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A deep and holy calm fell upon Uncle Timothy, with a sweet assurance that a happier meeting with departed friends was not far distant. And as the guardianship of ministering angels was his firm belief and favourite theme, his secret prayer at this solemn moment was, that they might save him from the bodily and mental infirmities, the selfishness and apathy of protracted years. He read the inscriptions over again, with a full conviction of their truthfulness. They were his own.
At an obscure corner-and afar off-Truth, for a wonder, had written an epitaph upon one who loved, not his species, but his specie!
Beneath this stone old Nicholas lies;
And at no great distance was a tomb entirely overgrown with rank weeds, nettles, and thorns; and there was a superstitious legend attached to it, that they all grew up in one night, and though they had been several times rooted up, still, in one night, they all grew up again! Stones had been ignominiously cast upon it; and certain ancient folks of the village gravely affirmed that, on the anniversary of the burial of the miserable old crone, the Black Sanctus* was performed by herself and guardian spirits! A yew-tree stretched forth its bare branches over the tomb, which in one night also became withered and blasted!
At the porch of the centre almshouse sat an aged female in a widow's garb, and beside her the village pastor. From the earnestness of his address, he seemed to be exhorting her to resignation; but the tears that fell from her eyes proved how hard was the task! Though Uncle Timothy would not have done homage to the highest potentate in Christendom for all the wealth and distinction that he or she could bestow, he felt his knees tremble under him at the sacredness of humble sorrow; and with the same kindred feeling that had often made him rejoice with those that rejoice,' he was now ready to 'weep with those that weep.' He walked up the neat little flower garden, and having read the grateful memorial inscribed over the ancient doorway to the charitable foundress, he was about to speak, when the words, 'Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,' fell like the dews of heaven upon his ear! The widow looked up-she hushed every sigh-she wiped
* Isaac Reed informs us (see note upon Chapman's Widow's Tears, in Dodsley's Old Plays) that the Black Sanctus was a hymn to Saint Satan, written in ridicule of Monkish luxury. And Tarlton (see News out of Purgatory) quotes it in the Tale of Pepe Boniface.' 'And upon this there was a general mou ng through all Rome: the cardinals wept, the abbots howled, the monks roared, the fryers cried, the nuns puled, the curtezans lamented, the bels rang, the tapers were lighted, that such a Blacke Sanctus was not seene a long time afore in Rome.'
The Black Sanctus here said to be performed was of a different kind. It was assuredly a hymn to Satan,' in which the old crone and the most favoured of her kindred took the principal parts in the base, Hypocrisy led the band, Avarice scraped the fiddle, and curses, not loud, but deep,' from above and below, chanted an ap propriate chorus.
away every tear-the divine potency of the promise sustained her, and she wept no more.
Little ceremony did Uncle Timothy use towards the good pastor and his comforted mourner. His address began with a simple ques tion, who was the brother that he had so recently consigned to the grave?
This poor widow's only son!' was the tearful, tremulous reply. The widow rose to bring a chair for Uncle Timothy, and she invited him to sit down with a smile; for hope was radiant in her countenance, and her heart was at rest.
The story is brief and mournful,' said the good pastor. This poor widow has seen better days, and had troops of fair-weather friends when she little needed them. Bankruptcy and ruin overtook her husband, and hurried him to the grave. This humble asylum opened its door to receive her; and here, though she might review the past with fond regret. she became grateful for the present, and hopeful for the future. Her son, a youth of fine intellect, and seemingly born to happier fortunes, submitted to the ill-paid drudgery of an office where the hands, not the head, were required; and he delighted to spare from his narrow pittance such additional comforts for his mother as were not contemplated by the pious foundress in those primitive times. He would hasten hither on beautiful summer evenings after the business of the day, to trim her little garden, surprise her with some frugal luxury, and see that she was happy. The Sabbath he never omitted passing under this roof, and he led her to my pew, for she is a gentlewoman, sir,-where she sat with my family. Consumption, aggravated by a fever on the spirits, seized his frame; and what privations did he endure, what fatigues did he brave, to conceal the first fatal symptoms from his mother! Of a melancholy temperament, endued with all the fine sensibilities of genius, death, under much less unprosperous circumstances, would have been a welcome visiter; but to die-and leave-no matter. I promised to take upon myself the solemn charge, should the dreaded moment arrive. It has arrived, and that promise, by the blessing of my God, I will faithfully redeem.'
Uncle Timothy was not an envious man-he knew envy by name only. But if at this particular moment his heart could have been anatomized, oh, how he envied the good pastor!
"The disease gained ground with fearful strides. He was obliged to absent himself from business; and as his liberal employers were no-work-no-pay philanthropists, he was left to his own slender resources, and retired here to die.'
'Who sustained my lost son in his long sickness, comforted him in affliction, and received his last sigh? Ah! sir-But I dare not disobey your too strict injunction.
"Friend of the poor! the mourner feels thy aid—
'It was one evening in the decline of autumn when I accompa. nied my dear young friend in one of his solitary rambles. The sun was setting in golden splendour, and tinged the deep blue clouds that appeared, at a distance, like mountains rising above one another.
"Yon glorious orb," he cried, with sacred fervour, " emblem of immortality!
A few days after I was called to his bed-side; the icy hand of death had seized him; he recognized me, smiled, and gently pressed my hand. "Every misery missed," he whispered, "is a mercy!" A faint struggle, and a short sigh succeeded, and he was gone to his rest!'
'What a poor figure would this simple record of good works, lively faith, and filial piety make in a modern obituary, where incoherent ravings are eagerly noted down by prying, officious death-bed gossipers, and wrought into a romance, always egotistical, and too often profane! Such unseemly displays may flatter the vanity of the dead and the living, but they dishonour both. To you, madam,' added Uncle Timothy, taking the poor old widow's hand, and pressing it tenderly, 'consolation and hope have been brought by a heaven-appointed messenger. Something, however, remains to be done in a worldly sense. But I see our good friend is on the eve of departure; what I was about to propose shall be submitted to him when we are alone. In the mean time, you will please to consider this humble roof but as a temporary home. It abounds in sad remembrances, which change of scene may mitigate and soften down, if not entirely dispel. I have no mother-do not be surprised, madam,' (smiling through his tears)-'I am not asking you to adopt such a worthless old fellow as me for a son; but I have a dear, affectionate relative, whose light-hearted exuberances might be chastened by your presence and good advice. Believe me, he would deeply regard you, were it only for your sorrow. And as there "is a special providence in the falling of a sparrow," I cannot doubt that some good spirit directed me hither. God bless you! We shall very soon meet again.'
And locking the kind pastor's arm in his own, he hurried down the little garden, pausing for a moment to gather a pale rose, which he placed in his bosom.
'RAILLY, Master Jackimo, I'm quite ashamed on your laziness! you only gits up to lie down, and only lies down to git up! and, instead of making your bow to the ladies and gentlemen, and holding out your cap to catch the coppers, you are everlastingly a-doing o' nuffin but pulling up your shirt-collar and cracking o' nuts. Hav'n't I treated you more like a relation than a monkey-giving you the best of adwice? But if ever I find you at your old fun ag'in, as sure as my name's Blinking Billy I'll take off your goold scarlet waistcoat!'
This was addressed by an itinerant musician, in a shocking bad hat, with a garnish of old red cotton nightcaps, to his mendicant monkey, that he had perched upon Whittington's Stone for the purpose of taking him more conveniently to task. The offender was of
a grave aspect, with a remarkably knowing look. He was dressed en militaire, with an old-fashioned scarlet waistcoat embroidered with tinsel, of which he seemed monstrously vain. He listened with becoming seriousness to the musician's expostulation, slyly reserving in the corner of his jaw a nut that he deferred to crack till opportunity should offer. But at the threat of losing his red waistcoat, he gibbered, chattered, and by every species of pantomimical begging and bowing, promised future amendment.
Had not the mind of Uncle Timothy been too much occupied with recent events, he would doubtless have scraped acquaintance with both monkey and man, who were evidently eccentrics, and Uncle Tim was a lover of eccentricity. The moment that the monkey spied a customer, he began his work of reformation by jumping off the stone, running the full tether of his chain, making a graceful bow, and holding out his cap for a contribution. His politeness was rewarded with sixpence from Uncle Timothy, and an approving word from his master; and the middle-aged gentleman, serenaded by a passing grind from the barrel-organ, walked slowly on.
A caravansary of exhibitors bound to Bartholomew Fair had halted at Mother Red Cap's,* an ancient hostelrie at the foot of Highgate Hill. Although weary and parched with thirst, Uncle Timothy might probably have journeyed onward, had not the 'beck'ning ghost' of jovial John Backster, flitting in the evening grey, motioned him, in imagination, to enter. He made his way to the low-roofed side parlour, where were assembled a motley troop of showmen and conjurors. One fellow was busily employed in shaving a baboon,‡
*Mother Red Cap, doubtless an emanation of Elinour Rumming, was a favourite sign during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the black Jack that she held in her hand was a symbol of good ale. Two ancient hostelries still bear her prepos sessing effigy one in the Hampstead Road, near Kentish Town; and one at Hollo way. It is said that a remarkable shrew, Mother Damnable, of Kentish Town, (of whom the late Mr. Bindley had an unique engraving,) gave rise to the former sign. This ill-favoured lady looks more like a witch, or sorceress, than an ale-wife. She would have frightened her customers out of the house, and their horses out of the sta ble! We are inclined to give the palm of priority to the venerable red-capped mother at Holloway, who must have been moderately notorious in the time of Drunken Bar. naby, when he halted to regale himself at her portal.
John Backster kept the Mother Red Cap at Holloway in 1667. We are in possession of his Token, on the right side of which is engraved Mother Red Cap holding a Black Jack, with his initials of J. B. His Half Peny:' and on the reverse, John Backster, att the Mother Read.Capp in hollway, 1667.
The baboon and the monkey were very popular drolls in ancient times. The following lines occur in a work called Ayres or Phantasticke Sprites for three Voices,' published by Thomas Weelkes, Batchelar of Musicke,' 1608.
which he intended to exhibit as a fairy; and another was rasping the rough chin of a muzzled bear, that bore the operation with exemplary patience, sitting in an arm-chair, dressed in a check waistcoat and trowsers, in his professional character of an Ethiopian savage! A conjuror was looking at a large dragon-fly through a magnifying glass, to see how it would pass off for the great high German highter-flighter; and the proprietor of an aviary was supplying a young blackbird with an artificial comb and wattles of red velvet, to find a customer for him as the great cocky, or olla bird of the desert. A showman was mending the fractured bridge of Mr. Punch's red nose, while his stage-manager tried a new tail on the devil. The master of the monster tea-kettle, who had recently been up the spout,' was tricking out his red-haired, strapping Dulcinea with peacock's feathers, bits of stained glass, catskins, strips of coloured leather, and teaching her to sing some unintelligible gibberish for the purpose of extracting from the Bartholomew Fair gulls a penny for the prodigious sight of a real wild Indian. A mermaid was in process of completion; a dog was practising a minuet with a monkey, to see how his fifth leg fitted him; a learned pigt was going through his lesson in numbers and cards; a cat of extraordinary intelligence was feeding a kitten with starch, to make it stand upright; a monkey instructed an intellectual goose how to carry a pair of miniature milkpails; a poetical licensed victualler had just painted on his board, which was emblazoned with the sign of the Griffin and Hoop, the following lines in capitals,
'I, John Stubbs lyveth hear,
Sels goode Brandy, Gin, and Bere,
"Why," quoth the Ape, "I have a horse at will
In Paris Garden, for to ride on still,
And there show tricks."-" Tush," quoth the Monkey, "I
Far better tricks in great men's houses lie."
"Tush!" quoth Baboon; "when men do know I come,
* In some of the old plays the devil was dressed in a black suit, painted with flames, and made to shine. Let the devil wear black for me, I'll have a suit of sables,' says Hamlet. In the mysteries and moralities of an earlier date, he was decorated with a hairy dress, like a wild-beast.
+ The earliest account that we have seen of a learned pig is to be found in an old Bartholomew Fair bill, issued by that Emperor of all conjurors, Mr. Fawkes, which exhibits the portrait of the swinish pundit holding a paper in his mouth, with the letter Y inscribed upon it. This most amazing pig,' which had a particularly curly tail, was the pattern of docility and sagacity: the Pig of Knowledge, Being the only one ever taught in England.' He was to be visited at a Commodious Room, at the George, West-Smithfield, During the time of the Fair and the spectators were required to See and Believe Three-pence was the price of admission to behold This astonishing animal' perform with cards, money, and watches, &c. &c. The bill concluded with a poetical apotheosis to the pig, from which we extract one
'A learned pig in George's reign,
To Esop's brutes an equal boast;
To render friendship still a toast.'
Stella said that Swift could write sublimely upon a broomstick. Who ever, as the Methodists say, better improved' a pig? Except by roasting it! In 1732, Mr. Fawkes exhibited a 'learned goose' opposite the George Inn, West-Smithfield.