Page images

come and

[ocr errors]



The Wives of the Poets.

Legend of Good Women,” and think of happy I watched over the splendid ruin of his intellect. ones, to exorcise those complaining ghosts that The memorials of Thomas Hood by his son and


in the shadow of my book-case. daughter, present us with a delightful picture The reader will remember the charming Lucy of domestic literary life. The book itself is not Herbert, who might have been a Duchess if a remarkable specimen of biographical writing, she had not chosen to walk out of the purple but the characters of Hood and his wife are so and wed the poet Habbington, who sang her full of human goodness, so touched with all praises as maid and matron, and loved her, not. delicate graces, that one forgets everything withstanding she was his wife! I will let a else. Mrs. Hood's letters are delicious unreveal, woman* say that “his poems to Castara form ings of herself. She was one of the most elegant monuments genius ever raised to the memory of a wife." The

A spirit, yet a woman, too amiable and lovely woman whose early death drove Parnell to destruction, should not be forgotten; nor Anne More, the wife of Dr.

A creature not too bright or good Donne, whose fidelity through poverty to death

For human nature's daily food; is loftier than any poetry, certainly much loftier For transient sorrows, simple wiles, than any of the Doctor's. And later still is

Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.” Lady Littelton, whose flight from this world, in the flush of her youth and beauty, taught Lord Lyttelton the only noble number he ever Our own day and our own literature are not uttered. In times nearer our own, we recollect barren in instances of such unions, nor lacking several poets whose lives have been broken by in painful household histories. The time has the severing of these domestic ties which so not come when it would be proper to speak of many have worn but lightly.

the wives of those authors who are siill living, In view of these and similar cases, a witty or who have but newly passed away from French author once prepared an ingenius among us. Many women who to-day are treatise in which he attempted to show why moving quietly and gracefully through the light a literary man should not marry at all. He and shadow of fireside life, are to be known says that twenty poets are unhappy because hereafter. Their names will he gracious words their wives died, and twenty are wretched be to other generations. They shall have justice cause their wives lived. In case the done them, for the nineteenth century, among husband trembles for fear his consort will leave other inventions and discoveries has dis. him, and in the other for fear that she won't! covered Woman! It not enough The humourist had proceeded thus far when that she was placed in the garden of Eden the ingenuity of his own logic made him an

for us,

We were blind for many thousand idiot, and he really completed the essay with a years. When the world was young we made her solemn protest against marriage ! While we

fetch our wood and cook our food and play the smile at the entertaining French gentleman, it menial. In our days of chivalry we taught her is worth observing that many of the finest to be a pretty Amazon, to dress our wounds, to tributes paid to the gentler sex have emanated bind her scarf about our helmet, to receive a from old bachelors—the light-bearted Bene- fantastic and insincere adoration. Then, as if dicts who never lived to be married! Tasso there were never to be an end to our nonsense, made Leonora immortal, and Herrick his we fancied that she was an Arcadian shepPrudence Baldwin-and these were the most berdess, or a lovely wood-nymph with confused incurable of old bachelors. There is one of ideas of virtue. Then was the sickly, sentimenHerrick’s lyrics to bis sweetheart, so diminutive, tal, pastoral age in full blast. Then did she and chaste, and perfect—"like an agate-stone tap us on the cheek with her fan, and smirk and on the fore-finger of an alderinan”-that I can smile, and paint and powder, and wear her hair never think of it without quoting it:

four stories high. That was the courtly age.
But by-and-bye she wearied of these follies,

We began to treat her with more
In this little urn is laid

then little by little she began to assert herself, Prewdence Baldwin, once my maid,

the better we treated her the more she asserted, From whose happy spark here let,

until at last we cried out like Frankenstein, Spring the purple violet !”

“What monster is this we have created ?" But

it was not a monster-it was only A Woman! No reader of recent biography is unfamiliar Great in her weakness, noble in her charity, with Lady Byron's unfortunate marriage, nor

beautiful in her patience. We have found her with the love of Jean Burn, nor the touching have discovered that she has brain as well as

out! She was never so recognized as now; we account of Shelley's two wives, nor with the tender care with wbich the wife of Tom Moore

heart-that she can write verse like Mrs. Browning, paint pictures like Rosa Bonheur, be all that is gentle and loveable like Florence

Nightingale, and philanthrophical and humane * Mrs, Jameson,

as Miss Burdett Coutts,

D 2


sense ;


[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

In one of those islands which form the only rovers, trading with the natives on shore, or part of the Duchy of Normandy now possessed robbing them at sea, as opportunity offered, and by the kings of England, there lived, not many fancying all the while that he was performing years ago, a man who, like all the other in the part of an honest man and a good citizen; habitants of the lower class, was a compound of for no argument imaginable could have conhusbandman and smuggler, and possessed of all vinced him that, in defrauding foreign states of that artful duplicity of mind, and daring reso- the duties levied on imported goods, or taking lution of spirit, for which his countrymen, like the vessels of their merchants, he was acting their fellow Normans on the continent, are so re- any other part than that which became a subject markable. Though a well-set and sturdy fellow, of the king of England, who was at war with you would have taken him for one of the most them; and, indeed, all arguments would most huinble beings you could encounter in a blue probably have been lost upon him which tended jacket and trowsers; his only object seemed to to abridge the sum of his earnings. be to slink unobserved through life, to watch By dint of all these labours, and of the most the growth of his apples, to make cider, and to rigid economy, for my hero when at home lived tether his cows in the field with such mathe- upon that luxurious diet which the vulgar call matical precision, that they might eat the grass Glatney soup” (from the name of a street regularly from one end of it to the other without originally inhabited by the lower order, also by wasting a single blade; and yet, that they might the more refined term "soupe à la graisse, have enough to keep them sat, and to enable from the description of the only animal matter them to produce the luxuriant milk for which which enters into its composition, and which, the breed is celebrated; for the race known in in truth, is only admitted in the proportion of England as Alderney cows alone, are the only half an ounce of beef and pork fat melted cattle propagated in all those islands, and arrive together, to a gallon of water and half-a-dozen at much greater perfection in the verdant pas- cabbages), and by dint of never indulging himtures of Jersey and Guernsey, than on the bleak self, at the most joyful periods, with more than and barren down which forms the whole of the three “doubles” worth of cider, he had saved a islet from which the English have derived their considerable sum of money, which he had name. One other terrestrial occupation, indeed, placed, as it accumulated, in the public funds in he had—that of making kegs; for your genuine London; for, though he had the highest respect smuggler of those days resembled the citizen for all his countrymen, he somehow felt a dislike soldier of certain political economists, and was, to trusting his property in their hands, as was in truth, a man who could make a tub as well as the usual custom of the islanders. run it ashore, and of whose multifarious occu- Almost every inan has some specific object, pations, smuggling (I mean the act of landing which it is his ambition to obtain. Our hero contraband goods) formed but a portion. Yet, bad all his life coveted possession of a farm, although not constantly engaged in the practice which adjoined his own, but which, for many of this latter profession, our hero was a con- years, he had had no prospect of acquiring; for summate master of the art in all its branches-- the owner was, like himself, one of those prudent a fact, by-the-by, which proves how much more men who feel more inclined to add to their congenial smuggling is than fighting to the estates than to dispose of them. Prudent men, human heart, notwithstanding all that has been however, have sometimes imprudent heirs, and said to prove that warsare is the most natural so it happened in the present instance; the occupation of man; for your citizen soldier is farmer died, and his son, after having spent all generally a very unmilitary character, whereas the money his father had acquired, determined the citizen smuggler is frequently most adroit in to sell his land and emigrate to Canada; and the exercise of his vocation.

our hero, who had lent him a considerable sum At the beginning of the late war, when the on the security of his property, agreed to beFrench and their allies possessed both ships and come the purchaser. colonies, the worthy people of the islands to I know not whether it was in consequence of which I have alluded, willing to profit by every one of those unaccountable whims to which the circumstance, fitted out a number of their luggers most steady are sometimes subject, or whether as privateers, and most of the amphibious popu- it was that he feared to trust his well-beloved lation at times took a turn on board soine of money in the hands of any other person, however these vesssls; for they were all prudent, careful, respectable; but, from whatever cause it arose, money-making fellows, and never neglected any our hero resolved to go over to London, and opportunity to “increase their store," and never fetch the sum requisite to complete his purchase. questioned the means by which such an increase To London he came accordingly, and having was to be effected. Like most of his com- effected his business, he returned to Southpatriots, my hero had made a few voyages along ampton, whence he embarked on board a vessel the French and Spanish coasts in one of these' bound for his native island, with his bank


[ocr errors]


A Skippee's lale.


notes carefully sewed into the waistband of his somewhat more than a mile. By this time, trowsers. This event took place just after the however, our hero had recovered a little of his last war had broken out with the United States, usual coolness. He recollected that the vessel and at a time when the channel was occasionally on board which he sailed was of no great value, visited by American privateers; and, amongst and that her cargo (consisting chiefly of bricks, all the mischances against which our hero had mops, brooms, and various other cumbrous provided, he had totally forgotten the chance of articles of household utility) was not likely to being taken prisoner; for the French navy had be very tempting to the enemy, and he began been so long annihilated, or shut up in their to entertain a hope that they might merely harbours, that the islanders were accustomed to plunder her of what was valuable, or useful to go to and from Southampton as carelessly as if themselves, and let her go-a hope which was England had been at peace with all the world. strengthened by the recollection that an AmeriThis only unforeseen accident, however, as is can privateer had lately acted in a similar almost always the case, came to pass. The manner to another small trader she had captured, English vessel had scarcely lost sight of the and by the consideration that, probably, the foe Isle of Wight, when an American privateer could not spare men enough to carry her inte a bore down upon her, and as fighting was out of

French port.

Urged by these opinions, he the question, on account of the superior force again went down below, resolved to conceal his of the enemy, flying became the only resource. money in some secure place, where it might But it soon grew apparent that escape was im- escape the hasty search of the transatlantic possible; the trader was a bad sailor, and plunderers, and having, at length, hidden it to heavily laden, and the privateer gained so his satisfaction, he was about to return to the quickly upon her, that it was evident she must deck, when he saw the master and some of the speedily get up with her; and, indeed, the sailors engaged in an occupation that for a time Southampton vessel only continued her flight drove even the American privateer from his in the vague hope that some of the English mind. Among other things of value, consigned cruisers might heave in sight, and rescue her to the merchant who owned the vessel, was a from impending capture.

a small package of specie. This the master and You must imagine, for words cannot describe, his companions bad broken open, and they were the terror and anxiety of my hero during this now busily engaged in transferring its glittering awful period; not that he was by any means de contents into their pockets—perhaps hoping that ficient in courage, when only life was endan- they might escape a personal search, and certain gered, but here his money, his bank-notes, that, at any rate, the risk was worth the advenwhich had been the fruit of years of hardship ture. Our hero almost forgot his own impendand privation, were at stake, and, more than ing loss, in his admiration of the wealth be saw all, the farm on which he had set his heart these sailors thus carelessly thrusting into their seemed now slipping through his hands, at the pockets. He stood gazing at it and at them, moment when he thought he had only to close with his eyes enlarged almost to the size of bis fingers to grasp it for ever.

crown pieces, and nearly as yellow as guineas, he at first resolved to write down the numbers with jealousy and desire; and the master (who of his notes in his pocket-book, and then throw knew him personally) after he had crammed them overboard before witnesses, in order that every receptacle in his dress almost to bursting he might prove they had been destroyed, and with gold, called out to him, that he might help thus recover their value of the bank; and, in himself to a few dollars. Our hero (who would pursuance of this idea, he actually unripped not have refused a few doubles * at any time) the lining of his trowsers, and laid them out heard the permission with delight, and throwing before him in the little locker which served him himself upon some silver, that lay scattered for a bed cabin. But no amorous glance, or about the deck below, he filled every pocket he tender billet-dour, ever wrought a more sudden possessed, and then retreating to his birth, he alteration on the mind of an angry lover, than resolved to await the event, trusting, by pretenddid the sight of these pale-faced and meagre ing illness or some other evil, to mollify the notes on the soul of my hero. How could be, hearts of the enemy, or, at any rate, hoping who had worshipped Mammon all his life, enter that, should their object be only to plunder the tain for a moment the idea of throwing the god vessel, he should escape by giving up the dollars of his idolatry into the sea ? There was no of which he had thus acquired possession. sacrilege he would not sooner have committed. He grasped his treasure in his hands, and

He had scarcely formed this resolution (if pressed it to his bosom with the agonizing em

such it can be called) when a bustle upon deck brace of one about to be separated for ever from announced that the ship was bringing-to, and the only object of his affections, and then, in a few moments more he could hear that the thrusting it into his pocket, be ran upon deck enemy had taken possession of her, and, almost and looked out, with the anxiety of sister Anne instantly, some of the captors made their apin the nursery tale, to whether any at hand. No friendly sail, however, was in sight, and, except sea and air, the only object in * À “double,” or “liard de France," is a small view was the American privateer bearing ra- copper coin, of the value of the seventh part of a pidly down upon her quarry, at a distance of penny.

In his agony,

relief was



pearance in the cabin. Our hero, who was “ Aha!" muttered the American. rarely in a hurry, lay still within his cabin, “Oui, vraiment,” replied our hero ; “but trembling most heroically; but, feigning sleep if you shall excuse me-je m'en vais dormir-I or illness, he did not move, nor did any take shall go to sleep, for I did get some ill in de notice of bim, till he learnt, from the conversa- prison -some think it is what you call gail tion that was going on around him, that the sickens, or de typuss faver; but oders say it Americans were about to take the prisoners was de vilain bierre I did drink at Sowinto their own vessel, and to send that which samptom-but, Dieu m'accorde, I shall be better they had captured into Cherbourg; and he when we gets to Cherbourg, anıl when we go further learnt that the reason why they pro-shore I shall make you welcome to mine’ouse." posed to shift the prisoners was, because they “ Cherbourg,” repeated the American, “ do could not spare men enough to guard them. you know Mr. ?" naming a respectable If our hero bad resolved to sham illness before, merchant there. the idea of being separated from his money “Ma foi, oui, c'est mon cousin," replied our now made him ill in good earnest, and he hero, nothing daunted by the cross-examinawould willingly have given all the dollars he tion which he suspected was approaching; for kad so lately acquired, to have had his good he thought he was well enough acquainted with bank-notes again sewed up in the waistband of Cherbourg and its inhabitants to bafle the his trowsers; but his wishes were vain, and, penetration of a man who could hardly have although he cast many a rueful glance at the bad occasion to know them as well as himself. corner where he had secreted his property, he “Your cousin, is he?” said the American, did not dare make a movement towards it, lest and do you know Mr. -"mentioning the he should excite the suspicions of the enemy, name of the brother-in-law to the first. who were now busily engaged in gathering up “Know him?" repeated our hero, “cornthe remaining dollars, some of which had been ment c'est le frère de Madame sa femme, c'est left, even after our hero had filled his pockets.

mon cousin, aussi, aha! Je suis allié, I am It is the property of great minds, and of ally to de most respectable peoples dere.” great minds only, to conceive a comprehensive and efficient plan at a moment of emergency.

“Well, if you know Mr. -, I have letters Such a one was possessed by our hero. As for him from our owners; he is to be our

"and as I should soon as he found that the prisoners were ac- agent,” said the Yankee; tually quitting the trader for the American, he be sorry to put one of his cousins to any gave up all hopes of lying perdue, and, crawling

inconvenience, you

shall remain on board. out of bed, he went up to the principal officer Curse him!” he muttered, as our hero was of the enemy, and twisting his body, as if sneaking off to his berth, " if he is cheating me writhing under inexpressible tortures, he ex

he cannot gain much by it,” for the Yankee claimed, “ Vive l'Amérique — Vive la France ! did not altogether credit the tale he had heard ; - -Vive l'Empereur !--Py Gat, Messieurs, nos his lengthy phiz; and should he be what he

"and yet,” added he," he looks very ill, with alliés !-Gentlemens, I am glad to see you!"

Very glad, I dare say,” replied the American, says, it would be a pity to carry him on a cruise, drily.

not to mention that he may infect our whole · Que le diable me coupe le gorge, si je ne

ship’s company with his tie-puss fever.suis pas dam glad," returned our hero, drawing Our hero, no doubt, did look ill enough, for one hand across his throat, and at the same he dreaded, while he was thus endeavouring to time clapping the other on his side, twitching deceive the American, that some inquisitive up his left leg, and grinning horribly, as if from enemy would discover the bank-notes, in intense suffering.

protection of which he was weaving this tissue “Why, who are you?” exclaimed the Ameri- of falsehoods, and thus deprive him of that can, staring at our bero; "and what the plague which he was exerting his invention to save. ails you, that you make as many grimaces as a When he got to his berth, however, he judged posture-master?"

from every appearance that all was safe, and as “Pasdimasdi ! what's dat?" replied our hero. soon as the vessel had parted from her captor, “I beg you to comprehend dat I am not a and the hands on board were busily engaged pasdimasdi-Je suis Français, moi-I am upon deck, he retook possession of it, to bis Frenchman, a subject to the Empereur, and an inexpressible delight, and again replaced it in ally of de Americains.-Vivent les Americains, its original concealment about his person. et à bas les Anglais.”

Perhaps I should explain to you, that the “ If you're a Frenchman, how came you object our hero had in view in passing himself here?" inquired the Yankee, suspiciously; "and off as a Frenchman, was

, not only to obtain above a'l, what is the matter with you, that you leave to remain on board the vessel in which grin so awfully ?"

he had placed his treasure, he also wished to “I am habitant de Cherbourg, and I was avoid being landed at any other port than been captain of a vessel taken prisoner de Cherbourg, with many of the principal inbabit. guerre by de English,” replied our hero. “I ants of which was well acquainted, and have échappé de Fortune prison, and I was gone where, 'indeed, he was so well known, as a to Jersey, or some of de oder islands, where I smuggler, that he did not doubt he should should get de passage home in a smoggler.” not only preserve his money, but that he should


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

also find some of his countrymen, who would “Mais qu'allez-vous faire ? Ah! sacré! baillezgive him a passage to his native island.

moi le timon !--give me the tiller,-vous allez As soon as he had secured his money, he vous perdre, I shall lead you right in, for I do came upon deck, and finding that the privateer not see no vilain pilot boat.” was now out of sight, he declared that his

This last asertion, however, was not quite malady was very much abated, and set him- correct, for our hero did see a pilot boat, pullself to gain the confidence of the American, ing for the vessel, and almost the only anxiety he who had charge of the prize, to whom he now felt was, lest the pilot should get on board recommended himself very highly, by helping and betray him before he had time to bring his to work the sails, and by singing English songs the Americans saw it, and pointed it out to bim.

plot to maturity; and, what was worse than all, in the manner of a Frenchman, a character he could hardly be said to assume, since French hero in reply ;“ dat miserable boat a pilot boat

“ Dat miserable bateau-là !” exclaimed our was his native tongue; and the English language and manners were merely habits c'est un bateau de pêcheur-it is what you call acquired by mingling with the English residents

a fishing-boat-ne savez-vous-do you not know, in "his island, and observing their customs dat in all de ports of France de pilot boats are He took care, however, to say nothing further vraiment magnifique, superbe ?. Åh, vous verrez of his relations at Cherbourg, hoping, on the bawled out to the pilot boat to keep off, still

tout à Theure." Then, raising his voice, he arrival of the vessel there, to be set on shore as a Frenchman, and trusting to his own acquaint- using the Norman French dialect, and swearing ance with the place to find friends who would he would run it down if it approached any assist him. Thus passed away the evening; nearer to him, and sweating with anxiety lest for I should have noticed that it was in the anyone on board should hail the ship in English, afternoon that the vessel was captured, and and thus overthrow the hopes he began to night set in long before they came in sight of entertain of recovering the vessel. the coast of France. During the conversation

Fortune, however, who had stood his friend that took place upon deck, our hero learnt that during the whole of his enterprize, did not now none of the crew had ever been at the port to

desert him. The pilot, seeing another vessel in which they were bound, and he offered, in his the offing, went to offer bis services to her, and general desire to make himself useful, to keep the boat belonging to the guard-ship was now watch all night, in order to assist them with becoming visible through the mist of the mornhis local knowledge, when they reached the ing. For this boat our hero steered with breathcoast near Cherbourg. This, however, they less anxiety, though without the least alteration would by no means suffer, though they before she was alongside.

of countenance, and but a few minutes elapsed consented to call him up in case they should find any occasion for his services, and accord

Our hero could diguise his feelings no longer. ingly, jnst after dawn, they roused him to in- He sprung to the gangway, and exclaimed, form him that they were in sight of land.

“Shump aboard, my boys! de ship's all our Our hero arose, and perceived that they had

own!" * The boat's crew, although they could made Cape la Hogue; but he also perceived, not guess his meaning, instantly obeyed his that, though they guessed from the course they directions; and, to cut short my tale, the vessel had steered whereabouts they were, they were

was recaptured, to the infinite astonishment of totally ignorant of the coast

. At this instant, her American crew, who had never once suspected
another of his extraordinary plans entered his the duplicity of my hero, so artfully had he
mind, and he declared that the headland they concealed his fears and his intentions.
saw before them was Cape Barfleur, and that
Cherbourg lay but a little way to the westward.
The head of the vessel was immediately turned

in the direction pointed out by our hero, and
in a short time the island and town of Alder-
ney appeared dimly through one of those fogs so The hoary Christmas cometh now,
very common in that part of the channel.

With festive cheer and greenwood bough,
“Voilà Cherbourg!" said our hero, fixing

And stars that sparkle, burn and glow, his eyes upon the American commander, to see

While cold, white winter reigns below. what impression the information made upon

It comes with mirth and sounding chimes, him: "Dat is Cherbourg."

And ghostly tales of olden times ; “ Indeed !” exclaimed the Yankee, in a tone

Of wild-boar chased o'er glade and glen,

Of wassail-bowl and merry-men; of astonishment, but not of suspicion. “I

With roaring fires all blazing bright, thought it had been a larger town.”

With cheerful voice and taper's light, “ Äh-oui-but you cannot see it all, by

And grateful vows and songs of praise
reason of de mystification, what you call de To Him whose mercy crowns our days.
brume," replied our hero, willing to draw off 0, blessed are they who know the sound
the attention of his auditor from the place be- Of joy and mirth as years roll round.
ore him.

In light of life with glad accord
“The broom! you mean the fog, I suppose,” They walk before their kindred Lord;
cried the American.

Who stooped to own a mortal birth,
"Oui, justement !" answered my hero ; And sojourn on our lowly earth.


« PreviousContinue »