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me! Remorse, Remembrance, &c., come in the night season, and I feel you gnawing, gnawing !
I tell you that man's face was like Laocoon's (which, by the way. I always think overrated. The real head is at Brussels, at the Duke Daremberg's, not at Rome).
That man ! What man ? That man of whom I said that his magnificent countenance exhibited the noblest tragic woe. He was not of European blood. He was handsome, but not of European beauty. His face white--not of a Northern whiteness; his eyes protruding somewhat, and rolling in their grief. Those eyes had seen the Orient sun, and his beak was the eagle's. His lips were full. The beard, curling round them, was unkempt and tawny. The locks were of a deep, deep cop
The hands, swart and powerful, accustomed to the rough grasp of the wares in which he dealt, seemed unused to the flimsy artifices of the bath. He came from the Wilderness, and its sands were on his robe, his cheek, his tattered sandal, and the hardy foot it covered.
And his grief-whence came his sorrow? I will tell you. He bore it in his hand. He had evidently just concluded the compact by which it became his. His business was that of a purchaser of domestic raiment. At early dawn—nay, at what hour when the City is alive-do we not all hear the nasal cry of “Clo?” In Paris, Habits Galons, Marchand d'habits, is the twanging signal with which the wandering merchant makes his presence known. It was in Paris I saw this man. Where else have I not seen him ? In the Roman Ghetto—at the Gate of David, in his fathers' once imperial city. The man I mean was an itinerant vendor and purchaser of wardrobes—what you call an
Enough! You know his name. On his left shoulder hung his bag; and he held in that hand a white hat, which I am sure he had just purchased, and which was the cause of the grief which smote his noble features. Of course I cannot particularize the sum, but he had given too much for that hat. He felt he might have got the thing for less money. It was not the amount, I am sure ; it was the principle involved. He had given fourpence (let us say) for that which threepence would have purchased. He had been done : and a manly shame was upon him, that he, whose energy, acuteness, experience, point of honor, should have made him the victor in any mercantile duel in which he should engage, had been overcome by a porter's wife, who very likely sold him the old hat, or by a student who was tired of it. I can understand his grief. Do I seem to be speaking of it in a
disrespectful or flippant way? Then you mistake me. He had been outwitted. He had desired, coaxed, schemed, hag. gled, got what he wanted, and now found he had paid too much for his bargain. You don't suppose I would ask you to laugh at that man's grief? It is you, clumsy cynic, who are disposed to sneer, whilst it may be tears of genuine sympathy are trickling down this nose of mine. What do you mean by laughing? If you saw a wounded soldier on the field of battle, would you laugh ? If you saw a ewe robbed of her lamb, would you laugh, you brute? It is you who are the cynic, and have no feeling : and you sneer because that grief is unintelligible to you which touches my finer sensibility. The OldCLOTHES’-Man had been defeated in one of the daily battles of his most interesting, checkered, adventurous life.
Have you ever figured to yourself what such a life must be? The pursuit and the conquest of twopence must be the most eager and fascinating of occupations. We might all engage in that business if we would. Do not whist-players, for example, toil, and think, and lose their temper over sixpenny points ? They bring study, natural genius, long fore thought, memory, and careful historical experience to bear upon their favorite labor. Don't tell me that it is the sixpenny points, and five shillings the rub, which keeps them for hours over their painted pasteboard. It is the desire to conquer. Hours pass by. Night glooms. Dawn, it may be, rises unheeded; and they sit calling for fresh cards at the "Portland," or the “Union," while waning candles splutter in the sockets, and languid waiters snooze in the ante-room. Sol rises. Jones has lost four pounds : Brown has won two; Robinson lurks away to his family house and (mayhap, indignant) Mrs. R. Hours of evening, night, morning, have passed away whilst they have been waging this sixpenny battle. What is the loss of four pounds to Jones, the gain of two to Brown ? B. is, perhaps, so rich that two pounds more or less are as naught to him ; J. is so hopelessly involved that to win four pounds cannot benefit his creditors, or alter his condition ; but they play for that stake : they put forward their best energies : they ruff, finesse (what are the technical words, and how do I know?). It is but a sixpenny game if you like ; but they want to win it. So as regards my friend yonder with the hat. He stakes his money: he wishes to win the game, not the hat merely. I am not prepared to say that he is not inspired by a noble ambition. Cæsar wished to be first in a village. If first of a hundred yokels, why not
first of two ? And my friend the old-clothes’-man wishes to win his game, as well as to turn his little sixpence.
Suppose in the game of life — and it is but a twopenny game after all-you are equally eager of winning. Shall you be ashamed of your ambition, or glory in it? There are games, too, which are becoming to particular periods of life. I remember in the days of our youth, when my friend Arthur Bowler was an eminent cricketer. Slim, swift, strong, wellbuilt, he presented a goodly appearance on the ground in his Aannel uniform. Militâsti non sine gloria, Bowler my boy! Hush ! We tell no tales. Mum is the word. Yonder comes Charley his son. Now Charles his son has taken the field, and is famous among the eleven of his school. Bowler senior, with his capacious waistcoat, &c., waddling after a ball, would present an absurd object, whereas it does the eyes good to see Bowler junior scouring the plain—a young exemplar of joyful health, vigor, activity. The old boy wisely contents himself with amusements more becoming his age and waist ; takes his sober ride; visits his farm soberly-busies himself about his pigs, his ploughing, his peaches, or what not ? Very small routinier amusements interest him ; and (thank goodness !) nature provides very kindly for kindly-disposed fogies. We relish those things which we scorned in our lusty youth. I see the young folks of an evening kindling and glowing over their delicious novels. I look up and watch the eager eye flashing down the page, being, for my part, perfectly contented with my twaddling old volume of “Howel's Letters," or the Gentleman's Magazine. I am actually arrived at such a calm frame of mind that I like batter-pudding. I never should have believed it possible ; but it is so. Yet a little while, and I may relish water-gruel. It will be the age of mon lait de poule et mon bonnet de nuit. And then—the cotton extinguisher is pulled over the old noddle, and the little flame of life is popped out.
Don't you know elderly people who make learned notes in Army Lists, Peerages, and the like? This is the batter-pudding, water-gruel of old age. The worn-out digestion does not care for stronger food. Formerly it could swallow twelvehours' tough reading, and digest an encyclopædia.
If I had children to educate, I would, at ten or twelve years of age, have a professor, or professoress, of whist for them, and cause them to be well grounded in that great and
You cannot learn it well when you are old, any more than you can learn dancing or billiards. In our house at home we youngsters did not play whist because we were dear
obedient children, and the elders said playing at cards was waste of time." A waste of time, my good people! Allons ! What do elderly home-keeping people do of a night after dinner? Darby gets his newspaper ; my dear Joan her Missionary Magazine or her volume of Cumming's Sermons--and don't you know what ensues ? Over the arm of Darby's arm-chair the paper Autters to the ground unheeded, and he performs the trumpet obbligato que vous savez on his old nose. My dear old Joan's head nods over her sermon (awakening though the doctrine may be). Ding, ding, ding : can that be ten o'clock? It is time to send the servants to bed, my dear-and to bed master and mistress go too. But they have not wasted their time playing at cards. Oh, no! I belong to a Club where there is whist of a night ; and not a little amusing is it to hear Brown speak of Thompson's play, and vice versa. there is one man-Greatorex let us call him—who is the acknowledged Captain and primus of all the whist-players. We all secretly admire him. I, for my part, watch him in private life, hearken to what he says, note what he orders for dinner, and have that feeling of awe for him that I used to have as a boy for the cock of the school. Not play at whist? “ Quelle triste vieillesse vous vous préparez !” were the words of the great and good Bishop of Autun. I can't. It is too late now. Too late! too late! Ah! humiliating confession! That joy might have been clutched, but the life-stream has swept us by it-the swift life-stream rushing to the nearing sea.
Too late! too late! Twentystone my boy! When you read in the papers “Valse à deux temps," and all the fashionable dances taught to adults by “Miss Lightfoots,” don't you feel that you would like to go in and learn? Ah, it is too late ! You have passed the choreas, Master Twentystone, and the young people are dancing without you.
I don't believe much of what my Lord Byron the poet says; but when he wrote, “So, for a good old gentlemanly vice, I think I shall put up with avarice," I think his lordship meant what he wrote, and if he practised what he preached, shall not quarrel with him. As an occupation in declining years, I declare I think saving is useful, amusing, and not unbecoming. It must be a perpetual amusement. It is a game that can be played by day, by night, at home and abroad, and at which you must win in the long run. I am tired and want a cab. The fare to my house, say, is two shillings. The cabman will naturally want half a crown. I pull out my book. I show him the distance is exactly three miles and fifteen hundred and ninety yards. I offer him niy card—my winning card. As he retires with the two shillings, blaspheming inwardly, every curse is a compliment to my skill. I have played him and beat him; and a sixpence is my spoil and just reward. This is a game, by the way, which women play far more cleverly than we do. But what an interest it imparts to life! During the whole drive home I know I shall have my game at the journey's end; am sure of my hand, and shall beat my adversary. Or I can play in another way. I won't have a cab at all, I will wait for the omnibus : I will be one of the damp fourteen in that steaming vehicle. I will wait about in the rain for an hour, and 'bus after 'bus shall pass, but I will not be beat. I will have a place, and get it at length, with my boots wet through, and an umbrella dripping between my legs. I have a rheumatism, a cold, a sore throat, a sulky evening,-a doctor's bill tomorrow perhaps? Yes, but I have won my game, and am gainer of a shilling on this rubber.
If you play this game all through life it is wonderful what daily interest'it has, and amusing occupation. For instance, my wife goes to sleep after dinner over her volume of sermons. As soon as the dear soul is sound asleep, I advance softly and puff out her candle. Her pure dreams will be all the happier without that light; and, say she sleeps an hour, there is a penny gained.
As for clothes, parblen! there is not much money to be saved in clothes, for the fact is, as a man advances in life-as he becomes an Ancient Briton (mark the pleasantry)—he goes without clothes. When my tailor proposes something in the way of a change of raiment, I laugh in his face. My blue coat and brass buttons will last these ten years. It is seedy? What
I don't want to charm anybody in particular. You say that my clothes are shabby? What do I care? When I wished to look well in somebody's eyes, the matter may have been different. But now, when I receive my bill of 1o1. (let us say) at the year's end, and contrast it with old tailor's reckonings, I feel that I have played the game with master tailor, and beat him ; and my old clothes are a token of the victory.
I do not like to give servants board-wages, though they are cheaper than household bills: but I know they save out of board wages, and so beat me. This shows that it is not the money but the game which interests me. So about wine. I have it good and dear. I will trouble you to tell me where to get it good and cheap. You may as well give me the address of a shop where I can buy meat for fourpence a pound, or