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ing scream, which lasted during the remainder of the intelligence. It was too evident, as I knew, by the sign of the "crooked billet," that I was irretrievably marred, by which same token I despaired. And then, no more remittances! The thing
-"resolved itself into a do."
I turned it over and over in my mind, till my brain took the hint, and began to turn likewise-but without avail.
I was thunderstruck. The Major married, and I unprovided for! That last thought went, like a flash of lightning, through all my empty pockets, and set fire to bills which already appeared waving in the hands of importunate beings, with faces lit up by a ruthless glare. What could I do but as I did-order posthorses, and scamper across the country to the mansion of the Major, concocting affecting appeals, as I rolled along, to all the finer sensibilities of man's nature-nepotal affection, domestic tenderness, and what not, which I proposed to illustrate from the practice of the fabled Pelican; and, indeed, by instances carefully culled from natural history, well worthy of belief, but assuredly very incredible.
As I drew up the avenue, a prophetic gloom spread itself over the premises. A gang of geese, of the most melancholy breed, held their funeral course toward a sombre pond, and dropt, like substanes of lead, into it. A rustic swain, leaping on reversed pitchfork, pursed up a brace of long lips, and created a tune of the wretchedest monotony; and the middle-aged aloe in front of the door looked more stiff and formal than ever. The servant who opened the door presented that index to the volume of his brain, a face, in which I read small emphatic meanings, as in a vocabulary; and the butler, as be advanced towards me, appeared to my alarmed apprehensions, to be drawing down the corners of his mouth, even unto the waistcoatpockets.
However, gaining courage from despair, I burst into the parlour, and, going upon my knees, demanded a blessing. Alarmed, not a little, by this abrupt genuflexion, the Major and his lady started from their chairs, and gazed, first at me and then at each other, dubiously, and in a manner that would have moved the rigid muscles (rigid in death!) of the unfortunate Miss Bailey herself, but which affected me not a whit. The Major took a pinch of snuff, as if preparing to metamorphose his hand into a fist; and my aunt-in-law tossed a nose, blue as the firmament, into the air, and muttered expressions of contempt and disgust.
"It won't do, Jack-it wont't do!" said the Major, after a pause, with strange calmness. "Resume your perpendicularity, and vanish. You're not safe. Now, do go-Jack, iny dear boy, go-or I'll throw you out of the window, you rascal, I will!" Saying which, I retired, and betook myself to the hall, in an agony of doubt, amazement, and fear. Here I paced wildly about, smiling grievously, and at intervals breaking forth with disastrously whimsical confessions of the gratification this treatment afforded me. Then did I arrange my frill, and pluck at my collar, till I nearly drew my shirt off my back; and kicked the chairs. about, after a most ridiculous fashion.
Presently, the Major came oozing through the parlour-door, and, beckouing me to him, said confusedly,
Jack, you dog, you're not likedabhorred, upon my soul! Therefore, make no (broken) bones of the matter, but return to college." And so, squeezing into my hand a small paper, he shrunk back. Now this was spoken so hurriedly, that I found it impossible to put in even an indefinite article edgeways; argal, I was constrained to sneak off-pacified, in a measure, by observing a bank-note pendent from my fingers; and, stepping into the post-chaise, drove back again with even more speed than I came.
At college, I must confess, I de
rived great advantage from a perusal and diligent study of the ancients, and, upon the whole, tender my filial affection to Alma-Mater, with a lively gratitude; but a greedy reception of certain philosophical dogmas, or a too implicit reliance upon them, did
"What the devil's to be done, 1 say?" bellowed the Major. "Shall we convict and hang the scoundrelfor such he is; and if not, why not?
go far to dislodge that solid substra--Eh?" This emphatic "Eh ?” violently contracted as it was in length of expression, roused me to a scene of acute meutal anguish ; but I was roused; and, heaving up a prodigious groan, which relieved me, prepared to counsel, and, all preliminaries arranged, to accompany my ill-fated uncle.
But the Major prepared to unlock those hidden gifts and graces of philosophy, whereof not the possession, but even the enjoyment and casual exercise, were previously unknown to me. Sooth to say, he did in timely exordiums,
tum of reason which should have lain over the too ductile imagination. Thus, by pursuing and adopting the visionary theory of Bishop Berkeley, I certainly vindicated my claim to the title of a lad of spirit; and, while I believed that "nothing is but what is not," forgot straight-waistcoats, and a monosyllabic keeper. I never cared to ask, because I suppose there
were none to answer
"An me ludit amabilis
and, in consequence, the wings of my imagination began to indulge in extraordinary flights-flights which quite carried away my head with them. Indeed, it was a physiological problem, whether I had not now become total head and wings; like a carved cherub over a grave-stoneall pinions and pericranium !
But, just in time to avert the entire defection of my understanding, the Major appeared one morning before me; and, without much ceremony, explained in few words, thus
Jack, we must go to town together. You'll not have a farthing to bless yourself with or me; forthat rascally agent !" I scratched my head ruefully.
"You are to learn, Jack, I did not marry for money. No,"-observing my incredulous grin,-"no! that's all settled upon her." I grinned not. "It was not my wish to step into the property; but to vault into her affections, Jack-to hop into her good opinion. Now the agent, in whose hands my property lay, has failed. What the devil's to be done?" Here I felt my was an announcement! fortitude hurrying away with my reason, at the rate of ten faculties a minute, and sank upon a chair, with a ghastly arrangement of mouth, in
tended for the production of an extended sound-which, however, came not.
and discovered immortal thingschewed in mental detail the bitter sweets of adversity-and touched and purified, with the tongue's fire, the loathsome malefactions of the world.
"Poverty-phew !" cried the Major; and he sang a stanza;—"poverty is the mere fact of being withoutnothing more; a negation of means
the reverse of a settled income, do you observe? A positive condition of humanity, nevertheless. Poverty is the region of speculation—”
"Very true," I despondingly interrupted; but the philosopher has swallowed up the man. My dear sir, not poverty, but famine, is the word -philosophic famine, that supplies that desideratum in science-a vacuum.- —Oh, Major!"
He was moved. I continued:"You marvel-let us not wonderour property is gone!" He strode violently towards the coach-office: I trotted briskly and busily after him. "Our destiny is fixed !"
"Hold your d-d croaking!" roared the Major.
"We are ripe for the sickle, and shall be cut down and garnered; beggary and want shall enlist us, with
out the formulary or payment of a that infested the place, and took this shilling, in method of poisoning me.
Then there came into the room two individuals, who served to divert my attention awhile from my sorrows. They caused to be procured glasses of brandy and water, and it was astonishing to behold their prompt appropriation of them. But I soon grew tired of these swillers; nay, I seemed to wish to pick a quarrel with them-they looked so happy. There was one with a sort of orange-peel complexion and rhubarb-coloured wig, who talked in so low a key that I could not hear a word; and the other was a mere fat occupier of space, who never spoke at all. But what particularly enraged me was, that these unintelligible words caused a violent laughter to distend the midriff of this fat one; but it was altogether a noiseless effort-save a finely-attenuated wheeze that, at intervals, escaped from its pectoral prison. They were not fits of langhter, but lethargies, during which he lay in a trance. But soon these went away, and left me to myself.
- the grisly legion that troop Beneath the sooty flag of Acheron.' In a word-we shall go to the dogs, and be sent to the devil!"
Thus did I, by trope and figure, pour out the bitterness of my soul to my companion, who now perspired copiously, and coined new modes of expression and modifications of utterance in the effectual transmission of the agent's soul into the regions of Lucifer.
Immediately upon our arrival in town, the Major departed, blaspheming, to the office of the ill-starred insolvent; leaving me to order my solitary dinner at a tavern, to which he directed my attention.
It was a fine winter evening. The "well-dressed people" were passing the windows, with shawls over arms, and oranges in pocket, destined for the pit and gallery of the theatre; the boys, with ferocious voices, were presenting their bills; and the gentlemen of the ubiquitous finger were becoming possessed of bandanas "under prime cost."
There was no living creature in the coffee-room but myself. A fulllength clock stood moralizing in one corner, with its hands upon its face; like a wine-bibber, stung with compunction for past offences. The very dog had betaken himself to the scullery, to be kicked about by the saturnine and extensive cook, by way of a change of life; and the waiters were lolling their egometical proportions on each side of the street-door.
Having succeeded in overcoming the patient resistance of the most obstinate pullet that ever stepped out of egg-shell, and drank about a pint of a black mixture set before me, and called port, I grew excessively depressed (I remember that evening well!)-and began to analyze, and curse, and continue to guzzle the wine, till my lips dyed black; and I looked, for all the world, like Mr. Beverley in the last scene. I suspect that the landlord took me for a rat
During this interval of solitude, my mind underwent wonderful alternations of feeling, which ended in comparative tranquillity. I became cheerful and composed-imagined castles in the air, and countenances in the fire
"The ghastly colour from my lips was fled;" and, in short, I was, to all intents and purposes, but my creditors, quite another man? so that, when my uncle came gasping in, about midnight, with a look like Jeremiah, and told me that all indeed was lost, I contrived to demean myself with decent resiguation.
As for the Major, he worked his inside out, like a spider, to very little purpose. Seated before, the fire, with his legs upraised upon the hob, and brandishing the poker, which he occasionally plunged between the bars, he expounded his private views upon the question.
"The villainous embezzler," quoth
he, " set a heap of books before me, of which I could make neither head nor tail; and took me up stairs to see his starving wife and eleven 'little ones!'-a superhumanly immense brood!-each of whom, as I entered, flew off to another region. The wife pretty-but he a knave!" And thus he went on and on, till the candles fell into convulsions in the sockets, and the curious stare of the aye-yawning waiter reminded us of bed.
Here, between a pair of wonderfully wet sheets, I rheumatized till morning, when I
-" rose, like an exhalation,"
from my vapoury couch, and met the Major in the coffee-room, restored, by his night's rest, to his habitual good spirits.
We entered at once into a long conference touching future arrangements, when it was decided that I should remain in town--the Major vowing to exert his interest with his lady to permit my domestication under their London roof. In the meantime, he furnished me with a sum of money, and we parted-he to his own home, and I into the wide wilderness of streets, in quest of lodging, which I procured.
To a young man just entering life, adversity is the pleasantest thing imaginable-for a short time: there is just enough of romance in the situations to render them interesting. We console ourselves with the " precious jewel in the head," and find out the precious value of the heels in a brief period. "No prospect!" says Reason ;—“No matter!" says Sentiment. "Facilis descensus Averni!" and some enjoy an alacrity in sinking.
The Major and I now met less and less frequently. I have good reason to suspect that his domestic roof wanted repair—or, at least, he seldom made a segment of the family circle. He chiefly spent his time between his club and the Opera; and when he, by chance, stumbled upon me at the
took a strangely general turn. Now and then, indeed, would he cast his eye mournfully upon my fac-simile figure, with a sort of" ingenui vultus puer" comment, and break out with, "Egad, Jack, we must contrive something for you;" at which period I made interest for the supplies; but all serious debate was inevitably interrupted at its outset by some cursed mischance or another.
For my own part, my avocations partook equally of the sublime and the ridiculous. I hated mediums. I drank largely of Burton ale and metaphysics; at one moment, pouring over the philosopher of Malmesbury; at another, snoring over the details of a prosing incurable, twaddling behind a long and pallid pipe, with an asthma and eternity of tongue-and no snuff-box!
My leisure begot aspirations after better things-hopes and yearnings of the soul, which I am almost sorry to have parted withal. I fell in love at the theatre with a married woman, and looked like the "Last Man" for three days; during which I read Rousseau and Werter. I became a connoisseur in milliner's girls, and took to small poetry and the columns of the Morning Post ; -nay, I might have written a tragedy, but for the difficulty of disposing of some of the unoffending interlocutors in the last act; unless by causing one of the characters to take offence at a trifle, and so give occasion for the promiscuous slaughter of the rest.
In the meantime I waxed melancholy, and took to crossing of arms and legs-opined that my talents were overlooked-and felt convinced that their diminutive extent was not the cause. I grew selfish and disagreeable, quarrelled with my landlady, and cut myself vilely in shaving. Then I succeeded in walking in my sleep, till I perineated a sky-light, and scared the maid-servant into hysterics, and the cat into the copper. Assuredly, I was in a "pitiable state, and looked out, above
play or in the park, our conversation all things, for the approach of death.
And now the Major was about to leave England, for India, with his regiment, once more. Any preference of his native land had long since been buried-a ceremony of interment, at which his lady had officiated as sexton; and my prospects alone occupied the intervening space.
We discoursed at large upon this topic the evening before his depar
"What do you think of the law ?" I inquired.
"As of a gown and wig, which, in defiance of the proverb, you may keep for seven years without having any occasion for; unless you should, perchance, be employed to adjust the ownership of a mad dog at Clerkenwell sessions, and so forth."
"What say you to the army?” "No, to that.""Marriage-with an heiress, or a rich widow?" and I tipped a very sagacious wink.
"Ha, ha, ha, ha ah !" replied the Major, the final note thrilling like a passing bell; and, again, "Ha -haah!" and straight he resorted to mandarin-like movements of the head, rockings of the chair, and extractions of the watch; but be answered never a word.
coffee-room, amusing my leisure by committing to memory the births, marriages, and deaths, and observing how ludicrously some of the first had slipped down into the third, since my last review of those interesting memorials ;-I repeat, I sat thus employed, when my friend, Lieutenant Jacks (whom I have erewhile remembered), entered the room. To start up, and crush the paralyzed paw of that martial man, was the work of an instant; to compel him to a seat, the employment of another.
But Jacks drooped strangelygloom, of the most decided character, overspread the inane diameter of that absurdly idiotic face; he sighed Eolianly-by gusts. What could he have to communicate? I knew he was just arrived from India-probably a letter from the Major-for which I tendered my hand; but, having sorted to his satisfaction the figures of his rhetoric, Jacks ejaculated,
"Jack, your uncle is no more! A determination of bullets to the head, my dear fellow! Here are his watch, seals, and ring. I have communicated the intelligence to your aunt." He ended, mumbling, and formed grimaces hitherto unknown.
I saw him not-I heard him no longer-I answered him not. My heart was too full for endurance; and, covering my face, I dropt my head upon the table, and burst into an agony of tears.