« PredošláPokračovať »
misery-and what do you think is his wife's name? Peggy! Phæbus what a name!
“Cobblers ! take warning by this cobbler's end.” Yes, ye castle-builders ! look upon his undone condition, and take warning. Take warning, parents, and bring up your children to suit the sphere in which they are to move. I shall not trouble you with the why and the wherefore of his present condition, but suffice it to say that such it is, and then picture to yourself the untold miseries he must endure when I depict to you the sort of life he is leading, with such passions as I have already described his ruling ones to be. Imprimis: there is Peg-but I had better say as little as possible of her,. out of respect for the ladies, and out of regard for my friend, because in truth, like "Jerry Sneak,” he has not eaten a "bit of under crust since he was married,” but follow me if you please upon his farm, and let me introduce to you his plagues and tormentors. Let us look for the overseer—we shall find him if at home, which is seldom the case, seated on a stump, with the symbol of his office under his arm. There he is, you see, mounted on his throne, lazily looking at the laborers ; working the land to death by injudicious cultivation extorting the last drop of vitality from it; a foe to every species of improvement, and obstinately bent upon going on in the jog-trot of his predecessors. This is Castellanus' companion ex necessitate. Shades of the Orvilles and Mortimers ! pity him. What can there be in common between them? What can they talk about ? About Evelina and Amanda ?-Cottages covered with woodbine and honeysuckle ?-Landscapes and glorious sunsets ?—the warbling of birds ?-Oh no, Suk and Sall, negro cabins or pig-styes, corn fields and
yes, they can talk of birds, but they are blackbirds and crows, and devil take their warbling—of sunset, but only to lament the shortness of the days. His (the overseer's) themes are rogues and runaways—he is eloquent upon hogstealing, and neither Simon Sensitive nor Timothy Testy could recount more readily the miseries of human life.
His are the miseries of Geoponics. Rot-rust-weevil -fly and cutworm, haunt his imagination, and dwell upon his tongue. Castellanus would rather be a dog and bay the moon, than discuss such subjects. But my friend's delight was once in horses; it was one of the few pleasures he had. His fancy was early captivated by Alexander mounting Bucephalus; a horse gayly caparisoned and mounted by a steel clad knight, was a sight upon which his imagination feasted. The red roan charger of Marmion, at the battle of Flodden, had thrilled his every nerve.
“Blood shot his eye-bis nostril spread,
Oh what a picture ! and that I should be obliged to exhibit to your view the counterfeit presentment. The ploughboys are just coming out of the stable with their master's horses going to plough. Here, sir, is Buck-efallus, as the negro boys call Bucephalus. There is no difficulty in mounting him ; they have knocked out one of his eyes; he has a blind side and cannot see the shadow cast by the sun. If his spirit was ever as high as his namesake's, he has lost it now—that little ragged urchin can ride him with a grape-vine-raw-boned, spavined and wind-galled ! let him pass, and let us see the next. This is Smiler! "Lucus a non lucendo." I suppose ; alas ! he never smiles—he reminds one of Irving's wall-eyed horse, looking out of the stable window on a rainy day. His look is disconsolate in the extreme; from the imperturbable gravity of his manners, you perceive he is dead to hope; melancholy has marked him for her own; bad feeding, constant toil, and a lost currycomb, have made him “what thou well mayest hate," although he once “set down” as “shapely a shank” as Burns' auld mare Maggie, ever did. Do you see that long-legged fellow, that Brobdignag, mounted
upon the little mare mule? His legs almost drag the ground, and he ought in justice to toat (aye, sir, toat, a good word, an excellent word, and one upon
which I mean to send you an etymological essay some of these days) the animal he bestrides. There are some singular traits about that mule Golliver, as the boys, by a singular misnomer, call her. She keeps fat, “while other nags are poor;" it is because she lives in the cornfield. She can open the stable-door by some inscrutable means, some sort of open sesame, gates are no impediments to her, and even ten rails, and a rider cannot arrest her progress. She seems to have a vow upon her never to leave the plantation ; she will go as far as the outer gate with her rider, but if he attempt to pass that boundary, his fate is sealed. He is canted most unceremoniously over her head, and made to bite the dust; that gate is her Ultima Thule, her ne plus ultra ;
the utmost bound of her ambition. She has acquaintances enough, as Old Oliver says, and wished not to extend the circle. Her policy is Chinese, or perhaps like Rasselas, she once escaped from her happy valley, and was disappointed in the world—“one fatal remembrance," perhaps casts its “bleak shade” beyond that gate. I know not in sooth, but heaven help me! what am I doing? If I go on thus, with the whole stud of my neighbor, and write at large upon every thing which torments him, I shall never have done. Suffice it then, that I give you a hasty, panoramic sketch of what he has to encounter in his rides over his farm. See him mounted on his little switch-tailed grey, which has the high sounding title of White Surrey, and whose tail is nearly cut off at the root by the crupper—the mane in most admired disorder, and fetlocks long and bushy. Now what does he behold ? Barren fields-broken fences-gates unhinged-starving cattle—ragged sheep -and jades so galled, that they make him wince-hogs that eat their own pigs and devastate his crops—mares that sometimes cripple their own colts—cows on the contrary which have so much of the milk of vaccine kindness, that they suffer their offspring to suck after being broken to the cart—bulls even, that suck-rams, so pugnacious, that they butt his mules down, as the aforesaid Gulliver can attest, for often have I seen her knocked down as fast as she could rise-upon my life
it's true Mr. Editor, and you need not add with Major Longbow, “what will you lay it's a lie ?" It was amusing to see the ram, with head erect and fixed eye, moving round in a small circle, and watching his opportunity to plant his blows, and with all the pugilistic dexterity of Crib or Molyneux. I once knew my unfortunate neighbor to have a fine blooded colt, foaled in the pasture with his mules. These vicious devils had no sooner perceived that the colt was without those long ears which characterize their species, than they set to work with one accord to demolish the monstrous production, and in spite of the efforts of the mother, which fought with a desperation worthy of some old Roman, beset by a host of foes, succeeded in trampling to death her beautiful offspring. What a picture this is of some political zealots and envenomed critics, who no sooner perceive that a man has not asses' ears, like themselves, than they commence a senseless outcry against him and compass his destruction. I have somewhere read of a madman, and perhaps he was right, who when confined, protested he was not mad; that all mankind were madder than he, and that they were envious of his superior intellect, and therefore wished to put him out of the way. Castellanus goes to ride out with Cecilia, Camilla, the Children of the Abbey, or some such book in his pocket, and so engrossed is his mind with the elegance and refinement of those personages, that be can scarcely bear to go where his overseer is. He shuns him as much as Lovel did Captain Mirvan, or old Mr. Delville, Mr. Briggs. He turns with horror from the pictures of desolation around him, and hastens home to find consolation in the bosom of his heroines, not of his Peggy, for he cannot yet say, “Non clamosa mea mulier jam percutit aures"* -and in truth that virtuous lady has a tongue, and with it can ring such a peal about the above mentioned unproductive state of things, that he had rather hear the "grating on a scrannel-reed of wretched straw ;''-or, to be less poetical,
* Nay what's incredible, alack !
and to come back to what he hears every day, he had rather listen to the music of his own cart-wheels, which grate so harshly and scream so loudly that they may be heard a mile off. The inevitable result of all I have told you, Mr. Editor, is, that my neighbor is actually sinking three or four per cent. upon his capital every year, and must come to beggary unless you can arouse him from his ridiculous castle-building, and novel reading: I wish you could see the style in which he moves with his cara sposa to church; they have come down, as we say, to an old gig, which cannot be quite as old as Noah's ark, because no two of the kind were ever seen in this world, and therefore could not have been preserved at the time of the deluge, although the brass mountings on the muddy and rain-stiffened harness are of so antique a fashion, that we might well suppose the ingenuity of that celebrated artificer in brass, Tubal Cain, was employed in their construction. This crazy vehicle is drawn by the overseer's horse, which is borrowed for the “nonce,”—because neither Buck-e-fallus nor Smiler, nor any the stud are fit to go, and Gulliver, besides being a mule, has declined, as I have already shown, having any thing to do with our “external relations; and furthermore, because this is the only conceivable mode in which my neighbor can obtain a return for that unlimited control which the said horse exercises over the corn in his corn-house. The contrast between the long lean figure, and rueful and cadaverous countenance of Castellanus, and the short figure resembling “the fat squab upon a Chinese fan,” and the ruddy countenance of Mrs. Castellanus, is very striking;
They sit, side by side, in the gig, sir, as solemn,
How they ever came together, except by the fortuitous concourse of atoms, I cannot divine, for certainly without disrespect, I may say, that however charming Mrs.