Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

“ No, but it could help her to bear the loss. And | ure from Aunt Jessie of an unusually stringent charac by that daughter's grave she consecrated herself for life ter, that morning, sent her forth filled with a desperate to the orphan. Through loss she gave. Her memory resolve to make amends for all her past neglect, in a is an inspiration."

single visit. “ To you !” said Circe Sutherland. “ It is spiritless “I will take her flowers, and will take her out to enough to me, I assure you. This must be the place.” | drive; and when the Peppercorns and all the rest

They had reached a high brick wall which shut in an Aunt Jessie is making such an ado about, see Mrs. entire square on the banks of the Potomac. Its tall King and Mrs. Sutherland driving out in peace together, gate stood open, the lodge by its side apparently hav- they will say, "There! A mistake after all! The two ing fallen into disuse. A broad avenue wound on be ladies are friends, though we did not know it.'” neath trees of forest growth, and in a moment they Aunt Jessie, a “wall-flower” on the opposite side of paused by the Burns cottage, famous in the annals of the hall at the ambassadors' ball, had been far from the capital.

pleased with her all-night observations. Her moral It is a low, sharp-roofed cottage, built of logs, and sensibility received no shock, but her usually serene white-washed. Its doors face north and south, one "sense of propriety ” was jarred to positive irritability. opening on the grand old garden, the other on the broad “ If I did not see it I would never have believed that river. Trees of immemorial years interlace in a green | Circe would commit herself personally to disparaging arcade far above it. The moss grows thick upon its comment,” she said to herself. “I can't believe it, sloping roof. The broad flagstones over which Wash | yet I'm afraid she is interested at heart in this Mr. ington and Jefferson passed are now sunken deep be- King. How preposterous. If his wife were not preso low their grassy borders. Its settled door-stones, its ent she might dance with him all night ; or if his wife antique door-latch, its minute window-panes, are just were present, and she too were dancing with somebody the same that they were when Marcia Burns, beautiful else. But that little forlorn image over there," — and and young, received within its walls her courtly suitors ; Aunt Jessie fixed her glass upon it, -" that little forlorn just the same as when Marcia Burns, smitten and image is enough to set the world inquiring after her huschildless, knelt alone by its desolate hearth to commune band and his doings, and for once Circe seems to be as with the God and Father of her spirit.

blind as an owl to appearances.” “ A poor enough place,” said Circe. « It's not so A passing remark concerning the couple of the ball, good as an overseer's house in Louisiana. Who can from Mrs. Peppercorn, as the stately senatress moved think of Carrolls and Calverts being entertained here? on to the dressing-room after bidding Agnes goody And the other's not so vastly better,” pointing to the night, stirred Aunt Jessie to deeper irritation, which Van Ness house a few rods distant. “Pray, is that her brief and troubled morning sleep only deepened.) considered a fine house in Washington ? "

Thus she met her beautiful niece at a late breakfast, “It was a wonderful house in its day,” said Agnes. charged with a lecture of an unusually portentous nature. “ It cost nearly sixty thousand dollars, and was mod- “ It's of little consequence what people imagine eled after the White House. All of Congress was en- | about you, Circe, so they never imagine the truth. tertained in that grand parlor every year. Look at You are very rich and very handsome, but you are a this box! It reaches above the carriage door. It is l woman ; and because you are, you can't afford to have round this circular drive, the wonder-mongers say, that | any ugly truths set against your character. Neither the six horses of General Van Ness gallop headless | money nor beauty could be an offset. You must reevery anniversary of his birth-night."

member that you are not in Paris.”. “How dismal! Well, the whole place looks dreary | “I wish I were, and with somebody else.” enough for just such ghosts.”

“ Circe! You know I very seldom assert any auIt does not look dismal to me,” said Agnes, gaz- thority over you. But I do now. You must cultiing off through a widening vista in the trees to the vate Mrs. King, or give up Mr. King." rotomac, flowing bright and broad beyond. “ See “I'll cultivate her,” said Circe with a sigh. "omy how the river gleams in this bright atmosphere. See stop scolding, auntie, do." those white sails dip. And there is Arlington House! | Aunt Jessie's worldly wisdom seemed mild indeed, How plain its Doric pillars show through the oaks on compared with the utterly unlooked-for truth poured the heights. Can you see it, Mrs. Sutherland ?” out by Agnes. Circe expected to encounter a weak,

“Yes, plainly. A poor old place. Shan't we go querulous invalid, - a grown-up child whom she inback to the avenue now?.

tended to pacify with flowers, and to wheedle into tako “ Certainly, if you prefer it ;” and Agnes looked | ing a drive. about the old garden with the resolve that when May Those clear, divining eyes, the moment they were brought its bloom she would come back to it again fixed upon her, put all her pretty policy to rout. alone, with her children.

Never had her placid tact been taken at such disadvan: It was for this drive through the West End and on tage. Never before had she been surprised from its the avenue only, that Circe had asked Agnes to accom stronghold. Outside of it, she was utterly discomfited. pany her. It was not without mental effort of a rather It is true she partly regained her ground afterwards. severe quality that she brought herself to call upon Cyril | But it was only a half victory. It was scarcely cry King's wife. At heart she had never been reconciled | for overborne by the heart truth pressed down pure to the fact of his having a wife. Not that she wished | her by this unhappy wife, had not she, Circe sur to marry him. But it irked her to remember that there | land, promised to go ? to go out of her way, and can was any woman living who held the right to question to her — her husband ? his exclusive attentions to herself. This feeling thus Still, under the circumstances, it was some small comfar had proved too strong for her usually ever-ready fort to know that she, with the assistance of the children diplomacy. She had shown less than her ordinary tact | had overpowered this little woman, and won upon to in delaying so long her call upon Mrs. King. A lect- | sufficiently to take a drive.

* That is something in the eyes of people at least," ! Oak was not bound by his agreement to assist in the said Circe to herself. Nevertheless, some way,fat heart

corn-field; but the harvest-month is an anxious time for a she felt vanquished.

farmer, and the corn was Bathsheba's, so he lent a hand.

" He's dressed up in his best clothes," said Matthew “Well, I declare !” exclaimed “Hon. Mrs. Pepper

Moon. “ He hev been away from home for a few days, corn," as she stood gazing from her drawing-room

since he's had that felon upon his finger; for a' said, Since window upon Lafayette Square. “ After all I've told I can't work I'll have a hollerday.you of last night, Lulie, if here isn't Mrs. King and “A good time for one — an excellent time,” said Joseph ber children with that very Mrs. Sutherland! Come Poorgrass, straightening his back; for he, like some of the quick! There! They've turned the corner. She others, had a way of resting awhile from his labor on such can't deceive me. Not after what I saw last night.

hot days, for reasons preternaturally small; of which Cain It's all her Aunt Jessie's work. She made her call

Ball's advent on a week-day in his Sunday clothes was one

of the first magnitude. "'Twas a bad leg allowed me to upon Mrs. King this very morning, and take her to

read the • Pilgrim's Progress,' and Mark Clark learnt alldrive, as a cover for last evening. She can't blind me.

fours in a whitlow.' No, nor society."

“ Aye, and my father put his arm out of joint to have “ Is it too far for the children to the Capitol ? Or time to go courting," said Jan Coggan in an eclipsing tone, perhaps you don't care to go ?” Circe asked with a wiping his face with his shirt-sleeve and thrusting back his shade less than her usual nonchalance,

hat upon the nape of his neck. "No, not to the Capitol,” said Agnes, with a white

By this time Cainy was nearing the group of harvesters,

and was perceived to be carrying a large slice of bread and face. It seemed to her that not till this instant had she

ham in one hand, from which he took mouthfuls as he ran, realized with whom she was driving. “We have had

the other hand being wrapped in a bandage. When he a long and charming drive; you have been very kind, came close, bis mouth assumed the bell shape, and he be- but we must go home now."

gan to cough violently. So she must lose the final triumph of the drive. It "Now, Cainy !” said Gabriel, sternly. “How many was hard. She was used only to conquest. But she more times must I tell you to keep from running so fast could not conquer, or make subject to her own, the will

when you are eating? You'll choke yourself some day, of Cyril King's wife — that “poor, weak little thing,"

that's what you'll do, Cain Ball.”

“Hok-hok hok !" replied Cain. "A crumb of my victas she had been used to hear her called.

uals went the wrong way — hok-hok! That's what 'tis, Still the drive did not wholly miss its effect. Society Mister Oak! And I've been visiting to Bath because I had other eyes not so keenly peeled as Mrs. Pepper | had a felon on my thumb; yes, and I've seen - ahokcorn's. More than one pair saw, while its accompany hok !” . ing tongue exclaimed : “ There! There is Mrs. King Directly Cain mentioned Bath, they all threw down driving with that Mrs. Sutherland. This is proof

their hooks and forks and drew round him. Unfortunately enough there is no truth in the stories they tell of Mr.

the crumb did not improve his narrative powers, and a sup

plementary hindrance was that of a sneeze, jerking from King's being in love with her. If he was, of course

bis pocket his rather large watch, which dangled in front Mrs. King wouldn't drive out with her.”

of the young man pendulum-wise. (To be continued.)

“Yes,” he continued, directing his thoughts to Bath and letting his eyes follow, “ I've seed the world at last — yes

-- and I've seed our mis'ess — ahok-hok-hok !" FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. “ Bother the boy !” said Gabriel. “Something is always

going the wrong way down your throat, so that you can't CHAPTER XXXIII. IN THE SUN: A HARBINGER.' tell what's necessary to be told."

“ Ahok! there! Please, Mister Oak, a gnat have just A WEEK passed, and there were no tidings of Bathsheba;

flewed into my stomach and brought the cough on again!” nor was there any explanation of her Gilpin's rig.

“Yes, that's just it. Your mouth is always open, you Then a note came for Maryann, stating that the business

| young rascal.” which had called her mistress to Bath still detained her “ 'Tis terrible bad to have a gnat fly down yer throat, there; but that she hoped to return in the course of another pore boy !” said Matthew Moon. week.

" Well, at Bath you saw” – prompted Gabriel. Another week passed. The oat-harvest began, and all “I saw our mistress," continued the junior shepherd, the men were afield under a monochromatic Lammas sky, " and a soldier, walking along. And bymeby they got amid the trembling air and short shadows of noon. Indoors closer and closer, and then they went arm-in-crook, like nothing was to be heard save the droning of blue-bottle courting complete – hok-hok! like courting complete flies; out-of-doors the whetting of scythes and the biss of hok! - courting complete" - Losing the thread of his tressy oat-ears rubbing together as their perpendicular narrative at this point simultaneously with his loss of stalks of amber-yellow fell heavily to each swath. Every breath, their informant looked up and down the field apdrop of moisture not in the men's bottles and flagons, in the parently for some clue to it. “Well, I see our mis'ess and form of cider, was raining as perspiration from their fore a soldier — a-ha-a-wk !” heads and cheeks. Drought was everywhere else.

“D—- the boy!" said Gabriel. They were about to withdraw for a while into the chari “'Tis only my manner, Mister Oak, if ye'll excuse it," table shade of a tree in the fence, when Coggan saw a fig. said Cain Ball, looking reproachfully at Oak, with eyes ure in a blue coat and brass buttons running to them across drenched in their own dew. the field.

“Here's some cider for him — that'll cure his throat," "I wonder who that is ?” he said.

said Jan Coggan, lifting a flagon of cider, pulling out the "I hope nothing is wrong about mistress," said Maryann, cork, and applying the hole to Cainy's mouth; Joseph who with some other women was tying the bundles (oats Poorgrass in the mean time beginning to think apprehenbeing always sheafed on this farm), “but an unlucky token sively of the serious consequences that would follow Cainy. came to me indoors this morning. I went to unlock the Ball's strangulation in his cough, and the history of his door and dropped the key, and it fell upon the stone floor Bath adventures dying with him. and broke into two pieces. Breaking a key is a dreadful “For my poor self, I always say please God’ afore I do bodement. I wish mis'ess was home.”

anything," said Joseph, in an unboastful voice; “and so "* ?Tis Cain Ball,” said Gabriel, pausing from whetting should you, Cain Ball. 'Tis a great safeguard, and might bis reaphook.

perhaps save you from being choked to death some day.”

& point.”

Mr. Coggan poured the liquor with unstinted liberality | to light their fires except as a luxery, for the water spring at the suffering Cain's circular mouth; half of it running / up out of the earth ready boiled for use." down the side of the flagon, and half of what reached his ** 'Tis true as the light," testified Matthew Moon. “I've , mouth running down outside his throat, and half of what heard other navigators say the same thing." ran in going the wrong way, and being coughed and sneezed “They drink nothing else there,” said Cain, "and around the persons of the gathered reapers in the form of a seem to enjoy it, to see how they swaller it down." rarefied cider fog, which for a moment hung in the sunny "Well, it seems a barbarous practice enough to us, but air like a small exhalation.

I dare say the natives think nothing of it,” said Mattbew. “ There's a great clumsy sneeze! Why can't ye have “ And don't victuals spring up as well as drink?" asked better manners, you young dog!” said Coggan, withdraw- | Coggan, twirling his eye. ing the flagon.

“No-I own to a blot there in Bath - a true blot. ** The cider went up my nose !" cried Cainy, as soon as God did'nt provide 'em victuals as well as drink, and 'twas he could speak; “ and now 'tis gone down my neck, and a drawback I couldn't get over at all." into my poor dumb felon, and over my shiny buttons and “Well, 'tis a curious place, to say the least," observed all my best close !".

Moon; “ and it must be a curious people that live therein." "The pore lad's cough is terrible unfortunate," said “Miss Everdene and the soldier were walking about Matthew Moon. “ And a great history on hand, too. together, you say?" said Gabriel, returning to the group. Bump his back, shepherd."

* Aye, and she wore a beautiful gold-color silk gown, “'Tis my nater," mourned Cain. “ Mother says I al trimmed with black lace, that would have stood alone withways was so excitable when my feelings were worked up to out legs inside if required. 'Twas a very winsome sight;

and her hair was brushed splendid. And when the sun " True, true," said Joseph Poorgrass. " The Balls were shone upon the bright gown and his red coat — my! how always a very excitable family. I knowed the boy's grand handsome they looked. You could see 'em all the length father - a truly nervous and modest man, even to genteel of the street." refinement. 'Twas blush, blush with him, almost as much |: “And what then?" murmured Gabriel. as 'tis with me - not but that 'is a fault in me.”

“ And then I went into Griffin's to have my boots hobbed, “ Not at all, Master Poorgrass,” said Coggan. “ 'Tis a ) and then I went to Riggs' batty-cake shop, and asked 'em very noble quality in ye.

for a penneth of the cheapest and nicest stales, that were "Heh-heh! well, I wish to noise nothing abroad — noth all but blue-mouldy but not quite. And whilst I was cher. ing at all," murmured Poorgrass, diffidently. “But we ing 'em down I walked on and seed a clock with a face as are born to things — that's true. Yet I would rather my big as a baking-trendle” – trifle were hid; though, perhaps, a high nature is a little “But that's nothing to do with mistress"high, and at my birth all things were possible to my Maker “I'm coming to that, if you'll leave me alone, Mister and he may have begrudged no gifts. • . . But under your Oak!” remonstrated Cainy.“ If you excites me, perhaps bushel, Joseph! under your bushel with you! A strange you'll bring on my cough, and then I shan't be able to desire, neighbors, this desire to hide, and no praise due. tell ye nothing.” Yet there is a Sermon on the Mount with a calendar of “Yes — let him tell it his own way,” said Coggan. the blessed at the head, and certain meek men may be Gabriel settled into a despairing attitude of patience, and named therein.”

Cainy went on:« Cainy's grandfather was a very clever man," said “And there were great large bouses, and more people all Matthew Moon. “Invented a apple-tree out of his own the week long than at Weatherbury club-walking on White head, which is called by his name to this day — the Early Tuesdays. And I went to grand churches and chapels. Ball. You know 'em, Jan? A Quarrington grafted on a And how the parson would pray! Yes, he would kneel Tom Putt, and a Rathe-ripe upon top o' that again. 'Tis down and put up his hands together, and make the holy trew a' used to bide about in a public house in a way he had gold rings on bis fingers gleam and twinkle in yer eyes, no business to by rights, but there - a' were a clever man that he'd earned by praying so excellent well! Ah yes, in the sense of the term."

I wish I lived there." “Now, then,” said Gabriel impatiently, “what did you “Our poor Parson Thirdly can't get no money to buy see, Cain?

such rings," said Matthew Moon, thoughtfully. " And as "I seed our mis'ess go into a sort of a park place, where good a man as ever walked. I don't believe poor Thirdly there's seats and shrubs and flowers, arm-in-crook with a have a single one, even of humblest tin or copper. Such a soldier," continued Cainy firmly, and with a dim sense that great ornament as they'd be to him on a dull afternoon, his words were very effective as regarded Gabriel's emo- when he's up in the pulpit lighted by the wax candles! tions. “And I think the soldier was Sergeant Troy. And | But 'tis impossible, poor man. Ah, to think how unequal they sat there together for more than half an hour, talking things be."" moving things, and she once was crying almost to death. "Perhaps he's made of different stuff than to wear 'em,” And when they came out her eyes were shining and she | said Gabriel grimly. “Well, that's enough of this. Go was as white as a lily; and they looked into one another's on, Cainy – quick." faces, as desperately friendly as a man and woman can “ Oh, — and the new style of parsons wear moustaches

and long beards," continued the illustrious traveller, " and Gabriel's features seemed to get thinner. « Well, what | look like Moses and Aaron complete, and make we fukes in did you see besides ?"

the congregation feel all over like the children of Israel." « Oh, all sorts."

“A very right feeling - very,” said Joseph Poorgrass. “ White as a lily? You are sure 'twas she ?"

“And there's two religions going on in the nation now “ Yes.”

High Church and High Chapel. And, thinks I, I'll play “Well, what besides?

fair; so I went to High Church in the morning, and High “Great glass windows to the shops, and great clouds in Chapel in the afternoon." the sky, full of rain, and old wooden trees in the country "A right and proper boy,” said Joseph Poorgrass. round.”

“Well, at High Church they pray singing, and believe in “ You stun-poll! What will ye say next!” said Cog. | all the colors of the rainbow; and at High Chapel they

pray preaching, and believe in drab and whitewash only. “Let en alone,” interposed Joseph Poorgrass. “The And then — I didn't see no more of Miss Everdene at boy's maning is that the sky and the earth in the kingdom

all.” of Bath is not altogether different from ours here. 'Tis for " Why didn't you say so before, then ?" exclaimed Oak, our good to gain knowledge of strange cities, and as such with much disappointment. the boy's words should be suffered, so to speak it."

“Ah," said Matthew Moon," she'll wish her cake dough “ And the people of Bath," continued Cain, "never need | if so be she's over intimate with that man."

be.”

gan.

"She's not over intimate with him," said Gabriel, indig. that point of view there was perhaps more to be said for pantly.

· banging than is generally recognized. We do not mean * She wonld know better,” said Coggan. “Our mis'ess to say that on the whole the exhibition was not of a bru-, has too much sense under those knots of black hair to do talizing tendency, and fully deserving to be abolished. such a mad thing."

But, given the publicity, it was perhaps better than the “You see, he's not a coarse, ignorant man, for he was more dignified method of bebeading. Charles Lamb, in well brought up,” said Matthew, dubiously. “'Twas only the essay to wbich we have referred, complains of the luwildness that made him a soldier, and maids rather like dicrous view which the ordinary Eaglishman always took your man of sin."

of hanging. Swist and Gay, and even Shakespeare, he * Now, Cain Ball," said Gabriel restlessly, “ can you says, invariably regard hanging as more or less of a joke. swear in the most awful form that the woman you saw was Wby this should be it is as hard to say as it is to say why Miss Everdiene?

other sufferings of the acutest kind, such as sea-sickness * Cain Ball, you are no longer a babe and suckling," said and the toothache, are always considered as ludicrous by Joseph in the sepulchral tone the circumstances demanded, the non-sufferers. Lamb certainly does not succeed in * and you know what taking an oath is. 'Tis a horrible throwing much light upon the problem. But, whatever its testament, mind ye, which you say and seal with your solution, the fact was not without its advantages. It is difblood-stone, and the prophet Matthew tells us that on ficult to regard a man who has been hanged as an interwhomsoever it shall fall it will grind him to powder. Now, osting martyr, even though we are convinced of his innobefore all the work-folk here assembled can you swear to cence. Poor Major André is perhaps an exception ; and your words as the shepherd asks ye?

yet we cannot but feel that Washington showed a certain "Please no, Mister Oak!” said Cainy, looking from one amount of worldly wisdom, if not of good feeling, in reto the other with great uneasiness at the spiritual magni- | susing to change the mode of his execution. Somehow or

tude of the position. “I don't mind saying 'tis true, but other our associations with the gallows are of an essen- I don't like to say 'tis true, if that's what you mane.” tially unromantic kind. There is no chance for dipping

* Cain, Cain, how can you l” said Joseph sternly. handkercbiefs in the sufferer's blood; no painter could pos* You are asked to swear in a holy manner, and you swear sibly make an interesting study of the closing scene; and, ilke wicked Shimei, the son of Gera, who cursed as he though here and there a simple-minded ballad may touch came. Young man, fie !”

upon it successfully, we can scarcely imagine a poetical “No, I don't ! 'Tis you want to squander a pore boy's treatment of the subject in any lostier style. If, therefore, soul, Joseph Poorgrass — that's what 'tis !” said Cain, one object of punishment be to prevent the sufferer from beginning to cry. "All I mane is that in common truth becoming a romantic hero, we have a decided impression 'twas Miss Everdene and Sergeant Troy, but in the horri- that hanging is better calculated to promote it than any ble so-help-me truth that ye want to make of it perhaps other form of death. It is so unpleasant to think of an in'twas somebody else.”

nocent man being strung up ignominiously by the neck “There's no getting at the rights of it,” said Gabriel, that the first impulse is to believe all persons who have turning to his work.

suffered that fate to be guilty. The conditions, however, “Cain Ball, you'll come to a bit of bread I” groaned are considerably changed by the present system of privacy. Joseph Poorgrass.

As we have not to take into account the effect produced Then the reapers' hooks were flourished again, and the upon the multitude of spectators, we may pay more attention old sounds went on. Gabriel, without making any pretence to the feelings of the criminal. A good many people, inof being lively, did nothing to show that he was particularly deed, still assist in imagination by the help of reporters. dull. However, Coggan knew pretty nearly how the land Perbaps in an ideal state of civilization this vicarious mode lay, and when they were in a nook together he said, - of observation would also be abolished. It would be ex

“Don't take on about her, Gabriel. What difference ceedingly impressive if the criminal's disappearance from does it make whose sweetheart she is, since she can't be court were also his final disappearance from the world. yours?

Matters might be so arranged that as the judge pronounced "That's the very thing I say to myself,” said Gabriel. the last words of the sentence, the convict should sink (To be continued.)

through a trap-door and nothing more be ever seen or heard of him. At present, for obvious reasons, this is not possible; the popular mind must be satisfied by some guar

antee that justice has been done ; but we may, perhaps, HANGING.

give a little more play to our merciful instincts by allowing

the execution to take place in the most painless way. A BENEVOLENT peer has just been calling attention to

Here, however, occurs a considerable difficulty. What a grievance which affects a small and not very select part is really the most painless mode of death? That is a of the population. He thinks that hanging is a less agree- question for which it is impossible to find conclusive eviable process than is necessary for securing the desired end; dence. If, indeed, Spiritualism had anything to say for and proposes to substitute the more civilized method prac- itself, it ought to be able to provide some kind of answer. tised in Spain. The fact that very few people are exposed The very material ghosts who revisit this world by the to the inconveniences which formed a subject of one of help of mediums are often drawn from that class which has Lamb's essays is certainly not a sufficient reason for ob a considerable experience of the subject. They are disrepjecting to their removal. We have no love for brutal mur- | utable beings of criminal antecedents, who frequently derers, who form the only class directly interested in the have made their exit to the spirit-world by the route of proposed reform; but we admit that there is suffering the gallows. A more tangible result would be obtained enough in the world to make us willing to diminish it than has hitherto been communicated to the world, if some Wherever we can. We would put the greatest ruffian out of their familiars would call up, say, the last murderers who of his misery as rapidly and easily as possible. We can have been hanged in England and guillotined in France, not affect to say that our nights are rendered sleepless by

at our nights are rendered sleepless by and get them to compare impressions. Unfortunately, inour indignation at the hardship to which our criminals are deed, the ghosts in question are such confirmed liars that exposed; but, given two modes of putting them out of the very little reliance could in any case be placed upon their world, we should prefer that which inflicted least pain. testimony. There is, however, some evidence which is The question, therefore, is a legitimate one, though not good as far as it goes. Various persons have at different calculated to absorb a large amount of public attention. times been recovered after reaching the stage of insensi. Moreover it has recently been a good deal simplified. Un- bility, and their accounts, if trustworthy, tend to show that der the old system we had to consider not merely the per- hanging is 80 pleasant a process that, but for its final resonal interests of the criminal, but the general effect of the sults, it would be worth while to indulge in it occasionally perlormance considered as a dramatic spectacle. From by way of amusement. The recovered persons, it is said,

agree that the uneasiness is " quite momentary,” that they ination. Ophelia would never have drowned herself if in then have visions of beautiful colors, and speedily become her time streams had been applied to the purposes common unconscious. Similar accounts are generally given by peo- in a civilized land. And on the same principle there cas ple wbo have recovered from drowning; and indeed phys- | be little doubt that some poisons put an end to life in the iologists tell us that, so far as can be discovered, death is quickest and least terrifying manner. An overdose of generally a more painless process than we are apt to sup | laudanum sends one out of the world with all possible re pose. If this be the case, our sympathy with the banged spect for the decencies, and, if we consulted exclusively is so far thrown away, and we might relieve the anxiety of the tastes of our criminals, we should probably put an end expecting sufferers by giving them the most authentic ac to them by some composing draught, according to the great counts of the operation which they are about to undergo. precedent of Socrates. We do not, however, pronounce

It must be admitted, indeed, in any case, that the worst any opinion as to the advisableness of any change in the part of hanging, or of any other form of execution, is prob operation. After all, the chief thing is to have some ably that very unpleasant half-hour which must be passed method which is, so to speak, sanctioned by long associapreviously to the performance. If our object be to dimin tion, and which inflicts a definite stigma upon the memory ish suffering, we must consider, not the actual pang inflicted of the sufferer. Death by law ought not to be superi at the instant, but the preliminary impression upon the ously painful, but it ought to be distinctly ignominious, and imagination. For this purpose there is a considerable therefore there is a good deal to be said for adherence to body of evidence which would demand attention. The the old-fashioned methods which have acquired a certain popularity of different forms of suicide is not a proof that significance simply by the fact that they have been pras the form adopted is really the most painless, but it is a proof tised immemorially. that it is the least terrifying to the imagination. The question as to the best mode of performing the operation is often discussed, but unluckily the results are rather ambiguous. Few persons who commit suicide, in fact, are

A SAIL AT SCARBOROUGH. cool enough to set about their end in a business-like manner. A soldier naturally shoots himself because he has

BY WALTER THORNBURY. the materials always at hand. Women, it is said, incline in a general way to hanging, because they have contracted “The Queen of Watering Places," as Yorkshiremenan aversion to fire-arms, which remains with them - though with affectionate vanity call Scarborough, though not in it must be admitted that the logical process is not very the full pomp of her special season, looked more beautiful sound - even when the dangerous character of an imple. than usual that April morning as the waves washed up ment should be its chief recommendation. Drowning, / against the pier stones with a lisping sound, or spread again, has recommendations to many people, not on ac- along the line of the north sands in that broad crescent count of its intrinsic merits, but because rivers are always frill of snow which has now been for several generations fa handy, and because, in many cases, a voluntary perform the favorite fashion for the skirts of Amphitrite's royal ance may be easily mistaken for an accident. The choice robe. would appear to depend generally upon the peculiarity of At the very end of the pier on this April morning, and a temperament which makes it pleasantest for one person to just beyond a fishing-boat, which had unloaded its silver 2 plunge at once into cold water and for another to slink in spoil of herrings some two hours before, and on whose 157 by degrees. A man with vigorous nerves likes to take the deck two or three rough boys, in blue guernseys fitting 22 shock and have done with it. A more excitable person tight as coats of mail, lay stretched in a dead sleep on ci generally shrinks from the shock, even more than from the great brown heaps of fishing-nets, stood two persons of its change which it introduces, and dreads nothing which can remarkable appearance. The one, a droll-looking man, be brought about by slow degrees. The French school of was fishing for whitings with ludicrous earnestness; the suicide has distinguished itself by its fondness for the other, an older and sterner individual, was seated on a ?? charcoal process; which to Englishmen generally suggests coil of rope, reading some rather greasy-looking manuassociations, unpleasant even at the moment of death, of script, evidently of a dramatic character, and drawing i stuffiness, headache, and discomfort. The most elaborate bitter consolation from deep-drawn sucks of a very dark 2 plan that we remember is described as having been adopted brown, suspicious-looking cigar. From the appearance at Paris. According to some ingenious author of contem of the younger of the two, who hummed snatches of comic porary history, a professor of the art kept a hospitable ta- songs as he hopefully threw out and madly drew in his 10 ble, which persons about to commit suicide were in the very dirty-looking fishing-line, and wore a large blue scarf 12 habit of visiting. They partook of a good dinner, with studded with golden spots, and fastened by an obtrusive in plenty of wine and excellent cookery, paying the bill, we looking enamel pin in the shape of a large pink shrimp, an in presume, beforehand, with the understanding that a subtle / observant spectator might not have been far wrong in setpoison would be mixed in one of the dishes not previously ting him down as Fred Flitterby, the low comedian of Mr. specified. We fear that the entertainer would be under a Algernon Bulbury's company, then performing * School strong temptation to put it into the soup, by way of saving in the Theatre Royal, Scarborough. Nor would the same himself the rest of the performance. But if full reliance intelligent personage have been, probably, long in rec could be placed upon the host we feel that such a mode of ognizing his elder and more buttoned-up companion with death, if not precisely in accordance with Christian morality, , the cigar and manuscript, as Octavius Kemble Hargrove, would have its recommendation for many temperaments. the first tragedian, or, more commonly, heavy father at It is pleasanter to the imagination to allow the blow to the same talented brotherhood. There was tragedy in the strike you without being aware at the instant of its de- puffy brown pouch under each of his eyes, Hamlet in the scent, than to encounter it knowingly and visibly. And, | right crow's-foot, and Othello in the left. His complexion indeed, if men of science should occupy themselves with was bilious, as became tyrants; his chin a murky blue, as the problem, there cannot be much doubt that some kind befitted ruffians. He spoke in a deep stage voice, and, of poisoning would be the plan adopted in the interests of when affable, had a habit of arching his bushy eyebrows as the sufferer. There is something unpleasant about every | if his manager had suddenly volunteered an increase of mode of death which involves a suspicious-looking appara- salary. He walked pompously, partly because he was tus. A cold river in the winter is much more terrifying portly, and partly because it was his notion of the royal than a pleasant stream in the midst of summer. The end gait. Whether from long practice in playing the “Strane may be precisely the same, and the actual amount of suf ger” to small country audiences, or from natural gloom fering not less in one case than the other. But the instinct of disposition enhanced by bad engagements and small of self-preservation survives in a modified form even with salaries, still more reduced by far too much grog, Mr. Ocpeople who have decided to put an end to themselves, and tavius Kemble Hargrove was in the habit of wearing warns them against everything that is painful to the imag- rather seedy and extremely light-blue frock-coat, which

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »