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finally covered the canvass with all the accumulated beastliness of his most drunken and sensual imagination?
North. Stop, Tickler—remember Teniers, and
Remember nae sic fallow, .Mr Tickler; Wnlkie's wee finger's worth the hale o' them. "Duncan Gray cam here to woo," is sac gude, that it's maist unendurable. Yon's the bonniest lass ever I saw in a' my bom days. What a sonsy hawse! But indeed, she's a' alike parfite.
Stop, Shepherd, remember. I saw a Cockney to-day looking at that picture, and on! what a contrast between the strapping figure of Duncan Gray, his truly pastoral physiognomy, well-filled top-boots (not unlike your own, James,) and sinewy hands that seem alike ready for the tug of either love or war—and the tout-ensemble of that most helpless of all possible creatures!
John Watson is great this year. Happy man, to whom that beautiful creature, (picture of a Lady,) may be inditing a soft epistle! What innocence, simplicity, grace, and gaiete du cour! Why, if that sweet damosel would think of an old man like the
1 l.uul your tongue. Why should she think o an auld man ?" Ye might be her gutcher, you re threescore and twa."
Mr Thomson of Duddingston is the best landscape-painter Scotland ever produced—better than either Nasmyth, or Andrew Wilson, or Greek Williams.
Not so fast, Tickler. Let us discuss the comparative merits
Then I'm aff. For o' a' the talk in this warld, that about pictures is the warst. I wud say that to the face o' the Director-General himsel.
A hint from my Theocritus is sufficient. What think you, Bion, of this parliamentary grant of L.300,000 for repairing old Windsor?
I never saw the Great House o' Windsor Palace, but it has been for ages the howf o' kings, and it mauna be allowed to gang back. If L.300,000 winna do, gie a million. Man, if I was but in Parliament, I would gie the niggarts their fairings. Grudge a king a palace!
What say you, my good Shepherd, to a half million more for churches?
Mr North, you and Mr Tickler is aiblins laughing at ine, and speering questions at me, that you may think are out o' my way to answer; but, for a' that, I 'perhaps ken as weel's either o* you, what's due to the religious establishments of a great and increasing kintra, wi" a population o' twal millions, mair or less, in or owre. Isn't it sae?
Well said, James. This is not the place, perhaps, to talk much of these serious matters; but no ministry will ever stand the lower in the estimation of their country, for having enabled some hundred thousands more of the people to worship their Maker publicly once a-week. ,
I'm thinking no. Nane o' the Opposition wad oppose a grant o' half a million for bigging schools, the mair's their merit; and if sae, what for no kirks Edication and religion should gang hand in hand. That's aye been my thocht. ( Enter Ambrose, with supper.) Howsomever, here's sooper ; and instead o' talking o' kirks, let us a* gang oftener till them.—Put down the sassages afore me, Ambrois. Ye're looken unco weel the noo, man ; I hardly ever saw ye sae fat. How is the mistress and the bairns?
All well, sir, I thank you, Mr Hogg.
Od, man, I wush you would come out at the preachings, when the town's thin, and see us at Altrive.
I fear it is quite impossible for me to leave town, Mr Hogg; but I shall always be most happy to see you here, sir.
I've been in your house a hunder and a hunder times, and you ken I lodged ance in the flat aboon ; and never did I hear ony noise, or row, or rippet, below your rigging. I dinna repent a single hour I ever sat here; I never saw or heard naething said or done here, that michtna been said or done in a minister's manse. But it's waxing early, and I ken you dinna keep untimeous hours; so let us devoor supper, and be aff. That fire taigled us.
I had been asleep for an hour, before mine host awakened me, and had a dream of the North Pole.
North Pole! How often do you think Captain Parry intends howking his way through these icebergs, wi' the snout o' his discovery ships? May he never be frozen up at last, he and a' his crew, in thae dismal regions!
Have you read Franklin and Richardson?
Yes, I hae. Yon was terrible. Day after day naething to eat but tripe an" the rocks, dry banes, auld shoon, and a godsend o' a pair of leathern breeches! What would they no hae given for sic a sooper as this here!
Have you no intention, James, of going on the next land-expedition?
Na, na; I canna do without vittals. I was ance for twenty hours without tasting a single thing but a bit cheese and half a bannock, and I was close upon the fainting. Yet I would like to see the North Pole.
Where's your chronometer, James?
Whisht, whisht; I ken that lang-nebbit word.—Whisht, whisht.—Safe us! is that cauld lamb ?—We'll no hae lamb in Yarrow for a month yet.
Come, North, bestir yourself, you're staring like an owl in a consumption. Tip us A, my old boy.
Mr Tickler, Mr Tickler, what langish is that to use till Mr North? Think shame o' yoursel'.
No editor, James, is a hero to his contributors.
Weel, weel, I for ane will never forget my respect for Mr Christopher North. He has lang been the support o' the literature, the pheelosophy, the religion, and what's o' as great importance as ony thing else, the gude manners o' the kintra.
Forgive me, North, forgive me,—James. Come, I volunteer a song.
A sang! Oh man, you're a bitter bad singer—timmer-tuned, though a decent ear. Let's hear the lilt. ,
Come draw me six magnums of cla - ret, Don't spare it, But
share it in bumpers a - - round; And take care that in each shining
drinking a - bove. Drink a - way! Drink a - - way!
Give way to each thought of your fancies,
Though you swear you will never drink more.
Cried folly!What's Polly to reel for her fame?
Mr Ambrose, (entering with alarm.) As I live, sir, here's Mr ODoherty. Shall I say you are here, for he it in a wild humour?
(Enter Odoherty, singing.)
(North and Tickler rise to go.)
Ay, ay, late hours disna agree wi' snawy pows. But I'se sit an hour wi' you. (The Adjutant and the Shepherd embrace—North and Tickler disappear.)
Your letter came to me, covered all over with post-marks and directions; but a letter gives a fillip to one's spirits, even though the news in it be six weeks old. I don't know when I shall be in London again—perhaps never. I always hated leaving any place with a consciousness that I must, at a given time, come back again. Thank Heaven, there is nowno living creature to whom my moments are of much consequence! East, west, north, or south—to death, or to present enjoyment—I am free to take my course. I may push right on without injuring any one to the very extremity of this world; and there are almost as few whom it would concern materially, if I were to drop over into the next.
I am here—will you understand why?—hiding my lightunderabushel. A simple, unpretending, well-dressed, captain of cavalry, with half-pay, and two horses, and one servant for all. I have my gun, and my flute, and my fishing-rod; and (tOjplay with) my German pipe; and 'poor Venus, who makes love to all the women, and so introduces her master.—Poor Venus! A dog is a being that there is no safe providing for.—I hope she'll die before me—for I can't make her a ward of Chancery; and, though there is no cruelty in extinguishing life, I should not like the kindness of having her killed.
Straying, for the last month, through Oxfordshire, and Herefordshire,' and Somersetshire—revisiting localities in leisure and independence, which I had beheld under circumstances of danger or privation. In some places I sought for objects that had ceased to exist. I walked (as I thought) towards a particular house'ln Oxford; and the very street had disappeared. Where the views still remained, my new medium did not help the prospect. Eight years has made a change in the remains of Ludlow Castle, or in the remains of Charles Edwards. I rode past the gate of Leamington barracks.—'Do you recollect anything, Fletcher, here?—I saw the old stables, in which I had fagged over a splashed troop horse for many a weary hour. And the " post,"
at the commandant's door, where I had often stood sentry, and been as hungry as a wolf. And the school, in which I had drawn tears and curses from many a raw Irish recruit, when I was a " rough-rider." I felt almost as if I had a sort of affection for the place; and yet, Heaven knows, I had little cause to have any !—But there was one house which I did not care to see, (when it came to the point,) although I thought I had come to Leamington for little other purpose !—Is it not strange, when a man feels that he cannot live either with a particular woman or without her? And yet such an infernal sensation did come over me as. I approached the cottage that was Levine s, that I wheeled short up the back lane that leads to the river—how many times I had rode up it, to water, with the troop! and almost stumbled over a little creature, (a soldier's wife,) who had been kind to me when kindness was an object!—I threw some money down, and galloped off, for I thought, by her eye, that she knew me.—If she did—what a tale there was, within ten minutes, through every washerwoman's in Leamington! —Do you remember when I " drew," in the open market-place, and rescued our roast meat from die militiamen!
Heighho !—Your letter came in excellent season. It is a rainy afternoon. No trout-fishing—which serves to keep me walking, at least; and the views about the deep valley of the Usk, here, are delicious.
Why, it is not so fine a stream, to be sure, as the Suir between Carrick' and Clonmel; but you ought to relish liberty anywhere. And I should be the better of a companion, if he were such a one as I could converse with. I am as free as the veriest American savage! and have the advantage of civilization all round me at the same time. I live in inns, and avoid large towns; and find a welcome—and a real one—wherever I come. And I have just got the right calibre too, a* regards station and equipage, about me. Sufficient to make me the equal of a Duke; and yet not enough to raise me out of the reach of a reason3E
able being. I have been here three days. I rode away in a vile fit of spleen from Abergavenny. The place was getting what people call " full"—attorneys of fashion coming in to bathe; and citizens over from Bristol to drink buttermilk. It was nine at night when I abandoned—a moonlightworth all the day! Sobrightthattheeyetravelledfor miles—across—to the very horizon— over river, mountain, and meadow, all clear, and cold, and in deep stillness! One cannot see in the sunshine, for the noise and business that the world seems in. This was like looking at objects in a picture. Like looking through a lens, or into a bed of deep, clear, glassy water. It reminded me of the bright nights in which I had sailed upon an Atlantic sea. When the calm was perfect—neither breath nor swell upon the water. The sails flapping gently, to and fro, against the mast. And the dolphins, in such dazzling blue, as puts even the king-fisher to shame, playing, and plunging, and chasing each other round the vessel! Each new comer to the sports detected, while still at half-mile distance—not by the fiery train which marks his progress in a gale, when your ship dashes, head on, ten knots an hour through the foam, and he curvets, and bounds, and repasses, before your prow, like a Danish harlequin dog before the state carriage of a duchess— but by his own bold graceful figure, seen to fifty fathoms depth, and shining like a huge image of silver, strangely chased and painted! It reminded me of my West India service, and of my night guards in that beautiful St Lucie; when I used to leave the segars, and the mosquitoes, and the yellow ladies, and the Sangaree, to run along in a canoe over reefs as green as a May field, all living with shells and weeds, and " parrot" fishes and " seatree," and through water so bright, as, in the moonshine, to be invisible !— Drawing six inches, where there was ten feet, you seemed to rake the bottom every moment!—I rode along— living upon the view and the sensation —as slow as foot could fall. Getting, by degrees, into a delicious calmness, recollecting, and thinking,acutely, and yet not painfully. Half willing to be in kindness with myself, and almost dreaming about it with the world.— I thought of the times, and almost came back to the "good spirits," in which
you and I had ridden, (when we had only them to "feed and clothe" us,) so many night marches through the Peninsula—in front—in the rear—aside— any way to escape the turmoil and uproar of the division. And my Spanish servant, enjoying the scene almost as much as I did myself. Humming "The Fight of Ronscevalles,"and puffing white paper for a segar!—A man is entitled to be luxurious in the minor arrangements of life; and really, a foreign servant is one of the luxuries of domestic detail. I can talk to Jose, and let him talk to me, without the danger of a mistake. The rogue has a tact—an intuitive perception—a mode of his own, of arriving at one's meaning. A foreigner manages to be perfectly familiar, and yet, at the same time, perfectly respectful—a point at which you Englishmen (though with more brains, perhaps) never, by any chance, arrive. Many a hen has this very Jose stolen for me—and cooked when he had done! And with a manner, too—an absence of grosiicreU—a view of the correct mode in which the thing should be done !—Not like my great two-handed Thomas—shall you ever forget him ?—that went out to steal turkeys; and that we met, in broad day, with a live one under each arm, pursued by a whole village!— But we rode along, I tell you, as gently as horse's foot could step—past farmhouses, and cottages, and apple orchards, (even the dogs all asleep!) not having the most distant determination when, or where, we should stop; and so came into Usk about one o'clock in the morning. Pavement being no part of the parish arrangements, our arrival disturbed nobody. It was as light as it could have been at noon, and yet not even a stray cat was in motion. The white muslin curtains were drawn at the low bed-chamber windows; shutters did not seem to be thought necessary anywhere ;—things looked as though you might carry off the whole village, if you were strong enough to take it up, and walk away with it. I should have ridden on to Chepstow; but—" Great events," you know!—the door of the inn stood ajar; and yet not a creature was moving-near it. I dismounted; entered on tiptoe; walked through three apartments without seeing a soul; and at last found a party of a dozen—all women but three—seated, the snug