"A GATHERING OF HAPPINESS, A CONCENTRATION AND COMBINATION OF PLEASANT DETAILS, A THRONG OF GLAD FACES, A MUSTER OF ELATED HEARTS."
THE BED-BOOK OF HAPPINESS
Being a Colligation or Assemblage of Cheerful Writings brought together from many quarters into this one compass for the diversion, distraction, and delight of those who lie abed,—a friend to the invalid, a companion to the sleepless, an excuse to the tired, by
HODDER AND STOUGHTON LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO
PRINTED IN 1914 BY HAZELL, WATSON AND VINEY, LD., LONDON AND AYLESBURY.
SIR JESSE BOOT
If, in my pages, those who suffer find Such cheer as warms your heart and lights your mind, Glad shall I be, but gladder, prouder too, If this my book become a friend like you.
_BESIDE YOUR BED I COME TO STAY WITH MAGIC MORE THAN HUMAN SKILL, MY PAGES RUN TO DO YOUR WILL, MY COVERS KEEP YOUR CARES AWAY.
THE NURSE ARRIVES WITH LADEN TRAY, THE DOCTOR CANCELS DRAUGHT AND PILL; BESIDE YOUR BED I COME TO STAY WITH MAGIC MORE THAN HUMAN SKILL.
AND YOU THRO' FAERY LANDS WILL STRAY, AT LAUGHTER'S FOUNTAIN DRINK YOUR FILL, FOR THO' YOUR BODY CRY "I'M ILL!" YOUR MIND WILL DANCE FROM NIGHT TO DAY. BESIDE YOUR BED I COME TO STAY WITH MAGIC MORE THAN HUMAN SKILL_.
THE RENDERING OF THANKS
To Mr. Austin Dobson and his publishers, Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner & Co., Ltd.
To Mr. R.A. Streatfeild, Mr. Henry Festing Jones, and Mr. A.C. Fifield, the publisher, for permission to make use of "The Note Books of Samuel Butler."
To Mr. W. Aldis Wright and Messrs. Macmillan for my quotations from "The Letters of Edward FitzGerald."
To Mr. E.I. Carlyle, author of "The Life of William Cobbett."
To Sir Herbert Stephen and Messrs. Bowes & Bowes of Cambridge for permission to include verses from the "Lapsus Calami" of J.K. Stephen.
To Mrs. Hole, Mr. G.A.B. Dewar, and Messrs. George Allen & Co., for my quotations from Mr. Dewar's "The Letters of Samuel Reynolds Hole."
To Messrs. Chatto & Windus for my extracts from the Works of Mark Twain.
To Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons for permission to make a quotation from "Mrs. Brookfield and her Circle."
To Messrs. Constable & Co. for my raid on the "Letters of T.E. Brown."
To Messrs. George Bell & Son for the verses taken from C.S. Calverley's "Fly Leaves."
To Mr. E.V. Lucas, prince of anthologists, for the liberal use I have made of his "Life of Charles Lamb."
To Mr. G.K. Chesterton, and his publishers, Messrs. Methuen, Mr. Duckworth, Mr. J.M. Dent, and Mr. John Lane.
To Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. (the owners of the copyright) for permission to include letters of Thackeray to Mrs. Brookfield.
To Messrs. Gibbings & Co. for my extracts from the admirable translation of Sainte-Beuve.
And to all authors, living and dead, who have assembled in this place to entertain the sick and the weary.
"It is worth," said Dr. Johnson, "a thousand pounds a year to have the habit of looking on the bright side of things."
It is worth more than all money to have the capacity, the power, the will to see the bright side of things, to possess the assurance that there is a veritable and persisting bright side of things, when the mind is gloomed by physical weakness and the heart is conscious only of languor and distress. At such a dull time even a long-established habit may desert us; with our faculties clouded and obscured we are tempted to doubt the entire philosophy of our former life; we sink down into the sheets of discomfort, and roll our heads restlessly on the pillow of discontent; we almost extract a morbid satisfaction from the fuliginous surrenderings of pessimism. Mrs. Gummidge at our bedside might be as unwelcome as Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, or Zophar the Naamathite; but there is a Widow in the soul of all men as mournful and lugubrious as the tearful sister of Mr. Peggotty, and in our weakness it is often this dismal self-comforter we are disposed to summon to our aid. "My soul is weary of my life," cried Job; "I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul."
Now, there is not a wise doctor in the world, nor any man who truly knows himself, but will acknowledge and confess the enormous importance to physical recovery of mental well-being. The thing has become platitudinous, but remains as difficult as ever. If Christian Science on its physiological side had been an easy matter it would long ago have converted the world. The trouble is that obvious things are not always easy. It is obvious to the victim of alcoholic or nicotine poisoning that he would be infinitely better in health could he abjure alcohol or tobacco; he does not need to be philosophised or theologised into this conviction; he knows it better than his teachers. His necessity is a superadded force to the will within his soul which has lost the power of action. And so with the will of the sick person, who knows very well that if he could rid himself of dejection and heaviness his health would come back to him on swallows' wings. Obvious, palpable, more certain than to-morrow's sun; but how difficult, how hard, nay, sometimes how impossible! An honest man like Father Tyrrell confesses that in certain bouts with the flesh faith may desert us, even the religious faith of a life-time may fall in ruins round our naked soul.
I was once speaking on this subject to Sir Jesse Boot, telling him how hard I had found it to amuse and distract the mind of one of my children in the extreme weakness which fell upon her after an operation. I told him that I had searched my book-shelves for stories, histories, anthologies, and journeyings; that I had carried to the bedside piles of books which I thought the most suitable; and that I had read from these books day after day, succeeding for some few minutes at a time to interest the sick child, but ending almost in every case with failure and defeat. I found that humour could bore, that narrative could irritate, that essays could worry and perplex, that poetry could depress, and that wit could tease with its cleverness. Moreover, I found that one could not go straight to any anthology in existence without coming unexpectedly, and before one was aware of it, upon some passage so mournful or sad or pathetic that it undid at a sentence all the good which had been done by luckier reading. My friend, who is himself a great reader, and who has borne for some years a heavy burden of infirmity, agreed that cheerful reading is of immense help in sickness and also confessed that it is difficult to find any one book which ministers to a mind weakened by illness or tortured by insomnia.
The present volume is the outcome of that conversation. I determined to compile a book which from the first page to the last should be a happy book, a book which would come to be a friend of all those who share in any way the sickness of the world, a book to which everybody could go with the sure knowledge that they would find there nothing to depress, nothing to exacerbate irritable nerves, nothing to confirm the mind in dejection. And on its positive side I said that this book should be diverse and changeful in its happiness. I planned that while cheerfulness should be its soul, the expression of that cheerfulness should avoid monotony with as great an energy as the book itself avoided depression. My theory was a book whose pages should resemble rather an olla podrida of variety than a tautological joint of monotonous nutriment. And I sought to fill my wallet rather from the crumbs let fall by the happy feasters than from the too familiar table of the great masters.
"To muse, to dream, to conceive of fine works, is a delightful occupation." But one must go from conception to execution, crossing the gulf that separates "these two hemispheres of Art." "The man," says Balzac, "who can but sketch his purpose beforehand in words is regarded as a wonder, and every artist and writer possesses that faculty. But gestation, fruition, the laborious rearing of the offspring, putting it to bed every night full fed with milk, embracing it anew every morning with the inexhaustible affection of a mother's heart, licking it clean, dressing it a hundred times in the richest garb only to be instantly destroyed; then never to be cast down at the convulsions of this headlong life till the living masterpiece is perfected which in sculpture speaks to every eye, in literature to every intellect, in painting to every memory, in music to every heart!—this is the task of execution."
Even the compiler knows something of this passion of the artist, experiences some at least of the convulsions of this headlong life, makes acquaintance certainly with this task of execution. To conceive such a volume as a Bed-Book of Happiness is one matter, to make it in very fact a Bed-Book of Happiness is another and a much harder matter. For, to begin with, one's judgment is not nearly so free and one's field of selection not nearly so wide as the anthologist's whose book is for all sorts and conditions of men, who may be as merry as he wishes on one page, as solemn as he chooses on the next, and as pathetic or sentimental as he likes on the page beyond. One has had to reject, for instance, humour that is too boisterous or noisy, wit that is too stinging and acrimonious, anecdotes that are touched with cruelty, essays that, otherwise cheerful, deviate into the shadows of a too sombre reflection. One has sought to compile a book of cheerfulness that is kind and of happiness that is quiet and composed. One has had always in mind the invalid just able to bear the effort of listening to a melodious voice. To amuse, to distract, to divert, and above all to charm—to bring a smile to the mind rather than laughter to the lips—has been the guiding principle of this book, and the task has not been easy. It is really extraordinary, to give but one instance of my difficulties, how frequently the most amusing work of comic writers is ruined by some chuckling jests about coffins, undertakers, or graves. If any reader in full health miss from this throng of glad faces, this muster of elated hearts, the most amusing and delightful of his familiar friends, let him ask himself, before he pass judgment on the anthologist, before he mistake a deliberate omission for a careless forgetfulness, whether those good friends of his, amiable and welcome enough at the dinner-table, are the companions he would choose for his most wearisome hours or for the bedside of his sick child. And if in these pages another should find that which neither amuses nor diverts his mind, that which seems to him to miss the magic and to lack the charm of happiness, let him pass on, with as much charity as he can spare for the anthologist, remembering the proverb of Terence and counting himself an infinitely happier man for this clear proof of his superior judgment.
I wished to include in this book, from the literature of other countries, such gentle, whimsical humour as one finds in the letters of FitzGerald or the Essays of Lamb. But, with all my searching I could find nothing of that kind, and judges whom I can trust assure me that no other literature has the exquisite note of happiness which sounds through English letters so quietly, so cheerfully, and so contentedly. Therefore my Bed-Book is almost entirely an English Bed-Book, for I liked not the biting acid of Voltaire's epigrams any more than the rollicking and disgustful coarseness of Boccaccio or Rabelais. It is an interesting reflection, if it be true, that English literature is par excellence the literature of Happiness.
"He who puts forth one depressing thought," says Lady Rachel Howard, "aids Satan in his work of torment. He who puts forth one cheering thought aids God in His work of beneficence." I have acted in the faith that life is essentially good, that the universe presents to the natural intuition of man a bright and glorious expression of Divine happiness, that to be fruitful, as George Sand has it, life must be felt as a blessing. One of the characters in a novel by Dostoeevsky says, "Men are made for happiness, and any one who is completely happy has a right to say to himself, 'I am doing God's will on earth.' All the righteous, all the saints, all the holy martyrs were happy."
Happiness, in its truest and only lasting sense, is the condition of a soul at unity with itself and in harmony with existence. To bring the sick and the sad and the unhappy at least some way on the road to this blissful state, is the purpose of my book; and it leaves me on its travel round the world with the wish that to whatever bedside of sickness, suffering, and lethargy it may come, it may bring with it the magic and contagious joy of those rare and gracious people whose longed-for visits to an invalid are like draughts of rejoicing health. I hope that my fine covers may soon be worn to the comfort of an old garment, that my new pages may be quickly shabbied to the endearment of a familiar face, and that the book will live at bedsides deepening and sweetening the reader's affection for its faded leaves till it come to seem an old, faithful, and never-failing friend, one who is never at fault and never a deserter, and without whom life would lose one of its fondest companionships.
ALLSTON, WASHINGTON: The Lost Ornament 191
ANONYMOUS: The Gentle Reader 14 King David and the Gardener 198 Sabbath Bells 275 From the Greek Anthology 313 Letter from an Indian Gentleman to an English Friend 324 A Babu Letter 327 Mary Powell 341 A Tur'ble Chap 374 After Mr. Masefield 384 Hits and Misses 443 The Broken Window 443
BAGEHOT, WALTER: Letters 212
BALMANNO, MRS.: Charles and his Sister 193
BETHAM, M.M.: Miss Pate 190
BOSWELL: Dr. Johnson at Court 346
BROOKFIELD, W.H.: Mr. Brookfield in his Youth 376
BROWN, T.E.: Letters of T.E. Brown 85
BUTLER, SAMUEL: Clergyman and Chickens 15 Melchisedec 15 Eating and Proselytising 15 Sea-sickness 17 Assimilation and Persecution 17 Night-shirts and Babies 17 Does Mamma Know? 18 Croesus and his Kitchen-maid 19 Adam and Eve 24 Fire 24 The Electric Light in its Infancy 25 New-laid Eggs 25 Snapshotting a Bishop 26
BYRON: Apples 359
CALVERLEY, CHARLES: Visions 99 The Schoolmaster Abroad with his Son 174 Motherhood 257 "Forever" 337
CARLYLE: Richter 1
CARROLL, LEWIS: The Author of "Alice" 378
CHESTERTON, G.K.: The Wisdom of G.K.C. 140
COBBETT, WILLIAM: His Marriage 230 Life at Botley 233 His Children 237
Tartarin de Tarascon 176
DICKENS, CHARLES: Shy Neighbourhoods 70 The Calais Night-boat 200 Mr. Testator 329
DOBSON, AUSTIN: The Secrets of the Heart 34 To "Lydia Languish" 137 The Cap that Fits 240 A Garden Idyll 286 Love in Winter 353 From the Ballad a-la-Mode 417
FITZGERALD, EDWARD: Letters of Fitz 127
GASKELL, MRS.: Cranford 291
GRONOW, CAPTAIN: Sir John Waters 47 Lord Westmoreland 51 Colonel Kelly and his Blacking 52 John Kemble 53 Rogers and Luttrell 54 The Pig-faced Lady 57 Hoby, the Bootmaker, of St. James's Street 58 Harrington House and Lord Petersham 60 Lord Alvanley 61 Sally Lunn 66 "Monk" Lewis 67
HAYDON, B.R.: Haydon's Immortal Night 181
H.B.: Miss Stipp of Plover's Court 385 Two Old Gentlemen 424
HAZLITT: Persons one would wish to have seen 180 Hobson's Choice 279 Wit and Laughter 351
HOLE, DEAN: "The Vulgar Tongue" 146 The Happy Dean 249
HOOD: The Carelesse Nurse Mayd 69 "Please to Ring the Belle" 248 Sally Simpkin's Lament; or John Jones's Kit-cat-astrophe 307 "Love, with a Witness!" 328 Ode to Peace 404
INGOLDSBY: Hints for an Historical Play; to be called William Rufus; or, the Red Rover 122 The Tragedy 214 New-made Honour 312
J.B.: Elia's Tail 192
JOHNSON, SAMUEL: Music 402 Neatness in Excess 402 A Young Lady's "Needs" 403 "Irene" 403
JONSON, BEN: The Woodcraft of Jonson 253
KEATS: To his Brother 186
LAMB, CHARLES: "Sixpenny Jokes" 185 Lamb's Task 186 In a Coach 197
LANDOR, WALTER SAVAGE: Landorisms 350
LEIGH, HENRY S.: Where—and oh! Where? 33 The Answer of Lady Clara Vere de Vere 252
LEWES, G.H.: Goethe's Mother 28
MACAULAY, LORD: "Boswell and Johnson" 102 Macaulay's Wit 290
MERIVALE, CHARLES: From the Greek Anthology 313
MONTAIGNE: Odours and Moustaches 415
PERCY ANECDOTES: The Great Conde 2 A Classical Ass 3 Memory 4 "Come in Here" 4 A Pope Innocent 5 A Good Paraphrase 5 Irish Priest 6 A Digression 7 Fortune-teller 7 Gasconades 8 Tribute to Beauty 8 Begging Quarter 9 Gascon Reproved 9 Absent Man 11 Pride 12 Witty Coward 12 Valuing Beauty 12 Pro Aris et Focis 14
PRIOR, MATTHEW: Epigrams 345
RELIGIO MEDICI: The Happiness of Sir Thomas Browne 244
RICHTER: Theisse 1 Broken Studies 1
ROBINSON, CRABB: Your Hat, Sir 191
SAINTE-BEUVE: The Charming Frenchman: Bossuet, Rousseau, Joubert, Mme D'Houdetot, Mme de Remusat, Diderot, La Bruyere 269
SELDEN, JOHN: Table-talk of John Selden 309
SMITH, ALEXANDER: Dreamthorp 418
SMITH, SYDNEY: A Little Moral Advice 360 Mrs. Partington 363
STEPHEN, J.K.: In a Visitor's Book 126 A Sonnet 345
STERNE: The Supper 118 The Grace 120 Uncle Toby and the Fly 277
STOW: Old London Sports 314
THACKERAY: Letters from Thackeray 406
THOMSON, MISS E.G.: Lewis Carroll 380
THOREAU: Open Air 339
TWAIN, MARK: British Festivities 38 Mark's Baby 139 Enigma 243 The Jumping Frog 259 How Mark was Sold 310 A Newspaper Paragraph 335 Mental Photographs 354 How Mark edited an Agricultural Paper 365
WALPOLE, HORACE: Chatter of a Dilettante 221
WALTON, IZAAK: Angling Cheer 356
WELLESLEY: From the Greek Anthology (altered) 313
WIT ON OCCASION 444
THE BED-BOOK OF HAPPINESS
THEISSE [Sidenote: Richter]
In his seventy-second year his face is a thanksgiving for his former life, and a love-letter to all mankind.
RICHTER [Sidenote: Carlyle]
We have heard that he was a man universally loved, as well as honoured ... a friendly, true, and high-minded man; copious in speech, which was full of grave, genuine humour; contented with simple people and simple pleasures; and himself of the simplest habits and wishes.
BROKEN STUDIES [Sidenote: Richter]
I deny myself my evening meal in my eagerness to work; but the interruptions by my children I cannot deny myself.
THE GREAT CONDE [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
The Great Conde passing through the city of Sens, which belonged to Burgundy, and of which he was the governor, took great pleasure in disconcerting the different companies who came to compliment him. The Abbe Boileau, brother of the poet, was commissioned to make a speech to the Prince at the head of the chapter. Conde wishing to disconcert the orator, advanced his head and large nose towards the Abbe, as if with the intention of hearing him more distinctly, but in reality to make him blunder if possible. The Abbe, who perceived his design, pretended to be greatly embarrassed, and thus began his speech: "My lord, your highness ought not to be surprised to see me tremble, when I appear before you at the head of a company of ecclesiastics; were I at the head of an army of thirty thousand men, I should tremble much more." The Prince was so charmed with this sally that he embraced the orator without suffering him to proceed. He asked his name; and when he found that he was brother to M. Despreaux, he redoubled his attentions, and invited him to dinner.
The Prince on another occasion thought himself offended by the Abbe de Voisenon; Voisenon, hearing of this, went to Court to exculpate himself. As soon as the Prince saw him he turned away from him. "Thank God!" said Voisenon, "I have been misinformed, sir; your highness does not treat me as if I were an enemy." "How do you see that, M. Abbe?" said his highness coldly over his shoulder. "Because, sir," answered the Abbe, "your highness never turns your back upon an enemy." "My dear Abbe," exclaimed the Prince and Field-Marshal, turning round and taking him by the hand, "it is quite impossible for any man to be angry with you."
A CLASSICAL ASS [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
The ass, though the dullest of all unlaughing animals, is reported to have once accomplished a great feat in the way of exciting laughter. Marcus Crassus, the grandfather of the hero of that name, who fell in the Parthian War, was a person of such immovable gravity of countenance that, in the whole course of his life, he was never known to laugh but once, and hence was surnamed Agelastus. Not all that the wittiest men of his time could say, nor aught that comedy or farce could produce on the stage, was ever known to call up more than a smile on his iron-bound countenance. Happening one day, however, to stray into the fields, he espied an ass browsing on thistles; and in this there appears to have been something so eminently ridiculous in those days that the man who never laughed before could not help laughing at it outright. It was but the burst of a moment; Agelastus immediately recovered himself, and never laughed again.
MEMORY [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
A player being reproached by Rich for having forgot some of the words in "The Beggar's Opera," on the fifty-third night of its performance, cried out, "What! do you think one can remember a thing for ever?"
"COME IN HERE" [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
Burton, in his "Melancholy," quoting from Poggius, the Florentine, tells us of a physician in Milan who kept a house for the reception of lunatics, and, by way of cure, used to make his patients stand for a length of time in a pit of water, some up to the knees, some to the girdle, and others as high as the chin, pro modo insaniae, according as they were more or less affected. An inmate of this establishment, who happened, "by chance," to be pretty well recovered, was standing at the door of the house, and, seeing a gallant cavalier ride past with a hawk on his fist, and his spaniels after him, he must needs ask what all these preparations meant. The cavalier answered, "To kill game." "What may the game be worth which you kill in the course of a year?" rejoined the patient. "About five or ten crowns." "And what may your horse, dogs, and hawks stand you in?" "Four hundred crowns more." On hearing this, the patient with great earnestness of manner, bade the cavalier instantly begone, as he valued his life and welfare; "For," said he, "if our master come and find you here, he will put you into his pit up to the very chin."
A POPE INNOCENT [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
When King James I. visited Sir Thomas Pope, knt., in Oxfordshire, his lady had lately brought him a daughter, and the babe was presented to the King with a paper of verses in her hand; "Which," quoth Fuller, "as they pleased the King, I hope they will please the reader."
See, this little mistress here, Did never sit in Peter's chair, Or a triple crown did wear, And yet she is a Pope.
No benefice she ever sold, Nor did dispense with sins for gold, She hardly is a se'nnight old, And yet she is a Pope.
No king her feet did ever kiss, Or had from her worse look than this; Nor did she ever hope To saint one with a rope, And yet she is a Pope.
A female Pope you'll say, a second Joan! No, sure she is Pope Innocent, or none!
A GOOD PARAPHRASE [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
On the eve of a battle an officer came to ask permission of the Marechal de Toiras to go and see his father, who was on his death-bed. "Go," said the general, "you honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land."
IRISH PRIEST [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
An Irish peasant complained to the Catholic priest of his parish that some person had stolen his best pig, and supplicated his reverence to help him to the discovery of the thief. The priest promised his best endeavours; and, his inquiries soon leading him to a correct enough guess as to the offender, he took the following amusing method of bringing the matter home to him. Next Sunday, after the service of the day, he called out with a loud voice, fixing his eyes on the suspected individual, "Who stole Pat Doolan's pig?" There was a long pause, and no answer; he did not expect that there would be any; and descended from the pulpit without saying a word more. A second Sunday arriving without the pig being restored in the interval, his reverence, again looking steadfastly at the stubborn purloiner and throwing a deep note of anger into the tone of his voice, repeated the question. "Who stole Pat Doolan's pig? I say, who stole poor Pat Doolan's pig?" Still there was no answer, and the question was left as before, to work its effect in secret on the conscience of the guilty individual. The hardihood of the offender, however, exceeded all the honest priest's calculations. A third Sunday arrived, and Pat Doolan was still without his pig. Some stronger measure now became necessary. After service was performed his reverence, dropping the question of "Who stole Pat Doolan's pig?" but still without directly accusing any one of the theft, reproachfully exclaimed, "Jimmie Doran! Jimmie Doran! you trate me with contimpt." Jimmie Doran hung down his head, and next morning the pig was found at the door of Pat Doolan's cabin.
A DIGRESSION [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
The celebrated Henderson, the actor, was seldom known to be in a passion. When at Oxford, he was one day debating with a fellow student, who, not keeping his temper, threw a glass of wine in his face. Mr. Henderson took out his handkerchief, wiped his face, and coolly said, "That, sir, was a digression; now for the argument."
FORTUNE-TELLER [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
A fortune-teller was arrested at his theatre of divination, al fresco, at the corner of the rue de Bussy in Paris, and carried before the tribunal of correctional police. "You know to read the future?" said the president, a man of great wit, but too fond of a joke for a magistrate. "In this case," said the judge, "you know the judgment we intend to pronounce." "Certainly." "Well, what will happen to you?" "Nothing." "You are sure of it?" "You will acquit me." "Acquit you!" "There is no doubt of it." "Why?" "Because, sir, if it had been your intention to condemn me, you would not have added irony to misfortune." The president, disconcerted, turned to his brother judges, and the sorcerer was acquitted.
GASCONADES [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
A Gascon, passing one night through a churchyard, thought he saw a spectre drawing forth his sword. He called out aloud, "Aha! do you want to be killed a second time? I am your man."
Another hero of the same country used to say that he could not look into a mirror without being afraid of himself.
When Robespierre had been guillotined at Paris, a Gascon officer in the French army thus expressed the dread he had entertained of that tyrant: "As often as the name of Robespierre was mentioned to me, I used to take off my hat, in order to see if my head was in it."
TRIBUTE TO BEAUTY [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
As the late beautiful Duchess of Devonshire was one day stepping out of her carriage, a dustman, who was accidentally standing by, and was about to regale himself with his accustomed whiff of tobacco, caught a glance of her countenance, and instantly exclaimed, "Love and bless you, my lady, let me light my pipe in your eyes!" It is said the duchess was so delighted with this compliment that she frequently afterwards checked the strain of adulation, which was so constantly offered to her charms, by saying, "Oh! after the dustman's compliment, all others are insipid."
BEGGING QUARTER [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
A French regiment at the battle of Spires had orders to give no quarter. A German officer, being taken, begged his life. The Frenchman replied, "Sir, you may ask me for any other favour; but, as for your life, it is impossible for me to grant it."
GASCON REPROVED [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
A descendant of a family in Gascony, celebrated for its flow of language and love of talking, and not for any deeds of glory, descanted before a numerous company upon the well-known bravery of his ancestors and relations. He then, to show that the race had not degenerated, modestly launched into a faithful description of his own battles, duels, and successes. He was once, he said, a passenger on board a French frigate during the war, and, falling in with an English squadron composed of three seventy-fours, fought with them for five hours, when luckily, the ship taking fire, he was blown up, with ten of his countrymen, and dropped into one of the seventy-fours, the crew of which laid down their arms and surrendered; while the two remaining men-of-war, struck with dismay at the sight of one of their ships in the possession of the enemy, crowded sails and ran away!
Such were his faithful accounts, with which he would still have continued to annoy the company, had not one of his countrymen, more enlightened, frankly acknowledged the natural propensity which leads the inhabitants of Gascony to revel in imaginary scenes, resolved to awe him into silence, and thus addressed him: "All your exploits are mere commonplace, in comparison to those which I have achieved; and I will relate a single one that surpasses all yours."
The babbler opened his ears, no doubt secretly intending to appropriate this story to himself in future time, when none of the hearers should be present, and modestly owned, that all those he had mentioned were mere children's tricks, performed without any exertion, but that he had some in store which might shine unobscured by the side of the most brilliant deeds of ancient ages.
"One evening," said the other, "as I was returning to town from the country, I had to pass through a narrow lane, well known for being infested with highwaymen. My horse was in good order, my pistols loaded, and my broadsword hung at my side; I entered the lane without any apprehension. Scarcely had I reached the middle when a loud shout behind me made me turn my head, and I saw a man with a short gun running fast towards me. I was going to face him with my horse, when two men with large cudgels in their hands, rushing from the hedge, seized the reins, and threatened me with instant death. Undaunted, I took my two pistols; but, before I had time to fire, one was knocked out of my hand, the other went off, and one of the robbers fell. I then drew my sword, and, though bruised by the blows I had received, struck with all my might, and split the head of the other in two. Freed from my danger on their side, I attempted a second time to turn my horse." Here he paused a while; and our babbler, longing to know the end of this adventure, exclaimed, "And the third!" "Oh, the third!" answered the other; "he shot me dead."
ABSENT MAN [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
A celebrated living poet, occasionally a little absent in mind, was invited by a friend, whom he met in the street, to dine with him the next Sunday at a country lodging, which he had taken for the summer months. The address was, "near the Green Man at Dulwich"; which, not to put his inviter to the trouble of pencilling down, the absent man promised faithfully to remember. But when Sunday came, he, fully late enough, made his way to Greenwich, and began inquiring for the sign of the Dull Man! No such sign was to be found; and, after losing an hour, a person guessed that though there was no Dull Man at Greenwich, there was a Green Man at Dulwich, which the absent man might possibly mean! This remark connected the broken chain, and the poet was under the necessity of taking his chop by himself.
PRIDE [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
A Spaniard rising from a fall, whereby his nose had suffered considerably, exclaimed, "Voto, a tal, esto es caminar por la turru!" (This comes of walking upon earth!)
WITTY COWARD [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
A French marquis having received several blows with a stick, which he never thought of resenting, a friend asked him, "How he could reconcile it with his honour to suffer them to pass without notice?" "Poh!" replied the marquis, "I never trouble my head with anything that passes behind my back."
VALUING BEAUTY [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
The Persian Ambassador, Mirza Aboul Hassan, while he resided in Paris was an object of so much curiosity that he could not go out without being surrounded by a multitude of gazers, and the ladies even ventured so far as to penetrate his hotel.
On returning one day from a ride, he found his apartments crowded with ladies, all elegantly dressed, but not all equally beautiful. Astonished at this unexpected assemblage, he inquired what these European odalisques could possibly want with him. The interpreter replied that they had come to look at his Excellency. The Ambassador was surprised to find himself an object of curiosity among a people who boast of having attained the acme of civilisation; and was not a little offended at conduct which, in Asia, would have been considered an unwarrantable breach of good-breeding; he accordingly revenged himself by the following little scheme.
The illustrious foreigner affected to be charmed with the ladies; he looked at them attentively alternately, pointing to them with his finger, and speaking with great earnestness to his interpreter, who, he was well aware, would be questioned by his fair visitants; and whom he therefore instructed in the part he was to act. Accordingly, the eldest of the ladies, who, in spite of her age, probably thought herself the prettiest of the whole party, and whose curiosity was particularly excited, after his Excellency had passed through the suite of rooms, coolly inquired what had been the object of his examination? "Madam," replied the interpreter, "I dare not inform you." "But I wish particularly to know, sir." "Indeed, madam, it is impossible!" "Nay, sir, this reserve is vexatious; I desire to know." "Oh! since you desire, madam, know then that his Excellency has been valuing you!" "Valuing us! how, sir?" "Yes, ladies, his Excellency, after the custom of his country, has been setting a price upon each of you!" "Well, that's whimsical enough; and how much may that lady be worth, according to his estimation?" "A thousand crowns." "And the other?" "Five hundred crowns." "And that young lady with fair hair?" "The same price." "And that lady who is painted?" "Fifty crowns." "And pray, sir, what may I be worth in the tariff of his Excellency's good graces?" "Oh, madam, you really must excuse me, I beg." "Come, come, no concealments." "The Prince merely said as he passed you—" "Well, what did he say?" inquired the lady with great eagerness. "He said, madam, that he did not know the small coin of this country."
PRO ARIS ET FOCIS [Sidenote: Percy Anecdotes]
At the establishment of volunteer corps, a certain corporation agreed to form a body, on condition that they should not be obliged to quit the country. The proposal was submitted to Mr. Pitt; who said he had no objection to the terms, if they would permit him to add, "except, in case of invasion."
THE GENTLE READER [Sidenote: Anon.]
No British Museum the fisherman needs: He simply goes down to the river and reeds.
CLERGYMEN AND CHICKENS [Sidenote: Samuel Butler]
Why, let me ask, should a hen lay an egg, which egg can become a chicken in about three weeks and a full-grown hen in less than a twelvemonth, while a clergyman and his wife lay no eggs, but give birth to a baby which will take three-and-twenty years before it can become another clergyman? Why should not chickens be born and clergymen be laid and hatched? Or why, at any rate, should not the clergyman be born full-grown and in Holy Orders, not to say already beneficed?
MELCHISEDEC [Sidenote: Samuel Butler]
He was a really happy man. He was without father, without mother, and without descent. He was an incarnate bachelor. He was a born orphan.
EATING AND PROSELYTISING [Sidenote: Samuel Butler]
All eating is a kind of proselytising—a kind of dogmatising—a maintaining that the eater's way of looking at things is better than the eatee's. We convert the food, or try to do so, to our own way of thinking, and, when it sticks to its own opinion and refuses to be converted, we say it disagrees with us. An animal that refuses to let another eat it has the courage of its convictions, and, if it gets eaten, dies a martyr to them....
It is good for the man that he should not be thwarted—that he should have his own way as far, and with as little difficulty, as possible. Cooking is good because it makes matters easier by unsettling the meat's mind and preparing it for new ideas. All food must first be prepared for us by animals and plants, or we cannot assimilate it; and so thoughts are more easily assimilated that have been already digested by other minds. A man should avoid converse with things that have been stunted or starved, and should not eat such meat as has been overdriven or underfed or afflicted with disease, nor should he touch fruit or vegetables that have not been well grown.
Sitting quiet after eating is akin to sitting still during divine service so as not to disturb the congregation. We are catechising and converting our proselytes, and there should be no row. As we get older we must digest more quietly still; our appetite is less, our gastric juices are no longer so eloquent, they have lost that cogent fluency which carried away all that came in contact with it. They have become sluggish and unconciliatory. This is what happens to any man when he suffers from an attack of indigestion.
Or, indeed, any other sickness, is the inarticulate expression of the pain we feel on seeing a proselyte escape us just as we were on the point of converting it.
ASSIMILATION AND PERSECUTION [Sidenote: Samuel Butler]
We cannot get rid of persecution; if we feel at all we must persecute something; the mere acts of feeding and growing are acts of persecution. Our aim should be to persecute nothing but such things as are absolutely incapable of resisting us. Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them.
NIGHT-SHIRTS AND BABIES [Sidenote: Samuel Butler]
On Hindhead, last Easter, we saw a family wash hung out to dry. There were papa's two great night-shirts and mamma's two lesser night-gowns, and then the children's smaller articles of clothing and mamma's drawers and the girls' drawers, all full swollen with a strong north-east wind. But mamma's night-gown was not so well pinned on, and, instead of being full of steady wind like the others, kept blowing up and down as though she were preaching wildly. We stood and laughed for ten minutes. The housewife came to the window and wondered at us, but we could not resist the pleasure of watching the absurdly life-like gestures which the night-gowns made. I should like a Santa Famiglia with clothes drying in the background.
A love-story might be told in a series of sketches of the clothes of two families hanging out to dry in adjacent gardens. Then a gentleman's night-shirt from one garden and a lady's night-gown from the other should be shown hanging in a third garden by themselves. By and by there should be added a little night-shirt.
A philosopher might be tempted, on seeing the little night-shirt, to suppose that the big night-shirts had made it. What we do is much the same, for the body of a baby is not much more made by the two old babies, after whose pattern it has cut itself out, than the little night-shirt is made by the big ones. The thing that makes either the little night-shirt or the little baby is something about which we know nothing whatever at all.
DOES MAMMA KNOW? [Sidenote: Samuel Butler]
A father was telling his eldest daughter, aged about six, that she had a little sister, and was explaining to her how nice it all was. The child said it was delightful, and added:
"Does mamma know? Let's go and tell her."
CROESUS AND HIS KITCHEN-MAID [Sidenote: Samuel Butler]
I want people to see either their cells as less parts of themselves than they do, or their servants as more.
Croesus's kitchen-maid is part of him, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, for she eats what comes from his table, and, being fed of one flesh, are they not brother and sister to one another in virtue of community of nutriment, which is but a thinly veiled travesty of descent? When she eats peas with her knife, he does so too; there is not a bit of bread and butter she puts into her mouth, nor a lump of sugar she drops into her tea, but he knoweth it altogether, though he knows nothing whatever about it. She is en-Croesused and he en-scullery-maided so long as she remains linked to him by the golden chain which passes from his pocket to hers, and which is greatest of all unifiers.
True, neither party is aware of the connection at all as long as things go smoothly. Croesus no more knows the name of, or feels the existence of, his kitchen-maid than a peasant in health knows about his liver; nevertheless, he is awakened to a dim sense of an undefined something when he pays his grocer or his baker. She is more definitely aware of him than he of her, but it is by way of an overshadowing presence rather than a clear and intelligent comprehension. And though Croesus does not eat his kitchen-maid's meals otherwise than vicariously, still to eat vicariously is to eat: the meals so eaten by his kitchen-maid nourish the better ordering of the dinner which nourishes and engenders the better ordering of Croesus himself. He is fed, therefore, by the feeding of his kitchen-maid.
And so with sleep. When she goes to bed he, in part, does so too. When she gets up and lays the fire in the back kitchen he, in part, does so. He lays it through her and in her, though knowing no more what he is doing than we know when we digest, but still doing it as by what we call a reflex action. Qui facit per alium facit per se, and when the back-kitchen fire is lighted on Croesus's behalf it is Croesus who lights it, though he is all the time fast asleep in bed.
Sometimes things do not go smoothly. Suppose the kitchen-maid to be taken with fits just before dinner-time; there will be a reverberating echo of disturbance throughout the whole organisation of the palace. But the oftener she has fits, the more easily will the household know what it is all about when she is taken with them. On the first occasion Lady Croesus will send some one rushing down into the kitchen; there will, in fact, be a general flow of blood (i.e. household) to the part affected (that is to say, to the scullery-maid); the doctor will be sent for and all the rest of it. On each repetition of the fits the neighbouring organs, reverting to a more primary undifferentiated condition, will discharge duties for which they were not engaged, in a manner for which no one would have given them credit; and the disturbance will be less and less each time, till by and by, at the sound of the crockery smashing below, Lady Croesus will just look up to papa and say:
"My dear, I am afraid Sarah has got another fit."
And papa will say she will probably be better again soon, and will go on reading his newspaper.
In course of time the whole thing will come to be managed automatically downstairs without any references either to papa, the cerebrum, or to mamma, the cerebellum, or even to the medulla oblongata, the housekeeper. A precedent or routine will be established, after which everything will work quite smoothly.
But though papa and mamma are unconscious of the reflex action which has been going on within their organisation, the kitchen-maid and the cells in her immediate vicinity (that is to say, her fellow-servants) will know all about it. Perhaps the neighbours will think that nobody in the house knows, and that, because the master and mistress show no sign of disturbance, therefore there is no consciousness. They forget that the scullery-maid becomes more and more conscious of the fits if they grow upon her, as they probably will, and that Croesus and his lady do show more signs of consciousness, if they are watched closely, than can be detected on first inspection. There is not the same violent perturbation that there was on the previous occasions, but the tone of the palace is lowered. A dinner-party has to be put off; the cooking is more homogeneous and uncertain, it is less highly differentiated than when the scullery-maid was well; and there is a grumble when the doctor has to be paid, and also when the smashed crockery has to be replaced.
If Croesus discharges his kitchen-maid and gets another, it is as though he cut out a small piece of his finger and replaced it in due course by growth. But even the slightest cut may lead to blood-poisoning, and so even the dismissal of a kitchen-maid may be big with the fate of empires. Thus the cook—a valued servant—may take the kitchen-maid's part and go too. The next cook may spoil the dinner and upset Croesus's temper, and from this all manner of consequences may be evolved, even to the dethronement and death of the King himself. Nevertheless, as a general rule, an injury to such a low part of a great monarch's organism as a kitchen-maid has no important results. It is only when we are attacked in such vital organs as the solicitor or the banker that we need be uneasy. A wound in the solicitor is a very serious thing, and many a man has died from failure of his bank's action.
It is certain, as we have seen, that when the kitchen-maid lights the fire it is really Croesus who is lighting it, but it is less obvious that when Croesus goes to a ball the scullery-maid goes also. Still, this should be held in the same way as it should be also held that she eats vicariously when Croesus dines. For he must return from the ball and the dinner-parties, and this comes out in his requiring to keep a large establishment whereby the scullery-maid retains her place as part of his organism and is nourished and amused also.
On the other hand, when Croesus dies it does not follow that the scullery-maid should die at the same time. She may grow a new Croesus, as Croesus, if the maid dies, will probably grow a new kitchen-maid; Croesus's son or successor may take over the kingdom and palace, and the kitchen-maid, beyond having to wash up a few extra plates and dishes at coronation time, will know little about the change. It is as though the establishment had had its hair cut and its beard trimmed; it is smartened up a little, but there is no other change. If, on the other hand, he goes bankrupt, or his kingdom is taken from him and his whole establishment is broken and dissipated at the auction-mart, then, even though not one of its component cells actually dies, the organism as a whole does so, and it is interesting to see that the lowest, least specialised, and least highly differentiated parts of the organism, such as the scullery-maid and the stable-boys, most readily find an entry into the life of some new system, while the more specialised and highly differentiated parts, such as the steward, the old housekeeper, and, still more so, the librarian or the chaplain, may never be able to attach themselves to any new combination, and may die in consequence. I heard once of a large builder who retired unexpectedly from business and broke up his establishment, to the actual death of several of his older employes.
So a bit of flesh, or even a finger, may be taken from one body and grafted on to another, but a leg cannot be grafted; if a leg is cut off it must die. It may, however, be maintained that the owner dies, too, even though he recovers, for a man who has lost a leg is not the man he was.
ADAM AND EVE [Sidenote: Samuel Butler]
A little boy and a little girl were looking at a picture of Adam and Eve.
"Which is Adam and which is Eve?" said one.
"I do not know," said the other, "but I could tell if they had their clothes on."
FIRE [Sidenote: Samuel Butler]
I was at one the other night, and heard a man say: "That corner stack is alight now quite nicely." People's sympathies seem generally to be with the fire so long as no one is in danger of being burned.
THE ELECTRIC LIGHT IN ITS INFANCY [Sidenote: Samuel Butler]
I heard a woman in a 'bus boring her lover about the electric light. She wanted to know this and that, and the poor lover was helpless. Then she said she wanted to know how it was regulated. At last she settled down by saying that she knew it was in its infancy. The word "infancy" seemed to have a soothing effect upon her, for she said no more, but, leaning her head against her lover's shoulder, composed herself to slumber.
NEW-LAID EGGS [Sidenote: Samuel Butler]
When I take my Sunday walks in the country, I try to buy a few really new-laid eggs warm from the nest. At this time of the year (January) they are very hard to come by, and I have long since invented a sick wife who has implored me to get a few eggs laid not earlier than the self-same morning. Of late, as I am getting older, it has become my daughter, who has just had a little baby. This will generally draw a new-laid egg, if there is one about the place at all.
At Harrow Weald it has always been my wife who for years has been a great sufferer and finds a really new-laid egg the one thing she can digest in the way of solid food. So I turned her on as movingly as I could not long since, and was at last sold some eggs that were no better than common shop-eggs, if so good. Next time I went I said my poor wife had been made seriously ill by them; it was no good trying to deceive her; she could tell a new-laid egg from a bad one as well as any woman in London, and she had such a high temper that it was very unpleasant for me when she found herself disappointed.
"Ah! sir," said the landlady, "but you would not like to lose her."
"Ma'am," I replied, "I must not allow my thoughts to wander in that direction. But it's no use bringing her stale eggs, anyhow."
SNAPSHOTTING A BISHOP [Sidenote: Samuel Butler]
I must some day write about how I hunted the late Bishop of Carlisle with my camera, hoping to shoot him when he was sea-sick crossing from Calais to Dover, and how St. Somebody protected him and said I might shoot him when he was well, but not when he was sea-sick. I should like to do it in the manner of the "Odyssey":
... And the steward went round and laid them all on the sofas and benches, and he set a beautiful basin by each, variegated and adorned with flowers; but it contained no water for washing the hands, and Neptune sent great waves that washed over the eyelet-holes of the cabin. But when it was now the middle of the passage and a great roaring arose as of beasts in the Zoological Gardens, and they promised hecatombs to Neptune if he would still the raging of the waves....
At any rate I shot him and have him in my snap-shot book; but he was not sea-sick.
From the Note-Books of Samuel Butler.
GOETHE'S MOTHER [Sidenote: G.H. Lewes]
That he was the loveliest baby ever seen, exciting admiration wherever nurse or mother carried him, and exhibiting, in swaddling clothes, the most wonderful intelligence, we need no biographer to tell us. Is it not said of every baby? But that he was in truth a wonderful child we have undeniable evidence, and of a kind less questionable than the statement of mothers and relatives. At three years old he could seldom be brought to play with little children, and only on the condition of their being pretty. One day, in a neighbour's house, he suddenly began to cry and exclaim, "That black child must go away! I can't bear him!" And he howled till he was carried home, where he was slowly pacified; the whole cause of his grief being the ugliness of the child.
A quick, merry little girl grew up by the boy's side. Four other children also came, but soon vanished. Cornelia was the only companion who survived, and for her his affection dated from the cradle. He brought his toys to her, wanted to feed her and attend on her, and was very jealous of all who approached her. "When she was taken from the cradle, over which he watched, his anger was scarcely to be quieted. He was altogether much more easily moved to anger than to tears." To the last his love for Cornelia was passionate.
In old German towns, Frankfurt among them, the ground-floor consists of a great hall where the vehicles were housed. This floor opens in folding trap-doors, for the passage of wine-casks into the cellars below. In one corner of the hall there is a sort of lattice, opening by an iron or wooden grating upon the street. This is called the Geraems. Here the crockery in daily use was kept; here the servants peel their potatoes, and cut their carrots and turnips, preparatory to cooking; here also the housewife would sit with her sewing, or her knitting, giving an eye to what passed in the street (when anything did pass there) and an ear to a little neighbourly gossip. Such a place was, of course, a favourite with the children.
One fine afternoon, when the house was quiet, Master Wolfgang, with his cup in his hand, and nothing to do, finds himself in this Geraems, looking out into the silent street, and telegraphing to the young Ochsensteins who dwelt opposite. By way of doing something, he begins to fling the crockery into the street, delighted at the smashing music which it makes, and stimulated by the approbation of the brothers Ochsenstein, who chuckle at him from over the way. The plates and dishes are flying in this way, when his mother returns: she sees the mischief with a housewifely horror, melting into girlish sympathy, as she hears how heartily the little fellow laughs at his escapade, and how the neighbours laugh at him.
This genial, indulgent mother employed her faculty for story-telling to his and her own delight. "Air, fire, earth, and water I represented under the forms of princesses; and to all natural phenomena I gave a meaning, in which I almost believed more fervently than my little hearers. As we thought of paths which led from star to star, and that we should one day inhabit the stars, and thought of the great spirits we should meet there, I was as eager for the hours of story-telling as the children themselves; I was quite curious about the future course of my own improvisation, and any invitation which interrupted these evenings was disagreeable. There I sat, and there Wolfgang held me with his large black eyes; and when the fate of one of his favourites was not according to his fancy, I saw the angry veins swell on his temples, I saw him repress his tears. He often burst in with 'But, mother, the princess won't marry the nasty tailor, even if he does kill the giant.' And when I made a pause for the night, promising to continue it on the morrow, I was certain that he would in the meanwhile think it out for himself, and so he often stimulated my imagination. When I turned the story according to his plan, and told him that he had found out the denouement, then was he all fire and flame, and one could see his little heart beating underneath his dress! His grandmother, who made a great pet of him, was the confidante of all his ideas as to how the story would turn out, and as she repeated these to me, and I turned the story according to these hints, there was a little diplomatic secrecy between us, which we never disclosed. I had the pleasure of continuing my story to the delight and astonishment of my hearers, and Wolfgang saw, with glowing eyes, the fulfilment of his own conceptions, and listened with enthusiastic applause." What a charming glimpse of mother and son!
She is one of the pleasantest figures in German literature, and one standing out with greater vividness than almost any other. Her simple, hearty, joyous, and affectionate nature endeared her to all. She was the delight of children, the favourite of poets and princes. To the last retaining her enthusiasm and simplicity, mingled with great shrewdness and knowledge of character, "Frau Aja," as they christened her, was at once grave and hearty, dignified and simple. She had read most of the best German and Italian authors, had picked up considerable desultory information, and had that "mother wit" which so often in women and poets seems to render culture superfluous, their rapid intuitions anticipating the tardy conclusions of experience. Her letters are full of spirit: not always strictly grammatical; not irreproachable in orthography; but vigorous and vivacious. After a lengthened interview with her, an enthusiast exclaimed, "Now do I understand how Goethe has become the man he is!" Wieland, Merck, Buerger, Madame de Stael, Karl August, and other great people sought her acquaintance. The Duchess Amalia corresponded with her as with an intimate friend; and her letters were welcomed eagerly at the Weimar Court. She was married at seventeen to a man for whom she had no love, and was only eighteen when the poet was born. This, instead of making her prematurely old, seems to have perpetuated her girlhood. "I and my Wolfgang," she said, "have always held fast to each other, because we were both young together." To him she transmitted her love of story-telling, her animal spirits, her love of everything which bore the stamp of distinctive individuality, and her love of seeing happy faces around her. "Order and quiet," she says in one of her charming letters to Freiherr von Stein, "are my principal characteristics. Hence I despatch at once whatever I have to do, the most disagreeable always first, and I gulp down the devil without looking at him. When all has returned to its proper state, then I defy any one to surpass me in good humour." Her heartiness and tolerance are the causes, she thinks, why every one likes her. "I am fond of people, and that every one feels directly—young and old. I pass without pretension through the world, and that gratifies men. I never bemoralise any one—always seek out the good that is in them, and leave what is bad to Him who made mankind, and knows how to round off the angles. In this way I make myself happy and comfortable." Who does not recognise the son in those accents? The kindliest of men inherited his loving, happy nature from the heartiest of women.
WHERE—AND OH! WHERE? [Sidenote: Henry S. Leigh]
Where are the times when—miles away From the din and the dust of cities— Alexis left his lambs to play, And wooed some shepherdess half the day With pretty and plaintive ditties?
Where are the pastures daisy-strewn And the flocks that lived in clover; The Zephyrs that caught the pastoral tune And carried away the notes as soon As ever the notes were over?
Where are the echoes that bore the strains Each to his nearest neighbour; And all the valleys and all the plains Where all the nymphs and their love-sick swains Made merry to pipe and tabor?
Where are they gone? They are gone to sleep Where Fancy alone can find them; But Arcady's times are like the sheep That quitted the care of Little Bo-peep, For they've left their tales behind them!
THE SECRETS OF THE HEART [Sidenote: Austin Dobson]
"Le coeur mene ou il va"
SCENE—A Chalet covered with honeysuckle
NINETTE This way—
NINON No, this way—
NINETTE This way, then.
(They enter the Chalet) You are as changing, child,—as men.
NINON But are they? Is it true, I mean? Who said it?
NINETTE Sister Seraphine. She was so pious and so good, With such sad eyes beneath her hood, And such poor little feet,—all bare! Her name was Eugenie la Fere. She used to tell us,—moonlight nights,— When I was at the Carmelites.
NINON Ah, then it must be right. And yet, Suppose for once—suppose, Ninette—
NINETTE But what?
NINON Suppose it were not so? Suppose there were true men, you know!
NINETTE And then?
NINON Why, if that could occur, What kind of men should you prefer?
NINETTE What looks, you mean?
NINON Looks, voice and all.
NINETTE Well, as to that, he must be tall, Or say, not "tall"—of middle size; And next, he must have laughing eyes; And a hook-nose,—with, underneath, Oh! what a row of sparkling teeth!
NINON (touching her cheek suspiciously) Has he a scar on this side?
NINETTE Hush! Some one is coming. No; a thrush: I see it swinging there.
NINON Go on.
NINETTE Then he must fence (ah, look, 'tis gone!) And dance like Monseigneur, and sing "Love was a Shepherd,"—everything That men do. Tell me yours, Ninon.
NINON Shall I? Then mine has black, black hair ... I mean, he should have; then an air Half sad, half noble; features thin; A little royale on the chin; And such a pale, high brow. And then, He is a prince of gentlemen;— He, too, can ride and fence and write Sonnets and madrigals, yet fight No worse for that—
NINETTE I know your man.
NINON And I know yours. But you'll not tell,— Swear it!
NINETTE I swear upon this fan,— My grandmother's!
NINON And I, I swear On this old turquoise reliquaire,— My great-great-grandmother's!— (After a pause)
Ninette! I feel so sad.
NINETTE I too. But why?
NINON Alas, I know not!
NINETTE (with a sigh) Nor do I.
BRITISH FESTIVITIES [Sidenote: Mark Twain]
Niagara Falls is a most enjoyable place of resort. The hotels are excellent, and the prices not at all exorbitant. The opportunities for fishing are not surpassed in the country; in fact, they are not even equalled elsewhere. Because, in other localities, certain places in the streams are much better than others; but at Niagara one place is just as good as another, for the reason that the fish do not bite anywhere, and so there is no use in your walking five miles to fish, when you can depend of being just as unsuccessful nearer home. The advantages of this state of things have never heretofore been properly placed before the public.
The weather is cool in summer, and the walks and drives are all pleasant, and none of them fatiguing. When you start out to "do" the Falls you first drive down about a mile, and pay a small sum for the privilege of looking down from a precipice into the narrowest part of the Niagara river. A railway "cut" through a hill would be as comely if it had an angry river tumbling and foaming through its bottom. You can descend a staircase here a hundred and fifty feet down, and stand at the edge of the water. After you have done it, you will wonder why you did it; but you will then be too late.
The guide will explain to you, in his blood-curdling way, how he saw the little steamer, Maid of the Mist, descend the fearful rapids—how first one paddle-box was out of sight behind the raging billows, and then the other, and at what point it was that her smoke-stack toppled overboard, and where her planking began to break and part asunder—and how she did finally live through the trip, after accomplishing the incredible feat of travelling seventeen miles in six minutes, or six miles in seventeen minutes, I have really forgotten which. But it was very extraordinary, anyhow. It is worth the price of admission to hear the guide tell the story nine times in succession to different parties, and never miss a word or alter a sentence or a gesture.
Then you drive over the Suspension Bridge, and divide your misery between the chances of smashing down two hundred feet into the river below and the chances of having the railway train overhead smashing down on to you. Either possibility is discomforting taken by itself, but, mixed together, they amount in the aggregate to positive unhappiness.
On the Canada side you drive along the chasm between long ranks of photographers standing guard behind their cameras, ready to make an ostentatious frontispiece of you and your decaying ambulance, and your solemn crate with a hide on it, which you are expected to regard in the light of a horse, and a diminished and unimportant background of sublime Niagara; and a great many people have the ineffable effrontery or the native depravity to aid and abet this sort of crime.
Any day, in the hands of these photographers, you may see stately pictures of papa and mamma, Johnny and Bub and Sis, or a couple of country cousins, all smiling hideously, and all disposed in studied and uncomfortable attitudes in their carriage, and all looming up in their grand and awe-inspiring imbecility before the snubbed and diminished presentment of that majestic presence, whose ministering spirits are the rainbows, whose voice is the thunder, whose awful front is veiled in clouds, who was monarch here dead and forgotten ages before this hackful of small reptiles was deemed temporarily necessary to fill a crack in the world's unnoted myriads, and will still be monarch here ages and decades of ages after they shall have gathered themselves to their blood relations, the other worms, and been mingled with the unremembering dust.
There is no actual harm in making Niagara a background whereon to display one's marvellous insignificance in a good strong light, but it requires a sort of superhuman self-complacency to enable one to do it.
When you have examined the stupendous Horseshoe Fall till you are satisfied you cannot improve on it, you return to America by the new Suspension Bridge, and follow up the bank to where they exhibit the Cave of the Winds.
Here I followed instructions, and divested myself of all my clothing and put on a waterproof jacket and overalls. This costume is picturesque, but not beautiful. A guide, similarly dressed, led the way down a flight of winding stairs, which wound and wound and still kept on winding long after the thing ceased to be a novelty, and then terminated long before it had begun to be a pleasure. We were then well down under the precipice, but still considerably above the level of the river.
We now began to creep along flimsy bridges of a single plank, our persons shielded from perdition by a crazy wooden railing, to which I clung with both hands—not because I was afraid, but because I wanted to. Presently the descent became steeper, and the bridge flimsier, and sprays from the American Fall began to rain down on us in fast-increasing sheets that soon became blinding, and after that our progress was mostly in the nature of groping. Now a furious wind began to rush out from behind the waterfall, which seemed determined to sweep us from the bridge, and scatter us on the rocks and among the torrents below. I remarked that I wanted to go home; but it was too late. We were almost under the monstrous wall of water thundering down from above, and speech was in vain in the midst of such a pitiless crash of sound.
In another moment the guide disappeared behind the grand deluge, and, bewildered by the thunder, driven helplessly by the wind, and smitten by the arrowy tempest of rain, I followed. All was darkness. Such a mad, storming, roaring, and bellowing of warring wind and water never crazed my ears before. I bent my head, and seemed to receive the Atlantic on my back. The world seemed going to destruction. I could not see anything, the flood poured down so savagely. I raised my head, with open mouth, and the most of the American cataract went down my throat. If I had sprung a leak now, I had been lost. And at this moment I discovered that the bridge had ceased, and we must trust for a foothold to the slippery and precipitous rocks. I never was so scared before and survived it. But we got through at last, and emerged into the open day, where we could stand in front of the laced and frothy and seething world of descending water, and look at it. When I saw how much of it there was, and how fearfully in earnest it was, I was sorry I had gone behind it.
I said to the guide, "Son, did you know what kind of an infernal place this was before you brought me down here?"
This was sufficient. He had known all the horror of the place, and yet he brought me there! I regarded it as deliberate arson. I then destroyed him.
I managed to find my way back alone to the place from whence I had started on this foolish enterprise, and then hurried over to Canada, to avoid having to pay for the guide.
At the principal hotel I fell in with the Major of the 42nd Fusiliers, and a dozen other hearty and hospitable Englishmen, and they invited me to join them in celebrating the Queen's birthday. I said I would be delighted to do it. I said I liked all the Englishmen I had ever happened to be acquainted with, and that I, like all my countrymen, admired and honoured the Queen. But I said there was one insuperable drawback—I never drank anything strong upon any occasion whatever, and I did not see how I was going to do proper and ample justice to anybody's birthday with the thin and ungenerous beverages I was accustomed to.
The Major scratched his head, and thought over the matter at considerable length; but there seemed to be no way of mastering the difficulty, and he was too much of a gentleman to suggest even a temporary abandonment of my principles. But by-and-by he said:
"I have it. Drink soda-water. As long as you never do drink anything more nutritious, there isn't any impropriety in it."
And so it was settled. We met in a large parlour, handsomely decorated with flags and evergreens, and seated ourselves at a board well laden with creature comforts, both solid and liquid. The toasts were happy, and the speeches were good, and we kept it up until long after midnight. I never enjoyed myself more in my life. I drank thirty-eight bottles of soda-water. But do you know that that is not a reliable article for a steady drink? It is too gassy. When I got up in the morning I was full of gas, and as tight as a balloon. I hadn't an article of clothing that I could wear, except my umbrella.
After breakfast I found the Major making grand preparations again. I asked what it was for, and he said this was the Prince of Wales's birthday. It had to be celebrated that evening. We celebrated it. Much against my expectations, we had another splendid time. We kept it up till some time after midnight again. I was tired of soda, and so I changed off for lemonade. I drank several quarts. You may consider lemonade better for a steady drink than soda-water; but it isn't so. In the morning it had soured on my stomach. Biting anything was out of the question—it was equivalent to lockjaw. I was beginning to feel worn and sad too.
Shortly after luncheon, I found the Major in the midst of some more preparations. He said this was the Princess Alice's birthday. I concealed my grief.
"Who is the Princess Alice?" I asked.
"Daughter of her Majesty the Queen," the Major said.
I succumbed. That night we celebrated the Princess Alice's birthday. We kept it up as late as usual, and really I enjoyed it a good deal. But I could not stand lemonade. I drank a couple of kegs of ice-water.
In the morning I had toothache, and cramps, and chilblains, and my teeth were on edge from the lemonade, and I was still pretty gassy, I found the inexorable Major at it again.
"Who is this for?" I asked.
"His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh," he said.
"Son of the Queen?"
"And this is his birthday—you haven't made any mistake?"
"No; the celebration comes off to-night."
I bowed before the new calamity. We celebrated the day. I drank part of a barrel of cider. Among the first objects that met my weary and jaundiced eye the next day was the Major at his interminable preparations again. My heart was broken, and I wept.
"Whom do we mourn this time?" I said.
"The Princess Beatrice, daughter of the Queen."
"Here, now," I said; "it is time to inquire into this thing. How long is the Queen's family likely to hold out? Who comes next on the list?"
"Their Royal Highnesses the Duke of Cambridge, the Princess Royal, Prince Arthur, Princess Mary of Teck, Prince Leopold, the Grand-duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the Grand-duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Prince ..."
"Hold! There's a limit to human endurance. I am only mortal. What man dare do, I dare; but he who can celebrate this family in detail, and live to tell it, is less or more than man. If you have to go through this every year, it is a mercy I was born in America, for I haven't constitution enough to be an Englishman. I shall have to withdraw from this enterprise. I am out of drinks. Out of drinks, and so many more to celebrate! Out of drinks, and only just on the outskirts of the family yet, as you may say! I am sorry enough to have to withdraw, but it is plain enough that it has to be done. I am full of gas, and my teeth are loose, and I am wrenched with cramps, and afflicted with scurvy, and toothache, measles, mumps, and lockjaw, and the cider last night has given me the cholera. Gentlemen, I mean well; but really I am not in a condition to celebrate the other birthdays. Give us a rest."
SIR JOHN WATERS [Sidenote: Captain Gronow]
Amongst the distinguished men in the Peninsular War whom my memory brings occasionally before me, is the well-known and highly popular Quartermaster-General Sir John Waters, who was born at Margam, a Welsh village in Glamorganshire. He was one of those extraordinary persons that seem created by kind nature for particular purposes; and, without using the word in an offensive sense, he was the most admirable spy that was ever attached to an army. One would almost have thought that the Spanish War was entered upon and carried on in order to display his remarkable qualities. He could assume the character of Spaniards of every degree and station, so as to deceive the most acute of those whom he delighted to imitate. In the posada of the village he was hailed by the contrabandist or the muleteer as one of their own race; in the gay assemblies he was an accomplished hidalgo; at the bullfight the toreador received his congratulations as from one who had encountered the toro in the arena; in the church he would converse with the friar upon the number of Ave Marias and Paternosters which could lay a ghost, or tell him the history of every one who had perished by the flame of the Inquisition, relating his crime, whether carnal or anti-Catholic; and he could join in the seguadilla or in the guaracha.
But what rendered him more efficient than all was his wonderful power of observation and acute description, which made the information he gave so reliable and valuable to the Duke of Wellington. Nothing escaped him. When amidst a group of persons, he would minutely watch the movement, attitude, and expression of every individual that composed it; in the scenery by which he was surrounded he would carefully mark every object: not a tree, not a bush, not a large stone, escaped his observation; and it was said that in a cottage he noted every piece of crockery on the shelf, every domestic utensil, and even the number of knives and forks that were got ready for use at dinner.
His acquaintance with the Spanish language was marvellous; from the finest works of Calderon to the ballads in the patois of every province, he could quote, to the infinite delight of those with whom he associated. He could assume any character that he pleased: he could be the Castilian, haughty and reserved; the Asturian, stupid and plodding; the Catalonian, intriguing and cunning; the Andalusian, laughing and merry,—in short, he was all things to all men. Nor was he incapable of passing off, when occasion required, for a Frenchman; but, as he spoke the language with a strong German accent, he called himself an Alsatian. He maintained that character with the utmost nicety; and as there is a strong feeling of friendship, almost equal to that which exists in Scotland, amongst all those who are born in the departments of France bordering on the Rhine, and who maintain their Teutonic originality, he always found friends and supporters in every regiment in the French service.
He was on one occasion entrusted with a very difficult mission by the Duke of Wellington, which he undertook effectually to perform, and to return on a particular day with the information that was required.
Great was the disappointment when it was ascertained beyond a doubt that, just after leaving the camp, he had been taken prisoner before he had time to exchange his uniform. Such, however, was the case; a troop of dragoons had intercepted him, and carried him off; and the commanding officer desired two soldiers to keep a strict watch over him and carry him to headquarters. He was, of course, disarmed, and, being placed on a horse, was, after a short time, galloped off by his guards. He slept one night under durance vile at a small inn, where he was allowed to remain in the kitchen; conversation flowed on very glibly, and, as he appeared a stupid Englishman, who could not understand a word of French or Spanish, he was allowed to listen, and thus obtained precisely the intelligence that he was in search of. The following morning, being again mounted, he overheard a conversation between his guards, who deliberately agreed to rob him, and to shoot him at a mill where they were to stop, and to report to their officer that they had been compelled to fire at him in consequence of his attempt to escape.
Shortly before they arrived at the mill, for fear that they might meet with some one who would insist on having a portion of the spoil, the dragoons took from their prisoner his watch and his purse, which he surrendered with a good grace. On their arrival at the mill they dismounted, and, in order to give some appearance of truth to their story, they went into the house, leaving their prisoner outside, in the hope that he would make some attempt to escape. In an instant Waters threw his cloak upon a neighbouring olive-bush, and mounted his cocked hat on the top. Some empty flour-sacks lay upon the ground, and a horse laden with well-filled flour-sacks stood at the door. Sir John contrived to enter one of the empty sacks and throw himself across the horse. When the soldiers came out of the house they fired their carbines at the supposed prisoner, and galloped off at the utmost speed.
A short time after the miller came out and mounted his steed; the general contrived to rid himself of the encumbrance of the sack, and sat up, riding behind the man, who, suddenly turning round, saw a ghost, as he believed, for the flour that still remained in the sack had completely whitened his fellow-traveller and given him a most unearthly appearance. The frightened miller was "putrified," as Mrs. Malaprop would say, at the sight, and a push from the white spectre brought the unfortunate man to the ground, when away rode the gallant quartermaster with his sacks of flour, which, at length bursting, made a ludicrous spectacle of man and horse.
On reaching the English camp, where Lord Wellington was anxiously deploring his fate, a sudden shout from the soldiers made his lordship turn round, when a figure, resembling the statue in "Don Juan," galloped up to him. The duke, affectionately shaking him by the hand, said:
"Waters, you never yet deceived me; and, though you have come in a most questionable shape, I must congratulate you and myself."
When this story was told at the Club, one of those listeners who always want something more called out, "Well, and what did Waters say?" to which Alvanley replied:
"Oh, Waters made a very flowery speech, like a well-bred man."
LORD WESTMORELAND [Sidenote: Captain Gronow]
When I was presented at the Court of Louis XVIII. Lord Westmoreland, the grandfather of the present lord, accompanied Sir Charles Stewart to the Tuileries. On our arrival in the room where the King was we formed ourselves into a circle, when the King good-naturedly inquired after Lady Westmoreland, from whom his lordship was divorced, and whether she was in Paris. Upon this the noble lord looked sullen, and refused to reply to the question put by the King. His Majesty, however, repeated it, when Lord Westmoreland hallooed out, in bad French, "Je ne sais pas, je ne sais pas, je ne sais pas." Louis, rising, said, "Assez, milord; assez, milord."
On one occasion, Lord Westmoreland, who was Lord Privy Seal, being asked what office he held, replied, "Le Chancellier est le grand sceau (sot); moi je suis le petit sceau d'Angle-terre." On another occasion, he wished to say "I would if I could, but I can't," and rendered it, "Je voudrais si je coudrais, mais je ne cannais pas."
COLONEL KELLY AND HIS BLACKING [Sidenote: Captain Gronow]
Among the odd characters I have met with, I do not recollect any one more eccentric than the late Lieutenant-Colonel Kelly, of the First Foot Guards, who was the vainest man I ever encountered. He was a thin, emaciated-looking dandy, but had all the bearing of a gentleman. He was haughty in the extreme, and very fond of dress; his boots were so well varnished that the polish now in use could not surpass Kelly's blacking in brilliancy; his pantaloons were made of the finest leather, and his coats were inimitable; in short, his dress was considered perfect.
His sister held the place of housekeeper to the Custom-house, and when it was burnt down, Kelly was burnt with it, in endeavouring to save his favourite boots. When the news of his horrible death became known, all the dandies were anxious to secure the service of his valet, who possessed the mystery of the inimitable blacking. Brummell lost no time in discovering his place of residence, and asked what wages he required; the servant answered, his late master gave him L150 a year, but it was not enough for his talents, and he should require L200; upon which Brummell said, "Well, if you will make it guineas, I shall be happy to attend upon you." The late Lord Plymouth eventually secured this phoenix of valets at L200 a year, and bore away the sovereignty of boots.
JOHN KEMBLE [Sidenote: Captain Gronow]
John Kemble had the honour of giving the Prince of Wales some lessons in elocution. According to the vitiated pronunciation of the day, the Prince, instead of saying "oblige," would say "obleege," upon which Kemble, with much disgust depicted upon his countenance, said:
"Sir, may I beseech your Royal Highness to open your royal jaws, and say 'oblige'?"
ROGERS AND LUTTRELL [Sidenote: Captain Gronow]
I saw a good deal of the poet Rogers during his frequent visits to Paris; and often visited him in his apartments, which were always on the fourth or fifth story of the hotel or private house in which he lived. He was rich, and by no means avaricious, and chose those lofty chambers partly from a poetic wish to see the sun rise with greater brilliancy, and partly from a fancy that the exercise he was obliged to take in going up and down stairs would prove beneficial to his liver.
I could relate many unpublished anecdotes of Rogers, but they lose their piquancy when one attempts to narrate them. There was so much in his appearance, in that cadaverous, unchanging countenance, in the peculiar low, drawling voice, and rather tremulous accents in which he spoke. His intonations were very much those one fancies a ghost would use if forced by some magic spell to give utterance to sounds. The mild venom of every word was a remarkable trait in his conversation. One might have compared the old poet to one of those velvety caterpillars that crawl gently and quietly over the skin, but leave an irritating blister behind. To those, like myself, who were sans consequence, and with whom he feared no rivalry, he was very good-natured and amiable, and a most pleasant companion, with a fund of curious anecdote about everything and everybody. But woe betide those in great prosperity and renown; they had, like the Roman emperor, in Rogers the personification of the slave who bade them "remember they were mortal."
At an evening party many years since at Lady Jersey's every one was praising the Duke of B——, who had just come in, and who had lately attained his majority. There was a perfect chorus of admiration to this effect: "Everything is in his favour—he has good looks, considerable abilities, and a hundred thousand a year." Rogers, who had been carefully examining the "young ruler," listened to these encomiums for some time in silence, and at last remarked, with an air of great exultation, and in his most venomous manner, "Thank God, he has got bad teeth!"
His well-known epigram on Mr. Ward, afterwards Lord Dudley—
They say that Ward's no heart, but I deny it; He has a heart, and gets his speeches by it—
was provoked by a remark made at table by Mr. Ward. On Rogers observing that his carriage had broken down, and that he had been obliged to come in a hackney-coach, Mr. Ward grumbled out in a very audible whisper, "In a hearse, I should think," alluding to the poet's corpse-like appearance. This remark Rogers never forgave, and, I have no doubt, pored over his retaliatory impromptu, for he had no facility in composition. Sydney Smith used to say that, if Rogers was writing a dozen verses, the street was strewn with straw, the knocker tied up, and the answer to the tender inquiries of his anxious friends was, that Mr. Rogers was as well as could be expected.
It used to be very amusing in London to see Rogers with his fidus Achates, Luttrell. They were inseparable, though rival wits, and constantly saying bitter things to each other. Luttrell was the natural son of Lord Carhampton, Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, and in his youth known as the famous Colonel Luttrell of Junius. I consider him to have been the most agreeable man I ever met. He was far more brilliant in conversation than Rogers; and his animated, bustling manner formed an agreeable contrast with the spiteful calmness of his corpse-like companion. He was extremely irritable, and even passionate; and in his moments of anger he would splutter and stutter like a maniac in his anxiety to give utterance to the flow of thoughts which crowded his mind, and, I might almost say, his mouth.
On one occasion the late Lady Holland took him a drive in her carriage over a rough road, and, as she was very nervous, she insisted on being driven at a foot's pace. This ordeal lasted some hours, and when he was at last released, poor Luttrell, perfectly exasperated, rushed into the nearest club-house, and exclaimed, clenching his teeth and hands, "The very funerals passed us!"
THE PIG-FACED LADY [Sidenote: Captain Gronow]
Among the many absurd reports and ridiculous stories current in former days, I know of none more absurd or more ridiculous than the general belief of everybody in London, during the winter of 1814, in the existence of a lady with a pig's face. This interesting specimen of porcine physiognomy was said to be the daughter of a great lady residing in Grosvenor Square.
It was rumoured that during the illuminations which took place to celebrate the peace, when a great crowd had assembled in Piccadilly and St. James's Street, and when carriages could not move on very rapidly, horresco referens! an enormous pig's snout had been seen protruding from a fashionable-looking bonnet in one of the landaus which were passing. The mob cried out, "The pig-faced lady! Stop the carriage—stop the carriage!" The coachman, wishing to save his bacon, whipped his horses, and drove through the crowd at a tremendous pace; but it was said that the coach had been seen to set down its monstrous load in Grosvenor Square.
Another report was also current. Sir William Elliot, a youthful baronet, calling one day to pay his respects to the great lady in Grosvenor Square, was ushered into a drawing-room, where he found a person fashionably dressed, who, on turning towards him, displayed a hideous pig's face. Sir William, a timid young gentleman, could not refrain from uttering a shout of horror, and rushed to the door in a manner the reverse of polite; when the infuriated lady or animal, uttering a series of grunts, rushed at the unfortunate baronet as he was retreating, and inflicted a severe wound on the back of his neck. This highly improbable story concluded by stating that Sir William's wound was a severe one, and had been dressed by Hawkins, the surgeon, in St. Audley Street.
I am really almost ashamed to repeat this absurd story; but many persons now alive can remember the strong belief in the existence of the pig-faced lady which prevailed in the public mind at the time of which I speak. The shops were full of caricatures of the pig-faced lady, in a poke bonnet and large veil, with "A pig in a poke" written underneath the print. Another sketch represented Sir William Elliot's misadventure, and was entitled, "Beware the pig-sty!"
HOBY, THE BOOTMAKER, OF ST. JAMES'S STREET [Sidenote: Captain Gronow]
Hoby was not only the greatest and most fashionable bootmaker in London, but, in spite of the old adage, ne sutor ultra crepidam, he employed his spare time with considerable success as a Methodist preacher at Islington. He was said to have in his employment three hundred workmen; and he was so great a man in his own estimation that he was apt to take rather an insolent tone with his customers. He was, however, tolerated as a sort of privileged person, and his impertinence was not only overlooked but was considered as rather a good joke. He was a pompous fellow, with a considerable vein of sarcastic humour.
I remember Horace Churchill (afterwards killed in India with the rank of major-general), who was then an ensign in the Guards, entering Hoby's shop in a great passion, saying that his boots were so ill made that he should never employ Hoby for the future. Hoby, putting on a pathetic cast of countenance, called to his shopman:
"John, close the shutters. It is all over with us. I must shut up shop; Ensign Churchill withdraws his custom from me."
Churchill's fury can be better imagined than described.
On another occasion the late Sir John Shelley came into Hoby's shop to complain that his top-boots had split in several places. Hoby quietly said:
"How did that happen, Sir John?"
"Why, in walking to my stables."
"Walking to your stables!" said Hoby, with a sneer. "I made the boots for riding, not walking."
Hoby was bootmaker to the Duke of Kent; and, as he was calling on H.R.H. to try on some boots, the news arrived that Lord Wellington had gained a great victory over the French army at Vittoria. The duke was kind enough to mention the glorious news to Hoby, who coolly said:
"If Lord Wellington had had any other bootmaker than myself he never would have had his great and constant successes; for my boots and prayers bring his lordship out of all his difficulties."
One may well say that there is nothing like leather; for Hoby died worth a hundred and twenty thousand pounds.
Hoby was bootmaker to George III., the Prince of Wales, the royal dukes, and many officers in the Army and Navy. His shop was situated at the top of St. James's Street, at the corner of Piccadilly, next to the Old Guards Club. He was bootmaker to the Duke of Wellington from his boyhood, and received innumerable orders in the duke's handwriting, both from the Peninsula and France, which he always religiously preserved. Hoby was the first man who drove about London in a tilbury. It was painted black, and drawn by a beautiful black cob. This vehicle was built by the inventor, Mr. Tilbury, whose manufactory was, fifty years back, in a street leading from South Audley Street into Park Street.
HARRINGTON HOUSE AND LORD PETERSHAM [Sidenote: Captain Gronow]
When our army returned to England in 1814 my young friend, Augustus Stanhope, took me one afternoon to Harrington House, in Stable-yard, St. James's, where I was introduced to Lord and Lady Harrington, and all the Stanhopes. On entering a long gallery, I found the whole family engaged in their sempiternal occupation of tea-drinking. Neither in Nankin, Pekin, nor Canton was the teapot more assiduously and constantly replenished than at this hospitable mansion. I was made free of the corporation, if I may use the phrase, by a cup being handed to me; and I must say that I never tasted any tea so good before or since.
As an example of the undeviating tea-table habits of the house of Harrington, General Lincoln Stanhope once told me that, after an absence of several years in India, he made his reappearance at Harrington House, and found the family, as he had left them on his departure, drinking tea in the long gallery. On his presenting himself, his father's only observation and speech of welcome to him was, "Hallo, Linky, my dear boy! delighted to see you. Have a cup of tea?"
LORD ALVANLEY [Sidenote: Captain Gronow]
From the time of good Queen Bess, when the English language first began to assume somewhat of its present form, idiom, and mode of expression, to the day of our most gracious sovereign Queen Victoria, every age has had its punsters, humorists, and eloquent conversationalists; but I much doubt whether the year 1789 did not produce the greatest wit of modern times, in the person of William Lord Alvanley.
After receiving a very excellent and careful education, Alvanley entered the Coldstream Guards at an early age, and served with distinction at Copenhagen and in the Peninsula; but, being in possession of a large fortune, he left the Army, gave himself up entirely to the pursuit of pleasure, and became one of the principal dandies of the day. With the brilliant talents which he possessed, he might have attained to the highest eminence in any line of life he had embraced.