Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

66

The officer's blood circulated with great violence ; he was young and sanguine of temper-war was a game of adventure—his heart beat strongly—the beautiful eyes of Angela were fixed on his with a swimming plaintive expression ; one instant he hesitated, then stepping forward, he put his head close to hers, and taking her small hand, which seemed to be purposely placed beyond the edge of her cloak, said with a low, compressed, but earnest accent, while his eye glanced towards the surly peasant, Angela, are you

under

any

restraint ??' She was silent.

Angela, these men are mine; they will do my bidding ; are you really going to your friends ?”

Her eyelids sunk, the long dark fringes of her eyelashes fell on her cheek, which was of marble paleness. Her lips trembled a little, but she spoke not.

“ Angela, dearest Angela! answer me, are you happy ?"

A slight "No !” was murmured, and a large tear gathered in her eye. Guillelmo's hand pressed hers more closely, her head drooped towards his, the tear dropped upon her cheek, one moment more and he would have lifted her from the mule ; but with a sudden movement she withdrew her hand, her face flushed, and sighing out, “ No! I am not happy !-adios, Guillelmo !" she pulled the hood of her cloak down, the peasant turned at the instant, and struck the mule, which darted forward, the soldiers closed in, and Guillelmo never saw Angela more!

But he still remembers her, still retains the feather from Griffoné's wing!

CHARADE.

“Up, lady, up to the turret's height,

Gaze far as eye can strain;
There are glittering spears and armour bright,
And pennon and plume-'tis a glorious sight-

On the peaceful hill and plain;
For the iron rule of my First hath pass'd,
And the loved and the brave are returned at last.
“ With my Second still close to his faithful heart,

Doubt not thy knight is there;
That golden shield has repell’d each dart,
And the cruel sword has not dared to part

Those links so soft and fair.
The pledge at the moment of parting given
Has found mercy on earth and mercy in heaven."-
“Peace, boaster vain !" a stern voice said,

And my whole before us stood, -
“Peace! for thou speak’st of the long since dead,
And long has that vaunted pledge been red

In the gallant wearer's blood !"
He said, -and ere night-tall the lady knew
That the words of the prophet of ill were true.

P. O, P.

THE COURIER.

"I talk not of mercy, I talk not of fear,
He neither must know who would be a courier.”

BYRON.

We fondly imagine that our tight little island produces every. thing which it does produce in the very highest perfection. There lives not the lukewarm Briton who can quench his thirst with bierre de Mars, dine on bifstecks de mouton at a Parisian café or gallop a nag, sprung from the Razza del Re up the Strada Nova at Naples, without a sigh, expressed or understood, for the very superior articles of the same species which he could enjoy were he in England, through the intervention of Messrs. Hodson, Giblett, or Tilbury. The sight of one German postillion conducting six stallions at a banging trot down hill, and at the same time executing a villanously complicated solo on his huge horn, fails to convince an Englishman, as he ought to be convinced, that any continental coachmanship can compare with that of Jack Peer, or the Brighton Baronet, although even those Homers do occasionally nod, and deteriorate their passengers' precious limbs; and the finest bunch of grapes ever grown at Fontainbleau is surpassed in his mind's eye by the costly efforts of his own Scotch forcing gardener. He cannot bring himself to believe that any foreigner breathing the breath of life can back a horse as skilfully as his own diminutive groom; or that a butler is to be found without the white cliffs of Albion capable of decanting port wine as steadily, and burnish. ing plate as brightly, as his own corpulent and trustworthy factotum.

As to the relative merits of insular and continental cooks, if our patriot enjoys a good digestion, and be free from gout, he will perhaps liberally allow that that is one of the very few questions open to argu. ment; that although turtle-soup, haunches of venison, and plum-pud. ding are unquestionably edibles of the first class, still much may be adduced in favour of potage á la bisque, turbôt à la creme,

and

orangeflower soufflées.

Much of this sturdy patriotism is founded on fact. We are doubt. less very lucky fellows, and enjoy our due proportion of the good things of this life : I am fully alive to the potency of our ale, the suc. culency of our beef and mutton, and the surpassing qualities of our horses; neither would I in any way be supposed to detract from the well-merited reputation of Jack Peer, or Sir Vinny. I believe firmly that the objection fairly to be raised against our hot house grapes is, that they do now and then cost a guinea a pound. Neither do I deny that our grooms do stick to their saddles like wax; and that, as a nation, we have our spoons cleaned better and brighter than any other. Our servants are in many points super-excellent; but still, in my hum. ble opinion, they lack the one thing needful for the establishment of a poor man, they want the versatility of talent which distinguishes their continental brethren, and more especially the Swiss and Italians, which two nations chiefly 'supply that class of travelling servants called couriers.

A courier, to attain eminence in his profession, must combine in his own person innumerable qualifications. He must be strong, and inured to fatigue, a light weight, and a good rider ; he must possess a smattering or coachmaking and cookery, be a thorough valet, un.

derstand waiting at table and housekeeping, be expert at accompts, and speak fluently at least four or five languages.

We will suppose you, gentle reader, to have landed safely at Calais, and taken up your quarters at the Hotel du Bourbon Condè. M. Rig. nolle, the worthy proprietor, in answer to your inquiries about a courier who has been recommended to you, responds,—“He ver nice leetle man-I send for him.” The “ver nice leetle man,” who resembles one of the bettermost kind of Italian princes by whom “ The Travellers” is infested, arrives, and engages to serve you in every possible way for the sum of eight or ten guineas a month. He produces a pile of certificates from his former employers which at once attest the excel. lence of his character, and the richness of the English language ; inas. much as the authors of them appear to have vied with one another in expressing the same satisfaction in different words.

Lord Warrington declares himself highly gratified with the attentive services of Eugenio Silvani, and confirms the document with his aristocratic coat of arms, which the warmth of Eugenio's breeches-pocket has converted into a daub of red wax. Messrs. Hobbs and Dobbs assure future travellers that Silvani is a capital fellow, and a real treasure to any person wishing to travel speedily through France and Italy. They also confirm their autographs with their seals, which, having been fellow-passengers with Lord Warrington's, for once look equally imposing.

On the morning of your departure you observe a man arrayed in a blue military jacket braided with gold, yellow leather-tights, and slippers, busying himself in superintending the loading of your carriage. In him you recognize " the treasure to any person wishing to travel speedily." He forthwith assumes the command, hands you into your britscha, bundles the lady's maid into the rumble, starts the whole equipage, pays the bill, shakes hands with the waiters, kisses M. Rig. nolle on both whiskers, jumps into his jack-boots, and jingles by you on his bidet, merrily smacking his whip in order to get the horses ready for you at the next relay, where he is well known to and cor. dially greeted by the postboys, who feel assured that they have in him, if they go their best, and half murder their master's horses, a steady ad. vocate for trois francs par poste et la goutte,”—equivalent to about sixpence a mile with us.

At some posts, however, where he has met with vexatious delay on former journeys, or been furnished with a foundered bidet, he is not quite so popular. The postillions recollect his having rigidly adhered to the tarif in remunerating their tardy services; or perhaps the maitre de poste may call to mind stern battles on the subject of the troisieme cheval, or about the age of some miraculously fine child under six years, in wnich our sharp friend Eugene proved the better man.

In the same breath he will reassure the ladies, who may possibly feel alarmed at the steepness of the road, or the absence of gardefous, and then fulminate a torrent of incoherent blasphemy on the dilatory postillions, which you cannot help smiling at on account of its absurdity, if you understand it, which, fortunately his wondrous volubility renders rather difficult to unpractised ears.

In countries where avant-couriers are obsolete, he will lay aside his military costume, strap his saddle on the imperial, and accompany the lady's maid in the rumble. Here he endeavours to make up for the time lost in relaying by what he calls pousser les postillons, an operation evidently based on the pair-horse coach principle of whipping the willing horse. The faster they drive the more vociferously he urges them on. No matter whether you are pressed for time or not, his hon. our requires that you should be driven at the best pace. A slow, sulky conductor he silently endures, and tarifs him accurately on reaching the next stage, observing laconically, “ Come si oas, cosi si paga !

Few people can conscientiously assert that they have ever known their courier to eat, drink, or sleep whilst en voyage. He has no time for so doing, even if he should be so irregular as to wish it. On reach. ing your destination for the night he must select the most eligible rooms, jockey the other couriers if he can, get fires lit, unload the car. riage, air the beds, superintend the supper, and, not unfrequently, cook it; when you retire to rest, he must attend you as a valet, see your clothes and boots cleaned, examine the state of the carriage and have any requisite repairs executed, procure fresh milk and butter for your breakfast, order the horses, call you in the morning-generally two or three times,—repack the luggage, fight with the innkeeper on the subject of overcharges, satisfy the servants, look after the lady's maid, and be ready to start as soon as you are; and this he must repeat every evening whilst you are on your journey, besides galloping some seventy or eighty miles during the day, on such hacks as it may please Provi. dence and the postmasters to provide him with. We once, and only once, detected our courier partaking of a slight pic-nic in the dicky with the maid, and that was probably more from a desire to ingratiate himself with her, (for she was very pretty, and, alas! a pretty Abigail is a rock on which many of the most eminent couriers have split,) than from an unprofessional habit of eating and drinking on his part.

If he is overworked whilst travelling, he takes care to enjoy the dolce far niente as soon as his master halts at any of the chief continental wintering quarters. The instant that the carriage is unpacked, his corporeal labours cease. He then takes on himself the direction of your establishment, and sees that you are bien servi; but he cannot compromise the dignity of the profession by doing anything himself. Should you sally forth from your hotel in quest of lodgings, and in the innocence of your heart propose to him to mount the box, and give you the benefit of his experience in making your bargain, not imagining that he can entertain any possible objection against resuming for ten minutes a seat which he has occupied daily for the last month, he will look at you as if you had proposed that he should deposit himself on the iron spikes behind the carriage, and will assure you that he infi. nitely prefers running after you on foot to the degradation of being seen accompanying your vehicle en ville.

His society is much courted by the hotel-keepers. Baldin, of Rome, keeps open house for respectable couriers out of place, in return for the custom which they have brought and may bring to him.

Your courier is a good dresser,-perhaps a little over addicted to gold chains and Genoa velvet ; but then that is the foreign taste. His ostensible luggage is small, yet he sports a wonderful variety of garments; and his toilet table is coveredwith numerous brushes, gallipots and bottles. He generally takes lessons on the guitar, and sings agree. ably,-a talent which is duly appreciated by the ladies' maids. The poor footmen, with whom some travellers encumber themselves, feel

their inferiority, and hate him accordingly; he merely despises them. He traffics a good deal in a small way in old carriages, eau de cologne, jewellery, and gloves. He is a capital nurse in case of sickness. To sum up the good qualities of this excellent class of servants, they are, with very few exceptions, strictly honest, and grateful for any kindness shown to them; and if now and then a black sheep out of the flock should be detected levying a slight per centage on his employer's purchases, who can wonder at his so doing, when they consider with what wealthy, purse-proud, extravagant blockheads these men have often to deal ?

VASLYN.

THE SONG OF THE FIRE-KING.

SPIRITS of fire ! spirits of fire!

Kindle your torches, and up with me;
Earth to-night shall yield the pyre

That lightens our red-red revelry.
Water shall hiss in our hot embrace!

Stone shall snap with each burning kiss!
The morrow shall wonder much to trace

So wild a scene of ruin as this.
Now to the banquet! wine ne'er shone

Bright as the fiery draught we drain;
Gilded wood and chisel'd stone

Are the viands that feast our flame-born train.
Crackle the wood ! shiver the block!

Moulder the silken work of the loom!
Water! water! thy power we mock,

Swallow it up in the general doom !
Flutler your wings, and send up on high

Sparkles of laughter! again! again!
Dim with their light the stars in the sky,

Cast them to earth like Gomorrah's rain!
The red blood of mortals dyes the stream,

That flows where the battle is fierce and strong;
Tinge, then, each white cloud above with their gleam,

To herald our conquest whilst floating along.
Spirits of fire ! spirits of fire !

The north wind has come to our feast of flame;
Clothe it with smoke, our festal attire,

And welcome the guest that unbidden came.
Gloriously, gloriously revel we on!

Ages have gather'd-a night shall destroy !
Half of our banquet, alas! is done,

Still there's enough behind for joy.
Flutter your wings, and steal from the shade

The chisel'd tracings of yonder wall,
Let it behold the work ye’ve made

Ere the half-eaten timbers fall.
Down with the roof to the blackend ground !

Shout like the thunder one loud hurra!
Wave your dark mantles of smoke around,
Spirits of fire, away! away!

MARK LEMON.

« AnteriorContinuar »