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tions, that he would have spurted venom at him if he could, and that he would have burst, only that is impossible, from sheer envy; the little lambkin was lying unsuspiciously at the side of the wolf in fleecy hosiery, who did not as yet molest her, being replenished with the mutton her mamma. But now the wolf's eyes began to glare, and his sharp white teeth to show, and he rose up with a growl, and began to think he should like lamb for supper.
“What large eyes you have got!” bleated out the lamb, with rather a timid look.
“The better to see you with, my dear.”
At this moment such a terrific yell filled the field, that all its sinhabitants started with terror. It was from a donkey, who had somehow got a lion's skin, and now came in at the hedge, pursued by some anen and boys with sticks and guns.
When the wolf in sheep's clothing heard the bellow of the ass in the lion's skin, fancying that the monarch of the forest was near, he ran away as fast as his disguise would let him. When the ox heard the noise he dashed round the meadow-ditch, and with one trample of his hoof squashed the frog who had been abusing him. When the crow saw the people with guns coming, hę instantly dropped, the cheese out of his mouth, and took to wing. When the fox saw the cheese drop, he immediately made a jump at it (for he knew the donkey's voice, and that his asinine bray was not a bit like his royal master's roar), and making for the cheese, fell into a steel trap, which snapped off his tail; without which he was obliged to go into the world, pretending, forsooth, that it was the fashion not to wear tails any more; and that the fox-party were better without 'em.
Meanwhile, a boy with a stick came up, and belaboured Master Donkey until he roared louder than ever. The wolf, with the sheep's clothing draggling about his legs, could not run fast, and was detected and shot by one of the men. The blind old owl, whirring out of the hollow tree, quite amazed at the disturbance, flounced into the face of a ploughboy, who knocked her down with a pitchfork. The butcher came and quietly led off the ox and the lamb; and the farmer, finding the fox's brush in the trap, hung it up over his mantelpiece, and always ibragged that he had been in at his death.
“What a farrago of old fables is this! What a dressing up in old clothes !” says the critic. (I think I see such a one-a Solomon that sits in judgment over us authors and chops up our children.) “As sure as I am just and wise, modest, learned, and religious, so surely I have read something very like this stuff and nonsense about jackasses and foxes before. That wolf in sheep's clothing ?-do I not know him? That fox discoursing with the crow? Have I not previously heard of him? Yes, in Lafontaine's fables : let us get the Dictionary and the Fable and the 'Biographie Universelle,' article Lafontaine, and confound the impostor.”
“Then in what a contemptuous way,” may Solomon go on to remark,“ does this author speak of human nature! There is scarce. one of these characters he represents but is a villain. The fox is a: flatterer; the frog is an emblem of impotence and envy; the wolf in sheep's clothing a blood-thirsty hypocrite, wearing the garb of innocence; the ass in the lion's skin, a quack trying to terrify, by assuming: the appearance of a forest monarch (does the writer, writhing under merited castigation, mean to sneer at critics in this character? We laugh at the impertinent comparison); the ox, a stupid commonplace; the only innocent being in the writer's (stolen) apologue is a fool—the idiotic lamb, who does not know his own mother!” And then the critic, if in a virtuous mood, may indulge in some fine writing regarding. the holy beauteousness of maternal affection.
Why not? If authors sneer, it is the critic's business to sneer at: them for sneering. He must pretend to be their superior, or who would care about his opinion ? And his livelihood is to find fault. Besides he is right sometimes; and the stories he reads, and the characters drawn in them, are old, sure enough. What stories are: new? All types of all characters march through all fables: tremblers. and boasters; victims and bullies ; dupes and knaves; long-eared Neddies, giving themselves leonine airs; Tartuffes wearing virtuous clothing; lovers and their trials, their blindness, their folly and constancy. With the very first page of the human story do not love, and lies too, begin? So the tales were told ages before Æsop; and asses under lions' manes roared in Hebrew; and sly foxes flattered in Etruscan; and wolves in sheep's clothing gnashed their teeth in Sanscrit, no doubt. The sun shines to-day as he did when he first began shining; and the birds in the tree overhead, while I am writing, sing very much the same note they have sung ever since they were finches. Nay, since last he besought good-natured friends to listen once a month to his talking, a friend of the writer has seen the New World, and found the (featherless) birds there exceedingly like their brethren of Europe. There may be nothing new under and including the sun; but it looks fresh every morning, and we rise with it to toil, hope, scheme, laugh, struggle, love, suffer, until the night comes and quiet. And then will wake Morrow and the eyes that look on it; and so da capo.
This, then, is to be a story, may it please you, in which jackdaws will wear peacocks feathers, and awaken the just ridicule of the peacocks; in which, while every justice is done to the peacocks themselves,
the splendour of their plumage, the gorgeousness of their dazzling necks, and the magnificence of their tails, exception will yet be taken to the absurdity of their rickety strut, and the foolish discord of their pert squeaking; in which lions in love will have their claws pared by sly virgins; in which rogues will sometimes triumph, and honest folks, let us hope, come by their own; in which there will be black crape and white favours; in which there will be tears under orange-flower wreaths and jokes in mourning-coaches; in which there will be dinners of herbs with contentment and without, and banquets of stalled oxen where there is care and hatred-ay, and kindness and friendship too, along with the feast. It does not follow that all men are honest because they are poor; and I have known some who were friendly and generous, although they had plenty of money. There are some great landlords who do not grind down their tenants; there are actually bishops who are not hypocrites; there are liberal men even among the Whigs, and the Radicals themselves are not all Aristocrats at heart. But who ever heard of giving the Moral before the Fable ? Children are only led to accept the one after their delectation over the other : let us take care lest our readers skip both; and so let us bring them on quickly-our wolves and lambs, our foxes and lions, our roaring donkeys, our billing ring-doves, our motherly partlets, and crowing chanticleers.
There was once a time when the sun used to shine brighter than it appears to do in this latter half of the nineteenth century; when the zest of life was certainly keener; when tavern wines seemed to be delicious, and tavern dinners the perfection of cookery ; when the perusal of novels was productive of immense delight, and the monthly advent of magazine-day was hailed as an exciting holiday; when to know Thompson, who had written a magazine-article, was an honour and a privilege; and to see Brown, the author of the last romance, in the flesh, and actually walking in the Park with his umbrella and Mrs. Brown, was an event remarkable, and to the end of life to be perfectly well remembered; when the women of this world were a thousand times more beautiful than those of the present time; and the houris of the theatres especially so ravishing and angelic, that to see them was to set the heart in motion, and to see them again was to struggle for half an hour previously at the door of the pit; when itailors called at a man's lodgings to dazzle him with cards of fancywaistcoats; when it seemed necessary to purchase a grand silver dressing-case, so as to be ready for the beard which was not yet born (as yearling brides provide lace caps, and work rich clothes for the expected darling); when to ride in the Park on a ten-shilling hack seemed to be the height of fashionable enjoyment, and to splash your college tutor as you were driving down Regent Street in a hired cabs the triumph of satire; when the acme of pleasure seemed to be to: meet Jones of Trinity at the Bedford, and to make an arrangement with him, and with King of Corpus (who was staying at the Colonnade), and Martin of Trinity Hall (who was with his family in Blooms-bury Square), to dine at the Piazza, go to the play and see Braham ins “Fra Diavolo," and end the frolic evening by partaking of supper anda a song at the “ Cave of Harmony.”-It was in the days of my own youth, then, that I met one or two of the characters who are to figure: in this history, and whom I must ask leave to accompany for a short while, and until, familiarised with the public, they can make their own way. As I recall them the roses bloom again, and the nightingales. sing by the calm Bendemeer.
Going to the play then, and to the pit, as was the fashion in those merry days, with some young fellows of my own age, having listened delighted to the most cheerful and brilliant of operas, and laughed enthusiastically at the farce, we became naturally hungry at twelve o'clock at night, and a desire for welsh-rabbits and good old gleesinging led us to the “ Cave of Harmony," then kept by the celebrated Hoskins, among whose friends we were proud to count.
We enjoyed such intimacy with Mr. Hoskins that he never failed to greet us with a kind nod; and John the waiter made room for us. near the President of the convivial meeting. We knew the three admirable glee-singers, and many a time they partook of brandy-andwater at our expense. One of us gave his call dinner at Hoskins's, and a merry time we had of it. Where are you, O Hoskins, bird of the night? Do you warble your songs by Acheron, or troll your choruses by the banks of black Avernus ?
The goes of stout,“ The Chough and Crow," the welsh-rabbit, “ The Red-Cross Knight," the hot brandy-and-water (the brown, the strong !) “ The Bloom is on the Rye” (the bloom isn't on the rye any more !)—the song and the cup, in a word, passed round merrily; and, I daresay, the songs and bumpers were encored. It happened that. there was a very small attendance at the “ Cave” that night, and we were all more sociable and friendly because the company was select. The songs were chiefly of the sentimental class; such ditties were much in vogue at the time of which I speak.
There came into the “Cave” a gentleman with a lean brown: face and long black mustachios, dressed in very loose clothes, and evidently a stranger to the place. At least he had not visited it for a long time. He was pointing out changes to a lad who was in his company; and, calling for sherry-and-water, he listened to the music, and twirled his mustachios with great enthusiasm.
At the very first glimpse of me the boy jumped up from the table,
bounded across the room, ran to me with his hands out, and, blushing, said, “ Don't you know me?”
It was little Newcome, my school-fellow, whom I had not seen for six years, grown a fine tall young stripling now, with the same bright blue eyes which I remembered when he was quite a little boy.
“What the deuce brings you here?” said I.
He laughed and looked roguish. “My father-that's my fatherwould come. He's just come back from India. He says all the wits used to come here,-Mr. Sheridan, Captain Morris, Colonel Hanger, Professor Porson. I told him your name, and that you used to be very kind to me when I first went to Smithfield. I've left now: I'm to have a private tutor. I say, I've got such a jolly pony. It's better fun than old Smiffle."
Here the whiskered gentleman, Newcome's father, pointing to a waiter to follow him with his glass of sherry-and-water, strode across the room twirling his mustachios, and came up to the table where we sate, making a salutation with his hat in a very stately and polite manner, so that Hoskins himself was, as it were, obliged to bow; the glee-singers murmured among themselves (their eyes rolling over their glasses towards one another as they sucked brandy-and-water), and that mischievous little wag, little Nadab the Improvisatore (who had just come in), began to mimic him, feeling his imaginary whiskers, after the manner of the stranger, and flapping about his pocket-handkerchief in the most ludicrous manner. Hoskins checked this ribaldry by sternly looking towards Nadab, and at the same time calling upon the gents to give their orders, the waiter being in the room, and Mr. Bellew about to sing a song.
Newcome's father came up and held out his hand to me. I daresay I blushed, for I had been comparing him to the admirable Harley in the “ Critic," and had christened him Don Ferolo Whiskerandos.
He spoke in a voice exceedingly soft and pleasant, and with a cordiality so simple and sincere, that my laughter shrank away ashamed; and gave place to a feeling much more respectful and friendly. In youth, you see, one is touched by kindness. A man of the world may, of course, be grateful or not as he chooses. ... I have heard of your kindness, sir," says he, “ to my boy. And whoever is kind to him is kind to me. Will you allow me to sit down by you? and may I beg you to try my cheroots ?” We were friends in a minute--young Newcome snuggling by my side, his father opposite, to whom, after a minute or two of conversation, I presented my three college friends.
“ You have come here, gentlemen, to see the wits," says the Colonel. “ Are there any celebrated persons in the room? I have