Images de page

not see Mahony and White that morning, because they were put on shore. I told the Lieutenant, that if he would not take care of the matter, I would write up to the Admiralty, and to the Mayor of Bristol. The Lieutenant asked the Captain to drink a glass of wine. The Captain would not come out of his cabin. Then the Lieutenant went in first. I followed him. Then I seized him, and several others came to my assistance.

The cooper's good wife, Margaret Jones, corroborated her husband's evidence in every point with equal clearness and directness. Witness after witness followed with terrible repetition, and a distinctness, a power of simple, honest truth that nothing could shake. The very watch and money for which they had wrangled over the dead body were brought home to the subordinate ruffians, and the whole three were found guilty, condemned and executed as near as possible to the scene of the crime.

This remarkable murder took place rather more than a hundred years ago. The two brothers were uncles of Samuel Foote, the celebrated mimic and comedian, and admirable farce writer, whose baptismal name was probably derived from that disgrace to the British Navy, Captain Samuel Goodere.







ALL the world, that is to say, the reading world, whether male or female, has yielded to the magic of one Fisherman's book-"The English Angler," of Isaac Walton; and such is the charm of the subject, that the modern works which, so far as the science of angling is concerned, may be said to have superseded the instructions of the old master, the works of Sir Humphry Davy, of Mr. Hofland, of Mr. Henry Phillips, all men eminent for other triumphs than those of the fishing-rod, have, in their several ways, inherited much of the fascination that belongs to the venerable father of the piscatory art.

Even the dissertations on salmon-fishing, as practised in the wilder parts of Ireland and in Norway, which, when measured with the humble sport of angling for trout in a southern stream, may be likened to the difference between a grand lion hunt in Africa and the simple pheasant shooting of a Norfolk squire -even the history of landing a salmon partakes of the Waltonian charm. We take up the book, and we forget to lay it down again; the greatest compliment that reader can pay to author.

The poetical brothers of the angle, however—I mean such as have actually written in verse—are not only fewer in number, but have generally belonged to the northern portion of our island. I am not sure that the pleasure with which I read "The Fisher's Welcome," may not partly be referred to that cause. At least, I do not like Mr. Doubleday's genial song the less for the reminiscences of canny Northumberland with which every stanza teems.

Years, many and changeful, have gone by since I trod those northern braes; they at whose side I stood lie under the green sod; yet still, as I read of the Tyne or of the Wansbeck, the bright rivers sparkle before me, as if I had walked beside them but yesterday. I still seem to stand with my dear father under the grey walls of that grand old abbey church at Hexham, gazing upon the broad river as it sweeps in a majestic semicircle before us, amid, perhaps, the very fairest scenery of that fair valley of the Tyne, so renowned for varied beauty, whilst he points to the haunts of his boyhood, especially the distant woods of Dilstone Hall, the forfeited estate of Lord Derwentwater. I still seem to listen, as he tells how, in the desolate orchard, he had often gathered fruit almost returned to the wildness of the forest; and how, among the simple peasantry, the recollection of the unhappy Earl, so beloved and so lamented, had lingered for half a century; and tales were yet told how, after his execution, his mangled remains were brought secretly by night to be interred in the vault of his ancestors, halting mysteriously in private houses by day, and resuming their melancholy journey during the dark hours; the secret known to so many, and yet

kept so faithfully and so loyally, handed down from father to son, and spoken in low-whispered words as a solemn confidence to be religiously held sacred!-a duty to the ruined and the dead! Thirty or forty years more had passed, yet I myself heard the country people speak with tender pity of that cherished lord.

Or the Wansbeck, more familiar still! How plainly do I see that wild, daring stream!-now almost girdling, as a moat, the massive ruins of Mitford Castle,* -in the time of the Conqueror, it is to be presumed, the common ancestral home of our race and name, so widely scattered since ;-now brawling through the deep glen behind the old tower of Little-Harle ;now almost invisible, creeping under the single arch that spans the richly-fringed burn by the pretty rectory of Hartburn ;-now reflecting the autumn woods of Bothal and the grey walls of the Lady's Chapel !

Proteus of streams! Here a foaming torrent between rocks no wider than a deer may leap at a bound! —there a spreading lakelet, too shallow for a bridge, crossed by huge stepping-stones, on which my southern feet tottered and stumbled, and all but fell!

How well I remember my girlish terror when called upon to pass from one stepping-stone to another, and the girlish bravado with which, wanting courage to

* An old kinsman, my father's uncle, who lived almost within sight of the Castle Mound, used to derive the name Mid-ford, from the situation of the keep between two fords of the Wansbeck. So convinced was he of the truth of his theory, that, contrary to the practice of all the rest of the family, he pertinaciously adopted that mode of orthography in writing his patronymic.

turn back, and laughing, half to cover my trepidation, and half from genuine fright, I confronted the danger and performed the exploit! Ah! I am not the first who has done a bold thing in fear and trembling, as (if such truths were ever told) many a soldier on his first field could bear witness. At last, encouraged by the applause of friends and relatives, I even came to like the stepping-stones, the excitement, and the praise; just as, cheered by similar bribery, the soldier learns to love a great battle-day.

Those stepping-stones at Mitford! I can see them now. I had heard of them before I saw them, and of their perils. A lady's-maid of my acquaintance, London-born and London-bred-one of those dainty waiting gentlewomen for whose behoof Congreve, in the most graceful as well as the wittiest of his comedies, invented the name of Mrs. Mincing-had been seduced into venturing across them, handed and supported by a French valet. She had fallen, of course, and had dragged her unlucky escort after her; and her description of her previous alarm, the agonies she underwent before her dip, and the terrors of the catastrophe; how she lost a kid slipper and spoilt a silk skirt, and was laughed at by the north-country savages into the bargain; was enough to frighten all the silk skirts and kid slippers within fifty miles, to say nothing of the Mrs. Mincings, or of me.

Bright river Wansbeck! How many pleasant memories I owe to thy mere name! It were but common courtesy to wish a brimming basket and a smiling welcome home to the kindly songster who casts his line across thy waters.

« PrécédentContinuer »