Charles James Lever.

The adventures of Arthur O'Leary online

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he is ; he is losing a deal of money."

" Eh ! dropping his tin, is he ? and you'd rather save
him, Crotty — all right and sportsmanlike," said his lord-
ship, with a knowing wink, and walked on.

" A very bad one, indeed, I fear," said Crotty,
looking after him ; " but I didn't think him so heart-
less as that. Let us take a turn, and look out for

Now, although I neither knew Wycherley nor his friend
Crotty, 1 felt it a case where one might transgress a little
on etiquette, and probably save a young man — he didn't
look twenty — from ruin, and so, without more ado, I
accompanied my new acquaintance through the crowded
salons, elbowing and pushing along, amid the hundreds
that thronged there. Crotty seemed to know almost every
one of a certain class ; and as he went, it was a perpetual
"Comment 9a va," prince, count, or baron? or, "How
d'ye do, my Lord ?" or, " Eh, Sir Thomas, you here ? " &c. ;
when at length, at the side of a doorway leading into the
supper-room, we came upon the Honourable Jack, with
two ladies leaning upon his arms. One t; lance was enough ;
I saw they were the Alderman's daughters : Sir Peter
himself, at a little distance off, was giving directions to
the waiter for supper.

" Eh ! Crotty ; what are you doing to-night ? " said
Jack, with a triumphant look at his fair companions, " any
mischief going forward, eh ? "

" Nothing half so dangerous as your doings," said
Crotty, with a very arch smile ; " have you seen Wycherley ;
is he here ? "

" Can't possibly say," yawned out Jack ; then, leaning
over to me, he said in a whisper, " Is the Princess Yon
Hohenstauvenof in the rooms ? "

" I really don't know ; Pni quite a stranger."

" By Jove, if she is," said he, without paying any atten-
tion to my reply, " J 'm floored, that's all ; Lady Maude


Beverley has cauglifc mo already. I wish you'd keep the
Deverington girls in talk, will you? "

" You forget, perhaps, I have no acquaintance here."

" Oh yes, by Jove, so I did ! Glorious fuu you must have
of it ! what a pace I'd go along if I wasn't known, eh ! —
wouldn't I ? "

" There's "Wycherley — there he is," said Grotty, taking
me by the arm as he spoke, and leading me forward. " Do
me the favour to give me your name ; I should like you
to know Wycherley ; " and scarcely had I pronounced it,
when I found myself exchanging greetings Avith a large,
well-built, black-whiskei'ed, and moustached man of about
forty. He Avas dressed in deep raourniug, and looked in
his manner and air very much the gentleman.

" Have you got up the party yet. Grotty ? " said he,
after our first salutations were over, and with a half-glanco
towards me.

" No, indeed," said Grotty, slowly ; " the fact is, I wasn't
thinking of it. There's a poor young fellow yonder losing
very heavily, and I wanted to see if you knew him ; it
would be only fair to "

'* So it would — where is he ? " interrupted the baronet,
as he pushed tlirough the crowd towards the play-room.

" I told you he was a trump," said Grotty, as we fol-
lowed him ; " the fellow to do a good-natured thing at
any moment."

While we endeavoui-ed to get through after him, we
passed close beside a small supper-table, where sat the
Alderman and his two pretty daughters, the Honourable
Jack between them. It was evident from his boisterous
gaiety that he had triumphed over all his fears of detec-
tion by any of the numerous fair ones he spoke of; his
great object at this instant appearing to be the desire to
attract every one's attention towards him, and to publish
his triumph to all beholders. For this. Jack conversed
in a voice audible at some distance off, surveying his vic-
tims from time to time with the look of the Great Mogul ;
while they, poor girls, only imagined themselves regarded
for their own attractions, which were very considerable,
and believed that tlie companionship of tlic distinguished
Jack was the envy of every woman about them. As for

THE GAM3LING-R00:.I. 831

the father, he was deep in the mysteries of a vol au vent,
and perfectly indifl'crent to such insignificant trifles as
Jack's blandishments and the ladies' blushes.

Poor girls ! no persuasion in life could have induced
them to such an exhibition in their own country, and in
company with one their equal in class. But the fact of
its bein^ Germany ! and the escort being an Honourable !
made 'fcli the difference in the world ; and they who would
have jresitated with maiden coyness at the honourable
proposals of one of their own class, felt no scruple at
compromising themselves before hundreds to indulge the
miserable vanity of a contemptible coxcomb.

I stood for a second or two beside the table, and thought
■within myself, " Is not this as much a case to call for the
interference of friendly caution as that of the gambler
yonder." But then, how was it possible?

We passed on and reached the play- table, where we
found Sir Harry Wycherley in low and earnest conversa-
tion with the young gentleman. I could only catch a
stray expression here and there, but even they surprised
me ; the arguments advanced to deter him from gambling
being founded on the inconsiderate plan of his game,
rather than on the immorality and vice of the practice

"Don't you see," said he, throwing his eye over the
card all dotted with pin holes — " don't you see, it's a I'un,
a dead run ? that you may bet on red, if you like, a dozen
times, and only win once or twice ? "

The youth blushed, and said nothing.

" I've seen forty thousand francs lost that way in less
than an hour."

"I've lost seventy thousand!" muttered the young
man, with a shudder like one who felt cold all over.
' " Seventy ! — not to-night, surely ? "

"Yes, to-night," replied he ; " I won fourteen hundred
Naps here when I came first, and didn't play for three
■weeks afterwards ; but unfortunately I strolled in here a
few nights since, and lost the whole back, as well as some
hundreds besides ; but this evening I came bent on win-
ning back — that was all I desired — winning back my


As he said these words, I saw Sir Henry steal a glance
at Crotty. The thing was as quick as liglitning, but never
did a ghince reveal more ; he caught my eye upon him,
and, looking round fully at me, said, in a deep, ominoua
voice, —

" That's the confounded part of it ; it's so hard to stop
when you're losing."

" Hard ! — impossible ! " cried the youth, whose eyes
were now rivetted on the table, following every card that
fell from the banker's hands, and flushing and growing
pale with every alternation of the game. " See now, for
all you've said, look if the red has not won, four times
in succession."

" So it has," replied the Baronet, coolly ; " but thf pre-
vious run on black would have left your purse rather
shallow, or you must have a devilish deep one, that's all."

He took up a pencil as he spoke, and began to calculate
on the back of the card ; then, holding it over, he said, —

"There's what you'd have lost if you went on betting."

" What! — two hundred and eighty thousand francs !"

"Exactly; look here;" and he went over the figures
carefully before him.

" Don't you think you've had enough of it to-night?"
said Crotty, with an insinuating smile ; "what say you if
we all go and sup together in the Saal ?"

" Agreed," said Sir Harr^y, rising at once ; " Crotty,
will you look at the carte and do the needful ? you may
trust him, gentlemen," continued he, turning towards us
with a smile ; " old Crotty has a most unexceptionable
taste in all that regards cuisine and cave ; save a slight
leaning towards expense, he has not a fault !"

I mumbled out something of an apology, which was
unfortunately supposed by the Baronet to have reference
to his last remark. I endeavoured to explain away the
mistake, and ended like a regular awkward man, by com-
)il}ing with a request T had ])reviously resolved to decline.
The young man had already given his consent, and so we
arose and walked through the rooms, while Crotty in-
spected the bill of fare and gave orders about the wine."

Wycheiley seemed to know and be known by every
one, and as he interchanged greetings with the groups


that passed, declined several pressing invitations to sup.
" The fact is," said be to one of his most anxious inviters,
*' the fact is" — and the words were uttered in a whisj)er I
could just hear — " there's a poor young fellow here who
has been getting it rather sharp at the gold table, and I
mustn't lose sight of him to-night, or he'll inevitably go
back there."

These few words dispelled any uneasiness I had already
laboured under, from tiuding myself so unexpectedly
linked with two strangers. It was quite clear Sir
Harry was a fine-hearted fellow, and that his manly, frank
countenance was no counterfeit. As we went along,
"VVycherley amused us Avith his anecdotes of the company,
with whose private history he was conversant in its most
minute details ; and trulj-, low as had been my estimate
of the society at first, it fell considerably lower as I
listened to the private memoirs with which he favoui-ed us.

Some were the common narratives of debt and deser-
tion, protested bills, and so forth ; others were the bit-by-
bit details of extravagant habits pushed beyond all
limits, and ending in expatriation for ever. There were
faithless husbands, outraging all decency by proclaiming
their bad conduct ; there were as faithless wives, parading
about in all the effrontery of wickedness. At one side
sat the roue companion of George the Fourth, in his
princely days, now a mere bloated dehaucliee with rouged
cheeks, and dyed whiskers, living on the hackneyed anec-
dotes of his youthful I'ascality, and earning his daily
bread by an affected epicurism, and a Sybarite pretension,
which flattered the vulgar vanity of those who fed him ;
while the lion of the evening was a newly-ai"rived Earl,
whose hunters were that veiy day sold at Tattersall's, and
whose beautiful Countess, horror-stricken at the ruin so
unexpectedly come upon them, was lying dangerously ill
at her father's house in London. The young Peer, indeed,
bore up Avitli a fortitude that attracted the highest enco-
miums, and from an audience, the greater portion of
which knew in their own persons most of the ills he suf-
fered. He exchanged an easy nod, or a familiar shake of
the hand, with several acquaintances, not seen before for
many a day, and seemed to think that the severest blow


fortune bad dealt him, was the miserable price liis stud
would fetch at such a time of the year.

" The old story," said Wychcrley, as he shook him by
the hand, and told him his address. " The old story ; he
thought twenty thousand a year would do anything, but
it won't thongh. If men will keep a house in town, and
another in Gloucestershire, with a pack of fox-hounds,
and have four horses in training at Doncaster — not to
speak of a yacht at Cowes, and some other fooleries — they i
must come to the Jews : and when they come to the
Jews, the pace is faster than for the Derby itself. Two
hundred per cent, is sharp practice, and I can tell you,
not uncommon either; and then, when a man does begin
to topple, his efforts to recover always ruin him. It's
like a fall from your horse — make a struggle, and you're
sure to break your leg or your collar-bone — take it kindly,
and the chances are, that you get up all right again, after
the first shock."

I did not like either the tone or the morality of my
companion, but I well knew both were the conventional
coinage of his set, and I suffered him to continue without

" There's Mosely Cranmcr," said he, pointing to a slight
effeminate-looking young man, with a most girlish soft-
ness about his features. He was dressed in the very
extreme of fashion, and displayed all that an^ay of jewel-
lery, in pins, diamond vest buttons, and rings, so fre-
quently assumed by modern dandyism. His voice was a
thin, reedy treble, scarcely deep enough for a child.

" Who is he, and what is he doing here ?" asked I.

*' He is the heir to about eighty thousand per annum,
to begin with," said Wycherley, " which he has already
dipped beyond redemption. So far for his property. As
^ to what he is doing here, you may have seen in the Times
last week, that he shot an oflicer of the Guards in a duel
— killed him on the spot : the thing was certain — Cran-
mer's the best pistol-shot in England."

** Ah! Wycherley, how goes it, old fellow?" said the
youth, stretching out two fingers of his well-gloved band.
*^ You sec Edderdale is come ovei*. Egad ! we shall have all
England here soon, — leave the island to the Jews, I think !"


Sir Harry laughed heartily at the conceit, and invited
him to join our party at supper, but ho was already, I was
rejoiced to find, engaged to the Earl of Edderdale, who
was entertaining a select few, at his hotel, in honour of his

A waiter now came to inform us that Mr. Crotty was
<vaiting for us, to order supper, and we immediately pro-
ceeded to join him in the Saal.

The Baronet's eulogium on his friend's taste in ^our-
onandaise, was well and justly merited. The supper was
admirable — the " potage printaniere " seasoned to pei-fec-
tion — the "salmi des perdreaux, aux points d'asperges,"
delicious — and tlie " ortolans a la proven9ale," a dish for
the gods ; while the wines were of that cru and flavour
that only favoured individuals ever attained to, at tho
hands of a landlord. As plat succeeded plat, each
admirably selected in the order of succession, to heighten
the enjoyment and gratify the palate of the guest, the
conversation took its natural turn to matters gastronomic,
and where, I must confess, I can dally with as sincere
pleasure, as in the discussion of any other branch of the
fine arts. Mr. Crotty's forte seemed essentially to lie in
the tact of ordering and arranging a very admiz-able repast.
Wycherley, however, took a higher walk : he was histo-
rically qadronome, and had a store of anecdotes about
the dishes and their inventors, from Clovis to Louis
Quatorze. He knew the favourite meats of many illus-
trious personages, and told his stories about them with an
admirable blending of seriousness and levity.

There are excellent people, Arthur, who will call you
sensualist, for all this. Good souls, who cat like Cos-
sacks, and drink like camels in the desert, before whose
masticatory powers joints become beautifully less in
shortest space of time; and who, while devouring in
greedy silence, think nothing too severe to say of him who,
with more cultivated palate and discriminating taste, eats
sparingly, but choicely, making the nourishment of his
body the nutriment of his mind ; and while he supports
nature, can stimulate his imagination, and invigorate his
understanding. The worthy votaries of boiled mutton
and turnips ! of ribs and roasts, believe themselves t«s&»


perate and modei'ate eaters, while consuming at a meal
the provender sufficient for a family ; and when, after an
hour's steady performance, they sit, with hurried breath-
iutr, and half-closed eyelids, sullen, stupid, and stertorous ;
drowsy and dull ; saturated with stout, and stuffed with
Stilton, they growl out a thanksgiving that they are not
like other men — epicures and wine-bibbers. Out upon
them, I say ! Let me have my light meal — be its limits
a cress, and the beverage that ripples from the rock beside
mc — but be it such that, while eating, there is no trans-
fusion of the beast devoured, into the man, nor, when
eaten, the semi-apoplectic stupor of a gorged boa !

Sir Harry did the honours of the table, and sustained
the burden of the conversation, to which Grotty contri-
buted but little, the young man and myself being merely
non-effectives ; nor did we separate until the gar^on came
to warn us that the Saal was about to close for the night.



IToTHrNG is more difitinct than the two classes of people
■who are to be met with in the morning and the afternoon
saunteriug along the alUes of a German watering-place.
The former are the invalid portion, poured Ibrth in
numbers from hotel and lodging-house, attired in every
absurdity of dressing-room toiletfe, with woollen niglit-
caps and flannel jackets, old-fashioned douillettes and
morocco slippers, they glide along, glass in hand, to some
sulphur spring, or to repose for an hour or two in the
delights of a "mud bath." For the most, they aie the
old and the feeble, pale of face and tottering in step.
The pursuit of health with them would seem a vain and
fruitless effort; the machine appears to have run its
destined time, and all the skill of man is unavailing to


repair it. Still hope survives, when strength and youth havo
failed, and the very grouping together in their gathering
places has its consolation ; while the endless diversity of
malady gives an interest in the eye of a sick man.

This may seem strange, but it is, nevertheless, perfectly
true ; there is something which predisposes an invalid to
all narratives of illness ; they are the topics he dwells on
with most pleasure, and discourses about with most
eagerness. The anxiety for the "gentleman next door"
is neither philanthropy, nor is it common curiosity. No,
it is perfectly distinct from either ; it is the deep interest
in the course of symptoms, in the ups and downs of
chance. It is compounded of the feelings which animate
the physician, and those which fill the invalid. And
hence we see that the severest sufferings of their neigh-
bours make less impression on the minds of such people
than on those in full health. It is not from apathy nor
selfishness they are seemingly indiSerent, but simply
because they regard the question in a different light ; to
take an illustration from the gaming-table, they have too
deep an interest in the game itself to feel greatly for the-
players. The visit of the doctor is, to them, the brightest
moment of the day. Not only the messenger of good
tidings to the patient, he has a thousand little bits of
sick-room gossip, harmless, pointless trifles, but all fraught
with their own charm to the greedy ear of the sick man.
It is so pleasant to know how Mrs. W. bore her drive, or
Sir Artlnu' liked his jelly, what Mrs. T. said when they
ordered her to be bled, and whether dear Mr. H. would
consent to the blister. And with what consummate tact
your " Watering-place Doctor " doles out the infinitesimal
doses of his morning's intelligence; how different his
visit from the hurried flight of a West-end practitioner,
who, while he holds his watch in hand, counts the minutes
of his stay while he feels your pulse, and whose descent
down stairs is watched by a cordon of the household,
catching his directions as he goes, and learning his opinion
as he springs into his chariot. Your Spa doctor has a
very different mission ; his are no heroic remedies, which,
taken to-day, are to cure to-morrow ; Ms character is tried
by no subtle test of immediate success. His patients


388 THE ADVENTurEg OF AUTnuR o'leary.

come for a term, or, to use the proper phrase, for "a
course of the waters." Then they are condemned to
chalybcatcs for a quarter of the year, so many glasses per
diem. With their health, properly speaking, he has no
concern ; his function is merely an inspection that the
individual drinks his fluid regularly, and takes his mud
like a num. The patient is invoiced to him, with a bill of
lading from Bell or Brodie ; he has full information of the
Tucrehandise transmitted, and the mode in which the con-
signee desires it may be treated ; out of this ritual he
must not move. The great physician of the West-end
says, " Bathe and drink," and his charge iVaffaires at
Wiesbaden takes care to see his orders obeyed. As well
might a format at Brest or Toulon hope to escape the
punishment described in the catalogue of prisoners, as for
a patient to run counter to the remedies thus arranged,
and communicated by post. Occasionally changes will
take place in a sick man's condition eii route, which alter
the applicability of his treatment ; but, then, what would
you have ? Brodie and Chambers are not prophets !
divination and augury are not taught in the London and
^Middlesex Hospitals !

I remember, myself, a marquis of gigantic proportions,
who had kept his prescription by him from the time of his
being a stripling, till he weighed twenty stone. The fault
here lay not with the doctor. The bath he was to take
contained some powerful ingredient, a preparation of iron,
I believe ; well, he got into it, and immediately began
swelling and swelling out, till, big as ho was before, he
was now twice the size, and at last, like an overheated
boiler, threatened to explode with a crash. What was
to be done ? To lift him was out of the question, he
fitted the bath like a periwinkle in its shell ; and, in this
dilemma, no other . ,-ui'se was open than to decant him,
water and all, which was performed, to the very consider-
able mirth of the bystandei's.

The doctor, then, it will be seen, moves in a very narrow
orbit. He must manage to sustain his reputation without
the aid of the Pharmacopoeia, and continue to be imposing
without any assistance irom the dead languages. Hard
tundition.s 1 but he yields to them, like a man of nerve.


He begins, then, by extolling the virtues of the waters,
which, by analysis of " his own making," and set forth
in a little volume ])ublished by himself, contain very dif-
ferent properties from those ascribed to them by others
He explains most clearly to his non-chemical listener,
how " pure silica found in combination with oxide ot
iron, at a temperature of thirty-nine and a half of Fah-
renheit," must necessarily produce the most beneficial
effects on the knee-joint; and describes, with all the
ardour of science the infinite satisfaction the nerves must
experience when invigorated by " free carbonic gas,"
sporting about in the system. Day by day he indoc-
trinates the patient into some stray medical notion,
giving him an interest in his own anatomy, and putting
him on terms of familiar acquaintance with the formation
of his heart, or his stomach. This flatters the sick man,
and, better still, it occupies his attention. He himself
thus becomes a " particeps " in the first degree to his own
recovery, and the simplicity of treatment, which had at
first no attractions for his mind, is now complicated with
so many little curious facts about the " blood " and the
*' nerves," " mucous membranes," and " muscles," as fully
to compensate for any lack of mystery, and is, in truth,
just as unintelligible as the most involved inconsistency
of any written prescription. Besides this, he has another
object which demands his attention. Plain, common-
sense people, who know nothing of physic or its mys-
teries, might fall into the fatal error of supposing that
the wells so universally employed by the people of the
country for all purposes of washing, bathing, and cooking,
however impregnated by mineral properties, were still by
no means so, in proportions of great power and efficacy,
capable of effecting either very decided results, curative
or noxious. The doctor must set his heel on this heresy
at once ; he must be able to show how a sip too much,
or a half-glass too many, can produce the gravest con-
sequences ; and no summer must pass over without at
least one death being attributed to the inconsiderate rash-
ness of some insensate drinker. Woe unto him then who
drinks without a doctor; you might as well, in an access
of intense thirst, rush into the first apothecary's shop,

7 '*


and take a strong pull at one of the vicious little phials'
that fill the shelves, ignorant whether it might not be-
aquafortis or Prussia acid.

Armed, tlioii, with all the terrors of his favourite Spa*
— rich in a following which is as much partisan as patienfr
• — he has an admirable life of it. The severe and trying:
tases of illness that come under the notice of other ^jhy-
ticians fall not to his share. The very journey to the
waters is a trial of strength which guards against this.
His disciples are the dyspeptic diners out, in the great
K'orlds of London, Paris, or Vienna; the nervous and

Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe adventures of Arthur O'Leary → online text (page 30 of 40)