« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
whistle, worry whoever he points his finger at, and think themselves fully rewarded by sometimes snapping up a crumb that falls from the great man's table. "Talk of patriotism, virtue, and incorruptibility! tut, man!" they are the very qualities that scare munificence, and keep patronage at a distance. You might as well attempt to entice crows with red rags and gunpowder. Lay all these scarecrow virtues aside, and let this be your maxim, that a candidate for political eminence is like a dried herring; he never becomes luminous until he is corrupt.”
Dabble caught with hungry avidity these congenial doctrines, and turned into his predestined channel of action with the force and rapidity of a stream which has for awhile been restrained from its natural course. He became what nature had fitted him to be;-his tone softened down from arrogant self-sufficiency to the whine of fawning solicitation. He mingled in the caucuses of the sovereign people; adapted his dress to a similitude of dirty raggedness; argued most logically with those who were of his own opinion; and slandered, with all the malice of impotence, exalted characters whose orbit he despaired ever to approach:—just as that scoundrel midnight thief, the owl, hoots at the blessed light of the sun, whose glorious lustre he dares never contemplate. He likewise applied himself to discharging faithfully the honourable duties of a partisan: he poached about for private slanders, and ribald anecdotes; he folded handbills-he even wrote one or two himself, which he carried about in his pocket and read to every body; he became a secretary at ward meetings, set his hand to divers resolutions of patriotic import, and even once went so far as to make a speech, in which he proved that patriotism was a virtue;—the reigning bashaw a great man;that this was a free country, and he himself an arrant and incontestable buzzard!
Dabble was now very frequent and devout in his visits to those temples of politics, popularity, and smoke, the ward porter-houses; those true dens of equality, where all ranks, ages, and talents, are brought down to the dead level of rude familiarity. -'Twas here his talents expanded, and his genius swelled up to its proper size; like the loathsome toad, which shrinking from balmy airs, and jocund sunshine, finds his congenial home in caves and dungeons, and there nourishes his venom, and bloats his deformity. 'Twas here he revelled with the swinish multitude in their debauches on patriotism and porter; and it became an even chance whether Dabble would turn out a great man or a great drunkard.But Dabble in all this kept steadily in his eye the only deity he ever worshipped-his interest. Having by his familiarity ingratiated himself with the mob, he became wonderfully potent and industrious at elections; knew all the dens and cellars of profligacy and intemperance; brought more negroes to the polls, and knew to a greater certainty where votes could be bought for beer, than any of his contemporaries. His exertions in the cause, his persevering industry, his degrading compliance, his unresisting humility, his steadfast dependence, at length caught the attention of one of the leaders of the party; who was pleased to observe that Dabble was a very useful fellow, who would go all lengths. From that moment his fortune was made;-he was hand and glove with orators and slang-whangers; basked in the sun-shine of great men's smiles, and had the honour, sundry times, of shaking hands with dignitaries, and drinking out of the same pot with them at a porter-house!!
I will not fatigue myself with tracing this caterpillar in his slimy progress from worm to butterfly; suffice it that Dabble bowed and bowed, and fawned, and sneaked and smirked, and libelled, until one would have thought perseverance itself would have settled down into despair. There was no knowing how long he might have lingered at a distance from his hopes, had he not luckily got tarred and feathered for some of his electioneering maneuvres—this was the making of him! Let not my readers stare-tarring and feathering here is equal to pillory and cropped ears in England; and either of these kinds of martyrdom will ensure a patriot the sympathy and suffrages of a faction. His partisans, for even he had his partisans, took his case into consideration he had been kicked and cuffed, and disgraced, and dishonoured in the cause-he had licked the dust at the feet of the mob - he was a faithful drudge, slow to anger, of invincible patience, of incessant
assiduity—a thorough-going tool, who could be curbed, and spurred, and directed at pleasure-in short, he had all the important qualifications for a little great man, and he was accordingly ushered into office amid the acclamations of the party. The leading men complimented his usefulness, the multitude his republican simplicity, and the slang-whangers vouched for his patriotism. Since his elevation he has discovered indubitable signs of having been destined for a great man.
His nose has acquired an additional elevation of several degrees, so that now he appears to have bidden adieu to this world, and to have set his thoughts altogether on things above; and he has swelled and inflated himself to such a degree, that his friends are under apprehensions that he will one day or other explode and blow up like a torpedo.
How King Ferdinand foraged the Vega; and of the
Battle of the Bridge of Pinos, and the fate of the two
MULEY ABDALLA EL ZAGAL had been under a spell of ill fortune, ever since the suspicious death of the old king his brother. Success had deserted his standard; and, with his fickle subjects, want of success was one of the greatest crimes in a sovereign. He
found his popularity declining, and he lost all confidence in his people. The Christian army marched in open defiance ihrough his territories, and sat down deliberately before his fortresses; yet he dared not lead forth his legions to oppose them, lest the inhabitants of the Albaycin, ever ripe for a revolt, should rise and shut the gates of Granada against his return.
Every few days, some melancholy train entered the metropolis, the inhabitants of some captured town, bearing the few effects that had been spared them, and weeping and bewailing the desolation of their homes. When the tidings arrived that Illora and Moclin had fallen, the people were seized with consternation. “ The right eye of Granada is extinguished,” exclaimed they; “the shield of Granada is broken : what shall protect us from the inroad of the foe?” When the survivors of the garrisons of those towns arrived, with downcast looks, bearing the marks of battle, and destitute of arms and standards, the populace reviled them in their wrath; but they answered, “ we fought as long as we had force to fight, or walls to shelter us; but the Christians laid our towns and battlements in ruins, and we looked in vain for aid from Granada.
The alcaydes of Illora and Moclin were brothers; they were alike in prowess, and the bravest among the Moorish chevaliers. They had been the most distinguished in all tilts and tourneys which graced the happier days of Granada, and had distinguished themselves in the sterner conflicts of the field. Acclamation had always followed their banners, and they had long been the delight of the people. Yet now, when they returned after the capture of their fortresses, they were followed by the unsteady populace with execrations. The hearts of the alcaydes swelled with indignation; they found the ingratitude of their countrymen still more intolerable than the hostility of the Christians.
Tidings came that the enemy was advancing with
his triumphant legions to lay waste the country about Granada. Still El Zagal did not dare to take the field. The two alcaydes of Illora and Moclin stood before him: “We have defended your fortresses," said they, “ until we were almost buried under their ruins, and for our reward we receive scoffings and revilings; give us, oh king, an opportunity where knightly valour may signalize itself, not shut up behind stone walls, but in the open conflict of the field. The enemy approaches to lay our country desolate: give us men to meet him in the advance, and let shame light upon our heads if we be found wanting in the battle!"
The two brothers were sent forth, with a large force of horse and foot; El Zagal intended, should they be successful, to issue forth with his whole force, and by a decisive victory, repair the losses he had suffered. When the people saw the well-known standards of the brothers going forth to battle, there was a feeble shout; but the alcaydes passed on with stern countenances, for they knew the same voices would curse them were they to return unfortunate. They cast a farewell look upon fair Granada, and upon the beautiful fields of their infancy, as if for these they were willing to lay down their lives, but not for an ungrateful people.
The army of Ferdinand had arrived within two leagues of Granada, at the Bridge of Pinos, a pass famous in the wars of the Moors and Christians for many a bloody conflict. It was the pass by which the Častilian monarchs generally made their inroads, and was capable of great defence, from the ruggedness of the country and the difficulty of the bridge. The king, with the main body of the army, had attained the brow of a hill, when they beheld the advance guard, under the marques of Cadiz and the Master of Santiago, furiously attacked by the enemy, in the vicinity of the bridge. The Moors rushed to the assault with their usual shouts, but with more than usual ferocity. There was a hard struggle at the bridge; both parties knew the importance of that pass.