Page images
[ocr errors]

can be his projects? Is he going into parliament, or into La Trappe-or what?'

'It will be the greatest loss this nation ever sustained!' added the second, with oracular solemnity. What a patron has he been to the arts!—the marmite perpetuelle has bubbled ever since his accession!-Truffles have been imported by him, under a treasury warrant; and his Sillery came direct from Epernay, under an escort of the municipal guard!'

'I once encountered a caravan in crossing Mount Cenis,' faltered a third, in querimonious accents, and, from the importance of the convoy, conceived that it must contain some royal corpse, or a copy of the Transfiguration for the National Gallery.-My lords and gentlemen, it was a Parmesan cheese-a cheese FOR HIM!'

'An argosy is annually freighted for him from Bourdeaux,' cried another.

'He keeps a frigate to cruise in the Yellow Sea with his Madeira,' rejoined the first.

Jamaica forwards him her first turtle,' cried his Grace.

'A*** Park its last buck,' rejoined his Lordship.

'Petersburg presents its compliments to him with a pot of caviar-'

'Marseilles, with a jar of tunny-'

'Java sends him soy and birds' nests-'

'India, her buffalos' humps-’

'Iceland, her reindeer's tongues-'
'Archangel, her Sterlet soup-'

All the kingdoms of the earth bring tribute to him!' moaned a chorus of voices;-and by this time, not only were tears in my eyes, but water was in my mouth.

'And then such a financier!' resumed one of the mourners ;—' in his own person a consolidated fund!—I have been drawing upon him at sight these six months.'—

'I have not paid him a guinea for these two years!' whispered his Grace.

'Nor I for three!'

'Nor I for five !'

'What other Chancellor of the Exchequer would accept our I.O.U.s, instead of L. S. D.s?'

'What other find our names in his books, without putting them in his bad books?'

'He has no bad books!' exclaimed the most energetic of the group. 'I swear I never knew him give us a bad thing-except his grammar!

By Jupiter! he shall not abdicate !'-cried the Duke, stamping his cane on the pavement.

And the rejoinder was so much in the tone of the oath sworn by my Uncle Toby that the lieutenant should not die, that, like the recording angel, we dropped a tear upon the word, and blotted it out for ever.

'What can be the meaning of all this!' we exclaimed, staggering towards the palisades before White's window, with the consciousness that some terrible consummation was impending, to endanger the happiness and tranquillity of the country at large. But at that moment, gasping for breath with excess of emotion, we chanced to raise

our eyes, and lo! the first object they encountered explained the mystery. There stood the Hall of Eblis-the Club of Crockford-' by its own lightness made steadfast and immovable!' There stood the temple whose incense rises to heaven, charged with the fumet of pheasants and the aroma of haunches. There the palace where, If to live well mean nothing but to eat,

a hundred Monthyon prizes for enormous virtue ought to be daily distributed-There stood, in short, the great safety-valve of the effervescence of aristocratic leisure !—

'CROCKFORD abdicate?' was our immediate ejaculation. Crockford abdicate? And it was all we could do, though the dog-star was raging-and the street crowded, to refrain from smiting our pensive bosom like the jeune premier at Astley's, exclaiming, in tones of cracked thunder, 'It may not be !'-Great powers of darkness! -ABDICATE! In whose disfavour? Who would, could, should, or might succeed to such a throne? Belgium and Greece had a hard matter to find sovereigns; but who will presume to point out a successor for Crockford Were Talleyrand resuscitated for the purpose, or even old Warwick, of king-making memory, he would be at a nonplus! Popes, Chancellors, Primates may be replaced. No sooner does an Indian director drop, than fifty polite addresses from good and sufficient men curry favour with the proprietors of East India stock, in the columns of the Times; but who-who will ever consult the Polite Letter Writer with a view to addressing circulars to the members of Crockford's-members who avowedly digest, but neither read, mark, nor learn!—

Were even Crockey himself, like his great prototypes, Alexander of Macedon and Elizabeth of England, to name his successor, the nomination would be all-Bayonne !-(we were about to say gammon!) Crockey will be the Sardanapalus of the empire of Clubs. No one shall come after him. As the Huns pricked their eyes with their swords, to weep tears of blood for Attila, so shall the marmitons of St. James's Street prick theirs with their larding-needles to weep for Crockey! Cos vy?' (as he himself would say)- Cos there von't be never such another!"

WILLIAM-CHRISTINA-CROCKEY!-oh! mystic Cerberus!-oh! thrice-honoured triad!—triumvirate to be drunk hereafter with three times three, in solemn silence!-royal Graces, departed Destinies! -can it be that you have conspired together to withdraw yourselves from the allegiance of your faithful subjects!

[blocks in formation]

But this flight-this last abdication would be the unkindest cut of all.-No, no! Sautez le coupe, great Crockey, in pity to our sons and nephews!-Holland had a son,-Spain a daughter,-YOUR sceptre, great King of Clubs, would be

Wrenched from an unlineal hand
No son of yours succeeding!

It is not for such as you to descend into the pale monotony of private life. Recall the word!-relent!-die game, old boy!-game

and the rubber!-No more talk of ABDICATION !-stand to your post. After a reign of fifty years, we promise you a jubilee; and in the year 1880, a grave in the last new cemetery,-probably on Epsom Downs,-having over it your effigy in bronze, from the foundry of the last new Westmacott, in the robes of estate of Pam, under the title of Earl of Deal.

An thou lovest us, not a word more of ABDICATION!

[blocks in formation]


The Old Ledger.




My acquaintance with Mr. Thorley was purely accidental, and arose out of a commercial transaction which I had with the well-known firm of Holdfast, Steady and Co. of Yard, in the City of London. Having postponed from various causes the commission with which I had been intrusted, and hearing that the packet was to sail on the following day, I hastily threw aside my books, my slippers, and my indolence, and hurried off to execute my correspondent's commands, not without experiencing some apprehension that my procrastination might have already rendered my intentions abortive.

Through lane and alley I made my tedious way, jostling in my expedition smart clerks and greasy porters, all as busy as so many ants, and, to my great relief, at last entered the quiet precincts of Yard, with no other damage than a slight contusion, occasioned by my coming in contact with an empty milk-pail, which the milkmaid (a stout Irishwoman of fifty summers) swung carelessly against my right leg.

After buffeting the motley throng, the place really appeared a haven of rest, into which I had run from a sea of troubles.'

A ticket-porter, with his short white apron and his pewter badge, was walking up and down with the calmness of a peripatetic philosopher-I am quite sure he was not a Cynic; for upon inquiring for the office I sought, he politely pointed it out. At the same time I thought I detected a look of wonder at my ignorance of the locality of the greatest house in the world-that is, his world-which was

probably limited to this solitary yard, wherein he moved and got his daily bread.

I pushed open the green baize doors, with their orbicular groundglass panes, which appeared like a pair of huge eyes deprived of vision, and entered a spacious office.

There was a gloom-an oldness-a certain wear-and-tear about the place, that looked both cozy and respectable.

Many grey heads, and bald heads, and spectacles both of silver and tortoiseshell, did I behold, and only one smart hat, and that was stuck jauntingly on the head of a gentleman about two-and-twenty, with a handsome florid complexion, dressed in a cut-away Newmarket coat, top-boots, and white corduroys.

He was swinging to and fro on an office-stool, with a penknife poised 'twixt his fore-finger and thumb, and darting it javelin-wise at the desk.

'Now, really, Mr. William,' said a soft voice, in a tone of remonstrance, really, Mr. William, that is so childish of you!' And the speaker, picking up the knife, removed it beyond his reach.

Observing me, the young man coloured with confusion, and wheeling round upon the stool, walked off, whistling as he went for want of thought,' and vanished behind the intervening partition. I afterwards learned that Mr. William' was the eldest son of the senior partner of the firm.


[ocr errors]

A little, pleasant, gentlemanly-looking man, dressed in the fashion of the last century, with his silver-rimmed spectacles thrown up above his eyebrows, whom I recognised as the speaker, now came forward, and politely demanded my business.

Having shortly communicated the purport of my visit and handed him the packet with which I had been intrusted, he begged me to step into the adjoining room, and he would furnish me with the ne. cessary receipt, &c.

I entered a spacious office, covered with a well-worn Turkey-carpet. On one side hung a map of the world, as yellow as if the fogs of forty Novembers had been sublimated on its dingy surface; a portrait was suspended over the fire-place, almost as obscure as the map; mahogany chairs, with horse hair bottoms: a library table littered with papers, and an easy chair covered with black leather, completed the appointments. Everything around, indeed, appeared coeval with the old-established firm.

The old gentleman sat himself down to his desk, after inviting me to be seated, and having deliberately adjusted his spectacles, commenced writing, when a broad-shouldered porter entered with a copper scuttle in his hand to feed the flame.

'Well, Smith,' said he, without turning his head, 'how's the wife?' 'Better-werry much better, I'm obleeged to you, sir,' replied the man, and he proceeded to supply the grate. That doctor as you were so kind as to send ha' done her a world o' good.'

'Glad to hear it,' said the old gentleman.

'He's a good 'un, he is,' continued the man. 'But the old 'ooman was rayther flustered a bit when he drew up in his carriage.'

'I dare say-'

'But he made hisself at home in no time,' said the porter. Why, sir, I actilly found him a-taking of a dish o' tea with the old oomanI did indeed-and talking so pleasant like, it done one's heart good.'

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »