Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

more it turned out nothing but disappointment, till one morna ing, when we all were seated round the breakfast-table, he occupying his usual stand at the side table, flourishing a carving knife and fork, and exclaiming, “Tongue, chicken, beef ? Speak, Benzonians! speak, or-for evermore eat only bread and buiter," or some other of his facetious sallies, I observed my brother to be mightily diverted by the perusal of a newly-arrived letter, which, judging by its great warming-pan of a seal, its straggling hand. writing, and its being of the aforenamed winged tribe, was certainly, I thought, an old acquaintance.

“What is papa laughing at ?" exclaimed Helen, springing up from her seat, and gliding round to look over his shoulder. My brother, still laughing irresistibly, warded off her playful attempts to snatch away the letter, which, being a merry one, she had regarded as lawful game. Meanwhile her papa, making a long arm, handed the facetious MS. to the top of the table, desiring that, when read, it inight be passed on to Aunt Mary, whose looks I dare say betrayed her longing desire 10 peruse the contents of an epistle which could thus overcome his remarkable command of countenance, and cause the shoulders of his sedate partner to sha with silent laughter. How heartily I participated in their merriment will be better understood by a literal transcript of the enclosures in question.

The first ran thus :

“MY DEAR REAR-ADMIRAL FITZROCKET,—You remember what you said that I inust apply to you if I wanted promotion. That's what I want now if I could get it, not for myself, but poor Walton. A better fellow never stepped on plank, nor a braver. He has been in fourteen battles, but, as ill-luck would have it, never got wounded in any of them. So I hope you will be so kind as to get him made lieutenant, as soon as possible, and bave him appointed to your own flag-ship. I remain, my dear Rear-Admiral Fitzrocket,

Your sincerely obliged Friend,

“ FREDERIC “P.S.- If you do this kindness now, I promise not to trouble you again when I want a shove up for myself, I am not afraid when that time comes.”

66

The accompanying enclosure from the Admiral himself ran as follows:

“MY DEAR SIR,—The enclosed original will, I have no doubt, divert you, as it has me; but I must beg the favour of your letting me have it again. In the meantime have the goodness to apprize that fine young fellow of yours, that he must despatch his proiegé, without loss of a day, to my address, 45, Street, Square. Let Walton be punctual to the minute-half-past nine, A.M., properly rigged and prepared, to accompany me to the Board of Admiralty, bringing with him all his testimonial papers, &c.; and pray assure my young friend, that I shall by no means consider my promise to him as cancelled by this lift to his friend

though by George! if England has not spent the last shot in her locker, I firmly believe he will one day have a gazette of his own.

“I remain, my dear Sir,
“ With best compliments to your fair Lady,

“ Most faithfully yours,
“ CHRISTOPHER FITZROCKET.

On my returning these two characteristic letters to my brother with a reciprocal smile, I observed him to slip them quietly into his pocket, which I thought so wise in him. What can be niore detrimental to youthful simplicity than to find itself the object of applause ? By engendering conceit and consciousness, it transforms its very nature into an affectation of naïveté ; and, setting aside the graver question of its untruthful tendencies, can anything be more absurd than what one sometimes meets with-an affected original ?

“Fred, my boy,” said his papa, “ do lay down that carving knife and fork you have been brandishing these ten minutes, and come to the table. You see nobody will employ you-not at least in that line. Happily, however, there are other roads to employment and promotion, as appears from a letter I have received from Admiral Fitz-"

-Rocket ?" demanded Fred, darting to his father's side with the speed of lightning. “ Tell me-show me-where's the letter, papa ?”

“ You shall have its contents, Fred my boy, and that is all you need to care about. The Admiral bids me tell you that he will give your friend, whoever he may be-you know best-a helping hand (such a hand as it is too !) if he will present himself at half-past nine, A.M., without loss of a single tick, at his lodgings, as hereafter named

Fred listened up to this point in a state of breathless ecstacy, and then, as if seeking vent for it, seized on poor Helen, who, in hopes of wheedling the letter out of him, was still hanging on her papa, and whirled her about in so relentless a style, that what with laughing and spinning round, she dropped quite exhausted into a chair. He then, after making a show of taking out his mother, which ended in a caress, proceeded to seize on dear quiet Gertrude. It was beautiful to behold how she entered, without resistance, into the spirit of the thing, foating round and round

[ocr errors]

with the graceful boy, till nobody could help thinking of Cupid and Psyche, and wishing Capova had been there to sculpture them. Meanwhile my brother, in alarm at the visible admiration they inspired, kept on exclaiming aloud, “ No waltzing here, girls—no polkaing nor walizing here, as you value my blessing, unless it is with Fred, or myself,

-or perhaps with Uncle Charles.” One would have thought the dear boy had enough of it by this time. No such thing: no sooner had Gertrude slipped away, and I managed to ward off his evident intentions towards my venerable self, than he seized poor bewildered Mr. Walton round the waist, and in defiance of having bis own toes stepped upon every minute, continued to whirl him about till, as he himselfowned, he was “ fairly borne down by weight of metal,” his more ponderous partner protesting all the while that he had “never felt so giddy in his born daysnot even during his first cruise in the Bay of Biscay.” Kind, simple soul! it was curious to see what time and pains it took to awaken him to the agreeable fact; but as soon (io employ an expressive native idiom) as we were able to “insense him into the truth of the matter,"you could see he was oppressed by contending emotions. Poor fellow! first he turned on his youthful benefactor some such look as one could fancifully suppose old Anchises bestowed on Æneas. Then the thoughts of his aged mother, I suppose, came across him, for burying his face in his hands, he gave way to a burst of irrepressible weeping. This last testimony of feeling Fred evidently neither comprehended nor quite relished ; for he left the room abruptly, muttering to himself, he “could not see any occasion for all that."

From this moment it proved a rare treat to watch Fred, fura bishing up his protege against the approaching debut. It left him neither thoughi nor eye for aught beside. He took him immediately to Spateborough to have his hair cut; and, though not able to bestow a newness on the thread bare uniform, he indefatigably polished the anchor-buttons, pipe-clayed an old pair of gloves, and insisted upon an exchange of dirks; Mr. Walton's having, from thirty years' wear and tear, become somewhat shabby. In the meanwhile the good creature, who was the victim of all these zealous ministrations, took it as passively as Septy's favourite old doll—" sans nose, sans eyes, sans every thing”—which bears the popular appellation of “ Brownie,” in virtue of an old piece of cloth pinned tightly around her, and which effigy the little lady cherishes to the neglect of the lovely wax doll sent her by her old and constant friend, Mrs. Witherspray-a creature with reallive feet, and real shoemaker's shoes upon them. Time presses, or I would add a sketch of dear Fred's own departure, which took place a few days after that of his friend. That must be reserved for the next number.

CONVERSATIONS ON ENGLISH CHURCH HISTORY.

(Continued from Vol. X. p. 297.)

“Well, my boys," said Mr. Trevilly, on again meeting out young friends,“ do you remember the subject of our last conversation ?"

“O yes, sir !” exclaimed several voices; we have had many talks about it since."

“ Especially about the wonderful fight between the Britons and their enemies, the Saxons and Picts,” said Charles, " in which the former obtained so great a victory.”

“ A 'fight !'” interrupted Anderson ; “Mr. Trevilly told us about a fright, and a flight, but I don't remember his saying anything about a fight."

“There was a sort of fight, though,” said Edward, “and a victory."

“Won by shouting, instead of shooting,* you will say, I suppose

?said Anderson. “No, I should rather say, won by faith and prayer," replied Edward ; “ the same weapons with which David won his victory over Goliath, the Philistine giant."

“My dear Ned,” said Collings," you speak quite like a book; you certainly ought to be brought up for a monk."

“I only said,” replied Edward, “ what Mr. Trevilly told us in our last conversation, when he talked to us about David, and bade us remember that success in battle did not always depend on mighty armies or good generals, but was dependent on God's will, Who sometimes interfered, and gave victory in answer to the prayers of His faithful servants."

"And where was the victory gained, sir?” interposed Charles.

“It is supposed by Archbishop Usher, who was a very learned writer on such matters, to have been gained in Flintshire, near a town called Mold by the English, and Gaid Cruc by the Welsh and the place where the armies were drawn up has the name of Maes Garman, or Germain's Field, to this day.” “Was there any more fighting at this period ?” asked Charles.

Yes,” said Mr. Trevilly, “the Picts and Scots continued to harass the Britons by constant incursions; and the Britons had been so long subject to the Romans, that they were quite unable to defend themselves."

“And I think our English history tells us,” said Charles, * These conversations being written chiefly for young persons, the author begs older readers to excuse his introduction of quaint old Andrew Fuller's “ witticisms.”

+ See Usher, Britan. Eccles. Antiquit., and Collier's Eccles. Hist. b. 1, $ 45.

;

66

66

" that the Romans were obliged, about this time, to withdraw their soldiers from Britain, in order to defend their empire nearer home."

“They were,” replied Mr. Trevilly ; "and although, before they finally left, they helped the Britons to repair the great barrier cailed Severus' wall, yet, so helpless and cowardly had these once brave islanders become, from long subjection, that they had not courage to defend it. They abandoned the wall and their towns also, and were scattered about the country, and slaughtered like sheep by the enemy."* They sent to Rome for aid, but in vain ; the Romans had now full employment for all their soldiers, in repelling the Huns, Goths, and Vandals. The Picts and Scots continued their depredations until the Britons were reduced to submission; though some of them chose rather to retire to the mountainous part of Wales, and others into Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Cornwall, rather than part with their liberty."

“ Did the Britons preserve their religion during these troubles," asked Edward,“ and remain Christians ?

They did, in name," replied Mr. Trevilly; "but an early English historian, Gildas, gives us a sad picture of the depraved state of morals which prevailed amongst them : they ran into every sort of sin with greediness and impunity.".

Did the good S. Germain ever visit them again," asked Edward, “ to try to do them good.”

“ Yes; the Pelagian heresy broke out again about this time," said Mr. Trevilly, “and S. Germain came to our shores to endeavour a second time to stay its progress.”

“ Did S. Lupus again accompany him ?” said Charles.

“No,” replied Mr. Trevilly; "he had with him this time, Severus, Bishop of Treves, and two other very eminent Christian teachers, Dubricius and Iltutus."

“ Did they succeed in putting a stop to the heresy, and did they gain any more great victories?” asked Charles,

“The Britons do not appear to have been involved in war at S. Germain's second visit,” said Mr. Trevilly; “but Bede tells us of a wonderful work which God enabled him to do as soon as he landed.

“ What was that?" asked two or three voices. “The curing of a young man who had a withered limb,” replied Mr. Trevilly.

“Do tell us all about it, if you please, sir," said Edward.

“There is not much to tell beyond the fact itself,” continued Mr. Trevilly ; " but I will tell it you just in Bede's words. It appears that a person of some influence, called Elafius, when he heard that S. Germain was coming, went to meet him, accompanied with a number of people; then Elafius cast himself at the

* See Collier's Eccles. Hist., b. 1, 46.

« ForrigeFortsett »