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

. (page 62 of 75)
Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 62 of 75)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

to be a kind of puppyism in pigs that they
wear tails. He defines a great-coat to be a
modern Spemer, in folio, with tailpieces. He
calls Hercules a man-midwife, in a small way
of business, because he had but twelve labours.
He can tell you why Horace ran away from
the battle of Philippi: it was to convince the
Romans that he was not a lame poet. He de-
scribes critics to be a sort of doorkeepers to the
temple of Fame; and says it is their business
to see that no persons slip in with holes in
their stockings, or paste buckles for diamond
ones not that they always perform this duty

He is a polite man, though a wit which is
not what wits usually are; they would rather
lose a life than a joke. I have heard him ex-
press his detestation of those wits who sport
with venomed weapons, and wish them the
fate of Laertes, who, in his encounter with
Hamlet, had his weapon changed, and was
himself wounded with the poisoned foil designed
for his antagonist. I mean by saying he is a
polite man that he is naturally, not artifici-
ally polite ; for the one is but a handsome,
frank looking mask, under which you conceal
the contempt felt for the person you seem most
diligent to please; it is a gilt-edged envelope
to a blank valentine ; a shell without a nut ; a
courtezan in a fair Quaker's chaste satinity and
emooth sleekness; the arch devil in a domino:
the other is, as he describes it, taking the hat
and cloak of your heart off, and standing un-
covered and unconcealed in the presence of
worth, beauty, or any other amiable quality.
Thus he unites humour with seriousness, and
seriousness with humour.

In short, he is a humane man; and human-
ity is the only true politeness. I have seen
him ridicule that politeness which contents
itself with bowing and bending the back very
humorously. In walking through his garden,

a tree or tall flower, touched by the passing
wind, bowed its head towards him: his hat
was immediately off, and the bow returned
with an old-school ceremoniousness and eti-
quette that would perhaps have cured Lord
Chesterfield, that fine polisher of exteriors, of
some of his hollow notions of manners. In
this spirit I saw him bow very profoundly to
the giants as he passed under St. Dunstan's
church. He had asked his friend what was
the hour; but before he could reply the giants
had informed him; " Thank you, gentlemen,"
said he, bowing to them with a graceful

At dinner there is but one glass on the table
his lady apologizes for her seeming negligence:
" Time, my dear, hath no more than one
glass; and yet he contrives to see all his guests
under the table kings, lord-mayors, and pot-

If he lends you a book, for the humour of
the thing he will request you, as you love a
clean conscience, to make no thumb-and-buttcr
references in the margin; and will, moreover,
ask you whether you have studied that modern
"art of book-keeping," which has superseded
the " Italian method," namely, of never re-
turning the books you borrow?

His wit is what he describes the true wit to
be ; it is brilliant and playful as a fencing foil;
it is as pointed too, and yet it hurts not; it is
as quick at a parry, and as harmless at a
thrust. But it were a vanity in me to attempt
to portray my humorous friend. His likeness
cannot be taken; you might as well hope to
paint the cameleon of yesterday by thecameleon
of to-day; or ask it as a particular favour of
a flash of lightning to sit for half an hour for
a whole-length portrait ; or Porteus to stand
while you chiselled out a personification of
Immutability. I cannot reflect back, by my
dim mirror, the "flashings and outbreaking*
of his fiery mind," when he is in what he
terms "excellent fooling" (but it is, to my
thinking, true wisdom) ; sparkle follows sparkle,
as spark followed spark from the well bc-
thumped anvil of patten-footed Vulcan.

This is the humorous, and therefore happy
man. Dost envy him, thou with the rugged
brow, and pale, dejected cheek? When for-
tune frowns at thee, do thou laugh at her? it
is like laughing at the threatenings of a bully;
it makes her think less of her power over
thee. Wonldst thou be such a man, single-
hearted Selfishness, who hast no sympathy
with the suffering, no smile with the happy?
Feel less for thyself and more for others, and
the happiness of others shall make thee happy.




[William Tennant, bom in Anstruther, Fife, 1784;
died 15th October, 1848. In early childhood he lost
the use of his feet, and he was compelled to use crutches
all his life. This misfortune left him little choice of a
profession, and his brightest prospect was to become the
teacher of a country school. He possessed a natural
aptitude for the acquirement of languages, and almost
unaided made himself master of the classic, the prin-
cipal modern and eastern tongues. In 1835 he was
appointed professor of oriental languages in the Univer-
sity of St. Andrews. He was the author of several
valuable educational works, and of a number of poems
and dramas. He is best known, however, by his Antttr
Fair, which first appeared in 1812. It is a humorous
poem, descriptive of Scottish manners, with the Fair and
" Maggie Lander" as the leading theme. The events are
supposed to take place in the time of James V., although
anachronisms are avowedly introduced to heighten the
fun by their incongruity. ]

Say Muse, who first, who last, on foot or steed
Came candidates for MAGGIE to her town?

St Andrews' sprightly students first proceed.
Clad in their foppery of sleeveless gown ;

Forth whistling from Salvador's gate they speed.
Full many a mettlesome and fiery lown,

Forgetting Horace for a while and Tully,

And mad t' embag their limbs and leap it beautifully.

For ev'n in Learning's cobweb'd halls had rung
The loud report of MAGGIE LADDER'S fame,

And Pedantry's Greek-conning clumsy tongue,
In songs had wagg'd, in honour of her name :

Up from their mouldy books and tasks had sprung
Bigent and Magistrand to try the game ;

Prelections ceas'd ; old Alma Mater slept,

And o'er his silent rooms the ghost of Wardluw wept.

So down in troops the red-clad students come
As kittens blithe, a joke-exchanging crew,

And in their heads bear learned Greece and Rome,
And haply Cyprus in their bodies too;

Some on their journey pipe and play; and some
Talk long of MAG t how fair she was to view,

And as they talk (ay me ! so much the sadder)

Backwards they scale the steps of honest Plato's ladder. I

Next from the well air' d ancient town of Crail,
Go out her craftsmen with tumultuous din,

Her wind-Wench' d fishers, sturdy-limb'd and hale,
Her in kneed taylors, garrulous and thin ;

And some are flush'd with horns of pithy ale,
And some are fierce with drams of smuggled gin,

While, to augment his drowth, each to his jaws

A good Grail's capon* holds, at which he rugs and

1 The student wishing to understand this ladder may
consult Plato. Cunna. torn. 3, page 211 of Serraui's

2 A Grail's capon is a dried haddock.

And from Kingsbarns and hamlet 8 c!ep'd of boar*,
And farms around (their names too long to add)

Sally the villagers and hinds in scores,
Tenant, and laird, and hedger, hodden-clad.

Bolted are all the East-nook houses' doors ;

Ev'n toothless wives pass westward, tott'ring glad,

Propping their trem'lous limbs on oaken stay.

And in their red plaids dress'd as if 'twere Sabbath day.

And bare foot lasses, on whose ruddy face
Uufurl'd is health's rejoicing banner seen,

Trick'd in their Sunday mutches edg'd with lace,
Tippets of white, and frocks of red and green,

Come tripping o'er the roads with jocund pace,
Gay as May-morning, tidy, gim, and clean;

Whilst joggling at each wench's side, her joe

Cracks many a rustic joke, his pow'r of wit to show.

Then justling forward on the western road,
Approach the fo'.k of wind-swept Pitteuweem,

So num'rous that the highways, long and broad,
One waving field of gowns and coat-tails seem.

The fat man puffing goes, oppress'd with load
Of cumb'rous flesh and corpulence extreme :

The lean man bounds along, and, with his toes.

Smites on the fat mail's heels that slow before him goes.

St. Monance, Elie, and adjacent farms.

Turn their mechanics, fishers, farmers, out ;
Sun burnt and shoeless school-boys rush in swarms,

With childish trick, and revelry and shout:
Mothers bear little children in their arms,

Attended by their giggling daughters stout ;
Clowns, cobblers, cotters, tanners, weavers, beaux,
Hurry and hop along in clusters and in rows.

And every husbandman, round Largo-law,
Hath scrap'd his huge-wheel'd dung-cart fair and clean,

Wherein, on sacks stuff d full of oaten straw,
Sits the goodwife, Tarn, Katey, Jock, and Jean;

In flow'rs and ribbons drest the horses draw
Stoutly their creaking, cumbersome machine.

As, on his cart head, sits the goodman proud,

And cheerily cracks his whip and whistles cleat and

Then from her coal-pits Dysart vomits forth

Her subterranean men of colour dun,
Poor human mould-warps, doom'd to scrape in earth,

Cimmerian people, Grangers to the sun ;
Gloomy as soot, with faces grim and swarth,

They march, most sourly leering every one,
Yet very keen, at Anster loan to share
The merriments and sports to be accomplish'd there.

Nor did Path-head detain her wrangling race
Of weavers, toiling at their looms for bread ;

For now their slippery shuttles rest a space
From flying through their labyrinths of thread ;

Their treadle shaking feet now scour apace
Thro' Gallow town with levity of tread ;

s Boar hills.



So on they pass, with sack in hand, fnll bent
To try their sinews' strength in dire experiment.

And long Kirkcaldy from each dirty street
Her ii u in' rons population eastward throws,

Her roguish boys with bare unstocking'd feet,
Her rich ship owners, gen'rous and jocose.

Her prosp'rous merchants, sober and discreet,
Her coxcombs pantaloon'd, and powder 'd beaux,

Her pretty lasses tripping on their great toes

With skins as white as milk or any boil'd jioiatoes.

And from Kinghorn jump hastily along

Her ferrymen and poor inhabitants :
Ami the upland l hamlet, where, as told in song.

Tani Lutar play'd of yore his lively rants,
Is left dispeopl'd of her brose-fed throng,

For eastward scud they now as thick as ants ;
Dunftjrruline, too. so fam'd fur checks and ticks.
Sends out her loom bred men with bags and walking-

And market-maids, and apron'd wives, that bring
Their ginger-bread in baske;s to the FAIR,

And cadgers with their creels, that hang by string
From their lean hoise-ribs, rubbing off the hair,

And crook-legg'd cripples that ou crutches swing
Their shabby persons with a noble air,

And fi.ldlers, with their fiddles in their cases,

And packmen, with their packs of ribbons, gauze, and

And from Kinross, whose dusty streets, unpav'd,
Are whirl'd through heav'n on summer's windy day,

Whose plats of cabbage bearing ground are lav'd
By Leven's waves, that clear as crystal play,

Jo% tier brisk burghers, spruce and cleanly shav'd,
Her sullen cutlers and her weavers gay,

Her plough boys in their botch'd and clumsy jackets,

Her clowns, with cobbled shoon stuck full of iron tackete.

Next ride on sleek-man'd horses, bay or brown,
Smacking their whips and spurring bloodily,

The writers of industrious Cupar town,
Good social mortals, skill'd the pen to ply ;

Lo ! how their garments, as they gallop down,
Waving behind them, in the breezes fly;

As upward spurn'd to heav'n's blue bending roof,

Dash'd is the dusty road from every bounding hoof.


To-morrow you will live, you always cry;
In what far country does this morrow lie,
That 'tis BJ mighty long ere it arrive?
Beyond the Indies does this morrow live?
'Tis so far fetch'd, this morrow, that I fear
Twill be both very old and very dear.
To-morrow I will live, the fool does say;
To-day itself s too late, the wise lived yesterday.
MARTIAL trandnted. by COWI.EY.


[Mrs. Anna Maria Hall, born in Wexfnrd. IS'Vi.
She married, in 1824, Mr. 8. C. Hall, the origina.or
and editor of the A rt Journal and many other important
works. In conjunction with her husband, she has com-
posed and edited about 300 volumes since 1828 Amongst
her miscellaneous writings she has produced many
books for children, and temperance tales having power-
fully advocated the temperance movement through-
out her literary life. Her chief works are : Sketches of-
Irish Cliaracter; Chronicles of a Schoolroom ; The Buccan-
eer: The Outlaw, a tale of the reign of James II. ;
Uncle Hot-ace; Lights and Shadows oj Iritli Character;
The Groves of Blarney; Marian, or a Young Maid's
Fortunes translated into German and Dutch ; S uriet
<f the I nth Peasantry; The White Boy; A Woman's
Story; Can W i on g be Right ? The Fight of Faith ; Tales
of Woman's Trials, &c. &c. From the latter work we
are permitted to quote the following tale. The late Lord
Lytton said lie considered "<?/ace HuntUy one of the
best short stories ever written." A dramatic version
of the story was produced at the Adelphi Theatre wiih
greatsuccess, Mrs. Yatesplayingtheheroine. TheDuiiii/t
Uirivei-fity Magazine said of the Tales nf Woman's Trials,
"There is about them a still and a solemn and holy
beauty that is worthy of the sacred subject which they
illustrate." This work is published by Warne & Co ]

[Grace was the only child of Abel Darley the
schoolmaster of Craythorpe. Mrs. Darley had
died a few weeks after the birth of her daughter;
but Grace, under her father's care, had grown
up a pure-minded and generous-hearted girl.
She married Joseph Huntley, the handsomest
youth in the village; but he was also one of
the idlest. Soon Grace was compelled to own
that the evil reports about Joseph, to which
she had long refused credence, were not un-
founded. Her husband was self-indulgent, and
too fond of the ale-house. In the course of a
few years she was subjected to many painful
trials and to much disgrace. Still she strove
hard to do herdutyasawifeand mother: misery
schooled her still more in the ways of virtue.]

In less than eight years after their marriage,
her little family were entirely dependent upon
her for support. The workshop, filled with
implements and materials for labour, had passed
into other hands: and the pretty cottage, with
its little flower-garden, was tenanted by a
more industrious master. For months together
Joseph used to absent himself from home,
under the pretext of seeking employment. So
ruined was his reputation, that no one in his
own neighbourhood would intrust him with
work: and he was but too willing to follow the
wandering bent of his disordered mind. How
he was really occupied during these excursions
was a profound scret even to his wife. Some-



vimes he returned well dressed, and with plenty
of money, which he would lavish foolishly,
in sudden fits of affection, upon his children.
On other occasions he appeared with hardly
sufficient clothes to cover him poor, and suf-
ering bodily and mental misery. Then, when
from her earnings he was provided and fed, he
would again go forth, and neither be seen nor
heard of for many months.

When chid by her neighbours for the kind-
ness with which she treated this reckless spend-
thrift, she would reply calmly, "He is my
husband the father of my children; and, as
such, can I see him want?"

From the very day she had parted with her
first portion of dress to pay the baker's bill,
she had toiled unceasingly with her own hands
for the benefit of her family. Mrs. Craddock
could no longer say that she was unskilled in
woman's craft; to the astonishment of all, in
a little time she was the most exquisite needle-
woman in the neighbourhood. Nothing came
amiss in the way of labour. Long before day-
ligiit she was busied with her housewifery
the earliest smoke of the village was from the
chimney of her neat though plain and scantily- j
furnished cottage; and so punctual was she in
her engagements, that " As true as Grace I
Huntley" became a proverb in Craythorpe. j
Humble yet exalted distinction '. one that all
desire so few deserve! . . .

One evening, after a sad interview with her
father, Grace returned to her own cottage.
Ere she had crossed the threshold, a voice,
whose tones could not be mistaken, thrilled i
to her heart. It was that of her husband!
He was standing before the fire, holding his
hands over the flame; his figure seemed more
muscular than ever, but its fine proportions
were lost in the appearance of increased and
(if the term may be used) coarse strength.
His hair hung loosely over his brows, so as to
convey the idea of habitual carelessness; and
his tattered garments bespoke the extreme of
poverty. He turned slowly round, as the ex-
clamation of "Mother, dear mother!" burst
from the lips of Josephine, who had been gaz-
ing from a corner at her father, more than
half afraid to approach him.

One look and one only was enough to
stifle all reproach, and stir up the affection of
Grace's heart. Want was palpably stamped
upon his countenance; and, as her eye glanced
rapidly over his figure, she shuddered at the
alteration which a few months had accom-
plished. For some moments neither spoke;
at last he advanced and held out his hand to
her: as he walked she perceived that his feet


were shoeless and bleeding. All his faults,
his cruelties, were forgotten she only remem-
bered that he suffered, and was her husband;
and she fell upon his bosom and wept bitterly.

Whatever were the sins of Joseph Huntley,
either before or after this period of his life, it
is but justice to him to believe that the tears
he that night mingled with his wife's were
those of a contrite heart. When she asked
him how and where he had spent his time
during the past months, he entreated her to
forbear such questions for a little while, and
that then he would satisfy her: but the period
never came; and the dislike he evinced to afford
her any information on the subject, together
with his speedy relapse into intemperate and
dissolute habits, checked her inquiries, and
renewed her fears for the future well-doing of
her eldest son.

In the vicinity of gentlemen's seats there:
are always a proportionate number of poachers;
and it requires more than magisterial vigilance-
to restrain their devastations. Although it.
was impossible to fix a stigma of this kind on.
any particular person in the village of Cray-
thorpe, there were two men, basket-makers by
trade, who were strongly suspected of such
practices. John and Sandy Smith lived to-
gether in a wretched hut on the skirts of Cray-
thorpe Common. No one knew whence they
came. Lonely and reserved in their habits,
they seldom mingled with the villagers. Little
children loved not their approach; and the
large Newfoundland dog at the "Swinging
Hen" would never form acquaintance with
them or their mongrel lurcher: the latter, to.
confess the truth, was as reserved as his masters,
and made but few friendly overtures towards
the nobler animal. The only thing connected,
with the strangers that made a respectable ap-
pearance was a fleet and firm-footed. black pony,
which they maintained and treated. with great
care, for the ostensible purpose of hawking
their brooms through the country; but people
did talk; and, indeed, it was difficult to account
for various petty peculations that had oc-
curred; or how the landlord of the same-
"Swinging Hen"obtained hisexquisite French
brandy. Grace learned with regret that an
acquaintance had commenced, and quickly
ripened into intimacy, between her husband
and these men. Joseph was no sooner clothed
and reinstated in his humble cottage, than his
bad habits returned and his evil propensities
grew stronger and stronger.

Yet the ill temper so constantly manifested
towards his wife and younger children waa
never extended to his eldest boy, who, happy



in the removal of all restraint, and heedless of
the misery his conduct inflicted on his aged
grandfather, flung aside his books, and, careless
of his mother's injunctions, appealed to a higher
power when he was reproved for his frequently
repeated faults. He galloped on the Smiths'
pony, and made friends with their dog Covey:
began by shooting sparrows and titmice with j
bow and arrows, and ended by bringing home !
a hare as a present to his mother, which she I
resolutely refused to dress, notwithstanding
the entreaties of the son and the commands of
his father.

' ' Did you see or take any silver away from
hence ? " inquired Grace, who had been anxiously
occupied in looking over her small chest of

"How could we get at the drawer, mother?"
replied Abel quickly, but reddening at the
same time.

"Oh, Abel!" exclaimed Josephine.

"If you have taken the money, tell the
truth," enjoined his mother, in her clear, quiet

Abel made a sign of silence to his little sister.
"Why should I take it?" he said sullenly at

"Abel, Abel ! " screamed Josephine, attempt-
ing to put her hand on his mouth at the same
time, "God will hate you if you lie! I saw
you take the money all mother's white shil-
lings: but I thought she bid you do so."

Grace turned slowly round from the table;
her face was of an unearthly paleness ; no word,
.no sound passed from between her parted lips:
but she stood, like the cold fixed statue of
Despair, gazing upon her children. Josephine
rose, and climbing on the table, endeavoured
to win her mother's attention. Gerald, the
sickly brother, getting up from his chair,
clasped and kissed her hand. With Abel, there
was a struggle not of long duration, but
nevertheless powerful the struggle of bad
habit with good principle; the latter conquered,
and he fell at his mother's feet.

"Forgive me forgive me! God knows I
am sorry. It was not for myself I took it
.father told me "

"Hush!" interrupted Grace, "do not say
.tJiat before these" and she pointed to the
children; adding, with great presence of mind,
"It was your father's money, if it was mine,
Abel; but you were wrong in not telling me of
it. There, Josephine and Gerald, go into the
'lane, if you will; I wish to speak to your

With almost inconceivable agony, this ex-

cellent woman learned that her son was far
gone in falsehood. His heart was opened by
the sight of his mother's distress; and it takes
time to make a practised deceiver. With the
earnestness of truth, he poured forth the wicked
knowledge he had acquired; and Grace shud-
dered, while she prayed that the Almighty
would watch over her son in this sore and
dangerous extremity.

And now came one of her bitterest trials.
She had guarded Abel from the effect of his
father's sin, as an angel watches over the des-
tinies of a beloved object, unceasingly, but
unseen. She had never alluded to her husband's
faults, nor even to his unkindncss, before her
children; yet now the time had arrived when
she must rend the veil she must expose his
shame: and to whom? to his own son! Now
it became her duty her painful but imperative
duty to caution Abel openly against his own
father against his influences and habits; and
to show the child that the parent was guiding
him in the way that leadeth to destruction.

If anything like justice has been done to
the development of Grace Huntley's character,
this sacrifice will be appreciated. How many
a deed of unostentatious but devoted virtue is
performed beneath a peasant's roof amid the
lanes and alleys of humble life, unknown to,
or unheeded by, the world !

Huntley soon discovered that his wife had
been influencing their child's conduct; indeed,
the sacred law of truth formed so completely
the basis of her words and actions that she did
not attempt for a moment to conceal it.

" Then you mean to set yourself in opposition
to me?" he said, all evil passions gathering at
his heart and storming on his brow.

"Not to you, but to your sins, Joseph," was
her meek but firm reply: whereupon he swore
a bitter oath, that he would bring up his own
child in the way which best suited him, and
dared her interference.

"As sure as you are a living woman," he
continued with that concentrated rage which
is a thousand times more dangerous than im-
petuous fury "as sure as you are a living
woman, you shall repent of this! I see the
way to punish your wilfulness: if you oppose
me in the management of my children, one by

Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 62 of 75)