The Project Gutenberg eBook of Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, Fifth Series, No. 6, Vol. I, February 9, 1884, by Various
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Title: Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, Fifth Series, No. 6, Vol. I, February 9, 1884
Author: Various
Release Date: April 03, 2021 [eBook #64975]
Language: English
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No. 6.—Vol. I.




It appears to be a mania with some people to criticise everything which comes in their way, no matter whether it be the last new bonnet of Mrs Smith, the pug dog possessed by Mr Jones, or the last new novel by Mr Brown; and as a true specimen of the ready-made critic, we might cite those interesting individuals who, having more time upon their hands than they can comfortably get rid of, endeavour to dispose of some of the surplus stock by subscribing to a circulating library, and diligently ‘cutting-up’ and otherwise abusing every author they read. Novels, of course, are the principal dish of these readers; and it must candidly be admitted that some of the notes pencilled in the margins are not altogether uncalled for; though some of them are decidedly personal, not to say unpleasant; while others, on the contrary, only raise a smile, and if particularly ridiculous, are underlined by some sarcastic reader, in order to call more attention to the blunder, which has probably been committed by some indolent and not very well-informed critic.

But taken as a whole, this criticism, although in some cases severe, is but the echo of public opinion, and as such, is entitled to consideration, no matter how humble the source may appear from which it springs; and we know of nothing more enjoyable than a well-read book, which has been some ten or twelve months in circulation. And such a book would without doubt prove of great service to its author, could he by any means get hold of a copy; for he would then have the opportunity of judging for himself how his work was appreciated by the public; and although some of the remarks would doubtless cause him annoyance, he should remember that they are the candid opinion of the readers through whose hands the work has passed. And if he has good sense and a desire to please the public, he would avail himself of those critical remarks which seemed to be just, and alter the text in any future editions. It is an author’s place to write his work to the best of his ability, and that of his readers to criticise it after it has appeared in print. Whether the book be good or bad, the author may be sure that he will have a faithful and industrious army of critics in the shape of subscribers to circulating libraries, who will diligently search out all its little defects, and display them in the margin for the edification of the next reader, who in turn will try his best to discover something which the other has passed over, and triumphantly display it in a similar manner. Although ‘the stone that is rolling’ is said to gather no moss, it is a far different thing with a novel; for the faster it passes from hand to hand, the more and more abundant becomes its crop; and at a seaside watering-place, the writer has seen blank sheets of letter-paper inserted between some of the leaves, because the margins were already too crowded, to admit of some reader adding his mite to the evidence there accumulated!

This is why we suppose it might be advantageous to an author to get hold of a copy of his work which has been through a like ordeal; and let him remember at the same time that his book has probably travelled through the hands of some people who are intimately acquainted with certain subjects upon which it treats, and whose opinion is not to be lightly passed over. As some of the novelists of the present day seem to think the law a machine which they can work upon as they choose, without the slightest regard to facts, it might be recommended to them either to study the subject seriously, or submit any notes which may appear upon this subject in the margins of their works, to an experienced lawyer; and in nine cases out of ten, the author will find that the readers’ notes are correct. This may be taken as a proof that people, although they may pass rough criticism upon the characters, situation, and general plot of a novel, are not so eager to criticise points which touch upon the law, physic, &c., unless they thoroughly understand the subject. As an instance of this, we have heard of a doctor who would never read{82} a new novel by a certain author, because in a former work this gentleman had murdered a man in a manner which my friend described as being ‘utterly ridiculous;’ for the poison administered, and of which the character in the novel died, would not in reality ‘have killed a cat.’

These remarks may serve to show that the public, although they may accept a taking title, a pretty cover, and a pound or so of toned paper, as a novel, will also exercise their right of picking its contents to pieces as soon as possible. To show with what diligence some of them do so, we quote the following: ‘The red rose actually died the captain’s cheeks.’ The word in italics is underlined in the book, and altered in the margin to dyed. This, of course, is merely a printer’s error; but it serves to show how the circulating-library critic delights in ‘cutting-up’ the work of other people’s brains, and exposing to the best advantage any little defect he may discover. Then, again, in the same work, in describing the scene of a shipwreck, the author makes use of the following words: ‘Quantities of chips, and pieces of wood, and bits of iron, were floating about.’ The words in italics are underlined in pencil by some incredulous reader, who could not quite appreciate the joke, and took this method of calling the next reader’s attention to it. The words might have been a mere slip of the pen; but, as they stand underlined in the book, it is impossible to overlook them now.

A little farther on in the same work, an unmarried gentleman is supposed to have made his will, bequeathing all his property to friends settled in the colonies; and his relatives at his decease are disputing the same, when this paragraph occurs, and is supposed to be uttered by a lawyer: ‘But had he lived to marry Lady A——, he would surely have cancelled this will!’ Probably had the gentleman lived, he would have done so; but our pencil-critic shows that such an act would have been altogether unnecessary, by writing against the paragraph: ‘The act of marrying would have rendered it null.’ This is strictly and legally correct; and as the words are supposed to be spoken by a lawyer, it shows that the opinion of these gentlemen is not always to be implicitly relied upon, especially when they air them in a novel.

To turn now to the criticising of situations, we find our amateur critic is quite as hard upon them as he is upon the characters, and will not allow a novelist to make use of situations which it is scarcely probable would happen in real life. A noble lord is forced through some miraculous circumstances which would rival the adventures narrated in the Arabian Nights, to associate with poachers, who are well known to the police; and after some time has elapsed, he at length regains the property, which has wrongfully been kept from him by his uncle; and to celebrate this happy event, he gives what is styled in the novel a ‘levée,’ and invites thereto the whole country-side, including the poachers, and also the police of the town. Our critic could not quite appreciate the novelty of this situation, and therefore pencils in the margin: ‘Is it likely the poachers would have ventured there?’ After studying the facts of the case, and reducing the subject to practical life, which is evidently the meaning of our critic, and also bearing in mind that the police and poachers were in the same room, and that several of the latter were ‘wanted’ for various offences, we may take that bit of criticism as sound.

If our voluntary critics will read novels, they must expect novel things; but as far as our observation goes, this is the very thing they criticise most. They will not allow a young and delicate lady to elope with a handsome Captain on a stormy night with nothing to protect her from the weather but a flimsy ball-dress, under any consideration whatever; but feelingly suggest in the margin that the gentleman should either offer her his ulster or procure an umbrella; a piece of advice for which I am sure the young lady’s parents would devoutly thank them, if they only had the pleasure of their acquaintance.

We might easily add to these examples; but the above is sufficient to show that the novelist who sits down to write a work of fiction merely for the sake of airing an opinion, or to please a certain person, neither caring in what language he expresses himself nor how absurd the book may be, may be sure of a warm reception when his work falls into the hands of the circulating-library critics.



They were still at breakfast when the postman arrived, and Madge was surprised to find amongst the letters two from the Manor. Both were addressed in Miss Hadleigh’s large angular writing: one was for her uncle, the other for herself.

As Madge had long conducted her uncle’s correspondence, she attended to his letters first; but remembering that still unexplained quarrel, misunderstanding, or whatever it was, between him and Mr Hadleigh, she discreetly kept the letter from Ringsford back till she had disposed of the others. These were all on business, and of a most satisfactory nature: good prices for grain, good prices for sheep and cattle, and reports of a deficient harvest in America, whilst that of Willowmere was excellent. Uncle Dick was in capital humour, and disposed to be on good terms with everybody. It is wonderful how prosperous all the world looks when our own affairs are thriving; and how merciful we can be in our judgment as to the cause of our neighbour’s failure.

Then Madge—sly Madge—opened the Ringsford letter, and read a formal invitation to dinner at the Manor a fortnight hence, on the eve of Mr Philip Hadleigh’s departure.

‘You will go, of course, uncle?’ said Madge, looking up with a coaxing smile.—‘And you will break through your rule of not going to parties{83} for once, aunt? You know we may not see Philip for a long, long time.’

Aunt Hessy smiled, and looked inquiringly at her husband. Dick Crawshay was not a man to bear malice; but it was evident that he did not relish this invitation. He was not frowning, but his face was not quite so cheerful as it had been a moment before.

‘I don’t know,’ he said, rising. ‘I hate these sort of things at Ringsford. They’ve always a lot of people that don’t know anything’ (about farming and cattle, he meant); ‘and when I’m there, I always feel as uncomfortable as a bull in a china-shop that didn’t want to break the crockery. Certain, I have spoken to some young fools that knew all about betting lists, but not one that knew the points of a horse—except Wrentham. They only want me there because they want you, Madge; and if it wasn’t for you, I’d say no straight off.’

‘But you mustn’t do that, uncle; at least wait till we see what is in my letter.’

‘You can tell me about it when I come in. That new reaping-machine ain’t doing what I expected of it, and I want to give it a fair trial under my own eyes.’

With that he went out, preceded by the dogs; for they had made for the door the moment their master rose to his feet, and as it opened, almost tumbled over each other in their haste to be first afield.

‘I hope he will go,’ said Madge thoughtfully; adding, after a pause: ‘We must try to persuade him, aunt.’

‘Why are you so anxious about this, child? I never knew you to be very eager to go to Ringsford yourself.’

‘Because I am about to disappoint Mr Hadleigh in a matter which he considers of great importance.’

Then she read the strange letter she had received from him, and Dame Crawshay was surprised almost as much as Madge herself by the earnestness of the appeal it contained. She was silent for several minutes, evidently occupied by some serious reflections. At length:

‘Thou knowest how I love the lad; but that does not blind me to his faults—nay, it need not startle thee to hear me say he has faults: we all have our share of them. Perhaps it is lucky for thee that what seems to me Philip’s worst fault is that he has the impulsive way his father speaks about.’

‘But all his impulses are good-natured ones.’

‘I do not doubt it; but that makes it the more needful he should have some experience of the world’s ways before tying himself and you down to a hard-and-fast line. Nothing but experience will ever teach us that the hard-and-fast line of life is the easiest in the end. There’s a heap of truth in what Mr Hadleigh says about Philip, though he doesn’t seem to me to have found the surest way of keeping him right.’

‘What would you advise, then?’ was the eager question.

‘Thou must settle this matter for thyself, Madge; but I will tell thee that there is one thing Mr Hadleigh is quite wrong about.’

‘What is that?’

‘In saying that Mr Shield would try to keep Philip from you.’

The emphasis on the last word and the curious, half-sad, half-pleased smile which accompanied it, caused Madge to ask wonderingly:

‘Did you know Mr Shield?’

‘Ay, long ago, before he went abroad.’

‘Have you never seen him since?’

‘Once—only once, and that was a sad time, although we were not five minutes together. He heard only a bit of the truth: he would not stay to hear it all, and I daresay he has had many a sorry hour for it since.’

She ceased, and leaning back on her chair, lapsed into a dream of sorrowful memories. Madge did not like to disturb her, for she was suddenly amazed by the suspicion that once upon a time Austin Shield had been Aunt Hessy’s lover.

But the active dame was not given to wool-gathering, and looking up quickly, she caught the expression of her niece, and guessed its meaning.

‘Nay, thou art mistaken,’ she said, shaking her head, and that curious smile again appeared on her face; ‘there has only been one man that was ever more than another to me, and that’s thy uncle.... But I’ll tell thee a secret, child; it can do no harm. Hast forgotten what I was telling thee and Philip in the garden yesterday?’

‘About the two lovers? O no.’

‘Well, the man was Mr Austin Shield, and the girl was thy mother.’

‘My mother!’ was the ejaculation of the astounded Madge.

‘Yes. It was a silly business on her part, poor soul; but she was cruelly deceived. She had been told lies about him; and there were so many things which made them look like truth, that she believed them.’

‘What could she have been told that could make her forget him?’

‘She never did forget him—she never could forget him; and she told the man she married so. What she was told was, that Austin had forgotten her, and taken somebody else to wife. At the same time no letters came from him. She waited for months, watching every post; but there was never a sign from him. She fretted and fretted; and father fretted to see her getting so bad on account of a man who was not worth thinking about. He had broken his word, and that was enough to make father turn his back on him for ever.’

‘But how did my mother come to—to marry so soon?’

‘She was kind of persuaded into it by father, and by her wish to please him. He was a kind good man; but he was strict in his notions of things. He considered that it was sinful of her to be thinking of a man who had done her such wrong. Then Mr Heathcote was a great friend of father’s—he was a deacon in our chapel—and he asked sister to be his wife. He was quiet and well-to-do then; and father was on his side, though he was twenty years older than your mother. Father thought that his age would make him the better guide for one who was so weak as to keep on mourning for a base man. He was never done speaking about the happy home that was offered her, and in every prayer asked the Lord to turn her heart into the right path.{84} At last she consented: but she told Mr Heathcote everything; and he said he was content, and that he would try his best to make her content too, by-and-by. Father was glad—and that did cheer poor sister a bit, for she was fond of father. So she married.’

‘And then?’

Only the subdued voice, the wide, startled eyes, indicated the agitation of the daughter, who was listening to this piteous story of a mother’s suffering.

‘And then there came a letter from Austin Shield, and he came himself almost as soon as the letter. He had been “up country,” as he called it, for more than a year, and he had been lucky beyond all his expectations. But there were no posts in the wild places he had been staying at. He had written to warn us not to expect to hear of him for many months; but the vessel that was carrying that message home to us—eh, deary, what sorrow it would have saved us—was wrecked in a fog on some big rock near the Scilly Isles; and although a-many of the mail-bags were fished up out of the sea, the one with sister’s letter in it was never found.’

‘What did my poor mother do?’

‘She sat and shivered and moaned; but she could not speak. I saw him when he came, and told him that he must not see her any more, for she was married. I wasn’t able to tell him how it happened, for the sight of his face feared me so. It was like white stone, and his eyes were black. Before I could get my tongue again, he gave me a look that I can never forget, and walked away.... I found out where he was, some time afterwards, and wrote telling him all about it. He answered me, saying: “Thank you. I understand. God bless you all.” We never had another word direct from him; but we often heard about him; and some time after your mother went to rest, we learned that he had really got married; and the news pleased me vastly, for it helped me to think that maybe he was comfortable and resigned at last. I hope he is; but he has no family, and his sending for Philip looks as if he wants somebody to console him.’

‘But who was it spread the lies about him at the first?’

‘Ah, that we never knew. It was cleverly done; the story was in everybody’s mouth; but nobody could tell where it had come from.’

The feelings of Madge as she listened to her aunt were of a complicated nature: there was the painful sympathy evoked by the knowledge that it was her own mother who had been so wickedly deceived; then it seemed as if the events related had happened to some one else; and again there was a mysterious sense of awe as she recognised how closely the past and the present were linked together. Philip was the near relation of the man her mother had loved, and was to be parted from her on his account for an indefinite period.

Who could tell what Fate might lie in this coincidence?

She pitied the lovers; and her indignation rose to passion at thought of the slanderers who had caused them so much misery. Then came confused thoughts about her father: he, too, must have loved as well as Mr Shield; and he had been generous.

Gentle hands were laid upon her bowed head, and looking up, she met the tender eyes of Aunt Hessy.

‘I have troubled you, child; but I have told you this so that you may understand why I cannot counsel you to bid Philip stay or go.’

A soft light beamed on Madge’s face; a sweet thought filled her heart. She would bid Philip go to help and comfort the man her mother had loved.


As soon as she found that Madge was calm and ready to proceed with the duties of the day, Aunt Hessy bustled out to look after the maidens in the dairy and the kitchen. The other affairs of the house were attended to by Madge assisted by Jenny Wodrow, an active girl, who had wisely given up straw-plaiting at Luton for domestic service at Willowmere.

When clearing the breakfast-table, Madge found Miss Hadleigh’s letter, which she had forgotten in the new interests and speculations excited by her aunt’s communication.

Miss Hadleigh was one of those young ladies who fancy that in personal intercourse with others dignity is best represented by the assumption of a languid air of indifference to everything, whilst they compensate themselves for this effort by ‘gushing’ over pages of note-paper. Of course she began with ‘My dearest Madge:’ everybody was her ‘dearest;’ and how she found a superlative sufficient to mark the degree of her regard for her betrothed is a problem in the gymnastics of language.

‘You know all about dearest Phil going to leave us in about a fortnight or three weeks, and goodness only knows when he may come home again. Well, we are going to have a little dinner-party all to his honour and glory, as you would see by the card I have addressed to your uncle. Mind, it is a little and very select party. There will be nobody present except the most intimate and most esteemed friends of the Family.’ (Family written with a very large capital F.)

‘Now the party cannot be complete without you and your dear uncle and aunt; and I write this special supplement to the card to implore you to keep yourselves free for Tuesday the 28th, and to tell you that we will take no excuse from any of you. Carrie and Bertha want to have some friends in after dinner, so that they might get up a dance. Of course, in my position I do not care for these things now; but to please the girls, it might be arranged. Would you like it?—because, if you did, that would settle the matter at once. We have not told Phil yet, because he always makes fun of everything we do to try and amuse him. Papa has been consulted, and as usual leaves it all to us.—Please do write soon, darling, and believe me ever yours most affectionately,

Beatrice Hadleigh.’

P.S.—If you don’t mind, dear, I wish you would tell me what colour you are to wear, so that I might have something to harmonise with{85} it. We might have a symphony all to ourselves, as the æsthetes call it.’

From this it appeared that Philip’s sisters were not aware of their father’s desire to keep him at home. There would be no difficulty in replying to Miss Hadleigh—even to the extent of revealing the colour of her dress—when Uncle Dick had consented to go.

When the immediate household cares were despatched, Madge sat down at her desk to write to Mr Hadleigh. She was quite clear about what she had to say; but she paused, seeking the gentlest way of saying it.

Dear Mr Hadleigh,’ she began at last, ‘Your letter puts a great temptation in my way; and I should be glad to avoid doing anything to displease you. But your son has given me a reason for his going, which leaves him no alternative but to go, and me no alternative but to pray that he may return safely and well.’

When she had signed and sealed up this brief epistle, a mountain seemed to roll off her shoulders; her head became clear again: she knew that what Philip and her mother would have wished had been done. A special messenger was sent off with it to Ringsford; for although the distance between the two places was only about three miles, the letter would not have been delivered until next day, had it gone by the ordinary post.

Mr Hadleigh read these few lines without any sign of disappointment. He read them more than once, and found in them something so quietly decisive, that he would have considered it an easier task to conquer Philip in his most obstinate mood, than to move this girl one hair’s-breadth from her resolve.

He refolded the paper carefully and placed it in his pocket. Then he rang the bell.

‘Bid Toomey be ready to drive me over to catch the ten o’clock train,’ he said quietly to the servant who answered his summons.

‘A pity, a pity,’ he repeated to himself. ‘Fools both—they will not accept happiness when it is offered them. A pity, a pity.... They will have their way.’

The carriage conveyed him to Dunthorpe Station in good time for the train; and the train being a ‘fast,’ landed him at Liverpool Street Station before eleven o’clock.

He walked slowly along Broad Street, a singular contrast to the hurry and bustle of the other passengers. He was not going in the direction of his own offices; and he did not look as if he were going on any particular business anywhere. He had the air of a man who was taking an enforced constitutional, and who by mistake had wandered into the city instead of into the park.

He turned into Cornhill, and then into Golden Alley, which must have obtained its name when gold was only known in quartz; for it was a dull, gloomy-looking place, with dust-stained windows and metal plates up the sides of the doorways, so begrimed that it required an effort of the sight to decipher the names on them. But it was quiet and eminently respectable. Standing in Golden Alley, one had the sense of being in the midst of steady-going, long-established firms, who had no need of outward show to attract customers.

Mr Hadleigh halted for a moment at one of the doors, and looked at a leaden-like plate, bearing the simple inscription, Gribble & Co. He ascended one flight of stairs, and entered an office in which two clerks were busy at their desks, whilst a youth at another desk near the door was addressing envelopes with the eager rapidity of one who is paid so much per thousand.

No one paid any attention to the opening of the door.

‘Is Mr Wrentham in?’ inquired Mr Hadleigh.

At the sound of his voice, one of the clerks advanced obsequiously.

‘Yes, sir. He is engaged at present; but I will send in your name.’

He knew who the visitor was; and after rapidly writing the name on a slip of paper, took it into an inner room. Mr Hadleigh glanced over some bills which were lying on the counter announcing the dates of sailing of a number of A1 clippers and first-class screw-steamers to all parts of the world.

The clerk reappeared, and with a polite, ‘Will you walk in, sir?’ held the door of the inner room open till Mr Hadleigh passed in, and then closed it.

Mr Wrentham rose from his table, holding out his hand. ‘Glad to see you here, Mr Hadleigh—very glad. I hope it is business that brings you?’

‘Yes—important business,’ was the answer.



My late father-in-law, a physician in extensive practice, once possessed a horse named Jack, which was celebrated for his many peculiarities and his great sagacity. One of his antipathies was a decided hatred to one particular melody, the well-known Irish air, Drops of Brandy. If any one began to whistle or hum this air, Jack would instantly show fight by laying his ears back, grinding his teeth, biting and kicking, but always recovering his good temper when the music ceased. No other melody or music of any kind ever affected him; you might whistle or sing as long as you liked, provided you did not attempt the objectionable Irish air. One of the doctor’s nephews and Jack were great friends. The lad could do almost anything with him; but if he presumed to whistle the objectionable melody of Erin, Jack would show his displeasure by instantly pulling off the lad’s cap and biting it savagely, but never attempting the smallest personal injury to the boy himself, and always exhibiting his love when the sounds ceased; thus saying, as plainly as a horse could say: ‘We are great friends, and I love you very much; but pray, don’t make that odious noise, to which I entertain a very strong objection.’

Jack had another and very peculiar antipathy—he never would permit anything bulky to be carried by his rider. This came out for the first time one day when the doctor was going on a visit, and having to sleep at his friend’s, intended{86} to take a small handbag with him. On the groom handing this up to the doctor, after he was mounted, Jack—who had been an attentive observer of the whole proceeding by craning his head round—at once exhibited his strong displeasure by rearing, kicking, buck-jumping, and jibing—so utterly unlike his usual steady-going ways, that the doctor at once divined the cause, and threw the bag down, when Jack became perfectly quiet and docile; but instantly, however, re-enacting the same scene, when the groom once more offered the bag to the doctor. The experiment was repeated several times, and always with the same singular result; and at length the attempt was given up, when Jack trotted off on his journey, showing the best of tempers throughout. Why he should have exhibited this extraordinary dislike to carrying a small handbag, which was neither large in size nor heavy in weight, it is impossible even to guess.

On another occasion the groom, wishing to bring home with him a small sack containing some household requisite, thought to lay it across the front of his saddle; but Jack was too quick and too sharp for him. Instantly rearing, and then kicking violently, he threw the groom off on one side and the objectionable burden on the other. After this, no further attempts were made to ruffle the customary serenity of Jack’s rather peculiar temper.

The same gentleman also possessed a beautiful bay mare called Jenny, remarkable for her sweet temper and pretty loving ways. She was a great favourite with the doctor’s daughters, and would ‘shake hands’ when asked, and kiss them in the most engaging manner, with a sort of nibbling motion of her black lips up and down the face. She would follow any one she liked about the fields, answer to her name like a dog, and would always salute any of her favourites on seeing them with that pretty low ‘hummering’ sound so common with pet horses, but never heard from those subject to ill-treatment. But, with all these graces, the pretty and interesting Jenny had several peculiar antipathies, in one of which she too somewhat resembled a dog Wag (to be noticed in a future article), and that was a marked dislike to the singing voice of one particular person, a lady, a relative of the doctor’s. This lady often went to the stable to feed Jenny with lettuces or apples, and they were always the best of friends; but so sure as she began to sing anything, Jenny instantly forgot her good manners, lost all propriety, and exhibited the usual signs of strong equine displeasure, although she never took the smallest notice of the singing or whistling of any other person, treating it apparently with indifference. One day, as the doctor was driving this lady out, he suggested, by way of experiment, that she should begin to sing. In a moment, Jenny’s ears were down flat, and a great kick was delivered with hearty goodwill on to the front of the carriage; and more would doubtless have followed, had not the lady prudently stopped short in her vocal efforts; when Jenny was herself again, and resumed her usual good behaviour.

Another and very remarkable peculiarity of Jenny’s was her unaccountable antipathy to the doctor’s wife. If that lady approached her, she would grind her teeth savagely, and try to bite her in the most spiteful manner. What is perhaps even more singular, she would never, if possible, let the lady get into the carriage, if she knew it. Jenny would turn her head, and keep a lookout behind her, in the drollest manner possible; and the moment she caught sight of the lady approaching the carriage for the purpose of getting in, Jenny would immediately commence her troublesome tantrums of biting and kicking. So strongly did she object to drawing her mistress, that more than once she damaged the carriage with her powerful heels, so that the doctor was obliged to request his wife to approach the carriage from behind, whilst a groom held Jenny’s head, to prevent her looking round. Even this was not always sufficient; for if the lady talked or laughed, Jenny would actually recognise her voice, and the usual ‘scene’ would be forthwith enacted. Now, the most singular part of this story is, that this lady was, like all her family, a genuine lover of all animals, especially horses. She was very fond of Jenny, and had tried in every way to make friends with her, and therefore her dislike to her mistress was all the more unaccountable, as there was not a shadow of cause for it. We can all understand dislike on the part of any animal where there has been any sort of ill-usage; but it is wholly inexplicable when nothing but love and kindness has been invariably practised towards that animal.

Jenny I am afraid was a great pet, and like all pets, was full of fads and fancies. One of these was certainly peculiar. Not far from the doctor’s residence there was a particular gate opening into a field. As soon as Jenny came near this gate, she would commence her tantrums, rearing, kicking, plunging, jibing, and altogether declining to pass it; and it was not until after the exercise of a great amount of patience and perseverance, by repeatedly leading her—after much opposition—up to the gate and making her see it and smell it—thereby proving to her that it would do her no harm—that at length she was brought to pass it quietly and without notice. What could have occasioned this strange antipathy to one particular gate, it is impossible to guess, for, until she came into the doctor’s possession, she had never been in that part of the county, and therefore could have had no unpleasant recollections of this gate in any way. It is, however, possible that the gate in question might have strongly resembled some other gate elsewhere with which were associated disagreeable memories; for I well remember that, some years ago, I often rode a fine young mare which had only recently come from Newmarket, where she had been trained. At first, she could never be induced to go down Rotten Row without a great deal of shying, jibing, and rearing, and other signs of resistance and displeasure. And this was subsequently explained by the fact, that the place where she was trained and exercised at Newmarket was a long road with a range of posts and rails, closely resembling Rotten Row; and{87} doubtless the mare was under the impression that this was either the same place, or that she was about to be subjected to the same severe training which she had undergone at Newmarket; hence her determined opposition.

One more trait of Jenny’s odd antipathies must be mentioned before I conclude, and that was her fixed aversion to men of the working peasant class. She would never let such a man hold her by the bridle, or even approach her, without trying to bite him, and jerking her head away with every sign of anger and aversion whilst he stood near. But she never exhibited any feelings of dislike to well-dressed, clean, comfortable-looking persons, who might have done almost anything with her, and with whom she would ‘shake hands,’ or kiss in the gentlest possible manner. Of a truth, Jenny was certainly unique in her odd fancies and peculiar behaviour in every way; a singular mixture of good and evil—a spiteful, vindictive temper on the one hand, combined with the utmost affection and docility on the other.




Five minutes later, Miss Brandon burst into the room in her usual impulsive fashion. Lady Dimsdale was standing at one of the windows. It was quite enough for Elsie to find there was some one to talk to—more especially when that some one was Lady Dimsdale, whom she looked upon as the most charming woman in the world. At once she began to rattle on after her usual fashion. ‘Thank goodness, those hateful exercises are over for to-day. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. Arma virumque cano. How I do detest Latin! My grandmother didn’t know a word of it, and she was the most delightful old lady I ever knew. Besides, where’s the use of it? When Charley and I are married, I can’t talk to him in Latin—nor even to the butcher’s boy, nor the fishmonger. Perhaps, if I were to speak to my poodle in dog-Latin, he might understand me.’ Then, with a sudden change of manner, she said: ‘Dear Lady Dimsdale, what is the matter?’ for Laura had turned, and the traces of tears were still visible around her eyes. ‘Why, I do believe you have been’——

‘Yes, crying—that’s the only word for it,’ answered Laura with a smile.

‘Do tell me what it is. Nothing serious?’

‘Nothing more serious than the last chapter of a foolish love-story.’ She had taken up a book instinctively.

‘I’m awfully glad it’s nothing worse. Love-stories that make one cry are delicious. I always feel better after a good cry.’ Her sharp eyes were glancing over the title of the book in Lady Dimsdale’s hand. ‘“Buchan’s Domestic Medicine,”’ she read out aloud. ‘Dear Lady Dimsdale, surely this is not the book that’—— She was suddenly silent. The room had a bow-window, the casement of which stood wide open this sunny morning. Elsie had heard voices on the terrace outside. ‘That’s dear old nunky’s voice,’ she said. ‘And—yes—no—I do believe it is though!’ She crossed to the window and peeped out from behind the curtains.

Stumping slowly along the terrace, assisted by his thick Malacca, came Captain Bowood. By his side marched a dark-bearded military-looking inspector of police, dressed in the regulation blue braided frock-coat and peaked cap. They were engaged in earnest conversation.

‘An inspector of police! What can be the matter? I do believe they are coming here.’ So spoke Elsie; but when she looked round, expecting a response, she found herself alone. Lady Dimsdale had slipped out of the room.

The voices came nearer. Elsie seated herself at the table, opened a book, ruffled her hair, and pretended to be poring over her lessons.

The door opened, and Captain Bowood, followed by the inspector, entered the room. ‘Pheugh! Enough to frizzle a nigger,’ ejaculated the former, as he mopped his forehead with his yellow bandana handkerchief. Then perceiving Elsie, he said, as he pinched one of her ears, ‘Ha, Poppet, you here?’

‘Yes, nunky; and dreadfully puzzled I am. I want to find out in what year the Great Pyramid was built. Do, please, tell me.’

‘Ha, ha!—Listen to that, Mr Inspector.—If you had asked me the distance from here to New York, now. Great Pyramid, eh?’

The inspector, pencil and notebook in hand, was examining the fastenings of the window. ‘Very insecure, Captain Bowood,’ he said; ‘very insecure indeed. A burglar would make short work of them.’

Miss Brandon was eying him furtively. There was a puzzled look on her face. ‘I could almost swear it was Charley’s voice; and yet’——

‘Come, come; you’ll frighten us out of our wits, if you talk like that,’ answered the Captain.

‘Many burglaries in this neighbourhood of late,’ remarked the inspector sententiously.

‘Just so, just so.’ This was said a little uneasily.

‘Best to warn you in time, sir.’

‘O Charley, you naughty, naughty boy!’ remarked Miss Brandon under her breath. ‘Even I did not know him at first.’

‘But if Mr Burglar chooses to pay us a visit, who’s to hinder him?’ asked the Captain.

The inspector shrugged his shoulders and smiled an inscrutable smile.

‘You don’t mean to say that they intend to pay us a visit to-night? Come now.’

‘Every reason to believe so, Captain.’

‘But, confound it! how do you know all this?’

‘Secret information. Know many things. Mrs Bowood keeps her jewel-case in top left-hand drawer in her dressing-room. Know that.’

‘Bless my heart! How did you find that out?’

‘Secret information. Gold chronometer with inscription on it hidden away at the bottom of your writing-desk. Know that.’

‘How the’——

‘Secret information.’

‘O Charley, Charley, you artful darling!’—this sotto voce from Miss Brandon.

The Captain looked bewildered, as well he might. ‘This is really most wonderful,’ he said. ‘But about those rascals who, you say, are going to visit us to-night?’

‘Give ’em a warm reception, Captain. Leave that to me.’


‘Yes, yes. Warm reception. Good. Have some of your men in hiding, eh, Mr Inspector?’

‘Half a dozen of ’em, Captain.’

‘Just so, just so. And I’ll be in hiding too. I’ve a horse-pistol up-stairs nearly as long as my arm.’

‘Shan’t need that, sir.’

‘No good having a horse-pistol if one doesn’t make use of it now and then.’

‘Half-a-dozen men—three inside the house, and three out,’ remarked the inspector as he wrote down the particulars in his book.

‘And I’ll make the seventh—don’t forget that!’ cried the Captain, looking as fierce as some buccaneer of bygone days. ‘If there’s one among the burglars more savage than the rest, leave him for me to tackle.’

‘My poor, dear nunky, if you only knew!’ murmured Elsie under her breath.

‘Perhaps I had better lend you a pair of these, Captain; they might prove useful in a scuffle,’ remarked the inspector as he produced a pair of handcuffs from the tail-pocket of his coat. ‘The simplest bracelets in the world. The easiest to get on, and the most difficult to get off—till you know how. Allow me. This is how it’s done. What could be more simple?’

Nothing apparently could be more simple, seeing that, before Captain Bowood knew what had happened, he found himself securely handcuffed.

‘Ha, ha—just so. Queer sensation—very,’ he exclaimed, turning redder in the face than usual. ‘But I don’t care how soon you take them off, Mr Inspector.’

‘No hurry, Captain, no hurry.’

‘Confound you! what do you mean by no hurry? What’—— But here the Captain came to a sudden stop.

The inspector’s black wig and whiskers had vanished, and the laughingly impudent features of his peccant nephew were revealed to his astonished gaze.

‘Good-afternoon, my dear uncle. This is the second time to-day that I have had the pleasure of seeing you.’ Then he called: ‘Elsie, dear!’

‘Here I am, Charley,’ came in immediate response.

‘Come and kiss me.’

‘Yes, Charley.’ And with that Miss Brandon rose from her chair, and with a slightly heightened colour and the demurest air possible, came down the room and allowed her lover to lightly touch her lips with his. It was a pretty picture.

‘What—what! Why—why,’ spluttered the Captain. For a little while words seemed to desert him.

‘My dear uncle, pray, pray, do not allow yourself to get quite so red in the face; at your time of life you really alarm me.’

‘You—you vile young jackanapes! You—you cockatrice!—And you, miss, you shall smart for this. I’ll—I’ll—— Oh!’

‘Patience, good uncle; prithee, patience.’

‘Patience! O for a good horsewhip!’

‘When I called upon you this morning, sir,’ resumed Charles the imperturbable, ‘I left unsaid the most important part of that which I had come to say; it therefore became needful that I should see you again.’

‘O for a horsewhip! Are you going to take these things off me, or are you not?’

‘The object of my second visit, sir, is to inform you that Miss Brandon and I are engaged to be married, and to beg of you to give us your consent and blessing, and make two simple young creatures happy.’

‘Handcuffed like a common poacher on his way to jail! Oh, when once I get free!’

‘We have made up our minds to get married; haven’t we, Elsie?’

‘We have—or else to die together,’ replied Miss Brandon, as she struck a little tragic attitude.

‘Think over what I have said, my dear uncle, and accord us your consent.’

‘Or our deaths will lie at your door.’

‘Every night as the clock struck twelve, you would see us by your side.’

‘You would never more enjoy your rum-and-water and your pipe.’

‘I should tickle your ear with a ghostly feather, and wake you in the middle of your first sleep.’

‘I shall go crazy—crazy!’ spluttered the Captain. He would have stamped his foot, only he was afraid of the gout.

‘Not quite, sir, I hope,’ replied young Summers, with a sudden change of manner; and next moment, and without any action of his own in the matter, the Captain found himself a free man. The first thing he did was to make a sudden grasp at his cane; but Elsie was too quick for him, or it might have fared ill with her sweetheart.

Master Charley laughed. ‘I am sorry, my dear uncle, to have to leave you now; but time is pressing. You will not forget what I have said, I feel sure. I shall look for your answer to my request in the course of three or four days; or would you prefer, sir, that I should wait upon you for it in person?’

‘If you ever dare to set foot inside my door again, I’ll—I’ll spiflicate you—yes, sir, spiflicate you!’

‘To what a terrible fate you doom me, good my lord!—Come, Elsie, you may as well walk with me through the shrubbery.’

Miss Brandon going up suddenly to Captain Bowood, flung her arms round his neck and kissed him impulsively. ‘You dear, crusty, cantankerous, kind-hearted old thing, I can’t help loving you!’ she cried.

‘Go along, you baggage. As bad as he is—every bit. Go along.’

Au revoir, uncle,’ said Mr Summers with his most courtly stage bow. ‘We shall meet again—at Philippi.’

A moment later, Captain Bowood found himself alone. ‘There’s impudence!’ he exclaimed. ‘It’s worse than that; it’s cheek—downright cheek. Never bamboozled like it before. Handcuffed! What an old nincompoop I must have looked! Good thing Sir Frederick or any of the others didn’t see me. I should never have heard the last of it.’ With that, the last trace of ill-humour vanished, and he burst into a hearty, sailor-like guffaw. ‘Just the sort of trick I should have gloried in when I was a young spark!’ He rose from his chair, took his cane in his hand, and limped as far as the window, his gout being rather troublesome this afternoon. ‘So, so. There they go, arm in arm. Who would have thought of Don Carlos falling in love with Miss Saucebox?{89} But I don’t know that he could do better. She’s a good girl—a little flighty just now; but that will cure itself by-and-by—and she will have a nice little property when she comes of age. Must pretend to set my face against it, though, and that will be sure to make them fonder of one another. Ha, ha! we old sea-dogs know a thing or two.’ And with that the Captain winked confidentially to himself two or three times and went about his business.

When Sir Frederick Pinkerton followed Mrs Bowood and Mrs Boyd out of the room where the interview had taken place, and left Lady Dimsdale sitting there alone, he quitted the house at once, and sauntered in his usual gingerly fashion through the flower-garden to an unfrequented part of the grounds known as the Holly Walk, where there was not much likelihood of his being interrupted. Like Lady Dimsdale, he wanted to be alone. Just then, he had much to occupy his thoughts. To and fro he paced the walk slowly and musingly, his hands behind his back, his eyes bent on the ground.

‘What tempts me to do this thing?’ he asked himself, not once, but several times. ‘That I dislike the man is quite certain; why, then, take upon myself to interfere between this woman and him? Certainly I have nothing to thank Oscar Boyd for; why, then, mix myself up in a matter that concerns me no more than it concerns the man in the moon? If he had not appeared on the scene just when he did, I might perhaps have won Lady Dimsdale for my wife. But now? Too late—too late! Even when he and this woman shall have gone their way, he will live in my lady’s memory, never probably to be forgotten. He is her hero of romance. That he made love to her in years gone by, when they were young together, there is little doubt; that he made love to her again this morning, and met with no such rebuff as I did, seems equally clear; and though she knows now that he can never become her husband, yet she on her side will never forget him. In what way, then, am I called upon to interfere in his affairs? Should I not be a fool for my pains? And yet to let that woman claim him as her own, when a word from me would—— No! Noblesse oblige. What should I think of myself in years to come, if I were to permit this man’s life to be blasted by so cruel a fraud? The thought would hardly be a pleasant one on one’s deathbed.’ He shrugged his shoulders, and went on slowly pacing the Holly Walk. At length he raised his head and said half aloud: ‘I will do it, and at once; but it shall be on my own conditions, Lady Dimsdale—on my own conditions.’

There was a gardener at work some distance away. He called the man to him, and sent him with a message to the house. Ten minutes later, Lady Dimsdale entered the Holly Walk.

Sir Frederick approached her with one of his most elaborate bows.

‘You wish to see me, Sir Frederick?’ she said inquiringly, but a little doubtfully. She hoped that he was not about to re-open the subject that had been discussed between them earlier in the day.

‘I have taken the liberty of asking you to favour me with your company for a few minutes—here, where we shall be safe from interruption. The matter I am desirous of consulting you upon admits of no delay.’

She bowed, but said nothing. His words reassured her on one point, while filling her with a vague uneasiness. The sunshade she held over her head was lined with pink; it served its purpose in preventing the Baronet from detecting how pale and wan was the face under it.

They began to pace the walk slowly side by side.

‘Equally with others, Lady Dimsdale, you are aware that, by a strange turn of fortune, Mr Boyd’s wife, whom he believed to have been dead for several years, has this morning reappeared?’

‘You were in the parlour, Sir Frederick, when I was introduced to Mrs Boyd only half an hour ago.’ She answered him coldly and composedly enough; but he could not tell how her heart was beating.

‘Strangely enough, I happened to be in New Orleans about the time of Mr Boyd’s marriage, and I know more about the facts of that unhappy affair than he has probably told to any one in England. It is enough to say that the reappearance of this woman is the greatest misfortune that could have happened to him. Oscar Boyd was a miserable man before he parted from her—he will be ten times more miserable in years to come.’

‘You have not asked me to meet you here, Sir Frederick, in order to tell me this?’

‘This, and something more, Lady Dimsdale. Listen!’ He laid one finger lightly on the sleeve of his companion’s dress, as if to emphasise her attention. ‘I happen to be acquainted with a certain secret—it matters not how it came into my possession—the telling of which—and it could be told in half-a-dozen words—would relieve Mr Boyd of this woman at once and for ever, would make a free man of him, as free to marry as in those old days when he used to haunt that vicarage garden which I too remember so well!’

Lady Dimsdale stopped in her walk and stared at him with wide-open eyes. ‘You—possess—a secret that could do all this!’

‘I have stated no more than the simple truth.’

‘Then Mr Boyd is not this woman’s husband?’ The question burst from her lips swiftly, impetuously. Next moment her eyes fell and a tell-tale blush suffused her cheeks. But here again the pink-lined sunshade came to her rescue.

‘Mr Boyd is the husband of no other woman,’ answered the Baronet drily.

‘With what object have you made me the recipient of this confidence, Sir Frederick?’

‘That I will presently explain. You are probably aware that Mr Boyd leaves for London by the next train?’

Lady Dimsdale bowed.

‘So that if my information is to be made available at all, no time must be lost.’

‘I still fail to see why—— But that does not matter. As you say, there is no time to lose. You will send for Mr Boyd at once, Sir Frederick. You are a generous-minded man, and you will not fail to reveal to him a secret which so nearly affects the happiness of his life.’ She spoke to him appealingly, almost imploringly.

He smiled a coldly disagreeable smile. ‘Pardon me, Lady Dimsdale, but generosity is one of{90} those virtues which I have never greatly cared to cultivate. Had I endeavoured to do so, the soil would probably have proved barren, and the results not worth the trouble. In any case, I have never tried. I am a man of the world, that, and nothing more.’

‘But this secret, Sir Frederick—as between man and man, as between one gentleman and another—you will not keep it to yourself? You will not. No! I cannot believe that of you.’

He lifted his hat for a moment. ‘Lady Dimsdale flatters me.’ Then he glanced at his watch. ‘Later even than I thought. This question must be decided at once, or not at all. Lady Dimsdale, I am willing to reveal my secret to Mr Boyd on one condition—and on one only.’

For a moment she hesitated, being still utterly at a loss to imagine why the Baronet had taken her so strangely into his confidence. Then she said: ‘May I ask what the condition in question is, Sir Frederick?’

‘It was to tell it to you that I asked you to favour me with your presence here. Lady Dimsdale, my one condition is this: That when this man—this Mr Oscar Boyd—shall be free to marry again, as he certainly will be when my secret becomes known to him—you shall never consent to become his wife, and that you shall never reveal to him the reason why you decline to do so.’

‘Oh! This to me! Sir Frederick Pinkerton, you have no right to assume—— Nothing, nothing can justify this language!’

He thought he had never seen her look so beautiful as she looked at that moment, with flashing eyes, heaving bosom, and burning cheeks.

He bowed and spread out his hands deprecatingly. ‘Pardon me, but I have assumed nothing—nothing whatever. I have specified a certain condition as the price of my secret. Call that condition a whim—the whim of an eccentric elderly gentleman, who, having no wife to keep him within the narrow grooves of common-sense, originates many strange ideas at times. Call it by what name you will, Lady Dimsdale, it still remains what it was. To apply a big word to a very small affair—you have heard my ultimatum.’ He glanced at his watch again. ‘I shall be in the library for the next quarter of an hour. One word from you—Yes or No—and I shall know how to act. On that one word hangs the future of your friend, Mr Oscar Boyd.’ He saluted her with one of his most ceremonious bows, and then turned and walked slowly away.

There was a garden-seat close by, and to this Lady Dimsdale made her way. She was torn by conflicting emotions. Indignation, grief, wonder, curiosity, each and all held possession of her. ‘Was ever a woman forced into such a cruel position before?’ she asked herself. ‘What can this secret be? Is that woman not his wife? Yet Oscar recognised her as such the moment he set eyes on her. Can it be possible that she had a husband living when he married her, and that Sir Frederick is aware of the fact? It is all a mystery. Oh, how cruel, how cruel of Sir Frederick to force me into this position! What right has he to assume that even if Oscar were free to-morrow, he would—— And yet—— Oh, it is hard—hard! Why has this task been laid upon me? He will be free, and yet he must never know by what means. But whose happiness ought I to think of first—his or my own? His—a thousand times his! There is but one answer possible, and Sir Frederick knows it. He understands a woman’s heart. I must decide at once—now. There is not a moment to lose. But one answer.’ Her eyes were dry, although her heart was full of anguish. Tears would find their way later on.

She quitted her seat, and near the end of the walk she found the same gardener that the Baronet had made use of. She beckoned the man to her, and as she slipped a coin into his hand, said to him: ‘Go to Sir Frederick Pinkerton, whom you will find in the library, and say to him that Lady Dimsdale’s answer is “Yes.”’

The man scratched his head and stared at her open-mouthed; so, for safety’s sake, she gave him the message a second time. Then he seemed to comprehend, and touching his cap, set off at a rapid pace in the direction of the house.

Lady Dimsdale took the same way slowly, immersed in bitter thoughts. ‘Farewell, Oscar, farewell!’ her heart kept repeating to itself. ‘Not even when you are free, must you ever learn the truth.’

Meanwhile, Mrs Boyd, after lunching heartily with kind, chatty Mrs Bowood to keep her company, and after arranging her toilet, had gone back to the room in which her husband had left her, and from which he had forbidden her to stir till his return. She was somewhat surprised not to find him there, but quite content to wait till he should think it well to appear. There was a comfortable-looking couch in the room, and after a hearty luncheon on a warm day, forty winks seem to follow as a natural corollary; at least that was Estelle’s view of the present state of affairs. But before settling down among the soft cushions of the couch, she went up to the glass over the chimney-piece, and taking a tiny box from her pocket, opened it, and, with the swan’s-down puff which she found therein, just dashed her cheeks with the faintest possible soupçon of Circassian Bloom, and then half rubbed it off with her handkerchief.

‘A couple of glasses of champagne would have saved me the need of doing this; but your cold thin claret has neither soul nor fire in it,’ she remarked to herself. ‘How comfortable these English country-houses are. I should like to stay here for a month. Only the people are so very good and, oh! so very stupid, that I know I should tire of them in a day or two, and say or do something that would make them fling up their hands in horror.’ She yawned, gave a last glance at herself, and then went and sat down on the couch. As she was re-arranging the pillows, she found a handkerchief under one of them. She pounced on it in a moment. In one corner was a monogram. She read the letters, ‘L. D.,’ aloud. ‘My Lady Dimsdale’s, without a doubt,’ she said. ‘Damp, too. She has been crying for the loss of her darling Oscar.’ She dropped the handkerchief with a sneer and set her foot on it. ‘How sweet it is to have one’s rival under one’s feet—sweeter still, when you know that she loves him and you don’t! Lady Dimsdale will hardly care to let Monsieur Oscar{91} kiss her again. He is going away on a long journey with his wife—with his wife, ha, ha! Fools! If they only knew!’ The echo of her harsh, unwomanly laugh had scarcely died away, when the door opened, and the man of whom she had been speaking stood before her.

After bidding farewell to Lady Dimsdale, Mr Boyd had plunged at once into a lonely part of the grounds, where he would be able to recover himself in some measure, unseen by any one. Of a truth, he was very wretched. It seemed almost impossible to believe that one short hour—nay, even far less than that—should have sufficed to plunge him from the heights of felicity into the lowest depths of misery. Yet, so it was; and thus, alas, it is but too often in this world of unstable things. But the necessity for action was imminent upon him; there would be time enough hereafter for thinking and suffering. A few minutes sufficed to enable him to lock down his feelings beyond the guess or ken of others, and then he went in search of Captain Bowood. He found his host and Mrs Bowood together. The latter was telling her husband all about her recent interview with Mrs Boyd. The mistress of Rosemount had never had a bird of such strange plumage under her roof before, and had rarely been so puzzled as she was to-day. That this woman was a lady, Mrs Bowood’s instincts declined to let her believe; but the fact that she was Mr Boyd’s wife seemed to prove that she must be something better than an adventuress. The one certain fact was, that she was a guest at Rosemount, and as such must be made welcome.

When Mr Boyd entered the room, Mrs Bowood was at once struck by the change in his appearance. She felt instinctively that some great calamity had overtaken this man, and her motherly heart was touched. Accordingly, when Mr Boyd intimated to her and the Captain that it was imperatively necessary that he and his wife should start for London by the five o’clock train, she gave expression to her regret that such a necessity should have arisen, but otherwise offered no opposition to the proposed step, as, under ordinary circumstances, she would have been sure to do. In matters such as these, the Captain always followed his wife’s lead. Five minutes later, Oscar Boyd went in search of his wife.


To have spent a winter in Rome is so common an experience for English people, that it seems as if there were nothing new to be said about it, nothing out of the ordinary routine to be done during its course. We all know we must lodge in or near the Piazza di Spagna; must make the round of the studios; drive on the Pincio; go to the Trinità to hear the nuns sing; have an audience of the Holy Father; drink the Trevi water; muse in the Colosseum; wander with delighted bewilderment through the sculpture-galleries of the Vatican; explore the ruins on the Palatine; get tickets for the Cercola Artistica; attend Sunday vespers at St Peter’s; and tire ourselves to death amongst the three hundred and odd churches, each one with some special attraction, which forbids us to slight it. These things are amongst the unwritten laws of travel; English, Americans, and Germans are impelled alike by a curious instinct of duty to carry them out to the letter. In so doing, they jostle one another perpetually, see over and over again the same faces, hear the same remarks, and alas! find only the same ideas. But notwithstanding this, there are yet undiscovered corners in the old city, and many quaint ceremonies are unknown to or overlooked by the forestieri. An account of some of these latter may perhaps be found interesting.

A few winters ago, we learned, through the politeness of a cardinal’s secretary, that certain services well worth attending would take place in St Peter’s, commencing at about half-past seven on the mornings of the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Holy-week. These were the consecration of the chrism used in baptism and the oil for extreme unction, the commemoration of the death and passion of our Lord, and the kindling of the fire for lighting the lamps extinguished on Holy-Thursday. As no public notice is given of the hours of these ceremonies, we were glad of the information.

The ‘functions’ formerly conducted in the Sistine Chapel were transferred some years ago to the Capello Papale, which is in St Peter’s, the third chapel on the left-hand side of the nave. It is extremely small and inconvenient, being almost entirely taken up with stalls for the cardinals, bishops, canons, and vicars lay and choral. The pope’s own choir always sing here, but are assembled in full strength only on festivals; then, however, their exquisite unaccompanied singing is well worth hearing, and in the year of which we speak, the soprani and alti were specially good. On Holy-Thursday there is scarcely any cessation of worship in the great church all day; and at 7.30 A.M. we are barely in time to watch the assembling of the functionaries who are to assist at the ceremony of the consecration of the oil. The chrism used in baptism is composed of balsam and oil; and this and the oil for holy unction are considered extremely precious; bishops and other dignitaries journey long distances to procure it, and convey it to their respective dioceses and benefices. Their appearance adds not a little to the effect of the usual assemblage of canons of St Peter’s, for their vestments are much more varied in colour; the canons wearing always violet silk robes, and gray or white fur capes when not officiating; and their soft hue makes an excellent background for the brilliant scarlet trains of the cardinals, two of whom are lighting up the corner stalls with their crimson magnificence.

A number of seats take up the space in the middle of the chapel, and are arranged in a square, having a table in the centre. The choir presently commence singing a Latin hymn, and a glittering procession of canons and heads of orders enters; they take their places in the square; the chalices with the oil and the balsam of the chrism are placed on the table, and the officiating cardinal begins the ceremony. He is an exceedingly handsome man, very tall, with clearly cut features, and walks in a magnificent fashion; his great white silk cope, stiff with its embroidery of gold,{92} silver, and precious stones, seems no encumbrance to him, and he looks a fitting president for this august meeting. The cardinal blesses the first of the chalices presented to him, saying the words of benediction in clear distinct tones, the singing meanwhile continuing softly while he lays his hands on all the cups placed before him. Then the choir cease, and each cardinal, bishop, priest, and canon kneels in turn before the table, saying three times, ‘Ave sancta chrisma.’ The sounds of the different voices in which the words are said, as their various old, young, short, tall, fat, or thin owners pronounce them, have a somewhat odd effect, and it is a relief when the lovely singing is resumed, while the cardinal’s clear tones pronounce blessings on the oil for extreme unction. After this, the same ceremony is repeated, except that the words three times said are, ‘Ave sanctum oleum.’ As there are at least one hundred and thirty persons to perform this act of devotion, the service becomes a little tedious; and if it were not for the novelty, the exquisite singing, and the wonderful effects of light and colour in the glowing morning atmosphere, we should not have been surprised at the absence of our compatriots; but there is a sense of freshness and strangeness in the service which makes us wonder the chapel is not crowded. The small congregation consists of flower-sellers, women in black veils—who always belong to the middle classes—beggars, and shopkeepers from the long street leading to St Peter’s. The magnificent gathering of officiating priests makes the smallness of the attendance more noticeable.

After the consecration service, a mass is celebrated, and during the Gloria in excelsis, the bells are rung for the last time till Saturday.

No mass is sung on Good-Friday; therefore, two hosts are consecrated on Holy-Thursday, one of which is placed in a magnificent jewelled pyx, and carried in procession to a niche beneath an altar in a side-chapel; the beautiful hymn, Pange lingua, being sung the while. The niche is called a ‘sepulchre,’ and is covered with gold and silver ornaments, and glitters with candles. All coverings are removed from the altars, and all lights put out on this day, the next ceremony to the mass being that of stripping and washing the high-altar. The bare marble of the great table is exposed, and those who have taken part in the earlier ‘functions,’ walk in procession, and stand in a circle round it; acolytes carrying purple glass bottles pour on it something that smells like vinegar; and each dignitary, being provided with a tiny brush made of curled shavings, goes in turn to sweep the surface, places his brush on a tray, takes a sponge, with which he rubs the marble, and finally replaces that by a napkin, with which it is dried. By this time the morning is well on; the worshippers and onlookers in the great church are many; but there is no crowding or pushing. As the space is so vast, that all who wish can see, a few of the functionaries who keep order are quite enough to make things go easily.

At all these services, we are much impressed by the extreme ease with which everything is conducted. There is a ‘master of ceremonies,’ and he, one fancies, must have held rehearsals; for from the officiating cardinal to the smallest acolyte, no one ever moves at the wrong time, or steps into the wrong place; yet the marching and counter-marching, the handing, giving, placing, taking, involved in such an elaborate ceremonial must require nice and careful arrangement and extreme foresight. The dresses of the priests who assist at these functions are violet cassocks, and very short surplices edged with lace, plaited into folds of minute patterns, involving laundry-work of no mean description. Other priests, and all bishops and monsignore, wear the same coloured cassocks, but with the addition of red pipings on cuffs and collars and fronts.

The function of the ‘washing of the altar’ being ended, there is a pause; and one cannot but imagine that the cardinal retires to the great sacristy with a feeling of relief that the pageant is over for the time. The procession winds away to the left, and disappears through the gray marble doors of the sacristy; and we go home to lunch, feeling as if we had been spending a morning with our ancestors of three centuries back. The doings of the last four or five hours do not seem to agree with the appearance of the Via Babuino as our old coachman rattles us up to the door of our lodgings.

In the afternoon, we are again in St Peter’s; this time, to find it almost crowded. At three, the ‘holy relics’ are exposed. These are—the handkerchief given by St Veronica to the Saviour as He passed on His way to the cross, and on which there is said to be the impression of His face; the lance with which His side was pierced; the head of St Andrew; and a portion of the true cross. They are presented to the public gaze from a balcony at an immense height, on one of the four great buttresses which support the dome. There is a rattle of small drums, and priests with white vestments appear on the balcony, holding up certain magnificent jewelled caskets of different shapes, amidst the dazzling settings of which it is quite impossible to recognise any object in particular. The kneeling throng, the vast dim church, the clouds of incense, the roll of drums, the sudden appearance of the glittering figures on the balcony, their disappearance, followed by the noise of the crowds as they quickly move and talk, after the dead silence during the exposure of the objects of veneration, combine to make this a most striking and impressive scene. Then, in the Capello Papale, follows the service of the Tenebræ, as it is called, with the singing of the Lamentations and the Miserere. The quietness of the now densely packed crowd, the soft music, and the glimmer of the few lights left in the dim chapel, strike one with a novel effect, after the somewhat careless and florid services usually conducted here.

Emerging thence, the vast space of the cathedral looks larger than ever in the twilight, and the brilliant line of lights round the shrine of St Peter seem to glitter with double lustre; these, however, with all others, are soon extinguished, and the great basilica remains in darkness with covered crucifixes and stripped altars till Saturday morning. The ‘crowd’ as it seemed within the small chapel, appears nothing outside, and one by one the listeners disappear through the heavy leathern curtain that screens the door, finding by contrast the great piazza a scene of brilliant light, but quiet with what seems a strange stillness in the midst of a crowded city.


On Good-Friday morning we are again in the Pope’s Chapel at half-past seven, and are in time to see the canons take their places in the stalls. Three priests, habited only in black cassock, and close surplice with no lace edging, advance to the altar and begin the service. The first part of this consists simply of a reading in Latin of the whole of the chapters from the gospel of St John which relate to the passion. The priests take different parts: one reads most beautifully the narrative; another speaks the words uttered by our Saviour; the third, those used by Pilate; and the choir repeat the words of the populace. It is startling in its simplicity, but wonderfully dramatic; the dignified remonstrances of Pilate, and the clear elocution of the reader of the history, making up an impressive service, not the least part of its strangeness consisting in the fact of there being no congregation; not a dozen persons besides the priests and canons are present in the chapel. This ended, the officiating bishop, who is clothed in purple vestments embroidered with gold, kneels in prayer before the altar, while the priests prostrate themselves. The bishop then rises; and the choir chant softly in a minor key while he takes the crucifix from the altar, uncovers it, and holds it up to the people. In the afternoon, the relics are exposed, Lamentations and Miserere sung after Tenebræ, as on the preceding days; but the church is dark, bare, and silent.

The gloom of Friday is forgotten in the brilliant sunshine of Saturday morning, and we feel inspired with the freshness and life of a new day, as we once more gain the great steps leading to the basilica, watch the rainbow on the fountains, and the dancing lights in the waters of the large basins in the piazza. The obelisk in the centre is tipped with red gold, and the clear blue sky makes the figures on the loggia and colonnades stand out with lifelike distinctness. This morning we are called to join in an unquestionable festival, the early ceremonial of rekindling the lights being one of the most cheerful ‘functions’ in which it is possible to participate.

This service commences outside the cathedral; and ascending the steps to the loggia or porch, we find it already occupied by an imposing array of priests and bishops. The handsome cardinal again officiates; he is seated with his back to the piazza, just within the pillars of the porch, and facing the brazen centre-doors of the church. In front of him is an enormous brasier, in which burns a bright fire of coals, branches, and leaves, which has been lighted by a spark struck from a flint outside the church. He wears magnificent purple and gold vestments; his finely embroidered cope and jewelled mitre glitter in the sun. Around him are acolytes, some of whom tend the fire, while others carry censers; priests, canons, and bishops all gorgeously apparelled, and performing their parts in the service with the usual precision and alacrity. Two priests stand with their backs to the great bronze doors; one bearing a massive gold cross, the other holding a bamboo with a transverse bar on the top, and on this are three candles. After some chanting, the cardinal rises; and an acolyte fills a censer with live coals from the brasier, and brings it for benediction; another presents five large cones of incense covered with gold; these are also blessed and sprinkled with holy-water; then incense is put on the hot ashes in the censer; and as the smoke ascends, the great bronze doors, so rarely unclosed, are thrown open, and the procession enters the cathedral. The effect is strangely beautiful. The lovely early morning light and sunshine, the great building empty of living thing, the gorgeous procession throwing a line of brilliant colour into the dim soft mist of the nave, the choir chanting as the priests walk, their voices echoing in the great space—all form a combination which must touch the least impressionable spectator, and which cannot but be photographed on the memory to its smallest detail. At the door, there is a pause while one of the candles on the bamboo is lighted; a second flame is kindled in the nave, and the third at the altar in the choir chapel. Thence, light is immediately sent to the other churches in Rome, where also darkness has reigned since Thursday afternoon.

A venerable canon now ascends a platform, and from a very high desk reads some chapters, recites prayers, and then lights the great Easter candle which stands beside him. This is a huge pillar of wax, decorated with beautifully painted wreaths of flowers, and is placed in a magnificent silver candlestick. He takes the five cones of incense which the cardinal had blessed in the porch, and fixes them on the candle in the form of a cross. During his reading, the candles and lamps all over the church are relighted, and when it is over, all who formed the procession, bearing bouquets of lovely flowers, and small brushes like those used on Holy-Thursday, march to the baptistery, where the cardinal blesses the font, pours on the water in the huge basin chrism and oil, and sprinkles water to the four points of the compass—typifying the quarters of the globe.

On the return of the procession to the choir chapel, the cardinal and others prostrate themselves before the altar while some beautiful litanies are chanted. Then follows a pause, during which the priests retire to the sacristy to take off their embroidered vestments. They return wearing only surplices edged with handsome lace over their cassocks. The cardinal has a plain cope of white silk and gold.

After this, is the mass; and at the Gloria the bells ring out a grand peal, all pictures are uncovered, and the organ is played for the first time during many days. The great church resumes its wonted cheerful aspect, and light and colour hold again their places.

The afternoon ceremonies consist only of a procession of the cardinal to worship at special altars, the display of the holy relics, and the singing of a fine Alleluia and psalm, instead of the usual vespers.

Some pause is needed, one feels, before the cathedral is filled by the crowds who attend the Easter-Sunday mass; for no greater contrast can be imagined than that between the scenes of the quiet morning functions, with the numerous priests and few people, the stillness and peace of the hours we have been describing, and those enacted by the thronging crowds of foreign sightseers at the great festivals, who, pushing, gesticulating, standing on tiptoe, and asking irrelevant questions in audible voices, seem to look on these{94} sacred services as spectacles devised for their gratification, rather than as expressions of the worship of a large section of their fellow-creatures; thus exemplifying the rapidity with which ignorance becomes irreverence.


Can it ever be said that there is nothing in the papers, when advertisers are always to the fore, providing matter for admiration, wonder, amusement, or speculation? One day a gentleman announces the loss of his heart between the stalls and boxes of the Haymarket Theatre; the next, we have ‘R. N.’ telling ‘Dearest E.’—‘If you have the slightest inclination to become first-mate on board the screw-steamer, say so, and I will ask papa;’ and by-and-by we are trying to guess how the necessity arose for the following: ‘St James’s Theatre, Friday.—The Gentleman to whom a Lady offered her hand, apologises for not being able to take it.’

Does any one want two thousand pounds? That nice little sum is to be obtained by merely introducing a certain New-Yorker to ‘the Pontess;’ or if he or she be dead, to his or her heirs. ‘There is a doubt whether the cognomen was, or is, borne by a woman, a man, or a child; if by the last, it must have been born prior to the spring of 1873.’ If the Pontess-seeker fails in his quest from not knowing exactly what it is that he wants, an advertiser in the Times is likely to have the same fortune from knowing, and letting those interested know, exactly what it is that he does not want. Needing the services of a married pair as coachman and cook, this outspoken gentleman stipulates that the latter must not grumble at her mistress being her own housekeeper; nor expect fat joints to be ordered to swell her perquisites; nor be imbued with the idea that because plenty may be around, she is bound to swell the tradesmen’s bills by as much waste as possible. ‘No couple need apply that expect the work to be put out, are fond of change, or who dictate to their employers how much company may be kept.’

When two of a trade fall out, they are apt to disclose secrets which it were wiser to keep to themselves. Disgusted by the success of a rival whose advertising boards bore the representation of a venerable man sitting cross-legged at his work, a San Francisco tailor advertised: ‘Don’t be humbugged by hoary-headed patriarchs who picture themselves cross-legged, and advertise pants made to order, three, four, and five dollars a pair. Do you know how it’s done? When you go into one of these stores that cover up their shop-windows with sample lengths of cassimere, marked “Pants to order, three dollars fifty cents and four dollars;” after you have made a selection of the piece of cloth you want your pants made from, the pompous individual who is chief engineer of the big tailor shears, lays them softly on the smoothest part of his cutting-table, unrolls his tape-line, and proceeds to measure his victim all over the body. The several measurements are all carefully entered in a book by the other humbug. The customer is then told that his pants will be finished in about twenty-four or thirty-six hours; all depends upon how long it takes to shrink the cloth. That’s the end of the first act. Part second.—The customer no sooner leaves the store than the merchant-tailor calls his shopboy Jim, and sends him around to some wholesale jobber, and says: “Get me a pair of pants, pattern thirty-six,” which is the shoddy imitation of the piece of cassimere that your pants are to be made of. “Get thirty-four round the waist, and thirty-three in the leg.” They are pulled out of a pile of a hundred pairs just like them, made by Chinese cheap labour. All the carefully made measurements and other claptrap are the bait on the hook. That’s the way it’s done.’

Traders sometimes give themselves away, as Americans say, innocently enough, a Paris grocer advertising Madeira at two francs, Old Madeira at three francs, and genuine Madeira at ten francs, a bottle. A Bordeaux wine-merchant, after stating the price per cask and bottle of ‘the most varied and superior growths of Bordeaux and Burgundy,’ concludes by announcing that he has also a stock of natural wine to be sold by private treaty. A sacrificing draper funnily tempts ladies to rid him of three hundred baptiste robes by averring ‘they will not last over two days;’ and the proprietor of somebody’s Methuselah Pills can give them no higher praise than, ‘Thousands have taken them, and are living still.’

When continental advertisers, bent upon lightening British purses, rashly adventure to attack Englishmen in their own tongue, the result is often disastrously comical. The proprietor of a ‘milk-cur’ establishment in Aix-la-Chapelle, ‘foundet before twenty years of orders from the magistrat,’ boasts that his quality of ‘Suisse and his experiences causes him to deliver a milk pure and nutritive, obtained by sounds cow’s and by a natural forage.’ One Parisian hosier informs his hoped-for patrons he possesses patent machinery for cutting ‘sirths’—Franco-English, we presume, for shirts. Another proclaims his resolve to sell his wares dirty cheap; and a dealer in butter, eggs, and cheeses, whose ‘produces’ arrive every day ‘from the farms of the establishment without intermedial,’ requests would-be customers to send orders by unpaid letters, as ‘the house does not recognise any traveller.’ A Hamburg firm notifies that their ‘universal binocle of field is also preferable for the use in the field, like in the theatre, and had to the last degree of perfection concerning to rigouressness and pureness of the glass;’ while they are ready to supply all comers with ‘A Glass of Field for the Marine 52ctm opjectiv opening in extra shout lac-leather étui and strap, at sh 35s 6d.’ This is a specimen of their ‘English young man’s’ powers of composition that would justify the enterprising opticians in imitating the Frenchman whose shop-window was graced with a placard, bearing the strange device, ‘English spoken here a few.’

An Italian, speaking French well and a little English, with whom ‘wage is no object,’ advertising in a London paper for an engagement as an indoor servant, puts down his height as ‘fifty-seven feet seven.’ But he manages his little English to better purpose than his countryman of Milan, who offers the bestest comforts to travellers, at his hotel, which he describes as ‘situated in the centre of an immence parck, with most magnificient views of the Alp chain, and an English church{95} residing in the hotel’—the latter being furthermore provided with ‘baths of mineral waters in elegant private cabins and shower rooms, and two basins for bathin’; one for gentlemen, the oter for ladies;’ while it contains a hundred and fifty rooms, ‘all exposed to the south-west dining-groom.’

Such an exposure might well cause the Milanese host’s visitors to become ‘persons dependent upon the headache, or who have copious perspirations,’ whom a M. Lejeune invites ‘to come and visit without buying his new fabrication,’ with the chance of meeting ‘the hat-makers, who endeavour by caoutchouc, gummed linen and others, to prevent hats from becoming dirt;’ eager to hear the inventor of the new fabrication demonstrate ‘how much all those preparations are injurious, and excite, on contrary, to perspiration.’ Equally anxious to attract British custom is a doctor-dentist who, ‘after many years consecrated to serious experiences, has perfected the laying of artificial teeth by wholly new proceedings. He makes himself most difficulty works; it is the best guaranty, and, thanks to his peculiar proceeding, his work joins to elegancy, solidity, and duration.’ Considering all things, our doctor-dentist’s derangement of sentences is quite as commendable as that of the Belfast gentleman desirous of letting ‘the House at present occupied, and since erected by J. H——, Esq.;’ who might pair off with the worthy responsible for—‘To be sold, six cows—No. 1, a beautiful cow, calved eight days, with splendid calf at foot, a good milker; No. 2, a cow to calve in about fourteen days, and great promise. The other two cows are calved about twenty-one days, and will speak for themselves.’

By a fortuitous concurrence of antagonistic lines, the Times one morning gave mothers the startling information that

Joseph Gillott’s Steel Pens
The Best Food for Infants
Is Prepared solely by
Savory and Moore

—a hint as likely to be taken as that of a public benefactor who announced in the Standard: ‘Incredible as it may seem, I have ground to hope that half a glass of cold water, taken immediately after every meal, will be found to be the divinely appointed antidote for every kind of medicine.’

Another benevolent individual kindly tells us how to make coffee:

Placed in the parted straining-top let stand
The moistened coffee, till the grain expand,
Before the fire; then boiling water pour,
And quaff the nectar of the Indian shore.

But he is not quite so generous as he seems, since he is careful to inform us he is in possession of an equally excellent recipe for bringing out the flavour of tea, which he will forward for five shillings-worth of stamps. Urged by an equally uncontrollable desire to serve his fellow-creatures, a ‘magister in palmystery and conditionalist’ offers, with the aid of guardian spirits, to obtain for any one a glimpse at the past and present; and, on certain conditions, of the future; but with less wisdom than a magister of palmystery should display, he winds up with the prosaic notification, ‘Boots and shoes made to order.’

The wants of the majority of advertisers are intelligible enough; but it needs some special knowledge to understand what may be meant by the good people who hanker for a portable mechanic, an efficient handwriter, a peerless feeder, a first-class ventilator on human hair-nets, a practical cutter by measure on ladies’ waists, a youth used to wriggling, and a boy to kick Gordon. Nor is the position required by a respectable young lady as ‘figure in a large establishment,’ altogether clear to our mind; and we may be doing injustice to the newspaper proprietor requiring ‘a sporting compositor,’ by inferring he wants a man clever alike at ‘tips’ and types.

It does not say much for American theatrical ‘combinations,’ that the managers of one of them ostentatiously proclaim: ‘We pay our salaries regularly every Tuesday; by so doing, we avoid lawsuits, are not compelled to constantly change our people, and always carry our watches in our pockets.’ Neither would America appear to be quite such a land of liberty as it is supposed to be, since a gentleman advertises his want of a furnished room where he can have perfect independence; while we have native testimony to our cousins’ curiosity in a quiet young lady desiring a handsome furnished apartment ‘with non-inquisitive parties;’ and a married couple seeking three or four furnished rooms ‘for very light housekeeping, where people are not inquisitive.’ Can it be the same pair who want a competent Protestant girl ‘to take entire charge of a bottled baby?’ If so, their anxiety to abide with non-curious folk is easily comprehended.

Very whimsical desires find expression in the advertising columns of the day. A lady of companionable habits, wishing to meet with a lady or gentleman requiring a companion, would prefer to act as such to ‘one who, from circumstances, is compelled to lead a retired life.’ A stylish and elegant widow, a good singer and musician, possessing energy, business knowledge, and means of her own, ready, ‘for the sake of a social home,’ to undertake the supervision of a widower’s establishment, thinks it well to add, goodness knows why, ‘a Radical preferred.’ Somebody in search of a middle-aged man willing to travel, stipulates for a misanthrope with bitter experience of the wickedness of mankind; displaying as pleasant a taste as the proprietor of a wonderful discovery for relieving pain and curing disease without medicine, who wants a partner in the shape of a consumptive or asthmatical gentleman.

Your jocular man, lacking an outlet for his wit, will often pay for the privilege of airing his humour in public. Here are a few examples. ‘Wanted, a good Liberal candidate for the Kilmarnock Burghs. Several inferior ones given in exchange.’—‘Wanted a Thin Man who has been used to collecting debts, to crawl through keyholes and find debtors who are never at home. Salary, nothing the first year; to be doubled each year afterwards.’—‘Wanted, Twelve-feet planks at the corners of all the streets in Melbourne, until the Corporation can find some other means of crossing the metropolitan creeks. The planks and the Corporation may be tied up to the lamp-posts in the dry weather.’—‘Wanted, a Cultured{96} Gentleman used to milking goats; a University man preferred.’—‘Correspondence is solicited from Bearded Ladies, Circassians, and other female curiosities, who, in return for a true heart and devoted husband, would travel during the summer months, and allow him to take the money at the door.’—‘Wanted, a Coachman, the ugliest in the city; he must not, however, have a moustache nor red hair, as those are very taking qualities in certain households at present. As he will not be required to take care of his employer’s daughter, and is simply engaged to see to the horses, he will only be allowed twenty dollars per month.’

A great deal might be said about pictorial advertisements, if the impossibility of reproducing them did not stand in the way. As it is, we must content ourselves with showing how an advertisement can be illustrated without the help of draughtsman or engraver. By arranging ordinary printers’ types thus:

Punctation symbols arranged to look like faces

an ingenious advertising agent presents the public with portraits of the man who does not and the man who does advertise, and says: ‘Try it, and see how you will look yourself.’


Amongst the oral traditions of the past in Cambridge, there is handed down to the modern undergraduate an account of a secret Society which was established in the university at a remote period of time, and which was called the Lie Society. At the weekly meetings of the members, an ingenious falsehood was fabricated, which frequently referred to some person locally known, and which was probably not altogether free from scandal. It was the duty of all the members to propagate this invented story as much as possible by relating it to every one they met. Each member had to make a note of the altered form in which the lie thus circulated came round to him individually, and these were read out at the next meeting with all the copious additions and changes the story had received passing from one to the other, often to such an extent as to leave but little of the original fabric left. After a time the Society began to languish, and soon after disappeared altogether.

In the dim past, and before the present stringent regulations were made as to examinations in the Senate House, another secret Society was organised, called the Beavers, which was for the purpose of enabling members, when being examined, to help each other by a system of signals. With this view, one of the members of the Beavers was told off by lot to perform various duties assigned to him, such as engaging the attention of the examiners, and giving information as to the papers by preconcerted signs. This Society soon collapsed. To one of its members is credited the ingenious watch-faced Euclid, and the edition of Little-go-classics on sleeve-links.


I leave with joy the smoky town,
As pining captive quits his cell,
O’er shining sea and purple fell,
Again to see the sun go down:
As once behind great Penmanmawr,
A ball of fire, o’er Conway Bay
He silent hung, then sank away,
And beauteous shone the evening star.
My village home at length I reach,
And stand beside my father’s door;
His feet are on its step no more:
From texts like this, Time loves to preach.
Daylight is dying in the west;
The leaden night-clouds blot the sky;
Across the fields, the pewit’s cry
Only makes deeper nature’s rest.
The water-wheel stands at the mill,
The fisher leaves the sandy shore,
By garden gate and unlatched door
Lassies and lads are meeting still.
Beside me stand the kirk and manse,
On this green knoll among the trees;
The summer burn still croons to these;
But where are those who loved me once?
Only a sound of breaking waves,
All through the night, comes from the sea:
But those who kindly thought of me,
Are sleeping in these quiet graves.
No sounds of earth can wake the dead!
I vainly yearn for what hath been:
The faces I in youth have seen,
With the lost years away have fled.
The faintest breath that stirs the air
Will take the dead leaf from the tree;
Thus, one by one, have gone from me
Those who my young companions were.
A stranger in my native place,
Wearing the silver mask of years,
None meet me now with smiles or tears,
Or in the man the boy can trace.
My trees cut down, have left the place
Vacant and silent where they grew;
From fields and farms, that once I knew,
I miss each well-remembered face.
This price, returning, I must pay,
With wandering foot who loved to roam:
Thrice happy he who finds a home
And constant friends, when far away.
As relics from a holy shrine,
Dear names are treasured in my heart;
Death only for an hour can part;
And all I loved, will yet be mine.
With blinding tears, I turn away.
Young hearts round this new life can twine;
But from my path has passed for aye
The light and love of auld langsyne.

Printed and Published by W. & R. Chambers, 47 Paternoster Row, London, and 339 High Street, Edinburgh.

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