« VorigeDoorgaan »
ping my legs.come time, a tahich re- | his tick
no answer. We went down again || entered, and with pantomimic gesto the servants' hall. Being again tures I gave the inquirer to underasked our business, the tickets of ad- stand, that this was the man who mission were once more produced, could furnish satisfactory information on which one of these gentry took concerning me. The portly gentlecharge of our hats, and conducted man-a marquis, as I afterwards us to the company. On entering, I learned, who is appointed by the soremarked that several of its members || ciety to which the house belongs, to looked gravely at my feet, and I per- | do the honours of it-then asked my ceived with consternation that I was companion, who with several bows the only one of the party who ap- explained that he had brought me peared in boots. I took a seat at a with him, who he was bimself. My table on which lay several ultra news | friend gave his name. The marquis papers, for the purpose of conceal- | replied, that he had not the honour ing my legs. After conning these of his acquaintance; on which Mr. journals for some time, a tall portly Corduroy for the third time produced man, of a majestic figure, which re- || his ticket. The marquis then bade minded me of the description of Louis us welcome, and on learning that we XIV. came up to me, and inquired were English, observed that he too who I was, and what was my plea- | had once been in London. sure. The chin of this personage We were presently summoned to was buried in his cravat, which was dinner. During my continental tour a bad sign: for those who are en- || I had certainly seen several German gaged in the study of mankind may Il courts at table, but I had only a take it for a rule, that people who bird's-eye view of them from the muffle up their chins in cravats are gallery. This was the first time that to be trusted very little, if at all. I I had actually partaken of so sumpwas instantly aware of my ticklish si tuous an entertainment. Well might tuation, and had the presence of mind it be denominated royal. Luckily to pretend not to understand him. I was not that day in a sentimental As, however, it was absolutely ne- mood, otherwise I should not have cessary, to give him some answer, I been able to taste a morsel. I should determined to reply in a language have fancied that all these dishes which he did not understand. But were steeped in blood and tears shed what language was that to be? The by the despairing wretches and suigenerality of Frenchmen indeed knowcides who are daily plundered in the none but their mother tongue, but gambling-houses of Paris. I must, gamblers are cosmopolites, they are however, obserye, that the whole polyglots. I therefore hastily dished party seemed to have excellent apup for him a lingual ragout, com- petites, which was a pleasing sign of pounded of our English Sir, the some remains of virtue; for consumGerman Herr, and the Italian Sig- mate gamblers and sharpers live, it noro. This olla podrida produced is well known, like anchorets, and eat the desired effect. The grand point and drink sparingly. namely was, to gain time till my Man- At the centre of the oval table chester friend, who had just left the was seated the marquis and master room, should return. At length hell of the ceremonies, alike surpassing all in majesty of person and dignity | most venomous serpents have at least of demeanour. During the whole a beautiful skin. But in fact this prorepast, his aids-de-camp were inces-voking gravity is one of the mortal santly bringing him dispatches of all sins in which the innate demon of arsizes, from duodecimo to the largest rogance speaks most distinctly. Most folio, with seals of corresponding di- assuredly, the ancient Roman senamensions. Themarquis opened them, tors, when the Gauls were before perused them without moving a mus- their gates, could not have assumed cle, and then handed them to a foot- a more important mien, than a petman who stood behind bim. It had ty clerk in a passport-office puts on the air all around him of a general's when he takes down a description of head-quarters. I asked my philoso- your person. This importance was phy the meaning of this brisk corre- || always particularly obnoxious to me spondence. It replied, that these in bankers and other commercial men. were innocent love-letters which the To count and make money, and to police exchanged with the marquis; calculate the profit, is to be sure a for, be it remarked, the former is on very cheerful business; but there is the most friendly terms with the di- nothing sublime in it, and I cannot rectors of the establishment, and they conceive why those gentlemen should communicate to each other the result assume such a pompous and imposing of their anthropological observations. I look. The second reflection which For the rest, the conversation at ta- | I am accustomed to make at tables ble was dull enough, and I could || where games of chance are played is not help quizzing the company in this: If all the energy and passion, my own mind by way of pastime. the emotions and exertions, the hopes
Dinner over, and having taken | and fears, the nocturnal vigils, the coffee, play began. My Manches-joys and sorrows, which are annually ter friend whispered me, that we squandered throughout Europe at could not certainly have dined any | the gaming-table; if all these were where in such style as we had done spared, would they suffice to form a under fifty francs, and it would be Roman people and a Roman history? exceedingly indelicate if one of us at But there's the rub! Because every least did not join in the game. I re- man is born as a Roman, civil society plied, “ that if he chose to be deli- | seeks to unromanize him; and therecate I could have no objection, but fore we have games of hazard, and that I would not play,” My compa- novels, and Italian operas, and masnion accordingly took his seat at the querades, and lotteries, and routs, and table, and carried his delicacy to such attendances, and ceremonies, and the a length, that he lost twelve hundred fifteen or twenty articles of dress, francs. Meanwhile, I had occasion which, with salutary loss of time, we to confirm observations which I had have daily to put on and off-therepreviously made on games of chance. fore are all these things introduced, The first is, that the gravity pre- that the exuberant energies may inserved by the keepers of the bank sensibly evaporate. Fortunately, men while following their rascally occu-l have not succeeded in doing that with pation is quite intolerable. They Nature which they have accomplishmight sport a joke now and then : the ed with their own kind; otherwise honest lacques hie af. || what was his
alike of dogs and
they would long since have dribbled || play: at length he staked his wife's away the ocean in fountains, and frit- | country-seat against an Englishman, tered away volcanoes in Chinese fire- and lost that too. The winner postworks, that they might have no more ed away immediately from the gamto apprehend from tempests and ing-table in the middle of the night lava!
to the estate, four leagues distant We returned home; I, refreshed from Paris, and very early in the in body and mind, but my companion | morning rang violently at the bell of exceedingly out of humour. He re- || the house. The dogs barked furilated to his honest lacquey what ill- || ously, and the gardener inquired luck he had experienced. This af- what was his business at so early an forded me a fresh occasion for ob- | hour. Regardless alike of dogs and serving what amiable creatures the men, the intruder proceeded at his French are. A pedantic English leisure to inspect the premises. The moralist, who, like this laquai de gardener at length began to be rude; place, had warned my friend to be on which the Englishman seized him ware of gamblers, would have loaded by the collar, and tumbled him out him with reproaches, had he disre- of the house, with this valediction: garded this warning, and thereby “ Go to the d-1! I have no occasustained loss, and would have said, sion for you.” The marchioness, “ It serves you right! Why did you roused by the scuffle, ran down stairs not follow my advice?" Our gene- || in a great fright, half dressed, and rous lacquey pursued a very differ- | inquired of the stranger what was ent course. At first, after my coun- his pleasure. He replied, that he tryman's recital of his misfortune, he was merely come to take a walk in smiled without saying a word, proba- bis park, and at the same time shewbly calculating in silence the amounted her the paper by which the marof the commission he was to receive quis ceded to him the estate. The from the directors of the gambling- unhappy woman died soon afterhouse. He then merely observed, || wards of a broken heart. The di“Don't fret, sir!"you will have better rectors of the gambling-house, howluck another time." By way of cheer- ever, behaved very generously to the ing up his spirits, he related several marquis, as they sometimes do to anecdotes of gamblers, and among their victims, and appointed him to others the following: The marquis do the honours of that house, with a above-mentioned, formerly an emi- salary of one hundred francs a day, grant, and who returned to France What effect this story had on the a beggar at the Restoration, had the mind of my friend I know not. It good fortune to marry a rich wife. In was very late: we shook hands and one night he lost all he was worth at | parted.
THE COMPLAINTS OF A HALF-PAY OFFICER
Or, Was it so Twenty Years ago? “ Oh! the charms of a country | same eternal park-chaise has passed town!" I exclaimed as I reclined in my door at least half-a-dozen times my easy chair after dinner. “ The within this half-hour. There must be a ball in the town. I'll ring and y speckled his head; and his frame inquire. Betty, what is there going could no longer boast the charms of on in the town this evening?"_"La, true proportion. The waistcoat and sir! don't you know? - There's a ball its neighbour required to be slack.. given by the officers of the regiment ened ere they could be brought to. to-night."-"Bless my soul! now I re- fit the increased dimensions of my collect, I had a ticket put into my waist, and what were once such inti. hand by Captain Clatterbeel the other mate friends seemed now quite on day at the billiard-table, and I dare distant terms. This breach it rer say it has lain in my great-coat poc required no small effort to restore; ket ever since.” The pocket was for the shirt, not content with dissearched, and forth came the ticket. playing the glories of the washtub in I had not been at an English ball for the dogs-ears and frill, seemed deter, near twenty years, having been mostmined, like an officious go-between, part of that time on foreign service. if possible, to perpetuate the unforI was quite unused to these things, tunate separation; while, to increase but I was taken by surprise, and half the general discordance, the coat, promised the captain; so I resolved taking its example from man, and to go, if it was only for the novelty proving its ignoble birth (for it owed of the thing to
its existence to a country Snip), by Forthwith the black breeches and the airs it assumed, appeared, withla silk stockings are paraded (the latter vulgarity, truly provincial, to look being carefully examined by Betty), down with contempt on the more une i a waistcoat of superior whiteness se- fashionable companions with which lected from my scanty wardrobe, and necessity had compelled it to associthe whole well aired; for as my Pen ate. The stockings alone appeared insular anecdotes had become stale, quite at ease ; they seemed to light and as I had neither wit nor blarney | up with superior gloss as they again to supply their place, these requisites found themselves at home on that for a dinner or an evening party had limb which used to set all hearts on long slumbered in ignoble repose.fire, and which yet stood forth in all The nether vestiments, as I released the pride of manly beauty. In a them from their confinement, me- twinkling I am dressed; for, thanks thought, assumed a fresher look than to the present fashion, all the trou. when I last drew them on; and the ble of ornamenting the person is mowaistcoat, whose wrinkles had not for nopolized by the fair sex, or by that so long a period been smoothed by non-descript, the dandy, which can the good fare of a rich neighbour, be considered as of no sex at all. seemed, unconscious of its antique Without considering the fashion cut, to brighten up at the idea of of my dress, or that I was almost again appearing in the ranks of fa- . past the age for dancing, I entered shion. But, alas! their owner did the ball-room with the confidence, not appear the fresher or the young- and, I trust, the air of a gentleman, er for lying by! Time had left its though not of the modern school, crow's-foot traces on his visage; the where the Mandarin of a grocer'swinautumnal tints of life had already be dow is permitted to set the fashion Vol. III. No. XV....:
of a bow. The room was nearly the room. Can twenty years have full, but the dancing had not com- made this revolution in my inclinamenced. As all eyes were naturally tions? I began, therefore, at the tipturned towards the door to criticize top of beauty and fashion, and deand pull to pieces the comers-in, I scended in a regular ratio till I reachcould not of course escape the no-ed that term of the series when I tice of the company. Of those who thought I ought to stop. But all knew me, some recognised me with were engaged, and for the whole a slight inclination of the head, others night. Time was when I did not turned their eyes another way, and find the ladies so deeply engaged. some tittered and exchanged looks. Can twenty years have made such a Those who knew me not I could difference? This reflection was folperceive made interrogatories, in the lowed by a sudden rising in my throat, answers to which I could distinguish but I gulped it down with a sigh. the word " only,” which magical“ N'importe! I will not dance, I will sound effectually prevented a second observe.” My eyes were naturally look from those eyes which, I could attracted to a handsome couple, who observe, often rested on persons danced extremely well. I expected whose sole attractions were a title or to find all the optics in the same dia fortune. There is something won- rection as my own; but, ho! they derfully bewitching in rank and riches; were pointed towards a pair who for, with all my philosophy, I con were excessively plain, and danced fess I never heard that a man had most abominably. Surely, thought I, ten thousand a year or a title with they are looking at these people, and out taking a second look at him. I wondering how they can make such leave those with more reflection than fools of themselves; for what else myself to account for this feeling. can make them turn from beauty and The striking up of a quadrille an- grace to deformity and awkwardness? nounced the preparation for the A whisper from a brother demiedance. As I used to be esteemed a solde told me the cause. The couple good dancer, and had once figured I admired were poor" airy nothings," in the native country of the quadrille, with scarce “ a local habitation or a I thought myself privileged to stand name," for they had neither possesup. There was a time when I ge- sions nor rank. They were in fact, nerally selected the plainest partner | according to the modern phraseoloin the room. Whether this proceed gy, nobodies. The others were good ed from vanity in shewing the con- solid somebodies, whom every one trast between their deformity and knew, pretended to know, or wished my handsone person, or whether it to know, and possessing “local habiarose from a feeling of pity springing tations" of no mean value or extent, from a naturally kind disposition, or and names of high sound and import. whether a mixture of both these “ But that very fat lady," said I, causes might have influenced me, I " who dances with such agility, and leave others to guess. Now, how- attracts so much notice, surely she ever, I found the case altered. I felt is somebody of consequence?"--"You a desire to dance with the prettiest are mistaken," said my friend;-** she and most distinguished partner in is the least body in the room. They