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and the dead body of King Saul fell also, then the demons saw and knew that their master was dead, and they gave one loud shout of triumph, so that such a sound was never heard before, and they fled home. And Prince Affghan left the unfinished palace, which he had no workmen to complete, and wandered into Afghanistan, where he founded a great kingdom, and all his children and his subjects spoke his tongue, which is the tongue of the demons."
“So we are to fight with the friends of the demons, who, no doubt, will lend their help to their allies, and give the word of command in this exquisite tongue which none of us understand. It is hardly fair play, especially as I dare say these delightful foes of ours are informed first by their allies which of us are to fall before them. We will try what mortal steel and lead will do to battle against their prophecies.'
“At this instant," said the stranger, “the demons know well which of you will fall in battle with the Affyhans; and it is granted to mortal eye to share in this knowledge, the powers of nature invisible in their origin are so subject in this visible world, and each of you may read his doom of death or life for himself, and with the eye of flesh.”
“ Are we to see our apparitions pass before us ?" asked two or three officers at once. · The stranger without replying led the way out of the tent into the open air. All the officers followed, curious to see the end of this kind of eastern fortune-telling, as they esteemed it. Words of admiration broke from some of them at the remarkable beauty of the night. Nothing could he more resplendent than the sky, every star was visible, not the slightest rack of cloud dimmed the full effulgence of light. The stranger pointed to the northern quarter of the heavens.
“There is a star there,” said he, “the ray of life and light from which does not reach the eye that will not long be quickened by the universal principle of life. The first failing in the powers of life is here, the eye that can see this star, may sparkle long and brightly, but for him who sees it not, the shadow of the Angel of Death lies black upon the snow of Afghanistan."
It was the “Star of Destiny” of which he spoke, the same which Clara Courtenay had vainly endeavoured to render visible to Walter's eye.
“Show us the star !" was the universal cry from his listeners.
“ A little to the left of that star, just above it, is a smaller star—who sees that?"
Silence ensued; many, after a long and anxious gaze, declared finally that they did not see it, and believed it was all a hoax ; several said they had a long sight, as was well known to their friends around them, they saw all the stars they were accustomed to as brilliantly as possible, more clearly than usual; it was impossible there should be a star in the place indicated to them; one or two, on the contrary, declared they certainly saw the star, repeatedly and clearly, there was no imposition on the part of the stranger, the star was certainly shining brightly, exactly in the spot he described, but the seers were much in the minority.
The stranger himself expressed surprise at the great proportion of those who professed themselves unable to see it. Finally, it was agreed that the names of each party, those who did not see, and those who saw the star should be written down, and delivered to the keeping of a civilian in Bombay, that the results of the Affghanistan expedition might decide the question of the truth of the “Star of Destiny."
of the party of twenty-two, there were found eighteen of the former and only four of the latter. The name of William Howard was in the first list. The spirits of those of the party who had a slight tincture of superstition were much raised by finding that the proportion of nonseers was so much the larger. It far exceeded any proportion of British officers who had hitherto fallen in open warfare in India, and they were too contident in British power, to believe it could be realized. The faith of the whole party in the prophecy much damped by this great disproportion, which seemed to deprive the question to be resolved of its probability and of its zest, the whole group returned to the tent. Just at the door, William Howard looked back at the place where he had endeavoured in vain to see the “Star of Destiny."
“ It is strange,” said he,“ but I see the star now, though I could not before, yet there was no cloud, I see it clearly and steadily.”
“ Write down what the young man says on the sheet you leave in Bombay," said the stranger. "Your thread of life will be bruised, but not broken ; I rejoice in it.”
But four months had passed from the time I have spoken of, from the departure of this portion of the British troops for Cabul, when a wretched, solitary figure crawled in the utmost exhaustion into Jellalabad. His limbs, torn by the hardships of the road, bleeding from many wounds, his clothes rent, burned by the sun, and blinded by the snow he had passed through, William Howard, the sole survivor of the gallant band who were cut to pieces at Jugdulluk, rushed into the arms of his fellow-soldiers which were eagerly opened to receive him. The first bearer of the dreadful tidings of the fate of our arms in Affghanistan, he was eagerly questioned, but he could only assure them of the safety of four officers of his detachment, who had been given up as hostages before leaving Cabul, when the surgeon enjoining silence, commenced the examination of his wounds.
“ I think none are very deep,” said poor Howard; “the last ball I received from an Affghan would have shot through my heart, but something hard in my breast-pocket, here deadened it.”
“How providential !" cried the surgeon, as he drew out the Affghan's ball from the singed and blackened leaves of a little red morocco book next Howard's heart.
It was the Bible his mother had given him. He sank on his knees in prayer as he kissed its pages.
Reader, more than double four months had elapsed, when in a stately drawing-room, looking on to such a landscape as only England can offer, to the gratified eye, of wood, of water, and that quiet sky, which is luxury in itself after the glare in India, increased as it is by the use of every gaudy colour by the natives, a woman, tall and beautiful, still in the prime of her life, and scarcely past that of her beauty, folded on her maternal bosom, with inexpressible fondness, the sinking and fragile form of her lovely daughter, who lay half in her mother's arms, half on a stool of Indian ivory at her feet. Her black, soft hair covered her features, and fell around her on her mourning-robe, in the same luxuriance in the halls of Rossingham, as Walter Courtenay had so often twined into a thousand graceful oriental forms in her lost home in India.
The shades of evening began to fall, Lady Clifford bore her child into an oriel window, to sooth her with the beauty of the landscape of the park for a few instants, as the last glow of the sun disappeared, and the stars began to glow brightly in the summer sky. As they moved, Clara's copy of Walter's miniature fell from her bosom.
As they stood in the lorie, Lady Clifford said,
“ Look over the north avenue, dearest, how exquisitely bright the stars are.
Clara glanced her languid eye, she saw the “Star of Destiny," and an instant afterward she fainted upon her mother's neck.
Reader, for the truth of the tale I have related with disguised names, I appeal confidently to the recollection of many officers who have served in India in the Affghanistan war, and elsewhere before it commenced. The tradition of the origin of the Affghan race and language is from their own lips: and the Indian belief in the “ Star of Destiny," is known from the natives by many Europeans, though I purposely forbear giving any further clue to it. The party of twenty-two officers who agreed to test the truth of the tale they heard in their own persons, eighteen of whom failed to see it, just before being called upon active service, and four distinctly saw it, the writing down of their names, the death of those eighteen, ten by the sword, and eight by illness, the survival of their four companions—all these are true.
PROPOSAL FOR A DICTIONARY OF A NOT “UNKNOWN
TONGUE." Ce serait un beau dictionaire, que celui des mots en usage pour couvrir d'un air de justice les plus hautes iniquités, d'un air d'intelligence les plus lourdes sottises, d'un air de protection le plus inconcevable abandon.
SOULIE, Deux Séjours. Forty of the chosen literati of France were appointed a permanent committee to compile the dictionary of their mother-tongue, and they worked for a century (more or less) without completing their task. This was equivalent to the labour of one individual during four thousand years.
There is, however, a dialect still more difficult to deal with than French, and no single man we believe would venture to wrestle with its intricacies. It is indeed at once the most ill-understood, recondite, and fluctuating of spoken languages. To add to the difficulty, the essence of this language lies in its power of evading the curiosity of all but the initiated; nay, its perfection is to mystify even the professors themselves; who never use it to better purpose, than when they are not aware of their own meaning. Industry and ingenuity, therefore, like panting time, must of necessity toil in vain, in their attempt to wrestle with such a task; and the most that can be
expected from the ablest lexicographer, will be an approximation towards completeness. Not to keep our readers longer in the dark, this language is the language of Humbug.
Čondillac has shown that a perfect language constitutes, ipso facto, a perfect science; none therefore but a perfect science can hope for a perfect language. But humbug, commencing with the seduction of “our general mother," has continued to extend, and to refine itself with every step in the progress of civilization—it is at present increasing with railroad rapidity,—and will, in all probability, continue to increase, until the end of time; so that the best idea that can be formed of the new Jerusalem of the millenniumites, is that of a city in which society will be bound together, in one endless and golden chain of reciprocal and perfect deceit. From the very nature of things, then, a complete dictionary of Humbug is, like the quadrature of the circle, as impossible as it is desirable; and the best that could be constructed, like the vieux moulin of the French proverb, would continually require something to be done to it.
That the construction of such a dictionary, imperfect as it might be, is in reality the desideratum we suppose, and that the want of it is a fatal defect in the literature of Europe, are propositions that require little argumentative proof; for no one who is in the slightest degree acquainted with the realities of life, can have failed to observe, on reiterated experiment, that the difficulties which surround the toughest mysteries (to say nothing of the simpler matters of debate in ordinary society) arise from an uncertainty in the use of the words employed, -difficulties which even a moderately-executed vocabulary would materially diminish.
In all discussions arising out of abuse of words there are two modes of procedure: first, the words may be brought to the test of things, and an appeal made to the evidence of the senses. This is the favourite method with those whose object is truth. Fortunately, however, for humbug, the method is slow and painful, especially when the multitude require to be instructed. It happens, besides, that the best constituted humbugs depend on a language possessing the remotest connexion with things ;—not rarely, on such as cannot be submitted to the tests of sensation. The other road to settle these questions belongs principally to " those of the opposite faction," and it consists in an adroit withdrawing of the cant words and nicknames which have acquired an unpleasant notoriety, while others are substituted, whose character is not yet “blown." The former may be called the offensive, the latter the defensive plan ; and it is chiefly with respect to the latter that a dictionary has its application. Still, bowever, in reference to the former, it is desirable to note the progress that has been made in the exposure of humbugs, and thus to prevent an useless obstinacy in defending weak points. But the formation of a dictionary would be like a merchant's taking of stock; the humbugger might, by a simple reference, see what goods were perfect, what damaged, and what wholly unfit to be imposed on the public. Thus, to take an instance, “theorist” has long been a serviceable reproach for putting down all attempts at reasoning, and is opposed by "experience,” which has long served to inspire confidence in the rule of thumb. A faithful dictionary of humbug, by declaring the true state of public opinion on these technicalities, would prevent the practitioner from falling into the mistake of attempting to keep alive a mystification which is pretty universally exploded, and would leave him free to turn to more available resource .
An objection, we are well aware, may be attempted against our proposition, derived (with what logical propriety will soon appear) from Talleyrand's aphorism concerning the use of language in general. If speech be, as he says, given to mankind for the purposes of concealment, every word of ordinary discourse, —even to the calling a spade
a spade," must be part and parcel of the language of humbug; so that the common dictionaries of any tongue must be strictly and logically so many dictionaries of humbug.
In a certain sense this is true ; but it is not the whole truth. The aphorism in question is indeed, with all its shrewdness, but a onesided maxim." In one respect we admit the language of humbug to be identical with the ordinary spoken language of the country: inasmuch, namely, as the whole security of the deceit depends upon the hearer's conviction that he understands what is proposed to him. On this account, the bare introduction of a new term into a discussion is sometimes enough to throw even the half-thinkers into a state of alarm and inquiry. Few, indeed, above the condition of brutum vulgus, born to be « done,” now imagine that a new term necessarily implies a new thing; or that a substantial imposture has been abandoned, because men have been compelled to call it by a new name. Even the vulgar have learned to look upon such changes with suspicion. None, therefore, but the adepts should be intrusted with this species of coinage: for they only can judge with accuracy when a recurrence to it is necessary; and they alone possess the necessary ability for passing the false coin, without exciting a fatal suspicion in the minds of their hitherto confiding auditors.
No word, we are further disposed to concede, can reach to a deceptive purpose, except in as far as it has, or appears to have, an honest meaning of its own, to found a reputation upon. Even your common thief puts the best face he can upon his calling, by giving ii, as far as possible, a mask of “ respectability.” The dealer in annuities does not call himself “usurer," nor the convenient friend proclaim herself a “procuress;" and for this obvious reason, that these plain-spoken terms admit of no equivoque; they have no honest calling behind which to conceal that which should be a mystery. So the cleverest forgery that ever was executed, would be useless to any fraudulent purpose, were it not for the existence of some lawful original which it resembled in external appearance.
Nor indeed is this all: another condition necessary to the success of a humbug, is a certain admixture of positive truth. It is essential to the very existence of fallacies, that they should present some legitimate inferences; it is essential to the credit of humbugs that there should be such things as undoubted and undoubtable propositions. In this sense, the whole of a spoken language may be styled the language of humbug. There is, indeed, no better basis on which to found a successful deception, than a manifest truism, such as that twice two make four, or that virtue is commendable. An exordium of this cast possesses such an air of frankness, there is so deliberate an appearance of selfconfidence in the cause which thus addresses itself to the commonest