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of the bank offices it is the custom, (to save so much individual time,) for one of the clerkswho is the best scholar-to commence upon the Times, or the Chronicle, and recite its entire contents aloud pro bono publico. With every advantage of lungs and elocution—the effect is singularly vapid. In barber's shops, and public-houses, a fellow will get up, and spell out a paragraph, which he commnnicates as some discovery. Another follows with his selection. So the entire journal transpires at length by piece-meal. Seldomreaders are slow readers, and, without this expedient no one in the company would probably ever travel through the contents of a whole paper.
Newspapers always excite curiosity. No one ever lays one down without a feeling of disappointment.
What an eternal time that gentleman in black, at Nando's, keeps the paper! I am sick of hearing the waiter bawling out incessantly, “the Chronicle is in hand, sir."
As in these little diurnals I generally skip the foreign news-the debates—and the politics-l find the Morning Herald by far the most entertaining of them. It is an agreeable miscellany, rather than a newspaper.
Coming in to an inn at night-having ordered your supper-what can be more delightful than to find lying in the window-seat, left there time out of mind by the carelessness of some former guest -two or three numbers of the old Town and Country Magazine, with its amusing tete-a-tête pictures.-"The Royal Lover and Lady G-;" "the Melting Platonic and the old Beau,”—and such like antiquated scandal? Would you exchange it at that time, and in that place-for a better book?
Poor Tobin, who latterly fell blind, did not regret it so much for the weightier kinds of reading -the Pardise Lost, or Comus, he could have read to him-but he missed the pleasure of skimming over with his own eye-a magazine, or a light pamphlet.
I should not care to be caught in the serious avenues of some cathedral alone, and readingCandide!
I do not remember a more whimsical surprise than having been once detected-by a familiar damsel-reclined at my ease upon the grass, on Primrose Hill, (her Cythera,) reading-Pamela. There was nothing in the book to make a man seriously ashamed at the exposure; but as she seated herself down by me, and seemed determined to read in company, I could have wished it had been -any other book.-We read on very sociably for a few pages; and not finding the author much to her taste, she got up, and-went away. Gentle casuist, I leave it to thee to conjecture, whether the blush, (for there was one between us,) was the property of the nymph or the swain in this dilemma. From me you shall never get the secret.
I am not much a friend to out-of-doors reading.
I cannot settle my spirits to it. I knew a Unitarian minister, who was generally to be seen upon Snow-hill, (as yet Skinner's-street was not,) between the hours of ten and eleven in the morning, studying a volume of Lardner. I own this to have been a strain of abstraction beyond my reach. I used to admire how he sidled along keeping clear of secular contacts. An illiterate encounter with a porter's knot, or a bread-basket, would have quickly put to flight all the theology I am master of, and have left me worse than indifferent to the five points.
I was once amused-there is a pleasure in affecting affectation-at the indignation of a crowd that was justling in with me at the pit door of Covent Garden Theatre, to have a sight of Master Betty-then at once in his dawn and his meridian—in Hamlet. I had been invited quite unexpectedly to join a party, whom I met near the door of the playhouse, and I happened to have in my hand a large octavo of Johnson and Steevens's Shakspeare, which, the time not admitting of my carrying it home, of course went with me to the theatre. Just in the very heat and pressure of the doors opening-the rush, as they termi it—I deliberately held the volume over my head, open at the scene in which the young Roscius had been most cried up, and quietly read by the lamplight. The clamour became universal. "The affectation of the fellow," cried one. "Look at that gentleman reading, papa," squeaked a young lady, who, in her admiration of the novelty, almost forgot her fears. I read on. "He ought to have his book knocked out of his hand," exclaimed a pursy cit; whose arms were too fast pinioned to his side to suffer him to execute his kind intention. Still I read ou-and till the time came to pay my money, kept as unmoved, as Saint Anthony at his holy offices, with the satyrs, apes, and hobgoblins, mopping, and making mouths at him, in the picture, while the good man sits as undisturbed at the sight, as if he were sole tenant of the desert.-The individual rabble, (I recognized more than one of their ugly faces,) had damned a slight piece of mine but a few nights before, and I was determined the culprits should not a second time put me out of countenance.
There is a class of street-readers, whom I can never contemplate without affection-the poor gentry, who, not having wherewithal to buy, or hire a book, filch a little learning at the open stalls -the owner, with his hard eye, casting envious looks at the all the while, and thinking when they will have done. Venturing tenderly, page after page, expecting every moment when he shall interpose his interdict, and yet unable to deny themselves the gratification, they "snatch a fearful joy." Martin B, in this way, by daily fragments, got through two volumes of Clarissa, when the stall-keeper damped his laudable ambition, by asking him, (it was in his younger days,) whether he meant to purchase the work. M. de
clares, that under no circumstances of his life did he ever peruse a book with half the satisfaction which he took in those uneasy snatches. A quaint poetess of our day has moralized upon this subject in two very touching but homely stanzas.
THE TWO BOYS.
I saw a boy with eager eye
Of sufferings the poor have many,
AMONG the deaths in our obituary for this month, I observe with concern "At his cottage on the Bath road, Captain Jackson." The name and attribution are common enough; but a feeling like reproach persuades me that this could have been no other in fact than my dear old friend, who some five-and-twenty years ago rented a tenement, which he was pleased to dignify with the appellation here used, about a mile from Westbourn Green. Alack, how good men, and the good turns they do us, slide out of memory, and are recalled but by the suprise of some such sad memento as that which now lies before me!
He whom I mean was a retired half-pay officer, with a wife and two grown-up daughters, whom he maintained with the port and notions of gentlewomen, upon that slender professional allowance. Comely girls they were too.
And was I in danger of forgetting this man?his cheerful suppers-the noble tone of hospitality, when first you set foot in the cottage-the anxious ministerings about you, where little or nothing, (God knows,) was to be ministered.-Althea's horn in a poor platter-the power of selfenchantment, by which, in his magnificent wishes to entertain you, he multiplied his means to bounties.
You saw with your bodily eyes indeed what seemed a bare scrag-cold savings from the foregone meal-remnant hardly sufficient to send a mendicant from the door contented. But in the
copious will-the revelling imagination of your host-the "mind, the mind, Master Shallow," whole beeves were spread before you-hecatombs -no end appeared to the profusion.
It was the widow's cruse-the loaves and fishes; carving could not lessen, nor helping diminish it— the stamina were left-the elemental bone still flourished, divested of its accidents.
"Let us live while we can," methinks I hear the open-handed creature exclaim; "while we have, let us not want," "here is plenty left;" "want for nothing"-with many more such hospitable sayings, the spurs of appetite, and old concomitants of smoking boards, and feast-oppressed chargers. Then sliding a slender ratio of Single Gloucester upon his wife's plate or the daughters', he would convey the remanent rind into his own, with a merry quirk of "the nearer the bone," &c. and declaring that he universally preferred the outside. For we had our table-distinctions, you are to know, and some of us in a manner sate above the salt. None but his guest or guests dreamed of tasting flesh luxuries at night, the fragments were verè hospitibus sacra. But of one thing or another there was always enough, and leavings: only he would sometimes finish the remainder crust, to show that he wished no savings.
Wine we had none; nor, except on very rare occasions, spirits; but the sensation of wine was there. Some thin kind of ale I remember"British beverage," he would say ! " Push about my boys ;""Drink to your sweethearts, girls." At every meagre draught a toast must ensue, or a song. All the forms of good liquor were there, with none of the effects wanting. Shut your eyes, and you would swear a capacious bowl of punch was foaming in the centre, with beams of generous Port or Madeira radiating to it from each of the table corners. You got flustered, without knowing whence; tipsy upon words; and reeled under the potency of his unperforming Bacchanalian encouragements.
We had our songs-" Why, Soldiers, Why" -and the "British Grenadiers"-in which last we were all obliged to bear chorus. Both the daughters sang. Their proficiency was a nightly theme the masters he had given them-the "no-expense" which he spared to accomplish them in a science "so necessary to young women." But then-they could not sing " without the instrument."
Sacred, and by me never-to-be violated, Secrets of Poverty! Should I disclose your honest aims at grandeur, your make-shift efforts of magnificence? Sleep, sleep, with all thy broken keys, if one of the bunch be extant; thrummed by a thousand ancestral thumbs; dear cracked spinet of dearer Louisa! Without mention of mine, be dumb, thou thin accompanier of her thinner warble! A veil be spread over the dear delighted face of well-deluded father, who now haply listening to cherubic notes, scarce feels sincerer pleasure
than when she awakened thy time-shaken chords responsive to the twitterings of that slender image of a voice.
We were not without our literary talk either. It did not extend far, but, as far as it went, it was good. It was bottomed well; had good grounds to go upon. In the cottage was a room, which tradition authenticated to have been the same in which Glover, in his occasional retirements, had penned the greater part of his Leonidas. This circumstance was nightly quoted, though none of the present inmates, that I could discover, appeared ever to have met with the poem in question. But that was no matter. Glover had written there, and the anecdote was pressed into the account of the family importance. It diffused a learned air through the apartment, the little side casement of whi (the poet's study window,) opening upon a superb view as far as to the pretty spire of Harrow, over domains and patrimonial acres, not a rood nor square yard whereof our host could call his own, yet gave occasion to an immoderate expansion of-vanity shall I call it? -in his bosom, as he showed them in a glowing summer evening. It was all his, he took it all in, and communicated rich portions of it to his guests. It was a part of his largess, his hospitality; it was going over his grounds; he was lord for the time of showing them, and you the implicit lookers-up to his magnificence.
He was a juggler who threw mists before your eyes--you had no time to detect his fallacies. He would say "hand me the silver sugar-tongs ;" and before you could discover it was a single spoon, and that plated, he would disturb and captivate your imagination by a misnomer of " the urn" for a tea kettle; or by calling a homely bench a sofa. Rich men direct you to their furniture, poor ones divert you from it; he neither did one nor the other, but by simply assuming that every thing was handsome about him, you were positively at a demur what you did, or did not see, at the cottage. With nothing to live on, he seemed to live upon every thing. He had a stock of wealth in his mind; not that which is properly termed Content, for in truth he was not to be contained at all, but overflowed all bounds by the force of a magnificent self-delusion.
Enthusiasm is catching; and even his wife, a sober native of North Britain, who generally saw things more as they were, was not proof against the continual collision of his credulity. Her daughters were rational and discreet young women; in the main, perhaps, not insensible to their true circumstances. I have seen them assume a thoughtful air at times. But such was the preponderating opulence of his fancy, that I am persuaded, not for any half hour together, did they ever look their own prospects fairly in the face. There was no resisting the vortex of his temperament. His riotous imagination conjured up handsome settlements before their eyes, which kept
them up in the eye of the world too, and seem at last to have realized themselves; for they both have married since, I am told, more than respectably.
It is long since, and my memory waxes dim on some subjects, or I should wish to convey some notion of the manner in which the pleasant creature described the circumstances of his own wedding-day. I faintly remember something of a chaise and four, in which he made his entry into Glasgow on that morning to fetch the bride home, or carry her thither, I forget which. It so completely made out the stanza of the old ballad
When we came down through Glasgow town,
I suppose it was the only occasion, upon which his own actual splendour at all corresponded with the world's notions on that subject. In homely cart, or travelling caravan, by whatever humble vehicle they chanced to be transported in less prosperous days, the ride through Glasgow came back upon his fancy, not as a humiliating contrast, but as a fair occasion for reverting to that one day's state. It seemed an "equipage etern" from which no power of fate or fortune, once mounted, had power thereafter to dislodge him.
There is some merit in putting a handsome face upon indigent circumstances. To bully and swagger away the sense of them before strangers, may not be always discommendable. Tibbs, and Bobadil, even when detected, have more of our admiration than contempt. But for a man to put the cheat upon himself; to play the Bobadil at home; and, steeped in poverty up to the lips, to fancy himself all the while chin-deep in riches, is a strain of constitutional philosophy, and a mastery over fortune, which was reserved for my old friend Captain Jackson.
CONFESSIONS OF A DRUNKARD.
DEHORTATIONS from the use of strong liquors have been the favourite topic of sober declaimers in all ages, and have been received with abundance of applause by water-drinking critics. But with the patient, himself, the man that is to be cured, unfortunately their sound has seldom prevailed. Yet the evil is acknowledged, the remedy simple. Abstain. No force can oblige a man to raise the glass to his head against his will. "Tis as easy as not to steal, not to tell lies.
Alas! the hand to pilfer, and the tongue to bear false witness, have no constitutional tendency. These are actions indifferent to them. At the first instance of the reformed will, they can be brought off without a murmur. The itching finger is but a figure in speech, and the tongue of the liar can with the same natural delight give forth useful truths, with which it has been accus
tomed to scatter their pernicious contraries. But when a man has commenced sut
O pause, thou sturdy moralist, thou person of stout nerves and a strong head, whose liver is happily untouched, and ere thy gorge riseth at the name which 1 have written, first learn what the thing is; how much of compassion, how much of human allowance, thou may'st virtuously mingle with thy disapprobation. Trample not on the ruins of a man. Exact not, under so terrible a penalty as infamy, a resuscitation from a state of death almost as real as that from which Lazarus rose not but by a miracle.
Begin a reformation, and custom will make it easy. But what if the beginning be dreadful, the first steps not like climbing a mountain but going through fire? what if the whole system must undergo a change violent as that which we conceive of the mutation of form in some insects? what if a process comparable to flaying alive be to be gone through? is the weakness that sinks under such struggles to be confounded with the pertinacity which clings to other vices, which have induced no constitutional necessity, no engagement of the whole victim, body and soul?
I have known one in that state, when he has tried to abstain but for one evening,-though the poisonous potion had long ceased to bring back its first enchantments, though he was sure it would rather deepen his gloom than brighten it, -in the violence of the struggle, and the necessity he has felt of getting rid of the present sensation at any rate, I have known him to scream out, to cry aloud, for the anguish and pain of the strife within him.
Why should I hesitate to declare, that the man of whom I speak is myself? I have no puling apology to make to mankind. I see them all in one way or another deviating from the pure reason. It is to my own nature alone I am accountable for the woe that I have brought upon it.
I believe that there are constitutions, robust heads and iron insides, whom scarce any excesses can burt; whom brandy, (I have seen them drink it like wine,) at all events, whom wine, taken in ever so plentiful measure, can do no worse injury to than just to muddle their faculties, perhaps never very pellucid. On them this discourse is wasted. They would but laugh at a weak brother, who, trying his strength with them, and coming off foiled from the contest, would fain persuade them that such agonistic exercises are dangerous. It is to a very different description of persons I speak. It is to the weak, the nervous; to those who feel the want of some artificial aid to raise their spirits in society to what is no more than the ordinary pitch of all around them without it. This is the secret of our drinking. Such must fly the convivial board in the first instance, if they do not mean to sell themselves for term of life.
Twelve years ago I had completed my six and
twentieth year. I had lived from the period of leaving school to that time pretty much in solitude. My companions were chiefly books, or at most, one or two living ones of my own bookloving and sober stamp. I rose early, went to bed betimes, and the faculties which God had given me, I have reason to think, did not rust in me unused.
About that time I fell in with some companions of a different order. They were men of boisterous spirits, sitters up a-nights, disputants, drunken; yet seemed to have something noble about them. We dealt about the wit, or what passed for it after midnight, jovially. Of the quality called fancy, I certainly possessed a larger share than my companions. Encouraged by their applause, I set up for a profest joker! I, who of all men am least fitted for such an occupation, having, in addition to the greatest difficulty which I experienced at all times of finding words to express my meaning, a natural nervous impediment in my speech!
Reader, if you are gifted with nerves like mine, aspire to any character but that of a wit. When you find a tickling relish upon your tongue disposing you to that sort of conversation, especially if you find a preternatural flow of ideas setting in upon you at the sight of a bottle and fresh glasses, avoid giving way to it, as you would fly your greatest destruction. If you cannot crush the power of fancy, or that within you which you mistake for such, divert it, give it some other play. Write an essay, pen a character or description,but not, as I do now, with tears trickling down your cheeks.
To be an object of compassion to friends, of derision to foes; to be suspected by strangers, stared at by fools; to be esteemed dull when you cannot be witty, to be applauded for witty when you know that you have been dull; to be called upon for the extemporaneous exercise of that faculty which no premeditation can give; to be spurred on to efforts which end in contempt; to be set on to provoke mirth, which procures the procurer hatred; to give pleasure, and be paid with squinting malice; to swallow draughts of life-destroying wine, which are to be distilled into airy breath to tickle vain auditors; to mortgage miserable morrows for nights of madness; to waste whole seas of time upon those who pay it back in little inconsiderable drops of grudging applause, are the wages of buffoonery and death.
me, which has a sure stroke at dissolving all connexions which have no solider fastening than this liquid cement, more kind to me than my own taste or penetration, at length opened my eyes to the supposed qualities of my first friends. No trace of them is left but in the vices which they introduced, and the habits they infixed. In them my friends survive still, and exercise ample retribution for any supposed infidelity that I may have been guilty of towards them.
They were no drinkers, but, one from professional habits, and another from a custom derived from his father, smoked tobacco. The devil could not have devised a more subtle trap to re-take a back sliding penitent. The transition, from gulping down draughts of liquid fire to puffing out innocuous blasts of dry smoke, was so like cheating him. But he is too hard for us when we hope to commute. He beats us at barter; and when we think to set off a new failing against an old infirmity, 'tis odds but he puts the trick upon us of two for one. That, (comparatively,) white devil of tobacco brought with him in the end seven worse than himself.
It were impertinent to carry the reader through all the processes by which, from smoking at first with malt liquor, I took my degrees through thin wines, through stronger wine and water, through small punch, those juggling compositions, which, under the name of mixed liquors, slur a great deal of brandy or other poison under less and less water continually, until they come next to none, and so to none at all. But it is hateful to disclose the secrets of my Tartarus.
I should repel my readers, from a mere incapacity of believing me, were I to tell them what tobacco has been to me, the drudging service which I have paid, the slavery which I have vowed to it. How, when I have resolved to quit it, a feeling, as of ingratitude, has started up; how it has put on personal claims and made the demands of a friend upon me. How the reading of it casually in a book, as where Adams takes his whiff in the chimney-corner of some inn in Joseph Andrews, or Piscator in the Complete Angler breaks his fast upon a morning pipe in that delicate room Piscatoribus Sacrum, has in a moment broken down the resistance of weeks. How a pipe was ever in my midnight path before me, till the vision forced me to realize it,-how then its ascending vapours curled, its fragrance lufled, and the thousand delicious ministerings conversant about it, employing every faculty extracted the sense of pain. How from illuminating it came to darken, from a quick solace it turned to a negative relief, thence to a restlessness and dissatisfaction, thence to a positive misery. How, even now, when the whole secret stands confessed in all its dreadful truth before me, I feel myself linked to it beyond the power of reVocation. Bone of my bone
Persons not accustomed to examine the motives of their actions, to reckon up the countless nails that rivet the chains of habit, or perhaps being bound by none so obdurate as those I have confessed to, may recoil from this as from an overcharged picture. But what short of such a bondage is it, which in spite of protesting friends, a weeping wife, and a reprobating world, chains down many a poor fellow, of no original indisposition to goodness, to his pipe and his pot?
I have seen a print after Corregio in which three female figures are ministering to a man who sits fast bound at the root of a tree. Sensuality is soothing him, Evil Habit is nailing him to a branch, and Repugnance at the same instant of time is applying a snake to his side. In his face is feeble delight, the recollection of past, rather than perception of present pleasures, languid enjoyment of evil with utter imbecility to good, a Sybaritic effeminacy, a submission to bondage, the springs of the will gone down like a broken clock, the sin and the suffering co-instantaneous, or the latter forerunning the former, remorse preceding action-all this represented in one point of time. When I saw this, I admired the wonderful skill of the painter. But when I went away, I wept, because I thought of my own condition.
Of that there is no hope that it should ever change. The waters have gone over me. But out of the black depths, could I be heard, I would cry out to all those who have but set a foot in the perilous flood. Could the youth to whom the flavour of his first wine is delicious as the opening scenes of life, or the entering upon some newly discovered paradise, look into my desolation, and be made to understand what a dreary thing it is when a man shall feel himself going down a precipice with open eyes and a passive will-to see his destruction, and have no power to stop it, and yet to feel it all the way emanating from himself; to perceive all goodness emptied out of him, and yet not to be able to forget a time when it was otherwise, to bear about the piteous spectacle of his own self-ruins :-could he see my fevered eye, feverish with last night's drinking, and feverishly looking for this night's repetition of the folly; could he feel the body of the death out of which I cry hourly with feebler and feebler outcry to be delivered-it were enough to make him dash the sparkling beverage to the earth in all the pride of its mantling temptation; to make him clasp his teeth,
and not undo 'em
To suffer WET DAMNATION to run thro' 'em.
Yea, but, (methinks I hear somebody object,) if sobriety be that fine thing you would have us to understand, if the comforts of a cool brain are to be preferred to that state of heated excitement which you describe and deplore, what hinders in your own instance that you do not return to those ha