Page images

had a leg the less to feed, and my last pence were fast disappearing. It is true I had met my former captain, who remembered that I had got him out of a scuffle at Monteran, by lending him my horse, and that he had offered me a place at his fire and candle. I knew he had married, a year before, a country-house and not a few farms; so that I might have become perpetual brusher to a millionaire, which was not without its attractions. It only remained to be considered whether there was nothing that I was fitted for better. One evening I was thinking the matter over, and it seemed to me that I ought not to accept his offer. I reflected that there were many old soldiers incapable of work, whereas my arms and trunk were in a sound condition ; and, finally, I came to the conclusion that I should not be justified in lying by while I was still able to do a day's hard work. I next went to a former member of the artillery, who had returned to his home at Clamart, and resumed his occupation at the quarry, and there I obtained employment. After a few months at this work I had become a pretty good hand. Unfortunately, there were some among us who were too sensible to the charms of cognac; so much so that one day one of them, who was in a condition in which he was unable to distinguish his right hand from his left, took it into his head to strike a light close to a charged mine: the mine exploded and sent a volley of stones among us, which killed three and knocked away my arm close to the shoulder.”

“Thus you were again without a trade ?"

“That is to say, it was necessary to change,” he quietly replied. “The difficulty was to find one which would be content with five fingers instead of ten. I found it, however."

“Where was that?"
“ Among the Paris street-scavengers.”

“What! you belonged . ?" . “To the 'salubrity squad;' a little, neighbour—and that was not when I was worst off. The mass of the scavengers are not so bad as they are dirty, mind you. Among them were old actresses who had not known how to practise economy, merchants ruined on the stock exchange; we even had a professor of a college among us, who, for a glass of brandy, would recite you Latin or tragedies at your option. I don't mean to say that

any It is now

of these could have competed for the Monthyon prize ;* but misery makes us tolerant of vice, and good humor consoles misery. I was just as ragged and just as gay as any of them; only I endeavoured, even in the filth of the kennel, to act upon my conviction that no kind of work could disgrace a man which was useful to his fellow-creatures." Still you

ended by quitting your new profession ? “ And for a sufficient reason, neighbour; scavengers rarely have dry feet, and the damp at last caused the wounds on my remaining leg to break out afresh, so that I could no longer follow the squad. I was forced to lay down my arms. two months since I labored at the purification of Paris. At first I was a little stunned. Of my four members there only remained my right hand, and that had lost most of its strength. I tried a good many things, and at last hit upon pasteboard making; and here I am, a maker of pasteboard for the cockades of the National Guard. It is not a very lucrative employment, but it is an art which is not above the reach of the meanest capacity. By getting up at four o'clock and working till eight, I earn sixty-five centimes (6d). All but three sous of this goes for food and lodging. I am thus richer than the nation, for there is an equilibrium between my receipts and expenses, and I still continue to serve my country, since I economise their cockades."

The old man looked at me and smiled, as he uttered these words, and then resumed his work with increased activity,

I felt sad and pensive. Here, thought I, is another member of that sacred band who, in the combat of life, march always in the van for the example of the world. Each has his battle-cry~ this one country, that family, and this other humanity; but all follow the same standard, that of duty; each acts under the same divine law, self-denial.

Half Hours with Foreign Authors.

* A prize given for the encouragement of the practice of virtue.

AN INQUSITIVE YANKEE. THERE was a man on board our boat with a light, fresh-colored face, and a pepper-and-salt suit of clothes, who was the most inquisitive fellow that can possibly be imagined. He never spoke otherwise than interrogatively. He was an embodied inquiry. Sitting down or standing up, still or moving, walking the deck or taking his meals, there he was, with a great note of interrogation in each eye, two in his cocked ears, two more in his turned-up nose and chin, and at least half a dozen more about the corners of his mouth, and the largest one of all in his hair, which was brushed pertly off his forehead in a flaxen clump. Every button in his clothes said.--"Eh? What's that ? Did you speak ? Say that again, will you ?” He was always wide awake, like the enchanted bride who drove her husband frantic-always restless; always thirsting for answers ; perpetually seeking and never finding.

There never was such a curious man. I wore a fur great-coat at that time, and before we were well clear of the wharf, he questioned me concerning it—where I bought it, and when, and what fur it was, and what it weighed, and what it cost? Then he took notice of my watch, and asked what that cost, and whether it was a French watch, and where I got it, and how I got it, and whether I bought it, or had it given me, and how it went, and where the keyhole was, and when I wound it, every night or every morning, and whether I ever forgot to wind it at all, and if I did, what then? Where had I been to last, and where was I going next, and where was I going after that, and had I seen the President, and what did he say, and what did I say, and what did he say when I had said that ? Eh ? La now! do tell !

Finding that nothing would satisfy him, I evaded his questions after the first score or two, and in particular pleaded ignorance respecting the name of the fur whereof the coat was made. I am unable to say whether this was the reason, but that coat fascinated him ever afterwards. He usually kept close behind me as I walked, and moved as I moved, that he might look at it the better; and he frequently dived into narrow places after me at the risk of his life, that he might have the satisfaction of passing his hand up the back, and rubbing it the wrong way.

Charles Dickens.


It is of importance not only that we should do good, but that we should do it in the best manner. A little judgment and a little reflection added to the gift doubles the value. Now, it is lamentable to see how ignorant the poor are. I do not mean of reading and writing, but about the common affairs of life.

They are as helpless as children in all difficulties. Nothing would be so useful as some short and cheap book, to instruct them what to do, to whom to go, and to give them a little advice-I mean, mere practical advice. I have begun something of this sort for my parishioners. Here it is :

If you begin stealing a little, you will go on from little to much, and soon become a regular thief; and then you will be hanged or sent over seas; and, give me leave to tell you, transportation is no joke. Up at five in the morning, dressed in a jacket half blue half yellow; chained on to another person, like two dogs; a man standing over you with a great stick; weak porridge for breakfast; bread and water for dinner; boiled beans for supper ; straw to lie upon: and all this for thirty years; and then you are hanged there, by order of the governor, without judge or jury. All this is very disagreeable, and you had far better avoid it by making a solemn resolution to take nothing which does not belong to you.

Never sit in wet clothes. Off with them as soon as you can. No constitution can stand it. Look at Jackson, who lives next door to the blacksmith; he was the strongest man in the parish. Twenty different times I warned him of his folly in wearing wet clothes. He pulled off his hat and smiled, and was very civil, but clearly seemed to think it all old woman's nonsense. He is now, as you see, bent double with rheumatism, is living upon parish allowance, and scarcely able to crawl from pillar to post.

I will have no swearing. There is pleasure in a pint of ale, but what pleasure is there in an oath ? A swearer is a low vulgar person. Swearing is not fit for a tinker or a razor-grinder, much less for an honest laborer in my parish.

I must positively forbid all poaching; it is absolute ruin to yourself and your family. In the end you are sure to be detected—a hare in one pocket and a pheasant in the other. How are you to pay ten pounds ? You have not ten pence beforehand in the world. Daniel's breeches are unpaid for ; you have a hole in your hat, and want a new one; your wife, an excellent woman, is lying ill; and you are, all of a sudden, called upon by the justice to pay ten pounds. I shall never forget the sight of poor Cranford, hurried to Taunton gaol—a wife and three daughters on their knees to the justice, who was compelled to do his duty, and commit him. The next day, beds, chairs, and clothes sold, to get the father out of gaol. Out of gaol he came; but the poor fellow could not bear the sight of his naked cottage, and to see his family pinched with hunger. You know how he ended his days. Was there a dry eye in the churchyard when he was buried? It was a lesson to poachers. It is, indeed, a desperate and foolish trade. Observe, I am not defending the game laws, but I am advising you, as long as the game laws exist, to fear them, and to take care that you and your family are not crushed by them. And, then, smart stout young men hate the gamekeeper, and make it a point of courage and spirit to oppose him. Why? The gamekeeper is paid to protect the game, and he would be a very dishonest man if he did not do his duty. What right have you to bear malice against him for this ? After all, the game in justice belongs to the landowners, who feed it; and not to you, who have no land at all, and can feed nothing.

I don't like that red nose, and those blear eyes, and that stupid downcast look. You are a drunkard. Another pint, and one pint more; a glass of gin and water, rum and milk, cider and pepper, a glass of peppermint, and all the beastly fluids which drunkards pour down their throats. It is very possible to conquer it, if you will but be resolute.

I remember a man in Staffordshire who was drunk every day of his life. Every farthing he earned went to the ale-house. One evening he staggered home, and found at a late hour his wife sitting alone, and drowned in tears. He was a man not deficient in natural affections; he appeared to be struck with the wretchedness of the woman, and with some eagerness asked her why she was crying. “I don't like to tell you, James,” she said, “but if I must, I must; and truth is, my children have not touched a morsel of

« PreviousContinue »