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" Twelve or fifteen miles off, Mr. Pelham,” said my aunt; “ depend upon it, he is going to the christening: he is a great friend " of Caroline's. Lord Carwinton's did she say? I am not surprised “ at that, he has very fashionable acquaintance. Look at Blessingley, “ Kate, isn't it a pretty place? Capital gardens you see, and every “ kind of luxury."
It was a comfortable looking place, certainly, but not otherwise remarkable, though my aunt dwelt with emphasis on its perfections, for a mile or two. She was stopt by the men suddenly checking the horses to make way for a carriage that was driving furiously down a cross lane into the public road. It was only a gig, containing two gentlemen muffled up to their eyes in cloaks, furs, and neckcloths. They bowed slightly as they passed.
“ God bless my soul,” exclaimed my aunt, “ is not that the road “ from Lord Carwinton's, Mr. Pelham? To be sure it is, and that's “ the colonel, I knew him directly. Stop,” cried she to the servant, letting down the glass hastily, and leaning out she bowed most complacently to the hedge.
“ My dear,” said my uncle quietly, “ I don't think that's the “ colonel.”
“ But, my dear,” returned my aunt, “ I am sure it is. Didn't you see how intimately he bowed ?" “ But he never travels in a gig,” said my uncle.
« Oh dear, “ yes! he does, Mr. Pelham. Don't you remember he came to us, “ in the summer, in a gig--a green gig. Joseph, was that a green “ gig?” called my aunt, thrusting her head a second time out of the window.
“ I don't know, I'm sure, ma'am," answered Joseph, touching his hat. “ Didn't you
look ?" “ No, ma'am, I did not,” replied Joseph again with equal ceremony.
“ That man never sees any thing, I believe," said my aunt, pulling up the glass with a jerk. “ It's very odd that some people “ make no sort of use of their eyes: however, I am quite convinced “ that was the colonel: I know his fur cap. I wish we could find “out: it's so disagreeable not to be certain. I am quite sure be is
going to Caroline's, that's the road. How many miles did the
woman at the Lodge say, Kate? Twelve or fifteen, wasn't it? “ Exactly the distance you know, Mr. Pelbam. Very odd he should “ have been so near and never called on us. I declare,” continued she, putting her head out again from the side window,
is there they are, before us still! a good way on! They will just be hurrying “ forward to rest their horses at the Nag's Head.”
The Nag's Head was a public house in a small village, about half way between the regular stages. My aunt stopped there to get change. As she drew her long purse from her pocket, she looked eagerly round for the gig, but the yard was quite empty.
“ How tiresome!exclaimed she, “ I'm sure I thought they took
“ this road. Pray, Mr. Hodson, wasn't there a gig went by just now “ -a green gig. - with two gentlemen in it very much muffled up?"
• There might, indeed, ma'am, I was in the stable and didn't see. Thomas, Thomas Hostler! was there ever a gig passed within “ this few minutes ?”
“ My dear," said my uncle, “ how can you make yourself so " ridiculous. What does it signify ?"
“ A green gig with two gentlemen in military cloaks?" screamed out Thomas Hostler.
There, now, Mr. Pelham, military cloaks,” said my aunt, nodding wisely to my uncle, and setting herself more comfortably in her seat.
“ Yes, ma'am,” said Mr. Hodson, “the gentlemen stopt a' minute just to water their horses, and went on again directly."
“ Thank you, Mr. Hodson. Just the people we saw, my dear,” pursued my aunt, half appealing to my uncle. “Go on.” As she spoke, the noise of wheels approached us, and, before we could any of us utter a single exclamation, the green gig passed again. Again the two gentlemen bowed.
“ There, look you out at this window, Kate. Oh! you don't “ know him. Out at that window Mr. Pelham-quick. Is it the “ colonel or not? I really begin to believe it can't be he. Where “ in the world can they have been? Through all the cross-roads in " the country, I suppose. It's a very extraordinary thing. Joseph ! “ do you think that's the colonel now?"
No, ma'am, I don't indeed; I didn't see no sabre cut over the “ gentleman's left heye; and I looked pretty sharp too."
My aunt threw herself back upon the seat : “ Well! it is the strangest adventure !"
“ As good as the stout gentleman," said my uncle;“ isn't it, my “ dear? But I hope, for your satisfaction, it will end more tangibly."
“Oh dear no, uncle,” said I; “it would spoil the whole plot if " the colonel were ever to appear.
He should be like Antony " • White'-always invisible."
“ I'm not at all clear, now,” said my aunt, gravely, “ that it's “ he at all.”
“ Nor I," said my uncle.
“ Yet they bowed,” continued my aunt. “ They must be going “ to the christening, however, whoever they are. We shall soon
see, the road divides at the next mile-stone. « I declare," pur“ sued she, looking intently at the wheel tracks; “ I declare they “ have taken the right road; they have indeed : I can trace the fresh " marks quite plain."
Even my uncle was roused by this, and leaning out, he strained bis eyes over the snowy path." Good, Mary, I believe you're right. “ If it should be the colonel after all !”.
“ Why you may depend upon it Caroline would invite him ; “ take my word for it be will be there. See now, Mr. Pelham, you
may track them all the way as plain as possible. Look !"
Out went my aunt's head; out went my uncle's. I was almost frozen between them. Luckily, a minute or two brought us to the town where we were to change horses. There were two capital inns in it. Would the gig, or would it not, choose the same that we did ? How my aunt applauded herself, when, on arriving at the Black Lion, we saw it standing at the door!
“ Get out, Mr. Pelham,” cried she quickly: get out for a “ moment, and look what cypher is upon the pannel. I can see two “ letters from hert.”
“ J. S.”
“ Nonsense ! it must be a mistake, or they've borrowed one. “ Ask the landlord their names, can't you? He must know some“ thing about them. You see they're stopping. We've plenty of “ time: we've only five short miles to go.”
My good-natured uncle obeyed; but he returned with very melancholy intelligence : The gig had brought two gentlemen, the landlord did not know from where, to look at a horse of Sir Richard Bridges', which was for sale at his stables, and he did not think they meant to go any further this night. We were all thunderstruck. Even I, after the military cloaks had had my romance about the adventure, and my uncle, under all his calm exterior, had fully entered into the spirit of the affair. It was a very dull five miles from the post town, and we none of us arrived in the best of humours at our journey's end. We were immediately shown into our rooms to dress. I was proceeding very leisurely in the business, when the sound of rapid wheels drew me to the window. I could hardly believe my eyes. Standing at the door, surrounded by servants, in the act of unpacking its various conveniencies, was the identical dark green gig. I ran as quickly as possible to my aunt's room, that she might hear, without a moment's loss, this interesting piece of news; but she was dressed, and gone down stairs. There was a great bustle in the hall, and loud and merry voices reached me, as I returned along the gallery to my own apartment. I left it as expeditiously as I could, yet I found I was about the last to enter the spacious drawing
It was full of company, and quite a crowd was round my aunt, who seemed to be in her highest spirits.
“ Oh, Miss Osborne,” said a tall young man, with dark eyes and mustachios, advancing gaily to meet me,“ who do you think “ were in the gig? Dr. Scott, who is to christen my little niece, and “ Colonel Hill."
As the day-god sbines to set,
Gladden but to bring regret.
All who cheer the passing day,
When the spoiler claims his prey.
THE LITTLE UNKNOWN."
“ There be more things in Heav'n and Earth, Horatio,
“ That's his sign,
In so curious an age as the present, I wonder to have met with no orderly treatise on signs, which, in my opinion, would yield matter for a science, as particular and important as heraldry. Of the Virtuosos, who, at one time or another, have made collections of every thing, either in coins and medals, or statues and paintings, none, in my knowledge, have ever made a collection of signs ; and yet, I cannot see why a man should not take as much pleasure in possessing the sign of the Boar's Head, at Eastcheap, as did Don Quixote in wearing the helmet of Mambrino.
The only reason apparent to me, why the curious and painstaking have never essayed this unexplored region of science, is the general acquaintance which such an attempt requires, with the arts and sciences already invented. As, for instance, who could presume to pronounce upon the sign of the Square and the Compasses, and other insignia of Masonry, so frequently met with, but an adept in that occult art, and one that had devoted many of his nights to the labors of the “ Lodge?" or what Signologist could determine with authority, the square, the circular, the globular, and all the other figures to be seen suspended from a sign post, or over a shop door, and prescribe the just dimensions of each ; or lay down by demonstration how many semi-diameters of a barber's pole, should be equal to its height, unless he had first mastered Vitruvius, and was possessed of the five orders of Grecian architecture, together with the gothic, and could tell at first sight what was Hypathral, and what Peripteral? Thus, painting, and poetry, and sculpture, and cabinet-making, are, as it were, the handmaids of Significature; with all of whom one must make interest and be in favor, to get an introduction to their mistress. A sign, therefore, may be considered the proper field of the fine arts, wherein they expatiate freely and at large, running out into pleasing vagaries, and easily sliding into new forms and combinations, as being nearer to, and more assisted by nature, the inexhaustible repository of all things. For instance, in one direction you may see bis grace the Duke of Wellington, represented with a very marshal aspect, and in full costume, and over the next door to him, the god Bacchus, a fat little nudity, astride on a wine cask; while, in another, some window presents you with a Chinese woman, whose head wags instead of her tongue, 'replying, as it were, to the grin of a naked VOL. II.
black boy on the opposite side of the way, who exhibits himself to the public at the shop door, and preserves his decency with an apron of tobacco leaves. Î'hese latter belong to the statuary department of Signology, and have their full meaning, though the generality are in painting, presenting you with a variety of landscapes, animals, and objects, which have all their particular applications in their various images or devices. Some signs are accompanied by inscriptions, which either are kindly intended as expositions of their mystery, in the manner of the artist who wrote under his sign, “ this is a lion," or as morals suggested by their metaphors, or rather as running commentaries on painted ideas. In this department of literature, therefore, an author is sure of being concise without being obscure ; and, if a poet, his golden verses will be read by the passing generation, without the possibility in an after day of decorating wrapping paper, or the lining of trunks.
The sign, in my opinion, is a “ quoddam vinculum" of the Fine Arts, where they are all tied together, and hung up for the world to look at; and sometimes it is even an instrument of music, when it hangs before an inn door, on the brow of a high hill, and is swinging and creaking in a November wind, when the clouds muster and presage a storm ; at such time its two hinges discourse sweet music to the traveller's ear.
It is plain, therefore, that one cannot be a master and professor of this science, or, in other words, a Signologist, that is not generally skilled in the several arts which it assembles together; and this may be the reason, as before surmised, why no one has essayed to handle and explain it; for myself, I propose no such thing, since, if I took upon me to pretend to the requisite qualifications which my modesty forbids, yet, my reveries and castle-building, and other observations, do not leave me sufficient leisure, to afford what I consider the profundity of the subject, a fair investigation. But, in my daily ranging abont, among things knowable and unknowable, and seeking out this object and that for my present amusement, till it is discharged of its office, and I light upon another, I sometimes turn my thoughts to a consideration of this subject, and, I confess, on many occasions, it has rendered me information, not less curious and amusing than one sometimes meets with in ancient history or travels.
Moreover, my reader must be aware that it is the diurnal practice of the “ Little Unknown,” (and which I consider to be a part of his business,) to take a stroll through the principal thoroughfares of our magnificent Metropolis for the purpose of public observation. Say, at the present time, between the hours of four and six, when be mingles as one in the countless throngs which pour along the pavement, but with a slower and steadier step, a sedate countenance, though a lively eye, and with a slight person in a black frock-coat, his right hand (from an ugly habit of childhood) suspended by his thumb from the second button. Now in his perambulations and vicambulations, among other things, he must principally take notice of signs, which, with the goods displayed about the windows and