« PreviousContinue »
finding the metal ; and no better clad, they say, originally, than is the new Venus at the Palais Royal: but all the litile decencies of the metroplis, putting their heads together, made it this little apron which
In the Tuilleries, nakedness is of no account, where there are so many to keep it in countenance, but here it is too specific. I have a kind of indistinct impression that English nudity is more unbecoming than French. But allowance must be made for the potency of habit and general custom. I have seen American girls, who always fainted in Philadelphia on seeing themselves in the bath, when turned loose a while among the fine arts of Paris, descant
upon their beauties with the good breeding and perfect nonchalance of the native French women.
This Park has a wide carriage-way along the eastern margin, upon which, of fine afternoons, there is a display of the richest gayeties and elegances of London. The picture is a never-ending variety of equipages, and riders on horseback, of both sexes, moving slowly up and down, and a promiscuous crowd on foot, scattered over the lawn and elevated margin of the road. This is the outline, but who can describe you the infinite details ? Lovely Nine! forsake me not in this emergency! A noble steed, richly caparisoned, and mounted by a brilliant and beautiful English woman, is a choice image of the group. He moves in a kind of trot, slower somewhat than a walk, lifting his feet and setting them down nearly in the same track, as if to give you a longer enjoyment of the rider. She wears a pert little beaver, and a whip for ornament, not use ; and the zephyrs fan her with their little pinions, helping on her speed. The horse moves proudly, as if conscious of the distinction of being sat upon by so amiable and sweet a lady. The male rider too has his merits, exbibited here in all their softer varieties; at a walk, a trot, now and then curvetting, and carracoling, or, the reins loose, leisurely indulging in a conversation by the way-side. An American woman will ride wild colts from the prairies, and stick to' as if born on horseback; but the entire avundon, unaffected ease, and centaur-like security - in a word that nimeless thing, a grace in a saddle — is to be seen no where in its perfection out of England. The American equipage, with its liveried Africans, and smooth full-blooded steeds, and its chariot with a glitter of gold and gorgeous emblazonment, is not to be despised; but it is the number and variety, added to sumptuousness, that make the miracle in England. The aggregate amount surpasses altogether our republican notions of magnificence. It is now five of the afternow, and the picture is complete. I will notice only a few of the objects at present visible. A beau and belle are staring at each other wi i glasses; the bishop follows close behind, in wigged gravity. This one bows his imminent top, smiling faintly, and losing not an inch of his attitude, practising his own motto, * cavendo tutus;' another throws his hand gracefully over the side of his calèche, his cap in it, and bends lowly, his soul in his face, and his whiskers meeting under his chin : he resumes his perpendicular, ' Qui est ce monsieur ?' While another leaps from his tilbury, and clasping some one, who has done the same, embraces him on the pavement, as never did Orestes his Pylades, then remounts and drives on : • Creo que
he visto el Señor alguna parte. A lady is showing her equestrian abilities
at a drive. To be a good whip,' does not enter into my ideas of feminine accomplishment.
See how the sun burnishes the frogs upon the Hungarian livery ! My Lord Duke's chariot now approaches, full of himself. Who deserves the praise, the coachman, who made it, or his
who wears out the Park with it? Who that rustles in satin, thinks of the worm that spun it? Her gorgeous ladyship next. She pulls up at Howell and James';* now her glowing chariot bounds along the flinty ribs of Piccadilly, and arrives, the axletree on fire, at 'the Corner,' and now enters with slow dignity the ring. The four horses of jet, postillions in sea-green jackets, sleeves of rose, and golden tassels playing upon the velvet caps, they are Miss Foote's, Countess of Harrington's; and the ponys of iron-gray, thirty inches, are Queen Mab's, or my Lady Peel's. He so nobly mounted, and riding with dignity, is Sir Robert; his pride sbowing through the woof and chain of his 'mantle. What are the Cavendishes, the Percies, the Howards? Their fathers made them; I made myself. This one in the precious bloom of a new suit, a Shultz-like coat and polished beaver, is a painter's son, a fellow of Trinity college, sergeant at law, member of parliament, clief justice of Chester, solicitor-general, attorney-general, master of the rolls, lord high chancellor, lord chief baron of the exchequer, and now baron something else.
His arms do not disown his Yankee origin ; azure, and American eagles his supporters; his motto also Yankee, (go ahead,) 'ultra pergere. His new wife is at his side, young, blooming, and resolute as Jewish Rebecca. I would have made her a lower bow in the Rue de la Paix, had I had the sense to foresee she would be one day Baroness Lyndhurst. These neophyte lords are more aristocratic than the native growth: his lordship is Toryest of the Tories. The next is my Lord Abinger, also in the A. B. C. of his nobility; the deepest read man, as some one has said, of the British bar. He was Sir James Scarlet of Jamaica, now Viscount Abiuger. His motto, 'suis stat veribus' is appropriate ; it imports that every pot should stand on its own bottorn.' Hear! bear! – it is the ex-speaker. Is there any one upon the earth, save Rip Van Winkle, who kuows not Charles Manners Sutton ? His motto · Pour y parvenir,' is unlucky for a parrenu. He is now Lord Viscount Canterbury, et pour y parvenir, and has sat in the little niche in the south end of St. Stevens', for more than twenty years. Somebody else of Canterbury, for half bis martyrdom, was made a saint outright.
These are the men who have made the name of England glorious through the world. This power of appropriating the talents of the other orders, is one of the strong points of the English nobility. It keeps alive emulation, and establishes a community of interests and affections, brightens the honor, and prevents the physical degeneracy to which an exclusive set is, in the economy of all nature, subject. It is a power, too, not liable to abuse, for the new creation comes in under the frown of the old peerage; an intluence that ordinary pretensions cannot withstand. To be a blackguard nobleman, requires a long line of ancestry.
* Fashionable store.
I forgot, in the above group, one of its central figures
the Cupi. don dechaine with chest of Apollo, and waist of a gnat ; his panpels blazing with arms, and steeds proud of their trappings : the noble Count D'Orsay, grazing the wheels of my Lady Blessington. Nothing can exceed the grace with which his lordship takes off his glove, unless it be the grace with which his lordship puts it on.
Tell me, lady most learned in heraldry, why the Bishop of London has two swords on his escutcheon ; whether it is properly a Christian emblem; and why the same image is found upon the arms of two other bishops, and not upon those of any duke in the three kingdoms, including the Duke of Wellington; and finally, why ecclesiastical arms are without supporters, crests, and mottoes, and why ladies' arms are without the moito and crest? Gracious! you interrogate me as if I had taken orders in the church! Women are weak, and should have supporters ; that they should have no crests, is
proper. Cocks have crests, and hens none. It is true, a heroine is sometimes 'cock of the walk,' in Virgil and Tasso; but it is going out of a lady's province — a poetical license. Arms being designed to designate knights of the tournament, it is difficult to say why a bishop should have them at all. : . Much obliged. What a gentle catachresis, that a crest, originally a feather on the apex of the helmet, should be now an elephant, or other such enormity. And what a collection of wild beasts ! 'Parbleu!
d'animaux dans cette familli !' More families than one come in for a share of Napoleon's bon-mot. Earth has been ransacked, and the sea and air too have furnished their quota of heraldic honors in England - the fabled unicorns, phænixes, mermaids, griffins, harpies, “ gorgons, and chimeras dire.' The lion seems to be the favorite, and is represented in all the shapes and attitudes, integers and fractions. Among the earliest exploits of knighthood, was the destruction of wild beasts, and such images are not inappropriate. In a good device, they say, the hieroglyphics and motto should cohere as soul and body; the one is incomplete without the other. It is a bad motto that is independent. Since they wont look at us groundlings, let us turn critics of their honors. Don't you love a calm pun? 'Fare, fac,' for Fairfax; for de Montalt, De Monte alto;' Neville, •Ne vile velis ;' Fortescue, 'Forte scutum ;' Vernon, Ver non semper viret;' Onslow, 'Festina lente;' and prettier than all, the canting Greek of Baron Heineker, του αριςτευειν ENEKA.' Lord Palmerston's conceit, ‘Flecti non frangi,' would suit better our hickory president. And now for the emblematic crests. Oliphant, an elephant ; Cockburn, a cock ; Arundel, a swallow ; and Corbet, a crow ; you would think they were manufactured at our Chestnut-street mint.
That the national, motto should have no higher origin than a lady's garter! But I like it better for that; better than the 'Nemo impune,' of the Scotch, which smells of brimstone. Here comes my Lord King: how triste ! Mocking his own device, 'Labor ipse voluptas ;' it should have been Ipsa voluptas labor. Is not the Marquis of Headfort braggadocio, with his. Consequitur quodcumque petit ? What does my Lord Vincent mean by his one word .Thus ? Is it English? Is it Latin ? Is it a spice of Arabia, or a mere Saxon monosyllable ? At least it is good Latin, and that is more than any one dare say of tho Duke of Beaufort's ‘Mutare vel timere sperno,' which is neither good
Latin nor good sense. If it were ima summis mutare, or timere libertati patriæ, his lordship is one of the last men in England, who would like to acknowledge it. The 'Ubi lapsus' of the Earl of Devon, all the way from Pharamond, if Debret is right in the translation, is no better. Ubi accompanies rest, not motion. And the ‘Manu forte' of the Scotch Lord Reay, and the Serva regem' of the Earl of Iniskillen, are, by the same authority, bad. Good gods! Why here is bad Latin riding daily in the open heaven of Hyde Park, from all the three kingdoms, to the discredit of the nobility, and flagrant scandal of the two universities.' Prisian's head seems fated to be broken with a motto. We have in America but one poor device : Omnia reliquit patriam servare,'* and it bad Latin !
What say you to a short lesson of this English mythology, just enough to seem well bred among the pines? Royal Family: William IV. and Queen, (Princess of Saxe Meinengen,) two daughters, both deceased. Royal Dukes : (the king's brothers :) Cumberland, Sussex, Cambridge, and Gloucester, husband of Mary, their sister. Princesses : Mary, and Sophia Augusta, unmarried at fifty. Heir Presumptive: Victoria, daughter of the Duke of Kent, deceased.
Dukes. Marquises. Earls. Viscounts. Barons. Archbishops. BishopsEnglish,
15 The total, exclusive of clergy, four hundred and thirty-nine. To which you will add orders of knighthood ; of the Garter, forty; Thistle, seventeen ; St. Patrick, twenty-four; Bath — ; and finally, baronets, about one hundred. The gentry are the baronets, and all who live on their income, or honorable employment; boasting often a descent above the nobility. Lord applies to all nobles, and by courtesy, with the surname, to their eldest sons, and by extension, to the Mayor of London, chancellor, bishop, etc. Barons are lords sometimes, in distinction from the higher ranks; their wives are ladies. Don't forget the wives of earls are countesses. Of a duke you will say, 'Most Noble;' a marquis, 'Most Honorable ;' of an earl, viscount, and baron, “Right Honorable;' of a duke or archbishop, Your Grace' Please make the Archbishop of Canterbury preach by * Divine Providence ;' of York, by · Divine Permission.'
These are the Dii Majores and Minores, who have created for themselves a heaven upon this island, apart, and live in it, just showing themselves now and then to the world, in their visible and mortal shapes, at the east end of Hyde Park. I have no republican spite against nobles. One hates to reduce life to its mere realities. To be able to set apart a portion of our species, and endow them, as a lover his mistress, with the attributes of imaginary excellence, is delightful. Why is this divine faculty of imagination bestowed upon us? It is because simple truths are insufficient to human enjoyments. To give beauty rank, is but setting the picture in a better light, and increasing the joy of the spectator. Lords are good things, if only to make novels' out of. What would become of the tragic Muse ? What would any one have to cry about?
* Of the Cincinnati Society.
Some degree of nobility is established by nature and necessity, in all governments. Even the church has its saints. We have our little titles, both civil and military; France has ber peerage for life, England her hereditary peerage. We have built our edifice in the Doric style, why find fault with those who prefer the Corinthian? The two extremes, absolutism and excessive liberty, are detestable; the exact happy medium is not yet (perhaps is never to be) discovered. For who can estimate how much of good and evil exists in each form ? how much of either is ascribable to accident or human policy? and how much forms of government are to be accommodated to the condition of its subjects, to moral and religious habits, to extent, climate, and even to the nature of its employments and productions? I love best the republic, under honest rule, if the scheme is practicable, and even a licentious democracy better than a quiet despotism. There is much good in a hereditary nobility. The evil which appears to me most obvious, is the notion it inculcates in weak minds (not the smaller number) of a personal superiority, independent of personal merit, and its tendency to run into excessive pride; a vice which, recommended by a high and influential class, soon infects a whole community, always descending with aggravation from a higher to a lower rank; stronger in the meaner mind. Lord Wellington is, I have no doubt, less proud of all the 'decorations' of Europe, than his corporal of his worsted epaulettes; and who does not know that the footman upon the tail of the duke's coach is prouder than his grace inside? The contempt of the Carolina slave for the buckra, or poor white, is perhaps the most flagrant instance of this vice that is extant. It is the common reproach of all nations; but I have no hesitation in signalizing it as the one eminent and characteristic vice of the English - active, intense, and universal.
The desire of seeming of a higher, and the apprehension of being suspected of a lower rank, are the tormenting and pervading sentiments, through every order of their society. No one, indeed, expects persons differing in fortune, station, or natural endowments, to associate on terms of intimacy; but surely, a sense of protection and gratitude, and a disparity of tastes, are sufficient to maintain the social distinctions. If they are providential, there cannot be a necessity of resorting to motives condemned not only by religion and humanity, but by common sense. The whole of human existence, what is it but one unqualified lesson of humility? The queen eats her daily meals; she sleeps (if queens sleep) eight hours of the twenty-four; she is born, she dies; she suffers the pains and perils of child-birth ;' has the measles and the whooping-cough, and is liable to all the infirmities of her meanest subjects. Alas! there is but virtue only, which forbids pride, to give a color of reason to justify this passion, even in the most elevated of human beings.
One has to lament, also, in considering the institution of nobility; its incapacity to render its possessor happy. How many unnecessary testimonies I could bring of this truth! Even here, upon this fashionable end of Hyde-Park, the general countenance is severe and gloomy, and the splendid pomp moves by, as if performing some duty, imposed as a task. One is tempted to say with that queer foreigner admitted to an English ball-room, ' Could you not have