Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Mary Munarin and David Widger
[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]
THE CONFESSIONS OF HARRY LORREQUER, v6
[By Charles James Lever (1806-1872)]
Volume 6. (Chapter XLII-LV)
A Reminscence of the East
A Day in the Phoenix
An Adventure in Canada
The Courier's Passport
A Night in Strasbourg
Jack Waller's Story
Inn at Munich
Trevanion came at last. He had obtained my passport, and engaged a
carriage to convey me about eight miles, where I should overtake the
diligence--such a mode of travelling being judged more likely to favour
my escape, by attracting less attention than posting. It was past ten
when I left the Rue St. Honore, having shaken hands with Trevanion for
the last time, and charged him with ten thousand soft messages for the
"friends" I left behind me.
When I arrived at the village of St. Jacques, the diligence had not come
up. To pass away the time, I ordered a little supper and a bottle of St.
Julien. Scarcely had I seated myself to my "cotelette," when the rapid
whirl of wheels was heard without, and a cab drew up suddenly at the
door. So naturally does the fugitive suspect pursuit, that my immediate
impression was, that I was followed. In this notion I was strengthened
by the tones of a cracked, discordant voice, asking in very peculiar
French if the "diligence had passed?" Being answered in the negative he
walked into the room where I was, and speedily by his appearance, removed
any apprehensions I had felt as to my safety. Nothing could less
resemble the tall port and sturdy bearing of a gendarme, than the
diminutive and dwarfish individual before me. His height could scarcely
have reached five feet, of which the head formed fully a fourth part; and
even this was rendered in appearance still greater by a mass of loosely
floating black hair that fell upon his neck and shoulders, and gave him
much the air of a "black lion" on a sign board. His black frock,
fur-collared and braided--his ill-made boots, his meerschaum projecting
from his breast-pocket, above all, his unwashed hands, and a heavy gold
ring upon his thumb--all made up an ensemble of evidences that showed he
could be nothing but a German. His manner was bustling, impatient, and
had it not been ludicrous, would certainly be considered as insolent to
every one about him, for he stared each person abruptly in the face, and
mumbled some broken expressions of his opinion of them half-aloud in
German. His comments ran on:--"Bon soir, Monsieur," to the host: "Ein
boesewicht, ganz sicher"--"a scoundrel without doubt;" and then added,
still lower, "Rob you here as soon as look at you." "Ah, postillion!
comment va?"--"much more like a brigand after all--I know which I'd take
you for." "Ver fluchte fraw"--"how ugly the woman is." This compliment
was intended for the hostess, who curtsied down to the ground in her
ignorance. At last approaching me, he stopped, and having steadily
surveyed me, muttered, "Ein echter Englander"--"a thorough Englishman,
always eating." I could not resist the temptation to assure him that I
was perfectly aware of his flattering impression in my behalf, though I
had speedily to regret my precipitancy, for, less mindful of the rebuke
than pleased at finding some one who understood German, he drew his chair
beside me and entered into conversation.
Every one has surely felt, some time or other in life, the insufferable
annoyance of having his thoughts and reflections interfered with, and
broken in upon by the vulgar impertinence and egotism of some "bore,"
who, mistaking your abstraction for attention and your despair for
delight, inflicts upon you his whole life and adventures, when your own
immediate destinies are perhaps vacillating in the scale.
Such a doom was now mine! Occupied as I was by the hope of the future,
and my fears lest any impediment to my escape should blast my prospects
for ever, I preferred appearing to pay attention to this confounded
fellow's "personal narrative" lest his questions, turning on my own
affairs, might excite suspicions as to the reasons of my journey.
I longed most ardently for the arrival of the diligence, trusting that
with true German thrift, by friend might prefer the cheapness of the
"interieure" to the magnificence of the "coupe," and that thus I should
see no more of him. But in this pleasing hope I was destined to be
disappointed, for I was scarcely seated in my place when I found him
beside me. The third occupant of this "privileged den," as well as my
lamp-light survey of him permitted, afforded nothing to build on as a
compensation for the German. He was a tall, lanky, lantern-jawed man,
with a hook nose and projecting chin; his hair, which had only been
permitted to grow very lately, formed that curve upon his forehead we
see in certain old fashioned horse-shoe wigs; his compressed lip and
hard features gave the expression of one who had seen a good deal of the
world, and didn't think the better of it in consequence. I observed that
he listened to the few words we spoke while getting in with some
attention, and then, like a person who did not comprehend the language,
turned his shoulder towards us, and soon fell asleep. I was now left to
the "tender mercies" of my talkative companion, who certainly spared me
not. Notwithstanding my vigorous resolves to turn a deaf ear to his
narratives, I could not avoid learning that he was the director of music
to some German prince--that he had been to Paris to bring out an opera
which having, as he said, a "success pyramidal," he was about to repeat in
Strasbourg. He further informed me that a depute from Alsace had
obtained for him a government permission to travel with the courier; but
that he being "social" withal, and no ways proud, preferred the democracy
of the diligence to the solitary grandeur of the caleche, (for which
heaven confound him,) and thus became my present companion.
Music, in all its shapes and forms made up the staple of the little
man's talk. There was scarcely an opera or an overture, from Mozart to
Donizetti, that he did not insist upon singing a scene from; and wound up
all by a very pathetic lamentation over English insensibility to music,
which he in great part attributed to our having only one opera, which he
kindly informed me was "Bob et Joan." However indisposed to check the
current of his loquacity by any effort of mine, I could not avoid the
temptation to translate for him a story which Sir Walter Scott once
related to me, and was so far apropos, as conveying my own sense of the
merits of our national music, such as we have it, by its association with
scenes, and persons, and places we are all familiar with, however
unintelligible to the ear of a stranger.
A young French viscomte was fortunate enough to obtain in marriage the
hand of a singularly pretty Scotch heiress of an old family and good
fortune, who, amongst her other endowments, possessed a large
old-fashioned house in a remote district of the highlands, where her
ancestors had resided for centuries. Thither the young couple repaired
to pass their honeymoon; the enamoured bridegroom gladly availing himself
of the opportunity to ingratiate himself with his new connexion, by
adopting the seclusion he saw practised by the English on such occasions.
However consonant to our notions of happiness, and however conducive to
our enjoyment this custom be--and I have strong doubts upon the subject
--it certainly prospered ill with the volatile Frenchman, who pined for
Paris, its cafes, its boulevards, its maisons de jeu, and its soirees.
His days were passed in looking from the deep and narrow windows of some
oak-framed room upon the bare and heath-clad moors, or watching the
cloud's shadows as they passed across the dark pine trees that closed the
Ennuyee to death, and convinced that he had sacrificed enough and more
than enough to the barbarism which demanded such a "sejour," he was
sitting one evening listlessly upon the terrace in front of the house,
plotting a speedy escape from his gloomy abode, and meditating upon the
life of pleasure that awaited him, when the discordant twang of some
savage music broke upon his ear, and roused him from his reverie. The
wild scream and fitful burst of a highland pibroch is certainly not the
most likely thing in nature to allay the irritable and ruffled feelings
of an irascible person--unless, perhaps, the hearer eschew breeches. So
thought the viscomte. He started hurriedly up, and straight before him,
upon the gravel-walk, beheld the stalwart figure and bony frame of an old
highlander, blowing, with all his lungs, the "Gathering of the clans."
With all the speed he could muster, he rushed into the house, and,
calling his servants, ordered them to expel the intruder, and drive him
at once outside the demesne. When the mandate was made known to the old
piper, it was with the greatest difficulty he could be brought to
comprehend it--for, time out of mind, his approach had been hailed
with every demonstration of rejoicing; and now--but no; the thing was
impossible--there must be a mistake somewhere. He was accordingly about
to recommence, when a second and stronger hint suggested to him that it
were safer to depart. "Maybe the 'carl' did na like the pipes," said the
highlander musingly, as he packed them up for his march. "Maybe he did
na like me;" "perhaps, too, he was na in the humour of music." He paused
for an instant as if reflecting--not satisfied, probably, that he had hit
upon the true solution--when suddenly his eye brightened, his lips
curled, and fixing a look upon the angry Frenchman, he said--"Maybe ye
are right enow--ye heard them ower muckle in Waterloo to like the skirl
o' them ever since;" with which satisfactory explanation, made in no
spirit of bitterness or raillery, but in the simple belief that he had
at last hit the mark of the viscomte's antipathy, the old man gathered
up his plaid and departed.
However disposed I might have felt towards sleep, the little German
resolved I should not obtain any, for when for half an hour together I
would preserve a rigid silence, he, nowise daunted, had recourse to some
German "lied," which he gave forth with an energy of voice and manner
that must have aroused every sleeper in the diligence: so that, fain to
avoid this, I did my best to keep him on the subject of his adventures,
which, as a man of successful gallantry, were manifold indeed. Wearying
at last, even of this subordinate part, I fell into a kind of half doze.
The words of a student song he continued to sing without ceasing for
above an hour--being the last waking thought on my memory.
Less as a souvenir of the singer than a specimen of its class I give here
a rough translation of the well-known Burschen melody called
The Pope, he leads a happy life,
He fears not married care, nor strife,
He drinks the best of Rhenish wine,
I would the Pope's gay lot were mine.
He drinks the best of Rhenish wine.
I would the Pope's gay lot were mine.
But then all happy's not his life,
He has not maid, nor blooming wife;
Nor child has he to raise his hope--
I would not wish to be the Pope.
The Sultan better pleases me,
His is a life of jollity;
His wives are many as he will--
I would the Sultan's throne then fill.
But even he's a wretched man,
He must obey his Alcoran;
And dares not drink one drop of wine--
I would not change his lot for mine.
So then I'll hold my lowly stand,
And live in German Vaterland;
I'll kiss my maiden fair and fine,
And drink the best of Rhenish wine.
Whene'er my maiden kisses me,
I'll think that I the Sultan be;
And when my cheery glass I tope,
I'll fancy then I am the Pope.
It was with a feeling of pleasure I cannot explain, that I awoke in the
morning, and found myself upon the road. The turmoil, the bustle, the
never-ending difficulties of my late life in Paris had so over-excited
and worried me, that I could neither think nor reflect. Now all these
cares and troubles were behind me, and I felt like a liberated prisoner
as I looked upon the grey dawn of the coming day, as it gradually melted
from its dull and leaden tint to the pink and yellow hue of the rising
sun. The broad and richly-coloured plains of "la belle France" were
before me--and it is "la belle France," however inferior to parts of
England in rural beauty--the large tracts of waving yellow corn,
undulating like a sea in the morning breeze--the interminable reaches of
forest, upon which the shadows played and flitted, deepening the effect
and mellowing the mass, as we see them in Ruysdael's pictures--while now
and then some tall-gabled, antiquated chateau, with its mutilated terrace
and dowager-like air of bye-gone grandeur, would peep forth at the end of
some long avenue of lime trees, all having their own features of
beauty--and a beauty with which every object around harmonizes well.
The sluggish peasant, in his blouse and striped night-cap--the heavily
caparisoned horse, shaking his head amidst a Babel-tower of gaudy worsted
tassels and brass bells--the deeply laden waggon, creeping slowly
along--are all in keeping with a scene, where the very mist that rises
from the valley seems indolent and lazy, and unwilling to impart the rich
perfume of verdure with which it is loaded. Every land has its own
peculiar character of beauty. The glaciered mountain, the Alpine peak,
the dashing cataract of Switzerland and the Tyrol, are not finer in their
way than the long flat moorlands of a Flemish landscape, with its clump
of stunted willows cloistering over some limpid brook, in which the oxen
are standing for shelter from the noon-day heat--while, lower down, some
rude water-wheel is mingling its sounds with the summer bees and the
merry voices of the miller and his companions. So strayed my thoughts as
the German shook me by the arm, and asked if "I were not ready for my
breakfast?" Luckily to this question there is rarely but the one answer.
Who is not ready for his breakfast when on the road? How delightful, if
on the continent, to escape from the narrow limits of the dungeon-like
diligence, where you sit with your knees next your collar-bone, fainting
with heat and suffocated by dust, and find yourself suddenly beside the
tempting "plats" of a little French dejeune, with its cutlets, its fried
fish, its poulet, its salad, and its little entre of fruit, tempered with
a not despicable bottle of Beaune. If in England, the exchange is nearly
as grateful--for though our travelling be better, and our equipage less
"genante," still it is no small alterative from the stage-coach to the
inn parlour, redolent of aromatic black tea, eggs, and hot toast, with a
hospitable side-board of red, raw surloins, and York hams, that would
made a Jew's mouth water. While, in America, the change is greatest of
all, as any one can vouch for who has been suddenly emancipated from the
stove-heat of a "nine-inside" leathern "conveniency," bumping ten miles
an hour over a corduroy road, the company smoking, if not worse; to the
ample display of luxurious viands displayed upon the breakfast-table,
where, what with buffalo steaks, pumpkin pie, gin cock-tail, and other
aristocratically called temptations, he must be indeed fastidious who
cannot employ his half-hour. Pity it is, when there is so much good to
eat, that people will not partake of it like civilized beings, and with
that air of cheerful thankfulness that all other nations more or less
express when enjoying the earth's bounties. But true it is, that there
is a spirit of discontent in the Yankee, that seems to accept of benefits
with a tone of dissatisfaction, if not distrust. I once made this remark
to an excellent friend of mine now no more, who, however, would not
permit of my attributing this feature to the Americans exclusively,
adding, "Where have you more of this than in Ireland? and surely you
would not call the Irish ungrateful?" He illustrated his first remark by
the following short anecdote:--
The rector of the parish my friend lived in was a man who added to the
income he derived from his living a very handsome private fortune, which
he devoted entirely to the benefit of the poor around him. Among the
objects of his bounty one old woman--a childless widow, was remarkably
distinguished. Whether commiserating her utter helplessness or her
complete isolation, he went farther to relieve her than to many, if not
all, the other poor. She frequently was in the habit of pleading her
poverty as a reason for not appearing in church among her neighbours;
and he gladly seized an opportunity of so improving her condition, that
on this score at least no impediment existed. When all his little plans
for her comfort had been carried into execution, he took the opportunity
one day of dropping in, as if accidentally, to speak to her. By degrees
he led the subject to her changed condition in life--the alteration from
a cold, damp, smoky hovel, to a warm, clean, slated house--the cheerful
garden before the door that replaced the mud-heap and the duck-pool--and
all the other happy changes which a few weeks had effected. And he then
asked, did she not feel grateful to a bountiful Providence that had
showered down so many blessings upon her head?
"Ah, troth, its thrue for yer honour, I am grateful," she replied, in a
whining discordant tone, which astonished the worthy parson.
"Of course you are, my good woman, of course you are--but I mean to say,
don't you feel that every moment you live is too short to express your
thankfulness to this kind Providence for what he has done?"
"Ah, darlin', it's all thrue, he's very good, he's mighty kind, so he
"Why then, not acknowledge it in a different manner?" said the parson,
with some heat--"has he not housed you, and fed you, and clothed you?"
"Yes, alanah, he done it all."
"Well, where is your gratitude for all these mercies?"
"Ah, sure if he did," said the old crone, roused at length by the
importunity of the questioner--"sure if he did, doesn't he take it
out o' me in the corns?"
A REMINISCENCE OF THE EAST.
The breakfast-table assembled around it the three generations of men who
issued from the three subdivisions of the diligence, and presented that
motley and mixed assemblage of ranks, ages, and countries, which forms
so very amusing a part of a traveller's experience.
First came the "haute aristocratie" of the coupe, then the middle class
of the interieure, and lastly, the tiers etat of the rotonde, with its
melange of Jew money-lenders, under-officers and their wives, a Norman
nurse with a high cap and a red jupe; while, to close the procession, a
German student descended from the roof, with a beard, a blouse, and a
meerschaum. Of such materials was our party made up; and yet, differing
in all our objects and interests, we speedily amalgamated into a very
social state of intimacy, and chatted away over our breakfast with much
good humour and gaiety. Each person of the number seeming pleased at the
momentary opportunity of finding a new listener, save my tall companion
of the coupe. He preserved a dogged silence, unbroken by even a chance
expression to the waiter, who observed his wants and supplied them by a
species of quick instinct, evidently acquired by practice. As I could
not help feeling somewhat interested about the hermit-like attachment he
evinced for solitude, I watched him narrowly for some time, and at length
as the "roti" made its appearance before him, after he had helped himself
and tasted it, he caught my eye fixed upon him, and looking at me
intently for a few seconds, he seemed to be satisfied in some passing
doubt he laboured under, as he said with a most peculiar shake of the
head--"No mangez, no mangez cela."
"Ah," said I, detecting in my friend's French his English origin, "you
are an Englishman I find."
"The devil a doubt of it, darlin'," said he half testily.
"An Irishman, too--still better," said I.
"Why then isn't it strange that my French always shows me to be English,
and my English proves me Irish? It's lucky for me there's no going
farther any how."
Delighted to have thus fallen upon a "character," as the Irishman
evidently appeared, I moved my chair towards his; and finding, however,
he was not half pleased at the manner in which my acquaintance had been
made with him, and knowing his country's susceptibility of being taken by
a story, I resolved to make my advances by narrating a circumstance which
had once befallen me in my early life.
Our countrymen, English and Irish, travel so much now a days, that one
ought never to feel surprised at finding them anywhere. The instance I
am about to relate will verify to a certain extent the fact, by showing
that no situation is too odd or too unlikely to be within the verge of
When the 10th foot, to which I then belonged, were at Corfu, I obtained
with three other officers a short leave of absence, to make a hurried
tour of the Morea, and taking a passing glance at Constantinople--in
those days much less frequently visited by travellers than at present.
After rambling pleasantly about for some weeks, we were about to return,
when we determined that before sailing we should accept an invitation
some officers of the "Dwarf" frigate, then stationed there, had given us,
to pass a day at Pera, and pic-nic in the mountain.
One fine bright morning was therefore selected--a most appetizing little
dinner being carefully packed up--we set out, a party of fourteen, upon
The weather was glorious, and the scene far finer than any of us had
anticipated--the view from the mountain extending over the entire city,
gorgeous in the rich colouring of its domes and minarets; while, at one
side, the golden horn was visible, crowded with ships of every nation,
and, at the other, a glimpse might be had of the sea of Marmora, blue and
tranquil as it lay beneath. The broad bosom of the Bosphorus was sheeted
out like a map before us--peaceful yet bustling with life and animation.
Here lay the union-jack of old England, floating beside the lilies of
France--we speak of times when lilies were and barricades were not--the
tall and taper spars of a Yankee frigate towering above the low timbers
and heavy hull of a Dutch schooner--the gilded poop and curved galleries
of a Turkish three-decker, anchored beside the raking mast and curved
deck of a suspicious looking craft, whose red-capped and dark-visaged
crew needed not the naked creese at their sides to bespeak them Malays.
The whole was redolent of life, and teeming with food for one's fancy to
While we were debating upon the choice of a spot for our luncheon, which
should command the chief points of view within our reach, one of the
party came to inform us that he had just discovered the very thing we
were in search of. It was a small kiosk, built upon a projecting rock
that looked down upon the Bosphorus and the city, and had evidently, from
the extended views it presented, been selected as the spot to build upon.
The building itself was a small octagon, open on every side, and
presenting a series of prospects, land and seaward, of the most varied
and magnificent kind.
Seeing no one near, nor any trace of habitation, we resolved to avail
ourselves of the good taste of the founder; and spreading out the
contents of our hampers, proceeded to discuss a most excellent cold
dinner. When the good things had disappeared, and the wine began to
circulate, one of the party observed that we should not think of enjoying
ourselves before we had filled a bumper to the brim, to the health of our
good king, whose birth-day it chanced to be. Our homeward thoughts and
loyalty uniting, we filled our glasses, and gave so hearty a "hip, hip,
hurra," to our toast, that I doubt if the echoes of those old rocks ever
heard the equal of it.
Scarcely was the last cheer dying away in the distance, when the door of
the kiosk opened, and a negro dressed in white muslin appeared, his arms
and ancles bearing those huge rings of massive gold, which only persons
of rank distinguish their servants by.
After a most profound obeisance to the party, he explained in very
tolerable French, that his master the Effendi, Ben Mustapha Al Halak, at
whose charge (in house rent) we were then resting, sent us greetings, and
begged that if not considered as contrary to our usages, &c. we should
permit him and his suite to approach the kiosk and observe us at our
Independent of his politeness in the mode of conveying the request, as he
would prove fully as entertaining a sight to us as we could possibly be
to him, we immediately expressed our great willingness to receive his
visit, coupled with a half hint that perhaps he might honour us by
joining the party.
After a half hour's delay, the door was once more thrown open, and a
venerable old Turk entered: he salaamed three times most reverently, and
motioned to us to be seated, declining, at the same time, by a gentle
gesture of his hand, our invitation. He was followed by a train of six
persons, all splendidly attired, and attesting, by their costume and
manner, the rank and importance of their chief. Conceiving that his
visit had but one object--to observe our convivial customs--we
immediately reseated ourselves, and filled our glasses.
As one after another the officers of the effendi's household passed
round the apartments, we offered them a goblet of champagne, which they
severally declined, with a polite but solemn smile--all except one, a
large, savage-looking Turk, with a most ferocious scowl, and the largest
black beard I ever beheld. He did not content himself with a mute
refusal of our offer, but stopping suddenly, he raised up his hands above
his head, and muttered some words in Turkish, which one of the party
informed us was a very satisfactory recommendation of the whole company
to Satan for their heretic abomination.
The procession moved slowly round the room, and when it reached the door
again retired, each member of it salaaming three times as they had done
on entering. Scarcely had they gone, when we burst into a loud fit of
laughter at the savage-looking fellow who thought proper to excommunicate
us, and were about to discuss his more than common appearance of disgust
at our proceedings, when again the door opened, and a turbaned head
peeped in, but so altered were the features, that although seen but the
moment before, we could hardly believe them the same. The dark
complexion--the long and bushy beard were there--but instead of the
sleepy and solemn character of the oriental, with heavy eye and closed
lip, there was a droll, half-devilry in the look, and partly open mouth,
that made a most laughable contrast with the head-dress. He looked
stealthily around him for an instant, as if to see that all was right,
and then, with an accent and expression I shall never forget, said, "I'll
taste your wine, gentleman, an it be pleasing to ye."
A DAY IN THE PHOENIX.
When we were once more in the coupe of the diligence, I directed my
entire attention towards my Irish acquaintance, as well because of his
apparent singularity, as to avoid the little German in the opposite
"You have not been long in France, then, sir," said I, as we resumed our
"Three weeks, and it seems like three years to me--nothing to
eat--nothing to drink--and nobody to speak to. But I'll go back soon
--I only came abroad for a month."
"You'll scarcely see much of the Continent in so short a time."
"Devil a much that will grieve me--I didn't come to see it."
"Nothing of the kind; I only came--to be away from home."
"Oh! I perceive."
"You're quite out there," said my companion, misinterpreting my meaning.
"It wasn't any thing of that kind. I don't owe sixpence. I was laughed
out of Ireland--that's all, though that same is bad enough."
"Laughed out of it!"
"Just so--and little you know of Ireland if that surprises you."
After acknowledging that such an event was perfectly possible, from what
I myself had seen of that country, I obtained the following very brief
account of my companion's reasons for foreign travel:
"Well, sir," began he, "it is about four months since I brought up to
Dublin from Galway a little chesnut mare, with cropped ears and a short
tail, square-jointed, and rather low--just what you'd call a smart hack
for going to cover with--a lively thing on the road with a light weight.
Nobody ever suspected that she was a clean bred thing--own sister to
Jenny, that won the Corinthians, and ran second to Giles for the
Riddlesworth--but so she was, and a better bred mare never leaped the
pound in Ballinasloe. Well, I brought her to Dublin, and used to ride
her out two or three times a week, making little matches sometimes to
trot--and, for a thorough bred, she was a clipper at trotting--to trot
a mile or so on the grass--another day to gallop the length of the nine
acres opposite the Lodge--and then sometimes, back her for a ten pound
note, to jump the biggest furze bush that could be found--all or which
she could do with ease, nobody thinking, all the while, that the
cock-tailed pony was out of Scroggins, by a "Lamplighter mare." As every
fellow that was beat to-day was sure to come back to-morrow, with
something better, either of his own or a friend's, I had matches booked
for every day in the week--for I always made my little boy that rode, win
by half a neck, or a nostril, and so we kept on day after day pocketing
from ten to thirty pounds or thereabouts.
"It was mighty pleasant while it lasted, for besides winning the money,
I had my own fun laughing at the spoonies that never could book my bets
fast enough. Young infantry officers and the junior bar--they were for
the most part mighty nice to look at, but very raw about racing. How
long I might have gone on in this way I cannot say; but one morning I
fell in with a fat, elderly gentleman, in shorts and gaiters, mounted on
a dun cob pony, that was very fidgety and hot tempered, and appeared to
give the rider a great deal of uneasiness.
"'He's a spicy hack you're on, sir,' said I, 'and has a go in him, I'll
"'I rayther think he has,' said the old gentleman, half testily.
"'And can trot a bit, too.'
"'Twelve Irish miles in fifty minutes, with my weight.' Here he looked
down at a paunch like a sugar hosghead.
"'Maybe he's not bad across a country,' said I, rather to humour the old
fellow, who, I saw, was proud of his poney.
"'I'd like to see his match, that's all.' Here he gave a rather
contemptuous glance at my hack.
"Well, one word led to another, and it ended at last in our booking a
match, with which one party was no less pleased than the other. It was
this: each was to ride his own horse, starting from the school in the
Park, round the Fifteen Acres, outside the Monument, and back to the
start--just one heat, about a mile and a half--the ground good, and only
soft enough. In consideration, however, of his greater weight, I was to
give odds in the start; and as we could not well agree on how much, it
was at length decided that he was to get away first, and I to follow as
fast as I could, after drinking a pewter quart full of Guinness's double
stout--droll odds, you'll say, but it was the old fellow's own thought,
and as the match was a soft one, I let him have his way.
"The next morning the Phoenix was crowded as if for a review. There were
all the Dublin notorieties, swarming in barouches, and tilburies, and
outside jaunting-cars--smart clerks in the post-office, mounted upon
kicking devils from Dycer's and Lalouette's stables--attorney's wives
and daughters from York-street, and a stray doctor or so on a hack that
looked as if it had been lectured on for the six winter months at the
College of Surgeons. My antagonist was half an hour late, which time I
occupied in booking bets on every side of me--offering odds of ten,
fifteen, and at last, to tempt the people, twenty-five to one against the
dun. At last, the fat gentleman came up on a jaunting-car, followed by a
groom leading the cob. I wish you heard the cheer that greeted him on
his arrival, for it appeared he was a well-known character in town, and
much in favour with the mob. When he got off the car, he bundled into a
tent, followed by a few of his friends, where they remained for about
five minutes, at the end of which he came out in full racing costume
--blue and yellow striped jacket, blue cap and leathers--looking as funny
a figure as ever you set eyes upon. I now thought it time to throw off
my white surtout, and show out in pink and orange, the colours I had been
winning in for two months past. While some of the party were sent on to
station themselves at different places round the Fifteen Acres, to mark
out the course, my fat friend was assisted into his saddle, and gave a
short preliminary gallop of a hundred yards or so, that set us all
a-laughing. The odds were now fifty to one in my favour, and I gave them
wherever I could find takers. 'With you, sir, if you please, in pounds,
and the gentleman in the red whiskers, too, if he likes--very well, in
half sovereigns, if you prefer it.' So I went on, betting on every side,
till the bell rung to mount. As I knew I had plenty of time to spare, I
took little notice, and merely giving a look to my girths, I continued
leisurely booking my bets. At last the time came, and at the word
'Away!' off went the fat gentleman on the dun, at a spluttering gallop,
that flung the mud on every side of us, and once more threw us all
a-laughing. I waited patiently till he got near the upper end of the park,
taking bets every minute; and now that he was away, every one offered to
wager. At last, when I had let him get nearly half round, and found no
more money could be had, I called out to his friends for the porter, and,
throwing myself into the saddle, gathered up the reins in my hand. The
crowd fell back on each side, while from the tent I have already
mentioned came a thin fellow with one eye, with a pewter quart in his
hand: he lifted it up towards me, and I took it; but what was my fright
to find that the porter was boiling, and the vessel so hot I could barely
hold it. I endeavoured to drink, however: the first mouthful took all
the skin off my lips and tongue--the second half choked, and the third
nearly threw me into an apoplectic fit--the mob cheering all the time
like devils. Meantime, the old fellow had reached the furze, and was
going along like fun. Again I tried the porter, and a fit of coughing
came on that lasted five minutes. The pewter was now so hot that the
edge of the quart took away a piece of my mouth at every effort. I
ventured once more, and with the desperation of a madman I threw down the
hot liquid to its last drop. My head reeled--my eyes glared--and my
brain was on fire. I thought I beheld fifty fat gentlemen galloping on
every side of me, and all the sky raining jackets in blue and yellow.
Half mechanically I took the reins, and put spurs to my horse; but before
I got well away, a loud cheer from the crowd assailed me. I turned, and
saw the dun coming in at a floundering gallop, covered with foam, and so
dead blown that neither himself nor the rider could have got twenty yards
farther. The race was, however, won. My odds were lost to every man on
the field, and, worse than all, I was so laughed at, that I could not
venture out in the streets, without hearing allusions to my misfortune;
for a certain friend of mine, one Tom O'Flaherty--"
"Tom of the 11th light dragoons?"
"The same--you know Tom, then? Maybe you have heard him mention me
"Not Mr. Malone, of Fort Peak?"
"Bad luck to him. I am as well known in connexion with Fort Peak, as the
Duke is with Waterloo. There is not a part of the globe where he has not
told that confounded story."
As my readers may not possibly be all numbered in Mr. O'Flaherty's
acquaintance, I shall venture to give the anecdote which Mr. Malone
accounted to be so widely circulated.
AN ADVENTURE IN CANADA.
Towards the close of the last war with America, a small detachment of
military occupied the little block house of Fort Peak, which, about eight
miles from the Falls of Niagara, formed the last outpost on the frontier.
The Fort, in itself inconsiderable, was only of importance as commanding
a part of the river where it was practicable to ford, and where the easy
ascent of the bank offered a safe situation for the enemy to cross over,
whenever they felt disposed to carry the war into our territory.
There having been, however, no threat of invasion in this quarter, and
the natural strength of the position being considerable, a mere handful
of men, with two subaltern officers, were allotted for this duty--such
being conceived ample to maintain it till the arrival of succour from
head-quarters, then at Little York, on the opposite side of the lake.
The officers of this party were our old acquaintance Tom O'Flaherty, and
our newly-made one Maurice Malone.
Whatever may be the merits of commanding officers, one virtue they
certainly can lay small claim to--viz. any insight into character, or at
least any regard for the knowledge. Seldom are two men sent off on
detachment duty to some remote quarter, to associate daily and hourly for
months together, that they are not, by some happy chance, the very people
who never, as the phrase is, "took to each other" in their lives. The
grey-headed, weather-beaten, disappointed "Peninsular" is coupled with
the essenced and dandified Adonis of the corps; the man of literary
tastes and cultivated pursuits, with the empty headed, ill informed
youth, fresh from Harrow or Westminster. This case offered no exception
to the rule; for though there were few men possessed of more assimilating
powers than O'Flaherty, yet certainly his companion did put the faculty
to the test, for any thing more unlike him, there never existed. Tom all
good humour and high spirits--making the best of every thing--never
non-plussed--never taken aback--perfectly at home, whether flirting with
a Lady Charlotte in her drawing-room, or crossing a grouse mountain in
the highlands--sufficiently well read to talk on any ordinary topic--and
always ready-witted enough to seem more so. A thorough sportsman,
whether showing forth in the "park" at Melton, whipping a trout-stream in
Wales, or filling a country-house with black cock and moor-fowl; an
unexceptionable judge of all the good things in life, from a pretty ancle
to a well hung tilbury--from the odds at hazard to the "Comet vintage."
Such, in brief, was Tom. Now his confrere was none of these; he had been
drafted from the Galway militia to the line, for some election services
rendered by his family to the government candidate; was of a saturnine
and discontented habit; always miserable about some trifle or other, and
never at rest till he had drowned his sorrows in Jamaica rum--which,
since the regiment was abroad, he had copiously used as a substitute for
whiskey. To such an extent had this passion gained upon him, that a
corporal's guard was always in attendance whenever he dined out, to
convey him home to the barracks.
The wearisome monotony of a close garrison, with so ungenial a companion,
would have damped any man's spirits but O'Flaherty's. He, however, upon
this, as other occasions in life, rallied himself to make the best of it;
and by short excursions within certain prescribed limits along the river
side, contrived to shoot and fish enough to get through the day, and
improve the meagre fare of his mess-table. Malone never appeared before
dinner--his late sittings at night requiring all the following day to
recruit him for a new attack upon the rum bottle.
Now, although his seeing so little of his brother officer was any thing
but unpleasant to O'Flaherty, yet the ennui of such a life was gradually
wearing him, and all his wits were put in requisition to furnish
occupation for his time. Never a day passed without his praying ardently
for an attack from the enemy; any alternative, any reverse, had been a
blessing compared with his present life. No such spirit, however, seemed
to animate the Yankee troops; not a soldier was to be seen for miles
around, and every straggler that passed the Fort concurred in saying that
the Americans were not within four day's march of the frontier.
Weeks passed over, and the same state of things remaining unchanged,
O'Flaherty gradually relaxed some of his strictness as to duty; small
foraging parties of three and four being daily permitted to leave the
Fort for a few hours, to which they usually returned laden with wild
turkeys and fish--both being found in great abundance near them.
Such was the life of the little garrison for two or three long summer
months--each day so resembling its fellow, that no difference could be
As to how the war was faring, or what the aspect of affairs might be,
they absolutely knew nothing. Newspapers never reached them; and whether
from having so much occupation at head-quarters, or that the difficulty
of sending letters prevented, their friends never wrote a line; and thus
they jogged on, a very vegetable existence, till thought at last was
stagnating in their brains, and O'Flaherty half envied his companion's
resource in the spirit flask.
Such was the state of affairs at the Fort, when one evening O'Flaherty
appeared to pace the little rampart that looked towards Lake Ontario,
with an appearance of anxiety and impatience strangely at variance with
his daily phlegmatic look. It seemed that the corporal's party he had
despatched that morning to forage, near the "Falls," had not returned,
and already were four hours later than their time away.
Every imaginable mode of accounting for their absence suggested itself to
his mind. Sometimes he feared that they had been attacked by the Indian
hunters, who were far from favourably disposed towards their poaching
neighbours. Then, again, it might be merely that they had missed their
track in the forest; or could it be that they had ventured to reach Goat
Island in a canoe, and had been carried down the rapids. Such were the
torturing doubts that passed as some shrill squirrel, or hoarse night owl
pierced the air with a cry, and then all was silent again. While thus
the hours went slowly by, his attention was attracted by a bright light
in the sky. It appeared as if part of the heavens were reflecting some
strong glare from beneath, for as he looked, the light, at first pale and
colourless, gradually deepened into a rich mellow hue, and at length,
through the murky blackness of the night, a strong clear current of flame
rose steadily upwards from the earth, and pointed towards the sky. From
the direction, it must have been either at the Falls, or immediately near
them; and now the horrible conviction flashed upon his mind that the
party had been waylaid by the Indians, who were, as is their custom,
making a war feast over their victims.
Not an instant was to be lost. The little garrison beat to arms; and, as
the men fell in, O'Flaherty cast his eyes around, while he selected a few
brave fellows to accompany him. Scarcely had the men fallen out from the
ranks, when the sentinel at the gate was challenged by a well-known
voice, and in a moment more the corporal of the foraging party was among
them. Fatigue and exhaustion had so overcome him, that for some minutes
he was speechless. At length he recover sufficiently to give the
following brief account:--
The little party having obtained their supply of venison above Queenston,
were returning to the Fort, when they suddenly came upon a track of feet,
and little experience in forest life soon proved that some new arrivals
had reached the hunting grounds, for on examining them closely, they
proved neither to be Indian tracks, nor yet those made by the shoes of
the Fort party. Proceeding with caution to trace them backwards for
three or four miles, they reached the bank of the Niagara river, above
the whirlpools, where the crossing is most easily effected from the
American side. The mystery was at once explained: it was a surprise
party of the Yankees, sent to attack Fort Peak; and now the only thing to
be done was to hasten back immediately to their friends, and prepare for
With this intent they took the river path as the shortest, but had not
proceeded far when their fears were confirmed; for in a little embayment
of the bank they perceived a party of twenty blue coats, who, with their
arms piled, were lying around as if waiting for the hour of attack. The
sight of this party added greatly to their alarm, for they now perceived
that the Americans had divided their force--the foot-tracks first seen
being evidently those of another division. As the corporal and his few
men continued, from the low and thick brushwood, to make their
reconnaisance of the enemy, they observed with delight that they were not
regulars, but a militia force. With this one animating thought, they
again, with noiseless step, regained the forest, and proceeded upon their
way. Scarcely, however, had they marched a mile, when the sound of
voices and loud laughter apprised them that another party was near,
which, as well as they could observe in the increasing gloom, was still
larger than the former. They were now obliged to make a considerable
circuit, and advance still deeper into the forest--their anxiety hourly
increasing, lest the enemy should reach the Fort before themselves. In
this dilemma it was resolved that the party should separate--the corporal
determining to proceed alone by the river bank, while the others, by a
detour of some miles, should endeavour to learn the force of the Yankees,
and, as far as they could, their mode of attack. From that instant the
corporal knew no more; for, after two hours' weary exertion, he reached
the Fort, which, had it been but another mile distant, his strength had
not held out for him to attain.
However gladly poor O'Flaherty might have hailed such information under
other circumstances, now it came like a thunderbolt upon him. Six of his
small force were away, perhaps ere this made prisoners by the enemy;
the Yankees, as well as he could judge, were a numerous party; and he
himself totally without a single adviser--for Malone had dined, and was,
therefore, by this time in that pleasing state of indifference, in which
he could only recognise an enemy, in the man that did not send round the
In the half indulged hope that his state might permit some faint exercise
of the reasoning faculty, O'Flaherty walked towards the small den they
had designated as the mess-room, in search of his brother officer.
As he entered the apartment, little disposed as he felt to mirth at such
a moment, the tableau before him was too ridiculous not to laugh at. At
one side of the fire-place sat Malone, his face florid with drinking, and
his eyeballs projecting. Upon his head was a small Indian skull cap,
with two peacock feathers, and a piece of scarlet cloth which hung down
behind. In one hand he held a smoking goblet of rum punch, and in the
other a long, Indian Chibook pipe. Opposite to him, but squatted upon
the floor, reposed a red Indian, that lived in the Fort as a guide,
equally drunk, but preserving, even in his liquor, an impassive, grave
aspect, strangely contrasting with the high excitement of Malone's face.
The red man wore Malone's uniform coat, which he had put on back
foremost--his head-dress having, in all probability been exchanged for
it, as an amicable courtesy between the parties. There they sat, looking
fixedly at each other; neither spoke, nor even smiled--the rum bottle,
which at brief intervals passed from one to the other, maintained a
friendly intercourse that each was content with.
To the hearty fit of laughing of O'Flaherty, Malone replied by a look of
drunken defiance, and then nodded to his red friend, who returned the
courtesy. As poor Tom left the room, he saw that nothing was to be hoped
for in this quarter, and determined to beat the garrison to arms without
any further delay. Scarcely had he closed the door behind him, when a
sudden thought flashed through his brain. He hesitated, walked forward a
few paces, stopped again, and calling out to the corporal, said--
"You are certain they were militia?"
"Yes, sir; quite sure."
"Then, by Jove, I have it," cried O'Flaherty. "If they should turn out
to be the Buffalo fencibles, we may get through this scrape better than I
"I believe you are right, sir; for I heard one of the men as I passed
observe, 'what will they say in Buffalo when it's over?'."
"Send Mathers here, corporal; and do you order four rank and file, with
side-arms to be in readiness immediately."
"Mathers, you have heard the news," said O'Flaherty, as the sergeant
entered. "Can the Fort hold out against such a force as Jackson reports?
You doubt; well, so do I; so let's see what's to be done. Can you
remember, was it not the Buffalo militia that were so tremendously
thrashed by the Delawares last autumn?"
"Yes, sir, they chased them for two days and nights, and had they not
reached the town of Buffalo, the Delawares would not have left a scalp
in the regiment."
"Can you recollect the chief's name--it was Carran--something, eh?"
"Exactly. Where is he supposed to be now?"
"Up in Detroit, sir, they say, but no one knows. Those fellows are here
to-day, and there to-morrow."
"Well then, sergeant, here's my plan." Saying these words, O'Flaherty
proceeded to walk towards his quarters, accompanied by the sergeant, with
whom he conversed for some time eagerly--occasionally replying, as it
appeared, to objections, and offering explanations as the other seemed to
require them. The colloquy lasted half an hour--and although the veteran
sergeant seemed difficult of conviction, it ended by his saying, as he
left the room,
"Well, sir, as you say, it can only come to hard knocks at worst. Here
goes--I'll send off the scout party to make the fires and choose the men
for the out picquets, for no time is to be lost."
In about an hour's time from the scene I have mentioned, a number of
militia officers, of different grades, were seated round a bivouac fire,
upon the bank of the Niagara river. The conversation seemed of an angry
nature, for the voices of the speakers were loud and irrascible, and
their gestures evidenced a state of high excitement.
"I see," said one, who seemed the superior of the party--"I see well
where this will end. We shall have another Queenston affair, as we had
last fall with the Delawares."
"I only say," replied another, "that if you wish our men to stand fire
to-morrow morning, the less you remind them of the Delawares the better.
What is that noise? Is not that a drum beating?"
The party at these words sprung to their legs, and stood in an attitude
of listening for some seconds.
"Who goes there?" sung out a sentinel from his post; and then, after a
moment's delay, added--"Pass flag of truce to Major Brown's quarters."
Scarcely were the words spoken, when three officers in scarlet, preceded
by a drummer with a white flag, stood before the American party.
"To whom may I address myself?" said one of the British--who, I may
inform my reader, en passant, was no other than O'Flaherty--"To whom may
I address myself as the officer in command?"
"I am Major Brown," said a short, plethoric little man, in a blue uniform
and round hat--"And who are you?"
"Major O'Flaherty, of his majesty's fifth foot," said Tom, with a very
sonorous emphasis on each word--"the bearer of a flag of truce and an
amicable proposition from Major-General Allen, commanding the garrison of
The Americans, who were evidently taken by surprise at their intentions
of attack being known, were silent, while he continued--
"Gentlemen, it may appear somewhat strange that a garrison, possessing
the natural strength of a powerful position--supplied with abundant
ammunition and every muniment of war--should despatch a flag of truce on
the eve of an attack, in preference to waiting for the moment, when a
sharp and well-prepared reception might best attest its vigilance and
discipline. But the reasons for this step are soon explained. In the
first place, you intend a surprise. We have been long aware of your
projected attack. Our spies have tracked you from your crossing the
river above the whirlpool to your present position. Every man of your
party is numbered by us; and, what is still more, numbered by our allies
--yes, gentlemen, I must repeat it, "allies"--though, as a Briton, I
blush at the word. Shame and disgrace for ever be that man's portion,
who first associated the honourable usages of war with the atrocious and
bloody cruelties of the savage. Yet so it is: the Delawares of the
hills"--here the Yankees exchanged very peculiar looks--"have this
morning arrived at Fort Peak, with orders to ravage the whole of your
frontier, from Fort George to Lake Erie. They brought us the information
of your approach, and their chief is, while I speak, making an infamous
proposition, by which a price is to paid for every scalp he produces in
the morning. Now, as the general cannot refuse to co-operate with the
savages, without compromising himself with the commander-in-chief,
neither can he accept of such assistance without some pangs of
conscience. He has taken the only course open to him: he has despatched
myself and my brother officers here"--O'Flaherty glanced at two privates
dressed up in his regimentals--"to offer you terms"--
O'Flaherty paused when he arrived thus far, expecting that the opposite
party would make some reply; but they continued silent: when suddenly,
from the dense forest, there rung forth a wild and savage yell, that rose
and fell several times, like the pibroch of the highlander, and ended at
last in a loud whoop, that was echoed and re-echoed again and again for
several seconds after.
"Hark!" said O'Flaherty, with an accent of horror--"Hark! the war-cry of
the Delawares! The savages are eager for their prey. May it yet be time
enough to rescue you from such a fate! Time presses--our terms are
these--as they do not admit of discussion, and must be at once accepted
or rejected, to your own ear alone can I impart them."
Saying which, he took Major Brown aside, and, walking apart from the
others, led him, by slow steps, into the forest. While O'Flaherty
continued to dilate upon the atrocities of Indian war, and the revengeful
character of the savages, he contrived to be always advancing towards the
river side, till at length the glare of a fire was perceptible through
the gloom. Major Brown stopped suddenly, and pointed in the direction of
"It is the Indian picquet," said O'Flaherty, calmly; "and as the facts I
have been detailing may be more palpable to your mind, you shall see them
with your own eyes. Yes, I repeat it, you shall, through the cover of
this brushwood, see Caudan-dacwagae himself--for he is with them in
As O'Flaherty said this, he led Major Brown, now speechless with terror,
behind a massive cork tree, from which spot they could look down upon the
river side, where in a small creek sat five or six persons in blankets,
and scarlet head-dresses; their faces streaked with patches of yellow and
red paint, to which the glare of the fire lent fresh horror. In the
midst sat one, whose violent gestures and savage cries gave him the very
appearance of a demon, as he resisted with all his might the efforts of
the others to restrain him, shouting like a maniac all the while, and
struggling to rise.
"It is the chief," said O'Flaherty; "he will wait no longer. We have
bribed the others to keep him quiet, if possible, a little time; but I
see they cannot succeed."
A loud yell of triumph from below interrupted Tom's speech. The
infuriated savage--who was no other than Mr. Malone--having obtained the
rum bottle, for which he was fighting with all his might--his temper not
being improved in the struggle by occasional admonitions from the red end
of a cigar, applied to his naked skin by the other Indians--who were his
own soldiers acting under O'Flaherty's orders.
"Now," said Tom, "that you have convinced yourself, and can satisfy your
brother officers, will you take your chance? or will you accept the
honoured terms of the General--pile your arms, and retreat beyond the
river before day-break? Your muskets and ammunition will offer a bribe
to the cupidity of the savage, and delay his pursuit till you can reach
some place of safety."
Major Brown heard the proposal in silence, and at last determined upon
consulting his brother officers.
"I have outstaid my time," said O'Flaherty, "but stop; the lives of so
many are at stake, I consent." Saying which, they walked on without
speaking, till they arrived where the others were standing around the
As Brown retired to consult with the officers, Tom heard with pleasure
how much his two companions had worked upon the Yankees' fears, during
his absence, by details of the vindictive feelings of the Delawares, and
their vows to annihilate the Buffalo militia.
Before five minutes they had decided. Upon a solemn pledge from
O'Flaherty that the terms of the compact were to be observed as he stated
them, they agreed to march with their arms to the ford, where, having
piled them, they were to cross over, and make the best of their way home.
By sunrise the next morning, all that remained of the threatened attack
on Fort Peak, were the smouldering ashes of some wood fires--eighty
muskets piled in the fort--and the yellow ochre, and red stripes that
still adorned the countenance of the late Indian chief,--but now snoring
Lieutenant Maurice Malone.
THE COURIER'S PASSPORT.
A second night succeeded the long dreary day of the diligence, and the
only one agreeable reflection arose in the feeling that every mile
travelled, was diminishing the chance of pursuit, and removing me still
further from that scene of trouble and annoyance that was soon to furnish
gossip for Paris--under the title of "The Affaire O'Leary."
How he was ever to extricate himself from the numerous and embarrassing
difficulties of his position, gave me, I confess, less uneasiness than
the uncertainty of my own fortunes. Luck seemed ever to befriend him--me
it had always accompanied far enough through life to make its subsequent
desertion more painful. How far I should blame myself for this,
I stopped not to consider; but brooded over the fact in a melancholy
and discontented mood. The one thought uppermost in my mind was, how
will Lady Jane receive me--am I forgotten--or am I only remembered as
the subject of that unlucky mistake, when, under the guise of an elder
son, I was feted and made much of. What pretensions I had, without
fortune, rank, influence, or even expectations of any kind, to seek the
hand of the most beautiful girl of the day, with the largest fortune as
her dowry, I dare not ask myself--the reply would have dashed all my
hopes, and my pursuit would have at once been abandoned. "Tell the
people you are an excellent preacher," was the advice of an old and
learned divine to a younger and less experienced one--"tell them so every
morning, and every noon, and every evening, and at last they will begin
to believe it." So thought I. I shall impress upon the Callonbys that
I am a most unexceptionable "parti." Upon every occasion they shall hear
it--as they open their newspapers at breakfast--as they sip their soup at
luncheon--as they adjust their napkin at dinner--as they chat over their
wine at night. My influence in the house shall be unbounded--my
pleasures consulted--my dislikes remembered. The people in favour with
me shall dine there three times a-week--those less fortunate shall be put
into schedule A. My opinions on all subjects shall be a law--whether I
pronounce upon politics, or discuss a dinner: and all this I shall
accomplish by a successful flattery of my lady--a little bullying of my
lord--a devoted attention to the youngest sister--a special cultivation
of Kilkee--and a very "prononce" neglect of Lady Jane. These were my
half-waking thoughts, as the heavy diligence rumbled over the pave into
Nancy; and I was aroused by the door being suddenly jerked open, and a
bronzed face, with a black beard and moustache, being thrust in amongst
"Your passports, Messieurs," as a lantern was held up in succession
across our faces, and we handed forth our crumpled and worn papers to the
The night was stormy and dark--gusts of wind sweeping along, bearing with
them the tail of some thunder cloud--mingling their sounds with a falling
tile from the roofs, or a broken chimney-pot. The officer in vain
endeavoured to hold open the passports while he inscribed his name; and
just as the last scrawl was completed, the lantern went out. Muttering a
heavy curse upon the weather, he thrust them in upon us en masse, and,
banging the door to, called out to the conducteur, "en route."
Again we rumbled on, and, ere we cleared the last lamps of the town, the
whole party were once more sunk in sleep, save myself. Hour after hour
rolled by, the rain pattering upon the roof, and the heavy plash of the
horses' feet contributing their mournful sounds to the melancholy that
was stealing over me. At length we drew up at the door of a little
auberge; and, by the noise and bustle without, I perceived there was a
change of horses. Anxious to stretch my legs, and relieve, if even for a
moment, the wearisome monotony of the night, I got out and strode into
the little parlour of the inn. There was a cheerful fire in an open
stove, beside which stood a portly figure in a sheepskin bunta and a
cloth travelling cap, with a gold band; his legs were cased in high
Russia leather boots, all evident signs of the profession of the wearer,
had even his haste at supper not bespoke the fact that he was a
"You had better make haste with the horses, Antoine, if you don't wish
the postmaster to hear of it," said he, as I entered, his mouth filled
with pie crust and vin de Beaune, as he spoke.
A lumbering peasant, with a blouse, sabots, and a striped nightcap,
replied in some unknown patois; when the courier again said--
"Well, then, take the diligence horses; I must get on at all events; they
are not so presse, I'll be bound; besides it will save the gens-d'armes
some miles of a ride if they overtake them here."
"Have we another vise of our passports here, then?" said I, addressing
the courier, "for we have already been examined at Nancy?"
"Not exactly a vise," said the courier, eyeing me most suspiciously as
he spoke, and then continuing to eat with his former voracity.
"Then, what, may I ask, have we to do with the gens-d'armes?"
"It is a search," said the courier, gruffly, and with the air of one who
desired no further questioning.
I immediately ordered a bottle of Burgundy, and filling the large goblet
before him, said, with much respect,
"A votre bonne voyage, Monsier le Courier."
To this he at once replied, by taking off his cap and bowing politely as
he drank off the wine.
"Have we any runaway felon or a stray galerien among us?" said I,
laughingly, "that they are going to search us?"
"No, monsieur," said the courier; "but there has been a government order
to arrest a person on this road connected with the dreadful Polish plot,
that has just eclated at Paris. I passed a vidette of cavalry at Nancy,
and they will be up here in half an hour."
"A Polish plot! Why, I left Paris only two days ago, and never heard of
"C'est bien possible, Monsieur? Perhaps, after all, it may only be an
affair of the police; but they have certainly arrested one prisoner at
Meurice, charged with this, as well as the attempt to rob Frascati, and
murder the croupier."
"Alas," said I, with a half-suppressed groan, "it is too true; that
infernal fellow O'Leary has ruined me, and I shall be brought back to
Paris, and only taken from prison to meet the open shame and ignominy of
a public trial."
What was to be done?--every moment was precious. I walked to the door to
conceal my agitation. All was dark and gloomy. The thought of escape
was my only one; but how to accomplish it! Every stir without suggested
to my anxious mind the approaching tread of horses--every rattle of the
harness seemed like the clink of accoutrements.
While I yet hesitated, I felt that my fate was in the balance.
Concealment where I was, was impossible; there were no means of
obtaining horses to proceed. My last only hope then rested in the
courier; he perhaps might be bribed to assist me at this juncture.
Still his impression as to the enormity of the crime imputed, might
deter him; and there was no time for explanation, if even he would listen
to it. I returned to the room; he had finished his meal, and was now
engaged in all the preparations for encountering a wet and dreary night.
I hesitated; my fears that if he should refuse my offers, all chance of
my escape was gone, deterred me for a moment. At length as he wound a
large woollen shawl around his throat, and seemed to have completed his
costume, I summoned nerve for the effort, and with as much boldness in my
manner as I could muster, said--
"Monsieur le Courier, one word with you." I here closed the door, and
continued. "My fortunes--my whole prospects in life depend upon my
reaching Strasbourg by to-morrow night. You alone can be the means of my
doing so. Is there any price you can mention, for which you will render
me this service?--if so, name it."
"So then, Monsieur," said the Courier, slowly--"so, then, you are the--"
"You have guessed it," said I, interrupting. "Do you accept my
"It is impossible," said he, "utterly impossible; for even should I be
disposed to run the risk on my own account, it would avail you nothing;
the first town we entered your passport would be demanded, and not being
vised by the minister to travel en courier, you would at once be detained
"Then am I lost," said I, throwing myself upon a chair; at the same
instant my passport, which I carried in my breast pocket, fell out at the
feet of the courier. He lifted it and opened it leisurely. So engrossed
was I by my misfortunes, that for some minutes I did not perceive, that
as he continued to read the passport, he smiled from time to time, till
at length a hearty fit of laughing awoke me from my abstraction. My
first impulse was to seize him by the throat; controlling my temper,
however, with an effort, I said--
"And pray, Monsieur, may I ask in what manner the position I stand in
at this moment affords you so much amusement? Is there any thing so
particularly droll--any thing so excessively ludicrous in my situation
--or what particular gift do you possess that shall prevent me throwing
you out of the window?"
"Mais, Monsieur," said he, half stifled with laughter, "do you know the
blunder I fell into? it is really too good. Could you only guess who I
took you for, you would laugh too."
Here he became so overcome with merriment, that he was obliged to sit
down, which he did opposite to me, and actually shook with laughter.
"When this comedy is over," thought I, "we may begin to understand each
other." Seeing no prospect of this, I became at length impatient, and
jumping on my legs, said--
"Enough, sir, quite enough of this foolery. Believe me, you have every
reason to be thankful that my present embarrassment should so far engross
me, that I cannot afford time to give you a thrashing."
"Pardon, mille pardons," said he humbly; "but you will, I am sure,
forgive me when I tell you that I was stupid enough to mistake you for
the fugitive Englishman, whom the gens-d'armes are in pursuit of. How
"Oh! devilish good--but what do you mean?"
"Why, the fellow that caused the attack at Frascati, and all that, and--"
"Yes--well, eh? Did you think I was him?"
"To be sure I did, till I saw your passport."
"Till you saw my passport!" Why, what on earth can he mean? thought I.
"No, but," said I, half jestingly, "how could you make such a blunder?"
"Why, your confused manner--your impatience to get on--your hurried
questions, all convinced me. In fact, I'd have wagered any thing you
were the Englishman."
"And what, in heaven's name, does he think me now?" thought I, as I
endeavoured to join the laugh so ludicrous a mistake occasioned.
"But we are delaying sadly," said the courier. "Are you ready?"
"Ready?--ready for what?"
"To go on with me, of course. Don't you wish to get early to
"To be sure I do."
"Well, then, come along. But, pray, don't mind your luggage, for my
caleche is loaded. Your instruments can come in the diligence."
"My instruments in the diligence! He's mad--that's flat."
"How they will laugh at Strasbourg at my mistake."
"That they will," thought I. "The only doubt is, will you join in the
So saying, I followed the courier to the door, jumped into his caleche,
and in another moment was hurrying over the pave at a pace that defied
pursuit, and promised soon to make up for all our late delay. Scarcely
was the fur-lined apron of the caleche buttoned around me, and the German
blinds let down, when I set to work to think over the circumstance that
had just befallen me. As I had never examined my passport from the
moment Trevanion handed it to me in Paris, I knew nothing of its
contents; therefore, as to what impression it might convey of me, I was
totally ignorant. To ask the courier for it now might excite suspicion;
so that I was totally at sea how to account for his sudden change in my
favour, or in what precise capacity I was travelling beside him. Once,
and once only, the thought of treachery occurred to me. Is he about to
hand me over to the gens-d'armes? and are we now only retracing our steps
towards Nancy? If so, Monsieur le Courier, whatever be my fate, your's
is certainly an unenviable one. My reflections on this head were soon
broken in upon, for my companion again returned to the subject of his
"singular error," and assured me that he was as near as possible leaving
me behind, under the mistaken impression of my being "myself;" and
informed me that all Strasbourg would be delighted to see me, which
latter piece of news was only the more flattering, that I knew no one
there, nor had ever been in that city in my life; and after about an
hour's mystification as to my tastes, habits, and pursuits, he fell fast
asleep, leaving me to solve the difficult problem as to whether I was not
somebody else, or the only alternative--whether travelling en courier
might not be prescribed by physicians as a mode of treating insane
A NIGHT IN STRASBOURG.
With the dawn of day my miseries recommenced; for after letting down the
sash, and venting some very fervent imprecations upon the postillion for
not going faster than his horses were able, the courier once more
recurred to his last night's blunder, and proceeded very leisurely to
catechise me as to my probable stay at Strasbourg, when I should go from
there, &c. As I was still in doubt what or whom he took me for, I
answered with the greatest circumspection--watching, the while, for any
clue that might lead me to a discovery of myself. Thus, occasionally
evading all pushing and home queries, and sometimes, when hard pressed,
feigning drowsiness, I passed the long and anxious day--the fear of being
overtaken ever mingling with the thoughts that some unlucky admission of
mine might discover my real character to the courier, who, at any post
station, might hand me over to the authorities. Could I only guess at
the part I am performing, thought I, and I might manage to keep up the
illusion; but my attention was so entirely engrossed by fencing off all
his threats, that I could find out nothing. At last, as night drew near,
the thought that we were approaching Strasbourg rallied my spirits,
suggesting an escape from all pursuit, as well as the welcome prospect of
getting rid of my present torturer, who, whenever I awoke from a doze,
reverted to our singular meeting with a pertinacity that absolutely
seemed like malice.
"As I am aware that this is your first visit to Strasbourg," said the
courier, "perhaps I can be of service to you in recommending a hotel.
Put up, I advise you, at the 'Bear'--a capital hotel, and not ten
minutes' distance from the theatre."
I thanked him for the counsel; and, rejoicing in the fact that my
prototype, whoever he might be, was unknown in the city, began to feel
some little hope of getting through this scrape, as I had done so many
"They have been keeping the 'Huguenots' for your arrival, and all
Strasbourg is impatient for your coming."
"Indeed!" said I, mumbling something meant to be modest. "Who the devil
am I, then, to cause all this fracas? Heaven grant, not the new
'prefect,' or the commander of the forces."
"I am told the 'Zauberflotte' is your favourite opera?"
"I can't say that I ever heard it--that is, I mean that I could say--well
Here I floundered on having so far forgot myself as to endanger every
"How very unfortunate! Well, I hope you will not long have as much to
say. Meanwhile, here we are--this is the 'Bear.'"
We rattled into the ample porte cochere of a vast hotel--the postillion
cracking his enormous whip, and bells ringing on every side, as if the
crown prince of Russia had been the arrival, and not a poor sub. in the
The courier jumped out, and running up to the landlord, whispered a few
words in his ear, to which the other answered by a deep "ah, vraiment!"
and then saluted me with an obsequiousness that made my flesh quake.
"I shall make 'mes hommages' in the morning," said the courier, as he
drove off at full speed to deliver his despatches, and left me to my own
devices to perform a character, without even being able to guess what it
might be. My passport, too, the only thing that could throw any light
upon the affair, he had taken along with him, promising to have it vised,
and save me any trouble.
Of all my difficulties and puzzling situations in life, this was
certainly the worst; for however often my lot had been to personate
another, yet hitherto I had had the good fortune to be aware of what and
whom I was performing. Now I might be any body from Marshal Soult to
Monsieur Scribe; one thing only was certain, I must be a "celebrity."
The confounded pains and trouble they were taking to receive me, attested
that fact, and left me to the pleasing reflection that my detection,
should it take place, would be sure of attracting a very general
publicity. Having ordered my supper from the landlord, with a certain
air of reserve, sufficient to prevent even an Alsace host from obtruding
any questions upon me, I took my opportunity to stroll from the inn down
to the river side. There lay the broad, rapid Rhine, separating me, by
how narrow a gulph, from that land, where, if I once arrived, my safety
was certain. Never did that great boundary of nations strike me so
forcibly, as now when my own petty interests and fortunes were at stake.
Night was fast settling upon the low flat banks of the stream, and
nothing stirred, save the ceaseless ripple of the river. One fishing
barque alone was on the water. I hailed the solitary tenant of it, and
after some little parley, induced him to ferry me over. This, however,
could only be done when the night was farther advanced--it being against
the law to cross the river except at certain hours, and between two
established points, where officers of the revenue were stationed. The
fisherman was easily bribed, however, to evade the regulation, and only
bargained that I should meet him on the bank before daybreak. Having
settled this point to my satisfaction, I returned to my hotel in better
spirits; and with a Strasbourg pate, and a flask of Nierensteiner, drank
to my speedy deliverance.
How to consume the long, dreary hours between this time and that of my
departure, I knew not; for though greatly fatigued, I felt that sleep was
impossible; the usual resource of a gossip with the host was equally out
of the question; and all that remained was the theatre, which I happily
remembered was not far from the hotel.
It was an opera night, and the house was crowded to excess; but with some
little management, I obtained a place in a box near the stage. The piece
was "Les Franc Macons," which was certainly admirably supported, and drew
down from the audience--no mean one as judges of music--the loudest
thunders of applause. As for me, the house was a great a curiosity as
the opera. The novel spectacle of some hundred (thousand?) people
relishing and appreciating the highest order of musical genius, was
something totally new and surprising to me. The curtain at length fell
upon the fifth act.
And now the deafening roar of acclamation was tremendous; and amid a
perfect shout of enthusiasm, the manager announced the opera for the
ensuing evening. Scarcely had this subsided, when a buzz ran through the
house; at first subdued, but gradually getting louder--extending from the
boxes to the balcone--from the balcone to the parterre--and finally even
to the galleries. Groups of people stood upon the benches, and looked
fixedly in one part of the house; then changed and regarded as eagerly
What can this mean? thought I. Is the theatre on fire? Something surely
has gone wrong!
In this conviction, with the contagious spirit of curiosity, I mounted
upon a seat, and looked about me on every side; but unable still to catch
the object which seemed to attract the rest, as I was about to resume my
place, my eyes fell upon a well-known face, which in an instant I
remembered was that of my late fellow-traveller the courier. Anxious to
avoid his recognition, I attempted to get down at once; but before I
could accomplish it, the wretch had perceived and recognised me; and I
saw him, even with a gesture of delight, point me out to some friends
"Confound the fellow," muttered I; "I must leave this at once, or I shall
be involved in some trouble."
Scarcely was my my resolve taken, when a new burst of voices arose from
the pit--the words "l'Auteur," "l'Auteur," mingling with loud cries for
"Meerberger," "Meerberger," to appear. So, thought I, it seems the great
composer is here. Oh, by Jove! I must have a peep at him before I go.
So, leaning over the front rail of the box, I looked anxiously about to
catch one hasty glimpse of one of the great men of his day and country.
What was my surprise, however, to perceive that about two thousand eyes
were firmly rivetted upon the box I was seated in; while about half the
number of tongues called out unceasingly, "Mr. Meerberger--vive
Meerberger--vive l'Auteur des Franc Macons--vive Franc Macons," &c.
Before I could turn to look for the hero of the scene, my legs were taken
from under me, and I felt myself lifted by several strong men and held
out in front of the box, while the whole audience, rising en masse,
saluted me--yes, me, Harry Lorrequer--with a cheer that shook the
building. Fearful of precipitating myself into the pit beneath, if I
made the least effort, and half wild with terror and amazement, I stared
about like a maniac, while a beautiful young woman tripped along the edge
of the box, supported by her companion's hand, and placed lightly upon my
brow a chaplet of roses and laurel. Here the applause was like an
"May the devil fly away with half of ye," was my grateful response, to as
full a cheer of applause as ever the walls of the house re-echoed to.
"On the stage--on the stage!" shouted that portion of the audience who,
occupying the same side of the house as myself, preferred having a better
view of me; and to the stage I was accordingly hurried, down a narrow
stair, through a side scene, and over half the corps de ballet who were
waiting for their entree. Kicking, plunging, buffetting like a madman,
they carried me to the "flats," when the manager led me forward to the
foot lights, my wreath of flowers contrasting rather ruefully with my
bruised cheeks and torn habiliments. Human beings, God be praised, are
only capable of certain efforts--so that one-half the audience were
coughing their sides out, while the other were hoarse as bull-frogs from
their enthusiasm in less than five minutes.
"You'll have what my friend Rooney calls a chronic bronchitis for this,
these three weeks," said I, "that's one comfort," as I bowed my way back
to the "practicable" door, through which I made my exit, with the
thousand faces of the parterre shouting my name, or, as fancy dictated,
that of one of "my" operas. I retreated behind the scenes, to encounter
very nearly as much, and at closer quarters, too, as that lately
sustained before the audience. After an embrace of two minutes duration
from the manager, I ran the gauntlet from the prima donna to the last
triangle of the orchestra, who cut away a back button of my coat as a
"souvenir." During all this, I must confess, very little acting was
needed on my part. They were so perfectly contented with their
self-deception, that if I had made an affidavit before the mayor--if
there be such a functionary in such an insane town--they would not have
believed me. Wearied and exhausted at length, by all I had gone through,
I sat down upon a bench, and, affecting to be overcome by my feelings,
concealed my face in my handkerchief. This was the first moment of
relief I experienced since my arrival; but it was not to last long, for
the manager, putting down his head close to my ear, whispered--
"Monsieur Meerberger, I have a surprise for you--such as you have not had
for some time, I venture to say"--
"I defy you on this head," thought I. "If they make me out king Solomon
now, it will not amaze me"--
"And when I tell you my secret," continued he, "you will acknowledge I
cannot be of a very jealous disposition. Madame Baptiste has just told
me she knew you formerly, and that--she--that is, you--were--in fact, you
understand--there had been--so to say--a little 'amourette' between you."
I groaned in spirit as I thought, now am I lost without a chance of
escape--the devil take her reminiscences.
"I see," continued le bon mari, "you cannot guess of whom I speak; but
when I tell you of Amelie Grandet, your memory will, perhaps, be better."
"Amelie Grandet!" said I, with a stage start. I need not say that I had
never heard the name before. "Amelie Grandet here!"
"Yes, that she is," said the manager, rubbing his hands; "and my wife,
"Married!--Amelie Grandet married! No, no; it is impossible--I cannot
believe it. But were it true--true, mark me--for worlds would I not meet
"Comment il est drole," said the manager, soliloquising aloud; "for my
wife takes it much easier, seeing they never met each other since they
"Ho, ho!" thought I, "the affair is not so bad either--time makes great
changes in that space." "And does she still remember me?" said I, in a
very Romeo-in-the-garden voice.
"Why, so far as remembering the little boy that used to play with her in
the orchard at her mother's cottage near Pirna, and with whom she used to
go boating upon the Elbe, I believe the recollection is perfect. But
come along--she insists upon seeing you, and is this very moment waiting
supper in our room for you."
"A thorough German she must be," thought I, "with her sympathies and her
supper--her reminiscences and her Rhine wine hunting in couples through
Summoning courage from the fact of our long absence from each other, I
followed the manager through a wilderness of pavilions, forests, clouds
and cataracts, and at length arrived at a little door, at which he
"Come in," said a soft voice inside. We opened, and beheld a very
beautiful young woman, in Tyrolese costume. She was to perform in the
afterpiece--her low boddice and short scarlet petticoat displaying the
most perfect symmetry of form and roundness of proportion. She was
dressing her hair before a low glass as we came in, and scarcely turned
at our approach; but in an instant, as if some sudden thought had struck
her, she sprung fully round, and looking at me fixedly for above a
minute--a very trying one for me--she glanced at her husband, whose
countenance plainly indicated that she was right, and calling out,
"C'est lui--c'est bien lui," threw herself into my arms, and sobbed
"If this were to be the only fruits of my impersonation," thought I, "it
is not so bad--but I am greatly afraid these good people will find out a
wife and seven babies for me before morning."
Whether the manager thought that enough had been done for stage effect,
I know not; but he gently disengaged the lovely Amelie, and deposited her
upon a sofa, to a place upon which she speedily motioned me by a look
from a pair of very seducing blue eyes.
"Francois, mon cher, you must put off La Chaumiere. I can't play
"Put it off! But only think of the audience, ma mie--they will pull down
"C'est possible," said she, carelessly. "If that give them any pleasure,
I suppose they must be indulged; but I, too, must have a little of my own
way. I shall not play."
The tone this was said in--the look--the easy gesture of command--no less
than the afflicted helplessness of the luckless husband, showed me that
Amelie, however docile as a sweetheart, had certainly her own way as
While Le cher Francois then retired, to make his proposition to the
audience, of substituting something for the Chaumiere--the "sudden
illness of Madame Baptiste having prevented her appearance,"--we began to
renew our old acquaintance, by a thousand inquiries from that long-past
time, when we were sweethearts and lovers.
"You remember me then so well?" said I.
"As of yesterday. You are much taller, and your eyes darker; but
still--there is something. You know, however, I have been expecting to
see you these two days; and tell me frankly how do you find me looking?"
"More beautiful, a thousand times more beautiful than ever--all save in
one thing, Amelie."
"And that is--"
"You are married."
"How you jest. But let us look back. Do you ever think on any of our
old compacts?" Here she pulled a leaf from a rose bud in her bouquet,
and kissed it. "I wager you have forgotten that."
How I should have replied to this masonic sign, God knows; but the
manager fortunately entered, to assure us that the audience had kindly
consented not to pull down the house, but to listen to a five act tragedy
instead, in which he had to perform the principal character. "So, then,
don't wait supper, Amelie; but take care of Monsieur Meerberger till my
Thus, once more were we left to our souvenirs, in which, whenever hard
pushed myself, I regularly carried the war into the enemy's camp, by
allusions to incidents, which I need not observe had never occurred.
After a thousand stories of our early loves, mingled with an occasional
sigh over their fleeting character--now indulging a soft retrospect of
the once happy past--now moralising on the future--Amelie and I chatted
away the hours till the conclusion of the tragedy.
By this time, the hour was approaching for my departure; so, after a very
tender leave-taking with my new friend and my old love, I left the
theatre, and walked slowly along to the river.
"So much for early associations," thought I; "and how much better pleased
are we ever to paint the past according to our own fancy, than to
remember it as it really was. Hence all the insufferable cant about
happy infancy, and 'the glorious schoolboy days,' which have generally no
more foundation in fact than have the 'Chateaux en Espagne' we build up
for the future. I wager that the real Amant d'enfance, when he arrives,
is not half so great a friend with the fair Amelie as his unworthy
shadow. At the same time, I had just as soon that Lady Jane should have
no 'premiers amours' to look back upon, except such as I have performed a
The plash of oars near me broke up my reflections, and the next moment
found me skimming the rapid Rhine, as I thought for the last time. What
will they say in Strasbourg to-morrow? How will they account for the
mysterious disappearance of Monsieur Meerberger? Poor Amelie Grandet!
For so completely had the late incidents engrossed my attention, that I
had for the moment lost sight of the most singular event of all--how I
came to be mistaken for the illustrious composer.
It was late upon the following day ere I awoke from the long deep sleep
that closed my labours in Strasbourg. In the confusion of my waking
thoughts, I imagined myself still before a crowded and enthusiastic
audience--the glare of the foot-lights--the crash of the orchestra--the
shouts of "l'Auteur," "l'Auteur," were all before me, and so completely
possessed me, that, as the waiter entered with hot water, I could not
resist the impulse to pull off my night-cap with one hand, and press the
other to my heart in the usual theatrical style of acknowledgments for a
most flattering reception. The startled look of the poor fellow as he
neared the door to escape, roused me from my hallucination, and awakened
me to the conviction that the suspicion of lunacy might be a still
heavier infliction than the personation of Monsieur Meerberger.
With thoughts of this nature, I assumed my steadiest demeanour--ordered
my breakfast in the most orthodox fashion--eat it like a man in his
senses; and when I threw myself back in the wicker conveniency they call
a caleche, and bid adieu to Kehl, the whole fraternity of the inn would
have given me a certificate of sanity before any court in Europe.
"Now for Munich," said I, as we rattled along down the steep street of
the little town. "Now for Munich, with all the speed that first of
postmasters and slowest of men, the Prince of Tour and Taxis, will afford
The future engrossed all my thoughts; and puzzling as my late adventures
had been to account for, I never for a moment reverted to the past. "Is
she to be mine?" was the ever-rising question in my mind. The thousand
difficulties that had crossed my path might long since have terminated a
pursuit where there was so little of promise, did I not cherish the idea
in my heart, that I was fated to succeed. Sheridan answered the ribald
sneers of his first auditory, by saying, "Laugh on; but I have it in me,
and by ____ it shall come out." So I whispered to myself:--Go on Harry.
Luck has been hitherto against you, it is true; but you have yet one
throw of the dice, and something seems to say, a fortunate one in store;
and, if so----, but I cannot trust myself with such anticipations. I am
well aware how little the world sympathises with the man whose fortunes
are the sport of his temperament--that April-day frame of mind is ever
the jest and scoff of those hardier and sterner natures, who, if never
overjoyed by success, are never much depressed by failure. That I have
been cast in the former mould, these Confessions have, alas! plainly
proved; but that I regret it, I fear also, for my character for sound
judgment, I must answer "No."
Better far to be
In utter darkness lying,
Than be blest with light, and see
That light for ever flying
is, doubtless, very pretty poetry, but very poor philosophy. For myself
--and some glimpses of sunshine this fair world has afforded me, fleeting
and passing enough, in all conscience--and yet I am not so ungrateful as
to repine at my happiness, because it was not permanent, as I am thankful
for those bright hours of "Love's young dream," which, if nothing more,
are at least delightful souvenirs. They form the golden thread in the
tangled web of our existence, ever appearing amid the darker surface
around, and throwing a fair halo of brilliancy on what, without it, were
cold, bleak, and barren. No, no--
The light that lies
In woman's eyes,
were it twice as fleeting--as it is ten times more brilliant--than the
forked lightning, irradiates the dark gloom within us for many a long day
after it has ceased to shine upon us. As in boyhood it is the humanizing
influence that tempers the fierce and unruly passions of our nature, so
in manhood it forms the goal to which all our better and higher
aspirations tend, telling us there is something more worthy than gold,
and a more lofty pinnacle of ambition than the praise and envy of our
fellow-men; and we may rest assured, that when this feeling dies within
us, that all the ideal of life dies with it, and nothing remains save the
dull reality of our daily cares and occupations. "I have lived and have
loved," saith Schiller; and if it were not that there seems some
tautology in the phrase, I should say, such is my own motto. If Lady
Jane but prove true--if I have really succeeded--if, in a word--but why
speculate upon such chances?--what pretensions have I?--what reasons to
look for such a prize? Alas! and alas! were I to catechise myself too
closely, I fear that my horses' heads would face towards Calais, and that
I should turn my back upon the only prospect of happiness I can picture
to myself in this world. In reflections such as these, the hours rolled
over, and it was already late at night when we reached the little village
of Merchem. While fresh horses were being got ready, I seized the
occasion to partake of the table d'hote supper of the inn, at the door
of which the diligence was drawn up. Around the long, and not
over-scrupulously clean table, sat the usual assemblage of a German
"Eilwagen"--smoking, dressing salad, knitting, and occasionally picking
their teeth with their forks, until the soup should make its appearance.
Taking my place amid this motley assemblage of mustachioed shopkeepers
and voluminously-petticoated frows, I sat calculating how long human
patience could endure such companionship, when my attention was aroused
by hearing a person near me narrate to his friend the circumstances of my
debut at Strasbourg, with certain marginal notes of his own that not a
little surprised me.
"And so it turned out not to be Meerberger, after all,": said the
"Of course not," replied the other. "Meerberger's passport was stolen
from him in the diligence by this English escroc, and the consequence
was, that our poor countryman was arrested, the other passport being
found upon him; while the Englishman, proceeding to Strasbourg, took his
benefit at the opera, and walked away with above twelve thousand florins.
"Sappermint" said the other, tossing off his beer. "He must have been a
clever fellow, though, to lead the orchestra in the Franc Macons."
"That is the most astonishing part of all; for they say in Strasbourg
that his performance upon the violin was far finer than Paganini's; but
there seems some secret in it, after all: for Madame Baptiste swears that
he is Meerberger; and in fact the matter is far from being cleared up
--nor can it be till he is apprehended."
"Which shall not be for some time to come," said I to myself, as,
slipping noiselessly from the room, I regained my "caleche," and in ten
minutes more was proceeding on my journey. So much for correct
information, thought I. One thing, however, is certain--to the chance
interchange of passports I owe my safety, with the additional
satisfaction that my little German acquaintance is reaping a pleasant
retribution for all his worry and annoyance of me in the coupe.
Only he who has toiled over the weary miles of a long journey
--exclusively occupied with one thought--one overpowering feeling--can
adequately commiserate my impatient anxiety as the days rolled slowly
over on the long tiresome road that leads from the Rhine to the south of
The morning was breaking on the fourth day of my journey as the tall
spires of Munich rose to my view, amid the dull and arid desert of sand
that city is placed in. At last! was my exclamation as the postilion
tapped at the window with his whip, and then pointed towards the city.
At last! Oh! what would be the extacy of my feelings now could I
exchange the torturing anxieties of suspense for the glorious certainty
my heart throbs for; now my journey is nearing its end to see me claim as
my own what I now barely aspire to in the sanguine hope of a heart that
will not despair. But cheer up, Harry. It is a noble stake you play
for; and it is ever the bold gambler that wins. Scarcely was this
reflection made half aloud, when a sudden shock threw me from my seat.
I fell towards the door, which, bursting open, launched me out upon the
road, at the same moment that the broken axletree of the caleche had
upset it on the opposite side, carrying one horse along with it, and
leaving the other with the postillion on his back, kicking and plunging
with all his might. After assisting the frightened fellow to dismount,
and having cut the traces of the restive animal, I then perceived that in
the melee I had not escaped scatheless. I could barely stand; and, on
passing my hand upon my instep, perceived I had sprained my ancle in the
fall. The day was only breaking, no one was in sight, so that after a
few minutes' consideration, the best thing to do, appeared to get the
other horse upon his legs, and despatching the postillion to Munich,
then about three leagues distant, for a carriage, wait patiently on the
road-side for his return. No sooner was the resolve made than carried
into execution; and in less than a quarter of an hour from the moment of
the accident, I was seated upon the bank, watching the retiring figure of
the postillion, as he disappeared down a hill, on his way to Munich.
When the momentary burst of impatience was over, I could not help
congratulating myself, that I was so far fortunate in reaching the end of
my journey ere the mischance befell me. Had it occurred at Stuttgard I
really think that it would have half driven me distracted.
I was not long in my present situation till a number of peasants, with
broad-brimmed hats, and many-buttoned coats, passed on their way to work;
they all saluted me respectfully; but although they saw the broken
carriage, and might well guess at the nature of my accident, yet not
one ever thought of proffering his services, or even indulging curiosity,
by way of inquiry. "How thoroughly German," thought I; "these people are
the Turks of Europe, stupified with tobacco and 'starkes bier.' They
have no thought for any thing but themselves, and their own immediate
occupations." Perceiving at length one whose better dress and more
intelligent look bespoke a rank above the common, I made the effort with
such "platt deutsch," as I could muster, to ask if there were any house
near, where I could remain till the postillion's return? and learned
greatly to my gratification, that by taking the path which led through a
grove of pine trees near me, I should find a chateau; but who was the
proprietor he knew not; indeed the people were only newly come, and he
believed were foreigners. English he thought. Oh, how my heart jumped
as I said, "can they be the Callonbys; are they many in family; are there
ladies--young ladies, among them?"--he knew not. Having hastily arranged
with my new friend to watch the carriage till my return, I took the path
he showed me, and smarting with pain at every step, hurried along as best
I could towards the chateau. I had not walked many minutes, when a break
in the wood gave me a view of the old mansion, and at once dispelled the
illusion that was momentarily gaining upon me. "They could not be the
Callonbys." The house was old; and though it had once been a fine and
handsome structure, exhibited now abundant traces of decay; the rich
cornices which supported the roof had fallen in many places, and lay in
fragments upon the terrace beneath; the portico of the door was half
tumbling; and the architraves of the windows were broken and dismantled;
the tall and once richly ornamented chimnies, were bereft of all their
tracery, and stood bolt upright in all their nakedness above the high
pitched roof. A straggling "jet d'eau" was vigorously fighting its way
amid a mass of creeping shrubs and luxuriant lichens that had grown
around and above a richly carved fountain, and fell in a shower of
sparkling dew upon the rank grass and tall weeds around. The gentle
murmur was the only sound that broke the stillness of the morning.
A few deities in lead and stone, mutilated and broken, stood like the
Genii loci, guarding the desolation about them, where an old,
superannuated peacock, with dropping, ragged tail was the only living
thing to be seen. All bespoke the wreck of what once was great and
noble, and all plainly told me that such could not be the abode of the
Half doubting that the house were inhabited, and half scrupling if so to
disturb its inmates from their rest, I sat down upon the terrace steps
and fell into a fit of musing on the objects about. That strange
propensity of my countrymen to settle down in remote and unfrequented
spots upon the continent, had never struck me so forcibly; for although
unquestionably there were evident traces of the former grandeur of the
place, yet it was a long past greatness; and in the dilapidated walls,
broken statues, weed grown walls, and dark and tangled pine grove, there
were more hints for sadness than I should willingly surround myself by in
a residence. The harsh grating of a heavy door behind roused me; I
turned and beheld an old man in a species of tarnished and worm-eaten
livery, who, holding the door, again gazed at me with a mingled
expression of fear and curiosity. Having briefly explained the
circumstances which had befallen me, and appealed to the broken caleche
upon the road to corroborate a testimony that I perceived needed such
aid, the old man invited me to enter, saying that his master and mistress
were not risen, but that he would himself give me some breakfast, of
which by this time I stood much in want. The room into which I was
ushered, corresponded well with the exterior of the house. It was large,
bleak, and ill furnished; the ample, uncurtained windows; the cold, white
pannelled walls; the uncarpeted floor; all giving it an air of
uninhabitable misery. A few chairs of the Louis-quatorze taste, with
blue velvet linings, faded and worn, a cracked marble table upon legs
that once had been gilt; two scarcely detectable portraits of a mail-clad
hero and a scarcely less formidable fair, with a dove upon her wrist,
formed the principal articles of furniture in the dismal abode, where so
"triste" and depressing did every thing appear, that I half regretted the
curiosity that had tempted me from the balmy air, and cheerful morning
without, to the gloom and solitude around me.
The old man soon re-appeared with a not despicable cup of "Cafe noir,"
and a piece of bread as large as a teaspoon, and used by the Germans
pretty much in the same way. As the adage of the "gift horse" is of
tolerably general acceptation, I eat and was thankful, mingling my
acknowledgments from time to time with some questions about the owners of
the mansion, concerning whom I could not help feeling curious. The
ancient servitor, however, knew little or nothing of those he served; his
master was the honourable baron; but of his name he was ignorant; his
mistress was young; they had not been many months there; they knew no
one--had no visitors--he had heard they were English, but did not know it
himself; they were "Gute leute," "good people," and that was enough for
him. How strange did all this seem, that two people, young, too, should
separate themselves from all the attractions and pleasures of the world,
and settle down in the dark and dreary solitude, where every association
was of melancholy, every object a text for sad reflections. Lost in
these thoughts I sat down beside the window, and heeded not the old man
as he noiselessly left the room. My thoughts ran on over the strange
phases in which life presents itself, and how little after all external
influences have to do with that peace of mind whose origin is within.
The Indian, whose wigwam is beside the cataract, heeds not its thunders,
nor feels its sprays as they fall in everlasting dews upon him; the Arab
of the desert sees no bleakness in those never ending plains, upon whose
horizon his eye has rested from childhood to age. Who knows but he who
inhabits this lonely dwelling may have once shone in the gay world,
mixing in its follies, tasting of its fascination; and to think that now
--the low murmurs of the pine tops, the gentle rustle of the water
through the rank grass, and my own thoughts combining, overcame me at
length, and I slept--how long I know not; but when I awoke, certain
changes about showed me that some length of time had elapsed; a gay wood
fire was burning on the hearth; an ample breakfast covered the table; and
the broadsheet of the "Times" newspaper was negligently reposing in the
deep hollow of an arm chair. Before I had well thought how to apologize
for the cool insouciance of my intrusion, the door opened, and a tall,
well built man entered; his shooting jacket and gaiters were evidence of
his English origin, while a bushy moustache and most ample "Henri quatre"
nearly concealed features, that still were not quite unknown to me; he
stopped, looked steadily at me, placed a hand on either shoulder, and