Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

as

[ocr errors]

THE MEANING OF UNDINE.

Fouqué, whose writings are now so widely read, so “The meaning of Undine!" We fancy we can see

generally admired, and (we beg the public's pardon) so the air of scornful disgust where with some readers will only at the outsides of things ? receiving them in their

little understood among us? Was he a man who looked close the book when this obnoxious title meets their external bearings into his mind, and reproducing them eyes. It is strange with what a natural antipathy to in like manner in his art ? sometimes hitting by accithe allegorical some persons are born; it is unto them dent upon a truth, resident in the eternal form, and,

a gaping pig, or a harmless, necessary cat;" they indeed, inalienable from it; but scarcely perceived, and scent it at the distance of miles, and close their doors by no means appreciated by him? Or was he not rather hastily, lest their thresholds should be polluted by its received as it is spoken, in reverence !) in some sense a

in very deed a poet,—that is to say, (be the word passage. They resist its interpretations as a species of priest of the Invisible ; --a man on whose soul a charge torture, a peine forte et dure inflicted upon helpless has been laid, in whose heart a word has been spoken, authors by inquisitorial critics, constraining them at and who must needs acquit himself of that charge, and length, however innocent, to confess themselves guilty give utterance to that message as he best could, at all of the meaning imputed to them. And truly, when hazards ? For this is the true definition of the poet, we recall the afflicting exercises of senseless ingenuity though few, very few, attain, or even approach to maswhich have annoyed this country under the name of tery over their mysterious gift. For the most part they allegory and allegorical interpretation, we cannot be labour and tremble beneath the burthen ; speaking, greatly surprised at the horror of a reader of ordinary half unconsciously, words which they scarcely apprehumanity when he encounters the word. We are a hend themselves; troubled, dubious, wondering; often people whose nature it is to speak plainly; we deal not absolutely powerless in practice, needing help, guidance, in hidden meanings; symbolism in its higher grades and counsel at every moment; but enabled by a most and finer texture is a mystery we care not to penetrate. inexplicable law to shed that light on others which Our literature, when it does venture to commit an their own darkened and wandering steps need, and allegory, generally works it out in a practical, business- cannot find, and grateful with a gratitude which no like manner, regularly personifying a certain number eloquence can express to those stronger minds on of qualities good and bad, carrying them steadily whom they are sometimes permitted to lean for a little through an appropriate series of evolutions, and while, and by whose aid they are enabled to give body setting them finally, with an unobjectionable moral, to to the vague and vivid ideas which are for ever floating live "happy ever afterwards," or miserable, as the case before them! Not of this stamp, however, was Fouqué. may be. The allegorical meaning, and the story which He had attained to that higher elevation at which thinly veils it, are thus kept comfortably distinct, and clouds and vapours are a spectacle beneath the feet, and the reader may occupy himself with either, as the not a difficulty in the path. He had, or believed that humour takes him, without being obtrusively annoyed he had, THE TRUTH within him,—distinct, tangible, imby the other. Thus, since the genius of our land seldom perative. How could he choose but give voice to it? assumes the garb, or, assuming it, wears it not easily, Yet, not as a preacher, observe ;-the difference is great it has come under the treatment of a lower class of and important. His vocation was to teach truth by minds, and fallen into disgrace among us. The inqui- means of beauty; not dogmatically, and as it is in sitive critic who hunts for a meaning and a message in itself. That beauty became his art, and the very elethe poetry of the day (in truth often a hopeless search!) ment of his life; but while sporting in it with the is reckoned, perhaps not unfairly, with the gossip of buoyancy of a child, while studying the picturesque daily life, who spends his time in attributing motives to and wooing the graceful with his whole heart,--these his neighbours which it never entered their heads to con- all became to him, and must become to us, if we would ceive,--and the judicious reader turns from his “fan- understand him rightly, symbolical ; — and were for tastic tricks" with contempt, and never admitting the ever converting themselves, sometimes, perlaps, even idea that the absurdities of the monkey counterfeit the to his own surprise, into vehicles for the message which dignity of the man, which is, when it can be found, it was given him to utter. It was not that, like coma real, genuine dignity, takes to himself the coinmon mon allegory-manufacturers, he wanted to teach one and most attainable comfort of looking down upon that particular doctrine, and set himself to make an allegcry which he cannot understand. lle forgets that the io fit it; but that his soul was thrilling and quivering heaven which seems to him to lie beneath his feet, is as with intense convictions, and that the romance, the much heaven-impenetrable, unattainable, incompre- fairy tale, the chiralrous adventure, beautiful as they hensible heaven--as that which stretches visibly above were in themselves, and complete and independent. his head. Noonday we can understand ; and there is were but as shadows and garments of the sublimity of no mistake about ihe darkness of midnight; but for Truth. If this view of him be correct, two conclusions the pale, shadow-haunted twilight, where the seen is must at once be admitted. First, that it would be for ever passing into the unseen, where the distance is absurd to expect to find in “Undine” a kind of " Pilthronged with phantoms, and the air voluble with grim's Progress," where every particle has its distinct sounds that are as the voice of a spirit, speaking to us and unmistakeable office, right or wrong, in the workin no articulate language, yet awakening thoughts by ing out of the intention of the writer ; secondly, that it every note of its low music, we have neither eyes nor would be equally absurd (and this is speaking mildly) ears; yet in this strange cloud-land do the Germans to consider it as a mere fairy-tale, valuable only for its live, move, and have their being. We say not that in exquisite originality, and the ethereal beauty of its this they are better off than ourselves; we pronounce conceptions,—destitute of deeper meaning, and a higher no sentence whatever upon the matter; but admitting aim. This would be simply impossible to such a man the fact, (and we believe that, whether in scorn or in as we have attempted to describe Fouqué. Without, love, the fact will generally be admitted,) we ask the therefore, distorting or desecrating this loveliest of candid reader whether there be any hope of his forming fictions, we may allowably look for a living soul to ania just estimate of the scenery of the spiritual region, if mate the movements of its matchless form. We may he persists in denying that such a region exists? expect to find that its general outline is symbolical, whether, in short, it is a fair mode of proceeding, to and in many of its minuter touches we may hope to make up your mind in your closet that the Germans discover a significance, real and not to be disputed, bat shall speak English, and then go out into the street appreciable only by the loving student. And it is only and quarrel with the first Deutschlander you meet to the loving student that these pages are addressed. because he accosts you with a polite “Guten morgen?' Him we fearlessly invite to endeavour with us so to tune

For, let us consider a little. Who, and what, is this his heart in accordance with the heart of the great

:

minstrel, that the notes of this delicious harmony may What befalls him ? how does the insulted divinity not speak to thankless silence, but may awaken an avenge herself? We shall see. He withdraws for a echo and an answer, feeble, indeed, but still in unison while from the world, and begins his study in earnest. with themselves.

The act is good, be the motive what it may, and the Far be it from us to attempt anything so rash as a fruits are immediately apparent. The light, scoffing, sketch of the great temple which Truth had reared for satisfied spirit which has hitherto lived only in the herself in the mind of Fouqué. Our business is with present and the visible, wakes up in a moment to a one little cool and solemn chapel, with its delicate perception of the mystery of life, and the wonders of sculptures, and mellow many tinted light; bearing, the world. A finer nature would be appalled and saddoubtless, its relation to the whole fabric, and echoing, dened-a higher temper would be transformed and ever and anon, the choral harmony which swells along inspired; he is neither the one nor the other. In the distant nave; and rich in ornaments, whose mean- pride, not in humility, he began his task, and in the ing can be but dimly perceived by one who knows not samespirit he continues,--puzzled, bewildered, it is true, thesymbolism of the entire structure;—but still exquisite nay, sometimes well-nigh frightened, but still in nowise and perfect in itself, and capable of being considered discouraged. He falls under the scourge of superstition separately and for itself. We shall pre-suppose a know-fit punisher of unbelief: a thousand grotesque and ledge of the story of Undine in our readers, which will mocking forms crowd around him; a thousand inconenable them to follow us through the few remarks which sistencies, inexplicable but real, torment him. Evil in we are about to offer; and, ere we begin, we would once her myriad shapes, from the terrible to the disgusting, more earnestly entreat them not to object to us the very the mean, or the simply ludicrous, besets him on every fact on which our whole theory of the German genius hand, and he has no key to her riddles-no defence rests-namely, that there are scenes and parts of scenes against her attacks. He cannot escape from her by which cannot be fitted into one plan, and that the returning--he cannot become what he was; he has various characters frequently talk and act inconsistently plunged into the dark forest, and he must needs go onwith the principles which we suppose that they are ward, till he arrives at light of some sort, whether true intended to embody. The personality wherewith or illusory ;-he has once discovered that the world is Fouqué invests his ideas is a real living personality, not made up of money, food, and clothing, and there is not an unsubstantial vapour-his story is framed artist- no rest for him till he has found out, or fancies that he ically as a story—but the prophet-voices from time to has found out, of what it is really made. time, speak through it, and to these we are about to He takes refuge in the religion of nature, and the listen. We protest vehemently against that captious simplicity of country life. (Now, pray, reader, do not and flimsy judgment, which, when you assert that the imagine that the dear old fisherman and his wife are child is like its mother, shall answer you by pointing purely allegorical ; they have a meaning, it is true, in out a difference in the curve of the nostril, or the line the history of this mind, whose perplexed wanderings of the eyebrow, as though resemblance could not exist we are trying to unravel. But they are in themselves unless every line and feature were strictly copied—as genuine and substantial-simple, untaught, but kindly though, indeed, it did not really exist rather in ex- characters, with whose doings and sayings we may fairly pression, gesture, and character, than in bones and delight ourselves, without straining our eyes to discover muscles.

in them a mystical double sense which we shall often Nevertheless, we are afraid. Were we to tell the have to invent for ourselves before we can pretend to patient reader who has followed us thus far, what the detect it.), For a little while the wandering Huldbrand lesson is which we believe that Undine teaches, we

believes that he has found rest; and truly, the merest assuredly think that he would follow us no farther. We glimmer of natural religion falling upon the heart, is a will defer it therefore—we will not announce it at the relief from the dark, dreary, practical scepticism of the beginning, but will rather lead to it through the pro

worldling. For the image of God is everywhere, gress of the tale, buoying ourselves up with the fallacious though, alas ! defaced and disguised, and it is, if we hope that some one or two may perhaps then anticipate mistake not, one of the offices of grace to discern that us, and utter of themselves the words which we have glorious image in all things, and release it from the not courage to speak.

fetters of sin and garments of falsehood wherewith In Huldbrand then, the character for whose especial | Satan bas been permitted to encumber it. Therefore, benefit the story appears to have been constructed, for to the mere lover of nature, for her own sake, a path is whose happiness or misery the other personages seem to open, if he would but see-a guide ready if he would have been called into existence, we have at starting a

but follow. Upon this path Huldbrand is beginning to mind of great capacities and generous feelings, but enter, and the first vision which he encounters there is utterly undisciplined, moulded and sullied by the world Beauty--the most eloquent of all the voices wherewith to which it has abandoned itself; without faith, and God has gifted the earth, that it may utter his praises. unconscious of the miserable want. This man knows But he has now less chance of rest than ever. The benothing of the reality of lifc-he has hitherto done witching phantom beckons him a thousand ways, and nothing in earnest-he has existed among stage lights eludes his grasp at every turn, now mocking, now coaxand painted pasteboard, and he cares not even to contrast ing, for ever attracting, and for ever unintelligible. He them with the holy moonbeams and majestic forests is enamoured of the form, but for him it has no soul; whereof they are the ineffectual mimicry. He lives in he knows not whence it is; he can discover no rule, and willing and perpetual subjection to the pride of In- obtain no guidance, but he is subjected to an irresistible tellect, and the frivolous enjoyments of the world, fascination, and he knows not whether it is for good or (symbolized as we believe by Bertalda,) and he has not, evil. In the system of an undisciplined mind Beauty as yet, made one effort to escape from them-nay rather has neither place, office, nor purpose, but is simply an he deifies them, and considers them the only good. influence to which he submits for the sake of the pleaSuddenly, for the first time, he awakens to a desire after sure which it bestows upon him ; nevertheless this Truth, and begins to seek for it. Not indeed as a peni- Beauty is of a very different class from that of his tent, striving humbly, tearfully, and laboriously to former enjoyments—they were sensual, she is spiritual, return, if it may be, to the bosom of a scorned and for- and the more incomprehensible for that very reasonsaken mother, but gaily, and in a spirit of bravado. he cannot recall them while communing with her, little He has been piqued into making the effort, and he as he is able to understand her, without a sharp and undertakes it without a doubt of victory. Like the sudden pang, telling him that he must not have both French girl in the memoirs of Madame de Stael, he can together. talk very well of other things, and he will now talk a Strange and mysterious is this soulless shape of little of religion.

Beauty to him. He cannot follow her movements, or

guess at her designs: she seems to him wayward and graceful lawlessness, may sometimes be more captivatlawless as she is lovely, and when she is loveliest in out- ing than the same Undine when the burden of a soul ward aspect, he is least able to guess what manner of causes her to tremble, to walk warily and softly, and to spirit she may be of. Strange is it ever, when the hide her exuberant fancies under the mantle of a holy eternal form is the subject of our contemplation, while reserve; but, though this be true and natural, no one the spirit which evolved it has passed away, and is undis- will contend that it is right. It is an illustration of coverable. We are reminded of the sentence fearlessly the same law which operates in actual life, making the passed, not many years since, upon the grandest of all frank, light, joyous character, which neither seeks nor the shapes which the true spirit of beauty has ever needs concealment of its emotions, so attractive--the assumed on earth-gothic architecture. That, too, was quiet, withdrawing, sensitive temper which lacks the a form, from which the soul, alas ! was absent, and power and the will to express its secret enthusiasm, so therefore, the men who gazed upon it could discover repulsive, even to a refined and penetrating observer. neither rule whereby to judge, nor principle wherefrom But, nevertheless, Undine and Huldbrand have found to deduce it. They were oppressed by its vastness- their home and their rest together, and “whom God they were offended at its mystery: if the idea was hath joined, let no man put asunder.” grand, said they, the details were grotesque, meaning. And here the tale might end: but does it end here? less, unpardonable; so they rejected the testimony of Not so! The lesson is yet to come; the wonderful their senses, and decided that it was nought.

truth and beauty of the conception are yet to be vinAnd it is at this epoch of a man's mental history dicated. Smooth and easy indeed would be the passage that he is in danger of falling into the spirit of the Puri- from darkness to light, were it such as has been here tans. Angry with this perverse and unintelligible Beauty, described. But we are to be taught that the soul which he is tempted to ask with the old fisherman, “whether has forsaken truth, and lived among vain shows, and she has really been baptized or not ?" whether she be delighted in false and sensual pleasures, finds not Beauty not in fact a fair ambassador from the Evil One?-and as the appointed angel to lead it softly back to the old then he flings her away altogether, and sets himself to path, but must rather seek that way, if haply it may be lead a dreary, miserable half-life without her, which found, in toil, and tears, and penitence. Beauty is no would be simply pitiable if it were not the result of guide to truth, except for the comparatively innocent: pride and impatience. There was no such danger for she opens not the gate of the temple, but stands within, Huldbrand, though his safeguard lay in his weakness, ready to bless the faithful and fervent worshipper. The rather than in his strength. He was not sufficiently in faith which Huldbrand has obtained is indeed pure and love with Truth to make a sacrifice in the hope of lovely, but powerless to influence his conduct; a sweet obtaining her; on the contrary, had he made that melancholy voice, full of loving reproof, for ever unhappy, but common mistake of supposing himself whispering in his ear,—but the whisper is unheeded, called on to decide between Beauty and Truth, (oh, and the voice grows fainter and more mournful, till it most unnatural divorcement !) he would assuredly have dies into a silence yet more reproachsul than its words. forsaken the latter, that he might cleave to the former. This is an “æsthetic religion,” living in the imagination Therefore, he continued to woo, and to chase the en- and the intellect, not in the heart and the life. Pure, chanting vision without attempting to understand her, spiritual vision of beauty! How camest thou to be without advancing to grasp her, till there came a wedded to this earthly and trivial soul? Alas, for thee! change,--and here we will begin a new paragraph, and Thou must needs droop and fade, speaking only a few counsel our readers in all charity to part company with times through the conscience which thou hast awakened, us here, unless they be men of mettie, for we intend to withdrawing thyself further and further from an inter: go very deep indeed before we have done.

course in which every word is a wound, and departing Let us for a moment, refer to the story itself, which at last, wronged, helpless, and weary-departing, not in the reader's mind has, we trust, kept pace with our to return till thou shalt be songht for aright! observations. Huldbrand has achieved a certain mastery Our space will not allow us to follow out the idea over the wilful and captivating Undine, without even (or what we believe to be the idea) of this latter half of approaching to a right comprehension of her. The old the story, into its minuter expressions. If the reader man and his wife, who, in so far as they influence the accept our key, he can use it for himself, and we think mind of Huldbrand, may, perhaps, symbolize nature that he will wonder not a little to find how exactly it and prejudice, are as little able to manage her as he fits, and how many are the treasures which it is able to is; they are perpetually in trouble about her, endea unlock. A few only of these can we indicate ere we vouring to restrain her,-indignant at her frolics, yet conclude. perpetually returning to love her by an impulse which llow pathetic is the haste with which Fouqué passes they cannot explain. There is a great storin. All the over the wrongs of Undine, omitting the details as if elements are in commotion, they cannot agree with each too painful to be dwelt upon-lingering upon the other, or with mankind. Suddenly, there is a low feeling which they awaken, in sentences of which every knock at the door,-it is opened, and “they behold an word is pregnant with exquisite meaning. The fickle aged priest."

Huldbrand goes quickly back to his old love, and his The seeker encounters for the first time the Idea of old life, carrying with him the bride whom he wooed the Church of Christ,-of the only system wherein and won so strangely, but whose presence, lovely as she Truth is able to reside without parting with some of her is, becomes gradually a burden and a reproach. He lustre; of the only power which conquers all things, not yields once more to the blandishments of Bertalda,—the by crushing and annihilating, but by subduing and pride of life and of intellect, the gross and earthly part transforming them. What follows ? The place and of his nature resumes its sway, the pure and imaginative rule of Beauty is at once found-her form receives a part is shunned and resisted. Huldbrand and Bersoul, and her union with the soul of man is sanctified. talda,” say Fouqué,“ were afraid of the gentle Undine, Huldbrand may clasp her fearlessly to his heart; she is and ashamed before her !” We need not do more than now his guardian angel, pure, placid, lofty, and sub- point to the application. But they are not at rest in missive; not mocking him by her caprices, but rather their sin, so long as that fair and speechless vision soothing and ennobling him by her constancy: not dis- stands beside them; strange fears and spectral thoughts daining the details, and shunning the trials of daily encounter them at every turning,-“ such," observes life; but rather leading him among them, and soften- Fouqué, “ as they nad never seen before!”. How indeed ing them into harmony with herself, as even the hard should they have seen them before? We know not the substantial rock grows transparent in the purple light hideousness of sin till we have begun to see, however of sunset. It is true that, for the wayward heart of dimly, the beauty of holiness. The sad history of man, the soulless Undine, with her sweet petulances and degradation proceeds; lower and lower does the unhappy

[ocr errors]

Huldbrand sink, till Undine herself closes the stream, | allowed to use any violent exercise, that driving would and sets her seal upon it. Strange and most mysterious be an amusement to him, had taken the opportunity of state, where the feeble remnant of good within a man replacing them by a magnificent pair of young nearly leads him to flee from privileges which he knows that thorough-bred chestnuts; and these were the steeds now he shall abuse, and so convert into judgments! Ber- entrusted to my guidance. Not being anxious, howtalda resists this; the pride of intellect is not content ever, to emulate the fate of the unfortunate Muffington to be divorced from faith and imagination ; she sees not, Spoffkins, I held them well in hand for the first three in her blind self-confidence, that they contain that or four miles, and as they became used to their work, which will destroy her, but strives to use them as gradually allowed them to quicken their pace, till we servants, and convert them to her own purposes, and were bowling along merrily at the rate of ten miles an fails, as she ever must fail, in so unhallowed an effort. hour. After this, however, the guilty pair are, for a time, A drive of about an hour and a quarter brought me happier; one step more has been taken in the hardening within sight of the little roadside public-house appointed of the heart, which seems not far from its final and for my rendezvous with Lawless. As I drew sufficiently hopeless induration. How shall we interpret Undine's near to distinguish figures, I perceived the gentleman piteous entreaty," that he will not chide her upon the in question scientifically and picturesquely attired in water?" What is that last little safeguard, which, what might with great propriety be termed no end of a when withdrawn, leaves the sinner to pursue his course shooting jacket, inasmuch as its waist, being prolonged unchecked by warning, untroubled by remorse? May to a strange and unaccountable extent, had, as a necesit not, perhaps, signify reverence,--that instinctive sary consequence, invaded the region of the skirt to a shame of the soul in the presence of truth, which has degree which reduced that appendage to the most in it the germ of repentance and the hope of restoration ? absurd and infinitesimal proportions. This wonderful However this may be, the final offence is committed - garment was composed of a fabric which Freddy Colethe cup is full--and the guardian angel departs ! man, when he made its acquaintance some few days Undine leaves the faithless Huldbrand, with love and later, denominated the Mac Omnibus plaid, a gaudy grief in her last farewell.

repertoire of colours embracing all the tints of the rain. The loud, uneasy revel of guilt succeeds; and on bow, and a few more besides, and was further embelthis we need not dwell. Neither shall we attempt to lished by a plentiful supply of gent's sporting buttons, describe in words the awful beauty of the conclusion, which latter articles were not quite so large as cheesewhen the rash Bertalda causes the stone to be removed - plates, and represented in bas-relief a series of moving when some sin more atrocious, some profaneness more incidents by flood and field. His nether man exhibited glaring, than the habitual sins and profanenesses of the a complicated arrangement of corduroys, leather gaisoul, startles the conscience into activity—and Undine ters, and waterproof boots, which were, of course, wet returns; returns in her beauty, her sadness, and her through; while, to crown the whole, his head was holiness; returns in her love, to slay the penitent by adorned with one of those round felt hats which exactly tears ! . So only could they be reunited, so only can we resemble a boiled apple pudding, and are known by the arimit a trembling hope for the miserable Huldbrand. sobriquet of “wide-awakes," “ cos they av'n't got no nap But the subject is too solemn to be dwelt on here, or about 'em." A stout shooting pony was standing at by us.

the door of the ale-house, with a pair of panniers, conIn conclusion we would say one word upon a part of taining a portinanteau and a gun-case, slung across its the story which seems to us deeply significant, but the back, upon which was seated in triumph the mighty interpretation of which we offer with some doubt-the Shrimp, who seemed to possess the singular property of origin of Undine, and that of Bertalda. Yet surely it growing older, and nothing else ; for, as well as one can scarcely be accidental, that Bertaida, whom we have could judge by appearances, he had not increased an supposed to typify the human part of man's soul, the inch in stature since the first day of our acquaintance. intellect and passions, is born of nature, and has her His attitude, as I drove up, was one which Hunt would natural home upon earth, while the origin of Undine, have delighted in perpetuating. Perched on a kind of the pure, the spiritual, the imaginative, is wrapped in pack-saddle, his legs stretched so widely apart, by mystery. She is no natural product of the heart of reason of the stout proportions of the pony, as to be man; she is a gift and a revelation, and she is born of nearly at right angles with his upper man, he held water !

aloft (not a “snowy scarf” but) a pewter pot nearly as And now, reader, if you be weary and indignant, we large as himself, the contents of which he was transferbeseech you to call to mind that couplet of Burns - ring to his own throat with an air of relish and savoir“ What's done ye partly may compute,

faire, which would have done credit to a seven-feetBut know not what's resisted!"

high coalheaver. The group was completed by a gameFor every conjectural interpretation of our author's keeper, who, seated on a low wooden bench, was dividmeaning wherein we have indulged ourselves, we might ing some bread and cheese with a magnificent black easily have presented you with ten, and, when you con

retriever. template the alternative, we think you will, on the exclamation, as I drove up. “Now, that's what I call

" By Jove ! what splendid steppers !" was Lawless's whole, be disposed to regard us with gratitude.

S.M.

perfect action; high enough to look well, without battering the feet to pieces—the leg a little arched, and

thrown out boldly-no fear of their putting down their FRANK FAIRLEGH;

pins in the same place they pick them up from. Ah !"

he continued, for the first time observing me, “FairOR, OLD COMPANIONS IN NEW SCENES.

legh, how are you, old fellow? Slap up cattle you've

got there, and no mistake-belong to Sir John OakCHAP. XII.

lands, I suppose. Do you happen to know where he LAWLESS'S YATINEE MUSICALE.

got hold of them ?" I SCARCELY know any excitement more agrecable than

“Harry wanted a pair of phaeton horses, and the driving, on fine cold day, a pair of spirited horses, coachman recommended these," replied I; “but I've no which demand the exercise of all one's coolness and idea where he heard of them." skill to keep their fiery natures under proper control.

“Rising five and six," continued Lawless, examining Some accident had happened to one of Sir John's old their mouths with deep interest; “no do there--the phacton horses, and Harry, who fancied, as he was not

tush well up in one, and nicely through in the other,

and the mark in the nippers just as it should be to (O) Continued from p. 279.

correspond : own brothers I'll bet 1001.--good full eyes,

a

66

small heads well set on, slanting shoulders, legs as got quite black in the face, and I rang the bell and clean as a colt's-feet are a leetle small, but that's the swore he was in an apoplexy, but the servant seemed breed—whereabouts was the figure, did you hear ?-five used to the sort of thing, and brought him a jug o fifties never bought them, unless they were as cheap as beer, which resuscitated him. Well, to return to my dirt, eh?"

mutton, as the Mounseers have it—the very day I in. "That was about their price, if I remember correctly," tended to leave Cambridge, Shrimp came in while I was replied I. · Harry thought it was too much to give, breakfasting, with a great coarse-looking letterin his hand. but Sir John, the moment he saw his son would like to * Please, Sir, Mr. Pigskin has called with his little have them, wrote the cheque, and paid for them on the account, and would be very glad if you would let him spot."

have the money.' Well, I'll give him all the money any day, if he's Pleasant, thinks I. 'Here, boy, let's have a look at tired of his bargain,” rejoined Lawless, “but we won't this precious little account-hum ! ha! hunting saddle, keep them standing now they're warm-here, Shrimp, gag-bit for Lamplighter, head-piece and reins to ditto, my great coat-get off that pony this instant, you luxu- racing saddle for chestnut mare,' &c., &c., &c.; a horrid rious youing vagabond. Never saw such a boy in my affair as long as my arm-total, 961. 188. 2d.; and the life to ride as that is—if there is any thing that can by blackguard had charged every thing half as much again possibility carry him, not a step will he stir on foot- as he had told me when I ordered it. Still I thought doesn't believe legs were meant to walk with, it's my I'd pay the fellow, and have done with him, if I had got opinion-why, this very morning, before they brought tin enough left; so I told Shrimp to show him into the out the shooting pony, he got on the retriever, and he rooms of a man who lived over me, but was away at the has such a seat too, that the dog could not throw him time, and there let him wait. Lo! and behold! when off, till Bassett thought of sending him into the water; I came to look about the tin, I found that, instead of he slipped off in double-quick time then, for he has had having ninety pounds at the banker's, I had overdrawn a regular hydrophobia upon him ever since his adven- my account some hundred pounds or more; so that payture in the horse-pond. What, not down yet? I shall ing was quite out of the question, and I was just going take a horse-whip to you, Sir, directly.”

to ring the bell, and beg Mr. Pigskin to call again in Thus admonished, Shrimp, who had taken advantage a day or two, by which time I should have been 'over of his master's pre-occupation to finish the contents of the hills and far away,' when Shrimp made his the pewter pot, tossed the utensil to the game-keeper, appearance. having previously attracted that individual's attention “Please Sir, there's ever so many more gents called by exclaiming in a tone of easy familiarity—“Look ont, ! for their money. There's Mr. Flanker, the whip-maker, Leggings,”--then, as the man, taken by surprise, and and Mr. Smokem, from the cigar shop, and Trotter, the having some difficulty in saving himself from a blow on boot-maker, and-yes, Sir, there's a young man from the nose, allowed the pot to slip through his hands, Mr. Tinsel, the jeweller; and, oh! a load more of 'em, Shrimp continued, “Catch it, clumsy! vell, I never- if you please, Sir!' now mind, if you've gone and bumped it, it's your own * This was agrecable, certainly ; what to be at I didn't doing, and you pays for dilapidations, as ve calls 'em at know, when suddenly a bright idea came across me. Cambridge. Coming, Sir-d'rec'ly, Sir--yes. Sir!". So What have you done with 'em ?' asked I. saying, he slipped down the pony's shoulder, shook « • Put 'em all into Mr. Skulker's rooms, Sir.' himself to set his dress in order as soon as he reached «• That's the ticket,' said I. Now, listen to me. terra firma, and unbuckling Lawless's driving coat, Look out, and see if there are any more coming ;- if which was fastened round his waist by a broad strap, there are, show 'em up to the others; take up a couple jumped upon a horse block, and held out the garment of bottles of wine and some glasses, and tell them I at arm's length for his master to put on.

The gun case

must beg them to wait a quarter of an hour or so before and carpet bag were then transferred from the pony to I shall be quite ready to settle with them, and as soon the phaeton, and resigning the reins to Lawless, who I as the room is full, come and tell me.' knew would be miserable unless he were allowed to "In about ten minutes Shrimp reported that he could drive, we started, Shrimp being installed in the hind not see any more coming, and that he thought all the seat, where, folding his arms, he leaned back, favouring gents I dealt with, was up-stairs.' us with a glance which seemed to say, “ you may pro- " That's the time of day!' exclaimed I, and taking ceed, I am quite comfortable.”

out the key of the room, which Skulker had left with " It was about time for me to take an affectionate me, in case I might like to put a friend to sleep there, farewell of Alma Mater," observed Lawless, after he had I slipped off my shoes, and creeping up-stairs as softly criticised and admired the horses afresh, and at such as possible, I locked the door. Now then, Shrimp, length that I could not help smiling at the fulfilment said I, 'run and fetch me some good stout screws and a of Oakland's prediction," it was about time for me screw-driver.' He was not long getting them, and in to be off, for the duns were becoming rather too particular less than five minutes I had them all screwed in as fast in their attentions. I was in a regular state of alarm the as if they had been in their coffins, for they were kickother day, I can tell you—I was fool enough to pay ing up such a row over their wine that they never heard two or three bills, and that gave the rest of the fellows me. Well, as soon as I had bagged my game, I set a notion that I was about to bolt, I suppose, for one Shrimp to work; we packed up the traps, and sent morning, I was regularly besieged by them. I taught them to the coach-office-found a coach about to start them a trick or two, though, before I had done with them: in half an hour, booked myself for the box, and then they won't forget me in a hurry, I expect."

strolled back to see how the caged birds were getting "Indeed! and how did you contrive to fix yourself on. By this time they had come to a sense of their so indelibly in their recollections?" asked I.

situation, and were hammering away, and swearing, "Eh ! 'though lost to sight to memory dear,'-rather and going on like troopers ; but all to no purpose, for that style of thing, you know. So you want to hear all the door was a famous strong one, and they had no about it, eh? well, it was a good lark, I must say; I means of breaking it open. Well, after I had had a was telling it to Bassett last night, and it nearly killed good laugh at the row they were making, I tapped at him. I don't know whether you've seen him lately, but the door, and discoorsed’ 'em, as Paddy calls it. I he's grown horridly fat. He has taken to keeping prize told them that I was so much shocked by the want of bullocks, and I think he has caught it of 'em ; rides six refinement and proper feeling and all that sort of thing teen stone if he rides a pound. I tell him he'll break which they had shown, in coming and besieging me as his neck some of these days, if he chooses to go on hunt- they had done, that I felt it was a duty I owed to society ing—the horses can't stand it. However, he went into at large, and to themselves in particular, to read them such fits of laughter, when I told him about it, that he la severe lesson ; therefore, on mature deliberation, I

[ocr errors]
« IndietroContinua »