Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

well acquainted with his character, I was the more alarmed at his inclination to visit a party; since he has often assured me, that he considered it as equivalent to being stuck up for three hours in a steam-engine. I even wondered how he had received an invitation;-this he soon accounted for. It seems Will, on his last arrival from Canton, had made a present of a case of tea to a lady, for whom he had once entertained a sneaking kindness when at grammar-school; and she in return had invited him to come and drink some of it: a cheap way enough of paying off little obligations. I readily acceded to Will's proposition, expecting much entertainment from his eccentric remarks; and as he has been absent some few years, I anticipated his surprise at the splendour and elegance of a modern rout.

On calling for Will in the evening, I found him full dressed, waiting for me. I contemplated with absolute dismay. As he still retained a spark of regard for the lady who once reigned in his affections, he had been at unusual pains in decorating his person, and broke upon my sight arrayed in the true style that prevailed among our beaux some years ago. His hair was turned up and tufted at the top, frizzled out at the ears, a profusion of powder puffed over the whole, and a long plaited club swung gracefully from shoulder to shoulder, describing a pleasing semi circle of powder and pomatum. His claret-coloured coat was decorated with a profusion of gilt buttons, and reached to his calves.

His white cassimere small-clothes were so tight that he seemed to have grown up in them; and his ponderous legs, which are the thickest part of his body, were beautifully clothed in sky-blue silk stockings, once considered so becoming. But above all, he prided himself upo his waistcoat of China silk, which might almost have served a good housewife for a short-gown; and he boasted that the roses and tulips upon it were the work of Nang-Fou, daughter of the great Chin-Chin-Fou, who had fallen in love with the graces of his person, and sent it to him as a parting present; he assured me she was a perfect beauty, with sweet obliquity of eyes, and a foot no longer than the

thumb of an alderman;-he then dilated most copiously on his silver sprigged dicky, which he assured me was quite the rage among the dashing young mandarins, of Canton.

I hold it an ill-natured office to put any man out of conceit with himself; so, though I would willingly have made a little alteration in my friend Wizard's picturesque costume, yet I politely complimented him on his rakish appearance.

On entering the room kept a good look out on Will, expecting to see him exhibit signs of surprise; but he is one of those knowing fellows who are never surprised at any thing, or at least will never acknowledge it. He took his stand in the middle of the floor, playing with his great steel watch-chain; and looking round on the company, the furniture and the pictures, with the air of a man“ who had seen d-dfiner things in his time;" and to my utter confusion and dismay, I saw him coolly pull out his villanous old japanned tobacco-box, ornamented with a bottle, a pipe, and a scurvy motto, and help himself to a quid in face of all the company.

I knew it was all in vain to find fault with a fellow of Will's socratic turn, who is never to be put out of humour with himself; so, after he had given his box its prescriptive rap, and returned it to his pocket, I drew him into a corner where he might observe the company without being prominent objects ourselves.

And pray who is that stylish figure,” said Will, who blazes away in red, like a volcano, and who seems wrapped in flames like a fiery dragon?”—That, cried I, is Miss Laurelia Dashaway:-she is the highest flash of the ton-has much whim and more eccentricity, and has reduced many an unhappy gentleman to stupidity by her charms; you see she holds out the red flag in token of “no quarter.' “ Then keep me safe out of the sphere of her attractions,” cried Will: “I would not e'en come in contact with her train, lest it should scorch me like the tail of a comet. - But who, I beg of you, is that amiable youth who is handing along a young lady, and at the same time contemplating his


sweet person in a mirror, as he passes ?”

His name said I, is Billy Dimple;-he is a universal smiler, and would travel from Dan to Beersheba, and smile on every body as he passed. Dimple is a slave to the ladies-a hero at tea-parties, and is famous at the pirouet and the pigeon-wing; a fiddle-stick is his idol, and a dance his elysium. A

very pretty young gentleman, truly," cried Wizard; "he reminds me of a contemporary beau at Hayti. You must know that the inagnanimous Dessalines gave a great ball to his court one fine sultry summer's evening; Dessy and I were great cronies ;hand and glove :-one of the most condescending great men I ever knew.-Such a display of black and yellow beauties! such a show of Madras handkerchiefs, red beads, cocks' tails and peacocks' feathers ! mit was, as here, who should wear the highest top-knot, drag the. longest tails, or exbibit the greatest variety of combs, colours, and gew-gaws.

In the middle of the rout, when all was buzz, slip-slop, clack, and perfume, who should enter but Tucky Squash! The yellow beauties blushed blue, and the black ones blushed as red as they could, with pleasure; and there was a universal agitation of fans: every eye brightened and whitened to see Tucky; for he was the pride of the court, the pink of courtesy, the mirror of fashion, the adoration of all the sable fair ones of Hayti. Such breadth of nose, such exuberance of lip! his shins had the true cucumber curve;-his face in dancing shone like a kettle; and provided you kept to windward of him in summer, I do not know a sweeter youth in all Hayti than Tucky Squash. When be laughed, there appeared from ear to ear a chevaux-de-frize of teeth, that rivalled the shark's in whiteness; he could whistle like a north-wester , play on a three-stringed fiddle like Apollo; and as to dancing, no long-Island negro could shuffle you“ double-trouble, or “hoe corn and dig potatoes,” more scientifically: in short, he was a second Lothario. And the dusky nymphs of Hayti, one and all, declared him a perpetual Adonis. Tucky walked about, whistling to himself, without regarding any body; and his nonchalance was irresistible.”

I found Will had got' neck and heels into one of his traveller's stories; and there is no knowing how far he would have run his parallel between Billy Dimple and Tucky Squash, had not the music struck up from an adjoining apartment, and summoned the company to the dance. The sound seemed to have an inspiring effect on honest Will, and he procured the hand of an old acquaintance for a country dance. It happened to be the fashionable one of “ The devil among the Tailors,” which is 80 vociferously demanded at every ball and assembly: and many a torn gown, and many an unfortunate toe, did rue the dancing of that night; for Will thundered down the dance like a coach and six, sometimes right, and sometimes wrong; now running over half a score of little Frenchmen, and now making sad inroads into ladies' cobweb muslins and spangled tails. As every part of Will's body partook of the exertion, he shook from his capacious head $uch volumes of puwder, that like pious Eneas on the first interview with Queen Dido, he might be said to have been enveloped in a cloud. Nor was Will's partner an insignificant figure in the scene; she was a young lady of most voluminous proportions, that quivered at every skip; and being braced up in the fashionable style with whalebone, stay-tape and buckram, looked like an apple pudding tied in the middle; or, taking her flaming dress into consideration, like a bed and bolsters rolled up in a suit of red curtains. The dance finished. I would gladly have taken Will off, but no;-„he was now in one of his happy moods, and there was no doing any thing with him.

He insisted on my introducing him to Miss Sparkle, a young lady unrivalled for playful wit and innocent vivacity, and who, like a brilliant, adds lustre to the front of fashion. I accordingly presented him to her, and began a conversation, in which, I thought, he might take a share; but no such thing. Will took his stand before her, straddling like a colossus, with his hands in his pockets, and an air of the most profound attention; nor did he pretend to open his lips for some time, until, upon some lively sally of hers, he electrified the whole company with a most intolerable burst of laughter. What was to

be done with such an incorrigible fellow?To add to my distress, the first word he spoke was to tell Miss Sparkle that something she said reminded him of a circumstance that happened to him in China;—and at it he went, in the true traveller style,-described the Chinese mode of eating rice with chop-sticks;-entered into a long eulogium on the succulent qualities of boiled birds' nests: and I made my escape at the very moment when he was on the point of squatting down on the floor, to show how the little Chinese Joshes sit cross-legged.


In no instance have I seen this grasping after style more whimsically exhibited than in the family of my old acquaintance Timothy Giblet. I recollect old Giblet when I was a boy, and he was the most surly curmudgeon I ever knew, He was a perfect scare-croty to the smallfry of the day, and inherited the hatred of all these unlucky little shavers; for never could we assemble about his door of an evening to play, and make a little hubbub, but out he sallied from his nest like a spider, flourished his formidable horse-whip, and dispersed the whole crew in the twinkling of a lamp. I perfectly remember a bill he sent in to my father for a pane of sound glass I had accidentally broken, which came well nigh getting me a flogging; and I remember, as perfectly, that the next night I revenged myself by breaking half-a-dożen. Giblet was as arrant a grub-worm as ever crawled; and the only rules, of right and wrong he cared a button for, were the rules of multiplication and addition; which he practised much more successfully than he did any of the rules of religion or morality. He used to declare they were the true golden rules; and he took special care to put Cocker's arithmetic in the hands of his children, before they had read ten pages in the bible or the prayer book. tice of these favourite maxims were at length crowned with the harvest of success; and after a life of incessant

The prac

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »