« 上一页继续 »
lowed, and indeed necessitated to throw off a little of that cruelty which is so deucedly killing at eighteen. What says the Spanish poet?
Cease then, fair one, cease to shun me,
Here let all our difference cease;
All that rigour gives me peace. Accordingly it may be observed that women make their advances as Time makes his. At twenty, when the swain approaches to pay his devoirs, they exclaim with an air of languid indifference, " Who is he?" At thirty, with a prudent look towards the ways and means, the question is “ What is he?" At forty, much anxiety manifests itself to make the Hymeneal selection, and the query changes itself into “Which is he?" But at the ultima Thule of fifty, the ravenous expectant prepares to spring upon any prey, and exclaims “Where is he?" Be that as it may, the numerous candidates for a seat in Sergeant Nethersole's olive-green chariot gradually grew tired of the pursuit, and took wing to prey upon some newer benedic. Two only kept the field, Frances Jennings, spinster, and Amelia Jackson, widow; both of whom hovered on the verge of forty. “ It appears to me,” said Miss Jennings to a particular friend in Bedford-place, “ that Mrs.
Jackson does not conduct herself with propriety : she is never out of Mr. Nethersole's house, and jangles that old harpsichord of his with her “Love among the roses," till one's head actually turns giddy."_“I will mention it to you in confidence," said Mrs. Jackson on the very same day to another particular friend at the Bazaar in Soho-square, “I don't at all approve of Miss Jennings's goings on in Tavistock-square : she actually takes her work there : I caught her in the act of screwing her pincushion to the edge of Sergeant Nethersole's mahogany table-what right has she to net him purses?" The contest of work-table versus harpsichord now grew warm: betting even : Miss Jennings threw in a crimson purse and the odds were in her favour : the widow Jackson sang, By heaven and earth I love thee," and the crimson purse kicked the beam. The spinster no'n hemmed half a dozen muslin cravats, marked N. N. surmounted with a couple of red hearts: this was a tremendous body blow; but the widow, nothing daupted, drew from under the harpsichord a number of the Irish Melodies and started off at score with “ Fly not yet, 'tis now the hour.” This settled the battle at the end of the first stanza ; and I am glad it did, for really the widow was growing downright indecent.
About this time Love, tired of his aromatic station“ roses," of all places in the world began to take up his abode among the dusty Law Books in the library of Mr. Sergeant Nethersole's chambers. Certain amatory worthies had long slept on the top shelf, affrighted at the black coifs and white wigs of the legal authors who kept “ watch and ward" below, in all the dignity of octavo, quarto, and folio. But now, encouraged thereto by the aforesaid Sergeant, they crept from their upper gallery and mixed themselves with the decorous company in the pit and boxes. One Ovidius Naso, with his Art of Love in his pocket, presumed to shoulder Mr. Espinasse at Nisi Prius : Tibullus got astride of Mr. Justice Blackstone : Propertius lolled indolently against Bacon's Abridgment, and “the industrious Giles Jacob” could not keep his two quartos together from the assurance of one Waller,
who had taken post between them. In short, the Sergeant was in love! Still, however, I am of opinion, that "youth and an excellent constitution,” as the novelists have it, would have enabled the patient to struggle with the disease, if it had not been for the incident which I am about to relate.
The home circuit had now commenced, and Sergeant Nethersole had quitted London for Maidstone. Miss Jennings relied with confidence upon the occurrence of nothing particular till the assizes were over, and in that assurance had departed to spend a fortnight with a married sister at Kingston-upon-Thames. Poor innocent! she little knew what a widow is equal to. No sooner had the Sergeant departed in his olivegreen chariot, drawn by a couple of post-horses, than the widow Jackson, aided by Alice Green, packed her portmanteau, sent for a hackney-coach, and bade the driver adjourn to the Golden-cross, Charing
There was one vacant seat in the Maidstone coach : the widow occupied it at twelve at noon, and between five and six o'clock in the afternoon was quietly despatching a roasted fowl at the Star-inn, with
the egg-sauce, and the other upon the Assize Hall opposite. The pretext for this step was double: the first count alleged that her beloved brother lived at Town Malling, a mere step off, and the second averred an eager desire to hear the Sergeant plead. On the evening which followed that of the widow's arrival, the Sergeant happened not to have any consultation to attend; and, what is more remarkable, happened to be above the affectation of pretending that he had. He proposed a walk into the country: the lady consented : they moralised a few minutes upon the hic jacets in the church-yard, and thence strolled into the adjoining fields where certain labourers had piled the wooden props of the plant that feeds, or ought to feed, the brewer's vat, in conical (quære, comical shapes, not unlike the spire of the New Church in Langham place. The rain now began to fall : one of these sloping recipients stood invitingly open to shelter them from the storm : "Speluncam Dido dux et Trojanus." Ah! those pyramidal hop-poles ! The widow's brother from Town Malling was serving upon the Grand Jury: his sister's reputation was dear to him as his own : “ he'd call him brother, or he'd call him out,” and Nicholas Netbersole and Amelia Jackson were joined together in holy matrimony.
The widow Jackson, now Mrs. Nethersole, was a prudent woman, and wished, as the phrase is, to have every body's good word. It was her advice that her husband should write to his niece Mrs. Culpepper to acquaint her with what had happened. She had in fact drawn up a letter for his signature, in which she tendered several satisfactory apologies for the step, namely, that we are commanded to increase and multiply : that it is not good for man to be alone : but chiefly that he had met with a woman possessed of every qualification to make the marriage state happy. “Why no, my dear," answered the Sergeant, "with submission to you, (a phrase prophetic of the fact) it has been my rule through life, whenever I had done a wrong or a foolish deed (here the lady frowned) never to own it: never to suffer judgment to go by default, and thus remain in mercy,' but boldly to plead a justification. I have a manuscript note of a case in point in which I was concerned. In my youth I mixed largely in the fashionable world, and regularly frequented
the Hackney assemblies, carrying my pumps in my pocket. Jack Peters (he is now at Bombay) and myself, went thither, as usual, on a moonshining Monday and slept at the Mermaid. The Hackney stage on the following morning was returned non est inventus, without giving us notice of set off: the Clapton coach was therefore engaged to hold our bodies in safe custody, and them safely deposit at the Flower-pot in Bishopsgate-street. Hardly had we sued out our first cup of Souchong, when the Clapton coach stopped at the door. Here was a demurrer! Jack was for striking out the breakfast and joining issue with the two other inside passengers. But I said no; finish the muffins : take an order for half an hour's time: and then plead a justification! We did so, and then gave the coachman notice of set off, entering the vehicle with a hey-damme sort of aspect, plainly denoting to the two impatient insiders that if there was any impertinence in their
Bill we would strike it out without a reference to the Master. The scheme took, and before we reached Saint Leonard's, Shoreditch, egad! they were as supple as a couple of candidates for the India direction. Now that case, my dear, must govern this. Don't say a civil word to the Culpeppers about our marriage: if you do, there will be no end to their remonstrances : leave them to find it out in the Morning Chronicle.”
“ This is a very awkward affair, Mrs. Culpepper,” said that lady's husband, with the Morning Chronicle in his hand. “Awkward ?" • echoed Mrs. Culpepper, “it's abominable: a nasty fellow; he ought to be ashamed of himself! And as for his wife she is no better than she should be !"_" That may be," said the husband, " but we must give them a dinner notwithstanding."-"Dinner or no dinner,” said the wife, “I'll not laugh any more at that stupid old story of his about brother Van and brother Bear."-" Then I will,” resumed the husband, “ for there may possibly be no issue of the marriage." Miss Jennings, the outwitted spinster, tired two pair of borsés in telling all her friends from Southampton-street, Bloomsbury, to, Cornwall-terrace in the Regent's-park, how shamefully Mrs. Jackson had behaved. She then drove to the Register-office abovementioned, to transfer her affections to one Mr. Samuel Smithers, another old bachelor barrister, an inseparable crony of Nethersole's, who, she opined, must now marry from lack of knowing what to do with himself. Alas! she was a day too late : he had that very morning married the vacant bar-maid at Nando's. When the boney-moon of Mr. Sergeant Nethersole was on the wane,
-My sprite Popp'd through the key-hole, swift as light, of his chambers, in order to take a survey of his library. All was once more as it should be. Ovid had quitted Mr. Espinasse, Tibullus and Mr. Justice Blackstone were two, Propertius and Lord Bacon did not speak, and, as for Giles Jacob, Waller desired none of his company. The amatory poets were refitted to their upper-shelf, the honey-moon was over, and love no longer nestled in the Lair Book3.
THE MOOR'S PROPHECY.
Abandon'd to fade and decay.
To hearts that must live on despair !
sacred to prayer, Where site and descendant, the potent and fair,
Had for ages to worship repair'd !
Where joy was for ever unfurld !
That linger round life to the last !
And a soul full of grief and dismay.
For the reign of eternity.
As he wont from the day of his birth;
The Moor and his glorious name.
A jest on the lip of the fool.
ON PLAGUE. Plague is said to have had 'its origin in Egypt. In Egypt, too, Learning first saw the light. From the same nursery sprang the Genius and the Demon; but while learning hastened to leave its cradle, and, setting out on its travels, grew with every remove, and disdains to revisit its birth-place; plague, notwithstanding its destructive visits elsewhere, still broods with cruel constancy over its native land. Plague was imported into the western parts of Europe at the time of the crusades ; and after that period our own country had, for many centuries, her full share of its terrible inflictions. In the plague which ravaged Europe and Asia in 1348, and the ensuing years, and which swept away nearly three-fifths of the population of every country which it attacked ; 50,000 died in London only. In 1593, it carried off 11,503 inhabitants of our metropolis; in 1603, 36,269 ; in 1625, 35,415; in 1636, the number was only 13,480 ; but in 1665, according to the lowest calculation, it amounted to 68,596. It is impossible to read De Foe's narrative of this last and direst visitation without feelings of both horror and alarm. The calamity is brought home to us; we track its course through streets and lanes familiar to our ears, and are reminded of our own liability to a scourge almost forgotten, because so long unfelt. Notwithstanding the sad picture of physical, domestic, and national evil, which De Foe's narrative discloses, the moral consequences of plague appear to have borne a less appalling aspect in England than elsewhere. We discover but few of those disgusting features which Boccaccio describes in his account of the plague at Florence in 1348, and M. Bertrand, in his narrative of that which almost depopulated Marseilles in 1720. We hear not of a general licentiousness; of edicts to enforce, on pain of death, the attendance of physicians and clergy; of hasty love and hasty marriages, celebrated, as it were, in a charnel-house; of murders committed on the dying, and robberies on the dead. Yet without these hideous additions, the account of De Foe is sufficiently terrible; and the misery he describes is almost magnificent from its vastness and its extent.
To form, indeed, an accurate notion of this misery, is, happily, to us impossible. Here, as in other instances of wide and unexperienced calamity, the mind is incapable of comprehending the sum of wretchedness produced by the fears, the sufferings, the agonies of a whole population. It is only the outward symptoms of a plague-stricken city with which books can familiarize us, and the grass-grown streets, the red-crosses flaming on almost every door, the watchmen placed to confine the infected inmates, the slow rattle of the heavy dead-cart, the wide pits yawning for the indiscriminate dead, are but as indexes denoting the existence of intolerable, incomprehensible woe. One of the most terrific qualities of plague is its mystery.
Its commencement, progress, and termination, are all marked by uncertainty ; its symptoms are variable beyond idea, and even the researches of modern science, the fearlessness of modern practice, have not removed the veil of doubt from many of its most important features. Dr. Cullen defines it thus : “Plague is a typhus fever, in the highest degree contagious, accompanied with extreme debility. On an uncertain day of the disease there is an eruption of tumours or carbuncles.” But even this VOL. XI. NO. XLIV.