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NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
CALENDAR OF THE LONDON SEASONS.
JANUARY.-Philosophers are moral, and poets are picturesque about the country. Sheridan Knowles, as the climax to the merits of his charming Julia, makes her declare to her lover, “Who weds with me must lead a country life.” From the first shop in Piccadilly to the last on Ludgate-hill, “the farther-looking hope" that hovers over the counter is a dream of some rural retirement. I never heard a naval or military man speak of the future but as to be passed in some dwelling which held out the delights of growing their own vegetables and killing their own mutton. It has never been my fortune to meet with any individual who deliberately planned an existence to be passed actually in London. “ The vision and the faculty divine” of imagining how your fortune is to be spent when acquired, always goes off the stones. It is an unpleasant thing to differ in opinion with the rest of one's species—it is making a sort North Pole of one's own, and en setting out in search of it. Still I own that I indulge not in these rural anticipations; I look upon London as the very type of injured innocence and unappreciated excellence. I never wish to go farther than a hackney-coach can take me; I desire nothing better than pavement beneath my feet. When I wish
“ Oh that some home like this for me would smile!” I am looking at a good house with a street before and a street behind, and these streets very decidedly in London. I am a cockney, heart and soul, in every thing but “ that bitter boon my birth.” I trust, however, in this enlightened age, I shall not be reproached for the fault of my parents; at least I can say to our Metropolis,
With thee were the dreams of my earliest love,
Every thought of my reason was thine." I only know one gentleman with whom town is as it is with myselfat once a principle and a passion; but, alas! there is little integrity in this world; he not only avowed a predilection for Paris, but once said something about liking a villa at Harrow. I felt at once he was not capable of my intense, unalterable, and undivided attachment. I never in my life looked over with any interest any map but the map
of London. It has always been
The only place I coveted
In all the world so wide." At the same time I beg leave to state that I have a taste for the poetical, and an eye for the picturesque; but I contend that both are to be found in their perfection in London. Indeed, I hold that people in town
April.-Vol. XL. NO. CLX.
alone appreciate the country; or rather, that London is the only place where the beauties of the country are really enjoyed.
A calendar of the London months comprises every variety of human pleasure—if we can but get at them. I forewarn my readers, however, that mine is a moderate scale. I shall not venture from the commonplace of the possible into the cloudland of the desirable. Wordsworth says,
“ Pleasures newly found are sweet,
When they lie about our feet.” The moral of which I deduce to be, the charm of easy attainment. I shall only take a little from each season. I own the month, at the beginning, has as little, or rather less, to be said in its favour than any of the twelve. I like to be candid in my admissions—it is so very disarming; you forestall the objection which you admit—at least your adversary has scarcely the heart to push to its utmost the advantage which you so meekly confess. Still January has its good points. The weather is cold, I allow, but it is cold everywhere; and have we not a comfortable thick fog to keep us warm ? Sancho said, “Blessed be the man who invented sleep ; it covers all over as with a mantle.” May not the same encomium be passed on fog ? First, among the pleasures to which it is my agreeable task to draw attention, is that of not getting up in the morning. În the country, early rising is a duty; in town, it is a fault. Ah! I appeal to all who have any sensibility—for themselves—how delightful it is to be called in the morning, yet not to obey that call. It combines two of the greatest enjoyments of which our nature is susceptible—obstinacy and indolence. “ Your early risers know not what they lose.” A London day requires to be well aired before it is ventured into. If an east wind and a frost, I recommend the fireside; you can stir it by way of exercise. I hate one of those clear bright mornings, when the sun looks out coldly and mockingly, like wit sharpening at your expense; when you feel your very heart shrivelled within you, and think with respect of your ancestors, who rode and walked in black velvet masks. Then your feelings are so often hurt. Some friend, with a constitution like that of China, which has lasted from the time of Confucius to the present dynasty, catches you just as you are hastily turning some exposed corner, and stops you with the wind in your face to remark, " What beautiful weather for the time of year!” This is, as the author of Crotchet Castle remarks of giving you sandwiches when you expect supper, adding insult to injury. No,-on such a day stay at home, and you cannot do better than read the just mentioned little volume, whose wit is as cutting as the east wind which you will escape, and a great deal more agreeable. But there are some Eolian influences” even on this month-soft, mild mornings, with just damp enough to release the hair from its first stiff curl into a glossy drooping, infinitely more becoming. Talk of flower-gardens, views from the tops of hills which, remember, you have first to walk up—just look at the shops now, like the clan of Lochiel,
“ All plaided and plumed in their winter array!" What taste in the arrangement of the floating gauzes and the draperied silks! What an eye to colour ! A painter might envy the bold and rich contrast between that scarlet cashmere and that emerald-green velvet. But it is in the pastry-cook's that we must look just now for the
triumph of art. There the twelfth-cakes extend their white expanse of mimic snow,” fit trophies for winter. I admire the national feeling that inspired their decorations; a little crowd are growing patriotic about yonder window. In the centre is a huge cake iced couleur de rose; all the devices are nautical, and it is surrounded with a border of shells which might puzzle a conchologist, but serve to show what a prodigality of invention there is in the most ordinary productions. In the centre is a cannon, and against it there is leaning a youth in a blue jacket and black handkerchief-the beau ideale of our nation's beau ideale" à true British sailor." A little beyond is à fruiterer's shop. I prefer a fruiterer's in winter to any other time; it most excites my imagination. There are the oranges and the Lisbon grapes, associate with summer soft skies.” Spanish chestnuts, which bring to mind the stately trees where they grew, and all the wild tales of muleteers, guitars, and moonlight, which last seems made on purpose for Spain; but, of all, commend me to those Eastern treasures-dates. I never see one of those slender straw baskets filled with “ the desert fruit” without losing myself in a delicious remembrance of those “ Arabian Nights” which made so many a former day too short. I am no great believer in the superior happiness of childhood-it has its troubles. I remember a little Indian girl of some three years old, who was already forced to look back with
“That regret which haunts our riper years,” on some occasion of juvenile delinquency, when she was condemned to the ordinary punishment of “ being put in the corner.
56 Ah !” exclaimed the poor little thing, her large black eyes-larger even than usual with the big tears swelling in them, there only being a little pride to be gulped down before they fell—“Ah! there were no corners in Calcutta.” If, even at three years old, we turn to the pleasures of memory, the less that is asserted about the felicity of childhood, the less there will be to dispute. Still it is the period when the Arabian Nights were first read, and that is enough to make up for a horde of catechisms of history, mythology, botany, &c., almost for the multiplication-table itself. Another attraction-one, too, whose
Coming events cast their shadows before," in the shape of large black and red letters, gigantic in themselves, and gigantic in their promises--I mean play-bills. I am passionately fond of the theatre; and in spite of the present adoption of " Jeremiah's lamentations” on the “ decline of the drama,” there are a great multitude, to use an established phrase, “ who will enter into my feelings." I am afraid that this said drama, like every thing else in the present time, must lay aside something of its former kingly pomp. The crown and sceptre in real life are consigned to the Tower, and I fear in the theatre they must be consigned to the treasury, kept by the sword with which Kean acted Richard III., “ glorious memorials of the royal past." No more will
“Gorgeous tragedy, in sceptred pall, come sweeping by." But I believe that the sphere of action will be made more intense by its wider range; there will always be passion, crime, and sorrow enough in the human heart for tragic materials. But I was going to speak of the pantomimes--those visions of fairy-land--those legacies left us by
the genii of old. Talk of travelling, who needs to travel while Stanfield and Grieve are greater than Mahomet, for they bring the mountain to us. I have seen the Falls of Niagara—I have looked on the Pyramids of Egypt-I am acquainted with old London Bridge. Take your children to the play by all means; they will go through a whole course of geography, and useful knowledge is the mania of to-day.
" What a delicious life,” I heard the greatest author that we have remark, “is the existence of Harlequin and Columbine; it is the ideal of youth, liberty and love-dancing over the earth with those buoyant spirits only known to the young—their gaiety breaking out in a thousand fantastic pranks-perpetually changing the scene—beautiful and beloved —
* Fate could not weave more silken web.'” He spoke only in badinage; they are far too well off to be comfortable. It is an old belief of mine, and one which all my experience confirms, that we enjoy no pleasure so much as we do tormenting ourselves. I believe this to be the secret of half the monastic penances.
As I sat out with being candid, I must now confess to the only want at the close of the London winter; snow-drops cannot be enjoyed in their full perfection. That we dwellers in town have the most beautiful as well as the greatest delight in flowers, I intend proving during the next season. But snow-drops I must give up; they are the only flowers that will not bear being gathered, and as to those in pots, I have a bad opinion of any one's principles who could consign them to those earthy dungeons. No, there is but one place in the world for snowdrops—an old avenue—whose leafless boughs show the nests of the rooks above, and above them again the grey sky. Let the ground below be covered with those white and fragile heads, which droop so fair and 80 cold. Holier steps than yours have, ages ago, pressed down those delicate stalks; for it is well known that snow-drops were planted in profusion in the gardens of the old monasteries-Les extrêmes touchent; and from
“ The vestal flower which grew
Beneath the vestal's eye,” I must go on to “annals writ upon the crimson rose;" and here is debateable ground. Does St. Valentine belong to this season or the next? Poetry connects the “gentle saint” with spring. The Almanac decides that his anniversary belongs to winter. I, out of compliment to Shakspeare, who avers, that “all is well that ends well, close my winter manifesto with St. Valentine. I fear, however, little remains of his ancient honours, save a laugh. Heavens! the huge hearts, stuck through with arrows, spitted ready for roasting; the red and round cupids, the over-fed doves, with which the windows now abound; and then the verses, dieu merci !—fires are not yet left off, so they can be burnt with all possible dispatch. Is there anything in Bath paper adverse to the expression of the tender passion ? Every now and then the newspapers give us specimens of love-letters, almost too good to be true; and yet they are equally genuine and general. Every one has some pet project-mine is to publish “A Complete Love-letter Writer," suited to ninety-nine occasions—the hundredth people may manage for themselves. In the meantime, I beg to submit a specimen. I have taken up the French writer's assertion, that love is an “égoïsme
en deux personnes.” Pattern love-letter-"I-I-I-you-you-you; you-you-you--1-1-1,” garnished with loves and doves ad libitum.
SPRING—“ When conscious beauty puts on all her charms.” I really do not understand what people can want who do not find all they wish in London just now.
you like music ?—the prima donna of all Europe is engaged after Easter. I always consider it an event in my life having seen Pasta, with her inspired eyes and classic brow; she gives the idea of a Grecian statue, stepped from its pedestal and animated with the fire of genius. A clever writer in a contemporary reproaches her as only personifying the “ haggard queen.” Now, I feel, from the different sensations I experience, how different are the characters that she embodies. Look at the superb defiance of Fate itself with which she approaches the tomb of Ninus, as the hitherto all-triumphant Semiramide. In Anna Boleyn how exquisite are the transitions from, first, the blank look of idiotcy, so terribly true; then the innocent and engaging expression of childhood, so confident in its own happiness; and at last, the flash of reason which brings frenzy with it. Who that has heard it, but has thrilled at that most touching reproach wrung from the stricken soul of love, the “io” of her Medea ;- but the working up of the scene is equal to the great effect. There is true knowledge of woman's heart in the timidity with which she approaches the beloved Greek. No one ever deeply loved without thinking themselves unworthy of their idol; and Medea, the royal, the beautiful, and the gifted, is meek and subdued in the presence of Jason. Gradually, the recollection of her sacrifices and her wrongs rouse her to a juster sense of her own claims; she knows the vast wealth of her love, and feels that such a heart might well be the world to that recreant lover. I confess, I speak of her only as an actress; I am incompetent to judge of her as a singer ; I only like the most simple melody, and require to hear an air often; I ask association from music; I confess a partiality to barrel organs, and clarionets, and ballads, and other “street harmonies.” That composer felt as well as knew his science, who always asked of any new air, “ If it would grind well?”
Moore says, that, in the Malay language, the same word expresses woman and flowers; if so, it is the prettiest compliment ever paid the not that any one of them will be grateful for it, for who cares for a general compliment more than a general lover. Just, however, at this season, the Malay tongue might be used in London. How many sweet, bright, and lovely faces pass us by! Most women look well in their bonnets; and as for the other sort of flowers, we have them in profusion and perfection-such exquisite violets, such delicate lilies of the valley, such a rainbow world of hyacinths as now fill the rooms with perfume. How often at the end of morning with the fashionable world-afternoon with the more quiet part of the community—and evening with the very respectable indeed
cavalier may be seen curbing a horse “impatient of the rein," at the nursery-grounds of the King's Road, till a bouquet of the most fragrant exotics is brought out. It does not ask much imagination to read a history of sighs, smiles, and blushes on every leaf. But I have less to say for the spring than for any other season; it has a name, which is tantamount to everything in this world -all know the pretensions of a London spring. SUMMER.-Nothing can be so pleasant as London in the summer. It