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young Taglioni, and Pauline Leroux, and a host more! One much-admired being of those days I confess I never cared for, and that was the chief male dancer - a very important personage then, with a bare neck, bare arms, a tunic, and a hat and feathers, who used to divide the applause with the ladies, and who has now sunk down a trap-door for ever. And this frank admission ought to show that I am not your mere twaddling laudator temporis acti — your old fogy who can see no good except in his own time.
They say that claret is better now-a-days, and cookery much improved since the days of my monarch — of George IV. Pastry Cookery is certainly not so good. I have often eaten half a crown's worth (including, I trust, ginger-beer) at our school pastry-cook's, and that is a proof that the pastry must have been very good, for could I do as much now? I passed by the pastry-cook's shop lately, having occasion to visit my old school. It looked a very dingy old baker's; misfortunes may have come over him
those penny tarts certainly did not look so nice as I remember them: but he may have grown careless as he has grown old (I should judge him to be now about ninety-six years of age), and his hand may have lost its cunning.
Not that we were not great epicures. I remember how we constantly grumbled at the quantity of the food in our master's house which on my conscience I believe was excellent and plentiful — and how we tried once or twice to eat him out of house and home. At the pastry-cook's we may have over-eaten ourselves (I have admitted half a crown's worth for my own part, but I don't like to mention the real figure for fear of perverting the present generation of boys by my monstrous confession) we may have eaten too much, I say. We did ; but what then? The school apothecary was sent for: a couple of small globules at night, a trifling preparation of senna in the morning, and we had not to go to school, so that the draught was an actual pleasure.
For our amusements, besides the games in vogue, which were pretty much in old times as they are now (except cricket, par exemple - and I wish the present youth joy of their bowling, and suppose Armstrong and Whitworth will bowl at them with light field-pieces next), there were novels — ah! I trouble you to find such novels in the present day! O Scottish Chiefs, didn't we weep over you! O Mysteries of Udolpho, didn't I and Briggs Minor draw pictures out of you, as I have said? Efforts, feeble indeed, but still giving pleasure to us and our friends. “I say, old boy, draw us Vivaldi tortured in the Inquisition," or, “ Draw us Don Quixote and the windmills, you know,” amateurs would say, to boys who had a love of drawing. Peregrine Pickle” we liked, our fathers admiring it, and telling us (the sly old boys) it was capital fun; but I think I was rather bewildered by it, though “ Roderick Random” was and remains delightful. I don't remember having Sterne in the school library, no doubt because the works of that divine were not considered decent for young people. Ah! not against thy genius, O father of Uncle Toby and Trim, would I say a word in disrespect. But I am thankful to live in times when men no longer have the temptation to write so as to call blushes on women's cheeks, and would shame to whisper wicked allusions to honest boys. Then, above all, we had WALTER Scort, the kindly, the generous, the pure — the companion of what countless delightful hours; the purveyor of how much happiness; the friend whom we recall as the constant benefactor of our youth! How well I remember the type and the brownish paper of the old duodecimo - Tales of my Landlord ! ” I have never dared to read the 66 Pirate," and the “Bride of Lammermoor,” or “ Kenilworth,” from that day to this, because the finale is unhappy, and people die, and are murdered at the end. But “ Ivanhoe,” and “ Quentin Durward !” Oh! for a half-holiday, and a quiet corner, and one of those books again! Those books, and perhaps those eyes with which we read them; and, it may be, the brains behind the eyes! It may be the tart was good ; but how fresh the appetite was ! If the gods would give me the desire of my heart, I should be able to write a story which boys would relish for the next few dozen of centuries. The boy-critic loves the story: grown up, he loves the author who wrote the story. Hence the kindly tie is established between writer and reader, and lasts pretty nearly for life. I meet people now who don't care for Walter Scott, or the “ Arabian Nights ; ” I am sorry for them, unless they in their time have found their romancer their charming Scheherazade. By the way, Walter, when you are writing, tell me who is the favorite novelist in the fourth form now? Have you got anything so good and kindly as dear Miss Edgeworth's Frank? It used to belong to a fellow's sisters generally ; but though he pretended to despise it, and said, “Oh, stuff for girls !” he read it; and I think there were one or two passages which would try my eyes now, were I to meet with the little book.
As for Thomas and Jeremiah (it is only my witty way of calling Tom and Jerry), I went to the British Museum the other day on purpose to get it; but somehow, if
the question so closely, on reperusal, Tom and Jerry is not so brilliant as I had supposed it to be. The pictures are just as fine as ever; and I shook hands with broad-backed Jerry Hawthorn and Corinthian Tom with delight, after many years' absence. But the style of the writing, I own, was not pleasing to me; I even thought it a little vulgar — well! well ! other writers have been considered vulgar — and as a description of the sports and amusements of London in the ancient times, more curious than amusing.
But the pictures ! - oh! the pictures are noble still! First, there is Jerry arriving from the country, in a green coat and leather gaiters, and being measured for a fashionable suit at Corinthian House, by Corinthian Tom's tailor. Then away for the career of pleasure and fashion. The park! delicious excitement! The theatre! the saloon!! the green-room !!! Rapturous bliss the opera itself! and then perhaps to Temple Bar, to knock down a Charley there! There are Jerry and Tom, with their tights and little cocked hats, coming from the opera very much as gentlemen in waiting on royalty are habited
There they are at Almack's itself, amidst a crowd of high-bred personages, with the Duke of Clarence himself looking at them dancing. Now, strange change, they are in Tom Cribb's parlor, where they don't seem to be a whit less at home than in fashion's gilded halls: and now they are at Newgate, seeing the irons knocked off the malefactors' legs previous to execution. What hardened ferocity in the countenance of the desperado in yellow breeches! What compunction in the face of the gentleman in black (who, I suppose, has been forging), and who clasps his hands, and listens to the chaplain! Now we haste away to merrier scenes : to Tattersall's (ah gracious powers! what a funny fellow that actor was who performed Dicky Green in that scene at the play !); and now we are at a private party, at which Corinthian Tom is waltzing (and very gracefully, too, as you must confess,) with Corinthian Kate, whilst Bob Logic, the Oxonian, is playing on the piano !
“After,” the text says, “ the Oxonian had played several pieces of lively music, he requested as a favor that Kate and his friend Tom would perform a waltz.
Kate without any hesitation immediately stood up. Tom offered his hand to his fascinating partner, and the dance took place. The plate conveys a correct representation of the gay scene’ at that precise moment. The anxiety of the Oxonian to witness the attitudes of the elegant pair had nearly put a stop to their movements. On
turning round from the pianoforte and presenting his comical mug, Kate could scarcely suppress a laugh.'
And no wonder ; just look at it now (as I have copied it to the best of my humble ability), and compare Master Logic's countenance and attitude with the splendid elegance of Tom ! Now every London man is weary and blasé. There is an enjoyment of life in these young bucks of 1823 which contrasts strangely with our feelings of 1860. Here, for instance, is a specimen of their talk and walk. “If,' says LOGIC — “if enjoyment is your motto, you may make the most of an evening at Vauxhali, more than at any other place in the metropolis. It is all free and easy. Stay as long as you like, and depart when you think proper.' — Your description is so flattering,' replied JERRY, “ that I do not care how soon the time arrives for us to start. Logic proposed a bit of a stroll' in order to get rid of an hour or two, which was immediately accepted by Tom and Jerry. A turn or two in Bond Street, a stroll through Piccadilly, a look in at TATTERSALL'S, a ramble through Pall Mall, and a strut on the Corinthian path, fully occupied the time of our heroes until the hour for dinner arrived, when a few glasses of Tom's rich wines soon put them on the qui vive. VAUXHALL was then the object in view, and the Trio started, bent upon enjoying the pleasures which this place so amply affords.”
How nobly those inverted commas, those italics, those capitals, bring out the writer's wit and relieve the eye! They are as good as jokes, though you mayn't quite perceive the point. Mark the varieties of lounge in which the young men indulge
now a stroll, then a look in, then a ramble, and presently a strut. When George, Prince of Wales, was twenty, I have read in an old Magazine, " the Prince's lounge” was a peculiar manner of walking which the young bucks imitated. At Windsor George III. had a cat's path - a sly early walk which the good old king took in the gray morning before his household was astir. What was the Corinthian path here recorded ? Does any antiquary know? And what were the rich wines which our friends took, and which enabled them to enjoy Vauxhall? Vauxhall is gone, but the wines which could occasion such a delightful perversion of the intellect as to enable it to enjoy ample pleasures there, what were they?
So the game of life proceeds, until Jerry Hawthorn, the rustic, is fairly knocked up by all this excitement and is forced to go home, and the last picture represents him getting into the coach at the " White Horse Cellar,” he being one of six inside ;
* This refers to an illustrated edition of the work.
whilst his friends shake him by the hand; whilst the sailor mounts on the roof; whilst the Jews hang round with oranges, knives, and sealing-wax: whilst the guard is closing the door. Where are they now, those sealing-wax venders? where are the guards? where are the jolly teams? where are the coaches? and where the youth that climbed inside and out of them ; that heard the merry horn which sounds no more ; that saw the sun rise over Stonehenge ; that rubbed away the bitter tears at night after parting as the coach sped on the journey to school and London; that looked out with beating heart as the milestones flew by, for the welcome corner where began home and holidays?
It is night now: and here is home. Gathered under the quiet roof elders and children lie alike at rest. In the midst of a great peace and calm, the stars look out from the heavens. The silence is peopled with the past; sorrowful remorses for sins and short-comings - memories of passionate joys and griefs rise out of their graves, both now alike calm and sad. Eyes, as I shut mine, look at me, that have long ceased to shine. The town and the fair landscape sleep under the starlight, wreathed in the autumn mists. Twinkling among the houses a light keeps watch here and there, in what may be a sick chamber or two. The clock tolls sweetly in the silent air. Here is night and rest. An awful sense of thanks makes the heart swell, and the head bow, as I pass to my room through the sleeping house, and feel as though a hushed blessing were
ON A JOKE I ONCE HEARD FROM THE LATE
THE good-natured reader who has perused some of these rambling papers has long since seen (if to see has been worth his trouble) that the writer belongs to the old-fashioned classes of this world, loves to remember very much more than to prophesy, and though he can't help being carried onward, and downward, perhaps, on the hill of life, the swift milestones marking their forties, fifties - how many tens or lustres shall we say? he sits under Time, the white-wigged charioteer, with his back to the horses, and his face to the past, looking at the receding landscape and the hills fading into the gray