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gardens, could find nothing better to say of them than to compare them, with true French politesse, to Marie Antoinette
Semblable à son auguste et jeune Deité,
Trianon joint la grâce avec la majesté. A Parisian's notions of the pastoral very seldom range beyond the Court and the metropolis. Fatigued with gazing upon stone buildings and glaring statues, I wandered into an unfrequented part of these delicious groves, to recreate my aching eyes with the sight of verdant lawns and the pleasant green light that oozes through boughs and leaves ; and never have I felt the bewitching power of Nature with more intense enjoyment than in the few exquisite minutes passed amid the silent shades of the little Trianon. Contrast imparted an irresistible charm to the beauties of the scene, which melted the soul like the first meeting with those we love after a long separation. Seated under the shade of a chesnut-tree, I saw across the green sward before me a beautiful cluster of foliage, consisting of aspens, acacias, limes, and white ash trees; and as their light feathery boughs kept undulating in the wind, I could hardly help fancying that they did it on purpose to engage my attention to the rustling of their leaves, whose sound seemed to reproach me gently for my long secession from the worship of Nature; and at last, with more vivacious music, to welcome me back to her sylvan dominions. In the enthusiasm of the moment, I made a mental vow of future fealty and devotion; and in the stern necessity that invariably starts up to dissipate all the day-dreams of romance, and illusions of fancy, I answered the impatient summons of our guide, and got quietly into the carriage that re-conducted us along dusty roads to the hermitage of-the Chaussée d'Antin at Paris. When again alone, I seriously doubted whether I had done right in withdrawing myself from the welcome of the woods; for never had the iron tongues of Bow bells rung out a more distinct summons to Whittington, than did the silver voices of the leaves pour into my ear as I listened to their song; and I amused myself with conjecturing what rural honours “ Jove in his chair, of the sky Lord Mayor," would have showered down upon me, had I yielded to the invitation of the French Dryads and Hamadryads. I had not yet settled whether I should have been converted into a silk-stocking Faunus, leading out his Dryope to perform pirouettes and entrechats on a smooth grass-plot-or a royal huntsman, such as I had seen at Versailles, with a monstrous cocked hat, a sword by his side, and red velvet inexpressibles,—when in this pleasing uncertainty I fell fast asleep.
REFLECTIONS ON PLUM-PUDDING, BY A POOR GENTLEMAN.
MR. Editor,-For the sake of giving harmonious clearness to this Essay, let me describe the circumstances that have induced me to send it. This is beginning ab ovo, or from the egg ; but what then ? is a fresh egg an unimportant ingredient in a plum-pudding? I must also speak of myself. But be so good, Sir, as to respect me; for though poor, I am a gentleman. I am no admirer of such vulgar plumpuddings as are doled out to the unwashed artificer from the common
cook's shop or the wheelbarrow. No, Sir, I love only such as breathe, like Milton's music, a steam of rich distilled perfumes.” Such were those which were once revealed to me from beneath the silver cover of my friend ;--but he is gone, and with him the days of pleasurable and pudding recollections-perhaps never to return.
I live genteelly in an attic lodging up three pair of stairs, and support myself and a grey cat in a state of honourable independence and sleekness—(I apply the sleekness to my cat, and not myself.) Necessity, however, drove me lately to make a sly attempt at employment from a bookseller. I called on Messrs. Blank and Blank-(well may I call them blank, for they sent me away very blank, and I could have piously tossed them in a blanket.) I inquired about literature, and how authors contrived to live. “On bullock's liver," said the bookseller.
“ We have two hundred sermons a year from the Reverend Hum Drum, and fifty volumes of history from Dr. Dryrott, warranted to us better than Hume's or Robertson's, at the rate of a halfpenny a paragraph. High feeding, Sir, makes authors abdominous and stupid. What clever selling elegies Boyce would have written, with his hand stuck through a hole in the blanket, had you kept him from porter. But we are liberal, Sir,—nobody more so.” I thought to myself, there is no plum-pudding to be found here; and went home chop-fallen, to dine on a solitary chop. But the thoughts of plum-pudding still haunted me. Next morning came the red-cheeked and curly-pated butcher's boy to my door, and hinted his expectation of a Christmas-box by a message desiring to know if I wanted any suet for a Christmaspudding ; for that the apothecary over the way had bespoken nine pounds of suet for the aforesaid dish. “Go,” said I, “boy, learn of the apothecary's cook how many guests are to consume this pudding, and be assured of thy Christmas-box.” He returned like lightning-Cook was positive that the dining-room could dine only eighteen persons.
Now then began I to reflect. Nine pounds of suet, suppose as many of flour, and twice as many of fruit, besides etceteras. Here is half a pound of suet to each particular stomach, without reckoning other things. Let me call upon you, Mr. Editor, by all that is dear to you in Christmas revels, to reflect on the sublime and beautiful conception of this apothecary's plum-pudding. What “double double toil and trouble" to his cook, and what clanging of pestles and future employment for his prentices, thus providently stored up by his hospitality in the bowels of his friends and customers !—I meant to have written a long Essay on the subject; but hope that what I have written will bring me a sum sufficient to save me from the horrors of spending Christmas without a pudding. And with respectful compliments from my grey cat, which a punning friend calls a cat of praise-worthy humour, (or laudable pus,) I remain your respectful humble servant,
LETTER FROM INDIA.
My dear C
Calcutta. Or all the miseries of human life, nonc, I find, are sooner forgotten than those endured on ship-board. The shore is such a healing balsam, that a four-and-twenty hours' application effaces almost every scratch. Though I may be said to be still dripping with the salt spray, and to have the sound of waters still “ ringing in my ears,” yet all the crosses and accidents of my voyage are fast fading away; or, if they are in part remembered, it is only to hug myself, and think how much more agreeable is my present situation than tumbling in the Bay of Bengal. Besides, there is the satisfaction of recounting these things. In contemplating the dangers and sufferings that are past, we are apt to give ourselves credit for a certain degree of fortitude which makes the recollection of them very delightful; we forget all the wry faces that were made at the time, and look most valiantly upon the perils that are no more. My days at sea passed away in a sort of reverie. I have most imperfect and indistinct recollections of all that was said, or done, or thought, during that period : there was neither mile-stone nor prospect to mark the way, nor incidents to note the time; and really if I were not positively assured by the concurrent testimony of most respectable witnesses, I am inclined to think I should dispute both. A thought, a single thought you know, " is capable of years ;" and vice versa, a long life may be lived in a day. Hence some divines have charitably inferred, in their dark metaphysics, that the dying sinner may be actually suffering the torture of ages in his expiring agony.
ask me for my adventures on my way hither, I can only say, that I have eaten, drunk, and slept—that I have sat for hours and days watching the sea and the clouds, and speculating upon porpoises and flying-fish-" et præterea nihil.” If it were possible to give utterance to the wayward fancies that have occupied my attention " thick as the motes that people the sun's beam," they would sound more like the day-dreams of a fever-stricken man than the cogitations of a rational being. Upon turning over the leaves of my journal
, (a morocco-bound book of considerable thickness, bought in England expressly for the purpose of noting down strange incidents and useful observations,) I find only one note in these few words : “ Crossed the ine, Nov, -" As an exception, ever, to the general monotony of this voyage, I have some reason to remember one or two events, the first of which took place at Madeira about twelve days after leaving the Land's End.
It was late in the evening when we made that island; and orders were given for the ship to stand off and on during the night, in order that we might land early on the ensuing morning. Unhappily, these orders were injudiciously obeyed; the wind failed during the night, and at day-break we found ourselves becalmed within five miles of shore. It was Sunday; the convent bells tolling for mass were distinctly heard, but we waited in vain for a breeze, till at two o'clock our patience being exhausted, the jolly-boat was hoisted out and we crowded into her to the number of sixteen, including the captain and four boys at the oar. Every body who has been at Madeira must recollect the Lew rock, a higli craggy point which is severed from the main land, and is used as a signal-fort; upon reaching which we were met by the custom-house boat with an officer on board, who demanded our “ Bill of Health.” With this we were unfortunately not provided, and in consequence were ordered to remain in our boat close under the Lew rock till our case could be represented on shore, and permission sent off for us to land. Here we staid for some hours in a most disagreeable state of suspense. In the mean time the day was wearing fast away, and no answer arrived. The sky became overcast with clouds that swept across the face of the heavens—the air grew chilly—the wind rose, and instead of the smooth glittering surface over which we had glided in the morning, the sea was broken up into billows that began to shew their curling heads. The captain grew impatient to rejoin his ship, having made no arrangements for passing the night on shore; and after venting his discontent in a volley of oaths and grumbling, he gave the order to “shove off.” As we were doing this the sentry from the top of the rock, whose form was half hid in the approaching darkness, was observed waving his hand with violence, and bending his body in the act of calling to us ; but his signs were not understood ; his voice was drowned in the wind and the roaring of the sea. As I gazed upon this man, a chilling and foreboding anxiety came over me, and his unintelligible sounds fell upon my ear like the mysterious warning voice of the Prophet. His meaning was too soon apparent. From his lofty position he could see the approaching storm, which was hid from us. We had scarcely cleared the rock when we found ourselves in a tumbling sea that was rising every moment with the wind, and soon became formidable to our small and crowded boat. The sun was just sinking amidst a thick bank of clouds (and you will recollect there is no twilight in this latitude)—the tops of the hills and back part of the island, which had been shut out from our view while under the lee of the land, now shewed themselves covered with clouds, and every thing gave token that the squall would increase into a violent gale. We were at once aware of our danger :-we had no sail—the boys were exhausted with their exertions during the heat of the day, and in such a sea we could not relieve them. We would gladly have put back; but it was impossible. The wind and waves drove us rapidly from the shore. Our ship was tacking about in the distance, half her mast just visible above water ;if we missed her—beyond was the ocean—night and storm. most of us landsmen ; but we should not have felt so much alarm had our captain betrayed less symptoms of apprehension. I sat near him, and could see his countenance change as he looked from the sea to the sky. His boisterous overbearing accent of command sunk into a tone of familiar entreaty, as he encouraged the boys at the oar ; and told plainly of the fearful equality to which danger levels all distinctions. His face grew very pale, and he exclaimed—" I would give one hundred guineas, gentlemen, if we were safe at yonder ship!” This was not comforting. In the mean time the sea was every moment rising, and looked tremendous-every wave covered us with spray ; but we contrived to break its violence by fastening an oar astern, an expedient commonly resorted to in such cases ; and two of our party were sent forward to trim the boat-one of these was my brother, and, as I saw his youth
ful and delicate form tossed to and fro amid the boisterous element, I could not help thinking for a moment what would have been the sensations of his mother, had she beheld him in such a situation. As it grew darker, we fastened a white pocket-bandkerchief to the end of the boathook, in the hopes of attracting the attention of the ship; and when this miserable scanty flag was suspended aloft, and was scattered in the wind and spray, it looked indeed like a “ forlorn hope.” At first we imagined that this expedient had been successful, for the ship seemed bearing down upon us, and we were flushed with expectation. But in a few minutes she tacked, and all possibility of reaching her seemed at an end. If I live to be an old man, I shall never forget the sensations of that moment–it were ridiculous to attempt a description in words; but I am sure it is a terrible thing to meet death with open eyes and the full possession of all one's faculties. Still we did not utterly despair—there was yet a little light left : the ship might possibly change her course; but fear seemed to have paralized our efforts--the oars were almost useless--we made no way, and for many minutes there was no rational expectation of saving our lives. Of what occurred during this horrible interval, I have a very indistinct recollection. I remember, however, being struck with the various forms in which fear displayed itself—some were silent, some talkative, some prayed, some laughed. One young man lamented bitterly his disappointment in not having tasted the Malmsey Madeira, and the grapes he had promised himself; and another, a young officer, seated at my right, was eternally occupied in letting fall and picking up his sword and sash, which his fingers seemed incapable of detaining, in their grasp. My own arm was perfectly black, the next morning, from the violence with which it was seized by my companion on the left. These and other such things were hardly noticed at the time, but were recollected upon afterwards comparing notes.
We were roused from a sort of stupor by a sudden squall and shift of wind, accompanied with heavy rain, which obliged our ship to go upon another tack. We emerged from our despair to the wildest exultation; for a few minutes brought us so near to each other that our cries were heard, though it was then too dark to see us till we were close alongside. In a word, we exchanged our frail vessel for an ark of comparative safety : our drenched clothes were put off, and the fried bacon and mutton-chops that were eaten that night (though no very savoury dainties in their way), and the punch that was drunk (which really was very choice), will, I make no doubt, be remembered by all who composed the party to their dying day.--I recollect reading when a school-boy, in Campbell's Overland Journey to India, an account of a ship-wreck, and being much struck with a passage in which he relates, that as the ship was near going down, he saw a little black boy seated on the poop, crying most bitterly, and at the same time voraciously devouring some mangoes that were in a basket beside him. This always appeared to me a most unaccountable story; but I can now perfectly comprehend it. So much for the dangers of the sea ; but allow me to add, that it is worth while being a little initiated into these mysteries, if it be only to enjoy Falconer's Poem, which cannot be truly relished but upon the high