Page images
PDF
EPUB

“I cannot suspect it, in the man whom I esteem, that there is the least spur from spleen or malevolence in these sallies.- I believe and know them to be truly honest and sportive—but consider, my dear lad, that fools cannot distinguish this, and that knaves will not; and that thou knowest not what it is either to provoke the one, or to make merry with the other;—whenever they associate for mutual defence, depend upon it, they will carry on the war in such a manner against thee, my dear friend, as to make thee heartily sick of it, and of thy life too.

Revenge, from some baneful corner, shall level a tale of dishonor at thee, which no innocence of heart, nor integrity of conduct, shall set right.—The fortunes of thy house shall totter,—thy character, which led the way to them, shall bleed on every side of it,—thy faith questioned, —thy words belied,—thy wit forgotten,—thy learning trampled on. To wind up the last scene of thy tragedy, Cruelty and Cowardice, twin-ruffians, hired and set on by Malice in the dark, shall strike together at all thy infirmities and mistakes the best of us, my dear lad, lie open there;—and trust metrust me, Yorick, when, to gratify a private appetite, it is once resolved upon that an innocent and a helpless creature shall be sacrificed, 't is an easy matter to pick up sticks enough from any thicket where it has strayed to make a fire to offer it up with.”

Yorick scarce ever heard this sad vaticination of his destiny read over to him but with a tear stealing from his eye, and a promissory look attending it that he was resolved, for the time to come, to ride his tit with more sobriety.-But, alas, too late!-a grand confederacy, with

and at the head of it, was formed before the first prediction of it.—The whole plan of attack, just as Eugenius had foreboded, was put in execution all at once, —with so little mercy on the side of the allies,—and so little suspicion on Yorick's of what was carrying on against him—that, when he thought, good easy man! full surely, preferment was o’ ripening,—they had smote his root, -and then he fell, as many a worthy man had fallen before him.

Yorick, however, fought it out, with all imaginable gallantry, for some time; till overpowered by numbers, and worn out at length by the calamities of the war—but more

*

so by the ungenerous manner in which it was carried on, -he threw down the sword; and, though he kept up his spirits in appearance to the last-he died, nevertheless, as was generally thought, quite broken-hearted.

What inclined Eugenius to the same opinion was as follows:

A few hours before Yorick breathed his last, Eugenius stept in with an intent to take his last sight and last farewell of him. Upon his drawing Yorick's curtain, and asking how he felt himself, Yorick, looking up in his face, took hold of his hand-and, after thanking him for the many tokens of his friendship to him, for which, he said, if it were their fate to meet hereafter, he would thank him again and again,-he told him he was within a few hours of giving his enemies the slip for ever. I hope not, answered Eugenius with tears trickling down his cheeks, and with the tenderest tone that ever man spoke,-I hope not, Yorick, said he. Yorick replied, with a look up, and a spirits and fortitude forsake thee at this crisis, when thou gentle squeeze of Eugenius's hand, and that was all;- but it cut Eugenius to the heart. Come, come, Yorick, quoth Eugenius, wiping his eyes, and summoning up the man within him, my dear lad be comforted;-let not all thy most wantest them;—who knows what resources are in store, and what the powers of God may yet do for thee? Yorick laid his hand upon his heart, and gently shook his head. For my part, continued Eugenius, crying bitterly as he uttered the words,—I declare I know not, Yorick, how to part with thee,-and would gladly flatter my hopes, added Eugenius, cheering up his voice, that there is still enough left of thee to make a bishop, and that I may live to see it. I beseech thee, Eugenius, quoth Yorick, taking off his night-cap as well as he could with his left hand,-his right being still grasped close in that of Eugenius,-I beseech thee to take a view of my head. I see nothing that ails it, replied Eugenius. Then, alas! my friend, said Yorick, let me tell you that it is so bruised and misshapened with the blows which and

and some others, have so unhandsomely given me in the dark, that I might say, with Sancho Panza, that should I recover, and “miters thereupon be suffered to rain down from heaven as thick as hail, not one of them would fit it." Yorick's last breath

was hanging upon his trembling lips, ready to depart, as he uttered this;—yet still it was uttered with something of a Cervantic tone; and, as he spoke it, Eugenius could perceive a stream of lambent fire lighted up for a moment in his eyes—faint picture of those flashes of his spirit which (as Shakespeare said of his ancestor) were wont to set the table in a roar!

Eugenius was convinced from this that the heart of his friend was broken; he squeezed his hand—and then walked softly out of the room, weeping as he walked. Yorick followed Eugenius with his eyes to the door;-he then closed them,—and never opened them more.

He lies buried in a corner of his churchyard, in the parish of > under a plain marble slab, which his friend Eugenius, by leave of his executors, laid upon his grave, with no more than these three words of inscription, serving both for his epitaph and elegy:

Alas, poor Vorick !

Ten times in a day has Yorick's ghost the consolation to hear his monumental inscription read over, with such a variety of plaintive tones as denote a general pity and esteem for him-a footway crossing the churchyard close by the side of his grave,-not a passenger goes by without stopping to cast a look upon it, -and sighing, as he walks on,

ALAS, POOR YORICK!

THE STORY OF LE FEVRE.

From “Tristram Shandy.' It was not till my uncle Toby had knocked the ashes out of his third pipe that Corporal Trim returned from the inn, and gave him the following account:

-I despaired at first, said the Corporal, of being able to bring back your honor any kind of intelligence concerning the poor sick Lieutenant.—Is he in the army, then? said

my uncle Toby.—I'll tell your honor, replied the Corporal, everything straight forwards, as I learnt it.—Then, Trim, I'll fill another pipe, said my uncle Toby, and not interrupt thee till thou hast done; so sit down at thy ease, Trim, in the window-seat, and begin thy story again.—The Corporal made his old bow, which generally spoke as plain as a bow could speak it, Your honor is good :—and having done that, he sat down, as he was ordered, and began the story to my uncle Toby over again in pretty near the same words.

I despaired at first, said the Corporal, of being able to bring back any intelligence to your honor, about the Lieutenant and his son ;-for, when I asked where his servant was, from whom I made myself sure of knowing everything which was proper to be asked,-[That's a right distinction, Trim, said my uncle Toby]-I was answered, an' please your honor, that he had no servant with him; that he had come to the inn with hired horses, which, upon finding himself unable to proceed (to join, I suppose, the regiment), he had dismissed the morning after he came.--If I get better, my dear, said he, as he gave his purse to his son to pay the man, we can hire horses thence.—But alas! the poor gentleman will never go hence, said the landlady to me, for I heard the death-watch all night long; and, when he dies, the youth, his son will certainly die with him, for he is broken-hearted already.

I was hearing this account, continued the Corporal, when the youth came into the kitchen, to order the thin toast the landlord spoke of:-But I will do it for my father myself, said the youth.–Pray let me save you the trouble, young gentleman, said I, taking up a fork for the purpose, and offering him my chair to sit down upon by the fire, whilst I did it.—I believe, sir, said he, very modestly, I can please him best myself.—I am sure, said I, his honor will not like the toast the worse for being toasted by an old soldier.—The youth took hold of my hand, and instantly burst into tears.—Poor youth! said my uncle Toby; he has been bred up from an infant in the army; and the name of a soldier, Trim, sounded in his ears like the name of a friend - I wish I had him here.

-I never, in the longest march, said the Corporal, had so great a mind for my dinner, as I had to cry with him

for company.

What could be the matter with me, an' please your honor?—Nothing in the world, Trim, said my uncle Toby, blowing his nose, but that thou art a goodnatured fellow.

- When I gave him the toast, continued the Corporal, I thought it was proper to tell him I was Captain Shandy's servant, and that your honor (though a stranger) was extremely concerned for his father, and that if there was anything in your house or cellar-[And thou might'st have added my purse, too, said my uncle Toby]—he was heartily welcome to it.—He made a very low bow (which was meant to your honor) but no answer ;—for his heart was full;—so he went upstairs with the toast.— I warrant you, my dear, said I, as I opened the kitchen-door, your father will be well again. Mr. Yorick's curate was smoking a pipe by the kitchen fire; but said not a word, good or bad, to comfort the youth.—I thought it wrong, added the Corporal.—I think so too, said my uncle Toby.

- When the Lieutenant had taken his glass of sack and toast, he felt himself a little revived, and sent down into the kitchen to let me know that, in about ten minutes, he should be glad if I would step upstairs.—I believe, said the landlord, he is going to say his prayers; for there was a book laid upon the chair by his bed-side, and, as I shut the door, I saw his son take up a cushion.

-I thought, said the Curate, that you gentlemen of the army, Mr. Trim, never said your prayers at all.—I heard the poor gentleman say his prayers last night, said the landlady, very devoutly, and with my own ears, or I could not have believed it.- Are you sure of it? replied the Curate.—A soldier, an' please your reverence, said I, prays as often (of his own accord) as a parson; and when he is fighting for his king, and for his own life, and for his honor too, he has the most reason to pray to God of any one in the whole world.—'T was well said of thee, Trim, said my uncle Toby.-But when a soldier, said I, an' please your reverence, has been standing for twelve hours together in the trenches, up to his knees in cold water-or engaged, said I, for months together in long and dangerous marches;-harassed, perhaps, in his rear to-day ;-harassing others to-morrow;-detached here;—countermanded there;—resting this night out upon his arms;—beat up in

« PreviousContinue »