Chapter 4





Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine,
And thrice again, to make up nine

Macbeth.


Baffling and light airs kept the Winkelried a long time nearly stationary,
and it was only by paying the greatest attention to trimming the sails and
to all the little minutiæ of the waterman's art that the vessel was
worked into the eastern horn of the crescent, as the sun touched the hazy
line of the Jura. Here the wind tailed entirely, the surface of the lake
becoming as glassy and smooth as a mirror, and further motion, for the
time at least, was quite out of the question. The crew, perceiving the
hopelessness of their exertions, and fatigued with the previous toil,
threw themselves among the boxes and bales, and endeavored to catch a
little sleep, in anticipation of the north breeze, which, at this season
of the year, usually blew from the shores of Vaud within an hour or two of
the disappearance of the sun.

The deck of the bark was now left to the undisputed possession of her
passengers. The day had latterly been sultry, for the season, the even
water having cast back the hot rays in fierce reflection, and, as evening
drew on, a refreshing coolness came to relieve the densely packed and
scorching travellers. The effect of such a change was like that which
would have been observed among a flock of heavily fleeced sheep, which,
after gasping for breath beneath trees and hedges, during the time of the
sun's power, are seen scattering over their pastures to feed, or to play
their antics, as a grateful shade succeeds to cool their panting sides.

Baptiste, as is but too apt to be the case with men possessed of brief
authority, during the day had mercilessly played the tyrant with all the
passengers that were beneath the privileged degrees, more than once
threatening to come to extremities with several, who had betrayed
restlessness under the restraint and suffering of their unaccustomed
situation. Perhaps there is no man who feels less for the complaints of
the novice than your weather-beaten and hardened mariner; for,
familiarized to the suffering and confinement of a vessel, and at liberty
himself to seek relief in his duties and avocations, he can scarcely enter
into the privations and embarrassments of those to whom all is so new and
painful. But, in the patron of the Winkelried, there existed a natural in
difference to the grievances of others, and a narrow selfishness of
disposition, in aid of the opinions which had been formed by a life of
hardship and exposure. He considered the vulgar passenger as so much
troublesome freight, which, while it brought the advantage of a higher
remuneration than the same cubic measurement of inanimate matter, had the
unpleasant drawback of volition and motion. With this general tendency to
bully and intimidate, the wary patron had, however, made a silent
exception in favor of the Italian, who has introduced himself to the
reader by the ill-omened name of Il Maledetto, or the accursed. This
formidable personage had enjoyed a perfect immunity from the effects of
Baptiste's tyranny, which he had been able to establish by a very simple
and quiet process. Instead of cowering at the fierce glance, or recoiling
at the rude remonstrances of the churlish patron, he had chosen his time,
when the latter was in one of his hottest ebullitions of anger, and when
maledictions and menaces flowed out of his mouth in torrents, coolly to
place himself on the very spot that the other had proscribed, where he
maintained his ground with a quietness and composure which it might have
been difficult to say was more to be imputed to extreme ignorance, or to
immeasurable contempt. At least so reasoned the spectators; some thinking
that the stranger meant to bring affairs to a speedy issue by braving the
patron's fury, and others charitably inferring that he knew no better. But
thus did not Baptiste reason himself. He saw by the calm eye and resolute
demeanor of his passenger that he himself, his pretended professional
difficulties, his captiousness, and his threats, were alike despised; and
he shrank from collision with such a spirit, precisely on the principle
that the intimidated among the rest of the travellers shrunk from a
contest with his own. From this moment Il Maledetto, or, as he was called
by Baptiste him self, who it would appear had some knowledge of his
person, Maso, became as completely the master of his own movements, as if
he had been one of the more honored in the stern of the bark, or even her
patron. He did not abuse his advantage, however, rarely quitting the
indicated station near his own effects, where he had been mainly content
to repose in listless indolence, like the others, dozing away the minutes.

But the scene was now altogether changed. The instant the wrangling,
discontented, and unhappy, because disappointed, patron, confessed his
inability to reach his port before the coming of the expected
night-breeze, and threw himself on a bale, to conceal his dissatisfaction
in sleep, head arose after head from among the pile of freight, and body
after body followed the nobler member, until the whole mass was alive with
human beings. The invigorating coolness, the tranquil hour, the prospect
of a safe if not a speedy arrival, and the relief from excessive
weariness, produced a sudden and agreeable re-action in the feelings of
all. Even the Baron de Willading and his friends, who had shared in none
of the especial privations just named, joined in the general exhibition of
satisfaction and good-will, rather aiding by their smiles and affability
than restraining by their presence the whims and jokes of the different
individuals among the motley group of their nameless companions.

The aspect and position of the bark, as well as the prospects of those on
board as they were connected with their arrival, now deserve to be more
particularly mentioned. The manner in which the vessel was loaded to the
water's edge has already been more than once alluded to. The whole of the
centre of the broad deck, a portion of the Winkelried which, owing to the
over-hanging gangways, possessed, in common with all the similar craft of
the Leman, a greater width than is usual in vessels of the same tonnage
elsewhere, was so cumbered with freight as barely to leave a passage to
the crew, forward and aft, by stepping among the boxes and bales that were
piled much higher than their own heads. A little vacant space was left
near the stern, in which it was possible for the party who occupied that
part of the deck to move, though in sufficiently straitened limits, while
the huge tiller played in its semicircle behind. At the other extremity,
as is absolutely necessary in all navigation, the forecastle was
reasonably clear, though even this important part of the deck was
bristling with the flukes of no less than nine anchors that lay in a row
across its breadth, the wild roadsteads of this end of the lake rendering
such a provision of ground-tackle absolutely indispensable to the safety
of every craft that ventured into its eastern horn. The effect of the
whole, seen as it was in a state of absolute rest, was to give to the
Winkelried the appearance of a small mound in the midst of the water, that
was crowded with human beings, and seemingly so incorporated with the
element oh which it floated as to grow out of its bosom; an image that the
fancy was not slow to form, aided as it was by the reflection of the mass
that the unruffled lake threw back from its mirror-like face, as perfectly
formed, as unwieldy, and nearly as distinct, as the original. To this
picture of a motionless rock, or island, the spars, sails, and high,
pointed beak, however, formed especial exceptions. The yards hung, as
seamen term it, a cockbill, or in such negligent and picturesque positions
as an artist would most love to draw, while the drapery of the canvass was
suspended in graceful and spotless festoons, as it had fallen by chance,
or been cast carelessly from the hands of the boatmen. The beak, or prow,
rose in its sharp gallant stem, resembling the stately neck of a swan,
slightly swerving from its direction, or inclining in a nearly
imperceptible sweep, as the hull yielded to the secret influence of the
varying currents.

When the teeming pile of freight, therefore, began so freely to bring
forth, and traveller after traveller left his wallet, there was no great
space found in which they could stretch their wearied limbs, or seek the
change they needed. But suffering is a good preparative for pleasure, and
there is no sweetner of liberty like previous confinement. Baptiste was no
sooner heard to snore, than the whole hummock of cargo was garnished with
upright bodies and stretching arms and legs, as mice are known to steal
from their holes during the slumbers of their mortal enemy, the cat.

The reader has been made sufficiently acquainted with the moral
composition of the Winkelried's living freight, in the opening chapter. As
it had undergone no other alteration than that produced by lassitude, he
is already prepared, therefore, to renew his communications with its
different members, all of whom were well disposed to show off in their
respective characters, the moment they were favored with an opportunity.
The mercurial Pippo, as he had been the most difficult to restrain during
the day, was the first to steal from his lair, now that the Argus-like
eyes of Baptiste permitted the freedom, and the exhilarating, coolness of
the sunset invited action. His success emboldened others, and, ere long,
the buffoon had an admiring audience around him, that was well-disposed to
laugh at his witticisms, and to applaud all his practical jokes. Gaining
courage as he proceeded, the buffoon gradually went from liberty to
liberty, until he was at length triumphantly established on what might be
termed an advanced spur of the mountain formed by the tubs of Nicklaus
Wagner, in the regular exercise of his art; while a crowd of amused and
gaping spectators clustered about him, peopling every eminence of the
height, and even invading the more privileged deck in their eagerness to
see and to admire.

Though frequently reduced by adverse fortune to the lowest shifts of his
calling, such as the horse-play of Policinello, and the imitation of
uncouth sounds, that resembled nothing either in heaven or earth, Pippo
was a clever knave in his way, and was quite equal to a display of the
higher branches of his art, whenever chance gave him an audience capable
of estimating his qualities. On the present occasion he was obliged to
address himself both to the polished and to the unpolished; for the
proximity of their position, as well as a good-natured readiness to lend
themselves to fooleries that were so agreeable to most around them, had
brought the more gentle portion of the passengers within the influence of
his wit.

"And now, illustrissimi signori," continued the wily juggler, after having
drawn a burst of applause by one of his happiest hits in a sleight-of-hand
exhibition, "I come to the most imposing and the most mysterious part of
my knowledge--that of looking into the future, and of foretelling events.
If there are any among you who would wish to know how long they are to eat
the bread of toil, let them come to me; if there is a youth that wishes
to learn whether the heart of his mistress is made of flesh or of stone--a
maiden that would see into a youth's faith and constancy, while her long
eyelashes cover her sight like a modest silken veil--or a noble, that
would fain have an insight into the movements of his rivals at court or
council, let them all put their questions to Pippo, who has an answer
ready for each, and an answer so real, that the most expert among the
listeners will be ready to swear that a lie from his mouth is worth more
than truth from that of another man."

"He that would gain credit for knowledge of the future," gravely observed
the Signor Grimaldi, who had listened to his countryman's voluble eulogium
on his own merits with a good-natured laugh, "had best commence by showing
his familiarity with the past. Who and what is he that speaks to thee, as
a specimen of thy skill in sooth-saying?"

"His eccellenza is more than he seems, less than he deserves to be, and as
much as any present. He hath an old and a prized friend at his elbow; hath
come because it was his pleasure, to witness the games at Vévey--will
depart for the same reason, when they are over, and will seek his home at
his leisure--not like a fox stealing into his hole, but as the stately
ship sails, gallantly, and by the light of the sun, into her haven."

"This will never do, Pippo," returned the good-humoured old noble; "at
need I might equal this myself. Thou shouldst relate that which is less
probable, while it is more true."

"Signore, we prophets like to sleep in whole skins. If it be your
eccellenza's pleasure and that of your noble company to listen to the
truly wonderful, I will tell some of these honest people matters touching
their own interests that they do not know themselves, and yet it shall be
as clear to every body else as the sun in the heavens at noon-day."

"Thou wilt, probably, tell them their faults?"

"Your eccellenza has a right to my place, for no prophet could have better
divined my intention;" answered the laughing knave. "Come nearer, friend,"
he added, beckoning to the Bernois; "thou art Nicklaus Wagner, a fat
peasant of the great canton, and a warm husbandman, that fancies he has a
title to the respect of all he meets because some one among his fathers
bought a right in the bürgerschaft. Thou hast a large stake in the
Winkelried, and art at this moment thinking what punishment is good enough
for an impudent soothsayer who dares dive so unceremoniously into the
secrets of so warm a citizen, while all around thee wish thy cheeses had
never left the dairy, to the discomfort of our limbs and to the great
detriment of the bark's speed."

This sally at the expense of Nicklaus drew a burst of merriment from the
listeners; for the selfish spirit he had manifested throughout the day had
won little favor with a majority of his fellow travellers, who had all the
generous propensities that are usually so abundant among those who have
little or nothing to bestow, and who were by this time so well disposed to
be merry that much less would have served to stimulate their mirth.

"Wert thou the owner of this good freight friend, thou might find its
presence less uncomfortable than thou now appearest to think," returned
the literal peasant, who had no humour for raillery, and to whom a jest on
the subject of property had that sort of irreverend character that popular
opinion and holy sayings have attached to waste. "The cheeses are well
enough where they find themselves; if thou dislikest their company thou
hast the alternative of the water."

"A truce between us, worshipful burgher! and let our skirmish end in
something that may be useful to both. Thou hast that which would be
acceptable to me, and I have that which no owner of cheeses would refuse,
did he know the means by which it might be come at honestly."

Nicklaus growled a few words of distrust and indifference, but it was
plain that the ambiguous language of the juggler, as usual, had succeeded
in awakening interest. With the affectation of a mind secretly conscious
of its own infirmity, he pretended to be indifferent to what the other
professed a readiness to reveal, while with the rapacity of a grasping
spirit he betrayed a longing to know more.

"First I will tell thee," said Pippo, with a parade of good-nature, "that
thou deservest to remain in ignorance, as a punishment of thy pride and
want of faith; but it is the failing of your prophet to let that be known
which he ought to conceal. Thou flatterest thyself this is the fattest
cargo of cheeses that will cross the Swiss waters this season, on their
way to an Italian market? Shake not thy head.--'Tis useless to deny it to
a man of my learning!"

"Nay, I know there are others as heavy, and, it may be, as good; but this
has the advantage of being the first, a circumstance that is certain to
command a price."

"Such is the blindness of one that nature sent on earth to deal in
cheeses!"--The Herr Von Willading and his friends smiled among themselves
at the cool impudence of the mountebank--"Thou fanciest it is so; and at
this moment, a heavily laden bark is driving before a favorable gale, near
the upper end of the lake of the four cantons, while a long line of mules
is waiting at Flüellen, to bear its freight by the paths of the St.
Gothard, to Milano and other rich markets of the south. In virtue of my
secret power, I see that, in despite of all thy cravings, it will arrive
before thine."

Nicklaus fidgeted, for the graphic particularity of Pippo almost led him
to believe the augury might be true.

"Had this bark sailed according to our covenant," he said, with a
simplicity that betrayed his uneasiness, "the beasts bespoken by me would
now be loading at Villeneuve; and, if there be justice in Vaud, I shall
hold Baptiste responsible for any disadvantage that may come of the
neglect."

"Luckily, the generous Baptiste is asleep," returned Pippo, "or we might
hear objections to this scheme. But, Signiori, I see you are satisfied
with this insight into the character of the warm peasant of Berne, who, to
say truth, has not much to conceal from us, and I will turn my searching
looks into the soul of this pious pilgrim, the reverend Conrado, whose
unction may well go near to be a leaven sufficient to lighten all in the
bark of their burthens of backslidings. Thou earnest the penitence and
prayers of many sinners, besides some merchandise of this nature of thine
own."

"I am bound to Loretto, with the mental offerings of certain Christians,
who are too much occupied with their daily concerns to make the journey in
person," answered the pilgrim, who never absolutely threw aside his
professional character, though he cared in general so little about his
hypocrisy being known. "I am poor, and humble of appearance, but I have
seen miracles in my day!"

"If any trust valuable offerings to thy keeping, thou art a living miracle
in thine own person! I can foresee that thou wilt bear nought else beside
aves."

"Nay, I pretend to deal in little more. The rich and great, they that
send vessels of gold and rich dresses to Our Lady, employ their own
favorite messengers; I am but the bearer of prayer and the substitute for
the penitent. The sufferings that I undergo in the flesh are passed to the
credit of my employers, who get the benefit of my aches and pains. I
pretend to be no more than their go-between, as yonder manner has so
lately called me."

Pippo turned suddenly, following the direction of the other's eye, and
cast a glance at the self-styled Il Maledetto. This individual, of all
the common herd, had alone forborne to join the gaping and amused crowd
near the juggler. His forbearance, or want of curiosity, had left him in
the quiet possession of the little platform that was made by the stowage
of the boxes, and he now stood on the summit of the pile, conspicuous by
his situation and mein, the latter being remarkable for its unmoved
calmness, heightened by the understanding manner that is so peculiar to a
seaman when afloat."

"Wilt thou have the history of thy coming perils, friend mariner?" cried
the mercurial mountebank: "A journal of thy future risks and tempests to
amuse you in this calm? Such a picture of sea-monsters and of coral that
grows in the ocean's caverns, where mariners sleep, that shall give thee
the night-mare for months, and cause thee to dream of wrecks and bleached
bones for the rest of thy life? Thou hast only to wish it, to have the
adventures of thy next voyage laid before thee, like a map."

"Thou would'st gain more credit with me, as one cunning in thy art, by
giving the history of the last."

"The request is reasonable, and thou shalt have it: for I love the bold
adventurer that trusts himself hardily upon the great deep;" answered the
unabashed Pippo. "My first lessons in necromancy were received on the mole
of Napoli, amid burly Inglesi, straight-nosed Greeks, swarthy Sicilians,
and Maltese with spirits as fine as the gold of their own chains. This was
the school in which I learned to know my art, and an apt scholar I proved
in all that touches the philosophy and humanity of my craft. Signore, thy
palm?"

Maso spread his sinewy hand in the direction of the juggler, without
descending from his elevation, and in a way to show that, while he would
not balk the common humor, he was superior to the gaping wonder and
childish credulity of most of those who watched the result. Pippo affected
to stretch out his neck, in order to study the hard and dark lines, and
then he resumed his revelations, like one perfectly satisfied with what he
had discovered.

"The hand is masculine, and has been familiar with many friends in its
time. It hath dealt with steel, and cordage, and saltpetre, and most of
all with gold. Signori, the true seat of a man's digestion lies in the
palm of his hand; if that is free to give and to receive, he will never
have a costive conscience, for of all damnable inconveniences that afflict
mortals, that of a conscience that will neither give up nor take is the
heaviest curse. Let a man have as much sagacity as shall make him a
cardinal, if it get entangled in the meshes of one of your unyielding
consciences, ye shall see him a mendicant brother to his dying day; let
him be born a prince with a close-ribbed opinion of this sort, and he had
better have been born a beggar, for his reign will be like a river from
which the current sets outward, without any return. No, my friends, a palm
like this of Maso's is a favorable sign, since it hinges on a pliant will,
that will open and shut like a well-formed eye, or the jacket of a
shell-fish, at its owner's pleasure. Thou hast drawn near to many a port
before this of Vévey, after the sun has fallen low, Signor Maso!"

"In that I have taken a seaman's chances, which depend more on the winds
than on his own wishes."

"Thou esteemest the bottom of the craft in which thou art required to
sail, as far more important than her ancient. Thou hast an eye for a keel,
but none for color; unless, indeed, as it may happen to be convenient to
seem that thou art not."

"Nay, Master Soothsayer, I suspect thee to be an officer of some of the
Holy Brotherhoods, sent in this guise to question us poor travellers to
our ruin!" answered Maso. "I am, what thou seest, but a poor mariner that
hath no better bark under him than this of Baptiste, and on a sea no
larger than a Swiss lake."

"Shrewdly observed," said Pippo, winking to those near him, though he so
little liked the eye and bearing of the other that he was not sorry to
turn to some new subject. "But what matters it, Signori, to be speaking of
the qualities of men! We are all alike, honorable, merciful, more disposed
to help others than to help ourselves, and so little given to selfishness,
that nature has been obliged to supply every mother's son of us with a
sort of goad, that shall be constantly pricking us on to look after our
own interests. Here are animals whose dispositions are less understood,
and we will bestow a useful minute in examining their qualities. Reverend
Augustine, this mastiff of thine is named Uberto?"

"He is known by that appellation throughout the cantons and their allies.
The fame of the dog reaches even to Turin and to most of the towns in the
plain of Lombardy."

"Now, Signori, you perceive that this is but a secondary creature in the
scale of animals. Do him good and he will be grateful; do him harm, and he
will forgive. Feed him, and he is satisfied. He will travel the paths of
the St. Bernard, night and day, to do credit to his training, and when the
toil is ended, all he asks is just as much meat as will keep the breath
within his ribs. Had heaven given Uberto a conscience and greater wit, the
first might have shown him the impiety of working for travellers on holy
days and festas, while the latter would be apt to say he was a fool for
troubling himself about the safety of others at all."

"And yet his masters, the good Augustines themselves, do not hold so
selfish a creed!" observed Adelheid.

"Ah! they have heaven in view! I cry the reverend Augustine's pardon--but,
lady, the difference is in the length of the calculation. Woe's me,
brethren; I would that my parents had educated me for a bishop, or a
viceroy, or some other modest employment, that this learned craft of mine
might have fallen into better hands! Ye would lose in instruction, but I
should be removed from the giddy heights of ambition, and die at last with
some hopes of being a saint. Fair lady, thou travellest on a bootless
errand, if I know the reason that tempts thee to cross the Alps at this
late season of the year."

This sudden address caused both Adelheid and her father to start, for, in
despite of pride and the force of reason, it is seldom that we can
completely redeem our opinions from the shackles of superstition, and that
dread of the unseen future which appears to have been entailed upon our
nature, as a ceaseless monitor of the eternal state of being to which all
are hastening, with steps so noiseless and yet so sure. The countenance of
the maiden changed, and she turned a quick, involuntary glance at her
anxious parent, as if to note the effect of this rude announcement on him
before she answered.

"I go in quest of the blessing, health," she said, "and I should be sorry
to think thy prognostic likely to be realized. With youth, a good
constitution, and tender friends of my side, there is reason to think thou
mayest, in this at least, prove a false prophet."

"Lady, hast thou hope?"

Pippo ventured this question as he had adventured his opinion; that is to
say, recklessly, pretendingly, and with great indifference to any effect
it might have, except as it was likely to establish his reputation with
the crowd. Still, it would seem, that by one of those singular
coincidences that are hourly occurring in real life, he had unwittingly
touched a sensitive chord in the system of his fair fellow-traveller. Her
eyes sank to the deck at this abrupt question, the color again stole to
her polished temples, and the least practised in the emotions of the sex
might have detected painful embarrassment in her mein. She was, however,
spared the awkwardness of a reply, by the unexpected and prompt
interference of Maso.

"Hope is the last of our friends to prove recreant," said this mariner,
"else would the cases of many in company be bad enough, thine own
included, Pippo; for, judging by the outward signs, the Swabian campaign
has not been rich in spoils."

"Providence has ordered the harvests of wit much as it has ordered the
harvests of the field," returned the juggler, who felt the sarcasm of the
other's remark with all the poignancy that it could derive from truth;
since, to expose his real situation, he was absolutely indebted to an
extraordinary access of generosity in Baptiste, for his very passage
across the Leman. "One year, thou shall find the vineyard dripping liquors
precious as diamonds, while, the next, barrenness shall make it its seat.
To-day the peasant will complain that poverty prevents him from building
the covering necessary to house his crops, while to-morrow he will be
heard groaning over empty garners. Abundance and famine travel the earth
hard upon each other's heels, and it is not surprising that he who lives
by his wits should sometimes fail of his harvest, as well as he who lives
by his hands."

"If constant custom can secure success, the pious Conrad should be
prosperous," answered Maso, "for, of all machinery, that of sin is the
least seldom idle. His trade at least can never fail for want of
employers."

"Thou hast it, Signor Maso; and it is for this especial reason that I wish
my parents had educated me for a bishoprick. He that is charged with
reproving his fellow creatures for their vices need never know an idle
hour."

"Thou dost not understand what thou sayest," put in Conrad; "love for the
saints has much fallen away since my youth, and where there is one
Christian ready now to bestow his silver, in order to get the blessing of
some favorite shrine, there were then ten. I have heard the elders of us
pilgrims say, that, fifty years since, 'twas a pleasure to bear the sins
of a whole parish, for ours is a business in which the load does not so
much depend on the amount as the quality; and, in their time there were
willing offerings, frank confessions, and generous consideration for those
who undertook the toil."

"In such a trade, the less thou hast to answer for, in behalf of others,
the more will pass to thy credit on the score of thine own backslidings,"
pithily remarked Nicklaus Wagner, who was a sturdy Protestant, and apt
enough at levelling these side-hits at those who professed a faith,
obnoxious to the attacks of all who dissented from the opinions and the
spiritual domination of Rome.

But Conrad was a rare specimen of what may be effected by training and
well-rooted prejudices. In presenting this man to the mind of the reader,
we have no intention to impugn the doctrines of the particular church to
which he belonged, but simply to show, as the truth will fully warrant, to
what a pass of flagrant and impudent pretension the qualities of man,
unbridled by the wholesome corrective of a sound and healthful opinion,
was capable of conducting abuses on the most solemn and gravest subjects.
In that age usages prevailed, and were so familial to the minds of the
actors as to excite neither reflection nor comment, which would now lead
to revolutions, and a general rising in defence of principles which are
held to be clear as the air we breathe. Though we entertain no doubt of
the existence of that truth which pervades the universe, and to which all
things tend, we think the world, in its practices, its theories, and its
conventional standards of right and wrong, is in a condition of constant
change, which it should be the business of the wise and good to favor, so
long as care is had that the advantage is not bought by a re-action of
evil, that shall more than prove its counterpoise. Conrad was one of the
lowest class of those fungi that grow out of the decayed parts of the
moral, as their more material types prove the rottenness of the vegetable,
world; and the probability of the truth of the portraiture is not to be
loosely denied, without mature reflection on the similar anomalies that
are yet to be found on every side of us, or without studying the history
of the abuses which then disgraced Christianity, and which, in truth,
became so intolerable in their character, and so hideous in their
features, as to be the chief influencing cause to bring about their own
annihilation.

Pippo, who had that useful tact which enables a man to measure his own
estimation with others, was not slow to perceive that the more enlightened
part of his audience began to tire of this pretending buffoonery.
Resorting to a happy subterfuge, by means of one of his sleight-of-hand
expedients, he succeeded in transferring the whole of that portion of the
spectators who still found amusement in his jugglery, to the other end of
the vessel, where they established themselves among the anchors, ready as
ever to swallow an aliment, that seems to find an unextinguishable
appetite for its reception among the vulgar. Here he continued his
exhibition, now moralizing in the quaint and often in the pithy manner,
which renders the southern buffoon so much superior to his duller
competitor of the north, and uttering a wild jumble of wholesome truths,
loose morality, and witty inuendoes, the latter of which never failed to
extort roars of laughter from all but those who happened to be their
luckless subjects.

Once or twice Baptiste raised his head, and stared about him with drowsy
eyes, but, satisfied there was nothing to be done in the way of forcing
the vessel ahead, he resumed his nap, without interfering in the pastime
of those whom he had hitherto seemed to take pleasure in annoying. Left
entirely to themselves, therefore, the crowd on the forecastle represented
one of those every-day but profitable pictures of life, which abound under
our eyes, but which, though they are pregnant with instruction, are
treated with the indifference that would seem to be the inevitable
consequence of familiarity.

The crowded and overloaded bark might have been compared to the vessel of
human life, which floats at all times subject to the thousand accidents of
a delicate and complicated machinery: the lake, so smooth and alluring in
its present tranquillity, but so capable of lashing its iron-bound coasts
with fury, to a treacherous world, whose smile is almost always as
dangerous as its frown; and, to complete the picture, the idle, laughing,
thoughtless, and yet inflammable group that surrounded the buffoon, to the
unaccountable medley of human sympathies, of sudden and fierce passions,
of fun and frolic, so inexplicably mingled with the grossest egotism that
enters into the heart of man: in a word, to so much that is beautiful and
divine, with so much that would seem to be derived directly from the
demons, a compound which composes this mysterious and dread state of
being, and which we are taught, by reason and revelation, is only a
preparation for another still more incomprehensible and wonderful.



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