Page images
PDF
EPUB

pomp to Old Bailey, to drink a cool tankard presented by the Keeper; he then announces the fete, and the most motley crew are assembled together, as if by a fairy's wand. Delicacies of every kind are provided, and arranged in such a way as to attract the eye.

Portable theatres exhibit all the wondrous exploits of punch-sword-swallowers, fire-eaters, ventriloquists, et id genus omne, attract the multitude, in the midst of which the industrious pickpockets exercise themselves in all the mysteries of their trade. Quacks spout away ore rotundo on the “incurable distempers" which they can cure, and on the beauty and sweetness which their infallible nostrums confer on the skin and breath. *

Vauxhall is a frequent resort for those who are so unfashionable as to spend the summer in London. The gala is most expensively and splendidly illuminated, and the fire works are very beautiful; but it bears no comparison with the public gardens of Paris, either for taste, luxury, or amusements. The long vistas, sparkling with the play of countless lamps, give

*" Many a giddy and inexperienced girl is burled into this dreadful whirlpool of the populace; and several females, who at present rank foremost among the votaries of the Paphian goddess, were here first initiated in those profane mysteries, and came reeking from the embraces of squalid sailors into the arms of Lords. There is something, however, so fascinating in the recollection of former revels, that some of those pymphs who move in a higher spbere, are irresistibly attracted by a strange impulse towards this region of festivity; and, unmindful of their noble suitors, run beadlong into the filth of St. Bartholomew Fair." GEDE.

VOL. II.

[ocr errors]

Vauxhall the appearance of those enchanted palaces and gardens described in oriental ro

mance:

“ Here Night, down-stooping from ber ebon throne,

Views constellations brighter than her own." An extended vista, illuminated in this manner, resembles the splendid track which the sun leaves on the verge of the horizon, when he sinks into the deep. Numbers of those women who have the artificial crimson on the cheek, while the heart is wrung with misery and the body withered by disease, are seen gliding through the garden,“ seeking whom they may devour.” You will there find females who are in the spring of life, but who suffer all the decrepitude of old age; who have the precipitation of inexperience, and none of that amiable candour and artless simplicity, which sits so gracefully on youth; none of that bashfulness which makes the pure and eloquent blood” ” speak in the cheeks. Why does a blush please those who witness it? Because it is a silent avowal of some imperfection, of a want of strength and courage which flatters the selflove of him who beholds it. A beautiful woman is always a lovely and affecting object; but when she blushes, her whole sex pleads for her-and when the tear sparkles in her eye, she excites a degree of interest sufficient to disarm the tyrant, and almost to soften the miser's heart!

Do not imagine, from what I have said, that all the female visiters of Vauxhall are public customers.” The virtuous wife and daughter, and the affectionate mother are frequently seen in their family groups, enjoying the pleasures of this garden; there I have beheld

" Those cheeks, that would not dare shine out
lo open day, but thought they might

Look lovely then because 'twas night.” After walking about for a few hours, you are presented with the fire works, and Madame Saqui dancing on the tight rope, in which, by the way, her clumsy legs do not appear to great advantage! As I left the garden last night, I recollected Sir Roger de Coverley," who told the mistress of the house, who sate at the bar, that he should be a better customer in her garden, if there were more nightingales and fewer strumpets.”

The parks are usually crowded during the fashionable season; but when the sectaries of Bon Ton leave the metropolis, adieu to all display of brilliant equipages in these resorts! The humble pedestrian must content himself with the shade of the elms, or a seat on the Chinese Bridge; and the cockney may imagine himself enjoying rural scenes, when from his bench he beholds the milkmaid extracting the precious liquid from the well fed cow in St. James' Park. Many poor authors ponder on these benches, like Peter Pindar; and either sit " Near some frail nymph as hungry, (beauteous sinner!)

- Or, alone, voracious as a shark, Dream of a feast, or count the trees for dinner."

Horse racing, cock fighting and boxing, are the laudable and humane amusements, not only of the profanum vulgus, but of the nobility and gentry of this country. Hogarth must have taken some of the principal traits of his “ Progress of Cruelty" from these exhibitions. In the Newmarket races, that noble and useful animal, the horse, is tortured in every variety of manner; the whip and spur are used till every fibre in his body is racked, and strained “almost to bursting"-he is lashed and gored till all his blood is in a ferment, because his inhuman master has made a bet on the effects of his agility! We are informed by Espriella, that jockeys who are too fat are made to waste; in order to diminish their weight and size, they are purged and sweated, and are forced to take violent exercise with thick woolen clothes on! Had Procrustes heard of this invention, he would have made all travellers equal in weight as well as in measure, and his balance would have been as famous as his bed. Some of the race horses become, like Lismahago's," a resurrection of dry bones!” but, generally speaking, the racer is a most noble and elegant animal; and even when covered with his miserable trappings, pricks up his lively ears, rolls about his " warrior eye,

," and carries his head aloft, with all the aristocracy of nature.

Nothing disgusts me more than the cursed slang of boxers, which is found in the soporific columns of some of the newspapers. The par. ticulars of the intended fight are related with

all the technical phraseology of the science; we are gravely informed what exercise and diet the prize-fighters take; whether they prepare themselves by eating raw beef or having it half roasted! The horrible imprecations and sayage violence, that are constantly witnessed in the cockpit, soon efface from the encouragers of such scenes every idea, every degree of humanity. When two human beings (says Mrs. Crespigny) are barbarously exposed upon a stage, or even in the public streets, fighting and using every effort which strength and skill, in such ferocious exercises can enable them to do, when one of them has laid the other breathless on the ground, with blood streaming from his disgraceful wounds—the yell of exultation from the savage breasts of the spectators, proves how little they deserve their distinction from the brute creation.

An emperor of China said, " I forbid gaming in my dominions; any one who infringes this law, throws a defiance at Providence, which admits of nothing fortuitous.” The practice of gaming is not confined to those alone whom necessity may seem to stimulate to so horrible a resource; the opulent are generally the most abandoned to this destructive passion, who, possessing already more than they know what to do with, hazard that, and give themselves up as voluntary victims to misery and despair, to indulge a Tantalian thirst for more.

Such wretches consider the debts of the gaming table as sacred, but let their cre.

« PreviousContinue »