Imagens da página

obtain intelligence from the fountain-head. The galleries presented the appearance of a modern club-room at an anxious time. They were full of people enquiring whether the Dutch mail was in, what tidings the express from France had brought, whether John Sobiesky had beaten the Turks, whether the Doge of Genoa was really at Paris. These were matters about which it was safe to talk aloud. But there were subjects concerning which information was asked and given in whispers. Had Halifax got the better of Rochester? Was there to be a Parliament? Was the Duke of York really going to Scotland? Had Monmouth really been summoned from the Hague? Men tried to read the countenance of every minister as he went through the throng to and fro from the royal closet. All sorts of auguries were drawn from the tone in which His Majesty spoke to the Lord President, or from the laugh with which His Majesty honoured a jest of the Lord Privy Seal; and in a few hours the hopes and fears inspired by such slight indications had spread to all the coffee-houses from Saint James's to the Tower.

The coffee-house must not be dismissed with a cursory mention. It might indeed at that time have been not improperly called a most important political institution. No Parliament had sat for years. The municipal council of the City had ceased to speak the sense of the eitizens. Public meetings, harangues, resolutions, and the rest of the modern machinery of agitation had not yet oome into fashion. Nothing resembling the modern newspaper existed. In such circumstances the ooffee-houses were the chief organs through which the public opinion of the metropolis vented itself.

The first of these establishments had been set up by a Turkey merchant, who had acquired among the Mahometans a taste for their favourite beverage. The convenience of being able to make appointments in any part of the town, and of being able to pass evenings socially at a very small charge, was 80 great that the fashion spread fast. Every man of the upper or middle class went daily to his coffee-house to learn the news and to discuss it. Every coffee-house had one or more orators to whose eloquence the crowd listened with admiration, and who soon became what the journalists of our time have been called, a fourth Estate of the realm. The Court had long seen with uneasiness the growth of this new power in the state. An attempt had been made, during Danby's administration, to close the ooffee-houses. But men of all parties missed their usual places of resort so much that there was an universal

outcry. The government did not venture, In opposition to a feeling so strong and general, to enforce a regulation of which the legality might well be questioned. Since that time ten years had elapsed, and during those years the number and influence of the coffeehouses had been constantly increasing. Foreigners remarked that the coffee-house was that which especially distinguished London from all other cities; that the coffee-house was the Londoner's home, and that those who wished to find a gentleman commonly asked, not whether he lived in Fleet Street or Chancery Lane, but whether he frequented the Grecian or the Rainbow. Nobody was excluded from these places who laid down his penny at the bar. Yet every rank and profession, and every shade of religious and political opinion, had its own head quarters. There were houses near Saint James's Park where fops congregated, their heads and shoulders covered with black or flaxen wigs, not less ample than those which are now worn by the Chancellor and by the Speaker of the House of Commons. The wig came from Paris and so did the rest of the fine gentleman's garments, his embroidered coat, his fringed gloves, and the tassel which upheld his pantaloons. The conversation was in that dialect which, long after it had ceased to be spoken in fashionable circles, continued, in the mouth of Lord Fopplngton, to excite the mirth of theatres. The atmosphere was like that of a perfumer's shop. Tobacco in any other form than that of richly scented snuff was held in abomination. If any clown, ignorant of the usages of the house, called for a pipe, the sneers of the whole assembly and the short answers of the waiters soon convinced him that he had better go somewhere else. Nor, indeed, would he have had far to go. For, in general the coffee-rooms reeked with tobacco like a guard-room : and strangers sometimes expressed their surprise that so many people should leave their own firesides to sit in the midst of eternal fog and stench. Nowhere was the smoking more constant than Will's. That celebrated house, situated between Covent Garden and Bow Street, was sacred to polite letters. There the talk was about poetical justice and the unities of place and time. There was a faction for Perrault and the moderns, a faction for Boileau and the ancients. One group debated whether Paradise Lost ought not to have been in rhyme. To another an envious poetaster demonstrated that Venice Preserved ought to have been hooted from the stage. Under no roof was a greater variety of figures to be seen. There were Earls in stars and garters, clergymen in cassocks and bands, pert Tempfara, sheepish lads from the Universities, translators and index makers in ragged coats of frieze. The great press was to get near the chair where John Dryden sate. In winter that chair was always in the warmest nook by the fire; in summer it stood in the balcony. To bow to the Laureate, and to hear his opinion of Raoine's last tragedy or of Bossu's treatise on epio poetry, was thought a privilege. A pinch from his snuff-box was an honour sufficient to turn the head of a young enthusiast. There were ooffee-houses where the first medical men might be consulted. Doctor John Radcliffe, who, in 1686, rose to the largest practice in London, came daily, at the hour when the Exchange was full, from his house in Bow Street, then a fashionable part of the capital, to Garraway's, and was to be found, surrounded by surgeons and apothecaries, at a particular table. There were Puritan coffee-houses where no oath was heard, and where lank-haired men discussed election and reprobation through their noses; Jew coffee-houses where dark-eyed money changers from Venice and Amsterdam greeted each other; and Popish coffee-houses where, as good Protestants believed, Jesuits planned, over their cups, another great fire, and cast silver bullets to shoot the King.

Lord Macauut.


Raised by my thought, I found tho region where
She whom I seek, but hero on earth in vain.
Dwells among those who the third heaven gain.

And saw her lovelier and less hanghty there.

She took my hand and said—" In this bright sphere,
Unless my wish deceive, we meet again:
Lo I I am she who caused thee strife and pain,

And closed my day before the eve was near.

My bliss no human thought can understand!
I wait for thee alone—my fleshly veil
So loved by thee is by the grave retained."

She ceased, ah why? and why let loose my hand?
Snch chaste and tender words could so prevail,
A little more, I had in heaven remained.




The Green lay at the extremity of the village, and from it the road branched off in two directions, one leading farther up the hill by the church, and the other winding gently down toward the valley. On the side 22

of the Green that led toward the church the broken line of thatched cottages was continued nearly to the church-yard gate; but on the opposite, north-western side there was nothing to obstruct the view of gentlyswelling meadows, and wooded valley, and dark masses of distant hills. The rich undulating district of Loamshire to which Hayslope belonged lies close to a grim outskirt of Stonyshire, overlooked by its barren hills, as a pretty blooming sister may sometimes be seen linked in the arm of a rugged, tall, swarthy brother; and in two or three hours' ride the traveler might exchange a bleak, treeless region, intersected by lines of cold gray stone, for one where his road wound under the shelter of the woods, or upswelling hills, muffle;! with hedgerows and long meadow-grass and thick corn; and where at every turn he came upon some fine old country-seat nestled in the valley or crowning the slope, some homestead with its long length of barn and its cluster of golden ricks, some gray steeple looking out from a pretty confusion of trees and thatch and dark-red tiles. It was justsuch a picture as this last that Hayslope church had made to the traveler as he began to mount the gentle slope leading to its pleasant uplands, and now from Lis station near the Green he had before him in one view nearly all the other typical features of this pleasant land. High up against the horizon were the huge conical masses of hill, like giant mounds intended to fortify this region of corn and grass against the keen and hungry winds of the north, not distant enough to be clothed in purple mystery, but with somber greenish sides visibly speckled with sheep, whose motion was only revealed by memory, not detected by sight; wooed from day to day by the changing hours, but responding with no change in themselves—left forever grim and sullen after the flush of morning, the winged gleams of the April noonday, the parting crimson glory of the ripening summer sun. And directly below them the eye rested on a more advanced line of hanging woods, divided by bright patches of pasture or furrowed crops, and not yet deepened into the uniform leafy curtain of high summer, but still showing the warm tints of the young oak and the tender green of the ash and lime. Then came the valley, where the woods grew thicker, as if they had rolled down and hurried together from the patches left smooth on the slope, that they might take the better care of the tall mansion which lifted its parapets and sent its faint blue summer smoke among them. Doubtless there was a large swoop of park and a broad, glassy pool in front of that mansion, but the swelling slope of meadow would not let our traveler see them from the village green. He ■aw, instead, a foreground which was just as lovely—the level sunlight lying like transparent gold among the gently-curving stems of the feathered grass and the tall red sorrel, and the white umbels of the hemlocks lining the bushy hedgerows. It was that moment in summer when the sound of the scythe being whetted makes us cast more lingering looks at the flower-sprinkled tresses of the meadows.

He might have seen other beauties in the landscape if he had turned a little in his saddle and looked eastward, beyond Jonathan Burge's pasture and wood-yard toward the green corn fields and walnut-trees of the Hall Farm; but apparently there was more interest for him in the living groups close at hand. Every generation in the village was there, from " old Feyther Taft" in his brown worsted night-cap, who was bent nearly double, but seemed tough enough to keep on his legs a long while, leaning on his short stick, down to the babies with their little round heads lolling forward in quilted linen caps. Now and then there was a new arrival; perhaps a slouching laborer, who, having eaten his supper, came out to look at the unusual scene with a slow bovine gaze, willing to hear what any one had to say in explanation of it, but by no means excited enough to ask a question. But all took care not to join the Methodists on the Green, and identify themselves in that way with the expected audience, for there was not one of them that would not have disclaimed the imputation of having come out to hear the "preacher-woman "—they had only come out to see "what war-a-goin' on, like." The men were chiefly gathering in the neighborhood of the blacksmith's shop. But do not imagine them gathered in a knot. Villagers never swarm; a whisper is unknown among them, and- they seem almost as incapable of an undertone as a cow or a stag.

Your true rustic turns his back on his interlocutor, throwing a question over his shoulder as if he meant to run away from the answer, and walking a step or two farther off when the interest of the dialogue culminates. So the group in the vicinity of the blacksmith's daor was by no means a close one, and formed no screen in front of Chad Cranage, the blacksmith himself, who stood with his black brawny arms folded, leaning against the door-post, and occasionally sending forth a bellowing laugh at his own jokes, giving them a marked preference over the sarcasms of Wiry Ben, who had renounced the pleasures of the Holy Bush for the sake of seeing

life under a new form. But both styles of wit were treated with equal contempt by Mr. Joshua Kami. Mr. Rami's leathern apron and subdued grimness can leave no one in any doubt that he is the village shoemaker; the thrusting out of his chin and stomach, and the twirling of his thumbs, are more subtle indications, intended to prepare unwary strangers for the discovery that they are in the presence of the parish clerk. "Old Joshway," as he is irreverently called by his neighbors, is in a state of simmering indignation; but he has not yet opened his lips except to say, in a resounding bass undertone, like the tuning of a violoncello, "Sehon, King of the Amorites; for His mercy endureth forever; and Og, the King of Basan; for His mercy endureth forever"— a quotation which may seem to have slight bearing on the present occasion, but, as with every other anomaly, adequate knowledge will show it to be a natural sequence. Mr. Rann was inwardly maintaining the dignity of the Church in the face of this scandalous irruption of Methodism; and as that dignity was bound up with his own sonorous utterances of the responses, his argument naturally suggested a quotation from the psalm he had read the last Sunday afternoon.

George Eliot.


[giobgb Meredith, bom In Hampshire, 1828. Ha was educated for the legal profession, but devoted himself to that of literature. He has laboured industriously and well; and has been recognized as one of the best class of contemporary novelists. "In his poetry," says one of his critics," we can trace the same qualities which have mado his Evan Harrington and his Ricltard Feverel such pleasant reading, namely, much humour Joined to very uncommon powers of observation and graphic painting." His chief works are: TJif Shaving of Sbagpat; farina, a legend of Cologne; Emilia in England; Bhoda Fleming; YiUoria; and his latest (1872) The Adventures of Barry Richmond.]

Pitch here the tent, while the old horse grazes:

By the old hedge-side we'll halt a stage. It's nigh my last above the daisies:

My next leaf'll be man's blank page. Yes, my old girl I and it's no use crying:

Juggler, constable, king, must bow. One that outjuggles all's been spying

Long to have me, and he has me now.

1 From Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside, by George Meredith. London: Chapman and Hal], 1862.


We've travelled times to this old common:

Often we've hung our pots in the gorse.
We've had a stirring life, old woman 1

Too, and I, and the old gray horse. Races, and fairs, and royal occasions,

Fonnd us coming to their call: Now they'll miss us at our stations:

There's a Juggler out juggles all!

Up goes the lark, as if all were jolly!

Over the duck-pond the willow shakes.
Easy to think that grieving's folly,

When the hand's firm as driven stakes! Ay! when we're strong, and braced, and manful,

Life's a sweet fiddle: but we're a batch Born to become the Great Juggler's han'ful:

Balls he shies up, and is safe to catch.


Here's where the lads of the village cricket:

I was a lad not wide from here: Couldn't I whip off the bale from the wicket?

Like an old world those days appear! Donkey, sheep, geese, and thatch'd ale-house—I know them!

They are old friends of my halts, and seem, Somehow, as if kind thanks I owe them:

Juggling don't hinder the heart's esteem.

Juggling's no sin, for we must have victual:

Nature allows us to bait for the fool. Holding one's own makes us juggle no little;

But, to increase it, hard juggling's the rule. You that are sneering at my profession,

Haven't you juggled a vast amount? There's the Prime Minister, in one Session,

Juggles more games than my sins '11 count.


I've murderM insects with mock thunder:

Conscience, for that, in men don't quail. I've made bread from the bump of wonder:

That's my business, and there's my tale. Fashion and rank all praised the professor:

Ay! and I've had my smile from the Queen: Bravo, Jerry! she meant: God bless her 1

Ain't this a sermon on that scene?

I've studied men from my topsy-turvy

Close, and, I reckon, rather true.
Some are fine fellows: some, right scurvy:

Most, a dash between the two.
But it's a woman, old girl, that makes me

Think more kindly of the race:
And it's a woman, old girl, that shakes me

When the Great Juggler I must face.


We two were married, due and legal:

Honest we've lived since we've been ontt Lord! I could then jump like an eagle:

You danced bright as a bit o' the sun. Birds in a May-bush we were! right merryl

All night we kiss'd—we juggled all day. Joy was the heart of Juggling Jerry!

Now from his old girl he's juggled away.


It's past parsons to console us:

No, nor no doctor fetch for me:
I can die without my bolus;

Two of a trade, lass, never agree t
Parson and Doctor!—don't they love rarely,

Fighting the devil in other men's fields 1
Stand up yourself and match him fairly:

Then see how the rascal yields 1


I, lass, have Uvea no gipsy, flaunting

Finery while his poor helpmate grubs: Coin I've stored, and you won't be wanting r

You shan't beg from the troughs and tubs. Nobly you've stuck to me, though in his kitchene

Many a marquis would hail you cook! Palaces you could have ruled and grown rich in,

But your old Jerry you never forsook.


Hand up the chirper! ripe ale winks in it;
Let's have comfort and be at peace.

Once a stout draught made me light as a linnet
Cheer up! the Lord must have his lease.

May be—for none see in that black hollow-
It's just a place where we're held in pawn,

And, when the Great Juggler makes as to swallow.
It's just the sword-trick—I ain't quite gone I

Yonder came smells of the gorse, so nutty,

Gold-like and warm: it's the prime of May.
Better than mortar, brick, and putty,

Is God's house on a blowing day.
Lean me more up the mound; now I feel it:

All the old heath-smells! Ain't it strange? There's the world laughing, as if to conceal it,

But He's by us, juggling the change.

XIII. I mind it well, by the sea-beach lying, Once—it's long gone—when two gulls we beheld, Which, as the moon got up, were flying

Down a big wave that spark'd and swell'd. Crack! went a gun: one fell: the second Wheel'd round him twice, and was off for new luck: There in the dark her white wing beckon'd :— Drop me a kiss—I'm the bird dead-struck I



Shepherd Jacob's greatest pleasure was his bagpipes. Almost before the morning dawned le was puffing upon them, and he puffed away at night when all other honest people were in bed. Though this afforded much pleasure to Jacob, it was not so well relished by his neighbours.

In a cavern of the mountain upon which Jacob generally took his seat lived a dwarf, who, at the christenings and weddings of the surrounding country, made himself very useful by lending the people knives and pewter plates. Wherever he found a good reception the dwarf proved very friendly, and was well liked by all. Now to this dwarf, the eternal puffing that went on above his head became very tiresome; he therefore one day took his way up the mountain, and with much politeness requested the shepherd to give up his music for a little; but Jacob, casting a contemptuous look on the diminutive figure before him, insolently answered, "What right have you to command me? And what does it signify to me though your head should ache again when I blow my pipes?" And from this time Jacob blew away more furiously at his bagpipes than ever.

The dwarf resolved on revenge, but concealed his anger under the mask of friendship, and strove to win by degrees the confidence of the shepherd. He soon succeeded in this; for he had wit enough to praise the exquisite melody •of his pipes, and gradually wrought himself into his full confidence, entertaining him with A thousand merry stories, for the sake of listening to which the shepherd would sometimes forget his darling pipes for half a day. At last the dwarf invited the shepherd to a party at which he promised him a great deal of pleasure. "Knight Fegesack, who lives in yonder castle," said he, "celebrates his wedding to-morrow; he once set his dogs after me to hound me from his court when carrying some plates to his servant to help at a christening. There will be gathered together those great people of the country who look with such contempt upon us and our acorns; we will go thither, and give them a little sauce to their mirth. Here, Jacob, is an invisible cap: if you put it on your head nobody will be able to see you, though you see everything that is going on

1 From Foreign Tales and Traditions, translated by Qeorge Godfrey Cunningham.

around you. Try its virtues at home, and leave the rest to me; only clean out that bag you have got there, for, unless I am sadly deceived, you will soon have occasion to fill it with something better."

Jacob took the wonderful cap from the dwarf, and made an attempt to try its virtue even before he reached his hut. Well, the sheep came running against him, and not even his own children could find him out when he called them by name with the cap on his head. He now gave himself implicitly up to the direction of the dwarf.

The day afterwards Jacob and the dwarf set out with their caps on their heads, and two empty wallets under their arms, to the castle of the knight. During the bridal ceremony they placed themselves upon the large round table, around which the bridegroom and bride and the principal guests were to sit. The dwarf then instructed the tittering shepherd in the part he was to perform.

In the course of an hour the whole company entered the room in pairs, and all took the places which were pointed out to them according to their several dignities, little suspecting the presence of any other guests.

And now the frolic began. The invisible dwarf pulled out the pins which fastened the myrtle garland on the bride's head, and Jacob pushed a large dish out of the hand of the butler which splashed the gravy over the scolding guests. Meanwhile the bridal wreath fell from the head of the bride—a bad omen, which might well wrinkle the brow of the old ladies, and set the younger ones a whispering.

A pause ensued, in which the guests, who waited the filling of the bumpers to resume the conversation, set their jaws briskly in motion.

But, good saints defend us! What was the surprise of the whole company when, on the appearance of the second course, they stretched their hands out towards the delicates—scarcely had they got a morsel on their forks and raised it to their mouths crc it was snatihed away by the dwarf or by Jacob, who crammed it with much laughter into their invisible wallets. The guests opened their even wider and wider —their faces lengthened more and more—a silence, like that of midnight in a cemetery, reigned throughout the whole room—fcnives, mouths, jaws, were laid at rest, while each gaped in blank astonishment upon his neighbour. Flagon after flagon, cup after cup, now disappeared from the table, and still the thief remained invisible! Well might the hair of the guests now begin to rise on end; ever}*

« AnteriorContinuar »