Chapter 2947781

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberIX
Chapter Url
Full Date1845-08-06
Page Number4
Word Count2220
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859)
Trove TitleThe Story of a Feather
article text



Ki! SJouglaá Scrrollf.

(A Story from " Pcxcit.")




(Continued from our last)

I soon discovered that their Majesties George the Third and tineen Charlotte bud benevolently consented that their baby should he exhibited to the men and women of England. These tidings had rung like a merry peal of bellsthroughout London, and on the very morning after my exaltation to the Prince of Wnlcs's coronet, crowds were clustering at the gates of the


Here, however, 1 must fain confess to a disappointment. Heilig in the very temple of royalty, I at first indulged in the most extravagant expectations of the moral dignity-the uttered wisdom of the high and fortunate people about mc. I watched Hie king's mouth, as a bride gazes on her wedding casket, rapt -with an assurance of its contained richness. I followed the motions of the Queen, as though, for a time, she had taken leave of the skies, to dazzle and to dignify a benighted planet. Such were my first emotions : but let me be frank ; they were of brief endurance. I very soon discovered his dread majesty to be a mern man who loved mutton for dinner-and the queen from Paradise, a quiet little woman, with a humility so marked

that it disdained not decimal fractions.

And then there were the Lords in Waiting-the Gentlemen of the Bedchamber-the women of the like Elysium-and those doomed, fragile dolls and victims of state-God help them I the Maids of Honour. In the simplicity of my inexperience, I believed all these people to be of another order of flesh mid blood-to possess a more exquisite anatomy-to be refined by the pure and healthful atmosphere of a court into natures above the sordid influences of this nether sphere ; to be, indeed, mid intelligences between men and angels. Must I say it ? I have found the coarse mind of the merest footman in the lacquey peer; and in the Lady of the Bedchamber, the small envy, the petty heartburning of Molly the chambermaid at the Star and Garter. Alas, too I for the Maids of Honour I Hap- less images of ceremony-poor, moving anatomies, with eyes that must not wink, tongues that must not speak ; and, hardest tyranny of all, with mouths that must not yawn at the dull dis- cipline that consumes them. 'I have seen them in the royal presence stand on their throbbing feet, until the blood has vanished from their lips; and had I been a fairy-wand, I would have changed them straight-have bestowed upon them the paradise of u three-legged stool, with a cow to milk and to carol beneath the odour-breathing hawthorn.

If, however, the Maids of Honour affected merely my sympathies, the Ladies in Waiting excited my highest admira- tion. Here, I thought, are women-doting wives and loving mothers-quitting the serene and holy circle of their own hearths-relinquishing for au appointed term the happiness and tenderness of home, to endure a glorifying servitude be- neath the golden yoke of ceremony. Here, at least, 1 thought, is self-devotion : here a noble sacrifice to noble objects-here at once the heroism and the true religion of loyalty.

The Countess Ulushrose was a Lady in Waiting. Provi- dence had expressly fashioned her for the ennobling function. She had some vague notion that there were human creatures awhile race, something higher in the scheme of the world than the mere Hottentot ; but it was also a part of her creed that, like horses and oxen, they were sent for no other purpose to this earth, save for that of ministering in any manner to the will and wish of herself, her friends, and her immediate ac - quaintance. The Countess never neglected her religious

duties, for she had a pew that a Sybarite might have slept fn . and therefore generally once a week seemed to listen to the home-simplicities of the pulpit-of death, and common dust, and common judgment. Nevertheless, it was plain that her ladyship possessed a strength of mind that continued superior to such antique prejudices-hence, to her dying hour, she re- mained an unconverted bearer. The world, the habitable world, to her was composed of about au area of two miles, with St. James's palace for the centre. Any part beyond that boun- dary was, to her, mysterious as the Mogul country ; she looked upon it with the intelligence that possessed the theological opponents of Columbus, when he talked of a new continent : allowing it to exist, and to he once reached, there were certain currents that rendered impossible any return from it. To the Countess Ulushrose, nature herself had written Nee ultra on i the west side of Temple- liar.

The Countess was allowed to be beautiful as the most beautiful -statue; and, save in the presence of tnnjesty, viewed all things unbendingly and with a stony gaze. She seemed to make the atmosphere about her cold by her very looks. She rather appeared an exquisite piece of machinery-an improvement on Maximi- lian's wooden dove and iron fly of old-a wonderful work con- structed and adorned by the laboured ingenuity of man, than a creature warmed by human blood, and sanctified with a human soul. Yet men called her beautiful. Nay, horn a baronet's daughter, she had ow ed her coronet to her creamy cheek and high abstracted gaze. The heart of the Earl of Ulushrose had been led away, it would seem, in chains of ice. He had been frozen into matrimony by the spells of a sorceress ; and, in fluenced by his partner, seemed to his old friends never to have

recovered his natural heat.

At the time of my elevation to Saint James's, the Countess had ouly one day relieved a sister Lady-in-Waiting in her exalted ceremonies. At that time, the Countess had an infant son-Lord Tootle-in the cradle. She was very fond of it_ really, very fond of it ; but then she felt such devotion towards the palace. This truth I afterwards learned from a brief incident. The child was horn weak and puny. " Madam," said the Doctor, " you must nurse this babe yourself."

" How can you talk so ridiculously, Doctor?" said the Coun-


" Indeed, your ladyship, I advise only what is necessary

indispensable," urged the Doctor.

" Necessary I How can 1 submit to such a tie, when there

is the palace to-"

" Well, madam," said the Doctor in conclusion, casting a significant glance at the babe, and then at its mother,-" if you do not nurse the child yourself, my word upon it, 'twill die

die, madam-die."

Whereupon the Countess, gently elevating her eyelids, said -and said only-" Poor thing !"

1 have dwelt thus long upon the character of the Countess lilushrose, as she will be found a somewhat important person in my narrative. Indeed, it was to her that 1 owed my speedy removal from the palace. But of this in due time-let me not


At the opening of this chapter the reader was acquainted With the condescending intention of their Majesties : the Prince of Wales, in his cot or cradle of state, was to be exhi- bited in bib and tucker to his future liege subjects. Every due precaution had been carried out to prevent the too near approxi- mation of the curious vulgar to the resplendent baby : the rockers sat at the cradle within an enclosure at the end of a state-apartment; part of the royal household lined the room, and then units of the world without were suffered to enter at one door, and walking past the cradle, and casting one look for a second was scarcely possible-at the majestic infant, were rapidly conducted out at a door opposite, to the world they had come from ; a world they felt themselves henceforth doomed to gladden with tales of the baby prince,-of the glories of a


It was curiously instructive to watch the beaming counte- nances of tbe happy few who, having elbowed it lustily in the crowd outside-who in the excess of loyalty had thrust and fought their neighbours to catch a look of princely babyhood now arranged their rumpled habits, and tried to conjure serenity to their red and streaming faces. Men and women of nearly all conditions poured along the room, and glanced at that mar- vellous baby. Tbe only court attire commanded for the event was decent cleanliness-in very truth (if history be anything,)

not always palace wear.

i, Greet wa» the veneration paid to the Prince t Men, whom I afterwards recognised in the world, came to look their homage lo ta« all-excelling infant; men, wbo with red wine on their tata*, mad ibeir knees at tbe Christmas fire, would with barred and bolted door bear the starved orphan wail the Christian cart>t io the frozen street ; men, .with hearts close as their robs, feit'tWsiatd hearts marvellously touched and melted when they léiieà upon the Prince 1 How deep, how exceeding their

sympathy for baby helplessness hedged about by palace guards, -how beautiful, how touchingly beautiful, is infancy bora to

dominion whereon "the sun sets not]"

And there were other lookers-honest, simple souls, who i with a hurried, almost fearfui glance at baby royalty, felt them- selves richer for their coming lives. They had seen things called babies before, but the Prince was a blessing-a glory in lace, only for the first time vouchsafed to the world.

Some trod the palace floor as though they feared to hear their own breath : had their shoes creaked, it was plain they

must have fainted.

Others again, looked anxiously, fearfully about them, as though, like men in an Indian wood, they feared some wild beast, with death in its jaws, to spring out upon them. Many of these-I watched them-never saw the Prince at all. They approached the cradle puntingly, but urged on by the atten- dants, passed it ere they could call up courage to look upon the daszling glory within.

I was thus contemplating the various characters of the crowd, when I beheld a face I thought, not wholly strange to me. After a minute, 1 recognized the visitor: it was my first acquaintance in England, Shadwell Jacobs, the old Jew of the Miñones. Having that day washed himself, it was difficult for any one to detect the Hebrew dealer through the strange disguise. Washed, however, he had been,-washed and drest in black and buckles, as though he hud been going to court at the New Jerusalem. Ile hobbled past the cradle, gazing with his raven eye, which kindled sparklingly, but whether at the babe or the lace that half smothered it, I leave to be divined by

the genii of Solomon's brazen kettles.

immediately following the Jew came Miriam, his voluminous daughter. Great was her beauty, but greater still her strength ; else, how at her enrs, her neck, wrists, and fingers, could she have borne the many trophies of her victories bought hy sailors' wages out of goldsmiths' cases ? Miriam was there ; hut where was Jack Lipscomb? Where was my first English friend? Alas I sick, perilously sick on an outward-bound voyage. Poor Jack was in his hammock. No matter. Tom Dracely of

"The Good Intent" went with ¡Miriam to St. James's.

Thus, seeing an old acquaintance, my thoughts went to Patty Butler. " Will she," I asked myself, " be here ?" Then I looked hopefully about me. Another minute, and I saw_not Patty-but her smug emp'oyer, Mr. Flamingo, with Mrs. Flamingo beside him-both gazing about them, joyous as spirits new lo Paradise. Though Flamingo was loyal to the veiy nails, his visit was not paid only to the infant Prince. No ; feathers had something to do at the tradesman's heart, and he came-kindly bringing his wife with him-lo behold the exaltation of his ware. I could sec him look up at myself and two companions, as if he felt the soul of the Prince was then in the white plumes, and nowhere else; as if the dignity of the Prince would have been naked as a day-old sparrow, but for the feathers, which were-in Flamingo's mind-its natural clothing.

With these feelings Flamingo approached the cradle, and Flamingo's evil spirit kept close at his skirts.

The Prince of Wales lins fallen fast asleep. Flamingo advances to look his homage. He is as close as ceremony per- mits his advance ; when some demon in the air tickles his nos- trils, for the feather-merchant stands fixed, throws his head back, and explodes in the loudest sneeze that ever profaned the

roof-tree of a palace.

As Flamingo sneezed, the Prince of Wales, startled bv the noise, woke-und waking, roared most lustily. The baby of a bacon-fed ploughman never yelled in higher pitch.

Flamingo «vas about to pray that the floor would open and swallow him. Ere, however, he could frame his petition, he was hurried to the door by the attendants ; further admission was denied to thronging sight-seers ; and for that day (and all owing to the untowardness of a sneeze,) the exhibition was


(To lo continued.)