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Pelasgic Oracle from the priests of Egypt and the priestesses of Dodona. Mindful, doubtless, of so renowned an example, the author of the Great Metropolis,' 'for much of the information con'tained in this chapter' (on Almack's), 'is indebted to one who has 'been for many years a meinber!' Still following the example of the old Halicarnassian, our author proceeds as rapidly as possible to convey narrative through the medium of dialogue:
"Have you ap
"Are you a subscriber to Almack's this season ?" plied for admission to Almack's ?" "What a dashing ball that was at Almack's on Wednesday!" "I did not see you at Almack's last night!" "Have you heard that the Mortons have applied for admission to Almack's and been rejected?" "I'm sure those vulgar low-bred creatures the Cottons have not the least chance of being admitted: it was a piece of great assurance on their part to suppose the ladies-patronesses could listen for a moment to an application from such a quarter." "O, I never saw the Marchioness of Londonderry look so well as she did at the last Almack's; she was so splendidly dressed." "That brute, Lord was quite tipsy at Almack's last night: I was sorry to see mamma give him the slightest countenance." These, and a hundred other expressions, are quite current in the higher circles on the subject of Al~ mack's.
Our author having thus proved himself so thoroughly acquainted with the phraseology and expressions' current in the higher circles,' proceeds to trace the chronicle from the earliest recorded mythi. 'When, or under what particular circumstances (saith he solemnly) Almack's was originally instituted, is not exactly known. It is first accidentally noticed by Horace Walpole.' We had imagined there was a line, attributed to that ancient and forgotten writer, Alexander Pope, running somewhat thus-if the decipherers of the old character used in that day be right in their interpretation :
To dine with Peers at Boodle's and Almack's.'
But let this pass. Our historian is of the inventive schoolthe Müller of the Metropolis. He informs us that the infant institution, dating from Horace Walpole, was not free from those storms to which all states are subject. That owing to some misunderstanding among the ladies-patronesses it was discontinued. 'It was reorganized on such an extensive scale, and under such 'powerful patronage, that it assumed a sway and importance in 'the fashionable world which its foundresses never contemplated:' that' a more despotic power never existed;' that all we read ' about political slavery in other countries, is not to be compared
'with this.' And, warming as he pursues the theme, our author places before us, in the most glowing language, the caprices and tyranny of this terrible Inquisition. It is not our intention to follow the ingenious chronicler through his details. The following dialogue (our author shines in polite dialogue) will suffice as a specimen of his peculiar fitness for the task he has undertaken:
Miss Manchester applied at the beginning of last season for a ticket. "Who is this Miss Manchester?" enquired Lady Dominant. "Does any body know any thing about her? I never heard the name before." Nor 1," said the Marchioness of Duffus. "Some upstart vulgar creature of City origin, I suppose," she continued, giving her head a most contemptuous toss.
"She is a very respectable young lady; I have seen her two or three times, and she is possessed of an immense fortune," said Baroness Positive.
"Made, I have no doubt, by her father's spinning-jennies," said Lady Dominant, sueeringly.
"Her father is a manufacturer in the Manchester trade, but he is a most respectable man: my brother and he are on very intimate terms," said the Baroness.
"Well, surely the impudence of these low-bred, vulgar people! it exceeds every thing," said the Countess of Speyside. Why, after this, it would not surprise me to see every coal-merchant's daughter in the City applying for admission."
O! the very idea of the thing is monstrous," observed Lady Rafford. "Besides, the creature's a perfect fright. You know, my dear
Baroness, you pointed her out to me one day in the Strand." "Quite a turnip face, I dare say," said Lady Dominant. "And cat's-eyes, I'll answer for it," observed the Marchioness. "You are both right," said Lady Rafford. "And you might have added carroty-hair. The very thought of such a horrid-looking creature, and a cotton merchant's daughter, waltzing at Almack's, almost throws me into hysterics."
"I think you are unreasonably severe," observed the Baroness. "She is heiress to a princely fortune. Her father is worth half-a-million, and her hand would therefore be deemed a prize by any nobleman in the land. My brother, Colonel Vincent, has begged of me as a particular favour, to do all I can to get her admitted, and I therefore hope your ladyships will give her a voucher."
"Yes," said Lady Dominant, bridling up, "yes, if we wish to disgrace ourselves and the order to which we belong. If we did, I dare say," she continued, biting her lip and tossing her head, "I dare say the piece of vulgarity would come to our balls dressed in some of her father's cotton-cloth. Better admit our housemaids at once."
I'll engage," said Lady Rafford, assuming an air of unwonted selfimportance, I'll engage this would-be-fashionable Miss Vulgarity could not acquit herself, though she were here, so well as one of my waiting maids.
"O!" said Lady Dominant, tartly, and with some haste, "O let us be done with this poor empty-headed but aspiring cotton-spinning miss;
the very idea of listening for one moment to her application is perfectly
There is a classical simplicity-a sublime naïveté in our author, which bears out the parallel we ventured to intimate between Herodotus and himself. Thus fought the Greeks at Thermo'pylæ!' says the Father of History. Such is Almack's!' exclaims the author of the 'Great Metropolis.' It may possibly be presumed, that one so eminently successful in his picture of the Privileged Ball-room of London might not be equally happy in the humbler and more homely subjects upon which he expatiates. Not so; he is equally accurate and profound in those sections of the work that immediately follow. In this second chapter, he sits in judgment on Political Opinions;' and by way of a fair specimen of those great political dinners which make so remarkable a feature in English manners, and which undoubtedly, on either side of the question, often seriously affect the position of political parties, he favours us with the subjoined picture :--
Scene. The Marylebone Festival.
"Vaiter, why don't you bring us something to eat ?"
"It's all on the table, sir," said the waiter, stretching out his arm tỏ withdraw an empty pudding-dish.
"And it's all off the table, too," said the coffin-maker, indignantly. "That's not my fault," observed John; and he scudded away with his arms full of empty dishes, to some unknown region where they were to be deposited.
"Why don't you complain to one of the stewards," said Dr Wade, who, in the scramble had, as already mentioned, come off very successfully. The Rev. Gentleman winked at Mr Murphy, in a way which evidently showed that he was enjoying a joke at the poor hungry undertaker's expense.
"Mr Savage," said the latter-Mr Savage was one of the stewards "here's a pretty go of it; nothing to eat; no, not a morsel. Better be at home on Yarmouth bloaters than this."
Whose fault's that ?" enquired Mr Savage, with inimitable sang froid. Mr Savage whispered across the table to Mr Fergus O'Connor, I hope the speeches to-night will be of the right Radical sort.' It's the waiter's fault, I suppose," said the man of coffins. "Poor fellow, he knew no better!"
"Well then," observed Mr Savage, "you have the remedy in your own hands; take his number."
But he's gone."
"Then why don't you go after him?"
"I tell you what it is, Mr Savage, I von't submit to be treated in this 'ere vay; I must have some grub, or my four shillings back again."
"I wish he may get either," whispered Dr Wade into my ear, with
a smile of that peculiar character which I never saw any one give but himself.
"What excellent music!" observed Mr Murphy to the " performer " of funerals, trying to soothe him down a little.
"What's music to a hungry stomach ?" said the other, lowering his brow. "Can I dine on music?"
Never mind," said a sturdy unwashed personage, the very image of Thistlewood of Cato Street notoriety, his head half buried in his breast; "never mind, my friend, you are at no loss any how. I would not give a farden for the whole kit of vat vas on the table; it vas no better than".
"It's all very vell for you to say so, after you have had a bellyful of the vitals," interrupted the undertaker, his choler rising still higher and higher. "I say, Mr Savage," he continued, "if I don't get something to eat, I'll be".
We think we have now fairly exhibited the versatility of our author, and have shown that he is equally at home at Almack's and the Marylebone Festival-we would only respectfully make one suggestion. In his next edition let him transfer the respective dialogues. The conversation which he ascribes to the ladies of Almack's would, we think, do just as well for the Marylebone Festival; while that which he relates as a faithful transcript of the conversation of the tradesmen of Marylebone, would be very pretty small-talk for great ladies, as they are imagined and depicted by our literary Alcibiades.
The author of the 'Great Metropolis' next invites our attention to the subject of Literature; and he treats it in a manner that must be allowed to be quite original. An ordinary writer stumbling on such a theme as the Literature of the British metropolis, at a period when it presents phenomena of peculiar interest, would have tasked his gravest powers to analyze the motley and active competitors for fame in that mart of intellect and knowledge. He would have entered into elaborate and careful criticisms on the authors-perhaps (if inclined to portraiture or gossip) he might have indulged in graphic sketches or characteristic anecdotes of the men. Not thus vulgar and commonplace is the design of the writer before us. He takes a view of the subject at once new and practical. He only estimates books by the prices they fetch in the market. He calculates the number of copies they sell. He can tell you to a farthing what an author gets for his copyrights. For example, his criticism on the Life of Lord Exmouth' is,-that it sold 1500 copies! He passes in review travellers and tourists, medical men, poets, novelists, and historians, and reduces them all to arithmetic! He, however, exempts from the class of authors thus estimated, one meritorious tribe, of whom he speaks with an affection that seems sym
pathetic-viz., 'those whose works have fallen still-born from the press!' He thinks that 'works of superior talent are consigned to eternal oblivion the very moment they have been ' ushered into being.' He declares that the resurrection of • Milton and Hume from the land of forgetfulness was merely the effect of chance;' and that it is beyond all question that the works of many others of great talent have never been awakened, nor ever will, from the sleep of death, into which they fell on the day of their publication.'
In another chapter, on Authors and Publishers,' he renews the subject; and now, for the first time, we are surprised by a deviation into something like sensible remark and accurate information.
The following anecdote is amusing-si non é vero é ben trovato :-'When the new edition of Mr Peter Cunningham's (son of Allan Cunningham) " Poems of Drummond of Haw'thornden" was being subscribed, one of the same class of booksellers, to whom the volume was submitted, enquired of the publisher, whether this Henry Drummond of Hawthornden was any relation of Henry Drummond the banker;-adding, that if he was, he would take a couple of copies, as he was sure the private friends of the author would ensure the sale of the book to a certain extent.'
We subjoin a passage which we really think deserves the serious attention of booksellers.
'There is another error, into which I think some of the leading publishing houses fall. It is an error which arises from a spirit of misdirected rivalry, and entails suffering on all parties. My allusion is to the practice which has been so common of late years among the leading houses, of bringing out important works as nearly as they can about the same time. If one house sees a rival establishment announce a work which promises to be popular, at a given time, such house very often makes a point of either delaying or accelerating, according to circumstances, some important work of which it may have undertaken the publication,- -so as that it may appear about the same time as the other. I have often known three, sometimes four, interesting works brought out within a few days of each other, solely from this spirit of rivalry. The consequence is, that the public attention being distracted between them, they all suffer to a greater or less extent; whereas, if an interval of a few weeks had taken place in the publication, the public attention could have been exclusively given for a short time to each, and thus greatly increased the sale of all. I say nothing of the extent to which literature suffers from this injudicious rivalry among publishers; because that, strictly speaking, is no matter for their consideration. I put the question wholly on the broad ground of business. I may be told that the number of books which are published in the course of a year is so great that two or three, from rival houses, must necessarily appear more