Imagens da página

'Tis in your wisdom, gentlemen, to pull
So wide the purse-strings of this factious Gull,
That he no more may triumph and parade
The streets of Cambridge in a blue cockade,” &c. &c.

Here follows a grand and solemn peroration, such as may often be heard in a court of justice, and read in the “ Times."

Then comes a most graphic and dramatic examination of witnesses. Simon Trout, dissenting minister and schoolmaster, is examined by Mr. Bother'um, and cross-examined by Mr. Bore’um. At first Mr. Trout will speak according to hearsay, what Chubb told him, and Tench; there is no keeping him to what he himself heard and saw, and Bother'um and Bore'um wrangle over him accordingly. At last, in the middle of much rambling, he swears point blank to the assault committed by Gull, and then Bother'um, feeling him to be a dangerous witness, says:

Both. Come, Sir, we don't detain you. Gull,

You're sure, smote Gudgeon on the skull ?
Trout. He did.
Bore. Stay, Mr. What dy'e-call'em,

You say you saw Gull bruise and maul him ?
Trout. Yes.
Bore. And you never go to dinners

To feast with publicans and sinners !

What! was the bludgeon pretty thick ?
Trout. I cannot say I saw the stick.
Bore. Stay, Sir, I think that you're a teacher !

and so forth; and, in a dexterous cross-examination, he extorts the admission that there had been some provocation, and that it merged into a regular fight. Then we have the medical witness, Dr. Tench, surgeon and apothecary, admirably technical, translating the commonest words into Latin ;

“ The fauces in a sad condition,

Between the nares no partition.”
(The result of the two tweaks)
"But both so joined into conjunction,

The olfactories declined their function;
Some teeth were broke, and some were lost.
The incisores suffered most;
Much mischief done to the molares-
And what a very strange affair is,
Not the least symptom could I see

Of dentes sapientiæ.” The Doctor is dismissed, and Farmer Chubb appears, at first a stolid stupid witness, from whom it is difficult to extort a word, and who has a mind to break away :

My lord I wishes to be going,

For 'tis a charming time for sowing."
(Lent assizes, I presume !)
Both. Stay, Mr. Chubb; speak out, Sir, do!

Did Gull beat Gudgeon ? Is that true ?
Chubb. Beat him! He beat him black and blue.

I never see'd a prettier fight,
So full of malice like, and spite.

Bore. A fight! Ho! ho! the truth's come out,

A fair set-to-a boxing bout ?
Both. And this you positively swear ?
Chubb. Ay, sure; why Simon Trout was there.

And then it appears that the schoolmaster had done all he could to promote the fray, and had endeavoured to persuade Chubb to act as bottle-holder to one of the parties. Chubb is dismissed, and Bore'um makes a most characteristic defence--cites half-a-dozen books—upon which Botherum cites somewhere about a score; they hurl argument against argument, case against case, and get into a prodigious fury. Bore'um vows :

“ If all that I've advanced this day

Be not good law, my lord, and sound
As e'er was broached on legal ground,
Soon as to chambers I return

my black-letter books I'll burn.'
“Hold, hold,” (quoth Bother'um) “'twould be cruel
To turn your fixtures into fuel,
Those precious tomes with cobwebs spread,
Which sleep so peaceful o'er your head;
Ere yet that sentence is decreed 'em,
Do read 'em, Master Bore'um, read 'em !"

After which piece of malice both parties suddenly cool down.

Both lovingly agreed at once to draw
A special case, and save the point in law,
That so the battle, neither lost or won,
Continued, ended, and again begun,

Might still survive, and other suits succeed
For future heroes of the gown to lead,
And future bards in loftier verse to plead.

Although I am copying from the sixth edition this pleasant poem is now so scarce, that after a long search in London, I fairly gave up all hopes of succeeding, and only obtained the volume at Bath, the birth-place of the author, who was the son of Christopher Anstey, the well-known writer of the Bath Guide.

The law of this book is said to be excellent. It is recorded of I know not what great legal luminary, that the only poem he ever read in the course of his life was “The Pleader's Guide," and that he had the triumph and satisfaction of discovering a flaw therein.




The representatives of the Anglo-Saxon race across the Atlantic-our cousins I do not know how many degrees removed—have in no way better proved their kindred than by the growing pith and substance of their literature. Of such


writers as Channing, Norton, Prescott, Ware, Cooper, and Washington Irving, together with the many who, where there are such leaders, are sure to press close upon their footsteps, any country might be proud. But one want they had ; and although not particularly fond of pleading guilty to deficiencies of any sort, they confessed it themselves : the want of a great poet. Of elegant versifiers there was no lack. I doubt if, for the fifty years that preceded the first French Revolution, England herself had been better

« AnteriorContinuar »