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“An English carriage, by George !” exclaimed the youngest of my companions.
We all three dropped our knives at the information, and rushing to the window, certified the fact by ocular demonstration.
“There can be no doubt about it,” continued the Etonian. “Look at the arms and bearings on the panels—a person of note, by George !”
I observed a gentleman descend. He was dressed in the most recherché style possible for the occasion, that is to say, he wore a shooting coat of delicate coloured plaid, a waiscoat with mother o’pearl buttons, and perforated with pockets, trowsers in keeping with the rest, gaiters, shoes, felt hat, etcetera. This was all I could observe from the first glimpse of him, but he was soon ushered into the room where we were seated, when I had an opportunity of scanning him more closely.
He might have been five and twenty, though from the gravity of his countenance, ten years more might reasonably have been supposed, had not his curly chesnut hair belied it; and was tall, wellformed, of expressive features—expressive of what, however, it would be difficult to say—and had a graceful air of self confidence, according well with the style of his general appearance. His eyes were blue, large and mild, with an expression of sadness within, which insensibly attracted my sympathy and curiosity to “hear their tale." Yet his cheeks and the lower portion of his face completely neutralised this, with regard to kindly interest. Upon the former the hue of health was no longer visible; a sickly pallor had usurped its place, and his mouth, the lower jaw wide and prominent, espoke the voluptuary. Viewed as a whole, it was a countenance which might have puzzled Lavater himself. But his conversation gave a key to his outward appearance.
I linger over these minute descriptions because I conceive the duty and pleasure of a traveller to rest almost as much upon the examination of characters which chance throws in his way, as in that of the country and its chief objects of interest. The benefits to be derived from travelling are not owing to the mere novelty of scene and variety of products which it brings before the eye, but to the expansion of the mind by interchange of opinion, to the flight of prejudice by comparison, to the enlargement of ideas by intercourse with men of a different origin, and educated under different auspices and associations. Mere topography will not dispel prejudice. Scenery, grand, sublime as the Alps, rich and smiling as the Wye and its banks, if tenant less, leaves the mind of the traveller, with regard to his fellow mortals, as blind as ever.
My Lord—he was a real milord, which my two companions and I were not, although mine host gave us that high title, using it as indiscriminately as the Germans do their "Herr Graf-Sir Count” — my Lord C-, having laid aside his hat and given his instructions to his valet, bowed gracefully to us, and, accosting us in English, begged permission to form one of our party at the breakfast table, a request which gave us as much pleasure as honor to comply with.
“Glorious weather, sir ! Garcon, salt !” said the senior of my companions—the first clause being addressed to our new comer. “ Glorious weather."
“Alas ! yes," murmured forth Lord C—-. “And it seems likely to continue,” added the first speaker. " I fear so.”
We glanced at each other, my senior companion and I, and he continued.
“You appear, sir, to regret the continuance of fine weather, which to tourists is a chief object. And you are one, if I mistake not?”
“Too true, too true," groaned forth the answer. you remind me of my situation, gentlemen. Let me see, where am Í? Hecla on the 1st of May- Lucca on the 18th of JuneWaterloo day, lucky dogs to get killed—and this—this is July. Hum! I thought I had got farther. And this time last year, let me see," continued he aloud, but addressing himself more than us, and pulling a filagreed memorandum book out of his pocket, “this time last year, ah! we were blown up, off Mad
“By George !” cried the young English gentleman.
“Eh? what's that you say, my dear sir ?” exclaimed Lord C “the George,' oh, no, I was in the 'Aurangzebe.'”
« The Aurungzebe!' I know her well, a splendid vessel, one of Gn's best. You have,”
But my senior companion was interrupted by his brother, who wanted an explanation from Lord C-, regarding the “blowing up” off Madras, the young fellow naturally associating the expression with its original signification, or with his Eton reminiscences after a row. When it had been explained, that the ship of which Lord C spoke had been “blown up” by fair winds from Madras to the mouth of the Hooghly, the latter ordered his valet to appear, and told him to have the carriage ready again in half an hour.'
“And you leave us so soon ?" said I.
" Yet it can be no great hardship when you have such an elegant carriage and a retinue of servants at your command,” said my senior companion.
“ You do not think so ?”
The senior of my two fellow travellers had passed a great portion of his life in India, where he was in the Company's service, which he had quitted for a short space on sick certificate, so his notions of pleasure travelling did not correspond exactly with mine. Accustomed to have a multitude of natives ready to obey his slightest nod, accustomed to every luxury, and to rule as a king in his own bungalow and compound, he looked upon the possession of such as actually necessary to the true enjoyment of travel ; while I, on the other hand, used to England and its homely ways all my life, regarded the pleasure of a tour greatly enhanced by the small difficulties thrown in your way, such as the want of conveyance, the shift of a green bank under an elm, and beside a babbling brook on a moonlight night, for an eider down mattress, besides the opportunity such trials, and they are trials in their way, give one of better judging of the country and the characteristics of its people. But to return to his remark regarding the possession of a retinue of servants and a comfort. able carriage, his curiosity was piqued by Lord C-'s answer.
" You do not think so ?”
“A very agreeable obligation, truly, to have thrust upon a man, is a carriage and a retinue of servants at his command,' said my companion, with an incredulous smile.
" It is nevertheless true, sir. In me you behold the most miserable of men,” continued Lord C drinking off a quantity of cream.
“How does that happen ?”
Yes, I could. I can bear a good deal. I can bear a dinner party at the Government House, Calcutta, and few can say the same.”
“But it cannot interest you to hear them.” “Indeed it can. My curiosity is raised to the highest pitch."
“Then the exertion !-However, you shall be satisfied. Know, that I am the most miserable of men. I am doomed to travel.”
We all three gave a look of open surprise, and the Eton
youth whispered something to his brother about a strait waistcoat.
“ You need be under no apprehension for your pockets, gentlemen,” said Lord C in a languid tone. "I am neither an exile, nor a duellist; nor am I a cut-purse-good heaven! I wish I were; and I am not a madman, delightful thought! for I speak calmly and seriously. I repeat again, I am doomed to travel—it is my destiny, I cannot explain more.”
“Then what is a pleasure with so many, being with you a constraint, causes you to long for a snug fire-side and more sedentary amusement,” said I.
“You mistake me there, sir, I abhor a sedentary life. I have tried it in all shapes. I first purchased a house in a retired part of the country, into which I shut myself alone, with the exception of two servants. I ordered all the standard works of every language down from London; had them conveyed to my country seat, spent a whole week in arranging them myself, and began to peruse them from the first shelf upwards. Not a soul was to disturb my studies, and the people, taking me at my word, caused me in a short time to throw up the scheme from ennui. Another time, a zealous friend recommended me to marry, and offered to find a lady lovely and accomplished enough to tempt me to make such a fool of myself. I laughed at his assurance, and laughed still more when introduced to the female he had hunted up, who proved to be the daughter of a retired green-grocer who used to come in to wait at table in my father's time, when he gave large parties. The marriage scheme over, 1 took to politics, but being accused of having obtained my seat in parliament by bribery, and being “found guilty," when in reality I had left every thing to the management of my lawyer, even to the composition of my address from the hustings, I was ejected from the House with disgrace. Then I tried London for a season, and had a box at the opera, where I nightly showered artificial nosegays upon the singers and dancers, but having done so very markedly to a figurante, a very pretty woman, let me tell you, gentlemen, who proved to be the wife of my French tailor, I retired from the public gaze in disgust.”
“And you then took to travel ?”
“Precisely. I first made the tour of Europe, but finding the people, the Irish excepted, much too civilized to be entertaining, I hied away to Lapland. From thence I went to Russia, and through that country to India. I returned home by the Cape
-no ! let me see – by Damascus and the Mediterranean - in short I have been nearly every where, and I am equally disgusted with the whole.'
“ And as a last resource to come to Switzerland.”
“ Switzerland ! I know every mule path in it. I tell you, gentlemen, if I've been to Chamounix once, I've been there twenty times. Ugh! I loath the sight of a glacier.”
“Yet you continue to travel ?”
“What can I do? I try to get over the ground as quickly as possible. I have been posting almost all night, and I am off again immediately. Now confess, am I not the most miserable of men ?"
“ If I am not mistaken," said the senior of my companions, “you mentioned that you had been in India. You would find a large field there for the relief of your mind ?”
“All bosh, as they call it. Bosh, bosh. True, on my first arrival, I thought I had at length discovered the “happy shirt” of eastern fable. The different titles given to me were amusing enough at first-being called by the English nabobs a griffin, and by my peons a doory,
Then the nautch were a change after I'aglioni and Cerito. The tonjons, too, were very delightful, and the moonsiffs and cutwells queer fellows. The choultries are convenient when travelling, were it not for the pishashi and smell of bang about them. But all these strange sights and names I
grew tired of ere long, and I returned home as miserable as I went out. My carriage is ready, I see, gentlemen, so I must now bid you good bye.”
And thus did we lose sight of the "most miserable of men.”
As our horses had not yet rested, we ordered the voiturier to follow us with the carriage as soon as possible, while we walked on before, following the road to Cluses, which we reached at the moment our carriage came in sight.
A quarter of an hour sufficed to see all that Cluses had to offer of attraction, for it had a few months previously fallen a victim to a fire, which had spread with such fury as to demolish the greater portion. It was in truth a melancholy sight, and we gladly dropped our mite into the alms-boxes, "pour les pauvres incendiés,” suspended at every angle. I was glad to learn from our driver, that much sympathy had been shown in the neighbouring towns for the poor inhabitants, that collections for their relief had been made in all the churches at Geneva, and that the British congregation there, although the smallest of any, had “out of their abundancs" made the largest donation.
Cluses has been singular in its number of fires. It has been several times devoured by that element, and phenix-like has always risen out of its ashes, to be reduced again. It appeared a poor town, though I hear that before the last fire the inhabitants were well off. Their principal occupation was to make the skeletons of the watches for the Genevese ouvriers, who