(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Cornhill magazine"

THE 



CORNHILL 



MAGAZINE 



NEW SERIES 
VOL. IH. 



JULY TO DECEMBER 1884 



LONDON 
SMITH, ELDEK, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE 

1884 




[The right of publishing Translations of Articles in this Magazine is reserved.} 



CONTENTS 



v/. 6 
OF VOL. III. 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. (Illustrated by H. Furniss.} 

I'AGE 

Chapter I. \Aunt Margaret 1 

II. Out iii the Cold . . . . 5 
III. A Recitation . . . . . . . .13 

IV. A Real Enthusiast 21 

V. The Old Settle 185 

VI. An Audacious Criticism 194 

VII. A Collector's Gratitude ... . 200 

VIII. How to get rid of a Company 208 

IX. An Unwelcome Visitor . . 219 

X. Two Poets ... . . 310 

XI. The Love-Lock .... ... 315 

XII. A Delicate Task .... ... 321 

XIII. The Profession of Faith . .... 327 

XIV. The Examiners 425 

XV. At Vauxhall 430 

XVI, A Bombshell . 437 

XVII. The Mare's Nest 443 

XVIII. ' Whatever happens, I shall love you, Willie ' . . 529 

XIX. Another Discovery 534 

XX. A True Lover 539 

XXI. A Tiff 546 

XXII. A Bargain 553 

XXIII. An Unexpected Ally 634 

XXIV. Managers 642 

XXV. Two Distinguished Visitors 649 

XXVI. Two Actresses 655 



vi CONTENTS OF VOLUME III. 

THE GIANT'S ROBE. (Illustrated by W. Ralston.} 

I'AG !: 

Chapter XL. The Effects of an Explosion . 

XLI. A Final Victory 94 

XLII. From the Grave .... .104 

Conclusion ..... 

ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION (Illustrated by P. Macnab) . . 113 

A RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION 389 

BEAUMARCHAIS _. 

BEYOND THE HAZE . . . * 484 

BOHEMIAN FOREST, THE 259 

CURATE OF CHURNSIDE, THE (Illustrated by W. S. Stacey) . . . 225 

DECEITFUL VICAR, THE 305 

DYNAMITE 273 

EMBALMERS 50 

ENGLISHMEN AND FOREIGNERS 587 

EXAMINERS AND CANDIDATES 468 

FEMALE NIHILIST, A 485 

FOOD AND FEEDING . . . 617 

GLACIER EXPEDITION, OUR FIRST 992 

GUY, NEP^TROS, AND OTHERS (Illustrated by A. T. Ehces) . . . 599 

JOHN C ANN'S TREASURE (Illustrated by W. Small) . . . 337 



CONTENTS OF VOLUME III. vii 

PAGE 

LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS, SOME. VIII 41 

' I*- 150 

LONGER LIFE . 175 

MAJOR CORNELIUS (Illustrated by A. Hopkins) 449 

OUR LADY OF LOURDES 171 

PRINCESS TORHANYI, THE (Illustrated by H. Fwm'si) . . . . 561 

QUEER FLOWERS 397 

SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN, THE . . . . . . 367 

TAGLIONI ...... 29 

TAKING OFFENCE, ON . . 72 

THUNDERBOLTS 513 

WALES A HUNDRED YEARS AGO, A GLIMPSE OF 410 




THE 



COKNHILL MAGAZINE 



JULY, 1884. 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 
BY JAMES PAYN. 

ATITHOK OF ' BY PEOXT ' ETC. ETC. 



CHAPTER I. 

AUNT MARGARET. 




they greatly resembled), and 

VOL. III. NO. 13, N. S. 



HEN I was a very young 
man nothing used to surprise 
me more than the existence 
of a very old one one of 
those patriarchs who, instead 
of linking the generations 
6 each with each,' include 
two or three in their pro- 
tracted span ; a habit which 
runs in families, as in the 
case of the old gentleman 
of our own time whose 
grand sire (once or twice 
( removed,' it is true, but 
not nearly so often as 'by 
rights ' he should have been) 
gathered the arrows upon 
Flodden Field. Such per- 
sons seemed to me little in- 
ferior in interest to ghosts 
(whom indeed in appearance 
I was wont to listen to their 
1 



2 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

experiences of the past with the same rapt attention (unalloyed 
by the alarm) that I should have paid to a denizen of another 
world. There are, it seems to me, very few old persons about now, 
absolutely none (there used to be plenty) three or four times my 
age ; and this, perhaps, renders the memory (for she did die at 
last) of my great-aunt Margaret a thing so rare and precious to me. 
She was born, as we, her young relatives, were wont to say, 
' ages and ages ago,' but as a matter of fact just one age ago ; that is 
to say, if she had been alive but a few years back, she would have 
been exactly one hundred years old. Think of it, my young friends 
who are about to be so good, in your turn, as to give her story your 
attention think of it having been possible that you yourselves 
should have met this very .per son age in the flesh (though the poor 
dear had but little of it) you perhaps, in your goat carriage, upon 
the King's Parade, Brighton, and she in her wheeled chair, 
the two extremities (on wheels) of human life. To things you 
have read of as history, matters as dead and gone to you, if not 
quite so old, as the Peloponnesian war, she was a living wit- 
ness. She was alive, for example, though not of an age to 
Hake notice' of the circumstances, when the independence of 
America was acknowledged by the mother country, and when 
England was beginning to solace herself for that disruption by the 
acquisition of India. If Aunt Margaret did not know as much 
about Hyder Ali as became a contemporary, with matters nearer 
home, such as the loss of the Royal George, ' with all her crew 
(or nearly so) complete,' she was very conversant. * I saw it,' she 
was used to say, ' with my own eyes,' and it was only by the strictest 
cross-examination that you could get her to confess that she was 
but a child in arms when that catastrophe took place. As to 
politics, indeed, though we were at war with everybody in those 
times, the absence of special correspondents, telegraphs, and even 
newspapers, made public matters of much more limited interest 
than it is nowadays easy to imagine. Aunt Margaret, at all 
events, cared almost nothing about them, with the exception of 
the doings of the Press Gang an institution of which she always 
spoke with the liveliest horror. On some one, however, chancing 
to say in her hearing (and by way of corroboration of her views) 
that it was marvellous how men who had been so infamously treated 
should have been got to fight under the national flag, she let fly 
at him like the broadside of a seventy-gun frigate, and gave him 
to understand that the sailors of those days had never had their 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 3 

equals. On that, as on all other subjects, she exercised the right of 
criticism upon the institutions of her time to an unlimited extent, 
but if they were attacked by others she became their defender. 

Her chief concern, however, was with social matters, when 
speaking of which she seemed entirely to forget the age in which 
she was living: it was as though some ancestress, in hoop and 
farthingale, had stepped down from her picture and read us a page 
of the diary she had written over-night. She seemed hardly like 
one of ourselves at all, though it was obvious enough that she was 
of the female gender, from the prominence she gave to the topic of 
costumes. She confessed that she preferred the hair 6 undressed ' 
a phrase which misled her more youthful hearers, who imagined her 
to be praising a dissolute luxuriance of love-locks, which was very 
far from her intention ; on the other hand, she lamented the disuse 
of black satin breeches, which she ascribed to the general decay of 
limb among the male sex. There was nothing like your top-boots 
and hessians, she would say, for morning wear, but in the evening 
every man that had a leg was, in her opinion, bound to show it. 

I have reason to believe that my Aunt Margaret was the last 
person who ever journeyed from London to Brighton in a post- 
chaise a mode of travel, she was wont to remark, justly eulogised 
by the wisest and best of men and Londoners. If he had been 
spared to see a railway locomotive, she expressed herself as con- 
fident that he would have considered it the direct offspring of the 
Devil ; and that conjectural opinion of the great Lexicographer she 
herself shared to her dying day. Like him, she was a Londoner, 
and took an immense interest, not municipal of course, but social, 
in the affairs of the great city. < My dear,' she often used to say, 
reprovingly, when speaking of some event of which I was obliged 
to confess]! had never so much as heard, * it was the topic of every 
tongue.' 

Although she had never been the theme of London gossip 
herself, she had been very closely connected with one who had 
been ; and to those who were intimate with her he was the con- 
stant subject of her discourse. Her thoughts dwelt more with 
him, I am sure, than with all the other personages together with 
whom she had been acquainted during her earthly pilgrimage ; 
and yet she always thought of him in his adolescence, as a very 
young man. 

6 He was just your age, my dear,' she was wont to say to me, 
* when he became the " talk of the town." ' 

12 



4 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

Perhaps this circumstance gave him an additional interest in 
my eyes ; but certainly her account of this one famous personage 
was more interesting to me than everything else which Aunt 
Margaret had to tell me. It has dwelt in my mind for many a year, 
and when this is the case with any story, I have generally found 
that I have been able to interest others in its recital. In this par- 
ticular case, however, my way is not so plain as usual. The story 
is not my story, nor even Aunt Margaret's ; in its more important 
details it is common property. On the other hand, not even the 
oldest inhabitant has any remembrance of it. The hearts that 
were once wounded to the quick by the occurrences which I am 
about to describe can be no more pained by any allusion to them ; 
they have long been dust. No relative, to my knowledge, is now 
living of the unfortunate young man whose memory execrated 
by the crowd was kept so green and fresh (watered by her tears) 
by one living soul for nearly eighty years. Why should I not tell 
his ' pitiful story ' ? 

A second question, however, presents itself at the outset con- 
cerning him. Shall I give or conceal his name ? I here frankly 
confess that in its broad details the tale has no novelty to recom- 
mend it : it is not only true, but it has been told. The bald, bare 
facts have been put before the public by the youth himself nearly 
a hundred years since. There is the rub. To a few persons of 
culture as the phrase goes nowadays the main incident of his 
career will be familiar ; though, however cultured, it is unlikely 
they will know how it affected my great-aunt Margaret ; but to 
tens of thousands (including, I'll be bound, the upper ten) it will 
be utterly unknown. 

Now I have noticed that there is nothing your well-informed 
person so much delights in as to make other people aware of his 
being so. Indeed the chief use of information in his eyes is not so 
much to raise oneself above the crowd (though a sense of elevation 
is agreeable), as to have the privilege of imparting it to others 
with a noble air of superiority and self-importance. I will there- 
fore call my hero by such a name as will at once be recognised 
by the learned, whom I shall thus render my intermediaries, 
exponents of the transparent secret to those who are in blissful 
ignorance of it. I will call him William Henry Erin. 

I must add in justice to myself that the story was not told me 
in confidence. 

How could it be so when at the very beginning of our intimacy 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 5 

the narrator had already almost reached the extreme limit of human 
life, while I had but just left school ? It was the similarity of age 
on my part with that of the person she had in her mind which no 
doubt, in part at least, caused her to make me the repository of 
her long-buried sorrow. She judged, and rightly judged, that 
for that reason I was more likely to sympathise with it. Indeed, 
whenever she spoke of it, I forgot her age ; as in the case of the 
pictured grandmamma so felicitously described by Mr. Locker, I 
used to think of her at such times 

As she looked at seventeen 
As a bride. 

Her rounded form was lean, 
And her silk was bombazine, 

Well I wot. 

With her needles she would sit, 
And for hours would she knit, 

Would she not 1 

Ah, perishable clay ! 
Her charms had dropped away, 
One by one. 

Yet when she spoke of the lover of her youth, there seemed 
nothing incongruous in her so doing. I forgot the Long Ago in 
which her tale was placed ; her talk indeed on those occasions, being 
of those human feelings which are independent of any epoch, took 
little or no colour from the past ; it seemed to me a story of to-day 
and as such I now relate it. 



CHAPTER II. 

OUT IN THE COLD. 

A FEW years ago it would have been almost impossible for modern 
readers to imagine what a coach journey used to be in the good 
old times ; but, thanks to certain gilded youths, more fortunate 
than persons of a higher intellectual type who have striven in 
vain to 

revive old usages thoroughly worn out, 
The souls of them fumed forth, the hearts of them torn out, 

it is not now so difficult. Anyone who has gone by one of our 
' summer coaches ' for a short trip out of town can picture the 
'Rockets' and 'Highflyers' in which our ancestors took their 



6 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

journeys at the end of the last century. Those old mail-coaches 
were, in fact, their very counterparts ; for the '-basket ' had already 
made way for 'the hind seat,' only, instead of our aristocratic 
driver, there was a professional 'whip,' who in fair weather came 
out in scarlet like the guard, though in wet and winter-time he 
was wrapped in heavy drab, as though a butterfly should become 
a grub again. The roads were good, the milestones in a much 
better condition than they are at present, and the inns at which 
the passengers stopped for refreshments greatly superior to their 
successors, or rather to their few ghastly survivors, all room and 
no company, which still haunt the roadside. The highwaymen, 
too, were still extant, which gave an opportunity to young gen- 
tlemen of spirit to assure young female fellow-passengers of their 
being under safe escort, if not of displaying their own courage. 
Still, after eight hours in a stage-coach, most ' insides ' felt that 
they had had enough of it, and were glad enough to stretch their 
legs when the chance offered. 

This feeling was experienced by two out of the three passen- 
gers in the London coach ' Tantivy,' which on a certain afternoon 
in May, at the end of the last century, drew up at the ' White 
Hart ' in the town of Banbury : it was their last ' stopping-stage ' 
before they arrived at their destination Stratford-on-Avon and 
they wished (at least two of them did) that they had reached 
it already. 

Mr. Samuel Erin, the senior and head of the little party, was 
a man of about sixty years of age, but looked somewhat older. 
He still wore the attire which had been usual in his youth, but 
was now pronounced old-fashioned : a powdered wig of moderate 
dimensions ; a plain braided frock-coat, with waistcoat to match, 
almost as long ; a hat turned up before and behind, and looking 
like a cross between a cocked hat and the head-gear of a modern 
archdeacon ; knee-breeches, and buckled shoes. Upon his fore- 
head their ordinary resting-place when he was not engaged in 
his profession (that of a draughtsman), or poring over some musty 
volume reposed, on a bed, of wrinkles, a pair of gold spectacles. 
His eyes, which, without being very keen, were intelligent enough, 
appeared smaller than they really were, from a habit that he had 
of puckering their lids, engendered by the more delicate work 
of his calling, and also by frequent examination of old MSS. and 
rare editions, of which he was a connoisseur. 

As he left the coach with slow, inelastic step, he was followed 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 7 

by his friend Frank Dennis. This gentleman was a much 
younger man, but he too, though not so retrograde in attire as 
his senior, paid little attention to the prevailing fashion. He wore, 
indeed, his own hair, but closely cut ; a pepper-and-salt coat and 
waistcoat, and a neckcloth that looked like a towel tied carelessly 
under his chin. Though not in his first youth, he was still a 
young man, with frank and comely features ; but an expression 
habitually thoughtful, and a somewhat slow delivery of what he 
had to say, made him appear of maturer years than belonged to 
him. He was an architect by profession, but had some private 
means ; his tastes were somewhat similar to those of his friend 
and neighbour Erin, and he could better afford to indulge them. 
His present expedition was no business of his own, but under- 
taken, as he professed, that he might enjoy the other's society 
for a week or two in the country. It so happened, however, that 
Mr. Erin was bringing his niece, Miss Margaret Slade, with him, 
and, to judge by the tenderness of Mr. Dennis's glance when it 
rested on her, it is probable that the prospect of her companion- 
ship had had some attraction for him. 

Last of the three, she tripped out of the coach, declining, 
with a pretty toss of her head, the assistance the younger man 
would have rendered her in alighting. She could trip and toss 
her head like any fairy. No tower of hair ' like a porter's knot set 
upon end ' had she ; her dress, though to modern eyes very short- 
waisted, was not, as an annalist of her time had described it, 
' drawn exceeding close over stays drawn still closer ; ' her move- 
ments were light and free. Her lustrous brown hair fell in natural 
waves from under a beaver hat turned up on the left side, and 
ornamented with one grey feather. A grey silk spencer indicated, 
under pretence of concealing for it was summer weather, and 
she could not have worn it for warmth the graces of her form. 
Her eyes were bright and eager, and her pretty lips murmured a 
sigh of relief, as she touched ground, at her release from durance. 

4 How I wish this was Stratford-on-Avon ! ' cried she naively. 

* That would be wishing that Shakespeare had been born at 
Banbury,' said her uncle in a tone of reproof. 

' Banbury is it ? ' she said ; ' then this is where the lady lived 
who went about with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes ; 
and therefore had music wherever she goes I mean went.' 

Mr. Dennis smiled and murmured very slowly that other 
young ladies brought music with them without the instruments 



8 THE TALK OF THE TOWN 

of which she spoke, or indeed any instruments ; they had only to 
open their mouths. 

4 1 am hungry,' observed Miss Margaret, without any refer- 
ence to that remark about opening her mouth at all in fact, she 
studiously ignored it. 

Mr. Dennis sighed. 

He was that minority of one who would rather have remained in 
the coach that is, if Miss Margaret had done likewise ; he would 
not in the least have objected to Mr. Samuel Erin getting out. A 
circumstance over which he had no control, the fact of his having 
been born half a century too early, prevented his being acquainted 
with the poem in which Mr. Thomas Moore describes the pleasure 
he felt in travelling in a stage-coach with a fair companion ; but 
he had experienced it all the same. He was not displeased that 
there was another stage to come yet. 

If he was satisfied, however, with the opportunities that had 
been afforded to him of making himself agreeable to Miss Margaret 
on the road, he must have been a man thankful for small mercies. 
She had given him very little encouragement. His attempts 
to engage her in conversation had been anything but successful. 
When a young lady wishes to be tender, we know that the mere 
offer to open or shut a coach-window for her may lead to volumes of 
small talk, but nothing had come of his little politenesses beyond 
the bare acknowledgment of them. Even that, however, was some- 
thing. An ' I thank you, sir,' from the pretty lips of Margaret 
Slade was to Mr. Frank Dennis more than the acceptance of plan, 
elevation and section of any proposed town-hall from a municipal 
council. It is strange how much harder is the heart of the female 
than the male under certain circumstances. If a young lady 
obviously endeavours to make herself agreeable to a young gentle- 
man, he never repulses her, or at least I have never known an 
instance of it. ' But suppose,' I hear some fair one inquire, ' he 
should be engaged to be married to someone else ? ' < Madam,' I 
reply to that imaginary questioner, < it would not make one half- 
penny worth of difference. If the other young woman was not 
there, you would never guess from his behaviour that she was in 
existence.' 

It must not, however, be concluded from this observation that 
Miss Margaret Slade was in love with anybody else. She was but 
seventeen at most ; an age at which among well-conducted young 
persons no such idea enters the head, nor indeed, in her case, 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 9 

as one would think, had there been any opportunity for its en- 
trance. She had been brought up in the country in seclusion, 
and only a few months ago, upon the death of Mrs. Erin, had 
been sent for by her uncle to keep house for him. His establish- 
ment in Norfolk Street, Strand, was a very simple one, and the 
company he entertained numbered none of those who, in the 
language of the day, were called ' the votaries of Cupid.' No 
young beaux ever so much as crossed the threshold. Mr. Erin's 
visitors were all grave elderly gentlemen, more interested in a 
binding than in a petticoat, and preferring some old-world 
volume to a maiden in her spring-time. There was indeed, 
' though,' as the song says, ' it is hardly worth while to put that 
in,' a son of Mr. Erin's, of her own age, who dwelt in his father's 
house. But the young man was out all day engaged in his pro- 
fessional avocation that of a conveyancer's clerk and even when 
he returned at eve, mixed but little with the family. It seemed 
to Margaret that his father did not treat him very kindly. 

There had been only one mention of him in the long coach 
journey from town. Mr. Dennis, addressing himself as usual to 
Margaret, when a chance offered of interrupting Mr. Erin's inter- 
minable talk upon antiquarian subjects, had inquired after her 
cousin William Henry, and she had replied, with the least rose 
tint of a blush, that he had gone, she believed, on some business 
of his employer to Bristol. A statement which her uncle had 
corroborated, adding drily, * The boy has asked to have his holiday 
with us now, instead of later in the year, so I have told him to 
come on to Stratford ; he may be useful to me in collecting infor- 
mation upon Shakespearian matters.' 

The remark scarcely breathed the spirit of a doating parent, 
but then that was not Mr. Erin's way. 

'Your son has made a good choice of locality,' said Mr. Dennis, 
in his rather ponderous manner. ' It is not every young fellow 
who would choose Stratford-on-Avon to disport himself in, in pre- 
ference to Tunbridge Wells for instance ; his taste for antiqui- 
ties is certainly most remarkable. He will prove a chip of the old 
block, I'll warrant,' he added, with a sidelong smile at Margaret. 
Margaret did not return his smile, though she did not frown 
as her uncle did. The fact was, though neither Margaret nor Mr. 
Dennis had the faintest idea of it, the latter could hardly have 
paid the old gentleman a more objectionable compliment. 

* I do not think,' he replied coldly, after an unpleasant pause 



10 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

< that William Henry cares much about Shakespeare ; but he has 
probably asked for his holiday thus early, in hopes that, by hook 
or by crook, he may get another one later on.' 

To this there was no reply from either quarter. Mr. Dennis, 
though a good-natured fellow enough, did not feel called upon to 
defend William Henry's want of Shakespearian feeling against his 
parent, while Miss Margaret not only closed her mouth, but shut 
her eyes. If she slept, to judge by the expression of her face she 
had pleasant dreams ; but it is possible she was only pretending 
to sleep, in order to chew the cud of some sweet thought at 
greater leisure. She disagreed with her uncle about the motive 
that was bringing William Henry to Stratford, but was quite con- 
tent to accept the fact of which she had previously been ignorant 
without debate. She herself did not, I fear, care so much 
about Shakespeare as it behoved Mr. Samuel Erin's niece to do ; 
but from henceforth she looked forward with greater pleasure than 
she had done to this visit to his birthplace. Hungry as she had 
professed herself to be, she would no doubt have done justice to 
the ample, if somewhat solid, viands that were set before the coach 
passengers, and on which her uncle played his knife and fork like 
a man who knows he will be charged the same whether he eats 
much or little, but for an unlooked-for circumstance. 

Hardly had the meal commenced when the cheerful note of the 
horn announced the approach of a coach from some other quarter, 
the tenants of which presently crowded into the common dining- 
room ; among them was a young gentleman, who, without a glance 
at beef or pasty, at once made up to our party of three. 

His first salutation, contrary to the laws of etiquette, was made 
to Mr. Erin. 

* Hullo ! ' said that gentleman, unwillingly relinquishing his 
knife and holding out two fingers to the new-comer, 'what brings 
you here, sir ? ' 

' The Banbury coach, sir. I came across country from Bristol 
in the hopes of catching you at this stage, which I have fortunately 
succeeded in doing.' 

' Humph ! it seems to me you must have come miles out of the 
way ; however, since you are here, you had better set to on the 
victuals and save your supper at Stratford.' 

Mr. Dennis shook hands with the young man cordially enough 
and recommended the meat pie. 

Miss Margaret just lifted her eyes from her plate and gave 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



11 



him a smile of welcome, but at the same time she moved a little 
towards the top of the table, so as to leave a space for him on the 
other side of her, an invitation which he lost no time in accepting. 
A scornful poet, whose appetite was considerably jaded, has 
expressed his disgust at seeing women eat ; but women, I have 




noticed, take great pleasure in seeing men, for whom they have 
any regard, relish a hearty meal. The new-comer ate as only a 
young gentleman who has travelled for hours on a coach-top can 
eat, and Margaret so enjoyed the spectacle that she neglected her 
own opportunities in that way, to watch him. < The ardour with 



12 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

which you attack that veal, Willie,' she whispered slily, 'reminds 
me of the Prodigal Son after his diet of husks.' 

< Did you think the manner in which my arrival was welcomed 
in other respects, Maggie,' he inquired bitterly, < carried out the 

parable ? ' 

' Never mind ; you are out for your holiday, remember, and 

must only think of enjoying yourself.' 

6 Well, I hope you are glad to see me, at all events.' 

' Well, of course I am ; it's a very unexpected pleasure.' 

4 Is it ? I should have thought you might have guessed that 

I should have managed to join you somehow.' 

' 1 have not your genius for plots and strategies, Willie ; it is 

so great that it sometimes a little alarms me,' she answered 

gravely. 

< The weak must take up such weapons as lay to their hand,' 
he replied drily. 

This conversation, carried on as it was in a low tone, was 
drowned by the clatter of knives and forks ; before the latter had 
ceased the notes of the horn were once more heard, the signal for 
the resumption of their journey. 

The party rose at once, Mr. Erin leading the way. He took 
no notice of his son as he pushed by him, but the neglect was 
more than compensated for by the attention of the female members 
of the company. 

William Henry was a very comely young fellow ; his complexion 
dark, but not swarthy; his eyes keen and bright; a profusion of 
black curling hair was tied by a ribbon under his hat, which -gave 
him a somewhat feminine appearance, though it was not unusual 
so to wear it ; his attire, though neat, was far from foppish a 
dark blue coat with a short light waistcoat ; a neckcloth by no 
means so large as was worn by many young persons in his station 
of life ; and nankeen breeches. 

If it is difficult for us to suppose such a costume becoming, it 
was easy for those who were accustomed to it to think so. His 
figure, it was observed, as he walked rapidly to overtake his father, 
was especially good. 

* I have made inquiries, Mr. Erin,' he said respectfully, as the 
old man placed his foot on the step, < and find there is plenty of 
room in the coach.' 

' You mean on the coach,' was the dry reply ; surely a young 
man like you leaving out of the question the ridiculous extrava- 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 13 

gance of such a proceeding would never wish to be an inside 
passenger on an afternoon like this.' And with a puff, half of dis- 
pleasure, half of exhaustion, caused by the effort of the ascent, 
the antiquary sank into his seat. 

* Do you not ride with us ? ' inquired Mr. Dennis good- 
naturedly, as he came up to the door with Margaret upon his arm. 

The young man's cheeks flushed with anger. 

' You do not know William Henry,' said the girl, interposing 
with a smile ; ' he does not care for the nest when he can sit upon 
the bough.' 

' It is pleasahter outside for somethings no doubt,' assented 
Mr. Dennis, as he assisted her into the coach. She cast a sym- 
pathising glance over her shoulder at William Henry, as he swung 
himself up to the hind seat, and he returned it with a grateful 
look. She had saved him from a humiliation. 

It was a warm evening, as his father had observed, but in one 
sense he had been turned out into the cold, and he felt it bitterly. 



CHAPTER III. 

A RECITATION. 

THERE is one spot, and only one, in all England, which can in 
any general sense be called hallowed sacred to the memory of 
departed man. Priests and kings have done their best for other 
places, with small effect ; here and there, as in Westminster Abbey, 
an attempt has been made to make sacred soil by collecting together 
the bones of our greatest men warriors, authors, divines, states- 
men but these various elements do not kindly mix : the devo- 
tion we would pay to our own particular idol is chilled perhaps by 
the neighbourhood of those with whom we feel no particular 
sympathy. In all cathedrals, too, there is a certain religious feel- 
ing, artificial as the light which finds its way through the 
4 prophets blazoned on its panes ;' it is difficult in them to feel 
enthusiasm. In other places, again, exposed to the free air of 
heaven, association is weakened by external influences. I, at 
least, only know of one place where nature, as it were, effaces 
herself, and becomes the setting and framework to the epitaph of 
a dead man. It is Stratford-on-Avon. 

There, save once a year, when Shakespeare's birthday is com- 
memorated, fashion brings but few persons to simulate admiration. 



14 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

It is not, as at some great funeral, where curiosity or official posi- 
tion or other extraneous motive brings men together to do honour 
to the departed ; they come like humble friends, to pay tribute to 
one whom they not only admire, but revere, to this little Warwick- 
shire town. It is too remote from the places where men congre- 
gate to entice the thoughtless crowd ; nor has it any attractions 
save its associations with that marvellous mind, of which the crowd 
has but a vague and cold conception. It is, to my poor thinking, 
a very comfortable sign of the advance of human intelligence that, 
year after year, in hundreds and in thousands, but not in crowds 
for they arrive alone, or in twos or threes together there 
come, from the uttermost parts of our island, and even from 
the ends of the earth, more and more pilgrims to this simple 
shrine. 

In the days of which I write, Stratford, of course, had far fewer 
visitors than at present ; but those it did have were certainly not 
inferior in enthusiasm. Indeed, it was a time when Shakespeare, 
if not more read than now, was certainly more talked about and 
thought about. His plays were much oftener acted. The theatre 
occupied a much higher position in society. Kemble and his 
majestic sister, Mrs. Siddons, trod the boards ; quotations from 
Shakespeare were as common in the mouths of clerks and counter- 
jumpers as are now the most taking rhymes from a favourite bur- 
lesque ; even the paterfamilias who did not ' hold by ' stage-plays 
made an exception in honour of the Bard of Avon. In literary 
circles an incessant war was waging concerning him ; pamphlet 
after pamphlet attack and rejoinder was published almost 
every week by this or that partisan of a phrase, or discoverer of a 
new reading. Mr. Samuel Erin was in the fore part of this con- 
test, and, as a rule, as a stickler for the text. He opposed the 
advocates for change in the same terms which Dr. Johnson used 
to reformers in politics. The Devil, he was wont to say, was the 
first commentator. The famous Shakespearian critic Malone was 
the object of his special aversion, which was most cordially recipro- 
cated, and often had they transfixed one another with pens dipped 
in gall. 

It was curious, since the object of Mr. Erin's adoration has 
taken such pains to instil gentleness and feeling among his fellow- 
creatures, that his disciple should have harboured the sentiments 
he sometimes expressed ; and yet it is hardly to be wondered at 
when one remembers that the advocates of Christianity itself 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 15 

have fallen into the same error, and from the same cause. Mr. 
Samuel Erin was not only a devotee, but a fanatic. 

As the coach crossed the river, near their journey's end, Mr. 
Dennis broke a long silence by a reference to the beauty of the 
scenery, which his friend had come professionally to illustrate. 

4 Here is a pretty bit of river for your pencil, Mr. Erin.' 

4 Hush, hush,' rejoined that gentleman reprovingly ; ' it is the 
Avon. We are on the threshold of His very birthplace.' 

It was on the tip of Mr. Dennis's tongue, who had been think- 
ing of nothing but Margaret for the last half-hour, to inquire 
4 Whose birthplace ?' which would have lost him the other's friend- 
ship for ever. Fortunately he recollected himself (and Shake- 
peare) just in time, and in some trepidation at his narrow escape, 
which his friend took for reverential awe, murmured some more 
suitable reply. 

William Henry, on the other hand, was not so fortunate. At 
the instigation of the guard (who had a commission from the inn- 
keeper on the guests he brought him), he leant down from the 
coach-top to inquire which house Mr. Erin meant to patronise, 
suggesting that the party should put up at the Stratford Arms, 
as being the best accommodation. 

' You fool ! ' roared the old gentleman ; ' we put up at the 
" Falcon " of course. The idea,' he continued indignantly, ' of our 
going elsewhere when the opportunity is afforded us of residing 
under the very roof which once sheltered our immortal bard.' 

* Shakespeare did not live at an inn, did he, uncle ? ' inquired 
Margaret demurely. She knew perfectly well that he had not 
done so, but was unwilling to let this outburst against her cousin 
pass by without some kind of protest. 

6 Well, no,' admitted Mr. Erin ; < but he lived just opposite to 
it, and, it is supposed indeed, it may be reasonably concluded 
that he patronised it for his ahem convivial entertainments.' 

4 1 suppose there is some foundation for the story of the 
" Topers " and the " Sippers," ' observed Dennis, < and for the 
bard being found under the crab-tree vino et somno.' 

'There may be, there may be,' returned the other indif- 
ferently ; < but, as for Shakespeare being beaten, even in a contest 
of potations, that is entirely out of the question. It was not in 
the nature of the man. If he ran, he would run quickest ; if he 
jumped, he would jump highest ; and if he drank, he would un- 
doubtedly have drunk deeper than anybody else.' 



16 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

The < Falcon ' inn had no great extent of accommodation it 
was perhaps too full of ' association ' for it but Margaret had a neat 
chamber enough; and, since it looked on the Guild Chapel and 
Grammar School, where Shakespeare had been educated, and on 
the walls which surrounded the spot where he had spent his latter 
days, the niece of her uncle could hardly have anything to com- 
plain of. The young men had an attic apiece. As to what sort of 
a room was assigned to Mr. Samuel Erin, he could not have told 
you himself, for he took no notice of it. His head was always out 
of the window. It was his first sight of the shrine of his idol, and 
the very air seemed to be laden with incense from it. 

To think that that long, low tenement yonder, with the pro- 
j ecting front, was the very house in which Shakespeare had ' crept 
unwillingly to school,' that his young feet had helped to wear those 
very stones away, and that that ancient archway had echoed his 
very tones, sent a thrill of awe through him such as could only be 
compared with that felt by some mediaeval beholder of 6 a bit of the 
true cross.' But in that case, Faith and a good deal of it had 
been essential to conviction ; whereas in this the facts were in- 
disputable. Behind yonder walls, too, stood the house to which, 
full of honour, though not of years, he had retired to spend 
that leisure in old age which he had desiderated more than most 
men. 

The aim of all is but to crown the life 

With honour, wealth, and ease in waning age.' 

were the words Mr. Erin repeated to himself with mystic devotion, 
as a peasant mutters a Latin prayer. He had no poetic gifts 
himself, nor was he even a critic in a high sense ; but his long 
application to Shakespearian literature had given him some re- 
flected light. What he understood of it he understood thoroughly; 
what was too high for his moderate, though by no means dwarfish 
intelligence, to grasp, or what through intermediate perversion was 
unintelligible, he not only took on trust, but accepted as reveren- 
tially as did those who were wont to consult her, the utterances 
of the Sibyl. In literature we have few such fanatics as Samuel 
Erin now ; but in art he has many modern parallels men who, 
having once convinced themselves that a painting is by Eubens 
or Titian, will see in it a hundred merits where there are not half 
a dozen, and even discover beauties in its spots and blemishes. 

While the head of the little party was thus in the seventh 
heaven of happiness above-stairs, the junior members of it had 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 17 

assembled together in the common sitting-room ; the landlady had 
inquired what refreshments they would please to have, and tea 
.had been ordered, rather with a view of putting a stop to her im- 
portunities than, because, after that ample meal at Banbury, they 
stood in need of any food. 

* If your uncle were here, Maggie,' said William Henry, not 
perhaps without some remembrance of the snubbing he had just 
received from the old gentleman, and from which he was still 
smarting, ' he would be ordering " sherrie sack," or " cakes and 
ale.'" 

Margaret glanced at him reprovingly, but said nothing. She 
regretted that he took such little pains to bridge the breach that 
evidently existed between his father and himself, and always dis- 
couraged his pert sallies. William Henry hung his head if he 
did not find sympathy with his cousin, he could, he thought, find 
it nowhere. 

Frank Dennis, however, came to his rescue. He either did 
not look upon the penniless, friendless lad as a real rival, or he was 
very magnanimous. 

* And how did you enjoy your trip to Bristol ? ' he inquired. 
' St. Mary's Kedcliffe is a fine church, is it not ? ' 

' Yes indeed ; I paid a visit to the turret, where the papers 
were stored to which Chatterton had access, and from which he 
drew the Rowley poems.' 

' How interesting ! ' exclaimed Margaret ; it was plain by her 
tone that she wanted to make amends to the young fellow. < Are 
any of his people still at Bristol ? ' 

* Oh yes, his sister lives there, a Mrs. Newton. I had a great deal 
of talk with her. She told me how angry he was with her on one 
occasion when she cut up some old deeds and other things he had 
brought home with him, and which she had thought valueless, to 
make into threadpapers ; he collected them together, threadpapers 
and all, and carried them into his own room.' 

6 Considering the use the poor young fellow made of them,' 
observed Dennis gravely, ' she had better have burnt them.' 

4 Still they did give him a certain spurious immortality,' put 
in Margaret pitifully. < The other was out of his reach.' 

' Surely, my dear Miss Slade, you cannot mean that ? ' remon- 
strated Dennis gently. 

< At all events, everybody was very hard upon him just because 
they were taken in,' argued Margaret. If he had acknowledged 



18 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

what they admired so much to have been his own, they would 
have seen nothing in it to admire. I think Horace Walpole 
behaved like a brute.' 

'That is very true,' admitted Dennis. 'Still the lad was a 

forger.' 

'People are not starved to death, as he was, even for torgmg, 
rejoined Margaret. 'His own people, too, did not care about him. 
He had no friends, poor fellow ! ' 

Dennis listened to her with pleasure though he thought her 
too lenient because she took the side of the oppressed. William 
Henry was even more grateful, because he secretly compared his 
own position with that of Chatterton for he too had written 
poems which nobody thought much of and guessed that Margaret 
had his own case in her eye. 

' Amongst other things that Mrs. Newton told me,' continued 
William Henry, ' was that her brother was very reserved and fond 
of seclusion. On one occasion he was most severely chastised for 
having absented himself for half a day from home. He did not 
shed a tear but only observed that it was hard indeed to be 
whipped for reading,' 

'It was certainly most unfortunate,' admitted Dennis, 'that 
the boy was amongst persons who did not understand him.' 

' And who, though they were his own flesh and blood, treated 
him with contempt and cruelty,' added Margaret with indignation. 
' Did this sister of his never give him credit for possessing talent 
even ? ' 

' She thought him odd as a child, it seems,' answered William 
Henry. 'He preferred to be taught his letters from an old 
black-letter Bible rather than from any book of modern type. 
He seems to have had a natural leaning for the line that he took 
in life.' 

' In other words you think he was born with a turn for forgery,' 
observed Dennis drily. ' That is not a very high compliment to 
him, nor indeed to Providence either.' 

' But how else could he have become celebrated ? ' argued the 
young man impatiently. 

' Is it necessary then, my lad, to become celebrated ? ' inquired 
Dennis smiling. 

' I don't say necessary, but it must be very nice.' 

' The same thing may be said of most of our vices,' answered 
the other drily. Frank Dennis often spoke the words of wisdom, 






THE TALK OF THE TOWN 19 

fr, ("!* 

but spoke" them cut and dried, like proverbs from a copy-book. 
He was an excellent fellow, but not quite human enough for 
ordinary use. Margaret would have liked him better perhaps if 
he had been a trifle worse. The pedagogic tone in which he had 
spoken to her cousin, and his use of the words ' my lad,' which 
as she argued to herself (quite wrongly) he must know were 
very offensive to him, irritated her a little. She felt that William 
Henry had been schooled enough and wanted encouragement. 

'Did you get any inspiration from the turret of St. Mary 
Redcliffe ? ' she inquired. 

'Well, yes,' he answered blushing, and a blush very well 
became his handsome face ; ' I did perpetrate ' 

'Some mischief, I'll warrant,' exclaimed a harsh, disdainful 
voice. It was that of Mr. Samuel Erin, who had entered the room 
unobserved. ' And what was it you perpetrated, sir ? ' 

William Henry looked abashed and annoyed. Margaret, though 
she stood in no little fear of her uncle, could hardly restrain her 
indignation. Frank Dennis as usual interposed with the oil can. 

' Your son has only written a poem, Mr. Erin, which in so young 
a man can hardly be considered a crime.' 

' I don't know that, if the poem as it probably was was a bad 
one. If he has committed it' here the old gentleman's face 
softened, as under the influence of the infrequent and home- 
made joke the grimmest face will do ' he has doubtless com- 
mitted it to memory. Come, sir, let us have it ! ' 

Now, as of all the pleasant moments which mitigate this pain- 
ful life, there are none more charming than those passed in the 
recital of a poem of our own composition to (one pair of) loving 
ears, so there are none more embarrassing than those which are 
occupied in doing the same thing before an unsympathetic 
audience. Imagine poor Shelley condemned to recite his ' Sky- 
lark ' or Keats his ' Nightingale ' to a vestry meeting ! That 
would indeed be bad enough ; but if the bard himself is conscious 
that he has no skylark or nightingale, but only a torn-tit or 
yellowhammer, to let fly for their edification, how much more 
terrible must be his position ! Poor William Henry was in even 
worse case, for one of his audience as he well knew was not only 
not en rapport with him, but antagonistic, a hostile critic. I once 
beheld a shivering school-boy compelled to make an extempore 
ode to the moon to a circle of his fellow-students armed with 
towels knotted at the end, to flick him with if his muse should be 



20 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

considered unsatisfactory. Except that he was not in his night- 
shirt, as my young friend was, poor William Henry's position was 
almost as bad, and yet he dared not refuse to obey the paternal 
mandate. 

1 They are only a very few verses, sir,' he stammered. 

'The fewer the better,' said Mr. Erin. He meant it for an 
encouragement, no doubt, a sort of < so far the Court is with you,' 
but it had not an encouraging effect upon his son. It seemed to 
him that he had just swallowed a pint of vinegar. 

< Leave off those damnable faces and begin,' exclaimed Mr. 
Erin. It was only a quotation from his favourite bard, and not an 
inappropriate one, but it did not sound kind. 

( It is brutal,' murmured Margaret under her breath, and at 
the same time she cast a glance of ineffable pity at the victim. 
It was like a ray of sunshine upon a chill day, at sight of which 
the bird bursts into song. 

< The lines are on Chatterton,' he began by way of prelude : 

Comfort and joys for ever fled, 

He ne'er will warble more ; 
Ah me ! the sweetest youth is dead 

That e'er tuned reed before. 
The hand of misery laid him low, 

E'en hope forsook his brain ; 
Eelentless man contemned his woe 

To him he sighed in vain. 
Oppressed with want in wild despair he cried, 
' No more I'll live 1 ' swallowed the draught, and died. 

Mr. Samuel Erin looked as if he had swallowed a draught ; one 
of those recommended to persons suffering from the effects of 
poison. 

6 Shade of Shakespeare ! ' he cried, ' do you call that a poem ? ' 

William Henry murmured something in mitigation about its 
being an acrostic. The old gentleman's sense of hearing was not 
acute, and led him to imagine he was being reproached for his 
surliness. He turned as red as a turkey-cock. 

Margaret also flushed to her forehead ; she too had misunder- 
stood what her cousin had said, and the more easily because the 
words she thought he had used (a cross stick) were so appropriate. 
But how could he, could he, thus give reins to his temper ! 

Lastly, Frank Dennis became a brilliant scarlet. He was half 
suffocated with suppressed laughter. Still, true to his mission of 
peacemaker, he contrived to splutter out that when a poem was 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 21 

an acrostic, such perfection was not to be looked for as when the 
Muse was unfettered. 

< Oh, that's it, is it ? ' said Mr. Erin grimly. ' I've heard of young 
men wasting their time and, what is worse, the time of their 
employers, in many ways ; but that they should take to writing 
acrostics seems to me the ne phis ultra of human folly. Bah ! 
give me a dish of tea.' 



CHAPTER IV. 

A REAL ENTHUSIAST. 

I AM afraid it is rather taken for granted by parents in general, as 
regards any behaviour they may adopt towards their offspring, 
that Religion is always upon their own side. And yet there is a 
very noteworthy text about ; provoking our children to wrath,' 
which it is a mistake to ignore. Wise and reverend Signors may 
well have learnt by experience to take trifling annoyances with 
equanimity ; but the amour propre of the young is a tender shoot 
and very sensitive to rough handling. The most sensitive plant 
of all is the lad with a turn for literature, and, as a rule, parents 
have the least patience with him. When the turn is not a mere 
taste, but a natural gift, this doesn't much matter : no true flame 
was ever put out by the breath of contempt : but when it halts 
midway the youth has a bad time of it. He shivers at every 
sneer without the means of giving it the lie. ' Like a dart it 
strikes to his liver,' because his armour, unlike that of true genius, 
is not arrow-proof. He knows that he is not the fool that his 
folk take him for, but he has an uneasy consciousness that they 
are partly right ; that his powers are not equal to his pretensions. 
This was the case with William Henry Erin. 

He had a turn for literature, and if an uncommon facility for 
writing indifferent verses is any proof of it, even for poetry ; and 
he found nobody to admit it, not even Margaret. * It is very good, 
Willie, for a first attempt,' was the fatal eulogium she once passed 
upon the most cherished of his poetical productions ; and his father, 
as we have seen, made no scruple of ridiculing his literary efforts. 
If the boy's predilection for such matters had interfered with his 
professional duties, it might have been excusable enough; but 
the conveyancers to whom William Henry was articled were quite 
satisfied with him. He was very careful and diligent, and though 



22 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

he had come to years of indiscretion, far from dissipated. ^If he 







ness, and at the 
slights to which his 
muse was exposed at 
his unsympathising 
hands. He had never 
had anyone to sym- 
pathise with his 
poetical aspirations 
except his friend 
Eeginald Talbot, a 
fellow-clerk of his 
own age, who was 
also devoted to the 
Muses ; and Talbot's 
praise had its draw- 
backs. First, he did 
not think it worth 
much, and second- 
ly, it could not be 
obtained without 
reciprocity ; and it 
went against Wil- 
liam Henry's con- 
science to praise 
Talbot's poems. 

'Well,' thought 
the young man, as 
he looked out of his 

attic window, which commanded a distant view of Stratford 
Church, ' there lies a man who was as little appreciated at my age 
as I am : and yet he made some noise in the world. He, too, some 
say, was a scrivener's clerk. He, too, was called Will, which is at 
least an interesting coincidence. He, too, fell in love at my age.' 
Here his reflections ended with a sigh, for the parallel extended 
no further. Shakespeare had not only wooed, but with a little 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 23 

too much ease, indeed had won; whereas Margaret Slade was 
far out of his reach. He had a shrewd suspicion that Mr. Erin 
intended her to marry Dennis, and had brought him down with 
him to Stratford ' to throw the young people together,' as he 
would doubtless express it. Young people, indeed ! why, Frank 
Dennis was old enough well, scarcely, to be her father, unless he 
had been unusually precocious, but certainly to know better. 
6 Hoary age ' the man was thirty if he was a day < and youth 
cannot live together.' It was a most monstrous proposition ! On 
the other hand, what could he, poor William Henry, do ? If he 
could persuade Maggie to run away with him to-morrow, they 
must literally run, for he had hardly money enough, after that 
Bristol trip, to pay the first pike out of Stratford, and far less a 
post-chaise. 

As he thought of his unacknowledged merits and of the many 
obstacles to his union, he grew bitter against the whole scheme 
of creation. If poetic impulse could have projected him fifty years 
forward, he would, doubtless, have exclaimed with the bard of Bon 

Graultier 

Cuss the clerk and cuss the parson, 
Cuss, oh, cuss the whole concern 1 

but not having that vent for his feelings he only loosened his neck- 
cloth a bit and looked moody. Poor fellow! he had but two wishes 
in the world to marry Margaret, and to get into print, and both 
these desires, just because he had no money, were denied him. 

At that very time, Margaret at her window was thinking of 
him. She was not she was certain she was not, the idea was 
quite ridiculous in love with him ; but, thanks to his father's 
conduct, she felt that pity for him which is akin to love. And 
he was certainly very handsome, and very fond of her. He had 
been foolish to come down to Stratford when it was clear her uncle 
didn't want him ; but it was ' very nice of him,' too, and since he 
was there and upon his holiday his one holiday in the year, poor 
fellow it was cruel to snub him ! Frank Dennis didn't snub him, 
that she would say for Frank: he was a kind, honest fellow, 
though rather old-fashioned, and just a trifle heavy in hand. She 
wished William Henry would talk like him when addressing his 
father ; though when addressing her, she confessed to herself that 
she preferred William Henry's way. It was really distressing to 
see her uncle and his son together ; they mixed no better than oil 
and vinegar. She was well pleased to remember that Mr. Jervis, 



24 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

the Stratford poet, was coming that morning to breakfast with 
them, since his presence would prevent anything unseemly; 
moreover he would probably take her uncle and Frank Dennis 
away with him to investigate antiquities, which would leave 
William Henry and herself to themselves. 

John Jervis was but a carpenter in a small way of business, but 
he was much respected in the town, and had made himself a name 
beyond it, on account of the interest he took in all Shakespearian 
matters. The gentry in the neighbourhood spoke of him as * a 
civil and inoffensive creature,' but he was * corresponded with ' by 
men of letters and learning in London. His position would have 
been better than it was had he not been so foolish as to publish 
a volume of poems to be paid by subscription. This had sub- 
jected him to something much worse than criticism to patronage. 
Everyone who had advanced a few shillings for the appearance of 
that unfortunate volume became in a sense his master, and some 
of them exacted interest for their investment in advice, remon- 
strance, and dictation. It was a foolish thing of John Jervis to 
set up his trade not carpentering, but the other in Stratford- 
on-Avon. In Paisley there are, I have heard say, at this present 
moment fifty poets, all complaining that the world which will 
give them a monument after their death, in the meantime permits 
them to starve ; but Paisley is a place which is scarcely poetic to 
begin with, whereas to be a local poet in Stratford was like setting 
up a shed for small coal in Newcastle. The good man had 
become quite aware of this by this time ; he was very dissatisfied 
with his published productions (it is a common case ; what we 
have in our desk seems as superior to what lies on our table, as 
that which moves ia our brain is to what lies in our desk). He 
would have given as much to suppress his little volume as William 
Henry would have given to get his sown broadcast over an admir- 
ing land. And yet there was no question of comparison between 
them as respected merit. John Jervis was, within certain narrow 
limits, a true poet : what he saw he noted, what he noted he felt ; 
so far he followed his great master. He even emitted a modest 
light of his own, which was not reflected : he was not a star but 
he was a glow-worm. Most of us are but worms without the glow. 

Everyone who came to Stratford at that time for Shakespeare's 
sake and no one came for any other reason was recommended to 
apply to John Jervis for information. On receiving any summons 
of this nature he put aside his carpenter's tools, took off his apron, 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 25 

and donned his sabbath garb. A carpenter in his Sunday clothes in 
these days is a sad sight : he represents one branch of his business 
only, that of the undertaker ; but in the times of which we write 
it was not so. Wigs were not yet gone out of fashion in Warwick- 
shire, but John Jervis could not afford what was called the 
* Citizen's Sunday Buckle ' or ' Bob Major,' because it had three 
tiers of curls. He had too much good taste to use the ' Minor 
Bob ' or Hair Cap, short in the neck to show the stock buckle, and 
stroked away from the face so as to seem (like Tristram Shandy) 
as though the wearer had been skating against the wind. 
He wore his own grey hair and a modest grey suit, in which, 
however, none but a flippant young fellow like Master William 
Henry Erin could have likened him to a master baker. His face 
was homely but pleasant, and had a certain dignity ; his manner 
retiring but not reticent. It was his business to answer questions, 
but he did not volunteer information. He had, indeed, a secret 
contempt for the majority of his clients ; they had more appetite 
for the Shakespearian husks, the few dry details that could be 
picked up concerning their Idol, than for the corn what manner 
of man he had been in spirit, or how the scenery about his home 
had affected his writings. Jervis found Mr. Erin to be no better 
than his other visitors : hungry for facts, greedy for particulars, 
and combative. He talked of the Confession of Faith found in 
the roof of the house, in Henley Street, and rubbed his hands, 
notwithstanding that his enemy had since retracted his belief, over 
Malone's credulity. 

' " An unworthy member of the Holy Catholic religion," indeed ! 
It is monstrous, incredible.' 

' That phrase had reference to the father, however,' observed 
Jervis. 

' True, but that was the art of the forger, himself of the old 
faith, no doubt. He wished to make our Shakespeare a born 
Papist. Now, that he was a good Protestant is indubitable. " I'd 
beat him like a dog," says Sir Andrew. " What ! for being a 
Puritan ? " returns Sir Toby. What irony ! You are of my opinion, 
I hope, Mr. Jervis ? ' 

'I have scarcely formed an opinion upon the matter,' was 
the modest reply. ' Shakespeare was Catholic in one sense ; 
but I agree with you that he was not one to be much comforted 
by the " holy sacrifice of the mass," as the so-called Confession 
put it.' 

VOL. III. NO. 13, N. S. 2 



, 6 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



Jears abead of his contemporaries, who were burmng Franc ls Kett 



Mr ifinn was no, uu u whether Kett was a Protestant or a 
Catholic (on which depended his view of the circumstance) : so 

>nl ^ You meaner. Jervis,' said Margaret timidly, < that in 
Shakespeare's eyes there were no heretics ? ' 

The man in grey looked at his gentle inquirer and bowed his 
head assentingly. None, as I think, young lady, save those who 
disbelieved in good.' 

'That is not established,' said Mr. Erin argumentatively. 

'I am afraid your uncle thinks me a heretic,' said Mr. Jervis 
smiling. Then perceiving that Margaret looked interested, he told 
her of the marvellous boy name unknown, but whose fame still 
survived _ w ho had been Shakespeare's contemporary at Stratford. 
How, so the legend ran, he had been thought his equal in genius, 
and his future greatness been prophesied with the same con- 
fidence, but who had died in youth, a mute, inglorious Shake- 
speare. 

< I often picture to myself,' said the old man dreamily, < the 

friendship of those two boys.' 

Do you think they went out poaching together ? ' inquired 
William Henry demurely. He was not without humour, and was 
also perhaps a little jealous of the attention Margaret paid their 
visitor. 

Poaching ! ' exclaimed Mr. Erin angrily, < how gross and con- 
temptible are your ideas, sir ! ' 

' Still,' interposed Dennis, his sense of justice aiding his 
wish to stand between Mr. Erin's wrath and its object Margaret's 
cousin * Shakespeare did transgress in that way. It is not likely 
that he strained at a hare if he swallowed a deer.' 

' No doubt he poached,' admitted Jervis gravely. * He was 
very human, and did all things that became a boy. But I was 
thinking rather of the companionship of the two boys than their 
pursuits. Their talk was not of hares nor of rabbits. How one 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 27 

would like to know their boyish confidences. What were their 
ambitions, their aspirations, their views of life ; which one was 
about to leave, and in which the other was to fill so large a space 
in the thoughts of man for ever. It was in this little town they 
lived and talked together; learnt their lessons from one book 
perhaps, in yonder school, each without a thought of the other's 
immortality, albeit of such different kinds.' 

^The solemnity of the speaker's manner, and the genuineness 
of feeling which his tone displayed, had no little effect upon his 
audience, but on each in a different way. Margaret's mind was 
stirred to its depths by this simple dream-picture, and seeing her 
so the two young men felt a touch of sympathy with it. 

* Is there any sure foundation to go upon as to this playmate 
of Shakespeare's ? ' inquired Mr. Erin, note-book in hand < any 
record, any document ? ' 

The visitor shook his head. ' Nothing, but wherever, in the 
country round, Shakespeare's youth is alluded to, this story of his 
friend is told. It is a local legend, that is all ; but it seems to 
me to have life in it. The world outside knows nothing of it. 
It interests itself in Shakespeare only, and but little in his belong- 
ings ; but with us, breathing the air he breathed, walking on the 
same ground he trod, things are different ; we still fancy him 
amongst us, and not alone. There is Hamnet, too ; we speak of 
Hainnet.' 

It was fortunate for William Henry that he repressed the 
observation that rose to his lips. He was about to say, ' You don't 
mean Hamlet, do you ? ' 

The same idea I am afraid occurred to Mr. Dennis, but for 
even a briefer space ; he felt that there must be some mistake 
somewhere ; but also that he himself might be making it. 

'Buried here, August the llth, 1596,' observed Mr. Erin, 
as though he was reading from the register itself. 

< Just so,' continued Jervis, ' only a little over two hundred 
years ago. He was eleven years old, too young to understand the 
greatness of him who begat him, yet old enough to have an 
inkling of it. Once a year or so, as it is believed, his father came 
home to Stratford fresh from the companionship of the great 
London wits and poets : Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, Camden, 
and Selden. What meetings must those have been with his only 
son ; the boy whom he fondly hoped, but hoped in vain, would 
inherit the proceeds of his fame. I wonder how his mother used 

22 



28 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

to speak of her husband to her children ! Did she excuse to them 
his long absence, his dwelling afar off, or did she inveigh against 
it ? Did she recognise the splendour of his genius, or did she only 
love him ? Or did she not love him ? ' 

<Let us hope she was not unworthy of him,' said Mr. Erin, his 
enthusiasm, stirred by the other's eloquence, rising on a stronger 
wing than usual. 

< As a wife she was sorely tried,' murmured Mr. Jervis. < I 
love to think of her less than of Hamnet, so lowly born in one 
sense, and in the other of such illustrious parentage. The news of 
his father's growing fame must have reached the boy, and the con- 
trast could not fail to have struck him. Then to have seen that 
father bending over his little bed, to have kissed that noble face, 
and felt himself in his embrace ; to have known that he was the 
child whom Shakespeare's soul loved best in all the world, what 
a sensation, what an experience ! ' 

4 Some mementoes of the immortal bard are, I hope, still to be 
purchased?' observed Mr. Erin curtly. He had engaged Mr. 
Jervis's services for practical purposes, and began to resent this 
waste of time which was money, upon sentimental hypothesis. 
Shakespeare's wife was a topic one could sympathise with ; there 
was documentary evidence in existence concerning her, but over 
little Hamnet's grave there was not even a tombstone. 

' Mementoes ? Yes, there is mulberry-wood enough to last 
some time,' said Mr. Jervis slily ; < you shall have your pick of 
them.' 

'ButnoMSS.?' 

' Not that I know of. There has been a report, however, of late 
that Mr. Williams, of Clopton House, has found some that were 
removed from New Place at the time of the fire.' 

' Great heavens ! ' exclaimed Mr. Erin with much excitement, 
* what, from New Place, Shakespeare's own home ? Let us go at 
once ; all other things can wait. William Henry, come along with 
us, and bring your little book. You can stay here with Maggie, 
Dennis, till I come back.' 

If he could have dispensed with the presence of John Jervis 
himself he would have been glad to do so ; for what is true of a 
feast is also true of treasure trove, < the fewer (the finders) the 
better the fare.' 



29 



TAGLIONL 

Dance light, for my heart it lies under your feet, love. 

John Francis Waller. 

I HAVE before me, as I write, the portrait of an old lady, seventy- 
five years of age. It is a very pleasing picture. The ample silver 
hair is dressed in quite an old-fashioned style ; parted in the 
centre, brushed smoothly down on either side, twisted coronet- 
fashion over the back of the head, and arranged in curls on the 
temples. The high, broad forehead is furrowed, but not too 
deeply, with wrinkles ; there is a double wrinkle beneath the eyes, 
and a small line at each corner of the mouth. The eyebrows are 
arched and well-defined, the eyes small and bright ; the mouth 
rather large, and, with the chin, almost masculine in character ; 
but as full of gentleness as of strength. Around the throat, the 
muscles of which are very strongly developed, is a fine white 
ruffle, fastened by a brooch with pendant. She wears a plain 
black silk dress, with a lace mantle covering the shoulders. The 
expression is thoroughly Italian, and the whole picture is that of 
an intelligent and very kindly old lady, to whom, if one had any 
trouble to tell, he would go in the confident hope of finding a 
shrewd and sympathetic counsellor. 

From a drawer by my side, I take another picture. It is a 
tattered and faded engraving of a ballet-dancer. She is about 
twenty years of age ; of an almost aerial grace and lightness of 
form ; with a face, not beautiful, but lively and piquant, with a 
childish simplicity and purity of expression. She is in the full 
dress of her art, but it is such as a young girl might wear with no 
feeling of immodesty. The arms are bare, the full muslin skirt 
reaches below the knee, and the tiny, well-shaped feet are cased 
in satin shoes. 

The first picture is that of Marie Taglioni, Comtesse de 
Voisins, as she was known to < troops of friends ' in the cheery 
winter of her life. The second is that of Marie Taglioni, the fore- 
most dancer in the world, at an age when few girls have made their 
first appearance on the stage. 

The young man of the present day, wrote Thackeray in < The 
JNewcomes,' will ' never see anything so graceful as Taglioni in 



30 TAGLIONI. 

La SylphideJ and, looking round on the theatres where ballet- 
dancing of a certain sort still flourishes, the statement may be 
repeated with equal truth to-day. In an age when dancing was a 
fine art, Taglioni took the leading place, almost at her first 
bound ; she kept it for nearly a quarter of a century against rivals 
who were second only to her ; and if her supremacy was not chal- 
lenged then, and has not been challenged since, we may hardly 
hope that it will be at a time when the dancer has sunk to the 
gymnast ; when ' poetry of motion ' is scoffed at ; and the lady 
who can ' kick highest ' and 'jump farthest ' commands the salary 
of a Prime Minister. There are more ballet-girls to-day than ever 
before, but amongst them there is no Taglioni. So much the 
better for the fame of Taglioni ; so much the worse for us. 

Marie Taglioni was born at Stockholm in 1804. Her father 
was Filippo Taglioni, to whom we may spare a word or two ; for 
he was a rather notable figure in the theatrical world of those 
days, and a very good fellow into the bargain. He married 
a daughter of Karsten, a famous tragedian and great singer in the 
reign of GKistavus III. of Sweden. The King loved so greatly to 
hear Karsten sing, that he had him to his bedside a few minutes 
before he died, and said with a sigh, ' Ah, my Karsten, I shall 
never hear your voice again.' 

The mother of Marie was very beautiful, and had a rare touch 
on the harp. Filippo, who lived to an almost patriarchal age, and 
enjoyed life to the day of his death, was ballet-master at the Court 
Theatre of Stockholm, under Grustavus III. He had travelled all 
Europe in his time, as dancer, ballet-master, and inventor of 
ballets and spectacles ; possessed a southern versatility of genius, 
and held higher notions than common of his profession. He was 
a good father and a merry fellow, but a very strict master. 

The Swedish and Italian bloods both showed in Marie ; who 
had the purity and simplicity of nature of the north, and all the 
fire, enthusiasm, and artistic energy of the south. She made up 
her mind at a very early age that she would be a dancer. ' I am 
going to dance upon the stage, father,' she said ; ' and I am going 
to be a great dancer ! ' And more than this, she declared that, 
sooner than take a second place on the stage, she would live and 
die a milliner. 

She began her training at the age of eight. 'The famous 
Mdlle. Taglioni,' says the late Button Cook, in a delightful gossip- 
ing article on 'The Corps de Ballet,' 'owed her success as a pre- 



TAGLIONI. 31 

miere danseuse to the extreme severity of her studies under her 
father. M. Taglioni was indeed the most exacting and inflexible 
of professors, and compelled his pupils to toil unceasingly. " Des 
sueurs abondantes, d'accablantes fatigues, des larmes, rien n'at- 
tendrissait le coaur de ce pere, revant la gloire pour un talent qui 
portait son nom." ' 

She was not at first a promising pupil ; at least, her class-mates 
were of that opinion, who said amongst themselves, with a fine en- 
gaging candour, that ' the dear Marie was both ugly and graceless.' 
' Est-ce que cette petite bossue,' they whispered, ' saura jamais 
danser ? ' All this, however, looks as though the ' petite bossue ' 
were in reality a very promising pupil indeed ; why, otherwise, 
should one be at such pains to disparage her ? Pere Taglioni, at 
any rate, had no misgivings ; neither had Coulon, his clever deputy, 
to whose care he entrusted her whenever he was called away to 
assist in the production of a new ballet at one of the Continental 
opera-houses. 

But, genius or no genius, Marie was not spared one jot or tittle 
of the arduous details of study. It is a terribly severe course that 
one has to go through in preparing to dance on the stage. True 
enough, the dancer who means to exercise her art as Taglioni did, 
must show nothing of the gymnast in her performance ; but gym- 
nastics of the severest kind are the most necessary part of the 
training. When done with the grace of a Taglioni, it does not 
seem so hard to turn the feet outward ' until they form a straight 
line,' to balance oneself on the points of the toes, or to pirouette 
gracefully on one leg ; but the toil of these exercises is known only 
to those who have practised them under the eagle eye of the ballet- 
master ; and they are, after all, only the A B C of the art. The 
French author of a remarkable work on the subject, mentions a 
score or more of technical studies, such as les taquetes, les rouettes, 
les balances, les entrechats, les developpes, les grands fouettes ; 
which, as Mr. Cook says, are scarcely intelligible outside the wall? 
of the class-room. One has but to glance at the limbs of a modem 
prima ballerina, say on the stage of the Alhambra, to form a 
notion of the extraordinary severity of the training she has under- 
gone, the displacement of the calf, the flattening of the leg in 
front, the disproportion in size between the arms and legs ; show- 
ing, what might be expected, that the lower muscles cannot be 
abnormally developed without injury to the upper. 

It says something for the skill with which Taglioni was trained, 



32 TAGLIONI. 

and much also, no doubt, for the natural vigour and elasticity of 
her form, that by the time she was ready for her debut, her figure 
was not only quite unspoiled, but had been developed to an almost 
ideal perfection of suppleness and grace. Many a ballet dancer 
has a good leg, but a beautiful arm is a rarer possession ; yet one 
of her English critics, when she first appeared in London, said 
with emphasis, in his comments on her personal charms, that 
* Mdlle. Taglioni has a singularly fine arm.' 

But while he was doing his best for her physical development, 
Filippo was not the man to neglect the mental training of his 
daughter, so he sent her to school in France. There she remained 
until 1822, when she made her first public appearance, on the stage 
of the Vienna theatre. It was in a ballet which her father had 
composed expressly for her, called the ' Keception of a Young 
Xymph at the Court of Terpsichore.' Filippo himself led her for- 
ward, and it is said that when she faced the footlights and the 
audience for the first time, her emotion was so great that * she in- 
stantaneously lost all memory of what she had rehearsed, and 
actually improvised her first steps in public.' 

But they must have been even better than the steps she had 
learned, for her performance created a wild enthusiasm in the 
theatre ; and in a little while all Vienna was talking of her. A 
Viennese critic wrote of this first performance : ' It was inspiration, 
the first revelation of this supernatural talent, the first manifesta- 
tion of her marvellous nature, which, without doubt, is not un- 
attended by its own peculiar genius.' She became the heroine of 
the theatre ; novelists put her in their stories ; poets wrote verses 
on her ; great personages went behind the scenes to be introduced 
to her ; and not long after this, the ladies began to copy her fashion 
in dress, so that when on one occasion she wore a new hat on the 
sl^ge, the brim of which she had turned the wrong way in her hurry 
in putting it on, all the fashionable world afterwards came to the 
opera with hats turned back absurdly at the brim. 

To understand the furore which could be created and sustained 
in a great continental city by a little opera-dancer, who was not 
much more than a girl, one must remember that in those days the 
leading opera-houses, both on the Continent and in London, lived 
by their ballets. The opera itself was second to the ballet. * Kossini 
was still working for the Italian theatres, and had not yet been to 
France. Auber was little more than a beginner, Meyerbeer was 
unknown ; and of the three works which were to raise the Paris 



TAGLIONI. 33 

Opera-house to the highest position amongst lyrical theatres La 
Muette de Portici (Masaniello}, Guillaume Tell, and Robert le 
Diablenot one had yet been written.' The Lord Chamberlain 
is employed in a solemn diplomatic correspondence with the 
English Ambassador in Paris, regarding operatic matters ; but the 
correspondence deals only with the engagement of dancers. 

Account must be taken, too, in dwelling on the phenomenal 
success of Taglioni, of the exceptional and really unique nature of 
her performances. Fine opera dancing had not been by any means 
unknown in Vienna, but the new ballerina differed from, as she 
excelled, both her predecessors and her contemporaries. The 
statement about inspiration, quoted just now, was something more 
than the rhapsody of a critic elated by the charm of a novel and 
beautiful performance. Taglioni herself always declared that some 
of her best steps were pure improvisations. 

Miss Mabel Collins, in a charming sketch of Taglioni, published 
a few years since, makes some interesting remarks on this point, 
the substance of which was given her, I believe, by Madame 
Taglioni herself. ' This theory of inspiration was no dream. Madame 
Taglioni has herself spoken of the peculiar sensation which she 
often experienced at the very moment she was going upon the 
stage, which would induce her to put aside all her preparations. 
Her prepared dance had been arranged for her by her father, 
and sometimes when it had been most enthusiastically applauded 
at rehearsal, when everyone had said of it, " What an effect this 
will make ; how beautiful this is ! " she would not hesitate 
in the moment of exaltation to put it aside. For in that ex- 
cited state her thought was, " Now I am going to do something 
which will succeed," and that thought was often followed by 
" the dance I have rehearsed will not do it will not succeed." 
And then her own momentary inspiration enabled her to invent 
some exquisiteness of movement which would fill the audience 
with delight.' 

There has been a deal of clever dancing, in the common sense 
of the word, since Taglioni's time ; there is a great deal of clever 
dancing, on the Parisian and the London stages, to-day. But it is 
not like the dancing of Taglioni. The influence of the ballet- 
master shows too plainly in it. It is too full of artifice, and the 
traditions of the ballet. The dancer is doing some very ingenious 
and wonderfully difficult tricks which she has learned at rehearsal, 
but there is not a trace of spontaneity in it ; the ' wreathed smiles ' 

25 



34 TAGLIONI. 

she wears on her face seem put on to hide the too-apparent pains 

of her task. 

There was no pain, either real or apparent, in anything that 
Taglioni did. Having once mastered the difficult and laborious 
technicalities of her art, she was able to move in it as she pleased. 

She enjoyed an intense happiness in the exercise of it. Her 
best moments, she often said in old age, were those she spent on 
the stage. She laughed when she danced, but said she could not 
help it ; her pleasure in her steps was so great. Someone asked 
her, when quite an old woman, whether she would like to live her 
life again. ' Yes, to dance,' she said instantly, ' for nothing else 
but that ; but I would live again to dance.' 

And while on the subject of Taglioni's inspiration, it may be 
noted that not only was she inspired herself, but she had the gift 
of inspiring others. It was she who inspired Auber, and his 
literary colleague Scribe, with the idea of that strange ballet-opera 
on the legend, as treated by Goethe, of ' The God and the Baya- 
dere,' in which, ' as if in defiance of all aesthetic propriety, the 
heroine danced, while the hero sang.' The idea of the piece is 
fantastic enough. A Hindoo god, who has taken on him the form 
of a man, feigns to be at the point of death, and chooses that 
moment to invite the woman who loves him most to become his 
wife. Whoever accepts the offer must, of course, give herself to 
die with him on his funereal pyre. ' Finding his invitation 
accepted by a young bayadere, whom alone among the women sur- 
rounding him he has inspired with true affection, the god declares 
himself at the critical moment in his true character, and before he 
returns to heaven rewards the young girl by conferring certain 
privileges on the class to which she belongs.' Auber's music was 
so beautiful, and Taglioni's dancing had such an ethereal fascina- 
tion, that ' The God and the Bayadere ' enjoyed an unusually 
long run. But I am anticipating the course of Taglioni's triumphs. 

She had not danced long in Vienna before offers of engagement 
were showered on her by the managers of the foremost theatres 
in many of the European capitals. She then began her travels over 
the Continent, and visited in turn nearly every city of note. Her 
fame had gone before her, and they were ready to receive her as a 
prodigy wherever she went. The same plaudits greeted her every- 
where, and her social successes were as great as her triumphs on 
the stage. At Stuttgart she foumd in the Queen a friend, a 
sister. Eeceived at the soirees of the castle, she there passed the 



TAGLIONL 36 

time in intimate conversations with her august protectress. At 
her last representation all the town saw the Queen in the front of 
the box by the side of the King, wiping away her tears of regret 
and admiration. Everybody was able to hear her answer to her 
husband, who was scolding her in an undertone for this little 
weakness : " If it were my sister who was leaving me, I should not 
be more distressed/' ' 

At Munich, her mother took her by express command to be 
presented to the Queen ; and before her Majesty came into the 
drawing-room, the King, 'a stout gentleman . . . half lying down 
on a sofa,' talked to her about her profession, and expressed sur- 
prise that one so young should exhibit ' such extraordinary talent.' 
When the young princesses came in with the Queen, King Max 
bade them salute her, saying, ' Let Mdlle. Taglioni see that you 
have profited by the lessons of grace which she gives you at the 
theatre.' 

It was in Kussia at Moscow or St. Petersburg that the in- 
cident occurred which offered a decisive and rather humorous 
testimony to the purity of Taglioni's style. The Emperor was 
watching her performance from his private box, when someone came 
up from the lower part of the house, and told his Majesty that it 
was impossible to see the dancer's knee. The Emperor wa? 
sceptical, but, to satisfy himself, went downstairs to watch the 
dance from a seat in the stalls. After staying for a little while, 
he returned to his box, and declared to the Empress it was quite 
true, ' One positively cannot see her knee ! ' 

The fact was that Taglioni never in the whole of her career 
wore a dress which allowed her knee to be seen. Her own high 
ideas of her art were well expressed in the rebuke she administered 
to one of her admirers in Milan, who begged her to shorten her dress 
'just a very little.' ' Signer,' replied the dancer, f I do not dance 
for men, I dance for wives and for daughters.' This notion of the 
purity that should characterise the dancer in every movement was 
strengthened in her by the counsels of her father, who was never 
tired of saying, 4 II faut que les femmes et les jeunes filles puissent 
te voir danser sans rougir : que ta danse soit pleine d'austerite", de 
delicatesse, et de gout.' Vestris, the opposition professor, had a 
very different method of instruction. ' Mes bonnes amies,' he used 
to counsel his pupils, ' soyez charmantes, coquettes. Montrez 
dans tous vos mouvements la plus entrainante liberte.' One 
wonders what Vestris would have made of a Taglioni ! 



36 TAGLIONI. 

In her old age, the once famous dancer used to express in 
very emphatic terms her horror at the revolutions which have 
taken place in the dress and style of the ballet within the last 
twenty years. The wisp of muslin in which the prima ballerina 
of to-day considers herself fully dressed excited in her an indigna- 
tion scarcely less than that of the English maiden lady who was 
shown the gala costume of a princess of the Sandwich Islands, 
which consisted of a pretty little string of red beads. And she 
was quite as angry at the new modes of dancing, which she said 
were not only immodest, but utterly inartistic. There is, however, 
no possible standpoint from which to compare the pure and delicate 
style of Taglioni with that of her most recent successors on the 
stage. 

We have reached the year 1827. The fairy foot of Taglioni 
has carried her from one to another of the capitals of Europe, 
with step almost as light as that of the fabled runner, who could 
skim the flowers without bruising them ; but she has not yet 
alighted in Paris. There, however, she must go ; for the Parisians 
are dying with curiosity, and will wait no longer. In this 
year of 1827, then, she reached the French capital, and danced 
in the Sicilien. French delight knew no bounds ; they said that 
she dethroned every other dancer in the city, and effaced the 
memory of all who had preceded her. They compared her with 
Madeleine Gruimard, their idol in the ' pre-re volution ary epoch,' 
who was so thin that a witty abbe, seeing her dance between two 
men, said the performance reminded him of nothing so much as 
of two dogs fighting for a bone. But even Guimard, they said, 
must not be talked of any longer, for she had never shown that 
exquisite grace, that ' floating lightness of step,' which marked 
every effort of the new dancer. The journalists went into rap- 
tures; but they wrote critically as well as rapturously of her 
performance. Said one : 'As a Naiad, she glides over the floor as 
a drop of water on a branch of coral ; as Flora, she is lighter than 
the gauze moved by the wind around her. It is an angel who re- 
mounts to the sky under the features of the Bayadere. It is a 
Sylphide who flies away as the soul of a young girl who dies of 
love and regret. Hardly could a bird follow all the caprices of the 
peasant girl in Guillaume Tell, or compass Natalie when she flees 
from a lover. ... All these roles, so varied, so different in ex- 
pression, are just so many creations which make Marie Taglioni 
the object of an admiration which the charm of her person 



TAGLIONI. 37 

renders day by day more inexpressible.' The following is in a 
firmer and more measured style of criticism : * Her dancing is a 
marvellous combination of the dance of the opera and the dance 
of the fashionable ball-room. By this fusion, which is effected 
with as much art as nature, lines like a telegraph wire, figures 
that seem to be taken from geometry, disappear. We have no 
more of those laboriously voluptuous poses, no more of those 
would-be lascivious scenes, which are played with the smile and 
with the eyes ; no more pointed elbows, apparently dislocated 
wrists, outstretched little fingers ; nothing which savours of the 
toil of the profession, the artifices of a trade, or the stamp of a 
school. All her proportions are full of harmony. ... If one can 
so express it, she dances from everywhere, as if each one of her 
limbs were borne by wings.' 

N. P. Willis was one of those who saw her in Paris, and he has 
left a delightful picture of her in his ' Pencillings by the Way.' 
' She looks not more than fifteen. Her figure is small, but 
rounded to the very last degree of perfection. Her face is 
strangely interesting, not quite beautiful, but of a half-feeling, 
half-retiring sweetness, that you sometimes see blended with a 
secluded reserve of unconscious refinement of a young girl just 
out in a circle of fashion. In her greatest exertions her features 
retain a half-timid smile. No language can describe her motion. 
She swims in your eye like a curl of smoke or a flake of down. 
Her difficulty seems to be to keep to the floor. You have that 
feeling while you gaze upon her that, if she were to rise and float 
away like Ariel, you would scarce be surprised; yet all is 
done with such a childish unconsciousness of admiration that the 
delight with which she fills you is unmingled.' 

In Paris, she danced in the Sicilien, the Vestale, the Baya- 
dere, the Carnaval de Venise, the Sylphide, Mars et Venus, 
Psyche, and Fernand Cortez. It was in the Sylphide that, both 
in Paris and in London, she gained her crowning success. 

Three brains worked in the production of this wonderful bal- 
let. The practical story on which it was based was Charles No- 
dier's ; Nourrit, the famous tenor, put it into dramatic form ; and 
the technical arrangement was Filippo Taglioni's. 

Nourrit, who was one of Taglioni's heartiest admirers, took 
Nodier's story of ' Trilby ' in hand especially on her account, and 
so gracefully did he treat the theme, and so charmingly did 
Taglioni carry out the idea, that when Nodier saw the ballet of La 



38 TAGLIONI. 

Sylphide, which, practically speaking, was his own work, he went 
away from the theatre protesting to his friends that he could 
never have believed he had written anything so beautiful. The 
part of La Sylphide, says one of Taglioni's recent biographers, is 
probably the only one in the whole repertory of the ballet which 
was never undertaken by any artiste but the one who created it. 
The original impersonator rendered it impossible for everyone else. 

At length, after gathering the laurels of fourteen years of un- 
broken success in every city of note on the Continent, Taglioni 
came to London. There are a few old play-goers who remember 
the great night when she first came floating on the stage ' of the 
King's Theatre, on the 3rd of June, 1830. Her engagement was 
for three weeks only, and the house was < packed to suffocation.' 
She took the part of Flora in the ballet of Zephyr e Flora, and 
she had not been five minutes on the stage before her triumph 
was assured. It was the old story ; they had seen no one like 
her for grace and purity of motion, for that poetry of move- 
ment which was the perfection of art, because it seemed so wholly 
artless. ' Signora Taglioni,' wrote the ' Examiner,' ' is the most per- 
fect specimen of grace and elegance, as a dancer, we ever beheld. 
Her movements are all a series of classical studies. . . Every move- 
ment is accomplished with such extraordinary ease, and with the 
airiness of thistledown, that it would scarcely have increased our 
wonder had she ascended like a spirit.' A writer in the ' Athe- 
naeum ' said : ' She is certainly angelical almost ^e-angelical ; 
" grace is in her steps, " whether " heaven be in her eye " or not. 
The manner in which she occasionally springs from this cold 
sphere leads us to think that by an extent of volition, she might 
with perfect ease visit the lively inhabitants of Mercury ; but her 
descent her return her feather-like snow-fall resumption of the 
" tread of earth," is beyond description. Her bound upwards is 
graceful and natural ; it is her coming back again that is super- 
natural. 9 

Chorley, in his Musical Recollections, thinks that, in her first 
season in London, she was not so highly appreciated as she 
deserved to be ; but the critics, at any rate, seem to have appraised 
her at her proper worth. 

During her first and her subsequent visits to London, Taglioni 
danced a great deal, and often in company with three of the most 
famous ballerinas of that or any age-Carlotta Grisi, cousin of 
the renowned singer; Fanny Ellsler, the siren 'whose charms had 



TAGLIONI. 39 

equal power over a philosophic historian and the heir to a usurper's 
throne ;' and Cerito, surnamed the Fourth Grace. The immortal 
' Pas de Quatre,' composed for these four divinities, was perhaps 
the finest exhibition of dancing ever seen on any stage. But 
Taglioni then, as ever, was the star; the others were but the 
satellites revolving round her. 

It was, however, in Paris that she made her home during the 
halcyon period of her career. Her first appearance there, says 
Miss Mabel Collins, had been considered to mark an epoch in 
the history of dancing. In her later years, 'she became the 
object of a culte ;' and so high did the enthusiasm about her run, 
amongst the composers no less than amongst the general public, 
in this and in other capitals, that Meyerbeer would not put his 
opera of Robert le Liable on the stage in Berlin until he was 
assured that Taglioni, for whom he had written the music, had 
been engaged to dance in the part of the nun in the third act. 

A volume might be written of her successes, both before and be- 
hind the scenes, at this brilliant period of her life. The Paris of 
Louis Philippe's reign, when Taglioni made it her resting-place, 
was, as Heine said, not simply the capital of France, but of the 
whole civilised world ; and all that was great in Paris went to do 
homage to the foremost dancer of the day. Napoleon Bonaparte 
had sent her his autograph long before. Balzac knew her well, 
and has referred to her again and again in the ' Comedie Humaine.' 
George Sand wrote letters expressive of her c warm admiration.' 
Ernest Feydeau gives her a leading place in Le Mari de la 
Danseuse. Thiers went to be presented to her on the stage, and 
complimented Filippo and his wife on having moulded < such a 
great perfection.' Meyerbeer, Rossini, and Auber all worked for 
her. In England, Thackeray, as we have seen, has probably im- 
mortalised her in ' The Newcomes,' and readers of Ingoldsby will 
recall the happy mention of her name in one of Barham's prettiest 
stanzas. 

It was in Paris that she made the acquaintance of the Comte 
de Voisins, whom she married in 1845, the year of her last appear- 
ance in England. The Count died in 1868 at Figueira, in Spain, 
where he had held the post of vice-consul. They had two children, 
a son and daughter. The latter is the Princess Marguerite Trou- 
betzkoi, and the mother of five children. The former, Comte 
Gilbert de Voisins, is in the army, and was made prisoner when on 
active service in the Franco-German war in 1870. His mother, 



40 TAGLIONI. 

who was then in besieged Paris, received a telegram announcing 
his death, and she and her daughter 'wore his mourning for ten 
days when they heard that it was another of the same name who 
had been killed, and that he was but wounded. Madame Taglioni 
immediately started in search of him, and went through all the 
hospitals. Eventually she found him at Dusseldorf, where he lay 
four months in bed.' 

Two years after her marriage, in the very zenith of her glory, 
she withdrew from the stage, having, I believe, given a promise 
to that effect to the Kussian prince who was engaged to be mar- 
ried to her daughter. 

She retired to Venice, where her retreat was the Casa d'Oro, 
that 'gem-like palace/ which many visitors to the city by the sea 
remember well. She had at this time an ample fortune, but, in 
the sacrifice of property resulting from the Franco-German war, 
she lost almost the whole of it, and one day found herself with less 
than enough to live upon. Public aid, we may be sure, would 
have been rendered only too willingly in such a case as hers ; but 
Marie Taglioni was not the one to let herself be supported by the 
contributions of charity, and, at the age of seventy, the brave 
little woman forsook her palace in Venice, and came to London to 
live by teaching the art she had loved so well. It was a happiness 
to visit her in the quiet home which her bright and active pre- 
sence filled. She delighted in teaching children, and they de- 
lighted in being taught by her. 

To her visitors she was always willing to talk of the brilliant 
and stainless past in which her triumphs were gained ; and, as 
she sat in her chair and poured out story after story, in voluble 
French, one seemed to see, as on a canvas, the picture of the 
bright years when kings, princes, statesmen, poets, painters, 
musicians, novelists, and all men of genius were her friends ; who 
admired her for the greatness of her gifts, and honoured her for 
the goodness of her heart. 

About two years ago, on the pressing invitation of her son, she 
went to reside at Marseilles, where she died on the 24th of April, 
in the midst of those who knew and loved her best. 

Such a life as Marie Taglioni's needs no apology, so that I have 
small fear of being misunderstood in closing this sketch with the 
exquisite couplet of Martial on the Roman dancing-girl of his day : 

Be light upon her, earth, for she 
Moved ever lightly upon thee ! 



41 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 



VIII. 

IT was ill-naturedly said by Dr. Johnson that the finest prospect 
that could meet the eyes of a Scotchman was the road to England, 
and though I was no Scotchman I felt something of this exhilaration 
of spirit as I took my ticket from Edinburgh to London. It was 
not a single ticket by any means, for we had a family sufficiently 
large to excuse our having a saloon carriage to ourselves; but 
their numbers did not alarm me, for I had by that time not only 
gained a footing in literature but was confident of my power to 
climb. Though I had been born and bred far out of hearing of 
Bow Bells, and had only visited the metropolis occasionally, I 
was extremely fond of it, mainly because it presents the broadest 
field of human life. Young as I was, I was already possessed 
with the conviction that for the calling I had chosen for myself 
London was the only place to live in, or at all events the best 
place ; and after a quarter of a century's experience I see no 
reason to change that opinion. The poet, the philosopher, and 
the man of science can live where they like, and pursue their 
studies equally well, but the novelist should reside where hu- 
manity presents its most varied aspect. 

For years I studied London and the Londoners as a botanist 
studies the flora of his neighbourhood, and with unspeakable in- 
terest and delight ; I have written several works upon that sub- 
ject only. One of them, called ' Meliboeus in London,' is still a 
favourite, such as an author, unlike a father, can make of one 
of his own children without rousing the jealousy of the rest. Its 
publisher took the same view of it, and, much to his credit, always 
spoke of it in high terms, though it was, as regards the public 
favour, not so fortunate as the like offspring of the same pen. 
He ascribed its want of popularity to a cause which at that time 
I thought fanciful, but which I have long been persuaded was the 
right cause namely, its title. 'It is not everybody,' he said, 
* who has ever heard of Melibceus, and those who have not are 
disinclined to inquire for him, because they don't know how to 
pronounce his name.' 



42 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

Even Shakespeare occasionally erred, and never more so than 
when he wrote that celebrated dictum about the unimportance of 
a name. In books it has almost the same weight in this country 
as a title has in the case of an individual. A good name may not 
be 'better than riches ' on the back of a good book, but it greatly 
enhances its pecuniary value. The name of the author, if he is a 
popular one, is also a tower of strength. Again and again have 
well-known writers, having composed a work which has especially 
taken their fancy, attempted to make a new departure with it, 
and by publishing it anonymously to gain a second reputation. 
Bulwer, for example, tried it, and Trollope tried it, both with 
unsatisfactory results. No one can afford to give up the momen- 
tum of their popularity and start afresh without it, up the hill. 
I hope I shall not be accused of comparing myself with the 
eminent writers I have mentioned in stating my own experience 
in this way. 

Some years after I had obtained popularity I wrote a novel 
which I flattered myself was of considerable merit, and which I 
knew to be at least of greater merit than any which had preceded 
it from the same pen. It was called * A Perfect Treasure.' In 
order to completely conceal my identity, I published it at the 
same time, and from the same house, as another novel under my 
own name, called ' A County Family.' There was no comparison 
as to which was the better of the two books, and I will do the 
critics the justice to say that they perceived this. The former 
story was spoken of in high terms, and (just as I had hoped) as 
the production of a new author from whom great things were to 
be expected. The latter story was received less favourably in- 
deed (for there is a medium in all things), rather too consonantly 
with my expectations in that way. But when it came to balancing 
accounts matters were very different. * If it had not been for the 
success of the " County Family," ' said the publisher, ' your " Per- 
fect Treasure " would have let us into a hole.' 

The omission of the author's name was of course the main 
factor in this unlooked-for result ; but even if both works had 
been anonymous, I am convinced, from the attraction of its title, 
that the County Family ' would have shown a better balance than 
its more meritorious rival. Even in the case of so marvellously 
popular a writer as Dickens I have always thought that the want of 
favour with which (at starting) 'Martin Chuzzlewit' was received 
was to be attributed to its infelicitous name. We are so accus- 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 43 

tomed nowadays to regard it as one of his best, if not the very 
best of his novels, and the name has been so long familiar to us, 
that it is difficult to replace ourselves in the position of having 
heard it for the first time ; but such is to my mind the explana- 
tion of what is otherwise little less than a literary phenomenon. 

While on the subject of book-titles I may say that it is essen- 
tial to choose one that has not been used before. The law is 
in this matter very unreasonable, for while establishing a copy- 
right in titles, it affords no means of discovering whether the 
one you have decided upon is original or not. While com- 
pelling an author to register his book in Stationers' Hall it makes 
no proviso for the exhibition of the name of the book; and, as 
the register from some miserable economy only shows the au- 
thor's name, the information desired cannot be obtained. Hence 
proceeds a regular system of robbery. In the case of a known 
novel of course there is no difficulty ; no author would take 
* Never Too Late to Mend ' or ' The Woman in White ' for his title ; 
but a totally unknown book may have a good name which occurs 
quite naturally to more than one person. Who can remember the 
names of all the still-born novels of the last forty years ? Nay, 
every week, there appears in the 'Penny Storyteller,' or the 
4 Penny Novelist,' some tale, the name of which is protected by 
copyright. And what possible precaution can prevent this right 
being involuntarily infringed ? 

Enterprising publishers of worthless books are always on the 
look-out for a coincidence of this kind, and exact their black 
mail from the unfortunate author. There is no pretence of any 
harm being done to them ; indeed, nothing but good, of course, 
can result to the still-born novel from its having the same name 
as a new and much better one ; but the Jaw is on the side of the 
rogues. As I have written many novels, and have been obliged 
to give them names, I have suffered from this sharp practice more 
than most people. I have given twenty pounds, and on one 
occasion even forty pounds, for the privilege of calling my own 
book by its own name ; but that was when I was comparatively a 
young writer. I should not fall so easy a victim to these literary 
brigands now. Though the law is, as I have said, unreasonable, 
the judges are not so, and if any such case as I have mentioned 
should be tried upon its merits, I should have no fear for the re- 
sult. A trial is the very last thing that our persecutors desire ; 
what they want is plunder. My advice to my literary brethren is 



44 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

to resist all such extortioners ; it is not necessary to be rude to 
them (' the Court,' if the case proceeds, does not approve of that) ; 
instead of saying outright, < Go to the devil,' use a synonym : 
refer them to a solicitor. 

In a few years I knew my London better than most cockneys 
born. On one occasion I compared my own experiences of it with 
those of Dickens. He told me in his graphic and dramatic way 
some amazing things, with some of which I, in my time, though 
with far inferior powers of narration, have occasionally thrilled a 
select audience. In return for his gold I had only silver to 
offer him, but I remember that the following incident, which once 
happened to me, interested him very much. 

I was returning home one summer night through a fashionable 
street out of Piccadilly, when there came on a violent thunder 
storm. It was very late, not a cab was to be seen, and I stepped 
under a portico for shelter. There was a ball going on in one of 
the great houses in the street ; the drawing-room had a huge bow 
window, which was open, and now and again figures flitted across 
it, and the dance-music made itself heard through the storm. I 
had been under my shelter some time before I noticed that there 
was another person in the street, also under a portico. He was 
nearer to the house where the ball was going on than I was, but 
I could see him quite distinctly. He looked like a beggar and 
was dressed in rags. Suddenly he ran across the street in the 
pouring rain and stood beneath the open window, at which 
appeared some lady in a ball dress ; she threw out to him her 
bouquet, the gilt handle of which I saw glitter in the gas light. 
He strove to catch it, but it fell, and I heard it clang upon the 
pavement. He picked it up, nodded twice to the lady at the 
window, and then ran off at full speed. The whole thing took 
only a few seconds, but made a picture that I shall never forget. 

I took it for granted that the man was her lover, and ex- 
pressed to Dickens my astonishment at the perfection of the 
man's disguise. < No,' he said, as though the facts were all before 
him, <he was not her lover; he was merely a messenger waiting 
for the bouquet to be thrown to him ; a signal that had been 
agreed upon beforehand.' 

This conclusion I believe to have been the correct one; but I 
had forgotten, as usual, the precise date of the occurrence, and 
was therefore unable to discover from the newspapers whether 
any 'incident in high life ' took place about the same time. 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 45 

There were two other experiences of mine, which I should 
have narrated earlier, but which I now remember in connection 
with Dickens, for they especially tickled him. Speaking of the 
deep and narrow grooves in which life runs, and of the impossibi- 
lity of its wheels ever getting out of them into other grooves, 
I told him the following anecdote. When I was quite a boy I 
happened to sit at a luncheon table between a lady of literary 
instincts and a sporting captain who was anxious to ingratiate 
himself with her ; only, unhappily, they had not a single interest 
in common. At last he thought he had found one. 

' Sad thing, Miss B ,' he suddenly remarked, * about poor 

Sam Rogers.' 

A robbery had just occurred at Rogers's bank, resulting in the 
loss of a very large sum of money. 

6 Yes, indeed,' returned the young lady sympathisingly ; 
' however, it won't ruin him.' 

4 Well, I don't know not so sure of that,' said the captain, 
pulling doubtfully at his moustache. 

* It's a great blow, no doubt ; but Eogers is very rich.' 

( I think you are mistaken there,' he put in, ' though I dare 
say he has feathered his nest pretty well. It is a curious thing 
his being forbidden to ride for two years.' 

' Forbidden to ride ! ' ejaculated the young lady, laying down 
her knife and fork in sheer astonishment. ' Why shouldn't he 
ride?' 

' Well, because of what he has done, you know. The Jockey 
Club has suspended him.' 

'The Jockey Club ? Whom on earth, Captain L , can you 

be talking about ? ' 

'Why, about Sam Kogers, of course. Did I not say Sam 
Kogers Sam Rogers the jockey ? ' 

A more complete example of cross purposes probably never 
occurred. 

The other anecdote was in connection with my Woolwich ex- 
periences. I was returning from town one evening in a Hansom 
cab with another cadet, when it occurred to us (for cards we had 
always with us) to beguile the tedium of the journey with a game 
at cribbage. As it was quite dark we purchased an enormous and 
highly decorated candle, such as are used for ecclesiastical cele- 
brations, and stuck it up between us. I had always a tender 
conscience, and this gave me the idea that we were committing 



46 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

some kind of sacrilege, but there was no help for it. I was a good 
deal startled, however, when an awful voice, as it seemed from the 
skies, suddenly thundered down upon us, ' You have forgotten his 
heels ! ' It was the cabman, who, interested in the game (pro- 
bably a favourite one with him), which he had been watching 
through his little door, thus reminded us of an inadvertence. 

These things so greatly struck Dickens' fancy that I should not 
have been surprised had he made some literary use of them ; but 
he had a very delicate sense of copyright, and probably thought 
that I might do it myself. It has always been a satisfaction to 
me, however, to believe that certain incidents I communicated to 
him, which had come within my private experience and were 
therefore taboo so far as my own pen was concerned were made 
excellent use of in ' Great Expectations,' where Miss Haversham 
appears for the second time to my eyes, as large as life indeed, 
but not one whit exaggerated. 

In pursuit of my profession in town (for certainly I had no 
natural liking for such sights) I went to see the execution of the 
five pirates of the ' Flowery Land.' There was nothing in their 
case to excite pity. They had, without provocation, cast their 
captain and officers into the sea, and thrown champagne bottles at 
them while they were drowning. They were not, I am glad to 
say, Englishmen (they were natives of Manilla), but even if they 
had been I should have been in no way distressed at their fate. 

Considering the universal unhappiness caused by the Cruel, 
one would be amazed that they are so lightly dealt with but for 
the reflection that our laws are made by those who do not suffer 
from their outrages. The life-long miseries they inflict upon those 
about them defenceless women and children are often far 
worse than murder ; and when they culminate in that crime it is 
almost a matter for congratulation, for the victim then is freed 
and the villain at last is hanged. I have no sympathy whatever 
with the spurious philanthropy that would keep such wretches 
alive to be a curse to their fellow-creatures, but I am rejoiced 
that the just punishment of their brutality is no longer a public 
spectacle. The worst part of the execution to which I refer was 
not the hanging of the criminals, but the behaviour of the mob, to 
whom it was certainly no 'moral lesson.' Like Lord Tomnoddy I 
took a room with some friends (for which we paid twenty guineas) 
to see the sigh My description of it was thought too realistic 
for the 'Journal,' and, as at that date I had undertaken to write 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 47 

for no other periodical, it did not appear elsewhere. It is true 
it was afterwards published, but in an expensive form, and had 
few readers ; and, as public executions have long been things of 
the past, I give a short extract from it. 

4 At three o'clock or thereabouts there was heard a rumbling of 
some heavy carriage, and there broke forth a horrid yell, half 
cheer, half groan, from the people without. This was the arrival 
of the scaffold, a solid block of wood (to all appearance) painted 
black and drawn by three cart-horses. Then there ensued a 
horrid knocking, compared with which the knocking in Macbeth 
was but as the summons of a fashionable footman : they were 
putting up the gallows. By this time the snow had begun to fall, 
flake by flake, but without diminishing the concourse ; on the 
contrary, it grew and grew, so that the dawn presently broke upon 
a pavement of human heads extending as far as the eye could 
reach. Hats, because they obstructed the view, were not per- 
mitted, and the effect of this sumptuary law was certainly pictur- 
esque. Those who had been deprived of their head-gear had sub- 
stituted for it particoloured handkerchiefs, while caps of every hue 
made the shifting scene like a pattern in a kaleidoscope. Bakers' 
white caps, soldiers' red caps, provident persons' night-caps, and 
chimney sweepers' black caps were now become very numerous, 
and the mass of mere thieves and ruffians only leavened the 
multitude instead of forming its sole constituents. The chimney 
sweepers were extremely popular and encouraged to beat one 
another, so that the soot should fly freely upon their neighbours ; 
and the military were so far respected that I never saw one of 
them pushed up from the surging crowd and rolled lengthways 
over the heads of the company, to which the members of all other 
professions were continually subjected. Many gentlemen of vola- 
tile dispositions (and of physical strength enough to ensure im- 
punity) would themselves leap upon the shoulders of those about 
them and run along upon all fours on the surface of the crowd ; 
and nobody seemed to resent it, even including the softer sex, 
except now and then a personal friend, who seemed to consider 
it as a liberty, although perfectly allowable in the case of 
strangers. 

' I am sorry to say there were many women, although in no 
greater proportion to the males than one to ten. They were 
mostly young girls, who took no part in the rough amusements of 
their neighbours, unless under compulsion, but kept their gaze 



48 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

fixed on the Debtors' Door. One in particular, with roses in her 
bonnet and cruel eyes, never looked anywhere else : she reminded 
me horribly of the girl in Bulwer's "Last Days of Pompeii" who 
was so greedy to see the man devoured by the wild beast. No 
touch of pity, or even of awe, could be read in any countenance. 
When a black cloth, some two feet high, was placed round the 
edge of the scaffold, there was a yell of impotent rage, because a 
portion of the sight the lowering of the dead bodies into their 
coffins would be thereby lost to them. They cheered the hang- 
man when he came out to adjust the ropes, as the herald of their 
coming treat ; they grew impatient as the clock grew near the 
stroke of eight, and some called, " Time ! " I am afraid an idea 
crossed my mind that if all the people there present (except those 
at the windows) could be put out of the way, like those whose last 
agonies they had come to see, it would be no great loss. 

* It is not eight o'clock, but it is very near. A little dog in 
danger of being trodden to death is rescued by the police, amid 
approbation, and placed in safety upon the pitching-block where 
the porters rest their burdens at the top of the street. That is a 
good sign ; perhaps it is better to pity dogs than murderers. St. 
Sepulchre's bell begins to toll, although the inarticulate roar of 
voices almost drowns its solemn boom ; there is a sharp and sudden 
cry of " Hats off ! " and the particoloured carpet shows like a white 
sheet instantly. Where the barriers are not, in Newgate Street, 
the concourse bends and swells like the waves of a stormy sea ; 
and where the barriers are, they are only distinguishable by their 
living burdens. There is a dreadful thronging of officials at the 
prison door, and five men are brought forth, one after another, to 
be strangled. 

' Let us turn our backs upon that scene, my friends, if you 
please, and look rather upon the forty thousand eager faces receiv- 
ing their moral lesson. They are not so impressed as to be silent 
no, not for one instant but emit a certain purring satisfac- 
tion, like that of a cat over its prey. Then a hiss breaks forth, 
and here and there the word " cur " is heard that is because one 
of the wretched victims has fainted, and must needs be seated in 
a chair and then there is a tempest of applause because the fifth 
man goes to his doom with as jaunty an air as his pinioned arms 
will permit. The priest is speaking the last few words that these 
wretches shall hear from mortal tongue ; they are kissing (through 
those terrible caps) the crucifix he holds in his hand, and in a few 






SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 49 

seconds they will have crossed the threshold of life and entered 
upon the mysteries of eternity. Surely if the moral lesson is to 
give any visible sign of its working it must be now. It gives no 
sign whatever. The babblement never ceases ; there is no hush, 
no reverence, no fear. Only after a certain dreadful grinding 
no i se which is the fall of the drop a flood of uproar suddenly 
bursts forth, which must have been pent up before. This, the 
truth is, is the collective voice of the Curious, the Fast, the Vicious, 
spell-bound for a little by the awful spectacle, while the ceaseless 
though lesser din arises from the professional scoundrels, the thieves 
in esse, the murderers in posse, who are impressed by nothing save 
by the touch of the fatal slip-knot under their own right ears. 
Singularly enough, the crowd increased after the execution, persons 
of delicate temperament joining it, I suppose, who had not nerves 
enough for a hanging, but who knew how to appreciate a cutting 
down.' 

It has often been said that Dickens was in favour of the aboli- 
tion of capital punishment. It was certainly not the case at this 
date, nor do I believe it ever was, though he wrote strongly against 
public executions. Speaking of the villanous crew of the ' Flowery 
Land,' he told me that the sheriff had given him a very character- 
istic account of them. There had been originally seven condemned 
to death, but two were reprieved. Eeprieved criminals are generally 
much affected, and the fact of their escape is broken to them with 
great care by the officials. In this case, when the two men were 
told they were not to be hanged, one received the news with total 
apathy, but the other with great vivacity exclaimed, < Then can I 
have Antonio's shoes' (Antonio was one of his less fortunate friends), 
' because they exactly fit me ? ' 

Dickens had been present at the execution of Mrs. Manning 
and knew something of the lady. With the exception of Mrs. 
Brownrigg she was perhaps the wickedest of her sex ; but she had 
her attractions. He told me that when arrested in Edinburgh 
she so worked upon the feelings of the police officer that accom- 
panied her in the train to town though he was an elderly man 
with a family that he could never forgive himself the hand he 
had in her subsequent fate, and that when she was executed he 
committed suicide. The effigy of her in Madame Tussaud's, in 
Baker Street, was very like, and I went to see it in consequence. 
The great annual cattle show was being held under the same 
roof, and I remember such was my eye to ' copy ' at that time 

VOL. III.-NO. 13, N. S. 3 



50 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

that I wrote an account of both exhibitions on the occasion, under 
the not inappropriate title of < Wax and Tallow.' 

The 'Comic History of England,' with its admirable illustra- 
tions by Leech, had greatly amused me as a boy. I now often 
met the artist, a gentle, pleasant fellow, beloved ^by all who knew 
him, but certainly one who disappointed expectation in the way of 
comedy. He was very silent, and his air was generally one of 
settled gloom. He was, no doubt, however, a great observer, and 
when he heard a lively story that < lent itself to illustration, he 
would sometimes inquire ' whether it was copyright.' 

Gilbert a Beckett I only met once, at a little dinner party 
given by one of the founders of < Punch ; ' his talk was very enter- 
taining and characteristic. There was some guava jelly at dessert, 
which pleased my youthful palate. ' I am glad you like it,' said 
my hostess. < We rather plume ourselves upon it. Some people 
make it of apple and call it guava ; they think there is no harm 
in a false name.' 

4 You should rather say an appellation,' murmured a Beckett. 

The Keverend James White I have already mentioned. I 
had known him in my boyhood, at Shanklin, where we used to 
crack jokes together, though mine of course were hazel nuts 
(and often with nothing in them), while his were from the cocoa 
tree. He had a kindly as well as a humorous nature, and pro- 
tected me from the many snubs (I dare say well deserved) which 
my precocity evoked from my elders. Detraction, flickering 
with its serpent tongue, went so far as to say that he spoilt 
me ; a statement which bore falsehood on the face of it. He was 
the first man I knew who was intimate with literary men and 
who told me anecdotes about them. He was a great friend of 
Dickens and of Tennyson. I remember his reciting to me a 
sonnet the latter had written, describing a sail he and White and 
Peel (the author of 4 The Fair Island ') took together one day. 
Respect for the laws of copyright, and also my forgetfulness of all 
the lines but one, prevent my quoting the entire poem ; but the 
first line, I remember, ran thus : 

' Two poets and a mighty dramatist,' 

at the utterance of which last word he struck his breast theatri- 
cally and observed parenthetically, < That's me, young gentleman.' 
Indeed White's dramas from Scottish history were of great merit, 
and one of them, < The King of the Commons,' was played by 
Phelps (at the Princess's) with great success. He also wrote 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 51 

6 The Landmarks of English History,' ' Eighteen Christian Cen- 
turies,' and a very good < History of France.' I have heard that 
when at Oxford, though too lazy to write for ' the Newdigate/ he 
converted in a single evening the severely classical poem that 
gained the prize into something, if not superior, at all events, very 
different, by interpolating alternate lines of the most humorous 
character; and the high spirits of his youth very frequently 
asserted themselves in maturity. I remember his reproving a 
very talkative young woman for her garrulity at the same time 
that he corrected her grammar. They were going into dinner one 
day, and he expressed his hope that she had a good appetite. 

6 1 always have,' she said ; ' my motto is toujours pret.' 

6 It should be toujours prete, my dear,' was her companion's reply. 

He was an excellent storyteller, and I well remember his de- 
scribing to me a particular evening with Douglas Jerrold, and some 
social wits, which made ine yearn to be in such company. It was 
at the time of some threatened French invasion, and one man (he 
told me) announced his intention of ' locking himself in the cellar 
and arming himself with a corkscrew ' ; another, who had taken a 
sufficiency of champagne, of 'joining the Toxophilite Society,' 
whereupon Jerrold flashed out, like a rapier from its sheath, that 
the Intoxophilite Society would better suit him. 

The novelist last taken from us, Charles Eeade, I saw less of 
than of his literary brethren. My acquaintance with him did not 
begin till his infirmity of deafness had grown to be a source of 
much inconvenience to him ; but it certainly had not the effect, 
often attributed to it, in making him impatient or morose. His 
hollowed hand and smiling attentive face are always present in the 
picture which my memory draws of him. He expressed himself 
very strongly upon matters in which his feelings were moved, but 
they were always moved in the right direction, and though when 
contending with an adversary on paper he did not use the feather 
end of his pen, his heart was as soft as a woman's. He was never 
moved by those petty jealousies which (with little reason,, so far as 
my experience goes) are attributed to his craft, 1 and the last time 
he spoke to me on literary subjects was in praise of one who 
might well have been considered a rival Wilkie Collins. 6 1 can 

1 ' As for rivalry,' says Walter Scott, ' I think it has seldom existed among 
those who know by experience that there are much better things in the world 
than literary reputation. ... I should as soon think of nursing one of my own 
fingers into a whitlow for my private amusement, as encouraging such a feeling. 

32 



52 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

imagine,' he said, < that his work fails to appeal to some people, 
otherwise good judges, but he is a great artist.' 

The last time I saw him he was painfully ascending the stairs 
of the London Library, looking very old and ill. I waited for him 
on the landing, where he noticed some books in my hand which I 
was carrying away for a professional purpose. 'How hard you 
work,' he said ; then added, with pathos, < so did I at your age.' 

His tone and manner recalled to me those of another and 
greater writer on an occasion when I was instancing to him Walter 
Scott's inability in his old age to compose when he wished to do 
so, and his bursting into tears in consequence, as the most pathetic 
incident in the annals of literature. ' For God's sake don't talk 
of it,' he said, ' it is what we must all come to.' But he never 
did come to it, nevertheless. 

Lever I met very seldom, and never when he was at his best. 
He had fallen into ill health and premature old age. Yet at times 
he was a charming companion ; not a conversationalist, but an ad- 
mirable raconteur. When once set a-going he fairly bubbled over 
with good stories ; but they were for the most part Irish and con- 
nected with old times. He had lived so long out of England that 
he was not en rapport with people and things of the day. His 
nature was genial and careless as that of the heroes of his earlier 
books, and he had no notion of practical affairs even when con- 
nected with his own calling. He told me, only a few years before 
his death, that he had never received sixpence from the sale of his 
advanced sheets anywhere. To me, whom circumstances compelled 
to look after such matters pretty keenly, and who, if I had not 
6 surveyed mankind from China to Peru ' with an eye to advanced 
sheets, had * placed ' them on occasion even in Japan (at Yoko- 
hama), this neglect appeared inexplicable. 

It is probable that his publishers made these outside arrange- 
ments for him, and took them into account in their transactions 
with him. In Trollope's case, who told me almost the same thing 
' I never got a farthing from the Americans,' he said, ( save 501. for 
" Ayala's Angel"' it seems certain that he laboured under the 
same mistake, a far more extraordinary one for him to make, who 
plumed himself upon his business habits, than for Lever. It may be 
of interest to the public (as it certainly will be to the budding 
novelist) to learn that the serial works of our popular writers 
appear coincidently not only in America, but in many of our 
colonies. Australia is the most liberal and enterprising in this 






SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 53 

respect, and Canada (a fact which is partly explained by its being 
overshadowed by the great republic) the least. The works of our 
story-tellers are also to be found in every European tongue : with 
Eussia, Holland, and Sweden there is, however, no international 
copyright, so that nothing is to be got out of them but thanks 
and fame ; and with France and Italy, although there is a treaty, 
there might almost as well not be one, so far as any material 
benefit to the English author is concerned. Germany, however, 
though poor, is honest, and sends some slight contribution to the 
British author's purse in return for the right of translation. 

The edition of Baron Tauchnitz, which is of course in English, is 
quite another affair. There is a notion abroad or rather at home 
that the Baron does not purchase the works he publishes in his 
Continental series. This is a gross mistake. He did so even when 
there was no necessity (i.e. when there was no copyright treaty, as 
he does now in the case of American authors), and I have always 
found him not only an honourable but a most liberal paymaster. 

Trollope was the least literary man of letters I ever met; 
indeed, had I not known him for the large-hearted and natural 
man he was, I should have suspected him of some affectation in this 
respect. Though he certainly took pleasure in writing novels I 
doubt whether he took any in reading them ; and from his con- 
versation, quite as much as from his own remarks on the subject 
in his autobiography, I should judge he had not read a dozen, 
even of Dickens's, in his life. His manners were rough and, so 
to speak, tumultuous, but he had a tender heart and a strong 
sense of duty. He has done his literary reputation as much harm 
by the revelation of his method of work as by his material views 
of its result. He took almost a savage pleasure in demolishing 
the theory of ' inspiration,' which has caused the world to deny his 
' genius ; ' but although he was the last, and a long way the last, of 
the great triumvirate of modern novelists (for Bulwer is not to be 
named in the same breath, and George Eliot stands per se) he 
hangs ' on the line ' with them. 

If I may venture to express my own opinion upon a matter 
to which I have at least given more attention than most people, 
there seems to me this noteworthy difference between the above- 
named three authors and our present novelists: the characters 
the former have drawn are more individualised. Dick Swiveller, 
Colonel Newcome, and Mrs. Proudie, for example, are people we 
know and speak of as having had a real existence. The works of 



54 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

our living storytellers are (with certain exceptions, however, for 
who does not recall Count Fosco ?) known by their names rather 
than by the characters they have created. 

I take, merely as a specimen (and I trust Mr. Blackmore will 
forgive me for so doing), that admirable romance ' Lorna Doone ;' 
none of the three men we are considering could have written it 
to save their lives, yet I doubt whether ten of the thousands of 
readers who have delighted in it could give the names of its 
dramatis personce. There is nothing so cheap (and nasty) as 
detraction ; and in stating this opinion, detraction is the last thing, 
Heaven knows, which I wish to convey. I have the heartiest con- 
tempt for that school of ' criticasters ' (as Charles Keade called 
them) who are always praising the dead at the expense of the 
living ; and there are probably few readers who take such pleasure 
in the works of living writers as I do. There is, I readily admit, 
more poetry and natural truth in some of them than in Dickens ; 
more dramatic interest than in Thackeray ; more humour and 
pathos than in Trollope ; but, to my mind, the individualism of 
character is much less marked than in those three authors. 

I first saw Thackeray at the house of my brother-in-law, 1 with 
whom I was then staying in Gloucester Place ; they had lived 
together as young men at Weimar, but had never seen one 
another since, and their meeting was very interesting. Their 
lines in life had been different, but the recollection of old 
times drew them together closely. A curious and characteristic 
thing happened on the occasion in question. There were a dozen 
people or so at dinner, all unknown to Thackeray, but he was in 
good spirits and made himself very agreeable. It disappointed 
me excessively, when, immediately after dinner, he informed me 
that he had a most particular engagement and was about to wish 
good night to his host. But will you not even smoke a cigar 
first ? ' I inquired. A cigar ? Oh, they smoke here, do they ? 
Well, to tell you the truth, that was my engagement,' and he 
remained for some hours. There was an ancient gentleman at 
table who had greatly distinguished himself half a century ago at 
college, by whom the novelist was much attracted, and especially 
when he told him that there was nothing really original in modern 
literature; everything, he said, came indirectly more or less 
from I think he said Pindar. 

* But at all events Pindar did not write " Vanity Fair," ' I said. 

1 Major Prower. At his home, Purfcon House, in Wiltshire, I spent many of the 
happiest days of my early life ; would that his eye could note the acknowledgment. 






SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 55 

' Yes, sir,' answered the old gentleman confidently, ' he did. 
In the highest and noblest sense Pindar did write it.' 

This view of affairs, which was quite new to him, delighted 
Thackeray, who was so pleased with his evening that he invited 
the whole company fourteen in all to dine with him the next 
day. I mention the circumstance not only as being a humorous 
thing in itself, but as illustrative of a certain boyish and im- 
pulsive strain that there was in his nature. He told me after- 
wards that when he subsequently went to the club that night he 
had felt so dangerously hospitable that it was all he could do to 
prevent himself ' asking some more people ; ' and as a matter of 
fact he did ask two other guests. He had been very moderate 
as to wine-drinking, and was only carried away by a spirit of 
geniality, which now and then overmastered him. The guests who 
had so much taken his fancy or perhaps it was only the ancient 
Classic, whom he could not well have invited without the others 
were of course delighted with their invitation, but many of them 
had scruples about accepting it. They called the next afternoon, 
in pairs, to know ' what we were going to do about it,' and 
6 whether we thought Mr. Thackeray had really meant it.' For 
my part I said I should go if I went alone ; and go we did. An 
excellent dinner we got, notwithstanding the shortness of the 
notice ; nor in our kind hostess's manner could be detected the 
least surprise at what must nevertheless have seemed a somewhat 
unlooked-for incursion. 

Trollope has been hard on Thackeray -just as the public have 
been hard on Trollope because his mode of composition did not 
chime in with his own, and was indeed diametrically opposite. 
Thackeray's habits were anything but methodical, and he found 
the duties of editorship especially irksome. Communications from 
his contributors, and especially the would-be ones, annoyed and 
even distressed him to an almost incredible degree. I remember 
his complaining of one of them with a vigour and irritation which 
amused me exceedingly. A young fellow had sent him a long 
story, for which he demanded particular attention 'from the 
greatest of novelists,' upon the ground that he had a sick sister 
entirely dependent upon him for support. Thackeray was touched 
by the appeal, and, contrary to his custom, wrote his corre- 
spondent a long letter of advice, enclosing also (which was by no 
means contrary to his custom) some pecuniary assistance. ' I feel 
for your position,' he said, * and appreciate your motive for ex- 
ertion ; but I must tell you at once that you will never do any- 



56 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

thing in literature. Your contribution is worthless in every way, 
and it is the truest kindness, both to her for whom you are 
working and to yourself, to tell you so outright. Turn your mind 
at once to some other industry.' 

This produced a reply from the young gentleman which 
astonished Thackeray a great deal more than it did me. It was 
couched in the most offensive terms conceivable, and ended by 
telling < the greatest of novelists ' that, though he had attained by 
good luck < the top of the tree, he would one day find himself, 
where he deserved to be, at the bottom of it.' 

' For my part,' said Thackeray (upon my showing some pre- 
monitory symptoms of suffocation), 'I see little to laugh at. 
What a stupid, ungrateful creature the man must be ! and if ever I 
waste another half-hour again in writing to a creature of that sort 
"call me .horse," or worse.' He was not so accustomed to the 
vagaries of rejected contribiitors as I was. 

Though the views of life entertained by Dickens and Thack- 
eray were as different as the poles, it has always been the fashion 
to draw comparisons between them ; some disciples of the latter 
have even thought they did their master honour by speaking of 
Dickens as his rival and then depreciating him. I wonder 
whether these gentry knew what Thackeray really thought of 
Dickens's genius. They certainly could hardly have read what he 
wrote of it, and especially of the pathetic side of it. 

* And now,' says Thackeray (I think in his ' Box of Christmas 
Books '), < there is but one book left in the box, the smallest one ; 
but oh, how much the best of all ! It is the work of the master 
of all English humourists now alive the young man who came 
and took his place calmly at the head of the whole tribe, and who 
has kept it. Think of all we owe him the store of happy hours 
that he has made us pass ; the kindly and pleasant companions 
whom he has introduced to us ; the harmless laughter, the genial 
wit, the frank, manly love he has taught us to feel. Every month 
of these years has brought us some kind token from this delight- 
ful genius. . . . What books have appeared that have taken so 
affectionate a hold of our English public as his ? ' 

Of the < Carol' he wrote, < Who can listen to objections regard- 
ing such a book as this ? It seems to me a national benefit, and 
to every man and woman who reads it a personal kindness. The 
last two people I heard speak of it were women ; neither knew the 
other, or the author, and both said by way of criticism, God 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 57 

bless him ! "... As for Tiny Tim, there is a certain passage in the 
book regarding that young gentleman about which a man should 
hardly speak in print, or in public, any more than he would of 
any other affliction of his private heart. There is not a reader in 
England but that little creature will be a bond of union between 
author and him; and he will say of Charles Dickens, as the 
women did just now, " Grod bless him ! " What a feeling is this 
for a writer to be able to inspire, and what a reward to reap ! ' 

Lest it may be imagined that this opinion of Thackeray's 
respecting the merits of his great contemporary was extorted by 
his admiration of his { Christmas Books ' alone, or was expressed 
upon his earlier writings only, I append a much later and less 
known criticism to the same effect. 

'As for the charities of Mr. Dickens, multiplied kindnesses 
which he has conferred upon us all, upon our children, upon 
people educated and uneducated, upon the myriads who speak 
our common tongue, have not you, have not I, all of us, reason 
to be thankful to this kind friend who so often cheered so many 
hours, brought pleasure and sweet laughter to so many homes, 
made such multitudes of children happy, endowed us with such a 
sweet store of gracious thoughts, fair fancies, soft sympathies, 
hearty enjoyments? I may quarrel with Mr. Dickens's art a 
thousand and a thousand times ; I delight and wonder at his 
genius. I recognise it I speak with awe and reverence a 
commission from that Divine Beneficence whose blessed task *we 
know it will one day be to wipe every tear from everji eye. 
Thankfully I take my share of the feast of love and kindness 
which this noble and generous and charitable soul has contributed 
to the happiness of the world. I take and enjoy my share, and 
say a benediction for the meal.' 

I should especially recommend this criticism to ' the drawing- 
rooms and the clubs ' the people who don't think and the people 
who don't feel when they are inclined to speak of Dickens's 
4 morbid sentimentality.' 

While I am upon this subject, I cannot refrain from saying a 
word or two about the insolence, not of the critics for I have 
already expressed my high opinion both of their ability and their 
appreciativeness but of a certain class of amateur critic in rela- 
tion to fiction. * Everyone can poke a fire and drive a gig,' and, 
it would also seem, can criticise a novel. ' Although,' says Miss 
Austen, speaking of her own trade, ( our productions have afforded 

3 5 



58 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other 
literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has 
been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, and fashion our 
foes are almost as many as our readers, and while the abilities of 
the nine hundred and ninety-ninth abridger of the History of 
England are eulogised by a thousand pens, there seems a general 
agreement to slight the performances which have only genius, 
wit, and taste to recommend them.' 

Novelists are certainly not ' slighted ' now, but ' the nine 
hundred and ninety-ninth abridger,' or anyone else who has dis- 
tinguished himself in quite another line of literature, thinks him- 
self qualified to sit in judgment upon the genius of Dickens. Only 
a few months ago I read a criticism (as I suppose he would call 
it) from a person of this kind, to whom no one ever imputed the 
possession of a single grain of humour or pathos, which may well 
serve as a warning to all such trespassers upon a domain of which 
they know absolutely nothing. * I could never read Dickens with 
any pleasure,' he candidly confesses, without the least conscious- 
ness of writing himself down an ass ; and then he proceeds to 
discuss his works. Of course there are many intelligent persons 
to whom the power of appreciating fiction of any kind is denied ; 
what is amazing is that they should rush into print to say so. 
Their opinion should be entertained in silence, or expressed to 
their friends as it were in camera, so that the fact of their in- 
tellectual incompetency should be concealed. What Thackeray 
a well-qualified critic indeed wrote of Dickens he also certainly 
felt. I had once a long conversation with him upon the subject : 
it was before the shadow (cast by a trivial matter after all) had 
come between them, but I am sure that would not have altered 
his opinion. Of course there were some points on which he was 
less enthusiastic than on others : the height of the literary pedestal 
on which Dickens stood was, he thought, for some reasons, to be 
deplored for his own sake. * There is nobody to tell him when 
anything goes wrong,' he said : < Dickens is the Sultan, and Wills 
is his Grand Vizier ;' but, on the whole, his praise was as great as 
it was generous. 

It is a satisfaction to me to remember that our two great 
novelists became friends again before death took all that it could 
take of one of them away. I walked back with the survivor from the 
other's funeral at Kensal Green, and from what Dickens said on that 
occasion though the touching < In Memoriam ' from his pen in this 
very Magazine was proof sufficient I can bear witness to the fact. 






EMBALMERS. 

WHEN Grarcilasso de la Vega, on the completion of the conquest 
and occupation of the country, was leaving Peru for Spain, he was 
allowed, by favour, to pay a last solemn visit to the remains of his 
ancestors in the great Temple of the Sun, in the ancient city of 
Cuzco. There they sat, the illustrious Incas of the past three 
hundred years, each in his imperial robes and splendid ornaments, 
his hands crossed in front of him, his head sunk on his breast, as 
though in profound thought over some state problem. Eight and 
left, like knights in their stalls, reposed the dusky remnants of 
departed majesty, as they had sat in life in their magnificent 
palaces, as they had been carried in their gorgeous progresses and 
exhibited to their adoring subjects. 

Now their feasting was over and their palaces dismantled. 
The last of the mysterious Children of the Sun had been trea- 
cherously assassinated, and the very emblem of their power and 
sacred origin, the wondrous shield of gold that represented the 
luminary and hung in the temple, had been played for and lost at 
cards by a dissolute soldier of fortune. Nothing now remained 
but to rifle the revered persons of the mummies themselves, and 
turn their resting-place into a stable for Almagro's horse. 

It may be that at this day, in some obscure convent garden 
corner, among broken images and forgotten lumber, there may lie 
unrecognised the brown and shrivelled frame of one of those mild 
despots ; whose empire penetrated to the eternal snows of the 
Cordilleras ; to whom, and to whom alone, a well-ordered people 
looked for protection, for sustenance, for advice ; the grave accents 
of whose authority echoed even over the threshold of life, even 
after their last summons home to the mansions of their father, the 
Sun ; for, yearly, the brittle air- dried corpse was borne to the 
scene of its former splendour, there to receive the acclamations of 
subjects that had forgotten neither their fear nor their affection. 

The embalmer of the nineteenth century is not the man he 
was in those days. He has none of the sacred personality of the 
Egyptian, nor the dutiful character of the Hebrew. He is but 
rarely called upon to exercise his art, such as it is, on the remains 
of emperors, nor even to fix the traits of remarkable commoners. 



60 EMBALMERS. 

He thinks himself fortunate if twice or thrice in the year his services 
are required to give something like permanence to those who, in 
life, did little towards it for themselves. Once it was father 
Jacob, reverently transported to his last rest in the Cave of 
Hebron by the side of Abraham, Isaac, and Kebecca ; once the 
mighty Alexander, lying in honey; once Poppsea, the wife of 
Nero, for whom Octavia was divorced and murdered ; once the 
sublime Founder of our religion, lovingly cared for by Joseph and 
Nicodemus; once kings, queens, high-priests, and statesmen. 
And now a few Americans, surprised by death while amusing 
themselves in Europe ; an occasional Roman Catholic dignitary ; 
a rare foreign ambassador or exiled emperor, to treat whom a 
hospital porter goes down by train with his apparatus in a black 
bag: these are all that remain of the immense and splendid 
clientele of the embalmers of the past. 

It is no office now of affection or of pity, but a simple business 
transaction: the embalmer is no longer an artist, he is only a 
nice hand. Where the ancients thought and worked for three 
months, it is all over in half an hour, beginning with the femoral 
artery and ending with the great toe ; on which his surgical 
imprimatur the operator makes a final cross-slash to see that 
the preservative fluid has completely done its penetrating duty. 

No wonder, as was pathetically remarked to us by a modern 
professor of the art, there is nowadays no relish to be found in 
the work. 

Only two thousand years ago and what is that in the history 
of an art ? when death visited an Egyptian household, the rela- 
tives at once took steps to place the corpse in that condition in 
which alone it could be sure of enjoying its immortality ; for it 
was their belief that the soul, on quitting the body, ran a solitary 
course of trial and temptation, and, that course successfully ac- 
complished, and not till then, returned and reanimated its old 
companion. 

Their future life would be, it was held, very much as their past 
had been : they eat, drank, and made merry, and Kemains ineffi- 
ciently treated would enter immortality (if one may say so without 
flippancy) heavily handicapped. Unless the most punctilious care 
were exercised, there would be every chance of a realisation of 
that terrible curse of Carlyle that Satan had his weak stomach to 
digest with to all eternity. 

It is from Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus alone, we believe, 



EMBALMERS. 61 

that anything is known of the process the body underwent ; but, 
as this paper is an account rather of the embalmer than of em- 
balming, and as the curious can find the information for them- 
selves by looking into the 86th chapter of the first book of the 
first author, and the 91st chapter of the first book of the second, 
we do not propose to set it out here. 

The remains once more in the possession of the family, in the 
form in which they are familiar to most of us, they were often 
suffered, for reasons that are not always specified, to rest some 
time in the house unburied. The rock tomb might be full, or 
possibly not ready ; the deceased, for past misconduct, might have 
been refused burial by the terrible Judges of the Dead ; the family 
might be poor and choose to keep their dead at home, tied in a 
sense to their apron strings ; or, perhaps, fully aware of the valu- 
able security they represented, prefer to have them at hand against 
a rainy day. 

For, in those days, there was no surer way of raising an Egyp- 
tian loan than by offering a relative in pledge as security ; since 
the feeling of the country was so extraordinarily strong against 
the impiety of those who suffered their ancestors to go for any 
length of time unburied, that they were forced, on the earliest 
opportunity, to redeem them. 

Charles Surface knocking down the family portraits has here a 
prototype in the scapegrace of the Nile selling up the family dead. 

Once buried, there was an end of the matter ; once laid with 
the singing of hymns in the rock tomb, no one ever thought of 
entering the hermetically sealed chamber, or even of visiting the 
spot. 

The dead man had everything he could possibly want till the 
soul returned ; food, money, clothes, while under his head lay the 
viTOKsfyakaiov to revive his vital warmth when the time came for 
immortality. Amulets lay on his bosom to protect him against 
the liers-in-wait that plotted his downfall, and round his head 
hung the papyri of the inspired Ritual of the Dead, by the study 
and observance of which he worked his passage in the Bark of the 
Sun, until he was finally assimilated by the luminary and entered 
into his rest. 

In the mysterious language of Thoth, the divine scribe, who 
reveals the will of the gods and the mysterious nature of things 
to man, he went in like a hawk and came out like a phoenix, 
entering the celestial gate.' 



62 EMBALMERS. 

The Roman occupation ruined the calling by taking the money 
out of the country, and only a few years after the Christian era, 
the art, in the completer sense, was almost entirely unknown. 
Nor did it appear in Europe for more than four hundred years. 

In the meantime there sprang up a curious trade in mummy 
as a medicine that deserves to be noticed, if only for its absurdity : 
a trade that progressed in secrecy from Arab retailer to Jew whole- 
sale merchant, until, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 
it was openly sold in the shops and quoted in the Pharmacopoeia. 

It relieved headache, megrims, palsy, epilepsy, vertigo, drow- 
siness ; it was invaluable against poisons and the bites of animals, 
spitting of blood, rupture of vessels, wounds ; worn round the 
neck, with a mixture of pulverised rhubarb, it protected the 
fortunate possessor against any kind of danger or disaster, and, 
constantly carried as it was by Francis L, it must have been acci- 
dentally left at home on the morning of the defeat of Pavia, since 
it did not save the monarch from capture and imprisonment. 

But with the trade came of course the forgery, and so careless 
were the manufacturers in their selection of material, that patients 
were being continually upset by doses of a compound that instead 
of curing the megrims generally produced them. 

6 Let them see to iV says the sagacious Grew, ' that dare to 
trust to old gums which have long since lost their virtue.' 

And again, Penicher utters the general and necessary warning 
that ' those bodies are not mummies which are dried by the sands 
of Libya, nor those buried and preserved beneath the snow ; nor 
those bodies submerged by the sea, thrown up and dried on the 
coast, even to the last degree of blackness ; nor of criminals hung 
and dried in the sun for these are of no use.' But if the 
invalid is really anxious to learn what is the appearance of the 

true article that will suit his complaint and do him good why, 

it is < reddish, light, greasy, and with some odour ' which may 
perhaps account for the fact that it is no longer in any great 
favour or demand in Europe, though we are told that to this day 
the Arabs use it, mixed with .butter. 

European embalming dates from the fourth century, when we 
find St. Augustine referring to the practice as common among his 
fellow-Christians, who kept their dead for seven days before final 
deposition in the catacombs. 

But beyond the fact that the art in one form or another 
was not entirely lost, little is known of the practitioner or his 



EMBALMERS. 63 

method, though he exercised it on Edward I., who 450 years after 
death was viewed in Westminster Abbey, and found in excellent 
preservation, measuring, as a Longshanks should, six feet four 
from crown to heel ; on Canute, reported to be very fresh when 
last seen in 1776; and on William the Conqueror and Queen 
Matilda, who were entire at Caen in the sixteenth century, and 
no doubt are so still. 

Even the author of so illustrious a piece of work as the 
embalming of Charles I. is, we believe, unknown, whose coffin, 
opened in 1813 in the presence of the Prince Kegent, showed the 
eye of the martyred king still bright and fresh, though after 
a moment's exposure to the air it wheeled round and crumbled 
into dust. The long oval face and pointed beard and moustache, 
says Sir Henry Halford, who was also present, were perfect in 
shape and preservation as when Vandyke painted them ; the com- 
plexion was dark and discoloured, the cartilage of the nose gone, 
and the head when lifted showed the marks of the axe and the 
hair clumsily cut behind by the executioner. 

The first names to be found in the profession have a strange 
Dutch and quasi-learned Latin air about them De Bils and 
Clauderius,Euysch and Swammerdam apothecaries, amateurs, and 
physicians ; each boasting of his own particular process and con- 
temptuous of the other, and each with his own cabinet where he 
kept his specimens, and whence he jealously excluded his rivals. 

Of these, Ruysch, the anatomist, was the most celebrated and 
the most successful. Up to his day, the Egyptian process, sim- 
plified and modified but not materially departed from, had chiefly 
continued in repute, and it was he who introduced an important 
change of detail, and conceived and executed the plan of injecting 
preservative fluids into the dead body by the blood-vessels. 

A contemporary of Peter the Great, he carried the art to such 
perfection that his specimens were the wonder of the time in 
which he lived, and it is even recorded that the Czar, on seeing 
the body of a child which he had preserved, did not detect it was 
dead, and kissed it. 

But he died with his secret undisclosed, jealous of it to the 
last, as they all were ; De Bils, too, departed uncommunicative ; 
though Clauderius, on one occasion admitted to his cabinet on the 
strict understanding that he touched nothing, managed to wet 
his finger and apply it secretly to a specimen, and tasting it 
detected the presence of salt. 



64 EMBALMERS. 

In England, William Hunter followed the process of Kuysch, 
making a well-known use of it with the wife of the eccentric 
Martin van Butchell, who reposes to this day in the Museum of 
the College of Surgeons ; to whose receptions after death many 
of the most learned and fashionable of the London world flocked 
in curiosity. 

Madame van Butchell is no longer the attraction she once 
was. She lies, or rather stands, in an upright case with a glass 
lid in a far-off locked-up room, among odd bones and dusty picture- 
frames. Her eyes are sunk and the mouth is drawn ; her hair is 
frowsy and the limbs wofully pinched and shrivelled; but the 
general outline of the head and features is distinct enough for 
recognition, and the nose retains a certain archness and piquancy 
very remarkable in a lady who should have been dust any time 
these hundred and ten years past. 

Next to her, in a similar case, stands a person embalmed by 
Sheldon. She died of consumption, just a hundred years ago, 
and is not at all a pleasant sight. 

The method of William Hunter was practised by succeeding 
anatomists and embalmers, and with certain modifications is the 
method of to-day. Those modifications for the most part came 
from France. 

For those curious on the subject they will be found set forth 
with minute particularity in the work by the celebrated Grannal, 
the leader of the French school, who in 1835 gained the Monthyon 
prize for his contributions to the science. 

He was for many years entrusted with the principal cases of 
embalming in Paris, his system being a combination of the ancient 
and modern methods, and, moreover (if we may trust his own 
account, for we have elsewhere found it contradicted), issued vic- 
torious from what we should call nowadays a tournament; in 
which contest, conducted with great good humour and fairness on 
all sides, each competitor buried his specimen, and on exhumation 
Gannal managed to distance them all in freshness, suppleness, and 
lifelike charm. 

He makes frequent reference to those who had worked before 
him in the same field, sometimes with respect, more often with 
contempt. To M. Eiqueur, apothecary to the king, who, at the 
end of the seventeenth century embalmed Madame la Dauphine 
with all the disinterestedness, ability, and prudence that could 
be desired;' to a certain hog-butcher, who treated in the slashing 



EMBALMERS. 65 

style a young man lately deceased of a hectic fever ; to the success- 
ful operator on Colonel Morland, killed in one of the German 
campaigns and brought to Paris by his old comrade, M. le Baron 
Larrey, to be placed in his library ; and seriously as he views an 
art that ' offers consolation to a family who lament a painful loss,' 
no one can be surprised to find him write that 'it is a grave 
subject of discussion whether physician, surgeon, or apothecary 
should take precedence in the honours of operation.' 

In the early part of his life an amateur, it was not till 1831 
that, at the solicitation of his friend, M. Strauss, Gannal began to 
labour professionally. He was drawn to the decision by the lamen- 
table state of embalming affairs, for notwithstanding that the 
remains of Louis XVIII. had in 1824 been preserved in the most 
satisfactory style, yet the art had none of that scientific accuracy 
which alone could make its practice lucrative or agreeable. There 
must certainly have been something very much more of the 
amateur than the professional in the accomplishments of those 
who prepared a certain L.D.C.D. for England, when the empirical 
process the remains underwent set all the assistants coughing ; 
and something very grossly ignorant in their method when in 
the same year the incautious use of deutochloride of mercury 
destroyed all the gilding of the vast saloon where the body lay. 

Even after Gannal had been for some time earnestly at work, 
and had really begun to produce results, he reports a fellow- 
artist, Dr. Poirson, as having been * exceedingly incommoded at 
the embalming of two generals.' Speaking for himself, he cannot 
understand it, for there never was anything unpleasant where he 
was concerned. On the contrary, he expressly states the odour he 
was in the habit of diffusing was that of smoked ham. 

Successful as he was, however, and much as he was already in 
request, he frankly confesses he had many disappointments to 
suffer and < disgusts to surmount ; ' in recognition and part-pay- 
ment of which, 1'Academie des Sciences, who appreciated and 
followed his work with interest, voted him the sum of three 
thousand francs. 

But Gannal was a true artist, and cared more for the thoughtful 
notice and respect of his judicious fellows than for their money, 
and esteemed a thousand times more the lively gratitude of be- 
reaved parents than even the subsidies of 1' Academic de Medecine. 

Anything like distrust or suspicion stung him to the soul, 
where nonpayment of an account could not move him. 



66 EMBALMERS. 

There was, for instance, a worthy architect, on whose son, 
aged ten, he had lavished all the resources of his art, and who, 
spurred by the malice of unemployed rivals, rashly took upon him- 
self to doubt the success of the operation. 

With the sublime confidence of genius Gannal would have pre- 
ferred to pass over in silence the odious accusation as one entirely 
unworthy of him; but the architect, in proportion to the other's 
reticence and self-control, grew so vehement and abusive, that, on 
the recommendation of his friends, Gannal accompanied his tra- 
ducer to the grave and exhumed the child, buried eighteen months 
before. 

Only those whose powers have been similarly doubted or reviled 
can conceive his decorous sense of triumph, his secret rapture of 

soul- expansion, when lejeune H was discovered as fresh and 

agreeable as though he were merely asleep, and giving off the 
proper delicate odour of smoked ham. 

The worthy father and architect (who appears to have been 
weak and easily led, rather than wicked) was deeply touched at this 
proof of good workmanship, and embraced, with repentant effusion, 
then and there, the man he had so foully wronged ; and further, in 
token of his renewed and complete confidence, extracted from him 
a promise to treat him one day in precisely the same manner. 
And the generous artist who bore no malice by the open grave 
swore that he would. 

Gannal pere was succeeded by Gannal file, who for many 
years drove if I may respectfully say it of so quiet a calling a 
roaring trade among archbishops, ecclesiastics, and religieuses. 

He is the author of a supplemental history to his father's larger 
work, in which, after a rapid survey of the practices in use with 
the ancients, of none of whom he appears to think or know much, 
and a complete exposition of the modern method, he concludes 
with an interesting account of the exhuming of three several per- 
sons embalmed by his father many years before, and who were 
still in a condition to give pleasure to all who saw them. 

Whether Gannal fits be still an authority and at work in Paris 
we cannot say ; but even if he be not, he is so frank and liberal in 
communicating his process (in that, totally unlike his illustrious 
predecessors) that we feel confident anyone of moderate intelligence 
might, by closely following his directions, fairly hope for the 
happiest results. 

There are, of course, many names not noticed here of those who 



EMBALMERS. 67 

in their day did much for the art ; but, as the country newspapers 
say of local amateur theatricals, ' where all are so good it would 
be invidious to select any for special praise ; ' and by that just 
principle we are glad to bind ourselves. 

We may j ust mention, however, as deserving of a word of com- 
mendation, Suchet, Bobierre, Marchal, Boitard, Kibes, Falconi, 
Boudet, Tranchina, Dupre, Berzelius ; men who all laboured in 
suggestion and practice, and whose labours and suggestions, if they 
did not often come to much, at least have laid the foundation of 
our modern usage ; whose examples have served now to warn, and 
now to guide. 

For the most part experimentalists, with systems of their own 
which they would, and often did, die rather than divulge, they 
write at one time with all the extravagance of complete success, 
at another with all the despondency of outrageous failure. 

With one it is wood vinegar, with another, sulphate of alumi- 
nium ; with one, chloride of zinc, with another, liquid ammonia ; 
with one, bichloride of mercury, with another, arsenic ; and what 
one gains the other loses, for while the specimens of one are 
supple as in life, they do not last, and the specimens of another 
that shows staying qualities are unhappily black as ebony. 

It is the tiresome story of ars longa, vita brevis ; and so the 
world yet looks for that perfect corpse which shall unite the appear- 
ance of life with the indisputable fact of death ; for at present it 
exists only in tradition. 

We must not, however, omit to notice American effort and 
enterprise. 

Before us lies a number of ' The Casket,' an illustrated paper 
published at Kochester N.Y., and devoted to the interests of 
funeral directors. It is the holiday number for 1884. It is bound 
in a handsome cover and full of interesting and agreeable matter, 
with numerous spirited illustrations of the newest styles of casket, 
from the 'Favourite' to the 'Mayflower.' On the outside a pursy 
mortuary cupid presides over a wreath of funereal blossoms, while 
at the corners classical figures grieve on either side of a distant 
view of Calvary against a sunset sky. We mention these facts to 
correct the careless reader's hasty conclusion, that in a holiday 
number there must necessarily be found any of the familiar 
characteristics of our own illustrated journals. There is neither a 
yule-log, nor Christmas morning in church, nor even the boiling 
of the pudding in the galley of a fishing smack in the North Sea, 



68 EMBALMERS. 

but there is a splendid anatomical chart, with every artery, vein, 
and muscle, a great deal more highly coloured and distinct than 
(thank Heaven !) they are ever permitted to be in life. 

The chief attraction of the number is a contribution from 
Professor Renouard on embalming, a practice apparently in greater 
vogue with our cousins than with us ; for the professor says : 

The large majority of our first-class undertakers have taken 
the matter in hand ; they vie with each other in trying to perfect 
themselves in an art which is growing daily into favour/ 

Though in America embalming be on the increase, and even 
bids fair to be one day popular, there can be no doubt that with us 
the practice does not gain ground. We are a sensible rather than 
a sensitive people, and, unable to grasp any very definite reason 
for encouraging the art, we scarcely notice it. We have, in fact, 
no desire to have our dead, like our poor, always with us. But, 
nevertheless, there are in each year a certain number of cases of 
tolerably regular occurrence, and, to meet that demand, a small 
supply of practitioners, authorities on the subject, employed by 
the undertaker, who, as a rule, is the person first consulted. Com- 
pared with the ancient, the modern method is rapid and simple ; 
with the Egyptians, the process was a question of months, with 
us it is one almost of minutes. 

Here it is, as practised by Dr. B. W. Richardson, the eminent 
authority on health, who has probably had a wider and longer 
experience than any other man in the country. 

* A large artery is exposed and opened, and into the vessel a 
hollow needle is inserted. The needle is firmly tied in its place. 
Through the needle a solution of chloride of zinc is injected slowly 
until it has found its way over every part. The principal art that 
is required in this process is to be very careful not to use too 
much force in driving the fluid into the tissues, and in not using 
too much fluid. The fluid which answers best is made as follows : 
to two pints of water, at 50 Fahr., add chloride of zinc slowly, 
until the water just refuses to take up any more of the salt. Then 
add one pint of water more, and two pints of methylated spirit. 
The five pints so produced are a sufficient quantity for embalming 
an adult body. The solution can be injected quite cold, and it will 
find its way readily over the vessels. If expense be not considered, 
pure alcohol may be used instead of the methylated spirit. The 
effect of the solution is shown by its making the surface of the 
skin white, firm, and, for a short time, slightly mottled.' 



EMBALMERS 69 

We have this eminent authority's permission to add that the 
latest improvement (a discovery of his own and not yet published 
to the world) is that of injecting through the optic foramen, by 
the introduction of a long subcutaneous needle into the cavity of 
the cranium from behind the eyeball. This method, which will no 
doubt supersede all others, was discovered rather by accident than 
direct experiment, and dates from researches conducted by Dr. 
Richardson on the best modes of restoring animation after sudden 
dissolution from chloroform and other lethal substances. Thus 
in original work it often happens that, in carrying out a design 
which has been most carefully projected, the original intention is 
not consummated, but some other result which was never thought 
of; and thus Columbus, in search of the golden lands of Marco 
Polo, accidentally lighted on the continent of America. 

It will be noted that in the modern system nothing of the 
ancient survives. There is no exenteration, no steeping in palm- 
wine, no filling of the cavities with myrrh and cassia, no swathing 
with bandages a thousand yards long, which nowadays the 
pilfering Bedouin use for clothes and sell for paper. Nor is there 
any need for the Trapao-^ia-Tijs, that low-caste official whose hateful 
duty it was to make the first incision, and who must needs have 
been as nimble of foot as he was quick of hand, since (all in 
Egypt being held in abomination who mutilated the dead) on the 
completion of the operation he had to make the best of his way 
into the country pursued with sticks, stones, and curses. There, 
in a date-grove, he panted till the storm had blown over. He 
was the original, they say, of the familiar phrase to cut and run. 

Nor in our civilisation is the attendant expense in any degree 
as great. It ranges from twenty to fifty guineas, varying with 
the circumstances of the survivors. Mr. Whiteley, whom we 
have consulted, will undertake an adult for 42L 10s., while the 
best workmanship of the Nile could not be secured for less than 
a talent, 243Z. 15s. 

In a sketch of this rapid character, in which we have striven to 
avoid as far as possible all unpleasant details and tiresome techni- 
calities, there is necessarily much omitted that is historically 
interesting, though more perhaps to the student if any such 
there be than to the general reader. 

There is that Guinea tribe for instance, who by some myste- 
rious process reduce their relatives to a liquid condition and drink 
them down ; and so, perhaps, have given rise to the saying that 



70 EMBALMERS. 

the society of certain individuals is refreshing. There is the 
desiccation practised by the Palermitans, who put their friends 
aside in a chamber underground to dry, where they may still 
be seen in all the dreadful contortions of the process. There 
is Marshall's system of puncturing the surface of the body 
and brushing it over with acetic acid, of the specific gravity of 
1-048 < two days' application in this way will beautify any sub- 
ject.' There is the tadpole arrangement (though we cannot be sure 
that this has ever been applied to the human frame) by which a 
subject, suspended in water and left free to be acted upon by the 
suction-mouths of these little creatures, is in a short time stripped 
of all those parts which would otherwise decay. There are the 
natural mummies of the sands and of the bogs of Ireland and 
Scotland, and the lost travellers of the Alps, in a sense preserved 
by cold ; and, not to be tedious, there is that buried secret of the 
Florentine physician Segato, by the exercise of which he could 
reduce the dead, Medusa-like, to stone. 

By this process of Segato's the head of the patriot Mazzini was, 
we believe, successfully treated, and still, no doubt, is in existence, 
the cherished treasure and pride of some Italian municipality; 
and though, as a means of preserving the dead, the method was 
never widely known or popular, yet it found its way into England ; 
for we have been told, indeed, by the greatest living authority on 
mummies, that, many years ago, when present at a conversazione 
in London where several specimens of the Florentine's art were 
exhibited, he discovered among them a table inlaid, apparently 
with strange and curious marbles, but which on closer inspection 
resolved themselves into the interiors of dead friends. 

This paper does not pretend to be either an apology for, or an 
argument in favour of, embalming. Writing quasi-judicially, after 
the examination of a mass of evidence, we come to the conclusion 
that there does not exist a practitioner who can guarantee the 
personal appearance, in any great degree as in life, twelve months 
after death. For temporary purposes the modern process is 
admirably adapted, and we have known a case where nine months 
have made no great change, or, perhaps we should say, not so great 
as was expected. But if there exists a belief that there is, or 
indeed has ever been, a process known by which the features of 
the dead can be fixed and remain as in life for any length of time, 
of that, at the risk of destroying an illusion, we have no hesitation 
in saying there is no complete or satisfactory evidence. That decay 



EMBALMERS. 71 

can be arrested is indisputable, but that it can be arrested so far 
as in any way to mitigate grief by the sight of a face long wept 
over and beloved, we believe to be a myth, or at least a gross 
exaggeration. 

Better, indeed, seems to be the form of consolation adopted by 
Henrietta Marlborough, who, from the affection and admiration 
she bore to Congreve, spent many an evening after his death in 
the society of a model, fashioned and dressed in the exact manner 
of the master, down even to the gout. 

Speaking humbly for ourselves, we may, in conclusion, say 
that our desires completely coincide with those of Cyrus, the 
Persian king, who very wisely and manfully says : 

6 When I have ceased to live, place my body neither in silver 
nor in gold, nor in any other coffin, but return it immediately to 
the earth ; for how can it be more happily and more desirably 
disposed than to be returned to that which produces and nourishes 
most excellent things ? ' 



72 



ON TAKING OFFENCE. 

IN a social point of view when you have said that a man is an 
offensive fellow you have said the worst of him, or that can be 
said. He may be in his private capacity a forger or, as is much 
more likely, a murderer ; but, so far as his attitude to society is 
concerned, the revelation of that circumstance would put him in 
no worse position ; on the contrary, while his character would in no 
wise be deteriorated, it would invest him with a certain dramatic 
interest, and, even if the worst came to the worst, it would be very 
pleasant to see him hanged. 

Everyone knows an offensive fellow at the first glance : he can 
no more conceal his disposition than the skunk can deodorize 
himself; in nine cases out of ten indeed it is evident in his face, 
the expression of which, like a tavern-sign, unfortunately frank, 
informs us that sour wine is sold within ; but if not, he has only 
to open his mouth and out flies the truth about him ; for this 
hateful creature always prefers to say a disagreeable thing to you 
instead of an agreeable one, and cannot hold his tongue. 

To this class belong bullies and backbiters, in whose favour no 
one has a word to say, and at whose decease the very ingrates move 
their tardy lips in thankfulness. Under these circumstances it 
seems strange that the adjective ' inoffensive ' should not carry 
more praise with it ; whereas when applied to one's fellow- 
creatures it has rather a contemptuous significance. The term 
* good-natured ' is not very eulogistic ; as the poet most familiar 
to my boyhood rather abruptly observes, 

Oh ! what is mere Goodnature but a Fool ? 

but ' Inoffensiveness ' if personified and described in song would 
probably come off even worse. The explanation of this is, no 
doubt, that everyone, it is felt, should have what is r called ' a kick 
in him ; ' the capability, not indeed of giving offence, but, if it is 
offered to us, of giving it back again. There are degrees between 
the hornet and the humble-bee, and everyone should have a sting 
in his tail, ready for use on occasion. 

I cannot help thinking, however, that there is another reason 
for the depreciation of inoffensive folk. They have such a want 
of self-assertion that they never give the least ground for 



ON TAKING OFFENCE. 73 

quarrel. And though it is only the morose and evil disposed who 
like a grudge, there are a good many of us who like a grievance. 
To take offence where no offence is meant, and where they know 
none is meant, is also a great joy to some natures ; and these 
naturally resent a state of things wherein even by the utmost 
ingenuity the intention of hurting their feelings cannot be 
imputed. 

To the grievance-monger there is nothing so objectionable as 
an explanation. It is putting out the fire beside which he nurses 
his wrath and keeps it warm. In the atmosphere of his discontent 
his wrong has assumed gigantic proportions, and it is very dis- 
agreeable to see it melt away in the wholesome air of common- 
sense. When we see a play on the stage built up on some 
misunderstanding which three words would dissipate, we exclaim 
c How absurd ! How unnatural ! ' but these people weave a life- 
drama for themselves out of these very materials, and take their 
pleasure in a maze of feelings warranted of their own manufacture. 
They are always on the look-out for slights ; a depreciatory obser- 
vation, a glance which can be construed to imply contempt, is at 
once furnished with a personal application, and provides them 
with their desideratum ; even silence has been known to furnish 
it. The ' Hurt ' family, to which they belong, has many branches, 
but the type is the same throughout. If fortune, so far from 
being ' outrageous,' has neither stings nor arrows, there are at 
least nettles to be found, and they proceed to divest themselves 
of their last garment and roll in them. Nothing is more amusing 
than to see these people unexpectedly confronted with a real 
grievance : some elephantine person who is accustomed to put his 
foot down, and is not particular where he puts it. They are like 
boys who, * ranging the woods to start a hare,' come on a sudden 
upon a fierce old bear, who c lies amid bones and blood.' The 
homoeopathic remedy which the schoolmaster applies to whining 
children the ( giving them something to cry for' is most 
efficacious. It must be said, however, for this class of persons, 
that they are ready enough to accept an apology ; which indeed 
does them no harm, since they can discover a new cause of offence 
within the next five minutes. 

A much more contemptible variety is to be found in those 
who refuse to be conciliated ; who will not take those words, alike 
gentle and simple, < I am sorry,' in the sense in which they are 
uttered. This generally arises from petty egotism ; the sense of 

VOL. III. NO. 13, N. S. 4 



74 ON TAKING OFFENCE. 

quarrel seems to invest them with a certain importance, which 
they have no other means of attaining; they prefer to be un- 
reasonable, and therefore to some extent extraordinary, rather than 
to return to their original position of insignificance. 

There is still a worse class, who seek in discord a channel for 
their evil temper, which is always at the flood. They have a 
bad word for everybody, but a particularly bad one (which is also 
generally a falsehood) for the object of their private rancour. 
The Corsican, ignorant, idle, and venomous, is the head of this 
charming family. The art of taking offence in his case is not 
only carried to the most delicate perfection, but is hereditary. 

Nevertheless, a certain King of Scotland must needs be placed 
at the head of this profession, inasmuch as he took offence by 
proxy. Perceiving one of his courtiers to have lost an eye, he 
inquired the reason. < It was put out by accident by a fencing 
master,' was the reply. 

1 And is that man alive ? ' inquired his majesty significantly. 

Whereupon the courtier, recalled to a sense of what was due 
to himself as a nobleman and a Christian, at once went and mur- 
dered the innocent offender. 

It must be remembered in charity that accidents of birth and 
blood, or even family misfortunes, make people quick to take offence. 
When one's father has been hanged, an allusion to a rope, even by 
one who has never heard of the deplorable occurrence, is apt to grate 
on the ear. A personal blemish or deformity will, in a sensitive 
nature, have the same unfortunate effect. One of the kindest 
men I ever knew, and certainly the very last to give offence to 
any human being, was once a victim to this circumstance. When 
a boy, he was on the Chain Pier at Brighton with his mother, a lady 
also of exceptionally gentle nature, when an umbrella blown inside 
out chanced to excite their mirth. A woman sitting next to them 
at once arose and favoured them with this amazing speech, * An 
ill-bred woman, and a worse taught child I ' They then perceived 
for the first time that she had what is called a port- wine stain on 
her cheek, to which, I suppose, as in the case of Byron and his 
club foot, this poor lady imagined that everyone was directing their 
attention. An apology was out of the question ; but I am very 
sure that the child and his parent suffered far more than the 
injured party. 

Misunderstandings which might easily be rectified are often 
followed, in the mean time, by actions which admit of no remedy. 



ON TAKING OFFENCE. 75 

In a country town, where I once lived as a boy, the virulence 
with which two men hated one another was quite a proverb. Mr. 
A. and Dr. B. had once been intimate friends, and though one was 
a Tory and the other a Eadical, had agreed to differ : they could 
even afford to rally one another upon the vehemence of their 
respective opinions. 

' For all your high and dry principles,' said B., when the news 
came of Queen Caroline's acquittal, < you will have to illuminate 
your house to-night.' 

6 There shall not be a candle,' returned A., defiantly. 

The next morning Dr. B., met his friend, and congratulated 
him, since the violence of the mob had been very great, that he 
had thought better of his resolution, and taken the prudent course 
of lighting up his house. 

' I did nothing of the kind,' said A. 

6 Then I don't know what you call lighting up ; it was so well 
done however, that I hear the mob gave you three cheers.' 

6 That is false,' replied A. excitedly, and not to go into painful 
details a blow was given and returned. 

The fact was that A. had gone out to dinner, and his wife, in 
spite of his injunctions, and preferring unbroken windows to 
principles intact, had lit up the house, without his knowledge. 
A. and B. went to their graves without exchanging another word 
with one another. 

After all, those who speak with the deliberate intention of 
giving offence the * Eoughs ' of polite society are not numerous. 
Some women will, however, < say things ' to persons of their own sex 
which to our ears sound outrageous, and would not be tolerated for a 
moment by men from a man. The reason of this is that though 
women have a reputation for badinage (as they have, less deservedly, 
for ' tact ') they shrink from all retort, save * the retort courteous.' 
They cannot reply when a disagreeable thing is said, < Well, upon 
my word, you're a nice agreeable ladylike person, you are ; ' or 
even 'Do you really think that remark of yours exhibits the 
desire, so insisted on by moralists, to increase the happiness of 
the human family?' There are many ways of stopping the 
mouth of a disagreeable male, besides putting your fist in it, 
which are denied to the gentler sex. 

The consciousness of this of there being no remedy in case 
of the thing going too far is perhaps the reason why women do 
not rally one another, as men do : with the latter a certain good- 

42 



76 ON TAKING OFFENCE. 

humoured chaff, among old friends, is as the bread of life to social 
intercourse : women chaff the other sex, but not their own. 
They say our tempers will not stand it ; we are less good-natured 
to one another than you are ;' but the real cause is, I believe, as I 
have stated it. 

He who has the wish to please need never fear giving offence ; 
those who take it under such circumstances mistake egotism for 
self-respect, moroseness for dignity, and are among the chief ob- 
structives to human enjoyment. 



77 



THE GIANTS ROBE. 

BY THE AUTHOR OF 'VICE VERSA. 

' Now does he feel his title 
Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe 
Upon a dwarfish thief.' Macbeth. 



CHAPTER XL. 

THE EFFECTS OF AN EXPLOSION. 

RS. FEATHERSTONE made 
no attempt to detain Mark 
and Mabel as they took 
leave of her shortly after 
that scene in the Gold 
Room, though her attitude 
at parting was conceived in 
a spirit of frosty forgive- 
ness. 

In the carriage Mark 
sat silent for some time, 
staring straight before him, 
moodily waiting for Mabel's 
first words. He had not to 
wait long ; she had laid 
her hand softly upon his, 
and as he turned, he saw 
thatjaer eyes were wet and 
shining. * Mark,' she said, ' it is you I love, not that book, and 
now, when I know all it has cost you oh, my dear, my dear 
did you think it would make me love you less ? ' 

He could not answer her by words, but he drew her nearer to 
him till her head rested upon his shoulder, and so they sat, silent 
with hands clasped, until they reached home. 

Seldom again, and only under strong compulsion, did Mabel 
make any reference to * Illusion,' nor was it till long after that he 
suspected the depth and reason of her resentment against Vincent 
he was content to feel that her love for himself was unchanged. 




78 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

But though she strove, and successfully, to hide it from her 
husband, this lowering of her ideal caused her a secret anguish ; 
it had always been difficult to reconcile Mark as his nature seemed 
revealed in private life, with the Mark who had written Illusion.' 
One of her dreams had been that, as their intimacy grew, all 
reserve would vanish, and he would speak to her of his inmost 
thoughts and fancies, which it seemed almost as if he thought her 
unable to appreciate as yet. 

Now all this was over, there were no hidden depths to fathom 
in his mind, no sublime heights to which she could rise ; such as 
she knew him now, he was and must remain not a strong and 
solitary genius with lofty thoughts of which he feared to speak 
freely, not a guide on whom she could lean unquestioning through 
life, only a man with a bright but shallow nature, impulsive and 
easily led. Even the Quixotic honour which had led him to 
entangle himself in complications at another's bidding showed a 
mind incapable of clear judgment or he would have renounced 
the rash promise when it began to involve others. Sadly enough 
she realised the weakness implied in this, and yet it only infused 
a new element of pity and protection in the love she felt for him, 
and she adapted herself bravely to the changed conditions of her 
life. 

After Holroyd had spoken, she had never questioned that his 
version was the true one and Caflyn's charge an infamous fabrica- 
tion whatever she might have been driven to think in that one 
instant of sickening doubt. 

To a more suspicious nature, perhaps, some of the facts con- 
nected with Vincent's visit to Laufingen might even then have 
presented difficulties, but if Mabel had remembered all that had 
occurred there more clearly than she did, she would have attached 
but little importance to it. The loyal faith she had in her hus- 
band's honour would have accepted as obvious a far less plausible 
explanation. 

On the day following the rehearsal Messrs. Chilton and 
Fladgate were made aware of , the facts relating to the authorship 
of 'Illusion,' whereupon they both expressed a not unnatural 
annoyance at having been, as they considered, made the victims 
of a deception. Mr. Fladgate especially, who had always prided 
himself immensely upon the sagacity which had led him to detect 
Mark at once, and who had never wearied of telling the story, 
indulged in some strong observations. 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 70 

Vincent vindicated as well as he could the scheme in which he 
was the most guiltless of accessories after the fact, and Mark kept 
in the background and said as little as possible ; he felt distinctly 
uncomfortable, however, when Mr. Chilton drily inquired whether 
the same mystification attached to ' Sweet Bells Jangled,' and on 
being reassured as to this, observed that it was a little unfortunate 
that the matter had not been explained before the latter book 
had been brought out. ' If you think you are prejudiced in any 
way,' Mark said, flushing angrily, ' we can easily come to some other 
arrangement ! ' ' Oh,' said Mr. Chilton, 6 1 was not thinking of it 
from a pecuniary point of view exactly we shall not lose much 
as far as money is concerned, I dare say ! ' 

4 My partner,' explained Mr. Fladgate, ' was thinking of the 
results this will have upon our reputation in the trade ; ' on which 
Vincent tried to appease him by promising to make it abundantly 
clear that the firm were no parties to the concealment, and as 
soon as the partners understood that it was not proposed to disturb 
any existing arrangements respecting ' Illusion,' beyond disclosing 
the truth, and having some necessary revisions inserted in any 
future edition, they parted amicably enough, though Mark was 
made to understand his altered standing in the most unmistakable 
manner. 

And in a few days, by means which it is not necessary to 
particularise here, the version of the affair given by Vincent at 
Grrosvenor Gardens was made known to all those who might find 
it of interest. 

The announcement, when it became generally known, caused 
a certain amount of surprise and remark, but not nearly so much 
as might have been expected. Hawthorne, in his preface to the 
6 Scarlet Letter,' has remarked the utter insignificance of literary 
achievements and aims beyond the narrow circle which recognises 
them as important and legitimate, and the lesson the discovery of 
this is to the man who dreams of literary fame. If Vincent needed 
to learn that lesson, he learnt it then ; no fresh laurels were 
brought out for him and the old one had withered already ; people 
were beginning to feel slightly ashamed of their former raptures 
over * Illusion,' or had transferred them to a newer object, and 
they could not be revived in cold blood, even for the person legi- 
timately entitled. Jacob had intercepted the birthright, and for 
this Esau there was not even the rechauffe of a blessing. 

The people who had lionised Mark were enraged now, and 



80 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

chiefly with Holroyd ; the more ill-natured hinted that there was 
something shady on both sides or why should all that secrecy 
have been necessary ? but the less censorious were charitably 
disposed to think that Ashburn's weak good- nature had been un- 
scrupulously abused by his more gifted friend. 

Vincent's conduct, if it showed nothing more than a shrinking 
from notoriety, was sufficiently offensive, such distaste being ne- 
cessarily either cynical or hypocritical. So, upon the whole, the 
reaction which attends all sudden and violent popularity, and 
which had already set in here, was, if anything, furthered by the 
disclosure. 

But this did not greatly distress him. Neglect and fame were 
alike to him, now that his lady had withdrawn her countenance 
from him. He had resigned himself to the loss of the fairest 
dream of his life, but it had been a consolation to him in his 
loneliness to feel that he might be her friend still, that he might 
see her sometimes, that though she could never love him, he 
would always possess her confidence and regard not much of a 
consolation, perhaps, to most men, but he had found a sort of 
comfort in it. Now that was all over, and his solitude was left 
more desolate still ; he knew there was no appeal for him, and 
that, so long as Mabel believed that he had sacrificed her husband 
to his deliberate selfishness, she would never relent towards him. 
There were times when he asked himself if he was bound to suffer 
all this misconception from the one woman he had ever loved 
but he knew always that in clearing himself he would lay her 
happiness in ruins, and resolved to bear his burden to the end, 
sustained by the conviction, which every day became clearer, that 
he would not have to bear it much longer. 

As for Mark, the announcement of the true authorship of 
4 Illusion' brought him nothing short of disaster, social and 
financial. It produced a temporary demand for ' Sweet Bells 
Jangled ' at the libraries, but now that things had been explained 
to them, the most unlikely persons were able to distinguish the 
marked inferiority of the later book. 

Those reviews which had waited at first from press of matter 
or timidity now condemned it unanimously, and several editors 
of periodicals who had requested works from Mark's pen wrote to 
say that, as the offer had been made under a misapprehension, he 
would understand that they felt compelled to retract the com- 
missions. 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 81 

Mark's career as a novelist was ended ; lie had less chance than 
ever of getting a publisher's reader to look at his manuscript ; the 
affair had associated his name with ridicule instead of the scandal 
which is a marketable commodity, and might have launched him 
again; his name upon a book now would only predestine it to 
obscurity. 

Mabel was made aware in countless little ways of her husband's 
descent in popular estimation; he was no longer forced into a 
central position in any gathering they happened to form part of, 
but stood forlornly in corners, like the rest of humanity. Perhaps 
he regretted even the sham celebrity he had enjoyed, for his was 
a disposition that rose to any opportunity of self-display ; but in 
time the contrast ceased to mortify him, for most of the invita- 
tions dropped ; he was only asked to places now as the husband 
of Mabel, and in the height of the season most of their even- 
ings were passed at home, to the perfect contentment of both, 
however. 

Mrs. Featherstone had given up her theatricals, in spite of 
Vincent's attempts to dissuade her; she had lost some of the 
principal members of her little company, and it was too late to re- 
cruit them, but her chief reason was a feeling that she would only 
escape ridicule very narrowly as it was, and that the safest course 
was to allow her own connection with the affair to be forgotten as 
speedily as possible. 

But she could not forgive Mark, and would have dropped the 
acquaintance altogether, if Gilda had not, in the revival of her 
affection for Mabel, done all in her power to keep it alive. 

Mr. Langton, deeply as he had resented the misrepresentation 
which had cost him his daughter, was not a man to do anything 
which might give any opening for gossip ; he repressed his wife's 
tendency to become elegiac on her daughter's account, and treated 
Mark in public as before. But on occasions when he dined there 
en famille, and sat alone with his father-in-law over dessert, there 
was no attempt to conceal from him that he was only there on 
sufferance, and those were terrible after-dinner sittings to the un- 
fortunate Mark, who was catechised and lectured on his prospects 
until he writhed with humiliation and helpless rage. 

At Malakoff Terrace the feeling at the discovery of Mark's 
true position was not one of unmixed sorrow the knowledge that 
he was, after all, an ordinary being, one of themselves, had its 
consolations, particularly as no lustre from his glorification had 

45 



82 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

shone on them. Mr. Ashburn felt less like an owl who had 
accidentally hatched a cherub, than he had done, lately, and his 
wife considered that a snare and a pitfall had been removed from 
her son's path. Cuthbert thought his elder brother a fool, but 
probably had never felt more amiable towards him, while Martha 
wondered aloud how her sister-in-law liked it a speculation 
which employed her mind not unpleasantly. Only Trixie felt a 
sincere and unselfish disappointment ; she had been so proud of 
her brother's genius, had sympathised so entirely with his early 
struggles, and heard of his triumphs with such delight, that it was 
hard for her to realise that the book which had done so much for 
him was not his work after all. But the blow was softened even 
to Trixie, for ' Jack ' had been making quite an income lately, and 
in the autumn they were going to be married and live in Bedford 
Park. And of course Mark had done nothing wrong, she told 
herself, and he knew all the time what was coming, so she need 
not pity him so very much, and she was sure ' Sweet Bells ' was 
nicer than * Illusion,' whatever people chose to say, and ever so 
much easier to understand. 

Several days had passed since the announcements. with regard 
to ' Illusion ' had appeared in the literary and other periodicals, 
and still Uncle Solomon made no sign a silence from which 
Mark augured the worst. One afternoon Mr. Humpage came to 
see Mabel : he had heard of the whole affair from the Langtons, 
and reproached himself not a little, now that he knew how utterly 
without foundation had been his bitterness against Mark. Mr. 
Humpage did not approach the question from the Langton point 
of view, and was not concerned that Mabel should have married a 
man who had turned out to be a nonentity. He had done all he 
could to prevent the marriage in his resentment at finding the 
daughter of an old friend engaged to the author who had carica- 
tured him, and his only feeling now was of complete reaction ; 
the young man was perfectly innocent, and his nephew Harold 
had suspected it all this time and never said a word to enlighten 
him. So now the old gentleman came in a spirit of violent re- 
pentance which would not allow him to rest until he had re-esta- 
blished his old relations with his favourite Mabel. She was only 
too glad to find the coolness at an end, and he was just expressing 
his opinion of the part his nephew had taken, when, to Mabel's 
dismay, Mr. Lightowler was announced. 

She wished with all her heart that Mark had not happened to 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. SS 

be out, as she glanced apprehensively at her second visitor's face, 
and yet, as she saw almost at once, he came in peace there was 
none of the displeasure on his big face which she had expected to 
see there ; on the contrary, it was expanded with a sort of satisfac- 
tion. 

Mr. Humpage rose as soon as the other had seated himself. 
6 Well, my dear,' he said, lowering his voice as he eyed his enemy 
with strong disfavour, ' it's time I went, I dare say. As to what I 
was saying about my scamp of a nephew I only hope I did nothing 
to encourage him in the disgraceful way he chose to act ; I never 
meant to, I assure you. But he won't trouble you any more for 
a little time, for I understand he's on his way with one of these 
theatrical companies to America, and I hope he'll stay there he'll 
get nothing out of me, I'm ashamed of the fellow, and heartily 
glad his poor mother was taken when she was.' 

He had spoken rather louder in his excitement, and Uncle 
Solomon overheard it, and struck in immediately. * What, has 
that nephew of yours been turning out bad, hey ? ' he cried : he 
was quite a child of nature in his utter freedom from all conven- 
tional restraints, as may have been perceived before this. ' You 
don't say so, Humpage ? Now I'm sorry to year it ; I really am 
sorry to year that ! Not but what, if you look into it, you'll find 
there's been a backwardness in doing one's duty somewhere about, 
yer know. P'raps, if you'd been more of an uncle to him, now, 
if you don't mind my saying so, he'd have turned out different. 
You should have kept a tighter hand on him, and as likely as not 
he wouldn't have felt the temptation to go wrong.' 

' I was speaking to Mrs. Ashburn, Mr. Lightowler,' said the 
other, turning round with a rather ugly snarl. 

4 1 'eard you,' replied Uncle Solomon, calmly ; that was why 
I spoke. Come, come, 'Umpage, don't be nasty we've been 
neighbours long enough to drop nagging. It's no reason because 
I've got a nephew myself, who knows his duty and tries to be a 
pride to an uncle who's behaved handsomely towards him it's no 
reason, I say, why I can't feel for them that mayn't be able to say 
as much for themselves.' 

< I'm much obliged,' said Mr. Humpage, ' but I don't ask you 
or anybody else to feel for me. I am perfectly well able to do 
everything that's necessary in that way for myself.' 

4 Oh, certainly;' was the retort, 'no one can say /ever intruded 
on anyone. I shan't take the liberty of feeling for you any more 



84 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 



after that, not if you had twenty nephews and all of 'em in the 
" Police News," I promise you. And, talking of nephews, Mabel, 
I wonder if you came across a letter I wrote to the " Chigbourne 
and Lamford Gazette," a week or so back I meant to send you a 
copy, but I forgot I forgot. 5 




m-w > make an y fch g of this extraordinary 

mildness, ' I didn't see it.' 

< Didn't yon now ? ' he rejoined complacently ; ' and yet it got 
copied into some of the London papers, too, I was told. Welf, I 
brought a cutting with me, in cas e-wonld you like to hear it? 

1 made some assent-she always felt more or less paralysed 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 85 

in the presence of this terrible relative and he drew out a folded 
slip, put on his spectacles, and proceeded to read : 

' " To the Editor. Sir I write you for the purpose of putting 
you right with respect to a point on which you seem to have got 
hold of an unaccurate version of a matter which I may say I have 
some slight connection with. In your issue of the th inst., I 
note that your London letter prints the following paragraph : 

' " Society here is eagerly anticipating the coming performance, 
at one of the most recherche mansions in Belgravia, of a dramatic 
version of Mrs. Ashburn's (nee Ernstone) celebrated romance of 
' Illusion." I have been favoured ivith an opportunity of assisting 
at some of the rehearsals, and am in a position to state that the 
representation cannot fail to satisfy even the most ardent of the 
many admirers of the book. The guests will include all the 
leaders of every phase of the beau monde, and a repetition of the 
play will probably be found necessary. By the way, it is a 
somewhat romantic circumstance, that the talent displayed by 
the young authoress has already been the means of procuring 
her a brilliant parti, which will remove all necessity for any 
reliance upon her pen for a subsistence in the future. 

' " Now, sir, allow me to correct two glaring errors in the above. 
To start with, the author of ' Illusion ' is not an authoress at all 
his real name being Mark Ashburn, as I ought to know, considering 
I happen to occupy the position of being his uncle. Next, it is 
quite true that my nephew has contracted a matrimonial alliance, 
which some might call brilliant; but I was not aware till the 
present that the party brought him enough to allow him to live 
independent for the rest of his life, being under the impression 
that there would have been no match of any sort if it had not 
been for a near relative (who shall be nameless here) on the 
author's side coming forward and offering to make things com- 
fortable for the young couple. But he will have to rely on his 
pen for all that, as he is quite aware that he is not expected to 
lay on his oars, without doing anything more to repay the sacrifices 
that have been wasted on him. Kindly correct, and oblige 
yours, 

* " SOLOMON LIGHTOWLER (the author's uncle)." ' 

' You see,' he observed when he came to the end, ' it doesn't do 
to let these sort o' stories go flying about without contradicting 
them but I put it very quietly and delicately, you see.' 



86 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

Mabel bit her lip. Was it possible that this dreadful old man 
knew nothing how was she ever to break it to him ? 

Mr. Humpage had listened to the letter with a grim apprecia- 
tion. < You don't write a bad letter, Lightowler, I must say,' he 
remarked, with an irrepressible chuckle, ' but you're a little behind 
the day with your facts, ain't you ? ' 

6 What d'ye mean by behind the day ? ' demanded Uncle 
Solomon. 

6 Oh, Uncle Antony,' cried Mabel, ' you tell him I can't ! ' 

It is much to be feared that Mr. Humpage was by no means 
sorry to be entrusted with such a charge. But if he was not 
naturally kinder hearted, he was more acquainted with the ameni- 
ties of ordinary society than Mr. Lightowler, and some considera- 
tion for Mabel restrained him then from using his triumph as he 
might have done. He explained briefly the arrangement between 
Vincent and Mark as he understood it, and the manner in which 
it had lately been made known. When he had finished, Uncle 
Solomon stared stupidly from one to the other, and then, with a 
voice that had grown strangely thick, he said, * I'll trouble you to 
say that all over again slowly, if you've no objection. My head 
began buzzing, and I couldn't follow it all.' 

Mr. Humpage complied, and when he finished for the second 
time, his hearer's face was purple and distorted, and Mabel pitied 
him from her own experience. 

4 Dear Mr. Lightowler,' she said, ' you mustn't blame Mark ; 
he had no choice, he had promised.' 9 

< Promised ! ' Uncle Solomon almost howled ; < what business 
had he got to make a promise like that ? See what a fool he's 
made o' me with that letter of mine in all the London papers ! I 
heard those Manor House girls gigglin' and laughin' when they 
drove by the other day, and thought it was just because they were 
idjits. ... I wish to Grod I'd let him starve as a City clerk all 
his days before I let him bring me to this. I've lived all this 
time, and never been ridiclous till now, and he's done it. Ah ! 
and that's not the only thing he's done either he's swindled me, 
done me out o' my money as I've earned. I could 'ave him up 
at the Old Bailey for it and I've a good mind to say I will, too. 

< Stop,' said Mabel, < you have gone quite far enough. I know 
this is a great disappointment to you, but I am his wife you 
have no right to say such things to me.' 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 87 

* No right ! ' he stormed, * that's all you know about it. No 
right, haven't I ? Let me tell you that ever since I was made to 
think that feller was a credit to me at last, I've bin allowing him 
at the rate of four hundred a year ; d'ye think I'd 'a done that for 
kindly lending his name to another feller's book ? D'ye think he 
didn't know that well enough when he took the money ? Trust 
him for takin' all he could get hold of ! But I'll ? ave it back ; I'll 
post him as a swindler, I'll shame him! Look 'ere; d'ye see 
this ? ' and he took out some folded sheets of blue foolscap from 
his inner pocket. ' I was goin' to take this to Ferret on my way 
home and it's the codicil to my will, this is. I was goin' to 
take it to get it altered, for I've not been feelin' very well lately, 
I've not been feelin' very well. This was made when I thought 

Mark was a nephew to be proud of d n him and I can tell 

yer I left him a pretty tidy plum under it. Now see what I 
do with it. No fire, isn't there ? Well, it doesn't make any 
odds. There . . . and there . . . and there ; ' and he tore the 
papers passionately across and across several times. ' There's an 
end of your husband's chances with me. And that don't make 
me intestit neither ; there's the will left, and Mark and none of 
his will ever get a penny piece under it ; he can make his mind 
easy over that, tell him.' 

His coarse violence had something almost appalling in it, and 
at first Mabel had blanched under its force, but her own anger 
rose now. 

' I am glad to think we shall owe nothing to you in future,' 
she said. ' If Mark has really taken your money, it was because 
because he had this secret to keep ; but he will give it all back. 
Now leave the house, please. Uncle Antony, will you get him to 
go away ? ' 

Uncle Solomon, white and shaking, almost shrunken after his 
outburst of passion, was standing in the midst of a thick litter of 
torn paper, looking like a tree which has shed its last leaves in a 
sudden gust. 

4 Don't you touch me, 'Umpage, now,' he said hoarsely ; ' I'm 
quite capable of going by myself. I I dessay I let my temper get 
the better o' me just now,' he said to Mabel, rather feebly. ' I 
don't blame you for taking your husband's part, though he is a 
ah, I shall go off my 'ead if I speak any more about it. I'll go 
Where's your door got to ? Let me alone ; I'll find my way. I 
shall get rid of this dizziness out in the air ;' and he stumbled out 



88 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

of the room, a truly pitiable sight, with the fondest ambition of 
his later life mortally wounded. 

< Dear Uncle Antony,' cried Mabel, who felt almost sorry for 
him, ' go after him, do. Oh, I know you're not friends, but never 
mind that now he ought not to go home alone.' 

6 Hot-headed old ass !' growled Mr. Humpage ; < but there, there, 
my dear, I'll go. I'll keep him in sight at the stations, and see 
he comes to no harm.' 

Mark had to hear of this when he came home that evening. 

' And you really did take his money ? ' cried Mabel, after hear- 
ing his account. ' Oh, Mark, what made you do that ? ' 

Mark hardly knew himself ; he certainly would not have done 
it if he had ever imagined the truth would be known ; perhaps his 
ideas of right and wrong had become rather mixed, or perhaps he 
persuaded himself that if he did not exactly deserve the money 
yet, he would not be long in doing so. 

' Well, darling,' he replied, ' he would have been bitterly 
offended if I hadn't, you know, and I didn't know then that it 
was all done on account of " Illusion." But, after all, I've only had 
one year's allowance, and I'll give him back that to-morrow. He 
shan't say I swindled him.' 

' I think you ought to do that, dear,' said Mabel. But in her 
heart she felt a heavy wonder that he should ever have consented 
to take the money at all. 

Mark had received a fairly large sum for his second book, 
out of which he was well able to refund the allowance, and the 
next day he went down to Woodbine Villa, where, instead of the 
violent scene of recrimination he had prepared himself to go 
through, a very different, if not less painful, experience awaited 
him. Uncle Solomon had reached his house safely the day 
before, but in relating what he had heard to his sister had given 
way to a second burst of passion, which had culminated in a seizure 
of some kind. 

Mark was allowed to see him, on his own earnest entreaty, 
and was struck with remorse when he saw the lamentable state 
to which his own conduct had had no small share in reducing the 
old man. Were the consequences of that one act of folly and 
meanness never to cease? he wondered, wretchedly, as he stood 
there. His uncle allowed his hand to be shaken ; he even took 
Mark's cheque with his stiff hand, and made a sign that his sister 
was to take charge of it. He could speak, but his brain had lost 






THE GIANT'S ROBE. 89 

all command over his tongue, and what he said had a ghastly in- 
appropviateness to the occasion. He saw this dully himself, and 
gave up the attempt at last, and began to cry piteously at his 
inability to convey his meaning ; whether he wished for a recon- 
ciliation then or nursed his rage to the last, Mark never knew. 
He went down on several other occasions during his uncle's 
lingering illness, but always with the same result. Mr. Light- 
owler suffered all the tortures of perfect consciousness, combined 
with the powerlessness to express any but the most simple wish ; 
if he desired to undo the past in any way, no one divined his 
intention or helped him to carry it out; and when the end 
came suddenly, it was found that he had not died intestate, 
and the will, after giving a certain annuity to the sister who had 
lived with him, left the bulk of his estate to go in founding 
Lightowler scholarships in the School for Commercial Travellers' 
Orphans. The Ashburn family were given trifling legacies ; Mark, 
however, ' having seen fit to go his own way in life, and render 
useless all the expense to which I have been put for his advance- 
ment,' was expressly excepted from taking any benefit under the 
will. 

But Mark had expected nothing else, and long before his anti- 
cipations were verified he had found it necessary to consider seriously 
how he was to support himself for the future. Literature, as has 
been said, was now out of the question ; in fact, its fascinations 
for him had faded. Mabel had a fair income settled upon her, but 
in ordinary self-respect he could not live upon that, and so he 
sought about for some opening. At first he had firmly resolved 
never to go back to his old school life, after having done so 
much to escape from it; but as he began to see that any pro- 
fession that required capital was closed to him, and business being 
equally impossible, he was forced to think of again becoming 
a schoolmaster. And then he heard by accident that old 
Mr. Shelford was about to resign his post at St. Peter's, and it 
occurred to him that it might be worth his while to go and see 
him, and find out if the vacancy was unfilled, and if there was any 
chance for himself. It was not a pleasant thing to do, for he had 
not seen the old 'gentleman lately, and dreaded equally innocent 
congratulations and brusque irony, according to the state of his 
information. He went up to St. Peter's, timing his arrival after 
school, when the boys would all have left, except the classes which 
remained an hour longer for extra subjects. Mr. Shelford always 



90 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

lingered for some time, and he would be very certain to find him. 
Mark went along the dark corridors, rather shrinking as he did so 
from the idea of being recognised by a passing member of the 
staff, till he came to the door he knew. 

Mr. Shelford was still in cap and gown, dictating the week's 
marks to his monitor, who was entering them, with a long- 
suffering expression on his face, into a sort of ledger. ' Now we 
come to Kobinson,' the old gentleman was saying ; ' you're sure 
you've got the right place, eh ? Gro on then. Latin repetition, 
thirty-eight; Latin prose, thirty-six if you don't take care, 
Master Maxwell, Kobinson '11 be carrying off the prize this term, 
he's creeping up to you, sir, creeping up ; Eoman History ' and 
here he saw Mark, and dismissed the monitor unceremoniously 
enough. 

He evidently knew the whole story of ' Illusion,' for his first 
words after they were alone together were, ' And so you've been a 
sort of warming-pan all this time, eh ? ' 

1 That's all,' said Mark gloomily. 

'Well, well,' the old gentleman continued, not unkindly, 
' you made a rash promise and kept it like a man, even when it 
must have been uncommonly disagreeable. I like you for that, 
Ashburn. And what are you thinking of turning to now ? ' 

Mark explained his errand, not very fluently, and Mr. Shelford 
heard him out with his mouth working impatiently, and his eyes 
wrinkled till Mark thought how much he had aged lately. 

* Well,' he said, pushing back his cap and leaning back in his 
chair, 'have you thought this out, Ashburn ? You were rid of this 
life a short time back, and I was glad of it, for you never were fit 
for it. And now you're coming back again ! I make no doubt 
they'll be very willing to have you here, and if a word from me to 
the Council but is there really nothing else but this? Why, 
I'm counting the days to my own deliverance now, and it's odd to 
find someone asking me to recommend him for my oar and chain ! 
No, no, a dashing young fellow like you, sir, can do better for 
himself than a junior mastership for his final goal. Take warn- 
ing by me, as I used to tell you do you want to come to this 
sort of thing? sitting from morning to noon in this stifling 
den, filled with a rabble of impident boys d'ye think they'll 
have any respect for your old age and infirmities ? not they 
they'll call you Old Ashes "for they're a yumorous race, boys 
are they'll call you " Old Ashes," or " Cinders " to your nose, as 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 91 

soon as they think you're old enough to stand it. Why, they 
don't put any more kittens in my desk now they've found out I 
like cats. So they put blackbeetles do you like blackbeetles, 
eh? Well, you'll come to beetles in time. It's a mistake, 
Ashburn, it's a mistake for impulsive, hot-tempered men like 
you to turn schoolmaster leave it to cold impassive fellows 
who don't care enough about the boys to be sensitive or partial 
they're the men to stand the life ! ' 

Here a demon voice shrilled, < 'Ullo, Shellfish, Old Shells, 
yah ! ' through the keyhole, and his footsteps were heard down 
the flags outside running for dear life. The old gentleman, 
crimson with rage, bounded to the door : ' Stop that scoundrel, 
that impident boy, bring him back ! ' but the boy had gone, 
and he came back panting and coughing : ' That's a commentary 
on what I've been saying,' he said ; ' I'm an old fool to show 
I care but I can't help it, and they know it, confound 'em ! 
Well, to come back to you, Ashburn, you're married now I hear ; 
you won't find a mastership much support as time goes on, 
unless you started a boarding-house the idea of never escaping 
from these young ruffians, ugh ! No, no, didn't you tell me 
once you were called to the Bar ? ' 

6 Not called,' corrected Mark ; ' I have passed the examination, 
though, there is only the ceremony to be gone through.' 

4 Why not go through it, and try your fortune as a barrister, 
then ; you're just the man for a jury ? We shall have you taking 
silk in ten years.' 

Mark laughed bitterly. ' How am I to live till I get a 
practice ? ' he said. ' I've only a couple of hundred or so left in 
the world, and that would scarcely pay for my fees and chambers 
for more than a year.' 

' Ah, is that so ? I see,' said the old gentleman. * Yes, yes 
but, see here, Ashburn, start all the same with what you've got ; 
who knows how soon you may get work can't your father-in-law 
do anything for you ? And while you're waiting, why not take 
some pupils under the rose, eh ? I was asked the other day to 
recommend a coach to two young rascals who want to be forked 
into the Civil Service. You could do that for them if you liked, 
and they'd bring you others. And and I'm going to take a 
liberty very likely, but I've put by a little money in the course 
of my life, and I've no one to leave it to. I don't know how it 
is, but I feel an interest in you, Ashburn ; perhaps I want some- 



92 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

body to be sorry for me when I'm gone ; anyway, I I wish you'd 
let me see you through any money difficulties till you're fairly 
started it won't be long now, I'll wager ; you can treat it as a 
loan if you prefer it. I want you to give yourself a chance at 
the Bar. Don't refuse me now, or I shall take it unkindly.' 

Mark was deeply touched, he had not suspected Mr. Shelford 
of really caring about him, and the kindness and sympathy of 
this offer made him feel how little he deserved such friendship ; 
and then the familiar class-rooms, dusty and stuffy at the close 
of a summer day, had brought back all his old weariness of 
school routine. He had outlived his yearning for literary fame, 
but he still wished to make a figure somewhere, somehow why 
might not he do so at the Bar, in that line where solid learning is 
less necessary than the fluent tongue and unfailing resource, which 
he felt he could reckon upon. 

He shook the other's hand gratefully. < I don't know how to 
thank you,' he said ; ' you've put some heart in me again. I will 
try my luck as you advise ; perhaps with coaching and the money 
I have by me I need not take advantage of all your kindness, 
but there is no one I would come to for help like you when I 
can keep up no longer. I'll take my call at Michaelmas ! ' 

And they walked out together, Mr. Shelford taking his arm 
affectionately through the streets. Mark, as has been said already, 
had a certain knack of attracting interest and liking without doing 
anything either to excite or deserve them in the slightest, and 
the old gentleman felt now almost as if he had gained a son. 

He was anxious to prevent Mark from returning to the old 
life, because he had observed his unfitness for it ; he himself, 
however, in spite of his diatribes against boys and scholastic life, 
was far fonder of both than he would have confessed, and would 
miss them as a few who knew him best would miss him when the 
time came for parting. 

From that day he became a frequent visitor at Campden Hill, 
where he found with Mabel the appreciation and tender regard 
which he had never expected to have again on this side of the 
grave. 

Mark carried out his resolve, of which his father-in-law 
approved, allowing him to use his chambers during the Long 
Vacation. The pupils came there, and the coach's manner 
captivated them from the first, and made the work easy for both ; 
they came out high on the list, and were succeeded by others, 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 9S 

whose fees paid the rent of the chambers he took in the Temple 
shortly after. Call-night came, and as he stood with the others 
at the Benchers' table and listened to the Treasurers address, he 
felt an exultant confidence in himself once more ; he had been 
promised a brief from Mr. Ferret, who took this form of dis- 
approving of Uncle Solomon's testamentary caprices, and this 
time Mark did not shrink from it he had read hard lately, 
and with better results. He knew that he should be at no loss 
for words or self-possession ; he had been a brilliant and effective 
speaker, as the Union debates had frequently proved, and he 
looked forward now to entering the legal arena as the field for 
retrieving his lost name. Mabel should be proud of him yet ! 

He was deceiving no one now ; Vincent was not injured by the 
fraud for he had his book back ; it was true that Mabel did not 
suspect the real history of the transaction, but it would do her 
no good to know that he had once made a false step. Caffyn was 
over in America, and harmless wherever he might see fit to go 
his sting was drawn for ever. 

No wonder, then, that he seemed to look round upon a 
cloudless horizon but that had been the case with him so many 
times since he had first complicated his life by that unhappy 
act of his, and each time the small cloud, the single spy of 
serried battalions, had been slowly creeping up all the while. 

He forgot that he generally did forget unpleasant reminis- 
cences it never occurred to him that the cloud might be rising 
yet again above the level haze on the sky line, and the hurricane 
burst upon him once more. 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 



CHAPTER XLI. 

A FINAL VICTORY. 

WAS an afternoon in 
January, soon after the 
courts had begun to sit 
again, and Mark was 
mounting the staircase 
to his new chambers 
with a light heart he 
had made his debut that 
day ; the burden of the 
work had fallen on him 
in the absence of his 
leader, and he felt that 
he had acquitted him- 
self with fair success. 
His father-in-law, too, 
had happened to be at 
Westminster, and in a 
Common Law court 
that day ; and the altered tone of his greeting afterwards showed 
Mark that he had been favourably impressed by what he had 
heard while standing for a few minutes in the gangway. And now, 
Mark thought, he would go back to Mabel at once and tell her how 
Fortune had begun to smile once more upon him. But when he 
entered his chambers he found a visitor waiting for him with 
impatience it was Colin. Mark was not exactly surprised to find 
the boy there, for Mr. Langton, judging it well to pad the family 
skeleton as much as possible, had lately sent him to his son- 
in-law to be coached for a school scholarship; and, as he was 
probably aware, he might have chosen a worse tutor. 
* What a time you have been,' said Colin. 
'It's not your day,' said Mark; 'I can't take you now, old 
fellow.' 

' I know,' said the boy, fidgeting restlessly ; < I didn't come 
after that it was something else.' 

Mark laughed. ' You've been getting into another row, you 




THE GIANT'S ROBE. 95 

young rascal,' he said, * and you want me to get you out of it 
isn't that it ? ' 

* No, it isn't,' said Colin. ' I say,' he went on, blurting out the 
question after the undiplomatic manner of boyhood, * why have 
you got Mabel to cut poor old Vincent ? I call it a shame ! ' 

Mark stopped half-way in taking off his coat. * It would be 
no business of yours if I had, you know,' he replied ; * but who 
told you I had done anything of the sort ? ' 

4 Nobody : I can see for myself. Mabel told mother she would 
rather not come to dinners and things when Vincent was coming, 
and once she did meet him, and she only just spoke to him. And 
now, when he's so ill, she won't go near him he told me himself 
that it was no use asking her, she would never come ! She used 
to like him before, so it must be all your fault, and I call it a 
beastly shame, and I don't care what you say ! ' 

All of this was quite new to Mark. Mabel had studiously 
avoided all allusion to Vincent, and it had never occurred to Mark 
to speculate on the light in which she chose to regard his expla- 
nation that was all over, and he was little enough inclined to 
revive the subject. He began to be strangely troubled now. ' I 
don't know what you're talking about,' he said. 4 Is Holroyd ill ? 
it it is nothing serious, is it ? ' For he had seen very little of 
him lately, his obligation being too deep and too humiliating to 
make repeated visits at all desirable. 

* He looks all right,' said Colin, * but I heard mother say that 
he's very ill really, and she should have to put a stop to Dolly 
going to sit with him every day as she does, because because he 
might die quite suddenly at any time it's something wrong with 
his heart, she said, I believe. And yet he seems well enough. 
But oh, Mark, if if it's that, you ought to let Mabel make it up 
with him, whatever he's done. You might let her go and see him 
he would like it so, I know he would, though he wouldn't own 
it when I asked him. Only suppose he died ! I know Mabel 
would be sorry then ! ' 

Every word the boy said cut Mark to the heart he had never 
suggested to Mabel that she should avoid Vincent, and he could 
not be satisfied now until he had found out why she had done so ; 
his insight not being nearly keen enough to discover the reason for 
himself. 

' Give me his address,' he said, for he did not even know where 
Holroyd was living, and as soon as the boy had gone Mark drove 



96 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 



to the place he had mentioned, a house in Cambridge Terrace, 
instead of returning home at once as he had previously intended. 

He did not believe that the illness was as serious as Colin had 
implied; of course that was exaggerated ; but he could not be quite 
easy until he had reassured himself by a visit, and some lingering 
feeling of self-reproach drove him to make this atonement for his 
long neglect. 

The Langtons' carriage was at the door when he arrived ; and 
as he came into the sitting-room on the second floor, he heard 
Dolly's clear little voice and paused, hidden by the screen at the 
door. She was reading to Vincent, who was lying back in an arm- 
chair; it was Hans Andersen's < Story of the Shadow,' a choice to 
which she had been guided by pure accident. 

Mark heard her read the half-sad, half-cynical conclusion as 
he stood there unseen : 

" The Princess and the Shadow stepped out on the balcony to 
show themselves, and to receive one cheer more. But the learned 
man heard nothing of all these festivities for he had already 
been executed." 

'How horrid of that wicked Shadow!' was Dolly's indignant 
comment as she finished. ' Oh, Vincent, aren't you very, very sorry 
for the poor learned man ? ' 

6 Much sorrier for the Shadow, Dolly,' he replied : a reply of 
which Dolly would have insisted upon an explanation, had not 
Mark then come forward. 

He murmured some confused sentence accounting for his 
visit. 

' I have been wondering whether I should see you again,' said 
Vincent. * Dolly, you had better go now, dear, it is getting late 
you will come and read me another story to-morrow ? ' 

4 If mother will let me,' said Dolly ; 'and I tell you what, next 
time I come I'll bring Frisk ; you want amusing, I know, and he's 
a nice cheerful dog to have in a room with you.' 

When Mark returned from putting her into the carriage, 
Vincent said, ' Is there anything you want to say to me, Ash- 
burn?' 

' Yes,' said Mark, < I know I have no right to trouble you. I 
know you can never really forgive me.' 

4 1 thought so once,' said Vincent, but I have done with all 
that. I forgave you long ago. Tell me if I can help you ? ' 

' I have just heard for the first time,' said Mark, < that that 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 97 

my wife has not has not treated you very kindly lately. And I 
came here to ask you if I am the cause.' 

Vincent flushed suddenly, and his breath was laboured and 
painful for a moment. ' What is the use of bringing that up 
now? ' he asked; * is it a pleasant subject for either of us ? Let 
it rest.' 

4 1 had no intention of paining you,' said Mark, < I ought not 
to have asked you. I I will ask Mabel herself.' 

4 You must not do that ! ' said Vincent, with energy ; ' you 
might have spared me this you might have guessed. Still I 
will tell you it may do good. Yes, you are the cause, Ashburn; 
the lie I told on that evening of the rehearsal has borne its penalty, 
as lies will, and the penalty has fallen upon me heavily. Ask 
yourself what your wife must think of the man I made myself 
appear ! ' 

4 Good God ! ' groaned Mark, who saw this now for the first time. 

' You see,' Vincent pursued, ' I am dying now, with the know- 
ledge that I shall never see her face again ; that when I am gone 
she will not spare me a single regret, that she will make haste to 
lose my very memory. I don't complain, it is for her good, and I 
am content. Don't imagine I tell you this as a reproach. Only 
if you are ever tempted again to do anything which may put her 
happiness in danger, or weaken the confidence she has in you, 
remember what it has cost another man to secure them, and I think 
you will resist then.' 

' Vincent ! ' cried Mark brokenly, ' it can't be ; you are not 
not dying ! ' 

< My doctor tells me so,' said Vincent. < I have been prepared 
for it a long time, and it must be coming near now but there, 
we have talked enough about that. Don't fancy from anything 
I have said that I have lost all faith in you you will find, very* 
soon, perhaps, how little that is so. ... Are you going already ? ' 
he added, as Mark rose hastily. Good-bye, then ; come and see 
me when you can, and if we are not to meet again you will not 
forget, I know.' 

4 No, I shall not forget,' was all Mark could say just then, and 
left the house. He could not trust himself to bear any longer 
the expression of confidence and regard which he saw once more 
upon his friend's face. 

As he walked home his mind was haunted by what he had just 
heard. Vincent dying, his last hours embittered by Mabel's 

VOL. III.^-NO. 13, N. S. 5 



98 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

coldness. Mark could not suffer that she must see him once 
more, she must repair the horrible injustice she had shownhe 
would urge her to relent ! 

And yet, how could she repair it, unless her eyes were opened ? 
Gradually he became aware that a final crisis had come in his life> 
just as he thought all was well with him. He had said to himself, 
4 Peace, peace ! ' and it had only been an armistice. Would the 
results of that shameful act always rise up against him in this 
way ? What was he to do ? 

He had felt as deep a shame and remorse for his past conduct 
as he was capable of, but hitherto he had supposed that the wrong 
had been comfortably righted, that he himself was after all the 
chief, if not the sole sufferer. 

That consolation was gone now; he knew what Mabel had 
been to Vincent, and what it must be to him now to feel that he 
must bear this misconception to the end. Could Mark accept 
this last sacrifice? More and more he felt that he stood where 
two paths met : that he might hold his peace now, and let his 
friend go down misunderstood to the grave, but that all his 
past baseness would be nothing to that final meanness.; that if he 
paltered this time, if he chose the easy path, he might indeed be 
safe for ever from discovery, but his soul would be stained with a 
dishonour that nothing would ever cleanse ; that he would have 
done with self-respect and peace of mind for ever. And yet if he 
took the other path, the right one, where would it lead him ? 

And so he reached his house in miserable indecision, driven 
this way and that by contending impulses, loathing the prospect 
of this crowning infamy, yet shrinking from the sole alternative. 
He found Mabel sitting alone in the firelight. 

* How did you get on ? ' she asked eagerly ; 4 you won your case ? * 
4 My case ? ' he repeated blankly, so far away did all that seem 

now. ' Oh yes, my case the Lord Chief sums up to-morrow. I 
think we shall get a verdict.' 

* Sit down and tell me all about it,' she said. < I will ring for 
the lamp. I can't see your face.' 

' No,' said Mark, < don't ring ; it is better as it is.' 
She was struck by something in his voice. 

* You are tired, dear,' she said. 

' Very tired,' he confessed, with a heavy sigh ; and then, 
with one of his sudden promptings, he said, < Mabel, I have just 
seen Vincent he is verv ill.' 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 99 

< 1 know,' she said. < Is he worse ? ' 

< Dying,' he answered gloomily. ' I want to ask you a ques- 
tion is it true that you have been thinking very harshly of him 
lately?' 

' I cannot think well of him,' she replied. 

< Will you tell me why ? ' he demanded. Even then he tried to 
cherish the faint hope that her resentment might have another 
cause. 

< Cannot you guess ? ' she asked. < Ah, no, you are too gene- 
rous to feel it yourself. How can I feel kindly towards the man 
who could let you sacrifice your name and your prospects for a 
caprice of his own, who persuaded you to entangle yourself in a 
manner that might, for all he knew or cared, ruin you for life ? ' 

6 Even if that were so,' said Mark, * he is dying, remember. 
Think what it would be to him to see you once more Mabel, 
will you refuse to go to him ? ' 

6 He should not have asked this of me,' cried Mabel. 6 Oh, 
Mark, you will think me hard, unchristian, I know, but I can't do 
this not even now, when he is dying ... he ought not to have 
asked it.' 

4 Mabel,' he cried, < he did not ask it you do not know him 
if you think that. Do you still refuse ? ' 

' I must, I must,' repeated Mabel. * Oh, if it had been I who 
was the injured one, I do not think I should feel like this ; it is for 
you I cannot forgive. If I went now, what good would it do ? 
Mark, it is wicked of me, but I could not say what he would 
expect not yet, not yet you must not ask me.' 

Mark knew now that the decisive moment had come : there 
was only one way left of moving her ; there was no time to lose if 
he meant to take it. 

Must he speak the words which would banish him from his 
wife's heart for ever, just when hope had returned to his life, just 
when he had begun to feel himself worthier of her love ? It was so 
easy to say no more, to leave her in her error, and the shadow 
would pass away, and his happiness be secure. But could he be 
sure of that ? The spectre had risen so many times to mock him, 
would it ever be finally laid ? And if Mabel learnt the truth when 
it was too late ? no, he could not bear to think of what would 
happen then ! 

And yet how was he to begin in what words could he break it 
to her ? His heart died within him at the duty before him, and he 

52 

r 



100 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

sat in the firelit room, tortured with indecision, and his good and 
bad angel fought for him. And then, all at once, almost in spite 
of himself, the words came : 

4 Mabel,' he cried, Holroyd has done nothing do you hear ? 
nothing to call for forgiveness ... oh, if you could under- 
stand without my saying more ! ' 

She started, and her voice had an accent, first of a new hope, 
then of a great fear. 

< Is Vincent better than he seemed ? But how can that be if 
tell me, Mark, tell me everything.' 

Mark shrank back ; he dared not tell her. 

4 Not now,' he groaned. 'My (rod! what am I doing? 
Mabel, I can't tell you ; have pity on yourself on me ! ' 

She rose and came to him. * If you have anything to tell me, 
tell me now,' she said. ' I am quite strong ; it will not hurt me. 
You must not leave me in this uncertainty that will kill me ! 
Mark, if you love me, I entreat you to save me from being unjust 
to Vincent. Kemember, he is dying you have told me so ! ' 

He rose and went to the sideboard ; there was water there, 
and he poured some out and drank it before he could speak. 
Then he came back to the fireplace, and leaned against the mantel- 
board. 

4 You will hate me before I have finished,' he said at last, 
6 but I will tell you.' 

And then he began, and painfully, with frequent breaks and 
nervous hurrying at certain passages, he told her everything the 
whole story of his own shame and of Holroyd's devotion. He did 
not spare himself; he did not even care to give such excuses as 
might have been made for him in the earlier stages of his fraud. 
If his atonement was late, it was at least a full one. 

She listened without a word, without even a sob, and when he 
had come to the end she sat there silent still, as if turned to stone. 
The stillness grew so terrible that Mark could bear no more. 

* Speak to me, Mabel,' he cried in his agony, for God's sake, 
speak to me ! ' 

She rose, supporting herself with one trembling hand, even 
in the firelight her face was deathly pale. Take me to him first,' 
she said, and the voice was that of a different woman ; < after that 
I will speak to you.' 

6 To Vincent ? ' he asked, half stupefied by what he was 
suffering. < Not to-night, Mabel ; you must not ! ' 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 



101 



6 1 must,' she replied ; ' if you will not take me I shall go alone 
quick, let us lose no time ! ' 

He went out into the main road and hailed a cab, as he had 
done often enough before for one of their journeys to dinner or 




the theatre ; when he returned Mabel was already standing cloaked 
and hooded at the open door. 

6 Tell him to drive fast fast,' she said feverishly, as he helped 
her into the hansom, and she did not open her lips again till it 
stopped. 



102 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

He glanced at her face now and then, when the shop-lights 
revealed her profile as she lay back in her corner ; it was pale and 
set, her eyes were strained, but she had shed no tears ; he sat 
there and recalled the merry journeys they had had together side 
by side on evenings like this, when he had been sorry that the 
drive should ever end how long this one was ! 

The cab reached Cambridge Terrace at last. Mark instinc- 
tively looked at the upper windows of the house they were all 
dark. ' Stay here, till I have asked,' he said to Mabel before he 
got out ; c we may we may be too late.' 

Vincent had been moved to his sleeping-room, where he was 
sitting in his arm-chair ; the trained nurse who had been engaged 
to wait upon him had left him for a while, the light was lowered, 
and he was lying still in the dreamy exhaustion which was becom- 
ing more and more his normal state. 

Some months before he had received his death-warrant : the 
harassing struggles against blight and climate in Ceylon, the 
succession of illnesses which had followed them, and the excitement 
and anxiety that he underwent on his return, had ended in an 
affection of the heart, which by the time he thought it sufficiently 
serious to need advice, was past all cure. 

He had heard the verdict calmly, for he had little to make him 
in love with life ; but while the book in which he had already begun 
to find distraction was unfinished, there was still work for him to 
do, and he was anxious to leave it completed. The efforts he made 
to effect this, if they shortened his life, at least prevented him 
from dwelling upon its approaching end, and his wish was gratified. 
He fixed his mind steadily on his task, and though each day saw 
less accomplished and with more painful labour, the time came 
when he reached the last page and threw down his pen for ever. 

Now he was on the brink of the stream, and the plash of the 
ferryman's oar could be heard plainly ; the world behind him had 
already grown distant and dim ; even of the book which had been 
in his mind so long, he thought but little he had done with it 
all ; whether it brought him praise or blame from man, he would 
never learn now, and was content to be in ignorance. 

The same lethargy had mercifully deadened to some extent the 
pain of Mabel's injustice, until Mark's visit had revived it that 
afternoon. He had come to think of it all now without bitterness ; 
it might be that in some future state she would wake, and re- 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. * 103 

member, and understand,' and the wrong be righted but it had 
always seemed to him that in another existence all earthly mis- 
understandings must seem too infinitely pitiful and remote to be 
worth unravelling, or even recalling, and so he could not find much 
comfort there. 




But at least he had not been worsted in the conflict with his 
lower nature. Mabel's happiness was now secure from the worst 
danger, the struggle was over, and he was glad, for there had been 
times when he had almost sunk under it. 

So he was thinking dreamily as he sat there, while now and 
then a cloud would drift across his thoughts as he lost himself in 
a, kind of half-slumber. 



104 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

He was roused by sounds on the stairs outside, and presently 
he heard a light step in the farther room. ' I am not asleep,' he 
said, believing the nurse had returned. 

Vincent,' said a low tremulous voice, '.it is I Mabel.' 

Then he looked up, and even in that half-light he saw that 
the figure standing there in the open doorway was the one which 
had been chief in his thoughts. 

Unprepared as he was for such a visitor, he felt no surprise- 
only a deep and solemn happiness as he saw her standing before 
him. 

' You have come then,' he said ; ' I am very glad. You must 
think less hardly of me or you would not be here.' 

She had only obtained leave to see him on her earnest entreaties 
and promises of self-restraint, but his first words sorely tried her 
fortitude ; she came to his chair and sank down beside it, taking 
his hands in both hers. 'Vincent,' she cried, with a sob that 
would not be repressed, ' I cannot bear it if you talk so. ... I 
know all, all that you have suffered and given up ... he has told 
me at last ! ' 

Vincent looked down with an infinite pity upon the sweet con- 
trite face raised to his. ' You poor child,' he said, 'you know then ? 
How could he tell you I Mabel, I tried so hard to spare you this 
and now it has come ! What can I say to you ? ' 

' Say that you forgive me if you ever can ! ' she said, ' when 
I remember all the hard things I said and thought of you, when 
all the time oh, I was blind, or I must have seen the truth ! And 
I can never, never make it up to you now ! ' 

' Do you think,' he asked, ' that to see you here, and know that 
you understand me at last, would not make up for much harder 
treatment than I ever had from you, Mabel ? If that were all 
but he has told you, you said, told you the whole sad story., 
Mabel what are you going to do ? ' 

She put the question aside with a gesture of heartsick pride : 
4 What does it matter about me ? I can only think of you just 
now let me forget all the rest, while I may ! ' 

'Dying men have their privileges,' he said, ''and I have not 
much more time. Mabel, I must ask you : What have vou said 
to Mark?' 

' Nothing,' she said, with a low moan : ' what Was there to say? 
He must know that he has no wife now.' 

' Mabel, you have not left him ! ' he cried. 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 105 

6 Not yet,' she said, turning away wearily ; * he brought me to 
this house he is here now, I believe. . . . You are torturing 
me with these questions, Vincent.' 

< Answer me this once,' he persisted. ' Do you mean to leave 
him?' 

She rose to her feet. ' What else can I do,' she demanded, 
6 now that I know ? The Mark I loved has gone for ever he never 
even existed ! I have no husband beyond the name. I have been 
in a dream all this time, and I wake to find myself alone ! Only 
an hour ago and Mark was all the world to me think what he 
must be to me from this time ! No, I cannot live with him. I 
could not breathe the same air with him. I am ashamed that I 
could ever have loved him. He is all unworthy and mean and 
false, and I thought him so noble and generous ! ' 

* You are too hard,' said Vincent ; ' he is not all bad, he was 
weak not wicked ; if I had not felt that, I should never have 
tried to keep his secret, and forced him, against his will, to 
keep it himself. And now he has confessed it all to you, when 
there was no fear of discovery to urge him, only because he could 
not endure the thought of my bearing your displeasure to the end. 
He did not know that that was so till this afternoon, and I told 
him without thinking it would have that effect on him I did 
him an injustice there. He must have gone back and accused 
himself at once. Think, Mabel, was there nothing unselfish and 
brave in that ? He knew what you would think of him, he knew 
that he was safe if he kept silence and yet he spoke, because he 
preferred the worst for himself to allowing me to bear the penalty 
for his sins. Is a man who could act thus utterly lost ? ' 

' Lost to me ! ' she said passionately. * The confession came too 
late ; and how could any confession atone for such a sin ! No, 
he is too unworthy : I can never trust him, never forgive him ! ' 

4 1 do not ask you to forgive him now,' he urged ; * he has done 
you a great wrong, your love and faith have received a cruel shock ; 
and you cannot act and feel as if this had never been. I under- 
stand all that. Only do not close the door on forgiveness for ever, 
do not cut him off from all chance of winning back something 
of the confidence he has lost. The hope of that will give him 
strength and courage ; without that hope to keep him up, without 
your influence, he will surely lose heart and be lost for ever. His 
fate rests with you : have you thought of that ? ' 

She was silent, but her face was still unconvinced. 



106 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

6 You think your love is dead,' he went on, < and yet, Mabel, 
something tells me that love will not die easily with you. What 
if you find this is so at some future time, when the step you are 
bent upon has been taken, and you cannot retreat from it ? What 
if, when you call him back, it is too late ; and he will not, or can- 
not, return to you ? ' 

' I shall never call him back,' she said. 

< You will have no pity on him for his sake or your own,' 
Vincent pleaded ; ' will you not for mine ? Mabel, let me say 
something to you about myself. I have loved you for years 
you are not angry with me for telling you so now, are you ? 
I loved you well enough to put your happiness before all other 
things ; it was for that I made any sacrifices I have made ; it 
was for that I was willing even that you should think hardly 
of me.' 

' For me ! ' she cried : * was it for me you have done all this ? 
How I have repaid you ! ' 

* I was repaid by the belief that it secured your happiness,' 
he answered. I thought, rightly or wrongly, that I was justified 
in deceiving you for your own good. But now you are taking 
away all this from me, Mabel ! I must die with the sense of 
having failed miserably, when I thought I was most successful, 
with the knowledge that by what I have done I have only in- 
creased the evil ! Must I leave you with your happy home 
blighted past recovery, with nothing before you but a lonely, 
barren existence? Must I think of you living out your life, 
proud and unforgiving, and wretched to the end ? I entreat you 
to give me some better comfort, some brighter prospect than that 
you will punish me for my share in it all by refusing what I 
ask : but will you refuse ? ' 

She came back to him. * No,' she said brokenly, ' I have given 
you pain enough, I will refuse you nothing now, only it is so hard 
tell me what I am to do ! ' 

4 Do not desert him, do not shame him before the world ! ' he 
said; 'bear with him still, give him the chance of winning back 
what he has lost. Peace may be long in coming to you but it 
will come some day, and even if it never comes at all, Mabel, you 
will have done your duty, there will be a comfort in that. Will 
you promise this, for my sake ? ' 

She raised her face, which she had hidden in her hands. ' I 
promise for your sake,' she said, and at her words he sank back 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 107 

with a sigh of relief his work was over, and the energy he had 
summoned up to accomplish it left him suddenly. 

'Thank you!' he said faintly; 'you have made me happier, 
Mabel. I should like to see Mark, but I am tired. I shall sleep 
now.' 

' I will come to-morrow,' she said, and, bending over him, she 
kissed his forehead. She had not kissed him since the time when 
she was a child and he an undergraduate, devoted to her even 
then ; and now that kiss and the touch of her hand lingered with 
him till he slept, and perhaps followed him some little way into 
the land of dreams. 

Mark had been waiting in a little dark sitting-room on a lower 
floor ; he had not dared to follow Mabel. At last, after long hours, 
as it seemed, of slow torment, he heard her descending slowly, 
and came to meet her ; she was very pale and had been weeping, 
but her manner was composed now. 

* Let us go home,' was all she said to him, and they drove back 
in silence as they had come. But when they had reached their 
home Mark could bear his uncertainty no longer. 

' Mabel,' he said, and his voice shook, ' have you nothing to 
say to me, still ? ' 

She met his appealing gaze with eyes that bore no reproach, 
only a fixed and hopeless sadness in their clear depths. 

* Yes,' she said, ' let us never speak again of of what you have 
told me to-night you must make me forget it, if you can.' 

The sudden relief almost took away his breath. * You do not 
mean to leave me then ! ' he cried impulsively, as he came towards 
her and seemed about to take her hand. ' I thought I had lost you 
but you will not do that, Mabel, you will stay with me ? ' 

She shrank from him ever so slightly, with a little instinctive 
gesture of repugnance, which the wretched man noted with agony. 

' I will not leave you,' she said, ' I did mean but that is over, 
you owe it to him. I will stay with you, Mark it may not be for 
much longer.' 

Her last words chilled him with a deadly fear; his terrible 
confession had escaped him before he had had time to remember 
much that might well have excused him, even to himself, for 
keeping silence then. 

* My (rod ! ' he cried in his agony when she had left him, ' is 
that to be my punishment ? Oh, not that any shame, any disgrace 
but that ! ' 



108 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 



And he lay awake long, struggling hard against a terror that 
was to grow nearer and more real with each succeeding day. 

Vincent's sleep was sweet and sound that night, until, with 
the dawn, the moment came when it changed gently and painlessly 
into a sleep that was sounder still, and within the plain common- 
place bedroom ' the shadow of white Death ' spread apace. 



CHAPTEE XLIL 

FROM THE GRAVE. 

HE days went by ; Mark 
had followed Vincent to- 
the grave, with a sorrow 
in which there was no- 
feigning, and now the 
Angel of Death stood at 
his own door, and Love 
strove in vain to keep 
him back. For the fear 
which had haunted Mark 
of late had been brought 
near its fulfilment 
Mabel lay dangerously 
ill, and it seemed that 
the son she had borne 
was never to know a 
mother's care. 

Throughout one ter- 
rible week Mark never 

left the house on Campden Hill, while Mabel wavered between- 
life and death. He was not allowed to see her; she had not 
expressed any wish as yet to see him, he learnt from Mrs. 
Langton, who. had cast off all her languor before her daughter's- 
peril, and was in almost constant attendance upon her. Mabel 
appeared in fact to have lost all interest in life, and the natural 
desire for recovery which might have come to her aid was 
altogether wanting, as her mother saw with a pained surprise, and 
commented upon to the conscience-stricken Mark. 




THE GIANT'S ROBE. 109 

Day after day he sat in the little morning-room, which looked 
as if she had but left it for an instant, even while he knew that 
she might never enter it again ; sat there listening and waiting 
for the words which would tell him that all hope was at an end. 

The doctors came and went, and there were anxious inquiries 
and whispered answers at the cautiously opened front-door, while 
from time to time he heard on the stairs, or in the room above, 
hurried footsteps, each of which trod heavy upon his aching heart. 

People came sometimes to sit with him. Trixie, for instance, 
who had married her artist, and was now comfortably established 
in a decorative little cottage at Bedford Park, came daily, and as 
she had the tact to abstain from any obviously unfounded assump- 
tion of hopefulness, her presence did him good, and perhaps 
saved him from breaking down under the prolonged strain. 

Martha, too, even though she had never been able to feel 
warmly towards her sister-in-law, cast aside some of her prejudice 
and held aloof no longer. 

Martha was inclined to take a serious view of things, having 
caught something of her mother's gloomy Puritanism, which her 
own unhappy disposition and contracted life had done nothing to 
sweeten, and not a little to embitter. She was not, perhaps, in- 
capable of improving the occasion for her brother's benefit even 
then, by warnings against devotion to perishable idols, and hints 
of chastenings which were intended as salutary. 

But somehow, when she saw his lined and colourless face, and 
the look of ghastly expectation that came and went upon it at the 
slightest unexpected sound without, she lost hold of the conviction 
that his bereavement would work for his spiritual benefit; her 
words in season died unspoken on her lips, and she gave way at 
parting to tears of pity and sympathy, in which the saint was 
completely forgotten in the sister and the woman. 

And now it was evening, and he was alone once more, pre- 
tending to read, and thinking drearily of what was coming ; for 
the doctor had just left, and his report had been less encouraging 
than ever a change must come before long, he had said, and 
from his manner it was too clear what he thought that change 
would be. 

Mark let his thoughts wander back to his brief married life, 
doomed to be cut short by the very fraud which had purchased it. 
They had been so happy, and it was all over henceforth he would 
be alone. 



110 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

She was leaving him after all, and he could not even feel that 
her love would abide with him when she had gone. Oh, the un- 
speakable agony of knowing that she welcomed death as a release 
from him ! 

Never now could he hope to regain the heart he had lost : she 
despised him and she was dying. 

No, she must not die, he cried wildly in his extremity : how 
could he live without her ? Oh, that she might be given back to- 
him, even though he could never make the dead love live in her 
heart again ! Had he not suffered enough was not this a punish- 
ment beyond his sin ? 

And yet, as he looked back, he knew that he himself had 
brought about this punishment, that it was but the stern and 
logical sequence of his fraud. 

There was a low tap at the door, and he started to his feet. 
The summons had come ; no need to question the messenger who 
brought it. He heard the first words and passed her hastily. 

He entered the room where Mabel was lying, and fell on his 
knees by her bedside, bowing his head upon the quilt in agonised 
despair, after one glance at her pale sweet face. 

' My darling my darling ! ' he cried, < don't leave me. . . you 
promised oh, remember. . . this is not not good-bye \ ' 

She laid a weak and slender hand on his dark hair in a caress 
that was more in pity than in love. ' They have not told you ? 9 
she said, ' I asked nurse to prepare you. I knew you would be so 
anxious. No, dear, it is not good-bye. I feel much better ; I am 
quite sure now that I am going to get well. I wanted to tell you 
so myself. I must live for baby's sake I can't die and leave him 
alone ! ' 

And even in the ecstasy of relief which Mark felt at her words 
there was a spasm of sobering jealousy : she only cared to live for 
the child's sake not for his. 



THE GIANT'S ROBE. 



Ill 




CONCLUSION. 

HOSE who know Mark now are inclined to 
envy his good fortune. His literary mistakes 
are already beginning to be forgotten ; the 
last breath of scandal was extinguished when 
it became known that Vincent Holroyd had 
dedicated his posthumous work to his college 
friend, to whom he also confided the duties 
of editor duties which Mark accepted 
humbly, and discharged faithfully. 

His name is becoming known in legal 
circles not as a profound lawyer, which he 
will never be to the end of his career, but as 
a brilliant advocate, with a plausibility that is 
effective with the average juryman, and an 
acquaintance with legal principles which is not too close to 
prevent a British unconsciousness that a cause can ever be lost. 

Society has, in a great measure, forgiven the affront he put 
upon it, and receives him to its bosom once more, while his home 
life can hardly fail to be happy ; with his young and charming 
wife, and the only child, to whom she devotes herself. 

If the story of his life were better known than it will ever be 
now, he would certainly be thought to have escaped far more easily 
than he deserved. 

And yet his punishment still endures, and it is not a light one. 
It is true that the world is prospering outwardly with him, true 
that the danger is over, that Harold Caffyn has not been heard of 
for some time, and that, whether alive or dead, he can never come 
between Mabel and her husband again, since she knows already 
e worst that there is to tell. 

But there are penalties exacted in secret which are scarcely 
preferable to open humiliation. The love which Mark feels for his 
young wife, by its very intensity, dooms him to a perpetual penance. 
For the barrier between them is not yet completely broken 
down ; sometimes he fears that it never will be, though nothing 
in her manner to him gives him any real reason to despair. But 
he is always tormenting himself with the fancy that her gentleness 
is only forbearance, her tenderness pity, and her devotion comes 



112 THE GIANT'S ROBE. 

from her sense of duty morbid ideas, which even hard work and 
constant excitement can only banish for a time. 

Whether he can ever fill the place he once held in his wife's 
heart is a question which only time can decide : ' Le denigrement 
de ceux que nous aimons,' says the author of ' Madame Bovary,' 
4 toujours nous en detache quelque peu. II ne faut pas toucher 
aux idoles : la dorure en reste aux mains ; ' and in Mabel's case the 
idol had been more than tarnished, and had lost rather its divinity 
than its gilding. 

But in spite of all she loves him still, though the character 
of her love may be changed ; and loves him more than he dares 
to hope at present ; while the blank that might have been in her 
life is filled by her infant son, her little Vincent, whom she will 
strive to arm against the temptations that proved too strong for his 
father. 

Vincent Holroyd's second book was received with cordial ad- 
miration, though it did not arouse any extraordinary excitement. 

It cannot be said to possess the vigour and freshness of 
* Illusion,' and betrays in places the depression and flagging energy 
of the writer's condition ; but it has certainly not lessened the 
reputation which he had won by the earlier work, to which it is 
even preferred by some who are considered to be judges. 

And there is one at least who will never read it without a 
passion of remorseful pity, as its pages tell her more of a nature 
whose love was unselfish and chivalrous, and went unrewarded to 
the end. 



THE END. 



THE 



COENHILL MAGAZINE. 



AUGUST, 1884. 



ARCHDEACON HOLD EN'S TRIBULATION. 



HE was so frail and small that the 
country squires who came in at 
the one stopping-place and left 
the train at the next, and talked 
of petty sessions and highway- 
boards in a strong slow way, like 
men with a tight grasp of a 
slippery subject, felt fatherly to- 
wards her ; and so fair that their 
sons found out new and painful 
ways of sitting which hid dirty 
boots, and strange modes of 
propping their guns which em- 
ployed hands suddenly gifted with 
a sense of over-abundance ; and 
so dainty, yet withal bright of eye 
and lip, that a gentleman who 
got in one stage from Stirhamp- 
ton, and knew her, was tormented by his fancy : which pictured 
her as a sparkling gem in its nest of jeweller's satin. Altogether 
so frail and fair and dainty was this passenger ; and yet in the 
flush of her young beauty and fearless nature, there was about her 
so imperious a charm that they all, though they might travel with 
her but three miles it was a dreadful train and exchange 
with her not three words, became her slaves. And the gentleman 
who knew her grovelled before her in spirit to an extent un- 
becoming in a man, much more in a clergyman and a curate. 
VOL. in. NO. H, N. s. 6 




114 ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 

She was popular, too. For though she parted from him at the 
door of the carriage, she fell in almost at once with another who 
knew her. His business, as far as any save chatting with her was 
apparent, seemed to be about the book- stall. And after she had 
gone laughing from him, and the servant who met her and was 
equally her slave with all the others, though he was more like a 
bishop and a father of the Church than they promised ever to be 
had taken her luggage in charge, she met yet another, who blushed, 
and bowed, and smiled, and stammered before her after his kind. 
With him she was very merry until their roads diverged if he 
had any road which was not of the nature of the last one's business. 
And then she tripped on just as gaily with a very tall acquaintance 
they were all of one sex and after him with another, who took up 
the walking where his predecessor left off, just for all the world as 
if she were a royal letter, and they were those old Persian post- 
runners, who made so little of ' parasangs,' and whose roads seemed 
always to be through ' Paradises.' But this last one brought her 
to the rectory gates, and much lamenting left her. 

There was only Granny in the drawing-room when Dorothy 
ran up stairs. Granny, who was eighty-seven, and with a screen 
at her back and a wood-fire toasting her old toes, could tell 
wonderful tales of the great war. Who had heard ' Clarissa ' read 
aloud coram puellis, and at times shocked a mealy-mouthed 
generation by pure plain-speaking. She was the Archdeacon's 
grandmother ; but to Dorothy what relation she was, or whether 
she was any relation, not all Stirhampton could tell though it 
spent itself in guessing, and dallied to some extent with a sug- 
gestion that she was Dorothy's great-great aunt ; not, however, 
committing itself to this, nor altogether breaking with a rival 
theory, that they were first cousins three times removed. 

Whatever she was, Dorothy hugged her a score of times, and 
the tiny old lady said, * G-od bless you, my dear,' half as many, and 
was going on to her full number, when the Archdeacon himself 
came in. He, too, smiled upon seeing the girl, and smoothed his 
ruffled brow, and tried to be as if the drawing-room when he 
was in it were all his world. For this was a part of the Arch- 
deacon's system, and he was of note through four dioceses as a 
man of system. So he patted the girl's hair, and said kindly : 

6 Well, my dear, I trust you have had a pleasant visit ? ' 

< Oh, charming ! and yet I am so glad to be at home again ! 
But, guardian, what is the matter ? ' 



ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 115 

The Archdeacon was vexed and pleased. Vexed that his 
attempt had not succeeded, and pleased that he could now tell his 
trouble. 'The matter, my dear ? ' he said, taking a turn up and 
down the room ; ' why, I am greatly annoyed and put out. I 
never knew such a thing happen before.' 

Granny clasped her hands upon the arms of her chair in 
sudden excitement. ' It isn't overdrawn, George, is it ? ' she said, 
nervously. 

6 Overdrawn ! ' he replied, cheerfully, 6 not at all.' There had 
been a time when he was not an archdeacon, or a rector, or even 
in orders, but only a hard-reading undergraduate, when Granny's 
banking account had been with great difficulty kept above zero. 
Then it was her bugbear ; now the family fortunes were as solidly 
substantial as the comfortable red brick rectory itself; but Granny 
found some difficulty in laying her bogey. * Not at all. Not so 
bad as that,' he said, cheerfully; ' but very annoying, nevertheless. 
I was writing my Sunday evening sermon this afternoon as I 
always do, you know, on Friday when Whiteman came running 
in to me at five minutes after four, and said there was no one at 
the church to take the four o'clock service. Of course I had to 
break off and go. The congregation had to wait fully ten minutes. 
It is not so much the inroad upon my time, though that is not 
unimportant, as the lack of system, that I deplore. Maddy and 
Moser ' they were the married curates, and took charge of the two 
chapels of ease ' are, of course, engaged elsewhere ; but surely 
one of the other five might have been there. It is a piece of gross 
carelessness on the part of some one.' 

Dorothy nodded and looked gravely into the teapot. ' And I 
saw Mr. Gray on my way from the station ! ' she said. 

' Ah, just so. You did not meet any of the others ? ' 

' Yes, I think I did,' she replied, with a great show of candour. 
* Of course, I saw Mr. Bigham by the Church Club, and Mr. Brune 
in Wych Street.' 

6 Brune is the culprit, I expect. I do not think it would be 
Charles Emerson's fault, because he is unwell.' 

' Unwell ! ' cried the girl, impulsively. * Indeed, he is quite 
ill ; I never saw anyone look so bad.' 

' Oh ! and where may you have seen him ? ' asked the Arch- 
deacon, stopping suddenly in his promenade of the room, and 
facing her. 

Dorothy bit her tongue to punish it. There is nothing so 

62 



116 ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 

dangerous as a half-confidence. It so often leads, will-he-nill-he, 

to a whole one. < He got into the train at Bromfield. He had 

walked out there,' she said, meekly. Surprisingly meekly for her. 

6 Quite so. And may I ask whereabouts you met his brother ? ' 

< Met his brother ? ' 

4 Yes, my dear,' said the Archdeacon, suavely. 'Met his 
brother, Mr. Philip Emerson ? ' 

< Let me see,' murmured Dolly, with a vast pretence of con- 
sidering, though her little ears were scarlet by this time. ' Where 
did I meet Mr. Philip ? Of course, I met him at the station. 
But however did you know?' she asked, with the utmost 
effrontery. 

' When one sheep, Dorothy, jumps over a gap, all the flock 
follow. Four of my curates being so busily engaged meeting my 
ward, I had little doubt but that the fifth was as well occupied.' 

Unseen by him, she made a face at Granny, who was under- 
stood to say that boys would be boys. 

' And sheep, sheep ! ' retorted the Archdeacon, with sharpness. 

' They did not tell me that they had come to meet me,' said 
Dolly, rebelliously. She did not like that proverb or whatever 
it was about sheep. 

The Archdeacon frowned. * No,' he said, severely, ' but I do 
not doubt that you would have been better pleased with them if 
they had. Let me speak to you seriously, Dorothy. I cannot I 
really cannot have you distracting these young men in this way. 
I observed before you left several little matters of this kind little 
laxities, and a want of energy and punctuality, on their part that 
were due, I fear, to your influence.' 

* Little laxities ! ' murmured she, ' I never heard of such 
things.' But he put her aside with a grand wave of his hand. 

6 1 am not inclined to say it is altogether your fault. You 
cannot help your looks or your youth, but you can avoid being a 
hindrance instead of an assistance in the parish. I must not 
suffer ' he was working himself into a well-regulated passion 
' my arrangements to be disorganised even by you. I will not 
and I cannot say, were this to go on, what steps it might not be 
my duty, however painful, to take.' 

After uttering this tremendous threat the Archdeacon walked 
hastily across the room, and, turning, looked to see what effect 
it had had upon his ward. She was playing with her tea-spoon, 
tapping petulantly with her foot, reddening, and pouting, and 






ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 117 

glancing for sympathy at Granny; behaving altogether like 
a naughty school-girl under reproof. He took another turn, 
feeling that he did well thoroughly well, to be angry ; and looked 
again. She had risen, and was leaving the room. He could only 
see her back. I don't know what it was perhaps he could not 
tell himself in the pose of her little head and her shoulders, or 
whether it was something quite outside her which made him 
step after her, and touch her shoulder gently. 

< There, there ! ' he said, staying her kindly. ' My scolding has 
not been very dreadful, Dorothy. We must be good friends again. 
Will you please to give me my second cup, and then I will go 
back and finish my other sermon.' 

Granny looked surprised, and Dorothy laughed as brightly as 
if there were not and never had been in the world such a thing as 
a tear. For the Archdeacon rarely made a joke, even a little one. 
Jokes cannot be made upon system, and Archdeacon Holden had 
found system so good a thing that any pursuit which did not 
admit of it was apt to be out of favour with him. He was gifted 
with great powers of organisation, and these he had used well, 
and found sufficient, so that by their means, without being a great 
preacher or a small controversialist, without inventing a new 
doctrine, or reviving an old garment, he had risen to preferment. 
He was little more than thirty when he was presented to the living 
of Stirhampton ; and though the parish was over-populated and 
under-churched, he reduced it in ten years to such a condition 
that it ranked as a model and its rector as a great man, often con- 
sulted by the heads of the Church upon parochial matters. More- 
over, men talked of him as of one likely to rise higher. 

In person he was a tall, well-favoured man, in the prime of 
life, with hair just beginning to be flecked with grey. He had 
nothing of the ascetic in his appearance, though his manners were 
cold and reserved ; but he was liberal, and had good nature and 
good temper, as well as good parts. These qualities, however, the 
strict formality of his habits, and his rigid adherence to rule, 
hid in a great measure from all who were not well acquainted 
with the man. 

To Dorothy he had been almost a father ; and would perhaps 
have come to be looked upon entirely in that light, but that he 
was betrayed from time to time by little things. For instance, 
what do fathers ordinary allowance-making, bill-paying fathers 
know of their girl's dresses ? The smallest chit in the nursery 



118 ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 

will tell you, nothing. And Carrie and Edie are so persuaded of this 
that they will flaunt their new seal-skins which have not been 
paid for, and are absurdly inconsistent with papa's allowance 
under his very nose, without the slightest tremor; and Flo will 
wear three new dresses in a quarter with as little chance of being 
prematurely found out in her extravagance, as if they were three 
new pairs of mittens. But in this respect the Archdeacon was not 
Dorothy's father. For not only did he observe during the few 
days which followed his scolding that she had not forgotten it ; 
that she went sadly or seemed to go sadly about the house, 
and shunned his visitors with a pensive air, leaving Mr. Maddy, 
who was over fifty, and had seven children, to pour out his own 
tea. Not only did he note this, but when Dorothy appeared at 
breakfast upon the fourth morning with a demure face and down- 
cast eyes, he marked the novelty of her quaker-like grey dress, 
with its plain collar and cuffs, as quickly as did Granny. 

6 That is very becoming, Dorothy,' he remarked, pleasantly. 
He wished to be upon the old footing with her. To tell you the 
truth, he was tired of that going sadly. The house seemed as 
soberly dull as when she was away. And of late he had come to 
think it was rather a dull house. She had been away a good 
deal. 

Becoming ! ' cried Dolly, to his surprise, in a piteous voice. 
6 And I had thought that this would do.' 

' Would do, my dear ? What do you mean ? So it does. It 
seems to me to do excellently.' He was slightly taken aback. 

' But I thought you said it was becoming ? ' she cried, queru- 
lously. You did, too. I heard it quite plainly.' 

< Well, my dear, and what more would you wish me to say ? 
It is it is very becoming.' 

He tried to speak in a tone at once critical and archidiaconal, 
such a tone as the paleontologist adopts when he admires a bone 
of the pliocene mammoth in the case of a. rival collector, or as 
paterfamilias uses when praising to order his girls' bonnets. 
He did not altogether succeed. The ribs of that primitive animal, 
though they have pretty curves enough, do not preen themselves 
before a mirror with a little fluttering blush, and bright backward 
glances, and quick-straying dainty fingers adjusting here and defin- 
ing there ; nor do they form together a picture such as none but 
paterfamilias himself no locum tenens, for instance can look on 
with a perfectly even pulse-beat. The Archdeacon felt that his 



ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 119 

tone was not quite the tone he had, so to speak, commissioned, 
and swallowed half a cup of hot coffee at a gulp. 

' Oh, dear ! ' he cried, hastily. 

' Oh, dear ! ' echoed the girl, stamping her foot in a pet. ' Then 
I don't know what to do. I am sure I thought this would please 
you, and I should not be likely to to do what you said I did in 
this. But now I shall not know what to do.' 

And she ran out of the room, leaving her guardian in a state 
of much doubt as to whether she were laughing or crying ; and 
perplexed, too, by uncertainty whether that grey dress sprang from 
a conscientious endeavour after sedateness, a real desire to improve 
for oft the habit doth proclaim the mind or from a freakish, 
wicked, contrary, wilful, teasing spirit, such as old Mrs. Fretchett 
had told him inhabited the bodies of young girls. 

Alas ! he was soon driven to be of old Mrs. Fretchett's opinions. 
There was no more sedateness, no more going sadly, after this ; 
nor ever did scolding seem more entirely thrown away than that 
extempore sermon upon the day of Dolly's return. She was gayer, 
prettier, more heedless, more flighty than of old. The drawing- 
room was never free from curates now, whose business might 
indeed be with the Archdeacon ; but by the time he was ready to 
talk it over, to audit their accounts, or sign their cheques, the 
gentlemen were always upstairs, and difficilis descensus Olympi. 
There were rumours of disagreements among the black-coated 
ones. The parish districts and especially their lady visitors 
declared that they were neglected ; the rector never got a quiet 
cup of tea in his own house, nor even a quiet placid moment ; for 
the sounds of young people laughing and, as Mrs. Fretchett called 
it, ' fribbling ' upstairs would float down to him working in his 
study, and then he would pish and pshaw, and move his chair im- 
patiently. And no wonder. It meant that the parish was taking 
its chance; it meant that his system was breaking down. He 
knew it did. He told himself he did well to be angry. And he 
did thoroughly well ; but after all it gave him small satisfaction. 
He began to feel more sore, and think more seriously about the 
matter every day. He could not have the work of ten years and 
more undone in this absurd fashion. Some remedy must be found. 
He might get rid of all the curates in a body, for violent diseases 
call for violent remedies ; but that might not turn out a remedy. 
Or Dorothy might be well, not dismissed exactly but disposed 
of out of the way in some sort or other. The more Archdeacon 



120 ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 

Holden thought it over, the more he was forced to the opinion 
that his duty lay in this direction. And then something happened 
which brought matters to a head. 

It was on the day of the Grammar School sports, which were 
held by his permission in the large field at the back of the rectory, 
where the old town wall, running round two sides of the enclosure, 
afforded a capital place of vantage for such spectators as did not 
wish to enter the ground. It was past five o'clock, and the sports 
were over. Of course the Archdeacon had attended them ; and 
then he had retired to his study, and was thinking of going 
upstairs to tea, when a renewal of the shouting in the rear of the 
house attracted his attention. Wondering what this might be he 
mounted to the drawing-room, and finding only Granny there, 
fenced in as usual with her screen, walked to the further window 
which overlooked the field. The sports, to all appearance, had 
been resumed, late as it was ; for though the ground was almost 
clear, a crowd was fast collecting upon the wall, and he could make 
out figures it was just growing dusk moving quickly round the 
ropes, which had not been taken away. One, two, three, four, five 
black figures moving swiftly in single file. 

' I am afraid this won't do. I don't think that this can be 
allowed,' he was beginning, shaking his head slowly, under the 
impression that the town boys had taken advantage of the place 
and occasion to get up a little impromptu competition of their own. 
6 1 don't think good heavens ! ' 

Granny awoke upon the instant, the Archdeacon's voice rang 
out so loud in anger and reprobation. ' What is it ? ' the old lady 
said, weakly, feeling for her stick. ' What is it, my dear ? I hope 
it is not much. You know it is very near quarter day, George, 
very near, and some money will be paid in then. Dear me, 
dear me ! ' 

Even in his wrathful astonishment the Archdeacon tried to say 
gently, < It is not that, Granny. It is nothing of any consequence. 
I shall be back in a moment.' 

And then he ran downstairs. * Nothing of any consequence,' 
indeed; three steps at a time, and so, bare-headed and his 
skirts flying behind him, reached the terrace, taking no notice 
of a couple of maids in the hall, who were looking through a 
window and giggling, and who fled at his approach. On the ter- 
race, with a charming hood over her head, was Dorothy, looking 
down into the field, and now laughing and now clapping a pair of 



ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 



121 



little gloved hands in great delight, a white rose on the wall before 
her. He scarce looked at her, but peered into the dusk. Yes, 
his eyes had not played him false. The five athletes speeding 
round the roped circle were his five curates, and none others. 

( Isn't it fun ? ' cried Dorothy at his side, all unconscious of his 
feelings. 4 The boys were nothing to them, they look so funny 




in their long coats. They are walking a mile, and the winner is 
to have this rose. Don't you think Mr. Bigham is gaining ? ' 

The Archdeacon was speechless. He glared at this mocker, 
and then at the crowd upon the wall opposite the cheering, 
shouting, growing crowd and breathed hard. Funny ! Fun ! 
Had the girl lost all sense of decorum ? He would waste no words 
upon her ; but he ran down the steps and strode across the grass 

65 



122 ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 

as swiftly as his dignity, a little impaired by haste and passion, 
would permit. Fortunately the competitors were just then at the 
near side of the circle. But, for that very reason, by the time he 
approached the ropes, the walkers, who had only eyes for one 
another and that slender figure on the terrace, had passed the 
point nearest to him, and were speeding away quite unconscious 
of their superior's presence. He thought he should cut off the last 
man, and increased his pace. He called to him and waved his 
hand. But Mr. Brune, intent upon the business before him, and 
going steadily like a machine heel and toe, his elbows well in, and 
his eyes upon the small of his predecessor's back, neither saw nor 
heard him. The Archdeacon was excited and provoked. In the 
heat of the moment he followed, still calling to him ; and, being 
quite fresh, began to overhaul Mr. Brune. He did not hear a 
louder shout rise from the crowd upon the wall ; he did not hear 
his ward clapping her hands in a perfect ecstasy of delight ; he 
did not indeed he could not hear the giggling of the maids at 
the hall window. But all these people and everybody else thought 
that he had joined in the parsons' race.' Some, like Dorothy, 
thought it was very nice ' and liberal ' of him ; and more, like 
Mrs. Fretchett, who had a fine view from her window, thought 
it very odd of him. And the faster he pressed on to catch Brune, 
becoming with every stride more and more angry, the more the 
crowd upon the wall shouted, and Dolly clapped, and Brune 
increased his speed, and the maids giggled ; until at length the 
Archdeacon, beginning to suspect that his own position was far 
from dignified, and a glimmer of the light in which he was being 
viewed by others dawning upon him, broke into a run, and the 
crowd into a shout of reprobation of his unfairness ; and then at 
last he laid his hand upon Mr. Brune's shoulder. 

' Stop, Mr. Brune,' he gasped ; stop ! This is most unseemly. 
Do you hear ? Most unseemly ! I exceedingly disapprove of 
this this disgraceful exhibition. Do you see the people, sir ? ' 

This at last brought Mr. Brune to a standstill. He was a 
pitiable object as, hot, dishevelled, and panting, his tie awry and 
his collar rumpled, he stared, dumbfounded, into his superior's 
flushed and indignant face. He tremulously wiped his brow, and 
by a tremendous effort recovered his eyeglasses from between his 
shoulders, where they had been swinging rhythmically. He put 
them on and looked round. Then he became aware of the spec- 
tators who had gathered since he and his fellows had, in quite 



ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 123 

a private way, started on their little frolic, and the affair be- 
came apparent to him in its true colours. For, left to themselves, 
and unperverted by Dolly and unreasoning rivalry, there were no 
curates anywhere of more proper ideas than the Archdeacon's. 
Brune dropped his glasses, quite crushed ; but, seeing the neces- 
sity for action, revived. He did what the Archdeacon should have 
done at first. He jumped over the ropes and ran across to stay 
the others. 

Their rector did not wait to speak with them then, but, still 
frowning, stalked back to the terrace, striving to recover his self- 
possession upon his way. With but partial success, for as he 
mounted the steps, t Oh, guardian ! ' cried a merry laughing voice 
from above him, < what is the matter ? Why did you stop ? I 
am sure you would have beaten them all if you had gone on as 
well as you started. You walked capitally. And why have they 
all stopped ? ' 

' Because they have come to their senses,' he said, hoarsely, 
striving vainly to repress his passion. ' Have you ever heard of 
Circe, girl ? ' 

Dolly only stared. This tone at any rate she had never heard 
before. 

' Because my parish is not large enough to contain her foolish 
rout and their senseless tricks. They were walking for a rose, were 
they ? ' he continued, bitterly. What he had said already seemed 
to have hurt the girl not one whit, only surprised her; and he was 
terribly exasperated. ' I suppose that is but a pretty figure of 
speech, and stands for yourself. I am surprised you have so much 
modesty. It is fitting and maidenly in my ward to offer herself as 
the prize of a public walking match.' 

Her face turned white in the dusk. < How dare you ? ' she 
cried, starting back as if he had struck her. He had hurt her at 
last, if that was what he wished to do. ' How dare you ? ' she 
cried, passionately. But this time there came a quiver in her 
voice and a catching of her breath, and before he could be ready 
for this change of front she was gone, and he heard her sobbing 
bitterly as she passed through the hall. Only the white rose lay 
where she had flung it. 

He went into his study and sat down very miserably, thinking, 
no doubt, over the state of the parish, and of what Mrs. Fretchett 
would say, and took no tea that evening. Only at one time or 
another, before nine o'clock prayers, he saw all the five curates. 



124 ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 

At dinner he was very silent, looking from time to time curiously 
at Dolly, who was silent too, attending chiefly to Granny's wants, 
and avoiding his eyes with a conscious shrinking, new in her and 
strangely painful to him. 

But the Archdeacon had made up his mind, and before twenty- 
four hours were over had put it before Dorothy. First, however, 
he had asked her pardon quite formally for what he had said in 
his haste ; and the strange look which pained him had passed 
from the girl's face, as melts a shadow cast by a cloud that was 
before the sun, and suddenly, even as we look up, is not. And 
then he had gone on to speak seriously to her of the state of his 
parish, touching upon the report of the previous day's doings, 
which was already abroad, and which Dolly, with some temper and 
as much justice, set down to Mrs. Fretchett. 

' Well, my dear,' the Archdeacon answered pleasantly, though 
in a tone which made her look sharply at him, ' she and I are 
well, old enough to remember that you are young, and, as Granny 
says, young folks will be young. Still I am bound to take care 
that the interests of my parish come first. It must not suffer 
through anyone, even through you. And suffer it does, Dolly ; 
which brings me to the other matter. An opportunity offers I 
may say, three opportunities of solving our difficulty. I have 
told you that you are too thoughtless for a clergyman's daughter, 
but I think you would make a good and true clergyman's wife.' 

Crash! Dorothy had dropped the paper-weight with which 
she was playing. He let her stoop to pick it up, which she did 
clumsily, and was long about it, and then he went on. ' 1 have 
had three proposals for your hand, my dear. I do not know that 
this embarras de richesses is altogether to your credit, but so it 
is. Three of your fellow-culprits of yesterday, Philip Emerson, 
Mr. Bigham, and Mr. Brune are anxious to press their suits. They 
all have some means, and are young men of whom, notwithstanding 
that little affair, I can approve.' 

She was drawing outlines on her work-table with one white 
forefinger. I don't think I want to marry either of them,' she 
murmured with much indifference, considering the effect of an 
imaginary landscape with her head on one side. 

The Archdeacon frowned. < They think that you have given 
them reason to hope.' 

4 They cannot all think that ! ' she retorted, pouting scornfully. 
And the worst of it was that he could not controvert this. 



ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 125 

4 Philip Emerson, Dorothy, seemed in particular to fancy he 
had received some encouragement. 

< Oh,' said Dolly, * I should like to ask him what he meant ; I 
don't think he would dare to say it to my face. Perhaps he 
meant this ! ' She went on contemptuously, rummaging in her 
work-basket 

* For all I can remember he may have given it to me. One of 
them did, I know. Isn't it nonsense ? ' 

She held a crumpled scrap of paper towards her guardian, and 
he took it with the air of a man accepting service of a writ. * Am 
I to read it ? ' he asked stiffly. 

( Of course I suppose he intended it to be read.' 
And the Archdeacon holding it gingerly, just as if it were the 
royal invitation before mentioned, read a few lines 

' Ah, great grey eyes, that, in my true love's face, 

Tell of the pure and noble soul within 
One look in your calm depths I fain would trace, 
I fain would win.' 

and threw it down with a contemptuous ' pshaw ! ' He looked 
through the window for a moment before he spoke again ; then 
with a great show of cheerfulness he said, ' Now, my dear, let us 
be serious, which of them would you like to see yourself? ' 

' Which of them ! ' she answered impatiently. ' None of 
them ever ! I hate them ! That is, I mean that I don't want to 
marry them.' 

4 1 shall not let you give that answer without thought. It 
seems to me that you must have encouraged one or the other of 
them. You must take a fortnight to think it over.' 

' I won't have a minute ! ' she cried angrily. 

* A clear fortnight,' he repeated with some sternness. * If you 
are then resolved, I shall be the last to force you to marry against 
your will. I have, indeed, no legal . power over you. I am not 
your father.' 

' No, you are not,' she replied sullenly. 

That pained the Archdeacon more than all that had gone 
before. It was not only thoughtless, it was ungracious, it was 
ungrateful, and it hardened his heart so that he spoke out what 
was in his thoughts. 

* Quite so,' he began. ' I was only going to say that if at the 
end of the time you found yourself unable to embrace ' 

4 1 am a woman, if I am your ward,' suddenly and spitefully. 



126 ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 

< to embrace this opportunity,' shot out the clergyman, very 
red in the face, < then I should have to make an alteration in 
my household ; in what direction, you will, no doubt, be able to 
guess.' 

She bent over her work and made no reply, so that he felt a 
cruel satisfaction that he had at last managed to cow her. Then, 
as there seemed no more to be said, the Archdeacon went down- 
stairs and tried to feel content with his partial success. One way 
or another the difficulty would now be settled. And this being 
so, if he sighed over the consideration of this comfortable fact, we 
may presume that the sigh was one of relief. 

The gravity which on a sudden fell upon the rectory folk was 
not unmarked by Stirhampton. But Stirhampton felt no surprise 
at it. Stirhampton well understood the cause of it. What 
wonder, asked Stirhampton, if the Archdeacon looked perplexed, 
and Miss Dorothy gloomy, and the curates anxious? What 
wonder, indeed, when as sure as eggs were what they seemed to 
be and there they generally were the Court of Arches had its 
eyes upon Stirhampton, and sentences of suspension were in the 
air, and there was even talk of unfrocking ! so that much discus- 
sion was raised in town circles as to the details of that ceremony, 
and whether a cook's cleaver did, or did not, figure in it, and if it 
did, in what particular way it was used ? What wonder, indeed ? 
though those who knew best whispered that the race for the girl's 
hand (oh, those giggling eaves-dropping maids !), disgraceful as it 
was in men of their calling and the Archdeacon's age, might 
observe might have been overlooked. ' But when it came,' said 
these, ' to the Archdeacon, in his chagrin at being outstripped by 
younger men, striking Mr. Brune, and knocking his own curate 
over the ropes, so that the very crowd cried shame ! that was 
indeed going a little too far. There could be no winking at that, 
be the authority ever so favourable to him.' 

Still there are always froward people who will have no fire 
where others have been the first to espy the smoke. There were 
these at Stirhampton, men who were rude and said it was all 
fiddle-de-dee when Mrs. Fretchett said it was scandalum mag- 
natum a plain and unmannerly contradiction and made them- 
selves otherwise unpleasant. But even these grew silent after a 
time, when a very weighty fact came to be known. Two official 
letters missives were the more proper word of most threatening 



ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 127 

appearance had been delivered at the rectory. Their envelopes 
had been stamped with the name of an august street, and bore 
also in the left-hand bottom corner a distinguished title. On one 
had been a twopenny stamp. Timid people scanned the rector 
with curious pity, and such upon the whole was the effect of this 
postal intelligence that the doctrine of scandalum magnatum 
gained almost universal credence ; even the froward ones grew 
serious and thought it over. 

It was probably from a feeling of delicacy that they refrained 
from carrying their surmises to the Archdeacon. To the curates 
some hints were given, but what with their obtuseness they 
scarcely seemed to understand and a fretful touchy disposition, 
noticeable in young men, nothing came, of these hints. 

Of all the rectory folk, it was Dolly only who (oh, those 
giggling, tattling maids ! ) came to hear of the rumour. It dis- 
tressed her beyond measure. She could not feel sure that it was 
untrue. Nay, she knew that one part was true, for had she 
not seen the Archdeacon read one and the other of the letters 
mentioned, and immediately thereafter fall into deep thought. 
Ever since he had been grave and preoccupied. Her ideas 
upon unfrocking though the cleaver was not one of them 
were sufficiently terrible, and grew more and more vivid and 
daunting the longer she dwelt upon them. Yet there was not 
between herself and her guardian such an amount of confidence 
as made it easy for her to speak to him upon such a subject. 

So poor Dorothy knew not what to think. She had her own 
little distresses, we know ; but they were forgotten in this greater 
apprehension that she had brought grief and disgrace upon the 
Archdeacon. And when, about the end of the fortnight, he 
bade her come to his study, she thought of them only as of 
matters of be put aside, if mentioned, as quickly as possible, as 
matters to no importance in the face of the blow she felt was 
about to fall. 

Archdeacon Holden was writing steadily. He looked up at 
her entrance to point with a faint smile to a chair, and then went 
on with his work. She fancied that there was something strange 
and new in his air ; she marked under the paper-weight the letters 
about which all the town was talking ; at her elbow she spied an 

envelope addressed to the Dean and Chapter of W , the 

patron of the living, and Dorothy felt sick at heart. 

Whether he was or was not aware of the direction of her 



128 ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 

thoughts, he folded his letter slowly, willing, perhaps, to put off 
as long as possible the evil day when something must be told. It 
was not until he had risen and approached the fireplace, so that 
his back was towards her, that he said pleasantly : 

< Well, Dorothy, we will talk of your affairs first." 

< They will not occupy you long,' was her quiet answer ; what 
were these things to her now ? ' I have made up my mind, or 
rather it is unchanged. If I have thoughtlessly caused pain to 
Mr. Emerson and the others, I am sorry ; but I cannot marry any 
of them.' 

He did not speak for a moment. Perhaps his thoughts had 
gone off to his own matters, for his hand shook a little as he 
adjusted the date-case over the mantelpiece. ' You are quite 
sure, my dear ? ' he said at last. There was no displeasure in his 
tone. 

' I am quite sure.' 

' Well, that would have been an embarrassing answer, Dorothy, 
if things still stood as they were,' he said. ' But they do not ; 
and any change I am going to make will be the result of another 
cause. I have some news for you. I am going to leave Stir- 
hampton, and you are the first person to whom I have told the 
fact. You will not do my parish much more harm, my dear, for 
in a few weeks at most I shall be without one.' 

His back was towards her, and so he could not see the current 
of grief and trouble that flashed from Dolly's heart to Dolly's face. 
He waited for the eager, happy words of congratulation that should 
have come ; for the touch at which he should turn to meet the 
bright, animated face that would smile on him for a moment, and 
then flit joyfully upstairs to Granny. He waited for these things, 
wondering if his elevation could bring him any other pleasure to 
compare with this. And then, instead, he heard behind him a 
quick, low sob, and turned, with a sinking of the heart, to find, the 
girl crying bitterly, her face cast forward in utter self-abandonment 
upon her arms, and her whole frame quivering with the sharpness 
of her sorrow. 

His heart sank with a natural foreboding. But surely it must 
have been a singularly affectionate one, or where otherwise lay 
hidden the source of that deep feeling which welled up in the 
simple words wrung from him by the sight of her distress. ' My 
darling, my darling, only tell me what it is ! ' he cried, stroking 
her fair hair and striving to comfort her. < Tell me your trouble. 



ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 



129 



Don't you know I would give my life to save you pain, Dolly ? 
Don't hurt me like this, but look up and tell me. What is it, my 
darling ? ' 

But for a time, though she heard him, she would not be com- 
forted, and his words even seemed to give a fresh impulse to her 




grief. At last, amid half-stifled sobs, with her face still hidden, 
Dolly made him understand what she had heard and what she had 
feared, and what she had supposed him to mean when he said he 
was about to leave Stirhampton ; and poured out, too, her own 
self-reproach, while he stood over her and listened, and now 
touched the bowed head, and now smiled grimly at the rumour of 



130 ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION 

that unfrocking. And when he came to answer her, he did it in a 
score of words that dried her eyes effectually, and made her turn 
her flushed, pitiful, tear-stained face upon him, a glorious smile of 
pure happiness irradiating it that somehow made his heart leap 
up like a boy's and then ache as those deserve to ache who play 
the boy when old enough to know better. 

' It is a mistake,' was all he had said ; < I am leaving here, but 
not in disgrace, Dolly. I have accepted the Bishopric of the 
new see of Deringham. What a silly, loving, little girl it is ! 
You may read the letter, my dear.' And while Dolly, in radiant 
dishevelment, was striving to tell him her pleasure, he took an 
envelope from his pocket and held it out. Dolly seized it eagerly 
and opened it, and found within it not at all what the Archdeacon 
had thought was in it. The envelope contained no statesman's 
autograph, or courtly to-apron-inviting note from Downing Street, 
but only a white rose, a dried rose, flattened, but still sweet and 
fragrant. Almost as soon as the girl's fingers touched it the 
Archdeacon was aware of his mistake surely a very curious mis- 
take and snatched it from her with some confused words and a 
reddening brow. But Dolly had seen it had certainly seen it ; 
and somehow it brought back to her memory the day of the 
curates' race ; so that when the Archdeacon brusquely put another 
letter into her hand, she read it with her eyes, and not her mind. 
As for the Archdeacon, he sought the window, and hemmed and 
hawed, and at last said, hastily, without turning, * There, there, 
my dear, I think there is no more to be said. Will you kindly go 
and tell Granny ? ' and so affected to select a volume from a shelf 
of the Early Fathers. 

But Dorothy did not move. She sat stooping forward, pass- 
ing the hem of her much-bedabbled handkerchief through her 
fingers. 

6 Are you sure that you have told me all you wish to tell me ? ' 
she asked, slowly. 

Her guardian started. c I think so,' he answered, and plunged 
recklessly at a volume of Origen, or it might be St. Anthony, 
perhaps. 

' Then why,' cried Dolly, starting up and facing him, with 
crimson cheeks, < why did you call me your darling just now ? 
You had no right to do it no right, though you are my guardian, 
to say that if you are going to say nothing more ! If you want 
me, why don't you ask for me ? Philip could, and Mr. Brune, and 



ARCHDEACON HOLDEN'S TRIBULATION. 131 

the other! I hate a coward. Why cannot you say, if you 
want me ? ' 

There are men who have seen Deans in their shirt-sleeves, 
playing billiards. And there is one still living chiefly on the 
fact who once was last in a three-legged race in double harness 
with a Duke. So it is undeniable that great men do unbend 
at times to a surprising extent. But that the Archdeacon at 
the point of the story we have reached unbent in the manner 
much hinted at in Stirhampton, I shall ask no reader to believe. 
The more as the real facts which have been told fully explain the 
disorder of lace and neck-ribbon, the softness of eye, and crimson 
of cheek which Granny noticed about the girl when she ran in 
upon her, all smiles and tears, knocking down the screen, and 
hugging the little old lady into a state of deep alarm. 

Which took, of course, the old direction. But the Archdeacon 
came upstairs in time to anticipate the usual question. ' No,' he 
said, putting his hand on the kneeling girl's head, the balance is 
all right, Granny except in years. There is a heavy overdraft of 
those against me.' 

* And I will honour it,' said Dolly, gravely, and took his hand 
and kissed it. As for what followed we had better put up 
Granny's screen again. This the man of system, who had no taste 
for jests? But then it is just possible that Dolly did not mean 
it for a jest. The curates ? Mr. Philip Emerson, Mr. Brune, and 
Mr. Bigham ? Indeed I cannot say what became of them. I should 
suppose they died prematurely of broken hearts. But the next 
time that I visit Deringham I will call at the Palace and ask the 
Bishop. 



132 



BEAUMARCHAIS. 

THE author of two comedies which have been for a century 
among the most popular in the whole range of French dramatic 
literature was the son of a struggling Paris watchmaker, named 
Caron. His business was a small and never a very successful 
one, but the watchmaker himself was a person of considerable 
scientific attainments, of refined manners, and of cultivated taste. 
His family consisted of five daughters and one son, Pierre Augustin, 
who was born on January 24, 1732. The boy's education was 
principally conducted at home, though for a short time he at- 
tended a school at Alfort, where he appears to have shown no 
marked proficiency. Of his character and pursuits during these 
early years we get some glimpses in the letters of his sisters. 
Here he is described as overflowing with fun, frolic, and high animal 
spirits ; the life of the household ; always in mischief ; no sooner 
out of one scrape than into another ; passionately fond of music, but 
the reverse of industrious at his scholastic studies. Of course an 
only boy of this disposition was an object of perfect adoration to a 
fond mother and five sisters, by whom, accordingly, he was petted 
and worshipped and spoiled. But fortunately his father was not 
equally inclined to indulgence, and kept the curb on him pretty 
tightly. At the age of thirteen he began to learn the art of watch- 
making, wherein he seems to have soon attained considerable skill. 
This, however, must have been the result rather of natural quick- 
ness and ingenuity than of steady application, for his love of gaiety 
and amusement was by no means extinguished by the cares of busi- 
ness. At length, after having administered countless ineffectual 
warnings and reproofs to his son on the subject of his dissipation 
and neglect of business, M. Caron had recourse to the strong 
measure of turning the young scapegrace out of doors ; taking 
care, however, to arrange for his reception into the house of an 
old family friend, through whose mediation a treaty of peace was, 
after a short time, patched up. The articles were of the most 
stringent character, and were formally signed by the high con- 
tracting parties. The son engaged not to make, sell, or repair 
anything whatever except on his father's account ; to get up at 



BEAUMARCHAIS. 133 

six o'clock in the summer and at seven in the winter, and to work 
till supper-time ; to go to no more supper parties ; and when, by 
special permission, allowed to dine with his friends on Sundays, 
always to be in by nine o'clock ; and, finally, to give up his music, 
except the flute and violin, which he was to be permitted to play 
after supper. On the other hand, his father engaged to allow him 
his board and eighteen francs a month, and to credit him with a 
quarter of any business which he might bring in. After this 
matters went on more smoothly. Pierre Augustin applied himself 
more steadily to business, with the result that, before reaching 
his twentieth year, he had invented a new kind of escapement 
for watches, which was a considerable improvement on any of 
those previously in use. In his delight at his success and with 
the generous confidence of youth he showed his invention to a 
M. Lepaute, a brother -watchmaker, who forthwith wrote a letter 
to the < Mercure,' explaining the new principle and claiming it as 
his own. All the vehement pugnacity of Caron's disposition was 
aroused by this dishonest conduct of the man whom he had 
trusted. He immediately replied to Lepaute's letter in the 
6 Mercure,' and requested the public to suspend its judgment 
until a decision had been arrived at by the Academy of Sciences, 
to whose arbitration he had referred the matter. In 1754 the 
Academy, after mature consideration of the evidence by which 
the rival claims were supported, emphatically confirmed Caron's 
title to the invention. This affair brought him into some promi- 
nence in his profession, and he received orders for watches on his 
new principle from the King, Madame de Pompadour, and many 
of the highest personages about the Court. 

One of his customers was a certain Madame Franquet, wife of 
one of the < Controleurs clercs d'office de la maison du roi,' or clerks 
of the royal pantry. This lady, who was young and married to a 
husband considerably older than herself, took a great fancy to the 
handsome young watchmaker. She introduced him to her hus- 
band, with whom, as Caron was longing to relinquish the watch- 
making business and push his fortunes, and M. Franquet was 
just as anxious for rest and freedom from his official duties, an 
arrangement was come to, whereby, in consideration of the pay- 
ment of an annuity to his predecessor, Caron succeeded to the 
clerkship. M. Franquet did not survive his retirement many 
months, and on his death Caron married the widow. His happi- 
ness was not, however, of long duration, for in less than a year 



134 BEAUMARCHAIS 

after the marriage the lady died of typhus fever. This was a 
severe blow not only to his affections but to his worldly fortunes, 
as all that he was able to retain of his wife's property was the 
empty title of Beaumarchais, which, in the year 1757, he had 
assumed from a small fief belonging to her. All the actual 
property reverted to her relations, and Caron was left dependent 
solely on the meagre income of his Court appointment. 

Among the customers whom Caron, or, as we must now call 
him, Beaumarchais, had supplied with watches were the daughters 
of Louis XV., Mesdames Victoire, Adelaide, Sophie, and Louise. 
The princesses were much taken with his manners and appear- 
ance, and, on learning that he was skilled in the management of 
the harp, desired to take lessons from him. Here was indeed an 
opportunity to push his fortune at Court. He entered heartily 
into the scheme, and used all his endeavours to ingratiate himself 
with his royal pupils. Carefully repudiating the position of a 
mere paid music-master, he would receive no remuneration for 
his services, and often incurred considerable expense in purchasing 
instruments and music for which he was not very promptly repaid. 
He soon became the chief director and performer at the weekly 
concerts given by the princesses, which were attended by the 
King, the Queen, the Dauphin, and a few favoured courtiers. 
He was thus brought into close contact with all the members of 
the royal family and soon came to be regarded by them as a 
privileged individual ; so much so that on one occasion the King, 
wishing to hear him play the harp, obliged him to sit down in the 
royal chair ; and that the Dauphin, whose frank, blunt disposition 
Beaumarchais respected and appreciated, used to say, * He is the 
only person who speaks the truth to me.' Such a high degree of 
favour shown to one who had so recently occupied a very humble 
position naturally excited much ill-feeling and brought down on 
Beaumarchais all sorts of insults from the jealous courtiers. He 
was perpetually being annoyed by covert sneers at his lowly origin 
and connection with trade, and on one occasion, as he was leaving 
the royal apartments, a nobleman insultingly asked him to repair 
a watch that had stopped. Beaumarchais politely replied that it 
was a long time since he had given up all work of that kind, and 
that he had consequently lost his skill. When, however, the 
other continued to press the matter, he took the watch, which 
was a very valuable one, and opening it as if to examine the 
works, let it fall. Turning to the disconcerted nobleman he 



BEAUMARCHAIS. 135 

said, * I warned you, sir, that I was now very unskilful,' and, with 
a bow, walked off. He at length found it necessary to have re- 
course to strong measures in order to put a stop to the frequent 
insults to which he was subjected, and he challenged one of his 
tormentors. The duel took place at Meudon, without seconds, 
and Beaumarchais wounded- his opponent mortally. This might 
have been a very serious matter, for victor as well as for vanquished, 
but for the generosity of the dying man, who, during the few 
days he survived, firmly refused to disclose the name of his 
antagonist. 

After having made himself useful to the princesses for some 
years without reward, Beaumarchais at last found an opportunity 
of turning his Court favour to profitable account. Paris du 
Verney, one of the four brothers who, sprung from a very humble 
origin, played such a prominent part in the financial affairs of 
France during the greater portion of the eighteenth century, had 
determined to immortalise his name by connecting it with a 
national institution for the education of officers for the French 
army. He had interested Madame de Pompadour in the scheme, 
and had obtained the King's sanction for the erection of the 
building which at present adorns the Champ de Mars. In 1760, 
however, the credit at Court both of the mistress and the financier 
was at a low ebb; the buildings were still uncompleted; and, 
though the establishment contained a few students, it was in a 
languishing and unsatisfactory condition. In order to add prestige 
and attract pupils to the college Du Verney had for some time 
been using every means in his power to induce the King to visit 
it in state, but he had never as yet been able to attain this favour. 
It now occurred to him that it might be possible to compass his 
end through the medium of the princesses' young protege. He 
sounded Beaumarchais on the subject, who was only too delighted 
to be of use to a man who had such facilities for returning a 
kindness. The princesses made no difficulty about granting the 
only favour which Beaumarchais had yet asked of them and readily 
consented to pay a visit to the college. This they did, and so 
favourably did they report on what they saw that soon after 
Louis XV. followed their example. Du Verney was not ungrateful. 
He set about making the fortune of Beaumarchais, as many years 
before he had made the fortune of Voltaire. He gave him a share 
in several lucrative contracts and other commercial speculations. 
He lent him money and assisted him with advice. The son of 



136 BEAUMARCHAIS. 

the watchmaker was rising fast in the world, and now began to think 
of adding to his name the magic monosyllable which is the hall- 
mark of French nobility. With this object he purchased the 
place of King's secretary, which carried with it the right of pre- 
fixing to his name the much-coveted ' De.' He then entered into 
treaty for a more important place one of the rangerships of the 
rivers and forests ; but here he met with a violent opposition from 
the other rangers, who objected to his admission on the ground 
of his humble origin. This opposition was successful, although 
in his plea for himself Beaumarchais showed that, of these haughty 
nobles who were so afraid of being contaminated by association 
with the son of a watchmaker, one was the son of a hairdresser, 
another of a wool-winder, another of a button-maker, and another 
of a Jew dealer in second-hand jewellery. Besides thus exposing 
the absurdity of such an objection to his appointment coming 
from such opponents, he gave a flat contradiction to the statement 
that he was not noble. 6 1 am a noble,' he said, with a consummate 
impudence worthy of Figaro himself ; * I can prove it, for I have 
the receipt ! ' However, to compensate for this disappointment 
he purchased, in 1763, the important place of Lieutenant- 
general of the Captainry of the Warren of the Louvre, which he 
continued to hold until 1785. His duties in this office consisted in 
presiding over the tribunal specially appointed to deal with offences 
against the game laws throughout a space of some fifteen leagues 
around Paris over which the King enjoyed the sole sporting 
rights. 

In 1764 Beaumarchais made a journey to Madrid, where 
he stayed over a year. The object of this expedition was to 
avenge an affront which had been offered to one of his sisters, 
who during a residence in the Spanish capital had become engaged 
to a young Spaniard named Joseph Clavijo. This gentleman, 
after the engagement had lasted some time, suddenly repudiated 
it. But the lady's friends were not people to see her wronged 
with impunity. Her brother instantly set out for Madrid, and 
after forcing the fickle lover to sue for a renewal of the engage- 
ment, contrived to have him turned out of a place which he held 
under the government and expelled from the Court. Mile. Caron, 
probably disgusted with the ways of Spanish suitors, married one 
of her own countrymen. 

This little domestic affair being satisfactorily settled, Beau- 
marchais turned his attention to other matters. He was now fairly 



BEAUMARCHAIS. 137 

launched in a career of gigantic mercantile speculation, and had 
determined to turn his Spanish visit to account. Du Verney 
furnished him with a sum of 200,000 francs and with letters of in- 
troduction to several of the most influential personages in the 
country. His plans were on the grandest scale, including such 
projects as the acquisition of a concession of the sole right of 
trading with Louisiana and of supplying the Spanish colonies 
with negroes ; a scheme for the colonisation of the Sierra Morena ; 
and a contract for furnishing the Spanish army with provisions. 
However, all these magnificent conceptions proved veritable 
6 Chateaux en Espagne,' as none of them came to maturity, 
though the negotiations for the last were, at one time, very nearly 
being successful. In the intervals of business Beaumarchais 
plunged into all the gaieties of the Spanish capital. He obtained 
entrance into the best society and soon became the most popular 
man in Madrid. He took part in concerts and amateur theatricals, 
wrote words to the national seguidillas, and possessed an inex- 
haustible flow of sparkling and witty conversation. After more 
than a year's stay in Spain he returned to Paris, leaving behind 
him a reputation for brilliant talents and amiable social qualities. 

We now come to another phase in this busy life. Hitherto we 
have seen Beaumarchais as the schoolboy, the apprentice, the 
courtier, the speculator, and the man of fashion. We are now to 
witness his entrance upon that literary career by his success in 
which his name has been preserved to posterity. In 1767 he 
brought out ( Eugenie,' a drama whereof the scene is laid in 
England and the plot hinges upon a sham marriage. It is a very 
mediocre performance and contains little of the sparkling wit 
which distinguishes its author's later works. However, it had for 
a time a fair share of success and was even taken as the ground- 
work of an English play < The School for Rakes ' in which 
Garrick sustained the leading part. 

Encouraged by the success of this venture Beaumarchais 
followed it up in 1770 with <Les deux Amis,' a play of a similar 
character, but which did not meet with the good fortune of its 
predecessor and was effectually and deservedly damned. Never- 
theless, if not witty in itself, the piece was certainly the cause of 
wit in others, for it provoked quite a storm of bons mots, epigrams, 
and satirical verses. Some wag, who probably bore a grudge 
against Beaumarchais, wrote on the bill announcing the repre- 
sentation of ' Les deux Amis,' ( Par un auteur qui n'en a aucun, 

VOL. III. NO. 14, N. S. 7 



138 BEAUMARCHAIS. 

and during the performance of the play, whose plot derives its 
chief interest from the difficulties of a merchant on the verge of 
bankruptcy, one of the ' gods ' shouted out, < II s'agit ici d'une 
banqueroute ; j'y suis pour mes vingt sous,' that being the price 
of admission to the theatre. The following verses, too, had a con- 
siderable circulation and could hardly have afforded pleasant 
reading to the unfortunate author : 

J'ai vu de Beaumarchais le drame ridicule, 

Et vais, en un mot, vous dire ce que c'est : 

C'est un change ou 1'argent circule, 

Sans produire aucun interet. 

In the interval between these two literary ventures Beaumarchais 
married a second time. Again he chose a widow, a certain Madame 
1'Eveque, who brought him a large fortune. But his married life 
in this, as in the former case, was destined to be of but brief dura- 
tion. His wife died in childbed within three years of the marriage. 
She left a son, who soon followed her to the grave. As a large 
portion of her fortune consisted in an annuity, the widower lost 
the benefit of it ; but this was not of so much consequence to him 
at the time, as he was making large sums of money from the sale 
of timber from the forest of Chinon, which, in partnership with 
Du Verney, he had purchased from the State. In spite, however, 
of this successful speculation the year 1770 was an unfortunate one 
for Beaumarchais ; as in January he brought out his unsuccessful 
play, in November he lost his wife, and in July Du Verney died 
at the age of eighty-seven. The old financier left the whole of 
his fortune of about a million and a half of francs to his grand 
nephew, the Count de la Blache, between whom and Beaumarchais 
there had long been a bitter enmity. In April 1770 a settlement 
of affairs had taken place between Du Verney and Beaumarchais, 
and a formal document, signed by both parties, had been drawn 
up, regulating the transactions between them. By this agree- 
ment Beaumarchais returned bills to the amount of 160,000 francs 
to Du Verney, who, on his part, withdrew from the partnership in 
the forest of Chinon, acknowledged that he was indebted to his 
partner in the sum of 15,000 francs, and engaged to lend him 
75,000 francs for eight years without interest. At Du Verney 's 
death the two last items were still unsettled and his heir at once 
determined to contest the matter. A long series of legal pro- 
ceedings ensued, which lasted with varying results during eight 
years. Finally, in 1773, after gaining his case in the first instance 



BEAUMARCHAIS. 139 

and afterwards losing it on appeal, Beaumarchais obtained a 
decision in his favour on all the points of his claim. 

During the course of this long litigation, however, the warfare 
was by no means confined to the courts of law. The advocate of 
the Count de la Blache bespattered the defendant with the most 
vehement abuse, insinuating that he had farged the agreement 
with Du Verney and had swindled the old man in every way ; and 
these accusations were industriously spread abroad in every direc- 
tion by pamphleteers and other writers whom the Count employed, 
and who added various pleasant little fictions drawn from their 
own fertile imaginations. Of these stories the one most frequently 
and most confidently asserted and reasserted was to the effect that 
Beaumarchais had poisoned both his wives. 

During the progress of the second of his law-suits with the 
Count de la Blache, Beaumarchais had the bad fortune to be sent 
to ' For-1'Eveque ' as a punishment for a fracas in which he was 
involved with the Due de Chaulnes on account of an actress who, 
after living under the Duke's protection, had betrayed a preference 
for his rival. Beaumarchais' confinement lasted two months and 
a half, but he was allowed to go out during the day-time in the 
charge of a police agent to conduct his law-suit. This, however, 
the first of the appeals in the La Blache case, was decided against 
Beaumarchais in April 1773. The matter had been remitted to 
a councillor of the Parliament named Groezman, and, on his report, 
the decision of the court below was overruled and judgment given 
in favour of the Count for 56,300 livres with interest for five years 
and costs. This was a crushing blow ; for, besides the actual loss 
in money which he suffered, Beaumarchais was indirectly branded 
with the ignominy of having tampered with, if not absolutely 
forged, the agreement with Du Verney. The Count seized his 
goods ; and, to crown his misfortunes, he now became involved in 
another and still more serious law-suit which originated from the 
following circumstances. The councillor, G-oezman, who had been 
appointed to report to the Parliament on the action between Beau- 
marchais and the Count de la Blache, was an elderly man married 
to a young wife. The lady had somewhat extravagant tastes, but 
unfortunately her husband's income was not a large one. In order 
to make both ends meet she was in the habit of accepting presents 
from the suitors who wished to procure favourable reports on their 
cases from the husband. Beaumarchais had endeavoured to pro- 
pitiate the judge through his wife, to whom he presented 100 

72 



140 BEAUMARCHAIS. 

louis and a watch set with diamonds. It was agreed that these 
presents were to be returned should an unfavourable judgment be 
pronounced. Madame Goezman afterwards demanded an addi- 
tional fifteen louis for her husband's secretary ; and this sum also 
was given her, without, however, in this case any stipulation as to 

its return. 

If the defendant's terms were liberal, the plaintiff's, to judge 
by the result, must have been lavish. The councillor's report and 
consequently the judgment were, as already stated, unfavourable 
to Beaumarchais, and Madame Goezman at once returned the 
100 louis and the watch. This done, she probably considered 
that she had played her part in the little drama in strict accord- 
ance with the most rigid rules of morality and honourable dealing. 
As to restoring the other fifteen louis she would probably have 
asked with Shylock, * Is it so nominated in the bond ? ' Unfor- 
tunately, however, the other party to the transaction was in that 
position in which as a rule a man does not recognise that 'the 
pleasure is as great of being cheated as to cheat.' He was irritated 
at the loss of his suit, and, suspecting that he had been duped, he 
had what Madame Goezman doubtless considered the impertinent 
curiosity to inquire of the secretary as to what had become of the 
fifteen louis. The result of his inquiries proved how well grounded 
was his suspicion that the money had never reached its destina- 
tion in the pocket of the secretary but had remained in that of the 
lady. He instantly demanded its return. Madame Goezman was 
naturally much disgusted at the bad taste shown in such a demand, 
and not only denied the receipt of the fifteen louis, but, on the 
strength of having returned the other presents, complained to her 
husband that Beaumarchais had offered her a bribe which she had 
indignantly refused. Goezman brought before the Parliament a 
criminal action against Beaumarchais for libelling a councillor's 
wife. The proceedings took place with closed doors, before a 
tribunal of which the plaintiff was himself a member, and which 
was strongly biassed against the defendant. 

In order to understand the extraordinary amount of interest 
which this trial excited it is necessary to be acquainted with 
certain facts connected with the Parliament of which Goezman 
was a member. During the greater part of the reign of Louis XV. 
a violent struggle for power had been going on between the Crown 
and the Parliaments. The incidents were almost invariably the 
same in each fresh dispute. The Crown issued an ordinance ; the 









BEAUMARCHAIS. 141 

Parliament refused to register r the members were summoned 
to a ' Lit de Justice ' presided over by the King in person, and 
were ordered to register; they protested and suspended their 
judicial functions, thereby throwing the whole country into con- 
fusion. If they continued obstinate they were exiled. Finally 
some concessions were made on both sides and the members were 
reinstated. At last, in 1770, the Chancellor, Maupeou, took the 
extreme course of confiscating the offices, all of which had been 
obtained by purchase and were supposed to be held for life, of the 
members of the Parliament of Paris, and of constructing a new 
Parliament out of different materials. Public sympathy was on 
the side of the old Parliament in the struggle and, in substantiat- 
ing a charge of bribery against a member of the new one, Beau- 
marchais was regarded as a man who was maintaining a gallant 
fight against a corrupt and unpopular institution. The inquiry 
was conducted with closed doors, but the real battle took place 
outside ; for, knowing that the tribunal before which his case was 
on trial was unfavourable to him, Beaumarchais determined to 
appeal to the public. He therefore published in the form of a 
pamphlet the memorial in which he had set forth for the con- 
sideration of the court the facts connected with the case. This 
document instantly attracted attention, not merely from the 
interest of the matter itself, but from the sparkle and brilliancy 
of the style in which it was written. A host of eager combatants 
at once took up the gage of battle thus thrown down. Pamphlet 
after pamphlet appeared in answer to the memorial all teeming 
with the most virulent abuse of Beaumarchais raking up and 
misrepresenting the incidents of his private life, and accusing 
him of having poisoned his wives, cheated Du Verney, and ' belied 
a lady.' Nothing daunted, he defended himself gallantly against 
his numerous assailants with all the most deadly weapons in the 
controversial armoury, from delicate irony to slashing sarcasm. 
In the four other memorials which he issued at intervals, Groezman 
and all his aiders and abettors were covered with ridicule and 
contempt. All Paris read and laughed. Like Byron, Beaumar- 
chais woke to find himself famous. In April 1773 his fortunes 
had been at the lowest possible ebb. He was known only as a 
man of pleasing manners in society, as a speculator, or as the 
writer of a couple of very poor plays ; he had just lost a law-suit, 
by which he was completely ruined in his fortune and seriously 
compromised in his honour ; he was in prison on account of a not 



U2 BEAUMARCHAIS. 

very creditable squabble about an actress. By the end of the 
same year he was the most popular man in France. 

The sentence of the Parliament was pronounced on February 6, 
1774. The penalty in the case of Beaumarchais was that of 
6 blame,' or civil degradation, which debarred him from all the 
ordinary rights and duties of citizenship. On Madame Goezman 
a similar punishment was inflicted and she was ordered to restore 
the fifteen louis, which were to be distributed to the poor. 
G-oezman himself had to resign his office. In order to complete 
the sentence it should have been pronounced on Beaumarchais in 
open court, where he should have been declared ' infamous ' by 
the President. But this was an extreme to which his popularity 
rendered it impossible for the Parliament to proceed and it was 
not enforced. On the morning following the judgment all Paris 
called on him. Instead of a humiliation the result of the trial 
was a brilliant triumph. 

Nevertheless he was left in a very uncomfortable position and 
felt it a serious necessity to get the sentence annulled. Luckily, 
just at this juncture, fortune threw in his way the means of 
making himself useful to the King, who promised in return to 
afford him protection and to extend the time during which he 
could bring an appeal. The matter happened in this wise. A 
person named Theveneau de Morande was carrying on in London 
a profitable trade in libels on prominent persons in France ; his 
plan being to extort blackmail from his victims for the suppres- 
sion of the calumnies which he threatened to publish. His last 
effort in this peculiar branch of literature had taken the form of 
a series of highly-spiced anecdotes concerning Madame du Barri, 
under the title of * Memoires secrets d'une femme publique.' 
Three thousand copies of this interesting work had been printed, 
and both Louis XV. and the lady were particularly anxious that 
the publication should be suppressed. The King suggested that 
Beaumarchais should go over to London and negotiate with 
Morande on the subject. His mission was successful, but his run 
of bad luck was not yet exhausted, as, when he returned to 
France expecting to reap his reward, he found the King dying. 
However, the trade in libels was a flourishing one and his services 
were soon again called into requisition. This time it was a Jew, 
named Angelucci, who had printed two large editions of a libel 
on the new queen, Marie Antoinette, one in London and another 
in Amsterdam. Beaumarchais soon came to terms with him and , 



BEAUMARCHAIS. 143 

after destroying the English, proceeded to Holland to destroy the 
Dutch edition. When this was done, however, he found to his 
dismay that the wily Israelite had kept back one copy and, with 
it and the money he had received from Beaumarchais, had set 
out for Nuremberg, with the intention of bringing out a new 
edition there. In hot haste and with threats of direst vengeance 
Beaumarchais followed in pursuit. He came up with Angelucci 
in a forest a short distance from Nuremberg, seized him and 
secured the precious volume, but, when returning to his post- 
chaise, he was himself attacked by two robbers, who demanded 
his money and, on meeting with a refusal, set upon him with 
their knives. Beaumarchais made a gallant resistance, but was 
wounded and would have been killed had not his enemies taken 
to flight on the approach of the servants and postillion. He now 
proceeded to Vienna with the object of procuring an order for the 
arrest of Angelucci, and contrived to obtain an interview with 
the empress, Maria Theresa, but his story was thought so im- 
probable that he was detained until information as to the truth of 
his statements was received from France. On his release he was 
offered a thousand ducats as compensation for the inconvenience 
he had suffered, but he contemptuously rejected the offer and 
set off for France in a state of great indignation. 

This was by no means the last of Beaumarchais' efforts in the 
character of a secret agent, for we soon find him engaged in a 
still more strange affair. The negotiation which he now under- 
took was with no less a personage than the celebrated Chevalier 
d'Eon. This extraordinary individual had commenced his career 
as an advocate ; had then exchanged the gown for the sword and 
served in the army with considerable distinction; and finally, 
turning his attention to diplomacy, had, after being employed 
in missions to Kussia and Austria, come to London in 1761 as 
Secretary of Embassy, from which post he had been promoted to 
that of Minister Plenipotentiary. His services had been rewarded 
with the Cross of St. Louis. So far his career had been dis- 
tinguished, but by no means remarkable. Now, however, an 
extraordinary rumour had spread throughout London society to 
the effect that D'Eon was a woman. The excitement which the 
report naturally produced was kept alive by the persistence with 
which he himself declined to impart any information, and the 
studied mystery with which he spoke on the subject. D'Eon evi- 
dently rejoiced in and did everything in his power to maintain 



144 BEAUMARCHAIS. 

the notoriety he had acquired, and large sums were betted on the 
question of his sex. During his residence in London he had 
lived very extravagantly and contracted debts to a large amount, 
and he was now trying to extort money from the French Govern- 
ment by threatening to dispose of certain important political 
papers in his possession. Beaumarchais undertook the negotia- 
tion on the part of the Court, and managed to bring it to a satis- 
factory conclusion. D'Eon was contented with a much smaller 
sum than he had at first demanded for the delivery of the docu- 
ments, and agreed to assume the dress of what was believed to be 
his real sex. He accordingly wore petticoats during the remaining 
thirty years of his life, although an examination of his body after 
his death in 1810 showed that he was actually a man. 

By this last service Beaumarchais had well earned the reward 
for which he had worked so energetically. The Maupeou Parlia- 
ment had been dissolved in the beginning of the new reign, and 
the old Parliament restored, from which, in September, 1776, 
he obtained a reversal of his sentence and the restoration of his 
civil rights. 

In the year 1772, Beaumarchais had composed both the words 
and the music of a comic opera ' Le Barbier de Seville ' which 
was refused by the Comedie Italienne. He then entirely re- 
modelled his work, transformed it into a comedy, and offered 
it to the Theatre Francais. Several unfortunate accidents, 
however, delayed the production of the play for some years. 
All the preparations for its representation were complete in 
February 1773, when Beaumarchais was sent to For-1'Eveque 
in consequence of the quarrel with the Due de Chaulnes. At 
another time it had to be deferred owing to the Groezman law- 
suit, and, on a third occasion, shortly before the day fixed for the 
first performance, an order was received prohibiting the play, as a 
report had been spread that it was full of political allusion. How- 
ever, on February 23, 1775, the piece was produced and 
hissed ! No one had a word of praise for it. The disappointment 
was excessive, as, from the author of the celebrated * Memorials,' 
so much had been expected. But it was always in the most dis- 
advantageous circumstances that the marvellous elasticity and 
energy of Beaumarchais' character were peculiarly conspicuous. 
The piece was damned on Friday night and all Paris was talking 
of the author's miserable failure. On the Sunday it was played a 
second time and elicited rapturous applause. In the interval 



BEAUMARCHAIS. U5 

it had been entirely remodelled ; scenes transposed ; compressed 
from five acts into four ; and the whole of the dialogue revised 
and improved. From that day to this there has never again been 
a question as to its popularity on the stage. 

Beaumarchais was certainly not an ill-natured man, but by 
some unfortunate fatality his whole life was a series of quarrels ; 
and even the brilliant success of his comedy led to a war with the 
actors of the Theatre Franpais. By the rules of the company the 
remuneration of the authors of the pieces played by them was 
fixed at one-ninth of the net receipts ; but if on any one night 
the receipts fell below a certain sum, the play became the absolute 
property of the company, and the author lost all further right and 
title to it. This system was palpably unfair, and Beaumarchais 
determined to put an end to it. He united the isolated and 
generally antagonistic dramatic authors in a society for the pro- 
tection of their rights, and carried on for many years a spirited 
warfare with the Theatre Francais. His efforts were at length 
crowned with victory, and he lived to see the obnoxious privileges 
of the company abolished. 

It would have been thought that with quarrels and law-suits, 
secret missions and plays, Beaumarchais' hands were now pretty 
full and even his superabundant energy taxed to the utmost, 
but it was not so ; for in June 1776 he embarked in an enter- 
prise of gigantic commercial proportions and considerable political 
importance. During his various visits to London he had taken 
great interest in the quarrel between England and her North 
American Colonies, and, when it assumed serious proportions, he 
began to urge upon the French King and his Ministers the 
advisability of assisting the Americans with money or warlike 
materials. The relations between England and France were at 
this time by no means cordial, and the French Ministers at 
length determined to adopt Beaumarchais' advice. As they had 
no wish, however, to come to an open rupture with England, they 
hit upon a plan of sending their assistance to the Americans in 
such a manner as not to compromise themselves. In the course 
of the years 1776 and 1777 the French Government supplied 
Beaumarchais with two millions and the Spanish Government 
with one million of francs ; wherewith he founded the mercantile 
house of Koderigue, Hortalez and Co., for the purpose of providing 
the Americans with arms, ammunition, and all the other articles 
of which they were at the time in extreme need. He was to 

75 



146 BEAUMARCHAIS. 

receive in exchange American products principally tobacco. He 
was to be allowed to purchase his stores from the French arsenals, 
but this was to be done secretly and every precaution was to be 
taken to avoid arousing suspicion in the mind of the English 
Ambassador as to the firm being anything more than an ordinary 
trading company. The first consignment consisted of two hun- 
dred cannons,- twenty-five thousand guns, two hundred thousand 
pounds of powder, and clothing and tents for twenty-five thousand 
men. There were also between forty and fifty engineer and 
artillery officers, whom Beaumarchais had enlisted for the Ameri- 
can service. The expedition sailed early in 1777, and, escaping 
the English cruisers, arrived safely at its destination, to the great 
joy of the Americans. Many other ships followed, and in a short 
time the Americans were indebted to the house of Koderigue, 
Hortalez and Co. for a very large amount. This was due to the 
fact that, instead of returning American produce in exchange 
for the consignments of arms received as originally agreed upon, 
the colonists sent the ships back empty ; for they persisted in 
regarding the firm, not as a genuine trading company, but merely 
as an agent for distributing the gifts of the French Government. 
All Beaumarchais' remonstrances were in vain. After a long time 
one or two small remittances were sent, but these were out of all 
proportion to the amount of the indebtedness, and the credit of 
the firm was only supported by the profit on transactions with 
more honest customers, and by grants made from time to time 
by the French treasury. Throughout all the remaining years of 
his life Beaumarchais continued to urge his claims on the American 
Government, but it was not until the year 1835, long after his 
death, that the account was finally settled by the payment to his 
heirs of the sum of eight hundred thousand francs, which was but 
a very small portion of the actual amount of the debt. 

In the midst of all his multifarious labours Beaumarchais had 
found time to write another comedy. The vein which he had 
worked with such success in < Le Barbier de Seville ' was not yet 
exhausted. ' Le Mariage de Figaro ' was offered to and accepted 
by the Theatre Francais in 1781, and, unlike continuations in 
general, was even more rapturously applauded than its predecessor. 
It was not, however, till after a long and hard struggle that the 
necessary permission for its representation was obtained. The 
piece was studded with the boldest political allusions, and scattered 
ridicule broadcast over all existing institutions. The Church, the 



BEAUMARCHAIS. 147 

magistracy, and even the Crown itself were made the subjects of 
unsparing raillery. It was not likely that a play of this kind 
would be readily sanctioned in a country where a strict censorship 
of the press existed, and where the most persistent opponent was 
the King himself. Madame Campan, in her ' Memoirs,' lets us 
into the secret of this opposition. 'One evening,' she says, 'I 
received a note from the Queen, telling me to be with her at 
three o'clock, and not to come without having dined, as she would 
keep me a long time. When I arrived I found her Majesty with 
the King in her inner cabinet ; a seat and a little table were 
already placed before them, and on the table was an enormous 
manuscript. The King said to me : " It is Beaumarchais' comedy 
which you are to read to us. I have already looked through it, 
but I want the Queen to know the work. You will not speak to 
any one of this reading." I began ; the King often interrupted 
me with exclamations, always just, either of praise or blame. 
Most frequently he cried out : " It's bad taste. The man is con- 
tinually bringing on the scene the Italian * concetti.' " At the 
monologue of Figaro, wherein he attacks the different parties in 
the administration, but especially at the tirade on the prisons, 
the King sprang up and said : " That's detestable ! that shall 
never be played. It would be necessary to destroy the Bastile, to 
do away with the dangerous inconsistency of the piece : the man 
mocks at everything that ought to be respected in a govern- 
ment." " Then it will not be played ? " said the Queen. " No, 
certainly," replied Louis XVI., " you may be sure of that." ' 

Such was the King's fixed resolve, and as he was, at all events 
in theory, an autocrat, it would seem to present an insuperable 
obstacle. On the other hand, however, was brought to bear a 
pressure which in the end proved too strong to be resisted by the 
will of one man, however obstinate, or however powerful. Beau- 
marchais possessed unexampled skill in forming public opinion 
and employing it as a lever for the accomplishment of his own 
purposes. For nearly three years he laboured indefatigably to 
arouse in all the ranks of society an ardent curiosity to see his new 
work brought on to the stage. He gave numberless readings at 
the houses of the most influential persons, ' so that,' says Madame 
Campan, ' every day one heard people say, " I was present," or 
"I am going to be present at the reading of Beaumarchais' 
piece." ' He used all the influence which he had acquired from 
the success of his writings, from his wealth, from his extensive 



H8 BEAUMARCHAIS. 

connections, and from the delicacy of the missions in which he 
had been engaged on behalf of the Court, to overcome the obstacles 
in his path. The King and Queen were besieged with solicitations 
from all sides. Several times he was on the point of succeeding. 
In June 1782 the piece was actually announced for representa- 
tion, tickets were distributed, the theatre was half filled with an 
eager crowd, and it was only at the last moment that an order 
was received under the King's hand forbidding the performance. 
In September 1783 the play was privately acted by permission 
before the Count d'Artois and a brilliant audience at the country 
house of the Count de Yaudreuil ; and at last, in the March fol- 
lowing, the resistance of the King was broken down and the first 
public representation took place at the Theatre Francais. The 
crush was terrific, and several persons were suffocated at the doors 
of the theatre. 

The high expectations which had been formed of the play 
were not disappointed. It was a brilliant success at the time and 
has retained its popularity down to the present day ; though, 
curiously enough, both this and Beaumarchais' previous comedy 
* Le Barbier de Seville ' have been restored to the operatic 
form in which they were originally intended to appear, Mozart 
and Kossini having supplied music of a very different class from 
any that the author's own skill could ever have produced. 

This was the culminating point in Beaumarchais' career. His 
unwearied industry and perseverance had won for him no small 
share of fortune's favours. All Paris crowded to the theatre to 
listen to his comedy and to overwhelm the author with applause. 
His society was eagerly courted, he was happy in his domestic 
relations, his wealth was great and apparently rested on an assured 
foundation. He was largely blessed with fortune, friends, and 
fame. But from this time his undertakings were not so uni- 
formly crowned with success as heretofore, and during the remain- 
ing years of his life he gradually but surely declined in happiness 
and prosperity. Perhaps with advancing years there was some 
little loss of energy ; though, even to the last, any falling off in 
this respect was hardly perceptible, and he was as ready as ever to 
engage in any new enterprise, or to rush into the midst of a fight 
whether the matter in dispute concerned him or not. But it 
seemed as if Fortune had determined to bestow no more of her 
gifts upon him. He produced two more plays, both of which 
were comparative failures and have sunk into well-deserved 



BEAUMARCHAIS. 149 

oblivion ; he was thrown into prison on "a false charge of having 
uttered words disrespectful to the King ; he was engaged in a 
law- suit in which another person played the popular part which he 
himself had enacted in connection with the Groezman case ; and 
he launched into an unfortunate speculation to supply the Revo- 
lutionary Government of France with guns, which involved him 
in innumerable difficulties and dangers. He was imprisoned, 
exiled, deprived of his property and reduced to extreme distress ; 
but he never lost his courage or his natural gaiety, nor ever 
ceased to maintain a gallant struggle against ' the slings and 
arrows of outrageous fortune.' Singularly in contrast with the 
restless activity of this busy life was the calm of its closing scene. 
There was no long and weary combat with disease or decay. 
Peacefully and unexpectedly Beaumarchais passed away in the 
night and was found dead in his bed on the morning of the 18th 
of May 1799. 



150 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

IX. 

I WAS thirty-two years of age, and had written many books and 
a very large number of miscellaneous articles, before I made 
my first success in literature. I had advanced, I think, as 
regards the art of story- telling, and certainly in public favour, 
but only in a moderate way. There had been no * leaps and 
bounds ' in my progress ; but the appearance of ' Lost Sir Massing- 
berd ' was an epoch in my literary life. The idea (as I have 
mentioned elsewhere) occurred to me on the top of a coach ; and 
it was the best day's journey I ever took. The story appeared, 
of course, in the ' Journal,' and very largely increased its circula- 
tion. Its proprietors for in such a case it would be ungenerous 
to dissociate them behaved with great liberality to me. I 
mention the matter (though some may consider it a private one) 
not only because it reflects credit on the firm in question, but 
because it casts some light on the relation between publishers 
and authors generally. There is a notion abroad that the latter 
are almost invariably the victims of the former, and that, while 
Justice has but a legal foothold in Paternoster Eow, Generosity 
has none at all. My experience, which on such matters is pro- 
bably as large as that of any man alive, is to the contrary of all this. 
There are bad publishers of course, skinflints (' scaly varmints,' 
as a cab-driver once called a friend of mine, who was so delighted 
with the term that he at once gave him half-a-sovereign), but in 
what other profession are such characters unknown ? I have met 
with some sharp practice with publishers myself, and have never 
hesitated to say so, or to give piquancy to the narrative by the 
disclosure of their names ; but such experiences have been quite 
exceptional. Upon the whole I am convinced that I have been 
handsomely treated. 

Talking of this subject upon one occasion with a brother 
novelist, he gave me the following extract from his literary note- 
book. '"My first work,' he said, ' was published by Blank & Co., 
who gave me a decent sum for the first edition, not one half of 
which was sold. When I became popular I disposed of the copy- 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 151 

right of the volume elsewhere, and feeling indebted to them for 
their liberality, and also sorry for their loss, I sent them half the 
money I received for the book. You never saw such a letter as 
Blank sent me. One would have thought I had given him a fortune 
instead of only a small portion of what I had lost him. He could 
not have expressed more astonishment if it had dropped from the 
clouds.' I have no doubt Mr. Blank was very much astonished. 
And yet it is far from uncommon for publishers to give very 
considerable sums to successful authors beyond what they have 
bargained for. Of course it may be urged for there are some 
people who never will give the devil his due that this has been 
done as a retaining fee in order to keep their clients. I can only 
say that I have known cases where such a motive could not 
possibly have been imputed, and as they have happened among 
others to myself, I may venture to be quite positive upon the 
point. 

While upon the subject of publishers, I will narrate a story 
told me by one of that useful and innocuous class called Readers. 
He was in the great house of Paternoster, Row and Co., but (one 
cannot but think fortunately for him) Eow was dead. One day 
my friend received one of those charming brochures so common 
nowadays, full of ill-natured gossip about literature and its dis- 
ciples. Among other disagreeable things, it said that that eminently 
successful work c Disloyala : or the Doubtful Priest,' which had 
run through fifty editions, had been rejected by his house some 
years ago. He showed this libel with much indignation to his 
friend and employer, Mr. Paternoster. 

* Is not this,' he cried, fi an infamous statement ? ' 

* What does it matter ? ' was the quiet reply ; ' this sort of 
gentleman will say anything.' 

4 But I really can't stand it,' persisted the Reader, 'It is a 
gross libel upon us both, but especially upon me ; I shall write to 
the man and give him a piece of my mind.' 

6 1 wouldn't do that if I were you,' said Mr. Paternoster, still 
more quietly than before. 

' But why not ? I really must .' 

There was a twinkle in Mr. Paternoster's eye, and a smile at 
the extreme corners of his mouth, which attracted the other's 
attention, and interrupted his eloquence. 

* Is there any reason why I should not contradict this man ? ' 
6 Well yes, the fact is we did reject the book.' 



152 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

6 What ? Do you mean to say I rejected " Disloyala ? " 

6 1 am afraid so ; at all events we did it amongst us. I don't 
blame you ; I think it even now a dullish book.' 

6 And you never told me ? Never let fall a word of it all these 
years ? ' 

4 Certainly not. I thought it might distress you. I should 
not have told you now, but that I was taken unawares.' 

This to my mind is one of the prettiest stories I have ever 
heard. I should like to see the General who could be equally 
reticent, when the Chief of his Intelligence Department had 
omitted a precaution that would have secured him a victory ; or 
the Solicitor who had lost his cause through the neglect of his 
Counsel ; or the Politician who had missed his point in the House 
through the shortcoming of his Secretary. Yet Mr. Paternoster 
was a publisher, one of that fraternity who, if we are to believe 
some people, are incapable of a generosity. For my part (who 
have collected a considerable number of anecdotes of the human 
race) I have never heard a more creditable story, even of a Divine. 

Dissatisfaction with honest publishers indeed rarely takes place, 
except with very young authors. These have great confidence 
in their own work, and when it does not succeed are prone to 
blame everybody but themselves. But the fact is, even if a new 
book is a good book it is very rarely successful. To make it 
known to the public requires advertising, and that process is 
expensive, and soon swallows up a small profit, even if profit 
is made. Upon the whole it behoves the young author to look 
upon his first venture as itself an advertisement, and not reckon 
to make his fortune by it. And yet if it be successful, even if it 
does not ' pay ' (for the things are quite compatible), it may really 
make his fortune ; for it paves the way (although not with gold) 
for its successor. My own experience of this matter has been 
already narrated. I had very good reason to be satisfied with my 
first production, though it was a pecuniary loss. On the other 
hand I did not achieve by it any sudden reputation. 

4 Lost Sir Massingberd ' was, I think, my fourth book ; from 
that time my position as a story-writer was secure, and I began 
to receive considerable sums for my books. Even then, how- 
ever, my progress, though always upward, was slow, and it must 
have been at least ten years before I reached those four figures 
which are supposed in the literary market to indicate the position 
of the < popular author.' After that, things bettered with me, and 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 153 

much more rapidly ; but what a beggarly account do the profits 
of literature present beside those of successful men at the bar, 
in medicine, or in trade! The most popular novelist alive does 
not realise per annum what is every year pocketed by a second- 
rate barrister, or a physician in moderate practice. His term of 
prosperity is also shorter, for the gift of imagination generally 
fails us long before those talents which are sufficient for ordinary 
intellectual toil. And yet nothing is more common than to hear 
otherwise sensible people talk of the large incomes made by 
popular writers. 

Trollope and Scott were exceptionally quick workers, but 
there are few men who can write a three-volume novel, worth 
reading, under nine months ; in the same time a popular painter 
can produce at least three pictures, for each of which he gets 
as large a sum as the popular writer for his entire book. Nor 
does his work take out of the artist as it does out of the author. 
Indeed, if a man looks for wealth, the profession of literature 
is the very last I would recommend him to embrace. On the 
other hand, such guerdon as the novelist does receive is gained 
very pleasantly and accompanied by many charming circum- 
stances. He can choose his society where he likes, for all doors 
are open to him. If fool enough to prefer swelldom to comfort, he 
has no need to struggle for it, as men in other callings with ten 
times his income must needs do. At the tables of the great he is 
not placed according to the degrees of rank (or Heaven knows where 
he would be), but enjoys a status of his own. In ordinary society, 
too (which is much more fi particular ' than the ' best circles '), he 
is regarded with an exceptional charity. His position, indeed, 
among the most respectable people always reminds me of a 
lunatic among the Indians : ' the Great Spirit ' has afflicted him 
with genius they think (or at all events with something of that 
nature), and it behoves them to wink at his little infirmities. 
Nobody dreams of asking whether he is High Church, or Low 
Church, or even No Church. However much he may be ' at his 
ease in Zion,' nobody accuses him of irreverence. It has been 
said of a certain personage that a great many more people know 

T. F than T. F knows ; but the number of people who 

want to know your popular novelist is almost incredible. His 
photograph is sighed for by literary maidens beyond the seas, 
and by professional photographers (who take him for nothing) at 
home ; his autograph is demanded from some quarter of the 






154 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

world by every post. Poems are written on him, books are dedi- 
cated to him, paragraphs about his failing health (often when 
he is quite well, which makes it the more pleasant) pervade the 
newspapers, as though he were a bishop who gives hopes of a 
vacant see. If vanity is his ruling passion (a circumstance not 
altogether unprecedented), he should indeed be a happy man. 

What, however, he is really to be congratulated upon is his 
work itself, which, always delightful to him, can be pursued 
anywhere and at any time ; he is tied to no place, and can take 
holiday when and where he will ; while above all, the nature of his 
occupation brings him into connection with the pleasantest 
and brightest people. In this last respect, if in no other for my 
little book, though a successful story, made no great noise in 
the world I had reason to be grateful to 'Lost Sir Massingberd.' 
It attracted the attention of some of my masters in the art 
of fiction, and among them that of my friend Wilkie Collins. 
He has probably long forgotten the gracious words which he 
bestowed upon it, but I remember them as though they were 
spoken yesterday instead of twenty years ago. Accustomed as 
was the author of ' The Moonstone ' to strike at the root of a 
mystery, he told me that he could not guess what had become of 
my missing baronet in which lies what dramatic interest the book 
possesses till he came on the page that told him. My old friend 
at * The Knoll ' of course wrote to congratulate me, though my 
story, she said, was far too exciting for her, and in her failing 
health had given her more discomfort than pleasure; and Dickens 
touched my trembling ears with praise. What was really re- 
markable about the book was that I had, of course unconsciously, 
taken for the name of my hero the very name (Massingberd) of 
a gentleman who had been missing for years, and to this day (I 
believe) has never been heard of by his friends. 

Among those in another sphere of life with whom literature 
has brought me into connection, was the late lamented Duke of 
Albany. Years ago, long before he took that title, one of my works 
was so fortunate as to beguile some hours of pain, and led to my 
introduction to him. I visited him at Boyton Manor, the house he 
had in Wiltshire, and subsequently at Claremont, and elsewhere. 
He was a most cordial and kindly host, and never could have been 
mistaken, even by the most cynical nature, for a patron. His love 
of literature was so great and genuine, as to excuse my mention 
of him in this place, even if the interest attaching to his memory 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 155 

were less deep and general. He had an hereditary talent for 
languages, and the passion of his race for music. These things 
were lost upon me and he knew it, and (as if I had been the 
Prince and he the Courtier) took pains to avoid those topics 
in my company. It was the same in politics, in which we had 
not an opinion in common. I remember visiting him at the time 
of the Turco-Eussian war, and he observed on receiving me (in 
playful reference to my wrongheadedness in other matters) ' I do 
hope, Payn, you are at least a good Turk.' And when I was 
obliged to shake my head, he said, 'Well then, we won't talk 
about it;' and we never did. If this courteous reticence were 
more generally observed, a new charm would often be given to hos- 
pitality. As a host, indeed, Prince Leopold was almost faultless. 
He never forgot, however great might be the interval between 
their visits, the little peculiarities of his friends. In royal resi- 
dences the early hours which are essential to my private comfort 
are not usual, nor is it customary to retire before the master of 
the house. But long before it grew late, he would make some 
pleasant observation about the habits of those who were not night 
birds, which left me free to go to roost. He was not a student in 
the ordinary sense of the word, though his knowledge of science 
and philosophy was probably much superior to mine, but he was 
well acquainted with the lighter branches of literature, and took 
great pleasure in them. I had the satisfaction of introducing him 
to the works of Lefanu, and his admiration of that author (so 
strangely neglected by the general public, notwithstanding the 
popularity of some of his imitators) vied with my own. He was 
fond of humour, though not of the boisterous kind (which perhaps 
requires physical health for its appreciation), and his favourite 
modern author was Thackeray. In Scott, too, he took great delight, 
and pointed out to me with pride a memento which had been 
given him by his hostess at Abbotsford, the bog oak walking-stick 
which Sir Walter brought away with him from Ireland, and of 
which he made such constant use. He had had his choice of 
richer relics, but had the good taste and sense to know what to 
choose. 

6 Lost Sir Massingberd ' (which W. Gr. Clark would always 
call ' Found Sir Missing Bird ') was published, like many of its 
successors, anonymously, an example which I would earnestly 
dissuade my literary brethren from following. If one has any 
personalty belonging to one (whether it is spelt with an i or 



156 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

not), it is just as well to claim it, otherwise some one is sure to 
do so. A literary gentleman in Glasgow, upon the strength of 
the authorship of this very book of mine, collected money from 
the charitable for some weeks. He said that the writer of the 
work in question had been very ill remunerated, and appealed 
with confidence to the spirit of fair play inherent in every British 
breast. Nay, curiously enough, so late as last summer there 
was another Eichmond of this kind in the field ; for my friend 
Walter Besant writes to me from a North-country inn as follows : 
* I met a man in the coffee-room here who gave me many 
mysterious hints of his great position in the world of letters, and, 
finding him very anxious to be interrogated, took care not to 
trouble him with any questions. I asked the landlady, however, 
who he was. " Oh ! " said she, " he is quite a famous literary gent ; 
he wrote ' A Confidential Agent/ " My correspondent concludes 
his letter: *I have always suspected this; he is a much more 
distinguished-looking fellow, and more likely to have done it, than 
you.' Such are the so-called friendships between literary men in 
the same line of business. 

Speaking of impostors reminds me of two very fine specimens 
with whom, about this time, I became acquainted, one of whom 
adorned, and, for all I know to the contrary, may still adorn, my 
own profession. One evening a gentleman called at my house 
and requested to see me upon very particular business. As I 
was absent from home, he asked to see my wife. He was a 
gentlemanly-looking person of delicate appearance, and very shy 
hesitating manners. ' It is most unfortunate,' h6 stammered, ' for 
they told me at the office I should be sure to find Mr. Payn at 
home, and he is the only friend in London on whom I can rely 
under certain circumstances pressing ones in which I find 
myself.' 

6 You know my husband then ? ' 

' No, Madam, I do not ; but my name Henslow would not 
be unfamiliar to him. I am a novelist, and the author of a 
serial now running in the " Phoenix Magazine." ' 

His hostess smiled politely, but could not go so far as to say 
that we took in the * Phoenix.' Could she give any message for 
him to her husband ? 

He shook his head. < The fact is, Madam, my difficulty is 
very urgent ; it is of a domestic and not of a literary character. 
I came up to town from Gloucestershire this morning with my 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 157 

poor sister to consult a London physician upon her account. She 
is dying, but there are hopes of alleviation and mitigation. At 
Swindon Station I got out to get her some refreshment, and left 
my purse on the counter. We are absolutely without a penny 
between us.' 

' Good heavens ! But where is your sister? ' 

' She is in the second class ladies' waiting-room at Paddington 
Station. She has been there for eight hours. I have been all 
day waiting for the only acquaintance I had in town, but in vain. 
Then I thought of your husband, who, being of the same calling, 
and knowing me at least by name, would, I felt sure, lend me a 
few shillings.' 

The question to have asked, no doubt, would have been, 
'Why not have gone to the Editor of the "Phoenix"?' But 
my wife was touched by his evident distress of mind and the idea 
of the invalid in the waiting-room, and she gave him a sovereign 
on loan. 

I naturally looked upon that sovereign as lost. It might 
indeed produce interest to my wife in Paradise, where all good 
deeds are said to fructify ; but so far as I was concerned I felt 
sure I should never see either it or Mr. Henslow again. 

The next morning, however, to my extreme surprise he called. 
A few words convinced me that he was the person he professed to 
be, and made me ashamed of my suspicions. ' Your wife's kind- 
ness,' he said, 'has enabled my sister to procure comfortable 
lodgings ; our return tickets were fortunately not in my lost purse, 
and now we are going back again.' 

6 But your sister has not seen the physician ? ' 

'No,' he said with a faint flush; 'we must come up again 
for that.' Of course I understood that he referred to his want of 
cash, and forgetting in my turn, for the moment, that he might 
just as well apply to the ' Phoenix ' as to me, I advanced him 
another loan. He accepted it with as much modest hesitation as 
would have destroyed the last remnant of suspicion had any still 
survived within me, and, promising to return it by the next day's 
post, took his departure for ever. No one that I know of has 
seen Mr. Henslow since. A week or so afterwards I called at the 
' Phoenix ' office, and found that I had not been imposed upon so 
far as his identity was concerned. He had, however, been paid 
beforehand for his serial story, and since then, as many callers 
testified, had levied contributions on the Charitable upon the 



158 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

strength of that literary achievement. If these lines should 
meet the gentleman's eye, I should like him to know that he is 
forgiven, and that if he will only sit to me for his character I 
should like to have further pecuniary dealings with him. Such 
an idiosyncrasy as his must be would be well worth my professional 
attention. 

The next greatest impostor I ever came across was F , the 

famous spiritualist. Home being on the Continent at the time 
(though an imperative message from a court of law brought him 

shortly afterwards to England), F was then at the head of his 

profession in London, the very top of the table-turners. I met him 
for the first time at a large party where there were many persons 
distinguished in literature ; not a few of whom, to my great sur- 
prise, were believers in him. I had thoroughly investigated the 
spiritual business (for copy), and knew it for what it was ; it has 
long been exploded among all persons of intelligence, and is now 
only represented by its bastard offspring, thought-reading, but at 
that time it enjoyed considerable credit. As I was known to be 

sceptical, F undertook to tackle me. He promised that any 

dead friend of whom I should think should indicate his presence in 

the usual manner like a postman. F rapped out my friend's 

surname accurately enough, though I did my best to delude him by 
not hesitating at the proper letter, but he was wrong in the Christian 
name. He made it William instead of Henry, and I positively 
declined to hear any communication from a departed spirit who did 
not know the name given to him by his godfathers and godmother. 
There was in fact a bit of a row. The next day I mentioned the 

circumstance to H , a common friend of mine and the dead 

man's, and he at once said, ' But you were wrong, my dear fellow ; 
our friend's name was William. It was his brother [whom we had 
also known] who was Henry.' 

The circumstances somewhat staggered both of us, and we 

thought it only right, injustice to F , to let him know how the 

case stood. We accordingly called upon him in Seymour Street, 
where he gave his seances, and I made my apology. He was very 
dignified about it, and not at all triumphant. * I have no power 
over these things myself,' he said ; < they are revealed to me ; I 
am merely an instrument ' (and so he was, a stringed one). He 
condescended so far, however, to combine business with his 
mission ' as to suggest a seance then and there at a guinea a 
head, to which proposition we acceded. 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 159 

I can see him now, a very fat, white-skinned man, with a face 
something like that of the first Napoleon, and I should think as 
great a scoundrel. His mode of procedure was to direct us to 
write down the names of a dozen dead friends on pieces of folded 
paper, and place them on the table. Then he would take one up 
in his large white hand, and inquire whether the spirit named 
therein was on the premises ; and, after two or three trials (for 
success was never achieved the first time), the reply came in the 
affirmative. H -, though a man of great acquirements and intel- 
ligence, was of an exceptionally reverent nature, and he did not much 
like dealing with his dead friends so lightly ; but eventually he did 
what was required of him. He wrote down, among others, the name 
of some one I had never heard of. It was a woman's name let us 
call it Lucy Lisle and, of course, I was unaware that he had done 
so. Suddenly the table at which we sat was violently perturbed 

indeed, it was almost thrown upon us and F , in something 

like convulsions, raised his sleeve and displayed, written in letters 
of blood upon his arm, the words Lucy Lisle. 

H , greatly agitated, got up at once, and we left the house 

and took a walk together in Hyde Park, where we discussed the 
matter. As luck would have it, there we met W. Gr. Clark, of 
Cambridge, and confided to him what had occurred, and he 
agreed to take a guinea's worth of supernatural information from 

F , in my company, the next morning. What had happened, 

as we both agreed, was that the conjuror, while ' making hay,' as it 
were, of the dozen pieces of paper, had contrived to possess himself 
of one of them, and afterwards of its contents (this was after- 
wards found to be the case, but he had also a blank slip, which he 
dropped when he took up the other, so that there should always 
be the right number upon the table). What puzzled me, and 
delighted Clark, were the letters of blood. 

The very same thing took place as on the former occasion. 

F pitched upon one of Clark's friends, and produced ' Henry 

James ' upon his naked arm in gory characters. 

6 That is very curious,' said Clark in his dulcet tones. 'You 
have reproduced quite accurately the name that I wrote down ; 
but I see that, by a mistake, no doubt arising from my official 
position ' (he was Tutor of Trinity at the time), < I have written 
it with the surname first ; the deceased gentleman's name was 
James Henry. That you have read my slip of paper is certain ; 
for that Mr. Henry, even in his disembodied state, should not 



160 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

know his surname from his Christian name is incredible. I 
shall not hesitate to say what has happened here wherever I 
go, and I should recommend you to leave London.' 

Y took this excellent advice within twenty-four hours. It 

was afterwards found, by experiment, that letters written by a 
stylus upon a white skin will remain, and apparently in blood, 
for more than a minute. It was certainly a very effective per- 
formance. 

Among other eminent individuals imposed upon by this spe- 
cious personage was the author of < A Strange Story,' who was 
even reported to have said that 'if there had been no revela- 
tion, Mr. F would have convinced him of the existence of 

another world.' I had had some correspondence with Lord Lytton 
concerning Leitch Kitchie's pension, his claims to which he had 
(as it seemed to me curiously enough) refused to advocate upon 
the ground that he (his Lordship) was in opposition to Her 
Majesty's Government; but the first time I met him was at the 
gathering at Knebworth in connection with the Guild of Literature 
and Art, which, though intended to become historical, was, to 
confess the truth, little short of a failure. 

Some houses were built at Stevenage for the accommodation 
of decayed authors, in which none of them could be induced to 
live, even rent free. They pointed to the local train bills, and 
showed that it was impossible to reach their proposed homes after 
the performances at the theatres. This difficulty had not been 
taken into account by the patrons of the scheme, and there were 
others also < What are you going to pay us for being buried 
alive at Stevenage ? ' for one. 

The festival which was to inaugurate this new Arcadia of 
Literature was itself not a promising one. It was emphatically 
' a scratch entertainment ; ' almost every author of eminence in 
London was invited to it, and a great many others ; and < the 
county' were asked to meet them. It was our host's idea to 
introduce these two classes to one another, so that, should any of 
the authors become < decayed ' (which was highly probable), they 
would be received with open arms by their landed neighbours. 
The two parties did not amalgamate. I was talking to Charles 
Collins, who with many others was staying in the house, when he 
was accosted by a fellow-guest of the exquisite ' type. < What a 
dem'd funny set of people ! ' he said ; "pon my life, before I was 
told who they were, I thought it was the Foresters: 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 161 

Charles Collins, brother of the novelist of that name and son- 
in-law to Dickens, was himself an excellent writer. His * Cruise 
upon Wheels ' is one of the most charming books of travel ever 
written, and his short sketches notably those two accounts of a 
visit to the Docks, one supposed to be written under local influences, 
and the other the next day in all statistical sobriety testify to his 
great powers of humour. He was in weak health, and endured 
with admirable patience more physical suffering than his friends 
were aware of. He, however, sometimes exhibited a whimsical 
finicality. 4 No one gives less trouble than myself,' he once 
observed to a friend of mine who was his host, ' but I like my little 
tastes consulted. Your bacon at breakfast is not very streaky, 
and would you be so kind as to ask your man to hang up my 
great coat by the loop ? ' 

I shall not easily forget his delight at the following little 
social fiasco which took place at the house of a dear, but some- 
what fastidious, friend of ours in Westbourne Terrace. C , 

a musical critic famous for his good dinners, happened to be 
calling at the same time as ourselves; he, too, was fastidious 
but in a much greater degree than our host, devoted to music, 
painting, and the fine arts, despising everyone who did not 
come up to his standard of culture, and I need hardly say, there- 
fore, with a great horror of boys. Male children were smuggled 
away at his approach, lest they should put the accomplished crea- 
ture out of tune. He was not in general very affable to anybody, 
but on this occasion he was exceptionally gracious, and especially 
to our host. 

' My dear L ,' he exclaimed with effusion, ' are you engaged 

for Thursday week Thursday, the twentieth ? If not, I have a 
nice little plan.' L- dived into his breast-pocket for his en- 
gagement list. He scented the best of dinners, and also excellent 
company, none the worse for the circumstance that the host would 
sometimes retire to his bed to compose something (or perhaps 
himself) and leave them to their own devices. 

6 1 am happy to say,' he answered, ' that on Thursday week I 
am free.' 

6 That is capital. Then on Thursday week I will come and 
dine with you.' 

6 Very good,' returned L , though with a decided falling 

off in the enthusiasm of his manner. 

6 Yes, I will come, and I will bring with me what do you 

VOL. III. NO. 14, N. S, 8 



162 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

think? a Bluecoat boy. The fact is,' he proceeded to explain 
with an air of great relief and satisfaction, < that I have promised 
his friends to see him into the mail train at Paddington, which is 
a long way from my house ; while from Westbourne Terrace, you 
see, it would be no trouble to me at all.' 

The whole scene, much embellished by the chagrined counte- 
nance of our host, formed one of the prettiest bits of genteel 
comedy I ever saw on the stage of real life. 

A still droller incident of by no means a ' genteel ' kind since 
it implicated me in a very serious criminal offence took place 
about this time. A great jewel robbery was committed at the 
West End under very ingenious circumstances. A gentleman 
and lady staying at a fashionable hotel had ordered a large quan- 
tity of valuable goods chiefly diamonds to be brought to them 
for their inspection. They drugged or chloroformed (I forget 
which) the jeweller's assistant who brought them, and got clear 
away with all the swag. It so happened that the whole adventure 
had been, as it were, prefigured in * Chambers's Journal ' twelve 
months before ; a contributor had imagined and written the in- 
cident just as it afterwards occurred, and the story had so 
recommended itself to some member of the criminal class that 
he had put it into practical execution. The jeweller thereupon 
wrote to the editor of the ' Journal ' (poor me), charging him, not 
indeed with actual complicity with the crime, but as having been 
accessory to it before the fact. < Under the pretence of elevating 
the masses,' he indignantly observed, ' you suggest to them in- 
genious methods of robbing honest tradesmen.' My answer to this 
gentleman was, I flatter myself, complete. I pointed out to him 
that if honest tradesmen would only read the respectable periodical 
I had the honour to edit a moral duty not neglected, it seemed, 
even by the lowest classes they would put themselves on their 
guard against such catastrophes. My position compelled me to 
appear to sympathise with the offenders, but I have always thought 
that they showed themselves miserably deficient in gratitude 
in never sending my contributor the least acknowledgment not 
even one of the rings of which they had so many for what he 
had done for them. 

Their putting into practice the offspring of his imagination was 
certainly a curious thing to do. But Nature herself does not scorn 
to stoop to similar acts of plagiarism. We story-tellers are often 
the first to suggest an occurrence which, after it has actually 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 163 

happened, goes, most unjustly, to strengthen the popular supersti- 
tion that truth is stranger than fiction. 

Some years after the publication of ' Lost Sir Massingberd ' the 
following paragraph appeared in the * Philadelphia Ledger : ' 

'A CURIOUS DISCOVERY. The hurricane which passed over the Miami Valley 
on July 4th tore down a number of old trees, and amongst them a large oak. The 
owner of the property, a Mr. Eogers, on examining the extent of the damage 
done by the storm, discovered in the hollow of the fallen oak a human skeleton, 
with some brass buttons and shreds of clothing, and among other things a pocket- 
book with a number of papers. A communication to the Miami County Democrat, 
signed J. F. Clark, relates: "The man's name, as gathered from the papers, was 
Eoger Vanderburg, a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and a captain in the 
Revolutionary Army. He was an Aid to Washington during the retreat across 
the Jerseys, and served a time in Arnold's headquarters at West Point. In 1791 
he marched with St. Clair against the North-western Indians, and in the famous 
outbreak of that general on the Wabash, November 3, of the year just written, he 
was wounded and captured. But while being conveyed to the Indian town at 
Upper Piqua he effected his escape, but found himself hard pressed by his savage 
foes. He saw the hollow in the oak, and despite the mangled arm, and with the 
aid of a beech that grew beside the giant then, he gained the haven and dropped 
therein. Then came a fearful discovery. He had miscalculated the depth of 
the hollow, and there was no escape. 0, the story told by the diary of the oak's 
despairing prisoner I How, rather than surrender to the torture of the stake, he 
chose death by starvation ; how he wrote his diary in the uncertain light and the 
snows! Here is one entry in the diary: 'November 10. Five days without 
food ! When I sleep I dream of luscious fruits and flowing streams. The stars 
laiigJi at my misery ! It is snowing now. I freeze while I starve. God. pity me ! ' 
The italicised words were supplied by Mr. Rogers as the trembling hand oft-times 
refused to indite plainly. The entries covered a period of eleven days, and in 
disjointed sentences is told the story of St. Glair's defeat. Mr. Rogers has written 
to Lancaster to ascertain if any descendants of the ill-fated captain live ; if so, 
they shall have his bones." ' 

Again, in 'Murphy's Master,' I got rid of a great number of 
disagreeable characters on an island in the Indian Seas, by the 
simple, though startling, device of submerging the island itself ; 
the few respectable persons who inhabited it (including the 
hero and heroine) being most properly and providentially saved 
in a fishing-boat. Some critics thought it audacious ; but Na- 
ture was so favourably impressed by my little plan, that she used 
it herself two years afterwards, and in a more comprehensive 
way than I should have dared to invent; an island in the Bay 
of Bengal, with the Kinshra lighthouse upon it, with seven 
scientific assistants, being submerged in a precisely similar 
manner. 

I do not wish to be hard upon Nature, and, without giving 
details, which could not but wound her amour propre, will merely 

83 



164 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

remark that she committed a similar act of piracy in the case of 
my novel ' Found Dead.' 

Though by no means a humorous story itself, that book, by 
the way, was the cause of a very fine stroke of humour. It was 
the custom with the very respectable firm of publishers, with whom 
I did business at that time, to pay my cheques to the names of my 
immortal works, instead of to myself ; and since it suited their con- 
venience so to do, I never complained of it, though it sometimes 
put me in rather a false position, when I presented my demands 
in person, as for example, in the case of the < Family Scapegrace.' 
When I came for the proceeds of ' Found Dead,' it was too much 
for the sense of (professional) propriety of the banker's clerk, who 
gravely observed, ' It is very fortunate, Sir, that this cheque is 
not payable " to order," or it would have to be signed by your 
executors.' 

This incident, I remember, delighted Dickens, who remarked, 
however, with a sudden access of gravity, < I should not like to 
have much money at a bank which keeps so clever a clerk as that.' 

He was himself an excellent man of business, though in early 
life he made great pecuniary mistakes by an impatience of dispo- 
sition, a desire to get things settled and done with, which is shared 
by many men of letters to their great loss ; he was painstaking, 
accurate, and punctual to a fault ; and the trouble he took about 
other people's affairs, especially in his own calling, is almost 
incredible. Young men of letters are especially fortunate as 
regards the sympathy and assistance they receive from members 
of other professions. Almost all of us have our Dr. Good- 
enough. The lawyers, too, are always ready with their advice. I 
remember mentioning a legal difficulty, which I had come across in 
the plot of a novel, in the presence of one who is now perhaps the 
foremost man at the English bar. The next morning, though at that 
time we had only a mere club acquaintance, I received from him 
half-a-dozen clearly written pages explaining in the most lucid 
manner the law of the case in point. The chiefs of our own pro- 
fession are always ready to give a helping hand to their juniors ; 
but Dickens looked upon it as an imperative duty so to do. Many 
a time have young would-be contributors called upon me, and pro- 
duced from their breast-pockets as passport to my attention, a 
letter of rejection, torn and frayed, and bearing tokens of having 
been read a hundred times, from the Master. 

* He wrote me this letter himself,' they would say, as though 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 165 

there were but one ' He ' in the world. It was generally a pretty 
long one, though written at a time when minutes were guineas to 
him, full of the soundest advice and tenderest sympathy. There 
was always encouragement in them (for of course these were not 
hopeless cases), and often whenever, in fact, there seemed need 
for other help besides counsel some allusion, couched in the most 
delicate terms, to ' the enclosed.' Dickens not only loved his 
calling, but had a respect for it, and did more than any man to 
make it respected. With the pains he took to perfect whatever 
proceeded from his own pen everyone who has read his life must 
be conversant ; but this minute attention to even the smallest 
details had its drawbacks. When an inaccuracy, however slight, 
was brought home to him, it made him miserable. So conscious 
was I of this, that I never liked to tell him of a mistake in * Dom- 
bey and Son,' which has escaped the notice of ' readers ' profes- 
sional and otherwise, in every edition. The Major and Cleopatra 
sit down to play piquet ; but what they do play for they ' propose 
to ' one another is ecarte. 

In friendship, which in all other points must needs be frank 
and open, this problem often remains unsolved namely, the friend- 
ship of one's friend for some other man. D and E have the most 
intimate relations with one another, but for the life of him E cannot 
understand what D sees in F to so endear him to him. This was 
what many of D's (Dickens's) friends, and certainly the world at 
large, said of F (John Forster). It is not my business, nor is it in 
my power, to explain the riddle ; I rarely met them together without 
witnessing some sparring between them and sometimes without 
the gloves. On the other hand, I have known Forster pay some 
compliments to ' the Inimitable ' in his patronising way, which the 
other would acknowledge in his drollest manner. It is certain that 
Forster took the utmost interest in Dickens, even to the extent of 
seeing everything he wrote through the press, and as to the genuine- 
ness of Dickens's regard for him I have the most positive proof. I 
have already said that Dickens once wrote to me spelling the word 
Foster (in Foster Brothers) with an r ' because I am always think- 
ing of my friend Forster.' Long afterwards, in acknowledging a 
service, which I had been fortunately able to do for him, in terms 
far more generous than it deserved, he actually signed the letter, 
not Charles Dickens, but John Forster. 

When the biography of the former appeared, and its editor was 
accused of representing himself as standing in a nearer relation to 



166 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

Dickens than he really was, I thought it only fair to Forster to 
send him those two letters, with which though, of course, he had 
no need of the corroboration of such a matter from without he 
expressed himself greatly pleased. 

In 1871 I lost my old friend Eobert Chambers, and with it, 
after a short interval, the editorship of the ' Journal.' My sepa- 
ration from it was a foregone conclusion. My relations with 
the surviving proprietor always what the diplomatists call 
'strained' were severed within twelve months, notwithstand- 
ing the good offices of his nephew, Kobert's son. My late 
contributors were so good as to present me with a silver ink- 
stand, suitably inscribed, which I" value beyond any possession 
I have in the world. Their spokesman (a humourist) whispered 
as he handed it to me, * Attenborough's is the place,' but it has 
never gone there. 

My literary life from that time has gone on very smoothly 
perhaps more smoothly than I deserve. I have been especially 
fortunate in finding friendship where I might naturally have only 
looked for business relations, nor do I believe that I have an 
enemy in my own calling, nor even among my ( natural foes,' the 
critics. On the other hand, I am well aware that there are a 
good many people who dislike me very cordially. If they do so 
for a good reason, I exceedingly regret it ; but there are some folks 
whose animosity is the highest of compliments. There is, in my 
opinion, no more fatal weakness in human nature than the desire 
to be thought well of by everybody. 

When good fortune has once set in, the record of a man's life 
(especially a literary life) is apt to get uninteresting, and for that 
reason alone I shonld be disposed to end here, at all events for the 
present, what is after all rather a string of literary anecdotes 
(some of which, however, I venture to think have some interest) 
than a literary autobiography. Moreover the last decade of the 
life of a living person is rather a delicate matter to deal with. 

It will be observed by those who have done me the honour of 
reading them, that these reminiscences have scrupulously avoided 
all mention, beyond a passing allusion, to authors who are happily 
still with us. I should have had nothing but good to say of them, 
which would have sadly disappointed some people, but in omit- 
ting them I am well aware that I have deprived my narrative of 
what would otherwise have been its chief attraction. It is unam- 
bitious enough, Heaven knows, and will interest, I fear, such persons 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 167 

only as are interested in literary matters, and those but of the 
lighter kind. It is, in fact, the literary rather than the general 
public that I now address a reflection which causes me to add 
a few words by way of postscript. 

A personal experience to which I have already alluded has 
taught me, ' by harsh evidence,' that young persons who would 
embrace the literary calling are very prompt to see its attractions 
and very slow to understand its difficulties. From the somewhat 
light and airy tone (of which no one can be more conscious than 
myself) in which these Eecollections have been written, they may 
conclude perhaps that the profession of literature requires little 
pains or study, and that such a moderate success at least as has 
been here described may be attained-by a small amount of work. 
I can only say, for my part, that when I hear what are held to be 
hard-working men in other callings talk of ' work,' I smile. I 
have often found that what they mean by work (when they are 
not in the enjoyment of a more or less long vacation) is the re- 
maining within the same four walls for a certain large number of 
hours per diem. Even when they do work, they have something 
to work upon : they have not to spin the very threads of their work 
out of their own brains before they begin business. I have not 
indeed been so close a prisoner as some of them, for the necessities 
of my calling (so far as novel-writing is concerned) have often 
compelled me to seek change of scene, for ' local colouring ; ' but 
for the last fi ve-and-twenty years of my life I have only had three 
days of consecutive holiday once a year ; while all the year round 
(from another necessity of the pen) the Sundays have been as 
much working days with me as the week days. 

Such from day to day labours, though not, it is true, extending 
to long hours, would perhaps have been impossible but for the relief 
afforded by some favourite amusement ; this, in my case, as it has 
been in that of much greater men, has been the noble game of 
whist, which I have played regularly for two or three hours a day 
for the last thirty years. It does not, indeed, much matter what 
it is, so that the relaxation is an attractive one, but I pity that 
man from the bottom of my heart who can find no interest in a 
game. It is not everyone who, like Sarah Battle, can relax their 
minds over a book, and least of all those who write books. I have 
noticed that those of my own calling who read the most are not 
the best students of human nature, and fall most often into the 
pit of plagiarism. How often have I heard it said too late by 



168 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

those who have most certainly earned their play time, < How I 
wish I had an amusement ! ' The taste for such things must be 
caught early (like the measles) and indulged (like the patient) ; 
what position, for example, is more unsatisfactory than that of the 
man who has only played whist occasionally say once a week 
and ' makes up a rubber to oblige ' ? In a partner's eyes, at least, 
such a person will never meet his obligations. Mackworth Praed 
must have been a whist-player, or he never could have depicted 

* Quince.' 

Some public principles he had, 

But was no flatterer nor fretter 
He rapped his box when things were bad, 

And said < I cannot make the*m better.' 
And much he loathed the patriot's snort, 

And much he scorned the placeman's snuffle, 
And cut the fiercest quarrel short, 

With 'patience, gentlemen, and shuffle.' 

Men of letters are rarely good card-players Lord Lytton and 
Lever are almost the only exceptions I can call to mind but some 
of them have been fond of whist, and have enlivened it by their 
sallies. A few of these, which I have happened myself to hear, 
seem worthy of record. 

A guest being asked to a dinner party, which was to precede 
an evening at cards, thus apologised for coming in morning 
costume, * The suit is surely no matter, so long as one is a Trump.' 

A man who had his foot on a gout-rest was holding very bad 
cards, and complaining alike of his luck and his malady. Upon 
being reproached by his more fortunate adversary for his irritation, 
he suddenly exclaimed, { It's all very well for you, but a " game 
hand " is a very different thing from a " game leg." 

On another occasion the same gentleman (whose temper, gout 
or no gout, was always a little short) jumped up from the seat 
where he had been losing and declared that he would play no 
more. < But you'll break up the table,' pleaded the others patheti- 
cally. ' If it is broken up there will still be three " legs " left,' was 
his uncompromising reply. 

A whist-player, who even though he was a loser, ought to have 
known better than to have jested upon such a tender subject, once 
remarked with reference to the considerable number of novels 
for which I have been responsible, ' Nobody can deny, my dear 
fellow, that you have great " numerical strength." ' l 

1 A term used to express plenty of small cards without an honour. 



SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 169 

I remember a little poem called 4 Dumby,' written by a brother 
novelist, who has himself, alas ! left a vacant place at the four- 
square table for ever, which has a pathetic singularity about it : 

I see the face of the friend I lost 

Before me as I sit, 
His thin white hands, so subtle and swift, 

And his eyes that gleam with wit. 

I see him across the square green cloth 

That's dappled with black and red ; 
Between the luminous globes of light 

I watch the friend long dead. 

It is only I who can see him there, 

With victory in his glance, 
As, the cross ruff stopped, he strides along 

Like Wellington through France. 

He died years past in the jungle reeds, 

But still I see him sit, 
Facing me with his fan of cards, 

And those eyes that beam with wit. 

In that excellent poem of Thomas Hood's in which he describes 
the village of Bullock Smithy, he exhibits a natural disinclination 
to come to the workhouse. 

There is one more house, 
he says, 

Which we have not come to yet, and I hope we never shall, 
And that's the Parish poorhouse. 

In these recollections of mine I feel a similar reluctance to 
allude to the Playhouse, for the fact is my merits have never been 
recognised on the boards. The subject is a sore one, and I will 
merely say that when I think of a certain comedietta called ' The Sub- 
stitute,' and the way in which it was treated by the dramatic critics, 
I appreciate Landor's observation, made under similar circum- 
stances in connection with his 4 Imaginary Conversations,' that 
he would bet a pint of porter that none of his detractors, even if 
they took off their coats to it, would come within a mile of them. 
The ' Substitute ' ran for six weeks out of the season, at the Court 
Theatre, and then I suppose ran right away, for I have never 
heard of it since. It was really one of the brightest but there, 
as Tennyson used (rather doubtfully) to be ^advertised to say 
among the eulogistic criticisms on ' Festus,' ' I dare not venture 
to say what I think about that play.' 

85 



170 SOME LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. 

If I have not been appreciated on the stage, however, I have 
nothing to complain of in respect to my reception off the boards. 

The observation of a great writer on having half-a-dozen bottles 
of brandy sent him by an anonymous admirer, is well known. 
< This,' he said with complacency, is true fame.' For my part, 
as is only in accordance with the rules of proportion, I have had 
to be content with much inferior liquor mere ginger-beer, a 
drink which is effervescent no doubt, but while it lasts is refreshing 
enough. I once lost a Persian cat, which (I had almost written 
' who ') was very dear to me, and went to a suburban police office 
for professional advice as to handbills and rewards. ' What is your 
name, sir,' inquired the intelligent inspector. (It is cynically 
observed that inspectors are always called in the newspapers 
' intelligent ;' but this one, as will be seen, fully deserved the 
title.) As my business was a lawful one, I of course gave him no 
alias. 

4 James Payn ? ' he echoed. * Are you the story-teller ? ' 

I modestly murmured that I was. 

' Then I tell you what,' he said, in a tone in which generosity 
and gratitude were finely blended, you are out of my district, 
but Til take the case.' 

And he took it. That was my brandy. 

I have also had sums of money borrowed of me at various 
times by admirers of my genius but that has given me less 
satisfaction. 



THE END. 



171 



OUR LADY OF LOURDES. 

6 THE Atlantic is a century,' says the American patriot. A man 
may live the life of his great-great-grandchildren by spending 
eight days at sea, but he can do something yet more interesting, 
he can live the life of his ancestors in the middle ages by taking 
a shorter journey, merely a train journey, which will land him on 
the platform at Lourdes. In the former case it is the future, in 
the latter the past which is reduced to manageable dimensions, 
The noisy steam engine, the fussy officials, the name of the 
Birmingham builder of the carriage incidentally catching the eye, 
serve to remind the traveller that he is in the nineteenth century ; 
but for the rest, he has < trundled his soul ' back over ' the full- 
mouthed centuries ' to the ancient world, when much was done by 
miracle, and travel was a pilgrimage. 

But what is it by which he is involuntarily transported ? 
What is that which so fills the air at Lourdes, that even the 
twentieth-century American would perforce forget his extra cen- 
turies if he turned up there during last summer ? It is no 
less a fact than that 1883 was the year of the Silver Wedding 
of the Virgin of Lourdes. To the sober-minded Protestant the 
very statement seems incongruous and indecorous, but not so to 
the more fanciful French Catholic, to whom the occasion is one 
for burning zeal, self-sacrificing devotion, and unusual generosity. 
Twenty-five years ago Lourdes was a simple mountain town, 
proud of a castle rich in historical memories, fond of its moun- 
tains, which, curtseying aside, allowed it to peep up the lovely 
Pyrenean valley, glad of its fertilising stream and its lower undu- 
lating hills, ever ready to yield abundantly under the neat and 
laborious cultivation of the frugal inhabitants. But a girl of four- 
teen, one Bernadette Soubirous, by all accounts a simple guileless 
lassie, was to revolutionise the life of the quiet market town, roll 
it back over the centuries, and make it a world-wide resort. She 
was what is called a pious child, and, although too weakly to 
attend school, was of good health and upon this point the 
believing historians of the subsequent events lay not unnecessary 
stress. She was so attached to her beads that her playfellows 
used to say, ' Celle-la n'est bonne que pour dire des chapelets.' 



!72 OUR LADY OF LOURDES. 

To this child's credulous eyes the Virgin appeared no less than 
eighteen times. The tale of the Vision was noised abroad, and 
on the last occasion 10,000 people from the neighbouring villages 
came to see, if possible, what she saw. But they saw nothing. 
To their eyes the consecrated cave was but a common cavern, the 
holy niche wherein the Vision appeared only a plain, ivy-grown 
rock, with a beauty common enough in that country to have 
ceased to be an object of interest. One thing though they saw, 
and that was the damsel so lost in ecstasy at what she saw that 
she seemed not to feel the flame of a burning candle. When she 
rose she repeated the words told her by the Virgin, which were, 
in brief, that the Virgin wished the people to be happy, and bade 
them eat the herb of that place, and wash in the water. ' I am 
the Immaculate Conception,' were the concluding words, and 
thereby she proclaimed her name. Straightway water flowed from 
the cave, and although, unfortunately, this was not the sign which 
the incredulous priest had told the child to require as the condition 
of his belief, it is the water and the words which have made the 
Lourdes of to-day. 

The cave, ivy-grown and grass-surrounded still (for in spite of 
the holy command the pilgrims are begged by conspicuous notices 
not to touch the grass), is no longer left to be a storm-sheltering 
grotto for little Bernadettes and their goats. It is now the ' Holy 
Place ' of hundreds and thousands, the place where prayer is wont 
to be made by pilgrims from all lands. 

Across its wide mouth are strong iron railings not unneces- 
sarily strong, for enthusiasm lends strength to crowds. In the 
centre is the tawdry altar. Candle-stands capable of carrying some 
hundreds of candles are placed at intervals, and an image of the 
Virgin has been hoisted on to a natural niche outside. 

To this cave, by excellent roads from all directions, stream 
masses of people. ' All sorts and conditions of men ' kneel before 
it in the roadway. We notice the cultivated man side by side 
with the rough peasant, and the fashionable lady as absorbed as 
her horny-handed neighbour, clothed by the work of her own 
distaff. On the day of our visit it was a pilgrimage from Nor- 
mandy which had arrived : peasant women in their stiff white caps 
(with embroideries which set the feminine mind wondering if not 
coveting) ; peasant men in their bright blue blouses ; Breton sea- 
men strong with patience, unworldly in simplicity, recalling the 
' Herve Real' of Browning's poem, all kneel reverently before the 
cave, respond piously to the monotonous litany which a priest 



OUR LADY OF LOURDES. 173 

chants from the rough pulpit in their midst, or bow with humility 
as the Host (umbrella-covered !) passes through their midst. At 
a given word the gates are opened, a 'Salvation Army-like" 
chorus started, and the crowds file into the cavern. 

It is pathetic beyond description to see them with greedy eager- 
ness press their handfuls of rosaries one perhaps well-worn, the 
rest new to take to friends against the water dripping from the 
walls of the cave, to see them kiss with passionate earnestness the 
damp rock, to watch them dip corners of handkerchiefs into the 
little pools which the trickling water has left, to hear a murmured 
hurried prayer that this may cure the sick child far away at home, 
or give the long-desired strength to the father too weak to go on 
pilgrimage himself. It is touching to see the gratitude beaming 
in the face of the poor pale body who has entered to leave her 
crutches, which are not wanted now, for has not the holy water 
cured her ? and it certainly is one of the peculiarities of this cave 
chapel that its ornamentation consists not of banners, pictures, or 
mosaics, but of crutches hung in rows from the ceilings, of surgical 
instruments, of spectacles, invalid chairs and other appliances, 
fastened to the walls left there not because their owners think 
them beautiful, but because they could go away without, and 
would leave them to serve as witness that the ; Mother of Grod ' 
had smiled on them. A stone's-throw from the cave are the 
curing-sheds, to which the sick, halt, maimed, and blind are 
carried to be bathed and rubbed with the holy water ; kindly by- 
standers are pressed into their service, and all are invited to join 
in a ' Litany of Pity ' for their sufferings, or a ' Song of Jubilee ' 
if they come out cured, which sure enough they sometimes do. 
Besides the sheds are rows of water-taps over which are 
notice-boards assuring the faithful that they convey the water 
which sprang from the cave after the wonderful vision. Eeminded 
by the very prosaic notice, and by the brass taps constructed on 
the best patent principle, that one is in the nineteenth century, 
one pauses for a moment to criticise ; but on those earnest faces 
there is no place for doubt, and one is swept back again into 
sympathy with the faith of the times that are gone, but which 
we are told by every word and action still lives. Before us are 
six thousand of these honest working folk who have paid their 
fifty or sixty francs, have sat the long weary hours in the jolting 
train, have put up with rough accommodation, and coarse, if ex- 
pensive food, because it is the 4 Silver Wedding of the Virgin,' 
and because his Holiness the Pope himself has promised a full 



174 OUR LADY OF LOURDES. 

indulgence to all who do her honour by making the pilgrimage 
this year, which indulgence and here, doubtless, in many cases, 
is the sufficient moving cause 4 may, perhaps, extend to those 
now in Purgatory.' But the journey does not of itself secure this 
favour ; the pilgrim must pay three visits to the grotto, he must 
confess fully, and give an alms to the extent of his ability and 
there is no doubt that in the past the < extent ' has been generously 
judged. At the top of the rocky hill in which the cavern is hol- 
lowed, the pilgrims' alms have built a church, a handsome modern 
Gothic structure containing some fourteen chapels, besides the 
Lady chapel, and supported by a crypt equally well proportioned. 
The building is of plain white stone, wholly undecorated. Grati- 
tude has been the sole decorator, and its ways are neither sparse 
nor mean. Gratitude has given banners, rich in material, beauti- 
ful in workmanship, to the number of 600, any two of which would 
make bright one of the ugly churches in a poor dull neighbour- 
hood. The healed have literally lined the church with white 
marble, put up in small tablets, on each of which is inscribed in 
gilt letters the malady, the date, and the name of the cured donor ; 
and thousands of gold and silver hearts form on the walls above 
texts from the words of the Lady of the Grotto. Gratitude, too, 

made General - give up his epaulettes, and the young matron 

what she valued most her bridal wreath. Willing hands have 
worked the curtains and hangings with rare embroidery, and wil- 
ling givers have hung the sacred building with lamps of Venetian 
glass or fretted brass work. It is gratitude which is still shower- 
ing into large coffers the money to build yet another erection on 
the foundations of which the workmen are (not waiting for a 
miracle) already busily at work with prosaic tools and carefully 
laid tramways. It is, though, the gratitude of the unquestioning 
middle ages, and while the pilgrims climb in long and solemn 
procession the winding road to yonder hill, on whose summit is 
the ancient cross standing in bold relief against the southern blue 
of the sky, it would be as well to summon the nineteenth century 
critical spirit, and ask what it all means, and what is at the root 
of all. The inquirer will be told a story, an unseemly story, of 
the credulity of the country girl being used as a cover for an un- 
lovely love intrigue ; he will be told of priestly trickery, of peasants' 
foolish piety, and of the strength of self-deception. He will hear 
all, and while he may condemn a Church which fosters such 
things, he will still feel that he is in the presence of a phenomenon 
m human history which needs further consideration. 



175 



LONGER LIFE. 

THE present generation has enjoyed, on the whole, a remarkable 
amount of prosperity. Trade and industrial production have 
expanded immensely within the last thirty years ; the value of 
labour has risen, while capital has found highly profitable invest- 
ments. And thus, while the returns of the income-tax show an 
enormous increase of wealth among the middle and upper classes, 
anyone who can use his eyes has only to look around, either in 
town or country, to see how great and cheering has been the im- 
provement alike in the dwellings and in the general condition of 
the working classes. As a happy, and indeed natural consequence 
of this general prosperity, and partly also as the effect of sanitary 
legislation, there has recently set in a marked and apparently 
steady increase in the duration of life in this county, which, of 
itself, and still more with respect to what it implies, is well 
worthy of notice and self-gratulation. Is it not worth knowing, 
even as a simple matter of fact, that the young generation now 
growing up around us to speak exactly, those born since 1870 
are likely to enjoy better health, and likewise to live fully two 
years and a half longer than their parents, or at least than the 
average lifetime of the generation which is passing away ? This 
is taking boys and girls together ; but, as usual, the chances of 
life are in favour of ' the weaker sex ' the recent increase in the 
average duration of life for females being almost three and a half 
years, and two years for males. 

A very important portion of this change has undoubtedly been 
due simply to the remarkable general prosperity which began 
with the latter half of this century, and of which the fruits still 
so largely remain. People who are ' better off ' can and do take 
better care of their health, and have more time for holidays and 
recreation. And that such a change has occurred is plainly shown 
by the shorter hours of work and increased habits of pleasure- 
taking among all classes of our people. But the main and most 
manifest cause of increased longevity must be ascribed to legisla- 
tion to the Factory Acts, to the 'inspectorship' or official super- 
vision of certain kinds of industry, the additional precautions for 
personal safety in the working of coal-pits, and the measures taken 



176 LONGER LIFE. 

to prevent adulteration of the articles of diet ; also, very notably, 
the Public Health Acts of 1871 and 1875; and, not least, the 
great works of sanitation and urban improvements undertaken by 
many of the municipal bodies throughout the kingdom, of which 
the < main drainage ' works of London (which cost about twelve 
millions sterling) are the most notable example. Concurrently, and 
indeed as the source of these things, there has been a strong 
public sentiment of philanthropy, which gave birth to the < Saturday 
half-holiday/ and to a general encouragement and promotion of 
popular recreation. .Altogether, there has been a marked growth 
of humane and generous feeling ; and anyone of mature years has 
only to compare his own boyhood with the pleasanter conditions 
of life which now surround the young, to see how great and happy 
has been the wide social change effected during his own lifetime. 
Nevertheless, for a long time there existed great doubts as to 
whether the new sanitary works and regulations were really 
efficient, and would accomplish their beneficent purpose. The 
cost was heavy as well as obvious, while the results were apparently 
nil. Our national life-statistics began to be kept in 1838 ; and 
for seventeen years thereafter there was no improvement the 
death-rate and duration of life remained, on the average, un- 
changed. It seemed as if the conditions of human longevity 
were fixed too deeply in the nature of things to be appreciably 
altered by human effort. The rate of mortality was at its highest 
in the years 1847 and 1849, when influenza and cholera were 
epidemic bad years, in fact, in all ways, with famine in Ireland, 
revolutions on the Continent, and bad trade everywhere. In those 
two years the annual death-rate was respectively 24*7 and 25*1 
per thousand. On the other hand, in the five years 18415, when 
on the whole the weather was fine and trade good, the death-rate 
averaged only 21-4; and in the year 1856, with its beautiful 
summer, the rate was only 20-5. But still, as already said, taking 
the whole period (1838-54), people in Great Britain died just at 
the same rate throughout ; the average death-rate for the period 
being about 23 J per thousand annually. This was, no doubt, dis- 
appointing. But, besides the fact that the sanitary works and 
legislation were still in their infancy, and also that new conditions 
require time to operate upon the physical frame, acting cumula- 
tively, it needs further to be remembered that there was in 
progress a great increase of town life a shifting of population 
from the country into the large towns, producing an aggregation and 



LONGER LIFE. 177 

modes of life much less favourable to health than the open-air life 
of rural districts. It is also worthy of notice that, although, owing 
to a combination of causes, there has been, for a generation past, 
a general tendency for the rural population to stagnate, and in 
many counties to diminish, the influx from the country into the 
towns is greatest in bad times. In the following statistics of the 
remarkable growth of population in London during the present 
century, it will be seen that the highest percentages of increase 
occurred in the two decennial periods, 1821-30 and 1841-50, 
when the industrial condition of the kingdom was at its worst, 
and political discontent (as usual) was peculiarly rife : 

Year. Population of London. Increase per cent, in decade. 

1801 958,863 

1811 1,138,815 18'7 

1821 1,378,947 21-1 

1831 1,654,994 20'0 

1841 1,948,217 17'7 

1851 2,362,236 21-2 

1861 2,803,989 18-8 

1871 3,254,260 16'1 

1881 3,816,483 17'3 
Increase since 1801, 2,857,620. 

Accordingly, although the sanitary improvements were at that 
time inadequate to reduce the rate of mortality throughout the 
kingdom, they at least served to nullify the insalubrious effects of 
the rapid increase of town life then in progress. 

Thereafter, however, the desired and expected change came 
quickly, and in so manifest a manner as to leave no doubt that 
* sanitation ' was capable of doing its work effectively. In the 
five years 1871-75 the death-rate fell perceptibly, averaging 22 
per thousand; in the next five years (1876-80) it fell to 20-8; 
in the year 1881 it fell to 18-9; in 1882 it stood at only 
18-6; and in the autumnal quarter of last year to only 16*6 per 
thousand of the population of England. For the whole of last 
year, the death-rate in England was 19'5, and if the great towns 
be excluded, 17*7 per thousand. Thus, for a dozen years past, the 
rate of mortality has been steadily and greatly on the decrease, 
and when the cumulative influence of sanitary work is considered, 
it may fairly be expected that the decline of the death-rate is far 
from having reached its limits. 1 

1 In the autumnal quarter of last year the death-rate in London (where 
a population equal to that of all Scotland is perilously concentrated within an 



17 8 LONGER LIFE. 

The stage to which we have at present attained may be stated 
thus. Compared with the period 1838-54 (the earliest for which 
there are trustworthy records), the average duration of a man's 
life is now 41-9 years instead of 39-9, and of a woman's 45-3 
instead of 41-9 years, an addition of eight per cent, to the 
female life and five per cent, to the male. Of each thousand 
males born at the present day, forty-four more will attain 
the age of thirty-five than used to be the case previous to 
1871. For the whole of life, the estimate now is that of one 
thousand persons (one-half males and one-half females), 35 sur- 
vive at the age of forty-five, 26 at fifty-five, 9 at sixty-five, 3 at 
seventy-five, and 1 at eighty-five. To put the case in another 
way, every thousand persons born since 1870 will live about 2,700 
years longer than before. In other words, the life of a thousand 
persons is now equal in duration to that of 1 ,070 persons pre- 
viously; and 1,000 births will now keep up the growth of our 
population as well as 1,070 births used to do. 

This is equivalent in result to an increase of our population, 
and in the best form, viz. not by more births but by fewer deaths, 
which means fewer maladies and better health. What is more, 
nearly 70 per cent, of this increase of life takes place (or is lived) 
in the ' useful period ' namely, between the ages of twenty and 
sixty. Thus, of the 2,700 additional years lived by each thousand 
of our population, 70 per cent., or 1,890 years, will be a direct 
addition to the working power of our people. 

It is to be remembered that there might be a great addition 
to the births in a country with little addition to the national 
working power nay, with an actual reduction of the national 

area only a few miles square) was only 18-8, and for the whole year 20-4, per 
1,000. Yet, how much remains to be done, and how much may yet be accom- 
plished, in improving the health of our modern Babylon, may be seen, inter alia, 
from a recent report of Dr. Little, Medical Officer of Health for Whitechapel, 
who denounces a large nervly erected block .of buildings containing 73 rooms as 
4 totally unfit for human habitation.' In some of these rooms there was no light 
even on a bright day ; the sanitary arrangements were quite unsatisfactory, and 
there was no yard or open space, although the building is intended for 200 people. 
Another building of the same character is described as ' Plough Street Buildings,' 
Whitechapel, having in one block 83 rooms, of which 79 were occupied by 178 
persons, 91 of whom were. adults and 87 children, 'the lower order of foreigners, 
and very dirty.' As in the other case, the ground floor is occupied by shops, and 
>ugh the building has only been erected about four years, it is described as 
m part 'quite unfit for habitation.' As the public are now aware, such cases 
may be multiplied a hundredfold. 



LONGER LIFE. 179 

wealth and prosperity seeing that, regarded as ' economic agents,' 
children are simply a source of expense, and so also are a majority 
of the elderly who have passed the age of threescore. On the 
other hand, as already said, only one quarter of the longer or 
additional life now enjoyed by our people is passed* in the useless 
periods of childhood and old age, and more than one-third of it is 
lived at ages when life is in its highest vigour, and most produc- 
tive alike of wealth and of enjoyment. 

This lengthened duration of life has been achieved in the face 
of a great and progressive change in the relative numbers of the 
rural and urban population the latter of which has risen since 
1851 from 51 per cent, of the whole to 59 per cent. No correct 
comparison of death-rates can be made without taking into account 
the different constitution of the compared populations as regards 
age and sex ; and the difference in this respect between town and 
country causes the urban death-rate to appear more favourable 
than it really is. In the Census Report of 1881 the important 
remark is made: 'If we take the mean (1871-80) death-rates in 
England and Wales at each age- period as a standard, the death- 
rate in an urban population, as constituted above, would be 20-40 
per 1,000, while the death-rate in the rural population would be 
22-83. Such would be their respective death-rates on the hypo- 
thesis that the urban districts and the rural districts were equally 
healthy. We know, however, as a matter of fact, that the urban 
death-rates instead of being lower than rural death-rates are much 
higher. The difference of healthiness, therefore, between the 
two is much greater than the difference between their death-rates.' 
Dr. Longstaff, writing upon this subject in March last, 1 proposes to 
represent the true death-rate for the principal towns and for the 
rural districts by the numbers '959097 and 1-073343 respectively. 
And he adds, ' The increased mortality from cancer and several 
of the " local diseases," the increase in lunacy (though this is not 
so great as it appears), the deterioration of eyesight, the un- 
questioned premature decay of -the teeth of the rising generation, 
and to a much smaller extent the prevalence of premature bald- 
ness, convince me that there are conditions attendant on life in 
towns which no hygienic knowledge, no improved administration, 
not even a new municipal government for London, can wholly 
overcome. Some amount of degeneration of race appears inevit- 
able, and in the United States of America, where all sociological 
1 Paper read before the Statistical Society, March 18, 1884. 



1 80 LONGER LIFE. 

phenomena are seen in more rapid evolution than here, it is said 
to be even already very evident.' 

Dr. Longstaff also gives a highly interesting analysis of the 

rates of mortality, from which it appears that while several kinds 

of disease are on the decline, others are distinctly increasing in 

fatality. As might be expected under improved sanitation, six of 

the < zymotic diseases 'viz. fever, cholera, diarrhoea, small-pox, 

scarlet fever, and measles are proving less fatal than they were 

thirty years ago ; but three other zymotic diseases viz. diphtheria, 

croup, and whooping-cough are slightly worse. Coming to 

another class of diseases, we find a greatly increased mortality 

from lung-diseases equal to 1,213 more deaths per million of 

the population ; and an equally distinct fall in the mortality from 

phthisis, or pulmonary consumption (now known to be a specific 

disease, not an ordinary lung-complaint), equal to 694 less deaths 

per million. Heart-disease is greatly on the increase, killing as 

many more as consumption now kills less. Eheumatic fever (a 

prolific parent of heart-disease) is likewise on the increase. So 

also are cancer and diseases of the liver and kidneys. Finally, 

brain-diseases (exclusive of convulsions) are increasingly fatal; 

while convulsions and hydrocephalus are less fatal, showing that 

the increase of brain-disease occurs in mature or advanced life, 

not in childhood a fact doubtless illustrative of the mischief 

attending the ' high pressure ' under which life nowadays is carried 

on. Nevertheless, as we have shown, there is on the whole a 

distinct and remarkable improvement in the condition of our 

people as regards health and longevity. 

A mere prolongation of life is not necessarily a boon ; indeed, 
if life be prolonged beyond its working power, it is apt to be a 
weariness to its possessor, and (like childhood) certain to be a loss 
or waste to the community. Nevertheless an increased duration 
of life carries with it some of the richest treasures of existence. 
In a recent debate in the House of Commons on pigeon shooting, 
one of the champions of this amusement informed the House that 
a large number of < blue-rock ' pigeons are reared expressly for 
this sport, and he grotesquely challenged any member to say, < if 
he had the choice, whether he would not rather be a blue-rock at 
Hurlmgham than nothing at all ? ' Without attempting an answer 
to such a question (which certainly taxes the conceivable powers 
E the human mind), we must point out that what makes an in- 
creased duration of life to be worthily desired is, that it implies 



LONGER LIFE. 181 

or involves an improvement both in the circumstances of life and 
in life itself. It means alike more health and more comfortable 
and agreeable surroundings. It is because of better circumstances 
that we have better health, and it is only through better health 
that we have and enjoy longer life. And health more health 
how much happiness is packed in these brief words ! What is 
health but the perfection of life, and the one great boon which 
gives the means of enjoying all the others? It is the portal 
through which life can enter upon its natural enjoyments. With- 
out health, the salt of life loses its savour ; whereas when health 
is in its prime, the troubles and reverses of life weigh not more 
heavily than the rain-drops which glide off the duck's back. In- 
deed at times rare times it may be, in this high-pressure age 
a state of health may be distinctly felt as a happiness of itself, 
being the perfection of that rhythmic and harmonious movement 
of varied powers and sensations which constitutes existence. 

While attributing this beneficial change to the co-operating 
effects of material prosperity and sanitary legislation, it would be 
ungrateful if we did not allow some share in the good work to the 
contemporaneous improvement of the healing profession. Medical 
physiology has fully shared in the brilliant discoveries and inven- 
tions which science has so strikingly achieved during the last forty 
years. No longer can it be said of the physician that he ' puts 
drugs about which he knows little into a body about which he knows 
less.' It seems as if more than a single generation must have 
passed since Sir Walter Scott described the country doctor as 
only a little less hardly worked than his horse, and carrying as his 
whole stock of medical appliances a lancet in his pocket and a 
bottle of calomel in his saddle-bags. ' Do what you think best ; 
never mind what people say : no theory can overturn the facts of 
the dissecting-room/ was the maxim of Sir Astley Cooper ; and 
since then it would be long to tell the manifold advance which 
has been made in the knowledge and cure of the maladies to which 
flesh is heir. Chloroform and the antiseptic treatment have well- 
nigh removed the terrors and have greatly reduced the dangers of 
surgical operations ; while science has worked hard to supply 
appliances for discovering the germs and tracking the progress of 
disease. For the physician, the optician now grinds his most 
powerful lenses ; the electrician prepares batteries that heat the 
wire by which bloodless operations are performed ; and from the 
workshops of the cutler and mechanician the choicest appliances 



182 LONGER LIFE. 

in the shape of instruments are put at the disposal of those who 
formerly considered themselves well equipped with a tourniquet, 
a scalpel, a saw, and that dreadful lancet which used to let out so 
many lives in the hands of Dr. Sangrado. 

One very striking result of the increased health and better 
preserved vitality of the community is to be seen in the great age 
at which our public men continue to work and do good service. A 
Palmerston, a Beaconsfield, or a Gladstone are in fullest vigour at 
seventy. Lord Beaconsfield once remarked that Canning died a 
boy, yet Canning lived to fifty-seven ! Pitt, that youthful genius 
and master-spiritperhaps the greatest statesman whom England 
has ever produceddied ten years younger, at forty-seven ! In 
truth, with few exceptions, politicians are now hardly taken 
seriously till they have arrived at Thackeray's < age of wisdom,' and 
often they do not hold office until they are grandfathers. Now, too, 
it is becoming almost a matter of course that our leading personages 
should die in harness, passing away with no twilight of existence ; 
full of years, but still in the zenith of their fame. And consider, 
since such is the casein these prominent examples, what an amount 
of real benefit must be contemporaneously occurring among the 
masses of our people, who with greater health work more, save 
more, enjoy more, reaching the threescore years with a vigour or 
vitality less shaken by illness or infirmity, and consequently better 
able to maintain themselves in face of the ever-increasing pace at 
which the wheels of life go on crushing and grinding. 

Esto perpetua ! May this happy change in the conditions of 
human life continue ! Verily, each generation needs to be stronger 
in order to keep equal to the ever-increasing strain of thought, as 
well as of commercial rivalry and industrial competition. And 
this much we may venture to say confidently, that if there be a 
continuance of the happily improved circumstances which have 
already both strengthened and lengthened human life in our 
country, this vital improvement will likewise continue, and, prob- 
ably, in still greater proportion, seeing how cumulative in their 
action all sanitary improvements are. No doubt there is a fixed 
or tolerably definite term for human life. It is still true, as in the 
days of Moses, that threescore and ten years sum up the ordinary 
life of man, and that, if it run to fourscore years, the prolongation 
is rarely to be envied or desired. But, within these old, old limits 
how much remains to be accomplished ! Even now, the average 
lifetime is only one-half of what physical philosophers regard as 



LONGER LIFE. 183 

man's * natural period,' and although we question whether any ad- 
vantage or additional pleasure, even to themselves, is to be found 
in the multiplying of the aged as by a more numerous over- 
passing of the fourscore years how vast might be the increase of 
happiness if mankind were to become so healthy that ordinarily, 
or on the average, they were comfortably without sickness to 
complete the moderate threescore years ! How small, compara- 
tively, would then be the waste of life and of its power of work and 
enjoyment ; and how much would the sorrows of life and difficul- 
ties of society be lightened by the greater ease with which each 
family would be able to provide for its members ! 

At the outset, we attributed the recent increase of health and 
longevity largely to the remarkable prosperity which our genera- 
tion has enjoyed, and which has made famous the third quarter of 
the present century an almost millennial period in our own 
country, and, to a great extent, all over the world. The improve- 
ment of health, we have said, has been mainly a consequence of 
that prosperity in money-making which alike prompted and ren- 
dered possible the lightening of labour, the State education of the 
poor, and the improved sanitation. And, as all such changes 
operate slowly, we of the present day have probably not yet 
reached the maximum result of the new influences, and the next 
generation may reap a harvest where, as yet, we see only the green 
corn. 

But, alas ! is there not another side to the picture ? Human 
history seems divided into long alternating periods of prosperity 
and adversity; slow-moving tides, readily noticeable when at 
their full, yet the beginning and end of which is almost or wholly 
inscrutable to the keenest on-looker. And how can we hide it ? 
Is there not too much ground for apprehension lest one of those 
bright summer-times is now wholly past, and we are sliding anew 
into a ( winter of discontent,' another < glacial period,' chilling and 
depressing the powers of industry ? And the thought arises, ' Shall 
we be able to hold through the winter the happy fruits which we 
won under the golden summers ? ' The shortening and lightening 
of labour, the protection of women and children, and the various 
beneficial but costly restrictions now imposed upon dangerous or 
unhealthy trades, and in shipping all these, doubtless, were the 
outcome of a fine humanity, of a greater warmth and sensitiveness 
of the national conscience. Granted cheerfully granted. We 
should lament, we might despair, were it not so. Nevertheless, 



184 LONGER LIFE. 

it was the golden prosperity which co-inspired and alone permitted 
or rendered practicable these popular benefactions. Without that 
prosperity, could these restrictions upon labour and money-making, 
even if made, have been maintained in the face of the keen and grow- 
ing international competition, an industrial rivalry with peoples 
less wealthy than we are, and who are ready to work without 
such mitigating limitations? The industrial crisis in Paris was 
attributed by one of the chief witnesses before the Investigation 
Committee (the president of the carpentering trade) to the high 
prosperity which had till recently prevailed, and to the fact 'that 
the average rate of pay had increased, since 1845, from 3 to 
7 francs, whereas it was now impossible to compete with Germany 
and other foreign countries where labour is cheaper ; and that, 
consequently, of the twenty thousand workmen in his trade only 
ten thousand could obtain employment ; ' these ten thousand, 
doubtless, being the elite of their class, whom alone it was profit- 
able to employ at the present advanced rate of wages. 

This is a significant fact which it is not safe to overlook. Here, 
as in Paris, our people, while accepting the new holidays and the 
factory and oth er restrictions in their favour, have hardly realised 
that such changes demand something upon their part, and that if 
their improvement in health, comfort, and knowledge is to be a safe 
possession, that improvement must have some equivalent return 
to the community in steadier and better labour. Complaints have 
now become rife in nearly all quarters that trade cannot hold its 
own against the increasing industrial competition of foreign coun- 
tries, fettered as we are by legislative restrictions. Surely this 
ought not to be the case. Healthier, and happier, and educated 
workmen ought to do better work, and thereby compensate the 
commonwealth for the pecuniary sacrifice which it has been making 
on their behalf, and so maintaining for themselves a continued 
enjoyment of the social benefits accomplished by that sacrifice. 
Our national prosperity since the middle of the century has been 
remarkable and truly blessed ; may the untoward and threatening 
features of the present hour soon pass away, and our whole people 
continue to retain and advance in that all-round improvement in 
their condition and happiness which is typified by and has its 
natural outcome in ' Longer Life.' 



185 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 
BY JAMES PAYN. 

AUTHOR OF ' BY PROXY ' ETC. ETC. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE OLD SETTLE. 




ILLIAM HENRY, far from 
sharing his father's enthusiasm 
at any time, was on this occasion 
less than ever inclined to applaud 
it. If Clopton House should be 
found full of Shakespearean 
MSS., it would not afford him 
half the pleasure he would have 
derived from a tete-a-tete with 
his cousin Margaret ; a treat which it seemed was to be thrown 
away upon Frank Dennis. Why didn't Mr. Erin select Mm to 
take notes for him from the musty documents ? A question the 
folly of which only a high state of irritation could excuse. He 
knew perfectly well that his own dexterity and promptness in 
copying had caused himself to be chosen for the undesirable 
task, and that knowledge irritated him the more. It was only 

VOL. III. NO. 14, N. S. 9 



186 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

when lie could be of some material use to him, as in the present 
instance, that his father took the least account of him. If he 
could bring himself to steal one of those precious documents, was 
his bitter reflection, and secrete it as some wretched slave secretes 
a diamond in the mines of Golconda, then, perhaps, and then only, 
he might be permitted to marry Margaret. For a bit of parch- 
ment with Shakespeare's name upon it, most certainly for a whole 
play in his handwriting, Mr. Samuel Erin would have bartered fifty 
nieces, and thrown his own soul into the bargain. Our young 
friend, however, was quite aware of what a poet of a later date 
would have told him, that < an angry fancy ' is a poor ware to go 
to market with : so, with as good a grace as he could, he put on 
his hat and accompanied Mr. Erin and his cicerone to Clopton 
House, which was but a few yards down the street. 

It was a good-sized mansion of great antiquity, but had fallen 
into disrepair and even decay. Its present tenant, Mr. Williams, 
was a farmer in apparently far from prosperous circumstances. 
Half of the many chambers were in total darkness, the windows 
having been bricked up to save the window-tax, and the handsome 
old-world furniture was everywhere becoming a prey to the moth 
and the worm. As a matter of fact, however, these were not 
evidences of poverty. Mr. Williams had enough and to spare of 
worldly goods, only of some of them he did not think so much 
as other people of more cultivated taste would have done. A 
Warwickshire farmer of to-day would have considered many things 
as valuable in Clopton House which their unappreciative pro- 
prietor had relegated to the cock-loft. It was to that apartment 
indeed that Mr. Erin was led as soon as the nature of his 
inquiries, which he had stated generally, and to avoid suspicion 
of his actual object, to be concerning antiquities was understood. 
The room was filled with mouldering household goods of remote 
antiquity, chiefly of the time of Henry VII., in whose reign the 
proprietor of the house, Sir Hugh Clopton, had been Lord Mayor 
of London. Among other things, for example, there was an em- 
blazoned representation on vellum of Elizabeth, Henry's wife, as she 
lay in state in the chapel of the Tower, where she died in child-birth. 

* You may have that if you like,' said Mr. Williams to his 
visitor carelessly. He was a fat, coarse man, but very good- 
natured. < For, being on vellum, it is no use to light the fire with.' 

* You don't mean to say you light your fire with anything I 
see here? ' gasped Mr. Erin. 



THE TALK OF THE, TOWN. 187 

< Well, no, there's nothing much left of that sort of rubbish ; 
we made a clean sweep of it all about a fortnight since.' 

< There were no old MSS., I hope ? ' 

* MSS. ! Heaps on 'em. They came from New Place at the time 
of the fire, you see, though Heaven knows why anyone should have 
thought them worth saving. They were all piled in that little 
room yonder, and as I wanted a place for some young partridges 
as I am bringing up, I burnt the whole lot of 'em.' 

: You looked at them first, of course, to make sure that there 
was nothing of consequence ?' 

6 Well, of course I did. I hope Dick Williams ain't such a fool 
as to burn law documents. No, they were mostly poetry and that 
kind of stuff.' 

6 But did you make certain about the handwriting ? Else, my 
good sir, it might have been that of Shakespeare himself.' 

6 Shakespeare ! well, what of him ? Why, there was bundles 
and bundles with his name wrote upon them. It was in this very 
fireplace I made a regular bonfire of them.' 

There was a solitary chair in the little chamber, set apart for 
the partridges, into which Mr. Samuel Erin dropped, as though he 
had been a partridge himself, shot by a sportsman. 

c You made a bonfire of Shakespeare's poems ! ' he 
said, ejaculating the words very slowly and dejectedly, like minute 
guns. ' May Heaven have mercy upon your miserable soul ! ' 

c I say, 9 cried Mr. Williams, turning very red, < what the deuce 
do you mean by talking to me as if I was left for execution? 
W r hat have I done ? I've robbed nobody.' 

4 You have robbed everybody the whole world !' exclaimed 
Mr. Erin excitedly. < In burning those papers you burnt the 
most precious things on earth. A bonfire, you call it ! Nero, 
who fiddled while Kome was burning, was guiltless compared to 
you. You are a disgrace to humanity. Shakespeare had you in 
his eye, sir, when he spoke of " a marble-hearted fiend." ' 

Mr. Samuel Erin had his favourite bard by heart, and was 
consequently in no want of ' base comparisons,' but he stopped a 
moment for want of breath. Annoyance and indignation had had 
the same effect upon Mr. Williams. He had never been 6 bally- 
ragged ' in his own house for ' nothing ' except by his wife 
before. Purple and speechless, he regarded his antagonist with 
protruding eyes, a human Etna on the verge of eruption. 

Mr. John Jervis knew his man. Up to this point he had 

92 



188 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

taken no part in the controversy ; but lie now seized Mr. Erin by 
the arm, and led him rapidly downstairs. Their last few steps 
were accomplished with dangerous velocity, for a flying body 
struck both of them violently on the back. This was William 
Henry, who, unable to escape the wild rush of the bull, had de- 
scribed a parabola in the air. 

< If there's law in England, you shall smart for this,' roared the 
infuriated animal over the banisters. 

6 Perhaps I ought to have told you that Mr. Williams was of a 
hasty disposition,' observed Mr. Jervis apologetically, when they 
found themselves in the street. 

6 Hasty ! ' exclaimed Mr. Erin, whose mind was much too 
occupied with sacrilege to concern himself with assault ; c a more 
thoughtless and precipitate idiot never breathed. The idea of his 
having burnt those precious papers ! I suppose, after what has 
happened, it would be useless to inquire just now whether any 
scrap of them has escaped the flames ; otherwise my son can go 
back ' 

' I am sure that wouldn't do,' interposed Mr. Jervis confidently. 

William Henry breathed a sigh of relief. The impressions of 
Stratford-on-Avon seemed to him indelible ; they had left on him 
such ' local colouring ' as time itself, he felt, could hardly remove. 
Fortunately for his amour propre not a word was said by his 
father of their reception at Clopton House. His whole mind was 
monopolised by the literary disappointment. The inconvenience 
that had happened to his son did not weigh with him a feather. 

The whole party now proceeded to Mr. Jervis's establishment, 
where the remains of the famous mulberry tree were kept in stock. 
Mr. Erin was haunted by the notion that some Shakesperean 
fanatic might step in and buy the whole of it before he could 
secure some mementoes, whereas the birthplace in Henley Street 
could ' wait ; ' an idea at which, for the life of him, the proprietor 
of the sacred timber could not restrain a dry smile. It was the 
general opinion that enough tobacco stoppers, busts, and wafer 
seals had already been sold to account for a whole grove of mul- 
berry trees. Mr. Erin was very energetic with his new acquaint- 
ance on the road, about precautions against fire (insurance against 
it was out of the question, of course), but when he had possessed 
himself of what he wanted, and the matter was again referred 
to as they came away, it was noticeable that he had not another 
word to say upon the side of prudence. 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. . 189 

' He declaimed against Mr. Williams' rashness,' whispered 
William Henry to Margaret ; < but my belief is that he would now 
set fire to that timber yard without a scruple in order to render 
his purchases unique.' 

Maggie held up her finger reprovingly, but her laughing eyes 
belied the gesture. 

Both these young people indeed had far too keen a sense of fun 
to be enthusiasts. 

To Mr. Hart the butcher (who at that time occupied the 
house in Henley Street) as an indirect descendant of the immortal 
bard, through his sister, Mr. Erin paid a deference that was 
almost servile. He examined his lineaments, in the hopes of 
detecting a likeness to the Chandos portrait, with a particu- 
larity that much abashed the object of his scrutiny, and even 
tried to get him to accompany him to the church that he might 
compare his features with those of the bust of the bard in the 
chancel. 

But it was in the presence of the bust itself that Mr. Erin 
exhibited himself in the most characteristic fashion. Standing 
on what was to him more hallowed ground than any blessed by 
priests, and within a few feet of the ashes of his idol, he was 
nevertheless unable to restrain his indignation against the com- 
mentator Malone, through whose influence the coloured bust had 
recently been painted white. Instead of bursting into Shake- 
spearean quotation, as it was his wont to do on much less pro- 
vocation, he repeated with malicious gusto the epigram to which 
the act of vandalism in question had given birth : 

Stranger, to whom this monument is shown, 
Invoke the poet's curses on Malone, 
Whose meddling zeal his barbarous taste displays, 
And daubed his tombstone as he marred his plays. 

His rage, indeed, so rose at the spectacle, that for the present he 
protested that he found himself unable to pursue his investigations 
within the sacred edifice, and proposed that the party should start 
forthwith to visit Aniie Hathaway's cottage at Shottery. 

There was at present no more need for Mr. Jervis's services, 
so that gentleman was left behind. Mr. Erin and Frank Dennis 
led the way by the foot-path across the fields that had been pointed 
out to them, and William Henry and Margaret followed. It was 
a lovely afternoon ; the trees and grass, upon which a slight shower 
had recently fallen, emitted a fragrance inexpressibly fresh. All 



190 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



was quiet save for the song of the birds, who were giving thanks 
for the sunshine. 

< How different this is from Norfolk Street,' murmured Mar- 
garet. 

< It is the same to me,' answered her companion in a low tone, 
< because all that makes life dear to me is where you are. When 
you are not there, Margaret, I have no home.' 

4 You should not talk of your home in that way,' returned she 
reprovingly. 

'Yet you know it is the truth, Margaret; that there is no 
happiness for me under Mr. Erin's roof, and that my very presence 
there is unwelcome to him.' 

<I wish you would not call your father Mr. Erin,' she ex- 
claimed reproachfully. 

* Did you not know, then, that he was not my father ? ' 
' What ? ' In her extreme surprise she spoke in so loud a key 
that it attracted the attention of the pair before them. Mr. 
Erin looked back with a smile. ' Shakespeare must have taken 
this walk a thousand times, Maggie,' he observed. 

She nodded and made some suitable reply, but for the mo- 
ment she was thinking of things nearer home. She now remem- 
bered that she had heard something to the disadvantage of Mr. 
Erin's deceased wife, one of those unpleasant remarks concerning 
someone connected with her which a modest girl hears by accident, 
and endeavours to forget. Until Mr. Erin had become a widower 
Margaret had never been permitted by her mother to visit Norfolk 
Street. Mrs. Erin had been a widow a Mrs. Irwyn but she 
had not become Mr. Erin's wife at first because her husband had 
been alive. It was probable then that what William Henry had 
said was true ; he was Mrs. Erin's son, but not Mr. Erin's, though 
he passed as such. This was doubtless the reason why her uncle 
and he were on such distant terms with one another, and why he 
never called him father. On the other hand it was no reason why 
her uncle should be so harsh with the young man, and treat him 
with such scant consideration. Some women would have despised 
the lad for the misfortune of his birth, but Margaret was incapable 
of an injustice ; her knowledge of his unhappy position served to 
draw him closer to her than before. 

By the blush that, in spite of her efforts to repress it, spread 
over her face, William Henry understood that she gave credit to 
his statement, and by the tones of her voice he felt that it had 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 191 

done him no injury in her eyes. It was a matter, however, which, 
though necessary to be made plain, could not be discussed. 

< What your uncle says is very true, Maggie,' he quietly 
remarked. < This must have been Shakespeare's favourite walk, 
for love never goes by the high road when it can take the foot- 
path. The smell of that bean field, the odour of the hay of that 
very meadow, may have come to his nostrils as it comes to ours. 
His heart as he drew nigh to yonder village must have beat as 
mine beats, because he knew his love was near him.' 

4 There is the cottage,' cried Mr. Erin excitedly, pointing in 
front of him, and addressing his niece. ' Is it not picturesque, 
with its old timbers and its mossy roof ? ' 

4 It will make an excellent illustration for your book,' observed 
Frank Dennis the practical. 

' It has been illustrated already pretty often,' returned the 
other drily, < or we should not recognise it so easily.' 

( Let us hope it's the right one,' muttered William Henry, ' for 
it will be poor I who shall suffer for it if it is not.' 

Fortunately, however, there was no mistake. They stepped 
across the little brook, and stood in the garden with its well and its 
old-world flowers. Before them was the orchard ' for whispering 
lovers made,' and on the right the low vineclad cottage with the 
settle, or courting-seat, at its door. 

Here Shakespeare came to win and woo his wife ; whatever 
doubt may be thrown on his connection with any other dwelling 
that much is certain. On the threshold of the cottage 'Mr. Erin 
took off his hat, not from courtesy, for he was not overburdened 
with politeness, but from the same reverence with which he had 
doffed it at the church. He entered without noticing whether he 
was followed by the others or not. A descendant of Anne Hatha- 
way's, though not of her name, received him ; fit priest for such 
a shrine. That he had not read a line of Shakespeare in no way 
detracted from his sacred character. Frank Dennis, himself not 
a little moved, went in likewise. As Margaret was following him, 
William Henry gently laid his hand upon her wrist and led her 
to the settle, which was very ancient and worm-eaten. 

' Sit here a moment, Maggie ; this is the very seat, as Mr. 
Jervis tells me, on which Shakespeare sat with her who became 
his wife. Here on some summer afternoon like this, perhaps, he 
told her of his love.' 

Margaret trembled, but sat down. 



192 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

< It is amazing to think of it,' she said ; < he must have looked 
on to those same trees, and on this very well.' 

'But he did not look at them, Maggie,' said the young man 
tenderly ; < he looked at the face beside him, as I am looking now, 
and I will wager that it was not so fair a face.' 

< What nonsense you talk, Willie ! Why do you not give 
yourself up as your as Mr. Erin does to the associations of the 
place ? They are so interesting.' 

< It's just what I am doing, dear Maggie. It was here they 
interchanged their vows; a different pair, indeed, though not 
altogether so superior, since to my mind you excel Anne Hathaway 
as much as I fall short of her marvellous bridegroom. That I am 
no Shakespeare is very true ; yet it seems to me, Maggie, that 
when I say " I love you," even he could have said nothing more 
true and deep. I love you, I love you, I love you do you hear 
me ? ' continued the young man passionately. 

'You frighten me, Willie,' answered Maggie in trembling 
tones. ' And then it is so foolish, you know, that even if I said 
what you would have me say it could be of no use.' 

< But you think it, you think it ? That is all I ask,' urged 
the other earnestly. If matters were not as they are ; if I got 
Mr. Erin's consent ; if I had sufficient means to offer you a home 
not indeed worthy of you, for then it must needs be a palace 
but comfort, competence, you would not say "Nay"? Dearest 
Maggie, my own dear darling Maggie, give me hope. "The 
miserable," as Shakespeare tells us, " have no other medicine : " 
and I am very, very miserable ; give me hope, the light of hope.' 

' It would be a will-of-the-wisp, Willie.' 

' No matter ; I would bless it, if it led me to my grave. If I 
had it, I could work, I could win fortune, even fame perhaps. 
You doubt it ? Try me, try me ! ' he continued vehemently, ' and 
if after some time, a little, little time, no harvest comes of it, and 
my brain proves barren, why then I will confess myself a dreamer ; 
only in the meantime be mine in spirit ; do not promise yourself 
to another ; let us say a year ; well then six months ; you can 
surely wait six months for me, Maggie ? ' 

' It would be six months of delusion, Willie.' 

' Let it be so ; a fool's paradise, but still for me a paradise. 
I have not had so many happy hours that fate should grudge me 
these. I know I am asking a strange thing ; still I am not like 
those selfish lovers who, being in the same pitiful case with me as 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 193 

to means, exact, like dogs-in-the-manger, vows of eternal fidelity 
from those whom they will, in all probability, be never in a position 
to wed. I ask you not for your heart, Maggie, but for the loan 
of it ; for six months' grace, probation. If I fail to show myself 
worthy of you if I fail to make a name or rather to show the 
promise of making it within that time, then I return the loan. 1 
do not say, as was doubtless said by him who sat here before me, 
" Be my wife ! " I only say, " For six months to come, betroth 
yourself to no other man." Come, Maggie, Frank Dennis is not 
so very pressing.' 

It was a dangerous card to play, this mention of his rival's 
name, but it won the game. Dennis was as true as steel, but- 
through a modest mistrust of his own merits a thing that did 
not trouble William Henry he was a backward lover. He had 
had opportunities of declaring himself which he had neglected, 
thinking of himself too lowlily, or that the time was not yet 
ripe ; or preferring the hope that lies in doubt, to the despair 
that is begotten of denial ; and this, I think, had a little piqued 
the girl. She liked him well enough, well enough even to marry 
him ; but she liked William Henry better, and other things 
being equal, would have preferred him for a husband. They were 
not equal, but it was possible just possible, for for the moment 
she had caught from her reputed cousin some of that confidence 
he felt in his own powers that they might be made so. At 
all events six months was not a space to ' delve the parallels in 
beauty's brow ; ' and then it was so hard to deny him. 

' You shall have your chance, Willie,' she murmured, c though, 
as I have warned you, it is a very poor one/ 

He drew her nearer to him, despite some pretence of resistance, 
and would have touched her cheek with his lips, when the cottage 
door was suddenly thrown open behind them and Mr. Erin 
appeared with an old chair in his hands, which he brandished 
like a quarterstaff above his head. He looked so flushed and 
excited that William Henry thought his audacious proposal had 
been overheard, and that he was about to be separated from his 
Margaret for ever, perhaps even by a violent death. 

' It is mine ! it is mine ! ' cried the antiquary triumphantly. ' I 
have bought Anne Hathaway's chair.' 



95 



194 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



CHAPTER VI. 

AN AUDACIOUS CRITICISM. 

IN the case of crime, every person who is concerned in its detection 
looks very properly to motive ; the law, indeed, in its award of 
punishment, disregards it, but then, as a famous authority (and 
himself in authority), namely Mr. Bumble, observes, 'the law is 
a hass.' Where mankind falls into error is in looking for motive in 
all cases whether criminal or otherwise. A very large number of 
persons are actuated by causes for which motive is far too serious a 
term. They are often moved by sudden impulse, nay, even by whim 
or caprice, to take very important steps. When interrogated after 
the mischief has been done, as to why they did this or that, they 
reply, ' I don't know,' and are discredited. Yet, as a matter of fact, 
the motive was so slight, or rather so momentary (for it was prob- 
ably strong enough while it lasted) that they have really forgotten 
all about it. 

William Henry Erin, of whose character the world subsequently 
took a very different and erroneous view, was essentially a man of 
impulse. He had attributes, it is true, of another and even of an 
antagonistic kind. He was very punctual and diligent in his habits, 
he was neat and exact in his professional work ; though a poet, his 
views of life, or at all events of his own position in it, were prac- 
tical enough, yet he was impatient, passionate, and impulsive. His 
proposition to Margaret Slade had been made with such stress and 
energy that it was no wonder (albeit she knew his character better 
than most people) that she thought it founded upon some scheme 
for the future already formed in his own mind. Of its genuineness 
there could be no shadow of doubt, but she also took it for granted 
that he had some ground for expectation which at all events to 
his own mind seemed solid that within the space of time he had 
mentioned, something would occur to place him in a better social 
position. Her impression, or rather her apprehension (for she did 
not much believe in his literary talents, a circumstance, by the 
by, which showed that she was by no means over head and ears 
in love with him), was that he trusted to the publication of his 
poems to place him on the road to prosperity ; his use of the words 
* fame and fortune ' certainly seemed to point to that direction, 
and what other road was there open to him ? 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 195 

Whereas, as a matter of fact, there was not even that poor half- 
penny-worth of substratum for his hopes. Circumstances the 
finding himself alone with her he loved on Shakespeare's courting 
seat had, of course, been the immediate cause of his amazing 
appeal, but they were also the chief cause. The knowledge that 
Frank Dennis was of the party and could gain her ear at any 
moment, with the certainty of Mr. Erin's advocacy to back him, had, 
moreover, made the young man madly jealous. To secure his be- 
loved Margaret, even for a little while, from so dreaded a rival, was 
something gained ; and then there was the chapter of accidents. 
We know not what a day may bring forth, how much less what 
may happen within six months ! William Henry was but a boy, 
yet how many a grown man trusts to such contingencies ! In the 
City, { twenty-four hours to turn about in ' is often considered time 
enough for a total change of fortune. It might be added that, unless 
Margaret should turn traitress and reveal his secret (which was 
impossible) he had nothing to lose and everything to gain by his 
delay, but to do the young man justice that idea had not en- 
tered into his mind. Passion with the bit between her teeth had 
run away with him. 

As to precocity, it must be remembered that he lived in reck- 
less days when men did not wait as they do now till they were five- 
and -forty years of age to marry ; by that time, with enterprise and 
luck, many a gentleman was in the enjoyment of his third, or even 
his fourth honeymoon. 

Still William Henry was not unconscious that he had taken an 
audacious step, and felt a genuine sense of relief on finding that 
Mr. Samuel Erin had provided himself in that arm-chair with a 
relic and not a weapon. 

This invaluable acquisition which, when it was brought to 
London, was placed on a little elevation made on purpose for it in 
his study, with a brass plate at its foot (after the manner of chairs 
in our Madame Tussaud's) with the words ' Anne Hathaway's 
Chair ' upon it had the effect of putting its possessor into good 
humour for the remainder of his stay at Stratford, a circumstance 
which had the happiest results for those about him. William 
Henry, for his part, was in the seventh heaven. It is not only our 
virtues which have the power of bestowing happiness upon us 
at all events for a season. Shakespeare himself makes a striking 
observation on that matter in one of his sonnets ; having spoken 



196 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

plainly enough of certain errors, gallantries of which he has re- 
pented, he adds with an altogether unexpected frankness, 

' But, by all above, 
These blenches gave my heart another youth.' 

He does not put his tongue in his cheek at morality, far from 
it ; but he rolls the sweet morsel, the remembrance of forbidden 
pleasure, under his tongue. It is one of the mistakes that our 
divines fall into to deny to our little peccadilloes any pleasure at 
all, whereas the fact is that the blossom of them is often very fair 
and fragrant, though the fruit is full of ashes, and, like the 
goodly apple, rotten at the core. 

And thus it was with William Henry, who, without, indeed, 
having committed any great enormity, had certainly not been jus- 
tified in obtaining the loan of his cousin's love ; the consciousness 
of his temporary possession of it made a very happy man of him 
for a season. He made no ungenerous use of his advantage, he 
did not take an ell because he had gained an inch ; but he hugged 
himself in that new-found sense of security as one basks in the 
summer sunshine. Those days at Stratford were the happiest days 
of his life. Considering the means by which they were obtained 
one can hardly apply to them the usual phrase 4 a foretaste of 
heaven ; ' but they were happy days snatched from a life which was 
fated to hold few such. It was, perhaps, out of gratitude to him 
whose memory had helped him to this happiness, that the young 
man really began to take an interest in Shakespearean matters, and 
this again reacted to his advantage, since it gratified Mr. Erin, 
whose goodwill, difficult to gain by other means, was approached 
by that channel with extraordinary facility. 

In association with Mr. Jervis the young man ransacked the 
little town for mementos of its patron saint, and was fortunate 
enough to discover a few, which, though of doubtful authenticity, 
were very welcome to the enthusiastic collector. If they were not 
the rose, i.e. actual relics, they were near the rose, as proximity is 
counted in such cases. No doubt it is the same with more sacred 
relics in a deficiency of toe-nails of any particular saint it must 
be something, though not of course so rapturous, to secure a toe- 
nail of some saint in the next century. As regards Shakespeare, 
it is certainly one of the marvels in connection with that marvellous 
man that not a scrap of his handwriting, save his autograph, of 
one who wrote so much ever turns up to reward the pains of the 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 197 

searcher, nay, there is only one letter extant, even of those that 
were written to him a commonplace request for a loan from th e 
man who afterwards became his son-in-law ; under which circum- 
stances, when one comes to think about it, there may be some 
excuse for the language used by Mr. Samuel Erin to that reckless 
incendiary Mr. Williams, of Clopton House. 

If to be indifferent, as William Henry had been suspected of 
being, to the charms of Shakespeare was a crime in Mr. Erin's eyes, 
it may be easily imagined how he resented the least imputation of 
any portion of his idol having been composed of clay. There were 
circumstances connected with his union with Anne Hathaway, and 
also of that little adventure of his with Justice Shallow's deer, 
which were dangerous to allude to in Mr. Erin's presence, and if 
the moral qualities of his hero (albeit, we may have gathered, Mr. 
Erin was himself, though Protestant, by no means Puritan) could 
not in safety be called in question, any suggestion of weakness in 
him as a writer was still more unendurable. Nevertheless, even 
prudent Frank Dennis contrived to put his foot in it in this very 
matter, and thereby narrowly escaped falling out of Mr. Erin's good 
graces for the term of his natural life. It was during an expedi- 
tion to Charlecote ; the little party, having left their vehicle at 
the gate, were walking through the park, Mr. Erin wrapped in 
contemplation endeavouring perhaps to identify the very oak (in 
' As You Like It ') where the poor sequestered stag had ' come to 
languish'-- while the young people a few paces behind were 
indulging in a little quiet banter upon the forbidden subject of 
deer-stealing. 

' 1 suppose that he did steal that deer ? ' observed Margaret slily 
in a hushed whisper. 

6 There is not a doubt of it,' answered Frank, ' he had to fly 
from Stratford to London for that very reason, to get out of Sir 
Thomas's way.' 

4 Nay, nay,' put in William Henry, I am afraid with some 
slight imitation of his father's solemn manner when dealing 
with the sacred topic ; ' let us not say steal, it was what " the 
wise do call convey." We do a good deal of it in New Inn our- 
selves.' 

( Yonder are our " velvet friends," ' said Mr. Erin, pointing 
to a herd of deer in the distance. 

The allusion caused some trepidation in his companions, as 
chiming in only too opportunely with their late disloyal remarks, 



198 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

and it was much to their relief that Mr. Erin proceeded, as was his 
wont, to indulge himself in quotation. 

1 And indeed, my lord, 

The wretched animal heaved forth such groans 
That their discharge did stretch his leather coat 
Almost to bursting ; and the big round tears 
Coursed one another down his innocent nose 
In piteous chase.' 

< What a graphic picture ! " His innocent nose." Who but 
Shakespeare would have dared to write his innocent nose " ? ' 

< Very true, sir,' said William Henry gravely. " His innocent 

J5 > 



nose. 



Not a muscle of his face betrayed the drollery within him. 
He certainly possessed some tricks of the actor's trade. Margaret 
stooped to pluck a daisy, an action which sufficed to account for 
the colour rushing to her cheeks. Frank Dennis, whose wits 
were not of the nimble sort, fitted for such sudden emergency, felt 
he was about to suffocate. It seemed to him he had no alterna- 
tive between speech the act of saying something, no matter what 
and an explosion. 

< "With regard to deer shedding tears,' he observed, < I have a 
friend who is a great naturalist, who tells me, as a matter of fact, 
that they can't do it.' 

' Can't do what ? ' inquired Mr. Erin curtly. 

6 He says that from the peculiar formation of the ducts of the 

deer, or perhaps from the absence of them 1 know nothing 

about the matter myself, sir,' put in the unhappy Frank precipi- 
tately, for the antiquary was looking daggers at him. 

'You know quite as much about it as your friend, then,' 
thundered Mr. Erin. * Great Heavens ! that a man like him, or 
you, or anybody, should venture to pick a hole in one of the 
noblest descriptions of the language : to find faults in Shakespeare 
himself ! You remind me, sir, of the sacrilegious fellow in France, 
the other day, who gave it as his opinion that if he had been pre- 
sent at the Creation, he could have suggested improvements.' 

' But, indeed, sir, it was not my opinion.' 

4 It is quite as bad to quote those of infamous persons as to 
originate them yourself.' 

Mr. Frank Dennis had very little of the serpent in him, not 
even its prudence; his sense of justice was shocked by this out- 
rageous speech. 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 
But it is a mere question of fact and science- 



199 



' Science,' interrupted the other vehemently, * that is the 
argument of the Atheist against the Scriptures. Science, indeed ! 
what is science when compared with the genius of Shakespeare ? 




He told you, sir, that deer shed tears, and if they don't, why 
damn their eyes they ought to ! ' 

The argument was, at least, conclusive ; nothing more remained 
to be said, or was said. Mr. Erin stalked on like a turkey cock 
ruffled ; his idol had been insulted, and he felt that he had done 



200 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

well to be angry. Every deer he saw stimulated his wrath. < Con- 
found the fellow,' he murmured, as he passed the antlered herd, 
' it would serve him right if they tossed him.' It even crossed his 
mind perhaps that Margaret was right after all in receiving 
Dennis' attentions so coldly ; that he was certainly a very pig- 
headed young man. 

Frank Dennis, too, good-natured as he was, was not a little 
put out. For the moment he felt almost as disrespectful towards 
Shakespeare as Sydney Smith's friend was to the Equator ; but 
his eye fell on Margaret, and he put a bridle on his tongue. 

His sense of annoyance soon faded away, but with the anti- 
quary it was not so easily effaced. This incident was of consider- 
able advantage to William Henry and his little plan. In a company 
of three, when one of them has fallen out of our favour, one 
naturally rather ' cottons ' to the other, if it is only to show the 
offender what he has forfeited by his misconduct ; and from thence- 
forward Mr. Erin showed himself at least less severe towards the 
young man who bore his name. Nay, what was of more con- 
sequence, the symptoms he had exhibited of favouring Frank 
Dennis' pretensions to his niece's hand manifestly slackened ; he 
no longer troubled himself to throw the young people together. 
On the other hand, though of course with no idea that there was 
risk in it (for he both despised him and ' despised his youth '), he 
suffered William Henry and Margaret to ' foregather ' as much 
as they pleased. He still felt so resentful to Frank's sacrilegious 
ideas as respected the customs of deer when under emotion, that it 
was distasteful to him to be shut up with him as a companion, and 
in order to mitigate his society he took an inside place for William 
Henry (notwithstanding that, except in the matter of MSS. and 
first editions, he had a frugal mind) in the coach to town. 



CHAPTER VII. 

A COLLECTOR'S GRATITUDE. 



THE effects of a prolonged holiday upon the human mind are 
various. Like other things much < recommended by the faculty,' 
it does not suit everyone. It is, the opinion of an eminent 
physician of my acquaintance that little comes of it in the way of 
wholesomeness except sunburn ; and that when that wears off the 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 201 

supposed convalescent looks as he feels satiated and jaded. To 
William Henry, the conveyancer's clerk, that week or two at 
Stratford-on-Avon was what the long vacation is to many lawyers. 
He found a great difficulty in setting to .work again at his ordinary 
duties. His fellow clerk had left his employer's service, so that he 
had his room to himself a circumstance that became of much 
more importance than he had at that time any idea of but busi- 
ness was slack at Mr. Bingley's office. The young fellow had 
plenty of leisure, though among old mortgage deeds and titles to 
estates, it might be thought he had small opportunities of spending 
it pleasantly. Under ordinary circumstances this would not, how- 
ever, have been the case with him. He had been brought up in 
an atmosphere of antiquity ; the satisfaction expressed by his 
father at the acquisition of any ancient rarity had naturally im- 
pressed itself upon his mind ; the only occasions on which he had 
won his praise had been on his bringing home for his acceptance 
some old tract or pamphlet from a bookstall ; and in time he had 
learnt to have some appreciation of such things for their own sake, 
albeit, like some dealer in old china, without much reverence. His 
turn for poetry, such as it was, was due, perhaps, to the many old 
romances and poems in Mr. Erin's library rather than to any 
natural bent in that direction ; a circumstance, indeed, which was 
pretty evident from the young poet's style, for style is easy enough 
to catch, whereas ideas must come of themselves. His holiday 
had grievously unsettled him. He had brought back his dream 
with him, but, once more face to face with the facts of life, he per- 
ceived the many obstacles to its realisation. The only legitimate 
road to success that of daily duty would never lead thither ; 
but there might be a short cut to it through his father's favour. 
Hitherto he had sought this b}^ fits and starts to mitigate his own 
condition ; he now resolved to cultivate it unintermittingly, and at 
any sacrifice. 

He consequently devoted all his spare time (and 6 by our lady,' 
as his father would have said, also some of his employer's) to the 
discovery of some precious MS. Instead of the spectacled and 
weazened faces which they were wont to see poring over their old 
wares, the bookstall-keepers of the city began to be haunted by that 
of William Henry, eager and young. They could not understand 
what his bright eyes came to seek, and certainly never dreamed 
that it was love that had sent him there to my mind a very touch- 
ing episode, reminding one of the difficult and uncouth tasks to 



202 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



which true knights in the days of romance were put to, in order 
to show their worthiness to win those they wooed. The lady of 
his affections, however, was far from being sanguine of his success ; 
she could hardly fail to appreciate his exertions, but she refrained 
from encouraging them. < My dear Willie,' she said, < it is painful 
to me to see you occupied in a search so fruitless. It is only too 
probable that what you seek has absolutely no existence. ; It is 
like hunting for the elixir of life, or the secret of turning base 
metals into gold.' 

< But, my dear Maggie, some such literary treasure may exist,' 
he answered tenderly, and if I can discover it, what is the elixir 
of life to me will be found with it.' 

It was impossible to reason with a young man like this, and 
Margaret tried to comfort herself with the reflection that his 
madness had but five months more to run. But it was very, very 
difficult. Her life was now far from being a cheerful one. She 
was not so vain as to take pleasure in a wasted devotion, and she 
bitterly repented of the momentary weakness that had inclined 
her to feed its flame. 

The house in Norfolk Street was more frequented by the 
learned than ever. They came to discuss Mr. Erin's late visit 
to the Shakespearean shrine, just as faithful Moslems might come 
to interview some pious friend who had recently made his pil- 
grimage to Mecca. While they talked of relics and signatures her 
mind reverted to the sweet- smelling old garden at Shottery, with 
its settle outside the cottage door. Frank Dennis came as usual, 
and was made welcome by his host, if not quite with the same 
heartiness as of old. Not a word of love passed his lips, and he was 
even more reserved and silent than of yore ; but Margaret could 
not conceal from herself what he came for. Nay, his very reti- 
cence had a significance for her ; she had a suspicion that he had 
noticed some change of manner between herself and her cousin 
which for the present sealed his lips. When he had quite con- 
vinced himself that her heart was in another's keeping she felt 
that he would go away, and that place by the window, where he 
usually sat a little apart from the antiquarian circle, would know 
him no more. She pitied him as she pitied Willie, though in 
another way. She recognised in him some noble qualities- 
gentleness, modesty, a love of truth and justice, and a generosity 
of heart that extended even to a rival. If she had not known 
William Henry, it might have been possible to her, she sometimes 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 203 

thought, to have loved Frank Dennis. But this was only when 
the former was not present. At the end of the day, when her 
cousin came in fagged and dispirited and took his place at the 
supper table with little notice from any one, her whole soul seemed 
to go forth to meet him in her tender eyes. 

Matters thus continued for some weeks till, rather suddenly, a 
change took place in William Henry. In some respects it was 
not for the better ; the unrest which his features had hitherto 
displayed disappeared, and was succeeded by an earnest and 
almost painful gravity. Once only she had seen such an expres- 
sion on the face of a juggler in the street, one evening, who had 
thrown knives into the air and caught them as they fell. But with 
it there was a certain new-born hope. She recognised it in the 
looks he stole at her when he thought himself unobserved, and in 
his talk and manner to others, especially to Mr. Erin. They 
suggested confidence, or at least a purpose. That he said nothing 
of what he had in his mind to her was in itself significant. The 
conclusion she drew was that he was on the track of some dis- 
covery which might or might not prove of great importance. 
Poor fellow ! She had too often seen her uncle and his friends led 
by wildfire of this sort to the brink of disappointment to put 
much faith in it. They were old and used to failures, and with a 
little grunt of disappointment settled their wigs upon their fore- 
heads and started off again at a jog trot in search of another 
mare's nest. Whereas to Willie he was but seventeen Eepulse 
would seem like Euin. 

One evening it was a Saturday, on which day Mr. Erin was 
accustomed to entertain a few friends of his own way of thinking 
William Henry made his appearance later than usual. The 
guests had already sat down to table and were in full tide of talk, 
which was not in any way interrupted by his arrival. Margaret 
as usual cast a swift furtive glance at him, and at once perceived 
that something had happened. His face was pale, even paler 
than usual, but his eyes were very bright and restless ; a peculiar 
smile played about his mouth. He has found something ' was the 
thought that flashed at once across her mind. Even if he had, 
she felt it would not really alter matters, and would only tend to 
nourish false hopes. Her uncle's heart would never soften towards 
him in the way that he hoped for. A compelled expression of 
approbation, an unwilling tribute to his diligence and judgment, 
born of self-congratulation on the acquisition of some literary 



204 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

treasure, would be his reward at best, but still but still her 
heart went pit-a-pat. She knew that no good fortune of the ordi- 
nary kind could have happened to him. Mr. Bingley, though he 
liked the boy, could hardly have promised to make him his partner ; 
nor indeed, if he had, would it have mattered much, since his 
business was so small as to require but a single clerk. That he 
had found a publisher for his poems was not less unlikely, while the 
result of such a miracle would be of even less material advantage. 

Throughout the meal William Henry scarcely touched bit or 
sup ; his air, to the one observer of it, gave the impression of intense 
but suppressed excitement. 

It was the custom of Mr. Erin's company on Saturday nights 
to share after supper a bowl of punch between them, and for those 
who affected tobacco to light up their long clays. Both the 
drinking and smoking were of a very moderate kind, while of 
song-singing, very common at that date, there was none. There 
was only one toast, given by the host in reverent tones, < To the 
memory of the immortal Shakespeare,' and then they began to 
wrangle over disputed readings. On these occasions it was William 
Henry's habit to quietly withdraw and seek Margaret in the 
withdrawing-room. As often as not, Frank Dennis did the like, 
when he would petition for a tune on the harpsichord, a thing 
the other never did. Margaret's voice was music enough for him, 
especially in a tete-a-tete. But on this particular Saturday both 
young men remained with the rest, William Henry for a reason of 
his own, and Dennis out of courtesy to his host, who had promised 
to give his friends that night an antiquarian treat consisting of 
the exhibition of a rare tract he had recently acquired. It was 
entitled 'Stokes, the Vaulting Master,' and full of engraved 
plates, to the outsider as destitute of interest as dinner-plates 
with nothing on them, but to this little band of antiquarians as 
the meat ' of turtle to an alderman. If they didn't say grace 
afterwards it was because this precious gift had been vouchsafed 
to another and not to themselves ; they sighed and murmured 
to themselves that * Erin ought to be a happy man.' Having 
received their compliments with much complacency, their host, 
like an old man congratulated upon the possession of a young wife, 
locked the extract in his bookcase and put the key in his pocket, 
which was taken by the rest as a signal for departure. When 
they had all gone save Dennis, who, as a friend of the house, 
was always the last to go, William Henry drew from his breast- 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 205 

pocket a piece of parchment with two seals hanging from it on 
slips. 

4 1 think, sir, 5 said he modestly, < I have something rather 
curious to show you.' 

< Eh, what ? ' said Mr. Erin, knitting his brow in the depreciat- 
ing manner peculiar to the examiner of all curios before purchase, 
6 some old deed or another, I suppose.' 

Then he turned very white and eager, and sat down with the 
document spread out before him. It was a note of hand of the 
usual kind, though of ancient date, and dealing with a very small 
sum of money ; but if it had been a letter from a solicitor's office 
acquainting him with the fact that he had been bequeathed ten 
thousand pounds it could not have aroused in him greater interest 
and astonishment. 

It was as follows : ' One month from the date hereof I doe 
promyse to paye to my good and worthy friend John Hemynge 
the sum of five pounds and five shillings, English Moneye, as a re- 
compense for his great trouble in settling and doinge much for 
me at the Globe Theatre, as also for hys trouble in going down for 
me to Stratford. Witness my hand, 

' September the Nynth, 1589. < WILLIAM SHAKESPERE.' 

' Received of Master William Shakespeare the sum of five 
pounds and five shillings, good English Money, this Nynth day 
of October, 1589. ' JOHN HEMYNGE.' 

6 This is indeed a most marvellous discovery, William Henry,' 
said Mr. Erin, breaking a long silence, and regarding his son with 
a sort of devout amazement, such as might have been exhibited 
by some classic shepherd of old on finding the Tityrus he had been 
treating as a chawbacon was first cousin to Apollo. ' You are cer- 
tainly a most fortunate young man. Maggie,' for Maggie, learn- 
ing that the visitors had departed, had joined them, full of vague 
expectancy, 4 see what your cousin has brought home with him.' 

This appeal of Mr. Erin to his niece was significant in many 
ways. It would have been most natural in such a matter to have 
turned to Dennis, but for the moment he could not brook in- 
credulity, nor even a critical examination of the precious manu- 
script. Moreover, he had said, ' your cousin,' a relationship be- 
tween the two young people to which he had never before alluded. 
It was plain that within the last five minutes William Henry had 
come nearer to the old man's heart than he had been able to get 
in seventeen yearn. 



206 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

What followed was even still more expressive, for it took for 
granted an intimacy between his son and niece, which up to that 
moment he had studiously ignored. 

6 Did you know anything,' he added, < my girl, of this surprise 
which your cousin had in store for us ? ' 

6 1 knew that there was something, uncle, though not from 
his lips. That is/ she continued with a faint flush, < I felt for 
days that there has been something upon William Henry's mind, 
which I judged to be good news. Was it not so, Willie ? ' 

The young man bowed his head. The colour came into his 
face also. ' How she must have watched him, and how rightly 
she had read his thoughts ! ' was what he was saying to himself. 

Mr. Erin took no notice of either of them ; his mind had re- 
verted to the new-found treasure. 

< Look at it, Dennis,' he cried. ' The seals and paper are 
quite as they should be. I have no doubt of its being a genuine 
deed of the time. Then the signature there are only two others 
in all the world, but I do think just take this microscope (his 
own hand trembled so that he could scarcely hold it) there can 
be no mistake about it. It is without the " a," but it can be proved 
that he spelt it indifferently ; and again, the receipt has the " a," 
an inconsistency which, in the case of a forgery, would certainly 
not have been overlooked. There can be no doubt of its being a 
genuine signature, can there ?' 

' That is a matter on which you are infinitely better qualified 
to judge than I am, Mr. Erin,' was the cautious rejoinder. ' Per- 
haps you had better consult the autograph in Johnson and Stee- 
vens's edition.' 

4 Tush ! Do you suppose that I have not every stroke and turn 
of it in my mind's eye ? Reach down the book, Maggie.' 

Margaret, who knew where to lay her hand upon every book 
in her uncle's library, made haste to produce the volume. 

6 There, did not I tell you ?' said Mr. Erin triumphantly. < Look 
at the W 9 look at the S. 9 

Dennis did look at them very carefully. < Yes,' he admitted, 
< there is no doubt that they are facsimiles.' 

6 Facsimiles ! ' exclaimed the old man angrily ; < why not frankly 
say that they are by the same hand at once ?' 

' But that is begging the whole question,' argued Dennis, his 
honest and implastic nature leading him into the self-same error 
into which he had fallen at Charlecote Park. < It is surely more 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 207 

likely upon the whole that an autograph purporting to be Shake- 
speare's should be a facsimile than an original.' 

6 Or, in other words,' answered Mr. Erin, with a burst of indig- 
nation, ' it is more likely that this lad here, poor William Henry ' 
(the < poor' sounded almost like < poor dear '), should have imposed 
upon us than not.' 

* Oh no, oh no,' interposed Margaret, earnestly ; ' I am sure 
that Mr. Dennis never meant to suggest that.' 

* Then what the deuce did he mean by his facsimile ? ' ejacu- 
lated the antiquary with irritation. * Look at the up-strokes ; 
look at the down-strokes.' 

4 You have made an accusation against me, Mr. Erin,' said 
Frank Dennis, speaking under strong emotion, ' which is at once 
most cruel and undeserved. If I thought myself capable of doing 
an injury to William Henry, or especially of sowing any suspicion 
of him in your mind, I I would go and drown myself in the river 
yonder.' 

Mr. Erin only said, ' Umph,' in such a tone that it sounded 
like ' Then go and do it.' 

* How is it possible that in throwing any doubt upon the 
genuineness of that document,' continued the other, ' I should be 
imputing anything to its finder ? Nor, indeed, have I cast any 
doubt on it. I know nothing about it.' 

6 Then why offer an opinion ? ' put in the old man implacably. 

6 At all events, sir, I hazarded none as to how the thing came 
into William Henry's possession.' 

6 Tut, tut,' replied the antiquary, once more reverting to the 
precious document, < who cares how he got it ? The point is 
that we have it here ; not only Shakespeare's handwriting, but a 
most incontestible proof, to such as ever doubted it, of his honour 
and punctuality in discharge of his just debts. William Henry, I 
have been mistaken in you, my lad. I will honestly confess that 
I had built no such hopes upon you. When I lost my poor 
Samuel [a son that died in infancy], I never thought to be made 
happy by anything a boy could do again. This is the proudest 
moment of my life to have under my own roof, to see with my 
own eyes, to touch with my own fingers, the actual handwriting 
of William Shakespeare.' 

Then, with a sigh like one who returns to another something 
he fain would keep, as knowing far more how to value it, he folded 
up the document, and returned it to William Henry. 



208 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



< Nay, sir,' said the lad, gently breaking silence for the first 
time ' it 'is yours, not mine. My pleasure in acquiring it for, to 
say the truth, it cost me nothing would all be lost if you refused 

to accept it.' 

< What, as a gift ? No, my boy, that is impossible. I don t 
mean that you must take cash for it,' for William Henry looked 
both abashed and disturbed, < but something that will at least 
show you that I am not ungrateful.' 

For one wild instant the young man believed that, like a stage 
father, Mr. Erin was about to place Margaret's hand in his and 
dower 'them with his blessing, but he only walked to his bookcase, 
and took from the shelf, where it had just been reverently laid, 
< Stokes, the Vaulting Master,' and pushed it into his hands. 

' But, sir, you have not heard how I gained possession of the 
deed,' exclaimed the astonished recipient of this treasure. 

4 To-morrow, to-morrow,' answered the antiquary as he left the 
room with the document hugged to his heart ; < to-morrow will be 
time enough for details.' 

In his heart of hearts he feared lest there should be some flaw 
in the young man's story which might throw discredit upon the 
genuineness of his discovery: and, for that night at least, he 
wished to enjoy his acquisition without the shadow of a doubt. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

HOW TO GET RID OF A COMPANY. 

WHEN Mr. Erin had closed the door behind him there was silence 
among those he had left ; Dennis and Margaret naturally looked 
to W r illiam Henry for an explanation of so singular a scene, but he 
only turned over the leaves of ' Stokes, the Vaulting Master,' with 
an amused expression of countenance. 

' This reminds me,' he observed presently, * of what one of Mr. 
Bingley's female clients did the other day. She had a favourite 
cat, which one of her toadies used to extol in order to curry 
favour with her ; and when she died she left him that as being 
the richest legacy she could think of; her mere money went to 
a hospital.' 

Margaret gave him a look which seemed to reproach him for 
his frivolity, and Dennis remarked gravely enough, 'I do hope 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 209 

there is no mistake about that deed of yours, my lad ; for I am 
afraid it would be a terrible blow to your father.' 

6 Deed of mine ! ' exclaimed the young man indignantly. 4 How 
on earth can I tell whether it is genuine or not ? ' 

4 That is very true,' said Margaret, ' how can he ? We must 
hope for the best. Now tell us where you found it, Willie, and 
all about it.' 

Well, it's a queer story, I promise you, and I can only give you 
my word of honour for the truth of it,' 

6 1 should hope that would be enough,' said Margaret confidently. 

' It will be enough for you, Maggie,' said the young man 
quietly, ' but I am very doubtful whether it will be sufficient for 
others, since even to myself it would still seem like a dream save 
for the documentary evidence. If that is right, as Mr. Erin seems 
to think, all is right.' 

'And for that you are not responsible,' put in Margaret 
eagerly. 

' Just so ; I know no more about it being Shakespeare's genuine 
signature than you do. How the thing came into my hands was 
this way. You know the Horn Tavern in Fleet Street, Dennis ? ' 

' Well, of course. Did I not dine with you ten days ago 
there ? ' 

6 Nay ; let us be accurate throughout. I dined with you? said 
the young man smiling. c And that reminds me of what I had 
forgotten before ; it was on that very day that I first met my friend. 
Did you notice an old gentleman with a flaxen wig dining by him- 
self in the corner indeed, I know you did, for we remarked that 
it was rather early in the day for a man to be drinking port ? ' 

' I remember your making the observation,' answered Dennis ; 
' but I cannot recall the gentleman ; I did not notice him with any 
particularity.' 

6 Nor I. But it seems that he noticed me. I took my mid- 
day meal there the next day, and there he was again. We sat at 
adjoining tables and he entered into conversation with me. His 
manner was at first a little stiff and reticent, like that of an old 
bachelor who lives alone ; but something I said about Child's bank 
seemed to attract his attention. He was not aware that the 
accounts for the sale of Dunkirk had been found among their 
papers ; and seemed more astonished that I should know it. Again, 
it amazed him to find that I knew about Chaucer's having beaten 
the Franciscan Friar in Fleet Street. Being ignorant, of course, 
VOL. II. NO. 14, N. S. 10 



210 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



of the set of people I have been brought up amongst here, it 
doubtless astonished him that so young a man should take any 
interest in such matters. He said he was but an indifferent 
antiquary himself, from an incurable habit of indolence, which 
had grown upon him during years of seclusion, but that his 
tastes had at one time lain in that direction ; that he possessed 
a considerable collection of manuscripts bequeathed to him by a 
cousin, and that if I liked to look in upon him at his chambers, 
in the Temple, I might perhaps find something worthy of my 
attention. 

( Of course, I availed myself of this invitation. I found my friend 
in an unusually large set of chambers, but which had the appearance 
of great neglect. The rooms he occupied himself were well cared for 
enough, though he informed me that he saw no company ; but the 
others were used as lumber rooms. They were filled with old books, 
old armour, old manuscripts, piled up on the floor in the greatest con- 
fusion. There were heaps of law documents, relating to his own 
affairs, which had no better treatment. I suppose my new friend 
saw by the expression of my face that I thought him a very eccen- 
tric personage, for he suddenly observed, " I have taken a strong 
fancy to you, young gentleman, and I am not easily pleased ; but 
there is one thing which you must beware of if you want our friend- 
ship to continue. I cannot be troubled with questions. The man 
who left me all these things was worried to death by the curiosity 
of other people. ' Where did you get this ? How did that come 
into your hands ? ' and so on. There are some things here, my 
possession of which would be so envied by some people, that I 
should never have a moment's peace from their importunities. If 
you should come across any such treasure and should reveal the 
place where you found it, you and I part company. Let that be 
thoroughly understood between us." Of course I promised never 
to mention his name or address to anyone.' 

As William Henry paused a moment to take breath, ' That 
will be rather awkward,' observed Dennis gravely; 'of course, 
there was no help for it, but your inability to give a reference as 
to the discovery of the deeds will give rise to suspicion.' 

'Suspicion of what?' inquired Margaret with a flush on her 
cheek. 

' Of the authenticity of the document. I should rather have 
said would strengthen suspicion, for that there will be objectors 
to it is certain.' 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 211 

6 My cousin has nothing to do with them,' said Margaret ; * surely 
he is not personally answerable for the genuineness of the deed.' 

' Certainly not,' answered Dennis gently. 

' Pray go on, Willie,' said Margaret. It was plain that what 
Dennis had said had annoyed her in some way ; not only was he 
himself, however, quite unconscious of the cause of offence, but 
William Henry appeared equally in the dark. He glanced from 
one to the other with a puzzled look before he took up his tale. 

6 1 have paid several visits to the Templar, as I will call him, 
since then, and he has been most kind and hospitable. As my 
time is not my own and I can only occasionally leave the office, he 
has lent me a latch-key so that I may enter his chambers when I 
please, and pursue my researches. In order, as I believe, to re- 
move from me any unpleasant sense of obligation, he has asked 
me to catalogue his library for him ; which is, of course, a labour 
of love.' 

* Why, my good lad, it is evident the old gentleman intends to 
adopt you, and will make you his heir,' exclaimed Dennis. 

Though he spoke laughingly, Margaret thought to herself that 
such an event was by no means out of the range of possibility. 
Her cousin was certainly very attractive ; had excellent manners, 
and, as -it happened, the somewhat exceptional tastes that were 
most likely to recommend him to such a patron. Perhaps the 
future that Willie had proposed to her in the garden at Shottery 
might not turn out so wild a dream after all. 

6 1 think my new friend has done enough for me as it is,' said 
William Henry modestly. ' In turning over some deeds yesterday 
I found that document which I brought home to-night. Mr. 

, I mean the Templar was not at home, so that I had to 

wait till I could see him this afternoon. You may imagine what 
a twenty-four hours I passed.' 

' I noticed, as I told my uncle, that you had something on your 
mind,' said Margaret ; ' but that has been for some days. No 
doubt it was this making acquaintance with your new friend and 
the possibilities that might arise from it.' 

' No doubt. I confess I allowed myself to indulge in certain 
hopes,' returned the young man with a smile, but keeping his 
eyes fixed on the ground. 'What has happened, however always 
supposing that the document is genuine has been far beyond my 
expectations. When I met my patron and told him what I had 
found he was surprised enough, but by no means in that state of 

102 



212 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

elation which we have just seen in Mr. Erin ; the reason of which 
was, I am convinced, that he at once made up his mind to give 

me the thing. 

< It is very curious," he said. " My cousin always set great 
store by those old manuscripts, but I did not know there was 
anything among them so interesting as this. Perhaps you may 
find some more ; at all events, since but for you this discovery 
would certainly not have been made, or at least not in my lifetime, 
it is but fair that you should reap the benefit of it. This note of 
hand is yours." ' 

4 What a gracious gentleman ! ' exclaimed Margaret enthusias- 
tically. ' It was not as if he did not know the value of what he 
was giving away.' 

' Just so. I am afraid, though I begged him to reconsider the 
matter, that I was not very urgent that he should do so. I could 
not help picturing to myself how Mr. Erin would receive such a 
treasure, and how it might be the means ' here he hesitated a 
moment * of making myself more acceptable to him.' 

Dennis patted the lad on the shoulder approvingly. He 
understood that in his presence it was painful to the young fellow 
to allude to his father's habitually cold and unpaternal behaviour. 
What he did not understand was that William Henry should re- 
sent this friendly encouragement as being the manner of a mature 
man to a junior. 

Margaret for her part attributed her cousin's hesitation to 
another cause. She felt that if they had been alone together 
he would have ended that last sentence { how it might be the 
means of in a different way. 

4 In the end, of course,' continued William Henry, smiling, < I 
took what the gods had given me without much scruple, but even 
if nothing more should come of it, I hope I shall never forget the 
old gentleman's kindness.' 

Nothing under the circumstances could be more moderate or 
in better taste than the speaker's manner. Not only was there 
no exultation, such as might easily have been excused in a man so 
young, and, moreover, so unaccustomed to good fortune, but he 
seemed to have resolutely determined not to encourage himself in 
expectation ; and yet there was a confidence in his tone which to ' 
one at least of those who listened to him was very significant. If 
it is too much to say that pretty Margaret had repented of that 
promise given to her cousin at Anne Hathaway's cottage, she had 






THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 213 

certainly thought it very unhopeful ; or rather it would be more 
correct to say she had abstained from thinking of its possible 
results at all ; but that night she could not shut them cut from 
her dreams. 

Mr. Samuel Erin would probably have also had his dreams 
not less agreeable, though of quite another kind but unfortu- 
nately he never went to sleep. Like Belshazzar he beheld all night 
a writing on the wall, which, albeit it was not in modern cha- 
racters, needed in his case no interpreter. It was Shakespeare's 
autograph. It seemed to him to be inscribed everywhere, and, as 
though the secret of luminous paint had already been discovered, 
to shine miraculously out of the darkness. 

He came down to the morning meal with a face of unwonted 
paleness, but which, when it turned to William Henry, wore also 
an unwonted smile. He listened to his narration of how he 
became possessed of the deed with interest, but without much 
comment, and yet not a word did he say about the precious docu- 
ment itself. His silence, however, was well understood. There 
would that day be a gathering of his Shakespeare friends, who 
would decide upon its genuineness ; but in the meantime it was 
clear that he had a firm and cheerful faith in it such as men pray 
for so often in vain. For the first time for years he addressed his 
conversation almost wholly to his son, and even recalled events 
connected with the young man's childhood. On later matters 
perhaps it was scarcely safe to venture, lest memories of a less 
cheerful kind should be raked up with them. 

' Do you remember, my boy, the days when we were wont to 
spout Macbeth together, and how you had to hold up the paper- 
knife in your little hand and say, " Is this a dagger that I see 
before me?"' 

William Henry remembered them very well, and said so. It 
was curious enough that Shakespeare should be the one common 
ground they had discovered on which to meet on terms of amity. 

Then presently, ' Have you heard anything of young Talbot 
lately?' 

Talbot had been that schoolfellow of William Henry already 
spoken of, who was a poetaster like himself. More fortunate, 
however, in worldly circumstances, he had succeeded to a small 
estate in Ireland, where he lived, save when he occasionally came 
to London for a week or two for pleasure. On one occasion 
William Henry had ventured to bring the young man to Norfolk 



2U THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

Street, but lie had been received with such scant civility by the 
master of the house that the visit had not been repeated. That 
Mr. Erin should have given himself the trouble to recall his name 
spoke volumes of Shakespearean autograph. 

< Thank you, sir ; Talbot is to be in town for a few days at the 
Blue Bear in the Strand, I believe.' 

6 1 beg if you see him, then, that you will give him my compli- 
ments,' said Mr. Erin graciously. 

The transformation was quite magical. It was as though 
some humble wight dwelling in the shadow of King Bulcinoso's dis- 
pleasure had suddenly become first favourite, and, instead of re- 
ceiving buffets, had been given his Majesty's hand to kiss. 

Margaret had never liked her uncle so much as in this new 
character, and was indignant with her cousin that he did not 
respond to his father's kindness with more enthusiasm. 

< If he had behaved so to me, Willie, I should have met him 
half way,' she afterwards said reprovingly. 

6 Yes,' answered the young man gravely, ' because you would 
have known that he loved you for your own sake.' Then with 
a gentle sigh he added, ' Why don't you meet me half way, 
Maggie?' 

She did not indeed reply as he would have had her, but her 
tender glance betrayed that if she had not got half way, she was 
on the road to meet him. 

He went away to his work as usual, but by no means in his usual 
frame of mind. Nor were those he left behind him less moved 
by his late proceedings than himself. 

Before midday the parlour in Norfolk Street was the reception 
room of quite a throng of dilettanti, some summoned that very 
morning by Mr. Erin's special invitation. The new-found deed 
was handed round among these enthusiasts as a new-born babe, 
heir to millions, but about whom there are some doubts as to its 
legitimacy, might be received by a select circle of female gossips, 
while the proprietor, like a husband confident in his wife's fidelity, 
regards their investigations with a complacent smile. They ex- 
amined it tenderly but with great caution, through spectacles of 
every description, and in silence befitting so momentous an occa- 
sion ; yet by their countenances, lit by a certain < fearful joy,' it 
was easy to see that upon the whole they were satisfied nay 
glutted by the inspection. 

' Well, gentlemen ? ' inquired Mr. Erin with mock humility a 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



215 



mere pretence of submission to a possible adverse opinion. ( What 
say you, my dear Sir Frederick, what is your verdict ?' 

He had appealed to one Sir Frederick Eden, a Shakespearean 
critic of no mean distinction, and who, being the only titled per- 




mm 




son present, might naturally be considered as the foreman of the 



'It is my opinion, Mr. Erin,' replied that gentleman with 
great solemnity, ' that this most interesting document is valid.' 
A hushed murmur of corroboration and applause broke from 



216 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

the little throng. ' That is my view also,' said one ; < And mine,' 
6 And mine,' added other voices. 

If Mr. Erin had just been elected King of Great Britain and 
Ireland (with the Empire of India thrown in by anticipation), and 
was receiving the first act of allegiance from the representatives 
of the nation, he could not have looked more gratified and serene. 

< That is certainly the conclusion,' he observed with modesty, 
< which I myself have arrived at.' 

Then he told how William Henry had become possessed of 
the document, a narration which redoubled their interest and ex- 
citement. 

Sir,' said Sir Frederick with emotion, < I felicitate you on the 
possession of such a son.' 

There were reasons, as we know, which made this congratula- 
tion a mere matter of compliment, and, up to this time, by no 
means an acceptable one; but it was with no little pride and 
satisfaction that Mr. Erin now acknowledged it. 

< He is a good lad,' he said, ( a discreet and well-ordered lad ; 
and, of course, it is very gratifying to me that he has found favour 
in the eyes of this gentleman w T hoever he may be to whom we 
are indebted for this this manifestation.' 

It was a strange word to use, but, under the circumstances, 
not an inappropriate one. To Mr. Samuel Erin the occurrence in 
question seemed little less than a miracle, and William Henry the 
instrument through which it had been vouchsafed to his wonder- 
ing eyes. 

f What we have to consider,' he continued, dropping his voice 
in hushed solemnity, ' is that, in all probability, other papers con- 
nected with the immortal bard may be produced from the same 
source.' 

The company nodded their wigs in unison. It was as though 
in their mind's eye a dish of peaches had been placed on the table 
before them ; their very mouths watered. 

< There is one circumstance,' said Sir Frederick, who still held 
the document in his hands, rather to his host's discomfort, who 
well knew what temptation was, and had become anxious for the 
return of his property, ' which I think has hitherto escaped our 
notice : in examining the document we have neglected the seals. 
I have just discovered by close scrutiny that they represent that 
ancient game the quintin. Here is the upright beam, here is the 
bar, here is the bag.' 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 217 

The company crowded round, most of them with magnifying 
glasses, which gave them the appearance of beetles who, with pro- 
jecting eyes and solemn looks, investigate for the first time some 
new and promising article of food. 

4 At the top of the seal, if I am not mistaken,' continued Sir 
Frederick in pompous tones, and with the air of a man without 
whose intelligence a great discovery would have passed un- 
noticed, 'you will recognise the ring, to unhook which with his 
lance was the object of the tilter ; if he failed to accomplish it, 
the bar, moving swiftly on its pivot, swung round the bag, which, 
striking smartly on the tilter's back, was almost certain of un- 
horsing him.' 

' We see it it is here ; there is no doubt of it,' gasped the 
excited company. 

' Now, mark you, this is not only curious,' resumed the knight, 
' but corroborative of the genuineness of the document in a very 
high degree. Observe the very close analogy which this instru- 
ment bears to the name of Shake-spear. Is it not almost certain, 
therefore, that this seal belonged to our immortal bard, and was 
always used by him in his legal transactions ? ' 

6 Then rose the hushed amaze of hand and eye.' For some 
moments no voice broke the awful silence ; but presently, under 
deep emotion, Mr. Erin spoke. 

4 A revelation,' he said, ' always needs an expounder, and in 
our friend Sir Frederick we have found one. Thanks to your keen 
intelligence, sir, the value of this deed has been placed beyond all 
question.' 

6 1 am very glad to have been of some slight service to the 
cause of literary discovery,' returned Sir Frederick modestly. < Per- 
haps some other lights may strike me if you will allow me to take 
the document home with me.' 

* Indeed I will do nothing of the kind,' put in Mr. Erin preci- 
pitately ; ' not, of course, my dear friend, that I have the least 
doubt of your good faith,' he added in gentler tones, < but in justice 
to my son unhappily absent, and to whom it belongs I can 
hardly suffer the deed to leave my custody. Perhaps at another 
time ' for his friend was looking anything but pleased fi your 
request shall be complied with, but at present it must be here 
for the satisfaction of doubters. Such a person, I have reason to 
believe, is among us even now.' 

A murmur of indignation arose from all sides. They cast at 



218 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

one another such furious glances as the Thracian nymphs may 
have done before tearing Orpheus to pieces. 

4 Yes, Mr. Dennis,' continued the host sarcastically, addressing 
the unhappy Frank, who had hitherto remained unnoticed and 
quiescent, < I have reason to believe from the expression of your 
features, when I connect it with certain remarks that fell from 
you in Shottery Park the other day, that you are our only sceptic.' 

If to an assembly of divines in Convocation ' the Infidel,' so 
often alluded to in the abstract in their discourses from the pulpit, 
had been suddenly presented to them in the concrete, they could not 
have looked at him with a greater horror than that with which the 
company regarded the young man thus thrust upon their attention. 

< Indeed, indeed, Mr. Erin,' pleaded Dennis, 'I have never 
uttered a syllable that could be construed, or even perverted, into 
doubt/ 

( One may look daggers and yet speak none,' returned Mr. 
Erin with severity (and that he should thus venture to misquote 
his favourite bard showed even more than his tone the perturba- 
tion of his mind). ' The document, however, will be left here 
here,' he repeated significantly, 'for your private scrutiny and 
investigation ; I only trust that you may find cause to withdraw 
your aspersions, groundless in themselves, as they are disparaging 
to my dear son William Henry, and offensive to this respectable and 
learned company, about, as I see with regret, to take their leave.' 

If Mr. Erin had suddenly seized a hammer and smote him on 
the forehead, Mr. Dennis could hardly have been more astonished 
than at this gratuitous onslaught. He resolved to wait till the 
company had dispersed, which, at that broad hint received from 
its host, it proceeded to do, and then demand an explanation. 

Mr. Erin, however, anticipated him. I was somewhat more 
vehement, Dennis,' he said, < in the remarks that I addressed to 
you just now than the occasion demanded ; but the fact is, some 
sort of diversion was imperatively demanded. My friends, I saw, 
were getting turbulent ; the discovery of the quintin on the seal 
was too much for them, already excited as they were by the exhi- 
bition of this extraordinary document. Sir Frederick in particular, 
under circumstances of such extreme temptation, I knew to be 
capable of any outrage. I made you I confess it the scapegoat, 
by means of which the safety of the precious manuscript has been 
secured. In compensation, take it and look at it as long as you 
like. What I said about your incredulity, though somewhat justi- 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 219 

iied by the past, you mast admit, was in the main but a pious 
fraud. Like any man of intelligence, you cannot but revere the 
document. It is yours, say, for the next five minutes. Then it 
goes into my iron case, for " Who shall be true to us," as he whose 
honoured name lies there before you, in his own handwriting, has 
observed, " if we be unsecret to ourselves ? " : 



CHAPTER IX. 

AN UNWELCOME VISITOR. 

ALTHOUGH it may be very true that kings can affect but little the 
happiness of their subjects, the petty kings of every household 
from Paterfamilias the First down to his latest descendants have 
a very important influence in that way. The difference which a 
morose or cheerful parent makes in the lives of those beneath their 
roof is incalculable. In the one case the atmosphere of existence 
is all cloud, in the other, all sunshine. It must be confessed that 
up to this period the Jupiter of the little household in Norfolk 
Street had been something of a Jupiter Pluvius. There were 
storms, there were tears ; and even when it was not so, the 
domestic sky was sullen. From the date of the discovery however 
of that note of hand, from William Shakespeare to John Hemynge, 
the weather cleared. Moreover, matters looked all the brighter by 
contrast. It is one of the many advantages that selfish persons 
of strong will possess, that when they do condescend to be genial, 
people are prone to believe that they always were so, or at all 
events that they have misjudged them in setting them down as 
churlish. 

So in the orient, when the gracious light 
Lifts up his long-hid head, each under eye 
Doth homage to this new appearing sight, 

And mortal looks adore his majesty. 

Mr. Erin's domestics began to acknowledge that their master was 
not half a bad fellow ; and his niece, to whom, however, it is but 
fair to say, he had always been kind, was quite triumphant over his 
new-found good nature. Now, W 7 illie, did I not always tell you 
so ? ' &c., while Frank Dennis had reason to believe that he had 
at last been quite forgiven his heretical doubts as to whether deer 
could shed tears as easily as their antlers. 

As to William Henry himself, the strides he had made in Mr. 



220 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

Erin's favour, thanks to that 'find' of his in the 'Templar's' 
chambers, was something magical, as if he had got seven-league 
boots on. His father even called him Samuel, as though he were 
verily and indeed that son he had lost with all the hopes that 
were wrapped up in him. It must be confessed, however, that 
this may have been partly owing to the birth of new hopes; 
William Henry, indeed, though he had twice visited his friend 
in the Temple since that one momentous occasion, had found 
nothing new or rather very old there ; but on the other hand, 
what Mr. Erin justly thought a great piece of good fortune, and 
one that showed promise of much more, had befallen him. On 
looking over his patron's papers he came across a deed of no great 
antiquity in truth, but which to that gentleman himself was 
especially valuable, since it established his right to a certain 
property that had long been the subject of litigation. For this, 
something was certainly due to the young man himself, since, but 
for his legal learning and knowledge of the nature of the document, 
he might easily have passed it over as being of no importance. It 
was, therefore, not so very surprising that the old gentleman in a 
sudden glow of gratitude, for which his mind, from its natural 
leaning towards the young fellow was, as it were, ' ready laid,' had 
given him a promise that whatever he might henceforth discover 
among his papers of general interest, should by way of recom- 
pense for the service he had rendered him, become his own. 

Grladly as William Henry himself doubtless received this mark 
of his patron's favour, his joy could hardly have exceeded that of 
Mr. Erin when the news was communicated to him. It must needs 
be confessed, however, that his gratitude was not wholly disso- 
ciated from a sense of favours to come. 

' Why, my dear lad,' he cried, ' this note of hand of Shake- 
speare's, priceless as it is, may be yet outdone by what remains to 
be discovered. In this strange treasure-trove of which you speak, 
of the contents of which, both as to their nature and value, their 
owner seems to be wholly ignorant, there may be, for all we know, 
whole letters in Shakespeare's handwriting, copies of his plays, 
a sonnet or two, possibly even the skeleton of some play which he 
never filled in with flesh-and-blood characters, the hint of some 
divine tragedy gracious Goodness ! ' and Mr. Erin threw up his 
hands in speechless ecstasy as though a glimpse of Heaven had 
been vouchsafed to him of which it was not lawful for him to dis- 
course further. 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 221 

4 Of course it is possible, sir,' returned William Henry gravely. 
* But for my part I dare not trust myself to think of what may 
be lying in yonder lumber rooms. Just now, indeed, I am giving 
my attention solely to my patron's library, arranging the book- 
shelves and making out the catalogue. After his generous promise 
I purposely forego the pleasure of investigation lest I should be 
considered grasping.' 

4 Fire ! ' interrupted the old man suddenly with tremulous 
anxiety. ' Think of fire ! You know what happened at Clopton 
House ; and though of course your patron would never wilfully 
destroy a scrap of paper with any antiquity about it, yet who can 
guard against accident carelessness ? One spark from a candle 
and the world may be robbed of we know not what. Oh, my dear 
lad, for the world's sake, if not for mine, I pray you lose no time. 
Never mind your work ; I'll settle all that with Bingley. Stick 
to the lumber-room I mean the precious manuscripts. 

Dull not device by coldness and delay.' 

The eagerness of the old man was in its intensity quite touch- 
ing. No lover entreating his mistress for the momentous mono- 
syllable could have been more earnest, or even more passionate. 
William Henry himself, who, throughout the late stirring incidents, 
which promised to affect his future so nearly, had kept himself 
studiously calm and quiet, was deeply moved. 

' I will do my best, sir,' he replied in agitated tones ; c nothing 
pleases me better than to give you pleasure.' 

' That is well said,' returned the old man graciously. Margaret 
looked on with approving eyes. Supposing even what the young 
man had so rashly set his heart on should bear no fruit if his 
dream should not be realised it was surely well that such friendly 
relations should be established between him and the man who, 
if not his own flesh and blood, was his natural protector. It was 
very satisfactory also to see that Willie was responding to Mr. 
Erin's overtures of good will. 

As to these last there could be no doubt as to her uncle's change 
of front towards her cousin (to whom indeed he had hitherto 
shown no front at all, but had turned his back upon him) ; and 
that very evening there was another proof of it. As the three were 
sitting down to supper, William Henry noticed that the table was 
laid for four. Under ordinary circumstances he would have taken 
it for granted that Dennis was coming, but he knew that the 



222 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



architect was out of town on business. He was not yet on such 
intimate terms with the master of the house as to inquire who 
was the expected guest, and supposed him to be one of the 
Shakespearean literati who were now dropping in at all times. 

Presently there was a knock at the door, whereat Margaret 
looked at her uncle with a significant smile, and her uncle looked 
at William Henry. 

( I have got a pleasant surprise for you, my lad,' he said gaily. 
' Some time ago indeed it was before Maggie came to live with 

us you had a friend whose companionship I thought was doing 

you no good, and I gave him the cold shoulder. It is never too 
late to own oneself in the wrong ; he certainly did you no harm 
and perhaps intended none. It is only natural that you should 
have friends of your own age, and that they should be made 
welcome in your father's house ; so, as you told me he was in town, 
I sent round a note to him to ask him to drop in to-night to 
supper.' 

Before William Henry could reply, the door opened and the 
servant announced Mr. Keginald Talbot. 

The new-comer was a fresh-complexioned young gentleman of 
about eighteen or so, rather clumsily built for his age, with long, 
reddish-brown hair and bold eyes. They did not look at all like 
near-sighted eyes, but he wore round his neck what was then 
called a quizzing-glass, held by the hand, through which he now 
surveyed the present company. His attire, if not more fashion- 
able than Mr. Erin's guests were wont to wear, showed a much 
greater taste for colours. His waistcoat was heavily laced, and 
the buckles on his shoes, if, as was probable, they were not made 
of real diamonds, shone by candlelight as though they had been. 

' It is very kind of you, Mr. Erin,' he said, ' 'pon honour, to let 
me drop in in this way. If I had known that there were ladies 
present ' here he glanced at Margaret and bowed like a dancing- 
master * I would have put on more suitable apparel.' 

' Pooh, pooh ! you're smart enough,' said Mr. Erin in a tone in 
which contempt and politeness struggled ludicrously for the upper 
hand. < This is only my niece, Margaret Slade ; there's your old 
friend, William Henry. Didn't I say, my lad 'here he turned 
to his son and clapped him on the shoulder < that I had got a 
surprise for you?' 

Of course Mr. Erin had meant it well, just as he had done 
when he had made him that priceless present of < Stokes, the 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 223 

Vaulting Master,' but, as in that case, it would have seemed to a 
close observer that he had not exactly hit upon the meed of merit 
most to William Henry's fancy. That young gentleman shook 
hands indeed with the new-comer cordially enough, but, whether 
from surprise or some other cause, could at first find no better 
topic to converse upon than the weather. 

6 1 suppose,' he said, * you have not been having much more 
sun where you have come from than we have had.' 

< Sun ! ' echoed the other drily. ' I suppose there is not much 
difference in the weather of Norfolk Street and that of the Strand. 
I have been in London, as I wrote to you I should be, these ten 
days, and not a hundred yards away, if you had cared to cdme and 
see me.' 

* I didn't understand that from your letter,' stammered William 
Henry. < I thought ' 

* I think I can explain this matter, Mr. Talbot,' interposed 
Mr. Erin ; 4 satisfactorily as far as William Henry is concerned, if 
somewhat to my own disadvantage. Under a misconception which 
it is unnecessary to explain, I had tacitly forbidden my son to visit 
you. I am sorry for it. I hope you will now make up for it by 
seeing a good deal of one another while you remain in town.' 

' You're very good, I'm sure,' said Talbot. He looked from 
father to son in a vague and puzzled way, and then he looked at 
Margaret through his spyglass. The young lady, annoyed to be so 
surveyed, cast down her eyes, and Mr. Erin, with some revival of 
his old caustic tone, inquired, * Do you propose to deprive your 
friends at home of your society for any length of time ? ' 

c A week or two, perhaps more,' returned the other, without a 
shade of annoyance ; he had evidently taken his host's remark au 
serieux. ' I am come up on business of my own,' he added grandly ; 
' for as to old Docket, though my articles are not yet run out, I 
treat him as I please.' 

6 You are in the fortunate position of having a competence of 
your own, I conclude.' 

' Well, yes ; that is, I come into it on my majority. Some- 
thing in land and also in hand. I shall then leave the law and 
pursue the profession of a man of letters.' 

' Heaven deliver us ! ' ejaculated Mr. Erin. 

' Sir ? ' exclaimed the visitor. 

4 And make us thankful for all its mercies,' added his host, 
bending over his plate. 



224 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

6 1 beg pardon ; grace,' muttered Mr. Talbot, growing red to 
the roots of his hair. 

Margaret reddened too, for it was not usual with her uncle 
to say grace ; and William Henry reddened also with suppressed 
laughter. He had not given his father credit for so much dexterity. 

< And now I daresay, William Henry, you would like a talk with 
your old friend in your own room,' observed Mr. Erin ; you must 
make Mr. Talbot quite at home here.' 

The young gentleman looked as if he would quite as soon have 
remained in the society of Miss Margaret, who had obviously 
attracted his admiration, while William Henry could hardly re- 
press a groan. But so broad a hint could scarcely be ignored, 
and the two young men retreated together accordingly. 

'I hope William Henry is pleased, my dear,' said the old 
gentleman, when he found himself alone with his niece. ' He 
cannot say that I have not made some little sacrifice. But why 
had he not been to see this fellow I gave him leave.' 

' Nay, sir, you did not give him leave implicitly ; you said that 
if he met Mr. Talbot he was to give him your compliments. Willie 
is always so very particular not to overstep your permission in any 
way.' 

Mr. Erin muttered an articulate sound such as a bumble-bee 
makes when imprisoned between two panes of glass. It was not 
exactly < hum,' but it resembled it. William Henry was now all 
that he could wish him to be, but there had been occasions though 
to be sure there was no need to think of them when he had 
not been so very careful to obey the paternal commands. 

6 Well, I hope he appreciates my little surprise,' he murmured ; 
' " a man of letters," forsooth ! Never, never, was I so pestered 
by a popinjay.' 

(To "be continued.) 



THE 



COKNHILL MAGAZINE 



SEPTEMBER, 1884. 



THE CURATE OF CHURN SIDE. 



I. 

ALTER DENE, 

deacon, in his 
faultless clerical 
coat and broad 
felt hat, strolled 
along slowly, sun- 
ning himself as he 
went, after his 
wont, down the 
pretty central lane 
of West Churn- 
side. It was just 
the idyllic village 
best suited to the 
taste of such an 

idyllic young curate as Walter Dene. There were cottages with 
low-thatched roofs, thickly overgrown with yellow stonecrop and 
pink houseleek ; there were trellis-work porches up which the 
scented dog-rose and the fainter honeysuckle clambered together 
in sisterly rivalry ; there were pargeted gable-ends of Elizabethan 
farmhouses, quaintly varied with black oak joists and moulded 
plaster panels. At the end of an avenue of ancient elm-trees, 
the heavy square tower of the old church closed in the little vista 
a church with a round Norman doorway and dog-tooth arches, 
melting into Early English lancets in the aisle, and finishing up 
VOL. in, NO. 15, N. s. 11 




226 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

with a great Decorated east window by the broken cross and 
yew-tree. Not a trace of Perpendicularity about it anywhere 
< If it were Perpendicular,' said Walter Dene to himself often, 
6 1 really think, in spite of my uncle, I should have to look out 
for another curacy.' 

Yes, it was a charming village, and a charming country ; but, 
above all, it was rendered habitable and pleasurable for a man of 
taste by the informing presence of Christina Eliot. * I don't think 
I shall propose to Christina this week after all,' thought Walter 
Dene as he strolled along lazily. The most delightful part of 
love-making is certainly its first beginning. The little tremor of 
hope and expectation ; the half-needless doubt you feel as to 
whether she really loves you ; the pains you take to pierce the 
thin veil of maidenly reserve ; the triumph of detecting her in a 
blush or a flutter when she sees you coming all these are deli- 
cate little morsels to be rolled daintily on the critical palate, and 
not to be swallowed down coarsely at one vulgar gulp. Poor child, 
she is on tenter-hooks of hesitation and expectancy all the time, I 
know ; for I'm sure she loves me now, I'm sure she loves me ; but 
I must wait a week yet : she will be grateful to me for it here- 
after. We must not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs ; we 
must not eat up all our capital at one extravagant feast, and then 
lament the want of our interest ever afterward. Let us live 
another week in our first fool's paradise before we enter on the 
safer but less tremulous pleasures of sure possession. We can 
enjoy first love but once in a lifetime ; let us enjoy it now while 
we can, and not fling away the chance prematurely by mere 
childish precipitancy.' Thinking which thing, Walter Dene 
halted a moment by the churchyard wall, picked a long spray of 
scented wild thyme from a mossy cranny, and gazed into the blue 
sky above at the graceful swifts who nested in the old tower, as 
they curved and circled through the yielding air on their evenly 
poised and powerful pinions. 

Just at that moment old Mary Long came out of her cottage to 
speak with the young parson. < If ye plaze, Maister Dene,' she said 
in her native west country dialect, 4 our Nully would like to zee 'ee. 
She's main ill to-day, zur, and she belike to die a'most, Fin thinking/ 

' Poor child, poor child,' said Walter Dene tenderly. < She's a 
dear little thing, Mrs. Long, is your Nellie, and I hope she may 
yet be spared to you. I'll come and see her at once, and try if I 
can do anything to ease her,' 






THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 227 

He crossed the road compassionately with the tottering old 
grandmother, giving her his helping hand over the kerbstone, 
and following her with bated breath into the close little sick- 
room. Then he flung open the tiny casement with its diamond- 
leaded panes, so as to let in the fresh summer air, and picked a 
few sprigs of sweet-briar from the porch, which he joined with the 
geranium from his own button-hole to make a tiny nosegay for 
the sick girl. After that, he sat and talked awhile gently in an 
undertone to pale, pretty little Nellie herself, and went away at 
last promising to send her some jelly and some soup from the 
vicarage kitchen. 

* She's a sweet little child,' he said to himself musingly, 
4 though I'm afraid she's not long for this world now ; and the 
poor like these small attentions dearly. They get them seldom, 
and value them for the sake of the thought fulness they imply, 
rather than for the sake of the mere things themselves. I can 
order a bottle of calf s-foot at the grocer's, and Carter can set it in 
a mould without any trouble ; while as for the soup, some tinned 
mock-turtle and a little fresh stock makes a really capital mixture 
for this sort of thing. It costs so little to give these poor souls 
pleasure, and it is a great luxury to oneself undeniably. But, 
after all, what a funny trade it is to set an educated man to do ! 
They send us up to Oxford or Cambridge, give us a distinct taste 
for ^Eschylus and Catullus, Dante and Milton, Mendelssohn 
and Chopin, good claret and olives farcies, and then bring us 
down to a country village, to look after the bodily and spiritual 
ailments of rheumatic old washerwomen ! If it were not for 
poetry, flowers, and Christina, I really think I should succumb 
entirely.' 

' He's a dear, good man, that he is, is young passon,' mur- 
mured old Mary Long as Walter disappeared between the elm- 
trees ; ' and he do love the poor and the zick, the same as if he 
was their own brother. Grod bless his zoul, the dear, good vulla, 
vor all his kindness to our Nully.' 

Halfway down the main lane Walter came across Christina 
Eliot. As she saw him she smiled and coloured a little, and held 
out her small gloved hand prettily. Walter took it with a certain 
courtly and graceful chivalry. . < An exquisite day, Miss Eliot,' he 
said ; < such a depth of sapphire in the sky, such a faint undertone 
of green on the clouds by the horizon, such a lovely humming of 
bees over the flickering hot meadows ! On days like this, one 

112 



228 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

feels that Schopenhauer is wrong after all, and that life is some- 
times really worth living.' 

< It seems to me often worth living,' Christina answered ; if 
not for oneself, at least for others. But you pretend to be more 
of a pessimist than you really are, I fancy, Mr. Dene. Any one 
who finds so much beauty in the world as you do can hardly think 
life poor or meagre. You seem to catch the loveliest points in 
everything you look at, and to throw a little literary or artistic 
reflection over them which makes them even lovelier than they 
are in themselves.' 

' Well, no doubt one can increase one's possibilities of enjoy- 
ment by carefully cultivating one's own faculties of admiration 
and appreciation,' said the curate thoughtfully ; ' but, after all, 
life has only a few chapters that are thoroughly interesting and 
enthralling in all its history. We ought not to hurry over them 
too lightly, Miss Eliot ; we ought to linger on them lovingly, and 
make the most of their potentialities ; we ought to dwell upon 
them like " linked sweetness long drawn out." It is the mistake 
of the world at large to hurry too rapidly over the pleasantest epi- 
sodes, just as children pick all the plums at once out of the 
pudding. I often think that, from the purely selfish and temporal 
point of view, the real value of a life to its subject may be measured 
by the space of time over which he has managed to spread the 
enjoyment of its greatest pleasures. Look, for example, at poetry, 
now.' 

A faint shade of disappointment passed across Christina's face 
as he turned from what seemed another groove into that com- 
paratively indifferent subject; but she answered at once, 'Yes, 
of course one feels that with the higher pleasures at least ; but 
there are others in which the interest of plot is greater, and 
then one looks naturally rather to the end. When you begin a 
good novel, you can't help hurrying through it in order to find 
out what becomes of everybody at last.' 

' Ah, but the highest artistic interest goes beyond mere plot- 
interest. I like rather to read for the pleasure of reading, and to 
loiter over the passages that please me, but irrespective of what 
goes before or what comes after ; just as you, for your part, like 
to sketch a beautiful scene for its own worth to you, irrespective 
of what may happen to the leaves in autumn, or to the cottage 
roof in twenty years from this. By the way, have you finished 
that little water-colour of the hill yet ? It is the prettiest thing 



THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 229 

of yours I have ever seen, and I want to look how you have 
managed the light on your foreground.' 

< Come in and see it,' said Christina. < It's finished now, and, 
to tell you the truth, I am very well pleased with it myself.' 

< Then I know it must be good,' the curate answered ; < for 
vou are always your own harshest critic.' And he turned in at the 




little gate with her, and entered the village doctor's tiny drawing- 
room. 

Christina placed the sketch on an easel near the window a 
low window opening to the ground, and with long lithe festoons 
of faint-scented jasmine encroaching on it from outside and let 
"the light fall on it aslant in the right direction. It was a pretty 
and a clever sketch certainly, with more than a mere amateur's 
sense of form and colour ; and Walter Dene, who had a true eye 
for pictures, could conscientiously praise it for its artistic depth 
and fulness. Indeed, on that head at least, Walter Dene's veracity 



230 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 



was unimpeachable, however lax in other matters; nothing on 
earth would have induced him to praise as good a picture or a 
sculpture in which he saw no real merit. He sat a little while 
criticising and discussing it, suggesting an improvement here or 
an alteration there, and then he rose hurriedly, remembering all 
at once his forgotten promise to little Nellie. ' Dear me,' he said, 
6 your daughter's picture has almost made me overlook my proper 
duties, Mrs. Eliot. I promised to send some jelly and things at 
once to poor little Nellie Long at her grandmother's. How very 
wrong of me to let my natural inclinations keep me loitering here, 
when I ought to have been thinking of the poor of my parish ! ' 
And he went out with just a gentle pressure on Christina's hand, 
and a look from his eyes that her heart knew how to read aright 
at the first glance of it. 

* Do you know, Christie,' said her father, < I sometimes fancy 
when I hear that new parson fellow talk about his artistic feelings, 
and so on, that he's just a trifle selfish, or at least self-centred. He 
always dwells so much on his own enjoyment of things, you know.' 
< Oh no, papa,' cried Christina warmly. * He's anything but 
selfish, I'm sure. Look how kind he is to all the poor in the 
village, and how much he thinks about their comfort and welfare. 
And whenever he's talking with one, he seems so anxious to make 
you feel happy and contented with oneself. He has a sort of little 
subtle flattery of manner about him that is all pure kindliness ; 
and he is always thinking what he can say or do to please you, and 
to help you onward. What you say about his dwelling on enjoy- 
ments so much is really only his artistic sensibility. ' He feels things 
so keenly, and enjoys beauty so deeply, that he can't help talking 
enthusiastically about it even a little out of season. He has more 
feelings to display than most men, and I'm sure that's the reason 
why he displays them so much. A ploughboy could only talk 
enthusiastically about roast beef and dumplings ; Mr. Dene can 
talk about everything that is beautiful and sublime on earth or in 
heaven.' 

Meanwhile, Walter Dene was walking quickly with his mea- 
sured tread the even, regular tread of a cultivated gentleman 
down the lane toward the village grocer's, saying to himself as he 
went, < There was never such a girl in all the world as my Chris- 
tina. She may be only a country surgeon's daughter a rosebud 
on a hedgerow bush but she has the soul and the eye of a queen 
among women for all that. Every lover has deceived himself with 






THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 231 

the same sweet dream, to be sure how over-analytic we have 
become nowadays, when I must needs half argue myself out of the 
sweets of first love ! but then they had not so much to go upon 
as I have. She has a wonderful touch in music, she has an ex- 
quisite eye in painting, she has an Italian charm in manner and 
conversation. I am something of a connoisseur, after all, and no 
more likely to be deceived in a woman than I am in a wine or a 
picture. And next week I shall really propose formally to Chris- 
tina, though I know by this time it will be nothing more than the 
merest formality. Her eyes are too eloquent not to have told me 
that long ago. It will be a delightful pleasure to live for her, and 
in order to make her happy. I frankly recognise that I am naturally 
a little selfish not coarsely and vulgarly selfish ; from that dis- 
gusting and piggish vice I may conscientiously congratulate 
myself that I am fairly free ; but still selfish in a refined and 
cultivated manner. Now, living with Christina and for Christina 
will correct this defect in my nature, will tend to bring me nearer 
to a true standard of perfection. When I am by her side, and then 
only, I feel that I am thinking entirely of her, and not at all of 
myself. To her I show my best side ; with her, that best side 
would be always uppermost. The companionship of such a woman 
makes life something purer, and higher, and better worth having. 
The one thing that stands in our way is this horrid practical 
question of what to live upon. I don't suppose Uncle Arthur will 
be inclined to allow me anything, and I can't marry on my own 
paltry income and my curacy only. Yet I can't bear to keep 
Christina waiting indefinitely till some thick-headed squire or 
other chooses to take it into his opaque brain to give me a decent 
living.' 

From the grocer's the curate talked on, carrying the two tins 
in his hand, as far as the vicarage. He went into the library, sat 
down by his own desk, and rang the bell. < Will you be kind 
enough to give those things to Carter, John ? ' he said in his bland 
voice ; 'and tell her to put the jelly in a mould, and let it set. 
The soup must be warmed with a little fresh stock, and seasoned. 
Then take them both to old Mary Long the washerwoman, for 
her grandchild. Is my uncle in ? ' 

4 No, Master Walter,' answered the man he was always 
6 Master Walter ' to the old servants at his uncle's ' the vicar 
have gone over by train to Churminster. He told me to tell you 
he wouldn't be back till evening, after dinner.' 



232 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

' Did you see him off, John ? ' 

6 Yes, Master Walter. I took his portmanteau to the station.' 

< This will be a good chance, then,' thought Walter Dene to 
himself. < Very well, John,' he went on aloud ; ' I shall write my 
sermon now. Don't let anybody come to disturb me.' 

John nodded and withdrew. Walter Dene locked the door 
after him carefully, as he often did when writing sermons, and 
then lit a cigar, which was also a not infrequent concomitant of 
his exegetical labours. After that he walked once or twice up and 
down the room, paused a moment to look at his parchment- 
covered Kabelais and Villon on the bookshelf, peered out of 
the dulled glass windows with the crest in their centre, and finally 
drew a curious bent iron instrument out of his waistcoat pocket. 
With it in his hands, he went up quietly to his uncle's desk, and 
began fumbling at the lock in an experienced manner. As a 
matter of fact, it was not his first trial of skill in lock-picking ; for 
Walter Dene was a painstaking and methodical man, and, having 
made up his mind that he would get at and read his uncle's will, 
he took good care to begin by fastening all the drawers in his own 
bedroom, and trying his prentice hand at unfastening them again 
in the solitude of his chamber. 

After half a minute's twisting and turning, the wards gave 
way gently to his dexterous pressure, and the lid of the desk lay 
open before him. Walter Dene took out the different papers 
one by one there was no need for hurry, and he was not a nervous 
person till he came to a roll of parchment, which he recognised 
at once as the expected will. He unrolled it carefully and quietly, 
without any womanish trembling or excitement < thank Heaven,' 
he said to himself, * I am above such nonsense as that ' and sat 
down leisurely to read it in the big, low, velvet-covered study 
chair. As he did so, he did not forget to lay a notched foot-rest 
for his feet, and to put the little Japanese dish on the tiny table 
by his side to hold his cigar ash. And now,' he said, < for the 
important question whether Uncle Arthur has left his money to 
me, or to Arthur, or to both of us equally. He ought, of course, 
to leave at least half to me, seeing I have become a curate on pur- 
pose to please him, instead of following my natural vocation to the 
Bar ; but I shouldn't be a bit surprised if he had left it all to 
Arthur. He's a pig-headed and illogical old man, the vicar ; and 
he can never forgive me, I believe, because, being the eldest son, 
I was not called after him by my father and mother. As if that 






THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 



233 



was my fault ! Some people's ideas of personal responsibility are 
so ridiculously muddled.' 

He composed himself quietly in the arm-chair, and glanced 
rapidly at the will through the meaningless preliminaries till he 
came to the significant clauses. These he read more carefully. 
' All my estate in the county of Dorset, and the messuage or 
tenement known as Eedlands, in the parish of Lode, in the 
county of Devon, to my dear nephew, Arthur Dene,' he said to 
himself slowly : ' Oh, this will never do.' * And I give and 




bequeath to my said nephew, Arthur Dene, the sum of ten 
thousand pounds, three per cent, consolidated annuities, now 
standing in my name ' 4 Oh, this is atrocious, quite atrocious ! 
What's this ?' 'And I give and bequeath to my dear nephew, 
Walter Dene, the residue of my personal estate ' < and so forth. 
Oh no. That's quite sufficient. This must be rectified. The 
residuary legatee would only come in for a few hundreds or so. 
It's quite preposterous. The vicar was always an ill-tempered, 
cantankerous, unaccountable person, but I wonder he has the face 
to sit opposite me at dinner after that.' 

115 



234 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

He hummed an air from Schubert, and sat a moment looking 
thoughtfully at the will. Then he said to himself quietly, ' The 
simplest thing to do would be merely to scrape out or take out 
with chemicals the name Arthur, substituting the name Walter, 
and vice versa. That's a very small matter ; a man who draws as 
well as I do ought to be able easily to imitate a copying clerk's 
engrossing hand. But it would be madness to attempt it now 
and here ; I want a little practice first. At the same time, I 
mustn't keep the will out a moment longer than is necessary ; 
my uncle may return by some accident before I expect him ; 
and the true philosophy of life consists in invariably minimising 
the adverse chances. This will was evidently drawn up by 
Watson and Blenkiron, of Chancery Lane. I'll write to-morrow 
and get them to draw up a will for me, leaving all I possess to 
Arthur. The same clerk is pretty sure to engross it, and that '11 
give me a model for the two names on which I can do a little 
preliminary practice. Besides, I can try the stuff Wharton told 
me about, for making ink fade on the same parchment. That 
will be killing two birds with one stone certainly. And now if 
I don't make haste I sha'n't have time to write my sermon.' 

He replaced the will calmly in the desk, fastened the lock 
again with a delicate twirl of the pick, and sat down in his arm- 
chair to compose his discourse for to-morrow's evensong. 'It's 
not a bad bit of rhetoric,' he said to himself as he read it over 
for correction, 'but I'm not sure that I haven't plagiarised a 
little too freely from Montaigne and dear old Burton. What a 
pity it must be thrown away upon a Churn side congregation ! 
Not a soul in the whole place will appreciate a word of it, except 
Christina. Well, well, that alone is enough reward for any man.' 
And he knocked off his ash pensively into the Japanese ash-pan. 

During the course of the next week Walter practised dili- 
gently the art of imitating handwriting. He got his will drawn 
up and engrossed at Watson and Blenkiron's (without signing it, 
bien entendu) ; and he spent many solitary hours in writing the 
two names Walter ' and Arthur ' on the spare end of parchment, 
after the manner of the engrossing clerk. He also tested the 
stuff for making the ink fade to his own perfect satisfaction. And 
on the next occasion when his uncle was safely off the premises 
for three hours, he took the will once more deliberately from the 
desk, removed the obnoxious letters with scrupulous care, and 
wrote in his own name in place of Arthur's, so that even the 



THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 235 

engrossing clerk himself would hardly have known the difference. 
< There,' he said to himself approvingly, as he took down quiet 
old George Herbert from the shelf and sat down to enjoy an 
hour's smoke after the business was over, * that's one good deed 
well done, anyhow. I have the calm satisfaction of a clear con- 
science. The vicar's proposed arrangement was really most 
unfair ; I have substituted for it what Aristotle would have rightly 
called true distributive justice. For though I've left all the pro- 
perty to myself, by the unfortunate necessity of the case, of 
course I won't take it all. I'll be juster than the vicar. Arthur 
shall have his fair share, which is more, I believe, than he'd have 
done for me ; but I hate squalid money-grubbing. If brothers 
can't be generous and brotherly to one another, what a wretched, 
sordid little life this of ours would really be ! ' 

Next Sunday morning the vicar preached, and Walter sat 
looking up at him reflectively from his place in the chancel. A 
beautiful clear-cut face, the curate's, and seen to great advantage 
from the doctor's pew, set off by the white surplice, and up- 
turned in quiet meditation towards the elder priest in the pulpit. 
Walter was revolving many things in his mind, and most of all 
one adverse chance which he could not just then see his way to 
minimise. Any day his uncle might take it into his head to 
read over the will and discover the ah, well, the rectification. 
Walter was a man of too much delicacy of feeling even to think 
of it to himself as a fraud or a forgery. Then, again, the vicar 
was not a very old man after all ; he might live for an indefinite 
period, and Christina and himself might lose all the best years of 
their life waiting for a useless person's natural removal. What a 
pity that threescore was not the utmost limit of human life ! 
For his own part, like the Psalmist, Walter had no desire to out- 
live his own highest tastes and powers of enjoyment. Ah, well, 
well, man's prerogative is to better and improve upon nature. If 
people do not die when they ought, then it becomes clearly 
necessary for philosophically minded juniors to help them on their 
way artificially. 

It was an ugly necessity, certainly ; Walter frankly recognised 
that fact from the very beginning, and he shrank even from con- 
templating it ; but there was no other way out of the difficulty. 
The old man had always been a selfish bachelor, with no love for 
anybody or anything on earth except his books, his coins, his 
garden, and his dinner ; he was growing tired of all except the 



236 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

last ; would it not be better for the world at large, on strict 
utilitarian principles, that he should go at once? True, such 
steps are usually to be deprecated ; but the wise man is a law 
unto himself, and instead of laying down the wooden, hard-and- 
fast lines that make conventional morality so much a rule of 
thumb, he judges every individual case on its own particular 
merits. Here was Christina's happiness and his own on the one 
hand, with many collateral advantages to other people, set in the 
scale against the feeble remnant of a selfish old man's days on the 
other. Walter Dene had a constitutional horror of taking life in 
any form, and especially of shedding blood ; but he flattered him- 
self that if anything of the sort became clearly necessary, he was 
not the man to shrink from taking the needful measures to ensure 
it, at any sacrifice of personal comfort. 

All through the next week Walter turned over the subject in 
his own mind ; and the more he thought about it, the more the 
plan gained in definiteness and consistency as detail after detail 
suggested itself to him. First he thought of poison. That was 
the cleanest and neatest way of managing the thing, he con- 
sidered ; and it involved the least unpleasant consequences. To 
stick a knife or shoot a bullet into any sentient creature was a 
horrid and revolting act ; to put a little tasteless powder into a 
cup of coffee and let a man sleep off his life quietly was really 
nothing more than helping him involuntarily to a delightful 
euthanasia. < I wish any one would do as much for me at his age, 
without telling me about it,' Walter said to himself seriously. 
But then the chances of detection would be much increased by 
using poison, and Walter felt it an imperative duty to do nothing 
which would expose Christina to the shock of a discovery. She 
would not see the matter in the same practical light as he did ; 
women never do; their morality is purely conventional, and a 
wise man will do nothing on earth to shake it. You cannot buy 
poison without the risk of exciting question. There remained, 
then, only shooting or stabbing. But shooting makes an awk- 
ward noise, and attracts attention at the moment; so the one 
thing possible was a knife, unpleasant as that conclusion seemed 
to all his more delicate feelings. 

Having thus decided, Walter Dene proceeded to lay his plans 
with deliberate caution. He had no intention whatsoever of 
being detected, though his method of action was simplicity itself. 
It was only burglars and clumsy fools who got caught ; he knew 



THE CURATE OF CHURNSfDE. 23? 

that a man of his intelligence and ability would not make such an 
idiot of himself as well, as common ruffians always do. He took 
his old American bowie-knife, bought years ago as a curiosity, out 
of the drawer where it had lain so long. It was very rusty, but it 
would be safer to sharpen it privately on his own hone and strop 
than to go asking for a new knife at a shop for the express 
purpose of enabling the shopman afterwards to identify him. He 
sharpened it for safety's sake during sermon-hour in the library, 
with the door locked as usual. It took a long time to get off all 
the rust, and his arm got quickly tired. One morning as he was 
polishing away at it he was stopped for a moment by a butterfly 
which napped and fluttered against the dulled window-panes. 
< Poor thing,' he said to himself, ' it will beat its feathery wings 
to pieces in its struggles ; ' and he put a vase of Venetian glass 
on top of it, lifted the sash carefully, and let the creature fly away 
outside in the broad sunshine. At the same moment the vicar, 
who was strolling with his King Charlie on the lawn, came up and 
looked in at the window. He could not have seen in before, 
because of the dulled and painted diamonds. 

' That's a murderous-looking weapon, Wally,' he said, with a 
smile, as his glance fell upon the bowie and hone. ' What do 
you use it for ? ' 

'Oh, it's an American bowie,' Walter answered carelessly. ' I 
bought it long ago for a curiosity, and now I'm sharpening it up 
to help me in carving that block of walnut wood.' And he ran 
his finger lightly along the edge of the blade to test its keenness. 
What a lucky thing that it was the vicar himself, and not the 
gardener ! If he had been caught by anybody else the fact would 
have been fatal evidence after all was over. 'Mefiez-vous des 
papillons,' he hummed to himself, after Beranger, as he shut 
down the window. * One more butterfly, and I must give up the 
game as useless.' 

Meanwhile, as Walter meant to make a clean job of it 
hacking and hewing clumsily was repulsive to all his finer 
feelings he began also to study carefully the anatomy of the 
human back. He took down all the books on the subject in the 
library, and by their aid discovered exactly under which ribs the 
heart lay. A little observation of the vicar, compared with the 
plates in ' Quain's Anatomy,' showed him precisely at what point 
in his clerical coat the most vulnerable interstice was situated. 
'It is a horrid thing to have to do,' he thought over and over 



238 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

again as he planned it, < but it is the only way to secure 
Christina's happiness.' And so, by a certain bright Friday 
evening in August, Walter Dene had fully completed all his 

preparations. 

That afternoon, as on all bright afternoons in summer, the 
vicar went for a walk in the grounds, attended only by little King 
Charlie. He was squire and parson at once in Churnside, and he 
loved to make the round of his own estate. At a certain gate by 
Selbury Copse the vicar always halted to rest awhile, leaning on 
the bar and looking at the view across the valley. It was a safe 
and lonely spot. Walter remained at home (he was to take the 
regular Friday evensong) and went into the study by himself. 
After a while he took his hat, not without trembling, strolled 
across the garden, and then made the short cut through the 
copse, so as to meet the vicar by the gate. On his way he 
heard the noise of the Dennings in the farm opposite, out rabbit- 
shooting with their guns and ferrets in the warren. His very 
soul shrank within him at the sound of that brutal sport. ' Great 
heavens ! ' he said to himself, with a shudder ; ' to think how I 
loathe and shrink from the necessity of almost painlessly killing 
this one selfish old man for an obviously good reason, and those 
creatures there will go out massacring innocent animals with the 
aid of a hideous beast of prey, not only without remorse, but 
actually by way of amusement. I thank Heaven I am not 
even as they are.' Near the gate he came upon his uncle quietly 
and naturally, though it would be absurd to deny that at that 
supreme moment even Walter Dene's equable heart throbbed 
hard, and his breath went and came tremulously. 'Alone,' he 
thought to himself, ' and nobody near ; this is quite providential,' 
using even then, in thought, the familiar phraseology of his 
profession. 

' A lovely afternoon, Uncle Arthur,' he said as composedly as 
he could, accurately measuring the spot on the vicar's coat with 
his eye meanwhile. < The valley looks beautiful in this light.' 

'Yes, a lovely afternoon, Wally, my boy, and an exquisite 
glimpse down yonder into the churchyard.' 

As he spoke, "Walter half leaned upon the gate beside him, 
and adjusted the knife behind the vicar's back scientifically. 
Then, without a word more, in spite of a natural shrinking, he drove 
it home up to the haft, with a terrible effort of will, at the exact 
spot on the back that the books had pointed out to him. It was 






THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 239 

a painful thing to do, but he did it carefully and well. The effect 
of Walter Dene's scientific prevision was even more instantaneous 
than he had anticipated. Without a single cry, without a sob or 
a contortion, the vicar's lifeless body fell over heavily by the side 
of the gate. It rolled down like a log into the dry ditch beneath. 
Walter kneeled trembling on the ground close by, felt the pulse 
for a moment to assure himself that his uncle was really dead, 
and, having fully satisfied himself on this all-important point, 
proceeded to draw the knife neatly out of the wound. He had let 
it fall in the body, in order to extricate it more easily afterward, 
and not risk pulling it out carelessly so as to get himself covered 
needlessly by tell-tale drops of blood, like ordinary clumsy 
assassins. But he had forgotten to reckon with little King 
Charlie. The dog jumped piteously upon the body of his master, 
licked the wound with his tongue, and refused to allow Walter 
to withdraw the knife. It would be unsafe to leave it there, 
for it might be recognised. * Minimise the adverse chances,' he 
muttered still ; but there was no inducing King Charlie to move. 
A struggle might result in getting drops of blood upon his coat, 
and then, great heavens, what a terrible awakening for Christina ! 
6 Oh, Christina, Christina, Christina,' he said to himself piteously, 
' it is for you only that I could ever have ventured to do this 
hideous thing.' The blood was still oozing out of the narrow slit, 
and saturating the black coat, and Walter Dene with his delicate 
nerves could hardly bear to look upon it. 

At last he summoned up resolution to draw out the knife from 
the ugly wound, in spite of King Charlie, and as he did so, oh, 
horror ! the little dog jumped at it, and cut his left fore-leg 
against the sharp edge deep to the bone. Here was a pretty 
accident indeed ! If Walter Dene had been a common heartless 
murderer he would have snatched up the knife immediately, left 
the poor lame dog to watch and bleed beside his dead master, and 
skulked off hurriedly from the mute witness to his accomplished 
crime. But Walter was made of very different mould from that ; 
he could not find it in his heart to leave a poor dumb animal 
wounded and bleeding for hours together, alone and untended. 
Just at first, indeed, he tried sophistically to persuade himself 
that his duty to Christina demanded that he should go away at 
once, and never mind the sufferings of a mere spaniel ; but his 
better nature told him the next moment that such sophisms were 
indefensible, and his humane instincts overcame even the 



240 f HE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

profound instinct of self-preservation. He sat down quietly 
beside the warm corpse. < Thank goodness,' he said, with a slight 
shiver of disgust, I am not one of those weak-minded people who 
are troubled by remorse. They would be so overcome by terror 
at what they had done that they would want to run away from the 
body immediately, at any price. But I don't think I could feel 
remorse. It is an incident of lower natures natures that are 




capable of doing actions under one set of impulses, which they 
regret when another set comes uppermost in turn. That implies 
a want of balance, an imperfect co-ordination of parts and passions. 
The perfect character is consistent with itself; shame and 
repentance are confessions of weakness. For my part, I never 
do anything without having first deliberately decided that it 
is the best or the only thing to do ; and having so done it, I 
do not draw back like a girl from the necessary consequences of 



THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 241 

my own act. No fluttering or running away for me. Still, I 
must admit that all that blood does look very ghastly. Poor old 
gentleman ! I believe he really died almost without knowing it, 
and that is certainly a great comfort to one under the circum- 
stances.' 

He took King Charlie tenderly in his hands, without touching 
the wounded leg, and drew his pocket-handkerchief softly from his 
pocket. ' Poor beastie,' he said aloud, holding out the cut limb 
before him, ' you are badly hurt, I'm afraid ; but it wasn't my 
fault. We must see what we can do for you.' Then he wrapped 
the handkerchief deftly around it, without letting any blood show 
through, pressed the dog close against his breast, and picked up 
the knife gingerly by the reeking handle. * A fool of a fellow 
would throw it into the river,' he thought, with a curl of his grace- 
ful lip. * They always dredge the river after these incidents. I 
shall just stick it down a hole in the hedge a hundred yards off. 
The police have no invention, dull donkeys ; they never dredge 
the hedges.' And he thrust it well down a disused rabbit burrow, 
filling in the top neatly with loose mould. 

Walter Dene meant to have gone home quietly and said even- 
song, leaving the discovery of the body to be made at haphazard 
by others, but this unfortunate accident to King Charlie compelled 
him against his will to give the first alarm. It was absolutely 
necessary to take the dog to the veterinary at once, or the poor 
little fellow might bleed to death incontinently. ' One's best 
efforts,' he thought, ' are always liable to these unfortunate con- 
tretemps. I meant merely to remove a superfluous person from 
an uncongenial environment ; yet I can't manage it without at 
the same time seriously injuring a harmless little creature that I 
really love.' And with one last glance at the lifeless thing behind 
him he took his way regretfully along the ordinary path back 
towards the peaceful village of Churnside. 

Halfway down the lane, at the entrance to the village, he met 
one of his parishioners. c Tom,' he said boldly, < have you seen 
anything of the vicar ? I'm afraid he's got hurt somehow. Here's 
poor little King Charlie come limping back with his leg cut.' 

' He went down the road, zur, 'arf an hour zince, and I arn't 
zeen him afterwards.' 

4 Tell the servants at the vicarage to look around the grounds, 
then ; I'm afraid he has fallen and hurt himself. I must take the 
dog at once to Perkins's, or else I shall be late for evensong.' 



THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 



242 

The man went off straight toward the vicarage, and Walter 
Dene turned immediately with the dog in his arms into the village 
veterinary's. 

II. 

HE servants from the 
vicarage were not the 
first persons to hit upon 
the dead body of the 
vicar. Joe Harley, the 
poacher, was out recon- 
noitring that afternoon 
in the vicar's preserves ; 
and five minutes after 
Walter Dene had passed 
down the far side of 
the hedge, Joe Harley 
skulked noiselessly from 
the orchard up to the 
cover of the gate by 
Selbury Copse. He crept 
through the open end 
by the post (for it was 
against Joe's principles 
under any circumstances to climb over an obstacle of any sort, and so 
needlessly expose himself), and he was just going to slink off along 
the other hedge, having wires and traps in his pocket, when his 
boot struck violently against a soft object in the ditch underfoot. 
It struck so violently that it crushed in the object with the force 
of the impact ; and when Joe came to look at what the object 
might be, he found to his horror that it was the bruised and livid 
face of the old parson. Joe had had a brush with keepers more 
than once, and had spent several months of seclusion in Dor- 
chester Gaol ; but, in spite of his familiarity with minor forms of 
lawlessness, he was moved enough in all conscience by this awful 
and unexpected discovery. He turned the body over clumsily 
with his hands, and saw that it had been stabbed in the back 
once only. In doing so he trod in a little blood, and got a drop 
or two on his sleeve and trousers ; for the pool was bigger now, 
and Joe was not so handy or dainty with his fingers as the idyllic 
curate. 




THE CURATE OF CHURNStDE. 243 

It was an awful dilemma, indeed, for a confirmed and convicted 
poacher. Should he give the alarm then and there, boldly, trust- 
ing to his innocence for vindication, and helping the police to 
discover the murderer ? Why, that would be sheer suicide, no 
doubt ; ' for who but would believe,' he thought, ' 'twas me as 
done it ? ' Or should he slink away quietly and say nothing, leaving 
others to find the body as best they might? That was dangerous 
enough in its way if anybody saw him, but not so dangerous as 
the other course. In an evil hour for his own chances Joe Harley 
chose that worse counsel, and slank off in his familiar crouching 
fashion towards the opposite corner of the copse. 

On the way he heard John's voice holloaing for his master, 
and kept close to the hedge till he had quite turned the corner. 
But John had caught a glimpse of him too, and John did not 
forget it when, a few minutes later, he came upon the horrid sight 
beside the gate of Selbury Copse. 

Meanwhile Walter had taken King Charlie to the veterinary's, 
and had his leg bound and bandaged securely. He had also gone 
down to the church, got out his surplice, and begun to put it on 
in the vestry for evensong, when a messenger came at hot haste 
from the vicarage, with news that Master Walter must come up at 
once, for the vicar was murdered. 

6 Murdered ! ' Walter Dene said to himself slowly, half aloud ; 
' murdered ! how horrible ! Murdered ! ' It was an ugly word, 
and he turned it over with a genuine thrill of horror. That was 
what they would say of him if ever the thing came to be dis- 
covered ! What an inappropriate classification ! 

He threw aside the surplice, and rushed up hurriedly to the 
vicarage. Already the servants had brought in the body, and laid 
it out in the clothes it wore, on the vicar's own bed. Walter 
Dene went in, shuddering, to look at it. To his utter amaze- 
ment, the face was battered in horribly and almost unrecognisably 
by a blow or kick ! What could that hideous mutilation mean ? 
He could not imagine. It was an awful mystery. Great heavens, 
just fancy if any one were to take it into his head that he, Walter 
Dene, had done that, had kicked a defenceless old gentleman 
brutally about the face like a common London ruffian ! The idea 
was too horrible to be borne for a moment. It unmanned him 
utterly, and he hid his face between his two hands and sobbed 
aloud like one broken-hearted. ' This day's work has been too 
much for my nerves,' he thought to himself between the sobs ; 



244 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

'but perhaps it is just as well I should give way now com- 

Y)letelv' 

<Tliat night was mainly taken up with the formalities of all 
such cases; and when at last Walter Dene went off, tired and 
nerve-worn, to bed, about midnight, he could not sleep much for 
thinking of the mystery. The murder itself did not trouble him 
greatly ; that was over and past now, and he felt sure his pre- 
cautions had been amply sufficient to protect him even from the 




barest suspicion ; but lie could not fathom the mystery of that 
battered and mutilated face! Somebody must have seen the 
corpse between the time of the murder and the discovery ! Who 
could that somebody have been ? and what possible motive 
could he have had for such a horrible piece of purposeless 
brutality? 

As for the servants, in solemn conclave in the hall, they had 
unanimously but one theory to account for all the facts : some 
poacher or other, for choice Joe Harley, had come across the 
vicar in the copse, with gun and traps in hand. The wretch had 



THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 245 

seen he was discovered, had felled the poor old vicar by a blow in 
the face with the butt-end of his rifle, and after he fell, fainting, 
had stabbed him for greater security in the back. That was such 
an obvious solution of the difficulty, that nobody in the servants' 
hall had a moment's hesitation in accepting it. 

When Walter heard next morning early that Joe Harley had 
been arrested overnight, on John's information, his horror and 
surprise at the news were wholly unaffected. Here was another 
new difficulty, indeed. * When I did the thing,' he said to him- 
self, ' I never thought of that possibility. I took it for granted 
it would be a mystery, a problem for the local police (who, of 
course, would no more solve it than they would solve the pons 
asinorum), but it never struck me they would arrest an innocent 
person on the charge instead of me. This is horrible. It's so 
easy to make out a case against a poacher, and hang him for it, 
on suspicion. One's whole sense of justice revolts against the 
thing. After all, there's a great deal to be said in favour of the 
ordinary commonplace morality : it prevents complications. A 
man of delicate sensibilities ought not to kill anybody ; he lets 
himself in for all kinds of unexpected contingencies, without 
knowing it.' 

At the coroner's inquest things looked very black indeed for 
Joe Harley. Walter gave his evidence first, showing how he had 
found King Charlie wounded in the lane ; and then the others 
gave theirs, as to the search for and finding of the body. John 
in particular swore to having seen a man's back and head slinking 
away by the hedge while they were looking for the vicar ; and 
that back and head he felt sure were Joe Harley's. To Walter's 
infinite horror and disgust, the coroner's jury returned a verdict 
of wilful murder against the poor poacher. What other verdict 
could they possibly have given in accordance with such evidence ? 

The trial of Joe Harley for the wilful murder of the Reverend 
Arthur Dene was fixed for the next Dorchester assizes. In the 
interval, Walter Dene, for the first time in his placid life, knew 
what it was to undergo a mental struggle. Whatever happened, 
he could not let Joe Hariey be hanged for this murder. His 
whole soul rose up within him in loathing of such an act of hideous 
injustice. For though Walter Dene's code of morality was cer- 
tainly not the conventional one, as he so often boasted to himself, 
he was not by any means without a code of morals of any sort. 
He could commit a murder where he thought it necessary, but 



246 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDF, 

he could not let an innocent man suffer in his stead. His ethical 
judgment on that point was just as clear and categorical as the 
judgment which told him he was in duty bound to murder his 
uncle. For Walter did not argue with himself on moral questions : 
he perceived the right and necessary thing intuitively ; he was a 
law to himself, and he obeyed his own law implicitly, for good or 
for evil. Such men are capable of horrible and diabolically 
deliberate crimes ; but they are capable of great and genuine 
self-sacrifices also. 

Walter made no secret in the village of his disinclination to 
believe in Joe Harley's guilt. Joe was a rough fellow, he said, 
certainly, and he had no objection to taking a pheasant or two, 
and even to having a free fight with the keepers ; but, after all, 
our game laws were an outrageous piece of class legislation, and 
he could easily understand how the poor, whose sense of justice 
they outraged, should be so set against them. He could not 
think Joe Harley was capable of a detestable crime. Besides, he 
had seen him himself within a few minutes before and after the 
murder. Everybody thought it such a proof of the young parson's 
generous and kindly disposition ; he had certainly the charity 
which thinketh no evil. Even though his own uncle had been 
brutally murdered on his own estate, he checked his natural 
feelings of resentment, and refused to believe that one of his own 
parishioners could have been guilty of the crime. Nay, more, so 
anxious was he that substantial justice should be done the ac- 
cused, and so confident was he of his innocence, that he promised 
to provide counsel for him at his own expense ; and he provided 
two of the ablest barristers on the Western circuit. 

Before the trial, Walter Dene had come, after a terrible in- 
ternal struggle, to an awful resolution. He would do everything 
he could for Joe Harley ; but if the verdict went against him, he 
was resolved, then and there, in open court, to confess, before 
judge and jury, the whole truth. It would be a horrible thing 
for Christina, he knew that, but he could not love Christina so 
much, ' loved he not honour more ; ' and honour, after his own 
fashion, he certainly loved dearly. Though he might be false to 
all that all the world thought right, it was ingrained in the very 
fibre of his soul to be true to his own inner nature at least. Night 
after night he lay awake, tossing on his bed, and picturing to his 
mind's eye every detail of that terrible disclosure. The jury 
would bring in a verdict of guilty : then, before the judge put on 



THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 247 

his black cap, he, Walter, would stand up, and tell them that he 
could not let another man hang for his crime ; he would have the 
whole truth out before them; and then he would die, for he would 
have taken a little bottle of poison at the first sound of the ver- 
dict. As for Christina oh, Christina ! Walter Dene could not 
dare to let himself think upon that. It was horrible, it was 
unendurable; it was torture a thousand times worse than dying : 
but still, he must and would face it. For in certain phases, 
Walter Dene, forger and murderer as he was, could be positively 
heroic. 

The day of the trial came, and Walter Dene, pale and hag- 
gard with much vigil, walked in a dream and faintly from his hotel 
to the court-house. Everybody present noticed what a deep effect 
the shock of his uncle's death had had upon him. He was thinner 
and more bloodless than usual, and his dulled eyes looked black and 
sunken in their sockets. Indeed, he seemed to have suffered far 
more intensely than the prisoner himself, who walked in firmer 
and more erect, and took his seat doggedly in the familiar dock. 
He had been there more than once before, to say the truth, 
though never on such an errand. Yet mere habit, when he got 
there, made him at once assume the hang-dog look of the con- 
sciously guilty. 

Walter sat and watched and listened, still in a dream, but 
without once betraying in his face the real depth of his innermost 
feelings. In the body of the court he saw Joe's wife, weeping 
profusely and ostentatiously, after the fashion considered to be 
correct by her class ; and though he pitied her from the bottom 
of his heart, he could only think by contrast of Christina. What 
were that good woman's fears and sorrows by the side of the grief, 
and shame, and unspeakable horror he might have to bring upon 
his Christina ? Pray Heaven the shock, if it came, might kill her 
outright ; that would at least be better than that she should live 
long years to remember. More than judge, or jury, or prisoner, 
Walter Dene saw everywhere, behind the visible shadows that 
thronged the court, that one persistent prospective picture of 
heart-broken Christina. 

The evidence for the prosecution told with damning force 
against the prisoner. He was a notorious poacher ; the vicar was 
a game-preserver. He had poached more than once on the ground 
of the vicarage. He was shown by numerous witnesses to have 
had an animus against the vicar. He had been seen, not in the 



248 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

face, to be sure, but still seen and recognised, slinking away, 
immediately after the fact, from the scene of the murder. And 
the prosecution had found stains of blood, believed by scientific 
experts to be human, on the clothing he had worn when he was 
arrested. Walter Dene listened now with terrible, unabated 
earnestness, for he knew that in reality it was he himself who was 
upon his trial. He himself, and Christina's happiness ; for if the 
poacher were found guilty, he was firmly resolved, beyond hope of 
respite, to tell all, and face the unspeakable. 

The defence seemed indeed a weak and feeble theory. Some- 
body unknown had committed the murder, and this somebody, seen 
from behind, had been mistaken by John for Joe Harley. The blood- 
stains need not be human, as the cross-examination went to show, 
but were only known by counter- experts to be mammalian per- 
haps a rabbit's. Every poacher and it was admitted that Joe 
was a poacher was liable to get his clothes blood-stained. Grant 
they were human, Joe, it appeared, had himself once shot off his 
little finger. All these points came out from the examination of 
the earlier witnesses. At last, counsel put the curate himself 
into the box, and proceeded to examine him briefly as a witness for 
the defence. 

Walter Dene stepped, pale and haggard still, into the witness- 
box. He had made up his mind to make one final effort ' for 
Christina's happiness.' He fumbled nervously all the time at a 
small glass phial in his pocket, but he answered all questions 
without a moment's hesitation, and he kept down his emotions 
with a wonderful composure which excited the admiration of 
everybody present. There was a general hush to hear him. Did 
he see the prisoner, Joseph Harley, on the day of the murder ? 
Yes, three times. When was the first occasion ? From the 
library window, just before the vicar left the house. What was 
Joseph Harley then doing ? Walking in the opposite direction 
from the copse. Did Joseph Harley recognise him? Yes, he 
touched his hat to him. When was the second occasion ? About 
ten minutes later, when he, Walter, was leaving the vicarage for 
a stroll. Did Joseph Harley then recognise him? Yes, he 
touched his hat again, and the curate said, ' Good morning, Joe ; 
a fine day for walking.' When was the third time ? Ten minutes 
later again, when he was returning from the lane, carrying 
wounded little King Charlie. Would it have been physically 
possible for the prisoner to go from the vicarage to the spot 






THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 249 

where the murder was committed, and back again, in the inter- 
val between the first two occasions? It would not. Would 
it have been physically possible for the prisoner to do so in 
the interval between the second and third occasions ? It would 

not. 

< Then in your opinion, Mr. Dene, it is physically impossible 
that Joseph Harley can have committed this murder ? ' 

* In my opinion, it is physically impossible.' 

While Walter Dene solemnly swore amid dead silence to this 
treble lie, he did not dare to look Joe Harley once in the face ; and 
while Joe Harley listened in amazement to this unexpected assist- 
ance to his case for counsel, suspecting a mistaken identity, had 
not questioned him too closely on the subject he had presence of 
mind enough not to let his astonishment show upon his stolid 
features. But when Walter had finished his evidence in chief, he 
stole a glance at Joe ; and for a moment their eyes met. Then 
Walter's fell in utter self-humiliation ; and he said to himself 
fiercely, < I would not so have debased and degraded myself before 
any man to save my own life what is my life worth to me, after 
all ? but to save Christina, to save Christina, to save Christina ! 
I have brought all this upon myself for Christina's sake.' 

Meanwhile, Joe Harley was asking himself curiously what 
could be the meaning of this new move on parson's part. It was 
deliberate perjury, Joe felt sure, for parson could not have mis- 
taken another person for him three times over ; but what good 
end for himself could parson hope to gain by it ? If it was he who 
had murdered the vicar (as Joe strongly suspected), why did he 
not try to press the charge home against the first person who 
happened to be accused, instead of committing a distinct perjury 
on purpose to compass his acquittal ? Joe Harley, with his simple 
e very-day criminal mind, could not be expected to unravel the 
intricacies of so complex a personality as Walter Dene's. But 
even there, on trial for his life, he could not help wondering what 
on earth young parson could be driving at in this business. 

The judge summed up with the usual luminously obvious 
alternate platitudes. If the jury thought that John had really 
seen Joe Harley, and that the curate was mistaken in the person 
whom he thrice saw, or was mistaken once only out of the thrice 
or had miscalculated the time between each occurrence, or the 
time necessary to cover the ground to the gate, then they would 
find the prisoner guilty of wilful murder. If, on the other hand, 

VOL. III. NO. 15, N. S. 12 



250 



THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 



they believed John had judged hastily, and that the curate had 
really seen the prisoner three separate times, and that he had 
rightly calculated all the intervals, then they would find the pri- 
soner not guilty. The prisoner's case rested entirely upon the alibi. 
Supposing they thought there was a doubt in the matter, they 
should give the prisoner the benefit of the doubt. Walter noticed 
that the judge said in every other case, ( If you believe the wit- 
ness So-and-so,' but that in his case he made no such discourteous 
reservation. As a matter of fact, the one person whose conduct 
nobody for a moment dreamt of calling in question was the real 
murderer. 

The jury retired for more than an hour. During all that time 
two men stood there in mortal suspense, intent and haggard, both 
upon their trial, but not both equally. The prisoner in the dock 
fixed his arms in a dogged and sullen attitude, the colour half 
gone from his brown cheek, and his eyes straining with excite- 
ment, but showing no outward sign of any emotion except the 
craven fear of death. Walter Dene stood almost fainting in the 
body of the court, his bloodless fingers still fumbling nervously at 
the little phial, and his face deadly pale with the awful pallor of 
a devouring horror. His heart scarcely beat at all, but at each 
long slow pulsation he could feel it throb distinctly within his 
bosom. He saw or heard nothing before him, but kept his aching 
eyes fixed steadily on the door by which the jury were to enter. 
Junior counsel nudged one another to notice his agitation, and 
whispered that that poor young curate had evidently never seen 
a man tried for his life before. 

At last the jury entered. Joe and Walter waited, each in his 
own manner, breathless for the verdict. ' Do you find the prisoner 
at the bar guilty or not guilty of wilful murder ? ' Walter took 
the little phial from his pocket, and held it carefully between his 
finger and thumb. The awful moment had come ; the next word 
would decide the fate of himself and Christina. The foreman of 
the jury looked up solemnly, and answered with slow distinctness, 
' Not Guilty.' The prisoner leaned back vacantly, and wiped his 
forehead ; but there was an awful cry of relief from one mouth in 
the body of the court, and Walter Dene sank back into the arms 
of the bystanders, exhausted with suspense and overcome by the 
reaction. The crowd remarked among themselves that young 
Parson Dene was too tender-hearted a man to come into court at 
a criminal trial. He would break his heart to see even a dog 



THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE, 



251 



hanged, let alone his fellow-Christians. As for Joe Harley, it was 
universally admitted that he had had a narrow squeak of it, and 
that he had got off better than he deserved. The jury had given 
him the benefit of the doubt. 

As soon as all the persons concerned had returned to Churn - 
side, Walter sent at once for Joe Harley. The poacher came to 
see him in the vicarage library. He was elated and coarsely 




exultant with his victory, as a relief from the strain he had 
suffered, after the manner of all vulgar natures. 

4 Joe,' said the clergyman slowly, motioning him into a chair 
at the other side of the desk, * I know that after this trial 
Churnside will not be a pleasant place to hold you. All your 
neighbours believe, in spite of the verdict, that you killed the 
vicar. I feel sure, however, that you did not commit this murder. 
Therefore, as some compensation for the suffering of mind to 
which you have been put, I think it well to send you and your 
wife and family to Australia or Canada, whichever you like best. 
I propose also to make you a present of a hundred pounds, to set 
you up in your new home,' 

122 



252 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

< Make it five hundred, passon,' Joe said, looking at him sig^ 

nificantly. 

Walter smiled quietly, and did not flinch in any way. I said 
a hundred,' he continued calmly, < and I will make it only a hun- 
dred. I should have had no objection to making it five, except 
for the manner in which you ask it. But you evidently mistake 
the motive of my gift. I give it out of pure compassion for you, 
and not out of any other feeling whatsoever.' 

'Very well, passon,' said Joe sullenly, ' I accept it.' 

'You mistake again,' Walter went on blandly, for he was 
himself again now. < You are not to accept it as terms ; you are to 
thank me for it as a pure present. I see we two partially under- 
stand each other ; but it is important you should understand me 
exactly as I mean it. Joe Harley, listen to me seriously. I have 
saved your life. If I had been a man of a coarse and vulgar 
nature, if I had been like you in a similar predicament, I would 
have pressed the case against you for obvious personal reasons, 
and you would have been hanged for it. But I did not press it, be- 
cause I felt convinced of your innocence, and my sense of justice 
rose irresistibly against it. I did the most I could to save you ; J 
risked my own reputation to save you ; and I have no hesitation 
now in telling you that to the best of my belief, if the verdict had 
gone against you, the person who really killed the vicar, acci- 
dentally or intentionally, meant to have given himself up to the 
police, rather than let an innocent man suffer.' 

c Passon,' said Joe Harley, looking at him intently, ' I be- 
lieve as you're tellin' me the truth. I zeen as much in that 
person's face afore the verdict.' 

There was a solemn pause for a moment ; and then Walter 
Dene said slowly, ' Now that you have withdrawn your claim as a 
claim, I will stretch a point and make it five hundred. It is little 
enough for what you have suffered. But I, too, have suffered 
terribly, terribly.' 

' Thank you, passon,' Joe answered. ' I zeen as you were 
turble anxious.' 

There was again a moment's pause. Then Walter Dene asked 
quietly, 'How did the vicar's face come to be so bruised and 
battered ? ' 

' I stumbled up agin 'im accidental like, and didn't know I'd 
kicked 'un till I'd done it. Must 'a been just a few minutes after 
you'd 'a left 'un.' 



THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 253 

6 Joe, said the curate in his calmest tone, 4 you had better go ; 
the money will be sent to you shortly ; but if you ever see my face 
again, or speak or write a word of this to me, you shall not have 
a penny of it, but shall be prosecuted for intimidation. A 
hundred before you leave, four hundred in Australia. Now 

go-' 

4 Very well, passon,' Joe answered ; and he went. 

< Pah ! ' said the curate with a face of disgust, shutting the 
door after him, and lighting a perfumed pastille in his little 
Chinese porcelain incense-burner, as if to fumigate the room from 
the poacher's offensive presence. ' Pah ! to think that these 
affairs should compel one to humiliate and abase oneself before 
a vulgar clod like that! To think that all his life long that 
fellow will virtually know and misinterpret my secret. He is 
incapable of understanding that I did it as a duty to Christina. 
Well, he will never dare to tell it, that's certain, for nobody would 
believe him if he did ; and he may congratulate himself heartily 
that he's got well out of this difficulty. It will be the luckiest 
thing in the end that ever happened to him. And now I hope 
this little episode is finally over.' 

But the little episode was not to be got rid of so cavalierly. 
It was all very well for Walter Dene, in his airy, easy manner, to 
wash his hands of it gracefully in his own study ; he could not 
wash his memory of that horrid act, and he could not face the 
world again as if nothing at all had happened. Christina had 
gone on a short visit from Churnside before the trial, and when 
she came back again Walter Dene tried to go once more and call 
upon her, as he used to do in the days before the tragedy. But 
the meeting seemed to stick in his throat, and it was long before 
he could make up his mind to get it over. 4 Come, come,' he said 
to himself angrily, as he stood wavering, hat in hand, in the hall 
of the vicarage, ' I must go and see her sooner or later ; better 
have it out at once, and be done with it.' But when he saw 
Christina's face at the window his soul slunk within him once 
more, and he would have passed the door like a whipped cur if he 
had not been afraid to betray his anxiety and fear before the eyes 
of his own parishioners. What a humiliation ! He, Walter Dene, 
to be afraid of showing himself to a set of country bumpkins, as 
a frightened culprit ! These are the sort of scrapes you get your- 
self into when once you begin a series of rectifications. 

He went in and faced it out, but he hardly knew how he dared 



254 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

meet that beautiful pure girl's eyes fixed on his, without sinking 
into the ground or fainting before her. If she only knew the 
truth, how she would hate and loath him ! Could he live his life 
through with her, acting a lie for years to come, pretending to her 
that he was what he was not, ministering week after week in 
church to good, simple, innocent people a murderer in the guise 
of a messenger of Heaven ? Yes, there was no use shirking the 
ugly word a murderer ! A murderer ! Though no one else 
should ever find him out, though all the world, and even Christina 
herself, should continue to believe in him, how could he ever 
escape that internal knowledge of what he himself really was a 
murderer ? 

Did Christina suspect him ? He hardly knew ; but there was 
a certain cloud between them ; a veil that he had never felt be- 
fore ; a vague wall of separation that he could not and dare not 
break down. How could he take her innocent hand as formerly 
in his guilty fingers ? How could he talk the small nothings of 
other days ? How could he ever forget that awful, impalpable 
barrier that he himself had raised between them, and that all the 
powers of earth could never break down again as long as he lived ? 

As for Christina, she did not guess the real reason of Walter 
Dene's altered manner, but she could not help noticing that since 
his uncle's death a great change had somehow come over him. 
At first she tried to believe it was merely the reflex of that great 
horror ; the natural result of the shock he had received from the 
dreadful death of a near relative. Still, she could not disguise 
from herself the fact that she did not like Walter Dene quite so 
well that day as formerly. There was a something about him 
that did not please her ; an indescribable shrinking from him that 
she could not understand ; and she was not altogether sorry when 
the meeting was really over. Of course she went up to her own 
room and had a good cry by herself as soon as he was gone, like 
a simple-hearted, innocent girl that she was; but it vaguely 
dawned upon her that her .father might be right after all, and 
that Walter Dene might not be the right man for her to marry, 
in spite of her cherished little delusion. Well, well, he had never 
proposed to her, to be sure, and there was no harm done, whatever 
came of it. 

Once or twice again Walter Dene saw Christina, but with a 
greater shrinking each time, as he realised to himself more and 
more fully what sort of character he was in his real nature beside 



THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 255 

her. Day after day the coldness grew more marked between 
them ; and day after day Christina began to wonder more what 
it was she had ever liked in the young curate. At last he could 
not bear to face her any longer ; and then, one morning as he 
wandered restlessly on the downs above the village, the horrid 
truth forced itself clearly upon him. He had done all this for 
Christina's sake, and now, after all was done, and his life was 
wrecked for ever, he had utterly lost Christina. ' Oh ! Christina, 
Christina, Christina,' he said to himself once more, wringing his 
hands and fling himself on the ground in his agony, how could 
I have thought for a moment that a man who would do such a 
deed as that could afterwards dare to live confronted for ever by 
your spotless purity ! ' Loving her still, he yet loathed her for 
the contrast she presented to his own heart ; or rather, loathing 
himself, he loathed himself all the more whenever he thought of 
Christina. 

Meanwhile, the new vicar came to Churnside, and Walter 
Dene began to think in a vague way of looking about for another 
home. He would not take a curacy again, of course ! he would 
be rich now with his uncle's money that cursed money which 
had been the root of all the evil ! and besides, he couldn't go on 
acting a lie any longer, with that hideous past imprinted indelibly 
in his branded memory. It is so easy to argue yourself out of 
your scruples at first, so' hard to go on arguing yourself out of 
your remorse for a whole lifetime afterwards. He could not tear 
himself away from the village. No, though Christina lived at 
Churnside ; though the reminders of his guilt met him on every 
side at Churnside, still at Churnside he somehow must manage 
to live. His life was wrecked now that he felt dimly in some 
horrid tempestuous fashion ; and there was nothing left for him 
but to hang about the scene of his crime as best he could. With 
that millstone tied round his neck, he must live on at Churnside 
whatever of years remained to him yet ; so he took a lodging in 
the village, careless where he lived, and wandered hours together 
alone through the woods and on the downs, not shunning the 
place where the vicar had been murdered, but rather hanging 
about it in the dark, and humming to himself uneasily weird 
tunes from the most tragic parts of German operas. The Churn- 
side people whispered to one another that thik there young passon 
was certainly a-going beside hisself. 

Then came the proving of the will, which Walter Dene left to 



256 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

his legal adviser. ' Don't bother me about the thing,' he said 
piteously ; < and if there's anything left to me, make it over in 
the lump by deed of gift to my brother Arthur, but never say 
another word to me upon the subject.' The lawyer tried to reason 
with him, but Walter cut the matter short at once. * Take my 
orders,' he said angrily, ' or let me take the business elsewhere.' 
The lawyer shrugged his shoulders and went away. There was 
something wrong, he muttered, about this young fellow ; either 




e Ch se to tel1 about 

Chumside that ^e London clerk 
ice of ^ Pbate in 

Wlter but t A """I 16 m ney Was "S^y kft, not to 
Ur H WeVer ' the vicar alwa 



always a huffy 

Th ad 4f Wi " 

^ r. WaS much questioning in the village 



about ^ r. c quesonng n te village 

the matter, and the local lawyer made a note of it, deter- 



THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 257 

mining to inquire into the signature and attestation at the earliest 
opportunity. A few months before, Walter would have taken care 
to minimise the adverse chances by inventing stories about two 
blank forms of will and so forth ; but what did he care for adverse 
chances now ? He had lost Christina, he had burdened himself 
with a horrible murder, and to-day, if only the forgery could be 
brought home to him, and he could be safely lodged in a convict 
prison, he would really feel comparatively happy. To the last he 
thought only of his own overwrought feelings, not once of the 
awful crime he had committed, or of the helpless old man whom 
he had treacherously murdered. 

Perhaps the rumours and the questions might have come to a 
head in the end, and the forgery at least might have been detected ; 
but Walter Dene did not give them time to work themselves out 
to their own conclusion. From week to week his life grew more 
terribly burdensome to him, not from any feeling of true remorse 
or repentance, but from the galling sense of utter and lamentable 
failure. He had risked everything on one desperate throw against 
conventional morality ; and though he had for a time seemed to 
win, conventional morality had kept the stake after its usual per- 
sistent fashion. He thought he had reckoned fairly with all the 
chances of detection, but he had forgotten to reckon with himself. 
Deeper down than all his moral sophistries and philosophisings, 
the inherited consciousness of humanity had written in his own 
heart his bitterest condemnation. That was a tribunal he could not 
escape. That was a bar before which his specious pleadings were 
absolutely without effect. Driven aimlessly about by the gnawing 
desire to do something, anything, because he could not sit or 
stand still, he walked about from morning till night, alone, mostly 
on the high heathland, till his wearied limbs could carry him no 
farther. One evening, about six o'clock, he found himself drawn 
by that fatal attraction to the spot on the hillside where the gate 
opened from the wood on to the valley. A little way off a rabbit, 
burrowing in the earth, had thrown out a heap of fresh mould, 
and in its midst Walter Dene saw something gleaming strangely. 
He knew what it was in a second : the bowie with which he had 
killed his uncle. He took the thing up in his hand : it suggested 
to him immediately an idea which he had turned over more than 
once before as he paced gloomily up and down the brown heather. 
His finger ran mechanically along the edge ; it was still sharp and 
keen, though very rusty., < A man might cut his throat with 

125 



258 THE CURATE OF CHURNSIDE. 

that,' he said to himself moodily. ' There would be a certain 
dramatic completeness in using this particular knife for the pur- 
pose. A little too like a Surrey-side melodrama, perhaps, but yet 
not without a touch of ^Eschylus in it besides. Ate always finds 
her own instruments ready to hand.' And he smiled quietly a 
bitter smile at his passing fancy. 

When Dr. Eliot, Christina's father, saw the gash on Walter 
Dene's dead throat and the rusty knife that had made it, he did 
not forget the look of that well-remembered stab that had pierced 
the vicar's back only a few months earlier. The same knife, he 
thought, beyond a doubt, in both cases ; and it had lain in the 
same place, he felt sure, till Walter unearthed it. But for Chris- 
tina's sake he said nothing, and the coroner's jury returned a 
verdict of suicide while in a state of temporary insanity. The old 
vicar's unexpected death, people said, had quite unhinged his 
nephew's faculties. Still, after all, that despised conventional 
morality had had its revenge. 



259 



THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 

WE went by Bummel-Zug. Do you know the Bummel-Zug ? 
No ? Then don't try to know it. And yet, it is not easy to get 
into the Bohmer-Wald in any other manner at least, not the way 
we went and there are only two ways of reaching it. We got into 
it, one way, by Bummel-Zug, and we got out of it, the other way, 
by Bummel-Zug ; and, as far as we could discover from Hendschell 
(the German Bradshaw), only Bummel-Zugs run into the forest, 
and out of it. 

The Bummel-Zug is a combined passenger and goods train. 
We got on well enough from Niirnberg to Schwandorf by express, 
but from Schwandorf to Cham we could go only by this ' creepy- 
crawly ' train, that took nearly, four hours to do thirty English 
miles. It was not that the wretched train did not travel at a 
decent pace. It did not gallop, but it trotted. Where it squan- 
dered its golden hours was at the stations, refreshing it self, gossiping, 
picking up and casting off trucks, taking naps and waking up with 
a scream, when there was nothing in the world to frighten it, and 
it had not the smallest thought of going ahead. 

There was not a town no, not a village to be seen in those 
thirty miles, nothing but an endless expanse of pine forest, with 
silver lakes gleaming between the fir-boles, and away to the east 
before us the blue bank of mountain chain that walls off Bohemia 
from Bavaria. 

There was nothing in the way of flowers except evening prim- 
rose eternally evening primrose on the sides of the railway, to 
excite a little interest. 

The stations were stations and nothing else, without a village, 
a hamlet, a church, a chapel, even a tavern, to supply a reason 
why there should be a station there. The names given them must 
be arbitrary ; they are mere clearings in the vast forest, where 
steam- saws cut up the pines and convert them into planks. Piles 
of sawn timber fill every clearing. As we puffed along we dis- 
turbed the pretty deer, which bounded away and disappeared under 
the pine boughs. The only conception of ornament entertained 
by the dwellers in the forest seems to be stag-horn. Horns are 
stuck over the doors, every window, every gable. The men hang 



260 THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 

their hats on horns, smoke out of pipes portraying deer-heads, and 
the hunter Saint Hubert is the patron who receives their devotions. 

We reached Cham, the first town on the line, at 8 p.m., the 
sky threatening, and the sun, just setting, cast at us a wicked, 
malevolent eye. The station is a couple of miles from the town ; 
no omnibus, not even a porter, was there to take our baggage, and 
the first drops of a spiteful thunder-shower began to patter down. 
We shouldered our portmanteaux, and spread our umbrellas ; but 
to walk under a burden and keep sheltered under a parapluie 
simultaneously, especially when the weather is gusty, is impossible ; 
and we were wet, hot, melted, and fagged when we took refuge in 
the first inn we came upon, < The Golden Sun.' There, of course, 
horns again. Horns over the door, horns on top of the stove, 
antlers beneath the crucifix in the common room, and our um- 
brellas, hats, and portmanteaux were taken from us and hooked 
upon a range of horns by the kindly host and the Kellnerinn. 

Not a soul was visible in the street, not a face at the windows. 
' It is so late at night,' said the host, < that we expected no one 
would travel by this train, and were about to shut up the house.' 

Of course, Reh (roebuck) for supper. I had reckoned on it, and 
I was not disappointed. It is the only meat worth eating in Ger- 
many. Mutton might be anything but sheep's flesh ; beef is tough 
and tasteless ; veal well, one wearies of veal every day for dinner 
and supper. But Reh ! the flesh dark, juicy, rich, savoury Reh 
for me. A little later we made the acquaintance of Golasch, and 
Golasch is not to be despised. Beef is naturally insipid, either roast 
or stewed, in Germany ; but beef-golasch is very good indeed, and 
Paprika is not to be scorned when Golasch is unattainable. A very 
capital supper we made, and washed it down with delicious beer, 
topped with Slievowitz. Remember that word of power when you 
are in the Bohemian mountains. If you are fagged you pick your- 
self up with Slievowitz ; if wet to the skin, you dry yourself with 
Slievowitz ; if your food has disagreed with you, a dose of Slievowitz 
puts your stomach to rights ; if out of temper, Slievowitz brings 
the sun back to your spirits. I have not met with this excellent 
spirit elsewhere. I last tasted it at Passau. It was unattainable 
at Linz, unknown at Munich. I have looked it out in Brockhaus' 
Conversations Lexicon, which is a treasury of information on every 
conceivable subject, but Slievowitz is not there. 

Refreshed, warmed, soothed, peacefully disposed, dry Slievo- 
witz did it we retired to our room, the host leading the way with 






THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 261 

a candle. We were given a large room with three windows domi- 
nating the street and commanding the entire first-floor of the house 
opposite, the lower, ground-floor shutters of which were of iron, 
and fast shut, whilst the glass in those above was broken. 

Our host led us to a window, threw it open, and said, ' We 
have had a great crime committed over the way. You have 
doubtless read of it in the papers. The tenant of that house was 
an oil and colourman. You see his sign over the door. Well, 
he murdered his wife, and ran off with the maid. Before he went, 
he set fire to his house, hoping that the combustible materials 
there gathered linseed oil, turpentine, tow would speedily re- 
duce the house, his wife, and the evidence of his crime to indis- 
tinguishable ashes. By the merest chance, the fire was discovered 
before it had proceeded far, and was extinguished. The man is 
now in prison.' Then our host shut the window, and said, ( I have 
told you all this that you may not look out across the street during 
the night. If you were to do so, and see something, and I had 
not forewarned you, you might have reproached me. I wish you 
both a good night. Sleep well, and dream pleasantly.' 

' What are you about ? ' I asked of my companion half an hour 
later, as in the dusk, after the candle was extinguished, I observed 
a white ghostly figure moving at the other extremity of the room. 

4 1 am turning the head of my bed. As I lie, I look straight 
across into the windows opposite.' 

Next morning was lovely, and we wandered about the little 
town, looking at its few objects of interest : an old watch-tower, 
overhanging the river the last left of several which formerly 
adorned the town walls the church, so buried internally in rococo- 
plaster and gilding as to have its early work concealed. Then we 
crossed the bridge over the Eegen to walk to Cham-Munster, 
where there is a fine church of late G-erman Gothic, which is the 
necropolis of the noble families of the district, and of the patri- 
cians of Cham. The valley of the Kegen is here a wide plain 
between the Bohemian granite mountain-range to the east, and 
the Pfahl, a range of white quartz, which has been driven as a dyke 
through the crystalline rocks, and extends over sixty miles from 
south-east to north-west. The white sparry rock is not visible 
from Cham, though the long ridge is, for it is here overgrown, but 
it shows in many places, in none to more advantage than in the 
Weissenstein above Eegen, which rises 2,490 feet above the sea, 
and is crowned by an extensive ruined castle. 



262 THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 

On the side of the road to Cham-Mimster we saw numerous 
boards about six feet high erected, painted black, and dark- green, 
and white, with pictures and inscriptions on the white surfaces. 
I made a sketch of one. Whilst I was making my drawing the 
priest came up and entered into conversation with me : he seemed 
greatly surprised at my regarding these boards as novelties, and 
he explained to me their meaning. 

When any one dies, man or woman, the corpse is removed from 
the deathbed and laid on a board, previously cut and prepared to 
receive it. At the head is a sort of pent roof, a low gable ; lower 
down is a bar across for the seat, and a little shelf at the bottom for 
the feet. On this the corpse reposes till the funeral. After this, the 
painting of the board is completed, the inscription filled up ; it is 
then nailed or screwed to a stout post, which is driven into the 
ground by the roadside, so that the ' corpse-board ' stands upright 
till the post rots, and allows it to fall, when it crumbles neglected 
into the soil. The entrance to a village is through an avenue of 
these horrible memorials. Sometimes, however, they are planted 
in the depth of the wood where roads fork beside mere paths in 
the most lonesome spots. As they advance in age, they decline 
more and more from the perpendicular and lurch to right and left. 
In the evening gloaming, the appearance of a row of these is just 
that of a line of tipsy soldiers. This effect is enhanced by the 
peculiarity of their ornamentations. At the head, under the 
weather-board, where rested the head of the corpse, is painted a 
round white disk, which is adorned with figures of the Virgin 
and a Saint in the sky, or the Trinity, and in the middle is the 
deceased, kneeling very upright, in his best Sunday clothes. 
Another variety is a clock-face, with the hands pointing to the 
hour of death. Further down is a tablet, or a pair of tables, on 
which are inscribed the name, age, and merits of the departed, and 
some verses of more or less originality and merit. 1 

If these ghastly memorials remind one of a row of soldiers, 
something there is in the harvest fields all round to recall 
a procession of nuns. Similar processions stalk over the 
plains of Bavaria ; they were about Linz and Salzburg also. I 
remember having shrunk from them in Bohemia, of an evening, 
as a child, more years ago than I care to say. They are, in fact, 
nothing more than sheaves of hemp ; corn sheaves are treated in 

1 These are altogether different from the memorials of accidents one meets 
with so frequently in Tyrol. 



THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 263 

the same manner, but have not the grim nigritude of the hemp. 
The amount of character in the various hemp cocks is wonderful. 
You see the meek nun, the spiteful nun, the fat little sister who 
is always ready to help every one, the hard, self-confident religious, 
the hypocrite, the true penitent, the nun who is flighty and has 
distinctly missed her vocation. 

We returned to Cham for an early dinner, which consisted of 
soup, roast goose, salad and potatoes, and pancakes. Lastly, we 
called for our bill. Only then did we fully realise how completely 
we had broken new ground. The bill for supper of roebuck, for 
bed, breakfast, the dinner just described, beer and Slievowitz, 
amounted to two shillings and sevenpence a head. Sixpence to 
the little maid overwhelmed her with gratitude, and when another 
was superadded for wheeling both our portmanteaux in a truck 
to the station, we barely escaped hugs and kisses, and got off with 
hearty shakes of the hand. 

The Bohemian Forest is a continuation of the range of moun- 
tains that encloses Bohemia the Erz Gebirge wall off Saxony 
to the N.N.W. They die away, and the Fichtel Gebirge form 
a pivot, from which the range takes a turn S.S.E., at right angles, 
and cuts off Bohemia from Bavaria. The mountains reach the 
Danube below Passau, and are cut through by that noble river in its 
course to Linz, where it rushes and swirls between lofty walls of 
rock and sombre pine, with scarce a castle, and not a village to 
show that this part of its course is through habitable land. The 
name of < Wald ' or forest is now synonymous with mountain, in 
Germany. The Oden Wald is an almost treeless range, covered 
with corn and vine. The Thiiringer Wald, the Teutoberger Wald, 
the Franken Wald, the Bairischer Wald, the Black Forest, are 
all mountain ranges. An old Teutonic word for full-grown forest 
was Hardt or Harz, a name that is preserved in the Roman designa- 
tion of the vast German forest, Sylva Hercynia. The name 
remains scattered over Germany : as the Hardt range near the 
Moselle, the Harz mountains, the Spess-art, and the Mann-hart. 
Originally these were merely local designations of portions of the 
all-embracing forest land, but, as cultivation spread, the valleys 
and plains were tilled and peopled, and the forest shrank before 
the plough and clung to the mountain ranges and groups, which 
thenceforth retained the name of forest, and to this day most of 
the mountain chains of Germany are designated only as forests. 

The principal peaks of the Bohmer Wald are the Cerchow, 



264 THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 

3,400 ft.; the Osser, 4,850 ft.; the Arber, 4,800 ft,; the Eahel, 
4,798 ft. ; and the Dreisesselstein, 4,320 ft. The chain is cut through 
by the so-called Bohemian Gate, at Tauss, on either side of which 
stand the Cerchow and the Osser, as guardian giants. Through this 
gate runs the railway that conveyed us to Cham ; it passes Tauss, 
and reaches Pilsen and Prague. The step of this < gate ' is only 
1,200 ft. above the sea. About it lie, on the Bohemian side, the 
towns of Neuern, Neugedein, Tauss, and Eschelkam ; and on the 
German side, Furt-im-Wald, Cham, and Neuburg. This was the 
way by which armies entered Bohemia, and by this door also burst 
forth the Hussite hordes, to burn and sack the towns and castles of 
Bavaria. The whole district is an old battle-field. At Tauss, the 
ancient Togast, in the beginning of the seventh century, Samo, at 
the head of his Sclaves, defeated Dagobert and his Franks ; here, 
in 1040, Boleslaw I. of Bohemia drove back the Germans under 
Henry III. ; at Neugedein, in 1431, Procopius the Great put the 
crusaders to the rout ; and again George Podjebrad and his Czecks 
defeated and put to the sword the undisciplined German hosts 
poured into Bohemia to crush him. The great and strong castles 
the Eiesenberg at Neugedein, which commands such a magnificent 
view over the plains of Bohemia and the granite walls of the 
forest-chain, the castle of Tauss, and many another fortress now 
a tottering ruin tell of a past when this gate was a scene of 
conflict. 

A second pass is by Eysenstein, further south, between the 
Arber and the Eahel, but this was of less consequence, as it pre- 
sented greater natural difficulties. 

To the west of the high range which carries the frontier on 
its crown rises a second and inferior roll of mountains, and this 
latter is properly the Bairischer Wald ; but, inasmuch as the whole 
district of some 2,000 square miles is clothed in forest, up to the 
summit of the Bohemian mountain wall, the name of Bairischer 
Wald is often applied to the whole of the district. In Czeck, the 
ridge south of the Tauss pass is called the Sumava, and north of 
it the Cesky Les. 

The mountains are of granite, gneiss, and micaceous slate, 
and, though they are inferior to the Alps in altitude, they are of 
infinitely greater antiquity. Indeed, they are the most ancient 
mountain range in Germany, and towered into the sky clothed in 
snow and wreathed with glaciers, before Mont Blanc, Monte Eosa, 
and the' Matterhorn were thought of. The central crystalline 



THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 265 

chain of the Alps was forced up through the late dolomitic lime- 
stone beds, by plutonic force. It was not so with the Bohmer 
Wald. Arber, Osser, and Rahel looked down on the Triassic sea 
which reached their feet and received their glaciers. Now, weathered 
by storms, and fretted down by the lapse of countless ages, they 
are but the poor, worn stumps that mark where once great 
mountain fangs stood up, white, glittering, and monstrous. 

But if these mountains are not of Alpine magnificence, they 
are not destitute of interest and beauty. Here, and here only, 
can one see the giant trees of the old Hercynian forest. Every- 
where else in Germany the veterans among pines have fallen 
before the axe ; here some linger on. But of these anon. Here 
we have mile after mile of magnificent forest rolling about the 
mountains, like rich far mantles, and sweeping fold on fold, of 
deep green velvet, over the lesser ranges, far, far away to the 
setting sun. The forests elsewhere in Germany are as orderly 
and educated as a cornfield and a cabbage garden ; here they 
luxuriate in absolute wildness. The terrific hurricanes of winter, 
the north-east wind that leaps over the rocky crests, rage down 
the gullies and uproot many acres of noble timber, which is left 
to lie and rot where it was cast down. 

We had intended to start for the mountains up the valley of 
the Black Regen, from Cham, but there found we might do better 
by going on by train to Furt-im-Wald and tracking up the White 
Eegen to its source at the foot of the Arber. This country is so 
little explored that guidebooks do not help one much. 

Of Furt-im-Wald there is not much to be said : war has swept 
it with fire and sword, and left little of antiquity to interest the 
traveller. The road from the town ascends continually to Neu- 
kirchen, where there is a large Franciscan convent, and a pilgri- 
mage church that contains a miraculous image of the Virgin, 
which, according to tradition, spouted blood when a Hussite clove 
the head with his battle-axe. The whole way from the church to 
the village, half a mile, lies between ranges of the repulsive 
corpse-boards, in all stages of stagger and decay. 

On the right rises the beautifully formed Hohe Bozen, 3,222 ft. 
It is worth ascending for the view it commands of the Chamberich, 
or rich plain of Cham, the forest land to the west, and the moun- 
tain wall to the east. 

To the left are seen glimmering the white walls and the 
bulbous spires of Bohemian churches, through openings in the 



266 THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 

mountains. Presently the noble double-peaked Osser comes in 
view and shuts off every peep into the land of the Czecks. Beneath 
it, on a rocky hillock that rises out of the valley, stands the upland 
village of Lamm, the extreme end of the road. 

We put up at the Post, where again we feasted on roebuck, 
and were given an immoderately small bill half a crown for 
supper, bed, and breakfast. 

There are two inns at Lamm ; the other was in mourning for 
the little child of the house, which was dead, and to be buried on 

the morrow. 

We attended the funeral, which was early at seven o'clock, 
with a mass in the church. Here I observed, what I have noticed 
in one or two out-of-the-way valleys of Tyrol, the old way of 
making the offertory still followed. Instead of an alms-dish or 
bag being carried round, the whole congregation rises, and the 
men first, then the women, walk in line up the church, into the 
chancel, pass round behind the altar, and put their oblations on 
the altar at the south corner, and return to their places. Seeing 
this at Lamm, I recalled a passage in the life of the Emperor 
Henry II. He came to Paderborn for the Christmas of 1009, 
where the grasping bishop, Meinwerk, at once asked him to make 
him, or his church, a present of the manor of Erwitte. The 
king flatly refused. On Christmas morning, at mass, the Emperor 
stood up, and walked to the altar, to place on it his offering, but 
Bishop Meinwerk, seeing it was a piece of money, swept it off 
the altar with his hand. Henry stood disconcerted. It would not 
comport with his dignity to stoop and pick up the rejected coin, 
so he put another on the altar ; again Meinwerk brushed it off, 
and said 6 Erwitte ! Erwitte ! ' The scene was becoming indecent, 
when the Empress Cunegund left her place and came up to the 
altar. The Bishop continued resolute. He would accept nothing 
less than the manor of Erwitte, and the Emperor yielded and laid 
on the altar a pledge that he made over the desired estate to the 
see of Paderborn for ever. 

The child's funeral in the mountain churchyard was a pretty 
sight ; the sun came up over the grey crags of Osser and flung 
a golden pall upon the little white coffin, on which lay a wreath of 
scented woodruff. The mourners wore no black ; they carried little 
twisted coils of wax tapers, and when the grave was filled in they 
placed them round it, so that, looking back as we went away, we 
saw the tiny grave encircled with a halo of twinkling stars, and 



THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 267 

above it rose the white wood cross, with its white muslin ' weeper ' 
fluttering in the morning air. 

A lovely walk from Lamm over the col into the valley of the 
Black Eegen. To the left rises the Osser, a micaslate mountain, 
on the summit of which are to be traced the scanty remains of 
a castle, 4,245 ft. above the sea, probably only a place of refuge in 
the event of an invasion. Before one, on the right, rises the noble 
Arber, king of the forest, as its name implies, a grand mountain, 
though less beautiful in outline than the Osser. 

On all sides forest-clothed mountain shoulders, from which rise 
delicate wreaths of white smoke. Charcoal-burning is carried on 
to a great extent throughout the region, and no landscape is 
destitute of several of the rising columns of thin smoke from 
the fires. In these forests the Bohemian glass is manufactured, 
and the fires are made of charcoal. The natives use a peculiar 
glass snuff-bottle. The bottle is flat, so as to fit into the pocket ; 
it is generally made of coloured glass with white or red spiral 
threads in the glass. It is corked with a flock of wool dyed 
magenta or crimson. The method of using the bottle is 
this. The cork is removed, and two little heaps of snuff are 
shaken out of the neck upon the back of the hand, and these are 
inhaled. Thereupon the plug is replaced, and the upper lip and 
nose are gracefully dusted with the coloured wool, the bottle now 
serving as the brush-handle. 

No road, only foot-tracks. We asked our way of a woman, and 
of course were directed wrong. When, eventually, we reached 
Eysenstein, 'Ah!' said the host of our inn, 'it serves you right. 
At your age you ought to know that if a woman tells you to go to 
the right, you should at once strike left. All men have gone wrong, 
ever since father Adam, by listening to the advice of women.' 

There, actually at the top of the col, a rollicking set of corpse- 
boards. We took them at first, from a distance, for a group of 
intoxicated smugglers ! 

A rapid descent upon Bayrisch Eysenstein a miserable group 
of wood houses, little else but a barrack of douaniers and frontier 
watchmen, with a tavern and a mean church. Then along two 
to three miles of high road, and Bohmisch Eysenstein is reached, 
a little town at the mouth of the pass from the valley of the 
Danube to that of the Moldau. Bohmisch Eysenstein is a long, 
straggling, uninteresting village, containing three good inns, and 
partaking of the unsatisfactory character common to most frontier 



268 THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 

colonies. Smuggling, apparently, demoralises them all, and any 
amount of contraband trade can be carried on over this frontier, 
where nature provides every facility for evasion of customs. The 
smuggling along the whole line of the Bohemian mountains is 
carried on with unusual daring and effrontery ; and I have been 
repeatedly warned not to be about in the forest after dark. 
Indeed, a resident gentleman not far from Zwisel, owning a glass 
factory, assured me that he never left the high-road after night- 
fall, and always slept with a loaded pistol under his pillow. 

The church of Eysenstein is the most singular in construction 
I think I ever saw. The plan is that of a star intersecting a 
quatrefoil, the points of the star being truncated. The low walls 
are surmounted by an enormous red bulb, like a gigantic Tripoli 
onion. It contains a valuable Madonna by Lucas von Cranach, 
under glass, not in a good condition. The inn, 4 Zum Arber,' is 
very comfortable, the host obliging, and the terms moderate from 
four-and-six to five shillings a day ; but the pleasantest place to 
stay a week or a fortnight at is the wooden shanty of a certain 
Procopius higher up the pass, surrounded by, and almost buried 
in, pines. Procopius is said to be attentive, and his pension com- 
fortable. 

On the further side of the pass we come upon a very interesting 
group of villages, the Choden, or Eoyal Free-Bauers, occupying 
fifteen townships, which formed formerly an almost independent 
state. They are believed to be the descendants of Poles trans- 
planted from their own land in 1039, when Wratislas I. defeated 
Boleslas I., took Grnesen, and carried off to Prague the bones of S. 
Adalbert. He established a colony of prisoners of war behind the 
Eysenstein pass, gave them large privileges, and made of them 
the guardians of the frontier. They paid no taxes, owned the land 
subject to no feudal tenures, under no superiors except the Crown, 
to which they were directly subject, like the princes. They 
governed themselves, and administered justice in their own courts. 
They have now lost their political independence, but not the sense 
of their superiority to their neighbours. Their ancestral language 
has given way to Czeck. The northernmost colony is Kathar, near 
Neukirch, and they extend to the springs of the Wottava. One 
settlement, that of Stachau, forms an island apart from the rest. 
On the Bavarian side of the frontier the language of the peasants 
is so saturated with Sclavonic forms and affected by its intonation 
as to be unintelligible even to Germans. After a few days I can 



THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 269 

generally find the key to a local dialect and understand it, but that 
of the Bohmer Wald has baffled me. 

Eysenstein is an admirable centre for excursions. It is easily 
accessible, now that the Forest-line (Wald-Bahn) has been com- 
pleted from Degendorf on the Danube to Pilsen. Degendorf is 
easily reached by train from Niirnberg or Eatisbon. 

One great feature of interest possessed by these mountains is 
the number of lakes found among them. These lakes are, how- 
ever, properly, tarns, and are situated high up the sides, near the 
summits. Indeed they occupy crater-like depressions under the 
mountain-tops. This gives them a certain amount of sameness. 
At the upper end is a wall of granite precipice rising to the moun- 
tain's crown, forming a segment of a circle ; the rest of the lake 
is enfolded in the pine-clad arms of the mountain. They are all 
sombre, solitary, and wild. 

These tarns are of great depth ; some are, of course, supposed 
to be unfathomable. These are the Schwarz See, the Greater 
Arber See, and the Devil's Lake near Eysenstein. Under the 
brow of the Eahel lies another, very wild and lonely ; but perhaps 
the most beautiful is the Plochsteiner See. 

The gloomy Teufels See can be visited along with the Schwarz 
See in one excursion. It lies far below the foot of the traveller in 
a basin of rock and sombre forest, and the waters from a height 
look like ink. Popular superstition says that if a stone be cast in 
the lake is agitated, boils, and a tempest rises out of it. As I 
saw it on a rainy day, the effect was singular, and such as to 
give colour to the superstition. Vapour condensed over the cold 
water, and rose from it in spiral columns and gauzy wreaths, much 
like steam from a cauldron. I stood some time on a rock high 
above it and watched the cloudlets ascend, steal from pine to pine, 
envelop me for a moment in mist, and then rise balloon-like to 
the granite crests high overhead, where they lost themselves in 
one nebulous grey canopy. The appearance was quite that of a hot 
cauldron discharging jets of steam. A path has been cut, and 
the chasms bridged, so that the lake, at one time unapproachable, 
can now be visited without inconvenience. The Schwarz See is a 
much larger sheet of water. At the north end the precipices of 
granite, in the interstices of which a few pines have rooted them- 
selves, rise to the summit of the mountain, a thousand feet per- 
pendicularly. The citizens of Eysenstein have erected a large and 
picturesque paviMjn by the water's side, of fir logs, very tasteful, 



270 THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 

where occasionally dances are given. What a fairy scene when 
the full moon is out streaming down the mountain side, making 
the grey sides luminous, turning the Black-lake into a sheet of 
silver, and lights and colours sparkle in the dancing-shed by the 
water and are reflected in a thousand brilliants in its wavelets ! 

The Rahel is only ten feet lower than the Arber, and, if the 
latter be the king, Rahel is certainly the queen of the forest. 
About her grow the noblest trees. Her forests are less accessible 
than those on the skirts of the king, and have therefore been less 
thinned by the axe. In Germany the woods have their police, 
whose duty it is to see that no devastation is wrought by incon- 
siderate owners. No man may cut down his trees without the 
sanction of these authorities. The reason is that wood is the 
staple fuel of the country, and, if the Government did not step in 
to protect the people against their own improvidence, the peasants 
would speedily sweep away all their forests, to enable them to clear 
the mortgages which the Jews hold on their lands. In Bavaria 
the price of fuel rose between 1830 and 1860 as much as sixty 
per cent., and building timber rose seventy per cent. 

In the sixteenth century the forests had dwindled so much, 
and the cost of firing had risen so high, that the princes took the 
forests under their sovereign protection, and appointed a class of 
officials whose duty it was to see after the fuel-supply in their 
provinces, and look to the protection of trees, just as the police 
have to see to the protection of citizens. One result has been 
that no trees are allowed to grow longer than when they have 
reached maturity. After they have attained a certain age, their 
rate of growth is so slow that their room is needed for younger 
plants, and they are cut down. Thus a pine reaches its perfec- 
tion after its thirtieth year, and goes back after its eightieth. 
As a rule, a forest is cleared and replanted every thirty years, and 
it is an exception anywhere to see an older pine or beech. But 
the Bohmer Wald has not been subject to this policemen t, and 
there do remain in it magnificent pines and deciduous trees several 
hundred years old. At Risted is a very ancient and large lime- 
tree, and near Eysenstein is 'Die grosse Tanne,' probably the 
mightiest pine in Europe ; it is a silver fir, 1 12 feet high. On the 
sides of the Rahel these giants are more numerous ; their immense 
clear boles stand up like the pillars of a cathedral. Unfortunately 
the winter storms are fast laying them low. 

In a little inn of the forest I made acquaintance with the 



THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 271 

Liigen-messer. This is a knife about three feet long, suspended 
from the ceiling, the blade hung with little bells. It puzzled me 
considerably till I obtained an explanation of its purpose from the 
Mellnerinn. When any one of the party drinking and smoking in 
the guest-room makes a statement the truth of which is doubted 
by his companions, it would be indelicate and injudicious to give 
him the lie ; that might lead to a broil, and knives drawn. Accord- 
ingly one of the party pulls a cord, like a bell-pull, against the 
wall ; this at once sets the knife in oscillation and tingles the little 
bells. Thereupon the speaker is allowed to retract, or modify 
his statement, or he must substantiate it with reasonable argu- 
ments. Let me recommend the adoption of the Liigen-messer in 
nurseries ; it would produce an excellent moral effect on children, 
and do away with the employment of the back of the hair-brush, 
with which I was taught to distinguish between right and wrong. 

Our visit to Eysenstein was enlivened by a study of life. In 
the inn was staying a Bohemian family from Prague, consisting of 
a heavy father, a mother with the voice of a rooster who has crowed 
all the fine notes out of his head, and two daughters, the eldest 
decidedly pretty, with large dark eyes, wavy black hair, and a 
charming colour. She knew how to dress, which is more than 
most girls do east of the Rhine ; she had a cherry-coloured ribbon 
woven in her glossy dark hair, and a crimson kerchief about her 
neck. The other girl was what the Germans call a Bach-fisch a 
school missie, just lengthening her frocks. Staying in the same 
inn was a young German-American, from New York, who had fallen 
over head and ears in love with the charming Ludmila Gizbriczky, 
and was prosecuting siege-operations with vigour. Before a meal 
he appeared with a posy of mountain flowers, which he put in 
her napkin, and which I, when his back was turned, transferred, 
unperceived, to that of the heavy father or crowing mother. 
But when she did find the bouquet, it was a study to see 
how she tormented him with it. * Oh ! these charming forget-me- 
nots ! These delicate primulas ! Surely I saw them yesterday in 
the posy that adorns the table at table-d'hote ; and, indeed, that is 
the most suitable position for them. There they give pleasure to 
all equally ! ' 

He delighted in conversing with her in English, which she 
spoke in a fashion, little knowing that two Englishmen were 
close by, till, thinking it unfair to let the love-making proceed 
thus, we conversed together in a loud tone to proclaim our nation- 



272 THE BOHEMIAN FOREST. 

ality. Then a startled silence fell on the speakers, broken only by 
the snores of the father who had gone to sleep. After dinner, at 
a whisper from Ludmila, the Bach-fisch was detailed to question 
us, whether we knew anything of the young man, his parentage, 
and profession, and prospects. Because we were English, and he 
had spent five years in America, it was supposed that we could 
not fail to know all about him. 

Then an excursion was planned to the lakes, to start at seven 
o'clock next morning ; and next morning father, mother, and the 
Bach-fisch were ready with alpenstocks for the scramble, but the 
pretty coquette did not appear till her admirer and family had 
departed. 

In the evening such lamentations and reproaches ! 

* I was indisposed to go. One lake is so much like another 
lake,' said Ludmila coldly. ' I have no doubt, however, that you 
enjoyed yourself! ' 

' 1 was miserable all the while in despair, longing to be back 
in the inn.' 

6 Oh, papa, mamma, you must have been dull companions ! 
Herr Stauff says he found the excursion utterly uninteresting.' 

Blushes of shame, and stammered excuses on the part of the 
admirer. 

It really was a pretty sight to see how she played him. 

We had paid our bill and were starting, when we saw Herr 
Stauff grab the arm of the heavy father, Herr Wenzell Gizbriczky, 
and say, with a shaking voice, < Sir ! a moment's private conversa- 
tion with you in the eating-room.' 

Then we knew the crisis had arrived. The fish was landed, 
and we walked on our way with light hearts. There was nothing 
further to detain us in Bohmisch Eysenstein. 



273 



DYNAMITE. 

NINE or ten miles below Gravesend, where the salt tide broadens 
between the marshes and the sandbanks, and flows more cleanly 
and more healthful towards the sea, there runs up into the Essex 
shore a narrow winding creek, between Canvey Island and the 
Fobbing Marsh. As our launch rounds the buoy and enters the 
creek, on the vast and silent highway we are leaving, there is only 
to be seen a whitebait boat at work and a lazy, drifting yacht, and 
far below in the distance towards Southend the tanned sails of a 
fleet of barges coming out of the Medway with bricks and lime 
and making for London Bridge. On Canvey Island, round the 
Coastguard station, the sheep feed quietly, and along the shelving 
and discoloured old sea-wall, built by the Dutch, and now the care 
of the Essex wall-wardens, men are scattered at work, replacing 
the fallen stones and repairing the broken groins. In shelter on 
the motionless water lie the pitch-pine eel boats, whose perforated 
boxes are alongside, full of the spoil of the Zuyder Zee ; and not 
far from the deck of the ' Matilda and Jane,' where a pair of 
unfinished oars lie glistening in the sun, there rises and spreads 
the penetrating odour of boiling shrimps. There is peace in the 
creek, and a soothing calm. There is no lapping of water nor 
shore murmur to break the silence, broken only at length by our 
captain, who gives a loud ' Ahoy ! ' and 'Hier, mann ! ' to one of 
the Dutch eel schuyts, when a ragged and blinking head appears 
above the hatches, and begins voluble explanations and excuses 
for an infringed regulation about an anchor. 

And yet in this same placid creek of Hole Haven there lies at 
rest almost dynamite enough, if judiciously placed and scientifically 
fired, to reduce London to splinters : enough almost, indeed, to 
wreck a continent ; for on each of these blunt and honest-looking 
old coal-hulks we presently steam past, the ( Eagle,' the ' Minerva,' 
and five others of similar size, there lurk beneath the water-line 
some five-and-twenty tons of the terrible agent of destruction 
that, discovered by Alfred Nobel in 1867, has these last few 
years been so actively engaged in trying the resources of our 
civilization. 

Alongside the ' Minerva,' painted grimly black and red, a red 
VOL. m. NO. 15, N. s. 13 



274 DYNAMITE. 

flag is flying; its only protector, an old man, swabbing the rain- 
water on the deck. The thought occurs to us : < And what,' we 
ask, is to prevent half a dozen determined men boarding her 
one' dark night and helping themselves to the dynamite they 
want ? ' To which ingenuous inquiry our captain quietly answers, 

< Nothing.' 

The Nobel family is one so remarkable that, in an article on 
dynamite, a brief notice of them will not seem out of place. 
Emmanuel, the father of the three brothers, Kobert, Ludwig, and 
Alfred each of whom is now a millionaire was the inventor of 
the torpedo, which in 1838, the year of the discovery of gun- 
cotton, he carried from his home in Sweden to St. Petersburg, and 
sold to the Kussian Government. When the Crimean war broke 
out, Emmanuel Nobel had an engineering establishment on the 
Neva, where his sons Kobert and Ludwig were employed ; 
and there, under his supervision, were manufactured those sub- 
marine mines which proved so troublesome to our fleet while 
blockading Cronstadt, and the engines for the gunboats and men- 
of-war built by the Eussian Government in large numbers in 1855, 
the second year of the war. Five years later, the works had de- 
veloped into one of the largest in Kussia ; and though, in antici- 
pation of Government contracts, Emmanuel Nobel had sunk a 
considerable amount of capital in still further extending them, 
the promises of orders were not realised, and in the end the firm 
suspended payment. The father retired to Sweden, where he 
died ; Ludwig, who had already a great reputation as an engineer, 
carried on the works for two years, at the request of the creditors, 
as manager ; Robert went to Germany, where he devoted himself 
to the petroleum interest, the rapid development of which in 
America was then the talk of commercial Europe ; and Alfred, the 
discoverer of dynamite, began to follow those chemical pursuits 
which have given him an interest in fourteen factories in different 
parts of Europe. 

With 500. saved during his two years of management, Lud- 
wig Nobel established some small engineering works, where he 
took a series of contracts from the Government for casting shot and 
shell, converting guns, and manufacturing rifle stocks, and in 
twelve years realised 400,0002. In 1875, Robert, helped with 
capital by his brother, began operations as a petroleum refiner in 
a small way at Baku, on the Caspian, his attention having been 
drawn to the industry there the year before, during a journey 



DYNAMITE. 275 

in the Caucasus in search of walnut-wood for Lud wig's rifle 
stocks. 

The story of the growth of the Baku works, as told by Mr. 
Marvin in Engineering,' to which able and interesting paper we 
are much indebted, reads, as far as petroleum can be considered 
romantic, like a romance. In the face of a hundred and twenty 
other refineries and the most stupendous difficulties of transport, 
the Nobel Brothers' Production Company (familiar to Kussians as 
the Tovarishchestvo Nephtanavo Proisvodstva Bratieff Nobel) has 
gradually grown, until at the present time they supply the whole 
of Kussia with oil, and, since the opening of the Baku-Batoum 
railway, will no doubt supply a great part of Europe, India, and 
China. They have succeeded in driving all American kerosene 
out of their home markets, and, now that the chasm between 
Baku and Europe is being bridged over, will scarcely find difficulty 
in treating it in the same manner abroad. The Caspian industry 
is one of the oldest and most fruitful in the world ; the petroleum 
is found sporadically over a range of 720 miles between the Black 
Sea and the Caspian, but until ten years ago it lay in the hands 
of apathetic Kussians and Americans, whose wasteful and 
primitive operations have gradually had to yield to the vast 
organization of the Nobels. < The oil,' says Marco Polo, < is not 
good with food, but it is good to burn, and is also used to anoint 
camels that have the mange.' And this oil that is good to burn, 
all through the long summer twilights the petroleum trains are 
carrying to the country depots for winter storage and use. 
Through sixty miles of pipes the oil runs down from the wells to 
the port of Baku, where it is shipped on to the transport steamers 
of the Volga, and trains and steamers all converge on the huge 
depots of Orel, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Warsaw, and Saratoff, 
where the reservoirs of each will hold eighteen million gallons of 
burning oil, and whence it is sold to the provincial dealers, who 
carry it away in barrels to their stores. Of the sixty million 
gallons of kerosene that are carried over Kussia by the firm in the 
year, not a drop is sold except for ready cash. This vast enter- 
prise, now that Robert Nobel has retired from it in ill-health, is 
directed from St. Petersburg by his brother Ludwig. 

In a word, Ludwig and Robert Nobel have as completely upset 
the petroleum industry as Alfred has, or in a measure will, upset 
the art of war. At present, though dynamite and other nitro- 
glycerine compounds were used both by the Prussians and the 

132 



276 DYNAMITE. 

French at the siege of Paris and throughout the war, the only 
foreign nation that imports them for purposes of offence is 
the Chinese. In this country they are used solely for blasting 
and the sinking of coal-mine shafts. 

Dynamite, which has been described by Sir Frederick Abel as 
* one of the safest, most powerful, and most convenient explosive 
agents applicable to industrial purposes,' in its simplest form 
closely resembles moist brown sugar, and is nitro-glycerine 
absorbed in any inert base. It is not yet twenty years old, 
having been first offered for sale in June 1867, when, owing to 
the strong prejudice against its chief ingredient, it began by 
making only slow progress. In the form in which it is licensed 
for importation and use in this country, dynamite must consist of 
75 per cent, of nitro-glycerine and 25 per cent, of an infusorial 
earth known as kieselguhr. 

Of dynamite properly so called there are only two kinds, dis- 
tinguished as dynamite No. I. and No. II. No. I. is composed of 
75 per cent, of nitro-glycerine and 25 per cent, of the infusorial 
earth kieselguhr ; No. II. of 1 8 per cent, of nitro-glycerine and 
82 per cent, of a pulverised preparation composed of nitrate of 
potash, charcoal, and paraffin ; a mixture introduced to replace 
gunpowder in coal-working where dynamite No. I. was too power- 
ful, but now, as Colonel Majendie tells us, practically non-existent 
owing to its want of commercial success. In every ton of dynamite 
that leaves Mr. Nobel's factory of Ardeer, in Ayrshire, there are 
1*15 tons of highly concentrated nitric acid, 2 tons of extra 
strong sulphuric acid, 9 cwts. of glycerine these three forming 
the nitro-glycerine and 5 cwts. of the inert base, dried kieselguhr. 
The history of nitro-glycerine, the chief ingredient of dynamite, 
may be briefly sketched. 

From the days of Schwartz of (zoslar, in Brunswick, the Cordelier 
friar of 1320, to whom the invention of gunpowder is generally at- 
tributed, to the end of the last century, nothing to compare with it 
as an explosive was discovered. That ancient mixture, as has been 
often pointed out, possesses a power of adapting itself to purposes of 
the most varied nature that is truly admirable. * In a mine, it 
blasts without propelling ; in a gun, it propels without blasting ; 
in a shell, it serves both purposes combined ; in a fuse, as in fire- 
works, it burns slowly without exploding. Its pressure, exercised 
in those numerous operations, varies between one ounce, more 
or less, to the square inch, in a fuse, and 85,000 Ibs. to the square 



DYNAMITE. 277 

inch in a shell.' It is because, useful in all departments, it yet 
lacks perfection in each, that modern science is gradually en- 
croaching on its old domain. 

The end of the last century marked the opening era of modern 
chemistry. It has been considered by many actually to date from 
the illustrious chemical philosopher Lavoisier, murdered by the 
Revolutionists in 1794, of whom Professor Wiirtz once wrote, 
6 Chemistry is a French science. It was founded by Lavoisier, of 
immortal memory' a hasty utterance which, coming as it did 
just before the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war, is believed 
by scientists to have thrown much additional bitterness into that 
terrible struggle. To Lavoisier, at any rate (on whose behalf 
the chemist Loysel interceding, he was answered by the Revo- 
lutionary tribunal, < The Republic has no need of philosophers '), 
is due our modern theory of combustion, and from his time 
dates the discovery of that powerful but dangerous class of 
explosives, the picrates, chlorates, and fulminates ; a class so 
powerful and so dangerous that instances of their use are rare. 
It was one of them, probably a chlorate, that caused the explosion 
at Bremerhaven in December 1876, when the clockwork con- 
trived by the miscreant Thomas having prematurely struck, as 
the package containing it was being carried from the quay, the 
scattered fragments spread death and mutilation among more than 
a hundred of the bystanders. The unmanageable activity of 
these explosives made them practically useless ; and although, soon 
after its discovery, an attempt was made to substitute chlorate of 
potash for the nitrate in gunpowder, the liability of the new com- 
pound to explode by slight friction completely barred its use. 
Between 1838, when Pelouze discovered gun-cotton cotton 
steeped in equal parts of nitric and sulphuric acid, and dried 
and 1846, when Professor Schonbein of Basle began to make 
practical application of the discovery, there followed a period of 
comparative chemical inactivity ; but in 1847, among a number 
of other mixtures of the kind, an Italian named Sobrero, an 
assistant in Pelouze's laboratory, lighted on nitro-glycerine. 

Nitro-glycerine is a very pale-yellow oily liquid, about half 
as heavy again as water. It has no smell, but a sweet aromatic 
taste, and though it is not in a strict sense poisonous, since, even 
when absorbed in the blood, it has never been known to be fatal 
to life, yet a single drop placed on the tongue will almost im- 
mediately produce a violent headache ; even the handling it, 



278 DYNAMITE. 

before the dynamite cartridges were in 1870 wrapped in parch- 
ment, would do the same. The dynamite headache ' is a disorder 
very well known in the trade, more painful in intensity, we are 
assured, than the worse form of rack due to the worst champagne. 
It is an affection for which, with many, time and custom are 
no remedy ; for, like Nelson, who was always sick his first three 
days at sea, Sir Frederick Abel, the well-known chemist to the 
War Office, never even now, hardened experimentalist as one would 
imagine him by this time to be, touches the compound without 
suffering from it. 

Mtro-glycerine is simply a cold mixture of one part of nitric 
acid and three parts of sulphuric acid (introduced to make the 
nitric acid more active), treated with the glycerine which 
most persons who have had chapped hands or have eaten 
honey are familiar with. Glycerine is obtained in large 
quantities as a secondary product of the manufacture of soap 
and candles from our common fats, and consists chemically of 
39-1 per cent, of carbon, 8-7 per cent, of hydrogen, and 52'2 per 
cent, of oxygen. Poured in a thin stream into the strong nitric 
acid, whose activity meanwhile has been developed by the sul- 
phuric acid, part of the hydrogen is displaced and peroxide of 
nitrogen substituted for it. When the proper proportion of 
glycerine has been introduced, the mixture being stirred during 
the addition and the temperature kept down by a surrounding of 
ice, the whole is poured into water, when the nitro-glycerine, being 
much heavier than the dilute acid mixture, sinks to the bottom. 
The acid liquid is then poured off and more water added, for the 
nitro-glycerine has to be purified by long-continued washing, 
special mechanical appliances and alkaline water being employed 
for the purpose. 

There is the whole process, and it is one most people, if they 
do not object to running the additional risk of penal servitude, are 
capable of carrying through. A licence for manufacture is required 
from Grovernment, but the acids and glycerine can be bought at 
the chemist's and mixed in a washhand-basin, the only part that 
demands care being the washing out of the free acids, as they are 
called, for should any of them remain, the whole is liable to decom- 
position and spontaneous combustion ; in fact, the compound's 
ultimate explosion in that state is chiefly a question of time. 
When it is remembered that in the notorious Whitehead's 
house at Birmingham, the only detected instance of illegal 



DYNAMITE. 279 

manufacture, there were found in April last }^ear something more 
than 250 Ibs. of nitro-glycerine, left in a carboy in a room behind 
the shop, and floating on the mixture of strong acids used in its 
manufacture, in so grossly impure a condition that the time of 
explosion might at any moment arrive and the house be wrecked, 
the fearlessness and devotion with which this terrible compound 
was handled, was washed free of the acids, and, by the addition 
of Ideaelguhr, converted into dynamite, and subsequently burnt, 
afford as striking and unrewarded an instance of civil courage as the 
annals of peace can well present. It was nitro-glycerine, too, in 
a like condition, hovering so to speak on the verge of explosion, 
that was carried by train from Birmingham to London by some of 
Whitehead's confederates in waterproof bags, and ultimately 
seized by the police and destroyed at Woolwich. That great 
power in the hands of ignorant men also implies great danger was 
never more clearly instanced than in this porterage of 276 Ibs. of 
the most dangerous explosive the world has yet produced, liable, 
in addition to the chance of spontaneous combustion, to being at 
any moment exploded by a jar or a blow on the crowded platform, 
or a fall from the cabman's shoulder as he carried the portmanteau 
containing it upstairs. 

For sixteen or seventeen years after its discovery in 1847, 
nitro-glycerine attracted but slight attention, and, owing in a great 
measure to the difficulty of exploding it with any certainty, was 
looked upon merely as a chemical curiosity. For, explosive in the 
highest degree as it certainly is, in its pure form it requires the 
fulfilment of certain special conditions for the development of its 
force which were not at that time clearly understood. We are 
told, indeed, that the flame of an ordinary match, though it does 
not appear to be by any means a favourite experiment with 
chemists, can be quenched in it without harm, nor under ordinary 
circumstances will any small applied light ignite it. But a smart 
blow or a strong vibrating jar was often found to do the work that 
fire could not effect. Then the molecule of nitro-glycerine is 
broken up, the oxygen combines with the carbon and the hydro- 
gen, and sets free the nitrogen in the form of a smokeless but 
fearfully destructive gas, a gas that compared with that yielded 
by the solid grains of gunpowder is estimated as three times as 
great in volume, freed almost a hundred times as rapidly. In 
partial explanation of this greater volume of gas and rapidity of 
action, which, when produced by detonation, is calculated at the 



28 DYNAMITE. 

rate of 200 miles a minute, it will not be overlooked that nitro- 
glycerine is a liquid in which all the molecules are in absolute 
contact, and of which the atoms composing the molecules are 
placed in the most favourable position for developing their power ; 
while with gunpowder, a mechanical mixture, whose chemical 
decomposition has to work from particle to particle, instead of the 
whole mass, as with nitro-glycerine, being instantaneously con- 
verted into vapour, there is necessarily time lost in the process of 
breaking up, and an appreciable interval for the atoms of oxygen 
to go in quest of and combine with the atoms of carbon. 

In 1863 Mr. Nobel, who had for some time taken this chemical 
curiosity of nitro-glycerine in hand, with a view of applying it to 
practical purposes, made public his first attempts of adding to the 
explosive power of gunpowder by impregnating the grains with 
nitro-glycerine, the earliest form of dynamite, which went far to 
prove the great power of the ' glonoin oil, J 'as it was then called. 
But its real era opened with 1864, when a charge of pure nitro- 
glycerine was first set off by a minute charge of gunpowder with 
certainty, and later in the year by the introduction of the detona- 
tor-cap containing fulminate of mercury, the mode now in univer- 
sal use for developing the maximum force of all explosive agents 
of the same class. This discovery raised the reputation of nitro- 
glycerine as a blasting agent to an extraordinary height, only to 
be checked again by a series of terrible accidents, due in some 
cases to spontaneous combustion of impurities, in others to igno- 
rance and carelessness ; chief among which were those on board 
the 'European,' at Colon, in 1866 ; at Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1867, 
when, in burying frozen nitro-glycerine, part was struck by a pick- 
axe and exploded, killing the mayor and six others ; at Stockholm, 
in 1868, when Mr. Nobel's factory was blown up ; and at Cwm-y- 
Glo, in North Wales, in 1869, in consequence of which the sale 
of the new agent was absolutely prohibited by the Mtro-Grlycerine 
Act 1869 ; nor, although that Act is now repealed by the Explo- 
sives Act 1875, is it now ever licensed for use in a liquid condi- 
tion. Before this, however, Mr. Nobel had resolved to discontinue 
its manufacture and to devote himself to the discovery of an 
absorbent capable of holding enough for blasting purposes, and, 
in the form of a comparatively harmless solid, presenting a 
weakened solidification of liquid nitro-glycerine. By this admix- 
ture with a solid substance, Mr. Nobel felt confident that, apart 
from the question of safety, the explosive power of nitro-glycerine, 



DYNAMITE 281 

however it might be weakened, would at any rate be greatly 
facilitated. The mobility of the particles and consequent ten- 
dency to yield mechanically to the force of a blow, or detonation 
which acts as a blow, would be considerably diminished by dilu- 
tion and the addition of the solid substance. 

This was done, as we have already said, in June 1867, when 
the solidified preparation known here as < dynamite,' and in 
America as ' giant powder,' was first adapted for practical use. 

The discovery of dynamite was not due, as has been generally 
supposed, to accident, but to direct experiment. The first made 
consisted of charcoal and nitro-glycerine, and, before the porous 
silica known as kieselguhr was finally adopted, numerous trials 
were made of various other absorbents, such as porous terra-cotta, 
sawdust, and ordinary and nitrated paper soaked in the liquid explo- 
sive and rolled into cartridges. During the siege of Paris, when 
the kieselguhr ran short, the French engineers found the best 
substitute to lie in the ashes of Boghead coal, and next to that 
in pounded sugar. And on one occasion, when a certain Welsh 
solicitor was much embarrassed by the possession of a large quantity 
of nitro-glycerine, which he was ordered by Government neither 
to use nor to remove, he was driven in desperation to try on it 
the absorbent effects of brickdust ; with so much success that he 
found himself summoned as an important witness to testify to the 
clearness of specification when, on Mr. Nobel's application for a 
patent, it was called in question. 

Kieselguhr, the inert absorbent base of dynamite, is a siliceous 
earth of low specific gravity, composed of the remains of infu- 
sorial insects. Large mines are worked in Europe, the largest 
and those yielding it of the purest quality and lowest specific 
gravity being situate near Naterleuss station, on the railway from 
Hamburg to Hanover. There are also large beds in Aberdeenshire, 
whence are drawn the supplies used by Mr. Nobel's factory at 
Ardeer. Its high non-conductive power, which it owes entirely to 
its great porosity, is one of its most important properties ; a power 
so high that if a piece of only two inches long be heated to white 
heat on the one end, no increase of heat will be noticed on the 
other. It is capable of absorbing from three to four times its own 
weight of nitro-glycerine, possessing the valuable advantage over 
other absorbents of resisting a greater degree of pressure without 
parting with any of the liquid explosive it holds. 

In its licensed form, dynamite must not contain less than 

135 



282 DYNAMITE. 

25 per cent, of this infusorial earth, though in Germany manu- 
facturers have produced it in the proportion of 82 per cent, of 
nitro-glycerine and 18 per cent, of kieselguhr, without exudation. 
This, however, is confined to Germany, and is never permitted 
to be imported into Great Britain. 

The mixing of the kieselguhr with the nitro-glycerine is a 
delicate operation, and entirely performed by hand. The earth 
and the liquid are constantly kneaded and worked through the 
fingers until the whole is thoroughly fused, for any little knot or 
undigested lump, as is sometimes seen in bread, would present a 
detonation point which a blow would explode. With dynamite 
properly made, concussion is quite harmless. The experiment 
has been tried of fastening it between the buffers of trucks, and 
running them together ; of throwing it from a great height on to 
the rocks of quarries ; of dropping on it heavy weights ; even of 
lighting a train of gunpowder laid on the top ; all without an ex- 
plosion ensuing. To explode dynamite, as it is now manufactured, 
two conditions must exist, and exist simultaneously a violent 
concussion and a temperature of 600 Fahr. These conditions 
were found to be fulfilled by Mr. Nobel's detonator cap, charged 
with a few grains of fulminate of mercury. 

The commercial progress made by dynamite was at first slow. 
In 1867 there were only ten tons of it sold ; but seven years later 
the sale amounted to three thousand one hundred and twenty. The 
reason was that not only did there exist a great prejudice against 
its chief ingredient, nitro-glycerine, but a great prejudice the other 
way in favour of gun-cotton. There were supposed to be many 
points of advantage in connection with gun-cotton which dyna- 
mite, or at least the dynamite of that day, could not boast ; chief 
among which were its superior chemical stability, and its steady 
conduct under the influence of fire or concussion. At the date of 
the Stowmarket explosion in August 1871, which for a time 
completely drove gun-cotton out of the market, and from which 
shock it has scarcely yet commercially recovered, there were sixty 
quarries in Great Britain employing 16,000 men who used it in 
preference to dynamite. ' So great was the confidence in it of the 
miner, that one of them is quoted as having declared, ' When 
the cotton got wet, he put it in the sun ; but when there was 
no sun, he took it to bed with him and slept upon it, and by the 
morning it was nicely dry.' That loud Stowmarket tragedy shook 
down gun-cotton and sent up dynamite, and from that day its 



DYNAMITE. 283 

position as a blasting agent has never seriously been threatened . 
The early weakness of want of chemical stability was quickly 
cured, and for the last ten years no case of explosion has been 
registered due to spontaneous combustion. Decomposition, even 
if it occurred, as it might after the dynamite had been kept for 
years, could scarcely be anything else than harmless. 

But ' the old order changeth ' is an axiom in chemistry, and the 
hours of the supremacy of dynamite are numbered. The explosive 
of the future is undoubtedly blasting gelatine, the latest invention 
of Mr. Nobel. Already on the Continent the manufacture of this 
new agent has assumed important dimensions, though here, owing 
to the stringency of the climatic test imposed by Government, 
its position is as yet scarcely established. Many of the later 
operations of the St. Gothard tunnel were carried out with pure 
blasting gelatine ; and in Austria, the richest of all the European 
countries in mines except Great Britain, the factories where 
dynamite was formerly made are now given over to its manu- 
facture. It is simply dynamite a base actif, containing 93 per 
cent, of nitro-glycerine, with a base of 7 per cent, of collodion 
wool, that is itself an explosive, in place of the inert kieselguhr. 
As a blasting agent it is more homogeneous than dynamite, and, 
on account of its elasticity, is less sensible to outward impressions, 
while in handling or cutting the cartridges there is no loss of 
the material as sometimes occurs with dynamite. Its further 
advantages are that the gases after explosion are lighter and 
thinner, and leave no dust, developing at the same time a more 
considerable power. Taking the power of dynamite at 1,000, 
and nitro-glycerine at 1,411, blasting gelatine is represented 
by the figures 1,555, in addition to which superiority it is 
capable, unlike dynamite, of retaining its nitro-glycerine when 
brought into contact with water. Sir Frederick Abel has kept 
it under water for a year without its undergoing the slightest 
chemical change. It is a satisfaction to reflect that, so com- 
plicated and delicate is the process necessary for the production 
of this new explosive, it is never likely to be made by unskilled 
persons or concocted in a back shop in Birmingham. 

The impetus dynamite received from the downfall of gun- 
cotton worked, as may be imagined, to the commercial advantage 
of Mr. Nobel, the sole patentee, and so went on working till the 
early part of 1881, when the patent and the monopoly expired 
together, and the importation, which has ever since gone on 



284 DYNAMITE. 

increasing, began. In 1882, there were twenty-four cargoes 
brought into this country, amounting in all to 1 ,008,050 Ibs. ; in 
1883, forty-six cargoes, amounting to 1,920,650 Ibs.; without 
taking into account the 67,000 Ibs. of the ' Echo ' that went to 
pieces and was lost on the Dutch coast, or the fifty tons of the 
derelict < Cato,' towed into Hull and quickly towed out again with 
battened hatches by the prudent authorities. These cargoes, 
directly their arrival in the Thames is notified, are all sampled 
by the Home Office before they are permitted to be landed or 
stored in the Hole Haven magazines, and until these samples are 
approved and passed nothing can be done with the cargo. In 
proof of the care that now characterises the foreign manufacturer, 
of the 136 samples forwarded during the last year to Dr. Dupre, 
the Home Office analyst, all were found to contain the required 
proportions of nitro-glycerine and kieselguhr, and to be of the 
necessary degree of purity. An impure or disproportioned 
sample would entail the return of the cargo to the home of its 
manufacture. This importation has, of course, exercised an 
immense influence on the market price of dynamite, which, since 
the expiration of Mr. Nobel's patent in March 1881, has dropped 
fifty per cent. 

From the magazines that lie in secluded and licensed nooks 
all along the coast, the explosive is carted inland and again stored 
at the great mining centres, to be dealt out by the licensed agents. 
From the moment of landing all the carriage is done by cart, for 
notwithstanding the clearly established fact that of all explosives 
dynamite is probably the safest to carry (apart from the 
detonator it is absolutely safe), the railway companies still 
obstinately refuse to have anything to do with it. They have no 
objection to petroleum, which in 1869 burnt a train and its 
living freight at Abergele. Over all the foreign lines dynamite 
may now be carried, the English companies hold out the last ; a 
short-sighted policy, as Colonel Majendie in his latest reports 
continues to reiterate, for it supplies the temptation to a 
surreptitious conveyance of prohibited explosives that is not 
always resisted. In Russia, before the prohibition was with- 
drawn, a Moscow firm was in the habit of consigning dynamite 
under the descriptive heading of blacking, a piece of deception 
that ultimately caused the deportation of the partners to Siberia. 
And in this country, only a few weeks back, two fellow-passengers 
happening by accident to exchange luggage, one found himself in 



DYNAMITE. 285 

the possession of boots and the other of dynamite, a discovery 
which the one who should have had the boots soon made public, 
and thereby entailed a heavy fine on the other. It is calculated 
that if the railway were to supersede the cart there would be a 
saving of 25 per cent, of time, to say nothing of the proper 
supervision and storage the explosive would then obtain. 
There would then be no more instances of 2,000 Ibs. of dynamite 
being carried through the country in an open cart, or 4,000 Ibs. 
left unguarded in a field by night, while the light-hearted 
waggoner goes and enjoys himself elsewhere. 

It now remains to consider what dynamite will, and what it 
will not, do. To begin with, like many persons who have great 
powers, it has at least two peculiarities one, that in small 
quantities it will harmlessly burn itself away, and the other that 
in a frozen state and it freezes at the high temperature of 
46 Fahr. it is extremely difficult to explode. 

For the first, it may be safely said that out of every hundred 
dynamite cartridges, ninety-nine can be held in the hand and 
burnt. In the hundredth, there may possibly be one of those 
undigested knots or lumps we have spoken of, which, acting as a 
point of detonation, would explode the rest. It is only in small 
quantities that dynamite can be so dealt with in safety, though 
Colonel Majendie tells us he has been present at the burning of 
so large a quantity as half a ton. But if dynamite may in almost 
all cases be burnt without explosion, it is extremely dangerous to 
heat. Set fire to it on an iron plate, and it is almost a certainty 
that it will burn away ; heat it from underneath, and it is almost 
an equal certainty that it will violently explode. Should any 
reader of this paper ever find himself in the possession of dyna- 
mite which he is not anxious to keep, it will be safest for him to 
strew it in small quantities, with considerable breaches of con- 
tinuity, and then set it alight. And let him be careful to withdraw 
some little distance from the scene, for though with dynamite 
properly exploded there are no evil odours, the nitrous fumes of 
it when burnt are extremely disagreeable, and even dangerous. 

As for the second peculiarity, the difficulties attending ex- 
plosion in a frozen state, Mr. Mowbray, the American engineer, 
has proved in his work at the Hoosac tunnel that the difficulty 
increases in proportion to the solidity with which the dynamite 
is frozen, and that, if the mass be broken up and pulverised, the 
ordinary detonator will be found sufficient, though the explosion 



286 DYNAMITE. 

will be one of somewhat diminished violence ; and further, that 
whatever the degree of temperature may be, twenty-five grains 
of fulminate, will be found enough to set it off. This freezing 
difficulty has been the cause of the majority of the accidents that 
of late years have attended the use of dynamite, for, notwith- 
standing the special directions issued by Mr. Nobel with each 
packet that leaves his factory, miners are constantly found (as 
they are found to light their pipes at the open Davy lamp, and 
to drive in the head of a powder-cask with a red-hot poker) to thaw 
the cartridges at the fire instead of in the proper method, by the 
application of warm water in double tin cases. Frozen dynamite 
will almost always explode by ignition, instead of burning away 
as in the normal condition, and the increased number of accidents 
during the past year are almost without exception due to the 
carelessness of the men in dealing with it in this state. In 
foreign factories it was at one time not uncommon to let them 
thaw the cartridges in their pockets by the heat of the body, but, 
as this led to the theft of an article that was at that time very 
expensive, it has been discontinued. 

The destructive power of dynamite, which, contrary to the 
common opinion, does not act downwards, but equally in all direc- 
tions, and with the greatest violence where there is the greatest 
resistance, has been greatly exaggerated. Mr. McRoberts, 
the superintendent of Mr. Nobel's Scotch factories, has pub- 
lished an estimate of its capabilities, which at a time of some 
public alarm like the present cannot be too often repeated 
and too widely known. A ton of dynamite equals 45,675 foot- 
tons, which in plainer language means that if a ton of dynamite 
were scientifically confined and fired under a weight of 45,675 
tons it would raise it one foot. A ton of nitro-glycerine, similarly 
exploded, will exert a power of 64,452 foot-tons, and a ton of 
blasting gelatine, of 71,050 foot-tons ; gelatine, therefore, confined 
and fired under a building of 71,050 tons, representing in building 
stone ninety-six feet on the side, would only raise it one foot. 
And this it will not do unless it is confined, or at least with 
nothing like the same effect. Bore a hole under Nelson's monu- 
ment and fill it with dynamite cartridges, and the result will in 
all probability be its destruction, especially if the operation be in 
experienced hands ; leave a box-full at the base, and the damage is 
a chipped stone, a few broken windows, and a cabman blown off his 
box. Nor are the broken windows, after all, a necessity ; for while 



DYNAMITE. 287 

the explosive power of dynamite is intensely local, its aerial dis- 
turbance, compared with that of gunpowder, is very small. The 
explosive power of dynamite is in inverse ratio of the cube of the 
distance, or, in more popular language, if the power exercised on 
the spot be represented by 1,000,000, the same power at the 
distance of a hundred feet dwindles down to 1. Mr. McRoberts 
tells us he has often exploded a pound of dynamite hung at the 
end of six feet of string from a fishing-rod, held in the hand 
without the smallest danger or inconvenience, and on one occasion 
witnessed the explosion of over a ton of nitro-glycerine from a 
distance of only sixty yards. It was buried about ten feet below 
the surface of the ground, which was of sand and covered with 
water, yet, beyond the breakage of windows and the bursting of a 
few doors in the surrounding buildings, there was no damage 
done. ' A little sand was thrown over me,' writes Mr. McRoberts, 
4 but I received no personal injury.' 

Dynamite, then, which has from five to seven times the 
explosive power of gunpowder, is comparatively trifling in its 
effects at even short distances. The dynamitard, with all his 
daring and cunning, has, after all, succeeded in doing us no more 
damage than gas has often done before. It would be better for 
him, if he desires to continue the warfare, to return to his ancient 
ally gunpowder, which above ground is a much more noisy and 
demoralizing agent. In the explosion at the Local Government 
Board of March 1883, when 27 Ibs. of ordinary dynamite was the 
medium employed, there was neither destruction of life nor injury 
of limb, and the damage to the building was covered by about 
150?. At St. James's Square and Scotland Yard, on the night 
of May 30, beyond a few cut faces and broken windows, no harm 
was done. But at Clerkenwell in December 1867, when 50 Ibs. 
of gunpowder were exploded against the prison wall, there were, 
according to the official report, six killed outright, six who died 
subsequently, five in addition who owed their deaths to the same 
cause, forty mothers prematurely confined and twenty of their 
babies born dead, one hundred and twenty wounded, and fifteen 
permanently injured by the loss of eyes, legs, or arms, and the 
damage to property and person was estimated at 20,000. In 
our military service, dynamite has never yet been used. As a 
projectile agent it has no value whatever, for so instantaneous is 
its action that in a gun it would burst the breech before starting 
the ball, and at present no receptacle has been discovered strong 



288 DYNAMITE. 

enough to resist its action when confined. Its only utility would 
lie in its power of destroying palisades, walls, or bridges ; for 
mines, countermines, torpedoes, and perhaps for some form 
of hollow projectile. But for these purposes gun-cotton is 
infinitely more serviceable, since in its most recent compressed 
shape it is absolutely safe in fire and under fire (which dynamite 
certainly is not; it is invariably detonated when struck by a 
bullet passing through the side of the box) ; it is more convenient 
to carry, and pleasanter to handle ; there is no exudation, nor is it 
affected by wet, its detonating power in a wet state being even 
increased. Dynamite, then, strange and terrible as is its power, 
is almost entirely limited to the usages of commerce, and, unlike 
gunpowder, which for three hundred years flourished in war before 
its services were appreciated by industry, is readier to the hand 
of the miner than the soldier. 

But the services of dynamite in civil engineering, and the 
economies it has effected in the two great commercial departments 
of time and money, can never be exaggerated. It is calculated 
that in time dynamite saves between 40 and 70 per cent., 
and in money between 20 and 40. Eailways are now finished 
a year or two earlier than they used to be, and from fifty 
to seventy thousand miners are yearly saved from the dangers 
and diseases of tunnelling and blasting, since in the economy of 
labour fewer are required. The Mont Cenis tunnel, where the 
work was at first entirely carried out by powder, took thirteen 
years and five months to complete ; the St. Gothard, considerably 
longer, where the nitro-glycerine compounds only were employed, 
seven years and six months. In the first, the work lying through 
the soft rock, the cost has been estimated at about 300. per 
metre ; in the second, at 160L, through granite and gneiss. 

Gunpowder is a cleaving and displacing agent, dynamite a 
rending and a shattering, and for each there is a sphere of useful- 
ness. For slate and coal dynamite is too powerful, but for hard 
rock and pit-sinking, for the removal of subaqueous obstructions, 
wrecks, and submerged rocks, where materials of great rigidity 
and strength have to be operated upon, there is nothing that can 
effect the same economy in time, labour, and material. At Hell 
Gate, in the East Eiver of New York, three acres of reef rock, 
lying 26 feet below mean low-water level, were, after four years 
and four months' work of perforation into chambers and drill- 
holes, blown up and the passage cleared. The charges were fired 



DYNAMITE. 289 

by electricity, and in the operation the discovery was for the first 
time applied that detonation may be transmitted from one mass 
of an explosive compound to others through intervening air- 
spaces. In the ordinary work of blasting, charge-holes are drilled, 
and into them are tightly fitted with a wooden rammer a sufficient 
number of dynamite cartridges. At the top is fixed the primer, 
a smaller cartridge, into which is placed the long detonator-cap of 
fulminate of mercury, closely fitted with a fuse. Dynamite has 
the advantage over other more powerful explosives that owing to 
its plasticity it can be moulded into the bore-hole, and so fits 
tightly. Gun-cotton is rigid, and nitro-glycerine in its pure state 
is apt to escape through the fissures and be dangerously wasted. 
Numberless accidents have occurred through lighting, in boring, 
on some of the old escaped nitro-glycerine, which, on being struck, 
invariably explodes. 

But, after all, it is not in its relations to blasting and tunnel- 
ling that the public mind feels interest in dynamite, so much as 
in the part it has of late years been playing in outrage, and the 
almost terrific importance it has assumed in the estimation of 
many as a murderous instrument of so-called political warfare. 
The recently detected correspondence in Birmingham, with its 
many delicate allusions to the cough mixture, and the latest pro- 
posals to drop the explosive on us from a balloon, like ballast from 
a sand-bag, bring into undue prominence its dangerous side, and 
already begin to do much towards restricting the trade in an 
article of incalculable utility. Already the chief of Mr. Nobel's 
factories in Switzerland, at Istleten, near Fluelen, finds itself in 
some difficulties, owing to the restrictions placed by the Swiss 
Government in the way of the explosive leaving the country. 
Here so much care is exercised by manufacturers and agents that 
it is exceedingly improbable dynamite will ever be purchased from 
them for other than legitimate purposes. It lies within the ex- 
perience of most who have dealings in the explosive to be occasion- 
ally visited by morose personages in soft hats, who come to buy a 
few pounds, and who, in reply to the question what it is wanted 
for, not uncommonly answer with an oath that that is no business 
of anybody but the purchaser. It may be a gentlemanly indi- 
vidual in a frock-coat, with an engaging manner, and a park and 
a few old trees to uproot that spoil the view from his dining-room 
window ; or a German baker, who, in some obscure Teutonic way, 
has need of it in connection with his business ; or a pallid young 



290 DYNAMITE. 

man who is going out mining to South Africa : to all the answer 
is the same that they may blow their heads off with it if they 
please, but that until references of position and respectability are 
given, they will not get so much as will lie on the edge of a knife. 
The result is that in no case of outrage in this country has the 
dynamite employed been traced to a licensed manufacturer or 
agent of Great Britain. It is, as a rule, of American manufac- 
ture, and hails from the Atlas Works. The dynamitard may make 
it himself in a back bed-room, if he pleases ; but since the Explo- 
sive Substances Act of last year, by so doing he lays himself open 
to penal servitude for fourteen years, and the burden of proof, 
that the making, or even the possession, of any explosive substance 
is for a lawful purpose, lies on the person so making or possessing it. 

The exaggerated destructive power of dynamite we have 
already referred to, from which we expect it to be clear, as Mr. 
McRoberts says, that the scoundrels who attempt to destroy 
public buildings are powerless to do much harm by their opera- 
tions. They cannot by any means at their disposal lay a whole 
city in ruins nor even a street. They may injure special build- 
ings, and that is the most they can do.' And as a further conso- 
lation, it may be noticed that the dynamite employed for these 
purposes is, in the majority of cases, of the kind known as lignin- 
dynamite, a wholly unlicensed explosive, composed of sawdust and 
nitro-glycerine, and in its effects considerably weaker than that in 
common use. The explosions in Glasgow, and some of those in 
London, were chiefly distinguished for their childishness, their one 
redeeming point being the ingenuity with which in one or two 
cases the old detonation system of the Coastguard port-fires was 
combined in a novel form and applied to their trivial lignin- 
dynamite. 

There is one other aspect of dynamite that must not be passed 
over, and that an important one, the sanitary. In the days of 
gunpowder blasting in mines and the old system of ventilation, 
there was an excessive mortality among miners, due to a disease 
of the lungs known as miners' decline. It was not the ordinary 
tubercular consumption, but a form developed in many other 
callings among workers in dusty places, and variously known as 
grinders' rot in Sheffield, stonemasons' decline, rag-pickers' dis- 
ease, and woolsorters' asthma. Since the introduction of dynamite 
and the common use of the nitro-glycerine compounds, there has 
been a marked improvement in the miner's health ; for though, 



DYNAMITE. 291 

as we have said, the nitrous fumes of burnt dynamite are danger- 
ous, with dynamite properly exploded nothing of the kind is 
experienced. 

Dynamite has been put to strange uses, and among them for 
the slaughtering of cattle at Islington market in 1877 by fasten- 
ing a small charge between the horns ; but never perhaps to one 
more strange or terrible than that adopted by a discharged clerk 
at Dunedin, in New Zealand, who, meeting in the streets his wife, 
from whom he had been separated, under a pretence of salutation 
exploded a dynamite charge between their faces and blew both 
heads completely off. 

In conclusion, it is only just, when reference has been made 
to the poisonous character of nitro-glycerine, to say something of 
its powers of healing. It has, like all other products of bene- 
ficent nature, its time of calm and soothing, when its turbulence 
is at rest and its terrible energy exerted only for good. It is pre- 
scribed in minute doses for angina pectoris, according to the 
formula of Dr. William Murrell, who has written a book on the 
subject, and in many nervous and cerebral affections its pacific 
effects are well known. It is rather, however, a specific than, like 
its earliest ally, gunpowder, once was, a panacea ; for in the old 
days, when Tommy Atkins was depressed, dispirited, or for any 
reason, military or civil, out of sorts, the most popular and effica- 
cious of his remedies was a charge of gunpowder in water. 



292 



OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 

IF the reader will take a map of Norway and follow the much- 
indented island-fringed line of coast northwards of Bergen, he 
will soon come to a narrow and fairly straight estuary running due 
east known as the Nordfjord. Near the inland extremity of this 
fjord on the north shore he will notice the name Faleide or 
Falejde. This not unmusical name stands for a white farmstead or 
two and a neat little inn set on the steep hillside just above the 
fjord in a small clearing of bright meadow and corn-field amid a 
wide expanse of solemn pine-woods. A rough and precipitous 
road here descends to a rude landing stage, showing that Faleide, 
if not of the highest importance in itself, may at least claim the 
dignity of lying in one of those alternating highways of sea and 
land which connect different parts of the western coast of Norway. 
Its fine position, aided by the attractions of its pleasant and hos- 
pitable inn, has given it a fair reputation among those who know 
Norway. Hence, in the season the arrival of the steamer twice a 
week is an event of some importance. The capacities of the little 
hotel, though supported by a dependance and a farmhouse, are 
on this occasion apt to be tested to the utmost. But whatever 
the influx of importunate tourists, the good nature of mine host is 
never ruffled. Keenly alert, so rapid in his movements as to seem 
ubiquitous, and full of practical resource, he exemplifies in a 
marked degree the worthy characteristics of his class. 

To my friend and myself, who reached the place by land one 
afternoon in the latter part of August after a rough experience 
up country, Faleide seemed the consummation of earthly comfort. 
The sight of a spacious bedroom with ample bedsteads spread 
with snowy sheets made us wish that night were come, so that we 
might recoup our limbs, still burdened with painful memories 
of hard and cramping bedstead, tight hammock, and, worst of all, 
unbedded floor, for all their wrongs. And the yet more delectable 
picture that greeted our eyes in the dining-room, the table bounti- 
fully spread with the luxuries of sea-fish, fresh meat, and, best of 
all, white breadthe prospect of such ambrosial food after a long 
course of gritty oat-cake (fladbrod) and tinned meat excited in 



OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 293 

our breasts emotions which it would need a Homer to adequately 
describe. 

Faleide seems certainly the place to rest in. So thought my 
friend and I, as in that condition of deep animal content which 
follows a good meal we sat in the roomy balcony smoking our 
cigars, and watched the deepening glow of sunset on moss-tinted 
mountain-side and snowy peak. The long twilight which follows 
sunset is one of the most enjoyable parts of the day in Norway. 
No dank unhealthy mists rise in this translucent air to drive one 
indoors. Though the rich glow of sunlight is gone, local colour- 
ing is still preserved : precipitous cliff in deep shadow below, 
alternating expanse of lush mossy growth and pine-wood above, 
have their proper hues, subdued but still distinct. In this softened 
daylight the most distant of the white peaks just visible above 
the shoulder of a nearer mountain is sharply defined. The whole 
scale of light is reduced, and yet even minute differences are 
apparent. There is nothing of the vague and mysterious here as 
in a moon-lit scene. There are no obscure regions which the eye 
baffled in its quest has at last to hand over to imagination. Yet 
it is wholly unlike the effect of strong garish daylight. It re- 
sembles that of familiar music heard at a distance, where all is 
softened, yet without growing blurred and confused. 

But it is not given to mortals to be long content. The longings 
of Homer's wanderer could not be permanently quieted either in 
the odorous bower of Calypso or in the splendid halls of Circe. 
Even now as we sit enjoying our hard-earned repose we are aware 
of new stirrings of adventurous desire in our breasts. Again and 
again our eyes turn to the brightest object in the scene, a chain 
of snow-peaks showing up to the east of the fjord, their jagged 
edge sharply defined against the faintly flushed sky, and holding 
still a faint reflection of the departed sunlight. Here and there 
the folds of a pale bluish glacier may be seen descending from a 
furrow of the ridge. We have mastered the highest of the Nor- 
wegian peaks, Galdhoppig and Glitretind, but have not yet tried 
a glacier. The spell of that sublime realm of snow and ice again 
steals over us. As we keep gazing on those calm supernal regions, 
their sovereign spirit seems to reveal herself, as the spirit of the 
stream appeared to the fisher in Goethe's beautiful lyric. There 
she stands, her lofty figure well defined above the ridge, draped 
in a snow-garment and bearing a glistening icicle as her sceptre. 
She looks down on us with grave passionless mien, and beckons us 



294 OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 

with imperious gesture to return to her bleak but splendid domain. 
In presence of that august vision the soft delights of ample couch 
and well-spread board seem paltry and sordid. We resolve on the 
morrow to set out on a glacier expedition. 

In order to see the ice-world thoroughly we determine to make 
a two days' excursion, going by a small boat to the head of one 
of the narrow fissure-like valleys in which the fjord terminates, 
passing a night at a farmhouse, crossing the next day by way of 
one of these icy declivities to an adjacent valley, and thence 
returning homewards. Our project is looked on as a wild and 
hazardous one by the other visitors at the hotel. Faleide being 
the nearest inn to this glacier-region, the orthodox plan of seeing 
it is by making a long day's excursion, by which the base of the 
glaciers may be reached and hastily explored. Dismal forebodings 
are volunteered, dark hints thrown out about unwholesome trout 
poisoned by some unnamed quality of the glacier water, about 
bundles of hay in lieu of beds, and so forth. But our obedience 
to the behest of the ice-queen knows no hesitation. 

A brilliant sunshine the next morning favours our expedition. 
Well provided with good cheer by the dapper landlord, we set out 
with gay hearts. Our oarsmen throw themselves into their work 
right merrily, and give us a pleasant measure of our speed in the 
rhythmic creak of their oars and the hissing plash of the water 
about the keel. The scene is a joyous one, full of a light and 
colour which we are apt to think is the monopoly of more 
southern regions. Over our heads is an unbroken expanse of 
bright blue. The summits of the mountains environing the 
fjord are clear-cut against the sky, save where some fragment of 
fleecy cloud coils itself playfully about a hoary peak, vainly 
trying to hide its rugged outline with its diaphanous body. In 
this glad morning light the infertile heights take on the look of 
a rich parterre. The mosses and dwarf shrubs wearing now their 
autumn hue are a mass of warm colouring. Lower down more 
brilliant notes are added to the colour-harmony by strips of 
meadow and cornfield, shining out amid the dark woods, and by a 
red-roofed building or two, which vary the rocky line of the 
shore. Nearer still, the level surface of the fjord, having little 
colour of its own just now, reflects the many hues of sky and land. 

After a row of two hours we reach the village of Loen, a pic- 
turesque cluster of farms and huts, crowned by a white Norwegian 
church with a red-tipped spire. It stands on a knoll above a 

\ 



OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 295 

river, which rushes down from the neighbouring Loenwand (Loen 
Lake) in a series of roaring cataracts, to the joy of every lover of 
nature's exultant life, though to the despair of the angler in 
search of murmuring rapids. Here, abandoning our boat, we 
proceed on foot along the foaming torrent, and after an easy walk 
of two miles reach the Loenwand. This is one of the long fresh- 
water lakes which were once the extreme twigs of this ramifying 
fjord, but are now cut off by the sinking of the sea-level. On 
the shore of the lake we perceive a number of small boats and a 
group of Norwegian peasants. They look well in their coloured 
shirts, fur turbans, and drooping fishing caps, smoking their Nor- 
wegian pipes. We wonder at first at their standing thus idly on 
so fair a morning when others are busy housing the late grass 
and corn. Then we bethink us that the Norwegian, like his 
Viking ancestor, loves adventure, and will risk even a precious 
patch of corn for the sake of a mountain excursion. Our conjec- 
ture proves to be a right one, for presently one or two of the men 
approach us, inquire respecting our movements, and offer their 
services. The chief spokesman in this rather halting interlocu- 
tion was a youngish-looking fellow about thirty, thin, wiry- 
looking, with sandy hair, and quick alert manner. His com- 
panions addressed him as Jakob, and referred to him as to one 
having a certain authority. He turned out to be the owner of one 
of the two farms at the other extremity of the lake. So, taken 
with Jakob's eager face and nimble air, we close a bargain with 
him. Assisted by another oarsman (Eorskarl), he will row us to 
his farm, there he will lodge us for the night, and on the next 
day be our guide over the glacier. 

Loenwand is one of the lake wonders of Norway. It is a long 
narrow water, having the bluish milky tinge which indicates a 
glacier origin. On both sides the mountains rise abruptly, some- 
times reaching a height of 4,000 feet in what seems to the eye 
a sheer ascent. Belts of birch and alder grow low down, and a 
brilliant green grass, which higher up gradually loses its bright- 
ness and fades away among the greys of the rocks. The highest 
points, ' Tinden ' or tooth-like peaks, are free from snow, and 
look almost black against the bright blue. But on the less 
precipitous spaces between these conical eminences are white 
expanses of snow and ice. These glaciers are spurs or offshoots 
of the vast field of ice known as Jostedalsbrseen. 

As we move over the silent water, where not even the cry of a 



296 OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 

wildfowl breaks the stillness, our ears are suddenly struck by a 
dull heavy roar; we look about in vain for the cause, till Jakob 
points out, high up on the mountain steep, what looks like a 
white thread let down from the edge of a mass of ice to another 
white patch a little way below. This view of the avalanche com- 
pletes our sense of being near the realm of the summer snow. 
Though only a little above the sea-level, we are here enclosed by 
the wildest alpine scenery, which to-day, in the blaze of noonday 
sunlight, has nothing dreary and repellent in it, but rather elates 
and almost intoxicates the mind with its far-reaching splendour. 
Presently, however, we are reminded that we are still far from 
that glittering ice-world. Low down near the margin of the lake 
we spy amid the copse belts of bright meadow prettily dotted with 
cattle of various hues. And now we see a boat pulled by girls in 
red kerchiefs, and laden with moist herbage cut from those pre- 
cipitous sides, and on its way to one of the few farms which thrive 
about the lake. 

In the full heat of the day we land near the extremity of the 
long lake on a flat stretch of meadow, on which stand two groups 
of buildings. These are the farms constituting what is known as 
Naesdal. A momentary plunge in the stinging glacier water, an 
action which Jakob watches with a frankly expressed amazement, 
completes our readiness for lunch. Jakob then conducts us to 
his farmstead, the nearer of the two clusters of buildings. It 
turns out to be quite a small hamlet, consisting of dwelling- 
houses of various shades of respectability and out-houses (barns, 
&c.) Jakob's own dwelling, for which we make, is by no means 
the most attractive-looking of the group ; nor does a glimpse into 
the interior reconcile us to its dingy exterior. We find ourselves 
in a dark, dirty-looking kitchen. In a corner on a thick hearth- 
stone burns a wood fire, which sends its smoke curling about the 
upper spaces of the room till it finds its outlet in a square hole 
at the apex of the roof. To make the scene still more dreary, the 
room was being swept at the moment of our entrance by a gaunt 
hard-featured woman, clothed in the customary black dress and 
kerchief, who moved about her work with a stiff erectness that 
suggested a slight deformity. Jakob was for putting the room in 
order for our lunch, but we instantly decided to have our repast 
in the open, and managed, in spite of linguistic deficiencies, to 
convey our wish to Jakob with the least possible hurt to his hos- 
pitable Norwegian soul. 



OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 297 

We chose a curious site for a picnic just beyond the farm 
buildings. We looked towards what seemed to be the end of the 
narrow valley in which the long Loenwand terminated. So nar- 
row was it, that though it was not much past one o'clock one of 
its steep wall-like sides was in deep shadow. The level floor was 
bathed in light. In the foreground was a sweep of meadow and 
cornfield. On this stood long hurdles, on which grass was spread 
out to dry, and rows of long poles, on which sheaves of corn were 
impaled one above the other. Farther off were the buildings of 
the second farm, giving more warm colouring to the scene in the 
rich browns of their pine walls and the gayer tints of the mosses 
and long grasses which decked their roofs. As a background to this 
smiling Arcadian scene we had precipitate rock walls and towering 
peaks, and, finest of all, a wide expanse of bluish glacier descending 
in a series of easily distinguishable folds. 

Husbanding our muscular energies for the great feat of the 
morrow, we contented ourselves this afternoon with a preliminary 
'canter ' in the shape of a walk to the base of a glacier which 
descends to the very bottom of the valley. This is a rarity in 
Norway, where the so-called glaciers (Brseen) are for the most 
part vast tracts or fields of ice, high up, and hardly visible from 
the valleys, save where they send down a short rudimentary spur. 
The walk was not of the pleasantest, as the ground was slimy and 
obstructed by a thick copse of alder. But we were well repaid by 
the sight of the glacier (Kjendalsbrseen or Naesdalsbrseen). It 
forms the abrupt termination of the valley, and descends to its 
very bottom, so that the white stream flowing from under it at 
once assumes the aspect of a broad smooth current. The billowy 
surface of the glacier is flecked with rock debris, but these ble- 
mishes only serve to throw into relief the brilliant lustre and pure 
colouring of the long cavernous hollows at the base of the glacier. 
Our afternoon's expedition serves to test Jakob's fertility of re- 
source ; whether it be in climbing like a goat to some narrow 
ridge of the rocky cradle of the glacier, and throwing down a rope 
to aid us in clambering along the crags, or in plunging into the 
icy stream with one of us on his back, he proves himself so quick 
in practical device, and so agile in performance, that we feel our 
confidence deepening with each hour. When we found that in 
addition to these useful qualities he was endowed with an abun- 
dance of good spirits and a child-like love of fun, we congratu- 
lated ourselves on having secured so excellent a companion. 

VOL. m. NO. 15, N. s. 14 



298 OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 

As we walked briskly homewards in the rapidly cooling 
air, we heard strange sounds in the distance. Clear, pene- 
trating, long-sustained vocal notes, following one another after 
short intervals, each dying away in a series of reverberations ; 
then a continuous cadence of song, as though the idea of 
melody had for the first time flashed on the human brain. Soon, 
the pleasant tinkling of bells filled the intervals left by this wild 
half-formed vocal music. And now, as the alder copse grew less 
dense, we could spy threads of white and coloured kine moving 
down the steep mountain-sides. Presently we came on a striking 
scene. On a patch of grass cleared of wood stood a number of 
cow-huts. Here were gathered some half-dozen girls attired in 
the usual short skirt and red kerchief, attended by a swain or two, 
evidently awaiting the arrival of the herd. Soon they came 
trooping in, looking pretty enough with their daintily formed 
limbs and their delicate cream tints. But though they had 
readily obeyed the sirens' call, they required a good deal of 
coaxing to draw them into their stalls. The girls were evidently 
accustomed to petting ; and addressing this one by name, conci- 
liating another by a pat or a pinch of salt, they soon succeeded in 
housing these lovers of mountain freedom. Only in one or two 
instances did a maid get out of temper with one of the more re- 
fractory of her charge, substituting an explosive grunt or even a 
blow for the seductive call and caressing pat. 

We felt chilly on arriving at the farm, which had to be reached 
by a row across the head of the lake, and were disappointed at find- 
ing only a few embers on the hearth. Jakob, ever on the alert, ob- 
serving our look of misery as we crouched over the bare hearth- 
stone, fetched some fuel, and soon elicited a genial blaze. But, 
just as we were beginning to regain a sense of warmth, our host, 
to our immense disgust, brought a basin of water and extinguished 
the fire. He then proceeded to close the opening at the top of 
the roof. In this way the room became impregnated with warm 
air, in which we could distinctly taste the smoke. Consoling 
ourselves that this was better than freezing, we awaited with some 
slight misgivings the advent of supper. Our anxieties on this 
score were soon set at rest by an excellent repast, consisting of 
fine plump trout (which might have been intended as a refutation 
of the gross libel of the people at Faleide), good potatoes, and 
still better coffee. Yet, while thus relieved of all fear of being 
starved or poisoned, our minds were still oppressed with one 
anxiety that concerning the quality of our beds. So far there 



OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 299 

was nothing to indicate whether we were to have such a thing as 
a bed at all. Soon after supper, however, this last source of 
anxiety was removed by the arrival of two bedsteads, with ample 
supply of bedding, including clean white sheets. 

Now, we thought to ourselves, the anxieties of the day are over. 
But an unexpected source of trouble arose. Jakob's wife, the 
lugubrious figure already described, waited on us this evening 
with a miserable, sickly looking baby in her arms. Every now 
and then this wan and puny creature uttered a cry which had 
something peculiarly dispiriting in it. We naturally scrutinised 
the piteous object, and Jakob, quick as usual in observing our ac- 
tions, apologised for its crying by telling us that it had been suffer- 
ing from ' English fever/ We looked at one another ominously. 
When the father's back was turned, we began to speculate what 
this disease might be. Scarlet fever, we reflected, was certainly 
common enough in England to be called English, and this terrible 
conjecture was supported by the fact that spots were distinctly 
visible on the child's face. We tried to console ourselves that 
since smoke was a disinfectant there could not be much risk of 
infection in this house. Still the image of that wasted, bespotted 
infant haunted us for the rest of the evening, and even returned 
to us in our sleep. 

By this time the room had become quite animated-looking 
with visitors. Throughout the evening the door had been kept 
swinging and banging by the ingress and egress of men, women, 
and children ' house-men ' and their families,we supposed, to whom 
our room seemed to serve as a place of meeting and social converse. 
Among the arrivals was a cadaverous-looking youth, who smoked 
a Norwegian pipe in an eager and almost furious way, displaying 
a like energy in the action which habitually accompanies smoking 
among the Norwegian peasants. This strange-looking youth turned 
out to be the minstrel of the little community. For an hour he 
sang to us his national songs, in a somewhat shrill, but flexible 
and fairly agreeable, voice. There is something wild and stirring 
about these Norse melodies, with their wide excursions up and 
down the gamut, their abrupt leaps, their rugged and broken 
rhythms. The effect of the music was enhanced this evening by 
the sight of the thin, pensive face of the singer. It was like the 
voice of some worn anchorite extolling the difficult and arduous 
life of self-abasement above the feeble, unaspiring life of self- 
indulgence. 

142 



300 



OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 



After a sound night's repose between our clean sheets we rose 
betimes to Jakob's call and announcement of glorious weather. 
The sunlight was only visible on one or two of the highest peaks 
as we set out for the grand expedition. The air was of the freshest 
and keenest, and a heavy dew lay on the grass. In default of 
birds' blithe carol, morning music was supplied by a boatful of 
gay milkmaids, who, as they rowed, vented their early gladness 
in merry chatter and lively peals of laughter. It was a fitting 
supplement to the plaintive notes of the cattle-callers the evening 
before. As our ears follow the joyous waves of sound spreading in 
all directions, and causing the whole valley to vibrate in sympa- 
thetic resonance, we can hardly help believing that Eousseau was 
right, and that our civilised town life knows no fresh, spontaneous 
delight akin to this of the rough, free life of the remote valley. 

We had expected, from the formation of the valley, a stiff 
climb, but we were hardly prepared for the severe declivity we 
were now called on to attack. At first our route was indicated by 
a narrow path conducting along a ravine, at the base of which a 
foaming torrent could be discerned forcing its way between unyield- 
ing rocks, and beneath beds of hardened snow, Here Jakob found a 
waterfall for us, and a very fine one it was, though not known 
apparently to the worthy Baedeker. The real work of climbing 
began after we passed a saeter or chalet, prettily perched on a tiny 
green plateau above the dark, yawning gorge, where our path ter- 
minated. There was nothing for it now but to toil up a steep 
bank, slippery with grass, loose shingle, and here and there a 
patch of angular boulders, the firmness of which it seemed impos- 
sible to ascertain befor.e trial. Slips and bruises were frequent. 
In some places we had literally to haul ourselves up the steep by 
tufts of grass and shrubs. In front of us walked Jakob, and a 
porter bearing our knapsacks and provisions, both wearing light 
shoes, and exciting our admiration by the unfailing precision of 
their steps. As we clomb, the level of the sunlight descended to 
meet us, and we soon found ourselves in its hot rays. 

There was no relief to the severity of the climb, no boggy level, 
nor even gentle moss- covered slope, to break the precipitateness 
of this mountain-side. So we had ever and again to take breath- 
ing space by sinking down on a bed of bilberry bushes and 
moistening our parched mouths with the acid juice of the large 
blue berries. Quite a variety of blue and red berries, of different 
sizes, nourish here, some pleasantly acidulous, others decidedly 



OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 301 

bitter, but to Jakob they all seemed equally grateful. By degrees 
the labour grew less ; our muscles and our respiratory organs 
accommodated themselves to this perpetual clambering. At last 
the very recollection of other modes of locomotion faded from our 
minds, and our consciousness approximated to the stupid, resigned 
state of animals whose only experience of movement had been that 
of scaling wall-like declivities. 

Out of this dull animal condition of mind we were ever and 
again revived. Cool breezes travelled down from the ice above us, 
bringing a message of welcome. The white world began to spread 
itself out before our sun-fatigued eyes, broad glacier-sweeps 
and daintiest snow- peaks glittering with unwonted lustre in the 
morning light. Far down in the valley, so immediately below us 
that we might, so we thought, have dropped a stone on it, stood 
Jakob's farmstead. There was something quaintly pretty in the 
sight of these tiny, toy-like structures, every detail of form and 
colour perfectly distinct in the pellucid air, set in an emerald- 
lined ravine between stupendous crags. Perhaps a vague con- 
sciousness of the picturesqueness of the sight mingled with a proud 
sense of ownership in Jakob's breast as he smilingly pointed out 
to us the details of the far-off settlement. 

After a third hour's climbing in cooler air, the persistent stub- 
born ascent gave way at last to an -easy slope, when, lo ! just before 
us lay the mountain wonder for which we had so long toiled. A 
vast swelling cataract, we thought, which ages ago had its down- 
ward rush suddenly arrested, and its roar silenced by the grip of a 
mighty frost. First came a heaving expanse of ice having a gradual 
ascent, where under a sparse sprinkling of snow the crystalline 
structure revealed itself in myriads of tiny flashes. Then came an 
abrupt steep of smoothest, whitest snow, the fierce brilliance of 
which even at this distance hurt our unaccustomed eyes. Above 
this towered in wild irregular fashion blocks or crags of ice, sug- 
gesting a vast castle with intricate arrangement of battlement and 
turret. This, then, was the magnificent marvel that our moun- 
tain spirit had summoned us to behold. At this moment all our 
hot straining and panting was abundantly rewarded. 

With glad hearts, as of soldiers who have achieved the long 
dreary march, and feel the excitement of battle nearing, we made 
a halt, cooled our faces and feet in the icy stream which rushed 
from the base of the glacier, and partook of a substantial lunch. 
After considerable discussion it was resolved to consume our one 



302 OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 

bottle of wine here, trusting to our spirit flasks for meeting any 
future emergencies. Not long, however, did our sturdy leader 
allow us to recline by the cool stream. The ice fortress had to be 
scaled and conquered. A strange mingling of joyous excitement 
and childish awe took possession of our tyro hearts as roped toge- 
ther we stepped on to the frozen billows behind our active guide, 
who, with ice-axe on his shoulder, moved on with erect carriage, 
and firm and steady step, looking perfectly prepared to cut his 
way not only through ice, but, if need be, through granite too. 
The first stage of the ascent over the gentle declivity was easy 
enough. The labour began when we reached the steep on which 
the snow lay a foot and more deep. For an hour and more we 
trudged patiently up this snow bank, each planting his feet care- 
fully in the deep traces left by those of his predecessors. When 
the worst is over, and we begin to feel the declivity rounding off, 
Jakob suddenly makes a halt. We lift our eyes to see what has 
happened. The chaotic pile of ice block just visible from the base 
of the glacier is now close above us, making a fine jagged outline 
against the deep azure of the sky. But between us and this pile 
we can see yawning a number of blue crevasses, which run across 
the glacier obliquely, looking like huge rents which the leviathan 
has suffered in straining downwards between its unyielding rocky 
banks. Jakob, looking less vivacious than usual, proceeds to 
unrope us, and, taking with the rope one of our alpenstocks, he 
and the porter leap over a narrow crevasse and soon disappear. Our 
situation was now by no means an agreeable one. We had a vague 
sense of difficulty, but were quite in the dark as to Jakob's move- 
ments. There was nothing for us to do but to stand perfectly 
still just where we were, with our one alpenstock to support us, till 
our guide reappeared. This required a certain steadiness of will, 
for a biting wind blew down the glacier and made us eager to 
move. This impulse was, however, instantly counteracted by a 
glance backwards, where a few feet down, a little to the side of us, 
opened an ugly-looking fissure. Sometimes we heard distinctly 
the sharp picking sound of Jakob's alpenstock, as he felt his way 
among the crevasses. Then we could see the explorers for a 
moment descending a slope, leaping another crevasse, and working 
up a new steep. We said but little one to another. Afterwards, 
on comparing notes, we found that the thoughts of one had been 
occupied in calculating the chances of our bodies clearing the cre- 
vasse below us if they happened to slip, while those of the other, 



OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 303 

trained to legal reflection, had busied themselves in speculating 
how much we might reasonably be expected to do in the way of 
seeking out and extricating our guides, supposing they should fall 
into a crevasse. 

After what seemed to us a long hour, but which proved to be 
about twenty-five minutes, the men reappeared, to our great relief. 
The dejected look in Jakob's face at once told us that his arctic 
exploration had been fruitless. ' Too dangerous,' was his brief but 
sufficient summing up of his observations. On this he was clear, 
and, though at first disposed to rebel and to insist on pushing on, 
we instantly reflected that if a man of Jakob's eager, venturesome 
temper took this view of the case, it must be hopeless indeed. Our 
English spirit chafed sorely under this rebuff. But the sight of 
Jakob's chagrin made us almost forget our personal disappoint- 
ment. From that moment he was a transformed man. All the 
gaiety had passed out of him. He was silent and gloomy, and his 
head sank from its erect position as if with a crushing sense of 
defeat. We certainly had some reason to be vexed with Jakob, for 
he had been confident of taking us over the glacier. It now trans- 
pired that he had not crossed it for three years. Was his memory 
at fault, or had the form of the glacier so altered in this brief 
space ? Jakob is entitled to the benefit of the doubt. 

So there remained only the humiliating necessity of retrac- 
ing the steps of that long and arduous ascent. Before setting 
out we took a last look up at that stupendous ice-structure. 
Formidable, even terrible, it now looked with its rugged battle- 
ments, and moated with these huge crevasses. As the wind 
hissed over the snow, it was not difficult to imagine the voice of 
the ice-queen mocking our human frailty which had dared to 
scale her sublime fortress. The lovely vision of that evening at 
Faleide seemed now but as the cruel spell of a siren's music woo- 
ing us on to destruction. Yet as we continued to gaze, the 
exquisite beauty of this white crystal edifice, set high on the 
rugged mountain, its summit penetrating the pure, intense blue 
of a cloudless sky, shone forth fully on our sense, filling us with 
joyous admiration and chasing away every trace of disappointment. 
This is not a fortress which we had failed to climb, but a resplen- 
dent palace which we had been invited to behold. The gracious 
ruler of these sublime regions had kept her pledge and disclosed 
their splendours to our eyes. And we would go back content with 
the revelation which had been vouchsafed. 



304 OUR FIRST GLACIER EXPEDITION. 

Our descent was rapid if not altogether easy, and we reached 
Jakob's house in time for lunch. That silent imperturbable auto- 
maton in black, of which he spoke as his wife, betrayed not the least 
surprise at our return. Jakob's dinner was prepared for him quite as 
a matter of course, just as though his arrival had been counted on. 
His heart was kinder than ever now that he had disappointed us, and 
he insisted on rowing us all the way back to Faleide. Gradually he 
recovered something of his former cheerfulness, and entertained us 
with wild projects of setting up an inn at Naesdalfor the convenience 
of tourists. Every vestige of disappointment had gone from our 
hearts long before we reached Faleide. Lying on our backs at 
the bottom of the boat and gazing up at the dizzy peaks, we felt 
no more stirring of desire. The soft beauties of the placid lake, 
of the cornfields, and red-roofed buildings all aglow in the even- 
ing sun, more than reconciled us to the loss of the still unex- 
plored recesses of that snow-world. It was late in the evening 
when we arrived at Faleide. Jakob, who was to stay the night 
at the inn, was for accompanying us farther on our journey 
southern ward, but we bade him go back to his neglected corn- 
fields, and took leave of him with vigorous hand-shakings and a 
last repetition of some well-worn joke of the day. 

The visitors at the inn crowded about us in the balcony eager 
to know how we had fared. On mentioning the incident of the 
child sick with English fever, there was a perceptible move- 
ment of trepidation and a shrinking back from us as contaminated 
persons. Speculation ran high as to the probable nature of so 
dire a complaint. Meanwhile one of the company had quietly 
gone off in search of a dictionary. After a long quest he returned 
and smilingly announced that Jakob's child was suffering from no 
more serious malady than rickets. A general explosion greeted 
this intelligence. Thus blithely ended a day which had blithely 
begun, by an amusing extension of our Norse vocabulary. 



305 



THE DECEITFUL VICAR. 



SAINT BARNABAS'S Church upon 

A gentle hill did stand; 
No nicer church or gentler hill 

You'd find in all the land. 

Without, 'twas neat and spick and span ; 

Within, 'twas span and spick ; 
'Twas in the Graeco-Grothic style, 

And built of yellow brick. 

To godly eyes a church like this 

Was one perpetual feast, 
It only to be perfect lacked 

A window in the East. 

It had, indeed, A window there, 

As also in the west, 
But both were plain, and for the East 

Stained glass is much the best. 

Of course, you justly say, to put 

A proper window in, 
The congregation should have found 

The necessary tin. 

And that remark, dear reader, I 

Do thoroughly endorse ; 
The congregation should have found 

The needful funds, of course. 

146 



306 THE DECEITFUL VICAR. 

And so, 110 doubt, it would have done 

With free subscription list, 
But then the congregation, friend, 

Itself did not exist. 

For all that used to enter in 

That Grrseco-Gothic pile 
Were Mr. Boodge, the Vicar, and 

His curate, Mr. Smeyle. 

Sometimes these worthy men induced 

Their families to go 
(But seldom, for, with no one there, 

The ladies found it slow). 

So generally all alone 

They went through psalm and hymn, 
While one day Smeyle would preach to Boodge, 

Another, Boodge to him. 

. 

Now Vicar Boodge was past the term 

Of threescore years and ten, 
And Curate Smeyle was bald and grey 

And both were MARRIED men. 



In time the worthy Vicar died, 
As sometimes is the case, 

The bishop sent a good young man 
To fill the vacant place. 

He was a tall and handsome youth, 

His age was twenty-six, 
And in a most becoming way 

His robes he used to fix. 



THE DECEITFUL VICAR. 307 

Do justice to his many points 

I do not think I can ; 
He had a pleasant reading voice 

And was a SINGLE man. 

And now occurred a curious thing, 

At least / thought it rum ; 
The people to St. Barnabas 

In shoals began to come. 

The congregation in three weeks 

Tremendously had grown 
The ladies took the gentlemen 

And also went alone. 

The Eeverend Taylor Blue, of course, 

Was very, very pleased ; 
He knew how full the church had been 

In time of Boodge, deceased. 

On week days he'd two services 

To which the ladies flocked, 
Filling the church with flowers and things, 

Whereat old Smeyle was shocked. 

And thrice on every Sunday he 
Failed not to pass the plate, 
For the good fellow could not see 
' Why Barnabas should wait.' 

4 For pomps and vanities,' he cried, 

* I care not in the least, 
But this my church doth sorely need 

A window in the East.' 



308 THE DECEITFUL VICAR. 

And soon there came skilled men from town, 

And soon a scaffold rose, 
Next Barnabas himself appeared 

In variegated clothes, 

Surrounded by a halo and 

A set of saints select, 
Whose names, just for the moment, I 

Can scarcely recollect. 

Then had the Keverend Taylor Blue 

The satisfaction great 
Of asking the good bishop down, 

The work to consecrate. 

This was the Christian triumph of 

The Reverend Taylor Blue, 
But soon reverses followed, as 

They very often do. 



The Reverend Taylor was engaged, 

But had concealed the fact 
From the ladies of St. Barnabas, 

Wherein he showed some tact. 

But on the consecration day 
He asked his sweetheart down 

To show her his position and 
Importance in the town. 

He did not mean to mention that 

She was his fiancee, 
But sometimes things get noised abroad 

In most provoking way. 



THE DECEITFUL VICAR. 309 

The ladies of St. Barnabas 

Soon learnt he was engaged, 
And, very justly, all of them 

Were awfully enraged. 

They thought their Taylor Blue a most 

Deceitful man had been, 
And in a body went and loved 

The Eeverend Johnson Green. 

Next Sunday our poor Vicar saw 

* A beggarly array 
Of empty benches' in his church 

Which used to be so gay. 

And afterwards he never had 

A congregation more, 
Save when his wife her debut made 

To see what dress she wore. 

And once again did worthy Sineyle 

Indulge in psalm and hymn 
Alone with Vicar Taylor, who 

Took turnabout with him. 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 
BY JAMES PAYN, 

AUTHOR OF < BY PKOXT ' ETC. ETC. 

CHAPTER X. 

TWO POETS. 

HAT on earth is the meaning 
of all this?' was the first 
question that Reginald Tal- 
bot put to his friend, when 
they found themselves alone 
together. 

6 Of all what? ' returned 
William Henry indifferently. 
6 Here are pipes, by the 
way ; will you smoke a little 
tobacco?' 

4 There it is again,' cried 
Talbot ; ' I say once more, 
what is the meaning of it ? 
The idea of your respectable 
father permitting us to 
smoke under his roof. Why, 
it was only, as it were, under 
protest that he was wont 
to permit you to breathe. 
Then, as for me, he used to 
think me something worse 

than one of the wicked ; an anomalous emanation from Grub 
Street ; a sort of savage with cash in his pocket ; whereas his 
tone to me now is as the honey of Hybla. What magic has 
wrought this change in the old curmudgeon ? ' 

* Well, perhaps of late he has got to understand me better, 
and consequently my friends,' suggested William Henry, 

' Oh, that can't be it ! ' replied Talbot contemptuously ; ' 1 should 
say if he knew as much about you as I did he would behave worse 




THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 31 1 

to you than ever. I don't mean anything offensive to you, my 
dear fellow,' added the speaker, for his companion's face had grown 
very troubled; 'on the contrary, I compliment you. It's just 
those qualities I admire most in you which would least recommend 
you to his good graces. On the other hand, if you have a fault 
in my eyes, it is an excess of caution. Come, be frank with me, 
what is the tune which has set this rhinoceros a dancing ? ' 

' 1 have had the good fortune to find an old manuscript which 
has put my father in high good humour.' 

' And the young lady, your cousin, is she, too, enamoured of 
old manuscripts ? ' 

' Well, not that I am aware of,' laughed William Henry. 

'Then I congratulate you, 5 was the quick rejoinder; ' it is now 
obvious to me that she is enamoured of you. That her affections 
were bespoken in some direction from the first was plain from the 
manner in which she received my advances.' 

' Your advances ? ' 

' Yes ; you have heard of the power of the human eye over 
the brute creation. Well, that is nothing to the effects of this,' 
he tapped his spy-glass, ' upon the sensibilities of angelic woman. 
I have never known it fail, except when their minds are preoccu- 
pied with another object. I am writing an epic, to be entitled 
" The Spy-glass," the views of which, though founded on personal 
experience, will be quite novel. And that reminds me, how often 
have we not read our poems to one another ! Why have you never 
come to see me since I have been at the " Blue Boar"? ' 

' My dear fellow, as you heard my father say ' began 

William Henry persuasively. 

' Tut, tut, I mean your real reason,' put in the other scornfully. 
' We used to meet often enough when the rhinoceros did not dance, 
when he was very far from dancing. Yet now ' 

'The fact is, my dear fellow,' interrupted William Henry 
earnestly, ' there is a reason.' 

' I have reached that point already without a guide,' observed 
the other drily. 

' The truth is ' pursued William Henry. 

Mr. Eeginald Talbot took the pipe from his mouth and laughed 
aloud. Certainly no diplomatic explanation could have been con- 
ducted under greater difficulties. ' Some people yearn for fame, 
my dear Erin,' he said ; ' to others it is very undesirable to be 
known so well, even by a single individual.' 



3i2 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

If you imagine I wish to deceive you, Talbot, you are quite 
wrong,' said William Henry firmly, < but it is true that I cannot 
be so frank with you as I could wish. I have a secret which is 
not my own, or you may be sure that you should share it. Listen.' 
Then he told him the whole story of his acquaintance with the 
Templar and its singular result. Talbot listened to him with great 
attention. 

4 It is very curious,' he remarked when the narrative was fin- 
ished, * and certainly a great stroke of luck. But it is like a tale 
from the " Arabian Nights." Nay, I don't mean on the score of 
veracity,' for William Henry had flushed crimson, * but from its 
parenthetic nature. It is a story within a story ; for if you can 
stretch your memory so far, you began with the intention of tell- 
ing me why you never came to see your old friend at the " Blue 
Boar"?' 

* It was because I had no time, Talbot. I have to do my work 
at the office, and also to attend upon my new acquaintance at the 
Temple.' 

6 You must be occupied indeed ; not a moment in which to say, 
" How-d'ye-do ? Good-morrow ! " 

' There were also my father's injunctions. I thought such a 
fleeting visit as you speak of would be worse than nothing, and 
would cause you more annoyance than being neglected ; but now 
my father and you are friends I will certainly find time to renew 
the ancient days.' 

' Come, that is better. Now shall I fill up what is wanting in 
your explanation and make all clear ? ' 

* If you please,' said William Henry indifferently, < though I 
am not aware that there is anything more.' 

< Yes, there is your cousin Margaret,' said Talbot, with a cun- 
ning air ; < you would have braved the anger of the rhinoceros and 
followed your own inclinations which I flatter myself would have 
led you to come and see me had his favour been no more im- 
portant to you than of yore. But he holds in his hand another 
hand, of which he has the disposal, and therefore it behoves you 
to be on your best behaviour.' 

< You have guessed it,' exclaimed William Henry with admira- 
tion. If I thought you could have sympathised with me, as I 
see you do, I should have saved you the trouble of guessing.' 

6 Sympathise with you ? When was son of the Muses indif- 
ferent to the love wound of his friend ? Have we not always sym- 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 313 

pathised with one another? Does any one except yourself admire 
your poetry as much as I do ? Can I anywhere find a friend more 
capable of appreciating the higher flights of mine than yourself ? I 
have done a good deal, by-the-bye, in that way since I saw you 
last, Erin ; not to mention six cantos of " The Spy-glass," I have 
written one-and-twenty songs ; some of them may be useful to you 
if your inspiration has flagged of late, for they are all to my 
mistress whose name, like yours, is fortunately in three syllables 
a madrigal or two, and a number of miscellanous pieces, chiefly 
satirical. To-morrow you said to-morrow, I think we will devote 
to recitation.' 

William Henry's countenance fell. He had heard Mr. Reginald 
Talbot's recitations before. They were not extempore, but they 
had one fatal attribute in common with extemporaneous effusions 
there was no knowing where they would end. If he had been 
invited to recite his own poetry, that would have been a different 
thing. 

* Nothing would be more agreeable to me, my dear fellow, but 
how am I to excuse my absence from chambers ? ' 

* Then I'll come to your chambers instead of your coming to 
me ; then I shall have the opportunity of seeing how your muse 
has progressed ; we will compare notes together. To be sure, it is 
not as if you had your room to yourself ; there's that disagreeable 
fellow-clerk of yours, a most unappreciative and flippant person.' 

* Yes, he would spoil everything,' put in William Henry eagerly. 
' It is better we should be alone together, even for a less time, at 
the Blue Boar." ' 

' Very good ; then give me as long as you can to-morrow. I 
want your advice, for the fact is, the business on which I am come 
up to town is about the publication of my poems. The publisher 
and I cannot agree about terms, which seems strange, since what 
we both want is money down. Perhaps you wouldn't mind my 
selecting a few of your very best you and I could rig out a twin 
volume together, like Beaumont and Fletcher.' 

' Perhaps,' observed William Henry dubiously. 

He had private and pressing reasons for conciliating Mr. Regi- 
nald Talbot, but to such a monstrous proposition as had just been 
made to him he felt he could never consent. It would be like 
yoking his Pegasus to a dray horse. As regarded other matters, 
it was true that Talbot and he were old friends or rather it would 
be more correct to say that they had for years of boyhood been 



314 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

thrown into one another's company ; the bond of school-friendship 
is, however, soon weakened under the influence of other conditions, 
as hothouse flowers fade and fail in the open air ; and moreover, 
when angered, Talbot, who piqued himself on his knowledge of 
human nature, had a habit of saying what he thought of his antago- 
nist, which was not the less intolerable if it happened to be correct. 
Their tastes, it was true, were similar, but involved some rivalry, 
and each perhaps was secretly conscious that the other did not 
admire his verses so much as he pretended to do. With the Irish 
Channel between them they would doubtless have continued to 
get on capitally together, but as intimates the paths of friendship 
had pitfalls. It must be added that Mr. Keginald Talbot's arrival 
in town had taken place at a most inconvenient season, and was, 
in a word, unwelcome to his former crony. That this was not per- 
ceived by Talbot was not so much owing to the other's tact as to 
his own conceit, which was stupendous ; but fortunately it was not 
seen. Perhaps our young friend did not quite believe in the 
Irish gentleman's sympathy with him in respect to Margaret, and 
misdoubted his ' Spy-glass ' ; perhaps he thought him, if not too 
wise, too cunning by half. At all events he greatly regretted that 
his brother bard had just now come to London, and especially 
about the remunerative production of his poems, which he had 
reason to believe would be a protracted operation. 

The next afternoon, when he paid his promised visit to the 
' Blue Boar,' a circumstance occurred which caused him increased 
annoyance. 

'I say, my astute young friend,' were Talbot's first words, 
delivered in that half morose, half bantering way which was 
habitual to him when ready primed for a quarrel, f where have you 
been to these last three hours ? ' 

* To the Temple. Did I not tell you that I generally went 
there in the afternoon ? As to the exact locality, you must per- 
ceive the impropriety of my mentioning it even to you.' 

< Still you might speak the truth about other matters. Why 
did you not tell me that old Beverly had dismissed his second 
clerk?' 

6 What possible interest could the circumstance have for you?' 
'Only that you allowed me to conclude that he was still there, 
in order that I should not come to New Inn.' 
4 Very good; then you know the reason.' 
Mr. Reginald Talbot grew very red, and his stout frame grew 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 315 

visibly stouter. William Henry, however, though more slightly 
built, was not his inferior (as he had more than once had the 
opportunity of discovering) either in courage or in the art of self- 
defence. 

< After behaving in so false a manner to me, sir,' said Talbot, 
pointing to a very considerable heap of MSS. written in parallel 
lines, ' I shall not read you my poems.' 

6 Thank you ; that is returning good for evil,' said William 
Henry coolly. * Eead them to yourself and not aloud, or you will 
set the cats a caterwauling,' and with that he clapped his hat on 
and marched out of his friend's apartments. 

It was not one of those quarrels described as the renewal of 
love ; it was a deadly feud. A woman, even if she is not as fair as 
Venus, may forgive an imputation on her good looks, but a poet, 
conscious of an inferiority to Shakespeare, does not forgive a slight 
inflicted on his muse. 



CHAPTER XI. 

THE LOVE-LOCK. 

WHETHER William Henry's short method with Mr. Reginald 
Talbot was to be satisfactory or not remains to be seen, but for 
the present it had all the effect intended. The inmate of the 
* Blue Boar ' confined himself to his own quarters, or, at all events, 
did not take advantage of the general invitation given to him by 
Mr. Samuel Erin to visit Norfolk Street. Nor did that gentleman 
make any inquiry into the cause of his absence. He had done 
his best to pleasure his son and encourage him in his discoveries, 
but was well content that ' the popinjay ' kept away. With William 
Henry and this was, perhaps, even a greater proof of the change 
in the old man than his more active kindnesses he was very 
patient and unimportunate. He would cast one look of earnest 
inquiry on the young fellow as he came home every evening, and, 
receiving a shake of the head by way of reply, would abstain from 
further questioning. Such was his admiration for the nameless 
inmate of the Temple that he respected his wish for silence, even 
as it were at second hand. This behaviour was most acceptable 
to its object, and the more so, since the reticence Mr. Erin thus 
observed in his own case he imposed upon his visitors, who would 



316 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

have otherwise subjected William Henry to the question, forte et 
dure, half a dozen times a day. He had persuaded himself that 
if once the mysterious visitor should get to know that a fuss was 
being made about that note of hand, he would withdraw his 
favours from his protege altogether. 

One evening William Henry came home a little earlier than 
usual, and in return to his father's inquiring look returned a smile 
full of significance. 

' I have found something, father,' he said, ' but you must be 
content, in this case, with the examination of it.' 

( Then your friend has gone back from his word,' replied the 
old man ; < well, it was almpst too much to expect that he should 
have kept to it.' 

'Nay, you must not misjudge him, father, for the very re- 
strictions he has placed upon me mean nothing but kindness. 
The treasure trove is this time for Margaret.' 

* Margaret ! what does he know about Margaret? Well, at 
all events, it is in the family.' 

This reflection alone would hardly have been sufficient to 
smooth away disappointment from the old man's brow, had it not 
also struck him that his niece had no great taste for old MSS., 
and that a new gown, with a fashionable breast-knot, or some 
Flanders lace, would probably be considered an equivalent for the 
original draft of Hamlet. 

1 Come, come, let us hear about it ? ' 

' But if you please, sir, we must wait for my cousin, my 
patron said ' 

< Maggie, Maggie ! ' exclaimed the old man, running out into 
the little hall and calling up the stairs, * come down this moment ; 
here is a present for you.' 

At the unwonted news Maggie ran downstairs, arranging the 
last touches of her costume upon the way, and arriving in the 
parlour in the most charming state of flush and fervour. En- 
tranced with her beauty, and conscious of having made another 
step towards the accomplishment of his hopes, William Henry 
devoured her with his eyes. It was seldom, indeed, that he com- 
mitted such an imprudence in company but if he had kissed 
her, it is probable, under the circumstances, Mr. Erin would have 
made no remark, or set it down to Shakespearean enthusiasm. 

* Another MS., Maggie ! ' he cried triumphantly. 

6 Come, that is better than fifty presents,' answered Maggie, 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



317 



beaming. ' I forgive you for your trick upon me, uncle, with all 
my heart.' 

'But what I have found is for youj said William Henry, 
firmly. 




* Just so,' exclaimed Mr. Erin, hurriedly, ' the MS. or some- 
thing of equal worth, that you would like vastly better. Let us 
see ; now, let us see.' 

William Henry took out of his pocket an ancient, timeworn 



318 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

piece of paper, carefully unfolded it, and produced from it a lock 
of brown straight hair. 

6 1 thought you said it was a MS. ,' exclaimed Mr. Erin, in 
a tone of extreme disappointment. < Why, this is only hair, and, 
if I may be allowed to say so, not a very good specimen even of 

that.' 

4 Nevertheless, sir, such as it is, it is Shakespeare's hair! ' 

6 Shakespeare's hair ! ' echoed Mr. Erin, falling into rather than 
sitting down on the nearest chair ; ' it is impossible you are im- 
posing on me.' 

William Henry turned very white, and looked very grave and 
pained. 

6 Oh, uncle, how can you say such a thing ! ' cried Margaret, 
plaintively ; ' poor Willie ! ' 

6 1 did not mean that, my lad, of course,' gasped Mr. Erin ; < I 
scarcely know what I say. It seems too great a thing to be true. 
His hair ! ' He eyed it with speechless reverence, as it lay in his 
son's open palm ; his trembling ringers hovered round it, like the 
wings of a bird round the nest of its little ones, but did not 
venture to touch it. 

4 Where was it found ? ' he murmured. 

6 Wrapped up in this paper, a letter to Anne Hathaway, which 
meutions the fact of his sending her the lock, and encloses some 
verses.' 

6 Is it possible ? ' exclaimed the old man, with intense excite- 
ment ; < oh, happy day ! Bead it, read it ! I can see nothing 
clearly.' 

The letter ran as follows : 

Dearesste Anna, As thou haste alwaye founde mee toe my 
worde moste treue, so thou shalt see I have stryctlye kept mye 
promyse. I praye you perfume thys mye poore Locke withe thye 
balmye eysses, fore thenne, indeede, shalle Kynges themmeselves 
love and paye homage toe itte. I doe assure thee no rude hand 
hath knottedde itte, thye Willys alone hath done the worke. 
Adewe sweete love. 

Thyne everre, 

Wm. Shakespeare. 

4 Most tender, true, and precious!' exclaimed the antiquary, 
ecstatically ; < and now the verses ? ' 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 319 

' There are but two, sir,' said the young man, apologetically : 

' " Is therre in heavenne aught more rare 
Thane thou sweete nymphe of Avon fayre, 
Is therre onne earthe a manne more treue 
Thanne Willy Shakespeare is toe you ? " ' 

William Henry read very well, and with much pathos, and 
into the last line he put especial tenderness, which did not need 
the covert glance he shot at her to bring the colour into Margaret's 
cheek. 

' " Though deathe with neverre faylinge blowe, 
Doth manne and babe alyke bringe lowe ; 
Yet doth he take naught butte hys due 
And strikes not Willy's heart still treue."* 

* What simplicity, what fidelity ! ' murmured the antiquary ; ' a 
flawless gem indeed ! Whence did you unearth it ? ' 

6 1 found it where I found the other deed, sir, amongst my 
patron's documents ; I took it, of course, to him at once. He was 
greatly surprised and interested, and fully conscious of the value 
of the godsend ; yet he never showed the least sign of regret at 
the gift he made me, of what he was pleased to call the jetsam 
and flotsam from his collection. '"If I were a younger man," 
he said, " I think I should have grudged you that lock of hair. 
It is just the sort of present a young fellow should give to the 
girl he has a respect for. A thing that costs nothing, yet is 
exceedingly precious, and which speaks of love and fidelity. It is 
too good for any antiquary." ' 

' Your patron is mad, my lad,' said Mr. Erin, in a tone of 
cheerful conviction ; ' he must be mad to talk like that ; and, in- 
deed, he would never give away these things at all if he were in 
his sober senses. The idea of bestowing such an inestimable relic 
upon a girl ! Why, it should rather be preserved in some museum 
in the custody of trustees, to the delight of the whole nation for 
ever.' 

* Nevertheless, sir, such was my patron's injunction. He asked 
of me if I knew any pure and comely maiden, well brought up, 
and who would understand the value of such a thing. I had 
therefore, of course, no choice but to mention Margaret ; where- 
upon he said that the lock of hair was to be hers.' 

' I'll keep it for you, Maggie, in my iron press,' said Mr. Erin 
considerately. ' You shall look at it in my presence as often as 
you like ; and then we shall both know that it is safe and sound. 



320 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

As for the letter and verses, Samuel, it will be better to put them 
for the present, perhaps, in the same repository.' 

6 You may put them where you like, sir,' answered William 
Henry smiling, as he always did when addressed by that un- 
wonted name ; ' they are yours.' 

< A good lad, an excellent lad,' murmured the antiquary ; < now 
let us with all due reverence inspect these treasures. This is the 
very hair I should have looked for as having been the immortal 
bard's, just as the engraving by Droeshart depicts it in the folio 
edition. Brown, straight, and wiry, as Steevens terms it.' 

< I should not call it wiry, uncle,' observed Margaret, < though 
to be sure it has no curl nor gloss on it; it seems to me soft 
enough to have been a woman's hair.' 

6 It is, perhaps, a trifle silkier and more effeminate than the 
description would warrant,' returned the antiquary, < but that is 
doubtless due to the mellowing effects of time. It may be so 
far looked upon as corroborative evidence. In that connection, 
by-the-bye, let me draw your particular attention to the braid with 
which the hair is fastened. This woven silk is not of to-day's 
workmanship. I recognise it as being of the same kind used in 
the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth for attaching the royal seal to 
patents : a most interesting circumstance, and one which, were 
there any doubt of the genuineness of the hair, might, like the 
impress of the quintin in the case of the Hemynnge deed, be 
reasonably adduced as an undesigned coincidence. Then to think 
that we have it under his own hand that Shakespeare's fingers 
have knotted it. Eead his words once again, my son, before we 
put the priceless treasure by.' 

4 " I doe assure thee no rude hand hath knottedde itte, thye 
"Willys alone hath done the worke." ' 

' How tender, how touching ! ' exclaimed the antiquary. ' We 
seem to be in his very presence. What a privilege has this day 
been vouchsafed to us, my children ! ' 

The two young people glanced at one another involuntarily as 
the old man addressed them by this title. 

It is probable that Mr. Erin attached no particular meaning 
to it. It may have been only the expression of the measureless 
content he felt with both of them ; with his son for what he had 
brought him, and with his niece for the readiness with which she 
had resigned what he had brought to his own custody. But to 
their ears it had a deep significance. 






THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 321 

As their looks met, that of William Henry was so full of 
tender triumph that Maggie's face became crimson, and she cast 
down her eyes. For the first time she began to believe in the 
possibility of the realisation of the young man's dream. Notwith- 
standing what had passed between them, she had hitherto felt 
more like a sister towards him than a lover ; it was not that she 
feared to risk the wreck of her own happiness by trusting it to so 
slight a bark, but that, while matters were so uncertain, a natural 
and modest instinct prevented her from regarding him as he re- 
garded her. There had been a sort of false dawn of love with her, 
but, now that her uncle seemed to give such solid ground for hope, 
the sun which had long lain in wait behind those clouds of doubt 
came out with all the splendour of the morn. Love arose within her. 

As Mr. Erin reverently placed his treasures in the iron safe, 
William Henry stole his arm round Margaret's waist : 

' Is there on earthe a manne more treue 
Than Willie Erin is to you?' 

he whispered softly : and for the first time she did not reprove 
him. 



CHAPTER XII. 

A DELICATE TASK. 

GREAT as had been Mr. Erin's joy when he first looked on Shake- 
speare's love lock and love letter, it by no means wore off as 
our violent delights are apt to do as time went on. What was 
wanting in the way of novelty was made up to him perhaps for 
we may be sure Margaret did not insist upon her rights in the 
matter by the sense of possession. For what was the position 
of the man who had in his cupboard some unique pieces of china, 
or even in his coffers the biggest ruby or diamond in the world, 
as compared with his own ? Only, as in the latter case, he grew 
not a little nervous for the safety of his unrivalled treasure. He 
was a virtuoso and antiquary himself, and therefore recognised 
the full extent of his danger. In his iron press he caused a little 
well to be sunk, in which the lock of hair was placed under 
glass, for the contemplation of the faithful, and none was ever 
permitted to behold it save in his presence. Even then he did 
not feel safe, but compelled himself to adopt a plan to ensure 

VOL. III. NO. 15, K. S. 15 



322 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



security which galled him to the quick. Just as in old times 
black mail was wont to be given by the rich to leading and 
powerful robbers as an insurance on their goods, so Mr. Samuel 
Erin did not hesitate to offer to the more audacious and formid- 
able of his learned brethren bribes, and those of the most precious 
kind imaginable. Though every thread taken from Shakespeare's 
lock gave him a pang infinitely keener than the drawing out of 
his own beard with pincers would have done, he actually distributed 
a few of these precious hairs among his friends, which they placed 
reverently in rings and lockets. We may be sure that Sir Frederic 
Eden had a genuine hair or two; but it was whispered by the envious 
(who were many) that upon applications becoming numerous Mr. 
Erin's favours grew in proportion, which, as the lock did not dimi- 
nish, could only arise from some other source of supply. 

Among the recipients who entertained this doubt, or among 
those who received no such sacred relic at all, there were some 
who had the hardihood to assert that no human hair could have 
resisted the lapse of time since Shakespeare's days. They even 
produced a Mr. Collett, a hair merchant, who came to inspect the 
lock from a distance of several feet, however and who had the 
hardihood to express this opinion in the proprietor's presence. 
To describe the effect of anger in aged persons, especially when 
accompanied with personal violence, is painful to one who, like 
the present writer, has a respect for the dignity of human nature, 
so we will draw a veil over what ensued, but it is certain that 
Mr. Collett left Norfolk Street on that occasion with much pre- 
cipitation taking the four steps that led to the front door at 
a bound : he also left his hat behind him, which was thrown 
after him into the street. It must be admitted that his objec- 
tions were as absurd as they were impertinent, since it is well 
known that human hair has survived many centuries of burial ; 
indeed, when the vault of Edward IV., who died in 1483, 
was opened at Windsor, the hair of the head was found flowing, 
and as strong as hair cut from the head of a living person. This 
Sir Frederic Eden privately assured Mr. Erin to be true, since he 
was not only present at the exhumation, but had been so fortu- 
nate, by means of a heavy bribe to the sexton, as to get some of 
it for his private collection. 

Partly from reasons that have been suggested, but chiefly 
from William Henry's remonstrance upon his patron's account who 
he felt confident would lay an embargo upon all future treasure 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

troves, if he should find the report of what had happened to inter- 
fere with his own ease and privacy Mr. Samuel Erin took little 
pains to circulate the news of his son's second discovery; but 
nevertheless it oozed out, and in spite of himself William Henry 
found himself to be in some respects a public character. Who- 
ever called to see the manuscripts inquired also if the young 
gentleman was at home, to receive from his own lips the oft- told 
tale of their discovery. This was exceedingly irksome to him ; he 
would much rather have been reading and talking to his fair 
cousin, and let his father have all the glory of exhibition and 
explanation to himself. But Maggie never grudged him to 
these inquirers ; she was pleased to find him so much sought after, 
and took a greater pride in it than even her uncle. William 
Henry went to New Inn, as usual, but it was well understood 
that the time he spent there was of little consequence, as com- 
pared with his visits to the Temple. Mr. Erin ever thirsted for 
new discoveries, not only on their own account, but because, as he 
justly observed, the greater the bulk of them, the more probable 
would their genuineness appear to those inclined to question it. 
The antiquary demands not only treasure but credit, and though 
Mr. Erin himself entertained no doubts, he would rather that other 
people had none ; just as the gentleman who kept the thousand- 
pound note framed and glazed upon his mantelpiece, not content 
with knowing it was from the Bank of England, resented the 
imputation from his friends of its having been issued from the 
Bank of Elegance. 

Moreover, Mr. Erin was secretly troubled at the continued 
absence of Frank Dennis. He could, as we have seen, on occa- 
sion, and even when there was no occasion, give him the rough 
side of his tongue, but in his heart he greatly respected him. 
The old man, thanks to himself, or rather to his temper, had few 
friends ; the bond that united him to those he possessed was 
itself a source of rivalry and disagreement. But Dennis's father 
and himself had been as brothers, and after the former died 
Mr. Erin had allowed the young man some familiarity, to which 
certainly none of his years had been admitted before or since. 

He professed just now to be absent on business, but business 
had never detained hiin. from Norfolk Street so long before. Mr. 
Erin reproached himself with having driven him away by his 
harsh behaviour, and even went so far as to confess as much to 
his niece. 

152 



324 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

6 Of course it annoyed me, wench, to see Frank so obstinate in 
his incredulity, for that he was incredulous about that note of 
hand I am certain.' 

6 1 can only say that he never breathed a word of doubt to me, 
uncle.' 

( Nor to me, yet I know he harboured doubts,' was the confi- 
dent reply. ' He stuck to them even after Sir Frederic found out 
the quintin on the seals.' 

* Still, it's only a matter of opinion, uncle.' 

6 Opinion ! it's what the believers in the Scarlet Woman call 
inveterate contumacy- they used to burn people for it.' 

'Well, but you don't agree with them, you know,' smiled 
Margaret. * You were always a stickler for the rights of private 
judgment.' 

The antiquary shook his head and pursed his lips, the only 
reply possible to him under the circumstances ; he could not say, 
* But when I mean private judgment, I mean the judgment that 
coincides with my private views.' 

( Perhaps I have been a little hard on him, Maggie, and that 
is what keeps him away. I wish he were back again.' 

This confession from the mouth of such a man was pathetic. 
What it conveyed, as Margaret partly guessed, was, that in the 
crowd of flatterers and secret detractors by whom her uncle was 
surrounded he felt the loss of his honest, if somewhat too out- 
spoken, friend. She felt remorse too, as well as compunction, for 
in her heart she suspected that she herself was the cause of 
Frank's absence. 

He had doubtless noticed the changed relations between her- 
self and William Henry, and withdrawn himself, but without a 
word of complaint, from her society. He recognised the right she 
had to choose for herself, nor did he grudge her the happiness she 
found in her choice, but he could not endure the contemplation of 
it. It was out of the question, of course, that she should reveal 
this to Mr. Erin ; but she was too straightforward to corroborate a 
view of the matter which she knew to be incorrect. 

' I don't think Frank is one, uncle, to take offence at anything 
you may have said to him about the Deed. He is too sensible 
I mean,' she added with the haste of one who withdraws his foot 
from a precipice, his nature is too generous to harbour offence.' 

' You really think that, do you ? ' returned the old man in a 
tone of unmistakable relief. < Well, in that case, just drop him a 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 325 

line and let him know how the matter stands. You need not put 
it upon me at all, but say you miss his society here very much, as, 
of course, you do. ? 

Margaret was greatly embarrassed ; the task thus proposed to 
her was almost impossible. She had never written to the young 
man before, and to do so now in her peculiar circumstances, and 
for the purpose of asking him to return to town, would be very 
painful to her and might be misleading to him. 

' 1 like Mr. Dennis very much, uncle,' she stammered, < but 



6 Just so,' interrupted the antiquary ; c this scepticism of his, as 
you were about to say, is a serious drawback ; still, if / can get 
over it, you can surely make allowance for him. Moreover, when 
he sees the lock of hair and the love letter and perhaps there 
may be other discoveries by the time he returns he must be a 
very Thomas not to believe such proof. Now if it had been he 
instead of William Henry who had found these precious relics, all 
would have indeed been well.' 

' I don't think we should grudge poor Willie his good fortune, 
sir,' returned Margaret reprovingly. She was quicker than ever 
now to take her cousin's part, and her uncle's tone of regret had 
touched her to the quick. It made it evident to her that his new- 
found regard for his adopted son was but skin-deep or rather 
manuscript-deep. The pity for him that she had always felt had 
become a deeper and more tender sentiment, and given her more 
courage to defend him. 

' Grudge him? Of course I do not grudge him,' returned the 
antiquary, fuming. ' I only meant that if Frank Dennis had 
William Henry's gifts he would be a perfect man ; you can tell 
him that if you like.' 

For a single instant Margaret saw herself telling Mr. Dennis 
' that,' and felt the colour rise to her very forehead. Her uncle 
noticed that there was a hitch somewhere, and became naturally 
impatient at finding his wishes interfered with by the scruples 
of a * slip of a girl.' 

6 Well, write what you will,' he continued with irritation, < only 
see that it brings him.' 

Poor Margaret! She liked Frank Dennis, as she had said, 
very much ; but, as she had only too good reason to believe, not 
so much as he wished her to do. What she had to say to him 
was : ' Come to me, but not for my sake.' It was a parallel to the 



326 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

nursery address to the ducks, < Dilly, Dilly, come and be killed ; ' 
only he was not to be killed, but tortured. What were the use of 
compliments ? It was like asking a young gentleman to be best 
man when he wants to be the bridegroom himself. She could 
thoroughly depend upon Willie to avoid all appearance of triumph, 
but there was no getting over the fact that he was Frank's success- 
ful rival ; though he would never say, like the boastful schoolboy 
to his less fortunate companion, < Do you like cakes ? Then see 
me eat them ! ' yet he had the cake, and it was a cake that could 
not be divided. However, there was no help for it, so she sat 
down to write her letter. 

It was a very difficult and delicate task. She had learnt to 
call him Frank, but could she address him so on paper ? < Dear 
Mr. Dennis ' was too formal, and ' My dear Mr. Dennis ' was, 
under the circumstances, not to be thought of. She eventually 
wrote, < Dear Frank ' (how dreadfully familiar it looked yet 
a fortnight ago it would have seemed natural enough), 'what 
delays the wheels of your chariot ? If it is business I am sure 
you must have had time to build a cathedral. My uncle misses 
you very much ' this sounded unkind ; it suggested that no one 
else regretted his absence, so she added ' as we all do.' Here 
with a little sigh she underlined all, so as to make it appear 
that she regretted him only as William Henry did, no more and 
no less. < I hope, for my uncle's sake, you will come back less 
of an infidel in Shakespearean affairs. The lock of hair, of the dis- 
covery of which you have doubtless heard, has, by-the-bye, thanks 
to the chivalry of " the Templar," been given to me, so you will 
understand that any aspersion cast upon its genuineness is a per- 
sonal matter. The weather is wet though it should make no 
difference to an architect, since he can roof himself anywhere so 
there is no excuse for your lingering in the country for pleasure's 
sake.' 

Had she dared to say so, she might have hinted very prettily 
that with him the sunshine would return to Norfolk Street ; but 
she was no longer fancy free. Even as it was, sisterly as she had 
endeavoured to make the tone of her letter, she feared she might 
have given him some involuntary encouragement. It was terrible 
to her to feel so confident as she did that on the receipt of it 
Frank Dennis would start for London. 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 327 

CHAPTER XIII. 

THE PROFESSION OF FAITH. 

Two days after Margaret's letter was despatched there was great 
news from the Temple. Not even on the first day, when William 
Henry had won Mr. Erin's heart by Shakespeare's note of hand, 
had the young man's face been so full of promise as when he came 
in that evening. On the former occasion, anxiety and doubt had 
mingled with its expectancy, but now it was flushed with triumph. 
The difference of manner with which he produced his new discovery 
was also noticeable. It was not only that he felt as sure of the 
.assent of his audience (who were, indeed, but his uncle and 
Margaret) as of his own, but he displayed a certain self -conscious- 
ness of his own position. He was no longer an unknown lad, 
.seeking for the favour of one who should have been his natural 
protector, for he had already won it. It was true he was still de- 
pendent upon him for the means of livelihood, and for something 
that he prized as highly as existence itself; but Mr. Erin had in 
some sort, on the other hand, become dependent on him. His 
reputation as a Shakespearean collector and critic, which was very 
dear to him, had been immensely increased by his son's discoveries. 
The newspapers and magazines were full of his good fortune ; and 
even those which disputed the genuineness of his newly acquired 
possessions made them the subject of continued comment, and 
added fuel to his notoriety. If such a metaphor can be used 
without offence in the case of a gentleman of years and learning, 
Mr. Samuel Erin gazed at William Henry with much the same 
air of expectation as a very sagacious old dog regards his young 
master, whom he suspects of having some toothsome morsel in 
his pocket; he has too much respect for his own dignity to 'beg' 
for it, by sitting up on his hind legs, or barking, but he moves 
his tail from side to side, and his mouth waters. 

The young gentleman did not, at first, even produce his prize, 
but sat down at table with a cheerful nod, that seemed to say, ' I 
have found it at last, and by the sacred bones that rest by Avon's 
stream, it is worth the finding.' 

6 Well, Willie,' exclaimed Margaret, impatiently, * what is it?' 

The young man gravely produced two half-sheets of paper. 

At the sight of it, for he knew that it was not the new Bath 
Post, the antiquary 's eyes glistened. 



328 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

4 Mr. Erin ' began William Henry. 

' Why not call me " father," Samuel ? ' put in the old man, 
gently ; if it was the sense of favours to come that moved him, 
it was at least a deep and genuine sense of them. Margaret's 
fair face glowed with pleasure. 

' I have often heard you say, father, that you wished above 
all things to discover what were, in reality, Shakespeare's religious 
convictions.' 

The antiquary nodded assent, but said nothing ; the intensity 
of expectation, indeed, precluded speech ; the perspiration came 
out upon his forehead. 

' It distressed you, I know, to believe it possible as, indeed ? 
the language used by the Grhost in "Hamlet " would seem to imply, 
that he was of the Catholic persuasion. In the profession of faith 
found at Stratford ' 

4 Spurious,' put in Mr. Erin, mechanically ; * that fool, Malone, 
believed in it, nobody else.' 

This was not quite in accordance with fact ; for many months 
the whole Shakespearean world had admitted its authenticity. 

' If it had been true, however, it would have offended your 
sense of the fitness of things.' 

* No doubt ; still we must take things as they really were.' 
Even if it should turn out that Shakespeare was not so good a 

Protestant as he ought to be, the value of a genuine manuscript 
was not to be depreciated. 

* Well ! I have been this day so fortunate as to discover what 
will put all doubts at rest upon this point. Shakespeare was a 
Protestant.' 

' Thank Heaven ! ' murmured Mr. Erin, piously. * If you have 
done this, my son, you have advanced the claims of true religion, 
and quickened the steps of civilisation throughout the world.' 

Margaret's eyes opened very wide (as well they might), but 
they only beheld William Henry. She had been wont to rally 
him upon his vanity, and especially upon the hopes he had built 
upon his poetical gifts. Yet how much greater a mark was he 
making in the world than his most sanguine aspirations had 
imagined ! And how quiet and unassuming he looked ! The 
modest way in which he habitually bore his honours pleased her 
even more than the honours themselves. 

< After all, Maggie,' he would say, after receiving the con- 
gratulations of the dilettanti, < it is nothing but luck.' 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 329 

As he straightened out the half-sheets of paper on the table, 
where their homely supper stood untouched and unnoticed, he 
only permitted himself a smile of gratification. 

' It is too long,' he said, * to read aloud, and the old spelling 
is difficult.' 

His uncle drew his chair close to him, on one side, and Margaret 
did the like on the other, so that each could read for themselves. 
Their looks were full of eagerness ; the one was thinking of Shake- 
speare and Samuel Erin, the other of William Henry and longo 
intervallo of William Shakespeare. 

The MS., which was headed * William Shakespeare's Profession 
of Faith,' ran as follows : 

WILLIAM SHAKESPEAEE'S PROFESSION OF FAITH. 

I beynge nowe offe scmnde Mynde doe hope thatte thys mye wyshe wille, att 
mye deathe, bee acceded toe, as I nowe lyve in Londonne, and as mye soule 
maye perchance, soone quittee thys poore bodye, itte is mye desire thatte inne 
suche case I maye bee carryed toe mye native place, ande thatte mye Bodye bee 
there quietlye interred wythe as little pompe as canne bee, and I doe nowe, inne 
these mye seryouse moments, make thys mye professione of faythe, and which I 
doe moste solemnlye believe. I doe fyrste looke toe oune lovynge and Greate 
God and toe his glorious sonne Jesus. I doe alsoe beley ve thatte thys mye weake 
and frayle Bodj^e wille returne to duste, butte for mye soule lette God judge 
thatte as toe himselfe shalle seeme meete. O omnipotente and greate God I am 
f ulle offe synne, I doe notte thinke myeself e worthye offe thye grace and yette wille 
I hope, forre evene thee poore prysonerre whenne bounde with gallying irons 
evene he wille hope for Pittye and whenne the teares of sweete repentance 
bathe hys wretched pillowe he then looks and hopes for pardonne thenne 
rouse mye soule and lette hope, thatte sweete cherysher offe all, afforde thee 
comforte also. Manne whatte arte thou whye consideres thou thyeselfe 
thus gratelye, where are thye great, thye boasted attrybutes ; buryed, loste forre 
everre in colde Death. O Manne whye attemptest thou toe searche the greatnesse 
off the Almyghtye thou doste butte loose thye laboure. More thou attempteste, 
more arte thou loste, tille thye poore weake thoughtes arre elevated toe theyre 
summite and thenne as snowe from the leff ee tree droppe and dystylle themselves 
tille theye are noe more. O God, manne as I am frayle bye nature, fulle offe 
synne, yette great God receyve me toe thye bosomme where alle is sweete 
contente and happyness alle is blyss where dyscontente isse neverre hearde, butte 
where oune Bonde offe freyndeshippe unytes alle Menne forgive Lorde alle 
our synnes, ande withe thye greate goodnesse take usse alle toe thye Breaste ; O 
cheryshe usse like the sweete chickenne thatte under the coverte offe herre 
spreadynge wings Receyves herre lyttle Broode and hoverynge overre themme 
keepes themme hannlesse and in safetye. 

Win. Shakspeare. 

Margaret finished the perusal of the MS. before her uncle ; 
her quicker and more youthful eye would probably have done so 
in any case, but his reverence for the matter forbade rapid reading ; 



330 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

she waited respectfully, but also with some little apprehension, for 
the expression of his opinion. 

' This is a godsend ! ' he exclaimed at last, with a sigh that had 
almost as much relief as satisfaction in it. ' There can be no 
longer any doubt about Shakespeare's creed. Is it not beautiful, 
and full of humility, my child ? ' 

6 Yes, uncle.' She knew that the least fault-finding would be 
resented, yet she could not shut out from her tone a certain feel- 
ing of disappointment ; ' it is hardly, however, so simple as I should 
have expected.' 

' Not simple ! ' exclaimed the antiquary in amazement ; ' I call it 
the most natural effusion of a sincere piety that it is possible 
to imagine. The diction is solemn and dignified as the subject 
demands. There are, indeed, some minute particularities of phrase- 
ology, and the old spelling to one unaccustomed to it may, as 
William Henry has observed, be a little difficult ; but of all the 
accusations you could bring against it, that of a want of sim- 
plicity, my dear Maggie, is certainly the most frivolous and 
vexatious.' 

' I know I am frivolous,' replied Margaret, with a sly look at 
her smiling cousin, ' but certainly did not intend to be vexatious, 
uncle.' 

' Nay, nay, I was only quoting a legal phrase,' said Mr. Erin ; 
he had gently drawn the two precious MSS. to himself, and placed 
an elbow on each of them, in sign of having taken possession. 
' In a case of this kind I need not say that anything in the way of 
criticism, as to ideas or style, would be out of place, and indeed 
blasphemous ; but no one can blame you for seeking in a proper 
spirit for enlightenment on this or that point.' 

Margaret looked up at William Henry, and with a half-roguish 
and wholly charming smile inquired ' May I ? ' 

'My dear Maggie,' returned the young man, laughing out- 
right, ' why, of course you may. Even if you detected the im- 
mortal bard in an error it would be no business of mine to defend 
him.' 

' I should think not, indeed,' muttered Mr. Erin. 

'What I was thinking,' said Margaret, 'was, that if you, 
Willie, or Mr. Talbot (who informed us the other night, you 
know, that he was a poet) had written those lines about spread- 
ing her wings over her little brood, it would have been considered 
plagiarism.' 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



331 



6 What then ? ' inquired Mr. Erin contemptuously. * It is the 
peculiar province of a genius such as Shakespeare's to make 
everything his own. He improves it by addition.' 

4 The idea in question, however, is taken from the New Testa- 
ment,' observed Maggie. 

To most people, this remark, which was delivered with a 




demureness that did the young lady infinite credit, would under 
the circumstances have been rather embarrassing. It did not 
embarrass Mr. Samuel Erin in the least. 

4 What piety it shows ! What knowledge of the Holy Scrip- 
tures ! ' he ejaculated admiringly. How appropriate, too, when 
we take the subject into consideration a confession of faith ! ' 



332 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

' True. I am not quite sure, however, whether the substitu- 
tion of a chicken for a hen is an improvement.' 

6 Now, there I entirely differ from you,' exclaimed Mr. Erin ; 
'just mark the words " cheryshe usse like the sweete chickenne 
thatte under the coverte offe herre spreadynge wings receyves 
herre lyttle Broode and hoverynge over themme keepes themme 
harmlesse and in safetye." What tenderness there is in that 
" sweete chickenne." Whereas a hen a hen is tough. We must 
understand the expression of course as a general term for the 
female species of the fowl. None, to my mind, but the most 
determined and incorrigible caviller can have one word to say 
against it. I have settled that matter, I think, my dear, to your 
satisfaction ; and do not suppose that what you say has annoyed 
me. If anything else strikes you, pray mention it. Objections 
from any source provided only that they are reasonable 9 a 
word he uttered very significantly 'will always have my best 
attention ; I welcome them.' 

'Indeed, uncle, I am not so audacious as to propound objec- 
tions. There was one thing, however, that seemed to me a little 
incomprehensible.' 

'Possibly, my dear,' he said, with a smile of contemptuous 
good-nature, which seemed to add, ' I am not so rude as to say 
" probably." ' 

He took his elbows off the MS., though he still hovered above 
it (like the chicken) while she ran her dainty finger over it, 
taking care, however, not to touch the paper. 

' Ah, here it is, " As snowe fromme the leffee tree." Now, con- 
sidering that snow falls in winter when the trees are bare, don't 
you think the word should have been " leafless " ? ' 

' An ordinary person would no doubt have written " leafless," ' 
admitted Mr. Erin an ingenious observation enough, since, in the 
first place, it suggested that an extraordinary genius could have 
done nothing of the kind, and secondly, it demanded no rejoinder ; 
it gave the antiquary time to cast about him for some line of 
defence. He produced his microscope and examined the word 
with great intentness, but it was ' leffee ' and not ' leafless ' beyond 
all doubt. ' It is probable,' he presently observed, ' that Shake- 
speare's minute attention to nature may have caused him, when 
writing these most interesting words, to have a particular tree in 
his mind ; when, indeed, we consider the topic on which he was 
writing death what is more likely than that his thoughts should 






THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 333 

have reverted to some churchyard yew ? Now the yew, my child, 
is an evergreen.' 

Here Frank Dennis's well-known voice was heard in the little 
hall without. He must have started for London, therefore, on 
the instant that he received Margaret's letter. Her heart had 
foreboded that it would be so, notwithstanding the pains she had 
taken to make it appear otherwise ; she knew that it was her 
wish that had summoned him, and that he had been sent for, as 
it were, under false pretences. Much as she esteemed him, she 
would have preferred the appearance of any one else, however 
indifferent, such as Mr. Eeginald Talbot. 

Strange to say, Mr. Samuel Erin, though it was at his own 
express desire that Frank Dennis had been invited, was just at that 
moment of the same way of thinking as his niece. If that little 
difficulty about the epithet, * leffee,' had not occurred, all would 
have been well. This new discovery of the Confession, had it been 
flawless, must need have converted the most confirmed of sceptics, 
and, in his crowning triumph, he would have forgiven the young 
fellow all his former doubts ; but, though to the eye of faith this 
little flaw was of no consequence, it would certainly give occasion 
not only for the ungodly to blaspheme for that they would do 
in any case but to the waverer to cling to his doubts. If, on the 
spur of the moment, Mr. Erin could have explained the matter 
to his own satisfaction, he would have felt no qualms, but he was 
secretly conscious that that theory of the evergreen tree would 
not hold water. It might satisfy a modest inquirer like Margaret, 
but a hard-headed, unimaginative fellow like Frank Dennis would 
not be so easily convinced. 

As for William Henry, although Frank and he were by no 
means ill friends, it was not likely that he should have been 
pleased to see this visitor, whose presence must needs interrupt 
the tete-a-tite with which he now indulged himself every evening 
with Margaret; and, though he was no longer jealous of his 
former rival, it was certain that he would much have preferred 
his room to his company. 

The welcome that was given by all three to the new comer 
was, however, cordial enough. 'You are come, Dennis,' cried 
Mr. Erin, taking the bull by the horns, fi in the very nick of time. 
William Henry has to-day found a treasure, beside which his 
previous discoveries sink into insignificance, "A Confession of 
Faith," by Shakespeare, written from end to end in his own hand.' 



334 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



'That 'must indeed be interesting,' said Frank. His tone, 
however, was without excitement, and mechanical. His counte- 
nance, which had been full of friendship (though when turned to 
Margaret it had had, she thought, an expression of gentle melan- 
choly), fell as he uttered the words ; a gravity, little short of dis- 
approval, seemed to take possession of it. 

6 Hang the fellow ! ' murmured Mr. Erin to himself, < he's be- 
ginning to pick holes already.' < It is the most marvellous and 
conclusive evidence,' he went on aloud, 6 of Shakespeare's adher- 
ence to the Protestant faith that heart can desire; but there's 
a word here that we are in doubt about. Just read the MS. and 
see if anything strikes you as anomalous.' 

Frank sat down to his task. The expression of the faces of 
the other three would have required the art of Hogarth himself 
to depict them. That of Margaret's was full of sorrow, pain for 
herself, and distress for Frank, and annoyance upon her uncle's 
account. How she regretted having made that stupid objection, 
though she had done it with a good motive, since she foresaw that 
it would presently be made by much less friendly critics ! Why 
could she not have been content to let matters take their own 
course, as Willie always was ? 

On his brow, on the other hand, there sat a certain serenity. 
From the very first his attitude with respect to his own dis- 
coveries had been one of philosophic indifference. Nothing ever 
roused him from it, not even when the scepticism of others took 
the most offensive form. He had not, he said, 'the learning 
requisite for the defence of " the faith " that was in him,' and 
moreover it did not concern him to defend it. He was merely an 
instrument ; the matter in question was in the hands of others. 

This was of course by no means the view which Mr. Erin took. 
He had not only the confidence but the zeal of the convert. If 
he would not himself have gone to the stake in defence of the 
genuineness of his new-found treasure, he would very cheerfully 
have sent thither all who disputed it. He was regarding his 
friend Dennis now, as he plodded through the Confession, with 
anything but amicable looks, but when he marked his eye pass 
over that weak point in its armour with which we are acquainted, 
without stoppage, his brow cleared a little, and he gave a sigh of 
relief. 

' Well,' he inquired gently, ' what say you ? Have you found 
the error, or does it seem to you all straight sailing ? ' 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 335 

<I had really rather not express an opinion,' said Dennis 
quietly. ' But if you press me, I must needs confess that the 
whole composition strikes me as rather rhapsodical.' 

* Does it ? Then I on my part must needs confess,' returned 
the antiquary with laborious politeness, 4 that I have the misfor- 
tune to disagree with you.' 

To this observation the young man answered not a word ; his 
face looked very grave and thoughtful, like that of a man who is 
in a doubt about some important course of conduct, rather than 
of a mere literary inquiry ; nevertheless his words, when they 
did come, seemed to concern themselves with the latter topic 
only. 

'I doubt,' he said, 'whether the word "accede"' here he 
pointed to the phrase ( after my deathe be acceded to ' ' was in 
use in Shakespeare's time.' 

' And what if it was not ? ' broke in the antiquary impatiently. 
* How many words in old times are found in the most correct 
writers which it would be vain to hunt for in any dictionary ; 
words which, though destitute of authority, or precedent, are still 
justified by analogy and by the principles of the language. And 
who, I should like to know, raised new words with such licence as 
Shakespeare himself? As to the matter of fact which you dispute, 
however, that can be settled at once. The antiquary stepped to 
his bookcase and took down a volume. f This is Florio's dictionary, 
published in 1611. See here,' he added triumphantly, '"Accedere, 
to accede, or assent to." If Florio mentions it, I suppose Shake- 
speare may have used it. Your objection, young sir, is not worthy 
of the name.' 

Dennis hung his head ; he looked like one who has suffered 
not only defeat but humiliation. The criticism offered on the 
spur of the moment had been, in reality, advanced by way of 
protest against the whole document, and now that it had failed 
he was very unwilling to offer anything further in the way of dis- 
paragement. 

He had his reasons for absolutely declining to fall in with Mr. 
Erin's views in the matter ; but it would have given him great 
distress to quarrel with him. Unhappily, an antiquary, the 
genuineness of whose curios has been disputed, is not often a 
chivalric antagonist. It is his habit, like the wild Indian and 
the wilder Irishman, to dance upon his prostrate foe. 

' The obstinacy of the commentator,' resumed Mr. Erin, is 



336 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

proverbial, and is on some accounts to be excused, but the stric- 
tures suggested by ignorance and malignity are mere carping.' 

' But it was yourself, sir,' pleaded Dennis, ' who invited 
criticism : I did not volunteer it.' 

6 Criticism, yes ; but not carping. Now there is a word here,' 
continued Mr. Erin, not sorry to be beforehand with his adversary 
in pointing out the blot. 6 Here is the word " leffee " where one 
would have expected " leafless." Now we should be really obliged 
to you if your natural sagacity, which is considerable, could explain 
the reason of the substitution. I have already given expression to 
a theory of my own upon the subject, but we shall be glad of any 
new suggestion. Why is it " leafy " instead of " leafless " ? ' 

* 1 should think it was simply because the writer made a mis- 
take,' observed Dennis quietly. 

Everybody, the speaker included, expected an outburst. That 
Shakespeare could have made a mistake was an assertion which 
they all felt would to Mr. Erin's ear sound little less than blas- 
phemous. To their extreme astonishment he nodded adhesion. 

* Now that is really very remarkable, Dennis,' he exclaimed ; 
* a new idea, and at the same time one with much probability in it. 
He was writing current e calamo there is scarcely a break in tUe 
composition, you observe, from first to last and it is quite likely 
that he made this clerical error. What is extremely satisfactory is, 
that your theory supposing it to be the correct one, as I think it 
is puts the genuineness of the document beyond all question, for 
if a forger had written it, it is obvious that he would have been, 
very careful to make no such departure from verisimilitude ! ' 

t 
( To be continued.") 



THE 



CORNHILL MAGAZINE 



OCTOBER, 1884. 



JOHN C ANN'S TREASURE. 

CECIL MITFORD sat at a desk in 
the Record Office with a stained 
and tattered sheet of dark dirty- 
brown antique paper spread be- 
fore him in triumph, and with 
an eager air of anxious enquiry 
speaking forth from every line in 
his white face and every convul- 
sive twitch at the irrepressible 
corners of his firm pallid mouth. 
Yes, there was no doubt at all 
about it ; the piece of torn and 
greasy paper which he had at last 
discovered was nothing more or 
less than John Cann's missing 
letter. For two years Cecil Mit- 
ford had given up all his spare 
time, day and night, to the search 
for that lost fragment of crabbed seventeenth-century handwriting ; 
and now at length, after so many disappointments and so much 
fruitless anxious hunting, the clue to the secret of John Cann's 
treasure was lying there positively before him. The young man's 
hand trembled violently as he held the paper fast unopened in his 
feverish grasp, and read upon its back the autograph endorsement 
of Charles the Second's Secretary of State ' Letter in cypher from 
lo. Cann, the noted Buccaneer, to his brother Will m ., intercepted 
at Port Royal by his Ma tie ' s command, and despatched by General 

VOL. III. NO. 16, N. S. 16 




338 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

Ed. D'Oyley, his Ma tie ' s Captain Gren 1 and Governor in Chief of the 
Island of Jamaica, to me, H. NICHOLAS.' That was it, beyond 
the shadow of a doubt: and though Cecil Mitford had still to 
apply to the cypher John Cann's own written key, and to find out 
the precise import of the directions it contained, he felt at that 
moment that the secret was now at last virtually discovered, and 
that John Cann's untold thousands of buried wealth were potenti- 
ally his very own already. 

He was only a clerk in the Colonial Office, was Cecil Mitford, 
on a beggarly income of a hundred and eighty a year how small 
it seemed now, when John Cann's money was actually floating 
before his mind's eye ! but he had brains and industry and 
enterprise after a fitful adventurous fashion of his own : and he 
had made up his mind years before that he would find out the 
secret of John Cann's buried treasure, if he had to spend half a 
lifetime on the almost hopeless quest. As a boy, Cecil Mitford 
had been brought up at his father's rectory on the slopes of Dart- 
moor, and there he had played from his babyhood upward among 
the rugged granite boulders of John Cann's rocks, and had heard 
from the farm labourers and the other children around the roman- 
tic but perfectly historical legend of John Cann's treasure. Unknown 
and incredible sums in Mexican doubloons and Spanish dollars lay 
guarded by a strong oaken chest in a cavern on the hilltop, long 
since filled up with flints and mould from the neighbouring sum- 
mits. To that secure hiding-place the great buccaneer had com- 
mitted the hoard gathered in his numberless piratical expeditions, 
burying all together under the shadow of a petty porphyritic tor 
that overhangs the green valley of Bovey Tracy. Beside the bare 
rocks that mark the site, a perfectly distinct pathway is worn by 
footsteps into the granite platform underfoot : and that path, little 
Cecil Mitford had heard with childish awe and wonder, was cut out 
by the pacing up and down of old John Cann himself, mounting 
guard in the darkness and solitude over the countless treasure 
that he had hidden away in the recesses of the pixies' hole 
beneath. 

As young Mitford grew up to man's estate, this story of John 
Cann's treasure haunted his quick imagination for many years with 
wonderful vividness. When he first came up to London, after his 
father's death, and took his paltry clerkship in the Colonial Office 
how he hated the place, with its monotonous drudgery, while 
John Cann's wealth was only waiting for him to take it and floating 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 339 

visibly before his prophetic eyes ! the story began for a while to 
fade out under the disillusioning realities of respectable poverty 
and a petty Grovernment post. But before he had been many 
months in the West India department (he had a small room on 
the third floor, overlooking Downing Street) a casual discovery 
made in overhauling the archives of the office suddenly revived 
the boyish dream with all the added realism and cool intensity of 
maturer years. He came across a letter from John Cann himself 
to the Protector Oliver, detailing the particulars of a fierce irregular 
engagement with a Spanish privateer, in which the Spaniard had 
been captured with much booty, and his vessel duly sold to the 
highest bidder in Port Eoyal harbour. This curious coincidence 
gave a great shock of surprise to young Mitford. John Cann, then, 
was no mythical prehistoric hero, no fairy-king or pixy or barrow- 
haunter of the popular fancy, but an actual genuine historical 
figure, who corresponded about his daring exploits with no less a 
personage than Oliver himself! From that moment forth, Cecil 
Mitford gave himself up almost entirely to tracing out the forgotten 
history of the old buccaneer. He allowed no peace to the learned 
person who took care of the State Papers of the Commonwealth at 
the Eecord Office, and he established private relations, by letter, 
with two or three clerks in the Colonial Secretary's Office at 
Kingston, Jamaica, whom he induced to help him in reconstructing 
the lost story of John Cann's life. 

Bit by bit Cecil Mitford had slowly pieced together a wonderful 
mass of information buried under piles of ragged manuscript and 
weary reams of dusty documents, about the days and doings of that 
ancient terror of the Spanish Main. John Cann was a Devonshire 
lad, of the rollicking, roving seventeenth century, born and bred 
at Bovey Tracy, on the flanks of Dartmoor, the last survivor of 
those seadogs of Devon who had sailed forth to conquer and ex- 
plore a new Continent under the guidance of Drake, and Kaleigh, 
and Frobisher, and Hawkins. As a boy, he had sailed with his 
father in a ship that bore the Queen's letters of marque and reprisal 
against the Spanish galleons ; in his middle life, he had lived a 
strange roaming existence half pirate and half privateer, intent 
upon securing the Protestant religion and punishing the King's 
enemies by robbing wealthy Spanish skippers and cutting off the 
recusant noses of vile Papistical Cuban slave traders ; in his latter 
days, the fierce, half-savage old mariner had relapsed into sheer 
robbery, and had been hunted down as a public enemy by the 

162 



340 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

Lord Protector's servants, or later still by the Captains-General and 
G-overnors-in-Chief of his Most Sacred Majesty's Dominions in the 
West Indies. For what was legitimate warfare in the spacious 
days of great Elizabeth had come to be regarded in the degenerate 
reign of Charles II. as rank piracy. 

One other thing Cecil Mitford had discovered, with absolute 
certainty ; and that was that in the summer of 1660, ' the year of 
his Ma tie>s most happy restoration,' as John Cann himself phrased 
it, the persecuted and much misunderstood old buccaneer had 
paid a secret visit to England, and had brought with him the 
whole hoard which he had accumulated during sixty years of lawful 
or unlawful piracy in the West Indies and the Spanish Main. Con- 
cerning this hoard, which he had concealed somewhere in Devon- 
shire, he kept up a brisk vernacular correspondence in cypher 
with his brother William, at Tavistock : and the key to that cypher, 
marked outside ' A clew to my Bro. lohn's secret writing,' Cecil 
Mitford had been fortunate enough to unearth among the undi- 
gested masses of the Eecord Office. But one letter, the last and 
most important of the whole series, containing as he believed the 
actual statement of the hiding-place, hud long evaded all his 
research : and that was the letter which, now at last, after months 
and months of patient enquiry, lay unfolded before his dazzled 
eyes on the little desk in his accustomed corner. It had some- 
how been folded up by mistake in the papers relating to the 
charge against Cyriack Skinner of complicity in the Eye House 
Plot. How it got there nobody knew, and probably nobody but 
Cecil Mitford himself could ever have succeeded in solving the 
mystery. 

As he gazed, trembling, at the precious piece of dusty much- 
creased paper, scribbled over in the unlettered schoolboy hand of 
the wild old seadog, Cecil Mitford could hardly restrain himself 
for a moment 'from uttering a cry. Untold wealth swam before 
his eyes : he could marry Ethel now, and let her drive in her own 
carriage ! He couldn't even read the words, he was so triumphant 
and excited. But after a minute or two he recovered his com- 
posure sufficiently to begin deciphering the crabbed writing, which 
constant practice and familiarity with the system enabled him to 
do immediately, without even referring to the key. And this was 
what, after a few minutes' inspection, Cecil Mitford slowly spelled 
out of the dirty manuscript : 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 341 



' From Jamaica. This 23rd day 

in the Yeare of our Lord 1663. 

6 My deare Bro., I did not think to have written you againe, 
after the scurvie Trick you have played me in disclosing my Affairs 
to that meddlesome Knight that calls himself the King's Secretary: 
but in truth your last Letter hath so moved me by your Vileness 
that I must needs reply thereto with all Expedicion. These are to 
assure you then, that let you pray how you may, or gloze over your 
base treatment with fine cozening Words and fair Promises, you 
shall have neither lot nor scot in my Threasure, which is indeed as 
you surmise hidden away in England, but the Secret whereof I shall 
impart neither to you nor to no man. I have give commands, 
therefore, that the Paper whereunto I have committed the place of 
its hiding shall be buried with my own Body (when God please) 
in the grave-yarde at Port Royal in this Island : so that you shall 
never be bettered one Penny by your most Damnable Treachery 
and Double-facedness. For I know you, my deare Bro., in very 
truth for a prating Coxcomb, a scurvie cowardlie Knave, and a 
lying Thief of other Men's Reputations. Therefore, no more here- 
with from your very humble Ser vt and Loving Bro., 

, Capt n -' 



Cecil Mitford laid the paper down as he finished reading it with 
a face even whiter and paler than before, and with the muscles of 
his mouth trembling violently with suppressed emotion. At the 
exact second when he felt sure he had discovered the momentous 
secret, it had slipped mysteriously through his very fingers, and 
seemed now to float away into the remote distance, almost as far 
away from his eager grasp as ever. Even there, in the musty 
Record Office, before all the clerks and scholars who were sitting 
about working carelessly at their desks at mere dilettante his- 
torical problems the stupid prigs, how he hated them ! he could 
hardly restrain the expression of his pent-up feelings at that bitter 
disappointment in the very hour of his fancied triumph. Jamaica ! 
How absolutely distant and unapproachable it sounded ! How 
hopeless the attempt to follow up the clue ! How utterly his day- 
dream had been dashed to the ground in those three minutes of 
silent deciphering ! He felt as if the solid earth was reeling 
beneath him, and he would have given the whole world if he could 
have put his face between his two hands on the desk and cried 
like a woman before the whole Record Office. 



342 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

For half an hour by the clock he sat there dazed and motionless, 
gazing in a blank disappointed fashion at the sheet of coffee- 
coloured paper in front of him. It was late, and workers were 
dropping away one after another from the scantily peopled desks. 
But Cecil Mitford took no notice of them : he merely sat with his 
arms folded and gazed abstractedly at that disappointing, disheart- 
ening, irretrievable piece of crabbed writing. At last an assistant 
came up and touched his arm gently. ' We're going to close now, 
sir,' he said in his unfeeling official tone just as if it were a mere 
bit of historical enquiry he was after c and I shall be obliged if 
you'll put back the manuscripts you've been consulting into F. 27.' 
Cecil Mitford rose mechanically and sorted out the Cyriack Skinner 
papers into their proper places. Then he laid them quietly on the 
shelf, and walked out into the streets of London, for the moment 
a broken-hearted man. 

But as he walked home alone that clear warm summer even- 
ing, and felt the cool breeze blowing against his forehead, he 
began to reflect to himself that, after all, all was not lost ; that in 
fact things really stood better with him now than they had stood 
that very morning, before he lighted upon John Cann's last letter. 
He had not discovered the actual hiding-place of the hoard, to be 
sure, but he now knew on John Cann's own indisputable authority, 
first, that there really was a hidden treasure ; second, that the 
hiding-place was really in England; and third, that full particulars 
as to the spot where it was buried might be found in John Cann's 
own coffin at Port Eoyal, Jamaica. It was a risky and difficult 
thing to open a coffin, no doubt ; but it was not impossible. No, 
not impossible. On the whole, putting one thing with another, 
in spite of his terrible galling disappointment, he was really nearer 
to the recovery of the treasure now than he had ever been in his 
life before. Till to-day, the final clue was missing ; to-day, it had 
been found. It was a difficult and dangerous clue to follow, but 
still it had been found. 

And yet, setting aside the question of desecrating a grave, how 
all but impossible it was for him to get to Jamaica ! His small 
funds had all long ago been exhausted in prosecuting his researches, 
and he had nothing on earth to live upon now but his wretched 
salary. Even if he could get three or six months' leave from the 
Colonial Office, which was highly improbable, how could he ever 
raise the necessary money for his passage out and home, as well 
as for the delicate and doubtful operation of searching for docu- 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 343 

ments in John Cann's coffin ? It was tantalising, it was horrible, 
it was unendurable ; but here, with the secret actually luring him 
on to discover it, he was to be foiled and baffled at the last moment 
by a mere paltry, petty, foolish consideration of two hundred 
pounds ! Two hundred pounds ! How utterly ludicrous ! Why, 
John Cann's treasure would make him a man of fabulous wealth 
for a whole lifetime, and he was to be prevented from realising 
it by a wretched matter of two hundred pounds ! He would do 
anything to get it for a loan, a mere loan ; to be repaid with 
cent, per cent, interest ; but where in the world, where in the 
world, was he ever to get it from ? 

And then, quick as lightning, the true solution of the whole 
difficulty flashed at once across his excited brain. He could 
borrow all the money if he chose from Ethel ! Poor little Ethel ; 
she hadn't much of her own ; but she had just enough to live very 
quietly upon with her Aunt Emily ; and, thank Heaven, it wasn't 
tied up with any of those bothering, meddling three-per-cent.- 
loving trustees ! She had her little all at her own disposal, and 
he could surely get two or three hundred pounds from her to 
secure for them both the boundless buried wealth of John Cann's 
treasure. 

Should he make her a confidante outright, and tell her what it 
was that he wanted the money for ? No, that would be impossible, 
for, though she had heard all about John Cann over and over again, 
she had not faith enough in the treasure women are so unprac- 
tical to hazard her little scrap of money on it ; of that he felt 
certain. She would go and ask old Mr. Cartwright's opinion ; and 
old Mr. Cartwright was one of those penny-wise, purblind, un- 
imaginative old gentlemen who will never believe in anything 
until they've seen it. Yet here was John Cann's money going 
a-begging, so to speak, and only waiting for him and Ethel to 
come and enjoy it. Cecil had no patience with those stupid, 
stick-in-the-mud, timid people who can see no further than their 
own noses. For Ethel's own sake he would borrow two or three 
hundred pounds from her, one way or another, and she would 
easily forgive him the harmless little deception when he paid her 
ba.ck a hundredfold out of John Cann's boundless treasure. 



344 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 



II, 

That very evening, without a minute's delay, Cecil determined 
to go round and have a talk with Ethel Sutherland. < Strike while 
the iron's hot,' he said to himself. < There isn't a minute to be 
lost ; for who knows but somebody else may find John Cann's trea- 
sure before I do ? ' 

Ethel opened the door to him herself; theirs was an old 
engagement of long standing, after the usual Government clerk's 
fashion ; and Aunt Emily didn't stand out so stiffly as many old 
maids do for the regular proprieties. Very pretty Ethel looked 
with her pale face and the red ribbon in her hair ; very pretty, 
but Cecil feared, as he looked into her dark hazel eyes, a little 
wearied and worn-out, for it was her music-lesson day, as he well 
remembered. Her music-lesson day ! Ethel Sutherland to give 
music-lessons to some wretched squealing children at the West- 
end, when all John Cann's wealth was lying there, uncounted, only 
waiting for him and her to take it and enjoy it ! The bare thought 
was a perfect purgatory to him. He must get that two hundred 
pounds to-night, or give up the enterprise altogether. 

' Well, Ethel darling,' he said tenderly, taking her pretty little 
hand in his ; ' you look tired, dearest. Those horrid children 
have been bothering you again. How I wish we two were married, 
and you were well out of it ! ' 

Ethel smiled a quiet smile of resignation. c They are rather 
trying, Cecil,' she said gently, * especially on days when one has 
got a headache ; but after all, I'm very glad to have the work to 
do ; it helps such a lot to eke out our little income. We have so 
very little, you know, even for two lonely women to live upon in 
simple little lodgings like these, that I'm thankful I can do some- 
thing to help dear Aunt Emily, who's really goodness itself. You 
see, after all, I get very well paid indeed for the lessons.' 

Ethel,' Cecil Mitford said suddenly, thinking it better to dash 
at once into the midst of business, ' I've come round this evening 
to talk with you about a means by which you can add a great deal 
with perfect safety to your little income. Not by lessons, Ethel 
darling ; not by lessons. I can't bear to see you working away 
the pretty tips off those dear little fingers of yours with strum- 
ming scales on the piano for a lot of stupid, gawky schoolgirls ; 
it's by a much simpler way than that; I know of a perfectly safe 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

investment for that three hundred that you've got in New Zealand 
Four per cents. Can you not have heard that New Zealand securi- 
ties are in a very shaky way just at present ? ' 

' Very shaky, Cecil ? ' Ethel answered in surprise. ' Why, Mr. 
Cartwright told me only a week ago they were as safe as the Bank 
of England ! ' 

4 Mr. Cartwright's an ignorant old martinet,' Cecil replied 
vigorously. ' He thinks because the stock's inscribed and the 
dividends are payable in Threadneedle Street that the Colony of 
New Zealand's perfectly solvent. Now, I'm in the Colonial Office, 
and I know a great deal better than that. New Zealand has 
over-borrowed, I assure you ; quite over-borrowed ; and a serious 
fall is certain to come sooner or later. Mark my words, Ethel 
darling : if you don't sell out those New Zealand Fours, you'll find 
your three hundred has sunk to a hundred and fifty in rather less 
than no time ! ' 

Ethel hesitated and looked at him in astonishment. ' That's 
very queer,' she said, < for Mr. Cartwright wants me to sell out my 
little bit of Midland and put it all into the same New Zealands. 
He says they're so safe and pay so well.' 

' Mr. Cartwright indeed ! ' Cecil cried contemptuously. * What 
means on earth has he of knowing ? Didn't he advise you to buy 
nothing but three per cents., and then let you get some Portuguese 
Threes at 50, which are really sixes, and exceedingly doubtful 
securities ? What's the use of trusting a man like that, I should 
like to know ? No, Ethel, if you'll be guided by me and I have 
special opportunities of knowing about these things at the Colo- 
nial Office you'll sell out your New Zealands, and put them into 
a much better investment that I can tell you about. And if I 
were you, I'd say nothing about it to Mr. Cartwright.' 

< But, Cecil, I never did anything in business before without 
consulting him ! I should be afraid of going quite wrong.' 

Cecil took her hand in his with real tenderness. Though he 
was trying to deceive herfor her own good he loved her dearly 
in his heart of hearts, and hated himself for the deception he was 
remorsefully practising upon her. Yet, for her sake, he would go 
through with it. < You must get accustomed to trusting me 
instead of him, darling,' he said softly. < When you are mine for 
ever, as I hope you will be soon, you will take my advice, of 
course, in all such matters, won't you ? And you may as well 
begin by taking it now. I have great hopes, Ethel, that before 

165 



346 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

very long my circumstances will be so much improved that I shall 
be able to marry you I hardly know how quickly ; perhaps even 
before next Christmas. But meanwhile, darling, I have some- 
thing to break to you that I dare say will grieve you a little for 
the moment, though it's for your ultimate good, birdie, for your 
ultimate good. The Colonial Office people have selected me to go to 
Jamaica on some confidential Government business, which may 
keep me there for three months or so. It's a dreadful thing to be 
away from you so long, Ethel ; but if I manage the business suc- 
cessfully and I shall, I know I shall get promoted when I come 
back, well promoted, perhaps to the chief clerkship in the Depart- 
ment ; and then we could marry comfortably almost at once.' 

4 Oh, Cecil ! To Jamaica ! How awfully far ! And suppose 
you were to get yellow fever or something.' 

4 But I won't, Ethel ; I promise you I won't, and I'll guarantee 
it with a kiss, birdie ; so now, that's settled. And then, consider 
the promotion ! Only three months, probably, and when I come 
back, we can be actually married. It's a wonderful stroke of luck, 
and I only heard of it this morning. I couldn't rest till I came 
and told you.' 

Ethel wiped a tear away silently, and only answered, ( If you're 
glad, Cecil dearest, I'm glad too.' 

' Well, now, Ethel,' Cecil Mitford went on as gaily as he could, 
that brings me up to the second point. I want you to sell out these 
wretched New Zealands, so as to take the money with me to 
invest on good mortgages in Jamaica. My experience in West 
Indian matters after three years in the Department will 
enable me to lay it out for you at nine per cent., nine per cent., 
observe, Ethel, on absolute security of landed property. Planters 
want money to improve their estates ; and can't get it at less 
than that rate. Your three hundred would bring you in twenty- 
seven pounds, Ethel ; twenty-seven pounds is a lot of money ! ' 

What could poor Ethel do? In his plausible, affectionate 
manner and all for her own good, too Cecil talked her over 
quickly between love and business experience, coaxing kisses and 
nine per cent, interest, endearing names and knowledge of W T est 
Indian affairs, till helpless little Ethel willingly promised to give 
up her poor little three hundred, and even arranged to meet Cecil 
secretly on Thursday at the Bank of England, about Colonial 
Office dinner-hour, to effect the transfer on her own account, 
without saying a single word about it to Aunt Emily or Mr. 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 347 

Cartwright. Cecil's conscience for he had a conscience, though 
he did his best to stifle it gave him a bitter twinge every now 
and then, as one question after another drove him time after time 
into a fresh bit of deceit ; but he tried to smile and smile and be 
a villain as unconcernedly and lightly as possible. Once only 
towards the end of the evening, when everything was settled, and 
Cecil had talked about his passage, and the important busi- 
ness with which he was entrusted, at full length, a gleam of 
suspicion seemed to flash for a single second across poor Ethel's 
deluded little brains. Jamaica promotion three hundred 
pounds it was all so sudden and so connected ; could Cecil him- 
self be trying to deceive her, and using her money for his wild 
treasure hunt ? The doubt was horrible, degrading, unworthy of 
her or him, and yet somehow for a single moment she could not 
help half-unconsciously entertaining it. 

< Cecil,' she said, hesitating, and looking into the very depths 
of his truthful blue eyes, ' you're not concealing anything from 
me, are you ? It's not some journey connected with John Cann ? ' 

Cecil coughed and cleared his throat uneasily, but by a great 
effort he kept his truthful blue eyes still fixed steadily on hers. 
(He would have given the world if he might have turned them 
away, but that would have been to throw up the game inconti- 
nently.) ' My darling Ethel,' he said evasively, ' how on earth could 
the Colonial Office have anything to do with John Cann ? ' 

'Answer me yes or no, Cecil; do please answer me yes or 
no.' 

Cecil kept his eyes still fixed immovably on hers, and without 
a moment's hesitation answered quickly ' no.' It was an awful 
wrench, and his lips could hardly frame the horrid falsehood, but 
for Ethel's sake he answered * no.' 

' Then I know I can trust you, Cecil/ she said, laying her head 
for forgiveness on his shoulder. ' Oh, how wrong it was of me to 
doubt you for a second ! ' 

Cecil sighed uneasily, and kissed her white forehead without a 
single word. 

6 After all,' he thought to himself, as he walked back to his 
lonely lodgings late that evening, ' I need never tell her anything 
about it. I can pretend, when I've actually got John Cann's 
treasure, that I came across the clue accidentally while I was in 
Jamaica ; and I can lay out three hundred of it there in mortgages ; 
and she need never know a single word about my innocent little 



348 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

deception. But indeed in the pride and delight of so much 
money, all our own, she'll probably never think at all of her poor 
little paltry three hundred.' 

III. 

It was an awfully long time, that eighteen days at sea, on the 
Royal Mail Steamship < Don,' bound for Kingston, Jamaica, with 
John Cann's secret for ever on one's mind, and nothing to do all 
day, by way of outlet for one's burning energy, but to look, hour 
after hour, at the monotonous face of the seething water. But at 
last the journey was over; and before Cecil Mitford had been 
twenty-four hours at Date Tree Hall, the chief hotel in Kingston, 
he had already hired a boat and sailed across the baking hot har- 
bour to Port Royal, to look in the dreary, sandy cemetery for any 
sign or token of John Cann's grave. 

An old grey-haired negro, digging at a fresh grave, had charge 
of the cemetery, and to him Cecil Mitford at once addressed himself, 
to find out whether any tombstone about the place bore the name 
of John Cann. The old man turned the name over carefully in 
his stolid brains, and then shook his heavy grey head with a decided 
negative. i Massa John Cann, sah,' he said dubiously : ' Massa 
John Cann; it don't nobody buried here by de name ob Massa 
John Cann. I sartin, sah, becase I's sexton in dis here cemetry 
dese fifty year, an' I know de grabe ob ebbery buckra gentleman 
iat ebber buried here since I fuss came.' 

Cecil Mitford tossed his head angrily. < Since you first came, 
my good man,' he said with deep contempt. 'Since you first 
came ! Why, John Cann was buried here ages and ages before 
you yourself were ever born or thought of.' 

The old negro looked up at him inquiringly. There is nothing 
a negro hates like contempt; and he answered back with a disdainful 
tone : ' Den I can find out if him ebber was buried here at all, as well as 
you, sah. We has register here, we don't ignorant heathen. I has 
register in de church ob ebbery pusson dat ebber buried in dis cemetry 
from de berry beginnin from de year ob de great earthquake itself. 
What year dis Massa John Cann, him die now ? What year him die ? ' 

Cecil pricked up his ears at the mention of the register, and 
answered eagerly, <In the year 1669.' 

The old negro sat down quietly on a flat tomb, and answered 
with a smile of malicious triumph : c Den you is ignorant know- 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 349 

nuffin pusson for a buckra gentleman, for true, sah, if you tink 
you will find him grabe in dis here cemetry. Don't you nebber 
read your history book, dat all Port Royal drowned in de great 
earthquake ob de year 1692? We has register here for ebbery 
year, from de year 1692 downward ; but de grabes, and de cemetry, 
and de register, from de year 1692 upward, him all swallowed up 
entirely in de great earthquake, bress de Lord ! ' 

Cecil Mitford felt the earth shivering beneath him at that 
moment, as verily as the Port Royal folk had felt it shiver in 1692. 
He clutched at the headstone to keep him from falling, and sat 
down hazily on the flat tomb, beside the grey-headed old negro, 
like one unmanned and utterly disheartened. It was all only too 
true : with his intimate knowledge of John Cann's life, and of 
West Indian affairs generally, how on earth could he ever have 
overlooked it ? John Cann's grave lay buried five fathoms deep, 
no doubt, under the blue waters of the Caribbean : and it was for 
this that he had madly thrown up his Colonial Office appointment, 
for this that he had wasted Ethel's money, for this that he had 
burdened his conscience with a world of lies ; all to find in the 
end that John Cann's secret was hidden under five fathoms of 
tropical lagoon, among the scattered and waterlogged ruins of 
Old Port Royal. His fortitude forsook him for a single moment, 
and burying his face in his two hands, there, under the sweltering 
midday heat of that deadly sandbank, he broke down utterly, 
and sobbed like a child before the very eyes of the now softened 
old negro sexton. 

IV. 

It was not for long, however. Cecil Mitford had at least one 
strong quality, indomitable energy and perseverance. All was 
not yet lost : if need were, he would hunt for John Cann's tomb 
in the very submerged ruins of Old Port Royal. He looked up 
once more at the puzzled negro, and tried to bear this bitter down- 
fall of all his hopes with manful resignation. 

At that very moment, a tall and commanding-looking man, of 
about sixty, with white hair but erect figure, walked slowly from 
the coco-nut grove on the sand-spit into the dense and tangled pre- 
cincts of the cemetery. He was a brown man, a mulatto apparently, 
but his look and bearing showed him at once for a person of edu- 
cation and distinction in his own fashion. The old sexton rose up 



350 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

respectfully as the stranger approached, and said to him, in a very 
different tone from that in which he had addressed Cecil Mitford, 
6 Marnin, sah ; marnin, Mr. Barclay. Dis here buckra gentleman 
from Englan', him come 'quiring in de cemetry after de grabe of 
pusson dat dead before de great earthquake. What for him come 
here like-a-dat on fool's errand, eh, sah ? What for him not larn 
before him come dat Port Koyal all gone drowned in de year 
1692?' 

The new-comer raised his hat slightly to Cecil Mitford, and 
spoke at once in the grave gentle voice of an educated and culti- 
vated mulatto. ' You wanted some antiquarian information about 
the island, sir; some facts about some one who died before the 
Port Royal earthquake ? You have luckily stumbled across the 
right man to help you ; for I think if anything can be recovered 
about anybody in Jamaica, I can aid you in recovering it. Whose 
grave did you want to see ? ' 

Cecil hardly waited to thank the polite stranger, but blurted 
out at once, * The grave of John Cann, who died in 1669.' 

The stranger smiled quietly. i What, John Cann, the famous 
buccaneer ! ' he said, with evident delight. ' Are you interested 
in John Cann ? ' 

' I am,' Cecil answered hastily. ' Do you know anything about 
him?' 

6 1 know all about him,' the tall mulatto replied. All about 
him in every way. He was not buried at Port Royal at all. He 
intended to be, and gave orders to that effect ; but his servants 
had him buried quietly elsewhere, on account of some dispute 
with the Governor of the time being, about some paper which he 
desired to have placed in his coffin.' 

6 Where, where ? ' Cecil Mitford gasped out eagerly, clutching 
at this fresh straw with all the anxiety of a drowning man. 

' At Spanish Town,' the stranger answered calmly. ' I know 
his grave there well to the present day. If you are interested in 
Jamaican antiquities, and would like to come over and see it, I 
shall be happy to show you the tomb. That is my name.' And 
he handed Cecil Mitford his card, with all the courteous dignity 
of a born gentleman. 

Cecil took the card and read the name on it : < The Hon. Charles 
Barclay, Leigh Caymanas, Spanish Town.' How his heart bounded 
again that minute ! Proof was accumulating on proof, and luck 
on luck ! After all, he had tracked down John Cann's grave ; 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 351 

and the paper was really there, buried in his coffin. He took the 
handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his damp brow with a 
feeling of unspeakable relief. Ethel was saved, and they might 
still enjoy John Cann's treasure. 

Mr. Barclay sat down beside him on the stone slab, and began 
talking over all he knew about John Cann's life and actions. Cecil 
affected to be interested in all he said, though really he could think 
of one thing only : the treasure, the treasure, the treasure. But 
he managed also to let Mr. Barclay see how much he too knew 
about the old buccaneer: and Mr. Barclay, who was a simple- 
minded learned enthusiast for all that concerned the antiquities of 
his native island, was so won over by this display of local know- 
ledge on the part of a stranger and an Englishman, that he ended 
by inviting Cecil over to his house at Spanish Town, to stop as 
long as he was able. Cecil gladly accepted the invitation, and 
that very afternoon, with a beating heart, he took his place in the 
lumbering train that carried him over to the final goal of his 
Jamaican expedition. 



V. 

In a corner of the Cathedral grave-yard at Spanish Town, over- 
hung by a big spreading mango-tree, and thickly covered by prickly 
scrub of agave and cactus, the white-haired old mulatto gentleman 
led Cecil Mitford up to a water- worn and weathered stone, on 
which a few crumbling letters alone were still visible. Cecil 
kneeled down on the bare ground, regardless of the sharp cactus 
spines that stung and tore his flesh, and began clearing the moss 
and lichen away from the neglected monument. Yes, his host 
was right ! right, right, right, indubitably. The first two letters 
were Io, then a blank where others were obliterated, and then came 
ANN. That stood clearly for IOHN CANN. And below he could 
slowly make out the words, * Born at . . vey Tra . . . Devon . .' 
with an illegible date, 'Died at P. . . Royal, May 12, 
1669.' Oh, great heavens, yes. John Cann's grave ! John Cann's 
grave ! John Cann's grave ! Beyond any shadow or suspicion of 
mistake, John Cann and his precious secret lay buried below that 
mouldering tombstone. 

That very evening Cecil Mitford sought out and found the 
Spanish Town gravedigger. He was a solemn-looking middle- 
aged black man, with a keen smart face, not the wrong sort of 



352 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

man, Cecil Mitford felt sure, for such a job as the one he con- 
templated. Cecil didn't beat about the bush or temporise with 
him in any way. He went straight to the point, and asked the 
man outright whether he would undertake to open John Cann's 
grave, and find a paper that was hidden in the coffin. The grave- 
digger stared at him, and answered slowly, ' I don't like de job, 
sah ; I don't like de job. Perhaps Massa John Cann's ghost, him 




come and trouble me for dat : I don't going to do it. What you 
gib me, sah ; how much you gib me ? ' 

Cecil opened his purse and took out of it ten gold sovereigns. 
< I will give you that,' he said, < if you can get me the paper out 
of John Cann's coffin.' 

The negro's eyes glistened, but he answered carelessly, 'I 
don't tink I can do it, I don't want to open grabe by night, and 
if I open him by day, de magistrates dem will hab me up for 
desecration ob interment. But I can do dis for you, sah. If you 
like to wait till some buckra gentleman die John Cann grabe 
among de white man side in de grabeyard I will dig grabe along- 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 353 

side ob John Cann one day, so let you come yourself in de night 
and take what you like out ob him coffin. I don't go meddle with 
coffin myself, to make de John Cann duppy trouble me, and magi- 
strate send me off about me business.' 

It was a risky thing to do, certainly, but Cecil Mitford closed 
with it, and promised the man ten pounds if ever he could recover 
John Cann's paper. And then he settled down quietly at Leigh 
Caymanas with his friendly host, waiting with eager anxious 
expectation till some white person should die at Spanish Town. 

What an endless, aimless time it seemed to wait before any- 
body could be comfortably buried ! Black people died by the 
score, of course: there was a small-pox epidemic on, and they 
went to wakes over one another's dead bodies in wretched hovels 
among the back alleys, and caught the infection and sickened and 
died as fast as the wildest imagination could wish them : but then, 
they were buried apart by themselves in the pauper part of the 
Cathedral cemetery. Still, no white man caught the small-pox, 
and few mulattoes ; they had all been vaccinated, and nobody got 
ill except the poorest negroes. Cecil Mitford waited with almost 
fiendish eagerness to hear that some prominent white man was 
dead or dying. 

A month, six weeks, two months, went slowly past, and still 
nobody of consequence in all Spanish Town fell ill or sickened 
Talk about tropical diseases ! why, the place was abominably, 
atrociously, outrageously healthy. Cecil Mitford fretted and fumed 
and worried by himself, wondering whether he would be kept there 
for ever and ever, waiting till some useless nobody chose to die. 
The worst of it all was, he could tell nobody his troubles : 
he had to pretend to look unconcerned and interested, and listen 
to all old Mr. Barclay's stories about Maroons and buccaneers as if 
he really enjoyed them. 

At last, after Cecil had been two full months at Spanish Town, 
he heard one morning with grim satisfaction that yellow fever 
had broken out at Port Antonio. Now yellow fever, as he knew 
full well, attacks only white men, or men of white blood : and 
Cecil felt sure that before long there would be somebody white 
dead in Spanish Town. Not that he was really wicked or malevolent 
or even unfeeling at heart ; but his wild desire to discover John 
Cann's treasure had now overridden every better instinct of his 
nature, and had enslaved him, body and soul, till he could think 
of nothing in any light save that of its bearing on his one mad 



354 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

imagination. So he waited a little longer, still more eagerly than 
before, till yellow fever should come to Spanish Town. 

Sure enough the fever did come in good time, and the very 
first person who sickened with it was Cecil Mitford. That was a 
contingency he had never dreamt of, and for the time being it 
drove John Cann's treasure almost out of his fevered memory. 
Yet not entirely, even so, for in his delirium he raved of John 
Cann and his doubloons till good old Mr. Barclay, nursing at his 
bedside like a woman, as a tender-hearted mulatto always will 
nurse any casual young white man, shook his head to himself and 
muttered gloomily that poor Mr. Mitford had overworked his brain 
sadly in his minute historical investigations. 

For ten days Cecil Mitford hovered fitfully between life and 
death, and for ten days good old Mr. Barclay waited on him, morn- 
ing, noon, and night, as devotedly as any mother could wait upon 
her first-born. At the end of that time he began to mend slowly ; 
and as soon as the crisis was over he forgot forthwith all about his 
illness, and thought once more of nothing on earth save only John 
Cann's treasure. Was anybody else ill of the fever in Spanish 
Town ? Yes, two, but not dangerously. Cecil's face fell at that 
saving clause, and in his heart he almost ventured to wish it had 
been otherwise. He was no murderer, even in thought ; but John 
Cann's treasure ! John Cann's treasure ! John Cann's treasure ! 
What would not a man venture to do or pray, in order that he 
might become the possessor of John Cann's treasure ! 

As Cecil began to mend, a curious thing happened at Leigh 
Caymanas, contrary to almost all the previous medical experience 
of the whole island. Mr. Barclay, though a full mulatto of half 
black blood, suddenly sickened with the yellow fever. He had 
worn himself out with nursing Cecil, and the virus seemed to have 
got into his blood in a way that it would never have done under 
other circumstances. And when the doctor came to see him, he 
declared at once that the symptoms were very serious. Cecil 
hated and loathed himself for the thought ; and yet, in a horrid, 
indefinite way, he gloated over the possibility of his kind and 
hospitable friend's dying. Mr. Barclay had tended him so care- 
fully that he almost loved him ; and yet, with John Cann's treasure 
before his very eyes, in a dim, uncertain, awful fashion, he almost 
looked forward to his dying. But where would he be buried? 
that was the question. Not, surely, among the poor black people 
in the pauper comer. A man of his host's distinction and position 



JOHN C ANN'S TREASURE. 355 

would certainly deserve a place among the most exalted white 
graves near the body of Grovernor Modyford , and not far from the 
tomb of John Cann himself. 

Day after day Mr. Barclay sank slowly but surely, and Cecil, 
weak and hardly convalescent himself, sat watching by his bed- 
side, and nursing him as tenderly as the good brown man had 
nursed Cecil himself in his turn a week earlier. The young clerk 
was no hard-hearted wretch who could see a kind entertainer die 
without a single passing pang ; he felt for the grey old mulatto as 
deeply as he could have felt for his own brother, if he had had 
one. Every time there was a sign of suffering or feebleness, it 
went to Cecil's heart like a knife the very knowledge that on one 
side of his nature he wished the man to die, made him all the 
more anxious and careful on the other side to do everything he 
could to save him, if possible, or at least to alleviate his sufferings. 
Poor old man! it was horrible to see him lying there, parched 
with fever and dying by inches ; but then John Cann's treasure, 
John Cann's treasure, John Cann's treasure! every shade that 
passed over the good mulatto's face brought Cecil Mitford a single 
step nearer to the final enjoyment of John Cann's treasure. 



VI. 

On the evening when the Hon. Charles Barclay died, Cecil 
Mitford went out, for the first time after his terrible illness, to 
speak a few words in private with the negro sexton. He found 
the man lounging in the soft dust outside his hut, and ready enough 
to find a place for the corpse (which would be buried next morn- 
ing, with the ordinary tropical haste), close beside the spot actually 
occupied by John Cann's coffin. All the rest, the sexton said with 
a horrid grin, he would leave to Cecil. 

At twelve o'clock of a dark moonless night, Cecil Mitford, still 
weak and ill, but trembling only from the remains of his fever, set 
out stealthily from the dead man's low bungalow in the outskirts 
of Spanish Town, and walked on alone through the unlighted, 
unpaved streets of the sleeping city to the Cathedral precinct. 
Not a soul met or passed him on the way through the lonely alleys ; 
not a solitary candle burned anywhere in a single window. He 
carried only a little dark lantern in his hand, and a very small pick 
that he had borrowed that same afternoon from the negro sexton. 
Stumbling along through the unfamiliar lanes, he saw at last the 



356 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

great black mass of the gaunt ungainly Cathedral, standing out 
dimly against the hardly less black abyss of night that formed the 
solemn background. But Cecil Mitford was not awed by place or 
season; he could think only of one subject, John Cann's treasure. 
He groped his way easily through scrub and monuments to the 
far corner of the churchyard ; and there, close by a fresh and open 
grave, he saw the well-remembered, half-effaced letters that marked 
the mouldering upright slab as John Cann's gravestone. Without 
a moment's delay, without a touch of hesitation, without a single 
tinge of womanish weakness, he jumped down boldly into the open 
grave and turned the light side of his little lantern in the direction 
of John Cann's undesecrated coffin. 

A few strokes of the pick soon loosened the intervening earth 
sufficiently to let him get at a wooden plank on the nearer side of 
the coffin. It had mouldered away with damp and age till it was 
all quite soft and pliable ; and he broke through it with his hand 
alone, and saw lying within a heap of huddled bones, which he 
knew at once for John Cann's skeleton. Under any other circum- 
stances, such a sight, seen in the dead of night, with all the awesome 
accessories of time and place, would have chilled and appalled 
Cecil Mitford's nervous blood ; but he thought nothing of it all 
now ; his whole soul was entirely concentrated on a single idea 
the search for the missing paper. Leaning over toward the 
breach he had made into John Cann's grave, he began groping 
about with his right hand on the floor of the coffin. After a 
moment's search his fingers came across a small rusty metal object, 
clasped, apparently, in the bony hand of the skeleton. He drew 
it eagerly out ; it was a steel snuff-box. Prising open the corroded 
hinge with his pocket-knife, he found inside a small scrap of dry 
paper. His fingers trembled as he held it to the dark lantern ; 
oh, heavens, success ! success ! it was, it was the missing 
document ! 

He knew it in a moment by the handwriting and the cypher ! 
He couldn't wait to read it till he went home to the dead man's 
house ; so he curled himself up cautiously in Charles Barclay's 
open grave, and proceeded to decipher the crabbed manuscript as 
well as he was able by the lurid light of the lantern. Yes, yes, it 
was all right : it told him with minute and unmistakable detail the 
exact spot in the valley of the Bovey where John Cann's treasure 
lay securely hidden. Not at John Cann's rocks on the hilltop, as 
the local legend untruly affirmed John Cann had not been such 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 357 

an unguarded fool as to whisper to the idle gossips of Bovey the 
spot where he had really buried his precious doubloons but down 
in the valley by a bend of the river, at a point that Cecil Mitford 
had known well from his childhood upward. Hurrah! hurrah! 
the secret was unearthed at last, and he had nothing more to do 
than to go home to England and proceed to dig up John Cann's 
treasure ! 

So he cautiously replaced the loose earth on the side of the grave, 
and walked back, this time bold and erect, with his dark lantern 
openly displayed (for it mattered little now who watched or followed 
him), to dead Charles Barclay's lonely bungalow. The black ser- 
vants were keening and wailing over their master's body, and 
nobody took much notice of the white visitor. If they had, Cecil 
Mitford would have cared but little, so long as he carried John 
Cann's last dying directions safely folded in his leather pocket- 
book. 

Next day, Cecil Mitford stood once more as a chief mourner 
beside the grave he had sat in that night so strangely by himself : 
and before the week was over he had taken his passage for England 
in the Eoyal Mail Steamer c Tagus,' and was leaving the coco-nut 
groves of Port Royal well behind him on the port side. Before 
him lay the open sea, and beyond it, England, Ethel, and John 
Cann's treasure. 

TIL 

It had been a long job after all to arrange fully the needful 
preliminaries for the actual search after John Cann's buried 
doubloons. First of all, there was Ethel's interest to pay, and a 
horrid story for Cecil to concoct all false, of course, worse luck to 
it about how he had managed to invest her poor three hundred 
to the best advantage. Then there was another story to make good 
about three months' extra leave from the Colonial Office. Next 
came the question of buying the land where John Cann's trea- 
sure lay hidden, and this was really a matter of very exceptional 
and peculiar difficulty. The owner pig-headed fellow ! didn't 
want to sell, no matter how much he was offered, because the corner 
contained a clump of trees that made a specially pretty element in 
the view from his dining-room windows. His dining-room windows, 
forsooth ! What on earth could it matter, when John Cann's 
treasure was at stake, whether anything at all was visible or other- 
wise from his miserable dining-room windows ? Cecil was positively 



358 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

appalled at the obstinacy and narrow-mindedness of the poor 
squireen, who could think of nothing at all in the whole world but 
his own ridiculous antiquated windows. However, in the end, by 
making his bid high enough, he was able to induce this obstructive 
old curmudgeon to part with his triangular little corner of land in 
the bend of the river. Even so, there was the question of pay- 
ment : absurd as it seemed, with all John Cann's money almost in 
his hands, Cecil was obliged to worry and bother and lie and in- 
trigue for weeks together in order to get that paltry little sum in 
hard cash for the matter of payment. Still, he raised it in the end : 
raised it by inducing Ethel to sell out the remainder of her poor 
small fortune, and cajoling Aunt Emily into putting her name to a 
bill of sale for her few worthless bits of old-fashioned furniture. 
At last, after many delays and vexatious troubles, Cecil found him- 
self the actual possessor of the corner of land wherein lay buried 
John Cann's treasure. 

The very first day that Cecil Mitford could call that coveted 
piece of ground his own, he could not restrain his eagerness (though 
he knew it was imprudent in a land where the unjust law of 
treasure-trove prevails), but he must then and there begin covertly 
digging under the shadow of the three big willow-trees, in the 
bend of the river. He had eyed and measured the bearings so 
carefully already that he knew the very spot to a nail's breadth 
where John Cann's treasure was actually hidden. He set to work 
digging with a little pick as confidently as if he had already seen 
the broad doubloons lying there in the strong box that he knew 
enclosed them. Four feet deep he dug, as John Cann's instructions 
told him ; and then, true to the inch, his pick struck against a 
solid oaken box, well secured with clamps of iron. Cecil cleared 
all the dirt away from the top, carefully, not hurriedly, and tried 
with all his might to lift the box out, but all in vain. It was far 
too heavy, of course, for one man's arms to raise : all that weight 
of gold and silver must be ever so much more than a single pair of 
hands could possibly manage. He must try to open the lid alone, 
so as to take the gold out, a bit at a time, and carry it away with 
him now and again, as he was able, covering the place up carefully 
in between, for fear of the Treasury and the Lord of the Manor. 
How abominably unjust it seemed to him at that moment the 
legal claim of those two indolent hostile powers ! to think that after 
he, Cecil Mitford, had borne the brunt of the labour in adventur- 
ously hunting up the whole trail of John Cann's secret, two idle 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 359 

irresponsible participators should come in at the end, if they could, 
to profit entirely by his ingenuity and his exertions ! 

At last, by a great effort, he forced the rusty lock open, and 
looked eagerly into the strong oak chest. How his heart beat with 
slow, deep throbs at that supreme moment, not with suspense, 
for he knew he should find the money, but with the final realisation 
of a great hope long deferred ! Yes, there it lay, in very truth, 
all before him great shining coins of old Spanish gold gold, 
gold, gold, arranged in long rows, one coin after another, over the 
whole surface of the broad oak box. He had found it, he had found 
it, he had really found it ! After so much toilsome hunting, after 
so much vain endeavour, after so many heart-breaking disappoint- 
ments, John Cann's treasure in very truth lay open there actually 
before him ! 

For a few minutes, eager and frightened as he was, Cecil Mit- 
ford did not dare even to touch the precious pieces. In the great- 
ness of his joy, in the fierce rush of his overpowering emotions, 
he had no time to think of mere base everyday gold and silver. 
It was the future and the ideal that he beheld, not the piled-up 
heaps of filthy lucre. Ethel was his, wealth was his, honour was 
his ! He would be a rich man and a great man now and hence- 
forth for ever ! Oh, how he hugged himself in his heart on the 
wise successful fraud by which he had induced Ethel to advance 
him the few wretched hundreds he needed for his ever-memorable 
Jamaican journey ! How he praised to himself his own courage, 
and ingenuity, and determination, and inexhaustible patience ! 
How he laughed down that foolish conscience of his that would 
fain have dissuaded him from his master-stroke of genius ! He 
deserved it all, he deserved it all ! Other men would have flinched 
before the risk and expense of the voyage to Jamaica, would have 
given up the scent for a fool's errand in the cemetery at Port 
Eoyal, would have shrunk from ransacking John Cann's grave at 
dead of night in the Cathedral precincts at Spanish Town, would 
have feared to buy the high-priced corner of land at Bovey Tracy 
on a pure imaginative speculation. But he, Cecil Mitford, had 
had the boldness and the cleverness to do it every bit, and now, 
wisdom was justified of all her children. He sat for five minutes 
in profound meditation on the edge of the little pit he had dug, 
gloating dreamily over the broad gold pieces, and inwardly admir- 
ing his own bravery and foresight and indomitable resolution. 
What a magnificent man he really was a worthy successor of those 



360 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

great freebooting, buccaneering, filibustering Devonians of the 
grand Elizabethan era! To think that the work-a-day modern 
world should ever have tried to doom him, Cecil Mitford, with his 
splendid enterprise and glorious potentialities, to a hundred and 
eighty a year and a routine clerkship at the Colonial Office ! 

After a while, however, mere numerical cupidity began to get 
the better of this heroic mood, and Cecil Mitford turned somewhat 
languidly to the vulgar task of counting the rows of doubloons. 
He counted up the foremost row carefully, and then for the first 
time perceived, to his intense surprise, that the row behind was 
not gold, but mere silver Mexican pistoles. He rubbed his eyes 
and looked again, but the fact was unmistakable ; there was only 
one row of yellow gold in the top layer, and all the rest was merely 
bright and glittering silver. Strange that John Cann should have 
put coins of such small value near the top of his box : the rest of 
the gold must certainly be in successive layers down further. He 
lifted up the big gold doubloons in the first row, and then, to his 
blank horror and amazement, came to not more gold, not more 
silver, but but but ay, incredible as it seemed, appalling, 
horrifying a wooden bottom ! 

Had John Cann, in his care and anxiety, put a layer of solid 
oak between each layer of gold and silver? Hardly that ; the oak 
was too thick. In a moment Cecil Mitford had taken out all the 
coins of the first tier, and laid bare the oaken bottom. A few blows 
of the pick loosened the earth around, and then, oh horror, oh 
ghastly disappointment, oh unspeakable heart-sickening revelation, 
the whole box came out entire. It was only two inches deep alto- 
gether, including the cover it was, in fact, a mere shallow tray 
or saucer, something like the sort of thin wooden boxes in which 
sets of dessert-knives or fish-knives are usually sold for wedding 
presents ! 

For the space of three seconds Cecil Mitford could not believe 
his eyes, and then, with a sudden flash of awful vividness, the 
whole terrible truth flashed at once across his staggering brain. 
He had found John Cann's treasure indeed the John Cann's treasure 
of base actual reality : but the John Cann's treasure of his fervid 
imagination, the John Cann's treasure he had dreamt of from his 
boyhood upward, the John Cann's treasure he had risked all to 
find and to win, did not exist, could not exist, and never had existed 
at all anywhere ! It was all a horrible, incredible, unthinkable 
delusion ! The hideous fictions he had told would every one be 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 361 

now discovered ; Ethel would be ruined ; Aunt Emily would be 
ruined; and they would both know him, not only for a fool, a 
dreamer, and a visionary, but also for a gambler, a thief, and a liar. 

In his black despair he jumped down into the shallow hole once 
more, and began a second time to count slowly over the accursed 
dollars. The whole miserable sum the untold wealth of John 
Cann's treasure would amount altogether to about two hundred 
and twenty pounds 'of modern sterling English money. Cecil 
Mitford tore his hair as he counted it in impotent self-punishment; 
two hundred and twenty pounds, and he had expected at least as 
many thousands ! He saw it all in a moment. His wild fancy had 
mistaken the poor outcast hunted- down pirate for a sort of ideal 
criminal millionaire ; he had erected the ignorant, persecuted John 
Cann of real life, who fled from the king's justice to a nest of 
chartered outlaws in Jamaica, into a great successful naval com- 
mander, like the Drake or Hawkins of actual history. The whole 
truth about the wretched solitary old robber burst in upon him 
now with startling vividness ; he saw him hugging his paltry two 
hundred pounds to his miserly old bosom, crossing the sea with it 
stealthily from Jamaica, burying it secretly in a hole in the ground 
at Bovey, quarrelling about it with his peasant relations in England, 
as the poor will often quarrel about mere trifles of money, and 
dying at last with the secret of that wretched sum hidden in the 
snuff-box that he clutched with fierce energy even in his lifeless 
skeleton fingers. It was all clear, horribly, irretrievably, unmis- 
takably clear to him now ; and the John Cann that he had once 
followed through so many chances and changes had faded away at 
once into absolute nothingness, now and for ever ! 

If Cecil Mitford had known a little less about John Cann's life 
and exploits he might still perhaps have buoyed himself up with 
the vain hope that all the treasure was not yet unearthed that 
there were more boxes still buried in the ground, more doubloons 
still hidden further down in the unexplored bosom of the 
little three-cornered field. But the words of John Cann's own 
dying directions were too explicit and clear to admit of any such 
gloss or false interpretation. 'In a strong oaken chest, bound 
round with iron, and buried at four feet of depth in the south- 
western angle of the Home Croft, at Bovey,' said the document, 
plainly ; there was no possibility of making two out of it in any 
way. Indeed, in that single minute, Cecil Mitford's mind had 
undergone a total revolution, and he saw the John Cann myth for 

VOL. III. NO. 16, N. S. 17 



362 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

the first time in his life now in its true colours. The bubble had 
burst, the halo had vanished, the phantom had faded away, and 
the miserable squalid miserly reality stood before him with all its 
vulgar nakedness in their place. The whole panorama of John 
Cann's life, as he knew it intimately in all its details, passed before 
his mind's eye like a vivid picture, no longer in the brilliant hues 
of boyish romance, but in the dingy sordid tones of sober fact. 
He had given up all that was worth having in this world for the 
sake of a poor gipsy pirate's penny-saving hoard. 

A weaker man would have swallowed the disappointment or 
kept the delusion still to his dying day. Cecil Mitford was made 
of stronger mould. The ideal John Cann's treasure had taken 
possession of him, body and soul; and now that John Cann's 
treasure had faded into utter nonentity a paltry two hundred 
pounds the whole solid earth had failed beneath his feet, and 
nothing was left before him but a mighty blank. A mighty blank. 
Blank, blank, blank. Cecil Mitford sat there on the edge of the 
pit, with his legs dangling over into the hollow where John Cann's 
treasure had never been, gazing blankly out into a blank sky, with 
staring blank eyeballs that looked straight ahead into infinite 
space and saw utterly nothing. 

How long he sat there no one knows ; but late at night, when 
the people at the Eed Lion began to miss their guest, and turned 
out in a body to hunt for him in the corner field, they found him 
sitting still on the edge of the pit he had dug for the grave of his 
own hopes, and gazing still with listless eyes into blank vacancy. 
A box of loose coin lay idly scattered on the ground beside him. 
The poor gentleman had been struck crazy, they whispered to one 
another; and so indeed he had : not raving mad with acute insanity, 
but blankly, hopelessly, and helplessly imbecile. With the loss of 
John Cann's treasure the whole universe had faded out for him into 
abject nihilism. They carried him home to the inn between them 
on their arms, and put him to bed carefully in the old bedroom, 
as one might put a new-born baby. 

The Lord of the Manor, when he came to hear the whole pitiful 
story, would have nothing to do with the wretched doubloons ; the 
curse of blood was upon them, he said, and worse than that ; so 
the Treasury, which has no sentiments and no conscience, came in 
at the end for what little there was of John Cann's unholy 
treasure. 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 363 



VIII. 

In the County Pauper Lunatic Asylum for Devon there was 
one quiet impassive patient, who was always pointed out to horror- 
loving visitors, because he had once been a gentleman, and had a 
strange romance hanging to him still, even in that dreary refuge 
of the destitute insane. The lady whom he had loved and robbed 

all for her own good had followed him down from London to 

Devonshire ; and she and her aunt kept a small school, after some 
struggling fashion, in the town close by, where many kind-hearted 
squires of the neighbourhood sent their little girls, while they 
were still very little, for the sake of charity, and for pity of the 
sad, sad story. . One day a week there was a whole holiday 
Wednesday it was for that was visiting day at the County Asylum ; 
and then Ethel Sutherland, dressed in deep mourning, walked 
round with her aunt to the gloomy gateway at ten o'clock, and sat 
as long as she was allowed with the faded image of Cecil Mitford, 
holding his listless hand clasped hard in her pale white fingers, and 
looking with sad eager anxious eyes for any gleam of passing re- 
cognition in his. Alas, the gleam never came (perhaps it was better 
so), Cecil Mitford looked always straight before him at the blank 
whitewashed walls, and saw nothing, heard nothing, thought of 
nothing, from week's end to week's end. 

Ethel had forgiven him all; what will not a loving woman 
forgive ? Nay, more, had found excuses and palliations for him 
which quite glossed over his crime and his folly. He must have 
been losing his reason long before he ever went to Jamaica, she 
said ; for in his right mind he would never have tried to deceive 
her or himself in the way he had done. Did he not fancy he was 
sent' out by the Colonial Office, when he had really gone without 
leave or mission ? And did he not persuade her to give up her 
money to him for investment, and after all never invest it ? What 
greater proofs of insanity could you have than those ? And then 
that dreadful fever at Spanish Town, and the shock of losing his 
kind entertainer, worn out with nursing him, had quite completed 
the downfall of his reason. So Ethel Sutherland, in her pure 
beautiful woman's soul, went on believing, as steadfastly as ever, 
in the faith and the goodness of that Cecil Mitford that had never 
been. His ideal had faded out before the first touch of dis- 
illusioning fact; hers persisted still, in spite of all the rudest 

172 



364 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

assaults that the plainest facts could make upon it. Thank heaven 
for that wonderful idealising power of a good woman, which enables 
her to walk unsullied through this sordid world, unknowing and 

unseeing. 

At last one night, one terrible windy night in December, Ethel 
Sutherland was wakened from her sleep in the quiet little school- 
house by a fearful glare falling fiercely upon her bedroom window. 
She jumped up hastily and rushed to the little casement to look 
out towards the place whence the glare came. One thought alone 
rose instinctively in her white little mind Could it be at Cecil's 




Asylum? Oh, horror, yes; the whole building was in flames, 
and if Cecil were taken even poor mad imbecile Cecil what, 
what on earth would then be left her ? 

Huddling on a few things hastily, anyhow, Ethel rushed out 
wildly into the street, and ran with incredible speed where all the 
crowd of the town was running together, towards the blazing Asylum. 
The mob knew her at once, and recognised her sad claim ; they 
made a little lane down the surging mass for her to pass through, 
till she stood beside the very firemen at the base of the gateway. 
It was an awful sight poor mad wretches raving and imploring at 
the windows, while the firemen plied their hose and brought 



JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 365 

their escapes to bear as best they were able on one menaced tier 
after another. But Ethel saw or heard nothing, save in one third- 
floor window of the right wing, where Cecil Mitford stood, no longer 
speechless and imbecile, but calling loudly for help, and flinging 
his eager arms wildly about him. The shock had brought him back 
his reason, for the moment at least : oh, thank God, thank God, 
he saw her, he saw her ! 

With a sudden wild cry Ethel burst from the firemen who tried 
to hold her back, leaped into the burning building and tore up the 
blazing stairs, blinded and scorched, but by some miracle not quite 
suffocated, till she reached the stone landing on the third story. 
Turning along the well-known corridor, now filled with black 
wreaths of stifling smoke, she reached at last Cecil's ward, and 
flung herself madly, wildly into his circling arms. . For a moment 
they both forgot the awful death that girt them round on every 
side, and Cecil, rising superior to himself, cried only, ' Ethel, Ethel, 
Ethel, I love you ; forgive me ! ' Ethel pressed his hand in hers 
gently, and answered in an agony of joy, * There is nothing to 
forgive, Cecil ; I can die happy now, now that I have once more 
heard you say you love me, you love me.' 



IX. 

Near a quiet town in North Wales a little four-roomed cottage 
fronts the road, with a garden full of sweet old-fashioned flowers, 
and a small porch covered with long sprays of clematis and clam- 
bering roses. Though it is but a wee house, once a labourer's 
home, one can see at a glance that its quiet refinement and simple 
unpretentiousness bespeaks at once the presence of straitened cul- 
ture. The Mitfords who live there are indeed far from rich ; but 
the husband, who is understood in the neighbourhood to have 
been a great invalid, is employed by the Eecord Office and the 
Master of the Eolls, in deciphering many antique manuscripts, 
a form of specialist work for which he seems naturally to possess 
a remarkable aptitude. For knowledge of the handwriting and 
personal history of the seventeenth century, in fact, he has no 
rival in all England. As an expert, to be sure, his work is not 
over-well paid ; but his earnings suffice to keep himself and Ethel 
in modest comfort ; and as long as Ethel is happy, what other 
care or desire in the world has Cecil Mitford ? 

For he sees it all now : he knows in his heart of hearts that 



366 JOHN CANN'S TREASURE. 

he has won a treasure far greater and truer than John Cann's, 
which last, indeed, he never allows his mind for one moment to 
rest upon, ever since that awful night at the Devon Asylum. He 
has learnt his lesson by a terrible and bitter experience, it is true : 
but he has learnt it thoroughly ; and he has come out a new man 
from the fiery ordeal. After all, mad as was that wild episode of 
his youth, there is more possibility of good left in Cecil Mitford 
than in nine out of ten excellent, stereotyped, eminently respect- 
able young men, who have never given their families one moment's 
anxiety from the day they cut their first teeth onward. He has 
still energy, ability, enthusiasm, profound knowledge of a special 
period : and when his day's work at the crabbed manuscripts from 
the office is over, he turns with almost as much intensity of eager- 
ness as ever to his unfinished History of England in the sixteenth 
and seventeeth centuries. Competent judges who have seen the 
first few chapters, which deal with the magnificent awakening of 
the English mind under the influence of the western world in the 
days of Elizabeth, are of opinion that Cecil Mitford's work will yet 
breach over, not unworthily, the great gap now left vacant between 
Froude and Macaulay. 

And Ethel ? Well, Ethel still loves him and believes in him 
as fondly as ever. No shadow of doubt or mistrust has ever risen 
for one moment to darken the inner light of her woman's trust- 
fulness. So deep and unquestioning is her faith that Cecil feels 
it like a perpetual external conscience, constraining him for ever 
in future to live up to her higher ideal of his own nature. A good 
woman can do wonderful things ; in this case, she has almost suc- 
ceeded in changing altogether Cecil Mitford's character. And yet, 
who shall say so ? for even in the days when he was going most 
pitifully astray he fancied in his own heart he was doing it all for 
Ethel, for Ethel, for Ethel. Even then, there was in him some- 
thing a little better than mere sordid abject selfishness. What 
he once wickedly and foolishly tried to do for her by crooked and 
tortuous methods, he is now doing in a more honest and straight- 
forward fashion by slow and steady hard work. And still the 
burden of his whole life is that old one for Ethel, for Ethel, for 
Ethel. In the consciousness that he is at last making that pure 
and beautiful soul serenely and quietly happy, Cecil Mitford has 
found for himself something far more satisfying than John Cann's 
never-buried treasure. 



367 



THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 

WE have recently heard much concerning the Wonderland of 
Wyoming that amazing volcanic region where thousands of 
active geysers spout ceaselessly or intermittingly as the case may 
be where the hills are rainbow-tinted by the extraordinary de- 
posits of mineral waters, where rivers which might justly be de- 
scribed as infernal rush through deep chasms betwixt cyclopean 
cliffs, from whose every crevice rise columns of white steam, 
escaping with deafening roar or shrill whistle strange features, 
in truth, to adorn a recreation ground and altogether marvellous 
is this majestic national park, which takes its name, The Yellow- 
stone, from one of the mighty rivers which rises within its 
boundaries boundaries which enclose a tract of no less than 
3,575 square miles ! 

From this Wonderland of the Northern Hemisphere we pass 
to its counterpart in the province of Auckland, New Zealand, 
which> being off the main line of travel, has not been so prominently 
brought before the public, and yet is at this moment quietly pre- 
paring to fill a very important part in the history of the world in 
the nineteenth century and whatever years may lie beyond it. 
For here, two years ago, was formally commenced the building of 
a ' City of Health,' a sanatorium on a vast scale, for the good of 
sufferers from east and west, north and south. 

These geysers of New Zealand are not so ambitious in the 
height of their fountains, nor do the chemical deposits display 
the same extraordinary brilliancy of colouring as in Wyoming, 
but in other respects the general character of the country is 
the same, while, in addition to every conceivable display of the 
products of boiling mineral waters, we here find illustrations of 
all phases of volcanic phenomena of the dry type. The sacred 
mountain Tongariro is an active volcano, vomiting fire and smoke 
from a mighty cinder-cone which rises dark and bare from a base 
of perpetual snow. Other volcanoes, now extinct (or we may 
more safely say dormant), show us craters and lava-streams of all 
forms and characters from the most jagged sea of black lava- 
rocks to beds of the finest volcanic ash. 

The volcanic region of New Zealand's hot springs forms a 



368 THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 

belt averaging thirty miles in width, and extending over 150 
miles in length that is to say, it extends northward from the 
aforesaid active volcano to the sea-coast on the shores of the Bay 
of Plenty, reappearing twenty-eight miles from the land at Wha- 
kari or White Island. This is a conical isle, about three miles in 
circumference, and is simply the summit of a great extinct volcano, 
which rises from the ocean bed, at so steep an angle that the 
water close to the shore is upwards of two hundred fathoms 
deep. The ancient crater is now filled by a lake of intensely acid 
mineral water, which is fed by numerous boiling springs and 
intermittent geysers. The analysis of this water shows it to 
contain very large quantities of the sulphates of iron, soda, 
potash, lime, magnesia, alumina, and ammonia. Also silicic, sul- 
phuric, phosphoric, and hydrochloric acids, with various other 
chemical substances. This water is too powerful to be used 
medicinally in its natural state, but may prove valuable in the 
hands of chemists. 

The cone only rises to a height of 863 feet, but it sends forth 
volumes of steam which, in calm weather, float upwards in a 
silvery column to about 2,000 feet, so that the cloud canopy of 
the White Island is discernible from afar, and hence the isle 
derives its name, otherwise it might more justly be called the 
Yellow Isle, being chiefly composed of pure sulphur. There is 
indeed one geyser of liquid black mud at a temperature of 200 
Fahr., but most of the geysers and lakes which surround the great 
crater are sulphurous, and banks of purest crystallised sulphur 
assume a green so exquisite as to resemble verdant meadows. 
These meadows, however, are traversed by boiling streams, and 
the whole soil is so hot as to render walking highly unpleasant. 

Corresponding to the Great Yellowstone Lake and Eiver of the 
American Yellowstone Kegion are the Lake Taupo and the Wai- 
kato River in the heart of the New Zealand Wonderland. Both 
are on a smaller scale, the, lake being only about twenty by 
thirty miles in extent, but it is nevertheless a fine sheet of water. 
Though its shores are generally low and devoid of all beauty of 
foliage, it is partly hemmed in by inaccessible basaltic cliffs, which 
rise precipitously from the water to a height of about 700 feet. 
Beyond it the dark cone of Tongariro towers to a height of 6,500 
feet, and somewhat more distant are the triple snow peaks of 
Ruapehu, the highest mountain on the island, which attains to 
9,000 feet. At its base, in the region known as the Onetapu 



THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 369 

Desert, there are various powerful mineral springs, one of which is 
so strongly charged with sulphates of iron and alumina as to taint 
the waters of the Whangaehu Eiver from its source to the sea, a 
distance of seventy miles in a due southerly direction. The 
Waikato River rises in the same neighbourhood, but flows due 
north, passing near Rota Aira, a small lake (1,577 feet above the 
sea level) at the foot of the Pihanga mountain. At Tuku Tuku, 
on the shores of the lake, picturesquely situated among fine old 
forest trees, there is a boiling spring of great repute for the heal- 
ing of divers diseases, and the Maoris travel long distances to 
bathe in and drink of its waters. 

They have a fascinating legend to account for the origin of 
this fiery region, and tell how the ancestral pair from whom they 
all descend came from the volcanic region of Hawaii, bringing 
with them a kindling of the sacred fire. This they deposited on 
the summit of Whakari, the White Island, where the wife re- 
mained to tend it, while her husband, Ngatoroirangi, ' the Great 
Runner from the other world,' went inland, escorted by his sole 
attendant, a devoted slave called Ngauruhoe, i.e. 4 one who paddles 
in foaming waters.' They ascended Tongariro, thence to survey 
the land, but the Hawaiian follower was stricken by the cold, and 
so fell ill. Thereupon 6 the Great Runner ' shouted to his wife, 
and bade her hasten to bring the fire a journey of a hundred 
and fifty miles. The faithful spouse heard her lord's voice and 
started forthwith in such hot haste that she let many sparks fall 
by the way, and wherever they fell, dropping through fissures into 
the earth, there burst forth subterranean fires, geysers, fumaroles, 
or other forms of volcanic action. But with all her haste she 
reached the summit of Tongariro too late to save the life of the 
slave, so she laid the fire on the mountain, which became a volcano 
like those of Hawaii, and the principal crater still bears the name 
of Ngauruhoe, the strong rower who had paddled the primeval 
canoe all the way from Hawaii. 

Still flowing north, the Waikato River enters Lake Taupo at 
its southernmost extremity, 1,250 feet above the sea. Near this 
point of junction lies the native town of Tokaano, where a large 
Maori population has established itself in the midst of an ex- 
tensive group of hot springs, some of which are active and some 
quiescent, some boiling and others tepid. These are severally 
apportioned for bathing, cooking, washing clothes, and similar 
domestic purposes. 

175 



370 THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 

The favourite bath, where the villagers congregate morning 
and evening to enjoy the prolonged bliss of social bathing, is a 
pool lying between two geysers, from which flows the supply of 
boiling water, regulated by a very simple artificial process, the 
conduit being closed at will, by the aid of a few turfs, or bundles 
of fern. 

The village is traversed by a fine stream of clear cold water, 
the temperature of which is no wise affected by the numerous 
boiling springs which bubble on either shore, and yet it has been 
estimated by Dr. Hochstetter that there must be fully five hun- 
dred spots in this immediate neighbourhood which eject either 
steam, boiling mud, or hot water ; indeed, the whole north side 
of the neighbouring Kakaramea mountain seems to have been 
steamed till it has become nothing but a mass of soft mud, with 
a thin external crust clothed with green scrubby vegetation 
through which boiling water and wreaths or columns of steam 
escape by a thousand fissures, with continual noise, like the work- 
ing of machinery. 

It seems almost incredible that human beings should care to 
select such a spot as a home, yet here the great Maori chief Te 
Heu Heu chose to establish himself and his tribe; but in 1846 
an awful avalanche of mud fell and engulfed the village of Te 
Rapa, with all its inhabitants. A son, however, escaped to bear 
the honoured name of his father, and traces back an unbroken 
genealogy for sixteen generations, covering a period of five hun- 
dred years. 

For such persons as do not appreciate hot mineral baths, there 
are the cool, and exquisitely clear, bright green waters of Lake 
Taupo and the Waikato, and here again we wonder that these 
should be so little affected by the seething cataracts which pour 
into them from so many boiling springs, some of which, overleap- 
ing the rocky walls of the river, deposit a wide crust of white 
stalagmite, which presents the appearance of a permanent petrified 
waterfall. 

It is generally supposed that Lake Taupo was once a vast 
crater, and that its chimney acts as a subterranean conduit for the 
drainage of its superfluous waters. Certain it is that from many 
tributary streams it receives a very much larger supply than it 
discharges by the Waikato, which flows right through the lake, 
and is its only visible outlet. At the point whence it resumes its 
course there is another native village, named Tapuaeharuru, i.e. 



THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 3?1 

' The Kesounding Footsteps,' in allusion to the hollow rumbling 
noise produced by treading on cavernous ground. Here the 
stream rushes violently down an exceedingly deep but very narrow 
gorge, not seventy yards wide. So soon as its rocky channel allows 
it to expand, it assumes a breadth of about three hundred yards, 
very still but of great depth. A few miles lower it is once more 
hemmed in by mighty rock walls, and forces its way through a 
chasm barely thirty feet wide, wherein the rushing torrent is 
churned into snowy foam, and is then shot forth horizontally, as 
if from a cannon, to fall at last into a deep dark-green pool fifty 
feet below. 

This fall is called Te Huka, i.e. ' The Foam,' and is associated 
with another legend of Maori daring or rather foolhardiness. 
A party of about seventy natives from Whanganui on the Taranaki 
sea-coast came to Lake .Taupo and challenged the tribe resident 
at Tapuaeharuru to descend the awful rapids, and shoot the Huka 
in their canoes. The challenge was refused, but the visitors, in 
sheer bravado, started on the perilous journey. As a matter of 
course, their long narrow canoe was swallowed up as soon as it 
entered the foaming gorge, and only one man (who contrived at 
the last moment to leap ashore) was ever seen again. 

In general, the Maoris have a wholesome respect for all such 
natural forces. Thus they will on no account approach the isle 
in the centre of Lake Taupo, because they say an evil dragon 
dwells there, ready to swallow up any rash canoe which ventures 
near a legend which doubtless refers to a whirlpool caused by 
the rush of water down the funnel of the ancient crater. 

Another dragon myth is attached to the blue waters of Lake 
Tikitapu, which lies embosomed in steep wooded hills. Here 
Tu-wharatoa, the St. George of New Zealand, did battle with 
Taniwha, the great dragon, which he conquered, but did -not slay, 
only condemning it henceforth to live peacefully at the bottom of 
the lake ; so now, when the storm-swept lake is white with crested 
waves, the Maoris say that Taniwha is turning over restlessly, 
weary of forced inaction. 

Again, as we crossed beautiful Lake Tarawera in a Maori canoe 
paddled by fourteen much tattooed natives, they halted beside a 
rock where tribute must be paid to the Atua, or guardian spirit 
of the lake, to ensure fair weather. The tribute accepted was ex- 
ceedingly moderate, being merely fragments of our luncheon, but 
the Atua was evidently satisfied with the attention, for we were 



372 THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 

favoured with glorious weather. The great mountain which over- 
shadows this lake is deemed so sacred that the Maoris have 
hitherto held it strictly tapu, and have suffered no traveller to set 
foot upon it. Indeed, till within the last two years, when the 
Grovernment of New Zealand happily took the matter in hand, 
they only admitted foreigners to this district on sufferance, and 
guarded their rights most jealously as my own small experience 
went to prove, for never have I so narrowly escaped getting into 
hot water in any country as when I commenced sketching at the 
Hot Lake a novel but attractive process, which at once suggested 
to the Maori mind the possibility of compelling me to pay the 
tribe a royalty of 51. for this privilege, 1 a precedent which I 
was naturally not anxious to be the first to establish ! 

In the immediate neighbourhood of the aforesaid village of 
the ' Eesounding Footsteps ' (a name, by the way, which we find 
again on the shores of Roto Iti ' The Small Lake ') lie an im- 
portant group of boiling springs and geysers, one of which occa- 
sionally ejects water with such violence as to have swamped canoes 
at a distance of a hundred yards. Another, called ' The Crow's 
Nest,' sometimes sends up a fountain about fifteen feet in height. 
This is an intermittent geyser ; indeed, most of these are far more 
active at some seasons than others. The Tewakaturou geyser, 
in its sportive youth, used to throw a jet right across the river, 
a distance of 130 yards, but it is now much less energetic, and 
only indulges in spasmodic gasps and splashes of scalding water. 
So numerous are the springs hereabouts that, from certain points, 
from sixty to eighty columns of steam can be counted, all in sight 
at the same glance. The Maoris classify the springs as Puias, 
which are active geysers ; Ngawhas, which are steaming springs, 
without sufficient energy to throw up a jet ; and Waiarikis, which 
include all sorts of hot pools suitable for bathing, and also, I think, 
the pools of liquid mud which are found to have such special 
healing virtue. 

About twenty miles farther down the Waikato River is the 
Maori town of Orakeikorako, which is a true hydropathic estab- 
lishment, being situated in the very heart of a group of the most 
remarkable hot springs of the country. At every few yards boil- 
ing pools bubble from the ground, which is traversed in every 
direction by hot streams. Columns of steam rise from every 

,... I , For fuller details of the Wonderland of New Zealand, see 'At Home in 
Fiji,' by C. F. Gordon Gumming, vol. ii. pp. 182-288. 



THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 373 

crevice in the steep river banks, and from eighty to a hundred may 
be counted within a very short distance one of another. How 
children can be reared in the midst of such dangers is indeed a 
marvel ; yet the little brown Maori huts are actually built on the 
mounds of snow-white silica and other chemical substances de- 
posited by the boiling waters. These produce curiously varied 
colouring, from the delicate primrose of sulphur to copperas-green 
and ferruginous orange, while every shade of salmon and pale 
rose colour, deepening to dark red, contrast strangely with the 
dazzling whiteness of the silica and the dark green of the stunted 
vegetation. 

One of the principal geysers, which has a temperature of about 
202, and is in constant ebullition, has formed a silicious terrace 
or rather a series of terraces extending right down to the river's 
brink. Thus the village is provided with exquisite white marble 
baths, all fringed with deep stalactites. One of these forms a most 
delightful natural arm-chair, nature-polished to a degree of smooth- 
ness which must be felt to be realised ; and so rapid is the deposit 
of silica that the luxurious bather, who has reposed for half an 
hour in this delicious pool, acquires a thin coating of this trans- 
parent glaze which makes the skin feel so enchantingly smooth 
and soft as to be rather suggestive of the silky plumage of a water- 
bird (and what can I suggest smoother and pleasanter to the touch 
than the soft breast-feathers of a wild duck in good condition ?). 

One of the attractions of this place is an alum cave, where a 
warm pool of the loveliest light-blue water is cradled in a cavern 
all encrusted with crystals of pure white alum. The rock around 
is of a deep-red hue, but it is veiled by a profusion of tall, silvery 
tree-ferns, growing in rank luxuriance ; and nowhere are these 
graceful darlings of the vegetable kingdom to be seen in greater 
perfection than in such parts of New Zealand's primeval forests as 
have escaped the too-' improving ' hand of the settlers. I have 
seen some which carried their exquisite crown of lacelike foliage 
on a stem fully forty feet in height, forming a fairy-like canopy 
for a whole fern-kingdom of humbler growths. Fairy-like indeed 
is the scene when at night the innumerable glowworms light 
their tiny lanterns, and thousands of pale-green rays glitter on 
every hand. 

The daintiest ferns seem specially to rejoice in the warm, 
steaming atmosphere of the hot springs, on whose very brink they 
flourish, therein finding conditions of well-nigh tropical existence. 



374 THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 

They clothe the margin of every crevice and fissure from which rise 
heated air and steam, so that ofttimes deluded cattle and horses, 
attracted by the lovely green, venture too close to dangerous 
ground, and suddenly disappear, to be no more seen. 

Very beautiful is the soft verdure of the ferns and lycopo- 
diums which so delicately tapestry even the steepest cliffs of the 
Waikato Kiver that it is sometimes difficult to discern where the 
clear, bright green of the water blends with that of the vegetation. 
This is especially the case at the lovely Kainbow Falls, about ten 
miles lower down the river than the last-named Maori town 
(Orakeikorako). Here the river rolls in broad green waves, falling 
headlong over a ledge of deep-red rock, when it widens into a 
broad pool, enfolding exquisitely verdant isles both above and below 
the falls. Just beyond this pool, on the very brink of the stream, 
bubbles a hot spring, which is made to feed a native bathing tank, 
wherein the Maoris revel in cheerful company, while enjoying a 
beautiful view of the Kainbow-girdled Falls and the mountain 
beyond. 

At about this point the Waikato abandons the hot-springs 
region, and traverses the province of Auckland in a north-westerly 
direction. But the most important springs lie within a great 
circle just to the north of the Eainbow Falls ; and, indeed, the 
whole Pacroa range seems to be made up of all manner of boiling 
chemicals, so thinly crusted over that none but a madman would 
attempt to climb it, so brittle and crumbling is all the ground 
from the constant action of internal steam. Sulphuretted hydrogen, 
sulphuric acid, and other sulphurous gases and vapours rise in in- 
termittent clouds from the whole surface of the range, and patches 
of yellow, red, white, and grey, chequering the whole range from 
base to summit, tell of fumaroles and mudpools, solfataras and 
sulphur banks. 

Beyond this very horrible range of steaming mountains the 
country is sprinkled with many lakes, of varying beauty and 
interest. First comes the little Koto Mahana, the Hot Lake par 
excellence, and by far the most wonderful centre of all volcanic 
displays, for around its shores are collected such infinitely varied 
phenomena that the wondering traveller scarcely knows whether 
the influences of Heaven or Hell preponderate, so exquisite is the 
dreamlike loveliness of the snowy silica terraces, where a thousand 
waterfalls seem to have been suddenly frozen and fringed with 
icicles, and a thousand shell-like baths, filled to the brim with the 



THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 375 

purest blue water, invite the weary to luxuriate in their warmth, 
and acquire that delicious smoothness of skin to which I have 
already alluded. And yet, a few steps farther bring him to such 
repulsive pools of boiling mud ; such strange volcanoes throwing 
up mud or brimstone ; such terrible boiling pools, green or bright 
yellow, or indigo coloured ; such awful roaring or ear-splitting 
whistles of steam from fissures in the rock, that each moment 
brings a new sensation of delight or of horror. 

To bathe at early dawn in one of these fairy-like white marble 
baths choosing the exact temperature one prefers, and the ex- 
act depth of water that suits swimming or non-swimming powers 
is a bliss which one would fain prolong indefinitely. Yet not 
less comforting is the evening bath by moonlight, in the mudtank, 
which by daylight looks so very unattractive, but which a wise old 
Maori woman has carefully prepared, at the most approved tem- 
perature, by running in due proportions of cold and boiling water 
by means of channels from neighbouring springs. Verily, for 
weary wayfarers no more delightful remedy could be recommended 
than an hour spent in a Roto Mahana mud bath, and I have no 
doubt whatever that the time is at hand when learned physicians 
will send many of their patients to try a course of these, as the 
last and best advice they have to offer. 

The Maoris, with a faith born of long experience, bring their 
sorely tried rheumatic friends from far and near : and well are 
their pains rewarded, for many who have been crippled for years 
are here restored to comparative comfort and health. We saw 
one poor lad who literally lived in a mudpool, just like one of the 
African mudfishes. He was suffering from an agonising hip 
disease, and his friends had carried him from afar to try this 
blessed remedy. He certainly obtained great relief from lying 
in the muddy water for hours, but, in his weakly state, he very 
naturally fainted on being removed, so his kindred thought the 
best thing they could do was to build a hut over the pool, and 
keep him in it permanently. So there he had already lain for 
months, and would probably remain until he died. 

Some of the boiling mud-pools are horribly repulsive. They 
lie in great natural pits or craters, and, as you stand on the brink 
watching the surface of black boiling mud slowly upheave, with a 
dull gurgle, and then burst in the form of a monstrous bubble, 
you can scarcely repress a shudder at the thought of how one slip 
of the foot on that greasy soil might plunge you headlong into 



376 THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 

that horrible pool, therein to be hopelessly engulfed. The very 
silence with which it works is an element of horror, contrasting 
with the noise and energy of the clear boiling lakes, and the roar 
of the steam-clouds as they escape from a thousand fissures in the 
rocks and from chasms all over the mountain-sides. 

There is, however, one mud-lake in which interest predominates 
over horror. It is an expanse of half-liquid grey mud, from the 
surface of which rise a multitude of small mud volcanoes really 
miniatures, not more than three or four feet in height, but each a 
perfect model of an ideal conical crater, like Vesuvius or any other 
volcano of graceful outline. From each little summit come puffs 
of white steam, and then a small eruption of boiling clay, which, 
trickling down the surface, gradually builds up the tiny mountain. 

The Maoris not only absorb this chemical mud externally, but 
they take large quantities internally. There are several places 
where a thick dark mud exudes from fissures in the rock, and 
this they have discovered to be edible, and eat large handfuls 
with the greatest appreciation. One boiling mud-hole is known as 
the Porridge Pot in consequence of this peculiarity, and the natives 
who visit it swallow enough to satisfy any ordinary appetite. 

What with mud-pools and mud volcanoes, and one large vol- 
cano of pure sulphur, and columns of steam rising on every side 
from the well-baked hills, and from the surface of the lake what 
with many-coloured boiling pools, and the silvery whiteness of 
snowy terraces, Koto Mahana is, in truth, such a centre of marvels 
as seem to belong to some creation other than the steady-going 
world on whose solid surface we live our commonplace lives. 

The sulphur volcano rises from the brink of the lake, very 
near the so-called 'Pink Terraces,' which, in point of fact, are dis- 
tinguished from the ' White Terraces ' by a most delicate tinge of 
pale salmon colour, like reflected sunlight on snow. The sulphur 
volcano produces a most startling effect of colouring in contrast 
with the vivid blue of sky and lake. It is entirely yellow just 
the colour of a bright primrose and the great column of steam 
ascending from it is primrose-hued, and all the water near it is 
thus tinted, while the rocks far and near are coated with a deposit 
of pure sulphur. 

Though this was the only spot where I saw an actual volcano 
of sulphur, there are great banks of it at various points, notably 
in the neighbourhood of Lake Eotorua, where sulphur baths will 
form an important feature in the attractions of the new town. 



THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 377 

But in numerous places the rocks are traversed by sulphur veins 
hollow tubes through which scalding steam rises in intermittent 
puffs, depositing sulphur crystals of exceeding beauty in form 
resembling the patterns of fairy-frostwork on our windows, and 
almost as perishable when touched. The colouring of the rocks, 
owing to this sulphur < yellow-stone,' and the presence of numerous 
other mineral substances, is very wonderful. Every variety of 
vivid metallic green, brown, red, and orange present themselves 
by turn, and are in some places as intricately blended as in the 
serpentine rocks of Kynance on our own Cornish coast- rocks 
which, in their strange combinations of scarlet and green, with 
cross lines of black and white, are to me always suggestive of our 
gayest Scotch tartans fossilised ! 

In some places, rocks such as these encompass dark indigo- 
coloured pools, boiling furiously, and lashing their rock walls with 
white surf, while throwing up columns of dazzlingly white steam. 
Perhaps the very next lakelet is of the most exquisitely clear 
green, and, while equally boiling, rolls in green waves, to break in 
white foam on a level shore of volcanic fragments. Close by, we 
often find some quiet pool of cold water, showing how totally 
unconnected are the water-pipes in this strange 'hydropathic' 
region. 

Far as the eye can reach on every side rise the red volcanic 
hills, partially disintegrated by the ceaseless action of steam, which 
rises in bewildering clouds from the myriad fissures and the 
multitudinous boiling pools which lie hidden among the dark scrub 
that clothes the hills in every direction a low jungle composed 
chiefly of ti-tree or manukau, a stunted tree resembling juniper. 
Large ferns also flourish in the warm steam, and some of the 
loveliest grow on the very brink of fissures, whence rises a hot damp 
atmosphere which probably deludes those delicate beauties into an 
impression that they are in the tropics ! 

So great is the fascination of exploring this world of wonders, 
never knowing what strange thing may be suddenly revealed to 
one's amazed eyes, that the temptation to leave the beaten track 
is almost irresistible. But well do the Maoris know the dangers 
that surround every unwary footstep, and earnestly do they warn 
all travellers to abstain from diverging from the footpaths which 
their own experience has proved to be secure. The fact is that 
the whole surface of the hills, which appears so solid, is, in fact, so 
sodden by the action of subterranean steam that it is liable to 



378 THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 

give way under the most cautious footstep it is, in fact, nothing 
more than a thin brittle crust, of the most treacherous character, 
covering no one can tell what variety of horrors. 

Of course, at first it is very difficult fully to realise how great 
the danger really is, and any one accustomed to mountain climb- 
ing is apt to suppose that he can surely use his own bump of 
caution so as to secure his safety. I confess to having myself 
been somewhat rash in this respect, and my Maori guide, finding 
he could not control my tendencies to rove, stipulated that at 
least I should halt at almost every step, to allow him to cut large 
branches of brushwood, which, being laid on the ground over which 
we had to pass, acted in some measure like great snow-shoes in 
covering a large space, and so diminishing our risk of breaking 
through the earth's crust and falling into whatever might lie below. 

I suppose some latent sense of gallantry made my guide 
stick to me through these perilous wanderings from the strait 
and narrow way, for in general these men are too wise to risk 
their lives by accompanying rash travellers, contenting themselves 
with warning them of their peril, and very few are so foolish as to 
diverge far. Apart from the probability of the soil giving way 
altogether beneath one's feet, one is very apt to become bewildered 
by the ever-moving clouds of steam, and the countless boiling 
springs which are so veiled by the rich fringe of overhanging 
ferns as to be scarcely visible, till they perhaps assert themselves 
by throwing out a sudden jet of scalding steam or boiling water. 
So the teaching of wisdom is not rashly to abandon the accustomed 
foot-track, which marks a safe pathway amid many wonders, all 
lying near the shores of Eoto Mahana. I spent several days of 
delight in a tiny tent in the dark scrub overlooking this lake days 
never to be forgotten, but on which I dare not venture to enlarge. 

Space only allows us to glance at the names of the other lakes. 
There is beautiful Tarawera, < the lake of the burnt cliffs,' whose 
rocky shores are fringed with fine old trees, and which is over- 
looked by Mount Tarawera, a huge bare table rock 2,000 feet in 
height, sacred as the burial place of the Arawa tribe. Around this 
large lake are scattered the Okataina, < the laughing lake,' the 
Okareka, < the pleasant lake,' the Tikitapu, < the Sacred Land-mark,' 
and the Eoto-kakahi, 'the lake of the fresh-water mussels.' The 
last-named lake has latterly been indulging in curious freaks, for 
every few days its usually clear waters assume a dirty green 
colour, with a most obnoxious smell. 



THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 379 

Farther north lies Koto Ma, ' the white lake,' and Koto Ehu, 
two little lakes lying just beyond Roto-Iti, 'the small lake,' 
which is a very prettily wooded lake, about seven miles in length 
by two in width. It is only separated by an isthmus half a mile 
wide from Kotorua, ' the second lake,' which gives its name to 
the newly commenced township of Kotorua, which will here- 
after undoubtedly become a very important sanatorium, not only 
for the invalids of New Zealand and Australasia, with their ever- 
increasing population, but also for all Europeans scattered through- 
out the Pacific, and perhaps even for sufferers from China and India, 
and it may be that some who have vainly sought renewed health at 
many of the most noted water-cures of Europe may henceforth 
look to six months at Kotorua as the sovereign remedy, reserved 
as the last and probably the best of all national hydropathics. 

Till quite recently, though the Maoris had so far practically 
experimentalised as to discover the special value of certain pools 
around which they themselves congregated, forming villages at 
many spots besides those I have mentioned, there was no sort of 
accommodation for Europeans, and only a few brave souls mustered 
courage (in the despair born of agony) to have themselves carried 
to one of these settlements, there to lodge in a wretched and dirty 
Maori wharre, or in a little tent. Yet of these helpless cripples, 
who only sought the cure when they seemed to have reached the 
last stage of weakness and exhaustion, many made such amazing 
recoveries as to open a door of hope to all. So something was 
done for Europeans, by establishing a great water-cure establish- 
ment at Waiwera, where, at a distance of thirty miles from Auck- 
land, saline and alkaline springs were discovered to be valuable in 
the treatment of rheumatic and dyspeptic complaints. 

But rumours from the interior of the isle suggested the exist- 
ence of far more powerful springs, and the advantages to be derived 
from them ; and so (although at the time of my visit to New Zea- 
land, in 1877, the citizens of Auckland could only give me the 
vaguest information concerning them, and I only met one lady 
who could tell me something authentic, from her husband having 
been to the lake district as a grand expedition) I found on 
reaching the native town of Ohinemutu, on the shores of Lake 
Rotorua, that two tidy little hotels had already sprung up, each 
being tenanted by a few European invalids in quest of health, 
who were diligently bathing and drinking of the most approved 
waters. This advance-guard of the great host of health-seekers 



380 THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 

and travellers have so quickly been followed by larger numbers, 
that five hotels in the immediate neighbourhood are now in full 
work, and others in course of erection. 

The little brown huts of the Maoris are dotted along the 
lake shores and up the hill-sides, in the very midst of in- 
numerable boiling springs of every sort, which send up ceaseless 
steam-clouds, so that the houses are only seen fitfully ; through 
the veils of white vapour. So thin is the crust of soil on which 
this strange village is established that you have only to thrust 
a walking-stick into the ground and up comes a puff of hot 
air. Even here, as at Eoto Mahana, each step requires caution, as 
any deviation from the narrow beaten tracks which lead from 
house to house would most likely plunge the careless foot into 
some very literal phase of hot water. There is a pleasing variety 
in the possible forms of danger, but not much to choose between 
them as regards the certainty of pain ! 

And yet, although a good many terrible accidents do occur, 
little children by the score are safely reared in this strange 
steaming nursery, where nature does all the household washing 
and all the cooking in natural steam-pots, finding her own soap 
into the bargain, in the form of chloride of potassium and 
of sodium, and sulphate of soda. A very sad accident had oc- 
curred shortly before my visit, when a little toddling child 
had tumbled into the village 6 laundry pool,' where its mother 
was boiling her clothes; but after all, such things, grievous 
though they be, do happen from time to time in British cottages 
and wash-tubs. In point of fact, the chapter of accidents at 
Ohinemutu is really wonderfully short, all things considered ; and 
the inhabitants have wonderful advantages in the lightening of all 
domestic labour consequent on the self-supplying, self-kindling 
furnaces which boil the natural cooking-pots, so that no care is 
required beyond depositing food in a flax bag and leaving it float- 
ing in the nearest pool till. dinner-time. Of course it is necessary 
to be sure that the pool is not strongly flavoured with alum or 
any other trifle of that sort, but long experience has taught the 
people the characteristics of the near pools, and which are safe for 
culinary purposes. 

So the human beings whose domestic cares are made so easy 
spend the greater part of their lives floating about pleasantly in 
warm pools, or immersed in mud baths ; or swimming joyously 
in their beautiful blue lake, for they are well-nigh amphibious, 



THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 381 

and fain would emulate the fame of their beautiful ancestress 
Hinemoa, who on a dark moonless night swam four miles to the 
Mokoia Isle, in the middle of Lake Eotorua, there to keep tryst 
with her true love Tutcnekai a legend much appreciated by her 
descendants. 

When not in the water, they delight to lounge about on a 
rude pavement of large flat stones, which being laid above boiling 
springs are always pleasantly heated ; so here the grave old chiefs 
and their followers love to recline in their flax cloaks, or blankets, 
discussing affairs of the village and smoking (alas, how unroman- 
tic !) common short clay pipes ! They have a real council-house, 
however, and a very curious place it is, being all covered with most 
grotesque carving of the true Maori type hideous figures, with 
elaborately tattooed faces, and oblique eyes formed of pearl-shell. 

Some fine specimens of really old carving lie rotting on the 
ground on a green peninsula where once stood a famous Maori 
pah (fort), of which there now only remain a few great wooden 
posts, with rudely carved heads. The place is now used as a 
burial-ground, and the grass grows vividly green above the name- 
less mounds, being ceaselessly watered by the steam which rises 
from hot springs on every side, and even floats up in filmy breaths 
from among the quiet graves. 

By what process of persuasion the Maoris have at length been 
induced to resign their rights of lordship in all this wonderful 
region to the Government of New Zealand does not appear ; but 
the practical result is one on which the vast multitude of rheumatic 
and other sufferers may well be congratulated. Not till 1881 was 
the Government able to obtain terms which should ensure to 
settlers undisturbed possession and perfect titles to land held 
under the Thermal Springs Districts Act 1881, by which three 
separate blocks of land were so made over to her Majesty's 
Government, that thenceforth all buying and selling, leasing and 
building, should be entirely under official control. 

The native proprietors do not apparently resign their own 
rights, for the Act simply provides that the Governor shall act as 
agent for the native proprietors in dealing with intending lessees, 
and that he shall treat with them for the use and enjoyment by 
the public of all mineral and other springs, lakes, rivers, and 
waters. The Governor shall further lay out and survey towns, 
suburban allotments, farms, and dedicate any of the land within a 
district for a park or domain, set apart land as sites for schools and 



382 THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN 

places of worship, &c., 'manage and control the use of all mineral 
springs, hot springs, lakes, rivers, and waters, and fix and 
authorise the collection of fees for the use thereof; erect pump- 
rooms, baths, bath-rooms, and other buildings for the conven- 
ient use of the baths, springs, and lakes. A person authorised 
by the Governor shall receive the licence fees, fees for springs or 
baths, and all other revenue, and shall expend the same in the 
improvement and maintenance of the town or district whence the 
fees and revenues arise. 

The lands proclaimed as being under the Thermal Springs 
District Act are thus specified : first, a block of about 3,200 acres, 
bounded on the north-east by Kotorua Lake ; secondly, a parcel of 
land containing 616,890 acres in the counties of Tauranga and 
East Taupo ; and thirdly, another parcel of land in East Taupo, 
containing 29,900 acres all as delineated on the plans in the 
District Survey Office, Auckland. 

Preliminaries having been decided, no further time was lost 
in starting a sanatorium which should render available the won- 
derful curative properties of the mineral springs in the vicinity 
of Lake Rotorua. The site for the future city was selected as 
being that most easy of access from all sides of the country, and 
which, while embracing a very large number of very varied hot 
springs, also presented the most suitable ground for the develop- 
ment of the town. Not least among its advantages ranks the 
prospect of the extension via Morrinsville of the existing Midland 
Railway, which will thus run in an almost direct line from Auck- 
land to Rotorua, a distance of somewhere about 160 miles, and 
as simple a journey as that from London to Brighton. 

At present the expedition involves some trouble, and a good 
deal of jolting over exceedingly bad roads. The traveller has the 
option of going from Auckland to the sea-port of Tauranga, either 
by the circuitous coast route, or by the easier (though still more 
circuitous) steamer. Of course the former is the more interesting, 
so on- my visit to the lake district I took the steamer from Auck- 
land to Grahamstown (a gold-mining city), thence on -another day 
by river steamer up the beautiful Thames River, to the house of 
a friend, who on the following morning escorted me across country 
- a long day's ride through very varied scenery, to Kati-kati, an 
Irish settlement, where we were hospitably entertained for the 
night. On the fourth day, having the option of another long 
day's ride of nearly forty miles, or twenty-five miles by boat down 



THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 383 

the lake, I chose the latter, and, after a day's rest at Tauranga, 
thence hired a strong bush carriage with four-horse team to bring 
me the last forty-two miles to Ohinemutu, on Lake Kotorua, over 
the atrocious bush road, the worst parts of which had been re- 
paired by felling beautiful tree-ferns, and laying their slender 
stems side by side, to form a corduroy roadway ! Horrible van- 
dalism ! 

One would fain hope that, now that the district has become in 
a manner Government property, its beauties may be protected, 
even including the tree-ferns, which have hitherto been felled 
wholesale in the most ruthless manner. And yet the artist and 
lover of beautiful nature cannot but grieve over the certain de- 
struction of the forests that is implied in the announcement that 
* timber for building purposes grows in abundance on the ranges 
near, and along the shores of Kotorua and Koto Iti Lakes,' and 
that ' the forests on the other side of the lake contain vast quanti- 
ties of timber of the finest quality for house-building, and it is 
quite available.' The rocks too will be pressed into the service 
of the builders, more especially a ' grey-coloured stone (silicious 
sinter) formed by deposits from hot springs now extinct.' 

Much as we are all bound to rejoice that the healing waters will 
henceforth be available to all suffering humanity, we may be 
forgiven for indulging in a corner of regret for the vulgarising 
influences that will ere long so certainly desecrate these awful and 
majestic scenes. Even hitherto the Maori owners of the exquisite 
terraces have had to keep constant watch to guard these beautiful 
creations from the barbarous relic-hunters and goths, whose chief 
aim was, and ever will be, to break off stalactites, and to write their 
own snobbish names on the pure white marble, knowing that all 
such inscriptions are indelibly preserved by the next coating of 
transparent silica glaze. The broken bottles and picnic fragments 
which ever mark the invasion of the great tourist host will soon 
bestrew these solemn shores, and unpoetic-looking wooden houses 
will spring up in every direction such unsightly mushroom growths 
as would repel Puck himself ! 

Unfortunately, artistic beauty is a quality which does not 
enter into the domestic architecture of New Zealand and 
Australia, where the general type of house-building is of the 
barest and most unadorned order. Instead of the pretty homes 
of the bungalow type, so familiar in most other countries (where 
the wide verandah, embowered in blossoms, gives so much beauty 



384 THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 

as well as additional space), the settlers in these colonies gene- 
rally run up a < weatherboard ' house of the very plainest sort, 
with no verandah, and consequently no encouragement for the 
cultivation of flowers, which in this blessed climate of New 
Zealand grow so readily and so luxuriantly. Too often, alas ! the 
establishment of an Anglo-Saxon settlement implies the destruc- 
tion of all natural beauty the streams and springs are imprisoned 
in set channels, the hills denuded of their timber, the very coast- 
line of sea or lake altered to meet the requirements of esplanades 
or embankments. 

Doubtless many such disenchanting changes are in store for 
the now unique geyser-strewn shores of the romantic Blue Lake. 
Of course much will depend on the manner in which these trans- 
formations are accomplished, and the ground plans of the town- 
ship, prepared by the Government surveyors, show an admirable 
intention of preserving the most remarkable natural phenomena 
by reserving the greater part of the lake-shore as recreation 
grounds, to be laid out for public enjoyment. An area of about 
six hundred acres is devoted to rectangular streets, all of which, 
with one exception, have most happily been endowed with Maori 
.names such as Tutanekai Street, Hinemaru Street, Whakaue 
Street, Pukaki, Arawa, Haupapa, Hinemoa, Amohia, and Ranolf 
Streets, and so on thus happily commemorating old Maori 
legends of brave men and beautiful women. 

Already some of these have been planted as street avenues, 
with a view to their becoming shady boulevards, and the laying 
out of the recreation grounds has been commenced. In March 
1882 a hundred and twenty-five acres of the township were put 
up to public auction on a ninety-nine years' lease, and the most 
eligible building sites on the hilly slopes overlooking the beau- 
tiful Blue Lake were offered to the public in half-acre lots. These 
realised a clear annual rental of 2,700L, so that the infant town 
already found itself in possession of a small income. So, very 
soon, not only the streets which look so imposing on paper will 
come into actual existence, but all the neighbourhood will be 
dotted over with villas and gardens. Sites for churches, schools, 
post office, railway station, and hospital are reserved. Hotels and 
lodging-houses will be governed by regulations suitable to the 
exceptional character of the town. All mineral waters, hot springs 
and streams, remain vested in the Crown, and will be under con- 
trol of a local municipal body. 



THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 385 

A resident medical officer, appointed by Government, will 
have charge of the district^ and will receive a certain number of 
private patients at his, official residence, while poorer patients, 
sent at the expense of hospitals and charitable institutions in 
other parts of the colony for the benefit of the waters, will receive 
gratuitous medical attendance and care at the large hospital the 
building of which was commenced in 1881. 1 

A large pavilion, fitted up with baths and dressing-rooms, has 
been erected in the midst of the most powerful springs, and four 
different kinds of mineral waters, having distinct therapeutic 
properties, have been laid on to these baths, which are in charge 
of competent attendants. A consulting-room and dispensary 
have been opened close to this pavilion, where patients can daily 
report themselves, and their progress, to the doctor, whose duty it 
will be to record all experience he may thus acquire of the medi- 
cinal action of divers waters on the various cases that come under 
his care, for the guidance of medical men in other parts of the 
country, who may thus learn what patients are likely to be bene- 
fited by a visit to Botorua. 

Here, too, is the laboratory where waters from the innumer- 
able hot and cold springs will be analysed, in order to determine 
their relative value, and so a definite course of treatment in differ- 
ent forms of disease may gradually be developed. Bathing-sheds 
will, by degrees, be built at all the most distinctive springs in the 
more remote districts, and these, doubtless, will ere long each 
become the centre of a cluster of lodgings and cottages. 

Though a comparatively small number of the springs have as 
yet been analysed, these show an almost infinite variety of chem- 
ical combinations and temperature (the latter, however, does not 
seem to affect their curative powers). Already waters have been 
tested corresponding with all the most valued mineral springs of 
Europe. There are alkaline saline springs similar to those of 
Coblentz ; alkaline acidulous like those of Vichy ; the muriated 
alkaline waters of Ems and of Wiesbaden ; the muriated lithia 
waters of Baden-Baden ; the brine-springs of Westphalia ; the 
bitter waters of Kissingen or our own Leamington; the earthy 
springs of Weissenburg or our own Bath ; the iodo-bromated 

1 The same admirable provision for the poor has led to the erection of a 
Government Hospital at the hot sulphur springs at Caldas in Portugal, where 
four hundred beds are set apart for poor patients from all parts of the king- 
dom, who are there received and cared for free of cost. 

VOL. III. NO. 16, X. S. 18 



386 THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 

springs of Kreuznach ; the chalybeates ,of Kissingen and Schwal- 
bach ; the sulphurous waters of Aix-la-Chapelle, Aix-les-Bains, 

Eaux-Bonnes in short, all the healing waters which, scattered 
over the Old World, have acquired celebrity through bygone 

ages to the present day all are here reproduced in such close 
proximity that the sufferer who fails to find relief in the use of 

one can with little difficulty be transported to the next, and the 

next, till he finally discovers the one best suited to his peculiar 
malady. 

The springs hitherto analysed are roughly grouped as saline, 
alkaline, alkaline-silicious, sulphurous, and acidic. They con- 
tain the following chemical elements, in very varied proportions : 
silica, silicates of soda, lime, magnesia, and iron, sulphates of 
soda, potash, alumina, lime, magnesia and iron, chlorides of sodium, 
potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron, phosphate of alumina, 
phosphoric acid, lithia, iron oxides, hydrochloric acid, sulphuretted 
hydrogen, and sulphuric acid. 

Lithia is only found exceptionally and in very faint propor- 
tion. Iodine does not appear at all in the springs near Lake 
Rotorua, whereas it forms an important characteristic in nearly all 
the waters in the neighbourhood of Lake Taupo, hence it is evi- 
dent that these must ere long form centres of water-cure establish- 
ments as distinctive as those of Kreuznach or Harrogate. Some 
waters are found suitable only for external use ; others for 
internal ; some are valuable in the treatment of chronic nervous 
affections, others for chronic mucous inflammations and bronchial 
catarrh ; some have a marvellous effect on scorbutic and tuber- 
cular diseases, or cutaneous eruptions, while others are equally 
remarkable for their action on various phases of disordered liver. 
Without going into medical details, we may safely say that there 
is scarcely a physical ailment for which some alleviation is not here 
offered. 

Certain pools (and especially the lovely blue geysers which in 
cooling form the exquisite terraces of dazzlingly white silica) are 
found to be highly efficacious in the treatment of all gouty and 
rheumatic affections ; this is said to be due to the specific action 
of silicates in expelling the gout-producing acid from the system. 
Happy are the patients who find healing in such beautiful nature- 
built marble baths as even the luxurious old Romans never 
dreamt of! Happily, too, for the non-suffering general public, 
there can be no excuse for disfiguring the white and salmon- 






THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 387 

tinted terraces of Koto Mahana with any artificial building, inas- 
much as some of the most powerful geysers, and most strongly 
charged with silica, are found within a couple of miles of the new 
town at Whaka-Eewa-Eewa on the Puarenga Eiver, a stream 
which flows into the lake, and whose course is marked by innumer- 
able steam jets, mud cones, mud pools, solfataras and sulphur banks. 

At Whaka-Rewa-Rewa these are so closely clustered together 
as to form a very extraordinary scene, especially when viewed 
from the summit of one of the higher mounds. The surrounding 
hills and the river banks are partly covered with dark-green 
manuka scrub and luxuriant ferns, and from this dark setting rise 
numerous great cones of dazzling whiteness, like gigantic wedding- 
cakes, all formed by the deposit from silicious geysers. One of 
these monster cakes is fifteen feet high and three hundred feet 
in circumference, and there is no saying how much larger it 
may become, as this geyser is exceptionally active, and from its 
central funnel throws up a fountain about six feet high once in 
eight minutes. These silica cones are the special feature of this 
strange place, but they are seamed by fissures of burning gold in 
other words, with scalding sulphur crystals. The Maoris, who 
have a favourite settlement here, have distinctive and descriptive 
names for each of the principal cones and geysers. They say that 
the Waikati, of which I have just spoken, is most energetic at 
midsummer, that is to say in January and February, when it 
sometimes ejects a column to a height of thirty-five feet. 

But in this respect the geysers of New Zealand are not to be 
compared with those of America. Moreover, they appear to be 
less energetic than of old, as several which are said to have been 
very active twenty years ago are now quiescent. They are singu- 
larly influenced by atmospheric changes. Thus, in a strong south- 
westerly wind, the principal geyser at Whaka-Rewa-Rewa occa- 
sionally throws up a column to a height of sixty feet, and several 
of its usually quiescent neighbours seem equally inspired with 
unwonted aspirations. Their working hours are generally from 
7 to 9 A.M. and from 3 to 4 P.M., whereas the noon-tide hours are 
almost invariably devoted to rest. One geyser is called by the 
Maoris Whakaha-rua, i.e. ' the Bashful Geyser,' because it only 
begins to play after dark. 

Strange to say, the temperature of many springs is also 
singularly affected by the direction of the wind, and when it 
blows from the north or east they rise from 100 to 190. and 

182 



388 THE SANATORIUM OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN. 

bathing becomes impossible till the wind changes. Sometimes 
a north-east wind blows for weeks together from sunrise till 
sunset, and the springs daily reach boiling point at about noon, 
and so continue till the fall of the wind at eventide permits the 
temperature to subside sufficiently to allow of bathing. 

Of the springs already in highest repute, I may mention one 
whose success has been so often proved that it is known as 4 the 
Pain-killer/ It is a powerful sulphur-bath, clear and colourless, 
with a temperature of 204. It unfortunately has a most offensive 
smell, as have also the Sulphur Bay springs, which consist of 
innumerable sulphur jets, bursting up through the sands on the 
brink of Lake Rotorua and forming a famous natural sulphur-bath. 
Wai-hunu-hunu-kuri is a muddy ferruginous bath with excess of 
silica. Another which retains its Maori name is Te Kawhanga, a 
large and very muddy chocolate-coloured pool, constantly dis- 
charging a gas which produces a sensation of faintness like that 
caused by inhaling laughing-gas. 

Manupirua, a beautifully clear-blue hot pool, twenty feet in 
diameter, is in great favour with the natives on account of its 
healing properties. It lies at the foot of a high pumice cliff on 
the shore of Lake Rotorua, and deposits a large amount of sulphur. 
The temperature ranges from 107 to 110. But still more 
precious are the waters of Te Kute, < the Great Spring,' which is 
about ten miles from Ohinemutu. It is a muddy-brown boiling 
pool three-quarters of an acre in extent, and from its surface rise 
dense volumes of steam. Its waters contain a large proportion of 
sulphuretted hydrogen, and it is considered to work miracles in 
the cure of rheumatism and sundry cutaneous diseases. 

But it is useless further to particularise a few out of the many 
thousand springs which await analysis. Those I have enumerated 
sufficiently indicate the character of the whole, and afford some 
idea of the materials which await investigation, and which, when 
their uses are understood and practically applied to the relief of 
human suffering, must exalt the new city of Rotorua to a position 
above all others in the health- conferring regions of the world. 



389 



A RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION. 



MY house, like that of the American patriot immortalized in 
Martin Chuzzlewit, is now ' beyond the setting sun ' that is to 
say, in the uttermost regions of western Manchester but there was 
a time when it was situated at the opposite extremity of Cottono- 
polis, from which I fled, for reasons to be hereafter stated, with 
the feeling that I could not put too great a distance between my- 
self and it. My former habitation was a semi-detached villa (of 
which I was also the proud proprietor) in Paradise Kow. My 
occupation lay in the town, but it had in truth but small charms 
for me. It was there I made the wax from which I derived the 
major portion of my income ; but my honey and I was a very busy 
bee at that time was made at home after office hours, still, indeed, 
by the pen, but in a very different fashion. My soul was devoted 
to Literature, and all the time that I could spare from Messrs. 
Bale and Crop, cotton-cornerers, was given to composition. Except 
for the interval consumed in getting home, I might indeed have 
been said to have stepped from my high stool on to the back of 
Pegasus, which took me flights which lasted from seven o'clock to 
ten. 

Let me hasten to say that this expression is metaphorical. As 
a man who is still connected (at all events on one side) with 
business, I should be sorry to have it supposed that I ever wrote 
poetry. No, it was only prose, though prose (if I may be per- 
mitted to say so) of a high order. I wrote stories for the maga- 
zines, and leading articles for a local newspaper or two what, in 
short, may be fairly called imaginative literature. I had a young 
wife and a growing family, and the addition I thus made to my 
official income was very welcome, yet not more so than the work 
itself. With my quill pen in my hand I could never use a steel 
one, such as sufficed me in the City, for these flights my knees 
in their snug haven under my writing-table, and a good stock of 
ideas in my head to draw upon, I felt as happy as a king. It is a 
modest pleasure, known to few and envied probably by none, but, 
believe me, there is none more satisfying or supreme. 



390 A RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION. 

When our little children had been put to bed, my wife used to 
come down and sit with me, occupying herself with needlework. 
It was understood that (like a ghost) she was not to speak unless 
she was spoken to, lest she should interrupt the flow of com- 
position. I could trust her for that, implicitly. There are some 
good women who can never keep silence when they work for two 
consecutive minutes, but must be always making some muttered 
observation about their stitches ; Clementina was not one of that 
sort, which was fortunate for both of us. 

There might have been two opinions (that is, my opinion and 
that of other people) as to whether my work may have been of a 
meritorious or valuable kind, but, such as it was, it required perfect 
silence. If there was the least noise, a coal flying out from the 
fire, a door banging in the attics, all was over with me : if a night- 
ingale had begun to sing in the back garden, I should have been 
paralysed ; our two maid-servants always went about during those 
hours of composition in list slippers. 

For a month after my purchase of Eden Lodge, Paradise Eow, 
the house in no way belied its name ; but in the fifth week the 
serpent raised its head among the flowers, and hissed out, ' Sir, you 
are mistaken about the name of your residence ; this is Purgatory 
Villa.' 

It was about 7.15 P.M., and I had as usual sat down alone to 
my beloved occupation, when from the party wall at which my 
desk was placed there issued forth a bang as if a cannon had gone 
off, followed by three or four shrill explosions, such as are caused 
by rockets. For the moment I really thought they were rockets, 
and that the sticks had penetrated my brain, which indeed was 
scattered in all directions. 

My faithful wife, who had felt the shock in the nursery, rushed 
downstairs, and was by my side in an instant. As she entered the 
room the hideous cannonade was resumed, and with such effect 
that the hearth-brush fell down (stunned) in the corner of the 
fireplace, and the top of my ink-bottle shut of itself with a 
click. 

' Merciful heavens ! ' I cried, < what is it? 5 
' I feared it would annoy you,' began Clementina, in trembling 
tones. 

' Annoy me ! It has destroyed me,' I exclaimed. < Not another 
line shall I be able to write to-night. What is it ? ' 

4 My dear Charles, I am sorry to say it is the daughter of our 



A RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION. 391 

neighbour, Mrs. Brown, who has just come home from school, and 
is practising " The Battle of Prague." Jemima, whom we took with 
Eden Lodge, you know, says she does it all through the holidays. 
The foolish girl never said a word about it, or I am sure you would 
never have bought the house.' 

6 But do you mean to say this is to go on always, always ? ' I 
exclaimed despairingly. ' Hark at it ! ' 

It was like a magnificent pyrotechnic display without the fire- 
works. No human being could stand it ; no one but a fiend could 
have inflicted it. 

' It goes on, Jemima says,' replied my wife despondingly, ' for 
six weeks from seven to ten : only on Sundays she plays sacred 
music.' 

I am not a passionate person, but I am impatient, and if at 
that moment I could have got at that girl next door, I believe, not- 
withstanding her sex, her age, and her piety, that I should have 
strangled her. The question was not one to be put aside, or de- 
bated about, for an instant, and I sat down at once and wrote 
to Brown (as well as that infernal melody would permit me) a 
letter of courteous remonstrance. I was on something more than 
speaking terms with him, and believed him to be on the whole a 
good-natured fellow, but I had a suspicion that he had a termagant 
for a wife. Mrs. Brown laced too tightly not to have a temper ; 
but still she must have a woman's heart beating someivhere ; and 
surely in a Christian country but I anticipate if that can be 
called anticipation which is the very reverse of what one has 
ventured to expect. 

My letter ran as follows : 

4 Dear Mr. Brown, In thus addressing myself to you, I know 
I am relying upon our relations as friendly neighbours, and by no 
means urging a legal right. In the eye of the law, an English- 
man's house is his castle, and he can, if he pleases, fire royal 
salutes from its battlements night and day. Unfortunately, I am 
so constituted that noise utterly destroys my power to do literary 
work, in which (as you are aware) I am of necessity engaged from 
seven to ten every evening. Your dear little daughter's piano- 
playing is quite wonderful for her age [this was very true : no 
full-grown demon, I should have thought, far less an imp of her 
years, could have created such discord], but if you would kindly 
contrive that she should pursue it during the daytime instead of 



392 A RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION. 

between the hours aforesaid, you would lay me under an eternal 
obligation. 

' Awaiting your kind consent, for which I thank you before- 
hand, ' I am, yours truly, 

< CHARLES JONES.' 

I was in such a state of anxiety and excitement the hideous 
cannonade continuing all this time, without one instant's cessa- 
tion that I wrote upon the envelope ' Bearer waits,' and bade my 
messenger bring back the answer. It came quickly enough, but 
put an end to my suspense only to substitute for it an agony of 
despair. It was, as I guessed in a moment from the handwriting, 
all sloping like the ears of a donkey in a state of obstinacy, the 
female Brown who addressed me as follows : 

4 Dear Sir, My husband is from home, but your application 
is one which I have no hesitation in answering in his name in the 
negative ; you are, as you very properly remark, urging no legal 
claim whatever, and you must forgive me for adding that your 
request is preposterous. It is not convenient for my daughter to 
pursue her musical studies except between seven and ten, to 
which hours, as heretofore, she will confine them. 

6 Yours truly, ' ABIGAIL BROWN.' 

Late as it was, I clapped on my hat, repaired to the house- 
agent of whom I had purchased Eden Lodge, and procured from 
him an advertisement-board, which I stuck up on a pole in front 
of the house that very night. * This villa residence to be sold, 
with immediate possession ; no reasonable offer will be refused.' 

After that I walked about the streets till ten o'clock, and 
returned home a little comforted. My wife assured me that the 
noise had ceased precisely at that hour, but the echoes of it 
seemed to be still ringing through the house ; I felt that I was on 
the brink of a nervous fever, and wrote to my employers to say 
that my return to business must for the present be uncertain. I 
intended to stop at home de die in diem (until seven o'clock), so 
as to miss no chance of any one calling to bid for it, till that house 
was disposed of. 

The very next morning a card was sent in to me with * Mr. 
Joseph Plumlin ' on it. He was a thick-set man of by no means 
aristocratic appearance, but I welcomed him as if he had been 
one of the royal family. His manner was curt in the extreme, 



A RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION. 393 

but I thought he looked an honest man, and the City side of my 
character assured me at the first glance that he was the sort of 
person who means business. 

' I see this house is to sell,' he said. ' I am a builder, and 
know when a house is worth buying ; if we can come to terms, I 
mean to buy Eden Lodge ; now what do you want for it ? ' 

I mentioned the sum I had fixed upon as a reasonable one ; 
but in truth I would gladly have taken half the money rather 
than not have got the place off my hands. 

' Too much,' he said, shaking his solid head ( too much by 
a hundred pounds.' 

If I had been a Frenchman, I should have got up and kissed 
him on both cheeks ; being an Englishman (with half my time 
devoted to the main chance), I concealed my joy, and shook my 
head almost as resolutely as he had done. ' The house is cheap,' 
I said, ' at the sum I have put upon it.' 

4 No doubt it is : I know that as well as you indeed a deal 
better,' he answered coolly. * But a man don't put " with imme- 
diate possession " on his notice-board unless he has reasons for 
wanting to quit. Now look here, I am a man of action ' [I am 
sorry to say he used an aspirate]. 'I am always for settling 
matters off the reel. I will split the difference between us, and 
give you your money less 501. I'll draw you a cheque for it, if you 
like, this very moment.' And he actually produced from his 
breast-pocket a large and greasy cheque-book, and threw it open, 
like a front door. 

' My dear sir,' I answered with effusion, ' there is no need to 
be so precipitate : a letter from your lawyer to-morrow will be 
quite sufficient, but on the terms you mention, the house is yours.' 

' By " immediate possession " I understand that I can come in 
at once,' pursued Mr. Plumlin ' say in a week ? ' 

I nodded assent ; I could hardly prevent myself from saying, 
' Come this evening,' which would have been fatal indeed : if he 
had heard that piano, the bargain would surely have been off at 
once. I felt that, since he was coming to live in the house him- 
self, I was about to take his money under false pretences ; for the 
poor fellow was looking forward to ' a home ! ' Still, the City side 
of my character reminded me that my first duty was to myself 
and I performed it. 

Having made inquiries about Mr. Plumlin which convinced 
me of his solvency, I went out that very day to look for a new 

185 



394 A RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION. 

house, and fortunately found one, this time, you may be sure, <a 
detached residence.' Within the week we had * shifted,' bag and 
baggage, to my intense relief ; every night in the meantime was 
made hideous by that dreadful child's piano. I should have 
thought nothing could have been worse than her tunes, but the 
serpent of Paradise Kow had more terrible things in store : on 
alternate nights she played her scales. 

II. 

Six months afterwards, on getting into an omnibus on my 
way home from the town, I found myself next neighbour to Mr. 
Plumlin. He recognised me at once, though, in any case, I think 
I should have spoken to him. One always feels a little constraint 
with the stranger to whom one has sold a house or a horse. We 
know its little imperfections, which the other gentleman does not 
till he has bought it : and though there had been nothing par- 
ticularly wrong about Eden Lodge, I felt that as a residence (even 
independent of its musical neighbour) it was not faultless. I took 
the bull by the horns, however, and at once observed, ' I hope you 
like your house, Mr. Plumlin ? ' 

6 Yes,' he replied, quite naturally (thereby lifting quite a load 
from my perhaps too tender conscience), ' I am not one in any 
case to cry over spilt milk, or to complain of a completed bargain ; 
besides, being a builder, you see, why of course I did not expect 
perfection. There's a little damp in the front attic [there was], 
but I flatter myself I know how to treat it ; I've just given it a 
coat of Paris cement, and that '11 soon be all right.' 

I said to myself, ' I'll back the damp,' but did not pursue the 
subject. The whole topic of Eden Lodge was a delicate one, still 
I could not conquer my curiosity to know how he had exorcised 
that musical little fiend next door ; that he had done it somehow 
I took for granted, or he would never have looked so cheerful. 

' And how do you like your neighbours, Mr. Plumlin ? ' 

' Oh, pretty well not, indeed, that I know much of them.' 
Then, as if moved by an afterthought, he added, To be sure, 
there's that Brown ; he's a queer one. What do you think he's 
been doing, or rather his people, for I believe his wife was at the 
bottom of it.' 

< Now,' thought I to myself, < it's coming : Plumlin has had the 
benefit of that piano.' I replied, however, with a blush I strove 



A RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION. 395 

in vain to conceal, that I could not possibly guess what Brown had 
been doing. 

< Well, the fact is, I've a large family, most of them girls ; so 
of course they're all for music ; they practice on the piano one 
or other of them mostly all day long, as is only natural. Why 
shouldn't they ? ' 

< Why, in'deed ! ' I echoed. An unholy joy began to fill me. 
I began to think that all the poets and moralists have taught us 
about the retribution that awaits the wicked even in this world 
might not be without foundation. 

4 Just so,' he continued contemptuously, ' and yet this man, or 
his wife, for it looks like a woman's hand, had the impudence to 
write to me one morning. I've got it somewhere,' he observed 
parenthetically, bringing about forty letters out of his breast pocket, 
and selecting one after an animated search ; ' yes, here it is.' 

He read the letter aloud in the omnibus, with many interpola- 
tions and interjections of contempt and wrath. 

* Dear Mr. Plumlin, 

[' It was like her impudence to begin " dearing " me, just be- 
cause she wanted something, but she little knew J. P.' ] < In thus 
addressing myself to you, I am relying upon our relations as 
friendly neighbours, and by no means urging a legal right. 

[' Legal right, indeed, I should think not : I should like to 
see her trying legal rights with me upon a matter of that kind !] 

4 In the eye of the law an Englishman's house is his castle, and 
he can, if he pleases, fire royal salutes from its battlements night 
and day. [Well, of course he can.] Unfortunately, my wife is 
so constituted that noise such as constant piano-playing 

4 Now did you ever hear such a thing as that ? ' inquired Mr. 
Plumlin, laughing wildly. ' As if I had anything to do with his 
wife's constitution. Well, to cut a long story short, the lady ob- 
jected to " noise " ; not very complimentary, said Mrs. P., to call 
our girls' piano-playing noise ; but that's by the way. It's her 
coolness that fetches me. Did you ever see such a letter ? ' 

' Never,' I said, ' or hardly ever.' I was obliged to put that in 
because I recognised, as far as it had gone, in Mrs. Brown's plain- 
tive appeal the very epistle I had addressed to her. She had 
copied it out verbatim, without the least respect for the laws of 



396 A RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION. 

copyright, but not, I hope, without the bitter reflection that she 
herself had once turned a deaf ear to its touching eloquence. 

' And what did you reply to her ? ' I inquired, with irrepres- 
sible curiosity. 

' Eeply to her ? ' echoed Mr. Plumlin. ' Why, what would you, 
or any other fellow who was not a born idiot, have replied to her ? 
I wrote to her husband, of course, since the letter purported to 
come from him, though I knew it did not, and that gave me a 
better opportunity of speaking my mind. I told him that not 
only had he no legal claim which, indeed, he had the sense to 
acknowledge, but that his application was preposterous.' [A very 
good word to use, was my reflection, and also one that would be 
familiar to her.] 

' " If you don't like our music," I added,' continued Mr. 
Plumlin, getting himself together for his exit from the 'bus, 
' " then go somewhere else. Buy a house at the other end of the 
town : " that 9 s what I told him. Good morning, sir.' 



397 



QUEER FLOWERS. 

IF Baron Munchausen had ever in the course of his travels come 
across a single flower one standard British yard in diameter, fifteen 
pounds avoirdupois in weight, and forming a cup big enough to hold 
six quarts of water in its central hollow, it is not improbable that the 
learned Baron's veracious account of the new plant might have 
been met with the same polite incredulity which his other adven- 
tures shared with those of Bruce, Stanley, Mendez Pinto, and 
Da Chaillu. Nevertheless, a big blossom of this enormous size 
has been well known to botanists ever since the beginning of the 
present century. When Sir Stamford Kaffies was taking care of 
Sumatra during our temporary annexation, he happened one day 
to light upon a gigantic parasite, which grew on the stem of a 
prostrate creeper in the densest part of the tropical jungle. It 
measured nine feet round and three feet across : it had five large 
fleshy petals with a central basin : and it was mottled red in hue, 
being, in fact, in colour and texture surprisingly suggestive of raw 
beefsteak. One flower was open when Sir Stamford came upon 
it : the other was in the bud, and looked in that state extremely 
like a very big red cabbage. Specimens of this surprising find 
were at once forwarded to England (how, history does not inform 
us) ; and, after the place of the plant in the classificatory system 
had been strenuously fought out with the usual scientific ameni- 
ties, it was at last duly labelled (through no fault of its own), 
after the names of its two discoverers as Rafflesia Arnoldi. 

The mere size of this mammoth among flowers would in itself 
naturally suffice to give it a distinct claim to respectful attention ; 
but Kafflesia possesses many other sterling qualities far more 
calculated than simple bigness to endear it to a large and varied 
circle of insect acquaintances. The oddest thing about it, indeed, 
is the fact that it is a deliberately deceptive and alluring blossom. 
As soon as it was first discovered, Dr. Arnold noticed that it 
possessed a very curious carrion smell, exactly like that of putre- 
fying meat. He also observed that this smell attracted flies in 
large numbers by false pretences to settle in the centre of the 
cup. But it is only of late years that the real significance and 
connection of these curious facts has come to be perceived. We 



398 QUEER FLOWERS. 

now know that Raflflesia is a flower which wickedly and feloniously 
lays itself out to deceive the confiding meat-flies and to starve 
their helpless infants in the midst of apparent plenty. The 
majority of legitimate flowers (if I may be allowed the expres- 
sion) get themselves decently fertilised by bees and butterflies, 
who may be considered as representing the regular trade, and who 
carry the fecundating pollen on their heads and proboscises from 
one blossom to another, while engaged in their usual business of 
gathering honey all the day from every opening flower. But 
Kafflesia, on the contrary, has positively acquired a fallacious 
external resemblance to raw meat, and a decidedly high flavour, 
on purpose to take in the too trustful Sumatran flies. When a fly 
sights and scents one, he (or rather she) proceeds at once to 
settle in the cup, and there lay a number of eggs in what it 
naturally regards as a very fine decaying carcass. Then, having 
dusted itself over in the process with plenty of pollen from this 
first flower, it flies away confidingly to the next promising bud, in 
search both of food for itself and of a fitting nursery for its future 
little ones. In doing so, it of course fertilises all the blossoms 
that it visits, one after another, by dusting them successively 
with each other's pollen. When the young grubs are hatched out, 
however, they discover the base deception all too late, and perish 
miserably in their fallacious bed, the helpless victims of misplaced 
parental confidence. Even as Zeuxis deceived the very birds with 
his painted grapes, so Kafflesia deceives the flies themselves by its 
ingenious mimicry of a putrid beefsteak. In the fierce competi- 
tion of tropical life, it has found out by simple experience that 
dishonesty is the best policy. 

The general principle which this strange flower illustrates in 
so striking a fashion is just this. Most common flowers have laid 
themselves out to attract bees, and so a bee flower forms our 
human ideal of a central typical blossom : it looks, in short, we 
think, as a flower ought to look. But there are some originally 
minded and eccentric plants which have struck out a line for 
themselves, and taken to attracting sundry casual flies, wasps, 
midges, beetles, snails, or even birds, which take the place of bees 
as their regular fertilisers ; and it is these Bohemians of the 
vegetable world that make up what we all consider as the queerest 
and most singular of all flowers. They adapt their appearance 
and structure to the particular tastes and habits of their chosen 
guests. 






QUEER FLOWERS. 399 

Now, the fact is, we are all a little tired of that prig and 
Aristides among insects, the little busy bee. We have heard his 
virtues praised by poets, moralists, and men of science, till we 
are all burning to ostracise him forthwith, for the sake of never 
more hearing him called industrious and intelligent. He and his 
self-righteous cousin the ant are in fact a pair of egregious 
pharisaical humbugs, who have made a virtue of their own exces- 
sive acquisitiveness, and have induced Solomon, Virgil, Dr. 
Watts, and other misguided human beings to acquiesce far too 
readily in their preposterous claims. For my own part, I never 
was more pleased in my life than when Sir John Lubbock con- 
clusively proved by experiment that they were both extremely 
stupid and uninventive insects, with scarcely a faint glimmering 
of brotherly love or any other good ethical quality. I propose, 
therefore, in this present paper, to leave the too-much-belauded 
bee, with the flowers that cater for his tastes, entirely out of con- 
sideration, and look only at some of the peculiar blossoms which 
appeal rather to the senses and sensibilities of other and more 
original insect guests. 

The wasp, though undoubtedly an irascible and ill-balanced 
creature, and a chauvinist of the fiercest description, is yet a 
person of far more width of mind and far wider range of experi- 
ence in his own way than the borne and conventional bee. His 
taste, in fact (like the taste of that hypothetical person the 
general reader), is quite omnivorous : while he does not refuse 
meat, he has an excellent judgment in the sunny side of peaches, 
and he can make a meal at a pinch off the honey in more than 
one kind of wasp-specialised flower. But the peculiar likes and 
dislikes of wasps have produced a curious effect upon the shape 
and hue of the blossoms which owe their traits to these greedy 
and not very aesthetic insects. Your bee has a long proboscis and 
a keen sense of colour ; so the flowers that lay themselves out on 
his behalf store their honey at the end of a long tube, and rejoice 
in brilliant blue or crimson or purple petals. Your wasp, on the 
other hand, in his matter-of-fact Philistine fashion, cares for none 
of these things : he asks only plenty of honey, and no foolish 
obstructions in the wa^y of getting it. Accordingly, wasp-flowers 
are remarkable for having a helmet-shaped tube, exactly fitted to 
a wasp's head, with abundant honey filling the bottom of the bell, 
while in colour they are generally a peculiar livid reddish brown, 
more or less suggestive of a butcher's shop. 



400 QUEER FLOWERS. 

We have two or three good typical wasp-flowers, wild or culti- 
vated, in England, of which the snowberry of our shrubberies is 
probably the best known to the outside public, other than wasps. 
But the dingy fig-worts that grow by the waterside are far more 
noteworthy, because they have such extremely odd-looking, one- 
sided blossoms, made to measure by nature for the wasp's head. 
The minuteness with which plants adapt themselves to the merest 
tricks of habit in the insects to whom they are habitually at home 
is very well illustrated in this queer plant. Bees and butterflies, 
and all other regular flower-haunters, have a trick of beginning at 
the bottom of a spike of flowers (as in foxglove or sage), and work- 
ing gradually upward; so in these cases the pollen-bags ripen 
first, while the sensitive surface of the seed-vessel doesn't mature 
till a later period. Thus, the bee, lighting first on the older and 
lower flowers, in their second stage, fertilises them with the pollen 
he has brought from the last plant ; while on the upper part of 
the spike he gathers more pollen, which he carries away to the 
next plant, and so ensures the great desideratum of nature, a 
healthy cross. But the wasp, with his usual perversity of dis- 
position, reverses all this : he begins at the top of the spike, and 
works gradually downward. To meet this abnormal fancy of the 
vespine intellect, the fig-wort makes its sensitive surface mature 
first, while its pollen-bags only shed their mealy dust a little later. 
So the wasp, lighting first on the newly opened blossoms at the 
top, comes in contact with the ripe summit of the seed-vessel, on 
which he rubs the pollen from the last spike he visited ; and then, 
proceeding downward, he unconsciously collects a fresh lot to 
carry away to the next fig-wort. Of course, the wasp himself is 
not in the least interested in these domestic arrangements of the 
plant whose honey he seeks ; all he wants is his dinner, but in 
getting it he is compelled, without at all suspecting it, to act as 
carrier for the fig-wort from one spike to another. 

Wasps are remarkably sharp and wide-awake insects ; and it 
would be very difficult indeed to take them in. Flowers that bid 
for their attentions must provide real honey, and plenty of it. 
It is quite otherwise, however, with flies. Those mixed feeders 
are the stupidest and most gullible of all ijasects ; and many un- 
principled blossoms have governed themselves accordingly, and 
deliberately laid themselves out to deceive the poor foolish 
creatures by false appearances. On most mountain bogs in 
Britain one can still find a few pretty white flowers of the rare 



QUEER FLOWERS. 401 

and curious Grass of Parnassus. They have each five snowy 
petals, and at the base of every petal stands a little forked organ, 
with eight or nine thread-like points, terminated, apparently, by 
a small round drop of pellucid honey. Touch one of the drops 
with your finger, and, lo ! you will find it is a solid ball or gland. 
The flower, in fact, is only playing at producing honey. Yet so 
easily are the flies for whom it caters taken in by a showy adver- 
tisement, that not only will they light on the blossoms and try 
most industriously for a long time together to extract a little 
honey from the dry bulbs, but even after they have been com- 
pelled to give up the attempt as vain they will light again upon 
a second flower, and go through the whole performance again, da 
capo. The Grass of Parnassus thus generally manages to get its 
flowers fertilised with no expenditure of honey at all on its own 
part. Still, it is not a wholly and hopelessly abandoned flower, 
like some others, for it does really secrete a little genuine honey 
quite away from the sham drops, though to an extent entirely 
incommensurate with the pretended display. 

Most of the flowers specially affected by carrion flies have a 
lurid red colour, and a distinct smell of bad meat. Few of them, 
however, are quite so cruel in their habits as Kafflesia. For the 
most part, they attract the insects by their appearance and odour, 
but reward their services with a little honey and other allure- 
ments. This is the case with the curious English fly-orchid, 
whose dull purple lip is covered with tiny drops of nectar, licked 
off by the fertilising flies. The very malodorous carrion-flowers 
(or Stapelias) are visited by bluebottles and fleshflies, while an 
allied form actually sets a trap for the fly's proboscis, which 
catches the insect by its hairs, and compels him to give a sharp 
pull in order to free himself : this pull dislodges the pollen, and 
so secures the desired cross-fertilisation. The Alpine butterwort 
sets a somewhat similar gin so vigorously that when a weak fly is 
caught in it he cannot disengage himself, and there perishes 
wretchedly, like a hawk in a keeper's trap. 

These cases lead on naturally to certain other very queer 
flowers which similarly take advantage of the stupidity of flies by 
actually imprisoning them (without writ of habeas corpus) in a 
strong inner chamber, until they have duly performed the penal 
servitude of fertilisation, enjoined upon them by the inexorable 
blossom. The South European birthwort, a very lurid-looking 
and fly-enticing flower, has a sort of cornucopia-shaped tube, lined 



402 QUEER FLOWERS. 

with long hairs, which all point inward, and so allow small midges 
to creep down readily enough, after the fashion of an eel-buck or 
lobster-pot. <Sed revocare gradum, superasque evadere ad auras ' 
to get out again is the great difficulty. Try as they will, the 
little prisoners can't crawl back upward against the downward- 
pointing hairs. Accordingly they are forced, by circumstances 
over which they have no control, to walk aimlessly up and down 
their prison yard, fertilising the little knobby surface of the seed- 
vessel with pollen brought from another flower. But as soon as 
the seeds are all impregnated, the stamens begin to shed their 
pollen, and dust over the gnats with the copious powder. Then 
the hairs all wither up, and the gnats, released from their lobster- 
pot prison, fly away once more on the same fool's errand. Before 
doing so, however, they make a good meal off the pollen that 
covers the floor, though they still carry away a great many grains 
on their own wings and bodies. One might imagine that after a 
single experience of the sort the midges would have sense enough 
to avoid birthwort in future ; but your midge has really no more 
intelligence than your human drunkard, or gambler, or opium- 
eater. He flies straight off to the very next birthwort he sees, 
conveys to it the pollen from the last trap he visited, and gets 
confined once more in the inner chamber, till the plant is prepared 
to let him out again on ticket-of- leave of short duration. Thus, 
like an habitual criminal, he spends almost all his time in getting 
from one gaol into another. His confinement, however, is not 
solitary, but is mitigated by congenial intercourse with the ladies 
and gentlemen of his own kind. 

A very similar but much larger fly-cage is set by our own 
common wild arum, or cuckoo pint. This familiar big spring 
flower exhales a disagreeable fleshy odour, which, by its meat-like 
flavour, attracts a tiny midge with beautiful iridescent wings and 
a very poetical name, Psychoda. As in most other cases where 
flies are specially invited, the colour of the cuckoo pint is usually 
a dull and somewhat livid purple. A palisade of hairs closes the 
neck of the funnel-shaped blossom, and repeats the lobster-pot 
tactics of the entirely unconnected South European birthwort. 
The little flies, entering by this narrow and stockaded door, 
fertilise the future red berries with pollen brought from their 
last prison, and are then rewarded for their pains by a tiny drop 
of honey, which slowly oozes from the middle of each embryo 
fruitlet as soon as it is duly impregnated. Afterwards, the pollen 






QUEER FLOWERS. 403 

is shed upon their backs by the bursting of the pollen-bags ; the 
hairs wither up, and open the previously barricaded exit, and the 
midges issue forth in search of a new prison and a second drop of 
honey. This is all strange enough ; but, stranger still, I strongly 
suspect the arum of deliberately hocussing its nectar. I have often 
seen dozens of these tiny flies rolling together in an advanced stage 
of apparent intoxication upon the pollen-covered floor of an arum 
chamber; and the evidences of drunkenness are so clear and 
numerous that I incline to believe the plant actually makes them 
drunk in order to ensure their staggering about in the pollen and 
carrying a good supply of it to the next blossom visited. It is a 
curious fact that these two totally unrelated plants (birthwort and 
arum) should have hit upon the very same device to attract 
insects of the same class (though not the same species). The 
trap must have been independently developed in the two cases, 
and could only have succeeded with such very stupid, unintelli- 
gent creatures as the flies and midges. 

From plants that imprison insects to plants that devour insects 
alive is a natural transition. The giant who keeps a dungeon is 
first cousin to the ogre who swallows down his captives entire. 
And yet the subject is really too serious a one for jesting; there 
is something too awful and appalling in this contest of the un- 
conscious and insentient with the living and feeling, of a lower 
vegetative form of life with a higher animated form, that it 
always makes me shudder slightly to think of it. Do you re- 
member Victor Hugo's terrible description (I think it is in 4 Quatre- 
Vingt-Treize ') of the duel between the great gun that has got 
loose from its chains on a ship in a storm, and the men who try to 
recapture it ? Do you remember how the gun lunges, and tilts, 
and evades, and charges, exactly as if it were a living sentient 
creature ; and yet all the while the full horror of the thing de- 
pends upon the very fact that it is nothing more than a piece of 
lifeless, senseless metal, driven about on its wheels irresponsibly 
by the fury of the storm ? Well, that description is awful and 
horrible enough ; but it yet lacks one element of awesomeness 
which is present in the insect-eating plants, and that is the clear 
evidence of deliberate design and adaptation. When a crumbling 
cliff falls and crushes to death the creatures on the beach beneath 
it, we see in their fate only the accidental working of the fixed 
and unintentional laws of nature ; but when a plant is so con- 
structed, with minute cunning and deceptive imitativeness, that 



404 QUEER FLOWERS. 

it continually and of malice prepense lures on the living insect, 
generation after generation, to a lingering death in its unconscious 
arms, there seems to be a sort of fiendish impersonal cruelty about 
its action which sadly militates against all our pretty platitudes 
about the beauty and perfection of living beings. It is quite a 
relief that we are able nowadays to shelve off the responsibility 
upon a dead materialistic law like natural selection or survival of 
the fittest. Hartmann's ' Unconscious ' stands modern naturalists 
in good stead vice the personal interference of the mediaeval or 
Miltonic Devil, absent on leave. 

On most English peaty patches there grows a little reddish- 
leaved odd-looking plant, known as sundew. It is but an incon- 
spicuous small weed, and yet literary and scientific honours have 
been heaped upon its head to an extent almost unknown in the 
case of any other member of the British floral commonwealth. 
Mr. Swinburne has addressed an ode to it, and Mr. Darwin has 
written a learned book about it. Its portrait has been sketched by 
innumerable artists, and its biography narrated by innumerable 
authors. And all this attention has been showered upon it, not 
because it is beautiful, or good, or modest, or retiring, but simply 
and solely because it is atrociously and deliberately wicked. 
Like the late Mr. Peace and the heroes of the Newgate Calendar, 
it owes its vogue entirely to its murderous propensities. Sundew, 
in fact, is the best known and most easily accessible of the carni- 
vorous and insectivorous plants. 

The leaf of the sundew is round and flat, and it is covered by 
a number of small red glands, which act as the attractive advertise- 
ment to the misguided midges. Their knobby ends are covered 
with a glutinous secretion, which glistens like honey in the sun- 
light, and so gains for the plant its common English name. But 
the moment a hapless fly, attracted by hopes of meat or nectar, 
settles quietly in its midst, on hospitable thoughts intent, the 
viscid liquid holds him tight immediately, and clogs his legs and 
wings, so that he is snared exactly as a peregrine is snared with 
bird-lime. Then the leaf with all its red-lipped mouths ' (I will 
own up that the expression is Mr. Swinburne's, ubi supra) closes 
over him slowly but surely, and crushes him by folding its edges 
inward gradually toward the centre. The fly often lingers long 
with ineffectual struggles, while the cruel crawling leaf pours forth 
a digestive fluid a vegetable gastric juice, as it were and dis- 
solves him alive piecemeal in its hundred clutching suckers. 






QUEER FLOWERS. 405 

I have seen this mute tragedy enacted a thousand times over on 
the bogs and moorlands ; and though I often try to release the 
fresh flies from their ghastly living but inanimate prison, it is im- 
possible to go round all the plants on a whole common, like aphilc- 
dipterous Howard, ameliorating the condition of all the victims of 
misplaced confidence in the good intentions of the treacherous 
sundew. 

Our little English insectivorous plants, however (we have at 
least five or six such species in our own islands), are mere clumsy 
bunglers compared to the great and highly developed insect-eaters 
of the tropics, which stand to them in somewhat the same relation 
as the Bengal tiger stands to the British wild cat or the skulking 
weasel. The Indian pitcher-plants or Nepenthes bear big pitchers 
of very classical shapes (it is well known that Greek art has largely 
affected India), closed in the early state with a lid, which lifts 
itself and opens the pitcher as soon as the plant has fully completed 
its insecticidal arrangements. In some kinds the pitcher ludi- 
crously resembles a hot-water jug of modern British manufacture. 
The details of the trap vary somewhat in the different species, 
but as a whole the modus operandi of the plant is somewhat after 
this atrocious fashion. The pitcher contains a quantity of liquid, 
that of the sort appropriately known as the Rajah holding as much 
as a quart ; and the insect, attracted in most cases by some bright 
colour, crawls down the sticky side, quaffs the unkind Nepenthe, 
and forgets his troubles forthwith in the vat of oblivion prepared 
for him beneath by the delusive vases. A slimy Lethe flows over 
his dissolving corse, and the relentless pitcher-plant sucks his 
juices to supply his own fibres with the necessary nitrogenous 
materials. 

The Californian pitcher-plant, or Darlington ia, is a member of a 
totally distinct family, which has independently hit upon the same 
device in the western world as the Indian Nepenthes in the eastern 
hemisphere. The pitcher in this case, though differently produced, 
is hooded and lidded like its Oriental analogue ; but the inside of 
the hood is furnished with short hairs, all pointing inward, and 
legibly inscribed (to the botanical eye) with the appropriate motto, 
6 Vestigia nulla retrorsum.' The whole arrangement is coloured 
dingy orange, so as to attract the attention of flies, and it contains 
a viscid digestive fluid in which the flies are first drowned and then 
slowly melted and assimilated. The pitchers are often found half 
full of dead and decaying assorted insects. This circumstance, of 



406 QUEER FLOWERS. 






course, has not escaped the sharp eyes of the practically minded 
Californians, who accordingly keep the pitchers growing in their 
houses, to act as fly-catchers. Such an ingenious utilisation of 
nature, in unconscious competition with the papier moule, would 
surely have occurred only to the two great Pacific civilisations of 
the Californian and the heathen Chinee. 

There are a great many more of these highly developed insect- 
eaters, such as the Guiana heliamphora (more classical shapes), 
the Australian cephalotus, and the American side-saddle flowers, 
and they all without exception grow in very wet and boggy places, 
like our own sundews, butterworts, and bladderworts. The reason 
why so many marsh plants have taken to these strange insect- 
eating habits is simply that their roots are often very badly 
supplied with manure or with ammonia in any form ; and, as no 
plant can get on without these necessaries of life (in the strictest 
sense), only those marshy weeds have any chance of surviving which 
can make up in one way or another for the native deficiencies of 
their situation. The sundews show us, as it were, the first stage 
in the acquisition of these murderous habits ; the pitcher-plants 
are the abandoned ruffians which have survived among all their 
competitors in virtue of their exceptional ruthlessness and decep- 
tive coloration. I ought to add that in all cases the pitchers are 
not flowers, but highly modified and altered leaves, though in 
many instances they are quite as beautifully coloured as the largest 
and handsomest exotic orchids. 

The principle of Venus's fly-trap is somewhat different, though 
its practice is equally nefarious. This curious marsh-plant, instead 
of setting hocussed bowls of liquid for its victims, like a Florentine 
of the fourteenth century, lays a regular gin or snare for them, on 
the same plan as a common snapping rat-trap. The end of the 
leaf is divided into two folding halves by the midrib, and on each 
half are three or five highly sensitive hairs. The moment one of 
these hairs is touched by a fly, the two halves come together, 
enclosing the luckless insect between them. As if on purpose to 
complete the resemblance to a rat-trap, too, the edges of the leaf 
are formed of prickly jagged teeth, which fit in between one 
another when the gin shuts, and so effectually cut off the insect's 
retreat. The plant then sucks up the juices of the fly ; and as 
soon as it has fully digested them, the leaf opens automatically 
once more, and resets the trap for another victim. It is an in- 
teresting fact that this remarkable insectivore appears to be still 



QUEER FLOWERS. 407 

a new and struggling species, or else an old type on the very point 
of extinction, for it is only found in a few bogs over a very small 
area in the neighbourhood of Wilmington, South California. 

Strongly contrasting with the sestheticism of the artistically 
minded bees, who go in chiefly for peacock blues and Tyrian 
purples, as well as with the frank Philistinism of the carrion flies, 
who like good solid meaty-looking red and brown flowers, is the in- 
genious secretiveness of the ichneumon flies, who chiefly patronise 
invisible green blossoms, indistinguishable to a casual observer 
among the thick foliage in whose midst they grow. Most insects 
are very casual observers : they require a good sensible flaring patch 
of yellow or scarlet (like the posters of a country circus) to attract 
their giddy attention. But the ichneumons are sharp-eyed and 
highly discerning creatures, which have developed a whole set of 
pale-green flowers, so inconspicuous as to escape the notice of 
colour-loving bees and butterflies, yet with a good supply of easily 
accessible honey to reward their cunning visitors. This honey the 
monopolist ichneumons of course keep strictly for their own use. 
That large and very odd-looking English orchid, the tway-blade, 
extremely common in woods and shady places, though seldom 
observed by the general public on account of its uniform green- 
ness, is an excellent example of these ichneumon-made blossoms. 
The whole spike stands a foot and a half high, with numerous 
separate green flowers, each about half an inch long, yet it is very 
Little noticed save by regular plant-hunters, because its colour 
makes it all but indistinguishable among the tall grasses and 
sedges with whose blades it is closely intermingled. Yet if it 
were only pink or purple, like most of the other English orchids, 
it would certainly rank as one of the largest and handsomest 
among our native wild-flowers. 

In a few cases, the relation between the plant and the insect 
that habitually fertilises it is even closer and more lasting than in 
any of the instances we have yet considered. Everybody knows 
those large and handsome tropical lilies, the yuccas, with their 
tall clustered heads of big white blossoms. Well, Professor Riley, 
the great American entomologist, has shown that the yuccas are 
entirely run (to use a favourite expression of his countrymen) by 
a comparatively small and inconspicuous moth, solely for its own 
benefit : and so completely is this the case, that the yucca can't 
manage to exist at all without its little winged intermediary. 
Professor Riley has therefore playfully named the little insect 



408 QUEER FLOWERS. 

Pronuba yuccasella ; freely translated, the yucca's bridesmaid. 
The moth bores the young capsule of the flower in several places, 
lays an egg in each hole, and then carefully collects pollen, with 
which it fertilises the blossom, of set purpose, thus deliberately 
producing a store of food for its own future larvae. The eggs 
hatch 'inside the capsule, and the young grubs eat part of the 
seeds, at the same time prudently leaving enough for the continua- 
tion of the yucca family in the future. As soon as the grubs are full- 
grown, they bore a hole again through the capsule, lower them- 
selves by a thread to the ground, and there spin a cocoon which 
lies buried in the earth all through the autumn and winter. But 
in the succeeding summer, just fourteen days before the yuccas 
begin to flower, the grubs in their cocoons pass into the chrysalis 
stage ; and by the time the yuccas are in full blossom, they issue 
forth as perfect moths, and once more commence the fertilisation 
of their chosen food plant, and the laying of their own eggs. So 
singular an instance of mutual accommodation between flower and 
insect is rare indeed in this usually greedy and self-regarding 
world. 

The extremely odd inside-out topsy-turvy flowers of the fig 
owe their fertilisation, however, to a still more extraordinary and 
complicated cross-relationship. Hardly anybody (except a botanist) 
has ever seen a fig-flower, because it grows inside the stalk, 
instead of outside, and so can only be observed by cutting it open 
lengthwise. The fig, in its early youth, in fact, consists of a hollow 
branch on whose inner surface a number of very small flowers 
cluster together ; and when they are ripe for fertilisation, the eye 
or hole at the top opens to admit the insect visitor. This visitor 
is the fig-wasp, who comes, not from other cultivated fig-trees, but 
from a wild tree called the caprifico. On this tree the mother 
wasps first lay their eggs in the inedible figs, which thereupon 
swell out into galls, and become the nurses of the young wasp 
grubs. When the wasps are mature, they eat their way out of 
the wild fig where they were born, and set forth to lay their own 
eggs in turn, either on a brother caprifico or on its sister, a true 
fig-tree. Those wasps which enter the wild figs of a caprifico 
succeed in carrying out their maternal purpose, and lay their eggs 
on the right spot for more grubs to be duly developed. But those 
which happen to go into a true fig merely fertilise the flowers 
without laying their eggs, because the figs are here so constituted 
that there is no proper place for them to lay on. In other words, 



QUEER FLOWERS. 409 

the true fig is a cultivated wasp-proof caprifico. But as the figs 
won't properly swell without fertilisation, it becomes important to 
conciliate the attentions of the wasps ; and for this reason the 
Italian peasants hang small branches of the caprifico on the boughs 
of the cultivated fig-trees, at the moment when the eye of the fig 
opens, and so shows that they are ready to be fertilised. The 
wasps, as they emerge from their own homes, enter the figs at 
once, and there set the little hard seeds, on whose impregnation 
the pulpy part of the fig begins to swell. The fruit of the capri- 
fico itself never comes to anything, as it hardens and withers on 
the tree ; but, since the true figs are dependent upon it for pollen, 
it follows that if the caprificos were ever to become extinct, the 
supply of best Eleme in layers would forthwith cease entirely. 



VOL. m. NO. 16, N. s. 19 



410 



A GLIMPSE OF WALES A HUNDRED 
YEARS AGO. 

IN a paper entitled < The Celt of Wales and the Celt of Ireland,' 
published a few years ago in the CORNHILL MAGAZINE, I described 
the characteristics of the two races as they had impressed me from 
personal observation. Chance has now thrown in my way some 
rather curious materials for reconstructing the idea of the Welsh 
Celt, as he existed in Merionethshire (the heart of Wales) just a 
century ago, and I propose to offer to the reader a little picture 
drawn from them, which, though trivial in its details, may not be 
altogether without interest. 

The state of things in all the mountain districts of the British 
Isles in the last century was, as everybody is aware, much behind 
that of the lowlands in fact, pretty much that of the lowlands in 
the Stuart, or even Tudor, period. There was no such uniformity, 
then as now, in the habits of men, or in the conveniences and 
luxuries of life. As regarded Wales, the great high road from 
Shrewsbury to Holyhead, which first really opened up the country, 
was not dreamed of till fifty years afterwards. There were, indeed, 
scarcely any roads at all for wheel carriages in the Principality, 
only bridle paths and narrow lanes, up hill and down dale across 
the mountains. Some of these, still in use for carts, bear the traces 
of Eoman pavements, and are each known as a < Sarn Helen ' 
the roads of the Empress St. Helena, to whom all such works are 
attributed. Men and women, of course, travelled on horseback, 
and it was no figure of speech to begin a letter by observing that 
the writer c took the opportunity ' to address his correspondent ; 
for, unless there was an actual opportunity for sending the epistle, 
the transmission of it was more than doubtful. Oswestry, about 
forty miles off over fearful mountain tracks, was, it would seem, in 
1780, the post-town for the Dolgelly district ; and the Dolgel- 
lians were in continual trouble to find a carrier who did not get 
so drunk on the way as to lose every letter entrusted to his care. 
Of course, the Welsh language was then, as now, the tongue of the 
people, and still fewer individuals understood English. The isola- 
tion from the world of European politics seems to have been 



A GLIMPSE OF WALES. 411 

almost complete. The writer of the journal from which I propose 
to cull some extracts never once alludes to the cataclysm which 
was taking place in France while she was diligently chronicling 
every morsel of intelligence which came to her ears. 

The inordinate space occupied by Debts and Duns, Bailiffs and 
Writs, in the history of gentlemen of the eighteenth century, is 
astonishing to the nineteenth-century mind. We know some- 
thing of financial embarrassments in these days, and of great ducal 
properties and collections coming to the hammer. But it is not with 
us quite an everyday business, as it was with our grandfathers, to 
be < up to the ears in debt.' In the case of the Welsh and Irish 
squirearchy a hundred years ago, Debt forms the theme of every 
family 6 epos ' ; while Love, Drink, and Sport supply the episodes. 
The normal state of existence was manifestly one of hopeless insol- 
vency, mitigated by a sense of the humorousness of the situation, 
and by public sympathy. The road to ruin was a perfectly well- 
beaten track. As Dr. Watts contemporaneously described another 
ill-omened way, it was a ' broad road where thousands go.' 
Extravagant housekeeping, combined with large financial trans- 
actions undertaken by men who knew nothing of business, sufficed 
very quickly to bring country gentlemen to the gaol. In par- 
ticular, the owners of moderate-sized estates always bought land 
whenever it was to be had in their counties, raising the purchase- 
money by mortgages up to its value. This done, they proceeded to 
exercise hospitality on a scale commensurate with their ostensible 
rent-roll, rather than with their net income. Every manor-house 
and hall in those * good old times ' kept at least two tables open 
daily to all comers ; one upstairs for any of the small gentry of 
the neighbourhood who pleased to drop in ; and one below for ser- 
vants, tenants, tradesfolk, and hangers-on innumerable. In Ireland 
the first of these tables was always served with the best cookery, 
according to the fashion of the day, and with abundance of good 
port at one epoch, and of good claret at another. 1 In Wales the 
fare was plainer, and the drink chiefly ale ; but the wastefulness 
of over-provision was the same. 

Beside their barbaric hospitality, however, these gentlemen had 

1 A glass now preserved in one such Irish mansion contains three bottles of 
wine ; and the pleasant jest used to be to place a seven-guinea piece at the bottom 
to be taken by the man who drank to it. The ' Glorious, Pious, and Immortal 
Memory ' toast is engraved on this portentous tumbler. In Wales the custom of 
free tables was maintained within living memory by that grand old gentleman 
Sir "Robert Vaughan, of Nannau. 

192 



412 A GLIMPSE OF WALES 

other and more refined modes of expenditure. The Irish petite 
noblesse built themselves beautiful houses with noble rooms and 
ceilings, moulded by Italian workmen. They often collected good 
pictures, and sometimes tapestry and cabinets. Invariably they 
bought fine china at high prices. At one such Irish mansion the 
dessert-service cost 8001. The Welsh squires likewise bought 
abundance of china, and sometimes collected books and manu- 
scripts. These things must have have formed a strange back- 
ground to the scenes of coarse revelry, drinking, gambling, and 
duelling which went on amongst such objects of taste and 
refinement. But neither in the eighteenth century nor in the 
fifteenth, nor at any other epoch, have pictures or statues, or bric- 
a-brac, proved such moral purifiers as it is the fashion in these 
aesthetic days to suppose. 

Of course this golden age of extravagance could not endure 
for ever. Everybody soon wanted to raise money, and had 
recourse to devices for the purpose, of which the first and simplest 
was the cutting down of trees, those ' excrescences of the earth,' as 
Eochester had already defined them, * provided by Nature for the 
payment of debts.' Where the carcass is, we know what creatures 
come to prey on it. The folly and heedlessness of the country 
gentlemen called into existence a whole swarm of scoundrels who 
adopted law as the most convenient profession for carrying on their 
schemes of blood-sucking ; and in every district (except that of 
the Man of Eoss) there flourished at least one really ' vile attor- 
ney ' who dealt with the neighbouring squire precisely as a spider 
does with a blue-bottle fly. 

Just such a story of debt and embarrassment forms the main 
topic of the old MS. journal from which I hope to draw a few illus- 
trations, trivial, perhaps, but rather amusing, of life in Wales 
a hundred years ago. We find in it all the usual p6ripties of the 
familiar drama : flight of the squire ; adverse possession of th.e 
estate by creditors ; gallant defence of a mansion beleaguered by 
bailiffs ; ending with final triumph and return of the exiled family, 
and downfall of the iniquitous attorney, who has been (cela va 
sans dire) the villain of the piece. The author was a certain Mrs. 
Baker, an Englishwoman understanding no Welsh, of whom it is 
only remembered by tradition that she came to Wales about the 
year 1770 to look after some mines which belonged to her in the 
country, and remained for many years a resident near Dolgelly. If 
the spirit and the sententiousness of the old lady as they appear in 



A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. 413 

her long journal can in any way be conveyed to the reader's con- 
sciousness by the brief extracts I shall make, she will be found, per- 
haps, quite as amusing a study as any of the facts she records. 
In some unexplained way (she was a female of quite immaculate 
reputation, as nobody who reads her magnificent moral apo- 
phthegms can possibly doubt) she attached herself to the bachelor 
squire of Hengwrt and Nannau, and became his lady housekeeper. 1 
Probably he had shown her considerable kindness ; for her devotion 
to him as proved by the incidents she records, and by her 
expressions of despair at his fall and rapture at his restoration 
is alternately touching and comical. Never will she consent to 
blame her patron, even when, by his inconceivable recklessness 
and stupidity in signing papers without looking at them, he had 
lost his estate and ruined his dependants. The worst which she 
can find in her heart to say against him is only to apostrophise 
his carelessness : 

Inattention ! how dreadful is thy consequence 1 By it, this compleat estate 
must be parted with ! 

In another place she notes : 

Mr. Parry told Evan that Mr. Vaughan had imprudently signed so many Judg- 
ments without examining them that the law might go on for twenty years, and 
that 1,000?. would be wanted (for it) by next term. . . . God reward the perfi- 
dious in this life, that others may be driven from so vile a practice ! Were it 
not for persons of a similar turn of mind with Mr. Vaughan, the lawyers would 
not amass such fortunes ; and if he does not determine to get quit of the Locusts, 
they will inevitably swallow up his whole estate and break his heart by the 
Reduction. Nor can they be punished for the atrocious theft and Murder (!) in 
this world 1 

We are introduced by Mrs. Baker, at the outset of the journal, 
to the melancholy fact that on the day she wrote, December 6, 
1778, 'the deputy-sheriff took possession of Hengwrt,' and pro- 
ceeded to put in charge of it a certain bailiff, Lever by name, who 
through the succeeding volumes is the object of Mrs. Baker's 

1 This squire of Hengwrt was Hugh Vaughan, elder brother of Sir Robert 
Howel Vaughan, 1st Bart. His great-great-grandfather, Robert Vaughan, was a 
celebrated antiquary, whose collection of the most ancient Welsh literature, known 
as the ' Hengwrt Manuscripts,' made about the year 1660, is frequently referred 
to by Pennant, Renan, and others. At the death of the last Sir Robert W. 
Vaughan, 3rd Bart., in 1859, the estates of Nannau, Hengwrt, and Rug, which had 
long been united, were divided; the Hengwrt MSS. were bequeathed to a worthy 
successor of theold antiquary, the late Mr. William Wynne, of Peniarth, who built 
for them a handsome library. They are now the property of his son, Mr W. 
Wynne. 



414 A GLIMPSE OF WALES 

scorn and vituperation. Mr. Vaughan himself whom a crayon 
portrait represents as a heavy-looking man, with powdered hair and 
a much-troubled countenance had obviously fled, and the sheriff 
politely told Mrs. Baker that she might go and take up her abode 
at either of two other mansions belonging to him. She selected 
the smallest and nearest, which was the dower-house of Hengwrt, 
and rejoices in the name of Doluwcheogryd (pronounced Dolhow- 
gryd). There having ensconced herself, the good woman remained 
for many months a voluntary prisoner, holding it tenaciously for 
Mr. Vaughan against his ' enemies ' the bailiffs. 

The diary, commenced under such gloomy auspices, was appa- 
rently kept for purposes of reference, respecting dates and small 
occurrences, but it must have afforded to the imprisoned writer 
her chief recreation. Her books, of which she speaks with pride, 
and from which she draws many erudite allusions to Shakespeare, 
Pythagoras, Plutarch, &c., were locked up in Hengwrt ; letters, of 
course, were few and far between ; and * the newspaper,' as she 
mournfully records, had been stopped by somebody from base 
motives of ' ceconomy,' to save two guineas a year. In such cir- 
cumstances poor Mrs. Baker may be pardoned for filling several 
pages of her diary with the events of each day ; even when those 
events consisted solely in the visit of a neighbouring farmer's 
wife, who mourned with her over the ruin of Mr. Vaughan, abused 
the bailiffs, speculated on the possible triumph of Justice and 
Virtue (in the person of the exiled squire), and brought her the 
modest contribution to the commissariat of her besieged house- 
hold of a fowl, or ' grows ' (so spelled), half a bottle of beer, half 
a kid, or, on one occasion (but this was the gift of a ' divine,' as 
she always calls the curate of Dolgelly), a 'third of a bottle of 
usquebaugh.' 

' We keep doors and windows fast,' says the steadfast woman, 
' and I hope the garrison will not give in whatever be suffered 
should provisions be short.' After a few days, Lever the abhorred, 
and one other bailiff,' came to the door and asked if he should be 
admitted, as he brought me some coffee and a bottle of wine, and 
hoped I was well.' Mrs. Baker was not the woman to be decoyed 
into raising her portcullis by such shallow artifices as this. She 
records her reply in her journal : < For his politeness, thanks ; but 
I would never open the door. If he pleased to leave the present, 
he might rely upon its being delivered to me safe.' 

To realise the scene of the story the reader should here under- 



A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. 415 

stand that Doluwcheogryd is a picturesque old greystone mansion, 
commanding a splendid view of Cader and of the valley of the two 
rivers. Some massive stones which have been built into the walls 
(possibly belonging to a portion now removed) were covered with 
curious inscriptions and coats of arms. Of the latter there are the 
shield and crown of Queen Elizabeth, with the words beneath 
them, VIVAT DIVA ELIZABETHA. On another are inscribed, in very 
old letters 

NON DOMUS DOMINUM 

SED DOMINUS DOMUM. 

Several more are too much effaced to be readable, but the 
rampant lion of the Vaughans may be traced beside Queen 
Elizabeth's coat. About twenty yards from the house, command- 
ing the same lovely view, is a queer D-shaped stone edifice of the 
kind which our fathers used to call a Grazebeau. 1 Mrs. Baker 
often speaks of it, and it is still called in the neighbourhood by 
the mysterious name of ' The Apollo.' Pondering how such a 
title could have been given to a building, the hypothesis has 
occurred to me that it was originally called the ' Belvedere ' ; and 
that, after a time, a dim perplexity in the local mind concerning 
the Apollo Belvedere led to the dropping of the longer and less 
easily pronounced * Belvedere,' and the retention of the facile and 
sonorous word ' Apollo.' Fine old oaks spreading over a sloping 
sunny lawn full of wild-flowers, and an old-fashioned garden, 
complete all needful description of good Mrs. Baker's fortress, 
at whose funny old round and half-moon upper windows her face 
was doubtless often to be seen reconnoitring approaching bailiffs 
and * myrmidons,' to be sternly refused admittance, even if death 
by starvation might be the penalty. 

As to Hengwrt itself, the < capital Messuage ' of this much- 
troubled estate, now, in 1779, in the hands of the 'miscreant' 
Lever, it is not more than half a mile from Doluwcheogryd, and 
easy intelligence could be conveyed to the captive lady of all that 
went on there, for or against Mr. Vaughan's interests. 

1 These Gazebeaus are said by Pennant to have been attached to all Welsh 
mansions in his time. One of them, now in ruins, called the Hengwrt Summer 
House, was as tall as a three-story house, and built as solidly as if intended for 
the junketings of the Giant Idris himself. It is to be scored on the side of 
the slanderers who call the climate of Wales a little damp, that the Welsh idea 
of a summer bower always includes a well-built chimney and large fireplace. 
Possibly it is designed to boil water for punch but we need not define its use 
too nicely. 



416 A GLIMPSE OF WALES 

Much older than the former, Hengwrt (signifying Old Court) is 
a typical Welsh mansion ; not very large, but, like every house, 
great or small, in the district, as solidly built as if Welsh families 
were to endure as long as their mountains, and proving that 
Welshmen did not think, like modern Americans, that it is an 
impertinence for a father to determine in what sort of dwelling 
his son shall live, or to build one calculated to outlast himself. 
Every tourist will recall the broad estuary which lies between the 
noble mountain ranges of Cader Idris and Diphwys. At the head 
of this estuary, where the tide ceases to run, about ten miles 
from the sea, the valley forks into two ; to the north the lovely 
Ganllwd, with the wide and brawling Mawddach, rich in salmon, run- 
ning under its heathery hills ; and to the south, the narrower 
wooded valley of the Wnion, through which the Great Western 
Eailway now reaches Dolgelly from Llangollen. At the angle of 
the Y formed by the meeting of these rivers, on a gradually rising 
wooded slope, stands Hengwrt, bosomed in woods so old that many 
of the tall trees, alas ! fall before every gale, carrying with them 
in their ruin, among the evergreens below, the nests of rooks and 
herons wherewith they are abundantly studded. Even in Mrs. 
Baker's time the whole country must have been full of fine old 
trees. There was one oak called the ' King of the Ganllwd,' 
of which the mighty trunk now forms a dinner-table in the hall 
at Hengwrt ; and another, which stood in Nannau, and was called 
the < Oak of the Elves,' to which was attached the well-known 
legend recorded by Pennant. Howel Sele, an ancestor of the 
Vaughans, who owned the region in the fourteenth century (the 
name is pronounced 8dly\ was at feud with his cousin, Owen 
Glendower. The Abbot of Cymmer also called Vaner Abbey 
(now a small, but beautiful ruin, close under Hengwrt) took on 
himself the Christian task of reconciling the foes, and succeeded so 
farthathe sent them outhunting together in Nannau deer park. 1 The 
rest of the tragedy may be told in the words of Pennant (1 778) : 

* While they were walking out Owen observed a doe feeding, 
and told Howel, who was reckoned the best archer of his day, that 

1 A successor of this abbot, it is said, was the original owner of a carved oak 
bedstead not at all of a penitential kind still in use in Hengwrt. It is supposed 
to have been brought up from Cymmer, at the dissolution of the monastery, but 
appears to belong rather to the reign of James I. The front columns, massive and 
splendidly carved, stand quite apart from the bed itself, and support a roof more 
like that of a Roman baldacchino than of a bed. 






A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. 417 

there was a fine mark for him. Howel bent his bow, and pre- 
tending to aim at the doe, suddenly turned and discharged the 
arrow full at the breast of Glyndwr, who fortunately had armour 
beneath his cloaths, so received no hurt. Enraged at his treachery, 
he seized on Sele, burnt his house and hurried him away from the 
place ; nor could any one learn how he was disposed of, till forty 
years after the skeleton of a large man, such as Howel, was dis- 
covered in the hollow of a great oak, in which Owen was supposed 
to have immured him in reward for his perfidy.' 1 

The tree in which Howel Sele thus disappeared, like an ancient 
' Lost Sir Massingberd,' was given the name of the ' Oak of the 
Spirits,' Ceubren yrEllyll,&ndwas thenceforth naturally an object 
of awe and interest. In 1798, just after Mrs. Baker's time, a draw- 
ing made of it by an artist named Barker shows it as a hollowed 
shell, with very little foliage remaining, standing in the midst of 
a wood backed by the solemn outline of Moel Orthrwm, the Hill 
of Oppression, or, as it is sometimes also called, Moel Offrwm, the 
Hill of Sacrifice. In July 1813 Sir Kichard Colt Hoare made 
another sketch of the tree, then in the last stage of picturesque 
decay, and the very day afterwards a storm blew down all that 
remained of the fi Oak of the Elves.' The wreck was piously pre- 
served and cut into all manner of relics, candlesticks, frames for 
pictures of Pitt, bowls and butter-dishes, set in silver and deco- 
rated with copies of Sir R. Hoare's sketch. 

As to Howel Sele, when the blackened ruins of his burnt 
castle were cleared away some years ago to build a lodge for 
Nannau deer park, three immense bronze caldrons were brought 
to light. They have since been kept at Hengwrt, and the biggest 
appears to me quite capable of boiling down into venison broth 
the whole of that doe which Howel Sele should have shot, instead 
of aiming at the terrible Glen dower. 

A tree, which was already old and hollow about the year 1380, 
and which only fell in the year 1813, gives a marvellous idea of 
the length to which the years of the Druid's emblem of the 
Eternal may be extended. Had Shakespeare known the fearful 
legend which Pennant picked up in situ, would he not have re- 
ferred to it as one more touch of the wild character of Glendower ? 

To return to our poor friend Mrs. Baker, imprisoned at Doluw- 
cheogryd in December 1778. Putting aside the endless squabbles 
and troubles about writs, ejectments, sales, and law-suits which 
1 ' Tour in North. Wales,' p. 325. 

195 



418 A GLIMPSE OF WALES 

can have small interest for us now, we catch curious aper$us of 
Welsh life at the period, both from what is recorded and what is 
omitted in her elaborate diary. Never once does the excellent 
old lady, with all her high moral sentiment, appear to think of 
going to church, either during her voluntary imprisonment in her 
bailiff-beleaguered castle, or later, when restored to liberty. Yet 
there were curates, if not a- resident rector, at Dolgelly, only a 
mile away ; one of the latter at all events being an Englishman 
of the name of Herbert. Of this gentleman she always speaks 
as ' that Divine,' but not without a certain spice of contempt, as 
of a man who is ' fitting himself for the Lawn ' by Janus-faced 
proceedings, and whose allegiance to Mr. Yaughan in times of 
adversity was far from unquestionable. 

The only evidence which Mrs. Baker gives of her desire to 
maintain religious observances is on a Good Friday, when she 
records that, in consideration of the day, and as a penance, she had 
invited the worst-mannered man she knew to dine with her. On 
another occasion she engaged in a lively controversy with a youth 
who had turned Methodist. 

Here is the scene in her own terse description : 

About six we walked to the Storehouse seat, a lofty seat overlooking the 
landing-place of boats from Barmouth. The evening being fine we enjoyed the 
view. Below us, at John Williams' (a small cottage), was a Ball. After sitting an 
hour upon the seat, appeared two Excisemen and the supervisor ; the latter I had 
never seen before. Common civilities ended, I addressed myself to little Smith 
(one of the Excisemen), who has become a most zealous Methodist, Kallied him, 
and sometimes talked seriousty, but to no purpose. The man's intellects are hurt 
by these wretched Schismatics. His looks were so altered as to excite pity. 
After half-an-hour's converse the fiddle below was one of our subjects, they 
proceeded on their walk to Hengwrt, Smith saying at parting, ' He thought me 
as bad as Simon Magus,' and I advised him to the Musk Medicine without 
delay. The symptoms of madness were strong, and the preaching cobblers and 
tailors will certainly compleat his malady, consequently incapacitate him for his 
office, and thus must make a scene of misery for his poor wife and child. 

Little did Mrs. Baker foresee that a century later these 
4 wretched schismatics ' who carried out the movements of Whit- 
field and Wesley should practically become masters of W T ales, and 
build chapels far outnumbering the established churches of her 
6 divines,' with ten times as numerous congregations. It was an 
unkind act of the old lady, we must remark in passing, to recom- 
mend the ' musk medicine ' to poor < little Smith,' the Exciseman ; 
for musk, according to the belief of that day, was a cure for dis- 
tempered brains. Old Salmon's Family Dictionary, 1696, after 



A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. 419 

giving a most wonderful account of the nature of that f excre- 
scence musk, physiologically considered,' remarks, 'Being well 
prepared, it is not only a very sweet Perfume, but also taken in 
cordials, cheers and revives the heart and dispels gross vapours 
from the brain. 9 The * vapours ' of Methodism were not quite so 
easily dispelled as Mrs. Baker fondly imagined. 

Conversation, when not stimulated by news of Mr. Vaughan's 
affairs, seems to have languished a little at Doluwcheogryd. Of 
one evening Mrs. Baker records with complacency, 'M. Owy 
Owen drank coffee with me. His conversation very agreeable 
upon various subjects, without once touching upon the constant 
ones of this neighbourhood, viz. Pedigrees, and Calumny.' Welsh 
people, indeed, then and now, always seem to me to possess more 
appetite for talk than food to satisfy it. They actually hunger 
for news on which they may chatter all along the road to every- 
body they meet. The taciturnity of the English agriculturist is 
the very reverse of their Celtic animation and garrulity. Of 
news of the world outside Wales, there was at Dolgelly in 1780, 
as I have already remarked, exceedingly little. Newspapers were 
the rarest of treasures, to be lent about by the happy recipients, 
and carefully returned to the senders in due time. Mentioning 
that she had received some from the great squire of Bala, Mr. Price 
of Rhiwlas, Mrs. Baker notes : 

I assured him of preserving his newspapers safely to be returned. He marches on 
Thursday to Holyhead with his corps, to prevent the French from landing. 'Tis 
to be hoped that the wise (or rather unwise) ministry will order some more men 
to join the Militia of this country, for eighty men is hardly enough, although 
Ancient Britons, to oppose the given number of ten thousand, whom 'tis reported 
are endeavouring to make their landing good. But that's beyond my faith. 

After this excursion into politics, the diary relapses into the 
record of ' some snuff' brought for her own use (Oh, Mrs. Baker !) 
from Chester, and to a supply of ' leaves from Mr. Corbet's mul- 
berry tree for the silkworms, who are dying for want of them so 
fast that there is a doubt whether the breed can be preserved in 
sufficient numbers.' As regards manners, Mrs. Baker is continually 
scandalised concerning them. 

The steward, from unavoidable necessity sometimes eats with me, then I am 
sure to recollect Falstaff 's words, ' It is certain that either wise bearing or ignorant 
carriage is caught as men take diseases one of another.' 

A certain Ellis Jones is commended as a ( rational and civi- 
lized being, a title that is not justly due to either steward or 



420 A GLIMPSE OF WALES 

maid.' The < chit-chat of Dolgelly ' is, in another place, stigma- 
tised as 

Seldom more than a Jargon derived from Envy, Pride, Avarice, without the 
Gloss of Politeness. Sometimes a little Truth is admitted, but so shaded with the 
above Vices that without Time it's Kadiance cannot be seen. 

Nevertheless, Mrs. Baker keenly enjoyed the incessant visits 
of her neighbours, inhabitants of the surrounding farms and 
small manor-houses, Plas Brithdir, Tyn-y-Celyn, Garth-Meilan, 
Llwyn, Caeselgwmbach, and a score of others, with whose hard 
names the soul of the Saxon reader need not be vexed. Of these 
coffee- drinking friends her best beloved was a Mrs. Anwyl, who 
lived at Caeselgwmbach, a farm far up behind Moel Ispry, acces- 
sible only by a long and steep mountain path, which, yet it would 
appear, Mrs. Anwyl traversed perpetually. This lady was a 
woman of spirit. Certain dues at Dolgelly Fair belonged to Mr. 
Vaughan, but were collected this unhappy year for his creditors ; 
and a certain Koland was sent into the Fair to receive them on 
their behalf. 

Mrs. Anwyl was apprized of it. After he had made his demand of a shilling, 
and received it from the honest ginger-bread baker of Bala, she went into the 
fair and prevented any more from paying, and then shouted Koland, Come with 
me 1 We will pay Squire Vaughan double toll next Fair I ' for Mrs. Anwyl was not 
like Coriolanus (!). She courted the Plebeians, till in the same breath they blessed 
her and the injured Mr. Vaughan, whose rights she so spiritedly was preserving. 
Oh ! how dearly do I love her ! 

As the houses are all built in this part of the country of solid 
stone, nearly every farm mentioned by Mrs. Baker remains to the 
present day much as she saw it a hundred years ago. Architects 
tell us much of the far-reaching influence on the art of each 
country of the circumstance whether it possesses or does not 
possess good building stone on its own territory. Egypt would 
not have been Egypt without its granite and syenite. Greece 
would have had no Parthenon without Pentelicus. Never would 
the Gothic cathedrals have arisen, nor all the arts which flourished 
to adorn them, had all Europe resembled those districts of Sussex 
where the only building materials are flints and rubble. This is 
no doubt true enough ; but I should like some one to trace also 
for us the no less important influence of the same conditions on 
the Morals of a nation, and register the solid characteristics of fami- 
lies which are nursed by good stone homesteads, or stifled in log 
huts and mud cabins. The old Welsh farms are so alike that one 
description applies to all: small, compact, two-story cottages, 



A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. 421 

with odd gables and dormer-latticed windows. There is no 'jerry ' 
work about the massive greystone walls, or the slate roofs over- 
grown with moss, polypody, and yellow stone-crop. Close by 
there is always a bright mountain brook singing over the stones ; 
a rowan-tree or two ; a stone helm for sheltering hay, and a cow- 
house ; and, finally, a little orchard of plum and apple trees covered 
with lichen, and bearing fruit wherewith the Saxon palate is ill- 
advised to tamper. There are few or no flowers round the houses. 
Nature supplies as many close by in roods of foxglove, hedges full 
of honeysuckle, and thousands of acres of deep purple heather, as 
anybody requires. Inside the cottage will be found some heirloom 
furniture of carved oak settles, and chests, and dressers, the latter 
adorned with a goodly array of mugs and plates. 

From these old homesteads came, as it would seem, almost 
every week the wives and daughters as visitors to call on Mrs. 
Baker, gossip, and drink coffee. The social position of these 
good people was probably nearly parallel to that of Kentish yeo- 
men or Westmoreland 6 statesmen ' in the same period, so far as 
respectability and education went. As to money, the Welsh 
farmer was certainly immeasurably the poorest. The singular 
frugality of Welsh rural life ; the comfortable and respectable ex- 
terior maintained along with very hard work, a food which would 
be starvation fare to the Saxon stomach, is a notable feature of the 
national character now, and probably at all times. Mrs. Baker 
constantly records that she entertained her guests with coffee. 
The use of tea was apparently much more rare at that period ; 
whereas it has now become the drink of Wales, almost as it is of 
Russia. The constant sending of presents seems to have formed 
as much a part of the manners of Merioneth as ' backsheesh ' of 
those of Arabia. The victuals brought to Mrs. Baker were, how- 
ever, sometimes of a tantalising character. She records, for 
example, ' Thos. Davies's wife brought me some chocolate. Poor 
woman ! her intention was kind, but it was worm-eaten.' At 
another place she complains of the < grows,' which had to be 
thrown away, and of fish in an equally bad condition, and ' 2 beer 
bottles quite sour.' Mrs. Anwyl sends her a present of mussels. 
Another friend offers sand eels ; another a quart of beer ; another 
a spare-rib of beef; another mushrooms. But it was quite a 
different matter if any ' vile traitor ' presumed to offer gifts to the 
faithful female Cerberus of Doluwcheogryd. Here is the way she 
received them : 



422 A GLIMPSE OF WALES 

Kowland's wife entered with a Turkey under her arm and said Mr. Lever had 
sent it with his compliments, and if I pleased I might also have a fat goose. My 
reply was that I thanked him for the offer and her for the trouble in bringing 
the bird, but that I would not take it, and that a fat goose at this time of year 
was what I never eat. If Mr. Lever would send me the books that are my pro- 
perty I would thank him. She said it was a fine fat turkey, it was a pity to send 
it back. * None, Mrs. Davies,' I reply'd ; ' but to keep it would be an action of 
indelible infamy, which God has hitherto preserved me from, and I tritst ever 
will!' 

Mrs. Baker's feelings towards those whom Providence did not 
preserve from the c indelible infamy ' of eating Lever's geese and 
turkeys were very strong indeed. We learn that a certain ' Mr. 
Thomas "of the Forge ' had been" prevailed upon to dine with the 
bailiff, while a more faithful Ellis Jones declined the feast. 

By his refusal he (Ellis Jones) gained my approbation, and Mr. Thomas, in 
gratifying his palate upon a fat Goose, has merited from me a degree of contempt. 
Great actions every one is upon their guard in the performance of. It is such 
as I am now mentioning that show the real disposition. Nor can he excuse the 
manner though Demosthenes himself were raised from the dead to plead on his 
behalf. 

Mrs. Baker's sentiments on the subject of the functionaries of 
the law were indeed severe. She wishes ' that great Civilian Dr 
Arthur Collier,' to rank attorney and proctors with bailiffs, conclud- 
ing, respecting the latter sort of gentry, that they are ' despicable 
in everyone's opinion as having only a human form. 9 (!) Speaking 
of the arch enemy who had put in the bailiffs, and whom she hears 
is very ill and < attended by the faculty,' she remarks : 

They may perhaps relieve the pains of the body, but I am afraid that his 
disorder is twofold, as it is beyond my comprehension for a country attorney or 
indeed one in London to gain 7,000/. per annum without deeply wounding his 
Conscience. Restitution and Repentance are the only remedy for that worst of 
Disorders. 

On another occasion, when Mr. Lever gave ale to the labourers 
at a harvest home, one of the women proposed as a toast, ' God 
bless the gentleman ' (of course Mr. Vaughan) < who sowed the 
wheat!' Mrs. Baker observes on this: 'Oh, Gratitude! in 
whomsoever found, how lovely ! ' 

The waste and depredations of the servants in the houses of 
the Welsh gentry must have been something preposterous. Mrs. 
Baker is perpetually recording the shameful tricks of the agents ; 
as, for example, selling a quantity of bark in Dublin at 31. a ton, 
with deduction for freight, while it might have been sold on the 
spot for 4L 10s. At the conclusion she makes the mournful 
remark 






A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. 423 

Every one of his household had not the same opportunity to impose on their 
master, but in my opinion among seventy, which was the number, there could 
not be ten found but would act as Hugh Pugh did. 

Of others Mrs. Baker records rancorously : 

Surely the Kuffians now in possession of Hengwrt must be accountable, and 
also the meat they daily give at the door to all comers, even more than Mr. 
Vaughan himself ordered. One Mr. Evans, a husbandman, the last year at 
Hengwrt, was so vile a fellow as to endeavour to serve his late master with a 
writ. Now, if impaling (\} was ever to be suffered for a punishment, such a wretch 
might undergo it without commiseration. Some of Mr. Vaughan 's friends at 
Bala beat the treacherous scoundrel most heartily. 

The wages of this wonderful household of seventy servants, for 
the two moderate- sized houses of Hengwrt and Nannau, could not 
have formed a very heavy item in their expenditure. A certain 
Nelly had been a servant for thirty-seven years, ' her wages only 
forty shillings a year. She was willing to stay in hopes of her 
master's return to one or other of his houses without any wages.' 
But the multitude of useless mouths of the hangers-on must have 
been an immense expense. There was, for example, a harper, 
upon whose harp (an old Welsh harp, with three rows of strings 
and no pedals, still preserved at Hengwrt) there is much ado in 
Mrs. Baker's journal. She says it cost Mr. Vaughan 231. There 
was also a brewer, with a large brewery on the premises, and there 
was a whole establishment of game-cocks, with at least one 
domestic devoted to their service under the proud title of the 
Cockmaster. Mrs. Baker, though she professes to hate the ' Bar- 
barous ' sport, records with triumph the victory of Mr. Vaughan 's 
cocks over those of a rival squire, Mr. Corbet, of Ynysymaengwyn. 
Here is her Homeric account of the battle : 

Monday, May 17, 1779. The annual cock-fighting between Mr. Vaughan and 
Corbet. I am more anxious this year for Mr. Vaughan 's birds gaining the victory 
than if himself were on the spot. I've the joy to know they are in the morning 
two battles ahead. All the former years, this Barbarous diversion continues 
several days, but Mr. Vaughan being exiled, Mr. Corbet majestically said all the 
battles should be fought in one. I suspect this contrary to the rules of Honour, 
for even in cock-fighting there is something no doubt considered in that light. If 
my suspicion is just, then the victory will be doubled. I've been straining my 
eyes this hour or more to discover some messenger from Dolgelly. The park- 
keeper is arrived with a joyful countenance. My question, ' Is it well, Evan ? ' 
was answered, Very well, Madam, for my master has won the main by gaining 
8 battles in 13.' Mr. Corbet has lost a prodigious sum of money. 

As a happy conclusion to this part of Mrs. Baker's journal we 
may pause on the delightful intelligence received by her on June 



424 A GLIMPSE OF WALES. 



19, 1779, that 'Hengwrt is not sold.' Mr. Vaughan has < en- 
trapped the wicked in his own snare 'that is to say, that his 
counsel had discovered that the principal supposed creditor, who 
had put the bailiffs into Hengwrt, owed Mr. Vaughan a balance of 
3,000. on their various and bemuddled transactions ! Such had 
been the ' inattention ' to his affairs, wherewith Mrs. Baker too 
justly charged her patron! 'Dear Hengwrt,' she exclaims, <is 
still Mr. Vaughan's property, in spite of the vile machinations of 
his enemies.' 

One is glad to learn that the joyful news came in a letter from 
Mr. Vaughan himself to his devoted adherent, who piously and 
eruditely records, ( This made me say the words of Queen Eliza- 
beth when they proclaimed her " It is the Lord's doing, and it is 
marvellous in our eyes." ' Next day while she was at dinner she 
was interrupted thus : 

There was a shout of innumerable (1) voices louder than the trumpet that 
accompanied them. They gave 3 huzzas, ' Vaughan for Ever ! ' I threw up the 
sash and joined them, waving my handkerchief, as they their hats. Presently 
came Mrs. Anwyl and Mrs. Jones, with a larger (!) party from Hengwrt, where they 
had been shouting ' Vaughan for ever ! ' clapping their hands. . . . Lever's wife 
[the wife of the ' miscreant ' bailiff] clapped her hands when the little army did, 
but looked like a corpse through fear. Men, women, and children showed every 
mark of unbounded joy. Robin the Huntsman was directed by Mr. Griffith 
Thomas to ring the dinner-bell at Hengwrt, and if asked why he did so, to reply 
it was for joy the friends of Hengwrt were come in a body to dine. The bell at 
Llanelltyd was rung also, and the village inhabitants testified their joy as strongly. 
... As for Dr. Owen, he was so inebriated with drinking Mr. Vaughan's health 
that he was obliged to go to bed at Mrs. Margaret Vaughan's house. There were 
bonfires in the street, and an effigy of Lever and his wife set up and shot at till 
it was totally destroyed. 

On this triumphant note we are happy to leave the faithful Mrs. 
Baker. Whether her programme for Mr. Vaughan's future guidance 
was carried out cannot now be verified, but here it is. Speaking 
of a project for clearing his remaining debts, she says : 

That compleated will rejoice my Soul, and Mr. Vanghan, if he will steadily 
adhere to (Economic rule, that is, equally avoid inattentive prof usen ess (0 Inat- 
tention !) and mean Avarice under the plausible name of Frugality, he may be far 
happier than he ever was in all his past days. I would wish him to be Benevo- 
lent and also Hospitable, because they are Virtues, but in the extream are Vices 
that have occasioned him, and such as are truly his friends, almost three months of 
acute misery, besides years apprehending the dreadful scene. For the eight years 
that I have experienced his friendly regard he has appeared to me but in a state 
of Purgatory. Often did he remind me of the Proverb, ' Even in laughter the 
Heart is sorrowful, and the end of that Mirth is Heaviness ' ; his entertain- 
ments being in general unnecessary and too expensive for the guests and his 
finances. 






425 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

BY JAMES PAYN. 
AUTHOR OF 'BY PROXY' ETC. ETC. 

CHAPTER XIV. 

THE EXAMINERS. 

OTWITHSTANDING the 
powerful motives in connec- 
tion with its munificent but 
unknown donor that impelled 
Mr. Samuel Erin to keep ' the 
Confession of Faith ' a secret 
confined to his antiquarian 
friends, the thing was ob- 
viously impossible. It would 
have been almost as difficult, 
had the Tables of the Law 
been verily discovered upon 
Mount Sinai, to restrict the 
news to a few members of the 
religious public. The dis- 
covery, and the discoverer, 
William Henry Erin, became 
'the Talk of the Town.' It 
seemed to Margaret impos- 
sible that the meritorious 
though fortunate young fellow 
could ever become more 

famous ; but the possibilities of greatness are infinite ; his foot, 
as it turned out, was only on the first rung of the ladder. The 
modest house in Norfolk Street became a sort of metropolitan 
Stratford-on-Avon ; it was absolutely besieged by the antiquarian 
and learned world. Mr. Malone the commentator, indeed (who 
had not been invited), publicly announced his intention of not 
examining the MSS., 4 lest his visit should give a countenance to 
them, which, from the secrecy that was observed relative to their 
discovery, they were not entitled to.' Mr. Steevens took the 




426 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

same course, as did also Dr. Farmer, Lord Orford, and the Bishops 
of Durham and Salisbury. The air was thick with their pamphlets 
and loud with their denunciations. But there were more fish 
than these in the Shakespearean seas, and quite as big ones, who 
were of a different opinion. Some of them came to scoff, but re- 
mained to admire and believe ; others, calm and critical, examined 
and were convinced ; others again, arriving in a reverent spirit, 
were filled with satisfaction and affected even to tears. 

Under these circumstances, his own good faith being attacked, 
as well as these precious treasures maliciously denounced, Mr. 
Samuel Erin took a bold course. On a table in his sanctuary, 
side by side with the new discovery, was placed another ' con- 
fession of faith ' in the validity of the MS. in question, which 
visitors were invited to sign. They were not, of course, compelled 
to do it ; but, having expressed their belief in the genuineness 
of the document, it seemed not unreasonable that they should 
commit it to paper. In some cases there were rather humorous 
scenes. Antiquaries as a rule are not very eager to permanently 
endorse with their authority the treasures which are not in their 
own possession ; they have even been known to express a cheerful 
belief in that or this, and afterwards, when unpleasant evidence 
turns up, to deny that they ever did believe in it ; and Mr. Erin, 
who knew Latin, was an admirer of the ancient line, ' litera 
scripta manet,' which literally translated means, ' One can't well 
wriggle out of one's own handwriting.' As pilgrims did not pay 
for the privilege of admission to view these sacred relics, they 
were naturally inclined to be civil to their custodians, and, when 
sufficiently convinced of the genuineness of what they saw, to 
express themselves with much effusion and enthusiasm. As the 
paper in question was worded very modestly, but with extreme 
distinctness, there was no alternative for the impulsive person 
but to sign it. 

' Delighted to have seen you,' Mr. Erin would say, as he 
pressed the hand of his departing guest ; 'your unsought-for and 
enthusiastic testimony has been most gratifying to me.' 

'Don't mention it, my dear sir, it is I who have been de- 
lighted. It has been a privilege indeed to have set eyes upon so 
valuable and absolutely authentic a document.' 

' Then just as a matter of form, be so good as to add your 
name to this already lengthy roll of Shakespearean critics; it will 
be the very keystone of the edifice of our faith.' 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 427 

The faces of some of these enthusiasts, at this modest and 
reasonable request, would fall from zenith to nadir. They could 
not eat their own words, but they looked as if they would like 
to have eaten Mr. Samuel Erin. 

William Henry, who had a strong sense of humour, was some- 
times compelled to rush from the room, and hide his face, bedewed 
with tears of laughter, upon Margaret's shoulder. 

These paroxysms used rather to distress her. * Oh, Willie, 
Willie, how can you be so frivolous,' she would say, ' on a matter 
too that is so fraught with good or evil to both of us ? ' 

' Oh, but if you could only see them, my darling,' he would 
reply, * so civil, so beaming with courtesy and enthusiasm, and then 
all of a sudden like a sportsman in a small way, who, boastful of 
his prowess, finds himself face to face with a wild boar alarmed, 
astounded, and without the least hope of escape, you would laugh 
too. Then, when they won't sign, it is almost even better fun. 
Porson was here this morning ; the great Dr. Porson, who knows 
as much Greek as Troilus did, and certainly can write it better. 
He drank half a bottle of brandy, a pint of usquebaugh, and all 
the miscellaneous contents of your uncle's spirit case, and, though 
he had said but little, was taking his leave in what seemed a state 
of complete good humour and satisfaction, when Mr. Erin 're- 
quested the honour of his signature. Then he drew himself up 
as stiff as a pointer at a partridge. 

6 " 1 thank you, sir," he said, " but I never subscribe my name 
to any profession of faith whatever." The disbelieving old heathen ! 
I really thought your uncle would have kicked him into the street.' 

' Oh, but I am so sorry about Dr. Porson.' 

'Why, my darling? He was not really kicked, you know. 
Don't be sorry for Porson ; be sorry for me. If I didn't find some 
amusement in these people, I believe I should go mad. You have 
no idea what I suffer from them, their examinations and their 
cross-examinations for when they are sceptical they are cross- 
examinations their pomposity and pretence, are well-nigh in- 
tolerable. I don't know whether their patronage or their con- 
tempt is the most offensive.' 

It was quite true that these investigations were not always 
a laughing matter to William Henry. On one occasion there was 
a regular committee of inquiry, composed of what might well 
be called bigwigs, folks of the highest reputation in matters 
of erudition, and most of them in full-bottomed perukes. The 



428 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 






Eev. Mr. Wharton, the commentator, was one of them, solemn as 
Porson had been, and much more sober ; Dr. Parr, the divine 
and scholar, pompons yet affable, in ecclesiastical apparel, with 
shovel hat and apron ; Pye, the poet laureate, combining the 
air of a man of letters with the importance belonging to a 
Government official ; and half a dozen other grave and reverend 
signers. The room was specially arranged for their reception. 
Mr. Samuel Erin sat at the head of the table in the Shake- 
spearean chair that he had purchased at Anne Hathaway's 
cottage. The Confession of Faith was spread before these learned 
epicures as though it was something to eat. Their eyes devoured 
it. William Henry had a chair to himself a little removed, ready 
to answer all inquiries. It was by far the most serious examina- 
tion to which he had been subjected, but he acquitted himself 
very well. He had nothing, he said, to tell them but the simple 
truth. As to the genuineness of the document in question, he 
knew nothing, and had not even an opinion to offer on the subject. 

These visitors were not Mr. Erin's personal friends ; they did 
not fall into raptures, or affect to do so ; they were by no means so 
courteous as the ordinary folks who came from curiosity ; they 
had been invited for the special purpose of having their minds 
satisfied, or of coming to an adverse conclusion. It was like the 
Star Chamber, and they did not (as it seemed to William Henry) 
spare the thumbscrew, or the boot. After an hour or two of this 
gentle pressure, Mr. Wharton observed, ' Your testimony, young 
man, as far as it goes, is satisfactory to us, while your behaviour 
does you great credit.' 

4 Yes,' assented Dr. Parr, < I think, Mr. Erin, you have a son 
of whom you may be justly proud. I heard you address him as 
Samuel ; it is a gratifying coincidence to me that it is also my 
baptismal name.' Mr. Erin felt that it would be discourteous as 
well as embarrassing to undeceive him. 

Then Mr. Pye was asked to read the Confession of Faith 
(which had by this time been fully investigated and discussed) 
aloud, which he did in a solemn and sonorous voice, with the 
company reverently upstanding as during Divine Service. Then, 
amid a profound silence, Dr. Parr delivered himself as follows : 

4 Sir, we have very fine passages in our Church Services, and 
our Litany abounds in beauties ; but here, sir, is a man who has 
distanced us all.' 

Most of the learned company bowed assent, and two, who were 









THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 429 



nonconformists, murmured ' hear, hear.' The tears trickled down 
Mr. Erin's cheeks ; it was the proudest moment, so far, in the old 
man's life. 

Later on in the day another gratifying circumstance took place. 
A visitor called who either had not received his invitation in 
time, or, what was more probable, not wishing his personal im- 
portance to suffer by comparison with that of others, had preferred 
to come alone. His face was fat and puffy, and exhibited an 
unparalleled self-sufficiency. He had a sharp nose, a double chin, 
and eyebrows superciliously elevated ; he carried a gold-headed 
cane in his hands, clasped behind him, and spoke in a thick, slow 
voice. Mr. Erin received him with great respect, and submitted 
his literary treasure for examination with an unwonted humility. 
The investigation was a prolonged and apparently an exhausting 
one, for the visitor called three times (as though he had been in 
a public-house) for hot whisky and water ! As Dr. Porson had 
drunk all there was in the case, Margaret herself, who kept the 
key of the cellar, took him in a fresh bottle, and curiosity com- 
pelled her to remain. Her presence seemed somewhat to distract 
the attention of the guest from the precious manuscript. 

'No doubt authentic,' he murmured, 'and devilish pretty; 
antiquity is stamped upon it.' 

' And the right sort of antiquity,' suggested Mr. Erin. ' It 
has the stamp of the time.' 

' Just so. I should think twenty years of age, at most.' 

' Sir ! ' ejaculated his host. 

' I mean the usquebaugh,' explained the visitor. ' Twenty 
years in bottle at least did I say at most ? and plump.' 

Here Margaret was about to beat a retreat, when the gentle- 
man rose. ' One moment, young lady,' he said, * you do not know 
who I am. It will be something to tell your children's children 
that James Boswell, of Auchinleck, Esq.' (here he suited the 
action to the word) ' chucked you under the chin.' 

William Henry felt greatly inclined to resent this liberty, but 
Mr. Erin only smiled approval. 

* Another glass ! ' said Mr. Boswell, and proceeded with his 
investigations. 

Presently, without a word of warning, he threw himself on his 
knees and pressed his lips to the MS. 

' I kiss these invaluable relics of our bard,' he said, * and thank 
Heaven that I have lived to see them. Would that my late 



430 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

revered friend, the great Lexi the great Lexicog ' Emotion 

of various kinds prevented his completion of the sentence, and 
Mr. Erin led him with a gentle violence to the table on which 
lay the list of signatures ; to which he added his name, though, 
it must be confessed, in a handwriting that was rather illegible. 



CHAPTER XV. 

AT VAUXHALL. 

THE members of the little household in Norfolk Street were 
now in great content. That word, indeed, scarcely describes the 
state of mind of the head of the house, who was literally trans- 
ported with joy. It was difficult to identify the jubilant and 
triumphant old fellow with the grudging, smileless, and, to say 
truth, somewhat morose individual he had been a few months 
before. His regard for William Henry began to be quite trouble- 
some, for, though he had not the least objection to Margaret and 
his son being alone together, he would often interrupt their little 
interviews from excess of solicitude upon his account. That 
somewhat flippant young gentleman used to compare his parent 
on these occasions to the c sweete chickenne ' of the Shakespeare's 
confession, which was always ' hoverrynge over herre broode,' and, 
indeed, this affectionate anxiety was partly due to a certain 
apprehension the old gentleman experienced when the goose that 
laid the golden eggs for him was out of his sight. At present, 
however, as Margaret reminded her cousin, there were not 
enough of them though so far as they went they had a very 
material value to become nest eggs : they could not be con- 
sidered as savings or capital to any appreciable extent. They 
were not, indeed, theirs at all, having been made over to Mr. 
Erin ; but for the object the young people had in view that was 
all one as though they had remained their own. If a play of 
Shakespeare's, or even part of a play, should chance to turn up 
among those treasures of the Temple, that would indeed be a 
fortune to them, or at all events would procure the antiquary's 
consent to everything, and ensure his favour in perpetuity. 

These ideas occurred to Margaret only in the vaguest way, 
nor even in William Henry's mind did they take any well- 
defined shape. His nature, to do him justice, was by no means 






THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 431 

mercenary, and, if he could only have called Margaret his own, he 
would have been content. As to being able to maintain her, he 
had always had a good opinion of his own talents ; and though the 
praise with which he was now overwhelmed from so many quarters 
had, of course, no reference to them, it helped to increase his self- 
confidence. 

In this comparative prosperity, and being of a disposition that 
was by no means inclined to triumph over an unsuccessful rival, 
it somewhat distressed him to find Frank Dennis standing some- 
what aloof. He visited the house, indeed, but not so frequently 
as had been his wont, and, as regarded William Henry at 
least, not upon the same terms. He had always been friendly 
to the younger man under circumstances when it would have been 
excusable if he had been otherwise, but now he avoided him ; not 
in any marked manner, but certainly with intention. If he had 
avoided Margaret also, the explanation would have been easy, but 
it was not so. He was not, indeed, on the same terms with that 
young lady as he had been ; he did not, as of old, seek her so- 
ciety ; his face did not brighten up as it was wont to do when she 
addressed him ; but he treated her with a respect which, if it was 
not tender, was full of gentleness : whereas, to William Henry 
he was even cold. 

It was a significant proof of the transformation that had taken 
place in Mr. Erin that he not only noticed this, but in a manner 
apologised for it to William Henry. 

'I am sorry to see that Dennis and you, my lad, don't seem to 
get on together so well as you used to do. But you must not 
mind his being a little jealous.' 

At this the young man's face flushed, for 'jealousy ' had just 
then with him but one meaning : he thought that his father was 
about to talk with him about Margaret, but his niece was not in 
the old man's thoughts at all. 

* It is not every one,' he went on, ' who can bear to see the 
good fortune of his friends with equanimity ; especially when it 
takes the form of such a stroke of luck, as in your case. What 
Dennis says to himself is : " Why should not / have discovered 
these MSS. instead of William Henry ? " And not having done so, 
he is a little bit envious of you, and is inclined to decry them. 
It is a pity, of course, but he can do you no more harm by it 
than he can harm Shakespeare by discrediting the work of his 
band,' 



432 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

But the young man was sorry nevertheless, and Margaret was 
still more grieved. Since Dennis had tacitly consented to her 
changed relations with her cousin, or at all events had made no 
opposition to them, she thought he might have forgiven him as 
he had forgiven her. It was a subject on which she could not 
speak to him, but occasionally there was something, or to her sen- 
sitive eye and ear seemed to be something, in his tone and manner, 
not resentful, but as though he pitied her for her choice, which 
annoyed her exceedingly. 

This feeling was in no way reciprocated ; it was impossible 
for Margaret to ruffle Frank Dennis, but he rarely came to 
Norfolk Street now, unless by special invitation. It had been 
proposed by Mr. Erin that they should all four go to Vauxhall 
together upon a certain evening a very unusual dissipation, for 
except the theatre, of which when Shakespeare was acted (which 
in those days was very frequently) he was a pretty constant 
patron, the antiquary had no love for places of amusement but 
Frank Dennis had declined to accompany them. He professed 
to have a previous engagement, which, as he went out very little, 
seemed improbable ; indeed, it was understood by the others that 
he did not wish to go. This was a cause of sincere regret to 
them, not excluding William Henry, for if Dennis had come he 
would have paired off with Mr. Erin and left Margaret to himself. 
The expedition, however, was looked forward to with pleasure by 
both the young people even as it was: it had the charm of 
novelty for them, for William Henry was almost as great a 
stranger to what had now begun to be called ' life ' in London as 
his cousin. The little trip to the place by water was itself delight- 
ful, while the Gardens, with the coloured lamps and music and 
gaily dressed company, seemed to them like a dream of Paradise. 

Mr. Samuel Erin was not indeed a very good cicerone to 
such a spot, to folks of their age ; though he would have been 
invaluable to some distinguished foreigner with a thirst for infor- 
mation. He reminded them (or rather informed them, for they 
knew very little about it) how for more than a century the place 
had been the resort of all the wit and rank and gallantry of the 
town ; how Addison had taken Sir Eoger de Coverley there, and 
Goldsmith the Chinese philosopher and Swift had gone in person 
to hear the nightingale ; and how much more attractive it was 
than its rival Eanelagh, of which, nevertheless, as Walpole 
humorously writes, Lord Chesterfield was so fond that he 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 



433 



ordered all his letters to be directed thither. It was with diffi- 
culty the old gentleman was persuaded not to take them away 
from the radiant scene to a neighbouring street to see the 
lodgings where the poet Philips had breathed his last ; and, by 




way of reprisal for their preference for such gauds and tinsel, he 
quoted to them (after Dr. Johnson) Xerxes' remark about his 
army, that it was sad to think that of all that brilliant crowd not 

dred yeMS hence ' The 

a time to 



434 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

and these literary reminiscences, and much more these didactic 
reflections, were felt by the young people to be a good deal out 
of place. If Mr. Erin could have been induced to visit the 
lodgings of Mr. Philips by himself, or to meditate on the Future 
alone, and in the Maze, then indeed they would have applauded 
him, but as it was, his company was a trifle triste. 

They were presently relieved from it, however, in a wholly 
unexpected manner. They had explored the walks, promenaded 
the ' area,' and listened to the band to their hearts' content, and 
had just sat down in one of the arbours to a modest supper, when 
who should pass by, with his hat on one side and an air of 
studied indifference to the commonplace allurements around him, 
but Mr. Keginald Talbot. His few weeks' residence in London 
had effected a revolution in him, which nevertheless could 
scarcely be called a reform : from an inhabitant of Connemara, or 
some other out-of-the-way spot, he had become a citizen of the 
world ; but the dissipations of the town had not improved his 
appearance. His face, though still full, had lost its colour, and 
he had a lack-lustre look which so ably seconded his attempts at 
languor that it almost rendered him idiotic. 

William Henry drew involuntarily back in the box to avoid 
recognition, but Mr. Talbot's eye, roving everywhere, though 
with a somewhat fish-like expression, in search of female beauty, 
had already been attracted by Margaret's pretty face. He did 
not quite recognise it, probably owing to the doubtful aid he 
derived from his spyglass, but it was evident that he was 
struggling with a reminiscence. 

'Why, surely that is our young friend Talbot, is it not, 
Samuel ? ' exclaimed Mr. Erin with effusion ; and he held out his 
hand to the young man at once, not because he was glad to see 
him, far from it, but because he thought he was making a Mend 
of his son welcome. 

William Henry, however, was well convinced that Talbot was 
no longer his friend, a circumstance that had not hitherto dis- 
tressed him. Indeed, he had by no means regretted their little 
tiff, since it had been the means of keeping Talbot away from 
Norfolk Street ; but now that they had met again he had reasons 
for wishing that they had not quarrelled. The very cordiality 
with which the other addressed him aroused his apprehensions, 
for he knew that it was feigned; he would much rather indeed 
have seen him, as on the occasion when he had last met her, make 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 435 

advances to Margaret herself. Of her he was sure ; no dandy, 
whether metropolitan or provincial, could, he knew, ever rival 
him in her affections ; but this fellow, smarting from the slight 
that had been put upon his muse, might injure him in other ways. 
He knew from experience Mr. Keginald Talbot was capable of 
being what at school was termed ' nasty,' i.e. malignant. It has 
been said of the great. Marlborough that whenever he permitted 
himself a noble phrase it was a sure sign that he was about to 
commit a baseness ; and similarly, the fact of Mr. Talbot's being 
upon his best behaviour was a symptom dangerous to his friends. 
On the present occasion he was studiously genteel. 

His manner to Margaret very different from that he generally 
adopted towards the fair sex was distantly polite, while to Mr. 
Samuel Erin he was respectful to servility. What especially marked 
the abnormal condition of his mind, and showed his feelings to be 
under severe restraint, was that he never alluded to his own 
poetical genius. In speaking to William Henry the subject 
might well indeed have been avoided as a painful one ; but that 
he should exercise this reticence with respect to the antiquary 
to whom on a previous occasion it will be remembered he had 
mentioned within the first five minutes that he was ' a man of 
letters' was something portentous. He did not indeed talk 
much, but he did what was a thousand times more difficult to 
him he held his tongue and listened. 

This circumstance, joined to his demure behaviour, caused Mr. 
Samuel Erin to take a much more favourable view of his son's 
friend than that he had originally entertained, and, finding him 
deeply interested in the country of his birth and in its early 
history, related to him at considerable length the story of the 
disruption of the Knight Templars, and the escape of the survivors 
to Ireland, of which he happened to have an account in black 
letter, which he hoped, as he said, at no distant date to have the 
pleasure of showing Mr. Talbot under his own roof. This naturally 
led on to some conversation respecting the labours of Mr. Erin in 
the Shakespearean field, concerning which the young man paid 
him several compliments, wherein what was wanted in appropriate- 
ness (for the young gentleman laboured under the disadvantage of 
knowing nothing whatever of the subject) was more than compen- 
sated for by their impassioned warmth. Then by an easy gradation 
they fell to talking on the new-found manuscripts. It amazed Mr. 
Erin to find that Talbot had not yet seen the Confession of Faith. 

202 



436 THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 

6 1 have been out of town, sir,' he replied, for falsehood to this 
son of Erin was as natural as mother's milk, and laid on like 
water, on the perpetual supply system, 'and have not had the 
opportunity of seeing it, though, as you may well imagine, I have 
heard of little else. And that reminds me that I have a favour 
to ask of you. There is an old friend of mine, or rather of my 
late father's, Mr. Albany Wallis ' 

Mr. Erin frowned. ' I have heard of the gentleman,' he put 
in stiffly, 6 and in a sense I know him.' 

'I trust you know nothing to his disadvantage, sir,' said 
Talbot with humility. * I can only say that he has always spoken 
to me of yourself, and of your extraordinary erudition and attain- 
ments, with the greatest regard and consideration.' 

' Indeed,' returned the other, still drily, but with some relaxa- 
tion of stiffness in his tone, ' I am only acquainted with Mr. Wallis 
myself by hearsay ; and judging him by the company he keeps 
for he is known to be a friend of one Malone, of whom in Christian 
charity I will say no more than that he is a fellow whose shallow 
pretence and pompous ignorance would disgrace the name of 
charlatan I have certainly hitherto had but a bad opinion of him.' 

' Of that, sir, he is aware,' said Talbot, ' and it troubles him 
just now exceedingly. The sense of your ill-will has prevented 
him, although a near neighbour, from calling in Norfolk Street ; 
and knowing that I was a friend of your son's he has earnestly 
entreated me, in case I had the opportunity, to beg permission 
for him to pay you a visit.' 

' From twelve to one, sir, the Shakespearean manuscripts are 
open to the inspection of all comers,' said Mr. Erin, with a grand 
air. ' We invite investigation, and even criticism.' 

'Any time, of course, you choose to appoint will suit my 
friend,' said Talbot; 'but, as he led me to understand, he has a 
matter of importance connected with the manuscripts to commu- 
nicate to you, and somewhat of a private nature.' 

' Then let him come to-morrow evening, when we shall be alone. 
Perhaps he would like to see William Henry.' 

' I think he would, sir,' returned Talbot, and as he spoke he 
put his hand up to his mouth to conceal a demoniacal grin such as 
one sees on a gargoyle carved by the piety of some monkish archi- 
tect. ' I'll bring him to-morrow.' 

During all this time William Henry and Margaret, in the 
opposite corner of the arbour, had carried on a smothered con- 



THE TALK OF THE TOWN. 437 

versation with one another on quite a different subject, or rather, 
as the manner of young people is under similar circumstances, on 
no subject at all. It was enough to them that their hands met 
under the table and their hearts met under the rose. The scene 
they looked upon was not more bright than their hopes, nor the 
music they listened to more in tune than their tender fancies. 
When Mr. Erin pulled out his watch and pronounced it time to 
set out for home, it seemed to them that they had only just 
arrived. As for Mr. Keginald Talbot, for the last hour or so they 
had been totally unconscious of his presence ; but when he took 
his leave of them, which he did with much politeness, there was 
something of suppressed triumph in his voice that aroused 
William Henry's suspicions. A shudder involuntarily seized him ; 
he felt like a merrymaker at a festival who suddenly looks up into 
the sky, and perceives, instead of sunshine, ' the ragged rims of 
thunder brooding low.' 



CHAPTER XVI. 

A BOMBSHELL. 

IT was significant of the sensitiveness of Mr. Erin's feelings in 
regard to his new-found treasures, though it by^no means indicated 
any want of soundness in his faith, that he ignored as much as 
possible all attac