertaining an opinion of his own,' said the
elderly individual. 'I hold certain opinions; but I should not
respect an individual the more for adopting them. All I wish for
is tolerance, which I myself endeavour to practise. I have always
loved the truth, and sought it; if I have not found it, the greater
'Are you happy?' said the young man.
'Why, no! And, between ourselves, it is that which induces me to
doubt sometimes the truth of my opinions. My life, upon the whole,
I consider a failure; on which account, I would not counsel you, or
any one, to follow my example too closely. It is getting late, and
you had better be going, especially as your father, you say, is
anxious about you. But, as we may never meet again, I think there
are three things which I may safely venture to press upon you. The
first is, that the decencies and gentlenesses should never be lost
sight of, as the practice of the decencies and gentlenesses is at
all times compatible with independence of thought and action. The
second thing which I would wish to impress upon you is, that there
is always some eye upon us; and that it is impossible to keep
anything we do from the world, as it will assuredly be divulged by
somebody as soon as it is his interest to do so. The third thing
which I would wish to press upon you--'
'Yes,' said the youth, eagerly bending forward.
'Is--' and here the elderly individual laid down his pipe upon the
table--'that it will be as well to go on improving yourself in
The alehouse-keeper--Compassion for the rich--Old English
gentleman--How is this?--Madeira--The Greek Parr--Twenty languages-
-Whiter's health--About the fight--A sporting gentleman--The
flattened nose--Lend us that pightle--The surly nod.
'Holloa, master! can you tell us where the fight is likely to be?'
Such were the words shouted out to me by a short thick fellow, in
brown top-boots, and bareheaded, who stood, with his hands in his
pockets, at the door of a country alehouse as I was passing by.
Now, as I knew nothing about the fight, and as the appearance of
the man did not tempt me greatly to enter into conversation with
him, I merely answered in the negative, and continued my way.
It was a fine lovely morning in May, the sun shone bright above,
and the birds were carolling in the hedgerows. I was wont to be
cheerful at such seasons, for, from my earliest recollection,
sunshine and the song of birds have been dear to me; yet, about
that period, I was not cheerful, my mind was not at rest; I was
debating within myself, and the debate was dreary and
unsatisfactory enough. I sighed, and turning my eyes upward, I
ejaculated, 'What is truth?'
But suddenly, by a violent effort breaking away from my
meditations, I hastened forward; one mile, two miles, three miles
were speedily left behind; and now I came to a grove of birch and
other trees, and opening a gate I passed up a kind of avenue, and
soon arriving before a large brick house, of rather antique
appearance, knocked at the door.
In this house there lived a gentleman with whom I had business. He
was said to be a genuine old English gentleman, and a man of
considerable property; at this time, however, he wanted a thousand
pounds, as gentlemen of considerable property every now and then
do. I had brought him a thousand pounds in my pocket, for it is
astonishing how many eager helpers the rich find, and with what
compassion people look upon their distresses. He was said to have
good wine in his cellar.
'Is your master at home?' said I, to a servant who appeared at the
'His worship is at home, young man,' said the servant, as he looked
at my shoes, which bore evidence that I had come walking. 'I beg
your pardon, sir,' he added, as he looked me in the face.
'Ay, ay, servants,' thought I, as I followed the man into the
house, 'always look people in the face when you open the door, and
do so before you look at their shoes, or you may mistake the heir
of a Prime Minister for a shopkeeper's son.'
I found his worship a jolly, red-faced gentleman, of about fifty-
five; he was dressed in a green coat, white corduroy breeches, and
drab gaiters, and sat on an old-fashioned leather sofa, with two
small, thoroughbred, black English terriers, one on each side of
him. He had all the appearance of a genuine old English gentleman
who kept good wine in his cellar.
'Sir,' said I, 'I have brought you a thousand pounds'; and I said
this after the servant had retired, and the two terriers had ceased
the barking which is natural to all such dogs at the sight of a
And when the magistrate had received the money, and signed and
returned a certain paper which I handed to him, he rubbed his
hands, and looking very benignantly at me, exclaimed -
'And now, young gentleman, that our business is over, perhaps you
can tell me where the fight is to take place?'
'I am sorry, sir,' said I, 'that I can't inform you, but everybody
seems to be anxious about it'; and then I told him what had
occurred to me on the road with the alehouse-keeper.
'I know him,' said his worship; 'he's a tenant of mine, and a good
fellow, somewhat too much in my debt though. But how is this,
young gentleman, you look as if you had been walking; you did not
come on foot?'
'Yes, sir, I came on foot.'
'On foot! why it is sixteen miles.'
'I shan't be tired when I have walked back.'
'You can't ride, I suppose?'
'Better than I can walk.'
'Then why do you walk?'
'I have frequently to make journeys connected with my profession;
sometimes I walk, sometimes I ride, just as the whim takes me.'
'Will you take a glass of wine?'
'That's right; what shall it be?'
The magistrate gave a violent slap on his knee; 'I like your
taste,' said he, 'I am fond of a glass of Madeira myself, and can
give you such a one as you will not drink every day; sit down,
young gentleman, you shall have a glass of Madeira, and the best I
Thereupon he got up, and, followed by his two terriers, walked
slowly out of the room.
I looked round the room, and, seeing nothing which promised me much
amusement, I sat down, and fell again into my former train of
thought. 'What is truth?' said I.
'Here it is,' said the magistrate, returning at the end of a
quarter of an hour, followed by the servant with a tray; 'here's
the true thing, or I am no judge, far less a justice. It has been
thirty years in my cellar last Christmas. There,' said he to the
servant, 'put it down, and leave my young friend and me to
ourselves. Now, what do you think of it?'
'It is very good,' said I.
'Did you ever taste better Madeira?'
'I never before tasted Madeira.'
'Then you ask for a wine without knowing what it is?'
'I ask for it, sir, that I may know what it is.'
'Well, there is logic in that, as Parr would say; you have heard of
'Yes, old Parr, but not that Parr; you mean the English, I the
Greek Parr, as people call him.'
'I don't know him.'
'Perhaps not--rather too young for that, but were you of my age,
you might have cause to know him, coming from where you do. He
kept school there, I was his first scholar; he flogged Greek into
me till I loved him--and he loved me: he came to see me last year,
and sat in that chair; I honour Parr--he knows much, and is a sound
'Does he know the truth?'
'Know the truth! he knows what's good, from an oyster to an
ostrich--he's not only sound, but round.'
'Suppose we drink his health?'
'Thank you, boy: here's Parr's health, and Whiter's.'
'Who is Whiter?'
'Don't you know Whiter? I thought everybody knew Reverend Whiter
the philologist, though I suppose you scarcely know what that
means. A man fond of tongues and languages, quite out of your way-
-he understands some twenty; what do you say to that?'
'Is he a sound man?'
'Why, as to that, I scarcely know what to say: he has got queer
notions in his head--wrote a book to prove that all words came
originally from the earth--who knows? Words have roots, and roots
live in the earth; but, upon the whole, I should not call him
altogether a sound man, though he can talk Greek nearly as fast as
'Is he a round man?'
'Ay, boy, rounder than Parr; I'll sing you a song, if you like,
which will let you into his character:-
'Give me the haunch of a buck to eat, and to drink Madeira old,
And a gentle wife to rest with, and in my arms to fold,
An Arabic book to study, a Norfolk cob to ride,
And a house to live in shaded with trees, and near to a river side;
With such good things around me, and blessed with good health
Though I should live for a hundred years, for death I would not
Here's to Whiter's health--so you know nothing about the fight?'
'No, sir; the truth is, that of late I have been very much occupied
with various matters, otherwise I should, perhaps, have been able
to afford you some information--boxing is a noble art.'
'Can you box?'
'I tell you what, my boy; I honour you, and provided your education
had been a little less limited, I should have been glad to see you
here in company with Parr and Whiter; both can box. Boxing is, as
you say, a noble art--a truly English art; may I never see the day
when Englishmen shall feel ashamed of it, or blacklegs and
blackguards bring it into disgrace. I am a magistrate, and, of
course, cannot patronise the thing very openly, yet I sometimes see
a prize fight: I saw the Game Chicken beat Gulley.'
'Did you ever see Big Ben?'
'No; why do you ask?' But here we heard a noise, like that of a
gig driving up to the door, which was immediately succeeded by a
violent knocking and ringing, and after a little time the servant
who had admitted me made his appearance in the room. 'Sir,' said
he, with a certain eagerness of manner, 'here are two gentlemen
waiting to speak to you.'
'Gentlemen waiting to speak to me! who are they?'
'I don't know, sir,' said the servant; 'but they look like sporting
gentlemen, and--and'--here he hesitated; 'from a word or two they
dropped, I almost think that they come about the fight.'
'About the fight!' said the magistrate. 'No; that can hardly be;
however, you had better show them in.'
Heavy steps were now heard ascending the stairs, and the servant
ushered two men into the apartment. Again there was a barking, but
louder than that which had been directed against myself, for here
were two intruders; both of them were remarkable-looking men, but
to the foremost of them the most particular notice may well be
accorded: he was a man somewhat under thirty, and nearly six feet
in height. He was dressed in a blue coat, white corduroy breeches,
fastened below the knee with small golden buttons; on his legs he
wore white lamb's-wool stockings, and on his feet shoes reaching to
the ankles; round his neck was a handkerchief of the blue and
bird's eye pattern; he wore neither whiskers nor moustaches, and
appeared not to delight in hair, that of his head, which was of a
light brown, being closely cropped; the forehead was rather high,
but somewhat narrow; the face neither broad nor sharp, perhaps
rather sharp than broad; the nose was almost delicate; the eyes
were gray, with an expression in which there was sternness blended
with something approaching to feline; his complexion was
exceedingly pale, relieved, however, by certain pock-marks, which
here and there studded his countenance; his form was athletic, but
lean; his arms long. In the whole appearance of the man there was
a blending of the bluff and the sharp. You might have supposed him
a bruiser; his dress was that of one in all its minutiae; something
was wanting, however, in his manner--the quietness of the
professional man; he rather looked like one performing the part--
well--very well--but still performing a part. His companion!--
there, indeed, was the bruiser--no mistake about him: a tall
massive man, with a broad countenance and a flattened nose; dressed
like a bruiser, but not like a bruiser going into the ring; he wore
white-topped boots, and a loose brown jockey coat.
As the first advanced towards the table, behind which the
magistrate sat, he doffed a white castor from his head, and made
rather a genteel bow; looking at me, who sat somewhat on one side,
he gave a kind of nod of recognition.
'May I request to know who you are, gentlemen?' said the
'Sir,' said the man in a deep, but not unpleasant voice, 'allow me
to introduce to you my friend, Mr. -, the celebrated pugilist'; and
he motioned with his hand towards the massive man with the
'And your own name, sir?' said the magistrate.
'My name is no matter,' said the man; 'were I to mention it to you,
it would awaken within you no feeling of interest. It is neither
Kean nor Belcher, and I have as yet done nothing to distinguish
myself like either of those individuals, or even like my friend
here. However, a time may come--we are not yet buried; and
whensoever my hour arrives, I hope I shall prove myself equal to my
destiny, however high -
'Like bird that's bred amongst the Helicons.'
And here a smile half theatrical passed over his features.
'In what can I oblige you, sir?' said the magistrate.
'Well, sir; the soul of wit is brevity; we want a place for an
approaching combat between my friend here and a brave from town.
Passing by your broad acres this fine morning we saw a pightle,
which we deemed would suit. Lend us that pightle, and receive our
thanks; 'twould be a favour, though not much to grant: we neither
ask for Stonehenge nor for Tempe.'
My friend looked somewhat perplexed; after a moment, however, he
said, with a firm but gentlemanly air, 'Sir, I am sorry that I
cannot comply with your request.'
'Not comply!' said the man, his brow becoming dark as midnight; and
with a hoarse and savage tone, 'Not comply! why not?'
'It is impossible, sir; utterly impossible!'
'I am not compelled to give my reasons to you, sir, nor to any
'Let me beg of you to alter your decision,' said the man, in a tone
of profound respect.
'Utterly impossible, sir; I am a magistrate.'
'Magistrate! then fare ye well, for a green-coated buffer and a
'Sir!' said the magistrate, springing up with a face fiery with
But, with a surly nod to me, the man left the apartment; and in a
moment more the heavy footsteps of himself and his companion were
heard descending the staircase.
'Who is that man?' said my friend, turning towards me.
'A sporting gentleman, well known in the place from which I come.'
'He appeared to know you.'
'I have occasionally put on the gloves with him.'
'What is his name?'
Doubts--Wise king of Jerusalem--Let me see--A thousand years--
Nothing new--The crowd--The hymn--Faith--Charles Wesley--There he
stood--Farewell, brother--Death--Sun, moon, and stars--Wind on the
There was one question which I was continually asking myself at
this period, and which has more than once met the eyes of the
reader who has followed me through the last chapter: 'What is
truth?' I had involved myself imperceptibly in a dreary labyrinth
of doubt, and, whichever way I turned, no reasonable prospect of
extricating myself appeared. The means by which I had brought
myself into this situation may be very briefly told; I had inquired
into many matters, in order that I might become wise, and I had
read and pondered over the words of the wise, so called, till I had
made myself master of the sum of human wisdom; namely, that
everything is enigmatical and that man is an enigma to himself;
thence the cry of 'What is truth?' I had ceased to believe in the
truth of that in which I had hitherto trusted, and yet could find
nothing in which I could put any fixed or deliberate belief--I was,
indeed, in a labyrinth! In what did I not doubt? With respect to
crime and virtue I was in doubt; I doubted that the one was
blamable and the other praiseworthy. Are not all things subjected
to the law of necessity? Assuredly time and chance govern all
things: Yet how can this be? alas!
Then there was myself; for what was I born? Are not all things
born to be forgotten? That's incomprehensible: yet is it not so?
Those butterflies fall and are forgotten. In what is man better
than a butterfly? All then is born to be forgotten. Ah! that was
a pang indeed; 'tis at such a moment that a man wishes to die. The
wise king of Jerusalem, who sat in his shady arbours beside his
sunny fish-pools, saying so many fine things, wished to die, when
he saw that not only all was vanity, but that he himself was
vanity. Will a time come when all will be forgotten that now is
beneath the sun? If so, of what profit is life?
In truth it was a sore vexation of spirit to me when I saw, as the
wise man saw of old, that whatever I could hope to perform must
necessarily be of very temporary duration; and if so, why do it? I
said to myself, whatever name I can acquire, will it endure for
eternity? scarcely so. A thousand years? Let me see! what have I
done already? I have learnt Welsh, and have translated the songs
of Ab Gwilym, some ten thousand lines, into English rhyme; I have
also learnt Danish, and have rendered the old book of ballads cast
by the tempest upon the beach into corresponding English metre.
Good! have I done enough already to secure myself a reputation of a
thousand years? No, no! certainly not; I have not the slightest
ground for hoping that my translations from the Welsh and Danish
will be read at the end of a thousand years. Well, but I am only
eighteen, and I have not stated all that I have done; I have learnt
many other tongues, and have acquired some knowledge even of Hebrew
and Arabic. Should I go on in this way till I am forty, I must
then be very learned; and perhaps, among other things, may have
translated the Talmud, and some of the great works of the Arabians.
Pooh! all this is mere learning and translation, and such will
never secure immortality. Translation is at best an echo, and it
must be a wonderful echo to be heard after the lapse of a thousand
years. No! all I have already done, and all I may yet do in the
same way, I may reckon as nothing--mere pastime; something else
must be done. I must either write some grand original work, or
conquer an empire; the one just as easy as the other. But am I
competent to do either? Yes, I think I am, under favourable
circumstances. Yes, I think I may promise myself a reputation of a
thousand years, if I do but give myself the necessary trouble.
Well! but what's a thousand years after all, or twice a thousand
years? Woe is me! I may just as well sit still.
'Would I had never been born!' I said to myself; and a thought
would occasionally intrude: But was I ever born? Is not all that
I see a lie--a deceitful phantom? Is there a world, and earth, and
sky? Berkeley's doctrine--Spinoza's doctrine! Dear reader, I had
at that time never read either Berkeley or Spinoza. I have still
never read them; who are they, men of yesterday? 'All is a lie--
all a deceitful phantom,' are old cries; they come naturally from
the mouths of those who, casting aside that choicest shield against
madness, simplicity, would fain be wise as God, and can only know
that they are naked. This doubting in the 'universal all' is
almost coeval with the human race: wisdom, so called, was early
sought after. All is a lie--a deceitful phantom--was said when the
world was yet young; its surface, save a scanty portion, yet
untrodden by human foot, and when the great tortoise yet crawled
about. All is a lie, was the doctrine of Buddh; and Buddh lived
thirty centuries before the wise king of Jerusalem, who sat in his
arbours, beside his sunny fish-pools, saying many fine things, and,
amongst others, 'There is nothing new under the sun!'
One day, whilst I bent my way to the heath of which I have spoken
on a former occasion, at the foot of the hills which formed it I
came to a place where a wagon was standing, but without horses, the
shafts resting on the ground; there was a crowd about it, which
extended half-way up the side of the neighbouring hill. The wagon
was occupied by some half a dozen men; some sitting, others
standing--they were dressed in sober-coloured habiliments of black
or brown, cut in a plain and rather uncouth fashion, and partially
white with dust; their hair was short, and seemed to have been
smoothed down by the application of the hand; all were bareheaded--
sitting or standing, all were bareheaded. One of them, a tall man,
was speaking as I arrived; ere, however, I could distinguish what
he was saying, he left off, and then there was a cry for a hymn 'to
the glory of God'--that was the word. It was a strange-sounding
hymn, as well it might be, for everybody joined in it: there were
voices of all kinds, of men, of women, and of children--of those
who could sing and of those who could not--a thousand voices all
joined, and all joined heartily; no voice of all the multitude was
silent save mine. The crowd consisted entirely of the lower
classes, labourers and mechanics, and their wives and children--
dusty people, unwashed people, people of no account whatever, and
yet they did not look a mob. And when that hymn was over--and here
let me observe that, strange as it sounded, I have recalled that
hymn to mind, and it has seemed to tingle in my ears on occasions
when all that pomp and art could do to enhance religious solemnity
was being done--in the Sistine Chapel, what time the papal band was
in full play, and the choicest choristers of Italy poured forth
their mellowest tones in presence of Batuschca and his cardinals--
on the ice of the Neva, what time the long train of stately
priests, with their noble beards and their flowing robes of crimson
and gold, with their ebony and ivory staves, stalked along,
chanting their Sclavonian litanies in advance of the mighty Emperor
of the North and his Priberjensky guard of giants, towards the
orifice through which the river, running below in its swiftness, is
to receive the baptismal lymph: --when the hymn was over, another
man in the wagon proceeded to address the people; he was a much
younger man than the last speaker; somewhat square built and about
the middle height; his face was rather broad, but expressive of
much intelligence, and with a peculiar calm and serious look; the
accent in which he spoke indicated that he was not of these parts,
but from some distant district. The subject of his address was
faith, and how it could remove mountains. It was a plain address,
without any attempt at ornament, and delivered in a tone which was
neither loud nor vehement. The speaker was evidently not a
practised one--once or twice he hesitated as if for words to
express his meaning, but still he held on, talking of faith, and
how it could remove mountains: 'It is the only thing we want,
brethren, in this world; if we have that, we are indeed rich, as it
will enable us to do our duty under all circumstances, and to bear
our lot, however hard it may be--and the lot of all mankind is
hard--the lot of the poor is hard, brethren--and who knows more of
the poor than I?--a poor man myself, and the son of a poor man:
but are the rich better off? not so, brethren, for God is just.
The rich have their trials too: I am not rich myself, but I have
seen the rich with careworn countenances; I have also seen them in
madhouses; from which you may learn, brethren, that the lot of all
mankind is hard; that is, till we lay hold of faith, which makes us
comfortable under all circumstances; whether we ride in gilded
chariots or walk barefooted in quest of bread; whether we be
ignorant, whether we be wise--for riches and poverty, ignorance and
wisdom, brethren, each brings with it its peculiar temptations.
Well, under all these troubles, the thing which I would recommend
you to seek is one and the same--faith; faith in our Lord Jesus
Christ, who made us and allotted to each his station. Each has
something to do, brethren. Do it, therefore, but always in faith;
without faith we shall find ourselves sometimes at fault; but with
faith never--for faith can remove the difficulty. It will teach us
to love life, brethren, when life is becoming bitter, and to prize
the blessings around us; for as every man has his cares, brethren,
so has each man his blessings. It will likewise teach us not to
love life over much, seeing that we must one day part with it. It
will teach us to face death with resignation, and will preserve us
from sinking amidst the swelling of the river Jordan.'
And when he had concluded his address, he said, 'Let us sing a
hymn, one composed by Master Charles Wesley--he was my countryman,
'Jesus, I cast my soul on Thee,
Mighty and merciful to save;
Thou shalt to death go down with me,
And lay me gently in the grave.
This body then shall rest in hope,
This body which the worms destroy;
For Thou shalt surely raise me up
To glorious life and endless joy.'
Farewell, preacher with the plain coat and the calm serious look!
I saw thee once again, and that was lately--only the other day. It
was near a fishing hamlet, by the sea-side, that I saw the preacher
again. He stood on the top of a steep monticle, used by pilots as
a look-out for vessels approaching that coast, a dangerous one,
abounding in rocks and quick-sands. There he stood on the
monticle, preaching to weather-worn fishermen and mariners gathered
below upon the sand. 'Who is he?' said I to an old fisherman who
stood beside me with a book of hymns in his hand; but the old man
put his hand to his lips, and that was the only answer I received.
Not a sound was heard but the voice of the preacher and the roaring
of the waves; but the voice was heard loud above the roaring of the
sea, for the preacher now spoke with power, and his voice was not
that of one who hesitates. There he stood--no longer a young man,
for his black locks were become gray, even like my own; but there
was the intelligent face, and the calm serious look which had
struck me of yore. There stood the preacher, one of those men--
and, thank God, their number is not few--who, animated by the
spirit of Christ, amidst much poverty, and, alas! much contempt,
persist in carrying the light of the Gospel amidst the dark
parishes of what, but for their instrumentality, would scarcely be
Christian England. I would have waited till he had concluded, in
order that I might speak to him, and endeavour to bring back the
ancient scene to his recollection, but suddenly a man came hurrying
towards the monticle, mounted on a speedy horse, and holding by the
bridle one yet more speedy, and he whispered to me, 'Why loiterest
thou here?--knowest thou not all that is to be done before
midnight?' and he flung me the bridle; and I mounted on the horse
of great speed, and I followed the other, who had already galloped
off. And as I departed, I waved my hand to him on the monticle,
and I shouted, 'Farewell, brother! the seed came up at last, after
a long period!' and then I gave the speedy horse his way, and
leaning over the shoulder of the galloping horse, I said, 'Would
that my life had been like his--even like that man's!'
I now wandered along the heath, till I came to a place where,
beside a thick furze, sat a man, his eyes fixed intently on the red
ball of the setting sun.
'That's not you, Jasper?'
'I've not seen you for years.'
'How should you, brother?'
'What brings you here?'
'The fight, brother.'
'Where are the tents?'
'On the old spot, brother.'
'Any news since we parted?'
'Two deaths, brother.'
'Who are dead, Jasper?'
'Father and mother, brother.'
'Where did they die?'
'Where they were sent, brother.'
'And Mrs. Herne?'
'She's alive, brother.'
'Where is she now?'
'In Yorkshire, brother.'
'What is your opinion of death, Mr. Petulengro?' said I, as I sat
down beside him.
'My opinion of death, brother, is much the same as that in the old
song of Pharaoh, which I have heard my grandam sing -
Cana marel o manus chivios ande puv,
Ta rovel pa leste o chavo ta romi.
When a man dies, he is cast into the earth, and his wife and child
sorrow over him. If he has neither wife nor child, then his father
and mother, I suppose; and if he is quite alone in the world, why,
then, he is cast into the earth, and there is an end of the
'And do you think that is the end of a man?'
'There's an end of him, brother, more's the pity.'
'Why do you say so?'
'Life is sweet, brother.'
'Do you think so?'
'Think so!--There's night and day, brother, both sweet things; sun,
moon, and stars, brother, all sweet things; there's likewise a wind
on the heath. Life is very sweet, brother; who would wish to die?'
'I would wish to die--'
'You talk like a gorgio--which is the same as talking like a fool--
were you a Rommany Chal you would talk wiser. Wish to die,
indeed!--A Rommany Chal would wish to live for ever!'
'In sickness, Jasper?'
'There's the sun and stars, brother.'
'In blindness, Jasper?'
'There's the wind on the heath, brother; if I could only feel that,
I would gladly live for ever. Dosta, we'll now go to the tents and
put on the gloves; and I'll try to make you feel what a sweet thing
it is to be alive, brother!'
The flower of the grass--Days of pugilism--The rendezvous--Jews--
Bruisers of England--Winter, spring--Well-earned bays--The fight--
Huge black cloud--Frame of adamant--The storm--Dukkeripens--The
How for everything there is a time and a season, and then how does
the glory of a thing pass from it, even like the flower of the
grass. This is a truism, but it is one of those which are
continually forcing themselves upon the mind. Many years have not
passed over my head, yet, during those which I can recall to
remembrance, how many things have I seen flourish, pass away, and
become forgotten, except by myself, who, in spite of all my
endeavours, never can forget anything. I have known the time when
a pugilistic encounter between two noted champions was almost
considered in the light of a national affair; when tens of
thousands of individuals, high and low, meditated and brooded upon
it, the first thing in the morning and the last at night, until the
great event was decided. But the time is past, and many people
will say, thank God that it is; all I have to say is, that the
French still live on the other side of the water, and are still
casting their eyes hitherward--and that in the days of pugilism it
was no vain blast to say that one Englishman was a match for two of
t'other race; at present it would be a vain boast to say so, for
these are not the days of pugilism.
But those to which the course of my narrative has carried me were
the days of pugilism; it was then at its height, and consequently
near its decline, for corruption had crept into the ring; and how
many things, states and sects among the rest, owe their decline to
this cause! But what a bold and vigorous aspect pugilism wore at
that time! and the great battle was just then coming off: the day
had been decided upon, and the spot--a convenient distance from the
old town; and to the old town were now flocking the bruisers of
England, men of tremendous renown. Let no one sneer at the
bruisers of England--what were the gladiators of Rome, or the bull-
fighters of Spain, in its palmiest days, compared to England's
bruisers? Pity that ever corruption should have crept in amongst
them--but of that I wish not to talk; let us still hope that a
spark of the old religion, of which they were the priests, still
lingers in the breasts of Englishmen. There they come, the
bruisers, from far London, or from wherever else they might chance
to be at the time, to the great rendezvous in the old city; some
came one way, some another: some of tip-top reputation came with
peers in their chariots, for glory and fame are such fair things
that even peers are proud to have those invested therewith by their
sides; others came in their own gigs, driving their own bits of
blood, and I heard one say: 'I have driven through at a heat the
whole hundred and eleven miles, and only stopped to bait twice.'
Oh, the blood-horses of old England! but they, too, have had their
day--for everything beneath the sun there is a season and a time.
But the greater number come just as they can contrive; on the tops
of coaches, for example; and amongst these there are fellows with
dark sallow faces and sharp shining eyes; and it is these that have
planted rottenness in the core of pugilism, for they are Jews, and,
true to their kind, have only base lucre in view.
It was fierce old Cobbett, I think, who first said that the Jews
first introduced bad faith amongst pugilists. He did not always
speak the truth, but at any rate he spoke it when he made that
observation. Strange people the Jews--endowed with every gift but
one, and that the highest, genius divine--genius which can alone
make of men demigods, and elevate them above earth and what is
earthy and grovelling; without which a clever nation--and, who more
clever than the Jews?--may have Rambams in plenty, but never a
Fielding nor a Shakespeare. A Rothschild and a Mendoza, yes--but
never a Kean nor a Belcher.
So the bruisers of England are come to be present at the grand
fight speedily coming off; there they are met in the precincts of
the old town, near the field of the chapel, planted with tender
saplings at the restoration of sporting Charles, which are now
become venerable elms, as high as many a steeple; there they are
met at a fitting rendezvous, where a retired coachman, with one
leg, keeps an hotel and a bowling-green. I think I now see them
upon the bowling-green, the men of renown, amidst hundreds of
people with no renown at all, who gaze upon them with timid wonder.
Fame, after all, is a glorious thing, though it lasts only for a
day. There's Cribb, the champion of England, and perhaps the best
man in England; there he is, with his huge massive figure, and face
wonderfully like that of a lion. There is Belcher, the younger,
not the mighty one, who is gone to his place, but the Teucer
Belcher, the most scientific pugilist that ever entered a ring,
only wanting strength to be, I won't say what. He appears to walk
before me now, as he did that evening, with his white hat, white
greatcoat, thin genteel figure, springy step, and keen, determined
eye. Crosses him, what a contrast! grim, savage Shelton, who has a
civil word for nobody, and a hard blow for anybody--hard! one blow,
given with the proper play of his athletic arm, will unsense a
giant. Yonder individual, who strolls about with his hands behind
him, supporting his brown coat lappets, under-sized, and who looks
anything but what he is, is the king of the light weights, so
called--Randall! the terrible Randall, who has Irish blood in his
veins; not the better for that, nor the worse; and not far from him
is his last antagonist, Ned Turner, who, though beaten by him,
still thinks himself as good a man, in which he is, perhaps, right,
for it was a near thing; and 'a better shentleman,' in which he is
quite right, for he is a Welshman. But how shall I name them all?
they were there by dozens, and all tremendous in their way. There
was Bulldog Hudson, and fearless Scroggins, who beat the conqueror
of Sam the Jew. There was Black Richmond--no, he was not there,
but I knew him well; he was the most dangerous of blacks, even with
a broken thigh. There was Purcell, who could never conquer till
all seemed over with him. There was--what! shall I name thee last?
ay, why not? I believe that thou art the last of all that strong
family still above the sod, where mayst thou long continue--true
piece of English stuff, Tom of Bedford--sharp as Winter, kind as
Hail to thee, Tom of Bedford, or by whatever name it may please
thee to be called, Spring or Winter. Hail to thee, six-foot
Englishman of the brown eye, worthy to have carried a six-foot bow
at Flodden, where England's yeomen triumphed over Scotland's king,
his clans and chivalry. Hail to thee, last of England's bruisers,
after all the many victories which thou hast achieved--true English
victories, unbought by yellow gold; need I recount them? nay, nay!
they are already well known to fame--sufficient to say that
Bristol's Bull and Ireland's Champion were vanquished by thee, and
one mightier still, gold itself, thou didst overcome; for gold
itself strove in vain to deaden the power of thy arm; and thus thou
didst proceed till men left off challenging thee, the
unvanquishable, the incorruptible. 'Tis a treat to see thee, Tom
of Bedford, in thy 'public' in Holborn way, whither thou hast
retired with thy well-earned bays. 'Tis Friday night, and nine by
Holborn clock. There sits the yeoman at the end of his long room,
surrounded by his friends; glasses are filled, and a song is the
cry, and a song is sung well suited to the place; it finds an echo
in every heart--fists are clenched, arms are waved, and the
portraits of the mighty fighting men of yore, Broughton, and Slack,
and Ben, which adorn the walls, appear to smile grim approbation,
whilst many a manly voice joins in the bold chorus:
Here's a health to old honest John Bull,
When he's gone we shan't find such another,
And with hearts and with glasses brim full,
We will drink to old England, his mother.
But the fight! with respect to the fight, what shall I say? Little
can be said about it--it was soon over; some said that the brave
from town, who was reputed the best man of the two, and whose form
was a perfect model of athletic beauty, allowed himself, for lucre
vile, to be vanquished by the massive champion with the flattened
nose. One thing is certain, that the former was suddenly seen to
sink to the earth before a blow of by no means extraordinary power.
Time, time! was called; but there he lay upon the ground apparently
senseless, and from thence he did not lift his head till several
seconds after the umpires had declared his adversary victor.
There were shouts; indeed there's never a lack of shouts to
celebrate a victory, however acquired; but there was also much
grinding of teeth, especially amongst the fighting men from town.
'Tom has sold us,' said they, 'sold us to the yokels; who would
have thought it?' Then there was fresh grinding of teeth, and
scowling brows were turned to the heaven; but what is this? is it
possible, does the heaven scowl too? why, only a quarter of an hour
ago . . . but what may not happen in a quarter of an hour? For
many weeks the weather had been of the most glorious description,
the eventful day, too, had dawned gloriously, and so it had
continued till some two hours after noon; the fight was then over;
and about that time I looked up--what a glorious sky of deep blue,
and what a big fierce sun swimming high above in the midst of that
blue; not a cloud--there had not been one for weeks--not a cloud to
be seen, only in the far west, just on the horizon, something like
the extremity of a black wing; that was only a quarter of an hour
ago, and now the whole northern side of the heaven is occupied by a
huge black cloud, and the sun is only occasionally seen amidst
masses of driving vapour; what a change! but another fight is at
hand, and the pugilists are clearing the outer ring;--how their
huge whips come crashing upon the heads of the yokels; blood flows,
more blood than in the fight; those blows are given with right
good-will, those are not sham blows, whether of whip or fist; it is
with fist that grim Shelton strikes down the big yokel; he is
always dangerous, grim Shelton, but now particularly so, for he has
lost ten pounds betted on the brave who sold himself to the yokels;
but the outer ring is cleared: and now the second fight commences;
it is between two champions of less renown than the others, but is
perhaps not the worse on that account. A tall thin boy is fighting
in the ring with a man somewhat under the middle size, with a frame
of adamant; that's a gallant boy! he's a yokel, but he comes from
Brummagem, and he does credit to his extraction; but his adversary
has a frame of adamant: in what a strange light they fight, but
who can wonder, on looking at that frightful cloud usurping now
one-half of heaven, and at the sun struggling with sulphurous
vapour; the face of the boy, which is turned towards me, looks
horrible in that light, but he is a brave boy, he strikes his foe
on the forehead, and the report of the blow is like the sound of a
hammer against a rock; but there is a rush and a roar overhead, a
wild commotion, the tempest is beginning to break loose; there's
wind and dust, a crash, rain and hail; is it possible to fight
amidst such a commotion? yes! the fight goes on; again the boy
strikes the man full on the brow, but it is of no use striking that
man, his frame is of adamant. 'Boy, thy strength is beginning to
give way, and thou art becoming confused'; the man now goes to
work, amidst rain and hail. 'Boy, thou wilt not hold out ten
minutes longer against rain, hail, and the blows of such an
And now the storm was at its height; the black thunder-cloud had
broken into many, which assumed the wildest shapes and the
strangest colours, some of them unspeakably glorious; the rain
poured in a deluge, and more than one waterspout was seen at no
great distance: an immense rabble is hurrying in one direction; a
multitude of men of all ranks, peers and yokels, prize-fighters and
Jews, and the last came to plunder, and are now plundering amidst
that wild confusion of hail and rain, men and horses, carts and
carriages. But all hurry in one direction, through mud and mire;
there's a town only three miles distant, which is soon reached, and
soon filled, it will not contain one-third of that mighty rabble;
but there's another town farther on--the good old city is farther
on, only twelve miles; what's that! who will stay here? onward to
the old town.
Hurry-skurry, a mixed multitude of men and horses, carts and
carriages, all in the direction of the old town; and, in the midst
of all that mad throng, at a moment when the rain-gushes were
coming down with particular fury, and the artillery of the sky was
pealing as I had never heard it peal before, I felt some one seize
me by the arm--I turned round, and beheld Mr. Petulengro.
'I can't hear you, Mr. Petulengro,' said I; for the thunder drowned
the words which he appeared to be uttering.
'Dearginni,' I heard Mr. Petulengro say, 'it thundreth. I was
asking, brother, whether you believe in dukkeripens?'
'I do not, Mr. Petulengro; but this is strange weather to be asking
me whether I believe in fortunes.'
'Grondinni,' said Mr. Petulengro, 'it haileth. I believe in
'And who has more right,' said I; 'seeing that you live by them?
But this tempest is truly horrible.'
'Dearginni, grondinni ta villaminni! It thundreth, it haileth, and
also flameth,' said Mr. Petulengro. 'Look up there, brother!'
I looked up. Connected with this tempest there was one feature to
which I have already alluded--the wonderful colours of the clouds.
Some were of vivid green; others of the brightest orange; others as
black as pitch. The gypsy's finger was pointed to a particular
part of the sky.
'What do you see there, brother?'
'A strange kind of cloud.'
'What does it look like, brother?'
'Something like a stream of blood.'
'That cloud foreshoweth a bloody dukkeripen.'
'A bloody fortune!' said I. 'And whom may it betide?'
'Who knows!' said the gypsy.
Down the way, dashing and splashing, and scattering man, horse, and
cart to the left and right, came an open barouche, drawn by four
smoking steeds, with postilions in scarlet jackets and leather
skull-caps. Two forms were conspicuous in it; that of the
successful bruiser, and of his friend and backer, the sporting
gentleman of my acquaintance.
'His!' said the gypsy, pointing to the latter, whose stern features
wore a smile of triumph, as, probably recognising me in the crowd,
he nodded in the direction of where I stood, as the barouche
There went the barouche, dashing through the rain-gushes, and in it
one whose boast it was that he was equal to 'either fortune.' Many
have heard of that man--many may be desirous of knowing yet more of
him. I have nothing to do with that man's after life--he fulfilled
his dukkeripen. 'A bad, violent man!' Softly, friend; when thou
wouldst speak harshly of the dead, remember that thou hast not yet
fulfilled thy own dukkeripen!
My father--Premature decay--The easy-chair--A few questions--So you
told me--A difficult language--They can it Haik--Misused
opportunities--Saul--Want of candour--Don't weep--Heaven forgive
me--Dated from Paris--I wish he were here--A father's
reminiscences--Farewell to vanities.
My father, as I have already informed the reader, had been endowed
by nature with great corporeal strength; indeed, I have been
assured that, at the period of his prime, his figure had denoted
the possession of almost Herculean powers. The strongest forms,
however, do not always endure the longest, the very excess of the
noble and generous juices which they contain being the cause of
their premature decay. But, be that as it may, the health of my
father, some few years after his retirement from the service to the
quiet of domestic life, underwent a considerable change; his
constitution appeared to be breaking up; and he was subject to
severe attacks from various disorders, with which, till then, he
had been utterly unacquainted. He was, however, wont to rally,
more or less, after his illnesses, and might still occasionally be
seen taking his walk, with his cane in his hand, and accompanied by
his dog, who sympathised entirely with him, pining as he pined,
improving as he improved, and never leaving the house save in his
company; and in this manner matters went on for a considerable
time, no very great apprehension with respect to my father's state
being raised either in my mother's breast or my own. But, about
six months after the period at which I have arrived in my last
chapter, it came to pass that my father experienced a severer
attack than on any previous occasion.
He had the best medical advice; but it was easy to see, from the
looks of his doctors, that they entertained but slight hopes of his
recovery. His sufferings were great, yet he invariably bore them
with unshaken fortitude. There was one thing remarkable connected
with his illness; notwithstanding its severity, it never confined
him to his bed. He was wont to sit in his little parlour, in his
easy-chair, dressed in a faded regimental coat, his dog at his
feet, who would occasionally lift his head from the hearth-rug on
which he lay, and look his master wistfully in the face. And thus
my father spent the greater part of his time, sometimes in prayer,
sometimes in meditation, and sometimes in reading the Scriptures.
I frequently sat with him, though, as I entertained a great awe for
my father, I used to feel rather ill at ease, when, as sometimes
happened, I found myself alone with him.
'I wish to ask you a few questions,' said he to me one day, after
my mother had left the room.
'I will answer anything you may please to ask me, my dear father.'
'What have you been about lately?'
'I have been occupied as usual, attending at the office at the
'And what do you there?'
'Whatever I am ordered.'
'And nothing else?'
'Oh yes! sometimes I read a book.'
'Connected with your profession?'
'Not always; I have been lately reading Armenian--'
'The language of a people whose country is a region on the other
side of Asia Minor.'
'A region abounding with mountains.'
'Amongst which is Mount Ararat.'
'Upon which, as the Bible informs us, the ark rested.'
'It is the language of the people of those regions--'
'So you told me.'
'And I have been reading the Bible in their language.'
'Or rather, I should say, in the ancient language of these people;
from which I am told the modem Armenian differs considerably.'
'As much as the Italian from the Latin.'
'So I have been reading the Bible in ancient Armenian.'
'You told me so before.'
'I found it a highly difficult language.'
'Differing widely from the languages in general with which I am
'Exhibiting, however, some features in common with them.'
'And sometimes agreeing remarkably in words with a certain strange
wild speech with which I became acquainted--'
'No, father, not Irish--with which I became acquainted by the
greatest chance in the world.'
'But of which I need say nothing farther at present, and which I
should not have mentioned but for that fact.'
'Which I consider remarkable.'
'The Armenian is copious.'
'With an alphabet of thirty-nine letters, but it is harsh and
'Like the language of most mountainous people--the Armenians call
'And themselves, Haik, also; they are a remarkable people, and,
though their original habitation is the Mountain of Ararat, they
are to be found, like the Jews, all over the world.'
'Well, father, that's all I can tell you about the Haiks, or
'And what does it all amount to?'
'Very little, father; indeed, there is very little known about the
Armenians; their early history, in particular, is involved in
'And, if you knew all that it was possible to know about them, to
what would it amount? to what earthly purpose could you turn it?
have you acquired any knowledge of your profession?'
'Very little, father.'
'Very little! Have you acquired all in your power?'
'I can't say that I have, father.'
'And yet it was your duty to have done so. But I see how it is,
you have shamefully misused your opportunities; you are like one
who, sent into the field to labour, passes his time in flinging
stones at the birds of heaven.'
'I would scorn to fling a stone at a bird, father.'
'You know what I mean, and all too well, and this attempt to evade
deserved reproof by feigned simplicity is quite in character with
your general behaviour. I have ever observed about you a want of
frankness, which has distressed me; you never speak of what you are
about, your hopes, or your projects, but cover yourself with
mystery. I never knew till the present moment that you were
acquainted with Armenian.'
'Because you never asked me, father; there's nothing to conceal in
the matter--I will tell you in a moment how I came to learn
Armenian. A lady whom I met at one of Mrs. -'s parties took a
fancy to me, and has done me the honour to allow me to go and see
her sometimes. She is the widow of a rich clergyman, and on her
husband's death came to this place to live, bringing her husband's
library with her: I soon found my way to it, and examined every
book. Her husband must have been a learned man, for amongst much
Greek and Hebrew I found several volumes in Armenian, or relating
to the language.'
'And why did you not tell me of this before?'
'Because you never questioned me; but, I repeat, there is nothing
to conceal in the matter. The lady took a fancy to me, and, being
fond of the arts, drew my portrait; she said the expression of my
countenance put her in mind of Alfieri's Saul.'
'And do you still visit her?'
'No, she soon grew tired of me, and told people that she found me
very stupid; she gave me the Armenian books, however.'
'Saul,' said my father, musingly, 'Saul. I am afraid she was only
too right there; he disobeyed the commands of his master, and
brought down on his head the vengeance of Heaven--he became a
maniac, prophesied, and flung weapons about him.'
'He was, indeed, an awful character--I hope I shan't turn out like
'God forbid!' said my father, solemnly; 'but in many respects you
are headstrong and disobedient like him. I placed you in a
profession, and besought you to make yourself master of it by
giving it your undivided attention. This, however, you did not do,
you know nothing of it, but tell me that you are acquainted with
Armenian; but what I dislike most is your want of candour--you are
my son, but I know little of your real history, you may know fifty
things for what I am aware: you may know how to shoe a horse for
what I am aware.'
'Not only to shoe a horse, father, but to make horse-shoes.'
'Perhaps so,' said my father; 'and it only serves to prove what I
was just saying, that I know little about you.'
'But you easily may, my dear father; I will tell you anything that
you may wish to know--shall I inform you how I learnt to make
'No,' said my father; 'as you kept it a secret so long, it may as
well continue so still. Had you been a frank, open-hearted boy,
like one I could name, you would have told me all about it of your
own accord. But I now wish to ask you a serious question--what do
you propose to do?'
'To do, father?'
'Yes! the time for which you were articled to your profession will
soon be expired, and I shall be no more.'
'Do not talk so, my dear father; I have no doubt that you will soon
'Do not flatter yourself; I feel that my days are numbered, I am
soon going to my rest, and I have need of rest, for I am weary.
There, there, don't weep! Tears will help me as little as they
will you; you have not yet answered my question. Tell me what you
intend to do?'
'I really do not know what I shall do.'
'The military pension which I enjoy will cease with my life. The
property which I shall leave behind me will be barely sufficient
for the maintenance of your mother respectably. I again ask you
what you intend to do. Do you think you can support yourself by
your Armenian or your other acquirements?'
'Alas! I think little at all about it; but I suppose I must push
into the world, and make a good fight, as becomes the son of him
who fought Big Ben; if I can't succeed, and am driven to the worst,
it is but dying--'
'What do you mean by dying?'
'Leaving the world; my loss would scarcely be felt. I have never
held life in much value, and every one has a right to dispose as he
thinks best of that which is his own.'
'Ah! now I understand you; and well I know how and where you
imbibed that horrible doctrine, and many similar ones which I have
heard from your mouth; but I wish not to reproach you--I view in
your conduct a punishment for my own sins, and I bow to the will of
God. Few and evil have been my days upon the earth; little have I
done to which I can look back with satisfaction. It is true I have
served my king fifty years, and I have fought with--Heaven forgive
me, what was I about to say!--but you mentioned the man's name, and
our minds willingly recall our ancient follies. Few and evil have
been my days upon earth, I may say with Jacob of old, though I do
not mean to say that my case is so hard as his; he had many
undutiful children, whilst I have only -; but I will not reproach
you. I have also like him a son to whom I can look with hope, who
may yet preserve my name when I am gone, so let me be thankful;
perhaps, after all, I have not lived in vain. Boy, when I am gone,
look up to your brother, and may God bless you both! There, don't
weep; but take the Bible, and read me something about the old man
and his children.'
My brother had now been absent for the space of three years. At
first his letters had been frequent, and from them it appeared that
he was following his profession in London with industry; they then
became rather rare, and my father did not always communicate their
contents. His last letter, however, had filled him and our whole
little family with joy; it was dated from Paris, and the writer was
evidently in high spirits. After describing in eloquent terms the
beauties and gaieties of the French capital, he informed us how he
had plenty of money, having copied a celebrated picture of one of
the Italian masters for a Hungarian nobleman, for which he had
received a large sum. 'He wishes me to go with him to Italy,'
added he, 'but I am fond of independence; and, if ever I visit old
Rome, I will have no patrons near me to distract my attention.'
But six months had now elapsed from the date of this letter, and we
had heard no further intelligence of my brother. My father's
complaint increased; the gout, his principal enemy, occasionally
mounted high up in his system, and we had considerable difficulty
in keeping it from the stomach, where it generally proves fatal. I
now devoted almost the whole of my time to my father, on whom his
faithful partner also lavished every attention and care. I read
the Bible to him, which was his chief delight; and also
occasionally such other books as I thought might prove entertaining
to him. His spirits were generally rather depressed. The absence
of my brother appeared to prey upon his mind. 'I wish he were
here,' he would frequently exclaim; 'I can't imagine what can have
become of him; I trust, however, he will arrive in time.' He still
sometimes rallied, and I took advantage of those moments of
comparative ease to question him upon the events of his early life.
My attentions to him had not passed unnoticed, and he was kind,
fatherly, and unreserved. I had never known my father so
entertaining as at these moments, when his life was but too
evidently drawing to a close. I had no idea that he knew and had
seen so much; my respect for him increased, and I looked upon him
almost with admiration. His anecdotes were in general highly
curious; some of them related to people in the highest stations,
and to men whose names were closely connected with some of the
brightest glories of our native land. He had frequently conversed-
-almost on terms of familiarity--with good old George. He had
known the conqueror of Tippoo Saib; and was the friend of
Townshend, who, when Wolfe fell, led the British grenadiers against
the shrinking regiments of Montcalm. 'Pity,' he added, 'that when
old--old as I am now--he should have driven his own son mad by
robbing him of his plighted bride; but so it was; he married his
son's bride. I saw him lead her to the altar; if ever there was an
angelic countenance, it was that girl's; she was almost too fair to
be one of the daughters of women. Is there anything, boy, that you
would wish to ask me? now is the time.'
'Yes, father; there is one about whom I would fain question you.'
'Who is it? shall I tell you about Elliot?'
'No, father, not about Elliot; but pray don't be angry; I should
like to know something about Big Ben.'
'You are a strange lad,' said my father; 'and, though of late I
have begun to entertain a more favourable opinion than heretofore,
there is still much about you that I do not understand. Why do you
bring up that name? Don't you know that it is one of my
temptations: you wish to know something about him. Well! I will
oblige you this once, and then farewell to such vanities--something
about him. I will tell you--his--skin when he flung off his
clothes--and he had a particular knack in doing so--his skin, when
he bared his mighty chest and back for combat; and when he fought
he stood, so . . . . if I remember right--his skin, I say, was
brown and dusky as that of a toad. Oh me! I wish my elder son was
My brother's arrival--The interview--Night--A dying father--Christ.
At last my brother arrived; he looked pale and unwell; I met him at
the door. 'You have been long absent,' said I.
'Yes,' said he, 'perhaps too long; but how is my father?'
'Very poorly,' said I, 'he has had a fresh attack; but where have
you been of late?'
'Far and wide,' said my brother; 'but I can't tell you anything
now, I must go to my father. It was only by chance that I heard of
'Stay a moment,' said I. 'Is the world such a fine place as you
supposed it to be before you went away?'
'Not quite,' said my brother, 'not quite; indeed I wish--but ask me
no questions now, I must hasten to my father.' There was another
question on my tongue, but I forbore; for the eyes of the young man
were full of tears. I pointed with my finger, and the young man
hastened past me to the arms of his father.
I forbore to ask my brother whether he had been to old Rome.
What passed between my father and brother I do not know; the
interview, no doubt, was tender enough, for they tenderly loved
each other; but my brother's arrival did not produce the beneficial
effect upon my father which I at first hoped it would; it did not
even appear to have raised his spirits. He was composed enough,
however: 'I ought to be grateful,' said he; 'I wished to see my
son, and God has granted me my wish; what more have I to do now
than to bless my little family and go?'
My father's end was evidently at hand.
And did I shed no tears? did I breathe no sighs? did I never wring
my hands at this period? the reader will perhaps be asking.
Whatever I did and thought is best known to God and myself; but it
will be as well to observe, that it is possible to feel deeply, and
yet make no outward sign.
And now for the closing scene.
At the dead hour of night, it might be about two, I was awakened
from sleep by a cry which sounded from the room immediately below
that in which I slept. I knew the cry, it was the cry of my
mother; and I also knew its import, yet I made no effort to rise,
for I was for the moment paralysed. Again the cry sounded, yet
still I lay motionless--the stupidity of horror was upon me. A
third time, and it was then that, by a violent effort, bursting the
spell which appeared to bind me, I sprang from the bed and rushed
downstairs. My mother was running wildly about the room; she had
awoke, and found my father senseless in the bed by her side. I
essayed to raise him, and after a few efforts supported him in the
bed in a sitting posture. My brother now rushed in, and, snatching
up a light that was burning, he held it to my father's face. 'The
surgeon, the surgeon!' he cried; then, dropping the light, he ran
out of the room followed by my mother; I remained alone, supporting
the senseless form of my father; the light had been extinguished by
the fall, and an almost total darkness reigned in the room. The
form pressed heavily against my bosom--at last methought it moved.
Yes, I was right, there was a heaving of the breast, and then a
gasping. Were those words which I heard? Yes, they were words,
low and indistinct at first, and then audible. The mind of the
dying man was reverting to former scenes. I heard him mention
names which I had often heard him mention before. It was an awful
moment; I felt stupefied, but I still contrived to support my dying
father. There was a pause, again my father spoke: I heard him
speak of Minden, and of Meredith, the old Minden sergeant, and then
he uttered another name, which at one period of his life was much
in his lips, the name of . . . but this is a solemn moment! There
was a deep gasp: I shook, and thought all was over; but I was
mistaken--my father moved, and revived for a moment; he supported
himself in bed without my assistance. I make no doubt that for a
moment he was perfectly sensible, and it was then that, clasping
his hands, he uttered another name clearly, distinctly--it was the
name of Christ. With that name upon his lips, the brave old
soldier sank back upon my bosom, and, with his hands still clasped,
yielded up his soul.
The greeting--Queer figure--Cheer up--The cheerful fire--It will
do--The sally forth--Trepidation--Let him come in.
'One-and-ninepence, sir, or the things which you have brought with
you will be taken away from you!'
Such were the first words which greeted my ears, one damp misty
morning in March, as I dismounted from the top of a coach in the
yard of a London inn.
I turned round, for I felt that the words were addressed to myself.
Plenty of people were in the yard--porters, passengers, coachmen,
hostlers, and others, who appeared to be intent on anything but
myself, with the exception of one individual, whose business
appeared to lie with me, and who now confronted me at the distance
of about two yards.
I looked hard at the man--and a queer kind of individual he was to
look at--a rakish figure, about thirty, and of the middle size,
dressed in a coat smartly cut, but threadbare, very tight
pantaloons of blue stuff, tied at the ankles, dirty white stockings
and thin shoes, like those of a dancing-master; his features were
not ugly, but rather haggard, and he appeared to owe his complexion
less to nature than carmine; in fact, in every respect, a very
'One-and-ninepence, sir, or your things will be taken away from
you!' he said, in a kind of lisping tone, coming yet nearer to me.
I still remained staring fixedly at him, but never a word answered.
Our eyes met; whereupon he suddenly lost the easy impudent air
which he before wore. He glanced, for a moment, at my fist, which
I had by this time clenched, and his features became yet more
haggard; he faltered; a fresh 'one-and-ninepence,' which he was
about to utter, died on his lips; he shrank back, disappeared
behind a coach, and I saw no more of him.
'One-and-ninepence, or my things will be taken away from me!' said
I to myself, musingly, as I followed the porter to whom I had
delivered my scanty baggage; 'am I to expect many of these
greetings in the big world? Well, never mind! I think I know the
counter-sign!' And I clenched my fist yet harder than before.
So I followed the porter, through the streets of London, to a
lodging which had been prepared for me by an acquaintance. The
morning, as I have before said, was gloomy, and the streets through
which I passed were dank and filthy; the people, also, looked dank
and filthy; and so, probably, did I, for the night had been rainy,
and I had come upwards of a hundred miles on the top of a coach; my
heart had sunk within me, by the time we reached a dark narrow
street, in which was the lodging.
'Cheer up, young man,' said the porter, 'we shall have a fine
And presently I found myself in the lodging which had been prepared
for me. It consisted of a small room, up two pair of stairs, in
which I was to sit, and another still smaller above it, in which I
was to sleep. I remember that I sat down, and looked disconsolate
about me--everything seemed so cold and dingy. Yet how little is
required to make a situation--however cheerless at first sight--
cheerful and comfortable. The people of the house, who looked
kindly upon me, lighted a fire in the dingy grate; and, then, what
a change!--the dingy room seemed dingy no more! Oh the luxury of a
cheerful fire after a chill night's journey! I drew near to the
blazing grate, rubbed my hands, and felt glad.
And, when I had warmed myself, I turned to the table, on which, by
this time, the people of the house had placed my breakfast; and I
ate and I drank; and, as I ate and drank, I mused within myself,
and my eyes were frequently directed to a small green box, which
constituted part of my luggage, and which, with the rest of my
things, stood in one corner of the room, till at last, leaving my
breakfast unfinished, I rose, and, going to the box, unlocked it,
and took out two or three bundles of papers tied with red tape,
and, placing them on the table, I resumed my seat and my breakfast,
my eyes intently fixed upon the bundles of papers all the time.
And when I had drained the last cup of tea out of a dingy teapot,
and ate the last slice of the dingy loaf, I untied one of the
bundles, and proceeded to look over the papers, which were closely
written over in a singular hand, and I read for some time, till at
last I said to myself, 'It will do.' And then I looked at the
other bundle for some time without untying it; and at last I said,
'It will do also.' And then I turned to the fire, and, putting my
feet against the sides of the grate, I leaned back on my chair,
and, with my eyes upon the fire, fell into deep thought.
And there I continued in thought before the fire, until my eyes
closed, and I fell asleep; which was not to be wondered at, after
the fatigue and cold which I had lately undergone on the coach-top;
and, in my sleep, I imagined myself still there, amidst darkness
and rain, hurrying now over wild heaths, and now along roads
overhung with thick and umbrageous trees, and sometimes methought I
heard the horn of the guard, and sometimes the voice of the
coachman, now chiding, now encouraging his horses, as they toiled
through the deep and miry ways. At length a tremendous crack of a
whip saluted the tympanum of my ear, and I started up broad awake,
nearly oversetting the chair on which I reclined--and lo! I was in
the dingy room before the fire, which was by this time half
extinguished. In my dream I had confounded the noise of the street
with those of my night journey; the crack which had aroused me I
soon found proceeded from the whip of a carter, who, with many
oaths, was flogging his team below the window.
Looking at a clock which stood upon the mantelpiece, I perceived
that it was past eleven; whereupon I said to myself, 'I am wasting
my time foolishly and unprofitably, forgetting that I am now in the
big world, without anything to depend upon save my own exertions';
and then I adjusted my dress, and, locking up the bundle of papers
which I had not read, I tied up the other, and, taking it under my
arm, I went downstairs; and, after asking a question or two of the
people of the house, I sallied forth into the street with a
determined look, though at heart I felt somewhat timorous at the
idea of venturing out alone into the mazes of the mighty city, of
which I had heard much, but of which, of my own knowledge, I knew
I had, however, no great cause for anxiety in the present instance;
I easily found my way to the place which I was in quest of--one of
the many new squares on the northern side of the metropolis, and
which was scarcely ten minutes' walk from the street in which I had
taken up my abode. Arriving before the door of a tolerably large
house which bore a certain number, I stood still for a moment in a
kind of trepidation, looking anxiously at the door; I then slowly
passed on till I came to the end of the square, where I stood
still, and pondered for a while. Suddenly, however, like one who
has formed a resolution, I clenched my right hand, flinging my hat
somewhat on one side, and, turning back with haste to the door
before which I had stopped, I sprang up the steps, and gave a loud
rap, ringing at the same time the bell of the area. After the
lapse of a minute the door was opened by a maid-servant of no very
cleanly or prepossessing appearance, of whom I demanded, in a tone
of some hauteur, whether the master of the house was at home.
Glancing for a moment at the white paper bundle beneath my arm, the
handmaid made no reply in words, but, with a kind of toss of her
head, flung the door open, standing on one side as if to let me
enter. I did enter; and the hand-maid, having opened another door
on the right hand, went in, and said something which I could not
hear: after a considerable pause, however, I heard the voice of a
man say, 'Let him come in'; whereupon the handmaid, coming out,
motioned me to enter, and, on my obeying, instantly closed the door
The sinister glance--Excellent correspondent--Quite original--My
system--A losing trade--Merit--Starting a Review--What have you
got?--Stop!--Dairyman's Daughter--Oxford principles--More
conversation--How is this?
There were two individuals in the room in which I now found myself;
it was a small study, surrounded with bookcases, the window looking
out upon the square. Of these individuals he who appeared to be
the principal stood with his back to the fireplace. He was a tall
stout man, about sixty, dressed in a loose morning gown. The
expression of his countenance would have been bluff but for a
certain sinister glance, and his complexion might have been called
rubicund but for a considerable tinge of bilious yellow. He eyed
me askance as I entered. The other, a pale, shrivelled-looking
person, sat at a table apparently engaged with an account-book; he
took no manner of notice of me, never once lifting his eyes from
the page before him.
'Well, sir, what is your pleasure?' said the big man, in a rough
tone, as I stood there, looking at him wistfully--as well I might--
for upon that man, at the time of which I am speaking, my
principal, I may say my only, hopes rested.
'Sir,' said I, 'my name is so-and-so, and I am the bearer of a
letter to you from Mr. so-and-so, an old friend and correspondent
The countenance of the big man instantly lost the suspicious and
lowering expression which it had hitherto exhibited; he strode
forward, and, seizing me by the hand, gave me a violent squeeze.
'My dear sir,' said he, 'I am rejoiced to see you in London. I
have been long anxious for the pleasure--we are old friends, though
we have never before met. Taggart,' said he to the man who sat at
the desk, 'this is our excellent correspondent, the friend and
pupil of our other excellent correspondent.'
The pale, shrivelled-looking man slowly and deliberately raised his
head from the account-book, and surveyed me for a moment or two;
not the slightest emotion was observable in his countenance. It
appeared to me, however, that I could detect a droll twinkle in his
eye: his curiosity, if he had any, was soon gratified; he made me
a kind of bow, pulled out a snuff-box, took a pinch of snuff, and
again bent his head over the page.
'And now, my dear sir,' said the big man, 'pray sit down, and tell
me the cause of your visit. I hope you intend to remain here a day
'More than that,' said I, 'I am come to take up my abode in
'Glad to hear it; and what have you been about of late? got
anything which will suit me? Sir, I admire your style of writing,
and your manner of thinking; and I am much obliged to my good
friend and correspondent for sending me some of your productions.
I inserted them all, and wished there had been more of them--quite
original, sir, quite: took with the public, especially the essay
about the non-existence of anything. I don't exactly agree with
you though; I have my own peculiar ideas about matter--as you know,
of course, from the book I have published. Nevertheless, a very
pretty piece of speculative philosophy--no such thing as matter--
impossible that there should be--ex nihilo--what is the Greek? I
have forgot--very pretty indeed; very original.'
'I am afraid, sir, it was very wrong to write such trash, and yet
more to allow it to be published.'
'Trash! not at all; a very pretty piece of speculative philosophy;
of course you were wrong in saying there is no world. The world
must exist, to have the shape of a pear; and that the world is
shaped like a pear, and not like an apple, as the fools of Oxford
say, I have satisfactorily proved in my book. Now, if there were
no world, what would become of my system? But what do you propose
to do in London?'
'Here is the letter, sir,' said I, 'of our good friend, which I
have not yet given to you; I believe it will explain to you the
circumstances under which I come.'
He took the letter, and perused it with attention. 'Hem!' said he,
with a somewhat altered manner, 'my friend tells me that you are
come up to London with the view of turning your literary talents to
account, and desires me to assist you in my capacity of publisher
in bringing forth two or three works which you have prepared. My
good friend is perhaps not aware that for some time past I have
given up publishing--was obliged to do so--had many severe losses--
do nothing at present in that line, save sending out the Magazine
once a month; and, between ourselves, am thinking of disposing of
that--wish to retire--high time at my age--so you see--'
'I am very sorry, sir, to hear that you cannot assist me' (and I
remember that I felt very nervous); 'I had hoped--'
'A losing trade, I assure you, sir; literature is a drug. Taggart,
what o'clock is?'
'Well, sir!' said I, rising, 'as you cannot assist me, I will now
take my leave; I thank you sincerely for your kind reception, and
will trouble you no longer.'
'Oh, don't go. I wish to have some further conversation with you;
and perhaps I may hit upon some plan to benefit you. I honour
merit, and always make a point to encourage it when I can; but--
Taggart, go to the bank, and tell them to dishonour the bill twelve
months after date for thirty pounds which becomes due to-morrow. I
am dissatisfied with that fellow who wrote the fairy tales, and
intend to give him all the trouble in my power. Make haste.'
Taggart did not appear to be in any particular haste. First of
all, he took a pinch of snuff, then, rising from his chair, slowly
and deliberately drew his wig, for he wore a wig of a brown colour,
rather more over his forehead than it had previously been, buttoned
his coat, and, taking his hat, and an umbrella which stood in a
corner, made me a low bow, and quitted the room.
'Well, sir, where were we? Oh, I remember, we were talking about
merit. Sir, I always wish to encourage merit, especially when it
comes so highly recommended as in the present instance. Sir, my
good friend and correspondent speaks of you in the highest terms.
Sir, I honour my good friend, and have the highest respect for his
opinion in all matters connected with literature--rather eccentric
though. Sir, my good friend has done my periodical more good and
more harm than all the rest of my correspondents. Sir, I shall
never forget the sensation caused by the appearance of his article
about a certain personage whom he proved--and I think
satisfactorily--to have been a legionary soldier--rather startling,
was it not? The S- of the world a common soldier, in a marching
regiment--original, but startling; sir, I honour my good friend.'
'So you have renounced publishing, sir,' said I, 'with the
exception of the Magazine?'
'Why, yes; except now and then, under the rose; the old coachman,
you know, likes to hear the whip. Indeed, at the present moment, I
am thinking of starting a Review on an entirely new and original
principle; and it just struck me that you might be of high utility
in the undertaking--what do you think of the matter?'
'I should be happy, sir, to render you any assistance, but I am
afraid the employment you propose requires other qualifications
than I possess; however, I can make the essay. My chief intention
in coming to London was to lay before the world what I had
prepared; and I had hoped by your assistance--'
'Ah! I see, ambition! Ambition is a very pretty thing; but, sir,
we must walk before we run, according to the old saying--what is
that you have got under your arm?'
'One of the works to which I was alluding; the one, indeed, which I
am most anxious to lay before the world, as I hope to derive from
it both profit and reputation.'