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over,—but our confirmed ill luck has become chronical. A temporary foul breeze may be worn out patiently,—but a trade wind in one's teeth, what mortal can bear!
There is nothing mortifying, it may be said, in being outshuffled by a pack of pasteboard,—that kings, queens, knaves,—two by honours, or all the honours, fall to our adversaries,--is the inevitable result of position in the cards,—and disparages neither skill nor desert of our's. They were our's, they are their's, and may be our's again. That indeed is the pleasurable alternation in games of see-saw and of chance. But to rest always on the humble ground without any turn in the airto be invariably cut by the better trumps—to be shunned by the aces, and never visited by the kings—to be sent to Coventry by all good cards—to thrive never, and, never thriving, to be sneered at, implicitly by the old scandalous adage,-oh, 'tis intolerable !
What antique sacrifices, or mysterious ceremonious rites, to the filleted goddess have we omitted ? Will she never, never again turn for us the tables,—as we have turned often our unwieldy, unlucky chairs?
I have not yet spoken of our worst grievance:—there is a sore within a sore. It is the grave, demure, hypocrital visages of our conquerors, when they rise up, it may be, from their tenth victory,--that gall us more than our defeat. With prim, serious features, more worthy of a Quaker rite than of Whist settlements,—they pick up, (the buckram dowagers !) and pocket the trophy coin. To judge from our faces,'tis a drawn game,-a fourfold disappointment—but Whist, as the world knows, is incapable of such lame and impotent conclusions. “ Two,” says Mr. Battle, the eloquent encomiast of Whist, “ two are exalted-two again are mortified”—but it would puzzle a disciple of Lavater to say which was which at the close of our melancholy rubbers. As far as physiognomy goes, the winners protest that they would as lief have forgone the double points, and the money. They have not achieved success, but had it thrust upon them.—They repent, like Coriolanus, of their conquest.— They begrudge themselves,-or might be supposed to begrudge themselves, their gains,-if it were not a joint object with them to be as successful as sad.—They are loath,—so their formal looks signify,—to put us to the trial of a triumph—or they fear, and half anticipate, the pigeon-like flutter of the whole brood of pasteboard about their wary ears.
If they mean thus-let them know that we hate their sham insincere moderation—we are offended by their uncourteous mistrust. Do they think, forsooth, that we can afford to lose so many shillings nightlyand of that they never affect a doubt--but that we are too poor in patience to put up with a simple smile? Is it less an offence to question our good breeding and self-government, than to hint a suspicion of our finances ? Is the suppressed chuckle in their sleeves likely to be less provoking than the fair frank langh against us?— Do they flatter themselves, that we perceived not, in the beginning, their illconcealed gigglings and titterings behind their card-fans, for joy of the lucky distribution?–Did their lurking aces leap out lingeringly, reluctantly, or cagerly, upon our untimely queens and kings ?-Did they chuckle or sigh, with over-mastering trumps, to cut up the poor remnants of our hopeful suits !--It would be better if they clapped
their hands and crowed over us,-bragging would be preferable to their mock-modesty. We scorn their untimely gravity-we resent their insolent humility. Do they think we are not competent to carry off ten times their prosperity, or our own losses, with an equal propriety ?—To be sure, say they, the honours fell very much against you, or some such impertinent condolence. Do we or chance need their excuses? do we writhe or blaspheme under our reflections ? If at such moments I do betray some tokens of impatience-utter a few peevish pishes—it is because their triumph of temper has “triumphed over mine.”
is our skill, so notably inferior, to find another explanation for their manners, that our defeat is a joyless and matter-of-course termination? Their good fortune, which made another result improbable, forl;ids such an interpretation. Nevertheless, in some rare instances aforetime, when chance favoured us, they have been pleased to express that no skill could compete with such lucky cards as we held, or some speech as tantamount to the assumption.
It is still possible, and for their modesty's sake desirable,—that they are of those lukewarm players, the aversion of Mrs. Battle,-the half-and-half gamesters, “ who have no objection to take a hand if you want one to make up a rubber; who affirm that they have no pleasure in winning; that they like to win one game and to lose another; that they can wile away an hour very agreeably at a cardtable, but are indifferent whether they play or no.”
There is no offence in that case, to any one but themselves in their listless achievements. They only amuse themselves in a melancholy manner, (as Froissart twits us,) according to the custom of their breed.—But I would rather play, (they must pardon me,) against double dummies—or be beaten by two wooden whist-dolls, cousins to the chess-playing automaton. At any rate, since it is all one to their faces and feeling, I would rather that they lost, than we, the money and the rubbers. "Tis my pleasant infirmity not to be proof against the excitements and the depressions of the game. A main good stroke of chance or skill makes me chuckle: I love to mutter a half earnest malediction on an untimely ace. The odd trick makes me rub my palms together. I like to win my battle, and then to have an illumination.
After all, possibly, I have done the dear dowagers an injustice. It is perchance, but some formality-rule of the old buckram-age that compels their features to that demure fashion.
The courtly Chesterfield, of sway absolute in their school-time, denounces, I recollect, the vulgarity of audible and hearty laughter; and at, or after a rubber of whist he may somewhere have forbidden them to smile. ”Tis a maxim, perhaps, in some old Dilworth code of courtesy; but it is an error in whist-breeding and ought to be expunged. There is a special proverb against it: " Let those laugh that win.”
MANNERS OF THE COURT OF CHARLES II.
Straws, that shew which way the tide runs.—Vulgar Metaphor. There is a kind of information relating to times past, which, if the value of knowledge be estimated by its scarcity, and not its intrinsic importance, is exceedingly precious. We mean those miscellaneous items of intelligence, which, when strung together in letters, or conversation, are usually denominated gossip. This bears no value at the time it is uttered, and he or she who is addicted to it, not unjustly incurs the imputation of weakness. But the gossip of former times, when it fortunately happens to descend to posterity, becomes valuable information ; inasmuch as it is the very kind of writing, that conveys the knowledge of many minutiæ of life that are requisite to be known, in order to the formation of correct opinions in manners and the condition of society.
This species of knowledge history does not even attempt to supply ; to the privacy of individuals it rarely descends; whilst their lives, which are more amply unfolded by biographers, are generally of an extraordinary kind, and no fair samples of the community. Besides, in public bodies and characters, subject to particular kinds of etiquette, there is a wonderful uniformity maintained from age to age, which renders them very improper criteria by which to judge of the manners of the different stages of society. The picture of one court, for example, may serve, with a few variations in the dresses and attitudes of the groupe, for that of another. The univers ties, also, wear the same or a similar aspect; and though they may be more in the light than formerly, the same tone of feeling and modes of behaviour are, to a certain degree, observable. Dr. Sonth might preach a high-flying sermon at St. Mary's, and afterwards dine at Magdalen, without discovering, unless by some alteration in the outward man, that he was not among his own contemporaries. A member of parliament, or of any other body, considered in his official capacity, is but slightly changed from what he was, in all save externals. A country gentleman of Charles II, might vote at this day upon the opposition benches, and verily believe that his nap had not exceeded its usual length. “ Noodle's oration," or a part of it, would be sure, before long, to draw from him his accustomed hear! hear! His Stentorian voice, loud as that of a view'hollo in a fox chase, might possibly be admired for its strength, but would otherwise pass as a matter of course, or be thought exceedingly well timed. “ I maintain, Sir, that this trade is injurious to tlie best interests of the country. It is, what the bill emphatically calls it, a nuisance. Do we not see our rents daily decline? Is not Ireland deriving an enormous profit from the trade? And is it not clearer than the sun at noon day that all this must be at our expense? I say, Sir, that he who can object to the principle of this bill, must have either an Irish hcart, or an Irish understanding !" Thus harangued the orator of his own time. Had he taken a nap, and waked in the early part of the eighteenth century, his approbation would have been elicited by a continuation of the same enlightened argument. “ What, Sir, are we to expect, when this northern hive is allowed to swarm and settle here? Our manufactures and our produce will be all cut up by these
A poor people can never be leagued with a wealthier, but to the great detriment of the latter. Sir, if this bill pass into law, let the country, let posterity look to tlie consequences.” Once more, should our sleeper have indulged in a third nap, he might have been awakened, towards the conclusion of the same century, by words of exactly the same import: “ Ireland cannot make a single acquisition but with the proportional loss of England.” Thus were the great council of the nation more than a century in learning one of the easiest lessons in politics! Nay, at this very moment, though it might puzzle our sleeper waked to extricate the meaning of what he heard from the tortuous envelope of phrases, in which it was wrapped up, though he might inwardly curse the prosing speaker, and think him even more than usually dull and tedions, yet, as far as he went along with honourable members, he would not fail to recognise the cordial old sentiment of his English heart. A court preacher, or a bishop ; a Lord Chancellor, or a Lord Mayor, exhibits as little in his sentiments the change of times, and the progress of civilization. A hearty anticatholic peer, that lent himself all ear to Bishop Burnet's denunciations of danger from papists, might listen with as much edification to Bishop Blomfield's apprehensions from the same quarter. He would doubtless discover ihat the reverend Lord had lost his Scotch brogue, but to compensate that, he might perceive in his discourse an additional infusion of Scotch craft. A dealer in political gossip, who harangued upon corruption, and places, and state traffic, &c. in the days of Chancellor llyde, though surprised to find that old Clarendon, in place of his usual prompt and decided tone, had contracted a strange spirit of dubiety, would in other respects find him the old man still. Suppose that the grave should, for once, give up its dead, for the purpose of allowing Mr. Pepys to hear a sermon, at his own parish church, if it be yet in rerum natura ; he might make his usual memorandum
poor old sermon to-day,” or “ a lazy fat priest,” or, if at Whitehall, a great flattering sermon I did not like;" and go to bed again, without observing any thing more remarkable than that perriwigs were gone out of fashion. For any sensible addition of liberality, or even of wisdom, in the sentiments of a majority of these classes, we should hardly be aware of the lapse of time, and the wide interval, which separate the two periods.
Such as they are, these are the portions of society with whom alone History has ever deigned to be conversant; and her records, therefore, afford but few hints by which to discriminate properly the difierent periods which she embraces. Whilst the wisdom of our parliamentary ancestors—our Bishops, Kings, and Lords-is written down, as Dogberry would have had himself, in indelible black and white, the history of the Commons is a blank. Some of its busier members have, indeed, got themselves lampooned or satirized, or bepraised in party squibs, or fulsome dedications; and some, by their merits in science or literature, have led mankind to pry with curiosity into their domestic life. But little truth is to be extracted from works written avowedly either to lower their subjects in public estimation, or to raise the authors in the estimation of the subjects. Men of science, also, and learning, may be said to be of no age: their minners and habits are determined by their pursuits; and their pursuits being similar, so also are their habits and manners. Imperfect, however, as these sources of ji forma.
tion are, they are all that we have to look to for information concerning the great mass of mankind in every age. There are doubtless works extant, whose especial purpose it is to describe the manners of particular periods ; but the very efforts and ambition of authorship are unfavourable to the attainment of their object. Their representations are involuntarily coloured by the temper and genius of the writer. It must also be remembered, that the writer, having it in view to amuse, or astonish, or instruct, selects only such incidents as are directed to the particular end of his writing. The view he presents of society is necessarily partial. A much better source of information, sometimes, is a perusal of old letters, as discovered in the rubbish of libraries; and the publication of these diffuses a considerable light upon the period to which they belong. Not being written with any of the preceding views, but designed wholly for the information of correspondents, they are not subject to the imputations under which authorship must always lie. Every hint we collect is valuable. But after all, the information to be extracted from even a voluminous correspondence may be, and is, necessarily, very confined. If the parties be engaged in public affairs, new views of history will be acquired ; and, as has often happened, information calculated to change men's opinions altogether, on certain points, which had been previously held to be settled, or even not so much as agitated. If in private life, they will be too exclusively confined to the domestic concerns of the persons in correspondence, and will only indirectly throw light upon more general subjects. What we want is intelligence of a more miscellaneous nature, embracing a great variety of subjects-lomestic and public matters, amusements, fashions, frivolities—town and country gossipall, in short, that falls within the hearing or observation of an active member of the community, and a man of pleasure as well as business. If we have his information in the shape of intelligence to some friend at a distance from the scene of affairs, we have it in a pretty authentic shape: still there exists, even in that case, a temptation to be witty or humorous, at the expense of truth; to misrepresent or miscolour; and, above all, to be fastidious in the selection of articles of news from a fear of being found guilty of tediousness. These are the evils of authorship in a minor degree. There is a yet more desirable form, in which the intelligence may be conveyed to us. Suppose a person in the habit of noting down, as briefly as possible, every thing that befel him during the day—as what he had seen, done, said, or heard in the course of business or amusement, solely for the sake of having a Journal, in which he mighi, at any subsequent period, be able to tell precisely what he was engaged wiili, and what were his habits and feelings at that particular epoch, and we should have the most perfect transcript of the times that could possibly be made. Here would not be the slightest inducement to embellish or suppress. The writer's object being his own information, he would not suppress any thing necessary to be known, for that would defeat his object. Neither, for the same reason, would he be fastidious ; for those motives which would deter him from communicating any particulars of information to another, have no place here. A man is not ashamed of confessing his feelings to himself; and he is never wearied by the mention of any thing he has ever been concerned in, however frivolous. Every thing,