Chapter 83

Highly poetical - Volundr - Grecian mythology - Making a petul - Tongues of flame - Hammering - Spite of dukkerin - Heaviness.

IT has always struck me that there is something highly poetical about a forge. I am not singular in this opinion: various individuals have assured me that they can never pass by one, even in the midst of a crowded town, without experiencing sensations which they can scarcely define, but which are highly pleasurable. I have a decided penchant for forges, especially rural ones, placed in some quaint quiet spot - a dingle, for example, which is a poetical place, or at a meeting of four roads, which is still more so; for how many a superstition - and superstition is the soul of poetry - is connected with these cross roads! I love to light upon such a one, especially after nightfall, as everything about a forge tells to most advantage at night; the hammer sounds more solemnly in the stillness; the glowing particles scattered by the strokes sparkle with more effect in the darkness, whilst the sooty visage of the sastramescro, half in shadow and half illumed by the red and partial blaze of the forge, looks more mysterious and strange. On such occasions I draw in my horse’s rein, and, seated in the saddle, endeavour to associate with the picture before me - in itself a picture of romance - whatever of the wild and wonderful I have read of in books, or have seen with my own eyes in connection with forges.

I believe the life of any blacksmith, especially a rural one, would afford materials for a highly poetical history. I do not speak unadvisedly, having the honour to be free of the forge, and therefore fully competent to give an opinion as to what might be made out of the forge by some dexterous hand. Certainly, the strangest and most entertaining life ever written is that of a blacksmith of the olden north, a certain Volundr, or Velint, who lived in woods and thickets, made keen swords - so keen, indeed, that if placed in a running stream they would fairly divide an object, however slight, which was borne against them by the water, and who eventually married a king’s daughter, by whom he had a son, who was as bold a knight as his father was a cunning blacksmith. I never see a forge at night, when seated on the back of my horse, at the bottom of a dark lane, but I somehow or other associate it with the exploits of this extraordinary fellow, with many other extraordinary things, amongst which, as I have hinted before, are particular passages of my own life, one or two of which I shall perhaps relate to the reader.

I never associate Vulcan and his Cyclops with the idea of a forge. These gentry would be the very last people in the world to flit across my mind whilst gazing at the forge from the bottom of the dark lane. The truth is, they are highly unpoetical fellows, as well they may be, connected as they are with the Grecian mythology. At the very mention of their names the forge burns dull and dim, as if snowballs had been suddenly flung into it; the only remedy is to ply the bellows, an operation which I now hasten to perform.

I am in the dingle making a horse-shoe. Having no other horses on whose hoofs I could exercise my art, I made my first essay on those of my own horse, if that could be called horse which horse was none, being only a pony. Perhaps, if I had sought all England, I should scarcely have found an animal more in need of the kind offices of the smith. On three of his feet there were no shoes at all, and on the fourth only a remnant of one, on which account his hoofs were sadly broken and lacerated by his late journeys over the hard and flinty roads. ‘You belonged to a tinker before,’ said I, addressing the animal, ‘but now you belong to a smith. It is said that the household of the shoemaker invariably go worse shod than that of any other craft. That may be the case of those who make shoes of leather, but it shan’t be said of the household of him who makes shoes of iron; at any rate it shan’t be said of mine. I tell you what, my gry, whilst you continue with me, you shall both be better shod and better fed than you were with your last master.’

I am in the dingle making a petul; and I must here observe that whilst I am making a horse-shoe the reader need not be surprised if I speak occasionally in the language of the lord of the horse-shoe - Mr. Petulengro. I have for some time past been plying the peshota, or bellows, endeavouring to raise up the yag, or fire, in my primitive forge. The angar, or coals, are now burning fiercely, casting forth sparks and long vagescoe chipes, or tongues of flame; a small bar of sastra, or iron, is lying in the fire, to the length of ten or twelve inches, and so far it is hot, very hot, exceeding hot, brother. And now you see me prala,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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