The Ingoldsby Legends
by Thomas Ingoldsby
First Series

1

THE INGOLDSBY LEGENDS.

The Spectre of Tappington.

“IT is very odd, though; what can have become of them?” said Charles Seaforth, as he peeped under the valance of an old-fashioned bedstead, in an old-fashioned apartment of a still more old-fashioned manor-house; “’tis confoundedly odd, and I can’t make it out at all. Why, Barney, where are they?—and where the d—l are you?”

No answer was returned to this appeal; and the lieutenant, who was, in the main, a reasonable person—at least as reasonable a person as any young gentleman of twenty-two in “the service” can fairly be expected to be—cooled when he reflected that his servant could scarcely reply extempore to a summons which it was impossible he should hear.

An application to the bell was the considerate result; and the footsteps of as tight a lad as ever put pipe-clay to belt, sounded along the gallery.

“Come in!” said his master. An ineffectual attempt upon the door reminded Mr. Seaforth that he had locked himself in. “By Heaven! this is the oddest thing of all,” said he, as he turned the key and admitted Mr. Maguire into his dormitory.

“Barney, where are my pantaloons?”

“Is it the breeches?” asked the valet, casting an inquiring eye round the apartment;—“is it the breeches, sir?”

“Yes; what have you done with them?”

“Sure then your honour had them on when you went to bed, and it’s hereabout they’ll be, I’ll be bail;” and Barney lifted a fashionable tunic from a cane-backed arm-chair, proceeding in his examination. But the search was vain: there was the tunic aforesaid; there was a smart-looking kerseymere waistcoat; but the most important article of all in a gentleman’s wardrobe was still wanting.

2

“Where can they be?” asked the master, with a strong accent on the auxiliary verb.

“Sorrow a know I knows,” said the man.

“It must have been the devil, then, after all, who has been here and carried them off!” cried Seaforth, staring full into Barney’s face.

Mr. Maguire was not devoid of the superstition of his countrymen, still he looked as if he did not quite subscribe to the sequitur.

His master read incredulity in his countenance. “Why, I tell you, Barney, I put them there, on that arm-chair, when I got into bed; and, by Heaven! I distinctly saw the ghost of the old fellow they told me of, come in at midnight, put on my pantaloons, and walk away with them.”

“May be so,” was the cautious reply.

“I thought, of course, it was a dream; but then—where the d—l are the breeches?”

The question was more easily asked than answered. Barney renewed his search, while the lieutenant folded his arms, and, leaning against the toilet, sank into a reverie.

“After all, it must be some trick of my laughter-loving cousins,” said Seaforth.

“Ah! then, the ladies!” chimed in Mr. Maguire, though the observation was not addressed to him; “and will it be Miss Caroline or Miss Fanny, that’s stole your honour’s things?”

“I hardly know what to think of it,” pursued the bereaved lieutenant, still speaking in soliloquy, with his eye resting dubiously on the chamber-door. “I locked myself in, that’s certain; and—but there must be some other entrance to the room—pooh! I remember—the private staircase; how could I be such a fool?” and he crossed the chamber to where a low oaken doorcase was dimly visible in a distant corner. He paused before it. Nothing now interfered to screen it from observation; but it bore tokens of having been at some earlier period concealed by tapestry, remains of which yet clothed the walls on either side the portal.

“This way they must have come,” said Seaforth; “I wish with all my heart I had caught them!”

“Och! the kittens!” sighed Mr. Barney Maguire.

But the mystery was yet as far from being solved as before. True, there was the “other door;” but then that, too, on examination, was even more firmly secured than the one which opened on the gallery,—two heavy bolts on the inside effectually prevented any coup de main on the lieutenant’s bivouac from that quarter. He was more puzzled than ever; nor did the minutest inspection of the walls and floor throw any light upon the subject: one thing 3 only was clear,—the breeches were gone! “It is very singular,” said the lieutenant.

Tappington (generally called Tapton) Everard is an antiquated but commodious manor-house in the eastern division of the county of Kent. A former proprietor had been high-sheriff in the days of Elizabeth, and many a dark and dismal tradition was yet extant of the licentiousness of his life, and the enormity of his offences. The Glen, which the keeper’s daughter was seen to enter, but never known to quit, still frowns darkly as of yore; while an ineradicable bloodstain on the oaken stair yet bids defiance to the united energies of soap and sand. But it is with one particular apartment that a deed of more especial atrocity is said to be connected. A stranger guest—so runs the legend—arrived unexpectedly at the mansion of the “Bad Sir Giles.” They met in apparent friendship; but the ill-concealed scowl on their master’s brow told the domestics that the visit was not a welcome one; the banquet, however, was not spared; the wine cup circulated freely,—too freely, perhaps, for sounds of discord at length reached the ears of even the excluded serving-men, as they were doing their best to imitate their betters in the lower hall. Alarmed, some of them ventured to approach the parlour; one, an old and favoured retainer of the house, went so far as to break in upon his master’s privacy. Sir Giles, already high in oath, fiercely enjoined his absence, and he retired; not, however, before he had distinctly heard from the stranger’s lips a menace that “there was that within his pocket which could disprove the knight’s right to issue that or any other command within the walls of Tapton.”

The intrusion, though momentary, seemed to have produced a beneficial effect; the voices of the disputants fell, and the conversation was carried on thenceforth in a more subdued tone, till, as evening closed in, the domestics, when summoned to attend with lights, found not only cordiality restored, but that a still deeper carouse was meditated. Fresh stoups, and from the choicest bins, were produced; nor was it till at a late, or rather early hour, that the revellers sought their chambers.

The one allotted to the stranger occupied the first floor of the eastern angle of the building, and had once been the favourite apartment of Sir Giles himself. Scandal ascribed this preference to the facility which a private staircase, communicating with the grounds, had afforded him, in the old knight’s time, of following his wicked courses unchecked by parental observation; a consideration which ceased to be of weight when the death of his father left him uncontrolled master of his estate and actions. From that period Sir Giles 4 had established himself in what were called the “state apartments,” and the “oaken chamber” was rarely tenanted, save on occasions of extraordinary festivity, or when the yule log drew an unusually large accession of guests around the Christmas hearth.

On this eventful night it was prepared for the unknown visitor, who sought his couch heated and inflamed from his midnight orgies, and in the morning was found in his bed a swollen and blackened corpse. No marks of violence appeared upon the body; but the livid hue of the lips, and certain dark-coloured spots visible on the skin, aroused suspicions which those who entertained them were too timid to express. Apoplexy, induced by the excesses of the preceding night, Sir Giles’s confidential leech pronounced to be the cause of his sudden dissolution. The body was buried in peace; and though some shook their heads as they witnessed the haste with which the funeral rites were hurried on, none ventured to murmur. Other events arose to distract the attention of the retainers; men’s minds became occupied by the stirring politics of the day; while the near approach of that formidable armada, so vainly arrogating to itself a title which the very elements joined with human valour to disprove, soon interfered to weaken, if not obliterate, all remembrance of the nameless stranger who had died within the walls of Tapton Everard.

Years rolled on: the “bad Sir Giles” had himself long since gone to his account, the last, as it was believed, of his immediate line; though a few of the older tenants were sometimes heard to speak of an elder brother, who had disappeared in early life, and never inherited the estate. Rumours, too, of his having left a son in foreign lands, were at one time rife; but they died away, nothing occurring to support them: the property passed unchallenged to a collateral branch of the family, and the secret, if secret there were, was buried in Denton churchyard, in the lonely grave of the mysterious stranger. One circumstance alone occurred, after a long-intervening period, to revive the memory of these transactions. Some workmen employed in grubbing an old plantation, for the purpose of raising on its site a modern shrubbery, dug up, in the execution of their task, the mildewed remnants of what seemed to have been once a garment. On more minute inspection, enough remained of silken slashes and a coarse embroidery, to identify the relics as having once formed part of a pair of trunk hose; while a few papers which fell from them, altogether illegible from damp and age, were by the unlearned rustics conveyed to the then owner of the estate.

Whether the squire was more successful in deciphering them was never known; he certainly never alluded to their contents; and little would have been thought of the matter but for the inconvenient 5 memory of an old woman, who declared she heard her grandfather say, that when the “stranger guest” was poisoned, though all the rest of his clothes were there, his breeches, the supposed repository of the supposed documents, could never be found. The master of Tapton Everard smiled when he heard Dame Jones’s hint of deeds which might impeach the validity of his own title in favour of some unknown descendant of some unknown heir; and the story was rarely alluded to, save by one or two miracle-mongers, who had heard that others had seen the ghost of old Sir Giles, in his night-cap, issue from the postern, enter the adjoining copse, and wring his shadowy hands in agony, as he seemed to search vainly for something hidden among the evergreens. The stranger’s death-room had, of course, been occasionally haunted from the time of his decease; but the periods of visitation had latterly become very rare—even Mrs. Botherby, the housekeeper, being forced to admit that during her long sojourn at the manor, she had never “met with anything worse than herself;” though, as the old lady afterwards added upon more mature reflection, “I must say I think I saw the devil once.”

Such was the legend attached to Tapton Everard, and such the story which the lively Caroline Ingoldsby detailed to her equally mercurial cousin, Charles Seaforth, lieutenant in the Hon. East India Company’s second regiment of Bombay Fencibles, as arm-in-arm they promenaded a gallery decked with some dozen grim-looking ancestral portraits, and, among others, with that of the redoubted Sir Giles himself. The gallant commander had that very morning paid his first visit to the house of his maternal uncle, after an absence of several years passed with his regiment on the arid plains of Hindostan, whence he was now returned on a three years’ furlough. He had gone out a boy—he returned a man; but the impression made upon his youthful fancy by his favourite cousin remained unimpaired, and to Tapton he directed his steps, even before he sought the home of his widowed mother,—comforting himself in this breach of filial decorum by the reflection that, as the manor was so little out of his way, it would be unkind to pass, as it were, the door of his relatives, without just looking in for a few hours.

But he found his uncle as hospitable, and his cousin more charming than ever; and the looks of one, and the requests of the other, soon precluded the possibility of refusing to lengthen the “few hours” into a few days, though the house was at the moment full of visitors.

The Peterses were there from Ramsgate; and Mr., Mrs., and the two Miss Simpkinsons, from Bath, had come to pass a month with the family; and Tom Ingoldsby had brought down his college friend the Honourable Augustus Sucklethumbkin, with his groom 6 and pointers, to take a fortnight’s shooting. And then there was Mrs. Ogleton, the rich young widow, with her large black eyes, who, people did say, was setting her cap at the young squire, though Mrs. Botherby did not believe it; and, above all, there was Mademoiselle Pauline, her femme de chambre, who “mon-Dieu’d” everything and everybody, and cried “Quel horreur!” at Mrs. Botherby’s cap. In short, to use the last-named and much-respected lady’s own expression, the house was “choke-full” to the very attics,—all save the “oaken chamber,” which, as the lieutenant expressed a most magnanimous disregard of ghosts, was forthwith appropriated to his particular accommodation. Mr. Maguire meanwhile was fain to share the apartment of Oliver Dobbs, the squire’s own man: a jocular proposal of joint occupancy having been first indignantly rejected by “Mademoiselle,” though preferred with the “laste taste in life” of Mr. Barney’s most insinuating brogue.

drawing of lady in oval frame

“Come, Charles, the urn is absolutely getting cold; your breakfast will be quite spoiled: what can have made you so idle?” Such was the morning salutation of Miss Ingoldsby to the militaire as he entered the breakfast-room half-an-hour after the latest of the party.

“A pretty gentleman, truly, to make an appointment with,” chimed in Miss Frances. “What is become of our ramble to the rocks before breakfast?”

“Oh! the young men never think of keeping a promise now,” said Mrs. Peters, a little ferret-faced woman with underdone eyes.

“When I was a young man,” said Mr. Peters, “I remember I always made a point of——”

“Pray, how long ago was that?” asked Mr. Simpkinson from Bath.

“Why, sir, when I married Mrs. Peters, I was—let me see—I was——”

“Do pray hold your tongue, P., and eat your breakfast!” interrupted his better half, who had a mortal horror of chronological references; “it’s very rude to tease people with your family affairs.”

The lieutenant had by this time taken his seat in silence—a good-humoured nod, and a glance, half-smiling, half-inquisitive, being the extent of his salutation. Smitten as he was, and in the immediate presence of her who had made so large a hole in his heart, his manner was evidently distrait, which the fair Caroline in her secret soul attributed to his being solely occupied by her agrémens: how would she have bridled had she known that they only shared his meditations with a pair of breeches!

Charles drank his coffee and spiked some half-dozen eggs, darting occasionally a penetrating glance at the ladies, in hope of detecting 7 the supposed waggery by the evidence of some furtive smile or conscious look. But in vain; not a dimple moved indicative of roguery, nor did the slightest elevation of eyebrow rise confirmative of his suspicions. Hints and insinuations passed unheeded—more particular inquiries were out of the question:—the subject was unapproachable.

In the meantime, “patent cords” were just the thing for a morning’s ride; and, breakfast ended, away cantered the party over the downs, till, every faculty absorbed by the beauties, animate and inanimate, which surrounded him, Lieutenant Seaforth of the Bombay Fencibles bestowed no more thought upon his breeches than if he had been born on the top of Ben Lomond.

Another night had passed away; the sun rose brilliantly, forming with his level beams a splendid rainbow in the far-off west, whither the heavy cloud, which for the last two hours had been pouring its waters on the earth, was now flying before him.

“Ah! then, and it’s little good it’ll be the claning of ye,” apostrophised Mr. Barney Maguire, as he deposited, in front of his master’s toilet, a pair of “bran new” jockey boots, one of Hoby’s primest fits, which the lieutenant had purchased in his way through town. On that very morning had they come for the first time under the valet’s depurating hand, so little soiled, indeed, from the turfy ride of the preceding day, that a less scrupulous domestic might, perhaps, have considered the application of “Warren’s Matchless,” or oxalic acid, altogether superfluous. Not so, Barney: with the nicest care had he removed the slightest impurity from each polished surface, and there they stood, rejoicing in their sable radiance. No wonder a pang shot across Mr. Maguire’s breast, as he thought on the work now cut out for them, so different from the light labours of the day before; no wonder he murmured with a sigh, as the scarce dried window-panes disclosed a road now inch deep in mud. “Ah! then, it’s little good the claning of ye!”—for well had he learned in the hall below that eight miles of a stiff clay soil lay between the manor and Bolsover Abbey, whose picturesque ruins,

“Like ancient Rome, majestic in decay,”

the party had determined to explore. The master had already commenced dressing, and the man was fitting straps upon a light pair of crane-necked spurs, when his hand was arrested by the old question—“Barney, where are the breeches?”

They were nowhere to be found!

8

Mr. Seaforth descended that morning, whip in hand, and equipped in a handsome green riding-frock, but no “breeches and boots to match” were there: loose jean trousers, surmounting a pair of diminutive Wellingtons, embraced, somewhat incongruously, his nether man, vice the “patent cords,” returned, like yesterday’s pantaloons, absent without leave. The “top-boots” had a holiday.

“A fine morning after the rain,” said Mr. Simpkinson from Bath.

“Just the thing for the ’ops,” said Mr. Peters. “I remember when I was a boy——”

“Do hold your tongue. P.,” said Mrs. Peters—advice which that exemplary matron was in the constant habit of administering to “her P.,” as she called him, whenever he prepared to vent his reminiscences. Her precise reason for this it would be difficult to determine, unless, indeed, the story be true which a little bird had whispered into Mrs. Botherby’s ear—Mr. Peters, though now a wealthy man, had received a liberal education at a charity school, and was apt to recur to the days of his muffin-cap and leathers. As usual, he took his wife’s hint in good part, and “paused in his reply.”

“A glorious day for the ruins!” said young Ingoldsby. “But Charles, what the deuce are you about? you don’t mean to ride through our lanes in such toggery as that?”

“Lassy me!” said Miss Julia Simpkinson, “won’t you be very wet?”

“You had better take Tom’s cab,” quoth the squire.

But this proposition was at once overruled; Mrs. Ogleton had already nailed the cab, a vehicle of all others the best adapted for a snug flirtation.

“Or drive Miss Julia in the phaeton?” No; that was the post of Mr. Peters, who, indifferent as an equestrian, had acquired some fame as a whip while travelling through the midland counties for the firm of Bagshaw, Snivelby, and Ghrimes.

“Thank you, I shall ride with my cousins,” said Charles, with as much nonchalance as he could assume—and he did so; Mr. Ingoldsby, Mrs. Peters, Mr. Simpkinson from Bath, and his eldest daughter with her album, following in the family coach. The gentleman-commoner “voted the affair d—d slow,” and declined the party altogether in favour of the gamekeeper and a cigar. “There was ‘no fun’ in looking at old houses!” Mrs. Simpkinson preferred a short séjour in the still-room with Mrs. Botherby, who had promised to initiate her in that grand arcanum, the transmutation of gooseberry jam into Guava jelly.

“Did you ever see an old abbey before, Mr. Peters?”

9

“Yes, miss, a French one; we have got one at Ramsgate; he teaches the Miss Joneses to parley-voo, and is turned of sixty.”

Miss Simpkinson closed her album with an air of ineffable disdain.

Mr. Simpkinson from Bath was a professed antiquary, and one of the first water; he was master of Gwillim’s Heraldry, and Mills’s History of the Crusades; knew every plate in the Monasticon; had written an essay on the origin and dignity of the office of overseer, and settled the date on a Queen Anne’s farthing. An influential member of the Antiquarian Society, to whose “Beauties of Bagnigge Wells” he had been a liberal subscriber, procured him a seat at the board of that learned body, since which happy epoch Sylvanus Urban had not a more indefatigable correspondent. His inaugural essay on the President’s cocked hat was considered a miracle of erudition; and his account of the earliest application of gilding to gingerbread, a masterpiece of antiquarian research. His eldest daughter was of a kindred spirit: if her father’s mantle had not fallen upon her, it was only because he had not thrown it off himself; she had caught hold of its tail, however, while it yet hung upon his honoured shoulders. To souls so congenial, what a sight was the magnificent ruin of Bolsover! its broken arches, its mouldering pinnacles, and the airy tracery of its half-demolished windows. The party were in raptures; Mr. Simpkinson began to meditate an essay, and his daughter an ode: even Seaforth, as he gazed on these lonely relics of the olden time, was betrayed into a momentary forgetfulness of his love and losses: the widow’s eyeglass turned from her cicisbeo’s whiskers to the mantling ivy: Mrs. Peters wiped her spectacles; and “her P.” supposed the central tower “had once been the county jail.” The squire was a philosopher, and had been there often before, so he ordered out the cold tongue and chickens.

“Bolsover Priory,” said Mr. Simpkinson, with the air of a connoisseur,—“Bolsover Priory was founded in the reign of Henry the Sixth, about the beginning of the eleventh century. Hugh de Bolsover had accompanied that monarch to the Holy Land in the expedition undertaken by way of penance for the murder of his young nephews in the Tower. Upon the dissolution of the monasteries, the veteran was enfeoffed in the lands and manor, to which he gave his own name of Bowlsover, or Bee-owls-over (by corruption Bolsover,)—a Bee in chief, over three Owls, all proper, being the armorial ensigns borne by this distinguished crusader at the siege of Acre.”

“Ah! that was Sir Sidney Smith,” said Mr. Peters; “I’ve heard tell of him, and all about Mrs. Partington, and——”

10

“P. be quiet, and don’t expose yourself!” sharply interrupted his lady. P. was silenced, and betook himself to the bottled stout.

“These lands,” continued the antiquary, “were held in grand serjeantry by the presentation of three white owls and a pot of honey——”

“Lassy me! how nice!” said Miss Julia. Mr. Peters licked his lips.

“Pray give me leave, my dear—owls and honey, whenever the king should come a rat-catching into this part of the country.”

“Rat-catching!” ejaculated the squire, pausing abruptly in the mastication of a drumstick.

“To be sure, my dear sir: don’t you remember the rats once came under the forest laws—a minor species of venison? ‘Rats and mice, and such small deer,’ eh?—Shakspeare, you know. Our ancestors ate rats (‘The nasty fellows!’ shuddered Miss Julia, in a parenthesis); and owls, you know, are capital mousers——”

“I’ve seen a howl,” said Mr. Peters; “there’s one in the Sohological Gardens,—a little hook-nosed chap in a wig,—only its feathers and——”

Poor P. was destined never to finish a speech.

Do be quiet!” cried the authoritative voice; and the would-be naturalist shrank into his shell, like a snail in the “Sohological Gardens.”

“You should read Blount’s ‘Jocular Tenures,’ Mr. Ingoldsby,” pursued Simpkinson. “A learned man was Blount! Why, sir, His Royal Highness the Duke of York once paid a silver horseshoe to Lord Ferrers——”

“I’ve heard of him,” broke in the incorrigible Peters; “he was hanged at the Old Bailey in a silk rope for shooting Dr. Johnson.”

The antiquary vouchsafed no notice of the interruption; but, taking a pinch of snuff, continued his harangue.

“A silver horse-shoe, sir, which is due from every scion of royalty who rides across one of his manors; and, if you look into the penny county histories, now publishing by an eminent friend of mine, you will find that Langhale in Co. Norf. was held by one Baldwin per saltum, sufflatum, et pettum; that is, he was to come every Christmas into Westminster Hall, there to take a leap, cry hem! and——”

“Mr. Simpkinson, a glass of sherry?” cried Tom Ingoldsby, hastily.

“Not any, thank you, sir. This Baldwin, surnamed Le——”

“Mrs. Ogleton challenges you, sir; she insists upon it,” said Tom, still more rapidly, at the same time filling a glass, and forcing it 11 on the sçavant, who, thus arrested in the very crisis of his narrative, received and swallowed the potation as if it had been physic.

“What on earth has Miss Simpkinson discovered there?” continued Tom; “something of interest. See how fast she is writing.”

The diversion was effectual; every one looked towards Miss Simpkinson, who, far too ethereal for “creature comforts,” was seated apart on the dilapidated remains of an altar-tomb, committing eagerly to paper something that had strongly impressed her; the air—the eye in a “fine frenzy rolling,”—all betokened that the divine afflatus was come. Her father rose and stole silently towards her.

“What an old boar!” muttered young Ingoldsby; alluding perhaps, to a slice of brawn which he had just begun to operate upon, but which, from the celerity with which it disappeared, did not seem so very difficult of mastication.

But what had become of Seaforth and his fair Caroline all this while? Why, it so happened that they had been simultaneously stricken with the picturesque appearance of one of those high and pointed arches, which that eminent antiquary, Mr. Horseley Curties, has described in his “Ancient records,” as “a Gothic window of the Saxon order;” and then the ivy clustered so thickly and so beautifully on the other side, that they went round to look at that; and then their proximity deprived it of half its effect, and so they walked across to a little knoll, a hundred yards off, and in crossing a small ravine, they came to what in Ireland they call “a bad step,” and Charles had to carry his cousin over it; and then when they had to come back, she would not give him the trouble again for the world, so they followed a better but more circuitous route, and there were hedges and ditches in the way, and stiles to get over and gates to get through, so that an hour or more had elapsed before they were able to rejoin the party.

“Lassy me!” said Miss Julia Simpkinson, “how long you have been gone!”

And so they had. The remark was a very just as well as a very natural one. They were gone a long while, and a nice cosy chat they had; and what do you think it was all about, my dear miss?

“O, lassy me! love, no doubt, and the moon, and eyes, and nightingales, and——”

Stay, stay, my sweet young lady; do not let the fervour of your feelings run away with you! I do not pretend to say, indeed, that one or more of these pretty subjects might not have been introduced; but the most important and leading topic of the conference was—Lieutenant Seaforth’s breeches.

“Caroline,” said Charles, “I have had some very odd dreams since I have been at Tappington.”

12

“Dreams, have you?” smiled the young lady, arching her taper neck like a swan in pluming. “Dreams, have you?”

“Ay, dreams,—or dream, perhaps, I should say; for, though repeated, it was still the same. And what do you imagine was its subject?”

“It is impossible for me to divine,” said the tongue;—“I have not the least difficulty in guessing,” said the eye, as plainly as ever eye spoke.

“I dreamt—of your great-grandfather!”

There was a change in the glance—“My great-grandfather?”

“Yes, the old Sir Giles, or Sir John, you told me about the other day: he walked into my bedroom in his short cloak of murrey-coloured velvet, his long rapier, and his Raleigh-looking hat and feather, just as the picture represents him; but with one exception.”

“And what was that?”

“Why, his lower extremities, which were visible, were those of a skeleton.”

“Well?”

“Well, after taking a turn or two about the room, and looking round him with a wistful air, he came to the bed’s foot, stared at me in a manner impossible to describe,—and then he—he laid hold of my pantaloons; whipped his long bony legs into them in a twinkling; and strutting up to the glass, seemed to view himself in it with great complacency. I tried to speak, but in vain. The effort, however, seemed to excite his attention; for, wheeling about, he showed me the grimmest-looking death’s head you can well imagine, and with an indescribable grin strutted out of the room.”

“Absurd! Charles. How can you talk such nonsense?”

“But, Caroline,—the breeches are really gone.”

skeleton in 16th-century attire, carrying a rapier

On the following morning, contrary to his usual custom, Seaforth was the first person in the breakfast parlour. As no one else was present, he did precisely what nine young men out of ten so situated would have done; he walked up to the mantelpiece, established himself upon the rug, and subducting his coat-tails one under each arm, turned towards the fire that portion of the human frame which it is considered equally indecorous to present to a friend or an enemy. A serious, not to say anxious, expression was visible upon his good-humoured countenance, and his mouth was fast buttoning itself up for an incipient whistle, when little Flo, a tiny spaniel of the Blenheim breed,—the pet object of Miss Julia Simpkinson’s affections,—bounced out from beneath a sofa, and began to bark at—his pantaloons.

They were cleverly “built,” of a light-grey mixture, a broad stripe 13 of the most vivid scarlet traversing each seam in a perpendicular direction from hip to ankle—in short, the regimental costume of the Royal Bombay Fencibles. The animal, educated in the country, had never seen such a pair of breeches in her life—Omne ignotnm pro magnifico! The scarlet streak, inflamed as it was by the reflection of the fire, seemed to act on Flora’s nerves as the same colour does on those of bulls and turkeys; she advanced at the pas de charge, and her vociferation, like her amazement, was unbounded. A sound kick from the disgusted officer changed its character, and induced a retreat at the very moment when the mistress of the pugnacious quadruped entered to the rescue.

“Lassy me! Flo, what is the matter?” cried the sympathising lady, with a scrutinising glance levelled at the gentleman.

It might as well have lighted on a feather bed. His air of imperturbable unconsciousness defied examination; and as he would not, and Flora could not, expound, that injured individual was compelled to pocket up her wrongs. Others of the household soon dropped in, and clustered round the board dedicated to the most sociable of meals; the urn was paraded “hissing hot,” and the cups which “cheer, but not inebriate,” steamed redolent of hyson and pekoe; muffins and marmalade, newspapers and Finnon haddies, left little room for observation on the character of Charles’s warlike “turn-out.” At length a look from Caroline, followed by a smile that nearly ripened to a titter, caused him to turn abruptly and address his neighbour. It was Miss Simpkinson, who, deeply engaged in sipping her tea and turning over her album, seemed, like a female Chrononotonthologos, “immersed in cogibundity of cogitation.” An interrogatory on the subject of her studies drew from her the confession that she was at that moment employed in putting the finishing touches to a poem inspired by the romantic shades of Bolsover. The entreaties of the company were of course urgent. Mr. Peters, “who liked verses,” was especially persevering, and Sappho at length compliant. After a preparatory hem! and a glance at the mirror to ascertain that her look was sufficiently sentimental, the poetess began:—

“There is a calm, a holy feeling,

Vulgar minds can never know,

O’er the bosom softly stealing,—

Chasten’d grief, delicious woe!

Oh! how sweet at eve regaining

Yon lone tower’s sequester’d shade—

Sadly mute and uncomplaining——”

—Yow!—yeough!—yeough!—yow!—yow! yelled a hapless sufferer 14 from beneath the table. It was an unlucky hour for quadrupeds; and if “every dog will have his day,” he could not have selected a more unpropitious one than this. Mrs. Ogleton, too, had a pet,—a favourite pug,—whose squab figure, black muzzle, and tortuosity of tail, that curled like a head of celery in a salad-bowl, bespoke his Dutch extraction. Yow! yow! yow! continued the brute,—a chorus in which Flo instantly joined. Sooth to say, pug had more reason to express his dissatisfaction than was given him by the muse of Simpkinson; the other only barked for company. Scarcely had the poetess got through her first stanza, when Tom Ingoldsby, in the enthusiasm of the moment, became so lost in the material world, that, in his abstraction, he unwarily laid his hand on the cock of the urn. Quivering with emotion, he gave it such an unlucky twist, that the full stream of its scalding contents descended on the gingerbread hide of the unlucky Cupid. The confusion was complete; the whole economy of the table disarranged—the company broke up in most admired disorder—and “vulgar minds will never know” anything more of Miss Simpkinson’s ode till they peruse it in some forthcoming Annual.

Seaforth profited by the confusion to take the delinquent who had caused this “stramash” by the arm, and to lead him to the lawn, where he had a word or two for his private ear. The conference between the young gentlemen was neither brief in its duration nor unimportant in its result. The subject was what the lawyers call tripartite, embracing the information that Charles Seaforth was over head and ears in love with Tom Ingoldsby’s sister; secondly, that the lady had referred him to “papa” for his sanction; thirdly and lastly, his nightly visitations, and consequent bereavement. At the two first items Tom smiled auspiciously—at the last he burst out into an absolute “guffaw.”

“Steal your breeches! Miss Bailey over again, by Jove,” shouted Ingoldsby. “But a gentleman, you say,—and Sir Giles too. I am not sure, Charles, whether I ought not to call you out for aspersing the honour of the family.”

“Laugh as you will, Tom,—be as incredulous as you please. One fact is incontestable—the breeches are gone! Look here—I am reduced to my regimentals; and if these go, to-morrow I must borrow of you!”

Rochefoucault says, there is something in the misfortunes of our very best friends that does not displease us; assuredly we can, most of us, laugh at their petty inconveniences, till called upon to supply them. Tom composed his features on the instant, and replied with more gravity, as well as with an expletive, which, if my Lord Mayor had been within hearing, might have cost him five shillings.

15

“There is something very queer in this, after all. The clothes, you say, have positively disappeared. Somebody is playing you a trick; and, ten to one, your servant has a hand in it. By the way, I heard something yesterday of his kicking up a bobbery in the kitchen, and seeing a ghost, or something of that kind, himself. Depend upon it, Barney is in the plot.”

It now struck the lieutenant at once, that the usually buoyant spirits of his attendant had of late been materially sobered down, his loquacity obviously circumscribed, and that he, the said lieutenant, had actually rung his bell three several times that very morning before he could procure his attendance. Mr. Maguire was forthwith summoned, and underwent a close examination. The “bobbery” was easily explained. Mr. Oliver Dobbs had hinted his disapprobation of a flirtation carrying on between the gentleman from Munster and the lady from the Rue St. Honoré. Mademoiselle had boxed Mr. Maguire’s ears, and Mr. Maguire had pulled Mademoiselle upon his knee, and the lady had not cried Mon Dieu! And Mr. Oliver Dobbs said it was very wrong; and Mrs. Botherby said it was “scandalous,” and what ought not to be done in any moral kitchen; and Mr. Maguire had got hold of the Honourable Augustus Sucklethumbkin’s powder-flask, and had put large pinches of the best Double Dartford into Mr. Dobbs’s tobacco-box; and Mr. Dobbs’s pipe had exploded, and set fire to Mrs. Botherby’s Sunday cap; and Mr. Maguire had put it out with the slop-basin, “barring the wig;” and then they were all so “cantankerous,” that Barney had gone to take a walk in the garden; and then—then Mr. Barney had seen a ghost.

“A what? you blockhead!” asked Tom Ingoldsby.

“Sure then, and it’s meself will tell your honour the rights of it,” said the ghost-seer. “Meself and Miss Pauline, sir,—or Miss Pauline and meself, for the ladies comes first anyhow,—we got tired of the hobstroppylous scrimmaging among the ould servants, that didn’t know a joke when they seen one: and we went out to look at the comet,—that’s the rorybory-alehouse, they calls him in this country,—and we walked upon the lawn,—and divil of any alehouse there was there at all; and Miss Pauline said it was bekase of the shrubbery maybe, and why wouldn’t we see it better beyonst the trees? and so we went to the trees, but sorrow a comet did meself see there, barring a big ghost instead of it.”

“A ghost? And what sort of a ghost, Barney?”

“Och, then, divil a lie I’ll tell your honour. A tall ould gentleman he was, all in white, with a shovel on the shoulder of him, and a big torch in his fist,—though what he wanted with that it’s meself can’t tell, for his eyes were like gig-lamps, let alone the moon and 16 the comet, which wasn’t there at all:—and ‘Barney,’ says he to me,—’cause why he knew me,—‘Barney,’ says he, ‘what is it you’re doing with the colleen there, Barney?’—Divil a word did I say. Miss Pauline screeched, and cried murther in French, and ran off with herself; and of course meself was in a mighty hurry after the lady, and had no time to stop palavering with him any way: so I dispersed at once, and the ghost vanished in a flame of fire!”

Mr. Maguire’s account was received with avowed incredulity by both gentlemen; but Barney stuck to his text with unflinching pertinacity. A reference to Mademoiselle was suggested, but abandoned, as neither party had a taste for delicate investigations.

“I’ll tell you what, Seaforth,” said Ingoldsby, after Barney had received his dismissal, “that there is a trick here, is evident; and Barney’s vision may possibly be a part of it. Whether he is most knave or fool, you best know. At all events, I will sit up with you to-night, and see if I can convert my ancestor into a visiting acquaintance. Meanwhile your finger on your lip!”

“’Twas now the very witching time of night,

When churchyards yawn, and graves give up their dead.”

Gladly would I grace my tale with decent horror, and therefore I do beseech the “gentle reader” to believe, that if all the succedanea to this mysterious narrative are not in strict keeping, he will ascribe it only to the disgraceful innovations of modern degeneracy upon the sober and dignified habits of our ancestors, I can introduce him, it is true, into an old and high-roofed chamber, its walls covered on three sides with black oak wainscoting, adorned with carvings of fruit and flowers long anterior to those of Grinling Gibbons; the fourth side is clothed with a curious remnant of dingy tapestry, once elucidatory of some Scriptural history, but of which not even Mrs. Botherby could determine. Mr. Simpkinson, who had examined it carefully, inclined to believe the principal figure to be either Bathsheba, or Daniel in the lion’s den; while Tom Ingoldsby decided in favour of the King of Bashan. All, however, was conjecture, tradition being silent on the subject. A lofty arched portal led into, and a little arched portal led out of, this apartment; they were opposite each other, and each possessed the security of massy bolts on its interior. The bedstead, too, was not one of yesterday, but manifestly coeval with days ere Seddons was, and when a good four-post “article” was deemed worthy of being a royal bequest. The bed itself, with all the appurtenances of palliasse, mattresses, etc., was of far later date, and looked most incongruously comfortable; the casements, too, with their little diamond-shaped panes and iron 17 binding, had given way to the modern heterodoxy of the sash-window. Nor was this all that conspired to ruin the costume, and render the room a meet haunt for such “mixed spirits” only as could condescend to don at the same time an Elizabethan doublet and Bond-Street inexpressibles.

With their green morocco slippers on a modern fender, in front of a disgracefully modern grate, sat two young gentlemen, clad in “shawl-pattern” dressing-gowns and black silk stocks, much at variance with the high cane-backed chairs which supported them. A bunch of abomination, called a cigar, reeked in the left-hand corner of the mouth of one, and in the right-hand corner of the mouth of the other—an arrangement happily adapted for the escape of the noxious fumes up the chimney, without that unmerciful “funking” each other, which a less scientific disposition of the weed would have induced. A small pembroke table filled up the intervening space between them, sustaining, at each extremity, an elbow and a glass of toddy—thus in “lonely pensive contemplation” were the two worthies occupied, when the “iron tongue of midnight had tolled twelve.”

“Ghost-time’s come!” said Ingoldsby, taking from his waistcoat pocket a watch like a gold half-crown, and consulting it as though he suspected the turret-clock over the stables of mendacity.

“Hush!” said Charles; “did I not hear a footstep?”

There was a pause:—there was a footstep—it sounded distinctly—it reached the door—it hesitated, stopped, and—passed on.

Tom darted across the room, threw open the door, and became aware of Mrs. Botherby toddling to her chamber, at the other end of the gallery, after dozing one of the housemaids with an approved julep from the Countess of Kent’s Choice Manual.

“Good-night, sir!” said Mrs. Botherby.

“Go to the d—l!” said the disappointed ghost-hunter.

An hour—two—rolled on, and still no spectral visitation; nor did aught intervene to make night hideous; and when the turret-clock sounded at length the hour of three, Ingoldsby, whose patience and grog were alike exhausted, sprang from his chair, saying—

“This is all infernal nonsense, my good fellow. Deuce of any ghost shall we see to-night; it’s long past the canonical hour. I’m off to bed; and as to your breeches, I’ll insure them for the next twenty-four hours at least, at the price of the buckram.”

“Certainly.—Oh! thank’ee—to be sure!” stammered Charles, rousing himself from a reverie, which had degenerated into an absolute snooze.

“Good-night, my boy! Bolt the door behind me; and defy the Pope, the Devil, and the Pretender!”

18

Seaforth followed his friend’s advice, and the next morning came down to breakfast dressed in the habiliments of the preceding day. The charm was broken, the demon defeated; the light greys with the red stripe down the seams were yet in rerum naturâ, and adorned the person of their lawful proprietor.

Tom felicitated himself and his partner of the watch on the result of their vigilance; but there is a rustic adage, which warns us against self-gratulation before we are quite “out of the wood,”—Seaforth was yet within its verge.

A rap at Tom Ingoldsby’s door the following morning startled him as he was shaving—he cut his chin.

“Come in, and be d—d to you!” said the martyr, pressing his thumb on the scarified epidermis. The door opened, and exhibited Mr. Barney Maguire.

“Well, Barney, what is it?” quoth the sufferer, adopting the vernacular of his visitant.

“The master, sir——”

“Well, what does he want?”

“The loanst of a breeches, plase your honour.”

“Why, you don’t mean to tell me——By Heaven, this is too good!” shouted Tom, bursting into a fit of uncontrollable laughter, “Why, Barney, you don’t mean to say the ghost has got them again?”

Mr. Maguire did not respond to the young squire’s risibility; the cast of his countenance was decidedly serious.

“Faith, then, it’s gone they are, sure enough! Hasn’t meself been looking over the bed, and under the bed, and in the bed, for the matter of that, and divil a ha’p’orth of breeches is there to the fore at all:—I’m bothered entirely!”

“Hark’ee! Mr. Barney,” said Tom, incautiously removing his thumb, and letting a crimson stream “incarnadine the multitudinous” lather that plastered his throat—“this may be all very well with your master, but you don’t humbug me, sir:—tell me instantly what have you done with the clothes?”

This abrupt transition from “lively to severe” certainly took Maguire by surprise, and he seemed for an instant as much disconcerted as it is possible to disconcert an Irish gentleman’s gentleman.

“Me? is it meself, then, that’s the ghost to your honour’s thinking?” said he after a moment’s pause, and with a slight shade of indignation in his tones: “is it I would stale the master’s things—and what would I do with them?”

“That you best know:—what your purpose is I can’t guess, for I don’t think you mean to ‘stale’ them, as you call it; but that 19 you are concerned in their disappearance, I am satisfied. Confound this blood!—give me a towel, Barney.”

Maguire acquitted himself of the commission. “As I’ve a sowl, your honour,” said he, solemnly, “little it is meself knows of the matter: and after what I seen——”

“What you’ve seen! Why, what have you seen?—Barney, I don’t want to inquire into your flirtations; but don’t suppose you can palm off your saucer eyes and gig-lamps upon me!”

“Then, as sure as your honour’s standing there, I saw him: and why wouldn’t I, when Miss Pauline was to the fore as well as meself, and——”

“Get along with your nonsense—leave the room, sir!”

“But the master?” said Barney, imploringly; “and without a breeches?—sure he’ll be catching cowld!——”

“Take that, rascal!” replied Ingoldsby, throwing a pair of pantaloons at, rather than to, him: “but don’t suppose, sir, you shall carry on your tricks here with impunity; recollect there is such a thing as a treadmill, and that my father is a county magistrate.”

Barney’s eye flashed fire—he stood erect, and was about to speak; but, mastering himself, not without an effort, he took up the garment, and left the room as perpendicular as a Quaker.

“Ingoldsby,” said Charles Seaforth, after breakfast, “this is now past a joke; to-day is the last of my stay; for, notwithstanding the ties which detain me, common decency obliges me to visit home after so long an absence. I shall come to an immediate explanation with your father on the subject nearest my heart, and depart while I have a change of dress left. On his answer will my return depend! In the meantime tell me candidly,—I ask it in all seriousness, and as a friend,—am I not a dupe to your well-known propensity to hoaxing? have you not a hand in——”

“No, by heaven, Seaforth; I see what you mean: on my honour, I am as much mystified as yourself; and if your servant——”

“Not he:—if there be a trick, he at least is not privy to it.”

“If there be a trick? why, Charles, do you think——”

“I know not what to think, Tom. As surely as you are a living man, so surely did that spectral anatomy visit my room again last night, grin in my face, and walk away with my trousers: nor was I able to spring from my bed, or break the chain which seemed to bind me to my pillow.”

“Seaforth!” said Ingoldsby, after a short pause, “I will—— But hush! here are the girls and my father.—I will carry off the females, and leave you a clear field with the governor: carry your point with him, and we will talk about your breeches afterwards.”

20

Tom’s diversion was successful; he carried off the ladies en masse to look at a remarkable specimen of the class Dodecandria Monogynia,—which they could not find;—while Seaforth marched boldly up to the encounter, and carried “the governor’s” outworks by a coup de main. I shall not stop to describe the progress of the attack; suffice it that it was as successful as could have been wished, and that Seaforth was referred back again to the lady. The happy lover was off at a tangent; the botanical party was soon overtaken; and the arm of Caroline, whom a vain endeavour to spell out the Linnæan name of a daffy-down-dilly had detained a little in the rear of the others, was soon firmly locked in his own.

“What was the world to them,

Its noise, its nonsense, and its ‘breeches,’ all?”

Seaforth was in the seventh heaven; he retired to his room that night as happy as if no such thing as a goblin had ever been heard of, and personal chattels were as well fenced in by law as real property. Not so Tom Ingoldsby: the mystery,—for mystery there evidently was,—had not only piqued his curiosity, but ruffled his temper. The watch of the previous night had been unsuccessful, probably because it was undisguised. To-night he would “ensconce himself,” not indeed “behind the arras,”—for the little that remained was, as we have seen, nailed to the wall,—but in a small closet which opened from one corner of the room, and by leaving the door ajar, would give to its occupant a view of all that might pass in the apartment. Here did the young ghost-hunter take up a position, with a good stout sapling under his arm, a full half-hour before Seaforth retired for the night. Not even his friend did he let into his confidence, fully determined that if his plan did not succeed, the failure should be attributed to himself alone.

At the usual hour of separation for the night, Tom saw, from his concealment, the lieutenant enter his room, and after taking a few turns in it, with an expression so joyous as to betoken that his thoughts were mainly occupied by his approaching happiness, proceed slowly to disrobe himself. The coat, the waistcoat, the black silk stock, were gradually discarded; the green morocco slippers were kicked off, and then—ay, and then—his countenance grew grave; it seemed to occur to him all at once that this was his last stake,—nay, that the very breeches he had on were not his own,—that to-morrow morning was his last, and that if he lost them—— A glance showed that his mind was made up; he replaced the single button he had just subducted, and threw himself upon the bed in a state of transition,—half chrysalis, half grub.

Wearily did Tom Ingoldsby watch the sleeper by the flickering 21 light of the night-lamp, till the clock, striking one, induced him to increase the narrow opening which he had left for the purpose of observation. The motion, slight as it was, seemed to attract Charles’s attention; for he raised himself suddenly to a sitting posture, listened for a moment, and then stood upright upon the floor. Ingoldsby was on the point of discovering himself, when, the light flashing full upon his friend’s countenance, he perceived that, though his eyes were open, “their sense was shut,”—that he was yet under the influence of sleep. Seaforth advanced slowly to the toilet, lit his candle at the lamp that stood on it, then, going back to the bed’s foot, appeared to search eagerly for something which he could not find. For a few moments he seemed restless and uneasy, walking round the apartment and examining the chairs, till, coming fully in front of a large swing glass that flanked the dressing-table, he paused as if contemplating his figure in it. He now returned towards the bed; put on his slippers, and with cautious and stealthy steps, proceeded towards the little arched doorway that opened on the private staircase.

As he drew the bolt, Tom Ingoldsby emerged from his hiding-place; but the sleep-walker heard him not; he proceeded softly downstairs, followed at a due distance by his friend; opened the door which led out upon the gardens; and stood at once among the thickest of the shrubs, which there clustered round the base of a corner turret, and screened the postern from common observation. At this moment Ingoldsby had nearly spoiled all by making a false step: the sound attracted Seaforth’s attention,—he paused and turned; and, as the full moon shed her light directly upon his pale and troubled features, Tom marked, almost with dismay, the fixed and rayless appearance of his eyes:—

“There was no speculation in those orbs

That he did glare withal.”

The perfect stillness preserved by his follower seemed to reassure him; he turned aside; and from the midst of a thickset laurustinus drew forth a gardener’s spade, shouldering which he proceeded with greater rapidity into the midst of the shrubbery. Arrived at a certain point where the earth seemed to have been recently disturbed, he set himself heartily to the task of digging, till, having thrown up several shovelfuls of mould, he stopped, flung down his tool, and very composedly began to disencumber himself of his pantaloons.

Up to this moment Tom had watched him with a wary eye: he now advanced cautiously, and, as his friend was busily engaged in disentangling himself from his garment, made himself master of the 22 spade. Seaforth, meanwhile, had accomplished his purpose: he stood for a moment with

“His streamers waving in the wind,”

occupied in carefully rolling up the small-clothes into as compact a form as possible, and all heedless of the breath of heaven, which might certainly be supposed at such a moment, and in such a plight, to “visit his frame too roughly.”

He was in the act of stooping low to deposit the pantaloons in the grave which he had been digging for them, when Tom Ingoldsby came close behind him, and with the flat side of the spade——

pair of gravediggers

The shock was effectual;—never again was Lieutenant Seaforth known to act the part of a somnambulist. One by one, his breeches,—his trousers,—his pantaloons,—his silk-net tights,—his patent cords,—his showy greys with the broad red stripe of the Bombay Fencibles were brought to light,—rescued from the grave in which they had been buried, like the strata of a Christmas pie; and after having been well aired by Mrs. Botherby, became once again effective.

The family, the ladies especially, laughed;—the Peterses laughed;—the Simpkinsons laughed;—Barney Maguire cried “Botheration!” and Ma’mselle Pauline, “Mon Dieu!

Charles Seaforth, unable to face the quizzing which awaited him on all sides, started off two hours earlier than he had proposed:—he soon returned, however; and having, at his father-in-law’s request, given up the occupation of Rajah-hunting and shooting Nabobs, led his blushing bride to the altar.

Mr. Simpkinson from Bath did not attend the ceremony, being engaged at the grand Junction meeting of Sçavans, then congregating from all parts of the known world in the city of Dublin. His essay, demonstrating that the globe is a great custard, whipped into coagulation by whirlwinds, and cooked by electricity,—a little too much baked in the Isle of Portland, and a thought underdone about the Bog of Allen,—was highly spoken of, and narrowly escaped obtaining a Bridgewater prize.

Miss Simpkinson and her sister acted as bridesmaids on the occasion; the former wrote an epithalamium, and the latter cried “Lassy me!” at the clergyman’s wig. Some years have since rolled on; the union has been crowned with two or three tidy little offshoots from the family tree, of whom Master Neddy is “grandpapa’s darling,” and Mary Anne mamma’s particular “Sock.” I shall only add, that Mr. and Mrs. Seaforth are living together quite as happily as two good-hearted, good-tempered bodies, very fond of each other, 23 can possibly do; and that, since the day of his marriage, Charles has shown no disposition to jump out of bed, or ramble out of doors o’nights,—though from his entire devotion to every wish and whim of his young wife, Tom insinuates that the fair Caroline does still occasionally take advantage of it so far as to “slip on the breeches.”

Notes and Corrections: The Spectre of Tappington

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“The Spectre of Tappington” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. I no. 2 (February 1837) as “Family Stories No. I: The Spectre of Tappington”. That is to say: the story itself is headed “Fire-Side Stories”, but the volume’s Index has the expected “Family Stories”. There will be ten of them all told, but only this first one retains its original publication order.

of his countrymen, still he looked
[Bentley’s has “but he looked”, which is grammatically preferable. When the author—or his editor—changed the conjunction, he should also have changed the comma to a semicolon.]

“Come, Charles, the urn is absolutely getting cold
open quote missing

that grand arcanum, the transmutation of gooseberry jam into Guava jelly
[Eliza Acton has a recipe for “English Guava”, which contains no guavas. (Mrs. Beeton similarly has a recipe for “Mango Chutney” which contains no mangoes.)]

Bolsover Priory was founded in the reign of Henry the Sixth, about the beginning of the eleventh century
[Readers of 1837 would instantly have recognized this entire paragraph as nonsense.]

Rats and mice, and such small deer
text has Rats / mice at line break

per saltum, sufflatum, et pettum; . . . to take a leap, cry hem! and——
[Dictionaries are unhelpful, but the French noun pet and Greek verb πέρδομαι encourage conjectures about the word our antiquary wasn’t allowed to say.]

they had been simultaneously stricken with the picturesque appearance
text has striken

described . . . as “a Gothic window of the Saxon order;”
open quote missing

to act on Flora’s nerves as the same colour does on those of bulls and turkeys
[I have just recently learned that turkeys, unlike bulls, have excellent color vision.]

he carried off the ladies en masse to look at a remarkable specimen of the class Dodecandria Monogynia
text has en mase
[In Linnaeus’s surpassingly loopy system of classification—which really ought to have been discarded long before 1837—a plant of class Dodecandria, order Monogynia has twelve stamens and but one pistil.]

to spell out the Linnæan name of a daffy-down-dilly
[Genus Narcissus, species to taste; there appear to be hundreds.]

till the clock, striking one, induced him to increase the narrow opening
text has till, the clock with spurious comma

It was not till some years after
[These two paragraphs (below) were added for the book, though this edition formatted them to look like part of the preceding story. I have changed them to match the other transitional passages.]

It was not till some years after the events just recorded, that Miss Mary Anne, the “pet Sock” before alluded to, was made acquainted with the following piece of family biography. It was communicated to her in strict confidence by Nurse Botherby, a maiden niece of the old lady’s, then recently promoted from the ranks in the still-room, to be second in command in the nursery department.

The story is connected with a dingy wizen-faced portrait, in an oval frame, generally known by the name of “Uncle Stephen,” though from the style of his cut-velvet, it is evident that some generations must have passed away since any living being could have stood towards him in that degree of consanguinity.

THE NURSE’S STORY.
----
The Hand of Glory.

“Malefica quædam auguriatrix in Angliâ fuit, quam demones horribiliter extraxerunt, et imponentes super equum terribilem, per aera rapuerunt. Clamoresque terribiles (ut ferunt) per quatuor fermè miliaria audiebantur.”—Nuremb. Chron.

ON the lone bleak moor,

At the midnight hour,

Beneath the Gallows Tree,

Hand in hand

The Murderers stand

By one, by two, by three!

And the Moon that night

With a grey, cold light

Each baleful object tips;

One half of her form

Is seen through the storm,

The other half s hid in Eclipse!

And the cold wind howls,

And the Thunder growls,

And the Lightning is broad and bright;

And altogether

It’s very bad weather,

And an unpleasant sort of a night!

“Now mount who list,

And close by the wrist

Sever me quickly the Dead Man’s fist!—

24

Now climb who dare

Where he swings in air,

And pluck me five locks of the Dead Man’s hair!”

silhouettes of three men pointing a man hanging from a gibbet

There’s an old woman dwells upon Tappington Moor,

She hath years on her back at the least fourscore,

And some people fancy a great many more;

Her nose it is hook’d,

Her back it is crook’d,

Her eyes blear and red:

On the top of her head

Is a mutch, and on that

A shocking bad hat,

Extinguisher-shaped, the brim narrow and flat!

Then,—My gracious!—her beard!—it would sadly perplex

A spectator at first to distinguish her sex;

Nor, I’ll venture to say, without scrutiny could he

Pronounce her, off-handed, a Punch or a Judy.

Did you see her, in short, that mud-hovel within,

With her knees to her nose, and her nose to her chin,

Leering up with that queer, indescribable grin,

You’d lift up your hands in amazement, and cry,

“—Well!—I never did see such a regular Guy!”

And now before

That old Woman’s door,

Where nought that’s good may be,

Hand in hand

The Murderers stand

By one, by two, by three!

Oh! ’tis a horrible sight to view,

In that horrible hovel, that horrible crew,

By the pale blue glare of that flickering flame,

Doing the deed that hath never a name!

’Tis awful to hear

Those words of fear!

The prayer mutter’d backwards and said with a sneer!

(Matthew Hopkins himself has assured us that when

A witch says her prayers, she begins with ‘Amen.’)—

—’Tis awful to see

On that Old Woman’s knee

The dead, shrivell’d hand, as she clasps it with glee!—

And now with care,

The five locks of hair

From the skull of the Gentleman dangling up there,

With the grease and the fat

Of a black Tom Cat

She hastens to mix,

And to twist into wicks,

And one on the thumb and each finger to fix.—

25

(For another receipt the same charm to prepare,

Consult Mr. Ainsworth and Petit Albert.)

“Now open lock

To the Dead Man’s knock!

Fly bolt, and bar, and band!—

Nor move, nor swerve

Joint, muscle, or nerve,

At the spell of the Dead Man’s hand!

Sleep all who sleep!—Wake all who wake!—

But be as the Dead for the Dead Man’s sake!”

old woman in pointy hat with black cat standing near a windswept cottage

There’s an old woman dwells upon Tappington Moor

All is silent! all is still,

Save the ceaseless moan of the bubbling rill

As it wells from the bosom of Tappington Hill,

And in Tappington Hall

Great and Small,

Gentle and Simple, Squire and Groom,

Each one hath sought his separate room,

And sleep her dark mantle hath o’er them cast,

For the midnight hour hath long been past!

All is darksome in earth and sky,

Save, from yon casement, narrow and high,

A quivering beam

On the tiny stream

Plays, like some taper’s fitful gleam

By one that is watching wearily.

Within that casement, narrow and high,

In his secret lair, where none may spy,

Sits one whose brow is wrinkled with care,

And the thin grey locks of his failing hair

Have left his little bald pate all bare;

For his full-bottom’d wig

Hangs, bushy and big,

On the top of his old-fashion’d, high-back’d chair.

Unbraced are his clothes,

Ungarter’d his hose,

His gown is bedizen’d with tulip and rose,

Flowers of remarkable size and hue,

Flowers such as Eden never knew;

—And there by many a sparkling heap

Of the good red gold,

The tale is told

What powerful spell avails to keep

That careworn man from his needful sleep!

26

Haply he deems no eye can see

As he gloats on his treasure greedily,—

The shining store

Of glittering ore,

The fair rose-noble, the bright moidore,

And the broad Double-Joe from ayont the sea,—

But there’s one that watches as well as he;

For, wakeful and sly,

In a closet hard by,

On his truckle bed lieth a little Foot-page,

A boy who’s uncommonly sharp of his age,

Like young Master Horner,

Who erst in a corner

Sat eating a Christmas pie:

And, while that Old Gentleman’s counting his hoards,

Little Hugh peeps through a crack in the boards!

There’s a voice in the air,

There’s a step on the stair,

The old man starts in his cane-back’d chair;

At the first faint sound

He gazes around,

And holds up his dip of sixteen to the pound.

Then half arose

From beside his toes

His little pug-dog with his little pug nose,

But, ere he can vent one inquisitive sniff,

That little pug-dog stands stark and stiff,

For low, yet clear,

Now fall on the ear,

—Where once pronounced for ever they dwell—

The unholy words of the Dead Man’s spell!

“Open lock

To the Dead Man’s knock!

Fly bolt, and bar, and band!—

Nor move, nor swerve,

Joint, muscle, or nerve,

At the spell of the Dead Man’s hand!

Sleep all who sleep!—Wake all who wake!—

But be as the Dead for the Dead Man’s sake!”

Now lock, nor bolt, nor bar avails,

Nor stout oak panel thick-studded with nails.

Heavy and harsh the hinges creak,

Though they had been oil’d in the course of the week;

The door opens wide as wide may be,

And there they stand,

That murderous band,

27

Lit by the light of the Glorious Hand,

By one!—by two!—by three!

man looks up in alarm from his writing table as a shadowy figure comes in the door

THE HAND OF GLORY.

p. 26.

They have pass’d through the porch, they have pass’d through the hall,

Where the Porter sat snoring against the wall;

The very snore froze

In his very snub nose,

You’d have verily deemed he had snored his last

When the Glorious Hand by the side of him pass’d!

E’en the little wee mouse, as it ran o’er the mat

At the top of its speed to escape from the cat,

Though half dead with affright,

Paused in its flight;

And the cat that was chasing that little wee thing

Lay couch’d as a statue in act to spring!

And now they are there,

On the head of the stair,

And the long crooked whittle is gleaming and bare!

—I really don’t think any money would bribe

Me the horrible scene that ensued to describe.

Or the wild, wild glare

Of that old man’s eye,

His dumb despair, and deep agony.

The kid from the pen, and the lamb from the fold,

Unmoved may the blade of the butcher behold;

They dream not—ah, happier they!—that the knife,

Though uplifted, can menace their innocent life;

It falls;—the frail thread of their being is riven,

They dread not, suspect not, the blow till ’tis given.—

But, oh! what a thing ’tis to see and to know

That the bare knife is raised in the hand of the foe,

Without hope to repel, or to ward off the blow!—

—Enough!—let’s pass over as fast as we can

The fate of that grey, that unhappy old man!

But fancy poor Hugh,

Aghast at the view,

Powerless alike to speak or to do!

In vain doth he try

To open the eye

That is shut, or close that which is clapt to the chink,

Though he’d give all the world to be able to wink!—

No!—for all that this world can give or refuse,

28

I would not be now in that little boy’s shoes,

Or indeed any garment at all that is Hugh’s!

—’Tis lucky for him that the chink in the wall

He has peep’d through so long, is so narrow and small!

Wailing voices, sounds of woe

Such as follow departing friends,

That fatal night round Tappington go,

Its long-drawn roofs and its gable ends:

Ethereal Spirits, gentle and good,

Aye weep and lament o’er a deed of blood.

’Tis early dawn—the morn is grey

And the clouds and the tempest have pass’d away,

And all things betoken a very fine day;

But, while the lark her carol is singing,

Shrieks and screams are through Tappington ringing.

Upstarting all,

Great and small,

Each one who’s found within Tappington Hall,

Gentle and Simple, Squire or Groom,

All seek at once that old Gentleman’s room;

And there, on the floor,

Drench’d in its gore,

A ghastly corpse lies exposed to the view.

Carotid and jugular both cut through!

And there, by its side,

’Mid the crimson tide,

Kneels a little Foot-Page of tenderest years;

Adown his pale cheek the fast-falling tears

Are coursing each other round and big,

And he’s staunching the blood with a full-bottom’d wig.

Alas! and alack for his staunching!—’tis plain,

As anatomists tell us, that never again

Shall life revisit the foully slain,

When once they’ve been cut through the jugular vein.

There’s a hue and a cry through the County of Kent,

And in chase of the cut-throats a Constable’s sent.

But no one can tell the man which way they went:

There’s a little Foot-page with that Constable goes,

And a little pug-dog with a little pug nose.

group of villagers hurrying along the road

To Tappington mill-dam

29

In Rochester town,

At the sign of the Crown,

Three shabby-genteel men are just sitting down

To a fat stubble-goose, with potatoes done brown;

When a little Foot-page

Rushes in, in a rage,

Upsetting the apple-sauce, onions, and sage.

That little Foot-page takes the first by the throat,

And a little pug-dog takes the next by the coat,

And a Constable seizes the one more remote;

And fair rose-nobles and broad moidores,

The Waiter pulls out of their pockets by scores.

And the Boots and the Chambermaids run in and stare;

And the Constable says, with a dignified air,

“You’re wanted, Gen’lemen, one and all,

For that ’ere precious lark at Tappington Hall!”

There’s a black gibbet frowns upon Tappington Moor,

Where a former black gibbet has frowned before:

It is as black as black may be.

And murderers there

Are dangling in air,

By one!—by two!—by three!

There’s a horrid old hag in a steeple-crown’d hat,

Round her neck they have tied to a hempen cravat

A Dead Man’s hand, and a dead Tom Cat!

They have tied up her thumbs, they have tied up her toes,

They have tied up her eyes, they have tied up her limbs;

Into Tappington mill-dam souse she goes,

With a whoop and a haloo!—“She swims!—She swims!”

They have dragged her to land,

And every one’s hand

Is grasping a faggot, a billet, or brand,

When a queer-looking horseman, drest all in black,

Snatches up that old harridan just like a sack

To the crupper behind him, puts spurs to his hack,

Makes a dash through the crowd, and is off in a crack!

No one can tell,

Though they guess pretty well,

Which way that grim rider and old woman go,

For all see he’s a sort of infernal Ducrow;

And she screamed so, and cried,

We may fairly decide

That the old woman did not much relish her ride!

30
MORAL.

This truest of stories confirms beyond doubt

That truest of adages—“Murder will out!”

In vain may the blood-spiller “double” and fly,

In vain even witchcraft and sorcery try:

Although for a time he may ’scape, by-and-by,

He’ll be sure to be caught by a Hugh and a Cry!

Notes and Corrections: The Nurse’s Story

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“The Nurse’s Story” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. III no. 3 (March 1838) as “Family Stories No. IX. The Nurse’s Story: The Hand of Glory”.

per aera rapuerunt.
text has ; for .

Consult Mr. Ainsworth
[Anomalously, Bentley’s here has a footnote that didn’t make it into the book:
Vide Rookwood, the most spirited and original Romance of the day; Standard Novels, vol. lx, page 16.]

But be as the Dead for the Dead Man’s sake!”
close quote missing

Upstarting all, / Great and small,
text has . for final ,

never again / Shall life revisit the foully slain, / When once they’ve been cut through the jugular vein
[And, even more to the point, through the carotid artery.]

One marvel follows another as naturally as one “shoulder of mutton” is said “to drive another down.” A little Welsh girl, who sometimes makes her way from the kitchen into the nursery, after listening with intense interest to this tale, immediately started off at score with the sum and substance of what, in due reverence for such authority, I shall call—

PATTY MORGAN THE MILKMAID’S STORY.
----
“Look at the Clock.”

FYTTE I.

“LOOK at the clock!” quoth Winifred Pryce,

As she open’d the door to her husband’s knock,

Then paus’d to give him a piece of advice,

“You nasty Warmint, look at the Clock!

Is this the way, you

Wretch, every day you

Treat her who vow’d to love and obey you?—

Out all night!

Me in a fright;

Staggering home as it’s just getting light!

You intoxified brute!—you insensible block!—

Look at the Clock!—Do!—Look at the Clock!”

Winifred Pryce was tidy and clean,

Her gown was a flowered one, her petticoat green,

Her buckles were bright as her milking cans,

And her hat was a beaver, and made like a man’s;

Her little red eyes were deep set in their socket-holes,

Her gown-tail was turned up, and tucked through the pocket-holes;

31

A face like a ferret

Betoken’d her spirit:

To conclude, Mrs. Pryce was not over young,

Had very short legs, and a very long tongue.

Now David Pryce

Had one darling vice;

Remarkably partial to anything nice,

Nought that was good to him came amiss,

Whether to eat, or to drink, or to kiss!

Especially ale—

If it was not too stale

I really believe he’d have emptied a pail;

Not that in Wales

They talk of their Ales;

To pronounce the word they make use of might trouble you,

Being spelt with a C, two Rs, and a W.

That particular day,

As I’ve heard people say,

Mr. David Pryce had been soaking his clay,

And amusing himself with his pipe and cheroots,

The whole afternoon, at the Goat-in-Boots,

With a couple more soakers,

Thoroughbred smokers,

Both, like himself, prime singers and jokers;

And long after day had drawn to a close,

And the rest of the world was wrapp’d in repose,

They were roaring out “Shenkin!” and “Ar hydd y nos;”

While David himself, to a Sassenach tune.

Sang, “We’ve drunk down the Sun, boys! let’s drink down the Moon!

What have we with day to do?

Mrs. Winifred Pryce, ’twas made for you;”

At length, when they couldn’t well drink any more,

Old “Goat-in-Boots” showed them the door:

And then came that knock,

And the sensible shock

David felt when his wife cried, “Look at the Clock!”

For the hands stood as crooked as crooked might be,

The long at the Twelve, and the short at the Three!

That self-same clock had long been a bone

Of contention between this Darby and Joan,

And often, among their pother and rout,

When this otherwise amiable couple fell out,

Pryce would drop a cool hint,

With an ominous squint

32

At its case, of an “Uncle” of his, who’d a “Spout.”

That horrid word “Spout”

No sooner came out

Than Winifred Pryce would turn her about,

And with scorn on her lip,

And a hand on each hip,

“Spout” herself till her nose grew red at the tip.

“You thundering willin,

I know you’d be killing

Your wife—ay, a dozen of wives—for a shilling!

You may do what you please,

You may sell my chemise,

(Mrs. P. was too well-bred to mention her smock)

But I never will part with my Grandmother’s Clock!”

Mrs. Pryce’s tongue ran long and ran fast;

But patience is apt to wear out at last,

And David Pryce in temper was quick,

So he stretch’d out his hand, and caught hold of a stick;

Perhaps in its use he might mean to be lenient,

But walking just then wasn’t very convenient.

So he threw it instead,

Direct at her head;

It knock’d off her hat;

Down she fell flat;

Her case, perhaps, was not much mended by that:

But whatever it was,—whether rage and pain

Produced apoplexy, or burst a vein,

Or her tumble produced a concussion of brain,

I can’t say for certain,—but this I can,

When, sober’d by fright, to assist her he ran,

Mrs. Winifred Pryce was as dead as Queen Anne!

The fearful catastrophe

Named in my last strophe

As adding to grim Death’s exploits such a vast trophy,

Made a great noise; and the shocking fatality,

Ran over, like wildfire, the whole Principality.

And then came Mr. Ap Thomas, the Coroner,

With his jury to sit, some dozen or more, on her.

Mr. Pryce, to commence

His “ingenious defence,”

Made a “powerful appeal” to the jury’s “good sense:”

“The world he must defy

Ever to justify

Any presumption of ‘Malice Prepense.’”

The unlucky lick

From the end of his stick

He “deplored,”—he was “apt to be rather too quick;”—

33

But, really, her prating

Was so aggravating:

Some trifling correction was just what he meant:—all

The rest, he assured them, was “quite accidental!”

Then he calls Mr. Jones,

Who depones to her tones,

And her gestures, and hints about “breaking his bones;”

While Mr. Ap Morgan, and Mr. Ap Rhys

Declare the deceased

Had styled him “a Beast,”

And swear they had witness’d, with grief and surprise,

The allusion she made to his limbs and his eyes.

The jury, in fine, having sat on the body

The whole day, discussing the case, and gin toddy,

Return’d about half-past eleven at night

The following verdict, “We find, Sarve her right!

FYTTE II.

Mr. Pryce, Mrs. Winifred Pryce being dead,

Felt lonely, and moped; and one evening he said

He would marry Miss Davis at once in her stead.

Not far from his dwelling,

From the vale proudly swelling,

Rose a mountain; its name you’ll excuse me from telling,

For the vowels made use of in Welsh are so few,

That the A and the E, the I, O, and the U,

Have really but little or nothing to do;

And the duty, of course, falls the heavier by far.

On the L, and the H, and the N, and the R.

Its first syllable “Pen,”

Is pronounceable;—then

Come two L Ls, and two H Hs, two F Fs, and an N,

About half a score Rs, and some Ws follow,

Beating all my best efforts at euphony hollow:

But we shan’t have to mention it often, so when

We do, with your leave, we’ll curtail it to “Pen.”

Well—the moon shone bright

Upon “Pen,” that night,

When Pryce, being quit of his fuss and his fright,

Was scaling its side

With that sort of stride

A man puts out when walking in search of a bride.

34

Mounting higher and higher,

He began to perspire,

Till, finding his legs were beginning to tire,

And feeling opprest

By a pain in his chest,

He paus’d, and turn’d round to take breath and to rest:

A walk all up hill is apt, we know,

To make one, however robust, puff and blow,

So he stopp’d and look’d down on the valley below.

O’er fell and o’er fen,

Over mountain and glen,

All bright in the moonshine, his eye roved, and then

All the Patriot rose in his soul, and he thought

Upon Wales, and her glories, and all he’d been taught

Of her Heroes of old,

So brave and so bold,—

Of her Bards with long beards, and harps mounted in gold:

Of King Edward the First,

Of memory accurst;

And the scandalous manner in which he behaved,

Killing poets by dozens

With their uncles and cousins,

Of whom not one in fifty had ever been shaved—

Of the Court Ball, at which, by a lucky mishap,

Owen Tudor fell into Queen Katherine’s lap;

And how Mr. Tudor

Successfully woo’d her,

Till the Dowager put on a new wedding ring,

And so made him Father-in-law to the King.

He thought upon Arthur and Merlin of yore,

On Gryffith ap Conan and Owen Glendour;

On Pendragon, and Heaven knows how many more.

He thought of all this, as he gazed, in a trice,

And on all things, in short, but the late Mrs. Pryce;

When a lumbering noise from behind made him start,

And sent the blood back in full tide to his heart,

Which went pit-a-pat,

As he cried out, “What’s that?”—

That very queer sound?—

Does it come from the ground?

Or the air,—from above,—or below,—or around?—

It is not like Talking,

It is not like Walking,

It’s not like the clattering of pot or of pan,

Or the tramp of a horse,—or the tread of a man,—

Or the hum of a crowd, or the shouting of boys,—

It’s really a deuced odd sort of a noise!

35

Not unlike a cart’s,—but that can’t be; for when

Could “all the King’s horses, and all the King’s men,”

With Old Nick for a waggoner, drive one up “Pen?”

Pryce, usually brimful of valour when drunk,

Now experienced what schoolboys denominate “funk.”

In vain he looked back

On the whole of the track

He had traversed; a thick cloud, uncommonly black,

At this moment obscured the broad disc of the moon,

And did not seem likely to pass away soon;

While clearer and clearer,

’Twas plain to the hearer,

Be the noise what it might, it drew nearer and nearer,

And sounded, as Pryce to this moment declares,

Very much “like a Coffin a-walking up stairs.”

Mr. Pryce had begun

To “make up” for a run,

As in such a companion he saw no great fun,

When a single bright ray

Shone out on the way

He had passed, and he saw, with no little dismay,

Coming after him, bounding o’er crag and o’er rock,

The deceased Mrs. Winifred’s “Grandmother’s Clock!!”

’Twas so!—it had certainly moved from its place,

And come lumbering on thus, to hold him in chase;

’Twas the very same Head, and the very same Case,

And nothing was altered at all—but the Face!

In that he perceived, with no little surprise,

The two little winder-holes turned into eyes

Blazing with ire,

Like two coals of fire;

And the “Name of the Maker” was changed to a Lip,

And the Hands to a Nose with a very red tip.

No!—he could not mistake it,—’twas She to the life!

The identical face of his poor defunct wife!

drawing of man running from a tall clock

One glance was enough,

Completely “Quant. suff.

As the doctors write down when they send you their “stuff.”

Like a Weather-cock whirled by a vehement puff,

David turned himself round;

Ten feet of ground

He cleared, in his start, at the very first bound!

36

I’ve seen people run at West-End Fair for cheeses—

I’ve seen ladies run at Bow Fair for chemises—

At Greenwich Fair twenty men run for a hat,

And one from a Bailiff much faster than that:

At foot-ball I’ve seen lads run after the bladder—

I’ve seen Irish bricklayers run up a ladder—

I’ve seen little boys run away from a cane—

And I’ve seen (that is, read of) good running in Spain;1

But I never did read

Of, or witness, such speed

As David exerted that evening.—Indeed

All I have ever heard of boys, women, or men,

Falls far short of Pryce, as he ran over Pen!

He reaches its brow,—

He has past it, and now

Having once gained the summit, and managed to cross it, he

Rolls down the side with uncommon velocity;

But run as he will,

Or roll down the hill,

The bugbear behind him is after him still!

And close at his heels, not at all to his liking,

The terrible clock keeps on ticking and striking,

Till exhausted and sore,

He can’t run any more,

But falls as he reaches Miss Davis’s door,

And screams when they rush out, alarmed at his knock,

“Oh! Look at the Clock!—Do!—Look at the Clock!!”

various men seated at inn tables

Miss Davis look’d up, Miss Davis look’d down,

She saw nothing there to alarm her;—a frown

Come o’er her white forehead;

She said, “it was horrid

A man should come knocking at that time of night,

And give her Mamma and herself such a fright;—

To squall and to bawl

About nothing at all!”

She begged “he’d not think of repeating his call:

His late wife’s disaster

By no means had past her;”

She’d “have him to know she was meat for his Master!”

Then regardless alike of his love and his woes,

She turned on her heel and she turned up her nose.

37

Poor David in vain

Implored to remain;

He “dared not,” he said, “cross the mountain again.”

Why the fair was obdurate

None knows,—to be sure, it

Was said she was setting her cap at the Curate.

Be that as it may, it is certain the sole hole

Pryce found to creep into that night was the Coal-hole!

In that shady retreat

With nothing to eat,

And with very bruised limbs, and with very sore feet,

All night close he kept;

I can’t say he slept;

But he sigh’d, and he sobb’d, and he groan’d, and he wept;

Lamenting his sins,

And his two broken shins,

Bewailing his fate with contortions and grins,

And her he once thought a complete Rara Avis,

Consigning to Satan,—viz., cruel Miss Davis!

Mr. David has since had a “serious call,”

He never drinks ale, wine, or spirits, at all,

And they say he is going to Exeter Hall

To make a grand speech,

And to preach, and to teach

People that “they can’t brew their malt liquor too small.”

That an ancient Welsh Poet, one Pyndar ap Tudor,

Was right in proclaiming “Ariston men Udor!

Which means “The pure Element

Is for Man’s belly meant!”

And that Gin’s but a Snare of Old Nick the deluder!

And “still on each evening when pleasure fills up,”

At the old Goat-in-Boots, with Metheglin, each cup,

Mr. Pryce, if he’s there,

Will get into “The Chair,”

And make all his quondam associates stare

By calling aloud to the Landlady’s daughter,

“Patty, bring a cigar, and a glass of Spring Water!”

The dial he constantly watches; and when

The long hand’s at the “XII.,” and the short at the “X.,”

He gets on his legs,

Drains his glass to the dregs,

Takes his hat and great-coat off their several pegs,

With his President’s hammer bestows his last knock,

And says solemnly—“Gentlemen!

Look at the Clock!!!

1 I-run, is a town said to have been so named from something of this sort.

Notes and Corrections: Patty Morgan the Milkmaid’s Story

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“Patty Morgan the Milkmaid’s Story” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. II no. 2 (August 1837) as “Family Stories No. VII: Patty Morgan the Milk­maid’s Story”.

Being spelt with a C, two Rs, and a W.
[He isn’t making this up. Cursory research leads to the word cwrw, with an option on gwrw or chwrw. That’s two Ws and one R, but close enough.]

They were roaring out “Shenkin!” and “Ar hydd y nos;”
[If Google Translate can be believed, the phrase means “at nightfall”. “Shenkin”—or, if you prefer, Siencyn—is the name that became “Jenkin” in English. Among other things, it is the name of the Royal Welsh mascot goat.]

“You thundering willin, / I know you’d be killing
[Bentley’s spells it “willain”, which helps the sense at the expense of the rhyme.]

FYTTE II.
[Heading supplied from Bentley’s. There is not much sense in having a Fytte First if you never get around to a Fytte Second.]

Of King Edward the First, / Of memory accurst
[As the verse catalogue has it:

Edward the First conquered Cambria dales;

Edward the Second was born Prince of Wales. ]

Come o’er her white forehead; / She said, “it was horrid
[A rhyme also appreciated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Maybe.]

By no means had past her;”
close quote missing

He “dared not,” he said, “cross the mountain again.”
final close quote missing

That an ancient Welsh Poet, one Pyndar ap Tudor, / Was right in proclaiming “Ariston men Udor!
[Was Pindar considered a schoolbook author? Poor lads! The lines are the opening of, I think, Olympian 1 (barring the accents, which I don’t remember):

ἀριστον μεν ὑδωρ

ὁ δε χρυσος αἰθομενον πυρ

I like to translate it as “gold is Best of Breed, but water is Best in Show”.]

[Footnote] I-run
[This footnote was added for the book.]

38

The succeeding Legend has long been an established favourite with all of us, as containing much of the personal history of one of the greatest ornaments of the family tree.

To the wedding between the sole heiress of this redoubted hero and a direct ancestor is it owing that the Lioncels of Shurland hang so lovingly parallel with the Saltire of the Ingoldsbys, and now form as cherished a quartering in their escutcheon as the “dozen white lowses” in the “old coat” of Shallow.

Grey Dolphin.
A LEGEND OF SHEPPEY.

“HE won’t—won’t he? Then bring me my boots!” said the Baron.

Consternation was at its height in the castle of Shurland—a caitiff had dared to disobey the Baron! and—the Baron had called for his boots!

A thunderbolt in the great hall had been a bagatelle to it.

A few days before, a notable miracle had been wrought in the neighbourhood; and in those times miracles were not so common as they are now; no royal balloons, no steam, no railroads,—while the few Saints who took the trouble to walk with their heads under their arms, or to pull the Devil by the nose, scarcely appeared above once in a century;—so the affair made the greater sensation.

The clock had done striking twelve, and the Clerk of Chatham was untrussing his points preparatory to seeking his truckle-bed; a half-emptied tankard of mild ale stood at his elbow, the roasted crab yet floating on its surface. Midnight had surprised the worthy functionary while occupied in discussing it, and with his task yet unaccomplished. He meditated a mighty draft: one hand was fumbling with his tags, while the other was extended in the act of grasping the jorum, when a knock on the portal, solemn and sonorous, arrested his fingers. It was repeated thrice ere Emmanuel Saddleton had presence of mind sufficient to inquire who sought admittance at that untimeous hour.

“Open! open! good Clerk of St. Bridget’s,” said a female voice small, yet distinct and sweet,—an excellent thing in woman.

The Clerk arose, crossed to the doorway, and undid the latchet.

On the threshold stood a Lady of surpassing beauty: her robes were rich, and large, and full; and a diadem, sparkling with gems 39 that shed a halo around, crowned her brow: she beckoned the Clerk as he stood in astonishment before her.

plump man in nightclothes holding a tankard

“Emmanuel!” said the Lady; and her tones sounded like those of a silver flute. “Emmanuel Saddleton, truss up your points, and follow me!”

The worthy Clerk stared aghast at the vision; the purple robe, the cymar, the coronet,—above all, the smile; no, there was no mistaking her; it was the blessed St. Bridget herself!

And what could have brought the sainted lady out of her warm shrine at such a time of night? and on such a night? for it was as dark as pitch, and, metaphorically speaking, “rained cats and dogs.”

Emmanuel could not speak, so he looked the question.

“No matter for that,” said the saint, answering to his thought. “No matter for that, Emmanuel Saddleton; only follow me, and you’ll see!”

The Clerk turned a wistful eye at the corner cupboard.

“Oh! never mind the lantern, Emmanuel: you’ll not want it: but you may bring a mattock and a shovel.” As she spoke, the beautiful apparition held up her delicate hand. From the tip of each of her long taper fingers issued a lambent flame of such surpassing brilliancy as would have plunged a whole gas company into despair—it was a “Hand of Glory,”2 such a one as tradition tells us yet burns in Rochester Castle every St. Mark’s Eve. Many are the daring individuals who have watched in Gundulph’s Tower, hoping to find it, and the treasure it guards;—but none of them ever did.

“This way, Emmanuel!” and a flame of peculiar radiance streamed from her little finger as it pointed to the pathway leading to the churchyard.

Saddleton shouldered his tools, and followed in silence.

The cemetery of St. Bridget’s was some half-mile distant from the Clerk’s domicile, and adjoined a chapel dedicated to that illustrious lady, who, after leading but a so-so life, had died in the odour of sanctity. Emmanuel Saddleton was fat and scant of breath, the mattock was heavy, and the Saint walked too fast for him: he paused to take second wind at the end of the first furlong.

“Emmanuel,” said the holy lady, good-humouredly, for she heard him puffing; “rest awhile, Emmanuel, and I’ll tell you what I want with you.”

Her auditor wiped his brow with the back of his hand, and looked all attention and obedience.

40

Emmanuel,” continued she, “what did you and Father Fothergill, and the rest of you mean yesterday by burying that drowned man so close to me? He died in mortal sin, Emmanuel; no shrift, no unction, no absolution: why, he might as well have been excommunicated. He plagues me with his grinning, and I can’t have any peace in my shrine. You must howk him up again, Emmanuel!”

female saint gesturing behind her

“To be sure, madam,—my lady,—that is, your holiness,” stammered Saddleton, trembling at the thought of the task assigned him. “To be sure, your ladyship; only—that is——”

“Emmanuel,” said the saint, “you’ll do my bidding; or it would be better you had!” and her eye changed from a dove’s eye to that of a hawk, and a flash came from it as bright as the one from her little finger. The Clerk shook in his shoes; and, again dashing the cold perspiration from his brow, followed the footsteps of his mysterious guide.

The next morning all Chatham was in an uproar. The Clerk of St. Bridget’s had found himself at home at daybreak, seated in his own arm-chair, the fire out, and—the tankard of ale out too! Who had drunk it?—where had he been?—how had he got home?—all was a mystery!—he remembered a “mass of things, but nothing distinctly;” all was fog and fantasy. What he could clearly recollect was, that he had dug up the Grinning Sailor, and that the Saint had helped to throw him into the river again. All was thenceforth wonderment and devotion. Masses were sung, tapers were kindled, bells were tolled; the monks of St. Romuald had a solemn procession, the abbot at their head, the sacristan at their tail, and the holy breeches of St. Thomas à Becket in the centre;—Father Fothergill brewed a XXX puncheon of holy water. The rood of Gillingham was deserted; the chapel of Rainham forsaken; every one who had a soul to be saved, flocked with his offering to St. Bridget’s shrine, and Emmanuel Saddleton gathered more fees from the promiscuous piety of that one week than he had pocketed during the twelve preceding months.

Meanwhile the corpse of the ejected reprobate oscillated like a pendulum between Sheerness and Gillingham Reach. Now borne by the Medway into the Western Swale, now carried by the refluent tide back to the vicinity of its old quarters,—it seemed as though the River god and Neptune were amusing themselves with a game of subaqueous battledore, and had chosen this unfortunate carcass as a marine shuttlecock. For some time the alternation was kept up with great spirit, till Boreas, interfering in the shape of a stiffish “Nor’-wester,” drifted the bone (and flesh) of contention ashore on 41 the Shurland domain, where it lay in all the majesty of mud. It was soon discovered by the retainers, and dragged from its oozy bed, grinning worse than ever. Tidings of the godsend were of course carried instantly to the castle; for the Baron was a very great man; and if a dun cow had flown across his property unannounced by the warder, the Baron would have kicked him, the said warder, from the topmost battlement into the bottommost ditch,—a descent of peril, and one which “Ludwig the Leaper,” or the illustrious Trenck himself might well have shrunk from encountering.

“An’t please your lordship——” said Peter Periwinkle.

“No, villain! it does not please me!” roared the Baron.

His lordship was deeply engaged with a peck of Feversham oysters,—he doted on shellfish, hated interruption at meals, and had not yet despatched more than twenty dozen of the “natives.”

“There’s a body, my lord, washed ashore in the lower creek,” said the seneschal.

The Baron was going to throw the shells at his head; but paused in the act, and said with much dignity—

“Turn out the fellow’s pockets!”

But the defunct had before been subjected to the double scrutiny of Father Fothergill and the Clerk of St. Bridget’s. It was ill gleaning after such hands; there was not a single maravedi.

We have already said that Sir Robert de Shurland, Lord of the Isle of Sheppey, and of many a fair manor on the mainland, was a man of worship. He had rights of freewarren, saccage and sockage, cuisage and jambage, fosse and fork, infang theofe and outfang theofe; and all waifs and strays belonged to him in fee simple.

“Turn out his pockets!” said the knight.

“An’t please you, my lord, I must say as how they was turned out afore, and the devil a rap’s left.”

“Then bury the blackguard!”

“Please your lordship, he has been buried once.”

“Then bury him again, and be ——!” The Baron bestowed a benediction.

The seneschal bowed low as he left the room, and the Baron went on with his oysters.

Scarcely ten dozen more had vanished when Periwinkle reappeared.

“An’t please you, my lord, Father Fothergill says as how that it’s the Grinning Sailor, and he won’t bury him anyhow.”

“Oh! he won’t—won’t he?” said the Baron. Can it be wondered at that he called for his boots?

Sir Robert de Shurland, Lord of Shurland and Minster, Baron of Sheppey in comitatu Kent, was, as has been before hinted, a 42 very great man. He was also a very little man; that is, he was relatively great, and relatively little—or physically little, and metaphorically great—like Sir Sidney Smith and the late Mr. Buonaparte. To the frame of a dwarf he united the soul of a giant, and the valour of a gamecock. Then, for so small a man, his strength was prodigious; his fist would fell an ox, and his kick—oh! his kick was tremendous, and, when he had his boots on, would—to use an expression of his own, which he had picked up in the holy wars—would “send a man from Jericho to June.” He was bull-necked and bandy-legged; his chest was broad and deep, his head large and uncommonly thick, his eyes a little bloodshot, and his nose retroussé, with a remarkably red tip. Strictly speaking, the Baron could not be called handsome; but his tout ensemble was singularly impressive: and when he called for his boots, everybody trembled and dreaded the worst.

“Periwinkle,” said the Baron, as he encased his better leg, “let the grave be twenty feet deep!”

“Your lordship’s command is law.”

“And, Periwinkle”—Sir Robert stamped his left heel into its receptacle—“and, Periwinkle, see that it be wide enough to hold not exceeding two!”

“Ye—ye—yes, my lord.”

“And, Periwinkle—tell Father Fothergill I would fain speak with his Reverence.”

“Ye—ye—yes, my lord.”

The Baron’s beard was peaked: and his moustaches, stiff and stumpy, projected horizontally like those of a Tom Cat; he twirled the one, he stroked the other, he drew the buckle of his surcingle a thought tighter, and strode down the great staircase three steps at a stride.

The vassals were assembled in the great hall of Shurland Castle; every cheek was pale, every tongue was mute: expectation and perplexity were visible on every brow. What would his lordship do? Were the recusant anybody else, gyves to the heels and hemp to the throat were but too good for him; but it was Father Fothergill who had said “I won’t;” and though the Baron was a very great man, the Pope was a greater, and the Pope was Father Fothergill’s great friend—some people said he was his uncle.

Father Fothergill was busy in the refectory trying conclusions with a venison pasty, when he received the summons of his patron to attend him in the chapel cemetery. Of course he lost no time in obeying it, for obedience was the general rule in Shurland Castle. If anybody ever said “I won’t,” it was the exception; and like all other exceptions, only proved the rule the stronger. The Father 43 was a friar of the Augustine persuasion; a brotherhood which, having been planted in Kent some few centuries earlier, had taken very kindly to the soil, and overspread the county much as hops did some few centuries later. He was plump and portly, a little thick-winded, especially after dinner, stood five feet four in his sandals, and weighed hard upon eighteen stone. He was, moreover, a personage of singular piety; and the iron girdle, which, he said, he wore under his cassock to mortify withal, might have been well mistaken for the tire of a cart-wheel. When he arrived, Sir Robert was pacing up and down by the side of a newly-opened grave.

Benedicite! fair son”—(the Baron was as brown as a cigar)—“Benedicite!” said the Chaplain.

The Baron was too angry to stand upon compliment. “Bury me that grinning caitiff there!” quoth he, pointing to the defunct.

“It may not be, fair son,” said the friar; “he hath perished without absolution.”

“Bury the body!” roared Sir Robert.

“Water and earth alike reject him,” returned the Chaplain; “holy St. Bridget herself——”

“Bridget me no Bridgets!—do me thine office quickly, Sir Shaveling! or, by the Piper that played before Moses——” The oath was a fearful one; and whenever the Baron swore to do mischiefs he was never known to perjure himself. He was playing with the hilt of his sword. “Do me thine office, I say. Give him his passport to Heaven.”

“He is already gone to Hell!” stammered the Friar.

“Then do you go after him!” thundered the Lord of Shurland.

man in boots and helmet kicks a friar into an open grave

One kick!—it was but one!—but such a one

His sword half leaped from its scabbard. No!—the trenchant blade, that had cut Suleiman Ben Malek Ben Buckskin from helmet to chine, disdained to daub itself with the cerebellum of a miserable monk;—it leaped back again;—and as the Chaplain, scared at its flash, turned him in terror, the Baron gave him a kick!—one kick!—it was but one!—but such a one! Despite its obesity, up flew his holy body in an angle of forty-five degrees; then having reached its highest point of elevation, sank headlong into the open grave that yawned to receive it. If the reverend gentleman had possessed such a thing as a neck, he had infallibly broken it! as he did not, he only dislocated his vertebræ—but that did quite as well. He was as dead as ditch-water!

“In with the other rascal!” said the Baron—and he was obeyed; for there he stood in his boots. Mattock and shovel made short work of it; twenty feet of superincumbent mould pressed down alike the saint and the sinner. “Now sing a requiem who list!” said the Baron, and his lordship went back to his oysters.

44

The vassals at Castle Shurland were astounded, or, as the Seneschal Hugh better expressed it, “perfectly conglomerated,” by this event. What! murder a monk in the odour of sanctity—and on consecrated ground too! They trembled for the health of the Baron’s soul. To the unsophisticated many it seemed that matters could not have been much worse had he shot a bishop’s coach-horse—all looked for some signal judgment. The melancholy catastrophe of their neighbours at Canterbury was yet rife in their memories: not two centuries had elapsed since those miserable sinners had cut off the tail of the blessed St. Thomas’s mule. The tail of the mule, it was well known, had been forthwith affixed to that of the Mayor; and rumour said it had since been hereditary in the corporation. The least that could be expected was, that Sir Robert should have a friar tacked on to his for the term of his natural life! Some bolder spirits there were, ’tis true, who viewed the matter in various lights, according to their different temperaments and dispositions; for perfect unanimity existed not even in the good old times. The verderer, roistering Hob Roebuck, swore roundly, “’Twere as good a deed as eat to kick down the chapel as well as the monk.” Hob had stood there in a white sheet for kissing Giles Miller’s daughter. On the other hand, Simpkin Agnew, the bell-ringer, doubted if the devil’s cellar, which runs under the bottomless abyss, were quite deep enough for the delinquent, and speculated on the probability of a hole being dug in it for his especial accommodation. The philosophers and economists thought, with Saunders McBullock, the Baron’s bagpiper, that a “feckless monk more or less was nae great subject for a clamjamphry,” especially as “the supply considerably exceeded the demand;” while Malthouse, the tapster, was arguing to Dame Martin that a murder now and then was a seasonable check to population, without which the Isle of Sheppey would in time be devoured, like a mouldy cheese, by inhabitants of its own producing. Meanwhile, the Baron ate his oysters and thought no more of the matter.

But this tranquillity of his lordship was not to last. A couple of Saints had been seriously offended; and we have all of us read at school that celestial minds are by no means insensible to the provocations of anger. There were those who expected that St. Bridget would come in person, and have the friar up again, as she did the sailor; but perhaps her ladyship did not care to trust herself within the walls of Shurland Castle. To say the truth, it was scarcely a decent house for a female Saint to be seen in. The Baron’s gallantries, since he became a widower, had been but too notorious; and her own reputation was a little blown upon in the earlier days of her earthly pilgrimage: then things were so apt to be misrepresented—in 45 short, she would leave the whole affair to St. Austin, who, being a gentleman, could interfere with propriety, avenge her affront as well as his own, and leave no loop-hole for scandal. St. Austin himself seems to have had his scruples, though of their precise nature it would be difficult to determine, for it were idle to suppose him at all afraid of the Baron’s boots. Be this as it may, the mode which he adopted was at once prudent and efficacious. As an ecclesiastic, he could not well call the Baron out—had his boots been out of the question; so he resolved to have recourse to the law. Instead of Shurland Castle, therefore, he repaired forthwith to his own magnificent monastery, situate just within the walls of Canterbury, and presented himself in a vision to its abbot. No one who has ever visited that ancient city can fail to recollect the splendid gateway which terminates the vista of St. Paul’s-street, and stands there yet in all its pristine beauty. The tiny train of miniature artillery which now adorns its battlements is, it is true, an ornament of a later date; and is said to have been added some centuries after by a learned but jealous proprietor, for the purpose of shooting any wiser man than himself, who might chance to come that way. Tradition is silent as to any discharge having taken place, nor can the oldest inhabitant of modern days recollect any such occurrence.3 Here it was, in a handsome chamber, immediately over the lofty archway, that the Superior of the monastery lay buried in a brief slumber, snatched from his accustomed vigils. His mitre—for he was a mitred Abbot, and had a seat in parliament—rested on a table beside him; near it stood a silver flagon of Gascony wine, ready, no doubt for the pious uses of the morrow. Fasting and watching had made him more than usually somnolent, than which nothing could have been better for the purpose of the Saint, who now appeared to him radiant in all the colours of the rainbow.

“Anselm!” said the beatific vision,—“Anselm! are you not a pretty fellow to lie snoring there when your brethren are being knocked at head, and Mother Church herself is menaced?—It is a sin and a shame, Anselm!”

“What’s the matter?—Who are you?” cried the Abbot, rubbing his eyes, which the celestial splendour of his visitor had set a winking. “Ave Maria! St. Austin himself! Speak, Beatissime! what would you with the humblest of your votaries?”

“Anselm!” said the saint, “a brother of our order, whose soul Heaven assoilzie! hath been foully murdered. He hath been ignominiously kicked to the death, Anselm; and there he lieth 46 cheek-by-jowl with a wretched carcass, which our sister Bridget has turned out of her cemetery for unseemly grinning. Arouse thee, Anselm!”

“Ay, so please you, Sanctissime!” said the Abbot. “I will order forthwith that thirty masses be said, thirty Paters, and thirty Aves.”

“Thirty fools’ heads!” interrupted his patron, who was a little peppery.

“I will send for bell, book, and candle——”

“Send for an inkhorn, Anselm. Write me now a letter to his Holiness the Pope in good round terms, and another to the Coroner, and another to the Sheriff, and seize me the never-enough-to-be-anathematised villain who hath done this deed! Hang him as high as Haman, Anselm!—up with him!—down with his dwelling-place, root and branch, hearth-stone and roof tree,—down with it all, and sow the site with salt and sawdust!”

St. Austin, it will be perceived, was a radical reformer.

“Marry will I,” quoth the Abbot, warming with the Saint’s eloquence; “ay, marry will I, and that instanter. But there is one thing you have forgotten, most Beatified—the name of the culprit.”

“Robert de Shurland.”

“The Lord of Sheppey! Bless me!” said the Abbot, crossing himself, “won’t that be rather inconvenient? Sir Robert is a bold baron, and a powerful; blows will come and go, and crowns will be cracked and——”

“What is that to you, since yours will not be of the number?”

“Very true, Beatissime!—I will don me with speed, and do your bidding.”

“Do so, Anselm!—fail not to hang the Baron, burn his castle, confiscate his estate, and buy me two large wax candles for my own particular shrine out of your share of the property.”

With this solemn injunction the vision began to fade.

“One thing more!” cried the Abbot, grasping his rosary.

“What is that?” asked the Saint.

O Beate Augustine, ora pro nobis!

“Of course I shall,” said St. Austin. “Pax vobiscum!”—and Abbot Anselm was left alone.

Within an hour all Canterbury was in commotion. A friar had been murdered,—two friars—ten—twenty; a whole convent had been assaulted, sacked, burnt,—all the monks had been killed, and all the nuns had been kissed! Murder! fire! sacrilege! Never was city in such an uproar. From St. George’s-gate to St. Dunstan’s suburb, from the Donjon to the borough of Staplegate, 47 all was noise and hubbub. “Where was it?”—“When was it?”—“How was it?” The Mayor caught up his chain, the Aldermen donned their furred gowns, the Town Clerk put on his spectacles. “Who was he?”—“What was he?”—“Where was he?”—He should be hanged,—he should be burned,—he should be broiled,—he should be fried,—he should be scraped to death with red-hot oyster shells! “Who was he?”—“What was his name?”

The Abbot’s Apparitor drew forth his roll and read aloud:—“Sir Robert de Shurland, Knight banneret, Baron of Shurland and Minster, and Lord of Sheppey.”

The Mayor put his chain in his pocket, the Aldermen took off their gowns, the Town Clerk put his pen behind his ear. It was a county business altogether:—the Sheriff had better call out the posse comitatus.

While saints and sinners were thus leaguing against him, the Baron de Shurland was quietly eating his breakfast. He had passed a tranquil night, undisturbed by dreams of cowl or capuchin; nor was his appetite more affected than his conscience. On the contrary, he sat rather longer over his meal than usual: luncheon time came, and he was ready as ever for his oysters: but scarcely had Dame Martin opened his first half-dozen when the warder’s horn was heard from the barbican.

“Who the devil’s that?” said Sir Robert. “I’m not at home, Periwinkle. I hate to be disturbed at meals, and I won’t be at home to anybody.”

“An’t please your lordship,” answered the Seneschal, “Paul Prior hath given notice that there is a body——”

“Another body!” roared the Baron. “Am I to be everlastingly plagued with bodies? No time allowed me to swallow a morsel. Throw it into the moat!”

“So please you, my lord, it is a body of horse,—and—and Paul says there is a still larger body of foot behind it; and he thinks, my lord—that is, he does not know, but he thinks—and we all think, my lord, that they are coming to—to besiege the castle!”

“Besiege the castle! Who? What? What for?”

“Paul says, my lord, that he can see the banner of St. Austin, and the bleeding heart of Hamo de Crevecœur, the Abbot’s chief vassal; and there is John de Northwood, the sheriff, with his red cross engrailed; and Hever, and Leybourne, and Heaven knows how many more; and they are all coming on as fast as ever they can.”

“Periwinkle,” said the Baron, “up with the drawbridge; down with the portcullis; bring me a cup of canary, and my nightcap. I won’t be bothered with them. I shall go to bed.”

48

“To bed, my lord?” cried Periwinkle, with a look that seemed to say, “He’s crazy!”

At this moment the shrill tones of a trumpet were heard to sound thrice from the champaign. It was the signal for parley: the Baron changed his mind; instead of going to bed, he went to the ramparts.

“Well, rapscallions! and what now?” said the Baron.

A herald, two pursuivants, and a trumpeter, occupied the foreground of the scene: behind them, some three hundred paces off, upon a rising ground, was drawn up in battle array the main body of the ecclesiastical forces.

“Hear you, Robert de Shurland, Knight, Baron of Shurland and Minster, and Lord of Sheppey, and know all men, by these presents, that I do hereby attach you, the said Robert, of murder and sacrilege, now, or of late, done and committed by you, the said Robert, contrary to the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, his crown and dignity: and I do hereby require and charge you, the said Robert, to forthwith surrender and give up your own proper person, together with the castle of Shurland aforesaid, in order that the same may be duly dealt with according to law. And here standeth John de Northwood, Esquire, good man and true, sheriff of this his Majesty’s most loyal county of Kent, to enforce the same, if need be, with his posse comitatus——”

“His what?” said the Baron.

“His posse comitatus, and——”

“Go to Bath!” said the Baron.

A defiance so contemptuous roused the ire of the adverse commanders. A volley of missiles rattled about the Baron’s ears. Nightcaps avail little against contusions. He left the walls, and returned to the great hall.

“Let them pelt away,” quoth the Baron: “there are no windows to break, and they can’t get in.” So he took his afternoon nap, and the siege went on.

Towards evening his lordship awoke, and grew tired of the din. Guy Pearson, too, had got a black eye from a brickbat, and the assailants were clambering over the outer wall. So the Baron called for his Sunday hauberk of Milan steel, and his great two-handed sword with the terrible name:—it was the fashion in feudal times to give names to swords: King Arthur’s was christened Excalibar; the Baron called his Tickletoby, and whenever he took it in hand it was no joke.

“Up with the portcullis! down with the bridge!” said Sir Robert; and out he sallied, followed by the élite of his retainers. Then there was a pretty to-do. Heads flew one way—arms and 49 legs another; round went Tickletoby; and, wherever it alighted, down came horse and man; the Baron excelled himself that day. All that he had done in Palestine faded in the comparison; he had fought for fun there, but now it was for life and lands. Away went John de Northwood; away went William of Hever, and Roger of Leybourne. Hamo de Crevecœur, with the church vassals and the banner of St. Austin, had been gone some time. The siege was raised, and the Lord of Sheppey was left alone in his glory.

battle scene with one man climbing a tree, heads rolling on the ground below

Then there was a pretty to-do, heads flew one way—arms and legs another

But, brave as the Baron undoubtedly was, and total as had been the defeat of his enemies, it cannot be supposed that La Stoccata would be allowed to carry it away thus. It has before been hinted that Abbot Anselm had written to the Pope, and Boniface the Eighth piqued himself on his punctuality as a correspondent in all matters connected with church discipline. He sent back an answer by return of post; and by it all Christian people were strictly enjoined to aid in exterminating the offender, on pain of the greater excommunication in this world, and a million of years of purgatory in the next. But then, again, Boniface the Eighth was rather at a discount in England just then. He had affronted Longshanks, as the royal lieges had nicknamed their monarch; and Longshanks had been rather sharp upon the clergy in consequence. If the Baron de Shurland could but get the King’s pardon for what, in his cooler moments, he admitted to be a peccadillo, he might sniff at the Pope, and bid him “do his devilmost.”

Fortune, who, as the poet says, delights to favour the bold, stood his friend on this occasion. Edward had been for some time collecting a large force on the coast of Kent, to carry on his French wars for the recovery of Guienne; he was expected shortly to review it in person; but, then, the troops lay principally in cantonments about the mouth of the Thames, and his Majesty was to come down by water. What was to be done?—the royal barge was in sight, and John de Northwood and Hamo de Crevecœur had broken up all the boats to boil their camp-kettles. A truly great mind is never without resources.

“Bring me my boots!” said the Baron.

They brought him his boots, and his dapple-grey steed along with them. Such a courser! all blood and bone, short-backed, broad-chested, and—but that he was a little ewe-necked—faultless in form and figure. The Baron sprang upon his back, and dashed at once into the river.

The barge which carried Edward Longshanks and his fortunes had by this time nearly reached the Nore; the stream was broad and the current strong, but Sir Robert and his steed were almost as 50 broad, and a great deal stronger. After breasting the tide gallantly for a couple of miles, the knight was near enough to hail the steersman.

“What have we got here?” said the King. “It’s a mermaid,” said one. “It’s a grampus,” said another. “It’s the devil,” said a third. But they were all wrong; it was only Robert de Shurland. “Grammercy,” said the King, “that fellow was never born to be drowned!”

It has been said before that the Baron had fought in the Holy Wars; in fact, he had accompanied Longshanks, when only heir apparent, in his expedition twenty-five years before, although his name is unaccountably omitted by Sir Harris Nicolas in his list of crusaders. He had been present at Acre when Amirand of Joppa stabbed the prince with a poisoned dagger, and had lent Princess Eleanor his own tooth-brush after she had sucked out the venom from the wound. He had slain certain Saracens, contented himself with his own plunder, and never dunned the commissariat for arrears of pay. Of course he ranked high in Edward’s good graces, and had received the honour of knighthood at his hands on the field of battle.

In one so circumstanced it cannot be supposed that such a trifle as the killing of a frowzy friar would be much resented, even had he not taken so bold a measure to obtain his pardon. His petition was granted, of course, as soon as asked; and so it would have been had the indictment drawn up by the Canterbury town-clerk, viz. “That he, the said Robert de Shurland, etc., had then and there, with several, to wit, one thousand, pairs of boots, given sundry, to wit, two thousand, kicks, and therewith and thereby killed divers, to wit, ten thousand, Austin Friars,” been true to the letter.

Thrice did the gallant grey circumnavigate the barge, while Robert de Winchelsey, the chancellor and archbishop to boot, was making out, albeit with great reluctance, the royal pardon. The interval was sufficiently long to enable his Majesty, who, gracious as he was, had always an eye to business, just to hint that the gratitude he felt towards the Baron was not unmixed with a lively sense of services to come; and that, if life were now spared him, common decency must oblige him to make himself useful. Before the archbishop, who had scalded his fingers with the wax in affixing the great seal, had time to take them out of his mouth, all was settled, and the Baron de Shurland had pledged himself to be forthwith in readiness, cum suis, to accompany his liege lord to Guienne.

man in heavy armor, carrying an immense sword, on a heavily caparisoned horse

THE GREY DOLPHIN.

p. 50.

With the royal pardon secured in his vest, boldly did his lordship turn again to the shore; and as boldly did his courser oppose his 51 breadth of chest to the stream. It was a work of no common difficulty or danger; a steed of less “mettle and bone” had long since sunk in the effort: as it was, the Baron’s boots were full of water, and Grey Dolphin’s chamfrain more than once dipped beneath the wave. The convulsive snorts of the noble animal showed his distress; each instant they became more loud and frequent; when his hoof touched the strand, and “the horse and his rider” stood once again in safety on the shore.

Rapidly dismounting, the Baron was loosening the girths of his demi-pique, to give the panting animal breath, when he was aware of as ugly an old woman as he had ever clapped eyes upon, peeping at him under the horse’s belly.

two people examining riderless horse by the shore

“Make much of your steed, Robert Shurland! Make much of your steed!” cried the hag, shaking at him her long and bony finger. “Groom to the hide, and corn to the manger! He has saved your life, Robert Shurland, for the nonce; but he shall yet be the means of your losing it for all that!”

The Baron started: “What’s that you say, you old faggot?” He ran round by his horse’s tail; the woman was gone!

The Baron paused; his great soul was not to be shaken by trifles; he looked around him, and solemnly ejaculated the word “Humbug!” then, slinging the bridle across his arm, walked slowly on in the direction of the castle.

The appearance, and still more, the disappearance of the crone, had, however, made an impression; every step he took he became more thoughtful. “’Twould be deuced provoking, though, if he should break my neck after all.” He turned and gazed at Dolphin with the scrutinising eye of a veterinary surgeon. “I’ll be shot if he is not groggy!” said the Baron.

With his lordship, like another great commander, “Once to be in doubt, was once to be resolved:” it would never do to go to the wars on a ricketty prad. He dropped the rein, drew forth Tickletoby, and, as the enfranchised Dolphin, good easy horse, stretched out his ewe-neck to the herbage, struck off his head at a single blow. “There, you lying old beldame!” said the Baron; “now take him away to the knacker’s.”

Three years were come and gone. King Edward’s French wars were over; both parties having fought till they came to a standstill, shook hands, and the quarrel, as usual, was patched up by a royal marriage. This happy event gave his Majesty leisure to turn his attention to Scotland, where things, through the intervention of William Wallace, were looking rather queerish. As his reconciliation 52 with Philip now allowed of his fighting the Scotch in peace and quietness, the monarch lost no time in marching his long legs across the border, and the short ones of the Baron followed him of course. At Falkirk, Tickletoby was in great request; and in the year following, we find a contemporary poet hinting at his master’s prowess under the walls of Caerlaverock—

Ovec eus fu achiminez

Li beau Robert de Shurland

Ki kant seoit sur le cheval

Ne sembloit home ke someille.

A quatrain which Mr. Simpkinson translates,

“With them was marching

The good Robert de Shurland,

Who, when seated on horseback.

Does not resemble a man asleep!”

So thoroughly awake, indeed, does he seem to have proved himself, that the bard subsequently exclaims in an ecstasy of admiration,

Si ie estoie une pucelette

Je li donrie ceur et cors

Tant est de lu bons li recors.

“If I were a young maiden,

I would give my heart and person,

So great is his fame!”

Fortunately the poet was a tough old monk of Exeter; since such a present to a nobleman, now in his grand climacteric, would hardly have been worth the carriage. With the reduction of this stronghold of the Maxwells seem to have concluded the Baron’s military services; as on the very first day of the fourteenth century we find him once more landed on his native shore, and marching, with such of his retainers as the wars had left him, towards the hospitable shelter of Shurland Castle. It was then, upon that very beach, some hundred yards distant from high-water mark, that his eye fell upon something like an ugly old woman in a red cloak. She was seated on what seemed to be a large stone, in an interesting attitude, with her elbows resting upon her knees, and her chin upon her thumbs. The Baron started: the remembrance of his interview with a similar personage in the same place, some three years since, flashed upon his recollection. He rushed towards the 53 spot, but the form was gone;—nothing remained but the seat it had appeared to occupy. This, on examination, turned out to be no stone, but the whitened skull of a dead horse! A tender remembrance of the deceased Grey Dolphin shot a momentary pang into the Baron’s bosom; he drew the back of his hand across his face; the thought of the hag’s prediction in an instant rose, and banished all softer emotions. In utter contempt of his own weakness, yet with a tremor that deprived his redoubtable kick of half its wonted force, he spurned the relic with his foot. One word alone issued from his lips, elucidatory of what was passing in his mind—it long remained imprinted on the memory of his faithful followers—that word was “Gammon!” The skull bounded across the beach till it reached the very margin of the stream;—one instant more and it would be engulfed for ever. At that moment a loud, “Ha! ha! ha!” was distinctly heard by the whole train to issue from its bleached and toothless jaws: it sank beneath the flood in a horse laugh.

Meanwhile Sir Robert de Shurland felt an odd sort of sensation in his right foot. His boots had suffered in the wars. Great pains had been taken for their preservation. They had been “soled” and “heeled” more than once;—had they been “goloshed,” their owner might have defied Fate! Well has it been said that “there is no such thing as a trifle.” A nobleman’s life depended upon a question of ninepence.

The Baron marched on; the uneasiness in his foot increased. He plucked off his boot;—a horse’s tooth was sticking in his great toe!

The result may be anticipated. Lame as he was, his lordship with characteristic decision, would hobble on to Shurland; his walk increased the inflammation; a flagon of aqua vitæ did not mend matters. He was in a high fever; he took to his bed. Next morning the toe presented the appearance of a Bedfordshire carrot; by dinner time it had deepened to beet-root; and when Bargrave, the leech, at last sliced it off, the gangrene was too confirmed to admit of remedy. Dame Martin thought it high time to send for Miss Margaret, who, ever since her mother’s death, had been living with her maternal aunt, the abbess, in the Ursuline convent at Greenwich. The young lady came, and with her came one Master Ingoldsby, her cousin-german by the mother’s side; but the Baron was too far gone in the dead-thraw to recognise either. He died as he lived, unconquered and unconquerable. His last words were—“Tell the old hag she may go to ——.” Whither remains a secret. He expired without fully articulating the place of her destination.

But who and what was the crone who prophesied the catastrophe? 54 Ay, “that is the mystery of this wonderful history.”—Some say it was Dame Fothergill, the late confessor’s mamma; others, St. Bridget herself; others thought it was nobody at all, but only a phantom conjured up by conscience. As we do not know, we decline giving an opinion.

And what became of the Clerk of Chatham?—Mr. Simpkinson avers that he lived to a good old age, and was at last hanged by Jack Cade, with his inkhorn about his neck, for “setting boys copies.” In support of this he adduces his name “Emmanuel,” and refers to the historian Shakspeare. Mr. Peters, on the contrary, considers this to be what he calls one of Mr. Simpkinson’s “Anacreonisms,” inasmuch as, at the introduction of Mr. Cade’s reform measure, the Clerk, if alive, would have been hard upon two hundred years old. The probability is that the unfortunate alluded to was his great-grandson.

Margaret Shurland in due course became Margaret Ingoldsby: her portrait still hangs in the gallery at Tappington. The features are handsome, but shrewish, betraying as it were, a touch of the old Baron’s temperament; but we never could learn that she actually kicked her husband. She brought him a very pretty fortune in chains, owches, and Saracen ear-rings; the barony being a male fief, reverted to the Crown.

In the abbey-church at Minster may yet be seen the tomb of a recumbent warrior, clad in the chain-mail of the 13th century.4 His hands are clasped in prayer; his legs, crossed in that position so prized by Templars in ancient, and tailors in modern days, bespeak him a soldier of the faith in Palestine. Close behind his dexter calf lies sculptured in bold relief a horse’s head: and a respectable elderly lady, as she shows the monument, fails not to read her auditors a fine moral lesson on the sin of ingratitude, or to claim a sympathising tear to the memory of poor “Grey Dolphin!”

2 One of the uses to which this mystic chandelier was put, was the protection of secreted treasure. Blow out all the fingers at one puff and you had the money.

3 Since the appearance of the first edition of this Legend “the guns” have been dismounted. Rumour hints at some alarm on the part of the Town Council.

4 Subsequent to the first appearance of the foregoing narrative, the tomb alluded to has been opened during the course of certain repairs which the church has undergone. Mr. Simpkinson, who was present at the exhumation of the body within, and has enriched his collection with three of its grinders, says the bones of one of the great toes were wanting. He speaks in terms of great admiration at the thickness of the skull, and is of opinion that the skeleton is that of a great patriot much addicted to Lundy-foot.

Notes and Corrections: Grey Dolphin

skip to next chapter

“Grey Dolphin” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. I no. 4 (April 1837) as “Family Stories No. III: Grey Dolphin”. The three footnotes were added for the book—at least two of them probably for the second edition, as explained in the Preface.

For another take on Robert de Shurland, see Samuel Ireland’s Picturesque Views on the River Medway, complete with illustration.

Trivia: There are actually two Saints Bridget. The Swedish one, formally Birgitta, was active at the time of the Great Plague, while the Irish one, formally Brigid, is said to have lived in the 5th century. It is “said to” because her earliest biographies were written almost two centuries after her death, there is no hard evidence that she ever existed at all—and much of her story has become conflated with her namesake, the pre-Christian goddess Brigid. For what it’s worth, there are also two Saints Augustine: the church father Augustine of Hippo; and Augustine (“Austin”) of Canterbury.

“Emmanuel,” continued she
close quote missing

infang theofe and outfang theofe
text has outfang theof

Baron of Sheppey in comitatu Kent
text has Sheppy

to attend him in the chapel cemetery
text has cemetry

and like all other exceptions, only proved the rule the stronger
[Words cannot express how irritated I am at this early misuse of “The exception proves the rule”.]

swore roundly, “’Twere as good a deed as eat
apostrophe ’ missing

Simpkin Agnew, the bell-ringer, doubted
comma after “bell-ringer” missing

a murder now and then was a seasonable check to population
[If your aim is population control, a celibate priest doesn’t seem the best choice.]

a brother of our order, whose soul Heaven assoilzie!
[What on earth is the “z” doing there? Was there some kind of folk etymology involving a spurious ȝ yogh?]

from the Donjon to the borough of Staplegate,
text has . for ,

and they are all coming on as fast as ever they can.”
close quote missing

King Arthur’s was christened Excalibar
spelling unchanged
[The last time I saw this spelling—in a book from slightly later in the century—I corrected it because the serial version had the expected “Excalibur”. This time, Bentley’s also has “Excalibar”. Is this another of those names, like “Shak(e)speare”, whose spelling wasn’t fully canonicalized until the 20th century?]

Boniface the Eighth
[This pins the dramatic date down to 1294–1303. I would have guessed the author just picked the name out of a hat, but the date agrees with the reign of Edward I “Longshanks”.]

solemnly ejaculated the word “Humbug!” then, slinging the bridle across his arm
comma missing

Li beau Robert de Shurland
[Bentley’s gives the name as “Rafe de Shurlande”.]

a loud, “Ha! ha! ha!” was distinctly heard
open quote missing

a horse’s tooth was sticking in his great toe!
[Wait, wait, I know this one. In the year 892, Sigurd Eysteinsson, first Earl of Orkney,

challenged a local chieftain, Mael Brigte the Bucktoothed, head of the Mormaerdom, or kingdom, of Moray, to a 40 man per side battle. However, Sigurd cheated and showed up with 80 men. Outnumbered, the Scots were defeated and massacred, and Sigurd personally beheaded Mael Brigte. Tying the defeated leader’s head to his saddle as a trophy, Sigurd rounded up his men and rode back home to celebrate the victory. However, on the way back, as the severed head tied to the saddle bounced around, the bucktooth which gave Mael Brigte his nickname cut Sigurd’s leg. The cut became inflamed and infected, and Sigurd died of the infection before he got back home. ]

55

It is on my own personal reminiscences that I draw for the following story: the scene of its leading event was most familiar to me in early life. If the principal actor in it be yet living, he must have reached a very advanced age. He was often at the Hall, in my infancy, on professional visits. It is, however, only from those who “prated of his whereabouts” that I learned the history of this adventure with

The Ghost.

THERE stands a City,—neither large nor small,—

Its air and situation sweet and pretty;

It matters very little—if at all—

Whether its denizens are dull or witty,

Whether the ladies there are short or tall,

Brunettes or blonds, only, there stands a city!—

Perhaps ’tis also requisite to minute

That there’s a Castle and a Cobbler in it.

A fair Cathedral, too, the story goes,

And kings and heroes lie entombed within her;

There pious Saints in marble pomp repose,

Whose shrines are worn by knees of many a sinner;

There, too, full many an Aldermanic nose

Roll’d its loud diapason after dinner;

And there stood high the holy sconce of Becket,

—Till four assassins came from France to crack it.

The Castle was a huge and antique mound,

Proof against all th’ artillery of the quiver,

Ere those abominable guns were found,

To send cold lead through gallant warrior’s liver.

It stands upon a gently rising ground,

Sloping down gradually to the river,

Resembling (to compare great things with smaller)

A well-scooped, mouldy Stilton cheese—but taller.

56

The Keep, I find, ’s been sadly altered lately,

And ’stead of mail-clad knights, of honour jealous,

In martial panoply so grand and stately,

Its walls are filled with money-making fellows,

And stuff’d, unless I’m misinformed greatly,

With leaden pipes, and coke, and coals, and bellows;

In short, so great a change has come to pass,

’Tis now a manufactory of Gas.

But to my tale.—Before this profanation,

And ere its ancient glories were cut short all,

A poor hard-working Cobbler took his station

In a small house, just opposite the portal;

His birth, his parentage, and education,

I know but little of—a strange, odd mortal;

His aspect, air, and gait, were all ridiculous;

His name was Mason—he’d been christened Nicholas.

Nick had a wife possessed of many a charm,

And of the Lady Huntingdon persuasion;

But, spite of all her piety, her arm

She’d sometimes exercise when in a passion;

And, being of a temper somewhat warm,

Would now and then seize, upon small occasion,

A stick, or stool, or anything that round did lie,

And baste her lord and master most confoundedly.

No matter!—’tis a thing that’s not uncommon,

’Tis what we all have heard, and most have read of—

I mean a bruising, pugilistic woman,

Such as I own I entertain a dread of,

—And so did Nick, whom sometimes there would come on

A sort of fear his Spouse might knock his head off,

Demolish half his teeth, or drive a rib in,

She shone so much in “facers” and in “fibbing.”

“There’s time and place for all things,” said a sage

(King Solomon, I think), and this I can say,

Within a well-roped ring, or on a stage,

Boxing may be a very pretty Fancy,

57

When Messrs. Burke or Bendigo engage;

—’Tis not so well in Susan, Jane, or Nancy:—

To get well mill’d by any one’s an evil,

But by a lady—’tis the very Devil.

And so thought Nicholas, whose only trouble

(At least his worst) was this his rib’s propensity;

For sometimes from the alehouse he would hobble,

His senses lost in a sublime immensity

Of cogitation—then he couldn’t cobble—

And then his wife would often try the density

Of his poor skull, and strike with all her might,

As fast as kitchen-wenches strike a light.

Mason, meek soul, who ever hated strife,

Of this same striking had a morbid dread,

He hated it like poison—or his wife—

A vast antipathy!—but so he said—

And very often, for a quiet life,

On these occasions he’d sneak up to bed,

Grope darkling in, and, soon as at the door

He heard his lady—he’d pretend to snore.

One night, then, ever partial to society,

Nick, with a friend (another jovial fellow),

Went to a Club—I should have said Society—

At the “City Arms,” once called the Porto Bello;

A Spouting party, which, though some decry it, I

Consider no bad lounge when one is mellow;

There they discuss the tax on salt and leather,

And change of ministers and change of weather.

In short, it was a kind of British Forum,

Like John Gale Jones’s, erst in Piccadilly,

Only they managed things with more decorum,

And the orations were not quite so silly;

Far different questions, too, would come before ’em,

Not always Politics, which, will ye nill ye,

Their London prototypes were always willing

To give one quantum suff. of—for a shilling.

58

It more resembled one of later date,

And tenfold talent, as I’m told, in Bow-street,

Where kindlier-natured souls do congregate;

And, though there are who deem that same a low street,

Yet, I’m assured, for frolicsome debate

And genuine humour it’s surpassed by no street,

When the “Chief Baron” enters, and assumes

To “rule” o’er mimic “Thesigers” and “Broughams.”

woman in apron holding a three-legged stool, preparing to wallop a man

Here they would oft forget their Rulers’ faults,

And waste in ancient lore the midnight taper;

Inquire if Orpheus first produced the Waltz,

How Gas-lights differ from the Delphic Vapour,

Whether Hippocrates gave Glauber’s Salts,

And what the Romans wrote on ere they’d paper—

This night the subject of their disquisitions

Was Ghosts, Hobgoblins, Sprites, and Apparitions.

One learned gentleman, “a sage, grave man,”

Talk’d of the Ghost in Hamlet, “sheath’d in steel”—

His well-read friend, who next to speak began,

Said “That was Poetry, and nothing real;”

A third, of more extensive learning, ran

To Sir George Villiers’ Ghost, and Mrs. Veal;

Of sheeted Spectres spoke with shorten’d breath,

And thrice he quoted “Drelincourt on Death.”

Nick smoked, and smoked, and trembled as he heard

The point discuss’d, and all they said upon it,

How, frequently, some murder’d man appeared,

To tell his wife and children who had done it;

Or how a Miser’s ghost, with grisly beard,

And pale lean visage, in an old Scotch bonnet,

Wander’d about, to watch his buried money!

When all at once Nick heard the clock strike One,—he

fauns dancing with ladies in modern gowns

If Orpheus first produced the waltz

Sprang from his seat, not doubting but a lecture

Impended from his fond and faithful She;

Nor could he well to pardon him expect her,

For he had promised to “be home to tea;”

59

But having luckily the key o’ the back door,

He fondly hoped that, unperceived, he

Might creep up stairs again, pretend to doze,

And hoax his spouse with music from his nose.

Vain, fruitless hope!—The wearied sentinel

At eve may overlook the crouching foe,

Till, ere his hand can sound the alarum-bell,

He sinks beneath the unexpected blow;

Before the whiskers of Grimalkin fell,

When slumb’ring on her post, the mouse may go—

But woman, wakeful woman, ’s never weary,

—Above all, when she waits to thump her deary.

Soon Mrs. Mason heard the well-known tread;

She heard the key slow creaking in the door,

Spied, through the gloom obscure, towards the bed

Nick creeping soft, as oft he had crept before;

When, bang, she threw a something at his head,

And Nick at once lay prostrate on the floor;

While she exclaimed, with her indignant face on—

“How dare you use your wife so, Mr. Mason?”

Spare we to tell how fiercely she debated,

Especially the length of her oration—

Spare we to tell how Nick expostulated,

Roused by the bump into a good set passion,

So great, that more than once he execrated,

Ere he crawl’d into bed in his usual fashion;

—The Muses hate brawls; suffice it then to say,

He duck’d below the clothes—and there he lay!

’Twas now the very witching time of night,

When churchyards groan, and graves give up their dead

And many a mischievous, enfranchised Sprite

Had long since burst his bonds of stone or lead,

And hurried off, with schoolboy-like delight,

To play his pranks near some poor wretch’s bed,

Sleeping, perhaps serenely as a porpoise,

Nor dreaming of this fiendish Habeas Corpus.

60

Not so our Nicholas: his meditations

Still to the same tremendous theme recurr’d,

The same dread subject of the dark narrations,

Which, back’d with such authority, he’d heard:

Lost in his own horrific contemplations,

He ponder’d o’er each well-remember’d word;

When at the bed’s foot, close beside the post,

He verily believed he saw—a Ghost!

Plain, and more plain, the unsubstantial Sprite

To his astonish’d gaze each moment grew;

Ghastly and gaunt, it rear’d its shadowy height,

Of more than mortal seeming to the view,

And round its long, thin, bony fingers drew

A tatter’d winding-sheet, of course all white;

The moon that moment peeping through a cloud,

Nick very plainly saw it through the shroud!

And now those matted locks, which never yet

Had yielded to the comb’s unkind divorce,

Their long-contracted amity forget,

And spring asunder with elastic force;

Nay, e’en the very cap, of texture coarse,

Whose ruby cincture crown’d that brow of jet,

Uprose in agony—the Gorgon’s head

Was but a type of Nick’s up-squatting in the bed.

From every pore distill’d a clammy dew,

Quaked every limb—the candle, too, no doubt,

En règle, would have burnt extremely blue,

But Nick unluckily had put it out;

And he, though naturally bold and stout,

In short, was in a most tremendous stew;—

The room was fill’d with a sulphureous smell,

But where that came from Mason could not tell.

All motionless the Spectre stood—and now

Its rev’rend form more clearly shone confest,

From the pale cheek a beard of purest snow

Descended o’er its venerable breast;

61

The thin grey hairs, that crown’d its furrow’d brow,

Told of years long gone by.—An awful guest

It stood, and with an action of command,

Beckon’d the Cobbler with its wan right hand.

emaciated man in frayed robes, beckoning

“Whence, and what art thou, Execrable Shape?”

Nick might have cried, could he have found a tongue,

But his distended jaws could only gape,

And not a sound upon the welkin rung;

His gooseberry orbs seem’d as they would have sprung

Forth from their sockets—like a frighten’d Ape

He sat upon his haunches, bolt upright,

And shook, and grinn’d, and chatter’d with affright.

And still the shadowy finger, long and lean,

Now beckon’d Nick, now pointed to the door;

And many an ireful glance, and frown, between,

The angry visage of the Phantom wore,

As if quite vex’d that Nick would do no more

Than stare, without e’en asking, “What d’ ye mean?”

Because, as we are told—a sad old joke, too—

Ghosts, like the ladies, “never speak till spoke to.”

Cowards, ’tis said, in certain situations,

Derive a sort of courage from despair,

And then perform, from downright desperation,

Much more than many a bolder man would dare.

Nick saw the Ghost was getting in a passion,

And therefore, groping till he found the chair,

Seiz’d on his awl, crept softly out of bed,

And follow’d, quaking, where the Spectre led.

And down the winding stair, with noiseless tread,

The tenant of the tomb pass’d slowly on,

Each mazy turning of the humble shed

Seem’d to his step at once familiar grown,

So safe and sure the labyrinth did he tread

As though the domicile had been his own,

Though Nick himself, in passing through the shop,

Had almost broke his nose against the mop.

62

Despite its wooden bolt, with jarring sound,

The door upon its hinges open flew;

And forth the Spirit issued—yet around

It turn’d, as if its follower’s fears it knew,

And, once more beckoning, pointed to the mound,

The antique Keep, on which the bright moon threw

With such effulgence her mild silvery gleam,

The visionary form seem’d melting in her beam.

Beneath a pond’rous archway’s sombre shade,

Where once the huge portcullis swung sublime,

’Mid ivied battlements in ruin laid,

Sole, sad memorials of the olden time,

The Phantom held its way—and though afraid

Even of the owls that sung their vesper chime,

Pale Nicholas pursued, its steps attending,

And wondering what on earth it all would end in.

Within the mouldering fabric’s deep recess

At length they reached a court obscure and lone—

It seem’d a drear and desolate wilderness,

The blacken’d walls with ivy all o’ergrown;

The night-bird shriek’d her note of wild distress,

Disturb’d upon her solitary throne,

As though indignant mortal step should dare,

So led, at such an hour, to venture there!

—The apparition paused, and would have spoke,

Pointing to what Nick thought an iron ring,

But then a neighbouring chanticleer awoke,

And loudly ’gan his early matins sing;

And then “it started like a guilty thing,”

As that shrill clarion the silence broke.

—We know how much dead gentlefolks eschew

The appalling sound of “Cock-a-doodle-do!”

translucent ghost addresses startled plump man in a crypt

THE GHOST.

p. 62.

The vision was no more—and Nick alone—

“His streamers waving” in the midnight wind,

Which through the ruins ceased not to groan;

—His garment, too, was somewhat short behind,—

63

And, worst of all, he knew not where to find

The ring,—which made him most his fate bemoan—

The iron ring,—no doubt of some trap-door,

’Neath which the old dead Miser kept his store.

“What’s to be done?” he cried; “’Twere vain to stay

Here in the dark without a single clue—

Oh, for a candle now, or moonlight ray!

’Fore George, I’m vastly puzzled what to do”

(Then clapp’d his hand behind),—“’Tis chilly, too—

I’ll mark the spot, and come again by day.

What can I mark it by?—Oh, here’s the wall—

The mortar’s yielding—here I’ll stick my awl!”

Then rose from earth to sky a withering shriek,

A loud, a long protracted note of woe,

Such as when tempests roar, and timbers creak,

And o’er the side the masts in thunder go;

While on the deck resistless billows break,

And drag their victims to the gulfs below;—

Such was the scream when, for the want of candle,

Nick Mason drove his awl in up to the handle.

Scared by his Lady’s heart-appalling cry,

Vanish’d at once poor Mason’s golden dream—

For dream it was;—and all his visions high,

Of wealth and grandeur, fled before that scream—

And still he listens with averted eye,

When gibing neighbours make “the Ghost” their theme;

While ever from that hour they all declare

That Mrs. Mason used a cushion in her chair!

Notes and Corrections: The Ghost

If “The Ghost” was published anywhere before the First Series of Ingoldsby Legends, I couldn’t find it.

And change of ministers and change of weather.
text has , for .

To “rule” o’er mimic “Thesigers” and “Broughams.”
final punctuation missing

64

Confound not, I beseech thee, reader, the subject of the following monody with the hapless hero of the tea-urn, Cupid, of “Yow-Yow-ing” memory. Tray was an attached favourite of many years’ standing. Most people worth loving have had a friend of this kind; Lord Byron says he “never had but one, and here he (the dog, not the nobleman) lies!”

The Cynotaph

Poor Tray charmant!

Poor Tray de mon ami!

Dog-bury and Vergers.

OH! where shall I bury my poor dog Tray,

Now his fleeting breath has passed away?—

Seventeen years, I can venture to say,

Have I seen him gambol, and frolic, and play,

Evermore happy, and frisky, and gay,

As though every one of his months was May,

And the whole of his life one long holiday—

Now he’s a lifeless lump of clay,

Oh! where shall I bury my faithful Tray?

I am almost tempted to think it hard

That it may not be there, in yon sunny churchyard.

Where the green willows wave

O’er the peaceful grave,

Which holds all that once was honest and brave,

Kind, and courteous, and faithful, and true;

Qualities, Tray, that were found in you.

But it may not be—yon sacred ground

By holiest feelings fenced around,

May ne’er within its hallow’d bound

Receive the dust of a soul-less hound.

I would not place him in yonder fane,

Where the mid-day sun through the storied pane

Throws on the pavement a crimson stain;

Where the banners of chivalry heavily swing

O’er the pinnacled tomb of the Warrior King,

With helmet and shield, and all that sort of thing.

65

No!—come what may,

My gentle Tray

Shan’t be an intruder on bluff Harry Tudor,

Or panoplied monarchs yet earlier and ruder

Whom you see on their backs,

In stone or in wax,

Though the Sacristans now are “forbidden to ax”

For what Mr. Hume calls “a scandalous tax;”

While the Chartists insist they’ve a right to go snacks—

No!—Tray’s humble tomb would look but shabby

’Mid the sculptured shrines of that gorgeous Abbey.

Besides, in the place

They say there’s not space

To bury what wet-nurses call a “Babby.”

Even “Rare Ben Jonson,” that famous wight,

I am told, is interr’d there bolt upright,

In just such a posture, beneath his bust,

As Tray used to sit in to beg for a crust.

The epitaph, too,

Would scarcely do:

For what could it say, but, “Here lies Tray,

A very good kind of a dog in his day!”

And satirical folks might be apt to imagine it

Meant as a quiz on the House of Plantagenet.

No! no!—The Abbey may do very well

For a feudal “Nob,” or poetical “Swell,”

“Crusaders,” or “Poets,” or “Knights of St. John,”

Or Knights of St. John’s Wood, who once went on

To the Castle of Goode Lorde Eglintoune.

Count Fiddle-fumkin, and Lord Fiddle-faddle,

“Sir Cravan,” “Sir Gael,” and “Sir Campbell of Saddell”

(Who, as poor Hook said, when he heard of the feat,

“Was somehow knock’d out of his family-seat”);

The Esquires of the body

To my Lord Tomnoddy;

“Sir Fairlie,” “Sir Lambe,”

And the “Knight of the Ram,”

The “Knight of the Rose,” and the “Knight of the Dragon,”

Who, save at the flagon,

And prog in the wagon,

The newspapers tell us did little “to brag on;”

And more, though the Muse knows but little concerning ’em,

“Sir Hopkins,” “Sir Popkins,” “Sir Gage,” and “Sir Jerningham.”

66

All Preux Chevaliers, in friendly rivalry

Who should best bring back the glory of Chi-valry.—

—(Pray be so good, for the sake of my song,

To pronounce here the ante-penultimate long;

Or some hyper-critic will certainly cry,

“The word ‘Chivalry’ is but a rhyme to the eye.”

And I own it is clear

A fastidious ear

Will be, more or less, always annoy’d with you when you in-

sert any rhyme that’s not perfectly genuine.

As to pleasing the “eye”

’Tisn’t worth while to try,

Since Moore and Tom Campbell themselves admit “Spinach”

Is perfectly antiphonetic to “Greenwich.”)—

But stay!—I say!

Let me pause while I may—

This digression is leading me sadly astray

From my object—a grave for my poor dog Tray!

I would not place him beneath thy walls,

And proud o’ershadowing dome, St. Paul’s!

Though I’ve always consider’d Sir Christopher Wren,

As an architect, one of the greatest of men;

And, talking of Epitaphs,—much I admire his,

“Circumspice si Monumentum requiris;

Which an erudite Verger translated to me,

“If you ask for his monument, Sir-come-spy-see!—”

No!—I should not know where

To place him there;

I would not have him by surly Johnson be;—

Or that queer-looking horse that is rolling on Ponsonby;—

Or those ugly minxes

The sister Sphynxes,

Mix’d creatures, half lady, half lioness, ergo,

(Denon says), the emblems of Leo and Virgo;

On one of the backs of which singular jumble,

Sir Ralph Abercrombie is going to tumble,

With a thump which alone were enough to despatch him,

If the Scotchman in front shouldn’t happen to catch him.

No! I’d not have him there,—nor nearer the door,

Where the man and the Angel have got Sir John Moore,5

67

And are quietly letting him down through the floor,

By Gillespie, the one who escaped, at Vellore.

Alone from the row;—

Neither he, nor Lord Howe

Would like to be plagued with a little Bow-wow.

No, Tray, we must yield,

And go further a-field;

To lay you by Nelson were downright effront’ry;

—We’ll be off from the City, and look at the country.

It shall not be there,

In that sepulchred square,

Where folks are interr’d for the sake of the air

(Though, pay but the dues, they could hardly refuse

To Tray what they grant to Thuggs, and Hindoos,

Turks, Infidels, Heretics, Jumpers, and Jews),

Where the tombstones are placed

In the very best taste,

At the feet and the head

Of the elegant Dead,

And no one’s received who’s not “buried in lead:”

For, there lie the bones of Deputy Jones,

Whom the widow’s tears, and the orphan’s groans

Affected as much as they do the stones

His executors laid on the Deputy’s bones;

Little rest, poor knave!

Would Tray have in his grave;

Since Spirits, ’tis plain,

Are sent back again,

To roam round their bodies,—the bad ones in pain,—

Dragging after them sometimes a heavy jack-chain;

Whenever they met, alarm’d by its groans, his

Ghost all night long would be barking at Jones’s.

Nor shall he be laid

By that cross old maid,

Miss Penelope Bird,—of whom it is said

All the dogs in the parish were ever afraid.

He must not be placed

By one so strait-laced

In her temper, her taste, her morals, and waist.

For ’tis said, when she went up to Heaven, and St. Peter,

Who happened to meet her,

Came forward to greet her,

She pursed up with scorn every vinegar feature.

And bade him “Get out for a horrid Male Creature!”

So the Saint, after looking as if he could eat her,

Not knowing, perhaps, very well how to treat her,

68

And not being willing,—or able,—to beat her,

Sent her back to her grave till her temper grew sweeter,

With an epithet which I decline to repeat here.

No,—if Tray were interr’d

By Penelope Bird,

No dog would be e’er so be-“whelp” ’d and be-“cur” r’d—

All the night long her cantankerous Sprite

Would be running about in the pale moon-light.

Chasing him round, and attempting to lick

The ghost of poor Tray with the ghost of a stick.

Stay!—let me see!—

Ay—here it shall be

At the root of this gnarled and time-worn tree,

Where Tray and I

Would often lie,

And watch the bright clouds as they floated by

In the broad expanse of the clear blue sky,

When the sun was bidding the world good-bye;

And the plaintive Nightingale, warbling nigh,

Poured forth her mournful melody;

While the tender Wood-pigeon’s cooing cry

Has made me say to myself, with a sigh,

“How nice you would eat with a steak in a pie!”

Ay, here it shall be!—far, far from the view

Of the noisy world and its maddening crew

Simple and few,

Tender and true

The lines o’er his grave.—They have, some of them, too,

The advantage of being remarkably new.

Epitaph.

Affliction sore

Long time he bore,

Physicians were in vain!—

Grown blind, alas! he’d

Some Prussic Acid,

And that put him out of his pain!

female ghost chasing a dog through a graveyard

THE CYNOTAPH.

p. 68.

Note, Page 66.

In the autumn of 1824, Captain Medwin having hinted that certain beautiful lines on the burial of this gallant officer might have been the production of Lord Byron’s Muse, the late Mr. Sydney Taylor, somewhat indignantly, claimed them for their rightful 69 owner, the late Rev. Charles Wolfe. During the controversy a third claimant started up in the person of a soi-disant “Doctor Marshall,” who turned out to be a Durham blacksmith, and his pretensions a hoax. It was then that a certain “Doctor Peppercorn” put forth his pretensions, to what he averred was the only “true and original” version, viz.—

Not a sous had he got,—not a guinea or note,

And he look’d confoundedly flurried,

As he bolted away without paying his shot,

And the Landlady after him hurried.

We saw him again at dead of night,

When home from the Club returning;

We twigg’d the Doctor beneath the light

Of the gas-lamp brilliantly burning.

All bare, and exposed to the midnight dews,

Reclined in the gutter we found him:

And he look’d like a gentleman taking a snooze,

With his Marshall cloak around him.

“The Doctor’s as drunk as the d—l,” we said,

And we managed a shutter to borrow;

We raised him, and sigh’d at the thought that his head

Would “consumedly ache” on the morrow.

We bore him home, and we put him to bed,

And we told his wife and his daughter

To give him, next morning, a couple of red

Herrings, with soda-water.—

Loudly they talk’d of his money that’s gone,

And his Lady began to upbraid him;

But little he reck’d, so they let him snore on

’Neath the counterpane just as we laid him.

We tuck’d him in, and had hardly done

When, beneath the window calling,

We heard the rough voice of a son of a gun

Of a watchman “One o’clock!” bawling.

Slowly and sadly we all walk’d down

From his room in the uppermost story;

A rushlight we placed on the cold hearth-stone,

And we left him alone in his glory.

Hos ego versiculos feci, tulit alter honores.—Virgil.

I wrote the lines—* * owned them—he told stories!

Thomas Ingoldsby.

5 See note at end of “The Cynotaph.”

Notes and Corrections: The Cynotaph

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“The Cynotaph” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. VI no. 4 (October 1839) as “Cœlebs in Search of a Cenotaph”. The endnote, with its eight stanzas of verse, was added for the book, along with the footnote referencing it.

I was all set to observe, wittily, that the book’s spelling “cynotaph” must be called a hypercorrection, unless you are looking for a place to entomb your dog (κυνος). But that, it turns out, is precisely what the poem is about.

when you in- / sert any rhyme that’s not perfectly genuine.
[Corrected, as usual, from Bentley’s. The book has

. . . when you

Insert any rhyme . . .

which botches the rhyme.]

And, talking of Epitaphs,—much I admire his, / “Circumspice si Monumentum requiris;
open quote missing

No dog would be e’er so be-“whelp” ’d and be-“cur” r’d
[Bentley’s writes it be-“whelp”ed and be-“curr”ed.]

70

worried-looking cow running through high grass

MRS. BOTHERBY’S STORY.
----
The Leech of Folkestone.

READER, were you ever bewitched?—I do not mean by a “white wench’s black eye,” or by love-potions imbibed from a ruby lip;—but, were you ever really and bona fide bewitched, in the true Matthew Hopkins’ sense of the word? Did you ever, for instance, find yourself from head to heel one vast complication of cramps?—or burst out into sudorific exudation like a cold thaw, with the thermometer at zero? Were your eyes ever turned upside down, exhibiting nothing but their whites?—Did you ever vomit a paper of crooked pins? or expectorate Whitechapel needles? These are genuine and undoubted marks of possession; and if you never experienced any of them,—why, “happy man be his dole!”

Yet such things have been: yea, we are assured, and that on no mean authority, still are.

The World, according to the best geographers, is divided into Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Romney Marsh. In this last-named, and fifth quarter of the globe, a witch may still be occasionally discovered in favourable, i.e., stormy, seasons, weathering Dungeness Point in an eggshell, or careering on her broomstick over Dymchurch wall. A cow may yet be sometimes seen galloping like mad, with tail erect, and an old pair of breeches on her horns, an unerring guide to the door of the crone whose magic arts have drained her udder. I do not, however, remember to have heard that any Conjuror has of late been detected in the district.

Not many miles removed from the verge of this recondite region, stands a collection of houses, which its maligners call a fishing-town, and its well-wishers a Watering-place. A limb of one of the Cinque Ports, it has (or lately had) a corporation of its own, and has been thought considerable enough to give a second title to a noble family. Rome stood on seven hills; Folkestone seems to have been built upon seventy. Its streets, lanes, and alleys,—fanciful distinctions without much real difference,—are agreeable enough to persons who do not mind running up and down stairs; and the only inconvenience at all felt by such of its inhabitants as are not asthmatic, is when some heedless urchin tumbles down a chimney, or an impertinent pedestrian peeps into a garret window.

71

At the eastern extremity of the town, on the sea-beach, and scarcely above high-water mark, stood, in the good old times, a row of houses then denominated “Frog-hole.” Modern refinement subsequently euphonised the name into “East-street;” but “what’s in a name?” the encroachments of Ocean have long since levelled all in one common ruin.

Here, in the early part of the seventeenth century, flourished in somewhat doubtful reputation, but comparative opulence, a compounder of medicines, one Master Erasmus Buckthorne; the effluvia of whose drugs from within, mingling agreeably with the “ancient and fish-like smells” from without, wafted a delicious perfume throughout the neighbourhood.

At seven of the clock, on the morning when Mrs. Botherby’s narrative commences, a stout Suffolk “punch” about thirteen hands and a half in height, was slowly led up and down before the door of the pharmacopolist by a lean and withered lad, whose appearance warranted an opinion, pretty generally expressed, that his master found him as useful in experimentalising as in household drudgery; and that, for every pound avoirdupois of solid meat he swallowed, at the least two pounds troy weight of chemicals and galenicals. As the town clock struck the quarter, Master Buckthorne emerged from his laboratory, and putting the key carefully into his pocket, mounted the sure-footed cob aforesaid, and proceeded up and down the acclivities and declivities of the town with the gravity due to his station and profession. When he reached the open country, his pace was increased to a sedate canter, which, in somewhat more than half-an-hour, brought “the horse and his rider” in front of a handsome and substantial mansion, the numerous gable-ends and bayed windows of which bespoke the owner a man of worship, and one well to do in the world.

“How now, Hodge Gardener?” quoth the Leech, scarcely drawing bit; for Punch seemed to be aware that he had reached his destination, and paused of his own accord; “How now, man? How fares thine employer, worthy Master Marsh? How hath he done? How hath he slept? My potion hath done its office? Ha!”

“Alack! ill at ease, worthy sir, ill at ease,” returned the hind; “his honour is up and stirring; but he hath rested none, and complaineth that the same gnawing pain devoureth, as it were, his very vitals: in sooth he is ill at ease.”

“Morrow, doctor!” interrupted a voice from a casement opening on the lawn. “Good morrow! I have looked for, longed for, thy coming this hour and more; enter at once; the pastry and tankard are impatient for thine attack!”

72

“Marry, Heaven forbid that I should baulk their fancy!” quoth the Leech sotto voce, as, abandoning the bridle to honest Hodge, he dismounted, and followed a buxom-looking handmaiden into the breakfast parlour.

There, at the head of his well-furnished board, sat Master Thomas Marsh, of Marston-hall, a yeoman well respected in his degree: one of that sturdy and sterling class which, taking rank immediately below the Esquire (a title in its origin purely military), occupied, in the wealthier counties, the position in society now filled by the Country Gentleman. He was one of those of whom the proverb ran:—

“A Knight of Cales,

A Gentleman of Wales,

And a Laird of the North Countree:

A Yeoman of Kent,

With his yearly rent,

Will buy them out all three!”

A cold sirloin, big enough to frighten a Frenchman, filled the place of honour, counter-checked by a game-pie of no stinted dimensions; while a silver flagon of “humming-bub,”—viz. ale strong enough to blow a man’s beaver off—smiled opposite in treacherous amenity. The sideboard groaned beneath sundry massive cups and waiters of the purest silver; while the huge skull of a fallow deer, with its branching horns, frowned majestically above. All spoke of affluence, of comfort,—all save the master, whose restless eye and feverish look hinted but too plainly the severest mental or bodily disorder. By the side of the proprietor of the mansion sat his consort, a lady now past the bloom of youth, yet still retaining many of its charms. The clear olive of her complexion, and “the darkness of her Andalusian eye,” at once betrayed her foreign origin; in fact, her “lord and master,” as husbands were even then, by a legal fiction, denominated, had taken her to his bosom in a foreign country. The cadet of his family, Master Thomas Marsh had early in life been engaged in commerce. In the pursuit of his vocation he had visited Antwerp, Hamburg, and most of the Hanse Towns; and had already formed a tender connection with the orphan offspring of one of old Alva’s officers, when the unexpected deaths of one immediate and two presumptive heirs placed him next in succession to the family acres. He married, and brought home his bride: who, by the decease of the venerable possessor, heart-broken at the loss of his elder children, became eventually lady of Marston-hall. It has been said that she was beautiful, yet was her beauty of a character 73 that operates on the fancy more than the affections; she was one to be admired rather than loved. The proud curl of her lip, the firmness of her tread, her arched brow and stately carriage, showed the decision, not to say haughtiness, of her soul; while her glances, whether lightening with anger, or melting in extreme softness, betrayed the existence of passions as intense in kind as opposite in quality. She rose as Erasmus entered the parlour, and bestowing on him a look fraught with meaning, quitted the room, leaving him in unrestrained communication with his patient.

“’Fore George, Master Buckthorne!” exclaimed the latter, as the Leech drew near, “I will no more of your pharmacy;—burn, burn, gnaw, gnaw,—I had as lief the foul fiend were in my gizzard as one of your drugs. Tell me, in the devil’s name, what is the matter with me!”

Thus conjured, the practitioner paused, and even turned somewhat pale. There was a perceptible faltering in his voice, as evading the question, he asked, “What say your other physicians?”

“Doctor Phiz says it is wind,—Doctor Fuz says it is water,—and Doctor Buz says it is something between wind and water.”

“They are all of them wrong,” said Erasmus Buckthorne.

“Truly, I think so,” returned the patient. “They are manifest asses; but you, good Leech, you are a horse of another colour. The world talks loudly of your learning, your skill, and cunning in arts the most abstruse; nay, sooth to say, some look coldly on you therefore, and stickle not to aver that you are cater-cousin with Beelzebub himself.”

“It is ever the fate of science,” murmured the professor, “to be maligned by the ignorant and superstitious. But a truce with such folly;—let me examine your palate.”

Master Marsh thrust out a tongue long, clear, and red as a beet-root. “There is nothing wrong there,” said the Leech. “Your wrist:—no;—the pulse is firm and regular, the skin cool and temperate. Sir, there is nothing the matter with you!”

“Nothing the matter with me, Sir ’Potecary?—But I tell you there is the matter with me,—much the matter with me. Why is it that something seems ever gnawing at my heart strings?—Whence this pain in the region of the liver?—Why is it that I sleep not o’ nights,—rest not o’ days? Why——”

“You are fidgety, Master Marsh,” said the doctor.

Master Marsh’s brow grew dark: he half rose from his seat, supported himself by both hands on the arms of his elbow chair, and in accents of mingled anger and astonishment repeated the word “Fidgety!”

“Ay, fidgety,” returned the doctor, calmly. “Tut, man, there 74 is nought ails thee save thine own overweening fancies. Take less of food, more air, put aside thy flagon, call for thy horse; be boot and saddle the word! Why, hast thou not youth?—”

“I have,” said the patient.

“Wealth and a fair domain?”

“Granted,” quoth Marsh, cheerily.

“And a fair wife?”

“Yea,” was the response, but in a tone something less satisfied.

“Then arouse thee, man, shake off this fantasy, betake thyself to thy lawful occasions—use thy good hap,—follow thy pleasures, and think no more of these fancied ailments.”

“But I tell you, master mine, these ailments are not fancied. I lose my rest, I loathe my food, my doublet sits loosely on me,—these racking pains. My wife, too, when I meet her gaze, the cold sweat stands on my forehead, and I could almost think——” Marsh paused abruptly, mused a while, then added, looking steadily at his visitor, “These things are not right; they pass the common, Master Erasmus Buckthorne.”

A slight shade crossed the brow of the Leech, but its passage was momentary; his features softened to a smile, in which pity seemed slightly blended with contempt. “Have done with such follies, Master Marsh. You are well, an you would but think so. Ride, I say, hunt, shoot, do anything,—disperse these melancholic humours, and become yourself again.”

“Well, I will do your bidding,” said Marsh, thoughtfully. “It may be so; and yet,—but I will do your bidding. Master Cobb of Brenzet writes me that he hath a score or two of fat ewes to be sold a pennyworth; I had thought to have sent Ralph Looker, but I will essay to go myself. Ho, there!—saddle me the brown mare, and bid Ralph be ready to attend me on the gelding.”

An expression of pain contracted the features of Master Marsh as he rose and slowly quitted the apartment to prepare for his journey; while the Leech, having bidden him farewell, vanished through an opposite door, and betook himself to the private boudoir of the fair mistress of Marston, muttering as he went a quotation from a then newly-published play,

“Not poppy, nor mandragora,

Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,

Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep

Which thou own’dst yesterday.”

* * * * *

Of what passed at this interview between the Folkestone doctor and the fair Spaniard, Mrs. Botherby declares she could 75 never obtain any satisfactory elucidation. Not that tradition is silent on the subject,—quite the contrary; it is the abundance, not paucity, of the materials she supplies, and the consequent embarrassment of selection, that makes the difficulty. Some have averred that the Leech, whose character, as has been before hinted, was more than threadbare, employed his time in teaching her the mode of administering certain noxious compounds, the unconscious partaker whereof would pine and die so slowly and gradually as to defy suspicion. Others there were who affirmed that Lucifer himself was then and there raised in propriâ personâ, with all his terrible attributes of horn and hoof. In support of this assertion, they adduce the testimony of the aforesaid buxom housemaid, who protested that the Hall smelt that evening like a manufactory of matches. All, however, seemed to agree that the confabulation, whether human or infernal, was conducted with profound secrecy, and protracted to a considerable length; that its object, as far as could be divined, meant anything but good to the head of the family; that the lady, moreover, was heartily tired of her husband; and that, in the event of his removal by disease or casualty, Master Erasmus Buckthorne, albeit a great philosophist, would have no violent objection to “throw physic to the dogs,” and exchange his laboratory for the estate of Marston, its live stock included. Some, too, have inferred that to him did Madame Isabel seriously incline; while others have thought, induced perhaps by subsequent events, that she was merely using him for her purposes; that one José, a tall, bright-eyed, hook-nosed stripling from her native land, was a personage not unlikely to put a spoke in the doctor’s wheel; and that, should such a chance arise, the Sage, wise as he was, would, after all, run no slight risk of being “bamboozled.”

Master José was a youth well-favoured, and comely to look upon. His office was that of page to the dame; an office which, after long remaining in abeyance, has been of late years revived, as may well be seen in the persons of sundry smart hobbledehoys, now constantly to be met with on staircases and in boudoirs, clad, for the most part, in garments fitted tightly to the shape, the lower moiety adorned with a broad stripe of crimson or silver lace, and the upper with what the first Wit of our times has described as “a favourable eruption of buttons.” The precise duties of this employment have never, as far as we have heard, been accurately defined. The perfuming a handkerchief, the combing a lap-dog, and the occasional presentation of a sippet-shaped billet doux, are, and always have been, among them; but these a young gentleman standing five foot ten, and aged nineteen “last grass,” might well be supposed to have outgrown. José, however, kept his place, perhaps because 76 he was not fit for any other. To the conference between his mistress and the physician he had not been admitted; his post was to keep watch and ward in the ante-room; and, when the interview was concluded, he attended the lady and her visitor as far as the courtyard, where he held with all due respect, the stirrup for the latter, as he once more resumed his position on the back of Punch.

Who is it that says, “little pitchers have large ears?” Some deep metaphysician of the potteries, who might have added that they have also quick eyes, and sometimes silent tongues. There was a little metaphorical piece of crockery of this class, who, screened by a huge elbow-chair, had sat a quiet and unobserved spectator of the whole proceedings between her mamma and Master Erasmus Buckthorne. This was Miss Marian Marsh, a rosy-cheeked laughter-loving imp of some six years old; but one who could be mute as a mouse when the fit was on her. A handsome and highly-polished cabinet of the darkest ebony occupied a recess at one end of the apartment; this had long been a great subject of speculation to little Miss. Her curiosity, however, had always been repelled; nor had all her coaxing even won her an inspection of the thousand and one pretty things which its recesses no doubt contained. On this occasion it was unlocked, and Marian was about to rush forward in eager anticipation of a peep at its interior, when, child as she was, the reflection struck her that she would stand a better chance of carrying her point by remaining perdue. Fortune for once favoured her: she crouched closer than before, and saw her mother take something from one of the drawers, which she handed over to the Leech. Strange mutterings followed, and words whose sound was foreign to her youthful ears. Had she been older, their import, perhaps, might have been equally unknown. After a while there was a pause; and then the lady, as in answer to a requisition from the gentleman, placed in his hand a something which she took from her toilet. The transaction, whatever its nature, seemed now to be complete, and the article was carefully replaced in the drawer from which it had been taken. A long, and apparently interesting, conversation then took place between the parties, carried on in a low tone. At its termination, Mistress Marsh and Master Erasmus Buckthorne quitted the boudoir together. But the cabinet!—ay, that was left unfastened; the folding doors still remained invitingly expanded, the bunch of keys dangling from the lock. In an instant the spoiled child was in a chair; the drawer so recently closed, yielded at once to her hand, and her hurried researches were rewarded by the prettiest little waxen doll imaginable. It was a first-rate prize, and Miss lost no time in appropriating it to herself. Long before Madame Marsh had returned to her Sanctum Marian 77 was seated under a laurustinus in the garden, nursing her new baby with the most affectionate solicitude.

* * * * *

“Susan, look here; see what a nasty scratch I have got upon my hand,” said the young lady, when routed out at length from her hiding-place to her noontide meal.

“Yes, Miss, this is always the way with you! mend, mend, mend,—nothing but mend! Scrambling about among the bushes, and tearing your clothes to rags. What with you, and with madam’s farthingales and kirtles, a poor bower-maiden has a fine time of it!”

“But I have not torn my clothes, Susan, and it was not the bushes; it was the doll: only see what a great ugly pin I have pulled out of it! and look, here is another!” As she spoke, Marian drew forth one of those extended pieces of black pointed wire, with which, in the days of toupees and pompoons, our fore-mothers were wont to secure their fly caps and head-gear from the impertinent assaults of “Zephyrus, and the Little Breezes.”

“And pray, Miss, where did you get this pretty doll, as you call it?” asked Susan, turning over the puppet, and viewing it with a scrutinising eye.

“Mamma gave it me,” said the child.—This was a fib.

“Indeed!” quoth the girl thoughtfully; and then, in a half soliloquy, and a lower key, “Well? I wish I may die if it doesn’t look like master! But come to your dinner, Miss! Hark! the bell is striking One!

Meanwhile Master Thomas Marsh, and his man Ralph, were threading the devious paths, then, as now, most pseudonymously dignified with the name of roads, that wound between Marston Hall and the frontier of Romney Marsh. Their progress was comparatively slow; for though the brown mare was as good a roadster as man might back, and the gelding no mean nag of his hands, yet the tracts, rarely traversed save by the rude wains of the day, miry in the “bottoms,” and covered with loose and rolling stones on the higher grounds, rendered barely passable the perpetual alternation of hill and valley.

The master rode on in pain, and the man in listlessness; although the intercourse between two individuals so situated was much less restrained in those days than might suit the refinement of a later age, little passed approximating to conversation beyond an occasional and half-stifled groan from the one, or a vacant whistle from the other. An hour’s riding had brought them among the woods of Acryse; and they were about to descend one of those green and leafy lanes, rendered by matted and overarching branches alike impervious to shower or sunbeam, when a sudden and violent 78 spasm seized on Master Marsh, and nearly caused him to fall from his horse. With some difficulty he succeeded in dismounting, and seating himself by the roadside. Here he remained for a full half-hour in great apparent agony; the cold sweat rolled in large round drops adown his clammy forehead, a universal shivering palsied every limb, his eye-balls appeared to be starting from their sockets, and to his attached, though dull and heavy serving-man, he seemed as one struggling in the pangs of impending dissolution. His groans rose thick and frequent; and the alarmed Ralph was hesitating between his disinclination to leave him, and his desire to procure such assistance as one of the few cottages, rarely sprinkled in that wild country, might afford, when, after a long-drawn sigh, his master’s features as suddenly relaxed; he declared himself better, the pang had passed away, and, to use his own expression, he “felt as if a knife had been drawn from out his very heart.” With Ralph’s assistance, after a while, he again reached his saddle; and though still ill at ease, from a deep-seated and gnawing pain, which ceased not, as he averred, to torment him, the violence of the paroxysm was spent, and it returned no more.

Master and man pursued their way with increased speed, as emerging from the wooded defiles, they at length neared the coast; then, leaving the romantic castle of Saltwood, with its neighbouring town of Hithe, a little on their left, they proceeded along the ancient paved causeway, and, crossing the old Roman road, or Watling, plunged again into the woods that stretched between Lympne and Ostenhanger.

The sun rode high in the heavens, and its meridian blaze was powerfully felt by man and horse, when, again quitting their leafy covert, the travellers debouched on the open plain of Aldington Frith, a wide tract of unenclosed country stretching down to the very borders of “the Marsh” itself.

Here it was, in the neighbouring chapelry, the site of which may yet be traced by the curious antiquary, that Elizabeth Barton, the “Holy Maid of Kent,” had, something less than a hundred years previous to the period of our narrative, commenced that series of supernatural pranks which eventually procured for her head an unenvied elevation upon London Bridge; and though the parish had since enjoyed the benefit of the incumbency of Master Erasmus’s illustrious and enlightened Namesake, still, truth to tell, some of the old leaven was even yet supposed to be at work. The place had, in fact, an ill name; and, though Popish miracles had ceased to electrify its denizens, spells and charms, operating by a no less wondrous agency, were said to have taken their place. Warlocks, and other unholy subjects of Satan, were reported to make its wild 79 recesses their favourite rendezvous, and that to an extent which eventually attracted the notice of no less a person than the sagacious Matthew Hopkins himself, Witchfinder-General to the British Government.

A great portion of the Frith, or Fright, as the name was then, and is still, pronounced, had formerly been a Chase, with rights of Free-warren, etc., appertaining to the Archbishops of the Province. Since the Reformation, however, it had been disparked; and when Master Thomas Marsh and his man Ralph entered upon its confines, the open greensward exhibited a lively scene, sufficiently explanatory of certain sounds that had already reached their ears while yet within the sylvan screen that concealed their origin.

It was Fair-day; booths, stalls, and all the rude paraphernalia of an assembly that then met as much for the purposes of traffic as festivity, were scattered irregularly over the turf; pedlars with their packs, horse-croupers, pig-merchants, itinerant venders of crockery and cutlery, wandered promiscuously among the mingled groups, exposing their several wares and commodities, and soliciting custom. On one side was the gaudy ribband, making its mute appeal to rustic gallantry; on the other the delicious brandy-ball and alluring lollipop, compounded after the most approved receipt in the “True Gentlewoman’s Garland,” and “raising the waters” in the mouth of many an expectant urchin.

Nor were rural sports wanting to those whom pleasure, rather than business, had drawn from their humble homes. Here was the tall and slippery pole, glittering in its grease, and crowned with the ample cheese, that mocked the hopes of the discomfited climber. There the fugitive pippin, swimming in water not of the purest, and bobbing from the expanded lips of the juvenile Tantalus. In this quarter the ear was pierced by squeaks from some beleaguered porker, whisking his well-soaped tail from the grasp of one already in fancy his captor. In that, the eye rested, with undisguised delight, upon the grimaces of grinning candidates for the honours of the horse-collar. All was fun, frolic, courtship, junketing, and jollity.

Maid Marian, indeed, with her lieges, Robin Hood, Scarlet, and Little John, was wanting; Friar Tuck was absent; even the Hobby-horse had disappeared: but the agile Morris-dancers yet were there, and jingled their bells merrily among stalls well stored with gingerbread, tops, whips, whistles, and all those noisy instruments of domestic torture in which scenes like these are even now so fertile.—Had I a foe whom I held at deadliest feud, I would entice his favourite child to a Fair, and buy him a Whistle and a Penny-trumpet.

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In one corner of the green, a little apart from the thickest of the throng, stood a small square stage, nearly level with the chins of the spectators, whose repeated bursts of laughter seemed to intimate the presence of something more than usually amusing. The platform was divided into two unequal portions; the smaller of which, surrounded by curtains of a coarse canvas, veiled from the eyes of the profane the penetralia of this movable temple of Esculapius, for such it was. Within its interior, and secure from vulgar curiosity, the Quack-salver had hitherto kept himself ensconced; occupied, no doubt, in the preparation and arrangement of that wonderful panacea which was hereafter to shed the blessings of health among the admiring crowd. Meanwhile his attendant Jack-pudding was busily employed on the proscenium, doing his best to attract attention by a practical facetiousness which took wonderfully with the spectators, interspersing it with the melodious notes of a huge cow’s horn. The fellow’s costume varied but little in character from that in which the late (alas! that we should have to write the word—late!) Mr. Joseph Grimaldi was accustomed to present himself before “a generous and enlightened public;” the principal difference consisted in this, that the upper garment was a long white tunic, of a coarse linen, surmounted by a caricature of the ruff then fast falling into disuse, and was secured from the throat downwards by a single row of broad white metal buttons; and his legs were cased in loose wide trousers of the same material; while his sleeves, prolonged to a most disproportionate extent, descended far below the fingers, and acted as flappers in the somersets and caracoles, with which he diversified and enlivened his antics. Consummate impudence, not altogether unmixed with a certain sly humour, sparkled in his eye through the chalk and ochre with which his features were plentifully bedaubed; and especially displayed itself in a succession of jokes, the coarseness of which did not seem to detract from their merit in the eyes of his applauding audience.

He was in the midst of a long and animated harangue explanatory of his master’s high pretensions; he had informed his gaping auditors that the latter was the seventh son of a seventh son, and of course, as they very well knew, an Unborn Doctor; that to this happy accident of birth he added the advantage of most extensive travel; that in his search after science he had not only perambulated the whole of this world, but had trespassed on the boundaries of the next; that the depths of the Ocean and the bowels of the Earth were alike familiar to him; that besides salves and cataplasms of sovereign virtue, by combining sundry mosses, gathered many thousand fathoms below the surface of the sea, with certain unknown drugs found in an undiscovered island, and boiling the whole in the lava of Vesuvius, 81 he had succeeded in producing his celebrated balsam of Crackapanoko, the never-failing remedy for all human disorders, and which, a proper trial allowed, would go near to reanimate the dead. “Draw near!” continued the worthy, “draw near, my masters! and you, my good mistresses, draw near every one of you. Fear not high and haughty carriage: though greater than King or Kaiser, yet is the mighty Aldrovando milder than mother’s milk; flint to the proud, to the humble he is as melting wax; he asks not your disorders, he sees them himself at a glance—nay, without a glance; he tells your ailments with his eyes shut!—Draw near! draw near! the more incurable the better! List to the illustrious Doctor Aldrovando, first physician to Prester John, Leech to the Grand Llama, and Hakim in Ordinary to Mustapha Muley Bey!”

“Hath your master ever a charm for the toothache, an’t please you?” asked an elderly countryman, whose swollen cheek bespoke his interest in the question.

“A charm!—a thousand, and every one of them infallible. Toothache, quotha! I had hoped you had come with every bone in your body fractured or out of joint. A toothache!—propound a tester, master o’ mine—we ask not more for such trifles: do my bidding and thy jaws, even with the word, shall cease to trouble thee!”

The clown, fumbling a while in a deep leathern purse, at length produced a sixpence, which he tendered to the jester. “Now to thy master, and bring me the charm forthwith.”

“Nay, honest man; to disturb the mighty Aldrovando on such slight occasion were pity of my life: areed my counsel aright, and I will warrant thee for the nonce. Hie thee home, friend; infuse this powder in cold spring-water, fill thy mouth with the mixture, and sit upon thy fire till it boils!”

“Out on thee for a pestilent knave!” cried the cozened countryman; but the roar of merriment around bespoke the bystanders well-pleased with the jape put upon him. He retired, venting his spleen in audible murmurs; and the mountebank, finding the feelings of the mob enlisted on his side, waxed more impudent every instant, filling up the intervals between his fooleries with sundry capers and contortions and discordant notes from the cow’s horn.

“Draw near, draw near, my masters! Here have ye a remedy for every evil under the sun, moral, physical, natural, and supernatural! Hath any man a termagant wife?—here is that will tame her presently! Hath any one a smoky chimney?—Here is an incontinent cure!”

To the first infliction no man ventured to plead guilty, though there were those standing by who thought their neighbours might have profited withal. For the last-named recipe started forth at 82 least half a dozen candidates. With the greatest gravity imaginable, Pierrot, having pocketed their groats, delivered to each a small packet curiously folded and closely sealed, containing, as he averred, directions which, if truly observed, would preclude any chimney from smoking for a whole year. They whose curiosity led them to dive into the mystery, found that a sprig of mountain ash culled by moonlight was the charm recommended, coupled, however, with the proviso that no fire should be lighted on the hearth during its exercise.

The frequent bursts of merriment proceeding from this quarter at length attracted the attention of Master Marsh, whose line of road necessarily brought him near this end of the fair; he drew bit in front of the stage just as its noisy occupant, having laid aside his formidable horn, was drawing still more largely on the amazement of “the public” by a feat of especial wonder,—he was eating fire! Curiosity mingled with astonishment was at its height; and feelings not unallied to alarm were beginning to manifest themselves, among the softer sex especially, as they gazed on the flames that issued from the mouth of the living volcano. All eyes, indeed, were fixed upon the fire-eater with an intentness that left no room for observing another worthy who had now emerged upon the scene. This was, however, no less a personage than the Deus ex machinâ,—the illustrious Aldrovando himself.

Short in stature and spare in form, the sage had somewhat increased the former by a steeple-crowned hat adorned with a cock’s feather; while the thick shoulder-padding of a quilted doublet, surmounted by a falling band, added a little to his personal importance in point of breadth. His habit was composed throughout of black serge, relieved with scarlet slashes in the sleeves and trunks; red was the feather in his hat, red were the roses in his shoes, which rejoiced, moreover, in a pair of red heels. The lining of a short cloak of faded velvet, that hung transversely over his left shoulder, was also red. Indeed, from all that we could ever see or hear, this agreeable alternation of red and black appears to be the mixture of colours most approved at the court of Beelzebub, and the one most generally adopted by his friends and favourites. His features were sharp and shrewd, and a fire sparkled in his keen grey eye, much at variance with the wrinkles that ran their irregular furrows above his prominent and bushy brows. He had advanced slowly from behind his screen while the attention of the multitude was absorbed by the pyrotechnics of Mr. Merryman, and stationing himself at the extreme corner of the stage, stood quietly leaning on a crutch-handle walking-staff of blackest ebony, his glance steadily fixed on the face of Marsh, from whose countenance the amusement he had insensibly begun to derive had not succeeded in removing all traces of bodily pain.

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For a while the latter was unobservant of the inquisitorial survey with which he was regarded; the eyes of the parties, however, at length met. The brown mare had a fine shoulder; she stood pretty nearly sixteen hands. Marsh himself, though slightly bowed by ill-health and the “coming autumn” of life, was full six feet in height. His elevation giving him an unobstructed view over the heads of the pedestrians, he had naturally fallen into the rear of the assembly, which brought him close to the diminutive Doctor, with whose face, despite the red heels, his own was about upon a level.

“And what makes Master Marsh here? what sees he in the mummeries of a miserable buffoon to divert him when his life is in jeopardy?” said a shrill cracked voice that sounded as in his very ear. It was the Doctor who spoke.

“Knowest thou me, friend?” said Marsh, scanning with awakened interest the figure of his questioner: “I call thee not to mind; and yet—stay, where have we met?”

“It skills not to declare,” was the answer; “suffice it we have met—in other climes perchance—and now meet happily again—happily at least for thee.”

“Why, truly the trick of thy countenance reminds me of somewhat I have seen before; where or when I know not: but what wouldst thou with me?”

“Nay, rather what wouldst thou here, Thomas Marsh? What wouldst thou on the Frith of Aldington? Is it a score or two of paltry sheep? or is it something nearer to thy heart?

Marsh started as the last words were pronounced with more than common significance: a pang shot through him at the moment, and the vinegar aspect of the charlatan seemed to relax into a smile half compassionate, half sardonic.

“Grammercy,” quoth Marsh, after a long-drawn breath, “what knowest thou of me, fellow, or of my concerns? What knowest thou——”

“This know I, Master Thomas Marsh,” said the stranger gravely, “that thy life is even now perilled, evil practices are against thee; but no matter, thou art quit for the nonce—other hands than mine have saved thee! Thy pains are over. Hark! the clock strikes One!” As he spoke, a single toll from the bell-tower of Bilsington came, wafted by the western breeze, over the thick-set and lofty oaks which intervened between the Frith and what had been once a priory. Doctor Aldrovando turned as the sound came floating on the wind, and was moving, as if half in anger, towards the other side of the stage, where the mountebank, his fires extinct, was now disgorging to the admiring crowd yard after yard of gaudy-coloured riband.

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“Stay! Nay, prithee stay!” cried Marsh, eagerly, “I was wrong; in faith I was. A change, and that a sudden and most marvellous, hath indeed come over me; I am free; I breathe again; I feel as though a load of years had been removed; and, is it possible?—hast thou done this?”

“Thomas Marsh!” said the Doctor, pausing, and turning for the moment on his heel, “I have not: I repeat, that other and more innocent hands than mine have done this deed. Nevertheless, heed my counsel well! Thou art parlously encompassed; I, and I only, have the means of relieving thee. Follow thy courses; pursue thy journey; but as thou valuest life and more than life, be at the foot of yonder woody knoll what time the rising moon throws her first beam upon the bare and blighted summit that towers above its trees.”

He crossed abruptly to the opposite quarter of the scaffolding, and was in an instant deeply engaged in listening to those whom the cow’s horn had attracted, and in prescribing for their real or fancied ailments. Vain were all Marsh’s efforts again to attract his notice; it was evident that he studiously avoided him; and when, after an hour or more spent in useless endeavour, he saw the object of his anxiety seclude himself once more within his canvas screen, he rode slowly and thoughtfully off the field.

What should he do? Was the man a mere quack? an impostor? His name thus obtained! that might be easily done. But then, his secret griefs; the Doctor’s knowledge of them; their cure; for he felt that his pains were gone, his healthful feelings restored!

True; Aldrovando, if that were his name, had disclaimed all co-operation in his recovery; but he knew, or he at least announced it. Nay, more; he had hinted that he was yet in jeopardy; that practices—and the chord sounded strangely in unison with one that had before vibrated within him—that practices were in operation against his life! It was enough! He would keep tryst with the Conjuror, if conjuror he were; and, at least, ascertain who and what he was, and how he had become acquainted with his own person and secret afflictions.

When the late Mr. Pitt was determined to keep out Buonaparte, and prevent his gaining a settlement in the county of Kent, among other ingenious devices adopted for that purpose, he caused to be constructed what was then, and has ever since been, conventionally termed a “Military Canal.” This is not a very practicable ditch, some thirty feet wide, and nearly nine feet deep, in the middle, extending from the town and port of Hithe to within a mile of the town and port of Rye, a distance of about twenty miles; and forming, as it were, the cord of a bow, the arc of which constitutes that 85 remote fifth quarter of the globe spoken of by travellers. Trivial objections to the plan were made at the time by cavillers; and an old gentleman of the neighbourhood, who proposed as a cheap substitute, to put down his own cocked hat upon a pole, was deservedly pooh-pooh’d down; in fact, the job, though rather an expensive one, was found to answer remarkably well. The French managed, indeed, to scramble over the Rhine, and the Rhone, and other insignificant currents; but they never did, or could, pass Mr. Pitt’s “Military Canal.” At no great distance from the centre of this cord rises abruptly a sort of woody promontory, in shape almost conical; its sides covered with thick underwood, above which is seen a bare and brown summit rising like an Alp in miniature. The “defence of the nation” not being then in existence, Master Marsh met with no obstruction in reaching this place of appointment long before the time prescribed.

So much, indeed, was his mind occupied by his adventure and extraordinary cure, that his original design had been abandoned, and Master Cobbe remained unvisited. A rude hostel in the neighbourhood furnished entertainment for man and horse; and here, a full hour before the rising of the moon, he left Ralph and the other beasts, proceeding to his rendezvous on foot and alone.

“You are punctual, Master Marsh,” squeaked the shrill voice of the Doctor, issuing from the thicket as the first silvery gleam trembled on the aspens above.

“’Tis well: now follow me, and in silence.”

The first part of the command Marsh hesitated not to obey; the second was more difficult of observance.

“Who and what are you? Whither are you leading me?” burst not unnaturally from his lips; but all question was at once cut short by the peremptory tones of his guide.

“Hush! I say; your finger on your lip, there be hawks abroad; follow me, and that silently and quickly.” The little man turned as he spoke, and led the way through a scarcely perceptible path, or track, which wound among the underwood. The lapse of a few minutes brought them to the door of a low building, so hidden by the surrounding trees that few would have suspected its existence. It was a cottage of rather extraordinary dimensions, but consisting of only one floor. No smoke rose from its solitary chimney; no cheering ray streamed from its single window, which was, however, secured by a shutter of such thickness as to preclude the possibility of any stray beam issuing from within. The exact size of the building it was, in that uncertain light, difficult to distinguish, a portion of it seeming buried in the wood behind. The door gave way on the application of a key, and Marsh followed his conductor 86 resolutely, but cautiously, along a narrow passage, feebly lighted by a small taper that winked and twinkled at its farther extremity. The Doctor, as he approached, raised it from the ground, and, opening an adjoining door, ushered his guest into the room beyond.

It was a large and oddly furnished apartment, insufficiently lighted by an iron lamp that hung from the roof, and scarcely illumined the walls and angles, which seemed to be composed of some dark-coloured wood. On one side, however, Master Marsh could discover an article bearing strong resemblance to a coffin; on the other was a large oval mirror in an ebony frame, and in the midst of the floor was described, in red chalk, a double circle, about six feet in diameter, its inner verge inscribed with sundry hieroglyphics, agreeably relieved at intervals with an alternation of skulls and cross-bones. In the very centre was deposited one skull of such surpassing size and thickness as would have filled the soul of a Spurzheim or De Ville with wonderment. A large book, a naked sword, an hour-glass, a chafing-dish, and a black cat, completed the list of movables; with the exception of a couple of tapers which stood on each side of the mirror, and which the strange gentleman now proceeded to light from the one in his hand. As they flared up with what Marsh thought a most unnatural brilliancy, he perceived, reflected in the glass behind, a dial suspended over the coffin-like article already mentioned: the hand was fast verging towards the hour of nine. The eyes of the little Doctor seemed riveted on the horologe.

“Now strip thee, Master Marsh, and that quickly: untruss, I say! discard thy boots, doff doublet and hose, and place thyself incontinent in yonder bath.”

The visitor cast his eyes again upon the formidable-looking article, and perceived that it was nearly filled with water. A cold bath, at such an hour and under such auspices, was anything but inviting: he hesitated, and turned his eyes alternately on the Doctor and the Black Cat.

“Trifle not the time, man, an you be wise,” said the former. “Passion of my heart! let but yon minute-hand reach the hour, and thou not immersed, thy life were not worth a pin’s fee!”

The Black Cat gave vent to a single mew,—a most unnatural sound for a mouser,—it seemed as it were mewed through a cow’s horn.

“Quick, Master Marsh! uncase, or you perish!” repeated his strange host, throwing as he spoke a handful of some dingy-looking powders into the brasier. “Behold, the attack is begun!” A thick cloud rose from the embers; a cold shivering shook the astonished Yeoman; sharp pricking pains penetrated his ankles and the palms 87 of his hands, and, as the smoke cleared away, he distinctly saw and recognised in the mirror the boudoir of Marston Hall.

 
 
 

The doors of the well-known ebony cabinet were closed; but fixed against them, and standing out in strong relief from the contrast afforded by the sable back­ground, was a waxen image—of himself! It appeared to be secured, and sustained in an upright posture, by large black pins driven through the feet and palms, the latter of which were extended in a cruci­form posi­tion. To the right and left stood his wife and José; in the middle, with his back towards him, was a figure which he had no difficulty in recognising as that of the Leech of Folkestone. The latter had just succeeded in fastening the dexter hand of the image, and was now in the act of drawing a broad and keen-edged sabre from its sheath. The Black Cat mewed again. “Haste, or you die!” said the Doctor,—Marsh looked at the dial; it wanted but four minutes of nine: he felt that the crisis of his fate was come. Off went his heavy boots; doublet to the right, galligaskins to the left; never was man more swiftly disrobed. In two minutes, to use an Indian expression, “he was all face!” in another he was on his back, and up to his chin in a bath which smelt strongly as of brimstone and garlic.

“Heed well the clock!” cried the Conjuror: “with the first stroke of Nine plunge thy head beneath the water, suffer not a hair above the surface: plunge deeply, or thou art lost!”

The little man had seated himself in the centre of the circle upon the large skull, elevating his legs at an angle of forty-five degrees. In this position he spun round with a velocity to be equalled only by that of a tee-totum, the red roses on his insteps seeming to describe a circle of fire. The best buckskins that ever mounted at Melton had soon yielded to such rotatory friction—but he spun on—the cat mewed, bats and obscene birds fluttered overhead; Erasmus was seen to raise his weapon, the clock struck!—and Marsh, who had “ducked” at the instant, popped up his head again, spitting and sputtering, half-choked with the infernal solution, which had insinuated itself into his mouth, and ears, and nose. All disgust at his nauseous dip was, however, at once removed, when, casting his eyes on the glass, he saw the consternation of the party whose persons it exhibited. Erasmus had evidently made his blow and failed; the figure was unmutilated; the hilt remained in the hand of the striker, while the shivered blade lay in shining fragments on the floor.

man seated on an oversized skull, resting his feet on a wrinkled book

The little man had seated himself in the centre of the circle upon the large skull.

The Conjuror ceased his spinning, and brought himself to an anchor; the Black Cat purred,—its purring seemed strangely mixed with the self-satisfied chuckle of a human being. Where had Marsh heard something like it before?

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He was rising from his unsavoury couch, when a motion from the little man checked him. “Rest where you are, Thomas Marsh; so far all goes well, but the danger is not yet over!” He looked again, and perceived that the shadowy triumvirate were in deep and eager consultation; the fragments of the shattered weapon appeared to undergo a close scrutiny. The result was clearly unsatisfactory; the lips of the parties moved rapidly, and much gesticulation might be observed, but no sound fell upon the ear. The hand of the dial had nearly reached the quarter: at once the parties separated: and Buckthorne stood again before the figure, his hand armed with a long and sharp-pointed misericorde, a dagger little in use of late, but such as, a century before, often performed the part of a modern oyster-knife, in tickling the osteology of a dismounted cavalier through the shelly defences of his plate armour. Again he raised his arm. “Duck!” roared the Doctor, spinning away upon his cephalic pivot:—the Black Cat cocked his tail, and seemed to mew the word “Duck!” Down went Master Marsh’s head; one of his hands had unluckily been resting on the edge of the bath: he drew it hastily in, but not altogether scatheless; the stump of a rusty nail, projecting from the margin of the bath, had caught and slightly grazed it. The pain was more acute than is usually produced by such trivial accidents; and Marsh, on once more raising his head, beheld the dagger of the Leech sticking in the little finger of the wax figure, which it had seemingly nailed to the cabinet door.

“By my truly, a scape o’ the narrowest!” quoth the Conjuror: “the next course, dive you not the readier, there is no more life in you than in a pickled herring. What! courage. Master Marsh; but be heedful; an they miss again, let them bide the issue!”

He drew his hand athwart his brow as he spoke, and dashed off the perspiration, which the violence of his exercise had drawn from every pore. Black Tom sprang upon the edge of the bath, and stared full in the face of the bather: his sea-green eyes were lambent with unholy fire, but their marvellous obliquity of vision was not to be mistaken;—the very countenance too! Could it be?—the features were feline, but their expression was that of the Jack Pudding! Was the mountebank a cat? or the cat a mountebank?—it was all a mystery;—and Heaven knows how long Marsh might have continued staring at Grimalkin, had not his attention been again called by Aldrovando to the magic mirror.

Great dissatisfaction, not to say dismay, seemed now to pervade the conspirators; Dame Isabel was closely inspecting the figure’s wounded hand, while José was aiding the pharmacopolist to charge a huge petronel with powder and bullets. The load was a heavy 89 one; but Erasmus seemed determined this time to make sure of his object. Somewhat of trepidation might be observed in his manner as he rammed down the balls, and his withered cheek appeared to have acquired an increase of paleness; but amazement rather than fear was the prevailing symptom, and his countenance betrayed no jot of irresolution. As the clock was about to chime half-past nine, he planted himself with a firm foot in front of the image, waved his unoccupied hand with a cautionary gesture to his companions, and, as they hastily retired on either side, brought the muzzle of his weapon within half a foot of his mark. As the shadowy form was about to draw the trigger, Marsh again plunged his head beneath the surface; and the sound of an explosion, as of fire-arms, mingled with the rush of water that poured into his ears. His immersion was but momentary, yet did he feel as though half suffocated: he sprang from the bath, and, as his eye fell on the mirror, he saw,—or thought he saw,—the Leech of Folkestone lying dead on the floor of his wife’s boudoir, his head shattered to pieces, and his hand still grasping the stock of a bursten petronel.

He saw no more; his head swam; his senses reeled, the whole room was turning round, and, as he fell to the ground, the last impressions to which he was conscious were the chucklings of a hoarse laughter, and the mewings of a tom cat!

Master Marsh was found the next morning by his bewildered serving-man, stretched before the door of the humble hostel at which he sojourned. His clothes were somewhat torn and much bemired; and deeply did honest Ralph marvel that one so staid and grave as Master Marsh of Marston should thus have played the roisterer, missing, perchance, a profitable bargain for the drunken orgies of midnight wassail, or the endearments of some rustic light-o’-love. Tenfold was his astonishment increased when, after retracing in silence their journey of the preceding day, the Hall, on their arrival about noon, was found in a state of uttermost confusion. No wife stood there to greet with the smile of bland affection her returning spouse; no page to hold his stirrup, or receive his gloves, his hat, and riding-rod. The doors were open, the rooms in most admired disorder; men and maidens peeping, hurrying hither and thither, and popping in and out, like rabbits in a warren. The lady of the mansion was nowhere to be found.

José, too, had disappeared; the latter had been last seen riding furiously towards Folkestone early in the preceding afternoon: to a question from Hodge Gardener he had hastily answered, that he bore a missive of moment from his mistress. The lean apprentice of Erasmus Buckthorne declared that the page had summoned his master, in haste, about six of the clock, and that they had rode 90 forth together, as he verily believed, on their way back to the Hall, where he had supposed Master Buckthorne’s services to be suddenly required on some pressing emergency. Since that time he had seen nought of either of them: the grey cob, however, had returned late at night, masterless, with his girths loose and the saddle turned upside down.

Nor was Master Erasmus Buckthorne ever seen again. Strict search was made through the neighbourhood, but without success; and it was at length presumed that he must, for reasons which nobody could divine, have absconded, together with José and his faithless mistress. The latter had carried off with her the strong box, divers articles of valuable plate, and jewels of price. Her boudoir appeared to have been completely ransacked; the cabinet and drawers stood open and empty; the very carpet, a luxury then newly introduced into England, was gone. Marsh, however, could trace no vestige of the visionary scene which he affirmed to have been last night presented to his eyes.

Much did the neighbours marvel at his story:—some thought him mad; others, that he was merely indulging in that privilege to which, as a traveller, he had a right indefeasible. Trusty Ralph said nothing, but shrugged his shoulders; and, falling into the rear, imitated the action of raising a wine-cup to his lips. An opinion, indeed, soon prevailed, that Master Thomas Marsh had gotten, in common parlance, exceedingly drunk on the preceding evening, and had dreamt all that he so circumstantially related. This belief acquired additional credit when they, whom curiosity induced to visit the woody knoll of Aldington Mount, declared that they could find no building such as that described, nor any cottage near; save one, indeed, a low-roofed hovel, once a house of public entertainment, but now half in ruins. The “Old Cat and Fiddle”—so was the tenement called—had been long uninhabited; yet still exhibited the remains of a broken sign, on which the keen observer might decipher something like a rude portrait of the animal from which it derived its name. It was also supposed still to afford an occasional asylum to the smugglers of the coast, but no trace of any visit from sage or mountebank could be detected; nor was the wise Aldrovando, whom many remembered to have seen at the fair, ever found again on all that country-side.

Of the runaways nothing was ever certainly known. A boat, the property of an old fisherman who plied his trade on the outskirts of the town, had been seen to quit the bay that night; and there were those who declared that she had more hands on board than Carden and his son, her usual complement; but as the gale came on, and the frail bark was eventually found keel upwards on 91 the Goodwin Sands, it was presumed that she had struck on that fatal quicksand in the dark, and that all on board had perished.

Little Marian, whom her profligate mother had abandoned, grew up to be a fine girl, and a handsome. She became, moreover, heiress to Marston Hall, and brought the estate into the Ingoldsby family by her marriage with one of its scions.

Thus far Mrs. Botherby.

shield with monogram

It is a little singular that, on pulling down the old Hall in my grandfather’s time, a human skeleton was discovered among the rubbish; under what particular part of the building I could never with any accuracy ascertain; but it was found enveloped in a tattered cloth, that seemed to have been once a carpet, and which fell to pieces almost immediately on being exposed to the air. The bones were perfect, but those of one hand were wanting; and the skull, perhaps from the labourer’s pick-axe, had received considerable injury; the worm-eaten stock of an old-fashioned pistol lay near, together with a rusty piece of iron which a workman, more sagacious than his fellows, pronounced a portion of the lock, but nothing 92 was found which the utmost stretch of human ingenuity could twist into a barrel.

The portrait of the fair Marian hangs yet in the Gallery of Tappington; and near it is another, of a young man in the prime of life, whom Mrs. Botherby affirms to be that of her father. It exhibits a mild and rather melancholy countenance, with a high forehead, and the peaked beard and moustaches of the seventeenth century. The signet-finger of the left hand is gone, and appears, on close inspection, to have been painted out by some later artist; possibly in compliment to the tradition, which, teste Botherby, records that of Mr. Marsh to have gangrened, and to have undergone amputation at the knuckle-joint. If really the resemblance of the gentleman alluded to, it must have been taken at some period antecedent to his marriage. There is neither date nor painter’s name; but, a little above the head, on the dexter side of the picture, is an escutcheon, bearing “Quarterly, Gules and Argent, in the first quarter a horse’s head of the second;” beneath it are the words “Ætatis suæ 26.” On the opposite side is the following mark, which Mr. Simpkinson declares to be that of a Merchant of the Staple, and pretends to discover, in the monogram comprised in it, all the characters which compose the name of THOMAS MARSH, of MARSTON.

skull resting against a lozenge with monogram

6 Pack o’ nonsense!—Everybody as belongs to him is dead and gone—and everybody knows that the poor young gentleman’s real name wasn’t Sobriquet at all, but Hampden Pye, Esq., and that one of his uncles—or cousins—used to make verses about the king and the queen, and had a sack of money for doing it every year;—and that’s his picture in the blue coat and little gold-laced cocked hat that hangs on the stairs over the door of the passage that leads to the blue room.—Sobriquet!—but there!—The Squire wrote it after dinner!—Elizabeth Botherby.

Notes and Corrections: The Leech of Folkestone

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“The Leech of Folkestone” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. II no. 1 (July 1837) as “Family Stories No. VI.—Mrs. Botherby’s Story: The Leech of Folkestone”. The final (transitional) paragraph, with accompanying footnote, was added for the book.

and yet,—but I will do your bidding.
text has bidding.” with superfluous close quote

the most approved receipt in the “True Gentlewoman’s Garland”
[I was hoping this would turn out to be a real book from the early period of English cookery. But if so, it has vanished off the face of the earth. I do find a Gentlewoman’s Garland and a Good Housewife’s Garland, but they don’t appear to be cookbooks, darn it.]

squeaks from some beleaguered porker
text has beleagured

Leech to the Grand Llama
spelling unchanged
[It is spelled the same in Bentley’s.]

Short in stature and spare in form
[The paragraph break was added for the book. Can’t say as how I blame the editor.]

the attention of the multitude was absorbed by the pyrotechnics of Mr. Merryman
text has observed

“You are punctual, Master Marsh,” squeaked the shrill voice of the Doctor
close quote missing

Of the runaways nothing was ever certainly known.
[This paragraph break, too, was added for the book.]

Respect for the feelings of an honourable family,—nearly connected with the Ingoldsbys,—has induced me to veil the real “sponsorial and patronymic appellations” of my next hero under a sobriquet interfering neither with rhyme nor rhythm.6 I shall merely add that every incident in the story bears on the face of it the stamp of veracity, and that many “persons of honour” in the county of Berks, who well recollected Sir George Rooks’ expedition against Gibraltar, would, if they were now alive, gladly bear testimony to the truth of every syllable.

93

four restless horses drawing a coach

Legend of Hamilton Tighe.

THE Captain is walking his quarter-deck,

With a troubled brow and a bended neck;

One eye is down through the hatchway cast

The other turns up to the truck on the mast;

Yet none of the crew may venture to hint

“Our Skipper hath gotten a sinister squint!”

The Captain again the letter hath read

Which the bum-boat woman brought out to Spithead—

Still, since the good ship sail’d away,

He reads that letter three times a-day;

Yet the writing is broad and fair to see

As a Skipper may read, in his degree,

And the seal is as black, and as broad, and as flat,

As his own cockade in his own cock’d hat:

He reads, and he says, as he walks to and fro,

“Curse the old woman—she bothers me so!”

He pauses now, for the topmen hail—

“On the larboard quarter a sail! a sail!

That grim Old Captain he turns him quick,

And bawls through his trumpet for Hairy-faced Dick.

“The breeze is blowing—huzza! huzza!

The breeze is blowing—away! away!

The breeze is blowing—a race! a race!

The breeze is blowing—we near the chase!

Blood will flow, and bullets will fly,—

Oh where will be then young Hamilton Tighe?”

—“On the foeman’s deck, where a man should be,

With his sword in his hand, and his foe at his knee.

Cockswain, or boatswain, or reefer may try,

But the first man on board will be Hamilton Tighe!”

94

Hairy-faced Dick hath a swarthy hue,

Between a gingerbread-nut and a Jew,

And his pigtail is long, and bushy, and thick,

Like a pump-handle stuck on the end of a stick.

Hairy-faced Dick understands his trade;

He stands by the breech of a long carronade,

The linstock glows in his bony hand,

Waiting that grim old Skipper’s command.

“The bullets are flying—huzza! huzza!

The bullets are flying—away! away!”

The brawny boarders mount by the chains,

And are over their buckles in blood and in brains:

On the foeman’s deck, where a man should be,

Young Hamilton Tighe

Waves his cutlass high.

And Capitaine Crapaud bends low at his knee.

Hairy-faced Dick, linstock in hand,

Is waiting that grim-looking skipper’s command:—

A wink comes sly

From that sinister eye—

Hairy-faced Dick at once lets fly,

And knocks off the head of Young Hamilton Tighe!

There’s a lady sits lonely in bower and hall,

Her pages and handmaidens come at her call:

“Now, haste ye, my handmaidens, haste and see

How he sits there and glow’rs with his head on his knee!”

The maidens smile, and, her thought to destroy,

They bring her a little, pale, mealy-faced boy;

And the mealy-faced boy says, “Mother, dear,

Now Hamilton’s dead, I’ve a thousand a year!”

The lady has donn’d her mantle and hood.

She is bound for shrift at St. Mary’s Rood:—

“Oh! the taper shall burn, and the bell shall toll,

And the mass shall be said for my step-son’s soul,

And the tablet fair shall be hung on high,

Orate pro animâ Hamilton Tighe.

95

Her coach and four

Draws up to the door,

With her groom, and her footman, and half-a-score more;

The lady steps into her coach alone,

They hear her sigh, and they hear her groan,

They close the door, and they turn the pin,

But there’s One rides with her that never stept in!

All the way there, and all the way back,

The harness strains and the coach-springs crack,

The horses snort, and plunge and kick,

Till the coachman thinks he is driving Old Nick;

And the grooms and the footmen wonder, and say

“What makes the old coach so heavy to-day?”

But the mealy-faced boy peeps in and sees

A man sitting there with his head on his knees!

’Tis ever the same,—in hall or in bower,

Wherever the place, whatever the hour,

That Lady mutters, and talks to the air,

And her eye is fix’d on an empty chair;

But the mealy-faced boy still whispers with dread,

“She talks to a man with never a head!”

There’s an old Yellow Admiral living at Bath,

As grey as a badger, as thin as a lath;

And his very queer eyes have such very queer leers,

They seem to be trying to peep at his ears;

That old Yellow Admiral goes to the Rooms,

And he plays long whist, but he frets and he fumes,

For all his Knaves stand upside down,

And the Jack of Clubs does nothing but frown;

And the Kings, and the Aces, and all the best trumps

Get into the hands of the other old frumps;

While, close to his partner, a man he sees

Counting the tricks with his head on his knees.

In Ratcliffe Highway there’s an old marine store,

And a great black doll hangs out of the door;

96

There are rusty locks, and dusty bags,

And musty phials, and fusty rags,

And a lusty old woman, call’d Thirsty Nan,

And her crusty old husband’s a Hairy-faced man!

That Hairy-faced man is sallow and wan,

And his great thick pigtail is wither’d and gone;

And he cries, “Take away that lubberly chap

That sits there and grins with his head in his lap!”

And the neighbours say, as they see him look sick,

“What a rum old covey is Hairy-faced Dick!”

That Admiral, Lady, and Hairy-faced man

May say what they please, and may do what they can

But one thing seems remarkably clear,—

They may die to-morrow, or live till next year,—

But wherever they live, or whenever they die,

They’ll never get quit of young Hamilton Tighe!

man recoiling from seated man holding his head in his lap

THE LEGEND OF HAMILTON TIGHE.

p. 96.

Notes and Corrections: Legend of Hamilton Tighe

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“Legend of Hamilton Tighe” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. I no. 3 (March 1837) as “Family Stories No. II: Legend of Hamilton Tighe”. Anomalously, the periodical has a long introduction that was omitted from the book:

Tapton Everard, Feb. 14, 1837.

Friend Bentley,—I see you have got hold of some of our family secrets; but Seaforth was always a blab. No matter: as you have found your way into our circle, why, I suppose we must even make the best of it, and let you go on. The revival of “Old Sir Giles’s” story has set us all rummaging among the family papers, of which there is a large chest full “apud castro de Tappington,” as a literary friend of mine has it. In the course of her researches, Caroline the other day popped upon the history of a far-off cousin, some four or five generations back,—a sad story,—a sort of Uriah business,—in which a principal part was played by a great-great-aunt of ours. In order to secure her own child’s succession to a fair estate, she was always believed to have wantonly exposed the life of her husband’s only son by a former marriage; and through the assistance of her brother, a sea-captain, to have at least thrust him unneces­sarily into danger, even if their machinations went no farther. The lad was killed; and report said that an old boatswain confessed on his death-bed— But Miss Simpkinson will tell you the story better than I can. She has dished it up for you in her choicest Pindarics; and though the maiden is meek, her muse is masculine.

Yours, as it may be,

Thomas Ingoldsby

“Our Skipper hath gotten a sinister squint!”
close quote missing

Which the bum-boat woman brought out to Spithead—
[Alas, Willie Gilbert is but a baby.]

Hairy-faced Dick at once lets fly
text has let’s

The When,—the Where,—and the How,—of the succeeding narrative speak for themselves. It may be proper, however, to observe, that the ruins here alluded to, and improperly termed “the Abbey,” are not those of Bolsover, described in a preceding page, but the remains of a Preceptory once belonging to the Knights Templars, situate near Swynfield, Swinkefield, or, as it is now generally spelt and pronounced, Swingfield, Minnis, a rough tract of common land now undergoing the process of enclosure, and adjoining the woods and arable lands of Tappington, at the distance of some two miles from the Hall, to the south-eastern windows of which the time-worn walls in question, as seen over the intervening coppices, present a picturesque and striking object.

97

The Witches’ Frolic.

[Scene, the “Snuggery” at Tappington.—Grandpapa in a high-backed cane-bottomed elbow-chair of carved walnut-tree, dozing; his nose at an angle of forty-five degrees,—his thumbs slowly perform the rotatory motion described by lexicographers as “twiddling.”—The “Hope of the family” astride on a walking-stick, with burnt-cork moustachios, and a pheasant’s tail pinned in his cap, solaceth himself with martial music.—Roused by a strain of surpassing dissonance, Grandpapa loquitur.]

COME hither, come hither, my little boy Ned!

Come hither unto my knee—

I cannot away with that horrible din,

That sixpenny drum, and that trumpet of tin.

Oh, better to wander frank and free

Through the Fair of good Saint Bartlemy,

Than list to such awful minstrelsie.

Now lay, little Ned, those nuisances by,

And I’ll rede ye a lay of Grammarye.

[Grandpapa riseth, yawneth like the crater of an extinct volcano, proceedeth slowly to the window, and apostrophiseth the Abbey in the distance.]

I love thy tower, Grey Ruin,

I joy thy form to see,

Though reft of all,

Cell, cloister, and hall,

Nothing is left save a tottering wall

That, awfully grand and darkly dull,

Threaten’d to fall and demolish my skull,

As, ages ago, I wandered along

Careless thy grass-grown courts among,

In sky-blue jacket, and trousers laced,

The latter uncommonly short in the waist.

Thou art dearer to me, thou Ruin grey,

Than the Squire’s verandah over the way;

And fairer, I ween,

The ivy-sheen

That thy mouldering turret binds,

Than the Alderman’s house about half a mile off,

With the green Venetian blinds.

98

Full many a tale would my Grandam tell,

In many a bygone day,

Of darksome deeds, which of old befell

In thee, thou Ruin grey!

And I the readiest ear would lend,

And stare like frighten’d pig!

While my Grandfather’s hair would have stood up on end,

Had he not worn a wig.

One tale I remember of mickle dread—

Now lithe and listen, my little boy Ned!

Thou mayest have read, my little boy Ned,

Though thy mother thine idlesse blames,

In Doctor Goldsmith’s history book,

Of a gentleman called King James,

In quilted doublet, and great trunk breeches,

Who held in abhorrence Tobacco and Witches.

Well,—in King James’s golden days,—

For the days were golden then,—

They could not be less, for good Queen Bess

Had died, aged threescore and ten,

And her days we know,

Were all of them so;

While the Court poets sung, and the Court gallants swore

That the days were as golden still as before.

Some people, ’tis true, a troublesome few,

Who historical points would unsettle,

Have lately thrown out a sort of a doubt

Of the genuine ring of the metal;

But who can believe to a monarch so wise

People would dare tell a parcel of lies!

—Well, then, in good King James’s days,—

Golden or not does not matter a jot,—

Yon Ruin a sort of a roof had got;

For though, repairs lacking, its walls had been cracking

Since Harry the Eighth sent its people a-packing,

99

Though joists, and floors,

And windows, and doors,

Had all disappear’d, yet pillars by scores

Remain’d, and still propped up a ceiling or two,

While the belfry was almost as good as new;

You are not to suppose matters look’d just so

In the Ruin some two hundred years ago.

Just in the furthermost angle, where

There are still the remains of a winding-stair,

One turret especially high in air

Uprear’d its tall gaunt form;

As if defying the power of Fate, or

The hand of “Time the Innovator;”

And though to the pitiless storm

Its weaker brethren all around

Bowing, in ruin had strew’d the ground,

Alone it stood, while its fellows lay strew’d,

Like a four-bottle man in a company “screw’d,

Not firm on his legs, but by no means subdued.

One night—’twas in Sixteen hundred and six,—

I like when I can, Ned, the date to fix,—

The month was May,

Though I can’t well say

At this distance of time the particular day—

But oh! that night, that horrible night!

—Folks ever afterwards said with affright

That they never had seen such a terrible sight.

The Sun had gone down fiery red;

And if, that evening, he laid his head

In Thetis’s lap beneath the seas,

He must have scalded the goddess’s knees.

He left behind him a lurid track

Of blood-red light upon clouds so black,

That Warren and Hunt, with the whole of their crew,

Could scarcely have given them a darker hue.

There came a shrill and a whistling sound,

Above, beneath, beside, and around,

100

Yet leaf ne’er moved on tree!

So that some people thought old Beelzebub must

Have been lock’d out of doors, and was blowing the dust

From the pipe of his street-door key.

And then a hollow moaning blast

Came, sounding more dismally still than the last,

And the lightning flash’d, and the thunder growl’d,

And louder and louder the tempest howl’d,

And the rain came down in such sheets as would stagger a

Bard for a simile short of Niagara.

Rob Gilpin “was a citizen;”

But though of some “renown,”

Of no great “credit” in his own,

Or any other town.

He was a wild and roving lad,

For ever in the alehouse boozing;

Or romping,—which is quite as bad,—

With female friends of his own choosing.

And Rob this very day had made,

Not dreaming such a storm was brewing,

An assignation with Miss Slade,—

Their trysting-place that same grey Ruin.

But Gertrude Slade became afraid,

And to keep her appointment unwilling,

When she spied the rain on her window-pane

In drops as big as a shilling;

She put off her hat and her mantle again,

“He’ll never expect me in all this rain!”

But little he recks of the fears of the sex,

Or that maiden false to her tryst could be.

He had stood there a good half-hour,

Ere yet had commenced that perilous shower,

Alone by the trysting-tree!

101

Robin looks east, Robin looks west,

But he sees not her whom he loves the best;

Robin looks up, and Robin looks down,

But no one comes from the neighbouring town.

The storm came at last,—loud roar’d the blast,

And the shades of evening fell thick and fast;

The tempest grew; and the straggling yew,

His leafy umbrella, was wet through and through;

Rob was half dead with cold and with fright,

When he spies in the Ruins a twinkling light—

A hop, two skips, and a jump, and straight

Rob stands within that postern gate.

And there were gossips sitting there,

By one, by two, by three:

Two were an old ill-favour’d pair:

But the third was young, and passing fair,

With laughing eyes, and with coal-black hair;

A daintie quean was she!

Rob would have given his ears to sip

But a single salute from her cherry lip.

three old women in pointy hats, holding brooms, gathered by a cottage

And there were gossips sitting there,
By one, by two, by three

As they sat in that old and haunted room,

In each one’s hand was a huge birch broom,

On each one’s head was a steeple-crown’d hat,

On each one’s knee was a coal-black cat;

Each had a kirtle of Lincoln green—

It was, I trow, a fearsome scene.

“Now riddle me, riddle me right, Madge Gray,

What foot unhallowed wends this way?

Goody Price, Goody Price, now areed me right,

Who roams the old Ruins this drearysome night?”

Then up and spake that sonsie quean,

And she spake both loud and clear:

“Oh, be it for weal, or be it for woe,

Enter friend, or enter foe,

Rob Gilpin is welcome here!”—

102

“Now tread we a measure! a hall! a hall!

Now tread we a measure,” quoth she—

The heart of Robin

Beat thick and throbbing—

“Roving Rob, thread a measure with me!”

“Ay, lassie!” quoth Rob, as her hand he gripes,

“Though Satan himself were blowing the pipes!”

Now around they go, and around, and around,

With hop-skip-and-jump, and frolicsome bound,

Such sailing and gliding,

Such sinking and sliding,

Such lofty curvetting,

And grand pirouetting;

Ned, you would swear that Monsieur Gilbert

And Miss Taglioni were capering there!

And oh! such awful music! ne’er

Fell sounds so uncanny on mortal ear,

There were the tones of a dying man’s groans

Mix’d with the rattling of dead men’s bones:

Had you heard the shrieks, and the squeals, and the squeaks,

You’d not have forgotten the sound for weeks.

And around, and around, and around they go,

Heel to heel, and toe to toe,

Prance and caper, curvet and wheel,

Toe to toe, and heel to heel.

“’Tis merry, ’tis merry, Cummers, I trow,

To dance thus beneath the nightshade bough!”—

“Goody Price, Goody Price, now riddle me right,

Where may we sup this frolicsome night?”

“Mine host of the Dragon hath mutton and veal!

The Squire hath partridge, and widgeon, and teal;

But old Sir Thopas hath daintier cheer,

A pasty made of the good red deer,

A huge grouse pie, and a fine Florentine,

A fat roast goose, and a turkey and chine.”

—“Madge Gray, Madge Gray,

Now tell me, I pray,

Where’s the best wassail bowl to our roundelay?”

103

—“There is ale in the cellars of Tappington Hall,

But the Squire7 is a churl, and his drink is small;

Mine host of the Dragon

Hath many a flagon

Of double ale, lambs’ wool, and eau de vie,

But Sir Thopas, the Vicar,

Hath costlier liquor,—

A butt of the choicest Malvoisie.

He doth not lack

Canary or sack;

And a good pint stoup of Clary wine

Smacks merrily off with a turkey and chine!”

“Now away! and away! without delay,

Hey Cockalorum! my Broomstick gay!

We must be back ere the dawn of the day:

Hey up the chimney! away! away!”—

Old Goody Price

Mounts in a trice,

In showing her legs she is not over nice;

Old Goody Jones,

All skin and bones,

Follows “like winking.”—Away go the crones,

Knees and nose in a line with the toes,

Sitting their brooms like so many Ducrows;

Latest and last

The damsel pass’d,

One glance of her coal-black eye she cast;

She laugh’d with glee loud laughters three.

“Dost fear, Rob Gilpin, to ride with me?”—

Oh, never might man unscath’d espy

One single glance from that coal-black eye.

—Away she flew!—

Without more ado

Rob seizes and mounts on a broomstick too,

“Hey! up the chimney, lass! Hey after you!”

four women riding away on broomsticks, accompanied by flying cats

“Hey! up the chimney, lass! Hey after you!”

It’s a very fine thing, on a fine day in June,

To ride through the air in a Nassau Balloon;

But you’ll find very soon, if you aim at the Moon

In a carriage like that, you’re a bit of a “Spoon,”

104

For the largest can’t fly

Above twenty miles high,

And you’re not half way then on your journey, nor nigh;

While no man alive

Could ever contrive,

Mr. Green has declared, to get higher than five.

And the soundest Philosophers hold that, perhaps,

If you reach’d twenty miles your balloon would collapse,

Or pass by such action

The sphere of attraction,

Getting into the track of some comet—Good-lack!

’Tis a thousand to one that you’d never come back;

And the boldest of mortals a danger like that must fear,

Rashly protruding beyond our own atmosphere.

No, no; when I try

A trip to the sky,

I shan’t go in that thing of yours, Mr. Gye,

Though Messieurs Monck Mason, and Spencer, and Beazly,

All join in saying it travels so easily.

No; there’s nothing so good

As a pony of wood—

Not like that which, of late, they stuck up on the gate

At the end of the Park, which caused so much debate,

And gave so much trouble to make it stand straight—

But a regular Broomstick—you’ll find that the favourite—

Above all, when, like Robin, you haven’t to pay for it.

—Stay—really I dread—

I am losing the thread

Of my tale; and it’s time you should be in your bed,

So lithe now, and listen, my little boy Ned!

The Vicarage walls are lofty and thick,

And the copings are stone, and the sides are brick;

The casements are narrow, and bolted and barr’d,

And the stout oak door is heavy and hard;

Moreover, by way of additional guard,

A great big dog runs loose in the yard,

And a horse-shoe is nail’d on the threshold sill,—

To keep out aught that savours of ill,—

But, alack! the chimney-pot’s open still!

—That great big dog begins to quail,

Between his hind-legs he drops his tail.

105

Crouch’d on the ground, the terrified hound

Gives vent to a very odd sort of a sound;

It is not a bark, loud, open, and free,

As an honest old watch-dog’s bark should be;

It is not a yelp, it is not a growl,

But a something between a whine and a howl;

And, hark!—a sound from the window high

Responds to the watch-dog’s pitiful cry:

It is not a moan,

It is not a groan:

It comes from a nose,—but is not what a nose

Produces in healthy and sound repose.

Yet Sir Thopas the Vicar is fast asleep,

And his respirations are heavy and deep!

He snores, ’tis true, but he snores no more

As he’s aye been accustom’d to snore before,

And as men of his kidney are wont to snore

(Sir Thopas’s weight is sixteen stone four);—

He draws his breath like a man distress’d

By pain or grief, or like one oppress’d

By some ugly old Incubus perch’d on his breast.

A something seems

To disturb his dreams,

And thrice on his ear, distinct and clear,

Falls a voice as of somebody whispering near

In still small accents, faint and few,

“Hey down the chimney-pot!—Hey after you!”

Throughout the Vicarage, near and far,

There is no lack of bolt or of bar;

There are plenty of locks

To closet and box,

Yet the pantry wicket is standing ajar!

And the little low door, through which you must go,

Down some half-dozen steps, to the cellar below,

Is also unfastened, though no one may know,

By so much as a guess, how it comes to be so;

For wicket and door,

The evening before,

Were both of them lock’d, and the key safely placed

On the bunch that hangs down from the Housekeeper’s waist.

106

Oh! ’twas a jovial sight to view

In that snug little cellar that frolicsome crew!—

Old Goody Price

Had got something nice,

A turkey-poult larded with bacon and spice;—

Old Goody Jones

Would touch nought that had bones,—

She might just as well mumble a parcel of stones.

Goody Jones, in sooth, had got never a tooth,

And a New-College pudding of marrow and plums

Is the dish of all others that suiteth her gums.

Madge Gray was picking

The breast of a chicken,

Her coal-black eye, with its glance so sly,

Was fixed on Rob Gilpin himself, sitting by

With his heart full of love, and his mouth full of pie;

Grouse pie, with hare

In the middle, is fare

Which, duly concocted with science and care,

Doctor Kitchener says, is beyond all compare;

And a tenderer leveret

Robin had never ate;

So, in after times, oft he was wont to asseverate.

“Now pledge we the wine-cup!—a health!—a health!

Sweet are the pleasures obtain’d by stealth!

Fill up! fill up!—the brim of the cup

Is the part that aye holdeth the toothsomest sup!

Here’s to thee, Goody Price!—Goody Jones, to thee!—

To thee, Roving Rob! and again to me!

Many a sip, never a slip

Come to us four ’twixt the cup and the lip!”

The cups pass quick,

The toasts fly thick,

Rob tries in vain out their meaning to pick,

But hears the words “Scratch,” and “Old Bogey,” and “Nick.”

More familiar grown,

Now he stands up alone,

Volunteering to give them a toast of his own.

“A bumper of wine!

Fill thine! Fill mine!

Here’s a health to old Noah who planted the Vine!”

Oh then what sneezing,

What coughing and wheezing,

Ensued in a way that was not over pleasing;

107

Goody Price, Goody Jones, and the pretty Madge Gray,

All seem’d as their liquor had gone the wrong way.

But the best of the joke was, the moment he spoke

Those words which the party seem’d almost to choke,

As by mentioning Noah some spell had been broke,

Every soul in the house at that instant awoke!

And, hearing the din from barrel and binn,

Drew at once the conclusion that thieves had got in.

Up jump’d the Cook and caught hold of her spit;

Up jump’d the Groom and took bridle and bit;

Up jump’d the Gardener and shoulder’d his spade;

Up jump’d the Scullion,—the Footman,—the Maid;

(The two last, by the way, occasioned some scandal,

By appearing together with only one candle,

Which gave for unpleasant surmises some handle);

Up jump’d the Swineherd,—and up jump’d the big boy,

A nondescript under him, acting as Pig-boy;

Butler, Housekeeper, Coachman—from bottom to top

Everybody jump’d up without parley or stop,

With the weapon which first in their way chanced to drop,—

Whip, warming-pan, wig-block, mug, musket, and mop.

Last of all doth appear,

With some symptoms of fear,

Sir Thopas in person to bring up the rear,

In a mix’d kind of costume half Pontificalibus,

Half what scholars denominate Pure Naturalibus;

Nay, the truth to express,

As you’ll easily guess,

They have none of them time to attend much to dress;

But He, or She,

As the case may be,

He or She seizes what He or She pleases,

Trunk-hosen or kirtles, and shirts or chemises,

And thus one and all, great and small, short and tall,

Muster at once in the Vicarage hall,

With upstanding locks, starting eyes, shorten’d breath,

Like the folks in the Gallery Scene in Macbeth,

When Macduff is announcing their Sovereign’s death.

And hark!—what accents clear and strong,

To the listening throng came floating along!

108

’Tis Robin encoring himself in a song—

“Very good song! very well sung!

Jolly companions every one!”

On, on to the cellar! away! away!

On, on to the cellar without more delay!

The whole posse rush onwards in battle array—

Conceive the dismay of the party so gay,

Old Goody Jones, Goody Price, and Madge Gray,

When the door bursting wide, they descried the allied

Troops, prepared for the onslaught, roll in like a tide,

And the spits, and the tongs, and the pokers beside!—

“Boot and saddle’s the word! mount, Cummers, and ride!”—

Alarm was ne’er caused more strong and indigenous

By cats among rats, or a hawk in a pigeon-house;

Quick from the view

Away they all flew,

With a yell, and a screech, and a halliballoo,

“Hey up the chimney! Hey after you!”—

The Volscians themselves made an exit less speedy

From Corioli, “flutter’d like doves” by Macready.

They are gone,—save one,

Robin alone!

Robin, whose high state of civilisation

Precludes all idea of aërostation;

And who now has no notion

Of more locomotion

Than suffices to kick, with much zeal and devotion,

Right and left at the party, who pounced on their victim,

And maul’d him, and kick’d him, and lick’d him, and prick’d him,

As they bore him away scarce aware what was done,

And believing it all but a part of the fun,

Hic—hiccoughing out the same strain he’d begun,

“Jol—jolly companions every one!”

woman on broomstick rides across the room, following one who is going up the chimney

THE WITCHES’ FROLIC.

p. 108.

Morning grey

Scarce burst into day

Ere at Tappington Hall there’s the deuce to pay;

The tables and chairs are all placed in array

109

In the old oak-parlour, and in and out

Domestics and neighbours, a motley rout,

Are walking, and whispering, and standing about;

And the Squire is there

In his large arm-chair,

Leaning back with a grave magisterial air;

In the front of a seat a

Huge volume, called Fleta,

And Bracton, a tome of an old-fashion’d look,

And Coke upon Lyttelton, then a new book;

And he moistens his lip

With occasional sips

From a luscious sack-posset that smiles in a tankard

Close by on a side-table—not that he drank hard,

But because at that day,

I hardly need say,

The Hong Merchants had not yet invented How Qua,

Nor as yet would you see Souchong or Bohea

At the tables of persons of any degree:

How our ancestors managed to do without tea

I must fairly confess is a mystery to me;

Yet your Lydgates and Chaucers

Had no cups and saucers;

Their breakfast, in fact, and the best they could get,

Was a sort of déjeûner à la fourchette;

Instead of our slops

They had cutlets and chops,

And sack-possets, and ale in stoups, tankards, and pots;

And they wound up the meal with rumpsteaks and ’schalots.

Now the Squire lifts his hand

With an air of command,

And gives them a sign, which they all understand,

To bring in the culprit; and straightway the carter

And huntsman drag in that unfortunate martyr,

Still kicking, and crying, “Come,—what are you arter?”

The charge is prepared, and the evidence clear,

“He was caught in the cellar a-drinking the beer!

And came there, there’s very great reason to fear,

With companions,—to say but the least of them,—queer;

Such as Witches, and creatures

With horrible features,

And horrible grins,

And hook’d noses and chins,

Who’d been playing the deuce with his Reverence’s binns.”

110

The face of his worship grows graver and graver,

As the parties detail Robin’s shameful behaviour;

Mister Buzzard, the clerk, while the tale is reciting,

Sits down to reduce the affair into writing,

With all proper diction,

And due “legal fiction:”

Viz., “That he, the said prisoner, as clearly was shown,

Conspiring with folks to deponents unknown,

With divers, that is to say, two thousand people,

In two thousand hats, each hat peak’d like a steeple,

With force and with arms,

And with sorcery and charms,

Upon two thousand brooms;

Enter’d four thousand rooms,

To wit, two thousand pantries, and two thousand cellars,

Put in bodily fear twenty thousand in-dwellers,

And with sundry—that is to say, two thousand—forks,

Drew divers,—that is to say, ten thousand—corks,

And, with malice prepense, down their two thousand throttles

Emptied various—that is to say, ten thousand—bottles;

All in breach of the peace,—moved by Satan’s malignity—

And in spite of King James, and his Crown and his Dignity.”

At words so profound

Rob gazes around,

But no glance sympathetic to cheer him is found.

—No glance, did I say!

Yes, one!—Madge Gray!—

She is there in the midst of the crowd standing by,

And she gives him one glance from her coal-black eye,

One touch to his hand, and one word to his ear

(That’s a line which I’ve stolen from Sir Walter, I fear),—

While nobody near

Seems to see her or hear;

As his worship takes up, and surveys with a strict eye,

The broom now produced as the corpus delicti,

Ere his fingers can clasp,

It is snatch’d from his grasp,

The end poked in his chest with a force makes him gasp,

And despite the decorum so due to the Quorum,

His worship’s upset, and so too is his jorum;

And Madge is astride on the broomstick before ’em

Hocus Pocus! Quick, Presto! and Hey Cockalorum!

111

Mount, mount for your life, Rob!—Sir Justice, adieu!—

—Hey up the chimney-pot! hey after you!”

Through the mystified group,

With a halloo and a whoop,

Madge on the pommel, and Robin en croupe,

The pair through the air ride as if in a chair,

While the party below stand mouth open and stare;

“Clean bumbaized” and amazed, and fix’d, all the room stick,

“Oh! what’s gone with Robin,—and Madge,—and the broomstick?”

Ay, “what’s gone” indeed, Ned?—of what befell

Madge Gray, and the broomstick, I never heard tell:

But Robin was found, that morn, on the ground,

In yon old grey Ruin again, safe and sound,

Except that at first he complained much of thirst,

And a shocking bad headache, of all ills the worst,

And close by his knee

A flask you might see,

But an empty one smelling of eau-de-vie.

Rob from this hour is an alter’d man;

He runs home to his lodgings as fast as he can,

Sticks to his trade,

Marries Miss Slade,

Becomes a Tee-totaller—that is the same

As Tee-totallers now, one in all but the name;

Grows fond of Small-beer, which is always a steady sign,

Never drinks spirits except as a medicine;

Learns to despise

Coal-black eyes,

Minds pretty girls no more than so many Guys;

Has a family, lives to be sixty, and dies!

Now, my little boy Ned,

Brush off to your bed,

Tie your nightcap on safe, or a napkin instead,

Or these terrible nights, you’ll catch cold in your head.

And remember my tale, and the moral it teaches,

Which you’ll find much the same as what Solomon preaches;

Don’t flirt with young ladies! don’t practise soft speeches;

Avoid waltzes, quadrilles, pumps, silk hose, and knee-breeches;—

112

Frequent not grey Ruins,—shun riot and revelry,

Hocus Pocus, and Conjuring, and all sorts of devilry;—

Don’t meddle with broomsticks,—they’re Beelzebub’s switches,

Of cellars keep clear,—they’re the devil’s own ditches;

And beware of balls, banquetings, brandy, and—witches!

Above all! don’t run after black eyes!—if you do,—

Depend on’t you’ll find what I say will come true,—

Old Nick, some fine morning, will “hey after you!”

7 Stephen Ingoldsby, surnamed “The Niggard,” second cousin and successor to “The Bad Sir Giles.” (Visitation of Kent, 1666.) For an account of his murder by burglars, and their subsequent execution, see Dodsley’s “Remarkable Trials,” etc. Lond. 1776, vol. ii. p. 264, ex the present volume, Art. “Hand of Glory.”

Notes and Corrections: The Witches’ Frolic

skip to next chapter

“The Witches’ Frolic” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. IV no. 5 (November 1838) as “Family Stories No. X: Grandpapa’s Story—The Witches’ Frolic”.

Like a four-bottle man in a company “screw’d,”
comma invisible

But though of some “renown,”
close quote missing

A fat roast goose, and a turkey and chine.”
close quote missing

Mine host of the Dragon / Hath many a flagon / Of double ale, lambs’ wool, and eau de vie
[For lambs’ wool (lamasool), see Beeton’s Book of Household Management. For eau de vie, translate into the language of your choice: for example, akevitt or uisce beatha.]

Doctor Kitchener says, is beyond all compare
[I’m tolerably sure he means Kitchiner, author of Apicius Redivivus, but Bentley’s has the same spelling.]

Up jump’d the Scullion,—the Footman,—the Maid;
; missing

“Jol—jolly companions every one!”
close quote missing

“Oh! what’s gone with Robin,—and Madge,—and the broomstick?”
open quote missing

Don’t meddle with broomsticks
text has Dont

Strange as the events detailed in the succeeding narrative may appear, they are, I have not the slightest doubt, true to the letter. Whatever impression they make upon the reader, that produced by them on the narrator, I can aver, was neither light nor transient.

 

 
 
 

IN THE LIFE
OF
THE LATE HENRY HARRIS
DOCTOR IN DIVINITY

AS RELATED BY THE REV. JASPER INGOLDSBY, M.A., HIS FRIEND AND EXECUTOR.

IN order that the extraordinary circumstance which I am about to relate, may meet with the credit it deserves, I think it necessary to premise, that my reverend friend, among whose papers I find it recorded, was, in his lifetime, ever esteemed as a man of good plain understanding, strict veracity, and unimpeached morals,—by no means of a nervous temperament, or one likely to attach undue weight to any occurrence out of the common course of events, merely because his reflections might not, at the moment, afford him a ready solution of its difficulties.

On the truth of his narrative, as far as he was personally concerned, no one who knew him would hesitate to place the most implicit reliance. His history is briefly this:—He had married early in life, and was a widower at the age of thirty-nine, with an only daughter, who had then arrived at puberty, and was just married to a near connection of our own family. The sudden death of her husband, occasioned by a fall from his horse, only three days after her confinement, was abruptly communicated to Mrs. S—— 113 by a thoughtless girl, who saw her master brought lifeless into the house, and, with all that inexplicable anxiety to be the first to tell bad news, so common among the lower orders, rushed at once into the sick-room with her intelligence. The shock was too severe; and though the young widow survived the fatal event several months, yet she gradually sank under the blow, and expired, leaving a boy, not a twelvemonth old, to the care of his maternal grandfather.

My poor friend was sadly shaken by this melancholy catastrophe; time, however, and a strong religious feeling, succeeded at length in moderating the poignancy of his grief—a consummation much advanced by his infant charge, who now succeeded, as it were by inheritance, to the place in his affections left vacant by his daughter’s decease. Frederick S—— grew up to be a fine lad; his person and features were decidedly handsome; still there was, as I remember, an unpleasant expression in his countenance, and an air of reserve, attributed, by the few persons who called occasionally at the vicarage, to the retired life led by his grandfather, and the little opportunity he had, in consequence, of mixing in the society of his equals in age and intellect. Brought up entirely at home, his progress in the common branches of education was, without any great display of precocity, rather in advance of the generality of boys of his own standing; partly owing, perhaps, to the turn which even his amusements took from the first. His sole associate was the son of the village apothecary, a boy about two years older than himself, whose father, being really clever in his profession, and a good operative chemist, had constructed for himself a small laboratory, in which, as he was fond of children, the two boys spent a great portion of their leisure time, witnessing many of those little experiments so attractive to youth, and in time aspiring to imitate what they admired.

In such society, it is not surprising that Frederick S—— should imbibe a strong taste for the sciences which formed his principal amusement; or that, when, in process of time, it became necessary to choose his walk in life, a profession so intimately connected with his favourite pursuit, as that of medicine, should be eagerly selected. No opposition was offered by my friend, who, knowing that the greater part of his own income would expire with his life, and that the remainder would prove an insufficient resource to his grandchild, was only anxious that he should follow such a path as would secure him that moderate and respectable competency which is, perhaps, more conducive to real happiness than a more elevated or wealthy station. Frederick was, accordingly, at the proper age, matriculated at Oxford, with the view of studying the higher 114 branches of medicine, a few months after his friend, John W——, had proceeded to Leyden, for the purpose of making himself acquainted with the practice of surgery in the hospitals and lecture-rooms attached to that university. The boyish intimacy of their younger days did not, as is frequently the case, yield to separation; on the contrary, a close correspondence was kept up between them. Dr. Harris was even prevailed upon to allow Frederick to take a trip to Holland to see his friend; and John returned the visit to Frederick at Oxford.

Satisfactory as, for some time, were the accounts of the general course of Frederick S——’s studies, by degrees rumours of a less pleasant nature reached the ears of some of his friends; to the vicarage, however, I have reason to believe they never penetrated. The good old Doctor was too well beloved in his parish for any one voluntarily to give him pain; and, after all, nothing beyond whispers and surmises had reached X——, when the worthy vicar was surprised on a sudden by a request from his grandchild, that he might be permitted to take his name off the books of the university, and proceed to finish his education in conjunction with his friend W—— at Leyden. Such a proposal, made, too, at a time when the period for his graduating could not be far distant, both surprised and grieved the Doctor; he combated the design with more perseverance than he had ever been known to exert in opposition to any declared wish of his darling boy before, but, as usual, gave way, when, more strongly pressed, from sheer inability to persist in a refusal which seemed to give so much pain to Frederick, especially when the latter, with more energy than was quite becoming their relative situations, expressed his positive determination of not returning to Oxford, whatever might be the result of his grandfather’s decision. My friend, his mind, perhaps, a little weakened by a short but severe nervous attack from which he had scarcely recovered, at length yielded a reluctant consent, and Frederick quitted England.

It was not till some months had elapsed after his departure, that I had reason to suspect that the eager desire of availing himself of opportunities for study abroad, not afforded him at home, was not the sole, or even the principal, reason which had drawn Frederick so abruptly from his Alma Mater. A chance visit to the university, and a conversation with a senior fellow belonging to his late college, convinced me of this; still I found it impossible to extract from the latter the precise nature of his offence. That he had given way to most culpable indulgences I had before heard hinted; and when I recollected how he had been at once launched, from a state of what might be well called seclusion, into a world where so many enticements 115 were lying in wait to allure—with liberty, example, everything to tempt him from the straight road—regret, I frankly own, was more the predominant feeling in my mind than either surprise or condemnation. But here was evidently something more than mere ordinary excess—some act of profligacy, perhaps of a deeper stain, which had induced his superiors, who, at first, had been loud in his praises, to desire him to withdraw himself quietly, but for ever; and such an intimation, I found, had, in fact, been conveyed to him from an authority which it was impossible to resist. Seeing that my informant was determined not to be explicit, I did not press for a disclosure, which, if made, would, in all probability, only have given me pain, and that the rather, as my old friend the Doctor had recently obtained a valuable living from Lord M——, only a few miles distant from the market town in which I resided, where he now was, amusing himself in putting his grounds into order, ornamenting his house, and getting everything ready against his grandson’s expected visit in the following autumn. October came, and with it came Frederick: he rode over more than once to see me, sometimes accompanied by the Doctor, between whom and myself the recent loss of my poor daughter Louisa had drawn the cords of sympathy still closer.

More than two years had flown on in this way, in which Frederick S—— had as many times made temporary visits to his native country. The time was fast approaching when he was expected to return and finally take up his residence in England, when the sudden illness of my wife’s father obliged us to take a journey into Lancashire, my old friend, who had himself a curate, kindly offering to fix his quarters at my parsonage, and superintend the concerns of my parish till my return. Alas! when I saw him next he was on the bed of death!

My absence was necessarily prolonged much beyond what I had anticipated. A letter, with a foreign post-mark, had, as I afterwards found, been brought over from his own house to my venerable substitute in the interval, and barely giving himself time to transfer the charge he had undertaken to a neighbouring clergyman, he had hurried off at once to Leyden. His arrival there was, however, too late. Frederick was dead!—killed in a duel, occasioned, it was said, by no ordinary provocation on his part, although the flight of his antagonist had added to the mystery which enveloped its origin. The long journey, its melancholy termination, and the complete overthrow of all my poor friend’s earthly hopes, were too much for him. He appeared too—as I was informed by the proprietor of the house in which I found him, when his summons at length had brought me to his bedside—to have received some sudden and 116 unaccountable shock, which even the death of his grandson was inadequate to explain. There was, indeed, a wildness in his fast-glazing eye, which mingled strangely with the glance of satisfaction thrown upon me as he pressed my hand; he endeavoured to raise himself, and would have spoken, but fell back in the effort, and closed his eyes for ever. I buried him there, by the side of the object of his more than parental affection—in a foreign land.

It is from the papers that I discovered in his travelling-case that I submit the following extracts, without, however, presuming to advance an opinion on the strange circumstances which they detail, or even as to the connection which some may fancy they discover between different parts of them.

The first was evidently written at my own house, and bears date August the 15th, 18—, about three weeks after my own departure for Preston.

It begins thus:—

“Tuesday, August 15.—Poor girl!—I forget who it is that says, ‘The real ills of life are light in comparison with fancied evils;’ and certainly the scene I have just witnessed goes some way towards establishing the truth of the hypothesis. Among the afflictions which flesh is heir to, a diseased imagination is far from being the lightest, even when considered separately, and without taking into the account those bodily pains and sufferings which—so close is the connection between mind and matter—are but too frequently attendant upon any disorder of the fancy. Seldom has my interest been more powerfully excited than by poor Mary Graham. Her age, her appearance, her pale, melancholy features, the very contour of her countenance, all conspire to remind me, but too forcibly, of one who, waking or sleeping, is never long absent from my thoughts;—but enough of this.

“A fine morning had succeeded one of the most tempestuous nights I ever remember, and I was just sitting down to a substantial breakfast, which the care of my friend Ingoldsby’s housekeeper, kind-hearted Mrs. Wilson, had prepared for me, when I was interrupted by a summons to the sick-bed of a young parishioner whom I had frequently seen in my walks, and had remarked for the regularity of her attendance at Divine worship. Mary Graham is the elder of two daughters, residing with their mother, the widow of an attorney, who, dying suddenly in the prime of life, left his family but slenderly provided for. A strict though not parsimonious economy has, however, enabled them to live with an appearance of respectability and comfort; and from the personal attractions which both the girls possess, their mother is evidently not without hopes of seeing one, at least, of them advantageously settled in life. As far 117 as poor Mary is concerned, I fear she is doomed to inevitable disappointment, as I am much mistaken if consumption has not laid its wasting finger upon her; while this last recurrence, of what I cannot but believe to be a formidable epileptic attack, threatens to shake out, with even added velocity, the little sand that may yet remain within the hour-glass of time. Her very delusion, too, is of such a nature as, by adding to bodily illness the agitation of superstitious terror, can scarcely fail to accelerate the catastrophe, which I think I see fast approaching.

“Before I was introduced into the sick-room, her sister, who had been watching my arrival from the window, took me into their little parlour, and, after the usual civilities, began to prepare me for the visit I was about to pay. Her countenance was marked at once with trouble and alarm, and in a low tone of voice, which some internal emotion, rather than the fear of disturbing the invalid in a distant room, had subdued almost to a whisper, informed me that my presence was become necessary, not more as a clergyman than a magistrate; that the disorder with which her sister had, during the night, been so suddenly and unaccountably seized, was one of no common kind, but attended with circumstances which, coupled with the declarations of the sufferer, took it out of all ordinary calculations, and, to use her own expression, that ‘malice was at the bottom of it.’

“Naturally supposing that these insinuations were intended to intimate the partaking of some deleterious substance on the part of the invalid, I inquired what reason she had for imagining, in the first place, that anything of a poisonous nature had been administered at all; and, secondly, what possible incitement any human being could have for the perpetration of so foul a deed towards so innocent and unoffending an individual? Her answer considerably relieved the apprehensions I had begun to entertain lest the poor girl should, from some unknown cause, have herself been attempting to rush uncalled into the presence of her Creator; at the same time, it surprised me not a little by its apparent want of rationality and common sense. She had no reason to believe, she said, that her sister had taken poison, or that any attempt upon her life had been made, or was, perhaps, contemplated, but that ‘still malice was at work—the malice of villains or fiends, or of both combined; that no causes purely natural would suffice to account for the state in which her sister had been now twice placed, or for the dreadful sufferings she had undergone while in that state;’ and that she was determined the whole affair should undergo a thorough investigation. Seeing that the poor girl was now herself labouring under a great degree of excitement, I did not think it necessary to enter at that 118 moment into a discussion upon the absurdity of her opinion, but applied myself to the tranquillising of her mind by assurances of a proper inquiry, and then drew her attention to the symptoms of the indisposition, and the way in which it had first made its appearance.

“The violence of the storm last night, had, I found, induced the whole family to sit up far beyond their usual hour, till, wearied out at length, and, as their mother observed, ‘tired of burning fire and candle to no purpose,’ they repaired to their several chambers.

“The sisters occupied the same room; Elizabeth was already at her humble toilet, and had commenced the arrangement of her hair for the night, when her attention was at once drawn from her employment by a half-smothered shriek and exclamation from her sister, who, in her delicate state of health, had found walking up two flights of stairs, perhaps a little more quickly than usual, an exertion, to recover from which she had seated herself in a large arm-chair.

“Turning hastily at the sound, she perceived Mary deadly pale, grasping as it were convulsively, each arm of the chair which supported her, and bending forward in the attitude of listening; her lips were trembling and bloodless, cold drops of perspiration stood upon her forehead, and in an instant after, exclaiming in a piercing tone, ‘Hark! they are calling me again! it is—it is the same voice;—Oh no, no!—Oh my God! save me, Betsy—hold me—save me!’ she fell forward upon the floor. Elizabeth flew to her assistance, raised her, and by her cries brought both her mother, who had not yet got into bed, and their only servant-girl, to her aid. The latter was despatched at once for medical help; but, from the appearance of the sufferer, it was much to be feared that she would soon be beyond the reach of art. Her agonised parent and sister succeeded in bearing her between them and placing her on a bed: a faint and intermittent pulsation was for a while perceptible; but in a few moments a general shudder shook the whole body; the pulse ceased, the eyes became fixed and glassy, the jaw dropped, a cold clamminess usurped the place of the genial warmth of life. Before Mr. I—— arrived everything announced that dissolution had taken place, and that the freed spirit had quitted its mortal tenement.

“The appearance of the surgeon confirmed their worst apprehensions; a vein was opened, but the blood refused to flow, and Mr. I—— pronounced that the vital spark was indeed extinguished.

“The poor mother, whose attachment to her children was perhaps the more powerful, as they were the sole relatives or connections she had in the world, was overwhelmed with a grief amounting almost to frenzy; it was with difficulty that she was removed to her own room by the united strength of her daughter and medical 119 adviser. Nearly an hour had elapsed during the endeavour at calming her transports; they had succeeded, however, to a certain extent, and Mr. I—— had taken his leave, when Elizabeth, re-entering the bed-chamber in which her sister lay, in order to pay the last sad duties to her corpse, was horrorstruck at seeing a crimson stream of blood running down the side of the counterpane to the floor. Her exclamation brought the girl again to her side, when it was perceived, to their astonishment, that the sanguine stream proceeded from the arm of the body, which was now manifesting signs of returning life. The half-frantic mother flew to the room, and it was with difficulty that they could prevent her, in her agitation, from so acting as to extinguish for ever the hope which had begun to rise in their bosoms. A long-drawn sigh, amounting almost to a groan, followed by several convulsive gaspings, was the prelude to the restoration of the animal functions in poor Mary: a shriek, almost preternaturally loud, considering her state of exhaustion, succeeded; but she did recover, and, with the help of restoratives, was well enough towards morning to express a strong desire that I should be sent for—a desire the more readily complied with, inasmuch as the strange expressions and declarations she had made since her restoration to consciousness, had filled her sister with the most horrible suspicions. The nature of these suspicions was such as would at any other time, perhaps, have raised a smile upon my lips; but the distress, and even agony of the poor girl, as she half hinted and half expressed them, were such as entirely to preclude every sensation at all approaching to mirth. Without endeavouring, therefore, to combat ideas, evidently too strongly impressed upon her mind at the moment to admit of present refutation, I merely used a few encouraging words, and requested her to precede me to the sick chamber.

“The invalid was lying on the outside of the bed, partly dressed, and wearing a white dimity wrapping-gown, the colour of which corresponded but too well with the deadly paleness of her complexion. Her cheek was wan and sunken, giving an extraordinary prominence to her eye, which gleamed with a lustrous brilliancy not unfrequently characteristic of the aberration of intellect. I took her hand; it was chill and clammy, the pulse feeble and intermittent, and the general debility of her frame was such that I would fain have persuaded her to defer any conversation which, in her present state, she might not be equal to support. Her positive assurance that, until she had disburdened herself of what she called her ‘dreadful secret,’ she could know no rest either of mind or body, at length induced me to comply with her wish, opposition to which, in her then frame of mind, might perhaps be attended with 120 even worse effects than its indulgence. I bowed acquiescence, and in a low and faltering voice, with frequent interruptions, occasioned by her weakness, she gave me the following singular account of the sensations which, she averred, had been experienced by her during her trance:—

“‘This, sir,’ she began, ‘is not the first time that the cruelty of others has, for what purpose I am unable to conjecture, put me to a degree of torture which I can compare to no suffering, either of body or mind, which I have ever before experienced. On a former occasion I was willing to believe it the mere effect of a hideous dream, or what is vulgarly termed the nightmare; but this repetition, and the circumstances under which I was last summoned, at a time, too, when I had not even composed myself to rest, fatally convince me of the reality of what I have seen and suffered.

“‘This is no time for concealment of any kind. It is now more than a twelvemonth since I was in the habit of occasionally encountering in my walks a young man of prepossessing appearance and gentlemanly deportment. He was always alone, and generally reading; but I could not be long in doubt that these rencounters, which became every week more frequent, were not the effect of accident, or that his attention, when we did meet, was less directed to his book than to my sister and myself. He even seemed to wish to address us, and I have no doubt would have taken some other opportunity of doing so, had not one been afforded him by a strange dog attacking us one Sunday morning in our way to church, which he beat off, and made use of this little service to promote an acquaintance. His name, he said, was Francis Somers, and added that he was on a visit to a relation of the same name, resident a few miles from X——. He gave us to understand that he was himself studying surgery with the view to a medical appointment in one of the colonies. You are not to suppose, sir, that he had entered thus into his concerns at the first interview; it was not till our acquaintance had ripened, and he had visited our house more than once with my mother’s sanction, that these particulars were elicited. He never disguised, from the first, that an attachment to myself was his object originally in introducing himself to our notice. As his prospects were comparatively flattering, my mother did not raise any impediment to his attentions, and I own I received them with pleasure.

“‘Days and weeks elapsed; and although the distance at which his relation resided prevented the possibility of an uninterrupted intercourse, yet neither was it so great as to preclude his frequent visits. The interval of a day, or at most of two, was all that intervened, and these temporary absences certainly did not decrease the pleasure of the meetings with which they terminated. At length 121 a pensive expression began to exhibit itself upon his countenance, and I could not but remark that at every visit he became more abstracted and reserved. The eye of affection is not slow to detect any symptom of uneasiness in a quarter dear to it. I spoke to him, questioned him on the subject; his answer was evasive, and I said no more. My mother, too, however, had marked the same appearance of melancholy, and pressed him more strongly. He at length admitted that his spirits were depressed, and that their depression was caused by the necessity of an early, though but a temporary, separation. His uncle, and only friend, he said, had long insisted on his spending some months on the Continent, with the view of completing his professional education, and that the time was now fast approaching when it would be necessary for him to commence his journey. A look made the inquiry which my tongue refused to utter. “Yes, dearest Mary,” was his reply, “I have communicated our attachment to him, partially at least; and though I dared not say that the intimation was received as I could have wished, yet I have, perhaps, on the whole, no fair reason to be dissatisfied with his reply.

“‘The completion of my studies, and my settlement in the world, must, my uncle told me, be the first consideration; when these material points were achieved, he should not interfere with any arrangement that might be found essential to my happiness; at the same time, he has positively refused to sanction any engagement at present, which may, he says, have a tendency to divert my attention from those pursuits, on the due prosecution of which my future situation in life must depend. A compromise between love and duty was eventually wrung from me, though reluctantly; I have pledged myself to proceed immediately to my destination abroad, with a full understanding that on my return, a twelvemonth hence, no obstacle shall be thrown in the way of what are, I trust, our mutual wishes.”

“‘I will not attempt to describe the feelings with which I received this communication, nor will it be necessary to say anything of what passed at the few interviews which took place before Francis quitted X——. The evening immediately previous to that of his departure he passed in this house, and, before we separated, renewed his protestations of an unchangeable affection, requiring a similar assurance from me in return. I did not hesitate to make it. “Be satisfied, my dear Francis,” said I, “that no diminution in the regard I have avowed can ever take place, and though absent in body, my heart and soul will still be with you.”—“Swear this,” he cried with a suddenness and energy which surprised, and rather startled me: “promise me that you will be with me in spirit, at 122 least when I am far away.” I gave him my hand, but that was not sufficient. “One of these dark shining ringlets, my dear Mary,” said he, “as a pledge that you will not forget your vow!” I suffered him to take the scissors from my work-box and to sever a lock of my hair, which he placed in his bosom.—The next day he was pursuing his journey, and the waves were already bearing him from England.

“‘I had letters from him repeatedly during the first three months of his absence; they spoke of his health, his prospects, and of his love, but by degrees the intervals between each arrival became longer, and I fancied I perceived some falling off from that warmth of expression which had at first characterised his communications.

“‘One night I had retired to rest rather later than usual, having sat by the bedside, comparing his last brief note with some of his earlier letters, and was endeavouring to convince myself that my apprehensions of his fickleness were unfounded, when an undefinable sensation of restlessness and anxiety seized upon me. I cannot compare it to anything I had ever experienced before; my pulse fluttered, my heart beat with a quickness and violence which alarmed me, and a strange tremor shook my whole frame. I retired hastily to bed, in hopes of getting rid of so unpleasant a sensation, but in vain; a vague apprehension of I know not what occupied my mind, and vainly did I endeavour to shake it off. I can compare my feelings to nothing but those which we sometimes experience when about to undertake a long and unpleasant journey, leaving those we love behind us. More than once did I raise myself in my bed and listen, fancying that I heard myself called, and on each of those occasions the fluttering of my heart increased. Twice I was on the point of calling to my sister, who then slept in an adjoining room, but she had gone to bed indisposed, and an unwillingness to disturb either her or my mother checked me; the large clock in the room below at this moment began to strike the hour of twelve. I distinctly heard its vibrations, but ere its sounds had ceased, a burning heat, as if a hot iron had been applied to my temple, was succeeded by a dizziness,—a swoon,—a total loss of consciousness as to where or in what situation I was.

“‘A pain, violent, sharp, and piercing, as though my whole frame were lacerated by some keen-edged weapon, roused me from this stupor,—but where was I? Everything was strange around me—a shadowy dimness rendered every object indistinct and uncertain; methought, however, that I was seated in a large, antique, high-backed chair, several of which were near, their tall black carved frames and seats interwoven with a lattice-work of cane. The apartment in which I sat was one of moderate dimensions, and from its sloping roof, seemed to be the upper storey of the edifice, a fact 123 confirmed by the moon shining without, in full effulgence, on a huge round tower, which its light rendered plainly visible through the open casement, and the summit of which appeared but little superior in elevation to the room I occupied. Rather to the right, and in the distance, the spire of some cathedral or lofty church was visible, while sundry gable-ends, and tops of houses, told me I was in the midst of a populous but unknown city.

“‘The apartment itself had something strange in its appearance; and, in the character of its furniture and appurtenances, bore little or no resemblance to any I had ever seen before. The fireplace was large and wide, with a pair of what are sometimes called andirons, betokening that wood was the principal, if not the only fuel consumed within its recess; a fierce fire was now blazing in it, the light from which rendered visible the remotest parts of the chamber. Over a lofty old-fashioned mantelpiece, carved heavily in imitation of fruits and flowers, hung the half-length portrait of a gentleman in a dark-coloured foreign habit, with a peaked beard and mustaches, one hand resting upon a table, the other supporting a sort of baton, or short military staff, the summit of which was surmounted by a silver falcon. Several antique chairs, similar in appearance to those already mentioned, surrounded a massive oaken table, the length of which much exceeded its width. At the lower end of this piece of furniture stood the chair I occupied; on the upper, was placed a small chafing-dish filled with burning coals, and darting forth occasionally long flashes of various-coloured fire, the brilliance of which made itself visible, even above the strong illumination emitted from the chimney. Two huge, black, japanned cabinets, with clawed feet, reflecting from their polished surfaces the effulgence of the flame, were placed one on each side the casement-window to which I have alluded, and with a few shelves loaded with books, many of which were also strewed in disorder on the floor, completed the list of the furniture in the apartment. Some strange-looking instruments, of unknown form and purpose, lay on the table near the chafing-dish, on the other side of which a miniature portrait of myself hung, reflected by a small oval mirror in a dark-coloured frame, while a large open volume, traced with strange characters of the colour of blood, lay in front; a goblet, containing a few drops of liquid of the same ensanguined hue, was by its side.

“‘But of the objects which I have endeavoured to describe, none arrested my attention so forcibly as two others. These were the figures of two young men, in the prime of life, only separated from me by the table. They were dressed alike, each in a long flowing gown, made of some sad-coloured stuff, and confined at the waist by a crimson girdle; one of them, the shorter of the two, was occupied 124 in feeding the embers of the chafing-dish with a resinous powder, which produced and maintained a brilliant but flickering blaze, to the action of which his companion was exposing a long lock of dark chestnut hair, that shrank and shrivelled as it approached the flame. But, O God!—that hair!—and the form of him who held it! that face! those features!—not for one instant could I entertain a doubt—it was He! Francis!—the lock he grasped was mine, the very pledge of affection I had given him, and still, as it partially encountered the fire, a burning heat seemed to scorch the temple from which it had been taken, conveying a torturing sensation that affected my very brain.

“‘How shall I proceed?—but no, it is impossible,—not even to you, sir, can I—dare I—recount the proceedings of that unhallowed night of horror and of shame. Were my life extended to a term commensurate with that of the Patriarchs of old, never could its detestable, its damning pollutions be effaced from my remembrance; and oh! above all, never could I forget the diabolical glee which sparkled in the eyes of my fiendish tormentors, as they witnessed the worse than useless struggles of their miserable victim. Oh! why was it not permitted me to take refuge in unconsciousness—nay, in death itself, from the abominations of which I was compelled to be, not only a witness, but a partaker? But it is enough, sir; I will not further shock your nature by dwelling longer on the scene, the full horrors of which, words, if I even dared employ any, would be inadequate to express; suffice it to say, that after being subjected to it, how long I knew not, but certainly for more than an hour, a noise from below seemed to alarm my persecutors; a pause ensued,—the lights were extinguished,—and, as the sound of a footstep ascending a staircase became more distinct, my forehead felt again the excruciating sensation of heat, while the embers, kindling into a momentary flame, betrayed another portion of the ringlet consuming in the blaze. Fresh agonies succeeded, not less severe, and of a similar description to those which had seized upon me at first; oblivion again followed, and on being at length restored to consciousness, I found myself as you see me now, faint and exhausted, weakened in every limb, and every fibre quivering with agitation. My groans soon brought my sister to my aid; it was long before I could summon resolution to confide, even to her, the dreadful secret, and when I had done so, her strongest efforts were not wanting to persuade me that I had been labouring under a severe attack of nightmare. I ceased to argue, but I was not convinced: the whole scene was then too present, too awfully real, to permit me to doubt the character of the transaction; and if, when a few days had elapsed, the hopelessness of imparting to others the 125 conviction I entertained myself, produced in me an apparent acquiescence with their opinion, I have never been the less satisfied that no cause reducible to the known laws of nature occasioned my sufferings on that hellish evening. Whether that firm belief might have eventually yielded to time, whether I might at length have been brought to consider all that had passed, and the circumstances which I could never cease to remember, as a mere phantasm, the offspring of a heated imagination, acting upon an enfeebled body, I know not—last night, however, would in any case have dispelled the flattering illusion—last night—last night was the whole horrible scene acted over again. The place—the actors—the whole infernal apparatus were the same;—the same insults, the same torments, the same brutalities—all were renewed, save that the period of my agony was not so prolonged. I became sensible to an incision in my arm, though the hand that made it was not visible; at the same moment my persecutors paused; they were manifestly disconcerted, and the companion of him, whose name shall never more pass my lips, muttered something to his abettor in evident agitation; the formula of an oath of horrible import was dictated to me in terms fearfully distinct. I refused it unhesitatingly; again and again was it proposed, with menaces I tremble to think on—but I refused; the same sound was heard—interruption was evidently apprehended,—the same ceremony was hastily repeated, and I again found myself released, lying on my own bed, with my mother and my sister weeping over me. O God! O God! when and how is this to end?—When will my spirit be left in peace?—Where, or with whom shall I find refuge?’

“It is impossible to convey any adequate idea of the emotions with which this unhappy girl’s narrative affected me. It must not be supposed that her story was delivered in the same continuous and uninterrupted strain in which I have transcribed its substance. On the contrary, it was not without frequent intervals, of longer or shorter duration, that her account was brought to a conclusion: indeed, many passages of her strange dream were not without the greatest difficulty and reluctance communicated at all. My task was no easy one; never, in the course of a long life spent in the active duties of my Christian calling,—never had I been summoned to such a conference before.

“To the half-avowed, and palliated confession of committed guilt I had often listened, and pointed out the only road to secure its forgiveness. I had succeeded in cheering the spirit of despondency, and sometimes even in calming the ravings of despair; but here I had a different enemy to combat, an ineradicable prejudice to encounter, evidently backed by no common share of superstition, and 126 confirmed by the mental weakness attendant upon severe bodily pain. To argue the sufferer out of an opinion so rooted was a hopeless attempt. I did, however, essay it; I spoke to her of the strong and mysterious connection maintained between our waking images and those which haunt us in our dreams, and more especially during that morbid oppression commonly called nightmare. I was even enabled to adduce myself as a strong and living instance of the excess to which fancy sometimes carries her freaks on those occasions; while, by an odd coincidence, the impression made upon my own mind, which I adduced as an example, bore no slight resemblance to her own. I stated to her, that on my recovery from the fit of epilepsy, which had attacked me about two years since, just before my grandson Frederick left Oxford, it was with the greatest difficulty I could persuade myself that I had not visited him, during the interval, in his rooms at Brazenose, and even conversed with himself and his friend W——, seated in his arm-chair, and gazing through the window full upon the statue of Cain, as it stands in the centre of the quadrangle. I told her of the pain I underwent both at the commencement and termination of my attack; of the extreme lassitude that succeeded; but my efforts were all in vain: she listened to me, indeed, with an interest almost breathless, especially when I informed her of my having actually experienced the very burning sensation in the brain alluded to, no doubt a strong attendant symptom of this peculiar affection, and a proof of the identity of the complaint: but I could plainly perceive that I failed entirely in shaking the rooted opinion which possessed her, that her spirit had, by some nefarious and unhallowed means, been actually subtracted for a time from its earthly tenement.”

The next extract which I shall give from my old friend’s memoranda is dated August 24th, more than a week subsequent to his first visit at Mrs. Graham’s. He appears, from his papers, to have visited the poor young woman more than once during the interval, and to have afforded her those spiritual consolations which no one was more capable of communicating. His patient, for so in a religious sense she may well be termed, had been sinking under the agitation she had experienced; and the constant dread she was under of similar sufferings, operated so strongly on a frame already enervated, that life at length seemed to hang only by a thread. His papers go on to say—

“I have just seen poor Mary Graham,—I fear for the last time. Nature is evidently quite worn out; she is aware that she is dying, 127 and looks forward to the termination of her existence here, not only with resignation but with joy. It is clear that her dream, or what she persists in calling her ‘subtraction,’ has much to do with this. For the last three days her behaviour has been altered; she has avoided conversing on the subject of her delusion, and seems to wish that I should consider her as a convert to my view of her case. This may, perhaps, be partly owing to the flippancies of her medical attendant upon the subject, for Mr. I—— has, somehow or other, got an inkling that she has been much agitated by a dream, and thinks to laugh off the impression—in my opinion injudiciously; but though a skilful, and a kindhearted, he is a young man, and of a disposition, perhaps, rather too mercurial for the chamber of a nervous invalid. Her manner has since been much more reserved to both of us: in my case, probably because she suspects me of betraying her secret.”

“August 26th.—Mary Graham is yet alive, but sinking fast; her cordiality towards me has returned since her sister confessed yesterday, that she had herself told Mr. I—— that his patient’s mind ‘had been affected by a terrible vision.’ I am evidently restored to her confidence.—She asked me this morning, with much earnestness, ‘What I believed to be the state of departed spirits during the interval between dissolution and the final day of account? And whether I thought they would be safe, in another world, from the influence of wicked persons employing an agency more than human?’ Poor child! One cannot mistake the prevailing bias of her mind. Poor child!”

“August 27th.—It is nearly over, she is sinking rapidly, but quietly and without pain. I have just administered to her the sacred elements, of which her mother partook. Elizabeth declined doing the same: she cannot, she says, yet bring herself to forgive the villain who has destroyed her sister. It is singular that she, a young woman of good plain sense in ordinary matters, should so easily adopt, and so pertinaciously retain, a superstition so puerile and ridiculous. This must be matter of a future conversation between us; at present, with the form of the dying girl before her eyes, it were vain to argue with her. The mother, I find, has written to young Somers, stating the dangerous situation of his affianced wife; indignant, as she justly is, at his long silence, it is fortunate that she has no knowledge of the suspicions entertained by her daughter. I have seen her letter; it is addressed to Mr. 128 Francis Somers, in the Hogewoert, at Leyden—a fellow-student, then, of Frederick’s, I must remember to inquire if he is acquainted with this young man.”

Mary Graham, it appears, died the same night. Before her departure, she repeated to my friend the singular story she had before told him, without any material variation from the detail she had formerly given. To the last she persisted in believing that her unworthy lover had practised upon her by forbidden arts. She once more described the apartment with great minuteness, and even the person of Francis’s alleged companion, who was, she said, about the middle height, hard-featured, with a rather remarkable scar upon his left cheek, extending in a transverse direction from below the eye to the nose. Several pages of my reverend friend’s manuscript are filled with reflections upon this extraordinary confession, which, joined with its melancholy termination, seems to have produced no common effect upon him. He alludes to more than one subsequent discussion with the surviving sister, and piques himself on having made some progress in convincing her of the folly of her theory respecting the origin and nature of the illness itself.

His memoranda on this, and other subjects, are continued till about the middle of September, when a break ensues, occasioned, no doubt, by the unwelcome news of his grandson’s dangerous state, which induces him to set out forthwith for Holland. His arrival at Leyden was, as I have already said, too late. Frederick S—— had expired after thirty hours’ intense suffering, from a wound received in a duel with a brother student. The cause of quarrel was variously related; but, according to his landlord’s version, it had originated in some silly dispute about a dream of his antagonist’s, who had been the challenger. Such, at least, was the account given to him, as he said, by Frederick’s friend and fellow-lodger, W——, who had acted as second on the occasion, thus acquitting himself of an obligation of the same kind due to the deceased, whose services he had put in requisition about a year before on a similar occasion, when he had himself been severely wounded in the face.

From the same authority I learned that my poor friend was much affected on finding that his arrival had been deferred too long. Every attention was shown him by the proprietor of the house, a respectable tradesman, and a chamber was prepared for his accommodation; the books, and few effects of his deceased grandson, were delivered over to him, duly inventoried, and, late as it was in the evening when he reached Leyden, he insisted on being conducted 129 immediately to the apartments which Frederick had occupied, there to indulge the first ebullitions of his sorrows, before he retired to his own. Madame Müller accordingly led the way to an upper room, which, being situated at the top of the house, had been, from its privacy and distance from the street, selected by Frederick as his study. The Doctor entered, and taking the lamp from his conductress motioned to be left alone. His implied wish was of course complied with: and nearly two hours had elapsed before his kind-hearted hostess re-ascended, in the hope of prevailing upon him to return with her, and partake of that refreshment which he had in the first instance peremptorily declined. Her application for admission was unnoticed:—she repeated it more than once, without success; then becoming somewhat alarmed at the continued silence, opened the door and perceived her new inmate stretched on the floor in a fainting fit. Restoratives were instantly administered, and prompt medical aid succeeded at length in restoring him to consciousness. But his mind had received a shock from which, during the few weeks he survived, it never entirely recovered. His thoughts wandered perpetually: and though, from the very slight acquaintance which his hosts had with the English language, the greater part of what fell from him remained unknown, yet enough was understood to induce them to believe that something more than the mere death of his grandson had contributed thus to paralyse his faculties.

When his situation was first discovered, a small miniature was found tightly grasped in his right hand. It had been the property of Frederick, and had more than once been seen by the Müllers in his possession. To this the patient made continued reference, and would not suffer it one moment from his sight: it was in his hand when he expired. At my request it was produced to me. The portrait was that of a young woman, in an English morning dress, whose pleasing and regular features, with their mild and somewhat pensive expression, were not, I thought, altogether unknown to me. Her age was apparently about twenty. A profusion of dark chestnut was arranged in the Madonna style, above a brow of unsullied whiteness, a single ringlet depending on the left side. A glossy lock of the same colour, and evidently belonging to the original, appeared beneath a small crystal, inlaid in the back of the picture, which was plainly set in gold, and bore in a cipher the letters M. G. with the date 18—. From the inspection of this portrait, I could at the time collect nothing, nor from that of the Doctor himself, which, also, I found the next morning in Frederick’s desk, accompanied by two separate portions of hair. One of them was a lock, short, and deeply tinged with grey, and had been taken, 130 I have little doubt, from the head of my old friend himself; the other corresponded in colour and appearance with that at the back of the miniature. It was not till a few days had elapsed, and I had seen the worthy Doctor’s remains quietly consigned to the narrow house, that, while arranging his papers previous to my intended return upon the morrow, I encountered the narrative I have already transcribed. The name of the unfortunate young woman connected with it forcibly arrested my attention. I recollected it immediately as one belonging to a parishioner of my own, and at once recognised the original of the female portrait as its owner.

I rose not from the perusal of his very singular statement till I had gone through the whole of it. It was late,—and the rays of the single lamp by which I was reading did but very faintly illumine the remoter parts of the room in which I sat. The brilliancy of an unclouded November moon, then some twelve nights old, and shining full into the apartment, did much towards remedying the defect. My thoughts filled with the melancholy details I had read, I rose and walked to the window. The beautiful planet rose high in the firmament, and gave to the snowy roofs of the houses, and pendant icicles, all the sparkling radiance of clustering gems. The stillness of the scene harmonised well with the state of my feelings. I threw open the casement and looked abroad. Far below me, the waters of the principal canal shone like a broad mirror in the moonlight. To the left rose the Burght, a huge round tower of remarkable appearance, pierced with embrasures at its summit; while a little to the right and in the distance, the spire and pinnacles of the Cathedral of Leyden rose in all their majesty, presenting a coup d’œil of surpassing though simple beauty. To a spectator of calm, unoccupied mind, the scene would have been delightful. On me it acted with an electric effect. I turned hastily to survey the apartment in which I had been sitting. It was the one designated as the study of the late Frederick S——. The sides of the room were covered with dark wainscot; the spacious fireplace opposite to me, with its polished andirons, was surmounted by a large old-fashioned mantelpiece, heavily carved in the Dutch style with fruits and flowers; above it frowned a portrait, in a Vandyke dress, with a peaked beard and mustaches; one hand of the figure rested on a table, while the other bore a marshal’s staff, surmounted with a silver falcon; and—either my imagination, already heated by the scene, deceived me—or a smile as of malicious triumph curled the lip and glared in the cold leaden eye that seemed fixed upon my own. The heavy, antique, cane-backed chairs—the large oaken table,—the book-shelves, the scattered volumes—all, all were there; while, to complete the picture, to my right and 131 left, as half-breathless I leaned my back against the casement, rose, on each side, a tall, dark, ebony cabinet, in whose polished sides the single lamp upon the table shone reflected as in a mirror.

What am I to think?—Can it be that the story I have been reading was written by my poor friend here, and under the influence of delirium?—Impossible! Besides they all assure me, that from the fatal night of his arrival he never left his bed—never put pen to paper. His very directions to have me summoned from England were verbally given, during one of those few and brief intervals in which reason seemed partially to resume her sway. Can it then be possible that——? W——? where is he who alone may be able to throw light on this horrible mystery? No one knows. He absconded, it seems, immediately after the duel. No trace of him exists, nor, after repeated and anxious inquiries, can I find that any student has ever been known in the University of Leyden by the name of Francis Somers.

“There are more things in heaven and earth

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy!!”

Notes and Corrections: Singular passage in the Life of the late Henry Harris, Doctor in Divinity

skip to next chapter

If “Henry Harris” was published anywhere before the First Series of Ingoldsby Legends, I couldn’t find it.

they are, I have not the slightest doubt, true to the letter
text has sightest

that he might be permitted to take his name off the books of the university, and proceed to finish his education in conjunction with his friend W—— at Leyden
[Probably a good choice. Continental medical schools in this period were generally far better than those in English-speaking countries.]

I forget who it is that says, ‘The real ills of life are light in comparison with fancied evils;’
[Everyone else must have forgotten, too. I found one obscure source that claimed it was Shakespeare, but this does not seem to be the case—worse luck. If it had been Shakespeare, the author could safely have assumed all his readers would recognize it; the narrator’s failure to remember could then be taken as evidence of his distressed state of mind.]

“‘This, sir,’ she began, ‘is not the first time
[I am impressed by the way minor characters in 19th-century novels can recount, verbatim, lengthy utterances they heard only once. This one goes on for three pages.]

“‘The completion of my studies
[The author, or perhaps the printer, fails to notice that the quotation is now nested three deep. The paragraph should therefore open “‘“ with three quotation marks. (The end of the paragraph is correct: the inmost quote closes, while the other two remain open.)]

His very directions to have me summoned from England were verbally given
[I am disheartened to see how long, how very long, the word “verbal” has been used as if it meant “oral”.]

Father John Ingoldsby, to whose papers I am largely indebted for the saintly records which follow, was brought up by his father, a cadet of the family, in the Romish faith, and was educated at Douai for the church. Besides the manuscripts now at Tappington, he was the author of two controversial treatises on the connection between the Papal Hierarchy and the Nine of Diamonds.

From his well-known loyalty, evinced by secret services to the Royal cause during the Protectorate, he was excepted by name out of the acts against the Papists, became superintendent of the Queen Dowager’s chapel at Somerset House, and enjoyed a small pension until his death, which took place in the third year of Queen Anne (1704), at the mature age of ninety-six. He was an ecclesiastic of great learning and piety, but, from the stiff and antiquated phraseology which he adopted, I have thought it necessary to modernise it a little: this will account for certain anachronisms that have unavoidably crept in; the substance of his narratives has, however, throughout been strictly adhered to.

His hair-shirt, almost as good as new, is still preserved at Tappington,—but nobody ever wears it.

132

The Jackdaw of Rheims.

“Tunc miser Corvus adeo conscientiæ stimulis compunctus fuit, et execratio eum tantopere excarneficavit, ut exinde tabescere inciperet, maciem contraheret, omnem cibum aversaretur, nee ampliùs crocitaret: pennæ præterea ei defluebant, et alis pendulis omnes facetias intermisit, et tam macer apparuit ut omnes ejus miserescent.”   *   *   *   *   *   *

“Tunc abbas sacerdotibus mandavit ut rursus furem absolverent; quo facto, Corvus, omnibus mirantibus, propediem convaluit, et pristinam sanitatem recuperavit.” De Illust. Ord. Cisterc.

THE Jackdaw sat on the Cardinal’s chair!

Bishop and abbot, and prior were there;

Many a monk, and many a friar,

Many a knight, and many a squire,

With a great many more of lesser degree—

In sooth a goodly company;

And they served the Lord Primate on bended knee.

Never, I ween,

Was a prouder seen,

Read of in books, or dreamt of in dreams,

Than the Cardinal Lord Archbishop of Rheims!

In and out

Through the motley rout,

That little Jackdaw kept hopping about;

Here and there

Like a dog in a fair,

Over comfits and cakes,

And dishes and plates,

Cowl and cope, and rochet and pall,

Mitre and crosier! he hopp’d upon all!

With saucy air,

He perch’d on the chair

Where, in state, the great Lord Cardinal sat

In the great Lord Cardinal’s great red hat;

And he peer’d in the face

Of his Lordship’s Grace,

With a satisfied look, as if he would say,

“We two are the greatest folks here to-day!”

And the priests, with awe,

As such freaks they saw,

Said, “The Devil must be in that little Jackdaw!”

group of monks looking at a jackdaw

Heedless of grammar they all cried, “That’s him”

The feast was over, the board was clear’d,

The flawns and the custards had all disappear’d,

133

And six little Singing-boys,—dear little souls!

In nice clean faces, and nice white stoles,

Came, in order due,

Two by two,

Marching that grand refectory through!

A nice little boy held a golden ewer,

Emboss’d and fill’d with water, as pure

As any that flows between Rheims and Namur,

Which a nice little boy stood ready to catch

In a fine golden hand-basin made to match.

Two nice little boys, rather more grown,

Carried lavender-water and eau de Cologne;

And a nice little boy had a nice cake of soap,

Worthy of washing the hands of the Pope.

One little boy more

A napkin bore,

Of the best white diaper, fringed with pink,

And a Cardinal’s Hat mark’d in “permanent ink.”

The great Lord Cardinal turns at the sight

Of these nice little boys dress’d all in white:

From his finger he draws

His costly turquoise;

And, not thinking at all about little Jackdaws,

Deposits it straight

By the side of his plate,

While the nice little boys on his Eminence wait;

Till, when nobody’s dreaming of any such thing,

That little Jackdaw hops off with the ring!

jackdaw stealing away with a ring

There’s a cry and a shout,

And a deuce of a rout,

And nobody seems to know what they’re about,

But the monks have their pockets all turn’d inside out;

The friars are kneeling,

And hunting, and feeling

The carpet, the floor, and the walls, and the ceiling.

The Cardinal drew

Off each plum-colour’d shoe,

And left his red stockings exposed to the view;

He peeps, and he feels

In the toes and the heels;

They turn up the dishes,—they turn up the plates,—

They take up the poker and poke out the grates,

134

—They turn up the rugs,

They examine the mugs:—

But no!—no such thing;—

They can’t find THE RING!

And the Abbot declared that, “when nobody twigg’d it,

Some rascal or other had popp’d in, and prigg’d it!”

group of monks searching everywhere

The Cardinal rose with a dignified look,

He call’d for his candle, his bell, and his book!

In holy anger, and pious grief,

He solemnly cursed that rascally thief!

He cursed him at board, he cursed him in bed;

From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head;

He cursed him in sleeping, that every night

He should dream of the devil, and wake in a fright;

He cursed him in eating, he cursed him in drinking,

He cursed him in coughing, in sneezing, in winking;

He cursed him in sitting, in standing, in lying;

He cursed him in walking, in riding, in flying,

He cursed him in living, he cursed him dying!—

Never was heard such a terrible curse!

But what gave rise

To no little surprise,

Nobody seem’d one penny the worse!

The day was gone,

The night came on,

The Monks and the Friars they search’d till dawn;

When the Sacristan saw,

On crumpled claw,

Come limping a poor little lame Jackdaw;

No longer gay,

As on yesterday;

His feathers all seem’d to be turn’d the wrong way;—

His pinions droop’d—he could hardly stand,—

His head was as bald as the palm of your hand;

His eye so dim,

So wasted each limb,

That, heedless of grammar, they all cried, “That’s him!

That’s the scamp that has done this scandalous thing!

That’s the thief that has got my Lord Cardinal’s Ring!”

The poor little Jackdaw,

When the monks he saw,

Feebly gave vent to the ghost of a caw;

And turn’d his bald head, as much as to say,

“Pray, be so good as to walk this way!”

135

Slower and Slower

He limp’d on before,

Till they came to the back of the belfry door,

Where the first thing they saw,

Midst the sticks and the straw

Was the RING in the nest of that little Jackdaw!

monks and choirboys looking at jackdaw on the pavement

THE JACKDAW OF RHEIMS.

p. 134.

Then the great Lord Cardinal call’d for his book,

And off that terrible curse he took;

The mute expression

Served in lieu of confession,

And, being thus coupled with full restitution,

The Jackdaw got plenary absolution!

—When those words were heard,

That poor little bird

Was so changed in a moment, ’twas really absurd,

He grew sleek, and fat;

In addition to that,

A fresh crop of feathers came thick as a mat!

His tail waggled more

Even than before;

But no longer it wagged with an impudent air,

No longer he perch’d on the Cardinal’s chair.

He hopp’d now about

With a gait devout;

At Matins, at Vespers, he never was out;

And, so far from any more pilfering deeds,

He always seem’d telling the Confessor’s beads.

If any one lied,—or if any one swore,—

Or slumber’d in prayer-time and happen’d to snore,

That good Jackdaw

Would give a great “Caw!”

As much as to say, “Don’t do so any more!”

While many remark’d, as his manners they saw,

That they “never had known such a pious Jackdaw!”

He long lived the pride

Of that country side,

And at last in the odour of sanctity died;

When, as words were too faint,

His merits to paint,

The Conclave determined to make him a Saint;

And on newly-made Saints and Popes, as you know,

It’s the custom, at Rome, new names to bestow,

So they canonized him by the name of Jim Crow!

angry monk smashing a jar

If any one lied,—or if any one swore

Notes and Corrections: The Jackdaw of Rheims

“The Jackdaw of Rheims” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. I no. 5 (May 1837) as “Family Stories No. IV.—The Squire’s Story: The Jackdaw of Rheims: A Golden Legend”. (The subtitle doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the later “Golden Legend“ selections, numbered I, II, III . . . 6, and VII.)

So they canonized him by the name of Jim Crow!
[. . . Thud.]

136

A Lay of St. Dunstan

“This holy childe Dunstan was borne in ye yere of our Lorde IX. hundred & XXV. that tyme reynynge in this londe Kinge Athelston.   *   *   *   *

“When it so was that Saynt Dunstan was wery of prayer than used he to werke in goldsmythes werke with his owne handes for to eschewe ydelnes.” Golden Legend.

Fytte I.

ST. DUNSTAN stood in his ivied tower,

Alembic, crucible, all were there;

When in came Nick to play him a trick,

In guise of a damsel passing fair.

Every one knows

How the story goes:

He took up the tongs and caught hold of his nose.

But I beg that you won’t for a moment suppose

That I mean to go through, in detail, to you

A story at least as trite as it’s true;

Nor do I intend

An instant to spend

On the tale, how he treated his monarch and friend.

When bolting away to a chamber remote,

Inconceivably bored by his Witen-gemote,

Edwy left them all joking,

And drinking, and smoking,

So tipsily grand, they’d stand nonsense from no King,

But sent the Archbishop

Their Sovereign to fish up,

With a hint that perchance on his crown he might feel taps

Unless he came back straight and took off his heel-taps.

You must not be plagued with the same story twice,

And perhaps have seen this one, by W. Dyce,

137

At the Royal Academy, very well done,

And mark’d in the catalogue, Four, seven, one.

You might there view the Saint, who in sable array’d is,

Coercing the Monarch away from the Ladies;

His right hand has hold of his Majesty’s jerkin,

His left shows the door, and he seems to say, “Sir King,

Your most faithful Commons won’t hear of your shirking;

Quit your tea, and return to your Barclai and Perkyn.

Or, by Jingo,8 ere morning, no longer alive, a

Sad victim you’ll lie to your love for Elgiva!”

No farther to treat

Of this ungallant feat,

What I mean to do now is succinctly to paint

One particular fact in the life of the Saint,

Which, somehow, for want of due care, I presume,

Has escaped the researches of Rapin and Hume,

In recounting a miracle, both of them men, who a

Great deal fall short of Jacques, Bishop of Genoa,

An Historian who likes deeds like these to record—

See his Aurea Legenda, by Wynkyn de Worde.

St. Dunstan stood again in his tower,

Alembic, crucible, all complete;

He had been standing a good half-hour.

And now he utter’d the words of power,

And call’d to his Broomstick to bring him a seat.

The words of power!—and what be they

To which e’en Broomsticks bow and obey?

Why,—’twere uncommonly hard to say.

As the prelate I named has recorded none of them.

What they may be,

But I know they are three,

And ABRACADABRA, I take it, is one of them:

138

For I’m told that most Cabalists use that identical

Word, written thus, in what they call “a Pentacle.”

six-pointed star containing the words “Abracadabra” and astrological symbols

However that be,

You’ll doubtless agree

It signifies little to you or to me,

As not being dabblers in Grammarye;

Still, it must be confess’d, for a Saint to repeat

Such language aloud is scarcely discreet;

For, as Solomon hints to folks given to chatter,

“A bird of the air may carry the matter;”

And in sooth,

From my youth,

I remember a truth

Insisted on much in my earlier years,

To wit, “Little Pitchers have very long ears!”

Now, just such a “Pitcher” as those I allude to

Was outside the door, which his “ears” appeared glued to.

Peter, the Lay-brother, meagre and thin,

Five feet one in his sandal shoon,

While the Saint thought him sleeping.

Was listening and peeping,

And watching his master the whole afternoon.

139

This Peter the Saint had pick’d out from his fellows,

To look to his fire, and to blow with the bellows,

To put on the Wall’s-Ends and Lambtons whenever he

Chose to indulge in a little orfevrerie;

—Of course you have read,

That St. Dunstan was bred

A Goldsmith, and never quite gave up the trade!

The Company—richest in London, ’tis said—

Acknowledge him still as their Patron and Head;

Nor is it so long

Since a capital song

In his praise—now recorded their archives among—

Delighted the noble and dignified throng

Of their guests, who, the newspapers told the whole town,

With cheers “pledged the wine-cup to Dunstan’s renown,”

When Lord Lyndhurst, The Duke, and Sir Robert, were dining

At the Hall some time since with the Prime Warden Twining.—

—I am sadly digressing—a fault which sometimes

One can hardly avoid in these gossiping rhymes—

A slight deviation’s forgiven! but then this is

Too long, I fear, for a decent parenthesis,

So I’ll rein up my Pegasus sharp, and retreat, or

You’ll think I’ve forgotten the Lay-brother Peter,

Whom the Saint, as I said,

Kept to turn down his bed,

Dress his palfreys and cobs,

And do other odd jobs,—

As reducing to writing

Whatever he might, in

The course of the day or the night, be inditing,

And cleaning the plate of his mitre with whiting;

Performing, in short, all those duties and offices

Abbots exact from Lay-brothers and Novices.

It occurs to me here

You’ll perhaps think it queer

That St. Dunstan should have such a personage near,

When he’d only to say,

Those words,—be what they may,—

And his Broomstick at once his commands would obey.—

That’s true—but the fact is

’Twas rarely his practice

140

Such aid to resort to, or such means apply,

Unless he’d some “dignified knot” to untie,

Adopting, though sometimes, as now, he’d reverse it,

Old Horace’s maxim “nec Broomstick intersit.”—

—Peter, the Lay-brother, meagre and thin,

Heard all the Saint was saying within;

Peter, the Lay-brother, sallow and spare,

Peep’d through the key-hole, and—what saw he there?—

Why,—A Broomstick bringing a rush-bottom’d chair!

robed monk peering through keyhole

Peep’d through the key-hole, and—what saw he there?

Fytte II.

What Shakspeare observes, in his play of King John,

Is undoubtedly right,

That “ofttimes the sight

Of means to do ill deeds will make ill deeds done.”

Here’s Peter, the Lay-brother, pale-faced and meagre,

A good sort of man, only rather too eager

To listen to what other people are saying

When he ought to be minding his business or praying,

Gets into a scrape,—and an awkward one, too,—

As you’ll find, if you’ve patience enough to go through

The whole of the story

I’m laying before ye,—

Entirely from having “the means” in his view

Of doing a thing which he ought not to do!

Still rings in his ear,

Distinct and clear,

Abracadabra! that word of fear!

And the two which I never yet happen’d to hear.

Still doth he spy,

With fancy’s eye,

The Broomstick at work, and the Saint standing by;

And he chuckles, and says to himself, with glee,

“Aha! that Broomstick shall work for me!

Hark!—that swell

O’er flood and o’er fell,

Mountain, and dingle, and moss-cover’d dell!

List!—’tis the sound of the Compline bell;

And St. Dunstan is quitting his ivied cell;

Peter, I wot,

Is off like a shot,

Or a little dog scalded by something that’s hot,

141

For he hears his master approaching the spot

Where he’d listen’d so long, though he knew he ought not:

Peter remember’d his Master’s frown—

He trembled—he’d not have been caught for a crown;

Howe’er you may laugh

He’d rather, by half,

Have run up to the top of the tower and jump’d down.

The Compline hour is past and gone,

Evening service is over and done;

The monks repair

To their frugal fare,

A snug little supper of something light

And digestible, ere they retire for the night.

For, in Saxon times, in respect to their cheer,

St. Austin’s rule was by no means severe,

But allow’d, from the Beverley Roll ’twould appear,

Bread and cheese, and spring onions, and sound table beer,

And even green peas, when they were not too dear;

Not like the Rule of La Trappe, whose chief merit is

Said to consist in its greater austerities;

And whose monks, if I rightly remember their laws,

Ne’er are suffered to speak,

Think only in Greek,

And subsist, as the Bears do, by sucking their paws.

Astonish’d I am

The gay Baron Geramb

With his head sav’ring more of the Lion than Lamb

Could e’er be persuaded to join such a set—I

Extend the remark to Signor Ambrogetti.—

For a monk of La Trappe is as thin as a rat,

While an Austin Friar was jolly and fat;

Though, of course, the fare to which I allude,

With as good table-beer as ever was brew’d

Was all “caviare to the multitude,”

Extending alone to the clergy, together in

Hall assembled, and not to Lay-brethren.

St. Dunstan himself sits there at his post,

On what they say is

Called a Dais,

O’erlooking the whole of his clerical host,

And eating poach’d eggs with spinach and toast;

142

Five Lay-brothers stand behind his chair,

But where is the sixth?—Where’s Peter?—Ay, WHERE?

’Tis an evening in June,

And a little half moon,

A brighter no fond lover ever set eyes on

Gleaming and beaming,

And dancing the stream in,

Has made her appearance above the horizon;

Just such a half moon as you see, in a play,

On the turban of Mustapha Muley Bey,

Or the fair Turk who weds with the “Noble Lord Bateman;”

Vide plate in George Cruikshank’s memoirs of that great man.

She shines on a turret remote and lone,

A turret with ivy and moss overgrown,

And lichens that thrive on the cold dank stone;

Such a tower as a poet of no mean calibre

I once knew and loved, poor, dear Reginald Heber,

Assigns to oblivion9—a den for a She bear;

Within it are found,

Strew’d above and around.

On the hearth, on the table, the shelves, and the ground,

All sorts of instruments, all sorts of tools,

To name which, and their uses, would puzzle the Schools,

And make very wise people look very like fools;

Pincers and hooks,

And black-letter books,

All sorts of pokers and all sorts of tongs,

And all sorts of hammers, and all that belongs

To Goldsmiths’ work, chemistry, alchymy,—all,

In short, that a Sage,

In that erudite age,

Could require, was at hand, or at least within call.

In the midst of the room lies a Broomstick!—and there

A lay-brother sits in a rush-bottom’d chair!

Fytte III.

Abracadabra, that fearful word,

And the two which, I said, I have never yet heard,

Are utter’d.—’Tis done!

Peter, full of his fun,

Cries “Broomstick! you lubberly son of a gun!

143

Bring ale!—bring a flagon—a hogshead—a tun!

’Tis the same thing to you;

I have nothing to do;

And, ’fore George, I’ll sit here, and I’ll drink till all’s blue!”

No doubt you’ve remark’d how uncommonly quick

A Newfoundland puppy runs after a stick,

Brings it back to his master, and gives it him—Well,

So potent the spell,

The Broomstick perceived it was vain to rebel,

So ran off like that puppy;—some cellar was near,

For in less than ten seconds ’twas back with the beer!

Peter seizes the flagon; but ere he can suck

Its contents, or enjoy what he thinks his good luck,

The Broomstick comes in with a tub in a truck;

Continues to run

At the rate it begun,

And, au pied de lettre, next brings in a tun;

A fresh one succeeds, then a third, then another,

Discomfiting much the astounded Lay-brother;

Who, had he possess’d fifty pitchers or stoops,

They had all been too few; for, arranging in groups

The barrels, the Broomstick next started the hoops:

The ale deluged the floor,

But, still, through the door,

Said Broomstick kept bolting, and bringing in more.

E’en Macbeth to Macduff

Would have cried “Hold! enough!”

If half as well drench’d with such “perilous stuff,”

And, Peter, who did not expect such a rough visit,

Cried lustily, “Stop!—That will do, Broomstick!—Sufficit!

But ah, well-a-day!

The Devil, they say,

’Tis easier at all times to raise than to lay.

Again and again

Peter roar’d out in vain

His Abracadabra, and t’other words twain:—

As well might one try

A pack in full cry

To check, and call off from their headlong career,

By bawling out, “Yoicks!” with one’s hand at one’s ear.

The longer he roar’d and the louder and quicker,

The faster the Broomstick was bringing in liquor.

144

The poor Lay-brother knew

Not on earth what to do—

He caught hold of the Broomstick and snapt it in two.—

Worse and worse!—like a dart,

Each part made a start,

And he found he’d been adding more fuel to fire,

For both now came loaded with Meux’s entire;

Combe’s, Delafield’s, Hanbury’s, Truman’s—no stopping—

Goding’s, Charrington’s, Whitbread’s continued to drop in,

With Hodson’s pale ale, from the Sun Brewhouse, Wapping.

The firms differ’d then, but I can’t put a tax on

My memory to say what their names were in Saxon.

To be sure the best beer

Of all did not appear;

For I’ve said ’twas in June, and so late in the year

The “Trinity Audit Ale” is not come-at-able,

—As I’ve found to my great grief when dining at that table.

Now extremely alarm’d, Peter scream’d without ceasing,

For a flood of brown stout he was up to his knees in,

Which, thanks to the Broomstick, continued increasing;

He fear’d he’d be drown’d,

And he yell’d till the sound

Of his voice, wing’d by terror, at last reach’d the ear

Of St. Dunstan himself, who had finished his beer,

And had put off his mitre, dalmatic, and shoes,

And was just stepping into his bed for a snooze.

monk holding up his robes, wading through flood of beer

A flood of brown-stout he was up to his knees in

His Holiness paused when he heard such a clatter;

He could not conceive what on earth was the matter.

Slipping on a few things, for the sake of decorum,

He issued forthwith from his Sanctum sanctorum,

And calling a few of the Lay-brothers near him,

Who were not yet in bed, and who happen’d to hear him,

At once led the way,

Without further delay,

To the tower, where he’d been in the course of the day.

Poor Peter!—alas! though St. Dunstan was quick,

There were two there before him—Grim Death, and old Nick!—

145

When they open’d the door, out the malt-liquor flow’d,

Just as when the great Vat burst in Tott’n’am Court Road;

The Lay-brothers nearest were up to their necks

In an instant, and swimming in strong double X;

While Peter, who, spite of himself now had drank hard,

After floating awhile, like a toast in a tankard,

To the bottom had sunk,

And was spied by a monk,

Stone-dead, like poor Clarence, half drown’d and half drunk.

In vain did St. Dunstan exclaim, “Vade retro

Strongbeerum!—discede a Lay-fratre Petro!”—

Queer Latin, you’ll say,

That præfix of “Lay,”

And Strongbeerum!—I own they’d have called me a blockhead if

At school I had ventured to use such a Vocative;

’Tis a barbarous word, and to me it’s a query

If you’ll find it in Patrick, Morell, or Moreri;

But, the fact is, the Saint was uncommonly flurried,

And apt to be loose in his Latin when hurried;

The brown-stout, however, obeys to the letter,

Quite as well as if talk’d to, in Latin much better,

By a grave Cambridge Johnian,

Or graver Oxonian,

Whose language, we all know, is quite Ciceronian.

It retires from the corpse, which is left high and dry;

But, in vain do they snuff and hot towels apply,

And other means used by the faculty try,

When once a man’s dead

There’s no more to be said;

Peter’s “Beer with an e” was his “Bier with an i!

MORAL.

By way of a moral permit me to pop in

The following maxims:—Beware of eaves-dropping!—

Don’t make use of language that isn’t well scann’d!—

Don’t meddle with matters you don’t understand!—

Above all, what I’d wish to impress on both sexes

Is,—Keep clear of Broomsticks, Old Nick, and three XXX’s.

146

L’Envoye.

In Goldsmiths’ Hall there’s a handsome glass-case

And in it a stone figure, found on the place,

When, thinking the old Hall no longer a pleasant one,

They pull’d it all down, and erected the present one.

If you look, you’ll perceive that this stone figure twists

A thing like a broomstick in one of its fists

It’s so injured by time, you can’t make out a feature;

But it is not St. Dunstan,—so doubtless it’s Peter.

8 St. Jingo, or Gengo (Gengulphus), sometimes styled “The Living Jingo,” from the great tenaciousness of vitality exhibited by his severed members. See his Legend, as recorded hereafter in the present volume.

9

And cold oblivion, midst the ruin laid,

Folds her dank wing beneath the ivy shade.

Palestine.

Notes and Corrections: A Lay of St. Dunstan

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“A Lay of St. Dunstan” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. VI no. 1 (July 1839) as “The Golden Legend No. III: A Lay of St. Dunstan”. The Fytte headings have been added from Bentley’s; the book left them out, whether accidentally or by design.

Edwy left them all joking, / And drinking, and smoking
[We will not ask what they were smoking in 10th-century England.]

by W. Dyce . . . mark’d in the catalogue, Four, seven, one
[Yup, here it is in Graves (p. 400 of Volume II). William Dyce, R.A., no. 471 in the 1839 exhibit, with one of those absurdly long descriptions:

St. Dunstan separating Edwy and Elgiva. “As soon as the ceremony of the coronation (A.D. 955) was ended, Edwy proceeded with the thanes and prelates to the banquet; but after a hasty repast, either disliking the hard drinking of the nobles, or preferring the company of his young wife Elgiva, whom he had lately married, he rose from his seat and repaired to the apartment occupied by Elgiva and her mother. The members of the Witen, considering his departure as an insult, deputed the Abbot of Glastonbury and one of the Bishops to recall the King. Dunstan at first reasoned with Edwy on the impropriety of his conduct, and finding remonstrance of no avail, he seized him by the shoulders, replaced the crown on his head, and forcibly dragged him back to the banqueting hall.” ]

But I know they are three,
text has . for ,

A Broomstick bringing a rush-bottom’d chair!
! missing

“caviare to the multitude”
[Brillat-Savarin, or his translator, similarly uses the phrase “caviare to the vulgar”. It’s really “caviar to the general” (as in “general public”), Hamlet II.ii.]

And, ’fore George, I’ll sit here, and I’ll drink till all’s blue!”
close quote missing

Bring ale!—bring a flagon—a hogshead—a tun!
[Does this begin to sound familiar? You might reasonably think that Walt Disney is responsible for changing beer into water for family-viewing purposes. But in fact it’s the other way around: our author has upgraded water to beer. The source is Goethe’s 1797 seven-stanza ballad Der Zauberlehrling (the Sorcerer’s Apprentice). In particular:

Wehe! wehe!

Beide Teile

stehn in Eile

schon als Knechte

völlig fertig in die Höhe!

Helft mir, ach! ihr hohen Mächte! ]

They had all been too few
text has They all had

“Stop!—That will do, Broomstick!—Sufficit!
close quote missing

[Footnote] See his Legend, as recorded hereafter in the present volume.
[In Bentley’s, the footnote concludes “For his Legend, see Bentley’s Miscellany for March last.”]

Gengulphus, or, as he is usually styled in this country, “Jingo,” was perhaps more in the mouths of the “general” than any other Saint, on occasions of adjuration (see note, page 137). Mr. Simpkinson from Bath had kindly transmitted me a portion of a primitive ballad, which has escaped the researches of Ritson and Ellis, but is yet replete with beauties of no common order. I am happy to say that, since these Legends first appeared, I have recovered the whole of it.—Vide infra.

‘A Franklyn’s dogge leped over a style,

And hys name was littel Byngo.

B with a Y—Y with an N,

N with a G—G with an O,

They call’d hym littel Byngo!

Thys Franklyn, Syrs, he brewed goode ayle,

And he called it Rare goode Styngo!

S, T, Y, N, G, O!

He call’d it Rare goode Styngo!

Now is notte thys a prettie song?

I thinke it is, bye Iyngo!

I wythe a Y—N, G, O—

I sweare yt is, bye Iyngo!’

147

A Lay of St. Gengulphus.

“Non multo post, Gengulphus, in domo suâ dormiens, occisus est à quodam clerico qui cum uxore suâ adulterare solebat. Cujus corpus dum, in feretro, in sepulturam portaretur, multi infirmi de tactu sanati sunt.”

“Cum hoc illius uxori referretur ab ancillâ sua, scilicet dominum suum, quam martyrem sanctum, miracula facere, irridens illa, et subsurrans, ait, ‘Ita Gengulphus miracula facitat ut pulvinarium meum cantat,’” etc. etc.

Wolfii Memorab.

GENGULPHUS comes from the Holy Land,

With his scrip, and his bottle, and sandal shoon;

Full many a day hath he been away,

Yet his lady deems him return’d full soon.

Full many a day hath he been away,

Yet scarce had he crossed ayont the sea,

Ere a spruce young spark of a Learned Clerk

Had called on his Lady, and stopp’d to tea.

This spruce young guest, so trimly drest,

Stay’d with that Lady, her revels to crown;

They laugh’d, and they ate and they drank of the best,

And they turn’d the old castle quite upside down.

They would walk in the park, that spruce young Clerk,

With that frolicsome Lady so frank and free,

Trying balls and plays, and all manner of ways,

To get rid of what French people called Ennui.

Now the festive board with viands is stored,

Savoury dishes be there, I ween,

Rich puddings and big, a barbecued pig,

And ox-tail soup in a China tureen.

There’s a flagon of ale as large as a pail—

When, cockle on hat, and staff in hand,

While on nought they are thinking save eating and drinking,

Gengulphus walks in from the Holy Land!

148

“You must be pretty deep to catch weazels asleep,”

Says the proverb: that is “take the Fair unawares;”

A maid o’er the banisters chancing to peep,

Whispers, “Ma’am, here’s Gengulphus a-coming up-stairs.”

Pig, pudding, and soup, the electrified group,

With the flagon, pop under the sofa in haste

And contrive to deposit the Clerk in the closet

As the dish least of all to Gengulphus’s taste.

Then oh! what rapture, what joy was exprest,

When “poor dear Gengulphus” at last appear’d!

She kiss’d and she press’d “the dear man” to her breast,

In spite of his great, long, frizzly beard.

Such hugging and squeezing! ’twas almost unpleasing,

A smile on her lip, and a tear in her eye;10

She was so very glad, that she seem’d half mad

And did not know whether to laugh or to cry.

Then she calls up the maid and the table-cloth’s laid,

And she sends for a pint of the best Brown Stout;

On the fire, too, she pops some nice mutton-chops,

And she mixes a stiff glass of “Cold Without.”

Then again she began at the “poor dear” man;

She press’d him to drink, and she press’d him to eat,

And she brought a foot-pan, with hot water and bran,

To comfort his “poor dear” travel-worn feet.

“Nor night nor day since he’d been away,

Had she had any rest” she “vow’d and declar’d,”

She “never could eat one morsel of meat,

For thinking how ‘poor dear’ Gengulphus fared.”

She “really did think she had not slept a wink

Since he left her, although he’d been absent so long,”

He here shook his head,—right little he said,

But he thought she was “coming it rather too strong.”

149

Now his palate she tickles with the chops and the pickles,

Till, so great the effect of that stuff gin grog,

His weaken’d body, subdued by the toddy,

Falls out of the chair, and he lies like a log.

Then out comes the Clerk from his secret lair;

He lifts up the legs, and she lifts up the head,

And, between them, this most reprehensible pair

Undress poor Gengulphus and put him to bed.

Then the bolster they place athwart his face,

And his night-cap into his mouth they cram;

And she pinches his nose underneath the clothes,

Till the “poor dear soul” goes off like a lamb.

And now they tried the deed to hide;

For a little bird whisper’d, “Perchance you may swing;

Here’s a corpse in the case with a sad swell’d face,

And a Medical Crowner’s a queer sort of thing!”

So the Clerk and wife, they each took a knife,

And the nippers that nipp’d the loaf-sugar for tea;

With the edges and points they severed the joints

At the clavicle, elbow, hip, ankle, and knee.

Thus, limb from limb they dismember’d him

So entirely, that e’en when they came to his wrists,

With those great sugar-nippers they nipped off his “flippers,”

As the Clerk, very flippantly, termed his fists.

When they’d cut off his head, entertaining a dread

Lest folks should remember Gengulphus’s face,

They determined to throw it where no one could know it,

Down the well,—and the limbs in some different place.

But first the long beard from the chin they shear’d,

And managed to stuff that sanctified hair,

With a good deal of pushing, all into the cushion

That filled up the seat of a large arm-chair.

cleric and woman dismembering a man in canopy bed

150

They contriv’d to pack up the trunk in a sack,

Which they hid in an osier-bed outside the town,

The Clerk bearing arms, legs and all on his back,

As that vile Mr. Greenacre served Mrs. Brown.

But to see now how strangely things sometimes turn out,

And that in a manner the least expected!

Who could surmise a man ever could rise

Who’d been thus carbonado’d, cut up, and dissected?

No doubt ’twould surprise the pupils at Guy’s;

I am no unbeliever—no man can say that o’ me—

But St. Thomas himself would scarce trust his own eyes

If he saw such a thing in his School of Anatomy.

You may deal as you please with Hindoos and Chinese,

Or a Mussulman making his heathen salaam, or

A Jew or a Turk, but it’s other guess work

When a man has to do with a Pilgrim or Palmer.

By chance the Prince Bishop, a Royal Divine,

Sends his cards round the neighbourhood next day, and urges his

Wish to receive a snug party to dine

Of the resident clergy, the gentry, and burgesses.

At a quarter past five they are all alive,

At the palace, for coaches are fast rolling in;

And to every guest his card had express’d

“Half-past” as the hour for a “greasy chin.”

Some thirty are seated, and handsomely treated

With the choicest Rhine wines in his Highness’s stock

When a Count of the Empire, who felt himself heated,

Requested some water to mix with his Hock.

The Butler, who saw it, sent a maid out to draw it,

But scarce had she given the windlass a twirl,

Ere Gengulphus’s head, from the well’s bottom, said

In mild accents, “Do help us out, that’s a good girl!”

maid drawing up a bucket from a well, containing a head

A LAY OF ST. GENGULPHUS.

p. 150.

151

Only fancy her dread when she saw a great head

In her bucket;—with fright she was ready to drop:—

Conceive, if you can, how she roared and she ran,

With the head rolling after her, bawling out “Stop!”

She ran and she roar’d, till she came to the board

Where the Prince Bishop sat with his party around,

When Gengulphus’s poll, which continued to roll

At her heels, on the table bounced up with a bound.

Never touching the cates, or the dishes or plates,

The decanters or glasses, the sweetmeats or fruits,

The head smiles, and begs them to bring him his legs,

As a well-spoken gentleman asks for his boots.

Kicking open the casement, to each one’s amazement,

Straight a right leg steps in, all impediment scorns,

And near the head stopping, a left follows hopping

Behind,—for the left leg was troubled with corns.

Next, before the beholders, two great brawny shoulders,

And arms on their bent elbows dance through the throng,

While two hands assist, though nipp’d off at the wrist,

The said shoulders in bearing a body along.

They march up to the head, not one syllable said,

For the thirty guests all stare in wonder and doubt,

As the limbs in their sight arrange and unite,

Till Gengulphus, though dead, looks as sound as a trout.

I will venture to say, from that hour to this day,

Ne’er did such an assembly behold such a scene;

Or a table divide fifteen guests of a side

With a dead body placed in the centre between.

Yes, they stared—well they might at so novel a sight:

No one utter’d a whisper, a sneeze, or a hem,

But sat all bolt upright, and pale with affright;

And they gazed at the dead man, the dead man at them.

152

The Prince Bishop’s Jester, on punning intent,

As he view’d the whole thirty, in jocular terms

Said, “They put him in mind of a Council of Trente

Engaged in reviewing the Diet of Worms.”

But what should they do?—Oh! nobody knew

What was best to be done, either stranger or resident;

The Chancellor’s self read his Puffendorf through

In vain, for his books could not furnish a precedent.

The Prince Bishop mutter’d a curse, and a prayer,

Which his double capacity hit to a nicety;

His Princely, or Lay, half induced him to swear,

His Episcopal moiety said “Benedicite!

The Coroner sat on the body that night,

And the jury agreed,—not a doubt could they harbour,—

“That the chin of the corpse—the sole thing brought to light—

Had been recently shaved by a very bad barber.”

They sent out Von Taünsend, Von Bürnie, Von Roe,

Von Maine, and Von Rowantz—through châlets and châteaux,

Towns, villages, hamlets, they told them to go.

And they stuck up placards on the walls of the Stadthaus.

“MURDER!!

Whereas, a dead gentleman, surname unknown,

Has been recently found at his Highness’s banquet,

Rather shabbily drest in an Amice, or gown,

In appearance resembling a second-hand blanket;

“And Whereas, there’s great reason indeed to suspect

That some ill-disposed person, or persons, with malice

Aforethought, have kill’d, and begun to dissect

The said Gentleman, not very far from the palace;

This is to give Notice!—Whoever shall seize,

And such person, or persons, to justice surrender,

Shall receive—such Reward—as his Highness shall please,

On conviction of him, the aforesaid offender.

153

“And, in order the matter more clearly to trace

To the bottom, his Highness, the Prince Bishop, further,

Of his clemency, offers free Pardon and Grace

To all such as have not been concern’d in the murther.

“Done this day, at our palace,—July twenty-five,—

By command,

(Signed)

Johann Von Rüssell,

N.B.

Deceased rather in years—had a squint when alive;

And smells slightly of gin—linen mark’d with a G.”

The Newspapers, too, made no little ado,

Though a different version each managed to dish up;

Some said “The Prince Bishop had run a man through,”

Others said “An assassin had kill’d the Prince Bishop.”

The “Ghent Herald” fell foul of the “Bruxelles Gazette,”

The “Bruxelles Gazette,” with much sneering ironical,

Scorn’d to remain in the “Ghent Herald’s” debt.

And the “Amsterdam Times” quizz’d the “Nuremberg Chronicle.”

In one thing, indeed, all the journals agreed,

Spite of “politics,” “bias,” or “party collision;”

Viz.: to “give,” when they’d “further accounts” of the deed,

“Full particulars” soon, in “a later Edition.”

But now, while on all sides they rode and they ran,

Trying all sorts of means to discover the caitiffs,

Losing patience, the holy Gengulphus began

To think it high time to “astonish the natives.”

First, a Rittmeister’s Frau, who was weak in both eyes,

And supposed the most short-sighted woman in Holland,

Found greater relief, to her joy and surprise,

From one glimpse of his “squint” than from glasses by Dollond.

By the slightest approach to the tip of his Nose,

Megrims, headache, and vapours were put to the rout;

And one single touch of his precious Great Toes

Was a certain specific for chilblains and gout.

154

Rheumatics,—sciatica,—tic-doloureux!

Apply to his shin-bones—not one of them lingers;—

All bilious complaints in an instant withdrew

If the patient was tickled with one of his fingers.

Much virtue was found to reside in his thumbs;

When applied to the chest they cured scantness of breathing,

Sea-sickness, and colic; or, rubb’d on the gums,

Were “A blessing to Mothers,” for infants in teething.

Whoever saluted the nape of his neck,

Where the mark remained visible still of the knife,

Notwithstanding east winds perspiration might check,

Was safe from sore-throat for the rest of his life.

Thus, while each acute and each chronic complaint

Giving way, proved an influence clearly divine,

They perceiv’d the dead gentleman must be a Saint,

So they lock’d him up, body and bones, in a shrine.

Through country and town his new Saintship’s renown,

As a first-rate physician kept daily increasing,

Till, as Alderman Curtis told Alderman Brown,

It seemed as if “Wonders had never done ceasing.”

The Three Kings of Cologne began, it was known,

A sad falling off in their off’rings to find,

His feats were so many—still the greatest of any,—

In every sense of the word, was—behind;

For the German Police were beginning to cease

From exertions which each day more fruitless appear’d,

When Gengulphus himself, his fame still to increase,

Unravell’d the whole by the help of—his beard!

If you look back you’ll see the aforesaid barbe gris,

When divorced from the chin of its murder’d proprietor,

Had been stuff’d in the seat of a kind of settee,

Or double-arm’d chair, to keep the thing quieter.

155

It may seem rather strange, that it did not arrange

Itself in its place when the limbs join’d together;

P’rhaps it could not get out, for the cushion was stout,

And constructed of good, strong, maroon-colour’d leather.

Or, what is more likely, Gengulphus might choose,

For Saints, e’en when dead, still retain their volition,

It should rest there, to aid some particular views,

Produced by his very peculiar position.

Be that as it may, on the very first day

That the widow Gengulphus sat down on that settee,

What occurr’d almost frighten’d her senses away,

Beside scaring her handmaidens, Gertrude and Betty.

They were telling their mistress the wonderful deeds

Of the new Saint, to whom all the Town said their orisons:

And especially how, as regards invalids,

His miraculous cures far outrivall’d Von Morison’s.

“The cripples,” said they, “fling their crutches away.

And people born blind now can easily see us!”—

But she (we presume, a disciple of Hume),

Shook her head, and said angrily, “Credat Judæus!

“Those rascally liars, the Monks and the Friars,

To bring grist to their mill, these devices have hit on.—

He works miracles!—pooh!—I’d believe it of you

Just as soon, you great Geese,—or the Chair that I sit on!”

The Chair,—at that word,—it seems really absurd,

But the truth must be told,—what contortions and grins

Distorted her face!—she sprang up from her place

Just as though she’d been sitting on needles and pins!

For, as if the Saint’s beard the rash challenge had heard

Which she utter’d, of what was beneath her forgetful,

Each particular hair stood on end in the chair,

Like a porcupine’s quills when the animal’s fretful.

156

That stout maroon leather, they pierced altogether,

Like tenter-hooks holding when clench’d from within,

And the maids cried “Good gracious! how very tenacious!”

—They as well might endeavour to pull off her skin!—

She shriek’d with the pain, but all efforts were vain;

In vain did they strain every sinew and muscle,—

The cushion stuck fast!—From that hour to her last

She could never get rid of that comfortless “Bustle!”

And e’en as Macbeth, when devising the death

Of his King, heard “the very stones prate of his whereabouts:”

So this shocking bad wife heard a voice all her life

Crying “Murder!” resound from the cushion—or thereabouts.

With regard to the Clerk, we are left in the dark

As to what his fate was; but I cannot imagine he

Got off scot-free, though unnotic’d it be

Both by Ribadaneira and Jacques de Voragine;

For cut-throats, we’re sure, can be never secure,

And “History’s Muse” still to prove it her pen holds,

As you’ll see, if you look in a rather scarce book,

God’s Revenge against Murder,” by one Mr. Reynolds.

young women retreating in alarm from angry woman

And the maids cried “Good gracious, how very tenacious!”

MORAL.

Now, you grave married Pilgrims, who wander away,

Like Ulysses of old11 (vide Homer and Naso),

Don’t lengthen your stay to three years and a day,

And when you are coming home, just write and say so!

And you, learned Clerks, who’re not given to roam,

Stick close to your books, nor lose sight of decorum;

Don’t visit a house when the master’s from home!

Shun drinking,—and study the “Vitæ Sanctorum!

Above all, you gay ladies, who fancy neglect

In your spouses, allow not your patience to fail;

But remember Gengulphus’s wife!—and reflect

On the moral enforced by her terrible tale!

10 Ενι δακρυσι γελασασα.—Hom.

11 Qui mores hominum multorum vidit et urbes.

Notes and Corrections: A Lay of St. Gengulphus

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“A Lay of St. Gengulphus” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. V no. 3 (March 1839) as “The Golden Legend No. II: A Lay of St. Gengulphus”.

(see note, page 137)
[In the previous selection, “A Lay of St. Dunstan”. Even if this introductory section had been present in Bentley’s—it isn’t—the cross-reference would have been absent, because “Gengulphus” was published several months before “Dunstan”.]

They call’d hym littel Byngo!
[Before it was a children’s game it was a drinking song, “The Farmer’s Dog Leapt over the Stile,” first published around 1780 but probably older.]

Cujus corpus dum, in feretro, in sepulturam portaretur
text has fereto

Whispers, “Ma’am, here’s Gengulphus a-coming up-stairs.”
close quote missing

For a little bird whisper’d, “Perchance you may swing;
open quote missing

And a Medical Crowner’s a queer sort of thing!”
[Bentley’s had “And a Crowner’s Quest is”. For variety’s sake, the book’s wording is definitely a metrical improvement.]

At her heels, on the table bounced up with a bound.
. missing

They sent out Von Taünsend
spelling unchanged
[I don’t approve, but Bentley’s has the same spelling.]

Some said “The Prince Bishop had run a man through,”
close quote missing

Others said “An assassin had kill’d the Prince Bishop.”
close quote missing

[Footnote] Ενι δακρυσι γελασασα.
[It translates loosely as “laughing through her tears”. Both book and periodical omit the accents, so I am content to ignore them as well.]

157

Mr. Barney Maguire has laid claim to the next Saint as a countrywoman; and “Why wouldn’t he?” when all the world knows the O’Dells were a fine ould, ancient family, sated in Tipperary

“Ere the Lord Mayor stole his collar of gowld,

And sowld it away to a trader”?12

He is manifestly wrong! but, as he very rationally observes, “No matter for that,—she’s a Saint any way!”

12 The “Inglorious Memory” of this ould ancient transaction is still, we understand, kept up in Dublin by an annual proclamation at one of the city gates. The jewel, which has replaced the abstracted ornament, is said to have been presented by King William, and worn by Daniel O’Connell, Esq.

The Lay of St. Odille.

ODILLE was a maid of a dignified race:

Her father, Count Otto, was lord of Alsace;

Such an air, such a grace,

Such a form, such a face,

All agreed, ’twere a fruitless endeavour to trace

In the Court, or within fifty miles of the place.

Many ladies in Strasburg were beautiful, still

They were beat all to sticks by the lovely Odille.

But Odille was devout, and, before she was nine,

Had “experienced a call” she consider’d divine,

To put on the veil at St. Ermengarde’s shrine.—

Lords, Dukes, and Electors, and Counts Palatine

Came to seek her in marriage from both sides the Rhine;

But vain their design,

They are all left to pine,

Their oglings and smiles are all useless; in fine

Not one of these gentlefolks, try as they will,

Can draw, “Ask my papa” from the cruel Odille.

At length one of her suitors, a certain Count Herman,

A highly respectable man as a German,

Who smoked like a chimney, and drank like a Merman,

Paid his court to her father, conceiving his firman

Would soon make her bend,

And induce her to lend

An ear to a love-tale in lieu of a sermon.

158

He gain’d the old Count, who said, “Come, Mynheer, fill!—

Here’s luck to yourself and my daughter Odille!”

The Lady Odille was quite nervous with fear

When a little bird whisper’d that toast in her ear;

She murmur’d “Oh, dear!

My Papa has got queer,

I am sadly afraid, with that nasty strong beer!

He’s so very austere, and severe, that it’s clear

If he gets in his ‘tantrums,’ I can’t remain here;

But St. Ermengarde’s convent is luckily near;

It were folly to stay

Pour prendre congé,

I shall put on my bonnet, and e’en run away!”

—She unlock’d the back door and descended the hill,

On whose crest stood the towers of the sire of Odille.

—When he found she’d levanted, the Count of Alsace

At first turn’d remarkably red in the face;

He anathematised, with much unction and grace,

Every soul who came near, and consign’d the whole race

Of runaway girls to a very warm place;

With a frightful grimace

He gave orders for chase;

His vassals set off at a deuce of a pace,

And of all whom they met, high or low, Jack or Jill,

Ask’d, “Pray have you seen anything of Lady Odille?”—

Now I think I’ve been told,—for I’m no sporting man,—

That the “knowing-ones” call this by far the best plan,

“Take the lead and then keep it!”—that is, if you can.—

Odille thought so too, so she set off and ran,

Put her best leg before,

Starting at score,

As I said some lines since, from that little back door.

And not being miss’d until half after four,

Had what hunters call “law” for a good hour and more;

Doing her best,

Without stopping to rest,

Like “Young Lochinvar who came out of the West.”

“’Tis done!—I am gone!—over briar, brook, and rill

They’ll be sharp lads who catch me!” said young Miss Odille.

159

But you’ve all read in Æsop, or Phædrus, or Gay,

How a tortoise and hare ran together one day;

How the hare, making play,

“Progressed right slick away,”

As “them tarnation chaps” the Americans say;

While the tortoise, whose figure is rather outré

For racing, crawl’d straight on, without let or stay,

Having no post-horse duty or turnpikes to pay,

Till, ere noon’s ruddy ray

Changed to eve’s sober grey,

Though her form and obesity caused some delay,

Perseverance and patience brought up her lee-way,

And she chased her fleet-footed “praycursor” until

She o’ertook her at last;—so it fared with Odille!

well-dressed young woman climbing a fence

These stiles sadly bothered Odille

For although, as I said, she ran gaily at first,

And show’d no inclination to pause, if she durst;

She at length felt opprest with the heat, and with thirst

Its usual attendant; nor was that the worst,

Her shoes went down at heel; at last one of them burst.

Now a gentleman smiles

At a trot of ten miles;

But not so the Fair; then consider the stiles,

And as then ladies seldom wore things with a frill

Round the ankle, these stiles sadly bother’d Odille.

Still, despite all the obstacles placed in her track,

She kept steadily on, though the terrible crack

In her shoe made of course her progression more slack,

Till she reach’d the Swartz Forest (in English the Black);

I cannot divine

How the boundary line

Was pass’d which is somewhere there form’d by the Rhine—

Perhaps she’d the nack

To float o’er on her back—

Or, perhaps, cross’d the old bridge of boats at Brisach

(Which Vauban, some years after, secured from attack

By a bastion of stone which the Germans call “Wacke”),

All I know is, she took not so much as a snack,

Till, hungry and worn, feeling wretchedly ill,

On a mountain’s brow sank down the weary Odille.

I said on its “brow,” but I should have said “crown,”

For ’twas quite on the summit, bleak, barren, and brown,

160

And so high that ’twas frightful indeed to look down

Upon Friburg, a place of some little renown,

That lay at its foot; but imagine the frown

That contracted her brow, when full many a clown

She perceived coming up from that horrid post-town.

They had follow’d her trail,

And now thought without fail,

As little boys say, to “lay salt on her tail;”

While the Count, who knew no other law but his will,

Swore that Herman that evening should marry Odille.

Alas, for Odille! poor dear! what could she do?

Her father’s retainers now had her in view,

As she found from their raising a joyous halloo;

While the Count, riding on at the head of his crew,

In their snuff-colour’d doublets and breeches of blue,

Was huzzaing and urging them on to pursue—

What, indeed, could she do?

She very well knew

If they caught her how much she should have to go through;

But then—she’d so shocking a hole in her shoe!

And to go further on was impossible;—true

She might jump o’er the precipice;—still there are few,

In her place, who could manage their courage to screw

Up to bidding the world such a sudden adieu:—

Alack! how she envied the birds as they flew;

No Nassau balloon, with its wicker canoe,

Came to bear her from him she loath’d worse than a Jew;

So she fell on her knees in a terrible stew,

Crying “Holy St. Ermengarde!

Oh, from these vermin guard

Her whose last hope rests entirely on you;—

Don’t let papa catch me, dear Saint!—rather kill

At once, sur-le-champ, your devoted Odille!”

young woman clinging to the top of a mountain peak overlooking a village, with soldiers advancing

What, indeed, could she do?

It’s delightful to see those who strive to oppress

Get balk’d when they think themselves sure of success.

The Saint came to the rescue!—I fairly confess

I don’t see, as a Saint, how she well could do less

161

Than to get such a votary out of her mess.

Odille had scarce closed her pathetic address

When the rock, gaping wide as the Thames at Sheerness

Closed again, and secured her within its recess

In a natural grotto,

Which puzzled Count Otto,

Who could not conceive where the deuce she had got to.

’Twas her voice!—but ’twas Vox et præterea Nil!

Nor could any one guess what was gone with Odille!

Then burst from the mountain a splendour that quite

Eclipsed, in its brilliance, the finest Bude light,

And there stood St. Ermengarde, drest all in white,

A palm-branch in her left hand, her beads in her right;

While, with faces fresh gilt, and with wings burnish’d bright,

A great many little boys’ heads took their flight

Above and around to a very great height,

And seem’d pretty lively considering their plight,

Since every one saw,

With amazement and awe,

They could never sit down, for they hadn’t de quoi.—

All at the sight,

From the knave to the knight,

Felt a very unpleasant sensation, call’d fright;

While the Saint, looking down,

With a terrible frown,

Said “My Lords, you are done most remarkably brown!—

I am really ashamed of you both;—my nerves thrill

At your scandalous conduct to poor, dear Odille!

“Come, make yourselves scarce!—it is useless to stay.

You will gain nothing here by a longer delay.

‘Quick! Presto! Begone!’ as the conjurors say;

For as to the lady, I’ve stow’d her away

In this hill, in a stratum of London blue clay;

And I shan’t, I assure you, restore her to-day

Till you faithfully promise no more to say ‘Nay,’

But declare, ‘If she will be a nun, why she may.’

For this you’ve my word, and I never yet broke it,

So put that in your pipe, my Lord Otto, and smoke it!—

One hint to your vassals,—a month at ‘the Mill’

Shall be nuts to what they’ll get who worry Odille!”

162

The Saint disappear’d as she ended, and so

Did the little boys’ heads, which, above and below,

As I told you a very few stanzas ago,

Had been flying about her, and jumping Jim Crow;

Though, without any body, or leg, foot, or toe,

How they managed such antics, I really don’t know;

Be that as it may, they all “melted like snow

Off a dyke,” as the Scotch say in Sweet Edinbro’.

And there stood the Count,

With his men, on the mount,

Just like “twenty-four jackasses all on a row.”

What was best to be done—’twas a sad bitter pill—

But gulp it he must, or else lose his Odille.

The lord of Alsace therefore alter’d his plan,

And said to himself, like a sensible man,

“I can’t do as I would,—I must do as I can;

It will not do to lie under any Saint’s ban,

For your hide, when you do, they all manage to tan;

So Count Herman must pick up some Betsey or Nan,

Instead of my girl,—some Sue, Polly, or Fan;—

If he can’t get the corn he must do with the bran,

And make shift with the pot if he can’t have the pan.”

With such proverbs as these

He went down on his knees

And said, “Blessed St. Ermengarde, just as you please—

They shall build a new convent,—I’ll pay the whole bill

(Taking discount),—its Abbess shall be my Odille.”

There are some of my readers, I’ll venture to say,

Who have never seen Friburg, though some of them may,

And others, ’tis likely, may go there some day.

Now, if ever you happen to travel that way,

I do beg and pray, ’twill your pains well repay,—

That you’ll take what the Cockney folks call a “po-shay”

(Though in Germany these things are more like a dray),

You may reach this same hill with a single relay,—

And do look how the rock,

Through the whole of its block,

Is split open, as though by some violent shock

From an earthquake, or lightning, or horrid hard knock

163

From the club-bearing fist of some jolly old cock

Of a Germanised giant, Thor, Woden, or Lok;

And see how it rears

Its two monstrous great ears,

For when once you’re between them such each side appears;

And list to the sound of the water one hears

Drip, drip, from the fissures, like rain-drops or tears,

—Odille’s, I believe,—which have flowed all these years;

—I think they account for them so;—but the rill

I am sure is connected some way with Odille.

MORAL.

Now then, for a moral, which always arrives

At the end, like the honey bees take to their hives,

And the more one observes it the better one thrives,—

We have all heard it said in the course of our lives

“Needs must when a certain old gentleman drives;”

’Tis the same with a lady,—if once she contrives

To get hold of the ribands, how vainly one strives

To escape from her lash, or to shake off her gyves!

Then let’s act like Count Otto, and while one survives,

Succumb to our She-Saints—videlicet wives!

(Aside.)

That is if one has not a “good bunch of fives.”—

(I can’t think how that last line escaped from my quill,

For I am sure it has nothing to do with Odille.)

Now young ladies, to you!—

Don’t put on the shrew!—

And don’t be surprised if your father looks blue

When you’re pert, and won’t act as he wants you to do!

Be sure that you never elope;—there are few,—

Believe me, you’ll find what I say to be true,—

Who run restive, but find as they bake they must brew,

And come off at last with “a hole in their shoe;”

Since not even Clapham, that sanctified ville,

Can produce enough saints to save every Odille.

Notes and Corrections: The Lay of St. Odille

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“The Lay of St. Odille” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. VII no. 2 (February 1840). Throughout the poem, “Alsace” rhymes with “face” or “place”. Deal with it.

With a frightful grimace / He gave orders for chase
[Today I Learned . . . that there are two equally legitimate pronunciations of “grimace”. (I have always used the one that doesn’t rhyme with “chase”.)]

Ask’d, “Pray have you seen anything of Lady Odille?”
[The word “Lady”, which breaks the metre, is absent from Bentley’s.]

Odille had scarce closed her pathetic address
text has adress

Don’t put on the shrew!
text has Dont

164

Nycolas, cytezyn of ye cyte13 of Pancras, was borne of ryche and holye kynne,

And his fader was named Epiphanus, amd his moder Johane.

He was born on a cold frosty morning, on the 6th of December (upon which day his feast is still observed), but in what anno Domini is not so clear; his baptismal register, together with that of his friend and colleague, St. Thomas at Hill, having been “lost in the great fire of London.”

St. Nicholas was a great patron of Mariners, and, saving your presence—of Thieves also, which honourable fraternity have long rejoiced in the appellation of his “Clerks.” Cervantes’ story of Sancho’s detecting a sum of money in a swindler’s walking-stick, is merely the Spanish version of a “Lay of St. Nicholas,” extant “in choice Italian” a century before honest Miguel was bom.

13 Parish.

A Lay of St. Nicholas

“Statim sacerdoti apparuit diabolus in specie puellæ pulchritudinis miræ, et ecce Divus, fide catholicâ, et cruce, et aquâ benedicta armatus venit, et aspersit aquam in nomine Sanctæ et Individuæ Trinitatis, quam, quasi ardentem, diabolus, nequaquam sustinere valens, mugitibus fugit.”

Roger Hoveden.

“LORD ABBOT! Lord Abbot! I’d fain confess;

I am a-weary, and worn with woe;

Many a grief doth my heart oppress,

And haunt me whithersoever I go!”

On bended knee spake the beautiful Maid;

“Now lithe and listen, Lord Abbot, to me!”—

“Now naye, Fair Daughter,” the Lord Abbot said,

“Now naye, in sooth it may hardly be.

“There is Mess Michael, and holy Mess John,

Sage Penitauncers I ween be they!

And hard by doth dwell, in St. Catherine’s cell,

Ambrose, the anchorite old and grey!”

165

—“Oh, I will have none of Ambrose or John,

Though sage Penitauncers I trow they be;

Shrive me may none save the Abbot alone,

Now listen, Lord Abbot, I speak to thee.

“Nor think foul scorn, though mitre adorn

Thy brow, to listen to shrift of mine!

I am a Maiden royally born,

And I come of old Plantagenet’s line.

“Though hither I stray, in lowly array,

I am a damsel of high degree;

And the Compte of Eu, and the Lord of Ponthieu,

They serve my father on bended knee!

“Counts a many, and Dukes a few,

A suitoring came to my father’s Hall;

But the Duke of Lorraine, with his large domain,

He pleased my father beyond them all.

“Dukes a many, and Counts a few,

I would have wedded right cheerfullie;

But the Duke of Lorraine was uncommonly plain,

And I vow’d that he ne’er should my bridegroom be!

“So hither I fly, in lowly guise,

From their gilded domes and their princely halls;

Fain would I dwell in some holy cell,

Or within some Convent’s peaceful walls!”

—Then out and spake that proud Lord Abbot,

“Now rest thee, Fair Daughter, withouten fear,

Nor Count nor Duke but shall meet the rebuke

Of Holy Church an he seek thee here:

“Holy Church denieth all search

’Midst her sanctified ewes and her saintly rams;

And the wolves doth mock who would scathe her flock,

Or, especially, worry her little pet lambs.

166

“Then lay, Fair Daughter, thy fears aside,

For here this day shalt thou dine with me!”—

“Now naye, now naye,” the fair maiden cried;

“In sooth, Lord Abbot, that scarce may be!

“Friends would whisper, and foes would frown,

Sith thou art a Churchman of high degree,

And ill mote it match with thy fair renown

That a wandering damsel dine with thee!

“There is Simon the Deacon hath pulse in store,

With beans and lettuces fair to see;

His lenten fare now let me share,

I pray thee, Lord Abbot, in charitie!”

—“Though Simon the Deacon hath pulse in store,

To our patron Saint foul shame it were

Should wayworn guest, with toil oppress’d,

Meet in his Abbey such churlish fare.

“There is Peter the Prior, and Francis the Friar,

And Roger the Monk shall our convives be;

Small scandal I ween shall then be seen;

They are a goodly companie!”

The Abbot hath donn’d his mitre and ring,

His rich dalmatic, and maniple fine;

And the choristers sing, as the lay-brothers bring

To the board a magnificent turkey and chine.

The turkey and chine, they are done to a nicety;

Liver, and gizzard, and all are there;

Ne’er mote Lord Abbot pronounce Benedicite

Over more luscious or delicate fare.

But no pious stave, no Pater or Ave

Pronounced, as he gazed on that maiden’s face;

She ask’d him for stuffing, she ask’d him for gravy,

She ask’d him for gizzard;—but not for Grace!

167

Yet gaily the Lord Abbot smiled, and press’d,

And the blood-red wine in the wine-cup fill’d;

And he help’d his guest to a bit of the breast,

And he sent the drumsticks down to be grill’d.

bishop and young woman at lavish dinner table

There was no lack of old Sherris sack,

Of Hippocras fine, or of Malmsey bright;

And aye, as he drain’d off his cup with a smack,

He grew less pious and more polite.

She pledged him once, and she pledged him twice,

And she drank as Lady ought not to drink;

And he press’d her hand ’neath the table thrice,

And he wink’d as Abbot ought not to wink.

And Peter the Prior, and Francis the Friar,

Sat each with a napkin under his chin;

But Roger the Monk got excessively drunk,

So they put him to bed, and they tuck’d him in!

The lay-brothers gazed on each other, amazed;

And Simon the Deacon, with grief and surprise,

As he peep’d through the key-hole, could scarce fancy real

The scene he beheld, or believe his own eyes.

In his ear was ringing the Lord Abbot singing,—

He could not distinguish the words very plain,

But ’twas all about “Cole,” and “jolly old Soul”

And “Fiddlers,” and “Punch,” and things quite as profane.

Even Porter Paul at the sound of such revelling,

With fervour himself began to bless;

For he thought he must somehow have let the Devil in,—

And perhaps was not very much out in his guess.

The Accusing Byers14 “flew up to Heaven’s Chancery,”

Blushing like scarlet with shame and concern;

The Archangel took down his tale, and in answer he

Wept—(See the works of the late Mr. Sterne).

168

Indeed, it is said, a less taking both were in

When, after a lapse of a great many years,

They book’d Uncle Toby five shillings for swearing,

And blotted the fine out again with their tears!

But St. Nicholas’ agony who may paint?

His senses at first were well-nigh gone;

The beatified saint was ready to faint

When he saw in his Abbey such sad goings on!

For never, I ween, had such doings been seen

There before, from the time that most excellent Prince,

Earl Baldwin of Flanders, and other Commanders,

Had built and endowed it some centuries since.

—But hark!—’tis a sound from the outermost gate!

A startling sound from a powerful blow.—

Who knocks so late?—it is half after eight

By the clock,—and the clock’s five minutes too slow.

Never, perhaps, had such loud double raps,

Been heard in St. Nicholas’ Abbey before;

All agreed “it was shocking to keep people knocking,”

But none seem’d inclined to “answer the door.”

Now a louder bang through the cloisters rang,

And the gate on its hinges wide open flew;

And all were aware of a Palmer there,

With his cockle, hat, staff, and his sandal shoe.

Many a furrow, and many a frown

By toil and time on his brow were traced;

And his long loose gown was of ginger brown,

And his rosary dangled below his waist.

Now seldom, I ween, is such costume seen,

Except at a stage-play or masquerade;

But who doth not know it was rather the go

With Pilgrims and Saints in the second Crusade?

169

With noiseless stride did that Palmer glide

Across that oaken floor;

And he made them all jump, he gave such a thump

Against the Refectory door!

Wide open it flew, and plain to the view

The Lord Abbot they all mote see;

In his hand was a cup, and he lifted it up,

“Here’s the Pope’s good health with three!!”

Rang in their ears three deafening cheers,

“Huzza! huzza! huzza!”

And one of the party said, “Go it, my hearty!”—

When outspake that Pilgrim grey—

“A boon, Lord Abbot! a boon! a boon!

Worn is my foot, and empty my scrip;

And nothing to speak of since yesterday noon

Of food, Lord Abbot, hath pass’d my lip.

“And I am come from a far countree,

And have visited many a holy shrine;

And long have I trod the sacred sod

Where the Saints do rest in Palestine!”—

“An thou art come from a far countree,

And if thou in Paynim lands hast been,

Now rede me aright the most wonderful sight,

Thou Palmer grey, that thine eyes have seen.

“Arede me aright the most wonderful sight,

Grey Palmer, that ever thine eyes did see,

And a manchette of bread, and a good warm bed,

And a cup o’ the best shall thy guerdon be!”

“Oh! I have been east, and I have been west,

And I have seen many a wonderful sight;

But never to me did it happen to see

A wonder like that which I see this night!

170

“To see a Lord Abbot, in rochet and stole,

With Prior and Friar,—a strange mar-velle!—

O’er a jolly full bowl, sitting cheek by jowl,

And hob-nobbing away with a Devil from Hell!”

He felt in his gown of ginger brown,

And he pull’d out a flask from beneath;

It was rather tough work to get out the cork,

But he drew it at last with his teeth.

O’er a pint and a quarter of holy water,

He made a sacred sign;

And he dash’d the whole on the soi-disant daughter

Of old Plantagenet’s line!

Oh! then did she reek, and squeak, and shriek,

With a wild unearthly scream;

And fizzl’d, and hiss’d, and produced such a mist,

They were all half-choked by the steam.

Her dove-like eyes turn’d to coals of fire,

Her beautiful nose to a horrible snout,

Her hands to paws, with nasty great claws,

And her bosom went in, and her tail came out.

On her chin there appear’d a long Nanny-goat’s beard,

And her tusks and her teeth no man mote tell;

And her horns and her hoofs gave infallible proofs

’Twas a frightful fiend from the nethermost hell!

The Palmer threw down his ginger gown,

His hat and his cockle; and, plain to sight,

Stood St. Nicholas’ self, and his shaven crown

Had a glow-worm halo of heavenly light.

The fiend made a grasp, the Abbot to clasp;

But St. Nicholas lifted his holy toe,

And, just in the nick, let fly such a kick

On his elderly Namesake, he made him let go.

monks fending off alarmed devil, with caption “A Lay of St. Nicholas”

171

And out of the window he flew like a shot,

For the foot flew up with a terrible thwack,

And caught the foul demon about the spot

Where his tail joins on to the small of his back.

And he bounded away like a foot-ball at play,

Till into the bottomless pit he fell slap,

Knocking Mammon the meagre o’er pursy Belphegor,

And Lucifer into Beelzebub’s lap.

Oh! happy the slip from his Succubine grip,

That saved the Lord Abbot—though, breathless with fright,

In escaping he tumbled, and fractured his hip,

And his left leg was shorter thenceforth than his right!

man falling into vast deep pit

Into the bottomless pit he fell slap

On the banks of the Rhine, as he’s stopping to dine,

From a certain Inn-window the traveller is shown

Most picturesque ruins, the scene of these doings,

Some miles up the river, south-east of Cologne.

And, while “sour-kraut” she sells you, the landlady tells you

That there, in those walls, now all roofless and bare,

One Simon, a Deacon, from a lean grew a sleek one,

On filling a ci-devant Abbot’s state chair.

How a ci-devant Abbot, all clothed in drab, but

Of texture the coarsest, hair shirt, and no shoes

(His mitre and ring, and all that sort of thing

Laid aside), in yon Cave lived a pious recluse;

How he rose with the sun, limping “dot and go one,”

To yon rill of the mountain, in all sorts of weather,

Where a Prior and a Friar, who lived somewhat higher

Up the rock used to come and eat cresses together;

How a thirsty old codger, the neighbours called Roger,

With them drank cold water in lieu of old wine!

What its quality wanted he made up in quantity,

Swigging as though he would empty the Rhine!

172

And how, as their bodily strength fail’d, the mental man

Gain’d tenfold vigour and force in all four;

And how, to the day of their death, the “Old Gentleman”

Never attempted to kidnap them more.

And how, when at length, in the odour of sanctity,

All of them died without grief or complaint;

The Monks of St. Nicholas said ’twas ridiculous

Not to suppose every one was a Saint.

And how, in the Abbey, no one was so shabby

As not to say yearly four masses a head,

On the eve of that supper, and kick on the crupper

Which Satan received for the souls of the dead!

How folks long held in reverence their reliques and memories,

How the ci-devant Abbot’s obtain’d greater still,

When some cripples, on touching his fractured os femoris,

Threw down their crutches and danced a quadrille!

And how Abbot Simon (who turn’d out a prime one)

These words, which grew into a proverb full soon,

O’er the late Abbot’s grotto, stuck up as a motto,

Who suppes with the Deville sholde have a long spoone!

14 The Prince of Peripatetic Informers, and terror of Stage Coachmen, when such things were. Alack! alack! the Railroads have ruined his “vested interest.”

Notes and Corrections: A Lay of St. Nicholas

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“A Lay of St. Nicholas” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. III no. 4 (April 1838) as “The Golden Legend No. I: A Lay of St. Nicholas”.

His lenten fare now let me share,
text has lenten fair

Thou Palmer grey, that thine eyes have seen.
. missing

On his elderly Namesake, he made him let go.
. missing

[Footnote] The Prince of Peripatetic Informers
[This footnote was added for the book.]

Rohesia, daughter of Ambrose, and sister to Sir Everard Ingoldsby, was born about the beginning of the sixteenth century, and was marred in 1526, at St. Giles’s, Cripplegate, in the city of London. The following narrative contains all else that is known of

The Lady Rohesia.

THE Lady Rohesia lay on her death-bed!

So said the doctor, and doctors are generally allowed to be judges in these matters; besides Doctor Butts was the Court Physician: he carried a crutch-handled staff, with its cross of the blackest ebony—raison de plus.

“Is there no hope, Doctor?” said Beatrice Grey.

173

“Is there no hope?” said Everard Ingoldsby.

“Is there no hope?” said Sir Guy de Montgomeri. He was the Lady Rohesia’s husband;—he spoke the last.

The doctor shook his head. He looked at the disconsolate widower in posse, then at the hour-glass; its waning sand seemed sadly to shadow forth the sinking pulse of his patient. Dr. Butts was a very learned man. “Ars longa, vita brevis!” said Doctor Butts.

“I am very sorry to hear it,” quoth Sir Guy de Montgomeri.

Sir Guy was a brave knight, and a tall; but he was no scholar.

“Alas! my poor sister!” sighed Ingoldsby.

“Alas! my poor mistress!” sobbed Beatrice.

Sir Guy neither sighed nor sobbed; his grief was too deep-seated for outward manifestation.

“And how long, Doctor——?” The afflicted husband could not finish the sentence.

Dr. Butts withdrew his hand from the wrist of the dying lady. He pointed to the horologe; scarcely a quarter of its sand remained in the upper moiety. Again he shook his head; the eye of the patient waxed dimmer, the rattling in the throat increased.

“What’s become of Father Francis?” whimpered Beatrice.

“The last consolations of the Church——” suggested Everard.

A darker shade came over the brow of Sir Guy.

“Where is the Confessor?” continued his grieving brother-in-law.

small drawing of monk holding a mug

“In the pantry,” cried Marion Hacket pertly, as she tripped downstairs in search of that venerable ecclesiastic;—“in the pantry, I warrant me.” The bower-woman was not wont to be in the wrong; in the pantry was the holy man discovered,—at his devotions.

Pax vobiscum!” said Father Francis, as he entered the chamber of death.

Vita brevis!” retorted Doctor Butts. He was not a man to be browbeat out of his Latin,—and by a paltry Friar Minim, too. Had it been a Bishop, indeed, or even a mitred Abbot,—but a miserable Franciscan!

Benedicite!” said the Friar.

Ars longa!” returned the Leech.

Doctor Butts adjusted the tassels of his falling band; drew his short sad-coloured cloak closer around him; and, grasping his cross-handled walking-staff, stalked majestically out of the apartment. Father Francis had the field to himself.

The worthy chaplain hastened to administer the last rites of the church. To all appearance he had little time to lose; as he concluded, the dismal toll of the passing-bell sounded from the belfry tower,—little Hubert the bandy-legged sacristan, was pulling with all his might. It was a capital contrivance that same passing-bell,—which 174 of the Urbans or Innocents invented it is a query; but, whoever he was, he deserved well of his country and of Christendom.

Ah! our ancestors were not such fools, after all, as we, their degenerate children, conceit them to have been. The passing-bell! a most solemn warning to imps of every description, is not to be regarded with impunity; the most impudent Succubus of them all dare as well dip his claws in holy water as come within the verge of its sound. Old Nick himself, if he sets any value at all upon his tail, had best convey himself clean out of hearing, and leave the way open to Paradise. Little Hubert continued pulling with all his might,—and St. Peter began to look out for a customer.

The knell seemed to have some effect even upon the Lady Rohesia; she raised her head slightly; inarticulate sounds issued from her lips,—inarticulate, that is, to the profane ears of the laity. Those of Father Francis, indeed, were sharper; nothing, as he averred, could be more distinct than the words, “A thousand marks to the priory of St. Mary Rouncival.”

Now the Lady Rohesia Ingoldsby had brought her husband broad lands and large possessions; much of her ample dowry, too, was at her own disposal; and nuncupative wills had not yet been abolished by Act of Parliament.

“Pious soul!” ejaculated Father Francis. “A thousand marks, she said——”

“If she did, I’ll be shot!” said Sir Guy de Montgomeri.

“—A thousand marks!” continued the Confessor, fixing his cold grey eye upon the knight, as he went on heedless of the interruption;—“a thousand marks! and as many Aves and Paters shall be duly said—as soon as the money is paid down.”

Sir Guy shrank from the monk’s gaze; he turned to the window, and muttered to himself something that sounded like “Don’t you wish you may get it?”

The bell continued to toll. Father Francis had quitted the room, taking with him the remains of the holy oil he had been using for Extreme Unction. Everard Ingoldsby waited on him down-stairs.

“A thousand thanks!” said the latter.

“A thousand marks!” said the friar.

“A thousand devils!” growled Sir Guy de Montgomeri, from the top of the landing-place.

But his accents fell unheeded; his brother-in-law and the friar were gone; he was left alone with his departing lady and Beatrice Grey.

Sir Guy de Montgomeri stood pensively at the foot of the bed; his arms were crossed upon his bosom, his chin was sunk upon his 175 breast; his eyes were filled with tears; the dim rays of the fading watchlight gave a darker shade to the furrows on his brow, and a brighter tint to the little bald patch on the top of his head,—for Sir Guy was a middle-aged gentleman, tall and portly withal, with a slight bend in his shoulders, but that not much; his complexion was somewhat florid,—especially about the nose; but his lady was in extremis, and at this particular moment he was paler than usual.

“Bim! bome!” went the bell. The knight groaned audibly, Beatrice Grey wiped her eye with her little square apron of lace de Malines; there was a moment’s pause—a moment of intense affliction; she let it fall,—all but one corner, which remained between her finger and thumb. She looked at Sir Guy; drew the thumb and forefinger of her other hand slowly along its border, till they reached the opposite extremity. She sobbed aloud. “So kind a lady!” said Beatrice Grey.—“So excellent a wife!” responded Sir Guy.—“So good!” said the damsel—“So dear!” said the knight.—“So pious!” said she.—“So humble!” said he.—“So good to the poor!”—“So capital a manager!”—“So punctual at matins!”—“Dinner dished to a moment!”—“So devout!” said Beatrice.—“So fond of me!” said Sir Guy.—“And of Father Francis!”—“What the devil do you mean by that?” said Sir Guy de Montgomeri.

The knight and the maiden had rung their antiphonic changes on the fine qualities of the departing Lady, like the Strophe and Antistrophe of a Greek play. The cardinal virtues once disposed of, her minor excellences came under review. She would drown a witch, drink lambs’ wool at Christmas, beg Dominie Dumps’s boys a holiday, and dine upon sprats on Good Friday! A low moan from the subject of these eulogies seemed to intimate that the enumeration of her good deeds was not altogether lost on her,—that the parting spirit felt and rejoiced in the testimony.

“She was too good for earth!” continued Sir Guy.

“Ye-ye-yes!” sobbed Beatrice.

“I did not deserve her!” said the knight.

“No-o-o-o!” cried the damsel.

“Not but that I made her an excellent husband, and a kind; but she is going, and—and—where, or when, or how—shall I get such another?”

“Not in broad England—not in the whole wide world!” responded Beatrice Grey; “that is, not just such another!” Her voice still faltered, but her accents on the whole were more articulate; she dropped the corner of her apron, and had recourse to her handkerchief; in fact, her eyes were getting red,—and so was the tip of her nose.

Sir Guy was silent; he gazed for a few moments steadfastly on 176 the face of his lady. The single word, “Another!” fell from his lips like a distant echo;—it is not often that the viewless nymph repeats more than is necessary.

“Bim! bome!” went the bell.—Bandy-legged Hubert had been tolling for half an hour; he began to grow tired and St. Peter fidgety.

“Beatrice Grey!” said Sir Guy de Montgomeri, “what’s to be done? What’s to become of Montgomeri Hall?—and the buttery,—and the servants? And what—what’s to become of me, Beatrice Grey?”—There was pathos in his tones, and a solemn pause succeeded. “I’ll turn monk myself!” said Sir Guy.

“Monk?” said Beatrice.

“I’ll be a Carthusian!” repeated the knight, but in a tone less assured: he relapsed into a reverie.—Shave his head!—he did not so much mind that,—he was getting rather bald already;—but, beans for dinner,—and those without butter—and then a horse-hair shirt!

The knight seemed undecided: his eye roamed gloomily around the apartment; it paused upon different objects, but as if it saw them not; its sense was shut, and there was no speculation in its glance: it rested at last upon the fair face of the sympathising damsel at his side, beautiful in her grief.

Her tears had ceased; but her eyes were cast down, mournfully fixed upon her delicate little foot, which was beating the devil’s tattoo.

There is no talking to a female when she does not look at you. Sir Guy turned round,—he seated himself on the edge of the bed; and, placing his hand beneath the chin of the lady, turned up her face in an angle of fifteen degrees.

“I don’t think I shall take the vows, Beatrice; but what’s to become of me? Poor, miserable, old—that is poor, miserable, middle-aged man that I am!—No one to comfort, no one to care for me!”—Beatrice’s tears flowed afresh, but she opened not her lips.—“’Pon my life!” continued he, “I don’t believe there is a creature now would care a button if I were hanged to-morrow!”

“Oh! don’t say so, Sir Guy!” sighed Beatrice; “you know there’s—there’s Master Everard, and—and Father Francis——”

“Pish!” cried Sir Guy, testily.

“And—there’s your favourite old bitch.”

“I am not thinking of old bitches!” quoth Sir Guy de Montgomeri.

Another pause ensued; the knight had released her chin, and taken her hand; it was a pretty little hand, with long taper fingers and filbert-formed nails, and the softness of the palm said little for its owner’s industry.

177

“Sit down, my dear Beatrice,” said the knight, thoughtfully; “you must be fatigued with your long watching. Take a seat, my child.”—Sir Guy did not relinquish her hand; but he sidled along the counterpane, and made room for his companion between himself and the bed-post.

Now this is a very awkward position for two people to be placed in, especially when the right hand of the one holds the right hand of the other:—in such an attitude, what the deuce can the gentleman do with his left? Sir Guy closed his till it became an absolute fist, and his knuckles rested on the bed a little in the rear of his companion.

“Another!” repeated Sir Guy, musing; “if, indeed, I could find such another!” He was talking to his thought, but Beatrice Grey answered him.

“There’s Madam Fitzfoozle.”

“A frump!” said Sir Guy.

“Or the Lady Bumbarton.”

“With her hump!” muttered he.

“There’s the Dowager——”

“Stop—stop!” said the knight, “stop one moment!”—He paused; he was all on the tremble; something seemed rising in his throat, but he gave a great gulp, and swallowed it. “Beatrice,” said he, “what think you of”—his voice sank into a most seductive softness,—“what think you of—Beatrice Grey?”

The murder was out: the knight felt infinitely relieved: the knuckles of his left hand unclosed spontaneously; and the arm he had felt such a difficulty in disposing of, found itself,—nobody knows how,—all at once, encircling the jimp waist of the pretty Beatrice. The young lady’s reply was expressed in three syllables. They were,—“Oh, Sir Guy!” The words might be somewhat indefinite, but there was no mistaking the look. Their eyes met; Sir Guy’s left arm contracted itself spasmodically; when the eyes meet,—at least, as theirs met,—the lips are very apt to follow the example. The knight had taken one long, loving kiss—nectar and ambrosia! He thought on Doctor Butts and his repetatur haustus—a prescription Father Francis had taken infinite pains to translate for him: he was about to repeat it, but the dose was interrupted in transitu.—Doubtless the adage,

“There’s many a slip

’Twixt the cup and the lip,”

hath reference to medicine. Sir Guy’s lip was again all but in conjunction with that of his bride elect.

It has been hinted already that there was a little round polished 178 patch on the summit of the knight’s pericranium, from which his locks had gradually receded; a sort of oasis,—or rather a Mont Blanc in miniature, rising above the highest point of vegetation. It was on this little spot, undefended alike by Art and Nature, that at this interesting moment a blow descended, such as we must borrow a term from the Sister Island adequately to describe,—it was a “Whack!”

man and woman sitting on the side of a bed, with angry woman in bed behind them

Sir Guy started upon his feet; Beatrice Grey started upon hers: but a single glance to the rear reversed her position,—she fell upon her knees and screamed.

The knight, too, wheeled about, and beheld a sight which might have turned a bolder man to stone.—It was She!—the all-but-defunct Rohesia—there she sat, bolt upright!—her eyes no longer glazed with the film of impending dissolution, but scintillating like flint and steel; while in her hand she grasped the bed-staff,—a weapon of mickle might, as her husband’s bloody coxcomb could now well testify. Words were yet wanting, for the quinsy, which her rage had broken, still impeded her utterance; but the strength and rapidity of her guttural intonations augured well for her future eloquence.

Sir Guy de Montgomeri stood for a while like a man distraught; this resurrection—for such it seemed—had quite overpowered him. “A husband ofttimes makes the best physician,” says the proverb; he was a living personification of its truth. Still it was whispered he had been content with Dr. Butts; but his lady was restored to bless him for many years.—Heavens, what a life he led!

The Lady Rohesia mended apace; her quinsy was cured; the bell was stopped; and little Hubert, the sacristan, kicked out of the chapelry. St. Peter opened his wicket, and looked out;—there was nobody there; so he flung to the gate in a passion, and went back to his lodge, grumbling at being hoaxed by a runaway ring.

Years rolled on.—The improvement of Lady Rohesia’s temper did not keep pace with that of her health; and one fine morning Sir Guy de Montgomeri was seen to enter the porte-cochère of Durham House, at that time the town residence of Sir Walter Raleigh. Nothing more was ever heard of him; but a boat full of adventurers was known to have dropped down with the tide that evening to Deptford Hope, where lay the good ship the Darling, commanded by Captain Keymis, who sailed next morning on the Virginia voyage.

A brass plate, some eighteen inches long, may yet be seen in Denton chancel, let into a broad slab of Bethersden marble; it represents a lady kneeling, in her wimple and hood; her hands are 179 clasped in prayer, and beneath is an inscription in the characters of the age—

“Praie for ye sowle of ye Lady Royse,

And for alle Christen sowles!”

The date is illegible; but it appears that she survived King Henry the Eighth, and that the dissolution of monasteries had lost St. Mary Rouncival her thousand marks—As for Beatrice Grey, it is well known that she was alive in 1559, and then had virginity enough left to be a maid of honour to “good Queen Bess.”

Notes and Corrections: The Lady Rohesia

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“The Lady Rohesia” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. III no. 1 (January 1837) as “Family Stories No. VIII: Dr. Ingoldsby’s Story”.

Ars longa, vita brevis!” said Doctor Butts.
[Unless Lady Rohesia was an artist of some sort, or perhaps a poetess, I fail to see the relevance.]

nuncupative wills had not yet been abolished by Act of Parliament
[It sounds grandiose, but the word simply means a will that is oral (spoken), not written. Typically a nuncupative will required seven witnesses, not just one. It seems especially sketchy when that sole witness is, in effect, the primary beneficiary.]

“Dinner dished to a moment!”
[Missing word “a” supplied from Bentley’s.]

he gazed for a few moments steadfastly on the face of his lady
text has stedfastly

Praie for ye sowle of ye Lady Royse
[The book simply has “ye” (both times) but the periodical version looks swankier. Bentley’s spells it “Ladye”, which must be considered an optional extra.]

It was during the “Honey (or, as it is sometimes termed, the “Treacle”) Moon” that Mr. and Mrs. Seaforth passed through London. A “good-natured friend,” who dropped in to dinner, forced them in the evening to the theatre for the purpose of getting rid of him. I give Charles’s account of the Tragedy, just as it was written, without altering even the last couplet—for there would be no making “Egerton” rhyme with “Story.”

The Tragedy.

“Quæque ipse miserrima vidi.”—Virgil.

CATHERINE of Cleves was a Lady of rank:

She had lands and fine houses, and cash in the Bank;

She had jewels and rings,

And a thousand smart things;

Was lovely and young,

With a rather sharp tongue,

And she wedded a noble of high degree

With the star of the order of St. Esprit;

But the Duke de Guise

Was, by many degrees,

Her senior, and not very easy to please;

He’d a sneer on his lip, and a scowl with his eye.

And a frown on his brow,—and he look’d like a Guy,—

So she took to intriguing

With Monsieur St. Megrin,

A young man of fashion, and figure, and worth.

But with no great pretensions to fortune or birth;

180

He would sing, fence, and dance,

With the best man in France,

And took his rappee with genteel nonchalance;

He smiled, and he flatter’d, and flirted with ease,

And was very superior to Monseigneur de Guise.

Now Monsieur St. Megrin was curious to know

If the Lady approved of his passion or no;

So without more ado,

He put on his surtout,

And went to a man with a beard like a Jew,

One Signor Ruggieri,

A Cunning-man near, he

Could conjure, tell fortunes, and calculate tides,

Perform tricks on the cards, and Heaven knows what besides,

Bring back a stray’d cow, silver ladle, or spoon,

And was thought to be thick with the Man in the Moon.

The Sage took his stand

With his wand in his hand,

Drew a circle, then gave the dread word of command,

Saying solemnly—“Presto!—Hey, quick!—Cock-a-lorum!!

When the Duchess immediately popp’d up before ’em.

woman in 16th-century attire weeping

The Duchess shed tears large as marrow-fat peas

Just then a Conjunction of Venus and Mars,

Or something peculiar above in the stars,

Attracted the notice of Signor Ruggieri,

Who “bolted,” and left him alone with his deary.—

Monsieur St. Megrin went down on his knees,

And the Duchess shed tears large as marrow-fat peas.

When,—fancy the shock,—

A loud double knock,

Made the Lady cry “Get up, you fool!—there’s De Guise!”

’Twas his Grace, sure enough;

So Monsieur, looking bluff,

Strutted by, with his hat on, and fingering his ruff,

While, unseen by either, away flew the Dame

Through the opposite key-hole, the same way she came;

But, alack! and alas!

A mishap came to pass,

In her hurry she, somehow or other, let fall

A new silk Bandana she’d worn as a shawl;

She had used it for drying

Her bright eyes while crying,

And blowing her nose, as her Beau talk’d of dying!

crowd of men in Elizbethan helmets

THE TRAGEDY.

p. 180

Now the Duke, who had seen it so lately adorn her,

And knew the great C with the Crown in the corner,

181

The instant he spied it, smoked something amiss,

And said, with some energy, “D—— it! what’s this?”

He went home in a fume,

And bounced into her room,

Crying, “So, Ma’am, I find I’ve some cause to be jealous!

Look here!—here’s a proof you run after the fellows!

—Now take up that pen,—if it’s bad choose a better,—

And write, as I dictate, this moment a letter

To Monsieur—you know who!”

The Lady looked blue;

But replied with much firmness—“Hang me if I do!”

De Guise grasped her wrist

With his great bony fist,

And pinch’d it, and gave it so painful a twist,

That his hard, iron gauntlet the flesh went an inch in,—

She did not mind death, but she could not stand pinching;

So she sat down and wrote

This polite little note:—

“Dear Mister St. Megrin,

The Chiefs of the League in

Our house mean to dine

This evening at nine;

I shall, soon after ten,

Slip away from the men,

And you’ll find me upstairs in the drawing-room then;

Come up the back way or those impudent thieves

Of Servants will see you; Yours,

Catherine of Cleves.”

She directed and sealed it, all pale as a ghost,

And De Guise put it into the Twopenny Post.

angry man in armor, startled woman rising from a chair

St. Megrin had almost jumped out of his skin

For joy that day when the post came in;

He read the note through,

Then began it anew,

And thought it almost too good news to be true.—

He clapp’d on his hat,

And a hood over that,

With a cloak to disguise him, and make him look fat;

So great his impatience from half after Four

He was waiting till Ten at De Guise’s back-door.

When he heard the great clock of St. Genevieve chime

He ran up the back staircase six steps at a time.

He had scarce made his bow,

He hardly knew how,

When alas! and alack!

There was no getting back,

For the drawing-room door was bang’d to with a whack;—

182

In vain he applied

To the handle and tried,

Somebody or other had locked it outside!

And the Duchess in agony mourn’d her mishap,

“We are caught like a couple of rats in a trap.”

chaos of men, ladder and barrel

Now the Duchess’s Page,

About twelve years of age,

For so little a boy was remarkably sage;

And just in the nick, to their joy and amazement,

Popp’d the Gas-lighter’s ladder close under the casement.

But all would not do,—

Though St. Megrin got through

The window,—below stood De Guise and his crew,

And though never man was more brave than St. Megrin,

Yet fighting a score is extremely fatiguing;

He thrust carte and tierce

Uncommonly fierce,

But not Beëlzebub’s self could their cuirasses pierce;

While his doublet and hose,

Being holiday clothes.

Were soon cut through and through from his knees to his nose;

Still an old crooked sixpence the Conjuror gave him,

From pistol and sword was sufficient to save him;

But when beat on his knees,

That confounded De Guise

Came behind with the “fogle” that caused all this breeze,

Whipp’d it tight round his neck, and when backward he’d jerk’d him,

The rest of the rascals jump’d on him and Burk’d him.

The poor little Page, too, himself got no quarter, but

Was served the same way,

And was found the next day

With his heels in the air, and his head in the water-butt;

Catherine of Cleves

Roar’d “Murder!” and “Thieves!”

From the window above

While they murder’d her love;

Till, finding the rogues had accomplished his slaughter,

She drank Prussic acid without any water,

And died like a Duke-and-a-Duchess’s daughter!

man’s feet sticking out of a barrel

THE TRAGEDY.

p. 182.

MORAL.

Take warning, ye fair, from this tale of the Bard’s,

And don’t go where fortunes are told on the cards,

183

But steer clear of Conjurors,—never put query

To “Wise Mrs. Williams,” or folks like Ruggieri.

When alone in your room shut the door close, and lock it!

Above all,—KEEP YOUR HANDKERCHIEF SAFE IN YOUR POCKET!

Lest you too should stumble, and Lord Leveson Gower, he

Be call’d on,—sad poet!—to tell your sad story!

Notes and Corrections: The Tragedy

“The Tragedy” originally appeared in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine Vol. 31 no. 3 (March 1832) as “Family Poetry No. III: The Play”.

Yours, / Catherine of Cleves.
close quote missing

It was in the summer of 1838 that a party from Tappington reached the metropolis with a view of witnessing the coronation of their youthful Queen, whom God long preserve!—This purpose they were fortunate enough to accomplish by the purchase of a peer’s tickets, from a stationer in the Strand, who was enabled so to dispose of some, greatly to the indignation of the hereditary Earl Marshal. How Mr. Barney managed to insinuate himself into the Abbey remains a mystery; his characteristic modesty and address doubtless assisted him, for there he unquestionably was. The result of his observations was thus communicated to his associates in the Servants’ Hall upon his return, to the infinite delectation of Mademoiselle Pauline over a Cruiskeen of his own concocting.

Mr. Barney Maguire’s Account of the Coronation

Air.—“The Groves Of Blarney.

OCH! the Coronation! what celebration

For emulation can with it compare?

When to Westminster the Royal Spinster,

And the Duke of Leinster, all in order did repair!

’Twas there you’d see the New Polishemen

Making a skrimmage at half after four,

And the Lords and Ladies, and the Miss O’Gradys,

All standing round before the Abbey door.

184

Their pillows scorning, that self-same morning

Themselves adorning, all by the candle-light,

With roses and lilies, and daffy-down-dillies,

And gould and jewels, and rich di’monds bright.

And then approaches five hundred coaches,

With General Dullbeak.—Och! ’twas mighty fine

To see how asy bould Corporal Casey,

With his sword drawn, prancing made them kape the line.

Then the Guns’ alarums, and the King of Arums,

All in his Garters and his Clarence shoes,

Opening the massy doors to the bould Ambassydors,

The Prince of Potboys, and great haythen Jews;

’Twould have made you crazy to see Esterhazy

All jools from his jasey to his di’mond boots,

With Alderman Harmer, and that swate charmer,

The famale heiress, Miss Anja-ly Coutts.

And Wellington, walking with his swoord drawn, talking

To Hill and Hardinge, haroes of great fame:

And Sir De Lacy, and the Duke Dalmasey

(They call’d him Sowlt afore he changed his name),

Themselves presading Lord Melbourne, lading

The Queen, the darling, to her royal chair,

And that fine ould fellow, the Duke of Pell-Mello,

The Queen of Portingal’s Chargy-de-fair.

Then the Noble Prussians, likewise the Russians,

In fine laced jackets with their goulden cuffs,

And the Bavarians, and the proud Hungarians,

And Everythingarians all in furs and muffs.

Then Misthur Spaker, with Misthur Pays the Quaker,

All in the Gallery you might persave;

But Lord Brougham was missing, and gone a-fishing,

Ounly crass Lord Essex would not give him lave.

There was Baron Alten himself exalting,

And Prince Von Schwartzenberg, and many more,

Och! I’d be bother’d and entirely smother’d

To tell the half of ’em was to the fore;

185

With the swate Peeresses, in their crowns and dresses,

And Aldermanesses, and the Boord of Works;

But Mehemet Ali said, quite gintaly,

“I’d be proud to see the likes among the Turks!”

Then the Queen, Heaven bless her! och! they did dress her

In her purple garaments and her goulden Crown;

Like Venus or Hebe, or the Queen of Sheby,

With eight young ladies houlding up her gown.

Sure ’twas grand to see her, also for to he-ar

The big drums bating, and the trumpets blow,

And Sir George Smart! Oh! he play’d a Consarto,

With his four-and-twenty fiddlers all on a row!

Then the Lord Archbishop held a goulden dish up,

For to resave her bounty and great wealth,

Saying, “Plase your Glory, great Queen Vic-tory!

Ye’ll give the Clargy lave to dhrink your health!”

Then his Riverence, retrating, discoorsed the mating;

“Boys! Here’s your Queen! deny it if you can!

And if any bould traitour, or infarior craythur,

Sneezes at that, I’d like to see the man!”

Then the Nobles kneeling to the Pow’rs appealing,

“Heaven send your Majesty a glorious reign!”

And Sir Claudius Hunter he did confront her,

All in his scarlet gown and goulden chain.

The great Lord May’r, too, sat in his chair, too,

But mighty sarious, looking fit to cry,

For the Earl of Surrey, all in his hurry,

Throwing the thirteens, hit him in his eye.

Then there was preaching, and good store of speeching,

With Dukes and Marquises on bended knee;

And they did splash her with raal Macasshur,

And the Queen said, “Ah! then thank ye all for me!”—

Then the trumpets braying, and the organ playing,

And sweet trombones, with their silver tones;

But Lord Rolle was rolling;—’twas mighty consoling

To think his Lordship did not break his bones!

186

Then the crames and custard, and the beef and mustard,

All on the tombstones like a poultherer’s shop;

With lobsters and white-bait, and other swate-meats,

And wine and nagus, and Imperial Pop!

There was cakes and apples in all the Chapels,

With fine polonies, and rich mellow pears,—

Och! the Count Von Strogonoff, sure he got prog enough,

The sly ould Divil, undernathe the stairs.

Then the cannons thunder’d, and the people wonder’d,

Crying, “God save Victoria, our Royal Queen!”—

—Och! if myself should live to be a hundred,

Sure it’s the proudest day that I’ll have seen

And now, I’ve ended, what I pretended,

This narration splendid in swate poe-thry,

Ye dear bewitcher, just hand the pitcher,

Faith, it’s myself that’s getting mighty dhry.

Notes and Corrections: Account of the Coronation

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“Mr. Barney Maguire’s Account of the Coronation” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. IV no. 2 (August 1838) as “Mr. Barney Maguire’s History of the Coronation”. If the name “Barney Maguire” seems familiar, it is because we previously met him in “The Spectre of Tappington” as Lt. Charles Seaforth’s valet.

Perfunctory research into the Air turns up treble-clef versions in F and in G. (If you prefer it in an alto-clef range, you are on your own.) In any key, if you can make Barney’s Account fit the “Groves of Blarney”, you’re a better man than I.

the summer of 1838 . . . the coronation of their youthful Queen
[Victoria ascended the throne in June 1837. Coronations are typically held a full year after the previous monarch’s death, when court and country are out of mourning.]

The famale heiress, Miss Anja-ly Coutts.
[Bentley’s renders the name “Anjā-ly” with macron.]

Ye’ll give the Clargy lave to dhrink your health!”
close quote missing

As a pendant to the foregoing, I shall venture to insert Mr. Simpkinson’s lucubrations on a subject to him, as a Savant of the first class, scarcely less interesting. The aerial voyage to which it alludes took place about a year and a half previously to the august event already recorded, and the excitement manifested in the learned Antiquary’s effusion may give some faint idea of that which prevailed generally among the Sons of Science at that memorable epoch.

The “Monstre” Balloon.

OH! the balloon, the great balloon,

It left Vauxhall one Monday at noon,

And every one said we should hear of it soon,

With news from Aleppo or Scanderoon.

But very soon after folks changed their tune:

“The netting had burst—the silk—the shalloon;—

It had met with a trade-wind—a deuced monsoon—

187

It was blown out to sea—it was blown to the moon—

They ought to have put off their journey till June;

Sure none but a donkey, a goose, or baboon

Would go up in November in any balloon!”

Then they talk’d about Green—“Oh! where’s Mister Green?

And where’s Mr. Holland who hired the machine?

And where is Monck Mason, the man that has been

Up so often before—twelve times or thirteen—

And who writes such nice letters describing the scene?

And where’s the cold fowl, and the ham, and poteen?

The press’d beef, with the fat cut off—nothing but lean,

And the portable soup in the patent tureen?

Have they got to Grand Cairo or reached Aberdeen?

Or Jerusalem—Hamburg—or Ballyporeen?

No! they have not been seen! Oh! they haven’t been seen!”

Stay! here’s Mister Gye—Mr. Frederick Gye—

“At Paris,” says he, “I’ve been up very high,

A couple of hundred of toises, or nigh,

A cockstride the Tuileries’ pantiles, to spy

With Dollond’s best telescope stuck at my eye,

And my umbrella under my arm like Paul Pry,

But I could see nothing at all but the sky;

So I thought with myself ’twas of no use to try

Any longer; and, feeling remarkably dry

From sitting all day stuck up there, like a Guy,

I came down again, and—you see—here am I!”

But here’s Mr. Hughes!—What says young Mr. Hughes?—

“Why, I’m sorry to say we’ve not got any news

Since the letter they threw down in one of their shoes,

Which gave the mayor’s nose such a deuce of a bruise,

As he popp’d up his eye-glass to look at their cruise

Over Dover; and which the folks flocked to peruse

At Squiers’s bazaar, the same evening, in crews—

Politicians, news-mongers, town-council, and blues,

Turks, Heretics, Infidels, Jumpers, and Jews,

Scorning Bachelor’s papers, and Warren’s reviews:

188

But the wind was then blowing towards Helvoetsluys,

And my father and I are in terrible stews,

For so large a balloon is a sad thing to lose!”—

Here’s news come at last;—Here’s news come at last!—

A vessel’s come in, which has sail’d very fast;

And a gentleman serving before the mast,—

Mister Nokes—has declared that “the party has past

Safe across to the Hague, where their grapnel they cast,

As a fat burgomaster was staring aghast

To see such a monster come borne on the blast,

And it caught in his waistband, and there it stuck fast!”—

O fie! Mister Nokes,—for shame, Mr. Nokes!

To be poking your fun at us plain-dealing folks—

Sir, this isn’t a time to be cracking your jokes,

And such jesting your malice but scurvily cloaks;

Such a trumpery tale every one of us smokes,

And we know very well your whole story’s a hoax!—

“Oh! what shall we do?—Oh! where will it end?—

Can nobody go?—Can nobody send

To Calais—or Bergen-op-zoom—or Ostend?

Can’t you go there yourself?—Can’t you write to a friend,

For news upon which we may safely depend?”—

five men in the basket of a great balloon, flying near the moon

THE MONSTRE BALLOON.

p. 188.

Huzza! huzza! one and eight-pence to pay

For a letter from Hamborough, just come to say

They descended at Weilburg, about break of day;

And they’ve lent them the palace there during their stay,

And the town is becoming uncommonly gay,

And they’re feasting the party, and soaking their clay

With Johannisberg, Rudesheim, Moselle, and Tokay!

And the Landgraves, and Margraves, and Counts beg and pray

That they won’t think, as yet, about going away;

Notwithstanding, they don’t mean to make much delay,

But pack up the balloon in a waggon, or dray,

And pop themselves into a German “po-shay,”

And get on to Paris by Lisle and Tournay;

Where they boldly declare, any wager they’ll lay

If the gas people there do not ask them to pay

189

Such a sum as must force them at once to say “Nay,”

They’ll inflate the balloon in the Champs-Elysees,

And be back again here the beginning of May.—

Dear me! what a treat for a juvenile fête!

What thousands will flock their arrival to greet!

There’ll be hardly a soul to be seen in the street,

For at Vauxhall the whole population will meet,

And you’ll scarcely get standing-room, much less a seat,

For this all preceding attraction must beat:

Since, they’ll unfold, what we want to be told

How they cough’d,—how they sneez’d,—how they shiver’d with cold,—

How they tippled the “cordial” as racy and old

As Hodges, or Deady, or Smith ever sold,

And how they all then felt remarkably bold:

How they thought the boil’d beef worth its own weight in gold,

And how Mr. Green was beginning to scold

Because Mr. Mason would try to lay hold

Of the moon, and had very near overboard roll’d!

And there they’ll be seen—they’ll be all to be seen!

The great-coats, the coffee-pots, mugs, and tureen!

With the tight-rope, and fire-works, and dancing between,

If the weather should only prove fair and serene,

And there, on a beautiful transparent screen,

In the middle you’ll see a large picture of Green,

Mr. Holland on one side, who hired the machine,

Mr. Mason on t’other, describing the scene;

And Fame, on one leg, in the air, like a queen,

With three wreaths and a trumpet, will over them lean;

While Envy, in serpents and black bombazin,

Looks on from below with an air of chagrin!

Then they’ll play up a tune in the Royal Saloon,

And the people will dance by the light of the moon,

And keep up the ball till the next day at noon;

And the peer and the peasant, the lord and the loon,

The haughty grandee, and the low picaroon,

The six-foot life-guardsman, and little gossoon

Will all join in three cheers for the “Monstre” Balloon.

Notes and Corrections: The “Monstre” Balloon

skip to next chapter

“The ‘Monstre’ Balloon” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. I no. 1 (January 1837), making it the oldest of all the Ingoldsby Legends that originated in Bentley’s. (The “Family Poetry” group, originally from Blackwood’s, came earlier in the decade.)

The “Monstre” is more formally known as the Royal Vauxhall Balloon. In November 1836 it set a distance record for manned flight—480 miles, landing near Weilburg in Germany—that would endure for almost eighty years. Green, Holland and Mason were the three men aboard.

any wager they’ll lay / If the gas people there do not ask them to pay / Such a sum
[Charles Green’s preferred lifting agent was neither hydrogen nor hot air but coal gas.]

190

It is much to be regretted that I have not as yet been able to discover more than a single specimen of my friend “Sucklethumbkin’s” Muse. The event it alludes to, probably the euthanasia of the late Mr. Greenacre, will scarcely have yet faded from the recollection of an admiring public. Although, with the usual diffidence of a man of fashion, Augustus has “sunk” the fact of his own presence on that interesting occasion, I have every reason to believe, that, in describing the party at the auberge hereafter mentioned, he might have said, with a brother Exquisite, “Quorum pars magna fui.”

HON. MR. SUCKLETHUMBKIN’S STORY.
----
The Execution.
A SPORTING ANECDOTE.

MY Lord Tomnoddy got up one day;

It was half after two,

He had nothing to do,

So his Lordship rang for his cabriolet.

Tiger Tim

Was clean of limb,

His boots were polish’d, his jacket was trim;

With a very smart tie in his smart cravat,

And a smart cockade on the top of his hat;

Tallest of boys, or shortest of men,

He stood in his stockings just four foot ten;

And he ask’d, as he held the door on the swing,

“Pray, did your Lordship please to ring?”

My Lord Tomnoddy he raised his head,

And thus to Tiger Tim he said,

“Malibran’s dead,

Duvernay’s fled,

Taglioni has not yet arrived in her stead;

Tiger Tim, come tell me true,

What may a Nobleman find to do?”—

191

Tim look’d up, and Tim look’d down,

He paused, and he put on a thoughtful frown,

And he held up his hat, and he peep’d in the crown;

He bit his lip, and he scratch’d his head,

He let go the handle, and thus he said,

As the door, released, behind him bang’d:

“An’t please you, my Lord, there’s a man to be hang’d.”

My Lord Tomnoddy jump’d up at the news,

“Run to M‘Fuze,

And Lieutenant Tregooze,

And run to Sir Carnaby Jenks, of the Blues.

Rope-dancers a score

I’ve seen before—

Madame Sacchi, Antonio, and Master Black-more;

But to see a man swing

At the end of a string,

With his neck in a noose, will be quite a new thing!”

near-silhouettes: two men in top hats, one lady in a bonnet

My Lord Tomnoddy stept into his cab—

Dark rifle green, with a lining of drab;

Through street and through square,

His high-trotting mare,

Like one of Ducrow’s, goes pawing the air.

Adown Piccadilly and Waterloo Place

Went the high-trotting mare at a very quick pace;

She produced some alarm,

But did no great harm,

Save frightening a nurse with a child on her arm,

Spattering with clay

Two urchins at play.

Knocking down—very much to the sweeper’s dismay—

An old woman who wouldn’t get out of the way,

And upsetting a stall

Near Exeter Hall,

Which made all the pious Church-Mission folks squall.

But eastward afar

Through Temple Bar,

My Lord Tomnoddy directs his car;

Never heeding their squalls,

Or their calls, or their bawls,

He passes by Waithman’s Emporium for shawls,

And, merely just catching a glimpse of St. Paul’s,

Turns down the Old Bailey,

Where in front of the gaol, he

Pulls up at the door of the gin-shop, and gaily

192

Cries, “What must I fork out to-night, my trump,

For the whole first-floor of the Magpie and Stump?”

The clock strikes Twelve—it is dark midnight—

Yet the Magpie and Stump is one blaze of light.

The parties are met;

The tables are set;

There is “punch,” “cold without,” “hot with,” heavy wet,

Ale-glasses and jugs,

And rummers and mugs,

And sand on the floor, without carpets or rugs,

Cold fowl and cigars,

Pickled onions in jars,

Welsh rabbits and kidneys—rare work for the jaws:—

And very large lobsters, with very large claws;

And there is M‘Fuze,

And Lieutenant Tregooze;

And there is Sir Carnaby Jenks, of the Blues,

All come to see a man “die in his shoes!”

The clock strikes One!

Supper is done,

And Sir Carnaby Jenks is full of his fun,

Singing “Jolly companions every one!”

My Lord Tomnoddy

Is drinking gin-toddy,

And laughing at ev’ry thing, and ev’ry body.—

The clock strikes Two! and the clock strikes Three!

—“Who so merry, so merry as we?”

Save Captain M‘Fuze,

Who is taking a snooze,

While Sir Carnaby Jenks is busy at work,

Blacking his nose with a piece of burnt cork.

The clock strikes Four!—

Round the debtors’ door

Are gather’d a couple of thousand or more;

As many await

At the press-yard gate,

Till slowly its folding doors open, and straight

The mob divides, and between their ranks

A waggon comes loaded with posts and with planks.

The clock strikes Five!

The Sheriffs arrive,

And the crowd is so great that the street seems alive;

But Sir Carnaby Jenks

Blinks, and winks,

A candle burns down in the socket, and stinks.

193

Lieutenant Tregooze

Is dreaming of Jews,

And acceptances all the bill-brokers refuse;

My Lord Tomnoddy

Has drunk all his toddy,

And just as the dawn is beginning to peep,

The whole of the party are fast asleep.

Sweetly, oh! sweetly, the morning breaks,

With roseate streaks,

Like the first faint blush on a maiden’s cheeks;

Seem’d as that mild and clear blue sky

Smiled upon all things far and high,

On all—save the wretch condemn’d to die!

Alack! that ever so fair a Sun,

As that which its course has now begun,

Should rise on such a scene of misery!—

Should gild with rays so light and free

That dismal, dark-frowning Gallows-tree!

And hark!—a sound comes, big with fate;

The clock from St. Sepulchre’s tower strikes—Eight!—

List to that low funereal bell:

It is tolling, alas! a living man’s knell!—

And see!—from forth that opening door

They come—He steps that threshold o’er

Who never shall tread upon threshold more!

—God! ’tis a fearsome thing to see

That pale wan man’s mute agony,—

The glare of that wild, despairing eye,

Now bent on the crowd, now turn’d to the sky,

As though ’twere scanning, in doubt and in fear,

The path of the Spirit’s unknown career;

Those pinion’d arms, those hands that ne’er

Shall be lifted again,—not even in prayer;

That heaving chest!—Enough—’tis done!

The bolt has fallen!—The spirit is gone—

For weal or for woe is known but to One!—

—Oh! ’twas a fearsome sight!—Ah me!

A deed to shudder at,—not to see.

194

Again that clock! ’tis time, ’tis time!

The hour is past: with its earliest chime

The cord is severed, the lifeless clay

By “dungeon villains” is borne away:

Nine!—’twas the last concluding stroke!

And then—my Lord Tomnoddy awoke!

And Tregooze and Sir Carnaby Jenks arose,

And Captain M‘Fuze, with the black on his nose:

And they stared at each other, as much as to say,

“Hollo! Hollo!

Here’s a rum Go!

Why, Captain!—my Lord!—Here’s the devil to pay!

The fellow’s been cut down and taken away!

What’s to be done?

We’ve miss’d all the fun!—

Why, they’ll laugh at and quiz us all over the town,

We are all of us done so uncommonly brown!”

What was to be done?—’twas perfectly plain

That they could not well hang the man over again:

What was to be done?—The man was dead!

Nought could be done—nought could be said;

So—my Lord Tomnoddy went home to bed!

Notes and Corrections: The Execution

“The Execution” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. I no. 6 (June 1837) as “Family Stories No. V.—Hon. Mr. Sucklethumbkin’s Story: The Execution: A Sporting Anecdote”.

But Sir Carnaby Jenks / Blinks, and winks,
text has . for final ,

—Oh! ’twas a fearsome sight!—Ah me!
final ! missing

The following communication will speak for itself:—

“On their own actions modest men are dumb!”

Some Account of a New Play,
IN A FAMILIAR EPISTLE TO MY BROTHER-IN-LAW, LIEUT. SEAFORTH, H.P., LATE OF THE HON. E.I.C.’S 2D REGT. OF BOMBAY FENCIBLES.

“The play’s the thing!”—Hamlet.

Tavistock Hotel, Nov. 1839.

Dear Charles,

—In reply to your letter, and Fanny’s,

Lord Brougham, it appears, isn’t dead,—though Queen Anne is;

’Twas a “plot” and a “farce”—you hate farces, you say—

Take another “plot,” then, viz. the plot of the Play.

195

The Countess of Arundel, high in degree,

As a lady possess’d of an earldom in fee,

Was imprudent enough, at fifteen years of age,

—A period of life when we’re not over sage,—

To form a liaison—in fact, to engage

Her hand to a hop-o’-my-thumb of a Page.

This put her Papa—

She had no Mamma—

As may well be supposed, in a deuce of a rage.

Mr. Benjamin Franklin was wont to repeat,

In his budget of proverbs, “Stol’n kisses are sweet!”

But they have their alloy—

Fate assumed, to annoy

Miss Arundel’s peace, and embitter her joy,

The equivocal shape of a fine little Boy.

man in Elizabethan attire stamping his feet

He bounced up and down

When, through “the young stranger,” her secret took wind,

The old Lord was neither “to haud nor to bind.”

He bounced up and down,

And so fearful a frown

Contracted his brow, you’d have thought he’d been blind.

The young lady, they say,

Having fainted away,

Was confined to her room for the whole of that day;

While her beau—no rare thing in the old feudal system—

Disappear’d the next morning, and nobody miss’d him.

The fact is, his Lordship, who hadn’t, it seems,

Form’d the slightest idea, not ev’n in his dreams,

That the pair had been wedded according to law,

Conceived that his daughter had made a faux pas;

So he bribed at a high rate

A sort of a Pirate

To knock out the poor dear young Gentleman’s brains,

And gave him a handsome douceur for his pains.

The Page thus disposed of, his Lordship now turns

His attention at once to the Lady’s concerns;

And, alarm’d for the future,

Looks out for a suitor,

One not fond of raking, nor giv’n to “the pewter,”

But adapted to act both the husband and tutor—

Finds a highly respectable, middle-aged widower,

Marries her off, and thanks Heaven that he’s rid of her.

196

Relieved from his cares,

The old Peer now prepares

To arrange in good earnest his worldly affairs;

Has his will made anew by a Special Attorney,

Sickens,—takes to his bed,—and sets out on his journey.

Which way he travell’d,

Has not been unravell’d;

To speculate much on the point were too curious,

If the climate he reach’d were serene or sulphureous.

To be sure in his balance-sheet all must declare

One item—the Page—was an awkward affair;

But per contra, he’d lately endow’d a new Chantry

For Priests, with ten marks, and the run of the pantry.

Be that as it may,

It’s sufficient to say

That his tomb in the chancel stands there to this day,

Built of Bethersden marble—a dark bluish-grey.

The figure, a fine one of pure alabaster,

Some cleanly churchwarden has cover’d with plaster;

While some Vandal or Jew,

With a taste for virtu,

Has knock’d off his toes, to place, I suppose,

In some Pickwick Museum, with part of his nose;

From his belt and his sword

And his misericorde

The enamel’s been chipp’d out, and never restored;

His ci-gît in old French is inscribed all around,

And his head’s in his helm, and his heel’s on his hound,

The palms of his hands, as if going to pray,

Are joined and upraised o’er his bosom—But stay!

I forgot that his tomb’s not described in the Play!

* * * * *

Lady Arundel, now in her own right a Peeress,

Perplexes her noddle with no such nice queries,

But produces in time, to her husband’s great joy,

Another remarkably “fine little boy.”

As novel connections

Oft change the affections,

And turn all one’s love into different directions,

Now to young “Johnny Newcome” she seems to confine hers,

Neglecting the poor little dear out at dry-nurse;

Nay, far worse than that,

She considers “the brat”

As a bore—fears her husband may smell out a rat.

197

For her legal adviser

She takes an old Miser,

A sort of “poor cousin.” She might have been wiser;

For this arrant deceiver,

By name Maurice Beevor,

A shocking old scamp, should her own issue fail,

By the law of the land stands the next in entail;

So, as soon as she ask’d him to hit on some plan

To provide for her eldest, away the rogue ran

To that self-same unprincipled sea-faring man;

In his ear whisper’d low *   *   *—“Bully Gaussen” said “Done:—

I Burked the papa, now I’ll Bishop the son!”

’Twas agreed; and, with speed

To accomplish the deed,

He adopted a scheme he was sure would succeed.

By long cock-and-bull stories,

Of Candish and Noreys,

Of Drake, and bold Raleigh (then fresh in his glories,

Acquired ’mongst the Indians, and Rapparee Tories),

He so work’d on the lad,

That he left, which was bad,

The only true friend in the world that he had,

Father Onslow, a priest, though to quit him most loth,

Who in childhood had furnish’d his pap and his broth,

At no small risk of scandal, indeed, to his cloth.

The kidnapping crimp,

Took the foolish young imp

On board of his cutter so trim and so jimp,

Then, seizing him just as you’d handle a shrimp,

Twirl’d him thrice in the air with a whirligig motion,

And soused him at once neck and heels in the ocean;

This was off Plymouth Sound

And he must have been drown’d,

For ’twas nonsense to think he could swim to dry ground,

If “A very great Warman,

Call’d Billy the Norman,”

Had not just at that moment sail’d by, outward bound.

A shark of great size,

With his great glassy eyes,

Sheer’d off as he came, and relinquish’d the prize:

So he pick’d up the lad,15 swabb’d and dry-rubb’d, and mopp’d him,

And, having no children, resolv’d to adopt him.

198

Full many a year,

Did he hand, reef, and steer,

And by no means considered himself as small beer,

When old Norman at length died and left him his frigate

With lots of pistoles in his coffer to rig it.

A sailor ne’er moans;

So, consigning the bones

Of his friend to the locker of one Mr. Jones,

For England he steers.—

On the voyage it appears

That he rescued a maid from the Dey of Algiers;

And at length reach’d the Sussex coast, where, in a bay,

Not a great way from Brighton, most cosey-ly lay

His vessel at anchor, the very same day

That the Poet begins—thus commencing his play:

ship being boarded by pirates

He rescued a maid from the Dey of Algiers

Act I.

Giles Gaussen accosts old Sir Maurice de Beevor,

And puts the poor Knight in a deuce of a fever,

By saying the boy, whom he took out to please him,

Is come back a Captain on purpose to tease him.—

Sir Maurice, who gladly would see Mr. Gaussen

Breaking stones on the highway, or sweeping a crossing,

Dissembles—observes, It’s of no use to fret,—

And hints he may find some more work for him yet;

Then calls at the castle, and tells Lady A.

That the boy they had ten years ago sent away

Is return’d a grown man, and, to come to the point,

Will put her son Percy’s nose clean out of joint;

But adds, that herself she no longer need vex,

If she’ll buy him (Sir Maurice) a farm near the Ex.

“Oh! take it,” she cries; “but secure every document.”—

“A bargain,” says Maurice,—“including the stock you meant?”—

199

The Captain, meanwhile,

With a lover-like smile,

And a fine cambric handkerchief, wipes off the tears

From Miss Violet’s eyelash, and hushes her fears.

(That’s the Lady he sav’d from the Dey of Algiers.)

Now arises a delicate point, and this is it—

The young Lady herself is but down on a visit.

She’s perplex’d; and, in fact,

Does not know how to act.

It’s her very first visit—and then to begin

By asking a stranger—a gentleman, in—

One with mustaches too—and a tuft on his chin—

She “really don’t know—

He had much better go,”—

Here the Countess steps in from behind, and says “No!—

Fair sir, you are welcome. Do, pray, stop and dine—

You’ll take our pot-luck—and we’ve decentish wine.”

He bows, looks at Miss,—and he does not decline.

Act II.

After dinner the Captain recounts, with much glee,

All he’s heard, seen, and done since he first went to sea,

All his perils and scrapes,

And his hair-breadth escapes,

Talks of boa-constrictors, and lions, and apes,

And fierce “Bengal Tigers,” like that which, you know,

If you’ve ever seen any respectable “Show,”

“Carried off the unfortunate Mr. Munro.”

Then, diverging awhile, he adverts to the mystery

Which hangs, like a cloud, o’er his own private history—

How he ran off to sea—how they set him afloat

(Not a word, though, of barrel or bung-hole—See Note),

How he happen’d to meet

With the Algerine fleet,

And forc’d them, by sheer dint of arms to retreat,

Thus saving his Violet—(One of his feet

Here just touch’d her toe, and she moved on her seat),—

How his vessel was battered—

In short he so chatter’d,

Now lively, now serious, so ogled and flatter’d,

That the ladies much marvell’d a person should be able

To “make himself,” both said, “so very agreeable.”

200

Captain Norman’s adventures were scarcely half done

When Percy Lord Ashdale, her ladyship’s son,

In a terrible fume,

Bounces into the room,

And talks to his guest as you’d talk to your groom,

Claps his hand on his rapier, and swears he’ll be through him—

The Captain does nothing at all but “pooh! pooh!” him—

Unable to smother

His hate of his brother,

He rails at his cousin, and blows up his mother.—

“Fie! fie!” says the first.—Says the latter, “In sooth,

This is sharper by far than a keen serpent’s tooth!”

(A remark, by the way, which King Lear had made years ago,

When he ask’d for his Knights, and his Daughters said, “Here’s a go!”)—

This made Ashdale ashamed;

But he must not be blamed

Too much for his warmth, for like many young fellows he

Was apt to lose temper when tortur’d by jealousy.

Still speaking quite gruff,

He goes off in a huff;

Lady A., who is now what some call “up to snuff,”

Straight determines to patch

Up a clandestine match

Between the Sea-Captain she dreads like Old Scratch,

And Miss,—whom she does not think any great catch

For Ashdale;—besides, he won’t kick up such shindies

Were she once fairly married and off to the Indies.

Act III.

Miss Violet takes from the Countess her tone:

She agrees to meet Norman “by moonlight alone,”

And slip off to his bark,

“The night being dark,”

Though “the moon,” the Sea-Captain says, rises in Heaven

“One hour before midnight,” i.e. at eleven.

From which speech I infer,

—Though perhaps I may err—

That, though weatherwise, doubtless, midst surges and surf, he

When “capering on shore,” was by no means a Murphy.

He starts off, however, at sunset to reach

An old chapel in ruins, that stands on the beach,

201

Where the Priest is to bring, as he’s promised by letter a

Paper to prove his name, “birthright,” etc.

Being rather too late,

Gaussen, lying in wait,

Gives poor Father Onslow a knock on the pate,

But bolts, seeing Norman, before he has wrested

From the hand of the Priest, as Sir Maurice requested,

The marriage certificate duly attested.—

Norman kneels by the clergyman fainting and gory,

And begs he won’t die till he’s told him his story;

The Father complies,

Re-opens his eyes,

And tells him all how and about it—and dies!

Act IV.

Norman, now call’d Le Mesnil, instructed of all,

Goes back, though it’s getting quite late for a call,

Hangs his hat and his cloak on a peg in the hall,

And tells the proud Countess it’s useless to smother

The fact any longer—he knows she’s his Mother!

His Pa’s wedded Spouse.—

She questions his νους,

And threatens to have him turn’d out of the house.—

He still perseveres,

Till, in spite of her fears,

She admits he’s the son she had cast off for years,

And he gives her the papers “all blister’d with tears,”

When Ashdale, who chances his nose in to poke,

Takes his hat and his cloak,

Just as if in a joke,

Determined to put in his wheel a new spoke,

And slips off thus disguised, when he sees by the dial it

’s time for the rendezvous fixed with Miss Violet.—

—Captain Norman, who, after all, feels rather sore

At his mother’s reserve, vows to see her no more,

Rings the bell for the servant to open the door,

And leaves his Mamma in a fit on the floor.

Act V.

Now comes the catastrophe!—Ashdale, who’s wrapt in

The cloak, with the hat and the plume of the Captain,

202

Leads Violet down through the grounds to the chapel

Where Gaussen’s conceal’d—he springs forward to grapple

The man he’s erroneously led to suppose

Captain Norman himself by the cut of his clothes.

In the midst of their strife,

And just as the knife

Of the Pirate is raised to deprive him of life,

The Captain comes forward, drawn there by the squeals

Of the Lady, and, knocking Giles head over heels,

Fractures his “nob,”

Saves the hangman a job,

And executes justice most strictly, the rather,

’Twas the spot where that rascal had murder’d his father.

Then in comes the mother,

Who, finding one brother

Had the instant before saved the life of the other,

Explains the whole case.

Ashdale puts a good face

On the matter; and, since he’s obliged to give place,

Yields his coronet up with a pretty good grace;

Norman vows he won’t have it—the kinsmen embrace,—

And the Captain, the first in this generous race,

To remove every handle

For gossip and scandal,

Sets the whole of the papers alight with the candle;

An arrangement takes place—on the very same night, all

Is settled and done, and the points the most vital

Are, N. takes the personals;—A., in requital.

Keeps the whole real property, Mansion, and Title.—

V. falls to the share of the Captain, and tries a

Sea-voyage, as a Bride, in the “Royal Eliza.”—

Both are pleased with the part they acquire as joint heirs,

And old Maurice Beevor is bundled downstairs!

MORAL.

The public, perhaps, with the drama might quarrel

If deprived of all epilogue, prologue, and moral;

This may serve for all three then:—

“Young Ladies of property,

Let Lady A.’s history serve as a stopper t’ye;

Don’t wed with low people beneath your degree,

And if you’ve a baby, don’t send it to sea!

203

“Young Noblemen! shun everything like a brawl;

And be sure when you dine out, or go to a ball,

Don’t take the best hat that you find in the hall,

And leave one in its stead that’s worth nothing at all!

“Old Knights, don’t give bribes!—above all, never urge a man

To steal people’s things, or to stick an old Clergyman!

“And you, ye Sea-Captains! who’ve nothing to do

But to run round the world, fight, and drink till all’s blue,

And tell us tough yarns, and then swear they are true,

Reflect, notwithstanding your sea-faring life,

That you can’t get on well long, without you’ve a wife;

So get one at once, treat her kindly and gently,

Write a nautical novel,—and send it to Bentley!”

15

An incident very like one in Jack Sheppard—

A work some have lauded, and others have pepper’d—

Where a Dutch pirate kidnaps, and tosses Thames Darrel

Just so in the sea, and he’s saved by a barrel,—

On the coast, if I recollect rightly, it’s flung whole,

And the hero, half drown’d, scrambles out of the bung-hole.

[It ain’t no sich thing!—the hero ain’t bung’d in no barrel at all.—He’s picked up by a captain, just as Norman was arterwards.—Print. Dev.]

Notes and Corrections: Some Account of a New Play

“Some Account of a New Play” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. VI no. 6 (December 1839). The subtitle says “his brother-in-law” to go with the third-person author credit.

Claps his hand on his rapier, and swears he’ll be through him—
text has And swears
[For some reason the printer thought this single line was a couplet, which it obviously isn’t.]

It has been already hinted that Mr. Peters had been a “traveller” in his day. The only story which his lady would ever allow “her P.” to finish—he began as many as would furnish an additional volume to the “Thousand and One Nights”—is the last I shall offer. The subject, I fear me, is not over new, but will remind my friends

“Of something better they have seen before.”

group of puppies

MR. PETERS’S STORY.
----
The Bagman’s Dog.

Stant littore Puppies!—Virgil.

IT was a litter, a litter of five,

Four are drown’d, and one left alive,

He was thought worthy alone to survive,

And the Bagman resolved upon bringing him up,

To eat of his bread and drink of his cup,

He was such a dear little cock-tail’d pup!

204

The Bagman taught him many a trick;

He would carry, and fetch, and run after a stick,

Could well understand

The word of command,

And appear to doze

With a crust on his nose

Till the Bagman permissively waved his hand:

Then to throw up and catch it he never would fail,

As he sat up on end, on his little cock-tail.

Never was puppy so bien instruit,

Or possess’d of such natural talent as he;

And as he grew older,

Every beholder

Agreed he grew handsomer, sleeker, and bolder.—

Time, however his wheels we may clog,

Wends steadily still with onward jog,

And the cock-tail’d puppy’s a curly-tail’d dog!

When, just at the time

He was reaching his prime,

And all thought he’d be turning out something sublime,

One unlucky day,

How, no one could say.

Whether soft liaison induced him to stray,

Or some kidnapping vagabond coax’d him away,

He was lost to the view,

Like the morning dew;—

He had been, and was not—that’s all that they knew.

And the Bagman storm’d, and the Bagman swore

As never a Bagman had sworn before;

But storming or swearing but little avails

To recover lost dogs with great curly tails.—

In a large paved court, close by Billiter Square,

Stands a mansion, old, but in thorough repair,

The only thing strange, from the general air

Of its size and appearance, is how it got there;

In front is a short semicircular stair

Of stone steps,—some half score,—

Then you reach the ground floor,

With a shell-pattern’d architrave over the door.

It is spacious, and seems to be built on the plan

Of a Gentleman’s house in the reign of Queen Anne:

205

Which is odd, for, although,

As we very well know,

Under Tudors and Stuarts the City could show

Many Noblemen’s seats above Bridge and below,

Yet that fashion soon after induced them to go

From St. Michael Cornhill, and St. Mary-le-Bow,

To St. James, and St. George, and St. Anne in Soho.—

Be this as it may,—at the date I assign

To my tale,—that’s about Seventeen Sixty Nine,—

This mansion, now rather upon the decline,

Had less dignified owners,—belonging, in fine,

To Turner, Dry, Weipersyde, Rogers, and Pyne—

A respectable House in the Manchester line.

There were a score

Of Bagmen, and more,

Who had travell’d full oft for the firm before;

But just at this period they wanted to send

Some person on whom they could safely depend—

A trustworthy body, half agent, half friend,—

On some mercantile matter as far as Ostend;

And the person they pitch’d on was Anthony Blogg,

A grave, steady man, not addicted to grog,—

The Bagman, in short, who had lost this great dog.

“The Sea! the Sea! the open Sea!—

That is the place where we all wish to be,

Rolling about on it merrily!”—

So all sing and say

By night and by day,

In the boudoir, the street, at the concert, and play,

In a sort of coxcombical roundelay;—

You may roam through the City, transversely or straight,

From Whitechapel turnpike to Cumberland gate,

And every young Lady who thrums a guitar,

Ev’ry mustachio’d Shopman who smokes a cigar,

With affected devotion,

Promulgates his notion,

Of being a “Rover” and “child of the Ocean”—

Whate’er their age, sex, or condition may be,

They all of them long for the “Wide, Wide Sea!”

206

But, however they dote,

Only set them afloat

In any craft bigger at all than a boat,

Take them down to the Nore,

And you’ll see that, before

The “Wessel” they “Woyage” in has made half her way

Between Shell-Ness Point and the pier at Heme Bay,

Let the wind meet the tide in the slightest degree,

They’ll be all of them heartily sick of “the Sea!”

I’ve stood in Margate, on a bridge of size

Inferior far to that described by Byron,

Where “palaces and pris’ns on each hand rise,”—

—That too’s a stone one, this is made of iron—

And little donkey-boys your steps environ,

Each proffering for your choice his tiny hack,

Vaunting its excellence; and, should you hire one,

For sixpence, will he urge, with frequent thwack.

The much-enduring beast to Buenos Ayres—and back.

And there, on many a raw and gusty day,

I’ve stood, and turn’d my gaze upon the pier,

And seen the crews, that did embark so gay

That self-same morn, now disembark so queer;

Then to myself I’ve sigh’d and said, “Oh dear!

Who would believe yon sickly-looking man’s a

London Jack Tar,—a Cheapside Buccaneer!”—

But hold, my Muse!—for this terrific stanza

Is all too stiffly grand for our Extravaganza.

“So now we’ll go up, up, up,

And now we’ll go down, down, down,

And now we’ll go backwards and forwards,

And now we’ll go roun’, roun’, roun’.”—

—I hope you’ve sufficient discernment to see,

Gentle Reader, that here the discarding the d

Is a fault which you must not attribute to me,

Thus my Nurse cut it off when, “with counterfeit glee,”

She sung, as she danced me about on her knee,

207

In the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and three:—

All I mean to say is, that the Muse is now free

From the self-imposed trammels put on by her betters,

And no longer like Filch, midst the felons and debtors

At Drury Lane, dances her hornpipe in fetters.

Resuming her track,

At once she goes back

To our hero, the Bagman.—Alas! and Alack!

Poor Anthony Blogg

Is as sick as a dog,

Spite of sundry unwonted potations of grog,

By the time the Dutch packet is fairly at sea,

With the sands called the Goodwin’s a league on her lee.

And now, my good friends, I’ve a fine opportunity

To obfuscate you all by sea terms with impunity,

And talking of “caulking,”

And “quarter-deck walking,”

“Fore and aft,”

And “abaft,”

“Hookers,” “barkeys,” and “craft”

(At which Mr. Poole has so wickedly laught),

Of binnacles,—bilboes,—the boom call’d the spanker,

The best bower cable,—the jib,—and sheet anchor;

Of lower-deck guns,—and of broadsides and chases,

Of taffrails and topsails, and splicing main-braces,

And “Shiver my timbers!” and other odd phrases

Employ’d by old pilots with hard-featured faces;—

Of the expletives sea-faring Gentlemen use,

The allusions they make to the eyes of their crews;—

How the Sailors, too, swear,

How they cherish their hair,

And what very long pigtails a great many wear.—

But, Reader, I scorn it—the fact is, I fear,

To be candid, I can’t make these matters so clear

As Marryat, or Cooper, or Captain Chamier,

Or Sir E. Lytton Bulwer, who brought up the rear

Of the “Nauticals,” just at the end of the year

Eighteen thirty-nine—(how Time flies!—Oh, dear!)—

With a well-written preface, to make it appear

That his play, the “Sea-Captain,” ’s by no means small beer.

208

There!—“brought up the rear”—you see there’s a mistake

Which none of the authors I’ve mentioned would make,

I ought to have said, that he “sail’d in their wake.”—

So I’ll merely observe, as the water grew rougher

The more my poor hero continued to suffer,

Till the Sailors themselves cried, in pity, “Poor Buffer!”

Still rougher it grew,

And still harder it blew,

And the thunder kick’d up such a halliballoo,

That even the Skipper began to look blue;

While the crew, who were few,

Look’d very queer, too.

And seem’d not to know what exactly to do,

And they who’d the charge of them wrote in the logs,

“Wind N.E.—blows a hurricane—rains cats and dogs.”

In short it soon grew to a tempest as rude as

That Shakspeare describes near the “still vext Bermudas.”16

When the winds, in their sport,

Drove aside from its port

The King’s ship, with the whole Neapolitan Court,

And swamp’d it to give “the King’s Son, Ferdinand,” a

Soft moment or two with the Lady Miranda,

While her Pa met the rest, and severely rebuked ’em

For unhandsomely doing him out of his Dukedom.

You don’t want me, however, to paint you a Storm,

As so many have done, and in colours so warm:

Lord Byron, for instance, in manner facetious,

Mr. Ainsworth more gravely,—see also Lucretius,

—A writer who gave me no trifling vexation

When a youngster at school on Dean Colet’s foundation.—

Suffice it to say

That the whole of that day,

And the next, and the next, they were scudding away

Quite out of their course,

Propell’d by the force

Of those flatulent folks known in Classical story as

Aquilo, Libs, Notus, Auster, and Boreas,

Driven quite at their mercy

’Twixt Guernsey and Jersey,

Till at length they came bump on the rocks and the shallows,

In West longitude, One, fifty-seven, near St. Maloes;

There you will not be surprised

That the vessel capsized,

209

Or that Blogg, who had made, from intestine commotions,

His specifical gravity less than the Ocean’s,

Should go floating away,

Midst the surges and spray,

Like a cork in a gutter, which, swoln by a shower,

Runs down Holborn-hill about nine knots an hour.

You’ve seen, I’ve no doubt, at Bartholomew fair,

Gentle Reader,—that is, if you’ve ever been there,—

With their hands tied behind them, some two or three pair

Of boys round a bucket set up on a chair,

Skipping, and dipping

Eyes, nose, chin, and lip in,

Their faces and hair with the water all dripping,

In an anxious attempt to catch hold of a pippin,

That bobs up and down in the water whenever

They touch it, as mocking the fruitless endeavour;

Exactly as Poets say,—how, though, they can’t tell us,—

Old Nick’s Nonpareils play at bob with poor Tantalus.

—Stay!—I’m not clear,

But I’m rather out here;

’Twas the water itself that slipp’d from him, I fear;

Faith, I can’t recollect—and I haven’t Lempriere.—

No matter,—poor Blogg went on ducking and bobbing,

Sneezing out the salt water, and gulping and sobbing,

Just as Clarence, in Shakspeare, describes all the qualms he

Experienced while dreaming they’d drown’d him in Malmsey.

“O Lord,” he thought, “what pain it was to drown!”

And saw great fishes with great goggling eyes,

Glaring as he was bobbing up and down,

And looking as they thought him quite a prize;

When, as he sank, and all was growing dark,

A something seized him with its jaws!—a shark?—

No such thing, Reader:—most opportunely for Blogg,

’Twas a very large, web-footed, curly-tail’d Dog!

man sinking into the river, surrounded by fish and skates

Poor Blogg went on bobbing and ducking

I’m not much of a trav’ller, and really can’t boast

That I know a great deal of the Brittany coast.

But I’ve often heard say

That e’en to this day,

210

The people of Granville, St. Maloes, and thereabout

Are a class that society doesn’t much care about;

Men who gain a subsistence by contraband dealing,

And a mode of abstraction strict people call “stealing;”

Notwithstanding all which, they are civil of speech,

Above all to a stranger who comes within reach;

And they were so to Blogg

When the curly-tail’d Dog

At last dragg’d him out, high and dry on the beach.

But we all have been told,

By the proverb of old.

By no means to think “all that glitters is gold;”

And, in fact, some advance

That most people in France

Join the manners and air of a Maître de Danse,

To the morals—(as Johnson of Chesterfield said)—

Of an elderly Lady, in Babylon bred,

Much addicted to flirting, and dressing in red.—

Be this as it might,

It embarrass’d Blogg quite

To find those about him so very polite.

A suspicious observer perhaps might have traced

The petites soins, tendered with so much good taste,

To the sight of an old-fashioned pocket-book, placed

In a black leather belt well secured round his waist,

And a ring set with diamonds, his finger that graced,

So brilliant no one could have guess’d they were paste.

The group on the shore

Consisted of four;

You will wonder, perhaps, there were not a few more;

But the fact is they’ve not, in that part of the nation,

What Malthus would term, a “too dense population,”

Indeed the sole sign there of man’s habitation

Was merely a single

Rude hut in a dingle

That led away inland direct from the shingle,

Its sides clothed with underwood, gloomy and dark,

Some two hundred yards above high-water mark;

And thither the party,

So cordial and hearty,

Viz., an old man, his wife, and two lads, made a start, he

The Bagman, proceeding,

With equal good breeding,

To express, in indifferent French all he feels,

The great curly-tail’d Dog keeping close to his heels.—

211

They soon reach’d the hut, which seem’d partly in ruin,

All the way bowing, chattering, shrugging, Mon Dieuing,

Grimacing, and what sailors call parley-vooing.

Is it Paris, or Kitchener, Reader, exhorts

You, whenever your stomach’s at all out of sorts,

To try, if you find richer viands won’t stop in it,

A basin of good mutton broth with a chop in it?

(Such a basin and chop as I once heard a witty one

Call, at the Garrick, a “c—d Committee one,”

An expression, I own, I do not think a pretty one.)

However, it’s clear

That, with sound table beer,

Such a mess as I speak of is very good cheer;

Especially too

When a person’s wet through,

And is hungry, and tired, and don’t know what to do.

Now just such a mess of delicious hot pottage

Was smoking away when they enter’d the cottage,

And casting a truly delicious perfume

Through the whole of an ugly, old, ill-furnish’d room;

“Hot, smoking hot,”

On the fire was a pot

Well replenish’d, but really I can’t say with what;

For, famed as the French always are for ragouts,

No creature can tell what they put in their stews,

Whether bull-frogs, old gloves, or old wigs, or old shoes

Notwithstanding, when offer’d I rarely refuse,

Any more than poor Blogg did, when, seeing the reeky

Repast placed before him, scarce able to speak, he

In ecstasy muttered “By Jove, Cocky-leeky!”

In an instant, as soon

As they gave him a spoon,

Every feeling and faculty bent on the gruel, he

No more blamed Fortune for treating him cruelly,

But fell tooth and nail on the soup and the bouilli.

Meanwhile that old man standing by

Subducted his long coat-tails on high,

With his back to the fire, as if to dry

212

A part of his dress which the watery sky

Had visited rather inclemently.—

Blandly he smiled, but still he looked sly,

And a something sinister lurk’d in his eye.

Indeed, had you seen him his maritime dress in,

You’d have own’d his appearance was not prepossessing;

He’d a “dreadnought” coat, and heavy sabots

With thick wooden soles turned up at the toes,

His nether man cased in a striped quelque chose,

And a hump on his back, and a great hook’d nose,

So that nine out of ten would be led to suppose

That the person before them was Punch in plain clothes.

Yet still, as I told you, he smiled on all present,

And did all that lay in his power to look pleasant.

The old woman, too,

Made a mighty ado,

Helping her guest to a deal of the stew;

She fish’d up the meat, and she help’d him to that,

She help’d him to lean, and she help’d him to fat,

And it look’d like Hare—but it might have been Cat.

The little garçons too strove to express

Their sympathy towards the “Child of distress”

With a great deal of juvenile French politesse:

But the Bagman bluff

Continued to “stuff”

Of the fat, and the lean, and the tender and tough,

Till they thought he would never cry “Hold, enough!”

And the old woman’s tones became far less agreeable,

Sounding like peste! and sacre! and diable!

I’ve seen an old saw, which is well worth repeating,

That says,

Good Eatynge

Deserveth good Drynkynge.

You’ll find it so printed by Caxton or Wynkyn,

And a very good proverb it is to my thinking.

Blogg thought so too;—

As he finished his stew,

His ear caught the sound of the word “Morbleu!

Pronounced by the old woman under her breath.

Now, not knowing what she could mean by “Blue Death!”

213

He conceived she referr’d to a delicate brewing

Which is almost synonymous,—namely, “Blue Ruin.”

So he pursed up his lip to a smile, and with glee,

In his cockneyfy’d accent, responded, “Oh, Vee!

Which made her understand he

Was asking for brandy;

So she turn’d to the cupboard, and, having some handy,

Produced, rightly deeming he would not object to it,

An orbicular bulb with a very long neck to it;

In fact you perceive her mistake was the same as his,

Each of them “reasoning right from wrong premises;”

—And here by the way,

Allow me to say,

Kind Reader, you sometimes permit me to stray—

’Tis strange the French prove, when they take to aspersing,

So inferior to us in the science of cursing;

Kick a Frenchman down stairs,

How absurdly he swears,

And how odd ’tis to hear him, when beat to a jelly,

Roar out, in a passion, “Blue Death!” and “Blue Belly!”

“To return to our sheep” from this little digression:—

Blogg’s features assumed a complacent expression

As he emptied his glass, and she gave him a fresh one;

Too little he heeded,

How fast they succeeded.

Perhaps you or I might have done, though, as he did;

For when once Madam Fortune deals out her hard raps,

It’s amazing to think,

How one “cottons” to Drink!

At such times, of all things in nature, perhaps,

There’s not one that is half so seducing as Schnaps.

Mr. Blogg, besides being uncommonly dry,

Was, like most other Bagmen, remarkably shy,

—“Did not like to deny”—

“Felt obliged to comply”

Every time that she asked him to “wet t’other eye:”

For ’twas worthy remark that she spared not the stoup,

Though before she had seem’d so to grudge him the soup.

At length the fumes rose

To his brain; and his nose

Gave hints of a strong disposition to doze.

And a yearning to seek “horizontal repose.”—

214

His queer-looking host,

Who, firm at his post,

During all the long meal had continued to toast

That garment ’twere rude to

Do more than allude to,

Perceived, from his breathing and nodding, the views

Of his guest were directed to “taking a snooze:”

So he caught up a lamp in his huge dirty paw,

With (as Blogg used to tell it) “Mounseer, swivvy maw!

And “marshall’d” him so

“The way he should go,”

Upstairs to an attic, large, gloomy, and low,

Without table or chair,

Or a moveable there,

Save an old-fashion’d bedstead, much out of repair,

That stood at the end most remov’d from the stair.—

With a grin and a shrug

The host points to the rug,

Just as much as to say, “There!—I think you’ll be snug!”

Puts the light on the floor,

Walks to the door,

Makes a formal Salaam, and is then seen no more:

When just as the ear lost the sound of his tread,

To the Bagman’s surprise, and, at first, to his dread,

The great curly-tail’d Dog crept from under the bed!—

—It’s a very nice thing when a man’s in a fright,

And thinks matters all wrong, to find matters all right;

As, for instance, when going home late-ish at night

Through a Churchyard, and seeing a thing all in white,

Which, of course, one is led to consider a Sprite,

To find that the Ghost

Is merely a post,

Or a miller, or chalky-faced donkey at most;

Or, when taking a walk as the evenings begin

To close, or, as some people call it, “draw in,”

And some undefined form, “looming large” through the haze,

Presents itself, right in your path, to your gaze,

Inducing a dread

Of a knock on the head,

Or a sever’d carotid, to find that, instead

Of one of those ruffians who murder and fleece men,

It’s your uncle, or one of the “Rural Policemen;”—

Then the blood flows again

Through artery and vein;

You’re delighted with what just before gave you pain:

215

You laugh at your fears—and your friend in the fog

Meets a welcome as cordial as Anthony Blogg

Now bestow’d on his friend—the great curly-tail’d Dog.

For the Dog leap’d up, and his paws found a place

On each side his neck in a canine embrace,

And he lick’d Blogg’s hands, and he lick’d his face,

And he waggled his tail as much as to say,

“Mr. Blogg, we’ve foregather’d before to-day!”

And the Bagman saw, as he now sprang up,

What, beyond all doubt,

He might have found out

Before, had he not been so eager to sup,

’Twas Sancho!—the Dog he had rear’d from a pup!—

The Dog who when sinking had seized his hair,—

The Dog who had saved, and conducted him there,—

The Dog he had lost out of Billiter Square!!

It’s passing sweet,

An absolute treat,

When friends, long sever’d by distance, meet,—

With what warmth and affection each other they greet!

Especially too, as we very well know,

If there seems any chance of a little cadeau,

A “Present from Brighton,” or “Token” to show,

In the shape of a work-box, ring, bracelet, or so,

That our friends don’t forget us, although they may go

To Ramsgate, or Rome, or Fernando Po.

If some little advantage seems likely to start,

From a fifty-pound note to a two-penny tart,

It’s surprising to see how it softens the heart,

And you’ll find those whose hopes from the other are strongest,

Use, in common, endearments the thickest and longest.

But, it was not so here;

For although it is clear,

When abroad, and we have not a single friend near,

E’en a cur that will love us becomes very dear,

And the balance of interest ’twixt him and the Dog

Of course was inclining to Anthony Blogg,

Yet he, first of all, ceased

To encourage the beast,

Perhaps thinking “Enough is as good as a feast;”

216

And besides, as we’ve said, being sleepy and mellow,

He grew tired of patting, and crying “Poor fellow!”

So his smile by degrees harden’d into a frown,

And his “That’s a good dog!” into “Down, Sancho! down!”

But nothing could stop his mute fav’rite’s caressing,

Who, in fact, seemed resolved to prevent his undressing,

Using paws, tail, and head,

As if he had said,

“Most beloved of masters, pray, don’t go to bed;

You had much better sit up, and pat me instead!”

Nay, at last, when determined to take some repose,

Blogg threw himself down on the outside the clothes,

Spite of all he could do,

The dog jump’d up too,

And kept him awake with his very cold nose;

Scratching and whining,

And moaning and pining,

Till Blogg really believed he must have some design in

Thus breaking his rest; above all, when at length

The dog scratch’d him off from the bed by sheer strength.

Extremely annoyed by the “tarnation whop,” as it

’s call’d in Kentuck, on his head and its opposite,

Blogg showed fight;

When he saw, by the light

Of the flickering candle, that had not yet quite

Burnt down in the socket, though not over bright,

Certain dark-colour’d stains, as of blood newly spilt,

Reveal’d by the dog’s having scratch’d off the quilt,—

Which hinted a story of horror and guilt!—

’Twas “no mistake,”—

He was “wide awake”

In an instant; for, when only decently drunk,

Nothing sobers a man so completely as “funk.”

And hark!—what’s that?—

They have got into chat

In the kitchen below—what the deuce are they at?—

There’s the ugly old fisherman scolding his wife—

And she—by the Pope! she’s whetting a knife!—

At each twist

Of her wrist,

And her great mutton fist,

The edge of the weapon sounds shriller and louder!—

The fierce kitchen fire

Had not made Blogg perspire

Half so much, or a dose of the best James’s powder.—

217

It ceases—all’s silent!—and now, I declare

There’s somebody crawls up that rickety stair.

The horrid old ruffian comes, cat-like, creeping;—

He opens the door just sufficient to peep in,

And sees, as he fancies, the Bagman sleeping!

For Blogg, when he’d once ascertain’d that there was some

“Precious mischief” on foot, had resolv’d to play “Possum;”—

Down he went, legs and head,

Flat on the bed,

Apparently sleeping as sound as the dead;

While, though none who look’d at him would think such a thing,

Every nerve in his frame was braced up for a spring.

Then, just as the villain

Crept, stealthily still, in,

And you’d not have insured his guest’s life for a shilling,

As the knife gleam’d on high, bright and sharp as a razor,

Blogg, starting upright, “tipped” the fellow “a facer;”—

—Down went man and weapon.—Of all sorts of blows,

From what Mr. Jackson reports, I suppose

There are few that surpass a flush hit on the nose.

Now had I the pen of old Ossian or Homer

(Though each of these names some pronounce a misnomer,

And say the first person

Was call’d James M‘Pherson,

While, as to the second, they stoutly declare

He was no one knows who, and born no one knows where).

Or had I the quill of Pierce Egan, a writer

Acknowledged the best theoretical fighter

For the last twenty years,

By the lively young Peers,

Who, doffing their coronets, collars, and ermine, treat

Boxers to “Max,” at the One Tun in Jermyn Street;—

—I say, could I borrow these Gentlemen’s Muses,

More skilled than my meek one in “fibbings” and bruises,

I’d describe now to you

As “prime a Set-to,”

And “regular turn-up,” as ever you knew;

Not inferior in “bottom” to aught you have read of

Since Cribb, years ago, half knock’d Molyneux’s head off.

218

But my dainty Urania says, “Such things are shocking!”

Lace mittens she loves,

Detesting “The Gloves;”

And turning, with air most disdainfully mocking,

From Melpomene’s buskin, adopts the silk stocking.

So, as far as I can see,

I must leave you to “fancy”

The thumps and the bumps, and the ups and the downs,

And the taps, and the slaps, and the raps on the crowns,

That pass’d ’twixt the Husband, Wife, Bagman, and Dog,

As Blogg rolled over them, and they roll’d over Blogg;

While what’s called “The Claret”

Flew over the garret:

Merely stating the fact,

As each other they whack’d,

The Dog his old master most gallantly back’d;

Making both the garçons, who came running in, sheer off,

With “Hippolyte’s” thumb, and “Alphonse’s” left ear off;

Next, making a stoop on

The buffeting group on

The floor, rent in tatters the old woman’s jupon;

Then the old man turn’d up, and a fresh bite of Sancho’s

Tore out the whole seat of his striped Calimancoes.—

Really, which way

This desperate fray

Might have ended at last, I’m not able to say,

The dog keeping thus the assassins at bay:

But a few fresh arrivals decided the day;

For bounce went the door,

In came half a score

Of the passengers, sailors, and one or two more

Who had aided the party in gaining the shore!

It’s a great many years ago—mine then were few—

Since I spent a short time in old Courageux;

I think that they say

She had been, in her day,

A First-rate,—but was then what they termed a Rasée,—

And they took me on board in the Downs, where she lay.

(Captain Wilkinson held the command, by the way).

In her I pick’d up, on that single occasion,

The little I know that concerns Navigation,

And obtained, inter alia, some vague information

Of a practice which often, in cases of robbing,

Is adopted on shipboard—I think it’s call’d “cobbing.”

How it’s managed exactly I really can’t say,

219

But I think that a boot-jack is brought into play—

That is, if I’m right:—it exceeds my ability

To tell how ’tis done;

But the system is one

Of which Sancho’s exploit would increase the facility,

And, from all I can learn, I’d much rather be robb’d

Of the little I have in my purse, than be “cobb’d;”—

That’s mere matter of taste:

But the Frenchman was plac’d—

I mean the old scoundrel whose actions we’ve traced—

In such a position, that, on this unmasking,

His consent was the last thing the men thought of asking.

The old woman, too,

Was obliged to go through,

With her boys, the rough discipline used by the crew,

Who, before they let one of the set see the back of them,

“Cobb’d” the whole party,—ay, “every man Jack of them.”

MORAL.

And now. Gentle Reader, before that I say

Farewell for the present, and wish you good day,

Attend to the moral I draw from my lay!—

If ever you travel, like Anthony Blogg,

Be wary of strangers!—don’t take too much grog!

And don’t fall asleep, if you should, like a hog!—

Above all—carry with you a curly-tail’d Dog!

Lastly, don’t act like Blogg, who, I say it with blushing,

Sold Sancho next month for two guineas at Flushing;

But still on these words of the Bard keep a fix’d eye,

Ingratum si dixeris, omnia dixti!!!

L’Envoye.

I felt so disgusted with Blogg, from sheer shame of him

I never once thought to inquire what became of him;

If you want to know, Reader, the way, I opine,

To achieve your design,—

—Mind it’s no wish of mine,—

Is,—(a penny will do ’t)—by addressing a line

To Turner, Dry, Weipersyde, Rogers, and Pyne.

220
APPENDIX.17

Since penning this stanza, a learn’d Antiquary

Has put my poor Muse in no trifling quandary,

By writing an essay to prove that he knows a

Spot which, in truth is,

The real “Bermoothes,”

In the Mediterranean,—now called Lampedosa;

—For proofs, having made, as he farther alleges, stir,

An entry was found in the old Parish Register,

The which at his instance the excellent Vicar ex-

tracted: viz. “Caliban, base son of Sycorax.”

—He had rather, by half,

Have found Prospero’s “Staff;”

But ’twas useless to dig, for the want of a pick or axe.—

Colonel Pasley, however, ’tis everywhere said,

Now he’s blown up the old Royal George at Spithead,

And the great cliff at Dover, of which we’ve all read,

Takes his whole apparatus, and goes out to look

And see if he can’t try and blow up “the Book.”

—Gentle Reader, farewell!—If I add one more line,

“He’ll be, in all likelihood, blowing up mine!

16 See Appendix, p. 220.

17 See page 208.

Notes and Corrections: The Bagman’s Dog

“Mr. Peters’s Story: The Bagman’s Dog” originally appeared in Bentley’s Miscellany Vol. VII no. 3 (March 1840). Although the overall order of Legends in the book doesn’t coincide with original publication order, this was the last Bentley’s selection to make it into the First Series. The two from later in Volume VII will appear in the Second Series.

Although the Appendix itself was present in Bentley’s, both footnotes were added for the book,.

There you will not be surprised / That the vessel capsized
[Bentley’s reinforces the rhyme by using my favorite archaic spelling, “surprized”.]

Faith, I can’t recollect—and I haven’t Lempriere.
[Before the Oxford Classical Dictionary, before Pauly-Wissowa’s Real­encyclo­pädie, there was John Lemprière’s 1788 Biblio­theca Classica or Classical Dictionary.]

And a ring set with diamonds, his finger that graced,
final comma missing

The Bagman, proceeding, / With equal good breeding,
text has . for final ,

Till they thought he would never cry “Hold, enough!”
close quote missing

“To return to our sheep” from this little digression:
[This phrase—which has appeared at least twice before on this site—may be long forgotten in English, but is still regularly used in its original French. “Revenons à nos moutons” is from a 15th-century play that I doubt is remem­bered at all apart from this line: “Never mind whatever-the-digression-was; let’s get back to the subject of sheep.”]

Of his guest were directed to “taking a snooze:”
close quote missing

But nothing could stop his mute fav’rite’s caressing
[Stanza break added from Bentley’s.]

You had much better sit up, and pat me instead!”
close quote missing

Though each of these names some pronounce a misnomer
[He’s correct on both points, though for different reasons.]

While what’s called “The Claret” / Flew over the garret:
: missing

a learn’d Antiquary . . . no trifling quandary
[William Schwenck Gilbert also favored this pronunciation. It can’t have been unique to comic poets, though; the Oxford English Dictionary lists the paroxytone “quanDAry” before the proparoxytone “QUANdary”.]

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.