POETRY ON TWELVE SHILLINGS A-WEEK.
countless "copies of verses" sent to The Argosy, there
reached us last month a few pages entitled "Fairy Revels."
These verses had a freshness as of early flowers; there was a happy
music in their rhyme, and their theme was so graceful and so gay
that it seemed as if they must be the production of some young poet,
with the spring-time working in his blood. Andyet it was no
"new poet" who had written "Fairy Revels," but, as we have since
learned, an old man who has borne the burden of half a century of
poverty and toil.
About thirteen years ago, when more than forty years of his
life had passed in labour which at no time yielded him more than
twelve shillings a-week, the passing of a stranger through a field
in which the poet was reaping brought about the first recognition of
his genius. Born before the days of National and British
Schools, a good mother taught him to read, and by dint of buying and
borrowing, principally the latter, he made acquaintance with the
English poets, and learnt the art of song. He says:—"I well
remember taking Shakspeare in sixpenny numbers when I was working
for seven shillings a-week, and had to maintain myself and pay for
lodgings, and even then I regretted not the loss of a day's work in
wet weather (scanty as my earnings were) if I could spend it in
reading. I have sat up many nights reading Milton when others
have been sleeping, and passed many, many hours with Shakspeare when
perhaps I should have been otherwise employed. And thus my
youth passed away, with but few enjoyments in the estimation of
those around me, whose company I shunned, preferring the solitary
walk in fields or lanes to the noise and laughter of the
streets,—calm communion with silent nature to the mad excitement of
intoxication,—and the lay of the nightingale to the song of the
drunkard. In all my lonely musings I had bread to eat that
they knew not of: from a boy I loved the trees and flowers, woods
and waters, and have conversed more with them than with men. I
loved all that was beautiful in nature; and, if I cannot express
myself as a poet, I have always felt as one."
Of his power of expression the reader may judge for himself.
FAIRY REVELS : A FRAGMENT.
Now the full moon climbs the sky,
And hinds in heavy slumber lie;
The bleating sheep are penned at rest,
Their fleeces on the daisies press'd;
Ands all around is hush'd and still,
Except the tinkling of the rill,
And songs of wakeful nightingales
Floating o'er the dewy vales.
Now is the time we fairies meet,
And dance our rounds with noiseless feet.
Hie thee! my attendant sprite,
To yonder mead with kingcups bright,
And bring me from the cowslip pale
A freckled flower, called a male.
There is music in that flower,
And children know its magic power,
For late I in a primrose lay,
Where a group had met to play;
One had pluck'd the wild white rose,
And wreathed her fair unwrinkled brows;
Another, round her flaxen head,
Wore bindweed blossoms, white and red;
A third had cull'd the light blue-bell,
And it became her beauty well;
Another's dark and glossy hair
Was intermixed with lilies fair;
And all were happy, all were gay,
Though mortal creatures form'd of clay.
How they laugh'd, and danced, and sang,
Till the answering echoes rang;
One, the merriest of them all,
Toss'd and caught a cowslip ball,
Till, warm and wearied, down she sank
In softest moss upon the bank;
And from that globe of fragrant flowers
She pluck'd a tube of wonderous powers,
And biting off its slender tip,
With swollen cheek and pouting lip,
She blew its trumpet sound so clear,
It charm'd and won my listening ear;
And much I wished that each could be
Always, as then, from sorrow free,
Exempt from suffering, care, and sin,
They seemed to us so near akin.
That flower shall now our trumpet be,
Sound it loudly, three times three.
Awake, awake, ye fairies all,
Come at the cowslip trumpet's call;
Come from the rose, where all day ye sleep,
Come from the banks where the wild vines
Come from the foxglove's painted cells,
Come from the lily's waxen bells,
Come from the tubes of the sweet woodbine,
Come from the leaves of the eglantine.
Awake, awake, ye fairies all,
Come at the cowslip trumpet's call.
Ye that couch in the gorse and broom,
Ye that hide in the clover's bloom,
Ye that peep from the pansy's hood,
Ye that shroud in the dark green wood,
On sycamores with honey wet,
Or willows by the rivulet,
Awake, ye elves and fairies all,
Come at the cowslip trumpet's call.
From the plaits of the daisy's frill,
From the folds of the daffodil,
From the May buds on the thorn,
From the larkspurs in the corn,
From the cockles white and red,
From the wild thyme's fragrant bed,
Awake, arise, ye fairies all,
Come at the cowslip trumpet's call.
Ye that in the tulips lie,
Rocking as the winds go by,
Ye that in the harebells swing,
Or to the sturdy orchis cling,
Ye that sleep in the leafy bowers,
Curtain'd by the lilac's flowers,
Hasten o'er the spangled green,
To the summons of your queen.
You my trusty guards attend,
And this sacred place defend.
Here is armour tried and true,
Helmets of the monkshood blue,
Lances keen and pointed spear
On the thistle standing near:
And for shields, my champions bold,
Daisy disks embossed with gold.
Whilst this mystic ring we dance
Let no noxious thing advance,
Newt, or toad, or beetle black,
Snail with castle on his back,
Bloated spider, sly and grim,
Earwig gaunt, or earthworm slim,
Slimy slug, or centipede,
Or caterpillar, ravenous breed.
Emmets pinched, and small green lice,
Mining moles, and pilfering mice,
Prowling, lurking, green-eyed cats,
Weasels fierce, and whisker'd rats,
Thorny hedgehog, scaly snake.
Hiding under fern and brake,
Chase them, keep them far away,
While we feast, and dance, and play.
Sweetly blow your breathing flutes,
Softly touch your tinkling lutes,
Mellow flutes from oaten sheaves,
Lutes of stringèd plantain leaves,
Clarionets of knotted reeds,
Kettledrums of poppy seeds;
Hand in hand the measure tread,
O'er the bending cowslip's head,
With springing toe and lightsome heel,
In and out in mazy reel;
Thus we sing, and dance, and play
Till the blushing dawn of day.
Come, the banquet now prepare;
Bring the viands rich and rare.
Here's a mushroom, white and round,
Peeping from the heaving ground—
Now I touch it with my wand,
See its swelling globe expand;
Now its stalk is shooting up,
Now it opes its pinky cup,—
This shall be our festive board,
Here shall sup our merry horde.
Here are kingcups, bright with gold,
Bowls of acorns, carved and old,
Tankards of primroses pale,
Stoups of lilies of the vale,
Nettle flagons, ivory white,
Chalices of silver bright,
That in shady thickets gleam,
Or shine like stars beside the stream,
Flasks of purple columbine,
Filled with liquor crystalline,
Whatsoe'r the wild bee sips
Is not gross for fairy lips.
Let the vessels all be fill'd
With pearly dew by night distill'd,
And honey wrung from sweetest flowers,
From hills and valleys woods and bowers,
Candied drops from bluebells deep
Tears the blue-eyed violets weep,
Aroma by roses shed,
Spices from the wild thyme's bed,
Ruddy drops from bleeding cherries,
Juices crush'd from swelling berries,
Nectar press'd from purple plums,
Pulp of peaches, amber gums,
Temper well and mix the whole
In our acorn wassail bowl.
Sit we now upon the grass,
Quaff the cup and let it pass;
Freely drink and do not fear,
No inebriate fumes are here.
Hark, I hear the booming chime
By which dull mortals measure time;
And the high ascending moon
Tells that night is at its noon.
Nor is there wanting in our peasant poet a keen sense of humour, as
In a garden nook, by a wide-spreading yew,
A stingy old Nettle and Dockweed once grew;
They were sipping the dew, and between you and me,
They mixed it with scandal as ladies do tea.
"I can't think, my dear Dock," the old Nettle began,
"Why the Rose has been always a favourite with man;
Her breath's very sweet, we all must allow it,
And true she has beauty, at least folks avow it,
But then she's so vain, she thinks all must adore her,
And that such as we ought to fall down before her.
Her greatest delight's, you may see by her eye,
To be fondled and kissed by each fop passing by;
And her dress is the oddest that ever was seen,
She wears throughout July a moss victorine!"
"Whilst little Miss Snowdrop," replied Madam Dock,
"Comes out in the frost in a white muslin frock;
And though she's so modest, and hangs down her head,
Young Crocus and she were caught both in one bed.
And that little minx too, so sickly and pale,
You know who I mean, dear, Miss Lill of the Vale,
So shy and retired, all her company shun,
So modest and humble you'd think her a nun;
Yet her I once saw, and it augured no good,
Tête-à-tête in a nook with old solemn Monkshood.
Then there's Madam Poppy, so vulgar and red,
How gaily and gaudy she dresses her head;
She always looks sleepy, and most people think,
And I quite believe it, she's given to drink.
You know Mrs. Pansy, with dark velvet hood,
And a face like to some you see carved out in wood;
I hear that she's lately come out in great state,
And has wholly forgotten the old garden gate.
Do you hear if Miss Dahlia has got a new dress,
To appear at the show? Why she cannot do less;
And though she has dresses of every hue,
She is sighing and pining to have one of blue.
Madam Tulip last Sunday was splendidly dressed;
But then, dear, her character's none of the best.
She is painted and powdered, but smell of her breath,
I am sure it will make you sick nigh unto death."
"Well, now then, I'll tell you a capital joke,"
Mrs. Nettle replied, and she laughed as she spoke
"Here's old Dolly Daisy, that lives in the dell,
Has a daughter who's gone with my lady to dwell
She calls herself now by a high-sounding name,
You would scarcely believe that from field-work she
She'd a sister, you know, overturned by the plough,
When Bobby Burns blubbered and made such a row.
And there's those Geraniums, a proud idle set;
Whilst we are abroad in the cold and the wet,
They dress themselves out in pink, scarlet, and white,
And stare out at the windows from morning till night.
Those delicate gentry that come from abroad—
I know they are glad of their bed and their board—
They boast of the sunshine of Naples and Rome,
If they don't like our climate, why not stay at home?
Our land's overrun by such strangers as these,
By singers and dancers and poor refugees:
Only think how our language is broken and maul'd,
And to hear now what jaw-twisting names they are called;
But I will be bound if their right names were known,
They'd be something as common as Smith, Jones, and
But 'tis time to be going; the moon's shining bright,
And I cannot bear scandal. Good night, ma'am, good
On how dark a background of poverty and misery this bright and cherry
humour could play, may be seen in the following verses:―
WRITTEN FROM NEWMARKET UNION.
(To my Sister at Cambridge, 1846.)
Since I cannot, dear sister, with you hold communion,
I'll give you a sketch of our life in the Union.
But how to begin I don't know, I declare:
Let me see; well, the first is our grand bill of fare.
We've skilly for breakfast; at night bread-and-cheese,
And we eat it and then go to bed, if we please.
Two days in the week we have puddings for dinner,
And two we have broth, so like water, but thinner;
Two meat and potatoes, of this none to spare,
One day bread-and-cheese—and so much for our fare.
And now then my clothes I will try to portray,
They're made of coarse cloth and the colour is grey.
My jacket and waistcoat don't fit me at all;
My shirt is too short, or I am too tall;
A sort of Scotch bonnet we wear on our heads;
And I sleep in a room where are just fourteen beds.
Some are sleeping, some snoring, some talking, some
Some fighting, some swearing, but very few praying.
Here are nine at a time who work at the mill,
We take it by turns, so it never stands still:
A half hour each gang, so 'tis not very hard,
And when we are off we can walk in the yard.
We have nurseries here where the children are crying,
And hospitals too for the sick and the dying.
I sometimes look up to the bit of blue sky,
High over my head, with a tear in my eye.
Surrounded by walls that are too high to climb,
Confined as a felon without any crime,
Not a field, nor a house, nor a hedge can I see,
Not a plant, not a flower, not a bush, nor a tree,
Nought except a geranium or two that appear
At the governor's window, to smile even here.
And in such a dismal prison-house as this, the author of "Fairy
Revels" might, but for the intervention of friends, end his days. A
London Publisher, has undertaken to bring out a small collection of
his poems, and it is hoped that the sale of the volume may at least
avert a fate so hard.
Ed. - why Miss Craig fails to identify the
subject of her article is a mystery because it rather defeats its
purpose. However, the poet in question is J. R. Withers
(alternatively James Withers Reynolds), an impoverished
Cambridgeshire shoemaker. He and his family were inmates in
Newmarket Workhouse in 1846 from where the above verse letter to his
sister was written. He is later reported to have come to the attention of literary
society and was fashionable for a while, but nevertheless met the
fate of other artizan poets, dying in poverty.
Withers' volume "Poems Upon Various Subjects" (1854) is
available online via Google Books. (For other workhouse verse, see
Gerald Massey, "Little
AN OLD FRENCH CITY.
special interposition of providence, and the prayers (sous
extendu) of its patron saint, St. Etienne, Bourges is on the
road to nowhere. It is approached, in this year of grace
eighteen hundred and sixty-six, by a little branch railway between
the Ligne du Centre and the Ligne du Bourbonnais.
It is also built upon a small hill, overlooking the wide plains of
Berri; in consequence it would be both expensive and useless to
drive boulevarts through its antique streets. It therefore
remains much what it was twenty years ago, when we drove into the
town with post-horses, being bound from Geneva to Paris. Oh,
those days of trotting horses and jingling bells, across the bare
wide fields of France, along the interminable pavés
lined with low fruit-trees, past the dirty villages, each with its
small hostelerie, and its little church, and so at night clattering
into the gates of the fortified town. Those days are gone for
ever. I am glad I have known them: "I, too, have been in
Arcadia," and have driven post like Sterne, like Arthur Young, like
Louis XVI. flying to Varennes, like Marie Antoinette looking in
agonized suspicion from her chariot window. You, my little
heir of the nineteenth century! you, oh child of the train and the
telegraph! nothing will you ever know of ancient France—of
l'ancienne régime. You
will not even stop at towns such as these; for you will have no
youthful memories calling on you to "halte-là!"
To you, Bourges, Chartres, Rheims, will simply mean "Buffet, dix
minutes d'arret." Oh! child of the nineteenth century, I
pity you from the depths of my heart!
Now, for the moment, we have to do with Bourges—how to get there? It
cost me some trouble to find out, so excuse me if I explain. You go
to Orleans—that is simple enough; Orleans is on the high road to
everywhere; meaning the Loire, Tours, Nantes; or the Spanish
frontier, by Poitiers, Angoulême, and Bordeaux. But to come here
you go to none of these places. You get out at Orleans, and into a
slow little train, which creeps over an interminable marshy heath,
reminding one of Chat Moss, that triumph of English engineers. Presently you come to Vierzon, and here again you diverge on to
another and still less important line, which in an hour's time
deposits you at Bourges.
"Bourges, then," observes the untravelled, "is an unimportant place
after all. What do you go there for?" Pardon; Bourges is the ancient
capital of Berri; and you know, or ought to know, that the father of
the legitimate king of France derived his title hence. The father of
the exiled Henry V., commonly called Comte de Chambord, was Duc de Berri.
He was assassinated in 1821, and his widow was that heroic Madame of
whom such exciting stories are yet told in Brittany. She only
died in 1864, a brave woman, who would have saved France, so far as
she knew, from endless troubles and a doubtful future―toujours
Secondly, Berri is the native country of perhaps the second greatest
French author of this century. I give the first place to Honoré de
Balzac, the second to Georges Sand. She loves it, and has given the
most charming descriptions of its familiar landscape. She has an
estate therein, where she lives like a Lady Bountiful, one of the
many phases of her many-sided nature.
Thirdly, Bourges possesses one of the four great cathedrals of
France; Amiens, Rheims, Chartres, are the other three.
Fourthly, Bourges has a particular association for the British
public. They do not know much of French history, it is true; the
grand, the picturesque, the romantic scroll, which descends from Pepin and Charlemagne to the feet of the last lone and childless son
of the Fleur de Lys, is almost an unknown writing to the Englishman,
who yet can boast of Alfred, of the Black Prince, and great Queen
Bess; but there is one French king, immortalized by Sir Walter Scott
in his Quentin Durward, and familiarized by Charles Kean, at the
Princess's Theatre, with whom we are all acquainted. His crafty
intellect, his superstitious devotion, his peculiar cap with the
metal images of saints, his abominable hypocrisy, his love of the
Scotch Mercenaries, and the clever way in which he began to assert
the predominance of the monarchical power above that of the feudal
seigneurs; all these things are pretty well known to the reading and
the play-going public. Well, Louis XI. was born at Bourges; his
father, Charles VII., the king whose kingdom was saved by Jeanne D'Arc, was driven here by the English, and so beset that at one time
he was more rightly to be called king of Bourges only than king of
that France which was really in the hands of his natural enemies,
our honourable selves. Such are the titles of Bourges to a
respectful interest. They would look well in a gazetteer; they
occupy a couple of pages in Murray's Handbook of France; but what
geography, what handbook, can ever give the least idea of the living
beauty and interest of these old French cities? To define their
charms is as difficult as to say why peaches ripen. It is not only
beauty, though they are rich in that; I saw to-day the cathedral of
Bourges rise flat and grey across a patch of water bordered by tall
poplars, and marvelled at its adaptation to all accessories; to a
foreground of gardens, and equally to its architectural approaches
by gable-ended streets. But it is not beauty only. It is tradition,
romance, the regretful sense of that which is fast disappearing. It
is reverence for our fathers, anxiety for generations to come; it is
the idea and the charm of the past, the present, and the undeveloped
future, all wrapt in one vision of other days.
First and foremost, of the Cathedral of Bourges. How shall one
translate it into words? A few zigzags from the inspired pencil of Pugin would better suffice. Yes, even better than a photograph, for Pugin gave in his sketches not merely the beauty of the thing
represented, but his own vivid appreciation of it; so that in
looking at his marvellous sketches of foreign architecture one seems
to see it with Pugin's eyes.
All day, from morning to evening, I have been in and out of this
cathedral, examining its details by the help of a very good guide,
written by one of its own clergy—written, consequently, as a man
writes of his native land. Well, then, the present edifice is the
fourth of its name and race, the first having been built A.D. 250,
in the days of Roman Gaul. The legend says that St. Ursin, the
apostle of Berry, and first archbishop of Bourges, was allowed to
build it on the ground of the Roman Palace, or Governor's House. It
was rebuilt in A.D. 380 by another saint, and again in the ninth
century. Some fragments of this last erection yet remain, but the
glorious church now called St. Etienne de Bourges was built early in
the thirteenth century, in what we call the "Early English" style. Perhaps it is our familiarity with its long sombre lines which makes
it so inexpressibly beautiful to English eyes.
The construction is singular, the external situation eminently
picturesque high above the ramparts at the extreme south-east of the
town, and having a large garden crossed by avenues of limes between
it and the wall. It is a long building, without transepts, and with
a double aisle on each side of the nave; the mid walk thus formed
having been intended for processions. The perspective flies away
like that of Westminster Abbey, and is lost in a glimmer of painted
glass. The pillars are immensely high, and their plain simplicity
increases the effect; some architects have even objected to the
extraordinary height; but their defence is that they "lift up the
hearts" of the beholder. Sursum corda is their everlasting response.
Then the number of these columns—they form a forest of stone. Taking
them altogether, large and little, and counting those composite ones
of which Sir Walter Scott says that at Melrose they were--
"Like bundles of lances which garlands had bound,"
there are nearly three thousand, and nearly every capital is
carefully and beautifully designed and sculptured. Therefore the
effect, when one walks across the west end, from wall to wall, may
be imagined. "The groves," says Bryant―
"The groves were God's first temples, ere
To hew the shaft, or lay the architrave,
And spread the roof above them—ere he framed
The lofty vault to gather and roll back
The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood,
Amidst the cool and silence, he knelt down,
And offered to the Highest solemn thanks
But here is a temple which well-nigh realizes the effect of those
primitive groves, and it is perhaps due to its imposing height and
the vast scale and simple breadth even of its detail, that it is
much less molested by false ornament of a temporary kind than most
foreign cathedrals. Here are no bad pictures, no gilded
constructions of the taste of Louis le Grand. All belongs to the
earlier and purer epochs of French art. The altars are small, and
such of them as are modern have been restored after ancient models.
The images of saints in the chapels which surround the exterior
aisle are small, and of a refined character; and the wrought-iron
work which separates the choir from the nave is extremely delicate. Thus there is nothing to distract the eye from the great
architectural conceptions here so wonderfully carried out. And
through this vast building the population ebbs and flows all the
Sunday like the waves of the sea.
I spent nearly the whole day in
the cathedral, examining the chapels between the services, and was
much struck by the way in which it was really used by the people.
Cold as was the weather, it had a warm look. In the afternoon the
mighty nave was paved with a dense mass of human beings to hear a
preacher from Paris. The men had the advantage, being grouped in the
neighbourhood of the pulpit. Outside them, on every side, were the
white caps of the Berrichon women, intermingled with the bonnets of
the fashionable ladies. About five o'clock the great congregation
broke up, streaming through the several doors to the thunder of the
organ, as twilight began to darken the aisles, which are always dim,
even at noon, so rich is the painted glass. It was spared in "'93,"
because it would have been so expensive to reglaze even with white
glass. But eighteen windows were sacrificed, I believe, in the
middle of the last century, because the worshippers could not see to
read their prayer-books—a remote consequence of the invention of
printing! The painted windows which remain are covered with Bible
stories. They are among the most beautiful in the world.
There is a subterranean church, which hardly deserves to be called a
crypt, so fair and lightsome is it. It contains some monuments,
finely sculptured, which were deposed from the upper church in
"'93." I need not say that from the tower one sees far and wide over
Bourges and the flat plains of Berri, where the vine is largely
Then I went over the roofs of each aisle, there being a considerable
space (as in the dome of St. Paul's) between that which is seen from
below and the exterior. Oh! the enormous masonry; oh! the forest of
beams. All strong, and straight, and smooth, and six hundred years
old. A real forest must have been sacrificed to build St. Etienne.
This walk was agreeably diversified by crawling up a stone staircase
with wide iron rails outside one of the flying buttresses. It was
not till we had moved considerably to one side that I had any
conception where we had been; passing through the mid air on a
narrow, sloping bridge of stone which looked a mere nothing. "Everybody asks to go up that staircase," said the good Suisse,
triumphantly. Query, whether they wish to do so twice. I am glad to
say we came down from the roof quite another way, or I think I
should have stayed up there unto this hour.
On the Monday morning I threaded the narrow winding streets, in
which a stranger inevitably loses his way, until I found the second
antiquarian treasure of this old city—the magnificent mansion of
Jacques Cœur, the Gresham of France. It is such a famous place,
this "House that Jacques built," that every child in Bourges will
point you the way.
If I were a rich merchant, with galleys upon every sea and trucks
upon every railroad (since one should suit one's illustrations to
the times in which one lives), I can imagine nothing more delightful
than the building for myself a palace such as this commercial prince
of the middle ages built for himself and his people; a home which
from top to toe, from balustraded roof to deep cellar, was
symbolical of his name, his trade, his tastes, his very humours. His
dwelling must have fitted Jacques Cœur as its skin fits an animal. All its quaint architectural corners seem, as it were, wrinkles and
creases, whereby it adapted itself to the nature and genius of the
man. We, in our day, know nothing of such a style of building. If we
want a large house we send for an architect, who submits his plans
to our enlightened judgment; allotting ample stairs, a sufficiency
of best bedrooms, kitchen, butler's pantry, &c. If rather less, then
rather cheaper; and as to making the slightest difference in style
on account of our late pursuits; as whether, for instance, we were a
retired candlestick-maker, or a lord chancellor, or a physician, the
very idea would savour of lunacy. Egalité, fraternité— stature,
are not we all alike in our in our physical wants, in our deep
content with bricks and mortar? Let us build and plaster our houses
with our own tails, like the beavers, only with somewhat less
finesse and ingenuity. We know already what the result will be we
run no unknown risk. It will be Baker-street on a small scale,
Victoria-street on a large one.
Not so Jacques Cœur. This man wished in dying to leave a beautiful
shell behind him, so that the passers-by might say "Here lived a
great merchant; he had a wife, sons, and a daughter, and numerous
domestics. He liked his money, but loved art more; he kept a negro;
he was pious, also loyal. He didn't mind fighting if needs must be;
but preferred commerce and politics. He loved Bourges, and Bourges
loved him; for he paid his workmen well." All this, and more,
Jacques Coeur contrived to write in legible characters on the walls
of his house, some of it on the outside, some of it on the inside.
To this day it testifies what manner of man he was; own brother to
Whittington and to Gresham; akin to the princes of Venice and of
Holland; a man of manifold energies, who abided by his family motto,
"à Cœurs riens impossible."
The pedestrian traveller, while pursuing the narrow street which
bears his wholly plebeian name (James Heart, neither more nor less),
turns suddenly through the ornamental gateway, whose door is adorned
with an elaborate knocker, the hammer of which strikes upon a heart,
stands transfixed in that elaborate court, and asks, "But who was
he, this man of ample wealth and ampler brain?" It is easy to
answer. He was a contemporary of Jeanne d'Arc, and did for his king
by his gold what she did by faith and the sword. Jacques Cœur and
the Maid of Orleans may be represented as upholding the crown of
France in those days. Charles VII. was not worth either of their
devotions, and Providence probably considered his abominable
ingratitude in bestowing upon him Louis XI. for a son. Jacques Cœur
was born at Bourges, his father being largely engaged in trade. Jacques wedded, while quite a young man, the daughter of the
provost; her name was Macée de Leopard. When he built his house
he paid due honour to his wife, whose portrait and family arms
appear in several places. He extended his father's trade immensely;
was concerned in the coinage both of Bourges and Paris—, sort of
master of the mint; and his thoughts were engrossed by large schemes
of commerce, full of their own poetry; for in 1452 he went to the
East to make personal acquaintance with men and places, and on his
return to France he fixed his commercial head-quarters at
Montpelier, covered the Mediterranean with his ships, and had agents
and commercial travellers in all directions, many of whom afterwards
became eminent, testifying to the sagacity of his choice. Does this
little description convey the idea of a real man? Not a mere
historical figure, buried in dry words, but a genuine creature,
rising from honour to honour; lending only too much money to his
king, sent on delicate foreign missions, even to the pope; getting
so alarmingly rich that jealous people naturally desired his fall
In person he was slight and nervously framed. His face was very
peculiar, and he had an astonishing forehead. Except that there was
a strong development of the imaginative element about the temples,
this countenance suggests to the modern beholder somewhat of a
likeness to Lord Brougham. It does not add to the unity of his
portrait that he caused himself to be drawn in the guise of an
angel, with tall wings and a quantity of yellow hair flying behind. That was
une petite fantaisie du moyen âge; the unmistakable
visage is there all the same.
This ugly genius being, as aforesaid, enormously rich, bought in the
year 1445 about four hundred and twenty-one years ago, a piece of
land situated on the ramparts of the town, and set to work to build. Tradition says it cost him
a hundred thousand golden crowns, which is,
I believe, somewhere about £240,000. On the outside, that which
backed upon the rampart and moat, it took the shape and aspect of a
fortress; on the town side it literally broke out, into blossom. The accompanying woodcut is necessarily on too small scale to give
other than an idea of the general effect of the court. It is
covered with symbolic sculpture, or with domestic portraiture. For
instance, the panels of the pointed tower upon the left are each
occupied by two servants, women sweeping with brooms (new, let us
hope); small retainers; a female, the housekeeper perhaps, giving
alms to a beggar; and half way up are himself and his wife. He holds
a hammer, the symbol of industry, called by a French proverb le clef
des arts. Over the kitchen door (right in the corner, with little
steps leading up to it) is a sculptured panel of cooks and
scullions, busy over their fire. One would need long ladders and
good eyes to enter into the spirit of these strange bas-reliefs,
which are of the funniest, the most familiar description. Of course
his handsomest room looked into this court, an the recess over the
entrance he set up a figure of himself riding upon his mule. The
chapel is within this gateway; it was very high before it was
barbarously divided into two storeys. You see the window shooting up
to the roof. Here it was that Jacques caused Italian artists to
paint himself, his wife, his children, and various relations, all in
the guise of adoring angels.
It is not to be supposed that Jacques Cœur could spend much time in
his handsome reception rooms. When at home he appropriated to
himself certain little round rooms in that strong tower at the back. The view is taken from what was the moat, now the Place de Berry. Observe that there are no windows near bottom. Some way up is his
study, his little domestic office, where he wrote his letters and
did up his accounts. Above that, fenced from the staircase by a
strong iron door and wonderful lock, which still works unwearied
after four hundred years of duty, was his vaulted strong-room. It is
said he had a hole made in the floor, through which he could pitch
his money and himself down into his study, supposing that robbers
were attacking his strong-room. The corbels in this room are
extraordinary. One is said to reveal the secrets of his future
disgrace; an interview, political perhaps, with Agnes Sorel, the
king's mistress, to which the king was a concealed party, perched up
in a tree. Jacques is represented as becoming suddenly aware of the
king's presence by seeing his face reflected in a fountain. It is
impossible to say if this is the true interpretation of this quaint
bit of sculpture. There is something peculiarly whimsical in the
idea of Jacques causing it to be portrayed in his secret
strong-room, as if to remind him of possible dangers in the future.
Above this room runs an external gallery, of which the balustrade is
ornamented with alternate hearts and cockle-shells, indicative of
pilgrimage. Here be came into near neighbourhood of the chimneys,
and consequently he trimmed their tops with the most delicate stone
frills. And along the roof line he laid a neat cover or hem of lead,
which he gilded with hearts and cockle-shells, and here and there a
little statue, such as that of monk, knight, or pilgrim. Under the
eaves of the observatory chamber is a portrait of his negro, hugging
his coffer; and a little further on an angel affably holding his
coat of arms. A shield in another place bears the arms of another
rich commercial family allied to his own—fleurs-de-lys interspersed
with bales of silk or wool. In a similar spirit, the roof of a fine
gallery is neither more nor less in construction than the reversed
keel of a ship; and the massive chimney-piece represents a fortress,
and has two little dormer windows atop, with folks looking out of
Now does not the home represent the man? Is it not full of him even
to the present hour? Fancy him showing all these queer or poetical
devices to his admiring friends. Fancy Madame Cœur and her maidens
going busy about the household work amidst their own portraits, and
their own coats of arms, and their own mottoes, smiling at them from
every door-post and window-sill. Jacques Cœur
was great in the way of mottoes. Besides his chief one, which he
sculptured on a balcony overlooking the street,
"A vaillants cœurs
he had two others, deeply characteristic of the man he must have
"A close bouche,
Il n'entre mouche;"
Dire, et faire,
Est ma joie."
And now for a sad ending to so great a man; sad in that he was
uprooted from his native place, and died an exile, though he found a
glorious death. He fell into disgrace with his king, probably
because he had lent him too much money. He was arrested, and his
property fell temporarily into the hands of the monarch, but was
afterwards partially disgorged, and one of his sons got possession
of this splendid dwelling. He himself, accused of several crimes,
such as coining bad money, selling arms to the infidels (that was
how they treated a matter of steam rams in those days), pressing men
to man his ships, selling a Christian slave who had taken refuge
with one of his captains, etc., etc., was condemned to banishment
and confiscation. Being, however, unlawfully detained in prison, he
contrived to escape, got to Rome, and found great favour with the
pope, Nicholas V., at whose death he was named by the successor in
St. Peter's chair captain of an expedition against the heathens. He
is supposed to have been wounded in some combat, for he is known to
have died in the island of Chios, and was buried in the church of
the Cordeliers, a not unfit ending, according to the ideas of those
days, for a merchant prince of France.
The Hôtel Jacques Cœur, now converted into the Hôtel de Ville
of Bourges, is by no means the only relic of the domestic
architecture of the renaissance existing in the city. The Hôtel de
Lallemand also owes its origin to a family of financiers. In 1487
Bourges was almost levelled to the ground by an awful fire;
two-thirds of the city suffered, the trade of the place was almost
burnt out, and never quite recovered. One Jean Lallemand, with his
two sons, having thus lost the house in which they dwelt, and which
must have been, like so many others, of sculptured wood, resolved to
rebuild it in fair and fine stone. It was done, and that which they
wrought is yet to be seen. In 1825, having hitherto been a private
house, it was bought by the municipality, and the Sœurs de la Sainte
Famine were installed therein. These-sisters teach eight hundred
little girls gratuitously. They show the hotel to strangers for a
trifling sum, which they devote to charity. The ceiling of the
ancient oratory is worked in panels, each one differing in subject. The court is ornamented with medallions, several of which were
spoilt in that fatal year, '93." To it are uniformly referred all
the vandalism of Bourges, just as in England we lay it all to that
unhappy Oliver Cromwell. The Hôtel Cujas is so called from having
been inhabited by a famous lawyer of that name, but it was not built
by him. It dates from 1515, somewhere about the date of the earliest
part of Hampton Court. It is of brick, with stone ornaments, very
graceful and beautiful. The great professor of law, Cujas, was an
elder contemporary of our Shakspeare; he died in 1590. In his
earlier life he accompanied the Duchesse de Berri to Turin. Possibly
Portia may have profited by his lessons. See the historic charm and
the romantic associations of these old houses!
Scattered through the steep and winding streets of Bourges are many
other fine old dwellings, which yet have no special name. There is
one in the Rue des Toiles, another in the Rue St. Sulpice, and were
it possible to penetrate the secret of many another, what
staircases, what vast apartments, what quaint sculpture, what
elegant columns might we not discover! The town is a treasury of
architectural art. Last year some gentlemen, supposed to be English,
came and bargained greedily for the ceiling of the oratory of the
Hotel Lallemand. They offered a mint of money for it; perhaps they
wanted to put it up in the Crystal Palace but, Dieu merci, they were
refused. The oratory was built three hundred years ago, for the
honour of God and the delight of men, not for a show, nor for
reference in an architectural dictionary. It is Berrickon, in
Bourges let it remain. We, who have Salisbury, Wells, Maplestead,
and many another glory of mediæval art, need not go begging and
stealing our neighbours' goods. If you wish to see the glorious
treasures of Bourges, church and city, come and look for them.
BESSIE R. PARKES.
convalescent hero of Aspramonte visited our shores two years ago,
and drove through our streets in a light-grey suit and a round hat,
reminding one forcibly of a second-rate swell at the sea-side, those
who, like the writer, had seen him often on the battlefield, in his
coarse red shirt and with no hat on at all, may have thought he was
hardly doing himself justice.
Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807 – 1882),
Italian patriot, military leader and national hero.
From a carte-de-visite.
Very unconsciously, however, that great and simple gentleman went
about amongst us, wearing such a hat, perchance, because it was
cheap—such a coat because it was cool, and wondering, not without
gratitude and love, at the un-Italian "Hoorays" which cheered him by
day and woke him up in the night. Probably most of us who shouted
and stared gave him full credit for the prodigious results of the
last Italian campaign; but how many remembered that this was only
one of a long series, and, in many respects, the least arduous of
them all? The greatness of this man will be understood when his
whole life is better known; it will then be seen that there has
been an absolute unity of purpose throughout the whole of it, and
that every succeeding year has only served to fill in the details of
one and the same vast and romantic design. As some men are born with
an irresistible instinct for the chase, or a life at sea, so was
Garibaldi born with an instinct for conquest; and it is his great
glory never to have used it for purposes of self-aggrandisement, or
otherwise than as a means of elevating and relieving oppressed and
suffering humanity. The following pages are a very brief tribute to
the past life of Joseph Garibaldi.
Garibaldi was Duke of Bavaria, A.D. 584, his ancestors having
curiously enough discarded the name of King. Leader of the people,
not their king, was as much a Garibaldi title one thousand three
hundred years ago as it has become since the well-earned distinction
of Joseph Garibaldi, born at Nice, July 22, 1807. His father was a
merchant; and it was no doubt whilst cruising about in the
Mediterranean that Joseph early acquired that love for the sea and
that mastery over ships which, combined with his later knowledge of
men and land service, has made him a perfectly amphibious commander.
The first sight of Rome kindled in his boyish heart a confused sense
of his country's greatness and of her degradation. As Luther brooded
over a reformed faith, as Columbus dreamed of a new world, so the
obscure Italian boy mused over the redemption of beautiful but
fallen Italy. "I everywhere sought for whatever might enlighten me,"
he writes; "for books, for persons whose breasts responded to my
own." One such, at least, he found in the eloquent St. Simonian
Emile Barrault, whose deep piety and burning patriotism left their
indelible impress upon his young disciple's heart. "Our country!"
exclaims Garibaldi. "I first heard him talk of Italy as 'Our
He learned from him what was then the real condition of Italy, and
what were the hopes and the plans of that little band of patriots,
hardly one of whom has survived to see the triumph of liberal
opinions. His worst fears were confirmed. From Palermo to Venice,
from Venice to Savoy, from Rome to Naples, all was tyranny or
misrule. The insecurity of life and property throughout Sicily
betrayed a slovenly government. The brutal ignorance and indolence
of the low-browed and filthy Neapolitan told of long poverty and a
spirit hardly free enough to feel its own fetters. The swarms of
priests who muttered their venal masses in the Roman temples, or
walked about in their shabby cassocks, with eyes askance, and the
peculiar look of men at once sensual and ashamed; or the great,
gilt, dingy-red coaches, with the shrivelled, dingy-red cardinals
inside them, always going to and from the Holy Father's palace,
seemed to say plainly enough that the wolf had got into the
shepherd's coat, and exchanged his pastoral staff for a sceptre. Whilst, as the eye travelled northwards from Venice, west and south
all over the fair Lombard plain, the white-coated Austrians were
seen settling down everywhere, like a swarm of wasps in an orchard
when the fruit is ripe.
Giuseppe Mazzini (1805
Italian patriot, philosopher and politician.
From a postcard.
Whilst Garibaldi was brooding in silence over these mournful facts,
he fell in with the young apostle of La Giovanna Italia—Mazzini. Mazzini, ablest of agitators, worst of leaders, first supplied him
with a definite creed, as he had already formulated the vague hopes
and aspirations of thousands all over Italy. A revolutionary paper
was started, and immediate action commenced. The enthusiasts who had
been favoured by Charles Albert, as Prince of Carignan, were frowned
down by Charles Albert, King of Sardinia, and the movement
consequently assumed that unconstitutional aspect which it has until
quite lately maintained. A descent upon Savoy, a few arrests, the
banishment of Mazzini to England, and the narrow escape of Garibaldi
in disguise, brought the first act of the Italian revolution to a
close. Italy was not sufficiently roused, the old powers were not
sufficiently shaken; the Sardinian cabinet seemed growing more
bigoted every day. The time was not yet.
SOUTH AMERICA. 1836-1847.
The scene now changes to the wide pampas plains, tropical forests,
and broad lake-like rivers of South America. The voices of
patriotism were silenced for a time in Italy, but other kindred
voices seemed to call the world-wide patriot across the Atlantic.
The Republic of Rio Grande was struggling with the Brazilian
government for its freedom. In 1836 Garibaldi
sailed into its smooth and commodious harbour. He found the
Republican President, Ben Gonzales, and his brave secretary, Livio
Zambeccari, in prison.
He immediately placed himself at their disposal; and receiving
orders to confiscate Brazilian property by sea and land, took
command of the entire Republican fleet, consisting of one small
smack with a gallant crew of sixteen men. Sailing proudly out of the
harbour mouth, he landed on a rocky island hard by. "I stretched out
my arms," writes the chief, "with proud and happy emotions, and my
lips burst forth into an eagle cry from his highest eyrie. The
boundless ocean was my empire, and then I took possession of it." Presently
came sailing out of the harbour an unsuspicious vessel,
with the Brazilian flag; the little crew were down upon it in a
moment. Under the very batteries of Rio the prize was seized without
bloodshed. The crew were politely landed some way down the coast;
the Garibaldians scuttled and sank their own poor little ship and
sailed off with a fine cargo of coffee. But before the cargo could
be sold at Monte Video, suspicions were aroused; an order for the
arrest of the ship and crew was out. The cargo had indeed been sold
to a merchant, but had not been yet paid for; they must either fly
instantly with loss, or surrender at discretion. There was an hour
to spare. Garibaldi, with a loaded brace of pistols in his belt, and
disguised in a long cloak, strode through the streets of Monte
Video, appeared before the astonished merchant as he was quietly
smoking his pipe after dinner; walking close up to him, he applied a
pistol to his breast, with, "My money!" Every farthing was paid,
and the ship slid out of the harbour with the sunset wind.
The second act of such a drama of suffering and valour as the world
has perhaps never witnessed was now fairly begun. Whilst running
between two Brazilian ships, who accompanied him for half an hour,
sweeping his decks with their murderous broadsides, his crew was
decimated and he was shot through the neck. Slowly recovering from
this wound, he was seized on landing by the notorious Rosas,
dictator of Buenos Ayres, and by the directions of his subordinate,
the brutal Millau, hung up for two hours by his thumbs, and nearly
beaten to death; he was then thrown into a loathsome prison and
tortured for many months. Nothing, however, could extract from him
the names or the plans of his colleagues. But freedom and health
never long forsook their darling, and he was soon again cruizing
about the lagunes of Los Patos, making small prizes and resisting
fearful odds. Nor was he less active by land: not unfrequently,
after firing shot and chain cable away, his amphibious crew had to
leap into the water and gain the woods. This was the signal for the
well-organized bands of Brazilian guerillas to turn out against him; here it was, in numberless encounters, that Garibaldi established
his solitary supremacy in this style of war. Garibaldi is a very
sure and a very cool shot, as well as a consummate swordsman. On
one occasion he was surprised in his wooden barracks by a colonel
and one hundred and fifty horse. Alone with his cook and sixty
loaded muskets, he shot down all their officers, and kept the band
at bay till his own handful of men came rushing back through the
enemy's rear, and completed the rout.
Ana Maria de Jesus
Ribeiro da Silva (Anita
(1821 - 1849)
But the loss of many brave companions began to weigh upon the
spirits of the chief: the blood of these noble hearts was being
poured out like water, and yet hardly could the Republic be called
safe for an hour. To complete his trouble, two of his ships were
wrecked; in his own were six of his most devoted companions; not one
of them escaped, and for a brief season at least he seems to have
been prostrated with the deepest grief. Such seasons, it would seem,
are not unfavourable to the development of the domestic affections. A young Brazilian lady, Anita by name, consoled the hero for the
loss of his companions. Dark, like the tropical Creoles, possessed
of singular grace, perfect physique, and endowed with a high and
dauntless soul, the very counterpart of her lover's, a more perfect
marriage could not be conceived, and the cannon in the harbour of
Laguna were the bells which rang their wedding chimes. The Brazilian
commander, who had resolved to crush out the rebellion, had
blockaded the town. The Republican fleet sailed out and offered
battle. For five hours the cannonade was incessant. Garibaldi's own
ship was almost down to its gunwales in the water, but he never
ceased firing; his other ships were riddled with shot, but not one
gave in. At last the Imperialist squadron, fairly exhausted with the
repulse, drew off at the very moment when their enemies were
sinking, decimated but victorious.
Thus commenced Anita's honeymoon. She pointed the first gun, and
constantly took the place of the dead and wounded. When knocked down
by the wind of a round shot, and entreated to go down below, "I
will go," she said, "but only to drive out the cowards that have
sought concealment there." She soon dragged up three hapless
wretches, who from that hour fought like lions.
At the battle of Coritibani she was taken prisoner whilst caring for
the wounded. She escaped, leaped on a fiery horse, and galloped to
the nearest forest. There lay between her and her husband sixty
miles, a wilderness of giant reeds and towering pines alive with
venomous reptiles and beasts of prey. Night and day she urged on her
brave steed. At length emerging upon the banks of the river Canoas,
she swam the swollen torrent and reached her husband in a state of
complete exhaustion, not having tasted food for four days! In a
moveable camp, with no physician near, and hourly expecting an
assault from the great guerilla, Colonel Moringue, she bore her
first son, Menotti (1840). "Anita," writes her husband, "a few days
after her confinement had been compelled to get on horseback with
her poor babe laid across the saddle, and then to take refuge in the
woods in a pitiless storm!" These frequent wanderings in the woods
were full of extreme suffering for all the fugitives. The rain often
poured in torrents for days, the thick matted undergrowth of reeds
and pampas-grass afforded shelter for swarms of poisonous snakes,
and often proved an almost impassable barrier. The best guides lost
their way. The provisions were soon gone; many died of fever,
others perished with cold, hunger, and exhaustion. Meanwhile it was
going ill with the Republic of Rio; the chiefs were at variance
with each other; the great question of independence was degenerating
into a party squabble. For six years Garibaldi had served them
faithfully, until at length disappointed and tired out, he collected
a drove of cattle, and abandoning for ever a cause which had ceased
to be worthy of him, set his face towards the south, and arrived at
Monte Video in 1841. He seems to have supported himself here by
teaching mathematics in the schools, and carrying round, as he
himself tells us, "samples of every kind, from Italian paste to
Roman silks;" but the Monte Videans, who were at war with the
dictator Rosas, induced him to join their cause, and the formation
of the famous "Italian Legion" was the immediate result. This little
band repeated at Monte Video the famous exploits of the Republicans
at Rio. Time would fail me to tell of the gallant defence of the
town and harbour of Monte Video; how the Garibaldian ships sailed
forth to offer battle to the whole Brazilian fleet, whilst the
inhabitants thronged the quays and roofs of the houses until the
whole bay resembled a vast amphitheatre crowded with spectators; and
how the Brazilian fleet thereupon declined the combat. Nor can we
pause over the numerous encounters with the terrible Ouribes, who
gradually got so great a distrust of himself that he was wont to give way or ever they could get at him with the bayonet.
On February 8, 1846, a day for ever memorable, Garibaldi fought his
last and greatest American battle, with one hundred and ninety of "The Legion" against one thousand two hundred horse and three
hundred infantry, on the plains of San Antonio. "My sons," he said,
as the foe was seen charging up from the distance, "the enemy are
many, we are few; more glorious will be the victory. Be steady,
reserve your fire until they are close on you—then fire, and at them
with the bayonet." But the enemy reserved their fire, and at sixty
yards poured in a deadly volley. Many of the legion fell, the rest
stood motionless, without reply. In an instant, as the enemy came on
with a rush, Garibaldi had galloped to the front, and "Fire!" then
"Charge!" and the little band passed clean through the enemy's
ranks, and attacked the cavalry flanking them. The engagement ended
with a "fighting retreat," and when the sheltering forest was
gained, and the night came down, thirty of the legion were left dead
upon the field, and fifty-three were badly wounded. The report of
this battle spread like wildfire through North and South America,
and reaching Europe, seemed in the eyes of all Italian patriots to
surround the already beloved name with a prophetic glory.
On March 27, 1847, with about one hundred of the legionaries,
Garibaldi sailed for Europe. The times were growing ripe. The whole
of Italy, like the soil around Vesuvius, was volcanic with the
suppressed fires of revolution; sudden jets were seen flaming up
from time to time. Suppressed in the north, the fire would burst out
in Rome, and then for a season explosions would take place in
Sicily, and spending themselves, pass over to Naples and the
mainland. Venice, Milan, Rome, Palermo, Naples, these were the great
national stations between which the electric shocks of Italian
freedom were to vibrate. But the war commenced with a fatal blunder;
the services of Garibaldi and his legion were rejected by Charles
Albert, then at the head of a popular movement to drive the
Austrians out of Italy. Indeed it was more than suspected that the
king would have been glad to see that section of liberalism
represented by our hero extinguished. The government feared the
spirit of revolution—the king, a formidable and popular rival. Garibaldi, believing both himself and the cause betrayed, issued his
famous proclamation of the 12th August, 1847, declaring war against
both the traitor-king, Charles Albert, and the Austrians. Doubtless
there were mistakes on both sides. The king had been wrong, but his
great subject had also erred in violently severing interests which
were in fact identical. Of course the quarrel between them could
never be patched up, and it is hardly to be regretted when we
remember how wisely in his treatment of Garibaldi, Victor Emmanuel
has profited by his predecessor's mistake.
After an armistice had been agreed upon between Charles Albert and
the Austrians, Garibaldi, with about five thousand men, attempted to
continue the war; but it was the old story of a kingdom divided
against itself. No permanent territorial results were effected for
Italy; the Quadrilaterals still frowned, Venetia still mourned her
independence; but those few hand-to-hand encounters with the
Austrians, that apparently fruitless and desultory warfare on the
lakes, established for ever Garibaldi's prestige, and inspired Italy
with that blind confidence in her champion which she has never since
Towards the close of the campaign Garibaldi was attacked with the
marsh fever, which soon turned to typhus. There seemed little chance
of his recovery. He lay prostrate and almost insensible at Lerino.
One cry only had power to rouse him, "The Austrians!" In the
confusion and panic caused by the chief's illness, a body of twelve
hundred Austrians rushed into the little town, and the slaughter had
already commenced in the streets. The fever was forgotten, the dying
man sprang from his couch; in another moment he was at the head of
his legion, and the Austrians were flying before him. Without
resting, the troops pushed on to Varese, here they discovered that
the Austrians had retired to cut off their retreat to Switzerland—a
barrier consisting of the finest army in the world must be crossed. There was not a moment to lose, and at Mazzarene, Garibaldi, with
five hundred of the "legion," forced a bloody passage through an
army of ten thousand Austrians, and passed safely into Switzerland. Thus ended the campaign in North Italy, but only to make way for the
more important events in the south, which were themselves but a
brief and fiery prelude to the great and apparently irremediable
THE SIEGE OF ROME. 1848-1849.
In the fall of the year 1848, the Pope, hearing that the "Great
Bandit" was collecting his forces at Ravenna, ordered a couple of
Swiss regiments to go and "throw Garibaldi and his followers into
the sea." A few days afterwards, the Pope himself was obliged to fly
to Gaeta—the standard of the Roman Republic was raised—the
Triumvirate proclaimed, and Garibaldi himself within the walls of
Rome. No blood had as yet been shed; but the great struggle was
close at hand. The Pope was the head of the Catholic world. France
might be well disposed towards the Republic, but the rights of the
Holy Father must be protected. Thirty-five thousand troops, under
Cavaignac, advanced upon the city; behind them loomed the Austrians
in the distance even Spain sent a few regiments, and the Neapolitan
army approached from the south. Thus hemmed in by four enemies, with
a scanty horde of brave, but many undisciplined troops—insufficient
arms and ammunition, Garibaldi prepared for the defence of Rome. On
the morning of April 30, 1849, Garibaldi attacked the French army
outside the gates. He led charge after charge in person, and after
fighting for seven hours the French were compelled to retreat along
the road to Civita Vecchia, leaving three hundred prisoners in the
hands of the Romans, and fifteen hundred killed and wounded. This is
not the only occasion in which Garibaldi has defeated some of the
finest troops in the world in the open field. The Austrians fared no
better at Varese and Como; and when we hear that the Guerillero
would soon be annihilated if he attempted to oppose either France or
Austria openly, it is worth while to remember that he has more than
once fairly repulsed them both. Upon this occasion the French were
so crippled that they prayed for an armistice, and Garibaldi,
finding himself at liberty, immediately set off to meet the
Neapolitans, who were advancing upon Rome. On these expeditions he
took very few with him—a small band of picked officers and veterans,
most of them belonging to the Italian legion. The chiefs were
mounted on horses; each was armed with heavy pistols, and carried a
long whip; they wore the red shirt and the Roman felt hat. The men
never knew where they were going to; their movements were often as
intricate as they were rapid; Garibaldi alone held the threads of
the tangled skein. Like a magician—he shook his wand, there was no
army; he beckoned, and men came up from the woods and down from the
hills, charged the enemy who the moment before thought themselves in
a desert, charged back again, and disappeared, leaving the
bewildered foe nothing to charge in return, and very little left to
charge with. The poor Neapolitans, who were great cowards, and very
superstitious, appear to have advanced the first time with tolerable
pluck, and to have been repulsed with some loss, but the second time
they met the enemy they fled so fast that Garibaldi was unable to
overtake them, and gave it up.
The figure of the mounted chief, in the red shirt, filled them with
supernatural terrors; the rumour had got abroad that the Devil
himself was commanding in person. Sabres blessed by the Pope were
shivered to bits against him; and even holy silver bullets would
not hit him. Leaving his Southern foes with these satisfactory
convictions, Garibaldi hurried back to Rome, just as hostilities
During the truce the French had received overpowering
reinforcements, and proceeded further to improve their position by a
signal act of treachery. Twelve hours before the conclusion of the
armistice, as the clocks of the city were striking midnight, on the
3rd of June, a French column glided through the darkness towards the
"Who goes there?" cried the sentinel.
"Viva l'Italia," said the French. In another moment the sentinel was poinarded, and the Villa Pamphili was in the enemy's hands.
"I was roused," says Garibaldi, "at three o'clock, by the sound of
I found everything on fire. When I arrived at the St. Pancrazio
Gate, the Villas Pamphili, Corsini, and Valentina, were all taken." These were the keys of Rome's defence; and placing himself at the
head of a column, Garibaldi led a furious charge. "For a moment the
Villa Corsini was ours," he writes; "that moment was short, but it
was sublime; the French brought up all their reserve, and fell upon
us all together. I have seen very terrible fights. I saw the fight
of Rio Grande; I saw the Bayada; I saw the Salto San Antonio; but
I never saw anything comparable to the butchery of the Villa Corsini!" The Corsini was not retaken, and thus from the first day the fate of
Rome was decided.
"From the moment," says Garibaldi, "that an army of forty thousand
men, with thirty-six pieces of siege cannon, can perform their works
of approach, the taking of a city is nothing but a question of time. The only hope it has left is to fall gloriously."
We cannot follow the history of this romantic siege. The people were
fighting not for victory, which they felt was lost, but for a
principle—to show the whole of Italy that they were in earnest―that
they would have Rome sooner or later. Every day now beheld deeds of
unparalleled heroism. Here might be seen the young Colonel Manara,
who led the flower of the Lombard chivalry, riding up to the
battery's mouth and sabring the gunners in person. The tried Colonel
Medici was ubiquitous, and second only to Garibaldi in the order and
completeness of his tactics. In the pauses of the combat Cicero Vacchio, with blood-stained shirt and sword still reeking with the
slaughter, poured forth a torrent of eloquence and rekindled in the
fainting troops the expiring flames of patriotism; whilst Ugo Bassi,
in his monk's dress, held the crucifix before the eyes of the dying,
and careless of the bullets which showered around him, pointed to
the freedom of the skies. He was captured on the barricades whilst
supporting the head of a dying soldier, but restored by the French
general to Garibaldi. His devotion gained the admiration of both
friends and foes; he was often in the thickest of the fight, but
carried nothing but the cross.
Garibaldi's daring station was in a tower of the Casino Savorelli,
overlooking the trenches and within half carbine shot of the French
tiralleurs. "It was curious," he says, "to see the storm of balls
which rained around me. The balls caused the whole strong house to
shake as if from an earthquake; several times I had my meals served
in the steeple in order to give the French marksmen the amusement of
trying to hit me."
On the 13th of May the French opened a general bombardment, breaches
were made in several places, the earth was also mined, and the enemy
came up under ground into the city. A tremendous fight now ensued,
so tremendous, that a momentary truce followed, both armies were
completely exhausted. The streets were choked with mutilated bodies,
all the Roman gunners had been killed at their guns, the batteries
had kept on firing till every gun was dismounted. A deep silence
succeeded to the clash of arms and rattle of musketry, the living
seemed stunned and paralysed, a heavy sulphurous cloud hung over the
city; but on the 29th the demons of war rose, as it were, with a
yell from the heaps of the dead, and again besiegers and besieged met in the shock of a deadly hand-to-hand encounter. Night brought no
cessation of hostilities. A violent storm had been gathering
unheeded, and burst towards sunset in all its fury over the city. "Ah, it was a terrible night!" writes Garibaldi. "The artillery and
fury of the skies mingled with that of earth, the thunder answered
responding to the cannon, the lightning ran its livid lines across
the path of the bombs." The last struggle was at hand. Two hundred
paces behind the walls of Rome is the ancient inclosure of Aurelian; into this Garibaldi threw a large body of troops, with orders to
defend it to the last. Their numbers were soon diminished to about
half, their guns silenced, but no word was spoken of
surrendering—they continued to advance, to fire, to drop. Then was
seen a thing unheard of in the annals of war—a reserve of the
wounded volunteered to take their turn in the trenches, and men were
seen with the blood still trickling from their breasts, with
bandaged heads and broken limbs, fiercely spending themselves in a
last convulsive effort. On the 29th, at midnight, Garibaldi went
into the Aurelian trench to lead the last charge. "On that terrible
night," writes Checchi, an eye-witness, "Garibaldi was great
indeed, greater than anybody had ever known; his heavy sword flew
like lightning, every one he smote fell dead before him, the blood
of one washed from his steel the blood of another,—we trembled for
him, but he was unwounded—he stood firm as destiny."
At two o'clock Garibaldi was recalled by the deliberative assembly
under Mazzini, then sitting in the capitol. "When I appeared at the
door of the chamber," he writes, "all the deputies rose and
applauded. I looked about me and upon myself to see what it was that
awakened their enthusiasm. I was covered with blood, my clothes were
pierced with balls and bayonet thrusts, my sword was jagged and bent
and stood half out of the scabbard, but I had not a scratch about me!"
On the 2nd of July the Triumvirate resigned their power, and the
authorities undertook to treat with General Oudinot. On the same day
Garibaldi assembled the Roman troops in the great square in front of
St. Peter's, and addressed them as follows:―
"Soldiers, all I have to offer you is hunger, thirst, the ground for
a bed, the burning sun, as the sole solace for your fatigues; no
pay, no barracks, no rations; but continual alarms, forced marches,
and charges with the bayonet. Let those who love glory and do not
despair of Italy, follow me."
About four thousand infantry and eight hundred horse, with baggage
waggons and artillery, followed him in that memorable retreat of the
2nd of July, 1849, which would alone be sufficient to establish the
general's title to military fame. At the very time the French were
watching the gates the whole of Garibaldi's army passed out of the
walls unobserved, and were fifteen miles off by daybreak. To give an
idea of the skill and precision with which the General's movements
were executed, we need only say that within an hour after the last
column left Orvieto the French in pursuit occupied that town.
We hasten to draw a veil over the sad scenes of wandering,
suffering, and disappointment which now followed. Many of his ablest
generals were killed, the troops were daily thinned with privation
and discouragements of every kind, and desertion was frequent in the
ranks. With diminished forces, ill supplied and worn out with
fatigue, the dauntless defender of Rome turned his eyes towards
Venice. He had still but one programme—as long as a man would follow
him he was ready to fight for Italy. At San Marino he was hemmed in
by overpowering numbers, and to avoid surrendering disbanded his
army, and then with sixty of his dearest officers and men cut his
way through the Austrians and reached the coast. He was going with
that devoted band to capture Venice!
In the grey of an August morning, with a fair wind blowing, they set
sail in thirteen fishing-boats. At sunset they came in sight of
Venice; two gunboats steamed out of the lagunes towards them. Garibaldi gave the order to tack for the shore. Could they have
reached the coast in time, escape, if not victory, would have been
possible; but the cowardly sailors lost their heads—in a moment the
flotilla was in confusion, and the gunboats had opened a point-blank
fire. Only four boats ever reached the shore; in the last was
Garibaldi, Anita, Ugo Bassi, Cicero Vacchio, and a few more devoted
followers. Even this small band dared not remain together on the
enemy's soil. Ugo Bassi and Cicero Vacchio were soon captured and
shot by the Austrians, and Garibaldi fled with but one officer, and
his wife Anita, then far advanced in pregnancy. This devoted woman
had accompanied her husband all through the Lombard campaign, and
had followed him to Rome. Now, in almost a fainting state, weakened
by every kind of suffering and privation, she was hurried in a
rickety carriage over rough roads, obliged at times to hide in rocks
and forests, for the Austrians were in pursuit, and a price was set
upon the heads of all the Garibaldians. Arriving on the ground of
the friendly Marquis Guiccioli, Garibaldi carried his wife into the
nearest cottage, where, as soon as she had drank a little water, she
expired in his arms. She was hastily buried in a neighbouring field; and here, parting at once with his wife and the last of his staff
officers, the Dictator of Rome, who a few months before had been a
victorious general at the head of eighteen thousand patriots, found
himself a proscribed and lonely wanderer in a hostile land.
In one of the back streets of New York city, in the year 1850, there
was a little shop devoted to the sale of soap, but especially
candles. At the back of that shop might be seen any day, and all
day, a man with a bronzed complexion, tall forehead, and reddish
beard, deeply engaged in dipping wicks into a large bowl of melted
tallow. This was Joseph Garibaldi, the hero of Monte Video and the
hope of Italy.
H. R. HAWEIS.
(To be continued.)
A STROKE OF GOOD FORTUNE:
BY THE AUTHOR OF "SHIRLEY HALL," ETC.
IT was late in the autumn of 18— when I left my lodgings in Ramsgate
where I had been residing during the season, to return to London. As
I was not pressed for time, I proposed to journey by the steamboat
instead of by rail. Rightly or wrongly, I considered the sea air and
iodine obtained by the voyage a most efficacious alterative, and one
especially well adapted to the constitution of a sedentary literary
There were few passengers on board the boat, as by far the greater
portion of the visitors had already left Ramsgate; besides the day
was squally and threatened rain. We left the harbour, and went on to
Margate, where we took on board a few more passengers, and then
proceeded on our voyage to London. Sunshine and showers now
alternated, the wind, the while, blowing somewhat briskly, which had
the effect of driving almost all the passengers into the cabins. Another person and myself were, for some time, the only individuals
on deck. He sat in the fore part of the boat, while I continued my
solitary walk, from one end of the vessel to the other. It was not
long before I began to perceive the fore-cabin passenger eyeing me
attentively, as if he were acquainted with me. I looked at him
narrowly, but could not recollect ever having seen him before. Judging from his appearance he was by no means of the class a
gentleman would like to associate with. He was upwards of fifty
years of age, and very shabbily dressed. He wore a rough soiled
greatcoat, had a large woollen comforter round his neck, and on his
head a misshapen hat. His shoes were old and dilapidated. He wore
gloves on his hands, but there was not a finger which was not
greatly in want of mending. The form of his face was not by any
means objectionable, but even this redeeming point was, to a
considerable degree, dimmed by a beard of at least three days'
growth, and a complexion which unmistakably showed the man to be a
He continued to gaze intently at me each time I passed him. At last
I was somewhat annoyed at his conduct; and a shower of rain coming
on, I plunged into the after-cabin, where I remained for some time
occupied with my newspaper. But the close atmosphere of the place so
oppressed and disgusted me before long, that I was forced to go upon
deck again. I determined to treat myself with a cigar, and having
lighted it, I, of course, went forward, no smoking being allowed "abaft the funnel." Fortunately the disreputable-looking man was no
longer on deck, and I seated myself on the seat at the boat side,
and puffed away at my leisure. A shower came on, and, as my cigar
was only half finished, I descended into the fore-cabin to finish
it. There I found the bête noire of my journey. He was seated at
the table, evidently half tipsy, and with a glass of rum and water
before him. I sat down at a table, the furthest from him, and,
taking no notice of him, pretended to be wholly unaware of his
presence. He continued to gaze fixedly at me, and at last I got so
annoyed that I threw away my cigar, and was just about to go on deck
again, when, on passing the table at which he was seated, he said to
"Don't you know me?"
"No," I answered, abruptly.
"Is that really the case? To speak truth, I suspect you want to cut
"I told you truly, that I do not know you," I said, angrily. "Why
should you imagine I would tell a falsehood about it?"
"Well, don't get out of humour," he said. "I thought it probable you
might not like to speak to me. When I was respectable I know I
should have been sorry to have been seen speaking with any one so
disreputable-looking as I am now."
"I trust you are respectable still," I said; "but tell me who you
are, for really I have not the slightest remembrance of you."
He watched me attentively for a moment, and then said―
"My name is X――, I was formerly clerk at Messrs.――(naming a
well-known publishing firm who were among my first patrons), and you
used to know me well enough then."
I looked at him, and by degrees recognized his features, though they
were fearfully altered for the worse. It was difficult to believe
that so great a change could have come over the appearance of any
man. Formerly he had been remarkably neat in his person and
gentlemanly in his manners, and, as I have before stated, his
appearance was now completely the reverse.
"I remember you perfectly well now," I said, "and I acknowledge with
gratitude having several times received favours at your hand. Why
did you leave the firm? I know they used to have a very high
respect for you."
"I was dismissed for drunkenness," he said, with a coolness which
surprised me; "but I am proud to say they had no other fault to
place on the debit side of my account."
"Had you no complaint to make against them?" I said.
"Not the slightest; a more honourable firm is not to be found in
London. In fact, I wonder they put up with me so long as they did. Even now I have occasionally to thank them for acts of liberality
which I have certainly no right to expect at their hands."
"If it is not an indiscreet question," I said, "what induced you to
contract the vice of drinking? I should have thought you the last
man in the world to have been guilty of anything of the kind."
"I thank you for your good opinion," he said, "and I believe I was
formerly not undeserving of it. Without being a teetotaller, a more
strictly sober man never lived than I was when you knew me. I
contracted the habit of drinking as most other people do, gradually.
It was no love of the vice, or any absurd wish for conviviality that
made me take to it. I was led to it by that same power which changes
many other sober people into drunkards—sorrow."
"Might I ask the cause of your sorrow? Were you unfortunate in
business?" "I never started in business on my own account. I was
quite content with the appointment I held. It was not a very
lucrative one, it is true, but I was content. My sorrow was caused
by—a stroke of good fortune."
"I confess I do not understand you," I said.
"As the rain continues," he said, "it will be impossible for you to
go on deck, so if you remain here, I will prove to you, if you like,
that a stroke of good fortune may be as prejudicial to a man's
happiness as the most serious misfortune that could befall him."
"Go on," I said, smiling, "that will be a curious problem to work
Well then (said he), to begin. At the time I knew you, I lived at
Camberwell. I had a wife and two daughters, and two finer or more
amiable girls than they were, or a better wife than Margaret then
was to me, it would have been impossible for any man to have. My
income was not large, but it was sufficient. I had a hundred and
fifty pounds a year; and if four people could not obtain many
luxuries upon a sum of the kind, certainly we suffered no
privations, and, more than that, we had some amusement, and a great
deal of happiness.
There lived in the neighbourhood an old lady, a Mrs. Clarke, who had
taken a great fancy to the girls. She was a widow without children,
with no relatives but distant ones, and even with these she was on
no very good terms. Except that she was comfortably off, we knew
little about her, for she was exceedingly taciturn and reserved
about her affairs. She took a great fancy to the girls, and
occasionally treated them to the theatre and other places of
amusement, as well as made them little presents. Once she took them
for three months to Brighton, and they returned home much benefited
both in health and appearance. Of course she used to joke the girls
frequently about getting married. She promised when that event
should take place to give Margaret, the elder, a present of an
old-fashioned gold watch, and Alice, the younger, a silver teapot
and cream-ewer, which she said had been her father's, and for which
she had a great respect.
The old lady died very suddenly one day, to the great and genuine
grief of us all. In her we lost a very dear old friend to whom we
were much attached, notwithstanding her many little pettish
peculiarities. I was invited to the funeral, and obtained a day's
holiday for the purpose of attending it. When I left the house my
wife and daughters were in tears. On arriving at the house of
mourning, I found in it the solicitor, the doctor, and two or three
old ladies, distant relatives of the deceased. I used the word
mourning just now, but really there was not the slightest appearance
of grief shown by any one of them. I believe I was the only person
present who was really sorry for the loss of the good old soul. The
ceremony was duly performed, and we returned to the house, where the
will was read. I was little interested in the matter, seeing that I
had not the slightest expectation from her. In her will she left
many bequests. A hundred pounds to an old servant who had married
out of her house, two sums of fifty pounds each to the two servants
who were then residing with her, and five hundred pounds each to
several distant relatives. To my elder daughter, Martha, she left
the gold watch as she had promised her, and to the younger the
silver teapot and cream-jug. She then left divers moderate sums to
different charities, the whole amounting, in fact, to far more than
I imagined she was possessed of. To my great surprise,
however, the will concluded by her naming my two daughters as her
"But," I said to the solicitor, before I left, "will there be
anything over them to receive?"
"Oh yes," he said, smiling; "I cannot exactly say how much. Although
it may seem unprofessional on my part to make an offer of the kind,
I shall be very happy to give them seven thousand pounds apiece for
their chance if they will let me take all that shall exceed that
sum, while I, on the other hand, will make good all that shall fall
short of it."
I was perfectly astonished at the intelligence; it seemed to me like
a dream. My two poor girls who, when I left home in the morning,
might have calculated their whole assets as somewhere under five
pounds each, were now each of them possessed of a moderate if not
ample fortune. Even when I quitted the house and got into the open
air I could hardly believe the intelligence, and I walked leisurely
home, reflecting in what manner I could best break it to my family,
knowing that joy sometimes has as prejudicial an effect as grief. I
at length reached home. One of my girls opened the door, and I
entered the parlour. Darkened as it was by the blind being down to
its fullest extent, I could easily perceive that my wife and
daughters had been crying bitterly during my absence, and their
prayer-books lying on the table told me that they had been occupied
during my absence in reading the funeral service. For some moments
after I had seated myself no conversation took place between us. My
wife at length broke the silence by asking me who were present at
the funeral, and whether everything went off properly. I gave her a
description of the whole affair, which she and the girls listened to
attentively. When I came to the opening of the will I described to
them the several legacies which had been left. I told Margaret that
the old lady had bequeathed to her the gold watch and to Alice the
silver teapot and cream-ewer.
"Bless her!" said Margaret, "she was a dear old soul, and we shall
miss her sadly."
"I had no idea she was so wealthy," said my wife.
"But I have not yet finished," I remarked. "She has named the two
girls her residuary legatees."
"What does that mean, papa?" said Alice, the younger.
"That whatever is over will be divided between you and your sister."
"Will there be anything to speak of?" inquired my wife.
"I thought there would not, and inquired of the solicitor, who told
me that he should be very happy to offer the girls seven thousand
pounds each for their chance."
For some moments there was a dead silence, so overwhelmed were they
at the intelligence. The first who appeared to comprehend it fully
was my elder daughter Margaret. She leaped from her chair, and,
clapping her hands joyfully, exclaimed, "Now I will never ride in a
second-class carriage again."
"Nor shall that fellow Johnstone ever pass off his clumsy boots on
me again," said Alice, who had a remarkably neat foot and ankle;
will soon find out another shoemaker. When shall we receive the
"My dear," I said, "I think before you trouble yourselves about
that, it will be necessary to know what mourning you will wear as a
mark of respect to the dear old soul that's gone."
"Certainly," said my wife, "we ought to see about it immediately. It will, at any rate, show people that we are not ungrateful for the
kindness we have received from her," she continued, mechanically
drawing up the window-blind which had been pulled down out of
respect for the funeral.
As the old lady's solicitor was an honest man, and none of the
legatees had a disposition to quarrel, the estate was quickly wound
up, and my daughters were soon in possession of their property. As
they were both under age (Margaret , the elder, still wanting a few
months of being twenty-one), I was of course their guardian.
The first thing we did, after we had procured very handsome
mourning, was to entertain the question of moving to a different
locality. My wife found that although many very respectable people
resided in Camberwell, still those whose acquaintance we might make
among them would always remember that we had hitherto lived in a
very ungenteel street. Besides, it would be annoying if those we had
been accustomed to visit should continue to call on us. She had
certainly a great respect for them all; but still, she said, it was
our duty as parents to consider the welfare of our girls, and to
introduce them into such society as would prove beneficial to them.
I endeavoured to prove that Camberwell had hitherto suited us
perfectly well, and I could not see why we should now quit it. My
wife, however, held a contrary opinion, and as she was backed by the
girls, it was resolved that we should remove to the far genteeler
neighbourhood of Paddington. I was powerless in the matter, and they
immediately set out in search of a house. One was at length obtained
which suited them exactly. It was a showy-looking place with
plate-glass windows, the front being profusely ornamented with
stucco mouldings. The bedrooms were not much better than our own,
but the reception rooms, as we began to call them, were certainly
handsome; in fact as much so as plaster and gilt cornices could
make them. I had an impression that there was more show than
respectability about the whole affair, but I was overruled.
Furnishing now commenced, and some very expensive articles were
purchased. I remonstrated, but was told by my wife that as the girls
bought them with their own money I had no right to interfere. I
objected to the legality of the decision, as they were both under
age; but I was obliged to give way, though I did so both in sorrow
and in anger. It was the first time my children had ever opposed my
wishes in any material point, and my sorrow was increased by the
knowledge that my wife had encouraged them in their disobedience.
The house was at last furnished, all arrangements were completed,
and we entered on possession. I am sorry to say that when we quitted
Camberwell, we parted finally with many estimable friends, my wife
and daughters considering they were hardly genteel enough for our
new position in society, although the ostensible reason put forth
was the great distance between Paddington and the neighbourhood we
had left. Being now fully established in
―― Terrace, my family began
to form acquaintances with those who, to use their own phraseology,
were in our own position in society. I cannot say I liked the
acquaintances they made. They were certainly respectable, but among
all of them there was a tendency to vulgar
show, the most of them living up to the full extent of their means,
if not beyond it. Among the ladies were several mothers with
families of marriageable daughters whose only doweries were much
gentility, little education, and no money. Among the men, again,
were several who were clerks in public offices. These I liked best. True, their incomes were small, and hardly any of them could be
regarded as good matches for the girls; still they were steady and
well-conducted. There were also several young men of no particular
qualifications, who appeared to consider trade as beneath them, and
were yet without the ability to attain eminence in any profession. However, things went on smoothly enough, no great reason arising for
complaint on my part, till I found that my wife and daughters now
began to think my position as a publisher's clerk somewhat
derogatory to their position in society. My wife broke ground by
asking me whether, with our family prospects, and my
highly-respectable connection, I could not start in business on my
own account. I told her it was impossible. It would require a large
amount of capital, and I had none whatever.
"But, my dear," said my wife, "I was this morning talking the
matter over with the girls, when I told them that I thought your
want of capital would be the objection; but Margaret said that
sooner than papa should remain in the employment of anybody, he
might make use of any portion of her property he pleased;" and
really, my dear," continued my wife, "I do not see why you should
not do so. The money would be quite as safe in your hands as in the
Bank of England, and you could allow her five per cent. for it,
instead of the three she is now receiving. Why, the difference would
allow us to keep a brougham."
At first sight my wife's suggestion seemed tempting enough, but the
word brougham "brought me to my senses, and I refused to accept the
proposal. I positively declined to touch one shilling of the money
on any condition whatever, and I stated my refusal in such strong
terms, that my wife left the room in a towering passion.
Two days afterwards she laid before me another proposition. She
said, as the incomes of the girls were quite sufficient to enable us
to live comfortably, they could not see why I should continue
toiling and slaving in a house of business. At my time of life I was
entitled to take things more easily, and that both she and my
daughters hoped that I would no longer continue as a drudge in a
firm that after all cared very little about me. This second
proposition I also refused to entertain. I was still in the prime of
life; I had all my energies and my wits about me. I felt I should be
miserable without occupation, and why should I throw away a hundred
and fifty pounds a year? Besides, I was of a far too independent
spirit to live upon the generosity of any one, even on that of my
own daughters, and I requested my wife never to speak to me on the
subject again. My family, I could easily perceive, were by no means
pleased at my firmness, still I felt that I was right, and so I
cared but little for their ill-temper.
Our acquaintances continued to increase in
number, and among them there were one or two families who by no
means pleased me. One of these was the family of a gentleman,
a junior partner in a firm with which our house frequently
transacted business. They lived in considerable style, far
more so in fact than their means warranted. I had not one word
to say against the husband. He was a hard-working, good man of
business; but his wife, who had a family of daughters, considered
that the only means of finding suitable matches for them was by
living in an expensive manner, and keeping a great deal of company,
and I was fully persuaded that she was thereby spending every
shilling her husband earned, if she was not even going beyond it.
As I did not like such an example, I demurred to our forming any
intimacy with them; but my wife held a contrary opinion, and she had
her own way. The parties given by this family, in point of
expense and splendour, greatly exceeded our own, and
this fired my wife with the wish, if not to excel, at least to do
things on an equally liberal scale. We determined, therefore, to
give a party which should fully equal any of those we had attended
at this house. Our acquaintances, however, were not yet upon a level
with Mrs. Brown's (for by that name I will call the lady). Whilst
ours continued solely among the middle class, the Misses Brown had
many acquaintances among outsiders of the aristocracy, and several
honourables, whose "honour," as Byron says, "came more before their
names than after," were to be met at their parties. However, the
Misses Brown were very good-natured girls, and on my daughters
mentioning to them how much they regretted that their gentlemen
acquaintances were not equal in point of position with those they
met at their house, the latter unhesitatingly offered in the kindest
manner to ask their mother to bring some of their stars with them to
our next party. The proposition was joyfully accepted, and by way of
doing these gentlemen sufficient honour, still further preparations
were made for the very splendid party we were about to give. The
evening at last came, and Mrs. Brown was true to her word. She
brought with her three gentlemen, one an honourable, one a captain
in a dragoon regiment, and the third, a Frenchman, Baron De Villebois. The last-mentioned gentleman was certainly the star of
the evening. He was a tall, handsome, gentlemanly man, remarkably
well-dressed, and he spoke English with great fluency. Although he
would have had no difficulty in choosing any lady in the room for a
partner, he confined his attentions principally to my elder daughter
Margaret, with whom he frequently danced, while the captain paid
great attention to the younger. Altogether, I must admit, our party
was a very brilliant affair, although there were several things
about it I did not quite approve of, but the pride I had in my
girls, and their fine appearance, made me pass them over without any
A few days after the party, the baron and the captain paid my wife
and daughters a lengthened visit during my absence on business. They
made themselves very agreeable, and evidently left a pleasing
impression behind them. By some extraordinary series of chances,
they were continually meeting them afterwards, and a considerable
intimacy sprang up between them and my wife and daughters (for I
began now to find that I was of little importance in my own house),
which ended at last by the baron making an offer for Margaret's
hand. When I heard of it, I confess I was far more surprised than
pleased. I knew very little of him, and I refused to give my consent
to the match till he had given me some reference as to the
respectability of his family. This he unhesitatingly promised to do,
and I must say the description he gave was not an untruthful one,
as I afterwards found on inquiry. His father, however, who he said
was somewhat prejudiced on matters of religion, refused to give his
consent to the match, as he did not like his son marrying a
Protestant. The latter, however, persisted in his determination, and
the father withdrew his objection, but refused to advance his son
any money, as he had still some scruples about the alliance. This,
however, appeared to my wife and daughters a matter of secondary
importance, as I had ascertained that the old gentleman was a man of
considerable fortune (even taking an English view of that matter),
and that by the French law his son would, at any rate, inherit a
very considerable portion of it, even if his father's objection
should continue—a point I very much doubted after he had formed
Altogether, I cannot say I ever liked the match, or the manner in
which it was brought about, but I was helpless. My child, who was
now her own mistress, was desperately in love with her future
husband, while my wife was so dazzled with the idea of having a
baron for a son-in-law, that she was blind to every other
consideration. I endeavoured to impress upon them the necessity of
Margaret's having at any rate a portion of her property settled upon
herself, a proposition to which the girl indignantly refused to
agree. "Everything she had in the world," she said, "should be his
without the slightest reservation." And she kept her word.
I was told that the wedding of my daughter and the baron was a very
brilliant affair; but to say the truth, although it took place in
my house, I was so much distressed at the idea of losing my
daughter, that I paid very little attention to what was passing
around me. After the ceremony the bride and bridegroom returned to
the house for the wedding breakfast, and they then started for
France, where they intended to reside. It would be doing my wife a
great injustice to say that she did not feel much at parting, but
she soon recovered her spirits; the idea of her daughter now being
a baroness greatly mitigated the pain she felt at their separation. We frequently heard from Margaret; she and her husband had taken
apartments at Paris till such time as a reconciliation could be
effected with the baron's father. In her letters she always
expressed herself as living very happily with her husband; but I
thought I perceived, after they had been married for some months,
that these expressions did not seem altogether genuine. The idea
pained me greatly, but I did not mention the subject to my wife. The
latter now received a letter from Margaret, intimating the
probability of her soon becoming a mother. This news gave me great
satisfaction in more ways than one, and not the least was that I
thought the birth of the child might act as a peace-maker in the
Shortly after Margaret's departure, my younger daughter, Alice,
received an offer of marriage from the captain, which she accepted. I did not like the match, and I argued as strongly against it as I
could. My principal objection was, that the captain had now left the
army, and had not obtained any other occupation, and I did not like
the idea of seeing my daughter united to an idle man. My wife,
however, insisted that the match was a very genteel one, and that
the captain's relatives were highly respectable, even aristocratical; all of which was certainly true, and she added that she had no
doubt they would soon be able to obtain for him a government
appointment. Finding my arguments of no avail, I offered no further
opposition. I will also admit that I rather liked the captain,
notwithstanding his faults. He was a very brave, good-natured
fellow, could be active enough when he pleased, and had not the
slightest particle of snobbishness about him. Had it not been for
his utter recklessness, I should have accepted him willingly as my
son-in-law. Again, I had more power in this case than I had in
Margaret's. She was of age at the time of her wedding, and I had no
control over her fortune, but Alice still wanted a year of being
twenty-one, and so I refused to give my consent to the match unless
five thousand pounds of her property were settled upon her, leaving the balance at her own disposal. I must do the
captain the justice to say that he made no demur whatever to the
stipulation, on the contrary, he expressed himself much pleased at
my foresight. Alice and her husband determined to spend their
honeymoon in Paris, where they could have the opportunity of
frequently seeing Margaret. Before they left I requested, as a
particular favour, that the captain should make what inquiries he
could about the baron, as I much suspected that Margaret was not so
happy as her letters tried to lead us to imagine. He promised to
make every inquiry upon the subject, and faithfully to let me know
When Alice and her husband returned to England, they took up their
residence at our house, having no home of their own to go to. I
questioned the captain as to the information he had been able to
obtain about Margaret. He told me that she and her husband were
living in a good deal of style, that she had expressed herself as
perfectly happy and contented, but from the expression of her face,
he believed that she was not altogether without anxiety.
"Fortunately," said the captain, "I picked up a fellow of the name
of Jones, who is now living in Paris, and knows pretty well
everybody, and I put him on to make inquiries about the baron for
me, and to let me know the result. I have no doubt I shall have it
in a few days, and then I will tell you all that he says without
About a week after his return, he received a letter from Paris one
morning, which, without opening, he put into his pocket, saying that
he would read it after breakfast. In the evening, as we were having
our cigar together, suddenly the captain broke out with―
"Between ourselves, governor, I begin to suspect that the baron is,
after all, little better than a scoundrel."
"Why so?" I remarked, greatly alarmed, for I had began to entertain
a somewhat similar opinion of him myself.
"Well, this morning I received old Jones's letter. He tells me he
has found out a great deal about the baron, but nothing whatever to
his credit; in fact, that he is one of the most profligate and
notorious gamblers in Paris. He says, also, that he had just heard
that he has lately lost a great deal of money, and that he is
considered by everybody there as an utterly ruined man. I hope he
has not got hold of any of Margaret's money."
This intelligence caused me the greatest alarm, and I determined the
next morning to ascertain what had been done with Margaret's
fortune. To my horror I found that the whole of the money had been
withdrawn from the Bank of England and sent over to France. I know
determined on writing to Margaret on the subject; but before I had
finished my letter, we received one from her saying that her husband
wished her to come over to England for her accouchement, so that she
might be with her mother at the time, and that she expected to
arrive at my house the next day. The letter caused us much surprise,
but the pleasure we felt at the prospect of so soon seeing our
child, considerably neutralized it. Margaret arrived late the next
evening, greatly fatigued with her journey. After the first joy of
meeting was over, I began to examine carefully the expression of my
daughter's countenance, and I was much pained at the impression it
conveyed to me. She was poorly clad, too, and had brought with her
but very little luggage, and my wife found that no preparation
whatever had been made for the expected infant.
One morning, shortly after her arrival, Margaret, during my absence,
received a letter from the baron, which had such a violent effect
upon her, that it caused a premature accouchement, and the child was
dead. I inquired what was the nature of the letter, and the captain,
who was certainly not overwhelmed at our misfortune, placed it in my
hands, and then, folding his arms coolly, walked up and down the
room smoking his cigar, while I read the letter. In it the baron
said that he much regretted to inform Margaret that after he had
taken good legal advice on the subject, he had come to the
conclusion that their marriage was an informal one, inasmuch as he
had not received the consent of his parents to the match. It gave
him, he said, great pain; but his conscience at the same time told
him that he had done wrong. Much as it grieved him, he had no
alternative but to insist on their separation. He had not had the
courage to inform her of it personally, and for that reason he had
invented the excuse for her to visit England. He would now say adieu
to her, and for ever; but that she might rest assured, though
separated, he should always hold her in the highest esteem and
The letter fell from my hands, and I threw myself on an easy chair,
utterly overcome; the captain the while walking up and down the
room with an air of most perfect indifference. At last I said to
"What can possibly be the scoundrel's meaning? Why, he knows
perfectly well that he received a letter from his father, stating
that although he would not be present at the wedding, or countenance
it, still, as it seemed to be so essential for his son's happiness,
he would withdraw all opposition to it."
"Have you got the letter?" said the captain, taking his cigar out of
his mouth at the moment, and knocking the ashes into the fire-place.
"No, I have not," I said; "he kept it."
"It's a pity," said the captain, quietly replacing the cigar in his
mouth. "What would you advise me to do?" I said.
"Consult your lawyer," was the only answer he made me.
I resolved on following his advice, and early the next morning I
left home for that purpose. On my return I found Margaret in extreme
danger, and my wife and Alice in the greatest distress of mind. The
captain was no longer there. After breakfast he had packed up his
carpet-bag, and left the house without saying where he was going, or
even bidding adieu to his wife. A few hours afterwards, however, she
received a hurried note stating that before leaving the house he had
forgotten to mention that he should not be home for two or three
days. I should possibly have been much surprised at his conduct, but
my anxiety about Margaret's health shut out from my mind all other
considerations. Even the villanous behaviour of the baron seemed to
interest me but little, so great was the terror I was in. The day
passed over, and when at night the doctor paid his visit, I waited
with great anxiety for the report he would give of the patient.
The news I received from him was, on the whole, satisfactory. He
said that he had found Margaret considerably better than she had
been in the morning, and, although he could not pronounce her out of
danger, still, with youth and a good constitution on her side, he
had great expectations that all would end well. "Above all things,"
he said, "she must be kept quiet, and nothing allowed to excite or
The doctor's directions were difficult indeed to carry out. Possibly
we might be able to keep her quiet, but to keep her from anxiety was
a different affair. As the acute symptoms of her case diminished,
her distress of mind increased in proportion. By degrees the full
extent of her calamity came before us, and I was puzzled how to act.
My employers, with great kindness, gave me permission to remain away
from business as long as I might consider it desirable. My lawyer
advised that as soon as Margaret should be capable of travelling, I
should take her, armed with all documentary evidence of her
marriage, with me to France, and there apply to the law to establish
her position as the baron's wife. I determined on following his
advice; but how to carry it into effect I hardly knew. The greatest
difficulty of all was, that I could not speak one word of the French
language, although I could read it with tolerable facility. Here I
had great reason to be discontented with the captain's behaviour. He
spoke French fluently, and could have assisted me much; but
although it was now nearly a week since he had left the house, we
had note heard one word from him, and where to address a letter to
him I knew not. Alice also began to be dreadfully alarmed at his
silence, for though she knew him to be a bad correspondent, she did
not believe him capable of so much cruelty as to neglect her and her
family in the distress they were in.
Four days more passed over, and Alice received a letter from her
husband. It was dated from a prison in France. In his letter the
captain detailed his adventures since he left the house. He had
determined, he said, that that rascal Villebois should not go
without the reward of his villainy, and for that purpose he had left
England to challenge him. On arriving in Paris, he found the baron
was at his father's château, and he immediately started
meet him. When he arrived at the village near which the chateau is
situated, to his intense indignation he found that, to oblige his
father, the baron had married a French lady of large fortune.
"All idea of challenging the baron," the captain continued, "immediately fled from my mind, and, instead of fighting a duel with
him, I chose a thick heavy horsewhip, and, having waylaid him, I
inflicted on him so fearful a chastisement, that for some hours the
villain's life was despaired of." The captain having performed, as
he called it, "this great moral duty," was on the point of turning
his steps homeward, when he was seized by the police, and thrown
into a prison to await his trial for the murderous assault he had
committed. In the letter, he begged his wife to come over to France
immediately, and bring with her some money that he might be able to
engage lawyers to defend him, and especially not to forget to pack
up with her things some good cigars, as those provided by the
authorities were not fit for "a dog to smoke."
Here was a new tribulation for us. Alice, of course, immediately
left England to join her husband, taking with her a considerable sum
of money as well as the much-desired cigars. I must say, although I
was at first grievously annoyed at the captain's conduct, it
increased my regard for him, as it showed, in spite of the
blundering manner he had carried out his intentions, that he had
been solely actuated by his love for my family. I may here state
that he was sentenced to three months imprisonment, which he
underwent, and then returned to England.
Margaret had now sufficiently recovered to leave England, and I
started off with her to claim what in English legal phraseology is
called " a restitution of conjugal rights." I had a letter of
introduction to an avocat of eminence, who commenced proceedings on
my daughter's account, and the baron commenced counter proceedings
against her for illegally bearing his name. His cause came off
first. Margaret was tried in the Imperial Court of Douay. It was
then proved that no formal consent of the parents had been received
to the match, the baron's father positively denying that he had ever
written the letter withdrawing his opposition to the match, which
had been shown me by the baron. The result was a verdict against
Margaret, condemning her to a nominal fine of fifty francs, with a
warning that, in case she should again be guilty of calling herself
the baron's wife, she was certain to be imprisoned.
I had now no alternative but to take my poor child back to England
with me, neither married nor unmarried; her wedding, according to
the English law, being legal—according to the French, illegal. However, it mattered little either way. The shock had been too great
for her to withstand, and she gradually sunk under it. She had no
particular disease, but seemed simply to fade away, and before
twelve months had expired, after the trial at Douay, I followed her
to the grave.
With regard to the captain, he still continued the amiable,
good-natured, idle fellow he was when I first knew him. As he would
take to no occupation, and as his family yearly increased in number,
the interest of the five thousand pounds settled on his wife was not
sufficient to maintain them in England, so we gave up the house in
Paddington, sold off the furniture, and my wife, the captain, and
Alice, with their children, went over to France, where they are now
residing in genteel poverty in a town on the Normandy coast. Alice
has already five children, and is daily expecting another.
My own part in the family history is soon told. During the illness
of poor Margaret, I had unfortunately learnt to seek consolation
from the bottle, and after her death, I sought it more eagerly than
before. After the departure of my family for France, the habit
increased to such an extent that I could not break myself of it.
attempted to leave it off, the utter misery of my solitude was so
great that I was obliged to take to it again. My employers, after
frequently threatening me, at last dismissed me, and with good
cause. I then went over to my family in France, and, with the
exception of the captain, they seemed anything but delighted to see
me; "my appearance," they said, "being so ungentlemanly." I left
them, and returned again to England, where I have resided ever
since. Occasionally I receive little commissions from my late
employers, such as copying papers, or odd bits of accounting. I also
keep the books of two or three petty tradesmen, and altogether I
contrive to earn enough to keep me in meat and—drink; and so, I
suppose, it will continue till the end of the chapter.
He had hardly concluded when I found the boat was upon the point of
arriving at Blackwall, and I prepared to leave the cabin. Before
doing so, I told him how much I regretted that a man possessed of so
many natural good qualities should have become a victim to the
filthy vice of drinking, and I concluded, as I warmly shook his
hand, "I hope, when next we meet, I shall find you the same sober
man that I knew you formerly."
He shook his head mournfully, but made no reply. I had good proof,
however, that my advice was useless, for, as I ascended the cabin
stairs, I heard him say,
"Steward, bring me a glass of rum, and let it be neat."
BELLA'S EXCITING DAY.
THE first thing
Bella saw this fine hot day was a crowd of people round the church
door, watching the cabs as they drove up; and she thought this would
be something to excite her mind, so she came up as fast as she
could, and stood among the people looking. As she had been
running, her hair was anyhow, and one of her boots nearly off her
foot; indeed, she had to hitch up her old frock over her shoulder,
just as the young ladies, all in white, began to step out of the
cabs, and walk into the church one after the other. They wore
long white veils; they had no bonnets on; and their hair shone like
jewels in the warm sun.
Bella was very much surprised, and said to a policeman, who
was so tall that she had to look up at him as if he was a monument,
and so stiff that he could hardly see below his own chin―
"If you please, sir, what is this?"
Now the policeman took no notice of Bella, but he called out
to a boy who was up the lamp-post―
"Hi, you sir, come down!"
Then Bella determined to ask the little boy, who had no doubt
seen inside the church-window, and so she said―
"Are they all going to be married?"
"Married! no!" said the rude boy; "it's a confrummation.
They're all going to be confirmed."
This was a great mystery to Bella; so she rubbed her nose
with her old stuff frock, and felt much interested. In a short
time, she heard the singing and the music, very loud and nice.
Then the very pavement seemed to shake under her feet, and she had a
pricking sensation at the roots of her hair, and something in her
throat as if she was going to cry.
"There!" said the little boy, nudging her: "that's the
confrummation. They're a-being done now; it's a bishop as does
it; I see him go in at the other door."
This made Bella feel sad.
"I never saw a bishop," said she, very humbly. But she
made a solemn resolution in her own mind that she would be
confirmed, with music, and singing, and a white veil. Only she
had not considered how expensive it is to ride in a cab, poor child;
half-a-crown, perhaps; and she had never had half-a-crown in her
hand in all her life. However, she said in her own mind, "I
will be confirmed when I am older;" and she stamped with one foot on
the pavement as she had the thought.
It was a good long time before there was any more
conversation; however, at last the little boy spoke again, and said―
"They haves a bun and a glass o' wynd apiece."
Then the organ burst out again, and the little boy gave her a
violent push, he was so excited.
"There!" says he, "don't you hear? They're eatin' their
buns now, while the orgin plays 'Glory be to the Father!'"
At this, Bella was quite overcome, and leaned with one hand
on the little boy's shoulder. So he came closer, and put his
great red paw round Bella's downy thin arm, and spoke more softly,
"I say, don't you cry, silly! I'm going to be confirmed
some day—and I'll take you with me!"
Now, indeed, Bella felt as if she had something to look
forward to in life, and she asked the little boy what his name was.
"Name?" says he, "Bos-eye."
"That's not your real name," said Bella.
"No; they calls me Bos-eye in our Buildin's, because I can
squint double-jest―look here!"
"Oh, don't you!" cried Bella, and hid her face in her frock,
as the little boy squinted horribly;—they might well call him Bos-eye.
"Shall you be confirmed in a white veil?" inquired Bella,
"No—oh!" said the boy, very loud. "White veil? no—oh.
I shall have a shirt-pin, and a new hat, and we'll have a—"
"Now then, move on, move on!" said the stiff policeman, and
all the cabs came rattling up to the church again, and the people
rode away, and a stout man came and stood at the door of the church,
in a great coat all over broad gilt lace, and he had a cocked hat,
all over gilt lace too, and he carried a tall stick, with a real
silver knob to it.
Then Bella trembled very much, and stood very close to the
little boy, and laid hold of the lappel of his jacket, and said―
"Oh, what a beautiful bishop!"
"Bishop! ha, ha, ha!" said the little boy; "he's only a
beadle; he belongs to the workus; bishop! ha, ha! Come along,
little 'un! why, none of the girls is pretty, not nigh so pretty as
you are; and look how they're dressed up, and how they
greases their hair!"
Just then, an omnibus came by with a good many gentlemen on
the outside, very smartly dressed.
"Oh here's a lot o' Swells!" cried the little boy, very much
delighted; and, when one of the gentlemen happened to smile at him,
he ran at the side of the omnibus, and began turning over and over
sideways on his hands, head down, head up, so that his hair went
flying, and you could see all the rents in his trousers: just like a
wheel he looked, turning and turning like mad. At last one of
the gentlemen threw him a penny, and away he ran. He never
came back to Bella. This caused a void in her bosom, and she
went wandering down the long broad street in search of Excitement,
though she did not know the name of the thing she was in search of.
The next remarkable place she came to was a shop called a
Restaurant. Inside were all manner of nice things to eat
and drink, with china plates, and silver forks, and flowers, and
waiters, and waitresses. And ladies and gentlemen were sitting
at little marble tables taking Refreshments, and as Bella looked at
the gentlemen, she thought of Bos-eye, and remembering the
appearance of the gentlemen she had seen upon the top of the
omnibus, she said to herself, "These also are Swells." And the
Swells were eating pleasant meats and green salads, which made Bella
feel as if she could go and find but a field and lie down and bite
the grass. But of all the things she saw in this place nothing
pleased her so much as the ices. For Bella had had a Penny Ice
one day, and knew an ice when she saw one. All girls are fond
of ices, and especially pink ices, such as these ladies were eating,
and Bella stood looking in at the door, with very large eyes and her
mouth wide open. That was quite rude of her, but she did not
know any better, and when at last one of the waiters came to the
door and hished at her, with a white napkin, as if she was a
puppy-dog, she went away, ashamed and miserable and angry.
The sun was very hot indeed, and the streets dry and dusty,
and Bella looked about in vain for Bos-eye, and then stood up
against a post feeling her skin dry and her mouth dry, and all over
dry, and quite uncomfortable and low. Just as she was in this
unhappy frame of mind, there came by a watering-cart, and, oh, how
refreshing it looked in the eyes of our Bella! The bright,
glittering jets of water made rainbows in the sun, and a longing,
longing thought came over Bella which she could not resist. So
she rushed up to the back of the cart, and laid hold of the water
pipe with both hands, and ducked up and down, and let the jets of
water play over her again and again till she was wet through nearly.
"Oh, how nice and cool!" thought Bella; and so it was, only she
looked like a drowned rat. This made a gentleman laugh so that
he gave her a threepenny piece, though why a gentleman should give a
street-girl a piece of silver because she looked like a drowned rat,
I cannot tell. And the gentleman walked off laughing.
Bella heard him say to another gentleman, "By Jove! it's as good as
a play!" and perhaps if it was it was worth threepence to him.
But all dry people do not like wet people, and Bella had not gone
many yards along the hot pavement before she heard a lady, who was
walking with another lady, say, in a fretful tone of voice, "That
wet girl is a nuisance." Now Bella did not know the meaning of
the word nuisance; but, looking behind, she saw that she had made
the pavement wet all the way as she came along. So she
concluded that life was very difficult, seeing one person called her
as good as a play and gave her a silver threepenny piece for being
dripping wet, while another said she was a nuisance. These
things made Bella somewhat melancholy, and she thought to herself―
"When I am confirmed I shall understand things, perhaps."
Then, for a moment, she seemed to hear the loud rolling
organ, and the sweet voices of the singers, and she felt better,
though she wished Bos-eye was with her to tell her how to spend her
money, and to share what she bought with it.
Just at that moment, a costermonger came by, wheeling a broad
barrow of fruit, and looking at Bella, as if he knew she was a
capitalist; and he made a noise, saying―
"Bella went up to the man's barrow, and shaking back her hair
and pointing with her finger, said―
"What's this a piece?"
"That's pineapple, miss," said the costermonger; "West-Injy
pine; a penny a slice."
"And what's the cherries?" asked little Bella.
"Cherries, my dear,'' says the costermonger, "a penny a
bunch; them in the bags twopence."
Now, what Bella wanted in her very heart to do was to buy a
slice of pine for a penny, and a bunch of cherries for a penny,
because this was a variety, and the slice of pine looked solid, like
bread and butter; but, unfortunately, just at that very moment, she
caught the eye of a lady fixed upon her, and thought to herself―
"It will be more genteel if I buy a bag of cherries."
There was no time for thought, for the costermonger gave his
barrow a push, and cried out once more--
So Bella bought a bag of cherries for twopence, and had only
one penny left of her silver piece.
The first thing she did, you may be quite sure, was to begin
upon her cherries, and very nice they were, and very great was her
joy in their niceness. Did you ever think how completely happy
young children are while they are eating pleasant things? But
in the midst of her joy, she had an unpleasant feeling, which it is
not easy for me to describe. You must consider that she had
heard the organ, and made a friend, and parted from a friend, and
had a shower-bath, and been tipped with silver, and been called a
nuisance, and that, after all, she was a human being, just like you
and me. Now, what was it she felt? She felt a sort of
vacancy, and a sort of vexation with herself; as if she wanted to go
to sleep and forget something. I do not understand these
things myself, but I know a gentleman who is a Moralist, and wears
spectacles, and always reads at breakfast; and he says Bella had
lost some of her Self-respect by buying cherries in a bag, in order
to be genteel, when what she wanted in her inmost bosom was a slice
of West-Indian pine, and a bunch of cherries for variety.
I wish I understood Morality, and Manners, and Society, and
things of that sort, and then I should know how much blame to lay on
the shoulders of the lady who, a few minutes before, had called
Bella a nuisance; for, though Bella did not know what a Nuisance
was, she felt as much lowered as if she had been called an
Abracadabra or a Parallelopipedon; and which is the worst of the
three, goodness only knows.
At the time at which these exciting events were happening to
our Bella, there was a place in our city called Leicester Square.
In the middle of this square was a statue that looked as if by tipsy
and reckless habits it had become poor and shabby; and all round was
rough, straggling grass, with a very few trees, that looked as
shabby as the statue. But when rain fell, the trees and the
grass smelt sweetly, as trees and grass always do, and I have with
my own eyes watched a sparrow pecking at the grass-seed in that very
square. Owing to causes which I cannot explain, not being
Chief Commissioner of Works, or a Bishop, or a Policeman, or
anything of that sort, there are places round this square at which
the railings have been broken, so that the children can creep in.
As the railings are of solid iron, I do not believe the children
themselves can have broken them, but I do know that I have seen
them, three or four at a time, creep in at a hole, head foremost,
exhibiting their little brown dusty thighs, and showing, by their
looks, that they felt guilty and insecure in what they were doing.
One of the children that strolled up and went in this day was our
The moment our Bella got inside, with the little bag of
cherries in her hand, she regretted the step she had taken; for
there were about as many children in the square as there were
cherries in her bag, and they all left off play to look at her, as
if they would like to eat her up, poor thing. There was one
little boy of whom special mention must be made. He was older
than Bella, and she considered that he was gorgeously dressed, and
of such genteel manners, that if he had been a man she would have
said to herself, "And here, also, is a Swell!"
Bella had not been many moments in the square when this young
gentleman walked up to her and commenced a conversation by asking if
she liked playing among the haycocks.
"Are they good to eat?" said Bella.
"No—oh!" answered the young gentleman, in a very impolite
manner―"aint you ever been in the
"No," said poor little Bella, blushing much. Indeed,
she felt so humbled, what to do. The little boy she was
conversing with was well-dressed, and she was shabby; he knew what a
haycock was, and she did not; he looked down upon her, and was rude
to her; and there was only one thing in which she was able to stand
against him. Now, what was that? The little boy was no
more a Moralist, or a Poet, or a Philosopher, than I am, and I will
bet anything he could not even spell Æsthetics;
so he had no idea that there were depths in Bella's child-woman's
eyes that there were not in his, or anything beautiful in her round
smooth brow more than in his square, rough, selfish forehead.
But Bella had the cherries. And when the boy was rude to her,
she turned red in the face, and had a little agony all to herself
(oh, what fine words are here; but things are finer than words, I
assure you!) and offered the cherries to the well-dressed boy and
they sat down under a tree, and ate them together. When they
had eaten them all, they turned over the cherry-stones in their
mouths, and Bella went fast asleep on the dry, half-yellow grass.
A long sleep she had, and a long dream, which I may some day
give an account of; but when she woke it was quite night! All
the other children had gone home to bed; and around her were the
gas-lamps of the pavement their with the shops, and the noisy people
making a sound like thunder tongues and their feet, as Bella woke
lonely and cold in the square. At first, Bella forgot that the
cherries had all been eaten, and felt for them at her side—but there
was only the bag, and that was burst; for the greedy little
gentleman had blown it out with his mouth, and popped it.
Now, it seemed to Bella that the people were all hurrying one
way, and she heard them crying, "Fire, Fire!" So she thought
to herself, "I should like to see a fire!" and up she got, and
scrambled round the square, till she found the hole she had got in
by, and so out into the street, when she followed the crowd.
And a long way she went, I can tell you, up one street and down
another, and still the sky was red in front of her, and still it got
redder and redder, and the crowd grew thicker and thicker. At
last she began to see smoke rising up from the fire, and the
weathercock of a church-steeple as bright as gold and brighter, and
the people kept on guessing what place it was that was burning.
"It's a coach-maker's!" said one.
"It's a boil-cloth factory!" said another.
"I smell the boil!" said a third.
"And I smells the turps!" said a fourth, as the crowd was
becoming so thick that poor little Bella was almost afraid of being
knocked down by the fellows; they do push so.
But a severe disappointment awaited her. The crowd was
so great that she could not, after all, get near enough to see the
fire: the mob was as long as a whole street of people, and she was
not much higher than my knee. What was the consequence?
She felt the heat; and saw the sparks flying overhead; she caught a
glimpse, once or twice, of a jet of water as it flew, and of the
curl of steam in which it was thrown back from the burning rafters;
and once, only once, she heard a crash, and then, while the flames
shot up so high that she could see real fire—think of
that!—she heard a great groan, a long "A-a-h!"――in
fact a sound I cannot print—from the thousands of men and women that
were there. Then the crowd swayed backwards and forwards, and
Bella said, "Oh, please don't scrouge!" and she felt, at the
roots of her hair, almost as she had felt in the morning at the
church door, when she heard the organ blow, and the children sing.
Now I have consulted a Critic, who writes in the papers,
and he tells me that according to the Laws of Art, I must not
describe the fire, because Bella did not see it. The thing she
really did see was a fire-engine, but everybody knows what a
fire-engine is like—it is just as if the thing that makes a train go
had got loose at a railway-station, and run wild in the street, with
men to ride it as if it was a horse, Oh, how it came tearing
"Ah-ah-ah!" cried the crowd, and cheered the firemen, and
made way for the engine, and some of them said—
"It's the Prince of Wales—hoo-ray!"
"Hoo-ray!" said Bella.
If there was one excitement which Bella desired more than
another, it was to behold the Prince of Wales, and the Princess of
Wales, to whom she was particularly partial, having seen their
picture, arm-in-arm, going to be married, presented gratis to the
subscribers to the Young Ladies' Companion, which was
regularly taken in by the girl at the beer-shop Bella knew best.
It is so hard to know what people do see, and what they do not see,
that I will not declare whether Bella did or did not set eyes on the
Prince, supposing him to have been on that fire-engine—why should we
want to be sure of everything, like bankers —and lawyers—and our
clergyman? But, before retiring to rest for the night, Bella
stated that she had seen the Prince and Princess of Wales on
a fire-engine. When I mentioned this to a friend who is a
Philosopher, he said it was a myth; though our clergyman maintained
it was a story, only he didn't say story exactly. Now, when I
told these things to my little daughter, she smiled with all her
huge antelope brown eyes, and, lifting her hand to let it fall with
a droop of apology, said―
"But, oh, papa, she had had such an Exciting Day!"