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The Old Ledger.
EDITED AND ILLUSTRATED BY ALFRED CROWQUILL.
LTHOUGH possessed of an ample fortune, and the seventh son of a seventh son, I must candidly confess I am no conjuror and that, with the best intentions in the world, and a craving desire of pleasing everybody, by some strange and unforeseen fatality I am continually driving my pigs to a wrong market,' and have never by any chance been fortunate enough to hit the right nail upon the head.' Any mortal, imbued with a single spoonful less of
the milk of human kindness, would have long ere this been completely soured by such a series of untoward mishaps and disappointments as it has been my lot to experience; but a renewed and apparently inexhaus. tible hope still urges me on in the pleasant endeavour to gratify the feelings of others. At present, every fairy fabric I have raised ap pears built upon a foundation of sand, and ends, like the pursuit of
a rainbow, in disappointment. I appear diurnally verifying that line of the immortal Pope,
Man never is, but always to be blest.'
Wherein consists the fault I know not; but of this I am perfectly convinced, that it is the error of love, and not the love of error, as Bacon quaintly expresses it.
The other day I invited a select party to a trip to Richmond, and provided boots and provisions for their transport and entertainment. was early at my toilet; for I like punctuality, and never allow people to fret away their good humour in dancing attendance, or beating the devil's tattoo on my drawing-room tables.
Brown, one of the best fellows that ever stepped in shoe-leather, and the most sincere and attached of my numerous acquaintances, was announced.
'Show him up,' said I to the servant.
Excuse me, Jeffs, for intruding on your privacy at this unseasonable hour; but I thought I might probably be of some service to you in making the necessary arrangements for this day's excursion."
Excuse you, indeed!' cried I, warmly grasping his hand; this kindness rather deserves my thanks. I hope your rheumatism is better?'
'So-so,' replied he, shrugging up his shoulders. You know how sensitive I am to damp; and, as the autumn approaches, I have more need of precaution than ever."
True,' answered I; but I see you have prudently clothed yourself for the occasion.'
'Yes,' said Brown. I hope our friends will follow my example; for, however promising the day may appear, the evenings, Jeffs, are usually misty at this season of the year. The ladies are too often blameably careless in attiring themselves for these parties. For my own part, I feel perfectly secure; but I do fear-'
Fear what" exelaimed I, swinging my suspended Wellingtonboots by the 'tugs'
6 That this present pleasure may be purchased by colds, and other troublesome consequences of exposure.'
Do you think so?' said I.
'I do indeed,' replied my excellent friend.
'And how shall we avoid this dangerous drawback on our pleasures?' demanded I.
Put on your boot,' said he.
'I begin to think I have already "put my foot in it," replied I, smiling bitterly at the gloomy prospect of my kind intentions being frustrated. C My usual luck! But pray, my dear friend, what do you advise? I would not for the world run the risk of—'
A thought strikes me!' exclaimed he, suddenly interrupting me. Suppose let me see-you have ordered the coaches to take us to the boats?'
'Yes, yes,' said I, impatiently.
Then I'll tell you what we'll do,' continued he. Order the coaches to drive to the Forest, and let's have a pic-nic instead, and let the boats go to the-wharfs again.'
'My dear friend,' cried I, 'you have saved a "drowning man," and
deserve a medal from the Humane Society. It shall be done—and what a surprise it will be to the whole company!'
And an agreeable one, I have no doubt,' added the ingenious
It is impossible for words to express how grateful I felt for the kind interference of my friend. The coaches arrived, and presently followed the whole bevy of my acquaintance.
As Brown had predicted, the ladies were gaily but thinly clad, while all the gentlemen wore check shirts, round jackets, and white trowsers, bearing in their hands fishing-rods and landing-nets. Brown looked at me and smiled. I acknowledged his telegraphic intelligence with a nod; for I had more reason than ever to be pleased at his foresight and arrangement. We soon filled the vehicles, and chatting and laughing almost imperceptibly, reached our destination.
The surprise of the whole company was prodigious. As they were getting out of the carriages, three or four sportsmen (vulgar Cockneys they must have been) not only laughed outright, but made sundry impertinent observations on the nautical attire of our male friends.
It was certainly not quite in harmony with the scene, I must confess; but they all laughed, threw back their fishing-tackle into the vehicles, and appeared to enjoy the 'surprise' exceedingly.
How difficult it is to fathom the breasts of mankind! Two days afterwards I learned that the whole party were illiberal enough to attribute my prudent conduct to a fickleness of purpose, and a wanton waywardness of disposition-ungraciously declaring that they were grievously disappointed, and that the whole affair went off flatly!
Notwithstanding the acknowledged elegance of my suburban establishment, I was well aware that it was wanting in that chief domestic ornament a wife.
Being connubially inclined, I looked cautiously around me in order to select an appropriate helpmate.
An orderly family, which was well to do in the world, consisting of a father and two grown-up daughters, attracted my attention; and I was resolved if the eldest, upon a nearer acquaintance, proved agreeable to my wishes, to pop the question. I soon had an opportunity of inviting them to a snug family party.
Everything was put in requisition for this welcome, when Jackson on the eventful morning dropped in to take a snack with me. I mentioned the intended meeting.
'It's all very well, my dear fellow,' said he; but a bachelor giving a family party is really rather outré, and I think it will most probably prove a failure.'
'Do you think so?' cried I, trembling with apprehension at the prospect of such an issue.
"Pon my word I do,' replied he. Now, if it were my case— 'What would you do?'
Why, invite a lot of my friends to meet them, to be sure-get up little music and singing-and, if I found the thing take, “kick up quadrille.'
'Nonsense!' cried Jackson; 'you're too fastidious by half. Leave the affair to me. You provide the room, and I'll provide the company.' With the assistance of this truly valuable and disinterested friend, the
'Excellent!' exclaimed I. But the worst of it is, the time is too
matter was promptly arranged, and the invitations issued. The chandelier and the candelabras were scarcely lighted before Mr. Wilkinson and his daughters arrived, and close upon his heels tripped in the juveniles, all in holiday trim. But she, who in my mind's eye I regarded as my intended, and her sister, were plainly attired, and I suspected, with that constitutional sensitiveness which is indeed my bane, that there was rather too much of that shrinking modesty of the violet about the two sisters. In fact, they could not sing, and would not dance; the eldest candidly declaring, they they were not attired for the quadrille, and did not anticipate such an entertainment! They appeared, however, quite pleased with the music and singing, and I was resolved to thaw their frigidity by my exertions. I sang, recited, and buffooned away the whole evening, assisted by the inimitable Jackson, who certainly played first fiddle' on the occasion.
Alas! all my exertions proved worse than fruitless; for the very next invitation I sent to the Wilkinsons brought an icy note from the father, politely apologizing, and candidly expressing his opinion, that my pursuits and pastimes so ill accorded with his and that of his family, that he considered it best at once to decline any further communication. The very coldness of the note threw me into a profuse perspiration. I read it to Jackson. He raised his brows, and whis
That's it!' whispered he, slapping his thigh. 'What's it?' demanded I.
Why, they're Methodists,' replied he; ' and you've put your foot in it nicely."
I thought this rather abrupt, considering I had followed his advice.
'Now I recollect,' continued he, 'I remember seeing the name of Wilkinson down for ten guineas to one of the missionary concerns. I'll tell you what to do. There is to be a meeting at the Hephzihah chapelattend it-subscribe (it's a good cause), and you may probably regain his good graces.'
I was resolved to shoot this arrow, hit or miss. The Wilkinsons were there, and the worthy old man made a long speech upon the occasion; in fact, he appeared to be quite a leading man. The list of subscriptions was read over, and my heart fluttered. There was none exceeding one guinea but Mr. Wilkinson's, who was down for ten. All right!' whispered Jackson. I felt an indescribable glow when my name was pronounced, coupled with the donation of twenty pounds! I saw the colour mount in the sallow cheeks of Wilkinson, and I thought that his daughters acknowledged my liberality with a blush.
But a few days convinced me of my error. My liberality only produced envy it was called purse-proud arrogance by the little subscribers; and as for Wilkinson, whose pride it had been always to be at the head of the list, he regarded my conduct as an open insult, only intended to lower him in the estimation of the multitude! And so the breach was widened, and never to be repaired.
Surely the art of pleasing is as difficult of attainment as the discovery of the philosopher's stone! At least it has been my misfortune to verify this position.
Two political partisans, both intimate friends of mine, quarrelled at the late election. Now I, who really love harmony, determined to act
the part of pacificator, and invited both to a dinner-party on the same day.
The consequences were anything and everything but what I fondly anticipated. Only one cracked a bottle on the occasion, and that literally; for in the heat of a turbulent argument one of my friends so far forgot himself as to hurl a decanter at the defenceless head of his antagonist! The scene of confusion that followed beggars all description. The meeting broke up in most admired disorder; and the next morning an exchange of shots settled the business-of one of my friends and compelled the precipitate flight of the other.
I was certainly born under some malignant star!
Being at a party during the Christmas vacation, where there was, as usual at such a season, a sprinkling of the juvenile branches, I happened to fall into conversation with a sprightly youth, about twelve years of age, to whose vivid description of his pranks I listened with all the attention and delight which the renewed memory of my own boyish exploits naturally gave birth to. I smiled at his plans of pleasure, and sympathized with him in his complaint of the parental restriction, for he had set his heart upon having a fire-balloon, which his father, for some prudential reasons, had forbidden.
The conversation ended with a promise on my part to invite a little party to my own house, and to provide the desired object of his wishes.
Cards were issued, appointing an early day, or rather evening; for I knew the sanguine disposition of a school-boy could not brook delay. Cakes, wine, music, gallantee-show, and snap-dragon, were provided in the drawing-room.
The small party impatiently repaired to the garden, where, with the assistance of my servants, we managed to inflate the balloon. It arose amid the applauding shouts of the juveniles; but, whether arising from our inexpertness in these matters or the wind, I know not, but it had scarcely soared above the tree-tops when it caught fire, and whirling about, fell plump, and was lost from our view in a mo
The disappointed murmurs of my little company aroused me; and, resolved not to give them time for any further expression of regret, I hurried them to the drawing-room. We were in the height of our amusement, when the door opened, and my groom entered unsummoned. 'O sir!' exclaimed he.
What's the matter?'
'What now?' inquired I.
'Among the haystacks in the meadow yonder,' replied the groom; ‘and it ain't blazing away a little, sir!'
'Dear me, how unfortunate! Have the engines arrived?'
'Ingins ain't much use, I don't think,' replied he.
"Some "Swing" business this, depend on't.'
'John says, sir, he thinks as how the thingamy dropped thereabouts.'
'The balloon, sir.'
"The devil!' cried I, my heart misgiving me: for I experienced strange apprehensions that this was one of those identical freaks which