Изображения страниц
[ocr errors]

blossom, certainly) and the Imperial Blush (very scarce) cost as much as her last new dress; and that, at a random estimate, the cabbages averaged sixpence per head, and the carrots threepence per tail, to say nothing of the unknown quantity of money sunk in a pet pinery and a choice vinery. We were lingering about in his immediate vicinity the other morning with a pet volume of Leigh Hunt in our hand, when we heard the groom rapidly advance on the old gentleman's "whereabouts.” “The phæton is ready, sir,” said John to his civic master; but the master was hoeing away at an obstinate dock-root, and pertectly oblivious of Threadneedle Street and “ Bradshaw." The old gentleman had managed to “mess” the bottom of his trousers pretty considerably; his hands must be washedhis boots must be changed-his face is very moist and florid, owing to the inveterate obstinacy of the dock-root; and, after a rapid summing up of his condition, he arrives at the wise conclusion that he cannot go by that train. “I shall go by the half-past one, John," says the civic master; and he again applied himself vigorously to the dock-root, which he at length conquered. Elated with the feat, he stood for a few moments gazing on the annihilated weed with mingled triumph and delight in his somewhat purple countenance, and conceived a sudden fancy for clearing a contiguous herb-bed of "" that nasty chickweed," setting to at the work as though his reputation depended on its performance. John came again, but the elderly gentleman had found another most imperative demand on his attention, and his opinion was decidedly expressed that it was “too late to be of any use in town,” and he should not want the phæton." He toiled on, in a state of intense heat and activity, until he was compelled to obey the dinner bell, and sat down to his fish and chicken, with a full conviction that he had materially added to the high state of cultivation so generally observed by those who visited his adored "garden," while the head gardener expressed a strong private opinion that master generally did more harm than good.” Happy delusion! It is pleasant to see the primitive digging and delving tendency of childhood return in men, when all that Fortune can bestow and all that Ambition can achieve has served but to teach that it is possible to have “too much of a good thing," and that a bit of grass plot and a rood or two of carth may take us as nigh to heaven as a banker's counter. Not far distant from our friend's villa, is a low mud-walled cottage, with a tiny patch of ground attached, probably about thirty feet by fifty ; but the tiny patch is crammed with nasturtiums, rockets, sweet-williams, larkspurs, hon-and-chicken daisies, scarlet runners, honeysuckle, apple trees, currant bushes, and Flora and Pomona know best what. It is a perfect floral kaleidoscope ; and it is suspected that the civic gentleman covets a slip of that wonderful jasmine which runs over the old wooden porch. The rich merchant and the poor peasant both "love flowers."

Gardens are pleasant places. They were so when under the classical patronage of Semiramus and Alcinous, and they form charming, attractive "green spots” in the world's arid choking waste in these modern days, past and present, bearing the patronymics of Ranelagh, Vauxhall

, Versailles, Tuilleries, Kew, Rosherville, Kensington, or Cremorne. There is something refreshing in the very word "garden.” Whether the style be Italian or Dutch, it is of little consequence as far as the general impulse of humanity is concerned. We admit that we perfer to ramble where Nature aod. Art keep up a becoming family feeling of union-yet, when we find ourselves shut up with perfect Euclidian right lines and angles, and peacocks cut out of box trees, whose only merit is that they do not screamyet, we say we cannot quarrel with the place they disfigure. We feel that *" garden" was intended, and that is enough to sanctify the most atrocious


[ocr errors]

bad taste. “Flowers and sweet green leaves" are among the most prominent of the “ beautiful and undying,” and we reverently recognize them as the silent ministers of God's unfathomable power, and the unceasing shrines of man's instinctive bomage.



THE whistling of the Autumn wind,
Joined with the falling leaf in modulations deep,

And in its revels unconfined,
Trouble the drowsy echos in their phantom sleep.

A hunger-stricken child, her mother's death bewailing
In tearsome, trembling tones addressed the passer-by-

“Thy charity unseen, before the Lord prevailing,
Shall surely be recorded at His throne on high.”

“ Have mercy on an orphan child,
Who has not learned yet to beg her daily bread;

And in the name of Jesus mild.
In pity give me food—I starve !—My mother’s dead !"

But all that dreary day her prayer was unavailing,
And no one heard or answered the suffering cry-

“ Your charity unseen, before the Lord prevailing,
Shall surely find a record at His throne on high!”

A rich man's funeral goes by-
His heir parades his grief, escorted by his friends;

He sees the orphan, hears her sigh,
But no emotion feels, or kind assistance lends.

The broken-hearted child--to see her efforts failing,
Her mother's name invokes as death is drawing nigh;

“Thy charity unseen, before the Lord prevailing,
Shall find a certain record at His throne on high !"

The sun's faint glimmer now declines ;
The tolling village bell awakes the shade's repose ;

Pale Venus in her beauty shines ;
Night's veil and chilling winds proclaim the evening's close.

The child sees death approach, and at its aspect quailing,
Uplifts her little voice ere lying down to die-

Thy charity unseen, before the Lord prevailing,
Shall find a certain record at His throne on high !"

Returning to his humble cot,
A soldier bent beneath the weight of threescore years,

Soon after chanced to pass the spot-
Upraised the mendicant and wiped away its tears.

Adopted as his own the child, no longer wailing,
Upon his honest shoulder now her little head doeth lie;

His charity unseen, before the Lord prevailing,
By angels was recorded at His throne on high !



ONE morning early, a horseman reined up his steed at the door of Mr. Bolderby's office. Mr. Bolderby's office was a solicitor's office, and Mr. Bolderby was the solicitor. The horseman dismounted, threw the bridle of his horse to a ragged boy, who seemed to start up ont of the earth on purpose to accept the trust, and briskly skipping up the three steps that led to Mr. Bolderby's temple of law, rapped such a ciceraro at the door thereof as Polly Phemah (Irish), Mr. Bolderby's one-eyed maid servant, was rarely accustomed to be startled from her black-leading by, at that early hour of the morning. Polly Phemah was at the door in an instant.

"Mr. Bolderby at home, my lass !”
“ Yes, an' he is"
“ Then tell him a gentleman wants to see him."
“Then, an' you can't," said Polly, “ for he ain't up yet."
“But I must,” said the stranger; “ go and tell him.”

Polly disappeared and presently returned with answer, that Mr. Bolderby was not out of bed yet, and that he would not be in his office until after nine o'clock.

“ Humph," said the stranger ; " but I suppose you didn't tell him I wanted to sink some money with him!”

“No, I didn't,” said Polly.

“Well, do ; I want to sink ten thousand pounds in an annuity upon my own life," -and in saying this the stranger spoke very loudly, as if he had suddenly found out that Polly Phemah was not only blind of one eye, but deaf of one ear, if not both. He had scarcely mentioned the ten thousand pounds when a bell rang and a distant voice was heard calling, “Polly !”.

“Stop !" said that domestic to the stranger, "that's my master;" and off she ran up stairs.

“Oh, sir, please,” shouted Polly, coming tumbling back again, almost the next minute, "you are to step into the office, Mr. Bolderby will be down directly.”

The stranger accordingly stepped into the office and sat himself down in Mr. Bolderby's well stuffed clients' chair. He had scarcely had time to read the words—“Sir H. Pottleboy, Bart.,” on a japanned tin box, which stood first in the rank of a dozen others on Dar. Bolderby's shelves, when Mr. Bolderby himself rushed into the room. Mr. Bolderby had evidently dressed in a great hurry. He had neglected to put on his neckcloth, bis waistcoat was buttoned awry, and one of his braces was hanging down under his coat tails behind.

“ Mr. Bolderby, I believe !" said the stranger.

" Mr. Bolderby, at your service, sir ; pray be seated-and-ah-whom may I have the honour of-ah-?"

"My name,” said the stranger, “is Pouncer-Mr. Pouncer of Fairley Lodge.”

Ab, Mr. Pouncer of Fairley Lodge ; most happy to make your acquain. tance, Mr. Pouncer ; you are a new comer in this neighbourhood, sir ; but report has already been busy with your praises-- busy with your praises ;" and Mr. Bolderbý repeated the words as if he thought the expression & happy one.

“ You are very good," said Mr. Pouncer ; “but if you will have no objection, Mr. Bolderby, we will come at once to business."

Certainly, sir; business, Mr. Pouncer, must be attended to," said Mr. Bolderby, with the same air of satisfaction at having said something rather good.

“Well, then, to come to the point at once, Mr. Bolderby, I wish to sink £10,000 in an annuity on my own life, and I want to know what you will give me for that sum."

"Well, Mr. Pouncer," said Mr. Bolderby, “ you must be aware that the price of an annuity is regulated by the circumstances of the case-the of the party, the state of his health ; in fact, the probabilities of his life.”

“ Yes, exactly, Mr. Bolderby; but my object in coming to you, in preference to an annuity office, is just to get rid of all that bother. My age is fifty-three—there is the certificate of my birth-and as far as my health and probabilities of life as you call them, you must judge from what you see of me ;” and the stranger stood up to let Mr. Bolderby have a good view of him at all points.

“Well, really, Mr. Pouncer, this is rather a precipitate way of doing business, and

“Very well, Mr. Bolderby," said the stranger, rising, "if you are not prepared to do business with me, I must apply to your neighbour, Mr. Mortimer, who will perhaps be more ready to

"Stay, stay, one moment, I beg," said Mr. Bolderby; "oblige me by resuming your seat, Mr. Pouncer, while I make a rough calculation." Mr. Bolderby figured for a few

moments on his blotting pad, and, then addressing his visitor, said-—"What do you say to five per cent., Mr. Pouncer ?"

"Oh ridiculous ! absurd ! monstrous !" exclaimed that gentleman, rising, and putting on his hat, “monstrous, monstrous ! I won't take less than fifteen per cent., not a farthing:”

"Well, well, my dear sir, don't go yet," begged Mr. Bolderby, as he saw his client moving towards the door," let us talk the matter over; let us see if we cannot ineet each other. Now, what do you say to .?"

“I beg your pardon, Mr. Bolderby," interposed the stranger, “but, before you proceed any further, can you let me have some liquor? Talking, you know, is dry work."

By all means, my dear sir," said Bolderby, "let me offer you a glass of wine."

"Excuse me, Mr. Bolderby," said the client, “but I prefer brandy, if it is the same thing to you."

“Quite the same, my dear sir," said Bolderby, fetching a bottle of brandy and a glass from a cupboard. « Now help yourself, Mr. Pouncer.”

Mr. Pouncer did help himself. He poured out and tossed off two brimming glasses of brandy one after the other, Mr. Bolderby looking on in blank amazement. Having filled his glass a third time, the eccentric client observed, “Half a pint or from that to a pint of brandy every morning before breakfast, Mr. Bolderby, is pretty well. Couldn't get on without it. Somne folks are all of a titter-totter, sir, until they get their brandy. Pretty good brandy that of yours. But now to business. You were about to observe, Mr. Bolderby, --—".

"I was about to observe," said that gentleman, " that is to say, I was about to advance my offer to-to nine per cent."

"I won't take it, Mr. Bolderby, there!” and Mr. Pouncer put a practical mark of admiration to the word “ there!" by swallowing a third glass of brandy.

“Half a pint of brandy, or from that to a pint, every morning before

[ocr errors]

breakfast," thought Mr. Bolderby to himself, "if he carry on that game, he is not likely to want his annuity very long."

“ Well, Mr. Pouncer, let us say ten per cent.".

“No-no,"exclaimed the client, impatiently, “I won't take ten per cent., I won't take twelve per cent., I won't take twelve and a half, nor twelve and three quarters—I'll take nothing less than fifteen,"and Mr. Pouncer dashed out another glass of brandy, with so reckless and unsteady a hand that half of it went over Mr. Bolderby's docketted papers. The client swallowed a fourth glass of brandy, and again protested that he would accept nothing less than fifteen per cent. Mr. Bolderby begged of him to be reasonable-ten per cent. was a fair offer, a very fair offer. The client insisted, in a very thick voice, that it was not a fair offer; and at last put on his hat, and staggered towards the door, declaring that he would apply to Mr. Bolderby's rival, Mr. Mortimer. Mr. Bolderby followed him with the offer of another one per cent., but the client declined to listen to anything less than his terms, and bade Mr. Bolderby good morning. As Mr. Pouncer was evidently the worse for the brandy, he had taken, Mr. Bolderby stood at the open door to see him mount his horse. After many blundering attempts, Mr. Pouncer got into the saddle ; but he was scarcely in it before he was out of it again-over the horse's back, and sprawling at his full length in the street. Mr. Bolderby ran to assist him, and finding him apparently little the worse, though in a fair way of breaking his neck in the course of the day, made an advance of one per cent. on the spot.

There, you had better come back, Mr. Pouncer, I'll give you fourteen per cent., fourteen per cent is a good offer," said Mr. Bolderby, coaxingly.

“Fourteen per cent. be blessed,” growled Mr. Pouncer, as he made a fresh attempt to mount his steed on the wrong side. The client was again unlucky, for he no sooner reached the saddle than he tumbled off a second time. Mr. Bolderby, assisted by Polly Phemah, who was now on the spot, with a select but excited audience of females with house brooms in their hands, raised the client to a sitting position on the pavement, and anxiously inquired if he had hurt himselt much. The client replied, "nothing to speak of-he had only broken his ribs, or his spine, or something," upon which Mr. Bolderby whispered quite confidentially to the client that he was prepared to meet his figure, and give him fifteen per cent. The client then allowed himself to be led back to Mr. Bolderby's office, where, after partaking of another glass of brandy, the little matter of the annuity was arranged to his satisfüction.

Mr. Pouncer eventually took his departure for Fairley Lodge, apparently by no means secure of his seat on the back of his mettlesome grey mare ; and Mr. Bolderley was left to his reflections. The first thing Mr. Bolderby did on closing the door on his new client was to call his servant, “Polly!Polly Phemah!” “ Here I am, sur !"

“Now, Polly Phemab, answer meDid you ever know anybody who drank brandy ?”

“Shure an' I've known a many, sur, and whisky too."

“ Yes, Polly Phemah,” said her master,“ but did you ever know any one who drank brandy, who made a practice—you understand me-of drinking brandy before breakfast ?

“Ah, an' now you remind me," said Polly, “my ould master-leastwise, he wasn't ould in himself like-but a master I had when I first went to sarvice, Mr. O'Grady was his name

“Well, well, Polly Phemah, did he drink brandy before breakfast ?” “ Faith, an' he did, sur, every morning.”

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »