Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

women ; and he had as lofty expectations as such spoilt children always have, and never see realised. What was a chaplaincy to the Prince and the lectureship of St. George's, Hanover Square, to a man who thought his merits equal to a mitre ? Disappointment made Cannon not only cynical but rude. His silver tongue became “ like sweet bells jangled, harsh and out of tune.” He blurted out fierce sarcasms, without respect to sex or person; and was as ready with a sneer at Mrs. Fitzherbert's furniture as he was with an affront to the Regent's singing. This affront led to the offender's forced absence from Carlton House, and Cannon so resented the disgrace into which he had fallen that he never forgave it. After the Regent had ascended the throne, he kindly availed himself of an opportunity which presented itself, and sent an invitation, or command, to Cannon to call at the palace. The ex-chaplain refused to attend. “The creatur,” he said, “ has turned me out of his house once; he shall not have the opportunity of doing 80 again.” George IV. was the better man of the two. He found that Cannon had fallen into degrading habits, which must necessarily shut him out from all preferment in the Church ; but the King, knowing him to be in want, sent him a hundred pounds.

Nevertheless, there was, a bright side to Cannon's character too. One of the best examples of this is to be seen in his conduct when a lady, who had been tenderly affected to him in early years, sent for him to come and see her, as she was dying. When they met, she informed her ancient friend that, in her will, she had bequeathed to him the whole of her large fortune. Cannon grufily replied that he would not believe it till he had seen the document, and when that was put into his hands, and he had read the passage, he calmly thrust the will into the fire! He pointed out the cruel injustice of such a will to the testator's natural heirs. “I must send Dance to you,” he added—“he shall make your will. You may leave me a legacy, there's no harm in that. I am a poor man, and want it; but I'm not going to be damned to please you.” In the new will, the lady left Cannon four thousand pounds. The grateful heirs, who inherited the splendid residue, contested the legality of the bequest to Cannon. Two copies of the will had been duly executed. They were found after the lady's death. From one had been cut out every name but Cannon's. The other remained intact. The heirs urged that the mutilation of one was the cancelling of both, and that the whole property should pass to them! The uninjured will was, however, pronounced valid, and Cannon, to enjoy the income derived from the legacy, repaired to the Isle of Wight. Every day he was to be seen sitting in his accustomed seat on Ryde

and, by waterman's wit, he was always referred to as the “ Pier Gun.” The same wit, when Cannon died--in solitude, and long after his own wit had perished-exercised itself in remarking that the "Gun” had gone off, after all.

Pier;

Sydney Smith was perhaps among the most genial of Barham's clerical friends. Their humour, however, was essentially different in quality, while the quality of both was good. Sydney's wit flashed in prose. How amusing was his response to an invitation to dinner, that he could not accept it, as he had some country cousins staying in his house, and he wished they were once removed! Full, too, of his peculiar humour was his note to Barham, acknowledging a present of game: “If there be a pure and elevating pleasure in this world, it is the roast pheasant and bread sauce! Barn-door fowls for Dissenters, but for the real Churchman-the thirty-nine times articled clerk--the pheasant! the pheasant !” That Barham should be a novelist was natural enough. No one but Mr. Colburn ever could have had the idea that Sydney Smith might be one. When that publisher proposed to the reverend "joker of jokes” to undertake the usual three volumes, the latter fenced with the proposal, in his mocking way.

He must have, he said, an archdeacon for his hero, who should fall in love with the pew-opener.

The clerk was to be his confidant, but the course of love was to be opposed by the churchwardens ; then the love-letters were to be concealed under the hassocks, and a final appeal--- a sort of plebiscite-be made to the parishioners. Mr. Colburn thought Smith was serious, and “would leave it all to his inventive genius!" Although a "joker of jokes,” Sydney Smith never tolerated them at the expense of sacred subjects. But, even in his rebuke, the satirist was more manifest than the censurer. At a dinner at Holland House, a foreigner announced himself as a materialist. Presently, Smith remarked : “Very good soufflet this!" To which the materialist rejoined, “Oui, monsieur; il est ravissant !” “ By the way," replied Smith, with his usual knock-down application, “may I ask, sir, whether you happen to believe in a cook?" Whether with special application, or made for the mere fun of the thing, Smith's sayings had a grotesque and fantastic drollery in them. How tersely he described his sensations of being shampooed ! “They squeezed enough out of me,” he said, “ to make a lean curate!” And how grotesquely would George Cruikshank have illustrated this, before he went aColonelling, took to water-drinking, and became more moderate than Tibullus when he boasted,

at ipse (not, tipsy) bibebam

Sobria suppositå pocula victor aquà." It is said by Mr. Barham's son, that his Tory father looked with some misgiving at the entrance of the Whig Canon, Sydney Smith, into the Chapter of St. Paul's. But the two men were of a quality to sympathise in everything, save politics. At the dinner which followed the ceremony of Smith reading himself in as Residentiary, he recorded the paternity of a joke which had been assigned to many

fathers. “He mentioned having once half-offended Sam Rogers, by recommending him, when he sat for his picture, to be drawn saying his prayers, with his face in his hat.” Sydney's brother, Bobus, had his share of ready-wittedness too. It was on the occasion of his seeing Vansittart and Joseph Hume entering the House of Commons that he said, “Here come Penny Wise and Pound Foolish !” which described the two men with equal brevity and accuracy. One of the most amusing samples of Sydney's wit and ability was given in the account of the Synod at Dort, in the first of the three famous letters to Archdeacon Singleton, on the Ecclesiastical Commission, 1837. Smith pretended to have taken it from an old Dutch chronicle. It ran thus : “There was great store of bishops in the town, in their robes goodly to behold; and all the great men of the state were there, and folks poured in, in boats on the Meuse, the Merve, the Rhine, and the Linge, coming from the Isle of Beverland and Issilmond, and from all quarters in the bailiwick of Dort; Arminians and Gomarists, with the friends of John Barneveldt and of Hugh Grote. And before my lords the bishops, Simon of Gloucester, who was a bishop in those parts, disputed with Vorstius and Leoline the Monk. . . . And when this was done . . . and it waxed towards twelve o' the clock, my lords the bishops prepared to set them down to a fair repast, in which was great store of good things, among the rest a roasted peacock, having in lieu of a tail the array and banners of the archbishop but ere he had finished (grace) a great mob of townspeople and folks from the country, who were gathered round the window, cried out · Bread ! Bread !' for there was a great famine . . . and they called out No bishops! and began to cast up stones at the windows. Whereat my lords the bishops were in a great fright, and began to cast their dinner out of the window to appease the mob; and so the men of their town were well pleased, and did devour the meats with great appetite, and then you might have seen my lords standing with empty plates, and looking wistfully at each other, till Simon . . . stood up among them, and said, 'Good, my lords; is it your pleasure to stand here fasting, and that those who count lower in the Church should feast and fluster ? Let us order to us the dinner of the deans and canons, which is making ready for them in the chamber below.' And this speech pleased the bishops, and so William of Ypres brought them the dinner of the deans and canons ; and so the deans and canons went away without dinner, and were pelted by the men of the town, because they had not put any meat out of the window like the bishops. And when the Count came to hear of it, he said that it was a pleasant conceit, that the bishops were right meaning men, and that they had dinged the canons well.” The narrative affected to be serious history, and it imposed upon many; but the Bishop of Llandaff at once detected the forgery.

The name of Vorstius alone fixed the chronology, and detected the imposition, which Barham defined as “the funniest” he had ever seen. Sydney Smith's flashes of wit resembled Theodore Hook's, but they were often superior. Nothing could be better in its way than his remark to a friend, who hesitated to take an impudent young fellow to Lady Blessington's, being almost a stranger to the youth who had proposed he should be taken, and not on terms with “miladi” to use so much freedom. Smith observed, “Take the young gentleman, by all means. You can say you have brought with you the cool of the evening."

There is a certain amount of glee in the way in which Barham recorded in his diary stories of clerics of other churches than his own. Some of them would hardly be credible but for the warranty given. We can only concur with the Ecclesiastical Assembly at Edinburgh, which prosecuted a Scottish minister for ignorance and irreverence. A sample of the former is given in a letter, in which the writer said that "he considered Pontius Pilate to be a very ill-used man, as he had done more for Christianity than all the other nine apostles put together.” This gentleman was suspended; but Presbyterian complaints and offences were not always so well founded. As an instance, we may quote rigid Mrs. Wilson's grievance against Dundas of Arnieston : “He has put up i' the kirk the Lord's Prayer and Ten Commandments, and when a remonstrance was sent him against such idolatry, he just answered that if they did not let him alone, he would e'en pit up a Belief. into the bargain !” Among the ministerial records it is pleasant to meet with Mr. Thompson, the original “ Dominie Sampson.” He was chaplain and tutor in Walter Scott's family, and so absent that his pupils would go out to play while he was lecturing to them. Scott never dared recommend him to a benefice, for fear of a catastrophe. The Dominie's offences, however, were not very grave. He was

He was “once very nearly summoned before the synod for reading the Visitation of the Sick service from our Liturgy to a poor man confined to his bed by illness.”

“Ingoldsby” has been such a welcome guest at every fireside, that Barham seems to live with him. Nevertheless, a quarter of a century has elapsed since he died, in 1845, in his fifty-seventh year. In one sense, however, Barham cannot die while" Ingoldsby" lives; and

Ingoldsby” is as' immortal as that English language, the changes on which Barham could ring so merrily, bringing out fresh music with every change, and sending melody through the air, freighted with good humour, a healthy moral, and a gaiety as boundless as the charity to all men, which quickened the heart whence all these good things sprung.

His Brother's Keeper.

BY THE AUTHOR OF “CUT ADRIFT," ETC.

CHAPTER IX.

A FREE COUNTRY. The secret of George Sutcliffe's success in life—and, as we know, he had already made his mark—consisted in his putting all his mind into the things he had to do, one at a time. He had put all his mind into righting his half-brother about the mine, and this done he began to put it into other things. He had already overstayed the time he calculated upon remaining in Colombia, and was getting fidgety. Harry also burned to get home and tell the wonders he had done. It never occurred to him that George had shared all his adventures, and had some of his own unshared to boast of, if he cared to boast. He never thought that his half-brother's prospects might depend upon his quick return. He cared not to inquire how far they had been affected by absence in his service. It was his pleasure that he should return quickly himself ; so he pushed on, and they arrived at Sta. Martha just ten hours after the mail packet had left.

In charge of the British vice-consul George found a letter, which made up for disappointment. It was from his employers, Messrs. Bell & Wainwright. Such a handsome letter as some of our great firms know how to write. The Llanbeglis line had turned out a great success. Contractors, troubled with some of the difficulties which, for a time, bad perplexed him, were inquiring for Mr. Sutcliffe. He had become famous. They (Bell & Wainwright) had found in his absence how great an assistance he was. They offered him a partnership-a small one to them, to him a fortune.

“By Jove! Harry," he said, "you can't think what a relief this is. If they had said, “Never mind overstaying your time--you shall have your old place when you come back, it would have been good news; but this ! They call it a trifle, but it is a good twelve hundred a year to begin with.”

Harry was sulky at having missed the mail, and did not share his enthusiasm. He merely growled “I did not think you were such a fellow after money."

Money! It's not for the money — it's for what it will bring. This partnership gives me a future-a place in the world,” replied the practical one, carried away by his good news. " It will enable me,"

« НазадПродовжити »