Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

MONSIEUR DU MIROIR.

THAN the gentleman above-named, there is nobody, in the whole circle of my acquaintance, whom I have more attentively studied, yet of whom I have less real knowledge, beneath the surface which it pleases him to present. Being anxious to discover who and what he really is, and how connected with me, and what are to be the results, to him and to myself, of the joint interest, which, without any choice on my part, seems to be permanently established between us and incited, furthermore, by the propensities of a student of human nature, though doubtful whether M. du Miroir have aught of humanity but the figure-I have determined to place a few of his remarkable points before the public, hoping to be favored with some clew to the explanation of his character. Nor let the reader condemn any part of the narrative as frivolous, since a subject of such grave reflection diffuses its importance through the minutest particulars, and there is no judging, beforehand, what odd little circumstance may do the office of a blind man's dog, among the perplexities of this dark investigation. And however cxtraordinary, marvellous, preternatural, and utterly incredible, some of the meditated disclosures may appear, I pledge my honor to maintain as sacred a regard to fact, as if my testimony wero given on oath, and involved the dearest interests of the personage in question. Not that there is matter for a criminal accusation against M. du Miroir; nor am I the man to bring it forward, if there were

The chief that I complain of is his impenetrable mystery, which is no better than nonsense, if it conceal anything good, and much worse, in the contrary case.

But, if undue partialities could be supposed to influence me, M. du Miroir might hope to profit, rather than to suffer by them; for, in the whole of our long intercourse, we have seldom had the slightest disagreement; and, moreover, there are reasons for supposing him a near relative of mine, and consequently entitled to the best word that I can give him. IIe bears, indisputably, a strong personal resemblance to myself, and generally puts on mourning at the funerals of the family. On the other hand, his name would indicate a French descent; in which case, infinitely preferring that my blood should flow from a bold British and puro Puritan source, I beg leave to disclaim all kindred with M. du Miroir. Some genealogists trace his origin to Spain, and dub him a knight of the order of the CABALLEROS DE LOS Espejos, one of whoin was overthrown by Don Quixote. But what says M. du Miroir, himself, of his paternity and his father-land ? Not a word did he ever say about the matter; and herein, perhaps, lies onc of his most especial reasons for maintaining such a vexatious mystery—that he lacks the faculty of speech to expound it. His lips are sometimes seen to move ; his eyes and countenance are alive with shifting expression, as if corresponding by visible hieroglyphics to his v.odulated breath; and anon, he will seem to pause, with as satisfied an air, as if he had been talking excel. lent sense. Good sense or bad, M. du Miroir is the sole judge of his own conversational powers, never having whispered so much as a syllable, that reached the ears of any other auditor. Is he really dumb ?-or is all the world deaf?-or is it merely a piece of my friend's waggery, meant for nothing but to make fools of us? If so, he has the joke all to himself.

This dumb devil, which possesses M. du Miroir, is, I am per. suaded, the sole reason that he does not make me the most flatter. ing protestations of friendship. In many particulars—indeed, as

.. all his cognizable and not preternatural points, except that, once in a great while, I speak a word or two-there exists the greatest apparent sympathy between us. Such is his confidence in my taste, that he goes astray from the general fashion, and copies all his dresses after mine. I never try on a new garment, without expecting to meet M. du Miroir in one of the same pattern. He has duplicates of all my waistcoats and cravats, shirt-bosoms of precisely a similar plait, and an old coat for private wear, manufactured, I suspect, by a Chinese tailor, in exact imitation of a beloved old coat of mine, with a facsimile, stitch by stitch, of a patch upon the elbow. In truth, the singular and minute coincidences that occur, both in the accidents of the passing day and the serious events of our lives, remind me of those doubtful legends of lovers, or twin-children, twins of fate, who have lived, enjoycd, suffered, and died, in unison, each faithfully repeating the least tremor of the other's breath, though separated by vast tracts of sea and land. Strange to say, my incommodities belong equally to my companion, though the burthen is nowiso alleviated by his participation. The other morning, after a night of torment from the toothache, I met M. du Miroir with such a swollen anguish in his check, that my own pangs were redoubled, as were also his, if I might judge by a fresh contortion of his visage. All the inequalities of my spirits are communicated to him, causing the unfortunate M. du Miroir to mope and scowl through a whole summer's day, or to laugh as long, for no better reason than the gay or gloomy crotchets of my brain. Once we were joint sufferers of a three months' sickness, and met like mutual ghosts in the first days of convalescence. Whenever I have been in love, M. du Miroir has looked passionate and tender, and never did my mistress discard me, but this too susceptible gentleman grew lack-a-daisical. His temper, also, rises to blood-heat, fever. heat, or boiling water heat, according to the measure of any wrong which might seem to have fallen entirely on myself. I have sometimes been calmed down, by the sight of my own inor. dinate wrath, depicted on his frowning brow. Yet, however prompt in taking up my quarrels, I cannot call to mind that he ever struck a downright blow in my behalf; nor, in fact, do I perceive that any real and tangible good has resulted from his constant interference in my affairs; so that, in my distrustful moods, I am apt to suspect M. du Miroir's sympathy to be mere outward show, not a whit better nor worse than other people's sympathy. Nevertheless, as mortal man must have something in the guise of sympathy, and whether the true metal, or merely copperwashed, is of less moment, I choose rather to content myself with M. du Miroir's, such as it is, than to seek the sterling coin, and perhaps miss even the counterfeit.

In my age of vanities, I have often seen him in the ball-room, and might again, were I to seek him there. We have encountered each other at the Tremont theatre, where, however, he took his seat neither in the dress-circle, pit, nor upper regions, nor threw a single glance at the stage, though the brightest star, even Fanny Kemble herself, might be culminating there. No; this whimsi. cal friend of mine chose to linger in the saloon, near one of the large looking-glasses which throw back their pictures of the illu. minated room. He is so full of these unaccountable eccentrici. ties, that I never like to notice M. du Miroir, nor to acknowledge the slightest connection with him, in places of public resort. He, however, has no scruple about claiming my acquaintance, even when his common sense, if he had any, might teach him that I would as willingly exchange a nod with the Old Nick. It was but the other day, that he got into a large brass kettle, at the en. trance of a hardware store, and thrust his head, the moment after. wards, into a bright. new warming-pan, whence he gave me a most merciless look of recognition. He smiled, and so did I ; but these childish tricks make decent people rather shy of M. du Miroir, and subject him to more dead cuts than any other gentle. man in town.

One of this singular person's most remarkable peculiarities is his fondness for water, wherein he excels any temperance-man whatever. His pleasure, it must be owned, is not so much to drink it (in which respect, a very moderate quantity will answer his occasions), as to souse himself over head and ears, wherever he may meet with it. Perhaps he is a merman, or born of a mermaid's marriage with a mortal, and thus amphibious by here. ditary right, like the children which the old river deities, or nymphs of fountains, gave to earthly love. When no cleaner bathing-place happened to be at hand, I have seen the foolish fellow in a horse-pond. Sometimes he refreshes himself in the trough of a town-pump, without caring what the people think about him. Often, while carefully picking my way along the street, after a heavy shower, I have been scandalized to see M. du Miroir, in full dress, paddling from one mud-puddle to another, and plunging into the filthy depths of each. Seldom have I peeped into a well, without discerning this ridiculous gentleman at the bottom, whence he gazes up, as through a long telescopic tube, and probably makes discoveries among the stars by day. light. Wandering along lonesome paths, or in pathless forests, when I have come to virgin-fountains, of which it would have been pleasant to deem myself the first discoverer, I have started to find M. du Miroir there before me. The solitude seemed lone. lier for his presence. I have leaned from a precipice that frowns over Lake George-which the French called Nature's font of sacramental water, and used it in their log-churches here, and their cathedrals beyond the sea--and seen him far below, in that pure element. At Niagara, too, where I would gladly have for. gotten both myself and him, I could not help observing my conpanion, in the smooth water, on the very verge of the cataract, just above the Table Rock. Were I to reach the sources of the

« ПредишнаНапред »