Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

livered to the Lord Mayor of that import that a rising was expected last night, and many indeed have been the affronts offered from the apprentices to the redcoats of late. Late last night was likewise a proclamation made up and down the town, to prohibit the contriving and subscribing any such petitions or papers for the future. (Dec. 3d, 1659.)

66

[ocr errors]

In

The proclamation was entirely ineffective, the excitement in the city continued to increase, and two days later a riot took place in which several lives were lost. Yesterday's fray in London," wrote Pepys to Montagu, "will most likely make a great noise in the country, and deservedly as being the soonest began, the hottest in the pursuit, and the quietest in the close, of any we have hitherto known. the morning a Common Council being met, some young men in the name of the city apprentices presented their petition... to the Lord Mayor and Common Council. This meeting of the youth was interpreted as the forerunner of an insurrection, and to prevent that, the soldiers were all, horse and foot, drawn into the City, which the apprentices, by another mistake, thought to be done on purpose to prevent the delivery of their petition. Hence arose jealousies on both sides, so far that the shops throughout London were shut up, the soldiers as they marched were hooted at all along the streets, and where any straggled from the whole body, the boys flung stones, tiles, turnips, etc., with all the affronts they could give them; some they disarmed and kicked, others abused the horse with stones and rubbish they flung at them; and when Colonel Hewson came in the head of his regiment they shouted all along 'A cobbler, A cobbler; in some places the apprentices would get a football (it being a hard frost) and drive it among the soldiers on purpose, and they either durst not (or prudently would not) interrupt them; in fine, many soldiers were hurt with stones, and one I see was very near having his brains knocked out with a brickbat flung from the top of an house at him. On the other side the soldiers proclaimed the proclamation against any subscriptions, which the

boys shouted at in contempt, which some could not bear, but let fly their muskets, and killed in several places (whereof I see one in Cornhill shot through the head) six or seven, and several wounded. About four of the City trained-bands were up, but nothing passed between the soldiers and them but sour looks. Toward evening the Mayor sent six aldermen and six Common Councilmen to desire the remanding of the soldiers out and they would undertake the quieting of the city, which was not then granted, so the soldiers took possession of the gates all night, but by morning they were withdrawn out of the City (having only pulled down the gates at Temple-Bar) and all now quiet as ever." (Dec. 6th, 1659.)

But if the City was for a moment peaceful and submissive, the country was beginning to join in the movement against the domination of the Army. Monk's soldiers were ranked on the northern border waiting only their general's signal to march into England. The fleet in the Downs was preparing its defection, and in Hampshire and Sussex the leaders of the expelled Parliament were gathering men and making ready for an appeal to arms. In the letter in which Pepys describes the riot, he announces also that Portsmouth and its garrison had declared for the Parliament, and two days later that Plymouth and Colchester had followed Portsmouth's example. Berkshire is on the point of rising, and the city every hour expresses a greater dissatisfaction than before, and what by the pulling down of Temple-Bar gates, sending hand-grenadoes to Paul's, Sion College and other places, are exasperated beyond hopes of a reconciliation. Never was there so universal a fear and despair as now."

66

Unluckily the letters which should contain an account of the sudden revolution which so soon followed are not to be found. An account by Pepys of the dramatic scenes of December 24th would have been invaluable. Even Mercurius Politicus, the dullest of newspapers, becomes animated when it describes the repentant mutineers marching down Chancery Lane to Lenthall's house at the Rolls, and hail

ing him as their general and the father of their country. But if Pepys described these sights either Montagu forgot to keep his letters, or Carte omitted to steal them. Still, few though the letters which have been

preserved are, they not only make the early life of Pepys clearer, but some touches in them suggest and seem to anticipate the Diary.-Macmillan's Magazine.

CHARACTER NOTE. THE OLD SCHOOL.

My Lady is seventy years old. My Lady is little and stout, with very white hair, very blue eyes, and a soft color on her cheeks, like a girl's. She is the widow of a knighted alderman-has been a widow, perhaps, twenty yearsand is still faithful to the smallest and most unreasonable of the wishes he left behind him.

My Lady is not at all up to date. She was a girl at the time when the young person worked samplers and copied out recipes. There is a picture of her taken at this interesting period, on a cabinet in the drawing-room, at eighteen years old, with a waist scarcely so many inches round, sandal shoes, curls, and soft shoulders peeping above her frock.

She has remained all her life quite simple, narrow, and old-fashioned. If she is proud of anything, it is of her knowledge of a culinary mystery called stock. She can, and does, repeat by heart twenty-three different methods of dressing calves' head. She trots-a stout trot now, but still an active onein and out of her kitchen. If her servants did not love her-which by reason of her sweet goodness they cannot help doing they would hate her indeed. My Lady's blue eyes are quick to perceive a domestic neglect or oversight. She dusts her priceless chinastored away in the most barbarous of cabinets with her own hands, which are very plump, little, and delicate. She likewise attends herself to the well being of those waxen roses and camellias which she modelled in the early days of her marriage, and which have been since religiously preserved under glass shades, and are a memory of that dead art called the Elegant Accomplishment.

My Lady's household is hedged about with immemorial rules and customs. The drawing room curtains, of a massive damask, are nightly rolled up, and, as it were, put to bed. Sunday would seem secular indeed unless there were kidneys for breakfast and dinner at five. On Sunday evenings, too, My Lady in her old voice sings hymns to herself at the grand piano. She has been known, in her simple faltering tones, to take the "Hallelujah Chorus as a solo. She plays instrumental music softly to herself in the firelight, being quite undaunted by the fact that she is too stout to cross one hand over the other when the music so requires.

My Lady has a great many visitorsmodern, enlightened visitors, in the shape of great nieces and nephews for the most part-who find the house an exceedingly trying one to stay in, and are yet perpetually staying in it. There is a brown sweetness about the sherry and a solemn heaviness about the port which has nearly-but not quiteturned them into teetotallers. One of them, who is entirely pert and up to date, finds it necessary to bury her fashionable head deep in the sofa cushion during family prayers.

"Auntie, you know," says Up to Date, "can't have the ghost of a sense of humor. Who ever heard of thanking Providence for balmy air with the thermometer at zero, and praying for the children of the household when there aren't any?

[ocr errors]

It is very likely true that My Lady's sense of the ridiculous is not very keen. She reads a portion of Scripture nightly-preferably some portion particularly unsuited for the edification of a family

with her sweet face very grave, tender, and good. Perhaps she thinks

who knows? so many of My Lady's ideas are effete and exploded-that because the Bible is the Bible there can be no part of it not fit, suitable, and ennobling; or perhaps her gentle soul is so near heaven that it can be lifted there even by an historical narrative or an illogical petition.

Up to Date is further aggravated by My Lady's charities. My Lady is wealthy or would be wealthy if the world were not so full of trouble, sickness, and, alas! mendicity. Her relatives say that she is horribly cheated. They may be right. She tries to be just. She does not spare herself trouble to find out if her pensioners are deserving. She toils asthmatically up flights of stairs to see them. All the morning long she writes letters to get persons into hospitals or asylums or homes. It is said that the letters are not very well worded, and are even confusingly expressed. The aspiring young lady of the Board School has, in fact, received a far better education in such matters than My Lady, whose highest literary endeavor is a daily reading of the "Times," in accordance with the desire of the late alderman.

My Lady, who thinks only of others, is herself thought for by her maid-a maid who is roughly estimated to be about seventy-six, and who has been in My Lady's service since she was seventeen. Anna, who wears three tight curls on each side of her face, which the most vivid imagination cannot suppose to have ever been beautiful, pours into My Lady's glass, with a shaking old hand, the proper quantity of whisky ordered by the doctor. "Lor', mum, says Anna, "you're none so young, and must do as you're told." Likewise, if My Lady does not eat what Anna esteems a sufficient quantity, Anna is quite angry, trembling and upset for the rest of the day. Anna helps My Lady to dress in the morning, and My Lady kisses her when they say "Goodnight."

[ocr errors]

But the great love of My Lady's heart goes out to her nephew. Why, God knows. Unless she fancies in her tender soul that the baby who lay forty years ago for one brief day upon her breast might have been, if he had lived,

just such a fine, strong, handsome fellow.

Phil breaks into My Lady's solemn dining-room where she sits at her orderly luncheon or dinner. Phil has an insolent swagger about him which he mistakes-and other people mistake, My Lady among them-for bonne camaraderie and frankness. Phil leaves traces of his muddy boots upon My Lady's immaculate carpets. When he talks to her-a familiar parlance in which he usually addresses her as "Old Sally"-he beats the dust out of his riding-breeches with his crop. My Lady listens to his hunting stories, of which she understands, perhaps, scarcely a single word, with the simplest and most attentive interest, and with a tender little smile on her old face. Some of his anecdotes bring a little blush into her cheeks; and when he damns his friends, his luck, or whatever seems to him to stand in most need of condemnation, My Lady says "Hush, Phil," quite sternly, and forgives him at once. My Lady forgives worse than that. When Phil is discovered, flagrante delicto, embracing a housemaid, and defends himself by saying "Confound it, old lady, there's no harm in that," My Lady dismisses the housemaid with a stern reproof, and Phil comes to dinner, as usual, the next week. Phil, moreover, has debts which he takes his oath, old woman, he can't tell how he incurred. If he went down on his knees to her and was abject, suppliant, and repentant, My Lady might think twice before she paid them. But she mistakes-she is not the first insolence, swagger, and bravado for openness, honesty, and that particularly indefinite quality which is called a good heart. Phil shouts rollicking hunting songs in the prim drawing-room, and My Lady anxiously hastens her accompaniment to keep time with him. She sometimes tries herself a verse or two of the comic melody he is learning. My Lady, stout and innocent, singing the last slang of a music hall in her pretty old voice, with her tender, simple face bent seriously over the music, has an effect strangely incongruous and odd, and Phil says" Old Sally's going it! Sally's

game, and no mistake." And My Lady says, "No bad words, Phil," which amuses Phil stupendously, and continues as before.

Phil, upon his oath as usual, assures My Lady one day in the course of conversation that he is an excellent man of business. My Lady says "Are you, dear?" quite simply. She is making tea in the drawing-room after dinnera tea with a pretty accompaniment of old china and the most solid and massive of silver.

knows? Later is found among her papers the rough draft of a letter in which she begs humbly the charity of a rich relative for the most necessitous of such cases. On another paper she has drawn up a system of expenditure, full of details the most practical and domestic, for herself and a reduced household, which may still leave her something to give away. After luncheon, at which Anna sheds tears into the vegetable dishes, and kisses My Lady spasmodically, My Lady interviews the other servants. The gardener, who has loved and cheated his mistress for forty years, and is a person of plain and familiar speech, tells her that she may give him warning if she likes, but that leave her service he can't and won't. The old coachman, who has lorded it over My Lady from the coachbox since he was one-and-twenty, and has never permitted her to use the unwieldy carriagehorses more than twice a week, inquires laconically, "Wot's wages ?" and an

nounces that 'osses or no 'osses he is going to stick by My Lady. The cook -an emotional thing of five-and-forty

"Yes, by George !" says Phil, who has stretched himself upon the sofa, where he is kicking about, unreproved, My Lady's best worsted-work cushions. "I could take a lot of trouble off your hands, old woman, if you'd like me to." My Lady will think about it. She knows very little about money matters, the alderman having arranged all those things for her. But she does think about it, and Phil, who is nothing if not good-natured, takes the trouble off her hands without a murmur. Three months later he takes off himself and thirty thousand pounds to South America. The lawyer whose duty it is to in--bursts into fat tears, and for the first form My Lady of her ruin is surprised time My Lady's blue eyes are momentaat the old woman's courage and com- rily wet. posure. The color fades, indeed, out of her cheeks, but her voice is quite firm and dignified, and she makes arrangements for the future with a clearness and conciseness of which in her prosperity she was incapable. When Anna is told the pitiful story, and puts her tender, feeble arms round My Lady's neck and cries, My Lady's own eyes are quite dry.

66

66

Master Phil!" says Anna, with her curls shaking, as was such a fine baby and all! Master Phil !" But My Lady says nothing. All that morning she sits at her writing-desk as usual, and writes for many hours. She has to tell innumerable charities that their faithful subscriber, who has taken their emotional appeals au pied de la lettre, and believed that every fresh charity is, as it declares itself, the most deserving in all London, must be faithless to them at last. She writes also to many needy curates, distressed gentlewomen, and reclaimed inebriates, whom she has supported or helped. With what pangs in her kindly and trusting heart who

You have all," she says gently, "been very good to me, and I thank you from my heart."

Then they leave her alone. What thoughts keep her company in that long twilight, none know. She has been rich for seventy years, and is poor. She has lost affluence, which is bitter perhaps, and an ideal, which has the bitterness of death. She looks long at a picture of Phil which stands on her table-Phil as a boy at school, bold, handsome, and daring-and she kisses him with pale lips. It is a farewell. Phil has died to her forever.

Anna dresses her as usual that night for dinner. My Lady, with her sweet face framed in the soft frills of the widow's cap-which she still wears in tender memory of the alderman-reads the "Times" as usual by the lamplight in the drawing-room afterward. She plays a little on the piano. There are some of Phil's songs lying among her music. She puts them away, with fingers that scarcely tremble, in a portfolio by themselves. It is like a burial.

Anna brings in the tea at nine. My Lady makes it with her usual dainty precision. The emotional cook has evinced her sympathy by toasting an especially fascinating muffin. My Lady looks up at Anna with a little smile, and says she must not hurt cook's feelings by leaving it. Almost as she says the words Anna startles the house with a cry. My Lady has had a paralytic stroke.

Through a wider and wiser mercy than any which is of this world, My Lady never recovers her memory. Sometimes she fancies herself a girl again, white-frocked, auburn-haired, like her picture in the drawing-room.

At others she sends messages to the kitchen à propos of the alderman's birthday dinner. Is vaguely troubled, perhaps, for a moment that he does not come to her, and the next, has forgotten him altogether. Once Anna, stooping over her bed, hears her breathe Phil's fatal name softly to herself. But My Lady's face is more tranquil than summer starlight, and from her broken words it is gathered that she has confused, in some God-given confusion, the living sinner with the dead baby of fiveand-forty years ago. And she dies with Phil's name and a smile together upon her lips.-Cornhill Magazine.

THE CRADLE OF THE LAKE POETS.

BY WILLIAM CONNOR SYDNEY.

MORE than forty years have passed away since the last of the survivors of the Lake school of English poetry paid the great debt which humanity owes to Nature. Full of years and full of honors, crowned with the warm love and sincere esteem of his fellow-citizens, William Wordsworth descended to the grave in 1850, having, like the patriarch of old, seen the desire of his eyes and peace upon Israel. In common with two other illustrious bards, Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poetical lucubrations of Wordsworth had marked a distinct epoch in the annals of English verse. Of that school -a school of which the admirers are not a few even in this prosaic decade of the nineteenth century-much has been said and still more has been written, and we have no intention in this paper of returning to the subject, perennially interesting as it is. Rather would we Rather would we ask our readers to accompany us in thought to a sequestered nook of the West of England where the three great seers we have named, who have long since joined the choir invisible," in company with others, passed a portion, and not the least noteworthy portion, of their early careers, and which is associated with some of the pleasantest memories in the lives of each, and to

bear with us while we discuss, necessarily somewhat at random, concerning them.

We doubt very seriously whether as many as four persons out of five, even of well-educated persons, would be able to give a correct reply off-hand to an interrogatory respecting the exact locality of the Quantock Hills. They are not in Devonshire, nor are they in Gloucestershire. A glance at the map of Somersetshire will show that the mountain range of the Quantocks, "the Oberland of Somersetshire" as it has been aptly designated by one of the most eminent local antiquaries, takes its rise above the wide plain of Bridgwater and the smiling valley of Taunton. Thence it continues for nearly sixteen miles in a direction from south-east to northwest between the Bristol Channel and Taunton, attaining its loftiest elevation at Wilsneck, an eminence which rises between the two rival heights of Cothelstone and Donisborough. The locality has been carefully investigated by Nichols, who has meditated upon its myriad associations, historical, classical, poetical, and mythological, and has written a book upon the subject, of which we may say what the gentle Abraham Cowley said of the message which he received from Jersey:

« VorigeDoorgaan »