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The Seven Sons of Mammon.
BY GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA.
HAT is the proverbial dish known as "Humble Pie" made of? "Sugar and spice, and all that's nice," as is suited to the appetite of little girls? "Snips and snails, and puppy-dogs' tails," as beseems the ruder stomachs of little boys? It is questionable. Many consider Humble Pie to be a mere figure of speech-a rhetorical viand, which might furnish the table of him who dines with Duke Humphrey, having previously breakfasted with a Barmecide, lunched on diagrams, and filled himself with the east wind. Still, there is reason to believe that Humble Pie was a viand actually consumed by our great grandmothers; and taking into account the ingredients in a recipe, which the writer has found in a very old volume of the Gentleman's Magazine, the pie need have been by no means so untoothsome as its name would imply: "Take the humbles of a deer," says the recipe,-you see, there is venison for you to begin with,—and then it goes on to enumerate slices of bacon, condiments, buttered crust, and so forth all things by no means suggestive of humility. He who first decried Humble Pie, and libelled it as a mean and shabby kind of victuals, was very probably some envious one who came late to the feast, and of the succulent pasty found only the pie-dish and some brown flakes of crust remaining.
The Humble Pie which the ex-curate Ruthyn Pendragon was invited
to eat soon after his departure from Swordsley was, however, the metaphorical, and not the dainty dish. He looked at it with loathing, but dreaded lest he might have to eat it perforce, as Pistol ate his leek, -fortune cudgelling him the while, and had he not been a clergyman, he might have said, again with ancient Pistol, "I eat, and eke I swear." Not but that I think swearing to be quite practicable without verbal maledictions. Good manners have banished oaths from the drawingroom and the dinner-table; but pray, did you never see the master of the house look a very unmistakable malison at the servants if the sidedishes were not handed round properly, or the wines were corked? Did you never detect your charming neighbour in the ocular utterance of at least a score naughty words, when, by unskilful carving, you have given her the wings of a bird which would not enable her to fly away, or when in the dance it has been your misfortune to tread on and tear one of her hundred-and-fifty flounces? We are commanded not to swear at all; but having stifled the gros mots, let us carry out the good work by putting a bit between our teeth, lest they too should grind themselves in mute curses; let us put a bearing-rein on our shoulders, lest they should shrug, and a kicking-strap on our fingers, lest they should be clenched in rage, and especially blinkers over our eyes, far too prone as they are, on slight provocation, to dart malignant expletives to the right and to the left.
So Ruthyn Pendragon, being reverend, did not swear-at least out loud; but his brow grew darker, and his eye fiercer, and he bit his lip more closely every day. It is a hard fight, that tussle with the strong, rich, well backed-up world—and you all untrained, underfed, and friendless; you think you may win the contest by science and finish. Well, if you be wondrous wise, you may do so; but in general the brute force of your opponent carries the day, and one swashing blow from the Hercules you are battling with sends you sprawling. And pray mark the philosophy in the rhyme of the nursery hero, who was "wondrous wise:" He jumped into a quickset hedge, and scratched out both his eyes; that is to say, he got into difficulties; he was broken, ruined, sold up; he went to the dogs; his enemies exulted, and said, "There is an end of our friend. It is all up with him. We always thought so." Indeed the man's wondrous wisdom came to his aid; for by mere force of marvellous sagacity and strong will, did he not scratch his eyes in again.
Ruthyn Pendragon found that of his own motion he had thrown up the means of earning a decent and reputable livelihood. He had got nothing in exchange but a gratuitous seat at an ordinary, at which the staple in the bill of fare was Humble Pie. Wheresoever he turned, he found the detested dish paraded before him. It was Humble Pie hot and Humble Pie cold. Humble Pie roast and boiled; pâté à l'humble serviteur, and not at all à la financière. He was haunted by the ghost of