« ZurückWeiter »
merit; but nothing can exalt the vulgar oblong of baked clay, which forms the walls of our meanest hovels. It is essentially prosaic, and instantly deprives ancient castles of all their poetry. That emperor was well entitled to boast, who could say of Rome "Lateritiam inveni, marmoream reliqui."
Henri Quatre was not above the old legitimate impiety of enlisting the God of peace in our miserable squabbles and mutual massacres. Previously to the battle of Arques, when some one observed upon the smallness of his force, he replied
"You do not reckon God and the good cause." His laconic epistle to Crillon after the victory is characteristic "Pendstoi, brave Crillon! nous avons battu l'ennemi á Arques, et tu n'y étois pas." He who could dictate such a letter, must have formed a right royal estimate of the pleasure to be derived from exposing a valuable life in his cause.
It was on my return from an excursion to this interesting ruin, that, as I passed a poulterer's shop in the Grande Rue, I recognised the voice of my old civic acquaintance Mr. Hodgskins, negotiating with "Madame la Bourgeoise" for some of her commodities after the following fashion-"I say, maʼam, avez-vous a Dingdong?" an inquiry more than once repeated in answer to the woman's exclamations of "Comment, Monsieur ?" and " Plaitil, Monsieur?" followed up by the more expressive interrogatories of her astonished countenance, as she silently appealed by her looks to the rest of the party for explanation. For myself I determined to remain neuter, having been more than once employed by my countrymen in France, to higgle and interpret in their petty purchases, to the imminent danger of dissatisfying both parties, without being thanked by either. Mr. Anthony, my friend's son, whose thorough John Bull face, contrasted with the Frenchified costume he had picked up in their trip to Paris, forcibly recalled Ovid's description of the
Minotaur" Semibouenque virum, semivirumque bovem," seemed to be no better a linguist than his father, for he edged off to the door, and, to avoid being implicated in the dilemma, pretended to be observing one of the Sœurs de Charité, who was stopping in the street, that two little ragged urchins might kiss her rosary. In this emergency Mrs. Hodgskins bustled forward, and turning up her nose at her husband, (rather a work of supererogation, as nature had permanently given it that tendency,) tartly exclaimed-" you had much better leave these things to me, Mr. H-, for you know your accent is so wretched bad that nobody under. stands you. Would you believe it," she continued, turning to me, that when our Tony wanted a Maitre d'armes to teach him fencing, Mr. H
went to the Guard Room of the Barracks, and inquired for a Maitre des dames !" After laughing at this blunder of her husband's she advanced to the Marchande de Volaille, and with a condescending smile, that was meant to insinuate her meaning, slowly pronounced-" Madame, avex-vous Dang-dong?"
The Bourgeoise again shrugged up her shoulders at this unintelligible inquiry, and looked at me with such a blank and piteous wish for an ecclaircissement, that I at length explained to her my friend was in want of a Dindon, or Turkey, with which he was presently furnished; and on our way home he stoutly maintained the propriety of his own pronunciation, insinuating that the people pretended to misunderstand the English in revenge for having been beaten at Waterloo. "Besides," he added, "I defy them to understand their own language, when the word personne means any body, every body, or nobody; when verser signifies to fill a glass, to empty a glass, to overturn a coach, to shed tears, and fifty things besides. For my part, I'm astonished they don't all take to speaking plain
English, that they may have a chance of knowing what they are about. But did I ever tell you the hoax played off upon me by Dick Smart? you know what a wag Dick is. Well, sir, we came over in the steam-boat together, and as he speaks the lingo a bit, I asked him to accompany us to Paris. Dick, says I, what's the meaning of P. A. C. I.* which one sees stuck upon so many of the houses? Why, says Dick, there are so many English travel this road now, that they are beginning to put up the inscriptions in our language, and you may observe upon most of the shop-windows-English spoked here,' or English spiked here;' though, when you get inside, they can seldom go beyond-vairy goat and vairy sheep,' which they constantly repeat, however bad and dear their articles may be. The letters about which you inquire, are the initials o 'Pleasant and cheap inn," which every English traveller is presumed to understand, and I can assure you, upon my own experience, that you may get a very good and reasonable dinner wherever you see this notice.
"I never thought Dick was running his rigs upon me, so one day, when I was too late for dinner at home, I stalked into a good-looking house of this sort, walked up stairs, and seeing a large party at table just going to attack the soup, I concluded it was an ordinary, took my seat, and began to handle the ladle, for there was nothing else but the cat's-meat bouilli, which I never touch. I shall never forget their astonished looks, and the exclamations that ran round the table of, 'Mon Dieu !' 'Grand Dieu !'' Sacré Dieu!' Vrai nom de Dieu !' and Tonnere de Dieu!' after which the master of the house made me a low bow, and a long speech of which I didn't understand a word; but just to let them see that I could parlez-vous a little, I gave
*The Fire-office plates-Pour Assurance Contre Incendie."
him a nod with a 'Comment vous portez-vous, Mounsheer?" and thinking he might be wanting me to cash up before dinner, I took out my purse and asked him Combien ?' Lord love you! I wish you had seen what a rage they all got into. One of them seized me by the collar, but I cried out'Paws off, Mounsheer and chucking him aside with such a jerk that he upset a little side-table, with all its bottles and glasses, I put myself in a boxing attitude. Squall! went the women; ' Peste!' and Diable!' cried the men, and one of them threw up the window and called to some body in the street; when presently two John d'Armes with long sabres made their appearance at the door, and civilly enough told me I was their prisoner. I don't like these John d'Armes-I never did; so I offered them five francs to let me off, but they wouldn't bite, and marched me off a prisoner, and if we hadn't met my landlord, who luckily speaks good English, and to whom I explain-ed the whole matter, I don't know what would have become of me. Upon his representation they set me free, and an Englishman loves his liberty too much to put it a second time in jeopardy, so we started next morning for Dieppe; to-morrow I hope to be at Brighton, and if ever you catch me in France again, why my name's not Hodgskins, that's all I say!"
SPECIMENS OF A TIMBUCTOO ANTHOLOGY.
"Nor ought a genius less than his that writ
AT the very moment when repeated and painful failures seemed to have extinguished the last hope of ever penetrating to Timbuctoo, when the staunchest friends of African civilization and the extension
of British commerce feel themselves bound to discourage the temerity of the fresh victims who are willing to sacrifice themselves in an enterprise of so hopeless and desperate a nature, accident has made us acquainted with an individual who has passed several months in the capital of this hitherto unexplored country, upon whose authority we mean to gratify the curiosity of our readers with a very brief and hasty notice of its manners and literature. In order that they may duly appreciate the authenticity of our narrative, we think it right to state the name of our informant, captain Jonathan Washington Muggs, a citizen of Georgia, in the United States, whose vessel, the Black-eyed Lass, as some of our readers may perhaps recollect, was surrounded and nearly crushed a few years ago by the terrible sea-serpent, until several shots from a twelvepounder judiciously directed into the monster's left eye, induced him to uncoil himself and dart through the waters in search of a Collyrium. Mr. Muggs, it seems, is the son of a Timbuctoo slave, by an American, residing on the banks of the Turtle river in Georgia; and, as his father was almost constantly at sea, his mother instructed him in her native tongue-a fortunate circumstance to which himself and the British public are equally indebted, the former for the preservation of his life, the latter for the invaluable information we are about to communicate.
Captain Muggs was bound from Charleston to Liverpool, with a cargo of cotton, when, in a violent storm from the south-west, which continued for several days, his vessel was driven ashore and wrecked on the coast of Africa, not far from the island of Goree, and the whole of the crew were instantly made prisoners by the savage Mandingoes. Such as were able-bodied and capable of working were sold as slaves; two sick sailors, and an old American author, who happened to be on