« PrécédentContinuer »
him at once for six weeks, as a vagrant words reaching my ears from the con and vagabond--we shall see then how stable about reward, and from the things turn out in the mean time.'
fisherman about expenses. “As a vagabond ?" will you, said the On leaving the justice's house, we stranger, with a glance of fire. And walked some distance without interthe aliquis quorum was about to re- changing a word; I, in the practice criminate, when I, impelled by an un- of my unobtrusive system, preserving controllable burst of feeling, stepped a studied silence. Presently he thrust forward, and desired to offer a few re- his arm within mine, and began to marks. His worship, upon learning address me in the style of « Pierre to that they were to be in favour of the Jatfier." “ culprit," was at first indisposed to or 'Twas not well done. I would listen to me, and required a proper de have seen,” said he, “that justice and scription of myself.
bis peace blockhead at the lowest reFortunately, I had credentials about gions of Tartarus, before I would me sufficient to prove that I was, as I have yielded a point to them. I am had represented myself, a London at- too indifferent to all that can happen ; torney-an announcement which caus- however, I ought not to be the less ed a general silence while I addressed obliged to you for your kindness-a the bench-alias, the man in the el- stranger as I am ; for, after all, your bow chair. I made a few observations interference has probably saved me upon the case, gently hinting that there from the unpleasant consequence of was such a thing as an action for false my obstinacy. I am not insensible to imprisonment--that there was no law the delicacy of your behaviour last to punish a man merely for refusing night; but remember, you are to dine to tell his name; and finally, suggests with me to-day ; you shall then judge ed that the landlord of the Bear whether or not l' have cause to hate should be sent for. This being done, a name, as you have perceived I do.” Mr B. stated, in answer to some Upon this we parted for a few hours, questions from me, that, excepting the leaving me, as may be supposed, gentleman's unaccountable antipathy anxious to learn the reasons of his to having a name, he had acted as extraordinary aversion to a cognomuch like a gentleman as any gentleman he had ever had in his house ; and I will not trouble the reader with moreover, that he had been talking an uninteresting detail of the various that very morning of staying at his conjectures which I formed in the inn for a month. I then examined interim; and I have the less authority the fisherman as to his having seen for doing so, as none of them apme before, and, upon his reply in proached the truth. If any one who the affirmative, I asked him if I had may peruse this account, entertain not put the very selfsame question to any doubts as to the correctness of him in regard to what vessels sailed this general assertion, I pray them along the coast, and receiving his an. to lay aside this paper for a few moswer to the same effect, I begged to ments, and employ themselves in arknow if his worship thought he would ranging their ideas in as many combibe justified in committing me. In con- nations as their patience will permit. clusion, I urged the necessity of the From the failure of their own fancies acceptance of bail, and tendering a they will the more readily believe fifty-pound note, offered to become a that I did not hit the mark. Those surety for the stranger's re-appearance. who are disposed to take my own All this time the stranger had been word, may proceed with me at once to surveying me, as I thought, with some the stranger's relation. degree of dissatisfaction. Whether I I waited on the stranger, according succeeded in effecting a revolution in to invitation, in the afternoon; and, as his worship’s sentiments I cannot tell- I am not writing professedly for certain it is I did in his actions; but cooks, it will be sufficient to say that reluctant, seemingly, to lose his object, the dinner was excellent and abundant, he observed -—" He has been swearing, with no want of concomitants. That however."
affair transacted, including a few inI proffered the fine, which was ac- cidental remarks, he bade me select my oopted; and the unknown was then liquor and light my cigar, and on comdischarged upon my security-some plying with his hospitable mandates,
he disposed himself to commence his nomen by which I was distinguished, narration, which he did, as near as I and here my cognominal troubles becan recollect, in the following words, gan. I was of a quiet and docile dishis tones, which were at first tremu- position, and had been always more lous, becoming composed as he pro- partial to reading than to those triceeded.
fling amusements, a fondness for which When I left the metropolis, with is the usual characteristic of children; the intention of abiding in a spot where and being now placed in a more exin all likelihood I might be perfectly tended field of study, I was not slow in unknown, I certainly imagined that availing myself of the advantages ofI should have escaped any further an- fered by it. My consequent attennoyance ; but the ridiculous scene at tion and progress procured me the the justice's this morning makes me good-will of principal and assistants ; very dubious of success anywhere. The but unfortunately, and as if to detract justice was nearer the truth, perhaps, from my happiness, there were six or than he himself suspected, when he seven other Smiths in the school, said that it was not my first examina- which was pretty numerous, and sevetion; but his deductions from that sup- ral of these being Edwards, in spite position were altogether wrong. of the utmost vigilance, it was not We do but row, we're steer'd by fate,'
always possible to avoid a confound
ing of names, and with them the per. says Hudibras; and it does appear to me sons who bore them. Thus, for inasif the steerage were completely taken stance, at the end of one half-year, I out of my hands: one name was a plague was inexpressibly mortified to find a to me, half-a-dozen others did me as parcel of black marks set down to my much disservice, and the want of one account for absence from prayers, is just as troublesome. But I must re- neglect in attendance on the matin solve this enigmatical talk. You must bell, improper disposition of the chairs know, then, that I am the son of and baskets in the bedrooms, with a I know not whom. I will credit my variety of other delinquencies, which senses that I am of sober flesh and those who have been schoolboys will blood; but to whom I owe these said readily remember ; and I do believe attributes of humanity I am in the the little wretches who rejoiced in the most profound ignorance. The first name of Smith, which to me was a time that I may be said to be cogni- cause of torment, often wilfully consant of my existence, I was under the trived to throw the blame upon me. care of an aged and respectable couple, The correct performance named Smith, in a little village in tasks, however, being repeated propria Bedfordshire, who appeared to have personâ, could never be disputed. nothing to do but to attend to me. With such vexations, sometimes trifThem I addressed by the endearing ling, sometimes serious, several years appellation of father and mother; and glided on, till at last that which I then had their respective paternity and max considered the crowning one occurred. ternity, been actual, they could not One summer's afternoon, a number of have evinced more solicitude for my the boys were allowed to go out by welfare. It was, therefore, with the themselves, among whom my evil deepest sorrow that I learned, in my genius caused me to be included. As tenth year, that I was to be translated I have already hinted, my inclination to a school in Oxfordshire, conducted not being adapted for the rough fun by a Mr E., a man of spotless inte- which boys generally seek on such grity, as I have every reason to ac- occasions, I withdrew from the rest, knowledge. There appeared to be and reclining sub tegmine of some tree some necessity in the case; for the or other, no matter which, in the neighguardians of my early years were as bouring fields, I set myself to the quiet grieved as myself at the moment of enjoyment of a volume of Hume and separation. Be that as it may, the Smollett which I had borrowed from separation took place, and I found the principal's library. The exploits myself in a situation to which the of our Fifth Henry so attracted my comparative solitude of my former attention, that I suffered the other boys one gave additional novelty, Here to return some time before me. When I was duly docketed and classed as I reached the house, the footman, with Master Edward Smith, the first cog- an ominous formality, desired me to
proceedimmediately to the schoolroom, being burned, together with the shed.
, where the first thing that struck me A lad, who came up at the time, was all the Smiths congregated toge- heard the boy nearest the shed adther in front of the principal's desk, in dressed by his companions as they which Mr. E. himself was enthroned, took to flight by the, to me, unlucky the four teachers flanking right and name of Smith ; and this, as none of left. Having obeyed Mr E,'s com. them could be recognised, was the mand to take a station foremost a- only clue she possessed to the perpemong the said Smiths, he began to trator of the mischief, besides being interrogate me in a most unwonted previously aware that the gang be. tone, as to where I had been and what longed to Mr E.'s school.
The sight I had been doing. Alarmed as I was of the tears coursing each other over at such a sudden display, I gathered her aged cheeks as she detailed her up nerve enough to answer him. To losses, and the expected consequences the next question—“ Was there any touching my heart, rather generously one to corroborate my story?"- I was constituted, made me put my hand in obliged to answer in the negative, my pocket, always well supplied by as indeed I had none except Hume my savings, and offer the amount and Smollett, and I need tell you they to her. I glanced at Mr E., and were not available witnesses. The thought I saw a smile of approbation other little vagabonds held together beaming upon his features ; but a in a tale, till, though still ignorant of whisper from a new writing-master, these, to me, awful proceedings, I who had been a lawyer's clerk, gawished myself at Agincourt before I thered them up again into formidable had indulged in my solitary mood. and revengeful wrinkles, while he forIt is not improbable that they were bade the application of the money to prompted to revenge upon my accus- the intended purpose. He then sertomed disdain of their petty amuse- monized a little on the heinousness of ments. After a few more queries, I falsehood, and required the solemn ventured to propose one, with a view
denials of the Smiths, which I gave to ascertain what was the matter; but with at least as much truth as any of all the answer I received was, “ I am them. Mr E., thus unable to dissorry appearances are so much against cover the real actor of the deed, you, and that you probably know more exhibited some of the signs of the than you acknowledge. This I irritabile genus ; and reasoning in thought very hard from Mr E., who this manner, that, as the Smiths of had always shown so much partiality that afternoon's party could and to me; but I now see that he was a would not make any discovery, they perfect school Brutus, who suffered no were all participes criminis, he an. private feelings to interfere with his nounced his intention on the morrow, notions of justice. Mr E. then desired if the actual delinquent was not forththe footman to usher in Mrs Smith, coming, to subject all the Smiths of (Smith again,) who made her appears that set to a severe flogging, and to ance accordingly, in the shape of a appropriate their pocket-money to a decrepid old woman hobbling upon a joint purse to repair the old woman's stick; but her lameness and figure were damage. With this warning we were misfortunes which I am not the one dispatched to our beds. My growing to ridicule, I will therefore only say detestation of the name of Smith was that she was very unlike the Mrs Smith now at its full height, and I internalof my early years. From her story, ly vowed, on the first opportunity, to repeated at the request of Mr E., I first put myself hors-du-catalogue of Smith. learned what all the parade was about. I found that a common name was a It appeared that severalof the boys hav- common pest; but I had yet to learn ing been amusing themselves with gun- that a name might place a person in powder and fireworks near this old wo. a yet more awkward predicament. man's cottage, one of them maliciously In the bedroom, some of my schoolthrew a squib into a shed at a little fellows (uncursed, lucky mortal, with distance, with design doubtless only to the name of Smith) informed me that terrify two pigs and a donkey contained my prolonged absence had principally in it; the squib, however, communica- fixed suspicion on me, as it was generting with some straw, notonly frighten ally attributed to fear. The next ed the animals, but was the cause of their morning, the required discovery hav.
ing remained uneffected, the threat- not only on their own account but on ened flagellation took place, and my yours. Why I was selected to conduct back was punished for nothing that I your education I do not know; but could comprehend, but because I bore when I received you from them, they the thrice-devoted name of Smith ! gave me to understand that they were -the pocket allowances being put not at liberty to divulge any particuunder stoppages to repay Mr E. the lars concerning you till your present money immediately advanced to re- year ; the funds assigned for your build the shed, and purchase a fresh maintenance were transferred to me at donkey and pigs. I have perhaps the time of your removal here, but dwelt too long upon this story; but their sudden decease leaves us both I really could not abstract it, warmed in the dark as to your real parentage. as I am by the recollection of my un- The principal is still in my hands, and merited sufferings, and the remem- according to their directions is to conbrance of subsequent occurrences.
tinue with me till your majority ; nor Some two or three years after, how do I think you will find it the worse ever, I had the consolation of being for my management. It is now time acquitted of any share in the mischief, that you should mingle in general soby the confession of the true delin- ciety, that you may wear off your quent after leaving the school. school rust, and be qualified for the re“ As I was so long a sojourner at spectable rank it will be in your power
House, you may suppose I saw to maintain. Though you must submany bid farewell to the mansion, mit to remain with me for three years and many new.comers in their place. longer, I am not afraid of trusting you I did so; but, as I am a living man, meanwhile.' I wept abundantly duI do not believe that the Smiths ever ring this kind address, afflicted as I diminished in number. However, was, too, with the thoughts of my early though I continued every now and protectors. I learned from him that I then to experience some annoyance should have, chiefly from arrears of from that little detestable five-lettered interest, and a judicious outlay of camonosyllable, none of them came up pital, an income of several hundreds to the striking one of the donkey and a-year with which to enter the world. pigs, which perhaps you as heartily I was accordingly withdrawn from execrate as I did at the time." At scholastic matters, a separate room this intimation of a dread on his part
for me, and the servants that he was ennuying me, I assured ordered to wait on me as on himself. him that I was highly interested in Pursuant to his plan, he introduced his relation. Apparently satisfied me to various parties, and at intervals with these assurances, he emptied his I visited London ; but wherever I glass, replenished it, and pursued went the execrable name of Smith the thread of his discourse.
met me, often as thickly packed as now about eighteen, when Mr E. cages in a bird-fancier's. I could alone day called me in to his private most have imagined at that period study, and informed me that he had that the surnames of Adam and Eve just received the news of the death of were Smith,* and that the largest pormy supposed parents within a few tion of the earth's inhabitants were hours of each other. I had visited Smithed, particularly after reading in them constantly during the holidays, a newspaper that a Scotchman had and on my last visit perceived no
been discovered domiciliated among signs of decay. I had often pleased the Red Indians of America, and that myself with the idea of residing with he was a Smith.t I am now, howthem and cheering their old age, and ever, satisfied, that when the mind has this first disappointment shocked me a name strongly impressed upon it, its extremely. They were a worthy attention is more readily drawn to it, pair, continued Mr E., observing and hence the appearance of its being my agitation, and I regret their loss, unusually common. I will not detain
in I was
" It is a name so spread o'er 'Sir' and ' Madam,'
Don Juan, Canto VII.-XXV. † A fact.
you with any of my meditations du- accident--forgetful that this was also ring the three years preceding the ter- a travelled appellation. I assigned no mination of my legal infancy but to reason, nor did he seek for one. You add, that first among them was the are doubtless surprised at my early determination to drop my name as sensitiveness about a name. If the soon as my power equalled my will. motives I have mentioned will not acMy romantic imagination often raised count for it, I can give you no other, some bright images of connubial feli
unless you suppose me afflicted with city; but none of the belles dames whom a peculiar madness which the Stoics I encountered reached my standard of were wont to ascribe to every one. If female excellence, so that my atten- you are inclined to smile at it, do so; tions never exceeded respect. My but allow me to answer in the lantime was mostly spent in study, and
guage of Horace occasional communications with the
• Qui me deridet, caudam trahat.' magazines. Some of my productions met with applause which common “My first lodging, which I obtained sense would suppose I should have at without difficulty, from being perleast possessed alone; but the signature sonally known as a friend of Mr E., of Smith left me but a small portion of was in a boarding house kept by the my earnings. There were too many widow of a naval officer, whose table Smiths communicating with the maga- was frequented by a select and fazines. On one occasion some of my shionable party, and where I conserhymes, on which I had bestowed quently mingled in the best society, more than common pains, appeared- Though a proper degree of selfas if I was to be mortified in propor- esteem restrained me from plunging tion to my efforts actually preceded into the vortex of dissipation, it did and followed by some really miserable not altogether prevent my joining in verses compared with those of your some of the gay scenes of the sphere humble servant, with the very self- in which I was moving. The theatres, same signature attached to them; and balls, masquerades, and entertainon another, the editor formally re- ments of all kinds, were acceptable to quested his Smith correspondents to me; not because I was really enrapaffix some distinguishing mark, as he tured with the trifles which form the had been a good deal troubled with bulk of amusements at such places, the nominal (certainly only nominal) but because I loved to see every one similarities. I should weary your pa- happy about me-such a sight causing tience were I to relate all the little a feeling of happiness to myself. I disagreeable situations in which that desired also to see life in all its vari. every-point-of-the-compass name in- ous grades ; but my timidity withheld volved me; suffice it to say, that I at me from going too far without a guide, length attained my twenty-first year. and as yet I had none. I ventured Resolved to settle in London, where once, in my eagerness, to bribe a beg* I imagined I could put my design into gar to take me to a beggar's feast execution, I proceeded accordingly to somewhere near Saffron Hill; but as that city, accompanied by Mr E., I could not support the character profor the purpose of being invested by perly, the deceit was detected, and I him with the sole control of my mo- scarcely escaped with a whole skin by ney, which was laid out in the public leaping through a window. The man funds, and for every farthing of which who introduced me was expelled from he faithfully accounted. For a ra- their fraternity, and became very tional use of it, he had already prepa- troublesome in his demands upon me, red me by the admirable manner in in consideration of his silence, and which he had gradually accustomed his loss, as the fellow had the impume to the value of
After a dence to term it. For the former, as short stay, he left me with many af- it turned out, I owed him nothing ; fectionate admonitions and demonstra- and the pressgang soon after rid me tions of regard. In pursuance of my of any further importunity on account determination, my first letter to him of the latter. This adventure increacontained a request that he would in sed my caution, and I confined myself future address me as Mr Jones-a
to my own circle name which I pitched upon by mere “ Among the individuals whom I met