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Peyronnet, this was the observance of a festival annually held, in celebration of the fulfilment of a vow made by Louis the Fourteenth to the Virgin Mary, when he thought that she had granted him a little boy to be born, after a twenty-two years' sterile state of wedlock with his royal consort! "Well,' thought I, ‘Barnes, you are a d-d old fool! but can you imagine anything half so ridiculous as that, in a country which esteems itself the most enlightened on the face of the globe! The royal family were present. His Majesty, white and thin, like a wax-taper; the archbishops and bishops, mostly fat and waddling; the military, their bands—the choral-chaunting, and other mummery, all drove Mr. Mudpole crazy; and he told me seriously that it was, in his opinion, a huge and monstrous vanity; the equipage of a benighted superstition; heathen, demoralizing priestcraft worship; the essence of that Apocalyptic beast, that mother of harlots and abominations, that Queen of Mystic Babylon. The word, Babylon struck my pun-loving ear; when the whole affair had been got up for the loan of a baby.
"It is not my habit to laugh at church myself. I used sometimes to accompany my poor dear Mary (now dead and gone) to Rowland Hill's chapel. She was partial to it; though, I must own, with all my partiality for her, I think she went more to show off her singing than any other motive. She had a very powerful voice. We had a Wolverhampton acquaintance, who lived in the Blackfriars' Road, who sat near to us in the chapel; and, in a complimentary way, he used to say, Mrs. Barnes's vice is above all the other females in the chapel.' He meant to have pronounced the word voice ; but all folks from Staffordshire, and adjacent counties, use vice for voice.
“ Pounced, by the blessing of Heaven, on a worthy Englishman, Mr. Wood, who keeps a publichouse — ay, a British publichouse, in Paris. He has got his labelled bottles, Old Tom,''Bitters,''London porter in draught and bottle,''gin,'-gin in Paris !--comfortable English dinners,' - roasted joints,' potatoes,' 'apple dumplings,' and 'a bit of strong Cheshire. All right, old boy! No longer obliged to trouble your poor diaphragm with what are termed · kickshaws' in English; but which must mean in French (without bothering one with the dictionary,) from the similarity of sound, 'quelques choses.'
"Alteration in the weather ; wind got up; gusty and dusty. What extraordinary alterations have taken place in my recollection of seasons ! We once were tolerably secure of the approaches and visitations of the different quarters of the year ; but now all are changed. I am aware that I am an old fool; but, watching the fishmongers' shops, the periods of arrival of fish on the coast of Great Britain are altered from what I imagine I remembered. A red mullet was so rare a fellow, that when I saw them latterly by dozens, I thought they were the Chinese carp. Only I forgot the magnifying power of the globular glass. The red mullet has been driven to our shores ; the periods of mackerel migrations have changed ; herrings—which used only to be seen in October and November, — are visible on the fishmongers' boards almost all the year. We have had whales in the Channel, and a much larger quantity of white-bait in the Thames. I, accordingly, set my pantaloon's head to account for all this change.
" And I have hit it, sure as a gun :- we English, in our love of science, have been tampering too much with the North Pole : it should never have been disturbed. Holes have been repeatedly broken in the ice there by our intrepid navigators; and the consequence is, an alteration of atmosphere, which has an effect both upon seasons and fish. There is only one way to set things on a proper footing again — to use a counteracting power. Let our Government send out an expedi. tion to the South Pole, and rake away there. That device will, in a few years, again change the lamentable state of affairs.
"Next day, the Jew Frenchman came to the hotel to procure lodgings for us. Now, Seymour, who, as I stated before, was our machinist, had brought a pantomime trick with him from England, of which he was jealously proud ; he could not bear any one to touch it but himself. I forget what the transformation was, but something changed to a windmill ; and, as we hunted through the streets of Paris for lodgings for our fellow adventurers, Seymour, who was a little punchy figure, carried this trick, which was large and heavy, on bis shoulder; while Ronaldson followed, with a large basket-work and papier-machée swan under each arm. The wind happened this day to be very boisterous, with sudden gusts round the corners of the streets; and it was fun to me to observe Seymour blown about, with his windmill on his back; and old frosty-faced Ronaldson behind him with his property birds. Every where, when we stopped at 'appartement garni à louer,' these monstrous things were put down in the street, to the admiration of the populace; and they really, in some instances, prevented the lodging-house keepers from taking us in on any terms. I cannot resist a little sketch of my friends. Seymour was rather drunk.”
JUDGING BY APPEARANCES.
MISTAKES IN A PRISON.
SHORTLY after the execution of the culprits we were musing over our wine after a sumptuous dinner, when my friend, Mr. Doveways, proposed that on the following day we should go over the county gaol, which had the reputation of being the best built and the best managed, perhaps, of any gaol in England. I am generally averse to visiting scenes of vice, calamity, and woe, from motives of mere curiosity, or from any motives but those of assisting the sufferers, and schooling myself into habits of forbearance and mercy towards my fellow-creatures. On this occasion, however, I agreed to accompany my friend, and the next day the visit was paid.
Mr. Doveways was in the commission of the peace, and consequently we obtained easy access to the innermost recesses of the prison.
We had visited all the female wards save one.
“ In that ward,” said the matron, “ we have but two prisoners : one committed for an assault; and the other, for refusing to affiliate her child.”
The huge bolt was withdrawn, and the ponderous key performed its office. The door was opened; and in a well-sized and remarkably clean room, with its white-washed walls, and floor almost rivalling their whiteness, were two female prisoners.
An Amazonian woman, with coarse features and dishevelled carroty hair, was stamping up and down the room, trying to quiet a miserably small sickly child, whose shrill squeaking voice was the most annoying I had ever heard from infancy. The huge ugly creature pressed the brat to her imniense chest; and, as she took her wide strides and determined steps, her splay feet seemed to threaten to crush each board beneath her.
In the farther corner sat a young girl of seventeen. She rose, and courtesied ; but the down-cast eye, the flushing cheek and quivering lip showed that she was ashamed to meet our gaze. Her courtesy was graceful in the extreme. It was the discipline of the gaol that all prisoners should remain standing whilst visiters were present; but this poor girl trembled so that she could scarcely support herself. Her face was extremely beautiful; the features delicate ; the complexion pale ; and, if I ever saw a lofty brow, a clear magnificent eye, and lips that expressed dignity and sweetness, purity and gentleness, this poor girl possessed them all in perfection. Her figure, considering her age, was tall and beautifully formed, and her manner even elegant. I was overcome by the distress which our presence occasioned, as well as by her general appearance; and, full of emotion, I suddenly withdrew. My friend followed ; and was even more affected than myself.
The day was so beautiful that we resolved to walk from the gaol to my friend's mansion. The first half hour was passed in silence, each of us being absorbed in his own melancholy thoughts. I was the first to speak.
“After all,” said I," there are some good points to be found even in the abandoned. The most coarse and rude natures liave their delicacies, and the most violent their times of gentleness. How kind was it in that apparently brutal Amazon to nurse that bantling! for, small as it was, the poor mother seemed too weak and delicate to carry it."
“ You are again in error,” said my friend, with a faint smile. « That coarse woman, with her hard features and red hair, was nursing her own offspring. It is the child of that pale minikin baronet, whose affectation and mincing refinements so offended you the other day. Sir Hercules Savage has not the best reputation in the neighbourhood; and the woman professes great attachment to him, and will not affiliate, declaring her confidence that her paramour has too much affection for her and the baby ever to abandon either."
“And what is that delicate and beautiful girl in confinement for ? ” “ An assault."-"An assault? impossible !"
“ An assault that nearly cost the life of one of the finest and most robust young men in the county.”
“ She has not the strength to assail a lapdog, poor little gossamer sylph! You might as well talk of a butterfly assaulting a bull-dog."
"My friend, the history of this poor young creature is affecting. I was on the bench when she was convicted, and her case made an extraordinary sensation among the magistrates. She is the fourth daughter of a lieutenant in the navy, who fought and bled with Nelson at the Nile and Copenhagen, and closed his active career at the battle of Trafalgar. He had before lost an arm ; here he lost a leg; and now, in his old age, has the merit of supporting twelve children on his half-pay, and upon one small pension for many severe wounds. A very fine and handsome young man, the son of a rich farmer in the neighbourhood, paid his addresses to this girl; and, as it appears, succeeded in gaining the affections of the confiding and gentle creature. The courtship proceeded, and the love of the girl became the enthusiasm that poets write of. The young fellow had rather an unsteady character, being fonder of hunting, shooting, racing, and athletic exercises, than of attending to his father's business. In one thing only he seemed constant -- his love of his victim. At length he went so far as to ask permission of his father to marry the girl.
The wealthy old man indignantly refused his consent, declaring that he had not noticed his attentions to the lieutenant's daughter, supposing it was a mere temporary affair; and that his real wish was that he should marry the daughter of a neighbour, a farmer of considerable property, who could lay down a hundred pounds to the lieutenant's halfcrown. After abundance of abuse directed against pauper officers, beg. garly gentlemen, and pride in rags, he concluded by giving his son the option of marrying the girl, and being disinherited, or the farmer's daughter, and inheriting every shilling that both parents possessed. The heartless and unprincipled young scoundrel chose the latter alternative without the slightest hesitation, as if his former love had been really what his no less vile parent had supposed it.
The poor girl's expectations of an immediate and happy marriage were wrought up to the highest pitch, and love glowed in her young and pure heart, as the hour drew near at which her lover had pledged himself to bring his father's approbation. It never entered into her mind that a refusal was possible ; for the courtship had been carried on with that father's knowledge; “and, though poor," thought she, “ my own father is a gentleman.”
The lover arrived; and, after a few glasses of wine, communicated to her all that had passed. The inexperienced and doting girl first thought him intoxicated, then that he was only playing with her feelings previously to announcing the glad tidings that he had really brought. The truth, however, was soon made too plain. Womanly pride and indignation, contending with contempt and scorn for the meanness of the wretch whom she had loved, possessed her with such intensity, that her young frame gave way, and she fainted. She was restored to life, and to momentary love, until a recollection of all that had passed revived, when her seltish admirer renewed the subject. She wept bitterly, and reminded him of his vows, and of the declarations of attachment that had passed. He replied by assuring her that he still loved her best, although he should be compelled to marry the other; and had the audacity to propose that the two unions should go on together, their own being managed with secrecy.
At this proposal, all the passions that had by turns swayed her, shot through her brain like lightning, until in a paroxysm of frenzy she seized the decanter on the table, and struck the wretch a blow that laid him prostrate. Nature in her was exhausted, and she fainted with the effort. Madness gives wonderful strength, and the wound inflicted by that delicate arm fractured the fellow's skull, and has disfigured his face for ever. Like Cain, he will carry about with him the stain of his guilt to his latest hour.
We now entered the house. After dinner, I renewed the subject.
“Out of evil sometimes cometh good," said my friend. “ The girl's story will be the making of her family. It has drawn the attention of the gentry to her hitherto neglected father; and Lord , who is now in the Administration, has already given her two eldest brothers clerkships in public offices, and has procured for the veteran a pension on the Civil List.”
"It struck me,” said I, after a long and melancholy pause, “that when the unfortunate girl stood before us in the gaol, the resemblance between her and Rosa was a remarkable one.”
“For Heaven's sake, pursue that subject no further !” said my friend, looking earnestly in my face, and gently pressing his hand upon my arm. “ The resemblance was beyond anything I could have conceived. I saw you were strongly moved, and my own emotion was equally powerful. It was this, I know, that made us both so abruptly leave the gaol. Poor Rosa !” said my friend, with a sigh. “ But,” added he, after a melancholy pause, “a liberal subscription will be got up for this unfortunate girl, directly her term of imprisonment has expired, and I have no doubt she will receive"
"A letter, sir,” said a servant, entering the room.
“ From the George Inn, sir; and the porter is desired not to return without an answer.'
Doveways, with a slight apology to me, opened the epistle. As he read it, his face turned ghastly pale, and was then flushed with rage ; his eyes shot fire as he threw it on the ground.
“ Four horses instantly to the carriage,” he cried ; "and bid my valet and a footman be ready to attend me to town in a quarter of an hour-a quarter of an hour, do you hear; and do not let the messenger leave this house before I do."
The servant left the room, and Doveways paced up and down it like a madman.