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usual^ to inflict a speech.

It IS impossible to conceive a more unfavourable place for an ora-
tor than the House of Lords : one would as soon think of getting up

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to make a speech in a cataeomb. The thin, untenanted appearance
of the House ; the be^^arly account of empty benches* reminding
one of a provincial theatre on a benefit night ; the evident apathy ^
listlessness, and indifference of the eleven Peers who have nothing
else to do but listen, and the impatience of the three Ministerial
Lords, who know it is all '' gammon ;" the abstracted look of the
unhappy Chancellor, who, aher toiling all day in his court, wants to
get home to prepare some important judgment ; the yawning, stretch-
ing, and looking at watches (it now wants but five minutes to seven)
would extinguish the fire of any orator (except Brufly ) that ever wag^
ged a tongue.

The noble and learned Lord begins ; he is full of his subject, and
is determined to work it off in speech. He dwells upon the im-
portance of his subject, and solicits thereto the attention of the noble
Buke. [|The Duke moves one leg, as much as to say, don't imagine
that I 'm asleep.] He goes on, trying to warm ; but the atmosphere
of the House is too chilly, and his words seem to freeze upon his
lips. He tries a joke ; a sickly smile flits over the faces of one or
two Peers, which in the Parliamentary reports of the following day
figures in parenthesis (a laugh). He becomes impressive, but there
is nobody to impress ; he is eloquent, but there is no sympathy.
He mijght as well talk to the Elgin marbles, for any visible impres-
sion his eloquence appears to make.

At length he hits a sympathetic chord ; he will no longer occupy
the time of the House (it is now half-past seven) ; his forbearance
is rewarded with a distinct " Hear, hear ;" Peers seize their hats
and canes, and two or three nearest the doors make off, anticipating
the conclusion of the speaker. He concludes at last ; the Chancellor
slides off the Woolsack, the Peers disappear noiselessly, like sha«
dowB of senators ; and you go home, tbinking that, after all, the
House of Lords is worth going to once, for the same reason that
people have made voyages to the North Pole ; for the discovery, in
short, that there is nothing to discover.


Thb superabundance of London wealth, when it has satisfied
every animal want, and provided abundantly for every comfort of
life, overflows infancies.

The direction these fancies take with any people are no bad evi^
dences of their moral and social state. In his business the man is
artificial ; in his recreations, his fancies, he is natural ; for in recrea-
tion every man strives to please himself.

If you find a man'afanctes intellectual ; if he has a taste for books,
music, prints, flowers, a holiday stroll in green fields, you may form
a pretty shrewd guess that the habits of that man's mind have an
intellectual tendency ; if, on the other hand, you observe anodier
man whose passion is for a fierce bull-dog, a snappish terrier, a silky
spaniel, or for horse-racing, wrestling, or other rude and violent
sports, you may be tolerably well assured that the way of thinking
of that man is downward, and that his mind partakes of the animal

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N. Felix, Esq.


R. Kynaston, Esq.

A. Mynn, Esq.


W. Pickering, Esq.


C. G. Taylor, Esq.


Of the refined and intellectual amusements of the educated and
humanized classes we shall not at present speak, but confine our-
selves to those amusements, if amusements they can be called,
which, although gentlemen now and then indulge in them, make
properly tliejanctes of London life.

Of these, the first is one partaking of a national character, re-
quiring a happy union of activity, strength, and skill, acute eye,
ready hand, flexible back, agile limbs, every muscle in the body
being by turns called into vigorous exertion, — the king of field-
games, the peculiarly English game of cricket.

To see this played in the highest perfection, the amateur must re-
pair to

lord's ground,

where an announcement, somewhat as follows, will probably arrest
his attention, as he pays his shilling for admittance, at the gate : —


WiQ be played in Lord's Groand, Marylebone, July 31, 1423, and following days.
The Gentlemen and Players of England.


Hon. F. Ponsonby. Butler.

Hon. G. H. Grimston. Box.

Sir F. U. Bathurst Dean«

T. A. Anson, Esq. Guv.

T. Craven, Esq. Hilfyer.

And if he chooses to await the great annual match of the Gkntls«
tf EN AND PiiAYBRS OF ENOiiAND, he will Dot regret having spent a
day or two in seeing this royal game in its highest state of perfec-

Lord's (Ground is a space of well-cropped sward of about eleven
acres, a tennis-court bounding it to the south ; to the east, a pavilion
for the use of gentlemen players and their fiishionable friends ; and
inclosed by paling on the other two sides. Wickets are placed in
different parts of the ground, where the competitors amuse them-
selves getting their hands in, until the bell rings for clearing the
ground, and beginning the business of the day.

Here are pointed out to you, conspicuous among the crowd, the
immortals of the game. You are astonished to hear their respective
excellences dilat^ upon with gutto by the assembled amateurs.
That rather corpulent, but extremely well-made man, is Mr. A.
Mynn, the first /a^f bowler of the day. There stands the immortal
Pilch, the greatest of professional batters, a man of long legs, short
body, and broad-brimmed hat That square-built, thick-set man, is
Box, in whom you regard with reverence the best wicket-keeper in
£ngland. LilkiY white, the facile princeps of slow bowlers^ is not
wanting ; nor the greatest of known long-stops, Mr. W. Mynn. Ba-
TUURST is there, and Pickering, whose merits as fielders are su-
preme. Here are assembled, as spectators, numbers of players from
the provinces, cricketers of Kent, and cricketers of Nottingham, not
unknown to fame.

Now flags are posted, to indicate the line beyond which specta*
tors may not pass with impunity, and a substantial square of spec-
tators stand, sit, and recline around. The markers take their seats,
and hard by them the Nestor of cricketers, Lo&d Fbedkric Beau-




CLBRC, takes a privileged seat, attended by his faithful dof^, whose
exertions in keepinj^ a cordon sanitaire of exclusion around his master
excites much merriment.

The gentlemen gain the first innings, the players are dispersed
over the field ; and now begins the tug of war between those who
make cricket their recreation and those who pursue it as a pro-

Whatpen^ if not the pen of Nimrod, that mighty hunter, and his-
torian of mighty hunters, shall describe the batting, bowling, field-
ing, and catching-out of that glorious day? Who shall convey
even the faintest idea of the precision^ force, and effect with which
Mr. A. Mynn urges his telling balls, as from the centre of his
breast, against the opposing wicket ; or the nice dexterity and appa-
rent ease with which the no less immortal Pilch sends it spinning
through the retreating crowd ; or the agile running and instantaneous
capture of the ball by Pickering or Bathurst ; or the unlucky catch
of Felix, the humourist of the party, who tears his hair, and rolls
himself upon the ground in well-affected agony of his misfortune ;
or the resounding applause that greets every coup of superior skill
on the part of the gentlemen, or, minore amore, the applause attend-
ing the professional skill and fortune of the players !

Who but an enthusiast of the game — who but he that playing
cricket, and aware of its difficulties, shall describe the interest ex-
cited by every coup on the side of either party, the alacrity of bet-
ting, and the rapidity with which large sums change hands, not only
upon the issue of the match, but upon the probable number of runs
scored in any given innings ? Who shall transcribe the eloquence of
Mr. Ward, late Member for London, and late one of the first crick-
eters in the world ? — who to an admiring auditory, like another Os-
sian, descant upon the feats of old, and the heroes of other days ?


The love of sport — the desire of capturing and killing wild ani-
mals, seems to be an instinct, inextinguished, inextinguishable, of the
primeval hunter, man. We are all more or less Nimrods, at heart,
and our venatorial propensities will find merit somehow, were it only
after the fashion of a cockney sportsman.

Spite of Nature, who has withdrawn almost all that hjerce naturce
from his immediate neighbourhood ; spite of game-laws, fishing-
laws, laws of trespass, and the network of penal clauses, Uie handi-
work of landowners in parliament assemblea, endfClinghim at every
step on this forbidden ground, your cockney, unable to quench the
thirst of blood, unequal to repress the noble rage for conquest of the
feathery and finny prey, persists in invasion of the yiburban ponds,
ditches, dairy-farms, and nursery grounds, ^' going a fishing," or
" going out a shooting."

On a fine, warm day in September, we have counted in Kensing-
ton Gardens, and Hyde Park, no less than two hundred and eighty-
four anglers, large, small, and intermediate, including gentlemen,
chimney-sweepers, military- officers, blackguard boys, in short, every
gradation of the indefinitely- graduated scale of metropolitan social
life, was here represented, in exact conformity with Dr. Johnson's
definition, ^^a worm at one end, a fool at the other."

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Of these^ some were accoutred in full fishing panolpy ; somewhat
in the style in which we may imagine a renter of a water on the
Tweed takes the river on a fine fresh mornings after a spate, when
the salmon are on the run. Splendid brass-mounted rod^ with spear^
multiplying reel^ and spare-tops; landing-net, long enough and
strong enough to land, if need be, a tolerably active grampus;
japanned tin-can, to hold live- fish, if by accident there should be any
to put in it ; a box for gentles, a bag for ground-bait, a mat to carry
sundry piscatorial odds and ends, and you have the cockney angler
turned out in complete style.

It is amusing to see the result of all this artillery in two or three
wretched roach, or misbegotten gudgeons, swimming in the japanned
tin-can ; nor are even these seduced from their watery element with-
out an expenditure of as much ground-bait as would have purchased
a tolerably-sized cod-fish at Billingsgate.

The thorough-going angler brings in his basket half a quartern
loaf, which, chewing, he casts in at intervals, close to where his float
swims, with provoking equanimity, upon the surface ; sometimes he
has a bag full of ground malt, a handful of which he jerks upon the
water; nothing can be more ridiculous than the disproportion of
ends to means, exhibited by these worthy disciples of the gentle
Izaak Walton.

The poor fisherman, on the contrary, is furnished forth in a way
that contrasts marvellously with the piscatorial panolpy of his monied
brother. A rudely put together hazel-rod, without fittings of any
kind, sometimes a willow, or even a walking-stick, with the usual
appurtenances, serve his turn ; nor does he seem much less success-
ful in his fishing than the other.

Everywhere around London, whether by the Regent's Canal, the
New River, the Surrey Canal, and even in the docks, you will find a
profusion of anglers, of all sorts and sizes, — the mechanic out of
work, the truant schoolboy, the lazy good-for-nothing, the Chelsea
out-pensioner upon sixpence a day, the tailor or shoemaker on
** strike," all swell the motley mob of metropolitan piscators. The
fishing-tackle shops abound with tantalizing announcements of
" Subscription Fisheries," abounding with jack, dace, roach, gud-
geons, and every variety of pond and river fish ; the subscription
varies from half-a-guinea to two guineas, and the advertisement
usually concludes with a notice that no angler is to carry away on
any day's fishing more than ten pounds* weight offish. This we take
to be one of the many jests broken upon the peaceful fraternity of
anglers ; since the capture, in any one day, of ten ounces of fish, we
should imagine mucn nearer the usual average of the success of
suburban sportsmen.

Upon the banks of the rivers at some distance from town, say
within a radius often or twelve miles, you will find anglers, patient
and unmoved as mile-stones, though at much shorter intervals.
These are, generally, gentlemen of an uncertain age ; some, indeed,
judging by the bald-pate, or the silvery locks, might, without the
slightest stretch of veracity, be called old. These are favourable re-
presentatives of the genuine cockney angler.

They are never seen pursuing their art in the immediate precincts
of the town ; the little boys are a source of infinite annoyance to
them, and, besides, they have a character to lose ; they go some-


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where where they are told, at least, that something may be caught ;
and they do not return without being able to boast of not less than
one glorious nibble.

They are equipped cap^^ie, with all the accoutrements of ge-
nuine Izaaks ; with the additional comfort of a portable chair, upon
which they sit in the sun, with patience worthy the art which tney
profess, now and then uncovering to wipe the perspiring head, or
applying a little flask to the lips^ which possibly contains some ex*
hilarating elixir.

Although not an angler, we have an angle, ei cetera, and we find
it useful^ as an excuse, when we would

'< By sweet riven freely walk at will.**

It gives us a pretence for introducing ourselves along the margin
of the reedy Colne, or by the rippling, gravelly-bedded Wandle, of
by the classic Lea, Walton's favourite haunt, and we are not slow to
use our angle thus, fishing for men.

Perhaps there is nothing the traveller requires more than an ob-
ject : this angling affords him, whether he pursue it with the devo«
tion of a master of the art, or whether, as with ourselves, it is but
his excuse for idling, still it is worth something. He is led by it
where nature is most lovely ; he finds the disciples of Walton usually
an unambitious, harmless, kindly-tempered class of men ; and he
finds himself, at the close of day, hospitably entertained in some pis^
catorial tavern or river-side alehouse, where, if he does not find " the
sheets smelling of lavender, and twenty ballads stuck about the
wall," he will at least be comfortably housed, and well treated, for
the sake of his supposed brother anglers, if not for his own.



Hx laid that he would love me, and I listeii*d to the vow
He breathed so fervent in my ear, and ieal*d upon my brow !
I treasured every word and look, and dwelt upon each tone
To keep within my doating heart long after he was gone !

He Mid that he was call*d away, my boeom heaved with pain ;
But when he whisperM of return, it grew more light again 1
He chided me for being sad ; I murmured out my fears,
And tried to please him with a smile that melted in my tears !

We parted : 'twas a lovelv night, the stars shed forth their glow ;
He spoke of hopes as bright as they, — my own were sunk in woe !
He press*d my hand upon his lips, the last farewell was given,
And as he joomey'd on I breathed my tears for him to heaven I

Oh ! wearily the days pass'd on that should have borne him home,
And Uiough they numbered months to years, the wanderer did not come !
I sought him by the hilKside, or by the trysting-spot,
Sat watching for his well-known step, alas! it sounded not I

And sorrowfully now I roam the pkoe at quiet eve.
Where he went forth with heart elate, and I retum*d to grieve!
The stars have still the holy beam, as when he left me there.
And love removes one pang to think, they beam on him dteivbere !

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^* Wild hills, and clamorous brooks, and inland Bcas,
Ask not what charms I find in these.**

To those who travelled long ago in all the aristocratic exdusive-
ness of a private carriage, journeys lost their animation and interest,
as much as the stage would do were the side-scenes exhibited, but
the living actors absent. The story of human life and character is
the most entertaining of all studies, and the delight of a summer ex-
cursion is greatly enhanced during modem times bv the universal
prevalence, on land or sea, of steam-conveyances, which have abo-
lished the style of touring, when in a family-coach
travellers gave an airing to the body, bat not to the mind, which
made no excursion from family cares, family interests, and perhaps
even family quarrels, which had already too long beset the family
fireside. The Dr. Syntaxes of our time may not only search for the
picturesque in nature, but they may find endless diversion also in
discovering the picturesque in character, as we need not now steam
down the Khine, nor rush to America for studies after Nature, and
specimens of the sublimely ridiculous. Never was this more amus-
ingly exemplified than during my first voyage to Stafia, when the
noble scenery, raising every emotion of admiration and awe, might
have been compared to a tragedy, contrasted with the broad farce en-
licted on deck by a multitarious assemblage of grotesque-looking
personages, who with sketch-books, guide-books, and telescopes in
hand, were qualifying themselves to be able for the rest of their
Mves to boast that they had seen Stafa.

Our first acquaintance with the dramatis personas began when the
passengers all resolved to dine on deck, during which our attention
was excited by the vehement loquacity of an old lady, with a quick,
shrill voice, and English accent, who evidently thought that Bruce
and Park were scarcely more enterprising than herself in having
ventured so far from London, and who was almost surprised, I sus-
pect, to find that the savages of Argyleshire were white, or could
speak English. Her chief concern in travelling evidently was to eat^
and she expected at dinner on board our small steamboat, '* The
Highlander." to have mutton kept to a minute and roasted to a turn,
with every comfort and luxury besides that might be found at a
first-rate restaurateur's in Paris. Everything that displeased her
palate she relentlessly tossed into the sea, which acted as a most con-
venient and extensive slop-basin, though some of the company fear-
ed that, as every dish was too lean or too fat, and she had announced
her intention to starve if better could not be produced, the whole
dinner might suddenlv be added to " the treasures of the deep."
We ventured to defend the absent cook's reputation, and to partake
with good seafaring appetites of some condemned mutton-chops,
while she looked contemptuously on, and, like Sancho's doctor, hur-
ried away all she could lay her hands on, and among other dishes,
the potatoes, giving orders that they should be more boiled, and add-
ing, with a bitter glance at my well-replenished plate, *' Some peo-
ple, I dare say, prefer them raw, but tastes differ, and other people
do not choose, from mere complaisance, to be poisoned." A general




smile was raised by this happy application of the convenient terms,
" some people, and other people/' excellent auxiliaries in the agree-
able art of talking at people^ and she finished her criticism of our
dinner, and put us all in an agony of disgust by mentioning:, that
when she had been resting on a hen-coop on deck two hours before,
the steward seized hold of the chickens we were now eating, and put
them to death before her eyes.

Mrs. D. had on this occasion appointed herself mentor, or tor-
mentor, to a young nephew and ward, who wished to see the High-
lands; but she informed the company that since crossing the border
she had scarcely enjoyed a moment's peace, on account of the dan-
gerous facility in Scotland for taking in young men to marry, and
she waa in a degree of apprehension that Sir A. might rush into
some entanglement of the kind, which amounted almost to mono-
mania, while she seemed to have a' tendency to money 'XriAma also, as,
with a large income, she grudged herself the smallest enjoyment,
resisting every incidental attack upon her purse, as if it involved a
probability of bankruptcy.

A laughable confusion was occasioned during dinner by the eti-
quette established on board, that before a cork be drawn each indi-
vidual pays on the spot for whatever he drinks; the gentlemen,
therefore, clubbed together, purse in hand, for a supply of wine, or
whatever beverages they fancied, and one ban-vivant might be heard
asking, in a matter-of-course tone, whether his opposite neighbour
would "join him in a bottle of porter ?"

" I am already engaged to take ale with Mrs. D.," was the reply ;
" but here is Sir A. on the look out for a helpmate."

(His aunt visibly started !)

'' I am taking ginger-beer with Mr. N.," replied the young ba-
ronet ; " but Captain Campbell seems disengaged."

Matters being so far adjusted, the various descriptions of beer
were forthwith summoned, when a number of ridiculous blunders
ensued ; the ale bespoke by Mrs. D. being precipitated into th^ glass
of Mr. N., who had a horror of strong Scotch ale ; and a bottle of
ginger-beer exploding like a pistol at the ear of Mrs. D., who was
inundated with the contents, to the no small detriment of her many-
coloured dress.

In passing near the shores of Mull, a farm was pointed out to us,
containing three thousand acres, at a rent of only ninety pounds a
year ! A squatter in New Zealand could scarcely find any land so
cheap ; and it was abundantly peopled with birds of every feather,
some of which Captain Campbell amused himself with firing at ; but
scarcely had he exhibited his skill by wounding a cormorant, before
Mrs. D. seized hold of his arm, and exclaimed with breathless
energy, *' If you fire another shot, sir, I go off in hysterics ! " This
threat might have disarmed any Captain Campbell in the world, and
it proved infallible on this occasion ; therefore, subsequently, when-
ever anything was said or done which annoyed her sensitive nerves,
she tried the same experiment of being nervous and hysterical, a
menace which carried such despotic authority that it may be safely
recommended to all ladies in steamboats who are anxious for their
own way. On one occasion Mrs. D. complained to the captain that
at every station he stopped to take in fresh passengers, while none
ever departed, so that the deck was becoming inconveniently crowd-
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ed, and in the midst of her oration, observing a large flat boat put-
ting from the shore, with some scores of sheep, she instantly con-
cluded that they were also coming on board, and became quite fran-
tic with indignation, exclaiming, "I really will not admit those
sheep ! it 's a thing I 'm not accustomed to, and I — "

" Really, madam," began the captain in a soothing tone.

" Don't attempt to persuade me! 1*11 never consent !" continued
she, with increasing energy, while the worthy captain, having the
terror of hysterics before his eyes, contrived with very great diffi-
calty to explain that the obnoxious sheep had no thoughts of in-
truding, and were starting off in a different direction.

On landing that night at the pretty village of Tobermory, in Mull,
we walked to the one small, insignificant inn there, and found the
whole accommodation already secured by several of our fellow-pas-
sengers, more alert than ourselves, while the landlady coolly assured
us that not a nook or corner in the house remained unoccupied.

" How very strange !" said A., in some perplexity ; *' we were as-
sured that rooms had been bespoke for us by Mr. Maclean."

" Who is Mr. Maclean ?" asked the landlady sharply.

" Maclean of Coll !"

" Coll ! " exclaimed she, drawing the door open till its hinges
cracked, *'I wouldn't disappoint Coll for all Mull, or Glasgow

She hastily proceeded now, by the most arbitrary proceedings, to
clear off* a host of intruders, who vacated three rooms, of which we

Online LibraryCharles DickensBentley's miscellany → online text (page 29 of 86)