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"I was only five years old," he says, "when Goldsmith took me on his knee one evening whilst he was drinking coffee with my father, and began to play with me, which amiable act I returned, with the ingratitude of a peevish brat, by giving him a very smart slap on the face: it must have been a tingler, for it left the marks of my spiteful paw on his cheek. This infantile outrage was followed by summary justice, and I was locked up by my indignant father in an adjoining room to undergo solitary imprisonment in the dark. Here I began to howl and scream most abominably, which was no bad step towards my liberation, since those who were not inclined to pity me might be likely to set me free for the purpose of abating a nuisance.
"At length a generous friend appeared to extricate me from jeopardy, and that generous friend was no other than the man I had so wantonly molested by assault and battery— it was the tender-hearted Doctor himself, with a lighted candle in his hand and a smile upon his countenance, which was still partially red from the effects of my petulance. I sulked and sobbed as he fondled and soothed, till I began to brighten. Goldsmith seized the propitious moment of returning good-humour, when he put down the candle and began to conjure. He placed three hats, which happened to be in the room, and a shilling under each. The shillings, ho told me, were England, France, and Spain. 'Hey presto cockalorum! ' cried the Doctor, and lo, on uncovering the shillings, which had been dispersed each beneath a separate hat, they were all found congregated under one. I was no politician at five years old, and therefore might not have wondered at the sudden revolution which brought England, France, and Spain all under one crown; but as also I was no conjurer, it amazed me beyond measure. . . . From that time, whenever the Doctor came to visit my father, '\ plucked his gown to share the good man's smile;' a game at romps constantly ensued, and we were always cordial friends and merry playfellows. Our unequal companionship varied somewhat as to sports as I grew older; but it did not last long: my senior playmate died in his forty-fifth year, when I hail attained my eleventh. ... In all the numerous accounts of his virtues and fnibles, his genius and absurdities, his know! edge of nature ami ignorance of the world, his 'compassion for another's woe' was always predominant; and my trivial stOTy of his humouring a froward child weighs but as a feather in the recorded scale of his benevolence."
Think of him reckless, thriftless, vain, if you like—but merciful, gentle, generous, full of love and pity. He passes out of our life, and goes to render his account beyond it. Think of the poor pensioners weeping at his grave; think of the noble spirits that admired and deplored him; think of the righteous pen that wrote his epitaph—and of the wonderful and unanimous response of affection with which the world has paid back the love he gave it. His humour delighting us still: his song fresh ami b'autiful as when first he charmed with it: his words in all our mouths: his very weaknesses beloved and familiar—his benevolent spirit seems still to smile upon us; to do gentle kindnesses: to succour with sweet charity: to soothe, caress, and forgive: to plead with the fortunate for the unhappy and the poor.
His name is the last in the list of those men of humour who have formed the themes of the discourses which you have heard so kindly, t
From ROUNDABOUT PAPERS*
Our last paper of this veracious and roundabout series related to_ a period which can only be i.istorical to a great number of readers of this Magazine. Four I saw at the station to-day with orange-covered bonks in their hands, who can but have known George IV.by books, and statues, and pictures. Elderly gentlemen were in their prime, old men in their middle age, when he reigned over us. His image remains i«n coins; on a picture or two hanging here and there in a Club or oldfashioned dining-room; on horseback, as at Trafalgar Square, for example, where I defy any monarch to look more uncomfortable. He turns up in sundry memoirs and histories w hich may have been published in Mr. Massey 's3 "History"; in the "Buckingham and Grenville Correspondence"; and gentlemen who have accused a certain writer of disloyalty are referred to those volumes to see whether the picture drawn of George is overcharged.
1 "Upon Youth." = Died 1830.
3 William Massey. author of a history of George Ill's reign. Grenville's Memoirs of the Court of George IV had Just been published (1859). Thackeray's lectures on The Four Georges had been delivered about five years before.
* In emulation of Household Words, of which IHckcns had made such a great success in the fifties, The Cornhlll Magazine was founded in 1860 and Thackeray was engaged to edit it. The "Roundabout Papers" w;ere his regular contribution for three years. The Magazine bore an orange cover.
• haron* has paddled him off; he has mingled with the crowded republic of the dead. His effigy smiles from a canvas or two. Breechless lie bestrides his steed in Trafalgar Square. I believe he still wears his robes at Madame Tussaud's"' (Madame herself having quitted Baker Street and life, and found him she modelled t'other side the Stygian stream). On the head of a five-shilling piece we still occasionally come upon him, with St. George, the dragonslayer, on the other side of the coin.t Ah me! did this George slay many dragonsf Was he a brave, heroic champion, and rescuer of virgins? Well! Well! have you and I overcome all the dragons that assail us? come alive and victorious out of all the caverns which we have entered in life, and succoured, at risk of life ami limb, all poor distressed persons in whose naked limbs the dragon Poverty is about to fasten his fangs, whom the dragon Crime is poisoning with his horrible breath, and about to crunch up and devourf O my royal liege! () my gracious prince and warrior! You a champion to fight that monster? Your feeble spear ever pierce that slimy paunch or plated back? See how the flames come gurgling out of his red-hot brazen throat! What a roar! Nearer and nearer he trails, with eyes flaming like the lamps of a railroad engine. How he squeals, rushing out through the darkness of his tunnel! Now he is near. Now he is here. And now—whatf—lance, shield, knight, feathers, horse and all? O horror, horror! Next day, round the monster's cave, there lie a few bones more. You, who wish to keep yours in your skins, be thankful that you are not called upon to go out and fight dragons. Be grateful that they don't sally out and swallow you. Keep a wise distance from their caves, lest you pay too dearly for approaching them. Remember that years passed, and whole districts were ravaged, before the warrior came who was able to cope with the devouring monster. When that knight does make his appearance, with all my heart let us go out and welcome him with our best songs, huzzas, and laurel wreaths, and eagerly recognize his valour and victory. But he comes only seldom. Countless knights were sfain before St. George won the battle. In the battle of life are we all going to try for the honours of championship? If we can do our
4 Ferryman of the river Styx.
& The proprietress of a famous show-place containing wax effigies of various celebrities.
t St. George Is the great Christian hero of the middle ages, and legendary slayer of the dragon (the devil 1. whereby he delivered the virgin Snbrn (the Church); adopted us the patron saint of England.
duty, if we can keep our place pretty honourably through the combat, let us say Laus Deo!* at the end of it, as the firing ceases, and the night falls over the field.
The old were middle-aged, the elderly were in their prime, then, thirty years since, when yon royal George was till fighting the dragon. As for you, my pretty lass, with your saucy hat and golden tresses tumbled in your net, and you, my spruce young gentleman in your mandarin's cap (the young folks at the countryplace where I am staying are so attired), your parents were unknown to each other, and wore short frocks and short jackets, at the date of this five-shilling piece. Only to-day I met a dog-cart crammed with children—children with moustaches and mandarin caps—children with saucy hats and hair-nets—children in short frocks and knickerbockers (surely the prettiest boy's dress that has appeared these hundred years)—children from twenty years of age to six; and father, with mother by his side, driving in front—and on father's countenance I saw that very laugh which I remember perfectly in the time when this crown-piece was coined—in his time, in King George's time, when we were school-boys seated on the same form. The smile was just as broad, as bright, as jolly, as I remember it in the paBt—unforgotten, though not seen or thought of, for how many decades of years, and quite and instantly familiar, though so long out of sight.
Any contemporary of that coin who takes it up and reads the inscription round the laurelled head, "Georgius IV Britanniarum Bex. Fid. Def.i 1823," if he will but look steadily at the round, and utter the proper incantation,} I dare say may conjure back his life there. Look well, my elderly friend, and tell me what you see? First, 1 see a Sultan, with hair, beautiful hair, and a crown of laurels round his head, and his name is Georgius Bex. Fid. Def., and so on. Now the Sultan has disappeared; and what is it that I sec? A boy,— a boy in a jacket. He is at a desk; he has great books before him, Latin and Greek books ami dictionaries. Yes, but behind the great books, which he pretends to read, is a little one. with pictures, which he is really reading. It
6 "Praise God."
7 "King of Britain. Defender of the Faith."
t This word suggests to Thackeray's fancy the oriental terms In which he proceeds to describe the vision. The king is a "Sultan." The conjurer who reviews his own past life sees himself as a school-hoy under the Instruction of a gowned "dervish" : later, as a college youth in cap and gown he Is himself n "dervish." disciplined by an old proctor perhaps ("moollan," judge, priest) : and so on.
is—yes, I can read now—it is the "Heart of Mid Lothian," by the author of "Wavcrley" —or, no, it is "Life in London, or the Adventures of Corinthian Tom, Jeremiah Hawthorn, and their friend Bob Logic," by Pierce Egan; and it has pictures—oh! such funny pictures! As he reads, there comes behind the boy, a man. a dervish, in a black gown, like a woman, and a black square cap, and he has a book in each hand, and he seizes the boy who is reading the picture-book, and lays his head upon one of his books, and smacks it with the other. The boy makes faces, and so that picture disappears.
Now the boy has grown bigger. He has got on a black gown and cap, something like the dervish. He is at a table, with ever so many bottles on it, and fruit, and tobacco; and other young dervishes come in. They seem as if they were singing. To them enters an old moollah; he takes down their names, and orders them all to go to bed. What is this? A carriage, with four beautiful horses all galloping—a man in red is blowing a trumpet. Many young men are on the carriage—one of them is driving the horses. Surely they won't drive into that—f —ah! they have all disappeared. And now I see one of the young men alone. He is walking in a street — a dark street — presently a light comes to a window. There is the shadow of a lady who passes. He stands there till the light goes out. Now he is in a room scribbling on a piece of paper, and kissing a miniature every now and then. There seem to be lines each pretty much of a length. I can read heart, smart, dart; Mary, fairy; Cupid, stupid; true, you; and never mind what more. Bah! it is bosh. Now see, he has got a gown on again, and a wig of white hair on his head, and he is sitting with other dervishes in a great room full of them, and on a throne in the middle is an old Sultan in scarlet, sitting before a desk, and he wears a wig too—and the young man gets up and speaks to him. And now what is here! He is in a room with ever so many children, and the miniature hanging up. Can it be a likeness of that woman who is sitting before that copper urn with a silver vase in her hand, from which she is pouring hot liquor into cupsT Was she ever a fairyf She is as fat as a hippopotamus now. He is sitting on a divan by the fire. He has a paper on his knees. Bead the name. It is the Superfine Review. It inclines to think that Mr. Dickens is not a true gentleman, that Mr. Thackeray is not a true gentleman, and that when the one is pert and the other arch, we, the gentlemen of the Superfine Review, think, and [
think rightly, that we have some cause to be indignant. The great cause why modern humour and modern sentimentalism repel us, is that they are unwarrantably familiar. Now, .Mr. Sterne, the Superfine Review thinks, "was a true sentimentalist, because he was above all things a true gentleman." The flattering inference is obvious; let us be thankful for an elegant moralist watching over us, and learn, if not too old, to imitate his high-bred politeness and catch his unobtrusive grace. If we are unwarrantably familiar, we know who is not. If we repel by pertness, we know who never does. If our language offends, we know whose is always modest. O pity! The vision has disappeared off the silver, the images of youth and the past are vanishing away! We who have lived before railways were made belong to another world. In how many hours could the Prince of Wales drive from Brighton to London, with a light carriage built expressly, and relays of horses longing to gallop the next stage? Do you remember Sir Somebody, the coachman of the Age, who took our half-crown so affably? It was only yesterday; but what a gulf between now and then! Then was the old world. Stage-coaches, more or less swift, riding-horses, pack-horses, highwaymen, knights in armour, Norman invaders, Roman legions, Druids, Ancient Britons painted blue, and so forth—all these belong to the old period. I will concede a halt in the midst of it, and allow that gunpowder and printing tende<l to modernize the world. But your railroad starts the new era, and we of a certain age belong to the new time and the old one. We are of the time of chivalry as well as the Black Prince1 or Sir Walter Manny.2 We are of the age of steam. We have Btepped out of the old world on to "Brunei's" vast deek.s and across the waters ingens patet tellus.* Towards what new continent are we wending? to what new laws, new manners, new politics, vast new expanses of liberties unknown as yet, or only surmised? I used to know a man who had invented a flying-machine. "Sir," he would say, "give me but five hundred pounds, and I will make it. It is so simple of construction that I tremble daily lest some other person should light upon and patent my discovery.'' Perhaps faith was wanting; perhaps the five hundred pounds. He is dead, and somebody else must make the flying-machine. But that will only be a step
1 Thp son of Edward s The steamship "Great
III; hero of Foi- Eastern." designed
tiers, 13.->S. by I. K. Brunei.
2 A soldier of Edward 1S">8.
III. « "A great world looms." forward on the journey already begun since we quitted the old world. There it lies on the other side of yonder embankments. You young folks have never seen it; and Waterloo^ is to you no more than Agincourt,8 and George IY. than Sardanapalus.7 We elderly people have lived in that pre-railroad world, which has passed into limbo and vanished from under us. I tell you it was firm under our feet once, and not long ago. They have raised those railroad embankments up, and shut off the old world that was behind them. Climb up that bank on which the irons are laid, and look to the other side—it is gone. There is no other side. Try and catch yesterday. Where is itf Here is a Times newspaper, dated Monday 26th, and this is Tuesday 27th. Suppose you deny there was such a day as yesterday.
We who lived before railways, aud survive out of the ancient world, are like Father Noah and his family out of the Ark. The children will gather round and say to us patriarchs, '' Tell us, grandpapa, about the old world.'' And we shall mumble our old stories; and wc shall drop off one by one; and there will be fewer and fewer of us, and these very old and feeble. There will be but ten pre-railroadites left; then three—then two—then one—then O! If the hippopotamus had the least sensibility (of which I cannot trace any signs either in bis hide or his face), I think he would go down to the bottom of his tank, and never come up again. Does he not see that he belongs to bygone ages, and that his great hulking barrel of a body is out of place in these times f What has he in common with the brisk young life surrounding him? In the watches of the night, when the keepers are asleep, when the birds are on one leg, when even the little armadillo is quiet, and the monkeys have ceased their chatter,—he, I mean the hippopotamus, and the elephant, and the long-necked giraffe, perhaps may lay their heads together and have a colloquy about the great silent antediluvian world which they remember, where mighty monsters floundered through the ooze, crocodiles basked on the banks, and dragons darted out of the caves and waters before men were made to slay them. We who lived before railroads are antediluvians—we must pass away. We are growing scarcer every day; and old—old—very old relics of the times when George was still fighting the Dragon.
5 Fought 1815. I An Assyrian king:
s Fought 1415. died 626 B. C.
ALFRED. LORD TENNYSON
THE LADY OF SHALOTT*
On either side tho river lie
To many-tower'd Camelot;1
The island of Shalott.
Willows whiten, aspens quiver, 10
Flowing down to Camelot.
The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow-veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd 20
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot;
The Lady of Shalott f
Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly 30
From the river winding clearly,
Down to tower'd Camelot;
Lady of Shalott."
There she weaves by night and day
I The place of Arthur's court.
* This Is, with some variations, essentially the story of Elaine, "the lily maid of Astolat." which Is told at greater length and with more fidelity In the lAyUa of the King. It is Tennyson's earliest venture Into the Arthurian field.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And moving thro' a mirror clear
Winding down to Camelot; 60
Pass onward from Shalott.
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
The Lady of Shalott.
But in her web she still delights
And music, went to Camelot;
The Lady of Shalott.t
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
That sparkled on the yellow field, 80
The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
As he rode down to Camelot;
?The Milky Way.
t In these lines, says Tennyson's son. is to be found the key to the poem. The allegory then, If one be desired. Is not bard to trace
And r.s he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott. W
All in the blue unclouded weather
As he rode down to Camelot;
Moves over still Shalott.
His broad clear brow in sunlight glow M; 1M
As he rode down to Camelot.
Sang Sir Lancelot.
She left the web, she left the loom.
She made three paces thro' the room, 110
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
The Lady of Shalott.
In the stormy east-wind straining.
The pale yellow woods were waning.
The broad stream in his banks complaining, 120
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
The Lady of Shalott.
And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance—
With a glassy countenance Is'
Did she look to Camelot.
The Lady of Shalott.
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right —
The leaves upon her falling light—