« PreviousContinue »
risk of fashionable vapours at least. It may not perhaps be universally known that sturdy Jonathan has been bit by the mania of fashion, and actually talks of London with the knowing air of the initiated. How they succeed in a paltry business which they should never attempt, this extract may serve as an example. The little mistake above may also serve as a warning to English people who pretend a familiarity with the manners and habits of such foreign nations as are supposed to be quotable. The practice of introducing scraps of a foreign tongue in writing is in itself bad taste even correctly executed, which is rare, for generally speaking these phrases are introduced in a style which sends a cachinnatory movement from Calais to Marseilles. By way of the very latest illustration, we may mention that one of the heroines of The Fair of Mayfair declares that she is embêtée-now this is a very pretty slang word, but the accidental use of it by an awkward Parisian pretender, in one of the novels of the inimitable Paul de Kock, is represented as creating a singular sensation of disgust among a party of ladies who hear it. Now if the term prove a male Frenchman fit for the shop or the stable, we opine that it does not become a Fair of Mayfair.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES.-It may be perceived that most persons are looking abroad for signs of the times-some find them in William the Fourth turned upside down over a public house, or in the Queen's health drunk in funereal silence; but these are not signs, but meteors; they are transient and will pass away shortly, even before the originals and the cry which screams itself hoarse in their disfavour. A much more solid sign of the tendency of the metropolitan times we hold to be an advertisement which daily meets our eye in the It is the advertisement of a madhouse, alias a retreat, newspapers. "at which a clergyman of the established church is engaged to perform divine service every Sunday." When this can be held out as an inducement by an exceedingly shrewd advertiser, it says more for the disposition to piety among what are called respectable, that is, wealthy people, than a volume of ordinary signs. To pray in the presence of and in conjunction with the insane is a mockery: but the mere mockery is supposed of power to bring "grist to the mill."
"These lay sisters of charity are the comfort and salvation of so many families, that every home appears to us imperfect which has not the good fortune to have one of them appended to it."-Edinburgh Review, No. 109.
This is a most amiable view of the state of single blessedness: the reflection on its truth may be a consolation to a class most undeservedly subject to the sneers of society. Instead of pointing out the peculiarities of old maids as a fair game, it would be praiseworthy if some of the more eminent writers of fiction, who in fact exercise more influence on popular morality and popular sentiment than any other class of instructors, would put these "lay sisters of charity" in their true light. Their faults are chiefly the necessary consequences of the sentiments entertained respecting them. As long as it is a disgrace for a female not to be married, it is natural that those who possess any love of approbation or self-esteem-and who does not ?— should be anxious to impress upon their acquaintance, that it has
been a matter of choice, and not for want of conquests. Precision and fidgetiness are also charges made usually by the slatternly and the disorderly. A love of scandal and tittle-tattle, is also a part of their bad character unluckily shared by all their sex who have time on their hands and few intellectual pursuits. It is a charge, however, which does not sound well in the mouths of the readers of Sunday newspapers. It is remarkable that many of our women of genius have been, or are of the order of "lay sisters of charity," such as Miss Hannah More, Miss Bailie, Miss Bowles, Miss Bowdler, and others far too numerous to mention.
MRS. COMFORT AND THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON.-Police reports have certainly greatly declined in richness since the extinction of that curious, shaggy, picturesque remnant of another order of society-the watchman, who has been an esteemed butt from the time of Shakspeare downwards. This is not a matter to be regretted: except as causing a failure in the supply of an amusement of a very questionable character. There is a great deal to be said against the publication, or even the publicity of proceedings in the very first instance; and though it certainly does contribute often to the production of evidence, it perhaps still oftener acts as a decided bar in the minds of the mass of quiet people against taking any steps whatever against crime. When in addition to the publication of their names in every quarter of the kingdom next day, there was a chance of being held up to ridicule and made to stand in the situation of a caricature instead of a complainant, the reluctance was naturally increased. Some parties are callous to such exposures, and in fact from their position never know of them. The cases also sometimes justify publicity. When a man is brought up, for instance, by his wife for attempting to cut her throat, we do not see that there is any reason for being lenient, though the culprit may, as he sometimes does, plead aggravation. A story of this kind does not often present points of humour, yet, in the course of the month, from the droll circumstance of the complainant Mrs. Comfort, much to the surprise of the magistrate, laying all the blame to the Duke of Wellington, a good deal of amusement was elicited from a charge of murder.
"The Magistrate asked her what cause she assigned for her husband's behaviour towards her?'
'Mrs. Comfort.-I lay it all to that Duke of Wellington: he will be the rnin of him.'
'The Magistrate inquired what the Duke of Wellington had to do with her husband?'
'Mrs. Comfort.-More the misfortune for me, my old man is never easy except when he is in company at that blackguard Duke of Wellington's. There he is morning, noon, and night, and when he is away he is dreaming of that cursed Duke of Wellington.'
'Magistrate. My good woman, I don't understand you rightly. What do you mean by saying that you attribute your husband's bad treatment of you to the Duke of Wellington? Explain yourself. I suppose your old man, as you call him, would not spend so much of his time at his Grace's, unless he were occupied in some capacity about the stables, or elsewhere.'
'Mrs. Comfort.-About the stables, your Worship! He has no employment in the stables-I wish he had; he is never out of the tap room.'
"Magistrate.-Oh, I understand you now; then your husband it appears, is fond of the ale-house.'
'Mrs. Comfort.-He is, in truth, Sir.'.
Magistrate.--And the house he frequents is called the Duke of Wellington?' 'Mrs. Comfort answered in the affirmative, and said, that if she could only sever the connexion between her husband and the Duke of Wellington, she knew she should be happy once more. She never knew what a day's pleasure was since her old man associated at the Duke's.'"
At this moment it so happened that all the Comforts in the country were laying all the blame of the hubbub then existing at the door of the unfortunate Duke of Wellington; and the coincidence was, as the newspapers say, curious. Some of these penny-a-line men, as they are called, are ingenious and witty; their forte is the droll-the power of broad humour. Nothing of this sort is done on the Continent: when in the French papers a little penny-a-line paragraph is got up, its characteristic is usually sentiment. When done, they are always well done-that is, completely, and with an air of finish. Take for instance this truly French anecdote of the Cholerait bears every mark of its recent importation:
"A person kept a lodging-house, intrusting the care of attendance, as is the custom in Paris, to a man who waits upon all the tenants. About a fortnight after the Cholera had broken out, the porter brought the key of the house to his employer, and told him it was empty. It had been occupied by ten lodgers from different parts of the world, every individual of whom had been cut off by the malady-not one was left to transmit the tale to his distant relatives!"
DEALERS IN POISON.-An unfortunate Captain Burdett has fallen a victim, at Brighton, to the carelessness of a maker-up of medicines. Poison, remedies, applications internal and external, are all mixed up and laid down on a shop counter, in that order termed by the lovers of arrangement "higgledy-piggledy," and thus dispensed with the air of nonchalance which may be observed in a dispenser of colonial produce in a grocer's shop. Amidst all the enormities of detail characterizing the manners and customs of this free country, there are none more abominable than the regulations governing the making-up of medicines. Every body knows that the same prescription made up at different shops is rarely the same medicament, in taste, colour, or effect. The physician ponders nicely upon proportion, feels the pulse again, and adds a grain; calls into play all the resources of art and education, and at length finishes a document on which, perhaps, rest the hopes of a family-all to be overturned by an ignorant apothecary's boy behind a counter, flirting with maid-servants, or in the interim of beating up or weighing out some delicate appliance which is to soothe an ulcerated mesenteric gland, or stimulate a torpid secretion of the pancreas-ladling out a pound of Æthiop's mineral to a groom for his horses, or an ounce of arsenic to a farmer for his rats. An apothecary in bad credit with his wholesale house in town is supplied with bad drugs; and they who do not get better out of his shop, are little aware that the cause lies in the dishonouring of a repeatedly renewed bill. The wholesale houses themselves vary most considerably, and the chemists who supply them frequently issue death or disease by the cart-load, in consequence of an experiment made by one of the ingenious partners, by which he hopes to bring out some wholesale drug at a reduced rate. From undoubted authority, we learn, that in the course of one individual's experience (a physician) in hav
ing medicine chests fitted up by eminent houses in London, it has occurred thrice that poison was substituted instead of some popular medicament. Apprenticeship is all very well in some trades, but it ought to be differently managed in the business of making-up (as it is called) prescriptions. The shoemaker or tailor's apprentice may blunder and pinch a toe or a shoulder, but the apothecary's boy blunders in a manner that admits of no remedy. While he is dreaming of Vauxhall, or of his master's daughter, he puts the label of a saline draught on a liniment of tar, and sends that intended for an old woman's hand into the stomach of a Captain in the Navy. In the case we are alluding to, which has just occurred at Brighton, a verdict of manslaughter has been brought in against the youth who sent in oil of tar instead of decoction of senna, and caused the gentleman to die, while the old lady was rubbing her hand with senna tea, in all faith: but where was the master all this time who reaped the profits? His business was done by a helper and a boy with a basket (we never see these boys and their covered basket, full of papered humbugs, without a shudder), while he, probably, was regaling himself in the interior of his mansion, or gossiping on the Steyne. The verdict should in all cases be against the master of the shop wherever the poison issues, and for which he is paid. FOREIGN DRAMA IN LONDON.-A Spanish play and afterpiece have been performed at the Coburg Theatre by Spaniards. We have now in London a French, an Italian, and a German theatre: the two last, however, being confined to operas. It would be a very creditable circumstance to the metropolis if now a Spanish one could be established, not only because it would be of essential service to numerous deserving men, who are suffering all the pains of poverty in exile, but because it would tend to make London what it ought to be and might be-a true University. The Italian and Spanish political emigrants have been chiefly compelled to resort to instruction for a livelihood, but how much might they not have done for the student of the language and the lover of their literature, by getting up dramatic representations, and by bringing successively before us the chefs-d'œuvre of their ample repertories! No more delightful mode of taking (or even of giving) a lesson in language or poetry could well be imagined; and we feel certain, that had it been properly made known and respectably conducted, it would have been well supported. What a useful and indeed noble institution would be a theatre, in this building age, adapted solely for the performance of the dramas of the different nations of Europe! how worthy of a great capital! how appropriate to London, the resort of crowds from every corner of the world! and what an aid to the students of foreign literature, the lovers of poetry, and even the élèves of commerce or diplomacy! The two London Universities ought to patronize such a scheme. The expense of the building would not be great, for such a theatre should necessarily be small; and as the three languages, of German, Italian, and Spanish, could each have two nights in the week, three different sets of subscribers would contribute to its maintenance. There would be no fear of not finding performers, for as the business would altogether assume an amateur character, the difficulty would probably lie in the selection. During the residence of the Italian and Spanish emigrants in this country, there have been among them some of their
best modern authors, and of these, one who was the tragic writer of the highest reputation in Madrid at the destruction of the Cortesthe grand crime of the Bourbons, for which they are doing penance at Holyrood.
A theatre such as we design, might be, in the morning, employed as a lecture or concert-room, and occasionally devoted to Improvisatori, such as those inspired men, Sgricci and Pistrucci, or to the reading of original compositions, whether in verse or prose.
The characteristic of such an institution should be excessive cheapness. Our theatrical prices are enormous: partly rendered necessary by high salaries to actors, expensive decorations, and the accumulation of arrears arising from losses, extravagant lawsuits, and other old claims. There would be here, in this new scheme, which should be more like an academy than a play-house, no demands of the kind: the costumes would be of the simplest kind, and as few scenes would be necessary as in the time of Shakspeare and the Globe and Bull Theatres.
Let one of the benevolent capitalists take this plan in hand without view to profit, and he will prove himself a benefactor on a large scale, and his name may be recorded among those who have really contributed to the diffusion of knowledge and the spread of intellectual cultivation.
The Lion's Mouth.
"ALIENA NEGOTIA CENTUM."-Horat.
Conservative Reform; being the Outlines of a Counterplan enclosed in a Letter to Lord Lyndhurst. By Horace Twiss, Esq. one of His Majesty's Counsel. London, 1832.
This pamphlet had the singular fortune to be praised simultaneously by The Times and John Bull; and coming from an ex-member of the Duke of Wellington's government, really merited attention on its first appearance, on acconnt of the admissions contained in it, as well as of the ability displayed. We had consequently prepared a notice, which a press of other matter compelled us to postpone; and events have since occurred which entirely supersede the necessity of recurring to it. The time is certainly gone by for counterplans, and the nation's mind is now thoroughly made up as to the true meaning of Conservative Reform. We are therefore obliged to lay Mr. Twiss's scheme, with all the other schemes of his party, upon the shelf.
We have received a plan for the establishment of "A Literary Benevolent Institution," to which our earliest attention shall be given.
The Poetical Sketch of a Fire in London will be inserted early.