Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

they pursued, or the results which en- of gentleman's boots, but that he could sued from it. It is sufficient to say that not find the gentleman. Some one conno public officer ever threw himself so nected with the railway recollected that heartily into his work as Mr. Buckland. Mr. Buckland had been seen in the His zeal frequently led him into impru- neighborhood, and, knowing his eccendences which would have told severely tricities, inferred that the boots inust on a less robust constitution, and which belong to him. They were accordingly perhaps had the effect of shortening his sent to the Home Office and were at own life. He has been known to wade once claimed. up to his neck in water, and change his We have said that he rarely wore a clothes driving away from the river on greatcoat, and when he did so it was apthe box of a fly. This was an excep- parently more for the value of the additional case ; but it was a common thing tional pockets it contained than for its for him to sit for hours in wet boots. warmth. One of his good stories turned He rarely wore a great coat ; he never on this. He had been to France, and owned a railway rug; he took a delight was returning, vid Southampton, with in cold, and frequently compared him- an overcoat stuffed with natural history self to a Polar bear, which languished specimens of all sorts dead and alive. in the heat and revived in the frost. Among thein was a monkey, which was The pleasure which Mr. Buckland de- domiciled in a large inside breast-pockrived from cold accounted for many of et. As Buckland was taking his ticket, his eccentricities. Even in winter he Jocko thrust up his head and attracted wore the smallest amount of clothing; the attention of the booking-clerk, who in summer he discarded almost all cloth. immediately and very properly) said, ing. The illustrated papers, which have “You must take a ticket for that dog, published portraits of him at home, have if it's going with you. "Dog!" said given their readers a very inaccurate Buckland ; "it's no dog, it's a monidea of his appearance at his house in key." “ It is a dog," replied the clerk. Albany Street. Those were very rare “It's a monkey," retorted Buckland, and occasions on which he wore a coat at proceeded to show the whole animal, home. His usual dress was a pair of but without convincing the clerk, who trousers and a flannel shirt ; he deferred insisted on five shillings for the dogputting on socks and boots till he was ticket to London. Nettled at this, starting for his office. Even on inspec- Buckland plunged his hand into another tions he generally appeared at breakfast pocket and produced a tortoise, and layin the same attire, and on one occasion ing it on the sill of the ticket window, he left a large country house, in which said, “ Perhaps you'll call that a dog he was staying, with no other garments too.” The clerk inspected the tortoise.

While he was driving in a dogcart“No," said he,“ we make no charge to the station, he put on his boots, and for them-they're insects." as the train was drawing up to the sta- If a close observer were asked to tion, at which a deputation of country mention the chief quality which Mr. gentlemen was awaiting him, he said Buckland developed as Inspector of with a sigh that he must begin to dress. Fisheries, he would probably reply a Boots were in fact his special aversion. capacity for managing men. He had He lost no opportunity of kicking them the happiest way of conciliating opposioff his feet. On one occasion, travelling tion and of carrying an even hostile aualone in a railway carriage, he fell asleep dience with him. It frequently occurred with his feet resting on the window-sill. that the fishermen at the many inquiries As usual he kicked off his boots and which his colleague and he held, looked they fell outside the carriage on the line. in the first instance with suspicion on When he reached his destination the the inspectors. They never looked with boots could not, of course, be found, suspicion on them when they went away. and he had to go without them to his The ice of reserve was thawed by the hotel. The next morning a platelayer warmth of Mr. Buckland's genial manner; examining the permanent way, came and the men who, for the first half hour, upon the boots and reported to the shrank from imparting information, in traffic manager that he had found a pair the next three hours vied with one another

on.

[ocr errors]

in contributing it. Mr. Buckland was exceptionally offensive, he said to the equally at ease with more educated au- boots of a very smart hotel, “I think diences, though in their case he was per- you had better put this bag into the haps less uniformly successful. If he cellar, as I should not be at all surprised had been a politician, he would have if it smelt by to-morrow morning. been a greater mob orator than Parlia- The love of fun and laughter which mentary debater. But the higher classes, was perceptible while he was transacting like the lower classes, could not resist the dullest business, distinguished him the warmth of his manner or the ring of equally as a writer, It was his object, his laughter. He could not, in the most so he himself thought, to make natural serious conversation, refrain from his history practical ; but it was his real misjoke ; and some persons will recollect sion to make natural history and fishhow on one occasion he was descanting, culture popular. He popularized everyat a formal meeting, on the advantages thing that he touched, he hated the sciwhich would ensue from the formation entific terms which other naturalists emof a fishery district. “You will be ployed, and invariably used the simplest appointed a conservator, and then you language for describing his meaning. will impose license duties, and the money His writings were unequal ; some of -probably 300l.—will be paid to you. them are not marked by any exceptional “ And what shall I do then ?" inquired qualities. But others of them, such as the listener. 'Why, then,' replied the best parts of the “ Curiosities of NaMr. Buckland, “you had better bolt tural History," and " The Royal Acadwith it."

emy without a Catalogue" are admirable His love of a joke distinguished him examples of good English, keen critical as a lecturer. He remembered his observation and rich humor. His best father's lectures, and always thought it things, he used to say himself, were his first duty to make his audience written on the box of an omnibus or in laugh ; and he had a dozen stories ready a railway carriage. “The Royal Acadto provoke laughter. The excuse of a emy without a Catalogue, was written milk-boy, on a fish being found in the between London and Crewe, and posted milk—" Please, sir, mother forgot to at the latter station. He had originally strain the water -was one of those acquired the art of writing in a railway which did frequent duty. The same train from the late Bishop of Oxford. love of a joke followed him on his He practised it with as much zeal as official inquiries. He left on one occa- the bishop did, and with as good effect. sion a parcel of stinking fish, which he The more labored compositions which had carried about with him, and forgot- Mr. Buckland undertook did not always ten, neatly done up in paper, in a fash- contain equal traits of happy humor. ionable thoroughfare in Scotland, and He was at his best when he took the stood at the hotel window to watch the least pains, and a collection of his very face of the first person who examined it. best pieces would deserve a permanent He amused himself, one Sunday even- place in any collection of English esing, on another occasion, in making says. herring-roe out of tapioca pudding and Desultory work of this character made whisky, to puzzle the witnesses whom he Mr. Buckland's name a household world was to examine on the Monday; and he throughout the country. His articles raised a laugh on a third occasion by were copied and recopied into various telling a witness, who said he was newspapers, and obtained, in this way, shoemaker, that to judge from the hundreds of thousands of readers. But, appearance

of the children's feet, he at the same time, this desultory work should think he had a very poor trade. necessarily prevented him from accomThroughout his journeys specimens of plishing any literary task of first-rate exevery kind, living, dying, and dead, cellence. Some of his personal popuwere thrown into his bag, possibly to larity was thus purchased at the cost of keep company with his boots or his his future reputation; and a mass of clothes. The odor of the bag usually knowledge has died with him which increased with the length of the inspec- might otherwise have been preserved. tion, and on one occasion, when it was It is no exaggeration to say that he had

a

collected during his busy life a vast store land's characteristics. His kindliness of information. He had trained him was another. Perhaps no man ever lived self to observe, and his eye rarely missed with a kinder heart. It may be doubted anything. He thought that he had facts whether he ever willingly said a hard at his disposal which would have enabled word or did a hard action. He used to him to answer the great doctrines which say of one gentleman, by whom he Mr. Darwin has unfolded. Evolution' thought he had been aggrieved, that he was eminently distasteful to him ; only had forgiven him seventy times seven two days before his death, in revising already; so that he was not required to the preface of his latest work, he delib- forgive him any more. He could not erately expressed his disbelief in it, and resist a cry of distress, particularly if it he used to dispose of any controversy came from a woman. Women, he used on the subject by saying, “My father to say, are such doe-like, timid things, was Dean of Westminster. I was brought that he could not bear to see them unup in the principles of Church and happy. One night, walking from his State ; and I will never admit it-I will office, he found a poor servant girl crynever admit it.

ing in the street. She had been turned Though, however, on such occasions out of her place that morning as unequal as these Mr. Buckland used the language to her duties ; she had no money and of advanced Tories, he habitually shrank no friends nearer than Taunton, where from political discussion. He declared her parents lived. Mr. Buckland took that he did not understand politics, and her to an eating-house, gave her a dinthat he reserved himself for his own im- ner, drove her to Paddington, paid for mediate pursuits. Into these pursuits her ticket, and left her in charge of the he threw himself with his whole energy ; guard of the train. His nature was so and his energy was extraordinary. The simple and generous that he did not greatest example of it was in the search even then seem to realize that he had which he made for John Hunter's done an exceptionally kind action. coffin in the vaults of St. Martin's A volume might perhaps be filled with Church. He literally turned over every an account of Mr. Buckland's eccentricoffin in the church before he found the cities. When he was studying oysters, one of which he was in search, spending he would never allow any one to speak; a whole fortnight among the dead. He the oysters, he said, overheard the conwas ultimately rewarded by obtaining a versation and shut up their shells. More grave for his hero's remains in West- inanimate objects than oysters were enminster Abbey. John Hunter was his dowed by him with sense. He had altypical hero. He had pursued the stud- most persuaded himself that inanimate ies to which Mr. Buckland also devoted things could be spiteful ; and he used to himself. He had founded a great mu- say that he would write a book on their seum. He had almost originated a sci- spitefulness. If a railway lamp did not ence. Like John Hunter, one of Mr. burn properly, he would declare it was Buckland's main objects was to form a sulky, and throw it out of window to see collection which would illustrate the if it could find a better master. He whole science of fish-culture. The mu- punished his portmanteau on one occaseum at South Kensington, which he has sion by knocking it down, and the portleft to the nation, exists as a proof of manteau naturally revenged itself by his success. Inferior, of course, to the breaking all the bottles of specimens similar collections in the Smithsonian which it contained, and emptying their Museum of the United States, it forms contents on its master's shirts. To proan unequalled example of what one man vide himself against possible disasters, may accomplish by energy and industry. he used to carry with him an armory of Thousands of persons have interested implements. On the herring inquiry he themselves in fish-culture from seeing went to Scotland with six boxes of cithe museum ; and the collection has gars, four dozen pencils, five knives, and long formed one of the most popular de- three thermometers. On his return, partments of the galleries at South Ken- three weeks afterward, he produced one sington.

solitary pencil, the remnant of all this Energy was only one of Mr. Buck- property. The knives were lost, the

men.

cigars were smoked ; one thermometer 'I wish to be present at this operation, had lost its temper, and been thrown was his quaint reply to the proposal of out of window; another had been his surgeon that he should take chlorodrowned in the Pentland Frith, and a form, and his wonderful vitality enabled third had beaten out its own brains him to survive for months under sufferagainst the bottom of a gunboat. No ings which would have crushed other human being could have told the fate of He is gone : his work is of the the pencils.

past ; and posterity will coldly examine Such were some of the eccentricities its merits. But his friends will not paof a man who will, it may be hoped, be tiently wait the verdict of posterity. recollected by the public for the work When they recollect his rare powers of which he did, and by his friends for his observation, his capacity of expressing kindliness, his humor, and his worth. his ideas, his quaint humor, his kindly As he lived, so he died. Throughout a heart, and open hand, they will say with long and painful illness his spirits never the writer, we shall not soon look on his failed, and his love of fun never ceased. like again.—Macmillan's Magazine.

MR. WHYMPER'S ASCENT OF CHIMBORAZO,

a

The ascent of Chimborazo and other deed, he is now more desirable as lofty peaks of the Andes was an object guide than he was twenty years ago, inworthy the ambition of one who had creased experience having somewhat gained the highest fame as an Alpine toned his impetuosity and rendered him mountaineer. But Edward Whymper is more prudent, though not less able. not merely a daring climber and suc- He preferred to take his cousin Louis cessful explorer ; he is an intelligent to any other man. Louis was at once and observant traveller, such as Hum- the biggest and the youngest of the three boldt would have welcomed as a pupil -indeed, he was, I think, the biggest and comrade. The book which he is man on board the ship. preparing on the Andes will be one of " At Jamaica we got a run on shore the most important additions to the li- while the ship remained at Kingston, brary of modern travel. We have no

We have no and made an excursion to the mounwish to anticipate the pages of that tains at the back of the military station, work, but we are enabled, from letters Newcastle, a height of nearly five thoureceived from Mr. Whymper, and from sand feet, and saw from our highest notes since supplied, to present a per- point both the northern and the southsonal narrative of some of his adventur- ern sides of the island. We remarked ous exploits in South America.

that the hills were much better clothed “ We left Southampton,” says Mr. than the natives, and we were surprised Whymper in his first letter to us, “ on at the extremely small amount of cloththe 3d of November, 1879, on board the ing which is tolerated in the island. Royal Mail steamer, the Don. The There was grosser and more palpable party consisted at leaving only of my- nakedness visible here than in any other self and of Jean-Antoine and Louis Car- place which we visited-stark, staring rel-two Italian mountaineers who ac- nakedness, for which there is, however companied me throughout. You will some excuse. Jamaica, although several probably remember that Jean-Antoine degrees north of the Equator, is considCarrel was a very old acquaintance, but erably hotter than most places in South should you have forgotten, you will find America which are actually on the line. all about him in my recently-published “ Just as the Don was leaving Kingsbook, ' The Ascent of the Matterhorn,' ton we heard that there had been a great and you will see there that I pointed storm at Colon, and arriving off that him out many years ago as one of the place we found a number of ships ashore, best mountaineers of the time, and as and several hopelessly wrecked. The the finest cragsman I had ever seen. railroad was stopped, the telegraph Age has not lessened his ability-in- was destroyed at numerous places,

were at

and nine days passed before we could and on arrival at Bodegas one of the cross to Panama, and even then the first things I did was to say to an old transit took more than thirteen hours, resident, "Oh, please, Mr. T., I want instead of the four hours which it is supposed to occupy. This was just be- ceeded once or twice they will venture to take fore the visit of M. Lesseps to the Isth- men or women from the balsas, if they can surmus, and many persons wished—some prise them when asleep; but they are remarkironically, though more from good-will ably timid, and any noise will drive them from

their purpose. They have also been known --that that distinguished individual had

to swim alongside a small canoe and to sud. arrived a little earlier, in order that he denly place one of their paws on the edge and might have been an eye-witness of the upset it

, when they immediately seize the untremendous rainfalls which can occur in wary victim. Whenever it is known that a

cebado, one that has devoured either a human this region, and do occur at irregular in- being or cattle, is in the neighborhood, all the tervals. At one place the River Chagres people join in the common cause to destroy it ; rose forty feet in a few hours, and this this they often effect by means of a noose of not at a point where the river was nar.

strong hide rope, baited with some animal rowed. To make the river rise this food; when the lagarto seizes the bait its up

per jaw becomes entangled with the rope, and amount the floods had first to spread the people immediately attack it with their over an immense extent of the surround- lances and generally kill it. ing country ; and they performed won- “ The natives sometimes divert themselves ders of destruction, floating away houses

in catching the lagartos alive ; they employ

two methods, equally terrific and dangerous to bodily, transporting massive iron tanks

a spectator at first sight ; both of these were long distances, and even drowning alli- exhibited to Count Ruis, when we gators. The bodies of several were ly- Babahoyo, on our way to Quito. A man takes ing high and dry by the side of the track

in his right hand a truncheon, called a tolete ;

this is of hard wood, about two feet long, havas we passed along.

ing a ball formed at each end, into which are “ This part of the world is famous for fastened twu harpoons, and to the middle of alligators, and especially the River This truncheon a platted thong is fastened. The Guayas, up which our course led in go- river, and holds it horizontally on the surface ing from Panama to Guayaquil, though, of the water, grasping a dead fowl with the to tell the truth, we saw but few until same hand, and swimming with the other ; he we got higher up than that point. “Oh!' places himself in a right line with the lagarto, they said at Guayaquil, you must not which is almost sure to dart at the fowl ; when expect to see many here, or until you get tical position, and at the moment that the jaw

this happens the truncheon is placed in a vera long way up the river, away from the of the lagarto is thrown up the tolete is thrust steamers, and then you will see them by into the mouth, so that when the jaw falis the thousand !! Well, though we did down again the two harpoons become fixed, not see quite so many as that, we saw

and the animal is dragged to the shore by the

cord fastened to the tolete. When on shore the quite enough. In some places the steep appearance of the lagarto is really most horrimud-banks by the river-side were black ble; his enormous jaws propped up by the with them, and on one sand-bank I tolete, showing his large sharp teeth ; his eyes counted thirty-six all in a row, lying side projecting almost out of his head ; the pale red by side, so close that a baby alligator as well as that of the roof of the mouth; the

color of the fleshy substance on his under jaw, could scarcely have toddled up between impenetrable armor of scales which covers the them. Big enough for my liking, though body, with the huge jaws and tail, all connot nionsters--indeed, I doubt if any

tribute to render the spectacle appalling ; and were as much as twelve feet long. Í although one is perfectly aware that in its pres

ent state it is harmless, yet it is almost imposflattered myself that we would have a

sible to look on it without feeling what fear is. great alligator-catching at Bodegas (or The natives now surround the lagarto and bait Babahoyo), the terminus for the steam- it like a bull, holding before it anything that is er, for I remembered that this was the red, at which it runs, when the man jumps on

one side and avoids being struck by it, while place where Stevenson, in his South

the animal continues to run forward in a American Travels, speaks of having straight line till checked by the thong which is witnessed some great sport of that kind, * fastened to the tolete. When tired of teasing

the poor brute they kill it by thrusting a lance * This is the passage referred to by Mr. down its throat, or under the fore leg into its Whymper : “ These animals will sometimes body, unless by accident it be thrown on its seize human beings when bathing, and even back, when it may be pierced in any part of take children from the shore ; after having suc- the belly, which is soft and easily penetrated.

« VorigeDoorgaan »