Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

from the New Monthly Magazine.

EUROPEAN LIFE AND MANNERS.

European Life and Manners ; in Familiar Letters to Friends. By HENRY Colman, Author of “ European Agriculture, and the Agriculture of France, Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland.” 2 vols. Boston and London. 1849.

When the famous Baron Munchausen | try to make the most of it. It is not often fastened his horse, one dark winter's night, that we have the opportunity of gazing upon after a deep fall of snow, to what he sup- such a “picture of private and domestic posed was the stump of a tree, and waking life.” next morning saw his steed dangling from In painting this picture, however, Mr. the village steeple, his surprise, as he Colman says that his greatest difficulty has avouches, was extreme. Apparently, how been that his letters may be deemed too ever, the veracious baron's astonishment personal ;” and his principal anxiety, “ lest was scarcely greater than that of the author they should be thought to approach a violaof the “Familiar Letters” on “European tion of private confidence." He certainly Life and Manners," when he found that his does make some revelations which border friends had actually preserved the numerous closely on personality, but how far he is obepistles which he wrote to them from this noxious to the charge of violating private side of the Atlantic during a sojourn in confidence our readers shall form their own Europe of something more than five years. opinion. It was, at first, Mr. Colman's deThis being the case, our readers do not re- termination not to publish a single name; but quire to be told that “the letters were not he “found this an idle attempt, and that designed for publication.” Yet, after all, individuals would be traced by circumstances, such was their destiny. Fate proved stronger as certainly as if distinctly announced." To than free-will. Their extraordinary merit this account, therefore, must be placed the had somehow got bruited abroad;" many greater part of the startling discoveries which friends expressed a strong wish to possess his volumes bave made public; and all we them, and that,” adds Mr. Colman, “is can hope is, that the individuals whose "style the reason of their publication.”

of living" he has sketched with the minute We cannot but think that Mr. Colman pencil of a Gerard Douw, will be as lenient was right in yielding to the widely-extended to him as ourselves. They ought to be so, solicitation; for, though he might have for, according to Mr. Colman's showing, satisfied his friends by a manifold process on pains were most kindly taken to initiate me a large scale, or even by lithographic aid, into those particulars ; the information was, the object which those who do not write though entirely without ostentation, most for publication have generally in view, would kindly given ; written lists of servants, and hardly have been answered; the letters written and printed rules of domestic managewould not have obtained the popularity ment, were repeatedly placed in my hands, wbich now that they are in print seems with a full and expressed liberty to use them likely to attend them; neither would the as I pleased.” To violate private confidence, world have experienced the gratification as far as these things are concerned, is conwhich must necessarily follow their perusal. sequently a difficult matter ; but we will not We learn from his preface, that Mr. Colman prejudge the question. Mr. Colman gives

a graver work than this an equally good reason for turning the knowlupon European society,” that he has actu- edge thus obtained to account. The style ally begun it, and that he designs “present of living is so “wholly different from that ly to give it to the public.” But, en attend- which prevails” in the United States (of ant the fulfillment of this purpose, let us which country Mr. Colman is a citizen), and gratefully receive what we have got, and “ the interest in these minute details" is so

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1-as

intense at Boston, New York, and other great | Colman for slightly overcharging the piccities of the Union, that not to have emptied ture. As Sir Lucius O'Trigger says, “When the vials of his information for the benefit of affection guides the pen, he must be a brute the American coteries (of which Mr. Colman who finds fault with the style ;” and the is now, without doubt, the idol) would have couleur de rose of Mr. Colman is of so tender been looked upon by his countrymen—and a tint, that we may be pardoned if we see countrywomen- an act of leze-majesté in it the warmth of a stronger sentiment. against the laws of politeness and good man- Was it owing to this amiable feeling, or to ners, which, we gather from the context of "the malady of not listening ”- -as Falstaff his book, appear rather to require extension calls premeditated deafness—that Mr. Colin his native land. We have, ourselves, im- man is enabled to say: “Though I have plied our obligations to Mr. Colman; but been a great deal in the streets

, and in before we proceed to show why, we feel bound crowds without number, and have seen vexto mention that he states in a second preface-ation enough in passing, I do not think I as a matter deserving to stand apart—that have heard a single outh since I have been in the letters record "only a small portion of the city.(?) This is something worth noting, the kindness” shown him. What would have even although Mr. Colman had been only been their effect upon the public if the whole ten days in London when he wrote the senhad been narrated, we almost tremble to tence. The population of London, unless it think of.

was then very differently composed, could We shall now, following Mr. Colman's certainly have furnished no quota of the example, plunge in medias res.

armies which in my Uncle Toby's time swore In the month of May, in the year 1843, so terribly in Flanders. We have a faint he finds himself wandering through the idea that the accomplishment is not altostreets of London, in a state of utter amaze- gether forgotten at the present day, but ment at“ the wilderness of houses, streets, we may be mistaken ; indeed, on second lanes, courts, and kennels,” in which he is thoughts, we feel we must be so, for Mr. suddenly located. From the particularity of Colman tells us, a little further on, that his description, " where seven streets all ra- "good manners are here evidently a univerdiated from one centre," we suspect he must sal study." have made his debut in the Seven Dials; but But although an outward decorum is preit is no matter where, for all he meets en served, dissipation has taken deep root in the chants and astonishes him. He thus de- soil. “The business-shops close at ten, in scribes the effect produced by the vast ex- general ; but the ale and wine shops, the satent of London :

loons, and the druggists' shops, I believe, are open

all night; and the fire of intemperance, I have walked until I have had to sit down I should infer, was nourished as faithfully as on some door-steps out of pure weariness, and yet have not got at all out of the rushing tide of the vestal fire at Rome, and never permitted population. I have rode (ridden) on the driver's to go out or to slacken.” Our inference from seat on an omnibus, and there has been a con- this passage is, that those who don't or stant succession of squares, parks, terraces, and won't drink malt or sherry, indulge in intemlong lines of single houses for miles, and contin- perate draughts of spirits of wine at the uous blocks and single palaces in the very heart druggists' shops, or they would hardly be of London, occupying acres of ground. I do not included in the same category with the ale speak, of course, of the large parks, which, for and wine shops. Yet again Mr. Colman their trees, their verdure, their neatness, their embellishments, their lakes and cascades, their wa

finds an opportunity of excepting in favor of ters swarming with fish, and covered with a great

the Londoners: I have scarcely seen a variety of water-fowl, which they have been able smoker, and as to a tobacco-chewer, not one. to domesticate, and their grazing flocks of sheep It is possible, we conceive, for a person to and cattle, and their national monuments, and the chew tobacco without being discovered-unmultitude of well-dressed pedestrians, and of ele. I less he is an American ; but we will not ingantly-mounted horsemen and horsewomen, and of carriages and equipages as splendid as yold sist on this point, as we are not acquainted and silver can make them, are beantiful beyond with any one who indulges in this luxury ; even my most romantic dreams. I do not exag- but we had fancied that the “smokers” of gerate ; I cannot go beyond the reality.

London were

as plenty as blackberries.”

But in this also, it seems, we are wrong, or This is making the most of the ducks and Mr. Colman's eyesight is on a par with his geese in St. James's Park; but our national faculty of hearing. What he says of the vanity will not suffer us to quarrel with Mr. I ladies is, without doubt, equally true :

[ocr errors]

on his

"They have another practice which I equal- | We cannot sufficiently commend our author's ly admire. They seldom wear false curls.caution. He would make an excellent comWe have heard of “ fronts” as a not very un- mentator on Layard. common article of feminine coiffure ; but Mr. But to return from these generalities, and Colman has of course tested his opinion by describe what is far more interesting—the a closer inspection than we have been able to particular experiences of Mr. Colman in that bestow, and therefore we yield in this point, | domestic intercourse which has given him so as in all others, most willingly. When he clear an insight into “European life and speaks of the costume of the bench and the bar, manners;” though, in doing so, our course the Blue-coat boys and the court, our doubts must be as erratic as his. for a moment have the mastery over our be- Ostensibly bent on an agricultural mission, lief, but they presently subside before Mr. and armed with “ piles of letters of introducColman's better knowledge.

tion,” which make him acquainted at once “ The judges and the lawyers wear wigs, with Earl Spencer, who told him that “it as they did centuries ago. The charily boys was not necessary to have brought any crewear leather-breeches, blue or yellow yarn dentials ;" with Lord Ashburton, who“writes stockings, shoes with buckles, long coats and a civil note," saying he is anxious to serve bands, which I presume was the dress of two him “in any practicable way;" with Lord hundred years ago.

So the courl-dress in Morpeth, who “ is very attentive;" with Mr. which you are to be presented at the levees, Bates, who takes him to “his beautiful villa is the same that was worn in the days of Queen six miles from London, to pass Sunday with Elizabeth."

him ;" with the Earl of Hardwicke, who is We had a notion-an erroneous one, of anxious to render him“

every attention;" course—that the court-dress of the present and with a host of gentlemen, "members of day rather resembled the age of George the Parliament, and others, who have been poSecond than that of Elizabeth ; and had no lite” to him ;—having all these facilities, and idea, until we read the above passage, of the many more in the background, which are antediluvian antiquity of the lawyers' wigs. brought forward in due course, he sets out Historical accuracy is evidently one of the voyage of discovery to the new Socistrong points of our traveled American; heety Islands. rarely allows an opportunity to escape with- Mr. Colman's first visit was to Earl Spenout adding something to our previous im- cer, at Althorpe, where, he says, he "repressions. As, for instance, when speaking ceived every polite attention." As this is a of Melrose Abbey, he tells us that it contains favorite phrase with Mr. Colman, we may as the tomb of “ Michael Bruce, the celebrated well define it at once in his own words. wizard,” (a fact which Walter Scott would have given a great deal to know ;) and that the “ marks of the balls from Cromwell's of the manner of living in these places; and in this

You will (he says) be glad to hear something gunsthe first Cromwell, who destroyed the rambling letter I will tell you that, in respect to Abbeys in Englandare shown upon the convenience, comfort, and ease, it is near perfecwalls.” By "the first Cromwell” we pre- tion. As soon as you arrive at the house, your sume is meant the vicar-general of Henry the

name is announced, your portmanteau is immediEighth, under whose authority the English shows you, with every requisite convenience and

ately taken to your chamber, which the servant monasteries were suppressed, but we were not

comfort. At Lord Spencer's the watch opens aware, till Mr. Colman told us, that he used your door in the night to see if all is safe (How if cannon for the purpose; or, if he did, that the door is bolted ?], as his house was once enMelrose Abbey, in Scotland, came under his dangered by a gentleman's reading in bed; and jurisdiction. But there is nothing like infor- if he should find your light burning after you had mation picked up on the spot. The broken retired, excepting the night-taper, or you reading walls of Melrose were there to attest that in bed, without a single word he would stretch somebody battered them; and as the merit

out a long extinguisher and put it out. of the act was to be given to a Cromwell, the first, perhaps, has as good a claim to it as the Castle of Otranto.

A very ghostly visitation this, and fit for the second. Mr. Colman, however, is not a person to take everything upon trust that he is told, for when he visited Abbotsford he know the time, in season for you to dress for break

In the morning, a servant comes in to let you was shown “a Roman kettle, said to be 2000 fast. At half past nine you go in to family prayyears old, quite like our modern cast-iron

ers, if you find out the time. They are happy to pots. This age struck me as apocryphal.| have the guests attend, but they are never asked. The servants are all assembled in the room fitted servants in plain gentlemanly dress, but all with for a chapel. They all kneel, and the master of white cravats, which are likewise mostly worn the house or a chaplain reads the morning ser- by the gentlemen in dress. The servants not in vice. As soon as it is over they all wait until he livery are a higher rank than those in livery, , and his guests retire, and then the breakfast is nerer even associating with them. The livery is

served. At breakfast there is no ceremony what- of such a description as the master chooses : the ever. You are asked by the servant what you Duke of Richmond's were all in black, on acwill have, tea or coffee ; or you get up and help count of mourning in the family; the others vayourself. Dry toast, boiled eggs, and bread-and- rious, of the most grotesque description, somebutter are on the table; and on the sideboard times with and sometimes without wigs, and alyou will find cold ham, tongue, beef, &c., to which ways in shorts and white silk or white cotton you carry your own plate and help yourself, and stockings. [We foresee a tremendous social revocome back to the breakfast-table and sit as long as lution in Boston after this.] Many persons request you please. All letters or notes addressed to you you not to give any gratuity to the servants; others are laid by your plate ; and letters to be sent by forbid them accepting any, under pain of dismissal; mail are put in the post-box in the entry, and are and at the house of a nobleman of high rank I sure to go. The arrangements for the day are found a printed notice on my dressing-table to this then made, and parties are formed; horses and effect : " The guests are particularly requested to carriages for all the guests are found at the sta- give no gratuities to the servants." bles, and each one follows the bent of his inclination. When he returns at noon, he finds a side- We hope, as Mr. Colman seems in general table with an abundant lunch upon it, if he rather solicitous about his personal expendchooses ; and when he goes to his chamber for iture, that he profited by this hint. preparation for dinner, he finds his dress clothes brushed and folded in the nicest manner, and cold

A round of visits ensues, to Lord Hatherwater, and hot water, and clean napkins, in the ton's, Lord Hardwicke’s, and other titled and greatest abundance.

untitled Amphitryons; the former having

“the call” with our republican friend. But We have no disposition to question the before he sets out, “Mrs. P-”(whom truth of a word of this elaborate statement; we strongly suspect from the context to be not even of the existence of that mysterious Mrs. Pendarves) takes him “in her carriage place " the entry,” to which Mr. Colman is to see the most fashionable millinery store and so fond of referring : like the rest of his rev- the largest jewelry slore in the world.” elations, it is too circumstantial to admit of a In the letter announcing this fact, Mr. doubt; but what we want to know is, How Colman very nearly “forgot to mention” that many of these “polite attentions” are omit- he was also taken by Mrs. P"to see ted in American country houses ? Do the the wedding gear of the Princess Augusta ;" servants there—we beg pardon, we mean the luckily, however, he recollects it in the post“helps"—not announce your arrival ? do they script, and enlightens the Bostonians by innot carry your portmanteau up stairs for you, forming them that "it cost more than a call you in the morning, bring your letters, thousand dollars,” and was made “of silver brush your clothes, and supply you with cold and silk interwoven, and covered with Bruswater, hot water, and clean napkins? We sels lace.” should imagine not, or Mr. Colman would We next find Mr. Colman domiciliated in scarcely have been at the pains to tell his coun- the house of "a Member of Parliament," trymen what English servants do; and the con- while attending the cattle-show at Doncasclusion we are compelled to arrive at is, that ter; and the chief thing we learn from this when a stranger pays a visit in the United visit is embodied in the form of a maxim, as States, he is necessarily his own porter, his follows: own watchman, and his own shoeblack, and that if he washes his face at all he does it at As direct introductions seldom take place, you his own cost and contriyance. Nothing in

are expected, in such visits, to put yourself in poEngland seems to have impressed Mr. Col- lite communication with those who are near you. man more forcibly than the manners and That our traveler acted up to his own rule proceedings of that useful class of persons is evident when he says: whom the Scotch call “flunkies.” He says:

There are some gentlemen here with whom I Servants are without number. I have never have had long conversations, and who have asked dined out yet, even in a private untitled family, me repeatedly to visit them, whose names 1 do not with less than three or four, and at several places know. eight or nine even, for a party hardly as numerous; but each knows his place; all are in full dress The value of these invitations is, however, -the liveried servants in livery, and the upper somewhat diminished by their vagueness, it

on

being difficult to pay a visit to an anonymous has an office by the door, or else a table, with pen, host.

ink, paper, &c. ; who receives and delivers mesWe have said that Mr. Colman is careful sages, but does not leave his place, having always in matters of personal expense.

He illus

servants at hand to wait upon him. Then each

gentleman in the house has his own private valet, trates this in Edinburgh, where, there being and each lady her own maid, who has all the cast, no nobleman's house convenient, out of the off clothes of the lady. The ladies, it is reported, numbers placed at his disposition, he gets never wear a pair of white satin shoes or white into “excellent quarters at nine shillings per gloves more than once; and some of them, if they week” for his lodgings—a price which we find, on going into society, another person of infetrust secured for him “cold water and clean rior rank wearing the same dress as themselves, towels.” in ”

the dress upon being taken off is at once thrown " is very expensive; and though I never ride aside, and the lady's maid perfectly understands

her perquisite inside when I can ride out, yet one gets to the bottom of one's purse constantly much There are two difficulties to be got over in sooner than you expect it.” He has an

this arrangement: first, to discover a person expedient for avoiding this expense, which of inferior rank moving in the same society he appears to have practiced successfully with you; and next, to find that person acone occasion, “I have walked to

tually wearing the clothes which you have day about twelve miles, and to save two got on your back. The last-named state of miles had to ford the Tweed, with my trow- the case seems to belong to the category of sers and shoes in my hands,(like Cæsar and Sir Boyle Roche's bird, which was in two his fortunes ;) “not a rery pleasant opera- places at the same time; but as Mr. Colman tion, upon stones of all angles and shapes, is satisfied about its practicability, we shall which the water, though constantly flowing not venture to express our incredulity. over them, had done little to soften.” Cer- Great truths cannot be too often repeated; tainly “not a very pleasant operation,” nor and Mr. Colman is unable to part with Lambone that, we think, it would be desirable for

ton Castle without telling how the guests him to repeat very often, at all events on this make it out in noblemen's establishments in side of the Tweed. In Scotland, Melrose general, even at the risk of repetition. and Abbotsford claim, as we have shown, some portion of his time; but the relics of

In most families the hour of breakfast is anthe Wizard of the North (not Michael Bruce), nounced to you before retiring, and the breakfast the memorials of Mary Stuart and John is entirely without ceremony.

Your letters are Knox, and the monuments of Edinburgh, brought to you in the morning, and the mail goes soon give place to a description of the me-out every day. The postage of letters is always nage of Lambton Castle, the seat of the

prepaid by those who write them, who paste late Lord Durham.” Here Mr. Colman is sidered an indecorum to send a letter unpaid, or

double or single stamps upon them; and it is concompletely at home.

only sealed with a wafer. Any expense incurred

for you, if it be only a penny upon a letter, is at In houses of this kind it is usual to have from

once mentioned to you, and you of course pay it. forty to fifty servants. The servants' establish

At breakfast the arrangements are made for the ment is quite an affair by itself. The steward is

day. at the head; he provides everything, and purchases all the supplies; he oversees all the other

Here follows an account similar to that servants, and puts on, and where the party is not large, takes everything off from the table, the given at Lord Spencer's. He then continother servants standing by and waiting upon him. He has a room to himself, well fitted up, and has a large salary. Next to him comes the butler,

At eleven o'clock there is always a candle for who takes care of all the wines, fruit, glasses, each guest, placed on the sideboard or in the encandlesticks, lamps, and plate, and has an under

try, with allumettes alongside of them; and at butler for his adjunct. Next, in equal authority your pleasure you light your own candle and bid with the steward, and haring also an elegant par good night. In a Scotch family you are expected lor, is the housekeeper; she has all the care of lo shake hands, on retiring, with all the party, and the chambers, the linen, and the female servants. on meeting in the morning. Then comes, next in authority, and perfectly despotic in his own domain, the cook, who is gener- Not always a very safe practice in Scotally French or Italian, and his subalterns. Then land, if the popular belief be true. come the coachman, the footman, and the ostlers, who, the last, I believe, seldom come into the The English are a little more reserved, though house. Then there is the porter, who in London in general, the master of the house shakes hand houses always sits in the entry, and there either | with you. On a first introduction, no gentleme

[ocr errors]

ues :

« AnteriorContinuar »