Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

was famous in the Church for his zeal and his munificent charity, emancipated 1,400 slaves, saying that those who have God as their father, should not be the slaves of men. He, too, gave them liberal means for starting in life. Melanie gave, with the consent of her husband, liberty to 8,000 slaves; Ovinius to 5,000. These examples were followed by Christians who were less wealthy. In the beginning of the fourth century three brothers liberated their seventy-five slaves. Augustin announced to the people in one of his homilies, that several of the clergy of the Church of Hippo had emancipated the slaves whom they possessed. There can be no doubt that there were many acts of this kind, but the historians, struck only with the most splendid instances recorded, fail to take account of the less notable.

Whilst rich Pagans arranged in their wills that the blood of the slaves should flow in the circus in honour of their memory, the Church taught Christian masters to bequeath liberty to their slaves, and to leave them legacies in their wills. Enfranchisement itself was clothed with a solemn ecclesiastical character. From the third century onwards, masters were accustomed to emancipate their slaves in the Church, and in presence of the clergy and of the faithful, without the old formalities of the heathen ritual. That this pious custom might be stamped with authority and properly regulated, the African councils, held at the beginning of the fourth century, asked the emperor to decree that all acts of emancipation should be made in the Church. He who wished to manumit a slave led him by the hand to the altar; there the act of manumission was read, by which the master set his slave at liberty because he had found him faithful in all things; the priest then gave his benediction, and the

act, elevated thus to the dignity of a religious ceremony, had a profounder sense and a more real value than civil emancipation in the Pagan world. The Christian slave, thus enfranchised, obtained a complete and honourable freedom; he entered , the community of his brethren surrounded with as much respect as if he had never been a slave.

Note.—At the close of a learned article, on "The Works and Disceveriesof Greek and Roman Archteology in France and other countries in recent years," which appeared in the Rtimt des Deux Morula, May 1,1864, written by the distinguished scholar, H. Gaston Boussier, this striking passage occurs. After describing the formulas of Emancipation that were enforced in Greece, and the growing frequency and the security of emancipation even among the pagans in the Roman empire during the first three centuries of the Christian era, M. Boussier writes:— "The Greek religion which could thus, by accident, come in aid of the slaves, and protect them, never created any doubt as to the legitimacy of the masters' rights, or condemned the principle of slavery. Not to it was reserved the honour of its destruction. In order that we may feel what was wanting on those acts of enfranchisement over which it presided, and what made those acts fruitless for humanity, M. Fouoart, at the end of his 'Memoir,' compares the inscription at Delphi with a papyrus lately discovered in Upper Egypt. It is the letter of a Christian to his slaves, which ends with these words: "I declare, voluntarily, of my own free will, and without regret, that I give you your freedom in homage to God, who is full of compassion, and in grateful acknowledgment, of the good will you have always shown me, of your affection and your services.' There is here no ransom for the slave to pay, no hard restrictions or burdensome obligations. Freedom complete and immediate is given to him freely, but, above all, how the tone of him who speaks is changed! How little does this tender and touching manner of speech resemble those hard formulas engraven on the wall of Delphi, according to which the master 'sold to the god a body male or female, named Menaschus or Sosia.' We feel that a profound revolution has been effected, and that a new spirit has breathed over the world."

THE PRIDE OF 1

BY THE AUTHOR OF "CEDAR CREEK,"" VI.

THE HELTER-SKELTERS.

The neighbourhood of Kyle was what is called a sporting country; and the hounds which hunted it were the renowned Helter-Skelters. whose meet on the first Monday of the new year took place at the Earl of Bar-sinister's.

This was one of that nobleman's duties to his county, performed every season after Christmas. He would give a hunting breakfast, not one of the dejeuners which may occur at five in the afternoon, but a genuine morning meal; and, punctually at eleven, the company would issue forth to examine ;other covers than those redolent of fried ham and kidneys. Not that the noble host cared himself for what our French neighbours designate "le sport;" he would merely ride on Ids steady grey cob to see the hounds throw off, and " gone away !" was his signal to go home at the quiet jog-trot which suits the gout. But he was lordlieutenant of the county, and considered himself at the head of everything generally, and bound to patronise everything, from the national school to the coursing-club.

The long tables of the dining-hall were packed with men in many varieties of costume, from the conventional "leathers and tops" to the common shooting-coat and gaiters; the room lit up by patches of scarlet in several shades, including the stainless new coat fitting like a glove on my lord Argentine, heir to the earldom, and the faded "pink" of the habitue, who had aired it at a hundred meets. And to overhear the conversation, you would think that there was nothing in the world of interest besides horses and dogs, nor anything to do in life but hunt foxes and hares.

Meanwhile, people were gathering outside; not only grooms with horses, and the ragged fringe inseparable from any assemblage in Ireland, but also people in vehicles, and lady

HE LATYMERS.

FROM DARK TO DAWN IN ITALY," ETC.

riders, come to see the meet. The hounds were also arrived, and restless enough, running off on false scents in twos andthrees, and recovering themselves from the mistake with a whine. It was a pretty sight; all in front of the grey old castle, which looked quite as much of a cotton-mill at one end, and of a Gothic church at the other, as of a fortress in the midst, that had stood a day's siege from Oliver Cromwell. But this melange of styles was owing to the varying tastes of the Barsinister ancestors; and the result was too comfortable within for censure. What cared the noble owner for certain caustic remarks in the book of a tourist to whom he had not been civil, embodying chiefly Dean Swift's observation that an Irish residence is generally close to a good site? He knew more than one litterateur of the lighter sort, who was perfectly ready to produce "Ireland and her Institutions," (two vols., foolscap octavo, gilt harp smothered in shamrocks, on grassgreen cover, with the usual humourous illustrations and bad spelling interspersed, amid a final settlement of Irish questions, social, political, and religious.) on being invited for a week to partake of the hospitalities of Bar-sinister castle; which compliment would be returned by a delicate typographical eulogium on the architecture, or anything else.

Of course Lancelot Latymer was among the guests; indeed some people, envious at having no grand relations themselves, were good enough to intimate that he was one of the retinue of poorer cousins generally hanging about great houses. For his father's embarrassments were widely known in the county, notwithstanding the four-inhand, and the baronial entrance, and other' ostrich like expedients; of which, in so far as they were intended to hide anything, the head of the family must be acquitted. He would as soon have believed in the falling of that sky which is to net all the larks, as in the collapse of the house of Latymer through want of the vulgar necessity called money. But his lady-wife had a very lively notion of tie value of keeping up appearances.

"Good scenting weather, eh, Phil?" remarked her son, riding up alongside the grizzled huntsman as they crossed the park towards the nearest cover. "I was afraid we were going to have too much sun."

The old man turned up his sourlooking, weather-beaten visage to the clouded sky. "'Tisn't so good as you think, sir: they'll be apt to be disturbed by cross-scents, it lies so heavy; but sure, its no business of mine, as long as the quality is plased;" and he administered a cut of his long whip to an errant hound at his right hand, which produced a yelp in a diverse key.

"Foxes are not so plenty as to confuse them, I fancy:" and then ensued a highly instructive conversation respecting the pack and its performances. Thus Lancelot escaped the company of sundry young ladies celebrated for cross-country work and following the hounds at all hazards, among whom he had gained the same of a woman-hater and a bear. But he had his own ideas—and not so incorrect, either —about feminine perfections; among which the topping of a five-barred gate was not included.

"They've found !" shouted he pre-senfly, as half-a-dozen of the hounds cocked their heads and ran a few cards, howling that howl which is music in the ears of a Nimrod, though B most evil discord in the ears of anybody else. "Stole away!" After some excitable flourishing of the lash on old Phil's part, the whole pack were in full-cry, rushing forward carnivorous with one accord.

"Splendid burst!" quoth the litunan wiseacres who followed the (logs, who followed their iustinct. The traces of poor Reynard's morning walk had verily been discovered, and a large odds of animal force, to say nothing of human intelligence, ■as bent on capturing his brush,— which is a polite euphemism for the amusement of taking away his life.

And to preserve his brush (which foxes have a great objection to losing, since jEsop's fable), as well as the other trifle involved in its loss, Reynard made for an earth that he knew well,—a deep hole among large mossy crags in a thick copse about two miles off; where, to say truth, his wife and young family found summer quarters. But soon he found the pace was too fast on level lands, and he was obliged to double, and head up a long hill intersected with watercourses and walls of loose stones, at sight of which tactics most of the young lady riders "slowed," and drew off, with lengthened faces.

Now, the other side of this long hill, facing south, presented more of a cultivated aspect; there furzebushes, and heather, and scrubby pasturage, gave place to efforts at tillage; and on the lower slopes stood the bran-new house and grounds of Mr. Charley, looking as if they, and the spiky trees, had been just popped out of a toy-box, clean and fresh-finished. And here Reynard experienced an unlooked-for deliverance. He had been compelled to double again, and take the hill-side along under a wall for some distance; and as the pack neared the plantations they wavered, divided, scattered on some new scent.

"Another fox!" thought Lancelot, who generally made it a point of honour to be in at "the death;" "it's true for that crusty old Phil." But this was not another fox; he caught sight almost immediately of a terrified bound given by some creature greatly larger than a fox, and who got away by long jerking strides distinctly visible.

"Miss Charley's pet deer!" and Lancelot pulled his horse on its haunches in a sort of consternation. He had seen her fondling the pretty bright-eyed beast, and feeding it from her hand, only the day before. It must have somehow strayed from its paddock beyond bounds; and now the poor animal rushed frantically up the hills away from help, in its bewilderment.

"If she would only make for the house and offices!" But whatever sort of simulation of thinking goes on at any time in a fawn's brain, was quite dissipated in the maddening desire to get beyond the reach of the horrible dogs. The entire pack were after her now with a dreadful unanimity; while Reynard nestled at the root of a hollow tree, among fir-cones and a strong odour of turpentine, gathering breath as he listened to the receding music, and scarce believing that his brush was safe for this time.

"A pound-note for you, Phil, if you save her!" roared Lancelot, striking spurs into his steed. "She'll be torn in pieces before anyone's up, unless there's some way of making a short cut."

•' If she'd only head down to the water, and break the scent," muttered the old huntsman, gathering up his reins. "But the crathur wont have the sense. Bad manners to thim that owns her, for spoiling our da3''s sport, anyhow!"

Young Latymer was far beyond the reach of his growl ere it concluded. He rode as if on a steeplechase, even- nerve and sinew strained, as he had scarce ever ridden in his life before. Two or three of the more daring riders followed him, though they had not much liking for the loose walls aforesaid, and kept a careful lookout for the breaches. Old Phil, quickened by the prospect of the "pound-note," was doing his best to cut in between the dogs and their prey; but not being so well mounted as Mr. Latymer, he also declined sundry difficult leaps, as he had an allowable regard for his own neck. And a muttering of this sort ran through his brain :—

"Take the sunk fence, is it?" seeing how the dogs were tumbling down a wide ditch with grey stonework making one side perpendicular. "Faix, an' I hope I know better than to risk my ould bones where the major split his skull last Aisther Monday was a twelvemonth. For all the deers in Connaught I wouldn't; an' I'm afeard it 'll put the Bluebottle himself to the pin of his collar.'

This was the name of Lancelot's

hunter. "Troth, an' maybe he remembers the major's little misfortune: see how he baulks at the fence, the image of a human Christhen! Misther Lance! Misther Lance!" he shouted, " that's no leap for the likes of the Blue-bottle—he'll never do it: an' sure, the weeahy crathur of a deer isn't worth yer Villin' yerself?"

If young Latymer heard, he heeded not, but flogged and spurred his gallant horse to another attempt. After which he remembered little more than an apparently general concussion of nature, caused by his being pitched headlong amid a whirl and rush of sparks, extinguished in universal blackness.

VII.

Nurse's Summary.

Once or twice a lapse into semiconsciousness—once or twice a glimpse of knowledge that somebody was in pain, and fevered, and restless, yet with no distinct apprehension that it was himself, or that he had any surroundings beyond a general wavering of objects, liable to settle back into the universal blackness: once or twice a looming of faces us if evolved from a fog and a sounding of voices as over a distance filled with surging sea: these were the sole sensations of Lancelot Latymer, ere he one night opened calm eyes again.

Calm, but undiscerning at first, like a baby's. He did not recognise, for some little time, that he was in a totally strange place, in a room which he had never seen before, and where the furniture certainly looked unearthly by reason of the strong shadows cast from a hidden light set low. How wonderfully weak he was! Why had he slept so long'.' Something had happened, but what it was he could not recall to mind.

Perhaps somebody was sitting up with him. Indeed, from the shaded candle, it was more than probable. Bright thought! Having arrived at this stage of his reflections, he proceeded from cogitation to action. and uttered a quavering—" Halloo there!"

"Cushla machree!" was the immediate answer, amid the hurried rustling of a woman's dress. "Sure I was only strainin' yer barleywater at the fire in the other room. Oh. then. Misther Lancelot, darlin', the core of my heart, it's meselfthat blesses the Lord above in heaven for to say I hear yer own sweet voice again, sensible, this night!" The poor woman fell on her knees by the bedside, clasping his hand, and covering it with kisses, and then poured forth her thanksgiving and love in a fervid outburst of the Irish language, half prayer, half rhapsody of joy.

•• Nurse, where am I?" when she had subsided into gazing on the beloved face of her foster-son with tearful eyes. "Not at Kyle, certainly."

•• Oh ! musthore mavrone," as she sat back on her heels and rocked herself. "but he doesn't know where he is, after all!" Then, in a coaxing tone, "Sure yer at Mr. Charley's house, honey, an' gettin' the very hoighth of good tratement, though they aren't the rale ould quality all out; more'sthe pity."

"In Mr. Charley's house!" He required a few minutes to digest that statement. Other things dawned on him. "And how long is it since, since ?—"

"Since Blue-bottle pitched ye head foremost at the sunk fence, bad scran to him? Why, thin, it will be a week to-morrow, if it isn't twelve o clock yet, an' a week to-day if it is."

Events in his background at once became clear. He lay thinking of the run with the Helter-Skelters, the effort to save the farm, the baulk at the desperate leap.

"Sure ye came against the stone wall, honey, an' no mortal head could stand that: an' they said ye had a cousin' o' the brain afther it; an' signs-by they didn't lave a hair on yer beautiful head but was shaved as clane as the palm of me hand, wirrasthru!"

This accounted for a remarkable lightness and coolness of which he

VOL. I.

was conscious about the skull. And so he had suffered concussion of the brain! Aye, and a touch of brainfever afterwards.

"It was the doctors took off my hair, I suppose, nurse?"

"Aye, the doctors ! Bother 'em for doctors ; sure ye had four of 'em, tall an' short, fat an' thin. An' when I see the fourth comin', oh," sez I, "they're determined to do for my darlin' child entirely! I never hear of anyone to recover after three, let alone four. An' 'twould disthruct a rookery to hear 'em talkin' about the bones in yer head: an' then they wint down stairs to have a conshultation, which manes cake and wine, maybe, for it's a power of that same they ate an' Shrank, as Pat, the butler, tould me afther. But there's only two of 'em comes now, ourown Docthor Magan, an'another, a little chap. An' be the same token," she said, rising to her feet, "they told me not to dare tell ye a word if such a thing happened that ye opened yer eyes an' spake sinsible. I forgot it till this minit', an' troth, I'll be kilt, for they're mighty cunning intirely for knowing what goes on behind their backs. Go to sleep now, honey, an' compose yourself comfortable, though I don't think meself it was they did it at all!" she added whisperingly, as she arranged the counterpane.

"Did what?"

"Cured ye, acushla. Shure, I promised a score o' rounds at St. Synau's blessed well next Lady-day, an' a score more on Peter an' Paul's, one momin' they thought ye were very bad altogether; an' 'twas that done it."

"How are my father and mother?" he asked, wearily.

"The poor masther comes over every day regular, sir, an' sits in that chair, lookin' at ye; an' once I see the tears a-rollin' down his cheeks when he thought nobody was mindin' him. The missus topk to her bed, awful bad intirely wid that new Ralgy she do have;" thus nurse pronounced the fashionable malady for which our grandmothers had a plainer name, and which she firmly believed to be a novel ailment expressly appertaining to the higher orders.

N

« ElőzőTovább »