Page images
PDF
EPUB

No corner of a street is complete without them. They are as indispensable as the Ballad Singer; and in their picturesque attire as ornamental as the signs of old London. They were the standing morals, emblems, mementos, dial-mottos, the spital sermons, the books for children, the salutary checks and pauses to the high and rushing tide of greasy citizenry

-Look

Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there.

Above all, those old blind Tobits that used to line the wall of Lincoln's-inn Garden, before modern fastidiousness had expelled them, casting up their ruined orbs to catch a ray of pity, and (if possible) of light, with their faithful Dog Guide at their feet,whither are they fled? or into what corners, blind as themselves, have they been driven, out of the wholesome air and sun-warmth ? immersed between four walls, in what withering poor-house do they endure the penalty of double darkness, where the chink of the dropt half-penny no more consoles their forlorn bereavement, far from the sound of the cheerful and hope-stirring tread of the passenger? Where hang their useless staves? and who will farm their dogs?-Have the overseers of St. L- caused them to be shot? or were they tied up in sacks and dropt into the Thames, at the suggestion of B—, the mild rector of · ?

[ocr errors]

Well fare the soul of unfastidious Vincent Bourne, most classical, and at the same time, most English of the Latinists!-who has treated of this human and quadrupedal alliance, this dog and man friendship, in the sweetest of his poems, the Epitaphium in Canem, or, Dog's Epitaph. Reader, peruse it; and say, if customary sights, which could call up such gentle poetry as this, were of a nature to do more harm or good to the moral sense of the passengers through the daily thoroughfares of a vast and busy metropolis.

Pauperis hic Iri requiesco Lyciscus, herilis,
Dum vixi, tutela vigil columenque senectæ,
Dux cæco fidus: nec, me ducente, solebat,
Prætenso hinc atque hinc baculo, per iniqua locorum
Incertam explorare viam; sed fila secutus,
Quæ dubios regerent passûs, vestigia tuta
Fixit inoffenso gressu; gelidumque sedile
In nudo nactus saxo, quâ prætereuntium
Unda frequens confluxit, ibi miserisque tenebras
Lamentis, noctemque oculis ploravit obortam.
Ploravit nec frustra; obolum dedit alter et alter,

Queis corda et mentem indiderat natura benignam.
Ad latus interea jacui sopitus herile,
Vel mediis vigil in somnis; ad herilia jussa
Auresque atque animum arrectus, seu frustula amicè
Porrexit sociasque dapes, seu longa diei
Tædia perpessus, reditum sub nocte parabat.

Hi mores, hæc vita fuit, dum fata sinebant, Dum neque languebam morbis, nec inerte senectâ ; Orbavit dominum: prisci sed gratia facti Quæ tandem obrepsit, veterique satellite cæcum Ne tota intereat, longos delecta per annos, Exiguum hunc Irus tumulum de cespite fecit, Etsi inopis, non ingratæ, munuscula dextræ; Carmine signavitque brevi, dominumque canemque Quod memoret, fidumque canem dominumque benignum.

Poor Irus' faithful wolf-dog here I lie,
That wont to tend my old blind master's steps,
His guide and guard; nor, while my service lasted,
Had he occasion for that staff, with which
He now goes picking out his path in fear
Over the highways and crossings; but would plant,
Safe in the conduct of my friendly string,

A firm foot forward still, till he had reach'd
His poor seat on some stone, nigh where the tide
Of passers by in thickest confluence flow'd:
To whom with loud and passionate laments
From morn to eve his dark estate he wail'd.
Nor wail'd to all in vain: some here and there,
The well-disposed and good, their pennies gave.
I meantime at his feet obsequious slept;
Not all-asleep in sleep, but heart and ear
Prick'd up at his least motion; to receive
At his kind hand my customary crumbs,
And common portion in his feast of scraps;
Or when night warn'd us homeward, tired and spent
With our long day and tedious beggary.

These were my manners, this my way of life
Till age and slow disease me overtook,
And sever'd from my sightless master's side.
But lest the grace of so good deeds should die,
Through tract of years in mute oblivion lost,
This slender tomb of turf hath Irus reared,
Cheap monument of no ungrudging hand,
And with short verse inscribed it, to attest,
In long and lasting union to attest,
The virtues of the Beggar and his Dog.

These dim eyes have in vain explored for some months past a well-known figure, or part of the figure of a man, who used to glide his comely upper half over the pavements of London, wheeling along with most ingenious celerity upon a machine of wood; a spectacle to natives, to foreigners, and to children. He was of a robust make, with a florid sailor-like complexion, and his head was bare to the storm and sunshine. He was a natural curiosity, a speculation to the scientific, a prodigy to the simple. The infant would stare at the mighty man brought down to his own level. The common cripple would despise his own pusillanimity, viewing the hale stoutness, and hearty heart, of this half-limbed giant. Few but must have noticed him; for the accident which brought him low took place during the riots of 1780, and he has been a groundling so long. He

seemed earth-born, an Antæus, and to suck a House of Commons' Committee-was this, in fresh vigour from the soil which he neighboured. He was a grand fragment; as good as an Elgin marble. The nature, which should have recruited his reft legs and thighs, was not lost, but only retired into his upper parts, and he was half a Hercules. I heard a tremendous voice thundering and growling, as before an earthquake, and casting down my eyes, it was this mandrake reviling a steed that had started at his portentous appearance. He seemed to want but his just stature to have rent the offending quadruped in shivers. He was as the man-part of a centaur, from which the horse-half had been cloven in some dire Lapithan controversy. He moved on, as if he could have made shift with yet half of the body-portion which was left him. The os sublime was not wanting; and he threw out yet a jolly countenance upon the heavens. Forty-and-two years had he driven this out-of-door trade, and now that his hair is grizzled in the service, but his good spirits no way impaired, because he is not content to exchange his free air and exercise for the restraints of a poor-house, he is expiating his contumacy in one of those houses (ironically christened) of Correction.

Was a daily spectacle like this to be deemed a nuisance, which called for legal interference to remove? or not rather a salutary and a touching object to the passersby in a great city? Among her shows, her museums, and supplies for ever-gaping curiosity (and what else but an accumulation of sights-endless sights—is a great city; or for what else is it desirable ?) was there not room for one Lusus (not Naturæ, indeed, but) Accidentium? What if in fortyand-two-years' going about, the man had scraped together enough to give a portion to his child, (as the rumour ran) of a few hundreds-whom had he injured?—whom had he imposed upon ? The contributors had enjoyed their sight for their pennies. What if after being exposed all day to the heats, the rains, and the frosts of heaven-shuffling his ungainly trunk along in an elaborate and painful motion-he was enabled to retire at night to enjoy himself at a club of his fellow cripples over a dish of hot meat and vegetables, as the charge was gravely brought against him by a clergyman deposing before

or was his truly paternal consideration, which (if a fact) deserved a statue rather than a whipping-post, and is inconsistent, at least, with the exaggeration of nocturnal orgies which he has been slandered with—a reason that he should be deprived of his chosen, harmless, nay edifying, way of life, and be committed in hoary age for a sturdy vagabond?

There was a Yorick once, whom it would not have shamed to have sate down at the cripples' feast, and to have thrown in his benediction, ay, and his mite too, for a companionable symbol. "Age, thou hast lost thy breed."—

Half of these stories about the prodigious fortunes made by begging are (I verily believe) misers' calumnies. One was much talked of in the public papers some time since, and the usual charitable inferences deduced. A clerk in the Bank was surprised with the announcement of a five-hundredpound legacy left him by a person whose name he was a stranger to. It seems that in his daily morning walks from Peckham (or some village thereabouts) where he lived, to his office, it had been his practice for the last twenty years to drop his halfpenny duly into the hat of some blind Bartimeus, that sate begging alms by the way-side in the Borough. The good old beggar recognised his daily benefactor by the voice only; and, when he died, left all the amassings of his alms (that had been half a century perhaps in the accumulating) to his old Bank friend. Was this a story to purse up people's hearts, and pennies, against giving an alms to the blind?—or not rather a beautiful moral of well-directed charity on the one part, and noble gratitude upon the other?

I sometimes wish I had been that Bank clerk.

I seem to remember a poor old grateful kind of creature, blinking, and looking up with his no eyes in the sun

Is it possible I could have steeled my purse against him?

Perhaps I had no small change. Reader, do not be frightened at the hard words imposition, imposture-give, and ask no questions. Cast thy bread upon the waters. Some have unawares (like this Bank clerk) entertained angels.

Shut not thy purse-strings always against not all that he pretendeth, give, and under a painted distress. Act a charity sometimes. personate father of a family, think (if thou When a poor creature (outwardly and visibly pleasest) that thou hast relieved an indigent such) comes before thee, do not stay to in- bachelor. When they come with their counquire whether the "seven small children," terfeit looks, and mumping tones, think them in whose name he implores thy assistance, players. You pay your money to see a have a veritable existence. Rake not into comedian feign these things, which, concernthe bowels of unwelcome truth to save a half-ing these poor people, thou canst not cerpenny. It is good to believe him. If he be tainly tell whether they are feigned or not.

A DISSERTATION UPON ROAST PIG.

MANKIND, says a Chinese manuscript, | to his father, and wringing his hands over which my friend M. was obliging enough to the smoking remnants of one of those unread and explain to me, for the first seventy timely sufferers, an odour assailed his nostrils, thousand ages ate their meat raw, clawing unlike any scent which he had before exor biting it from the living animal, just as perienced. What could it proceed from ?— they do in Abyssinia to this day. This not from the burnt cottage-he had smelt period is not obscurely hinted at by their that smell before-indeed this was by no great Confucius in the second chapter of his means the first accident of the kind which Mundane Mutations, where he designates a had occurred through the negligence of this kind of golden age by the term Cho-fang, unlucky young fire-braud. Much less did it literally the Cooks' Holiday. The manuscript resemble that of any known herb, weed, or goes on to say, that the art of roasting, or flower. A premonitory moistening at the rather broiling (which I take to be the elder same time overflowed his nether lip. He brother) was accidentally discovered in the knew not what to think. He next stooped manner following. The swine-herd, Ho-ti, down to feel the pig, if there were any signs having gone out into the woods one morning, of life in it. He burnt his fingers, and to as his manner was, to collect mast for his cool them he applied them in his booby hogs, left his cottage in the care of his eldest fashion to his mouth. Some of the crumbs son Bo-bo, a great lubberly boy, who being of the scorched skin had come away with his fond of playing with fire, as younkers of his fingers, and for the first time in his life (in age commonly are, let some sparks escape the world's life indeed, for before him no into a bundle of straw, which kindling quickly, man had known it) he tasted-crackling! spread the conflagration over every part of Again he felt and fumbled at the pig. It their poor mansion, till it was reduced to did not burn him so much now, still he licked ashes. Together with the cottage (a sorry his fingers from a sort of habit. The truth antediluvian make-shift of a building, you at length broke into his slow understanding, may think it), what was of much more im- that it was the pig that smelt so, and the pig portance, a fine litter of new-farrowed pigs, that tasted so delicious; and surrendering no less than nine in number, perished. China himself up to the new-born pleasure, he fell pigs have been esteemed a luxury all over to tearing up whole handfuls of the scorched the East, from the remotest periods that we skin with the flesh next it, and was cramming read of. Bo-bo was in the utmost consternation, as you may think, not so much for the sake of the tenement, which his father and he could easily build up again with a few dry branches, and the labour of an hour or two, at any time, as for the loss of the pigs. While he was thinking what he should say

down his throat in his beastly fashion, when his sire entered amid the smoking rafters, armed with retributory cudgel, and finding how affairs stood, began to rain blows upon the young rogue's shoulders, as thick as hail-stones, which Bo-bo heeded not any more than if they had been flies. The

tickling pleasure, which he experienced in his lower regions, had rendered him quite callous to any inconveniences he might feel in those remote quarters. His father might lay on, but he could not beat him from his pig, till he had fairly made an end of it, when, becoming a little more sensible of his situation, something like the following dialogue ensued.

the sow farrowed, so sure was the house of Ho-ti to be in a blaze; and Ho-ti himself, which was the more remarkable, instead of chastising his son, seemed to grow more indulgent to him than ever. At length they were watched, the terrible mystery dis covered, and father and son summoned to take their trial at Pekin, then an inconsiderable assize town. Evidence was given, the obnoxious food itself produced in court, and verdict about to be pronounced, when the foreman of the jury begged that some of the burnt pig, of which the culprits stood accused, might be handed into the box. He

"You graceless whelp, what have you got there devouring? Is it not enough that you have burnt me down three houses with your dog's tricks, and be hanged to you! but you must be eating fire, and I know not what-what have you got there, I say ?" "O father, the pig, the pig! do come and handled it, and they all handled it; and taste how nice the burnt pig eats." burning their fingers, as Bo-bo and his father had done before them, and nature prompting to each of them the same remedy, against the face of all the facts, and the clearest charge which judge had ever given,-to the surprise of the whole court, townsfolk, strangers, reporters, and all present-without leaving the box, or any manner of consultation whatever, they brought in a simultaneous verdict of Not Guilty.

The ears of Ho-ti tingled with horror. He cursed his son, and he cursed himself that ever he should beget a son that should eat burnt pig.

The judge, who was a shrewd fellow, winked at the manifest iniquity of the decision: and when the court was dismissed, went privily and bought up all the pigs that could be had for love or money. In a few days his lordship's town-house was observed to be on fire. The thing took wing, and now there was nothing to be seen but fire in every direction. Fuel and pigs grew enormously dear all over the district. The insurance-offices one and all shut up shop. People built slighter and slighter every day, until it was feared that the very science of architecture would in no long time be lost to the world. Thus this custom of firing houses continued, till in process of time, says my manuscript, a sage arose, like our Locke, who made a discovery that the flesh of swine, or indeed of any other animal, might be cooked (burnt, as they called it) without the necessity of consuming a whole house to dress it. Then first began the rude form of a gridiron. Roasting by the string or spit came in a century or two later, I forget in whose dynasty. By such slow degrees, concludes the manuscript, do the most useful, and seemingly the most obvious, arts make their way among mankind

Without placing too implicit faith in the

Bo-bo, whose scent was wonderfully sharpened since morning, soon raked out another pig, and fairly rending it asunder, thrust the lesser half by main force into the fists of Ho-ti, still shouting out, "Eat, eat, eat the burnt pig, father, only tasteLord!"—with such-like barbarous ejaculations, cramming all the while as if he would choke.

Ho-ti trembled every joint while he grasped the abominable thing, wavering whether he should not put his son to death for an unnatural young monster, when the crackling scorching his fingers, as it had done his son's, and applying the same remedy to them, he in his turn tasted some of its flavour, which, make what sour mouths he would for a pretence, proved not altogether displeasing to him. In conclusion (for the manuscript here is a little tedious), both father and son fairly set down to the mess, and never left off till they had despatched all that remained of the litter.

Bo-bo was strictly enjoined not to let the secret escape, for the neighbours would certainly have stoned them for a couple of abominable wretches, who could think of improving upon the good meat which God had sent them. Nevertheless, strange stories got about. It was observed that Ho-ti's cottage was burnt down now more frequently than ever. Nothing but fires from this time forward. Some would break out in broad day, others in the night-time. As often as

account above given, it must be agreed that if a worthy pretext for so dangerous an experiment as setting houses on fire (especially in these days) could be assigned in favour of any culinary object, that pretext and excuse might be found in ROAST PIG.

[ocr errors]

of filthy conversation-from these sins he is happily snatched away—

Ere sin could blight or sorrow fade,
Death came with timely care-

Of all the delicacies in the whole mundus edibilis, I will maintain it to be the most delicate-princeps obsoniorum.

his memory is odoriferous-no clown curseth, while his stomach half rejecteth, the rank bacon-no coalheaver bolteth him in reeking sausages he hath a fair sepulchre in the grateful stomach of the judicious epicure― and for such a tomb might be content to die.

He is the best of sapors. Pine-apple is great. She is indeed almost too transcendent-a delight, if not sinful, yet so like to

I speak not of your grown porkersthings between pig and pork-those hobbydehoys-but a young and tender sucklingunder a moon old-guiltless as yet of the sty -with no original speck of the amor immunditia, the hereditary failing of the first sinning that really a tender-conscienced parent, yet manifest-his voice as yet not person would do well to pause-too ravishing broken, but something between a childish for mortal taste, she woundeth and excotreble and a grumble-the mild forerunner riateth the lips that approach her-like or præludium of a grunt. lovers' kisses, she biteth-she is a pleasure bordering on pain from the fierceness and insanity of her relish-but she stoppeth at the palate-she meddleth not with the appetite-and the coarsest hunger might barter her consistently for a mutton-chop.

He must be roasted. I am not ignorant that our ancestors ate them seethed, or boiledbut what a sacrifice of the exterior tegument!

There is no flavour comparable, I will contend, to that of the crisp, tawny, wellwatched, not over-roasted, crackling, as it is well called the very teeth are invited to their share of the pleasure at this banquet in overcoming the coy, brittle resistance-with the adhesive oleaginous-O call it not fat! but an indefinable sweetness growing up to it— the tender blossoming of fat-fat cropped in the bud-taken in the shoot-in the first innocence the cream and quintessence of the child-pig's yet pure food- -the lean, no lean, but a kind of animal manna-or, rather, fat and lean (if it must be so) so blended and running into each other, that both together make but one ambrosian result or common substance.

[ocr errors]

Pig-let me speak his praise-is no less provocative of the appetite, than he is satisfactory to the criticalness of the censorious palate. The strong man may batten on him, and the weakling refuseth not his mild juices.

Unlike to mankind's mixed characters, a bundle of virtues and vices, inexplicably intertwisted, and not to be unravelled without hazard, he is good throughout. No part of him is better or worse than another. He helpeth, as far as his little means extend, all around. He is the least envious of banquets. He is all neighbours' fare.

66

66

I am one of those, who freely and ungrudgingly impart a share of the good things Behold him, while he is doing -it of this life which fall to their lot (few as seemeth rather a refreshing warmth, than a mine are in this kind) to a friend. I protest scorching heat, that he is so passive to. How I take as great an interest in my friend's equably he twirleth round the string!-Now pleasures, his relishes, and proper satishe is just done. To see the extreme sensibi- factions, as in mine own. Presents," I lity of that tender age! he hath wept out often say, "endear Absents." Hares, his pretty eyes-radiant jellies-shooting pheasants, partridges, suipes, barn-door stars.chickens (those "tame villatic fowl,") capons, See him in the dish, his second cradle, how plovers, brawn, barrels of oysters, I dispense meek he lieth!—wouldst thou have had this as freely as I receive them. I love to taste innocent grow up to the grossness and indo- them, as it were, upon the tongue of my cility which too often accompany maturer friend. But a stop must be put somewhere. swinehood? Ten to one he would have One would not, like Lear, "give everything." proved a glutton, a sloven, an obstinate, dis- I make my stand upon pig. Methinks it is agreeable animal-wallowing in all manner an ingratitude to the Giver of all good flavours

« PreviousContinue »