Billeder på siden


mental conflict, I knew myself to be task, even in good faith, he will inbrave, only because I wanted courage voluntarily cast his defects into the to be a coward. No man fears death shade, or endeavour to screen them more than I do, or would shrink more from our view. Depend on it, when sensitively from its appalling gripe. “ pimpled Hazlitt' draws his own But in me the certainty of shame portrait, he manages that the chief of being cut off from my fellow-men, light does not fall on his “ starry a mark for the finger of scorn to point front,” or the huge carbuncle on his at-outweighed in terror the probabi- nose, and you will see nothing on canlity of death. Surely to choose the vass of the obtrusive buck-tooth by least of two evils, one of which is which his visage is disfigured. So it inevitable, is no proof of courage ; is with us all. Our weakness will not more than this I have never done. let us exhibit ourselves as God made

You will say this verges on para- us, our vanity is ever at work to condox, but I cannot think so. The le- ceal our mental blotches anderuptions, gitimate conclusion to be drawn from to erase the impression of the seal it is, not that he is the brave man which nature set on us, and soften who runs away, and the coward who down into dull smoothness and monofights, because both equally follow the tony, those marks and prominences stronger impulse. The brave man on which our very idiosyncrasy dedoes not fear death less than the cow. pends. ard, but he fears disgrace more.

But what a man has not courage I have been more prolix about these to say openly of himself, he may say matters than they require, but I wish in the person of another, his words ed you not to think that the task you may be uttered by other lips, and his impose upon me, of favouring the sentiments transferred to another bopublic with an account of my som; and the belief that this was done morabilia," was attended with neither by Lord Byron in his assumed chapain nor sacrifice on my part, and also racter of Childe Harold, was the cir. that

you should understand the spirit cumstance that contributed more than of perfectopenness and sincerity which any other to the vivid and overweenI shall bring to the execution of it. I ing interest with which that vigorous shall at least not attempt to pass my- creation has been regarded by the self for better than I am, and if I world. Even in the trifling Sketches trade in base metal, no man shall say which I am about to attempt, therethat I palmed it on him for gold. Of fore, I cannot but consider the “ autobiography, (commonly so called,) minis umbra” under which I abide, a God knows we have enough, and more great and indispensable advantage. It than enough. Repetition has staled is a mask which will not hide the its infinite varieties, and from Cum- changes of the countenance, a robe berland and Colley Cibber, both up« which will not cover the working of wards and downwards, we have been the muscles, or the pulsation of the palled with all the incense and adula- heart. tion which vanity is ever seeking op It is unnecessary that I should say portunity to offer at the shrine of self more. If, after a calm and deliberate love. Vanity, in various modifications consideration, you still persist in thinkindeed, but still vanity, is and must ing your work can derive advantage be the ruling principle of this kind of froin any communications of mine, I work. Some men delight to show will not refuse to grant the act of themselves in a full-dress holiday suit, friendship you have so earnestly deand cooped up in stays and a stiff cra manded." I only fear you will accuse vat, others dress themselves like opera me of inordinate vanity in saying so dancers, in flesh-coloured silk, which much where so little was required, and they wish to pass off upon us for their furnishing a commentary so volumiskin. Easily, however, as such de nous and disproportioned to the value ceptions are detected, they are probam of the text. This is, at best, to adopt bly all that, in this kind of writing, the exaggeration of the Eastern Costerwe have any reason to expect. monger, who proclaims to the world,

No man will reveal of himself that in the name of the prophet—" Figs." which he knows must render him an Ever yours, &c. object of disgust or aversion to his

SPENCER MOGGRIDGE. fellow-men. When he approaches the




The Poacher.

In a distant part of the parish, in bring him within view of the desolate one of its wildest and most uncultiva- tract already noticed, and will conduct ted regions, stands a solitary cottage, him safely, for in truth there is no which, not more from the absolute pass besides itself across the wild, to dreariness of its location, than from the hovel in question. There it ends. the melancholy aspect of its architec- It stretches nowhere beyond ; indeed, ture, can hardly fail to attract the no it has evidently been formed by the tice of any wanderer who may chance tread of the tenants of that lonely hato pass that way. It stands all alone bitation, as they have gone to or reupon a desolate moor. There are not turned from church and market; the even the varieties occasioned by hill scantiness of the soil has doubtless and dale, to give to the thing the given a facility to its formation; for, least of a romantic appearance; but, in truth, were any human being to as far as the eye can reach, all is one walk twenty times backwards and forflat, dreary common, so perfectly bare' wards over any given spot in the moor, of pasture that the very sheep seem to he would leave a trace of his journey shun it, whilst one or two old wither. behind him, which whole summers ed firs give evidence that man has, at and winters would hardly suffice to some period or another, endeavoured obliterate. to turn it to use, but has abandoned the Whilst the front door of the cottage attempt, because he found it fruitless. opens at once upon the heath, a couple

Almost in the centre of this moor of roods of garden-ground, surroundstands the cottage above alluded to. ed by a broken gorse-hedge in the Its walls, constructed partly of brick, rear, give proof of the industry or idlepartly of deals, give free passage to ness of its tenants. Through the every blast, let it blow from what middle of this plot runs a straight quarter it may; and its roof, original- walk, ending at a style, or immovable ly tiled, is now covered over, where it gate, erected in the lower fence. The is covered at all, in some parts by articles produced are such only, on patches of miserable thatch, in others each side of that walk, as require by boards nailed on, by an unskilful little or no soil to bring them to perhand, to the rafters. The cottage is fection. A bed of potatoes, some rows two stories high, and presents five of cabbages and savoys, two applewindows, besides a door on each side trees, a damson and a boolus, half a of it. The windows, as may be guess- dozen gooseberry-bushes, with twice ed, retain but few fragments of glass as many of red-currant, constitute the within the frames, the deficiency being sum total of the crop ever reared upon supplied by old bats, rags, jackets, it. To make such a soil produce even and rabbit-skins: whilst of the doors, these, must, I apprehend, have requithe front or main one hangs by a red some labour; and I will do its insingle hinge, and that behind is fas- habitants the justice to observe, that, tened to the sinister lintel by no fewe overgrown as it is now with nettles er than five latches made of leather. and rank weeds, there was a time

Of the grounds by which it is be- when labour was not spared upon ita girt, a few words will suffice to con In this miserable hovel dwelt, for vey an adequate idea. In setting out many years previous to my arrival from the Vicarage, he who wishes to in the parish, old Simon Lee, the reach that cottage had better make, in most skilful and the most deterthe first place, for the high-road. mined poacher in all the county ; Having traversed that for a while, he he was now the father of five chilwill observe a narrow foot-path on the dren, the eldest of whom when I first left hand, which, after descending to became acquainted with him, had atthe bottom of a glen, and rising again tained his twenty-third year, whilst to the summit of a green hill, will the youngest was just beginning to

run alone, being as yet afraid to trust tion that Simon and I have discussed itself beyond arms-length from the the subject repeatedly, and that he chairs or tables, or any other sub- has argued in favour of his occupation stance of which it could lay hold. as stoutly and openly as if there had Simon himself was turned sixty. He been no law in existence against it. was a short man, measuring not more Why, you know, it is illegal,” I than five feet five inches from the would say ; “ and you must likewise sole of his foot to the crown of his know that it is little better than stealhead. His make was spare, but bony ing. What right have you to take the and muscular ; his face, seamed as it hares or partridges which belong to was by exposure to weather, had, on another man?” « Lord bless you, sir," the whole, a good expression; and was Simon's invariable reply, “ if you there was a great deal more of intelli will only tell me to whom they belong, gence in his keen black eye than you I promise you never to kill another will often observe in the eye of an

while I live.” “They belong," said English peasant. Simon's ordinary I,“ to those upon whose lands they dress, when he went abroad, was a feed. Would you consider it right to short brown gaberdine, which reach- take one of Sir Harry Oxendeer's ed barely to his knees, a pair of fus- sheep or turkeys; why then will you tian trowsers, hobnailed shoes, and take his hares or his pheasants ?" thick worsted stockings. His hat was “ As to the matter of that,” replied made of straw, and manufactured by Simon, “ there is a mighty difference his own hands; and you never failed between sheep and hares. Sheep are to observe a piece of black tape or rib- bought for money, they remain albon bound round it, just above the ways upon one spot, they bear the brim. Simon was, or rather would owner's mark, they are articles of barhave been, but for his determined pre- ter and sale,” (I profess not to give dilection in favour of the primitive my friend's exact words, only the subemployment of the chase, one of the stance of his argument,) " and they best and most trust-worthy labourers have always been such. But the hare in the parish. Set him to what you which is found on Sir Harry's grounds would, he never failed to do you jus- to-day, may be found on Squire tice. I have had him, again and again, Deeds’s to-morrow, and mayhap Sir to dig in my garden, and have com Edward Knatchbull's the day afpared his diligence with that of other ter; now, to which of these three men who bore a fairer character, and gentlemen can the hare be said to beI must do Simon the justice to say, long ? No, sir. God made the wild that he has invariably worked harder beasts of the field and the fowls of the for his day's pay than any individual air for the poor man as well as for the among them. In the matter of ho- rich. I will never so far forget mynesty, again, you might trust him self as to plunder any man's hen-roost, with untold gold. Much as he was or take away his cattle; but as long disliked, and I know no character in as these old arms can wield a gun, and a country place more universally dis these old hands can set a snare, I will liked than a poacher, not a human never be without a hare or a pheasant, being laid a theft or robbery to his if I happen to want it.” There was charge; indeed, he was so well thought no arguing against a man who would of in that respect, that it was no un talk thus; so after combating the point common circumstance for the persons

with him for a time, I finally gave it who blamed him most severely, to up. hire him, when occasion required, to The worst of it was, however, that watch their orchards or hop-poles: Simon not only poached himself, but For Simon was well known to fear he brought up his son to the same neither man nor devil. He really and occupation. The Lees were notorious truly was one of the few persons, throughout the country. Not a gameamong the lower orders, whom chance keeper round but knew them; nor has thrown in my way, whose pro was there one who did not, in some pensity for poaching I should be disc degree, stand in awe of them. It was posed to pronounce innate, or a thing suspected, too, that they had good of principle.

friends somewhere behind the curtain; As a proof of this, I need only men for though the patriarch had been con

victed several times, he always mana that they should earn their bread in ged to pay the fine, and, except once, an honest way, and be beholden to no had never suffered imprisonment. human being. Simon being the eldest

I deem it no part of a country cler of the family, succeeded, on the death gyman's duty to quarrel with one of of his father, to the farm. But he his parishioners because he happens to had hardly taken possession when set the game-laws at defiance. Per the rage for large farms began to show haps of all the laws that exist they are itself; and in a few years after, he in themselves the least defensible, and was sent adrift, in order that his fields they lead to consequences often more might be added to those of a wealthy serious than their warmest advocate tenant, who undertook to cultivate would willingly anticipate. But with them better, and pay some two shil the justice or injustice, the policy or lings per acre more to the landlord. impolicy of these laws, I have no con Whether the new tenant kept his

procern; there they are upon the statute mise in the first of these stipulations book, and, like all other laws, they may be doubted. In the last he was ought to be observed. Still I repeat, very punctual, and in a short time he that a clergyman has no business to rode as good a horse, and kept as good quarrel with a poor man who trans a table, as his landlord himself. gresses in this point, and in none be It was a severe wound to Simon's sides. For my own share, though I proud heart, his expulsion from his never told Simon as much, I could not paternal roof. “ In that house, sir," but a kind of respect for him, said he' to me one day when we talked such as I never felt for any other of of the circumstance,“ in that house I the fraternity, because he not only drew my first breath, and I hoped to deemed it unnecessary to deny his draw my last. For two hundred and poaching, but defended it. I love to fifty years have the Lees inhabited it; see men act upon principle, even when and I will venture to say, that his hothe rectitude of the proceedings may nour has not upon all his lands a fabe questionable.

mily who pay their rent more puncI have said that Simon Lee was no tually than we did, or one more ready favourite among his neighbours, and to serve him, either by day or night, the only cause which I have as yet as Well, well, the landlord cares nothing signed for the fact is, that he was a for the tenant now, nor the tenant for poacher. Doubtless this had its weight. the landlord ; it was not so when I But the love of poaching was, un was a boy.” fortunately for himself, not the only I have been told by those who redisagreeable humour with which he member his dismissal, that Simon was afflicted. There exists not within seemed for a time, after leaving his the compass of the four seas a prouder little farm, like one who

had lost every spirit than that which animated the thing that was dear to him. To hire form of Simon Lee. He never would another was impossible, for small farms accept a favour from any man; he were not to be had, and had the conwould not crouch or bend to the high- trary been the case, it was more than est lord in the land. Yet Simon was questioned whether he could have no jacobin ; quite the reverse. This brought himself to bestow the labour was the genuine stubbornness, the of a good tenant upon any besides the hardy independence, which was wont fields which he persisted in calling his to render an English peasant more

Under these circumstances he truly noble than the titled slave of took the cottage on the moor, as much, France or Germany, but which, un it was said, because it stood far from fortunately, has of late years yielded neighbours, as on any other account, to the fashionable agricultural system, and there he remained in a state of and to the ruinous and demoralizing perfect idleness, till his little stock of operations of the poor laws. Simon money was expended, and he felt that was the son of a man who had inhen he must either work or starve. rited a farm of some thirty or forty Simon had married before the inheacres, from a long line of ancestors; ritance came to him; his eldest boy who loved his landlord, aw the clans was able to run about when he left it. men of the Highlands were wont to His fifth was weaned, when at length love their chief, and who prided him- the proceeds of the sale being exhaust self in bringing up his children so as ed, and all the little capital swallowed


up, he found himself under the new lars of this application as they were
cessity of looking out for a master. I communicated to me by one of the
have always been at a loss to conceive committee.
why he should have applied to the “We were sitting," said my in-
very man who displaced him, in pre- formant, “ as usual, of a Thursday
ference to any of the other parishion- evening, in the room allotted to us in
ers, but so it was. He requested, and the work-house. We had had a good
obtained permission to cultivate as a many applications, for the typhus was
hind, at daily wages, those very fallows prevalent at the time, and we had re-
which he and his ancestors had so long lieved several, when, on ringing the
tilled for their own profit; and from bell to see whether any more were
every account, no man could be more waiting, to the astonishment of all
faithfully served than his employer, present, in walked Simon Lee. At
nor any lands more skilfully managed first we hardly knew him, he was so
than those which he ploughed. Was wasted and so altered. But he looked
this the affection of a rude mind to at us with the same keen glance with
inanimate objects, or what was it? which he used to regard us when he

Time passed, and Simon's family was one of our number, and stood
increased upon him, year after year. leaning upon his stick in silence. Our
Still he laboured on; and though his overseer at that time was Farmer
wages were not, perhaps, competent Scratch, a man, as you know him, not
to support a wife and eight children remarkable for his kindness of heart,
in comfort, (for there were originally or liberality of disposition. “ What
eight of them,) still they made their want you, Simon?" said he, “ surely
wants square with their means, and you cannot be in need of relief?” “Í
so kept above the world. But there is am in need, though,” said Simon ;“ I
no struggling against sickness. It would not have come here, were not my
pleased God to visit him with a ma- family starving.” “We have no re-
lignant fever, of which every indivi- lief to give you,” answered the over-
dual, from the father and mother, seer ; you ought to have taken bet-
down to the infant at the breast, par ter care of your money when you had
took, and from which three out of the it. I wonder you are not ashamed to
number never recovered. Alas! the come here like a common pauper ; you
rich man knows not what the poor that used to grant relief, and not to
man suffers, when disease takes up ask it." Simon's blood rushed to his
its abode in his dwelling. It is bad cheeks as the overseer spoke. He
enough if his children be attacked; raised himself erect upon his staff, and
bad, very bad, because even then there looking proudly at us, he turned upon
is the doctor's bill to pay, and the lit- his heel and walked away. This is
tle comforts to procure which the doce the first time I have asked alms,' cried
tor may recommend as necessary to he, as he opened the door, and it
their recovery ; but when he himself shall be the last.' Simon has had
falls a victim to the infection, when sickness in his family repeatedly since
the arm upon which all depend is un- that time. I have known him be a full
nerved by sickness, and the limbs fortnight without work, yet he has
which ought to provide food for half never come to the parish since.”
a-dozen hungry mouths, are chained I was a good deal struck and affect.
down to a wretched pallet-God for- ed by this story, so I took the first
give the rich man who knows of this, opportunity that offered of discussing
and leaves a family so situated to its the subject of it with Simon himself.
fate! Such, however, was the case “It is all quite true, sir,” said he.
with Simon Lee and his household. “ The overseer was harsh, and I was
For a full fortnight he was himself proud, so we parted.”.

And how confined to bed. His wife caught the have you done since?" asked I. “Why, infection from him, and communica- bad enough sometimes,” was the reted it to the children. The little mo- ply ; " but poor folks, you know, sir, ney which they had in the house was cannot be nice. And I will tell you. soon exhausted ; they lived for a while It never entered into my head till I on the produce of their garden ; but was on my way home from the comat length nature rebelled, and Simon, mittee, that to be in want of food, after many a struggle, had recourse to whilst the hares were eating my cabthe parish. I shall give the particu- bages every night, and the partridges


« ForrigeFortsæt »