Page images
PDF
EPUB

Sheridan, aftr the ladies had departed, he drew the chair to the fire, and confided to Creevy that they had just had a fortune left them. “Mrs. Sheridan and I,' said he, have made the solemn vow to each other to mention it to no one, and nothing induces me now to confide it to you but the absolute conviction that Mrs. Sheridan is at this moinent confiding it to Mrs. Creevy upstairs.' Soon after this I went to visit him in the country with a large party; he had taken a villa. No expense was spared; a magnificent dinner, excellent wines, but not a candle to be had to go to bed by in the house; in the morning no butter appeared, or was to be procured for breakfast. He said, it was not a butter country, he believed. But with Sheridan for host, and the charm of his wit and conversation, who cared for candles, butter, or anything else ? In the evening there was a quarrel amongst the fiddlers, they absolutely refusing to play with a blind fiddler, who had unexpectedly arrived and insisted upon performing with them. He turned out at last to be Mathews; his acting was quite inimitable.'

This brought us home again. 'Meeting at the door his grandson, returning quite exhausted with a prodigious walk : Oh, foolish boy! remember, head for glory, feet for use.'

He then left us, and might be seen in his pretty library; sometimes in his arin-chair, seated, with books of different kind piled round him, some grave, some gay, as his humour varied from hour to hour. And this rapid change of mood, which I see his friend Mr. Moore remarks upon, was one thing amongst many which gave such freshness and raciness to his conversation : you never could guess what would come next. At other times seated at a large table in the bay-window, with his desk before him-on one end of this table a case, something iike a small deal music-stand, filled with inanuscript books--on the other a large deal tray, filled with a leaden ink-stand, containing ink enough for a county; a magnifying glass; a carpenter's rule; several large steel pens, which it was high trea. son to touch ; a glass bowl full of shot and water, to clean these precious pens; and some red tape, which he called one of the grammars of life;' a measuring line, and various other articles, more useful than ornamental. At this writing establishment, unique of its kind, he could turn his mind with equal facility, in company or alone, to any subject, whether of business, study, politics, instruction, or amusement, and move the minds of his hearers to laughter or tears at his pleasure."

“« That pudding! yes, that was the pudding Lady Holland asked the recipe for when she came to see us. I shook my head, and said it could not be done, even for her ladyship. She became more urgent; Mrs. Sydney was soft-hearted, and gave it. The glory of it almost turned cook's head: she has never been the same since. But our forte in the culinary line is our salads: I pique myself on our salads. Saba always dresses them after my recipe. I have put it into verse. Taste it, and if you like it, I will give it you. I was not aware how much it had contributed to my reputation, till I met Lady at Bowood, who begged to be introduced to me, saying, she had so long wished to know me. I was of course highly flat

my

[ocr errors]

6

6

tered, till she added, For, Mr. Smith, I have beard so much of your recipe for salads, that I was most anxious to obtain it from you.' Such and so various are the sources of fame!

• To make this condiment, your poet begs
The pounded yellow of two hard-boild eggs;
Two boil'd potatoes, pass'd through kitchen sieve,
Smoothness and softness to the salad give.
Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,
And, half-suspected, animate the whole.
of mordant mustard add a single spoon,
Distrust the condiment that bites so soon :
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault,
To add a double quantity of salt.
And, lastly, o'er the flavour'd compound toss
A magic soupçon of anchovy sauce.
Oh, green and glorious! oh, herbaceous treat!
"Twould tempt the dying anchorite to eat:
Back to the world he'd turn his flecting soul,
And plunge his fingers in the salad-bowl!
Serenely full, the epicure would say,

Fate cannot harm me, I have dined to-day.'" *** Have you heard my parody on Pope ?-

Why has not man a collar and a log ?
For this plain reason-man is not a dog.
Why is not man served up with sauce in dish ?

For this plain reason-man is not a fish.
There are a great many other whys, but I will spare you.'

· Was not - very disagreeable? Why, he was as disagreeable as the occasion would permit,' Luttrell said.

Nobody was more witty or more bitter than Lord Ellenborough. A young lawyer, trembling with fear, rose to make his first speech, and began: My lord, my, unfortunate client—My, lord, my un. fortunate client--My lord- Go on, Sir, go on,' said Lord E.; • as far as you bave proceeded hitherto, the Court is entirely with you. This was perhaps irresistible ; but yet, how wicked! how cruel! it deserves a thousand years' punishment at least.

• Luttrell used to say, I hate the sight of monkeys, they remind me so of poor relations."

"Oh, they were all so beautiful, that Paris could not have decided between them, but would have cut his apple in slices.'

• When I went into Rundell and Bridges', there were heaps of diamonds lying loose about the counter. I never saw so many temptations, and so little apparent watchfulness. I thought there were many sops, and no Cerberus. But they told me, when I asked, that there were unseen eyes directed upon me in every part of the shop.'

Speaking of Lady Murray's mother, who had a most benevolent countenance : Her smile is so radiant, that I believe it would force even a gooseberry-bush into flower.'

Some young person, answering on a subject in discussion, “I don't know that," he said, smiling; Ah! what you don't know would make a great book, as C-replied to B

I never go to tragedies, my heart is too soft. There is too much real misery in life. But what a face she had! The gods do not bestow such a face as Mrs. Siddons' on the stage more than once in

[ocr errors]

a century. I knew her very well, and she had the good taste to laugh heartily at my jokes; she was an excellent person, but she was not remarkable out of her profession, and never got out of tragedy even in common life. She used to stab the potatoes; and said, .boy, give me a knife!' as she would have said, 'give me the dagger!'

Oh, Mrs. Sydney believes it is all true ; and when I went with her to the play, I was always obliged to sit behind her, and whisper, • Why, Kate, he is is not really going to kill her,-she is not really dead, you know;' or she would have cried her eyes out, and gone into hysterics.'

Ali gentlemen and ladiese at too much. I made a calculation, and found I must have consumed some waggon-loads too much in the course of my life. Lock up the mouth, and you have gained the victory. I believe our friend. Lady Morley, has hit upon the right plan in dining modestly at two. When we are absorbed in side. dishes, and perplexed with variety of wines, she sits amongst us, lightly flirting with a potato, in full possession of her faculties, and at liberty to make the best use of them,-a liberty, it must be owned, she does not neglect, for how agreeable she is! I like Lady Morley; she is what I call good company.'

'Never was known such a summer as this ; water is selling at threepence a pint, My cows drink beer, my horses ale.'

• The French certainly understand the art of furnishing better than we do; the profusion of glass in their rooms gives such gaiety. I remember entering a room with glass all round it, at the French Embassy, and saw myself reflected on every side. I took it for a meeting of the clergy, and was delighted of course.'

In composing, as a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written ; you have no idea what vigour it will give your style.

The conversation turning on I forget who, it was said so well, . There is the same difference between their tongues as between the hour and the minute hand; one goes ten times as fast, and the other signifies ten times as much.'

"I think no house is well fitted up in the country without people of all ages. There should be an old man or women to pet ; a parrot, a child, a monkey;—something, as the French say, to love and to despise. I have just bought a parrot, to keep my servants in good humour.'

No, I don't like dogs; I always expect them to go mad. A lady asked me once for a motto for her dog Spot. "I proposed, Out, damned Spot !' but she did not think it sentimental enough. You remember the story of the French Marquise, who, when her pet lap-dog bit a piece out of her footman's leg, exclaimed, 'Ah, poor little beast: 'I hope it won't make him sick. I called one day on Mrs. and her lap.dog flew at my leg and bit it. After pitying her dog, like the French Marquise, she did all she could to comfort me, by assuring me the dog was a Dissenter, and hated the Church, and was brought up in a Tory family. But whether the bite came from madness or Dissent, I knew inyself too well to neglect it; and went on the instant to a surgeon and had it cut out, making a mem. on the way to enter that house no more,'

my life!'

[ocr errors]

• If you want to make much of a small income, always ask yourself these two questions :-first, do I really want it? secondly, can I do without it? These two question, answered honestly, will double your fortune. I have always inculcated it in my family.'

• Lady is a remarkably clever, agreeable woman, but Nature has made one trifling omission—a heart; I do like a little heart, I must confess.'

• I never was asked in all my life to be a trustee or an executor. No one believes that I can be a plodding man of business, as mindful of its dry details as the gravest and most stupid man alive.'

• I have heard that one of the American ministers in this country was so oppressed by the numbers of his countrymen applying for in. troductions, that he was obliged at last to set up shamSydney Smiths and false Macaulays. But they can't have been good coun. terfeits; for a most respectable American, on his return home, was heard describing Sydney Smith, as a thin, grave, dull, old fellow; and as to Macaulay (said he), I never met a more silent man in all

Talking of Mrs. . She has not very clear ideas, though, about the tides. I remember, at a large party at-House, her insisting that it was always high tide at London-bridge at twelve o'clock. She referred to me: • Now, Mr. Smith, is it not so? I answered, “It used not to be so, I believe, formerly, but perhaps the Lord Mayor and Aldermen have altered it lately.'

• Mr. once came to see us in Yorkshire; and he was so small and so active, he looked exactly like a little spirit running about in a kind of undress without a body.'

Speaking of a robbery : It is Bacon, I think, who says so beau. tifully, • He that robs in darkness breaks God's lock. How fine that is !

On some persons mentioning Mr. — : Yes, I honour him for his talents and character, and his misfortunes have softened the little asperities of his manner, and made him much more agreeable. Tears are the waters of the heart.'

* People complain of their servants : I never had a bad one; but then I study their comforts, that is one recipe for securing good servants.'*

• Dante, in his · Purgatoria,' would have assigned five hundred years of assenting to and as many to - of praising his fellow-creatures.'

• I have divided mankind into classes. There is the Noodle-very numerous, but well-known,--the Affliction-woman,

,-a valuable member of society, generally an ancient spinster, or distant relation of the family, in small circumstances: the moment she hears of any accident or distress in the family, she sets off, packs up her little bag, and is immediately established there, to comfort, fatter, fetch, and carry. The Up-takers,-a class of people who only see through their fingers' ends, and go through a room taking up and touching

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* He hardly ever lost a servant but from marriage or death.

everything, however visible and however tender. The Clearers,who begin at the dish before them, and go on picking or tasting till it is cleared, however large the company, small the supply, and rare the contents. The Sheep.walkers,—those who never deviate from the beaten track, who think as their fathers have thought since the flood, who start from a new idea as they would from guilt. The Lemon-squeezers of society,--people who act on you as a wet blanket, who see a cloud in the sunshine, the nails of the coffin in the ribbons of the bride, predictors of evil, extinguishers of hope ; who, where there are two sides, see only the worst, people whose very look curdles the milk, and sets your teeth on edge. The Let-wellaloners,-cousins-german to the Noodle, yet a variety; people who have begun to think and to act, but are timid, and afraid to try their wings, and tremble at the sound of their own footsteps as they advance, and think it safer to stand still. Then the Washerwomen,very numerous, who exclaim, Well! as sure as ever I put on my best bonnet, it is certain to rain,' etc. There are many more, but I forget them.

Oh yes ! there is another class, as you say; people who are al. ways treading on your gouty foot, or talking in your deaf ear, or asking you to give them something with your lame hand, stirring up your weak point, rubbing your sore, etc.

• The advice I sent to the Bishop of New Zealand, when he had to receive the cannibal chiefs there, was to say to them, I deeply regret, Sirs, to have nothing on my own table suited to your tastes, but you will find plenty of cold curate and roasted clergyman on the sideboard;' and if, in spite of this prudent provision, his visitors should end their repast by eating him likewise, why I could only add, • I sincerely hoped he would disagree with them. In this last senti. ment he must cordially have agreed with me; and, upon the whole, he must have considered it a useful hint, and would take it kindly. Don't you think so ?'

On joining us in the drawing-room, and sitting down to the teatable : • Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea ? how did it exist ? I am glad I was not born before tea. I can drink any quantity when I have not tasted wine ; otherwise I am haunted by blue-devils by day, and dragons by night. Ify

f you want to improve your understanding, drink coffee. Sir James Mackintosh used to say, he believed the difference between one man and another was produced by the quantity of coffee he drank.'

• O'Connell presented me to the Irish members as the powerful and entertaining advocate of the Irish Catholic claims.'

Talking of the ardour of country gentleman for preserving game: • I believe

would die for his game. He is truly a pheasantminded man; he revenged himself upon me by telling all the Joe Millers he could find as my jokes.'

• Oh, the Dean of deserves to be preached to death by wild curates.'

Talking of New Year's Day and Christmas: No, the returns of those fixed periods always make me melancholy. I am glad when we have fairly turned the corner, and started afresh. I feel, like

« PreviousContinue »