صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

We believe it is the custom of certain vulgar cities of the hard, real world—a world easily laid down upon a map, or pelletted into a painted globe—to lay out acres of valuable ground for the abiding-place. of strange brutes and strange reptiles. Hence, hyenas and rattle-snakes become the lodgers and boarders of men, who, all forgetful of their own flesh and blood, pet cruelty and poison. The Twiddlethumbers have a nobler curiosityteach a finer wisdom. Not that they disregard their four-footed neighbours on this earth ; not that they slight the golden bird and pencilled snake; but that they defer a closer acquaintance with beasts, and snakes, and winged strangers, until they shall have intimately known all their own relations scattered over the world—the many-coloured patches that, like a harlequin's suit, make up the human garment of the earth. And therefore, the Twiddlethumbers have set apart the mount aforesaid, calling it Adam's Pottery. Many specimens of red and white, and black ware are yet wanting ; nevertheless, the collection at the time whereof we write was very curious. The Mount was geographically partitioned, so that every specimen-every piece of human pottery-dwelt in its native latitude.

Artificial temperature was provided for every specimen. We will not here anticipate our visit to the Pottery ; but this much will run from our pen. We saw a Laplander most liberally provided with ice and snow, and—it was then the season—a night of two-and-twenty bours honest length. And then, after some thirty minutes' walk, we came upon a Chinese, in a silken summer, sky-blue dress drinking tea with a perfume in it unknown at our cold hearth-stones.

Now, we put it to the philosophic, pale-faced reader—and counting only upon such, we propose to limit this history to five-and-twenty copies—we put it to him whether such an institution as this, fancifully christened Adam's Pottery, be not more honourable to the intelligence and humane curiosity of a city than a Beast-garden ? An Universal Bird-cage ? A Reptiliary? Ought not men to blush who seek an acquaintance with a white bear, when they have never so much as thought to hold out their hand to a flat-nosed biped brother at the North Pole? Are we to welcome the zebra to his paddock, and refuse hospitality to the Hottentot? Shall we pet, and cocker, and wrap up in blankets manifold, the lazy, luxurious boa, and never think to comfortably cage

omfortably cage Hindoos, and Parsees, and Malays, and at least one of each of the manycoloured tribe of brother men, natives of wide-lying boa-land ?

The wisdom of the Twiddlethumbers gives a loud no to so preposterðus a notion. Hence, had they their Adam’s Pottery. There-wanting, as we have said, some few specimens to make up the entire set of Adam's clay-work- there, they had their distant relations gathered together from all parts of the earth. And thus, at a very early period, the children of Twiddlethumb were introduced to their ten-thousandth-thousandth cousins of all colours'; and from this early knowledge, most pleasant and easy was the intercourse. A delicate girl of ten years the gentlest Twiddlethumbling-would look upon a Carib, or chat with a New Zealander, and make no more ado, than girls of our half-savage condition of society when they make a birthday call upon great-aunts and uncles. We say it, this early knowledge of certain specimens of the large two-legged family going up and down the globe, imparted a frankness of manner, whilst it enlarged the affections of the Twiddlethumbers. The heart grew bigger and bigger with the early sense and improved knowledge of such millions of relations. At the opening of our history, the Pottery had received a very interesting addition ; nay, look there,- for the progress of the coach makes the news visible. Put your head out at the leftwindow. Very good. The announcement, sharply printed, runs thus :

“ ADAM's POTTERY.-- An extraordinary Addition. An Englishman, his Wife, and Baby, just arrived. The only specimens ever known in Twiddlethumb. At present, however, we must jog on.

Another time, we may take an instructive saunter round the Pottery, for pleasant converse with fraternal specimens ; that are, indeed, treated with even eccentric tenderness ; neither man nor woman visitor being permitted to throw so much as a pebble at a Coast of Guinea brother, or with walking-stick or parasol to poke between the ribs the humblest Pariah. This is, indeed, absurd : what then ?--we must bow to the old, and educated prejudice, that respects the silliest customs of the silliest country.

THE COACH PASSES THE RUINS OF VULCAN'S SILVERSMITHY, ONCE

FAMOUS FOR ITS SILVER SPOONS. THE JACKASSES OF THE

TOWN OF TWIDDLETHUMB, AND HOW CHOSEN. That circular building, round as a bubble, to the right, is the state Mint. It is the newest building of Twiddlethumb; built, as

the legend runs, upon the ruins of Vulcan's Silversmithy ; where, in the old pagan day, as Twiddlethumbers still insist

upon

believing, Vulcan and Time had many a jolly bout. You see, sir, Vulcan had his certain melting-days, or rather nights, for melting the ore, and fashioning it into silver spoons— Time bringing him, in a lump, the dimensions of the mouths about to enter the world, each mouth carrying, ready for its pap and future feeding, one of the silver spoons aforesaid. Well, sir ; Vulcan was a careless, good-tempered fellow, and for a long while worked uncomplainingly as any bullock.

But even a bullock will sulk and hang aback, if over-goaded. And so it was with Vulcan.

“I tell you what it is, master,” said the Silversmith to Time, who—with all sorts of clay models of silly mouths in his lap, sat joking on a bench, to cheat Vulcan of his sense of labour- “I tell you

what it is ; I'm tired of this work ; and more than that, I don't think it altogether fair and open.

Why, what 's the matter ?” asked Time, trying to look surprised ; though, in truth, he has seen too much ever to be greatly astonished" what's the matter? A bargain 's a bargain? Especially when contracted with me? What 's the matter, my best of boys ?—and that I think you are of my best, see how well I treat you! Why, you ’re as young and handsome-quite, as the day when you tucked your apron about you, and limped down to the sea-side, to hand your bride Venus ashore.”

Vulcan said nothing ; but sourly grinned, and passed his grimy hand aeross his brow.

“And now, good boy,” said Time coaxingly, “ of what can you complain ?"

“Of what complain? Why, of this everlasting work you set me, making silver spoons for the mouths of fools. Did anybody ever see the like ?” asked Vulcan, pointing to the little clay models of mouths still lying in the lap of Time: “such silly, hanging, blubbering things—such simpering, puling, whiffing bits of dirt--and do you suppose, after what I've done~do after the thousands of spoons I 've made for such mouths, that I 'll make another? I won't,” roared Vulcan ; and he made his hammer ring upon the anvil, as though welding his resolution,

“ You won't ? ”asked placid Time ; for in the end, he thought himself sure of beating the Silversmith.

* By Styx, I won't,” vociferated Vulcan; and his own filial thunders chuckled at the oath.

you think,

66

be

“Be it so,” said unruffled Time. “ I can henceforth do without you.

“Do without me--without my work !” cried Vulcan.

“Do without you,” repeated tranquil Time. • For you sec you have worked so well-you have made so many, many silver spoons for the mouths of fools, that with the commonest care-and now and then just altering the pattern- I promise you the same spoons shall serve again and again while the world stands.”

Now, sir, whether Time has kept his word, Time best can tell ; but this short story has brought us to the Castle-gates of the Duke de Bobs. We can see—though it may

you cannot—the tip of the nurse's nose, the glimmer of her eyes from a south-window ; no, sir; now she has whisked off ; and stand aside—the coachdoor is opened, and now the man-midwife descends, and slowly passes into the castle.

A curious building ; but we will not stay to tell all its history. The two stone jackasses over the gates — jackasses bearing a basket containing corn, and fruit, and oil, towards which you may observe each jackass seems to cast a hungry, wistful look ; the two jackasses are the arms of Twiddlethumb ; nurtured with such affection by the Twiddlethumbers that, did every man think the ass a part of his own flesh, he could not love the animal with greater tenderness.

These arms are, it is said, of very ancient origin ; and, if all be true, loom from out the fogs of antiquity, very touching witnesses to the simplicity and truthfulness of the early Twiddlethumbers. The story goes, that when the castle was finishedwhen the trowel had given its last tinkle, and the weary workman rested from his toil—the Lord of Twiddlethumb proposed to the people, then for the first time gathered into a township, to choose armorial bearings, significant of their condition and their labours. His lòrdship pledged his knightly word—in those days ringing like a new gold piece—that whatsoever arms the people chose, should be out of his lordly generosity vouchsafed to them and theirs, for ever and for ever.

On a certain day all the people—men and women-of Twiddlethumb met in deliberation. The Ark of Noah, so to say it, was made to deliver up all its living things to the various fancies of the Twiddlethumbers. Lions, and tigers, and crocodiles, and sneaking felonious panthers were in turn proposed to stand on the castle gates-proposed and rejected. A poll parrot, with toast in

for our

dexter claws, was timidly offered by one gentlewoman-a monkey proper with a rattle by another. And then others, men and women, were earnest for the introduction of an unicorn—a phenix —a griffin-an eagle carrying & faggot of thunderboltsmermaid, with tooth-comb and a glass—a cockatrice, a cockatoo. All were offered, all rejected. Was Twiddlethumb to carry no armorial bearings ?

An old man, with bent back, white head, and withered, furrowed face, then spoke out. “ Fellow-slaves”- he said “what need of this delay? Why not choose at once? What have we miserable dogs !--to do with tygers, and lions, and golden eagles of the sun ? Are they company for us? Are they at all of our kidney? Do they not, in their sleek, shiny coats, and glistening feathers, show that they are not company keeping ; that, in a word, they are companions for our betters ? No; brother wretches, no: let us in the choice of our bearings, show that we know ourselves—our condition and the whole use for which we were begotten, suckled, and taught to walk alone. We all know how this castle has been built. We all know what we have eaten and drunk, whilst we have fitted stone upon stone. Onions and garlic, water and the whip have been our food and wages. Well, then, let us render this treatment memorable-let us perpetuate this our experience and reward, by choosing for our arms, the patient Jackass.”

“ Two Jackasses-two-we will have two!” shouted the multitude.

“ Be it so,” said the old man. “ Two Jackasseslean and hungry–with heavy eyes, and hanging under-lip-bearing between them a basket filled with oil jars, heaped with the best fruits of the earth, and all but over-running with golden corn."

There needed no more to be said. The Jackasses were immediately chosen ; some of the elder Twiddlethumbers shaking their heads, as they assented to the asinine symbol—whilst others, the young and heedless, vowed they liked the addition of the oil, and fruit, and corn mightily ; it did such honour to the asses that bore the basket.

NO. XXXVII.--VOL. VII.

« السابقةمتابعة »