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"I shall feel the greatest pleasure in complying with the wishes of your royal highnesses,” observed the poet, with the greatest complacency.
Accept our thanks,” said the princesses ; "in a day or two the albums shall be forwarded to your residence."
The dinner was now announced. The poet escorted the Princess Elizabeth to the dining-room. The urbanity of the royal party at once placed our hero at his ease. He would have felt quite at home had the servants been dismissed from the room. "Well, Mr. Stanley, I'm sure you are highly honoured,” said
queen ; we are indebted to you for the presence of his majesty at our table to-day, for the king usually dines about one o'clock-yes, his majesty has paid a compliment to you which I have known him deny to more than one crowned head in Europe.”
Indeed, sir, we are glad to see you,” rejoined the princesses, " and should be glad of your company a little oftener."
“Well, well, Charlotte, I would take two dinners every day to behold such a specimen of uative English talent as is presented in the person of our guest of to-day. As to you girls, you hoydons," added the king, good-humouredly, “you know you are too noisy for me, God bless your joyous hearts."
The conversation went round in a sprightly tone, and as the champagne circulated, the company, as a natural consequence, became more spirited.
The cloth was removed, and now his majesty really looked as happy as a king. After the wine and dessert were placed on the table the royal host said,
“Well, I must declare that I have not felt so cheerful for months as I do at the present moment. Come, Charlotte, Charlotte, my dear, pass your snuff-box up this way;" whereupon the queen handed that article to her footman, who conveyed it to the king.
“What do you think of that?” said the monarch, handing the box to Stanley
“ That it is exquisite,” replied our hero.
“There--oh! never mind,” said the queen, in a manner which implied that she had determined to conceal from the poet the intelligence she was about to communicate.
“I'll tell you what the queen was going to say, Stanley,” whispered the king. “Why, that she would made you a present of a pound or two of the mixture; so, if you receive a packet of snuff you'll know from whence it came. But pass the bottle round. Come, come, my Lord – ; come, Mr. Stanley. You lasses there, mind you don't fill your glasses every time, but this round you must have a bumper, for I am going to propose the health of our new guest. You are all well aware I'm no great hand at speech-making, unless they are written for me,” added the king, smiling, as he looked towards his prime-minister, who, of course, took the hint, and then, in an earnest tone, said—“Mr. Stanley, here is your good health ; may you live long and happy. I know, sir, that you in your writings have reproved the great of the world, and it is perhaps too true that we stand in need of reproof
-Mr. Stanley, your good health.” At this moment the doors of the drawing-room were burst open, when in rushed two gentlemen singing a song in a most boisterous tone. The interruption consequent upon the singular entrance of the new comers caused Stanley to look round, when he was surprised to find
that the visitors were no less distinguished personages than the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York.
“Your highnesses have forgotten yourselves, we fear,” said his majesty, addressing his sons.
Sire, we humbly crave your pardon,” replied the Prince of Wales, with a serious expression of countenance, we have been misled, your majesty, as our messengers informed us there was no company at the palace to-day, consequently we expected to meet only the queen and the princesses ; so, ladies and gentlemen, we again beg you will accept our apology."
“Granted, granted," said their majesties, as the princesses shook their heads significantly at their brothers.
After the interruption caused by the above explanation had subsided, the king, addressing his sons, said,
Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Stanley," when the two princes shook hands most cordially with the poet, and expressed great pleasure in being so fortunate as to meet with the author of The
His majesty, again addressing the princes, said, “ Your highnesses will be pleased to spend the evening with usit is the most comfortable little party I have sat down to for some weeks past. Why, we were as happy as at a harvest-home just as you entered the room so gracefully a minute or two since ; you see all our glasses are charged to the brim, for we were about to drink the health of Mr. Stanley."
The princes dismissed their attendants, and immediately seated themselves at the table. Their glasses were presently charged, when the king again drank to the health and happiness of the poet, in which the monarch was followed by the rest of the company. The royal brothers, to convince all present they had done full justice to the toast, turned their glasses upside down, and proposed that the toast should be given with due honours, whereupon their royal highnesses got upon their legs and vehemently shouted, “ Hip, hip, hip, hurrah!” as the rest of the company laughed most heartily at this departure from the etiquette of the royal table. After the above toast was disposed of, the king said, addressing the princes,
'We should much like to know where you boys have come from, for you appear to be exceedingly merry this evening."
“From the house, sire-direct from the house, your majesty," was the reply to the above query.
“Oh, oh!” said the king, in a sceptical tone.
“Sad boys, sad boys !observed the queen, trying to look severe, whilst her eyes, in spite of her forced scowl, beamed forth a smile of approbation.
“Yes, they're sad boys, indeed,” whispered the princesses to each other, as they looked towards their brothers and smiled.
When silence was obtained, Stanley rose and said,
“Your majesties, your illustrious family, and the rest of the company have honoured me by drinking my health. Be assured it is the fervent desire of my heart that I may ever deserve the good wishes of your majesties and your illustrious family. I thank you, most heartily thank you, for the honour you have conferred upon me this day, and in return I wish you every happiness your hearts can desire."
“Bravo! bravo !” exclaimed the princes, as the poet resumed his seat.
“Your highnesses are indeed merry," repeated the king ; “pray which house have you just come from ?”
Here the princes looked at each other and laughed, but made no reply to the question put to them by their father.
The Prince of Wales now rose from his seat and asked permission to propose a toast. His request was complied with, when his royal highness gave—“ The wife and family of the author of The
This toast was drunk in bumpers by all the party, after which our hero thanked the company for the honour they had done him by thus drinking the health of his wife and family, and adverted in such a tender, delicate, and interesting style to the virtues of his wife, which left a very favourable impression of Elizabeth (for that was her name) on the minds of his illustrious entertainers.
After a short pause in the conversation the king said, with evident emotion,
“I know your history well, Mr. Stanley. I often fancied I could see you tending Dame Perkins' geese and the old farmer's sheep. I have, too, pictured you sitting on a sunny bank with your book and slate. Ah, Stanley," continued the monarch, with increased emotion, “I have, amid the perplexing cares of the state, often wished that I were a poor shepherd-boy like you once were. Excuse this freedom, sir, but the truly great I know are never ashamed to be reminded of their origin.
The king now talked to his prime-minister, whilst the rest of the company conversed in a lively tone. The princesses slyly upbraided their brothers for their boisterous behaviour, whilst the
princes bestowed the fondest looks upon their sisters, and declared they “could not help it.” The Prince of Wales leaned over the table and talked for some time to our hero. Said the prince,
“I am, Mr. Stanley, well acquainted with your works; I candidly tell you I much admire them. 'Tis true that in your you gave no quarter to us great folks, and verily we do want the lash applied to us occasionally. But you know princes are born princes; what can be expected of them but folly? We are nurtured in extravagance, and cannot see how we are to make our escape from the trammels of greatness. You know as well as I that we are made, as it were, the scapegoat of the Church and State, and all the rest of it."
“ That will do, that will do, George,” said the Duke of York, and then addressing our hero, added, “You know, Mr. Stanley, it has been said, some men are born to greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them, whilst others achieve greatness.' Of all men I admire are those once humble individuals who have achieved greatness. As George says, we were born princes; as such I can assure you it is almost next to impossible that we can, in the present state of society, be different to what we are. convince you, my dear sir, how native genius is estimated here (secretly cherished it is true), I shall propose that we drink to nature's nobility.” Whereupon the duke got upon his legs and gave the above sentiment, which was heartily responded to by the whole of the company.
The queen and her daughters now left the table, when the bottle went cheerily round. All the company were as merry as possible, particularly the two princes, who volunteered a duet, which was sung after some little demur on the part of the king.
The party broke up at a late hour. As our hero took leave of his illustrious entertainers, they assured him they had experienced much pleasure from his first visit to the palace, and hoped it would not be the last. The two princes now disputed in whose carriage Mr. Stanley should be conveyed home, when the Duke of York at length gave way to the senior claim of the Prince of Wales ; accordingly our hero was driven home in the carriage of the latter.
On alighting at his own door, the surprise of the poet was great to find that another coach was standing at the back of the one from which he had just stepped, which vehicle, on inquiry, he ascertained was the private carriage of the Duke of York, who for a frolic had sent it in attendance on the conveyance of the prince his brother.
Well,” said our hero to himself on retiring to rest that night, “Poetus after all was as splendid a genius when pining unheeded in his miserable attic as at the moment he was crowned with laurel amid the admiring shouts of the people. Even I,” continued he, “ was no less gifted when my family suffered the pangs of hunger
than now that I am honoured, and my society is courted by the illustrious of the land. Who is to legislate for poets ? How many such go down in penury and broken-hearted to the grave! how few obtain the laurels they deserve !”
A DEBT TO TALENT.
BY MRS. ABDY.
A debt to talent! can it be ?
Yet some there are of nobler kind
Yes, earnestly their course they heed,
Yes, such there are- -the “phantom debt ”