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La! my dear M., what language!' exclaimed the wife, dipping a little meditatively into the heart of Barclay and Perkins' mystery.

'Can't say, if I was to lose my situation to-morrow,' replied Jones, after a pretence at a guess not worth noticing.

'Why!' said Mabby,-and he sat bolt upright as he was about to deliver himself of a dictum. 'Because, you see, when we're put to it, we take to our heels like good uns!'

Mabby laughed first and smartest, Jones was loudest, and Bibby was a clear quick tenor. Mrs. Mabby said, 'La! dear M., what language!' The host declared that he never tried this humdrum with greater effect; and, if the truth must be known, the nature of the supper was often regulated by this very joke, because our red-tape Joe Miller knew there was only one dish it would fit.

The cloth, at a word from the husband, was soon cleared; that is, the scanty white covering was peeled from the table, and three 'goblets sparkled on the board!' with plenty of hot water, three pipes, a bottle of best refined white, and four satisfied insides! When Mrs. Mabby saw that all was ready, like Nelson when he found everything prepared before Trafalgar's battle,-she sat down in her cabin, andlooked on!

• Now is the hour that wakens fond desire

In men of law, and melts their thoughtful hearts.'

Is there any action more indicative of peace, of harmless meditation of the dying day's decline,' than the mode in which a man in this working-day world, who then thinks himself somebody, however mild in the estimation of others he may be in the day, takes up a pipe, tries it, cleans it,-tallows it, or porters it,-loads, rams-no, presses-down, lights it, and, lifting it to his happy lips, lets thought go forth on the first cloud,

And gives to airy nothing
A local habitation.'

Each was soon suited. Jones, finding some little obstruction in the bowl, snorted through it like a grampus in trouble; but Bibby was soon sitting in a light silvery cloud, very much in the style of Madame Vestris in one of the Olympic revels. Mabby was elaborate in his preparations; but at length, having placed a littie wooden box before his feet like the seals, he 'took his seat." Mrs. M. had all the benefit of the air, which she always said was very wholesome.

A long pause, which, however, was clearly intended for breathing

time.

'Phe-e-e-uw!' sighed Jones, after the fashion of a steam-engine relieving its overfraught breast. 'Much doing last term? eh, Mr. Mabby?'

This inquiry was enough; pant-pant-pant went the agitated red fiery interior of Mabby's bowl; his eye gathered all its solemnity together. He drew out the pipe from his lips, stared and utteredUncommon!'

Bibby nodded assent, and sent forth an attenuated line of thin white smoke, and said he 'didn't doubt it.'

Uncommon!' repeated Mabby, in a way that left no peg to hang a doubt on.'

Mrs. Mabby lifted up her eyes, and looked as Lady Burleigh might have looked, on seeing Lord Burleigh perfect in the shake of his head, and shaking it.

'What a time you must have had of it! Mr. Slug is so quick and restless,' ejaculated Jones.

I'll tell you what it is, Jones; Slug is too quick for Chancery!' 'I've heerd so,' responded Jones.

He wants something to move every term. He won't let papers get dusty, which is the soul, if I may say so, of a chancery suit. He's a sort of creature, now, as would be for looking to the end of things; he'd be for winding up an eight-day clock every night. No-no! Slug is too quick!'

'Why don't you reason with him, eh? Why don't you explain what the natural course is?' remonstrated Jones.

'Why, I do-I do. I put the papers aside. I do nothing where I possibly can, to keep suits in their natural state; but then he roakes and pokes, and gets fidgety, and if any one comes in he will have the papers out, and will disturb things.'

'It's like waking a child out of its first sleep!' exclaimed Mrs. Mabby, her maternal feelings being touched by this description.

'Battye's a good man,' continued Mabby.

He wouldn't care if a suit never got out of the Master's office in his born days. He always asks in so proper a tone how such a matter goes on and you know at once by his manner that he means, how don't it go on.'

'Ah! that's something like a solicitor!" sighed Bibby. He never looks much over my petty cash!'

'No-no!' continued Mabby. 'He's one o' the old school-he is. If I tell him sometimes, "Chappel and Soundly, sir,-warrant to proceed.""Indeed, Mabby," says he, "what have you got on to that already." As much as to say, "Softly, my rapid!" Or sometimes I hint, "In the Humbubble charity, sir; may I bespeak draught report ?"—"No," says he, "take another warrant." As much as to say, "You'll burst your b'iler, Mr. Engineer, with that speed!" Battye's a man, now, as Lord Eldon would have doted on!'

All this office-criticism was carried on in the way that chancery business is generally conducted in the Master's office,-in a dense, self-created fog.

After a short pause, and a replenishing of the glasses, the triumvirate got more earnestly into conversation, and Mr. Mabby's criticism, doffing its domestic character, went up Chancery Lane, looked into the Six-Clerks' Office and the Courts, and got, like Othello, free and merry.'

'Chancery,' ejaculated the oracle of the fourth story, 'Chancery is one of the ninth wonders of the world!'

It is it is,' responded Bibby, and more than that, taking in the SixClerks' Office, and all.'

Ay, the Six-Clerks' Office; that I call a paradise to a real equity mind.'

'Not a shadow of a doubt about it!' said Jones. Though it never struck me before.'

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'The Six-Clerks' Office, when I've served my warrants, and aint in a hurry, is a sort of a church like, all is so still and pew-like!'

'So it is,' said Bibby, deeply struck with the picture.

'Pews, eh? Is there a pulpit, then, dear M. ?' said the lady.

Mabby continued, without heeding this interference, 'Everybody is examining nothing, and one feels awe-struck when one knows that a'most all the property on earth is asleep, as one may say, in this quiet place. It's like the lesson o' the day to a mind as thinks.'

All the party pretended to think at this sublime reflection of Mabby, until Jones thought it was high time to take his head out of his hat,' as he called the established pause of mingled meditation and prayer. the bar as strong now as ever you remember it, Mr. Mabby?'

'Is

This was touching the mighty master's key-bugle; he at once laid down his pipe, without a care whether it lived or died,' gathered and embraced his own hands across his own kneepan, elevated his eye-brows -the one a little higher than the other; motioned to his friends to fill, to which they silently assented; emptied the whole of his own draught at a gulp, as if to remove every obstacle from before him; put Mrs. Mabby a foot further from him; leant his head a little on one side, and commenced,

'Not by no means-by no manner of means! The Chancery bar I take to be the great Smithfield of intellect. Minds come there of the highest breed-if I may say so--to market; and, Lord! what prices they command!'

Sold, eh?' sighed Mrs. Mabby.

'I've seen such shows as won't easily be seen again. I've seen Plumer, and Romilly, and Hart, and Heald, and Bell, great prize creatures great creatures-great prize creatures. Hart was slow as heart could wish. Romilly was good, but snappish to managing clerks-a great blot! Plumer worked heavy, and became Master of the Rolls; and Heald didn't speak clear, and married. Bell-now Bell had a pleasing manner, and was as intelligible as most of 'em. I remember Rose, too; a sweet arguer; but Rose rose, and has gone out o' view into the Court of Review. P'r'aps he may come down again among us some day -somewhere! Talent's great now; but talent aint so 'stounding as it was and it never seems Chancery like to me to see new silk gowns. I remember Fonblanque's gown! I remember the time when nobody moved; and in Lord Eldon's time I no more thought of a new Chancellor than of a new mother.'

'I dare say not,' said Jones.

'Very natural!' sighed Mrs. M.

'There were the same officers for years; the same nosegay, I'm told; and the same tall black woman in weeds as used to sit, mad, waiting for a decree. If you left the Chancellor rubbing the calf of his leg on a Monday, you were as sure as Gospel to find him a-rubbing the same calf of a Thursday. No hurry then-no surprise-no-no-you might go back to office, go home, and lay your head on your pillow, satisfied your cause wasn't a bit nearer a hearing than ever! Them were days! Lincoln's Inn Hall then seemed filled with statu-wary.'

'Days indeed!-calcined days, I call 'em,' ejaculated Bibby,-who meant halcyon, it is to be presumed, but the word got entangled and he could not undo it. 'But of the present leaders now, eh, Mr. Mabby?'

Oh!' replied Mabby, 'there are very commanding gentlemen now, it

can't be denied; but, then, they ha'n't the quiet o' the others as are gathered. Knight Bruce-now Knight Bruce is very like a speaker, and distinct, and never misses not a syllable; and then, which is a great thing in Chancery, he won't take 'No' for an answer. He's sad savage at us, as prepares all for his fury-which ain't right-but I dare say he knows no better. But I'd rather go into Mr. Van What's-his-name's lion afore shinbone time, than venture into him at chambers. It's a no use a-hitting him over the nose, I can tell you; it may do very well with that wild beast, but it won't do with the other. Jacob, too-Mr. Jacob's a gentleman, and 'as climbed up well to the top. If I wished to climb, I wouldn't wish to do better than to use Jacob's ladder.'

Bibby did not know he had a ladder, and Mabby said he only spoke 'figatively.'

He's quite as good as Bruce, only he ain't so loud. Pemberton's as mild as one's sister, but as persevering as a bull-dog: you'd hardly think he could hold on so, to look him in the face. Kinderly—now Kinderly

Here Bibby, a little faint and overcome, silently dropped his glass, and spoiled the set. This accident broke in upon Mr. Mabby's court of review with most admired disorder.' Jones had so saturated himself with the spirit during this chancery harangue that his mind was as clouded as his outward head; and Mrs. Mabby was flurried out of a light broken sleep by the clattering of one of her complete set of three tumblers.

'Bless me! Mr. Bibby, was that you?' was all that pacific creature said on seeing her glass shivered, as Lord Byron called it, at her feet,' but without feeling her reflections multiplied.'

'Great indeed!-great-deed!' exclaimed Jones.
"Home !-time-home! Nine in the morning.

Happy-happy

night!'

Up rose Jones, with rather a heel on one side, it must be owned, suggested perhaps by the quality of his supper. Up, too, loofed himself, Bibby; and the two little weak elevations, like two modern erections by a speculating builder, immediately leant against, and depended upon each other for support. Mabby was as sober as a judge; and, taking the candle, marched the imbecile pair 'the way that they were going.' The stairs were not difficult of descent, as was proved by two or three being taken now and then at once; and at every landing-place the party evidently received stifled blessings from the interior: the twistings around the bannisters were, however, intricate in the extreme, and Bibby occasionally swarmed down very steep bits. Arrived at the door, there was a profuse display of open-eyed, staring, meaningless gratitude, and ginand-water happiness. Never such a night!' and 'What a blessing in Mrs. Mabby!' and 'Heaven bless yous!' were as thick as rain-drops in a thunder-shower. Mabby allowed the two to go out like a couple of flickering rush-lights, calling after them to be regular in the morning, as there was a warrant to proceed in the 'Humbubble charity.'

Mabby retired to his repose, as quietly as the most aged and familiar chancery suit under his care. Mrs. Mabby followed on the same side,' and only regretted it was so late, as she had to be up to-morrow 'to wash.'

Is it not strange that these hard-worked, ill-paid, harassed, humbled clerks, took the colour of their pleasures from the hues of their occupation? I presume that as the soldier and sailor find delight in fighting all their battles over again, and in thrice slaying the slain; so the law-clerk conjures up a phantom enjoyment from dwelling at his ease at night, upon the drudgeries and sufferings he actually encounters and endures in the day.

H. R.

MODERN ENGLISH DRAMATISTS.

MR. SERJEANT TALFOURD.

ONE of the favourite topics of discussion with the periodical writers of the day is the state of the dramatic art in England, which, we are gravely assured, is wasting away under the gradual pressure of a hopeless atrophy. There is some truth in this assertion, but it is not true to the full extent of its meaning, but must be understood in a qualified sense. The taste for the acted drama is certainly on the decline, and has been so for years; but dramatic genius is so far from being in the same condition, that we have more of it at this moment among us than we have had since the mighty masters of the art passed from the stage of life. For the last century and a half we have had no such writers as we now possess in Joanna Baillie, Beddoes, Knowles, Talfourd, Hunt, Horne, Browning, and others whose names do not at present occur to us; for the Addisons, Youngs, Johnsons, Moores, and Lillos of the eighteenth century,-eminent as some of these were in other departments of literature,-were assuredly not dramatists in the strict acceptation of the term; for they know not how to touch the passions skilfully, or give its due predominance to action, but relied for effect on pompous, ornate diction, and exaggerated delineation of character. Home is the best of this frigid and formal school, for he does occasionally sound the true chord of feeling; nevertheless, his Douglas' is at best but a languid performance, putting us off with declamation, when we look for passion, and substituting florid description for spirited and progressive action.

It will be observed that we here speak only of the tragic drama; for we have no writers of comedy among us. That is a branch of the art, which dealing with more familiar matters, and being dependent for its existence on the manners, fashions, and other floating peculiarities of the day, necessarily languishes, grows dim, and dies,' whenever these, by reason of their general sameness and want of originality, -as is the case at present, cease to supply the comic muse with nutriment. As regards the tragic drama, then, we repeat that it is just now in a more thriving condition than it has been since the Ultimus Romanorum-the last of our great dramatists-expired in the person of Shirley; and that it can only be said to be declining in popular estimation, with reference to its representation on the stage. And the cause of this decline is obvious, and may be summed up in a sentence. It is not that one theatre has a monopoly, and another has none; that one manager has a fancy for raree shows, and another for operas; no, the cause is, that we have no first-rate tragic actors. Intelligent ones we have, whose judgment, disciplined by experience, is a sufficient guarantee that they will acquit themselves creditably in whatever part they may undertake; but we have none in whose conception and working out of character we can recognize that commanding power of genius which lays a spell on our imagination, and probes our roused sensibilities to the quick. Instead of bringing him a host in themselves, our modern tragedians are too often compelled to lean for support exclusively on the dramatist, and when his genius happens to nod-aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus-they cannot, as Siddons, Kemble, and Kean could do, even with such indifferent plays as the Gamester, Cato, and Bertram, excite and maintain an intercst for themselves.

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