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Monthly Journal of Fashion.
EMBELLISHED WITH FORTY-EIGHT ROYAL QUARTO PLATES,
SIX HUNDRED DESIGNS OF THE MOST FASHIONABLE COSTUMES.
PUBLISHED BY I. T. PAYNE, 45, KING STREET, SOHO.
THE BEAU MONDE;
Monthly Journal of Fashion.
LONDON, JANUARY 1, 1838.
A WEDDING AT SCHOOL. WHAT a pity that a story,--an old soldier's espe cially, should ever require a beginning,-that it could not, like some general actions-and those not the least important I have been engaged in-be irregularly brought on by a random shot from some unknown quarter, or some chance-medley sort of encounter between raw troops,—and thus the hero, heroine, and all the corps d'armée, comfortably enveloped in one cloud of smoke-whether from powder or cigars, signifies little, be brought at once into close quarters with each other, and the reader!
I never disliked fighting, I believe no Briton in his heart does; at least while he is about it, whatever cooler reflection may dictate when the heat of action is over; bat next to the chill discomfort of standing under arms for hours of grey twilight, waiting for an enemy, too wise or too wary to give you an opportunity of doing anything,-is the nervous feeling of sitting on a rainy day, when nothing in earth or sky seems dry but one's own brain-with a formidable quire of paper drawn up before one-meditating a beginning to a tale.
I got over that part of the business, thank my stars, before I sat down; so now I have only to beg the reader to suppose me, first a spoilt urchin of an only boy-next a roguish, unlucky school-boy, with just nous enongh to keep him from being a dunce, and idleness in abundance to keep him from being a scholar,—then a raw ensign, in love with nothing but his own coat and feathers, then, for a long period, a busy, war-worn soldier, with no leisure for any mistress but Glory, (and a devilish coy one she was to British wooers, till, all at once, like other coquettes, she opened her arms the wider for her previous disdain,)—and, lastly, for my story I promised begins in the middle-a major of some four-and-thirty years' experience in the world, with a few scattered grey hairs on his temples, and, for the first time in his life, leisure as well as inclination to be in love.
I suppose it was this very leisure and opportunity that, with the usual waywardness of man, prevented my availing myself of either. I was quartered in a succession of gay, bustling towns, full of beauty and fashion, and all the et cæteras of the newspaper vocabu lary. In vain I attended balls--nay, danced, though I confess neither with the spirit or good grace of an absolute volunteer-flirted-for what Irishman could live in an atmosphere of youth and beauty, without indulging in that lively species of chit-chat, which a good natured world styles flirtation ?- but it would not all do. I remained like a perfect salamander, if not unsinged, at least unconsumed, and began to fancy my heart had been changed like the babes of an Irish nursery tale, by some fairy, and a cannon ball substituted in its place. Yet it went thump-thumping as usual when I saw any dashing affair in the Gazette, and grew soft
NO. LXXXV VOL. VIII.
as a frosted potatoe when any old soldier's wife came whining with a cock-and-bull story of distress; but in love I could not manage to be, add it was very provoking to one who literally had nothing else to do.
Had the same favourable combination of circumstances occurred ten years sooner, there would, I dare say, have been no difficulty; but a man past thirty has his wits terribly about him; and, as the most fluent writer has sometimes all his ideas put to flight by the sound of the postman's bell,-the sight of a stray grey hair, with its now or never" memento, flurries a man too much to allow him to make up his mind.
I began to fancy myself a lieutenant-general on the staff, with no soul near me but a cross housekeeper, and a fifteenth cousin-deaf and blind,—and with a mind narrowed to the compass of a regulation shoe-tie. I envied every married man I saw; fancied all their shrews or dowdies angels incarnate, and wondered why there were no such girls in the market now.
I tried change of air and scene. Some people go to the country for prospects, some for partridges, some for foxes; but I went in quest of young ladies. Town girls, I thought, looked all silly and affected; Nature and simplicity must be found in a country-house; so I made the round of the county of N-, saw at least half a score of very nice, pleasing girls, from the beautiful, accomplished syrens at Castle B-, to the unsophisticated daughters of my friend Tom S- at his hospitable cottage. I admired them all, more or less-thought all or any of them would make admirable wives for any man (Jack Donovan excepted) but as to ever feeling inclined to drop on one knee, (the other was out of the question, a bullet having gone clean through it at Q-,) or even tendering my hand on a sheet of gilt paper to any of them, I should as soon have thought of making speeches to my sergeant-major, or writing billets-doux to the Horse-guards. What made my case harder and more distressing, was, that I dare say many, if not most of the fair creatures, either were, or at least could have been, in love with me. A coxcomb, especially at fiveand-thirty, must be a fool-but really disengaged, good-humoured girls, are apt to have a natural predilection for sensible, good-looking men in red coats, who look as if they did not wear them for nothing, and as if they had hearts to give in return.
This to be sure, in my case, was a sad delusion; and I could have almost echoed the cry of a poor mad-woman, I remembered, when a boy, in Dublin, pathetically exclaiming, "You have all hearts but me." It was only lucky that I seldom staid long enough in one place to have it found out, or endanger my passing for
I went, as a last resource, to various races-not to look at the horses, or lose my money, but to look for a wife, aud lose my heart. Somehow or other, it would not be made over; and I lost more gloves than would have served for wedding favours, without losing or gaining anything else.