Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

GRIMM's GHOST.

LETTER XXI.

Society for the Propagation of Gentility. This society held its first anniversary dinner at the Albion tavern in Aldersgate-street, on Wednesday last. It is the laudable object of this Institution to rescue from vulgarity the inhabitants of the eastern parts of the metropolis

: and when we consider the thousands of living beings who haunt the Royal Exchange, and who in their eagerness to turn a penny, are too apt to drill holes in their manners, the utility of an Establishment like the present must be obvious to the eyes of blindness itself. The gallery was filled with elegantly dressed ladies, and the waiters spoke French. The dinner consisted of every delicacy in and out of season, and would have been unexceptionable if it had not been for the appearance of some roast-beef and plum-pudding at the lower end of one of the tables. Several stock-brokers, who sat near those obnoxious articles, were seized with a faintness, which was only removed by the prompt substitution of a dish of cotellettes aux concombres and an omelette sonttiét. One gentleman drank hock out of a white glass, and claret out of a green one, and was consequently desired to leave the room. An undertaker from Budge-row, during the singing of “Non nobis Domine," ejaculated “sed tuo,” half a note too sharp; and an executor from Watling-street dropped his mourning-ring in his finger-glass. With the exception of the above accidents the dinner passed off with the most edifying decorum. The following toasts were then drunk.

“ The King --and may he never forget his German tailor in Cork street, Burlington-gardens !"

“ The Duke of York, and the last new hussar uniform !"

“ The Duke of Clarence, and success to the new ambassador's yacht!"

The noble chairman now rose, and begged the attention of the gentlemen present while he explained the meaning of the latter part of the last-delivered toast. It might not have occurred to every gentleman who heard him to do what he had himself recently done, namely, to visit in person the new ambassador's yacht then lying off Woolwich. Such a vessel

, he was proud to say, was not to be matched in gentility by any vessel in his Majesty's navy. Cleopatra sailed not down the Cydnus in half so elegant a bark (applause). Cut-glass decanters, Sèvres china, Turkey carpets, or-molu inkstands, chintz hangings, graced every part of this truly genteel establishment. The rude rope that communicates between the tiller and the rudder was cased in a mahogany coating, and he had actually seen Burke on the “ Sublime and Beautiful in a port-hole. The sailors, a race of men who called in a peculiar manner for the fostering aid of this establishment, were, on board the new ambassador's yacht, what sailors should be, perfect gentlemen. In such a vessel so manned and so decorated, if any thing unpleasant should happen in the Atlantic, an ambassador would have the satisfaction of going to the bottom like a gentleman. One little anecdote he could not but communicate. It has hitherto been the heathen custom with sailors, when they want the aid of any of their brethren, to exclaim, Society for the Propagation of Gentility. - 563 with a corresponding hitch of their trowsers, “Lend a hand, ye lubbers !" In lieu of this ungenteel salutation, he, the chairman, heard a remarkably modest well-dressed sailor on board the yacht in question, with a polite bow thus accost his brethren :--“ Gentlemen, may I request your co-operation ?" (great applausc.)

Song from Miss Povey in the gallery, “Hail Politeness, Power divine !"

Silence was then requested while the secretary read the report of the committee.

The committee commenced their report by drawing a parallel between London in its present state and as it existed fifty years ago. Gentility, at the period last mentioned, was confined to a few streets and squares westward, while all the rest of the metropolis was devoted to vulgarity. Since that period Bedford-square had shewn to an astonished aristocracy that traders could be as genteel as viscounts. (Applause.) In this square was first set that glorious example, since so well followed by more recent edifices, that human nature could not exist without two drawing-rooms communicating by folding-doors. Young children might require nurseries, and grown ones school-rooms : the father of a family might want his library, and the mother of it her store-room. But what, continued the report, are wants like these compared with the want of routs ? ( Applause.) Upon this plan, therefore, was every new house erected, from the massy structures in Connaught-place to their humble brethren in Coram-street ; and Vitruvius forbid that they should ever be erected upon any other principle! If the time should ever arrive when utility should shoulder the hod and convenience handle the trowel, farewell to fashion, and good-b’ye to the Society for the Propagation of Gentility. (The Secretary at this period of the report drank a tumbler of champagne and water, and then resumed his labours.) The report next adverted to the Propagation of Gentility in Euston-square and other environs of Gower-street, and proceeded to set forth a letter addressed, by a widow lady residing in the lastmentioned street, to the Secretary, covering two notices which the writer alleged herself to have received from neighbours and tenants, expressive of the intention of the parties to quit their residences at Michaelmas-day then next ensuing. The two writers, who appeared to be of the softer sex, intimated no feeling of hostility as inducing them to take that step. They both of them ascribed it to an article which had appeared in a respectable monthly publication, entitled “ Every-day People,” in which it is insinuated that Gowerstreet is apt to be tenanted by persons of that stamp. (Murmurs.) The writers alleged that in transplanting themselves to Gower street, the one from Hatton-garden and the other from the Crescent in the Minories, they were actuated by the laudable motive of being genteel and something out of the common way: but, finding from the article in question, that those objects were not to be attained, or if attained, not prolonged in their present residences, they had resolved upon moving a little more westward, namely, to Alfred-place and Howland-street.

A gentleman in a genteel suit of black, at the middle table, here interrupted the secretary, and begged to know whether the houses in Gower-street possessed verandals to the windows of the first floor.

One of the committee, in answer, regretted to be obliged to confess that, so far from this being the case, only one mansion, tenanted, he believed, by Mr. John Bannister, even possessed a balcony. He added, however, that since the publication of the pasquinade, to which allusion had been made, the inhabitants had generally determined upon the adoption of verandahs. It had also been resolved to break the king's peace a little later at night, by a more prolonged system of routing and quadrilling. The sons of three resident householders had determined to indulge the natives with an occasional lark at half past two in the morning : the daughters of seven other proprietors were learning to march, and taking lessons on the kettledrum : Mr. MacAdain was cortracting to mud them and dust them in the latest fashion ; and the wives of the tenants in general had come to a resolution of giving no balls without requiring the parties to appear in fancy dresses. This conversion of young policy-brokers, Blackwell-hall factors, proctors, attornies, and clergymen in deacons orders, into Turks, pilgrims, kings of Prussia, Swiss peasants, and Spanish banditti, it was hoped and trusted, would in process of time enable the inhabitants no longer te groan under the appellation of “Every-day People.”—The gentleman in the genteel suit of black expressed himself satisfied.

Song, Mr. Fitzwilliam_“Oh what a town! what a wonderful metropolis !"

The chairman now begged, before the continuation of the reading of the report, to propose a toast. He had to draw the attention of the meeting to the memory of a departed nobleman, whom mankind in general, and this socicty in particular, were bound to reverence. But for him and his “ Letters to his Son," where would our feet have been at this moment? Not turned out, but protruded forward in paralel lines, like those of a porter bending under the weight of two firkins of butter. Where would our finger-nails have been? Not rounded in sightly semicircles, but lengthened ad infinitum, like those of the poor benighted Brahmin, who makes nine million of bows in one year to the blazing mid-day sun. He therefore begged to propose as a toast, “The immortal memory of Philip Dormer, Earl of Chesterfield.” This toast was drunk in solemn silence, and with empty glasses.

The meeting was at this period thrown into a temporary confusion, owing to a dispute between two gentlemen who sat near the middle of the centre table. One of the gentlemen taxed the other with having been helped twice to soup, which his adversary retorted with a charge of having called for table-beer after his cheese. Both charges were verified by the testimony of one of the stewards. The gentlemen apologized for having committed two acts so flagrantly opposite to the rules of the Society for the Propagation of Gentility; and harmony was restored.

The report next adverted to the object which the Society had more . particularly in view, namely, the propagation of gentility eastward. " And here," said that document, "your committee, amid occasional causes for despondence, have much motive for continuing their labours. Gentility is greatly on the increase in Moorfields: a rout has been given in Cross-street, Finsbury : Stepney Fields are white for the harvest: a harp has been heard io vibrate in Crutched Friars: a footman in a white livery has been seen to deliver a card of condolence in

Seething-lane: a book-club has sprung up in Trinity-square, and the dinner-hour in the Minories is half-past six for seven. (Greut applause.) Your committee have further to report, that in individual instances the effect of their labours is beginning to be gloriously apparent: two cutlers' apprentices were seen by the secretary to accost each other at an accidental rencontre in Aldgate on the Saturday preceding. These very individuals, who six months ago would have seized each other's bands, and worked away as if they were pumping for dear life on board the Bellerophon, now satisfied themselves with a slight touch of the hat, a graceful drop of the chin and the eyelids, and a mutual soft exclamation, in which the usual health-inquiry was Mac-Adamized into “Addy do." Your committee takes leave to dou!t whether the thing could have been better done at the corner of Park-lane, Piccadilly. The report concluded by expressing the hope of the committee, that the meeting would not relax in its persevering efforts to uphold the Society, exhausted as its funds were, by a pretty general distribution of brass spurs for bankers' clerks, agate necklaces for special pleaders' wives, Irish Melodies for copper smiths' daughters, French kid gloves for journeymen printers, and cockades for brewers' grooms. The subscription was liberal, and the company departed in cabriolets at an early hour, after bestowing a merited compliment upon Mr. Kay for the genteel untavernlike appearance of his establishment.

HOMER* ON THE BANKS OF THE SCAMANDER.

Lone stream ! and is this all

Thy banks recall,
Of valour, glory, grief, and beauty gone?

Retains thy silver fond

No trace of tears or blood ?
And towers thy Troy in Homer's dreams alone?

Are these the scenes deplored,

Where shield and sword
Bade the red field with splendid terrors burn?

Did e'er this sweet wind's breath

Waft the dread sounds of death,
Or charger's hoof the flowers of Xanthust spurn?

Was it yon desert shore

That held of yore
A thousand keels, and shook with war's alarms?

Or, o'er yon sumınitsi proud,

Pavilion'd round with cloud,
Did the lone Thunderer launch his burning arms ? -

Alas! long years yon sun

His race has tun,
And glory's rainbows in 'Time's cloud expire ;

Yet gleams of splendours goue

Still gild their misty throne-
Themes of the sage's thougbt, the minstrel's lyre.

The author has taken no notice of the rulgar opinion, that th: poet, who had seen so much, could not see at all; finding it impossible to read the Miad, and to believe that Homer was blind.

† Xanthus his name with those of heavenly birth,

But call'a Scamander by the sons of earth. Pope's Riad.
Mount Ida.

Oh, idly glorious wave,

Where once the brave
Slaked their last thirst, and swell'd the crimson tide-

Lo, one sole lingerer roves,

To gaze on Ida's groves,
And dream of Troy by Dardan Xanthus' side!

Can he behold in vain

Thy haunted plain,
Thy river, murmuring still of days no more-

Nor strike the lofty shell,

Their deeds and fates to tell
Who bled, or triumph’d, on Scamander's shore ?

No! Would the torch of Fame

Might wake to flame
His harp, and fire his soul with awful joy,

Till on bright Helle's Aood

Immortal navies rode,
And Ida smiled upon a deathless Troy!—

So let Song's children live

Mid thoughts that give
All the rich sunshine back of clouded years-

And cull the purest blooms,

From this, their world of tombs,
To crown the bowl, whose wine so oft is tears !

Free, fair as Ida's streams,

Melodious dreains
Should o'er their hearts in sunny beauty roll,

And lave their lives from all

That spreads a mournful pall
O'er the cold world, and o'er its votary's soul.

How rich the Minstrel's dower,

Were nis the power
To bid for ever live the faded name-

To light his song sublime

By the dim waves of time,
Till farthest years rolld brightening in his fame!

Such be the wanderer's lot,

Who, lone, forgot,
Strikes his loved lyre beside a stranger wave!

Not-oh not all in vain,

Be pour'd the enthusiast strain,
Which breathes his deep hope of a glorious grave!
Spirits of Song ! O fire

His heart and lyre, -
To him

the far and phantom Past unfold, -
Till bright o'er Lethe's tide

The Star of Glory ride,
And tinge its dark waves with prophetic gold !

Then, though this frame be clay,

Yet o'er my lay
Ages may pass, revering nations bum ;-

Green Ida's floods may be

Immortal tears for me,
And even green Ida's self her Minstrel's urn!

J.

« ZurückWeiter »