صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]

ceipt to the agent. In commercial parlance such a receipt is called a bill of lading; it declares the nature of the shipment, as made by the shipper, and the captain usually places the words "contents unknown,” before his signature of the document. Upon arrival of the merchandize at the port of destination it is delivered to the consignee, upon the production of the bill of lading, which is usually forwarded to him by another channel, and if the articles are found conformable thereto, and in good order, the receipt is given up, and the transaction ends. The captain, therefore, signed as having received on board a certain number of cases stated to contain bones or relics, but adding in the usual form, contents unknown.”

The ship set sail, and the boxes were soon forgotten like any other part of the cargo; but on teaching the middle of the voyage, which was not accomplished without difficulty, owing to the tempestuous weather that prevailed, the Faustina experienced some derangement of her stowage, and as changes had to be made with respect to such portion of the cargo as was near at hand, the captain was obliged to remove the packages belonging to the brotherhood. The heavy nature of the cases, and the great disproportion between their weight and their declared contents, gave rise to reflections in the mind of the captain which had not occurred to him in the confusion attendant upon his departure from St. Domingo, and the hurry which prevailed during the shipment; but the reiterated recommendations of the ghostly agent, and the extreme importance which, unconsciously perhaps to himself, had marked his proceedings, created from that moment a thousand suspicions, of which our navigator felt strongly disposed to ascertain the reality. The devil was no doubt at his elbow, for now he could no longer resist his desire to ascertain the contents of the mysterious packages, and he yielded to the temptation. He called a council of his followers, and by the help of good tools an opening was made in the solid joints of the cases which did not yield without an obstinate resistance to these efforts of curiosity; but what was the surprise of the captain and his friends when, instead of thigh bones, toe joints, and skulls, the cases were found to contain splendid church ornaments, valuable plate, consisting of candlesticks, crosses, lamps, chalices and other articles adorned with precious stones; besides entire bars of gold, evidently melted down from ornaments out of use; and lastly, several cases entirely filled with dollars and other coins. The captain, be it remembered, was a shrewd fellow, and well acquainted with monks and missals. At the sight of so much wealth an idea crossed his brain, whereat, it may be supposed, that Satan chuckled with glee, and which we shall proceed to detail. Meantime the cases were nailed up, and a place allotted for them much more secure than that which they had previously occupied, the vessel continuing her course.

On the approach of the Faustina to the European coast, the captain had no difficulty in finding a plausible pretext for running into a port of Spain. The bad weather that prevailed during the voyage had caused some damage, which the captain declared must of necessity be remedied before he could expect to reach his destination; no observation was therefore elicited from the ship's company in consequence of this determination. Upon putting into port the cases were landed with other goods, with which, for a while, they remained intermixed. A pretended examination, and subsequent repair of the vessel took place, and during this operation the valuable contents of the cases were exchanged, and rendered conformable to the declaration in the bill of lading. The immense wealth they had previously contained was placed in safe hands, and the vessel again set sail for Bordeaux. It is not, perhaps, necessary to state, that a share of the spoil, proportionate to the value of the secret, was guaranteed to the performers who took part in this drama.

The Faustina at length reached Bordeaux. As soon as her arrival was known, the holy brotherhood, corresponding with that of St. Domingo, assembled in solemn conclave. The consignment had, no doubt, been long looked for by the expectant friars, and the news of the apparent consummation of their hopes filled their minds with a pure and boly joy. A procession

[blocks in formation]

was formed with the ostensible view of paying honour to the return of the saintly relics from a foreign land, and the whole chapter, preceded by cross of gold and embroidered banner, set forth with solemn music, and its accompanying chaunts, to receive the fortunate relics arrived from beyond sea. The cases were landed, covered with palls of velvet and rich stuffs ; and being placed upon biers, they were borne upon the shoulders of the most fervent of the members of the sacred congregation. The delivery being completed, the captain received an acknowledgment in due form, and the procession returned to the convent, escorted by the entire population of the city, after which, according to all appearance, the interment took place in consecrated ground. But as soon as this religious effervescence had subsided, and when the monks saw that the auspicious moment was arrived for the enjoyment of the long anticipated sight of the vast riches so fervently announced by their brethren of St. Domingo, great was their amazement and their grief, instead of inestimable treasures to find nothing but worthless bones, a heap of vile refuse of various animals, among which were so many heads with horns, so many feet with hoofs, that no doubt could be entertained that the captain had perpetrated a wicked and criminal exchange. They never for a moment supposed that their holy brethren of St. Domingo had any hand in the cheat, and their despair was in consequence more intense, since they could have no means whatever of establishing a claim; for how could they, without the utmost shame, confess the sacrilegious plunder, covered as it was by a pretended removal of saintly relics ? Besides, it would be very easy to guess the answer to be made by the captain :- What did I receive on board ? Bones, relics ; the bill of lading so states it. What then was I bound to deliver, and what have I delivered ? Relics! Here they are ; you have received them-buried them: hymn your vespers, ring your bells, and trouble me no more.

The poor monks were obliged to resign themselves to their lot, and in so doing showed their wisdom and their logic. Whether the chapter excom. municated the old sailor is not recorded. The remains of the oxen, the horses, the dogs, and the goats, were placed in a vault of the church in order to save appearances. We have only to add, that the captain became solo owner of the Faustina, and continued his voyages to St. Domingo, with which island he carried on an extensive business, and prospered accordingly.

L. L.


" Your poem must eternal be

Dear sir !--it cannot fail
For 'tis incomprehensible,

And wants both head and tail.

* Swans sing before they die 'twere no bad thing
Did certain persons die before they sing.”


TO -
They told me, with their feelings bitter,

That in your wealth your beauty lies ;
And I believed them, for there glitter
Ten thousand diamonds in your eyes.






Such a cry

I am not one of those who abominate the idea of a family dinner, nor will my name ever be down as a candidate for admission into that club, whose members offer a man their card, in return for his hospitality of shoulder of mutton and pudding; on the contrary, I always find plenty of gleanings from the fields of fun in such réunions, and surely in this long-faced, much-eating world, a mouthful of laughter is more valuable from its rarity than a surfeit of ragout. With such sentiments, therefore, I was not offended, when, on a short visit to London in the dead season of the year, to arrange some law affairs, my man of business asked me to honour his table with my company, -“We shall make no stranger of you”-said he—“quite alone-only ourselves.”

I am not an illnatured person, and hate to put any one out of his way ; so punctually at the hour of five I presented myself at the “ Villa,” one mile the other side of Brompton, where my friend's family luxuriated in the idea of country, and was ushered into the drawing-room. Now, why should I attempt to catalogue the furniture of this unique apartment, when it told its own tale of having been picked up piecemeal at auctions, alternately neat, old fashioned, or gaudy, as it happened? Or, why should I add to the nervousness and hurry of my hostess, by saying she looked as if she knew by ocular demonstration that the kitchen fire was in capital order for boiling? or bring a tinge upon the pale cheeks of the daughters, by hinting that the bear's grease had rather encroached upon the forehead, and the ringlets bore the impress of the curl papers on every turn ?-these were mere trifles to a hungry man, and ought not every man to be hungry, when the cry of Ba-a-ker at the gate gives notice that the savoury dinner has been making mouths water all the way from Mr. Crusty's oven round the corner ? had evidently been for some time expected, for it was immediately responded to, by the whole family rising, and Mr. Parchment himself exclaiming,

Puddings are bad things when cold; suppose we go to the dining room, and prepare our opening claws.” A general titter declared that all capacities were ready, in due deference, to receive and understand the accustomed pun ; and in a few minutes we were seated before the table-cloth, looking into each others faces, and waiting the catastrophe.

Our party was now increased by two-Eh——what shall I call them ?boys-or young-no little men, who were not introduced, but whom I at once suspected to be those anomalous animals, y’cleped, domestic clerks.

An anxious silence was kept up, except by Parchment himself, who favoured me with a slight discussion upon the enormity of church rates, interrupted only by an audible whisper from the youngest, and, therefore, spoilt girl, who, poor child, could not help just touching her mother, with the question, Ma, is it a roly poly pudding ?

The master now portentously took out his watch, and looking towards his wife, “ My dear,” said he, "it has struck five -.Her answer was prevented by a boy, (just entering upon an acquaintance with his page's dress, and not quite up to a ceremonious friendship with his coat,) bringing in a well grown dish, to which all eyes were in a moment turned, discovering a curious, composition, something like a boiled arm, well bruized, length about eighteen inches, diameter ten inches. Nothing could exceed the nicety with which Mrs. Parchment divided this among the party, leaving two pieces upon the dish; but it was some minutes before I could decide what were really the materials of the long roll, jacketed with the prints of the bag in which it had been boiled ; however, I at length satisfied myself that it was a suet pudding, with a scattering of currants in it, and no uneatable thing either, if I might judge from the expedition with

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]


which it disappeared, however curious as a first course. As I was putting the last subdivision into my mouth, Mis. Farchment, balancing one of the remaining pieces upon her fork, enquired if I would take more ?—more! On my refusal, Mr. P. sent up his plate for that same, and the end was given to the little girl, a kind of perquisite, I suppose, which the two clerks, certainly by their looks, envied. The servant then put before his mistress a dish of potatoes ; on the side near me some opae gravy in a boat, and opposite, a ditto to match, filled with sauce, while Mr. P. sharpened his carving knife in readiness for a large sucking

- The dish is a good dish, and I have no peculiar Hebrew antipathies to the breed, but there are similies—mais n'importe. I begged for a piece of the leg, (as I confess the little ribs, scarcely assuming the form of bone, gave me a slight-a momentary squeamishness, such as Don Juan felt when he flung away the pinion of the learned Pedrillo,) and very contentedly began masticating a chip of "the Epidermis of this infant Mammalia of the swine species,” (as the head quill-driver had just informed us the squeakers skin was properly denominated,) when-" Trackem,” said Mr.P. to the junior clerk, who had never taken his eyes off the little snout, as it gaped towards him," I think you are fond of the breast part, or shall I give you half the head, you will find some nice picking ?”. I looked at the poor man, won. dering why he did not answer, and saw him desperately rub down his hair, as if vainly trying to efface the officious bump of “ Philo-progenitiveness," that stood (strange chance!) in the way of his mouth; then turning almost yellow with fear and disgust, he whined out, increasing the emphasis with every pause,

“ None for me, sir, thank you—I can't bear the sight of it,”—and then roaring out, “ And I never could !” he burst out of the room, as if ten thousand slaughtered babes were at his heels.

I shall never forget the looks of the horrified family; but I didn't laughat least not then.

S. L. H.

*** Le Sage resided in a little cottage while he supplied the world with their most agreeable novels, and appears to have derived the sources of his existence in his old age from the filial exertions of an excellent son, who was an actor of some genius. I wish, however, that every man of letters could apply to himself the epitaph of this delightful writer :

Sous ce tombeau git Le Sage abattu
Par le ciseau de la Parque importune ;
S'il ne fut pas

ami de la fortune,
Il fut toujours ami de la vertu.”—D'Israeli.

DISINTERESTED GRIEF.-Benserade, the French poet, on the deaih of his patron, Cardinal Richelieu, gratefully made this epitaph :

Cy gist, ouy gist, par la mort bleu,
Le Cardinal de Richelieu,
Et, ce qui cause mon ennuy,
Ma PENSION avec lui !"

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

At the principal entrance to one of the most handsome of the churches which abound in the good city of Paris, an aged beggar was accustomed to take his stand at the bour for the celebration of mass, to solicit charity of the devotees. For years he had never failed to repair to the sacred edifice, and take his seat on the self-same spot; in fact, he was so accustomed to be soon there, that he was well nigh considered as one of the ornaments of the porch. His conversation, address, and bearing, plainly told that he had received a superior education ; and wretched as he ever appeared, he possessed a certain dignity of manner which revealed to the observer tbat he had at other times been accustomed to move in a far higher sphere. Amongst the crowd of beggars, too, who daily thronged to solicit alms of those who

attended the celebration of mass, he possessed great authority. The kindness with which he ever listened to their complaints, and the sympathy which he showed for their sufferings ; the benevolence which induced hiñ to share the alms which he had received with those who had been less fortunate than himself; the zeal with wbich he always endeavoured to settle their disputes, and appease the angry feelings, which were sometimes engendered amongst them; all contributed to raise him in their esteem and affection ; Devertheless, to all of his companions, even to those who were most intimate with him, the bistory of his life, and the misfortunes which had reduced him to beggary, were unknown. One thing alone was certain ; he never stopped within the threshold of the church, yot he was a Catholic; and at the moment when the sacred rites were being performed, when the pious chants of the priests echoed through the hallowed dome, when the deep and solemn tone of the organ pealed along the aisles, the aged mendicant would join with devotion in the holy rites, and raise his feeble voice in prayer and thanksgiving to the Almighty Ruler of the world. And often when listening to the discourse of some pious priest, tears would course down his furrowed cheek. It was evident to all who knew him that he had some great cause for sorrow, yet to none would he confess the grief which preyed upon his mind.

The curate of the chureh, who was accustomed daily to celebrate mass therein, was descended from one of the most ancient families of France. Possessing an immense fortune, he delighted in giving from out his store help to the needy and oppressed. The old mendicant had been a particular object of his solicitude ; and the Abbé C. never failed, as he entered the church, to place in his hand an alms, rendered doubly valuable by the kind and encouraging words with which he accompanied the gift.

One day the old man was missing from his accustomed seat; a second and a third passed, yet he did not appear. The good Abbé, fearing that some misfortune bad happened to the mendicant, determined to seek him. Ac. cordingly, having finished his religious duties, he enquired out the abode of the old man, and without loss of time betook himself thither, and found him stretched upon a wretched mattrass in the last stage of existence.

The priest on entering the miserable apartment was struck by the luxury and wretchedness which it at once displayed. A magnificent gold watch was suspended by a rusty nail over the chimney piece ; two pictures, in

« السابقةمتابعة »