Imágenes de página

the great error of writing down a there let it end in its admitted authofalsehood. Men may be a little more rity. Make not a police of a census careless in such matters, but feminine commission, nor let the one interfere nicety is touched to the quick. I re- with or usurp the office of the other. member once an Irishman walking Let a census be content to number the into a drawing-room, and introducing people—a police take crime under its to the lady of the house a tall youth, cognisance. Theundying, ever-seeing, as, “ Give me leave to introduce my and acting arrangement of a police nephew;" then putting his hand aside is one of the most curious phenomena of his mouth, he added, in a whisper of society. For revolutions that apwhich may be truly termed Irish, for it pear to overturn everything, scarcely was quite as loud as the first introduc- touch a well - ordered police; the tion," he's my son.” Could you, hav- excellence of which is, that it' lives ing any bowels of compassion, extort a and moves unseen, unfelt, by the like confession from such an unpro- good—that it is a protector. tected female as Miss Debora? A I remember years ago reading an registration commission might, if en- anecdote showing the perfection of couraged, hereafter ransack her un- the old Parisian police. A gentleman fortunate boxes to find baby-linen. had sojourned in Paris a week or two,

a Is there to be nothing but one rigid when one day he was requested to rule—no charity shown to sex and attend at the police-office. He was age--but the unsparing discovery of surprised when told how he had occuboth on that fatal 30th of March ? pied himself since he had been in Must no female, then, escape to her Paris-what houses he had frequented, lover's arms in male attire--no "lub. what friends visited, what business berly boy" pass for a sweet Anne he had transacted. He was finally Page, that sweet Anne Page fall not asked the home-question, “Are you to the lot of a fool ? Must foibles, a man of courage-can you rely upon frailties, and follies be all registered yourself ?" He thought he might. in damnatory schedules ? Surely Then he was told that there was a there might be a little decent conviv- plot to murder him in his bed that ance, such as would spare the two night—that his own servant was in village ladies, who, being born in the conspiracy with others for that pursame anno Domini, annually visited pose. He was desired to go to bed each other to determine what should as usual, and, if he did not sleep, to be their ages for the ensuing year. appear to sleep, and to fear nothing. Their only comfort will be in bribery In the night he heard his room-door and corruption, which they will be open, a person or persons enter-he thankful is not yet put down, and a knew steps were softly approaching fee will spare what uncharitable census his bed-he fancied the arm uplifted would expose. There may be some- to murder him. His reliance and his thing in attacking crimes and dis- courage failed him not. Under his covering frauds which touch the whole bed, and elsewhere in his room, solcommunity. These are not much har- diers had been secreted. To make boured in homes, but in public-houses, the story short, his servant and the and in shops, which are not homes, accomplices were taken. The census but as having a public character, and which a police quietly makes has an giving public invitation to all to enter object of general safety. It has its them, ought to come under some kind one pursuit. It has its particular of surveillance ; but when the citizen game, and we may well give it its shuts his street-door, let none force an license. By it we sleep safely in our entrance. Let no Asmodeus take off his beds. It does its complicated but roof, and publish the within little defined work silently ; whereas the histories, nor make gimlet-holes in other census is perpetually knocking walls and ceilings. Such doings are at every man's door, to ask impertibut, as at present, a slight exaggera- nent questions. It is a perpetual tion or caricature of a census. Let warning to “ beware the Ides of there be a police, and a good one; March ; " for then it will come and even with much secret scrutiny allowed toss the clothes off your bed at earliest them,-it is for the public safety ; but dawn, lest you should rise and escape;

and you must give an account of all “ Celestial Empire.” She, the femithe beds, and all who slept in them. nine representative of a nation, the And what is all this disturbance for? prized pearl of the Romance of the For no earthly good that any of the Porcelain Empire, the very " Gentilpersecuted can yet see, but all mis- ezza,” the embodied purity of a peotrust the end. Must every one of us ple's best thoughts, the endowed have a ticket and number on his growth of a perfection above nature, back? It is the same thing, if he and for so much worship as humanity his concerns, and all the relations of may, for its improvement in civilisahis life, are down in Busybody's tion, be allowed to set up in the garbook. There be sits in his Centrali- den of imaginary virtues, the very sation Office, with his millions of Goshen where grow plants and flowers, electric wires passing underground, and sweet waters glide unknown to and coming up unseen in every man's working nature, and all courting the house. He means to have his hook enchanting and enchanted beauty. in every man's nose, nay, every man's, .“ L'acqua la terra in suo favor woman's, and child's, and to draw s'inchina.” Not to be tedious with them in when he wills, as a big spi- you in this fancied passion, Eusebius, der does his flies, and perhaps to leave I come to the point I aim at. She is them sucked as dry, suspended in his the emblem of civilisation, and that is million-threaded web. And has be feminine influence. Its ideal has not as many eyes as that ugly crea- beautified that porcelain world, as it ture, and as many ways of spreading will ever beautify every other where out his ubiquitous legs-backward, it felt and maintained. forward, or circular? Oh, this Basy- Yes, Eusebius, civilisation, like body!-he means to have a line in common sense, aptly called motherevery one's mouth, and to draw all wit, comes from the mother. He who, after him as Gulliver did the diminu- as child and boy, loved and revertive fleet. But I say, Eusebius, that, enced for all her purity, truth, and Liliputians as we are in his eyes, it is goodness, a mother, when he becomes hard if we cannot combine, get our man will ever do his part in civilising multitudinous toils round bis legs, and the world. From the first romance of with a long pull, and a strong pull, mother's love groweth every other and a pull altogether, throw him on romance ; for romance is a noble and his back, tie bim down hands and delicate sentiment. To propagate feet, search his pockets for his hooks, this is to propagate civilisation. But and then shoot our sharpest arrows if any lack this reverence, from whatinto the body of this Quintus Flestrin. ever cause, and would palm upon We will not be any more gulled by society, as better than its romance, this huge Gulliver. He is the Great an idle knowledge, a low spirit of cal. Humbug and Deceiver, cajoling silly culation, an accumulation of mere ones into a belief in the marvel of bis facts and figures, trust him not with arithmetic ; that all the commonest the secrets of your breast; all his things of life must be done by his doings tend to selfishness and remystical numbers, or will be done ill; barbarism. A mother to him is but that they must count and think of as poor old Mrs Bounderby ignored. bow many joints, bones, muscles, and For my own part, Eusebius, when I sinews they have in their toes, before see such glib statistical calculators venturing their feet a single step. boasting of their practical knowledge,

What is become of civilisation all I betbink me of the learned dog in this while, Eusebius? This Census, the show, who with perseverance has which was to tell so much, has not acquired the trick of putting his paw thrown light upon the question. Yet, upon letters and numbers, and of perhaps, after all, it is a more simple arithmetising required ages.

Take one than you or I thought it to be. heed to your pocket on such occaI go back to the placidity of the sions; for though you have paid your Chinese lady in the picture. I am admission-ticket, there remains the now gazing on her expressive trust- last acquirement, the last main trick fulness—upon a complexion that, if to be exbibited, the going round the there be many such, justifies the title of company with the hat in his mouth. VOL. LXXVI.-NO. CCCCLXVIII.




UPOx one of the coldest days of ride on the railway is soon over, and February 1853, I left Paris by the a good fire or a brisk walk is a quick Orleans Railway. The weather was and easy remedy. Mine is a different extremely severe, the frozen snow lay For forty years I have never thick in the streets, the asphalt of known warm feet.” the boulevards was slippery as glass, “For forty years ?" I repeated, sledges scoured the Champs Elysées thinking I had misunderstood him. and Bois de Boulogne. An icy wind “Yes, sir, forty years; since the whistled round the train as we quitted winter of 1812-the winter of the the shelter of the station, and I re- Russian campaign." gretted, as I buttoned myself to the " You were in that terrible cam. chin, and shrank into my corner, that paign ?" I inquired, in a tone of the carriage was not full, instead of interest and curiosity. My comhaving but one occupant besides my- panion, previously taciturn, suddenly self.

became communicative. Opposite to me sat a hale man of “All through it, sir,” he replied ; about sixty-five, with a quick brigbt “from the Niemen to the Kremlin, eye, an intelligent, good-humoured and back again. It was my first countenance somewhat weather campaign, and was near being my beaten—and the red rosette of the last. I was in others afterwards ; in Legion of Honour in his button-hole. Germany in 1813, when the combined During the first half-hour he pored over Germans and Russians drove us bea letter, whose contents, judging from , fore them, for want of the brave the animated expression of his phy- fellows we had left in Muscovy's siognomy, interested him strongly. Snows ; in France in 1814, when the He seemed scarcely aware of my Emperor made his gallant struggle presence. At last he put up the against overwhelming forces; and at letter, and then for the first time the closing scene in Flanders : but looked me in the face. I had been not all those three campaigns pat but a few days out of a sick-bed, together, nor, as I believe, all that and was sensitive to the cold, and this century has witnessed, can match doubtless my appearance was chilly the horrors of that dreadful winter in and woebegone enough, for I detected Russia.” a slight approach to a smile at the He paused, and, leaning back in corners of the stranger's mouth. To bis corner, seemed to revolve in his one or two commonplace remarks he mind events of powerful interest long replied courteously but laconically, gone by. I waited a while, in hopes like a man who is neither unsociable he would resume the subject. As he nor averse to conversation, but who did not do so, I asked him to what prefers his own thoughts to that bald arm he belonged when in Russia. talk with which travellers sometimes “I was assistant-surgeon in a weary each other rather than sit regiment of hussars," he answered, silent. So our dialogue soon dropped. " and in my medical capacity I had The cold increased, my feet were be- abundant opportunity to make acnumbed, and I stamped them on the quaintance with the horrors of war. floor of the carriage to revive the cir- On the 7th of September, for instance, culation. My companion observed at the Moskwa-Heavens! what a my proceedings with a comical look, shambles that was! Ah, it was fine as if he thought me a very tender to see such valour on both sidestraveller,

for the Russians fought well — gal“ This carriage must be badly lantly, sir, or where would have been closed," I remarked. “It is bitter the glory of beating them? But Ney! cold to the feet.”

Ney! Oh! he was splendid that day! “For that discomfort I have little His whole countenance gleamed, as pity,” replied the Frenchman. “A he again and again led the bloody charge, exposing himself as freely as most heart-rending book that ever any corporal in the ranks. And yet was printed, and would be acEugene, the Viceroy, with what cused of gross exaggeration. Exaggevigour he hurled his masses against ration, indeed! there was no need to that terrible redoubt! When at last heighten the horrors of the winter of it was his, what a sight was there! 1812. All that frost and famine, lead The ground was not strewn with and steel, could inflict, was then endead; it was heaped, piled with dured ; all the crimes that reckless them. They had been shot down by despair and ruthless cruelty could whole ranks, and there they lay, prompt were then perpetrated.” prostrate, in line as they had stood." “ And how," I asked, “ did you

The surgeon paused. I thought of escape, when so many, doubtless as Byron's beautiful lines, beginning, strong and courageous, and more “Even as they fell, in files they lay;" inured to hardship, miserably perbut I said nothing, for I saw that my ished ? " companion was now fairly started, “ Under Providence, I owed my and needed no spurring.

preservation to the trustiest and most “Monsieur,” he presently resumed, faithful servant ever master had. " all those things have been brought Paul had been several years in the strongly to my mind by the letter hussars was an old soldier, in fact, you saw me just now reading. It is although still a young man ; and at a from an old friend, a captain in 1812, time when all discipline and subordia general now, who went through nation were at an end, when soldiers the campaign, and whom I was so heeded not their officers, officers fortunate as to save from a grave in avoided their generals, and servants those infernal plains where most of and masters were all alike and upon our poor comrades perished. I will a level, Paul proved true as steel. As tell you how it happened. We were if cold and the Cossacks were not talking of the battle of Borodino. enough, hunger was added to our sufSeventy thousand men, it is said, ferings : there was no longer a comwere killed and wounded in that missariat or distribution of rations ;murderous fight. We surgeons, as rations, forsooth !-dead horse was a you may well think, bad our hands luxury I have seen men fight for till full, and still could not suffice for a death, lean meat though it was, for tithe of the sufferers.

It was

the poor brutes were as starved as rough breaking-in for a young hand, their riders. What little there was to as I then was. Such frightful wounds eat in the villages we passed through as were there, of every kind and de- fell to the share of the first comers. scription—from shot, shell, and bullet, Empty larders—often smoking ruins pike and sabre. Well, sir, all the - were all that remained for those misery and suffering I then saw, all who came behind. Well, sir, when that vast amount of human agony things were at the worst, and provenand bloodshed, whose steam, ascend. der at the scarcest, Paul always had ing to Heaven, might well have something for me in bis havresack. brought down God's malediction on One day it would be a bit of bread, his creatures, who could thus destroy on the morrow a handful of grain or and deface each other, was nothing some edible roots, now and then a compared with the horrible misery slice of horse-beef--and how delicious we witnessed on our retreat. I have that seemed, grilled over our smoky read everything that has appeared in scanty fires! There was never enough France concerning that campaign- to satisfy my hunger, but there was Ségur, Labaume, and other writers. always a something-enough to keep Their narratives are shocking enough, body and soul together. Paul, as I but nothing to the reality. They afterwards discovered, husbanded his would have sickened their readers stores, for be well knew that if he gave had they told all they saw. If any- me all at once I should leave nothing, body, who went through the cam- and then I must have fasted for days, paign, could remember and set down and perhaps have fallen from my horse all he witnessed, he would make the for weakness. But think of the cour


age and affection of the poor fellow, excitement of the skirmish warmed himself half-starved, to carry food their blood, and gave them, as it about him day after day, and refrain seemed, fresh hold upon life. In one from devouring the share secretly set of those skirmishes, or rather in a aside for me! There were not many sharp combat, a dear friend of mine, a men in the army, even of general's captain in the same regiment, had his rank, capable of such devotion to the left arm carried off by a cannon-shot. dearest friend they had, for extreme After the affair was over, I came sudmisery had induced a ferocious selfish- denly upon bim, where he lay moanness, which made us more like hyenas ing by the roadside, bis face asby than Christians."

pale, his arm still hanging by the “I should think the cold must have sinews. His horse had either galbeen even worse to endure than hun- loped away, or been taken by the ger," said I, screwing up my chilly fugitives. extremities, which the interest of the "Ah, mon ami!' he cried, when doctor's conversation had almost made he saw me, all is over-I can go no me forget.

further. I shall never see France “It was, sir, harder and more fatal again!' —at least a greater number died of it; “I saw that, like the majority of although, to say the truth, frost and those who received severe wounds in famine there worked hand in hand, that retreat, his moral courage was and with such unity of action, that it subdued, and had given way to dewas often hard to say which was the spair. I was terribly shocked, for I cause of death. But it was a shock- felt how slight was his chance of ing sight, of a morning, to see the escape. I need hardly tell you there poor fellows lying dead round the was very little dressing of wounds bivouac fires. Unable to resist fatigue during that latter part of the retreat ; and the drowsy influence of the cold, most of the surgeons were dead, the they yielded to slumber, and passed hospital-waggons with medicine and from sleep into death. For, there, instruments had been left on the road; sleep was death."

transport for the sick was out of the “But how then," I asked, "did question. I assumed as cheerful a any ever escape from Russia, for all countenance as I could. must have slept at times ? "

“Why, Préville,' I cried, this “I do not believe that any who will not do; we must get you along escaped did sleep, at least not of a somehow. Come! courage, my night, at the bivouac. We used to friend! You shall see France again, rouse each other continually, to pre- in spite of all.' vent our giving way, and then get up "Ah! doctor,' replied he, in piteand walk as briskly as we could, to ous tones, 'it is no use. Here I quicken the sluggish circulation. We shall die. All you can do for me is slept upon the march, in our saddles, to blow my brains out, and save me and, strange as it may seem to you, from the Cossack lances.' even those on foot slept when march- “By this time I had dismounted ing. They marched in groups or and was at his side. The intense clusters, and those in the centre slept, cold had stopped the bleeding of his propped and supported by their com- wound. I saw that there was no panions, and moving their legs me- lack of vitality in him, and that, but chanically. I do not say that it was for this mishap, few would have got a sound, deep sleep, but rather a sort out of the campaign in better plight. of feverish dozing. Such as it was, Even now, his despondency was perhowever, it was better than nothing, baps his greatest danger. I remindand assuredly saved some who would ed him of his wife and child (he had otherwise have sunk. Others, who been married little more than a year, would have given way to weariness and news of the birth of a daughter upon the long monotonous march, were had reached him on our forward kept from utter despair and self-aban- marcb), of his happy home, his old donment only by the repeated harass- mother-of all the ties, in short, that ing attacks of the Cossacks. The bound bim to life. Whilst speaking,

« AnteriorContinuar »