THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS
ARTHUR MEE Editor and Founder of the Book of Knowledge
J. A. HAMMERTON Editor of Harmsworth's Universal Encyclopaedia
VOL. III FICTION
Table of Contents
DAUDET, ALPHONSE Tartarin of Tarascon
DAY, THOMAS Sandford and Merton
DEFOE, DANIEL Robinson Crusoe Captain Singleton
DICKENS, CHARLES Barnaby Rudge Bleak House David Copperfield Dombey and Son Great Expectations Hard Times Little Dorrit Martin Chuzzlewit Nicholas Nickleby Oliver Twist Old Curiosity Shop Our Mutual Friend Pickwick Papers Tale of Two Cities
DISRAELI, BENJAMIN (Earl of Beaconsfield) Coningsby Sybil, or The Two Nations Tancred, or The New Crusade
DUMAS, ALEXANDRE Marguerite de Valois Black Tulip Corsican Brothers Count of Monte Cristo The Three Musketeers Twenty Years After
A Complete Index of THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS will be found at the end of Volume XX.
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Tartarin of Tarascon
Alphonse Daudet, the celebrated French novelist, was born at Nimes on May 13, 1840, and as a youth of seventeen went to Paris, where he began as a poet at eighteen, and at twenty-two made his first efforts in the drama. He soon found his feet as a contributor to the leading journals of the day and a successful writer for the stage. He was thirty-two when he wrote "Tartarin of Tarascon," than which no better comic tale has been produced in modern times. Tarascon is a real town, not far from the birthplace of Daudet, and the people of the district have always had a reputation for "drawing the long bow." It was to satirise this amiable weakness of his southern compatriots that the novelist created the character of Tartarin, but while he makes us laugh at the absurd misadventures of the lion-hunter, it will be noticed how ingeniously he prevents our growing out of temper with him, how he contrives to keep a warm corner in our hearts for the bragging, simple-minded, good-natured fellow. That is to say, it is a work of essential humour, and the lively style in which the story is told attracts us to it time and again with undiminished pleasure. In two subsequent books, "Tartarin in the Alps," and "Port Tarascon," Daudet recounted further adventures of his delightful hero. His "Sapho" and "Kings in Exile" have also been widely read. Daudet died on December 17, 1897.
I.—The Mighty Hunter at Home
I remember my first visit to Tartarin of Tarascon as clearly as if it had been yesterday, though it is now more than a dozen years ago. When you had passed into his back garden, you would never have fancied yourself in France. Every tree and plant had been brought from foreign climes; he was such a fellow for collecting the curiosities of Nature, this wonderful Tartarin. His garden boasted, for instance, an example of the baobab, that giant of the vegetable world, but Tartarin's specimen was only big enough to occupy a mignonette pot. He was mightily proud of it, all the same.
The great sight of his place, however, was the hero's private den at the bottom of the garden. Picture to yourself a large hall gleaming from top to bottom with firearms and weapons of all sorts: carbines, rifles, blunderbusses, bowie-knives, revolvers, daggers, flint-arrows—in a word, examples of the deadly weapons of all races used by man in all parts of the world. Everything was neatly arranged, and labelled as if it were in a public museum. "Poisoned Arrows. Please do not touch!" was the warning on one of the cards. "Weapons loaded. Have a care!" greeted you from another. My word, it required some pluck to move about in the den of the great Tartarin.
There were books of travel and adventure, books about mighty hunting on the table in the centre of the room; and seated at the table was a short and rather fat, red-haired fellow of about forty-five, with a closely- trimmed beard and a pair of bright eyes. He was in his shirtsleeves, reading a book held in one hand while he gesticulated wildly with a large pipe in the other—Tartarin! He was evidently imagining himself the daring hero of the story.
Now you must know that the people of Tarascon were tremendously keen on hunting, and Tartarin was the chief of the hunters. You may think this funny when you know there was not a living thing to shoot at within miles of Tarascon; scarcely a sparrow to attract local sportsmen. Ah, but you don't know how ingenious they are down there.
Every Sunday morning off the huntsmen sallied with their guns and ammunition, the hounds yelping at their heels. Each man as he left in the morning took with him a brand new cap, and when they got well into the country and were ready for sport, they took their caps off, threw then high in the air, and shot at them as they fell. In the evening you would see them returning with their riddled caps stuck on the points of their guns, and of all these brave men Tartarin was the most admired, as he always swung into town with the most hopeless rag of a cap at the end of a day's sport. There's no mistake, he was a wonder!
But for all his adventurous spirit, he had a certain amount of caution. There were really two men inside the skin of Tartarin. The one Tartarin said to him, "Cover yourself with glory." The other said to him, "Cover yourself with flannel." The one, imagining himself fighting Red Indians, would call for "An axe! An axe! Somebody give me an axe!" The other, knowing that he was cosy by his fireside, would ring the bell and say, "Jane, my coffee."
One evening at Costecalde's, the gunsmith's, when Tartarin was explaining some mechanism of a rifle, the door was opened and an excited voice announced, "A lion! A lion!" The news seemed incredible, but you can imagine the terror that seized the little group at the gunsmith's as they asked for more news. It appeared that the lion was to be seen in a travelling menagerie newly arrived from Beaucaire.
A lion at last, and here in Tarascon! Suddenly, when the full truth had dawned upon Tartarin, he shouldered his gun, and, turning to Major Bravida, "Let us go to see him!" he thundered. Following him went the cap-hunters. Arrived at the menagerie, where many Tarasconians were already wandering from cage to cage, Tartarin entered with his gun over his shoulder to make inquiries about the king of beasts. His entrance was rather a wet blanket on the other visitors, who, seeing their hero thus armed, thought there might be danger, and were about to flee. But the proud bearing of the great man reassured them, and Tartarin continued his round of the booth until he faced the lion from the Atlas Mountains.
Here he stood carefully studying the creature, who sniffed and growled in surly temper, and then, rising, shook his mane and gave vent to a terrible, roar, directed full at Tartarin.
Tartarin alone stood his ground, stern and immovable, in front of the cage, and the valiant cap-hunters, somewhat reassured by his bravery, again drew near and heard him murmur, as he gazed on the lion, "Ah, yes, there's a hunt for you!"
Not another word did Tartarin utter that day. Yet next day nothing was spoken about in the town but his intention to be off to Algeria to hunt the lions of the Atlas Mountains. When asked if this were true his pride would not let him deny it, and he pretended that it might be true. So the notion grew, until that night at his club Tartarin announced, amid tremendous cheering, that he was sick of cap-hunting, and meant very soon to set forth in pursuit of the lions of the Atlas.
Now began a great struggle between the two Tartarins. While the one was strongly in favour of the adventure, the other was strongly opposed to leaving his snug little Baobab Villa and the safety of Tarascon. But he had let himself in for this, and felt he would have to see it through. So he began reading up the books of African travel, and found from these how some of the explorers had trained themselves for the work by enduring hunger, thirst, and other privations before they set out. Tartarin began cutting down his food, taking very watery soup. Early in the morning, too, he walked round the town seven or eight times, and at nights he would stay in the garden from ten till eleven o'clock, alone with his gun, to inure himself to night chills; while, so long as the menagerie remained in Tarascon, a strange figure might have been seen in the dark, prowling around the tent, listening to the growling of the lion. This was Tartarin, accustoming himself to be calm when the king of beasts was raging.
The feeling began to grow, however, that the hero was shirking. He showed no haste to be off. At length, one night Major Bravida went to Baobab Villa and said very solemnly, "Tartarin, you must go!"
It was a terrible moment for Tartarin, but he realised the solemnity of the words, and, looking around his cosy little den with a moist eye, he replied at length in a choking voice, "Bravida, I shall go!" Having made this irrevocable decision, he now pushed ahead his final preparations with some show of haste. From Bompard's he had two large trunks, one inscribed with "Tartarin of Tarascon. Case of Arms," and he sent to Marseilles all manner of provisions of travel, including a patent camp-tent of the latest style.
II.—Tartarin Sets off to Lion-Land
Then the great day of his departure arrived. All the town was agog. The neighbourhood of Baobab Villa was crammed with spectators. About ten o'clock the bold hero issued forth.
"He's a Turk! He's wearing spectacles!" This was the astonished cry of the beholders, and, sure enough, Tartarin had thought it his duty to don Algerian costume because he was going to Algeria. He also carried two heavy rifles, one on each shoulder, a huge hunting-knife at his waist and a revolver in a leather case. A pair of large blue spectacles were worn by him, for the sun in Algeria is terribly strong, you know.
At the station the doors of the waiting-room had to be closed to keep the crowd out, while the great man took leave of his friends, making promises to each, and jotting down notes on his tablets of the various people to whom he would send lion-skins.
Oh, that I had the brush of an artist, that I might paint you some pictures of Tartarin during his three days aboard the Zouave on the voyage from Marseilles! But I have no facility with the brush, and mere words cannot convey how he passed from the proudly heroic to the hopelessly miserable in the course of the journey. Worst of all, while he was groaning in his stuffy bunk, he knew that a very merry party of passengers were enjoying themselves in the saloon. He was still in his bunk when the ship came to her moorings at Algiers, and he got up with a sudden jerk, under the impression that the Zouave was sinking. Seizing his many weapons, he rushed on deck, to find it was not foundering, but only arriving.
Soon after Tartarin had set foot on shore, following a great negro porter, he was almost stupefied by the babel of tongues; but, fortunately, a policeman took him in hand and had him directed, together with his enormous collection of luggage, to the European hotel.
On arriving at his hotel, he was so fatigued that his marvellous collection of weapons had to be taken from him, and he had to be carried to bed, where he snored very soundly until it was striking three o'clock. He had slept all the evening, through the night and morning, and well into the next afternoon!
He awakened refreshed, and the first thought in his mind was, "I'm in lion-land at last!" But the thought sent a cold shiver through him, and he dived under the bedclothes. A moment later he determined to be up. Exclaiming, "Now for the lions!" he jumped on the floor and began his preparations.
His plan was to get out at once into the country, take ambush for the night, shoot the first lion that came along, and then back to the hotel for breakfast. So off he went, carrying not only his usual arsenal, but the marvellous patent tent strapped to his back. He attracted no little attention as he trudged along, and catching sight of a very fine camel, his heart beat fast, for he thought the lions could not be far off now.
It was quite dark by the time he had got only a little way beyond the outskirts of the town, scrambling over ditches and bramble-hedges. After much hard work of this kind, the mighty hunter suddenly stopped, whispering to himself, "I seem to smell a lion hereabouts." He sniffed keenly in all directions. To his excited imagination, it seemed a likely place for a lion; so, dropping on one knee, and laying one of his guns in front of him, he waited.
He waited very patiently. One hour, two hours; but nothing stirred. Then he suddenly remembered that great lion-hunters take a little young goat with them to attract the lion by its bleating. Having forgotten to supply himself with one, Tartarin conceived the happy idea of bleating like a kid. He started softly, calling, "Meh, meh!" He was really afraid that a lion might hear him, but as no lion seemed to be paying attention, he became bolder in his "mehs," until the noise he made was more like the bellowing of a bull.
But hush! What was that? A huge black object had for the moment loomed up against the dark blue sky. It stooped, sniffing the ground; then seemed to move away again, only to return suddenly. It must be the lion at last; so, taking a steady aim, bang went the gun of Tartarin, and a terrible howling came in response. Clearly his shot had told; the wounded lion had made off. He would now wait for the female to appear, as he had read in books.
But two or more hours passed, and she did not come; and the ground was damp, and the night air cold, so the hunter thought he would camp for the night. After much struggling, he could not get his patent tent to open. Finally, he threw it on the ground in a rage, and lay on the top of it. Thus he slept until the bugles in the barracks near by wakened him in the morning. For behold, instead of finding himself out on the Sahara, he was in the kitchen garden of some suburban Algerian!
"These people are mad," he growled to himself, "to plant their artichokes where lions are roaming about. Surely I have been dreaming. Lions do come here; there's proof positive."
From artichoke to artichoke, from field to field, he followed the thin trail of blood, and came at length to a poor little donkey he had wounded!
Tartarin's first feeling was one of vexation. There is such a difference between a lion and an ass, and the poor little creature looked so innocent. The great hunter knelt down and tried to stanch the donkey's wounds, and it seemed grateful to him, for it feebly flapped its long ears two or three times before it lay still for ever.
Suddenly a voice was heard calling, "Noiraud! Noiraud!" It was "the female." She came in the form of an old French woman with a large red umbrella, and it would have been better for Tartarin to have faced a female lion.
When the unhappy man tried to explain how he had mistaken her little donkey for a lion, she thought he was making fun of her, and belaboured him with her umbrella. When her husband came on the scene the matter was soon adjusted by Tartarin agreeing to pay eight pounds for the damage he had done, the price of the donkey being really something like eight shillings. The donkey owner was an inn-keeper, and the sight of Tartarin's money made him quite friendly. He invited the lion-hunter to have some food at the inn with him before he left. And as they walked thither he was amazed to be told by the inn-keeper that he had never seen a lion there in twenty years!
Clearly, the lions were to be looked for further south. "I'll make tracks for the south, too," said Tartarin to himself. But he first of all returned to his hotel in an omnibus. Think of it! But before he was to go south on the high adventure, he loafed about the city of Algiers for some time, going to the theatres and other places of amusement, where he met Prince Gregory of Montenegro, with whom he made friends.
One day the captain of the Zouave came across him in the town, and showed him a note about himself in a Tarascon newspaper. This spoke of the uncertainty that prevailed as to the fate of the great hunter, and wound up with these words:
"Some Negro traders state, however, that they met in the open desert a European whose description answers to that of Tartarin, and who was making tracks for Timbuctoo. May Heaven guard for us our hero!"
Tartarin went red and white by turns as he read this, and realised that he was in for it. He very much wished to return to his beloved Tarascon, but to go there without having shot some lions—one at least—was impossible, and so it was Southward ho!
III.—Tartarin's Adventures in the Desert
The lion-hunter was keenly disappointed, after a very long journey in the stage-coach, to be told that there was not a lion left in all Algeria, though a few panthers might still be found worth shooting.
He got out at the town of Milianah, and let the coach go on, as he thought he might as well take things easily if, after all, there were no lions to be shot. To his amazement, however, he came across a real live lion at the door of a cafe.
"What made them say there were no more lions?" he cried, astounded at the sight. The lion lifted in its mouth a wooden bowl from the pavement, and a passing Arab threw a copper in the bowl, at which the lion wagged its tail. Suddenly the truth dawned on Tartarin. He was a poor, blind, tame lion, which a couple of negroes were taking through the streets, just like a performing dog. His blood was up at the very idea. Shouting, "You scoundrels, to humiliate these noble beasts so!" he rushed and took the degrading bowl from the royal jaws of the lion. This led to a quarrel with the negroes, at the height of which Prince Gregory of Montenegro came upon the scene.
The prince told him a most untrue story about a convent in the north of Africa where lions were kept, to be sent out with priests to beg for money. He also assured him that there were lots of lions in Algeria, and that he would join him in his hunt.
Thus it was in the company of Prince Gregory, and with a following of half a dozen negro porters, that Tartarin set off early next morning for the Shereef Plain; but they very soon had trouble, both with the porters and with the provisions Tartarin had brought for his great journey. The prince suggested dismissing the negroes and buying a couple of donkeys, but Tartarin could not bear the thought of donkeys, for a reason with which we are acquainted. He readily agreed, however, to the purchase of a camel, and when he was safely helped up on its hump, he sorely wished the people of Tarascon could see him. But his pride speedily had a fall, for he found the movement of the camel worse than that of the boat in crossing the Mediterranean. He was afraid he might disgrace France. Indeed, if truth must out, France was disgraced! So, for the remainder of their expedition, which lasted nearly a month, Tartarin preferred to walk on foot and lead the camel.
One night in the desert, Tartarin was sure he heard sounds just like those he had studied at the back of the travelling menagerie at Tarascon. He was positive they were in the neighbourhood of a lion at last. He prepared to go forward and stalk the beast. The prince offered to accompany him, but Tartarin resolutely refused. He would meet the king of beasts alone! Entrusting his pocket-book, full of precious documents and bank-notes, to the prince, in case he might lose it in a tussle with the lion, he moved forward. His teeth were chattering in his head when he lay down, trembling, to await the lion.
It must have been two hours before he was sure that the beast was moving quite near him in the dry bed of a river. Firing two shots in the direction whence the sound came, he got up and bolted back to where he had left the camel and the prince—but there was only the camel there now! The prince had waited a whole month for such a chance!
In the morning he realised that he had been robbed by a thief who pretended to be a prince. And here he was in the heart of savage Africa with a little pocket money only, much useless luggage, a camel, and not a single lion-skin for all his trouble.
Sitting on one of the desert-tombs erected over pious Mohammedans, the great man fell to weeping bitterly. But, even as he wept the bushes were pushed aside a little in front of him, and a huge lion presented itself. To his honour, be it said, Tartarin never moved a muscle, but, breathing a fervent "At last!" he leapt to his feet, and, levelling his rifle, planted two explosive bullets in the lion's head. All was over in a moment, for he had nearly blown the king of beasts to pieces! But in another moment he saw two tall, enraged negroes bearing down upon him. He had seen them before at Milianah, and this was their poor blind lion! Fortunately for Tartarin, he was not so deeply in the desert as he had thought, but merely outside the town of Orleansville, and a policeman now came up, attracted by the firing, and took full particulars.
The upshot of it was that he had to suffer much delay in Orleansville, and was eventually fined one hundred pounds. How to pay this was a problem which he solved by selling all his extensive outfit, bit by bit. When his debts were paid, he had nothing but the lion's skin and the camel. The former he dispatched to Major Bravida at Tarascon. Nobody would buy the camel, and its master had to face all the journey back to Algiers in short stages on foot.
IV.—The Home-Coming of the Hero
The camel showed a curious affection for him, and followed him as faithfully as a dog. When, at the end of eight days' weary tramping, he came at last to Algiers, he did all he could to lose the animal, and hoped he had succeeded. He met the captain of the Zouave, who told him that all Algiers had been laughing at the story of how he had killed the blind lion, and he offered Tartarin a free passage home.
The Zouave was getting up steam next day as the dejected Tartarin had just stepped into the captain's long-boat, when, lo! his faithful camel came tearing down the quay and gazed affectionately at its friend. Tartarin pretended not to notice it; but the animal seemed to implore him with his eyes to be taken away. "You are the last Turk," it seemed to say, "I am the last camel. Let us never part again, O my Tartarin!"
But the lion-hunter pretended to know nothing of this ship of the desert.
As the boat pulled off to the Zouave, the camel jumped into the water and swam after it, and was taken aboard. At last Tartarin had the joy of hearing the Zouave cast anchor at Marseilles, and, having no luggage to trouble him, he rushed off the boat at once and hastened through the town to the railway station, hoping to get ahead of the camel.
He booked third class, and quickly hid himself in a carriage. Off went the train. But it had not gone far when everybody was looking out of the windows and laughing. Behind the train ran the camel—holding his own, too!
What a humiliating home-coming! All his weapons of the chase left on Moorish soil, not a lion with him, nothing but a silly camel!
"Tarascon! Tarascon!" shout the porters as the train slows up at the station, and the hero gets out. He had hoped to slink home unobserved; but, to his amazement, he is received with shouts of "Long live Tartarin!" "Three cheers for the lion-slayer!" The people are waving their caps in the air; it is no joke, they are serious. There is Major Bravida, and there the more noteworthy cap-hunters, who cluster round their chief and carry him in triumph down the stairs.
Now, all this was the result of sending home the skin of the blind lion. But the climax was reached when, following the crowd down the stairs of the station, limping from his long run, came the camel. Even this Tartarin turned to good account. He reassured his fellow-citizens, patting the camel's hump.
"This is my camel; a noble beast! It has seen me kill all my lions."
And so, linking his arm with the worthy major, he calmly wended his way to Baobab Villa, amid the ringing cheers of the populace. On the road he began a recital of his hunts.
"Picture to yourself," he said, "a certain evening in the open Sahara——"
* * * * *
Sandford and Merton
Thomas Day was born in London on June 22, 1748, and educated at the Charterhouse and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Entering the Middle Temple in 1765, he was called to the Bar ten years later, but never practised. A contemporary and disciple of Rousseau, he convinced himself that human suffering was, in the main, the result of the artificial arrangements of society, and inheriting a fortune at an early age he spent large sums in philanthropy. A poem written by him in 1773, entitled "The Dying Negro," has been described as supplying the keynote of the anti-slavery movement. His "History of Sandford and Merton," published in three volumes between the years 1783 and 1789, provided a channel through which many generations of English people have imbibed a kind of refined Rousseauism. It retains its interest for the philosophic mind, despite the burlesque of Punch and its waning popularity as a book for children. Thomas Day died through a fall from his horse on September 28, 1789.
I.—Mr. Barlow and his Pupils
In the western part of England lived a gentleman of a large fortune, whose name was Merton. He had a great estate in Jamaica, but had determined to stay some years in England for the education of his only son. When Tommy Merton came from Jamaica he was six years old. Naturally very good-natured, he had been spoiled by indulgence. His mother was so fond of him that she gave him everything he cried for, and would not let him learn to read because he complained that it made his head ache. The consequence was that, though Master Merton had everything he wanted, he was fretful and unhappy, made himself disagreeable to everybody, and often met with very dangerous accidents. He was also so delicately brought up that he was perpetually ill.
Very near to Mr. Merton's seat lived a plain, honest farmer named Sandford, whose only son, Harry, was not much older than Master Merton, but who, as he had always been accustomed to run about in the fields, to follow the labourers when they were ploughing, and to drive the sheep to their pasture, was active, strong, hardy, and fresh-coloured. Harry had an honest, good-natured countenance, was never out of humour, and took the greatest pleasure in obliging others, in helping those less fortunate than himself, and in being kind to every living thing. Harry was a great favourite, particularly with Mr. Barlow, the clergyman of the parish, who taught him to read and write, and had him almost always with him.
One summer morning, while Master Merton and a maid were walking in the fields, a large snake suddenly started up and curled itself round Tommy's leg. The maid ran away, shrieking for help, whilst the child, in his terror, dared not move. Harry, who happened to be near, ran up, and seizing the snake by the neck, tore it from Tommy's leg, and threw it to a great distance. Mrs. Merton wished to adopt the boy who had so bravely saved her son, and Harry's intelligence so appealed to Mr. Merton that he thought it would be an excellent thing if Tommy could also benefit by Mr. Barlow's instruction. With this view he decided to propose to the farmer to pay for the board and education of Harry that he might be a constant companion to Tommy. Mr. Barlow, on being consulted, agreed to take Tommy for some months under his care; but refused any monetary recompense.
The day after Tommy went to Mr. Barlow's the clergyman took his two pupils into the garden, and, taking a spade in his own hand, and giving Harry a hoe, they both began to work. "Everybody that eats," he said, "ought to assist in procuring food. This is my bed, and that is Harry's. If, Tommy, you choose to join us, I will mark you out a piece of ground, all the produce of which shall be your own."
"No, indeed," said Tommy; "I am a gentleman, and don't choose to slave like a ploughboy."
"Just as you please, Mr. Gentleman," said Mr. Barlow. And Tommy, not being asked to share the plate of ripe cherries with which Mr. Barlow and Harry refreshed themselves after their labour, wandered disconsolately about the garden, surprised and vexed to find himself in a place where nobody felt any concern whether he was pleased or not. Meanwhile, Harry, after a few words of advice from Mr. Barlow, read aloud the story of "The Ants and the Flies," in which it is related how the flies perished for lack of laying up provisions for the winter, whereas the industrious ants, by working during the summer, provided for their maintenance when the bad weather came.
Mr. Barlow and Harry then rambled into the fields, where Mr. Barlow pointed out the several kinds of plants to be seen, and told his little companion the name and nature of each. When they returned to dinner Tommy, who had been skulking about all day, came in, and being very hungry, was going to sit down to the table, when Mr. Barlow said, "No, sir; though you are too much of a gentleman to work, we, who are not so proud, do not choose to work for the idle!"
Upon this Tommy retired into a corner, crying as if his heart would break; when Harry, who could not bear to see his friend so unhappy, looked up, half-crying, into Mr. Barlow's face, and said, "Pray, sir, may I do as I please with my dinner?"
"Yes, to be sure, my boy," was the reply.
"Why, then," said Harry, "I will give it to poor Tommy, who wants it more than I do."
Tommy took it and thanked Harry; but without turning his eyes from the ground.
"I see," said Mr. Barlow, "that though certain gentlemen are too proud to be of any use to themselves, they are not above taking the bread that other people have been working hard for."
At this Tommy cried more bitterly than before.
The next day, when they went into the garden, Tommy begged that he might have a hoe, too, and, having been shown how to use it, soon worked with the greatest pleasure, which was much increased when he was asked to share the fruit provided after the work was done. It seemed to him the most delicious fruit that he had ever tasted.
Harry read as before, the story this time being about the gentleman and the basket-maker. It described how a rich man, jealous of the happiness of a poor basket-maker, destroyed the latter's means of livelihood, and was sent by a magistrate with his humble victim to an island, where the two were made to serve the natives. On this island the rich man, because he possessed neither talents to please nor strength to labour, was condemned to be the basket-maker's servant. When they were recalled, the rich man, having acquired wisdom by his misfortunes, not only treated the basket-maker as a friend during the rest of his life, but employed his riches in relieving the poor.
II.—Gentleman Tommy Learns to Read
From this time forward Mr. Barlow and his two pupils used to work in their garden every morning; and when they were fatigued they retired to the summer-house, where Harry, who improved every day in reading, used to entertain them with some pleasant story. Then Harry went home for a week, and the morning after, when Tommy expected that Mr. Barlow would read to him as usual, he found to his great disappointment, that gentleman was busy and could not. The same thing happening the next day and the day after, Tommy said to himself, "Now, if I could but read like Harry, I should not need to ask anybody to do it for me." So when Harry returned, Tommy took an early opportunity of asking him how he came to be able to read.
"Why," said Harry, "Mr. Barlow taught me my letters; and then, by putting syllables together, I learnt to read."
"And could you not show me my letters?" asked Tommy.
"Very willingly," was Harry's reply. And the lessons proceeded so well that Tommy, who learned the whole alphabet at the very first lesson, at the end of two months was able to read aloud to Mr. Barlow "The History of the Two Dogs," which shows how vain it is to expect courage in those who lead a life of indolence and repose, and that constant exercise and proper discipline are frequently able to change contemptible characters into good ones.
Later, Harry read the story of Androcles and the Lion, and asked how it was that one person should be the servant of another and bear so much ill-treatment.
"As to that," said Tommy, "some folks are born gentlemen, and then they must command others; and some are born servants, and they must do as they are bid." And he recalled how the black men and women in Jamaica had to wait upon him, and how he used to beat them when he was angry. But when Mr. Barlow asked him how these people came to be slaves, he could only say that his father had bought them, and that he was born a gentleman.
"Then," said Mr. Barlow, "if you were no longer to have a fine house, nor fine clothes, nor a great deal of money, somebody that had all these things might make you a slave, and use you ill, and do whatever he liked with you."
Seeing that he could not but admit this, Tommy became convinced that no one should make a slave, of another, and decided that for the future he would never use their black William ill.
Some days after this Tommy became interested in the growing of corn, and Harry promising to get some seed from his father, Tommy got up early and, having dug very perseveringly in a corner of his garden to prepare the ground for the seed, asked Mr. Barlow if this was not very good of him.
"That," said Mr. Barlow, "depends upon the use you intend to make of the corn when you have raised it. Where," he asked, "will be the great goodness in your sowing corn for your own eating? That is no more than all the people round here continually do. And if they did not do it, they would be obliged to fast."
"But then," said Tommy, "they are not gentlemen, as I am."
"What," answered Mr. Barlow, "must not gentlemen eat as well as others; and therefore, is it not for their interest to know how to procure food as well as other people?"
"Yes, sir," answered Tommy; "but they can have other people to raise it for them."
"How does that happen?"
"Why they pay other people to work for them, or buy bread when it is made."
"Then they pay for it with money?"
"Then they must have money before they can buy corn?"
"But have all gentlemen money?"
Tommy hesitated some time, and at last said, "I believe not always, sir."
"Why, then," said Mr. Barlow, "if they have not money, they will find it difficult to procure corn, unless they raise it for themselves." And he proceeded to recount the History of the Two Brothers, Pizarro and Alonzo, the former of whom, setting out on a gold-hunting expedition, prevailed upon the latter to accompany him, and became dependent upon Alonzo, who, instead of taking gold-seeking implements, provided himself with the necessaries for stocking a farm.
III.—Town Life and Country Life
This story was followed by others, describing life in different and distant parts of the world; and in addition to the knowledge they acquired in this way, Tommy and Harry, in their intercourse with their neighbours and in the cultivation of their gardens, learned a great deal. Tommy in particular, growing much kinder towards the poor and towards dumb animals, as well as growing in physical well-being.
Mr. Barlow's young pupils were gradually taught many interesting and useful facts about natural history. They learned to cultivate their powers of observation also by studying the heavens. From a study of the stars their tutor drew them on to an acquaintance with the compass, the telescope, the magic lantern, the magnet, and the wonders of arithmetic.
The stories of foreign lands were interspersed with others illustrating the habits of society; one for example, told how a certain rich man was cured of the gout, showing how, while most of the diseases of the poor originate in the want of food and necessaries, the rich are generally the victims of their own sloth and intemperance.
"Dear me," said Tommy on one occasion, "what a number of accidents people are subject to in this world."
"It is very true," said Mr. Barlow; "but as that is the case, it is necessary to improve ourselves in every manner, that we may be able to struggle against them."
TOMMY: Indeed, sir, I begin to believe it is; for when I was younger than I am now, I remember I was always fretful and hurting myself, though I had two or three people constantly to take care of me. At present I seem quite another thing, I do not mind falling down and hurting myself, or cold, or scarcely anything that happens.
MR. BARLOW: And which do you prefer—to be as you are now, or as you were before?
TOMMY: As I am now, a great deal, sir; for then I always had something or another the matter with me. At present I think I am ten times stronger and healthier than ever I was in my life.
All the same, Tommy found it difficult at first to understand how people who lived in countries where they had to undergo great hardships could be so attached to their own land as to prefer it to any other country in the world. "I have," he said, "seen a great many ladies and little misses at our house, and whenever they were talking of the places where they should like to live, I have always heard them say that they hated the country of all things, though they were born and bred there."
MR. BARLOW: And yet there are thousands who bear to live in it all their lives, and have no desire to change. Should you, Harry, like to go to live in some town?
HARRY: Indeed, sir, I should not, for then I must leave everything I love in the world.
TOMMY: And have you ever been in any large town?
HARRY: Once I was in Exeter, but I did not much like it. The houses seemed to me to stand too thick and close, and then there are little, narrow alleys where the poor live, and the houses are so high that neither light nor air can ever get to them. And they most of them appeared so dirty and unhealthy that it made my heart ache to look at them. I went home the next day, and never was better pleased in my life. When I came to the top of the great hill, from which you have a prospect of our house, I really thought I should have cried with joy. The fields looked all so pleasant, and the very cattle, when I went about to see them, all seemed glad that I was come home again.
MR. BARLOW: You see by this that it is very possible for people to like the country, and to be happy in it. But as to the fine young ladies you talk of, the truth is that they neither love nor would be contented in any place. It is no wonder they dislike the country, where they find neither employment nor amusement. They wish to go to London, because they there meet with numbers of people as idle and as frivolous as themselves; and these people assist each other to talk about trifles and to waste their time.
TOMMY: That is true, sir, really; for when we have a great deal of company, I have often observed that they never talk about anything but eating or dressing, or men and women that are paid to make faces at the playhouse or a great room called Ranelagh, where everybody goes to meet their friends.
Which discourse led on to a story of the ancient Spartans, and their superiority to the luxury-loving Persians.
The time had now arrived when Tommy was by appointment to go home and spend some time with his parents. Mr. Barlow had been long afraid of this visit, as he knew his pupil would meet a great deal of company there who would give him impressions of a nature very different from those he had, with so much assiduity, been labouring to excite. However, the visit was unavoidable, and Mrs. Merton sent so pressing an invitation for Harry to accompany his friend, after having obtained the consent of his father, that Mr. Barlow, with much regret, took leave of his pupils.
When the boys arrived at Mr. Merton's they were introduced into a crowded drawing-room full of the most elegant company which that part of the country afforded, among whom were several young gentlemen and ladies of different ages who had been purposely invited to spend their holidays with Master Merton.
As soon as Master Merton entered, every tongue was let loose in his praise. As to Harry, he had the good fortune to be taken notice of by nobody except Mr. Merton, who received him with great cordiality, and a Miss Simmons, who had been brought up by an uncle who endeavoured, by a hardy and robust education, to prevent in his niece that sickly delicacy which is considered so great an ornament in fashionable life. Harry and this young lady became great friends, though to a considerable extent they were the butt of the others.
A lady who sat by Mrs. Merton, asked her, in a whisper loud enough to be heard all over the room, whether (indicating Harry) that was the little ploughboy whom she had heard Mr. Barlow was attempting to bring up like a gentleman? Mrs. Merton answered "Yes." "Indeed," said the lady, "I should have thought so by his plebeian look and vulgar air. But I wonder, my dear madam, that you will suffer your son, who, without flattery, is one of the most accomplished children I ever saw, with quite the air of fashion, to keep such company."
Whilst Tommy was being estranged from his friend by a constant succession of flattery from his elders and the example of others of his own age, Harry, who never said any of those brilliant things that render a boy the darling of the ladies, and who had not that vivacity, or rather impertinence, which frequently passes for wit with superficial people, paid the greatest attention to what was said to him, and made the most judicious observations upon subjects he understood. For this reason, Miss Simmons, although much older and better informed, received great satisfaction from conversing with him, and thought him infinitely more agreeable and sensible than any of the smart young gentlemen she had hitherto seen.
One morning the young gentlemen agreed to take a walk in the country. Harry went with them. As they walked across a common they saw a great number of people moving forward towards a bull-baiting. Instantly they were seized with a desire to see the diversion. One obstacle alone presented itself. Their parents, particularly Mrs. Merton, had made them promise to avoid every kind of danger. However, all except Harry, agreed to go, insisting among themselves that there was no danger.
"Master Harry," said one, "has not said a word. Surely he will not tell of us."
Harry said he did not wish to tell; but if, he added, he were asked, he would have to tell the truth.
A quarrel followed, in which Tommy struck his friend in the face with his fist. This, added to Tommy's recent conduct towards him, caused the tears to start to Harry's eyes, whereupon the others assailed him with cries of "Coward!" "Blackguard!" and so on. Master Mash went further and slapped him in the face. Harry, though Master Mash's inferior in size and strength, returned this by a punch, and a fight ensued, from which, though severely punished himself, Harry emerged the victor, to be assailed with a chorus of congratulation from those who before were loading him with taunts and outrages.
The young gentlemen persisting in their intention to see the bull-baiting, Harry followed at some distance, deciding not to quit his friend till he had once more seen him in a place of safety. As it happened, the bull, after disposing of his early tormentors, broke loose when three fierce dogs were set upon it at once. In the stampede little Tommy fell right in the path of the infuriated animal, and would have lost his life had not Harry, with a courage and presence of mind above his years, suddenly seized a prong which one of the fugitives had dropped, and, at the very moment when the bull was stopping to gore his defenceless friend, advanced and wounded it in the flank. The bull turned, and with redoubled rage made at his new assailant, and it is probable that, notwithstanding his intrepidity, Harry would have paid with his own life the price of his assistance to his friend had not a poor negro, whom he had helped earlier in the day, come opportunely to his aid, and by his promptitude and address secured the animal.
The gratitude of Mr. Merton for his son's escape was unbounded, and even Mrs. Merton was ashamed of her disparaging remarks about Harry. As for Tommy, he went to his friend's home to seek reconciliation, reflecting with shame and contempt upon the ridiculous prejudices he had once entertained.
He had now learned to consider all men as his brethren, not forgetting the poor negro; and that, as he said, it is much better to be useful than rich or fine.
* * * * *
Daniel Defoe, English novelist, historian and pamphleteer, was born in 1660 or 1661, in London, the son of James Foe, a butcher, and only assumed the name of De Foe, or Defoe, in middle life. He was brought up as a dissenter, and became a dealer in hosiery in the city. He early began to publish his opinions on social and political questions, and was an absolutely fearless writer, audacious and independent, so that he twice suffered imprisonment for his daring. The immortal "Robinson Crusoe" was published on April 25, 1719. Defoe was already fifty-eight years of age. It was the first English work of fiction that represented the men and manners of its own time as they were. It appeared in several parts, and the first part, which is here epitomised, was so successful that no fewer than four editions were printed in as many months. "Robinson Crusoe" was widely pirated, and its authorship gave rise to absurd rumours. Some claimed it had been written by Lord Oxford in the Tower; others that Defoe had appropriated Alexander Selkirk's papers. The latter idea was only justified inasmuch as the story was partly founded on Selkirk's adventures and partly on Dampier's voyages. Defoe died on April 26, 1731.
I.—I Go to Sea
I was born of a good family in the city of York, where my father—a foreigner, of Bremen—settled after having retired from business. My father had given me a competent share of learning and designed me for the law; but I would be satisfied in nothing but going to sea. My mind was filled with thoughts of seeing the world, and nothing could persuade me to give up my desire.
At length, on September 1, 1651, I left home, and went on board a ship bound for London. The ship was no sooner out of the Humber than the wind began to blow and the sea to rise in a most frightful manner; and as I had never been at sea before, I was most inexpressibly sick in body and terrified in mind. The next day, however, the wind abated, and for several days the weather continued calm. My fears being forgotten, and the current of my desires returned, I entirely forgot the vows to return home that I made in my distress.
The sixth day of our being at sea we came into Yarmouth Roads and cast anchor. Our troubles were not yet over, however, for a few days later the wind increased till it blew a terrible storm indeed. I began to see terror in the faces even of the seamen themselves; and as the captain passed me, I could hear him softly to himself say, several times, "We shall be all lost!"
My horror of mind put me into such a condition that I can by no words describe it. The storm increased, and the seamen every now and then cried out the ship would founder. One of the men cried out that we had sprung a leak, and all hands were called to the pumps; but the water increasing in the hold, it was apparent that the ship would founder. We fired guns for help, and a ship who had rid it out just ahead of us ventured a boat out. It was with the utmost hazard the boat came near us, but at last we got all into it, and got into shore, though not without much difficulty, and walked afterwards on foot to Yarmouth.
Having some money in my pocket, I travelled to London, and there got acquainted with the master of a ship which traded on the coast of Guinea. This captain, taking a fancy to my conversation, told me if I would make a voyage with him I might do some trading on my own account. I embraced the offer, and went the voyage with him. With the help of some of my relations I raised L40, which I laid out in toys, beads, and such trifles as my friend the captain said were most in demand on the Guinea Coast. It was a prosperous voyage. It made me both a sailor and a merchant, for my adventure yielded me on my return to London almost L300, and this filled me with those aspiring thoughts which have since so completed my ruin.
I was now set up as a Guinea trader, and made up my mind to go the same voyage again in the same ship; but this was the unhappiest voyage ever man made, for as we were off the African shore we were surprised by a Moorish rover of Salee, who gave chase with all sail. About three in the afternoon he came up with us, and after a great fight we were forced to yield, and were carried all prisoners into the port of Salee, where we were sold as slaves.
I was fortunate enough to fall into the hands of a master who treated me with no little kindness. He frequently went fishing, and as I was dexterous in catching fish, he never went without me. One day he sent me out with a Moor to catch fish for him. Then notions of deliverance darted into my thoughts, and I prepared not for fishing, but for a voyage. When everything was ready, we sailed away to the fishing-grounds. Purposely catching nothing, I said we had better go farther out. The Moor agreed, and I ran the boat out near a league farther; then I brought to as if I would fish. Instead of that, however, I stepped forward, and, stooping behind the Moor, took him by surprise and tossed him overboard. He rose to the surface, and called on me to take him in. For reply I presented a gun at him, and told him if he came nearer the boat I would shoot him, and that as the sea was calm, he might easily swim ashore. So he turned about, and swam for the shore, and I make no doubt but he reached it with ease.
About ten days afterwards, as I was steering out to double a cape, I came in sight of a Portuguese ship. On coming nearer, they hailed me, but I understood not a word. At last a Scotch sailor called to me, and I answered I was an Englishman, and had made my escape from the Moors of Salee. They then bade me come on board, and very kindly took me in, with all my goods.
We had a very good voyage to the Brazils, and when we reached our destination the captain recommended me to an honest man who had a sugar plantation. Here I settled down for a while, and learned the planting of sugar. Then I took a piece of land, and became a planter myself. My affairs prospered, and had I continued in the station I was now in, I had room for many happy things to have yet befallen me; but I was still to be the agent of my own miseries.
II.—Lord of an Island and Alone
Some of my neighbours, hearing that I had a knowledge of Guinea trading, proposed to fit out a vessel and send her to the coast of Guinea to purchase negroes to work in our plantations. I was well pleased with the idea; and when they asked me to go to manage the trading part, I forgot all the perils and hardships of the sea, and agreed to go. A ship being fitted out, we set sail on September 1, 1659.
We had very good weather for twelve days, but after crossing the line, violent hurricanes took us, and drove us out of the way of all human commerce. In this distress, one morning, there was a cry of "Land!" and almost at the same moment the ship struck against a sandbank. We took to a boat, and worked towards the land; but before we could reach it, a raging wave came rolling astern of us, and overset the boat. We were all thrown into the sea, and out of fifteen who were on board, none escaped but myself. I managed, somehow, to scramble to shore, and clambered up the cliffs, and sat me down on the grass half-dead. Night coming on me, I took up my lodging in a tree.
When I waked, it was broad day, the weather clear, and the storm abated. What surprised me most was that in the night the ship had been lifted from the bank by the swelling tide, and driven ashore almost as far as the place where I had landed. I saw that if we had all kept on board we had been all safe, and I had not been so miserable as to be left entirely destitute of all company as I now was.
I swam out to the ship, and found that her stern lay lifted up on the bank. All the ship's provisions were dry, and, being well disposed to eat, I filled my pockets and ate as I went about other things, for I had no time to lose. We had several spare yards and planks, and with these I made a raft. I emptied three of the seamen's chests, and let them down upon the raft, and filled them with provisions. I also let down the carpenter's chest, and some arms and ammunition—all of which, after much labour, I got safely to land.
My next work was to view the country. Where I was I yet knew not, but after I had with great labour got to the top of a hill which rose up very steep and high, I saw my fate, to my great affliction—viz., that I was in an island, uninhabited except by wild beasts.
I now began to consider that I might yet get a great many things out of the ship which would be useful to me; so every day at low water I went on board, and brought away something or other until I had the biggest magazine that was ever laid up, I believe, for one man. I verily believe, had the calm weather held, I should have brought away the whole ship piece by piece; but on the fourteenth day it blew a storm, and next morning, behold, no more ship was to be seen. I must not forget that I brought on shore two cats and a dog. He was a trusty servant to me many years. I wanted nothing that he could fetch me, nor any company. I only wanted him to talk to me, but that he could not do. Later, I managed to catch a parrot, which did much to cheer my loneliness. I taught him to speak, and it would have done your heart good to have heard the pitying tones in which he used to say, "Robin—poor Robin Crusoe!"
I now went in search of a place where to fix my dwelling. I found a little plain on the side of a rising hill, which was there as steep as a house-side, so that nothing could come down on me from the top. On the side of this rock was a hollow space like the entrance of a cave, before which I resolved to pitch my tent. Before I set up my tent, I drew a half-circle before the hollow place, which extended backwards about twenty yards. In this half-circle I planted two rows of strong stakes, driving them into the ground like piles, above five feet and a half high, and sharpened at the top. Then I took some pieces of cable I had found in the ship, and laid them in rows one upon another between the stakes; and this fence was so strong that neither man nor beast could get into it or over it. The entrance I made to be by a short ladder to go over the top, and when I was in I lifted the ladder after me.
Inside the fence, with infinite labour, I carried all my riches, provisions, ammunition, and stores. And I made me a large tent, also, to preserve me from the rains. When I had done this I began to work my way into the rock. All the earth and stones I dug out I laid up within my fence, and thus I made me a cave just behind my tent which served me like a cellar.
In the middle of my labours it happened that, rummaging in my things, I found a little bag with but husks of corn and dust in it. Wishing to make use of the bag, I shook it out on one side of my fortification. It was a little before the great rains that I threw this stuff away, not remembering that I had thrown anything there; about a month after, I saw some green stalks shooting up. I was perfectly astonished when, after a little longer time, I saw ten or twelve ears of barley. I knew not how it came there. At last it occurred to me that I had shaken out the bag there. Besides the barley there were also a few stalks of rice. I carefully saved the ears of this corn, you may be sure, and resolved to sow them all again. When my corn was ripe, I used a cutlass as a scythe, and cut off the ears, and rubbed them out with my hands. At the end of my harvesting I had nearly two bushels of rice, and two bushels and a half of barley. I kept all this for seed, and bore the want of bread with patience.
I soon found that I needed many things to make me comfortable. First I wanted a chair and a table, for without them I must live like a savage. So I set to work. I had never handled a tool in my life, but I had a saw, an axe, and several hatchets, and I soon learned to use them all. If I wanted a board, I had to chop down a tree. From the trunk of the tree I cut a log of the length my board was to be. Then I split the log, and, with infinite labour, hewed it flat till it was as thin as a board. I made myself a table and a chair out of short pieces of board, and from the large boards I made some wide shelves. On these I laid my tools and other things.
From time to time I made many useful things. From a piece of ironwood, cut in the forest with great labour, I made a spade to dig with. Then I wanted a pick-axe, but for long I could not think how I was to get one. At length I made use of crowbars from the wreck. These I heated in the fire, and, little by little, shaped them till I made a pick-axe, proper enough, though heavy.
At first I felt the need of baskets in which to carry things, so I set to work as a basket-maker. It came to my mind that the twigs of the tree whence I cut my stakes might serve. I found them to my purpose as much as I could desire, and, during the next rainy season, I employed myself in making a great many baskets. Though I did not finish them handsomely, yet I made them sufficiently serviceable.
I had, however, one want greater than all the others—bread. My barley was very fine, the grains were large and smooth; but before I could make bread I must grind the grains into flour. I spent many a day to find out a Stone to cut hollow and make fit for a mortar, and could find none; nor were the rocks of the island of hardness sufficient. So I gave it over and rounded a great block of hard wood and, with the help of fire and great labour, made a hollow in it. I made a great heavy pestle of the wood called ironwood.
The baking part was the next thing to be considered; for, first, I had no yeast. As to that, there was no supplying the want, so I did not concern myself much about it. But for an oven I was indeed in great pain. At length I found out an experiment for that also. I made some earthen vessels, broad but not deep, about two feet across, and about nine inches deep. These I burned in the fire till they were as hard as nails and as red as tiles, and when I wanted to bake I made a great fire upon a hearth which I paved with some square tiles of my own making.
When the fire had all burned I drew the embers forward upon my hearth, and let them be there till the hearth was very hot. My loaves being ready, I swept the hearth and set them on the hottest part of it. Over each loaf I placed one of the large earthen pots, and drew the embers all round to keep in and add to the heat. And thus I baked my barley loaves and became, in a little time, a good pastrycook into the bargain.
It need not be wondered at if all these things took up most of the third year of my abode in the island. I had now brought my state of life to be much easier than it was at first, and I learned to look more upon the bright side of my condition and less on the dark.
Had anyone in England met such a man as I was, it must have frightened them, or raised great laughter. On my head I wore a great, high, shapeless cap of goat's skin. Stockings and shoes I had none, but I had made a pair of somethings, I scarce knew what to call them, to slip over my legs; a jacket, with the skirts coming down to the middle of my thighs, and a pair of open-kneed breeches of the same, completing my outfit. I had a broad belt of goat's skin, and in this I hung, on one side, a saw, on the other, a hatchet. Under my arm hung two pouches for shot and powder; at my back I carried my basket, on my shoulder my gun, and over my head a great clumsy goat's skin umbrella.
A stoic would have smiled to have seen me at dinner. There was my majesty, prince and lord of the whole island. How like a king I dined, too, all alone, attended by my servants! Poll, my parrot, as if he had been my favourite, was the only person permitted to talk to me. My old dog sat at my right hand, and two cats on each side of the table, expecting a bit from my hand as a mark of special favour.
It was my custom to make daily excursions to some part of the island. One day, walking along the beach, I was exceedingly surprised with the print of a man's naked foot plainly impressed on the sand. I stood like one thunderstruck. I listened, I looked around, but I could hear nothing nor see anything. I went up to a rising ground to look further; I walked backwards and forwards on the shore, but I could see only that one impression.
I went to it again. There was exactly a foot—toes, heel, and every part of a foot. How it came thither I knew not; but I hurried home, looking behind me at every two or three steps, and mistaking every bush and tree, fancying every stump to be a man. I had no sleep that night; but my terror gradually wore off, and after some days I ventured down to the beach to take measure of the footprint by my own.
I found it much larger! This filled me again with all manner of fears, and when I went home I began to prepare against an attack. I got out my muskets, loaded them, and went to an enormous amount of labour and trouble—all because I had seen the print of a naked foot on the sand. There seemed to me then no labour too great, no task too toilsome, and I made me a second fortification, and planted a vast number of stakes on the outside of my outer wall, which grew and became a thick grove of trees, entirely concealing the place of my retreat, and adding greatly to my security.
I had now been twenty-two years on the island, and had grown so accustomed to the place that, had I felt myself secure from the attack by savages, I fancied I could have been contented to remain there till I died of old age.
For many months the perturbation of my mind was very great; in the day great troubles overwhelmed me, and in the night I dreamed often of killing savages. About two years after I first knew these fears, I was surprised one morning by seeing five canoes on the shore. I could not tell what to think of it, so went and lay in my castle perplexed and discomforted. At length, becoming very impatient, I clambered up to the top of the hill and perceived, by the help of my perspective glass, no less than thirty men dancing round a fire with barbarous gestures. While I was looking, two miserable wretches were dragged from the boats. One was immediately knocked down, while the other, seeing himself a little at liberty, started away from them and ran along the sands directly towards me. I was dreadfully frightened, that I must acknowledge, when I perceived him run my way, especially when, as I thought, I saw him pursued by the whole body. But my spirits began to recover when I found that but three men followed him, and that he outstripped them exceedingly, in running.
Presently he came to a creek and, making nothing of it, plunged in, landed, and ran on with exceeding strength. Two of the pursuers swam the creek, but the third went no farther, and soon after went back again. I immediately took my two guns, ran down the hill and clapped myself in the way between the pursuers and the pursued, hallooing aloud to him that fled. Then, rushing on the foremost of the pursuers, I knocked him down with the stock of my piece. The other stopped, as if frightened, but as I came nearer, I perceived he was fitting a bow and arrow to shoot at me; so I was then obliged to shoot at him first, which I did and killed him.
The poor savage who fled was so frightened with the noise of my piece that he seemed inclined still to fly. I gave him all the signs of encouragement I could think of, and he came nearer, kneeling down every ten or twelve steps. I took him up and made much of him, and comforted him. Then, beckoning him to follow me, I took him to my cave on the farther part of the island. Here, having refreshed him, I made signs for him to lie down to sleep, which the poor creature did. After he had slumbered about half an hour, he came out of the cave, running to me, laying himself down and setting my foot upon his head to let me know he would serve me so long as he lived.
In a little time I began to speak to him and teach him to speak to me; and, first, I let him know his name should be Friday, which was the day I saved his life. I likewise taught him to say "Master," and then let him know that was to be my name. I made a little tent for him, and took in my ladders at night, so that he could no way come at me.
But I needed not this precaution, for never man had a more faithful, loving servant than Friday was to me. I made it my business to teach him everything that was proper to make him useful, especially to make him speak, and he was the aptest scholar that ever was. Indeed, this was the pleasantest year of all the life I led in this place. I began now to have some use for my tongue again, and, besides the pleasure of talking to Friday, I had a singular satisfaction in the fellow himself. His simple, unfeigned honesty appeared to me more and more every day, and I began really to love the creature; and I believe he loved me more than it was possible for him ever to love anything before.
IV.—The End of Captivity
I was now entered on the seven-and-twentieth year of my captivity on the island. One morning I bade Friday go to the seashore and see if he could find a turtle. He had not been gone long when he came running back like one that felt not the ground, or the steps he set his feet on, and cries out to me, "O master! O sorrow! O bad!"
"What's the matter, Friday?" said I.
"O yonder, there," says he; "one, two, three canoes!"
"Well," says I, "do not be frightened."
However, I saw the poor fellow was most terribly scared, for nothing ran in his head but that the savages were come back to look for him, and would cut him in pieces and eat him. I comforted him, and told him I was in as much danger as he. Then I went up the hill and found quickly by my glass that there were one-and-twenty savages, whose business seemed to be a triumphant banquet upon three human bodies. I came down again to Friday and, going towards the wretches, sent Friday a little ahead to see what they were doing. He came back and told me that they were eating the flesh of one of their prisoners, and that a bearded man lay bound, whom he said they would kill next.
This fired the very soul within me, and, going to a little rising ground, I turned to Friday and said, "Now, Friday, do exactly as you see me do." So, with a musket, I took aim at the savages; Friday did the like, and we fired, killing three of them and wounding five more. They were in a dreadful consternation, and after we fired again among the amazed wretches, I made directly towards the poor victim who was lying upon the beach. Loosing him, I found he was a Spaniard. He took pistol and sword from me thankfully, and flew upon his murderers, and, Friday, pursuing the flying wretches, in the end but four of the twenty-one escaped in a canoe.
I was minded to pursue them lest they should return with a greater force and devour us by mere multitude. So, running to a canoe, I bade Friday follow me, but was surprised to find another poor creature lying therein, bound hand and foot. I immediately cut his fastenings and bade Friday tell him of his deliverance. But when Friday came to hear him speak and to look in his face, it would have moved anyone to tears to have seen how Friday kissed him, embraced him, hugged him, cried, danced, sung, and then cried again. It was a good while before I could make him tell me what was the matter, but when he came a little to himself, he told me it was his father. He sat down by the old man a long while, and took his arms and ankles, which were numbed with the binding, and chafed and rubbed them with his hands.
My island was now peopled, and I thought myself rich in subjects. The Spaniard and the old savage had been with us about seven months, sharing in our labours, when, being unable to keep means of deliverance out of my thoughts, I gave them leave to go over in one of the canoes to the mainland, where some of the Spaniard's shipmates were cast away, giving them provisions sufficient for themselves and all the Spaniards, for eight days.
It was no less than eight days I had waited for their return when Friday came to me and called aloud, "Master, master, they are come!" I jumped up and climbed to the top of the hill, and with my glass plainly made out an English ship, and its long-boat standing in for the shore. I cannot express the joy I was in at seeing a ship, and one that was manned by my own countrymen; but yet I had some secret doubts, bidding me keep on my guard. Presently the boat was run upon the beach, and in all eleven men landed, whereof three were unarmed and bound, whom I could perceive using passionate gestures of entreaty and despair. Presently the seamen were all gone straggling in the woods, leaving the three distressed men under a tree a little distance from me. I resolved to discover myself to them, and marched with Friday towards them, and called aloud in Spanish, "What are ye, gentlemen?" They started up at the noise, and I perceived them about to fly from me, when I spoke to them in English.
"Gentlemen," says I, "do not be surprised at me; perhaps you may have a friend near, when you did not expect it. Can you not put a stranger in the way to help you?"
One of them, looking like one astonished, returned, "Sir, I was captain of that ship; my men have mutinied against me, and have set me on shore in this desolate place with these two men—my mate and a passenger."
He then told me that if two among the mutineers, who were desperate villains, were secured, he believed the rest on shore would return to their duty. He anticipated my proposals in venturing their deliverance by telling me that both he and the ship, if recovered, should be wholly directed by me in everything. Then I gave them muskets, and the mutineers returning, the two villains were killed, and the rest begged for mercy, and joined us. More of them coming ashore, we fell upon them at night, so that at the captain's call they laid down their arms, trusting to the mercy of the governor of the island, for such they supposed me to be.
It now occurred to me that the time of my deliverance was come, and that it would be easy to bring these fellows in to be hearty in getting possession of the ship. And so it proved, for, the ship being boarded next morning, and the new rebel captain shot, the rest yielded without any more lives lost.
When I saw my deliverance then put visibly into my hands, I was ready to sink down with the surprise, and it was a good while before I could speak a word to the captain, who was in as great an ecstasy as I. After some time, I came dressed in a new habit of the captain's, being still called governor. Being all met, and the captain with me, I caused the prisoners to be brought before me, told them I had got a full account of their villainous behaviour to the captain, and asked of them what they had to say why I should not execute them as pirates. I told them I had resolved to quit the island, but that they, if they went, could only go as prisoners in irons; so that I could not tell what was the best for them, unless they had a mind to take their fate in the island. They seemed thankful for this, and said they would much rather venture to stay than be carried to England to be hanged. So I left it on that issue. When the captain was gone I sent for the men up to me in my apartment and let them into the story of my living there; showed them my fortifications, the way I made my bread, planted my corn; and, in a word, all that was necessary to make them easy. I told them the story, also of the Spaniards that were to be expected, and made them promise to treat them in common with themselves.
I left the next day and went on board the ship with Friday. And thus I left the island the 19th of December, in the year 1686, after eight and twenty years, and, after a long voyage, I arrived in England, the 11th of June, 1687, having been thirty-five years absent.
* * * * *
Defoe was fifty-nine when he published this remarkable book, in 1720. "Robinson Crusoe" had appeared in the previous year, and "Moll Flanders" came out in 1722. Shrewdness and wit, the study of character, vividness of imagination, and, beyond these, the pure literary style, make "Captain Singleton" a classic in English literature. William the Quaker, the first Quaker in English fiction, has never been surpassed in any later novel, and remains an immortal creation. The clear common sense of this man, the combination of business ability and a real humaneness, the quiet humour which prevails over the stupid barbarity of his pirate companions—who but Defoe could have drawn such a character as the guide, philosopher, and friend of a crew of pirates? Bob Singleton himself, who tells the story with a frankness of extraordinary charm, confessing his willingness for evil courses as readily as his later repentance, is no less striking a personality. By sheer imagination the genius of Defoe makes Singleton's adventures, including the impossible journey across Central Africa, real and credible. The book is a model of fine narrative.
I.—Sailing With the Devil
If I may believe the woman whom I was taught to call mother, I was a little boy about two years old, very well dressed, and had a nurse-maid to attend me, who took me out on a fine summer's evening into the fields towards Islington, to give the child some air; a little girl being with her, of twelve or fourteen years old, that lived in the neighbourhood.
The maid meets with a fellow, her sweetheart; he carries her into a public-house, and while they are toying in there the girl plays about with me in her hand, sometimes in sight, sometimes out of sight, thinking no harm.
Then comes by one of those sort of people who make it their business to spirit away little children, a trade chiefly practised where they found little children well dressed, and for bigger children, to sell them to the plantations.
The woman, pretending to take me up in her arms and play with me, draws the girl a good way from the house, and then bids her go back to the maid, and tell her that a gentlewoman had taken a fancy to the child. And so, while the girl went, she carries me quite away.
From that time, it seems, I was disposed of to a beggar woman, and after that to a gipsy, till I was about six years old.
And this gipsy, though I was continually dragged about with her from one part of the country to the other, never let me want for anything. I called her mother, but she told me at last she was not my mother, but that she bought me for twelve shillings, and that my name was Bob Singleton, not Robert, but plain Bob.
Who my father and mother really were I have never learnt.
When my gipsy mother happened in process of time to be hanged, I was sent to a parish school; and then I was moved from one parish to another, and at Bussleton, near Southampton, the master of a ship took a fancy to me, and though I was not above twelve years old, he carried me to sea with him on a voyage to Newfoundland.
I went several voyages with him, when, coming home from Newfoundland about the year 1695, we were taken by an Algerine rover, which was in its turn taken by two great Portuguese men-of-war.
We were carried into Lisbon, and there my master, the only friend I had in the world, dying of his wounds, I was left starving in a foreign country where I knew nobody, and could not speak a word of the language.
However, an old pilot found me, and, speaking in broken English, asked me if I would go with him.
"Yes," said I, "with all my heart."
For two years I lived with him, and then he got to be master under Don Garcia de Carravallas, captain of a Portuguese galleon, which was bound to Goa in the East Indies. On this voyage I began to get a smattering of the Portuguese tongue and a superficial knowledge of navigation. I also learnt to be an arrant thief and a bad sailor.
I was reputed as mighty diligent and faithful to my master, but I was very far from honest.
Indeed, I had no sense of virtue or religion in me, never having heard much of either, and was growing up apace to be as wicked as anybody could be.
Thieving, lying, swearing, forswearing, joined to the most abominable lewdness, was the stated practice of the ship's crew; adding to it that, with the most insufferable boasts of their own courage, they were, generally speaking, the most complete cowards that I ever met with. And I was exactly fitted for their society.
According to the English proverb, he that is shipped with the devil must sail with the devil; I was among them, and I managed myself as well as I could.
When we came to anchor on the coast of Madagascar to repair some damage to the ship, there happened a most desperate mutiny among the men upon account of a deficiency in their allowance, and I, being full of mischief in my head, readily joined.
Though I was but a boy, as they called me, yet I prompted the mischief all I could, and embarked in it so openly that I escaped very little being hanged in the first and most early part of my life.
For the captain, getting wind of the plot, brought two fellows to confess the particulars, and presently no less than sixteen men were seized and put into irons, whereof I was one.
The captain, who was made desperate by his danger, tried us all, and we were all condemned to die. The gunner and purser were hanged immediately, and I expected it with the rest. I do not remember any great concern I was under about it, only that I cried very much; for I knew little then of this world, and nothing at all of the next.
However, the captain contented himself with executing these two, and some of the rest, upon their humble submission, were pardoned; but five were ordered to be set on shore on the island and left there, of which I was one.
At our first coming into the island we were terrified exceedingly with the sight of the barbarous people; but when we came to converse with them awhile, we found they were not cannibals, as was reported, but they came and sat down by us, and wondered much at our clothes and arms. Nor did we suffer any harm from them during our whole stay on the island.
Before the ship sailed twenty-three of the crew decided to join us, and the captain, not unwilling to lose them, sent us two barrels of powder, and shot and lead, as well as a great bag of bread.
Being now a considerable number, and in condition to defend ourselves, the first thing we did was to give everyone his hand that we would not separate from one another, but that we would live and die together, that we would be in all things guided by the majority, that we would appoint a captain among us to be our leader, and that we would obey him on pain of death.
II.—A Mad Venture
For two years we remained on the island of Madagascar, for at the beginning we had no vessel large enough to pass the ocean.
I never proposed to speak in the general consultations, but one day I told the company that our best plan was to cruise along the coast in canoes, and seize upon the first vessel we could get that was better than our own, and so from that to another, till perhaps we might at last get a good ship to carry us wherever we pleased to go.
"Excellent advice," says one of them. "Admirable advice," says another. "Yes, yes," says the third (which was a gunner), "the English dog has given excellent advice, but it is just the way to bring us all to the gallows. To go a-thieving, till from a little vessel we come to a great ship, and so shall we turn downright pirates, the end of which is to be hanged."
"You may call us pirates," says another, "if you will, and if we fall into bad hands we may be used like pirates; but I care not for that. I'll be a pirate or anything, rather than starve here!"
And so they cried all, "Let us have a canoe!"
The gunner, overruled by the rest, submitted; but as we broke up the council, he came to me and very gravely. "My lad," says he, "thou art born to do a world of mischief; thou hast commenced pirate very young; but have a care of the gallows, young man; have a care, I say, for thou wilt be an eminent thief."
I laughed at him, and told him I did not know what I might come to hereafter; but as our case was now, I should make no scruple to take the first ship I came at to get our liberty. I only wished we could see one, and come at her.
When we had made three canoes of some size, we set out on as odd a voyage as ever man went. We were a little fleet of three ships, and an army of between twenty and thirty as dangerous fellows as ever lived. We were bound somewhere and nowhere, for though we knew what we intended to do, we really did not know what we were doing.
We cruised up and down the coast, but no ship came in sight, and at last, with more courage than discretion, more resolution than judgment, we launched for the main coast of Africa.
The voyage was much longer than we expected, and when we were landed upon the continent it seemed the most desolate, desert, and inhospitable country in the world.
It was here that we took one of the rashest and wildest and most desperate resolutions that ever was taken by man; this was to travel overland through the heart of the country, from the coast of Mozambique to the coast of Angola or Guinea, a continent of land of at least 1,800 miles, in which journey we had excessive heats to support, impassable deserts to go over, no carriages, camels, or beasts of any kind to carry our baggage, innumerable wild and ravenous beasts to encounter, such as lions, leopards, tigers, lizards, and elephants; we had nations of savages to encounter, barbarous and brutish to the last degree; hunger and thirst to struggle with, and, in one word, terrors enough to have daunted the stoutest hearts that ever were placed in cases of flesh and blood.
Yet, fearless of all these, we resolved to adventure, and not only did we accomplish our journey, but we came to a river where there were vast quantities of gold.
The hardships and difficulties of our march were much mitigated by a method which I proposed and was found very convenient. This was to quarrel with some of the negro natives, take them as prisoners, and binding them, as slaves, cause them to travel with us and make them carry our baggage.
Accordingly, we secured about sixty lusty young fellows as prisoners, for the natives stood in great awe of us because of our firearms, and they not only served us faithfully—the more so as we treated them without harshness—but were of great help in showing us the way, and in conversing with the savages we afterwards met.
When we reached the country where the gold was, we at once agreed, in order that the good harmony and friendship of our company might be maintained, that however much gold was gotten, it should be brought into one common stock, and equally divided at last, the negroes sharing with the rest.
This was done, and at the end of our long journey we found each man's share amounted to many pounds of gold. We also got a cargo of elephants' teeth.
We parted at the Gold Coast from our black companions on the best of terms. Then most of my comrades went off to the Portuguese factories near Gambia, and I went to Cape Coast Castle, and got passage for, England, where I arrived in September.
III.—Quaker and Pirate
I had neither friend nor relation in England, though it was my native country; I had not a person to trust with what I had, or to counsel me to secure or save it; but falling into ill company, and trusting the keeper of a public-house in Rotherhithe with a great part of my money, all that great sum, which I got with so much pains and hazard, was gone in little more than two years' time—spent in all kinds of folly and wickedness.
Then I began to see it was time to think of further adventures, and I next shipped myself, in an evil hour to be sure, on a voyage to Cadiz.
On the coast of Spain I fell in with some masters of mischief, and, among them, one, forwarder than the rest, named Harris, who began an intimate confidence with me, so that we called one another brothers.
This Harris was afterwards captured by an English man-of-war, and, being laid in irons, died of grief and anger.
When we were together, he asked me if I had a mind for an adventure that might make amends for all past misfortunes. I told him, yes, with all my heart; for I did not care where I went, having nothing to lose, and no one to leave behind me.
He told me, then, there was a brave fellow, whose name was Wilmot, in another English ship which rode in the harbour, who had resolved to mutiny the next morning, and run away with the ship; and that if we could get strength enough among our ship's company, we might do the same.
I liked the proposal very well, but we could not bring our part to perfection. For there were but eleven in our ship who were in the conspiracy, nor could we get any more that we could trust. So that when Wilmot began his work, and secured the ship, and gave the signal to us, we all took a boat and went off to join him.
Being well prepared for all manner of roguery, without the least checks of conscience, I thus embarked with this crew, which at last brought me to consort with the most famous pirates of the age.
I, that was an original thief, and a pirate even by inclination before, was now in my element, and never undertook anything in my life with more particular satisfaction.
Captain Wilmot—for so we now called him—at once stood out for sea, steering for the Canaries, and thence onward to the West Indies. Our ship had twenty-two guns, and we obtained plenty of ammunition from the Spaniards in exchange for bales of English cloth.
We cruised near two years in those seas of the West Indies, chiefly upon the Spaniards—not that we made any difficulty of taking English ships, or Dutch, or French, if they came in our way. But the reason why we meddled as little with English vessels as we could was, first, because if they were ships of any force, we were sure of more resistance from them; and, secondly, because we found the English ships had less booty when taken; for the Spaniards generally had money on board, and that was what we best knew what to do with.
We increased our stock considerably in these two years, having taken 60,000 pieces of gold in one vessel, and 100,000 in another; and being thus first grown rich, we resolved to be strong, too, for we had taken a brigantine, an excellent sea-boat, able to carry twelve guns, and a large Spanish frigate-built ship, which afterwards, by the help of good carpenters, we fitted up to carry twenty-eight guns.
We had also taken two or three sloops from New England and New York, laden with flour, peas, and barrelled beef and pork, going for Jamaica and Barbados, and for more beef we went on shore on the island of Cuba, where we killed as many black cattle as we pleased, though we had very little salt to cure them.
Out of all the prizes we took here we took their powder and bullets, their small-arms and cutlasses; and as for their men, we always took the surgeon and the carpenter, as persons who were of particular use to us upon many occasions; nor were they always unwilling to go with us.
We had one very merry fellow here, a Quaker, whose name was William Walters, whom we took out of a sloop bound from Pennsylvania to Barbados. He was a surgeon and they called him doctor, and we made him go with us, and take all his implements with him. He was a comic fellow indeed, a man of very good solid sense, and an excellent surgeon; but, what was worth all, very good-humoured and pleasant in his conversation, and a bold, stout, brave fellow too, as any we had among us.
I found William not very averse to go along with us, and yet resolved to do it so that it might be apparent he was taken away by force. "Friend," he says, "thou sayest I must go with thee, and it is not in my power to resist thee if I would; but I desire thou wilt oblige the master of the sloop to certify under his hand that I was taken away by force, and against my will." So I drew up a certificate myself, wherein I wrote that he was taken away by main force, as a prisoner, by a pirate ship; and this was signed by the master and all his men.
"Thou hast dealt friendly by me," says he, when we had brought him aboard, "and I will be plain with thee, whether I came willingly to thee or not. But thou knowest it is not my business to meddle when thou art to fight."
"No, no," says the captain, "but you may meddle a little when we share the money."
"Those things are useful to furnish a surgeon's chest," says William, and smiled, "but I shall be moderate."
In short, William was a most agreeable companion; but he had the better of us in this part, that if we were taken we were sure to be hanged, and he was sure to escape. But he was a sprightly fellow, and fitter to be captain than any of us.
IV.—A Respectable Merchant
We cruised the seas for many years, and after a time William and I had a ship to ourselves with 400 men in authority under us. As for Captain Wilmot, we left him with a large company at Madagascar, while we went on to the East Indies.
At last we had gotten so rich, for we traded in cloves and spices to the merchants, that William one day proposed to me that we should give up the kind of life we had been leading. We were then off the coast of Persia.
"Most people," said William, "leave off trading when they are satisfied of getting, and are rich enough; for nobody trades for the sake of trading; much less do men rob for the sake of thieving. It is natural for men that are abroad to desire to come home again at last, especially when they are grown rich, and so rich as they would know not what to do with more if they had it."
"Well, William," said I, "but you have not explained what you mean by home. Why, man, I am at home; here is my habitation; I never had any other in my lifetime; I was a kind of charity school-boy; so that I can have no desire of going anywhere for being rich or poor; for I have nowhere to go."
"Why," says William, looking a little confused, "hast thou no relatives or friends in England? No acquaintance; none that thou hast any kindness or any remains of respect for?"
"Not I, William," said I, "no more than I have in the court of the Great Mogul. Yet I do not say I like this roving, cruising life so well as never to give it over. Say anything to me, I will take it kindly." For I could see he was troubled, and I began to be moved by his gravity.
"There is something to be thought of beyond this way of life," says William.
"Why, what is that," said I, "except it be death?"
"It is repentance."
"Why," says I, "did you ever know a pirate repent?"
At this he was startled a little, and returned.
"At the gallows I have known one, and I hope thou wilt be the second."
He spoke this very affectionately, with an appearance of concern for me.
"My proposal," William went on, "is for thy good as well as my own. We may put an end to this kind of life, and repent."
"Look you, William," says I, "let me have your proposal for putting an end to our present way of living first, and you and I will talk of the other afterwards."
"Nay," says William, "thou art in the right there; we must never talk of repenting while we continue pirates."
"Well," says I, "William, that's what I meant; for if we must not reform, as well as be sorry for what is done, I have no notion what repentance means: the nature of the thing seems to tell me that the first step we have to take is to break off this wretched course. Dost thou think it practicable for us to put an end to our unhappy way of living, and get off?"
"Yes," says he, "I think it very practicable."
We were then anchored off the city of Bassorah, and one night William and I went ashore, and sent a note to the boatswain telling him we were betrayed and bidding him make off with the ship.
By this means we frighted the rogues our comrades; and we had nothing to do then but to consider how to convert our treasure into things proper to make us look like merchants, as we were now to be, and not like freebooters, as we really had been.
Then we clothed ourselves like Armenian merchants, and after many days reached Venice; and at last we agreed to go to London. For William had a sister whom he was anxious to see once more.
So we came to England, and some time later I married William's sister, with whom I am much more happy than I deserve.
* * * * *
Charles Dickens, son of a clerk in the Navy Pay Office, was born at Landport on February 7, 1812. Soon afterwards the family removed to Chatham and then to London. With all their efforts, they failed to keep out of distress, and at the age of nine Dickens was employed at a blacking factory. With the coming of brighter days, he was sent back to school; afterwards a place was found for him in a solicitor's office. In the meantime, his father had obtained a position as reporter on the "Morning Herald," and Dickens, too, resolved to try his fortune in that direction. Teaching himself shorthand, and studying diligently at the British Museum, at the age of twenty-two he secured permanent employment on the staff of a London paper. "Barnaby Rudge," the fifth of Dickens's novels, appeared serially in "Master Humphrey's Clock" during 1841. It thus followed "The Old Curiosity Shop," the character of Master Humphrey being revived merely to introduce the new story, and on its conclusion "The Clock" was stopped for ever. In 1849 "Barnaby Rudge" was published in book form. Written primarily to express the author's abhorrence of capital punishment, from the use he made of the Gordon Riots of 1780, "Barnaby Rudge," like "A Tale of Two Cities," may be considered an historical work. It is more of a story than any of its predecessors. Lord George Gordon, the instigator of the riots, died a prisoner in the Tower of London, after making public renunciation of Christianity in favour of the Jewish religion. "The raven in this story," said Dickens, "is a compound of two originals, of whom I have been the proud possessor." Dickens died at Gad's Hill on June 9, 1870, having written fourteen novels and a great number of short stories and sketches.
I.—Barnaby and the Robber
In the year 1775 there stood upon the borders of Epping Forest, in the village of Chigwell, about twelve miles from London, a house of public entertainment called the Maypole, kept by John Willet, a large-headed man with a fat face, of profound obstinacy and slowness of apprehension, combined with a very strong reliance upon his own merits.
From this inn, Gabriel Varden, stout-hearted old locksmith of Clerkenwell, jogged steadily home on a chaise, half sleeping and half waking, on a certain rough evening in March.
A loud cry roused him with a start, just where London begins, and he descried a man extended in an apparently lifeless state wounded upon the pathway, and, hovering round him, another person, with a torch in his hand, which he waved in the air with a wild impatience.
"What's here to do?" said the old locksmith. "How's this? What, Barnaby! You know me, Barnaby?"
The bearer of the torch nodded, not once or twice, but a score of times, with a fantastic exaggeration.
"How came it here?" demanded Varden, pointing to the body.
"Steel, steel, steel!" Barnaby replied fiercely, imitating the thrust of a sword.
"Is he robbed?" said the blacksmith.
Barnaby caught him by the arm, and nodded "Yes," pointing towards the city.
"Oh!" said the old man. "The robber made off that way, did he? Now let's see what can be done."
They covered the wounded man with Varden's greatcoat, and carried him to Mrs. Rudge's house hard by. On his way home Gabriel congratulated himself on having an adventure which would silence Mrs. Varden on the subject of the Maypole for that night, or there was no faith in woman.
But Mrs. Varden was a lady of uncertain temper, and she was on this occasion so ill-tempered, and put herself to so much anxiety and agitation, aided and abetted by her shrewish hand-maiden, Miggs, that next morning she was, she said, too much indisposed to rise. The disconsolate locksmith had, therefore, to deliver himself of his story of the night's experiences to his daughter, buxom, bewitching Dolly, the very pink and pattern of good looks, and the despair of the youth of the neighbourhood.
Calling next day in the evening, Gabriel Varden learnt the wounded man was better, and would shortly be removed.
Varden chatted as an old friend with Barnaby's mother. He knew the Maypole story of the widow Rudge—how her husband, employed at Chigwell, and his master had been murdered; and how her son, born upon the very day the deed was known, bore upon his wrist a smear of blood but half washed out.
"Why, what's that?" said the locksmith suddenly. "Is that Barnaby tapping at the door?"
"No," returned the widow; "it was in the street, I think. Hark! 'Tis someone knocking softly at the shutter."