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Well then. In the year eighteen hundred and thirty odd, it happened that I went to pass the winter at Rome, as we will call the city. Major-General and Mrs. Trotter-Walker were also there ; and until I heard of them there, I had never heard that there were such people in existence as the General and the lady – the lady yonder with the large fan in the upper boxes. Mrs. Walker, as became her station in life, took, I dare say, very comfortable lodgings, gave dinners and parties to her friends, and had a night in the week for receptions.
Much as I have travelled and lived abroad, these evening réunions have never greatly fascinated me. Man cannot live upon lemonade, wax candles, and weak tea. Gloves and white neck-cloths cost money, and those plaguy shiny boots are always so tight and hot. Am I made of money, that I can hire a coach to go to one of these soirées on a rainy Roman night; or can I come in goloshes, and take them off in the ante-chamber? I am too poor for cabs, and too vain for goloshes. If it had been to see the girl of my heart, (I mean at the time when there were girls, and I had a heart,) I couldn't have gone in goloshes.' Well, not being in love, and not liking weak tea and lemonade, I did not go to evening parties that year at Rome : nor, of later years, at Paris, Vienna, Copenhagen, Islington, or wherever I may have been.
What, then, were my feelings when my dear and valued friend, Mrs. Coverlade, (she is a daughter of that venerable Peer, the Right Honorable the Lord Commandine,) who was passing the winter too at Rome, said to me, “ My dear Dr. Pacifico, what have you done to offend Mrs. Trotter-Walker?”
“I know no person of that name," I said. “I knew Walker of the Post Office, and poor Trotter who was a captain in our regiment, and died under my hands at the Bahamas. But with the Trotter-Walkers I haven't the honor of an acquaintance.”
"Well, it is not likely that you will have that honor,” Mrs. Coverlade said. “ Mrs. Walker said last night that she did not wish to make your acquaintance, and that she did not intend to receive you.”
“ I think she might have waited until I asked her, Madam," I said. " What have I done to her? I have never seen or heard of her: how should I want to get into her house? or attend at her Tuesdays - confound her Tuesdays !” I am sorry to say I said, “ Confound Mrs. Walker's Tuesdays," and the conversation took another turn, and it so happened that I was called away from Rome suddenly, and never set eyes upon
Mrs. Walker, or indeed thought about her from that day to this.
Strange endurance of human vanity! a million of much more important conversations have escaped one since then, most likely — but the memory of this little mortification (for such it is, after all) remains quite fresh in the mind, and unforgotten, though it is a trifle, and more than half a score of
We forgive injuries, we survive even our remorse for great wrongs that we ourselves commit; but I doubt if we ever forgive slights of this nature put upon us, or forget circumstances in which our self-love had been made to suffer.
Otherwise, why should the remembrance of Mrs. TrotterWalker have remained so lively in this bosom? Why should her appearance have excited such a keen interest in these eyes? Had Venus or Helen (the favorite beauty of Paris) been at the side of Mrs. T.-W., I should have looked at the latter more than at the Queen of Love herself. Had Mrs. Walker murdered Mrs. Pacifico, or inflicted some mortal injury upon me, I might forgive her -- but for slight? Never, Mrs. "TrotterWalker; never, by Nemesis, never!
And now, having allowed my personal wrath to explode, let us calmly moralize for a minute or two upon this little circumstance; for there is no circumstance, however little, that won't afford a text for a sermon. Why was it that Mrs. General Trotter-Walker refused to receive Dr. S. Pacifico at her parties? She had noticed me probably somewhere where I had not remarked her; she did not like my aquiline countenance, my manner of taking snuff, my Blucher boots, or what not? or she had seen me walking with my friend Jack Raggett, the painter, on the Pincio — a fellow with a hat and beard like a bandit, a shabby paletot, and a great pipe between his teeth. I was not genteel enough for her circle — I assume that to be the reason ; indeed, Mrs. Coverlade, with a good-natured smile at my coat, which I own was somewhat shabby, gave me to understand as much.
You little know, my worthy kind lady, what a loss you had that season at Rome, in turning up your amiable nose at the present writer. I could have given you appropriate anecdotes (with which my mind is stored) of all the courts of Europe (besides of Africa, Asia, and St. Domingo,) which I have visited. I could have made the General die of laughing after dinner with some of my funny stories, of which I keep a book, without which I never travel. I am content with my dinner : I can carve beautifully, and make jokes upon almost any dish at table. I can talk about wine, cookery, hotels all over the Continent:- anything you will. I have been familiar with Cardinals, Red Republicans, Jesuits, German Princes, and Carbonari ; and what is more, I can listen and hold my tongue to admiration. Ah, Madam! what did you lose in refusing to make the acquaintance of Solomon Pacifico, M.D.!
And why? Because my coat was a trifle threadbare ; because I dined at the “ Lepre” with Raggett and some of those other bandits of painters, and had not the money to hire a coach and horses.
Gentility is the death and destruction of social happiness amongst the middle classes in England. It destroys naturalness (if I may coin such a word) and kindly sympathies. The object of life, as I take it, is to be friendly with everybody. As a rule, and to a philosophical cosmopolite, every man ought to be welcome. I do not mean to your intimacy or affection, but to your society; as there is, if we would or could but discover it, something notable, something worthy of observation, of sympathy, of wonder and amusement in every fellow-mortal. If I had been Mr. Pacifico, travelling with a courier and a carriage, would Mrs. Walker have made any objection to me? I think not. It was the Blucher boots and the worn hat and the homely companion of the individual which were unwelcome to this lady. If I had been the disguised Duke Pacifico, and not a retired army-surgeon, would she have forgiven herself for slighting me? What stores of novels, what foison of plays, are composed upon this theme, the queer old character in the wig and cloak throws off coat and spectacles, and appears suddenly with a star and crown, a Haroun Alraschid, or other Merry Monarch. And straightway we clap our hands and applaud — what? — the star and garter.
But disguised emperors are not common now-a-days. You don't turn away monarchs from your door, any more than angels, unawares. Consider, though, how many a good fellow you may shut out and sneer upon! what an immense deal of pleasure, frankness, kindness, good-fellowship, we forego for the sake of our confounded gentility, and respect for outward show! Instead of placing our society upon an honest footing, we make our aim almost avowedly sordid. Love is of necessity banished from your society when you measure all your guests by a money-standard. I think of all this a harmless man
- seeing a good-naturedlooking, jolly woman in the boxes yonder, who thought her. self once too great a person to associate with the likes of me.
If I give myself airs to my neighbor, may I think of this too, and be a little more humble! And you, honest friend, who read this — have you ever poob-poohed a man as good as you? If you fall into the society of people whom you are pleased to call your inferiors, did you ever sneer? If so, change I into U, and the fable is narrated for your own benefit, by your obedient servant,
ON THE PLEASURES OF BEING A FOGY.
Whilst I was riding the other day by the beautiful Serpentine River upon my excellent friend Heavyside's gray cob, and in conspany of the gallant and agreeable Augustus Toplady, a carriage passed from which looked out a face of such remarkable beauty, that Augustus and myself quickened our pace to follow the vehicle, and to keep for a while those charming features in view. My beloved and unknown young friend who peruse these lines, it was very likely your face which attracted your humble servant; recollect whether you were not in the Park upon I allude to, and if you were, whom else could I mean but you? I don't know your name.; I have forgotten the arms on the carriage, or whether there were any; and as for women's dresses, who can remember them? but your dear kind countenance was so pretty and good-humored and pleasant to look at, that it remains to this day faithfully engraven on my heart, and I feel sure that you are as good as you are handsome. Almost all handsome women are good : they cannot choose but be good and gentle with those sweet features and that charming graceful figure. A day in which one sees a very pretty woman should always be noted as a holyday with a man, and marked with a white stone. In this way, and at this season in London, to be sure, such a day comes seven times in the week, and our calendar, like that of the Roman Catholics, is all Saints' days.
Toplady, then, on his chestnut horse, with his glass in his eye, and the tips of his shiny boots just touching the stirrup, and your slave, the present writer, rode after your carriage, and looked at you with such notes of admiration expressed in their eyes, that you remember you blushed, you smiled, and then began to talk to that very nice-looking elderly lady in the front seat, who of course was your Mamma. You turned out of the ride - it was time to go home and dress for dinner, — you were gone. Good luck go with you, and with all fair things which thus come and pass away!
Top caused his horse to cut all sorts of absurd capers and caracoles by the side of your carriage. He made it dance upon two legs, then upon other two, then as if he would jump over the railings and crush the admiring nursery-maids and the rest of the infantry. I should think he got his animal from Batty's, and that, at a crack of Widdicomb’s whip, he could dance a quadrille. He ogled, he smiled, he took off his hat to a Countess's carriage that happened to be passing in the other line, and so showed his hair; he grinned, he kissed his little finger-tips and flung them about as if he would shake them off — whereas the other party on the gray cob - the old gentleman — powdered along at a resolute trot, and never once took his respectful eyes off you while you continued in the ring.
When you were gone (you see by the way in which I linger about you still, that I am unwilling to part with you) Toplady turned round upon me with a killing triumphant air, and stroked that impudent little tuft he has on his chin, and said — “I say, old boy, it was the chestnut she was looking at, and not the gway.” And I make no doubt he thinks you are in love with him to this minute.
“You silly young jackanapes,” said I, “what do I care whether she was looking at the gray or the chestnut?
I was thinking about the girl; you were thinking about yourself, and be hanged to your vanity!” And with this thrust in his little chest, I flatter myself I upset young Toplady, that triumphant careering rider.
It was natural that he should wish to please; that is, that he should wish other people to admire him. Augustus Toplady is young (still) and lovely. It is not until a late period of life that a genteel young fellow, with a Grecian nose and a suitable waist and whiskers, begins to admire other people besides himself.
That, however, is the great advantage which a man possesses whose morning of life is over, whose reason is not taken prisoner by any kind of blandishments, and who knows and feels that he is a FOGY. As an old buck is an odious sight, absurd, and ridiculous before gods and men; cruelly, but deservedly, quizzed by you young people, who are not in the least duped by his youthful airs or toilet artifices, so an hon