Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

LONDON I DYLS.

No. I.

Scene-Pall-Mall and St. James's-street.

DAMON-SYLVIA.

Damon and Sylvia had, from earliest youth, been linked in friendship’s bonds; and as they grew in years that friendship ripened into a tenderer feeling. Their anxious parents watched the mutual flame, and cherished it-for they were equals in the world; and Love and Fortune -blind as they are painted-seemed for once united in rewarding two fond hearts.

The day arrived to which they had so long looked forward, when Hymen was to sanctify their plighted vows. It was a lovely morningthe birds sang sweetly—and the gentle Sylvia, in her bridal robe, her fair hair intertwined with orange flowers, her mantling blushes hid beneath her flowing veil, knelt before the altar. Damon was by her side. The bishop breathed a blessing on their bowed-down heads, and prayers were offered for their future happiness. The bells rang merrily—the sparkling favours fluttered in the breeze—the jocund guests smiled on the happy pair—and Damon and Sylvia were the pride and envy of the gazing throng.

The early life of gentle Sylvia had been passed in rural scenes ; she never had tasted of the pleasures which the town affords ; nor was it until four short weeks of cloudless happiness had passed across her bridal brow that she had ever seen the mighty city where she now was dwelling. Every object was new to her; all she saw or heard attracted her attention and awakened her curiosity. It was Damon's pleasing task to teach her where to rove amongst its mazy labyrinths—to show her the busy haunts of men, and fill her young mind with new ideas.

Behold them now, installed in lodgings near the corner of Pall-Mall, The Palace clock-long absent, now restored, hung high above Sir Charles Wade Thornton, Lady Westmeath, and the maids of honourwas striking three, when Damon, leading Sylvia down the steps next door but one to Sams's shop, thus whispered gently in her ear.

Damon. The sun is bright-the sky is clear-the south breeze gently blows, my love. Come forth, my Sylvia; let us seek the higher ground of Piccadilly.

Sylvia. Too gladly will I go, my dear; but what is Piccadilly ?

Damon. A street; so named, my Sylvia, not, as perhaps you might suppose, from any peccadilloes there committed, but from a game so called, in which, in other days, the villagers delighted. Come, let me lead you.

Sylvia (turning the corner). Oh, Damon, what a lovely place! Is this St. James's-street?

Damon. It is, my dearest. That white house, at the corner, was a hotel, bought by Lord Middleton one day, and up for sale the next; the man who dwells below, makes bugles; and as he makes he tries them. Sweet is the hunter's horn in glades like those we used to haunt; under one's breakfast-parlour such a din is most discordant: his Lordship liked it not, and left it. That door is Graham's, where they play at whist; and as in tother case, whene'er they doubt about a trick they trump it. The next is Cary's map-shop;-but stay, we'll wander up this side, and view its charms, and so return along the shade of t’other.

Sylvia. E'en as you will; be you my guide.
Damon. This is the coffee-mill.
Sylvia. You speak in riddles : I can see no mill.

Damon. This grocer's shop, where Alvanley and Nugent, Sefton, Massy Dawson, Petre, Thornhill, and Lord Sligo go to be weighed. The scales with skill are poised ; and each plump peer is poised in one, and many ponderous lumps in tother. See, Sylvia, where the crimson cords denote the place of privilege!

Sylvia. Strange custom, sure, this way of weighing.

Damon. Just by the door you see that horizontal aperture; that is the box belonging to the Post-Office. In that are dropped the hopes of lovers and the fears of maidens; orders for candlesticks; letters to Lord Grey; prescriptions for the gout; proofs for the press; counsel for sons, and hints for daughters; answers to dunning tradesmen; twaddle from dark-blue women, and advice from deep-read men.

Sylvia. Oh, talk not so, my Damon! Where dwell these tribes of red and blue ?

Damon. Sweet innocence, unparalleled ! My gentle Sylvia, you shall know them all in time. This is the new bazaar of Crockford.

Sylvia. It is a goodly temple.

Damon. Its votaries are few. 'Tis pleasant, now and then, to roam along its paths, and steal beside the counters where the fair-haired dam; sels sit.

Sylvia. Steal! Do they ?

Damon. At times, my Sylvia. Ladies there be who have a taking way with them. But say no more. This house is Farquhar's bank, whence see those busy people drawing gold, to keep all things alive. Healy, a skilful leech-Nicholls, the stock-maker—and Nugee, the tailor -cluster around its base; and Lewis, christened Kensington, displays rich store of silver plate, both " new and second-hand.”

Sylvia. Oh, pleasing sight!

Damon. Here is poor Gilray's favourite shop, long kept by Mrs. Humphries; and here the Athenæum.

Sylvia. What! where the Judges, Bishops, Deans, and Doctors dwell ?

Damon. No, dearest love; that is below, just down by Carlton-gardens, whither to-morrow we will roam. This bears the name, indeed; but else no likeness to those realms of soft repose and gentle dulness, over which Minerva, in her state, presides.

Sylvia. And what tall house is this?
Damon. 'Tis Boodle's.
Sylvia. Say, Damon, what are Boodles ?

Damon. Men in uncouth great-coats-perhaps in spencers, with brown-topped boots or long cloth gaiters on their legs, with whips or sticks in hand, and broad-rimmed hats upon their heads, with now and then a small pig-tail behind protruding. They wear buff waistcoats, sometimes striped and sometimes plain ; even scarlet may be seen in winter spread o'er their broad expansive fronts, with powder in their hair-elsewhere exploded

Sylvia. Strange creatures!

Damon. Here is a shop for curiosities—full of temptation, Sylvia. See, four china vases and a porcelain dog, two Indian screens, a kris and half-a-score of fans, a crimson pan of fish and counters, a dozen unmatched cups and saucers, pierced ivory balls, and snakes preserved, three Sandwich Island spears, a mandarin and wife, two josses and a hookah, a stuffed macaw, a silver tankard, and a portrait of Lord Henry Petty, now Lord Lansdown.

Sylvia. I scarce can trust my eyes with such variety.

Damon. Triphook the bookseller lives here, once landlord to the Duke of Marlborough; and this is Evans's, late Cunningham and Evans, nearly related to the Cunningham of Harrow, who wrote the "Velvet Cushion.” Look, Sylvia, this is White's; in yon bay-window stand the gallant Horace, and the handsome Forrester, the kind and witty Alvanley, the noble Worcester, pungent Sir Joseph, and the gay Glengall, the “ King,” the “ Kang,” the “ Colonel,” Archy Macdonald, and Sir Andrew Barnard.

Sylvia. A goodly group--what do they there?
Damon. Look out and watch, and

“ tell their tales

Of every passing passenger." Sylvia. In sooth, 'tis gentle pastime.

Damon. Come, Sylvia, come-we're now in Piccadilly; return we by the other side, and so, beneath the shade of Hoby's shop, retrace our steps to Pall-mall corner. The Guards rest here--to whom their countrymen stand largely bound in debts of gratitude. 'Tis here they

unfatigue” themselves from all the toils of war. And this is Crockford's.

Sylvia. 'Tis a palace.

Damon. This is the coffee-room, and that the morning-room. See, o'er the blind, the blooming Wombwell, William Lennox, Castlereagh, and Thynne, Tom Duncombe, Henry Fitzroy, Craven Berkeley, Maxse, Fane, and Sidney.

Sylvia. Do they, too, pass their days in gazing on the street ?

Damon. Their days, my dearest—but at night they sometimes play at hazard.

Sylvia. Oh, tell me, what is hazard ?

Ďamon. A simple game, played thus :-A smiling group of goodly swains sit round a table covered with a cloth, and padded, so that too much noise shall not assail the ear, and marked with pour et contrefor and against, or words to that effect. On one side is the banker, with great store of counters, representing money; to him opposed sits, as croupier, the man who calls the main and chance, and aids the banker in his drafts and payments.

Sylvia. What is a main, and what a chance ?

Damon. The player holds a box, in which he puts two dice. He shakes it, and before he strikes it on the table, calls a number—that is the main. He throws; and if he nick it not, the number which he throws becomes his chance against the main he called.

Sylvia. Pr’ythee go on- I love to hear thee; I could listen all the day to such sweet prattle. Damon. Eleven's the nick to seven-twelve to six or eight; but

66

[merged small][ocr errors]

calling seven," twelve” is crabs, and so "eleven" is to six or eight; deuce, ace, and aces always are.

Sylvia. Say, Damon, might I join this pleasant sport?

Damon. Such things are done ; but by the sacred vow that binds us to each other, I do adjure thee, touch not the box. Take a fond husband's anxious counsel, and when you have the opportunity, play not yourself, but bet, and back the caster out!

Sylvia. Oh! virtuous Damon, trust me.—What's here?

Damon. 'Tis Willis's, the Musical Saloon, where playing of a different sort goes on.

These are hotels—this the Colonial Club, where broken merchants and much-injured planters mourn the march of cant and innovation and this is Brookes's.

Sylvia. Oh! I have heard of this, even in Devon's clustering groves. I

pray thee tarry not, but let us hasten on.

Damon. This is Park Place. Lord Suffield's is the house that faces you; that on the left Lord Worcester's; opposite is Horace Twiss's, once Under Secretary of State, and Member of the Commons House of Parliament, still a King's Counsel, learned in the law, and Bencher of the Inner Temple. Next door lived Alvanley, the witty and kind-hearted his house is now converted to the uses of a club; and nearer, by one door, lives Lord De Ros, the winner of all hearts, and premier baron of the realm; that white house is the Melton, where they copy Crockford's on a smaller scale. Regain we now the street—this is the Cocoa Tree, called by maligning knaves “ Sots' Hole;' in it they drink a liquor called gin-punch, by Ragget made, who for no price will sell the secret of its composition—iced in a summer's evening, Sylvia, 'tis “fit for Juno when she banquets."

Sylvia. It will soon be summer, Damon, now.
Damon. See here, St. James's Place.
Sylvia. Whither leads this path?

Damon. Up to Lord Spencer's. Come thread its wilds.—That white bay-window is Colquhoun's, the Hanse Towns minister and agent for West India Islands; a worthy man. The corner house is Hodgson's, late member for the town of Barnstaple; and that is Burdett's. Next door lives Rogers, bard of Memory: that passage underneath his house is closely locked at his desire; the Muses of the park and Wood-nymphs wild so loved to haunt his magic cell, that he was forced to bar them out. That large house is Lord Spencer's, father of Lord Althorp. See here, my Sylvia; this is Cleveland Court,—“a shady, blest retreat." That house was Villiers's, Commissioner of customs once, but now ambassador in Spain. The next is Frederick Byng's.

Sylvia. Is he a Boodle ?

Damon. No; he is much too young, and too agreeable to be doomed to Boodleism yet. See, we have reached St. James's-street again, This house is Arthur's.

Sylvia. What! The Duke of Wellington's ?

Damon. No, dear; a club so called, where, when they dine, they lock the door, lest prowling wolves should snatch away their food. That lengthened building is the Thatched House called.

Sylvia. I see no thatch.
Dainon. The crust is off the pie, my

Silvia
Sylvia. made, as they say, like promises of lovers, to be broken.

Damon. You should not say so. Those spacious rooms hold companies at dinner. The Catch Club, Dilettanti, and Freemasons, who, though the house be thatched, there tile their lodges. It is by Willis kept, to whom belong the rooms called Almack’s.

Sylvia. Shall I see those ?

Damon. Please Fate and Lady Londonderry, yes. Next Wednesday. That lofty window is the Albion Club,—a welcome refuge for the destitute, and called by those who know its merits, the Asylum. The next is Cary's map-shop. And now we are back again at Graham's. But, lo! I see the carriage at the door, and Wilkins waiting our return. Haste we to taste the balmy air of Kensington. To-morrow we will stroll again, and I will show you more of this great town.

Sylvia. Oh, prithee do! The music of the spheres is not so sweet as thy dear voice when telling me its wonders. Damon. Come, dearest, come.

Cheerfully did the fair-haired Sylvia obey the summons of her Damon. They reached the carriage-door; she leant upon his proffered arm, stepped in, and took her seat; he gazed upon her for a moment, then followed her. “To Kensington,” he said, and in an instant they were on their

way. Oh, happy Damon! Sylvia, fairest of the fair!

MARTIAL IN LONDON.

VIII. On certain printed Conversations " between a Viscount and a Countess.

In letters, these colloquies make us all see

That women are equal to men:
The titles of either begin with a B,

And each of them ends with an N.
What he says to her, the whole Town understand

As the impulse of spleen or of whim;
But the Bane has an Antidote ready at hand,

In the Sense of what she says to him.

IX

On the sume Viscount,
“ He flatter'd in youth, he lampoon'd in his prime,

Quoth Memory's Bard of our poet ;
But the fault was not his, 'twas a deed done by Time,

My very next stanza shall show it.
Whoever has sported on Tempe's green lawn,

Has found out the truth of the matter ;
'Tis plain that, by law mythologic, a Faun

In process of time grows a Satyr.

« НазадПродовжити »