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dark hair à la Grecque ; and you have a light step and a quick speech, and just sufficient embonpoint to recall our young sonnetteers from their dreams of Dryads and of Naiads, and to compel them to muse for a few minutes on something more lovely and less divine. And you paint flowers, and draw caricatures, and you play the harp and l'écarté, and sing delightfully; and you love Handel, and dote upon Sbakspeare : and you are twenty-five, and · Mary!
By all these signs you are manifestly pointed out as the idol before whom we are to prostrate our hearts and our papers. You will not refuse the homage we proffer. Among our gay and buoyant souls the day of chivalry and of enthusiasm shall have another morning : you shall be to us the queen of the joust; in your sight the bold and adventurous are to break their first lance ; your smile is to be the excitement, your hand is to bestow the reward ; a thousand poets shall be your slaves, a thousand quills shall leap from their desks to avenge the look that threatens you with insult. Your image shall animate, and your name shall protect us ; censure shall kneel before you, and criticism shall be dumb in your presence.
We are your ladyship’s very humble servants, MARMADUKE VILLARS, HAMILTON MURRAY, DAVENANT CECIL,
CHARLES PENDRAGON, TRISTRAM MERTON,
LEWIS WILLOUGHBY, IRVINE MONTAGU,
JOHN TELL, GERARD MONTGOMERY,
EDMUND BRUCE, HENRY BALDWIN,
REGINALD HOLYOAKE, JOSEPH HALLER,
RICHARD MILLS, PETER ELLIS,
OLIVER MEDLEY, PATERSON AYMER,
PEREGRINE COURTENAY, EUSTACE HERON,
VYVYAN JOYEUSE, EDWARD HASELFOOT,
MARTIN LOVELL, WILLIAM PAYNE,
MARTIN DANVERS HEAVISIDE, ARCHIBALD FRAZER,
&c. &c. &c.
“ This will never do, Marmaduke,”_said her Ladyship.
“ It will do very well, please your Ladyship,” said the foremost of the group.
“ It is some mad prank of my mad brother's contrivance : prythee, Frederic, come hither, and if it is in your nature to be grave
for two minutes together, unravel to us this mystery.” “ By your Ladyship's shoe-tye,” said Frederic, with a mock reverence, and a voice of imperturbable gravity, “it were presumption in me to read Arabic, or to understand wit. Howbeit, if your Ladyship will take your state, and assemble around you your privy council of beauty and fashion, I will
essay, by examination of the culprits, to decypher the hieroglyphic characters.”
Lady Mary Vernon entered into the jest right merrily : she was forthwith installed in an elevated seat, and surrounded by all of fair and bright that had collected in her drawing-room on New Year's Eve. “To-night,” she said, and as she spoke she arranged a thick shawl in folds of royal seeming, and waved an ivory fan, sceptre-like,_" to-night we hold a high court of judicature; our noble brother, Frederic Vernon, shall be constituted our Attorney-General; and our worshipful cousin, Peregrine Courtenay, shall take minutes of our proceedings.”
Writing materials were brought; the Attorney-General of the evening placed spectacles upon his nose, and arrayed himself in a wig and gown of most superlatively legal dimensions. Amidst much laughter, and more marvel, he commenced the investigation.
“ Marmaduke Villars, your signature stands the first at the bottom of this incendiary scrawl. As you hope for mercy from the court, state concisely and correctly the object of its inditing.”
Marmaduke Villars, a tall handsome man, with an astonishing air of the drawing-room about his carriage and address, performed an easy bow, and began with much nonchalance:
“ May it please your Ladyship, “ You see before you a group of wits, who were encircling your Ladyship's dining-table two hours ago, when your Ladyship abdịcated the chair in favour of your esteemed brother. Many names we toasted, and Lady Mary Vernon's, as we were in duty bound, most devotedly.
(Her Ladyship bowed condescendingly.) “ At last, when, after the manner of Falstaff's prescription, our brains had been invigorated and our judgment cleared, the conversation turned upon literary subjects. The leading poets of our age, and all preceding ages, were successively discussed ;Haller quoted Homer, and Frazer spouted' Ossian, and Medley agreed with them both; Heron eulogized Moore, and Cecil deified Wordsworth, and Joyeuse laughed at them all. By degrees our high debate deviated into a consideration of the merits of the Periodical Works of the day, and the style of writing which they introduce or encourage.
The British was dubbed · thick,' and the Album was declared “thin;' Blackwood was held to be scurrilous, and the Liberal was voted Cockney. After much altercation it was pretty well agreed that your Ladyship's servants are likely to do something much better; and after our old friend Peregrine had said a few words in kind remembrance of his quondam passages with Mr. C. Knight, our first resolution passed unanimously :
“That the most entertaining publication of the day be immediately set on foot, under the title of · Knight's Quarterly Magazine.'
But who was to edite the work ? Who was to preside in the parliament, and say 'order' to its unruly members ?
Many names and many pretensions were successively canvassed. It was a very knotty point. One candidate was rejected because he was a poet, and another because he was none; one because he talked sentiment, and another because he talked Greek; one was too great a philosopher, and another was too great a fool; one was too fond of burlesque, and another was too fond of Burgundy. There was no chance of coming to a conclusion. The civil war became wondrously uncivil; all was din, and chaos, and headach; the silent were growing out of spirits, and the speakers were growing out of tune. Finally our second resolution was moved by our romàntic friend Cecil; and carried unanimously.
“That the Lady Mary Vernon be requested to assume the sovereignty of this book, and to nominate responsible Ministers for its conduct.'
“And in pursuance of the said resolution, my hand drew up the petition which your Ladyship has impartially examined; which your brother has scandalously disowned ; and which my fair cousin, the honourable Miss Julia Lascelles, is at this moment twisting and torturing for the manufacture of Allumettes !”
The honourable Miss Julia Lascelles took up the ivory Cupid in whose quiver she had been arranging her handywork, and placing him before the Divan, moved “ that the Petition do lie on the Table.”
“The Petition does lie abominably,” said Joyeuse; and the investigation was resumed.
“Mr. Marmaduke Villars will be good enough to state the talents on which he relies for the execution of his very intelligible plan.”
• It is really very awkward to talk of one's self :- -n'importe: it must be endured. I have seen something of life, and acquired something of taste; I understand a little of cookery, but more of dress; I have mixed in all circles; I have been a favourite with the Gods of the Gallery, and the Goddesses of Almack's ; I have listened to the Billingsgate of St. Giles's and the Billingsgate of St. Stephen's; I have worn masks of every complexion, and studied every variation of ton. I have roamed all Europe over ; I have adorned every Court and criticized every dynasty; I have seen Murat in arms, and Ferdinand fishing for oysters ; I have bowed to Buonaparte at the levee, and kneeled with Louis at the mass. I have talked folly with the French, and literature with the German, and patriotism with the Spaniard, and poetry with the Italian, and love with them all. And now I am come hither with my pen and portfolio in my hand, to be annoying or amusing, excellent or a bore, even as your Ladyship and the Public shall find me.”
* Remarkably satisfactory!- I shall ask you no further questions. Arthur Cecil, come into court: your hand writing proclaims you art and part of this nefarious transaction: what are the hopes you have of escaping the yawns of
your readers, and the murmurs of your bookseller?"
Arthur Cecil, of whose character I can convey, in the compass of a few lines, no idea except that which will naturally be asssociated with a highly flushed cheek, and a magnificent forehead, and thick black hair, and eyes of unusual brilliancy, stept into the glittering circle, with a temporary look of embarrassment, and folded his arms over his breast :
«I," he said, “ have looked into the lakes and fields, for those enjoyments which our friend Marmaduke has found in Buhl ornaments and Turkey carpets. There are few who understand me, fewer who sympathize with me. Marmaduke is a man of the world, a man of modes, and compliments, and customs; what is the leaf, and the rivulet, and the green herb to him?
The primrose on the river's brim,
And it is nothing more;' “Do I envy him his tastes or his feelings, his bow or his badinage ? For his fashionable costume or his foreign accent would I exchange
that serene and blessed mood
We see into the life of things A few laughed, and a few yawned: Frederic Vernon took snuff, and Amelia Lorraine said it was delightful, and vowed she must have a copy for her Album.
“My dear Arthur," said Frederic, “have you not Wordsworth's poems, prettily bound and lettered, in the left hand corner of the second shelf of your mahogany bookcase ?"
It is very true!" “Oh! you own the soft impeachment?--It is quite sufficient; I shall ask you no further questions ;"--and Arthur was dismissed.
Charlotte Stanhope simpered, and observed that " Mr. Arthur Cecil was always a great favourite with Melpomene." Lady Mary tapped her with her fan, and said, "he was always a great favourite with mé, Charlotte, which is much more to the purpose : ” and then there was a little biting of lips, and the examination proceeded.
. “Tristram Merton, come into court.” There came up a short manly figure, marvellously upright, with a bad neckcloth, and one hand in his waistcoat pocket. Of regular beauty he had little to boast; but in faces where there is an expression of great power, or of great good humour, or both, you do not regret its absence.
“They were glorious days,” he said, with a bend, and a look of chivalrous gallantry to the circle around him," they were glorious days for old Athens when all she held of witty and of wise, of brave and of beautiful, was collected in the drawingroom of Aspasia. In those, the brightest and noblest times of Greece, there was no feeling so strong as the devotion of youth, no talisman of such virtue as the smile of beauty. Aspasia was the arbitress of peace and war, the queen of arts and arms, the Pallas of the spear and the pen: we have looked back to those golden hours with transport and with longing. Here our classical dreams shall in some sort wear a dress of reality'; he who has not the piety of a Socrates, may at least fall down before as lovely a divinity; he who has not the power of a Pericles may at least kneel before as beautiful an Aspasia."
His tone had just so much earnest that what he said was felt as a compliment, and just so much banter that it was felt as nothing more. As he concluded he dropped on one knee, and paused.
Tristram," said the Attorney-General, “we really are sorry to cramp a culprit in his line of defence; but the time of the court must not be taken up: if you can speak ten words to the purpose
Prythee, Frederic,” retorted the other, “ leave me to manage my own course; I have an arduous journey to run; and, in such: a circle, like the poor' prinee in the Arabian Tales, I must be frozen into stone before I can finish my task without turning to the right or the left.”
“For the love you bear us, a truce to your similes: they shall be felony without benefit of clergy; and silence for an hour shall be the penalty.”
“A penalty for similes !-horrible! Paul of Russià prohibited round hats, and Chihu of China denounced white teeth ;but this is atrocious !”
“I beseech you, Tristram, if you can for a moment forget your omniscience, let us