« ZurückWeiter »
compared to that glorious order which you wear? Think, sir, how out of the myriad millions of our race, you, and some few inore, stand forth as exemplars of duty and honor. Fortunati nimium.'”
"Sir," said the old gentleman, “I did but my duty at a painful moment; and 'tis matter of wonder to me that men talk still, and glorify such a trifling matter. By our Lady's grace, in the fair kingdom of France, there are scores of thousands of men, gentle and simple, who would do as I did. Does not every sentinel at his post, does not every archer in the front of battle, brave it, and die where his captain bids him? Who am I that I should be chosen out of all France to be an example of fortitude? I braved no tortures, though these I trust I would have endured with a good heart. I was subject to threats only. Who was the Roman knight of whom the Latin clerk Horatius tells?”
A Latin clerk? Faith, I forget my Latin,” says Mr. Brummell. • Ask the parson, here.”
“ Messire Regulus, I remember, was his name. Taken prisoner by the Saracens, he gave his knightly word, and was permitted to go seek a ransom among his own people. Being unable to raise the sum that was a fitting ransom for such a knight, he returned to Afric, and cheerfully submitted to the tortures which the Paynims inflicted. And 'tis said he took leave of his friends as gayly as though he were going to a vil.age kermes, or riding to his garden house in the suburb of the
“Great, good, glorious man!” cried Mr. Sterne, very much moved. Let me embrace that gallant hand, and bedew it with my tears! As long as honor lasts thy name shall be remembered. See this dew-drop twinkling on my cheek! 'Tis the sparkling tribute that Sensibility pays to Valor. Though in iny life and practice I may turn from Virtue, believe me, I never have ceased to honor her! Ah, Virtue! Ah, Sensibility! Oh”
Here Mr. Sterne was interrupted by a monk of the Order of St. Francis, who stepped into the room, and begged us all to take a pinch of his famous old rappee. I suppose the snuff was very pungent, for, with a great start, I woke up; and now perceived that I must have been dreaming altogether. 6 Dessein's” of now-a-days is not the “ Dessein's ” which Mr. Sterne, and Mr. Brummell, and I recollect in the good old times. The town of Calais has bought the old hotel, and “Dessein” has gone over to “ Quillacq's." And I was there yesterday. And
I remember old diligences, and old postilions in pigtails and jack-boots, who were once as alive as I am, and whose cracking whips I have heard in the midnight many and many a time. Now, where are they? Behold they have been ferried over Styx, and have passed away into limbo.
I wonder what time does my boat go? Ah! Here comes the waiter bringing me my little bill.
ON SOME CARP AT SANS SOUCI.
We have lately made the acquaintance of an old lady of ninety, who has passed the last twenty-five years of her old life in a great metropolitan establishment, the workhouse, namely, of the parish of Saint Lazarus. Stay - twenty-three or four years ago, she came out once, and thought to earn a little money by hop-picking; but being overworked, and having to lie out at night, she got a palsy which has incapacitated her from all further labor, and has caused her poor old limbs to shake ever since.
An illustration of that dismal proverb which tells us how poverty makes us acquainted with strange bed-fellows, this poor old shaking body has to lay herself down every night in her workhouse bed by the side of some other old woman with whom she may or may not agree.
She herself can't be a very pleasant bed-fellow, poor thing! with her shaking old limbs and cold feet. She lies awake a deal of the night, to be sure, not thinking of happy old times, for hers never were happy ; but sleepless with aches, and agues, and rheumatism of old age. “The gentleman gave me brandy-and-water,” she said, her old voice shaking with rapture at the thought. I never had a great love for Queen Charlotte, but I like ber better now from what this old lady told me. The Queen, who loved snuff herself, has left a legacy of snuff to certain poorhouses ; and, in her watchful nights, this old woman takes a pinch of Queen Charlotte's snuff, “ and it do comfort me, sir, that it do!” Pulreris exigui munus. Here is a forlorn aged creature, shaking with palsy, with no soul among the great struggling multitude of mankind to care for her, not quite trampled out of life, but past and forgotten in the rush, made a little happy, and soothed in her hours of unrest by this penny legacy. Let me thiuk as
I write. (The next month's sermon, thank goodness! is safe to press.) This discourse will appear at the season when I have read that wassail-bowls make their appearance; at the season of pantomime, turkey and sausages, plum-puddings, jollifications for schoolboys ; Christmas bills, and reminiscences more or less sad and sweet for elders. If we oldsters are not merry, we shall be having a semblance of merriment. We shall see the young folks laughing round the holly-bush. We shall pass the bottle round cosily as we sit by the fire. That old thing will have a sort of festival too. Beef, beer, and pudding will be served to her for that day also. Christmas falls on a Thursday. Friday is the workhouse day for coming out. Mary, remember that old Goody Twoshoes has her invitation for Friday, 26th December! Ninety is she, poor old soul? Ah! what a bonny face to catch under a mistletoe ! “Yes, ninety, sir,” she says, “and my mother was a hundred, and my grandmother was a hundred and two."
Herself ninety, her mother a hundred, her grandmother & hundred and two? What a queer calculation !
Ninety! Very good, granny: you were born, then, in 1772.
Your mother, we will say, was twenty-seven when you were born, and was born therefore in 1745.
Your grandmother was thirty when her daughter was born, and was born therefore in 1715.
We will begin with the present granny first. My good old creature, you can't of course remember, but that little gentleman for whom your mother was laundress in the Temple was the ingenious Mr. Goldsmith, author of a “History of England,” the " Vicar of Wakefield," and many diverting pieces. You were brought almost an infant to his chambers in Brick Court, and he gave you some sugar-candy, for the doctor was always good to children. That gentleman who wellnigh smothered you by sitting down on you as you lay in a chair asleep was the learned Mr. S. Johnson, whose history of “Rasselas you have never read, my poor soul; and whose tragedy of “* Irene” I don't believe any mån in these kingdoms ever perused. That tipsy Scotch gentleman who used to come to the chambers sometiines, and at whom verybody laughed, wrote a more amusing book than any of the scholars, your Mr. Burke and your Mr. Johnson, and your Doctor Goldsmith. Your father often took him home in a chair to his lodgings ; and has done as much for Parson Sterne in Bond Street, the famous wit. Of course, my good creature, you remember the Gordon Riots, and crying No Popery before Mr. Langdale's house, the Popish distiller's, and that bonny fire of my Lord Mansfield's books in Bloomsbury Square? Bless us, what a heap of illuminations you have seen! For the glorious victory over the Americans at Breed's Hill; for the peace in 1814, and the beautiful Chinese bridge in St. James's Park; for the coronation of his Majesty, whom you recollect as Prince of Wales, Goody, don't you? Yes; and you went in a procession of laundresses to pay your respects to his good lady, the injured Queen of England, at Brandenburg House; and you remember your mother told you how she was taken to see the Scotch lords executed at the Tower. And as for your grandmother, she was born five years after the battle of Malplaquet, she was ; where her poor father was killed, fighting like a bold Briton for the Queen. With the help of a “ Wade's Chronology," I can inake out ever so queer a history for you, my poor old body, and a pedigree as authentic as many in the peerage-books.
Peerage-books and pedigrees? What does she know about them? Battles and victories, treasons, kings, and beheadings, literary gentlemen, and the like, what have they ever been to her? Granny, did you ever hear of General Wolfe? Your mother may have seen him embark, and your father may have carried a musket under him. Your grandmother may have cried huzza for Marlborough ; but what is the Prince Duke to you, and did you ever so much as hear tell of his name? How many hundred or thousand of years had that toad lived who was in the coal at the defunct Exhibition? — and yet he was not a bit better informed than toads seven or eight hundred years younger.
“Don't talk to me your nonsense about Exhibitions, and Prince Dukes, and toads in coals, or coals in toads, or what is it?” says granny. “I know there was a good Queen Charlotte, for she left me snuff; and it comforts me of a night when I lie awake.”
To me there is something very touching in the notion of that little pinch of comfort doled out to granny, and gratefully inhaled by her in the darkness. Don't you remember what traclitions there used to be of chests of plate, bulses of diamonds, laces of inestimable value, sent out of the country privately by the old Queen, to enrich certain relations in M-ckl-nb-rg Str-l-tz? Not all the treasure went. Non omnis moritur. A poor old palsied thing at midnight is made happy sometimes as she lifts her shaking old hand to her nose. Gliding noiselessly among the beds where lie the poor creatures huddled in their cheerless dormitory, I fancy an old ghost with a smutf-box that does not
creak. “There, Goody, take of my rappee. You will not sneeze, and I shall not say "God bless you.' But you will think kindly of old Queen Charlotte, won't you? Ah! I had a many troubles, a many troubles. I was a prisoner almost so much as you are.
I had to eat boiled inutton every day: entre nous, I abominated it. But I never complained. I swallowed it. I made the best of a hard life. We have all our burdens to bear. But hark! I hear the cock-crow, and snuff the morning air.” And with this the royal ghost vanishes up the chimney if there be a chimney in that dismal harem, where poor old Twoshoes and her companions pass their nights — their dreary nights, their restless nights, their cold long nights, shared in what glum companionship, illumined by what a feeble
“ Did I understand you, my good Twoshoes, to say that. your mother was seven-and-twenty years old when you were born, and that she married your esteemed father when she her
was twenty-five? 1745, then, was the date of your dear mother's birth. I dare say her father was absent in the Low Countries, with his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland, under whom he had the honor of carrying a halberd at the famous engagement of Fontenoy - or if not there, he may have been at Preston Pans, under General Sir John Cope, when the wild Highlanders broke through all the laws of discipline and the English lines; and, being on the spot, did he see the famous ghost which didn't appear to Colonel Gardiner of the Dragoons? My good creature, is it possible you don't remember that Doctor Swift, Sir Robert Walpole (my Lord Orford, as you justly say), old Sarah Marlborough, and little Mr. Pope, of Twitnam, died in the year of your birth?
What a wretched memory you have! What? haven't they a library, and the commonest books of reference at the old convent of Saint Lazarus, where
“Convent of Saint Lazarus, Prince William, Dr. Swift, Atossa, and Mr. Pope, of Twitnam! What is the gentleman talking about?” says old Goody, with a “Ho! ho!” and a laugh like an old parrot — you know they live to be as old as Methuselah, parrots do, and a parrot of a hundred is comparatively young (ho! ho! ho!). Yes, and likewise carps live to an immense old age. Some which Frederick the Great fed at Sans Souci are there now, with great humps of blue mould on their old backs; and they could tell all sorts of queer stories, if they chose to speak but they are very silent, carps are — of their nature peu communicatives. Oh! what has been thy