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THE DINNER OF THE MONTHS.
Once upon a time, the Months determined to dine together. They were a long while deciding who should have the honor of being the host upon so solemn an occasion, but the lot at length fell upon
December; for although the old gentleman's manners were found to be rather cold, upon first acquaintance, yet it was well known that when once you got under his roof, there was not a merrier or more hospitable person in existence. The messenger, too, Christmas Day, whom he sent round with his cards of invitation, won the hearts of all; although he played several mad pranks, and received many a box in return. February begged to be excused coming to the dinner, as she was in very bad spirits, on account of the loss of her youngest child, the twenty-ninth, who had lately left her, and was not expected to return for four years. Her objection, however, was overruled; and being seated at table between the smiling May and that merry old fellow, October, she appeared to enjoy the evening's entertainment as much as any of the company.
The dinner was a superb one, all the company having contributed to furnish out the table. January thought, for the thirtieth time, what he should give, and then determined to give a calf's head. February, not being a very productive month, was also a little puzzled; but at length resolved to contribute an enormous cake, which she managed to manufacture in fine style, with the assistance of her servant, Valentine, who was an excellent fellow at that sort of ware, but especially at bride cake. March and April agreed to furnish all the fish; May to decorate the dishes with flowers; June to supply plenty of excellent cider; July and August to present the dessert; September a magnificent course of all sorts of game, excepting pheasants; which exception was supplied by October, as well as a couple of hampers of fine home-brewed ale; and November engaged that there should be an abundance of ice. The rest of the eatables, and all the wine, were provided by the worthy host himself.
Just before sitting down to table, a squabble arose about precedence; some of the company insisting that the first in rank was January, and some that it was March. The host, however, decided in favor of January, whom he placed in the seat of honor, at his right hand. November, a prim, blue-nosed old maid, sat at his left; and June, a pleasant, good-tempered fellow, although occasionally rather too warm, sat opposite him, at the end of the table.
The dinner was admirably served. Christmas Day was the principal waiter; but the host had been obliged to beg the attendance of some of his guests' servants, and accordingly, Twelfth-night, Shrove Tuesday, and Michaelmas Day, officiated in various departments : though Shrove Tuesday was speedily turned out, for making rather too free with a prim, demure servant maid, called Good Friday, while she was toasting some buns for the tea table.
A short, squablittle fellow, called Saint Thomas's Day, stood behind December's chair, and officiated as toast-master; and much merriment was excited by the contrast between the diminutive appearance of this man, and the longest day, who stood behind June, at the other end of the table. Master Thomas, however, was a very
useful fellow; and beside performing the high official duty which we have mentioned, he drew the curtains, stirred the fire, lighted and snuffed the candles, and like all other little men, seemed to think himself of more importance than any body else.
The pretty blushing May was the general toast of the company; and many compliments were passed upon the elegant manner in which she had ornamented the dishes. Old January tried to be very sweet upon her, but she received him coldly. January at length ceased to persecute her with his attentions, and transferred them to November, who was of the same politics as himself, although she had not been quite so successful in supporting them. Poor May had scarcely got rid of her venerable lover, before that sentimental swain, April, began to tell her that he was absolutely dying for her. This youth was one moment all sunshine, and smiles, and rapture, and the next he dissolved in tears, clouds gathered upon his brow, and he looked a fitter suitor for November than for
May; who, having at last hinted as much to him, he left her in a huff, and entered into close conversation with September, who, although much his senior, resembled him in many particulars.
July, who was of a desperately hot temper, was every now and then a good deal irritated by March, a dry old fellow, as cool as a cucumber, who was continually passing his jokes upon him. At one time, July went so far as to threaten him with a prosecution for something he had said; but March, knowing what he was about, managed to keep on the windy side of the law, and to throw dust in the eyes of his accusers. July, however, contrived to have his revenge ; for being called upon for a song, he gave The Dashing White Sergeant in great style, and laid a peculiar emphasis upon the words · March, March away,' at the same time motioning to his antagonist to leave the room.
April having announced that it was raining hard, January was much perplexed as to how he should get home, as he had not brought his carriage. At one time, when he was looking very anxiously out of the window, to discover if there were any stars visible, October, at the suggestion of May, asked him if he thought of borrowing Charles's wain to carry him, as he had done so great a kindness to its proprietor? This put the old fellow into such a passion, that he hastily seized his head gear, a red cap, sallied out through the rain, and would most likely have broken his neck in the dark, had not February sent her footman, Candlemas Day, after him, with a lantern, by whom he was guided in safety to his lodgings in Fog Alley.
On the retirement of the ladies, February, May, August, and November, the host proposed their healths, which were drunk with the usual honors ; when April, being a soft-spoken youth, and ambitious of distinction as an orator, began to return thanks for them, in a very flowery speech; but was soon coughed down by December and March; and March, by the by, at length got into such high favor with his old enemy, July, that the latter was heard to give him an invitation, saying, that if ever he came to his side of the zodiac, he should be most happy to see him. October told the host that, with his leave, he would drink no more wine, but that he should be glad of some good home-brewed, and a pipe. To this December acceded, and said he should be happy to join him, and he thought his
friend March would do the same. March having nodded assent, they set to, and a pretty puffing and blowing they made. April, however, continued to drink Madeira, while June, July, and September stuck with exemplary constancy to the Burgundy.
After repeated summonses to the drawing-room, they joined the ladies at the tea table. November drew herself up, and affected to be quite overpowered by the smell of smoke, which March, October, and December had brought in with them; although it was well known that the old lady herself could blow a cloud as well as any of them. August, a grave, stately matron, of extraordinary beauty, although perhaps un peu passée, officiated as tea-maker. Good Friday, who by this time had recovered the fright into which Shrove Tuesday had thrown her, handed about the toasted buns; and Swithin, a servant of July, was employed to keep the tea-pot supplied with water, which he too often did to overflowing.
Tea being over, the old folks went to cards; and the young ones, including October, who managed to hide his years very successfully, to the piano-forte. May was the prima donna, and delighted every one, especially poor April, who was alternately smiles and tears during the whole of her performance. October gave them a hunting song, which caused even the card tables to be deserted ; and August sang a sweet, melancholy canzonet, which was rapturously encored.
At length, Candlemas Day having returned from seeing old Januuary home, his mistress, February, took leave of the company. April, who was a little the worse for the wine he had drunk, insisted on escorting November; although she had several servants in waiting, and her road was in an opposite direction to his own. May went away in her own carriage, and undertook to set June down, who lived very near her. The road was hilly and steep, but her coachman, Ascension Day, got the horses very well to the top; and July and August both walked home, each preceded by a dog-day, with a lighted torch. September and October, who were next door neighbors, went away in the same hackney coach; and March departed as he came, on the back of a rough Shetland pony.
Where lives the soul of poetry? Dark caves
Cold, cheerless Greenland, where the ice-berg hoar
The rich warm bues that flush the western cloud,
LETTERS FROM PALMYRA.
The following epistles from a modern Palmyrene to a citizen of Rome, in the empire state, may be read with profit. They throw considerable light upon the wonders of the deep, and indeed upon several of the elements, as well as upon the natural creation generally, inanimate, pedal, quadrupedal, and otherwise. They are submitted to the public with deference, on the part of the translator; but at the same time with a most confident belief that they will be found infinitely to surpass the crude conceptions and rampant twaddle, so common at the present time of day. To say that they are clever, is what the compiler dares openly to insinuate, in the face of Christendom; and to deny that they are genuine, he humbly conceives would be to add insult to injury. Where nothing remains to be said, in most cases, little is vociferated; and it is out of respect to this timehonored custom, that the cicerone who thus ushers to the world these missive fragments, content with their introduction to the universe, withdraws himself from the portico, and leaves them to make their own impression. It remains only to add, that they were found in a canalboat, and were bought for two shillings, from a Syracuse merchant, who was desirous of using the paper io enwrap a piece of cheese in.
L ET TERS FROM GIOVANNI SMITHINI, OF MODERN PALMYRA, LATE OF ROME, 'A CITY IN ITALY,'* TO BETSEY
BAKERIO, OF ROME, NEW-YORK.
Modern Palmyra, August, 1838. GRACE AND SALUTATION! I address you, beloved Betsey! for the first time in the whole course of my life, strange to say, from this vast metropolis, which, as you know, I have never visited before, and which renders this circumstance only the more remarkable. Familiar as you are with the mysteries of Polytheism, you cannot marvel that I should impute an event so extraordinary to some feat of the gods; many of whom, as we have recently heard, through our oracle, of late consulted at Communipaw, are afflicted with the hydrophobia, and vermes of Digby. The dog-star has raged intensely, and the oracles have teemed with bodings of broil and bother. These things, my Betsey, have upset the usual tranquillity of my mind; and though occasionally cheerful, I am for the most part somewhat restive under the omen.
When we ate our last dish of macaroni under the walls of the empress of the world, I little thought that I should ever salute you from the projected capital of a new republic; from a city, destined, at no great period of remoteness, to be the sister of Rome, the mother of Syracuse, and the venerated grandmother of Salina and Lodi, and in all probability the aunt of Satan's Kingdom,' a place facetiously so called, and situate betwixt the first-named town and modern
* Vide 'Little Pedlington Guide-Book,' by Sixcox Rommiss, Esq.