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but were interrupted in our intentions by a fat, portly, good-tempered looking man, who in vain endeavoured, as he grumbled, to make his face the index of his mind. «Torn from my native country,” said he, “lugged over seas, jolted to death over railroads, clothes spoiled by the iron-dust, eyes inflamed for a week, face hot and burning for a month, bundled about from inn to inn like an old portmanteau, — and, what for?-to come and see a lion stuck on a mound of earth on the Plains of Waterloo, when I could have seen just as good a one, with a longer tail, and gilt in the bargain, on the top of Goding's brewery near Waterloo-Bridge. I'm a miserable slave to the world's opinion, sir,” said he, addressing me ; “and because all the world come to see this lion, I am told I must see it."
When I had reached the top, I was very glad to take a seat, and as Spunyarn remarked, get a fresh cargo of wind. I confess I derived but little satisfaction from seeing a field covered with corn nearly ripe, and about as flat and uninteresting as any of the worst parts of Cambridgeshire, especially where no hedge intervenes to change or to beautify the scene.
Both Jack and myself soon gave over bothering our brains about that which we never could understand. Scamp tumbled down the mound in pursuing a bird ; and the fat gentleman's dander was raised, as Sam Slick says, at the everlasting bother of a parcel of fellows, who had every relic, from an 18th shot to a musket-ball for sale, and every species of antiquity, from a mutilated eagle to an old rusty button.
“It 's all nonsense from beginning to end," said the fat man. “ Twenty-five years have passed since the battle, and the guide-book says that all these relics are humbugs. You 'll find me obstinate. I won't buy one."
“And yet,” said Cotton, “the earth frequently throws up musket balls; and often, as I walk across a newly-ploughed furrow, I pick up some that must have been fired on that day.”
'“ You never put them there the day before you pick them up,” said Jack, “ of course ?”
“ You may talk to eternity," said the fat man,“ but you 'll find me obstinate; I don't believe a word of the matter. And now, having seen Waterloo, I'll return to Brussels.” And away he went grumbling, and wondering how he could have been such a fool as to leave his snug house in England to be pilfered by foreigners at every step, cheated at every hotel, gulled and cajoled by every adventurer. “ But,” said he aloud,“ they will find me obstinate, and home I will go.”
The comfortable beds at the Hotel Belle Vue soon gave us an opportunity of fetching up our leeway in regard to sleep; and the next morning I prepared to start for Liege by the railroad, taking leave of the dullest capital in Europe. On taking possession of our places in the first class carriages, for the English somehow always pay the best prices, and try for the best places, — I was much gratified at finding my fat friend of yesterday jammed into a corner intended for two persons, and evidently prepared to be displeased with everything but the society of the ladies. To them he paid great attention, and seemed to think with Byron, “A pretty woman is a welcome guest.” He was a thorough specimen of that class who, having never turned over any of the leaves of the great book of life but that of their own country, are full of prejudice, nurse in the narrowness of their minds contempt for all other nations, and remark with bitterness upon foreign societies, fashions, and customs.
“I am glad, sir,” I remarked, “that railroads are becoming universal, and that the lingering pace of five miles an hour over a pared road is changed for a twenty miles' gallop over a smooth surface."
“ Becoming universal !” said he, with surprise. “Why, in France they have only got a plaything between Paris and Versailles ; and although they have made as much noise in their Chamber of Depoties as a pack of parrots in cages, and chattered about their adyancements and their improvements, not one inch of a railroad bas been done, or is doing, to connect the two greatest capitals in the European world ; and yet these fellows have the impudence to tell us that they are the most civilised people on earth. They are all action, ail grimace, all capers and kicks, like monkeys, and are fifty years behind us in everything but caterwauling and dancing: a nation of pompous projectors, and, like Goldsmith's magpie, all chatter, pride, and talk. And yet I am torn from my native country, and told I cannot die like a gentleman until I have visited Paris and seen Naples! They will find me obstinate, though. All the Frenchified buffoonery in the world shall never make me discontented with the little island. Just look here, sir, and then talk of liberty. Here are as many police at this railway station as would keep London quiet."
«And beautifully it is managed, sir," I replied. “Here every one approaches you with civility; here your luggage is carefully preserved, and it will be by your own negligence only if it be lost. From the excellent management of this railroad, every one in Eng. land might take a most wholesome lesson.”
“ You'll find me obstinate, sir. I say again there is nothing in the whole world like England, English manners, English freedom, English liberty. Why, d-n, it, sir !” said he, his face purple with exertion and pride, “a Frenchman cannot drink a glass of salt water out of the sea without leave from the mayor of the town, and yet they have the impudence to talk of freedom! Let a Frenchwoman come down to bathe to Boulogne, and her friend fall sick in London, she cannot go over without sending to Paris for a foreign passport. Liberty indeed! the police can enter their houses, search their drawers, rummage their desks, and then walk out again without deigning to say why or wherefore. O Liberty !” said the old gentleman, with a fervour truly laughable, “ how thy temple is profaned by those republican revolutionary democrats."
I thought my wife would have gone into fits at the wholesale denunciation which the obstinate gentleman fulminated against France and the French; and, willing to save a nation from overwhelming disgrace, came to their aid by remarking, that no English mantuamaker could invent a fashion, and that the names of Victorine, Pal. myre, Baudron, and Camille gave laws to all the world, and all the world obeyed them.
“Yes,” said the fat gentleman, “and pretty figures you look when you are stuffed, and padded, and wadded, before and behind. Nothing is natural, from your hair soaped back and nailed against vour head so tight that you cannot shut your eyes, to the miserable
subterfuge of the boot purposely made to make your feet look like Chinese deformities. Madam, you would look twice as beautiful, if it were possible, without making the inside of your bonnet like the top of a May-pole ; and your figure would be better seen if you did as your Caliban of a servant remarked, have less spare canvass dangling about you.”
The horns now blew, and the train instantly started.
“All military tyranny, you see. A train cannot start without a score of trumpets puffing and blowing in one's ears. I wonder they did not sound the charge. But that's prohibited, I suppose, lest the omnibus horses should follow or lead the train; and, since last night's affray at Brussels, all military appearances are dangerous. What a miserable pace! - about eighteen miles an hour! In England six-and-thirty is hardly called fast. Why, a spavined yankee trotting-pony would run alongside of this, and do the journey in less time.”
Very different, however, was the remark of Spunyarn, who for the first time in his life was boiled up into a gallop. Nothing could persuade him there were no horses ; and when he found he actually was going over the ground at the rate of eighteen knots an hour, without any assistance but that derived from hot water, he wondered no contrivance was invented by which a man could carry his own apparatus, and walk ten knots an hour without being fatigued.
Before we reached Liege, I asked my fat acquaintance which inn he purposed to patronise.
“Hôtel d'Angleterre, of course,” said he. “Do you imagine I would go to anything else?”
“We go to the Pavillon Anglais," I remarked.
“ You 'll suffer for it, sir," said he; “deserting your own country for a Frenchified house, because your Red-book places it first; they will victimize you."
By the excellent arrangements of these railroads, travellers cannot be robbed of their luggage, or inadvertently possess themselves of that which belongs to another; and when the fat gentleman found that he had got his, and placed it on a wheelbarrow, he incautiously threw away the paper which he had received, and which specified the number of trunks which belonged to him. He ran to inflict his load on the nearest omnibus, when the Cerberus at the gate stopped his baggage, and the red face became purpled upon being told that he must produce the ticket, in order that his baggage might be ascertained to be correct. Quite in vain he swore in good English, or vociferated in bad French ; the wheelbarrow was placed under arrest, and his servant was detained. It was to no purpose that he declared he had thrown away his ticket; the object of the guard was to ascertain that every man had only his own luggage. We left the ponderous mass of humanity, condemned to wait until every soul had passed out, when he would be allowed to follow. The omnibuses all had a dread of the load ; they drove off, and left him obstinately resolved not to stir a step until the return train should take him to England, or at least to Ostend.
Wherever I went, I seemed either to herald or follow an emeute. At Boulogne, Prince Louis's laughable attempt to subvert a govern. ment began the train ; at Brussels, there was an attempt made by a priest to resist an arrest, and a fight ensued ; and at Liege there was
a grand gathering of the discontented and unemployed workmen to get bread without paying for it. I began to think the police would inquire after my doings, and I looked out of the windows of the Pavillon Anglais with some dismay, when I saw the troops of the line drawn up in front of the house, and my stout friend, who had some military knowledge, passing the regiment in review order.
Liege will before long become a favourite place of residence, the railroad communication with Ostend being only seven hours. Thus this city, verging on the boundary of Belgium and Prussia, is brought as it were nearer to London than Abbeville; whilst the price of provisions being much cheaper, the carriage-roads better, the town cleaner, possessing a good theatre, and magnificent inns, it is decidedly to be preferred to the dull, monotonous, dirty town to which I have compared it, and which, as yet, has carried off many more of the flock of geese who nurture their goslings in France.
Liege besides possesses her advantages. It is situated at a trifing distance from Spa, and in the summer there is no prettier road than that which passes Chaud Fontaine, and winds along the valley of the Vesdra. To this delightful spot many of the richer class of Liege repair during the summer. A man may reside at Liege for a trifle, and be able to hold up his head amongst the most affluent; for foreign affluence, excepting in Russia, seems to be a modest competency, sufficient to support a family without being forced to hold some situation of employment. That word rentier has a great charm upon foreigners, and gives a certain degree of respect quite gratifying to the bearer.
I now began to cast about with Spunyarn for a carriage to take us to Aix-la-Chapelle ; not that I derived any assistance from Jack's knowledge of the Walloon language, but he had a capital eye for stowing the luggage.
I at last fixed on a carriage, and on agreement, desired Jack to lend a hand and get it out, that we might overhaul it; and a pretty miserable-looking conveyance it was.
“ Here's a rattle-trap!” said Jack. “I'm blessed if they would put in one of the afterguard of a ten-gun brig into such a thing as this with his lady, - no, not even if he was going to be married. Why, it's all glass in front, and no shape abaft, like a thin woman in spectacles. It will capsize if we carry any sail ; and it's so weak in its timbers, that any head-sea will make it go to pieces. I say, shipmate, how are we to stow four in the cabin and two on deck in this crazy craft of yours ? and how are the stores and provisions to
With these vetturino gentlemen there are few difficulties; and certainly any inconvenience to the horses in the way of a load is never one of them. Trunks and portmanteaus, bandboxes, dog-kennels, and carpet-bags were piled up upon the stern frame to a height above the roof; whilst underneath the carriage a long swinging wooden tray carried the superfluities. We left Liege at ten o'clock; and Jack, who took a last look at the carriage and luggage, expressed his fervent wish that the wind might be fair and the sea smooth, or otherwise we might sleep in the nearest gutter for a fortnight before we should arrive. Oh! this horrible mode of travelling! You have ample time to admire from the summit of the elevated ridge, which takes some hours to surmount, the valley of the Meuse on
one side, and that of the Vesdre on the other; and even Hope cannot be flattered that a temporary trot will reduce the many hours required to convey you thirty miles. No, no; trot or no trot, you will be at least ten hours on the journey; and if you are charitably disposed, and are a member of the Society for the Suppression of Cruelty to Animals, you will have to walk at least ten out of the thirty miles.
Jack, who considered himself on the forecastle, sung songs and smoked with the coachman; told him long yarns about battles, fires, and wrecks, scarcely a word of which did his companion understand ; and when he got down to walk, he seemed quite to forget that he was in foreign parts, and distributed his blessings in undeniable English to any one of the hundred beggars who solicited his charity. Whenever they came near, Jack put his hands in his pockets, and recommended them to go to Brussels and get sprinkled with the brush and touch the bone of the dead man.
Knowing, alas ! from experience, that all men are kindly disposed to receive money, I gave Jack a five-franc piece, telling him to slip it into the hand of the man who was to examine our baggage at the frontier.
On drawing up at the Prussian barrier, we were civilly invited to show our passports, which Jack called the sailing orders. We were now told that our luggage must be taken down, whereupon I gave Jack a wink, and indicated as well as I could the man to whom the bribe was to be given. As this was rather a plainly dressed individual, Jack considered the money too much for him ; so he slides up to the officer, and giving him a touch of the elbow, said,
“I say, Monsieur, put this in your pouch, and pass our examina. tion, and save detention.”
The officer looked cautiously round, and allowed the sovereign remedy to glide into his hands.
“ You have nothing contraband?” said he.
MARINE MEMORANDA BY A SUB-MARINE.
Ist Nov. 1840, at Spithead, on board H M.S. Howe, destination the Mediterranean: the ship under orders of Rear-Admiral Sir John Ommaney, whose Aag is flying in the Britannia.
The signal made for the Howe to follow the motions of the flagship, the said Aag-ship weighs anchor, and makes sail ; whereupon the capstan of the Howe goes merrily round to the most familiar airs. The “ Girl we left behind us" leads the way, followed by “ Rory O'More!” The very idea of the thing makes a man jealous! The wind is contrary, and the Howe tacks, and tacks again, till she apparently gets quite weary and disgusted at being bothered so. VOL. VIII.