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what would it reduce us—this notion of an establishment that should be adapted to our cognominal circumstances !" To some · Higginbuthan House,' in Brunswick or Mecklenburgh Square, with one window beside the door, and two upwards; with a narrow slip of drawingroom, which, by its double fireplace and disproportionate folding-door, wuuld fain persuade you it is capable of being subdivided into two; and a steep narrow staircase, sadly circumscribing the exploded and civic gallantry of your guests, as each pseudo-gentleman escorted a fat lady upon his arm to the twelve-feet-square dining room. Here would your door be opened for you in the morning by your sole undersized servant in a sky-blue-livery with a silver shoulder-knot ; you would step into your pea-green gig with brass harness, to be conveyed every murning to St. Mary Axe; and be received on your return to your five o'clock dinner by a pal--faced wite with a red nose, a bushel of scarlet and yellow flowers in her straggling self-adjusted locks, her vulgaily fine clothes being all cut out by herself, and nearly as ill-made as the maker; who would pour sauce made of salt butter over your fish, and inquire whether she should help you to broccilo with your mutton. Such is your beau ideal of suiting the action to the word.' No, no, my dear Mark, I cannot, thank Heaven, bring myself down to my Dame, and we must, therefore, adopt the pleasanter alternative of elevating the name by the taste and splendour of the establishment to which it will be appended."
Having found by experience that the only way to be complete master of my own house is to resign its entire management to my wife, I gave her a carte blanche for the decoration of our new mansion in Grosvenor-square; and as the upholster probably knew that I had a deep purse and a shallow wit (which I disguised under the veil of a goudnatured generosity, in the settlement of accounts,) I hold him responsible for the over-gorgeousness of the gildings, the gaudy magnificence of the hangings, the ponderous finery of the furniture, and all the gew-gaw faring ostentation of rose-wood overlaid with buhl, and sattin-wood bedizened with or-molu. As for the designs, the forms, the taste—these my wife as eagerly claimed for herself as if any rational being would have been disposed to contest her right. I know Dot what demon whispered her to have a taste, unless it might be some genius of the menagerie. But that I pay so much more for admission into their company, I could almost fancy myself, as I parade my splendid rooms, to be perambulating amid the wild beasts of Exeter Change; and I mournfully anticipate the ridicule as well as the impoverishment of Pope's Sir Visto. The crest of the Somers family, which I still retain, is a bear rampant, which ferocious figure presents itself to my eye in such threatening variety that I live in perpetual dread of the fate inflicted by his living prototype of the Jardin des Plantes upon the unfortunate Parisian who came within his gripe. If I lounge in my arm chair, two uplifted paws are ready to plunge their talons in the calf of each leg, while an open mouth, snarling with sharp carnivorous teeth, gapes upwards to catch my overhanging hand. Sofas, consoles, commodes, ottomans, and chiffoniers, all bristle with the same revolting ornament in such various modifications of size and material, that if Mr. Martin could carry his bill, and extend it to those who are baited by this animal, as well as to those who bait it, I seriously apprehend my tormentors would be punishable by law. But this is by no means the only monster with which I am haunted. Sprawling dragons seem to be hissing at me from each end of the curtain-pole; gorgons and chimæras gnash their teeth at me from the arabesque compartments of the papered wall; I am actually obliged to sit down upon the griffins and hippogrifs of the furniture with which my chairs are covered, and there is not a handle in the house which does not represent some hideous form, and make me shudder and revolt as it touches my fingers. “ The rich buffet well coloured serpents grace ;" the everlasting bear offers itself to my hand from every article of the china dinnerservice; a grinning salamander forms the very appropriate termination of the shovel, poker, and tongs ; I am obliged to grasp every silver tankard by a twisted snake, as if I could handle them with as much impunity as one of the Libyan Psylli : every time I lift my winecoolers I thrust my fingers into a satyr's jaws; and as if the heads of these various monsters were not enough, there is scarcely an article in the house, from the drawing-room table to the foot-stool, which is not supported by the protruding paws of a wild beast, or the claws of some enormous bird.
But there are classical nuisances about my mansion, which sicken me at my meals by their still more disgusting associations. An Argyll pours me out hot gravy from the entrails of a silver mermaid; I have a great regard for the god Pan, but I like not to have my beer, which I am still vulgar enough to drink, vomited from his open jaws; and though I reverence the character of a Naiad, it irketh me to see her eject from her silvery mouth the cream which I am just about to swallow. In the ardour of her astronomical taste, it pleased my spouse to have the signs of the zodiac painted upon our dinner plates, so that I have the pleasant notion of always having a crab and a scorpion in my dish, while I smear irreverent lobster sauce over the celestial fishes, cut the throat of the ram and bull with my truculent knise, stick my fork into the left eye of Aquarius or the right one of Sagittarius, and daub with half-cold fat the features of the smiling virgin or the interesting twins; and if I retire to my dressing-room to purify my hands after this wanton butchery, I am again sickened with a marble shell, into which, as Pope has somewhat coarsely expressed it,
“ Two gaping tritons spew to wash your face.” Even at tea-time I am not unmolested. A kneeling Atlas supports the hissing urn upon his naked shoulders, exciting my commiseration by the notion that he must be suffering the torture of this scalding infliction at the same moment that my little boy Alfred is tickling the sole of his outstretched bronze foot, and wondering that he cannot make him laugh. In ringing the bell to have this painful object removed, I must once more clutch at a circular serpent devouring his own tail ; nor can I knock 'at my own street-door without raising a Medusa's head, horrent with snakes, and striking against the frontal bone of a minotaur, who seems to be roaring at me as I rap.
It will be thought that I am either singularly unfortunate in my establishment, or marvellously disposed to be querulous, when I state that these annoyances, irritating as they are to a man of my nervous temperament, are by no means the most intolerable of those that I am doomed to experience. Fashion has been pleased to decree that our drawingrooms shall be overlaid, and littered, and lumbered with every species of trumpery rubbish known by the name of nick-nacks and curiosities; and my wife has been pleased to decree that her own apartments shall in this respect stand perfectly unrivalled. For the good of my fellowcreatures I sincerely hope that they are so, for I would not wantonly inflict upon others the daily martyrdom which I myself experience. I fear, however, that there are too many victims to this mania, for the great increase of “ curiosity shops," as they are technically called, of which I believe there are a dozen in Regent-street and the Quadrant alone, affords a fearful evidence that our superfluous wealth is taking this childish and fantastic direction. From the wild beasts with which they were studded, I used to compare my rooms to Noah's Ark; but methinks they now rather wear the semblance of a broker's in Moorfields, or a Brobodignaggian baby-house, or a cosmopolitan lumber-room, where all the uncouth, grotesque and barbarous crinkum-crankums, gew-gaws and toys, that have been cast away as worse than worthless, have been diligently collected to form a miserable museum. Of such wretched varieties, scarce because but few people have been fools enough to manufacture them, my wife is an eager and everlasting purchaser. Ebony stands and Japan tables of all calibres are loaded with sonorous gongs, shells, Chinese shoes, glass cases of humming birds and butterflies, huge China jars and bowls, and Lilliputian tea-cups (all equally invaluable because all equally useless), Manderins nodding their heads at me as if in mockery, tun-bellied idols, bits of lapis lazuli and malachite, jasper and soap-stone, and geological specimens arranged in frames by Mr. Mawe, and figures of bisquit and alabaster, and little boxes of French bonbons, and every thing, in short, that can be either named or imagined, provided always that it be neither useful nos ornamental. Conceive the horror of a stout gentleman like myself, being obliged to move edgeways through my own rooms, in momentary apprehension of occasioning a smash of porcelain, and knowing by sad experience that my wife is by no means “ Mistress of herself though China fall.” O how have I been taunted and twitted with my gaucherie, as I attempted to squeeze my unwieldy figure through the straits and defiles of this bazaar; and with what sorry jokes have I attempted to retaliate the attacks to which I was exposed ! take care, Mr. Higginbotham, you are rubbing against that beautiful bowl.” “ Those who play at bowls, my dear, must expect rubbers.” “If you knock down that China Joss, I shall never be able to buy another so cheap.” “ There you are mistaken, my dear, for after a fall you always buy things cheaper”—(By the by, I admire at her calling such a bauble cheap, for I remember the auctioneer of Pall Mall, exclaiming as his hammer fell—“unly twainty-four guineas and a haif.") “Good gracious ! Mr. Higginbotham, one would really think you were tipsy; you will certainly knock down that Mazarine cup.” “And how can I do better, if I have had a cup too much ?” Miserable jokes, but how could they be otherwise when the utterer was kept in a state of perpetual misery?
Nor have my guests and visitors less reason to complain than the unfortunate wight who is thus baited and beleaguered in his own house. My friend, Admiral Binnacle, whose wooden leg describes a Vol. X. No. 56.-1825.
horizontal parabola of some extent, lately tipped down a japan table, covered with a whole wilderness of china monkeys, and though my wife really bore the calamity with firmness, the worthy Admiral, who naturally concluded they were invaluable, because they were both frightful and useless, was proportionably affected by the catastrophe, asking me, however, in a parting whisper, whether I felt authorised to set steel-traps and spring-guns in such a public thoroughfare. Old Lady Dotterel's poodle, on the very following day, jumping upon a cabinet to snap at a plumpudding-stone, made frightful havoc, shivering to atoms a china shepherd in pink tiffany ineffables, blue silk stockings, a gilt-edged cocked hat, a yellow satin waistcoat, and a flowered jacket, who from an arbour of green and silver foil, looked tenderly out upon a couple of tinsel sheep with golden hoofs, forming altogether, as my wife had often maintained, the sweetest and most natural scene of the pastoral she had ever witnessed. And what was more provoking than all, the four-footed author of the mischief, having ensconced himself behind a nest of glass-cases, and threatening to run a muck if he were maltreated, was obliged to be coaxed out of his sanctuary with a large piece of pound cake, which the unfeeling brute seemed to consider a very satisfactory set off against the plumpudding stone. Scarcely a day elapses but I hear a smash, a slap, and a squall, when the angry exclamation of “mischievous little monkey !” or “ careless little hussey !" convinces me that either Alfred or Matilda have thrown down some worthless invaluable in threading this Cretan labyrinth. From squabbles with visitors and children, I am only relieved by perpetual altercations with the servants, who are so frequently accused of purloining, breaking, or misplacing some of our troublesome trumpery, that I am constantly presented with sulky looks and new faces. Forlorn as is the hope, I actually look forward with pleasure to the time when, my means becoming exhausted sooner than my wife's rage for collection, my museum must come to the hammer, like those of Fonthill, Wanstead, and so many others ; and in the mean time, I live under the conviction, that one of the most pitiable objects in creation is the husband of a curiosity-collecting wife, and the keeper of an amateur bazaar.
TO THE SPIRIT OF THE FOREST.
Spirit of these wild groves and dells !