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good dinner is, I can tell you,” says Mr. Silenus, “ so does Cramley."
“ Both well-known epicures,” says Nudgit.
“ I'm going to give Hobanob a return dinner to his at the ' Rhododendrum.' He bet me that Batifol, the chef at the • Rhododendrum,' did better than our man can. Hob's dinner was last Wednesday, and I don't say it wasn't a good one; or that taking Grosbois by surprise, is giving him quite fair playbut we'll see, Nudgit. I know what Grosbois can do."
" I should think you did, indeed, Silenus," says the other.
“I see your mouth's watering. I'd ask you, only I know you're engaged. You're always engaged, Nudgit — not to-day? Well then, you may come; and I say, Mr. Nudgit, we'll have a wet evening, sir, mind you that.”
Mr. Bowls, the butler, here coming in, Mr. Silenus falls into conversation with him about wines and icing. I am glad poor Nudgit has got his dinner. He will go and walk in the Park to get up an appetite. And now, Mr. Bob, having shown you over your new house, I too will bid you for the present farewell.
A WORD ABOUT BALLS IN SEASON.
WHEN my good friend, Mr. Punch, some time since, asked me to compile a series of conversations for young men in the dancing world, so that they might be agreeable to their partners, and advance their own success in life, I consented with a willing heart to my venerable friend's request, for I desire nothing better than to promote the amusement and happiness of all young people ; and nothing, I thought, would be easier than to touch off a few light, airy, graceful little sets of phrases, which young fellows might adopt or expand, according to their own ingenuity and leisure.
Well, sir, I imagined myself, just for an instant, to be young again, and that had a neat waist instead of that bow-window with which Time and Nature have ornamented the castle of my body, and brown locks instead of a bald pate (there was a time, sir, when my hair was not considered the worst part of me, and I recollect when I was a young man in the Militia, and when pigtails finally went out in our corps, who it was that longed to
have my queue
- it was found in her desk at her death, and my poor dear wife was always jealous of her,) - I just chose, I say, to fancy myself a young man, and that I would go up in imagination and ask a girl to dance with me. So I chose Maria a man might go farther and fare worse than choose Maria, Mr. Bob.
My dear Miss E.,” says I, “may I have the honor of dancing the next set with you?”
6. The next what ?” says Miss E., smiling, and turning to Mrs. E., as if to ask what a set meant.
“ I forgot,” says I; “the next quadrille, I would say."
“ It is rather slow dancing quadrilles,” says Miss E. ; “ but if I must, I must.”
"Well, then, a waltz, will that do? I know nothing prettier than a waltz played not too quick."
66 What! says she, “ do you want a horrid old three-timed waltz, like that which the little figures dance upon the barrelorgans? You silly old creature : you are good-natured, but you are in your dotage. All these dances are passed away. You might as well ask me to wear a gown with a waist up to my shoulders, like that in which mamma was married; or a hoop and high heels, like grandmamma in the picture; or to dance a gavotte or a minuet. Things are changed, old gentleman the fashions of your time are gone, and — and the bucks of your time will go too, Mr. Brown. If I want to dance, here is Captain Whiskerfield, who is ready; or young Studdington, who is a delightful partner. He brings a little animation into our balls ; and when he is not in society, dances every night at Vauxhall and the Casino.”.
I pictured to myself Maria giving some such reply to my equally imaginative demand - for of course I never made the request, any more than she did the answer — and in fact, dear Bob, after turning over the matter of ball-room conversations in my mind, and sitting with pen and ink before me for a couple of hours, I found that I had nothing at all to say on the subject, and have no more right to teach a youth what he is to say in the present day to his partner, than I should have had in my own boyhood to instruct my own grandmother in the art of sucking eggs. We should pay as much reverence to youth as we should to age; there are points in which you young folks are altogether our superiors : and I can't help constantly crying out to persons of my own years, when busied about their young people — leave them alone; don't be always meddling with their affairs, which they can manage for themselves; don't be always
insisting upon managing their boats, and putting your oars in the water with theirs.
So I have the modesty to think that Mr. Punch and I were a couple of conceited old fogies, in devising the above plan of composing conversation for the benefit of youth, and that young folk can manage to talk of what interests them, without any prompting on our part. To say the truth, I have hardly been to a ball these three years. I saw the head of the stair at H. E.'s the T— Ambassador in Br-ne Square, the other night, but retired without even getting a sight of, or making my bow to Her Excellency; thinking wisely that mon lait de poule et mon bonnet de nuit much better became me at that hour of midnight than the draught in a crowded passage, and the sight of ever so many beauties.
But though I don't go myself to these assemblies, I have intelligence amongst people who go: and hear from the girls and their mammas what they do, and how they enjoy themselves. I must own that some of the new arrangements please me very much, as being natural and simple, and, in so far, superior to the old mode.
In my time, for instance, a ball-room used to be more than half-filled with old male and female fogies, whose persons took up a great deal of valuable room, who did not in the least ornament the walls against which they stood, and who would bare been much better at home in bed. In a great country-house, where have a hall fireplace in which an ox might be roasted conveniently, the presence of a few score more or less of stout old folks can make no difference; there is room for them at the card-tables, and round the supper-board, and the sight of their honest red faces and white waistcoats lining the wall cheers and illuminates the Assembly Room.
But it is a very different case when you have a small house in May Fair, or in the pleasant district of Pimlico and Tyburn ; and accordingly I am happy to hear that the custom is rapidly spreading of asking none but dancing people to balls. It was only this morning that I was arguing the point with our cousin Mrs. Crowder, who was greatly irate because her daughter Fanny had received an invitation to go with her aunt Mrs. Timmins, to Lady Tutbury's ball, whereas poor Mrs. Crowder had been told that she could on no account get a card.
Now Blanche Crowder is a very large woman naturally, and with the present fashion of flounces in dress, this balloon of a creature would occupy the best part of a little back drawingroom ; whereas Rosa Timmins is a little bit of a thing, who
takes up no space at all, and furnishes the side of a room as prettily as a bank of flowers could. I tried to convince our cousin upon this point, this embonpoint, I may say, and of course being too polite to make remarks personal to Mrs. Crowder, I playfully directed them elsewhere.
“Dear Blanche,” said I, “ don't you see how greatly Lady Tutbury would have to extend her premises if all the relatives of all her dancers were to be invited ? She has already flung out a marquee over the leads, and actually included the cistern
what can she do more! If all the girls were to have chaperons, where could the elders sit? Tutbury himself will not be present. He is a large and roomy man, like your humble servant, and Lady Tut has sent him off to Greenwich, or the • Star and Garter' for the night, where, I have no doubt, he and some other stout fellows will make themselves comfortable. At a ball amongst persons of moderate means and large acquaintance in London, room is much more precious than almost anybody's company, except that of the beauties and the dancers. Look at Lord Trampleton, that enormous hulking monster, (who nevertheless dances beautifully, as all big men do,) when he takes out his favorite partner, Miss Wirledge, to polk, his arm, as he whisks her round and round, forms radii of a circle of very considerable diameter. He almost wants a room to himself. Young men and women now, when they dance, dance really ; it is no lazy sauntering, as of old, but downright hard work — after which they want air and refreshment. How can they get the one, when the rooms are filled with elderly folks; or the other, when we are squeezing round the supper-tables, and drinking up all the available champagne and seltzer-water? No, no; the present plan, which I hear is becoming general, is admirable for London. Let there be half a dozen of good, active, bright-eyed chaperons and duennas, little women, who are more active, and keep a better. look-out than your languishing voluptuous beauties " (I said this casting at the same time a look of peculiar tenderness towards Blanche Crowder); “let them keep watch and see that all is right — that the young men don't dance too often with the same girl, or disappear on to the balcony, and that sort of thing ; let them have good large roomy family coaches to carry the young women home to their mammas. In a word, at a ball, let there be for the future no admittance except upon business. In all the affairs of London life, that is the rule, depend
“ And pray who told you, Mr. Brown, that I didn't wish
to dance myself?” says Blanche, surveying her great person in the looking-glass (which could scarcely contain it) and flouncing out of the room ; and I actually believe that the unconscionable creature, at her age and size, is still thinking that she is a fairy, and that the young fellows would like to dance round the room with her. Ah, Bob! I remember that grotesque woman a slim and graceful girl. I remember others tender and beautiful, whose bright eyes glitter, and whose sweet voices whisper no more. So they pass away - youth and beauty, love and innocence, pass away and perish. I think of one now whom I remember the fairest and the gayest, the kindest and the purest; her laughter was music I can hear it still, though it will never echo any more. Far away the silent tomb closes over her. Other roses than those of our prime grow up and bloom, and have their day. Honest youth, generous youth, inay yours be as pure and as fair !
I did not think, when I began to write it, that the last sentence would have finished so; but life is not altogether jocular, Mr. Bob, and one comes upon serious thoughts suddenly as upon a funeral in the street. Let us go back to the business we are upon, namely, balls, whereof it, perhaps, has struck you that your uncle has very little to say.
I saw one announced in the morning fashionable print today, with a fine list of some of the greatest folks in London, and had previously heard from various quarters how eager many persons were to attend it, and how splendid an entertainment it was to be. And so the morning paper announced that Mrs. Hornby Madox threw open her house in So-and-so Street, and was assisted in receiving her guests by Lady Fugleman.
Now this is a sort of entertainment and arrangement than which I confess I can conceive nothing more queer, though I believe it is by no means uncommon in English society. Mrs. Hornby Madox comes into her fortune of ten thousand a year wishes to be presented in the London world, having lived in the country previously -spares no expense to make her house and festival as handsome as may be, and gets Lady Fugleman to ask the company for her - not the honest Hornby's, not the family Madoxes, not the jolly old squires and friends and relatives of her family, and from her county ; but the London dandies and the London society : whose names you see chronicled at every party, and who, being Lady Fugleman's friends, are invited by her ladyskip to Mrs. Hornby's house.
What a strange notion of society does this give- of friend