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parts, (we, the collective mail, I or Highflier, all flaunting with green mean,) did our utmost to exalt the and gold, came up alongside of us. idea of our privileges by the insolence What a contrast to our royal simpliwith which we wielded them. Whe- city of form and colour is this plebeian tber this insolence rested upon law wretch! The single ornament on our that gave it a sanction, or upon con- dark ground of chocolate colour was scious power, haughtily dispensing the mighty shield of the imperial with that sanction, equally it spoke arms, but emblazoned in proportions from a potential station; and the as modest as a signet-ring bears to a agent in each particular insolence of seal of office. Even this was displayed the moment, was viewed reverentially, only on a single pannel, whispering, as one having authority.
rather than proclaiming, our relations Sometimes after breakfast his ma- to the state ; whilst the beast from jesty's mail would become frisky; and Birmingham had as much writing in its difficult wheelings amongst the and painting on its sprawling flanks intricacies of early markets, it would as would have puzzled a decipherer upset an apple-cart, a cart loaded from the tombs of Luxor. For some with eggs, &c. Huge was the afflic. time this Birmingham machine ran tion and dismay, awful was the smash, along by our side,--a piece of familithough, after all, I believe the damage arity that seemed to us sufficiently might be levied upon the hundred. jacobinical. But all at once a moveI, as far as was possible, endeavoured ment of the horses announced a desin such a case to represent the con- perate intention of leaving us behind. science and moral sensibilities of the “Do you see that?" I said to the mail; and, when wildernesses of eggs coachman. “I see," was his short were lying poached under our horses' answer. He was awake, yet he waited hoofs, then would I stretch forth my longer than seemed prudent ; for the hands in sorrow, saying (in words too horses of our audacious opponent had celebrated in those days from the a disagreeable air of freshness and false* echoes of Marengo)-“Ah! power. But his motive was loyal ; wherefore have we not time to weep his wish was that the Birmingham over you ? " which was quite impos- conceit should be full-blown before he sible, for in fact we had not even time froze it. When that seemed ripe, he to laugh over them. Tied to post- unloosed, or, to speak by a stronger office time, with an allowance in some image, he sprang his known resources, cases of fifty minutes for eleven miles, he slipped our royal horses like could the royal mail pretend to under- cheetas, or hunting leopards after the take the offices of sympathy and condo- affrighted game. How they could lence? Could it be expected to provide retain such a reserve of fiery power tears for the accidents of the road? If after the work they had accomplished, even it seemed to trample on humanity, seemed hard to explain. But on our it did so, I contended, in discharge of side, besides the physical superiority, its own more peremptory duties. was a tower of strength, namely, the
Upholdingthe morality of the mail, à king's name, “ which they upon the fortiori I upheld its rights, I stretched adverse faction wanted." Passing to the utterinostits privilege of imperial them without an effort, as it seemed, precedency, and astonished weak minds we threw them into the rear with so by the feudal powers which I hinted lengthening an interval between us, to be lurking constructively in the as proved in itself the bitterest mockcharters of this proud establishment. ery of their presumption ; whilst our Once I remember being on the box of guard blew back a shattering blast of the Holyhead mail, between Shrews- triumph, that was really too painfully bury and Oswestry, when a tawdry full of derision. thing from Birmingham, some Tallyho I mention this little incident for its
* " False echoes”-yes, false ! for the words ascribed to Napoleon, as breathed to the memory of Desaix, never were uttered at all. They stand in the same category of theatrical inventions as the cry of the foundering Vengeur, as the vaunt of General Cambronne at Waterloo,“ La Garde meurt, mais ne se rend pas," as the repartees of Talleyrand.
connexion with what followed. A for regulating the precedency of Welshman, sitting behind me, asked coaches, as being probably the statute if I had not felt my heart burn within relied on for the capital punishment me during the continuance of the of such offences, he replied drily-That race? I said-No; because we were if the attempt to pass a mail was not racing with a mail, so that no really treasonable, it was a pity that glory could be gained. In fact, it the Tallyho appeared to have so imwas sufficiently mortifying that such perfect an acquaintance with law. a Birmingham thing should dare to These were among the gaieties of my challenge us. The Welshman re- earliest and boyish acquaintance with plied, that he didn't see that; for that mails. But alike the gayest and the a cat might look at a king, and a most terrific of my experiences rose Brummagem coach might lawfully again after years of slumber, armed race the Holyhead mail. “Race us with preternatural power to shake my perhaps," I replied, "though even dreaming sensibilities; sometimes, as that has an air of sedition, but not in the slight case of Miss Fanny on beat us. This would have been trea- the Bath road, (which I will immeson; and for its own sake I am glad diately mention,) through some casual that the Tallyho was disappointed." or capricious association with images So dissatisfied did the Welshman originally gay, yet opening at some seem with this opinion, that at last I stage of evolution into sudden capawas obliged to tell him a very fine cities of horror; sometimes through story from one of our elder drama- the more natural and fixed alliances tists, viz.—that once, in some Ori- with the sense of power so various ental region, when the prince of all lodged in the mail system. the land, with his splendid court, The modern modes of travelling were flying their falcons, a hawk cannot compare with the mail-coach suddenly flew at a majestic eagle; and system in grandeur and power. They in defiance of the eagle's prodigious boast of more velocity, but not however advantages, in sight also of all the as a consciousness, but as a fact of astonished field-sportsmen, specta- our lifeless knowledge, resting upon tors, and followers, killed him on the alien evidence; as, for instance, bespot. The prince was struck with cause somebody says that we have amazement at the unequal contest, gone fifty miles in the hour, or upon and with burning admiration for its the evidence of a result, as that actuunparalleled result. He commanded ally we find ourselves in York four that the hawk should be brought hours after leaving London. Apart before him ; caressed the bird with from such an assertion, or such a result, enthusiasm, and ordered that, for the I am little aware of the pace. But, commemoration of his matchless seated on the old mail-coach, we needcourage, a crown of gold should be ed no evidence out of ourselves to solemnly placed on the hawk's head; indicate the velocity. On this system but then that, immediately after this the word was—Non magna loquimur, coronation, the bird should be led off as upon railways, but magna vivimus. to execution, as the most valiant The vital experience of the glad aniindeed of traitors, but not the less a mal sensibilities made doubts impostraitor that had dared to rise in rebel- sible on the question of our speed; lion against his liege lord the eagle. we heard our speed, we saw it, we felt * Now," said I to the Welshman, it as a thrilling; and this speed was “how painful it would have been to not the product of blind insensate you and me as men of refined feelings, agencies, that had no sympathy to that this poor brute, the Tallyho, in give, but was incarnated in the fiery the impossible case of a victory over eyeballs of an animal, in his dilated us, should have been crowned with nostril, spasmodic muscles, and echojewellery, gold, with Birmingham ing hoofs. This speed was incarnated ware, or paste diamonds, and then in the visible contagion amongst brutes led off to instant execution." The of some impulse, that, radiating into Welshman doubted if that could be their natures, had yet its centre and warranted by law. And when I hinted beginning in man. The sensibility of at the 10th of Edward III. chap. 15, the horse uttering itself in the maniac light of his eye, might be the last How else, for example, than as a vibration in such a movement; the constant watcher for the dawn, and glory of Salamanca might be the first for the London mail that in summer -but the intervening link that con- months entered about dawn into the nected them, that spread the earth- lawny thickets of Marlborough Forest, quake of the battle into the eyeball of couldst thou, sweet Fanny of the Bath the horse, was the heart of man- road, have become known to myself? kindling in the rapture of the fiery Yet Fanny, as the loveliest young strife, and then propagating its own woman for face and person that pertumults by motions and gestures to haps in my whole life I have beheld, the sympathies, more or less dim, in merited the station which even her I his servant the horse.
could not willingly have spared; yet But now, on the new system of (thirty-five years later) she holds in travelling, iron tubes and boilers have my dreams; and though, by an accidisconnected man's heart from the dent of fanciful caprice, she brought ministers of his locomotion. Nile nor along with her into those dreams a Trafalgar has power any more to raise troop of dreadful creatures, fabulous an extra bubble in a steam-kettle. and not fabulous, that were more The galvanic cycle is broken up for abominable to a human heart than ever; man's imperial nature no longer Fanny and the dawn were delightful. sends itself forward through the elec- Miss Fanny of the Bath road, strictly tric sensibility of the horse; the inter- speaking, lived at a mile's distance agencies are gone in the mode of com- from that road, but came so conmunication between the horse and his tinually to meet the mail, that I on master, out of which grew so many my frequent transits rarely missed aspects of sublimity under accidents her, and naturally connected her name of mists that hid, or sudden blazes with the great thoroughfare where I that revealed, of mobs that agitated, saw lier; I do not exactly know, but or midnight solitudes that awed. Tid- I believe with some burthen of comings, fitted to convulse all nations, missions to be executed in Bath, her must henceforwards travel by culinary own residence being probably the process; and the trumpet that once centre to which these commissions announced from afar the laurelled mail, gathered. The mail coachman, who heart-shaking, when heard screaming wore the royal livery, being one on the wind, and advancing through amongst the privileged few, * hapthe darkness to every village or soli- pened to be Fanny's grandfather. A tary house on its route, has now given good man he was, that loved his way for ever to the pot-wallopings of beautiful granddaughter; and, loving the boiler.
her wisely, was vigilant over her Thus have perished multiform open- deportment in any case where young ings for sublime effects, for interesting Oxford might happen to be concerned. personal communications, for revela- Was I then vain enough to imagine tions of impressive faces that could that I myself individually could fall not have offered themselves amongst within the line of his terrors ? Certhe hurried and fluctuating groups of tainly not, as regarded any physical a railway station. The gatherings of pretensions that I could plead; for gazers about a mail-coach had one Fauny (as a chance passenger from centre, and acknowledged only one her own neighbourhood once told me) interest. But the crowds attending counted in her train a hundred and at a railway station have as little ninety-nine professed admirers, if not unity as running water, and own as open aspirants to her favour ; and many centres as there are separate probably not one of the whole brigade carriages in the train.
but excelled myself in personal advan* “Privileged few.” The general impression was that this splendid costume belonged of right to the mail coachmen as their professional dress. But that was an error. To the guard it did belong as a matter of course, and was essential as an official warrant, and a means of instant identification for his person, in the discharge of his important public duties. But the coachman, and especially if his place in the series did not connect him immediately with London and the General Post Office, obtained the scarlet coat only as an honorary distinction after long or special service. tages. Ulysses even, with the unfair crocodile infirmity of his I planted an advantage of his accursed bow, could easy opportunity for tendering my hardly have undertaken that amount homage to Miss Fanny. In defiance of suitors. So the danger might have of all his honourable vigilance, no seemed slight-only that woman is sooner had he presented to us his universally aristocratic: it is amongst mighty Jovian back, (what a field for her nobilities of heart that she is so. displaying to mankind his royal scarNow, the aristocratic distinctions in let!) whilst inspecting professionally my favour might easily with Miss the buckles, the straps, and the silver Fanny have compensated my physi- turrets of his harness, than I raised cal deficiencies. Did I then make Miss Fanny's hand to my lips, and, love to Fanny? Why, yes; mais oui by the mixed tenderness and respectdonc; as much love as one can make fulness of my manner, caused her whilst the mail is changing horses, a easily to understand how happy it process which ten years later did not would have made me to rank upon her occupy above eighty seconds; but list as No. 10 or 12, in which case a then, viz. about Waterloo, it occupied few casualties amongst her lovers (and five times eighty. Now, four hun- observe — they hanged liberally in dred seconds offer a field quite ample those days) might have promoted me enough for whispering into a young speedily to the top of the tree; as, woman's ear a great deal of truth; on the other hand, with how much and (by way of parenthesis) some loyalty of submission I acquiesced in trifle of falsehood. Grandpapa did her allotment, supposing that she had right, therefore, to watch me. And seen reason to plant me in the very yet, as happens too often to the grand- rearward of her favour, as No. 199+1. papas of earth, in a contest with the It must not be supposed that I aladmirers of granddaughters, how lowed any trace of jest, or even of vainly would he have watched me playfulness, to mingle with these exhad I meditated any evil whispers to pressions of my admiration ; that Fanny! She, it is my belief, would would have been insulting to her, have protected herself against any and would have been false as regarded man's evil suggestions. But he, as my own feelings. In fact, the utter the result showed, could not have shadowyness of our relations to each intercepted the opportunities for such other, even after our meetings through suggestions. Yet he was still active; seven or eight years had been very he was still blooming. Blooming he numerous, but of necessity had been was as Fanny herself.
very brief, being entirely on mail
coach allowance-timed, in reality, by “Say, all our praises why should lords--"
the General Post-Office--and watched No, that's not the line :
by a crocodile belonging to the ante“Say, all our roses why should girls engross?"
penultimate generation, left it easy
for me to do a thing which few people The coachman showed rosy blossoms ever can have done—viz., to make on his face deeper even than his love for seven years, at the same granddaughter's, — his being drawn time to be as sincere as ever creature from the ale - cask, Fanny's from was, and yet never to compromise youth and innocence, and from the myself by overtures that might have fountains of the dawn. But, in spite been foolish as regarded my own of his blooming face, some infirmities interests, or misleading as regarded he had ; and one particularly, (I am hers. Most truly I loved this beautivery sure, no more than one,) in ful and ingenuous girl ; and had it which he too much resembled a croco- not been for the Bath and Bristol dile. This lay in a monstrous inapti- mail, heaven only knows what might tude for turning round. The crocodile, have come of it. People talk of being I presume, owes that inaptitude to over head and ears in love-now, the the absurd length of his back; but in mail was the cause that I sank only our grandpapa it arose rather from over ears in love, which, you know, the absurd breadth of his back, com- still left a trifle of brain to overlook bined, probably, with some growing the whole conduct of the affair. I stiffness in his legs. Now upon this have mentioned the case at all for the
sake of a dreadful result from it in The two animals had misunderstood after years of dreaming. But it seems, each other. The use of the crocodile ex abundanti, to yield this moral-viz. has now been cleared up-it is to be that as, in England, the idiot and the ridden; and the use of man is, that he half-wit are held to be under the guar- may improve the health of the crocodianship of Chancery, so the man mak- dile by riding him a fox-hunting before ing love, who is often but a variety ofthe breakfast. And it is pretty certain that same imbecile class, ought to be made any crocodile, who has been regularly a ward of the General Post-Office, hunted through the season, and is whose 'severe course of timing and master of the weight he carries, will periodical interruption might inter- take a six-barred gate now as well as cept many a foolish declaration, such ever he would have done in the infancy as lays a solid foundation for fifty of the Pyramids. years' repentance.
Perhaps, therefore, the crocodile Ah, reader! when I look back upon does not change, but all things else do ; those days, it seems to me that all even the shadow of the Pyramids grows things change or perish. Even thun less. And often the restoration in vision der and lightning, it pains me to say, of Fanny and the Bath road, makes are not the thunder and lightning me too pathetically sensible of that which I seem to remember about the truth. Out of the darkness, if I happen time of Waterloo. Roses, I fear, are to call up the image of Fanny from degenerating, and, without a Red re- thirty-five years back, arises suddenly volution, must come to the dust. The a rose in June; or, if I think for an Fannies of our island-though this I instant of the rose in June, up rises say with reluctance-are not improy. the heavenly face of Fanny. One after ing; and the Bath road is notoriously the other, like the antiphonies in a superannuated. Mr Waterton tells choral service, rises Fanny and the rose me that the crocodile does not change in June, then back again the rose in - that a cayman, in fact, or an alli- June and Fanny. Then come both gator, is just as good for riding upon together, as in a chorus; roses and as he was in the time of the Pharaohs. Fannies, Fannies and roses, without That may be ; but the reason is, that end-thick as blossoms in paradise. the crocodile does not live fast-he is Then comes a venerable crocodile, in a a slow coach. I believe it is generally royal livery of scarlet and gold, or in understood amongst naturalists, that a coat with sixteen capes; and the the crocodile is a blockhead. It is my crocodile is driving four - in- hand own impression that the Pharaohs were from the box of the Bath mail. also blockheads. Now, as the Pha. And suddenly we upon the mail raohs and the crocodile domineered over are pulled up by a mighty dial, sculpEgyptian society, this accounts for a tured with the hours, and with the singular mistake that prevailed on the dreadful legend of TOO LATE. Then Nile. The crocodile made the ridicu- all at once we are arrived in Marllous blunder of supposing man to be borough forest, amongst the lovely meant chiefly for his own eating. households* of the roe-deer : these reMan, taking a different view of the tire into the dewy thickets; the thickets subject, naturally met that mistake by are rich with roses; the roses call up another; he viewed the crocodile as a (as ever) the sweet countenance of thing sometimes to worship, but always Fanny, who, being the granddaughter to run away from. And this continued of a crocodile, awakens a dreadful until Mr Waterton changed the rela- host of wild semi-legendary animalstions between the animals. The mode griffins, dragons, basilisks, sphinxes of escaping from the reptile he showed —till at length the whole vision of to be, not by running away, but by fighting images crowds into one towerleaping on its back, booted and spurred. ing armorial shield, a vast emblazonry
* * Households."-Roe-deer do not congregate in herds like the fallow or the red deer, but by separate families, parents, and children ; which feature of approximation to the sanctity of human hearths, added to their comparatively miniature and graceful proportions, conciliate to them an interest of a peculiarly tender character, ir less dignitied by the grandeurs of savage and forest life.