« EdellinenJatka »
their seams up, like so many tailors translating old garments into new. “All nature,” so goes the Legend, “shuddered to hear such an awful cracking of callipashes and callipees; but there was no help for it: like lobster-boiling, it must be done to do them properly, and serve them up as a dish fit for the gods. As much as Alderman Curtis would have mourned the sad necessity, if such a crime had been committed in his time, his good old Marine Majesty lamented this frightful abuse of Turtle : he was even weak enough to shed salt tears when he signed their death-warrant, for it was nothing less when he issued these letters of marque and reprisal to the Rays. He was so choked and subdued by sorrow, indeed, that he could hardly shake his trident at them, and call them the d-d sea-scoundrels they were, and he knew well they were. His good queen, too, shed tears of tender compassion ; and “these were the first pearls,” so says the Legend. In that awful hour, also (according to a note in the Appendix), the then unembodied spirits, predestined to become the souls or vivifying principles of London aldermen and great guttling citizens in after-ages, and in this age, and in ages still to come, till aldermen shall be no more, and great citizens are all gone out, like sparks in a burnt sheet of paper, shuddered to see such an enormous sacrifice of soup in the wild spirit of revenge. What though these Turtles were tyrants, they urged, their tyranny would surcease as soon as they were boiled down. Birch and Bleaden would make them as gentle as a jam, and as sensitive as a jelly. Neptune heard
66 Their murmurs, with sighing sent," and, looking as black as thunder at them, bade them hold their ghostly tongues, and
about their business : he would not hear a word more in mitigation of punishment. By his Imperial trident, threatening with it these grumblers, he swore that a terrible example should be made of the oppressors of his patient poor seapeople; and when he swore, these ghosts of sitting aldermen thereafter hurried from his presence, perfectly ashamed of his Majesty, shaking their heads at such an example to his subjects, and wondering where he had been brought up, in what vulgar under-water Wapping, that he had learned such coarse, unkingly expressions. It is supposed, and it seems probable, psychologically considered, that to the shock -they received in this contemplated sacrifice of Turtle is to be traced the sadness of spirit which sits on aldermen when on the bench, and makes them so
severe with drunken sailors, Billingsgate fishwives, and all watermen brought before them for abusing the Queen's English ; and which makes them so malcontent when at the board, that they seem never to be soup-satisfied. And this it is, it is likewise said, which renders my Lord Mayor's Show so sad a sight to see, when you can get a glimpse of it through the gloom of November ! This it is which makes the entertainment after dinner dull, though Count Skimmilkpenandink, the Dutch ambassador, is present and pleasant! And this it is which makes the four-and-twenty aldermen, in full court assembled, so grave a deliberative body, with so little wit, that it is not worth mentioning.
“And from that time,” so goes the Legend, “ the Rays being armed, and a match for the tyrannical Turtles, had no more seagentry quartered upon them, as though they were the publicans and tavern-keepers of the Deep, whether they had lodgings to let or no ; and thus ended the tyranny of two in a bed. And this,” says the Legend distinctly, “is the veritable origin of Rays now going to sea armed en fluke, and being called Thornbacks."
A NEW-YEAR'S SONNET.
Now, while the chimes their gladsome message ring,
Saying to lone ones who keep house with Fear,
In tones by Night and Silence made more clear,
So doth removal Ruin's spite outlast;
HENRY F. CHORLEY.
AN IDLER - ON IDLENESS."
: In these days, when thinkers on social organisation and multitudinous philanthropists are striving to the utmost of their ability (or inclination) to ameliorate the condition of the people, it is interesting to meet with a person, who not only denies the necessity for such amelioration, but looks upon all who attempt it as fools, or something worse. A man like this I encountered some short time since, who struck me as a very good specimen of the sceptical do-nothing class.
I was on board the “Orwell,” Ipswich steam-vessel, intending to be landed at that nice little Essex watering-place, Walton-onthe-Naze. I had brought a lately-published book with me, to serve as a resource in case the voyage seemed tedious; but happening the evening before to dip into the commencement of it, I was so much interested that I resolved to resume it on board the steamer pretty early in the day's travelling. Accordingly, when breakfast was over, and we had fairly left Gravesend some distance behind us, I descended into the saloon, and seating myself in a very satisfactory sort of sofa, prepared to enjoy the good things which the author had provided for me. An elderly stout gentleman was sitting at a table close to me, with a newspaper in his hand, which he was perusing with a very uncomfortable and contemptuous expression of countenance. I had not read a dozen words of my book, when he threw down the newspaper, exclaiming loudly, “Stuff !–Gammon !—Infernal nonsense and humbug !.”
I looked up in some surprise at this outbreak, not knowing exactly whether I was to consider it as addressed to myself, or as a soliloquy. The stout gentleman continued :
Ah, sir ! —all humbug, and nothing else. Is n't it too bad, when I buy a copy of the “Times ”--the "Times”'-sir, mind me, and not one of your twopenny-halfpenny papers-isn't it too bad, I say, when I buy a paper like this, expecting to find something rational and entertaining in it, to amuse me in this confounded long, stupid voyage to Ipswich—is n't it too bad, I say again, to find it filled with debates in parliament about the condition of the people,' and letters from correspondents about the condition NO. XXV -VOL. V.
of the people,' and leading articles about the condition of the people ?' Curse the condition of the people ! It 's enough to make a man sick, to be dosed with such cant !
“You are not interested, then, sir, in the condition of England question,' as Carlyle calls it?" said Í.
Sir,” said he, “I am interested in what concerns myself, and myself only, and I leave other people to take care of their own affairs—that's my way, sir. As for such a deistical, atheistical scoundrel as Carlile, sir, I don't care a button what he says. I saw the Bishops hanging out of his window in Fleet-street ; and I'd have given a trifle to have seen him himself hanged on a scaffold in the Old Bailey.”
“I do not mean Richard Carlile, sir,” said I, smiling, in spite of decency, at this ridiculous mistake : “I mean Thomas Carlyle, author of The French Revolution,' Past and Present,' and other excellent works."
“Sir,” said he, “I know nothing of him or them, and what's more, I don't want to know. If he writes humbug about 'social amelioration,' and elevation of the masses,' and such like stuff
-as by your account I suppose he does-stirring up poor, ignorant people to be discontented with their own lot and the lot of those they see around them ; why then, I say, he's no writer
Steward, a glass of brandy and water !” I was so much amused by this sturdy advocate for “ things as they are,” that I determined to pursue the conversation, instead of reading my book or going upon deck, one or the other of which I should have done, had he been less violent and absurd.
“But surely, sir,” said I, “some improvement is desirable and
“All possible improvement will take place in due course, sir,” said he; "and that without you or I troubling our heads about it. They talk of the 'people.' Sir, I know the people, and I know there is not one distressed poor man in fifty whose distress has not arisen from his own fault. Drunkenness, sir, drunkenness is the bane of the English workman—-Steward, are you going to bring me that glass of brandy-and-water to-day?” “ Then you deny general distress?” said I.
Any greater distress than is usual and inherent in every properly-constituted society I do deny,” said he. “Sir, there is a cant of philanthropy now, as there have been other cants; but this morbid nonsense will pass away in time. I will relate an
incident that occurred to myself, not three months ago ; an incident that confirmed me more in my belief of the humbug of the poor man' cry than twenty octavo volumes could have done." “I shall be very happy to hear it, sir,” said I.
Well, sir," said he, “you must know that I reside in a snug villa of my own, not far from Ipswich. Providence has blessed me with a sufficiency, which I inherit from my father, who was one of the most celebrated merchants, sir, in the city of London. I grow my own vegetables-am never at a loss in
hothouse for grapes, melons, and such like ; and have always a bottle of good port in my cellar. So, sir, I live comfortably, owing nothing, and envying no man.
Well, about three months ago, as I said, I was strolling about my little front garden after breakfast, when, as I happened to lean over the railings close to the high road, a dirty ragged sort of fellow, who was crawling by, stopped right before me and began to beg. There was something in the fellow's appearance I didn't like at all. He had a beard of a week's growth seemingly, was unwashed, and without a decent article of clothing upon him. Well, he began begging as I said, and I told him to go and get work, and not lead that disreputable kind of life.
“Work!' said he ; "ah, I wish anybody would give me work."
“Do you mean to say you would work if you could ? ' said I. “. Ah, master, try me,' said the fellow.
“Well, a thought came into my head that I would just satisfy myself whether he really was of an industrious turn; or whether, as I strongly suspected, he was only an idle vagabond, who chose rather to beg than to earn his own livelihood.
Very well, I will try you,' said I. Here, just step this way.'.
* Well, I took him into a large gravel yard on one side of the house where I keep fowls.
«« « Now,' said I, “take a spade and dig a hole on the left side of this yard. The hole must be nine feet long, four feet broad, and three feet deep. Throw all the earth, when you have dug the hole, on the right side of the yard. You shall have a shilling and
your dinner for doing this.”
gave him this job because I had read about their serving paupers so in the poor-houses, and I thought it was a good plan to try him.