« السابقةمتابعة »
patrons,- -as empty as the heads of my detractors!-Almighty Bacchus! Shall his Majesty's Punch-bowl sink into a vile piece of crockery? Ere plebeian lips shall defile the rim which the touch of a King hath hallowed,-ere the vessel in which wit has bathed, shall become the receptacle of earthly liquor,
'Be ready, Gods, with all your thunderbolts,
Before this dreadful consummation shall take place, let me, as far as possible, provide for the probable contingency. I know that when my protector, The King of Clubs,' shall have vacated his throne, a crowd of petty calumniators will arise, to hide my good qualities and exaggerate my failings. Let me, then, draw my own character before a less partial hand shall do it for me, and tell you what candour will say by-and-by of the Punch-bowl.
"It had many failings, but it had some virtues to counterbalance them; it promoted a fashion of levity, an indifference to rebuke, and an appearance of improprieties which never in reality existed. Many persons have assumed the dress of sanctity where sanctity was not; but few, like 'The King of Clubs,' have taken to intoxication in print, in order to ap-. pear to the world worse than they actually were. But, on the other hand, the Punch-bowl gave life and vivacity to: 'The Etonian,' which had never been found in the shop of Mr. Twining. It had the grace of novelty, which is no small recommendation where youth is to be the judge; and it afforded an opportunity of talking a great deal of nonsense, which could not have been talked half so well round a copper kettle or a silver urn. It was always warming,-often exhilarating, seldom, I hope, intoxicating,-never, I am sure, unwholesome."
The composition, from whatever pen it proceeded, was received with great approbation; and as the punch and its biography were coming to an end together, the Club prepared. to adjourn. Previous to their separation, however, Mr. COURTENAY rose and spoke to the following purpose::
MR. COURTENAY TO HIS CONTRIBUTORS.
Gentlemen,-As this is almost the last time I shall have the honour of addressing you in my capacity of President of your sittings, I wish to make one request of you and all our other Contributors. The curiosity of the Public is much excited respecting the names of our writers, and I, for one, am very unwilling to disappoint a Public which has been so very kind to us;-I therefore hope that all those who have favoured us with their support, will let me know as soon as possible whether to all or to any of their articles they will allow me to attach their names in our Tenth and last Number.”—(Hear, hear, hear.)
THE COUNTRY CURATE.
-Tenui censu, sine crimine notum,
Et properare loco, et cessare, et quærere, et uti.—HOR.
It was with feelings of the most unmixed delight that on my way to the North I contemplated spending one evening with my old friend Charles Torrens. I call him my friend, although he is six or seven years my senior; because his manners and his habits have always nearly resembled those of a boy, and have seemed more suitable to my age than to his. Some years ago, partly in consequence of his own imprudence, the poor fellow was in very low circumstances; but he has now, by one of those sudden freaks of fortune, which nobody knows how to account for, become sleek and fat, and well-to-do in the world; with a noble patron, a pretty wife, and the next presentation to a living of a thousand a-year. I arrived at the village of about sunset, and inquired for the house of Mr. Torrens. Of the children to whom I applied no one seemed to understand me at all; at last one of them, a cuter lad than his companions, scratched his head for half a minute, and exclaimed, "Oh! why, sure, you mean Master Charles, our Curate! Gracious! to think of calling him Mr. Torrens !"-I afterwards learned that this hopeful disciple had the office of looking to the Curate's nightlines. However, he led me to the house, giggling all the way at the formality of "Mr. Torrens." prepared by this to find my old acquaintance as warm, and as wild, and as childish as ever.
His residence was a red brick dwelling-house, which you would call a house by right, and a cottage by courtesy: it seemed to possess, like the owner, all requisites for hospitality and kindness, and to want, like him, all pretensions to decoration and show. "This is
as it should be!" I said to myself, "I shall sleep soundly beneath such a roof as this;" and so I threw up the latch of the garden-gate, and went in.. Charles was in the kitchen-garden behind the house, looking at his strawberry-beds. I walked round to meet him. I will not describe the pleasure with which we shook hands; my readers well know what it is to meet a dear and cherished friend after a long absence. I know not which was the happier of the two.
"Well," he said, "here I am, you see, settled in a snug competency, with a dry roof over my head, and a little bit of turf around me. I have had some knowledge of Fortune's slippery ways, and I thank my stars that I have pretty well got out of her reach. Charles Torrens can never be miserable while there's: good fishing every hour in the day in his Lordship's ponds, and good venison every Sunday in the year in his Lordship's dining-room. Here you see me settled, as it were, in my otium cum dignitate, without a wish beyond the welfare of my wife, and the ripening of my melons; and what gives my enjoyments their greatest zest, Peregrine, is, that though the road to them was rather a hilly one, I kept out of the gutters as well as I could. What is it Horace says, Peregrine ?
"Neque majorem feci ratione malâ rem, Nec sum facturus vitio culpâve minorem ;
that is, I did not grow rich like a rascal, and I sha'n't grow poor like a fool!--though (thanks to my uncle, the Nabob,) I can afford to give a young friend a bed and a breakfast, without pinching myself and my servants the next week! But bless me! how I am letting my tongue run on ;---I hav'n't introduced you to Margaret yet," and so saying, he took my arm, and hurried me into his drawing-room. His bride was a very pleasing woman—a lover might well call her a beautiful one; she seemed about one-and-twenty, and possessed every requisite to confer
happiness upon a husband of my friend's wandering habits; she had sufficient good-nature to let him wander abroad, but she had, at the same time, sufficient attractions to keep him at home; her forbearance never scolded him for his stay at another's hearth, but her good sense always took care to make his own agreeable to him. A clever wife would have piqued him, a silly wife would have bored him; Margaret was the “ Aurea mediocritas," and I could see that he was sincerely attached to her.
The next morning I walked into his library, and was not a little amused by the heterogeneous treasures which it presented. Paley seemed somewhat surprised to find himself on the same shelf with " The complete Angler,” and Blair, in his decent vestment of calf-skin, was looking with consummate contempt upon the Morocco coat of his next neighbour, Colonel Thornton. A fowling-piece, fishing-rod, and powder-horn, were the principal decorations of the room.
On the table was a portfolio containing a variety of manuscripts, unfinished Sermons, Stanzas, complete in all but the rhymes; bills, receipts, and recipes for the diseases of horses. Among them I found a little Memorandumbook for 1818: it contained a sketch of his way of life previous to his accession of fortune. I transcribed four days of it, and hope he will thank me for putting them in print.
Monday, 10 o'clock.-Breakfast. Mem. My clerk tells me admirable coffee may be made with burnt crusts of bread--an ingenious plan and a frugal!-am engaged to eat my mutton with the Vicar of the next parish, so that I have leisure to speculate for to-morrow.-12 o'clock. Rode over to my aunt Picquet's. N. B. A plaguy old woman, but has excellent cherrybrandy, and all the fruits of Alcinous in her garden. Managed to oblige her by conveying home some fine pines in a basket.-5 o'clock. Dinner.---Old Decker, his