monial trip, another honeymoon. Alas! my present trip was not calculated to add to my respectability. My owner, who was a military man, was at his post at the appointed time: he seemed hurried and agitated; frequently looked at his watch; paced rapidly before one of the houses, and continually looked towards the drawing-room windows. At length a light appeared, the window was opened, and a female, muffled in a cloak and veil, stood on the balcony; she leaned anxiously forward; he spoke, and without replying she re-entered the room. The street-door opened, and a brisk little waiting-maid came out with some bundles, which she deposited in the carriage: the Captain (for such was bis rank) had entered the hall, and he now returned, bearing in his arms a fainting, weeping woman; he placed her by his side in the carriage : my rumble was instantly occupied by the waiting-maid and my master's man, and we drove off rapidly towards Brighton.

“The Captain was a man of fashion; handsome, insinuating, profligate, and unfeeling. The lady--it is painful to speak of her: what she had been, she could never more be; and what she then was, she herself had yet to learn. She had been the darling pet daughter of a rich old man; and a dissipated nobleman had married her for her money when she was only sixteen. She had been accustomed to have every wish gratified by her doating parent; she now found herself neglected and insulted by her husband. Her father could not bear to see his darling's once-smiling face grow pale and sad, and he died two years after her marriage. She plunged into the whirlpool of dissipation, and tasted the rank poisons which are so often sought as the remedies for a sad heart. From folly she ran to imprudence, from imprudence to guilt;—and was the runaway wife happier than she who once suffered uomerited ill-usage at home ? Time will show.

“ At Brighton, my wheels rattled along the cliffs as briskly and as loudly as the noblest equipage there; but no female turned a glance of recognition towards my windows, and the eyes of former friends were studiously averted. I bore my lady through the streets, and I waited for her now and then at the door of the theatre; but at gates of respectability, at balls, and at assemblies, I, alas ! was never called,' and never stopped the way. Like a disabled soldier, I ceased to bear arms, and I was crest-fallen!

“This could not last : my mistress could little brook contempt, especially when she felt it to be deserved ; her cheek lost its bloom, her eye its lustre ; and when her beauty became less brilliant, she no longer possessed the only attraction which had made the Captain her lover. He grew weary of her, soon took occasion to quarrel with her, and she was left without friends, without income, and without character. I was at length torn from her : it nearly broke my springs to part with her ; but I was despatched to the bazaar in London, and saw no more of my lady. . “ It happened to be a dull time of year, and for some months my wheels ceased to be rotatory : I got cold and damp; and the moths found their way to my inside : one or two persons who came to inspect me, declined becoming purchasers, and peering closely at my panels, said something about old scratch. This hurt my feelings, for if my former possessor was not quite so good as she might have been, it wag no fault of mine.

“At length, after a tedious inactivity, I was bought cheap by a young physician, who having rashly left his provincial patients to set up in London, took it into his head that nothing could be done there by a medical man who did not go upon wheels; he therefore hired a house in a good situation, and then set me up, and bid my vendor put me down in his bill. . .“ It is quite astonishing how we flew about the streets and squares, acting great practice ; those who knew us by sight must have thought we had a great deal to do, but we practised nothing but locomotion. Some medical men thin the population, (so says Slander,) my master thinned nothing but his horses. They were the only good jobs that came in his way, and certainly he made the most of them. He was obliged to feed them, but he was very rarely feed himself. It so happened that nobody consulted us, and the unavoidable consumption of the family infected my master's pocket, and bis little resources were in a rapid decline.

“ Still be kept a good heart; indeed, in one respect, he resembled a worm displayed in a bottle in a quack's shop window she was never out of spirits! He was deeply in debt, and his name was on every body's books, always excepting the memorandum-books of those who wanted physicians. Still I was daily turned out, and though nobody called him in, he was to be seen, sitting very forward, apparently looking over potes supposed to have been taken after numerous critical cases and eventful consultations. Our own case was hopeless, our progress was arrested, an execution was in the house, servants met with their deserts and were turned off, goods were seized, my master was knocked up, and I was knocked down for one hundred and twenty pounds.

"Again my beauties blushed for a while unseen; but I was new painted, and, like some other painted personages, looked, at a distance, almost as good as new. Fortunately for me, an elderly country curate, just at this period, was presented with a living, and the new incumbent thought it incumbent upon him to present his fat lady and his thin daughter with a leathern convenience. My life was now a rural one, and for ten long years nothing worth recording happened to me. Slowly and surely did I creep along green lanes, carried the respectable trio to snug, early, neighbourly dinners, and was always under lock and key before twelve o'clock. It must be owned I began to have rather an old-fashioned look; my body was ridiculously small, and the rector's chin daughter, the bodkin, or rather packing-needle of the party, sat more forward, and on a smaller space than bodkins do now-a-days. I was perched up three feet higher than more modern vehicles, and my two lamps began to look like little dark lanterns. But my obsoleteness rendered me only the more suited to the service in which I was enlisted. Honest Roger, the red-haired coachman, would have looked like the clown in a pantomime, in front of a fashionable equipage ; and Simon the footboy, who slouched at my back, would have been mistaken for an idle urchin surreptitiously enjoying a ride. But on my unsophisticated dickey and footboard no one could doubt that Roger and Simon were in their proper places. The rector died; of course he had nothing more to do with the living, it passed into other hands; and a clerical income being (alas, that it should be so !) no inheritance, his relict, suddenly plunged in widowhood and poverty, had the aggravated misery of mourning for a dear busband, while she was conscious that the luxuries and almost the necessaries of life were for ever snatched from herself and her child.

“Again I found myself in London, but my beauty was gone, I had lost the activity of youth, and when slowly I chanced to creak through Long Acre, Houlditch, my very parent, who was standing at his door sending forth a new-born Britska, glanced at me scornfully, and knew me not! I passed on heavily-I thought of fornier days of triumph, and there was madness in the thought I became a crazy vehicle ! straw was thrust into my inward parts, I was numbered among the fallen,-yes, I was now a hackney-chariot, and my number was one hundred !

“What tongue can tell the degradations I have endured! The persons who familiarly have called me, the wretches who have sat in menever can this be told. Daily I take my stand in the same vile street, and nightly am I driven to the minor theatres---to oyster-shops to desperation !

“One day, 'when empty and unoccupied, I was hailed by two police-officers who were bearing between them a prisoner. It was the seducer of my second ill-fated mistress : a first crime had done its usual work, it had prepared the mind for a second, and a worse: the seducer had done a deed of deeper guilt, and I bore him one stage towards the gallows. Many months after, a female called mé at midnight : she was decked in tattered finery, and what with fatigue and recent indulgence in strong liquors, she was scarcely sensible, but she possessed dim traces of past beauty. I can say nothing more of her, but that it was the fugitive wife whom I had borne to Brighton so many years ago. No words of mine could paint the living warning that I beheld. What had been the sorrows of unmerited desertion and unkindness supported by conscious rectitude, compared with the degraded guilt, the hopeless anguish, that I then saw!

" I regret to say, I was last month nigh committing manslaughter; I, broke down in the Strand and dislocated the shoulder of a rich old maid. I cannot help thinking that she deserved the visitation, for, as she stepped into me in Oxford Street, she exclaimed, loud enough to be heard by all neighbouring pedestrians, Dear me! how dirty! I never was in a hackney conveyance before !'- though I well remembered having been favoured with her coinpany very often. A medical gentleman happened to be passing at the moment of our fall; it was my old medical master. He set the shoulder, and so skilfully did he manage his patient, that he is about to be married to the rich invalid, who will shoulder him into prosperity at last. -“I last night was the bearer of a real party of pleasure to Astley's:bride and bridegroom, with the mother of the bride. It was the widow of the old rector, whose thin daughter (by the by she is fattening fast) has had the luck to marry the only son of a merchant well to do in the world."

The voice suddenly ceased !-I awoke--the door was opened, the steps let down-I paid the coachman double the amount of his fare, and in future, whenever I stand in need of a jarvey, I shall certainly make a point of calling for number One Hundred.



66 Sino i fanciulli,
I fanciulli innocente,
Non san perchè, ma sul comune esempio

Van festivi esclamando, al tempio, al tempio.'"-METASTASIO. The annals of human infatuation cannot present a more extraordinary fact than that which is the subject of our present observations, cannot supply a more powerful illustration of the effects of fanaticism, or so strikingly develope the most prominent characteristies of “Holy Wars.” In other expeditions of this nature, it is true, there might be the same passion for novelty, the same love of libertinism, considerably more of the restlessness of chivalry, and the hope of conquest and glory. But never did religious fanaticism operate so powerfully as when it divested childhood of its fears, and urged it into the perilous pursuits of men. 'Never did delusion work so strongly upon the timid, or imagination so transform the nature of the weak. Never, in short, did humanity betray derangement so pitiable, or results so diffusively calamitous. And yet, singular as it may appear, our English histories of this time pass it without a comment. Even the indefatigable Gibbon has not noticed it; Mills, in his “ History of the Crusades,” does not allude to it -though, perhaps, it is not the only circumstance he has neglected to embrace. Hallam, indeed, manages to comprehend so remarkable a fact, in an insigni. ficant note ;* and yet the whole annals of chivalry will not present such a striking indication of the times, such a decided proof of the universal frenzy. We can account for this indifference of the historian of the middle ages only by the supposition that he had consulted no other authority than that of the Latin Chronicles of early English compilers; for, excepting Roger Bacon,t who lived about the period in question, and the Waverley Annals, I which speak clearly, though very concisely of the circumstance, it is overpassed by them all. These narratives, indeed, relate chiefly to the affairs of England; but in detailing the historical results of Richard's chivalry, and more especially in going over the eventful reign of his successor, mixed up as it is with the occurrences of neighbouring nations, at the period referred to, we might expect to meet some intimation on the subject. At the first glance, perhaps, the sober character of history would tempt us to place among romantic legends, a story so replete with the absurd, and so pregnant with human infirmity. They who are unacquainted with the facile credence of our early chroniclers, might well be drawn into the belief that the absence of so strange a transaction from their records implied a conviction of its improbability, or the knowledge of a puerile fraud. "Such inferences, however, would not be justified by the reality. The monkish writers of those days were incapable of discrimination ; and would have been unwilling to discriminate, had they possessed the power. Whatever was uncommon, they judged miraculous; and as it seemed to serve the purposes of their different orders, they augmented the colouring, and added fresh actors to the scene. They loved, also, the marvellous for its own sake, and, therefore, could not be very solicitous to separate the chaff from the grain. Many a precious fable they have recorded ; and though this truth might form a powerful objection to the narrative before us, yet the character of the interval corroborates even so exaggerated a feature, and is, in turn, illustrated by the excrescence it supplies.

The utter madness of crusade, which in 1212, according to the majority of historians, assembled a vast concourse of children, chiefly ten and twelve years old, can only be duly estimated by taking into consideration the mar

* History of the Middle Ages, Vol. ii. p. 443, 4to.
+ Opus Majus, p. 2534, folio, 1733.
# Annales Waverleienses, ap. Hist. Anglic. Script. Quinq. p. 180.

$ (1) Vincent de Beauvais, Spec. Hist. Lib. xxxi. c. 5. (2) Alberici Monachi Trium Fontium Chronicon, p. 459. (3) Annales Godefredi ap. Marq. Freher. (4) Alberti Abbatis Staden. Chron. p. 203. (5) Divi Antonini Chron. p. 104. (6) tial frenzy of the period, and the artful policy of the clergy,-men who too often made religion the stalking-horse of their ambition, and the pander of their lust for power. One remarkable source of this their incessant assiduity, will be found in the superior information of some, and in the bigoted zeal of others and that of the majority. The more intelligent readily perceived the facility with which power might be wrested from the ignorant, and they employed the furious passions of the excited enthusiast to accomplish their more insidious designs. In all probability, but for the absolute want of instruction in the lay part of society, and their consequent comparative inferiority, the clergy never would have dreamt of usurpation, and still less would they have attempted it. But with much of the wisdom of past ages in their own possession, and, what was of more importance, constantly on the alert, and strenuous in their measures, it was hardly in human nature to forego the power which they had only to grasp, or abstain from the abuse of it, when so easily attained. In brutal force lay all the influence of the mailed partisan of chivalry; and when was it ever known that what the strong hand seized on, did not finally revert to the stronger head? Gradually the whole of Europe lapsed into the power of the Church ; but it was only while acquiring that the Church was safe. No sooner did it possess, than the gauntleted hand became its foe, and there was not perhaps a single throne throughout the bounds of Christianity which did not in turn unsheath the sword against Popish usurpation. It produced, however, but a momentary change. The swelling surges of hostility sank into a rapid calm ; and again, with slow but certain result, the Church waved her triple banner over the succumbing waves. Again “ the march of intellect” crossed the barren wilds of martial renown, and the triumph of mental subtilty over unchecked passion and physical strength soon grew conspicuously apparent. Then the consciences of men became the puppets of ecclesiastic control, raised or depressed, soothed or infuriated, as interest seemed to predominate. Then the “ phantasma and the hideous dream” began to work the understanding into madness, while the mysterious jugglery of midnight rituals, the solemn exhortation, the rebuke for backwardness, and praise and promises for headlong pursuit, naturally created that factitious enthusiasm which engendered extraordinary events, as the fetid slime of the Nile propagates its monstrous anomalies. The infant, imbibing with its mother's milk the germ of superstition and zealotry, taught by its other reckless parent to lisp only in the accents of an impure and bloody chivalry, must have breathed its earliest words in execration of the “ land of Heathenesse," and devoted its earliest prayers to the overthrow of “ Paynim ; hounds." What wonder if cruelty and hate, and all the worst passions well derived from such abhorrent sources, sank deep into the heart of the youthful aspirant, and filled his untutored brain with romance and madness!

There was, however, another cause, more potent than that of chivalry, or even than that of superstition, which induced the misguided parent to supply so wild a stimulus to infantile ardour. The countries of the East, in that age, were looked upon as the only origin of unlimited wealth. “ The vulgar, both small and great,'' as Gibbon well observes, “ were taught to believe every wonder, of lands flowing with milk and honey, of mines and treasures of gold and diamonds, of palaces of marble and jasper, and of odoriferous groves of cinnamon and frankincense."* Here the poverty-stricken lost their indigence, and the wealthy started into more abundant wealth. Here was Aladdin's lamp, and the diamond valleys of Sindbad. Here, and here only, piety could be united with worldly interest; and the cross of Christ decorated with gold and precious stones. Whether the worship of God, at the sepulchre of his

Bizar, Sentinati, Senat. Pop. que Genuensis historia, p. 30. fol. 1570. But (7) Jacob de Voragine mentions M.CC.XXII. evidently, however, a mistake for M.CC.XII. (8) Thom. Cantipratensis Chron. gives the year 1213. (9) Massmus, 1210; and (10) the Fasciculus Temporum, (fol. 80. 1482) specifies 1214.

* Gibbon, Decline and Fall, Vol. xi, p. 20.

« ElőzőTovább »