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CONTAINING THE OPINIONS AND ADVENTURES OF JUNIPER HEDGEHOG, CABMAN,
LONDON ; AND WRITTEN TO HIS RELATIVES AND ACQUAINTANCE, IN
LETTER XXIV.-TO THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY. MY LORD,—Having put the nose-bag on the mare, I sat down to my porter and paper. I was soon hard and fast in the “ Naval Intelligence." I don't know how it is, but I've a hankering after the navy. I had an uncle who was discharged a midshipman at forty, and died a light porter. That was, however, in the good old times ; they say, we don't see grey-headed reefers now. Well, having a sort of regard for the wooden walls, I was looking for the ship news, when I run my head against these words :--" The Admiralty, to mark their sense of the noble services of the late Dr. Sidney Bernard on board the Eclair, have presented a near relative of his, Mr. Robert Bernard, assistant-surgeon of the Pique frigate, to the rank of surgeon in the navy." All well and good, and all success to Mr. Robert Bernard! Still, I can't help thinking it, that the Lords of the Admiralty might, as I may say, pay a still prettier compliment to the memory of the dead hero — for a hero he was, dying the death of a hero, as much as my Lord Nelson, though no bullet went through his shoulder-than by promoting his relation. Pardon a cabman's boldness, while I tell you what I mean.
Doctor Sidney Bernard boarded the Eclair to attack a fever that was laying all hands low. The noble, big-hearted fellow volunteered to lead the forlorn hope against death, and fell the foremost. That's granted. Well, how do you think, if I was a Lord of the Admiralty, I'd reward the dead? I'll tell you.
You've several new frigates at the present moment on the stocks. They must all, when they ’re launched, be christened. Well, why not call one of the best and trimmest of the lot, the Sidney Bernard? You can't think that she'd sail the slower, or answer her helm less readily, for bearing such a name? You can't think that the jack tars aboard of her, nay that the sailors of the whole fleet, would think the worse of the craft, because called after the sailor's friend—the noble courageous man who died in the sailor's service. Well, my lord, what do you say? Do you think the proposal a bold one-do you fear that the nobs of the navy would look glum at it? Let us talk the matter over.
In the first place, my lord, run your eye down the Admiralty List. Well, saving your presence, wouldn't you think that sometimes Satan, in a waggish humour, named her Majesty's ships, and not Christian men? Here we have Griffins, and Rattlesnakes, and Vipers, and Furies, and Harpies, and all sorts of terrible and filthy things, all complimented and honoured by the Lords of the Admiralty, as if they were their own dearest pets, and they wanted to show the world how much they thought of 'em. Now, for once, let their lordships show they can have another sort of favourite. At the present moment they may intend to call one of their new frigates the Flea, or the Spider, or the Cockroach, or the Polecat, or the Water-rat. Let them pause awhile ; let them think again, and, renouncing the foolish notion, determine to name her the Sidney Bernard. It is a name that must glorify her timbers; and who knows—even her gracious Majesty, delighted with their lordships' choice-might, herself, condescend to christen her.—'Twould be a pretty compliment from a British Queen to Britannia!
Consider, my lord, what a very nice thing it would be to have a Sidney Bernard afloat! How pleasantly the fleet would look upon her! How, at certain times, in every sea of the world, she would carry with her the recollection of the gallant surgeon -how she would help to keep up the spirits of the young and struggling, who, wherever her pennant was seen, would see the gratitude of England to humble, but heroic men! It is worth while, depend upon it, my lord, to keep up this spirit ; so have nothing to do with the Flea-cast aside the Cockroach-renounce the Polecat, and stick to nothing but the Sidney Bernard.
Who knows, if the good example be once set, how, among all future Lords of the Admiralty, it might spread! There is a Vixen in the List—why then, on the other hand, should we not, some day, launch a Grace Darling ? I don't think that even the Trafalgar or the Howe would be ashamed to sail in her company; do you my lord ? At all events, you can but try a little bit of this kind of reform ; and, therefore, my advice to you is, begin with the Sidney Bernard. For my part, I don't see why you shouldn't have all the great names of England afloat: I can't understand why Shakespeare shouldn't sail as well as the Decastation, or that Milton shouldn't go as close to the wind as the Canopus.
And so I am,
LETTER XXV.-To Mrs. Hedgehog, of New York. DEAR GRANDMOTHER,-Knowing your love for all titled folks, I write to tell you that at this moment I do think all dukes double hazardous. I shouldn't wonder if my next letter should tell you that they ’re entirely repealed-smudged out of the Peerage. We've been in a pretty pucker for this last month, and a few dukes have done it all. Good souls! They all mean well, and yet people will misunderstand 'em : nay, I heard one low fellow declare that the Duke of Norfolk only wanted bells to his coronet to be quite in character with his talk. Excellent man! How much has he been mistaken!
You must know that the Duke of Norfolk can't abide the Corn Laws. With all his heart and soul he wants 'em repealed. But he doesn't bawl and shout against 'em ; no, he goes quite another way to work ; he tries to joke 'em down ; but somehow, either dukes are commonly bad hands at a joke, or vulgar people won't give 'em credit for it ; for which reason the Duke's joke has been taken quite the wrong way. Nevertheless, it was so good-so original—that it was impossible to be altogether spoiled.
However, the Duke's waggery is this. The people will want wheaten flour, whereupon Norfolk (without a smile on his face) has advised them to take, in nice warm water, “a pinch of curry powder ” going to bed. What a friend at a pinch! He said "he meant to try it himself with his labourers," that is, I 'suppose, “on his labourers ;” a very different thing. Should his Grace succeed, I do hope that there will be a labourer's show ; when I have no doubt that Norfolk will carry away the prize-say a jar of mixed pickles—for a curried ploughman. Norfolk further explained to the ignorant mob that curry powder was made “of spices and that sort of thing," and was very good “with a little bacon or any little thing of that kind”—(I believe pickled pork is the nearest cousin to bacon)—"they might have : IT WAS A PICKLE !” But why did not his Grace further recommend with
curry powder fowls and rabbits? They are, I believe, equally good with “ a little bacon,” and quite as soon to be had, by people who can't buy Corn Law bread.
It is said—but I don't believe it—that the Duke of Norfolk is so certain that curry powder is as good or better than wheaten bread, that he has given orders to plant, I don't know how many acres of his land, with pepper and nutmeg trees. To be sure, he 'll not be able to grow spices so cheap as he can bring 'em from the Indies—no more than we can grow wheat at the price we can get it from other countries—but it will only be a part of Corn-Law wisdom if the Duke should try it.
However, I don't believe a word of this story. As I say, I'm certain the Duke of Norfolk hates the Corn-Laws; for he's gone a new way to work, and made monopoly quite ridiculous. He has flung a squib at it made of curry powder and never squib did more mischief or made a greater noise. It is not the Duke's fault if his joke has not been taken the right way; nevertheless it has done better service than his best seriousness. Never was Jackpudding more successful ! For my part, I can quite believe that his Grace foresaw that he should be misunderstood ; but nevertheless, knowing what injury his mistaken joke would do the Corn-Laws, he did not care to be thought, for a time, very ridiculous, so that in the end he might continue to be useful.
Once, grandmother, I read in Roman history that one Curtius jumped on horseback into a tremendous deep ditch, to save his country from ruin of some sort. Curtius was smashed, buried, of course ; but Rome was saved. Well, the Duke of Norfolk has done the same generous thing. Once a man advertised that he would jump into a quart-bottle--but didn't so much as try it. Now the Duke, in his ducal robes, and with his coronet upon his head, to save his country has jumped right into a curry-bottle. There he is, corked for all posterity! There he is, as I once read
Like bottled-up babes that grace the room
Of that worthy knight, Sir Everard Home! Who would think that a great duke could make so little of himself?
But I tell you, there 's something broken out among the dukes, just as something has happened to all the potatoes. There's five or six of 'em, just now, very bad indeed. The Duke of Wellington, for one, is, they say, in a high state of inflammation ; he is so pestered with the Corn-Laws and his proxies. But, perhaps, you don't know what noble proxies are. I'll try to tell you. You see, when an English peer has no conceit whatever in his own brains—when he doesn't know when to say “ Content,” and when “Non-content,”-he gives, I may say, his whole soul into another man's keeping. He is satisfied to be a sort of breathing carcase in the world, having made over his opinions to another. Well, they do say that the Duke has seventy of these very small souls in his pocket! Consider it, grandmother! Properly looked at, what a sight is the Duke of Wellington. People who don't think, only see in him an old, thin, pale-faced gentleman, with not a very gentle look-but I, who often see him from my stand opposite Apsley House, I always look on him as something tremendous ! I always see those seventy proxies, as I may say, mixed up with him ; seventy-one heads under that one smallrimmed hat ; seventy-one hearts beating under that short little waistcoat! Why, the Siamese twins were nothing to it. It's wonderful, isn't it, grandmother, when peers, by their proxies, can put their souls into another man's mouth, and be made to preach what he likes, just as the showman talks for Punch!
The next of the dukes, a little indisposed, is the Duke of Cambridge. He says he doesn't believe in bad potatoes ; and no doubt þe's right,-for he has never seen them, either at Windsor or Buckingham Palace, or Cambridge House, or at any of the noble tables he has so often visited. His potatoes have always been capital !
The Duke of Rutland, too, speaks up for potatoes. There has been a wicked conspiracy this season, to take away their characters; for, like a certain naughty being, they are by no means so bad as they are painted. But, then, says the Duke, “there must be something really affecting the British character, to make one person in every three what are termed croakers.” But the Duke is not one of these three! Therefore, let all the poor take pattern by him ; he never complains ! He is no croaker!
The Duke of Richmond is also, just now, a person of great interest. He loves the Corn-Laws and prize oxen ; that is, he will make corn dear to the poor man, and cram cattle with oil-cake until the poor beasts can't stand upon their legs-can't breathe can't look out of their eyes for grease! Lean labourers and fat oxen! Well, I can't help saying it. I do wonder that some of these noblemen can take such a pleasure in breeding such mountains of