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Camp-of-the-Brave-Warriors, before Sebastopol, April, 1855. MY EVER DEAR FANNY,-I've got an epistle from Spark, with the dearest message from you, which I should be puzzled how to thank you sufficiently for, only that I know it comes originally from that ugly pig of a governess. She has been poisoning your mind with suggestions that cornets and ensigns, airily clad, are not decent society for young ladies and London drawing-rooms. For your own darling ignorance on war and its tactics, I cannot express admiration enough-though I have tried to attempt it, in my answer to Spark. But now I must enlighten you. Our governors-I speak of those statesmen who rule in England, and enjoy the personal counsels and confidence of her Majesty-are trying to make us a hardy race of warriors, like the ancient Britons, and throughout last winter's severe weather, we had orders to do, as far as possible, without garments; no coats, no waistcoats, and no- -well, continuations; but, now the summer's approaching, we have to be cased in furs. If your groaning governess could look at us now, she'd see a sight. We are smothered in wool from head to foot. Sheepskin waistcoats and trou-continuations, catskin head-dresses, sable muffs, boas, and gloves, and white swansdown coats with yellow plush tails. I can assure you, and you may assure her, that for warmth and elegance our present attire has never been surpassed. If swansdown and yellow silk plush are not decent enough for a drawing-room (besides the lovely contrast in the colours), perhaps you'll ask her what is. So you see, my little innocent, that if we have gone in puris naturalibus (which you may get your starchy governess to translate for you, if she can do it for blushing), it was in obedience to the secret orders of our commanders: and a soldier's duty is to obey, and make no bones over it. As to the taking of Sebastopol, that does not give us a moment's consideration, it is a thing of course-as you young ladies say, "cela va sans dire." We are quite ready to pounce our claws upon it, and are only playing with it, for their torture and our sport, like a cat does with a mouse. I remonstrated with a general yesterday (a very exalted one, whom I mayn't name in a letter) that it was cruel, thus to keep the poor Russian creatures in hourly suspense of the allied attack and their own annihilation, and he agreed with me, and half proposed that I should go into Sebastopol, leading a chosen body, and put an end to it; but I fear he has, for the present, altered his mind.
The prodigies of valour we perform are incredible. Battles are fought continually, and if we have had the misfortune to be winged and legged (which means all four taken off, by the cannon-balls) we don't heed it, but cause ourselves still to be carried to the thick of the fight, in vehicles constructed for the purpose-a new invention, something between a sedan-chair and a bucket. Occasionally we allow the enemy to come out and exchange courtesies with us. Very gentlemanly fellows some of the Russian officers are, and speak capital French. They have to make offerings of dinners and suppers to the Turks. The savoury smell of the dishes is stunning, particularly the sage and onions, and the next time we sniff it, which we shall be sure to do, if the wind blows this way, I, and Cornet Stiffing, and Ensigns Gill and Tubbs, intend to mount our noble chargers and ride over to Eupatoria, the Turkish camp, and honour the dinner-table with our company. And you may judge of the dangers we
are ready to brave, when I tell you that, to effect this, we shall have to go right round by Sebastopol, and stand the firing from all the Russian batteries at once.
We amuse our time pleasantly here on the whole, and receive and give dinner-parties. The electric telegraph is established in the camp. The convenience of this is, that you can summons a friend to a spread at a moment's notice, obviating all that bothering ceremony of invitation notes and envelopes. We have good sport, too, shooting the mallard; and have to stand the chance of being shot ourselves at it, for the wild drake congregate close to the enemy's quarters. Our caterers have been recently landing some wild cattle, which causes indescribable confusion in our ranks. These savage animals are anything but polite: all they do is to tear about the camp, and butt at everybody. A very nice young fellow, in the artillery, had the misfortune to meet one, and the infuriated beast took him on his horns, and tossed him such a height into the air that he never came down again. Tubbs saw it, and came home and told us, and said they were still looking aloft for the body when he left. We are treated to changes in the matter of weather. together, the camp will be an everlasting show of rain, mud, water, wind, rheumatism, and Black Sea fogs; and next, it will be an emblem of all that's pleasant. The sky as blue as a pretty girl's eyes (somebody's I know), and the sun bright and scorching-making us consign (in speech) our furs and woollen wrappers to the lower regions. I gathered to-day a variegated nosegay, hyacinths, crocuses, blue-bells, daffodils, sweetbriar, and others with foreign names, and I wished I could waft it as an offering to you. I would send you some crocus-petals in a letter, only I know that thundering thief of a post-office would be for boning them out of it. I should like to send you a bird-if I knew how to get it to England. We have larks, and sparrows, and tomtits, and water-wagtails, and shining goldfinches, and golden-wrens,-which would you like? Or would you prefer a vulture? You could have a great big cage built for him, and hang it between the two drawing-room windows, outside. We have had a large building run up on Balaklava heights, for the reception of the recovered troops who are still sickly. They are to go there for change of air-like your mamma goes to Brighton and Hastings. It is called a Sanatorium or place of health; and if you want to know what the real English for that is, as applied to this Sanatorium, it's "Hookey Walker."
My dear Fanny, I have great reason to complain. I sent you word to come out to Scutari, and I thought I could depend upon you. Two months ago, about which time I believed you might arrive, I determined to go down to meet you, so I applied at head-quarters for leave of absence. There was a deuce of a difficulty to get it granted me, my services are so efficient up in camp: but after about ten days' suspense and agitation, and ten signatures and counter-signatures, I got my name entered for Scutari. Down I rushed to Balaklava, without a moment's delay, and it was knee-deep in mud, just then, so you may suppose the pickle I was in, when I got there, and boarded a transport that was on the point of starting. I did not care for the state my lower legs were in, or for the inconveniences of the passage, which your ears must be familiar with, if look at the newspapers, or for the groans of the poor sick
and wounded we carried, or for the want of refined food, or for the perfumes of the ship, which were not those of attar-of-rose and lavenderwater, or for the live things which stuck to us all. No: I never felt of these, but I perched myself on the summit of the chimney, to obtain the quickest view of the place which, I fondly hoped, contained you, and drying the mud. Arrived at Scutari, I tramped up to the hospital-a place as big as all Kensington-and went flying through its wards and corridors, alarming the sick inmates with my frantic calls after you. Alas! you had never come. Though I saw Miss Nightingale, and the nuns, and sisters, and the charming white veils, I looked in vain for F. G. Several of the younger ladies cast upon me-well, if I must say it-an eye of favour, but what did I care? The only eye I cared for was not to be seen. I met a friend there, Ensign Hunter, but he had got the palsy, or something of that, and shook all over, and a white nightcap on, which is what they dress in. There was a sinful wretch of a Lieutenant Jones down there, who, when he was in camp, used to play jackall to Major Gum, on purpose to worry the life out of me and Gill. So indignant were our revered government at his having dared to circumvent ME, Ensign Thomas Pepper, that when they had got him fast at Scutari, they would not fill up the necessary forms, in writing, for him to get away from it, and we hope he is cooling his heels there still.
Now will you come? I can't journey periodically to Scutari, on the chance of finding you there, for the camp could afford for almost anybody to waste his time better than me; but if you will send a notification of the probable period of your arrival, I'll manage to get down for it. I don't see why you should shirk coming. Tell your mamma there are ladies of title out there. You need not know anything of nursing, or illness, or hospitals, that's quite superfluous; and I think you would find living there a very agreeable change, if you can stand fleas. You would live with Miss Nightingale and the lady-nurses, and attend my bedside every day in the ward, for I should borrow Hunter's cap and sham sickness. And when I had to go back to camp, you could report that your stamina was not equal to the exertion, and they'd thank you for what you had done, and escort you back to London again. You would get an agreeable trip without cost, and would become familiar with many agreeable foreign sights, funerals in particular. When children and young ladies die in Constantinople, they are carried to the grave in open coffins, with flowers strewing their cold white faces, and they are surrounded with lighted tapers, and the priests and bearers are dressed out in purple and scarlet, and go along the streets, singing the deathchant. It is all very romantic, and you could not fail to enjoy the sight amazingly; so you had better make up your mind without delay, and come where you can see it.
Gill and Tubbs and Stiffing wanted to send their love to you, but I would not allow it, which has made them corky. Do let me have a note from you; don't be cruel; and believe me, my dear Fanny, Your ever devoted,
Miss Fanny Green, Kensington.
WESTWOOD'S "BERRIES AND BLOSSOMS."
OLD in heart must he be, older than the hills-for they, on occasion, can skip like young sheep-who shall find himself none the younger, none the kinder, none the gladder and wiser too, for a reading in this Verse-Book for Young People. There are things in it, which children, now made happy with the possession of it, will enjoy at once, but which they will probably -if they live-enjoy still more, when their children's children are beside them and around them. The book has about it the pervading grace of sympathy with childhood, with its fancies and reveries, its sports and frolics, its lovings and likings. There is much quaint humour; there is many a gleesome sally, many a bit of good-natured satire and bantering fun; there is a finely-touched love of nature, touched to fine issues-a healthy delight in vernal breezes, and summer meadows, and the ways and means of the fish in the sea and the fowl of the air, together with a poetical faculty of giving to these "dumb mouths" an articulate speech, and interpreting for child-listeners and lookers-on the sounds and symbols of the blue heavens above and the green earth beneath.
Mr. Westwood has already submitted his book to one critic, by whose judgment he will not be reluctant to abide-"No solemn elder," he tells us, with a world of dusty wisdom in the wrinkles of his brow, but a little frolicsome child, wise only in the freshness of her heart and mind, and whose praises and penalties were alike spontaneous and sincere." He confesses that, having written books before, never has he written one in which he took greater pleasure or more entire interest. He calls it a play-book rather than a lesson-book, and, to those who shake their heads (there are such people, but we suppose they can't help it) at such an avowal, he addresses his opinion, that children should sometimes be sent into poetry, "just as they are sent into the June sunshine with hoop and skipping-rope, for pastime and relaxation." Let the mandarin heads wag on, if they must; but let not that deter Mr. Westwood from wending his "ain gate"
To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new,
and bringing us other clusters of big bright berries, and bonny springtime blossoms that hang on the bough.
Various enow in subject and in treatment are the contents of this Verse-Book. There is the Confession of a Blue Bell, with its ring-a-ting obligato; there is a smart new version of the old fable of the Owl and the Hawk, which cleverly differentiates between the tu-whit and the tu-whoo of the former bird; there is a Ballad of Giant Despair and the little Prince Goodchild, and another, very notable, of Child Barbara and the Dragon; there is the Tragic History of Puffskin, the Frog, and Peter Piper, the Grasshopper; and again, in the way of simple
* Berries and Blossoms: a Verse-Book for Young People. By T. Westwood, Author of "The Burden of the Bell," &c. London: Darton and Co. 1855.
pathos, there is the "Lark's Grave," and the "Moorland Child," and the "Land of Long Ago," and a "Fireside Story;" while, in that characteristic style of piquant grace and graphic vivacity by which Mr. Westwood is best distinguished, there are such morceaux as Under my Window," and "The Proudest Lady," and "Little Bell," and "Lily on the Hill-top"-the last a capital outburst of youthful spirits and buoyant health, pictured in the tiny maiden's romp with the North Wind himself. Some one 66 copy of verses" from this Verse-book we must select, to give a taste of its quality, and after due hesitation when only one is admissible quoad our space, and so many quoad their own merit, we fix on the piece intituled
Kitten, kitten, two months old,
Life ?" said the Kitten, winking her eyes,
It's patting the little dog's ears, and leaping
Then off and away, like a flash of light,
On the summer-green turf and budding clover;
Kitten, Kitten, come sit on my knee,
The sly, swift shadows sweep over the sun-
(The Kitten stared with her great green eyes,
No more tit-bits, dainty and nice;
June-VOL. CIV. NO. CCCCXIV.