« PreviousContinue »
'What proof have you that she came unwillingly?' A letter in her own handwritin'.' 'Will you show me that letter?'
'Yes,' said Hiram; 'I will hold it up afore you. But if you offer to lay a hand on it, I shall prob'ly twist your wicked head off.' up the note, and Garling read it. "What position have you to maintain a wife?' he asked.
consignment cannot be completed until to-morrow. Shall we send part by the Emerald Isle, or keep it all for the Ohio, which sails on Wednesday?'
'Keep it for Wednesday,' answered Garling, without looking round or pausing in his walk. It was wonderful how for twenty years this chill abstracted manner had kept everybody about the House of Lumby and Lumby in awe of him.
'You've got two names, have you?' thought Hiram. "That's a pull, to begin with.' The clerk who had addressed Garling had the air and manner of a gentleman, and the profound respect of his approach implied a high authority in the man he spoke to. At the wide door of the offices, the porter saluted Garling and received no response. On each side of the entrance was a small brass plate bearing the simple inscription, 'Lumby and Lumby.' The name struck a clear note in Hiram's memory. It was a man bearing that name who had lifted him out of the Slough of Despond less than half a year ago. He followed Garling, and no man spoke to him. The cashier had ceased to think of him; and if he noted the footsteps behind him at all, he took them for those of an employé of the House. And Hiram followed Garling so calmly, the clerks supposed that Garling knew of him, and had brought him to the office. Up-stairs and along a corridor, and then through a little door went the cashier; and Hiram pursued leisurely. At the sound of Hiram's entering footsteps, Garling turned. flash of surprise passed over his face and left it calm again. He rang the bell; and a clerk came in response to it.
'Bring a policeman,' said the cashier calmly. The clerk, with a glance at Hiram, retired. 'I am not alarmed,' said Hiram quietly; 'an' now we air here alone, we can have it out together quiet and comfortable; can't we, mister? Very well then. Here's the case as it stands. Your cards air these: You've got the little gell in LITERARY LARCENY. your own hands, an' you're her father. My cards air: That you married in a false name; that you Nor long ago, an expeditious rascal stole a tranlet the wife of your bosom starve to death if it script of the De Consolatione of Boethius, 'the hadn't been for the cherity o' strangers; an' that last of the classics,' from the Vatican, and within you air open to a charge of abduction. Honest a few hours sold it to another library in Rome. folks don't kerry aliases, Mr Garling-Martial or This rapid act of theft and barter was not the Martial-Garling, or what your name is. While you're calling for a policeman, you'd best give work of an ordinary thief, we may be sure. No a wholesale order, an' have enough to take the one ever heard of a burglar ransacking a library; pair of us. I charge you with abduction. If its treasures are not fish for his accommodating you have a right to the little gell, you have to net. There are indeed petty rogues who lighten prove it. You can establish your claim, mister, the railway book-stalls, and for whom the dealer by admitting an illegal marriage.' in second-hand books lies in wait behind the open shelves within reach of every street-lounger's to the professional thief and the 'fence,' but for fingers; but, as a rule, books are caviare alike whom his occupation would be gone.
This was a bold shot; but it hit the very white of Hiram's expectations. A gray hue crept cloudily over the natural colours of Garling's face, and he fixed a deadly glance on Hiram.
'Look as ugly as you can, mister,' said the unwelcome visitor calmly. 'Nature's hand has been bountiful in that direction.-Walk in,
Nothing comes amiss to the soldier when looting is the order of the day. In the general
"That is not the point,' said Hiram, folding up the letter. 'I've got the whip-hand, Mr Martial, an' I'm goin' to exercise my power, Mr Garling. Get up. You don't want Lumby an' Lumby to know your villainies, you hoaryheaded reprobate.' Another shaft discharged at half hap-hazard; but it entered Garling's heart, and Hiram saw it, impassive as he was to look at. High in the confidence of a respectable British house, 'taint wholesome to be foolin' round, marryin' onder false names, an' starvin' wives, an' abductin' gells!'
How much, thought Garling, did the man know? How much was guess-work? He was too dangerous to be trifled with. 'Come to the point,' said Garling. 'What do you want me to do?'
'I want you to come now, without a minute's loss, an' surrender Miss Mary Martial to my care. An' if you delay one minute by the clock, I bring my charge.'
Come with me,' said Garling, rising; and they left the room together.
'What horrible mystery is here?' said the head of the great firm, sitting white and wonderstricken in the next apartment. Every word had reached him. 'Garling under an alias. GARLING!' Incredible! 'Married? Left his wife to starve?' Incredible again. And true, for he himself admitted it.
shillings for its ransom, wrote on the fly-leaf: 'I pray you let this Scripture Book alone, for he hath paid me for it; therefore, I would desire you to let it alone. By me, Henry Topclyffe, souldier under Captain Cromwell; therefore, I pray let it alone, HENRY TOPCLYFFE.'
Better aware of the value of such things was Captain Silas Taylor, who 'garbled' the library of Worcester Cathedral; that is, culled from it whatever he had a mind to appropriate. Among the treasures he carried away was the original grant of King Edgar; which he afterwards offered to sell to King Charles II. for a hundred and twenty pounds; but His Majesty not being inclined to pay the price, the precious document remained in the Captain's possession until, evil days coming upon him, his belongings were seized by his creditors. Then Aubrey tried hard to persuade the prebends of the cathedral to purchase it back; but, says he, 'they cared not for such things; and I believe it hath wrapt herrings by this time.'
During the first hubbub of the Restoration, certain persons made a turbulent entry into the office of the Commissioners of Lands, in Lambeth Palace, and ransacked the records kept there, not a little to their diminution. Half a century later, Archbishop Parker's De Antiquitate Britannica Ecclesiae disappeared from the shelves of the Palace Library, finding its way home again in 1757, as a gift from the Bishop of Durham; an honester acquisition to the archiepiscopal collection than certain manuscripts brought from the collegiate house of the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, under the pretence of examining and collating them, but never returned to their proper abiding-place.
If the cathedral libraries have suffered much from depredators, it is principally by reason of the carelessness or dishonesty of their official custodians. Concerning that of Lincoln, bibliographically famous for the books it does not possess, Edwards writes: "The chief spoliator was so proud of his booty, that he took pains to commemorate the transaction as well as to turn it to profit. Among the choice volumes enumerated in "The Lincoln Nosegay, beynge a brefe table of certain bokes in the posession of Maister Thomas Frognell Dibdin, Clerke, which bokes be to be sold to him who shal give the moste for the same," are Caxton's Dictes and Sayinges of Philosophres, his Chronicles of England, his Cathon, Pynson's New Cronycles of England and of France, the Edinburgh Bible of 1579, and a curious series of Tracts in early-English printing -all part of the collection of Michael Honeywood, Dean of Lincoln in the middle of the seventeenth century, the great restorer of the cathedral library. The depletion of the library was commenced before Master Dibdin's day, the Dean and Chapter having disposed of numbers of old books to raise the wherewithal to purchase more modern
habit of cutting illuminations out of manuscripts, to sell to visitors. This practice was also in vogue at the Leicester Free Library, where a valuable Arabic manuscript, a manuscript Latin Bible, and a copy of Purchas's Voyages were bartered away piecemeal.
'What matter a few dirty black-letter leaves picked out of a volume of miscellaneous trashleaves which the owner never knew he had, and cannot miss-which he would not know the value of, had you told him of them?' is the consciencesalving question the author of The Book-hunter ascribes to mutilating biblioklepts; as though they confined their operations to robbing ignorant and non-appreciative book-owners, which is by no means the case. Aymon cut fifteen leaves out of Charles the Bold's famous Bible of St Denis, two of which were afterwards recovered, the other thirteen figuring among the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum. Vespasiano, librarian to Duke Frederick of Urbino, was not providing against imaginary dangers in laying it down that a librarian 'must preserve the books from damp and vermin, as well as from the hands of trifling, ignorant, dirty, and tasteless persons. To those of authority and learning, he ought himself to exhibit the books with all facility; courteously explaining their beauty and remarkable characteristics, the handwriting and miniatures, but observant that such abstract no leaves.'
Men of learning might well come under the Italian librarian's suspicion, or bibliomaniacs have been terribly belied. Aubrey accuses Dr Thornhim as he lay dying. Pinelli was credited with dyke of filching Camden's Autobiography from obtaining many of his most valued literary curiosities by the skilful use his fingers. Monsignor Pamphilio was detected by Du Monstier slipping that collector's cherished copy of the London edition of L'Histoire du Concile de Trente under his robe; whereupon the angry the stolen book fell at his feet, to be picked up painter seizing hold of the thief, shook him until by its owner, ere he showed the future pope his way out in a very summary and ignoble fashion. More, Bishop of Ely, was charged with enriching his collection of books by plundering the libraries of the clergy of his diocese, paying some with more modern works, some with serIt was a mons, and some in no way at all. friend of the prelate who, being caught by a lock and key, explained that the Bishop of Ely visitor in the act of putting a rare volume under was coming to dine with him that day. When Sir Robert South wrote to Sir Robert Cotton to appoint a meeting between him and the founder of Oxford's famous library, he thought it necessary to caution his friend not to leave any valuable books of portable dimensions lying about within Sir Thomas Bodley's reach. Under the pretext of verifying certain statements of Camden, Cotton got possession of sundry public papers, and then successfully resisted all the efforts of their proper custodians to obtain their return. Remembering this, when Agarde, the keeper of
the keeper of His Majesty's Papers and Records wrote Sir Ralph Winwood that Cotton would be sure to seize upon all the dead official's papers, if not anticipated by a prohibitory warrant.
Cotton's aptitude for appropriating state documents was shared by many a man of note and name. In James I.'s reign, Lord Carew borrowed four books of Irish records from the State Paper Office, and returned but three; and Lord Suffolk held fast to two boxes full of important documents. Milton not only helped himself to the records at Whitehall, but allowed Bradshaw, Thurloe, and others to do the same so freely, that upon Raymond entering upon his duties at the Restoration, he reported that many books, papers, treatises, and records were missing, while none of the state papers of the Commonwealth were to be found. Sir Samuel Morland informed a certain great minister that John Thurloe had four great chests full of papers in his possession; but the minister delayed issuing an order for their seizure, for reasons to be judged; and then Thurloe had time to burn them that would have hanged a great many, it is thought, if they had been suffered to speak; and he did certainly burn them all except some principal ones culled out by himself.' A warrant was issued when too late, giving Raymond authority to seize any state papers wherever he could find them. Lord Gerard's Life-guards brought some to light when they attached Bradshaw's goods; but the greater portion of the lost property was beyond recovery. In later days, Lord Shelburne, Lord Egremont, and General Conway, plundered the State Paper Office of various volumes, foreign papers, and the records of Frobisher's Voyages; and Henry VIII.'s papers were appropriated by Lords Cherbury and
An essayist of the last century did not scruple to aver that if the libraries and cabinets of collectors were stripped of their borrowed ornaments, many of them would have nothing to show but empty drawers and bare shelves. He professed to know a literary virtuoso who piqued himself upon his collection of scarce editions and original manuscripts, most of which he had purloined from the libraries of others. He was always borrowing books of acquaintances with a resolution never to return them; sending in a great hurry for a particular edition, which he wanted to consult for a moment; but when its return was solicited, he was not at home; or he had lent the book to somebody else; or he could not lay his hand upon it just then; or he had lost it; or he had himself already delivered it to the owner. Sometimes he contented himself with stealing one volume of a set, knowing where to procure the rest for a trifle. After his death, his library was sold by auction, and many of his defrauded friends had the pleasure of buying their own property back again at an exorbitant price.
A little later on, a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine commenting on Gough's insinuations against the honesty of Rawlinson and Umfreville, says: "One might point out enough light-fingered antiquarians of the present age to render such a charge extremely probable against earlier ones.' We would hope that the bibliophiles of our own time are not equally oblivious of the distinction between mine and thine; but one who should
know them well deposes: Some collectors have a propensity to obtain articles without value given for them-a culmination of a sort of lax morality apt to grow out of the habits and traditions of the class. Your true collector considers himself a finder, a discoverer, rather than a purchaser; and it is the essence of his skill to find value in those things which in the eye of the ordinary possessor are really worthless. From estimating them at little value, paying little for them, the steps are rather too short to estimating them at nothing, and paying nothing for them.'
Possibly, it is only scandal after all. If it be a true bill, the over-fond lovers of rarities of the press have been lucky in not being brought to book for their knaveries. Don Vincente, the Barcelonese priest, did indeed pay the penalty; but he was a man of many murders, as well as a man of many books; it being his way to sell a rare volume, and regain it again by putting a dagger in the purchaser's heart. Outbidden in a competition for a copy of Ordinacions per los Gloriosos Reys de Aragon, he strangled the buyer in his own shop three days afterwards, and by adding arson to murder, prevented his crime being even suspected. It had been plain to the authorities for some time that the dagger-slain men whose bodies were found in river, street, and ditch, had not come to their deaths accidentally; hence, after this additional case of strangling, the police set about searching every house in the city, and when they lighted upon the Ordinacions in Don Vincente's possession, their quest was ended. He at once confessed everything, and was duly arrested and arraigned. At the trial, his counsel argued that the confession was false, and that his client had got his books honestly; meeting the objection that one of them, printed in 1482 by Lambert Palmart, being unique, must have been stolen from a certain library, by proving that there was a copy in the Louvre; whereupon the accused exclaimed that he was a miserable man. 'It is never too late to repent,' said the Alcalde, thinking the priest had come to a proper sense of his crime; a belief quickly dispelled by the incorrigible bibliomaniac's reply: 'Ah, Signor Alcalde, my error was great indeed; my copy was not unique!'
The powers that be are privileged to despoil private individuals in the public interest; so we must not say the Ptolemies practised book-stealing by wholesale, when they compelled passengers on board vessels touching at Alexandria, to surrender their literary belongings for the enrichment of that city's library. At anyrate, their intentions were more honourable than those of the Spanish and Italian monks who overran Bohemia after the Thirty Years' War, and who were commissioned to enter the houses of heretics and carry away every Hussite book they could find; a commission so thoroughly executed, that one of them was able to boast that he had seized and destroyed sixty thousand volumes. How many priceless examples of Bohemia's ancient literature thus perished, none can tell. The destruction then wrought made any relic of it so precious, that the directors of the National Museum at Prague were much elated by the receipt, in 1813, of a manuscript of four pages, with a note from the anonymous
donor, stating that it had been discovered by to be a remarkable career from being cut him in the archives of the house he served; short on the threshold by an unexpected and and knowing it would be destroyed if its owner carelessly-driven van. The incident was over became aware of its existence, he had sent it in a few seconds, and the boy was restored to to the Museum, to secure its preservation. It the arms of the housekeeper, who promptly proved to be The Judgment of Libussa, a poem spanked him, and drove him sobbing up-stairs, of the eighth century, and the most ancient relic and then turned to thank me. That was how of Slavonic literature extant. It was afterwards I came to know my housekeeper. ascertained that the patriotic sender was Hovar, About five feet six in height, this woman, steward to Count Colloredo Mansfeld, at Zelena clothed in black bombazine, resembled an exaggeHora, who deserves to be remembered as the rated extinguisher in shape and colour. She had perpetrator of a most praiseworthy theft. a fair circumference at the hem of her dress, a smaller one at the waist, a still more restricted circle at the shoulders, and a regular little knob of faded black ribbon and lace at the top of her head. The face under the cap was corrugated with conflicting emotions: joy at the escape of the child, anger at his having run into danger, and gratitude to me for saving him. It was difficult to say which feeling was uppermost, until the housekeeper spoke.
'Indeed, sir,' she said, with a strong, very strong, Cockney accent, if it 'adn't been for you, 'e'd 'ave been run over; an' run over 'e will be, as sure as ever I'm a-standin' 'ere, one o' these days. Them boys, they never looks which way they're a-going; an' it's a marvel to me as many more on em than is isn't run over wi' them vans a-careerin' about the place in that shameful way. I've no patience wi' them.' Then the bombazine extinguisher turned and disappeared at the far end of a dusty passage, where was a staircase leading to the chambers, and dissolved in the murky gloom of the corridor, as if she were but a pilgrim shadow,' instead of a very solid housekeeper.
ALONG the Strand, a living stream of human beings is for ever pouring. Of all the many streets with which I am acquainted, I know none which is so full of never-ceasing vitality as that leading from Charing Cross to Fleet Street. The tide of human life in this thoroughfare ebbs and flows, but it never runs out altogether. In most streets there is a period during every fourand-twenty hours when nature seems dead,' and not a soul is to be seen; but not so in the Strand. There are always people moving along sufficient to show that it is an active human watercourse, as little likely as its neighbour the Thames to be drained of its stream.
North and south of the Strand run, at right angles to the parent river, so to speak, numerous small rivulets, which in their sluggish quiet, their dull demureness, their contrast in these respects to the main thoroughfare, may be likened to the sleepy back-waters or the tame little tributaries of a great tidal way on which sea-going ships are borne. And as men tired of a long day's rowing, turn their boats up back-waters and tributaries, and pitch their tents on the shore, 'far from the madding crowd,' so on each side of these drowsy streets are encampments of men who are daily factors in the turbulent tide of London life. Here, in short, are to be found in abundance chambers and the class of men who live therein; and in this region flourishes also that unique specimen of womankind the Housekeeper, the Platonic squaw in the social Indian's wigwam. What my housekeeper-that is to say, the good woman whose grandson I rescued one bitter morning in January from being run over by a Pickford's van in Bedford Street, Strand-would say to being called a 'squaw,' I hardly dare to conceive; so I will not attempt to imagine her feelings under such circumstances, but will describe her person as she appeared when first I saw her.
The little boy-the one who nearly fell a victim to the van was standing on the great square doorstep of a house consisting entirely of chambers. He was going off to school, as the slate under his arm bore evidence; and an elderly female was on her knees adjusting his comforter round his neck, and rubbing his face with a whity-brown handkerchief. The operation over, the elderly female gave the boy a good loud smacking kiss on the cheek and a pat on the back, and so started him off; and a moment after, I had seized him, and, as I have inti
Shortly after this-my first-interview with the housekeeper, I became acquainted with the interior of the house wherein she lived, through a friend of mine taking chambers there; and in time I grew quite intimate with her. In the course of many talks I had with her, I discovered that the housekeeper was, in her way, a curiosity; a sort of crystallised Cockney, whose mind, instead of being widened' by the surrounding influence of the thoughts which shake mankind' affecting all great cities-London particularlyhad become fossilised' by the conditions under which she lived; stifled by dusters, bounded by brooms, and circumscribed by the very narrow circle within which the home wants of half-adozen Bohemian bachelors are contained. Her ideas were limited to bed-making, breakfast-preparing, and tea-finding for 'her gentlemen,' as she called the lodgers. Her sympathies were confined to the welfare or otherwise of these unconscious objects of her solicitude; her affections were concentrated on her only unmarried daughter, a young woman of somewhat flighty disposition; on her little grandson Tommy, who seemed to prefer living with grandma to living with his parents; and, in a mild way, on her husband, a gentleman whose region seemed to be the coal-cellar.
The last-named object of the housekeeper's interest was frequently alluded to by her in a half-contemptuous way as that man.' He was described as being no good whatever, and certainly no ornament.' He was said to be 'past work,' and a great sufferer from wind round
infirmities were mentioned, his wife would inform me, with proud satisfaction in her tone, that there was one thing about Wentletrap with which she had reason to be gratified, and that was, that she had made him keep up his 'club,' although he had long since given up regular work, so that, 'come what might, she would 'ave twenty pound to bury 'im with.' This interesting fact was told me several times, on occasions when the wind round the heart was unusually bad.
The housekeeper is entirely of the town, and knows nothing of country. She has never seen the sea, though she once thought of going to Margate by boat. Her ideas of rural scenery are gathered from Kennington and Peckham Rye, to both of which places she has, to my personal knowledge, made journeys at very long intervals, arrayed in a violet merino dress trimmed with blue bows, a black velvet jacket, a pair of one of the gentlemen's cast-off dogskin gloves, and a chip-straw bonnet adorned with a bunch of cherries. These trips have been planned with infinite pains, and carried out with indomitable perseverance; and they have resulted on each occasion in a bunch of hot-stalked drooping flowers-in which 'oldman' and sweet-william have predominated-and a violent headache.
The duties of the housekeeper are performed with rigorous punctuality and praiseworthy completeness. The nature of those six gentlemen whom she serves demands these characteristics in their somewhat aged landlady, and I can testify to the faithful way in which she serves them.
Her pleasures are few. The annual 'show' of the Lord Mayor, as it moves along the Strand to Westminster, is the principal excitement of the year; and this, with an occasional visit to the pit of a theatre-the Adelphi, which once boasted of Toole and Paul Bedford, for choice-constitutes pretty nearly all that the housekeeper enjoys of amusement. But even theatres are among those things which, owing to her somewhat weak constitution, she is not able often to indulge in. She one day told me that she was not like other people; she wished she was; but she had much to contend with in being burdened with an imperfect digestion, which interfered greatly with her pleasures in life. For instance, she could not go properly to theatres; and upon my asking why she was not able to go to such places with as great propriety as the rest of the world, the housekeeper caught up her apron by the hem, along which she drew the thumb and forefinger of her right hand as she answered, slowly and emphatically: Because I can't eat oranges like other people. I'm very fond o' them; but they lay so cold inside!'
If the housekeeper's pleasures are few, her pains are many. What with a 'crick' in the back, a stitch' in the side, 'spasms' in the chest, shooting-pains' in the head, she is hardly ever free from one or more of the ills that flesh is heir to. But with all these afflictions, the victim is, as she has told me herself, the soberest of women that ever stepped. She does not permit her ailments to drive her to alcohol. She is not like that dreadful woman who looks after the chambers over the way, where the gentlemen cannot call their liquor their own, and where they are fortunate if they find any in their sideboards. She don't do such things.
She don't boast of her abstinence. O dear, no! It is inclination, as much as anything else, which makes her abstain. She 'ardly knows one 'sperrit' from another, and she "ates 'em all.'
Mrs Wentletrap dearly loves a gossip. If my friend is not at home when I call, down the stairs at the sound of my knock, from her own suite of apartments under the slates, comes the housekeeper, ostensibly to receive any message, but really to tell me how Carry, her daughter, is going to be married; how Tommy, her grandson, will go and play with a 'rabble o' boys' on Charing Cross Bridge; how Mr Wentletrap could not get the scuttle higher than the second floor this afternoon 'because o' the wind ;' or, far above all these minor matters, how her own 'cricks,' 'stitches,' and 'spasms' have worrited' her of late.
She honours me with her confidence; and I am sure I ought to have felt very proud when one day I was actually invited to the housekeeper's attic, there to have a cup of tea. While I was resting myself, Mrs Wentletrap began to talk of her early life. I confess I did not pay much attention to the incidents which she was relating, until, whisking a cloth from off an immense glass shade under which any number of dingy stuffed humming-birds dolefully spread their dusty wings, she suddenly said: An' that I 'ave seen better days, I know you will believe when you look at them!' Willing to accept the testimony of the birds-or rather, unwilling to doubt the word of the housekeeper-I assented to the probable former existence of the 'better days; and then the housekeeper sat down on a chair and, looking me earnestly in the face, said: 'I fear, sir, I'm not long for this world. Do you know, I've actually got a new pain! Can you tell me what it means? It's a guzzling!'
'A what?' said I, almost alarmed. 'A guzzling, sir; there's no doubt about it; an' I think it means mischief.' 'Where is it?' I asked.
'Ah! there's where it is, sir; I can't quite say where it is; but all I know is, that it's laid 'old o' the in'ards, an' there it'll stop.'
And so ended my last confidential conversation with the worthy housekeeper.
SECRETS OF SUCCESS. DEMOSTHENES, when trying to encourage the Athenians in the defence of their country, speaking of Philip, said: "And again, should anything happen to him; should Fortune, which still takes better care of us than we of ourselves, be good enough to accomplish this; observe, that being on the spot, you would step in while things were in confusion, and manage them as you pleased; but as you now are, though occasion offered Amphipolis, you would not be in a position to accept it, with neither forces nor counsels at hand.' His translator adds: Important advice this to men in all relations of life; good luck is for those who are in a position to avail themselves of it.'
If we accept this advice, we find the theory of waiting our turn, or sitting still till Fortune shall throw the prize into our lap, a mistake. We hear men exclaim: 'Well, I can't help it.