naught my father's precepts, as it was as bright a day as a man would wish to look upon. But, as before remarked, I was now an officer and gentleman, and wished in this manner to demonstrate my independence.

"I now lighted a weed, and proceeded onwards ready for any adventure that might befall me. My first impulse was to stop at a small optician's shop, to contemplate my epaulettes in one of those round mirrors which are there to be found suspended in the window. Upon seeing my mouth elongated to an unnatural size, and my head degenerated into somewhat the appearance of a Norfolk biffin, I was immediately seized with the not unnatural desire to proceed to the voir du fait, and retaliate this insult upon the aggressor. In pursuance of this object, I shoved my fist through the window, thereby breaking and creating many panes, and was immediately collared by a whey faced apprentice, who demanded my name, and the sum of fourteen and sixpence for damages. With the first I was very ready, -Maintop-crosstree-man, Theophilus Gangway, H.M.S. Outrageous, now lying at Portsmonth, and fitting out for the West Indies, nephew to Sir Hector Blowhard, now one of the Lords' Commissioners of the Admiralty; but as to the latter demand, I could only reply-no effects; for although I had the wherewithal about me to satisfy the demand, I thought that it must be beneath the dignity of an officer and a gentleman to pay for that which he had damaged. Accord. ingly, I left my dirk in pledge, and being somewhat rudely ejected from the tenement, I snatched a parting glance at my epaulettes, and proceeded down the High Street, with the most professional swagger I could muster up.

"I was much surprised at the small respect which was paid me, as also at the ill-suppressed sneer, and the impertinent stare with which the announcement of my rank was received. I determined, however, to gain that by my own exertions, which was denied to me by the ignorant vulgar. I soon found myself at the Battery, where there were two or three sentinels upon duty; and being somewhat nettled by the ill-usage I had met, I determined to prove to the world the extent of that authority with which his Majesty had been pleased to invest me; so I saluted the sentries with Heave-to, ye lubbers, and bear up on the topsail tack; fore and main-sails haul up, now back the maintop-sail, and fire a broadside up to larboard, d'ye hear!'- Ay, ay, sir; if you tells us, I suppose we must; but it's clear ag'in orders! I say, Bill, does he take us for marines? but if this officer says we must do it, I 'spose we must, so bear a hand-sharp's the word!-But, please your honour, the admiral's stopped our allowance of powder, as he says, to retrench the expenditure of the executive: how can we manage ?'-'Why double shot the guns, to be sure, you set of know-nothings!' This last observation proceeded from a gentleman habited like myself, and I of course, ashamed to have been non-plussed, chimed in with, Bear a hand, and about it smartly!'-' Knock off the guns!' said my new friend, Stand by-cant'em round--all ready there forward ? '--' Ay, ay, sir!' Fire away then!'

[ocr errors]

"I had screwed myself up to concert pitch to hear the explosion; but instead of the guns going off, I was surprised to hear all my friends bursting out into a laugh that seemed to be a direct insult to me, so I addressed them with, I will tell you what it is, my fine fel.

lows, if you do not put your helm up, and stand by to run right up to the top of the square-sail in less than no time, I will have you all confined in the court martial, as sure as I am an officer and a gentleman !'


Having thus expectorated my spleen, and shown them who it was they had to deal with, I prepared to evacuate the ground, as I felt myself scarcely equal to carry on the dialogue. My brother officer turned round, and severely reprimanded the military; and then joining me, took my arm, and requested to know to what ship I belonged, at the same time expressing a wish to improve my acquaintance. He told me that he had made physiognomy a study, and had never seen so fine a development of countenance as mine; indeed he might say that he had dabbled in bumpology, and could at once inform me in what part of the service I was likely to succeed: if I would but permit him he thought that he might be of some service to me in this way. He then twitched off my cap, and proceeded to demonstrate. 'Hem! a large organ of boarding.-Well, I never! I say, messmate, have you met with an accident here? the organ of rising in the service most prominent !-Destruction clearly marked! A most promising indication of secretiveness; why you'll be a treasurer to the mess!'Mess, sir!' said I, bristling up, what d'ye mean? '—'Why that you are a broth of a boy, as the Kilkenny cats are in the habit of observ. ing; and that you'll prig bottles of wine from the gunroom, till all 's blue again. But I'll tell you what it is, my hearty, we'd better get on board, for the chancellor of the exchequer has issued orders to that effect. No, you don't say so!'- Yes, but I do, though; so we'll get into the gig, and be on board in the twinkling of a bed.post!' 'In a gig? None of your tricks upon travellers; I'm up to snuff, my fine fellow!'-Ay, and a pinch or two over; we shan't do you in a hurry, I see!'

[ocr errors]


"I felt invigorated by this compliment, and accompanied my new friend down to the Point, where we stepped into a boat and shoved off. He soon pointed out to me a black-looking ship with two masts, which he informed me was H. M. S. Outrageous, of one hundred and twenty guns, only the guns were not yet on board. There were a number of dark men in tarpaulin hats, hauling sacks of coal up the side; he observed, as a matter of course, that the junior lieutenants had taken more than usual exercise this morning. As my cue was not to be surprised at anything, I contented myself with agreeing with him, and we pulled up alongside. My friend observed that the companion-ladder had been removed in consequence of the equinoctial gales, but that we could easily mount by means of a rope. In a few moments I had scrambled up the side, and every vein swelled with patriotic pride, as I trod for the first time the quarter-deck of my gal. lant ship."




My gentle public, when you were a little boy (I speak of you collectively), was it ever your fate in those halcyon days, when a nail brush and a dancing master were things "to dream of not to tell;" when you despised your sisters because they were girls, and liked lollypops and Bonaparte's ribs because they were sweet;-was it, I say, ever your fate to come across two compilations, or either of them, of which one was called Tales of Terror, the other Legends of Horror? In these were to be found Agnes, or the Bloody Nun, and the Field of the Forty Footsteps, in all their primal glory. You have, I

am sure. Then you must remember that the style of conclusion to each number was this, that they wound your infant mind up to the highest pitch of expectation, and then, when you had twisted one or more of the metal buttons off your bottle-green suit with intensity of interest, that you were let down short (like an upset at the corner of Hatton Garden, where the eight pennyworth of danger rises to its highest power), by one of the conjunctions copulative or disjunctive. "The lady sate in that lone and distant turret, listening to the fitful sobbing of the moaning breeze; she clasped her infant to her breast, and looked at the clock, for well she knew that the fatal hour was come when that dark and malignant spirit might no more influence the destiny of Sir Bertoldo's heiress. The hand is now upon the hour! one second more, and she is safe!-one-only one! Merciful Heaven! a sound of footsteps is heard in the corridor, the door bursts open, and-"

So, even so, by the malignity of that base and degrading editor is the public cut off from the conclusion of the history of this gallant youth; all the sprees in Portsmouth, the metaphysical allusions to soap, the quarter-deck scene, the cockpit scene, the gunroom scene, the maintop scene, the nigger scene, two shipwreck scenes, and one of famine-unmitigated famine,-two battle scenes, and a ball at Bermuda!

[blocks in formation]




Approach to Richmond.-The grave of Thomson.-Wit among the Tombstones. Richmond Palace.-The Battle of the Gnats. View from Richmond Hill.-A Song by Mallet.-Gay, the poet.-Traditions of Ham House.-Eel-pie Island.— The Poetical Sawyer.-Anecdote of Kean.

As we passed Kew-Bridge, our mind was filled with a multitude of confused thoughts, reminiscences intricately blended, of poetry and the poets; of Jeanie Deans, and the Duke of Argyle; of Richmond Hill, and the charms of its far-famed lass; and of "maids of honour "– the chief delicacies of the place, which, with a carnivorous appetite, we longed to devour. But, as we approached nearer our thoughts became more distinct, and finally fixed themselves upon the memory of James Thomson, the delightful bard of the Seasons, who is buried upon the spot. O! yes," said we, quoting the ode of his friend Collins,


"Remembrance oft shall haunt the shore

When Thames in summer wreaths is drest,
And oft suspend the dashing oar,

To bid thy gentle spirit rest.”

We were thus musing, when a merry strain now broke in upon our meditations. The band which had accompanied the steam-boat from London, struck up the familiar air, "The lass of Richmond Hill;" a custom which has been observed ever since steam-boats have plied in this part of the river, to give us notice that we were at our journey's end.

Without stopping to ascend the hill, we struck at once into the lower parts of the town, and, by dint of inquiry, found ourselves in a few moments in front of the ancient, humble, but in our eyes, beautiful church of Richmond. We forthwith strolled through the churchyard, in search of the sexton or door-keeper, that we might give him his fee, and be admitted inside. One of the first objects that caught our attention was a neat marble tablet upon the wall, with a medallion head sculptured upon it, and inscribed with the simple words, "To the memory of Edmund Kean: erected by his son, Charles Edmund Kean, 1839." We paused a moment, and took off our hats, for we are of the number of those who pay reverence to the inanimate sod, and the senseless ashes beneath it, if those ashes have ever been warmed by the soul of genius, or of goodness. We are also of the number of those who are critical in monumental inscriptions, and we considered this brief one for a while, and owning that it was enough, passed on. After inquiry at one of the cottages that skirt the churchyard, we were directed next door, to the pew-opener, and that personage readily undertook to escort us over her little building; as important to her, and containing monuments as magnificent, and as well worth looking at, as either St. Paul's or Westminster Abbey. If we were pleased with the outside appearance of the church, we were still better pleased when we

entered within. It is an old-fashioned edifice, just large enough for a village, with a fine organ, neatly carved, and well-covered pews, and walls almost hidden by monumental tablets, and the whole looking as grand and modest as true piety itself.

Our cicerone, like one who was well accustomed to her task, was leading us round the church, beginning from the beginning, and showing us in due order the tombs of the worthies of Richmond, when we broke in upon her established practice, and requested her to point out at once the grave of Thomson. She led the way immediately to the darkest corner of the church, when, opening a pew-door, she bade us enter. We had heard much talk of the munificence of the Earl of Buchan in erecting a memorial over the poet's ashes, and we looked around us accordingly for some handsome piece of monumental mar. ble, which might be worthy of the donor, and sufficient for its avowed purpose, the satisfaction of the bard's admirers. We could not conceal the expression of our disappointment, when the pew-opener, bidding us mount upon the seat of the pew, pointed out to us a piece of copper about eighteen inches square, so out of the reach of the ordinary observer, so blackened by time, and so incrusted by the damp, that it was quite impossible to read one line of the inscription.

[ocr errors]

Then you have not many visiters to this tomb?" said we to the pew-opener.

[ocr errors]

"O! yes, we have," replied she; but they are not so particular as you, sir; not one in a hundred cares to read the inscription; they just look at it from below, and pass on.'

We took out our pocket-handkerchief, and began to rub the damp verdigrise from the copper as the pew-opener spoke; which, she observing, mounted also upon the bench, and, taking her own handkerchief from her pocket, rubbed away with as much earnestness as we did. The dirt was an inch thick upon it; besides which, the letters were of the same colour as the plate on which they are engraven, so that after all, we were afraid we should be obliged to give over the attempt as quite hopeless.

"There," she said, "now I think you will be able to read it," as the rust, by a vigorous application of her hands, was transferred from the tablet to her handkerchief. "I think you might manage to make it out, if you are particularly anxious about it."

We tried again accordingly, and, with some trouble, read the following inscription.

"In the earth be ow this tablet, are the remains of James Thomson, author of the beautiful poems, entitled 'The Seasons,' The Castle of Indolence,' &c., who died at Richmond, on the 22d of August, and was buried there on the 29th, O. S., 1748. The Earl of Buchan, unwilling that so good a man, and sweet a poet, should be without a memorial, has denoted the place of his interment for the satisfaction of his admirers, in the year of our Lord 1792.

"Father of light and life! Thou good supreme!
Oh! teach me what is good! Teach me Thyself!
Save me from folly, vanity, and vice,

From every low pursuit, and feed my soul

With knowledge, conscious peace, and virtue pure,
Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss!"

« 上一页继续 »