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grains of the gray moss that grew upon a skull which had lain in the charnelhouse three hundred years! What! not yet?" And his eyes seemed like balls of fire as he cast them upwards. "Not yet? I call ye once! I call ye twice! Dare you deny me? Nay, then, as I call ye thrice, I'll wound mine arm, and as it drops, I'll breathe a spell, shall cleave the ground and drag you here!"
He held his left arm over the chalic, clutched it with his hand, and as if the talons of an eagle had infixed themselves, the blood spouted forth. While it dripped into the vessel, he gasped for breath like a strong man fighting hard with his last agonies.
Suddenly the tapers were extinguished, and there remained only the fearful glare that flickered horribly from the unhallowed torch. It reached not to the altar; so Frederick saw not Hermann. But he saw upon its lowest step-HIS MOTHER! even as he had seen her the day he returned without his brother, when he spoke not the word that would have spared those long hours of grief which the mystery of his absence caused; to be followed, at last, by all a mother's heart can feel for the untimely death of a beloved son. He bent his knee in reverential awe before the sacred shade; and his soul grew faint within him; for there was upon that maternal face a sad look of pity and of wrath. He had thoughts that burned for utterance, but he had no tongue to give them utterance. The form spoke :
66 Why hast thou troubled me in death my son? Why hast thou in life arrayed thee in that garb of death? Why hast thou disturbed MY sepulchre, for the shroud that infolds thee? A shriek of horror burst from him, as again he strove, but vainly, to tear off the sacrilegious spoil of his mother's grave.
"Son! thou hast sought, unholily, the secrets of the dead; hear MINE! The canker that preyed upon my life, was grief for thee. The forsaken of God, are they alone who forsake God. All sinners else may hope to be partakers of his infinite mercies. THOU WERT GOD-FORSAKEN! Thou clothedst thyself in the pride of thy understanding-said there was NO GODand lived as if thou didst believe in thy impiety. I loved thee, for I bare thee thou wert my child; but the thorns planted in my heart by the knowledge that my child must perish eternally, wounded it to death!"
The shadow faded away, and again the yell of exulting voices sounded in the ears of Frederick, as he lay prostrate on the cold damp pavement, shedding involuntary tears. They fell from his eyes like drops of molten lead. His brain seemed on fire. He groaned, and howled, and gnashed his teeth, and dashed his face furiously against the stones. He heard the voice of Hermann. Oh ! the damning chuckle of that voice, as he joyously shouted— "Rare secrets! brave secrets! marvellous revelations for the living!" Since when hath such a notion possessed you?' Since my mother died!' And she died-' 'Oh ask the doctor,' ha! ha! ha! 'he'll tell you 'twas of atrophy;' ha! ha! ha! 'I laughed amid my tears to hear them talk; and then it was that I first thought how the dead would answer for themselves.' Ha! ha! ha! Laugh, man, laugh as I do! Laugh Now, amid thy tears, thou desperate fool !"
The next morning, Frederick was found a corpse in the abbey church, at the foot of his mother's tomb, leading to the altar. Adolphine told what she knew of the compact between him and Hermann; but Hermann brought forward two fellow students with whom he had passed the preceding evening; and his own servant proved that he retired to bed at eleven, where he found hiin at the usual hour when he went to call him. Herman himself, too, denied that he had ever entered into such a compact; wept for the death of his friend; and triumphed over his accusers. Yet, had he been required to bare his left arm, there would have appeared upon it the fresh blood-marks of lacerated flesh, as if torn by an eagle's talons!
SELECTIONS FROM MY AUTOGRAPHS.
(Continued from page 157.)
Now for another dip into the chest on my right hand, and see what I shall bring up.-Delightful! Here I am at once carried back to the days of Pope, of Voltaire, and of Johnson. The first letter I open is a scrubby bit of paper, marvellously unpromising in its appearance, and not very much to my purpose in its contents. But it is short, and the words were traced by fair fingers, for it is a note from the identical Lady Frances Shirley, of whom the bard of Twickenham sang, in the lines beginning-" Yes! I beheld the Athenian Queen,"-upon receiving a standish and two pens from the lady.
But, alas! how unpoeticaal was the theme that employed her pen, though writing as it would seem, in the inspired and inspiring haunts of the poet himself! What an atrocious outrage, it is, to all our finer feelings of love and romance, when we see the "blooming fair" inditing, not a billet-doux, but a homely enquiry about ham and bacon! What then? Poets' goddesses must eat as well as poets themselves. Here it is :
"MRS. GREEN-Lady Ferrars thanks you for the hams you was so good to send her, and desires to know if you have heard anything of the two fetches of bacon your sister bespoke of the same man. When they come, Lady Fer. begs you will pay for them and send them her. The waterman has orders to pay you. Believe me, your sincere friend, F. SHIRLEY." Twick, Friday."
Addressed" To Mrs. Green, in Holburn."
And here-here is what may be considered a curiosity in its way; an English letter from Voltaire. How we should delight to read a French letter from Shakspeare, though it were about nothing—at least I am sure I should! This was probably written during the time that Voltaire sought a refuge in England, from the fanatical persecutions which assailed him in France. The very handwriting betrays the elaborate effort which it required to put the letters properly together; while the general correctness of the orthography, compared with the total neglect of the usual epistolary form and manner, betrays as evidently that Voltaire was satisfied he had done every thing, when he had carefully consulted his English dictionary, for the proper spelling of his words. Almost the only word which is not spelt correctly, is that which he could not find in a dictionary, the name of Lord Bolingbroke. The following is an exact transcript
"Sr, j wish you good health, a quick sale of yr burgundy, much latin and greek to one of yr children, much Law, much of cooke and littleton, to the other. quiet and joy to mistress brinsden, money to all. when you'll drink yr Burgundy with Mr. furnese pray tell him j'll never forget his favours.
"but dear john be so kind as to let me know how does my lady Bullingbrok. as to my lord, j left him so well j don't doubt he is so still. but j am very uneasie about my lady. if she might have as much health as she has spirit and wit, sure she would be the strongest body in england. pray dear Sr. write me something of her, of my lord, and of you. direct yr letter by the penny post at Mr. Cavalier Belitesy Square by the R exchange. j am Sincerely and heartily yr most humble most obedient, rambling friend Voltaire." "To john Brinsden esq.
by charing cross."
Whoever has read that most amusing of all amusing books, Boswell's Life of Johnson, that book of which I can fancy the Doctor himself, (if exactly such a work had appeared, of any other great man, during his own lifetime) would have said at the Literary Club, or Mrs. Thrale's, "Sir, let us
not deny Boswell praise; one of the ends of writing is to please, and no book pleases more;"-whoever, I say, has read that delightful piece of gossiping biography, may remember something of one "James Woodhouse, the poetical shoemaker." I knew himn well when I was a truant playing schoolboy (I don't choose to mention how many years ago ;) and I must say something about him, as a necessary introduction to a letter of Mrs. Piozzi's, which now lies before me, and which I intend to lay before the reader.
Yes! I knew the "poetical shoemaker" well; but at the time I speak of, he kept a little bookseller's shop, and thither I used to go, many a time and oft, in the days of my pocket-money, not so much to avert the predicted mishap of having a hole burned in my pocket by the newly-deposited shilling or half-crown, as to pay it with delight for " another Number" of Milton, or Dryden, or Gray, or Thomson, published in a neat pocket edition by “ C. Cooke, Paternoster Row." Ah, me ! life has had many joyous moments for me since; but none so purely joyous, none so fresh and all-engrossing, as those were, when I was rich enough to complete the yet only half-read works of some favourite author, or possess myself, at last, of those which I longed to read. With what a gust I devoured every line! I had not then
learned to play the critic. There was no cold pedantry of the head, to chill the glowing feelings of the heart, or the kindling fervour of imagination. I luxuriated in the quick succession of new-born delights,that thronged around me. Every step in this fairy land was strewn with flowers, and I stopped not examine their value, or
Oh! Oh! that God forgive me, I was going to swear; but it would try the patience of Job himself, to be called from such a sunny vision of boyhood, to a sensation in my great toe, as if it had been suddenly seized with a pair of red-hot pincers. Whew! There they are at it! nipping and tearing the flesh, and then rubbing the lacerated joint with aqua-fortis, or a solution of blue vitriol! And now, the pain shoots along the nerves on that side, till my head bumps and bumps as if a legion of imps were playing at leapfrog in it! I must lay down my pen.
I am a little easier; but I find it impossible to work myself up again into that amiable state of feeling which was stealing over me, when I got among the flowers of my school-boy days. However, I can fancy I see James Woodhouse, tall, erect, venerable, almost patriarchal, in his appearance— in his black-velvet cap, from beneath which his grey locks descended upon his forehead, and on each side of his sttll fine face,-his long, black, loose gown, and his benignant air-issuing from his little parlour with a stately step, as the tingling bell which hung over the shop door gave notice of a customer, when it was opened. And then his cordial greeting, and his kind smile, and his clear, sonorous voice-and his primitive haths and doths, and his hasts, thous, and wilt thousand the pleasing, to my ears, at least, mixture of a provincial accent, which he still retained in his speech-all these stand before my "mind's eye" as visibly and distinctly, as though it were but yesterday I was of that age, when I longed to have a beard, and write myself a man.
I suppose he saw that I was smit with the love of sound reading, from the choice I made out of his literary stores, for at these visits he would often seat himself behind his counter, while I mounted a high stool, which stood by the door, and tell me the story of his early life. How, when a young man, and following the craft of a cordwainer, in the neighbourhood of Shenstone's Leasowes, some verses he wrote and sent to him, were followed by the patronage of the poet-how a copy of other verses upon the recovery of Shenstone from a fit of sickness, was prefixed to Dodsley's edition of his works-how he afterwards came to London, and was noticed by Mrs. Montague, whose "Essay upon Shakspeare" he lent me to read-how the fame he acquired in London, as the "poetical shoemaker," made him an object of curiosity to the " great Dr. Johnson," then one of the gods of my youthful idolatry—and how the desire which the "great Doctor Johnson" had
to see him, was the occasion of Mrs. Thrale's first acquaintance with the Doctor. Then he would relate all that was said to him by Johnson-give me a desctiprion of his manner of talking-his dress-his appearance,which I listened to with such a "greedy ear," that I could have found in my heart to strangle any intruder, who, during the recital, came into the shop to ask for a twopenny stamp, or enquire if he sold sealing-wax. There was, in truth, a simplicity of diction, and a richness of colouring, in the narrations of the good old man, which might have fixed the attention of a much more fastidious auditor than myself.
The anecdote he told me of Mrs. Thrale's introduction to Dr. Johnson, I mentioned in the first work I ever wrote. Some years after it had appeared in print, its authenticity was publicly questioned; I forget where, or by whom; but as I was tenacious of my veracity, I resolved to apply to the only two persons then living, who could verify the statement-Jaines Woodhouse and Mrs. Piozzi. The former wrote to me thus:
"I shall now answer your request concerning the anecdote relating to Dr. Johnson and myself, which is simply this:-I was informed at the time, that Dr. Johnson's curiosity was excited by what was said of me in the literary world, as a kind of wild beast from the country, and expressed a wish to Mr. Murphy, who was his intimate friend, to see me. quence of which, Mr. Murphy, being acquainted with Mrs. Thrale, intimated to her that both might be invited to dine there at the same time; for, till then, Dr. Johnson had never seen Mrs. Thrale, whom, no doubt, he also much desired to see. As a confirmation of this statement, this anecdote is related in the introduction to one of the folio editions of the Doctor's Dictionary, where I have seen it, or my memory greatly deceives me. A close intimacy having grown up betwixt the Doctor and Mrs. Thrale, I was a second time invited to dine at her table with the Doctor, at which time the circumstances took place which are recorded in your work."
From Mrs. Piozzi I received a more interesting communication upon the subject; and the concluding sentence of her letter conveys a touching picture of the melancholy blank, which the survivor of half a century must ever be doomed to contemplate in his list of friends.
Brynbella, August 29, 1810, "SIR,I feel glad to be told that Mr. Woodhouse yet lives, who certainly was made the excuse of bringing Dr. Johnson to my acquaintance. My own book tells the story truly, I am confident-yours has not reached me and I have nothing here at present to refer to: but thus called on, I will try my recollection.
Poor Mr. Murphy was an intimate of my first husband's, and soon after our marriage, expressed an eager desire that we should know the great writer, of whom we were always speaking. Our residence was in the borough of Southwark; yet I could bring him here, says he, only we must seek an ostensible reason for his coming. That reason was found in Mr. Woodhouse's celebrity. The day was appointed, and passed so agreeably, that the same day in the next week was fixed for our meeting again—but I think, Mr. Woodhouse came but once. Johnson's injunction to him about the Spectators struck me very forcibly-' Give days and nights, sir, to the study
"Your letter, saying Mr. Murphy is dead, struck me forcibly too; but of friends we were living with forty-six years ago, who is left alive? The portraits painted for Mr. Thrale at Streatham, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, have all lost their originals, except Dr. Burney of Chelsea College, and her, who has the honour to he, Sir,
"Your very obedient humble servant,
"If I come to town next spring-meaning, if I should live till next spring, and could give you any means of information for your Inquiry, pray command me, and accept my best wishes for its success,'
I shall now take a dip into the chest on my left hand, for in that on the right I seem to have got among nothing but affectionate epistles from cousins and aunts, sisters and brothers. Aye, here is metal more attractive. The very first is a lively little morsel--and from a peer,-Richard, the fourth Earl of Effingham. It does not appear in what year it was written; but the playful confession which it contains, must surely settle the noble writer's age on the wintry side of fifty, at least. It is addressed to a friend, who had solicited his lordship's subscription in behalf of an amiable and highly gifted female, who was about to publish a volume of poems.
"Any recommendation from an old Whig, or an old Etonian, comes very strong to me; and though I cannot say that the nine old maids had ever such attractions for me as younger ladies of mere mortal mould, I shall consider the volume of poems in question, as Colonel Hackwell does the Chinese dancers; that is to say, that provided the scheme takes, and answers the purpose of serving the lady you interest yourself for,' I shall not care whether the aforesaid dancers come over or no.'
"I think, in my conscience, your demand of one guinea is too moderate for beauty, and virtue to boot. I have therefore enclosed a couple, upon consideration that I have, many years ago, when all things were cheaper, given one for the former qualification, with even a particular stipulation that I should not have the latter thrown into the bargain.
"But though I have thus unbosomed myself to you as a friend, I would not have it publicly known that I am old enough to set a greater value upon virtue than on beauty, or even an equal one; therefore, if you please, let one of the guineas be supposed Lady Effingham's, and if the accounts are to be examined by the auditors, let hers be for the virtue, and set down mine to either love or friendship, whichever you think may become him who is, Dear -, your very faithful friend and servant,
July 28, quarter past seven."
What a contrast there is between the elegant pleasantry of this, and the morose, splenetic humour of the following, which is from the eccentric, if not crazy, Phillip Thicknesse, who was celebrated for many fooleries; and among others, for travelling half over the Continent with a monkey, dressed up as a postillion. He used to say, the French never discovered the difference between Jackoo and their own countrymen, except when he stopped to change horses. The letter is a characteristic effusion of surly growling. It is addressed to but has no other beginning or ending than what is here
"I have returned Mr. Seward his guinea, and therefore you will be pleased to send me his. I do not let any man subscribe to me, who, calling himself my friend, visits Dr. Adair because he sent him a book which he was glad to get any body to take. I have given Mr. Seward a letter which I believe he will find smart him more than I smarted at Adair's. Mrs. Thicknesse has for years read that gentleman, and sometimes made me angry. She has to-day told him of my mistake; I know he speaks well of me, and so he does of every man on earth, even of the - painter, whom he also visits. This is the way to glide smoothly along the paths of life; but it is a path 1 will never walk with any man in, after I know it to be his.-Adieu." Another dip! But I must pause for the present, and lay aside, till another opportunity, letters from Prince Rupert, General Monk, Admiral Byng, Emanuel Swedenborg, Garrick, Lord Chief Justice Eyre, Pitt, &c. &c. I have just room enough, however, to transcribe two little morsels. The one is from Lady Hamilton-Lord Nelson's Lady Hamilton-addressed to Mrs. Stratford Place. Oh, that I could exhibit a facsimile of the writing! I have seen many extraordinary handwritings in the course of my life, and amongst them, that of Sir Harcourt Lees, which looks as if a * I dare not transcribe the epithet here used.