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had often gladdened the eyes of a weary traveller ; a picturesque country inn, such as Goldsmith loved to describe
“ Imagination fondly stoops to trace
“ The varnished clock that clicked behind the door." And this last hypothesis derives additional support from the mention which is afterwards made of malt.
Some addled-headed would-be commentators, have, however, fancied they were showing their abilities and superior discernment, by attempting to raise a difficulty here, obstinately maintaining that our hero must have been an agriculturist, from the line which afterwards occurs, speaking of
“ The cow with the crumpled horn.” Would that such blockheads would abstain from meddling with works which they have not even the genius to understand, leaving criticism out of the question! If Jack, as we have supposed, built and inhabited a country inn, what could be more natural ihan that he should keep one of those useful animals ?
We have dwelt long on the first line, indeed it is not easy to do justice to it; we pass on :
“This is the malt
“ That Jack built.” This introduces a series of events, of thrilling interest, which happened in connection with “the house that Jack built," and which are related with great beauty and a peculiar naiveté. They commence with circumstances comparatively unimportant, each line increasing in interest, until the whole is crowned with the affecting marriage of the “maiden all forlorn” with the “man all tattered and torn.'
HORACE. Lib. II. Ode 3.
ÆQUAM MEMENTO," ETC.
When nought of hope is seen ;
And keep thy mind serene.
Nor Care thy thoughts employ;
Thou canst that wealth enjoy.
Thy life in pain and grief,
And bring a sure relief.
Or if thou’rt wont, each festal day,
From the rude world to fly,
Remember thou must die.
Bring ointments rich and rare;
And chase each anxious care. We know not if the Fates severe,
A longer time may give;
We bosh may cease to live.
Which Tiber's waters lave,
When thou art in the grave.
Thou trace thy proud descent;
Nor make the Fates relent.
Fortune no home has given ;
No covering but the heaven :
Our lots within the urn;
Whence there is no return.
At length I reached, with unremitting toil,
Now from the dark and cloud-capped summit growled
I heard the eagle screaming far aloft,
By the side of the highway which is the medium of communication between the capitals of two of the midland counties, at some distance from any town, stands a plain white cottage, separated from the road by a small garden stocked with the choicest productions of nature, arranged with suėh exquisite taste as to have for years rendered it an object of curiosity and admiration to the passing traveller.
As we are not able to give the exact date of the adventure we are about to relate, suffice it to say, that it was on a fine evening in the latter end of August, between the years 1820 and 1830. The inhabitants of this cottage were two elderly unmarried ladies, who, on account of the distance they were from the world, were supposed to keep a large sum of money in the house. They had but one female servant, eighteen or twenty years of age, whom they had taken a few years before out of the parish poor-house, and who had since received much censure from her mistresses for keeping up an acquaintance with a young man of bad character, who had been twice cited before the magistrates for poaching, and had been suspected of being an accomplice in a robbery which took place a few months before. Besides these, however, there was another inhabitant, about thirty years old, of powerful frame, and features that would have been reckoned handsome, bad they not been accompanied by a vacant stare and negligent appearance, which showed that he wanted that confidence which reason alone can give. From his appearance, it would have been very difficult to conjecture in what capacity he stood in the house, but he was in reality the brother of the two ladies; and on account of the weakness of his understanding from his birth, he had been left in their care by his parents.
At the close of the evening of which we are now writing, the servant might be observed crouching down at the further end of the garden, behind the house, engaged in conversation with some one concealed in a thick plantation, which was separated from the garden by a quiekset hedge. They were narrowly watched by the idiot, whose suspicions, weak as were his mental facul. ties, had been aroused by seeing, while taking his accustomed stroll, a man approach that side of the plantation which was next to the garden, and give a low shrill whistle, when he was immediately joined by the servant. Taking advantage of the duskiness of the evening, and the shade of some fruit-trees, the idiot crept so near to them as to be able distinctly to hear their conversation. In a short time he crept quietly from his lurking place, and, having attained some distance from them, struck into the plantation at a pace to him very unusual ; in about half an hour he returned, and walked slowly into the house. Soon after his return they went to family prayer, at which both he and the servant appeared very uneasy and inattentive, a circumstance rather extraordinary in the former. After their devotions were concluded, the disquietude of the servant was much increased, when the idiot, instead of retiring to bed as usual, remained in the room some time, and examined all the windows; he then went to his room, and taking the key, locked it in the inside.
About an hour after his sisters had gone to rest, he heard a noise as of some one descending the stairs with caution, and raising himself noiselessly from his bed, on which he had thrown himself without undressing, he proceeded to follow the person he had heard, and on gaining the kitchen, finding the door upen, he immediately locked and bolted it. He had scarcely done this when some one tried to open it from without, and a stifled curse shewed his vexation on finding his efforts fruitless. After this, several persons seemed to be conversing in whispers, which the idiot endeavoured to catch, by applying his ear to the keyhole, but was scarcely able to hear a continuous sentence. For a short time he stood fixed to the place, when a loud crash told that an attack was commenced by endeavouring to force one of the front windows. Again it was repeated, and the frail bars gave way. The shutters were again swung together by the idiot, who had repaired thither at the first sound; but he was unable to resist the force from without. They were again thrown open, and a man, endeavouring to thrust his body through the broken window, was thrown back senseless by means of a huge club with which the idiot had armed himself.
A second attempt, however, proved more successful, for another man springing through the aperture, though he received a heavy blow, recovered himself quickly, and grappled with his adversary. In a moment two more had sprung into the room, when the idiot, with a quickness which his weakness of mind would have belied, disengaging himself from his opponent, sprung through the door, and taking advantage of the narrow staircase, succeeded in repulsing them till, the signal of alarm'-being given by the robbers's sentinel, the leader of them, fearing that his attempt would prove unsuccessful, in a moment of rage drew out a pistol from his breast, and fired. The idiot fell forwards among his adversaries; but the robbers were unable to enjoy their triumph. The signal was renewed much louder than before, so that they were obliged to flee, to secure a safė retreat. The cause of their alarm was a large party of farmers and their assistants, which had been collected by a young man who lived in a cottage on the other side of the plantation, and to whom the idiot had gone after hearing the conversation of the servant and her lover.
By their endeavours three of the ruffians were taken. They then returned to the house with their prisoners, and went to look for the sisters, whom they
found in an agony of terror; but what was their horror when they found their murdered brother! He appeared to be expiring, and 'only lived long enough to articulate the name of the servant's lover as his murderer. Yet neither could the search that was instituted, nor all the powers of the civil authorities, find out the servant and her lover, who, it was supposed, had fled together to some distant land.
M-ark where yon chimneys tall arise,
In these pages we propose to offer the fruits of our desultory readings in those curious anecdotes, moral and witty sayings, or strange adventures, which we meet with in our excursions through the wide fields of ancient, or the almost-forgotten, literature of the middle ages; and as we shall cull flowers from all languages, we trust that our labours will not prove unaceeptable to our readers.
In the reign of William Rufus, King of England, says an ancient Italian author, a monastery or abbey becoming vacant, two monks, of small conscience, but great wealth, agreed together mutually to assist each other, so that one of them should not fail of obtaining this abbey. With this resolution they presented themselves before the king, and in exchange for the benefice, offered him a very large sum of money. While they were thus driving a bargain with hiin, the king perceived another monk, who had come in their company, and calling him to him, asked him what he would give to be an abbot: he replied, nothing; for, when he had dedicated himself to religion, he had renounced all his possessions, that he might be enabled, with more tranquillity and more perfect devotion, to serve God. “ Then,” replied the monarch, “the abbey shall be yours, for you deserve it.” And he ordered the patent and investiture of it to be instantly made in his favour. This king, (the author from whom we