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the former, upon the tip end of his chair, pale, with perturbation and fear breaking forth at every pore.
"I think she takes a precious long time putting on that cottage bonnet and shawl," exclaimed Mytton, as he turned over the concluding page of the New Monthly. "By every thing that's beautiful, half past three !! Hush! I hear breathing-a gentle tap-the lady's maid at two to one -French perhaps-love is the soul of a strapping dragoon-so I shall just take one kiss," and he stole on tip-toe to the door, opened it, and bosh and clash he went headlong into the hall, over the prostrate body of Sandy Macgregor!
"Take that," said Mytton, when he was once more upon his legs, administering a swingeing box on the ear, "take that for eaves-dropping.' "Mon aloive, I have feeling; weel mon, that's my ear, and I will
make you pay for it, too. A pretty kettle of fish you have got into by
keeping the dragoons in the park."
"Where are the dragoons?" inquired Mytton.
"I dinna ken," replied the sheriff.
"Where is Sir Richard-Lady Macginnis ?" "I dinna ken."
"What the devil do you ken?" inquired Jack.
Why this, I have been caged up with a gay ugly body, cocking and uncocking a gay ugly pistol for twa hours. I have lost 800l. and fees, and I varily believe, Sir Richard is gone.'
"G! O!N! E!" exclaimed Mytton, as a light suddenly broke out upon him. "Why the d-l didn't you knock the ugly man down-cried murder-anything?"
"Me knock the ugly beast down? no, captin, you may be a man o' war, I am one of peace. I'm nae si fond of knocking men down." "My master's compliments, and he desired me to give you this note," said a footman.
Mytton tore it open and read :
"Dear Mytton,-Allow me to assure you that it is with feelings of sorrow as far as you are concerned, that I am obliged to leave you in the sudden and unceremonious manner in which I have done, circumstances over which I had no control compelled me. I have gone to the Cave,' the entrance is guarded by a natural barrier of rocks, which I have strengthened by two Tipperary boys as sentinels; recommend Mr. Macgregor not to follow except he wishes to become the supper of the eagles. Accept the apologies of Lady Macginnis and myself, together with the assurance that we shall at all times be delighted to see you at Castle Knock. Believe me, very truly yours,
"30 past 2 P.M.'
Duped!" exclaimed Macgregor," and the stock and corn gone tooduped by an Irishman!"
"Duped!" re-echoed Mytton, in faint tones.
But let us now turn our thoughts to the dragoons, whom we left picqueted in the park. Nearly opposite the lodge lived Terence O'Flarthy, who had an uncommonly handsome daughter, with long black ringlets
and melting brown eyes--so when Sergeant Fieldday had kept post over the picquet for some hour or so, he became weary, and to disperse his ennui, strolled to Mr. O'Flarthy's house to whisper soft nothings into Miss O'Flarthy's ear. Presently, Corporal Canteen espied a snug little shebeen near the other lodge gate, and he thought he might just step over there and taste the quality of the whisky. Thus, link by link was that chain of responsibility broken, so lauded by the greatest captain of our age, the Duke of Wellington. The soldiers followed the example of their superiors, and when Mytton returned he found the horses linked together in charge of a recruit. Tom Shrub, insensibly drunk, Blackwood, a Sheffield rough, swearing he would not go home till morning, while Private O'Rourke swore Jack, Lieutenant Jack bedads, was a trump."
But the retreat to Fethard! Oh, for the talent and pencil of a Leech or a Brown! First rode Mytton on his black charger, heels down, in a hard gallop; then followed Macgregor, toes down, heels up, arms a-kimbo in a good round trot, while his dirty dressed subs would ride the soldiers' troopers, ludicrously contrasting their gay trappings with the men's patched coats, while one finished the picture by appropriating a soldier's helmet, giving him in return his crownless hat. In short, the whole road was strewed with relics of that day's adventure. Napoleon's retreat from Waterloo, or that of the Ten Thousand in ancient history, never equalled it.
But let us drop the green curtain, simply to rise it for the reprint of the London Gazette: "Cornet Waterloo, Quartre Bras Snooks to be lieutenant vice Mytton who retires."
WRITTEN AT VISITING THE TOMB OF
SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH AND HIS DAUGHTER,
IN HAMPSTEAD CHURCH-YARD, ON A FINE EVENING THIS SUMMER.
A YEW-TREE's shade, 'graved letters, and a tomb,
That fragrance wasted on a dead man's shroud,
Howe'er the harlot voice speak low or loud!
Is making night harmonious round thy grave;
The bright stars watch o'er thee, and moonbeams pale
Curtain thy death-rest-quiet ever have
Thus fading in the past, till time proclaim
"Here lies more dust of unremembered name!"
"The world talks much of Jammie," said Dr. Parr to me one day at Hatton; "Jammie acquired his fame by his first book; his conversation is even better than his writing. He is a great man."
OLD MEN AND MUMMIES.
O Life, thou Nothing's younger brother!
Thou weak-built isthmus that dost proudly rise
Yet canst not wave nor wind sustain,
But broken and overwhelmed the ocean meets again.
WE are told that immediately after the Creation, when a single couple had to perform the tedious and troublesome duty of peopling the world, it was absolutely necessary to give time for the performance of so arduous a task, and the ordinary age of man extended accordingly to 900 years and upwards. Immediately after the Flood, when the three sons of Noah had to stock the earth with human beings, their tenure of life was so much reduced, that Shem, the oldest of those patriarchs, was not above 500 or 600 years old, when he was carried off. As men multiplied the longevity of the race decreased so rapidly, that in the second century we find none reached 240 years: in the third, none but Terah, the father of Abraham, attained the age of 200; a portion of the earth being by that time so well peopled, that its inhabitants had built cities and formed themselves into nations. By degrees, as their numbers still further increased, their longevity dwindled, till it came down at length to the comparatively paltry modicum of seventy or eighty years, where it stood and has continued to stand ever since the time of Moses; leading to the inference, that at this happy medium the world is neither overstocked nor under-stocked, but that life and death nearly balance each other.
Perhaps this conclusion has been too hastily adopted, for there are writers who maintain that the population of the earth, now roughly estimated at about 1,000,000,000, very considerably exceeds, though in a proportion that we cannot exactly ascertain, its amount in the earlier ages; and that this increase is constantly proceeding. Should such be the fact, how fortunate is it for us that longevity has not continued to decrease with the augmentation of the race, at the same rapid ratio as in the patriarchal times! From Shem to Terah, being only three centuries or so, the average of life dwindled, as we are told, fully 300 years; and in the same period, which brings us down to the birth of Moses, we learn from the Scriptures that another and still more marked declension occurred, it being then declared that the years of man were threescore and ten. Had this alarming diminution continued, upon any approximate scale, down to the present times, our second cradle, the coffin, would be put in requisition before we had well quitted the first, and man would be nothing more than a human ephemera. In fact, the race must have died out; a plethora of men would have led to the extinction of mankind.
By what mysterious law the population of the world is governed, we know not; yet that it is subject to some unerring regulation is mani
fested in the singular fact that the proportion between the sexes, however it may vary in single years, always accords in a series of years; the small but uniform predominance of males being probably intended to meet the greater casualties to which they are exposed from the greater violence of their passions and their bellicose propensities.
To recur to the patriarchs. Did Methuselah live to be 969 years old, and then expire in the year of the flood, just in time, lucky man! to escape being drowned? Upon the subject of the great ages ascribed to the ante and post-diluvian fathers, the gravest doubts have been entertained; and no wonder, for the Hebrew text, the Samaritan, the Septuagint, and Josephus, all differ widely from each other. A late ingenious writer observes, that a Greek or Roman transcriber at the distance of a few hundred years, "would be likely to mistake the more ancient notation of his own language, particularly after the invention and general introduction of the Arabic notation. The distinctions, too, which varied the value of Hebrew numerical expressions, were so arbitrary, and often so minute, as to be likely to lead to confusion, a dot over a number indicating an increase tenfold, and two dots a hundredfold. The addition of a dot would, therefore, convert 1 into 10 or 100, or its omission reduce 100 to 10 or 1. The more ancient and simple notation consisted in specifying the several items of the amount, and joining them together with the Hebrew vau, synonymous to the Arabic plus+." Hence he assumes that Adam lived nine, and a hundred, and thirty years, or 139 years; and not 930 years as heretofore supposed; the difference arising solely from adding the Hebrew character vau between the nine and the hundred. The Scriptures tell us to "put off the old man which is corrupt," and here we see how easily the same result may be obtained by corrupting the punctuation. 'Tis but to strike off a point or two, and lo! the age of Adam falls beneath that of Parr and Jenkins, effectually demolishing the theory with which we started, that he required a protracted term of existence, in order that he might fulfil his great mission of replenishing the earth with inhabitants. On the other side, what a fearful power would this system place in the hands of your evil genius, who might steal Death's register, and put a point over your name, on which the grim serjeant should no sooner cast his eye, than he might hold himself instantly warranted to dot and carry one! leaving you the miserable solace of upbraiding him by inscribing on your tombstone that you died of a mistake in numerical punctuation.
Among the many mysteries of nature none is so inscrutable, none so little susceptible even of a guess at its solution, as the law which apportioned to different animated beings, at the time of their first creation, the average term of their existence. Apparently, the rule bears no relation whatever to their importance, either physically or morally considered. It might have been surmised that animals being incapable of progressive development, and consequently of any useful application of longevity, would have been restricted to a limited tenure of life. In the construction of their habitations, the bee, the spider, the beaver, and others, exhibit a skill which may fairly be termed architectural; but exactly thus did they build at the beginning of the world, and exactly thus will they continue to the end, for fixedness is the distinctive characteristic of instinct. Reason, on the contrary, being not only a much higher faculty in itself, but capable of an almost infinite expansion and improvement, it might
have been expected that the possessor of this superior endowment would have been allowed a proportionately longer term for its general perfectionment. So far is this from being the case that many of the meanest creatures have a more enduring vitality than the noblest. Why should a donkey or a mule, for instance, be longer lived than a horse, a parrot than a lion; why should a lord of the creation be less favoured as to his life-hold, than many a bird or reptile? Why should a raven or a tortoise have a longer time to croak and crawl in the dirt, than a philosopher to improve the world, and exalt his species by the discovery and diffusion of new truths; and above all, why should a toad in a block of marble live two or three times as long as Methuselah, even if we give the latter the full benefit of his millenium? From the inspection of a whale's skeleton recently exhibited in London, some of our most learned anatomists expressed an opinion that at the time of its death this ocean patriarch must have been at least 1000 years old. That a ten or twenty-fold superior longevity should be bestowed upon a fish and a reptile, is at once a humiliating rebuke to our pride, and an inscrutable mystery to our apprehension.
Surrounded with crawling, and swimming, and flying creatures, that may well look down upon us as the comparative insects of an hour, no wonder that the poor lord of creation, occupying such an almost imperceptible point between the two infinitudes, of the past and the future, should endeavour to obtain some compensation for his living evanescence by posthumous preservation. No wonder that he should endeavour by existing as a mummy ten times longer than he did as a man, to attain a dead endurance which might rival the vitality of a toad or tortoise. Oh, ye departed magnificoes of ancient Memphis, and Thebes, and the many stately cities, "from the tower of Syene to the border of Cush!" natural and warrantable was your ambition to defy and conquer dissolution, though ye might succumb to death; and he who contemplates your solid and beautiful sarcophagi in the Egyptian saloon of the British Museum, will honour ye for the prodigality of labour and expense bestowed on the accomplishment of this corporeal immortality. And yet when I lately stood beside the handsome tomb of "Petenesi, a Bard," inscribed with hieroglyphics which I doubt not were extracts from his own poems, probably as well rounded and as highly polished as the arched top of his marble coffin, I could not help ejaculating "O most illustrious unknown! hadst thou been as careful to embalm thy mind in a book as thy body in cerements, thou mightest have come down to an admiring posterity as a Memphian Homer, instead of transmitting to us an empty coffin and an emptier name. Alas! what avails it to preserve the shrine when the divinity hath perished ?"
Still more elaborate and magnificent were the larger sarcophagi that arrested my wondering admiration, some of which, perchance, had contained the remains of the primeval Thoth, or Phtha, or Rameses, or Ozymandias, or Shishak, or the later Pharaohs, all of whom, I presume, possessed the faculty of posthumous mesmeric clairvoyance, since the interior of their sepulchres was not less profusely inscribed with hieroglyphic writings than the outside! What a truly luxurious death, thus to recline, stuffed with spices and perfumes, swathed with innumerable folds of fine linen, in a gilded sycamore box within a richly sculptured monu.