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still six long weeks before the new year; and certainly four, at
least, of my precious buds would be blown by that time. Behold me now
recompensed for all my pains: hope re-entered my heart, and every moment
I looked on my beauteous introducer with complacency.

“On the 27th of November, a day, which I can never forget, the sun
rose in all its brilliance; I thanked Heaven, and hastened to place my
rose-tree, and such of its companions as yet survived, on a peristyle in
the court. (I have already mentioned that I lodged on the ground floor.)
I watered them, and went, as usual, to give my philosophical lecture.
I then dined - drank to the health of my rose - and returned to take my
station in my window, with a quicker throbbing of the heart.

“Amelia’s mother had been slightly indisposed; for eight days she had
not left the house, and consequently I had not seen my fair one. On the
first morning I had observed the physician going in; uneasy for her,
I contrived to cross his way, questioned him, and was comforted. I
afterwards learned that the old lady had recovered, and was to make her
appearance abroad on this day at a grand gala given by a baroness, who
lived at the end of the street. I was then certain to see Amelia pass
by, and eight days of privation had enhanced that thought; I am sure
Madame de Belmont did not look to this party with as much impatience
as I did. She was always one of the first: it had scarcely struck five,
when I heard the bell of her gate. I took up a book - there I was at my
post - and presently I saw Amelia appear, dazzling with dress and beauty
as she gave her arm to her mother: never yet had the brilliancy of her
figure so struck me; this time there was no occasion for her to speak
to catch my eyes; they were fixed on her, but her’s were bent down;
however, she guessed that I was there, for she passed slowly to prolong
my happiness. I followed her with my gaze, until she entered the house;
there only she turned her head for a second; the door was shut, and she
disappeared; but remained present to my heart. I could neither close
my window, nor cease to look at the baroness’s hotel, as if I could see
Amelia through the walls; I remained there till all objects were fading
into obscurity - the approach of night, and the frostiness of the
air, brought to my recollection that the rose-tree was still on the
peristyle: never had it been so precious to me; I hastened to it; and
scarcely was I in the anti-chamber, when I heard a singular noise, like
that of an animal browsing, and tinkling its bells. I trembled, I flew,
and I had the grief to find a sheep quietly fixed beside my rose-trees,
of which it was making its evening repast with no small avidity.

“I caught up the first thing in my way; it was a heavy cane: I wished
to drive away the gluttonous beast; alas! it was too late; he had just
bitten off the beautiful branch of buds; he swallowed them one after
another; and in spite of the gloom, I could see, half out of his mouth,
the finest of them all, which in a moment was champed like the rest. I
was neither ill-tempered, nor violent; but at this sight I was no longer
master of myself. Without well knowing what I did, I discharged a blow
of my cane on the animal, and stretched it at my feet.

[Illustration: 073]

“No sooner did I perceive it motionless than I repented of having killed
a creature unconscious of the mischief it had done. Was this worthy of
the professor of philosophy, the adorer of the gentle Amelia? But thus
to eat up my rose-tree, my only hope to get admittance to her! When I
thought on its annihilation, I could not consider myself so culpable.
However, the night darkened; I heard the old servant crossing the lower
passage, and I called her. ‘Catherine,’ said I, ‘bring your light, there
is mischief here; you left the stable doon open (that of the court was
also unclosed), one of your sheep has been browsing on my rose-trees,
and I have punished it.’

“She soon came with a lanthorn in her hand. It is not one of our sheep,’
said she; ‘I have just come from them; the stable gate is shut, and
they are all within. O, blessed saints! blessed saints! What do I
see’ - exclaimed she, when near, ‘it is the pet sheep of our neighbour
Mademoiselle de Belmont. Poor Robin! what bad luck brought you here! O!
how sorry she will be.’ I nearly dropped down beside Robin.

“‘Of Mademoiselle Amelia!’ said I in a trembling voice; ‘has she actually
a sheep?’ ‘O! good Lord! no; she has none at this moment - but that which
lies there, with its four legs up in the air: she loved it as herself;
see the collar that she worked for it with her own hands.’ I bent to
look at it. It was of red leather, ornamented with little bells, and
she had embroidered on it, in gold thread - ‘Robin belongs to Amelia de
Belmont; she loves him, and begs that he may be restored to her.’ ‘What
will she think of the barbarian who killed him in a fit of passion - the
vice that she most detests; she is right, it has been fatal to her; yet
if he should be only stunned by a blow; Catherine, run, ask for some
aether, or _Eau de Vie_, or hartshorn, - run, Catherine, run!’

“Catherine set off; I tried to make it open its mouth, - my rose-bud was
still between its hermetically-sealed teeth; perhaps the collar pressed
it: in fact the throat was swelled. I got it off with difficulty;
something fell from it at my feet, which I mechanically took up and put
into my pocket without looking at, so much was I absorbed in anxiety for
the resuscitation. I rubbed him with all my strength; I grew more and
more impatient for the return of Catherine. She came with a small new
phial in her hand, calling out in her usual manner, ‘Here, sir, here’s
the medicine. I never opened my mouth about it to Mademoiselle Amelia; I
pity her enough without that.’

“‘What is all this Catherine? where have you seen Mademoiselle Amelia?
and what is her affliction, if she does not know of her favourite’s
death?’ ‘O, sir, this is a terrible day for the poor young lady. She was
at the end of the street searching for a ring which she had lost; and
it was no trifle, but the ring that her dead father had got as a present
from the Emperor, and worth, they say, more ducats than I have hairs on
my head. Her mother lent it to her to day for the party; she has lost
it, she knows neither how nor where, and never missed it till she drew
off her glove at supper. And, poor soul! the glove was on again in a
minute, for fear it should be seen that the ring was wanting, and she
slipped out to search for it along the street, but has found nothing.’

“It struck me that the substance that had fallen from the sheep’s collar
had the form of a ring - could it possibly be! - I looked at it; and judge
of my joy! - it was Madame de Belmont’s ring, and really very beautiful
and costly. A secret presentiment whispered to me that this was a better
means of presentation than the rose-tree. I pressed the precious ring to
my heart, and to my lips; assured myself that the sheep was really dead;
and leaving him stretched near the devastated rose-trees, I ran into the
street, dismissed those who were seeking in vain, and stationed myself
at my door to await the return of my neighbours. I saw from a distance
the flambeau that preceded them, quickly distinguished their voices,
and comprehended by them, that Amelia had confessed her misfortune. The
mother scolded bitterly; the daughter wept, and said, ‘Perhaps it may
be found.’ ‘O yes, perhaps,’ - replied the mother with irritation, ‘it
is too rich a prize to him that finds it; the emperor gave it to your
deceased father, on the field, when he saved his life; he set more value
on it than on all he possessed besides, and now you have thus flung it
away; but the fault is mine for having trusted you with it. For some
time back you have seemed quite bewildered.’ I heard all this as I
followed at some paces behind them; they reached home; and I had the
cruelty to prolong, for some moments more, Amelia’s mortification. - I
intended that the treasure should procure me the entrée of their
dwelling, and I waited till they had got up stairs. I then had myself
announced as the bearer of good news; I was introduced, and respectfully
presented the ring to Madame de Belmont: and how delighted seemed
Amelia! and how beautifully she brightened in her joy, not alone that
the ring was found, but that I was the finder. She cast herself on her
mother’s bosom, and turning on me her eyes, humid with tears, though
beaming with pleasure, she clasped her hands, exclaiming, ‘O, sir, what
obligation, what gratitude do we owe to you!’

“‘Ah, Mademoiselle!’ returned I, ‘you know not to whom you address the
term gratitude.’ ‘To one who has conferred on me a great pleasure,’
said she.’ ‘To one who has caused you a serious pain - to the killer of

“‘You, sir? - I cannot credit it - why should you do so? you are not so

“‘No, but I am so unfortunate. It was in opening his collar, which
I have also brought to you, that your ring fell on the ground - you
promised a great recompence to him who should find it. I dare to solicit
that recompence; grant me my pardon for Robin’s death.’

“‘And I, sir, I thank you for it,’ exclaimed the mother. ‘I never could
endure that animal; it took up Amelia’s entire time, and wearied me
out of all patience with its bleating. If you had not killed it,
Heaven knows where it might have carried my diamond. But how did it get
entangled in the collar? Amelia, pray explain all this.’

“Amelia’s heart was agitated; she was as much grieved that it was I who
had killed Robin, as that he was dead. - ‘Poor Robin,’ said she, drying a
tear, ‘he was rather too fond of running out; before leaving home, I had
put on his collar that he might not be lost - he had always been brought
back to me. The ring must have slipped under his collar. I hastily drew
on my glove, and never missed it till I was at supper.

“‘What good luck it was that he went straight to this gentleman’s,’
observed the mother.

“‘Yes - for you,’ said Amelia; ‘he was cruelly received - was it such a
crime, sir, to enter your door?’

“‘It was night,’ I replied; ‘I could not distinguish the collar, and
I learned, when too late, that the animal belonged to you.’ “‘Thank
Heaven, then, you did not know it!’ cried the mother, or where would
have been my ring?’

“‘It is necessary at least,’ said Amelia, with emotion, ‘that I should
know how my favourite could have so cruelly chagrined you.’

“‘O Mademoiselle, he had devoured my hope, my happiness, a superb
rose-tree about to blow, that I had been long watching, and intended
to present to - to - a person on New-Year’s-Day.’ Amelia smiled, blushed,
extended her lovely hand towards me, and murmured, - ‘All is pardoned.’
‘If it had eaten up a rose-tree about to blow,’ cried Madame de
Belmont, ‘it deserved a thousand deaths. I would give twenty sheep for
a rose-tree in blow.’ ‘And I am much mistaken,’ said Amelia, with the
sweetest _naïveté_, ‘if this very rose-tree was not intended for you.’
‘For me! you have lost your senses child; I have not the honour of
knowing the gentleman.’ ‘But he knows your fondness for roses; I
mentioned it one day before him, the only time I ever met him, at Madame
de S.’s. Is it not true, sir, that my unfortunate favourite had eaten up
my mother’s rose-tree?’ I acknowledged it, and I related the course of
education of my fifty rose-trees.

“Madame de Belmont laughed heartily, and said, ‘she owed me a double
obligation.’ Mademoiselle Amelia has given me my recompence for the
diamond,’ said I to her; - ‘I claim yours also, madame.’ ‘Ask, sir - ’
‘Permission to pay my respects sometimes to you!’ ‘Granted,’ replied
she, gaily. I kissed her hand respectfully, that of her daughter
tenderly, and withdrew. But I returned the next day - and every day - I
was received with a kindness that each visit increased, - I was looked on
as one of the family. It was I who now gave my arm to Madame de Belmont
to conduct her to the evening parties; she presented me as her friend,
and they were no longer dull to her daughter. New-Year’s-Day arrived. I
had gone the evening before to a sheepfold in the vicinity to purchase
a lamb similar to that I had killed. I collected from the different
hot-houses all the flowering rose-trees I could find; the finest of them
was for Madame de Belmont; and the roses of the others were wreathed in
a garland round the fleecy neck of the lamb. In the evening I went to my
neighbours, with my presents. ‘Robin and the rose-tree are restored
to life,’ said I, in offering my homage, which was received with
sensibility and gratefulness. ‘I also should like to give you a
New-Year’s-gift,’ said Madame de Belmont to me, ‘if I but knew what you
would best like.’ ‘What I best like - ah! if I only dared to tell you.’
‘If it should chance now to be my daughter - .’ I fell at her feet,
and so did Amelia. ‘Well,’ said the kind parent, ‘there then is your
New-Year’s-gift ready found; Amelia gives you her heart, and I give you
her hand.’ She took the rose wreath from off the lamb, and twined it
round our united hands. ‘And my Amelia,’ continued the old professor, as
he finished his anecdote, passing an arm round his companion as she sat
beside him, ‘My Amelia is still to my eyes as beautiful, and to my heart
as dear, as on the day when our hands were bound together with a chain
of flowers.’”


[Illustration: 085]


Mr. Job Spimkins, grocer and vestryman of Crutched-Friars, was a stout,
easy, good-natured, middle-aged gentleman, who - to adopt a mercantile
phrase - was “well to do in the world,” and had long borne an exemplary
character throughout his ward for sobriety, punctuality, civility,
and all those homely but well-wearing qualities which we are apt to
associate with trade. Punctuality, however, was the one leading feature
of his mind, which he carried to so extravagant a height, that having
formed a scale of moral duties, he had placed it in the very front rank,
side by side with honesty - or the art of driving a good bargain - and
just two above temperance, soberness and chastity. Even in his social
hours, this peculiar trait of character decided his predilections; for,
notwithstanding he was much given to keeping up feasts and holidays,
and had a high respect for Michaelmas-Day, Christmas-Day, Twelfth-Day,
New-Year’s-Day, &c., yet he always expressed an indifferent opinion
of Easter, because, like an Irishman’s pay-day, it was seldom or never
punctual. Next to this engrossing hobby was our citizen’s abhorrence of
poetry, an abhorrence which he extended with considerate impartiality to
every branch of literature.

But Dr. Franklin’s works formed an exception. He pronounced his
commercial maxims to be the _chefs-d’oeuvre_ of genius, and used to set
them as large text-copies for his son, when he and the school-bill
came home together for the holidays from Dr. Thickskull’s academy at
Camberwell. But poetry - our prosaic citizen could not for the life of
him abide it. The only good thing, he used to say, he ever, yet saw
in _verse_, was the Rule of Three; and the only _rhymes_ that had the
slightest reason to recommend them, were “Thirty days hath September.”

To these opinions Mrs. Spimkins, like a dutiful wife, never failed
to respond, “Amen.” In person, this good lady was short and stoutly
timbered, with a face on which lay the full sunshine of prosperity,
in one broad, unvaried grin. Three children were her’s: three “dear,
delightful children,” as their grandmother by the father’s side never
failed to declare, when punctually, every New-Year’s-Day, she presented
them each with a five-shilling-piece, wrapt up in gilt-edged note-paper.
Thomas, the eldest, was a slim, sickly youth; easy, conceited, and
eighteen: Martha, the second, was a maiden of more sensibility than
beauty: while Sophy, the youngest and sprightliest, to a considerable
portion of the maternal simper and the paternal circumference, added a
fine expanse of foot, which spreading out semi-circularly, like a lady’s
fan, at the toes, gave a peculiar weight and safety to her tread.

The habits of this amiable family were to the full as unassuming as
their manners. They dined at one o’clock, with the exception of Sundays,
when the discussion of roast, or boiled, was, for fashion’s sake,
adjourned to five; took tea at six; supped at nine; and retired to rest
at ten. The Sabbath, however, was a day not less of fashion than of
luxury. The young folks - Thomas, especially, who was growing, and wanted
nourishment - were then indulged with two glasses of port wine after
dinner; and, at tea-time, were made happy in the privilege of a “blow
out” with one or more friendly neighbours. Once every year they went
half-price to the Christmas pantomimes, a memorable epoch, which never
failed to deprive them of sleep, and disorganize their nervous system
for at least a fortnight beforehand. Such were the habits of the
Spimkins’ family, a family rich, respectable, and orderly, until the
March of Mind, which our modern philosophers are striving so hard to
expedite, reduced them from wealth to poverty; and, from having been the
pride, compelled them to become the pity of Crutched-Friars.

Every one must remember the strange, bewildering enthusiasm excited by
Sir Walter Scott’s first appearance as a novelist. All the world
was Scott-struck. His songs were set to music; fair hands painted
fire-screens from his incidents; playwrights dramatized his heroes; and
even the great Mr. Alderman Dobbs himself was so enraptured with his
descriptions of Highland scenery, that he actually took an inside place
in the Inverness mail, in order, as he shrewdly remarked, “to judge
for himself with his own eyes” - a feat which he would infallibly have
accomplished, but for two reasons; first, that the coach passed the most
picturesque part of the Highlands in the night-time; secondly that the
worthy alderman himself fell fast asleep during the best part of his
journey. He returned home, however, as might have been expected, in

Among the number of those who caught this poetic influenza in its
most alarming form, were the two Misses Spinks, daughters of Mr.
Common-Council Spinks, once a mighty man on’ Change, but who had lately
retired from business to enjoy life, alternately at his town house in
Crutched-Friars, and his charming summer villa at Newington Butts, near
the Montpellier Tea Gardens. As these young ladies lived next door
to Mr. Spimkins, and cultivated the gentilities of society - a little
neutralized, perhaps, by the circumstance of their indulging in
certain pleonastic peculiarities of aspiration, by virtue of which the
substantive “air” would be accommodated with an _h_, and the adverb
“very” be transformed into a _wherry_ - it may reasonably be inferred
that they were much looked up to by their neighbours. The Misses
Spimkins, in particular, took pattern by them in all things. They were
the standards by which, in secret, they regulated their demeanor - the
mirror in which they longed to see themselves at full-length reflected.

Things were in this state, when one morning Miss Spinks, a young lady of
a grave and intellectual cast of mind, with a face broad at the forehead
and peaked at the chin, like a kite, called at the Spimkinses for the
purpose of inquiring the character of a servant maid. The Spimkinses
were delighted by such condescension. Miss Spinks was such a charming
young woman! such a dear creature! - so well-bred, so well-dressed, and,
above all, so well-informed! Such, for at least a month afterwards, was
the hourly topic of conversation at the grocer’s table: it came up
with the breakfast tray, it helped to digest the dinner, it served as a
night-cap after supper, until at length old Spimkins, in consideration
of his neighbour’s importance, was prevailed on to depart so far from
his homely notions of household economy, as to allow his wife and
children to return Miss Spinks’ visit. In due time, both parties, as a
matter of course, became intimate; but as literature was all the rage at
the common councilman’s, the Misses Spimkins were for a time at
fault, until a seasonable supply of novels, procured secretly from a
fashionable publisher in the Minories, enabled them to converse on a
more equal footing.

It was just about this period, that the Third Series of the Tales of My
Landlord appeared. The Spinkses, who had heard from Alderman Dobbs that
the descriptions were “uncommon like natur,” of course read it; so of
necessity did the Spimkinses; and, as Miss Spinks kept an album, it came
to pass that she one day commissioned Thomas Spimkins to copy into it
a few of the most notable passages. On what slight circumstances do
the leading events of life depend! The youth, delighted with his task,
ventured, after concluding it, to interpolate some stanzas of his own;
Miss Spinks inquired who was the author; when Tom, blushing, like _Mrs.
Malaprop_, “confessed the soft impeachment,” was instantly pronounced
a genius, and as such introduced by the Spinkses to all their high

Genius! What a fatal talisman exists in that portentous word! How many
industrious families has it led astray! How much common-sense has
it shipwrecked! How many prospects, once bright and imposing, has it
utterly, incurably blighted!

Astonished at her son’s promise, dazzled by the hopes of his preferment,
all Mrs. Spimkins’s usual good sense forsook her. The wisdom of the
world was lost in the feelings of the mother. She gave play at once to
the most ambitious expectations, and resolved henceforth not to let an
hour escape without striving to inoculate her husband. With this view,
she called every possible resource to her aid. She appealed to his
affection as a father, to his pride as a man; she pointed out the
injustice, not to say the inhumanity, of thwarting the genius of Thomas;
she talked of his wealth, his deserts, his dignities; and, finally, by
some miracle, for which I have never yet been able to account, persuaded
the old gentleman to relax so liberally in his anti-poetic notions, as
to despatch Thomas to Oxford, where he would infallibly have gained the
prize poem, had it not, by some unaccountable mistake, been transferred
to another.

It is from this period that the historian of the Spimkinses must date
their decline and fall. Thomas returned home in due time from the
university, a finished genius, but as poor as such geniuses are apt to
be; while his father, who now began to repent having sent him there,
proposed buying him a share in a grocer’s shop at Whitechapel. But the
gifted youth disdained such base employment. He had a soul above figs!
What! Thomas Spimkins, Esq., of Brazen Nose, author of a poem which
was within an inch of gaining the Chancellor’s prize, stand behind
the counter in a white apron, answering the demands of some uneducated
customer for “a quarter of a pound of moist sugar, and change for
sixpence!” Impossible! the idea was revolting to humanity!

Nevertheless, something must be done: one cannot live upon gentility,
even though certificated at Oxford. Old Spimkins was precisely of this
way of thinking; so, as a next resource, proposed articling his son to
an attorney. But here again a difficulty presented itself. The business
of a solicitor requires, it is well known, the impudence of a Yorkshire
postboy, whereas Thomas was diffidence itself. Law, then, was out of
the question; the church presented equal impediments; the navy, though
respectable, was inappropriate; the army ruinously expensive. In this
exigence, nothing remained but literature; to which, after many an
urgent, impassioned, but fruitless remonstrance from his father, the
young man finally resolved to addict himself. Meanwhile, his kind
patrons, the Spinkses, thinking, naturally enough, that genius should
vegetate among congenial scenery, took him on a visit to their villa
at Newington Butts, where, in a romantic summer-house, built up of red
bricks and oyster-shells, he gave vent to some of the sweetest stanzas
imaginable. One of these, inspired by that poetic ceremony, the Lord
Mayor’s Show, fell accidentally into the hands of his lordship himself,

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