Oldalképek
PDF

book for the sake of the rhyme in the title. Do you know, doctor, I fancy that incredulity of his will substitute one dash for the two periods in the reverend gentlemen's degree! I know no one greater condition of success in some lines of operation, than to have one's existence thoroughly disbelieved in.” The doctor forced himself to reply: “I hardly know how I came to have the book here. Yet he does make out a pretty strong case. I confess I would like to be certified that he is right. o Oul allow yourself to be convinced?” And the poor fellow grinned; it couldn't be called a smile. “Why, really, I'll look into it. I’ve considered the point though, not that I'm sure I could choose. And you know, as the late J. Milton very neatly observed, one would hardly like to lose one's intellectual being, “though full of pain; ” and he smiled, not unkindly but sadly, and then resumed: “A Bible too. Very good edition. I remember seeing it stated that a professional person made it his business to find errors of the press in one of the Bible Society's editions—this very one, I think; and the only one he could discover was a single ‘wrong font.’ Very accurate work—very !” He had been turning over the leaves indifferently as he spoke, and laid the volume easily back. “Curious old superstition that,” he remarked, “that certain personages were made uncomfortable by this work!” And he gave the doctor a glance, as much as to ask, in the most delicate manner in the world, “Did you put that there to scare me with?’” I think the doctor blushed a little. He had not really expected, you know—still, in case there should be any prophylactic influence—? No harm done, in any event; and that was precisely the observation made by the guest. “No harm done, my dear fellow !” he said, in his calm, quiet, musical voice. No good, either, I imagine they both of them added to themselves. There is an often repeated observation that people under the pressure of an immeasurable misery or agony seem to take on a preternaturally sharp vision for minute details, such as spots in the carpet, and sprigs in the wall-paper, threads on a sleeve, and the like. Probably the doctor felt his influence. He had dallied a

little, too, with the crisis; and so did his visitor—from different motives, no doubt : and, as he sat there, his eye fell on the card that had just been brought to him. “I beg your pardon,” he said; “but might I ask a question about your card?” “Most certainly, doctor: what is it?” “Why—it's always a liberty to ask questions about a gentleman's name, and we Scotchmen are, particularly sensitive on the point; but I have always been interested in the general subject of patronomatology.” The other, by a friendly smile and a deprecating wave of the hand, renewed his welcome to the doctor's question. “Well, it's this: How did you come to decide upon the form of name—Mr. Apollo Lyon 7” “Oh! just a little fancy of mine. It's a newly-invented variable card, I believe they call it. There's a temporary ink arrangement. It struck me it was liable to abuse in case of an assumption of aliases; but perhaps that's none of my business. You can easily take off the upper name, and another one comes out underneath. I'm always interested in inventions. See.” And as the text, “But they have sought out many inventions,” passed through Dr. Hicok's mind, the other drew forth a white handkerchief, and, rubbing the card in a careless sort of way, laid it down before the doctor. Perhaps the strain on the poor doctor's nerves was unsteadying him by this time; he may have been right; but he seemed to see only one name, as if compounded from the former two.

[ocr errors][merged small]

“Well, doctor,” said Mr. Lyon, or whatever his name was, “I don't want to hurry you, but I suppose we might as well have our little business over ?” “Why, yes. I suppose you wouldn't care to consider any question of compromises or substitutes?” “I fear it's out of the question really,” was the reply, most .. in tone, but with perfect distinctness. There was a moment's silence. It seemed to Dr. Hicok as if the beating of his heart must fill the room, it struck so heavily, and the blood seemed to urge with so loud a rush through the carotids up past his ears. “Shall I be found to have gone off with a rush of blood to the head 7” he thought to himself. But— it can very often be done by a resolute effort—he gathered himself together as it were and with one powerful exertion mastered his disordered nerves. Then he lifted his memorandum, gave one glance at the sad, calm face opposite him, and spoke. “You know they're every once in a while explaining a vote, as they call it, in Congress. It don't make any difference I know; but it seems to me as if I should put you more fully, in possession of my meaning, if I should just say a word or two, about the reasons for my selection.” The visitor bowed with his usual air of pleasant acquiescence. “I am aware,” said Dr. Hicok, “that my selection would seem thoroughly commonplace to most people. Yet nobody knows better than you do, my dear sir, that the oldest questions are the newest. The same vitality which is so strong in them. as to raise them as soon as thought begins, is infinite, and maintains them as long as thought endures. Indeed, I may say to you frankly, that it is by no means on novelty, but rather on antiquity, that I rely.” The doctor's hearer bowed with an air of approving interest. “Very 3. reasoned,” he observed. The doctor Went On“I have, I may say—and under the circumstances I shall not be suspected of conceit—made pretty much the complete circuit of unsolved problems. They class exactly as those questions do which we habitually reckon as solved : under the three subjects to which they relate—God, the intelligent creation, the unintelligent

creation. Now, I have selected my questions accordingly—one for each of those divisions. Whether I have succeeded in satisfying the conditions necessary will appear quickly. But you see that I have not stooped to any quibbling, or begging either. I have sought to protect myself by the honorable use .." a masculine reason.” “Your observations interest me greatly,” remarked the audience. “Not the less so, that they are so accurately coincident with my own habitual lines of thought— at least, so far as I can judge from what you have said. Indeed, suppose you had called upon me to help you prepare insoluble problems, I was to. PSuppose, to comply to the best of my o and, if I had done so, those statements of yours are thus far the very preface I supplied—I beg your pardon; should have supplied—you with. I fancy I could almost state the questions. Well?”— All this was most kind and complimentary; but somehow it did not encourage the doctor in the least. He even fancied that he detected a sneer, as if his interlocutor had been saying, “Flutter away old bird That was my bait that you ha been feeding on : you're safe enough; it is my net that holds you.” “First Question,” said Dr. Hicok, with steadiness: “Reconcile the fore-knowledge and the fore-ordination of God with the free will of man.” “I thought so, of course,” remarked the other. Then he looked straight into the doctor's keen little gray eyes with his deep melancholy black ones, and raised his slender forefinger. “Most readily. The reconciliation is your own conscience, doctors Do what you know to be right, and you will find that there is nothing to reconcile—that you and your Maker have no debates to settle !” The words were spoken with a weigh solemnity and conviction that were awful. The doctor had a conscience, though he had found himself practically forced, for the sake of success, to use a good deal of constraint with it—in fact, to lock it up, as it were, in a private madhouse, on an unfounded charge of lunacy. But the obstinate thing would not die, and would not lose its wits; and now all of a sudden, and from , the very last quarter where it was to be expected, came a summons before whose intensity of just re

uirement no bolts could stand. The octor's conscience walked out of her prison, and came straight up to the field of battle and said— “Give up the first question.” And he obeyed. “I confess it,” he said. “But how could I have expected a great basic truth, both religiously and psychologically so, from—from wou?” “Ah! my dear sir,” was the reply: “you have erred in that line of thought, exactly as many others have. The truth is one and the same, to God, man, and devil.” “Second Question,” said Dr. Hicok. “Reconcile the development theory, connection of natural selection and sexual selection, with the responsible immortality of the soul.” “ Unquestionably,” assented the other, as if to say, “Just as I expected.” “No theory of creation has any logical connection with any doctrine of immortality. What was the motive of creation? —that would be a question! . If you had asked me that s But the question, ‘Where did men come from ? has no bearing on the question, ‘Have they any duties now that they are here?’ The two are reconciled, because they do not difer. You can't state any inconsistency between a yard, measure and a fifty-six pound weight.” The doctor nodded; he sat down; he took a glass of water, and pressed his hand to his heart. “Now, then,” he said to himself, “once more! If I have to stand this fifteen minutes I shall be in some other world!” The door from the inner room opened; and Mrs. Hicok came singing in, carrying, balanced upon her pretty pink forefinger, something or other of an airy bouquet-like fabric. Upon this she was looking with much delight. “See, dear!” she said: “how perfectly lovely!” Both gentlemen started, and the lady started too. She had not known of the visit; and she had not, until this instant, seen that her husband was not alone. Dr. Hicok, of course, had never given her the key to his skeleton-closet; for he was a shrewd man. He loved her, too; and he thought he had provided for her absence during the ordeal. She had executed her shopping with unprecedented speed.

Why the visitor started, would be difficult to say. Perhaps her voice startled him. The happy music in it was enough like a beautified duplicate of his own thrilling sweet tones, to have made him acknowledge her for a sister—from heaven. He started, at any rate. “Mr. Lyon, my wife,” said the doctor, somewhat at a loss. Mr. Lyon bowed, and so did the lady. “I beg your pardon, gentlemen, I am sure,” she said. “I did not know you were busy, dear. There is a thundershower coming up. I drove home just in season.” “Oh l—only a little wager, about some conundrums,” said the doctor. Perhaps he may be excused for his fib. He did not want to annoy her unnecessarily. “Oh, do let me know !” she said with much eagerness. “You know how I enjo them s” “Well,” said the doctor, “not exactly the ordinary kind. I was to puzzle my friend here with one out of three questions; and he has beaten me in two of them already. I’ve but one more chance.” “Only one?” she asked, with a smile. “What a bright man your friend must bel I thought nobody could puzzle you, dear. Stay; let me ask the other question.” Both the gentlemen started again: it was quite a surprise. “But are you a married man, Mr. Lyon?” she asked, with a blush. “No, madam,” was the reply, with a very graceful bow—“I have a mother, but no wife. Permit me to say, that if I could believe there was a duplicate of yourself in existence, I would be as soon as possible.” “Oh, what a gallant speech 1” said the lady. “Thank you, sir, very much;” and she made him a pretty little courtesy.

“Then I am quite sure of my question,

sir. Shall I, dear?” The doctor quickly decided. “I am

done for, any how,” he reflected. “I be

gin to see that the old villain put those questions into my head himself. He hinted as much. I don't know but I’d rather she would ask it. It's better to have her kill me, I guess, than to hold out the carving-knife to him myself.” “With all my heart, my dear,” said the doctor, “if Mr. Lyon consents.” Mr. Lyon looked a little disturbed; but his manner was perfect, as he replied that he regretted to seem to disoblige, but that he feared the conditions of their little bet would not allow it. “Beg your pardon, I'm sure, for being so uncivil,” said the lively little beauty, as she whispered a few words in her husband's ear. This is what she said— “What's mine's yours, dear. Ask him—buzz, buzz, buzz.” The doctor nodded. Mrs. Hicok stood by him and smiled, still holding in her F. pink fore-finger the frail shimmering thing just mentioned; and she gave it a twirl, so that it swung quite round. “Isn’t it a love of a bonnet?” she said. “Yes,” the doctor said aloud. “I adopt the question.” “Third Question. Which is the front side of this f" And he pointed to the bonnet. It must have been a bonnet, because Mrs. Hicok called it so. I shouldn't have known it from the collection of things in a kaleidoscope, bunched up together. he lady stood before him, and twirled the wondrous fabric round and round, with the prettiest possible unconscious roguish look of defiance. The doctor's very heart stood still. “Put it on, please,” said Mr. Lyon, in the most innocent way in the world. “Oh, no!” laughed she. “I know I'm only a woman, but I'm not quite so silly But I tell you what: you may put it on, if you think that will help you!” And she held out the mystery to him. Confident in his powers of discrimination Mr. Lyon took hold of the fairy-like combination of sparkles and threads and feathers and flowers, touching it with that sort of timid apprehension that bachelors use with a baby. He stood before the lass over the mantel-piece. First he put it across his head with one side in front, and then with the other. Then he put it lengthways on his head, and tried the effect of tying one of the two couples of strings under each of his ears. Then he put it on, the other side up; so that it swam on his head like a boat, with a high mounted bow and stern. More than once he did all this, with obvious care and thoughtfulness. Then he came slowly back, and resumed his seat. It was growing very dark, though they had not noticed it; for the thunder

Take it.

shower had been hurrying on, and already its advanced guard of wind, heavy-laden with the smell of the rain, could be heard, and a few large drops splashed on the window. The beautiful wife of the doctor laughed merrily to watch the growing discomosure of the visitor, who returned the onnet, with undiminished courtesy, but with obvious constraint of manner. He looked down ; he drummed on the table; he looked up; and both the doctor and the doctor's wife were startled at the intense sudden anger in the dark, handsome face. Then he sprang up, and went to the window. He looked out a moment, and then said— 44 o my word, that is going to be a very s * squall! The clouds are very heavy. If I’m any judge, something will be struck. I can feel the electricity in the alr. While he still spoke, the first thunderbolt crashed overhead. It was one of those close, sudden, overpoweringly awful explosions from clouds very heavy and very near, where the lightning and the thunder leap together out of the very air close about you, even as if you were in them. It was an unendurable burst of sound, and of the intense white sheety light of very near lightning. Dreadfully frightened, the poor little lady clung close to her husband. He, poor man, if o yet more frightened, exhausted as he was by what he had been enduring, sainted dead away. Don't blame him: a cast-iron bull-dog might have fainted. Mrs. Hicok, thinking that her husband was struck dead and by the lightning, screamed terribly. Then she touched him; and, seeing what was really the matter, adminstered cold water from the pitcher on the table. Shortly he revived. “Where is he?” he said. “I don't know, love. I thought you were dead. He must have gone away. Did it strike the house?” “Gone away? Thank God! Thank you, dear! cried out the doctor. Not knowing any adequate cause for so much emotion, she answered him— “Now, love, don't you ever say women are not practical. That was a practical question, you see. But didn't it strike the house? What a queer smell. Ozone: isn't that what you were telling me about? How funny, that lightning should have a smell!”

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

In the Doric manner.
Dran swift.

Shepherd. Echo, I ween, will in the woods

reply, And quaintly answer questions: shall

I try?

Echo. Try.

Shep. What must we do our passion to express?

Echo. Press.

Shep. How shall I please her, who ne'er loved before ?

Echo. Before.

Shep. What most moves women when we them address?

Echo. A dress.

Shep. Say, what can keep her chaste whom I adore ?

Echo. A door.

Shep. If music softens rocks, love tunes my lyre.

Echo. y Liar.

Shep. Then teach me, Echo, how shall I come by her?

Echo. Buy her.

Shep. When bought, no question I shall be her dear?

Echo. Her deer.

Shep. But deer have horns: how must I keep her under?

Echo. Keep her under.

Shep. But what can glad me when she's laid on bier?

Echo. Beer.

Shep. What must I do when women will be kind?

Echo. Be kind.

Shep. What must I do when women will be

cross?

Echo. Be cross.

Shep. Lord, what is she that can so turn and wind?

Echo. Wind.

Shep. If she be wind, what stills her when she blows?

Echo. Blows.

Shep. But if she bang again, still should I bang her?

Echo. Bang her.

Shep. Is there no way to moderate her anger?

Echo. Hang her.

Shep. Thanks, gentle Echol right thy answers tell

What woman is and how to guard her

well.

Echo. Guard her well.

SAINT PATRICK.

Dr. MagiNN.

[william Magins, LL.D., the ‘Modern Rabelais' and ‘Sir Morgan O'Doherty' of Blackwood and Fraser, and who is immortalized in the Noctes Ambrosiana, was one of the most fertile and versatile writers of modern days. Born at Cork 1793, died 1842.]

A FIG for St. Dennis of France,
He's a trumpery fellow to bragon;
A fig for St. George and his lance,
Which spitted a heathenish dragon.
And the Saints of the Welshman or Scot,
Are a couple of pitiful pipers,
Both of whom may just travel to pot,
Compared with the patron of swipers, -
St. Patrick of Ireland, my dear!

He came to the Emerald Isle
On a lump of a paving-stone mounted;
The steamboat he beat by a mile,
Which mighty good sailing was counted.
Says he, “The salt-water, I think,
Has made me most bloodily thirsty,
So bring me a flagon of drink
To keep down the mullegrubs, burst yet
Of drink that is fit for a saint!

He preach'd then with wonderful force,
The ignorant natives a-teaching ;
With a pint he wash’d down his discourse,
‘For says he, ‘I detest your dry preach-
ing.’
The people, with wonderment struck,
At a pastor so pious and civil,
Exclaim’d, “We’re for you old buck,
And we pitch our blind gods to the devil,
Who dwells in hot water below.’

This ended, our worshipful spoon
Went to visit an elegant fellow,

Whose practice each cool afternoon,
Was to get most delightfully mellow.

« ElőzőTovább »