William Makepeace Thackeray.

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kindly observation may he enjoy, wh^n he is allowed to
be familiar with the whole charming race, and behold the
brightness of all their different eyes, and listen to the
sweet music of their various voices !



IN possession of the right and privilege of garrulity
which is accorded to old age, I cannot allow that a single
side of paper should contain all that I have to say in
respect to the manifold advantages of being a Fogy. I
am a Fogy, and have been a young man. I see twenty
women in the world constantly to whom I would like to
have given a lock of my hair in days when my pate
boasted of that ornament ; for whom my heart felt
tumultuous emotions, before the victorious and beloved
Mrs. Pacifico subjugated it. If I had any feelings now,
Mrs. P. would order them and me to be quiet ; but I
have none ; I am tranquil yes, really tranquil (though
as my dear Leonora is sitting opposite to me at this
minute, and has an askance glance from her novel to my
paper as I write even if I were not tranquil, I should
say that I was ; but I am quite) : I have passed the hot
stage : and I do not know a pleasanter and calmer
feeling of mind than that of a respectable person of the
middle age, who can still be heartily and generously fond
of all the women about whom he was in a passion and a
fever in early life. If you cease liking a woman when
you cease loving her, depend on it that one of you is a
bad one. You are parted, never mind with what pangs
on either side, or by what circumstances of fate, choice,
or necessity you have no money or she has too much,
or she likes somebody else better, and so forth ; but an
honest Fogy should always, unless reason be given to the
contrary, think well of the woman whom he has once
thought well of, and remember her with kindness and
tenderness, as a man remembers a place where he has
been very happy.

A proper management of his recollections thus


constitutes a very great item in the happiness of a Fogy.

I, for my part, would rather remember , and ,

and (I dare not mention names, for isn't my

Leonora pretending to read ' The Initials,' and peeping
over my shoulder ?), than be in love over again. It is
because I have suffered prodigiously from that passion
that I am interested in beholding others undergoing the
malady. I watch it in all ballrooms (over my cards,
where I and the old ones sit) and dinner-parties. With-
out sentiment, there would be no flavour in life at all.
I like to watch young folks who are fond of each other,
be it the housemaid furtively engaged smiling and
glancing with John through the area railings; be it
Miss and the Captain whispering in the embrasure of
the drawing-room window Amant is interesting to
me because of Amavi of course it is Mrs. Pacifico I

All Fogies of good breeding and kind condition of
mind, who go about in the world much, should remember
to efface themselves if I may use a French phrase
they should not, that is to say, thrust in their old mugs
on all occasions. When the people are marching out to
dinner, for instance, and the Captain is sidling up to
Miss, Fogy, because he is twenty years older than the
Captain, should not push himself forward to arrest that
young fellow, and carry off the disappointed girl on his
superannuated rheumatic old elbow. When there is
anything of this sort going on (and a man of the world
has possession of the carte du pays with half an eye), I
become interested in a picture, or have something
particular to say to pretty Polly the parrot, or to
little Tommy, who is not coming in to dinner, and
while I am talking to him, Miss and the Captain make
their little arrangement. In this way I managed only last
week to let young Billington and the lovely Blanche
Pouter get together ; and walked downstairs with my
hat for the only partner of my arm. Augustus


Toplady now, because he was a Captain of Dragoons
almost before Billington was born, would have insisted
upon his right of precedence over Billington, who only
got his troop the other day.

Precedence ! Fiddlestick ! Men squabble about
precedence because they are doubtful about their con-
dition, as Irishmen will insist upon it that you are
determined to insult and trample upon their beautiful
country, whether you are thinking about it or no ; men
young to the world mistrust the bearing of others
towards them, because they mistrust themselves. I
have seen many sneaks and much cringing of course in
the world ; but the fault of gentlefolk is generally the
contrary an absurd doubt of the intentions of others
towards us, and a perpetual assertion of our twopenny
dignity, which nobody is thinking of wounding.

As a young man, if the lord I knew did not happen
to notice me, the next time I met him I used to envelop
myself in my dignity, and treat his Lordship with such
a tremendous hauteur and killing coolness of demeanour,
that you might have fancied I was an Earl at least, and
he a menial upon whom I trampled. Whereas he was
a simple good-natured creature who had no idea of in-
sulting or slighting me, and, indeed, scarcely any idea
about any subject, except racing and shooting. Young
men have this uneasiness in society, because they are
thinking about themselves : Fogies are happy and
tranquil, because they are taking advantage of, and
enjoying, without suspicion, the good-nature and good
offices of other well-bred people.

Have you not often wished for yourself, or some other
dear friend, ten thousand a year ? It is natural that you
should like such a good thing as ten thousand a year ;
and all the pleasures and comforts which it brings. So
also it is natural that a man should like the society of
people well-to-do in the world ; who make their houses
pleasant, who gather pleasant persons about them, who


have fine pictures on their walls, pleasant books in their
libraries, pleasant parks and town and country houses,
good cooks and good cellars ; if I were coming to dine
with you, I would rather have a good dinner than a bad
one ; if So-and-so is as good as you and possesses these
things, he, in so far, is better than you who do not
possess them : therefore I had rather go to his house in
Belgravia than to your lodgings in Kentish Town.
That is the rationale of living in good company. An
absurd, conceited, high-and-mighty young man hangs
back, at once insolent and bashful ; an honest, simple,
quiet, easy, clear-sighted Fogy steps in and takes the
goods which the gods provide, without elation as with-
out squeamishness.

It is only a few men who attain simplicity in early
life. This man has his conceited self-importance to be
cured of; that has his conceited bashfulness to be ' taken
out of him,' as the phrase is. You have a disquiet which
you try to hide, and you put on a haughty guarded
manner. You are suspicious of the good-will of the
company round about you, or of the estimation in which
they hold you. You sit mum at table. It is not your
place to * put yourself forward.' You are thinking about
yourself, that is ; you are suspicious about that personage
and everybody else : that is, you are not frank ; that is,
you are not well bred ; that is, you are not agreeable.
I would instance my young friend Mumford as a painful
example one of the wittiest, cheeriest, cleverest, and
most honest of fellows in his own circle : but having
the honour to dine the other day at Mr. Hobanob's,
where his Excellency the Crimean Minister and several
gentlemen of humour and wit were assembled, Mumford
did not open his mouth once for the purposes of conversa-
tion, but sat and ate his dinner as silently as a brother of
La Trappe.

He was thinking with too much distrust of himself
(and of others by consequence), as Toplady was thinking


of himself in the little affair in Hyde Park to which I
have alluded in the former chapter. When Mumford is
an honest Fogy, like some folks, he will neither distrust
his host, nor his company, nor himself; he will make
the best of the hour and the people round about him ;
he will scorn tumbling over head and heels for his
dinner, but he will take and give his part of the good
things, join in the talk and laugh unaffectedly, nay,
actually tumble over head and heels, perhaps, if he has
the talent that way ; not from a wish to show off his
powers, but from a sheer good-humour and desire to
oblige. Whether as guest or as entertainer, your part
and business in society is to make people as happy and as
easy as you can ; the master gives you his best wine and
welcome you give, in your turn, a smiling face, a dis-
position to be pleased and to please ; and my good
young friend who read this, don't doubt about yourself,
or think about your precious person. When you have
got on your best coat and waistcoat, and have your
dandy shirt and tie arranged consider these as so
many settled things, and go forward and through your

That is why people in what is called the great world
are commonly better bred than persons less fortunate in
their condition : not that they are better in reality, but
from circumstances they are never uneasy about their
position in the world : therefore they are more honest
and simple : therefore they are better bred than Growler
who scowls at the great man a defiance and a determina-
tion that he will not be trampled upon : or poor Fawner,
who goes quivering down on his knees, and licks my
Lord's shoes. But I think in our world at least in
my experience there are even more Growlers than

It will be seen by the above remark, that a desire to
shine or to occupy a marked place in society does not
constitute my idea of happiness, or become the character


of a discreet Fogy. Time, which has dimmed the lustre
of his waistcoats, allayed the violence of his feelings,
and sobered down his head with grey, should give to the
whole of his life a quiet neutral tinge ; out of which
calm and reposeful condition an honest old Fogy looks
on the world, and the struggle there of women and men.
I doubt whether this is not better than struggling your-
self, for you preserve your interest and do not lose your
temper. Succeeding ? What is the great use of
succeeding ? Failing ? Where is the great harm ? It
seems to you a matter of vast interest at one time of
your life whether you shall be a lieutenant or a colonel
whether you shall or shall not be invited to the Duchess's
party whether you shall get the place you and a
hundred other competitors are trying for whether Miss
will have you or not : what the deuce does it all matter
a few years afterwards ? Do you, Jones, mean to
intimate a desire that History should occupy herself with
your paltry personality ? The Future does not care
whether you were a captain or a private soldier. You
get a card to the Duchess's party : it is no more or less
than a ball, or a breakfast, like other balls or breakfasts.
You are half-distracted because Miss won't have you and
takes the other fellow, or you get her (as I did Mrs.
Pacifico) and find that she is quite a different thing from
what you expected. Psha ! These things appear as
nought when Time passes Time the consoler Time
the anodyne Time the grey calm satirist, whose sad
smile seems to say, Look, O man, at the vanity of the
objects you pursue, and of yourself who pursue them !

But on the one hand, if there is an alloy in all success,
is there not a something wholesome in all disappoint-
ment ? To endeavour to regard them both benevolently,
is the task of a philosopher ; and he who can do so is a
very lucky Fogy.


SOME time ago I had the fortune to witness at the house
of Erminia's brother a rather pretty and affecting scene :
whereupon, as my custom is, I would like to make a few
moral remarks. I must premise that I knew Erminia's
family long before the young lady was born. Victorina
her mother, Boa her aunt, Chinchilla her grandmother
I have been intimate with every one of these ladies :
and at the table of Sabilla, her married sister, with
whom Erminia lives, have a cover laid for me whenever
I choose to ask for it.

Everybody who has once seen Erminia remembers
her. Fate is beneficent to a man before whose eyes
at the parks, or churches, or theatres, or public or
private assemblies it throws Erminia. To see her face
is a personal kindness for which one ought to be thank-
ful to Fortune : who might have shown you Caprella,
with her whiskers, or Felissa, with her savage eyes,
instead of the calm and graceful, the tender and
beautiful Erminia. When she comes into the room,
it is like a beautiful air of Mozart breaking upon you :
when she passes through a ballroom, everybody turns
and asks who is that Princess, that fairy lady ? Even
the women, especially those who are the most beautiful
themselves, admire her. By one of those kind freaks
of favouritism which Nature takes, she has endowed
this young lady with almost every kind of perfection :
has given her a charming face, a perfect form, a pure
heart, a fine perception and wit, a pretty sense of
humour, a laugh and a voice that are as sweet as music
to hear, for innocence and tenderness ring in every
accent, and a grace of movement which is a curiosity to



watch, for in every attitude of motion or repose her form
moves or settles into beauty, so that a perpetual grace
accompanies her. I have before said that I am an old
Fogy. On the day when I leave off admiring, I hope
I shall die. To see Erminia is not to fall in love with
her : there are some women too handsome, as it were,
for that : and I would as soon think of making myself
miserable because I could not marry the moon, and
make the silver-bowed Goddess Diana Mrs. Pacifico, as
I should think of having any personal aspirations
towards Miss Erminia.

Well then, it happened the other day that this almost
peerless creature, on a visit to the country, met that
great poet, Timotheus, whose habitation is not far from
the country house of Erminia's friend, and who, upon
seeing the young lady, felt for her that admiration
which every man of taste experiences upon beholding
her, and which, if Mrs. Timotheus had not been an
exceedingly sensible person, would have caused a jealousy
between her and the great bard her husband. But, charm-
ing and beautiful herself, Mrs. Timotheus can even
pardon another woman for being so ; nay, with perfect
good sense, though possibly with a little factitious
enthusiasm, she professes to share to its fullest extent
the admiration of the illustrious Timotheus for the
young beauty.

After having made himself well acquainted with
Erminia's perfections, the famous votary of Apollo and
leader of the tuneful choir did what might be expected
from such a poet under such circumstances, and began
to sing. This is the way in which Nature has provided
that poets should express their emotions. When they
see a beautiful creature they straightway fall to work
with their ten syllables and eight syllables, with duty
rhyming to beauty, vernal to eternal, riddle to fiddle, or
what you please, and turn out to the best of their ability,
and with great pains and neatness on their own part, a


copy of verses in praise of the adorable object. I myself
may have a doubt about the genuineness of the article
produced, or of the passion which vents itself in this
way, for how can a man who has to assort carefully his
tens and eights, to make his epithets neat and melodious,
to hunt here and there for rhymes, and to bite the tip of
his pen, or pace the gravel walk in front of his house
searching for ideas I doubt, I say, how a man who
must go through the above process before turning out
a decent set of verses, can be actuated by such strong
feelings as you and I, when, in the days of our youth,
with no particular preparation, but with our hearts full
of manly ardour, and tender and respectful admiration,
we went to the Saccharissa for the time being, and
poured out our souls at her feet. That sort of eloquence
comes spontaneously ; that poetry doesn't require rhyme-
jingling and metre-sorting, but rolls out of you you don't
know how, as much, perhaps, to your own surprise as to
that of the beloved object whom you address. In my
time, I know, whenever I began to make verses about a
woman, it was when my heart was no longer very
violently smitten about her, and the verses were a sort of
mental dram and artificial stimulus with which a man
worked himself up to represent enthusiasm and perform
passion. Well, well ; I see what you mean ; I am
jealous of him. Timotheus's verses were beautiful,
that's the fact confound him ! and I wish I could
write as well, or half as well indeed, or do anything to
give Erminia pleasure. Like an honest man and faithful
servant, he went and made the best thing he could, and
laid this offering at Beauty's feet. What can a gentle-
man do more ? My dear Mrs. Pacifico here remarks
that I never made her a copy of verses. Of course not,
my love. I am not a verse-making man, nor are you
that sort of object that sort of target, I may say at
which, were I a poet, I would choose to discharge those
winged shafts of Apollo.


When Erminia got the verses and read them, she laid
them down, and with one of the prettiest and most
affecting emotions which I ever saw in my life, she
began to cry a little. The verses of course were full of
praises of her beauty. c They all tell me that,' she said ;
4 nobody cares for anything but that,' cried the gentle
and sensitive creature, feeling within that she had a
thousand accomplishments, attractions, charms, which
her hundred thousand lovers would not see, whilst they
were admiring her mere outward figure and head-piece.

I once heard of another lady, ' de par le monde,' as
honest Des Bourdeilles says, who after looking at her
plain face in the glass, said, beautifully and pathetically,
' I am sure I should have made a good wife to any man,
if he could but have got over my face ! ' and bewailing
her maidenhood in this touching and artless manner,
saying that she had a heart full of love, if anybody would
accept it, full of faith and devotion, could she but find
some man on whom to bestow it, she but echoed the
sentiment which I have mentioned above, and which
caused in the pride of her beauty the melancholy of the
lonely and victorious beauty. ' We are full of love and
kindness, ye men!' each says; 'of truth and purity.
We don't care about your good looks. Could we but
find the right man, the man who loved us for ourselves,
we would endow him with all the treasures of our hearts,
and devote our lives to make him happy.' I admire and
reverence Erminia's tears, and the simple heart-stricken
plaint of the other forsaken lady. She is Jephthah's
daughter condemned by no fault of her own, but doomed
by Fate to disappear from among women. The other is
a Queen in her splendour to whom all the Lords and
Princes bow down and pay worship. * Ah ! ' says she,
* it is to the Queen you are kneeling, all of you. I am a
woman under this crown and this ermine. I want to
be loved, and not to be worshipped : and to be allowed
to love is given to everybody but me.'


How much finer a woman's nature is than a man's (by
an Ordinance of Nature, for the purpose no doubt
devised), how much purer and less sensual than ours, is
seen in that fact so consoling to misshapen men, to ugly
men, to little men, to giants, to old men, to poor men,
to men scarred with the smallpox, or ever so ungainly
or unfortunate that their ill-looks or mishaps don t
influence women regarding them, and that the
awkwardest fellow has a chance for a prize. Whereas,
when we, brutes that we are, enter a room, we sidle up
naturally towards the prettiest woman : it is the pretty
face and figure which attracts us ; it is not virtue, or
merit, or mental charms, be they ever so great. When
one reads the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast, no one
is at all surprised at Beauty's being moved by Beast's
gallantry, and devotion, and true-heartedness, and
rewarding him with her own love at last. There was
hardly any need to make him a loving young Prince in a
gold dress under his horns and Bearskin. Beast as he
was, but good Beast, loyal Beast, brave, affectionate,
upright, generous, enduring Beast, she would have loved
his ugly mug without any attraction at all. It is her
nature to do so, God bless her ! It was a man made the
story, one of those twopenny-halfpenny men-milliner
moralists, who think that to have a handsome person
and a title are the greatest gifts of fortune, and that a
man is not complete unless he is a lord and has glazed
boots. Or it may have been that the transformation
alluded to did not actually take place, but wasonlyspiritual,
and in beauty's mind, and that, seeing before her loyalty,
bravery, truth, and devotion, they became in her eyes
lovely, and that she hugged her Beast with a perfect
contentment to the end.

When ugly Wilkes said that he was only a quarter of
an hour behind the handsomest man in England ; mean-
ing that the charms of his conversation would make him
in that time at a lady's side as agreeable and fascinating


as a beau, what a compliment he paid the whole sex !
How true it is (not of course applicable to you, my dear
reader and lucky dog who possess both wit and the most
eminent personal attractions, but of the world in general),
ff^e look for beauty : women for Love. So, fair Erminia,
dry your beautiful eyes and submit to your lot, and to
that adulation which all men pay you ; in the midst of
which court of yours the sovereign must perforce be
lonely. That solitude is a condition of your life, my
dear young lady, which many would like to accept, nor
will your dominion last much longer than my Lord
Farncombe's, let us say, at the Mansion House, whom
Time and the inevitable November will depose.
Another potentate will ascend his throne ; the toast-
master will proclaim another name than his, and the cup
will be pledged to another health. As with Xerxes and
all his courtiers and army at the end of a few years, as
with the flowers of the field, as with Lord Farncombe,
so with Erminia : were I Timotheus of the tuneful
quire, I might follow out this simile between Lord
Mayors and Beauties, and with smooth rhymes and
quaint antithesis make a verse-offering to my fair young
lady. But, madam, your faithful Pacifico is not a poet,
only a Proser ; and it is in truth, and not in numbers,
that he admires you.


As he walks the streets of London in this present season,
everybody must have remarked the constant appearance
in all thoroughfares and public places of very many well-
dressed foreigners. With comely beards, variegated


neckcloths, and varnished little boots, with guide books
in their hands, or a shabby guide or conductor accom-
panying a smart little squad of half-a-dozen of them,
these honest Continentals march through the city and
its environs, examine Nelson on his indescribable pillar,
the Duke of York impaled between the Athenaeum and
the United Service Clubs Us docks, le tunnel (monument
du g/nie Fran$ais\ Greenwich avec son pare et ses whites-
battSy les monuments de la cite. Us Squarrs du West End,
&c. The sight of these peaceful invaders is a very
pleasant one. One would like to hear their comments
upon our city and institutions, and to be judged by that
living posterity ; and I have often thought that an
ingenious young Englishman, such as there are many
now amongst us, possessing the two languages perfectly,
would do very well to let his beard grow, and to travel to
Paris, for the purpose of returning thence with a
company of excursionists, who arrive to pass une semaine
a Londres and of chronicling the doings and opinions of
the party. His Excellency the Nepaulese Ambassador,
and Lieutenant Futty Jung, know almost as much about
our country as many of those other foreigners who live
but four hours' distance from us ; and who are trans-
ported to England and back again at the cost of a couple
of hundred francs. They are conducted to our theatres,
courts of justice, Houses of Parliament, churches ; not
understanding, for the most part, one syllable of what

Online LibraryWilliam Makepeace ThackerayComplete works (Volume 22) → online text (page 18 of 31)