ページの画像
PDF
ePub

GRIMM's Ghost.

LETTER XI.

Uncle and Nephew. Every one who is conversant with Richmond and its environs (and what man, since the Diana steam-vessel first started from Queenbithe to Eel-pie Island, can plead ignorance ?) must know that passengers are conveyed across the Thames, from Ham to Twickenham, by a ferry-boat: that there is a footpath through a field which leads from the river to Ham: and that, to attain that footpath, it is necessary to cross a stile. Upon this stile, one fine afternoon in July last, sat, astride, Mr. Robert Robertson and his nephew Tom Osborne, awaiting the return of Platt the ferryman, that they might solace themselves with a view of the tombs in Twickenham church-yard. “Tom,” said the uncle to the nephew, “ I have long wished to give you something." The eyes of the nephew brightened; he mechanically took off his kidskin glove, and protruded his right hand. “I mean, some little advice.” Tom replaced the glove upon bis hand, with a look that seemed to say The less the better.” “I take,” continued Mr. Robert Robertson, "an avuncular interest in all that concerns you; and I cannot but enter my protest against the grotesque garb in which you have enveloped your person. Dress, nephew, was originally intended to guard us against the inclemencies of the weather : but, in your case, I am sorry to say that it deviates into downright ornament. But, lest you

should think that I am inclined to too sweeping a censure-spargere voces ambiguas'-(I hope you keep up your Latin)—I will, with your permission, analyse your apparel from head to foot—ab ovo usque ad mala.' The latter quotation is from Horace. To begin, then, with your hat: I am sorry to find it white: Sir Barnaby Botolph, the Blackwell-hall factor in Cateaton-street, has a very sage apophthegm upon that head, "Shew me a man with a white hat, and I'll shew you a fool.' Now, I should be sorry, nephew, to stultify you without a hearing, (stultify is a legal verb much in favour with the late Lord Ellenborough) : so, prithee tax that bulbous excrescence,' (the expression occurs in George Alexander Stevens,) that fills up the hollow of the article that I am criticising, and tell me whether you mean to suffer judgment to go by default, or to plead the general issue with a justification.” “I plead a justification," said Tom, briskly. “Good," answered the professional Mr. Robertson ; “ bold, too, but hazardous. In what does your justification consist ?"

Your example.” “Mine!" "Yes, uncle, yours. My aunt Sally has a picture of you painted by Hoppner thirty years ago. It exhibits you patting a favourite filly. The scene is a stable : you wear your hat, and that hat has a crown like Mother Shipton's, surrounded by three silk bands with a rosette to each. Just like the smooth-complexioned clergyman's that one so often meets in Saint Paul's Church-yard.” “ I wonder your aunt Sally keeps that absurd picture,” said Mr. Robertson; “but, at all events, the hat is a black one; you have therefore failed in your justification. And, now, nephew, to continue my analysis. The next article to which I am anxious to draw your attention is your cravat. In the good old times a cambric stock, with a Bristol-stone buckle behind, was universally worn. The full-length engraved portrait of General Washington will

Your coat,

shew you what I mean. I would not captiously confine you to that : no, a white muslin cravat, like that which I now wear, may well be worn by you. But Waterloo-blue silk appears to me to be altogether inadmissible. An eye of heavenly blue is a pretty adjunct to a pretty woman; but a cravat of that hue is no necessary appendage to a lordling of the creation. I call you lordling, nephew, because you have barely attained sixteen : you cannot take up your patent of peerage to dub yourself a lord of that orbit, until you have attained twenty-one. I suspect you will hardly be bold enough to plead a justification to my second count.” “ Indeed, uncle, but I shall," retorted Mr. Thomas Osborne.“ My uncle Charles's dressing-room, you know, is hung round with caricatures." "Well.” “Well, uncle, one of them is a portrait of you, drawn by Rawlinson just thirty years ago. It shews you with a thing round your neck more like a poultice than a cravat, with two ends hanging down to your middle like Mr. Endless, the lawyer, in • No Song no Supper,' and underneath it is printed

“ My name's Tippy Bob,

With a watch in each fob." "Tippy Devil!" petulantly exclaimed Mr. Robert Robertson ; “ Rawlinson was a libeller : an etcher of extremes: a painter of pasquinades : your uncle Charles might be better employed than in gibbering his relations after that fashion.—But to resume the subject of our discourse. We will now, Tom, diverge a little downward. Master Osborne, is absolutely bobtailed. Were you spurred for a setto at the Royal Cockpit, you would be docked in character. Then its collar: what a preposterous length! It hangs down from either shoulder, like Doctor Longsermon's black-silk scarf.” “ Nay, now, upon your third count,-my coat, uncle, I justify most valiantly," retorted the stripling: “I don't stand up for its positive propriety; but I do for its comparative.” “Comparative with what ?" " With one of yours, uncle, which you wore about thirty years ago. Last night I overheard Mrs. Thislewood tell Captain Paterson thot she accompanied you, in the year 1792, to Ranelagh ; she said that you made your previous appearance in her drawing-room (I quote her very words), in a salmon-coloured coat with a light-blue velvet collar and cuffs : that she was sitting behind the screen, which made you think that you were alone in the room; and that under that impression, and, as she states it, dreaming of future glories in the Chelsea Rotunda, you walked up to the looking-glass, and, after surveying yourself for half a minute, exclaimed—: Well, Bob, if they stand this, they 'll stand any thing ! “ Mrs. Thislewood is a lying old coquette," exclaimed Mr. Robert Robertson; I make it a rule never to insinuate any thing to the prejudice of any body's character; otherwise I could tell something that happened to her about thirty years ago, which the public would not hold to be barred by the statute of limitations. – But to proceed. The mention of coat, nephew, naturally leads the mind to waistcoat--yours, I see, is striped. Mr. Polito might doubt whether you were an ass or a zebra ; but we will pass that by: it is wondrous short : and' de minimis non curat lex.' Pray keep up your Latin. I never should hare prospered if I had lost mine.- Proceed we, therefore, to your trowsers. They too, I see, are striped. To stripes in that part your inattention to your Latin may authorize you to lay some claim. But,

66

Heavens ! how capacious is their size! The tailor, indeed, seems to have repented of his extravagance, by puckering up a part of them. But what means that broad strap under the foot ? Is it to prevent their slipping off over your head ? or are you possessed of the prospective policy of Sam Scribble, who suffered at the Old Bailey for signing a wrong name on a banker's cheque ; and who artfully passed two leather thongs under his feet, that he might, by annexing them to a hook, and the hook to the hangman's noose, enable himself to vibrate his half-hour without strangulation. Upon this count I defy you to plead a set-off.” My revered uncle," answered the pertinacious ncphew : "far be it from me to tax you with laxity either of principles or pantaloons. But I hope you will permit me again to call your recollection to the portrait painted by Hoppner. You are there exhibited in"_" Not loose trowsers, I'll be sworn." -“ No, uncle, not loose trowsers, but tight leather breeches. No sooner had Mrs. Thislewood told her story about your coat than Captain Paterson matched it with another, about your leather breeches.” “Indeed !" cried Mr. Robertson, drawing himself up, and looking out for Platt's ferry-boat, "and, pray, what might the nautical gentleman say?” “Why, he said, uncle, that he once called upon you, when you were trying on a new pair of doeskins. The maker of them stood by to comfort and assist you. You were suspended, he said, in mid air, like Mahomet's coffin: when you had, by dint of struggling and kicking, got tolerably well into them, the operator drew from his pocket two iron hooks, to button them at the knees. He also told Mrs. Thislewood that you stood the agonizing process with the patience of a primitive martyr, until the third button of the right knee burst its cerements, and went off like the cork of a ginger-beer bottle.” “Well, sir, and pray what happened then?” “Why, then, uncle, he says, that you said something very like • Oh, damn it! After which, Captain Paterson added that he does not know what happened, as he turned very sick, and left the room : and so was prevented from beholding the conclusion of the operation."

Mr. Robert Robertson, in deep displeasure, now summoned all his syllogistic powers. He was upon the eve of flatly denying the truth of the captain's assertion; of proving that folly and foppery were weeds of modern growth ; that his uncle never had occasion to lecture him upon his extravagance or coxcombry, thirty years ago ; and, finally, that propriety of exterior and soundness of intellect had quitted this country on or about the commencement of the French Revolutiou. Unfortunately, however, this chain of demonstrations was sundered, never to re-unite. Platt hove in sight; uncle and nephew entered the boat; and the presence of two market-gardeners and a footman in livery prevented Mr. Robert Robertson from establishing the superiority of the human race-thirty years ago!

POISON FOR THE RATS.

For want of means poor rats had hang'd themselves."

SHAKSPEARE, Richard III. A Paddy, once, fresh from the banks of Shannon,

And for the Temple bound, Middle or Inner, To London came, where, by the ancient canon,

Folks learn the law, by-eating many a dinner.
Thus children, when they will not take to learning,

Too quick of temper, or too thick in head,
Are by their stomachs taught-for letters yearning,

Seductive in Dutch foil and gingerbread.
Paddy, who thought this mode of studying law,

By masticating mutton, very clever, No vast utility in reading saw,

And troubled Coke's and Blackstone's pages--never. So, while the cash was flush, he “ saw the town,"

Drank his champaign, -at no expense would stop.;
But when the Spanish fail'd, perforce came down,

And at the cook's shop ate his mutton-chop.
It chanced that, when his cash was running taper,-

That's, when his notes were no more-common places, (Ere all was gone, to have one parting caper)

He drove his tilbury to Epsom Races. Still he determined on a frugal plan

A plain beef-steak, a chicken, and some claret ; “ It was high time economy began,

His purse was low, and, nit, he must share it.” Man but proposes, while ʼtis Heaven directs !

When Rabelais' quart d'heure brought in the bill, If it had errors--they were not defects,

And though 'twas long, Pat's face was longer still. To say the truth, the bill was most unscas’nable ;

For he had chosen a “prime” caravansary, Where they take merit in a charge unreas'nable;

In short-the bill was like a bill in Chancery. While Pat this woodcock reckoning was scanning

“ So much potatoes, and so much for butter,” The landlord, who with some strange man stood planning,

Began, in under-tone, of rats to mutter.
It was a rat-catcher, whose schemes had faild

To save the landlord's meat and cheese from plunder,
And much “my host " with many a curse detailid :

“ Is there no remedy to keep rats under?” “ Is it the rats you'd banish, man?" quoth Pat;

“To clear your house of them, without much pain, There's your own bill; by J-s—s, shew them that, And, faith and troth, they'll not come here again.”

M.

gross and

THE MONIED MAN: AN OUTLINE. Old Jacob Stock !—The chimes of the 'Change were not more punctual in proclaiming the progress of time, than in marking the regularity of his visits to the good old Lady in Threadneedle-street, and her opposite neighbour in Bartholomew-lane. His devotion to them was exemplary. In vain the wind and the rain, the hail or the sleet, battled against his rugged front. Nor the slippery ice, nor the thick-falling snow, nor the whole artillery of elementary warfare, could check the plodding perseverance of the man of the world, or tempt him to lose the chance which the morning, how unpropitious soever it seemed in its external aspect, might yield him of profiting by the turn of a fraction.

He was a stout-built, round-shouldered, squab-looking man, of a bearish aspect.

His features were hard, and his heart was harder. You could read the interest-table in the wrinkles on his brow, trace the rise and fall of stocks by the look of his countenance; while avarice, selfishness, and money-getting, glared from his grey, glassy eye. Nature had poured no balm into his breast, nor was his “ earthy mould” ever susceptible of pity. A single look of his would daunt the most importunate petitioner that ever attempted to extract hard coin by the soft rhetoric of a heart-moving tale. The wife of one whom he had known in better days pleaded before him for her sick husband and famishing infants. Jacob, on occasions like these, was a man of few words. ' He was as chary of them as of his money, and he let her come to the end of her tale without interruption. She paused for a reply; but he gave none. “Indeed, he is very ill, Sir." -“ Can't help it.”—“ We are very distressed."- -“Can't help it."

poor children, too_"—“Can't help that neither.” The petitioner's eye looked a mournful reproach, which would have interpreted itself to any other heart but his, " Indeed, you can;" but she was silent. Jacob felt more awkwardly than he had ever done in his life. His hand involuntarily scrambled about his breeches' pocket. There was something like the weakness of human nature stirring within him. Some coin had unconsciously worked its way into his hand-his fingers insensibly closed; but the effort to draw them forth, and the impossibility of effecting it without unclosing them, roused the dormant selfishness of his nature, and restored his self-possession. “He has been very extravagant."- “Ah! Sir, he has been unfortunate, not extravagant."

-“Unfortunate? Ah! it's the same thing. Little odds, I fancy. For my part, I wonder how folks can be unfortunate. I was never unfortunate. Nobody need be unfortunate, if they look after the main chance. * I always looked after the main chance.”—“ He has had a large family to maintain.”—“Ah! married foolishly; no offence to you, ma'am. But when poor folks marry poor folks, what are they to look for, you know? Besides, he was so foolishly fond of assisting others. If a friend was sick, or in a gaol, out came his purse, and then his creditors might go whistle. Now, if he had married a woman with money, you know, why then......” The supplicant turned pale, and would have fainted. Jacob was alarmed; not that he sympathized,

[ocr errors]

* " The grave Sir Gilbert holds it for a rule,

That ev'ry man in want is knave or fool."

POPE.

« 前へ次へ »