Page images

that of having arms on my person when I chanced to approach that of my sovereign."

"Ye are right, my Lord, to acknowledge nothing," said Sir Mungo. "We have an old proverb,- Confess, and so forth. And indeed, as to the weapons, his Majesty has a special ill will at all arms whatsoever, and more especially pistols ; but, as I said, there is an end of that matter. I wish you as well through the next, which is altogether unlikely."

"Surely, Sir Mungo," answered Nigel," you yourself might say something in my favour concerning the affair in the Park. None knows better than you that I was at that moment urged by wrongs of the most heinous nature, offered to me by Lord Dalgarno, many of which were reported to me by yourself, much to the inflammation of my passion."


[ocr errors]

"Alack-a-day!- Alack-a-day!" replied Sir Mungo, "I remember but too well how much your choler was inflamed, in spite of the various remonstrances which I made to you respecting the sacred nature of the place. Alas! alas! you cannot say you leaped into the mire for lack of warning."

"I see, Sir Mungo, you are determined to remember nothing which can do me service," said Nigel.


Blithely would I do ye service," said the Knight; " and the best whilk I can think of is, to tell you the process of the punishment to the whilk you will be indubitably subjected, I having had the good fortune to behold it performed in the Queen's time, on a chield that had written a pasquinadoe. I was then in my Lord Gray's train, who lay leaguer here, and being always covetous of pleasing and profitable sights, I could not dispense with being present on the occasion."

"I should be surprised, indeed," said Lord Glenvarloch, “if you had so far put restraint upon your benevolence, as to stay away from such an exhibition."


"Hey! was your Lordship praying me to be present at your own execution ?" answered the Knight. "Troth, my Lord, it will be a painful sight to a friend, but I will rather punish myself than baulk you. It is a pretty pageant, in the main a very pretty pageant. The fallow came on with such a bold face, it was a pleasure to look on him. He was dressed all in white, to signify harmlessness and innocence. The thing was done on a scaffold at Paul's Cross - most likely yours will be at Charing. There were the Sheriff's and the Marshal's men, and what not the executioner, with his cleaver and mallet, and his man, with a pan of hot charcoal, and the irons for cautery. He was a dexterous fallow that Derrick. This man Gregory is not fit to jipper a joint with him; it might be worth your Lordship's while to have the loon sent to a barber-surgeon's, to learn some needful scantling of anatomy

it may be for the benefit of yourself and other unhappy sufferers, and also a kindness to Gregory."

"I will not take the trouble," said Nigel. "If the laws will demand my hand, the executioner may get it off as he best can. If the King leaves it where it is, it may chance to do him better service."

"Vara noble-vara grand, indeed, my Lord," said Sir Mungo; "it is pleasant to see a brave man suffer. This fallow whom I spoke of this Tubbs, or Stubbes, or whatever the plebeian was called, came forward as bold as an emperor, and said to the people, "Good friends, I come to leave here the hand of a true Englishman,' and clapped it on the dressing-block with as much ease as if he had laid it on his sweetheart's shoulder; whereupon Derrick the hangman, adjusting, d'ye mind me, the edge of his cleaver on the very joint, hit it with the mallet with such force, that the hand flew off as far from the owner as a gauntlet which the challenger casts down in the tilt-yard. Well, Sir, Stubbes, or Tubbs, lost no whit of countenance, until the fallow clapped the hissing-hot iron on his raw stump. My Lord, it fizzed like a rasher of bacon, and the fallow set up an elritch screech, which made some think his courage was abated; but not a whit, for he plucked off his hat with his left hand, and waved it, crying, God save the Queen, and confound all evil counsellors !' The people gave him three cheers, which he deserved for his stout heart; and, truly, I hope to see your Lordship suffer with the same magnanimity.'

"" I thank you, Sir Mungo," said Nigel, who had not been able to forbear some natural feelings of an unpleasant nature during this lively detail, - "I have no doubt the exhibition will be a very engaging one to you and the other spectators, whatsoever it may prove to the party principally concerned."

"Vara engaging," answered Sir Mungo, "vara interestingvara interesting indeed, though not altogether so much so as an execution for high-treason. I saw Digby, the Winters, Fawkes, and the rest of the gunpowder-gang, suffer for that treason, whilk was a vara grand spectacle, as well in regard to their sufferings, as to their constancy in enduring."

"I am the more obliged to your goodness, Sir Mungo," replied Nigel," that has induced you, although you have lost the sight, to congratulate me on my escape from the hazard of making the same edifying appearance.


"As you say, my Lord," answered Sir Mungo, "the loss is chiefly in appearance. Nature has been very bountiful to us, and has given duplicates of some organs, that we may endure the loss of one of them, should some such circumstance chance in our pilgrimage. See my poor dexter, abridged to one thumb, one finger, and a stump,by the blow of my adversary's weapon, however, and not by any carnificial knife. Weel, Sir, this poor maimed hand doth me, in some sort, as much service as ever; and, admit yours to be taken off by the wrist, you have still your left hand for your service, and are better off than the little Dutch dwarf here about town, who threads a needle, limns, writes, and tosses a pike, merely by means of his feet, without ever a hand to help him.'

We cannot pass over in neglect that simple constructor of horologes, Master David Ramsay, and his two blythe and stout apprentices Frank Tunstall and Jenkin Vincent, or N 3


Jin Vin, as he was familiarly called. The importance of the London apprentices has miserably declined within these last two centuries, and at length they have ceased to exist altogether as a separate class of citizens: but in the days of Charles I. they still formed a distinct body, for we find them petitioning Parliament for a redress of grievances. The author gives the following entertaining account of the occupations of Master Ramsay's two apprentices:

Such were, in natural qualities and public estimation, the two youths, who, in a fine April day, having first rendered their dutiful service and attendance on the table of their master and his daughter, at their dinner at one o'clock - Such, O ye lads of London, was the severe discipline undergone by your predecessors and having regaled themselves upon the fragments, in company with two female domestics, one a cook, and maid of all work, the other called Mistress Margaret's maid, now relievedtheir master in the duty of the outward shop; and, agreeable to the established custom, were soliciting, by their entreaties and recommendations of their master's manufacture, the attention and encouragement of the passengers.

[ocr errors]

f • In this species of service it may be easily supposed that Jenkin Vincent left his more reserved and bashful comrade far in the back-ground. The latter could only articulate with difficulty, and as an act of duty which he was rather ashamed of discharging, the established words of form "What d'ye lack? What d'ye lack? Clocks watches barnacles?. What d'ye lack ? Watches - clocks-barnacles? What d'ye lack, Sir? What d'ye lack, madam? — barnacles, watches, clocks ?"

But this dull and dry iteration, however varied by diversity of verbal arrangement, sounded flat when mingled with the rich and recommendatory oratory of the bold-faced, deep-mouthed, and ready witted Jenkin Vincent. "What d'ye lack, noble sir?. what d'ye lack, beauteous madam ?" he said, in a tone at once bold and soothing, which often was so applied as both to gratify the persons addressed, and to excite a smile from other hearers. "God bless your reverence," to a beneficed clergyman; "the Greek and Hebrew have blinded your reverence's eyes - Buy a pair of David Ramsay's barnacles? The King, God bless his sacred Majesty, never reads Hebrew or Greek without them."

"Are you well avised of that ?" said a fat parson from the Vale of Evesham. 66 Nay, if the Head of the Church wears them, God. bless his Sacred Majesty, I will try what they can do for me; for I have not been able to distinguish one Hebrew letter from another, since I cannot remember the time when I had a bad fever. Chuse me a pair of his most Sacred Majesty's own wearing, my good youth."

"This is a pair, and please your reverence, said Jenkins, producing a pair of spectacles which he touched with an air of great deference and respect," which his most blessed Majesty placed

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

this day three weeks on his own blessed nose, and would have kept them for his own sacred use, but that the setting being, as your reverence sees, of the purest jet, was, as his Sacred Majesty was pleased to say, fitter for a bishop than for a secular prince." His Sacred Majesty the King," said the worthy divine, "was ever a very Daniel in his judgment; give me the barnacles, my good youth, and who can say what nose they may bestride in two years hence. Our reverend brother of Gloucester waxes in years." He then pulled out his purse, paid for the spectacles, and left the shop with even a more important step than that which had paused to enter it.

For shame," said Tunstall to his companion; "these glasses will never suit one of his years."

"You are a fool, Frank," said Vincent in reply; "had the good doctor wished glasses to read with, he would have tried them before buying. He does not want to look through them himself, and these will serve the purpose of being looked at by other folks, as well as the best magnifiers in the shop. What d'ye lack?" he cried, resuming his solicitations. "Mirrors for your toilette, my pretty madam; your head-gear is something awry-pity, since it is so well fancied." The woman stopped and bought a mirror. "What d'ye lack? -a watch, Master Serjeant a watch that will go as steady and true as your own eloquence?"

"Hold your peace, sir," answered the Knight of the Coif, who was disturbed by Vin's address whilst in deep consultation with an eminent attorney; "hold your peace! You are the loudest-tongued varlet betwixt the Devil's Tavern and Guildhall."

""A watch," reiterated the undaunted Jenkin, "that shall not lose thirteen minutes in a thirteen years' law-suit. He's out of hearing A watch with four wheels and a bar-movement watch that shall tell you, Master Poet, how long the patience of the audience will endure your next piece at the Black Bull." The bard laughed, and fumbled in the pocket of his slops till he chased into a corner, and fairly caught, a small piece of coin.

“Here is a tester to cherish thy wit, good boy," he said. "Gramercy," said Vin; "at the next play of yours I will bring down a set of roaring boys that shall make all the critics in the pit, and the gallants on the stage, civil, or else the curtain shall smoke for it." to take the poor


"Now, that I call mean," said Tunstall, rhymer's money, who has so little left behind."'

[ocr errors]

It would be unpardonable if we omitted to speak of the sanctuary of Alsatia, as the district of Whitefriars, situated on the banks of the Thames immediately behind the Temple, was formerly called. To this place all the felons and vagabonds, who were anxious to avoid the clutches of justice, were accustomed to resort; and, forming themselves into a sort of warlike commonwealth, they were enabled to enjoy an immunity of person from the usual process of law: yielding only to the authority of a warrant from the Council, backed by a score of

N 4


halberts. To this vile receptacle of crime and vice, Lord Glenvarloch was compelled to fly in order to avoid, for a time, the penalties due to his imprudent conduct. We have in consequence some masterly sketches of the Alsatians; of Duke Hildebrod, the sovereign of the territory, and his council; and of one Master Trapbois, an antient usurer, and his daughter Mistress Martha Trapbois. Both the latter characters are in the writer's best style: though in that of the usurer, tottering on the verge of the grave, yet clinging with childish fondness to his beloved gold, and offering in his dotage to perform the most servile offices, there is something very shocking.

In his account of Alsatia, and its most pernicious knaves,' it struck us that the author might probably be under some obligations to Shadwell's "Squire of Alsatia:" but, on looking into that play, we find that it can have supplied him with very few ideas beyond a general notion of the abandoned and tumultuous manners of the inhabitants. It would perhaps be unfair, at this time of day, to accuse the novelist of not being able to invent a new species of the Miles Gloriosus, a charge from which Terence was obliged to exculpate himself: but, otherwise, we should certainly say that the original of the gallant Captain Colepepper is to be found in Shadwell's Captain Hackum. It is observable also that a clergyman forms one of the dramatis persona in the " Squire of Alsatia," and that the Templars fill very prominent parts in the per


The local antiquities of The Fortunes of Nigel' are curious and correct, and to those who are acquainted with the geography of the metropolis, highly interesting. We have accurate descriptions of the Strand, Whitehall, and St. James's Park, as they appeared at that time: but, as plans and views of those places are extant, this cannot have been a very difficult task.

Altogether, we think that the present work will be found more entertaining and less interesting (the distinction will be understood by every one who has read the volumes) than any of the former productions of this celebrated writer. As a connected tale, it is still more unconnected and imperfect than any of its predecessors: but in the excellence of its individual scenes it far surpasses many of them. We predict that it will be rather a favorite with the old than with the young; with the admirers of Gil Blas and Tom Jones, rather than the worshippers of Werter and The Man of Feeling. The sentimental story of the Lady Hermione, which is introduced as an episode, is unworthy of the author.


« PreviousContinue »