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the square donjon of the baron's keep, still swing gratingly above the tavern door, the harbingers and heralds of “Good Entertainment for Man and Horse.” Now I confess having a very much greater respect for signs than for coats of arms. The one class of symbols, at all events, indicate the whereabouts of honest traffic, while the others, when they were in full force and glory, frequently flourished in places where lodgings for a year or so might be obtained in a cool, sequestered dungeon, at no higher rate than the whole of the worldly goods and chattels of the entertained. No doubt it was very pretty and romantic to blow your bugle at eventide before some Front-de-Boeuf's castle, and see the drawbridge falling, and the seneschals hurrying forth to receive the wildered guest. But then, when one comes to reflect that the worthy baron might take it into his head to get up a pleasant and inexpensive evening's amusement for his retainers, by rifling his guest's saddle-bags, and thereafter chopping off his head in the castle court, by way of a graceful finish to the festivities, I must say for my own part—the taste is horribly vulgar, no doubt—that I would prefer, on the whole, stopping, now-a-days, at the Castle Tavern, to putting up, a few odd hundred years ago, at the Castle: that I would gladly exchange a flourish of the bugle horn for a peal of the chambermaid's bell—nay, that I would even give up the Seneschal, in favour of “Boots.” The feudal times were no doubt very nice times indeed to write novels about, but, on the whole, I think they are best admired at a distance. Ruined castles are very beautiful things—in ruins. I doubt much, however, whether their ten-feet-thick walls, garnished with “Loop-hole grates where captives wept,”
were such agreeable objects of contemplation to the unprotected foot traveller, as now-a-days when we catch sight of their crumbling remnants from a speeding railway train. The truth is, that the baronial keeps of old were very much of the same nature with those establishments, which, in modern thieves' dialect, are denominated “kens,” and “fences,”—in other words—refuges for robbers, and receptacles for stolen goods. “The man,” said King James W. of Scotland, pointing to a Border Castle, “the man who built that tower, was a thief in his heart.” Indeed it is a pretty
atent fact, that not a few of the “great old families " of
ngland would be, at this present moment, “great old families” in Norfolk Island, had an effective system of metropolitan and detective police existed in the times of their founders—the Burkelamented-days of chivalry. I have spoken of heraldry—of coats of arms—the Signs of the bold barons of yore. The actual device was frequently not remarkable for aught but mere senseless invention of impossible monsters—distorted into impossible attitudes. Sometimes, however, the nature of the composition gave a shrewd hint of the profession, tastes, and predilection of the exhibitor. Now we have a hand and dagger, indicating that the owner of the device was given to those practices, which, when they are now-a-days made the subject of a newspaper paragraph are generally headed “The knife again;”—occasionally the peculiarity in question was merely pictorially hinted at, by a bloody hand. Implements of war and dungeon furniture generally cut a conspicuous figure in the devices of our respectable ancestors, but you may wade through many a book of heraldry without finding a trace of the slightest penchant for enlightened generosity or honest industry. The mottoes however were peculiarly significant. If the device did not let the cat out of the bag—the legend did. The coolness indeed with which thievish mottoes were assumed, is quite delicious. We may be a nation of merchants—but so, in one respect, we always were. The feudal baron of old in his impregnable tower was a merchant, although not quite in the sense of the word as understood now-a-days. No doubt both the “House” and the Castle dealt, and still deal in monies and merchandise; the difference simply is, that the former makes ventures with its own property—the latter, whenever it could, operated upon other people's. Thus the merchant, now-a-days, enters upon a speculation—the feudal gentleman rode a foray: He of the counting-house has dealings with other counting houses—He of the castle had dealings with other castles; but they were confined in most cases to the pillaging line of business. The man of the ledger collects his debts —the man of the lance gathered in his black mail. The one has his clerks, the other had his moss-troopers. The first has his correspondents, the other had his spies. The former rears cities —the latter burned villages. Taking this view of the case, and looking at a good many of the founders of our ancient families as gentlemen well to do in the burglary and sheep-stealing lines of business, nothing can be more appropriate than the mottoes which they chose, to hint the nature of their callings. The old legend of the Scotts of Harden was “Reparabit cornua Phoebe,” in plain English, “There will soon
be moonlight.” The hint is most suggestive. You could no more misunderstand it than you can the “Country orders carefully attended to " of the tradesman in the next street. Moonlight!— Can we mistake the delicate insinuation. “Diana's foresters!— Gentlemen of the shade!—Minions of the moon!” The ancient motto of the Buccleugh family, was similar—“Best riding by moonlight.” Yes—especially when one is burdened with his neighbours' goods, or is making off surreptitiously with his own. The Cranstoun family boasts a peculiarly self-denying and Christian legend. It is “Thou shalt want ere I want.” But, as Lord John Manners will tell us—there was such high-minded generosity in the soaring chivalry of yore! “Per ignem et gladium,” the motto of another noble family, breathes a fine spirit of peace and good-will towards men—strikingly contrasted with the sordid and selfish dictum, “Buy in the cheapest market, sell in the dearest,” of modern shopkeeping days. “Forth Fortune, and fill the fetters,” would be a very good legend for a turnkey or a bailiff. It happens, however, to be that of the Athol family, who probably distinguished their pursuits from those of more ignoble cagers of criminals, by carefully abstaining from making legal captures, and only “filling their fetters” with those who might be instrumental in filling the pockets of their captors. “Grip Fast" is a piece of advice we have seen on an ancient scutcheon. It was probably quite supererogatory. “Ride Through" is another legend, which may, I presume, be rendered “Don’t stand on bones—Go the whole hog—Make a clean sweep.” While such maxims as “Spare Nought,” (Tweedale)—“A ma puissance,” (Stamford and Warrington) give a fine notion of the power and the disposition of the magnates of those good old times which Young England would fain dig up in all their festering rottenness from the grave. But no-they are gone—past recall. The workshop and the counting-house have put down the castle and the keep. The spirit and the symbols of the ancient age are outworn together. Burglary, highway robbery, and arson, would not, now-a-days, be accounted a brilliant foray, or killing, no murder; while the peaceful merchants who now hold the sway, once exercised but by titled robbers and gold-spurred burglars, would hardly think of conforming so far to the spirit of times gone by, as–in forming a company, or entering upon a commercial speculation—boldly to blazon such a device as a pair of loaded scales, graced with such a motto as “Success to Swindling.” ANGUs B. REACH.
PEARLS FROM POPISH PLACES.
LETTER IV.--To MRs. RusTLER.
We hope, my dear and ever valued Mrs. Rustler, that Mr. Pecker's project to entertain his far-away friends with conjectures of which I am the heroine, has produced its anticipated startlingness among the Tingleburian circles, and the kindred minds at Wailford. Played I not right well in simulating matrimonial probabilities: a foreigner the male party ?, Confess you not, that extraneous travel has whetted your Diana's invention to an airier keenness than was somewhile boasted thereby ? No: beloved friends ! bridle surprise, and restrict comment: descend from the altitudes of imagination, and lay hold on the fair fields of fact. When your friend weds, it will be with no such deceptive ignis fortis as the party with whom in my last, I so skilfully struck the credulous chords of old friends at home : and who, we have reason to ascertain, has no more right to claim episcopal connexion at Liege, than had (souvenir cous 2) that Mrs. Rosamond Phillpotts to announce herself a scion of the admirable Exeterian prelate. Van Bommel proves to be a name as fictile as the rest of that person's base advances; or as the pleasing account to which, as we are enjoined in * * * *. I turned that root of evil, by titillating your scrupulous curiosity.
You are aware, my dear, that Aix-la-Chapelle has always been the head-quarters of those “who tempt the Iris Fortune's echoing maze.”—(see Mr. Turner's Pleasures of Hope, annually illustrated by his life-giving palate)—and who, without stable resources, live upon the die. For here it was that Clovis King of the Goths, who invented cards, staked the fortunes of the Lower empire against the impetuous Barbarossa. While the latter, by throwing his ring into the lake (now, alas! occupied by the Railway Station), gave the signal for that hatred betwixt the two races, the fire of which will not rapidly wither. From the moment when the supposititious Captain Van Bommel, after succeeding in the attachment of himself to Mr. and Mrs. Pecker, succeeded in inducing them to halt there for a few weeks—my suspiciousness began to enlighten itself. Mysteries, dearest Mrs. Rustler, will not long baffle the aquiline instincts of * * * *. WE are not to be deceived, blessed privilege : Sweet Mrs. Pecker's transparency, it is true, held out. Who, indeed, would undeceive the dove-like soul, that “Quiet in its calm, evades the shocks Which baffle sodden churls”?—
Nor her partner: nor I. The impostor's assiduities smoothed sunken rocks in her path. Familiarised with the names of the foreign nobility, he diverted home-sick thoughts at the public table, gallantly grappled with little difficulties, and “catered choicest morsels for her share.” Nay, even procured her some culinary receipts, which, when produced on the Tinglebury board, will, we flatter ourselves, elicit more legitimate sensations than those attendant on Miss Podd's unwholesome importations—said to be from Paris. “She saw nothing in him”—dear charitable soul, but what Propriety's licence might approve; and while we were abroad (you know she sets her face against all sight-seeing) knitted him a comforter. Meanwhile I was exploring the town beneath his guidance, only waiting for the moment when Indignation's lightnings might unmask with due completeness. For the importance of no ordinary meed of serpentine wisdom in a matter so delicate, will be confessed, when I unfold, that reasons appeared to arraign our travelling attendant with complicity in his intent, whatsoever that might prove. We had warmed the Italian aspic in our philanthropic bosoms; nor was its rattle dumb Once having detected him in earnest parlance with Sophie, his motives, unquestionably, evinced themselves as double. For to suppose—no, dearest, your fond girlhood's playmate, though humble as regards her exterior attractiveness, has not sunk to imagine the possibility of neglect, on personal motives, for one so pale in tournure, so mediocre in aspect, so devoid of elegant significance of demeanour, as our maid. Intrigue, then, was on its feet: it remained but for its poison to uncoil clearly.
Nor remained it long. One day, with all the tremor of uneasy duplicity, our myrmidon—the Peckers abroad—bespoke an audience. I seated myself, and fixed her: for at similar junctures, Tenderness should cast itself to the winds, while Justice vaults into the throne. I forbore; waited; until she spoke; falteringly,
No. xxiii.-WOL. IV. F. F.