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A few hours following his confession, the huntsman died.
Whether or no the gentle Catherine shared the popular belief that she had been hunted for, and won by, and was doomed to become a spectre's bride, is not clearly ascertainable. True it is, that her cheek faded, that her eye grew dull, and that the smile of contented pleasure forsook her moistly-red lip, now no longer red nor moist. But these changes may as well be accounted for on less supernatural grounds. Her military adorer still continued absent and silent; he who had so often vowed himself away into wordless sighs, nay, tears, under the big effort to define how much he loved her, and whose only hesitation to declare himself to her father, had always assumed the shape of a fear of being regarded as a speculating fortune-hunter ; when, at a glance, it could be ascertained that he was almost an unfriended adventurer, court. ing the hand of a wealthy heiress.
As to good Squire Hogan, he contrived, or, perhaps, rather tried to laugh at the whole thing; vaguely calling it a very good hoax; “ a choice one, by Jove !" just to save himself the trouble of trying to unravel it; or else to hide his half-felt ignorance on the subject. Meantime he got some cause to laugh a little less than usual. Ejectments were served upon his estate, in the name of the lost son of the man whom he had succeeded in it. And Squire Hogan only strove to laugh the more ; and to affect that he considered the claim as an uncommonly good attempt at “a capital hoax!" practised upon him by some unknown persons whom, on some past occasion, he must have outwitted “ gloriously;" but it was a poor attempt at mirth, and he saw that Catherine, as well as himself, felt that it was.
In fact, he spent many hours alone, mourning for his beloved child, and taxing his brains to shield her from probable and verging misfortune. And a brilliant thought came into his head.
Would it not be a happy, as well as an exceedingly clever thing, to dispose of Catherine, before the trial at law, grounded upon the ejectments, should commence, and while the matter was little suspected, to one or other of her ardent admirers at the club-dinner in Dublin; to, in fact, Ned O'Brien, or George Dempsey, or Mick Driscoll ; or, above all, to Harry Walshe? And the wise father made the attempt, duly, four times in succession; and learned, thereby, that the serving of the ejectments was more generally known than he had imagined. Still he tried to laugh, however ; until one mo
when his bois. terousness ended in sudden tears, as he cast his head on Catherine's shoulder, and said :—" Oh, Kate, Kate! what is to become of you ?-I think I can bear poverty,—but you !"
“ My dear father do not be cast down,” answered Catharine ; earn money, in many ways, for us both, if good people will give me employment."
“ And you are going a-working to support your father, Kate?" He left the room sobbing. His tears affected Catherine to the quick. Other sad and bitter recollections swelled her sorrow into a flood. She could now account for the persevering neglect of her lover, and her tenderlybeloved, upon no other grounds than those of her approaching poverty. Oh, that was a heart-cutting thought !
The day upon which the poor Squire must necessarily start from the country to attend the trial in Dublin, arrived ; and he commenced his journey with another magnificent conception in his head; to eke ont which, he carried in his pocket, without her knowledge, a miniature of
" I can
his daughter Catherine. And with this miniature, and a note, expressive of his willingness to compromise the matter by a marriage, he called on the new claimant for his squireship, the evening of his arrival in the metropolis. But, having retired to his own town-house long before he could have thought it possible that his note had received a leisurely reading, he received back the miniature with a technical epistle from his rivals attorney, stating that no compromise could be entered into ; that the heir-at-law was determined to accept nothing which the law should not decide to be his right; and, adding, that any attempts to see the young gentleman must prove unavailing, while they would be felt to be intrusive; inasmuch as, in cautious provision against a failure in his attempt to establish his claim, he had invariably concealed his person, even from his legal advisers.
This was the first really serious blow our Squire had received. Hitherto he had courageously depended on his own innate cleverness to outwit the coming storm ; now, within a few hours of the trial which was to determine his fate, he acknowledged himself without a resource or an expedient, beyond patience to attend to the grave proceeding, sit it out, and endeavour to comprehend it.
To beguile the remainder of his sad evening, after receiving the attorney's communication, he repaired to his club-room. He found himself cut there. Issuing, in no pleasant mood, into the streets, he encountered, by lamp-light, an individual in a red coat whom he had hitherto considered rather as a deferential hanger-on than as an acquaintance to boast of. Now, at least, by unbending himself, he need not fear a repulse; so, he warmly stretched out both his hands, received a very distant bow of recognition, and was left alone under a lamp-post.
By Cork !" said the Squire, with a bitter laugh, “the puppy officer thinks I am turned upside-down in the world already!”
The cause came on. Our good friend's eyes were rivetted on every person who uttered a word, upon one side or the other. The usual jollity of his countenance changed into the most painful expression of anxiety; and when any thing witty was said by one of his Majesty's counsel, learned in the law, at which others laughed, his effort to second them was miserable to behold. And although it was a bitter cold day, the Squire constantly wiped the perspiration from his forehead and face; chewing, between whiles, a scrap of a quill which he had almost unconsciously picked off his seat.
The depositions, on his death-bed, of Daniel the huntsman, were tendered against him. They established the fact of the wretched selfaccuser having kidnapped the heir of his then master, and handed the infant to his partner in crime. And the first living witness who appeared on the table, was that witch, supposed to have been long dead, even by Daniel himself. She swore that she had intended to destroy the babe ; that, however, having got it into her arms, she relented of her purpose, and gave it, with a bribe, to a strange woman, in a distant district, to expose for her on the high road. Next came the woman alluded to, and she proved that she had followed the directions of her employer, and afterwards watched, unseen, until an elderly lady of her neighbourhood, passing by with a servant, picked up the little unfortunate. And, lastly, the aforesaid elderly lady, who, by the way, had endured some little scandal, at the time, for her act of Christian charity, corroborated this person's testimony ; and further deposed that she had carefully brought up, on limited means, until the day she procured him a com
NO. VIII, VOL. II.
mission in his Majesty's service, the plaintiff in the case at issue. Not a tittle of evidence, in contradiction to that stated, was offered by the defendant; and the only link of the chain of proof submitted by the heir-at-law, which the Squire's counsel energetically sought to cut through, was that created by the first witness. On her cross-examination, it was ingeniously attempted to be impressed on the minds of the jury, that no reliance could be placed upon the oath of a depraved creaturę like her ; that she had really made away with the infant, according to her original intention; and that the one she had offered for exposure, must have been her own, the result of her acquaintance with the son of her benevolent and ill-requited protectress. But, without pausing upon details, we shall only say, that during the trial, sound confirmatory evidence of the truth of the miserable woman's assertion was supplied ; and that, in fact, without hesitation, the jury found for the plaintiff.
Squire Hogan's look of consternation, when he heard the verdict, was pitiable. For a moment he bent down his head and wiped his forehead with his moist handkerchief. Then, with a wretched leer distorting his haggard countenance, he started up, and, muttering indistinctly, bowed low to the judge, the jury, the bar, the public, all; as if he would humbly acknowledge the superiority of every human being. After this, forgetting his hat, he was hurrying away ; some one placed it in his hand ; he bowed lowly, and smiled again ; and, finally, forgetting the necessity to remain uncovered, he pressed it hard over his eyes and left the court; carrying with him the sincere, and, in some instances, the tearful sym. pathy of the spectators.
As fast as horses could gallop with him, he left Dublin, a few moments following.
“ By Cork, Kate" he began, laughing, as his daughter, upon his arrival at the house which used to be his home, hurried to meet him : but he could not carry on the farce; his throat was full and choking ; and suddenly throwing himself upon his child's neck, he sobbed aloud.
She understood him, but said nothing ; she only kissed his cheeks and pressed his hands, keeping down all show of her own grief and alarm.-Woman! in such a situation, you can do this: man cannot : it is above the paltry selfishness of his nature.
lle rallied, and tried to take up his absurd jeering tone, but soon tripped in it a second time.
“ Ay, Kate—by the good old Jove, I'm a poorer man than the day I raffled for your mother: and you must work, sure enough, to try and keep a little bread with us. If there's any thing you think I can turn my hand to, only say the word, and you'll see I'll not be idle, my poor girl."
He entered into the details of his misfortunes and mortifications. Among other things, he mentioned the slight of “ the puppy officer;" and neither his wonder nor his curiosity was excited, when, now for the first time, Catherine burst into tears.
It shows much good sense to take my Lady Law at her word. Fortune is fickle, but law is fickleness : the principle itself. And so seemed to argue the successful young aspirant to the Squire's estate. While yet only expatiating on his past misfortunes, our worthy friend received a note which informed him that, in a quarter of an hour, an authorised agent would arrive to take possession of the house and lands; and father and daughter had not recovered from the shock this gave them, when
the agent was announced and entered the room where they sat. Catherine turned away her face: she could not look at him.
“ Possession of every thing in the house, too?” asked the trembling Squire—“ Every thing, you say?"-" Every thing,” answered the agent ; who was no man's agent, but his own, after all. Catherine started at his voice--" Yes, every thing ; even of the angel that makes this house a heaven.”—He advanced to her side. She turned to him shrieked—laughed—and lay insensible in his arms. It was the Squire's “ puppy officer” in the first place ; Catherine's faithful adorer, in the second place; the plaintiff in the late action, in the third place; and the triumphant hunter for his mistress's hand, in the fourth place. Surely, dear fair readers, he had a claim on her. “ Yes-if he account for his neglect, since she left Dublin.” Very good. That's easily done. He had vainly applied for leave of absence; and his letter advising her of the fact, as also of his intention to take the field for her, dressed in the costume of a picture of his then unknown father, (which, in the Squire's town-house, Catherine had often pronounced very like him,) that letter had miscarried.
“ So your daughter is mine, good sir, on your own terms,” added the four-fold hero.
“ Capital, by Jove!--Capital ! a glorious hoax, by Cork ! capital!" laughed the ex-Squire.
“ I am delighted, you think so; and I assure you, my dear sir, that I dressed myself up like the picture, merely at the time to endeavour to recommend myself to your good opinion, by the oddity of the conceit; for I knew you liked a hoax in your very heart.”
“ Give me your hand, my dear boy !-Like a hoax !-Ah, don't I? —and it is such a prime one! choice! capital! capital, by the beard of the good old Jove !”—and, wringing his own hands, and transported by his feelings, the worthy man left the room, to describe and praise to his very servants, what so much gladdened his soul.
“ You were ignorant of your parentage upon the day of the hunt?” asked Catherine, after they had conversed some time together.
“ I was. l'pon the spot where the huntsman fell, I encountered the woman, returned from half a life of wandering, who exposed me in my infancy : she had been seeking me, in Dublin, to unburden her conscience, and do me a tardy justice. I was on the road for the hunt; thither she followed me rapidly, and outstripped me some days; assuming the garb of the former witch of the cave, to conceal her identity. I need scarce say, that from her I then received the information which enabled me to prosecute my claim. My beloved Catherine's sense of delicacy will readily suggest to her, why I kept out of her view, from that day, until I could prove the truth or falsehood of her story. And now, here I sit, able, thank heaven! to show to the woman of my heart, that she did not quite misplace her generous love, when she gave it to a poor and friendless ensign, and with it the prospect of wealth, and of rank in the world.”
It is recorded that, from this hour, Squire Hogan never wore, except perhaps when asleep, a serious face. Having resigned “ with a hearty good will,” his commission of justice of the peace, there remained nothing on earth to compel him to “ seem wise,” as Bacon says; and he had full leisure to pursue, uninterruptedly, his practical hoaxes ; which he, himself, if nobody else did it for him, called “ capital ! choice, by Cork's own town!"
TAIT'S COMMONPLACE BOOK.
COBBETT IN EDINBURGH. Pasta and Paganini, Miss Fanny Kemble, and Mademoiselle D'Jeck, created not half the sensation which the arrival of Cobbett did among us of the Athens. The advent of these luminaries affected only the “ thrones and dominions,” with their few tributaries and dependencies; but Cobbett's visit was even more powerfully felt in the depths of the Cowgate, and chasms and labyrinths of the closes, than in the club-houses and booksellers' shops. Edinburgh was in universal commotion ; and Whig, Tory, and Radical elbowed and jostled each other at the doors of the theatre, which, for the first time, looked like the grave, where all sorts of people must meet at last. The ill-judged attempts of one or two of the ministerial newspapers to stir up the popular feeling against Mr Cobbett, if it had any effect, awakened a generous feeling in behalf of the stranger, and piqued the national honour into a more scrupulous observance of politeness, and a warmer welcome than might otherwise have been given. He presented himself before an impatient house, filled from floor to ceiling, which rose to greet him in a tumultous rapture. His appearance is highly favourable ; his ease, tact, and self-possession, are unrivalled. He was neither overpowered nor taken by surprise with these demonstrations of the Modern Athenians, but received them all as matter of course, which came a little in the way of proceeding to business. Mr. Cobbett is still of stately stature, and must, in youth, have been tall. He must then in physiognomy, person, and bearing, have been a fine specimen of the true Saxon breed,
The eyes of azure, and the locks of brown,
And free-born thoughts, which league the soldier with the laws.
Of the good olden timea hearty Essex or Hampshire squire, of the fourth magnitude, whose woods are flourishing, and his paternal acres unmortgaged, dressed for a dinner of some ceremony, in a coat of the best Saxon blue broad-cloth, with its full complement of gilt buttons, and an ample white waistcoat, with flowing skirts. His thin, white hairs, and high forehead—the humour lurking in the eye, and playing about the lips, betokened something more than the squire in his gala suit ; still the altogether was of this respectable and responsible kind. His voice is low-toned, clear, and flexible ; and so skilfully modulated, that not an aspiration was lost of his nervous, fluent, unhesitating, and perfectly correct discourse. There was no embarrassment, no flutter, no picking of words ; nor was the speaker once at fault, or in the smallest degree disturbed by those petty accidents and annoyances which must have moved almost any other man so oddly situated. — Put down Cobbett! It will be as impossible for the “ Collective Wisdom” to overbear him, as for that more overwhelming power, the Collective Taste, to put him down. He would, in ten minutes, either laugh or shame the House out of its insolence of ill-breeding, — sometimes its only defence against dulness and twaddle, but as frequently the weapon with which impudent knavery assails honest, plain, and modest men, when such have stumbled into Parliament, and endeavoured to serve the people. The corporation had best keep him out, for assuredly it will never keep him down, once he gets in. To those acquainted with the writings of Cobbett there was little in the matter of his lectures absolutely new : the facts were familiar or thread-bare ; the arguments, such as we have heard from him a hundred times before, in the Register. But then the old family jewels, the Cobbett heir-looms, were all newly and most exquisitely set. He is indeed a first-rate comic actor, possessed of that flexible penetrative power of imitation which extends to