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fully balanced, like Mahomet's coffin, between earth and ether. Davenant Cecil is a being as thoroughly made up of sympathies and affections, as ever was a puppet of springs or a commentator of absurdities. He never experienced, he never could endure five minutes of calm weather; he is always carried up into the heaven and down again into the deep; every hope, every exertion, every circumstance, be it of light or of grave import, is to him equally productive of its exaltation or its depression; like the Proserpina of fable he is in Olympus half the year, and in Tartarus the other. Marmaduke Villars has about as much notion of raptures and enthusiasm, as a Mohawk chief entertains of turtle soup, or a French milliner of the differential calculus. Except that he prefers claret to port, and Drury-lane to Covent-garden, and eau de Montpellier to eau de Cologne, I doubt whether he is conscious of any predilection for one thing or any aversion to another. Marmaduke is like Ladurlad in every thing except "the fire in his heart, and the fire in his brain ;" and Davenant is the Sorcerer Benshee, who rode on a fast horse, and talked with many, and jested with many, and laughed loudly, and wept wildly for the things he saw; yet was he bound by his compact to the fiend to sit at no table, and to lie on no couch, and to speed forward by night and by day, sleeping never, and resting never, even till his appointed hour.
A short time ago, Davenant and myself received an invitation to spend a few days with Villars. His favourite hunter, Sir Peter, had thrown him or fallen with him, I forget which, and after being a little put to rights, as he expressed it, at the little country place where the accident happened, he had been removed to the hall, and ordered to keep himself quiet. There seemed to be some chance of his compliance with this admonition, as the rest of his family were all absent, and there was not a house within five miles; but in order to counteract these favourable symptoms as much as possible, he summoned us to his sofa. Cecil and Villars are the antipodes of one another; and, as is commonly the case, are the fondest friends upon all occasions, because they never can agree upon one.
We went accordingly, and were rejoiced to find our friend, pale to be sure, and very intimate with crutches, but still apparently free from pain, and enjoying that medicinal level of spirits which is a better preservative against fever than you will easily find from the lancet or the draught. He congratulated himself upon the safety of his nose, which Mr. Perrott the apothecary had pronounced broken, and only lamented the loss of his boot, which it had been necessary to cut from his leg. In a short time we quite forgot that he
was in the slightest degree damaged, and conversed on divers topics without any intrusive compassion for his flannel and his slipper.
And first, as in duty bound, we began to discuss the Quarterly Magazine, and its past success, and its future hopes, and its patrons, and its contributors. Davenant was wonderfully angry because some "fathomless blockheads" found obscurities in his Lyrical Poem. "If there were any descendings into the deep fountains of thought, any abstruse researches into the mind of man,'-in short, to speak plainly, if there were any thing in the poem which a man might be very proud to risk his reputation upon, then one might be prepared for darkness and coldness in this improving and understanding age; but a mere fancy piece like this, as simple in design as it is in execution-you know, Marmaduke, that incapacity to comprehend must be either gross stupidity, or supreme affectation."
"I think much may be said for the blockheads,"" observed Marmaduke, shaking his head.
"You think no such thing," said Davenant, "and you feel that you think no such thing: I shall detest you, Villars, if you write yourself down an ass,' merely for the sake of telling me I am one."
"You know, my dear Davenant," said Villars, "you know you never detested any body in your life, except, perhaps, a few of the commentators upon Shakspeare, and the critic who considered Campbell the first poet of the day, and Wordsworth the second. But seriously I cannot conceive why you are ruffled about your verses; you know they are admired, as Mr. Rigge says of his soap, by all the best judges; not to go out of our own circle, you know Lady Mary, and Tristram, and Gerard, who are worth all the world, think them about the best things going; nay, I am not clear that our good friend Joyeuse has not some suspicion of the kind, only he never speaks a word of truth upon any subject. And, loaded as you are with all these accumulated commendations, you want to add the weight of my valueless voice to your burthen, and to
"There never was a man more mistaken; what should I care for your opinion? It is not worth a straw, it is not worth • Gertrude of Wyoming' to me. But I am in a passion when I see a tolerably clever man making a fool of himself wilfully. I read the poem to your sister, and she understood it perfectly."
"Then you persuaded her first that she was a clever girl, and she thought her comprehension would confirm the idea. I will wager a beauty against a bottle, or a haunch of venison
against a page of rhyme, or The Pleasures of Hope' against "The Excursion,' or any other boundless odds which you like to suggest, that with the same object in view she shall admire the Iliad or dote upon the Koran."
"There is no answer to such an argument. All I know is, that Amelia found nothing difficult in the poem." "What! she told you so, I suppose."
"No; her eyes did."
"Then her eyes lied confoundedly. Never, my dear Davenant; never, while you live, believe in the language of the eyes. I would rather believe in the miracles of Apollonius, or the infallibility of the Pope of Rome, or the invincibility of the French army. I believed a pretty piercing pair once, which told me the wearer was very fond of a particular person, and I cultivated my whiskers accordingly, and did double duty at my glass. By Paphos and its patroness, she went off in a month with a tall captain of fusiliers, and left me to despondency and the new novel."
"And you longed to be so deceived again," said Davenant. "No: it was very fatiguing. Never, while you live, believe in the language of the eyes. But you will, because you were born to be a fool, and you must fulfil your destiny. As Rousseau says he is somewhere about the room
"I have him in my hand," said Davenant; "what a delightful little book; I dote upon the size, and the binding, and the type, and the
"Yes; he was of great service to me a fortnight ago, when my hurt was rather annoying at night. My people prescribed opium, and I used to take Jean Jacques instead. But this way is my treasure-house of reading: eh! le voici!" and he ́ led us up to a book-case where was conspicuously placed an immense edition of Voltaire, and began taking down the volumes and expressing the dotage of his delight with wonderful rapidity."Ah! Alzire! charming-and Merope;—you are going to talk about Shakspeare, Davenant. Hold your tongue;-a noisy, gross, fatiguing-no, no: the French stage for me!-Eh! ma belle Zaïre! the French stage for me !— 'tout dort, tout est tranquille, et-' and Candide! oh! I could laugh for a century. Et puis-la Pucelle! oh, pour le coup
And "le coup" came with a vengeance; for Davenant, who hates a French play worse than poison, had just found something overpoweringly ridiculous in the woes of "l'Or phelin de la Chine," and bursting into an ungovernable shriek of laughter, dropped some six or seven quarto volumes upon the wounded foot of our unfortunate stoic. He fell on the floor, in agony, and almost in a passion.
"Damnation !-n'importe !-my sweet Davenant, how could you- Peregrine, my good fellow, do pull the bell!-horrible! Why, Cecil, how out of your wits you look!—ave Maria!-vive la bagatelle !-why you look like a Diable!like a physician called in too late, mort de ma vie !—or like a-Monstre !-like a Wood Dæmon at the English Opera House,-ring again, Courtenay!-Ha, ha !-I played one myself once-Oh! que c'est affreux!-for a wager, ha, ha!Oh!-with a long torch, ha, ha!-fire and brimstone !-with long black hair-peste !-but it would never stand on end like yours! oh que non!-Ring again, Courtenay!-Eh! Perpignan! here has been a fall! a fall,-as they say upon 'Change, cher Perpignan: take me to bed, Perpignan; take it easy-doucement!-Ah! the Wood Dæmon, Davenant ;I shall never get over it!-ha, ha !-Oh!
And thus was Marmaduke carried off, laughing, and screaming, and jesting, and swearing, by turns. His medical attendant was summoned, and we saw him no more that night; he sent us word that he was as well as could be expected, but that he should never get over the Wood Dæmon; in spite of which consolatory intelligence, Davenant wore a Tyburn countenance the whole evening.
We met, however, the next morning, and proceeded most laudably to remember nothing of the accident but its absurdity. "I never found Voltaire heavy before," said Villars, shaking Davenant by the hand; "but you poets of the Lake are so horribly in the habit of taking liberties with your own feet, that you have no compassion at all for those of your friends. Mercy upon my five toes! they will not meet in a boot for a twelvemonth; and now, apropos de bottes,' we must have some breakfast.
Rain confined us to the house, the newspapers were full of advertisements, and the billiard table was undergoing repair. Davenant endeavoured to define intensity, and I endeavoured to sleep; Marmaduke struck his sister's tambourine, and the great clock struck one. We began to feel as uncomfortably idle as a gaol-bird who has just been put in, or a minister who has just been turned out. At last some notice was taken of two miniatures of our friend and his sister, which had been done many years ago, and now hung on opposite sides of the mantle-piece, gazing tenderly at one another in all the holiday magnificence which was conferred by laced cap and pink ribbons upon the one, and by sky-blue jacket and sugar-loaf buttons upon the other. Hence we began to talk of painting, and of "Raphael, Corregio, and stuff," until it was determined that we should proceed to make a pilgrimage through a long gallery of family portraits, which Marmaduke assured
us had been covered with commendations and cobwebs ever since he left his cradle. He hobbled before us on his crutches, and made a very sufficient Cicerone. Marmaduke has no wit; but he has a certain off-hand manner which often passes for it, and is sometimes as good a thing.
"That old gentleman," he began, pointing to a magnificent fellow in rich chain armour, whose effigies occupied one end of the gallery, "that old gentleman is the founder of the family. Blessings on his beard! I almost fancy it has grown longer since I saw it last. He fought inordinately at Harfleur and Agincourt, was eminently admired and bruised, won a whole grove of laurels, and lost three fingers and a thumb. See, over his head is the crest which was his guerdon; a little finger rampant, and the motto blazoned gorgeously round, mon doyt est mon droit!""
"A splendid servant of the sword," said Davenant; "what a glorious scope of forehead, and what a lowering decision in the upper lip. A real soldier! He would have cleft down a dozen of your modern male figurantes!"
Perhaps so," replied Villars; " but you see he made a bad hand of it, notwithstanding. His nephew, there, is something more soberly habited, but he was not a jot less mad. Who would dream of such a frenzy in sackcloth and sad countenance? He was follower of Wyckliffe before it was the fashion, and-"
"An excellent piece of workmanship too! I like to see some fury in a man's faith. Who can endure a minister of the gospel mounting his pulpit at Mary-le-bone, with his wellordered bands, and his clean manuscript, and his matter-offact disquisition, and his matter-of-course tone! That bald apostle has lips I could have listened to: he might have been an enthusiast, or a bigot, or a madman, or e'en what you will; but he has a show of zeal, and an assumption of authority; there is fire about the old man !"
"There was once," said Marmaduke, "for he was burned in Smithfield. Come hither, here is a young fellow you will admire,-Everard the Beautiful, (by the way, they say he is like me,) who fell in love with the pretty Baroness de Pomeroy. He used to sing under her balcony at midnight, out of pure gallantry, and out of all tune; catching sighs from the high window, and colds from the high wind. He was full three years wailing and whispering, and dreaming and dying, and smarting in the left breast, and sonnetting in the left turret. At last came the fifth act of the drama, death and happiness blended together with strict poetic propriety; the fates threw him into her arms one night, and the baron threw him into the moat one morning."