Unknown.

The library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) online

. (page 51 of 75)
Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 51 of 75)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


could get them, for of course I could not ex-
pect him to send them, and he is always either



at the academy or the gymnasium : however,
to-day I caught him just as he was in a hot
debate with a gentleman who was cleaning- his
windows, as to whether the solidity of a prism
is equal to the product of its base by its alti-
tude. I confess I was pleased to catch him at
home; but unluckily the question was referred
to me, and not comprehending it, I Avas deuc-
edly glad to get off, which I did as fast as I
could, both parties calling after me ' there is
a lord for you look at my lord!' and hoot-
ing me in a manner which, however constitu-
tional, I cannot help thinking deucedly dis-
agreeable. "

At this period, what in former times was
called a footman, named Dowbiggin, made
his appearance, who entered the room, as the
Duke hoped, to remove the breakfast things ;
but it was, in fact, to ask Lady Maria to sketch
in a tree in a landscape which he ivas in the
course of painting.

" Dowbiggin," said his grace in despair,
"I wish you would take away these breakfast
things."

"Indeed!" said Dowbiggin, looking at the
Duke with the most ineffable contempt "you
do that's capital what right have you to ask
me to do any such thing? "

" Why, Mr. Dowbiggin," said the Duchess,
who was a bit of a tartar in her way" his
grace pays you, and feeds you, and clothes
you, to "

"Well, Duchess," said Dowbiggin, "and
what then? Let his grace show me his supe-
riority. 1 am ready to do anything for him
but please to recollect I asked him yesterday,
when I did remove the coffee, to tell me what
the Altaic chain is called, when, after having
united all the rivers which supply the Jenisei,
it stretches as far as the Baikal lake and what
did he answer? he made a French pun, and
said ' Je ne misjxis, Dobigyin ' now, if it can
be shown by any statute that I, who am per-
fectly competent to answer any question I pro-
pose, am first to be put off with a quibble by
way of reply, and secondly, to be required to
work for a man who does not know as much as
I do myself, merely because he is a duke, why,
I'll do it; but if not, I will resist in a consti-
tutional manner such illiberal oppression, and
such ridiculous control, even though I r.m
transported to Scotland for it. Now, Lady
Maria, go on with the tree."

"Willy," said the duke to his son, "when
you have put away your small-clothes, go and
ask Mr. Martingale if he will be kind enough
to let the horses be put to our carriage, since
the Duchess and I wish to go to mass."



THE POSIE.



263



"You need not send to Martingale," said
Bowbiggin ; " he is gone to the Society of Arts
to hear a lecture on astronomy."

" Then, Willy, go and endeavour to harness
the horses yourself," said the Duke to his son,
who instantly obeyed.

"You had better mind about those horses,
sir," said Dowbiggin, still watching the pro-
gress of his tree : ' ' the two German philosophers
and Father O'Flynn have been with them to-
day, and there appears little doubt that the
great system will spread, and that even these
animals which we have been taught to despise,
will express their sentiments before long."

"The sentiments of a coach-horse!" sighed
the Duchess.

"Thanks, Lady Maria," said .Dowbiggin;
"now I'll go to work merrily; and, Duke,
whenever you can fudge up an answer to my
question about the Altaic chain, send one of
the girls, and I'll take away the things."

Dowbiggin disappeared, and the Duke, who
was anxious to get the parlour cleared (for the
house, except two rooms, was all appropriated
to the assistants), resolved to inquire of his
priest, when he was out, what the proper
answer would be to Dowbiggin's question,
which he had tried to evade by the offensive
quibble, when Lord AVilliam Cobbett Russell
re-appeared, as white as a sheet.

" My dear father," cried his lordship, " it's
all over now. The philosophers ha% - e carried
the thing too far; the chestnut mare swears
she'll be d d if she goes out to-day."

"What," said the Duke, "has their liber-
ality gone to this do horses talk? My dear
William, you and I know that asses have
written before this; but for horses to speak!"

"Perhaps, Willy," said the Duchess, "it
is merely yea and nay, or probably only the
female horses who talk at all."

" Yes, mother, yes," said her son, " both of
them spoke; and not only that, but Nap, the
dog you were once so fond of, called after me
to say, that we had no right to keep him tied
up in that dismal yard, and that he would ap-
peal to Parliament if we did not let him out."

" My dear Duchess," said the Duke, who was
even more alarmed at the spread of intelligence
than her grace, " there is but one thing for us
to do let us pack up all we can, and if we can
get a few well-disposed post-horses, before they
get too much enlightened, to take us towards
the coast, let us be off."

What happened further, this historical frag-
ment does not explain ; but it is believed that
the family escaped with their clothes and a few
valuables, leaving their property in the posses-



sion of their assistants, who by extending,
with a liberal anxiety (natural in men who
have become learned and great by similar
means themselves), the benefits of enlighten-
ment, in turn gave way to the superior claims
of inferior animals, and were themselves com-
pelled eventually to relinquish happiness,
power, and tranquillity in favour of monkeys,
horses, jackasses, dogs, and all manner of
beasts.



THE POSIE.

[Robert Burns, born on the banks of tbe Doon, near
Ayr, 25th January, 1759 ; died in Dumfries, 2lst July,
1796. Carlyle says: "The excellence of Burns is, in-
deed, among the rarest, whether in jwetry or prose ;
but at the same time it is plain and easily recognized :
his sincei-iti/, his indisputable air of truth." " His songg
are already part of the mother tongue, not of Scotland
only but of Britain, and of the millions that in all ends
of the earth speak a British language. In hut and hall,
as the heart unfolds itself in many-coloured joy and
woe of existence, the name, the mice of that joy and
that woe is the name and voice which Burns has given
them."i]

O luve will venture in,

Where it daurna weel be seen,
O luve will venture in,

Where wisdom ance has been ;
But I will down yon river rove,

Amang the woods sae green,
And a' to pu' a posie

To my ain dear May.

The primrose I will pu',

The firstling o' the year,
And I will pu' the pink,

The emblem o' my dear;
For she's the pink o' womankind,

And blooms without a peer ;
And a' to be a posie

To my ain dear May.

I'll pu' the budding rose,

When Phoebus peeps in view,
For it's like a baumy kiss

O' her sweet bonnie mou' ;
The hyacinth 's for constancy,

Wi" its unchanging blue,
And a' to >>e a posie

To my aiu dear May.

The lily it is pure,

And the lily it is fair,
And in her lovely bosom

I'll place the lily there ;



i See Allan Cunningham's Essay,
and Lord Byron."



'Robert Burn*



264



COUSIN TOMKINS, THE TAILOR.



The daisy 's for simplicity,

And unaffected air,
And a' to be a posie

To my ain dear May.

The hawthorn I will pu',

Wi' its locks o' siller gray,
Where, like an aged man,

It stands at break o' day.
But the songster's nest within the bush

I winna tak' away,
And a' to be a posie

To my ain dear May.

The woodbine I will pu',

When the e'ening star is near,
And the diamond-draps o' dew

Shall be her ecu sae clear:
The violet 's for modesty,

Which weel she fa's to wear,
And a" to be a posie

To my ain dear May.

I'll tie the posie round

Wi' the silken band o' luve,
And I'll place it in her breast,

And I'll swear by a' above,
That to my latest draught o' life

The band shall ne'er remuve,
And this will be a posie

To my ain dear May.



HYMN OF THE HEBREW MAID.

BY SIR WALTER SCOTT. 1

When Israel, of the Lord beloved,

Out from the land of bondage came
Her father's God before her moved,

An awful guide in smoke and flame.
By day, along the astonish'd lands

The cloudy pillar glided slow;
By night, Arabia's crimson'd sands

Return'd the fiery column's glow.

There rose the choral hymn of praise,

And trump and timbrel answer'd keen ;
And Zion's daughters pour'd their lays,

With priest's and warrior's voice between.
No portents now our foes amaze,

Forsaken Israel wanders lone ;
Our fathers would not know THY ways,

And THOU hast left them to their own.



1 Sung by Rebecca in Tvanhoe. Professor Wilson
considered this hymn a perfect gem of its kind, in which
dignity, pathos, and a religious spirit, at ouce pure and
fervid, are admirably intermingled.



But present still, though now unseen !

Wheu brightly shines the prosperous day,
Be thoughts of THEE a cloudy screen,

To temper the deceitful ray.
And oh, when stoops on Judah's path

In shade and storm the frequent night,
Be THOU, long-suffering, slow to wrath,

A burning and a shining light !

Our harps we left by Babel's streams,

The tyrant's jest, the gentile's scorn;
No censer round our altar beams,

And mute are timbrel, trump, and horn.
But THOU hast said, The blood of goat,

The tlesh of rams, I will not prize ;
A contrite heart, an humble thought,

Are mine accepted sacrifica.



COUSIN TOMKINS, THE TAILOR.

BY W. H. HARRISON. 2

Edward Stanley was a gentleman of good
family and liberal education. He held an
official situation of considerable trust, and pro-
portionate emolument. Early in life he mar-
ried a lady whose personal charms, rather than
a regard to similarity of taste and congeniality
of disposition, had captivated him. He devoted
much of his time to the cultivation of belles-
lettres, and delighted in the society of men of
learning and genius, many of whom were fre-
quent guests at his table. His lady was the
daughter of humble people, who, by successful
speculations, had risen rapidly to comparative
wealth, by means of which they had given her
an education at one of the fashionable finish-
ing-schools, where, with tinsel accomplish-
ments, she acquired notions much at variance
with common sense and proper feeling, and
quite unfitted for the society in which she had
been accustomed to move. Being one of a large
family, she brought her husband a very mode-
rate fortune: but his income was ample, and she
resolved to make it subservient to her taste for
display, which Mr. Stanley, who loved her affec-
tionately, was too weakly indulgent to oppose.

They had one daughter, their only child, of
whom her father was both fond and proud.
Her mother also loved her, but she loved plea-
sure more, and consequently resigned her off-
spring to the care of menials, and committed
her education to a governess. The latter, how-
ever, was a young woman of piety and ability,
whose endeavours were applied to regulate the

5 Abridged from the Second Series of "Tales of a
Physician."



COUSIN TOMKINS, THE TAILOR.



265



heart, as well as to improve the understanding
of her pupil. Mrs. Stanley was too much en-
gaged in fashionable life to interfere with the
system of instruction adopted by the governess,
and the daughter was preserved from the taint
of her mother's example by the latter's reluct-
ance to "bring her out," because she feared a
rival claimant for that admiration which she
was still eager to attract.

Much as Mrs. Stanley was gratified by the
distinction which her splendid parties procured
for her, she was occasionally subjected to severe
mortifications, and often painfully reminded
of the humble sphere in which she and her
parents had previously moved. Among her
relations there was one who happened to be a
tailor, and who, to her horror, had the honour
of being her first cousin, and bearing the family
name. Had he kept a chandler's shop he
might have been designated a provision mer-
chant; or if a cheesemonger, he might have
been called a bacon factor; but a tailor is a
tailor all the world over, and there is no syno-
nyme in our vocabulary by which to dignify
the calling.

Her dread of being associated in any way
with this industrious member of a most useful
trade was said to have exhibited itself in the
most ridiculous manner. A vegetable, vulgarly
supposed to be symbolical of the sartorial art,
was never permitted to appear on her table,
lest its presence should prove suggestive to her
fashionable guests. Nay, it was even insinu-
ated that no other reason could be assigned for
the stopping up of a side window in the house
than the fact of its commanding a view of a
cutler's, who, by way of a sign, had placed a
colossal pair of shears above his door.

But Cousin Tomkins, the tailor, was as little
ambitious of contact with his fair and proud
relative as she could be anxious to avoid him.
He was a sturdy and independent spirited man,
who had too much good sense to be ashamed
of a calling by which he was not only gaining
a livelihood, but accumulating wealth. He was,
moreover, better informed than the generality
of his class, for he had studied other pages than
his pattern-book, and, above all, was well read
in that volume, compared with which the wis-
dom of the most subtle philosophy is foolishness
and vanity. Never, but on a single occasion,
and that an urgent one, did Tomkins intrude
himself on the presence of his fashionable cou-
sin, whose contemptuous civility gave him
little inducement to repeat the visit. Stung
by a style of treatment from which common
decency, if not his relationship, should have
protected him, he was hurrying back through



the lacquey-lined hall when his progress was
arrested by a fair blue-eyed girl, of about six
years old, who, looking up in his face with an
innocent smile, accosted him by the appellation
of cousin, and, thrusting a little bunch of
violets into his hand, dismissed him at the door
with a laughing "good-bye." It was little
Clara Stanley, whom some of the servants,
probably in sport, had informed of the visitor's
relationship; and whose mother took occasion,
on being told of the circumstance, severely to
reprehend for the familiarity of which she had
been guilty. Children, however, are sorry
casuists, and Mrs. Stanley's eloquence utterly
failed in convincing Clara that there was less
impropriety in romping with her cousin the
guardsman than in shaking hands with cousin
Tomkins, the tailor. Tomkins was much af-
fected by the child's behaviour, and on reach-
ing home he placed the faded violets between
the leaves of his Bible, that he might be daily
reminded of the incident, and learn to forgive
the unkindness of the parent for the sake of
the innocence of the child.

But time passed on : the girl began to grow
into the woman, and the work of education
drew to a close. Her preceptress, in resigning
her charge, had the consolation of feeling that,
though the temptations to which her pupil was
about to be exposed were many and strong, she
was protected against their power by her hum-
ble dependence upon God. Hertaste, moreover,
had not been corrupted to relish the dissipa-
tions of fashionable life. An authority, to
which her piety as well as filial affection taught
her to yield obedience, forced her occasionally
into the ball-room; but as love of display had no
place in her bosom, the scene had little charms
for her, and she had discrimination enough
to perceive that it was not, even to those who
most frequented and most lauded it, the Elysium
which they would have it be accounted.

Having no taste for the gaieties of "society,"
her harp, her pencil, and her books were the
sources on which she drew for recreation. Of
books, whilst loving her Bible as the best, she was
not oneof those who cannot distinguish between
a trashy novel and the pages illumined by the
genius of Mackenzie, of Scott, and of Irving.

Gifted as she was, too, in personal attractions,
enhanced by a grace of manner which Nature
needs not the aid of the dancing-master to
confer, it will not be matter of surprise that
she had many admirers; the wiser portion of
whom were as much enchanted by the accom-
plishments and virtues of her mind as by the
beauty of her person. Among them was a
gentleman who was a frequent guest at the



266



COUSIN TOMKINS, THE TAILOR.



table of her father. The younger son of a re-
spectable family, he had been educated for one
of the learned professions, and by his amiable
manners and brilliant talents had rendered
himself a general favourite. Upon his enthu-
siastic and poetical temperament the beauty
and virtues of Clara were calculated to make a
powerful impression, which every hour passed
in her company tended to deepen.

Ardent, however, as were his feelings, they
were under the control of a well-regulated
mind. He was awakened from the Elysian
dream which Clara had inspired by the reflec-
tion that, situated as he was, straitened in cir-
cumstances, and dependent entirely on his
success in his profession, the object of his pas-
sion could not honourably be pursued. With
a self-denial rarely evinced upon similar oc-
casions, he withdrew himself from the magic
circle ere its enchantment became too strong
for him, and suddenly, at the hazard of much
misinterpretation, ceased to be a guest at Mr.
Stanley's.

The subject of this sketch was not fitted for
the heroine of a romance, and the early years
of her life passed away unmarked by any oc-
currence worthy of note. At the age of eighteen,
however, she was deprived of both her parents,
who died within a few months of each other.
Mr. Stanley had never been a provident man,
and his affairs were found at his decease in such
a state that it required the sacrifice of all he
had left, even to the furniture of his house, to
satisfy the demands of his creditors.

The morning appointed for the sale arrived,
and Clara retired to an apartment remote from
the bustle of preparation. Sorrow for the loss
of an affectionate parent was weighing heavily
upon her heart, nor was the reflection that she
must, in a few hours, quit the home of her
childhood, to wander forth she knew not
whither, calculated to lighten her grief. Of
the many who were wont, with smiling faces
and flattering tongues, to flock to the splendid
entertainments which her mother delighted to
give, there was not one to offer a word of com-
fort. Her prospect was, indeed, a desolate one:
there appeared not a blossom to gladden her
path, nor a tree to shelter her from the coming
storm. But her view was not confined to earth;
she turned upwards, with the eye of faith, to
that beneficent God whom she had served in
her prosperity, and who she felt would not
desert her in the day of her trouble.

In the meantime, the preliminary arrange-
ments for the sale were in progress : the rooms
were thronged with company, of which no in-
considerable portion consisted of the acquaint-



ances they were once deemed friends of Mr.
Stanley. Some were attracted by the amiable
desire of witnessing the wreck of a prosperity
they had envied; others by the hope of securing
at a cheap rate some article of furniture, bijou-
terie, or art, which they had admired in the
lifetime of its late proprietor.

A few of the relatives of Mr. Stanley were
gathered in a circle in one of the rooms, who,
after clubbing their pity for the forlorn and
destitute situation of his daughter, proceeded
to speculate upon the manner in which she
could dispose of herself. One recommended
that she should enter some family as governess;
another suggested the more eligible situation
of companion to an elderly lady; while a third,
who had heard of Clara having been once de-
tected in making up some article of her own
dress, alluded to her qualifications as an at-
tendant on some young ladies, in the enviable
capacity of half milliner and half maid. During
this discussion the attention of the group was
attracted by the entrance of an elderly per-
sonage, in exceedingly plain but respectable
attire. He contrived to insinuate himself into
the midst of the conclave, and was an attentive
listener to their conversation. Having heard
the various propositions for the future provision
of the orphan, he somewhat abruptly exclaimed,
"But while the grass grows, the steed starves:
surely there must be some of poor Mr. Stanley's
friends who are both able and willing to afford
his daughter the protection of their roof, until
she can be in some measure provided for."

His remark was evidently not much to the
taste of his auditors, who, however, expressed
the great pleasure they would have had in
offering her an asylum; but, unfortunately, not
one of them was at that particular juncture in
a position to do so: the residence of one was
under repair; the spare bed-room of another
was occupied by a friend from the country;
while a third had the scarlet fever in the house,
and would never forgive himself if the "dear
girl" should catch the disease. A smile of
peculiar significance played on the lip of the
elderly stranger as he listened to their various
evasions, and perceiving that they eyed him
with a look of inquiry, he drew from his pocket
a silver snuff-box of extraordinary dimensions,
and tapping the side of it for some seconds
before he opened it, afforded them an oppor-
tunity of observing the device upon the lid,
representing a cabbage supported by a pair of
extended shears. 1



1 This is no fiction; the author has frequently seen
the snuff-box ill the possession of its respectable pro-
prietor.



COUSIN TOMKINS, THE TAILOR.



267



The reader will have no difficulty in guessing
that the stranger was our friend Tomkins, the
tailor, who, among other peculiarities, had
adopted this method of showing that he was
not ashamed of his calling. Some years had
passed over his head since the affair of the
nosegay, and they had been marked by pro-
gressive prosperity, the reward of honest and
unflagging industry. Mr. Tomkins, with an
obsequious bow to the group, quitted the room;
and having inquired of a servant if Miss Stan-
ley was in the house, sent his respects, and
requested permission to wait upon her. His
request was granted, and he was at once intro-
duced to the apartment to which Clara had
retreated. She was habited in deep mourning;
yet notwithstanding the lapse of time, and the
change which sorrow produces upon the coun-
tenance, he recognized in the faint smile with
which she requested him to be seated, the ex-
pression that had so won upon him on the only
occasion on which he had seen her when a
child.

Now Mr. Tomkins, although not a man of
polished deportment, possessed delicacy of feel-
ing, which is not the necessary concomitant of
refinement of manners. He came to condole
with the fair orphan on her bereavement, and
to offer his assistance; but he was embarrassed
in his endeavours to do so without wounding
her feelings. He mentioned that he had heard
the sale had been somewhat unnecessarily pre-
cipitated, and much he feared to her temporary
inconvenience ; that supposing, therefore, she
might not yet have fixed upon a residence, he
had taken the liberty of calling to say that he
had rooms in his house which were entirely at
her service, until she could provide herself with
more suitable apartments. He concluded by
saying that he trusted his gray hairs, his cha-
racter, and, he might add, his relationship,
were sufficient warrants for the propriety of his
invitation.

With the warmth which belonged to her
character, Clara expressed her gratitude for
the generous offer, and the delicacy with which
it was made; and, in frankly accepting it, she
confessed that she did not know where else to
find a shelter for the coming night.

While she was packing the few things which
her father's creditors had permitted her to re-
tain, Mr. Tomkins proceeded to procure a
coach, to which, after he had whispered a few
words in the ear of the auctioneer, he conducted
Clara, and they drove off. Having probably
anticipated that their journey would terminate
in some obscure and gloomy part of the metro-
polis, she was agreeably surprised on alighting



at being introduced to a spacious house in the
Adelphi, to which Mr. Tomkins welcomed her
with unaffected cordiality. She was shown to
her chamber by an elderly female, who acted
in the joint capacity of housekeeper and cook,
and who, having intimated to her that she
would find her breakfast prepared in the ad-
joining apartment on the following morning,
withdrew, leaving Clara to reflect on the occur-
rences of the last few hours, and to return
thanks to the Almighty Being who had thus
unexpectedly raised her up a friend in her



Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 51 of 75)