« PreviousContinue »
THE following pathetic story is from Mr. Rogers' beautiful poem of "Italy." The unfortunate Ginevra was the subject of an interesting picture by Zampieri, shewn in a palace formerly inhabited by the Donati, at Modena.
She was an only child—her name Ginevra,
Her pranks the favourite theme of every tongue.
Great was the joy; but at the nuptial feast,
Weary of his life
Full fifty years were past, and all forgotten,
That mouldering chest was noticed: and 'twas said
With here and there a pearl, an emerald stone,
There then had she found a grave!
CONFESSIONS OF A BLUE BAG.*
"THE meditation of revenge," continued the Bag, "is of all things the most senseless and ridiculous. It not only keeps alive the remembrance of injuries which were, perhaps, unintentional, but it revives them with additional force, and inflicts them again and again, with a poignancy and aggravation, which our most inveterate enemies are incapable of imparting to them. Those who harbour revenge must bid adieu to ease and gladness, to the delights of social intercourse, and the blessings of inward serenity; for that monstrous passion cannot subsist without strife and discontent. Its only aim is the injury of another, and to compass that, no baseness is deemed too low, no self-torment too severe. The revengeful are criminal without temptation, they punish themselves for the offences of others; and, to gain a momentary triumph, they sacrifice health, profit, tranquillity, happiness, or whatever else impedes the accomplishment of their vindictive purposes. So dead are they to all sense of propriety, that they feel but little chagrin at the ridicule which awaits the failure of their impotent rage; or at the detestation called forth by their unhallowed successes." Finding the orator disposed to enlarge upon this topic, I pulled him by the string, and begging a thousand pardons for the interruption, expressed my concurrence with his notions, but hinted that if he would resume his confessions, I could moralize for myself as he proceeded; upon which he continued as follows:
"It happened that in the course of the Counsellor's stamping fit, he wore away a knot, in the thread which secured my right side. Of this circumstance, though it was a serious one for me, he took no heed; being too much elated with his successful debut to throw away a thought upon my pitiable condition. The thing may seem trivial to you, Sir, but have patience to mark the consequences. On our return to town, my gentleman found that his reputation had travelled more rapidly than himself: although we came by the mail, yet many professional friends were prepared to greet him with hearty congratulations on the delivery of his speech, which the newspapers had already made them acquainted with. Briefs began to flow in apace, and as they were daily thrust upon me, I purposely, and with infinite pain, exposed my weak side to them, till in the course of time, stitch yielded after stitch, and an aperture was formed large enough for the expulsion of any slip of paper, such as is used for memoranda, the loss of which I conceived would inconvenience my master almost sufficiently to afford me a complete retaliation.
"I had, however, long to wait for an opportunity of carrying this mischievous scheme into execution: for his notes, consisting chiefly of extracts from large volumes, were carefully folded between their leaves. But he one day, threw in both book and notes, with such unfeeling violence, as made me shake from top to base, and, at the same time, caused the book to open and the note paper to get loose. This precious slip I softly and secretly drove to the yawning orifice; and as the clerk who carried me went through the Adelphi in his way to Westminster, I hurled it with a vengeance down one of those bottomless areas. Exulting in the mischief I had committed, I amused myself during the remainder of the walk with picturing the dismay that would seize upon the
W. L.M. VOL. I. NO. III.
Concluded from p. 21.
disappointed lawyer when he should become sensible of his loss. I went so far as to anticipate the jokes, the titterings, and merriment, that would circulate in the court at his expense; whilst I grew ecstatic at the bare contemplation of the triumph which I thought already belonged to his learned opponent. At length the argument came on, and my master, as usual, turned to me for assistance. I gave him none; but on the contrary, I looked with malicious anxiety for his discomfiture. My treachery, however, was justly doomed to prove abortive. He rose with all the boldness and composure of a practised advocate: and being imboldened with previous success, his wits were all at his command; his memory served him a great way; and at the conclusion of his quotations, an extemporary thought occurred to him, which enabling him to place the argument in a new light, gave a turn to the discussion, as unexpected as it was decisive in his favour. Thus did the revenge which I had fostered for months; the crooked policy by which I had sought to overwhelm the object of my hate; and the cruel penance that I had so sedulously inflicted upon myself, all redound to his advantage. And I alone, was fully sensible of the real cause of his triumph, to which, in fact, my knavish folly had chiefly contributed; for the thought which arose in his mind on the emergency, was very much superior to any that he had premeditated for the
Having suffered such an entire defeat, you may suppose that I did not long retain my place. In the Counsellor's first leisure moment he began to revolve the causes which had led to the disappearance of his notes: he summoned me into his angry presence, and immediately began to examine, and cross-examine me, with a most impertinent curiosity, which was not to be diverted from penetrating my inmost recesses. vain did I struggle, and endeavour to elude his prying; in vain did I attempt to contract myself into a thousand folds. The time for evasion was gone by; his hand fell upon the unlucky corner, his fingers protruded, and furnished ample demonstration that I was no longer trustworthy. 'Here,' he exclaimed, is the confounded rent that had like to have cost my client, Sir Thomas, his whole estate.' With these words he threw me from him with disdain, regardless of my efforts to cling to his hands with my cord that cord which he had once been so happy to lay hold of. Calling to his clerk, Scriven, he ordered him never to trust me any more, but in my stead, to get a crimson damask. He added, moreover, that I looked shabby, and was a common affair, and besides, he had observed that blue bags were getting quite out of fashion.
"This Scriven was a perfect brute: armed with a little brief authority, he treated me with that contemptuous bearing which men of petty minds are wont to exercise over the fallen favourite. 'Tis true I was dismissed: but I declare, that nothing more than dismission was either expressed or implied, in the sentence passed upon me by my late master. Nevertheless, this Jack in office, instantly seizes me by the throat, hurries me out of the chamber, hangs me out of his own window, where I was publicly whipped, and underwent some of the grossest indignities that were ever offered to a British subject. He afterward overhauled me with great roughness, and prying all over me sans ceremonie, discovered my fatal wound, which he with a pack-thread and a huge needle, sewed up in the coarsest, and, to me, the most painful manner. I was then put away on a nail, where I remained for more than a week in a state of dreadful suspense. At the end of that period I was taken down in great haste, and
stuffed with an old gown and wig of his master's. In this plight I was carried out one dismal November evening, and after being long exposed to the drizzling rain, I was assigned to a theatrical property-man, an acquaintance of Scriven's, who appeared to be one of those clerks
Who change their pens for truncheons, ink for blood,
He cultivated this gentleman's good-will by such available compliments, with the view of having them returned, in the shape of benefit-tickets, and occasional orders of admission to witness dramatic performances.
"Under the proprietor of untold properties I was variously employed; sometimes protecting the Roman eagles, and at others taking care of 'shreds and patches.' My prospects now began to brighten, and the days of my adversity seemed passing away. I was once more brought forward from seclusion and inactivity, and after a thorough brushing, which did me no harm, received a strange variety of old papers, and with them in my keeping, I had the honour of being introduced to one of the greatest comedians that ever smelt the lamp. Pray, Sir, allow me to ask if you ever saw Love, Law, and Physic,' with Mr. Matthews as Flexible?" I replied in the affirmative. Then," resumed my orator, "you must remember, that in Act II. Scene 2, Flexible enters in a barrister's dress, in company with a law-bag. I, Sir, had the honour and the pleasure of playing Bag to Mr. Matthews's Flexible; and I am sure you will allow, that in point of flexibility I was not second even to that incomparable actor. Ah! that was a merry season for me: the spirit and animation imparted to me by his very touch, completely drove away all melancholy recollections. And then, to be permitted to stay-out the performance in one of the best situations for watching the bye-play of Liston, the irresistible, the unique Lubin Log; what richer treat could a Bag like me desire? Indeed, it proved almost too much for me, as the united comicality of those humorous performers very nearly produced a second and this time, an unintentional-splitting of my sides.
"At the close of the season I was again intrusted with properties, and among the rest, with an ermine cloak, or tippet, which had occasionally decked the shoulders of many monarchs, even from King John to Henry the Eighth. By some negligence, which I forbear to impute to any one in particular, this right regal antiquity became infested with moths, which perverted it into the theatre of a series of most unprovoked and most unceremonious ravages. I viewed their operations with alarm, and should certainly have communicated my fears to the property-man, had not my mouth been closed, and myself left without the power of opening it; else I should certainly have disgorged the loathsome trespassers which fattened on the property of which I had the care. It was not long before a party of the most adventurous set out on a journey of discovery, the chief object of which was to explore my nethermost folds. They traversed me in all directions, and certainly they were indefatigable in their researches; so much so, indeed, that they remained abroad much longer than was expected; and having exhausted their stock of provisionswhich had originally consisted of no less than two ermines' tails-they were upon the eve of starvation, when one of them whose appetite was more keen, and whose invention was more fruitful than the rest, determined to gather a meal from the fruits of the terra cyanea, as he thought fit to name me. Upon this, he made a beginning at my woof, which he
pronounced to be excellent eating, and invited his companions to follow his example. His famished comrades required not a second invitation, but fell-to upon me with such inordinate avidity, that I expected nothing but to be totally devoured at that single meal. Finding that they should require no other provisions but what I, the miserable terra cyanea, afforded, they prosecuted their travels much farther; established several colonies; and returned to the mother country with such a captivating description of what they had seen and tasted, that the overgrown population of the tippet was speedily thinned by emigration, and I experienced the indescribable horror of being overrun, lacerated, and eaten up alive by tribes of the most nauseous and most ravenous beings. When I found that they spared neither warp nor woof, and that I seemed forsaken by the property-man and the whole corps dramatique, I was upon the point of yielding to the dictates of despair, but at the very crisis of my wretchedness, a call of the house took place, and an examination of myself and the rest of the properties ensued. It was evident to all that I was no longer fit to sustain my former part on the stage, or to hold my place of trust in the great wardrobe. I had therefore no alternative but to retire, or be turned out: I accordingly quitted the house under the protection of a Jew whose skill in the healing art was confessedly great, and who, I well knew, understood the family constitution of the Woollens. To his prodigious skill I was indebted for a new inside; for the closing of my wounds; and for a partial renewal of my youthful colour; which latter was effected (I confess it for the good of the public, the ladies in particular) by frequent immersions in a caldron filled with a boiling cosmetic. As soon as I could with safety be exposed to the air, I was conveyed to his repository in Monmouth Street; but that vulgar situation was so little suited to my taste or habits, that I gladly quitted it for the service of your good friend's clerk. I have every reason to be satisfied with the treatment I receive from him. He is gentle, knowing my weakness. He feeds me well, taking me to market with him, and filling me with eatables. But, alas ! Sir, the day is gone by for me either to relish, or to derive nourishment from this good cheer; appetite I have none, digestive organs none. truth, I confess that I am completely worn out, past labour, and past recovery; and when I look forward, I behold nothing but a cheerless and melancholy future. Old age advances with rapid strides. I am far away from my kindred; destitute of wealth, to purchase the comforts which are requisite at my time of life; and not even possessing the pauper's claim to a parish settlement. Now, Sir, I have this one request to make, and it may be my last-it is, that you would exert your interest in my behalf among the Trustees and Governors of the Theatrical Fund, and likewise among those of the Law Association; for having figured in my time, both on the stage and in the forum, mine is a hard case, indeed, if I am not, after all, a proper object for the bounty of one, if not both of those excellent institutions."
The piteous tone in which this request was preferred was too moving to be heard with indifference. I started my reverie was over-and there ended the
CONFESSIONS OF A BLUE BAG.