Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

a delicious sirup, which Mary sipped; and Nutcracker related his adventures at length, again repeating the praises of Mary. During the recital, Mary thought that the words of the prince became less and less distinct, and that the pages and the princesses lost by little and little their brilliant appearance; at last all gradually began to fade away with a wavy motion.

CHAPTER XII.-The Marriage.

[ocr errors]

Suddenly, with a prodigious noise, Mary thought that she fell from a terrible height, but, when she opened her eyes, she found herself in her little couch. Her mother stood beside it and said: “Well, how long do you mean to sleep? breakfast is just ready!'

O mamma, my dear mamma,' said Mary, I have been with young Mr. Pivot, and he showed me such beautiful sights.'

Then Mary related all about her travels to her mother, who said, • Really, my love, you have had a very fine dream; but you must put all that nonsense out of

your

head.' But Mary firmly held that she had not been dreaming. When she was dressed, her mother led her to the glass cabinet, and taking out Nutcracker, who was in his usual corner, said, “What a little goose you must be to think that this Tonbridge Wells toy is alive!

• But, dear mamma,' said Mary, “I know very well that Nutcracker is godpapa Pivot's nephew. Dr. Smallhorse, who just then entered the room, burst out laughing.

• You laugh at Nutcracker, papa,' said Mary, with tears in her eyes ; .but I am sure he spoke very respectfully of you when he presented me to the princesses, his sisters, at the castle of Alicumpane !'

The laughter increased, and her mother and Louisa and Frederick joined in it. Mary went and fetched the seven crowns of the rat-king, which Nutcracker had presented to her, on the preceding night, and showed them to her mother. Dr. S. examined, very much astonished, these little crowns, artistically formed; they did not look as if made by human hands, and they all insisted that Mary should tell the full truth about them. Mary did so, but they would not believe her, and her papa was very cross, and called her a story-teller. The poor little girl wept very much,

Suddenly the door opened, and godpapa Pivot entered. • Bless me, what's the matter,' said he; my darling Mary crying; what's it all about?'

Dr. S. told him, and showed him the crowns. When godpapa saw them, he began to laugh. These are,' said he, the little crowns I used to wear upon my watch-chain, and which I gave to Mary on her second birth-day, because she cried for them ; don't you all recollect ?'

Nobody recollected, and Mary, jumping on her godpapa's neck, said, Oh, god papa, you know all ; now do acknowledge that my Nutcracker is your nephew, and that he gave me these crowns!'

Godpapa made a grimace, but answered not; and Dr. S., kissing Mary, ordered her never to speak again of such foolishness, or else that he would throw her Nutcracker on the fire.

Mary spoke no more of her adventures ; but recollections of the wonderful country of puppets often came fresh on her mind in brilliant and laughing shapes.

One day, perhaps a year or two after the foregoing related events, it happened that a small party of juveniles was to assemble at the house of the worthy physician, Dr. s., on Twelfth Night, to eat cake, and draw for king and queen. When Mary was dressed to receive her little friends, she sat in the room where stood the cabinet, and she could not help going towards it to contemplate the Nutcracker. All at once she exclaimed, almost involuntarily, “Ah! Mr. Pivot, if you really were alive, I would not act like the princess Pearloprice: I would not repulse you because you were no longer a handsome young man!'

At the instant she finished speaking, there was such a sudden uproar that she fell nearly fainting upon a sofa. When she came to herself, she found her mother beside her supporting her, who said, “Why Mary, love, what's the matter, are you ill? I hope that you have not Jaced yourself too tight. Do you know godpapa is come, and brought with him his nephew from Tonbridge Wells; put on your gloves, and let us go; and mind and behave like a young lady.'

They found the commissioner in his best wig, and a new snuffcoloured coat, smiling with pleasure, and holding by the hand a youth, apparently two or three years older than Mary. The dress of this youth was the dress of Nutcracker, but the form and the face were sufficiently different, indeed they were both very tolerably handsome.

Mary became red as fire on observing this young man; and redder still, when, as they were dancing the first set, Louisa playing the piano, he being her partner, asked her to show him the cabinet chamber. When the quadrille was finished, they ran to the cabinet, hand in hand, and there he fell upon his knee, saying, ' Dear young lady, you see at your feet the now happy Pivot, whose life you saved on this very spot. You promised not to repulse me as did the princess Pearloprice, and then my original form returned. Sweetest young lady, grant me your hand ; share with me my kingdom and my crown; reign with me in the castle of Alicumpane, where I am the monarch.'

Mary raised him and said, in a low voice, “You are very agreeable and good, and, as you have a nice kingdom, I will accept you for my husband.'

In due course of time, Mary was wedded. Whether she was fetched in a golden coach, drawn by silver horses, --whether twenty-two thousand puppets, ornamented with pearls and diamonds, danced at her marriage, -whether she still reigns queen at Alicumpane Castle, must be left to the brilliant imagination of the courteous reader. It is my own private opinion that she is the happy wife of a celebrated and most respected barrister, who resides near Bedford-square.

W. L. T.

30

QUAKER WOMEN.

BY MIS, LEMAN GRIMSTONE.

THERE is an unfairness in the manner with which men meet innovation, which is deeply disgusting to the open, honest mind, however that mind may be armed by philosophy against the attack of such a feeling:

When we reflect on the power, the varieties of organizationin fact, when we look upon the whole chain of cause and effect; observing that the first of the one, and the last of the other, however remote, are yet in direct connexion, producing a power, independent of the creature, which, whether as passive, recipient, or active agent, is acted upon,—we cannot but agree with those philosophers who have asserted the folly of praise and blame; and who thus, at one fell swoop, level to its base the whole building of the cabinet of creeds. But the tremendous truth here recognised does not alter the nature of things. As long as human nature is human nature, moral attraction and repulsion will exist; the one winning approval or love, the other inducing disapproval or hatred, according to the strength of the feelings acted on.

Hence the necessarian, and the free-willist are, and ever will be, on a parity of circumstances regarding the effects of good and evil. Virtue and vice must in themselves ever remain the same; the happiness of the one, and the misery of the other, to the necessarian, appear inevitable consequences to the advocate of free-will, discretionary or proportionate reward and punishment; but the one, as the other, cries out against offences, for each alike feels that they inflict harm upon him.

I throw forth these observations as a sort of piquet guard, or bulwark, to defend me against charges of too great warmth on a subject, which, is the spirit leaves any record on the perishable material through which it acis, will be found, when that spirit is gone, graven on my heart. Would that I had ten thousand hearts, ten thousand lives, that I might work in one generation that which it will take many to effect.

When the axe of truth is laid to the tree of prejudice, no one can wonder that the monkeys should make a great jabbering among the boughs: the fall of the tree deprives them of the nuts they love to crack, and the husks with which they like to pelt people. But how can we spare to wonder, when those free to range the fields and breathe amid the bowers, join the senseless yell of the long-tails, and clamour, it would seem, more from common sympathy than common sense.

I am speaking now from the effects produced upon my mind by the noble William Ilowitt's essay on George Fox, and the article of an anonymous writer, in the same number of “Tait's Magazine,' on · Women of Business.'

How does the generously philosophic mind declare itself, when

William Howitt says, that we are not to judge a character by the occasional extravagance of a mind under strong excitement; that Boyle, the philosopher, had great faith in the marrow of the thigh-bone of a hanged man, for the cure of certain complaints; and left the recipe among his papers:' that, ‘Bacon, notwithstanding the wonderful advance of his mind beyond the mind of his own age, held some notions nearly as absurd : but who measures these great men by their foibles ? It would be easy to bring a ludicrous list of extravagances, follies, and eccentricities, committed by three-fourths of our martyrs and reformers; but it would be an invidious task. We have better things to estimate them by.'

When is this tone of thought and feeling adopted in considering the character and actions of women ? On that subject recourse is ever had to old stock notions and assertions, which are as suitable to the theme now as the old stock suits of the performers of past ages would be to the histrionic brotherhood of the present day.

The head and front of the offence (to me) of the paper on • Women of Business, consists in this assertion :

* That women are not capable of that self-abstraction—that concentration of the powers of the mind—that calm deliberate sobriety of contemplativeness, indispensable to statesmanship. With them the passions and the faculties are inextricably mingled in mutual reaction. Their moral, no less than their physical organization, interdicts their interference in the mighty strife of political warfare.'

The cloven foot of the narrow politician appears in this paragraph, which the after allusion to Lord Durham makes yet more intelligible. The changes which are circulating with the vital currents of this country will mount upwards to the throne; but that will not be till a young branch waves its green honours there. Though no idolater of royalty, glad shall I be to see the day when I may bend in heart homage to the anointed head of one who loves humanity-who looks upon a people with a wish to do much for them, not to make the most of them.

So long as thrones be necessary, blest will be the lands which see them filled by such as rise to them in the spirit of the age in which they live, and of the people they are appointed to govern.

As for political strife,' I hope that, like the strife of war, is passing away; and that the irrational spirit among men, which necessitated the exclusion of women, is yielding to the rational spirit which will admit their co-operation. Of old, cobalt was thrown aside by miners as useless: they regarded it as such an annoyance when found among the ores, that there was a prayer used in the German church, that God would preserve miners from cobalt and evil spirits. The oxide of cobalt forms the most permanent blue colour with which we are acquainted; and the

ances.

painter now, through knowledge, prizes that which the miner then, through ignorance, despised. A parallel case (the simile is unworthy of my subject) will occur when the noble energies and genial feelings of woman are once fairly in action on the affairs of life. Men will laugh at their prejudiced progenitors, as the painter now smiles at the ignorant miner; and, exulting in the possession of female aid, pity the age which wanted it.

What disposition to political strife there is now existing lies with the Conservatives (they are losing the nuts and the husks.) The liberal Whig and the enlightened Radical are showing a spirit which will shed an undying distinction on the present day. The men of England and Scotland have proved themselves, without violence, invincible may the men of Ireland join the fraternity and act as well ;—but they, like women, exist under the operation of circumstances and prejudices, which make the mischief for which they are blamed.

It is not such instances as those of Louisa of Savoy, or Margaret of Angoulême, or of others far greater who have figured on the field of politics, from which opinions of the sex can justly be drawn. Political great women, like the same order of men, are rarely other than mere puppets; some merry-andrew, who stands out of sight, is pulling the wires which prompt their perform

Examples, which may index a sex, must be sought among those in whom nature has had most fair play; and no matter what their field of action, to that field we must look for the evidence of what nature, so treated, has enabled them to do. This field is to be found in common life; but few think it worth while, for the conduct of men, far less for the conduct of women, to explore it. Such moralists (more often maligners) exhibit some such a proof of wisdom as the naturalist would display, who, instead of plunging into field and forest, preferred peeping into the gilded cages of parroquets and cockatoos.

Men have long held the pike and the pen; and the world hath seen much bloodshed and inkshed: the one has been used to justify the other. But the day has come when the pike is being superseded by the pen ; when the high spirit necessary to wield the one is striking down the strong arm which can only lift the other. The fine essence of the female mind was prisoned up so long as it could not come abroad without being mingled with tobacco and gunpowder smoke; but as all sorts of ruffianisms subside, that essence will more and more steal forth and contribute to confirm and endear the intellectual daylight which is gaining on the world.

The writer on "Women of Business' sounds an alarum with the names of Napoleon, Byron, and Talleyrand, who are described as having preferred the dove to the serpent. (What an absence of self-love this showed !) If lions and tigers ever learn to write, what counterstatements we shall have to put against

« VorigeDoorgaan »