By William Makepeace Thackeray
NOTES BY EMINENT HANDS.
George de Barnwell. By Sir E. L. B. L., Bart.
Codlingsby. By D. Shrewsberry, Esq.
Phil Fogarty. A Tale of the Fighting Onety-Oneth. By Harry Rollicker
Barbazure. By G. P. R. Jeames, Esq., etc.
Lords and Liveries. By the Authoress of "Dukes and Dejeuners," "Hearts and Diamonds," "Marchionesses and Milliners," etc., etc.
Crinoline. By Je-mes Pl-sh, Esq.
The Stars and Stripes. By the Author of "The Last of the Mulligans," "Pilot," etc.
A Plan for a Prize Novel
THE DIARY OF C. JEAMES DE LA PLUCHE, ESQ., WITH HIS LETTERS.
A Lucky Speculator
Jeames on Time Bargings
Jeames on the Gauge Question
Mr. Jeames Again
THE TREMENDOUS ADVENTURES OF MAJOR GAHAGAN.
I. "Truth is Strange, Stranger than Fiction"
II. Allyghur and Laswaree
III. A Peep into Spain.—Account of the Origin and Services of the Ahmednuggar Irregulars
IV. The Indian Camp—the Sortie from the Fort
V. The Issue of my Interview with my Wife
VI. Famine in the Garrison
VII. The Escape
VIII. The Captive
IX. Surprise of Futtyghur
A LEGEND OF THE RHINE.
I. Sir Ludwig of Hombourg
II. The Godesbergers
III. The Festival
IV. The Flight
V. The Traitor's Doom
VI. The Confession
VII. The Sentence
VIII. The Childe of Godesberg
IX. The Lady of Windeck
X. The Battle of the Bowmen
XI. The Martyr of Love
XII. The Champion
XIII. The Marriage
REBECCA AND ROWENA; A ROMANCE UPON ROMANCE.
I. The Overture—Commencement of the Business
II. The Last Days of the Lion
III. St. George for England
IV. Ivanhoe Redivivus
V. Ivanhoe to the Rescue
VI. Ivanhoe the Widower
VII. The End of the Performance
THE HISTORY OF THE NEXT FRENCH REVOLUTION.
II. Henry V. and Napoleon III
III. The Advance of the Pretenders—Historical Review
IV. The Battle of Rheims
V. The Battle of Tours
VI. The English under Jenkins
VII. The Leaguer of Paris
VIII. The Battle of the Forts
IX. Louis XVII
A Day with the Surrey Hounds
The Finishing Touch
A New Drop-Scene at the Opera
Striking a Balance
Down at Beulah
Over-Boarded and Under-Lodged
Notice to Quit
Law Life Assurance
NOVELS BY EMINENT HANDS.
GEORGE DE BARNWELL
BY SIR E. L. B. L., BART.
In the Morning of Life the Truthful wooed the Beautiful, and their offspring was Love. Like his Divine parents, He is eternal. He has his Mother's ravishing smile; his Father's steadfast eyes. He rises every day, fresh and glorious as the untired Sun-God. He is Eros, the ever young. Dark, dark were this world of ours had either Divinity left it—dark without the day-beams of the Latonian Charioteer, darker yet without the daedal Smile of the God of the Other Bow! Dost know him, reader?
Old is he, Eros, the ever young. He and Time were children together. Chronos shall die, too; but Love is imperishable. Brightest of the Divinities, where hast thou not been sung? Other worships pass away; the idols for whom pyramids were raised lie in the desert crumbling and almost nameless; the Olympians are fled, their fanes no longer rise among the quivering olive-groves of Ilissus, or crown the emerald-islets of the amethyst Aegean! These are gone, but thou remainest. There is still a garland for thy temple, a heifer for thy stone. A heifer? Ah, many a darker sacrifice. Other blood is shed at thy altars, Remorseless One, and the Poet Priest who ministers at thy Shrine draws his auguries from the bleeding hearts of men!
While Love hath no end, Can the Bard ever cease singing? In Kingly and Heroic ages, 'twas of Kings and Heroes that the Poet spake. But in these, our times, the Artisan hath his voice as well as the Monarch. The people To-Day is King, and we chronicle his woes, as They of old did the sacrifice of the princely Iphigenia, or the fate of the crowned Agamemnon.
Is Odysseus less august in his rags than in his purple? Fate, Passion, Mystery, the Victim, the Avenger, the Hate that harms, the Furies that tear, the Love that bleeds, are not these with us Still? are not these still the weapons of the Artist? the colors of his palette? the chords of his lyre? Listen! I tell thee a tale—not of Kings—but of Men—not of Thrones, but of Love, and Grief, and Crime. Listen, and but once more. 'Tis for the last time (probably) these fingers shall sweep the strings.
E. L. B. L.
NOONDAY IN CHEPE.
'Twas noonday in Chepe. High Tide in the mighty River City!—its banks wellnigh overflowing with the myriad-waved Stream of Man! The toppling wains, bearing the produce of a thousand marts; the gilded equipage of the Millionary; the humbler, but yet larger vehicle from the green metropolitan suburbs (the Hanging Gardens of our Babylon), in which every traveller might, for a modest remuneration, take a republican seat; the mercenary caroche, with its private freight; the brisk curricle of the letter-carrier, robed in royal scarlet: these and a thousand others were laboring and pressing onward, and locked and bound and hustling together in the narrow channel of Chepe. The imprecations of the charioteers were terrible. From the noble's broidered hammer-cloth, or the driving-seat of the common coach, each driver assailed the other with floods of ribald satire. The pavid matron within the one vehicle (speeding to the Bank for her semestrial pittance) shrieked and trembled; the angry Dives hastening to his office (to add another thousand to his heap,) thrust his head over the blazoned panels, and displayed an eloquence of objurgation which his very Menials could not equal; the dauntless street urchins, as they gayly threaded the Labyrinth of Life, enjoyed the perplexities and quarrels of the scene, and exacerbated the already furious combatants by their poignant infantile satire. And the Philosopher, as he regarded the hot strife and struggle of these Candidates in the race for Gold, thought with a sigh of the Truthful and the Beautiful, and walked on, melancholy and serene.
'Twas noon in Chepe. The ware-rooms were thronged. The flaunting windows of the mercers attracted many a purchaser: the glittering panes behind which Birmingham had glazed its simulated silver, induced rustics to pause: although only noon, the savory odors of the Cook Shops tempted the over hungry citizen to the bun of Bath, or to the fragrant potage that mocks the turtle's flavor—the turtle! O dapibus suprimi grata testudo Jovis! I am an Alderman when I think of thee! Well: it was noon in Chepe.
But were all battling for gain there? Among the many brilliant shops whose casements shone upon Chepe, there stood one a century back (about which period our tale opens) devoted to the sale of Colonial produce. A rudely carved image of a negro, with a fantastic plume and apron of variegated feathers, decorated the lintel. The East and West had sent their contributions to replenish the window.
The poor slave had toiled, died perhaps, to produce yon pyramid of swarthy sugar marked "ONLY 6 1/2d."—That catty box, on which was the epigraph "STRONG FAMILY CONGO ONLY 3s. 9d," was from the country of Confutzee—that heap of dark produce bore the legend "TRY OUR REAL NUT"—'Twas Cocoa—and that nut the Cocoa-nut, whose milk has refreshed the traveller and perplexed the natural philosopher. The shop in question was, in a word, a Grocer's.
In the midst of the shop and its gorgeous contents sat one who, to judge from his appearance (though 'twas a difficult task, as, in sooth, his back was turned), had just reached that happy period of life when the Boy is expanding into the Man. O Youth, Youth! Happy and Beautiful! O fresh and roseate dawn of life; when the dew yet lies on the flowers, ere they have been scorched and withered by Passion's fiery Sun! Immersed in thought or study, and indifferent to the din around him, sat the boy. A careless guardian was he of the treasures confided to him. The crowd passed in Chepe; he never marked it. The sun shone on Chepe; he only asked that it should illumine the page he read. The knave might filch his treasures; he was heedless of the knave. The customer might enter; but his book was all in all to him.
And indeed a customer WAS there; a little hand was tapping on the counter with a pretty impatience; a pair of arch eyes were gazing at the boy, admiring, perhaps, his manly proportions through the homely and tightened garments he wore.
"Ahem! sir! I say, young man!" the customer exclaimed.
"Ton d'apameibomenos prosephe," read on the student, his voice choked with emotion. "What language!" he said; "how rich, how noble, how sonorous! prosephe podas—"
The customer burst out into a fit of laughter so shrill and cheery, that the young Student could not but turn round, and blushing, for the first time remarked her. "A pretty grocer's boy you are," she cried, "with your applepiebomenos and your French and lingo. Am I to be kept waiting for hever?"
"Pardon, fair Maiden," said he, with high-bred courtesy: "'twas not French I read, 'twas the Godlike language of the blind old bard. In what can I be serviceable to ye, lady?" and to spring from his desk, to smooth his apron, to stand before her the obedient Shop Boy, the Poet no more, was the work of a moment.
"I might have prigged this box of figs," the damsel said good-naturedly, "and you'd never have turned round."
"They came from the country of Hector," the boy said. "Would you have currants, lady? These once bloomed in the island gardens of the blue Aegean. They are uncommon fine ones, and the figure is low; they're fourpence-halfpenny a pound. Would ye mayhap make trial of our teas? We do not advertise, as some folks do: but sell as low as any other house."
"You're precious young to have all these good things," the girl exclaimed, not unwilling, seemingly, to prolong the conversation. "If I was you, and stood behind the counter, I should be eating figs the whole day long."
"Time was," answered the lad, "and not long since I thought so too. I thought I never should be tired of figs. But my old uncle bade me take my fill, and now in sooth I am aweary of them."
"I think you gentlemen are always so," the coquette said.
"Nay, say not so, fair stranger!" the youth replied, his face kindling as he spoke, and his eagle eyes flashing fire. "Figs pall; but oh! the Beautiful never does. Figs rot; but oh! the Truthful is eternal. I was born, lady, to grapple with the Lofty and the Ideal. My soul yearns for the Visionary. I stand behind the counter, it is true; but I ponder here upon the deeds of heroes, and muse over the thoughts of sages. What is grocery for one who has ambition? What sweetness hath Muscovada to him who hath tasted of Poesy? The Ideal, lady, I often think, is the true Real, and the Actual, but a visionary hallucination. But pardon me; with what may I serve thee?"
"I came only for sixpenn'orth of tea-dust," the girl said, with a faltering voice; "but oh, I should like to hear you speak on for ever!"
Only for sixpenn'orth of tea-dust? Girl, thou camest for other things! Thou lovedst his voice? Siren! what was the witchery of thine own? He deftly made up the packet, and placed it in the little hand. She paid for her small purchase, and with a farewell glance of her lustrous eyes, she left him. She passed slowly through the portal, and in a moment was lost in the crowd. It was noon in Chepe. And George de Barnwell was alone.
We have selected the following episodical chapter in preference to anything relating to the mere story of George Barnwell, with which most readers are familiar.
Up to this passage (extracted from the beginning of Vol. II.) the tale is briefly thus:
The rogue of a Millwood has come back every day to the grocer's shop in Chepe, wanting some sugar, or some nutmeg, or some figs, half a dozen times in the week.
She and George de Barnwell have vowed to each other an eternal attachment.
This flame acts violently upon George. His bosom swells with ambition. His genius breaks out prodigiously. He talks about the Good, the Beautiful, the Ideal, &c., in and out of all season, and is virtuous and eloquent almost beyond belief—in fact like Devereux, or P. Clifford, or E. Aram, Esquires.
Inspired by Millwood and love, George robs the till, and mingles in the world which he is destined to ornament. He outdoes all the dandies, all the wits, all the scholars, and all the voluptuaries of the age—an indefinite period of time between Queen Anne and George II.—dines with Curll at St. John's Gate, pinks Colonel Charteris in a duel behind Montague House, is initiated into the intrigues of the Chevalier St. George, whom he entertains at his sumptuous pavilion at Hampstead, and likewise in disguise at the shop in Cheapside.
His uncle, the owner of the shop, a surly curmudgeon with very little taste for the True and Beautiful, has retired from business to the pastoral village in Cambridgeshire from which the noble Barnwells came. George's cousin Annabel is, of course, consumed with a secret passion for him.
Some trifling inaccuracies may be remarked in the ensuing brilliant little chapter; but it must be remembered that the author wished to present an age at a glance: and the dialogue is quite as fine and correct as that in the "Last of the Barons," or in "Eugene Aram," or other works of our author, in which Sentiment and History, or the True and Beautiful, are united.
BUTTON'S IN PALL MALL.
Those who frequent the dismal and enormous Mansions of Silence which society has raised to Ennui in that Omphalos of town, Pall Mall, and which, because they knock you down with their dulness, are called Clubs no doubt; those who yawn from a bay-window in St. James's Street, at a half-score of other dandies gaping from another bay-window over the way; those who consult a dreary evening paper for news, or satisfy themselves with the jokes of the miserable Punch by way of wit; the men about town of the present day, in a word, can have but little idea of London some six or eight score years back. Thou pudding-sided old dandy of St. James's Street, with thy lacquered boots, thy dyed whiskers, and thy suffocating waistband, what art thou to thy brilliant predecessor in the same quarter? The Brougham from which thou descendest at the portal of the "Carlton" or the "Travellers'," is like everybody else's; thy black coat has no more plaits, nor buttons, nor fancy in it than thy neighbor's; thy hat was made on the very block on which Lord Addlepate's was cast, who has just entered the Club before thee. You and he yawn together out of the same omnibus-box every night; you fancy yourselves men of pleasure; you fancy yourselves men of fashion; you fancy yourselves men of taste; in fancy, in taste, in opinion, in philosophy, the newspaper legislates for you; it is there you get your jokes and your thoughts, and your facts and your wisdom—poor Pall Mall dullards. Stupid slaves of the press, on that ground which you at present occupy, there were men of wit and pleasure and fashion, some five-and-twenty lustres ago.
We are at Button's—the well-known sign of the "Turk's Head." The crowd of periwigged heads at the windows—the swearing chairmen round the steps (the blazoned and coronalled panels of whose vehicles denote the lofty rank of their owners),—the throng of embroidered beaux entering or departing, and rendering the air fragrant with the odors of pulvillio and pomander, proclaim the celebrated resort of London's Wit and Fashion. It is the corner of Regent Street. Carlton House has not yet been taken down.
A stately gentleman in crimson velvet and gold is sipping chocolate at one of the tables, in earnest converse with a friend whose suit is likewise embroidered, but stained by time, or wine mayhap, or wear. A little deformed gentleman in iron-gray is reading the Morning Chronicle newspaper by the fire, while a divine, with a broad brogue and a shovel hat and cassock, is talking freely with a gentleman, whose star and ribbon, as well as the unmistakable beauty of his Phidian countenance, proclaims him to be a member of Britain's aristocracy.
Two ragged youths, the one tall, gaunt, clumsy and scrofulous, the other with a wild, careless, beautiful look, evidently indicating Race, are gazing in at the window, not merely at the crowd in the celebrated Club, but at Timothy the waiter, who is removing a plate of that exquisite dish, the muffin (then newly invented), at the desire of some of the revellers within.
"I would, Sam," said the wild youth to his companion, "that I had some of my mother Macclesfield's gold, to enable us to eat of those cates and mingle with yon springalds and beaux."
"To vaunt a knowledge of the stoical philosophy," said the youth addressed as Sam, "might elicit a smile of incredulity upon the cheek of the parasite of pleasure; but there are moments in life when History fortifies endurance: and past study renders present deprivation more bearable. If our pecuniary resources be exiguous, let our resolution, Dick, supply the deficiencies of Fortune. The muffin we desire to-day would little benefit us to-morrow. Poor and hungry as we are, are we less happy, Dick, than yon listless voluptuary who banquets on the food which you covet?"
And the two lads turned away up Waterloo Place, and past the "Parthenon" Club-house, and disappeared to take a meal of cow-heel at a neighboring cook's shop. Their names were Samuel Johnson and Richard Savage.
Meanwhile the conversation at Button's was fast and brilliant. "By Wood's thirteens, and the divvle go wid 'em," cried the Church dignitary in the cassock, "is it in blue and goold ye are this morning, Sir Richard, when you ought to be in seebles?"
"Who's dead, Dean?" said the nobleman, the dean's companion.
"Faix, mee Lard Bolingbroke, as sure as mee name's Jonathan Swift—and I'm not so sure of that neither, for who knows his father's name?—there's been a mighty cruel murther committed entirely. A child of Dick Steele's has been barbarously slain, dthrawn, and quarthered, and it's Joe Addison yondther has done it. Ye should have killed one of your own, Joe, ye thief of the world."
"I!" said the amazed and Right Honorable Joseph Addison; "I kill Dick's child! I was godfather to the last."
"And promised a cup and never sent it," Dick ejaculated. Joseph looked grave.
"The child I mean is Sir Roger de Coverley, Knight and Baronet. What made ye kill him, ye savage Mohock? The whole town is in tears about the good knight; all the ladies at Church this afternoon were in mourning; all the booksellers are wild; and Lintot says not a third of the copies of the Spectator are sold since the death of the brave old gentleman." And the Dean of St. Patrick's pulled out the Spectator newspaper, containing the well-known passage regarding Sir Roger's death. "I bought it but now in 'Wellington Street,'" he said; "the newsboys were howling all down the Strand."
"What a miracle is Genius—Genius, the Divine and Beautiful," said a gentleman leaning against the same fireplace with the deformed cavalier in iron-gray, and addressing that individual, who was in fact Mr. Alexander Pope. "What a marvellous gift is this, and royal privilege of Art! To make the Ideal more credible than the Actual: to enchain our hearts, to command our hopes, our regrets, our tears, for a mere brain-born Emanation: to invest with life the Incorporeal, and to glamour the cloudy into substance,—these are the lofty privileges of the Poet, if I have read poesy aright; and I am as familiar with the sounds that rang from Homer's lyre, as with the strains which celebrate the loss of Belinda's lovely locks"—(Mr. Pope blushed and bowed, highly delighted)—"these, I say, sir, are the privileges of the Poet—the Poietes—the Maker—he moves the world, and asks no lever; if he cannot charm death into life, as Orpheus feigned to do, he can create Beauty out of Nought, and defy Death by rendering Thought Eternal. Ho! Jemmy, another flask of Nantz."
And the boy—for he who addressed the most brilliant company of wits in Europe was little more—emptied the contents of the brandy-flask into a silver flagon, and quaffed it gayly to the health of the company assembled. 'Twas the third he had taken during the sitting. Presently, and with a graceful salute to the Society, he quitted the coffee-house, and was seen cantering on a magnificent Arab past the National Gallery.
"Who is yon spark in blue and silver? He beats Joe Addison himself, in drinking, and pious Joe is the greatest toper in the three kingdoms," Dick Steele said, good-naturedly.
"His paper in the Spectator beats thy best, Dick, thou sluggard," the Right Honorable Mr. Addison exclaimed. "He is the author of that famous No. 996, for which you have all been giving me the credit."
"The rascal foiled me at capping verses," Dean Swift said, "and won a tenpenny piece of me, plague take him!"
"He has suggested an emendation in my 'Homer,' which proves him a delicate scholar," Mr. Pope exclaimed.
"He knows more of the French king than any man I have met with; and we must have an eye upon him," said Lord Bolingbroke, then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and beckoning a suspicious-looking person who was drinking at a side-table, whispered to him something.
Meantime who was he? where was he, this youth who had struck all the wits of London with admiration? His galloping charger had returned to the City; his splendid court-suit was doffed for the citizen's gabardine and grocer's humble apron.
George de Barnwell was in Chepe—in Chepe, at the feet of Martha Millwood.
THE CONDEMNED CELL.
"Quid me mollibus implicas lacertis, my Elinor? Nay," George added, a faint smile illumining his wan but noble features, "why speak to thee in the accents of the Roman poet, which thou comprehendest not? Bright One, there be other things in Life, in Nature, in this Inscrutable Labyrinth, this Heart on which thou leanest, which are equally unintelligible to thee! Yes, my pretty one, what is the Unintelligible but the Ideal? what is the Ideal but the Beautiful? what the Beautiful but the Eternal? And the Spirit of Man that would commune with these is like Him who wanders by the thina poluphloisboio thalasses, and shrinks awe-struck before that Azure Mystery."
Emily's eyes filled with fresh-gushing dew. "Speak on, speak ever thus, my George," she exclaimed. Barnwell's chains rattled as the confiding girl clung to him. Even Snoggin, the turnkey appointed to sit with the Prisoner, was affected by his noble and appropriate language, and also burst into tears.
"You weep, my Snoggin," the Boy said; "and why? Hath Life been so charming to me that I should wish to retain it? hath Pleasure no after-Weariness? Ambition no Deception; Wealth no Care; and Glory no Mockery? Psha! I am sick of Success, palled of Pleasure, weary of Wine and Wit, and—nay, start not, my Adelaide—and Woman. I fling away all these things as the Toys of Boyhood. Life is the Soul's Nursery. I am a Man, and pine for the Illimitable! Mark you me! Has the Morrow any terrors for me, think ye? Did Socrates falter at his poison? Did Seneca blench in his bath? Did Brutus shirk the sword when his great stake was lost? Did even weak Cleopatra shrink from the Serpent's fatal nip? And why should I? My great Hazard hath been played, and I pay my forfeit. Lie sheathed in my heart, thou flashing Blade! Welcome to my Bosom, thou faithful Serpent; I hug thee, peace-bearing Image of the Eternal! Ha, the hemlock cup! Fill high, boy, for my soul is thirsty for the Infinite! Get ready the bath, friends; prepare me for the feast To-morrow—bathe my limbs in odors, and put ointment in my hair."
"Has for a bath," Snoggin interposed, "they're not to be 'ad in this ward of the prison; but I dussay Hemmy will git you a little hoil for your 'air."
The Prisoned One laughed loud and merrily. "My guardian understands me not, pretty one—and thou? what sayest thou? From those dear lips methinks—plura sunt oscula quam sententiae—I kiss away thy tears, dove!—they will flow apace when I am gone, then they will dry, and presently these fair eyes will shine on another, as they have beamed on poor George Barnwell. Yet wilt thou not all forget him, sweet one. He was an honest fellow, and had a kindly heart for all the world said—"
"That, that he had," cried the gaoler and the girl in voices gurgling with emotion. And you who read! you unconvicted Convict—you murderer, though haply you have slain no one—you Felon in posse if not in esse—deal gently with one who has used the Opportunity that has failed thee—and believe that the Truthful and the Beautiful bloom sometimes in the dock and the convict's tawny Gabardine!
In the matter for which he suffered, George could never be brought to acknowledge that he was at all in the wrong. "It may be an error of judgment," he said to the Venerable Chaplain of the gaol, "but it is no crime. Were it Crime, I should feel Remorse. Where there is no remorse, Crime cannot exist. I am not sorry: therefore, I am innocent. Is the proposition a fair one?"
The excellent Doctor admitted that it was not to be contested.
"And wherefore, sir, should I have sorrow," the Boy resumed, "for ridding the world of a sordid worm;* of a man whose very soul was dross, and who never had a feeling for the Truthful and the Beautiful? When I stood before my uncle in the moonlight, in the gardens of the ancestral halls of the De Barnwells, I felt that it was the Nemesis come to overthrow him. 'Dog,' I said to the trembling slave, 'tell me where thy Gold is. THOU hast no use for it. I can spend it in relieving the Poverty on which thou tramplest; in aiding Science, which thou knowest not; in uplifting Art, to which thou art blind. Give Gold, and thou art free.' But he spake not, and I slew him."
"I would not have this doctrine vulgarly promulgated," said the admirable chaplain, "for its general practice might chance to do harm. Thou, my son, the Refined, the Gentle, the Loving and Beloved, the Poet and Sage, urged by what I cannot but think a grievous error, hast appeared as Avenger. Think what would be the world's condition, were men without any Yearning after the Ideal to attempt to reorganize Society, to redistribute Property, to avenge Wrong."
"A rabble of pigmies scaling Heaven," said the noble though misguided young Prisoner. "Prometheus was a Giant, and he fell."
"Yes, indeed, my brave youth!" the benevolent Dr. Fuzwig exclaimed, clasping the Prisoner's marble and manacled hand; "and the Tragedy of To-morrow will teach the World that Homicide is not to be permitted even to the most amiable Genius, and that the lover of the Ideal and the Beautiful, as thou art, my son, must respect the Real likewise."
"Look! here is supper!" cried Barnwell gayly. "This is the Real, Doctor; let us respect it and fall to." He partook of the meal as joyously as if it had been one of his early festals; but the worthy chaplain could scarcely eat it for tears.
* This is a gross plagiarism: the above sentiment is expressed much more eloquently in the ingenious romance of Eugene Aram:—"The burning desires I have known—the resplendent visions I have nursed—the sublime aspirings that have lifted me so often from sense and clay: these tell me, that whether for good or ill, I am the thing of an immortality and the creature of a God. . . . I have destroyed a man noxious to the world! with the wealth by which he afflicted society, I have been the means of blessing many."
BY D. SHREWSBERRY, ESQ.
"The whole world is bound by one chain. In every city in the globe there is one quarter that certain travellers know and recognize from its likeness to its brother district in all other places where are congregated the habitations of men. In Tehran, or Pekin, or Stamboul, or New York, or Timbuctoo, or London, there is a certain district where a certain man is not a stranger. Where the idols are fed with incense by the streams of Ching-wang-foo; where the minarets soar sparkling above the cypresses, their reflections quivering in the lucid waters of the Golden Horn; where the yellow Tiber flows under broken bridges and over imperial glories; where the huts are squatted by the Niger, under the palm-trees; where the Northern Babel lies, with its warehouses, and its bridges, its graceful factory-chimneys, and its clumsy fanes—hidden in fog and smoke by the dirtiest river in the world—in all the cities of mankind there is One Home whither men of one family may resort. Over the entire world spreads a vast brotherhood, suffering, silent, scattered, sympathizing, WAITING—an immense Free-Masonry. Once this world-spread band was an Arabian clan—a little nation alone and outlying amongst the mighty monarchies of ancient time, the Megatheria of history. The sails of their rare ships might be seen in the Egyptian waters; the camels of their caravans might thread the sands of Baalbec, or wind through the date-groves of Damascus; their flag was raised, not ingloriously, in many wars, against mighty odds; but 'twas a small people, and on one dark night the Lion of Judah went down before Vespasian's Eagles, and in flame, and death, and struggle, Jerusalem agonized and died. . . . Yes, the Jewish city is lost to Jewish men; but have they not taken the world in exchange?"
Mused thus Godfrey de Bouillon, Marquis of Codlingsby, as he debouched from Wych Street into the Strand. He had been to take a box for Armida at Madame Vestris's theatre. That little Armida was folle of Madame Vestris's theatre; and her little brougham, and her little self, and her enormous eyes, and her prodigious opera-glass, and her miraculous bouquet, which cost Lord Codlingsby twenty guineas every evening at Nathan's in Covent Garden (the children of the gardeners of Sharon have still no rival for flowers), might be seen, three nights in the week at least, in the narrow, charming, comfortable little theatre. Godfrey had the box. He was strolling, listlessly, eastward; and the above thoughts passed through the young noble's mind as he came in sight of Holywell Street.
The occupants of the London Ghetto sat at their porches basking in the evening sunshine. Children were playing on the steps. Fathers were smoking at the lintel. Smiling faces looked out from the various and darkling draperies with which the warehouses were hung. Ringlets glossy, and curly, and jetty—eyes black as night—midsummer night—when it lightens; haughty noses bending like beaks of eagles—eager quivering nostrils—lips curved like the bow of Love—every man or maiden, every babe or matron in that English Jewry bore in his countenance one or more of these characteristics of his peerless Arab race.
"How beautiful they are!" mused Codlingsby, as he surveyed these placid groups calmly taking their pleasure in the sunset.
"D'you vant to look at a nishe coat?" a voice said, which made him start; and then some one behind him began handling a masterpiece of Stultz's with a familiarity which would have made the baron tremble.
"Rafael Mendoza!" exclaimed Godfrey.
"The same, Lord Codlingsby," the individual so apostrophized replied. "I told you we should meet again where you would little expect me. Will it please you to enter? this is Friday, and we close at sunset. It rejoices my heart to welcome you home." So saying Rafael laid his hand on his breast, and bowed, an oriental reverence. All traces of the accent with which he first addressed Lord Codlingsby had vanished: it was disguise; half the Hebrew's life is a disguise. He shields himself in craft, since the Norman boors persecuted him.
They passed under an awning of old clothes, tawdry fripperies, greasy spangles, and battered masks, into a shop as black and hideous as the entrance was foul. "THIS your home, Rafael?" said Lord Codlingsby.
"Why not?" Rafael answered. "I am tired of Schloss Schinkenstein; the Rhine bores me after a while. It is too hot for Florence; besides they have not completed the picture-gallery, and my place smells of putty. You wouldn't have a man, mon cher, bury himself in his chateau in Normandy, out of the hunting season? The Rugantino Palace stupefies me. Those Titians are so gloomy, I shall have my Hobbimas and Tenierses, I think, from my house at the Hague hung over them."
"How many castles, palaces, houses, warehouses, shops, have you, Rafael?" Lord Codlingsby asked, laughing.
"This is one," Rafael answered. "Come in."
The noise in the old town was terrific; Great Tom was booming sullenly over the uproar; the bell of Saint Mary's was clanging with alarm; St. Giles's tocsin chimed furiously; howls, curses, flights of brickbats, stones shivering windows, groans of wounded men, cries of frightened females, cheers of either contending party as it charged the enemy from Carfax to Trumpington Street, proclaimed that the battle was at its height.
In Berlin they would have said it was a revolution, and the cuirassiers would have been charging, sabre in hand, amidst that infuriate mob. In France they would have brought down artillery, and played on it with twenty-four pounders. In Cambridge nobody heeded the disturbance—it was a Town and Gown row.
The row arose at a boat-race. The Town boat (manned by eight stout Bargees, with the redoubted Rullock for stroke) had bumped the Brazenose light oar, usually at the head of the river. High words arose regarding the dispute. After returning from Granchester, when the boats pulled back to Christchurch meadows, the disturbance between the Townsmen and the University youths—their invariable opponents—grew louder and more violent, until it broke out in open battle. Sparring and skirmishing took place along the pleasant fields that lead from the University gate down to the broad and shining waters of the Cam, and under the walls of Balliol and Sidney Sussex. The Duke of Bellamont (then a dashing young sizar at Exeter) had a couple of rounds with Billy Butt, the bow-oar of the Bargee boat. Vavasour of Brazenose was engaged with a powerful butcher, a well-known champion of the Town party, when, the great University bells ringing to dinner, truce was called between the combatants, and they retired to their several colleges for refection.
During the boat-race, a gentleman pulling in a canoe, and smoking a narghilly, had attracted no ordinary attention. He rowed about a hundred yards ahead of the boats in the race, so that he could have a good view of that curious pastime. If the eight-oars neared him, with a few rapid strokes of his flashing paddles his boat shot a furlong ahead; then he would wait, surveying the race, and sending up volumes of odor from his cool narghilly.
"Who is he?" asked the crowds who panted along the shore, encouraging, according to Cambridge wont, the efforts of the oarsmen in the race. Town and Gown alike asked who it was, who, with an ease so provoking, in a barque so singular, with a form seemingly so slight, but a skill so prodigious, beat their best men. No answer could be given to the query, save that a gentleman in a dark travelling-chariot, preceded by six fourgons and a courier, had arrived the day before at the "Hoop Inn," opposite Brazenose, and that the stranger of the canoe seemed to be the individual in question.
No wonder the boat, that all admired so, could compete with any that ever was wrought by Cambridge artificer or Putney workman. That boat—slim, shining, and shooting through the water like a pike after a small fish—was a caique from Tophana; it had distanced the Sultan's oarsmen and the best crews of the Capitan Pasha in the Bosphorus; it was the workmanship of Togrul-Beg, Caikjee Bashee of his Highness. The Bashee had refused fifty thousand tomauns from Count Boutenieff, the Russian Ambassador, for that little marvel. When his head was taken off, the Father of Believers presented the boat to Rafael Mendoza.
It was Rafael Mendoza that saved the Turkish monarchy after the battle of Nezeeb. By sending three millions of piastres to the Seraskier; by bribing Colonel de St. Cornichon, the French envoy in the camp of the victorious Ibrahim, the march of the Egyptian army was stopped—the menaced empire of the Ottomans was saved from ruin; the Marchioness of Stokepogis, our ambassador's lady, appeared in a suite of diamonds which outblazed even the Romanoff jewels, and Rafael Mendoza obtained the little caique. He never travelled without it. It was scarcely heavier than an arm-chair. Baroni, the courier, had carried it down to the Cam that morning, and Rafael had seen the singular sport which we have mentioned.
The dinner over, the young men rushed from their colleges, flushed, full-fed, and eager for battle. If the Gown was angry, the Town, too, was on the alert. From Iffly and Barnwell, from factory and mill, from wharf and warehouse, the Town poured out to meet the enemy, and their battle was soon general. From the Addenbrook's hospital to the Blenheim turnpike, all Cambridge was in an uproar—the college gates closed—the shops barricaded—the shop-boys away in support of their brother townsmen—the battle raged, and the Gown had the worst of the fight.
A luncheon of many courses had been provided for Rafael Mendoza at his inn; but he smiled at the clumsy efforts of the university cooks to entertain him, and a couple of dates and a glass of water formed his meal. In vain the discomfited landlord pressed him to partake of the slighted banquet. "A breakfast! psha!" said he. "My good man, I have nineteen cooks, at salaries rising from four hundred a year. I can have a dinner at any hour; but a Town and Gown row" (a brickbat here flying through the window crashed the caraffe of water in Mendoza's hand)—"a Town and Gown row is a novelty to me. The Town has the best of it, clearly, though: the men outnumber the lads. Ha, a good blow! How that tall townsman went down before yonder slim young fellow in the scarlet trencher cap."
"That is the Lord Codlingsby," the landlord said.
"A light weight, but a pretty fighter," Mendoza remarked. "Well hit with your left, Lord Codlingsby; well parried, Lord Codlingsby; claret drawn, by Jupiter!"
"Ours is werry fine," the landlord said. "Will your Highness have Chateau Margaux or Lafitte?"
"He never can be going to match himself against that bargeman!" Rafael exclaimed, as an enormous boatman—no other than Rullock—indeed, the most famous bruiser of Cambridge, and before whose fists the Gownsmen went down like ninepins—fought his way up to the spot where, with admirable spirit and resolution, Lord Codlingsby and one or two of his friends were making head against a number of the town.
The young noble faced the huge champion with the gallantry of his race, but was no match for the enemy's strength and weight and sinew, and went down at every round. The brutal fellow had no mercy on the lad. His savage treatment chafed Mendoza as he viewed the unequal combat from the inn-window. "Hold your hand!" he cried to this Goliath; "don't you see he's but a boy?"
"Down he goes again!" the bargeman cried, not heeding the interruption. "Down he goes again: I likes wapping a lord!"
"Coward!" shouted Mendoza; and to fling open the window amidst a shower of brickbats, to vault over the balcony, to slide down one of the pillars to the ground, was an instant's work.
At the next he stood before the enormous bargeman.
After the coroner's inquest, Mendoza gave ten thousand pounds to each of the bargeman's ten children, and it was thus his first acquaintance was formed with Lord Codlingsby.
But we are lingering on the threshold of the house in Holywell Street. Let us go in.
Godfrey and Rafael passed from the street into the outer shop of the old mansion in Holywell Street. It was a masquerade warehouse to all appearance. A dark-eyed damsel of the nation was standing at the dark and grimy counter, strewed with old feathers, old yellow hoots, old stage mantles, painted masks, blind and yet gazing at you with a look of sad death-like intelligence from the vacancy behind their sockets.
A medical student was trying one of the doublets of orange-tawny and silver, slashed with dirty light blue. He was going to a masquerade that night. He thought Polly Pattens would admire him in the dress—Polly Pattens, the fairest of maids-of-all-work—the Borough Venus, adored by half the youth of Guy's.
"You look like a prince in it, Mr. Lint," pretty Rachel said, coaxing him with her beady black eyes.
"It IS the cheese," replied Mr. Lint; "it ain't the dress that don't suit, my rose of Sharon; it's the FIGURE. Hullo, Rafael, is that you, my lad of sealing-wax? Come and intercede for me with this wild gazelle; she says I can't have it under fifteen bob for the night. And it's too much: cuss me if it's not too much, unless you'll take my little bill at two months, Rafael."
"There's a sweet pretty brigand's dress you may have for half de monish," Rafael replied; "there's a splendid clown for eight bob; but for dat Spanish dress, selp ma Moshesh, Mistraer Lint, ve'd ask a guinea of any but you. Here's a gentlemansh just come to look at it. Look 'ear, Mr. Brownsh, did you ever shee a nisher ting dan dat?" So saying, Rafael turned to Lord Codlingsby with the utmost gravity, and displayed to him the garment about which the young medicus was haggling.
"Cheap at the money," Codlingsby replied; "if you won't make up your mind, sir, I should like to engage it myself." But the thought that another should appear before Polly Pattens in that costume was too much for Mr. Lint; he agreed to pay the fifteen shillings for the garment. And Rafael, pocketing the money with perfect simplicity, said, "Dis vay, Mr. Brownsh: dere's someting vill shoot you in the next shop."
Lord Codlingsby followed him, wondering.
"You are surprised at our system," said Rafael, marking the evident bewilderment of his friend. "Confess you would call it meanness—my huckstering with yonder young fool. I call it simplicity. Why throw away a shilling without need? Our race never did. A shilling is four men's bread: shall I disdain to defile my fingers by holding them out relief in their necessity? It is you who are mean—you Normans—not we of the ancient race. You have your vulgar measurement for great things and small. You call a thousand pounds respectable, and a shekel despicable. Psha, my Codlingsby! One is as the other. I trade in pennies and in millions. I am above or below neither."
They were passing through a second shop, smelling strongly of cedar, and, in fact, piled up with bales of those pencils which the young Hebrews are in the habit of vending through the streets. "I have sold bundles and bundles of these," said Rafael. "My little brother is now out with oranges in Piccadilly. I am bringing him up to be head of our house at Amsterdam. We all do it. I had myself to see Rothschild in Eaton Place this morning, about the Irish loan, of which I have taken three millions: and as I wanted to walk, I carried the bag.
"You should have seen the astonishment of Lauda Latymer, the Archbishop of Croydon's daughter, as she was passing St. Bennet's, Knightsbridge, and as she fancied she recognized in the man who was crying old clothes the gentleman with whom she had talked at the Count de St. Aulair's the night before." Something like a blush flushed over the pale features of Mendoza as he mentioned the Lady Lauda's name. "Come on," said he. They passed through various warehouses—the orange room, the sealing-wax room, the six-bladed knife department, and finally came to an old baize door. Rafael opened the baize door by some secret contrivance, and they were in a black passage, with a curtain at the end.
He clapped his hands; the curtain at the end of the passage drew back, and a flood of golden light streamed on the Hebrew and his visitor.
They entered a moderate-sized apartment—indeed, Holywell Street is not above a hundred yards long, and this chamber was not more than half that length—it was fitted up with the simple taste of its owner.
The carpet was of white velvet—(laid over several webs of Aubusson, Ispahan, and Axminster, so that your foot gave no more sound as it trod upon the yielding plain than the shadow did which followed you)—of white velvet, painted with flowers, arabesques, and classic figures, by Sir William Ross, J. M. W. Turner, R. A., Mrs. Mee, and Paul Delaroche. The edges were wrought with seed-pearls, and fringed with Valenciennes lace and bullion. The walls were hung with cloth of silver, embroidered with gold figures, over which were worked pomegranates, polyanthuses, and passion-flowers, in ruby, amethyst, and smaragd. The drops of dew which the artificer had sprinkled on the flowers were diamonds. The hangings were overhung by pictures yet more costly. Giorgione the gorgeous, Titian the golden, Rubens the ruddy and pulpy (the Pan of Painting), some of Murillo's beatified shepherdesses, who smile on you out of darkness like a star, a few score first-class Leonardos, and fifty of the master-pieces of the patron of Julius and Leo, the Imperial genius of Urbino, covered the walls of the little chamber. Divans of carved amber covered with ermine went round the room, and in the midst was a fountain, pattering and babbling with jets of double-distilled otto of roses.
"Pipes, Goliath!" Rafael said gayly to a little negro with a silver collar (he spoke to him in his native tongue of Dongola); "and welcome to our snuggery, my Codlingsby. We are quieter here than in the front of the house, and I wanted to show you a picture. I'm proud of my pictures. That Leonardo came from Genoa, and was a gift to our father from my cousin, Marshal Manasseh: that Murillo was pawned to my uncle by Marie Antoinette before the flight to Varennes—the poor lady could not redeem the pledge, you know, and the picture remains with us. As for the Rafael, I suppose you are aware that he was one of our people. But what are you gazing at? Oh! my sister—I forgot. Miriam! this is the Lord Codlingsby."
She had been seated at an ivory pianoforte on a mother-of-pearl music-stool, trying a sonata of Herz. She rose when thus apostrophized. Miriam de Mendoza rose and greeted the stranger.
The Talmud relates that Adam had two wives—Zillah the dark beauty; Eva the fair one. The ringlets of Zillah were black; those of Eva were golden. The eyes of Zillah were night; those of Eva were morning. Codlingsby was fair—of the fair Saxon race of Hengist and Horsa—they called him Miss Codlingsby at school; but how much fairer was Miriam the Hebrew!
Her hair had that deep glowing tinge in it which has been the delight of all painters, and which, therefore, the vulgar sneer at. It was of burning auburn. Meandering over her fairest shoulders in twenty thousand minute ringlets, it hung to her waist and below it. A light blue velvet fillet clasped with a diamond aigrette (valued at two hundred thousand tomauns, and bought from Lieutenant Vicovich, who had received it from Dost Mahomed), with a simple bird of paradise, formed her head-gear. A sea-green cymar with short sleeves, displayed her exquisitely moulded arms to perfection, and was fastened by a girdle of emeralds over a yellow satin frock. Pink gauze trousers spangled with silver, and slippers of the same color as the band which clasped her ringlets (but so covered with pearls that the original hue of the charming little papoosh disappeared entirely) completed her costume. She had three necklaces on, each of which would have dowered a Princess—her fingers glistened with rings to their rosy tips, and priceless bracelets, bangles, and armlets wound round an arm that was whiter than the ivory grand piano on which it leaned.
As Miriam de Mendoza greeted the stranger, turning upon him the solemn welcome of her eyes, Codlingsby swooned almost in the brightness of her beauty. It was well she spoke; the sweet kind voice restored him to consciousness. Muttering a few words of incoherent recognition, he sank upon a sandalwood settee, as Goliath, the little slave, brought aromatic coffee in cups of opal, and alabaster spittoons, and pipes of the fragrant Gibelly.
"My lord's pipe is out," said Miriam with a smile, remarking the bewilderment of her guest—who in truth forgot to smoke—and taking up a thousand pound note from a bundle on the piano, she lighted it at the taper and proceeded to re-illumine the extinguished chibouk of Lord Codlingsby.
When Miriam, returning to the mother-of-pearl music-stool, at a signal from her brother, touched the silver and enamelled keys of the ivory piano, and began to sing, Lord Codlingsby felt as if he were listening at the gates of Paradise, or were hearing Jenny Lind.
"Lind is the name of the Hebrew race; so is Mendelssohn, the son of Almonds; so is Rosenthal, the Valley of the Roses: so is Lowe or Lewis or Lyons or Lion. The beautiful and the brave alike give cognizances to the ancient people: you Saxons call yourselves Brown, or Smith, or Rodgers," Rafael observed to his friend; and, drawing the instrument from his pocket, he accompanied his sister, in the most ravishing manner, on a little gold and jewelled harp, of the kind peculiar to his nation.
All the airs which the Hebrew maid selected were written by composers of her race; it was either a hymn by Rossini, a polacca by Braham, a delicious romance by Sloman, or a melody by Weber, that, thrilling on the strings of the instrument, wakened a harmony on the fibres of the heart; but she sang no other than the songs of her nation.
"Beautiful one! sing ever, sing always," Codlingsby thought. "I could sit at thy feet as under a green palm-tree, and fancy that Paradise-birds were singing in the boughs."
Rafael read his thoughts. "We have Saxon blood too in our veins," he said. "You smile! but it is even so. An ancestress of ours made a mesalliance in the reign of your King John. Her name was Rebecca, daughter of Isaac of York, and she married in Spain, whither she had fled to the Court of King Boabdil, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe; then a widower by the demise of his first lady, Rowena. The match was deemed a cruel insult amongst our people but Wilfred conformed, and was a Rabbi of some note at the synagogue of Cordova. We are descended from him lineally. It is the only blot upon the escutcheon of the Mendozas."
As they sat talking together, the music finished, and Miriam having retired (though her song and her beauty were still present to the soul of the stranger) at a signal from Mendoza, various messengers from the outer apartments came in to transact business with him.
First it was Mr. Aminadab, who kissed his foot, and brought papers to sign. "How is the house in Grosvenor Square, Aminadab; and is your son tired of his yacht yet?" Mendoza asked. "That is my twenty-fourth cashier," said Rafael to Codlingsby, when the obsequious clerk went away. "He is fond of display, and all my people may have what money they like."
Entered presently the Lord Bareacres, on the affair of his mortgage. The Lord Bareacres, strutting into the apartment with a haughty air, shrank back, nevertheless, with surprise on beholding the magnificence around him. "Little Mordecai," said Rafael to a little orange-boy, who came in at the heels of the noble, "take this gentleman out and let him have ten thousand pounds. I can't do more for you, my lord, than this—I'm busy. Good-by!" And Rafael waved his hand to the peer, and fell to smoking his narghilly.
A man with a square face, cat-like eyes, and a yellow moustache, came next. He had an hour-glass of a waist, and walked uneasily upon his high-heeled boots. "Tell your master that he shall have two millions more, but not another shilling," Rafael said. "That story about the five-and-twenty millions of ready money at Cronstadt is all bosh. They won't believe it in Europe. You understand me, Count Grogomoffski?"
"But his Imperial Majesty said four millions, and I shall get the knout unless—"
"Go and speak to Mr. Shadrach, in room Z 94, the fourth court," said Mendoza good-naturedly. "Leave me at peace, Count: don't you see it is Friday, and almost sunset?" The Calmuck envoy retired cringing, and left an odor of musk and candle-grease behind him.
An orange-man; an emissary from Lola Montes; a dealer in piping bullfinches; and a Cardinal in disguise, with a proposal for a new loan for the Pope, were heard by turns; and each, after a rapid colloquy in his own language, was dismissed by Rafael.
"The queen must come back from Aranjuez, or that king must be disposed of," Rafael exclaimed, as a yellow-faced amabassador from Spain, General the Duke of Olla Podrida, left him. "Which shall it be, my Codlingsby?" Codlingsby was about laughingly to answer—for indeed he was amazed to find all the affairs of the world represented here, and Holywell Street the centre of Europe—when three knocks of a peculiar nature were heard, and Mendoza starting up, said, "Ha! there are only four men in the world who know that signal." At once, and with a reverence quite distinct from his former nonchalant manner, he advanced towards the new-comer.
He was an old man—an old man evidently, too, of the Hebrew race—the light of his eyes was unfathomable—about his mouth there played an inscrutable smile. He had a cotton umbrella, and old trousers, and old boots, and an old wig, curling at the top like a rotten old pear.
He sat down, as if tired, in the first seat at hand, as Rafael made him the lowest reverence.
"I am tired," says he; "I have come in fifteen hours. I am ill at Neuilly," he added with a grin. "Get me some eau sucree, and tell me the news, Prince de Mendoza. These bread rows; this unpopularity of Guizot; this odious Spanish conspiracy against my darling Montpensier and daughter; this ferocity of Palmerston against Coletti, makes me quite ill. Give me your opinion, my dear duke. But ha! whom have we here?"
The august individual who had spoken, had used the Hebrew language to address Mendoza, and the Lord Codlingsby might easily have pleaded ignorance of that tongue. But he had been at Cambridge, where all the youth acquire it perfectly.
"SIRE," said he, "I will not disguise from you that I know the ancient tongue in which you speak. There are probably secrets between Mendoza and your Maj—"
"Hush!" said Rafael, leading him from the room. "Au revoir, dear Codlingsby. His Majesty is one of US," he whispered at the door; "so is the Pope of Rome; so is . . ."—a whisper concealed the rest.
"Gracious powers! is it so?" said Codlingsby, musing. He entered into Holywell Street. The sun was sinking.
"It is time," said he, "to go and fetch Armida to the Olympic."
A TALE OF THE FIGHTING ONETY-ONETH.
BY HARRY ROLLICKER.
The gabion was ours. After two hours' fighting we were in possession of the first embrasure, and made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances would admit. Jack Delamere, Tom Delancy, Jerry Blake, the Doctor, and myself, sat down under a pontoon, and our servants laid out a hasty supper on a tumbrel. Though Cambaceres had escaped me so provokingly after I cut him down, his spoils were mine; a cold fowl and a Bologna sausage were found in the Marshal's holsters; and in the haversack of a French private who lay a corpse on the glacis, we found a loaf of bread, his three days' ration. Instead of salt, we had gunpowder; and you may be sure, wherever the Doctor was, a flask of good brandy was behind him in his instrument-case. We sat down and made a soldier's supper. The Doctor pulled a few of the delicious fruit from the lemon-trees growing near (and round which the Carabineers and the 24th Leger had made a desperate rally), and punch was brewed in Jack Delamere's helmet.
"'Faith, it never had so much wit in it before," said the Doctor, as he ladled out the drink. We all roared with laughing, except the guardsman, who was as savage as a Turk at a christening.
"Buvez-en," said old Sawbones to our French prisoner; "ca vous fera du bien, mon vieux coq!" and the Colonel, whose wound had been just dressed, eagerly grasped at the proffered cup, and drained it with a health to the donors.
How strange are the chances of war! But half an hour before he and I were engaged in mortal combat, and our prisoner was all but my conqueror. Grappling with Cambaceres, whom I knocked from his horse, and was about to despatch, I felt a lunge behind, which luckily was parried by my sabretache; a herculean grasp was at the next instant at my throat—I was on the ground—my prisoner had escaped, and a gigantic warrior in the uniform of a colonel of the regiment of Artois glaring over me with pointed sword.
"Rends-toi, coquin!" said he.
"Allez an Diable!" said I: "a Fogarty never surrenders."
I thought of my poor mother and my sisters, at the old house in Killaloo—I felt the tip of his blade between my teeth—I breathed a prayer, and shut my eyes—when the tables were turned—the butt-end of Lanty Clancy's musket knocked the sword up and broke the arm that held it.
"Thonamoundiaoul nabochlish," said the French officer, with a curse in the purest Irish. It was lucky I stopped laughing time enough to bid Lanty hold his hand, for the honest fellow would else have brained my gallant adversary. We were the better friends for our combat, as what gallant hearts are not?
The breach was to be stormed at sunset, and like true soldiers we sat down to make the most of our time. The rogue of a Doctor took the liver-wing for his share—we gave the other to our guest, a prisoner; those scoundrels Jack Delamere and Tom Delaney took the legs—and, 'faith, poor I was put off with the Pope's nose and a bit of the back.
"How d'ye like his Holiness's FAYTURE?" said Jerry Blake.
"Anyhow you'll have a MERRY THOUGHT," cried the incorrigible Doctor, and all the party shrieked at the witticism.
"De mortuis nil nisi bonum," said Jack, holding up the drumstick clean.
"'Faith, there's not enough of it to make us CHICKEN-HEARTED, anyhow," said I; "come, boys, let's have a song."
"Here goes," said Tom Delaney, and sung the following lyric, of his own composition—
"Dear Jack, this white mug that with Guinness I fill, And drink to the health of sweet Nan of the hill, Was once Tommy Tosspot's, as jovial a sot, As e'er drew a spigot, or drain'd a full pot— In drinking all round 'twas his joy to surpass, And with all merry tipplers he swigg'd off his glass.
"One morning in summer, while seated so snug, In the porch of his garden, discussing his jug, Stern Death, on a sudden, to Tom did appear, And said, 'Honest Thomas, come take your last bier;' We kneaded his clay in the shape of this can, From which let us drink to the health of my Nan."
"Psha!" said the Doctor, "I've heard that song before; here's a new one for you, boys!" and Sawbones began, in a rich Corkagian voice—
"You've all heard of Larry O'Toole, Of the beautiful town of Drumgoole; He had but one eye, To ogle ye by— Oh, murther, but that was a jew'l! A fool He made of de girls, dis O'Toole.
"'Twas he was the boy didn't fail, That tuck down pataties and mail; He never would shrink From any sthrong dthrink, Was it whisky or Drogheda ale; I'm bail This Larry would swallow a pail.
"Oh, many a night at the bowl, With Larry I've sot cheek by jowl; He's gone to his rest, Where there's dthrink of the best, And so let us give his old sowl A howl, For twas he made the noggin to rowl."
I observed the French Colonel's eye glistened as he heard these well-known accents of his country but we were too well-bred to pretend to remark his emotion.
The sun was setting behind the mountains as our songs were finished, and each began to look out with some anxiety for the preconcerted signal, the rocket from Sir Hussey Vivian's quarters, which was to announce the recommencement of hostilities. It came just as the moon rose in her silver splendor, and ere the rocket-stick fell quivering to the earth at the feet of General Picton and Sir Lowry Cole, who were at their posts at the head of the storming-parties, nine hundred and ninety nine guns in position opened their fire from our batteries, which were answered by a tremendous canonnade from the fort.
"Who's going to dance?" said the Doctor: "the ball's begun. Ha! there goes poor Jack Delamere's head off! The ball chose a soft one, anyhow. Come here, Tim, till I mend your leg. Your wife has need only knit half as many stockings next year, Doolan my boy. Faix! there goes a big one had wellnigh stopped my talking: bedad! it has snuffed the feather off my cocked hat!"
In this way, with eighty-four-pounders roaring over us like hail, the undaunted little Doctor pursued his jokes and his duty. That he had a feeling heart, all who served with him knew, and none more so than Philip Fogarty, the humble writer of this tale of war.
Our embrasure was luckily bomb-proof, and the detachment of the Onety-oneth under my orders suffered comparatively little. "Be cool, boys," I said; "it will be hot enough work for you ere long." The honest fellows answered with an Irish cheer. I saw that it affected our prisoner.
"Countryman," said I, "I know you; but an Irishman was never a traitor."
"Taisez-vous!" said he, putting his finger to his lip. "C'est la fortune de la guerre: if ever you come to Paris, ask for the Marquis d' O'Mahony, and I may render you the hospitality which your tyrannous laws prevent me from exercising in the ancestral halls of my own race."
I shook him warmly by the hand as a tear bedimmed his eye. It was, then, the celebrated colonel of the Irish Brigade, created a Marquis by Napoleon on the field of Austerlitz!
"Marquis," said I, "the country which disowns you is proud of you; but—ha! here, if I mistake not, comes our signal to advance." And in fact, Captain Vandeleur, riding up through the shower of shot, asked for the commander of the detachment, and bade me hold myself in readiness to move as soon as the flank companies of the Ninety-ninth, and Sixty-sixth, and the Grenadier Brigade of the German Legion began to advance up the echelon. The devoted band soon arrived; Jack Bowser heading the Ninety-ninth (when was he away and a storming-party to the fore?), and the gallant Potztausend, with his Hanoverian veterans.
The second rocket flew up.
"Forward, Onety-oneth!" cried I, in a voice of thunder. "Killaloo boys, follow your captain!" and with a shrill hurray, that sounded above the tremendous fire from the fort, we sprung upon the steep; Bowser with the brave Ninety-ninth, and the bold Potztausend, keeping well up with us. We passed the demilune, we passed the culverin, bayoneting the artillerymen at their guns; we advanced across the two tremendous demilunes which flank the counterscarp, and prepared for the final spring upon the citadel. Soult I could see quite pale on the wall; and the scoundrel Cambaceres, who had been so nearly my prisoner that day, trembled as he cheered his men. "On, boys, on!" I hoarsely exclaimed. "Hurroo!" said the fighting Onety-oneth.
But there was a movement among the enemy. An officer, glittering with orders, and another in a gray coat and a cocked hat, came to the wall, and I recognized the Emperor Napoleon and the famous Joachim Murat.
"We are hardly pressed, methinks," Napoleon said sternly. "I must exercise my old trade as an artilleryman;" and Murat loaded, and the Emperor pointed the only hundred-and-twenty-four-pounder that had not been silenced by our fire.
"Hurray, Killaloo boys!" shouted I. The next moment a sensation of numbness and death seized me, and I lay like a corpse upon the rampart.
"Hush!" said a voice, which I recognized to be that of the Marquis d' O'Mahony. "Heaven be praised, reason has returned to you. For six weeks those are the only sane words I have heard from you."
"Faix, and 'tis thrue for you, Colonel dear," cried another voice, with which I was even more familiar; 'twas that of my honest and gallant Lanty Clancy, who was blubbering at my bedside overjoyed at his master's recovery.
"O musha, Masther Phil agrah! but this will be the great day intirely, when I send off the news, which I would, barrin' I can't write, to the lady your mother and your sisters at Castle Fogarty; and 'tis his Riv'rence Father Luke will jump for joy thin, when he reads the letther! Six weeks ravin' and roarin' as bould as a lion, and as mad as Mick Malony's pig, that mistuck Mick's wig for a cabbage, and died of atin' it!"
"And have I then lost my senses?" I exclaimed feebly.
"Sure, didn't ye call me your beautiful Donna Anna only yesterday, and catch hould of me whiskers as if they were the Signora's jet-black ringlets?" Lanty cried.
At this moment, and blushing deeply, the most beautiful young creature I ever set my eyes upon, rose from a chair at the foot of the bed, and sailed out of the room.
"Confusion, you blundering rogue," I cried; "who is that lovely lady whom you frightened away by your impertinence? Donna Anna? Where am I?"
"You are in good hands, Philip," said the Colonel; "you are at my house in the Place Vendome, at Paris, of which I am the military Governor. You and Lanty were knocked down by the wind of the cannon-ball at Burgos. Do not be ashamed: 'twas the Emperor pointed the gun;" and the Colonel took off his hat as he mentioned the name darling to France. "When our troops returned from the sally in which your gallant storming party was driven back, you were found on the glacis, and I had you brought into the City. Your reason had left you, however, when you returned to life; but, unwilling to desert the son of my old friend, Philip Fogarty, who saved my life in '98, I brought you in my carriage to Paris."
"And many's the time you tried to jump out of the windy, Masther Phil," said Clancy.
"Brought you to Paris," resumed the Colonel, smiling; "where, by the soins of my friends Broussais, Esquirol, and Baron Larrey, you have been restored to health, thank heaven!"
"And that lovely angel who quitted the apartment?" I cried.
"That lovely angel is the Lady Blanche Sarsfield, my ward, a descendant of the gallant Lucan, and who may be, when she chooses, Madame la Marechale de Cambaceres, Duchess of Illyria."
"Why did you deliver the ruffian when he was in my grasp?" I cried.
"Why did Lanty deliver you when in mine?" the Colonel replied. "C'est la fortune de la guerre, mon garcon; but calm yourself, and take this potion which Blanche has prepared for you."
I drank the tisane eagerly when I heard whose fair hands had compounded it, and its effects were speedily beneficial to me, for I sank into a cool and refreshing slumber.
From that day I began to mend rapidly, with all the elasticity of youth's happy time. Blanche—the enchanting Blanche—ministered henceforth to me, for I would take no medicine but from her lily hand. And what were the effects? 'Faith, ere a month was past, the patient was over head and ears in love with the doctor; and as for Baron Larrey, and Broussais, and Esquirol, they were sent to the right-about. In a short time I was in a situation to do justice to the gigot aux navets, the boeuf aux cornichons, and the other delicious entremets of the Marquis's board, with an appetite that astonished some of the Frenchmen who frequented it.
"Wait till he's quite well, Miss," said Lanty, who waited always behind me. "'Faith! when he's in health, I'd back him to ate a cow, barrin' the horns and teel." I sent a decanter at the rogue's head, by way of answer to his impertinence.
Although the disgusting Cambaceres did his best to have my parole withdrawn from me, and to cause me to be sent to the English depot of prisoners at Verdun, the Marquis's interest with the Emperor prevailed, and I was allowed to remain at Paris, the happiest of prisoners, at the Colonel's hotel at the Place Vendome. I here had the opportunity (an opportunity not lost, I flatter myself, on a young fellow with the accomplishments of Philip Fogarty, Esq.) of mixing with the elite of French society, and meeting with many of the great, the beautiful, and the brave. Talleyrand was a frequent guest of the Marquis's. His bon-mots used to keep the table in a roar. Ney frequently took his chop with us; Murat, when in town, constantly dropt in for a cup of tea and friendly round game. Alas! who would have thought those two gallant heads would be so soon laid low? My wife has a pair of earrings which the latter, who always wore them, presented to her—but we are advancing matters. Anybody could see, "avec un demioeil," as the Prince of Benevento remarked, how affairs went between me and Blanche; but though she loathed him for his cruelties and the odiousness of his person, the brutal Cambaceres still pursued his designs upon her.
I recollect it was on St. Patrick's Day. My lovely friend had procured, from the gardens of the Empress Josephine, at Malmaison (whom we loved a thousand times more than her Austrian successor, a sandy-haired woman, between ourselves, with an odious squint), a quantity of shamrock wherewith to garnish the hotel, and all the Irish in Paris were invited to the national festival.
I and Prince Talleyrand danced a double hornpipe with Pauline Bonaparte and Madame de Stael; Marshal Soult went down a couple of sets with Madame Recamier; and Robespierre's widow—an excellent, gentle creature, quite unlike her husband—stood up with the Austrian ambassador. Besides, the famous artists Baron Gros, David and Nicholas Poussin, and Canova, who was in town making a statue of the Emperor for Leo X., and, in a word, all the celebrities of Paris—as my gifted countrywoman, the wild Irish girl, calls them—were assembled in the Marquis's elegant receiving-rooms.
At last a great outcry was raised for La Gigue Irlandaise! La Gigue Irlandaise! a dance which had made a fureur amongst the Parisians ever since the lovely Blanche Sarsfield had danced it. She stepped forward and took me for a partner, and amidst the bravoes of the crowd, in which stood Ney, Murat, Lannes, the Prince of Wagram, and the Austrian ambassador, we showed to the beau monde of the French capital, I flatter myself, a not unfavorable specimen of the dance of our country.
As I was cutting the double-shuffle, and toe-and-heeling it in the "rail" style, Blanche danced up to me, smiling, and said, "Be on your guard; I see Cambaceres talking to Fouche, the Duke of Otranto, about us; and when Otranto turns his eyes upon a man, they bode him no good."
"Cambaceres is jealous," said I. "I have it," says she; "I'll make him dance a turn with me." So, presently, as the music was going like mad all this time, I pretended fatigue from my late wounds, and sat down. The lovely Blanche went up smiling, and brought out Cambaceres as a second partner.
The Marshal is a lusty man, who makes desperate efforts to give himself a waist, and the effect of the exercise upon him was speedily visible. He puffed and snorted like a walrus, drops trickled down his purple face, while my lovely mischief of a Blanche went on dancing at treble quick, till she fairly danced him down.
"Who'll take the flure with me?" said the charming girl, animated by the sport.
"Faix, den, 'tis I, Lanty Clancy!" cried my rascal, who had been mad with excitement at the scene; and, stepping in with a whoop and a hurroo, he began to dance with such rapidity as made all present stare.
As the couple were footing it, there was a noise as of a rapid cavalcade traversing the Place Vendome, and stopping at the Marquis's door. A crowd appeared to mount the stair; the great doors of the reception-room were flung open, and two pages announced their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress. So engaged were Lanty and Blanche, that they never heard the tumult occasioned by the august approach.
It was indeed the Emperor, who, returning from the Theatre Francais, and seeing the Marquis's windows lighted up, proposed to the Empress to drop in on the party. He made signs to the musicians to continue: and the conqueror of Marengo and Friedland watched with interest the simple evolutions of two happy Irish people. Even the Empress smiled and, seeing this, all the courtiers, including Naples and Talleyrand, were delighted.
"Is not this a great day for Ireland?" said the Marquis, with a tear trickling down his noble face. "O Ireland! O my country! But no more of that. Go up, Phil, you divvle, and offer her Majesty the choice of punch or negus."
Among the young fellows with whom I was most intimate in Paris was Eugene Beauharnais, the son of the ill-used and unhappy Josephine by her former marriage with a French gentleman of good family. Having a smack of the old blood in him, Eugene's manners were much more refined than those of the new-fangled dignitaries of the Emperor's Court, where (for my knife and fork were regularly laid at the Tuileries) I have seen my poor friend Murat repeatedly mistake a fork for a toothpick, and the gallant Massena devour pease by means of his knife, in a way more innocent than graceful. Talleyrand, Eugene, and I used often to laugh at these eccentricities of our brave friends; who certainly did not shine in the drawing-room, however brilliant they were in the field of battle. The Emperor always asked me to take wine with him, and was full of kindness and attention.
"I like Eugene," he would say, pinching my ear confidentially, as his way was—"I like Eugene to keep company with such young fellows as you; you have manners; you have principles; my rogues from the camp have none. And I like you, Philip my boy," he added, "for being so attentive to my poor wife—the Empress Josephine, I mean." All these honors made my friends at the Marquis's very proud, and my enemies at Court crever with envy. Among these, the atrocious Cambaceres was not the least active and envenomed.
The cause of the many attentions which were paid to me, and which, like a vain coxcomb, I had chosen to attribute to my own personal amiability, soon was apparent. Having formed a good opinion of my gallantry from my conduct in various actions and forlorn hopes during the war, the Emperor was most anxious to attach me to his service. The Grand Cross of St. Louis, the title of Count, the command of a crack cavalry regiment, the l4me Chevaux Marins, were the bribes that were actually offered to me; and must I say it? Blanche, the lovely, the perfidious Blanche, was one of the agents employed to tempt me to commit this act of treason.
"Object to enter a foreign service!" she said, in reply to my refusal. "It is you, Philip, who are in a foreign service. The Irish nation is in exile, and in the territories of its French allies. Irish traitors are not here; they march alone under the accursed flag of the Saxon, whom the great Napoleon would have swept from the face of the earth, but for the fatal valor of Irish mercenaries! Accept this offer, and my heart, my hand, my all are yours. Refuse it, Philip, and we part."
"To wed the abominable Cambaceres!" I cried, stung with rage. "To wear a duchess's coronet, Blanche! Ha, ha! Mushrooms, instead of strawberry-leaves, should decorate the brows of the upstart French nobility. I shall withdraw my parole. I demand to be sent to prison—to be exchanged—to die—anything rather than be a traitor, and the tool of a traitress!" Taking up my hat, I left the room in a fury; and flinging open the door tumbled over Cambaceres, who was listening at the key-hole, and must have overheard every word of our conversation.
We tumbled over each other, as Blanche was shrieking with laughter at our mutual discomfiture. Her scorn only made me more mad; and, having spurs on, I began digging them into Cambaceres' fat sides as we rolled on the carpet, until the Marshal howled with rage and anger.
"This insult must be avenged with blood!" roared the Duke of Illyria.
"I have already drawn it," says I, "with my spurs."
"Malheur et malediction!" roared the Marshal.
"Hadn't you better settle your wig?" says I, offering it to him on the tip of my cane, "and we'll arrange time and place when you have put your jasey in order." I shall never forget the look of revenge which he cast at me, as I was thus turning him into ridicule before his mistress.
"Lady Blanche," I continued bitterly, "as you look to share the Duke's coronet, hadn't you better see to his wig?" and so saying, I cocked my hat, and walked out of the Marquis's place, whistling "Garryowen."
I knew my man would not be long in following me, and waited for him in the Place Vendome, where I luckily met Eugene too, who was looking at the picture-shop in the corner. I explained to him my affair in a twinkling. He at once agreed to go with me to the ground, and commended me, rather than otherwise, for refusing the offer which had been made to me. "I knew it would be so," he said, kindly; "I told my father you wouldn't. A man with the blood of the Fogarties, Phil my boy, doesn't wheel about like those fellows of yesterday." So, when Cambaceres came out, which he did presently, with a more furious air than before, I handed him at once over to Eugene, who begged him to name a friend, and an early hour for the meeting to take place.
"Can you make it before eleven, Phil?" said Beauharnais. "The Emperor reviews the troops in the Bois de Boulogne at that hour, and we might fight there handy before the review."
"Done!" said I. "I want of all things to see the newly-arrived Saxon cavalry manoeuvre:" on which Cambaceres, giving me a look, as much as to say, "See sights! Watch cavalry manoeuvres! Make your soul, and take measure for a coffin, my boy!" walked away, naming our mutual acquaintance, Marshal Ney, to Eugene, as his second in the business.
I had purchased from Murat a very fine Irish horse, Bugaboo, out of Smithereens, by Fadladeen, which ran into the French ranks at Salamanca, with poor Jack Clonakilty, of the 13th, dead, on the top of him. Bugaboo was too much and too ugly an animal for the King of Naples, who, though a showy horseman, was a bad rider across country; and I got the horse for a song. A wickeder and uglier brute never wore pig-skin; and I never put my leg over such a timber-jumper in my life. I rode the horse down to the Bois de Boulogne on the morning that the affair with Cambaceres was to come off, and Lanty held him as I went in, "sure to win," as they say in the ring.
Cambaceres was known to be the best shot in the French army; but I, who am a pretty good hand at a snipe, thought a man was bigger, and that I could wing him if I had a mind. As soon as Ney gave the word, we both fired: I felt a whiz past my left ear, and putting up my hand there, found a large piece of my whiskers gone; whereas at the same moment, and shrieking a horrible malediction, my adversary reeled and fell.
"Mon Dieu, il est mort!" cried Ney.
"Pas de tout," said Beauharnais. "Ecoute; il jure toujours."
And such, indeed, was the fact: the supposed dead man lay on the ground cursing most frightfully. We went up to him: he was blind with the loss of blood, and my ball had carried off the bridge of his nose. He recovered; but he was always called the Prince of Ponterotto in the French army, afterwards. The surgeon in attendance having taken charge of this unfortunate warrior, we rode off to the review where Ney and Eugene were on duty at the head of their respective divisions; and where, by the way, Cambaceres, as the French say, "se faisait desirer."
It was arranged that Cambaceres' division of six battalions and nine-and-twenty squadrons should execute a ricochet movement, supported by artillery in the intervals, and converging by different epaulements on the light infantry, that formed, as usual, the centre of the line. It was by this famous manoeuvre that at Arcola, at Montenotte, at Friedland, and subsequently at Mazagran, Suwaroff, Prince Charles, and General Castanos were defeated with such victorious slaughter: but it is a movement which, I need not tell every military man, requires the greatest delicacy of execution, and which, if it fails, plunges an army into confusion.
"Where is the Duke of Illyria?" Napoleon asked. "At the head of his division, no doubt," said Murat: at which Eugene, giving me an arch look, put his hand to his nose, and caused me almost to fall off my horse with laughter. Napoleon looked sternly at me; but at this moment the troops getting in motion, the celebrated manoeuvre began, and his Majesty's attention was taken off from my impudence.
Milhaud's Dragoons, their bands playing "Vive Henri Quatre," their cuirasses gleaming in the sunshine, moved upon their own centre from the left flank in the most brilliant order, while the Carbineers of Foy, and the Grenadiers of the Guard under Drouet d'Erlon, executed a carambolade on the right, with the precision which became those veteran troops; but the Chasseurs of the young guard, marching by twos instead of threes, bore consequently upon the Bavarian Uhlans (an ill-disciplined and ill-affected body), and then, falling back in disorder, became entangled with the artillery and the left centre of the line, and in one instant thirty thousand men were in inextricable confusion.
"Clubbed, by Jabers!" roared out Lanty Clancy. "I wish we could show 'em the Fighting Onety-oneth, Captain darling."
"Silence, fellow!" I exclaimed. I never saw the face of man express passion so vividly as now did the livid countenance of Napoleon. He tore off General Milhaud's epaulettes, which he flung into Foy's face. He glared about him wildly, like a demon, and shouted hoarsely for the Duke of Illyria. "He is wounded, Sire," said General Foy, wiping a tear from his eye, which was blackened by the force of the blow; "he was wounded an hour since in a duel, Sire, by a young English prisoner, Monsieur de Fogarty."
"Wounded! a marshal of France wounded! Where is the Englishman? Bring him out, and let a file of grenadiers—"
"Sire!" interposed Eugene.
"Let him be shot!" shrieked the Emperor, shaking his spyglass at me with the fury of a fiend.
This was too much. "Here goes!" said I, and rode slap at him.
There was a shriek of terror from the whole of the French army, and I should think at least forty thousand guns were levelled at me in an instant. But as the muskets were not loaded, and the cannon had only wadding in them, these facts, I presume, saved the life of Phil Fogarty from this discharge.
Knowing my horse, I put him at the Emperor's head, and Bugaboo went at it like a shot. He was riding his famous white Arab, and turned quite pale as I came up and went over the horse and the Emperor, scarcely brushing the cockade which he wore.
"Bravo!" said Murat, bursting into enthusiasm at the leap.
"Cut him down!" said Sieyes, once an Abbe, but now a gigantic Cuirassier; and he made a pass at me with his sword. But he little knew an Irishman on an Irish horse. Bugaboo cleared Sieyes, and fetched the monster a slap with his near hind hoof which sent him reeling from his saddle,—and away I went, with an army of a hundred and seventy-three thousand eight hundred men at my heels. * * * *
BY G. P. R. JEAMES, ESQ., ETC.
It was upon one of those balmy evenings of November, which are only known in the valleys of Languedoc and among the mountains of Alsace, that two cavaliers might have been perceived by the naked eye threading one of the rocky and romantic gorges that skirt the mountain-land between the Marne and the Garonne. The rosy tints of the declining luminary were gilding the peaks and crags which lined the path, through which the horsemen wound slowly; and as these eternal battlements with which Nature had hemmed in the ravine which our travellers trod, blushed with the last tints of the fading sunlight, the valley below was gray and darkling, and the hard and devious course was sombre in twilight. A few goats, hardly visible among the peaks, were cropping the scanty herbage here and there. The pipes of shepherds, calling in their flocks as they trooped homewards to their mountain villages, sent up plaintive echoes which moaned through those rocky and lonely steeps; the stars began to glimmer in the purple heavens spread serenely overhead and the faint crescent of the moon, which had peered for some time scarce visible in the azure, gleamed out more brilliantly at every moment, until it blazed as if in triumph at the sun's retreat. 'Tis a fair land that of France, a gentle, a green, and a beautiful; the home of arts and arms, of chivalry and romance, and (however sadly stained by the excesses of modern times) 'twas the unbought grace of nations once, and the seat of ancient renown and disciplined valor.
And of all that fair land of France, whose beauty is so bright and bravery is so famous, there is no spot greener or fairer than that one over which our travellers wended, and which stretches between the good towns of Vendemiaire and Nivose. 'Tis common now to a hundred thousand voyagers: the English tourist, with his chariot and his Harvey's Sauce, and his imperials; the bustling commis-voyageur on the roof of the rumbling diligence; the rapid malle-poste thundering over the chaussee at twelve miles an hour—pass the ground hourly and daily now: 'twas lonely and unfrequented at the end of that seventeenth century with which our story commences.
Along the darkening mountain-paths the two gentlemen (for such their outward bearing proclaimed them) caracoled together. The one, seemingly the younger of the twain, wore a flaunting feather in his barret-cap, and managed a prancing Andalusian palfrey that bounded and curveted gayly. A surcoat of peach-colored samite and a purfled doublet of vair bespoke him noble, as did his brilliant eye, his exquisitely chiselled nose, and his curling chestnut ringlets.
Youth was on his brow; his eyes were dark and dewy, like spring-violets; and spring-roses bloomed upon his cheek—roses, alas! that bloom and die with life's spring! Now bounding over a rock, now playfully whisking off with his riding rod a floweret in his path, Philibert de Coquelicot rode by his darker companion.
His comrade was mounted upon a destriere of the true Norman breed, that had first champed grass on the green pastures of Aquitaine. Thence through Berry, Picardy, and the Limousin, halting at many a city and commune, holding joust and tourney in many a castle and manor of Navarre, Poitou, and St. Germain l'Auxerrois, the warrior and his charger reached the lonely spot where now we find them.
The warrior who bestrode the noble beast was in sooth worthy of the steed which bore him. Both were caparisoned in the fullest trappings of feudal war. The arblast, the mangonel, the demiculverin, and the cuissart of the period, glittered upon the neck and chest of the war-steed; while the rider, with chamfron and catapult, with ban and arriere-ban, morion and tumbrel, battle-axe and rifflard, and the other appurtenances of ancient chivalry, rode stately on his steel-clad charger, himself a tower of steel. This mighty horseman was carried by his steed as lightly as the young springald by his Andalusian hackney.
"'Twas well done of thee, Philibert," said he of the proof-armor, "to ride forth so far to welcome thy cousin and companion in arms."
"Companion in battledore and shuttlecock, Romane de Clos-Vougeot!" replied the younger Cavalier. "When I was yet a page, thou wert a belted knight; and thou wert away to the Crusades ere ever my beard grew."
"I stood by Richard of England at the gates of Ascalon, and drew the spear from sainted King Louis in the tents of Damietta," the individual addressed as Romane replied. "Well-a-day! since thy beard grew, boy, (and marry 'tis yet a thin one,) I have broken a lance with Solyman at Rhodes, and smoked a chibouque with Saladin at Acre. But enough of this. Tell me of home—of our native valley—of my hearth, and my lady-mother, and my good chaplain—tell me of HER, Philibert," said the knight, executing a demivolt, in order to hide his emotion.
Philibert seemed uneasy, and to strive as though he would parry the question. "The castle stands on the rock," he said, "and the swallows still build in the battlements. The good chaplain still chants his vespers at morn, and snuffles his matins at even-song. The lady-mother still distributeth tracts, and knitteth Berlin linsey-woolsey. The tenants pay no better, and the lawyers dun as sorely, kinsman mine," he added with an arch look.
"But Fatima, Fatima, how fares she?" Romane continued. "Since Lammas was a twelvemonth, I hear nought of her; my letters are unanswered. The postman hath traversed our camp every day, and never brought me a billet. How is Fatima, Philibert de Coquelicot?"
"She is—well," Philibert replied; "her sister Anne is the fairest of the twain, though."
"Her sister Anne was a baby when I embarked for Egypt. A plague on sister Anne! Speak of Fatima, Philibert—my blue-eyed Fatima!"
"I say she is—well," answered his comrade gloomily.
"Is she dead? Is she ill? Hath she the measles? Nay, hath she had the small-pox, and lost her beauty? Speak; speak, boy!" cried the knight, wrought to agony.
"Her cheek is as red as her mother's, though the old Countess paints hers every day. Her foot is as light as a sparrow's, and her voice as sweet as a minstrel's dulcimer; but give me nathless the Lady Anne," cried Philibert; "give me the peerless Lady Anne! As soon as ever I have won spurs, I will ride all Christendom through, and proclaim her the Queen of Beauty. Ho, Lady Anne! Lady Anne!" and so saying—but evidently wishing to disguise some emotion, or conceal some tale his friend could ill brook to hear—the reckless damoiseau galloped wildly forward.
But swift as was his courser's pace, that of his companion's enormous charger was swifter. "Boy," said the elder, "thou hast ill tidings. I know it by thy glance. Speak: shall he who hath bearded grim Death in a thousand fields shame to face truth from a friend? Speak, in the name of heaven and good Saint Botibol. Romane de Clos-Vougeot will bear your tidings like a man!"