Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

" have

you?"

company with these gentlemen, and desired to be informed in what manner he had contrived to make their acquaintance; the whole particulars of which being related, afforded the Colonel considerable amusement, and he expressed a wish to know the gentleman of the sword whose passion pour les douceurs had brought him into such close communion with his own valet—a desire somewhat embarrassing to the latter, as he had carefully concealed his métier from his grateful and generous

friends. By a little evasion and some delay he hoped to escape the ordeal to which the introduction of his master to these gentlemen would subject him. Days passed on for a time quite happily, and he began to hope the circumstance was forgotten, when he accidentally stumbled upon the Colonel at the theatre, whither he had gone one evening with three French officers to witness the inimitable acting of Mademoiselle Mars, who was, what our English players term, starring it in the provinces.

Colonel M- passed and saluted his servant with a profound bow, that produced in the gentleman of the garderobe the utmost embarrassment. At his accustomed hour the Colonel summoned his tire-man, and, with well-affected humility, begged to ask when he was to have the honour of being made known to his military friends?

After an awful pause, the poor valet mustered courage to state, in humble and submissive tones, that he felt some difficulty upon this point, as the French gentlemen were not aware that he was a servant.

“ You have then passed yourself off as a gentleman,” said the Colonel,

“Not exactly, Sir,” meekly replied he; “ but they took me for one, Sir, and I didn't like to tell them as I wasn't”-an acknowledgment which pleased the master, who was now more desirous than ever to see them, and required his man to devise some plan to effect this object.

The bewildered valet at length very respectfully murmured a hope that his master would have the kindness to excuse and forgive the liberty he was about to take, but “it can only be done, Sir," said he,“ condescending to be introduced as my friend ; I am certain you will then have a kind and hearty reception.”

Very well, be it so, and the earlier the better," answered the Colonel. These preliminaries settled, our hero marched forthwith to the Caserne, saw the officers, and stated his desire to introduce an English Colonel to them, his friend, who wished to make their acquaintance. Colonel M was presented, and received with great courtesy; an invitation to dine was given and accepted upon the instant; and the latter has often been heard to declare that he never passed a more agreeable evening, and complimented his valet upon the modest

perfect propriety of his behaviour, which endeared him in so singular a manner to the Gallic soldiers, who declared their ami Anglois was a

garçon bien aimable, et fort gentil.

The allied army, in process of time, quitted France, and returned to England, where a far different destiny awaited this good-natured“ gentleman's gentleman.” He became enamoured of, and joined his person and fortunes to those of, a pretty lady's maid ; quitted service, and was established, partly by the gains each had made and saved during their servitude, and partly by the kind assistance of the Colonel, in a respeetable public-house at the west end of the town, where he continued for some years in a prosperous condition; other speculations and bad debts

by your

[ocr errors]

ease and

[ocr errors]

زو

66

ner

plunged him into difficulties, in the midst of which his kind and amiable patron was called to "that bourn from whence no traveller returns.' His misfortunes accumulated, and ultimately drove him into “ Barrett's Hotel,” where he remained until Mr. Commissioner Law was kind enough to order his discharge, after a due purgation through the Insolvent Court; and he is now, I hope, in a fair way of regaining that position in life, which, as a respectable and well-conducted tradesman, he most justly merits. I have great pleasure in paying this tribute to one who was obliging, courteous, and unassuming in his manners, and greatly esteemed by all his fellow-“ knights." During his sojourn, the good-humoured smiles of his wife, and the dark, expressive, Gulnare eyes of a very pretty daughter, cheered and imparted an interest to many of the dreary hours of wretchedness peculiar to “ Barrett's Hotel,” that I shall ever remember with feelings of pleasure; but as the parent took flight, a bright constellation disappeared from our hemisphere.

We had another publican at the same table, but of a totally different class to the one whom I have just introduced. This latter was a sin

of no ordinary degree; he recounted his misdeeds with the most shameless effrontery, and boasted with savage delight of the numberless dupes he had made during a lengthened experience in iniquity. Of three butts of beer he declared he invariably made four ; that of common porter, and a little“ intermediate ale,” he manufactured excellent stout; that whenever, as not unfrequently happened, he received one of bad porter, he kept it a few days, drew off a certain portion of it, which he mixed with other liquor, then filled the cask with small beer,” notified the brewers of its infamous quality, and desired them to fetch it away: thus he cheated sellers and buyers, and gloried in the tricks he played those great monopolizing manufacturers of malt, quassia, and treacle, denominated

brewers," which thus enabled him to undersell and ruin his more honest neighbours in the trade. To the small, still voice of conscience, this vender of “heavy” had long since turned a deaf ear; his rule and practice in obtaining money being in accordance with those of Iago in his advice to Rodrigo—“ Put money in thy purse; get it honestly if thou canst, but put money in thy purse." This barbarian was an original in his way; the unblushing insolence and sarcastic humour with which he related his abominable practices excited mingled feelings of scorn and astonishment in the mind of the listener.

My third associate, a very demon in human shape, requires more than an ordinary pen to describe. Never, in all my previous eventful life, (and I have met with some strange creatures,) had I been placed in contact with such a monster of a man! To fulfil the command of loving such a being as one's own dear self was an utter impossibility! Nature herself, one would imagine, had taken peculiar pains to manufacture for him a countenance that could but inspire his fellows with sentiments of hatred! Judge, readers, for yourselves. To a face indelibly stamped in deep cavities, by a disease called the small-pox, and a complexion in which might be traced all the “ rainbow's varied hues," one blind eye, the other askant, resembling in colour and appearance a pale, dim chrysolite, low, deeply-wrinkled forehead, small, brokenbridged, turned-up nose, a spacious and almost toothless mouth, and say if I am not right in making the dame herself responsible for the feelings this man's appearance at first sight created in all beholders, and which,

[ocr errors]

near the

upon an acquaintance, increased to the greatest possible height. Seated

person to whom I was first introduced, this fiend-like looking man, who was a bargeman, in the slang peculiar to the “gentles” of his class, accosted me with

“ I say, my covey, you ar no bisness up theereere ve be all ekals, you know, and no man mun show no hairs ere; thof you may appear to ave a decent coat on yer back, I'll vager a pot I can show more money nor any on you."

Regarding the wretch with uncontrollable contempt, and shrinking from any further communion with one towards whom I felt such unconquerable disgust, I resigned my seat forthwith, and placed myself at the bottom of the table.

This man kept the ward in an everlasting uproar from his constant habits of thieving, and contrived to make a good living out of the articles he was in the daily habit of abstracting from others; and although such offences are punishable by heavy fines, few persons had sufficient nerve to encounter the torrents of abuse with which they were certain of being assailed if they ventured to bring him to the bar of justice, and with which he was charged to overflowing. He defied all rules, and triumphed over all authority. Whilst upon delinquents less turbulent, and infinitely less flagrant, the vials of wrath were poured to the very dregs, this hated brute escaped unpunished. What rejoicings took place when he quitted the “ hotel!”

Loud shouts issuing one morning from the court-yard, I, amongst others, was attracted to that part of it allotted to the game of " fives.” Two persons upon a side were playing for a leg of mutton and a gallon of beer; the winners gaining by one ball only, which was disputed, the matter was referred to an umpire, whose decision in their favour called forth these noisy manifestations of approval. The beaten party, haunted by the wandering ghost of a sheep's "understanding," quitted the ground, for that day, somewhat crest-fallen, but recovered upon the following morning, when they were declared conquerors for the beverage, victory being proclaimed by repeated crowings from a strange little Hibernian, yclept “ Bantam,” whose perfect imitations of the shrill sounds of

bright chanticleer” would have startled St. Peter himself had he been within hearing.

“Hollo, you wagabone of a tailor, what do you mane by kicking up sich a rumpuss here?” cried a toothless old fellow, as he was munching bacon and bread, to another of diminutive stature, but most important air, and some years younger than himself. “ You a’nt fit to be amongst respectable gentlemen, you concated old fool-you are benathe my notice. Mr. Chairman, I insist upon that old vilin's being fined.”

The self-important little Schạeider (for he was just five feet two inches, and one of those creatures of whom, it is said, nine are required to form a man) rose, with an air of tragi-comic solemnity, displayed his bald head, pursed-up mouth, vicious eyes, a brow upon which sat unutterable rage, and thus began--". Mr. Chairman, I am a man of sinse, extraordinary, refined sinse, Sir; and am not to be spoke to, or insulted by sich as he, mire and dirt!” looking scornfully at the last speaker. “ Hould your blackguard tongue-keep in your dirty wagger, I'll hae none on't, you mane, thieving, hould publican.”

At this, the old fellow with the bacon taking instantaneous fire, rose,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

flung away his commestibles, with his clenched fist violently thumped the table, and in a voice of thunder roared

“ Mr. Chairman, that old, obstropolous, sneaking, tenth-part of an Irishman“ Order, order!" from the chair, interrupting him.

Well, then, that MʻTwiss-ah! you may grin at me, I don't care for you nor a hundred sich," addressing the little tailor, who was making grimaces at him ; “I beg pardon, Mr. Chairman, but I say as how I can prove the waggabone to be a spy, an informer, a mischief-maker, a common nuisance, and we shall not never be unianimous any more, so long as the.willin's amongst us; I propose, therefore, that he shall be fined, and well pumped upon as a spy."

This proposition being seconded, and unanimously agreed to by the whole ward, the offender was declared fined in the amount of five shillings, to be levied forthwith. The uproar in some degree subsiding, at the sound of the chairman's hammer, inflated with anger, his nose pointed sharp as one of his own ne es, the man of shreds raised himself to his highest possible altitude, made a profound bow to the chair, and thus broke silence

“Mr. Chairman, I defy ye all: you, your committee, and all the dirty members of the ward may go to the d~). Am I to be insulted and bearded by a sit of scondrels of insolvents ? do I care for any of ye ?ye trumpery, paltry poltroons! ye robbers of children, creditors, and churches! I can buy all o'ye; I trate ye with contimpt, (spitting violently upon the floor,) ye mane mongrels! Mr. Chairman, I am a man of sinse! a man of extinded, beautiful sinse, Sir! of refined iccellence, Sir! "If I was inclined to stoop to common language, Sir, I would till that ould sinner—that ould, murdering sojer-that ould, poisoning beerdrugger—that he's but, no, (drawing up with great dignity,) I will not damane myself so low; but I tell you, Sir, that he's a horrid, sanguinary, violator of truth. You think to fine me, do you? I till you what, I'll see ye all particularly and eternally well roasted and burnt before ye'll get anything from Mr. Patrick M'Twist.'

The man of cabbage, thus wrought into a tremendous passion, half mad with frenzy, mounted one of the tables, and sawing the air in most undignified rage, invoked the wrath of his Satanic majesty upon the whole party. This circumstance created so much uproar, that the chairman's voice and call for order were overwhelmed, the hammer lost its effect, and grim disorder, with all its concomitant blackguardisms, reared its head in frightful glory. Blows succeeding this oration, the members rose, en masse, and carrying off this reptile of his own idolatry, forcibly expelled him then, and for ever, from the ward ; to preserve order in which, and to prevent breaches of King William's peace in his hotel, Mr. Barrett considered it prudent to place this snarling snip in another apartment. He was of a most quarrelsome disposition, and the general impression against him was that he endeavoured to curry favour with the governor by a system of espionage over his brother knights. He frequently made application to be permitted to return to his old ward, but the feelings of the members being so entirely against him, the governor did not consider it prudent to grant his request.

A half worn-out dandy, one Sunday morning, accosted a May-pole young gentleman from the land of “ Green Erin,” and in a languishing tone inquired

June.--VOL. XLI. NO. CLXII.

M

[ocr errors]

Ah! my

“ O'Flanaghan, are you going to chapel to-day?"

“ Is it me you mane?” said Pat; “ why, sure, and I am bred and born a Catholic, and did you ever hear of a good ‘Roman' going to a Protestant conventicle? Sure, and your own silf's not going to be bothered in that place, any how?”

I cannot absent myself,” replied dandy with a sigh, “ although I sho not be very sorry if Mr. Carver did not preach quite so long ; with him it is sermon versus patience: and I call him the time-borer,' because he invariably lodges his watch by his side when he ascends the pulpit, which is rather good for me, isn't it? he! he! he!" This question was succeeded by a loud, unmeaning laugh.

Pooh, pooh !” replied Flan; “ you mustn't go, I want you, I can't spare you." After a pause and a sigh the other answered dear friend, you are fortunate in being a

being a Catholic ; I almost wish I had been one too, as I could then have received my weekly allowance of beef without being compelled to show myself every Sunday at the chapel.* "

“ Faith, now," quoth the Hibernian," and do they make you, a gintleman, do that same thing ?”

“ It is a duty,” drawled out the other,“ to which all are compelled to submit who would feed; no sermon, no beef.”

“ By Jasus, and that's droll now,” replied Mr. O'Flannaghan. “So a poor prisoner can't get no mate for his hungry maw until he gits his cirtificate that he's been to church? That's very amusing, by holy St. Patrick! This same religious bribery wants reform."

Ah !" said dandy, “ this is only one of the thousand vexations to which persons like you and I, Flan, are perpetually doomed in this dreadful den. What a place for gentlemen! It is a little consolation to know that none of the plebeians with whom one is condemned to herd so much beneath us, can possibly be aware of the rank of those who condescend to associate with them, and therefore one may hope never to be appalled by the sight of any of their visages hereafter. For my part, I am extremely particular in everything, but in my dress most especially upon a Sunday, when I doff my dressing-gown and seal-skin cap for a coat and hat, in order that strangers coming in may suppose me to be a visiter. Don't you give me credit for this contrivance, eh?”

By my soul,” said Erin's own boy," and it's one that no person but your swate darling self would have thought of. Now, for me,

I care for nobody, not I, be he as big as Goliah hinself; haven't I got the grate liberator, the mimber of Parliament for all Ireland, for my uncle? Why need I care ?"

The chapel-bell (summoning the gentle dandy to his devotions and his beef) abruptly broke the dialogue.

* Two pounds of coarse beef are served to each prisoner who can produce a voucher for his attendance at chapel upon the previous Sunday. Whether this sort of religious fraud be wise or politic, I will leave to the decision of others, tending,

80 eminently does, to the growth of hypocrisy, the attendants' thoughts being generally more occupied in speculations upon the probable chances of getting either a piece of lean or fat meat, according to their respective tastes, upon the succeeding Wednesday, and the best method of making it sufficiently tender for mastication,

as

« AnteriorContinuar »