Thomas Love Peacock
Part 2 out of 3
either by the consideration that it would be for the credit of his
cloth, with some of his vice-suppressing neighbours, to be able to
say that he had expostulated; or by curiosity, to try what sort of
defence his city-bred friend, who knew the classics only by
translations, and whose reason was always a little ahead of his
knowledge, would make for his somewhat ostentatious display of
liberality in matters of taste; is a question on which the learned
may differ: but, after having duly deliberated on two full-sized
casts of the Uranian and Pandemian Venus, in niches on each side of
the chimney, and on three alabaster figures, in glass cases, on the
mantelpiece, he proceeded, peirastically, to open his fire.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. These little alabaster figures on the
mantelpiece, Mr. Crotchet, and those large figures in the niches--
may I take the liberty to ask you what they are intended to
MR. CROTCHET. Venus, sir; nothing more, sir; just Venus.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. May I ask you, sir, why they are there?
MR. CROTCHET. To be looked at, sir; just to be looked at: the
reasons for most things in a gentleman's house being in it at all;
from the paper on the walls, and the drapery of the curtains, even
to the books in the library, of which the most essential part is
the appearance of the back.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Very true, sir. As great philosophers hold
that the esse of things is percipi, so a gentleman's furniture
exists to be looked at. Nevertheless, sir, there are some things
more fit to be looked at than others; for instance, there is
nothing more fit to be looked at than the outside of a book. It
is, as I may say, from repeated experience, a pure and unmixed
pleasure to have a goodly volume lying before you, and to know that
you may open it if you please, and need not open it unless you
please. It is a resource against ennui, if ennui should come upon
you. To have the resource and not to feel the ennui, to enjoy your
bottle in the present, and your book in the indefinite future, is a
delightful condition of human existence. There is no place, in
which a man can move or sit, in which the outside of a book can be
otherwise than an innocent and becoming spectacle. Touching this
matter, there cannot, I think, be two opinions. But with respect
to your Venuses there can be, and indeed there are, two very
distinct opinions. Now, Sir, that little figure in the centre of
the mantelpiece--as a grave paterfamilias, Mr. Crotchet, with a
fair nubile daughter, whose eyes are like the fish-pools of
Heshbon--I would ask you if you hold that figure to be altogether
MR. CROTCHET. The sleeping Venus, sir? Nothing can be more
delicate than the entire contour of the figure, the flow of the
hair on the shoulders and neck, the form of the feet and fingers.
It is altogether a most delicate morsel.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Why, in that sense, perhaps, it is as delicate
as whitebait in July. But the attitude, sir, the attitude.
MR. CROTCHET. Nothing can be more natural, sir.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. That is the very thing, sir. It is too
natural: too natural, sir: it lies for all the world like--I make
no doubt, the pious cheesemonger, who recently broke its plaster
facsimile over the head of the itinerant vendor, was struck by a
certain similitude to the position of his own sleeping beauty, and
felt his noble wrath thereby justly aroused.
MR. CROTCHET. Very likely, sir. In my opinion, the cheesemonger
was a fool, and the justice who sided with him was a greater.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Fool, sir, is a harsh term: call not thy
brother a fool.
MR. CROTCHET. Sir, neither the cheesemonger nor the justice is a
brother of mine.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, we are all brethren.
MR. CROTCHET. Yes, sir, as the hangman is of the thief; the squire
of the poacher; the judge of the libeller; the lawyer of his
client; the statesman of his colleague; the bubble-blower of the
bubble-buyer; the slave-driver of the negro; as these are brethren,
so am I and the worthies in question
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. To be sure, sir, in these instances, and in
many others, the term brother must be taken in its utmost latitude
of interpretation: we are all brothers, nevertheless. But to
return to the point. Now these two large figures, one with drapery
on the lower half of the body, and the other with no drapery at
all; upon my word, sir, it matters not what godfathers and
godmothers may have promised and vowed for the children of this
world, touching the devil and other things to be renounced, if such
figures as those are to be put before their eyes.
MR. CROTCHET. Sir, the naked figure is the Pandemian Venus, and
the half-draped figure is the Uranian Venus; and I say, sir, that
figure realises the finest imaginings of Plato, and is the
personification of the most refined and exalted feeling of which
the human mind is susceptible; the love of pure, ideal,
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. I am aware, sir, that Plato, in his Symposium,
discourseth very eloquently touching the Uranian and Pandemian
Venus: but you must remember that, in our universities, Plato is
held to be little better than a misleader of youth; and they have
shown their contempt for him, not only by never reading him (a mode
of contempt in which they deal very largely), but even by never
printing a complete edition of him; although they have printed many
ancient books, which nobody suspects to have been ever read on the
spot, except by a person attached to the press, who is, therefore,
emphatically called "the reader."
MR. CROTCHET. Well, sir?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Why, sir, to "the reader" aforesaid (supposing
either of our universities to have printed an edition of Plato), or
to any one else who can be supposed to have read Plato, or, indeed,
to be ever likely to do so, I would very willingly show these
figures; because to such they would, I grant you, be the outward
and visible signs of poetical and philosophical ideas: but, to the
multitude, the gross, carnal multitude, they are but two beautiful
women, one half undressed, and the other quite so.
MR. CROTCHET. Then, sir, let the multitude look upon them and
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. I must say that, if I wished my footman to
learn modesty, I should not dream of sending him to school to a
MR. CROTCHET. Sir, ancient sculpture is the true school of
modesty. But where the Greeks had modesty, we have cant; where
they had poetry, we have cant; where they had patriotism, we have
cant; where they had anything that exalts, delights, or adorns
humanity, we have nothing but cant, cant, cant. And, sir, to show
my contempt for cant in all its shapes, I have adorned my house
with the Greek Venus, in all her shapes, and am ready to fight her
battle against all the societies that ever were instituted for the
suppression of truth and beauty.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. My dear sir, I am afraid you are growing warm.
Pray be cool. Nothing contributes so much to good digestion as to
be perfectly cool after dinner.
MR. CROTCHET. Sir, the Lacedaemonian virgins wrestled naked with
young men; and they grew up, as the wise Lycurgus had foreseen,
into the most modest of women, and the most exemplary of wives and
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Very likely, sir; but the Athenian virgins did
no such thing, and they grew up into wives who stayed at home--
stayed at home, sir; and looked after their husbands' dinner--his
dinner, sir, you will please to observe.
MR. CROTCHET. And what was the consequence of that, sir? that they
were such very insipid persons that the husband would not go home
to eat his dinner, but preferred the company of some Aspasia, or
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Two very different persons, sir, give me leave
MR. CROTCHET. Very likely, sir; but both too good to be married in
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, Lais was a Corinthian.
MR. CROTCHET. Od's vengeance, sir, some Aspasia and any other
Athenian name of the same sort of person you like -
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. I do not like the sort of person at all: the
sort of person I like, as I have already implied, is a modest
woman, who stays at home and looks after her husband's dinner.
MR. CROTCHET. Well, sir, that was not the taste of the Athenians.
They preferred the society of women who would not have made any
scruple about sitting as models to Praxiteles; as you know, sir,
very modest women in Italy did to Canova; one of whom, an Italian
countess, being asked by an English lady, "how she could bear it?"
answered, "Very well; there was a good fire in the room."
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, the English lady should have asked how the
Italian lady's husband could bear it. The phials of my wrath would
overflow if poor dear Mrs. Folliott -: sir, in return for your
story, I will tell you a story of my ancestor, Gilbert Folliott.
The devil haunted him, as he did Saint Francis, in the likeness of
a beautiful damsel; but all he could get from the exemplary Gilbert
was an admonition to wear a stomacher and longer petticoats.
MR. CROTCHET. Sir, your story makes for my side of the question.
It proves that the devil, in the likeness of a fair damsel, with
short petticoats and no stomacher, was almost too much for Gilbert
Folliott. The force of the spell was in the drapery.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Bless my soul, sir!
MR. CROTCHET. Give me leave, sir. Diderot -
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Who was he, sir?
MR. CROTCHET. Who was he, sir? the sublime philosopher, the father
of the Encyclopaedia, of all the encyclopaedias that have ever been
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Bless me, sir, a terrible progeny: they belong
to the tribe of Incubi.
MR. CROTCHET. The great philosopher, Diderot -
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, Diderot is not a man after my heart. Keep
to the Greeks, if you please; albeit this Sleeping Venus is not an
MR. CROTCHET. Well, sir, the Greeks: why do we call the Elgin
marbles inestimable? Simply because they are true to nature. And
why are they so superior in that point to all modern works, with
all our greater knowledge of anatomy? Why, sir, but because the
Greeks, having no cant, had better opportunities of studying
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, I deny our greater knowledge of anatomy.
But I shall take the liberty to employ, on this occasion, the
argumentum ad hominem. Would you have allowed Miss Crotchet to sit
for a model to Canova?
MR. CROTCHET. Yes, sir.
"God bless my soul, sir!" exclaimed the Reverend Doctor Folliott,
throwing himself back into a chair, and flinging up his heels, with
the premeditated design of giving emphasis to his exclamation; but
by miscalculating his impetus, he overbalanced his chair, and laid
himself on the carpet in a right angle, of which his back was the
CHAPTER VIII: SCIENCE AND CHARITY
Chi sta nel mondo un par d'ore contento,
Ne gli vien tolta, ovver contaminata,
Quella sua pace in veruno momento,
Puo dir che Giove drittamente il guata.
The Reverend Doctor Folliott took his departure about ten o'clock,
to walk home to his vicarage. There was no moon, but the night was
bright and clear, and afforded him as much light as he needed. He
paused a moment by the Roman camp to listen to the nightingale;
repeated to himself a passage of Sophocles; proceeded through the
park gate, and entered the narrow lane that led to the village. He
walked on in a very pleasant mood of the state called reverie; in
which fish and wine, Greek and political economy, the Sleeping
Venus he had left behind, and poor dear Mrs. Folliott, to whose
fond arms he was returning, passed, as in a camera obscura, over
the tablets of his imagination. Presently the image of Mr.
Eavesdrop, with a printed sketch of the Reverend Doctor F.,
presented itself before him, and he began mechanically to flourish
his bamboo. The movement was prompted by his good genius, for the
uplifted bamboo received the blow of a ponderous cudgel, which was
intended for his head. The reverend gentleman recoiled two or
three paces, and saw before him a couple of ruffians, who were
preparing to renew the attack, but whom, with two swings of his
bamboo, he laid with cracked sconces on the earth, where he
proceeded to deal with them like corn beneath the flail of the
thresher. One of them drew a pistol, which went off in the very
act of being struck aside by the bamboo, and lodged a bullet in the
brain of the other. There was then only one enemy, who vainly
struggled to rise, every effort being attended with a new and more
signal prostration. The fellow roared for mercy. "Mercy, rascal!"
cried the divine; "what mercy were you going to show me, villain?
What! I warrant me, you thought it would be an easy matter, and no
sin, to rob and murder a parson on his way home from dinner. You
said to yourself, doubtless, "We'll waylay the fat parson (you
irreverent knave), as he waddles home (you disparaging ruffian),
half-seas-over, (you calumnious vagabond)." And with every
dyslogistic term, which he supposed had been applied to himself, he
inflicted a new bruise on his rolling and roaring antagonist. "Ah,
rogue!" he proceeded, "you can roar now, marauder; you were silent
enough when you devoted my brains to dispersion under your cudgel.
But seeing that I cannot bind you, and that I intend you not to
escape, and that it would be dangerous to let you rise, I will
disable you in all your members. I will contund you as Thestylis
did strong smelling herbs, in the quality whereof you do most
gravely partake, as my nose beareth testimony, ill weed that you
are. I will beat you to a jelly, and I will then roll you into the
ditch, to lie till the constable comes for you, thief."
"Hold! hold! reverend sir," exclaimed the penitent culprit, "I am
disabled already in every finger, and in every joint. I will roll
myself into the ditch, reverend sir."
"Stir not, rascal," returned the divine, "stir not so much as the
quietest leaf above you, or my bamboo rebounds on your body, like
hail in a thunder-storm. Confess, speedily, villain; are you a
simple thief, or would you have manufactured me into a subject for
the benefit of science? Ay, miscreant caitiff, you would have made
me a subject for science, would you? You are a school-master
abroad, are you? You are marching with a detachment of the march
of mind, are you? You are a member of the Steam Intellect Society,
are you? You swear by the learned friend, do you?"
"Oh, no! reverend sir," answered the criminal, "I am innocent of
all these offences, whatever they are, reverend sir. The only
friend I had in the world is lying dead beside me, reverend sir."
The reverend gentleman paused a moment, and leaned on his bamboo.
The culprit, bruised as he was, sprang on his legs, and went off in
double quick time. The Doctor gave him chase, and had nearly
brought him within arm's length, when the fellow turned at right
angles, and sprang clean over a deep dry ditch. The divine,
following with equal ardour, and less dexterity, went down over
head and ears into a thicket of nettles. Emerging with much
discomposure, he proceeded to the village, and roused the
constable; but the constable found, on reaching the scene of
action, that the dead man was gone, as well as his living
"Oh, the monster!" exclaimed the Reverend Doctor Folliott, "he has
made a subject for science of the only friend he had in the world."
"Ay, my dear," he resumed, the next morning at breakfast, "if my
old reading, and my early gymnastics (for, as the great Hermann
says, before I was demulced by the Muses, I was ferocis ingenii
puer, et ad arma quam ad literas paratior), had not imbued me
indelibly with some of the holy rage of Frere Jean des Entommeures,
I should be, at this moment, lying on the table of some flinty-
hearted anatomist, who would have sliced and disjointed me as
unscrupulously as I do these remnants of the capon and chine,
wherewith you consoled yourself yesterday for my absence at dinner.
Phew! I have a noble thirst upon me, which I will quench with
floods of tea."
The reverend gentleman was interrupted by a messenger, who informed
him that the Charity Commissioners requested his presence at the
inn, where they were holding a sitting.
"The Charity Commissioners!" exclaimed the reverend gentleman, "who
on earth are they?"
The messenger could not inform him, and the reverend gentleman took
his hat and stick, and proceeded to the inn.
On entering the best parlour, he saw three well-dressed and bulky
gentlemen sitting at a table, and a fourth officiating as clerk,
with an open book before him, and a pen in his hand. The church-
wardens, who had been also summoned, were already in attendance.
The chief commissioner politely requested the Reverend Doctor
Folliott to be seated, and after the usual meteorological
preliminaries had been settled by a resolution, nem. con., that it
was a fine day but very hot, the chief commissioner stated, that in
virtue of the commission of Parliament, which they had the honour
to hold, they were now to inquire into the state of the public
charities of this village.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. The state of the public charities, sir, is
exceedingly simple. There are none. The charities here are all
private, and so private, that I for one know nothing of them.
FIRST COMMISSIONER. We have been informed, sir, that there is an
annual rent charged on the land of Hautbois, for the endowment and
repair of an almshouse.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Hautbois! Hautbois!
FIRST COMMISSIONER. The manorial farm of Hautbois, now occupied by
Farmer Seedling, is charged with the endowment and maintenance of
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT (to the Churchwarden). How is this, Mr.
FIRST CHURCHWARDEN. I really do not know, sir. What say you, Mr.
MR. APPLETWIG (parish clerk and schoolmaster; an old man). I do
remember, gentlemen, to have been informed, that there did stand,
at the end of the village, a ruined cottage, which had once been an
almshouse, which was endowed and maintained, by an annual revenue
of a mark and a half, or one pound sterling, charged some centuries
ago on the farm of Hautbois; but the means, by the progress of
time, having become inadequate to the end, the almshouse tumbled to
FIRST COMMISSIONER. But this is a right which cannot be abrogated
by desuetude, and the sum of one pound per annum is still
chargeable for charitable purposes on the manorial farm of
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Very well, sir.
MR. APPLETWIG. But, sir, the one pound per annum is still received
by the parish, but was long ago, by an unanimous vote in open
vestry, given to the minister.
THE THREE COMMISSIONERS (una voce). The minister!
FIRST COMMISSIONER. This is an unjustifiable proceeding.
SECOND COMMISSIONER. A misappropriation of a public fund.
THIRD COMMISSIONER. A flagrant perversion of a charitable
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. God bless my soul, gentlemen! I know nothing
of this matter. How is this, Mr. Bluenose? Do I receive this one
pound per annum?
FIRST CHURCHWARDEN. Really, sir, I know no more about it than you
MR. APPLETWIG. You certainly receive it, sir. It was voted to one
of your predecessors. Farmer Seedling lumps it in with his tithes.
FIRST COMMISSIONER. Lumps it in, sir! Lump in a charitable
SECOND AND THIRD COMMISSIONER. Oh-oh-oh-h-h!
FIRST COMMISSIONER. Reverend sir, and gentlemen, officers of this
parish, we are under the necessity of admonishing you that this is
a most improper proceeding: and you are hereby duly admonished
accordingly. Make a record, Mr. Milky.
MR. MILKY (writing). The clergyman and church-wardens of the
village of Hm-ra-m-m- gravely admonished. Hm-m-m-m.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Is that all, gentlemen?
THE COMMISSIONERS. That is all, sir; and we wish you a good
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. A very good morning to you, gentlemen.
"What in the name of all that is wonderful, Mr. Bluenose," said the
Reverend Doctor Folliott, as he walked out of the inn, "what in the
name of all that is wonderful, can those fellows mean? They have
come here in a chaise and four, to make a fuss about a pound per
annum, which, after all, they leave as it was: I wonder who pays
them for their trouble, and how much."
MR. APPLETWIG. The public pay for it, sir. It is a job of the
learned friend whom you admire so much. It makes away with public
money in salaries, and private money in lawsuits, and does no
particle of good to any living soul.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Ay, ay, Mr. Appletwig; that is just the sort of
public service to be looked for from the learned friend. Oh, the
learned friend! the learned friend! He is the evil genius of
everything that falls in his way.
The Reverend Doctor walked off to Crotchet Castle, to narrate his
misadventures, and exhale his budget of grievances on Mr. Mac
Quedy, whom he considered a ringleader of the march of mind.
CHAPTER IX: THE VOYAGE
Mounting the bark, they cleft the watery ways.--Homer.
Four beautiful cabined pinnaces, one for the ladies, one for the
gentlemen, one for kitchen and servants, one for a dining-room and
band of music, weighed anchor, on a fine July morning, from below
Crotchet Castle, and were towed merrily, by strong trotting horses,
against the stream of the Thames. They passed from the district of
chalk, successively into the districts of clay, of sand-rock, of
oolite, and so forth. Sometimes they dined in their floating
dining-room, sometimes in tents, which they pitched on the dry,
smooth-shaven green of a newly-mown meadow: sometimes they left
their vessels to see sights in the vicinity; sometimes they passed
a day or two in a comfortable inn.
At Oxford, they walked about to see the curiosities of
architecture, painted windows, and undisturbed libraries. The
Reverend Doctor Folliott laid a wager with Mr. Crotchet "that in
all their perlustrations they would not find a man reading," and
won it. "Ay," said the reverend gentleman, "this is still a seat
of learning, on the principle of--once a captain, always a captain.
We may well ask, in these great reservoirs of books whereof no man
ever draws a sluice, Quorsum pertinuit stipere Platona Menandro?
What is done here for the classics? Reprinting German editions on
better paper. A great boast, verily! What for mathematics? What
for metaphysics? What for history? What for anything worth
knowing? This was a seat of learning in the days of Friar Bacon.
But the Friar is gone, and his learning with him. Nothing of him
is left but the immortal nose, which, when his brazen head had
tumbled to pieces, crying "Time's Past," was the only palpable
fragment among its minutely pulverised atoms, and which is still
resplendent over the portals of its cognominal college. That nose,
sir, is the only thing to which I shall take off my hat, in all
this Babylon of buried literature.
MR. CROTCHET. But, doctor, it is something to have a great
reservoir of learning, at which some may draw if they please.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. But, here, good care is taken that nobody shall
please. If even a small drop from the sacred fountain, [Greek
text], as Callimachus has it, were carried off by any one, it would
be evidence of something to hope for. But the system of dissuasion
from all good learning is brought here to a pitch of perfection
that baffles the keenest aspirant. I run over to myself the names
of the scholars of Germany, a glorious catalogue: but ask for
those of Oxford,--Where are they? The echoes of their courts, as
vacant as their heads, will answer, Where are they? The tree shall
be known by its fruit: and seeing that this great tree, with all
its specious seeming, brings forth no fruit, I do denounce it as a
MR. MAC QUEDY. I shall set you right on this point. We do nothing
without motives. If learning get nothing but honour, and very
little of that; and if the good things of this world, which ought
to be the rewards of learning, become the mere gifts of self-
interested patronage; you must not wonder if, in the finishing of
education, the science which takes precedence of all others, should
be the science of currying favour.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Very true, sir. Education is well finished,
for all worldly purposes, when the head is brought into the state
whereinto I am accustomed to bring a marrow-bone, when it has been
set before me on a toast, with a white napkin wrapped round it.
Nothing trundles along the high road of preferment so trimly as a
well-biassed sconce, picked clean within and polished without;
totus teres atque rotundus. The perfection of the finishing lies
in the bias, which keeps it trundling in the given direction.
There is good and sufficient reason for the fig being barren, but
it is not therefore the less a barren fig.
At Godstow, they gathered hazel on the grave of Rosamond; and,
proceeding on their voyage, fell into a discussion on legendary
LADY CLARINDA. History is but a tiresome thing in itself: it
becomes more agreeable the more romance is mixed up with it. The
great enchanter has made me learn many things which I should never
have dreamed of studying, if they had not come to me in the form of
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. What enchanter is that? There are two
enchanters: he of the north, and he of the south.
MR. TRILLO. Rossini!
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Ay, there is another enchanter. But I mean the
great enchanter of Covent Garden: he who, for more than a quarter
of a century, has produced two pantomimes a year, to the delight of
children of all ages; including myself at all ages. That is the
enchanter for me. I am for the pantomimes. All the northern
enchanter's romances put together would not furnish materials for
half the Southern enchanter's pantomimes.
LADY CLARINDA. Surely you do not class literature with pantomime?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. In these cases, I do. They are both one, with
a slight difference. The one is the literature of pantomime, the
other is the pantomime of literature. There is the same variety of
character, the same diversity of story, the same copiousness of
incident, the same research into costume, the same display of
heraldry, falconry, minstrelsy, scenery, monkery, witchery,
devilry, robbery, poachery, piracy, fishery, gipsy-astrology,
demonology, architecture, fortification, castrametation,
navigation; the same running base of love and battle. The main
difference is, that the one set of amusing fictions is told in
music and action; the other in all the worst dialects of the
English language. As to any sentence worth remembering, any moral
or political truth, anything having a tendency, however remote, to
make men wiser or better, to make them think, to make them ever
think of thinking; they are both precisely alike nuspiam,
nequaquam, nullibi, nullimodis.
LADY CLARINDA. Very amusing, however.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Very amusing, very amusing.
MR. CHAINMAIL. My quarrel with the northern enchanter is, that he
has grossly misrepresented the twelfth century.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. He has misrepresented everything, or he would
not have been very amusing. Sober truth is but dull matter to the
reading rabble. The angler, who puts not on his hook the bait that
best pleases the fish, may sit all day on the bank without catching
MR. MAC QUEDY. But how do you mean that he has misrepresented the
twelfth century? By exhibiting some of its knights and ladies in
the colours of refinement and virtue, seeing that they were all no
better than ruffians, and something else that shall be nameless?
MR. CHAINMAIL. By no means. By depicting them as much worse than
they were, not, as you suppose, much better. No one would infer
from his pictures that theirs was a much better state of society
than this which we live in.
MR. MAC QUEDY. No, nor was it. It was a period of brutality,
ignorance, fanaticism, and tyranny; when the land was covered with
castles, and every castle contained a gang of banditti, headed by a
titled robber, who levied contributions with fire and sword;
plundering, torturing, ravishing, burying his captives in loathsome
dungeons, and broiling them on gridirons, to force from them the
surrender of every particle of treasure which he suspected them of
possessing; and fighting every now and then with the neighbouring
lords, his conterminal bandits, for the right of marauding on the
boundaries. This was the twelfth century, as depicted by all
contemporary historians and poets.
MR. CHAINMAIL. No, sir. Weigh the evidence of specific facts; you
will find more good than evil. Who was England's greatest hero--
the mirror of chivalry, the pattern of honour, the fountain of
generosity, the model to all succeeding ages of military glory?
Richard the First. There is a king of the twelfth century. What
was the first step of liberty? Magna Charta. That was the best
thing ever done by lords. There are lords of the twelfth century.
You must remember, too, that these lords were petty princes, and
made war on each other as legitimately as the heads of larger
communities did or do. For their system of revenue, it was, to be
sure, more rough and summary than that which has succeeded it, but
it was certainly less searching and less productive. And as to the
people, I content myself with these great points: that every man
was armed, every man was a good archer, every man could and would
fight effectively, with sword or pike, or even with oaken cudgel;
no man would live quietly without beef and ale if he had them not;
he fought till he either got them, or was put out of condition to
want them. They were not, and could not be, subjected to that
powerful pressure of all the other classes of society, combined by
gunpowder, steam, and fiscality, which has brought them to that
dismal degradation in which we see them now. And there are the
people of the twelfth century.
MR. MAC QUEDY. As to your king, the enchanter has done him ample
justice, even in your own view. As to your lords and their ladies,
he has drawn them too favourably, given them too many of the false
colours of chivalry, thrown too attractive a light on their
abominable doings. As to the people, he keeps them so much in the
background, that he can hardly be said to have represented them at
all, much less misrepresented them, which indeed he could scarcely
do, seeing that, by your own showing, they were all thieves, ready
to knock down any man for what they could not come by honestly.
MR. CHAINMAIL. No, sir. They could come honestly by beef and ale,
while they were left to their simple industry. When oppression
interfered with them in that, then they stood on the defensive, and
fought for what they were not permitted to come by quietly.
MR. MAC QUEDY. If A., being aggrieved by B., knocks down C., do
you call that standing on the defensive?
MR. CHAINMAIL. That depends on who or what C. is.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Gentlemen, you will never settle this
controversy till you have first settled what is good for man in
this world; the great question, de finibus, which has puzzled all
philosophers. If the enchanter has represented the twelfth century
too brightly for one, and too darkly for the other of you, I should
say, as an impartial man, he has represented it fairly. My quarrel
with him is, that his works contain nothing worth quoting; and a
book that furnishes no quotations, is me judice, no book--it is a
plaything. There is no question about the amusement,--amusement of
multitudes; but if he who amuses us most is to be our enchanter
[Greek text], then my enchanter is the enchanter of Covent Garden.
CHAPTER X: THE VOYAGE, CONTINUED
Continuant nostre routte, navigasmes par trois jours sans rien
"There is a beautiful structure," said Mr. Chainmail, as they
glided by Lechlade church; "a subject for the pencil, Captain. It
is a question worth asking, Mr. Mac Quedy, whether the religious
spirit which reared these edifices, and connected with them
everywhere an asylum for misfortune, and a provision for poverty,
was not better than the commercial spirit, which has turned all the
business of modern life into schemes of profit and processes of
fraud and extortion. I do not see, in all your boasted
improvements, any compensation for the religious charity of the
twelfth century. I do not see any compensation for that kindly
feeling which, within their own little communities, bound the
several classes of society together, while full scope was left for
the development of natural character, wherein individuals differed
as conspicuously as in costume. Now, we all wear one conventional
dress, one conventional face; we have no bond of union but
pecuniary interest; we talk anything that comes uppermost for
talking's sake, and without expecting to be believed; we have no
nature, no simplicity, no picturesqueness: everything about us is
as artificial and as complicated as our steam-machinery: our
poetry is a kaleidoscope of false imagery, expressing no real
feeling, portraying no real existence. I do not see any
compensation for the poetry of the twelfth century."
MR. MAC QUEDY. I wonder to hear you, Mr. Chainmail, talking of the
religious charity of a set of lazy monks and beggarly friars, who
were much more occupied with taking than giving; of whom those who
were in earnest did nothing but make themselves and everybody about
them miserable with fastings and penances, and other such trash;
and those who were not, did nothing but guzzle and royster, and,
having no wives of their own, took very unbecoming liberties with
those of honester men. And as to your poetry of the twelfth
century, it is not good for much.
MR. CHAINMAIL. It has, at any rate, what ours wants, truth to
nature and simplicity of diction.
The poetry, which was addressed to the people of the dark ages,
pleased in proportion to the truth with which it depicted familiar
images, and to their natural connection with the time and place to
which they were assigned. In the poetry of our enlightened times,
the characteristics of all seasons, soils, and climates may be
blended together with much benefit to the author's fame as an
original genius. The cowslip of a civic poet is always in blossom,
his fern is always in full feather; he gathers the celandine, the
primrose, the heath-flower, the jasmine, and the chrysanthemum all
on the same day and from the same spot; his nightingale sings all
the year round, his moon is always full, his cygnet is as white as
his swan, his cedar is as tremulous as his aspen, and his poplar as
embowering as his beech. Thus all nature marches with the march of
mind; but among barbarians, instead of mead and wine, and the best
seat by the fire, the reward of such a genius would have been to be
summarily turned out of doors in the snow, to meditate on the
difference between day and night and between December and July. It
is an age of liberality, indeed, when not to know an oak from a
burdock is no disqualification for sylvan minstrelsy. I am for
truth and simplicity.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT.--Let him who loves them read Greek: Greek,
MR. MAC QUEDY.--If he can, sir.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT.--Very true, sir; if he can. Here is the Captain
who can. But I think he must have finished his education at some
very rigid college, where a quotation or any other overt act
showing acquaintance with classical literature was visited with a
severe penalty. For my part, I make it my boast that I was not to
be so subdued. I could not be abated of a single quotation by all
the bumpers in which I was fined.
In this manner they glided over the face of the waters, discussing
everything and settling nothing. Mr. Mac Quedy and the Reverend
Doctor Folliott had many digladiations on political economy:
wherein, each in his own view, Doctor Folliott demolished Mr. Mac
Quedy's science, and Mr. Mac Quedy demolished Dr. Folliott's
We would print these dialogues if we thought anyone would read
them; but the world is not yet ripe for this haute sagesse
Pantagrueline. We must therefore content ourselves with an
echantillon of one of the Reverend Doctor's perorations.
"You have given the name of a science to what is yet an imperfect
inquiry, and the upshot of your so-called science is this: that
you increase the wealth of a nation by increasing in it the
quantity of things which are produced by labour: no matter what
they are, no matter how produced, no matter how distributed. The
greater the quantity of labour that has gone to the production of
the quantity of things in a community, the richer is the community.
That is your doctrine. Now, I say, if this be so, riches are not
the object for a community to aim at. I say the nation is best
off, in relation to other nations, which has the greatest quantity
of the common necessaries of life distributed among the greatest
number of persons; which has the greatest number of honest hearts
and stout arms united in a common interest, willing to offend no
one, but ready to fight in defence of their own community against
all the rest of the world, because they have something in it worth
fighting for. The moment you admit that one class of things,
without any reference to what they respectively cost, is better
worth having than another; that a smaller commercial value, with
one mode of distribution, is better than a greater commercial
value, with another mode of distribution; the whole of that curious
fabric of postulates and dogmas, which you call the science of
political economy, and which I call politicae aeconomiae
inscientia, tumbles to pieces."
Mr. Toogood agreed with Mr. Chainmail against Mr. Mac Quedy, that
the existing state of society was worse than that of the twelfth
century; but he agreed with Mr. Mac Quedy against Mr. Chainmail,
that it was in progress to something much better than either--to
which "something much better" Mr. Toogood and Mr. Mac Quedy
attached two very different meanings.
Mr. Chainmail fought with Doctor Folliott, the battle of the
romantic against the classical in poetry; and Mr. Skionar contended
with Mr. Mac Quedy for intuition and synthesis, against analysis
and induction in philosophy.
Mr. Philpot would lie along for hours, listening to the gurgling of
the water round the prow, and would occasionally edify the company
with speculations on the great changes that would be effected in
the world by the steam-navigation of rivers: sketching the course
of a steamboat up and down some mighty stream which civilisation
had either never visited, or long since deserted; the Missouri and
the Columbia, the Oroonoko and the Amazon, the Nile and the Niger,
the Euphrates and the Tigris, the Oxus and the Indus, the Ganges
and the Hoangho; under the over canopying forests of the new, or by
the long-silent ruins of the ancient, world; through the shapeless
mounds of Babylon, or the gigantic temples of Thebes.
Mr. Trillo went on with the composition of his opera, and took the
opinions of the young ladies on every step in its progress;
occasionally regaling the company with specimens; and wondering at
the blindness of Mr. Mac Quedy, who could not, or would not, see
that an opera in perfection, being the union of all the beautiful
arts--music, painting, dancing, poetry--exhibiting female beauty in
its most attractive aspects, and in its most becoming costume--was,
according to the well-known precept, Ingenuas didicisse, etc., the
most efficient instrument of civilisation, and ought to take
precedence of all other pursuits in the minds of true
philanthropists. The Reverend Doctor Folliott, on these occasions,
never failed to say a word or two on Mr. Trillo's side, derived
from the practice of the Athenians, and from the combination, in
their theatre, of all the beautiful arts, in a degree of perfection
unknown to the modern world.
Leaving Lechlade, they entered the canal that connects the Thames
with the Severn; ascended by many locks; passed by a tunnel, three
miles long, through the bowels of Sapperton Hill; agreed
unanimously that the greatest pleasure derivable from visiting a
cavern of any sort was that of getting out of it; descended by many
locks again through the valley of Stroud into the Severn; continued
their navigation into the Ellesmere canal; moored their pinnaces in
the Vale of Llangollen by the aqueduct of Pontycysyllty; and
determined to pass some days in inspecting the scenery, before
commencing their homeward voyage.
The Captain omitted no opportunity of pressing his suit on Lady
Clarinda, but could never draw from her any reply but the same
doctrines of worldly wisdom, delivered in a tone of badinage, mixed
with a certain kindness of manner that induced him to hope she was
not in earnest.
But the morning after they had anchored under the hills of the Dee-
-whether the lady had reflected more seriously than usual, or was
somewhat less in good humour than usual, or the Captain was more
pressing than usual--she said to him: "It must not be, Captain
Fitzchrome; 'the course of true love never did run smooth:' my
father must keep his borough, and I must have a town house and a
country house, and an opera box, and a carriage. It is not well
for either of us that we should flirt any longer: 'I must be cruel
only to be kind.' Be satisfied with the assurance that you alone,
of all men, have ever broken my rest. To be sure, it was only for
about three nights in all; but that is too much."
The Captain had le coeur navre. He took his portfolio under his
arm, made up the little valise of a pedestrian, and, without saying
a word to anyone, wandered off at random among the mountains.
After the lapse of a day or two, the Captain was missed, and
everyone marvelled what was become of him. Mr. Philpot thought he
must have been exploring a river, and fallen in and got drowned in
the process. Mr. Firedamp had no doubt he had been crossing a
mountain bog, and had been suddenly deprived of life by the
exhalations of marsh miasmata. Mr. Henbane deemed it probable that
he had been tempted in some wood by the large black brilliant
berries of the Atropa Belladonna, or Deadly Nightshade; and
lamented that he had not been by, to administer an infallible
antidote. Mr. Eavesdrop hoped the particulars of his fate would be
ascertained; and asked if anyone present could help him to any
authentic anecdotes of their departed friend. The Reverend Doctor
Folliott proposed that an inquiry should be instituted as to
whether the march of intellect had reached that neighbourhood, as,
if so, the Captain had probably been made a subject for science.
Mr. Mac Quedy said it was no such great matter to ascertain the
precise mode in which the surplus population was diminished by one.
Mr. Toogood asseverated that there was no such thing as surplus
population, and that the land, properly managed, would maintain
twenty times its present inhabitants; and hereupon they fell into a
Lady Clarinda did not doubt that the Captain had gone away
designedly; she missed him more than she could have anticipated,
and wished she had at least postponed her last piece of cruelty
till the completion of their homeward voyage.
CHAPTER XI: CORRESPONDENCE
"Base is the slave that pays."--ANCIENT PISTOL.
The Captain was neither drowned nor poisoned, neither miasmatised
nor anatomised. But, before we proceed to account for him, we must
look back to a young lady, of whom some little notice was taken in
the first chapter; and who, though she has since been out of sight,
has never with us been out of mind: Miss Susannah Touchandgo, the
forsaken of the junior Crotchet, whom we left an inmate of a
solitary farm, in one of the deep valleys under the cloud-capt
summits of Meirion, comforting her wounded spirit with air and
exercise, rustic cheer, music, painting, and poetry, and the
prattle of the little Ap Llymrys.
One evening, after an interval of anxious expectation, the farmer,
returning from market brought for her two letters, of which the
contents were these:
"Dotandcarryonetown, State of Apodidraskiana.
"April 1, 18..
My Dear Child,
"I am anxious to learn what are your present position, intention,
and prospects. The fairies who dropped gold in your shoe, on the
morning when I ceased to be a respectable man in London, will soon
find a talismanic channel for transmitting you a stocking full of
dollars, which will fit the shoe as well as the foot of Cinderella
fitted her slipper. I am happy to say I am again become a
respectable man. It was always my ambition to be a respectable
man, and I am a very respectable man here, in this new township of
a new state, where I have purchased five thousand acres of land, at
two dollars an acre, hard cash, and established a very flourishing
bank. The notes of Touchandgo and Company, soft cash, are now the
exclusive currency of all this vicinity. This is the land in which
all men flourish; but there are three classes of men who flourish
especially,--methodist preachers, slave-drivers, and paper-money
manufacturers; and as one of the latter, I have just painted the
word BANK on a fine slab of maple, which was green and growing when
I arrived, and have discounted for the settlers, in my own
currency, sundry bills, which are to be paid when the proceeds of
the crop they have just sown shall return from New Orleans; so that
my notes are the representatives of vegetation that is to be, and I
am accordingly a capitalist of the first magnitude. The people
here know very well that I ran away from London; but the most of
them have run away from some place or other; and they have a great
respect for me, because they think I ran away with something worth
taking, which few of them had the luck or the wit to do. This
gives them confidence in my resources, at the same time that, as
there is nothing portable in the settlement except my own notes,
they have no fear that I shall run away with them. They know I am
thoroughly conversant with the principles of banking, and as they
have plenty of industry, no lack of sharpness, and abundance of
land, they wanted nothing but capital to organise a flourishing
settlement; and this capital I have manufactured to the extent
required, at the expense of a small importation of pens, ink, and
paper, and two or three inimitable copper plates. I have abundance
here of all good things, a good conscience included; for I really
cannot see that I have done any wrong. This was my position: I
owed half a million of money; and I had a trifle in my pocket. It
was clear that this trifle could never find its way to the right
owner. The question was, whether I should keep it, and live like a
gentleman; or hand it over to lawyers and commissioners of
bankruptcy, and die like a dog on a dunghill. If I could have
thought that the said lawyers, etc., had a better title to it than
myself, I might have hesitated; but, as such title was not apparent
to my satisfaction, I decided the question in my own favour, the
right owners, as I have already said, being out of the question
altogether. I have always taken scientific views of morals and
politics, a habit from which I derive much comfort under existing
"I hope you adhere to your music, though I cannot hope again to
accompany your harp with my flute. My last andante movement was
too forte for those whom it took by surprise. Let not your allegro
vivace be damped by young Crotchet's desertion, which, though I
have not heard it, I take for granted. He is, like myself, a
scientific politician, and has an eye as keen as a needle to his
own interest. He has had good luck so far, and is gorgeous in the
spoils of many gulls; but I think the Polar Basin and Walrus
Company will be too much for him yet. There has been a splendid
outlay on credit, and he is the only man, of the original parties
concerned, of whom his Majesty's sheriffs could give any account.
"I will not ask you to come here. There is no husband for you.
The men smoke, drink, and fight, and break more of their own heads
than of girls' hearts. Those among them who are musical, sing
nothing but psalms. They are excellent fellows in their way, but
you would not like them.
"Au reste, here are no rents, no taxes, no poor-rates, no tithes,
no church establishment, no routs, no clubs, no rotten boroughs, no
operas, no concerts, no theatres, no beggars, no thieves, no king,
no lords, no ladies, and only one gentleman, videlicet, your loving
P.S.--I send you one of my notes; I can afford to part with it. If
you are accused of receiving money from me, you may pay it over to
my assignees. Robthetill continues to be my factotum; I say no
more of him in this place: he will give you an account of
"Mr. Touchandgo will have told you of our arrival here, of our
setting up a bank, and so forth. We came here in a tilted waggon,
which served us for parlour, kitchen, and all. We soon got up a
log-house; and, unluckily, we as soon got it down again, for the
first fire we made in it burned down house and all. However, our
second experiment was more fortunate; and we are pretty well lodged
in a house of three rooms on a floor; I should say the floor, for
there is but one.
"This new state is free to hold slaves; all the new states have not
this privilege: Mr. Touchandgo has bought some, and they are
building him a villa. Mr. Touchandgo is in a thriving way, but he
is not happy here: he longs for parties and concerts, and a seat
in Congress. He thinks it very hard that he cannot buy one with
his own coinage, as he used to do in England. Besides, he is
afraid of the Regulators, who, if they do not like a man's
character, wait upon him and flog him, doubling the dose at stated
intervals, till he takes himself off. He does not like this system
of administering justice: though I think he has nothing to fear
from it. He has the character of having money, which is the best
of all characters here, as at home. He lets his old English
prejudices influence his opinions of his new neighbours; but, I
assure you, they have many virtues. Though they do keep slaves,
they are all ready to fight for their own liberty; and I should not
like to be an enemy within reach of one of their rifles. When I
say enemy, I include bailiff in the term. One was shot not long
ago. There was a trial; the jury gave two dollars damages; the
judge said they must find guilty or not guilty; but the counsel for
the defendant (they would not call him prisoner) offered to fight
the judge upon the point: and as this was said literally, not
metaphorically, and the counsel was a stout fellow, the judge gave
in. The two dollars damages were not paid after all; for the
defendant challenged the foreman to box for double or quits, and
the foreman was beaten. The folks in New York made a great outcry
about it, but here it was considered all as it should be. So you
see, Miss, justice, liberty, and everything else of that kind, are
different in different places, just as suits the convenience of
those who have the sword in their own hands. Hoping to hear of
your health and happiness, I remain,
"Dear Miss, your dutiful servant,
Miss Touchandgo replied as follows to the first of these letters:
"My Dear Father,
"I am sure you have the best of hearts, and I have no doubt you
have acted with the best intentions. My lover, or, I should rather
say, my fortune's lover, has indeed forsaken me. I cannot say I
did not feel it; indeed, I cried very much; and the altered looks
of people who used to be so delighted to see me, really annoyed me
so, that I determined to change the scene altogether. I have come
into Wales, and am boarding with a farmer and his wife. Their
stock of English is very small; but I managed to agree with them,
and they have four of the sweetest children I ever saw, to whom I
teach all I know, and I manage to pick up some Welsh. I have
puzzled out a little song, which I think very pretty; I have
translated it into English, and I send it you, with the original
air. You shall play it on your flute at eight o'clock every
Saturday evening, and I will play and sing it at the same time, and
I will fancy that I hear my dear papa accompanying me.
"The people in London said very unkind things of you: they hurt me
very much at the time; but now I am out of their way, I do not seem
to think their opinion of much consequence. I am sure, when I
recollect, at leisure, everything I have seen and heard among them,
I cannot make out what they do that is so virtuous, as to set them
up for judges of morals. And I am sure they never speak the truth
about anything, and there is no sincerity in either their love or
their friendship. An old Welsh bard here, who wears a waistcoat
embroidered with leeks, and is called the Green Bard of Cadeir
Idris, says the Scotch would be the best people in the world, if
there was nobody but themselves to give them a character: and so I
think would the Londoners. I hate the very thought of them, for I
do believe they would have broken my heart, if I had not got out of
their way. Now I shall write you another letter very soon, and
describe to you the country, and the people, and the children, and
how I amuse myself, and everything that I think you will like to
hear about: and when I seal this letter, I shall drop a kiss on
"Your loving daughter,
P.S.--Tell Mr. Robthetill I will write to him in a day or two.
This is the little song I spoke of:
"Beyond the sea, beyond the sea,
My heart is gone, far, far from me;
And ever on its track will flee
My thoughts, my dreams, beyond the sea.
"Beyond the sea, beyond the sea,
The swallow wanders fast and free;
Oh, happy bird! were I like thee,
I, too, would fly beyond the sea.
"Beyond the sea, beyond the sea,
Are kindly hearts and social glee:
But here for me they may not be;
My heart is gone beyond the sea."
CHAPTER XII: THE MOUNTAIN INN
How sweet to minds that love not sordid ways
The Captain wandered despondingly up and down hill for several
days, passing many hours of each in sitting on rocks; making,
almost mechanically, sketches of waterfalls, and mountain pools;
taking care, nevertheless, to be always before nightfall in a
comfortable inn, where, being a temperate man, he whiled away the
evening with making a bottle of sherry into negus. His rambles
brought him at length into the interior of Merionethshire, the land
of all that is beautiful in nature, and all that is lovely in
Here, in a secluded village, he found a little inn, of small
pretension and much comfort. He felt so satisfied with his
quarters, and discovered every day so much variety in the scenes of
the surrounding mountains, that his inclination to proceed farther
It is one thing to follow the high road through a country, with
every principally remarkable object carefully noted down in a book,
taking, as therein directed, a guide, at particular points, to the
more recondite sights: it is another to sit down on one chosen
spot, especially when the choice is unpremeditated, and from
thence, by a series of explorations, to come day by day on
unanticipated scenes. The latter process has many advantages over
the former; it is free from the disappointment which attends
excited expectation, when imagination has outstripped reality, and
from the accidents that mar the scheme of the tourist's single day,
when the valleys may be drenched with rain, or the mountains
shrouded with mist.
The Captain was one morning preparing to sally forth on his usual
exploration, when he heard a voice without, inquiring for a guide
to the ruined castle. The voice seemed familiar to him, and going
forth into the gateway, he recognised Mr. Chainmail. After
greetings and inquiries for the absent: "You vanished very
abruptly, Captain," said Mr. Chainmail, "from our party on the
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. To tell you the truth, I had a particular
reason for trying the effect of absence from a part of that party.
MR. CHAINMAIL. I surmised as much: at the same time, the unusual
melancholy of an in general most vivacious young lady made me
wonder at your having acted so precipitately. The lady's heart is
yours, if there be truth in signs.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Hearts are not now what they were in the days
of the old song: "Will love be controlled by advice?"
MR. CHAINMAIL. Very true; hearts, heads, and arms have all
degenerated, most sadly. We can no more feel the high impassioned
love of the ages, which some people have the impudence to call
dark, than we can wield King Richard's battleaxe, bend Robin Hood's
bow, or flourish the oaken graft of the Pindar of Wakefield. Still
we have our tastes and feelings, though they deserve not the name
of passions; and some of us may pluck up spirit to try to carry a
point, when we reflect that we have to contend with men no better
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. We do not now break lances for ladies.
MR. CHAINMAIL. No; nor even bulrushes. We jingle purses for them,
flourish paper-money banners, and tilt with scrolls of parchment.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. In which sort of tilting I have been thrown
from the saddle. I presume it was not love that led you from the
MR. CHAINMAIL. By no means. I was tempted by the sight of an old
tower, not to leave this land of ruined castles, without having
collected a few hints for the adornment of my baronial hall.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. I understand you live en famille with your
domestics. You will have more difficulty in finding a lady who
would adopt your fashion of living, than one who would prefer you
to a richer man.
MR. CHAINMAIL. Very true. I have tried the experiment on several
as guests; but once was enough for them: so, I suppose, I shall
die a bachelor.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. I see, like some others of my friends, you
will give up anything except your hobby.
MR. CHAINMAIL. I will give up anything but my baronial hall.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. You will never find a wife for your purpose,
unless in the daughter of some old-fashioned farmer.
MR. CHAINMAIL. No, I thank you. I must have a lady of gentle
blood; I shall not marry below my own condition: I am too much of
a herald; I have too much of the twelfth century in me for that.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Why, then your chance is not much better than
mine. A well-born beauty would scarcely be better pleased with
your baronial hall than with my more humble offer of love in a
cottage. She must have a town-house, and an opera-box, and roll
about the streets in a carriage; especially if her father has a
rotten borough, for the sake of which he sells his daughter, that
he may continue to sell his country. But you were inquiring for a
guide to the ruined castle in this vicinity; I know the way and
will conduct you.
The proposal pleased Mr. Chainmail, and they set forth on their
CHAPTER XIII: THE LAKE--THE RUIN
Or vieni, Amore, e qua meco t'assetta.
MR. CHAINMAIL. Would it not be a fine thing, Captain, you being
picturesque, and I poetical; you being for the lights and shadows
of the present, and I for those of the past; if we were to go
together over the ground which was travelled in the twelfth century
by Giraldus de Barri, when he accompanied Archbishop Baldwin to
preach the crusade?
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Nothing, in my present frame of mind, could be
more agreeable to me.
MR. CHAINMAIL. We would provide ourselves with his Itinerarium;
compare what has been, with what is; contemplate in their decay the
castles and abbeys, which he saw in their strength and splendour;
and, while you were sketching their remains, I would
dispassionately inquire what has been gained by the change.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Be it so.
But the scheme was no sooner arranged, than the Captain was
summoned to London by a letter on business, which he did not expect
to detain him long. Mr. Chainmail, who, like the Captain, was
fascinated with the inn and the scenery, determined to await his
companion's return; and, having furnished him with a list of books,
which he was to bring with him from London, took leave of him, and
began to pass his days like the heroes of Ariosto, who
- tutto il giorno, al bel oprar intenti,
Saliron balze, e traversar torrenti.
One day Mr. Chainmail traced upwards the course of a mountain
stream to a spot where a small waterfall threw itself over a slab
of perpendicular rock, which seemed to bar his farther progress.
On a nearer view, he discovered a flight of steps, roughly hewn in
the rock, on one side of the fall. Ascending these steps, he
entered a narrow winding pass, between high and naked rocks, that
afforded only space for a rough footpath, carved on one side, at
some height above the torrent.
The pass opened on a lake, from which the stream issued, and which
lay like a dark mirror, set in a gigantic frame of mountain
precipices. Fragments of rock lay scattered on the edge of the
lake, some half-buried in the water: Mr. Chainmail scrambled some
way over these fragments, till the base of a rock sinking abruptly
in the water, effectually barred his progress. He sat down on a
large smooth stone; the faint murmur of the stream he had quitted,
the occasional flapping of the wings of the heron, and at long
intervals, the solitary springing of a trout, were the only sounds
that came to his ear. The sun shone brightly half-way down the
opposite rocks, presenting, on their irregular faces, strong masses
of light and shade. Suddenly he heard the dash of a paddle, and,
turning his eyes, saw a solitary and beautiful girl gliding over
the lake in a coracle: she was proceeding from the vicinity of the
point he had quitted, towards the upper end of the lake. Her
apparel was rustic, but there was in its style something more
recherchee, in its arrangement something more of elegance and
precision, than was common to the mountain peasant girl. It had
more of the contadina of the opera, than of the genuine
mountaineer; so at least thought Mr. Chainmail; but she passed so
rapidly, and took him so much by surprise, that he had little
opportunity for accurate observation. He saw her land, at the
farther extremity, and disappear among the rocks: he rose from his
seat, returned to the mouth of the pass, stepped from stone to
stone across the stream, and attempted to pass round by the other
side of the lake; but there again the abruptly sinking precipice
closed his way.
Day after day he haunted the spot, but never saw again either the
damsel or the coracle. At length, marvelling at himself for being
so solicitous about the apparition of a peasant girl in a coracle,
who could not, by any possibility, be anything to him, he resumed
his explorations in another direction.
One day he wandered to the ruined castle, on the sea-shore, which
was not very distant from his inn; and sitting on the rock, near
the base of the ruin, was calling up the forms of past ages on the
wall of an ivied tower, when on its summit appeared a female
figure, whom he recognised in an instant for his nymph of the
coracle. The folds of the blue gown pressed by the sea-breeze
against one of the most symmetrical of figures, the black feather
of the black hat, and the ringleted hair beneath it fluttering in
the wind; the apparent peril of her position, on the edge of the
mouldering wall, from whose immediate base the rock went down
perpendicularly to the sea, presented a singularly interesting
combination to the eye of the young antiquary.
Mr. Chainmail had to pass half round the castle, on the land side,
before he could reach the entrance: he coasted the dry and
bramble-grown moat, crossed the unguarded bridge, passed the
unportcullised arch of the gateway, entered the castle court,
ascertained the tower, ascended the broken stairs, and stood on the
ivied wall. But the nymph of the place was gone. He searched the
ruins within and without, but he found not what he sought: he
haunted the castle day after day, as he had done the lake, but the
damsel appeared no more.
CHAPTER XIV: THE DINGLE
The stars of midnight shall be dear
To her, and she shall lean her ear
In many a secret place,
Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
And beauty, born of murmuring sound,
Shall pass into her face.--WORDSWORTH.
Miss Susannah Touchandgo had read the four great poets of Italy,
and many of the best writers of France. About the time of her
father's downfall, accident threw into her way Les Reveries du
Promeneur Solitaire; and from the impression which these made on
her, she carried with her into retirement all the works of
Rousseau. In the midst of that startling light, which the conduct
of old friends on a sudden reverse of fortune throws on a young and
inexperienced mind, the doctrines of the philosopher of Geneva
struck with double force upon her sympathies: she imbibed the
sweet poison, as somebody calls it, of his writings, even to a love
of truth; which, every wise man knows, ought to be left to those
who can get anything by it. The society of children, the beauties
of nature, the solitude of the mountains, became her consolation,
and, by degrees, her delight. The gay society from which she had
been excluded, remained on her memory only as a disagreeable dream.
She imbibed her new monitor's ideas of simplicity of dress,
assimilating her own with that of the peasant-girls in the
neighbourhood: the black hat, the blue gown, the black stockings,
the shoes, tied on the instep.
Pride was, perhaps, at the bottom of the change: she was willing
to impose in some measure on herself, by marking a contemptuous
indifference to the characteristics of the class of society from
which she had fallen.
And with the food of pride sustained her soul
It is true that she somewhat modified the forms of her rustic
dress: to the black hat she added a black feather, to the blue
gown she added a tippet, and a waistband fastened in front with a
silver buckle; she wore her black stockings very smooth and tight
on her ankles, and tied her shoes in tasteful bows, with the nicest
possible ribbon. In this apparel, to which, in winter, she added a
scarlet cloak, she made dreadful havoc among the rustic
mountaineers, many of whom proposed to "keep company" with her in
the Cambrian fashion, an honour which, to their great surprise, she
always declined. Among these, Harry Ap-Heather, whose father
rented an extensive sheepwalk, and had a thousand she-lambs
wandering in the mountains, was the most strenuous in his suit, and
the most pathetic in his lamentations for her cruelty.
Miss Susannah often wandered among the mountains alone, even to
some distance from the farmhouse. Sometimes she descended into the
bottom of the dingles, to the black rocky beds of the torrents, and
dreamed away hours at the feet of the cataracts. One spot in
particular, from which she had at first shrunk with terror, became
by degrees her favourite haunt. A path turning and returning at
acute angles, led down a steep wood-covered slope to the edge of a
chasm, where a pool, or resting-place of a torrent, lay far below.
A cataract fell in a single sheet into the pool; the pool boiled
and bubbled at the base of the fall, but through the greater part
of its extent, lay calm, deep, and black, as if the cataract had
plunged through it to an unimaginable depth, without disturbing its
eternal repose. At the opposite extremity of the pool, the rocks
almost met at their summits, the trees of the opposite banks
intermingled their leaves, and another cataract plunged from the
pool into a chasm, on which the sunbeams never gleamed. High
above, on both sides, the steep woody slopes of the dingle soared
into the sky; and from a fissure in the rock, on which the little
path terminated, a single gnarled and twisted oak stretched itself
over the pool, forming a fork with its boughs at a short distance
from the rock. Miss Susannah often sat on the rock, with her feet
resting on this tree; in time, she made her seat on the tree
itself, with her feet hanging over the abyss; and at length, she
accustomed herself to lie along upon its trunk, with her side on
the mossy bole of the fork, and an arm round one of the branches.
From this position a portion of the sky and the woods was reflected
in the pool, which, from its bank, was but a mass of darkness. The
first time she reclined in this manner, her heart beat audibly; in
time she lay down as calmly as on the mountain heather; the
perception of the sublime was probably heightened by an
intermingled sense of danger; and perhaps that indifference to
life, which early disappointment forces upon sensitive minds, was
necessary to the first experiment. There was, in the novelty and
strangeness of the position, an excitement which never wholly
passed away, but which became gradually subordinate to the
influence, at once tranquillising and elevating, of the mingled
eternity of motion, sound, and solitude.
One sultry noon, she descended into this retreat with a mind more
than usually disturbed by reflections on the past. She lay in her
favourite position, sometimes gazing on the cataract; looking
sometimes up the steep sylvan acclivities, into the narrow space of
the cloudless ether; sometimes down into the abyss of the pool, and
the deep bright-blue reflections that opened another immensity
below her. The distressing recollections of the morning, the world
and all its littlenesses, faded from her thoughts like a dream; but
her wounded and wearied spirit drank in too deeply the
tranquillising power of the place, and she dropped asleep upon the
tree like a ship-boy on the mast.
At this moment Mr. Chainmail emerged into daylight, on a projection
of the opposite rock, having struck down through the woods in
search of unsophisticated scenery. The scene he discovered filled
him with delight: he seated himself on the rock, and fell into one
of his romantic reveries; when suddenly the semblance of a black
hat and feather caught his eye among the foliage of the projecting
oak. He started up, shifted his position, and got a glimpse of a
blue gown. It was his lady of the lake, his enchantress of the
ruined castle, divided from him by a barrier which, at a few yards
below, he could almost overleap, yet unapproachable but by a
circuit perhaps of many hours. He watched with intense anxiety.
To listen if she breathed was out of the question: the noses of a
dean and chapter would have been soundless in the roar of the
torrent. From her extreme stillness, she appeared to sleep: yet
what creature, not desperate, would go wilfully to sleep in such a
place? Was she asleep, then? Nay, was she alive? She was as
motionless as death. Had she been murdered, thrown from above, and
caught in the tree? She lay too regularly and too composedly for
such a supposition. She was asleep, then, and, in all probability,
her waking would be fatal. He shifted his position. Below the
pool two beetle-browed rocks nearly overarched the chasm, leaving
just such a space at the summit as was within the possibility of a
leap; the torrent roared below in a fearful gulf. He paused some
time on the brink, measuring the practicability and the danger, and
casting every now and then an anxious glance to his sleeping
beauty. In one of these glances he saw a slight movement of the
blue gown, and, in a moment after, the black hat and feather
dropped into the pool. Reflection was lost for a moment, and, by a
sudden impulse, he bounded over the chasm.
He stood above the projecting oak; the unknown beauty lay like the
nymph of the scene; her long black hair, which the fall of her hat
had disengaged from its fastenings, drooping through the boughs:
he saw that the first thing to be done, was to prevent her throwing
her feet off the trunk, in the first movements of waking. He sat
down on the rock, and placed his feet on the stem, securing her
ankles between his own: one of her arms was round a branch of the
fork, the other lay loosely on her side. The hand of this arm he
endeavoured to reach, by leaning forward from his seat; he
approximated, but could not touch it: after several tantalising
efforts, he gave up the point in despair. He did not attempt to
wake her, because he feared it might have bad consequences, and he
resigned himself to expect the moment of her natural waking,
determined not to stir from his post, if she should sleep till
In this period of forced inaction, he could contemplate at leisure
the features and form of his charmer. She was not one of the
slender beauties of romance; she was as plump as a partridge; her
cheeks were two roses, not absolutely damask, yet verging
thereupon; her lips twin-cherries, of equal size; her nose regular,
and almost Grecian; her forehead high, and delicately fair; her
eyebrows symmetrically arched; her eyelashes, long, black, and
silky, fitly corresponding with the beautiful tresses that hung
among the leaves of the oak, like clusters of wandering grapes.
Her eyes were yet to be seen; but how could he doubt that their
opening would be the rising of the sun, when all that surrounded
their fringy portals was radiant as "the forehead of the morning
CHAPTER XV: THE FARM
Da ydyw'r gwaith, rhaid d'we'yd y gwir,
Ar fryniau Sir Meirionydd;
Golwg oer o'r gwaela gawn
Mae hi etto yn llawn llawenydd.
Though Meirion's rocks, and hills of heath,
Repel the distant sight,
Yet where, than those bleak hills beneath,
Is found more true delight?
At length the young lady awoke. She was startled at the sudden
sight of the stranger, and somewhat terrified at the first
perception of her position. But she soon recovered her self-
possession, and, extending her hand to the offered hand of Mr.
Chainmail, she raised herself up on the tree, and stepped on the
Mr. Chainmail solicited permission to attend her to her home, which
the young lady graciously conceded. They emerged from the woody
dingle, traversed an open heath, wound along a mountain road by the
shore of a lake, descended to the deep bed of another stream,
crossed it by a series of stepping-stones, ascended to some height
on the opposite side, and followed upwards the line of the stream,
till the banks opened into a spacious amphitheatre, where stood, in
its fields and meadows, the farmhouse of Ap-Llymry.
During this walk, they had kept up a pretty animated conversation.
The lady had lost her hat, and, as she turned towards Mr.
Chainmail, in speaking to him, there was no envious projection of
brim to intercept the beams of those radiant eyes he had been so
anxious to see unclosed. There was in them a mixture of softness
and brilliancy, the perfection of the beauty of female eyes, such
as some men have passed through life without seeing, and such as no
man ever saw, in any pair of eyes, but once; such as can never be
seen and forgotten. Young Crotchet had seen it; he had not
forgotten it; but he had trampled on its memory, as the renegade
tramples on the emblems of a faith which his interest only, and not
his heart or his reason, has rejected.
Her hair streamed over her shoulders; the loss of the black feather
had left nothing but the rustic costume, the blue gown, the black
stockings, and the ribbon-tied shoes. Her voice had that full soft
volume of melody which gives to common speech the fascination of
music. Mr. Chainmail could not reconcile the dress of the damsel
with her conversation and manners. He threw out a remote question
or two, with the hope of solving the riddle, but, receiving no
reply, he became satisfied that she was not disposed to be
communicative respecting herself, and, fearing to offend her, fell
upon other topics. They talked of the scenes of the mountains, of
the dingle, the ruined castle, the solitary lake. She told him,
that lake lay under the mountains behind her home, and the coracle
and the pass at the extremity, saved a long circuit to the nearest
village, whither she sometimes went to inquire for letters.
Mr. Chainmail felt curious to know from whom these letters might
be; and he again threw out two or three fishing questions, to
which, as before, he obtained no answer.
The only living biped they met in their walk was the unfortunate
Harry Ap-Heather, with whom they fell in by the stepping-stones,
who, seeing the girl of his heart hanging on another man's arm,
and, concluding at once that they were "keeping company," fixed on
her a mingled look of surprise, reproach, and tribulation; and,
unable to control his feelings under the sudden shock, burst into a
flood of tears, and blubbered till the rocks re-echoed.
They left him mingling his tears with the stream, and his
lamentations with its murmurs. Mr. Chainmail inquired who that
strange creature might be, and what was the matter with him. The
young lady answered, that he was a very worthy young man, to whom
she had been the innocent cause of much unhappiness.
"I pity him sincerely," said Mr. Chainmail and, nevertheless, he
could scarcely restrain his laughter at the exceedingly original
figure which the unfortunate rustic lover had presented by the
The children ran out to meet their dear Miss Susan, jumped all
round her, and asked what was become of her hat. Ap-Llymry came
out in great haste, and invited Mr. Chainmail to walk in and dine:
Mr. Chainmail did not wait to be asked twice. In a few minutes the
whole party, Miss Susan and Mr. Chainmail, Mr. and Mrs. Ap-Llymry,
and progeny, were seated over a clean homespun table cloth,
ornamented with fowls and bacon, a pyramid of potatoes, another of
cabbage, which Ap-Llymry said "was poiled with the pacon, and as
coot as marrow," a bowl of milk for the children, and an immense
brown jug of foaming ale, with which Ap-Llymry seemed to delight in
filling the horn of his new guest.
Shall we describe the spacious apartment, which was at once
kitchen, hall, and dining-room,--the large dark rafters, the
pendent bacon and onions, the strong old oaken furniture, the
bright and trimly-arranged utensils? Shall we describe the cut of
Ap-Llymry's coat, the colour and tie of his neckcloth, the number
of buttons at his knees,--the structure of Mrs. Ap-Llymry's cap,
having lappets over the ears, which were united under the chin,
setting forth especially whether the bond of union were a pin or a
ribbon? We shall leave this tempting field of interesting
expatiation to those whose brains are high-pressure steam-engines
for spinning prose by the furlong, to be trumpeted in paid-for
paragraphs in the quack's corner of newspapers: modern literature
having attained the honourable distinction of sharing, with
blacking and Macassar oil, the space which used to be monopolised
by razor-strops and the lottery; whereby that very enlightened
community, the reading public, is tricked into the perusal of much
exemplary nonsense; though the few who see through the trickery
have no reason to complain, since as "good wine needs no bush," so,
ex vi oppositi, these bushes of venal panegyric point out very
clearly that the things they celebrate are not worth reading.
The party dined very comfortably in a corner most remote from the
fire: and Mr. Chainmail very soon found his head swimming with two
or three horns of ale, of a potency to which even he was
unaccustomed. After dinner Ap-Llymry made him finish a bottle of
mead, which he willingly accepted, both as an excuse to remain and
as a drink of the dark ages, which he had no doubt was a genuine
brewage from uncorrupted tradition.
In the meantime, as soon as the cloth was removed, the children had
brought out Miss Susannah's harp. She began, without affectation,
to play and sing to the children, as was her custom of an
afternoon, first in their own language, and their national
melodies, then in English; but she was soon interrupted by a
general call of little voices for "Ouf! di giorno." She complied
with the request, and sang the ballad from Paer's Camilla: "Un di
carco il mulinaro." The children were very familiar with every
syllable of this ballad, which had been often fully explained to
them. They danced in a circle with the burden of every verse,
shouting out the chorus with good articulation and joyous energy;
and at the end of the second stanza, where the traveller has his
nose pinched by his grandmother's ghost, every nose in the party
was nipped by a pair of little fingers. Mr. Chainmail, who was not
prepared for the process, came in for a very energetic tweak from a
chubby girl that sprang suddenly on his knees for the purpose, and
made the roof ring with her laughter.
So passed the time till evening, when Mr. Chainmail moved to
depart. But it turned out on inquiry that he was some miles from
his inn, that the way was intricate, and that he must not make any
difficulty about accepting the farmer's hospitality till morning.
The evening set in with rain: the fire was found agreeable; they
drew around it. The young lady made tea; and afterwards, from time
to time, at Mr. Chainmail's special request, delighted his ear with
passages of ancient music. Then came a supper of lake trout, fried
on the spot, and thrown, smoking hot, from the pan to the plate.
Then came a brewage, which the farmer called his nightcap, of which
he insisted on Mr. Chainmail's taking his full share. After which
the gentleman remembered nothing till he awoke, the next morning,
to the pleasant consciousness that he was under the same roof with
one of the most fascinating creatures under the canopy of heaven.
CHAPTER XVI: THE NEWSPAPER
Sprung from what line, adorns the maid
These, valleys deep in mountain-shade?
PIND. Pyth. IX
Mr. Chainmail forgot the Captain and the route of Giraldus de
Barri. He became suddenly satisfied that the ruined castle in his
present neighbourhood was the best possible specimen of its class,
and that it was needless to carry his researches further.
He visited the farm daily: found himself always welcome; flattered
himself that the young lady saw him with pleasure, and dragged a
heavier chain at every new parting from Miss Susan, as the children
called his nymph of the mountains. What might be her second name,
he had vainly endeavoured to discover.
Mr. Chainmail was in love: but the determination he had long
before formed and fixed in his mind, to marry only a lady of gentle
blood, without a blot in her escutcheon, repressed the declarations
of passion which were often rising to his lips. In the meantime he
left no means untried to pluck out the heart of her mystery.
The young lady soon divined his passion, and penetrated his
prejudices. She began to look on him with favourable eyes; but she
feared her name and parentage would present an insuperable barrier
to his feudal pride.
Things were in this state when the Captain returned, and unpacked
his maps and books in the parlour of the inn.
MR. CHAINMAIL. Really, Captain, I find so many objects of
attraction in this neighbourhood, that I would gladly postpone our
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Undoubtedly this neighbourhood has many
attractions; but there is something very inviting in the scheme you
MR. CHAINMAIL. No doubt there is something very tempting in the
route of Giraldus de Barri. But there are better things in this
vicinity even than that. To tell you the truth, Captain, I have
fallen in love.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. What! while I have been away?
MR. CHAINMAIL. Even so.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. The plunge must have been very sudden, if you
are already over head and ears.
MR. CHAINMAIL. As deep as Llyn-y-dreiddiad-vrawd.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. And what may that be?
MR. CHAINMAIL. A pool not far off: a resting-place of a mountain
stream which is said to have no bottom. There is a tradition
connected with it; and here is a ballad on it, at your service.
THE POOL OF THE DIVING FRIAR.
Gwenwynwyn withdrew from the feasts of his hall:
He slept very little, he prayed not at all:
He pondered, and wandered, and studied alone;
And sought, night and day, the philosopher's stone.
He found it at length, and he made its first proof
By turning to gold all the lead of his roof:
Then he bought some magnanimous heroes, all fire,
Who lived but to smite and be smitten for hire.
With these on the plains like a torrent he broke;
He filled the whole country with flame and with smoke;
He killed all the swine, and he broached all the wine;
He drove off the sheep, and the beeves, and the kine;
He took castles and towns; he cut short limbs and lives;
He made orphans and widows of children and wives:
This course many years he triumphantly ran,
And did mischief enough to be called a great man.
When, at last, he had gained all for which he held striven,
He bethought him of buying a passport to heaven;
Good and great as he was, yet he did not well know,
How soon, or which way, his great spirit might go.
He sought the grey friars, who beside a wild stream,
Refected their frames on a primitive scheme;
The gravest and wisest Gwenwynwyn found out,
All lonely and ghostly, and angling for trout.
Below the white dash of a mighty cascade,
Where a pool of the stream a deep resting-place made,
And rock-rooted oaks stretched their branches on high,
The friar stood musing, and throwing his fly.
To him said Gwenwynwyn, "Hold, father, here's store,
For the good of the church, and the good of the poor;"
Then he gave him the stone; but, ere more he could speak,
Wrath came on the friar, so holy and meek.
He had stretched forth his hand to receive the red gold,
And he thought himself mocked by Gwenwynwyn the Bold;
And in scorn of the gift, and in rage at the giver,
He jerked it immediately into the river.
Gwenwynwyn, aghast, not a syllable spake;
The philosopher's stone made a duck and a drake;
Two systems of circles a moment were seen,
And the stream smoothed them off, as they never had been.
Gwenwynwyn regained, and uplifted his voice,
"Oh friar, grey friar, full rash was thy choice;
The stone, the good stone, which away thou hast thrown,
Was the stone of all stones, the philosopher's stone."
The friar looked pale, when his error he knew;
The friar looked red, and the friar looked blue;
And heels over head, from the point of a rock,
He plunged, without stopping to pull off his frock.
He dived very deep, but he dived all in vain,
The prize he had slighted he found not again;
Many times did the friar his diving renew,
And deeper and deeper the river still grew.
Gwenwynwyn gazed long, of his senses in doubt,
To see the grey friar a diver so stout;
Then sadly and slowly his castle he sought,
And left the friar diving, like dabchick distraught.
Gwenwynwyn fell sick with alarm and despite,
Died, and went to the devil, the very same night;
The magnanimous heroes he held in his pay
Sacked his castle, and marched with the plunder away.
No knell on the silence of midnight was rolled
For the flight of the soul of Gwenwynwyn the Bold.
The brethren, unfeed, let the mighty ghost pass,
Without praying a prayer, or intoning a mass.
The friar haunted ever beside the dark stream;
The philosopher's stone was his thought and his dream:
And day after day, ever head under heels
He dived all the time he could spare from his meals.
He dived, and he dived, to the end of his days,
As the peasants oft witnessed with fear and amaze.
The mad friar's diving-place long was their theme,
And no plummet can fathom that pool of the stream.
And still, when light clouds on the midnight winds ride,
If by moonlight you stray on the lone river-side,
The ghost of the friar may be seen diving there,
With head in the water, and heels in the air.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Well, your ballad is very pleasant: you shall
show me the scene, and I will sketch it; but just now I am more
interested about your love. What heroine of the twelfth century
has risen from the ruins of the old castle, and looked down on you
from the ivied battlements?
MR. CHAINMAIL. You are nearer the mark than you suppose. Even
from those battlements a heroine of the twelfth century has looked
down on me.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Oh! some vision of an ideal beauty. I suppose
the whole will end in another tradition and a ballad.
MR. CHAINMAIL. Genuine flesh and blood; as genuine as Lady
Clarinda. I will tell you the story.
Mr. Chainmail narrated his adventures.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Then you seem to have found what you wished.
Chance has thrown in your way what none of the gods would have
ventured to promise you.
MR. CHAINMAIL. Yes, but I know nothing of her birth and parentage.
She tells me nothing of herself, and I have no right to question
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. She appears to be expressly destined for the
light of your baronial hall. Introduce me in this case, two heads
are better than one.
MR. CHAINMAIL. No, I thank you. Leave me to manage my chance of a
prize, and keep you to your own chance of a -
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Blank. As you please. Well, I will pitch my
tent here, till I have filled my portfolio, and shall be glad of as
much of your company as you can spare from more attractive society.
Matters went on pretty smoothly for several days, when an unlucky
newspaper threw all into confusion. Mr. Chainmail received
newspapers by the post, which came in three times a week. One
morning, over their half-finished breakfast, the Captain had read
half a newspaper very complacently, when suddenly he started up in
a frenzy, hurled over the breakfast table, and, bouncing from the
apartment, knocked down Harry Ap Heather, who was coming in at the
door to challenge his supposed rival to a boxing-match.
Harry sprang up, in a double rage, and intercepted Mr. Chainmail's
pursuit of the Captain, placing himself in the doorway, in a
pugilistic attitude. Mr. Chainmail, not being disposed for this
mode of combat, stepped back into the parlour, took the poker in
his right hand, and displacing the loose bottom of a large elbow
chair, threw it over his left arm as a shield. Harry, not liking
the aspect of the enemy in this imposing attitude, retreated with
backward steps into the kitchen, and tumbled over a cur, which
immediately fastened on his rear.
Mr. Chainmail, half-laughing, half-vexed, anxious to overtake the
Captain, and curious to know what was the matter with him, pocketed
the newspaper, and sallied forth, leaving Harry roaring for a
doctor and tailor, to repair the lacerations of his outward man.
Mr. Chainmail could find no trace of the Captain. Indeed, he
sought him but in one direction, which was that leading to the
farm; where he arrived in due time, and found Miss Susan alone. He
laid the newspaper on the table, as was his custom, and proceeded
to converse with the young lady: a conversation of many pauses, as
much of signs as of words. The young lady took up the paper, and
turned it over and over, while she listened to Mr. Chainmail, whom
she found every day more and more agreeable, when suddenly her eye
glanced on something which made her change colour, and dropping the
paper on the ground, she rose from her seat, exclaiming:
"Miserable must she be who trusts any of your faithless sex! never,
never, never, will I endure such misery twice." And she vanished
up the stairs. Mr. Chainmail was petrified. At length, he cried
aloud: "Cornelius Agrippa must have laid a spell on this accursed
newspaper;" and was turning it over, to look for the source of the
mischief, when Mrs. Ap Llymry made her appearance.
MRS. AP LLYMRY. What have you done to poor dear Miss Susan? she is
crying ready to break her heart.
MR. CHAINMAIL. So help me the memory of Richard Coeur-de-Lion, I
have not the most distant notion of what is the matter.
MRS. AP LLYMRY. Oh, don't tell me, sir; you must have ill-used
her. I know how it is. You have been keeping company with her, as
if you wanted to marry her; and now, all at once, you have been
insulting her. I have seen such tricks more than once, and you
ought to be ashamed of yourself.
MR. CHAINMAIL. My dear madam, you wrong me utterly. I have none
but the kindest feelings and the most honourable purposes towards
her. She has been disturbed by something she has seen in this
MRS. AP LLYMRY. Why, then, the best thing you can do is to go
away, and come again tomorrow.
MR. CHAINMAIL. Not I, indeed, madam. Out of this house I stir
not, till I have seen the young lady, and obtained a full
MRS. AP LLYMRY. I will tell Miss Susan what you say. Perhaps she
will come down.
Mr. Chainmail sat with as much patience as he could command,
running over the paper, from column to column. At length he
lighted on an announcement of the approaching marriage of Lady
Clarinda Bossnowl with Mr. Crotchet the younger. This explained
the Captain's discomposure, but the cause of Miss Susan's was still
to be sought: he could not know that it was one and the same.
Presently, the sound of the longed-for step was heard on the
stairs; the young lady reappeared, and resumed her seat: her eyes
showed that she had been weeping. The gentleman was now
exceedingly puzzled how to begin, but the young lady relieved him
by asking, with great simplicity: "What do you wish to have
MR. CHAINMAIL. I wish, if I may be permitted, to explain myself to
you. Yet could I first wish to know what it was that disturbed you
in this unlucky paper. Happy should I be if I could remove the
cause of your inquietude!
MISS SUSANNAH. The cause is already removed. I saw something that
excited painful recollections; nothing that I could now wish
otherwise than as it is.
MR. CHAINMAIL. Yet, may I ask why it is that I find one so
accomplished living in this obscurity, and passing only by the name
of Miss Susan?
MISS SUSANNAH. The world and my name are not friends. I have left
the world, and wish to remain for ever a stranger to all whom I
once knew in it.
MR. CHAINMAIL. You can have done nothing to dishonour your name.
MISS SUSANNAH. No, sir. My father has done that of which the
world disapproves, in matters of which I pretend not to judge. I
have suffered for it as I will never suffer again. My name is my
own secret: I have no other, and that is one not worth knowing.
You see what I am, and all I am. I live according to the condition
of my present fortune, and here, so living, I have found
MR. CHAINMAIL. Yet, I entreat you, tell me your name.
MISS SUSANNAH. Why, sir?
MR. CHAINMAIL. Why, but to throw my hand, my heart, my fortune, at
your feet, if -.
MISS SUSANNAH. If my name be worthy of them.
MR. CHAINMAIL. Nay, nay, not so; if your hand and heart are free.
MISS SUSANNAH. My hand and heart are free; but they must be sought
from myself, and not from my name.
She fixed her eyes on him, with a mingled expression of mistrust,
of kindness, and of fixed resolution, which the far-gone inamorato
MR. CHAINMAIL. Then from yourself alone I seek them.
MISS SUSANNAH. Reflect. You have prejudices on the score of
parentage. I have not conversed with you so often without knowing
what they are. Choose between them and me. I too have my own
prejudices on the score of personal pride.
MR. CHAINMAIL. I would choose you from all the world, were you
even the daughter of the executeur des hautes oeuvres, as the
heroine of a romantic story I once read turned out to be.
MISS SUSANNAH. I am satisfied. You have now a right to know my
history, and if you repent, I absolve you from all obligations.
She told him her history; but he was out of the reach of
repentance. "It is true," as at a subsequent period he said to the
captain, "she is the daughter of a money-changer: one who, in the
days of Richard the First, would have been plucked by the beard in
the streets: but she is, according to modern notions, a lady of
gentle blood. As to her father's running away, that is a minor
consideration: I have always understood, from Mr. Mac Quedy, who
is a great oracle in this way, that promises to pay ought not to be
kept; the essence of a safe and economical currency being an
interminable series of broken promises. There seems to be a
difference among the learned as to the way in which the promises
ought to be broken; but I am not deep enough in this casuistry to
enter into such nice distinctions."
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