« ZurückWeiter »
his attachment to Cooke, which seemed to increase as the veteran became more infirm. This faithful servant called with a note from the tragedian, and Spiffard, after reading it, and assenting to its request, felt impelled to approach the mysterious subject.
“Well, Trusty, all goes on famously at the theatre, I suppose ?"
“ I don't think, I guess, that it goes on so well without Mr. Cooke and you. However, I never go now."
* And how is it at the Manager's ?"
« Much the same. The flies will come round the honeypot.”
Open house still ???
Open house and open hand. But as I stick close to the old gentleman, I haven't been called upon to help George as I used to be invited when the company was large, as it was almost every day, judges and generals, lawyers and doctors, and always Mr. Allen, the most mischievousest of all, and the old colonel, and Mr. Hilson-a good-natured laughing soul. But, as I said before, I stay at home, for Mr. Cooke wants me more and more."
Davenport, do you remember what you said to me some time ago respecting quizzing-hoaxing-or something of that sort?" “ Not exactly."
But you remember you said you overheard something that you thought might apply to me ?"
" It's not extremely improbable but I might remember saying something of that nature, but I disremember the words."
“ You had a suspicion which I then thought ungrounded, that I had been deceived-made a
· Fool of.'' “Yes, in plain language, made a fool of-and if so-a miserable fool indeed."
“ Why, plain language is best, when one knows the body one is speaking to ; and I verily believe there is not a man on arth that has less twistification in thought, word, or deed than you, Mr. Spiffard. I did think there had been a pretty considerable quantity of round-about-the-hedge and behind-the-bush-play in that there affair."
“ What affair ?" 6. That's not like yourself, because you know what I mean. Now I verily believe--but I can't assert it-because I can't
proye it-that all the challenges, and letters, and messages about the duel-were all moonshine."
It is in vain to endeavour to portray the agitation of our hero's mind on hearing the confirmation of his misgivings. He wished to be certain—he doubted-he believed-he feared to know the truth-he was bewildered—the thought occurred, “ how shall I act towards these men who have abused my unsuspecting faith ?—Is it not better to remain in doubt?" These vacillating thoughts kept him silent.
Davenport resumed. “I did think, Mr. Spiffard, that it was a shame to make you unhappy by a will-of-the-wisp conjured up for these young gentlemen's sport; and I ventured to hint-like my conclusions from circumstances; but I was sorry for it afterwards, and I would not have said a word about it now if you had not a’ asked me.” “ My good Trusty, tell me all you know !!!
Why, the mischief of the case is, I know nothing certain. You must have known many times, Mr. Spiffard, when you have heard and seen just enough to make you draw conclusions, and yet the words you heard, if set to stand alone, would fall down, like an empty bag set on end, and mean no
“ It is true. But did you ever think that the whole affairdo you know what it was ?”
« Lord bless you! I heard them talk of challenges, pistols, Hobuck, Love-lane, and all that, that I knew there was a duel, rale or sham, as well as if they had took me into the plot."
- Plot ?"
“ I thought, and think so still, and can't help it. I heard one of them
say, 6 could any one have believed that he could be persuaded that the blackguard he had silenced so easily, was a gentleman and a man of honour ?" that I heard plain as preaching. And then what I told you before, about saying * that such an one would not do,' and what I saw-and what I heard since-a word here, and a word there, makes me surer, by connexions, and concoctions, that they were all the time bamboozling you with a man of green choose--what did they call him ?"
6. That's the name. I've heard them name it again and again, and laugh, and ask, when is Captain Smith to come again ?' and the manager would say, "No, no, we've had enough of it-and all put together, is as sure to me as con
fessions to Father Luke. And so you see, sir, I know nothing that I can testify."
Davenport, I hope you have said nothing of this to any one else.” “ Certain, I have not. I hate a mischief maker.
It was that Ailen was the soul of it. I never said a lisp to any body; and I was sorry afterwards that I said any thing to you."
" Then, Trusty, keep your suspicions to yourself, as you value my friendship.” “ You
may depend upon me. I love fun; but I hate to see that made game of, which, as I take it, is the very best of a man; I mean that disposition to think other folks are as truespoken as oneself; and that's you, Mr. Spiffard.”
“ I thank you, Davenport."
" It is hard if a man cannot confide in the words of his fellow man. In the words of gentlemen.”.
" I never pretended to be a gentleman, and I never saw the fun of telling a lie, although I am a traveller. I have told you all I know, Mr. Spiffard, and what I have told you may believe."
“I do.” Spiffard shook the hard hand of the yankee traveller, and if he had been any other than an American in the station of a servant, he would have followed up the impulse he felt to put money in the hand, but he knew his own countrymen too well.
Trustworthy departed, and our hero threw himself on a chair, and thought over all the late circumstances of an affair that had so agitated him at the time, and still perplexed him. His conviction that he had been made a dupe of, for the sport of others, and that his anxiety had soured his better feelings, and tended to produce the fatal event which hung heavy on his mind-his wavering in thought as to the conduct he ought to pursue towards these young men—the shame of avowing his credulity—his aversion to acknowledge that he had been moved as a puppet by a man so inferior to himself as Mr. Allen,--all these mingling and contending thoughts long unfitted him for business and society. He however became calm by degrees, and came to the wise resolution of suiting his companions to his habits ; and so to behave towards his former associates, that they should have no clue to his suspicion, or his conviction of their frivolous conduct. With his friend, the manager, he made no change, except to withdraw himself from his hospitable board ; recent circumstances were sufficient as his excuse.
The death of G. F. Cooke.
"Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues
"Who by repentance is not satisfied
"So happy be the issue * * *
The murders (including suicides and deaths by duelling) that are the fruits of intemperance, constitute_far the greater portion of those which stain the records of the judicial, or pri vate history of society.
The brutal quarrels which end in the immediate death of one or both of the parties; the polite differences that are terminated in blood by the sword or pistol; the female victims who are sacrificed by drunken husbands, and who sink under violence more barbarous than the most ferocious soldier perpetrates, when in the career of glorious victory he sacks a cityor the wives who sink sorrowfully by the slow torture of disappointed hope ; the deadly blow inflicted by jealousy stimulated to madness after the enticing® draught; the self-murder committed under the immediate influence of alcohol ; or the deliberate, suicidal, dastardly crime, which is weeks, and months, and years in the accomplishing : all belong to the same family, and fill the greater part of the history of guilt.
It is our task to record a few instances of the misery occasioned by this deplorable vice. They are not creations of the fancy, but the sad picture of reality, softened in feature and colouring, rather than exaggerated, or even exhibited in a strong light. The story of the eminent tragedian who has occupied so many of our pages, is an example of the latter class of suicides. May his tale (the tale of thousands,) be a salutary warning to those who read it! and may this simple catalogue of murders, all springing from the same source, make the
young turn from the temptation which besets them; and the old, who may have erred during the customs of " thirty years ago," abjure that which is destroying themselves, and is a snare to those who follow them!
Far be it from me to assert, or insinuate, that the detestable vice which is the parent of so many crimes, is (or has been) more prevalent in this country than in others. Lamentable as are the instances I have recorded, they are but a few of the many I have witnessed. Yet we know that in Europe the same destruction is going on triumphantly. Witness the gin palaces, and the theatres of London. I will quote from an American author of the highest character, who is known not to spare the faults of his countrymen. “ On the whole,” says James Fenimore Cooper in his Switzerland," I repeat for the eleventh time, that I have come to the conclusion there is less of this degrading practice at home, among the native population, than in any other country I have yet visited. Certainly much less than there is either in England or France.”
But let us not cease our endeavours to eradicate a practice that is so deadly to every faculty of body and mind!
The note from Cooke, mentioned in the last chapter, requested the immediate presence of his young friend; who accordingly repaired, after composing his thoughts, to the lodgings of the tragedian. He first told Miss Portland, who still for a short time remained with her aunt, where he was going
On his arrival he found that the physicians were in consultation in an adjoining chamber. Davenport was in attendance on Cooke. Spiffard was struck by the evident change in the old gentleman's appearance, although he had recently seen him.
“ I am glad to see you, my young friend. I have a request to make. You must introduce that angel to me who saved me, for a little while; whether for better or not, is soinething doubtful; but, at all events, I would thank her-I would see her sweet face instead of those of Davenport and the Doctor's. They are holding a consultation in the next room, as to the time of execution, I presume, for condemnation is past. There