Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

time when, having obtained my degrees, I should no longer be capable of holding these appointments, but must choose some other way of life for myself. As to pursuing learning as a profession, that never entered into my calculations. Fellowships and Professorships could not be obtained without much study, and my favourite study—“Mankind”-entered very little into the reading necessary for their acquirement: in other words, if I could have placed myself in any of those comfortably-cushioned chairs of authority, by sycophancy, impudence, or working on the minds of others, I had never doubted to have thus established myself ; but I knew that could never be, and I could not help laughing at the imposition practised on themselves, by those learned worthies, when they supposed that all their labours were for the pure love of literature.

“Oh,” I have often cried as I sat in my solitary chamber, “deprive these men of the rewards of their Professorships, and what a multitude of vacant chairs would be going a begging! Lop off their salaries, and reduce their commons to bread and water, and then we shall be able to judge how true is their affection for inestimable science. No, no! it is the auri sacra fames' which consumes them, and not them alone, but the whole world. Gold is the loadstone which attracts all mankind, from the cradle to the grave. The baby grasps at whatever comes within its reach with a sentiment of intuitive acquisitiveness : the adult man fights, schemes, labours, begs, robs, and murders for it: the old toothless cripple, whose senses have become blunted to the enjoyment of every thing else, still giggles out the idiotic laugh of selfish pleasure when he clutches it, and by legal documents endeavours, even when the cheating grave shall have torn him from it, still to exercise an authority over it. It is gold, and gold alone, which rules the earth. It is the true mammon. Bacon asserted that “knowledge was power;" I can concur in the aphorism, if knowledge procures gold. But does it always ? No! undoubtedly not. Many exercise mental and bodily abilities of a very high order, in the perpetual acquisition and communication of real knowledge-spend night and day in an almost unceasing effort, and yet live poor, and die poor; their fame shall live perhaps, when their generation has forgotten them, and worms shall have chambered in their empty skulls ;—but Fame ?_Trash! One fool beplastering another with empty breath. Thou art not to my taste; I must have something more solid-some way of arriving at wealth before old age shall have crippled enjoyment. How is this to be accomplished ?”

Considerations of this nature, were continually occupying my thoughts, and impeding my progress in any valuable branch of study; but as it was necessary to adopt some profession, I first chose the Church, led, I believe, by the writings of Buonaretti, which showed most clearly that, to a perfectly unscrupulous conscience and cunning mind, the highest elevations were attainable, even to the Cardinal's hat and Papal Tiara. A woman of bloody hand and lying tongue, by art and cunning, had obtained both; and had she been ruled by the spirit of ambition only, she had easily retained them ; but (monster as she was) she discovered that she had a heart, and that discovery proved her ruin : her unlucky love, and not the cleverness of the Representatives of the apostles, caused her miserable remains to be torn by Roman dogs, and to be trampled on by the vilest of the people.

Still this wretched, depraved woman had filled that proudest of proud thrones-she had succeeded in her ambitious masquerade—had been the Representative of Christ—God upon earth-Infallible; but that had not prevented her falling in love! Now, might not I, as unscrupulous to the full as ever she was, pass through the same phases, and, avoiding the catastrophe, some day fill my coffers—enjoy my five palaces, and fulminate my Bulls from the Vatican, like this fair and foul lady, or any other of the immaculate successors of St. Peter.

“Yes,” I shouted one morning when after a revel of no ordinary drunkenhood, I awoke in my bed with my clothes on—“ Yes, I will be the Pope-I will scheme with the best of them, Johanna Anglica included : I can learn with the worst of them-nay, I think I may flatter myself that I possess mental abilities of a sufficiently cunning nature to teach half the College of Jesuits. I can be silent, the hardest task of all; and so supreme a contempt do I entertain for all the realities of any supposable scheme of faith, that I should as willingly seek the Caliphate as the Popedom, did it

my appounded, when my oumble

pay equally well! Luchsa, huzza, heydideldidey for the Popedom, huzza!!!"

So loud did I shout in my extacy of mental and bodily inebriety, that I caused some alarm in the house, and my landlord and some of the servants rushed up stairs. I heard them.

“Now for a little jesuitical practice.” I jumped from my bed, and was instantaneously buried in my night-gown, comfortable chair, and most abstruse studies.

I had made so great an outcry, that they imagined my room must be on fire, or that some horrible accident had occurred; they consequently entered it without ceremony, and with looks of alarm. The peaceable tranquillity of my appearance astonished them, and they looked rather confounded, when, having nodded assent to some mental proposition of my own, I turned to them, and in the calmest voice possible enquired

“What is the matter?”

Instead of answering me, they began to back out of the apartment, stammering apologies, and feeling convinced that they had made a mistake, and consequently committed an extreme rudeness.

When I had enjoyed their confusion for a moment, I begged to be informed if they had all become mad; and having in the mildest manner, excused and reproved them for disturbing me, at the same time assuringnay, convincing—them that there had not been any noise made in my chamber, I relapsed into my studies,

and the intruders departed somewhat crestfallen, and making abundant apologies.

Hardly had they reached the foot of the stairs, when shouts and clamours, and the fierce jangling of swords, reached their ears, apparently from the same quarter whence the late alarming sounds had proceeded. I do not scruple to say, I had caused them, the warlike portion being performed onthe iron coal scuttle, with the poker.

I knew perfectly well, that this would draw my landlord back again, and by the time I was seated, I had the pleasure of seeing the glitter of his eye through the keyhole, regarding me with the most unbounded astonishment. Whilst he was there, I appeared to study intensely; but as soon as he had crept stealthily away, and proceeded to the garrets over me, I went quietly to the door, introduced a good pinch of snuff into the keyhole, and immediately seated myself again.

When he had made an inspection of the rooms above, he returned, as I had expected, to my door, and applied his eye as before; but that luminary had hardly perceived me before it suffered a most painful eclipse, some of the snuff having been drawn into it by his breathing. He uttered a roar of anguish, and stamped with pain. I opened my door to enquire what might be the new cause of disturbance, and there stood the unfortunate man with his hands clasped over his eyes spasmodically, whilst he continued to cry out

“Oh! the Devil—the Devil is in the house. The Devil has thrust two hot prongs of a pitchfork into my eyes. Oh mein Gott, the Kobold! Oh, oh! Och ! oh !!!"

[graphic]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »