« AnteriorContinuar »
Her weariness was great, and soon
The snow-storm darken'd on the moon,
And the white sleet was drifting fast
Before the pitiless northern blast.
She was ill form'd to brave its power,
For such an end, at such an hour—
An hour of wintry rigours full,
Too hard for one so beautiful,
So soft and fragile, to sustain.
Without her load of menu) pain:
And she had sunk but for the charm
Of love maternal on her arm—
Her babe, whose safety made her dare
What else her frame might never bear.
Shivering, worn out with weariness,
She reach'd his hall, where her distress
O'ercame her strength—she struck the gate,
And fell to earth inanimate 1
The gate unclosed, a figure stood
Holdmg it wide,—his air was rude,
To chide whoever came so late
Intruding at that lordly gale:
He questional—all was silent there—
Some that obdurate are
To words of pity, honour, sense, Pleading with all their influence, Yield if the scene of misery Burst sudden on the startled eye— He look'd—he saw the spoil his own— Her whom he 'd loved, by him undone; He heard an infant's little cry,— Twas his—" I am a murderer, I 1" Whisper'd his heart, and safe within He bore them from the tempest's din. And his repentant hand supplied The succour he had once denied. The mother struggled long, and lay Love's victim in a young decay— A tranquil ruin, in that dress Of more than human loveliness, Sometimes put on ere time be past To shew the loveliest may be last. She died, and dying she forgave Him who had led her to the grave, And even bless'd him as she died— Her love was her delight, her pride, Unchanged in contumely and woe, And in her death she shew'd it so. Could he his cruelty forgive? Oh no! Remorse track'd all his future steps below: The scorpion sting that festers in the heart With a relentless, an undying smart— The canker of the soul, that drop by drop Drains life away until its pulses stop, Were his, with an existence lengthen'd more To suffer, loathe himself, condemn, deplore— The love betray'd exacting vengeance dear,— Making his hell in earth's bright atmosphere. HEBDOMAflARY OF MR. SNOOKS, THE GROCER.
"No wonder they were caught by South Sea achemes,
Sirifi's Epistle to Mr. Thomas Snow.
Monday.—Received a visit from Mr. Macnab, the attorney, who paid me nine hundred pounds, being the amount of the legacy left to my wife by Farmer Mumpford, of Ipswich, her late uncle, for which we gave him our joint discharge. Took him into the parlour behind the shop, when Mrs. S. had returned up-stairs, and consulted him as to the employment of this large sum; when he informed me that all the world were making fortunes in South American Securities, and recommended me to try my luck; for which purpose, he offered to introduce me to his particular friend Mr. Manasseh Mordecai, a remarkably prudent young gentleman, who had recently entered the Foreign Stock Exchange, and, as he assured me, was already comfortably tiled in, as the phrase is. Put on my best coat, told Jem to look after the shop, and accompanied Macnab to Mr. Mordecai's counting-house, whose tilbury was at the door, a bright pea-green picked out with red, and brass mouldings, piebald horse, and harness covered with brazen ornaments; a boy-groom in the gig, in a sky-blue livery, with silver shoulder-knots, varnished hat, silver lace, and cockade; altogether the gcnteelcst and smartest equipage I had ever seen. Went up-stairs, and found young gentleman aforesaid damning his clerk's eyes, because he had forgotten to order the turtle soup and pine-apples to be sent to his country-house the day before, when Ben Bubbleton dined with him. Took us into an inner room about six feet square, and upon being informed the nature of our errand, declared with an oath that every man was a cursed ass, if he had a little money in his pocket, not to make his fortune as he had done: that it was plain sailing, a hollow thing, clear as daylight, and sure as a gun; for Ben Bubbleton had called in New Court, and ascertained that Nathan meant to make an immense purchase in Poyais, which he had no doubt would run up ten or twenty per cent, in consequence, and was out-and-out the cheapest thing in the market for a buyer. Desired him accordingly to invest my nine hundred pounds in that stock; when he exclaimed, with a contemptuous look, "Psha! what will you get by that? . If it runs up twenty per cent, there is but a paltry hundred and eighty profit. No, if you are a fellow of any spirit and talent, you will lodge this money with me as a security, and let me buy you' a lot for the end of the month, before which time I shall probably be able to sell it again with a profit of some thousands." Thought it a pity not to be a fellow of spirit and talent, and consented accordingly to his proposition; when he inquired whether I had any other dibbs, any more blunt, or stumpy, which Macnab explained to mean any more money; and I replied that I had saved nearly six hundred pounds in business, which I kept in Exchequer bills.— "Exchequer bills!" exclaimed Mr. Mordecai: "what folly! Makeup the fifteen hundred pounds, lodge the whole sum with me as a security, since I have not the pleasure of knowing you, though, as the friend of Mr;-Macnab, I doubt not you are perfectly respectable, and I will buy for you fifty thousand Poyais Scrip for the end of the month." Fifty thousand Poyais!! what a magnificent sound! there was no resisting it, so I deposited the fifteen hundred pounds, and received the broker's memorandum, "Bought by order and for account of Simon Snooks, Esquire," &c. The first time I had ever been dubbed Esquire, but thought it the least that could be appended to the proprietor of fifty thousand Poyais Scrip.
Returned home, when my wife scolded me for wearing my Sunday coat: told me there was a loaf of sugar to break up for Alderman Dewlap, and handed me my white apron, which I indignantly threw behind the counter, exclaiming "Damn white aprons! I shall never put on another."—Mrs. Snooks insisted; and though I make a point of always being master in my own house, I thought I might as well humour her, since she is a very worthy woman, and hang it before me—but as I was determined to show my independence, I took it off the moment she went up-stairs, and desired Jem to finish breaking the sugar for the Alderman.
Tuesday.—Went to Capel Court immediately after breakfast—all in a bustle—Poyais Stock rising every minute, all buyers no sellers; the knowing ones laying bets that it will be up 10 percent, this week ; price already 2 per cent, higher. Two per cent, on my fifty is a thousand pounds profit. Wear an apron indeed! A clever fellow has no occasion for any such appendage. Resolved to take time by the forelock, and make my fortune at once, now that my hand was fairly in. Met my neighbour Mr. Dry, and asked his opinion of South American Securities, when he observed they might be excellent things to purchase, but doubted whether they were so good as the Chinese Turnpike Bonds, which had been lately introduced into the market; and as it was whispered there was shortly to be a general election in China, which by the additional travelling would prodigiously increase the toll-money, he had no doubt prices would rise considerably. He recommended also to my attention the new Patagonian Loan, of which I had heard nothing, informing me that the agent whom they had sent over was nearly nine feet high, that the contract was drawn up on a sheet of foolscap, above two yards square, that the Scrip Receipts were nearly three feet long, and that of course the profits would be proportionably large. Made a Mem. to speak to Mr. Mordecai on the subject. Asked his opinion about the tunnel under the Thames, when he told me he doubted whether the scheme would hold water, and that to wait for your profits till a hole was burrowed under the river, must at all events be a great bore. Said the Thames would serve the contractors right if it gave them a good sousing, adding, that he would do the same if they got under his bed.
Wednesday.—Capel Court again—greater hubbub than ever—the Bears all frightened out of their wits, and the Bulls quite cockahoop. Four per cent, on my fifty is two thousand pounds profit. Recommended by a friend to sell; not such an ass. No doubt they will be up twenty per cent, before the account, and twenty per cent, upon my fifty will be ten thousand pounds. Went upon the Royal Exchange, and saw the great man, said to be worth two millions, higgling with a broker. for an eighth per cent, upon a bill of a hundred pounds. Looked up to him with suitable reverence, and thought him quite handsome enough for a great capitalist. Don't see why I should not ultimately be as rich as he is, and come to have a house myself m New Court, Swithin's Lane, since I have begun with a much better start than he did. On my returnhome met Mr. Alderman Dewlap, who saluted me with his usual condescension—" Good morning, Snooks;" but instead of taking oil' my hat, and bowing with my customary "Thank ye, Mr. Alderman," I was determined to let him see that times were altered; so, egad! I gave him a familiar nod, and exclaimed, "How goes it, Dewlap?" Saw he was offended, but what do I care? A fellow with ten thousand pounds in his pocket is not to have his hat perpetually in his hand, like the city Sir Walter. Afterwards met my old acquaintance Jerry Fayle, who I suppose had got some inkling of my successes, for he touched his hat as he accosted me, and called me Sir, which I thought quite unnecessary, for after all I am still nothing more than a plain citizen. Thank God! I have no pride, though I am perfectly aware that a man with ten thousand pounds in his pocket, is not to be addressed with the same familiarity as a common shopkeeper. —Jerry told me he had just been ruined, completely cleaned out by an unsuccessful speculation in the funds. Serve him right!—It requires some talent to make a hit in this manner. Such simpletons as he is had much better stick to the shop, and work hard to support their wife and family, and so I told him. Thought he looked as if he wanted to borrow money, so pretended to see a friend, and bolted down Fincb Lane.
Thursday.—Dreamt last night that I saw the Cacique of Poyais, a dignified-looking copper-coloured personage, with a bow and arrow in his hand, golden shoes, silver gloves, and a tall plume of peacock's feathers upon his head, who, after giving me an order for a pound of eightpenny Muscovado sugar, and a quarter of eight shilling Souchong, made me a graet of twenty thousand acres of land, the surface of which was so rich in gold and silver ore that it perfectly dazzled my eyes. A customer came into the shop while I was pondering upon my dream, and inquired whether I had any rice, when I replied, " Yes, Sir, a rise of five per cent, already."—" Psha!" continued the gentleman, " I mean Carolina rice,—have you any ground?" "Ground !"' I ejaculated, "yes, Sir, twenty thousand acres in Poyais!" when the stranger, thinking probably that I was crazy, walked out of the shop. Same day Mr. Deputy Dump's servant brought me back a bill, wherein I had put down to his master's account fifty thousand loaves of sugar! Ludicrous enough, but how can one attend to these paltry affairs when the money comes rolling in by thousands ?—Indeed I shall probably give up the shop altogether after this account.
Friday.—The rise continuing, and it being now certain that I must realize a handsome property, I communicated the whole affair to my wife, who had hitherto known nothing of the transaction; when she rated me soundly for deciding upon any measure without first consulting her, but admitted that it had been a most clever and fortunate speculation, and instantly stipulated for four things,—first, that we should do no more washing at home—second, that she should wear white gowns upon the week day—third, that we should never have hashed mutton for dinner—and fourth, that we should give Mr. Davison, our lodger, notice to quit immediately, as she was determined to have as grand a party as Mrs. Tibb's, and we should of course want the firstfloor for the purpose; to all which propositions I willingly yielded my consent. Mrs. Snooks was decidedly of opinion, that I should wait till there was thirty per cent, profit, which would be fifteen thousand pounds gain, and which, added to the money deposited with the broker, would constitute a very handsome independence; and she informed me she had always set her heart upon a country-house at Homerton, with a white front, green door, and brass plate, having our name engraved in large capitals. She is certainly a woman of taste, —indeed, she has a right to be so, since her connexions are of the first respectability, and her uncle's wife's sister would have been Lady Mayoress, had not her husband died of a surfeit at a Grocers' Hall dinner, only one week before the ninth of November; but for my own part, I must say I particularly hate Homerton. Finding her, however, inflexible, I withdrew my opposition, not by any means out of deference to her opinion, for every man should be the master in his own house, but because I think people of property and respectability should never be seen wrangling and jangling like vulgar folks. Upon the same principle, I abandoned the idea of our setting up a gig, like Mr. Mordecai's, and yielded to her wish of having a one-horse chariot, like Mr. Lancet the apothecary, which she observed was truly keeping a carriage; and she resolved that her first visit should be to Mrs. Tibbs, on purpose to mortify her.
She herself now laughed heartily at the idea of my ever again putting on a white apron, and though she admitted Alderman Dewlap to be one of our best customers, she thought I had treated him quite right, since her family was as good as his any day in the year, and people whose heads are a little up in the world, have no occasion to keep their nose to the grindstone. This day we mutually agreed that in order to distinguish ourselves from a herd of poor relations in very groveling situations, it was absolutely necessary to change our name, and as our money was made in the city, I proposed to take the addition of vil/e, observing that Snooksville had a very familyish sound; but my wife thought that a termination in real of any sort would only suggest the idea of a butcher. In confirmation of this, she reminded me that cousin Tom, who had been to Calais in the steam-boat, had there seen a large building, called the Hotel de Veal, because, as he was credibly informed, all the calves were slaughtered therein. I then hinted that we might append to my patronymic appellation the word scrip, which was the foundation of our fortune, and would form the very pleasing compound of Snookscrip; but as Mrs. S. thought that the founder of our prosperity ought to take precedence, it was finally agreed that we should be thenceforth called Scripsnooks, which, as she shrewdly remarked, was no change of the initial letter, and would consequently require no alteration in the marks upon our linen.
Saturday.—Found Capel Court this morning in what is technically called a panic—Poyais Scrip falling one per cent, every five minutes—all sellers and no buyers: the knowing ones who had been laying bets that it would be up ten per cent, this week, proving to have been secret sellers, and banging the market without mercy; while the Bulls were running about in great consternation seeking in vain for purchasers. All my imaginary profits having disappeared in about half an hour, I determined at all events not to sacrifice the money I had deposited with Mr. Mordecai, and scampered to his office in great perturbation of mind, that he might sell my Scrip at any price he could get. Not finding him at the counting-house, I hurried back in a profuse perspi