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triumphant on the crest of the impossible. I knew it long since, but 't is over the town like wildfire now.
Meeting my Lady Sarah Bunbury yesterday, says she,
'Lady Fanny, sure you know the Duke of Gloucester is desperately in love with my Lady Waldegrave. Now don't mask your little cunning face with ignorance, but tell me what's known. What have you heard from Horry Walpole?'
'Nothing, your la'ship,' says I, very demure.
'Well,' says she, "t is reported the King has forbid him to speak to his fair widow, and she is gone out of town. He has given her two pearl bracelets worth five hundred pound. That's not for nothing surely. But for what?'
'Indeed, 't is an ambiguous gift, Madam,' says I, whimsically; 'and may mean much or little. Give me leave to ask whether 't is Pursuit or Attainment as your la'ship reads it?'
But she tossed her head, the little gossip, and off she went.
I can tell you thus much, Kitty: the Walpoles are main frightened. It may be a cast-back to the principles of the milliner mother. And there was never the difference between her and Sir Edward Walpole that there is between Maria and a Prince of the Blood. Her birth is impossible. My Lady Mary Coke asking me if the mother were not a washerwoman, says I,' I really cannot determine the lady's profession.' But, spitfire as she is, 't is too true Maria is playing with fire, and there should be nothing between him and her mother's daughter. She is indeed more indiscreet than becomes her. His chaise is eternally at her door, and, as my Lady Mary says, she is lucky that anyone else countenances her at all. If they do, 't is as much from curiosity as any nobler emotion. Indeed I fear her reputation's cracked past repair. Meeting
Horry Walpole last night at the French Embassador's, he was plagued with staring crowds, and he made off after braving it a while. I hear the King is highly offended and the Queen yet more. She has a great notion of birth, and though poor, the Mecklenburg family has as good quarterings as any Royals in Europe. For my part, Kitty, I know not. Yet, if we seek for pedigree in horse and dog, 't is to be supposed worth something in Adam's breed also. And this ill-behavior in Maria confirms me.
Yet I have visited the fair sinner, for I love her well. She can't help neither her birth nor her beauty, but sure her kind heart is all her own. She wept and would reveal nothing, but asked me to be so much her friend as to think the best of her. 'Tis pity her tears were wasted on a mere woman. The drops beaded on her lashes like rain on a rose. Well, God mend all! say I. Sure none of us have a clear conscience and if anyone was to come up behind us and whisper, 'I know when, how, and who!' 't is certain there are few women but would die of terror. Yet I did not think Maria a rake - though a Prince's.
Kitty, Kitty, 't is all come out! But I may say the town knew it after the masquerade in Soho, when His Royal Highness appeared as Edward the Fourth and Maria as Elizabeth Woodville, the pretty widow he made his Queen. You'll allow 't was a delicate way to let the cat out of the bag. It could not longer be kept within it, for the lady's sake, for there is to be a little new claimant one day to the Crown, if all the elder stem should fail. They were married four years ago, Kitty! Sure never was an amazing secret better kept! And I will say she hath borne much for the Prince's sake and with good sense. But think of it! Maria
No-name the milliner's base-born daughter - to be Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester, Princess of Great Britain! Was ever human fate so surprising? 'T was a secret even from her father and uncle, by the Duke's command; but she has now writ her father so pretty a letter that 't is the town's talk, Horry Walpole having shewed it about. But Horry-have you forgot his pride, hid always under a nonchalance as if 't was nothing? I was at Gloucester House, where she received en princesse, two nights ago; and to see Horry kiss her hand and hear him address her with, 'Madam, your Royal Highness,' at every word,sure no wit of Congreve's could ever equal the comedy! But if looks were all, she should be Queen of England a shining beauty indeed! She wore a robe in the French taste, of gold tissue, her hair lightly powdered, with a bandeau of diamonds and the Duke's miniature in diamonds on her breast. He, looking very ill at ease, as I must own, stood beside her. The King and our little Mecklenburger Queen are distracted, the royal ire withers all before it; but it can't be undone, though they will pass a Marriage Act to make such escapades impossible in the future.
But the Walpole triumph! 'T is now proved in the face of all the world that a Walpole illegitimate is better than a German Royalty, for he might have married where he would. No doubt but Horry Walpole always thought so, yet 't is not always we see our family pride so bolstered.
Meagre as a skeleton, he looked the genteelest phantom you can conceive, in pure velvet and steel embroideries. For my part, I am well content and wish Her Royal Highness joy without grimace. "T is true I laugh at Horry 'Tis Walpole, for in this town we laugh at everything, from the Almighty to Kitty Fisher; but I have a kindness for him and for Maria, and had sooner they triumphed than another. "T is not so with the town. O Kitty, the jealousy and malice! "T would take fifty letters to tell you the talk, from the Court down.
Well, Her Royal Highness gave me her hand to kiss, very gracious. She will not let her dignity draggle in the mud, like others I could name. But whether she would have been more easy with Portland or another, I will not determine. The Fates alone know, and sure they can't be women, they keep their secrets so well!
MY OLD LADY, LONDON
BY A. EDWARD NEWTON
I ONCE heard a charming woman say at dinner, ‘I don't think I ever had quite as much fresh asparagus as I wanted.' In like manner, I don't think I shall ever get as much of London as is necessary for my complete happiness; I love it early in the morning- before it rouses itself, when the streets are deserted; I love it when throngs of people - the best-natured and politest people in all the world - crowd its thoroughfares; and I love it, I think, best of all, at sunset, when London, in some of its aspects, can be very beautiful. If I were a Londoner, I should never leave it, except perhaps for a day or two now and then, so that I could enjoy coming back to it.
The terrible world-upheaval through which we have just passed is responsible for my not having been in London for six years, and I greatly feared that those years might have left some unhappy imprint upon the Old Lady. Indeed, she may have lost a tooth or a wisp of hair; but aristocratic old ladies know how to conceal the ravages of time and circumstance, and as I looked around the railway station while my belongings were being stowed away in the 'left luggage' room, I saw only the usual crowd quietly going about its business.
Then, as I stepped into my taxi and said, 'Simpson's in the Strand,' and was being whirled over Waterloo Bridge, I said to myself, 'Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed except that the
fare, which was once eightpence, is now a shilling.'
I said it again, with not quite the same certainty, when, after eating my piece of roast beef and a little mess of greens and a wonderful potato, I called the head waiter and complained that the meat was tough and stringy. 'It is so,' said that functionary, and continued: 'you see, sir, during the war we exhausted' (with careful emphasis upon the h) 'our own English beef, and we are now forced to depend upon - 'I looked him straight in the eye; he was going to say America, but changed his mind and said, 'the Argentine.'
'Very neatly done,' I said, ordering an extra half-pint of bitter and putting a sixpence in his hand; 'to-morrow I'll have fish. I'm very sure that nothing can have happened to the turbot.'
It was only a little after one, when, leaving Simpson's I lit a cigar and turned westward in quest of lodgings. As the Savoy was near at hand, I thought no harm would be done by asking the price of a large double-bedded room overlooking the river, with a bath, and was told that the price would be five guineas a day, but that no such accommodation was at that moment available. 'I'm glad of it,' I said, feeling that a temptation had been removed; for I have always wanted a room that looked out on the river; and, continuing westward, I inquired at one hotel after another until, just as I was beginning to feel, not alarmed, but a trifle uneasy,
I secured, not just what I wanted, but a room and a bath which would serve at the Piccadilly.
I had been kept waiting quite a little time in the lobby, and as I looked about me there seemed to be a good many foreigners in evidence, a number of Spaniards and, I suspected, Germans. A fine manly young fellow, with only one arm (how many such I was to see), who manipulated the lift and to whom I confided my suspicions, replied, 'Yes, sir, I believe they is, sir; but what are you going to do? They calls themselves Swiss!'
But in my anxiety to get to London, I have forgotten to say a word about the Imperator, on which I crossed, or of the needless expense and delay to which one is subjected in New York, for no reason that I can see, but that some of what Mr. Bryan called 'deserving Democrats' may be fed at the public trough.
After being photographed, and getting your passport and having it viséd by the consul of the country to which you are first going, and after assuring the officials of the Treasury Department that the final installment of your income tax will be paid, when due, by your bank, though where the money is to come from, you don't in the least know, you finally start for New York, in order that you may be there one day before the steamer sails, so that you may again present your passport at the Custom House for final inspection. I know no man wise enough to tell me what good purpose is served by this last annoyance. With trunks and suitcases, New York is an expensive place in which to spend a night, and one is not in the humor for it; one has started for Europe and reachedNew York.
But fearful that some hitch may occur, you wire on for rooms and get them, and 'the day previous to sailing,' as the
regulation demands, you present yourself and your wife, each armed with a passport, at the Custom House. Standing in a long line in a corridor, you eventually approach a desk at which sits a man consuming a big black cigar. Spreading out your passport before him he looks at it as if he were examining one for the first time; finally, with a blue pencil, he puts a mark on it and says, "Take it to that gentleman over there,' pointing across the room. You do so; and another man examines it, surprised, it may be, to see that it so closely resembles one that he has just marked with a red pencil. He is just about to make another hieroglyph on the passport when he observes that the background of your photograph is dark, whereas the regulations call for light. He suspends the operation; is it possible that you will be detained at the last moment? No! with the remark, 'Get a light one next time,' he makes a little mark in red and scornfully directs you to another desk. Here sits another man- these are all able-bodied and presumably well-paid politicians — with a large rubber stamp; it descends, and you are free to go on board your shipto-morrow.
The Imperator made, I think, only one trip in the service of the company that built her; during the war she remained tied up to her pier in Hoboken; and when she was finally put into passenger service, she was taken over, pending final allocation, by the Cunard Line. She is a wonderful ship — with the exception of the Leviathan, the largest boat afloat; magnificent and convenient in every detail, and as steady as a church. The doctor who examines my heart occasionally, looking for trouble, would have had a busy time on her. I fancy I can see him, drawing his stethoscope from his pocket and suspending it in his ears, poking round, listening in vain for the pulsa
tion of her engines; fearful, no doubt, that he was going to lose his patient, he would have prescribed certain drops in water at regular intervals, and, finally, he would have sent her in a very large bill.
I am quite sure that I owe my comparatively good health to having been very abstemious in the matter of exercise. But it was my habit to take a constitutional each day before breakfast; this duty done, I was able to read and smoke thereafter with a clear conscience. Four and a half times around the promenade deck was a mile, the steward told me; and I can quite believe it.
Coming back to earth, or rather sea, after this flight into the empyrean, I am bound to admit that the Germans knew how to build and run ships. And the beautiful part of the Imperator was that, though you saw a German sign occasionally, not a German word was heard. How completely, for the time being at any rate, the German nation has been erased from the sea! I sometimes doubt the taste of the English singing 'Rule, Britannia'; it is so very
As we entered Southampton Water after a pleasant and quite uneventful voyage, we saw almost the only sign of the war we were destined to see. A long line, miles long, of what we should call torpedo-boat destroyers, anchored in midstream, still wearing their camouflage coloring, slowly rusting themselves
We landed on a clear, warm September afternoon, and, Southampton possessing no charm whatever, we at once took train for Winchester, which we reached in time to attend service in the austere old cathedral. The service was impressive, and the singing better than in most cathedrals, for the choir is largely recruited from the great school
founded centuries ago by William of Wykeham. After the service, we stood silently for a moment by the tomb of Jane Austen; nor did we forget to lift reverently the carpet that protects the tablet let into the tombstone of Izaak Walton. After tea, that pleasant function, we drove out to the Hospital of St. Cross, beautiful and always dear to me, being, as it is, the scene of Trollope's lovely story, The Warden.
Seated at home in my library, in imagination I love to roam about this England, this 'precious stone set in the silver sea,' which, however, now that the air has been conquered, no longer serves it defensively as a moat; but as soon as I find myself there, the lure of London becomes irresistible, and almost before I know it I am at some village railway station demanding my 'two single thirds' to Waterloo or Victoria, or wherever it may be.
So it was in this case. I did, however, take advantage of the delightful weather to make a motor pilgrimage to Selborne, some fifteen miles across country from Winchester. A tiny copy of White's Natural History of Selborne came into my possession some forty years ago, by purchase, at a cost of fifteen cents, at Leary's famous bookshop in Philadelphia; and while I now display, somewhat ostentatiously perhaps, Horace Walpole's own copy of the first edition, I keep my little volume for reading and had it with me on the
The Wakes, the house in which Gilbert White was born and in which he died, is still standing on what is by courtesy called the main street of the little village, which is, in its way, I suppose, as famous as any settlement of its size anywhere. The church of which he was rector, and in which he preached, when he was not wandering about observing with unexampled fidelity the flora and fauna of his native parish, stands near