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My friend, the old-clothes’-man, whose agonies over the hat have led to this rambling disquisition, has, I very much fear, by a too eager pursuit of small profits, disturbed the equanimity of a mind that ought to be easy and happy. “Had I stood out,” he thinks, “I might have had the hat for threepence,' and he doubts whether, having given fourpence for it, he will ever get back his money. My good Shadrach, if you go through life passionately deploring the irrevocable, and allow yesterday's transactions to embitter the cheerfulness of to-day and to-morrow as lief walk down to the Seine, souse in, hats, body, clothes-bag and all, and put an end to your sorrow and sordid cares.
Before and since Mr. Franklin wrote his pretty apologue of the Whistle have we not all made bargains of which we repented, and coveted and acquired objects for which we have paid too dearly! Who has not purchased his hat in some market or other? There is General M•Clellan's cocked hat for example: I dare say he was eager enough to wear it, and he has learned that it is by no means cheerful wear.
There were the military beavers of Messeigneurs of Orleans : * they wore them gallantly in the face of battle ; but I suspect they were glad enough to pitch them into the James River and come home in mufti. Ah, mes amis ! à chacun son schakot ! I was looking at a bishop the other day, and thinking, "My right reverend lord, that broad-brim and rosette must bind your great broad forehead very tightly, and give you many a headache. A good easy wideawake were better for you, and I would like to see that honest face with a cutty-pipe in the middle of it.” There is my Lord Mayor. My once dear lord, my kind friend, when your two years' reign was over, did not you jump for joy and fling your chapeau-bras out of window: and hasn't that hat cost you a pretty bit of money? There, in a splendid travelling chariot, in the sweetest bonnet, all trimmed with orangeblossoms and Chantilly lace, sits my Lady Rosa, with old Lord Snowden by her side. Ah, Rosa ! what a price have you paid for that hat which you wear; and is your ladyship’s coronet not purchased too dear! Enough of hats. Sir, or Madam, I take off mine, and salute you with profound respect.
* Two cadets of the House of Orleans who served as Volunteers under General M‘Clellan in his campaign against Richmond.
A LETTER TO SOME COUNTRY COUSINS.
DEAR Cousins, — Be pleased to receive herewith a packet of Mayall's photographs and copies of Illustrated News, Illustrated Times, London Review, Queen, and Observer, each containing an account of the notable festivities of the past week. If, besides these remembrances of home, you have a mind to read a letter from an old friend, behold here it is. When I was at school, having left my parents in India, a good-natured captain or colonel would come sometimes and see us Indian boys, and talk to us about papa and mamma, and give us coins of the realm, and write to our parents, and say, “I drove over yesterday and saw Tommy at Dr. Birch's. I took him to the - George,' and gave him a dinner. His appetite is fine. He states that he is readingCornelius Nepos,' with which he is much interested. His masters report,” &c. And though Dr. Birch wrote by the same mail a longer, fuller, and official statement, I have no doubt the distant parents preferred the friend's letter, with its artless, possibly ungrammatical, account of their little darling.
I have seen the young heir of Britain. These eyes have beheld him and his bride, on Saturday in Pall Mall, and on Tuesday in the nave of St. George's Chapel at Windsor, when the young Princess Alexandra of Denmark passed by with her blooming procession of bridesmaids; and half an hour later, when the Princess of Wales came forth from the chapel, her husband by her side robed in the purple mantle of the famous Order which his forefather established here five hundred years ago. We were to see her yet once again, when her open carriage passed out of the Castle gate to the station of the near railway which was to convey her to Southampton.
Since womankind existed, has any woman ever had such a greeting? At ten hours' distance, there is a city far more magnificent than ours. With every respect for Kensington turnpike, I own that the Arc de l'Etoile at Paris is a much finer
* This paper, it is almost needless to say, was written just after the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales in March, 1863.
entrance to an imperial capital. In our black, orderless, zigzag streets, we can show nothing to compare with the magnificent array of the Rue de Rivoli, that enormous regiment of stone stretching for five miles and presenting arms before the Tuileries. Think of the late Fleet Prison and Waithman's Obelisk, and of the Place de la Concorde and the Luxor Stone ! finest site in Europe," as Trafalgar Square has been called by some obstinate British optimist, is disfigured by trophies, fountains, columns, and statues so puerile, disorderly, and hideous that a lover of the arts must hang the head of shame as he passes, to see our dear old queen city arraying herself so absurdly ; but when all is said and done, we can show one or two of the greatest sights in the world. I doubt if any Roman festival was as vast or striking as the Derby day, or if any Imperial triumph could show such a prodigious muster of faithful people as our young Princess saw on Saturday, when the nation turned out to greet her. The calculators are squabbling about the numbers of hundreds of thousands, of millions, who came forth to see her and bid her welcome. Imagine beacons flaming, rockets blazing, yards manned, ships and forts saluting with their thunder, every steamer and vessel, every town and village from Ramsgate to Gravesend, swarming with happy gratulation ; young girls with flowers, scattering roses before her; staid citizens and aldermen pushing and squeezing and panting to make the speech, and bow the knee, and bid her welcome! Who is this who is honored with such a prodigious triumph, and received with a welcome so astonishing? A year ago we had never heard of her.
I think about her pedigree and family not a few of us are in the dark still, and I own,
for my part, to be much puzzled by the allusions of newspaper genealogists and bards and skalds to Vikings, Berserkers, and so forth. But it would be interesting to know how many hundreds of thousands of photographs of the fair bright face have by this time made it beloved and familiar in British homes. Think of all the quiet country nooks from Land's End to Caithness, where kind eyes have glanced at it. The farmer brings it home from market; the curate from his visit to the Cathedral town; the rustic folk peer at it in the little village shop-window; the squire's children gaze on it round the drawing-room table : : every eye that beholds it looks tenderly on its bright beauty and sweet artless grace, and young and old pray God bless her. We have an elderly friend, (a certain Goody Twoshoes,) who inhabits, with many other old ladies, the Union
House of the parish of St. Lazarus in Soho. One of your cousins from this house went to see her, and found Goody and her companion crones all in a flutter of excitement about the marriage. The whitewashed walls of their bleak dormitory were ornamented with prints out of the illustrated journals, and hung with festoons and true-lovers' knots of tape and colored paper; and the old bodies had had a good dinner, and the old tongues were chirping and clacking away, all eager, interested, sympathizing; and one very elderly and rheumatic Goody, who is obliged to keep her bed, (and has, I trust, an exaggerated idea of the cares attending on royalty,) said, ** Pore thing, pore thing! I pity her.” Yes, even in that dim place there was a little brightness and a quavering huzza, a contribution of a mite subscribed by those dozen poor old widows to the treasure of loyalty with which the nation endows the Prince's bride.
Three hundred years ago, when our dread Sovereign Lady Elizabeth came to take possession of her realm and capital city, Holingshed, if you please ( whose pleasing history of course you carry about with you), relates in his fourth volume folio, that
“At hir entring the citie, she was of the people received maruellous intierlie, as appeared by the assemblies, praiers, welcommings, cries, and all other signes which argued a woonderfull earnest loue : " and at various halting-places on the royal progress children habited like angels appeared out of allegoric edifices and spoke verses to lrer
“Welcome, 0 Queen, as much as heart can think,
Welcome again, as much as tongue can tell,
God thee preserve, we pray, and wish thee ever well !”
Our new Princess, you may be sure, has also had her Alexandrines, and many minstrels have gone before her singing her praises. Mr. Tupper, who begins in very great force and strength, and who proposes to give her no less than eight hundred thousand welcomes in the first twenty lines of his ode, is not satisfied with this most liberal amount of acclamation, but proposes at the end of his poem a still more magnificent subscription. Thus we begin, " A hundred thousand welcomes, a hundred thousand welcomes.” (In my copy the figures are in the well-known Arabic numerals, but let us have the numbers literally accurate :)
" A hundred thousand welcomes !
And a hundred thousand more!
And let the cannons roar
The joy-stunned city o'er.
And let the people rhyme it
From every man's heart's core,
This contribution, in twenty not long lines, of 900,000 (say nine hundred thousand) welcomes is handsome indeed ; and shows that when our bard is inclined to be liberal, he does not look to the cost. But what is a sum of 900,000 to his further proposal ? " () let all these declare it,
Lay to thine heart, conned o'er and o’er, Let miles of shouting swear it,
In future years remembered well, In all the years of yore,
The magic fervor of this spell Unparalleled before!
That shakes the land from shore to shore, And thou, most welcome Wand'rer And makes all hearts and eyes brim o'er; Across the Northern Water,
Our hundred thousand welcomes, Our England's ALEXANDRA,
Our fifty million welcomes, Our dear adopted daughter - And a hundred million more! "
Here we have, besides the most liberal previous subscription, a further call on the public for no less than one hundred and fifty million one hundred thousand welcomes for her Royal Highness. How much is this per head for all of us in the three kingdoms? Not above five welcomes apiece, and I am sure many of us have given more than five hurrahs to the fair young Princess.
Each man sings according to his voice, and gives in proportion to his means. The guns at Sheerness - from their adamantine lips” (which had spoken in quarrelsome old times a very different language,) roared a hundred thundering welcomes to the fair Dane. The maidens of England strewed roses before her feet at Gravesend when she landed. Mr. Tupper, with the million and odd welcomes, may be compared to the thundering fleet; Mr. Chorley's song, to the flowerets scattered on her Royal Highness's happy and carpeted path :
“Blessings on that fair face!
Safe on the shore
Stranger no more.
Keep sorrow far!
Dear Northern Star!”