« AnteriorContinuar »
to say, very like a groan. Or when he heard a sally, or a facetious trait, his visage would spread apace; his eyes would close; and opening a mouth about the size of the pavilion of a French horn, he would cause to issue therefrom a prolonged sound which the horses outside would catch up and reëcho. But when Partout advised himself to enter upon a narration of unusually immense magnitude — an enterprise which was invariably announced by some species of moral legerdemain that the bottle-holder never failed to apprehend - the latter would show himself capable of a yet more emphatic demonstration. He ceased masticating altogether, and poised the handles of knife and fork upon the table in his clenched fists. Then, raising full opposite the speaker the square face, which all at once from some secret source began to beam with suggestiveness, he fell into the attitude of the idiotic figure on the extreme right of Thom's celebrated group of Tam o' Shanter. Did the story flag, he was there to relieve it with a cheerful chirp. Did it too wantonly transcend belief, there he was, all primed with some presumptive evidence, which he failed not to urge with all the corroborating force of a Druidical voice that seemed to say, “Doubt me if you dare. After which he would come to order again, and relapse into his habitual taciturnity.
RESTAURANT. The salon of a restaurateur is the Eden of gourmands. It likewise contains much that is worthy of observation. The only two things certain in life, appetite and ennui, make it an unfailing lounging-place for men of leisure; and, examined a little in detail, it offers to the eye of the philosopher a tableau, made worthy of interest by the variety of situations which it assembles.
But it is not my intention to be betrayed into making a catalogue raisonée of the frequenters who may bave come under my notice; although Ceres and Bacchus have numbered among their votaries many handsome women who embellished the repasts of which they partouk; and some of the other sex who caused their listeners to forget the mortal weakness that drew them hither in a flow of conversation which eloquently evidenced that Ariel's light presence is not necessarily dispelled by the rattle of unmusical steel.
But just as one of Lanner's liveliest airs had struck up from the adjacent pavilion, came the hour when the brotherhood of gamblers enjoy a brief respite from pale confinement. As they flocked in the munimentroom to recruit their exhausted forces for another campaign, it was painful to perceive how completely the unrewarded partisans of fortune seemed to have parted with nature's best gifts — their spirits as well as their purses. You might make shrewd conjectures as to the various successes of the new.comers by noting the character of the dishes they advocated. Pigeons, sweet-breads, forced-meats, and devilled kidneys, were in immense favor with the most melancholy-stricken; nor was there any lack of deep potations of the fiercest fluids that flow from the pleasant land of Cognac, Charlemagne, and Champagne,' whose light-hearted distillers assuredly never dreamed that the blood of their darling grape was being shed to make 'sops for Cerberus. On the other hand, dindes aux truffes, and garnishing accessories, seasoned with a nectarean iufu
sion of such Burgundy as one drinks between Dijon and Châlons, composed the more refreshing portion of an epicurean minority.
"Gassoon !' shouted a huge man with Hibernian features, who had been silently and grimly contemplating the bill of fare, to a waiter who wore suspended from his neck a placard, on which the announcement *Esglish SPOKEN' was inscribed in staring capitals.
Yaw Milord ! 'Yaw the divil! and ye call this English spoken,' do ye? Niver ye yaw a gintleman agin, ye spalpeen, or I'll chaw ye.'
"Yaw, milord !' exclaimed the polyglot menial, darting down into the lower realms, out of reach of the excitable Irishman. Whether he succeeded in concocting the species of tart in request, I know not; but judg. ing from the gratification inspired by his return, it was fair to presume that an excellent substitute, at least, was procured.
Was befehlen mein Herren?' stutters forth the little female garçon.
'Remove my egg instantly, and bring another !--- faugh! it is offensive!' shouts a German with a broad chest and forehead.
*But, Sir,' she remonstrates, after a nasal experiment upon the repudiated esculent, 'the egg is sound and fresh ; try it, Sir.'
* Try! do you wish to try my temper? Is it not enough that the egg is in bad odor with me? An egg, to be palatable, should be like Cæsar's WIFE!' thundered the exasperated German, rising; like the wife of Cæsar, I tell you — not to be tried : not to be proven pure; but above suspicion ; above reproach!'
At this sortie, which she takes almost for an insult, the little female garçon replies with a ja wohl, pronounced à la Saronne, containing at least a dozen 0-0-0-0, which may be translated, 'A pretty piece of impertinence, truly, in an establishment like ours!'
At length the beneficent influence of the scene began to be felt by the most ravenous and wrathful of the guests. Countenances lost much of their contraction as persons expanded. Six speculators near me, upon whone Fortune had turned the cold shoulder, now thoroughly warmed themselves by dint of environing and draining a foaming punch-bowl of true Bavarian dimensions, and were soon in fair train to make light of the heaviest blows that Chance could inflict. A single salad, just touched with the magic of Goutfin, restored to the bosom of society a Frenchman who had quite lost heart from long lunching on ill-luck. Three bottles of white-wine, limpid as water springing from a rock, and sparkling enough to create thirst in a mad-dog, effected miracles in a third group. Nor should I omit an honorable mention of a capon fricasée, so richly doweried with truffles that it might have sufficed to rejuvenate the old Tithonus : its efficacy elicited a perfect cascade of compliments from an old Spanish Don, who hitherto bad looked as if laboring under the combined effect of blue-pills and blue-devils. Many were arrived at that blessed state of self-félicitation when the great vacuum of the head would be inflated with the glorifying gas which ariseth from the fumes of wine. In fine, it appeared that Monsieur GOUTFIN bad fitted through the Assembly-rooms like a scavenger, appointed to sweep away the shades of sadness.
The quart d'heure de Rabelais was arrived. All this time our asthmatic but long-winded voyageur had not for a moment flagged in his narrations, to the immeasurable amusement of his nearest neighbor, a pig-headed German, who, as he now sat, gorged no less with his Saxon repast than with the discursive intelligence which he drank in from the lips of Partout, reminded me of the fat, foolish scullion' in Tristram Shandy. Evidently he had not read Munchausen ; else it is difficult to conceive why his pig-lead eyes should thus protrude until they threatened to drop out of their spheres into his gaping mouth, which remained so invitingly ajar while a tall bell-glass of Bohemian stood unemptied before him. A pale youth, whose flowing skeins of black silken hair and Salvator hat announced his profession, even if the never-abdicated portfolio at his side were not a sufficient confession of the artist, leaned over for a single moment un perceived, and dashed off a crayon-sketch of the arch-glutton, which he now held up to the public gaze.
A suppressed tittering, soon ripening into a gale of laughter, ensued; in which all joined, with the exception of the caricatured individual, who stared at the sketch without a sign of recognition, and of the Count, who was at this moment drawing the long-bow in a wolf-hunt on the Pyrenees — his mind being in a state of tension not readily to be relaxed by any ordinary incident of human life.
.Who goes to the bal paré?' asked Ernest, as the Erlaught romancer paused to take breath.
'I have little taste for balls,' responded the Count, speaking for the company; they are despairingly monotonous, unless indeed masqueradeballs, which are still 'something new under the sun.' I once enjoyed these things, but, hélas ! tout cela est passé. Monotony is the recompense I have received from too much experience.'
'Il faut vivre,' chirped the bottle-holder, who at length had pushed his plate aside in order to devote himself the more exclusively to a freshly-opened bottle.'
Vous avez raison, mon ami. Let me see then; the last ball at which I can retain consciousness of having sincerely enjoyed myself, took place in North India. Ah! non cuivis contigit adire Corinthum,' continued he, with a complacent grunt. “The scene even now floats before me. I am extended upon a rug of golden fabric; inbaling gently from a hookah the fumes of tobacco impregnated with attar of roses. Ah! le bon vieux temps ! The choicest dancing girls of the East are performing before me; their tapering feet dizzily flitting above a tesselated floor of pear] and ivory slabs —
'Apropos of ivory slabs,' broke in my buon camarado, who had been watching like a hawk for an opportunity of strangling a subject which he foresaw would die hard : 'shall we not have a game of dominoes for the ball-tickets while you finish your story?'
Every café on the continent is supplied with dominoes, so that the game was soon started. The Count lost, as he deserved to do; for his mind, like that of the dying gladiator, was far away, immersed in other
scenes. His friend was almost equally heedless, being now intent upon the music.
‘How beautiful is that strain!' muttered he, a sort of inquiring enthusiasm overspreading the blankness of his face. Lindpaintner, is it not?'
Certainly : glorious !' quoth the Count, who detested all music except his own voice, and who found difficulty in making bimself audible. • Ludwig, tell them not to play so
d d loud,' he continued to the musicman, who was passing round with his plate, into which it is usual to throw a few kreutzers for the dinner-melody.
'Mon Dieu !' exclaimed the bottle-holder, whose services, since the conclusion of dinner, might be esteemed supererogatory. Mon Dieu ! I have a wife somewhere about: positively I must go and see whether she has dined.'
'And I,' said the Count, am engagé for a promenade with Mrs. FLEDGEFEMME. Au revoir, at ten o'clock, and the ball.'
RARA A VIS IN TERRIS. 'Ah, voici mon drôle!' laughed Ernest, as we stepped into the grand promenade.
He motioned toward a long, sinewy figure, attired in an emeraldcolored coat and maroon pantaloons, a combination which, highly illumined as it was by the rays of the declining sun, bore no slight resemblance to a tall green Assmanshausen bottle, half full of its ruby liquid. A heavy gold rope, swung across his stomach, and belayed in the recess of a sidepocket, at once begrimed and embellished the purity of a prolonged white waist-coat. His glistening, jetty hair was twisted into careless tendrils, which danced around the expansive projection of a most relentless shirt-collar, like waves dashing about the flying-jib of a yacht. The face thus garnished was one of those which show up' handsome by fits and starts, according to the sentiment of the moment, which wrought its corresponding expression. But at this moment, as he half reclined against the balustrade, there was in his features a certain admixture of bonhomie and insolence; there was the roving glance, the wild eye and steady mouth, and the form of steel-latb, which, under an unmitigated new hat tossed to the back of his head, revealed, despite a slight coating of Parisianization, the living presence of a Mississippi Nimrod. Can the leopard change his spots? My compatriot stood before me, with all his bar-room abandon upon him, engrossed from time to time in the practice which so deeply offended the philosopher of Geneva, and which embroiled him with his friend Grimm; he was making his nails, said Rousseau, with an instrument made expressly for that purpose.
Through the ridiculizing spectacles which were the medium of Ernest's view, the aboriginal appeared less as a phenomenon than as a joke upon two eggs — an incarnate farcicality. Europeans seize upon the character of the YANKEE, and comprebend it, probably, with as little difficulty as the characters of their own provincials; but it is the Kentuckian, the Mississippian, and all the others of that ilk, who compose the grand mystery of Americanism ; who remain the great misunderstandables in their eyes. How the deuce men can come six feet bigh, and up to every thing,
from half-civilized lands like ours to handsome, wonderful, and refined lands such as theirs — all the while practising the nil admirari with unblushing ease and confidence — this is a speculation of arousing interest in their eyes. They have no confidence, they declare, in men who have so much confidence in themselves. And yet the inexplicable transatlantics some how contrive to elbow their way through custom-house and city, ruin and restaurant, with a sagacity which gradually wrinys out an acknowledgment that the new-comers are too clever to be absolutely Vandal, although they do mark their track through ancient empires with barbarie gold, and rudeness, and innovation.
To these same new-comers, indeed, the antiquities alone of Europe are the grand novelties; while the novelties of Europe, on the other hand, are fast becoming their antiquities.
Blessed reader, oracular as this sentence may appear, forget it not, but ponder thereon.
N O B L E
() MEN of bloated purses,
Cease scorn, if cease you can ;
For all exists; air, light, and shade ;
You are not God's whole plan ;
That noble thing — a Man!
Oh, cease to swell, to put on airs,'
To scoff at Misery wan;
Is a noble thing — a Man!
Despise no brother God hath made:
His reasons canst thou scan?
- a MAN!
O pampered Wealth! read this. well con it:
Degrade no soul! Wealth can!
- a Man!
O King! - Slave! ye bond and free,
Thou Man of Law, thou Artisan,
Each noble thing, each Max!
Ye poor, ye halt, ye lame, ye blind,
This life is but a span :
God's destiny for Man.