Page images

African Customs--The Lunatic.

[vol. 4 “ The population of St. Louis, situ- ed with the richest colours, sporting on ated on an island forined by the river its foliage, such as rollers with a skySenegal, amounts to about 10,000 souls, blue plumage, senegallis of a crimson the majority of whom are Mahometans. colour, soui-mangas shining with gold It is placed on a bank of scorching sand, and azure ; if advancing under the and little cultivation is to be seen. On vault, we find flowers of dazzling whitethe Isle of Sor, to the East, cotton and ness hanging on every side ; and if in indigo grow natural.y, and together the centre of this retreat, an old man with mangoes and minosas, the mag, and his family, a young mother and her Dificent baobab, or adansoia, the ele- children, meet the eye:-wbat a crowd phant of the vegetable kingdom, is found. of delicious ideas is aroused at this moThis tree often serves the negroes for a ment!-- The leaves, when dried, are dwelling, the construction of which converted into the powder lalo, with costs no further trouble than cutting an which the natives season almost all their opening in the side to serve as a door, food. They employ the roots medicinand taking out the very soft pith wbich ally inwardly, and its gummy bark for fills the inside of the trunk. The tree, disorders in the breast,-ihey make far from being injured by this operation, cataplasms of the parenchyma of the seems even to derive more vigour from trunk for cutaneous diseases, they use the fire which is lighted in it for the the pulp of its fruit as an astringent purpose of drying the sap by carbon- beverage,--they regale themselves with izing it. In this state it almost always its almonds,--they smoke the calyx of happens thatthe bark, instead of forming its flowers instead of tobacco, and a ridge at the edge of the wound, as often by dividing into two parts the happens with some trees in Europe, globulous capsules, and leaving the contioues to grow, and at length covers long woody stalk fixed to one of the the whole inside of the tree, generally halves, which become dry and hard, without any wrinkles, and thus presents they make a large spoon or ladle." the astonishing spectacle of an immense Thus does one astonishing tree serve tree recompleted in its organization, for residence, food, drink, medicine, but having the form of an enormous household utensil, and luxuries of hollow cylinder, or rather of a vast several kinds. But we have copied arborescent wall bent into a circular enough to shew, that besides the apform, and having its sides suficiently palling narrative of the wreck of the wide asunder to let you enter into the Medusa, and of the conduct of the space which it encloses. Ifcasting our human serpents which issued from her, eyes on the immense dome of verdure readers will find much to gratify them which forms the summit of this rural in the perusal of the other portions,espepalace, we see a swarm of birds adorn- cially in the Notes, of this publication.



From the European Magazine.

very near my journey's end, when the TO O part of our laws implies a more stage-coach driver admitted a stranger

becoming consciousness of the fal- to fill a seat which had been vacated. lability of human judgment, than the The other three passengers were busily cautious and deliberate procedure re- engaged in a discussion on lawful and quired in ascertaining mental disease, unlawful duels, and referring occasion and surrendering a supposed lunatic to ally to a pamphlet printed in 1632, on the custody of his kindred. A remark- occasion of the Battle awarded in the able instance of this kind fell under my preceding year in the Court of Chivalry own observation.— I was on my way to on an Appeal of Treason by Lord Rea visit an uncle resident on the remotest against Mr. Ramsay.

Then followed coast of Cornwall, and believed myself an attempt to trace the Writ of Appeal


VOL. 4.]

The Lunatic.


was very


and Wager of Battle from the practice strong staff, not unlike the batoon of of Turkey, and its prevalence in Eng- the champions he had been describing land till the third year of Henry VII. Not another word was hazarded ; and But our new companion, whose dress when the mail-coach stopped, I mount

little superior to a disbanded ed the horse provided for me with great seaman, suddenly joined the conversa- readiness, to escape from the sight of tion : “ Gentlemen,” he began, in a our unknown companion. I shall be stern voice, “ modern philosophers nev- pardoned, I believe, if I confess, that er read, therefore they are always mak. during my ride through the solitary lane ing discoveries.—Did Blackstone see which led to my uncle's old manorany barbarity in this mode of satisfying house, I cast several suspicious glances

Ι justice, or did the Archbishop of Tole- at the shadows which a few shaggy elms do disdain to witness such a combat in threw over my path. The first kind the most religious court of Europe ?"- salutations of a hospitable relative were This extraordinary coinbination of au- hardly fioished, when bis porter came to thorities made one of the party smile, announce a stranger, who desired inthough his professional petulance was stant admission on the most urgent bule stirred by the implied comparison be. siness. It was late, the manor-house tween our English oracle and an old was lonely, and situated near a coast Spanish bigot. To waive any farther noted for desperate pirates and contradisputes on the wisdom or antiquity of band adventurers. But my good old trial by single combat, he began to de- uncle, who held that office “ the like of scribe the dresses worn on such occa- which," as has been merrily said, “is sions in our third Henry's days. Sir,” known to no other land,” was too proud interposed our legislator in a blue jack- of his authority, and too conscious that et,“ the pike, dagger, long sword, and he held it with pure hands, to entertain short-sword, which you speak of, were any fears.--Yet he allowed me to acappointed only for Rea and Ramsay, company him to what he called his jusIn Henry's time, such combatants fought tice-room, where, with much surprise with weapons of small length, with and some apprehension, I saw the dark heads, hands, and feet bare ; or with man. He looked at me first as if recogniebon staves or batoons, having hard zing my features, and endeavouring to sand bags fastened at the ends. And examine their import; then addressing each might have a four-cornered shield my uncle with more courtesy than his without any iron, and a frock of red rude apparel promised, he requested a cloth reaching to the elbow and knee, private audience. A glance of intelliBut the Apellant's head was ever cover- gence which we had time to exchange, ed, and the Defendant's rayed or shav- induced my old kinsman to support en thus." -As he spoke, the describer me when I professed myself his ina. suddenly raised his bat, and discovered dispensable clerk. After mysteriously a head of inost extraordinary character. closing the door, and advancing so It reminded us of those fine busts found near us as to make me regret that my among the ruins caused by a volcano, travelling pistols were out of my reach, scorched and bruised, but not deprived he announced, in a low and singularly of their noble symmetry and expression. solemn tone, that he came to lay a His skin was darkened as if burning capital charge against two seamen of lava had passed over it, except on the his Majesty's ship, the ---upper part of bis head, which appeared felony or murder !" said my uncle, and to have been lately shaven, and was I prepared pen and paper to fulfil my now bordered by a fringe of the same assumed office of his clerk.--"Of comcrisp black hair which formed the thick pleting one, and conspiring to commit curl of his eye-brows, and met near bis the other," replied the informer in chin. Blackstone and Beccaria were the same low tone, with a mixed wholly forgotten while we looked on expression of fear and horror in his this formidable countenance, and ob- countenance. The Justice required served that its possessor had also a him to relate particulars, and they seem


6 Of


The Lunatic.

[VOL. 4 ed distinctly told. He stated, that the boatswain's figure and his companion's boatswain and another person belonging dress, were singularly precise and forto an English ship of war, had convey- cible. My uncle called for supper, and ed him in their boat, after dining with seating hin by his fire-side, with the their captain and his ofiicers, to an ob- frank kindness of an old English squire, scure cove on the coast near Naples, endeavoured to fix his attention on where he had been imprisoned several other subjects. We talked of political days, and at last released, or, to speak occurrences, of the general state of Itamore properly, abandoned without mo- ly, and the victory then recent at Maida. ney, and almost without clothes, on a A slight shivering of his lips and eyedesolate spot, from whence he was con- lids indicated that this last subject veyed in a delirious fever by his valet. touched some tender nerve, and he sudThis last particular deserved enquiry. denly asked me if I had seen Calabria. How did his valet discover his master's My nephew is an idle Templar, situation, and what induced him to said the Justice, answering for me," and visit a part of the Neapolitan coast so bas more ambition to be lined with good desolate and undistinguished, in quest capon than at a cannon's mouth.” Our of him? Our informer answered, that guest's imagination probably caught the man himself might be questioned some unintended reference in this alluon that subject. To my remark, that sion to Shakspeare, and he replied, with only the fact of robbery could be sub- a fierce gesture, “ He is right, and I stantiated, as murder did not appear to have now no honour to be jealous of. have been designed, he replied, “ Both Gentlemen, I understand the purpose were committed, but not within the let- of all this. You persuade yourselves ter of our laws." Being urged to ex- that an outrage which did not end in plain this ambiguous sentence, he re- the actual loss of my life and property, mained several minutes in a silence is not worth a public and difficult inwhich implied such deep and melancho- vestigation : you wish to soothe me ly recollection, that peither our curiosity into forgetfulness and forgiveness, and por our suspicions emboldened us to I thank you for the attempt. You interrupt it. My honest uncle spoke know not what a blessing it would be to first.-" Child," he said, laying his forget, and I have sought for it in many hand on the young man's shoulder, ways, but these men haunt me still, and with a kindness which alınost always I must accuse them. Remember, gencreated the confidence it expressed, tlemen, I did not say how much of my “there is something in this business life and property they spared, nor how more than you have communicated, or little.”- We couid make no answer to less than you imagine. If these men a speech which with all its obscure inproposed an outrage against your life, coherence, was solemn. Almost conwhy did they leave the opportunity and vinced that his visitor was insane, my the work unfinished ; and if they never uncle soothed him with an assurance attempted it, why is the murderous de- that he would expedite the progress of sign imputed to them ?"--Still he made justice, and had begun to offer him a no reply, and my uncle enquired the chamber under his roof till morning, extent of the robbery be had suffered. when another stranger with three atten

-“ Only a few pieces of gold,” he dants elaimed admission. They were answered," and my valet tells me they brought into the room where we still sat were restored." --We looked at each with the accuser, who started from his other with sufficient agreement in our place at their entrance, and held up the thoughts that the charge was wholly formidable batoon I have mentioned due to a disordered imagination ; and once before. Sir Frederick Cornwall, hoping to detect its incoherence still as I chuse to call our new visitor, premore broadly, we required him to re- sented himself with very engaging popeat it, while I made minutes. But liteness, and entreated pardon for his he made no variation in games or dates; relative's intrusion. I accompanied his descriptions of the secret cove, of the him into another apartment, and heard


VOL. 4.]
The Lunatic.

the his expressions of regret at the notional presentation of the manner in which the insanity which seemed to have taken selfish plans of individuals are rendered entire hold of his nephew's mind. To parts of one wide and perfect system of my question whether Colonel C. had equal justice. A few years passed after ever been in Naples, he replied that he this incident, and all remembrance of it had only returned from thence a few had begun to disappear, when my prodays ; " but,” he added, “ his valet as- fessional duties brought me, on the sures me no part of this strange ro: western circuit, to a town where I mance, which he persists in repeating, ceived an anonymous letter enclosing a ever had existence, if we except the de- large Bank-note to retain me as counsel lirious fever he himself confesses.”-A in the cause of a very young French request that the unhappy young man boy charged with private robbery. The might be delivered into his custody fol- noie I deposited in my uncle's hands, lowed this speech, which did not ap- to remain untouched, as a clue to future pear to me quite satisfactory. He per- discovery ; but the account circulated ceived it, and produced several letters in the town concerning this young

of dated from Naples, and distinctly giv, fender was sufficient to interest me. He ing the Neapolitan physician's opinion was accused of stealing the purse and of his distemper. One, written by the pocket-book of an unfortunate geotlecaptain of the vessel in which Colonel man who occupied a small mansion pot C. had sailed home, detailed many far from the castle appropriated to touching instances of incurable dejec- French prisoners of war. Louis, as tion, and hinted at an attempted suicide. this boy called himself, had been found This letter enclosed another from the bruised and senseless under the mansionunfortunate young officer himself, rela- wall, from which he appeared to have ting the transaction in the bay of Na- fallen in an attempt to escape from the ples exactly as he had described it to garden, where the owner had seen him us, but with many expressions of the lurking, probably after robbing the lukeenest and most desperate resentment. natic who resided there of the money

Though these expressions were min- found upon him. Amongst this money gled with others which seemed to imply was a gold seal and diamond ring, both grateful confidence in his uncle's affec- bearing the initials of Colonel Cornwall

, tion, I thought myself at liberty to and recognized by many persons as his doubt it, and ventured to enquire why property, though his reputed insanity the valet had not accompanied bis un- rendered his evidence inadmissible. I fortunate master to England. Sir Fred- questioned the boy with all the severity erick shewed me an Italian letter, con- and adroitnesc in my power, but could taining so natural and so clear a state- extort no confession from bim regarding ment of the man's reasons for remaining his business at that mansion, or the in his native country, that no objection means by which the money fell into his could be made. But my good uncle, hands. He did not deny that he had who well deserved the name of Justice, seen Colonel Cornwall; he admitted positively detained the Colonel as his the seal and ring might have been once guest till the strictest enquiries had been his property, but would give no account pursued. Nothing resulted that could of the gold. My earnest application throw doubt on Sir Frederick, or justify procured a magistrate's order for my us in withholding the Colonel's person, admission into Colonel C.'s presence which he surrendered bimself with an alone. The keeper warned me of his air of tranquillity almost amounting to concealed fierceness and malignity and happiness.

left us together with evident reluctance. I remember in my boyhood a certain He knew me instantly, and burst into piece of mathematical magic in an old tears. I love human nature, and honEncyclopedia, representing almost in- our it too much to dwell on the frightnumerable circles inost intricately inter- ful picture he gave me of bis sufferings. woven, but all combining in one. I The clearness, the moderation, and the have since found it a very accurate re- method of his detail, convinced me they


The Lunatic.

[vol. 4

were undeserved : and

my representa- the sacred secresy which I owe you as tions gained such attention from a dig- your counsellor, tell me if you know cerning magistrate, supported by the more of Louis ?'-“ My dear friend," votes of three physicians, that he ob- he answered, “ and those words imply tained admission into court as a capable every thing most sacred between man witness. His narrative was simple and and man, I do know Louis, and thereconvincing. Louis, he said, had con- fore I disclaimed all knowledge of the veyed three letters to him from an un- seal and ring; the gold would have known person, offering biin money and burned both my heart and my brain if jewels to bribe the keeper employed by I had accepted it, but I could not conhis interested relative. This mysterious fess the truth. Complete your task by friend also promised to produce such evi- staying with me till my death, and you dence as would effectually silence those will learn all.” — You have deceived who impeached his intellects. But he me, then, in the affair of Naples too, solemnly protested that he could not perhaps ?'—“On the faith of a dying -conjecture from whence these offers man, you have heard the truth, and nocame, por by what means Louis had thing but the truth, on that subject. I obtained the seal and ring, which he did told you when we first met, that I had not remember ever to have seen before, enemies who had taken away my honI confess my surprise at this last asser- our, and now they have reached my life." tion, but it was useful to the prisoner. This terrible hint confirmed suspiAs the charge of felony was completely cions in my mind that had been indisfalsified, the court did not deem it a tinctly forming since the first period of duty to enquire farther ; the young our acquaintance. Cornwall's uncle Frenchman was released; and after a bad children who might be largely bentedious struggle with the forms of ano- efited by his death; the suspected valet ther court, our more unfortunate friend was probably their agent, and the strange Cornwall was freed from his uncle's outrage committed at Naples might have custody. I accompanied him to a re- been a stratagem to disorder his imagitired villa in my own good uncle's neigh- nation, or an attempt to remove him bourhood, which he chose for the wild- baffled by some secret means.

Mine ness of its scenery and the pastoral sim- was not the only judgment biassed plicity of its inhabitants. We arrived at against Sir Frederick Cornwall, and the the pleasantest hour of that sweet spring- emaciated state of his nephew, every season which belongs only to England; where ascribed to the cruelties inflicted and I congratulated him, as I thought, on him, caused such general indignamost opportunely on bis: restoration to tion and abhorrence, that the darkest the rights and comforts of an English- suspicions were willingly received. Letinan." It is your work,” he replied, ters were privately sent to powerful with a melancholy smile," and I will persons at Naples, urging them to trace not be so ungrateful as to tell you it is the Italian valet; and while we awaited useless." - I would rather be told that the result, my uncle and myself neglectit is imperfect, provided you will teach ed no means to allure the melancholy me how to amend it. But I do not man from his solitude.

He was our perceive any thing wanting to your tran- guest for whole days and weeks, and quillity, unless


wish to know more his house on these occasions was left to of Louis or his employer ; and it is im- the care of three trusty servants, who had possible to deny, Cornwall, that your known and loved him from his youth. unwillingness to pursue eoquiry in that They were alarmed one evening, in quarter calls some suspicion upon your- their master's absence, by the stoppage self.' He made no answer to this speech, of a hired post-chaise at their gates, except one of those fixed and haggard from whence, without ceremony or enlooks which accompanied his former quiry, a veiled woman came into the state of dejection, till I couched my hall, and seated herself. The servants question in direct terms On your looked at each other in stupid confuhonour as a gentleman, and under sion, for they all recognized their mas

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »