Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine — Volume 53, No. 329, March, 1843 online

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"Dear me!" cried Mrs Jehu, "that is so exactly my opinion!"

"Den dere is noting more to be said about dat," continued Stanislaus,
interrupting her; "and I hope you vill not ask dese deep questions, my
dear lady, vich are not at all proper to be answered, and vich put me
into de low spirits. Shall ve sing a hymn?"

"By all means," exclaimed the hostess, who immediately made preparations
for the ceremony. Hymn-books were introduced, and the servant-maid
ordered up, and then a quartet was performed by Mr Levisohn, Mrs
Tomkins, her husband, and Betsy. The subject of the song was the
courtship of Isaac. Two verses only have remained in my memory, and the
manner in which they were given out by the fervent Stanislaus will never
be forgotten. They ran thus: -

"Ven Abraham's servant to procure
A vife for Isaac vent,
He met Rebekah, tould his vish,
Her parents gave conshent.

'Shtay,' Satan, my old master, cries,
'Or force shall thee detain.'
'Hinder me not, I vill be gone,
I vish to break my chain.'"

This being concluded, Mr Tomkins asked Mr Levisohn what he had to say in
the business line, to which Mr Levisohn replied, "Someting very goot,
but should he not vait until after soppare?" whereupon Mr Tomkins gave
his lady a significant leer, and the latter retired, evidently to
prepare the much desired repast. Then did little Jehu turn
confidentially to Stanislaus, and ask him when he meant to deliver that
ere _conac_ that he had promised him so long ago.

"Ven Providence, my tear dikkon, paremits - I expect a case of goots at
de cushtom-house every day; but my friend vot examins de marchandis, and
vot saves me de duties ven I makes it all right mit him, is vary ill, I
am sorry for to say, and ve most vait, mit Christian patience, my dear
sare, till he get well. You see dat?"

"Oh, yes; that's clear enough. Well, Stanny, I only hope that fellow
won't die. I don't think you'd find it so easy to make it _all right_
with any other chap; that's all!"

"I hope he vill not die. Ve mosht pray dat he live, my dear dikkon. I
tink it vill be vell if der goot Mr Clayton pray mit der church for him.
You shall speak for him."

"Well, what have you done about the _Eau de Cologne_?" continued Jehu
Tomkins. "Have you nailed the fellow?"

"It vos specially about dis matter dat I vish to see you, my dear sare.
I persvade der man to sell ten cases. He be very nearly vot you call in
der mess. He valk into de Gazette next week. He shtarve now. I pity him.
De ten cases cost him ten pounds. I give fifty shilling - two pound ten.
He buy meat for de childs, and is tankful. I take ten shillings for my
trouble. Der Christian satisfied mit vary little."

"Any good bills in the market, Stanny?"

Stanislaus Levisohn winked.

"Ho - you don't say so," said the deacon. "Have you got 'em with you?"

"After soppare, my dear sare," answered Stanislaus, who looked at me,
and winked again significantly at Jehu.

Mrs Tomkins returned, accompanied by the vocal Betsy. The cloth was
spread, and real silver forks, and fine cut tumblers, and blue plates
with scripture patterns, speedily appeared. Then came a dish of fried
sausages and parsley - then baked potatoes - then lamb chops. Then we all
sat round the table, and then, against all order and propriety, Mrs Jehu
grossly and publicly insulted her husband at his own board, by calling
upon the enlightened foreigner to ask a blessing upon the meal.

The company sat down; but scarcely were we seated before Stanislaus

"I tank you, my tear goot Mrs Tomkins for dat shop mit der brown, ven it
comes to my turn to be sarved. It look just der ting."

Mrs Jehu served her guest immediately.

"I vill take a sossage, tear lady, also, if you please."

"And a baked potato?"

"And a baked potato? Yase."

He was served.

"I beg your pardon, Christian lady, have you got, perhaps, der littel
pickel-chesnut and der crimson cabbage?"

"Mr Tomkins, go down-stairs and get the pickles," said the mistress of
the house, and Tomkins vanished like a mouse on tiptoe.

Before he could return, Stanislaus had eaten more than half his chop,
and discovered that, after all, "it was _not_ just the ting." Mrs Jehu
entreated him to try another. He declined at first; but at length
suffered himself to be persuaded. Four chops had graced the dish
originally; the remaining two were divided equally between the lady and
myself. I begged that my share might be left for the worthy host, but
receiving a recommendation from his wife "not to mind _him_," I said no
more, but kept Mr Stanislaus Levisohn in countenance.

"I hope you'll find it to your liking, Mr Stukely," said our hostess.

"Mishter vat?" exclaimed the foreigner, looking quickly up. "I tink
I" - -

"What is the matter, my dear sir?" enquired the lady of the house.

"Noting, my tear friend, I tought der young gentleman vos a poor
unconverted sinner dat I met a long time ago. Dat is all. Ve talk of
someting else."

Has the reader forgotten the dark-visaged individual, who at the
examination of my lamented father before the Commissioners of Bankruptcy
made his appearance in company with Mr Levy and the ready Ikey? Him I
mean of the vivid imagination, who swore to facts which were no facts at
all, and whom an unpoetic jury sentenced to vile imprisonment for wilful
perjury? _There he sat_, transformed into a Pole, bearded and whiskered,
and the hair of his head close clipped, but in every other regard the
same as when the constable invited him to forsake a too prosaic and
ungrateful world: and had Mr Levisohn been wise and guarded, the
discovery would never have been made by me; for we had met but once
before, then only for a short half hour, and under agitating
circumstances. But my curiosity and attention once roused by his
exclamation, it was impossible to mistake my man. I fixed my eye upon
him, and the harder he pulled at his chop, and the more he attempted to
evade my gaze, the more satisfied was I that a villain and an impostor
was seated amongst us. Thinking, absurdly enough, to do my host and
hostess a lasting service, I determined without delay to unmask the
pretended saint, and to secure his victims from the designs he purposed.

"Mr Levisohn," I said immediately, "you have told the truth - we have met

"Nevare, my tear friend, you mistake; nevare in my life, upon my vurd."

"Mrs Tomkins," I continued, rising, "I should not be worthy of your
hospitality if I did not at once make known to you the character of that
man. He is a convicted criminal. I have myself known him to be guilty of
the grossest practices." Mr Levisohn dropped his chop, turned his greasy
face up, and then looked round the room, and endeavoured to appear
unconcerned, innocent, and amazed all at once. At this moment Jehu
entered the room with the pickles, and the face of the deaconess grew
fearfully stern.

"Were you ever in the Court of Bankruptcy, Mr Levisohn?" I continued.

"I have never been out of London, my good sare. You labour under de
mistake. - I excuse you. Ah!" he cried our suddenly, as if a new idea had
struck him very hard; "I see now vot it is. I explain. You take me for
somebody else."

"I do not, sir. I accuse you publicly of having committed perjury of the
most shameless kind, and I can prove you guilty of the charge. Do you
know a person of the name of Levy?"

Mr Stanislaus looked to the ceiling after the manner of individuals who
desire, or who do not desire, as the case may be, to call a subject to
remembrance. "No," he answered, after a long pause; "certainly not. I
never hear dat name."

"Beware of him, Mrs Tomkins," I continued, "he is an impostor, a
disgrace to mankind, and to the faith which he professes."

"What do you mean by that, you impertinent young man?" said Mrs Tomkins,
her blood rising to her face, herself rising from her chair. "I should
have thought that a man who had been so recently expelled from his
church would have had more decency. A pretty person you must be, to
bring a charge of this kind against so good a creature as that."

"No, do not say dat," interposted Stanny; "I am not goot. I am a brute

"Mr Tomkins," continued the lady, "I don't know what object that person
has in disturbing the peace of our family, or why he comes here at all
to-night. He is a mischief-making, hardened young man, or he would never
have come to what he has. Well, I'm sure - What will Satan put into his
head next!"

"I vould vish you be not angry. Der young gentleman is, I dare say, vary
goot at heart. He is labouring under de deloosions."

"Mr Levisohn, pardon me, I am not. Proofs exist, and I can bring them to
convict you."

"Do you hear that, Mr Tomkins. Were you ever insulted so before? Are you
master in your own house?"

"What shall I do?" said Jehu, trembling with excitement at the door.

"Do! What! Give him his hat, turn him out."

"Oh, my dear goot Christian friends," said Mr Levisohn, imploringly; "de
booels of der Christian growls ven he shees dese sights; vot is de goot
of to fight? It is shtoopid. Let me be der peacemaker. Der yong man has
been drink, perhaps. I forgive him from te bottom of my heart. If ve
quarrel ve fight. If ve fight ve lose every ting.

'So Samson, ven his hair vos lost,
Met the Philistines to his cost,
Shook his vain limbs in shad shurprise,
Made feeble fight, and lost his eyes.'"

"Mr Tomkins," I exclaimed, "I court inquiry, I can obtain proofs."

"We want none of your proofs, you backslider," cried the deaconess.

"Madam, you" - -

"Get out of the house, ambassador of Satan! Mr Tomkins, will you tell
him instantly to go?"

"Go!" squealed Tomkins from the door, not advancing an inch.

I seized my hat, and left the table.

"You will be sorry for this, sir," said I; "and you, madam" - -

"Don't talk to me, you bad man. If you don't go this minute I'll spring
the rattle and have up the watchmen."

I did not attempt to say another word. I left the room, and hurried from
the house. I had hardly shut the street door before it was violently
opened again, and the head of Mr Levisohn made itself apparent.

"Go home," exclaimed that gentleman, "and pray to be shaved, you
shtoopid ass."

It was not many days after the enacting of this scene, that I entered
upon my duties as the instructor of the infant children of my friend. It
was useless to renew my application to the deacon, and I abandoned the
idea. The youngest of my pupils was the lisping Billy. It was my honour
to introduce him at the very porch of knowledge - to place him on the
first step of learning's ladder - to make familiar to him the simple
letters of his native tongue, in whose mysterious combinations the
mighty souls of men appear and speak. The lesson of the alphabet was the
first that I gave, and a heavy sadness depressed and humbled me when, as
the child repeated wonderingly after me, letter by letter, I could not
but feel deeply and acutely the miserable blighting of my youthful
promises. How long was it ago - it seemed but yesterday, when the sun
used to shine brightly into my own dear bed-room, and awake me with its
first gush of light, telling my ready fancy that he came to rouse me
from inaction, and to encourage me to my labours. Oh, happy labours!
Beloved books! What joy I had amongst you! The house was silent - the
city's streets tranquil as the breath of morning. I heard nothing but
the glorious deeds ye spoke of, and saw only the worthies that were but
dust, when centuries now passed were yet unborn, but whose immortal
spirits are vouchsafed still to elevate man, and cheer him onward. How
intense and sweet was our communion; and as I read and read on, how
gratefully repose crept over me; how difficult it seemed to think
unkindly of the world, or to believe in all the tales of human
selfishness and cruelty with which the old will ever mock the ear and
dull the heart of the confiding and the young. How willing I felt to
love, and how gay a place was earth, with her constant sun, and
overflowing lap, and her thousand joys, for man! And how intense was the
fire of _hope_ that burned within me - fed with new fuel every passing
hour, and how abiding and how beautiful _the future_! THE FUTURE! and it
was here - a nothing - a dream - a melancholy phantasm!

There are seasons of adversity, in which the mind, plunged in
despondency and gloom, is startled and distressed by pictures of a
happier time, that travel far to fool and tantalize the suffering heart.
I sat with the child, and gazing full upon him, beheld him not, but - a
vision of my father's house. There sits the good old man, and at his
side - ah, how seldom were they apart! - my mother. And there, too, is the
clergyman, my first instructor. Every well-remembered piece of furniture
is there. The chair, sacred to my sire, and venerated by me for its age,
and for our long intimacy. I have known it since first I knew myself.
The antique bookcase - the solid chest of drawers - the solemn sofa, all
substantial as ever, and looking, as at first, the immoveable and
natural properties of the domestic parlour. My mother has her eyes upon
me, and they are full of tears. My father and the minister are building
up my fortunes, are fixing in the sandy basis of futurity an edifice
formed of glittering words, incorporeal as the breath that rears it. And
the feelings of that hour come back upon me. I glow with animation,
confidence, and love. I have the strong delight that beats within the
bosom of the boy who has the parents' trusty smile for ever on him. I
dream of pouring happiness into those fond hearts - of growing up to be
their prop and staff in their decline. I pierce into the future, and
behold myself the esteemed and honoured amongst men - the patient,
well-rewarded scholar - the cherished and the cherisher of the dear
authors of my life - all brightness - all glory - all unsullied joy. The
child touches my wet cheek, and asks me why I weep? - why? - why? He knows
not of the early wreck that has annihilated the unhappy teacher's peace.

We were still engaged upon our lesson, when John Thompson interrupted
the proceeding, by entering the apartment in great haste, and placing in
my hands a newspaper. "He had been searching," he said, "for one whole
fortnight, to find a situation that would suit me, and now he thought
that he had hit upon it. There it was, 'a tutorer in a human family,' to
teach the languages and the sciences. Apply from two to four. It's just
three now. Send the youngster to his mother, and see after it, my
friend. I wouldn't have you lose it for the world." I took the journal
from his hands, and, as though placed there by the hand of the avenger
to arouse deeper remorse, to draw still hotter blood from the lacerated
heart, the following announcement, and nothing else, glared on the
paper, and took possession of my sight.

"UNIVERSITY INTELLIGENCE. After a contest more severe than any known for
years, MR JOHN SMITHSON, _of Trinity College, Cambridge_, has been
declared THE SENIOR WRANGLER of his year. Mr Smithson is, we understand,
the son of a humble curate in Norfolk, whose principal support has been
derived from the exertions of his son during his residence in the
University. The honour could not have been conferred on a more deserving
child of Alma Mater."

A hundred recollections crowded on my brain. My heart was torn with
anguish. The perseverance and the filial piety of Smithson, so opposite
to my unsteadiness and unnatural disloyalty, confounded and unmanned me.
I burst into tears before the faithful Thompson, and covered my face for
very shame.

"What is the matter, lad?" exclaimed the good fellow, pale with
surprise, his eye trembling with honest feeling. "Have I hurt you? Drat
the paper! Don't think, Stukely, I wished to get rid of you. Don't think
so hard of your old friend. I thought to help and do you service; I know
you have the feelings of a gentleman about you, and I wouldn't wound
'em, God knows, for any thing. There, think no more about it. I am so
rough a hand, I'm not fit to live with Christians. I mean no harm,
believe me. Get rid of you, my boy! I only wish you'd say this is your
home, and never leave me - that would make me happy."

"Thompson," I answered, through my tears, "I am not deserving of your
friendship. You have not offended me. You have never wronged me. You are
all kindness and truth. I have had no real enemy but myself. Read that

I pointed to the paragraph, and he read it.

"What of it?" he asked.

"Thompson," listen to me; "what do you say of such a son?"

"I can guess his father's feelings," said my friend. "Earth's a heaven,
Stukely, when father and child live together as God appointed them."

"But when a child breaks a parent's heart, Thompson - what then?"

"Don't talk about it, lad. I have got eleven of 'em, and that's a side
of the picture that I can't look at with pleasure. I think the boys are
good. They have gone on well as yet; but who can tell what a few years
will do?"

"Or a few months, Thompson," I answered quickly, "or a few days, or
hours, when the will is fickle, principles unfixed, and the heart
treacherous and false. That Smithson and I, Thompson, were fellow
students. We left home together - we took up our abode in the University
together - we were attached to the same college - taught by the same
master - read from the same books. My feelings were as warm as his. My
resolution to do well apparently as firm, my knowledge and attainments
as extensive. If he was encouraged, and protected, and urged forward by
the fond love of a devoted household - so was I. If parental blessings
hallowed his entrance upon those pursuits which have ended so
successfully for him - so did they mine. If he had motive for exertion, I
had not less - we were equal in the race which we began together - look at
us now!"

"How did it happen, then?"

"He was honest and faithful to his purpose. I was not. He saw one object
far in the distance before him, and looked neither to the right nor
left, but dug his arduous way towards it. He craved not the false
excitement of temporary applause, nor deemed the opinion of weak men
essential to his design. He had a sacred duty to perform, which left him
not the choice of action, and he performed it to the letter. He had a
feeling conscience, and a reasoning heart, and the home of his youth,
and the sister who had grown up with him, the father who had laboured,
the mother who had striven for him, visited him by night and by day - in
his silent study, and in his lonely bed, comforting, animating, and
supporting him by their delightful presence."

"And what did you do?"

"Just the reverse of this. I had neither simplicity of aim, nor
stability of affection. One slip from the path, and I hadn't energy to
take the road again. One vicious inclination, and the virtuous resolves
of years melted before it. The sneer of a fool could frighten me from
rectitude - the smile of a girl render me indifferent to the pangs that
tear a parent's heart. Look at us both. Look at him - the man whom I
treated with contemptuous derision. What a return home for him - his
mission accomplished - HIS DUTY DONE! Look at me, the outcast, the
beggar, the despised - the author of a mother's death, a father's
bankruptcy and ruin - with no excuse for misconduct, no promise for the
future, no self-justification, and no hope of pardon beyond that
afforded to the vilest criminal that comes repentant to the mercy throne
of God!"

"Well - but, sir - Stukely - don't take the thing to heart. You are
young - look for'rads. Oh, I tell you, it's a blessed thing to be sorry
for our faults, and to feel as if we wished to do better for the time to
come. I'm an older man than you, and I bid you take comfort, and trust
to God for better things, and better things will come, too. You are not
so badly off now as you were this time twelvemonth. And you know I'll
never leave you. Don't despond - don't give away. It's unnatural for a
man to do it, and he's lost if he does. Oh, bless you, this is a life of
suffering and sorrow, and well it is; for who wouldn't go mad to think
of leaving all his young 'uns behind him, and every thing he loves, if
he wasn't taught that there's a quieter place above, where all shall
meet agin? You know me, my boy; I can't talk, but I want to comfort you
and cheer you up - and so, give me your hand, old fellow, and say you
won't think of all this any more, but try and forget it, and see about
settling comfortably in life. What do you say to the advertisement? A
tutorer in a human family, to teach the languages and the sciences. Come
now, that's right; I'm glad to see you laugh. I suppose I don't give the
right pronunciation to the words. Well, never mind; laugh at your old
friend. He'd rather see you laugh at him than teaze your heart about
your troubles."

Thompson would not be satisfied until I had read the advertisement, and
given him my opinion of its merits. He would not suffer me to say
another word about my past misfortunes, but insisted on my looking
forward cheerfully, and like a man. The situation appeared to him just
the thing for me; and after all, if I had wrangled as well as that 'ere
Smithson - (though, at the same time, _wrangling_ seemed a very
aggravating word to put into young men's mouths at all) - perhaps I
shouldn't have been half as happy as a quiet comfortable life would make
me. "I was cut out for a tutorer. He was sure of it. So he'd thank me to
read the paper without another syllable." The advertisement, in truth,
was promising. "The advertiser, in London, desired to engage the
services of a young gentleman, capable of teaching the ancient
languages, and giving his pupils 'an introduction to the sciences.' The
salary would be liberal, and the occupation with a humane family in the
country, who would receive the tutor as one of themselves. References
would be required and given."

"References would be required and given," I repeated, after having
concluded the advertisement, and put the paper down.

"Yes, that's the only thing!" said Thompson, scratching his honest ear,
like a man perplexed and driven to a corner. "We haven't got no
references to give. But I'll tell you what we've got though. We've got
the papers of these freehold premises, and we've something like two
thousand in the bank. I'll give 'em them, if you turns out a bad 'un.
That I'll undertake to do, and shan't be frightened either. Now, you
just go, and see if you can get it. Where do you apply?"

"Wait, Thompson. I must not suffer you" - -

"Did you hear what I said, sir? where do you apply?"

"At X.Y.Z." said I, "in Swallow street, Saint James's."

"Then, don't you lose a minute. I shouldn't be surprised if the place is
run down already. London's overstocked with tutorers and men of larning.
You come along o' me, Billy, and don't you lose sight of this 'ere
chance, my boy. If they wants a reference, tell 'em I'll be glad to wait
upon 'em."

Three days had not elapsed after this conversation, before my services
were accepted by X.Y.Z. - and I had engaged to travel into Devonshire to
enter at once upon my duties, as teacher in the dwelling-house of the
Reverend Walter Fairman. X.Y.Z. was a man of business; and, fortunately
for me, had known my father well. He was satisfied with my connexion,
and with the unbounded recommendation which Thompson gave with me. Mr
Fairman was incumbent of one of the loveliest parishes in England, and
the guardian and teacher of six boys. My salary was fifty pounds per
annum, with board and lodging. The matter was settled in a few hours,
and before I had time to consider, my place was taken in the coach, and
a letter was dispatched to Mr Fairman, announcing my intended departure.
Nothing could exceed the joy of Thompson at my success - nothing could be
kinder and more anxious than his valuable advice.

"Now," he said as we walked together from the coach-office, "was I wrong
in telling you that better things would turn up? Take care of yourself,
and the best wrangler of the lot may be glad to change places with you.
It isn't lots of larning, or lots of money, or lots of houses and
coaches, that makes a man happy in this world. They never can do it; but
they can do just the contrarery, and make him the miserablest wretch as
crawls. _A contented mind_ is 'the one thing needful.' Take what God
gives gratefully, and do unto others as you would that they should do
unto you. That's a maxim that my poor father was always giving me, and,
I wish, when I take the young 'uns to church, that they could always

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Online LibraryVariousBlackwood's Edinburgh Magazine — Volume 53, No. 329, March, 1843 → online text (page 6 of 23)