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From Chambers's Journal. A LAST LAUGH WITH THOMAS HOOD. In spite of a well-known Baying concerning heroes and their body-servants, the more we know of a really great man, the greater he generally seems. When the greatness is combined with lovableness, this is almost always the case; nor do we remember to have risen from the perusal of the life of a single favorite author, without an increased attachment to his memory. It would have been a sad thing to many of us if these last . memorials of Thomas Hood * had shown that good and genial writer to have been a churlish or close-fisted man—had exhibited a frown or sneer behind that laughing mask of his j but we took up the volumes without the least apprehension of that nature, and we lay them down with a greater attachment to him who forms their subject than before. "What a capacity for love and friendship had that fine fellow's soul! How naturally he flew to the rescue of the weak or the illtreated! What noble indignation he felt for the tyrant and the bigot! How the hearts of all good men were attracted towards his, no matter how different from his own were their dispositions and callings! How grateful his modest spirit was for a little kindness! How bitterly, too, alas, he felt unkindness, and how the daws did peck at that heart of his worn always upon his sleeve! He loved his fellow-creatures, but despite that universal sympathy, he did not (as sometimes happens) love his wife and children less. All children were, indeed, inexpressibly dearto his tendernature. When prostrated by sickness, and in far from good pecuniary circumstances, he would still find time and spirits to address a laughter-moving letter to one of his favorite little folks; and this when his writing had got to be of considerable value—a period at which the most prolific authors are apt to be chary of their correspondence. Of three letters thus indited to the children of his stanch friend, Dr. Elliot, then residing at Sandgate, we hardly know which to select for its charming humor, lurking pathos,—for the writer was at the time sick, almost unto death,— and the writer's adaptability to the capacities he was addressing.
"Mr Dear Jeanie—So you are at Sandgate! Of course, wishing for your old playfellow, M H (he can play—it's work to
me), to help you to make little puddles in the Sand, and swing on the Gate. But perhaps there arc no sand and gate at Sandgate, which, in that case, nominally tells us a fib. But tbore must bo liule crabs somewhere, which you can
* Mtnorialt of Iliomai Hood. Edited by his Dmiplii.., with a Preface and Motes by his'Son. Moxon.
catch, if you are nimble enough—Bo like spiders, I wonder they do not make webs. The large crabs nre scarcer.
"If you do catch a big one with strong clawi —and like experiments—you can shut him up in a cupboard with a loaf of sugar, and you can see whether he will break it np with his nippers. Besides Vrabs, I used to find jelly-fish on the beach, made, it seemed to me, of sea-calves' feet, and no sherry. The mermaids eat them, I suppose, at their wet water-parties, or salt soirees. There were star-fish also, but they did not shine till they were stinking, and so made very uncelestinl constellations.
"I suppose you never gather any sea-flowers, but only sea-weeds. The truth is Mr. David Jones never rises from his bed, and so has a garden full of weeds, like Dr. Watts' Sluggard. I have heard that you bathe in the sea, which ia very refreshing, but it requires care; for if you stay under water too long, you may come np a mermaid, who is only half a lady, with a fish's tail—which she can boil jf she likes. You had better try this with your doll, whether it turns her into half a ' doll-fin.'
"I hope you like the sea. I always did when I was a child, which was about two years ago. Sometimes it makes sucli a fizzing and foaming, I wonder some of our London cheats do not bottle it up, and sell it for ginger-pop. When the sea is too rough, if you pour the sweet oil out of the cruet all over it, and wait for a calm, it will be quite smooth—much smoother than a dressed salad.
"Some time ago exactly, there used to be, about the part of the coast where you are, largo white birds with black-tipped wings, that went flying nnil screaming over the sea, and now and then plunged down into the water after u fish. Perhaps'they catch their sprats now with nets, or hooks and lines. Do you ever see such birds? We used to call them ' gulls,' but they didn't mind it! Do you ever see any boats or vessels? And don't you wish, when you sec a ship, that somebody was a sea-captain instead of a doctor, that he might bring you home a pet lion, or calf-elephant, ever so many parrots, or a monkey, from foreign pans? I knew a little girl who was promised a baby-whale by her sailorbrother, and who lilubbend because he did not bring it. I suppose there are no whales at Snndgate, but you might find a seal about the beach; or, at least a stone for one. The seastoncs arc not pretty when they arc dry, but look beautiful when they are wet—and wo can alwni/s keep sucking them!
"When I can buy a telescope powerful enough, I shall have a peep at you. I am told with a good glass, you can see the sea at such a distance that the sea cannot see you! Now I must say good-by, for my paper gets short, but not stouter. Pray, give my love to your
ma, and my compliments to Mrs. H , and
no mistake, and remember me, my dear Jeanic, as your affectionate friend, Thos. Hood.
"The other Tom Hood Bends his love to everybody and every thing.
""P.S.—Don't forget my pebble: and a good naughty las* would be esteemed a curiosity
To Jeanie's brother, he writes: "I used to catch flat fiah with a Mtv long string-line. It was like swimming a kite! But perhaps there are no flat fish at Sandgate—except your shoe-soles. The best plan, if you want flat fish where there are none, is '^, bring codlings, and hammer them into dabs. Once I caught a plaice, and seeing it all over red spots, thought I had caught the measles." He hopes the lad will be better soon, " for somebody told me you had the shingles ;" and with regard to swimming, the poor sick man observes: "/ only swim in fancy, and strike out new ideas." To Mary Elliot, a •till more youthful correspondent, he says: "I remember that, when I saw the sea, it used sometimes to be very fussv and fidgety-, and did not always wash itself quite clean; but it was very fond of fun. Have the waves ever run after you yet, and turned your little two shoes into pumps, full of water?
"If you want a joke, you might push Dannie into the sea, and then fish for him, as they do for a Jack. But don't go in yourself, and don't let the baby go in and swim away, although he is the shrimp of t u<- family. Did you ever taste the sea water? The fishes arc Bo fond of it they keep drinking it all the day long: Dip your little finger in, and then suck it to see how it tastes. A glass of it warm, with sugar, and a grate of nutmeg would quite astonish you. The water of the sea is so saline, I wonder nobody catches salt fish in it. I should think a good way would be to go out in a butter-boat, with a little melted for sauce. Have you been bathed yet in the sea, and were you afraid? I was the first time, and the time before that; and dear me, how I kicked and screamed—or, at least, meant to scream, but the sea, ships and all, began to run into my mouth, and so I shut it up. I think I see you being dipped into the sea, screwing your eyes up, and putting your nose, like a button, into your mouth, like a button-hole, for fear of getting another smell and taste! By the by, did you ever dive your head under water with your legs up in the air like a duck, and try whether you could cry 'Quack'? Some animals can! I would try, but there is no sea here, and so I am forced to dip into books. If you would catch a crab for me, and teach it to dance the polka, it would make me quite happy j for I have not had any toys or playthings for a long time. Did you ever try, like a little crab, to run two ways at once? See if you can do_it, for it is good fun; never mind tumbling over yourself a little at first. It would be a good plan to hire a little cjab, for an hour a day, to teach baby to crawl, if he can't walk, and, if I was his mamma, I would too! Bless
him! But I must not write on him any more—he is so soft, and I have nothing but steel pens.
"And now, good-by; Fanny has made my tea, and I must drink it before it gtts too hot, as we all were last Sunday week. They say the glass was eighty-eight in the shade, which is a great age! The last fair breeze I blew dozens of kisses for you, but the wind changed, and, I am afraid, took
them all to Miss H , or somebody that
These two volumes are principally filled with letters, for Hood's life, like that of most literary men, was devoid of any striking incidents; like that of many of his brethren, too, it was beset with pecuniary cares, which hampered him for the last ten years of his life, and undoubtedly hastened his end. He married at twenty-five (in 1824), contrary to the wishes of his wife's family, but the young^ couple never found cause to repent of their union : they loved one another fondly to the last, and death, at the end, did but separate the husband and wife by a few months. Their first child scarcely survived its birth. "In looking over some old papers," says the editor, " I found a few tiny curls of golden hair, as soft as the finest silk, wrapped in a yellow and time-worn paper, inscribed in my father's handwriting :—
"' Little eyes that scarce did see,
In 1835, in consequence of the failure of a firm, Mr. Hood and family were obliged to take up their residence at Coblenz, where their ignorance of the language sometimes places them in the most ludicrous situations, heightened doubtless in the telling by the exaggerative author of Up the llhine.
"Our servant knows a few words of English too; her name is Qradle, the short for Margaret. Jane wanted a fowl to boil for me. Now, she has a theory that the more she makes her English un-English, the more it must be like German. Jane begins by showing Gradle a word in the dictionary.
"Gradle. Ja! yees—hiihn—henne—ja! yees.
",'"'iii (a little through her nose). Hmn —hum—hem—yes—yaw, ken you geet a fowl—fool—foal, to boil—bile—bole for dinner P
"Gradlc. Hot wasser?
"Jane. Yaw in pit—pat—pot—hmn—hum —eh!
"Gradle (a little off the scent again). Ja, nein—wasser, pot—hot—nein.
"Jane. Yes—no—good to eeat—chicken —cheeken—checking—choking—bird—bard —beard—lays eggs—eeggs—hune, heine— hiu—make chcekin broth—soup—poultry— peltry—paltry!
"Gradle (quite at fault). Pfeltrighchtch! —nein.
"Jane (in despair). What shall I do? and Hood wont help me; he only laughs. This comes of leaving England! (She casts her eyes across the street at the governor's poultry-yard, and a bright thought strikes her.) Here, Gradle—come here—comb hair —hmn—hum—look there—dare—you see things walking—hmn, hum, wacking about —things with leathers—fathers—feethers.
"Gradle (hitting it off again). Feethers —faders—ah hah! feddars—ja, ja, yees, sie bringen—feddars, ja, ja!
"Jane echoes Feddars—yes—yaw, yaw!
"Exit Gradle, and after three-quarters of an hour, returns triumphantly with two bundles of stationer's quills!!!"
Poor Mrs. Hood tries her hand on cooker)1, and really with great success, although her husband pretends not to believe in it; his fun is, indeed, for family wear, and not merely of that artificial sort which only sets other people's dinner-tables in a roar. There must have been more laughter in that little humble lodging at Coblentz, and among that exiled household, than in half the splendid tourist-parties who "did" the Bhine in those summers with travelling-carriage and courier.
"Yesterday morning," writes his wife, "I set to work very seriously to make spine potted beef, and succeeded, little thinking 1 what ungrateful jests I should draw upon' my poor head from Hood.
"Being proud of my own fabrication, I produced it at tea, when De Franck came, and then commenced the jokes of the goodfor-nothing. He asked with apparent interest how it was made, and I said: 'I pounded it with a pestle and mortar.' 'But, then, dear, we have got not one, you know.'
"In short, he insisted that, like the Otaheitan cooks, I had chewed it small j and as I happened, having the face-ache, to put my hand to my jaw at the time, it seemed a corroboration, of which he made full use. •Upon this hint, he huddled joke upon joke, till we were convulsed with laughter, and today Franck declares he laughed in the middle of the night. Hood called it' bullock jam,' and when I asked him what he would eat, he replied, 'What you chews.' ... I must now tell you my story about the Christmas pudding. The lieutenant was with us on Christmas-day, and enjoyed my plumpudding so much, that I promised to make one, for him. Hood threatened to play some trick with it—either to pop in bullets or tenpenny nails; and I watched over my work
THIRD SERIES. UV1KO AGE. 653
with great vigilance, so that it was put into boil without any misfortunes.
"I went to bed early, telling Cradle to put it, when done, into the drawing-room till the morning. Hood was writing, and says it was put down smoking under his very nose, and the spirit of mischief was irresistible. I had bought a groschen's worth of new white wooden skewers that very morning. He cut them a little shorter than the pudding's diameter, and poked them in across and across in all directions, so neatly, that I never perceived any sign of them when I packed and sealed it up the next day for De Franck's man to carry over to Enrenbreitstein. He came to thank me, and praised it highly. I find that while I was out of the room, Hood asked him if it was not well trussed, and he answered ' Yes' so gravely, that Hood thought he meditated some joke in retaliation, and was on his guard. At the ball, the truth came out—ho actually thought it was some new method of making plum-puddings, and gave me credit for the woodwork. He had invited two of his brother officers to lunch upon it, and Hood wanted* to persuade me that the 'Cardinal' officer had swallowed one of the skewers! Now, was not this an abominable trick?"
The spirit of fun had such a mastery over Hood, that he could not describe any common event to a business correspondent without, accompanying it with a Jeu de joie of pleasantries, such as it would take a whole battalion of ordinary jokers to produce. "Did I give you the history of a steamer built at Bruges? They quite forget how she was to get down the canal, and they will have to take down the brickwork of the locks at a great expense—some 1,500 francs instead of 25; all along of her width of paddle-boxes. Well, the other day, 10,000 people assembled to see her launched j troops, band, municipals, everybody in their best; and above all, Mr. T——, the owner, in blue jacket, white trousers, and straw hat. So he knocked away the props, and then ran as for his life, for she ought to have followed j but, instead of that she stuck to the stocks, as if she had the hydrophobia. Then they got two hundred men to run from side to side, and fired cannons from her stern, and hauled by hawsers; but' there she sot,' and the people ' sot' till nine at night, and then gave it up. She has since been launched
* •' And nearly succeeded in doing so, innocently assisted by tho officer in question, with whom the pudding Irnd not altogether agreed. As ho did not know l-.iiglii.li, and my mother Whs not yet up in Gennnn, a pantomime ensued on his part expressive of indigestion, but construed, by my father, as descriptive of the agonittof uii iuteiiial skewer." —T. U.
somehow, but in a quiet way quite. She j wiser lesson in the language than is exbibboked at first very like an investment in the | ited in that younglady's narrative, i i
slocks, and I should fear her propensity may lead her next to stick on a bank. The only comfort I could give was, that she promised to be very fast. To heighten the fun, the wine was chucked at her by a young lady who thought she was going; I know not what wine, but it ought to have been still champagne."
These laughable epistles are often interspersed with sad intimations of pecuniary embarrassments, and the dread particulars of the progress of that disease, which fixed its cruel claws in him so early, and never left him till the day of his death. Towards the last, tho "best things " were written in almost agonies, and nearly all his own portion of the Comic Annual—including the wonderful wood-cuts—emanated from a sickbed, lie could not write for his magazine— which was so largely and graciously eked out by his brethren of the pen, during that time of trouble, as to make us in love with literature—for the number but one before his death, but he furnished two pictorial embellishments—" Hood's Mag," a magpie with a hawk's hood on; and the "Editor's Apologies," a collection of bottles, leeches, and blisters—the fruits of his Bick-room fancy. His own family was the only one which w&s not delighted with that Annual, well thumbed in every house, which, writes his son, we ourselves '"'did not enjoy till the lapse of many years had mercifully softened down some of the sad recollections connected with it. The only article that I can remember we ever really thoroughly enjoyed was "Mrs. Gardiner, a Horticultural ltomance," .and even this was composed in bed. But the illness he was then suffering from was only rheumatic fever, and not one of his dangerous attacks, and he was unusually . cheerful."
Nevertheless, it is not to be supposed but that Hood's fun was perfectly genuine; the nature of the man was too elastic and genial for any circumstances, however untoward, to depress. It is recorded of him, though not in these volumes, that upon a mustaidplaster being applied to his attenuated feet, as ho lay in extremity, he was heard feebly to remark, that there was "very little meat for the mustard."
After all, the works of Thomas Hood that will live the longest are not his humorous pieces. The serious side of his character is even more worthy of attentive admiration; and TU Song of the Shirt and The Bridge of Sighs will survive Mist Kilmansegge, although there is no wittier, and scarcely a
couple of verses, To Mineita,J'rcmthe Greek, are excellent, and well worthy of a place in the Fragments at the end of these interesting volumes:—
"My temples throb, my pulses boil,
I'm sick of Song, and Ode, and Ballad—
"My brain is dull, my sight i9 foul,
But these are by no means equal to a pathetic poem, entitled TAe Pauper's Christmas Carol, which appeared in the same number of Punch as The Song of the Shirt, and would have been deservedly famous, but for the overshadowing of its still greater companion. As a better example, however, of his peculiar faculty of insinuating sympathy under the guise of affected hardness, we will conclude with the Lines in Answer to a Poem entitled " Spring," signed "Pauper," in the Athewjeum, which will be new to all our readers:—
"Don't tell we of bads and blossoms,
Or with roso and vi'let wheedle;
Churchwarden and Beadle.
What with sunny skies, or garish
Nature's not your Parish!
"What right have such as you to dun
Por sun or moon!>eiims, warm or bright?
Pay for window-light!
While your betters' flumes miscarry—
Don't we make you marry?
"Talk of wintry chill and storm—
pragrant winds, that blanch your bone*! You poor can always keep you warm—
Ant there breaking stones?
Koses fair and vi'lets meek,
On eightecn-pence a week!
"With seasons what have yon to do?
If corn doth thrive, or wheat is harmed?
Don't farm—but you aio farmed 1
With hardship for the text?
From Fnuer's Magazine.
CONCERNING HUBBY AND LEISURE.
Oh, what a blessing it is to have time to breathe, and think, and look around one! I mean, of course, that all this is a blessing to the man who has been overdriven: who has been living for many days in a breathless hurry, pushing and driving on, trying to get through his work, yet never seeing the end of it, not knowing to what task he ought to turn first, so many are pressing upon him altogether. Some folk, 1 am informed, like to live in a fever of excitement, and in a ceaseless crowd of occupations: but such folk form the minority of the race. Most human beings will agree in the assertion that it is a horrible feeling to be in a hurry. It i •wastes the tissues of the body; it fevers the fine mechanism of.the brain; it renders it impossible for one to enjoy the scenes of nature. Trees, fields, sunsets, rivers, breezes, and the like, must all be enjoyed at leisure, if enjoyed at alL There is not the slightest use in a man's paying a hurried visit to the country. He may as well go there blindfold, as go in a hurry. He will never see the country. He will have a perception, no doubt, of hedgerows and grass, of green lanes and silent cottages, perhaps of great hills and rocks, of various items which go towards making the country; but the country itself he will never see. That feverish atmosphere which he carries with him will distort and transform even individual objects; but it will utterly exclude the view of the whole. A circling London fog could not do so more completely. For quiet is the great characteristic and the great charm of country scenes; and you cnnnot see or feel quiet when you are not quiet yourself. A man flying through this peaceful valley in an express-train at the rate of fifty miles an hour, might just as reasonably fancy that to us, its inhabitants, the trees and hedges seem always dancing, rushing, and circling about, as they seem to him in looking from the window of the flying carriage, as imagine thut, when he comes for a day or two's visit, he sees these landscapes as they are in themselves, and as they look to their ordinary inhabitants. The quick pulse of London keeps with him: he cannot, for a long time, feel sensibly an influence so little startling, as faintly flavored, as that of our simple country lii'e. We have all beheld some country scenes, pleasing but not very striking, while driving hastily to catch a train for •which we feared we should be too late j and afterwards, when we came to know them •well, how differently they looked!
I have been in a hurry. I have been tremendously busy. I hare got through an amazing amount of •work in the lact few
weeks, as I ascertain by looking over the recent pages of my diary. You can never be sure whether you have been working hard or not, except by consulting your diary. Sometimes you have an oppressed and wornout feeling of having been overdriven, of having done a vast deal during many days past; when lo! you turn to the uncompromising record, you test the accuracy of your feeling by that unerring and unimpeachable standard; and you find that, after all, you have accomplished very little. The discovery is mortifying, -but it does you good; and besides other results, it enables you to see how very idle and useless people, who keep no diary, may easily bring themselves to believe that they are among the hardestwrought of mortals. They know they feel weary; they know they have been in a bustle and worry; they think they have been in it much longer than is the fact. For it is curious how readily we believe that any strongly felt state of mind or outward condition— strongly felt at the present moment—has been lasting for a very long tim e. Yon have been in very low spirits: you fancy now that you have been so for a great portion of your life, or at any rate for weeks past: you turn to your diary,—why, eight and forty hours ago you were as merry as a cricket during the pleasant drive with Smith, or the cheerful evening thatyou spent with Snarling. I can well imagine that when some heavy misfortune befalls a man, he soon begins to feel as if it had befallen him a long, long time ago: he can hardly remember days which were not darkened by it: it seems to have been the condition of his being almost since his birth. And so, if you have been toiling very hard for three days—your pen in your hand almost from morning to night perhaps—rely upon it that at the end of those days, save for the uncompromising diary that keeps you right, you would have in your mind a general impression that you had been laboring desperately for a very long period — for many days, for several weeks, for a month or two. After heavy rain has fallen for four or five days, all persons who do not keep diaries invariably think that it has rained for a fortnight. If keen frost lasts in winter for a fortnight, all persons without diaries have a vague belief that there has been frost for a month or six weeks. You resolve to read Alison's valuable History of the French Revolution (I take for granted you are a young person): you go at it every evening for a week. At the end of that period you have a vague, uneasy impression, that you have been soaked in a sea of platitudes, or weighed down by an incubus of words, for i.liout. a hundred years. There is indeed one signal exception to the