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

Lavengro by George Borrow

Part 6 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.

'Well then, dear, here it is,' said she, taking it from under her
cloak; 'read it as long as you like, only get a little farther into
the booth-- Don't sit so near the edge--you might--'

I went deep into the booth, and the apple-woman, bringing her chair
round, almost confronted me. I commenced reading the book, and was
soon engrossed by it; hours passed away, once or twice I lifted up
my eyes, the apple-woman was still confronting me: at last my eyes
began to ache, whereupon I returned the book to the apple-woman,
and, giving her another tanner, walked away.


Decease of the Review--Homer himself--Bread and cheese--Finger and
thumb--Impossible to find--Something grand--Universal mixture--Some
other publisher.

Time passed away, and with it the Review, which, contrary to the
publisher's expectation, did not prove a successful speculation.
About four months after the period of its birth it expired, as all
Reviews must for which there is no demand. Authors had ceased to
send their publications to it, and, consequently, to purchase it;
for I have already hinted that it was almost entirely supported by
authors of a particular class, who expected to see their
publications foredoomed to immortality in its pages. The behaviour
of these authors towards this unfortunate publication I can
attribute to no other cause than to a report which was
industriously circulated, namely, that the Review was low, and that
to be reviewed in it was an infallible sign that one was a low
person, who could be reviewed nowhere else. So authors took
fright; and no wonder, for it will never do for an author to be
considered low. Homer himself has never yet entirely recovered
from the injury he received by Lord Chesterfield's remark that the
speeches of his heroes were frequently exceedingly low.

So the Review ceased, and the reviewing corps no longer existed as
such; they forthwith returned to their proper avocations--the
editor to compose tunes on his piano, and to the task of disposing
of the remaining copies of his Quintilian--the inferior members to
working for the publisher, being to a man dependants of his; one,
to composing fairy tales; another, to collecting miracles of Popish
saints; and a third, Newgate lives and trials. Owing to the bad
success of the Review, the publisher became more furious than ever.
My money was growing short, and I one day asked him to pay me for
my labours in the deceased publication.

'Sir,' said the publisher, 'what do you want the money for?'

'Merely to live on,' I replied; 'it is very difficult to live in
this town without money.'

'How much money did you bring with you to town?' demanded the

'Some twenty or thirty pounds,' I replied.

'And you have spent it already?'

'No,' said I, 'not entirely; but it is fast disappearing.'

'Sir,' said the publisher, 'I believe you to be extravagant; yes,
sir, extravagant!'

'On what grounds do you suppose me to be so?'

'Sir,' said the publisher, 'you eat meat.'

'Yes,' said I, 'I eat meat sometimes; what should I eat?'

'Bread, sir,' said the publisher; 'bread and cheese.'

'So I do, sir, when I am disposed to indulge; but I cannot often
afford it--it is very expensive to dine on bread and cheese,
especially when one is fond of cheese, as I am. My last bread and
cheese dinner cost me fourteenpence. There is drink, sir; with
bread and cheese one must drink porter, sir.'

'Then, sir, eat bread--bread alone. As good men as yourself have
eaten bread alone; they have been glad to get it, sir. If with
bread and cheese you must drink porter, sir, with bread alone you
can, perhaps, drink water, sir.'

However, I got paid at last for my writings in the Review, not, it
is true, in the current coin of the realm, but in certain bills;
there were two of them, one payable at twelve, and the other at
eighteen months after date. It was a long time before I could turn
these bills to any account; at last I found a person who, at a
discount of only thirty per cent, consented to cash them; not,
however, without sundry grimaces, and, what was still more galling,
holding, more than once, the unfortunate papers high in air between
his forefinger and thumb. So ill, indeed, did I like this last
action, that I felt much inclined to snatch them away. I
restrained myself, however, for I remembered that it was very
difficult to live without money, and that, if the present person
did not discount the bills, I should probably find no one else that

But if the treatment which I had experienced from the publisher,
previous to making this demand upon him, was difficult to bear,
that which I subsequently underwent was far more so: his great
delight seemed to consist in causing me misery and mortification;
if, on former occasions, he was continually sending me in quest of
lives and trials difficult to find, he now was continually
demanding lives and trials which it was impossible to find; the
personages whom he mentioned never having lived, nor consequently
been tried. Moreover, some of my best lives and trials which I had
corrected and edited with particular care, and on which I prided
myself no little, he caused to be cancelled after they had passed
through the press. Amongst these was the life of 'Gentleman
Harry.' 'They are drugs, sir,' said the publisher, 'drugs; that
life of Harry Simms has long been the greatest drug in the
calendar--has it not, Taggart?'

Taggart made no answer save by taking a pinch of snuff. The
reader, has, I hope, not forgotten Taggart, whom I mentioned whilst
giving an account of my first morning's visit to the publisher. I
beg Taggart's pardon for having been so long silent about him; but
he was a very silent man--yet there was much in Taggart--and
Taggart had always been civil and kind to me in his peculiar way.

'Well, young gentleman,' said Taggart to me one morning, when we
chanced to be alone a few days after the affair of the cancelling,
'how do you like authorship?'

'I scarcely call authorship the drudgery I am engaged in,' said I.

'What do you call authorship?' said Taggart.

'I scarcely know,' said I; 'that is, I can scarcely express what I
think it.'

'Shall I help you out?' said Taggart, turning round his chair, and
looking at me.

'If you like,' said I.

'To write something grand,' said Taggart, taking snuff; 'to be
stared at--lifted on people's shoulders--'

'Well,' said I, 'that is something like it.'

Taggart took snuff. 'Well,' said he, 'why don't you write
something grand?'

'I have,' said I.

'What?' said Taggart.

'Why,' said I, 'there are those ballads.'

Taggart took snuff.

'And those wonderful versions from Ab Gwilym.'

Taggart took snuff again.

'You seem to be very fond of snuff,' said I, looking at him

Taggart tapped his box.

'Have you taken it long?'

'Three-and-twenty years.'

'What snuff do you take?'

'Universal mixture.'

'And you find it of use?

Taggart tapped his box.

'In what respect?' said I.

'In many--there is nothing like it to get a man through; but for
snuff I should scarcely be where I am now.'

'Have you been long here?'

'Three-and-twenty years.'

'Dear me,' said I; 'and snuff brought you through? Give me a
pinch--pah, I don't like it,' and I sneezed.

'Take another pinch,' said Taggart.

'No,' said I, 'I don't like snuff.'

'Then you will never do for authorship; at least for this kind.'

'So I begin to think--what shall I do?'

Taggart took snuff.

'You were talking of a great work--what shall it be?'

Taggart took snuff.

'Do you think I could write one?'

Taggart uplifted his two forefingers as if to tap, he did not

'It would require time,' said I, with a half sigh.

Taggart tapped his box.

'A great deal of time; I really think that my ballads--'

Taggart took snuff.

'If published, would do me credit. I'll make an effort, and offer
them to some other publisher.'

Taggart took a double quantity of snuff.


Francis Ardry--That won't do, sir--Observe my gestures--I think you
improve--Better than politics--Delightful young Frenchwoman--A
burning shame--Magnificent impudence--Paunch--Voltaire--Lump of

Occasionally I called on Francis Ardry. This young gentleman
resided in handsome apartments in the neighbourhood of a
fashionable square, kept a livery servant, and, upon the whole,
lived in very good style. Going to see him one day, between one
and two, I was informed by the servant that his master was engaged
for the moment, but that, if I pleased to wait a few minutes, I
should find him at liberty. Having told the man that I had no
objection, he conducted me into a small apartment which served as
antechamber to a drawing-room; the door of this last being half
open, I could see Francis Ardry at the farther end, speechifying
and gesticulating in a very impressive manner. The servant, in
some confusion, was hastening to close the door; but, ere he could
effect his purpose, Francis Ardry, who had caught a glimpse of me,
exclaimed, 'Come in--come in by all means'; and then proceeded, as
before, speechifying and gesticulating. Filled with some surprise,
I obeyed his summons.

On entering the room I perceived another individual, to whom
Francis Ardry appeared to be addressing himself; this other was a
short spare man of about sixty; his hair was of badger gray, and
his face was covered with wrinkles--without vouchsafing me a look,
he kept his eye, which was black and lustrous, fixed full on
Francis Ardry, as if paying the deepest attention to his discourse.
All of a sudden, however, he cried with a sharp, cracked voice,
'That won't do, sir; that won't do--more vehemence--your argument
is at present particularly weak; therefore, more vehemence--you
must confuse them, stun them, stultify them, sir'; and, at each of
these injunctions, he struck the back of his right hand sharply
against the palm of the left. 'Good, sir--good!' he occasionally
uttered, in the same sharp, cracked tone, as the voice of Francis
Ardry became more and more vehement. 'Infinitely good!' he
exclaimed, as Francis Ardry raised his voice to the highest pitch;
'and now, sir, abate; let the tempest of vehemence decline--
gradually, sir; not too fast. Good, sir--very good!' as the voice
of Francis Ardry declined gradually in vehemence. 'And now a
little pathos, sir--try them with a little pathos. That won't do,
sir--that won't do,'--as Francis Ardry made an attempt to become
pathetic,--'that will never pass for pathos--with tones and gesture
of that description you will never redress the wrongs of your
country. Now, sir, observe my gestures, and pay attention to the
tone of my voice, sir.'

Thereupon, making use of nearly the same terms which Francis Ardry
had employed, the individual in black uttered several sentences in
tones and with gestures which were intended to express a
considerable degree of pathos, though it is possible that some
people would have thought both the one and the other highly
ludicrous. After a pause, Francis Ardry recommenced imitating the
tones and the gestures of his monitor in the most admirable manner.
Before he had proceeded far, however, he burst into a fit of
laughter, in which I should, perhaps, have joined, provided it were
ever my wont to laugh. 'Ha, ha!' said the other, good-humouredly,
'you are laughing at me. Well, well, I merely wished to give you a
hint; but you saw very well what I meant; upon the whole I think
you improve. But I must now go, having two other pupils to visit
before four.'

Then taking from the table a kind of three-cornered hat, and a cane
headed with amber, he shook Francis Ardry by the hand; and, after
glancing at me for a moment, made me a half bow, attended with a
strange grimace, and departed.

'Who is that gentleman?' said I to Francis Ardry, as soon as were

'Oh, that is--' said Frank, smiling, 'the gentleman who gives me
lessons in elocution.'

'And what need have you of elocution?'

'Oh, I merely obey the commands of my guardians,' said Francis,
'who insist that I should, with the assistance of -, qualify myself
for Parliament; for which they do me the honour to suppose that I
have some natural talent. I dare not disobey them; for, at the
present moment, I have particular reasons for wishing to keep on
good terms with them.'

'But,' said I, 'you are a Roman Catholic; and I thought that
persons of your religion were excluded from Parliament?'

'Why, upon that very thing the whole matter hinges; people of our
religion are determined to be no longer excluded from Parliament,
but to have a share in the government of the nation. Not that I
care anything about the matter; I merely obey the will of my
guardians; my thoughts are fixed on something better than

'I understand you,' said I; 'dog-fighting--well, I can easily
conceive that to some minds dog-fighting--'

'I was not thinking of dog-fighting,' said Francis Ardry,
interrupting me.

'Not thinking of dog-fighting!' I ejaculated.

'No,' said Francis Ardry, 'something higher and much more rational
than dog-fighting at present occupies my thoughts.'

'Dear me,' said I, 'I thought I had heard you say that there was
nothing like it!'

'Like what?' said Francis Ardry.

'Dog-fighting, to be sure,' said I.

'Pooh,' said Francis Ardry; 'who but the gross and unrefined care
anything for dog-fighting? That which at present engages my waking
and sleeping thoughts is love--divine love--there is nothing like
THAT. Listen to me, I have a secret to confide to you.'

And then Francis Ardry proceeded to make me his confidant. It
appeared that he had had the good fortune to make the acquaintance
of the most delightful young Frenchwoman imaginable, Annette La
Noire by name, who had just arrived from her native country with
the intention of obtaining the situation of governess in some
English family; a position which, on account of her many
accomplishments, she was eminently qualified to fill. Francis
Ardry had, however, persuaded her to relinquish her intention for
the present, on the ground that, until she had become acclimated in
England, her health would probably suffer from the confinement
inseparable from the occupation in which she was desirous of
engaging; he had, moreover--for it appeared that she was the most
frank and confiding creature in the world--succeeded in persuading
her to permit him to hire for her a very handsome first floor in
his own neighbourhood, and to accept a few inconsiderable presents
in money and jewellery. 'I am looking out for a handsome gig and
horse,' said Francis Ardry, at the conclusion of his narration; 'it
were a burning shame that so divine a creature should have to go
about a place like London on foot, or in a paltry hackney coach.'

'But,' said I, 'will not the pursuit of politics prevent your
devoting much time to this fair lady?'

'It will prevent me devoting all my time,' said Francis Ardry, 'as
I gladly would; but what can I do? My guardians wish me to qualify
myself for a political orator, and I dare not offend them by a
refusal. If I offend my guardians, I should find it impossible--
unless I have recourse to Jews and money-lenders--to support
Annette; present her with articles of dress and jewellery, and
purchase a horse and cabriolet worthy of conveying her angelic
person through the streets of London.'

After a pause, in which Francis Ardry appeared lost in thought, his
mind being probably occupied with the subject of Annette, I broke
silence by observing, 'So your fellow-religionists are really going
to make a serious attempt to procure their emancipation?'

'Yes,' said Francis Ardry, starting from his reverie; 'everything
has been arranged; even a leader has been chosen, at least for us
of Ireland, upon the whole the most suitable man in the world for
the occasion--a barrister of considerable talent, mighty voice, and
magnificent impudence. With emancipation, liberty, and redress for
the wrongs of Ireland in his mouth, he is to force his way into the
British House of Commons, dragging myself and others behind him--he
will succeed, and when he is in he will cut a figure; I have heard-
-himself, who has heard him speak, say that he will cut a figure.'

'And is--competent to judge?' I demanded.

'Who but he?' said Francis Ardry; 'no one questions his judgment
concerning what relates to elocution. His fame on that point is so
well established, that the greatest orators do not disdain
occasionally to consult him; C- himself, as I have been told, when
anxious to produce any particular effect in the House, is in the
habit of calling in--for a consultation.'

'As to matter, or manner?' said I.

'Chiefly the latter,' said Francis Ardry, 'though he is competent
to give advice as to both, for he has been an orator in his day,
and a leader of the people; though he confessed to me that he was
not exactly qualified to play the latter part--"I want paunch,"
said he.'

'It is not always indispensable,' said I; 'there is an orator in my
town, a hunchback and watchmaker, without it, who not only leads
the people, but the mayor too; perhaps he has a succedaneum in his
hunch: but, tell me, is the leader of your movement in possession
of that which--wants?'

'No more deficient in it than in brass,' said Francis Ardry.

'Well,' said I, 'whatever his qualifications may be, I wish him
success in the cause which he has taken up--I love religious

'We shall succeed,' said Francis Ardry; 'John Bull upon the whole
is rather indifferent on the subject, and then we are sure to be
backed by the Radical party, who, to gratify their political
prejudices, would join with Satan himself.'

'There is one thing,' said I, 'connected with this matter which
surprises me--your own lukewarmness. Yes, making every allowance
for your natural predilection for dog-fighting, and your present
enamoured state of mind, your apathy at the commencement of such a
movement is to me unaccountable.'

'You would not have cause to complain of my indifference,' said
Frank, 'provided I thought my country would be benefited by this
movement; but I happen to know the origin of it. The priests are
the originators, 'and what country was ever benefited by a movement
which owed its origin to them?' so says Voltaire, a page of whom I
occasionally read. By the present move they hope to increase their
influence, and to further certain designs which they entertain both
with regard to this country and Ireland. I do not speak rashly or
unadvisedly. A strange fellow--a half-Italian, half-English
priest,--who was recommended to me by my guardians, partly as a
spiritual, partly as a temporal guide, has let me into a secret or
two; he is fond of a glass of gin and water--and over a glass of
gin and water cold, with a lump of sugar in it, he has been more
communicative, perhaps, than was altogether prudent. Were I my own
master, I would kick him, politics, and religious movements, to a
considerable distance. And now, if you are going away, do so
quickly; I have an appointment with Annette, and must make myself
fit to appear before her.'


Progress--Glorious John--Utterly unintelligible--What a difference.

By the month of October I had, in spite of all difficulties and
obstacles, accomplished about two-thirds of the principal task
which I had undertaken, the compiling of the Newgate lives; I had
also made some progress in translating the publisher's philosophy
into German. But about this time I began to see very clearly that
it was impossible that our connection should prove of long
duration; yet, in the event of my leaving the big man, what other
resource had I--another publisher? But what had I to offer? There
were my ballads, my Ab Gwilym, but then I thought of Taggart and
his snuff, his pinch of snuff. However, I determined to see what
could be done, so I took my ballads under my arm, and went to
various publishers; some took snuff, others did not, but none took
my ballads or Ab Gwilym, they would not even look at them. One
asked me if I had anything else--he was a snuff-taker--I said yes;
and going home, returned with my translation of the German novel,
to which I have before alluded. After keeping it for a fortnight,
he returned it to me on my visiting him, and, taking a pinch of
snuff, told me it would not do. There were marks of snuff on the
outside of the manuscript, which was a roll of paper bound with red
tape, but there were no marks of snuff on the interior of the
manuscript, from which I concluded that he had never opened it.

I had often heard of one Glorious John, who lived at the western
end of the town; on consulting Taggart, he told me that it was
possible that Glorious John would publish my ballads and Ab Gwilym,
that is, said he, taking a pinch of snuff, provided you can see
him; so I went to the house where Glorious John resided, and a
glorious house it was, but I could not see Glorious John--I called
a dozen times, but I never could see Glorious John. Twenty years
after, by the greatest chance in the world, I saw Glorious John,
and sure enough Glorious John published my books, but they were
different books from the first; I never offered my ballads or Ab
Gwilym to Glorious John. Glorious John was no snuff-taker. He
asked me to dinner, and treated me with superb Rhenish wine.
Glorious John is now gone to his rest, but I--what was I going to
say?--the world will never forget Glorious John.

So I returned to my last resource for the time then being--to the
publisher, persevering doggedly in my labour. One day, on visiting
the publisher, I found him stamping with fury upon certain
fragments of paper. 'Sir,' said he, 'you know nothing of German; I
have shown your translation of the first chapter of my Philosophy
to several Germans: it is utterly unintelligible to them.' 'Did
they see the Philosophy?' I replied. 'They did, sir, but they did
not profess to understand English.' 'No more do I,' I replied,
'if that Philosophy be English.'

The publisher was furious--I was silent. For want of a pinch of
snuff, I had recourse to something which is no bad substitute for a
pinch of snuff, to those who can't take it, silent contempt; at
first it made the publisher more furious, as perhaps a pinch of
snuff would; it, however, eventually calmed him, and he ordered me
back to my occupations, in other words, the compilation. To be
brief, the compilation was completed, I got paid in the usual
manner, and forthwith left him.

He was a clever man, but what a difference in clever men!


The old spot--A long history--Thou shalt not steal--No harm--
Education--Necessity--Foam on your lip--Apples and pears--What will
you read?--Metaphor--The fur cap--I don't know him.

It was past midwinter, and I sat on London Bridge, in company with
the old apple-woman: she had just returned to the other side of
the bridge, to her place in the booth where I had originally found
her. This she had done after frequent conversations with me; 'she
liked the old place best,' she said, which she would never have
left but for the terror which she experienced when the boys ran
away with her book. So I sat with her at the old spot, one
afternoon past midwinter, reading the book, of which I had by this
time come to the last pages. I had observed that the old woman for
some time past had shown much less anxiety about the book than she
had been in the habit of doing. I was, however, not quite prepared
for her offering to make me a present of it, which she did that
afternoon; when, having finished it, I returned it to her, with
many thanks for the pleasure and instruction I had derived from its
perusal. 'You may keep it, dear,' said the old woman, with a sigh;
'you may carry it to your lodging, and keep it for your own.'

Looking at the old woman with surprise, I exclaimed, 'Is it
possible that you are willing to part with the book which has been
your source of comfort so long?'

Whereupon the old woman entered into a long history, from which I
gathered that the book had become distasteful to her; she hardly
ever opened it of late, she said, or if she did, it was only to
shut it again; also, that other things which she had been fond of,
though of a widely different kind, were now distasteful to her.
Porter and beef-steaks were no longer grateful to her palate, her
present diet chiefly consisting of tea, and bread and butter.

'Ah,' said I, 'you have been ill, and when people are ill, they
seldom like the things which give them pleasure when they are in
health.' I learned, moreover, that she slept little at night, and
had all kinds of strange thoughts; that as she lay awake many
things connected with her youth, which she had quite forgotten,
came into her mind. There were certain words that came into her
mind the night before the last, which were continually humming in
her ears: I found that the words were, 'Thou shalt not steal.'

On inquiring where she had first heard these words, I learned that
she had read them at school, in a book called the primer; to this
school she had been sent by her mother, who was a poor widow, and
followed the trade of apple-selling in the very spot where her
daughter followed it now. It seems that the mother was a very good
kind of woman, but quite ignorant of letters, the benefit of which
she was willing to procure for her child; and at the school the
daughter learned to read, and subsequently experienced the pleasure
and benefit of letters, in being able to read the book which she
found in an obscure closet of her mother's house, and which had
been her principal companion and comfort for many years of her

But, as I have said before, she was now dissatisfied with the book,
and with most other things in which she had taken pleasure; she
dwelt much on the words, 'Thou shalt not steal'; she had never
stolen things herself, but then she had bought things which other
people had stolen, and which she knew had been stolen; and her dear
son had been a thief, which he perhaps would not have been but for
the example which she set him in buying things from characters, as
she called them, who associated with her.

On inquiring how she had become acquainted with these characters, I
learned that times had gone hard with her; that she had married,
but her husband had died after a long sickness, which had reduced
them to great distress; that her fruit trade was not a profitable
one, and that she had bought and sold things which had been stolen
to support herself and her son. That for a long time she supposed
there was no harm in doing so, as her book was full of entertaining
tales of stealing; but she now thought that the book was a bad
book, and that learning to read was a bad thing; her mother had
never been able to read, but had died in peace, though poor.

So here was a woman who attributed the vices and follies of her
life to being able to read; her mother, she said, who could not
read, lived respectably, and died in peace; and what was the
essential difference between the mother and daughter, save that the
latter could read? But for her literature she might in all
probability have lived respectably and honestly, like her mother,
and might eventually have died in peace, which at present she could
scarcely hope to do. Education had failed to produce any good in
this poor woman; on the contrary, there could be little doubt that
she had been injured by it. Then was education a bad thing?
Rousseau was of opinion that it was; but Rousseau was a Frenchman,
at least wrote in French, and I cared not the snap of my fingers
for Rousseau. But education has certainly been of benefit in some
instances; well, what did that prove, but that partiality existed
in the management of the affairs of the world--if education was a
benefit to some, why was it not a benefit to others? Could some
avoid abusing it, any more than others could avoid turning it to a
profitable account? I did not see how they could; this poor simple
woman found a book in her mother's closet; a book, which was a
capital book for those who could turn it to the account for which
it was intended; a book, from the perusal of which I felt myself
wiser and better, but which was by no means suited to the intellect
of this poor simple woman, who thought that it was written in
praise of thieving; yet she found it, she read it, and--and--I felt
myself getting into a maze; what is right, thought I? what is
wrong? Do I exist? Does the world exist? if it does, every action
is bound up with necessity.

'Necessity!' I exclaimed, and cracked my finger-joints.

'Ah, it is a bad thing,' said the old woman.

'What is a bad thing?' said I.

'Why to be poor, dear.'

'You talk like a fool,' said I, 'riches and poverty are only
different forms of necessity.'

'You should not call me a fool, dear; you should not call your own
mother a fool.'

'You are not my mother,' said I.

'Not your mother, dear?--no, no more I am; but your calling me fool
put me in mind of my dear son, who often used to call me fool--and
you just now looked as he sometimes did, with a blob of foam on
your lip.'

'After all, I don't know that you are not my mother.'

'Don't you, dear? I'm glad of it; I wish you would make it out.'

'How should I make it out? who can speak from his own knowledge as
to the circumstances of his birth? Besides, before attempting to
establish our relationship, it would be necessary to prove that
such people exist.'

'What people, dear?'

'You and I.'

'Lord, child, you are mad; that book has made you so.'

'Don't abuse it,' said I; 'the book is an excellent one, that is,
provided it exists.'

'I wish it did not,' said the old woman; 'but it shan't long; I'll
burn it, or fling it into the river--the voices at night tell me to
do so.'

'Tell the voices,' said I, 'that they talk nonsense; the book, if
it exists, is a good book, it contains a deep moral; have you read
it all?'

'All the funny parts, dear; all about taking things, and the manner
it was done; as for the rest, I could not exactly make it out.'

'Then the book is not to blame; I repeat that the book is a good
book, and contains deep morality, always supposing that there is
such a thing as morality, which is the same thing as supposing that
there is anything at all.'

'Anything at all! Why ain't we here on this bridge, in my booth,
with my stall and my--'

'Apples and pears, baked hot, you would say--I don't know; all is a
mystery, a deep question. It is a question, and probably always
will be, whether there is a world, and consequently apples and
pears; and, provided there be a world, whether that world be like
an apple or a pear.'

'Don't talk so, dear.'

'I won't; we will suppose that we all exist--world, ourselves,
apples, and pears: so you wish to get rid of the book?'

'Yes, dear, I wish you would take it.'

'I have read it, and have no farther use for it; I do not need
books: in a little time, perhaps, I shall not have a place wherein
to deposit myself, far less books.'

'Then I will fling it into the river.'

'Don't do that; here, give it me. Now what shall I do with it? you
were so fond of it.'

'I am so no longer.'

'But how will you pass your time; what will you read?'

'I wish I had never learned to read, or, if I had, that I had only
read the books I saw at school: the primer or the other.'

'What was the other?'

'I think they called it the Bible: all about God, and Job, and

'Ah, I know it.'

'You have read it; is it a nice book--all true?'

'True, true--I don't know what to say; but if the world be true,
and not all a lie, a fiction, I don't see why the Bible, as they
call it, should not be true. By the bye, what do you call Bible in
your tongue, or, indeed, book of any kind? as Bible merely means a

'What do I call the Bible in my language, dear?'

'Yes, the language of those who bring you things.'

'The language of those who DID, dear; they bring them now no
longer. They call me fool, as you did, dear, just now; they call
kissing the Bible, which means taking a false oath, smacking calf-

'That's metaphor,' said I; 'English, but metaphorical; what an odd
language! So you would like to have a Bible,--shall I buy you

'I am poor, dear--no money since I left off the other trade.'

'Well, then, I'll buy you one.'

'No, dear, no; you are poor, and may soon want the money; but if
you can take me one conveniently on the sly, you know--I think you
may, for, as it is a good book, I suppose there can be no harm in
taking it.'

'That will never do,' said I, 'more especially as I should be sure
to be caught, not having made taking of things my trade; but I'll
tell you what I'll do--try and exchange this book of yours for a
Bible; who knows for what great things this same book of yours may

'Well, dear,' said the old woman, 'do as you please; I should like
to see the--what do you call it?--Bible, and to read it, as you
seem to think it true.'

'Yes,' said I, 'seem; that is the way to express yourself in this
maze of doubt--I seem to think--these apples and pears seem to be--
and here seems to be a gentleman who wants to purchase either one
or the other.'

A person had stopped before the apple-woman's stall, and was
glancing now at the fruit, now at the old woman and myself; he wore
a blue mantle, and had a kind of fur cap on his head; he was
somewhat above the middle stature; his features were keen, but
rather hard; there was a slight obliquity in his vision. Selecting
a small apple, he gave the old woman a penny; then, after looking
at me scrutinisingly for a moment, he moved from the booth in the
direction of Southwark.

'Do you know who that man is?' said I to the old woman.

'No,' said she, 'except that he is one of my best customers: he
frequently stops, takes an apple, and gives me a penny; his is the
only piece of money I have taken this blessed day. I don't know
him, but he has once or twice sat down in the booth with two
strange-looking men--Mulattos, or Lascars, I think they call them.'


Bought and exchanged--Quite empty--A new firm--Bibles--Countenance
of a lion--Clap of thunder--A truce with this--I have lost it--
Clearly a right--Goddess of the Mint.

In pursuance of my promise to the old woman, I set about procuring
her a Bible with all convenient speed, placing the book which she
had intrusted to me for the purpose of exchange in my pocket. I
went to several shops, and asked if Bibles were to be had: I found
that there were plenty. When, however, I informed the people that
I came to barter, they looked blank, and declined treating with me;
saying that they did not do business in that way. At last I went
into a shop over the window of which I saw written, 'Books bought
and exchanged': there was a smartish young fellow in the shop,
with black hair and whiskers; 'You exchange?' said I. 'Yes,' said
he, 'sometimes, but we prefer selling; what book do you want?' 'A
Bible,' said I. 'Ah,' said he, 'there's a great demand for Bibles
just now; all kinds of people are become very pious of late,' he
added, grinning at me; 'I am afraid I can't do business with you,
more especially as the master is not at home. What book have you
brought?' Taking the book out of my pocket, I placed it on the
counter: the young fellow opened the book, and inspecting the
title-page, burst into a loud laugh. 'What do you laugh for?' said
I, angrily, and half clenching my fist. 'Laugh!' said the young
fellow; 'laugh! who could help laughing?' 'I could,' said I; 'I
see nothing to laugh at; I want to exchange this book for a Bible.'
'You do?' said the young fellow; 'well, I daresay there are plenty
who would be willing to exchange, that is, if they dared. I wish
master were at home; but that would never do, either. Master's a
family man, the Bibles are not mine, and master being a family man,
is sharp, and knows all his stock; I'd buy it of you, but, to tell
you the truth, I am quite empty here,' said he, pointing to his
pocket, 'so I am afraid we can't deal.'

Whereupon, looking anxiously at the young man, 'What am I to do?'
said I; 'I really want a Bible.'

'Can't you buy one?' said the young man; 'have you no money?'

'Yes,' said I, 'I have some, but I am merely the agent of another;
I came to exchange, not to buy; what am I to do?'

'I don't know,' said the young man, thoughtfully laying down the
book on the counter; 'I don't know what you can do; I think you
will find some difficulty in this bartering job, the trade are
rather precise.' All at once he laughed louder than before;
suddenly stopping, however, he put on a very grave look. 'Take my
advice,' said he; 'there is a firm established in this
neighbourhood which scarcely sells any books but Bibles; they are
very rich, and pride themselves on selling their books at the
lowest possible price; apply to them, who knows but what they will
exchange with you?'

Thereupon I demanded with some eagerness of the young man the
direction to the place where he thought it possible that I might
effect the exchange--which direction the young fellow cheerfully
gave me, and, as I turned away, had the civility to wish me

I had no difficulty in finding the house to which the young fellow
directed me; it was a very large house, situated in a square; and
upon the side of the house was written in large letters, 'Bibles,
and other religious books.'

At the door of the house were two or three tumbrils, in the act of
being loaded with chests, very much resembling tea-chests; one of
the chests falling down, burst, and out flew, not tea, but various
books, in a neat, small size, and in neat leather covers; Bibles,
said I,--Bibles, doubtless. I was not quite right, nor quite
wrong; picking up one of the books, I looked at it for a moment,
and found it to be the New Testament. 'Come, young lad,' said a
man who stood by, in the dress of a porter, 'put that book down, it
is none of yours; if you want a book, go in and deal for one.'

Deal, thought I, deal,--the man seems to know what I am coming
about,--and going in, I presently found myself in a very large
room. Behind a counter two men stood with their backs to a
splendid fire, warming themselves, for the weather was cold.

Of these men one was dressed in brown, and the other was dressed in
black; both were tall men--he who was dressed in brown was thin,
and had a particularly ill-natured countenance; the man dressed in
black was bulky, his features were noble, but they were those of a

'What is your business, young man?' said the precise personage, as
I stood staring at him and his companion.

'I want a Bible,' said I.

'What price, what size?' said the precise-looking man.

'As to size,' said I, 'I should like to have a large one--that is,
if you can afford me one--I do not come to buy.'

'Oh, friend,' said the precise-looking man, 'if you come here
expecting to have a Bible for nothing, you are mistaken--we--'

'I would scorn to have a Bible for nothing,' said I, 'or anything
else; I came not to beg, but to barter; there is no shame in that,
especially in a country like this, where all folks barter.'

'Oh, we don't barter,' said the precise man, 'at least Bibles; you
had better depart.'

'Stay, brother,' said the man with the countenance of a lion, 'let
us ask a few questions; this may be a very important case; perhaps
the young man has had convictions.'

'Not I,' I exclaimed, 'I am convinced of nothing, and with regard
to the Bible--I don't believe--'

'Hey!' said the man with the lion countenance, and there he
stopped. But with that 'Hey' the walls of the house seemed to
shake, the windows rattled, and the porter whom I had seen in front
of the house came running up the steps, and looked into the
apartment through the glass of the door.

There was silence for about a minute--the same kind of silence
which succeeds a clap of thunder.

At last the man with the lion countenance, who had kept his eyes
fixed upon me, said calmly, 'Were you about to say that you don't
believe in the Bible, young man?'

'No more than in anything else,' said I; 'you were talking of
convictions--I have no convictions. It is not easy to believe in
the Bible till one is convinced that there is a Bible.'

'He seems to be insane,' said the prim-looking man; 'we had better
order the porter to turn him out.'

'I am by no means certain,' said I, 'that the porter could turn me
out; always provided there is a porter, and this system of ours be
not a lie, and a dream.'

'Come,' said the lion-looking man, impatiently, 'a truce with this
nonsense. If the porter cannot turn you out, perhaps some other
person can; but to the point--you want a Bible?'

'I do,' said I, 'but not for myself; I was sent by another person
to offer something in exchange for one.'

'And who is that person?'

'A poor old woman, who has had what you call convictions,--heard
voices, or thought she heard them--I forgot to ask her whether they
were loud ones.'

'What has she sent to offer in exchange?' said the man, without
taking any notice of the concluding part of my speech.

'A book,' said I.

'Let me see it.'

'Nay, brother,' said the precise man, 'this will never do; if we
once adopt the system of barter, we shall have all the holders of
useless rubbish in the town applying to us.'

'I wish to see what he has brought,' said the other; 'perhaps
Baxter, or Jewell's Apology, either of which would make a valuable
addition to our collection. Well, young man, what's the matter
with you?'

I stood like one petrified; I had put my hand into my pocket--the
book was gone.

'What's the matter?' repeated the man with the lion countenance, in
a voice very much resembling thunder.

'I have it not--I have lost it!'

'A pretty story, truly,' said the precise-looking man, 'lost it!
You had better retire,' said the other.

'How shall I appear before the party who intrusted me with the
book? She will certainly think that I have purloined it,
notwithstanding all I can say; nor, indeed, can I blame her,--
appearances are certainly against me.'

'They are so--you had better retire.'

I moved towards the door. 'Stay, young man, one word more; there
is only one way of proceeding which would induce me to believe that
you are sincere.'

'What is that?' said I, stopping and looking at him anxiously.

'The purchase of a Bible.'

'Purchase!' said I, 'purchase! I came not to purchase, but to
barter; such was my instruction, and how can I barter if I have
lost the book?'

The other made no answer, and turning away I made for the door; all
of a sudden I started, and turning round, 'Dear me,' said I, 'it
has just come into my head, that if the book was lost by my
negligence, as it must have been, I have clearly a right to make it

No answer.

'Yes,' I repeated, 'I have clearly a right to make it good; how
glad I am! see the effect of a little reflection. I will purchase
a Bible instantly, that is, if I have not lost--' and with
considerable agitation I felt in my pocket.

The prim-looking man smiled: 'I suppose,' said he, 'that he has
lost his money as well as book.'

'No,' said I, 'I have not'; and pulling out my hand I displayed no
less a sum than three half-crowns.

'Oh, noble goddess of the Mint!' as Dame Charlotta Nordenflycht,
the Swede, said a hundred and fifty years ago, 'great is thy power;
how energetically the possession of thee speaks in favour of man's

'Only half-a-crown for this Bible?' said I, putting down the money,
'it is worth three'; and bowing to the man of the noble features, I
departed with my purchase.

'Queer customer,' said the prim-looking man, as I was about to
close the door--'don't like him.'

'Why, as to that, I scarcely know what to say,' said he of the
countenance of a lion.


The pickpocket--Strange rencounter--Drag him along--A great
service--Things of importance--Philological matters--Mother of

A few days after the occurrence of what is recorded in the last
chapter, as I was wandering in the City, chance directed my
footsteps to an alley leading from one narrow street to another in
the neighbourhood of Cheapside. Just before I reached the mouth of
the alley, a man in a greatcoat, closely followed by another,
passed it; and, at the moment in which they were passing, I
observed the man behind snatch something from the pocket of the
other; whereupon, darting into the street, I seized the hindermost
man by the collar, crying at the same time to the other, 'My good
friend, this person has just picked your pocket.'

The individual whom I addressed, turning round with a start,
glanced at me, and then at the person whom I held. London is the
place for strange rencounters. It appeared to me that I recognised
both individuals--the man whose pocket had been picked and the
other; the latter now began to struggle violently; 'I have picked
no one's pocket,' said he. 'Rascal,' said the other, 'you have got
my pocket-book in your bosom.' 'No, I have not,' said the other;
and, struggling more violently than before, the pocket-book dropped
from his bosom upon the ground.

The other was now about to lay hands upon the fellow, who was still
struggling. 'You had better take up your book,' said I; 'I can
hold him.' He followed my advice; and, taking up his pocket-book,
surveyed my prisoner with a ferocious look, occasionally glaring at
me. Yes, I had seen him before--it was the stranger whom I had
observed on London Bridge, by the stall of the old apple-woman,
with the cap and cloak; but, instead of these, he now wore a hat
and greatcoat. 'Well,' said I, at last, 'what am I to do with this
gentleman of ours?' nodding to the prisoner, who had now left off
struggling. 'Shall I let him go?'

'Go!' said the other; 'go! The knave--the rascal; let him go,
indeed! Not so, he shall go before the Lord Mayor. Bring him

'Oh, let me go,' said the other: 'let me go; this is the first
offence, I assure ye--the first time I ever thought to do anything

'Hold your tongue,' said I, 'or I shall be angry with you. If I am
not very much mistaken, you once attempted to cheat me.'

'I never saw you before in all my life,' said the fellow, though
his countenance seemed to belie his words.

'That is not true,' said I; 'you are the man who attempted to cheat
me of one-and-ninepence in the coach-yard, on the first morning of
my arrival in London.'

'I don't doubt it,' said the other; 'a confirmed thief'; and here
his tones became peculiarly sharp; 'I would fain see him hanged--
crucified. Drag him along.'

'I am no constable,' said I; 'you have got your pocket-book,--I
would rather you would bid me let him go.'

'Bid you let him go!' said the other almost furiously, 'I command--
stay, what was I going to say? I was forgetting myself,' he
observed more gently; 'but he stole my pocket-book;--if you did but
know what it contained.'

'Well,' said I, 'if it contains anything valuable, be the more
thankful that you have recovered it; as for the man, I will help
you to take him where you please; but I wish you would let him go.'

The stranger hesitated, and there was an extraordinary play of
emotion in his features: he looked ferociously at the pickpocket,
and, more than once, somewhat suspiciously at myself; at last his
countenance cleared, and, with a good grace, he said, 'Well, you
have done me a great service, and you have my consent to let him
go; but the rascal shall not escape with impunity,' he exclaimed
suddenly, as I let the man go, and starting forward, before the
fellow could escape, he struck him a violent blow on the face. The
man staggered, and had nearly fallen; recovering himself, however,
he said, 'I tell you what, my fellow; if I ever meet you in this
street in a dark night, and I have a knife about me, it shall be
the worse for you; as for you, young man,' said he to me; but,
observing that the other was making towards him, he left whatever
he was about to say unfinished, and, taking to his heels, was out
of sight in a moment.

The stranger and myself walked in the direction of Cheapside, the
way in which he had been originally proceeding; he was silent for a
few moments, at length he said, 'You have really done me a great
service, and I should be ungrateful not to acknowledge it. I am a
merchant; and a merchant's pocket-book, as you perhaps know,
contains many things of importance; but, young man,' he exclaimed,
'I think I have seen you before; I thought so at first, but where I
cannot exactly say: where was it?' I mentioned London Bridge and
the old apple-woman. 'Oh,' said he, and smiled, and there was
something peculiar in his smile, 'I remember now. Do you
frequently sit on London Bridge?' 'Occasionally,' said I; 'that
old woman is an old friend of mine.' 'Friend?' said the stranger,
'I am glad of it, for I shall know where to find you. At present I
am going to 'Change; time, you know, is precious to a merchant.'
We were by this time close to Cheapside. 'Farewell,' said he, 'I
shall not forget this service. I trust we shall soon meet again.'
He then shook me by the hand and went his way.

The next day, as I was seated beside the old woman in the booth,
the stranger again made his appearance, and, after a word or two,
sat down beside me; the old woman was sometimes reading the Bible,
which she had already had two or three days in her possession, and
sometimes discoursing with me. Our discourse rolled chiefly on
philological matters.

'What do you call bread in your language?' said I.

'You mean the language of those who bring me things to buy, or who
did; for, as I told you before, I shan't buy any more; it's no
language of mine, dear--they call bread pannam in their language.'

'Pannam!' said I, 'pannam! evidently connected with, if not derived
from, the Latin panis; even as the word tanner, which signifieth a
sixpence, is connected with, if not derived from, the Latin tener,
which is itself connected with, if not derived from, tawno or
tawner, which, in the language of Mr. Petulengro, signifieth a
sucking child. Let me see, what is the term for bread in the
language of Mr. Petulengro? Morro, or manro, as I have sometimes
heard it called; is there not some connection between these words
and panis? Yes, I think there is; and I should not wonder if
morro, manro, and panis were connected, perhaps derived from, the
same root; but what is that root? I don't know--I wish I did;
though, perhaps, I should not be the happier. Morro--manro! I
rather think morro is the oldest form; it is easier to say morro
than manro. Morro! Irish, aran; Welsh, bara; English, bread. I
can see a resemblance between all the words, and pannam too; and I
rather think that the Petulengrian word is the elder. How odd it
would be if the language of Mr. Petulengro should eventually turn
out to be the mother of all the languages in the world; yet it is
certain that there are some languages in which the terms for bread
have no connection with the word used by Mr. Petulengro,
notwithstanding that those languages, in many other points, exhibit
a close affinity to the language of the horse-shoe master: for
example, bread, in Hebrew, is Laham, which assuredly exhibits
little similitude to the word used by the aforesaid Petulengro. In
Armenian it is--'

'Zhats!' said the stranger, starting up. 'By the Patriarch and the
Three Holy Churches, this is wonderful! How came you to know aught
of Armenian?'


New acquaintance--Wired cases--Bread and wine--Armenian colonies--
Learning without money--What a language--The tide--Your foible--
Learning of the Haiks--Old proverb--Pressing invitation.

Just as I was about to reply to the interrogation of my new-formed
acquaintance, a man with a dusky countenance, probably one of the
Lascars, or Mulattos, of whom the old woman had spoken, came up and
whispered to him, and with this man he presently departed, not
however before he had told me the place of his abode, and requested
me to visit him.

After the lapse of a few days, I called at the house which he had
indicated. It was situated in a dark and narrow street, in the
heart of the City, at no great distance from the Bank. I entered a
counting-room, in which a solitary clerk, with a foreign look, was
writing. The stranger was not at home; returning the next day,
however, I met him at the door as he was about to enter; he shook
me warmly by the hand. 'I am glad to see you,' said he, 'follow
me, I was just thinking of you.' He led me through the counting-
room, to an apartment up a flight of stairs; before ascending,
however, he looked into the book in which the foreign-visaged clerk
was writing, and, seemingly not satisfied with the manner in which
he was executing his task, he gave him two or three cuffs, telling
him at the same time that he deserved crucifixion.

The apartment above stairs, to which he led me, was large, with
three windows, which opened upon the street. The walls were hung
with wired cases, apparently containing books. There was a table
and two or three chairs; but the principal article of furniture was
a long sofa, extending from the door by which we entered to the
farther end of the apartment. Seating himself upon the sofa, my
new acquaintance motioned to me to sit beside him, and then,
looking me full in the face, repeated his former inquiry. 'In the
name of all that is wonderful, how came you to know aught of my

'There is nothing wonderful in that,' said I; 'we are at the
commencement of a philological age, every one studies languages;
that is, every one who is fit for nothing else; philology being the
last resource of dulness and ennui, I have got a little in advance
of the throng, by mastering the Armenian alphabet; but I foresee
the time when every unmarriageable miss, and desperate blockhead,
will likewise have acquired the letters of Mesroub, and will know
the term for bread, in Armenian, and perhaps that for wine.'

'Kini,' said my companion; and that and the other word put me in
mind of the duties of hospitality. 'Will you eat bread and drink
wine with me?'

'Willingly,' said I. Whereupon my companion, unlocking a closet,
produced, on a silver salver, a loaf of bread, with a silver-
handled knife, and wine in a silver flask, with cups of the same
metal. ' I hope you like my fare,' said he, after we had both
eaten and drunk.

'I like your bread,' said I, 'for it is stale; I like not your
wine, it is sweet, and I hate sweet wine.'

'It is wine of Cyprus,' said my entertainer; and, when I found that
it was wine of Cyprus, I tasted it again, and the second taste
pleased me much better than the first, notwithstanding that I still
thought it somewhat sweet. 'So,' said I, after a pause, looking at
my companion, 'you are an Armenian.'

'Yes,' said he, 'an Armenian born in London, but not less an
Armenian on that account. My father was a native of Ispahan, one
of the celebrated Armenian colony which was established there
shortly after the time of the dreadful hunger, which drove the
children of Haik in swarms from their original country, and
scattered them over most parts of the eastern and western world.
In Ispahan he passed the greater portion of his life, following
mercantile pursuits with considerable success. Certain enemies,
however, having accused him to the despot of the place, of using
seditious language, he was compelled to flee, leaving most of his
property behind. Travelling in the direction of the west, he came
at last to London, where he established himself, and where he
eventually died, leaving behind a large property and myself, his
only child, the fruit of a marriage with an Armenian Englishwoman,
who did not survive my birth more than three months.'

The Armenian then proceeded to tell me that he had carried on the
business of his father, which seemed to embrace most matters, from
buying silks of Lascars, to speculating in the funds, and that he
had considerably increased the property which his father had left
him. He candidly confessed that he was wonderfully fond of gold,
and said there was nothing like it for giving a person
respectability and consideration in the world: to which assertion
I made no answer, being not exactly prepared to contradict it.

And, when he had related to me his history, he expressed a desire
to know something more of myself, whereupon I gave him the outline
of my history, concluding with saying, 'I am now a poor author, or
rather philologist, upon the streets of London, possessed of many
tongues, which I find of no use in the world.'

'Learning without money is anything but desirable,' said the
Armenian, 'as it unfits a man for humble occupations. It is true
that it may occasionally beget him friends; I confess to you that
your understanding something of my language weighs more with me
than the service you rendered me in rescuing my pocket-book the
other day from the claws of that scoundrel whom I yet hope to see
hanged, if not crucified, notwithstanding there were in that
pocket-book papers and documents of considerable value. Yes, that
circumstance makes my heart warm towards you, for I am proud of my
language--as I indeed well may be--what a language, noble and
energetic! quite original, differing from all others both in words
and structure.'

'You are mistaken,' said I; 'many languages resemble the Armenian
both in structure and words.'

'For example?' said the Armenian.

'For example,' said I, 'the English.'

'The English!' said the Armenian; 'show me one word in which the
English resembles the Armenian.'

'You walk on London Bridge,' said I.

'Yes,' said the Armenian.

'I saw you look over the balustrade the other morning.'

'True,' said the Armenian.

'Well, what did you see rushing up through the arches with noise
and foam?'

'What was it?' said the Armenian. 'What was it?--you don't mean
the TIDE?'

'Do I not?' said I.

'Well, what has the tide to do with the matter?'

'Much,' said I; 'what is the tide?'

'The ebb and flow of the sea,' said the Armenian.

'The sea itself; what is the Haik word for sea?'

The Armenian gave a strong gasp; then, nodding his head thrice,
'You are right,' said he, 'the English word tide is the Armenian
for sea; and now I begin to perceive that there are many English
words which are Armenian; there is--and -; and there again in
French, there is--and--derived from the Armenian. How strange, how
singular--I thank you. It is a proud thing to see that the
language of my race has had so much influence over the languages of
the world.'

I saw that all that related to his race was the weak point of the
Armenian. I did not flatter the Armenian with respect to his race
or language. 'An inconsiderable people,' said I, 'shrewd and
industrious, but still an inconsiderable people. A language bold
and expressive, and of some antiquity, derived, though perhaps not
immediately, from some much older tongue. I do not think that the
Armenian has had any influence over the formation of the languages
of the world, I am not much indebted to the Armenian for the
solution of any doubts; whereas to the language of Mr. Petulengro--

'I have heard you mention that name before,' said the Armenian;
'who is Mr. Petulengro?'

And then I told the Armenian who Mr. Petulengro was. The Armenian
spoke contemptuously of Mr. Petulengro and his race. 'Don't speak
contemptuously of Mr. Petulengro,' said I, 'nor of anything
belonging to him. He is a dark mysterious personage; all connected
with him is a mystery, especially his language; but I believe that
his language is doomed to solve a great philological problem--Mr.

'You appear agitated,' said the Armenian; 'take another glass of
wine; you possess a great deal of philological knowledge, but it
appears to me that the language of this Petulengro is your foible:
but let us change the subject; I feel much interested in you, and
would fain be of service to you. Can you cast accounts?'

I shook my head.

'Keep books?'

'I have an idea that I could write books,' said I; 'but, as to
keeping them--' and here again I shook my head.

The Armenian was silent some time; all at once, glancing at one of
the wire cases, with which, as I have already said, the walls of
the room were hung, he asked me if I was well acquainted with the
learning of the Haiks. 'The books in these cases,' said he,
'contain the masterpieces of Haik learning.'

'No,' said I; 'all I know of the learning of the Haiks is their
translation of the Bible.'

'You have never read Z-?'

'No,' said I, 'I have never read Z-.'

'I have a plan,' said the Armenian; 'I think I can employ you
agreeably and profitably; I should like to see Z- in an English
dress; you shall translate Z- If you can read the Scriptures in
Armenian, you can translate Z-. He is our Esop, the most acute and
clever of all our moral writers--his philosophy--'

'I will have nothing to do with him,' said I.

'Wherefore?' said the Armenian.

'There is an old proverb,' said I, '"that a burnt child avoids the
fire." I have burnt my hands sufficiently with attempting to
translate philosophy, to make me cautious of venturing upon it
again'; and then I told the Armenian how I had been persuaded by
the publisher to translate his philosophy into German, and what
sorry thanks I had received; 'And who knows,' said I, 'but the
attempt to translate Armenian philosophy into English might he
attended with yet more disagreeable consequences?'

The Armenian smiled. 'You would find me very different from the

'In many points I have no doubt I should,' I replied; 'but at the
present moment I feel like a bird which has escaped from a cage,
and, though hungry, feels no disposition to return. Of what nation
is the dark man below stairs, whom I saw writing at the desk?'

'He is a Moldave,' said the Armenian; 'the dog (and here his eyes
sparkled) deserves to be crucified, he is continually making

The Armenian again renewed his proposition about Z-, which I again
refused, as I felt but little inclination to place myself beneath
the jurisdiction of a person who was in the habit of cuffing those
whom he employed, when they made mistakes. I presently took my
departure; not, however, before I had received from the Armenian a
pressing invitation to call upon him whenever I should feel


What to do--Strong enough--Fame and profit--Alliterative euphony--
Excellent fellow--Listen to me--A plan--Bagnigge Wells.

Anxious thoughts frequently disturbed me at this time with respect
to what I was to do, and how support myself in the Great City. My
future prospects were gloomy enough, and I looked forward and
feared; sometimes I felt half disposed to accept the offer of the
Armenian, and to commence forthwith, under his superintendence, the
translation of the Haik Esop; but the remembrance of the cuffs
which I had seen him bestow upon the Moldavian, when glancing over
his shoulder into the ledger or whatever it was on which he was
employed, immediately drove the inclination from my mind. I could
not support the idea of the possibility of his staring over my
shoulder upon my translation of the Haik Esop, and, dissatisfied
with my attempts, treating me as he had treated the Moldavian
clerk; placing myself in a position which exposed me to such
treatment would indeed be plunging into the fire after escaping
from the frying-pan. The publisher, insolent and overbearing as he
was, whatever he might have wished or thought, had never lifted his
hand against me, or told me that I merited crucifixion.

What was I to do? turn porter? I was strong; but there was
something besides strength required to ply the trade of a porter--a
mind of a particularly phlegmatic temperament, which I did not
possess. What should I do? enlist as a soldier? I was tall enough;
but something besides height is required to make a man play with
credit the part of soldier, I mean a private one--a spirit, if
spirit it can be called, which will not only enable a man to submit
with patience to insolence and abuse, and even to cuffs and kicks,
but occasionally to the lash. I felt that I was not qualified to
be a soldier, at least a private one; far better be a drudge to the
most ferocious of publishers, editing Newgate lives, and writing in
eighteenpenny reviews--better to translate the Haik Esop, under the
superintendence of ten Armenians, than be a private soldier in the
English service; I did not decide rashly--I knew something of
soldiering. What should I do? I thought that I would make a last
and desperate attempt to dispose of the ballads and of Ab Gwilym.

I had still an idea that, provided I could persuade any spirited
publisher to give these translations to the world, I should acquire
both considerable fame and profit; not, perhaps, a world-embracing
fame such as Byron's; but a fame not to be sneered at, which would
last me a considerable time, and would keep my heart from
breaking;--profit, not equal to that which Scott had made by his
wondrous novels, but which would prevent me from starving, and
enable me to achieve some other literary enterprise. I read and
re-read my ballads, and the more I read them the more I was
convinced that the public, in the event of their being published,
would freely purchase, and hail them with the merited applause.
Were not the deeds and adventures wonderful and heart-stirring--
from which it is true I could claim no merit, being but the
translator; but had I not rendered them into English, with all
their original fire? Yes, I was confident I had; and I had no
doubt that the public would say so. And then, with respect to Ab
Gwilym, had I not done as much justice to him as to the Danish
ballads; not only rendering faithfully his thoughts, imagery, and
phraseology, but even preserving in my translation the alliterative
euphony which constitutes one of the most remarkable features of
Welsh prosody? Yes, I had accomplished all this; and I doubted not
that the public would receive my translations from Ab Gwilym with
quite as much eagerness as my version of the Danish ballads. But I
found the publishers as intractable as ever, and to this day the
public has never had an opportunity of doing justice to the glowing
fire of my ballad versification, and the alliterative euphony of my
imitations of Ab Gwilym.

I had not seen Francis Ardry since the day I had seen him taking
lessons in elocution. One afternoon as I was seated at my table,
my head resting on my hands, he entered my apartment; sitting down,
he inquired of me why I had not been to see him.

'I might ask the same question of you,' I replied. 'Wherefore have
you not been to see me?' Whereupon Francis Ardry told me that he
had been much engaged in his oratorical exercises, also in
escorting the young Frenchwoman about to places of public
amusement; he then again questioned me as to the reason of my not
having been to see him.

I returned an evasive answer. The truth was, that for some time
past my appearance, owing to the state of my finances, had been
rather shabby; and I did not wish to expose a fashionable young man
like Francis Ardry, who lived in a fashionable neighbourhood, to
the imputation of having a shabby acquaintance. I was aware that
Francis Ardry was an excellent fellow; but, on that very account, I
felt, under existing circumstances, a delicacy in visiting him.

It is very possible that he had an inkling of how matters stood, as
he presently began to talk of my affairs and prospects. I told him
of my late ill success with the booksellers, and inveighed against
their blindness to their own interest in refusing to publish my
translations. 'The last that I addressed myself to,' said I, 'told
me not to trouble him again unless I could bring him a decent novel
or a tale.'

'Well,' said Frank, 'and why did you not carry him a decent novel
or a tale?'

'Because I have neither,' said I; 'and to write them is, I believe,
above my capacity. At present I feel divested of all energy--
heartless, and almost hopeless.'

'I see how it is,' said Francis Ardry, 'you have overworked
yourself, and, worst of all, to no purpose. Take my advice; cast
all care aside, and only think of diverting yourself for a month at

'Divert myself!' said I; 'and where am I to find the means?'

'Be that care on my shoulders,' said Francis Ardry. 'Listen to me-
-my uncles have been so delighted with the favourable accounts
which they have lately received from T- of my progress in oratory,
that, in the warmth of their hearts, they made me a present
yesterday of two hundred pounds. This is more money than I want,
at least for the present; do me the favour to take half of it as a
loan--hear me,' said he, observing that I was about to interrupt
him; 'I have a plan in my head--one of the prettiest in the world.
The sister of my charmer is just arrived from France; she cannot
speak a word of English; and, as Annette and myself are much
engaged in our own matters, we cannot pay her the attention which
we should wish, and which she deserves, for she is a truly
fascinating creature, although somewhat differing from my charmer,
having blue eyes and flaxen hair; whilst, Annette, on the contrary-
-But I hope you will shortly see Annette. Now, my plan is this--
Take the money, dress yourself fashionably, and conduct Annette's
sister to Bagnigge Wells.'

'And what should we do at Bagnigge Wells?'

'Do!' said Francis Ardry. 'Dance!'

'But,' said I, 'I scarcely know anything of dancing.'

'Then here's an excellent opportunity of improving yourself. Like
most Frenchwomen, she dances divinely; however, if you object to
Bagnigge Wells and dancing, go to Brighton, and remain there a
month or two, at the end of which time you can return with your
mind refreshed and invigorated, and materials, perhaps, for a tale
or novel.'

'I never heard a more foolish, plan,' said I, 'or one less likely
to terminate profitably or satisfactorily. I thank you, however,
for your offer, which is, I daresay, well meant. If I am to escape
from my cares and troubles, and find my mind refreshed and
invigorated, I must adopt other means than conducting a French
demoiselle to Brighton or Bagnigge Wells, defraying the expense by
borrowing from a friend.'


Singular personage--A large sum--Papa of Rome--We are Christians--
Degenerate Armenians--Roots of Ararat--Regular features.

The Armenian! I frequently saw this individual, availing myself of
the permission which he had given me to call upon him. A truly
singular personage was he, with his love of amassing money, and his
nationality so strong as to be akin to poetry. Many an Armenian I
have subsequently known fond of money-getting, and not destitute of
national spirit; but never another, who, in the midst of his
schemes of lucre, was at all times willing to enter into a
conversation on the structure of the Haik language, or who ever
offered me money to render into English the fables of Z- in the
hope of astonishing the stock-jobbers of the Exchange with the
wisdom of the Haik Esop.

But he was fond of money, very fond. Within a little time I had
won his confidence to such a degree that he informed me that the
grand wish of his heart was to be possessed of two hundred thousand

'I think you might satisfy yourself with the half,' said I. 'One
hundred thousand pounds is a large sum.'

'You are mistaken,' said the Armenian, 'a hundred thousand pounds
is nothing. My father left me that or more at his death. No, I
shall never be satisfied with less than two.'

'And what will you do with your riches,' said I, 'when you have
obtained them? Will you sit down and muse upon them, or will you
deposit them in a cellar, and go down once a day to stare at them?
I have heard say that the fulfilment of one's wishes is invariably
the precursor of extreme misery, and forsooth I can scarcely
conceive a more horrible state of existence than to be without a
hope or wish.'

'It is bad enough, I daresay,' said the Armenian; 'it will,
however, be time enough to think of disposing of the money when I
have procured it. I still fall short by a vast sum of the two
hundred thousand pounds.'

I had occasionally much conversation with him on the state and
prospects of his nation, especially of that part of it which still
continued in the original country of the Haiks--Ararat and its
confines, which, it appeared, he had frequently visited. He
informed me that since the death of the last Haik monarch, which
occurred in the eleventh century, Armenia had been governed both
temporally and spiritually by certain personages called patriarchs;
their temporal authority, however, was much circumscribed by the
Persian and Turk, especially the former, of whom the Armenian spoke
with much hatred, whilst their spiritual authority had at various
times been considerably undermined by the emissaries of the Papa of
Rome, as the Armenian called him.

'The Papa of Rome sent his emissaries at an early period amongst
us,' said the Armenian, 'seducing the minds of weak-headed people,
persuading them that the hillocks of Rome are higher than the
ridges of Ararat; that the Roman Papa has more to say in heaven
than the Armenian patriarch, and that puny Latin is a better
language than nervous and sonorous Haik.'

'They are both dialects,' said I, 'of the language of Mr.
Petulengro, one of whose race I believe to have been the original
founder of Rome; but, with respect to religion, what are the chief
points of your faith? you are Christians, I believe.'

'Yes,' said the Armenian, 'we are Christians in our way; we believe
in God, the Holy Spirit, and Saviour, though we are not prepared to
admit that the last personage is not only himself, but the other
two. We believe . . .' and then the Armenian told me of several
things which the Haiks believed or disbelieved. 'But what we find
most hard of all to believe,' said he, 'is that the man of the
mole-hills is entitled to our allegiance, he not being a Haik, or
understanding the Haik language.'

'But, by your own confession,' said I, 'he has introduced a schism
in your nation, and has amongst you many that believe in him.'

'It is true,' said the Armenian, I that even on the confines of
Ararat there are a great number who consider that mountain to be
lower than the hillocks of Rome; but the greater number of
degenerate Armenians are to be found amongst those who have
wandered to the west; most of the Haik churches of the west
consider Rome to be higher than Ararat--most of the Armenians of
this place hold that dogma; I, however, have always stood firm in
the contrary opinion.

'Ha! ha!'--here the Armenian laughed in his peculiar manner--
'talking of this matter puts me in mind of an adventure which
lately befell me, with one of the emissaries of the Papa of Rome,
for the Papa of Rome has at present many emissaries in this
country, in order to seduce the people from their own quiet
religion to the savage heresy of Rome; this fellow came to me
partly in the hope of converting me, but principally to extort
money for the purpose of furthering the designs of Rome in this
country. I humoured the fellow at first, keeping him in play for
nearly a month, deceiving and laughing at him. At last he
discovered that he could make nothing of me, and departed with the
scowl of Caiaphas, whilst I cried after him, 'The roots of Ararat
are DEEPER than those of Rome.'

The Armenian had occasionally reverted to the subject of the
translation of the Haik Esop, which he had still a lurking desire
that I should execute; but I had invariably declined the
undertaking, without, however, stating my reasons. On one
occasion, when we had been conversing on the subject, the Armenian,
who had been observing my countenance for some time with much
attention, remarked, 'Perhaps, after all, you are right, and you
might employ your time to better advantage. Literature is a fine
thing, especially Haik literature, but neither that nor any other
would be likely to serve as a foundation to a man's fortune: and
to make a fortune should be the principal aim of every one's life;
therefore listen to me. Accept a seat at the desk opposite to my
Moldavian clerk, and receive the rudiments of a merchant's
education. You shall be instructed in the Armenian way of doing
business--I think you would make an excellent merchant.'

'Why do you think so?'

'Because you have something of the Armenian look.'

'I understand you,' said I; 'you mean to say that I squint!'

'Not exactly,' said the Armenian, 'but there is certainly a kind of
irregularity in your features. One eye appears to me larger than
the other--never mind, but rather rejoice; in that irregularity
consists your strength. All people with regular features are
fools; it is very hard for them, you'll say, but there is no help:
all we can do, who are not in such a predicament, is to pity those
who are. Well! will you accept my offer? No! you are a singular
individual; but I must not forget my own concerns. I must now go
forth, having an appointment by which I hope to make money.'


Wish fulfilled--Extraordinary figure--Bueno--Noah--The two faces--I
don't blame him--Too fond of money--Were I an Armenian.

The fulfilment of the Armenian's grand wish was nearer at hand than
either he or I had anticipated. Partly owing to the success of a
bold speculation, in which he had some time previously engaged, and
partly owing to the bequest of a large sum of money by one of his
nation who died at this period in Paris, he found himself in the
possession of a fortune somewhat exceeding two hundred thousand
pounds; this fact he communicated to me one evening about an hour
after the close of 'Change; the hour at which I generally called,
and at which I mostly found him at home.

'Well,' said I, 'and what do you intend to do next?'

'I scarcely know,' said the Armenian. 'I was thinking of that when
you came in. I don't see anything that I can do, save going on in
my former course. After all, I was perhaps too moderate in making
the possession of two hundred thousand pounds the summit of my
ambition; there are many individuals in this town who possess three
times that sum, and are not yet satisfied. No, I think I can do no
better than pursue the old career; who knows but I may make the two
hundred thousand three or four?--there is already a surplus, which
is an encouragement; however, we will consider the matter over a
goblet of wine; I have observed of late that you have become
partial to my Cyprus.'

And it came to pass that, as we were seated over the Cyprus wine,
we heard a knock at the door. 'Adelante!' cried the Armenian;
whereupon the door opened, and in walked a somewhat extraordinary
figure--a man in a long loose tunic of a stuff striped with black
and yellow; breeches of plush velvet, silk stockings, and shoes
with silver buckles. On his head he wore a high-peaked hat; he was
tall, had a hooked nose, and in age was about fifty.

'Welcome, Rabbi Manasseh,' said the Armenian. 'I know your knock--
you are welcome; sit down.'

'I am welcome,' said Manasseh, sitting down; 'he--he--he! you know
my knock--I bring you money--bueno!'

There was something very peculiar in the sound of that bueno--I
never forgot it.

Thereupon a conversation ensued between Rabbi Manasseh and the
Armenian, in a language which I knew to be Spanish, though a
peculiar dialect. It related to a mercantile transaction. The
Rabbi sighed heavily as he delivered to the other a considerable
sum of money.

'It is right,' said the Armenian, handing a receipt. 'It is right;
and I am quite satisfied.'

'You are satisfied--you have taken money. Bueno, I have nothing to
say against your being satisfied.'

'Come, Rabbi,' said the Armenian, 'do not despond; it may be your
turn next to take money; in the meantime, can't you be persuaded to
taste my Cyprus?'

'He--he--he! senor, you know I do not love wine. I love Noah when
he is himself; but, as Janus, I love him not. But you are merry;
bueno, you have a right to be so.'

'Excuse me,' said I; 'but does Noah ever appear as Janus?'

'He--he--he!' said the Rabbi, 'he only appeared as Janus once--una
vez quando estuvo borracho; which means--'

'I understand,' said I; 'when he was . . .' and I drew the side of
my right hand sharply across my left wrist.

'Are you one of our people?' said the Rabbi.

'No,' said I, 'I am one of the Goyim; but I am only half
enlightened. Why should Noah be Janus when he was in that state?'

'He--he--he! you must know that in Lasan akhades wine is janin.'

'In Armenian, kini,' said I; 'in Welsh, gwin; Latin, vinum; but do
you think that Janus and janin are one?'

'Do I think? Don't the commentators say so? Does not Master Leo
Abarbenel say so in his Dialogues of Divine Love'?

'But,' said I, 'I always thought that Janus was a god of the
ancient Romans, who stood in a temple open in time of war, and shut
in time of peace; he was represented with two faces, which--which--

'He--he--he!' said the Rabbi, rising from his seat; 'he had two
faces, had he? And what did those two faces typify? You do not
know; no, nor did the Romans who carved him with two faces know why
they did so; for they were only half enlightened, like you and the
rest of the Goyim. Yet they were right in carving him with two
faces looking from each other--they were right, though they knew
not why; there was a tradition among them that the Janinoso had two
faces, but they knew not that one was for the world which was gone
and the other for the world before him--for the drowned world and
for the present, as Master Leo Abarbenel says in his Dialogues of
Divine Love. He--he--he!' continued the Rabbi, who had by this
time advanced to the door, and, turning round, waved the two
forefingers of his right hand in our faces; 'the Goyims and
Epicouraiyim are clever men, they know how to make money better
than we of Israel. My good friend there is a clever man, I bring
him money, he never brought me any; bueno, I do not blame him, he
knows much, very much; but one thing there is my friend does not
know, nor any of the Epicureans, he does not know the sacred thing-
-he has never received the gift of interpretation which God alone
gives to the seed--he has his gift, I have mine--he is satisfied, I
don't blame him, bueno.'

And, with this last word in his mouth, he departed.

'Is that man a native of Spain?' I demanded.

'Not a native of Spain,' said the Armenian, 'though he is one of
those who call themselves Spanish Jews, and who are to be found
scattered throughout Europe, speaking the Spanish language
transmitted to them by their ancestors, who were expelled from
Spain in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella.'

'The Jews are a singular people,' said I.

'A race of cowards and dastards,' said the Armenian, 'without a
home or country; servants to servants; persecuted and despised by

'And what are the Haiks?' I demanded.

'Very different from the Jews,' replied the Armenian; 'the Haiks
have a home--a country, and can occasionally use a good sword;
though it is true they are not what they might be.'

'Then it is a shame that they do not become so,' said I; 'but they
are too fond of money. There is yourself, with two hundred
thousand pounds in your pocket, craving for more, whilst you might
be turning your wealth to the service of your country.'

'In what manner?' said the Armenian.

'I have heard you say that the grand oppressor of your country is
the Persian; why not attempt to free your country from his
oppression--you have two hundred thousand pounds, and money is the
sinew of war?'

'Would you, then, have me attack the Persian?'

'I scarcely know what to say; fighting is a rough trade, and I am
by no means certain that you are calculated for the scratch. It is
not every one who has been brought up in the school of Mr.
Petulengro and Tawno Chikno. All I can say is, that if I were an
Armenian, and had two hundred thousand pounds to back me, I would
attack the Persian.'

'Hem!' said the Armenian.


The one half-crown--Merit in patience--Cementer of friendship--
Dreadful perplexity--The usual guttural--Armenian letters--Much
indebted to you--Pure helplessness--Dumb people.

One morning on getting up I discovered that my whole worldly wealth
was reduced to one half-crown--throughout that day I walked about
in considerable distress of mind; it was now requisite that I
should come to a speedy decision with respect to what I was to do;
I had not many alternatives, and, before I had retired to rest on
the night of the day in question, I had determined that I could do
no better than accept the first proposal of the Armenian, and
translate under his superintendence the Haik Esop into English.

I reflected, for I made a virtue of necessity, that, after all,
such an employment would be an honest and honourable one; honest,
inasmuch as by engaging in it I should do harm to nobody;
honourable, inasmuch as it was a literary task, which not every one
was capable of executing. it was not every one of the booksellers'
writers of London who was competent to translate the Haik Esop. I
determined to accept the offer of the Armenian.

Once or twice the thought of what I might have to undergo in the
translation from certain peculiarities of the Armenian's temper
almost unsettled me; but a mechanical diving of my hand into my
pocket, and the feeling of the solitary half-crown, confirmed me;
after all, this was a life of trial and tribulation, and I had read
somewhere or other that there was much merit in patience, so I
determined to hold fast in my resolution of accepting the offer of
the Armenian.

But all of a sudden I remembered that the Armenian appeared to have
altered his intentions towards me: he appeared no longer desirous
that I should render the Haik Esop into English for the benefit of
the stock-jobbers on Exchange, but rather that I should acquire the
rudiments of doing business in the Armenian fashion, and accumulate
a fortune, which would enable me to make a figure upon 'Change with
the best of the stock-jobbers. 'Well,' thought I, withdrawing my
hand from my pocket, whither it had again mechanically dived,
'after all, what would the world, what would this city, be without
commerce? I believe the world, and particularly this city, would
cut a very poor figure without commerce; and then there is
something poetical in the idea of doing business after the Armenian
fashion, dealing with dark-faced Lascars and Rabbins of the
Sephardim. Yes, should the Armenian insist upon it, I will accept
a seat at the desk, opposite the Moldavian clerk. I do not like
the idea of cuffs similar to those the Armenian bestowed upon the
Moldavian clerk; whatever merit there may be in patience, I do not
think that my estimation of the merit of patience would be
sufficient to induce me to remain quietly sitting under the
infliction of cuffs. I think I should, in the event of his cuffing
me, knock the Armenian down. Well, I think I have heard it said
somewhere, that a knock-down blow is a great cementer of
friendship; I think I have heard of two people being better friends
than ever after the one had received from the other a knock-down

That night I dreamed I had acquired a colossal fortune, some four
hundred thousand pounds, by the Armenian way of doing business, but
suddenly awoke in dreadful perplexity as to how I should dispose of

About nine o'clock next morning I set off to the house of the
Armenian; I had never called upon him so early before, and
certainly never with a heart beating with so much eagerness; but
the situation of my affairs had become very critical, and I thought
that I ought to lose no time in informing the Armenian that I was
at length perfectly willing either to translate the Haik Esop under
his superintendence, or to accept a seat at the desk opposite to
the Moldavian clerk, and acquire the secrets of Armenian commerce.
With a quick step I entered the counting-room, where,
notwithstanding the earliness of the hour, I found the clerk,
busied as usual at his desk.

He had always appeared to me a singular being, this same Moldavian
clerk. A person of fewer words could scarcely be conceived:
provided his master were at home, he would, on my inquiring, nod
his head; and, provided he were not, he would invariably reply with
the monosyllable No, delivered in a strange guttural tone. On the
present occasion, being full of eagerness and impatience, I was
about to pass by him to the apartment above, without my usual
inquiry, when he lifted his head from the ledger in which he was
writing, and, laying down his pen, motioned to me with his
forefinger, as if to arrest my progress; whereupon I stopped, and,
with a palpitating heart, demanded whether the master of the house
was at home. The Moldavian clerk replied with his usual guttural,
and, opening his desk, ensconced his head therein.

'It does not much matter,' said I; 'I suppose I shall find him at
home after 'Change; it does not much matter, I can return.'

I was turning away with the intention of leaving the room; at this
moment, however, the head of the Moldavian clerk became visible,
and I observed a letter in his hand, which he had inserted in the
desk at the same time with his head; this he extended towards me,
making at the same time a sidelong motion with his head, as much as
to say that it contained something which interested me.

I took the letter, and the Moldavian clerk forthwith resumed his
occupation. The back of the letter bore my name, written in
Armenian characters; with a trembling hand I broke the seal, and,
unfolding the letter, I beheld several lines also written in the
letters of Mesroub, the Cadmus of the Armenians.

I stared at the lines, and at first could not make out a syllable
of their meaning; at last, however, by continued staring, I
discovered that, though the letters were Armenian, the words were
English; in about ten minutes I had contrived to decipher the sense
of the letter; it ran somewhat in this style:-

'MY DEAR FRIEND--The words which you uttered in our last
conversation have made a profound impression upon me; I have
thought them over day and night, and have come to the conclusion
that it is my bounden duty to attack the Persians. When these
lines are delivered to you, I shall be on the route to Ararat. A
mercantile speculation will be to the world the ostensible motive
of my journey, and it is singular enough that one which offers
considerable prospect of advantage has just presented itself on the
confines of Persia. Think not, however, that motives of lucre
would have been sufficiently powerful to tempt me to the East at
the present moment. I may speculate, it is true, but I should
scarcely have undertaken the journey but for your pungent words
inciting me to attack the Persians. Doubt not that I will attack
them on the first opportunity. I thank you heartily for putting me
in mind of my duty. I have hitherto, to use your own words, been
too fond of money-getting, like all my countrymen. I am much
indebted to you; farewell! and may every prosperity await you.'

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest