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ful rapier. Ah, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, you are a mag. nificent trio. I think I like d’Artagnan in his own memoirs best. I bought him years and years ago, price fivepence, in a little parchment-covered Cologne-printed volume, at a stall in Gray's Inn Lane. Dumas glorifies him and makes a Marshal of him; if I remember rightly, the original d'Artagnan was a needy adventarer, who died in exile very early in Louis XIV.'s reign. Did you ever read the “ Chevalier d'Harmenthal ?” Did you ever read the “ Tulipe Noire,” as modest as a story by Miss Edgeworth? I think of the prodigal banquets to which this Lucullus of a man has invited me, with thanks and wonder. To what a series of splendid entertainments he has treated me! Where does he find the money for these prodigious feasts ? They say that all the works bearing Dumas's name are not written by him. Well ? Does not the chief cook have aides under him? Did not Rubens's pupils paint on his canvases ? Had not Lawrence assistants for his backgrounds ? For myself, being also du métier, I confess I would often like to have a competent, respectable, and rapid clerk for the business part of my novels; and on his arrival, at eleven o'clock, would say, “Mr. Jones, if you please, the archbishop must die this morning in about five pages. Turn to article « Dropsy' (or what you will) in Encyclopædia. Take care there are no medical blunders in his death. Group his daughters, physicians, and chaplains round him. In Wales' · London,' letter B, third shelf, you will find an account of Lambeth, and some prints of the place. Color in with local coloring. The daughter will come down, and speak to her lover in his wherry at Lambeth Stairs," &c., &c. Jones (an intelligent young man) examines the medical, historical, topographical books necessary; his chief points out to him in Jeremy Taylor (fol., London, M.dclv.) a few remarks, such as might befit a dear old archbishop departing this life. When I come back to dress for dinner, the archbishop is dead on my table in five pages; medicine, topography, theology, all right, and Jones has gone home to his family some hours. Sir Christopher is the architect of St. Paul's. He has not laid the stones or carried up the mortar. There is a great deal of carpenter's and joiner's work in novels which surely a smart professional hand might supply. A smart professional hand ? I give you my word, there seem to me parts of novels let us say the love-making, the "business," the villain in the cupboard, and so forth, which I should like to order John Footman to take in hand, as I desire him to bring the coals and polish the boots. Ask me indeed to pop a robber under a bed, to hide a will which shall be forthcoming in due season, or at my time of life to write a namby-pamby love conversation between Emily and Lord Arthur! I feel ashamed of myself, and especially when my business obliges me to do the love-passages, I blush so, though quite alone in my study, that you would fancy I was going off in an apoplexy. Are authors affected by their own works? I don't know about other gentlemen, but if I make a joke myself I cry; if I write a pathetic scene I am laughing wildly all the time—at least Tomkins thinks so. You know ) am such a cynic!
The editor of the Cornhill Magazine (no soft and yielding character like his predecessor, but a man of stern resolution) will only allow these harmless papers to run to a certain length. But for this veto I should gladly have prattled over half a sheet more, and have discoursed on many heroes and heroines of novels whom fond memory brings back to me. Of these books I have been a diligent student from those early days, which are recorded at the commencement of this little essay.
Oh, delightful novels, well remembered! Oh, novels, sweet and delicious as the raspberry open-tarts of budding boyhood! Do I forget one night after prayers (when we under-boys were sent to bed) lingering at my cupboard to read one little half page more of my dear Walter Scott—and down came the monitor's dictionary upon my head! Rebecca, daughter of Isaac of York, I have loved thee faithfully for forty years! Thou wert twenty years old (say) and I but twelve, when I knew thee. At sixty odd, love, most of the ladies of thy Orient race have lost the bloom of youth, and bulged beyond the line of beauty; but to me thou art ever young and fair, and I will do battle with any felon Templar who assails thy fair name.
ON A PEAR-TREE.
A GRACIOUS reader no doubt has remarked that these humble sermons have for subjects some little event which happens at the preacher's own gate, or which falls under his peculiar cognizance. Once, you may remember, we discoursed about a chalk-mark on the door. This morning Betsy, the housemaid, comes with a frightened look, and says, “ Law, mum ! there's
three bricks taken out of the garden wall, and the branches broke, and all the pears taken off the pear-tree!” Poor peaceful suburban pear-tree! Jail-birds have hopped about thy branches, and robbed them of their smoky fruit. But those bricks removed ; that ladder evidently prepared, by which unknown marauders may enter and depart from my little Englishman's castle ; is not this a subject of thrilling interest, and may it not be continued in a future number?—that is the terrible question. Suppose, having escaladed the outer wall, the miscreants take a fancy to storm the castle ? Well-well! we are armed ; we are numerous ; we are men of tremendous courage, who will defend our spoons with our lives ; and there are barracks close by (thank goodness !) whence, at the noise of our shouts and firing, at least a thousand bayonets will bristle to our rescue.
What sound is yonder ? A church bell. I might go myself, but how listen to the sermon? I am thinking of those thieves who have made a ladder of my wall, and a prey of my peartree. They may be walking to church at this moment, neatly shaved, in clean linen, with every outward appearance of virtue. If I went, I know I should be watching the congregation, and thinking, “Is that one of the fellows who came over my wall ?” If, after the reading of the eighth Commandment, a man sang out with particular energy, “ Incline our hearts to keep this law,” I should think, “Aha, Master Basso, did
you for breakfast this morning ?” Crime is walking round me, that is clear. Who is the perpetrator?
What a changed aspect the world has, since these last few lines were written! I have been walking round about my premises, and in consultation with a gentleman in a single-breasted blue coat, with pewter buttons, and a tape ornament on the collar. He has looked at the holes in the wall, and the amputated tree. We have formed our plan of defence-perhaps of attack. haps some day you may read in the papers, “ DARING ATTEMPT AT BURGLARY-HEROIC VICTORY OVER THE VILLAINS,” &c., &c. Rascals as yet unknown ! perhaps you, too, may read these words, and may be induced to pause in your fatal intention. Take the advice of a sincere friend, and keep off. To find a man writhing in my man-trap, another mayhap impaled in my ditch, to pick off another from my tree (scoundrel ! as though he were a pear) will give me no pleasure, but such things may happen. Be warned in time, villains! Or, if you must pursue your calling as cracksmen, have the goodness to try some other shutters. Enough! subside into your darkness, children of
night! Thieves ! we seek not to have you hanged-you are but as pegs whereon to hang others.
I may have said before, that if I were going to be hanged myself, I think I should take an accurate note of my sensations, request to stop at some public-house on the road to Tyburn, and be provided with a private room and writing-materials, and give an account of my state of mind. Then, gee up, carter! I beg your reverence to continue your apposite, though not novel, remarks on my situation ;-and so we drive up to Tyburn turnpike, where an expectant crowd, the obliging sheriffs, and the dexterous and rapid Mr. Ketch are already in waiting
A number of laboring people are sauntering about out streets and taking their rest on this holiday—fellows who have no more stolen my pears than they have robbed the crown jewels out of the Tower- and I say I cannot help thinking in my own mind, Are you the rascal who got over my wall last night?” Is the suspicion haunting my mind written on my countenance ? I trust not. What if one man after another were to come up to me and say, “How dare you, sir, suspect me in your mind of stealing your fruit? Go be hanged, you and your jargonels!" You rascal thief ! it is not merely three-halfp'orth of sooty fruit you rob me of, it is my peace of mind-my artless innocence and trust in my fellowcreatures, my childlike belief that everything they say is true. How can I hold out the hand of friendship in this condition, when my first impression is, “My good sir, I strongly suspect that you were up my pear-tree last night ?" It is a dreadful state of mind. The core is black; the death-stricken fruit drops on the bough, and a great worm is within—fattening, and feasting, and wriggling! Who stole the pears? I say. Is it you, brother? Is it
madam? Come ! are you ready to answer-respondere parati et cantare pares ? (o shame! shame!)
Will the villains ever be discovered and punished who stole my fruit? Some unlucky rascals who rob orchards are caught up the tree at once. Some rob through life with impunity. If 1, for my part, were to try and get up the smallest tree, on the darkest night, in the most remote orchard, I wager any money I should be found out-be caught by the leg in a man-trap, or have Towler fastening on I always am found out; have been ; shall be. It's my luck. Other men will carry off bushels of fruit, and get away undetected, unsuspected; where as I know woe and punishment would fall upon me were I to
jay my hand on the smallest pippin. So be it. A man who has this precious self-knowledge will surely keep his hands from picking and stealing, and his feet upon the paths of virtue.
I will assume, my benevolent friend and present reader, that you yourself are virtuous, not from a fear of punishment, but from a sheer love of good : but as you and I walk through life, consider what hundreds of thousands of rąscals we must have met, who have not been found out at all. In high places and low, in Clubs and on 'Change, at church or the balls and routs of the nobility and gentry, how dreadful it is for benevolent beings like you and me to have to think these undiscovered though not unsuspected scoundrels are swarming! What is the difference between you and a galley-slave? Is yonder poor wretch at the hulks not a man and a brother too? Have you ever forged, my dear sir ? Have you ever cheated your neighbor? Have you ever ridden to Hounslow Heath and robbed the mail ? Have you ever entered a first-class railway-carriage, where an old gentleman sat alone in a sweet sleep, daintily murdered him, taken his pocket-book, and got out at the next station? You know that this circumstance occurred in France a few months since. If we have travelled in France this autumn we may have met the ingenious gentleman who perpetrated this daring and successful coup. We may have found him a well-informed and agreeable
I have been acquainted with two or three gentlemen who have been discovered after-after the performance of ille. gal actions. What? That agreeable rattling fellow we met was the celebrated Mr. John Sheppard? Was that amiable quiet gentleman in spectacles the well-known Mr. Fauntleroy? In Hazlitt's admirable paper, “Going to a Fight,” he describes a dashing sporting fellow who was in the coach, and who was no less a man than the eminent destroyer of Mr. William Weare. Don't tell me that you would not like to have met (out of business) Captain Sheppard, the Reverend Doctor Dodd, or others rendered famous by their actions and misfortunes, by their lives and their deaths. They are the subjects of ballads, the heroes of romance. A friend of mine had the house in May Fair, out of which poor Doctor Dodd was taken handcuffed. There was the paved hall over which he stepped. That little room at the side was, no doubt, the study where he composed his elegant sermons. Two years since I had the good fortune to partake of some admirable dinners in Tyburnia — magnificent dinners indeed; but rendered