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the plain moral of which is, to avoid, as the plague, all those situations in life, in which society expects too much in this line, and is not easily satisfied, unless it knows why.
But the better to understand the apparent paradox, and to comprehend how that, which is really useful, may be dispensed with without injury, let us look at that peculiar modification of good repute, which is known upon 'Change by the name of credit. A banker's credit is simply his good name for solvency: and how useful that is, we take it, there is no great need to explain to the British public. But how is credit useful? for that is the question: why, precisely in the inverse proportion to the real prosperity of the concern. Let calumny say its worst of a safe establishment; the most that can happen is a run on the house ; and then the house meets it, pays every farthing, closes half-a-dozen of the accounts of the more suspicious customers in a huff, and stands higher than ever. Not so with a tottering concern; like Cæsar's wife, it must be above suspicion ; "a breath has made it, and a breath can”-break. It is when the issues are above the assets, and when the deposit of the morning pays the demand of the afternoon, that a good character is worth its weight in gold; so that, the more desperate the prospect grows, the greater are the efforts necessary to sustain the credit of the house. Then it is, that the partners plunge into luxurious expenses, take new villas, and set up new carriages, in order to satisfy the town that their gains are enormous, and (as the vulgar phrase runs) that they are rolling in wealth. Upon the like principle are all other species of character regulated. It is when a man is on the point of being convicted of larceny, that he looks round with anxiety, for a friend to vouch for his honesty: and he never stands so stiffly for his quiet and harmless demeanour, as when put on his trial for bringing down his opponent in a duel.
The reader is now prepared for another great truth, and will begin to perceive that although a loss of character is of no real injury, yet much depends upon the manner in which we get rid of it. It is exactly with reputation as with capital. It must be profitably invested, or ruin stares you in the face. If your money goes in personal expenses, if it is irrecoverably consumed in its use, there is no resource but in the insolvency court. So, if you throw away your character in disreputable vices, or, what is as bad, in imprudent speculations, you become a marked man, and will regret it to the last day of your existence. But place your character on a profitable venture, and bring it home “ in a full shower of cent. per cent.”—no matter how sorely damaged in the voyage, no
one will think of looking it in the face, and you may pass it current in society at your own valuation. A common vulgar thief, who squanders his character in police offices, will find it impossible to get employed, when released from his prison; while he who goes more thriftily to work, who saves himself for great occasions, and va le tout pour le tout, in a fraudulent bankruptcy for half a million, or a trip to America with the public money, to an enormous amount, in his pocket, may draw on the public for a second reputation on his own terms.
We come now to another distinguo, and it shall be the last with which we will trouble our friends“ at this present writing." It relates to a point so self-evident that we should have been well contented to
pass it sub silentio, as a matter of course, if it were not for the importance of the results, and for some considerable experience of its being overlooked in society. Know, then, that character is an indifferent matter only as it relates to what are vulgarly called vices; and that there are many points on which morality looks with mercy, which society judges with an inflexible severity. In the first and chiefest place, let not our friends consider it a matter of no consequence whether they have a reputation for being agreeable, or are set down by general consent as bores. He who has a name for agreeability is everywhere acceptable, no matter though he has ruined his best friend, broke his wife's heart, or even kept a shop. He may dine where he pleases, with whom he pleases, and three times a day if he pleases: nay, more, let his character be up for agreeability, and he may be as substantially obtrusive and tiresome as he likes ; he may let no one speak but himself, tell the same stories till the town knows them by heart, and wear his puns till they are as threadbare as a thrice-turned coat.
Need we say that a bad name for borrowing money is worse than the seven deadlies ? Get as deeply in debt as you will, or borrow of the Jews if you can, or, failing them, you may try some friend whom you desire never to see again, and who is not likely to tell it to any one you care about; but never ask for the loan of an hundred, though it be but till to-morrow morning, of any man, were it your own brother, if there is the slightest chance of the transaction getting wind in society. Doubts are abroad as to the contagious nature of the plague, and there are men who would not abandon you when stricken down by that malady: fastidiousness, too, is not the order of the day; and there are attachments strong enough to adhere to your dinner-table (provided it be well served); but no friendship, no feeling of humanity, no sense of interest would save you from solitude, if you are known to be a borrower.
Again, nothing is so dangerous as a bad name for unreadiness to fight. Your professed duellists have an inexplicable affection for opponents of this character. Such a man will be under the daily necessity of pocketing all sorts of affronts from men who would themselves bear a kicking or an horsewhip with exemplary patience; and, after all, perhaps he will be obliged to fight, when his patience is exhausted, or he is driven into a corner. Assume, then, a merit in this instance, if you have it not, and take some considerable pains to paint the white feather. For this purpose, be careful to avoid offence, keep clear of quarrelsome acquaintance, never volunteer in what does not concern you, and be constantly provided with “ a friend” who is dexterous in bringing quarrels to an amicable conclusion. In this case, when a quarrel is fastened on you, you may safely ask for a man's card, before anything is said or done for which no apology can be accepted. But beware of a swaggering exterior, and fall not into the error of engaging lightly in disputes, on the faith of your friend's protection ; neither frequent shooting galleries, nor confide in the power of snuffing candles and hitting the ace of spades. We never knew one habitually guilty of such faults, who has not ended either by submitting to a beating, or by being shot through the heart by a man who never before fired a pistol; perhaps by both.
MAJOR GAHAGAN'S HISTORICAL REMINISCENCES,
A PEEP INTO SPAIN-AN ACCOUNT OF THE ORIGIN AND SERVICES OF
THE AHMEDNUGGAR IRREGULARS.
Head Quarters, Morella, Sept. 15, 1838. I have been here for some months, along with my young friend Cabrera ; and, in the hurry and bustle of war-daily on guard and in the batteries for sixteen hours out of the twenty-four, with fourteen severe wounds, and seven musket-balls in my body-it may be imagined that I had little time to continue the publication of my memoirs, of which a couple of numbers have already appeared in this magazine. Inter arma silent leges in the midst of fighting be hanged to writing! as the poet says; and I never would have bothered myself with a pen, had not common gratitude incited me to throw off a few pages. The publisher and editor of “The New Monthly Magazine " little know what service has been done to me by that miscellany.
Along with Oraa’s troops, who have of late been beleaguering this place, there was a young Milesian gentleman, Mr. Toone O'Connor Emmett Fitzgerald Sheeny, by name, a law-student, and member of Gray's Inn, and what he called Buy Ah of Trinity College, Dublin. Mr. Sheeny was with the Queen's people not in a military capacity, but as representative of an English journal, to which, for a trifling weekly remuneration, he was in the habit of transmitting accounts of the movements of the belligerents, and his own opinion of the politics of Spain. Receiving, for the discharge of this duty, a couple of guineas a-week from the proprietors of the journal in question, he was enabled, as I need scarcely say, to make such a show in Oraa's camp as only a Christino general officer, or at the very least a colonel of a regiment, can afford to keep up.
In the famous sortie which we made upon the twenty-third, I was of course among the foremost in the mélée, and found myself, after a good deal of slaughtering, (which it would be as disagreeable as useless to describe here,) in the court of a small inn or podesta, which had been made the head-quarters of several queenite officers during the siege. The pesatero or landlord of the inn had been despatched by my brave chapelchuries, with his finc family of children--the officers quartered in the podesta had of course bolted; but one man remained, and fellows were on the point of cutting him into ten thousand pieces with their borachios, when I arrived in the room time enough to prevent the catastrophe. Seeing before me an individual in the costume of a civilian-a white hat, a light-blue satin cravat, embroidered with butterflies and other quadrupeds, a green coat and brass buttons, and a pair of blueplaid trousers, I recognised at once a countryman, and interposed to save his life.
In an agonised brogue the unhappy young man was saying all that he could to induce the chapel-churies to give up their intentions of slaughtering him : but it is very little likely that his protestations would have had any effect upon them, had not I appeared in the room, and shouted to the ruffians to hold their hand.
Seeing a general officer before them (I have the honour to hold that rank in the service of his Catholic Majesty), and moreover one six feet four in height, and armed with that terrible cabecilla (a sword, so called, because it is five feet long) which is so well known among the Spanish armies-seeing, I say, this figure, the fellows retired, exclaiming, “ Adios, corpo
di bacco, nosolros," and so on, clearly proving (by their words) that they would, if they dared, have immolated the victim whom I had thus rescued from their fury. “ Villains !” shouted I, hearing them grumble, “ away! quit the apartment !” Each man, sulkily sheathing his sombrero, obeyed, and quitted the camarilla.
It was then that Mr. Sheeny detailed to me the particulars to which I have briefly adverted ; and, informing me at the same time that he had a family in England who would feel obliged to me for his release, and that his most intimate friend the English ambassador would move heaven and earth to revenge his fall, he directed my attention to a portmanteau passably well filled, which he hoped would satisfy the cupidity of my troops. I said, though with much regret, that I must subject his person to a search ; and hence arose the circumstance which has called for what I fear you will consider a somewhat tedious explanation. I found upon Mr. Sheeny's person three sovereigns in English money (which I have to this day), and singularly enough a copy of “The New Monthly Magazine” for March, which contained my article. It was a toss-up whether I should let the poor young man be shot or no, but this little circumstance saved his life. The gratified vanity of authorship induced me to accept his portmanteau and valuables, and to allow the poor wretch to go free. I put the Magazine in my coat-pocket, and left him and the podesta.
The men, to my surprise, had quitted the building, and it was full time for me to follow, for I found our sallying-party, after committing dreadful ravages in Oraa's lines, were in full retreat upon the fort, hotly pressed by a superior force of the enemy. I am pretty well known and respected by the men of both parties in Spain (indeed I served for some months on the Queen's side before I came over to Don Carlos); and, as it is my maxim never to give quarter, I never expect to receive it when taken myself. On issuing from the podesta, with Sheeny's portmanteau and my sword in my hand, I was a little disgusted and annoyed to see our own men in a pretty good column, retreating at double-quick, and about four hundred yards beyond me up the hill leading to the fort, while on my left hand, and at only a hundred yards, a troop of the queenite lancers were clattering along the road.
I had got into the very middle of the road before I made this discovery, so that the fellows had a full sight of me, and, whizz! came a bullet by my left whisker before I could say Jack Robinson. I looked round—there were seventy of the accursed malvados at the least, and within, as I said, a hundred yards. Were I to say that I stopped to fight seventy men, you would write me down a fool or a liar: no, Sir, I did not fight, I ran away.
I am six feet four—my figure is as well known in the Spanish army as that of the Count de Luchana or my fierce little friend Cabrera himself. “ GAHAGAN !” shouted out half-a-dozen scoundrelly voices, and fifty more shots came rattling after me. I was running, running as the
brave stag before the hounds-running as I have done a great number of times before in my life, when there was no help for it but a race.
After I had run about five hundred yards, I saw that I had gained nearly three upon our column in front, and that likewise the Christino horsemen were left behind some hundred yards more, with the exception of three, who were fearfully near me. The first was an officer without a lance; he had fired both his pistols at me, and was twenty yards in advance of his comrades; there was a similar distance between the two lancers who rode behind him. I determined then to wait for No. 1, and as he came up delivered cut 3 at his horse's near leg-off it flew, and down, as I expected, went horse and man. I had hardly time to pass my sword through my prostrate enemy when No. 2 was upon me. If I could but get that fellow's horse, thought I, I am safe, and I executed at once the plan which I hoped was to effect my rescue.
I had, as I said, left the podesta with Sheeny's portmanteau, and, unwilling to part with some of the articles it contained-some shirts, a bottle of whiskey, a few cakes of Windsor soap, &c. &c.—I had carried it thus far on my shoulders, but now was compelled to sacrifice it malgré moi. As the lancer came up, I dropped my sword from my right hand, and hurled the portmanteau at his head with aim so true, that he fell back on his saddle like a sack, and thus, when the horse galloped up to me, I had no difficulty in dismounting the rider—the whiskeybottle struck him over his right eye, and he was completely stunned. To dash him from the saddle and spring myself into it was the work of a moment; indeed, the two combats had taken place in about a fifth part of the time which it has taken the reader to peruse the description. But in the rapidity of the last encounter, and the mounting of my enemy's horse, I had committed a very absurd oversight-I was scampering away without
sword! Which was I to do?-to scamper on, to be sure, and trust to the legs of my horse for safety!
The lancer behind me gained on me every moment, and I could hear his horrid laugh as he neared me. I leaned forward jockey-fashion in my saddle, and kicked, and urged, and flogged with my hand, but all in vain. Closer-closer—the point of his lance was within two feet of my back. Ah! ah! he delivered the point, and fancy my agony when I felt it enter through exactly fifty-nine pages of the “New Monthly Magazine.” Had it not been for “ The New Monthly Magazine and Humorist,” I should have been impaled without a shadow of a doubt. Am I wrong in feeling gratitude ? have I not cause to continue my contributions ?
When I got safe into Morella, along with the tail of the sallying party, I was for the first time made acquainted with the ridiculous result of the lancer's thrust (as he delivered his lance, I must tell you that a ball came whiz over my head from our fellows, and, entering at his pose, put a stop to his lancing for the future). I hastened to Cabrera's quarter, and related to him some of my adventures during the day.
But, General,” said he, you are standing. I beg you' chiudete l'uscio' (take a chair).”
I did so, and then for the first time was aware that there was some foreign substance in the tail of my coat, which prevented my sitting at ease. I drew out the Magazine which I had seized, and there, to my
Nov.-VOL, LIV, NO. ccxv.