Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

voice and testimony of experience; and moreover, considered his utter inattention to the quality of what he eat and drank as unworthy of a rational, that is, of a cooking creature, or of a being, who, as defined by Johnson, holds his dinner the most important business of the day. Cargill did not act up to this definition, and was, therefore, in the eyes of his new acquaintance, so far ignorant and uncivilized. What then? He was still a sensible, intelligent man, however abstemious and bookish.

On the other hand, the divine could not help regarding his new friend as something of an epicure or belly-god, nor could he observe in him either the perfect education, or the polished bearing, which mark the gentleman of rank, and of which, while he mingled with the world, he had become a competent judge. Neither did it escape him, that in the catalogue of Mr Touchwood's defects, occurred that of many travellers, a slight disposition to exaggerate his own personal adventures, and to prose concerning his own exploits. But then his acquaintance with Eastern manners, existing now in the same state in which they existed during the time of the Crusades, formed a living commentary on the works of William of Tyre, Raymund of St Giles, the Moslem annals of Abulfaragi, and other historians of the dark period, with which his studies were at present occupied.

A friendship, a companionship at least, was therefore struck up hastily betwixt these two originals; and to the astonishment of the whole parish of St Ronan's, the minister therefore was seen once more leagued and united with an individual of his species, generally called among them the Cleikum Nabob. Their intercourse sometimes consisted in long walks, which they took in company, traversing, however, as limited a space of ground, as if it had been actually roped in for their pedestrian exercise. Their parade was according to circumstances, a low haugh at the nether end of the ruinous hamlet, or the esplanade in the front of the old castle; and, in either case, the direct longitude of the promenade never exceeded a hundred yards. Sometimes, too, though rarely, the divine took share of Mr Touchwood's meal, though less splendidly set forth than when he was first invited to partake of it ; for, like the ostentatious owner of the gold cup in Parnell's Hermit,

- Still he welcomed, but with less of cost.' On these occasions, the conversation was not of the regu



lar and compacted nature, which passes betwixt men, as they are ordinarily termed, of this world. On the contrary, the one party was often thinking of Saladin and Ceur de Lion, when the other was haranguing on Hyder Ali and Sir Eyre Coote. Still, however, the one spoke, and the other seemed to listen; and, perhaps, the lighter intercourse of society, when amusement is the sole object, can scarcely rest on a safer basis.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]



Though naturally pensive, yet I am fond of gay company, and take every opportunity of thus dismissing the mind from duty From this motive I am often found in the centre of a crowd; and wherever pleasure is to be sold, am always a purchaser. In those places, without being remarked by any, I join in whatever goes forward, work my passions into a similitude of frivolous earnestness, shout as they shout, and condemn as they happen to disapprove. A mind thus sunk for a while below its natural standard, is qualified for stronger flights; as those first retire who would spring forward with greater vigour.

Attracted by the serenity of the evening, a friend and I lately went to gaze upon the company in one of the public walks near the city. Here we sauntered together for some time, either praising the beauty of such as were handsome, or the dresses of such as had nothing else to recommend them. We had gone thus deliberately forward for some time, when my friend stopping on a sudden, caught me by the elbow, and led me out of the public walk; I could perceive by the quickness of his pace, and by his frequently looking behind, that he was attempting to avoid somebody who followed ; we now turned to the right, then to the left; as we went forward, he still went faster, but in vain ; the person whom he attempted to escape, hunted us through every doubling, and gained upon us each moment; so that, at last, we fairly stood still, resolving to face what we could not avoid.

Our pursuer soon came up, and joined us with all the familiarity of an old acquaintance. My dear Charles,'


[ocr errors]

great as much as you do; but there are ao

cries he, shaking my friend's hand, where have you been hiding this half a century ? Positively I had fancied you were gone down to cultivate matrimony and your estate in the country. During the reply, I had an opportunity of surveying the appearance of our new companion. His hat was pinched up with peculiar smartness; his looks were pale, thin, and sharp; round his neck he wore a broad black ribbon, and in his bosom a buckle studded with glass ; his coat was trimmed with tarnished twist; he wore by his side a sword with a black hilt; and his stockings of silk, though newly washed, were grown yellow by long service. I was so much engaged with the peculiarity of his dress, that I attended only to the latter part of my friend's reply; in which he complimented Mr Tibbs on the taste of his clothes, and the bloom in his countenance. Psha, psha, Charles, cried the figure, no more of that if you love me; you know I hate flattery, on my soul I do; and yet to be sure an intimaey with the great will improve one's appearance, and a course of venison will fatten ; and yet, faith, I despise the

great many damned honest fellows among them ; and we must not quarrel with one half because the other wants breeding. If they were all such as my Lord Mudler, one of the most goodnatured creatures: that ever squeezed a lemon, I should myself be among the number of their admirers. I was yes. terday to dine at the Dutchess of Piccadilly's. My lord was there--Ned, says he to me, Ned, says he, I'll hold gold to silver I can tell where you were poaching last nights Poaching, my lord, says I ; faith you have missed already; for I staid at home and let the girls poach for me.

That's my way; I take a fine woman as some animals do their prey ; stand still, and swoop, they fall into


mouth.'. Ah, Tibbs, thou art a happy fellow, cried my companion with looks of infinite pity, I hope your fortune is as much improved as your understanding in such company?' Improved,' replied the other ; ' ' you shall know, but let it go no farther,

-a great secret-five hundred a year to begin withMy lord's word of honour for it-His lordship took me down in his own chariot yesterday, and we had a tete-atete dinner in the country, where we talked of nothing else.” “I fancy you forgot, Sir,' cried I, you told us but this moment of your dining yesterday in town!.. Did I say so?'-replied he coolly. • To be sure if I said so -Dined in town: egad, now, I do remember I did dine


I'll tell you a

or it

in town: but I dined in the country too : for you must know, my boys, I eat two dinners. By the bye, I am grown as nice as the devil in my eating. pleasant affair about that: we were a select party of us to dine at lady Grogram's, an affected piece, but let it go no farther; a secret : Well, says I, I'll hold a thousand guineas, and say done first, that-But, dear Charles, you are an honest creature, lend me half-a-crown for a minute or two, or so, just till. But hark'e, ask me for it next time we meet,

may be twenty to one but I forget to pay you.' When he left us, our conversation naturally turned upon so extraordinary a character. · His very dress,' cries my friend, 'is not less extraordinary than his conduct. If you meet him this day you find him in rags ; if the next, in embroidery: with those persons of distinction of whom he talks so familiarly, he has scarce a coffee-house acquaintance. However, both for the interest of society, and perhaps for his own, Heaven has made him poor ; and, while all the world perceives his wants, he fancies them concealed from every eye.

An agreeable companion because he understands flattery; and all must be pleased with the first part of his conversation, though all are sure of its ending with a demand on their purse. While his youth coun.. tenances the levity of his conduct, he may thus earn a precarious subsistence ; but, when age comes on, the gravity of which is incompatible with buffoonery, then will he find himself forsaken by all. Condemned in the decline of life to hang upon some rich family whom he once despised, there to undergo all the ingenuity of studied contempt; to be employed only as a spy upon the servants, or a bug-bear to fright children into duty.'

There are some acquaintances whom it is no easy matter to shake off. My little beau yesterday overtook me again in one of the public walks, and slapping me on the shoulder, saluted me with an air of the most perfect familiarity. His dress was the same as usual, except that he had more powder in his hair, wore a dirtier shirt, and had on a pair of temple spectacles, with his hat under his arm.

As I knew him to be a harmless amusing little thing, I could not return his smiles with any degree of severity; so we walked forward on terms of the utmost intimacy, and in a few minutes discussed all the usual topics of a general conversation. The oddities that marked his character, however, soon

« AnteriorContinua »