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• At work! but what for? what for, l'ig?'
* And, do you hear, as quickly as possible,' added Pig, driving them out of the room.
But what for?' they both repeated, re-entering at another door. Without vouchsafing any answer, however, the commissioner went on :-' and let the tailor, the shoemaker, the milliner, the
* The fiddlestick end, Mr. Pig. I insist upon knowing what all this is about.
“No matter what, my darling. Sic volo, sic jubeo : stat pro ratione voluntas.'
- Hark you, Mr. Commissioner. Matters are at length come to a crisis. You have the audacity to pretend to keep a secret from your lawful wife. Hear then my fixed determination. At this moment there is a haunch of venison roasting for dinner. The cook is so ignorant that, without my directions, the haunch will be scorched to a cinder. Now I swear that, unless you instantly reveal to me this secret without any reservation whatever, I will resign the renison to its fate. I will, by, all that is sacred !!
The venison could not be exposed to a more fery trial than was Mr. Commissioner Pig; the venison, when alive and hunted, could not have perspired more profusely, nor trembled in more anguish. But there was no alternative. His morais ' gave way before his passious; and after binding his wife and daughter by the general oath of secrecy, he communicated the state mystery. By the same or similar methods so many other wives assailed the virtue of their husbands, that in a few hours the limited scheme of secrecy adopted by the council was realized on the most extensive seale : for before nightfall, not merely a few members of the council, but every man, woman, and child, in the place, had been selemnly bound over to inviolable secrecy.
Meantime some members :of the council, who had an unhappy Jeaning to infidelity, began to suggest doubts on the authenticity of the commissioner's news. Of old time he had been celebrated for 1he prodigious quantity of secret intelligence which his letters communicated, but not equally for its quality. Too often it stood in unhappy contradiction to the official news of the public journals. But then, on such occasions, the commissioner would exclaim, • What then! Who would believe what newspapers say? No man of sense believes a word the newspapers say.' Agreeably to which hypothesis, upor various cases of obstinate discord between his letters and the gazettes of Europe, some of which went the length of point-blank contradictiou, unceremoniously giving the lie to cach other, he persisted in siding with the former : peremptorily refusing to be talked into a belief of -certain events which the rest of Europe have long ago persuaded themselves to think matter of history. The battle of Leipsic, for instance, he treats to this hour as a mere idle chimera of politicians.
Pure bypochondriacal fiction !' said he. No such affair could ever have occurred, as you inay convince yourself by looking at my
private letters : they make no allusion to any transaction of that sort, as you will see at onee: none whatever.' Such being the character of the commissioner's private correspondence, several councilmen were disposed, on reflection, to treat his recent communication as very questionable and apocryphal ; amongst whom was the chairman or chief burgomaster; and the next day he walked over to Pig-house for the purpose of expressing his doubts. The commissioner was so much offended, that the other found it advisable to apologize with some energy I protest to you,' said he, that as a private individual I am fully satisfied : it is only in my public capacity that I took the liberty of doubting. The truth is, our town-chest is miserably poor; and we would not wish to go to the expense of a new covering for the counciltable upon a false alarm. Upon my honor, it was solely upon patriotic grounds that I sided with the sceptics. The commissioner scarcely gave himself the trouble of accepting his apologies. And indeed at this moment the burgomaster had reason himself to feel ashamed of his absurd scruples : for in rushed a breathless messenger to announce, that the blue landau and the gentleman with the superb whiskers had just passed through the north-gate. Yes : Fitz-Hum and Von Hoax were positively here : not coming, but come; and the profanest sceptic could no longer presume to doubt. For whilst the messenger yet spoke, the wheels of Fitz-Hum's landau began to hum along the street. The chief burgomaster fled in affright; and with him fled the shades of infidelity.
This was a triumph, a providential coup-de théâtre, on the side of the true believers; the orthodoxy of the Piggian Commercium Epistolicum was now for ever established. Nevertheless, even in this great moment of his existence, Pig felt that he was not happy-not perfectly happy; something was still left to desire; something which reminded him that he was mortal. 'Oh! why,' said he,' why, when such a cornucopia of blessings is showered upon me, why would destiny will that it must coine one day too soon; before the Brussels carpet was laid down in the breakfast-room-before the
At this instant the carriage, suddenly rolled up to the door; a dead stop followed, which put a dead stop to Pig's soliloquy; the steps were audibly let down and the commissioner was obliged to rush out precipitately, in order to do the honors of reception to his illustrious guest.
* No ceremony, I beg,' said the Count Fitz-Hum : 'for one day at least let no idle forms remind me of courts, or banish the happy thought that I am in the bosom of friends!' So saying, he stretched out his hand to the commissioper ; and though he did not shake Pig's hand, yet (as great men do) he pressed it with the air of one who has feel. ings too fervent and profound for utterance; whilst Pig, on his past, sank upon one knee, and imprinted a grateful kiss upon that princely hand which had by its condescension for ever glorified his own.
Von Hoax was no less gracious than the Count Fitz-Hum; and was pleased repeatedly, both by words and gestures, to signify that he dispensed with all ceremony and idle consideration of rank.
The commissioner was beginning to apologize for the unfinished state of the preparations, but the count would not hear of it. • Affection to my person,' said he, unseasonable affection, I must say it, has (it seems) betrayed my rank to you; but for this night at least, I beseech you let us forget it.' And, upon the ladies excusing theme selves from appearing, on the plea that their dresses were not yet arrived in which they could think of presenting themselves before their sovereign,-'Ah! what?' said the count, gaily, 'my dear commissioner, I cannot think of accepting such excuses as these. Agitated as the ladies were at this summons, they found all their alarms put to flight in a moment by the affability and gracious manners of the high personage. Nothing came amiss to him ; everything was right and delightful. Down went the little sofa-bed in a closet, which they had found it necessary to make up for one night, the state-bed not being ready until the following day; and with the perfect high-breeding of a prince, he saw in the least mature of the arrangements for his reception, and the least successful of the attempts to entertain him, nothing but the good intention and affection which had suggested them.
The first great question which arose was— - At what hour would the Count Fitz-Hum be pleased to take supper ? But this question the Count Fitz-Hum referred wholly to the two ladies; and for this one night he notified his pleasure that no other company should be invited. Precisely at eleven o'clock the party sat down to supper, which was served on the round table in the library. The Count Fitz-Huin, we have the pleasure of stating, was in the best health and spirits; and, on taking his seat, he smiled with the most paternal air, at the same time bowing to the ladies, who sat on his right hand and left hand, and saying — Où peut-on étre micux, qu'au sein de sa famille !' At which words tears began to trickle down the cheeks of the commissioner, overwhelmed with the sense of the honor and happiness which were thus descending pleno imbre upon his family, and finding nothing left to wish for, but that the whole city had been witness to his felicity. Even the cook came in for some distant rays and emanations of the princely countenance ; for the Count Fitz. Hum condescended to express his entire approbation of the supper, and signified his pleasure to Von Hoax that the cook should be remembered on the next vacancy which occurred in the palace establishment.
'Tears such as tender fathers shed' had already on this night bedewed the cheeks of the commissioner ; but before he retired to bed, he was destined to shed more and still sweeter tears ; for after supper he was honored by a long private interview with the count, in which that personage expressed his astonishment (indeed, he must say, his indignation) that merit so distinguished as that of Mr. Pig, should so long have remained unknown at court. "I now see more than ever,' said he, 'the necessity there was that I should visit my states incognito.' And he then threw out pretty plain intimations that a place, and even a title, would soon be conferred on his host. Upon this Pig wept copiously; and, upon retiring, being immediately hon
ored by an interview with Mr. Von Hoax, who assured him that he was much mistaken if he thought that his highness ever did these things by halves, or would cease to watch over ihe fortunes of a family whom he had once taken into his special grace; the good man absolutely sobbed like a child, and could neither utter a word, nor get a wink of sleep that night.
All night the workmen pursued their labors, and by morning the state apartments were in complete preparation. By this time it was universally known throughout the city who was sleeping at the commissioner's. As soon, therefore, as it could be supposed agreeable to him, the trained bands of the town marched down to pay their respects by a morning salute. The drums awoke the count, who rose immediately, and in a few minutes presented himself at the window—bowing repeatedly and in the most gracious manner. A prodigious roar of • Vivat Serenissimus !'ascended from the mob; amongst whom the count had some difficulty in descrying the martial body who were parading below; that gallant corps mustering, in fact, fourteen strong, of whom nine were reported fit for service; the balance of five,' as their commercial leader observed, being either on the sick-list-or, at least, not ready for all work,' though too loyal to decline a labor of love like the present. The count received the report of the commanding officer; and declared (addressing himself 10 Von Hoax, but loud enough to be overheard by the officer) that he had seldom seen a more soldierly body of men, or who had more the air of veteran troops. The officer's honest face burned with the anticipation of communicating so flattering a judgment to his corps; and his delight was not diminished by overhearing the words—' early promotion,' and 'order of merit. In the transports of his gratitude, he determined that the fourteen should fire a volley; but this was an event not to be accomplished in a hurry; much forethought and a deep premeditation were required; a considerable 'balance of the gallant troops were not quite au fait in the art of loading, and a considerable balance of the muskets not quite au fait in the art of going off. Men and muskets being alike veterans, the agility of youth was not to be expected of them; and the issue was- —that only two guns did actually go off. But in commercial cities,' as the good-natured count observed to his host,' a large discount must always be made on prompt payment.'
Breakfast now over; the bells of the churches were ringing; the streets swaming with people in their holiday clothes ; and numerous deputations, with addresses, petitions, &c. from the companies and guild of the city were forming into processions. First came the towncouncil, with the chief burgomaster at their head: the recent order for the reduction of fees, &c. was naturally made the subject of a dutiful remonstrance; great was the joy with which the count's answer was received :—'On the word of a prince, he had never heard of it before : his signature must have been obtained by some court intrigue ; but he could assure his faithful council, that on his return to his capital his first care would be to punish the authors of so scandalous a mea
sure ; and to take such other steps, of an opposite description, as were due to the long services of the petitioners, and to the honor and dig. nity of the nation. The council were then presented seriatim, and had all the honor of kissing hands. These gentlemen having withdrawn, next came all the trading campanics; each with an address of congratulation expressive of love and devotion, but uniformly bearing some little rider attached to it of a more exclusive nature. The tailors prayed for the general abolition of seamstresses, as nuisances and invaders of chartered rights and interests. The shoemakers, in conjunction with the tanners and curriers, complained that Providence had in vain endowed leather with the valuable property of perishableness—if the selfishness of the iron-trade were allowed to counteract this benign arrangement by driving nails into all men's shoe-soles. The hair-dressers were modest, indeed 100 modest in their demandsconfining themselves to the request, that for the better encouragement of wigs a tax should be imposed on every man who wore his own hair, and that it should be felony for a gentleman to appear without powder. The glaziers were content with the existing state of things; only that they felt it their duty to complain of the police regulation against breaking the windows of those who refused to join in public illuminations : a regulation the more harsh, as it was well known that bailstorms had for many years sadly fallen off, and the present race of hail-stones were scandalously degenerated from their ancestors of the last generation. The bakers complained that their enemies had accused them of wishing sell their bread at a higher price ; which was a base insinuation; all they wished for was, that they might diminish their loaves in size; and this, upon public grounds, was highly requisite: -fullness of bread' being notoriously the root of jacobinism, and under the present assize of bread, men are so much bread that they did not know what the d—they would be at. A course of small loaves would therefore be the best means of bringing them round to sound principles. To the bakers succeeded the projectors, the first of whom offered to make the town conduits and sewers navigable, if his highness would ‘lend him a thousand pounds.' The clergy of the city, whose sufferings had been great from the weekly scourgings which they and their works received from the town newspaper, called out clamorously for a literary censorship. On the other hand, the editor of the newspaper prayed for unlimited freedom of the press and abolition of the law of libel.
Certainly the Count Fitz-Uum must have had the happiest art of reconciling contradictions, and insinuating hopes into the most desperate cases: for the petitioners, one and all, quitted his presence delighted and elevated with hope. Possibly one part of his secret might lie in the peremptory injunction which he laid upon all the petitioners to observe the profoundest silence for the present upon his intentions in their favor.
The corporate bodies were now despatched; but such was the report of the prince's gracious affability, that the whole town kept