« AnteriorContinuar »
EXTRACT. “ As my kitchen and parlour were not very far from each other, I one day went in to purchase chickens from a person I heard offering them for sale. This was a little stoutlooking woman, who seemed between seventy and eighty years of age. She was almost covered with a tartan plaid, and ber cap had over it a black silk hood, tied under the chin, a piece of dress still much in use among elderly women in that rank of life in Scotland. Her eyes were dark, and remarkably lively and intelligent. I entered into conversation with her, and began by asking how she maintained herself, &c. She said that, in winter, she fitted stockings, that is, knitted feet to country people's stockings—an employment which bears about the same relation to stocking making that cobbling does to shoe making, and is of course both less profitable and less dignified. She added, that she taught a few children to read, and, in summer, “whiles reared a wheen chickens.' * * * * * After some conversation, during which I was more and more pleased with the good sense and navieté of the old woman's remarks, she rose to go away, I then asked her name. Her countenance was suddenly clouded, her colour slightly rose, and she said gravely, or rather solemnly, My name is Helen Walker; but your husband kens weel about me.'
“ In the evening, I mentioned to Mr. , the new acquaintance I had made, and how much I had been pleased, and inquired what was remarkable in the history of this poor woman. Mr. -- said, there were few more extraordinary persons than Helen Walker. She had been early left an orphan, with the charge of a sister considerably younger than herself, whom she educated and maintained by her exertions. It will not be easy to conceive her feelings, when she found that this only sister must be tried by the laws of her country for child murder, and herself called upon as the principal witness against her. The Counsel for the prisoner told Helen, that if she could declare that her sister had made any preparation, however slight, or had given her any intimation whatever of her situation, such a statement would save her sister's life. Helen said, It is impossible for me, sir, to give my oath to a falsehood, and whatever be the consequence, I will give my evidence according to my con<cience. The trial came on. The sister was found guilty,
and condemned. In removing the prisoner from the bar, she was heard to say to her sister, “0, Nelly ! ye hae been the cause o’my death!' Helen replied, 'Ye ken I buid to speak the truth.
" In Scotland, six weeks must elapse between the sentence and its execution, and Helen availed herself of it. The very day of her sister's condemnation she got a petition drawn up, stating the peculiar circumstances of the case, and that same night set out on foot from Dumfries to London, without introduction or recommendation. She presented herself in her tartan plaid and country attire, before John, Duke of Argyle, after having watched three days at his door,) just as he was stepping into his carriage, and delivered her petition. Herself and her story interested him so much, that he immediately procured the pardon she solicited, which was forwarded to Dumfries, and Helen returned, having performed her meritorious journey on foot, in the course of a few weeks.
“ I was so strongly interested in this narrative, that I earnestly wished to prosecute my acquintance with Helen Walker; but as I was to leave the country next day, I was obliged to postpone it till my return in the spring, when my first walk was to Helen's cottage. She had died a short time before. My regret was extreme; and I endeavoured to obtain some account of her from a woman who inhabited the other end of the house. I inquired if Helen had ever spoken of her past history, her journey to London, &c. • Na,' said the old woman, · Helen was a wily body, and whenever ony of the neighbours speer'd ony thing about it, she aye changed the discourse. In short, every answer I received only served to raise my opinion of Helen Walker, who could unite so much prudence with so much heroism and virtue.”
Helen Walker lived on the romantic banks of the Clouden, a little way above the bridge by which the road from Dumfries to Sanquhar crosses that beautiful stream. The name of her younger sister is said to have been Tiboy, (Isabella,) and it is known that, after her liberation from Dumfries jail, she was united in marriage to the father of the little innocent whose premature death had brought her life into jeopardy, and that she lived with him in the north of England, where Helen used occasionally to visit her. The remains of the
old woman were interred in the church-yard of Trongray, in spring 1787, without a stone to mark the spot where they are deposited.”
DOCTOR DOBBS AND HIS NAG NOBBS.
Doctor Daniel Dobbs, of Doncaster, had a nag that was called Nobbs. One day, in the middle of winter, the doctor having been summoned to attend a patient at some distance from his dwelling, and being anxious to return home before it was dark, rode poor Nobbs very hard. On bis arrival, not finding his man in the way, the doctor fastened Nobbs by his bridle to a rail in the yard, and went into his parlour, where he sat down to warm himself by a good fire. It had happened that in the morning the doctor's dairy-maid had brewed a barrel of strong beer, which had been drawn off into the cooler; and the dairy-maid having been called away to milk her cows, she had carelessly left the door of the brewhouse open. The steam of the beer proved wonderfully inviting to poor Nobbs, who had been hard rode, and now stood in the cold extremely thirsty. After sundry efforts he got loose from the rail, and repairing to the brewhouse, he drank so heartily of the strong beer, that before he was aware of it he fell down dead drunk. The doctor's man coming home, ran into the yard to convey Nobbs to the stable; not finding him at the rail, he looked about, and at length discovered him stretched on the ground, cold and insensible. Bursting into the parlour, where the doctor was sitting with Mrs. Dobbs, he communicated to them the news of poor Nobby's decease. The doctor and Mrs. Dobbs were both good-natured people, and of course were much concerned ; but as the doctor never suffered misfortunes to get the better of his discretion, he immediately gave orders that Nobbs should, without delay, be flead, and that his skin should be taken the next morning to the currier.
The doctor's man accordingly set to work; poor Nobbs was dragged to the dunghill, his skin was stripped off, and he was left to be eaten by the hounds. He had not, however, laid long, before the novelty of his situation had a considerable effect upon him. As he had lost his skin, of course the coldness of the night operated with double activity in dissipating the fumes of the beer which he had swallowed ; and at length he awoke, got upon his legs, and trotted away to the stable door, which happened to be close by the parlour. Not finding it open, and being both cold and hungry, he began to whinny for assistance. The doctor and his wife had just done supper, and happened at that moment to be talking of the accident which had befallen their nag, over a hot bowl of brandy punch. No sooner had Nobbs whinnied, than Mrs. Dobbs turned pale, and exclaimed, “ Doctor Dobbs! as sure as I live that is Nobb's voice, I know him by his whinny !” “ My dear,” said the doctor, “it is Nobb's whinny sure enough; but, poor thing, he is dead, and has been flead.” He had hardly said this before Nobbs whinnied again—up jumps the doctor, takes a candle in his hand, and runs into the yard ; the first thing he saw was Nobbs himself without his skin. The doctor summoned all his servants, ordered six sheep to be killed, and clapped their skins upon poor Nobbs. To make a long story short, Nobbs recovered, and did his work as well as ever. The sheep skins stuck fast, and answered his purpose as well as his own skin ever did. But what is most remarkable, as well as most to our point, the wool grew rapidly; and when the shearing season came, the doctor had Nobbs sheared. Every year he gave the doctor a noble fleece, for he carried upon his back, you know, as much as six sheep; and as long as Nobbs lived, all the doctor's stockings, and all Mrs. Dobbs's flannel petticoats were made of his wool.
Having thus communicated to you this very curious and well-authenticated fact, I submit to your superior wisdom, the propriety of encouraging the breed of woolly horses and cows. There can be no reason why the same principle should not equally apply to cats and dogs, and other domesticated animals; and perhaps some patriotic member of your society may enlarge the sphere of his researches, and try the experiment of propagating a breed of woolly men and women ; the obvious utility of which is too evident to make it necessary for me to enlarge upon it.
I am, Sir,
With great respect,
THE LOUNGER'S PIC NIC.
“ Dulce est desipere in loco.”—HOR.
GOOD QUARTERS. When General Pichegru entered Maestricth, during the early period of the French revolution, he experienced some difficulty in obtaining quarters for his troops. A merchant who considered himself very patriotic, called on him, and gave him a list of Orangists who had soldiers quartered on them, though not in sufficient numbers, in the opinion of this demagogue, who wished that the Aristocrat's should have their houses filled with troops from the cellar to the garret. • I am obliged to you for this information,' said Pichegru;
and have they sent you any soldiers, citizen ? · Yes general.' • How many ? · Four.' • That will do. The merchant had no sooner returned home than forty more soldiers arrived, and took possession of his house. He hastened back to the general, to inform him that some mistake had taken place. • Oh no,' said Pichegru, “I only removed my men from those vile Orangists, who, I knew, would ill-treat them, to place them in the house of a patriot like you, where I am sure they will be received hospitably.'
CHERRY FEAST. There is a feast celebrated at Hamburgh, called the . Feast of Cherries,' in which troops of children parade the streets with green boughs, ornamented with cherries, to commemorate the following event :-In 1432, the Hussites threatened the city of Hamburgh with immediate destruction, when one of the citizens, named Wolf, proposed that all the children of the city, from seven to fourteen years of age, should be clad in mourning, and sent as supplicants to the enemy. Procopius Nasus, chief of the Hussites, was so touched with this spectacle, that he received the young supplicants, regaled them with cherries and other fruits, and promised them to spare the city. The children returned, crowned with leaves, holding cherries, and crying, ' victory.'
THE WISDOM OF CATWG. *
A MAN'S CHOICE THINGS. This was addressed by Catwg the Wise to his father * From No. XVI. of the Cambro-Briton, a periodical work devoted to the History, Antiquities, and Literature of Wales.