Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

sure to surpass! Yet this very animal, so pro. videntially coming to my aid, and making me a sort of luminary in the comparison, was the personification of self-complacency. It was his felicity to be convinced that his excellence lay in the very point where he was the most disqualified. For instance, his voice was bad, nay, it was distressing, and resembled, in all but vivacity, that of a male pig while they are qualifying him to become a singer. Yet he left off his dismal quavers with the conscious satisfaction of a firstrate performer. To satire, ridicule, sarcasm, he was quite inaccessible. How. I envied the dog's beatitude! Nay, he had brought himself to be lieve that he was the most ample contributer to the wit and fancy of the Club, and that the happiest hits of the evening were his; like the idiot of Hierocles, who, as he walked along the Piræus, took every vessel that entered the harbour for his own. And herein I could not choose but admire the kind provisions of Nature, in whose benevolent scheme, qualities are so nicely distributed, and so evenly poised. Here was a creature, rioting in the dreams of his own

superiority, who, had he been aware how niggardly he had been dealt by in the distribution of human endowments, must have hanged himself in pure

vexation. He was worse than useless lumber at the Beef-Steaks; he laid on it “ like marl encumbering the soil, it could not fertilize.” Of course the artillery of the table played profusely upon him ; but this armed rhinoceros could feel nothing. “M***** is dead,” said somebody to him, giving him a tap of the shoulder, finding him somewhat silent. “Dead,” replied the other, “I am not dead, thank God.” “Yes, M*****

, you are dead,” exclaimed Cobb. “I will prove it:—first, you are a dead weight to the Society; secondly, you are not alive to your own deficiencies.”. From this time, he was called the late Mr. M*****, and, not relishing the title, he withdrew in disgust. The spirit of the Club seemed to breathe more freely when this incubus was removed from it.

I wish my reader could see the Sublime Society at one of its festive sittings in the comfortable asylum prepared for the members at Arnold's theatre, when they were burnt away from Covent Garden, and to which they migrated like Æneas and his Trojans, with all that they could save from Troy. Enough, however, was saved from that fire to keep up the historic interest that connects us with the ancient days of the Club. Still

Reliquias veterumque vides monumenta virorum,

and I really believe, allowing for the changes which in a long cycle of years will steal upon all that is human, that it is still the nurse of true English conviviality, the seat of that easy festivity, which equally quickens the fancy and warms the heart. It has, no doubt, somewhat declined from the era when Wilkes, Lord Sandwich, Thornton, the elder Colman, Leonidas Glover, and Churchill, assembled at its board. But even at that Augustan period, its present character was quaintly sketched by Tom Warton, who travelled from Oxford merely to pass one day there. That best-natured and drollest of beings, being asked how he liked it, replied, “Very much, my boys! You are all

mind. I know not how to describe you, but you seem to belong to the tribe of the 'O. Sova Xape adap pos (Hoi don't care a dammoi).”

to my mind.

The don't-care-a-d-n feeling still exists unquenchably among us; a freedom which, by mutual convention, is permitted to press closely on the limits of good breeding, but never to overleap them.

Yet there was a period, not many years since (at my time of life we live but in retrospect) which I wish could be recalled. Had you but seen Cobb * there! It is now upwards of seven years that he has been taken from us, but the vacancy he has left in our hearts is not yet filled up.

Unimitated, inimitable Cobb! How shall I pourtray thee? I know how a cold blooded limner would set about it. He would give a dry inventory of thy good qualities; but that his skyblue diluted panegyric might not be taken for flattery, he would water it down to the flat insipidity of his own candour, with a remark in the puling tone of impartiality, that on the other hand-how hateful are these per contra creditsCobb had faults. Faults ! to be sure he had, but why remind us of them ? Give me the man, who, when he registers the amiable qualities of a departed friend, sees nothing more ; and who scorns to mix a mawkish mixture of censure in the sparkling cup of reflection, whose incense curls gratefully up to the skies. I see no fault in a friend who is torn from my side. The memory of those whom death or absence has removed from us, is a mirror that reflects only what is good, and from which the vapour breathed by a censorious criticism instantly flies off. Poor Cobb’s faults vanished with the last sigh that departed from his lips ;-with that sigh they melted into the unstained, ethereal element, with which good spirits become blended. Of Cobb, I remember only the steady, the kind, the hospitable friend ;—the host whose wine, as it ran to the brim to cheer you, borrowed new brightness from the brightest of countenances, that frowned only if you passed it by untasted ;the mirthful being, in whose society the hour of departure stole like a thief unsuspected upon you ;

* Late secretary at the India House.

-the man of the world, the least tainted with the suspicion and selfish indifference incident to those who have seen much of it, and who

« AnteriorContinuar »