Part 5 out of 7
Yes, this must be the Lyceum, thought I; let me see. So I whipped out my
guide-book, and opened it at the proper place; and sure enough, the
building before me corresponded stone for stone. I stood awhile on the
opposite side of the street, gazing at my picture, and then at its
original; and often dwelling upon the pleasant gentlemen sitting at the
open windows; till at last I felt an uncontrollable impulse to step in
for a moment, and run over the news.
I'm a poor, friendless sailor-boy, thought I, and they can not object;
especially as I am from a foreign land, and strangers ought to be
treated with courtesy. I turned the matter over again, as I walked
across the way; and with just a small tapping of a misgiving at my
heart, I at last scraped my feet clean against the curb-stone, and
taking off my hat while I was yet in the open air, slowly sauntered in.
But I had not got far into that large and lofty room, filled with many
agreeable sights, when a crabbed old gentleman lifted up his eye from
the London Times, which words I saw boldly printed on the back of the
large sheet in his hand, and looking at me as if I were a strange dog
with a muddy hide, that had stolen out of the gutter into this fine
apartment, he shook his silver-headed cane at me fiercely, till the
spectacles fell off his nose. Almost at the same moment, up stepped a
terribly cross man, who looked as if he had a mustard plaster on his
back, that was continually exasperating him; who throwing down some
papers which he had been filing, took me by my innocent shoulders, and
then, putting his foot against the broad part of my pantaloons, wheeled
me right out into the street, and dropped me on the walk, without so
much as offering an apology for the affront. I sprang after him, but in
vain; the door was closed upon me.
These Englishmen have no manners, that's plain, thought I; and I trudged
on down the street in a reverie.
XLIII. HE TAKES A DELIGHTFUL RAMBLE INTO THE COUNTRY; AND MAKES THE
ACQUAINTANCE OF THREE ADORABLE CHARMERS
Who that dwells in America has not heard of the bright fields and green
hedges of England, and longed to behold them? Even so had it been with
me; and now that I was actually in England, I resolved not to go away
without having a good, long look at the open fields.
On a Sunday morning I started, with a lunch in my pocket. It was a
beautiful day in July; the air was sweet with the breath of buds and
flowers, and there was a green splendor in the landscape that ravished
me. Soon I gained an elevation commanding a wide sweep of view; and
meadow and mead, and woodland and hedge, were all around me.
Ay, ay! this was old England, indeed! I had found it at last--there it
was in the country! Hovering over the scene was a soft, dewy air, that
seemed faintly tinged with the green of the grass; and I thought, as I
breathed my breath, that perhaps I might be inhaling the very particles
once respired by Rosamond the Fair.
On I trudged along the London road--smooth as an entry floor--and every
white cottage I passed, embosomed in honeysuckles, seemed alive in the
But the day wore on; and at length the sun grew hot; and the long road
became dusty. I thought that some shady place, in some shady field,
would be very pleasant to repose in. So, coming to a charming little
dale, undulating down to a hollow, arched over with foliage, I crossed
over toward it; but paused by the road-side at a frightful announcement,
nailed against an old tree, used as a gate-post--
"man-traps and spring-guns!"
In America I had never heard of the like. What could it mean? They were
not surely cannibals, that dwelt down in that beautiful little dale, and
lived by catching men, like weasels and beavers in Canada!
"A man-trap!" It must be so. The announcement could bear but one
meaning--that there was something near by, intended to catch human
beings; some species of mechanism, that would suddenly fasten upon the
unwary rover, and hold him by the leg like a dog; or, perhaps, devour
him on the spot.
Incredible! In a Christian land, too! Did that sweet lady, Queen
Victoria, permit such diabolical practices? Had her gracious majesty
ever passed by this way, and seen the announcement?
And who put it there?
The proprietor, probably.
And what right had he to do so?
Why, he owned the soil.
And where are his title-deeds?
In his strong-box, I suppose.
Thus I stood wrapt in cogitations.
You are a pretty fellow, Wellingborough, thought I to myself; you are a
mighty traveler, indeed:--stopped on your travels by a man-trap! Do you
think Mungo Park was so served in Africa? Do you think Ledyard was so
entreated in Siberia? Upon my word, you will go home not very much wiser
than when you set out; and the only excuse you can give, for not having
seen more sights, will be man-traps--mantraps, my masters! that
And then, in my indignation, I fell back upon first principles. What
right has this man to the soil he thus guards with dragons? What
excessive effrontery, to lay sole claim to a solid piece of this planet,
right down to the earth's axis, and, perhaps, straight through to the
antipodes! For a moment I thought I would test his traps, and enter the
But the grass grew so thickly, and seemed so full of sly things, that at
last I thought best to pace off.
Next, I came to a hawthorn lane, leading down very prettily to a nice
little church; a mossy little church; a beautiful little church; just
such a church as I had always dreamed to be in England. The porch was
viny as an arbor; the ivy was climbing about the tower; and the bees
were humming about the hoary old head-stones along the walls.
Any man-traps here? thought I--any spring-guns?
So I walked on, and entered the church, where I soon found a seat. No
Indian, red as a deer, could have startled the simple people more. They
gazed and they gazed; but as I was all attention to the sermon, and
conducted myself with perfect propriety, they did not expel me, as at
first I almost imagined they might.
Service over, I made my way through crowds of children, who stood
staring at the marvelous stranger, and resumed my stroll along the
My next stop was at an inn, where under a tree sat a party of rustics,
drinking ale at a table.
"Good day," said I.
"Good day; from Liverpool?"
"I guess so."
"No; not this time. I merely come to see the country."
At this, they gazed at each other; and I, at myself; having doubts
whether I might not look something like a horse-thief.
"Take a seat," said the landlord, a fat fellow, with his wife's apron
on, I thought.
And then, little by little, we got into a long talk: in the course of
which, I told who I was, and where I was from. I found these rustics a
good-natured, jolly set; and I have no doubt they found me quite a
sociable youth. They treated me to ale; and I treated them to stories
about America, concerning which, they manifested the utmost curiosity.
One of them, however, was somewhat astonished that I had not made the
acquaintance of a brother of his, who had resided somewhere on the banks
of the Mississippi for several years past; but among twenty millions of
people, I had never happened to meet him, at least to my knowledge.
At last, leaving this party, I pursued my way, exhilarated by the lively
conversation in which I had shared, and the pleasant sympathies
exchanged: and perhaps, also, by the ale I had drunk:--fine old ale; yes,
English ale, ale brewed in England! And I trod English soil; and
breathed English air; and every blade of grass was an Englishman born.
Smoky old Liverpool, with all its pitch and tar was now far behind;
nothing in sight but open meadows and fields.
Come, Wellingborough, why not push on for London?--Hurra! what say you?
let's have a peep at St. Paul's I Don't you want to see the queen? Have
you no longing to behold the duke? Think of Westminster Abbey, and the
Tunnel under the Thames! Think of Hyde Park, and the ladies!
But then, thought I again, with my hands wildly groping in my two
vacuums of pockets--who's to pay the bill?--You can't beg your way,
Wellingborough; that would never do; for you are your father's son,
Wellingborough; and you must not disgrace your family in a foreign land;
you must not turn pauper.
Ah! Ah! it was indeed too true; there was no St. Paul's or Westminster
Abbey for me; that was flat.
Well, well, up heart, you'll see it one of these days.
But think of it! here I am on the very road that leads to the
Thames--think of that!--here I am--ay, treading in the wheel-tracks of
coaches that are bound for the metropolis!--It was too bad; too bitterly
bad. But I shoved my old hat over my brows, and walked on; till at last
I came to a green bank, deliriously shaded by a fine old tree with broad
branching arms, that stretched themselves over the road, like a hen
gathering her brood under her wings. Down on the green grass I threw
myself and there lay my head, like a last year's nut. People passed by,
on foot and in carriages, and little thought that the sad youth under
the tree was the great-nephew of a late senator in the American
Presently, I started to my feet, as I heard a gruff voice behind me from
the field, crying out--"What are you doing there, you young rascal?--run
away from the work'us, have ye? Tramp, or I'll set Blucher on ye!"
And who was Blucher? A cut-throat looking dog, with his black
bull-muzzle thrust through a gap in the hedge. And his master? A sturdy
farmer, with an alarming cudgel in his hand.
"Come, are you going to start?" he cried.
"Presently," said I, making off with great dispatch. When I had got a
few yards into the middle of the highroad (which belonged as much to me
as it did to the queen herself), I turned round, like a man on his own
premises, and said--"Stranger! if you ever Visit America, just call at
our house, and you'll always find there a dinner and a bed. Don't fail."
I then walked on toward Liverpool, full of sad thoughts concerning the
cold charities of the world, and the infamous reception given to hapless
young travelers, in broken-down shooting-jackets.
On, on I went, along the skirts of forbidden green fields; until
reaching a cottage, before which I stood rooted.
So sweet a place I had never seen: no palace in Persia could be
pleasanter; there were flowers in the garden; and six red cheeks, like
six moss-roses, hanging from the casement. At the embowered doorway, sat
an old man, confidentially communing with his pipe: while a little
child, sprawling on the ground, was playing with his shoestrings. A hale
matron, but with rather a prim expression, was reading a journal by his
side: and three charmers, three Peris, three Houris! were leaning out of
the window close by.
Ah! Wellingborough, don't you wish you could step in?
With a heavy heart at his cheerful sigh, I was turning to go, when--is it
possible? the old man called me back, and invited me in.
"Come, come," said he, "you look as if you had walked far; come, take a
bowl of milk. Matilda, my dear" (how my heart jumped), "go fetch some
from the dairy." And the white-handed angel did meekly obey, and handed
me--me, the vagabond, a bowl of bubbling milk, which I could hardly drink
down, for gazing at the dew on her lips.
As I live, I could have married that charmer on the spot!
She was by far the most beautiful rosebud I had yet seen in England. But
I endeavored to dissemble my ardent admiration; and in order to do away
at once with any unfavorable impressions arising from the close scrutiny
of my miserable shooting-jacket, which was now taking place, I declared
myself a Yankee sailor from Liverpool, who was spending a Sunday in the
"And have you been to church to-day, young man?" said the old lady,
"Good madam, I have; the little church down yonder, you know--a most
excellent sermon--I am much the better for it."
I wanted to mollify this severe looking old lady; for even my short
experience of old ladies had convinced me that they are the hereditary
enemies of all strange young men.
I soon turned the conversation toward America, a theme which I knew
would be interesting, and upon which I could be fluent and agreeable. I
strove to talk in Addisonian English, and ere long could see very
plainly that my polished phrases were making a surprising impression,
though that miserable shooting-jacket of mine was a perpetual drawback
to my claims to gentility.
Spite of all my blandishments, however, the old lady stood her post like
a sentry; and to my inexpressible chagrin, kept the three charmers in
the background, though the old man frequently called upon them to
advance. This fine specimen of an old Englishman seemed to be quite as
free from ungenerous suspicions as his vinegary spouse was full of them.
But I still lingered, snatching furtive glances at the young ladies, and
vehemently talking to the old man about Illinois, and the river Ohio,
and the fine farms in the Genesee country, where, in harvest time, the
laborers went into the wheat fields a thousand strong.
Stick to it, Wellingborough, thought I; don't give the old lady time to
think; stick to it, my boy, and an invitation to tea will reward you. At
last it came, and the old lady abated her frowns.
It was the most delightful of meals; the three charmers sat all on one
side, and I opposite, between the old man and his wife. The middle
charmer poured out the souchong, and handed me the buttered muffins; and
such buttered muffins never were spread on the other side of the
Atlantic. The butter had an aromatic flavor; by Jove, it was perfectly
And there they sat--the charmers, I mean--eating these buttered muffins in
plain sight. I wished I was a buttered muffin myself. Every minute they
grew handsomer and handsomer; and I could not help thinking what a fine
thing it would be to carry home a beautiful English wife! how my friends
would stare! a lady from England!
I might have been mistaken; but certainly I thought that Matilda, the
one who had handed me the milk, sometimes looked rather benevolently in
the direction where I sat. She certainly did look at my jacket; and I am
constrained to think at my face. Could it be possible she had fallen in
love at first sight? Oh, rapture! But oh, misery! that was out of the
question; for what a looking suitor was Wellingborough?
At length, the old lady glanced toward the door, and made some
observations about its being yet a long walk to town. She handed me the
buttered muffins, too, as if performing a final act of hospitality; and
in other fidgety ways vaguely hinted her desire that I should decamp.
Slowly I rose, and murmured my thanks, and bowed, and tried to be off;
but as quickly I turned, and bowed, and thanked, and lingered again and
again. Oh, charmers! oh, Peris! thought I, must I go? Yes,
Wellingborough, you must; so I made one desperate congee, and darted
through the door.
I have never seen them since: no, nor heard of them; but to this day I
live a bachelor on account of those ravishing charmers.
As the long twilight was waning deeper and deeper into the night, I
entered the town; and, plodding my solitary way to the same old docks, I
passed through the gates, and scrambled my way among tarry smells,
across the tiers of ships between the quay and the Highlander. My only
resource was my bunk; in I turned, and, wearied with my long stroll, was
soon fast asleep, dreaming of red cheeks and roses.
XLIV. REDBURN INTRODUCES MASTER HARRY BOLTON TO THE FAVORABLE
CONSIDERATION OF THE READER
It was the day following my Sunday stroll into the country, and when I
had been in England four weeks or more, that I made the acquaintance of
a handsome, accomplished, but unfortunate youth, young Harry Bolton. He
was one of those small, but perfectly formed beings, with curling hair,
and silken muscles, who seem to have been born in cocoons. His
complexion was a mantling brunette, feminine as a girl's; his feet were
small; his hands were white; and his eyes were large, black, and
womanly; and, poetry aside, his voice was as the sound of a harp.
But where, among the tarry docks, and smoky sailor-lanes and by-ways of
a seaport, did I, a battered Yankee boy, encounter this courtly youth?
Several evenings I had noticed him in our street of boarding-houses,
standing in the doorways, and silently regarding the animated scenes
without. His beauty, dress, and manner struck me as so out of place in
such a street, that I could not possibly divine what had transplanted
this delicate exotic from the conservatories of some Regent-street to
the untidy potato-patches of Liverpool.
At last I suddenly encountered him at the sign of the Baltimore Clipper.
He was speaking to one of my shipmates concerning America; and from
something that dropped, I was led to imagine that he contemplated a
voyage to my country. Charmed with his appearance, and all eagerness to
enjoy the society of this incontrovertible son of a gentleman--a kind of
pleasure so long debarred me--I smoothed down the skirts of my jacket,
and at once accosted him; declaring who I was, and that nothing would
afford me greater delight than to be of the least service, in imparting
any information concerning America that he needed.
He glanced from my face to my jacket, and from my jacket to my face, and
at length, with a pleased but somewhat puzzled expression, begged me to
accompany him on a walk.
We rambled about St. George's Pier until nearly midnight; but before we
parted, with uncommon frankness, he told me many strange things
respecting his history.
According to his own account, Harry Bolton was a native of Bury St.
Edmunds, a borough of Suffolk, not very far from London, where he was
early left an orphan, under the charge of an only aunt. Between his aunt
and himself, his mother had divided her fortune; and young Harry thus
fell heir to a portion of about five thousand pounds.
Being of a roving mind, as he approached his majority he grew restless
of the retirement of a country place; especially as he had no profession
or business of any kind to engage his attention.
In vain did Bury, with all its fine old monastic attractions, lure him
to abide on the beautiful banks of her Larke, and under the shadow of
her stately and storied old Saxon tower.
By all my rare old historic associations, breathed Bury; by my
Abbey-gate, that bears to this day the arms of Edward the Confessor; by
my carved roof of the old church of St. Mary's, which escaped the low
rage of the bigoted Puritans; by the royal ashes of Mary Tudor, that
sleep in my midst; by my Norman ruins, and by all the old abbots of
Bury, do not, oh Harry! abandon me. Where will you find shadier walks
than under my lime-trees? where lovelier gardens than those within the
old walls of my monastery, approached through my lordly Gate? Or if, oh
Harry! indifferent to my historic mosses, and caring not for my annual
verdure, thou must needs be lured by other tassels, and wouldst fain,
like the Prodigal, squander thy patrimony, then, go not away from old
Bury to do it. For here, on Angel-Hill, are my coffee and card-rooms,
and billiard saloons, where you may lounge away your mornings, and empty
your glass and your purse as you list.
In vain. Bury was no place for the adventurous Harry, who must needs hie
to London, where in one winter, in the company of gambling sportsmen and
dandies, he lost his last sovereign.
What now was to be done? His friends made interest for him in the
requisite quarters, and Harry was soon embarked for Bombay, as a
midshipman in the East India service; in which office he was known as a
"guinea-pig," a humorous appellation then bestowed upon the middies of
the Company. And considering the perversity of his behavior, his
delicate form, and soft complexion, and that gold guineas had been his
bane, this appellation was not altogether, in poor Harry's case,
He made one voyage, and returned; another, and returned; and then threw
up his warrant in disgust. A few weeks' dissipation in London, and again
his purse was almost drained; when, like many prodigals, scorning to
return home to his aunt, and amend--though she had often written him the
kindest of letters to that effect--Harry resolved to precipitate himself
upon the New World, and there carve out a fresh fortune. With this
object in view, he packed his trunks, and took the first train for
Liverpool. Arrived in that town, he at once betook himself to the docks,
to examine the American shipping, when a new crotchet entered his brain,
born of his old sea reminiscences. It was to assume duck browsers and
tarpaulin, and gallantly cross the Atlantic as a sailor. There was a
dash of romance in it; a taking abandonment; and scorn of fine coats,
which exactly harmonized with his reckless contempt, at the time, for
all past conventionalities.
Thus determined, he exchanged his trunk for a mahogany chest; sold some
of his superfluities; and moved his quarters to the sign of the Gold
Anchor in Union-street.
After making his acquaintance, and learning his intentions, I was all
anxiety that Harry should accompany me home in the Highlander, a desire
to which he warmly responded.
Nor was I without strong hopes that he would succeed in an application
to the captain; inasmuch as during our stay in the docks, three of our
crew had left us, and their places would remain unsupplied till just
upon the eve of our departure.
And here, it may as well be related, that owing to the heavy charges to
which the American ships long staying in Liverpool are subjected, from
the obligation to continue the wages of their seamen, when they have
little or no work to employ them, and from the necessity of boarding
them ashore, like lords, at their leisure, captains interested in the
ownership of their vessels, are not at all indisposed to let their
sailors abscond, if they please, and thus forfeit their money; for they
well know that, when wanted, a new crew is easily to be procured,
through the crimps of the port.
Though he spake English with fluency, and from his long service in the
vessels of New York, was almost an American to behold, yet Captain Riga
was in fact a Russian by birth, though this was a fact that he strove to
conceal. And though extravagant in his personal expenses, and even
indulging in luxurious habits, costly as Oriental dissipation, yet
Captain Riga was a niggard to others; as, indeed, was evinced in the
magnificent stipend of three dollars, with which he requited my own
valuable services. Therefore, as it was agreed between Harry and me,
that he should offer to ship as a "boy," at the same rate of
compensation with myself, I made no doubt that, incited by the cheapness
of the bargain, Captain Riga would gladly close with him; and thus,
instead of paying sixteen dollars a month to a thorough-going tar, who
would consume all his rations, buy up my young blade of Bury, at the
rate of half a dollar a week; with the cheering prospect, that by the
end of the voyage, his fastidious palate would be the means of leaving
a. handsome balance of salt beef and pork in the harness-cask.
With part of the money obtained by the sale of a few of his velvet
vests, Harry, by my advice, now rigged himself in a Guernsey frock and
man-of-war browsers; and thus equipped, he made his appearance, one fine
morning, on the quarterdeck of the Highlander, gallantly doffing his
virgin tarpaulin before the redoubtable Riga.
No sooner were his wishes made known, than I perceived in the captain's
face that same bland, benevolent, and bewitchingly merry expression,
that had so charmed, but deceived me, when, with Mr. Jones, I had first
accosted him in the cabin.
Alas, Harry! thought I,--as I stood upon the forecastle looking astern
where they stood,--that "gallant, gay deceiver" shall not altogether
cajole you, if Wellingborough can help it. Rather than that should be
the case, indeed, I would forfeit the pleasure of your society across
At this interesting interview the captain expressed a sympathetic
concern touching the sad necessities, which he took upon himself to
presume must have driven Harry to sea; he confessed to a warm interest
in his future welfare; and did not hesitate to declare that, in going to
America, under such circumstances, to seek his fortune, he was acting a
manly and spirited part; and that the voyage thither, as a sailor, would
be an invigorating preparative to the landing upon a shore, where he
must battle out his fortune with Fate.
He engaged him at once; but was sorry to say, that he could not provide
him a home on board till the day previous to the sailing of the ship;
and during the interval, he could not honor any drafts upon the strength
of his wages.
However, glad enough to conclude the agreement upon any terms at all, my
young blade of Bury expressed his satisfaction; and full of admiration
at so urbane and gentlemanly a sea-captain, he came forward to receive
"Harry," said I, "be not deceived by the fascinating Riga--that gay
Lothario of all inexperienced, sea-going youths, from the capital or the
country; he has a Janus-face, Harry; and you will not know him when he
gets you out of sight of land, and mouths his cast-off coats and
browsers. For then he is another personage altogether, and adjusts his
character to the shabbiness of his integuments. No more condolings and
sympathy then; no more blarney; he will hold you a little better than
his boots, and would no more think of addressing you than of invoking
wooden Donald, the figure-head on our bows."
And I further admonished my friend concerning our crew, particularly of
the diabolical Jackson, and warned him to be cautious and wary. I told
him, that unless he was somewhat accustomed to the rigging, and could
furl a royal in a squall, he would be sure to subject himself to a sort
of treatment from the sailors, in the last degree ignominious to any
mortal who had ever crossed his legs under mahogany.
And I played the inquisitor, in cross-questioning Harry respecting the
precise degree in which he was a practical sailor;--whether he had a
giddy head; whether his arms could bear the weight of his body; whether,
with but one hand on a shroud, a hundred feet aloft in a tempest, he
felt he could look right to windward and beard it.
To all this, and much more, Harry rejoined with the most off-hand and
confident air; saying that in his "guinea-pig" days, he had often climbed
the masts and handled the sails in a gentlemanly and amateur way; so he
made no doubt that he would very soon prove an expert tumbler in the
His levity of manner, and sanguine assurance, coupled with the constant
sight of his most unseamanlike person--more suited to the Queen's
drawing-room than a ship's forecastle-bred many misgivings in my mind.
But after all, every one in this world has his own fate intrusted to
himself; and though we may warn, and forewarn, and give sage advice, and
indulge in many apprehensions touching our friends; yet our friends, for
the most part, will "gang their ain gate;" and the most we can do is, to
hope for the best. Still, I suggested to Harry, whether he had not best
cross the sea as a steerage passenger, since he could procure enough
money for that; but no, he was bent upon going as a sailor.
I now had a comrade in my afternoon strolls, and Sunday excursions; and
as Harry was a generous fellow, he shared with me his purse and his
heart. He sold off several more of his fine vests and browsers, his
silver-keyed flute and enameled guitar; and a portion of the money thus
furnished was pleasantly spent in refreshing ourselves at the road-side
inns in the vicinity of the town.
Reclining side by side in some agreeable nook, we exchanged our
experiences of the past. Harry enlarged upon the fascinations of a
London Me; described the curricle he used to drive in Hyde Park; gave me
the measurement of Madame Vestris' ankle; alluded to his first
introduction at a club to the madcap Marquis of Waterford; told over the
sums he had lost upon the turf on a Derby day; and made various but
enigmatical allusions to a certain Lady Georgiana Theresa, the noble
daughter of an anonymous earl.
Even in conversation, Harry was a prodigal; squandering his aristocratic
narrations with a careless hand; and, perhaps, sometimes spending funds
of reminiscences not his own.
As for me, I had only my poor old uncle the senator to fall back upon;
and I used him upon all emergencies, like the knight in the game of
chess; making him hop about, and stand stiffly up to the encounter,
against all my fine comrade's array of dukes, lords, curricles, and
In these long talks of ours, I frequently expressed the earnest desire I
cherished, to make a visit to London; and related how strongly tempted I
had been one Sunday, to walk the whole way, without a penny in my
pocket. To this, Harry rejoined, that nothing would delight him more,
than to show me the capital; and he even meaningly but mysteriously
hinted at the possibility of his doing so, before many days had passed.
But this seemed so idle a thought, that I only imputed it to my friend's
good-natured, rattling disposition, which sometimes prompted him to out
with any thing, that he thought would be agreeable. Besides, would this
fine blade of Bury be seen, by his aristocratic acquaintances, walking
down Oxford-street, say, arm in arm with the sleeve of my
shooting-jacket? The thing was preposterous; and I began to think, that
Harry, after all, was a little bit disposed to impose upon my Yankee
Luckily, my Bury blade had no acquaintance in Liverpool, where, indeed,
he was as much in a foreign land, as if he were already on the shores of
Lake Erie; so that he strolled about with me in perfect abandonment;
reckless of the cut of my shooting-jacket; and not caring one whit who
might stare at so singular a couple.
But once, crossing a square, faced on one side by a fashionable hotel,
he made a rapid turn with me round a corner; and never stopped, till the
square was a good block in our rear. The cause of this sudden retreat,
was a remarkably elegant coat and pantaloons, standing upright on the
hotel steps, and containing a young buck, tapping his teeth with an
"Who was he, Harry?" said I.
"My old chum, Lord Lovely," said Harry, with a careless air, "and Heaven
only knows what brings Lovely from London."
"A lord?" said I starting; "then I must look at him again;" for lords
are very scarce in Liverpool.
Unmindful of my companion's remonstrances, I ran back to the corner; and
slowly promenaded past the upright coat and pantaloons on the steps.
It was not much of a lord to behold; very thin and limber about the
legs, with small feet like a doll's, and a small, glossy head like a
seal's. I had seen just such looking lords standing in sentimental
attitudes in front of Palmo's in Broadway.
However, he and I being mutual friends of Harry's, I thought something
of accosting him, and taking counsel concerning what was best to be done
for the young prodigal's welfare; but upon second thoughts I thought
best not to intrude; especially, as just then my lord Lovely stepped to
the open window of a flashing carriage which drew up; and throwing
himself into an interesting posture, with the sole of one boot
vertically exposed, so as to show the stamp on it--a coronet--fell into a
sparkling conversation with a magnificent white satin hat, surmounted by
a regal marabou feather, inside.
I doubted not, this lady was nothing short of a peeress; and thought it
would be one of the pleasantest and most charming things in the world,
just to seat myself beside her, and order the coachman to take us a
drive into the country.
But, as upon further consideration, I imagined that the peeress might
decline the honor of my company, since I had no formal card of
introduction; I marched on, and rejoined my companion, whom I at once
endeavored to draw out, touching Lord Lovely; but he only made
mysterious answers; and turned off the conversation, by allusions to his
visits to Ickworth in Suffolk, the magnificent seat of the Most Noble
Marquis of Bristol, who had repeatedly assured Harry that he might
consider Ickworth his home.
Now, all these accounts of marquises and Ickworths, and Harry's having
been hand in glove with so many lords and ladies, began to breed some
suspicions concerning the rigid morality of my friend, as a teller of
the truth. But, after all, thought I to myself, who can prove that Harry
has fibbed? Certainly, his manners are polished, he has a mighty easy
address; and there is nothing altogether impossible about his having
consorted with the master of Ickworth, and the daughter of the anonymous
earl. And what right has a poor Yankee, like me, to insinuate the
slightest suspicion against what he says? What little money he has, he
spends freely; he can not be a polite blackleg, for I am no pigeon to
pluck; so that is out of the question;--perish such a thought, concerning
my own bosom friend!
But though I drowned all my suspicions as well as I could, and ever
cherished toward Harry a heart, loving and true; yet, spite of all this,
I never could entirely digest some of his imperial reminiscences of high
life. I was very sorry for this; as at times it made me feel ill at ease
in his company; and made me hold back my whole soul from him; when, in
its loneliness, it was yearning to throw itself into the unbounded bosom
of some immaculate friend.
XLV. HARRY BOLTON KIDNAPS REDBURN, AND CARRIES HIM OFF TO LONDON
It might have been a week after our glimpse of Lord Lovely, that Harry,
who had been expecting a letter, which, he told me, might possibly alter
his plans, one afternoon came bounding on board the ship, and sprang
down the hatchway into the between-decks, where, in perfect solitude, I
was engaged picking oakum; at which business the mate had set me, for
want of any thing better.
"Hey for London, Wellingborough!" he cried. "Off tomorrow! first
train--be there the same night--come! I have money to rig you all out--drop
that hangman's stuff there, and away! Pah! how it smells here! Come; up
I trembled with amazement and delight.
London? it could not be!--and Harry--how kind of him! he was then indeed
what he seemed. But instantly I thought of all the circumstances of the
case, and was eager to know what it was that had induced this sudden
In reply my friend told me, that he had received a remittance, and had
hopes of recovering a considerable sum, lost in some way that he chose
"But how am I to leave the ship, Harry?" said I; "they will not let me
go, will they? You had better leave me behind, after all; I don't care
very much about going; and besides, I have no money to share the
This I said, only pretending indifference, for my heart was jumping all
"Tut! my Yankee bantam," said Harry; "look here!" and he showed me a
handful of gold.
"But they are yours, and not mine, Harry," said I.
"Yours and mine, my sweet fellow," exclaimed Harry. "Come, sink the
ship, and let's go!"
"But you don't consider, if I quit the ship, they'll be sending a
constable after me, won't they?"
"What! and do you think, then, they value your services so highly? Ha!
ha!-Up, up, Wellingborough: I can't wait."
True enough. I well knew that Captain Riga would not trouble himself
much, if I did take French leave of him. So, without further thought of
the matter, I told Harry to wait a few moments, till the ship's bell
struck four; at which time I used to go to supper, and be free for the
rest of the day.
The bell struck; and off we went. As we hurried across the quay, and
along the dock walls, I asked Harry all about his intentions. He said,
that go to London he must, and to Bury St. Edmunds; but that whether he
should for any time remain at either place, he could not now tell; and
it was by no means impossible, that in less than a week's time we would
be back again in Liverpool, and ready for sea. But all he said was
enveloped in a mystery that I did not much like; and I hardly know
whether I have repeated correctly what he said at the time.
Arrived at the Golden Anchor, where Harry put up, he at once led me to
his room, and began turning over the contents of his chest, to see what
clothing he might have, that would fit me.
Though he was some years my senior, we were about the same size--if any
thing, I was larger than he; so, with a little stretching, a shirt,
vest, and pantaloons were soon found to suit. As for a coat and hat,
those Harry ran out and bought without delay; returning with a loose,
stylish sack-coat, and a sort of foraging cap, very neat, genteel, and
My friend himself soon doffed his Guernsey frock, and stood before me,
arrayed in a perfectly plain suit, which he had bought on purpose that
very morning. I asked him why he had gone to that unnecessary expense,
when he had plenty of other clothes in his chest. But he only winked,
and looked knowing. This, again, I did not like. But I strove to drown
Till quite dark, we sat talking together; when, locking his chest, and
charging his landlady to look after it well, till he called, or sent for
it; Harry seized my arm, and we sallied into the street.
Pursuing our way through crowds of frolicking sailors and fiddlers, we
turned into a street leading to the Exchange. There, under the shadow of
the colonnade, Harry told me to stop, while he left me, and went to
finish his toilet. Wondering what he meant, I stood to one side; and
presently was joined by a stranger in whiskers and mustache.
"It's me" said the stranger; and who was me but Harry, who had thus
metamorphosed himself? I asked him the reason; and in a faltering voice,
which I tried to make humorous, expressed a hope that he was not going
to turn gentleman forger.
He laughed, and assured me that it was only a precaution against being
recognized by his own particular friends in London, that he had adopted
this mode of disguising himself.
"And why afraid of your friends?" asked I, in astonishment, "and we are
not in London yet."
"Pshaw! what a Yankee you are, Wellingborough. Can't you see very
plainly that I have a plan in my head? And this disguise is only for a
short time, you know. But I'll tell you all by and by."
I acquiesced, though not feeling at ease; and we walked on, till we came
to a public house, in the vicinity of the place at which the cars are
We stopped there that night, and next day were off, whirled along
through boundless landscapes of villages, and meadows, and parks: and
over arching viaducts, and through wonderful tunnels; till, half
delirious with excitement, I found myself dropped down in the evening
among gas-lights, under a great roof in Euston Square.
London at last, and in the West-End!
XLVI. A MYSTERIOUS NIGHT IN LONDON
"No time to lose," said Harry, "come along."
He called a cab: in an undertone mentioned the number of a house in some
street to the driver; we jumped in, and were off.
As we rattled over the boisterous pavements, past splendid squares,
churches, and shops, our cabman turning corners like a skater on the
ice, and all the roar of London in my ears, and no end to the walls of
brick and mortar; I thought New York a hamlet, and Liverpool a
coal-hole, and myself somebody else: so unreal seemed every thing about
me. My head was spinning round like a top, and my eyes ached with much
gazing; particularly about the comers, owing to my darting them so
rapidly, first this side, and then that, so as not to miss any thing;
though, in truth, I missed much.
"Stop," cried Harry, after a long while, putting his head out of the
window, all at once--"stop! do you hear, you deaf man? you have passed
the house--No. 40 I told you--that's it--the high steps there, with the
The cabman being paid, Harry adjusting his whiskers and mustache, and
bidding me assume a lounging look, pushed his hat a little to one side,
and then locking arms, we sauntered into the house; myself feeling not a
little abashed; it was so long since I had been in any courtly society.
It was some semi-public place of opulent entertainment; and far
surpassed any thing of the kind I had ever seen before.
The floor was tesselated with snow-white, and russet-hued marbles; and
echoed to the tread, as if all the Paris catacombs were underneath. I
started with misgivings at that hollow, boding sound, which seemed
sighing with a subterraneous despair, through all the magnificent
spectacle around me; mocking it, where most it glared.
The walk were painted so as to deceive the eye with interminable
colonnades; and groups of columns of the finest Scagliola work of
variegated marbles--emerald-green and gold, St. Pons veined with silver,
Sienna with porphyry--supported a resplendent fresco ceiling, arched like
a bower, and thickly clustering with mimic grapes. Through all the East
of this foliage, you spied in a crimson dawn, Guide's ever youthful
Apollo, driving forth the horses of the sun. From sculptured stalactites
of vine-boughs, here and there pendent hung galaxies of gas lights,
whose vivid glare was softened by pale, cream-colored, porcelain
spheres, shedding over the place a serene, silver flood; as if every
porcelain sphere were a moon; and this superb apartment was the moon-lit
garden of Portia at Belmont; and the gentle lovers, Lorenzo and Jessica,
lurked somewhere among the vines.
At numerous Moorish looking tables, supported by Caryatides of turbaned
slaves, sat knots of gentlemanly men, with cut decanters and
taper-waisted glasses, journals and cigars, before them.
To and fro ran obsequious waiters, with spotless napkins thrown over
their arms, and making a profound salaam, and hemming deferentially,
whenever they uttered a word.
At the further end of this brilliant apartment, was a rich mahogany
turret-like structure, partly built into the wall, and communicating
with rooms in the rear. Behind, was a very handsome florid old man, with
snow-white hair and whiskers, and in a snow-white jacket--he looked like
an almond tree in blossom--who seemed to be standing, a polite sentry
over the scene before him; and it was he, who mostly ordered about the
waiters; and with a silent salute, received the silver of the guests.
Our entrance excited little or no notice; for every body present seemed
exceedingly animated about concerns of their own; and a large group was
gathered around one tall, military looking gentleman, who was reading
some India war-news from the Times, and commenting on it, in a very loud
voice, condemning, in toto, the entire campaign.
We seated ourselves apart from this group, and Harry, rapping on the
table, called for wine; mentioning some curious foreign name.
The decanter, filled with a pale yellow wine, being placed before us,
and my comrade having drunk a few glasses; he whispered me to remain
where I was, while he withdrew for a moment.
I saw him advance to the turret-like place, and exchange a confidential
word with the almond tree there, who immediately looked very much
surprised,--I thought, a Little disconcerted,--and then disappeared with
While my friend was gone, I occupied myself with looking around me, and
striving to appear as indifferent as possible, and as much used to all
this splendor as if I had been born in it. But, to tell the truth, my
head was almost dizzy with the strangeness of the sight, and the thought
that I was really in London. What would my brother have said? What would
Tom Legare, the treasurer of the Juvenile Temperance Society, have
But I almost began to fancy I had no friends and relatives living in a
little village three thousand five hundred miles off, in America; for it
was hard to unite such a humble reminiscence with the splendid animation
of the London-like scene around me.
And in the delirium of the moment, I began to indulge in foolish golden
visions of the counts and countesses to whom Harry might introduce me;
and every instant I expected to hear the waiters addressing some
gentleman as "My Lord," or "four Grace." But if there were really any
lords present, the waiters omitted their titles, at least in my hearing.
Mixed with these thoughts were confused visions of St. Paul's and the
Strand, which I determined to visit the very next morning, before
breakfast, or perish in the attempt. And I even longed for Harry's
return, that we might immediately sally out into the street, and see
some of the sights, before the shops were all closed for the night.
While I thus sat alone, I observed one of the waiters eying me a little
impertinently, as I thought, and as if he saw something queer about me.
So I tried to assume a careless and lordly air, and by way of helping
the thing, threw one leg over the other, like a young Prince Esterhazy;
but all the time I felt my face burning with embarrassment, and for the
time, I must have looked very guilty of something. But spite of this, I
kept looking boldly out of my eyes, and straight through my blushes, and
observed that every now and then little parties were made up among the
gentlemen, and they retired into the rear of the house, as if going to a
private apartment. And I overheard one of them drop the word Rouge; but
he could not have used rouge, for his face was exceedingly pale. Another
said something about Loo.
At last Harry came back, his face rather flushed.
"Come along, Redburn," said he.
So making no doubt we were off for a ramble, perhaps to Apsley House, in
the Park, to get a sly peep at the old Duke before he retired for the
night, for Harry had told me the Duke always went to bed early, I sprang
up to follow him; but what was my disappointment and surprise, when he
only led me into the passage, toward a staircase lighted by three marble
Graces, unitedly holding a broad candelabra, like an elk's antlers, over
We rambled up the long, winding slope of those aristocratic stairs,
every step of which, covered with Turkey rugs, looked gorgeous as the
hammer-cloth of the Lord Mayor's coach; and Harry hied straight to a
rosewood door, which, on magical hinges, sprang softly open to his
As we entered the room, methought I was slowly sinking in some
reluctant, sedgy sea; so thick and elastic the Persian carpeting,
mimicking parterres of tulips, and roses, and jonquils, like a bower in
Long lounges lay carelessly disposed, whose fine damask was interwoven,
like the Gobelin tapestry, with pictorial tales of tilt and tourney. And
oriental ottomans, whose cunning warp and woof were wrought into plaited
serpents, undulating beneath beds of leaves, from which, here and there,
they flashed out sudden splendors of green scales and gold.
In the broad bay windows, as the hollows of King Charles' oaks, were
Laocoon-like chairs, in the antique taste, draped with heavy fringers of
bullion and silk.
The walls, covered with a sort of tartan-French paper, variegated with
bars of velvet, were hung round with mythological oil-paintings,
suspended by tasseled cords of twisted silver and blue.
They were such pictures as the high-priests, for a bribe, showed to
Alexander in the innermost shrine of the white temple in the Libyan
oasis: such pictures as the pontiff of the sun strove to hide from
Cortez, when, sword in hand, he burst open the sanctorum of the
pyramid-fane at Cholula: such pictures as you may still see, perhaps, in
the central alcove of the excavated mansion of Pansa, in Pompeii--in that
part of it called by Varro the hollow of the house: such pictures as
Martial and Seutonius mention as being found in the private cabinet of
the Emperor Tiberius: such pictures as are delineated on the bronze
medals, to this day dug up on the ancient island of Capreas: such
pictures as you might have beheld in an arched recess, leading from the
left hand of the secret side-gallery of the temple of Aphrodite in
In the principal pier was a marble bracket, sculptured in the semblance
of a dragon's crest, and supporting a bust, most wonderful to behold. It
was that of a bald-headed old man, with a mysteriously-wicked
expression, and imposing silence by one thin finger over his lips. His
'marble mouth seemed tremulous with secrets.
"Sit down, Wellingborough," said Harry; "don't be frightened, we are at
home.--Ring the bell, will you? But stop;"--and advancing to the
mysterious bust, he whispered something in its ear.
"He's a knowing mute, Wellingborough," said he; "who stays in this one
place all the time, while he is yet running of errands. But mind you
don't breathe any secrets in his ear."
In obedience to a summons so singularly conveyed, to my amazement a
servant almost instantly appeared, standing transfixed in the attitude
of a bow.
"Cigars," said Harry. When they came, he drew up a small table into the
middle of the room, and lighting his cigar, bade me follow his example,
and make myself happy.
Almost transported with such princely quarters, so undreamed of before,
while leading my dog's life in the filthy forecastle of the Highlander,
I twirled round a chair, and seated myself opposite my friend.
But all the time, I felt ill at heart; and was filled with an
undercurrent of dismal forebodings. But I strove to dispel them; and
turning to my companion, exclaimed, "And pray, do you live here, Harry,
in this Palace of Aladdin?"
"Upon my soul," he cried, "you have hit it:--you must have been here
before! Aladdin's Palace! Why, Wellingborough, it goes by that very
Then he laughed strangely: and for the first time, I thought he had been
quaffing too freely: yet, though he looked wildly from his eyes, his
general carriage was firm.
"Who are you looking at so hard, Wellingborough?" said he.
"I am afraid, Harry," said I, "that when you left me just now, you must
have been drinking something stronger than wine."
"Hear him now," said Harry, turning round, as if addressing the
bald-headed bust on the bracket,--"a parson 'pon honor!--But remark you,
Wellingborough, my boy, I must leave you again, and for a considerably
longer time than before:--I may not be back again to-night."
"What?" said I.
"Be still," he cried, "hear me, I know the old duke here, and-"
"Who? not the Duke of Wellington," said I, wondering whether Harry was
really going to include him too, in his long list of confidential
friends and acquaintances.
"Pooh!" cried Harry, "I mean the white-whiskered old man you saw below;
they call him the Duke:--he keeps the house. I say, I know him well, and
he knows me; and he knows what brings me here, also. Well; we have
arranged every thing about you; you are to stay in this room, and sleep
here tonight, and--and--" continued he, speaking low--"you must guard this
letter--" slipping a sealed one into my hand-"and, if I am not back by
morning, you must post right on to Bury, and leave the letter
there;--here, take this paper--it's all set down here in black and
white--where you are to go, and what you are to do. And after that's
done--mind, this is all in case I don't return--then you may do what you
please: stay here in London awhile, or go back to Liverpool. And here's
enough to pay all your expenses."
All this was a thunder stroke. I thought Harry was crazy. I held the
purse in my motionless hand, and stared at him, till the tears almost
started from my eyes.
"What's the matter, Redburn?" he cried, with a wild sort of laugh--"you
are not afraid of me, are you?--No, no! I believe in you, my boy, or you
would not hold that purse in your hand; no, nor that letter."
"What in heaven's name do you mean?" at last I exclaimed, "you don't
really intend to desert me in this strange place, do you, Harry?" and I
snatched him by the hand.
"Pooh, pooh," he cried, "let me go. I tell you, it's all right: do as I
say: that's all. Promise me now, will you? Swear it!-no, no," he added,
vehemently, as I conjured him to tell me more--"no, I won't: I have
nothing more to tell you--not a word. Will you swear?"
"But one sentence more for your own sake, Harry: hear me!"
"Not a syllable! Will you swear?--you will not? then here, give me that
purse:--there--there--take that--and that--and that;--that will pay your
fare back to Liverpool; good-by to you: you are not my friend," and he
wheeled round his back.
I know not what flashed through my mind, but something suddenly impelled
me; and grasping his hand, I swore to him what he demanded.
Immediately he ran to the bust, whispered a word, and the white-whiskered
old man appeared: whom he clapped on the shoulder, and then introduced me
as his friend--young Lord Stormont; and bade the almond tree look well to
the comforts of his lordship, while he--Harry--was gone.
The almond tree blandly bowed, and grimaced, with a peculiar expression,
that I hated on the spot. After a few words more, he withdrew. Harry
then shook my hand heartily, and without giving me a chance to say one
word, seized his cap, and darted out of the room, saying, "Leave not
this room tonight; and remember the letter, and Bury!"
I fell into a chair, and gazed round at the strange-looking walls and
mysterious pictures, and up to the chandelier at the ceiling; then rose,
and opened the door, and looked down the lighted passage; but only heard
the hum from the roomful below, scattered voices, and a hushed ivory
rattling from the closed apartments adjoining. I stepped back into the
room, and a terrible revulsion came over me: I would have given the
world had I been safe back in Liverpool, fast asleep in my old bunk in
I shuddered at every footfall, and almost thought it must be some
assassin pursuing me. The whole place seemed infected; and a strange
thought came over me, that in the very damasks around, some eastern
plague had been imported. And was that pale yellow wine, that I drank
below, drugged? thought I. This must be some house whose foundations
take hold on the pit. But these fearful reveries only enchanted me fast
to my chair; so that, though I then wished to rush forth from the house,
my limbs seemed manacled.
While thus chained to my seat, something seemed suddenly flung open; a
confused sound of imprecations, mixed with the ivory rattling, louder
than before, burst upon my ear, and through the partly open door of the
room where I was, I caught sight of a tall, frantic man, with clenched
hands, wildly darting through the passage, toward the stairs.
And all the while, Harry ran through my soul--in and out, at every door,
that burst open to his vehement rush.
At that moment my whole acquaintance with him passed like lightning
through my mind, till I asked myself why he had come here, to London, to
do this thing?--why would not Liverpool have answered? and what did he
want of me? But, every way, his conduct was unaccountable. From the hour
he had accosted me on board the ship, his manner seemed gradually
changed; and from the moment we had sprung into the cab, he had seemed
almost another person from what he had seemed before.
But what could I do? He was gone, that was certain;-would he ever come
back? But he might still be somewhere in the house; and with a shudder,
I thought of that ivory rattling, and was almost ready to dart forth,
search every room, and save him. But that would be madness, and I had
sworn not to do so. There seemed nothing left, but to await his return.
Yet, if he did not return, what then? I took out the purse, and counted
over the money, and looked at the letter and paper of memoranda.
Though I vividly remember it all, I will not give the superscription of
the letter, nor the contents of the paper. But after I had looked at
them attentively, and considered that Harry could have no conceivable
object in deceiving me, I thought to myself, Yes, he's in earnest; and
here I am--yes, even in London! And here in this room will I stay, come
what will. I will implicitly follow his directions, and so see out the
last of this thing.
But spite of these thoughts, and spite of the metropolitan magnificence
around me, I was mysteriously alive to a dreadful feeling, which I had
never before felt, except when penetrating into the lowest and most
squalid haunts of sailor iniquity in Liverpool. All the mirrors and
marbles around me seemed crawling over with lizards; and I thought to
myself, that though gilded and golden, the serpent of vice is a serpent
It was now grown very late; and faint with excitement, I threw myself
upon a lounge; but for some time tossed about restless, in a sort of
night-mare. Every few moments, spite of my oath, I was upon the point of
starting up, and rushing into the street, to inquire where I was; but
remembering Harry's injunctions, and my own ignorance of the town, and
that it was now so late, I again tried to be composed.
At last, I fell asleep, dreaming about Harry fighting a duel of
dice-boxes with the military-looking man below; and the next thing I
knew, was the glare of a light before my eyes, and Harry himself, very
pale, stood before me.
"The letter and paper," he cried.
I fumbled in my pockets, and handed them to him.
"There! there! there! thus I tear you," he cried, wrenching the letter
to pieces with both hands like a madman, and stamping upon the
fragments. "I am off for America; the game is up."
"For God's sake explain," said I, now utterly bewildered, and
frightened. "Tell me, Harry, what is it? You have not been gambling?"
"Ha, ha," he deliriously laughed. "Gambling? red and white, you mean?--
cards?--dice?--the bones?--Ha, ha!--Gambling? gambling?" he ground out
between his teeth--"what two devilish, stiletto-sounding syllables they
"Wellingborough," he added, marching up to me slowly, but with his eyes
blazing into mine--"Wellingborough"--and fumbling in his breast-pocket, he
drew forth a dirk--"Here, Wellingborough, take it--take it, I say--are you
stupid?-there, there"--and he pushed it into my hands. "Keep it away from
me--keep it out of my sight--I don't want it near me, while I feel as I
do. They serve suicides scurvily here, Wellingborough; they don't bury
them decently. See that bell-rope! By Heaven, it's an invitation to hang
myself'--and seizing it by the gilded handle at the end, he twitched it
down from the wall.
"In God's name, what ails you?" I cried.
"Nothing, oh nothing," said Harry, now assuming a treacherous, tropical
calmness--"nothing, Redburn; nothing in the world. I'm the serenest of
"But give me that dirk," he suddenly cried--"let me have it, I say. Oh! I
don't mean to murder myself--I'm past that now--give it me"--and snatching
it from my hand, he flung down an empty purse, and with a terrific stab,
nailed it fast with the dirk to the table.
"There now," he cried, "there's something for the old duke to see
to-morrow morning; that's about all that's left of me--that's my
skeleton, Wellingborough. But come, don't be downhearted; there's a
little more gold yet in Golconda; I have a guinea or two left. Don't
stare so, my boy; we shall be in Liverpool to-morrow night; we start in
the morning"--and turning his back, he began to whistle very fiercely.
"And this, then," said I, "is your showing me London, is it, Harry? I
did not think this; but tell me your secret, whatever it is, and I will
not regret not seeing the town."
He turned round upon me like lightning, and cried, "Red-burn! you must
swear another oath, and instantly."
"And why?" said I, in alarm, "what more would you have me swear?"
"Never to question me again about this infernal trip to London!" he
shouted, with the foam at his lips--"never to breathe it! swear!"
"I certainly shall not trouble you, Harry, with questions, if you do not
desire it," said I, "but there's no need of swearing."
"Swear it, I say, as you love me, Redburn," he added, imploringly.
"Well, then, I solemnly do. Now lie down, and let us forget ourselves as
soon as we can; for me, you have made me the most miserable dog alive."
"And what am I?" cried Harry; "but pardon me, Redburn, I did not mean to
offend; if you knew all--but no, no!--never mind, never mind!" And he ran
to the bust, and whispered in its ear. A waiter came.
"Brandy," whispered Harry, with clenched teeth.
"Are you not going to sleep, then?" said I, more and more alarmed at his
wildness, and fearful of the effects of his drinking still more, in such
"No sleep for me! sleep if you can--I mean to sit up with a decanter!--let
me see"--looking at the ormolu clock on the mantel--"it's only two hours
The waiter, looking very sleepy, and with a green shade on his brow,
appeared with the decanter and glasses on a salver, and was told to
leave it and depart.
Seeing that Harry was not to be moved, I once more threw myself on the
lounge. I did not sleep; but, like a somnambulist, only dozed now and
then; starting from my dreams; while Harry sat, with his hat on, at the
table; the brandy before him; from which he occasionally poured into his
glass. Instead of exciting him, however, to my amazement, the spirits
seemed to soothe him down; and, ere long, he was comparatively calm.
At last, just as I had fallen into a deep sleep, I was wakened by his
shaking me, and saying our cab was at the door.
"Look! it is broad day," said he, brushing aside the heavy hangings of
We left the room; and passing through the now silent and deserted hall
of pillars, which, at this hour, reeked as with blended roses and
cigar-stumps decayed; a dumb waiter; rubbing his eyes, flung open the
street door; we sprang into the cab; and soon found ourselves whirled
along northward by railroad, toward Prince's Dock and the Highlander.
XLVII. HOMEWARD BOUND
Once more in Liverpool; and wending my way through the same old streets
to the sign of the Golden Anchor; I could scarcely credit the events of
the last thirty-six hours.
So unforeseen had been our departure in the first place; so rapid our
journey; so unaccountable the conduct of Harry; and so sudden our
return; that all united to overwhelm me. That I had been at all in
London seemed impossible; and that I had been there, and come away
little the wiser, was almost distracting to one who, like me, had so
longed to behold that metropolis of marvels.
I looked hard at Harry as he walked in silence at my side; I stared at
the houses we passed; I thought of the cab, the gas lighted hall in the
Palace of Aladdin, the pictures, the letter, the oath, the dirk; the
mysterious place where all these mysteries had occurred; and then, was
almost ready to conclude, that the pale yellow wine had been drugged.
As for Harry, stuffing his false whiskers and mustache into his pocket,
he now led the way to the boarding-house; and saluting the landlady, was
shown to his room; where we immediately shifted our clothes, appearing
once more in our sailor habiliments.
"Well, what do you propose to do now, Harry?" said I, with a heavy
"Why, visit your Yankee land in the Highlander, of course--what else?'
"And is it to be a visit, or a long stay?" asked I.
"That's as it may turn out," said Harry; "but I have now more than ever
resolved upon the sea. There is nothing like the sea for a fellow like
me, Redburn; a desperate man can not get any further than the wharf, you
know; and the next step must be a long jump. But come, let's see what
they have to eat here, and then for a cigar and a stroll. I feel better
already. Never say die, is my motto."
We went to supper; after that, sallied out; and walking along the quay
of Prince's Dock, heard that the ship Highlander had that morning been
advertised to sail in two days' time.
"Good!" exclaimed Harry; and I was glad enough myself.
Although I had now been absent from the ship a full forty-eight hours,
and intended to return to her, yet I did not anticipate being called to
any severe account for it from the officers; for several of our men had
absented themselves longer than I had, and upon their return, little or
nothing was said to them. Indeed, in some cases, the mate seemed to know
nothing about it. During the whole time we lay in Liverpool, the
discipline of the ship was altogether relaxed; and I could hardly
believe they were the same officers who were so dictatorial at sea. The
reason of this was, that we had nothing important to do; and although
the captain might now legally refuse to receive me on board, yet I was
not afraid of that, as I was as stout a lad for my years, and worked as
cheap, as any one he could engage to take my place on the homeward
Next morning we made our appearance on board before the rest of the
crew; and the mate perceiving me, said with an oath, "Well, sir, you
have thought best to return then, have you? Captain Riga and I were
flattering ourselves that you had made a run of it for good."
Then, thought I, the captain, who seems to affect to know nothing of the
proceedings of the sailors, has been aware of my absence.
"But turn to, sir, turn to," added the mate; "here! aloft there, and
free that pennant; it's foul of the backstay--jump!"
The captain coming on board soon after, looked very benevolently at
Harry; but, as usual, pretended not to take the slightest notice of
We were all now very busy in getting things ready for sea. The cargo had
been already stowed in the hold by the stevedores and lumpers from
shore; but it became the crew's business to clear away the
between-decks, extending from the cabin bulkhead to the forecastle, for
the reception of about five hundred emigrants, some of whose boxes were
already littering the decks.
To provide for their wants, a far larger supply of water was needed than
upon the outward-bound passage. Accordingly, besides the usual number of
casks on deck, rows of immense tierces were lashed amid-ships, all along
the between-decks, forming a sort of aisle on each side, furnishing
access to four rows of bunks,--three tiers, one above another,--against
the ship's sides; two tiers being placed over the tierces of water in
the middle. These bunks were rapidly knocked together with coarse
planks. They looked more like dog-kennels than any thing else;
especially as the place was so gloomy and dark; no light coming down
except through the fore and after hatchways, both of which were covered
with little houses called "booby-hatches." Upon the main-hatches, which
were well calked and covered over with heavy tarpaulins, the
"passengers-gattey" was solidly lashed down.
This galley was a large open stove, or iron range--made expressly for
emigrant ships, wholly unprotected from the weather, and where alone the
emigrants are permitted to cook their food while at sea.
After two days' work, every thing was in readiness; most of the
emigrants on board; and in the evening we worked the ship close into the
outlet of Prince's Dock, with the bow against the water-gate, to go out
with the tide in the morning.
In the morning, the bustle and confusion about us was indescribable.
Added to the ordinary clamor of the docks, was the hurrying to and fro
of our five hundred emigrants, the last of whom, with their baggage,
were now coming on board; the appearance of the cabin passengers,
following porters with their trunks; the loud orders of the
dock-masters, ordering the various ships behind us to preserve their
order of going out; the leave-takings, and good-by's, and
God-bless-you's, between the emigrants and their friends; and the cheers
of the surrounding ships.
At this time we lay in such a way, that no one could board us except by
the bowsprit, which overhung the quay. Staggering along that bowsprit,
now came a one-eyed crimp leading a drunken tar by the collar, who had
been shipped to sail with us the day previous. It has been stated
before, that two or three of our men had left us for good, while in
port. When the crimp had got this man and another safely lodged in a
bunk below, he returned on shore; and going to a miserable cab, pulled
out still another apparently drunken fellow, who proved completely
helpless. However, the ship now swinging her broadside more toward the
quay, this stupefied sailor, with a Scotch cap pulled down over his
closed eyes, only revealing a sallow Portuguese complexion, was lowered
on board by a rope under his arms, and passed forward by the crew, who
put him likewise into a bunk in the forecastle, the crimp himself
carefully tucking him in, and bidding the bystanders not to disturb him
till the ship was away from the land.
This done, the confusion increased, as we now glided out of the dock.
Hats and handkerchiefs were waved; hurrahs were exchanged; and tears
were shed; and the last thing I saw, as we shot into the stream, was a
policeman collaring a boy, and walking him off to the guard-house.
A steam-tug, the Goliath, now took us by the arm, and gallanted us down
the river past the fort.
The scene was most striking.
Owing to a strong breeze, which had been blowing up the river for four
days past, holding wind-bound in the various docks a multitude of ships
for all parts of the world; there was now under weigh, a vast fleet of
merchantmen, all steering broad out to sea. The white sails glistened in
the clear morning air like a great Eastern encampment of sultans; and
from many a forecastle, came the deep mellow old song Ho-o-he-yo,
cheerily men! as the crews called their anchors.
The wind was fair; the weather mild; the sea most smooth; and the poor
emigrants were in high spirits at so auspicious a beginning of their
voyage. They were reclining all over the decks, talking of soon seeing
America, and relating how the agent had told them, that twenty days
would be an uncommonly long voyage.
Here it must be mentioned, that owing to the great number of ships
sailing to the Yankee ports from Liverpool, the competition among them
in obtaining emigrant passengers, who as a cargo are much more
remunerative than crates and bales, is exceedingly great; so much so,
that some of the agents they employ, do not scruple to deceive the poor
applicants for passage, with all manner of fables concerning the short
space of time, in which their ships make the run across the ocean.
This often induces the emigrants to provide a much smaller stock of
provisions than they otherwise would; the effect of which sometimes
proves to be in the last degree lamentable; as will be seen further on.
And though benevolent societies have been long organized in Liverpool,
for the purpose of keeping offices, where the emigrants can obtain
reliable information and advice, concerning their best mode of
embarkation, and other matters interesting to them; and though the
English authorities have imposed a law, providing that every captain of
an emigrant ship bound for any port of America shall see to it, that
each passenger is provided with rations of food for sixty days; yet, all
this has not deterred mercenary ship-masters and unprincipled agents
from practicing the grossest deception; nor exempted the emigrants
themselves, from the very sufferings intended to be averted.
No sooner had we fairly gained the expanse of the Irish Sea, and, one by
one, lost sight of our thousand consorts, than the weather changed into
the most miserable cold, wet, and cheerless days and nights imaginable.
The wind was tempestuous, and dead in our teeth; and the hearts of the
emigrants fell. Nearly all of them had now hied below, to escape the
uncomfortable and perilous decks: and from the two "booby-hatches" came
the steady hum of a subterranean wailing and weeping. That irresistible
wrestler, sea-sickness, had overthrown the stoutest of their number, and
the women and children were embracing and sobbing in all the agonies of
the poor emigrant's first storm at sea.
Bad enough is it at such times with ladies and gentlemen in the cabin,
who have nice little state-rooms; and plenty of privacy; and stewards to
run for them at a word, and put pillows under their heads, and tenderly
inquire how they are getting along, and mix them a posset: and even
then, in the abandonment of this soul and body subduing malady, such
ladies and gentlemen will often give up life itself as unendurable, and
put up the most pressing petitions for a speedy annihilation; all of
which, however, only arises from their intense anxiety to preserve their
How, then, with the friendless emigrants, stowed away like bales of
cotton, and packed like slaves in a slave-ship; confined in a place
that, during storm time, must be closed against both light and air; who
can do no cooking, nor warm so much as a cup of water; for the drenching
seas would instantly flood their fire in their exposed galley on deck?
How, then, with these men, and women, and children, to whom a first
voyage, under the most advantageous circumstances, must come just as
hard as to the Honorable De Lancey Fitz Clarence, lady, daughter, and
Nor is this all: for in some of these ships, as in the case of the
Highlander, the emigrant passengers are cut off from the most
indispensable conveniences of a civilized dwelling. This forces them in
storm time to such extremities, that no wonder fevers and plagues are
the result. We had not been at sea one week, when to hold your head down
the fore hatchway was like holding it down a suddenly opened cesspool.
But still more than this. Such is the aristocracy maintained on board
some of these ships, that the most arbitrary measures are enforced, to
prevent the emigrants from intruding upon the most holy precincts of the
quarter-deck, the only completely open space on ship-board.
Consequently--even in fine weather--when they come up from below, they are
crowded in the waist of the ship, and jammed among the boats, casks, and
spars; abused by the seamen, and sometimes cuffed by the officers, for
unavoidably standing in the way of working the vessel.
The cabin-passengers of the Highlander numbered some fifteen in all; and
to protect this detachment of gentility from the barbarian incursions of
the "wild Irish" emigrants, ropes were passed athwart-ships, by the
main-mast, from side to side: which defined the boundary line between
those who had paid three pounds passage-money, from those who had paid
twenty guineas. And the cabin-passengers themselves were the most urgent
in having this regulation maintained.
Lucky would it be for the pretensions of some parvenus, whose souls are
deposited at their banker's, and whose bodies but serve to carry about
purses, knit of poor men's heartstrings, if thus easily they could
precisely define, ashore, the difference between them and the rest of
But, I, Redburn, am a poor fellow, who have hardly ever known what it is
to have five silver dollars in my pocket at one time; so, no doubt, this
circumstance has something to do with my slight and harmless indignation
at these things.
XLVIII. A LIVING CORPSE
It was destined that our departure from the English strand, should be
marked by a tragical event, akin to the sudden end of the suicide, which
had so strongly impressed me on quitting the American shore.
Of the three newly shipped men, who in a state of intoxication had been
brought on board at the dock gates, two were able to be engaged at their
duties, in four or five hours after quitting the pier. But the third man
yet lay in his bunk, in the self-same posture in which his limbs had
been adjusted by the crimp, who had deposited him there.
His name was down on the ship's papers as Miguel Saveda, and for Miguel
Saveda the chief mate at last came forward, shouting down the
forecastle-scuttle, and commanding his instant presence on deck. But the
sailors answered for their new comrade; giving the mate to understand
that Miguel was still fast locked in his trance, and could not obey him;
when, muttering his usual imprecation, the mate retired to the
This was in the first dog-watch, from four to six in the evening. At
about three bells, in the next watch, Max the Dutchman, who, like most
old seamen, was something of a physician in cases of drunkenness,
recommended that Miguel's clothing should be removed, in order that he
should lie more comfortably. But Jackson, who would seldom let any thing
be done in the forecastle that was not proposed by himself, capriciously
forbade this proceeding.
So the sailor still lay out of sight in his bunk, which was in the
extreme angle of the forecastle, behind the bowsprit-bitts--two stout
timbers rooted in the ship's keel. An hour or two afterward, some of the
men observed a strange odor in the forecastle, which was attributed to
the presence of some dead rat among the hollow spaces in the side
planks; for some days before, the forecastle had been smoked out, to
extirpate the vermin overrunning her. At midnight, the larboard watch,
to which I belonged, turned out; and instantly as every man waked, he
exclaimed at the now intolerable smell, supposed to be heightened by the
shaking up the bilge-water, from the ship's rolling.
"Blast that rat!" cried the Greenlander.
"He's blasted already," said Jackson, who in his drawers had crossed
over to the bunk of Miguel. "It's a water-rat, shipmates, that's dead;
and here he is"--and with that, he dragged forth the sailor's arm,
exclaiming, "Dead as a timber-head!"
Upon this the men rushed toward the bunk, Max with the light, which he
held to the man's face.
"No, he's not dead," he cried, as the yellow flame wavered for a moment
at the seaman's motionless mouth. But hardly had the words escaped,
when, to the silent horror of all, two threads of greenish fire, like a
forked tongue, darted out between the lips; and in a moment, the
cadaverous face was crawled over by a swarm of wormlike flames.
The lamp dropped from the hand of Max, and went out; while covered all
over with spires and sparkles of flame, that faintly crackled in the
silence, the uncovered parts of the body burned before us, precisely
like phosphorescent shark in a midnight sea.
The eyes were open and fixed; the mouth was curled like a scroll, and
every lean feature firm as in life; while the whole face, now wound in
curls of soft blue flame, wore an aspect of grim defiance, and eternal
death. Prometheus, blasted by fire on the rock.
One arm, its red shirt-sleeve rolled up, exposed the man's name,
tattooed in vermilion, near the hollow of the middle joint; and as if
there was something peculiar in the painted flesh, every vibrating
letter burned so white, that you might read the flaming name in the
flickering ground of blue.
"Where's that d--d Miguel?" was now shouted down among us from the
scuttle by the mate, who had just come on deck, and was determined to
have every man up that belonged to his watch.
"He's gone to the harbor where they never weigh anchor," coughed
Jackson. "Come you down, sir, and look."
Thinking that Jackson intended to beard him, the mate sprang down in a
rage; but recoiled at the burning body as if he had been shot by a
bullet. "My God!" he cried, and stood holding fast to the ladder.
"Take hold of it," said Jackson, at last, to the Greenlander; "it must
go overboard. Don't stand shaking there, like a dog; take hold of it, I
say! But stop"--and smothering it all in the blankets, he pulled it
partly out of the bunk.
A few minutes more, and it fell with a bubble among the phosphorescent
sparkles of the damp night sea, leaving a coruscating wake as it sank.
This event thrilled me through and through with unspeakable horror; nor
did the conversation of the watch during the next four hours on deck at
all serve to soothe me.
But what most astonished me, and seemed most incredible, was the
infernal opinion of Jackson, that the man had been actually dead when
brought on board the ship; and that knowingly, and merely for the sake
of the month's advance, paid into his hand upon the strength of the bill
he presented, the body-snatching crimp had knowingly shipped a corpse on
board of the Highlander, under the pretense of its being a live body in
a drunken trance. And I heard Jackson say, that he had known of such
things having been done before. But that a really dead body ever burned
in that manner, I can not even yet believe. But the sailors seemed
familiar with such things; or at least with the stories of such things
having happened to others.
For me, who at that age had never so much as happened to hear of a case
like this, of animal combustion, in the horrid mood that came over me, I
almost thought the burning body was a premonition of the hell of the
Calvinists, and that Miguel's earthly end was a foretaste of his eternal
Immediately after the burial, an iron pot of red coals was placed in the
bunk, and in it two handfuls of coffee were roasted. This done, the bunk
was nailed up, and was never opened again during the voyage; and strict
orders were given to the crew not to divulge what had taken place to the
emigrants; but to this, they needed no commands.
After the event, no one sailor but Jackson would stay alone in the
forecastle, by night or by noon; and no more would they laugh or sing,
or in any way make merry there, but kept all their pleasantries for the
watches on deck. All but Jackson: who, while the rest would be sitting
silently smoking on their chests, or in their bunks, would look toward
the fatal spot, and cough, and laugh, and invoke the dead man with
incredible scoffs and jeers. He froze my blood, and made my soul stand
There was on board our ship, among the emigrant passengers, a rich-
cheeked, chestnut-haired Italian boy, arrayed in a faded, olive-hued
velvet jacket, and tattered trowsers rolled up to his knee. He was not
above fifteen years of age; but in the twilight pensiveness of his full
morning eyes, there seemed to sleep experiences so sad and various, that
his days must have seemed to him years. It was not an eye like Harry's
tho' Harry's was large and womanly. It shone with a soft and spiritual
radiance, like a moist star in a tropic sky; and spoke of humility,
deep-seated thoughtfulness, yet a careless endurance of all the ills of
The head was if any thing small; and heaped with thick clusters of
tendril curls, half overhanging the brows and delicate ears, it somehow
reminded you of a classic vase, piled up with Falernian foliage.
From the knee downward, the naked leg was beautiful to behold as any
lady's arm; so soft and rounded, with infantile ease and grace. His
whole figure was free, fine, and indolent; he was such a boy as might
have ripened into life in a Neapolitan vineyard; such a boy as gipsies
steal in infancy; such a boy as Murillo often painted, when he went
among the poor and outcast, for subjects wherewith to captivate the eyes
of rank and wealth; such a boy, as only Andalusian beggars are, full of
poetry, gushing from every rent.
Carlo was his name; a poor and friendless son of earth, who had no sire;
and on life's ocean was swept along, as spoon-drift in a gale.
Some months previous, he had landed in Prince's Dock, with his hand-
organ, from a Messina vessel; and had walked the streets of Liverpool,
playing the sunny airs of southern chines, among the northern fog and
drizzle. And now, having laid by enough to pay his passage over the
Atlantic, he had again embarked, to seek his fortunes in America.
From the first, Harry took to the boy.
"Carlo," said Harry, "how did you succeed in England?"
He was reclining upon an old sail spread on the long-boat; and throwing
back his soiled but tasseled cap, and caressing one leg like a child, he
looked up, and said in his broken English--that seemed like mixing the
potent wine of Oporto with some delicious syrup:--said he, "Ah! I succeed
very well!--for I have tunes for the young and the old, the gay and the
sad. I have marches for military young men, and love-airs for the
ladies, and solemn sounds for the aged. I never draw a crowd, but I know
from their faces what airs will best please them; I never stop before a
house, but I judge from its portico for what tune they will soonest toss
me some silver. And I ever play sad airs to the merry, and merry airs to
the sad; and most always the rich best fancy the sad, and the poor the
"But do you not sometimes meet with cross and crabbed old men," said
Harry, "who would much rather have your room than your music?"
"Yes, sometimes," said Carlo, playing with his foot, "sometimes I do."
"And then, knowing the value of quiet to unquiet men, I suppose you
never leave them under a shilling?"
"No," continued the boy, "I love my organ as I do myself, for it is my
only friend, poor organ! it sings to me when I am sad, and cheers me;
and I never play before a house, on purpose to be paid for leaving off,
not I; would I, poor organ?"--looking down the hatchway where it was.
"No, that I never have done, and never will do, though I starve; for
when people drive me away, I do not think my organ is to blame, but they
themselves are to blame; for such people's musical pipes are cracked,
and grown rusted, that no more music can be breathed into their souls."
"No, Carlo; no music like yours, perhaps," said Harry, with a laugh.
"Ah! there's the mistake. Though my organ is as full of melody, as a
hive is of bees; yet no organ can make music in unmusical breasts; no
more than my native winds can, when they breathe upon a harp without
Next day was a serene and delightful one; and in the evening when the
vessel was just rippling along impelled by a gentle yet steady breeze,
and the poor emigrants, relieved from their late sufferings, were
gathered on deck; Carlo suddenly started up from his lazy reclinings;
went below, and, assisted by the emigrants, returned with his organ.
Now, music is a holy thing, and its instruments, however humble, are to
be loved and revered. Whatever has made, or does make, or may make
music, should be held sacred as the golden bridle-bit of the Shah of
Persia's horse, and the golden hammer, with which his hoofs are shod.
Musical instruments should be like the silver tongs, with which the
high-priests tended the Jewish altars--never to be touched by a hand
profane. Who would bruise the poorest reed of Pan, though plucked from a
beggar's hedge, would insult the melodious god himself.
And there is no humble thing with music in it, not a fife, not a
negro-fiddle, that is not to be reverenced as much as the grandest
architectural organ that ever rolled its flood-tide of harmony down a
cathedral nave. For even a Jew's-harp may be so played, as to awaken all
the fairies that are in us, and make them dance in our souls, as on a
moon-lit sward of violets.
But what subtle power is this, residing in but a bit of steel, which
might have made a tenpenny nail, that so enters, without knocking, into
our inmost beings, and shows us all hidden things?
Not in a spirit of foolish speculation altogether, in no merely
transcendental mood, did the glorious Greek of old fancy the human soul
to be essentially a harmony. And if we grant that theory of Paracelsus
and Campanella, that every man has four souls within him; then can we
account for those banded sounds with silver links, those quartettes of
melody, that sometimes sit and sing within us, as if our souls were
baronial halls, and our music were made by the hoarest old harpers of
But look! here is poor Carlo's organ; and while the silent crowd
surrounds him, there he stands, looking mildly but inquiringly about
him; his right hand pulling and twitching the ivory knobs at one end of
Behold the organ!
Surely, if much virtue lurk in the old fiddles of Cremona, and if their
melody be in proportion to their antiquity, what divine ravishments may
we not anticipate from this venerable, embrowned old organ, which might
almost have played the Dead March in Saul, when King Saul himself was
A fine old organ! carved into fantastic old towers, and turrets, and
belfries; its architecture seems somewhat of the Gothic, monastic order;
in front, it looks like the West-Front of York Minster.
What sculptured arches, leading into mysterious intricacies!--what
mullioned windows, that seem as if they must look into chapels flooded
with devotional sunsets!--what flying buttresses, and gable-ends, and
niches with saints!--But stop! 'tis a Moorish iniquity; for here, as I
live, is a Saracenic arch; which, for aught I know, may lead into some
Ay, it does; for as Carlo now turns his hand, I hear the gush of the
Fountain of Lions, as he plays some thronged Italian air--a mixed and
liquid sea of sound, that dashes its spray in my face.
Play on, play on, Italian boy! what though the notes be broken, here's
that within that mends them. Turn hither your pensive, morning eyes; and
while I list to the organs twain--one yours, one mine--let me gaze
fathoms down into thy fathomless eye;--'tis good as gazing down into the
great South Sea, and seeing the dazzling rays of the dolphins there.
Play on, play on! for to every note come trooping, now, triumphant
standards, armies marching--all the pomp of sound. Methinks I am Xerxes,
the nucleus of the martial neigh of all the Persian studs. Like gilded
damask-flies, thick clustering on some lofty bough, my satraps swarm
But now the pageant passes, and I droop; while Carlo taps his ivory
knobs; and plays some flute-like saraband--soft, dulcet, dropping sounds,
like silver cans in bubbling brooks. And now a clanging, martial air, as
if ten thousand brazen trumpets, forged from spurs and swordhilts,
called North, and South, and East, to rush to West!
Again-what blasted heath is this?--what goblin sounds of Macbeth's
witches?--Beethoven's Spirit Waltz! the muster-call of sprites and
specters. Now come, hands joined, Medusa, Hecate, she of Endor, and all
the Blocksberg's, demons dire.
Once more the ivory knobs are tapped; and long-drawn, golden sounds are
heard-some ode to Cleopatra; slowly loom, and solemnly expand, vast,
rounding orbs of beauty; and before me float innumerable queens, deep
dipped in silver gauzes.
All this could Carlo do--make, unmake me; build me up; to pieces take me;
and join me limb to limb. He is the architect of domes of sound, and
bowers of song.
And all is done with that old organ! Reverenced, then, be all street
organs; more melody is at the beck of my Italian boy, than lurks in
squadrons of Parisian orchestras.
But look! Carlo has that to feast the eye as well as ear; and the same
wondrous magic in me, magnifies them into grandeur; though every figure
greatly needs the artist's repairing hand, and sadly needs a dusting.
His York Minster's West-Front opens; and like the gates of Milton's
heaven, it turns on golden binges.
What have we here? The inner palace of the Great Mogul? Group and gilded
columns, in confidential clusters; fixed fountains; canopies and
lounges; and lords and dames in silk and spangles.
The organ plays a stately march; and presto! wide open arches; and out
come, two and two, with nodding plumes, in crimson turbans, a troop of
martial men; with jingling scimiters, they pace the hall; salute, pass
on, and disappear.
Now, ground and lofty tumblers; jet black Nubian slaves. They fling
themselves on poles; stand on their heads; and downward vanish.
And now a dance and masquerade of figures, reeling from the side-doors,
among the knights and dames. Some sultan leads a sultaness; some
emperor, a queen; and jeweled sword-hilts of carpet knights fling back
the glances tossed by coquettes of countesses.
On this, the curtain drops; and there the poor old organ stands,
begrimed, and black, and rickety.
Now, tell me, Carlo, if at street corners, for a single penny, I may
thus transport myself in dreams Elysian, who so rich as I? Not he who
owns a million.
And Carlo! ill betide the voice that ever greets thee, my Italian boy,
with aught but kindness; cursed the slave who ever drives thy wondrous
box of sights and sounds forth from a lordling's door!
L. HARRY BOLTON AT SEA
As yet I have said nothing about how my friend, Harry, got along as a
Poor Harry! a feeling of sadness, never to be comforted, comes over me,
even now when I think of you. For this voyage that you went, but carried
you part of the way to that ocean grave, which has buried you up with
your secrets, and whither no mourning pilgrimage can be made.
But why this gloom at the thought of the dead? And why should we not be
glad? Is it, that we ever think of them as departed from all joy? Is it,
that we believe that indeed they are dead? They revisit us not, the
departed; their voices no more ring in the air; summer may come, but it
is winter with them; and even in our own limbs we feel not the sap that
every spring renews the green life of the trees.
But Harry! you live over again, as I recall your image before me. I see
you, plain and palpable as in life; and can make your existence obvious
to others. Is he, then, dead, of whom this may be said?
But Harry! you are mixed with a thousand strange forms, the centaurs of
fancy; half real and human, half wild and grotesque. Divine imaginings,
like gods, come down to the groves of our Thessalies, and there, in the
embrace of wild, dryad reminiscences, beget the beings that astonish the
But Harry! though your image now roams in my Thessaly groves, it is the
same as of old; and among the droves of mixed beings and centaurs, you
show like a zebra, banding with elks.
And indeed, in his striped Guernsey frock, dark glossy skin and hair,
Harry Bolton, mingling with the Highlander's crew, looked not unlike the
soft, silken quadruped-creole, that, pursued by wild Bushmen, bounds
through Caffrarian woods.
How they hunted you, Harry, my zebra! those ocean barbarians, those
unimpressible, uncivilized sailors of ours! How they pursued you from
bowsprit to mainmast, and started you out of your every retreat!
Before the day of our sailing, it was known to the seamen that the
girlish youth, whom they daily saw near the sign of the Clipper in
Union-street, would form one of their homeward-bound crew. Accordingly,
they cast upon him many a critical glance; but were not long in
concluding that Harry would prove no very great accession to their
strength; that the hoist of so tender an arm would not tell many
hundred-weight on the maintop-sail halyards. Therefore they disliked him
before they became acquainted with him; and such dislikes, as every one
knows, are the most inveterate, and liable to increase. But even sailors
are not blind to the sacredness that hallows a stranger; and for a time,
abstaining from rudeness, they only maintained toward my friend a cold
and unsympathizing civility.
As for Harry, at first the novelty of the scene filled up his mind; and
the thought of being bound for a distant land, carried with it, as with
every one, a buoyant feeling of undefinable expectation. And though his
money was now gone again, all but a sovereign or two, yet that troubled
him but little, in the first flush of being at sea.
But I was surprised, that one who had certainly seen much of life,
should evince such an incredible ignorance of what was wholly
inadmissible in a person situated as he was. But perhaps his familiarity
with lofty life, only the less qualified him for understanding the other
extreme. Will you believe me, this Bury blade once came on deck in a
brocaded dressing-gown, embroidered slippers, and tasseled smoking-cap,
to stand his morning watch.
As soon as I beheld him thus arrayed, a suspicion, which had previously
crossed my mind, again recurred, and I almost vowed to myself that,
spite his protestations, Harry Bolton never could have been at sea
before, even as a Guinea-pig in an Indiaman; for the slightest
acquaintance with the sea-life and sailors, should have prevented him,
it would seem, from enacting this folly.
"Who's that Chinese mandarin?" cried the mate, who had made voyages to
Canton. "Look you, my fine fellow, douse that mainsail now, and furl it
in a trice."
"Sir?" said Harry, starting back. "Is not this the morning watch, and is
not mine a morning gown?"
But though, in my refined friend's estimation, nothing could be more
appropriate; in the mate's, it was the most monstrous of incongruities;
and the offensive gown and cap were removed.
"It is too bad!" exclaimed Harry to me; "I meant to lounge away the
watch in that gown until coffee time;--and I suppose your Hottentot of a
mate won't permit a gentleman to smoke his Turkish pipe of a morning;
but by gad, I'll wear straps to my pantaloons to spite him!"
Oh! that was the rock on which you split, poor Harry! Incensed at the
want of polite refinement in the mates and crew, Harry, in a pet and
pique, only determined to provoke them the more; and the storm of
indignation he raised very soon overwhelmed him.
The sailors took a special spite to his chest, a large mahogany one,
which he had had made to order at a furniture warehouse. It was
ornamented with brass screw-heads, and other devices; and was well
filled with those articles of the wardrobe in which Harry had sported
through a London season; for the various vests and pantaloons he had
sold in Liverpool, when in want of money, had not materially lessened
his extensive stock.
It was curious to listen to the various hints and opinings thrown out by
the sailors at the occasional glimpses they had of this collection of
silks, velvets, broadcloths, and satins. I do not know exactly what they
thought Harry had been; but they seemed unanimous in believing that, by
abandoning his country, Harry had left more room for the gamblers.
Jackson even asked him to lift up the lower hem of his browsers, to test
the color of his calves.
It is a noteworthy circumstance, that whenever a slender made youth, of
easy manners and polite address happens to form one of a ship's company,
the sailors almost invariably impute his sea-going to an irresistible
necessity of decamping from terra-firma in order to evade the
These white-fingered gentry must be light-fingered too, they say to
themselves, or they would not be after putting their hands into our tar.
What else can bring them to sea?
Cogent and conclusive this; and thus Harry, from the very beginning, was
put down for a very equivocal character.
Sometimes, however, they only made sport of his appearance; especially
one evening, when his monkey jacket being wet through, he was obliged to
mount one of his swallow-tailed coats. They said he carried two
mizzen-peaks at his stern; declared he was a broken-down quill-driver,
or a footman to a Portuguese running barber, or some old maid's
tobacco-boy. As for the captain, it had become all the same to Harry as
if there were no gentlemanly and complaisant Captain Riga on board. For
to his no small astonishment,--but just as I had predicted,--Captain Riga
never noticed him now, but left the business of indoctrinating him into
the little experiences of a greenhorn's career solely in the hands of
his officers and crew.
But the worst was to come. For the first few days, whenever there was
any running aloft to be done, I noticed that Harry was indefatigable in
coiling away the slack of the rigging about decks; ignoring the fact
that his shipmates were springing into the shrouds. And when all hands
of the watch would be engaged clewing up a t'-gallant-sail, that is,
pulling the proper ropes on deck that wrapped the sail up on the yard
aloft, Harry would always manage to get near the belaying-pin, so that
when the time came for two of us to spring into the rigging, he would be
inordinately fidgety in making fast the clew-lines, and would be so
absorbed in that occupation, and would so elaborate the hitchings round
the pin, that it was quite impossible for him, after doing so much, to
mount over the bulwarks before his comrades had got there. However,
after securing the clew-lines beyond a possibility of their getting
loose, Harry would always make a feint of starting in a prodigious hurry
for the shrouds; but suddenly looking up, and seeing others in advance,
would retreat, apparently quite chagrined that he had been cut off from
the opportunity of signalizing his activity.
At this I was surprised, and spoke to my friend; when the alarming fact
was confessed, that he had made a private trial of it, and it never
would do: he could not go aloft; his nerves would not hear of it.
"Then, Harry," said I, "better you had never been born. Do you know what
it is that you are coming to? Did you not tell me that you made no doubt
you would acquit yourself well in the rigging? Did you not say that you
had been two voyages to Bombay? Harry, you were mad to ship. But you
only imagine it: try again; and my word for it, you will very soon find
yourself as much at home among the spars as a bird in a tree."
But he could not be induced to try it over again; the fact was, his