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Longer their being to support,
How say you, reader—do not these verses smack of the rough magnanimity of the old English vein? Do they not fortify like a cordial ; enlarging the heart, and productive of sweet blood, and generous spirits, in the concoction ? Where be those puling fears of death, just now expressed or affected ?-Passed like a cloud-absorbed in the purging sunlight of clear poetry-clean washed away by a wave of genuine Helicon, your only Spa for these hypochondries—And now another cup of the generous ! and a merry New Year, and many of them to you all, my masters !
""A CLEAR fire, a clean hearth, and the | All people have their blind side--their superrigour of the game.” This was the celebrated stitions ; and I have heard her declare, under wish of old Sarah Battle (now with God), who, the rose, that hearts was her favourite suit. next to her devotions, loved a good game of I never in my life—and I knew Sarah Battle whist. She was none of your lukewarm game- many of the best years of it-saw her take out sters, your half-and-half players, who have no her snuff-box when it was her turn to play; or objection to take a hand, if you want one to snuff a candle in the middle of a game ; or make up a rubber ; who affirm that they have ring for a servant, till it was fairly over. She no pleasure in winning ; that they like to win never introduced, or connived at, miscellaneous one game and lose another; that they can conversation during its process.
As she while away an hour very agreeably at a card- emphatically observed, cards were cards; and table, but are indifferent whether they play or if I ever saw unmingled distaste in her fine no; and will desire an adversary, who has last-century countenance, it was at the airs of slipped a wrong card, to take it up and play a young gentleman of a literary turn, who had another. These insufferable triflers are the been with difficulty persuaded to take a hand; curse of a table. One of these flies will spoil and who, in his excess of candour, declared, a whole pot. Of such it may be said that they that he thought there was no harm in unbenddo not play at cards, but only play at playing ing the mind now and then, after serious at them.
studies, in recreations of that kind ! She could Sarah Battle was none of that breed. She not bear to have her noble occupation, to which detested them, as I do, from her heart and soul, she wound up her faculties, considered in that and would not, save upon a striking emergency, light. It was her business, her duty, the thing willingly scat herself at the same table with she came into the world to do,—and she did it. them. She loved a thorough-paced partner, a She unbent her mind afterwards, over a book. determined enemy. She took, and gave, no Pope was her favourite author : his Rape of concessions. She hated favours. She never the Lock her favourite work. She once did made a revokc, nor ever passed it over in her me the favour to play over with me (with the adversary without exacting the utmost forfci- | cards) his celebrated game of Ombre in that ture. She fought a good fight : cut and thrust. poem ; and to explain to me how far it agreed She held not her good sword (her cards)“ like with, and in what points it would be found to a dancer.” She sate bolt upright; and neither differ from, tradrille. Her illustrations were showed you her cards, nor desired to see yours. apposite and poignant; and I had the pleasure of
sending the substance of them to Mr. Bowles; would say,and must have an uniformity of array but I suppose they came too late to be inserted to distinguish them : but what should we say among his ingenious notes upon that author. to a foolish squire, who should claim a merit
Quadrille, she has often told me, was her from dressing up his tenantry in red jackets, first love; but whist had engaged her maturer that never were to be marshalled-never to esteem. The former, she said, was showy and take the field ?-She even wished that whist specious, and likely to allure young persons. were more simple than it is ; and, in my mind, The uncertainty and quick shifting of partners would have stripped it of some appendages,which -a thing which the constancy of whist abhors; in the state of human frailty, may be venially, -the dazzling supremacy and regal investi- and even commendably, allowed of. She saw ture of Spadille—absurd, as she justly observed, no reason for the deciding of the trump by the in the pure aristocracy of whist, where his turn of the card. Why not one suit always crown and garter give him no proper power trumps ?-Why two colours, when the mark of above his brother-nobility of the Aces ;-the the suits would have sufficiently distinguished giddy vanity, so taking to the inexperienced, them without it ?of playing alone ; above all, the overpowering “But the eye, my dear Madam, is agreeably attractions of a Sans Prendre Vole,—to the refreshed with the variety. Man is not a triumph of which there is certainly nothing creature of pure reason-he must have his parallel or approaching, in the contingencies of senses delightfully appealed to. We see it in whist ;-all these, she would say, make quadrille Roman Catholic countries, where the music a game of captivation to the young and enthu- and the paintings draw in many to worship, siastic. But whist was the solider game: that whom your quaker spirit of unsensualising was her word. It was a long meal; not, like would have kept out.--You yourself have a quadrille, a feast of snatches. One or two pretty collection of paintings—but confess tome, rubbers might co-extend in duration with an whether, walking in your gallery at Sandham, evening. They gave time to form rooted among those clear Vandykes, or among the friendships, to cultivate steady enmities. She Paul Potters in the ante-room, you ever felt despised the chance-started, capricious, and your bosom glow with an elegant delight, at all ever fluctuating alliances of the other. The comparable to that you have it in your power skirmishes of quadrille, she would say, re- to experience most evenings over a wellminded her of the petty ephemeral embroil- arranged assortment of the court cards ?the ments of the little Italian states, depicted by pretty antic habits, like heralds in a procession Machiavel: perpetually changing postures and the gay triumph-assuring scarlets—the conconnexions; bitter foes to-day, sugared darlings trasting deadly-killing sables—the 'hoary mato-morrow; kissing and scratching in a breath; jesty of spades’–Pam in all his glory! - but the wars of whist were comparable to “All these might be dispensed with ; and the long, steady, deep-rooted, rational, antipa- with their naked names upon the drab pastethies of the great French and English nations. board, the game might go on very well, picture
A grave simplicity was what she chiefly less. But the beauty of cards would be extinadmired in her favourite game. There was guished for ever. Stripped of all that is nothing silly in it, like the nob in cribbage- imaginative in them, they must degenerate nothing superfluous. No fushes—that most into mere gambling. Imagine a dull deal irrational of all pleas that a reasonable being board, or drum head, to spread them on, instead can set up :—that any one should claim four of that nice verdant carpet (next to nature's), by virtue of holding cards of the same mark fittest arena for those courtly combatants to and colour, without reference to the playing of play their gallant jousts and turneys in !the game, or the individual worth or pretensions Exchange those delicately-turnedivory markers of the cards themselves ! She held this to be a work of Chinese artist, unconscious of their solecism ; as pitiful an ambition at cards as symbol,-or as profanely slighting their true alliteration is in authorship. She despised application as the arrantest Ephesian journeysuperficiality, and looked deeper than the man that turned out those little shrines for the colours of things.-Suits were soldiers, she goddess)-exchange them for little bits of leather (our ancestors' money) or chalk and a attained in card -playing is accomplished. slate !"
There are the incentives of profit with honour, The old lady, with a smile, confessed the common to every species—though the latter soundness of my logic; and to her approbation can be but very imperfectly enjoyed in those of my arguments on her favourite topic that other games, where the spectator is only feebly evening, I have always fancied myself indebted a participator. But the parties in whist are for the legacy of a curious cribbage-board, spectators and principals too. They are a made of the finest Sienna marble, which her theatre to themselves, and a looker-on is not maternal uncle (old Walter Plumer, whom I wanted. He is rather worse than nothing, and have elsewhere celebrated) brought with him an impertinence. Whist abhors neutrality, or from Florence :—this, and a trifle of five hun- interests beyond 'its sphere. You glory in dred pounds, came to me at her death.
some surprising stroke of skill or fortune, not The former bequest (which I do not least because a cold—or even an interested-byvalue) I have kept with religious care; though stander witnesses it, but because your partner she herself, to confess a truth, was never greatly sympathises in the contingency. You win for taken with cribbage. It was an essentially two. You triumph for two. Two are exalted. vulgar game, I have heard her say,—disputing Two again are mortified; which divides their with her uncle, who was very partial to it. disgrace, as the conjunction doubles (by taking She could never heartily bring her mouth to off the invidiousness) your glories. Two losing pronounce “Go”—or “ That's a go.” She called to two are better reconciled, than one to one in it an ungrammatical game. The pegging teased that close butchery. The hostile feeling is her. I once knew her to forfeit a rubber (a weakened by multiplying the channels. War five-dollar stake, because she would not take becomes a civil game.-By such reasonings as advantage of the turn-up knave, which would these the old lady was accustomed to defend have given it her, but which she must have her favourite pastime. claimed by the disgraceful tenure of declaring No inducement could ever prevail upon her “ two for his heels.”
There is something ex- to play at any game, where chance entered tremely genteel in this sort of self-denial. into the composition, for nothing. Chance, she Sarah Battle was a gentlewoman born. would argue-and here again, admire the sub
Piquet she held the best game at the cards tlety of her conclusion ;-chance is nothing, for two persons, though she would ridicule the but where something else depends upon it. It pedantry of the terms—such as pique-repique is obvious that cannot be glory. What rational -the capot—they savoured (she thought) of cause of exultation could it give to a man to affectation. But games for two, or even three, turn up size ace a hundred times together by she never greatly cared for. She loved the himself? or before spectators, where no stake quadrate, or square. She would argue thus : was depending ?–Make a lottery of a hundred -Cards are warfare : the ends are gain, with thousand tickets with but one fortunate numglory. But cards are war, in disguise of a ber—and what possible principle of our nature, sport : when single adversaries encounter, the except stupid wonderment, could it gratify to ends proposed are too palpable. By themselves, gain that number as many times successively, it is too close a fight; with spectators, it is not without a prize ?—Therefore she disliked the much bettered. No looker-on can be in- mixture of chance in backgammon, where it terested, except for a bet, and then it is a was not played for money. She called it mere affair of money ; he cares not for your foolish, and those people idiots, who were taken luck sympathetically, or for your play.—Three with a lucky hit under such circumstances. are still worse ; a mere naked war of every Games of pure skill were as little to her fancy. man against every man, as in cribbage, without Played for a stake, they were a mere system league or alliance; or a rotation of petty and of over-reaching. Played for glory they were, contradictory interests, a succession of heart-amere setting of one man's with—his memory, or less leagues, and not much more hearty infrac- combination-faculty rather-against another's; tions of them, as in tradrille.—But in square like a mock-engagement at a review, bloodless games (she meant whist), all that is possible to be and profitless. She could not conceive a game wanting the spritely infusion of chance, the enced some moments in my life, when playing handsome excuses of good fortune. Two at cards for nothing has even been agreeable. people playing at chess in a corner of a room, When I am in sickness, or not in the best whilst whist was stirring in the centre, would spirits, I sometimes call for the cards, and play inspire her with insufferable horror and ennui.
a game at piquet for love with my cousin Bridget Those well-cut similitudes of Castles, and —Bridget Elia. Knights, the imagery of the board, she would I grant there is something sneaking in it ; argue, (and I think in this case justly,) were but with a tooth-ache, or a sprained ankle,entirely misplaced and senseless. Those hard when you are subdued and humble, you are head-contests can in no instance ally with the glad to put up with an inferior spring of action. fancy. They reject form and colour. A pencil There is such a thing in nature, I am conand dry slate (she used to say) were the proper vinced, as sick whist. arena for such combatants.
I grant it is not the highest style of manTo those puny objectors against cards, as I deprecate the manes of Sarah Battle—she nurturing the bad passions, she would retort, lives not, alas ! to whom I should apologise. that man is a gaming animal. He must be At such times, those terms which my old always trying to get the better in something or friend objected to, come in as something adother :- that this passion can scarcely be missible.- I love to get a tierce or a quatorze, more safely expended than upon a game at though they mean nothing. I am subdued to cards : that cards are a temporary illusion; an inferior interest. Those shadows of winning in truth, a mere drama ; for we do but play at being mightily concerned, where a few idle That last game I had with my sweet cousin shillings are at stake, yet, during the illusion, (I capotted her)–(dare I tell thee, how foolish we are as mightily concerned as those whose I am ?)—I wished it might have lasted for stake is crowns and kingdoms. They are a ever, though we gained nothing, and lost sort of dream-fighting ; much ado ; great nothing, though it was a mere shade of play: I battling, and little bloodshed ; mighty means would be content to go on in that idle folly for for disproportioned ends ; quite as diverting, ever. The pipkin should be ever boiling, that and a great deal more innoxious, than many of was to prepare the gentle lenitive to my foot, those more serious games of life, which men which Bridget was doomed to apply after the play, without esteeming them to be such.- game was over : and, as I do not much relish
With great deference to the old lady's judg- appliances, there it should ever bubble. Bridget ment on these matters, I think I have experi- | and I should be ever playing.
A CHAPTER ON EARS.
I HAVE no ear.
Neither have I incurred, or done any thing Mistake me not, reader-nor imagine that I to incur, with Defoe, that hideous disfiguream by nature destitute of those exterior twin ment, which constrained him to draw upon appendages, hanging ornaments, and (architec- assurance-to feel quite unabashed," and at turally speaking) handsome volutes to the ease upon that article. I was never, I thank human capital. Better my mother had never my stars, in the pillory ; nor, if I read them borne me. I am, I think, rather delicately aright, is it within the compass of my destiny, than copiously provided with those conduits; that I ever should be. and I feel no disposition to envy the mule for When therefore I say that I have no ear, his plenty, or the mole for her exactness, in you will understand me to mean—for music. those ingenious labyrinthine inlets—those in- To say that this heart never melted at the dispensable side-intelligencers.
concord of sweet sounds, would be a foul
self-libel. “ Water parted from the sea” never fails scarce know what to say I am ignorant of. I to move it strangely. So does “ In infancy.” hate, perhaps, by misnomers. Sostenuto and But they were used to be sung at her harpsi- adagio stand in the like relation of obscurity to chord (the old-fashioned instrument in vogue
me; and Sol, Fa, Mi, Re, is as conjuring as those days) by a gentlewoman—the gentlest, Baralipton. sure, that ever merited the appellation—the It is hard to stand alone in an age like this, sweetest—why should I hesitate to name Mrs. --(constituted to the quick and critical percepS- once the blooming Fanny Weatheral of tion of all harmonious combinations, I verily the Temple who had power to thrill the soul believe, beyond all preceding ages, since of Elia, small imp as he was, even in his long Jubal stumbled upon the gamut,) to remain, as coats ; and to make him glow, tremble, and it were, singly unimpressible to the magic inblush with a passion, that not faintly indicated Auences of an art, which is said to have such the day-spring of that absorbing sentiment an especial stroke at soothing, elevating, and which was afterwards destined to overwhelm refining the passions.—Yet, rather than break and subdue his nature quite for Alice W-n. the candid current of my confessions, I must
I even think that sentimentally I am disposed avow to you, that I have received a great deal to harmony. But organically I am incapable of more pain than pleasure from this so cried-up a tune. I have been practising “God save the faculty. King” all my life; whistling and humming of it I am constitutionally susceptible of noises. over to myself in solitary corners ; and am not A carpenter's hammer, in a warm summer yet arrived, they tell me, within many quavers noon, will fret me into more than midsummer of it. Yet hath the loyalty of Elia never been madness. But those unconnected, unset sounds impeached.
are nothing to the measured malice of music. I am not without suspicion, that I have an The ear is passive to those single strokes ; undeveloped faculty of music within me. For willingly enduring stripes while it hath no task thrumming, in my wild way, on my friend A.'s to con. To music it cannot be passive. It piano, the other morning, while he was engaged will strive—mine at least will—'spite of its in an adjoining parlour,-on his return he was inaptitude, to thrid the maze ; like an unskilled pleased to say, “he thought it could not be the
eye painfully poring upon hieroglyphics. I maid !” On his first surprise at hearing the have sat through an Italian Opera, till, for keys touched in somewhat an airy and master- sheer pain, and inexplicable anguish, I have
way, not dreaming of me, his suspicions rushed out into the noisiest places of the had lighted on Jenny. But a grace, snatched crowded streets, to solace myself with sounds, from a superior refinement, soon convinced him which I was not obliged to follow, and get rid that some being-technically perhaps deficient, of the distracting torment of endless, fruitless, but higher informed from a principle common barren attention! I take refuge in the unpreto all the fine arts—had swayed the keys to a tending assemblage of honest common-life mood which Jenny, with all her (less cultivated) sounds ;-and the purgatory of the Enraged enthusiasm, could never have elicited from Musician becomes my paradise. them. I mention this as a proof of my friend's I have sat at an Oratorio (that profanation of penetration, and not with any view of dispa- the purposes of the cheerful playhouse) watchraging Jenny.
ing the faces of the auditory in the pit (what a Scientifically I could never be made to un- contrast to Hogarth's Laughing Audience !) derstand (yet have I taken some pains) what a immoveable, or affecting some faint emotion note in music is ; or how one note should differ -till (as some have said, that our occupations from another. Much less in voices can I dis- in the next world will be but a shadow of what tinguish a soprano from a tenor. Only some delighted us in this) I have imagined myself times the thorough-bass I contrive to guess at, in some cold Theatre in Hades, where some of from its being supereminently harsh and dis- the forms of the earthly one should be kept up, agreeable. I tremble, however, for my misap- with none of the enjoyment ; or like that plication of the simplest terms of that which I
-Party in a parlour disclaim. While I profess my ignorance, I
All silent, and all DAMNED.