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CRUTHERS AND JONSON;
OR,
T H E O U T S K I R T S OF LIF E.
A TRUE STORY.”

WHAT feeling of our nature is so universally approved as that of Friendship 2 Unlike all others, it appears to be capable of no excess, and to unite every suffrage in its favour. The more vehement, the more enthusiastic it is, we applaud it the more; and men of all climes and habitudes, the saint, the savage, and the sage, unite in our applauses. It is, in fact, the great balsam of existence, “the brook that runneth by the way,” out of which the wearied sons of Adam may all drink comfort and refreshment to nerve them in the toils of life's parched and dusty journey. It communicates a dignity and calm beauty to the humblest lot, and without it the loftiest is but a shining desert. I myself like friendship as well as any man likes it, and I feel a pleasure in reflecting that the story I am now

* Fraser's Magazine, January 1831 (No. xii., vol. ii. pp 691-705).

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about to write will afford one well-authenticated instance
of that noble sentiment. Not that by this remark I mean
to excite unfounded expectation, nor that I have aught
very marvellous to say either about passions of the mind
or exploits displaying them. I have, in truth, no moving
tragedy to set forth; no deed of heroism or high adventure;
nothing of your Pythias and Damon, your Theseus and
Pirithous. My heroes were not Kings of Athens, or
Children of the Cloud; but honest Lairds of Annandale,
They never braved the rage of Dionysius dooming them to
die, never went down to liades that they might flirt with
Proserpine, or slaughter the mastiff Cerberus : yet they
were true men “in their own humble way"; men tried in
good and evil hap, and not found wanting. Their history
seems curious enough, if I can tell it rightly, to deserve
some three minutes of attention from an idle man, especially
in times so stupid and prosaic as these ; times of monotony
and safety, and matter of fact, where affections are measured
by the tale of guineas, where people's fortunes are exalted,
and their purposes achieved by the force, not of the aru
or of the heart, but of the spinning-jenny and the steam.
engine. I proceed with my narrative.
In the early part of the last century, the parish school.
house of Hoddam, a low squat building by the Edinburgh
highway side, could number among its daily visitants two
boys of the names of Cruthers and Jonson, who at first
agreed in nothing, except in the firm determination shown
by each to admit of no superior. Such a principle, maintained
by one individual, might possibly have led to very pleasing
results, in so far as that one was concerned: maintained
by two, it led to nothing but broils and bickerings, hard

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words and harder blows. Without end or number were their squabbles. In every feat of scholarship or mischies, whether it were to expound the venerable Dilworth's system of arithmetic within doors, or to work some devilry without; to lead the rival gangs of “Englishmen and Scots,” to clank the old kirk-bell, or venture on the highest and brittlest boughs of the ash-trees and yews that grew around, still these two were violent competitors, and by their striving far outstript the rest. Frequently, of course, they came to sparring, in which they would exhibit all the energy and animation of Entellus and Dares, or even of Molyneux and Crib. The boy Cruthers was decidedly the better boxer; he was stronger than Jonson, could beat him whenever he chose ; and in time came to choose it very often. Jonson had more of the Socratic than of the Stoic philosopher in his turn of mind. He could not say “Thou mayest beat the case of Jonson—himseIf thou canst not reach; " on the contrary, he felt too clearly that himself was reached, and as all his attempts to remedy the evil but made it worse, the exasperation of his little heart was extreme. On one occasion, when the fortune of battle had again declared against him, and Cruthers was thrashing his outward man with more than usual vigour, poor Jonson started from his grasp all covered with bruises, and clenching his fist in the face of his enemy, he swore, with the tears streaming from his eyes, and in a voice half-choked by sobs, that before the sun went down Cruthers should rue this. So threatening he went away.

It was morning when this occurred, and the comments on it did not cease till the arrival of the redoubted Mr. Scroggs, the gaunt and sallow-visaged Dominie, in whose

presence all jarring passions died into a timid calm. I know not what feelings Cruthers had while the hours rolled on, or whether he had any ; but apparently they were forgotten, when, at mid-day, Jonson's absence had not been inquired into, and the hot cabin vomited forth its exulting population to frolic their gamesome hour beneath the clear summer sky. Of the boys, some arranged them: selves for pitch-and-toss, some preferred marbles, others shinty; the girls produced their skipping-ropes, or set to pile their bits of crockery into a “dresser;" in short, the whole “green" was swarming with a noisy throng of little men and little women, all bustling because each corner of the earth was yet full of motives to allure them; all happy because they had not yet been smitten with the curse of passions or the malady of thought. The grim carrier, as he drove his groaning wain past them, and trailed his own weary limbs over the burnt highway along with it, wondered why the deuce they did not go to sleep when they could got it done. The laird himself, as he whirled by in a cloud of dust, with his steeds, his beef-enters, and his parapher. nalia, looked out from his yellow chariot upon them, then within upon his own sick and sated soul, and would have cursed the merry brats, had he not consoled himself by recollecting that, in a few years, want, and hardship, and folly, would make them all as wretched as plenty, and pleasure, and folly had made him. In fact, it was a scene which Mr. Wordsworth would have gone some miles to see; would have whined over for a considerable time; and most likely would have written a sonnet or two upon. But nothing earthly is destined to continue: the flight of a given number of minutes would have put an end to all this revelry at any rate ; an unexpected incident put an end to it more effectually and sooner. The gaume was at

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# the hottest; chuck-farthing waxed more interesting every moment, rope-skipping was becoming a rage, shinties were

lying in fragments, shins were being broken, all was tumult, happiness, and hurly-burly, when all at once the ranquished Jonson appeared upon the green, with a fierce though sedate look upon his countenance, and, what was worse—a large horse-pistol in his hand All paused at sight of him ; the younger boys and all the girls uttered a short shrill shriek, and Cruthers grew as pale as milk. What might have been the issue is uncertain, for the sudden silence and the short shriek had in them something strange enough to alarm the vigilance of Mr. Scroggsbusy at the time within doors, expounding to the Eccleièchan exciseman some more abstruse departments of the mystery of gauging. Throwing down his text-book, that invaluable compend, the Young Man's Dest Companion, he forthwith sallied from his noontide privacy, and solemnly inquired what was the matter. The matter was investigated, the pistol given up, and after infinite higgling the truth flashed out as clear as day. The Dominie's jaw sank a considerable fraction of an ell; his colour went and came ; he said, with a hollow tone, “The Lord be near us!" and sat down upon a stone by the wall-side, clasping his temples with both his hands, and then stooping till he grasped the whole firmly between his knees, to try if he could possibly determine what was to be done in this strange business. He spoke not for the space of three minutes and a half; the whole meeting was silent except for whispers; the rivals did not even whisper.

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