Artabanzanus/Chapter 13

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CHAPTER XIII.

THE STRANGER'S STORY.

'I am a native of some curious country in the upper world, where the sun shines, and where there are mountains and oceans, but I have forgotten the name of it, although it has an ancient, and not an inglorious, history, according to the opinions of human beings. I have also forgotten the name of a large island which I once conquered, and of which I was the governor. My brain, please your Majesty, is now an incomprehensible jumble; I can remember many things, but I have forgotten as many. Amongst the things I have forgotten are my own name, and the place where I was born. Among the large crowd of friends and enemies whom I once knew, and who are now only faint shadows of bygone years, there is one, however, whom I have not forgotten—it is my wife.

'I was an author in my time, and wrote several books. Amongst others a treatise on the Treaty of Tilsit, a Tragedy on the death of the Due D'Enghien, a History of the Afghan Revolution, etc. I believe I am descended from a great sea-king, named Ragnor Lodbrog, who sailed the German Ocean and the English Channel in search of prey, and carried all before him. He conquered Rouen, was bought off from Paris, and extended his excursions into Spain. At length he determined to try his hand on England, but there he was defeated, and taken prisoner, in a bloody battle by Ella, King of Northumbria, and was shockingly put to death by being cast into a den in which numbers of poisonous reptiles had been thrown on purpose to destroy him. That is a clue for the knowing ones—let them find out my name.

'I was fourteen when the splendid palace of the king of my native land was burnt to ashes. The palace was situated on an island, to which access could only be had by means of a drawbridge. The flames ascended to an immense height, and were grand and awful beyond description. The lakes around our fine city reflected the splendour of the conflagration; and as I stood on an eminence looking at it at night, and heard the fire roaring, and the falling roofs crashing, and saw the pictures of the old knights who had long been dead moving as the devouring elements swept over the canvas, so that they seemed again animated with life, my mind was filled with extraordinary emotions. The fire could not be subdued; the poor king refused to believe that his palace was being consumed, and his servants were compelled to remove him from his burning chamber by force.

'A strong spirit of adventure took possession of me about this time, and I tormented my father until he bound me as apprentice to a ship in the coaling trade; at this I remained for four years, during which time I mastered the English language, read a great number of books, and made myself acquainted with astronomy, geography, and nautical science. At the age of eighteen I left the coal trade, and entered on board a South Sea whaler going to the Cape of Good Hope with stores. When we arrived there, I went to another ship bound for Algoa Bay. The captain told me he had in many perilous adventures; he was an officer on board the Lady Jane Shore when she was piratically seized by the prisoners and soldiers on her way to Botany Bay, and escaped death by leaving his bed in the dark.

'When we arrived at Algoa Bay, we found two men-of-war belonging to England, and during the evening another entered the harbour, and cast anchor near them. I received an order immediately to pay the new arrival a visit; but, on going alongside in the boat, and being about to mount the side, I heard people talking in a foreign language, which I suspected was French. I returned to my ship with a report of what I had heard, and it was soon discovered that the stranger was the French frigate La Preneuse, of 44 guns, which had watched the English ships into the bay, and expected to make prizes of them in the morning. The latter lost no time in opening their fire, although both the captains were on shore. The battle lasted six hours, and at last the Frenchman spread his sails to the land breeze, and bade us good-bye.

'My next change was to the Lady Nelson, tender to the Investigator, discovery ship, under Captain Flinders, and we proceeded to Sydney to join that officer. (My memory becomes better as I get deeper into my history.) We spent a long time in surveying the coasts of Port Philip and Van Diemen's Land, now called Tasmania, where I was destined hereafter to spend many years of my chequered life. We then sailed to the northern shores of New Holland, where we lost all our anchors and cables on the coral reefs, but saved our vessel by means of a wooden anchor. When we got back to Sydney, however, our anchor would no longer sink, and our ship, the Lady Nelson, went on shore.

'In the year 1803 we set sail from Sydney with passengers and stores for the Derwent, and, after landing them, sailed to Port Philip, to bring over Colonel Collins and the persons who had attempted to form a settlement there. The soil was so arid and barren, and fresh water was so scarce, that it was judged necessary to abandon the place altogether.

'On the land where Colonel Collins stood, and which he abandoned in disgust, the city of Melbourne now stands and flourishes. People from Tasmania went there, and bought a few acres for a mere trifle, and found themselves in a few years' time millionaires. The gold mines of Victoria were the magician's wands.

'While we were away the site of the present city of Hobart was fixed upon, and a part of the wild Bush cleared for dwellings. It is a small but very pretty city now, but at that time the largest gum-trees thickly overshadowed an almost impenetrable scrub. Returning to Sydney to refit, we again went to Tasmania, and surveyed the entrance to the Tamar. Then we went to King Island, and amused ourselves with hunting the emu and killing sea-elephants; and on going back to Sydney, after a trip to the new settlement of Newcastle, seventy miles north of Port Jackson, I left the King of England's service.

'A voyage to New Zealand next engaged my attention, We filled a vessel with skins, and came back to Sydney. I then entered as chief officer of the Alexander, a whaler, and we sailed for the Derwent, where I struck the first whale that had ever been struck in Tasmanian waters. Directing our course to New Zealand, we filled our ship, after nearly losing her in a skirmish with the natives, and sailed for London, taking two of our savage friends with us. Baffled in our attempts to double Cape Horn, and driven three thousand miles out of our course, we made for Otaheite for provisions. Plenty of fresh meat was to be had but we were obliged to manufacture salt to cure it which detained us two months. Again setting sail, with an Otaheitan chief and a friend of his, we tried the Horn a second time, and succeeded in getting round, though not without suffering many hardships. At St. Catherine's, in the Brazils, we stayed over three months, putting everything in order, and, after another long stoppage at St. Helena, waiting for convoy, arrived safely in the Thames.

'I soon became desirous of revisiting my native land, and, resigning the charge of my New Zealand friends into the hands of an excellent man, Sir Joseph Banks, I made my way to the city of my ancestors, which I found had just been bombarded by an English fleet. The most beautiful city in the world was a heap of ruins. Fifteen hundred of my poor countrymen had been destroyed. This made me detest England, a Power which I had previously respected, if not loved. To prevent our fleet from falling into the hands of the then conqueror of Europe, Napoleon Bonaparte, was her ostensible motive; but, although I did not love France, I determined to wreak summary vengeance on England. I therefore took the command of a fine ship, armed with twenty-eight guns, which had been purchased by my father and seven other merchants of—yes, Copenhagen I have it now—and presented to the Crown. We cut our way through the ice a month before it was expected that any vessel could get out, and, coming unawares among the English traders, captured eight or nine ships. I then stood boldly over to England, determined to immortalize my name by a glorious conquest, and found myself suddenly in sight of Flamborough Head, and at the same time within the reach of an English sloop of war, while a little way beyond lay another. To save my ship was now my work but we were obliged to fight. The enemy had a hundred and twenty men; I had only eighty-three; and in a few minutes we were hard at it, yard-arm to yard-arm, two against one. The fight lasted three-quarters of an hour; I fired seventeen broadsides, and did not cease until all my powder was gone, and my masts, sails, and rigging were shot to pieces. To resist any longer was impossible, so I struck my colours, as many a brave man has had to do before me.

'I was not in England above twenty-four hours when a letter arrived from London, from a gentleman whom I had met in my native city the year before, requesting me to hurry to London on important business. Having my liberty, though not on parole, I lost no time in complying with his request. I soon became known to several high officials of those stirring times, and renewed my acquaintance with Sir Joseph Banks, of whose friendship and good offices I shall feel proud as long as I shall be allowed to remember anything. He was a distinguished naturalist, and an honour to his country; and he had the privilege of sailing with the great Captain Cook, the immortal discoverer of Australia. A great stir was made in London just then about the condition of a certain island belonging to my native country, the name of which I cannot remember, the inhabitants being reduced almost to the horrors of a famine on account of the fierce hostilities carried on between Great Britain and that country. Permission was obtained from the British Government to freight a ship with provisions, and I agreed to take the command of her. We sailed from Liverpool in December—a time when it was considered madness to venture into such a high latitude when there were only two hours of daylight out of the twenty four. But we had plenty of light from the aurora borealis, and arrived in perfect safety, to the great joy of the starving people. Our cargo I foresaw would go but a little way towards supplying their wants, so I hastened back to Liverpool to get another.

'On my return to the island with more flour and other provisions, I discovered that an order had been issued prohibiting further communication with the English; and not liking the idea of taking my cargo back again, I made up my mind to act in the crisis with independent decision and energy. The next day was Sunday, and waiting quietly until the people had gone into church, I then took twelve well armed sailors with me, went on shore and marched straight up to the Governor's house, in front of which I stationed six of my men, sending the remainder to watch the rear with orders to fire on any man who should attempt to interfere. I then walked into the house with a loaded pistol in each hand. His lordship, Count Tramp, had luckily not gone to church, and I found him reposing on the sofa, not in the least expecting such a visitor. His surprise was very great, but he wisely made a virtue of necessity, and quietly accompanied me on board my vessel. Here was something to be proud of, your Majesty. The government of a large island, with a burning mountain in it, changed in a moment, and not a drop of blood spilt! Let the bloodthirsty battle-mongers of the world think of it. The people were astonished, but thinking that I acted with the connivance of the British Government, submitted without a murmur. To strengthen my position, I secured the iron chest, and issued a proclamation, wherein I stated roundly that the people, being tired of constant oppression, had unanimously called me to the head of the government.

'There have been worse governors in the world than Captain ——, it is wonderful that, in the multitude of things I can remember, my own long familiar name should have become a perfect blank. Well, perhaps it may come back some day, with interest, payable to the bearer. My proclamation, though written in rather a peculiar language, was eminently successful. The English residents never interfered, and the islanders made sure it was all right. Not being inclined to tyrannize over my fellow men, I resolved to adopt popular measures. I established a free representative government and trial by jury. My Home Rule was not one of the Squelchers and the Squelched such as they are clamouring for in Ireland. I relieved the people from one-half of the taxes [think of that, ye plundering, insatiable Australian Parliaments—ye sons or daughters of the thirsty horseleech, think of that], supplying the deficiency by imposing a duty on all British goods imported and exported. I increased the salaries of the clergy, even that of the bishop—not forgetting, as richer governments do, the humble curates. Some of the latter had lived on twelve pounds a year, a sum upon which the foxhound of an English squire would starve. Consequently, I had pulpit eloquence on my side. I took the public schools and fisheries under my care, and compelled all public defaulters to cash up without delay. I next formally released (though without authority) the people from all debts due to the Crown of my native country, which had shamefully withheld the money subscribed for their relief by the nations of Europe, especially the English, after the terrible calamities of 1783. [The volcanic eruptions of that year from the Skeidara covered several fertile districts with lava, poisoned the water and atmosphere all around, drove the fishes away from the coasts, and caused a famine and pestilence which in two years destroyed 9,000 people, and thousands of horses and cattle.] Nor was I idle in organizing military defences. I established an army of eight hundred soldiers, well armed and mounted, and placed six guns in position to defend the harbour. Indeed, I am quite serious when I tell your Majesty that the laws and regulations I then made were so good that I have reason to believe they remain unaltered to the present day.

'I now thought it advisable to make a tour of the island. The country was very beautiful, with high and precipitous mountains capped with snow and ice, but there were very few trees to be seen. The people in general paid me the respect due to my exalted station; but I had some trouble with the prefect of one of the northern districts. He was so insolent as to refuse to acknowledge me as governor, or to surrender the iron chest which I was resolute in demanding. But I called from his door to the people around me to collect a quantity of brushwood for the purpose of burning him and his house too, if he did not quickly submit; and submit he accordingly did, though he eyed me suspiciously as if I were only a common impostor.

'After settling all these important affairs to my own satisfaction, if not quite to that of everyone else, I determined to pay a visit to London, on business of a serious nature. I had taken possession of a ship belonging to Count Tramp, and embarked in her, leaving the other passengers on board my own vessel. We sailed in company, but my own ship outsailed the prize, and I was obliged to run the latter between a reef and the shore, a passage till then thought impracticable. I thus gained seventeen miles, but by daylight we saw our companion three miles to leeward with signals of distress flying. Bearing down upon her, we found she was on fire. The people on board were making no efforts to put the fire out, or to save themselves; they were, in fact, paralyzed with terror. With a presence of mind which never deserted me in moments of danger, I immediately ordered out the boats, and succeeded in getting every living creature safe on board the prize. But I remained close to windward, forgetting that the guns of the burning ship were loaded; and presently they went off in a thundering volley, sending a storm of shot over our heads. There were on board ten guns, and a cargo of wool, feathers, oil, tallow, and tar; the sight was magnificent, but it was disheartening to see our fine ship, and all it contained, so suddenly destroyed. After this catastrophe we returned for provisions. I transferred my passengers to H.M.S. Talbot, which happened to be in the harbour, and resuming my voyage, reached Liverpool in eight days.

'When I arrived in London I found that the Talbot had got in before me, and that the captain had represented to the Ministry that I had established a republican government in the island, for the purpose of harbouring all the disaffected persons in Europe, though nothing was farther from my thoughts. And, further, that I was not qualified to hold the governorship, because I had been an apprentice on board an English collier, and a midshipman in a man-of-war; fine reasons truly with which to crush rising genius! Nelson was also a midshipman; one of the Popes had been a cowboy; and Captain Cook a cabin-boy. At the instance of this false captain, I was arrested, and charged with having broken my parole, though I had never given it at all. They sent me to Tothill Fields' Prison, where I met with some sparkling fellows, who initiated me into the mysteries of gambling; and then to the hulk appointed for the reception of prisoners of war. After having resided in these places for twelve months, I was allowed to retire to Reading, on my parole of honour, and began to devote myself to literature; but going to London, with permission to employ myself as a British subject, I fell in with my friends from Tothill Fields, and was, in the space of six months, considerately stripped of every farthing I possessed. I advise all here, and all who may read my memoirs, never to sit down to a gaming-table, never even to look on while others are gambling. The fascination accompanying this dreadful vice is stronger than that of drunkenness itself. It absorbs every faculty, and steeps the soul in tremulous delight, leading only to disappointment, remorse, and despair. The professional gamester knows only too well how to cajole his victim. He will smile pleasantly, and press his hand kindly, as he invites him to have a rubber, but he will eye him as a vulture does a lamb. Surrounded by a number of them, I have more than once congratulated myself on being a winner, when, lo! the cash was suddenly swept off the table, and half a dozen eager voices declared that I had lost. Indignant remonstrances and protestations were in vain.

'When I had lost every penny at the gaming-table, for the first time I determined to try my fortune in a foreign land, and took a passage to Lisbon. But here my evil genius pursued me, and I was arrested by the orders of General Trant, and sent back to England, for no crime in the world but reporting to the British Consul the assassination of Mr. Perceval by Bellingham, in the lobby of the House of Commons. I returned to Lisbon, gave way to my newly-acquired propensity for gambling, and again found myself without a farthing. I sold the clothes off my back, and putting on an old jacket and trousers (I could not well do with less) engaged as a seaman in a gunboat, and cruised off St. Vincent for ten days. We took a good many small prizes, sent out on purpose to be taken, furnished with false papers. Here I was promoted to the command of a watch, on account of the ready way in which I performed my duty; but my elevation immediately drew down such a storm of jealousy and dislike from the rest of the officers that I was made quite miserable. Going, however, into Gibraltar, I was lucky enough to be sent to the hospital, through representing an old complaint that sometimes troubled me to be ten times worse than it really was. Soon after I was sent to Portsmouth, and put on board the Gladiator, fifty guns, where from seven to eight hundred sick men were crowded together in a state of positive suffocation. Here I became really ill, and wrote a letter to the Admiral, craving permission to go on shore. When the doctor and captain heard of this, they both attacked me as if I were a dog, and threatened to tie me up and flog me for "shamming Moses" so that my situation became worse than ever. The captain insulted me every day, and said he would teach me to apply to the Admiralty instead of to him. My first letter having produced no result, I made up my mind to try another, let the consequences be what they might, and the next day an order came for the captain and me to attend the Admiral on shore. We went accordingly, and I was extremely gratified to hear my enemy get a good rap on the knuckles, while I received permission to go where I liked.

'My footsteps were now turned towards London, where I had many friends of high rank and great influence, by whom, notwithstanding my coarse jacket and trousers, I was received with great kindness. In the tranquillity of a friend's country seat in Suffolk I wrote an account of the Island Revolution, which I presented to my friend Sir Joseph Banks. My host pointed me out to his friends as his majesty, the king of that island. My friends in my native city sent me a good supply of money, which was increased by the liberality of those I had in England. I then returned to London, made my appearance among my old acquaintances, by whom I was generously and rapturously received, sat down to the gaming-table once more, and again rose up a beggar.

'But instead of being cured by these repeated misfortunes, my propensity for gambling grew stronger every day. I was arrested for debt, and confined in the Fleet prison for two years. I had made some friends by the timely disclosure of a plot, on the part of the French Government, to take the Australian colonies from the English; and what money I received for this I squandered at the gaming-table. I was presented with sufficient to pay my debts and procure my liberty; but instead of doing so, I threw it all away on this fascinating vice, thus losing both my freedom and my peace of mind. To protect myself against the dangers and horrors of idleness, I wrote while in prison a History of the Afghan Revolution, and the tragedy I formerly mentioned. I amused myself by making neat copies of these works, which I presented to different noblemen and gentlemen of whom I had some knowledge; and they rewarded me handsomely for my pains. At this period I was sent for to the Foreign Office, and was offered an employment which would oblige me to proceed to Belgium, where the British troops and their allies were already mustering, under Lord Wellington, in the hope of finally crushing the mad ambition of Bonaparte and the French. My debts were paid, money was advanced to provide an outfit, and permission was given me to draw when abroad for reasonable travelling expenses. And now will your Majesty believe it ? If it is not true, cut my head off on the spot.'

The King started suddenly, like a war-horse when he sniffs the battle from afar, and growled, 'Ha! it's time it was off.'

'Sire, I gambled the money away, and instead of providing myself with an outfit, I sold everything except my shirt, so to speak, and found myself totally destitute. My shame and remorse amounted to agony. I went and told a bundle of lies to the master of a storeship, and got to Ostend; then I drew upon London for money, but the bankers treated me as an impostor, until luckily meeting with a military officer to whom I was known, he was able to testify to my identity, and I found myself again on my legs.

'I now began to taste the pleasures of freedom and a replenished pocket. The belligerent hosts of England and France rapidly approached each other, and it was soon evident where the decisive blow would be struck. I travelled on therefore hastily, and was an astonished spectator of the battle of Quatre Bras, and a still more astonished witness of the crushing defeat of the boasting Bonaparte at Waterloo. Although I had no great reason to love England, I yet longed to see her victorious over the bloodthirsty, unprincipled conqueror of Europe. What terrible emotions did the thunder of the guns create in my breast!—every discharge carrying destruction to dozens of brave and healthy men, and for nothing but to gratify the fiendish lust of worldly power and glory: rivers of blood flowing on the fields of battle, and bitter cries of want and sorrow ascending from every side to the Judgment-seat of God! And for all this is a man exalted to be a hero and a demigod, by his vainglorious and fickle fellow mortals.

'I went to Paris with the army, and saw the prodigious number of four hundred thousand soldiers collected there, Meeting also with my friend of the Foreign Office, I received orders to proceed to Warsaw, and was furnished with a further supply of money to defray expenses. Instead of going, however, like a gentleman of honour, I went to a gambling hell, merely to see how they managed such matters in France, and with strong resolutions not to play. But the temptation became irresistible. I won at first, but the tide turned, and I lost for several nights, my employer thinking that I had started on my journey. Very soon I was without a farthing; I sold the shirt off my back to a sergeant for seven francs, in cold December, and buttoning up my coat, bade adieu to Paris, and set out for Warsaw on foot.

'I now entered upon a course of minor adventures which might have furnished Smollet or Fielding with materials for some excellent novels, although I managed to get on without Narcissa and Amelia. Like a good many other adventurers, I discovered that something was to be always gained by a timely exhibition of cool, audacious impudence. Nothing lowers a poor wretch in this world so much as a bashful demeanour, for in the opinion of men the modest, timid man, though he may be as honest as Fabricius, and as virtuous as Scipio, is nothing but an idiot, and they treat him accordingly. About one hundred and twenty miles from Paris, at the little village of Joncherie, I found myself without a sou, but I entered a cabaret, and called for a good dinner While eating it the mayor came in to look at my passport. Along with this was a letter which I wished him to see and on his looking at it, asked him if he knew the handwriting. I then explained that it was from the Duchess of Angoulème. He bowed and smiled. "I am," said I, "an Irishman going to the Holy Land." With which information he was so delighted, that he advised me not to leave the village until I had seen the Baroness D'Este, a religious and charitable lady. I waited upon her accordingly with the same story, had all my expenses at the inn paid, and received some coins to deposit at the sacred shrine. Here I remained for ten days, enjoying the good things of this life.

'Continuing my journey, I arrived at Rheims. The prefect of this city was a zealous Bonapartist, and I, being in want of money, wrote him a letter, in which I said I had reason to believe that the Commissariat Stores had been robbed by the English. He sent for me, and I made such a favourable impression that he at once furnished me with money and a billet, which enabled me to receive a certain sum per mile to defray my expenses, besides the service of a horse to carry me from station to station on the road. After travelling some time, I was stopped by a blustering village mayor, told I was a lazy fellow, and ordered to stretch my legs, as he would not supply me with a horse; his conduct, indeed, was so offensive that I was provoked to bestow upon him a knock on the head which made his skull ring again; but seeing the villagers coming out like a swarm of bees, armed with pitchforks and other weapons, I thought it advisable to take to my heels at once.

'At Metz I got my billet renewed through taking advantage of the Mayor's ignorance of the French language. At Frankfort I found myself penniless, but, with my usual sang froid, I entered a good inn, and ordered a sumptuous supper. In the morning I told my landlord I had no money, but expected a supply in the course of the day. Leaving my waistcoat with him in pledge, I went out to seek my fortune, and strolled into a mathematical instrument maker's shop, where I perceived a chronometer bearing my father's name. I then introduced myself to the proprietor, who was a Scotchman named Fraser. He was an amiable and humane man, and in addition to kind advice he directed me to Lord Clancarty, the British Minister. Here I found a gentleman from the Foreign Office who knew me, notwithstanding my shabby attire, and my pecuniary wants were again liberally supplied. Mr. Fraser also gave me a letter of introduction to the secretary of the Grand-Duke of Hesse Darmstadt, on delivering which I had the pleasure of being presented to His Royal Highness, with whom I had a most interesting conversation. I spent a long time in looking over his museum, and splendid gallery of paintings. On my departure His Royal Highness made me a handsome present.

'At Saxe Weimar I visited the Duke's splendid library of two hundred thousand volumes, and was introduced to the celebrated Goethe, no inconsiderable honour, I can assure your Majesty. Travelling thence to Leipsic, I surveyed with indescribable interest the scene of that memorable battle which lasted four days, and in which six hundred thousand men fought in deadly strife—some for glory and dominion, others for the liberties of their country. Here that sublime outlaw who had conquered and robbed the greater part of Europe was defeated. What wonderful scenes in history can be created by one little man, whom I could have clapped into a basket, and carried on my shoulders from Cape Wrath to the Straits of Dover!'

'What was his name?' asked the King.

'Napoleon Bonaparte, sire. As for me, I began at last to rise in the world, and hired a carriage to Berlin, where I waited on the British Minister, and had my funds again recruited. In this city I remained for eight months, procrastinating from day to day my departure for Warsaw; for, yielding to my gambling propensities, I gained a prize in the Prussian lottery for four hundred crowns, my ticket having only cost me three shillings. I now gambled to excess, in spite of good resolutions vowed and sworn while lying quietly in bed. I was not happy until again within the exciting whirlpool. One of my partners at several games of whist was that debauched old dragoon, as his great enemy called him, who helped Wellington to crush Bonaparte at Waterloo, the renowned Field-Marshal Blucher. Tearing myself away from Berlin at last, I found myself at Dresden, where I fell among Philistines, and was completely fleeced, losing so large a sum as five hundred pounds to a disreputable rascal who I knew was not worth ten shillings.

'The gentlemen with whom I got connected at Dresden tried hard to persuade me that I was in debt to them, so I was obliged to depart suddenly without even applying for a passport, though I knew I should suffer greatly for want of one. But travelling now on foot, crestfallen and miserable, I was too obscure to attract much notice. One evening, however, arriving at the gate of a small fortified town, the sentinel positively refused to let me pass unless I produced my passport. I was terribly annoyed, being very tired and hungry, and the noise I made brought out the gatekeeper's wife, to whom I immediately appealed. God bless the ladies! Presenting her with two silk handkerchiefs, I begged her to intercede, as it would be ruinous for me to be shut out that night, having a cartload of smuggled goods coming, which would stand a good chance of being seized if I were not at hand to receive them. In addition to the two handkerchiefs I promised her some very advantageous bargains when the goods came up. My story went to the honest woman's heart; I was invited into the gatehouse, regaled with supper, and accommodated with a bed. In the morning I fortified myself with a hearty breakfast, and in great astonishment that my cartload of goods had not come up, I walked out to see what had detained it.'

'I understand,' said the King; 'you told a falsehood; you had no cartload of goods coming.'

'No, your Majesty; it was an invention of mine to enable me to surmount a difficulty.'

'Ha! Proceed.'

'The want of a passport, sire, sharpened my wits. From the Continent I crossed over to London, and, notwithstanding my delays and delinquencies, received the approbation of my employer, and a liberal reward for my services. Led on still by my evil genius, from whose fangs I had been so often unaccountably rescued, I again sank into the vortex of gambling, and spent three years in the wicked and senseless excitement. At length an ungrateful and cunning wretch, a fellow-lodger of mine, laid a scheme to ruin me, and it succeeded only too well. I was arrested one day on a charge of having pawned some property belonging to my landlady; I was tried at the Old Bailey, and had the mortification to receive a sentence of seven years' transportation. Detained in Newgate until my innocence was made manifest, I had the pleasure of being pardoned on condition that I should quit the kingdom within a month of the day of my liberation.

'Your Majesty will now fully expect to hear that I turned a deaf ear to the solicitations of my fast friends; that I left London forthwith, went to the Brazils, traded successfully, retired from business, bought an estate, and now live upon it the owner of slaves and cattle without number; but weakness, not strength, prevailed. With a month before me, and money in my pocket, I did not wait for my fast friends to seek me, but went where I knew I should find them. The month flew by, and several weeks were added to it when, as I was actually on my way out of England, I met a friend on Tower Hill whom I was very glad to see. He seemed to be delighted to see me squeezed my hand heartily, and smiled in my face; he invited me to dinner, but while I was eating it sent for the police. My sentence on this occasion was transportation for life. A convict now, without a hope of pardon.

'Lodged in my old quarters in Newgate again, I resumed my literary pursuits. I now wrote a religious work, which raised up for me a host of enemies. The false representations of these snarling and disreputable people to the Ministry had the effect of putting an end to my useful and benevolent labours in Newgate, and I was shipped off, with many more unfortunate men, sorely against my will, to an island near the South Pole, which your Majesty has never heard of. It was a great and a sad fall; but the discipline, though severe, may possibly have been necessary to cure me of that abominable vice of gambling, of which I believe I am now cured for ever. And now, please your Majesty, as I have told my story without reserve, I most humbly beg and crave that yon will be graciously pleased to give me a place in your honourable Court.

'A place in my Court, thou snivelling idiot!' bellowed the King in a paroxysm of rage. 'Thou art a self-confessed liar, and thou allowest thy wife to beat thee and to curse thee! Away with him to the block: he shall not live, a contemptible coward and fool—he shall die!'

'My ford Cardinal!' said the poor man, as the halberdiers and the buffetiers approached him, wagging their jaws. 'I appeal to your Eminence. I am condemned to death by this arbitrary monarch for having told him the truth. He will not believe me. He is a type of the great and foolish world, the mass of self-satisfied mankind, which will not believe the things that it hath not seen, because it cannot or will not understand them. I compare not myself, or my insignificant abilities, to great and marvellous ones which are above my poor comprehension; but well I know—at least I believe—that in the millions of worlds of whose existence we are sure, because we see them as twinkling stars, there are possibilities and realities surpassing in sublime grandeur the most exalted conceptions of our miserable minds. Shall we presume to say they are lies, and exist only in our own imaginations?'

'King of England!' said the Cardinal solemnly, 'have I not advised you to shed no more blood, even as I would advise the princes and powers of the earth to wage no more unjust war? Have you forgotten my history? You will not believe this man's story, which is not, I venture to think, one whit more extraordinary than my own, which you well know to be true. I speak freely now as you have done your worst' (here the buffetiers laughed, and wagged their jaws again), 'and I fear nothing. Did I not rise from nothing, as the fungus in the night, or as the fiery rocket into the air, while thousands of poor creatures were left to grovel in poverty all their lives? I became your fathers trusted and favourite councillor, O King! and then yours, because I had the genius to take advantage of the opportunities which rapidly presented themselves to me; no drivelling qualm of conscience, or wretched fear of offending the High Majesty of Heaven, keeping me back. Those men who study to please their Maker may become poorer but are better as they grow older, while those who study to please themselves and the world become worse. I became Dean of Lincoln by a quick journey to France and back again; then Lord Almoner, and owner of Empson's forfeited house and lands; I pass over my offices and honours until I became a Cardinal and Lord High Chancellor. My riches grew with my honours. I grew rich beyond the dreams of avarice. I was the cynosure on whom men cast their envious or admiring glances. I enjoyed stipends from the Kings of France and Spain and from the Doge of Venice. I aspired to the Papal tiara itself, but that effulgent dignity was denied me. I lived in princely splendour at York House, and built a magnificent palace which I presented to your Majesty, for I saw you were getting jealous of me, and "jealousy is cruel as the grave." My dress was gorgeous; my household included five hundred people; earls and barons were amongst my servants. With all this I was no mean scholar, promoting learning, encouraging genius, restraining the shedding of English blood, and helping the poor by a profuse expenditure of money. But my mind was still poisoned with pride and the lust of place and power, and I fell—and the greatness of my fall was a mortal blow. My earthly grandeur is now a dream. I have my weight of lead at my back, and tremble at every breath that may be wafted to me by the great God whom I neglected, if not despised, and took in His place an earthly idol, a king of corruptible flesh and blood, no better than mine own.'

No sooner had the Cardinal uttered these words than the King fell back on his throne as if struck by lightning. The crowd in the room became mingled together in a confused mass, and rose up to the roof as a cloud of blue smoke. The Doctor and I were left alone, staring at each other, and at last, instead of being struck, as I was, with intense wonder and astonishment, he burst into his usual boisterous fit of laughter.