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Ben was per.
once the ice was broken I found him to his confidences in that matter. He rather exceptionally frank and garrulous. knew where to find what he wanted when In Arcady people in general are surly and he wanted it, and in a general way he repellent to chance acquaintances. Icarried his movable property and a not have seen a man watch a stranger for half inconsiderable landed estate upon his a mile, silently wondering, contemplating person. "Nobody don't meddle wi' me," him furtively, and apparently suspecting he said, and I quite believed him. Where that he had only to watch him long enough did he get his dinner? He looked round to find him out in some dreadful crime. at me as if to make out whether I was Our laborers have a kind of shrinking poking fun at him. Then he answered from sleek-looking people; they look upon warily, " That's accordin'!” For dinner an unknown gentleman as a being who is as an institution he was prepared to ad. "after summut or other; "they are so very, mit that he "didn't make much account very, very cute that only a professional o'dioner.” He mostly took his loaf along pickpocket can get at them. He can, with him, “same as they old patriarchs.” however, with the utmost facility; wher. He had “never heard tell as Jacob and ever Touchstone and Audrey are to be that lot looked out for cooked wittels afore found, there Autolycus is in his element; they went down into Egypt.” Where did but then Autolycus is never dull, never the man get that notion from? It was grave, he is always uble, and on occa- evident he had taken up with a theory sions violent; simply earnest and serious that a process of deterioration had set in he is too cunning ever to pretend to be. among the children of Israel from the day
Ben was evidently fond of talking when that Joseph gave a double savory mess to once set going. He didn't want me, but Benjamin. Do the rabbis teach that docif I wanted him he'd no objection. I trine, or is it to be found in the Targums? found him supplied with a very much I ventured to touch further upon mat. larger vocabulary than we are wont to ters of domestic economy, meet with in the rank and file of Arcady. fectly open; he had nothing to hide; he But then you must remember he was by made no secrets. I had heard that he way of being a scald. Readers of the was a really good laborer, who could do newspaper, who are expected not only to anything be put his hand to. Did he hap. read but to retail the news, that is, topen to have dealings with a savings' analyze the latest intelligence, and to re. bank? Was it impertinent to ask what peat what the peeay per says, must needs he did with all the money he earned ? have a certain command of language, and, “All on it? Oh! Ah!” He exhibited as I have said, Ben is a man of culture, great appreciation of that joke, chuckled, whose gifts are such as bear the stamp of and writhed, and shook his filthy old gar. genius upon them, at least they give a ments. Every wrinkle seemed to be say, certain glamor of awfulness to his eccen- ing to me, “I never see sich a man!” tricities. Soon we got on easy terms. I Hoarding he regarded as a most ludicrous tried to find out if he had any opinions. form of insanity. Work was a disagreeIt was clear he never troubled himself to able necessity sometimes. Sometimes it form any; in childhood he had learnt the might come in as a relief to the monotony Church Catechism, and he'd never found of life; occasionally, too, it might provide that it had done him any harm. Some him with a pair of boots, which, however, folks thought it hurt 'em. As far as as well as all other garments that he his observation extended, “them as the must needs wear, no rational man would Church Catechism had hurted 'd a been purchase except second hand. I gathered hurted w'rout that!”.
that he had never in his life possessed a Did he ever think of ... behind the new coat. He was perfectly contented veil? ...
with his lot. If there was anything that Est et fideli tuta silentio
he had to blame his Maker for, it was that Merces.
he couldn't sing! Music had been denied
him. More's the pity. When he was All that was between him and me.
tired of working (and he was just as likely Where did be live now? Live? Where to leave a job half finished and disappear he liked. Where the fancy took him. In for ten days, after having secured an ad. point of fact, if I wanted to know, he lived vance of pay), he repaired to the nearest nowhere. Where did he leave his tools ? public-house that would take him in - for for a man can't borrow a scythe and a it was not every public-house which he hoe. As it happened, there was a limit was allowed to frequent, or where he was
permitted to sit down and while the but if ordinary causes could have killed mood was on him there he would stay, oc- him, he would have been dead half a cencasionally eatiog his bread, and invariably tury ago. and continuously consuming his beer. Ben's life, by all that I can learn, has When the public-house closed what did been singularly inoffeosive. As the say. he do then? That question he seemed ing is, “ He has been no man's enemy but disposed to fence with, and I at once his own." I am told that he never refrained from pressing it. He saw I did smoked.
never for an instant not mean to impose upon his candor, and, suspected of any approach to dishonesty, with a certain generosity, he returned to Nay, they say "he ain't a foul-mouthed the point of his own accord. There was one, though he do frequent them low sort just a little mystery about the way in of places.” He is simply an individual which he spent his nights. That too was who has not yet withered, and he continues 66 accordin':"
to live on sufferance though Policeman X During the bitter winter of 1880–81 is not satisfied that he is perfectly harmsome of the roads were blocked by the less. “There didn't ought to be such snow, and Ben was at work with a gang people,” says Policeman X sententiously; of men making cuttings through the dan- his objection to Ben being that he exists! gerous drifts. The miserable weather And yet, why should not Loafing Ben lasted for weeks, and some of the laborers be let alone? “Oh! he's a lazy fellow!” were wet through all day long. It is al. No, he is not a lazy fellow. See him at most incredible, but it is none the less work, and you will not libel him so. He true, that during all that winter Ben never earns his own livelihood, and never asked sleptin a house, but buried himself in the any one for a penny that was not bis due; straw of a barn where he had leave to lay he probably never received “ tip "since himself down. I asked him, with a shud. he was born. He labors when he pleases, der, whether he was not afraid of the and when he chooses he stops. Now and rats? He laughed aloud with triumphant then, when the fit takes him, he sprawls glee. “I make no more count of them in a dry ditch and kicks his old heels in rats than if they was feas !” He could the air, a Caliban without malignity. He not have expressed his indifference more does not envy you your bed of down; he contemptuously. Nay, the rats rather has no taste for art, and does not saunter amused him, except that he objected to through Christie and Manson's simpertheir tails — they tickled his face some ingly giving his verdict,times! Didn't he suffer from the cold ? He didn't know what folks meant by be-Quo vafer ille pedes lavisset Sisyphus ære, ing cold. Had he never been ill? Yes,
Quid sculptum infabre, quid fusum durius esset. he'd been “bad” once aboard ship; he If the benevolent philanthropists, who would not try that again ! Never had are always ready to show the peasantry rheumatism? What call had folks to get what is for their good, and always prompt rheumatics ? He "didn't hold wi' rheu- to deprive them of their mischievous prop. matics."
erty, had left him a common to stretch During the last year or two I am told himself in, Ben would have been found the county police have been molesting often enough under a furze bush, snuffing Ben, and stopped his sleeping in barns up the heather and making friends with with or without leave. It appears there's the weasels; as it is, he takes the sun. some law against it. The consequence shine astraddle of a gate, and watches the has been be has every now and then been larks, and thinks what a jolly thing it must driven to the Union for a night's lodging. be to be able to sing. And so you call I bear it is telling upon him, and he is him a vagabond. He is not even that, for not the man he was. When he can es. he never wanders five miles from his cape the argus eyes of the constabulary birthplace. You dare say he is a poacher, he still rolls himself up anywhere, in sum- though. No, he isn't a poacher mer or autumn, under a hedge, at other has been. times in any hovel that he can skulk into; “ Water is a kind of thing I will keep now and then in a warm pigsty. That is out of me ”is his motto; and though there delicious! The astonishing constitution are trout to be had for the tickling, the of the man seems to have been proof running stream is to him a dark and against all exposure, want, infection, deadly river in which alligators may perdrink, or irregularity of every kind. It is haps be lurking for their prey. As for to be supposed that he will die some day, the pheasants and partridges, he'll watch
them by the hour; and “ an old hare” he
From Temple Bar. would no
more harm than he would a EUGENE BODICHON: A REPUBLICAN OF baby. “ I like them old hares,” he says
1830. innocently, “and I wish there was more THIRTY years ago no more picturesque on 'em!"
sight could greet an artist's eye in Algiers That's all very well, but Ben is a loafer than the Breton doctor, Eugène Bodichon, by common consent. He's a loiterer, and holding gratuitous consultations in his loitering is a wrong done to the commu. Moorish quarters. nity. Policeman X is right after all Below this airy height – for the room people “ didn't ought to loiter.”
was on an upper story - gleamed the city, Pray, sir or madam, are there no flas sloping towards the sea; above, shone the neurs in the streets who do likewise ? / unbroken sky of intense, hot blue, whilst Flâneurs who have no lucid intervals of worthy of such romantic environment was labor, but who languidly saunter through the figure of the miracle-working doctor life, or are the busy bees of idleness? A bimself, for such indeed he seemed to his loiterer is he? And what is a flâneur ? artless, half savage clients. A motley Looking to the root of the marier I sus. crowd would collect there, pure-blooded pect that word has something to do with sons of Ishmael, the children of the desert, aimless going to and fro. What deep the swarthy negro, the brown Kabyle, be: commiseration there is for blind old Edi- sides Jews, Spaniards, and French solpus, when the chorus, keeping to the diers — who came to be cured or advised minor key, exclaims,
for nothing. Their faith in the doctor was
absolute, and certainly some of his suc. πλανάτας, πλανάτας τις ο πρέσβυς, ούδ'
cessful cases, surgical and otherwise, were έγχωρος.
worthy of the noise they created in Alge. It was a piteous spectacle to see the ria at the time, and worihy to be recorded. old king sink down to be a flâneur
Before, however, sketching some of the πλανάτας, πλανάτας τις. To think of a man curious incidents that marked the doctor's coming to that! Yet there was a lower career, let us say something about the man depth still; oid' éyxwpos — he did not even himself, a phenomenal man, whether we belong to a club!
regard him as a second Thoreau, able to "I object to be classed with Loafing ingratiate himself with animals so as to Ben and the ordinary flâneur; I can obtain their confidence and live with them afford to be idle if I like."
on terms of closest intimacy, or as the So can Loating Ben; and as long as he typical republican of 1830; the austere, pays his way which he does – he has incorruptible, dauntless fellow-worker with abundant right to be as idle as he pleases. Guépin of Nantes, Ledru-Rollin the great Do you want to compel this man to work tribune, Louis Blanc, and other defenders ten hours a day on pain of your displeas- of liberty and the democratic idea; or,
the jail — the pillory — or, worst of lastly, as a foremost pioneer of civilization all, the workhouse?
in Alyeria, among the first to realize on Ah, but he's dirty, beery, a social African soil what the business of the conpariah – in fact, he's a very násty man!” queror there was, and what it was not, the
If we are going to shut up all ihe nasty liberator of the slaves in Algeria, the admen and women in prisons and work. vocate of the Berbers, the planter of the houses for the crime of being nasty, there eucalyptus. will certainly be no room for the vicious
The Breton savant was a physical type and the violent. And where shall we be also. Whenever he went abroad, stran. at our poor relations ?
gers turned to take a second look at that “Sir, this is a great deal too serious a tall, striking figure, with its superb head, matter to treat in a flippant and provoking always bare, and crowned with masses of
As a minister of the gospel you close set, short, curly black hair. are bound to remember that this man is
When making his_way to Algiers utterly godless; he is
through south-western France in 1870, he was arrested by the police of Bordeaux,
under suspicion of being a Prussian spy. O Lord of life and love, call back the “Now," said the doctor, confronting the wanderer home — home to thy fold again. commissary of police, “I appeal to your
But O ye serene ones in this perplex. reason and ethnology. Look at my hair. ing world! are they the few and noi the Had ever a Prussian hair like mine?" many who go astray ?
“Hair goes to dye,” remarked the com AUGUSTUS JESSOPP. inissary, who, however, let his prisoner go.
The Breton characteristics, mental as | During these student days he made a hol. well as physical, were there also. In the iday trip to Algeria and brought home a maternal château near Nantes, the doc- pet jackal, which used to follow him about tor's home of childhood, ghostly noises like a dog. Circumstances compelled him and spectral visions were heard and seen to give it to the Jardin des Plantes of at night. These were the cries and shapes Paris. At the end of some weeks he vis. of decapitated ancestors and ancestresses, ited the jackal there, which received him victims of the Terror; and the doctor, as with the liveliest marks of joy and affec. well as every other member of the family, tion. The visit was repeated, whereupon firmly believed in them. Nor were these the keeper respectfully begged him to go ghost stories the only marvellous pages no more. in the domestic chronicle.
" I assure you, sir," he said, “ the poor One of Dr. Bodichon's aunts was a animal would not touch food for days after cloistered nun at Le Mans, where, in her your last visit. We were afraid he would old age, he occasionally visited her. The starve himself to death.” Jady, when a young and handsome girl That experimental trip to Algiers rejust introduced to the world, a devotee of sulted in a final settlement on African fashion and pleasure, visited an elder sis- soil. On the completion of his medical ter, herself a cloistered nun. The girl's studies, the doctor sold his patrimonial visit was over. She had remounted, the estate in Brittany, and sailed for Algiers, conveot gates were thrown wide open to there to devote himself to gratuitous med. admit of her egress, when the animal she ical services among the native population was riding, backed. The horsewoman and the poor, to eihnological and historitouched it lightly with her whip, but it cal studies, the work of colonization, and backed a second, a third time.
that close observation of animal life for “I recognize the voice of Heaven!” which he was so remarkable. Allusion cried the young lady, throwing the reins has already been made to the abundance over the horse's head, and preparing to of his short curly hair, and he used to tell dismount. My vocation is here." a pretty story of a mouse which nestled
True enough, the convent gates were in it one cold night and which he would straightway closed. She alighted from not dislodge by the slightest movement. her horse, re-entered the convent alls, It was upon the occasion of one of his then and there exchanged her riding habit journeys into the interior when bivouackfor the robe of a novice, and devoted the ing under canvas. The cold was intense, remainder of her existence to penitence and as the weary traveller lay stretched and prayer.
out in his tent; the little creature crept In spite of these early associations, into his curls, evidently taking them for a Eugène, as soon as he was capable of in- soft, warm mat. For the pig and the dependent thought, went over to the ranks goose he had a great respect. Of a pig of democracy. Such a career indeed af. kept in after years in his English hoine fords curious insight into French history. he said, “ Voilà une bête qui a beaucoup We realize how tremendous must be the d'esprit !” force of conviction that leads loyal, affec. He was a wonderful relater of dog sto. tionate, and patriotic natures thus to break ries. One of his dogs was a bit of a snob, loose for once and for all from family tra. delighting in worldly prosperity, and in dition, domestic ties, social usages, and the sense of being looked up to accordpublic opinion.
ingly. On a certain occasion - this was There were ardent young spirits in when the doctor no longer lived in the Paris in those days, and associated with Moorish quarter before alluded to, but the choicest of these, many of them life. had moved to a spacious villa standing in long friends, young Bodichón pursued his vast grounds on the heights above the medical curriculum, at the same time con town the dog returned froin a run with tributing to the democratic literature of a canine friend evidently belonging to an the day. One important result of his inferior position in life. The host took physiological studies in the school of Ma. his guest all over the house, with a look jendie was an abhorrence of vivisection that said as clearly as words could, – Throughout his after life the doctor re-“ Now, how would you feel if you lived in mained a steadfast opponent of experi- such a house as this?" ments on living animals. Perhaps it was Another dog - not a pet this, but an this spectacle of the torments inflicted on enemy and disturber of the public peace them in his youth that made him ever after was Dr. Bodichon's famous professeur the tenderest friend of dumb things. diaboiement, or self-constituted leader of
an amateur barking society. This mis. | ago by hawking shoes and stockings in guided animal used to commence opera. the streets of New Orleans, rapidly made tions soon after sunset in Algiers and a fortune, as rapidly spent it in those won. take the lead of all the dogs inclined to derful raids upon the panther, chronicled bark in season and out of season. The by his own untrained pen so graphically, nuisance became so intolerable that the performed audacious exploits as leader of “professor” was laid violent hands on by his thousand Franc-tireurs in the recent the police,
Franco-German war, three times had a This close study of animal life and char- price set on his head by the Prussian acter at the time we are now speaking of, authorities, finally, after as many hair. viz., from 1835 to 1855, occupied the doc- breadth escapes as Othello himself, set. tor's leisure moments only. He had tling down on the vast hunting-grounds in plenty of more momentous work on hand. Algeria presented to him by the French His most interesting and valuable contri- government in recognition of his services, butions to the study of ethnology, and there to enjoy, otium cum dignitate, the most important works on French coloni- society of lions, tame and wild, with an zation in Africa, were written and pub- occasional visit from some royal or dis. lished during this interval. He was also tinguished devotee of the chase? employed by the government as inéilecin After numerous hairbreadth escapes de la justice, that is to say, consulting from the clutches of infuriated panthers, physician of the administration. Upon Bombonnel at last was attacked, all but one occasion he was summoned by the mortally injured, and at a total sacrifice of authorities to examine three travellers personal beauty a possession as relucwho had been, as they declared upon oath, tantly parted with by the sterner as well as robbed and half-murdered by assassins on the gentler sex, whatever cynics may say the public road, for which loss and out to the contrary. “ I stole to the looking. rage they demanded a government indem- glass,” writes poor Bomboonel dolefully. nity. The doctor carefully examined the ** My lest cheek was torn open, the frontal wounds, which were not trifling, but he bone laid bare, four teeth were gone, found that one and all had been self.in. whilst as to my poor nose, hitherto a fine flicted and with a most scientific avoid. aquiline, it was flattened, broken, bruised ance of vital parts. His private practice, in an indescribable manner. I was hide. always gratuitous, abounded in curious ous!” experiences. One day an Arab came to The Breton doctor proved equal to the his surgery carrying something wrapped occasion. He gathered up the fragments up in the folds of his burnous. The poor of the panther-slayer's face, such as were fellow had been gored by a wild boar, and left, and, not without a good deal of trou. thus brought his intestines to the doctor ble certainly, managed to mend the whole to be restored to their proper place, which neatly as a fractured china plate. Bom. was effected. Bedouin Arabs would often bonnel awoke one fine morning to find come from a great distance in the interior himself once more the happy possessor of to consult the doctor about their wives. a presentable nose. The doctor's high Fatima or Ayesha, the pride of the des. reputation, his integrity, austereness, and ert harem, had been enceinte for two years, incorruptibility alike as a man and a citi. but the child could not be brought to the zen, brought him into contact with all birth. What was to be done? It is a classes and races. People trusted him common belief among these people that and applied to him for advice and assist. the condition of pregnancy may be almost ance in matters lying wholly outside his indefinitely protracted, and often hus own field. So implicit was the reliance bands were deluded into the fond prospect placed upon his judgment and knowledge of offspring when there was no founda. of character, that many of his friends even tion whatever for the hope. These con- went to him for a wife. “Mariez-moi, sulters the doctor had to send uncom- docteur, les yeux fermés,” they would say
(Marry me, doctor, with my eyes shut); But the surgical case which poised his and true enough, he did marry mapy skill abroad was the cure of the famous with their eyes shut, and very suitable panther-slayer Bombonnel. Who has not and happy marriages they proved to heard of Bombonnel, extolled by Victor be. These qualities just mentioned, irreHugo, put just as he is, although still alive proachableness in private life, and stain. and well, into Daudet's novel of “Tarta- lessness in his public career, were all the rin," – the valiant, vivacious Frenchman, more conspicuous, because of the corrupt small of stature, who began life fifty years state of Algerian society at this time.