Page images

some of them looking flushed and indig nant, some of them looking bewildered, some of them rather merry. Two ser. vants, in the convulsions of smothered laughter, were keeping them off from the bed of death, whereon, by the dim light of the half-closed shutters, might be seen lying the outstretched form and pale face of the Honourable Henry Frederick Augustus Fitzurse, with two copious streams of a red colour distaining his brow and cheeks from a small dark spot on his forehead. On the other side of the bed was beheld, by the aid of a spirit lamp which threw a ghastly blue glare over the whole apartment, a tall, portly gentleman with a rosy countenance, a powdered wig, with two rows of curls on each side of his head, and a stout powdered queue be. hind. He was dressed in a close cut coat of black, well powdered on the collar, a thick white neckcloth, long flapped black waistcoat, black silk breeches and stockings, and silver buckles, a gold snuff-box in his hand, a cane hung at his wrist, and although he was certainly a very good-looking elderly gentleman, no one would have taken him for rollicking Tom Hamilton, unless they were much better informed upon the subject than any of the jurors there present. At the moment of the coroner's approach that most respectable personage was bending over the corpse of Mr. Fitzurse, affecting busily to smooth down some of the bed clothes, which one of the too zealous jurymen had deranged in an effort actually to sit upon the body. It was evident, however, that the surgeon--for the coroner concluded at once that such must be the eharacter of the personage before himit was very evident, I say, that the sur. geon must have been a dear friend to Mr. Fitzurse, for as he bent down his head he was clearly affected by a spasmodic motion, and warm tears continued to fall upon the countenance of the corpse, over whom also he seemed to be muttering some prayer or ejaculation, as his lips parted and a low mur. muring was heard in the room.

“In front, however, was a much more important person, in the eyes of the coroner, being no other than the peer himself. Most unfortunately, indeed, it happened that the viscount had been seized at that particular moment with another violent fit of coughing, which interrupted him sadly.

*** Take them away, coroner,' he cried, “take them away (cough, cough, cough, cough), we've had quite enough of them (cough, cough, cough); they've viewed the body (cough, cough, cough), and, by jingo, now they want to sit upon it!' (cough, cough, cough.)

** • Well, warn't I toald that I were to sit upon 'um,' said Mr. Dickens. “I want nothing more nor

"Silence!' cried the coroner. Have you viewed the body, gentlemen ?'

“Oh ay, we've viewed 'un,' said Stubbs; but you see, Mr. Coroner-'

“ • Well, if you have viewed it,' said the coroner, who bore his drink dis. creetly, 'walk down stairs.'

Right shoulders forward,' cried the ex-volunteer sergeant, "single file, march!' and away they trooped at the word of command, nearly tumbling over each other in the rapidity of the de. scent.

“ The coroner brought up the rearthe door of the deceased gentleman's room was shut—and up started the corpse, holding both his sides and roaring with laughter !

“Hurra ' cried the disconsolate father, sinking into an arm chair, with his heels beating the ground, and his fat stomach heaving up and down like a soufflet.

" • Driven them from the field, by Jupiter!' cried the surgeon, handing a glass of punch out of the spirit lamp to the corpse; but d-nit, my lord, we must keep serious; our part isn't played out yet, and they have very nearly beaten us already. Why, if that fellow who would sit upon the body had been a little nearer, he'd have heard the chuckles in the dead man's stomach.'

"Lord have mercy upon us l' cried the peer, 'it's capital. But come, Tom, as you say, we must get back our long faces. Give me a glass of cold water; if any thing will make me serious, that will.' There now, that's sad enough! Come now, Tom, let us go and give evidence. See that your wig's right, old fellow.'

“ Tom went to a glass, adjusted his curls; and while the Honourable Henry Frederick Augustus took another ladle full of the revivifying fluid, the peer and his companion proceeded to the diningroom, where the servants who had brought Mr. Fitzurse home from the scene of the fatal affray, as the coroner termed it, were giving unconsciously a false impression by their true evidence in regard to the death of their respectable young master.

“ A little bustle ensued upon the entrance of the viscount and Tom Hamilton, all the jurors rising, and pulling at the hair upon their foreheads, while the two gentlemen took seats beside the coroner. The evidence of the servants was soon concluded, and the crown officer then turned to the peer, who took the opportunity of presenting Mr. Heavitree, the famous surgeon. The coroner and Mr. Heavitree bowed, and then

[ocr errors]

the former inquired whether the vis. count had any information to give upon this melancholy occasion.

“I shall be very happy,' answered his lordship, with a rueful air, “to an. swer any questions that may be asked of me.

* * Ahem !' said the coroner. May I ask if you have any precise information in regard to the person whose hand committed this sad act ? As yet we have nothing but hearsay, for none of the witnesses we have examined were present.'

" Why, replied the peer, 'I saw a challenge given to my son, the night before last, from a young dog of the name of Worrel, and so it is natural to conclude that he was the man who shot him.'

“* Precisely,' replied the coroner with with a sapient look. “Pray, my lord, is your lordship aware of who was your son's second upon this tragical expedition?'

“The peer cocked his eye at Mr. Heavitree with a look of indescribable fun, and then replied

"Oh, yes. I know quite well. A young rakehelly vagabond fellow of the name of Hamilton, better known as Tom Hamilton the Blazer, a desperate hand at the bottle and among the girls, a capital shot, and rather fond of fishing. Never ask him to any of your houses, gentlemen, for he'll drink you a pipe of Madeira in no time. He got the poor boy into a number of scrapes, and I dare say this was all his fault if the truth were known.'

“ The coroner took down all the particulars carefully, and after putting a few more very pertinent questions, he turned to the jury, inquiring if they wished to ask his lordship any thing.

“Upstarted Stubbs without more ado.

“Why, my lord,' he said, with the usual tug, 'I do wish to ax your lordship one thing, which is-couldn't you just give us another mug of that ere ale? It's woundy dry work sitting here.'

The coroner reproved him solemnly; but the peer was more complacent, and the ale was brought up; upon which no farther questions were asked by the jury. The coroner then turned to Mr. Heavitree, and begged that he would make any statement he thought proper in regard to the cause of death.

“ Tom now gave back the peer his shrewd look, and replied

". I have examined the body of the deceased, and find a small wound in the centre of the forehead, which is the only thing about him likely to cause death that I can discover. It is not indeed very profound, and on examining it I

certainly did not reach the brain, but this, from my knowledge of the deceased's family, did not surprise me, as that organ in his noble house is ordinarily exceeding small, and perhaps in his case may be wanting altogether.

** « Whew!' cried the peer with a long shrill whistle.

“My dear sir,' said the coroner, 'you forget his lordship's presence.'

“ Ha, ha, ha!' cried one of the bumpkins, who took the joke and seemed to enjoy it.

“"I do not forget in the least,' replied Tom Hamilton, imbibing an enor mous pinch of snuff, and looking round with the contemptuous superiority of a great surgeon, who always seems to feel that our bones, limbs, muscles, nerves, and arteries are all at his disposal, and that he may cut us up morally and physically whenever he pleases. do not forget at all, Mr. Coroner, nor is there any offence to his lordship; there are many more men in the world without brains than you know of. Now I will very willingly this moment bring down my circularsaw, and just take a little bit, not bigger than the palm of my hand, out of the skulls of the gentlemen here present, and I will answer for it, that in two heads out of three you won't find four pennyweights of brains!'

“ There was an evident bustle amongst the jury and an evident tendency to run towards the door, Dickens, who was a stout fellow, muttering to himself— I'll knock thee down, if thou touchest my head!'

Tom Hamilton, however, proceeded in his character of surgeon

“ . It is a very mistaken idea, Mr. Coroner, that people can't get on in the world without brains. For my part I think, physiologically speaking, the less brains a man has the better. Why, I have known a famous ministry keep off and on for ten years together, and not three out of the whole party had any brains at all. But to return to the matter in hand. My opinion is, that the state to which the Honourable Mr. Fitzurse was reduced, as you have it in evidence, about six o'clock yesterday morning, was, either by the rapid and violent propulsion of some small hard substance—whether round or angular, I cannot take upon myself to say—against the central part of the os frontis: or by the violent and rapid propulsion of his os frontis against some small hard substance-whether round or angular I have no means of knowing.'

« • That is to say,' said the coroner, that either a pistol ball came and knocked a hole in his head, or he went and knocked his head against a pistol ball ?'

« • You will put what interpretation are no less remarkable than they are upon my words you please, sir,' replied varied : bearing evidence of one whose the pretended surgeon, with an air of style passes by an easy transition to profound wisdom; • I have given my opinion, and as this is a delicate matter

pictures of grave and gay, of lively I shall say no more.'

and severe ; eminently gifted with hu. “Very right too,' cried Stubbs.

mour, he sees those little traits of For my part, Mr. Crowner, I think human nature, which need but the the matter's very clear. It's a case of cunning finger to point them out to manslaughter.'

our laughter, to make us enjoy them ""Halloo ! cried Dickens. Man- richly-he is no less successful in slaughter! I think it's summut wuss scenes of stronger and more passionthan that.'

ate interest. The fire is pictured forth **'* Why how can that be?' cried Stubbs. If it had been a woman it

with a masterly hand-the falling tim. would have been murder, but as it's a

bers crash, and the red sparks fall in man it's manslaughter!'

showers around you as you read; and “I vote for feely-de-se!' said a

yet amid all, a few words draw you small tailor from the end of the table;

from the material interest of the scene, and every man now put forth his opi. to the living actors, and carry you nion, each being different from the other. away with the current of the story. Some insisted upon homicide, some upon Neither does our space nor our inmurder, some upon petty larceny. clination permit of our tracing out the “ The coroner then rose and obtained

details of the story. Independent of its silence, in order to explain to the gentlemen the real meaning of the

artful construction, which would renvarious terms they had picked up like

der such a task, in narrow limits, imchildren gathering pebbles on the sea

possible, we would not mar the in. shore without knowing what they really

terest of our readers by a meagre were. Being also primed and loaded by sketch, nor injure the author's conthe worthy viscount, he gave them very ceptions by the sudden and abrupt broadly to understand that their verdict transitions from incident to incident, must be one of murder, and was going which such a summary must convey. on to mark clearly the distinctions be

Far rather would we impart some imtween that crime and any other, when a

pression of his habit of thought, and gentleman of a very thoughtful and considerate look, rose solemnly, scratched

his power of expression, both singuhis head, and said

larly clear and vivid. The following ** • Well, Mr. Crowner, I don't know picture of an early morning in Lon

but I can't make out that hole in don, admirably serves to illustrate his head !

both our own meaning, and one of “ The matter had well nigh begun all those many peculiarities in which his over again. The coroner, however,

writing reminds us of a most favoured stopped imperiously this system of try- describer of the life and habits of the ing back, and having so explained the matter that he thought there was no

great city :possibility of the men coming to any

“ The Chevalier de Lunatico was an but one conclusion, he left it, like other high officers, in the hands of the jury.

early man, and although the Golden After a moment's consultation, however,

Cross, Charing Cross, is one of those to his horror and astonishment the per

houses in which one can practise early sonage who acted as foreman returned

habits with greater impunity than any a verdict of wilful murder against the

where else, yet even there he scared a Honourable Henry Frederick Augustus

dull housemaid on the stairs, who was Fitzurse, and other persons unknown,'

listening to something that Boots was and to this they stuck in spite of all the

saying with their faces very close togecoroner could say."

ther. They both concluded that he

must be the gentleman who was going We have now, somewhat in slovenly by the five o'clock heavy Bristol, and fashion, we own it, introduced our Boots began to inquire concerning his readers to the opening chapters of this

luggage. amusing story. We have briefly told

“The chevalier, however, set him them something of the author's inten

right; and issued forth into the streets tions, and still more passingly, pro

of London, gazing round him with the

curiosity which the scenes of the great duced one or two of his leading cha- metropolis might naturally produce, racters. Yet enough have we quoted He had the fairest opportunity in the to show that his powers as a writer world of studying proper names

which, let me tell the reader, is no un.

"Mem. All men in London before important chapter in the natural his. six o'clock walk with their shoulders up tory of national character. There they to their ears, and their hands in their stood, in long rows against the boarded- pockets. Query-Can they be afraid up windows of the shops—sometimes that if they took theirs out other people bearing a clear or a mystic reference to would put their hands in? N.B.- All the trades which were inscribed after I met were of a class which seemed to them ; sometimes set up in fierce oppo- have the least cause for fearing such a sition to the sort of business which the

process. proprietors had chosen. There was Mr.

( • Mem. That the noses of all Gold, the jeweller, and Mr. Spratt, the

cobblers who live in stalls in London are fishmonger, and Mr. Woollen, the ho. red, and turn up at the point. Querysier, and Mr. Bond, the law-stationer: Can this proceed from frequent hammerwhile on the other hand, appeared Mr. ing between the nose and the lapstone? Hogsflesh, the perfumer, Mr. Boxer, the N.B.-It is but natural the nose should man-milliner, Mr. Silver-tongue, the keep itself out of the way. brass-founder, and Mr. Rotten, the • Mem. The quantity of cabbage pork-butcher. There was a Mr. Rams- consumed in London must be immense. bottom who dealt in lace, and on one In Covent Garden alone I saw coming door appeared Mr. Heavysides, profes- in enough to supply the whole moon. sor of dancing Mr. Stone dealt in N.B.–They must dress their cabbage feather-beds, and Mr. Golightly in in gin, for there was a very strong Cheshire cheeses. We could go a great

smell of that fluid amon all the deal farther, and tell all the manifold people collected to buy and sell

. Mem. curious nomens and cognomens that the -To try the experiment when I get chevalier examined and noted down; home. but to say the truth the subject is a de

“ . Mem. Saw a gentleman leaning licate one, and—besides all the filthy and against a post at the corner of a street obscene names with which Englishmen called Russell; was hiccupping violently, have thought fit to bedizen themselves, and looking as if he did not see very

disand which made Mr. de Lunatico judge tinctly, nevertheless he was preaching to that at least one half of the people ought a mob of boys around him who were pickto remigrate to his own sphere-there ing his pocket. The sermon was tolemay be many a one which might offend rable. He must have been a clergyman, some of our dearly beloved readers to because he had on a black coat. N.B.have handled lightly, and therefore we The English clergymen preach in the forbear. Onward went the chevalier,

Query-Do they always however, with his peculiar jaunty and preach drunk?'" inquiring look, remarking the various classes who at that early hour take their And now, reader, whatever your way out, and begin the miseries and la

complexion of madness—and some form bours of the day. But we must not of the malady “ The Commissioner" trespass by our descriptions upon the

could surely pronounce you afflicted peculiar walk of any gentleman who has

with-read this book. There is much written upon the humorous city of London; for, as in every other profession,

interest in it; there is much wisdom, particular individuals are allowed to

There is wit, too, sharp and sparkling; establish a right prescriptive in certain and humour, racy and mellow as old walks, there is no reason why the same wine. But better than all, amid the should not hold good with authors also. heavy censures of vice and wickedness Milkmen, pickpockets, women of the in which its pages teem, amidst all its town, are all very tenacious in this re

sarcasm on the callous and unworthy spect; and although authors may be an

features of a cold and heartless code inferior class, as the government seems

of society, there is a vein of manly to think them, they may perhaps im. prove by aping their betters. We will honesty, and sound English feeling, therefore simply give a few of the che

which grows rarer with us every day, valier's brief notes, recording his matu

and threatens, ere long, to be among tinal excursion through the streets of the memories of the good things that the great metropolis. After comment- dwelt with our fathers. ing upon the names, he goes on.

open air.



THERE is something in the conflict now whose contest the fate of Great Briat issue between the repealers and their tain, humanly speaking, is dependent. antagonists so singularly and deeply If Mr. O'Connell prevail, even for a exciting, that we have more than once brief season, England will, in all prosurprised ourselves absorbed in the bability, lose her high place_above interest of the game to a degree which nations. If the policy of Sir Robert has caused us to forget our personal Peel succeed, we are taught to hope, concern in it. So, we have heard, it the anti-Anglican spirit in Ireland will fares with unhappy mariners drawn be laid, and for ever. How earnestly, within the influence of some dread in the presence of such an alternative, whirlpool, in which, if they cannot we take the spirits of the passing mobreak the fatal fascination it exerts ment to task, and question them reover them, they will be engulphed and specting the future-how earnestly do lost. So, we are reminded, perished we scrutinize the policy of those who Pliny, in the contemplation of a phe- direct the movements in favour of renomenon less appalling than the moral peal, and of those to whose wisdom Maelstrom which now seems to expect and good faith the safety of the empire Great Britain as its prey. All we can has been confided ; and with what say to excuse our own temporary un- “ miser care" do we hoard every inconsciousness of danger is, that we cident or circumstance that seems to have not, like the great naturalist, promise an issue favourable to the best courted it; and that we have not ne- interests of the empire !! glected anything in our poor power The avowed policy of each of these to give warning that it was at hand. opposing parties may be briefly stated.

And yet, when we consider the cha- Mr. O'Connell declares his purpose racter of the conflict upon which it is and his hope to be, that he will obtain our allotted part to be inactive gazers, from Great Britain, by peaceful agitawe feel that à partial forgetfulness of tion, a repeal of the legislative union. self scarcely needs excuse or explana- Sir Robert Peel is said

to expect, that, tion. We are deeply persuaded, that, by giving the amplest latitude to this in the ample range of history, there is peaceful agitation, and merely taking no example of a struggle like this by precautions to prevent its freshening which Ireland is now agitated, and the into war, it will subside of itself, and British empire threatened with con- with it will die away the hopes which vulsion and ruin—a struggle in which have sustained for so long a lapse of the ends were so vast and the agencies time a spirit of disaffection and disso extraordinary. On the one hand, order. Such is, in its principle, the the dismemberment and destruction of policy of each of the two parties. In the greatest empire in this world is comparing their respective merits, and aimed at, through a process of peaceful presaging their prospects of success, agitation for which the free spirit of perhaps the first distinction which our constitution provides facilities. On strikes us is one favourable to Mr. the other hand, it is hoped to baffle O'Connell. It is this : the repealers' these daring aims by affording the policy has had the effect of cementing freest scope to the devices for their the closest union between all who apaccomplishment; and it is hoped that prove of its object; the policy of Sir the integrity of the British empire Robert Peel has had the effect of dican be ensured, by affording such lati. viding among themselves, or of estude of indulgence to its enemies, as tranging from their leader, Conservashall permit hostility to evaporate and tives

devotedly attached to the interests exhaust itself in the throes of a mena- of British connection. This must be cing but peaceful agitation.

regarded as, at the least, an unhappy Such seem to be the aims and accident. expectations of two parties on which There are some, we are aware, who the attention of thinking men through impute the discontent of Irish Con. out Europe is fixed; on the issue of servatives to motives unworthy of

« PreviousContinue »