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OR, RECOLLECTIONS OF A SPORTSMAN'S LIFE.
BY THE EDITOR.
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-SIXTII.- -A FIRST BEREAVEMENT.
“ What bitter tears bedim the eyc !-
The page which is the store-house of fact has slight kindred with the hot-presscd darling of fancy — the bazaar of dainty conceits, wherein cach agent of life is “a perfect monster that the world ne'er saw.” Modern works of imagination, indeed, do not abound with the high-flown affectations of the fashionable novels of the last century ; partly because our tastes are less artificial than were those of the days of farthingales, powder, ruffles, and bag-wigs—and partly because Scott and the writers of his school gavc coup de grace to fustian when they brought nature into fashion. It was well said by Gray, that any man living might write a book if he would but set down truly what he had seen or heard. A volume of the kind would furnish far more effective-because more natural-instruction to such as rightly read, than one whose materials were obviously selected and put together that they might point a moral. Every book should be written for our learning ; but tlie less it proclaims its purpose, the more certain its success. An author should set about his calling like the lover of woodcraft his sport: there should be no sneaking behind hedges for a point-blank shot at puss upon hier form, or the covey at feed; but fair stand-up shooting at folly or pheasant" as it flies." I take it, the perfection of a work of imagination is, not that he who reads should be able to point out where its moral is, but that he should be unable to show where it is not. Life is the library of nature. This he who is yet in the novitiate of the world knows better than the philosopher of the closet. I was an carly student of that encyclopædia of truth, and ever turned to it as one knowing the value of the lore. Rarely has a passage failed to supply matter of interest and instruction; nor shall it have taught in vain, if its moral be with the musings unfolded in my page.
A copy, profusely cmbellished and expensively got up, courted perusal, in the drawing-room to which we adjourned, after an unusually brief symposium. Uncle Tom had abandoned port for claret, resigned tobacco in favour of otto of roses-ominous degeneracy! The party numbered about a couple of dozen, chiefly ladies; with here and there a cavalier, considerably beyond his climacteric. The softer section of the society was also running toughi, a round thirty being probably the minimum any member of it could claim. The majority were as naked as negresses--a horrible frenzy for going bare raging some twenty-five years ago, when the efforts to cut down women's garments at the shoulders were only exceeded by those made to cut them up at the knees. The eye is the most finished of all courtiers: whence it comes to pass that nothing introduced with the prestige of fashion frights our proprieties. There was, therefore, no awkwardness or restraint in the manner in which we mingled among this bevy of beauties (to give uncle Tom his due, it was a good-looking lot), as little encumbered with drapery as the Medician Venus. Monstrous as it may seem, I have no doubt, were a woman to venture at noon-day into one of the leading thoroughfares of London, dressed as every elegante was in 1817, she would be taken into custody. Is there any so vert vert, into whose hand this chapter shall fall
, as to believe that youth is the season of love-making ? If so-having the authority of its inditer in respect—he will understand that the strength and emphasis of sweethearting is precisely in the ratio of the experience of the performers. Your novice whispers his vows-your adept sings them out as if he were heaving the deep sealine instead of a sigh. So much for the dialogue; as for the action, it may be more conveniently left to the reader's imagination, in the hope it is a tolerably lively one, if he desire to arrive within any reasonable distance of the reality.
No one but myself could have found cause of discontent with the assembly. If the company did not seem beyond a common-place average, there was nothing to object against it. The women were well undressed, the majority being Irish-full of fun, and, all being out of their teens, full of Hirting. The ménage of the old bachelor was capital. Unexceptionable coffee and chasse were served, in a fashion beseeming the quiet cultivator of the savoir-vivre-not jerked about by spruce ruffians in motley, but soberly held to woo your acceptance by sleek serving-men in suits of complete black, reverential faces, and periwigs that outpowdered the Jung pau. His rooms were furnished with great taste and elegance, and the lights and flowers--"Who the devil ordered these lights and flowers ?" I asked myself— I think aloud, as people always do on the stage, and as many beside Lori W
and myself have done in a drawingroom-“old consanguinity, with the spindle-legs, has had nothing to do with their disposition; he has neither nous nor nose for it.”
“Have a little patience and you'll see,” said a dame who was gathering blossoms from one of the flowering shrubs to which I addressed my soliloquy; "wait awhile, and you'll know all. But take care of your heart; the laws of the lists don't recognise jousts between seventy and seventeen.”
“ Madam,” said I, with a gallantry assumed to hide my annoyance, “could I preserve my heart from the ravishment that now sparkles before me, I were unworthy the privilege of a true knight; already a slave, what have I to fear from captivity? Therefore propoundwho is the other divinity of this paradise ?"
“For that pretty speech I wont deprive you of the pleasure of anticipation,” replied the lady, whose tongue, like Paddy Carey's, was tipped with a bit of the brogue; "you may reckon upon her appear