« AnteriorContinuar »
“crib” near the Halfpenny Hatch, he engaged a small tenement in Little Dean Street, from whence the following card was issued :
MR. JACOB THORN,
Little Dean Street, Westminster.
Jump through a hoop of fire
To ascend a ladder and descend head To dance
foremost To walk lame
To walk on the two front legs with the Jump on their hind legs without hind legs up in the air. putting down their fore feet
To walk on the two near side legs To tumble
Or any other trick that any other dog Splits on the back of two chairs. has ever done. To sit on the top of a polc
Letters post-paid will be immediately attended to. Tegus's “ kennel” was the resort of thieves, pickpockets, and fancy men ; it was shrewdly suspected that more " tricks" than those enumerated in his advertisement were carried on : nay, some went far enough to say that in Thorn's back parlour many a robbery was planned, both against the human and canine race, the increase of the latter being considerably greater than the ordinary laws of nature would justify. According to Jacob's account, “ Nelly," a beautiful specimen of one of King Charles's beauties, was miraculously prolific, every new puppy brought into the establishment being declared to be one of her progeny. When professional business was slack, Tegus would inveigh against the march of “ hintillict," as he pronounced it. “Where's the use of these himprovements, as they call 'em ?” would he exclaim. “Your gash lights, your pennytentiarys, your new p’lice, your railroads and steamers that puts down horseflesh and watermen, your “ beakswot hinterfere with the 'musements of the people : the cock-pit shut up, bull-baiting abolished, prize-fighting at an end, fairs proscribed, pricking the garter and pea and thimble declared hillegal. It's all very weil, but it h’aint haltogether right,” would the former “pet of the light weights” continue; “your fashionable coves great 'nobs' have their racing, fishing, shooting, wholesale slaughter at what they calls • battoos,' their fox, stag, hare hunting, and steeple-chases, and carries them on with himpunity ; but if we poor deyils for a bit of divarsion, and it's a poor heart as never rejoices, worry a rat, trot a bit of blood fourteen mile an hour, bring a brace of game 'uns to the scratch, fasten a bull or a bear to a stake, draw a badger, hunt a cat, establish a raw under the collar, 'wop a donkey, or have a shy at the thimble rig, down come the Society for the Suppression of Cruelty to Hanimals or the · Peelers’ upon us, and gets us quodded ' with hard labour for a month or two. Your • high blades' may torture a timid hare or tame deer, ride or drive an oss' to death, break his back in a steeple-chase, and get off with a fine of a few punds." In this strain would Jacob Thorn indulge for hours, denouncing against the inequalities of the law between rich and poor, and loudly holding forth for the liberty of the subject. Last year came the “unkindest cut of all," the Commissioners for the new Westminster Improvements gave this enemy to innovations very summary notice to quit by pulling down his neighbour's houses, the leases of which had expired. To save his own tenement from literally “ falling in,” Tegus vacated Little Dean, now called Victoria Strect, and shortly afterwards established himself in the Horseferry-road, where, from the attic windows, he can still gaze on the site of Tothill-fields, the scene of his early exploits.
The ex-lessee of the Newbury theatre, in despite of the present degenerate state of the drama, still carries on his managerial and acting avocations at Ryde and other provincial towns ; of him it may be truly said, that if he cannot “ command success, he at least deserves it."
Mr. Samuel Diderot Vestris Parker deserted one wife and took to another. With a fear of the Old Bailey before his eyes he managed to escape to New York, where, under the assumed name of Signor Parchini, he opened a dancing academy. Death soon divorced him from all human ties.
The reckless career of Céline, or more strictly speaking, Lina Bell, was checked by an unfortunate accident that occurred to her during the representation of a mythological ballet ; the wires that suspended her in a flight across the stage gave way, and in falling from a height the wretched girl dislocated her ankle and shoulder. Conveyed to a neighbouring hospital, the former “pet of the ballet” would have pined away her existence in abject want and penury but for the assistance of an old acquaintance who happened to witness the casualty. This was no other than Charles De Tourville, who supported his father's early pupil during her illness, and eventually procured for her a situation of respectability through the interest of his wife's family. By the demise of De Tourville's real father and the death of his putative parent, Charles had come into a tolerably good fortune, which, with the addition of the house in Queen-square, placed him in independent circumstances. Having pensioned off his mother, who preferred the land of her birth to that of her adoption, he took to himself a wife, the eldest daughter of a most respectable solicitor ; with her he received a portion of five thousand pounds. The old residence, the scene of my first dramatic effort, has been repainted and newly furnished, and a few months ago I had the pleasure of dining with the high-minded owner of it, in the very room where my readers may remember I first quaffed a bumper to the health of the then beautiful incognita Céline Bellegarde. De Tourville and his wife are still great admirers of the Terpischorean art, and may always be seen in an upper box at Her Majesty's Theatre upon the first night of a new ballet or divertissement, showering bouquets at the feet of those graceful sylphides, Carlotta Grisi, Rosati, Marie Taglioni, and Amalia Ferraris, second in no respect to the justly vaunted choragraphic artistes of De Tourville's early remembrance, Fanni Bias, and the Gosselin's.
Upon the subject of my own feelings I will be brief. The remembrance of Mary Wilmot still haunts my mind ; every sorrow that overtakes me makes me deplore the loss of one who would have lightened my grief by sharing my distress. Every doubt and difficulty that perplexes me makes me sigh for the sweet counsel of my kind and gentle monitress. Every happiness that gladdens my path is alloyed by the pang that the object of any early affection can no longer participate in it. In conclusion, let me earnestly hope that the follies of youth will find some little indulgence at the hands of my readers, and that a sincere contrition for a wild and thoughtless career during the spring-time of life, added to an undying devotion and constancy for my “morning. star of memory," will secure some favour for PERCY HAMILTON,
“ BURNING THE WATER"-A TWEEDSIDE SKETCH.
16 "Tis blythe along the midnight lide,
With stalwart arm the boat to guide,
Friend, didst ever spear a salmon in Tweed on a winter night? You didn't?--well then, take my advice, and if you ever have the chaneo try the sport, though it be "close time;" try it I say for once, arrant poaching though it be, and I shall be much surprised if you dont pronounce, whatever may be said to the contrary, that it is capital fun, and that you have been well repaid for the ducking you will in all likelihood have got in your first essay.
Come, to encourage you, I'll tell you how I first “ fleshed my maiden leister.” It happened in this wise :- In the spring of 184 , for reasons of my own, I determined to pass a year in the Southern Highlands, as they are called, of Scotland ; chance led me to select as my head quarters the pretty and romantic village of I , in Peebleshire, famed for the good angling, which a proximity to the Twood and its tributaries procures for those who may be visitors.
I spent the spring and summer very pleasantly, having many a glorious ramble through the neighbourhood, when, should the water be unpropitious to my sport, and my creel be badly filled, I was always sure of gratification from the splendid scenery of the country roundMelrose," the Lochs,” Yarrow, Abbotsford, “ the Bush aboon Traquair," and many another spot "famous in story”-hardly a glen in the country for miiles round but was familiar as household words ; and as my excursions were generally on foot, and in the unpretending style of a brother of the angle, I both saw and heard amongst the country people much that generally escapes the tourist who goes out expressly sightseeing. 'I made a point of cultivating the good graces of all the shepherds, farmers, and “country characters," I came across, and often found their good will of essential service, and very soon had a large circle of acquaintances in the neighbourhood.
Numbered amongst the particular gems of I was a character, who I think will probably be recognized by any one who has fished in the vicinity, whom I shall call Andy Craig ; he had long been cock of the walk there in the accomplishments of fishing, shooting, curling, and such like athletic amusements ; he had been the strongest man in the village, but in this at the time I speak of was obliged to yield the palm to younger men. Like his betters, however, poor Andy's sporting pro,
pensities had by no means contributed to his advancement in life, from the habits of conviviality engendered by the society he was thus led into, and he now had added to his numerous accomplishments that of being able to take twice as much toddy as any other man in the place, notwithstanding which advantage he was three times as often drunk, and this is saying a good deal, for in my experience I never saw people better or more practically acquainted with whisky drinking, to which agreeable amusement the greater part of their spare time was devoted. There were two resident doctors, whose sole practice was in midwifery and "delirium tremens,” or “the horrors," as it was usually styled by the good folks best acquainted with the complaint. But to return to Audy Craig. Andy unfortunately lived near to the inn, and when any of the young men “frae Embro'” came down for a week's fishing, Andy was sent for directly to “tak a gill," and give his opinion as to where the best sport would be had; and being a pleasant off-hand rattling fellow, with plenty of queer stories to tell, and really a keen sportsman withal, he had become very popular, and an immense favourite with some of the regular frequenters of I--, who made it a point to have him with them when they went out fishing, and get the benefit of his advice, and perhaps sometimes his assistance too, in filling their baskets.
When I came to I , I inquired for some one who knew all about the river and the fishing, to go with me at first for a few times, and point out to me some of the best pools, and as a matter of course Andy was mentioned to me as the very man I wanted, when I requested that he might be told to call at my lodgings and speak to me ; and he was not long in presenting himself. I found him a burly rosy cheeked fellow, with a laughing but keen eye, and a sort of jaunty swagger in his manner which served to show he was in the habit of associating with those above him, of making pretty free, and of having his familiarity taken in good part. A few tumblers of Glenlivit, and an hour's chat, soon put us upon good terms, and I afterwards had him with me to fish, and found his knowledge of Tweedside weather often stand me in good stead when I might otherwise have had a blank day.
Of “leistering,” or spearing salmon by torch-light, I had often heard, but had never seen it, as I had always heard it condemned as most unsportsmanlike-in fact, poaching outright; but in Peebleshire I found other doctrines prevailing, at least among the native fishermen, who were of opinion that every man had a right to “ a kipper* " at his ingle nook when he could get it, and all restrictions of the law as to when and how the fish were to be taken were set at nought. From what I heard of the fun incidental to “burning the water, as it was called, I determined to waive any scruples of conscience I was troubled with, and, since chance had led me to the very hotbed of iniquity, to take advantage of my position, and judge for myself ; so I made my friend Andy promise that whenever there was a prospect of good fun he was to arrange a leistering expedition and duly initiate me.
Accordingly one night in the beginning of December I was sitting after dinner in my little snuggery, Occupied very agreeably with a cigar, my glass of toddy, and the last number of Blackwood, when enter
* " Kipper," a dried salmon, but used synonymously with salmon in speaking. Maggie, saying—“ Please Andy Craig was wussing a word wi' ye, sir," and I beheld the rosy gills of my fidus Achates in the rear.
“Come ben, Andy, come ben ; what have you got to say ? Maggie, a glass here for Andy."
« Thanks t'ye, sir, I'm no gaun to bide ee'noo ; but a'll tak’ a wee drappie-here's t'ye, sir," mixing himself “ a wee drappie," as he called it, but what any unprejudiced person would have pronounced to be a veritable tumbler of half-and-half toddy. “ One disna care for speakin' afore the lasses, thir women hae aye sic lang tongues ; but if you're for a rake o' the water ye could'na hae a bonnier nicht for leistering, and twae or three o' the callants are down by at R- 's (the village inn) ; I just tauld them I wud speir at ye if ye wud like to gang and see them, and they're waitin' till I come back and tell them what ye say."
“Oh! by all means, Andy, I'll be delighted ; how soon will you start ?”
“ Weel, they'll hae to crimp a whien lichts and sic like, if ye'll be doun at R- 's in hauf an hour, we'll be a' ready to tak’ the gate ; but ye maun pit on sum auld duds o' claes, the thickest and wurst ye hae, and throw yer plaid ower yer shouthirs, for ye'll find the cauld vera keen by the time ye hae been ance or twict through Tweed.”.
Off went Andy, and I forthwith betook myself to follow his advice in changing my dress for one suited better to the waterside than the cheery “ ingle" where I had been luxuriating. This was not a very tedious operation, and I was shortly on my way towards the inn, which was situated in the midst of the village. I found the evening had closed in with every appearance of an intensely dark night; as yet not the glimmer of a star was to be seen, nor a break of the dull clouds orer head. This was so much in favour of our expected sport, for the darker the night the better are the secrets of the river's bottom disclosed by the glare of the blazing light. The breeze howled dismally through a plantation of Scotch firs, and this combined with the rush of the brisk little stream, the L , along whose banks my route to the village lay, gave one that unpleasant sensation which there is only the one word to express, the significant Scotch one “ eerie." I drew my plaid tighter round me, and began to consider myself an egregious ass for leaving the comforts of " my ain fireside," and the right merrie lucubrations of dear Christopher North, for the sake of wading in the chilly shallows of the Tweed, and emulating a set of rascally poachers in killing “ foul fish" at an unlawful time. But it was too late, now; I could not in justice to Andy disappoint him, after he had gone to the trouble of preparing to meet my wishes, so often expressed to him, and in a few minutes more I found myself in the sanctum of the little inn, where I was greeted by some half dozen of the most extraordinary specimens of humanity it had ever been my lot to “ fraternize" with.
Having ordered glasses round, I began to exert myself to recognize the party, and although well acquainted with all in their every-day garb, I found some little difficulty in identifying them, as they were now metamorphosed : all had their faces rubbed with burnt cork, to prevent recognition by the light of the blaze, should any meddlesome person be about the waterside. Their dress I need hardly attempt to describefor instance, there was Andy's son, a lad about twenty (“ trained up in the way he should go" by his father), who was rather a short stout