Various.

Odd Volume online

. (page 6 of 13)
Online LibraryVariousOdd Volume → online text (page 6 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


“Come, give me the cloth!” said the other, snatching away the napkin,
which Jacob had buttoned in his waistcoat, and thereby causing that
garment to fly open and expose more of dirty linen and skin than is
usually sported at a dinner party. Poor Philpot’s rage had now reached
its acme, and he again appealed to the chairman by name. “Colonel
Martain!” said he, “can you sit by and see me used thus? I am sure that
you will not pretend that you don’t know me!” - “Not I,” replied the
chairman; I know you well enough, and a confounded impudent fellow you
are. I’ll tell you what, my lad, next time you apply for a license, you
shall hear of this.” The landlord of the Old Boar was, withal, a
kind-hearted man; and, as he knew that the loss of its license would be
ruin to the rampant Red Lion and all concerned therewith, he was
determined that poor Philpot should be saved from destruction in spite
of his teeth; therefore, without further ceremony, he, being a muscular
man, laid violent hands upon the said Jacob, and, with the assistance of
his waiters conveyed him out of the room, in despite of much struggling,
and sundry interjections concerning his “cloth.” When they had deposited
him safely in an armchair in “the bar,” the landlady, who had frequently
seen him before, in his proper character, that of a civil man, who “knew
his place” in society, very kindly offered him a cup of tea; and the
landlord asked how he could think of making such a fool of himself; and
the waiter, whom he had accosted on first entering the house, vouched
for his not having had any thing to eat or drink; whereupon they spoke
of the remains of a turbot, which had just come down stairs, and a
haunch of venison that was to follow. It is a sad thing to have a mind
and body that are no match for each other. Jacob’s outward man would
have been highly gratified at the exhibition of these things; but the
spirit of the parson was too mighty within, and spurned every offer, and
the body was compelled to obey. So the horse that was borrowed of the
squire was ordered out, and Jacob Philpot mounted and rode on his way in
excessive irritation, growling vehemently at the insult and indignity
which had been committed against the “cloth” in general, and his own
person in particular.

“The sun sunk beneath the horizon,” as novelists say, when Jacob Philpot
entered the village of Stockwell, and, as if waking from a dream, he
suddenly started, and was much surprised to find himself on horseback,
for the last thing that he recollected was going up stairs at his own
house, and composing himself for a nap, that he might be ready to join
neighbour Scroggins and Dick Smith, when they came in the evening to
drink the gallon of ale lost by the latter. “And, my eyes!” said he, “if
I haven’t got the squire’s horse that the parson borrowed this morning.
Well - it’s very odd! however, the ride has done me a deal of good, for I
feel as if I hadn’t any thing all day, and yet I did pretty well too at
the leg of mutton at dinner.” Mrs. Philpot received her lord and nominal
master in no very gracious mood, and said she should like to know where
he had been riding. “That’s more than I can tell you,” replied Jacob;
“however, I know I’m as hungry as a greyhound, though I never made a
better dinner in my life.” - “More shame for you,” said Mrs. Philpot; “I
wish the Old Boar was a thousand miles off.” - “What’s the woman talking
about?” quoth Jacob. “Eh! what! at it again, I suppose,” and he pointed
to the closet containing the rum bottle. “Hush!” cried Mrs. Philpot,
“here’s the parson coming down stairs!” - “The parson!” exclaimed Jacob;
what’s he been doing up stairs, I should like to know?” - “He has been to
take a nap on mistress’s bed,” said Sally. - “The dickens he has! This is
a pretty story,” quoth Jacob. “How could I help it?” asked Mrs. Philpot;
“you should stay at home and look after your own business, and not go
ramshackling about the country. You shan’t hear the last of the Old Boar
just yet I promise you.” To avoid the threatened storm, and satisfy the
calls of hunger, Jacob made off to the larder, and commenced an attack
upon the leg of mutton.

At this moment the Reverend Mr. Stanhope opened the little door at
the foot of the stairs - On waking, and finding himself upon a bed, he
concluded that he must have fainted in consequence of the agitation of
mind produced by the gross insults which he had suffered, or perhaps
from the effects of hunger. Great, therefore, was his surprise to find
himself at the Red Lion in his own parish; and the first questions he
asked of Mrs. Philpot were, how and when he had been brought there. “La,
Sir!” said the landlady, “you went up stairs of your own accord, after
you were tired of smoking under the tree.” - “Smoking under the tree,
woman!” exclaimed Mr. Stanhope; “what are you talking about? Do you
recollect whom you are speaking to?” - “Ay, marry, do I,” replied the
sensitive Mrs. Philpot; “and you told Sally to call you when Scroggins
and Smith came for their gallon of ale, as you meant to join their
party.”

The Reverend Mr. Stanhope straightway took up his hat, put it upon his
head, and stalked with indignant dignity out of the house, opining that
the poor woman was in her cups; and meditated as he walked home, on the
extraordinary affairs of the day. But his troubles were not yet
ended, for the report of his public jollification had reached his own
household; and John, his trusty man-servant, had been dispatched to the
Red Lion, and had ascertained that his master was really gone to bed
in a state very unfit for a clergyman to be seen in. Some remarkably
good-natured friends had been to condole with Mrs. Stanhope upon the
extraordinary proceedings of her good man, and to say how much they were
shocked, and what a pity it was, and wondering what the bishop
would think of it, and divers other equally amiable and consolatory
reflections and notes of admiration. - Now Mrs. Stanhope, though she had
much of the “milk of human kindness” in her composition, had, withal, a
sufficient portion of “tartaric acid” mingled therewith. Therefore, when
her beer-drinking husband made his appearance, he found her in a state
of effervescence. “Mary,” said he “I am extremely fatigued. I have been
exposed to-day to a series of insults, such as I could not have imagined
it possible for any one to offer me.”

“Nor any body else,” replied Mrs. Stanhope; “but you are rightly served,
and I am glad of it. Who could have supposed that you, the minister of a
parish? - Faugh! how filthily you smell of tobacco! I vow I cannot
endure to be in the room with you!” and she arose and left the divine to
himself, in exceeding great perplexity. However, being a man who loved
to do all things in order, he remembered that he had not dined, so he
rang the bell and gave the needful instructions, thinking it best to
satisfy nature first, and _then_ endeavour to ascertain the cause of his
beloved Mary’s acidity. His appetite was gone but that he attributed to
having fasted too long, a practice very unusual with him; however, he
picked a bit here and there, and then indulged himself with a bottle
of his oldest port, which he had about half consumed, and somewhat
recovered his spirits, ere his dear Mary made her re-appearance, and
told him that she was perfectly astonished at his conduct. - And well
might she say so, for _now_ the wine, which he had been drinking with
unusual rapidity, thinking, good easy man, that he had taken nothing all
day, began to have a very visible effect upon a body already saturated
with strong ale. He declared that he cared not a fig for the good
opinion of any gentleman in the county; that he would always act and
speak according to his principles, and filled a bumper to the health of
the Lord Chancellor, and drank sundry more exceedingly loyal toasts; and
told his astonished spouse, that he should not be surprised if he was
very soon to be made a dean or a bishop; and as for the people at the
Old Boar, he saw through their conduct - it was all envy, which doth
“merit as its shade pursue.” The good lady justly deemed it folly to
waste her oratory upon a man in such a state, and reserved her powers
for the next morning; and Mr. Stanhope reeled to bed that night in a
condition which to do him justice, he had never before exhibited under
his own roof.

The next morning, Mrs. Stanhope and her daughter Sophy, a promising
young lady about ten years old, of the hoyden class, were at breakfast,
when the elderly stranger called at the rectory, and expressed great
concern on being told that Mr. S. was somewhat indisposed, and had not
yet made his appearance. He said that his business was of very little
importance, and merely concerned some geological inquiries, which he was
prosecuting in the vicinity; but Mrs. Stanhope, who had the names of all
the ologies by heart, and loved occasionally to talk thereof, persuaded
him to wait a short time, little dreaming of the consequence; for the
wily old gentleman began to romp with Miss Sophy, and, after a while,
produced his teetotum, and, in short, so contrived it, that the mother
and daughter played together therewith for five minutes. He then
politely took his leave, promising to call again; and Mrs. Stanhope
bobbed him a curtsey, and Sophia assured him that Mr. S. would be
extremely happy to afford him every assistance in his scientific
researches. When the worthy divine at length made his appearance in the
breakfast parlour, strangely puzzled as to the extreme feverishness
and langour which oppressed him, he found Sophy sitting gravely in an
arm-chair, reading a treatise on craniology. It was a pleasant thing
for him to see her read any thing; but he could not help expressing his
surprise, by observing, “I should think that book a little above your
comprehension, my dear.” - “Indeed! Sir,” was the reply; and the
little girl laid down the volume, and sat erect in her chair, and thus
continued: - “I should think, Mr. Nicodemus Stanhope, that after the
specimen of good sense and propriety of conduct which you were pleased
to exhibit yesterday, it scarcely becomes _you_ to pretend to estimate
the _comprehension_ of others.” - “My dear,” said the astonished divine,
“this is very strange language! You forget whom you are speaking
to!” - “Not at all,” replied the child. “I know _my_ place, if you don’t
know yours, and am determined to speak my mind.” If anything could add
to the Reverend Mr. Nicodemus Stanhope’s surprise, it was the sound of
his wife’s voice in the garden, calling to his man John to stand out of
the way, or she should run over him. Poor John, who was tying up some of
her favourite flowers, got out of her way accordingly in quick time, and
the next moment his mistress rushed by, trundling a hoop, hallooing and
laughing, and highly enjoying his apparent dismay. Throughout that day,
it may be imagined that the reverend gentleman’s philosophy was sorely
tried; and we are compelled, by want of room, to leave the particulars
of his botheration to the reader’s imagination.

We are sorry to say that these were not the only metamorphoses which the
mischievous old gentleman wrought in the village of Stockwell.

There was a game of teetotum played between a sergeant of dragoons,
who had retired upon his well-earned pension, and a baker, who happened
likewise to be the renter of a small patch of land adjoining the
village. The veteran, with that indistinctness of character before
mentioned, shouldered the peel, * and took it to the field, and used it
for loading and spreading manure, so that it was never afterwards fit
for any but dirty work. Then, just to show that he was not afraid of any
body, he cut a gap in the hedge of a small field of wheat which had just
been reaped, and was standing in sheaves, and thereby gave admittance
to a neighbouring bull, who amused himself greatly by tossing the said
sheaves; but more particularly those which were set apart as tythes,
against which he appeared to have a particular spite, throwing them high
into the air, and then bellowing and treading them under foot. But - we
must come to a close. Suffice it to say, that the village of Stockwell
was long in a state of confusion in consequence of these games; for the
mischief which was done during the period of delusion, ended not, like
the delusion itself, with the rising or setting of the sun.

* “Peel - A broad, thin board, with a longhandle, used by
bakers to put their bread in and out of the oven.” - Johnson.

Having now related as many particulars of these strange occurrences as
our limits will permit, we have merely to state the effects which they
produced upon ourselves. Whenever we have since beheld servants aping
the conduct of their masters or mistresses, tradesmen wasting their
time and money at taverns, clergymen forgetful of the dignity and sacred
character of their profession, publicans imagining themselves fit for
preachers, children calling their parents to account for their conduct,
matrons acting the hoyden, and other incongruities - whenever we witness
these and the like occurrences, we conclude that the actors therein have
been playing a game with the Old Gentleman’s Teetotum.

[ABRIDGED FROM BLACKWOOD.]

[Illustration: 168]




A WATER PARTY.

Oh, Laura! such a charming party!
You’ve missed our pic-nic, foolish girl;
I do assure you from my heart,
I Hate you, now you’re Mrs. Searle.

You know I dote upon the river -
‘Twas settled we should row to Kew;
And though the cold did make us shiver,
In England that’s not very new.

But I should tell you that our number
Was rather more than you would like;
For Ma would ask that living lumber,
That dull, but worthy, Mrs. Pike:

Then _she_ insisted that her daughter
Could not, for worlds, be left behind;
The poor girl screamed so, on the water -
I wonder mothers are so blind!

We’d Clara Smith, and Major Morris,
Besides Sir John, and Lady Gann -
Their nephew too - his name is Horace -
A well-bred, clever, tall young man:

Papa, Mamma, and all my brothers -
Sophia, Kate, Georgina, and me;
I have not time to name the others,
Except your old flame, Dr. Lea.

The whole arrangement was quite charming;
Miss Smith, though, is a shocking flirt;
Her conduct really was alarming -
Her Mamma is so very pert.

The men all chose to praise her singing!
But one’s so sick of “Home, sweet Home!”
And “Hark, the Village Bells are ringing!”
Is duller than the Pope of Rome.

Then her “La ci darem la mano,”
Was murdered by poor Major M.;
She whispered him, in vain, “_piano!_”
That little man is quite a gem -

I mean to those who’re fond of quizzing,
Which you and I, of course, are not;
He looks like soda-water, fizzing,
Or like a mutton-chop when hot.

The doctor offered to be funny -
That is, to sing a comic song;
But what it was, for love or money,
I cannot tell - it was so long.

He gave us too, a “recitation” -
To me a most enormous bore;
My brother muttered, “botheration!”
My father wished him at the Nore.

We all had clubbed to take provision,
And meant to dine in some one’s field;
Old Pike opposed this said decision -
His wife, however, made him yield.

But when, at last, we’d fairly landed,
And spread our cloth upon the ground,
(If you won’t laugh, I will be candid),
We found our dinner almost drowned!

Champagne and claret - every bottle
Had cracked, and deluged fowls and ham
But yet it had not spoiled the “tottle” -
There still was pigeon-pie and lamb.

With cider, porter, port and sherry,
We managed vastly well to dine:
In spite of all, we were so merry -
But still the weather was not fine.

In fact, before we finished dinner,
There was a kind of Scottish mist;
And had our dresses been much thinner,
It might have made us somewhat triste.

But good stout silk is now the fashion -
My green one, though, was sadly spoiled;
Mamma flew into such a passion!
I could not help its being soiled.

We owe, however, to the shower
An unexpected source of mirth;
For, when the sky began to pour,
The men proposed a snugger berth:

Instead of getting wet by rowing,
They voted to return by land;
We all agreed, without well knowing
How we should ever reach the Strand.

Just while we wisely were debating,
An Omnibus appeared in sight,
Which quickly settled all our prating,
And very much to my delight:

Yet this machine could scarcely carry
The whole of four-and-twenty friends;
But, as it would not do to tarry,
We popped in all the odds and ends.

Such an odd, facetious journey!
We went so fast - ‘twas Jike a dream!
The coachman, quite another Gurney,
Only without that worthy’s steam.

In short, the whole was most delightful -
We wanted nothing, dear, but you;
And now, my paper being quite full,
I’ll only add - adieu! - adieu!

[Monthly Magazine.]

[Illustration: 175]




THE ANGLER AND THE FOWLER.

There the new-breeched urchin stands on the low bridge of the little bit
burnie! and with crooked pin, baited with one unwrithing ring of a dead
worm, and attached to a yarn-thread, for he has not yet got into hair,
and is years off gut, his rod of the mere willow or hazel wand, there
will he stand during all his play-hours, as forgetful of his primer as
if the weary art of printing had never been invented, day after day,
week after week, month after month, in mute, deep, earnest, passionate,
heart-mind-and-soul engrossing hope of some time or other catching a
minow or a beardie!

[Illustration: 178]

A tug - a tug! with face ten times flushed and pale by turns ere you
could count ten, he at last has strength, in the agitation of his fear
and joy, to pull away at the monster - and there he lies in his beauty
among the gowans on the greensward, for he has whapped him right over
his head and far away, a fish a quarter of an ounce in weight, and, at
the very least, two inches long! Off he flies, on wings of wind, to
his father, mother, and sisters, and brothers, and cousins, and all the
neighbourhood, holding the fish aloft in both hands, still fearful of
its escape, and, like a genuine child of corruption, his eyes brighten
at the first blush of cold blood on his small fishy-fumy fingers. He
carries about with him, up stairs and down stairs, his prey upon a
plate; he will not wash his hands before dinner, for he exults in the
silver scales adhering to the thumbnail, that scooped the pin out of the
baggy’s maw - and at night, “cabin’d, cribb’d, confined,” he is overheard
murmuring in his sleep, a thief, a robber, and a murderer, in his yet
infant dreams!

From that hour Angling is no more a mere delightful day-dream, haunted
by the dim hopes of imaginary minnows, but a reality - an art - a
science - of which the flaxen headed school-boy feels himself to be
master - a mystery in which he has been initiated, and off he goes
now, all alone, in the power of successful passion, to the distant
brook - brook a mile off - with fields, and hedges, and single trees, and
little groves, and a huge forest of six acres, between him and the house
in which he is boarded or was born! There flows on the slender music
of the shadowy shallows - there pours the deeper din of the birch-tree’d
waterfall. The sacred water-pyet flits away from stone to stone, and
dipping, disappears among the airy bubbles, to him a new sight of joy
and wonder. And oh! how sweet the scent of the broom or furze, yellowing
along the braes, where leap the lambs, less happy than he, on the knolls
of sunshine! His grandfather has given him a half-crown rod, in two
pieces - yes, his line is of hair twisted - platted by his own soon
instructed little fingers. By heavens, he is fishing with the fly! and
the Fates, who, grim and grisly as they are painted to be by full-grown,
ungrateful, lying poets, smile like angels upon the padler in the brook,
winnowing the air with their wings into western breezes, while at the
very first throw, the yellow trout forsakes his fastness beneath the
bog-wood, and with a lazy wallop, and then a sudden plunge, and then a
race like lightning, changes at once the child into the boy, and
shoots through his thrilling and aching heart the ecstacy of a new
life expanding in that glorious pastime, even as a rainbow on a sudden
brightens up the sky. _Fortuna favet fortibus_ - and with one long pull,
and strong pull, and pull altogether, Johnny lands a twelve incher on
the soft, smooth, silvery sand of the only bay in all the burn where
such an exploit was possible, and dashing upon him like an Osprey, soars
up with him in his talons to the bank, breaking his line as he hurries
off to a spot of safety, twenty yards from the pool, and then flinging
him down on a heath-surrounded plat of sheep-nibbled verdure, lets him
bounce about till he is tired, and lies gasping with unfrequent and
feeble motions, bright and beautiful, and glorious with all his yellow
light and crimson lustre, spotted, speckled, and starred in his scaly
splendour, beneath a sun that never shone before so dazzlingly; but now
the radiance of the captive creature is dimmer and obscured, for the
eye of day winks and seems almost shut behind that slow sailing mass of
clouds, composed in equal parts of air, rain, and sunshine.

Springs, summers, autumns, winters, - each within itself longer, by many
times longer than the whole year of grown up life, that slips at last
through one’s fingers like a knotless thread, - pass over the curled
darling’s brow, and look at him now, a straight and strengthy stripling,
in the savage spirit of sport, springing over rock-ledge after
rock-ledge, nor heeding aught as he splashes knee-deep, or waist-band
high, through river-feeding torrents, to the glorious music of his
running and ringing reel after a tongue-hooked salmon, insanely seeking
with the ebb of tide, but all in vain, the white breakers of the sea. No
hazel or willow wand, no half-crown rod of ash framed by village wright,
is now in his practised hands, of which the very left is dexterous: but
a twenty feet rod of Phin’s, all ring-rustling, and a-glitter with the
preserving varnish, limber as the attenuating line itself, and lithe
to its topmost tenuity as the elephant’s proboscis - the hiccory and the
horn without twist, knot, or flaw, from butt to fly, a faultless taper,
“fine by degrees, and beautifully less.” the beau ideal of a rod by the
skill of a cunning craftsman to the senses materialised! A fish-fat,
fair, and forty! “She is a salmon, therefore to be woo’d - she is a
salmon, therefore to be won” - but shy, timid, capricious, headstrong,
now wrathful, and now full of fear, like any other female whom the cruel
artist has hooked by lip or heart, and, in spite of all her struggling,
will bring to the gasp at last, and then with calm eyes behold her lying
in the shade dead, or worse than dead, fast-fading and to be reillumined
no more the lustre of her beauty, insensible to sun or shower, even the
most perishable of all perishable things in a world of perishing! - But
the salmon has grown sulky, and must be made to spring to the plunging
stone. There, suddenly, instinct with new passion, she shoots out of the
foam, like a bar of silver bullion; and, relapsing into the flood, is
in another moment at the very head of the water-fall! Give her the
butt - give her the butt - or she is gone for ever with the thunder into
ten fathom deep! Now comes the trial of your tackle - and when was
Phin ever known to fail at the edge of cliff or cataract? Her snout is
southwards - right up the middle of the main current of the hill-born
river, as if she would seek its very course where she was spawned! She
still swims swift, and strong, and deep - and the line goes, steady,
boys, steady - stiff and steady as a Tory in the roar of opposition.


1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryVariousOdd Volume → online text (page 6 of 13)