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grandfathers of some of our wealthiest gentry, and of the most eminent of our living statesmen, have been mechanics and artisans. From the nature of things, these grand prizes in the lottery of life can be only gained by a few; but if every man has a chance, it is as much as he has any right to expect. All poor men try to get rich; and it is no injustice to the many that only a few succeed. Drudgery and dependence are doubtless evils; but it is a great mistake to suppose that opulence is always a good.-New Monthly Magazine.
A GOOD TRUTH WELL STATED.
We regard man as a progressive being, and capable of being lifted by moral and intellectual culture to a far higher position in the scale of being than he has yet occupied. Classes and communities may be rough and rugged, and even reckless, but they are capable of improvementthey have heads to think, and hearts to feel. They can be reached by kindness, and are soon able to distinguish be tween the man who courts merely to make tools of them to serve his own personal or political purposes, and the man who seeks, from no self-interested view whatever, not to court, but to counsel them, and to tell them the truth in love-though the truth he tells may be frequently disagreeable for them to hear.-Airdrie Advertiser (a new monthly paper).
I have heard of some whose boast it is that, on any given topic, they can speak for any given time; even as Lucilius used, standing on one foot, to make two hundred verses, quality being, in either case, 'no object.' I have asked to what use is this power applied, and I have been told of some neat and appropriate' after-dinner advocacy of a patriotic and popular sentiment, amidst much jingling of glasses and great applause; or of some pathetic exposition in a debating club of the wrongs of the Scottish Mary, and the cruelty of her decapitation. I have listened to such, and if they were fair specimens of their class, there have been much well-considered gesticulation, much not unpleasing play of countenance and modulation of voice, 'periods well turned,' and 'points well made;' but no earnestness, no sincerity, no soul. The words rang hollow; they seemed to come from, rather than from out, the speaker; from the outer wall of the teeth,' not from the citadel of the heart. They were a reflection not of the speaker's thoughts, but of what he thought that the hearers thought his thoughts should be. And when the exhibition was over, there was left no distinct or strong impression; no lesson had been taught, but (most unconsciously) that of the worthlessness of words, when they are only the ornamental cenotaphs of thought. To persons of this class the abolition of some good stock grievance, if they meddle with such, is a sad calamity; it narrows their vocation, and puts them on 'short time.' But, generally, it is only against obsolete oppressions that they wax indignant; it is only for widely-admitted utilities that they contend. Applause, the breath of other men's nostrils, by which they live, would be more scarce, if they could not denounce or plead without offence to any. To all such let there, in every sense, be peace!-Dr W. B. Hodgson's Address to the Mental Improvement Society of the Liverpool Mechanics Institution.
ON HEARING THE CLOCK STRIKE AT MIDNIGHT ON THE 31ST DECEMBER.
BY LEITCH RITCHIE,
HARK! In that dirge-like peal what magic lies
So, when a few faint notes of distant song
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO.
FIFTEEN years have now elapsed since the commencement of our literary labours. The present number of the Journal is the beginning of our sixteenth year. Fifteen years are a considerable section of time, and witness many changes which, however inadequately appreciated as they occur, assume a degree of importance in the retrospect. We may be said to have seen two generations change their character. Those who, fifteen years ago, were babies dandled in the nurse's arms, are now young men and women about to enter into active life; those who were boys, are now men; lads just emerging from school and college, are now grave papas of thirty years and upwards; misses with red shoes are no longer romps, but mothers of families, engaged in the high consideration of finishing establishments for daughters and professions for sons. Our sheet is now read by the children of those who were children when we entered on our career. By many our paper must be looked upon as a prodigiously old concern: they will profess having seen it as long as they can remember. 'I have read you ever since I was a boy,' said a gentleman of portly bearing to us one day. The lapse of time had never before been presented so palpably to the eye. We began forthwith to consider oursclves as somewhat aged persons.
And yet the progress of years is felt by us in no other way than in the consciousness of an increased desire to established. It is now so long since we told what these work out the purposes for which the present work was purposes were, that many who have not followed us from the commencement are apt to form incorrect impressions on the subject, and to recommend plans inconsistent with our principles of management. In the Editor's address to his readers (February 4, 1832), it was intimated that the object of the publication was to take advantage of the universal appetite for instruction which at present exists; to supply to that appetite food of the best kind, and in such a form, and at such a price, as must suit the convenience of every man in the British dominions. Every Saturday, when the labourer draws his humble earnings, he shall have it in his power to purchase, with an insignificant portion of even that humble sum, a meal of healthful, useful, and agreeable mental instruction: nay, every schoolboy shall be able to purchase, with his pocketmoney, something permanently useful-something calculated to influence his fate through life-instead of the trash upon which the grown children of the present day were wont to expend it. The scheme of diffusing knowledge has certainly more than once been attempted on respectable principles, by associations established under all the advantages of an extensive capital, as well as the influence of baronial title, and the endeavour has generally been attended with beneficial results. Yet the great end has not been gained. The dearth of the publications, the harshness of official authority, and, above all, the method of attaching the interests of political or ecclesiastical corporations to the course of instruction or reading, have, separately or conjunctly, circumscribed the limits of their operation; so that the world, on the whole, is but little the wiser for all the attempts which have in this manner been made. The strongholds of ignorance, though not unassailed, remain still to be carried. Carefully eschewing the errors into which these praiseworthy associations have unfortunately fallen, I take a course altogether novel. Whatever may be my political principles and I would not be in the least degree ashamed to own and defend them-neither these principles, nor any other, which would assuredly be destructive to my present views, shall ever mingle in my observations on the conventional arrangements of civil society. Nothing could afford me more unmitigated pleasure than to learn that CHAMBERS'S EDINBURGH JOURNAL yielded equal edification and delight to the highest conservative party in the state, and to the boldest advocate of a universal democracy: or was
labour and other means of insuring health, the sanitary improvement of towns, and, generally speaking, everything which tends to elevate the mental condition of the people. With regard to the advances contemporaneously made in This frank avowal that our paper was to be addressed to the arts, they are in themselves a wonder, and inspire all; that it should, as far as possible, avoid topics and allu- the highest hopes of what is yet in store for busy and sions of a controversial nature, met with general sympathy energetic-minded England. It is not the least remarkable and approbation; and it seems scarcely necessary to ex- fact in relation to these movements, that not one of them plain that, by adhering to these maxims throughout, while was projected or primarily assisted by any statesman, unikeeping at the same time ahead in questions of social eco-versity, corporation, or other influential power. Even men nomy, the work has attained its well-known large circula- of reputed learning had little or nothing to do with them. tion, and has survived amidst the wreck of numerous com- The whole were the suggestion of thoughtful persons movpetitors. ing in no high sphere of life. Opinions first combated as With these good results before us, it would surely be visionary, were afterwards embraced as truths. The press highly unwise now to alter our plans, in order to please the -that modern marvel- caught the general enthusiasm; fancies of any sect, party, or individual. It is our firm con- and finally, statesmen and legislatures yielded a lagging viction that any attempt to do so would be attended by adherence to what half the world had long since given failure. The many would be lost for the sake of the few their assent. The work of social, moral, physical imwho would be gained, and the work would soon dwindle provement has, in a word, been of and by the people. into deserved insignificance. So much we say in all friend-Logic has not done it, mathematics have not done it, clasliness to those who seem inclined to fasten upon us func- sical learning and endowments have not done it. The tions for which we have no vocation. No, no; we must industrious and almost self-taught section of the people of decline usurping the mission of the politician and the Great Britain have alone done it. The honour is entirely divine; we must leave the newspaper and the evangelical theirs. How curious a tale to be hereafter told by the magazine to follow out their respective aims. To us, be it historian, that the great steps in civilisation which marked enough that we hold by the original charter of our con- the second quarter of the nineteenth century were in no stitution. CHAMBERS'S EDINBURGH JOURNAL shall never respect promoted, but actually retarded, by ministers of the be written for this or that country, or to meet this or that crown; by all the learned bodies, so called; as well as by fashion of opinion, but remain to the end what it has been nearly every individual who, by his wealth, rank, or stafrom the beginning-a LITERARY MISCELLANY, aspiring to tion, might have been reasonably expected to aid in the inculcate the highest order of morals, universal brother- movement! hood, and charity; to present exalted views of Creative Wisdom and Providential Care; and to impart correct, or at all events earnest and carefully formed, ideas on subjects of economic or general concern; endeavouring at the same time to raise no false expectations, to outrage no individual opinion, and to keep out of sight everything that would set mankind by the cars.*
read with as much avidity at the cheerless firesides of the Irish Roman Catholic peasantry, as at those of the more highly cultivated Presbyterian cottars of my native land.'
The necessary meliorations are not all completed. Society is only growing up to a due perception of many things which it is desirable to rectify for the sake of general happiness. The question of national education cannot now rest till divested of narrow views, and placed on a broad practical basis. This, we expect, will be the great work of the ensuing ten years. The condition of the accumuIt is so far favourable to the performance of these reso-lating masses of poor in large towns is likewise a problem lutions, that our task is becoming daily more easy, in con- requiring much consideration. A reorganisation of rural sequence of society having outlived differences which used management is evidently necessary, for it is intimately to excite hostile and unpleasant emotions. Much clearer connected with the subsistence of the people. Along with views are now also entertained on subjects that were this, the game laws and laws of entail will require conformerly treated with comparative indifference. Great, siderable modification. The practice of interring, and also for example, have been the advances since 1832 with that of having abbatoirs, in towns, are discreditable to respect to the accountability and punishment of criminals, the age, and cannot long endure. Why there is no system the treatment of the poor and the insane, the temperance of registration for heritable property, no proper or safe cause, the education and management of infants, the pre-receptacle for public records, and no public prosecution servation of peace and repression of war, the commercial for offences, in England, while Scotland has all these, intercourse among nations, the transmission of letters by excites a reasonable degree of surprise. So also is it post, the abolition of exclusive monopolies and privileges, unaccountable, that while England is provided with a the slave trade and slavery, the shortening of the hours of general system of registration for births, marriages, and deaths, there is nothing of the kind in Scotland, and neither has the latter country any coroner's inquest. More than one-half of all the public charities and philanthropic bequests, in England, are in a state of abeyance and dilapidation, for lack of a vigilant and controlling power. The committing of nearly the whole business of public conveyance to private and practically irresponsible companies, is already felt to have been a grievous error in legislation. Other things requiring to be considered and amended will occur to every one. So far as any of these momentous questions fall within the scope of our paper, they will as usual engage a due degree of attention. Nor will less interesting matters connected with the feelings and affections, along with all proper subjects of amusement and instruction, cease to form a principal part of our material. While helping the world on its way, in as far as our poor abilities serve, we can still promise to entertain the young, to cheer the desponding, and to recommend love and kindness among all.
* Pursuing a similar line of policy with respect to our EDUCATIONAL COURSE, we have found that series of school-books (to which particular sects find no difficulty in supplementing their own doctrinal treatises) adopted in India and other countries, where books constructed on a different plan would probably have been excluded. A gratifying instance of this wide acceptability has just fallen under our notice in an Indian newspaper, The Bombay Witness' for October 8, 1846:- CHAMBERS'S MORAL CLASS-BOOK, translated into Mahratta by Hurree Kesowjee, 226 pages, royal 8vo. This work is a valuable addition to Mahratta literature, and we are rejoiced to see the translation from so skilful a hand. The subjects discussed are most important; and the instruction is communicated, not in a dry didactic style, but for the most part by means of fables and anecdotes-a method peculiarly adapted to the present state of the native community. The following are the titles of some of the chapters-Conduct towards Animals, Conduct towards Relations, Industry, Modesty, Temperance, Contentment, Benevolence, Conscientiousness, Truth, Love of our Country, &c. The work has been prepared and published at the expense of the Board of Education, and is sold at one rupee and twelve annas per copy. As the translator has endeavoured to follow the original closely, it will be found useful to those engaged in the study of English, and to Europeans who are studying Mahratta.'
Published by W. & R. CHAMBERS, High Street, Edinburgh. Also sold by D. CHAMBERS, 98 Miller Street, Glasgow; W. S. ORR, 147 Strand, and Amen Corner, London; and J. M'GLASHAN, 21 D'Olier Street, Dublin. - Printed by W. and R. CHAMBERS, Edinburgh.
No. 158. NEW SERIES.
CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, EDITORS OF CHAMBERS'S INFORMATION FOR THE PEOPLE, CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE,' &c.
NEAR a large inland town in England there is a line of aristocratic-looking villas, interrupted by gardens and pleasure-grounds. The most distant of these is likewise the most ancient-having been built in the time of the last generation; and, accordingly, it has hardly anything of the card-board appearance which so often distinguishes the edifices of the present day. Its grounds, besides, are more extensive, and more finely-wooded, than those of its neighbours; and, taken altogether, were it not for its façade forming nearly a line with the public road, it might well seem entitled to the name of a gentleman's seat.
This house is a favourable specimen of that class of the homes of England' to which it belongs; namely, the abodes of the wealthy and respectable families, who spend their fortunes in the towns where they have made them; only retiring a little way from the bustle of the streets, and surrounding themselves with the comforts which, having earned by their industry and integrity, they have a right to enjoy. The interior at this moment presents a picture of the quiet yet somewhat luxurious respectability which might be anticipated from the outward aspect of the house. It is far on in the evening, but the family are still enjoying the long twilight, helping it a little with one of the earliest fires of the season. They consist of a lady and gentleman, persons of middle life, and several children and young people; all taking advantage of the holiday interval between daylight and candlelight to do as little, and feel as comfortable, as possible. The father might seem, at first sight, to form an exception; for he is walking in silence up and down the floor: but this is only a habit-and every now and then he pauses in the midst of his meditations to look at his wife and family, in their large and handsomely-furnished room, and then at the evening out of doors, gathering dark and bleak round the common, and to feel, without expressing it, a deep thankfulness to God for his position.
'Papa,' said one of the children who was standing at the window, the man is still there: he is sitting on the chain.'
'Is he?' replied the father vacantly, and he continued his silent walk.
'He is now leaning against the lamp-post,' said another by and by; he looks so lonely!'
'Perhaps he is very poor,' remarked the eldest girl softly, who was sitting by the fireside. 'Mamma, I daresay, will allow you to give him some bread and cold meat?'
'Do you think, papa,' said the little boy, who was still gazing earnestly out of the window-'do you think that man has any house to go to, or any children, or any friends to care for him? He looks so very, very
lonely! The father, thus appealed to, stopped at the window mechanically, and looked in the required direction. He had himself observed the man, though half unconsciously, for a considerable time. There seemed to be some fascination for this stranger about the spot; for he had returned to it again and again during the evening, now looking up at the house, and then round the common, which was bounded by the road before it. Before the warmth of day had been entirely lost, he had occasionally thrown himself down upon the grass; but when the air became chill, he had walked along the road, or leant upon the chain which connected the row of chestnuts before the house, or reclined against the lamp-post. The master of this luxurious abode began to look as earnestly as his little boy; but when the man was taken in to receive the suggested donation of food, his eyes still continued fixed on the same spot, and it was evident that he was in a reverie, which had probably no connexion with the things or persons before him. Presently he resumed his walk, but in deeper silence and abstraction.
'Papa,' cried one of the children, bursting into the room, I am so glad! The man is hungry, and we have made him sit down in the hall, and he eats so fast!'
'He knows your name,' cried another; but he says you must be very old-and of course you are.'
'Nonsense!' interrupted the mother; he must take your papa for somebody else of the name.'
To be sure he must,' said the little boy who had remained so long at the window; for he asked if you had any nephews Here the father started so violently, as to attract the attention of the whole group. 'Go on,' said he in a troubled voice.
'And when I said no, that you had never any nephews, he started-just as you did now!' The father turned away, and resutned his walk, but his pace was at first broken and hurried. He became calm, however, by degrees; and it was in his usual tone he desired them to ring for lights to the library, and to send the man to him there.
The library was an oblong octagonal room, with wellfilled bookcases reaching on all sides to the lofty roof; and the idea of scholar-like seclusion was rendered complete by the inner side of the door being covered with imitative volumes, corresponding in appearance with the rest; so that, when it was shut, there seemed to be no means of ingress or egress, except by the large and lofty Gothic window looking into the garden. A lamp depended from the roof by a chain, and its shaded light brought out unobtrusively the gilding of the books and bookcases. A pair of lighted wax candles stood on the study-table near the fire, and beside it, seated in an ample library chair, the master of the house awaited the appearance of his destitute guest.
The man presently entered the room, and shutting
the door gently behind him, gave a quick, curious glance round the walls, and advanced slowly to the table. He was probably not older than his host, but the hair of the one was only grizzled, while that of the other was gray. The brow of the one was smooth, while that of the other was deeply indented, not by the parallel lines of thought or study, but the irregular wrinkles of anxiety, passion-perhaps crime. The one had a calm, reflective eye, and a mild though determined expression; while the glance of the other, full of fear mingled with defiance, was habitually restless, bespeaking a life of vicissitudes and expedients. The one was dressed with a precision bordering on the finical, and betraying the nicest discrimination as to the requirements of that middle period of life with which the gaiety of youth is as inconsistent as the gravity of old age; while the other was buttoned up to the throat in a threadbare black coat, scanty in dimensions, and yet permitting-perhaps for a good reason-no vestige of linen to be seen. The two gazed for some time into each other's eyes.
Even so, Walter,' said the master of the house; it is thus we meet!'
And as if we had never parted,' replied the guest, 'but for an hour or a day! Why, it seems as if there was not even a book out of its place! Nothing is changed but ourselves; and you are only changed by having become some twenty years older; while Ihow is this, William-cousin William,' continued he passionately, why is this? What was the difference in our crime which has made this difference in our fortunes?'
'I can tell you how it is,' said William calmly, but not why it is; and even after we exchange revelations, I am of opinion that we shall still be in the dark.'
No matter; I am curious to hear, and I shall not hesitate to tell. I have nothing to conceal; no motive for concealment; no house, no home, no family, no fortune, no respectability! I am more independent than you. Ha ha! Proceed.'
When we arrived at Liverpool,' said William slowly, like a man whose mind is busy in endeavouring to recall the past-' after
'I know, I know: go on. Our uncle was cold and harsh. We were treated more like slaves than assistants in his business and portions of his blood. We were, besides, young, sanguine, adventurous. The manners of the day and the place led us into dissipation; and if we did take what he ought to have given, and only a portion of what he would have left us at his death-Go on; I understand. When we arrived at Liverpool-’
'My plan is different. When we arrived at Liverpool it was late, and we went to bed in the same room. I could not sleep. But it was fear that haunted me, not conscience. At every sound in the house I started in affright; and when, in the middle of the night, I heard the street door open, and a heavy, stern-sounding foot ascend the stair, the bed shook with my tremor. How I envied you! I might have thought, but for your deep breathing, that you were dead; and in that case I should have envied you still more. But at length the dawn came; and by degrees the rising hum of the great town; and then my wearied senses sunk into repose. When I awoke, I was alone!'
'What was your first thought?' demanded Walter suddenly.
That you had robbed me in turn.' 'Ha ha ha!'
The idea, under the circumstances, was naturalnay, unavoidable, in our state of mutual crime; but it turned out to be incorrect. My share of the booty was safe; and I concluded hat, not wishing to disturb me, you had gone out to inquire about the sailing of vessel. An hour passed away-two. What could have become of you? Had you determined to shake off the association of a companion you could not trust? Were you now on your way to some other seaport to escape from me? Or had you been arrested in the street, and carried to jail? If so, would you betray me? These were the questions that coursed each other through my mind; and at last a loud knocking at the door of my room threw me into an agony of terror. "The coach for - goes at twelve !" cried a rough voice. How my heart leapt! The name of my native place brought with it a thousand associations; and my dead parents seemed to pass through the room, followed by every acquaintance I had in the town, and at last, closing the cortége, by my uncle: all bending eyes of sorrow, wonder, and reproach upon me as they glided away and disappeared. I buried my face in my hands and wept.'
"No!-did you? I see it now.'
"This tranquillised my spirit, and dressing myself hastily, I went out in search of you. I roamed through the principal streets, and along the interminable docks, fancying every moment that some one turned to look at me, and more than once darting into a lane, as I saw in the distance a figure which I persuaded myself I knew. At length I found my way back to the inn. The room was still solitary. Nothing was there but the things and persons of the past; and sitting down in the midst of the spectral show, ghastly, trembling, and bathed in a cold sweat, I gave myself up for a time to all the horrors of my situation. I was startled from my reverie by another loud knocking at the door of my room; and the rough voice cried this time -" Only five minutes to twelve !" Here William wiped his brow with his perfumed handkerchief.
'Go on,' cried Walter impatiently.
'I cannot tell precisely what followed. I have a confused recollection of rushing down the stairs; of forcing my way through a crowd; of being cursed and struck for my rudeness; of shouting after the coach, which had just started, till my brain reeled and my voice was lost. When I recover the thread of my narrative, I am on my way to this place at the rate of ten miles an hour.' 'Never mind the thread of your narrative,' interrupted Walter moodily. You confessed; you laid the blame upon me; you were forgiven-and there is an end.' 'Would that such had been the case! But I did not confess, because I knew that I should not be forgiven. The door being accidentally ajar, I made my way to my own quarters without being seen, first stealing into this room and replacing the money. No one came to look after me, for no one knew that I was in the house. I heard hour after hour strike; the daylight vanished by degrees; and when it became utterly dark, I crept shivering into bed. Fatigue, terror, agony of mind, and hunger for I had eaten nothing all day-did their work; and I was found by the servants the next morning in a raging fever. From that day to this I never was asked a single question upon the subject! My impression is, that the vague guesses of the servants were received by my uncle as authentic information; that it was supposed that, on hearing of your flight, I had pursued, in order to bring you back, and that mortification and disappointment had occasioned my illness.'
Was there ever fortune like this? Why, you might have kept the money, and it would have been supposed that I had taken the whole. And perhaps you did? Come, let us not have half confidences; only wait till I get to mine!'
You forget,' said William gently, that I am here -and thus. But if you will not believe your own eyes, where is the use of my words? There are witnesses, however-hark!' and a knock was heard at the door, accompanied by a confused babble of small voices. It was the young children, brought by the nursemaid for the kiss of good-night; and in they walked, or tottered, according to their ages, with their snowy nightgowns, and white caps tied under their chin, and their rosy faces, dimpled with loving smiles, as they held up their little mouths to their father. Some of them offered their hands to their acquaintance of the hall; but the rough, shabby, destitute-looking man turned away to pore intently on the fire; although, when the door closed upon the children, his heretofore accomplice could see that his whole frame was shaken with silent sobs.
'I have little more to tell,' continued William. illness gave me time for reflection; and the thoughts of my crime, though at first a spectre to affright, became at length a beacon to warn and to guide. My uncle seemed cold and stern to the last; and yet I often think that I should have found some opportunity of unburthening my heart, if an illness of any duration had preceded his death. But he was called suddenly away when I was still a very young man, and before a more mature observation of the world had led me to perceive how mistaken youth frequently are in their estimate of the supposed austerity of age. At his death, I found myself the heir of his business and property; and I had the misery of discovering, by the kind yet solemn terms of his will, that I had all along misjudged him that his coldness was merely superficial, the result of hard experience and habitual thoughtfulness. In short, I married; I became a father; and I
And you forgot,' added Walter bitterly, that you
were once a
'Felon! Never. The fact is proved, as you will soon learn, by my name being well known in the annals of this town-I may say of this kingdom-among those of the men who have worked hardest for the prevention of crime and the reformation of criminals.' Walter rose hastily from his chair, and took two or three turns up and down the room, with long irregular strides, crusliing his hands within each other. He then sat down again gently, almost timidly, and began his relation in a low voice.
'When I awoke,' said he, 'on that memorable morning in Liverpool, it was some time before I could understand where I was, or what had happened. Our scheme, you know, was not a sudden one; we had accustomed ourselves to it by degrees; and I had come to think it at least an off-hand, dashing, spirited affair. But that room was so silent! The hum of the town circled | round without entering it, as it were; and you-you were like a corpse; white, ghastly, mute, motionless, dead. I could not breathe. I jumped up with a sensation of choking. I threw on my clothes violently: I would not awaken you intentionally; but I dragged about the chairs; I coughed, whistled, sung! and at length, enraged at your insensibility, I went forth to gasp in the open air. No warning met my ear-no messenger from Heaven gave me tidings of the coach-no mystic voice came to aid the whisperings of my conscience and my heart! A dull, gray, heavy sky hung over the town; the streets were crowded with phantoms whom I knew not, and who knew not me; the rush of the carriage wheels was as the rush of the viewless winds over a desert. I was suddenly asked, as I leant over one of the piers, looking into the dull waters, whether I would not lend a hand for a half-hour's trip; and descending mechanically into the boat, I soon found myself, with a single companion, going down the river before the wind.'
'Then, after all,' said William with curiosity, as the narrator paused, our separation was accidental? But how did you get to that foreign climate which has left such eloquent tokens upon your complexion?'
"You shall hear. The wind, which was with us going down the river, was against us coming back; and as it had increased in force, the proposed half-hour, notwithstanding all our exertions-growing more and more frantic on my part, as the time passed on-became at least three hours before we regained the pier. A misgiving, I could not tell of what nature, came over my mind, as I threaded my way through the streets to the inn. Still there was no warning; I heard no voice louder than another among the inarticulate murmurs of the town; and when a church clock struck twelve as I passed, it fell upon my heart, not like a peal for the living, but a knell for the dead. Before the sound was well out of my ear, I was once more in the deserted room-alone in my guilt, friendless and companionless in my despair!'
Up to this moment there had been something almost touching in the tone of Walter's voice-it seemed as if the young children had left some holy influence in the room. But here, smiting the table suddenly with his hand, he continued his narrative in a hoarse rude voice, and with an air of the desperado, so marked, that it might have seemed in part assumed. William in the meantime sat watching him with a calm and deep attention, on which not a tone or gesture was lost.
'Well, what was to be done. I was now alone-mark that-alone! There was not a human being in the world to whom I was not an object either of indifference or execration-who would not either have passed me by as a stranger, or arrested me for a felon. This is rarely the case even with the worst of criminals. Even in the bush of Van Diemen's Land-and I know Van Diemen's Land! the ranger herds with the savages when he is cut off from his own fellows. Now, look you here. I went to London, when at length I had made up my mind that you had thrown off one whom you could not trust, and gone to try the world on your own account. But in London I was still alone; though not long! There is only one kind of society there that is freely open to the unintroduced; and that is the society of the depraved and the desperate. And what was I, that I should scorn such a resource? I was like yourself: I remembered that I was a felon; but I remembered it under different circumstances. I bethought myself that every shilling I spent was the produce of theft, till crime became a portion, as it were, of my existence! What could come of this when my money was spent-when, enervated by vice and misery, I could no longer look for employment-when the comrades of my brute enjoyments jeered me alike for my poverty and my cowardice? What could come of it, I say?'
You had two courses; and notwithstanding your dreadful experience, you deliberately chose the worst.'
That is false! It was not through deliberation, but in a fit of madness, aggravated by drunkenness, that I became a housebreaker! I was seized in the midst of my first crime-tried-and cast for fifteen years' transportation. The judge said it was a bad job. Perhaps he was right; that I know little about.' Walter's voice here became faint. The paroxysm to which he had wrought himself up was past; he had told the worst, and felt the worst, and he now went on in a subdued tone.
'I have little more to tell; for as I look back on these fifteen years, there is hardly one incident that, at this distance of time and place, appears to be distinguished from another. I believe I "behaved well;" at least I got a ticket of leave as soon as it could be legally granted. After the term was over, I tried to do something in Hobart Town; but it was not to be. I was ill-I was home-sick-I lost everything-even hope; and when I arrived in London a few weeks ago, I had no means, even of temporary support, but my apparel. I knew no one; I looked for no one; I felt like a man in a forest.' 'Then you came hither on the chance
'Of obtaining charity? No. I knew no one here any more than there. But this spot was England to me