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man paces the streets with his packets=one very
loud knock at the door denotes this important personage. “ The knocker may be so handled (says Southey,) as to explain who plays upon it, and accordingly it has its systematic set of signals.” The footman runs to the door and gives a thundering rap, then several smaller ones in quick succession, flourishing as on a drum, with an art and a delicacy of touch, which denote the importance of his master. The postman comes with two rapid knocks, which thrill in the bosom of those who wait for letters; a single rap of less vehemence marks a tradesman or messenger.
The Strand, till after six o'clock, is a vast solitude. The shops are yet unopened, and the street lamps still flicker with a tremulous lustre, as if conscious of the libidinous and disgraceful scenes of the preceding night. As you walk along, you behold the travelling vehicles starting off from the different inns, and others just arrived full of sleepy passengers,
In the course of the morning, the shops display all their rich and expensive wares; the elevated pavements on each side of the streets are crowded with pedestrians, passing swiftly in two lines, without awkward interference, each taking to the left; the walkers are out of the reach of the carriages, which glide like meteors through the middle of the streets. During this motley procession, the foot pads have a sharp look-out for watches and pocketbooks; old maquerelles seek for new female fa
ces in the throng; and bruisers endeavour to find some opportunity to exercise their fists.
Foreigners are frequently insulted in the streets. The famous Marshal Saxe, was once abused by a filthy scavenger in the Strand; the dispute ended in a boxing bout, in which the count's dexterity received the general applause of the spectators. He let the scavenger come upon him, then seized him by the neck and made him fly up into the air, in such a direction that he fell into the middle of his cart, which was brimful of dirt.
The shops in some of the streets in London are unrivalled in magnificence. The quilldrivers generally display themselves behind the coun. ters or at their doors, dressed in the complete dandy style, and affecting all the airs of finished petits maitres. Women have not such sway in the shops, as they have in France-the husband is the soul of the business, and the wife either darns his stockings in a back room, or gads about the streets! in Paris it is different: there the husband keeps in some dark room behind the shop, where he sits in his cotton night-cap, taking snuff, while his wife attends to wholesale and retail! The genius of a people where nothing but the monarchy is Salique (says Yorick) has ceded this department, with sundry.others, to the women.”
An English dinner party affords an idea of the national manners. The grand object on such occasions appears to be the indulgence of the palate; they throw themselves upon the
good cheer like Sancho upon the scum of Ca. macho's kettle! After the various dainties are despatched, one of the guests challenges another, bottle in hand-it is accepted with a slight bow-they fill their glasses--then each watching the motions of his adversary, they nod at each other, and, looking round the table, name every one successively—the two champions now eye each other“ with leer malign," and quaff off their wine simultaneously! The English dinner parties are usually very expensive and luxurious. Indeed there are so many dainties set forth to tempt the palate, that it requires a great deal of philosophy to abstain from the “infinite variety.”
" For my part (says Addison) when I behold a fashionable table set out in all its magnificence, I fancy that I see gouts and dropsies, fevers and lethargies, with other innumerable distempers, lying in ambush among the dishes.”
The evening parties are very stiff and formal, and make me regret those French soirées, in which the polite familiarity with which you are treated, so deliciously circum præcordia ludit,—and those little interludes of soft, voluptuous music, which far surpass the explosion of instruments from the most outrageous congregation of amateurs.* There is in the En
• The crash of a thousand instruments going off at once, though digpified with the name of an oratorio or an overture,— to our ears, instead of producing the effect of harmony, resembles much more nearly an unmeaning discord, and when continued for a length of time, as such performances generally are, becomes excrutiatingly tiresome. N. A. Review, 1821.
glish, a sort of fastidious delicacy, coldness or reserve, which discourage and repel at first sight; in the French, on the contrary, there is a familiarity and warmth, which puts one at
“ I know that generally there is no depending much on their professions (says Gibbon, in his Memoirs;) yet, as far as I was concerned, I really believe they were sincere.” The conversation of an Englishman is often instructive; but is deficient in that variety and playfulness which render that of the well-bred Frenchman so exquisitely delightful and fascinating. When the latter relates an anecdote, or describes what he has seen, he appears penetrated with what he says-his expressive countenance and significant gestures vary according to the theme he develops, or the story he relates; the information he conveys is like a beautiful
whose real value is enhanced by the polishing of the artist; it is a dazzling jewel in a brilliant setting.
The English have generally a dislike to brilliant circles, but possess a keen relish for the tranquil pleasures of domestic society. In the private walks of life, they are usually described as friendly, delicate and unpretending. They ascribe the cause of this to the female sex, whose refined and exquisite taste for quict pleasures, diffuses an innocent voluptuousness on the peaceful scenes of domestic privacy.
Had I the supernatural power of the “ Diable Buiteux,” I would give you some idea of the nocturnal transactions in the houses of
London; since I do not possess the skill of Asmodée, I will content myself with describing the conduct of the street population, when
"! The heavens are freed, and all the sparkling stars Look through the blue and empty firmament." The tea-gardens and cellars are crowded with the tiers état, and with those observers, who, like myself, are willing to receive infor. mation from all sources. Bagnigge Wells and the White Conduit House, attract the inhabi. tants of Clerkenwell during these warm evenings. A few bushes tortured into arbours screen, in some degree, the indecent exhibi. tions at these places; in many of them are tables covered with liquor and tobacco pipeshere the labourer " takes a Lethean leave of all his toil." In walking through these gardens of Paphos, you will look in vain for the bashful reserve, the engaging timidity and the blush of innocence, the paleness which over spreads the countenance of modesty at the least improper familiarity, or the roses which bloom in the cheek of youth!
The cider cellar in Maiden Lane, and the whiskey cellar near St. James's Park, afford a copious field for observation. The former being situated near Covent Garden, I often went there to enjoy a poached egg and glass of Burton after the play. The perfect freedom with which the humble philosophers of this den indulge in their various debates, is highly diverting to the visiter, who, from his snug cor