« AnteriorContinuar »
muning with the spirit of man; endowed by such communion with a knowledge whose double fruit is divinest hope and meekest humility.
So once more to our story : once more to consider the doings of men. They are not to be thought of with less charity for this gossip in a green lane. Nay, try it, reader, on your own account. Say that you have a small wrong at your heart; say, that in your bosom you nurse a pet injury like a pet snake. Well, bring it here, away from the brick-and-mortar world ; see the innocent beauty spread around you ; the sunny heavens smiling protecting love upon you ; listen to the harmonies breathing about you; and then say, is not this immortal injury of yours a wretched thing, a moral fungus, of no more account than a mildewed toadstool ? Of course. You are abashed by omnipotent benevolence into charity ; and you forgive the wrong you have received from man, in your deep gratitude to God.
Nevertheless, there are natures hardly susceptible of such influence. There are folks who would take their smallest wrongs with them into Paradise. Go where they will, they carry with them. a. travelling-case of injuries. Do we not know Trumperly? A very regular man, and a most respectable shopkeeper. He taketh his sabbath walk. He looketh round upon a wide expanse. The heath is illuminated with flowering furze. He stands upon a veritable field of cloth of gold. He is about to smile upon the natural splendour, when again he recollects the bad half-sovereign taken ten days ago, and at the extremest corners of his mouth the smile dies, a death of suddenness. And Grizzleton ? Did he not travel for enjoyment, and did not some past, particular wrong always blot out, destroy the present beauty ? He made a pilo grimage to Niagara. He was about to be very much rapt, astounded by its terrible grandeur, when the spray fell upon his new hat, and he could not but groan for the cotton umbrella, price, one dollar, that he had lost at New York. And in this way do we often shadow present pleasures with the thought of some sort of counterfeit money-some sort of departed umbrella. · And wrongs, naturally enough, bring us back to Ebenezer Snipeton. It was his trade to lend money : nevertheless, he was not a man who suffered business to entirely absorb his pleasure. Hence, when he discovered that the patriot who, purely for the sake of his country, was to snatch Liquorish from young St. James, thought better of the rashness, refusing at the last moment to save the nation,-he, Ebenezer, treated himself to a costly but delicious enjoyment. And he—it was thus he pondered-he could afford it. · He was a thrifty, saving man. He dallied not with common temptations. He wasted no money upon luxurious housekeeping ; and for his wife, no nun ever spent less with the milliner. He took care of that. Well, as the homely proverb goes, it is a poor heart that never rejoices ; and therefore Ebenezer Snipeton, temperate, self-denying in all other expensive enjoyments, was resolved, for once in his days, to purchase for himself a handsome piece of revenge. Determined upon a treat, he cared not for its cost. He would carry Capstick into Parliament, though in a chariot of solid gold. The young lord had dared to look upon Clarissa. The creature, a part of himself; whose youth and beauty, belonging to him, seemed to him a better assurance against decay and death. He had bought her for his lawful wife, and Holy Church had written the receipt. Nevertheless, that smooth-faced smiling lord che, too, to whom the good old husband in the embracing phil. anthropy of a hundred per cent. had lent ready gold, to be paid back, post-obit fashion, on a father's coffin-lid-he, the young, handsome, profligate St. James, with no more reverence for the :sanctity of marriage than has a school-boy for an orchard fence, he-it was plain-would carry off that mated bird ! This one thought parched the old man as with a fever : waking, it consumed him ; and he would start from his sleep, as though—such was his worded fancy-an adder stirred in his night-cap. Therefore he would not stint himself in his feast of vengeance. And therefore the freeholders were bought at their own price,-and they proved how dearly they valued a vote,--and Capstick, the muffin-maker, conquered the son of a marquis. People averred that the new member owed his elevation to the fiercest malice ; but he, misanthrope as he was, had now and then his holiday notions of humanity, and did not to the full believe the scandal. No: though he did not confess it to himself, it was plain that his neighbours—at least the more thoughtful of them— believed in his powers of statesmanship ; it was their wish, their one hope that he should represent them ; and though he himself cared not a straw for the honour, it would have seemed ungracious to refuse. And so he quitted the Tub, and Bright Jem went heavily along with him to London. “I shall be quite the simple Roman in this business," said Capstick. “I feel myself very like Cincinnatus taken from turnips.” “Without goin' to that Parliament, I only wish you
was well among 'em agin," interrupted Jem. “And therefore," continued the senator, “I shall lodge humbly.” And Capstick kept his word ; for he hired a three-pair floor and an attic in Long Acre ; and having purchased a framed and glazed copy of Magna Charta to hang over the chimney-piece, he began very deeply to consider his manifold duties as Member of Parliament.
With varying feelings St. Giles had watched the progress of the election. He had-it was his duty-shouted and bellowed for St. James. Nevertheless, the final prosperity of the muffin-man, his early benefactor, scarcely displeased him. Again, too, he thought that, should the young lord refuse to employ him—for he had still been baulked in his endeavour to see St. James—the new member for Liquorish would need new attendants to illustrate his dignity. And Bright Jem had, of course, revealed to Capstick all the transport's story ; for the felon had made a clean breast of his mystery to Jem, on their way to Kingcup, the schoolmaster. And so, the election revel over, with a lightened heart St. Giles set out for London. Should St. James fail him, he was sure of Capstick.
If human misery demand human sympathy, the condition of Tom Blast is not to be despised. It is our trust that the reader followed him when, oppressed by the weight of gold, he tripped and staggered from the Olive Branch, and gasped and sweated as he reached the field, wherein he solaced his fatigue with the secret thought of future fortune bringing future reformation. It was with this strengthening impulse that he flung the iron box, goldcrammed, into the middle of a pond. There it lay, like one of Solomon's brazen kettles in the sea, containing a tremendous genius -an all-potent magician, when once released to work among men. And Tom would go to London, and in a few days, when Liquorish had subsided from its patriotic intoxication to its old sobriety, he would return with some trusty fellow-labourer in the world's hard ways, and angle for the box. Unhappy, fated Blast! He had flung his gold-fish into Doctor Gilead's pond. He had enriched the rector's waters with uncounted guineas. Next, of course, to “ the fishpools in Heshbon," the Doctor loved that pond, for it contained carp of astonishing size and intelligence. Often would the Doctor seek the waters, and whilst feeding their tenantstenants-at-will-delight himself with their docility and dimensions. It was pretty, now to contemplate them in the pond, and now to fancy them in the dish. The Doctor knew the value, the pleasure of exercising the imagination ; and thus made his carp equally ministrant to his immortal and his abdominal powers. Well, the pond was to be dragged for the election dinner, and the net becoming entangled with the box--but the Doctor has already revealed the happy accident. Tom Blast felt himself a blighted min. It was always his way. Any other thief would have hidden the goods in any other pond : but somehow or the other, the clergy had always been his misfortune. It was no use to struggle with fate : he was doomed to bad luck. And when, too, he had made up his mind to such a quiet, comfortable life ; when he had resolved upon respectability and an honest course ; he felt his heart softened—it was too bad. Nothing was left for him but to return to the thief's wide home, London. He, poor fellow ! could have subdued his desires to live even at Liquorish; for tobacco. and gin were there ; but, he knew it, in such a place he must starve. With the loss of the box came a quickened recollection of the loss of Jingo. Where could the child have wandered? Blast had learned that Tangle had been despoiled of his purse on the night of the greater robbery. Now, though the paternal heart was pleased to believe that such theft was the work of the boy, the father was nevertheless saddened at the child's disobedience. If it was the boy's duty to rob, it was no less his duty to bring the stolen goods to his affectionate parent. In prosperity the human heart is less sensible of slight. Blast, whilst the believed possessor of countless guineas, scarcely thought of his son ; but, stript of his wealth, his thoughts-it was very natural ---did turn to his truant child and the purse he had stolen.
And now, reader, leave we the borough of Liquorish. Its street is silent, and save that certain of its dwellers have bought new Sunday coats and Sunday gowns-save that here and there in good man's house a new clock, with moralizing tick to human life, gives voice to silent time-save that on certain shelves new painted crockery illustrates at once the vanity and fragility of human hopes, no man would dream that a member of Parliament had within a few hours been manufactured in that dull abiding-place.
And now, reader, with one drop of ink, we are again in London. Ha! We have descended in St. James's Square. The morning is very beautiful ; and there, at the Marquis's door, smiling in the sun, is an old acquaintance, Peter Crossbone, apothecary ; the learned, disappointed man; for Crossbone had looked upon
the escape of St. James from Dovesnest as an especial misfortune. All his professional days he had yearned for what he called distinguished practice. We doubt whether he would not have thought the Tower lions, being crown property, most important patients. For some time, he had pondered on the policy of visiting young St. James, the wounded phenix that had flown from his hands. His will was good ; all he wanted was a decent excuse for the intrusion; and at length fortune blessed him. He felt certain of the young lord's condescending notice, if he, the village apothecary, could show himself of service to him. The marquis's father was much persecuted by that luxurious scorpion, the gout, that epicurean feeder on the best fed. ` Now Crossbone had, in his own opinion, a specific cure for the torment; but he much doubted whether science would be his best recommendation to the young heir. No: he wanted faith in such an intercessor. And thus, with his brain in a pitch-black fog, he meditated, and saw no way. And now is he surrounded by mist, and now is he in a blaze of light. And what has broken through the gloom, and dawned a sudden day? That luminous concentration, that world of eloquent light-for how it talks !-a woman's eye.
Suddenly Crossbone remembered a certain look of Clarissa. And that look was instantly a light to him that made all clear. That look showed the jealousy of the husband ; the passion of the wife. Snipeton was a tyrant, and Clarissa a victim. And then compassion entered the heart of Crossbone, and did a little soften it. Yes ; it would be a humane deed to assist the poor wife, and at the same time so delicious to delight his lordship. And then he-Crossbone knew it,- he himself was so fit for the gay world. He was born, he would say, for the stones of London, and therefore hated the clay of the country.
Reader, as you turned the present leaf, Crossbone knocked at the door, and stood with an uneasy smile upon his face, awaiting the porter, who, with a fine, critical ear for knocks, knew it could be nobody, and treated the nobody accordingly ; that is, made the nobody wait. In due season, Crossbone and the porter stood face to face. “Is Lord St. James within ?" And Crossbone tried to look the easy, town man. It would not do. Had he been a haystack, the porter would as readily have known the country growth.
“Lordship within ?” Grunted the porter. “Don't know."