Page images
PDF
EPUB

visitation compelling to monthly instead of weekly communions : “he said that having the Holy Communion every Sunday was a new doctrine and of their own making; that it was against his own mind when they began it,” &c. We hear of Byrom's Jacobite friend, Dr. Deacon, “having a design for a new and correct translation” of the Scriptures, which, however, he “wisely abandoned,” the editor says. We hear of Mr. Pollard the parson, “an old, briskish man, that would not for his houseful of gold let Mr. Ingham preach in his church, and if Wesley was there would smite him." (1744.) In 1747 Byrom travels from Cambridge to London in a post-chaise, and glorifies the speed: “We had a nimble

passage, not staying to dine upon the road; we set out about nine, and came hither about five or six.” He takes us to a meeting of the Royal Society," where one Ferguson brought a new sort of orrery to show the

appearances of sun, moon, and earth, harvest moon, eclipses, &c., in a very neat, pretty, simple manner, which was much approved of.” He makes a morning call at my Lord Morton's, and Lady M. and her sister tell him “about their confinement in the Bastile at Paris, where they were not used so well as might be expected from French politeness and English quality. We had an article in the newspapers here t'other day insinuating that the young Pretender was demolished in some shape or other in Scotland, notwithstanding the stories of his escape ; but these ladies told me that they had seen both him and his brother at Paris since that affair ; the elder brother it seems has a much better character abroad than the younger.*

A little child of my Lord's, of sixteen months old, was in the Bastile too, because his mamma, the sister, and nurse, would have him with 'em, and died soon after, and was in an upper room where two cannon placed upon the top of the place or battlements of the Bastile were fired upon some occasion, which they thought had an effect upon the child.” (1748.) The next extract would almost do as well for 1858 as a hundred and ten years earlier—witness a recent experience: “ This day [14th July, 1748] the eclipse took up the attention of the public; but I fancy the common people, having been so much alarmed about its darkness and birds falling to the ground, &c., will think the learned were out in their calculations, for it was so light at the very height of it as not to be thought on without being told.” About the same date occurs the entry, “ I heard Mr. Whitfield preach in Moorfields, or rather not heard him, for the crowd and sun and wind were too great. I dined with Commodore Townshend (and some other gentlemen at Dr. Harding's this week), who is a bitter enemy to him (Whitfield], caned him in the Indies, and told twenty stories about him that I can't think were all exactly true, but that he might omit or forget something." How admirable Byrom's charity, both to the preacher and the sea-captain-to the latter as unintentionally inexact, to the former, "Leuconomus," as most undeservedly

The very butt of slander, and the blot

For every dart that malice ever shot. Here we must conclude.—In losing the learned editor of these “ Remains," Canon Parkinson, the Chetham Society have lost a cordial and working friend. He lived just long enough to finish this, a real labour of love, and his last. From that and all his labours he rests now.

At pp. 466 sqq. will be found a full and interesting account of the celebrated arrest of Prince Charles, on alighting at the door of the Opera House in Paris, Dec., 1748.

601

THE LION'S BREATH,

THERE is a philosophy even in lion-hunting. The monarch of the forest, or rather of the wilderness, considered by Michelet as inferior to a bird in powers and attributes, as well as in the enjoyment of life, and far too extravagantly extolled by the renowned lion-killer Jules Gérard, and the recorder of his exploits, Alexandre Dumas, sen., is not a mere machine. He has his instincts—nay, possibly also his passions, his reasonings, and his sentiments. The magnanimity of the lion has become proverbial; why also may he not have his preferences and his predilection?

Jules Gérard and his literary exponent, Alexandre Dumas, have raked up an old Arab legend in connexion with the Mauritaniau lion, illustrating what has been hitherto an unknown or little noticed peculiarity in that animal; and they have then carried it out in one of those recent instances which seem to be inexhaustible, and which, after filling a volume to their own account, now help to swell the pages of the fertile romancer's so-called “Causeries." The legend in question is as curious as it is interesting, and the recent illustration given of the same peculiarity is very striking. The only drawback is that they do not agree. The philosophy is not the same in both. This we suppose is a very minor consideration to a daring slayer of lions and a dashing romancer, but to the naturalist it is much, and we shall be excused then if, after narrating the facts as far as we can gather them, we proceed to give our own simple version of the matter.

We must premise that Jules Gérard is relating the story to Alexandre Dumas. Gérard is speaking.

“I had,” said the indomitable lion-slayer, " killed the lioness the 19th of July, and from that day to the 27th I had sought constantly, but unsuccessfully, for the lion. I was in my tent with eight or ten Arabs; some of them were followers of mine, others were inhabitants of the douair in which I then was. We were talking.”

“About what?” put in the anxious reporter.

“ About lions, to be sure! When one goes out lion-hunting, one talks about nothing but lions. An old Arab was relating a legend to me which had occurred some centuries back to a girl of his tribe.”

“ And to a lion ?"

Yes, to a lion."
"Well, let us have the legend, especially if it is very terrible.”

“Terrible and philosophical. The Arabs are the first philosophers in the world-practical philosophers, I mean, naturally."

“I am listening.”

There was, some hundred years before I came to the tribe—there was in that same tribe a young girl who was very proud; not that she was richer than others-her father had only his tent, his horse, and his gun—but she was very beautiful, and hence her pride. One

day that she had gone to cut wood in the neighbouring forest, she met a lion. For all arms she had only a small hatchet, but if she had had dagger, gun, or rifle, as well as a batchet, she would not have attempted to make use of them, the lion was so powerful, so proud, and so majestic. She began to tremble in all her limbs, and endeavoured to cry out for assistance, but her voice, paralysed

by fear, refused its office. What she dreaded most was, that the lion would make signs to her to follow him, in order that he might devour her at his leisure, and in some quiet, select spot; for lions are not only gastronomes, they are also gourmets. It is not sufficient with them to appease their appetites, they take delight also in gratifying themselves under such conditions of sensuality as shall satisfy all the refinement of their organisation.

to me.

“I admit all that, my dear Gérard, but there is one thing you said which I do not understand.”

“ Which was that ?"

You said, 'What she dreaded most was, that the lion would make signs to her to follow him.'»

“I did so.” “Well?"

“Ask Amida” (one of Gérard's Arabs who accompanied him to Europe) “ if, when a lion meets an Arab, he gives himself the trouble of carrying him off."

Amida shook his head and raised his eyes heaven rds, which might be translated by these words:

Ah! indeed he is not so stupid as that comes to.” I persisted (M. Alexandre Dumas continues), and Amida explained his gesture

It resulted from this explanation that a lion is a magnetiser of a very different calibre to Mesmer, M. de Puységur, or even M. Marcillet

. The lion looks at a man, fascinates him, sends him to sleep, makes him follow him, and the man wakes

up

devoured. It can be readily understood that I was anxious to get at the bottom of this tradition. Amida assured me that one day he had met a lion in the company

of one of his friends, and that the lion tried to magnetise them both, but that while the effect was perfect on his friend, it was only partially so on him. It resulted from this that, preserving full command over himself, he did everything in his power to dissuade the unfortunate victim from obeying the terrible fascinator ; but it was in vain that he begged him, prayed him, held him by his burnouse; the Arab persisted in following the lion, seeing which, Amida, who felt his own powers of resistance growing gradually weaker, prudently made his escape.

This point having been settled and admitted, Gérard continued :

The young girl stopped there, trembling, and expecting that the lion was going to make signs to her to follow, when, on the contrary, to her great surprise, she saw the lion approach her, smile in his own way, and bow after his own fashion,

She crossed her hands upon her breast and said to him : " Lord, what do you ask of your humble servant ?”

The lion answered her neither more nor less than the Orosmane of M. de Voltaire or the Saladin of M. Favart could have done.

“When one is as handsome as thou art, Aissa, one is not a servant, but a queen."

once pleased with the strange softness which the voice of her interlocutor had assumed whilst addressing her, and at the same time surprised that this handsome lion, whom she did not know, and whom she thought she saw for the first time, should know her name.

“Who told you what my name is, my lord ?" asked the young girl.

“The air, that is in love with you, and which, after having blown through your hair, carries the perfume to the roses, saying, 'Aissa! The water, that is in love with you, and which, after bathing thỹ beautiful feet, comes to moisten the moss of my cave, saying, “Aissa ! The bird, that is jealous of you, and which, since he has heard you sing, sings no longer, but dies of spite, saying, Aissa !'”

Aissa was

ease.

The young girl blushed with delight, pretended to draw her hair over her face, but in doing so only allowed the lion to contemplate her beauty more at his

Let the flatterer be a lion or a fox, let the flattered be a young girl or a crow, you see the result of flattery is always the same.

The lion, which ap to that moment had hesitated approaching Aissa, no doubt from the same feeling that made Jupiter dread approaching Semele in all his majesty—the lion took a step or two towards the young girl, but as he saw that she turned pale at his terrible neighbourhood,

"What is the matter with you, Aissa ?” he said, with his tenderest and most anxious voice.

The young girl felt very desirous of speaking the truth, and saying, "I am frightened of you, my lord,” but she did not dare, and she said :

" The Tuariks are not far off, and I am frightened of the Tuariks.”
The lion smiled as only lions can smile.
When you are with me,” he said, “ you ought to fear nothing.”

“ But,” replied the young girl, “I shall not always have the honour of your company; It is getting late, and I am far from my father's tent."

“I will conduct you there," said the lion.

It has sometimes happened in the streets of Paris that a grisette, followed too closely by a student who insisted upon conducting her home, has not only refused her arm, but has, upon his persistance, given him a box on the ear. But never has it happened, in the memory of man, that a young Arab girl has answered in a similar way to a lion who made such a proposal to her, however inconvenient it might appear to her.

Aissa then accepted the offer that was made to her; the lion approached her, raised his mane, and the young girl rested her hand upon it as she would have rested her arm on the arm of her lover, and both walked along as we see old mother Cybele, who is the emblem of fecundity, walk in the Greek bas-reliefs, her hand resting on a lion, the emblem of force; so both walked along towards the tent of Aissa's father.

On their way they met gazelles that fled, hyænas that crouched away, and men and women who went down on their knees.

But the lion said to the gazelles, “ Fly not!" to the hyænas, “Don't be afraid !" to the men and women, “Get up! For the sake of this well-beloved young girl, I will do you no harm !"

And the gazelles ceased to fly, the hyænas were no longer afraid, and the men and women got up, gazing in astonishment at the lion and the young girl, and asking in their idiom of gazelles, in their language of hyænas, and with their voices of men and women, if this lion and that young girl were going on a pil. grimage to the tomb of Muhammad at Mekka.

Aissa and her yellow friend arrived thus together at the douair ; and when they were within a few paces of her father's tent, which was the first on entering the village, the lion stopped and asked the young girl, with all the courtesy of the most delicate cavalier, permission to embrace her.

The young girl stretched out her face, and the lion lightly touched with his terrible lips the red lips of Aissa.

Then making a sign as if to bid farewell, he sat down, as if he was resolved to make quite sure that nothing should befal her in the brief distance that she had still to go over. As she went away the young girl turned round twice or three times, and the lion was still at the same place. At last she entered her father's tent.

“Oh, is that you !” exclaimed the latter, “I was getting anxious about you. I thought you might have met with something unpleasant."

The young girl smiled.
“But you are here, and that is a proof that I was in the wrong."

Indeed, father,” said the young girl, still smiling, “instead of meeting with anything unpleasant, I met with something quite the reverse.”

[ocr errors]

“ What was it?”

I met a lion." Notwithstanding the usual phlegm of an Arab, the father of Aissa turned pale.

A lion!” he exclaimed; "and he did not devour you!" “On the contrary, he paid me compliments on my beauty, volunteered to conduct me home, and came with me here." The Arab thought that his daughter had gone mad.

“Impossible!” he exclaimed, indignantly; “would you try to make me believe that a lion was capable of such politeness?”.

“Come to the door of your tent and you will see him where I left him, or making his way back to the mountains.”

“Stop till I get my gun.”
“What for?" said the haughty damsel, “are you not with me !".

And taking her father by his burnouse she drew him to the tent door. But the lion was no longer where she had left it. Nor could she see anything in the direction by which he had come.

“ Pooh !" said the Arab, on re-entering his tent, “you have had a bad dream.”

“ Father, I swear to you I have him yet before my eyes. A splendid mane, yellow eyes, glittering like gold, and teeth of ivory, only—'

_” The young girl hesitated. “Only what?” asked the Arab.

Only,” she replied, whispering, "he has a carnivorous breath." No sooner had she said these words than a loud roar was heard behind the tent, then another at a distance of about five hundred paces, and then a third about half a mile off. Yet there had been scarcely a minute between each roar.

It was evident that the lion, being desirous of hearing what the young girl said of him, had made a circuit to come and listen behind the canvas of the tent, and not having heard that which was agreeable to him, he had gone away terribly mortified and in a most tremendous passion.

A month elapsed without the young girl thinking any more of the lion, except it was to relate her adventure to her companions. But at the expiration of that time she went to the same place with her hatchet to cut wood. The wood was cut, and she had tied it in a bundle, when she heard a slight noise behind her, and she turned round. The lion was contemplating her from a distance of barely four yards.

“Good day, Aissa,” he said, in a dry tone.

“Good day, my lord,” replied Aissa, her voice trembling a little, for she remembered what she had said of her protector, and she seemed still to hear the three terrible roars which had followed upon it. “Good day, my lord. Can I do anything that will be agreeable to you?”

"You can do me a service.” “ What is it?"

“ Come near me.' Aissa moved up, but with considerable trepidation. “Now raise your hatchet.” The young girl obeyed. “Now strike me on the head with it.”

“Oh, my lord! you do not mean it?”
“On the contrary, I most certainly do. Strike !"
“But, my lord-

Strike, I pray you.
“ Hard or softly?"
“ As hard as you can.”.
“But I shall hurt you."
“ No matter."
“ You wish it?”
“I wish it."

The young girl struck boldly, and the hatchet left a bloody line between the lion's two eyes. It is from that time that lions have that furrow, which is more particularly visible when they frown.

« PreviousContinue »