« PreviousContinue »
were powerful auxiliaries to the virulence of his disorder. His temper was not one of the mildest in the world, and he indulged freely in the popular remedy of expletives. To be tied down to his arm-chair was punishment enough; but to be tortured into the bargain would have excited cataraphobia in a less irritable temperament than his. I received a note from him a day or two after his accident, written in much apparent pain, if I might judge by the hieroglyphics that were jumbled together in its composition. It was couched in the following terms:
“Bob, you scoundrel, why don't you come to me? I am dying, you undutiful cub, and you won't stir a peg.....I've had a sad accident, Bob. Spilt from that kickshaw cockle-shell, the gig. All my bones broken....Confound that mare! Your buying, Bob-on purpose, I believe, to break my neck.....Got the gout, too, Bob. The gout, you villain, and you know it, and won't come. Yes ; here I may die ; nobody cares for me: nobody cares for an old bachelor.....Bobby, my boy, come to your poor lame uncle...... You rascal, if you don't set out directly, I'll cut you off with a shilling.
“Your loving uncle, Trothy Tomkins." My sensations, on perusing this epistle, were none of the most agreeable: not that I disliked the old gentleman; but I was so well aware of the testiness of his temper, that I felt my dependence on him at this moment stronger than ever. I knew that it hung upon a thread ; and that, square my behaviour as I would, I could hardly hope to please him. Besides, I had a tale to unfold, on the reception of which the future happiness of my life depended; and if the variable wind that guided his weathercock disposition should happen to set in the wrong quarter, a long farewell to all the fairy pictures of felicity my ardent imagination had painted. I have already glanced at an attachment of the old gentleman in his younger days to Miss Biddy Briggs, who wedded his rival. The lady certainly acted a little precipitately in the affair ; for had she waited the ebullition of my uncle's passion, he would doubtless have been the first to have made overtures of peace. However, she promptly decided on giving her hand to the fellmonger, and left her quondam-beau to recover his chagrin and surprise as he might. Since that period, he had cherished a bitter dislike to the fellmonger; and whenever the image of Biddy crossed his mind, he drove it away with the epithets of a jilt, a coquet, and an inconstant. Now it happened, by the most singular chance in the world, that the daughter of this couple was introduced to me at a ball—that grand mart, time out of mind, for the exchange of hearts; and, as a matter of course, I fell in love. I hope none of my readers will take offence at this oldfashioned method of imbibing the tender passion; for I can assure them, that even now, hearts are sometimes lost in ball-rooms, as well as in the days of Sir Charles Grandison. I skip over the honied hours that preceded my offer and acceptance-lovers' têtes-d-tête are maudlin matters for paper. Two obstacles alone opposed our union,-trifles, perhaps, to some folks, but not so to us, I mean the consent of her parents and of my uncle, on whom the reckless generosity of a liberalminded but ill-fortuned father had left me utterly dependent. It was agreed that I should write to the former, and make a vidd voce appeal
to the latter. Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson were good sort of folks, who were anxious to see their daughter happy; and they wrote me in reply, that if my uncle's consent could be obtained, their's should not be withheld. Their letter contained many expressions of regard for their old friend, and an anxious wish for an union, which would connect both families in bonds of closer friendship. This was the sum and substance of their epistle, worded in a somewhat more homely style, but containing all I could desire. And now, said I, for my uncle !
It was at this critical juncture that his letter reached me; and this was the business I had to impart. Oh! thought I, the miseries of dependence! And on an old bachelor too, the testiest animal in the world! Old bachelors are a sort of wild beasts. They carry their untamed ferocities about them, to the annoyance of their fellow-creatures ; while a married man, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, is the gentlest being imaginable. He is swayed and curbed and softened down, 'till he loses all his celibacious asperities, and becomes a reasonable creature. Marriage, like the gentle arts, "emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros ;" it prevents men from degenerating into brutes, and, by the constant collision with woman's milder mind, gives them a portion of her tender spirit, and humanizes the soul. Al these reflections were engendered by the fear that the ancient animosity of my uncle to the very name of Ferguson should stand between me and the consummation of my hopes. I glided up the stairs that led to his apartment, and as I held the handle of the door in dubious suspense, endeavoured to screw my courage to the sticking-place, ere I turned it round and ventured into his presence. The effort was made, and the door opened. By the side of the fire, half-encircled with an old-fashioned screen, sat my uncle Timothy, in a capacious arm-chair ; his legs enveloped in flannels and fleecy hosiery ; his hands resting on the elbows of the chair ; his countenance Aushed and fiery with pain and vexation, and his eyes glaring at the glowing embers in abstracted vacancy. As I advanced towards him with the best look of condolence I could command, he raised his head, and the following dialogue ensued :
“So, you are come at last. A pretty, dutiful nephew-atender-hearted kinsman. Yes, here I might lie and languish in agony 'till doomsday. Even my own brother's son cares nothing for me; no, not an atom. Well, sir, what do you stand there for, like a stock-fish? Why don't you get a chair?" Šir," I replied, mechanically obeying him, " I assure you I never heard of your accident 'till the receipt of your letter ; and I set off on the instant.”—“Dare say you did. Don't think it, though. Hoped to find your old uncle at his last gasp, I've no doubt. Disappointed, mayhap; shall live long enough yet to tire you out. Sound at the
No chance for you these twenty years. Took care of myself when I was young, and didn't waste my health and my money in drinking and raking. No Tom-and-Jerrying in those days.”_Í should hope, sir, my conduct would acquit me of any undutiful wish towards an uncle who has always proved so kind to me as you have.”“ Eh? Well, perhaps it would. As you say, I haven't deserved it, Bob. Don't think you are hard-hearted; never did. You are tolerably well as the world goes; only a little flighty. Young men, now-adays, are not as they were when I was a stripling. Bobby, my boy, just shift my leg on this cushion Zounds! you scoundrel, you've "Why,
crippled me. You villain, do you suppose my toes have no more feeling than a horse's hoof? Did you think you were handling a bedpost ?" I stammered out an apology, attributing my inadvertency to my anxiety to relieve his pain. This soothed him a little. lookye, Bob: you know I am naturally good-tempered, but it would provoke the patience of a saint to be cooped up here like a capon, asted as I am by a slow fire, drenched with drugs, and fed upon slops. But tell me, what are you doing? How do you like the law? Fancy you like the playhouses better. Prefer hopping at Almack's, to studying Coke upon Littleton, eh ?”—“Sir, I never go to balls.”—“ Never go to balls! More shame for you. Dare say you never said a civil thing to a lady in your life.”—“I trust, Sir, I have never been found deficient in the attentions due to the fair sex."- “Pshaw! I don't believe you. I know you are a shy-cock. You've no more gallantry than a goose,
more spirit than a tom-tit. You ’re an animated iceberg. Zounds! when I was a youngster, the glance of a bright eye acted on me like a spark in a powder-barrel : I was in flames in a moment. Dare say you never formed a single attachment. Sorry for it. Should like to see you married, Bob."- “ Perhaps, Sir, you could recommend me a wife.”—“ Not I, Bob. I never played the part of a match-maker in my life. You must beat up your own game, lad, and run it down yourself.”—“Then, my dear uncle, to confess the truth, so far from being the cold composition you imagine me, I am actually engaged to a lady."_" The devil you are! And pray who is she?"-I hesitated, and changed colour. "What are you stammering at? You're not ashamed of telling her name, surely."- “Oh, no, sir. Her name is
-her name that is, her name is — Miss Julia Ferguson.” He stared at me a second or two in mute surprise. “Ferguson ! No relation, I hope, to fat Ferguson the fellmonger." Here was a crisis ! It was in vain to repent my precipitancy. Sincerity was all I had to trust to, and I confessed she was his daughter. The effect was fearful. He never uttered a word; but I could see the workings of pride, passion, and resentment, as they alternately displayed themselves in the fiery glances of his eye, the flushings of his cheek, and the quivering of his lips. Opposite his window there grew a sturdy oak. He turned his eye towards it, and thus addressed me, with an assumed coolness : “ Bob, look at that oak. When your strength shall be able to bend its trunk, you may hope to bend my wishes to your will. Ferguson! I detest the name, and all who bear it; and sooner than you should wed her, I would follow you to your grave." There was something so appalling in his manner as he uttered this denouncement, that I was unable to reply; but I was spared the effort by the sudden opening of the door, and the entrance of an old friend of my uncle's, who stopped suddenly, struck by the expression on both our countenances. “Heyday!" said he, “what's the matter ? Uncle and nephew at loggerheads !”—“ Here's Bob,” replied my kinsman, “has dared to acknowledge a passion for the daughter of fat Ferguson, the fellow that- -"-_“ Married your adorable, because you was too sulky to ask her hand for yourself
. Well, what is there so wonderful in that? Julia Ferguson is a fine girl, and deserves a good husband.”-“Very likely; but do you suppose I would ever give my consent to her union with my nephew ?"_" And why not ? Let me tell you, the Fergusons are a respectable and a worthy
VOL. X. NO, XXXVII.
family.”—“ But their blood shall never mingle with mine."—"Lookye, Tomkins ; you're an unforgiving fellow : your blood would suffer no contamination by the union : and I can tell you this, that whatever animosity you may bear to them, they always speak in the highest terms
Mrs. Ferguson, to this day, says you are the best-hearted man she ever knew.". My uncle's features here assumed a more complacent aspect. “ Answer me one question,” said he. “ Can you deny that she jilted me?"__"I can. You might have had a regard for her, but it does not follow that she was in love with you; and surely she had a right to consult her own happiness by marrying the man of her heart."
-" Humph! well, I care little about that now. I hate animosity as much as any man; and Bob knows it has always been my wish that he should be happy; and if I thought they really wished to renew the acquaintance" I interrupted the conclusion of the sentence by putting into his hand the letter I had just received. He was much agitated while perusing it, and I could see a tear in the corner of his eye, He wiped it away with the back of his hand, and desired me to reach him the writing-apparatus. In a few minutes a letter was written, announcing his wish for a reconciliation, and giving his consent to the marriage. Our hearts were too full to speak. My uncle reached out his hand to his friend. He shook it heartily. “You've acted,” said he,“ like yourself. This is as it should be." I quitted the room to despatch the letter, and in three weeks' time became the husband of the fellmonger's daughter.
Q. Q. Q.
THE FALL OF GRENADA, OR THE MASSACRE OF THE
The rapid descent of the Moorish empire in Grenada may be dated from the Massacre of the Abencerrages in the reign of Boudillin, the son and sharer of the crown with his father Muley Hassan at the close of the 15th century. The Abencerrages, the most faithful, powerful, and brave, of the Moorish factions, being envied by the Zegris and their partisans, the latter secretly persuaded the king that Albin Hamar, an Abencerrage, had been too intimate with his Queen Alfaïma. The monarch immediately joined the Zegris in a scheme of revenge, without enquiry respecting the innocence or guilt of the accused party, and thirty of the Zegris, well armed, having placed themselves in the Court of the Lions, in the Alhambra, agreed to despatch the Abencerrages of the palace, one by one, as they were sent through it by the King on different pretences. Thirty-six Abencerrages were thus destroyed, when a page, who followed the last and witnessed his master's death, ran off and alarmed the other Abencerrages of the palace, and those in the city, who immediately armed themselves, attacked and destroyed two hundred of the Zegris, made the King fly, and set fire to the Alhambra, which was partially burned. Soon afterwards the Abencerrages left the city, and joining the Spaniards became Christians. After their departure, Grenada became tributary to Spain, and the glory of the Moorish empire was no more.
No common woe is their's to-day, for many a knight is dead,
* The Abencerrages were supposed to be descended from Yemen.