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Monthly Journal of Fashion.
LONDON, SEPTEMBER 1, 1839.
of England town. He came to Dr. R- 's as a very A SKETCH FROM LIFE.
young man, with a truly Shakspearian knowledge of the By the Author of "Jerningham.'
classics, he had “small Latin and less Greek;" but be had a mine of pure gold within him, not less precious because
it was uncoined. The little that he knew was self-taught; “He had worth,
he had received no other than the commonest education, Poor fellow !-but a humorist in his way
but he had the will and the power to learn; he had the Alas! what drove him mad."
germs of knowledge; he aspired nobly; and, putting forth his strength, he grappled with his past ignorance until, in
a few months, the neglect and the idleness of his many I shall never forget poor White. He was the junior clas boyish years was atoned for by the day-and-night labours sical master at Dr. R- 's when I was a school-boy, and of his intellect, now vigorous in its maturity. How beauwe honored him with the soubriquet of “Sheep-dog."
tiful and how grand is the triumph of native power over Undoubtedly the originator of this nick-name was an the antagonisms of circumstances, and yet how little was it individual of no ordinary intelligence. "The Sheep-dog !" appreciated, nay, how scorned it was in White, the "Sheep How striking is the application of the term ; he who ap dog." plied it was certainly a poet with a fine sense of metapho I do not think that there was a boy in the school who rical fitness. Now exists there, in the multitudinous ranks saw anything to admire in White; indeed, it was the fashion of things animate and inanimate, an object, sentient, or to despise him. Breathing a conventional atmosphere as insensate, more fit than this as the type symbolical of an we did, with all the self-inflation of peurile aristocrats, we usher? “The Sheep-dog !" How finely it expresses the tossed up our heads at the unfortunate "sheep-dog," and whipper-in to a pack of school-boys. The master is the having voted that he was no gentleman, we tacitly agreed shepherd, the usher the sheep-dog, and the congregation of to victimize him. There was nothing actually ridiculous school-boys is the flock.
in the man, but we soon made him appear ridiculous. How I am not sure that this most poetical of nick-names did we did this will be speedily divined by all who have ever not originate in the bearer of it himself. I have a dim, been to school. Oh! numerous were the up-settings of flickering notion that the title was self-assumed. At all his desk, always contrived so as to deluge its contents with events poor White acknowledged the fitness of its applica- | ink, the supplementary pins and cobbler's-wax appended tion; and, as though he were impressed with an idea that to his seat, the gratuitous insertions of many strange artithe common duties of his calling did not sufficiently assi cles in the magazine of his coat-pockets, the caricatures milate him to the guardian animal whose name he bore, he and the doggrel verses concerning him written in all the would at times, for he was of a playful disposition, assume likeliest places, the sucked oranges which would salute the nature as well as the office of his canine prototype, him on the face and be apologized for as intended for some running and barking after his flock as though in verity he one else; all these, and many more inflictions of a like had once been a sheep-dog, and that the metempsychosis nature, was he fated to endure. Not that he was unpopular, had been imperfectly accomplished. I think that the fine for he was neither cruel nor exacting; had he been so we qualities of his mind, delighting, like Mr. Square's, in “the should not have dared to treat him thus; but that he was fitness of things,” caused him to rejoice, if not in his sobri ridiculous, at least we thought him so, and, like the frog quet, in the abstract beauty of its application. If they had pelters in the fable, it was fine fun to us although it was called him anything else it would have fretted him; but to death to poor White. be called a sheep-dog-an antelope is more beautiful, a lion Where the yoke has galled the hard-working animal there more noble, a swan more graceful than a sheep-dog; but to the flies are sure to settle. So it was with us; for as we have called him an antelope, a lion, or a swan, would have knew that White was poor, we took pleasure in the destrucbeen a lucus a non lucendo, a very pointed piece of irony tion of his property. I think that in most boys there is a indeed. The sheep-dog is ungainly in person as in man leven of inherent cruelty; but our conduct in this respect ners: the roughest of its kind; but this mattered very little far exceeds the common fly-killing barbarity of juvenile to White. Had he been a lawyer, a sailor, or an apothecary, tortures. Knowing that he was very poor, and that he was the application of this nick-name would have maddened strenuously endeavouring to cultivate his mind, almost him—but as he was an usher in a school, he saw no reason with one consent we agreed to destroy his property, and to why he should not be called “Sheep-dog.” It pleased him interrupt his studies whenever it was in our power to do to think that in his own humble person he strikingly exem so. We thought that he was stingy and a sap; we did not plified the "fitness of things."
like him to economize nor to study out of school-hours; Poor White! If I were to live a thousand years—a mille the other masters did neither the one thing nor the other; nium crowded with incident—I do not think that I should the senior classical usher was in debt, and we thought him ever forget him. We used to say that he had once been a an uncommon fine fellow, for he subscribed half-a-guinea post-boy, which was not otherwise true, than that his pa- | to the cricket-fund, whereas White only doled out half-arents had kept the post-office in Exeter, or in some other west | crown. And then he was "never dressed like a gentleman," we criticised his clothes most unmercifully, and declared and I had long ago ceased from tormenting him. Indeed, that they were cut out with a spade; the head-usher wore I had begun by this time to respect him, for I had heard Wellington boots, but White contented himself with those
something about a widowed mother and a maiden sister, hybrid creations, which we call high-lows, and we used supported out of White's savings, and willingly accrediting always to declare that they must have been made by Vul the truth of this, admiration took the place of scorn in my can, for they were shapeless, iron-clouted things, and had young and compliant breast, and White became to mea the property of enduring for ever. Then again—and this hero. Somebody told me that White was mad, and I was made a serious charge against him-White drank nei. answered, “No more mad than you are." ther coffee nor tea; but consoled himself morning and But I watched him, and it was very evident that though evening with a doubtful beverage of a brown muddy aspect, not actually mad, he was strange and flighty at times; he which looked like a concoction of tobacco-juice and saw looked oddly, he said odd things, and when he was out in dust, and tasted--for sometimes poor White would present the playing fields he would drive his squad of little boys a portion of his second cup as a peace-offering to one of his before him like a flock of sheep, barking all the way as he tormentors-like a distillation of burnt crusts, and in those ran. He had studied too much; and, although there was days we did not think it unpalatable; at all events, it was little to apprehend, the boys were not wrong in saying that much better than our own sky-blue, and we were glad he was "cracked," slightly, very slightly, as I thought.enough to partake ourselves of this mystic preparation, Studious men, in their hours of recreations, are often the although we heartily despised White for drinking it in the most singular ; philosophers jump over chairs and play place of a more approved beverage. We were great stick divers antics to divert themselves, and White was only thus lers for legitimacy in those days, even in the article of wildly exuberant, when he disported himself, that he might coffee and tea,
shake off entirely the oppressiveness which results from an But at length the great secret was discovered; a cylindri- over-exertion of the brain. I feel myself at this very cal tin case was found by one of the boys, and a label moment, a desire to rush into the streets shouting; yet, if pasted thereupon betrayed the mysterious nature of the I were to do so, I should doubtless be taken for a madman. “Sheep-dog's” secession from established drinks. And the It was next given out in the school that White was about strange stuff, which, in its dilution, washed down White's to leave us. I asked him, and he confirmed the truth of daily meals; the dark, muddy, illegitimate compound, which the report; he was going to college to a college in Wales, so much offended our patrician sensibilities, was simply St. Mary's, I think-and the Bishop of — had given Hunt's Roasted Corn.
him a promise of ordination. He had long desired to Now this we thought a most unheard-of prophanation, a become a minister of the gospel, and for this, year after wicked turning away from established rectitude, and poor year, he had toiled with unremitting perseverance. “I have White suffered accordingly. To patronize a radical, and worked very hard for this,” he said in a touching voice, to drink roasted corn! It was plain that White must have which brought tears into my eyes—"and now do I think been a seditious person, a leveller, a dissenter, a freethinker, that I have heaped up money enough and knowledge an enemy to the order of things--and who could say that enough to sustain me until I enter the haven towards which he was not actually an atheist ?
I have been steering so long." We never forgave White for saving his money and his It was now easy to account for the economy and the time. He had time enough and money enough to be a studiousness of the usher. That which had once been better fellow, and as he had neither wife nor children we mysterious was now plain. That which had once been could not see any occasion for his husbandry. But still the deemed ignominious was now looked upon as ennobling"sheep dog," disregarding popular opinion, "bore up and the reprehensible became the laudable, and poor White steered right onward." He was patient under affliction, became the fashion. The upper boys were kind to him, and in action persevering; the conscience supporting him and they thrashed the lower boys who insulted him, and throughout all. He seldom complained, he was generally the sheep-dog, for the last few months of his sojourn at Dr. cheerful, and he played with the little boys at times as R-- 's, was suffered to drink his roasted corn in peace, though he were quite infantine himself. He had appa and to learn his Greek primitives in quietness, rently very good health, and he was neither pale nor But still I discarded not my belief in the story of the cattenuated from study, and this was mainly because he widowed mother and the maiden sister, whom White's adopted the plan of taking exercise at the same time that savings maintained. I clung to it, for if it were a delusion he studied. Up and down the play-ground he would walk it was a beautiful one, and worthy to be cherished. rapidly with a book in his hand, committing whole pages So White, the "sheep-dog," left us, and another took his of Greek primitives to memory; and then after a time, he place in the school-room-a stylish young fellow, of good would call a little boy to his side and say, “Hear me these." family and bad morals-a very indifferent classic, but a Then the usher and the pupil would change places, but most unexceptionable cricketter. . White seldom missed a word, for he was endowed with And nothing was heard of poor White, until one morning, extraordinary powers of memory, which seldom or never about a year after his departure, a weary traveller, unwashed played him false. The lesson over, the sheep-dog would and unshaven, his clothes covered with dust, and his feet thrust his book into the capacious pockets of his green plaid forcing their way through his shoes, presented himself at robe du matin, and crying out “Catch me if you can;" he Dr. R- 's many-windowed mansion, and claimed to be would run about the play-ground like mad, shouting and immediately admitted. The servant who opened the door making grimaces as he went to the no small diversion of knew him not, and as her master was engaged she would the beholders.
have repulsed him, but the stranger was importunate; he • At length a whisper ran through the school that poor said that he was wearied and foot-sore, that he had walked White was actually mad. I was then one of the elder boys, | all the way from Exéter, and that now being hungry, athirst
and a beggar, he was much anxious to see Dr. R
There was something singular in the aspect and in the demeanour of the stranger, which excited the attention and the alarm of the servant. There was a wildness in his eyes and an odd smile upon his face when he spoke, a mingled look of cunning and simplicity, which made the woman doubt whether the man she was conversing with were a knave or a fool, and this puzzled her she was half afraid and half inclined to laugh, but she resolutely denied her master, and would have shut the door upon the applicant, had he not, perceiving her intentions, suddenly pushed it wide open, and running through the hall with a loud burst of laughter, rushed into one of the parlours, where he threw himself full-length upon a sofa, and cried aloud with the air of a monarch, "Send the Doctor to me!"
The frightened damsel obeyed this imperious mandate, and in a few minutes Dr.
e ntered the apartment of which his strange visitor had taken forcible possession.
“Good God !--Mr. White” he exclaimed.
It was actually the poor sheep-dog-and there he lay in the presence of the shepherd, rabid, a hopeless maniac-the thread of his reason utterly broken-a thing to be pointed at and mocked. And all his noble aspirations, all his long-abiding hopes, his patience, his struggles, his travail, had ended in this at last.
He laughed when he saw Dr. R- , called for wine, and declared positively that he had run all the way from Exeter-a distance of nearly a hundred miles-without once stopping to take breath. He pointed to his trowsers, which were rent at the knees, and exhibited his hands, which were sadly lacerated, and as he did this he laughed exultingly, repeating, “I tricked them, yes I tricked them," and he seemed to chuckle as he thought of some cunning act that he had himself recently committed. Then he talked about the boys, repeated the names of several who had formerly been under his care, and quoted some passages of Greek from the “ Bacchanalians” of Euripides. “Don't you think, Doctor,” he added, his voice subsiding from loud declamation into a subdued yet earnest tone of enquiry, "hat Agave, when she got drunk, as you know, Doctor, she did, for there's no mincing the matter, she got beastly drunk-now don't you think-tell me candidly, for I wish your opinion-don't you think that she was very kind to her son Pentheus, in only tearing him to pieces ?”
Dr. R- , who had sent for a medical man, and who thought it best to humour the maniac, that he might commit no act of violence before the arrival of the physician, replied in a bland voice, "Oh! yes, Mr. White, very."
"I thought, Doctor, that you would say so; it was very kind in the mother, when she was beastly drunk, to kill her son outright, it was-a leg there and an arm there, a headless, and a limbless trunk, and all was over-but I, I live on still, Doctor! But won't you give me some wine some water then, for I am thirsty as Tantalus." —
| There, existing upon his slender professional savings, he
laboured on with unwearying perseverance. Exercising the most rigid economy, both of time and money,
“His faith, abiding the appointed time," he sustained his soul in the midst of privation. He had laid aside all selfishness ; pleasure was to him a thing denied, and the only light which illumined his pathway was that of a quiet conscience, and the hope of ultimate rest. This light ought to have struck sunshine into his soul; but I question whether it did, for indeed it is a hard thing to journey onward day after day, night after night, treading under foot the fairest flowers of life and gathering no corn into the granary, companionless and without sympathy in the world, enjoying neither health nor riches,
"Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisurem" Indeed it is rery hard
My pen seems to linger in this place, and I begin to generalize where I ought to proceed with my narrative. I set down a common-place instead of a fact; but the facts which I have to tell reflect no honour upon humanity.Evil things I am now about to speak of-things very hideous and debasing. I blush for mankind as I write them.
Poor White had a mother and a sister; they were his only relatives, and he supported them. I know not how he managed, for his receipts were very small, but he did support them—both the mother and the daughter. It was a noble thing-for them he laboured, for them he studied night and day, for them he denied himself no: merely the comforts, but indeed the necessaries of existence, for them he braved the contumely of the world, pining in solitude and despised. Many a night did he retire hungry to a bed but poorly supplied with coverlids--many a cold winter evening did be sit, with his only blanket pinned around his neck, for he had not wherewithal to buy fuel; and when he looked at his fireless grate he sighed not, but smiled pleasantly, and drawing his blanket closely around him, exclaimed"Well! I thank my God, that they are now sitting by a fire.”
And with these thoughts did he sustain himself, crucifying all his desires, for a year. If any one had watched him closely throughout this time, it would have been said that sypmtoms of insanity, which first developed themselves at Dr. R-om's, every day were becoming more apparent. Too much study, if not too much learning, had made this poor disciple mad. His sensitive mind, fearfully acted upon it as it was, by
“Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty," had given way beneath these repeated inflictions; for though he still looked forward and was strong in hope, his present was very cheerless-cold, hunger, and watching, combined with incessant intellectual exertion, had proved too strong for his reason to bear up against, and it tottered, it did not fall, for its hope sustained it; he thought of his mother and his sister, and these thoughts were for a time his salvation.
For a time-alas ! that he should not have abided in this cheering faith to the end of his days; but it happened one day he vas siezed with a desire of visiting his longdeserted home, and of embracing his mother and his sister. It was Christmas-time, and he thought that he might afford himself a holiday ; so he started-upon foot be it remembered—for Exeter, which was the home of his fathers. As he went along he pictured to himself his own delight and that of his grateful relatives, upon finding themselves once
I almost wish that I had never commenced this story.If it were a fiction I should not care, for creating I may create at will; but this is, alas ! too true; and as I have begun, so I must finish, in the truth.
But the truth is very painful to tell. Poor White, upon quitting Dr. RV's (I am now retracing the path of my narrative, and speak of the time when he abandoned his ushership) immediately removed himself to St. Mary's.