Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

enjoyment, but we should accustom ourselves to think of distresses of human life, of the solitary cottage, the dying parent, the weeping orphan. Nor ought we ever to sport, with pain and distress, in any of our amusements, or to treat even the meanest insect with wanton cruelty.

VERY DISAGREEABLE. Am I not a little pale ?” enquired a lady who was rather short, and corpulent, of a crusty bachelor. “You look more like a big tub," was the blunt reply.

STERNE AND GARRICK. STERNE who used his wife very ill, was talking to Garrick, in exuberance of sentimentality, in praise of conjugal love and fidelity. “ The husband," said he, “who behaves unkindly to his wife, deserves to have his house burned over his head.” “If you think so," said Garrick, “ I hope your house is insured."

THE GANDER. I KNOW by a little, what a great deal means," as the Gander said, when he saw the tip of a Fox's tail sticking out of a hollow tree.

ORIGINALITY. Every one is at least in one thing, against his will original in his mapner of sneezing.

ANECDOTE. A FELLOW coming out of a tavern one frosty morning, rather top heavy, fell on the door step. Trying to regain his footing, he remarked, “If it be true, that the wicked stand on slippery places, I must belong to a different class, for it is more than I can do.”

WORK IF YOU WOULD RISE. RICHARD BURKE being found in reverie, shortly after an extraordinary display of powers in Parliament, by his brother Edmund Burke, and questioned by a friend as to the cause, replied, “I have been wondering how Ned has contrived to monopolize all the talents of the family; but then again, I remember when we were at play, he was always at work.” The force of this anecdote is increased by the fact, that Richard Burke was considered not inferior in natural talents, to his brother. Yet the one rose to greatness, while the other died comparatively obscure. Don't trust your genius, young men, if you would rise, but, work, work, work!

OBSERVED GOSSIP ABOUT THE LATE COUNT

D'ORSAY, 1852. The daily journals have shewn singular reluctance to deal with the career of the Count D'Orsay. Indeed, it does not appear that a memoir of that extraordinary man was included in the biographical buudles of invalid notabilities, which, (according to tradition,) are kept tied round with red tape, in the pigeon holes, at the offices of our morning contemporaries.

With the exception of the Morning Chronicle, Father Prout's clever summary in the Globe, has been adopted without remark, by each journal, and even the Times, has passed by a topic on which much of its eloquent prose might have been expended.

The deceased Count's copyists have been numerous, but they have only exchanged their manhood for flunkeyism, by so doing. So thought Mr. Disraeli, when he penned the description in Henrietta Temple, dedicated to the Count, by his affectionate friend, B. Disraeli," in the scene where Lord Castlefyshe (Alvanley) and Charles Doricourt (Tom Duncombe) take their first dinner with Mr. Bond Sharpe (Crockford), viz. : Mr. Bevill was a very tall and a very handsome young man, of a great family, and a great estate, who passed his life in imitation of Count Alcabides de Mirable. He was always dressed by the same tailor, and it was his pride, that his cab, or his vis a vis, was constantly mistaken for the equipage of his model; and really now as the shade stood beside its substance, quite as tall, almost as good looking, with the satin lined coat thrown open in the same style of flowing grandeur, and revealing a breast plate of starched cambric scarcely less broad and brilliant, the unimitated might have held the resemblance as perfect. The wristbands were turned up with no less compact precision, and were fastened with jewelled studs that glittered with no less radiancy. The statuesque vest, the creaseless hosen, were the same; and, if the feet were not as small, its Parisian polish was not less bright. But here, unfortunately, Mr. Bevill's minictic powers deserted him. “We start, for soul is wanting there!” The Count could talk at all times, and at all times well; Mr. Bevill never opened his mouth. Practised in the world, the Count nevertheless was the child of impulse, though a native grace and an intuitive knowledge of mankind made every act appropriate. Mr. Berill was all art, and he had not the talent to conceal it. The Count was gay, careless, and generous; Mr. Bevill was solemn, calculating, and rather a screw. It seemed as if the Count's feelings grew daily more fresh, and his faculty of enjoyment more keen and relishing; it appeared as if Mr. Bevill, was solemn, never could have been a child, but must have issued to the world ready equipped, like Minerva, with a cane instead of a lance, and a fancy hat for a helmet. But, alack, master and mimic and all their myrmidons were alike in one particular-want of money :--

'Twas grav'd on their Stone of Destiny
In letters four and letters three;
And ne'er did the King of Gull's go by
But those awful letters, scared the eye;
For he knew that a prophet voice had said
“ As long as those words by man were read
The ancient race of Gull's should ne'er,
One hour of peace or plenty share;”
But years on years successive flew
And the letters still more legible grew.
At top a T an H an E

And underneath D E B T. Ah! that debt! If youth, (we continue to quote Mr. Disraeli,) but knew the fatal misery they are entailing on themselves the moment they accept a pecuniary credit to which they are not entitled, how they would start in their career, how pale they would become and tremble, and clasp their hands in agony at the precipice on which they are disporting! Debt is the prolific mother of folly and of crime; it taints the course of life in all its streams. Hence so many unhappy marriages, so many prostituted pens, and venal politicians. It hath a small beginning, but a giant's growth and strength. When we make the monster we make our master, who haunts us at all hours, and shakes his whip of scorpions for ever in our sight. The slave hath no overseer so severe. Faustus, when he signed the bond with blood, did not secure a doom more terrific.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CAPTAIN DIGBY GRAND. TWELVE o'clock had struck, the Temple of Chance was open, and in a shorter period, than I have named, I was by Lavanter's side, in his quiet, dark coloured brougham, with a fifty pound note in my waistcoat pocket, the product of the “ three timely sevens,” that unlike gunpowder spirits, came “when I did call for them.”

“My dear Grand, I am so charmed to see you,” exclaimed our hostess, as I went up to make my bow on my arrival, accosting with as much easy good humoured indifference as though we had “never met” and “never parted.” “I thought you were at Melton; how good of Lavanter to bring you. He always comes to my Thursday nights, and so must you." I bowed my acknowledgments, and turned round to take a view of the company, and obtain some slight insight into Mrs. Mantrap's Thursday nights. The well known rooms were brilliant with lamp light and gorgeous with flowers, the faint tinge of the light coloured walls, with the rich dark carpet, served admirably to set off the rose tinted draperies, and motley furniture, dotted here and there with red. There were more fanciful ornaments, more Sevres china than ever; whilst from the distant conservatory, forning another well lighted retreat, came the subdued sounds, of a self playing pianoforte, just sufficiently loud to interrupt whist. But the company was of a different grade from that which I had been used to meet in former days in these brilliant apartments. The ladies were more dressed, more rouged, laughed louder, and looked bolder, than is customary in English society; and, in truth, there were several foreigners, amongst that talkative throng; whilst the men-German barons, French counts, and disreputable adventurers of our own nation-were engaged at the different games, they played with an affectation of extremne carelessness which savours of that dexterity over which fortune has no control. Not a man or a woman of them all but had some “history” pot entirely redounding to the individual credit, attached to him or her; and could the life of the hostess have been written by herself, it would not have been the least extraordinary amongst the assemblage. I turned to look at her, as she moved from one circle to another, with a smile and jest for each, and was shocked to observe the ravages that time and anxiety had made upon the once handsome Mrs. Mantrap. This is the worst of your good looking women of a certain age, who seem to preserve their beauty beyond its natural term only that it may go all at once. With them one season does all the mischief that it has taken ten years' pains to avert; and the less gradual the process of decay, the more startly are its unwelcome efforts. Mrs. Mantrap was now a haggard old woman; at a distance she still preserved something, of that captivating air, which with all her dashing style, had once been her most dangerous weapon; but, upon a nearer approach, the charm was completely dispelled, the cheeks were sunken, the eyes hollowed, the features sharpened and care worn, and the sunny hair grown poor and thin. Dress might still conceal the altered outlines of her form, but the projecting collar bone, the shrunk and wasted hands, told a different tale. Still she seemed in buoyant spirits, which, if forced, were admirably assumed for the occasion; nor was it until I saw her wholly absorbed in the excitement of a game at ecarte, on which she had staked a considerable sum, that I could perceive in undisguised reality, the baggared change that bad overtaken her person and features. I had not, however, much time for observation, as I soon found myself set down to a party at whist, consisting of my friend Carambole, whom I was somewhat surprised to see here, a French Countess, and an Irish Major, one of the most scientific players, it has ever been my fortune to meet. Carambole and I were partners, and, as is usually the case, between Euglish and French players, of high calibre, misunderstood each others' game, and were consequently unable to make any head against the good cards which fortune lavished so liberally upon the hands of our adversaries, more especially when it chanced to be the Countess's deal. The Major, having won the two rubbers, thought proper to retire, as I learnt from Carambole, was his invariable custom; and I found myself, though sorely against my will, obliged to sit down and play ecarte against the clever French woman. She certainly was pretty, and piquant, though no longer in the freshness of youth, and I submitted, with as good grace as I could assume, to be des

poiled by the lively gambler, inwardly resolving to take my departure as soon as my fifty pounds, considerably lessened already, should be entirely swallowed up. It chanced that my fair antagonist was possessed of a beautiful hand, whose taper fingers she scorned to set off by the adventitious aid of jewellery, and whenever she dealt, I found my eyes so fascinated by the charms of this unadorned member, that I could not withdraw my admiring gaze from its pliant movements. It was sometime before I perceived that such mute homage on my part was extremely embarrassing to its object; she coughed, she blushed even through her rouge, she changed her position and seemed ill at ease, whilst the game proceeded with no remarkable vicissitude, but either from better or superior skill with a decided tendency in my favour. This was a state of things as unaccountable as it was unlooked for, but as it was not my part to complain of the smiles of fortune, I went on playing unsuspiciously enough. Presently, a French gentleman, with whoin I had not the honour of being acquaiuted, came and stood behind my chair, expressing his admiration at my science, and requesting permission to observe my play. Of course I acquiesced inost politely; but though young in years and appearance, I was not quite such a fool as I looked, and this last inaneuvre put my attention on the qui vive. I had heard of fingers being placed to foreheads, and looks and glances interchanged with affected carelessness to telegraph from some interested on-looker to the proposing player the most judicious number to be demanded, and I determined that my anxious Countess should have no assistance as this without remark. I accordingly called to Carambole, who was lounging about the room, and begged him to hand me a glass of iced water, at the same time by a rapid sign, drawing his attention to the sharper looking over my shoulder. The quick witted Frenchman took my meaning instantaneously, and placing himself behind the Countess, begged permission to look over her hand and bet upon the game. The lady declared it made her nervous to have any one studying her cards, and Carambole then placed himself on one side of the table, still fixing his eyes on his countryman, so as to watch his every motion. The Countess was now getting almost hysterical; the pretty hand shook, and the thin lips were compressed with anger and vexation. It was evident the confederates were completely checkmated; my unwitting admiration of the pliant fingers had given their conscious owner reason to suspect that she was watched, and had effectually prevented that accustomed sleight of hand by which the practised dealer commands the timely assistance of a king; whilst Carambole's ready aid had counterbalanced the stratagems of her ally, and disappointed her of the golden harvest generally yielded by the game of ecarte to her dexterous arrangements. Pleading a headache, she rose from the table, paying my winings, after all of inconsiderable amount, with a very bad grace, and retiring to the room where the supper was laid

VOL. 1.

« PoprzedniaDalej »