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floor. Above these are two or three spacious apartments consecrated to whist. It is not far short-the Poet declares-of a golfer's paradise.
“Billiards and whist,” he said, "are the necessary complements of a golfer's life. Without them the evenings would hang heavy on our hands. We are, of course, especially fortunate in possessing two billiard rooms, one of which is reserved for single play, the other for- "
“Foursomes," put in Hopkins, sardonically.
The Poet smiled, and admitted that they were usually known by that name.
The Essayist was naturally indignant at such an instance of the crime he had just been inveighing against. This was worse, he said, than any corruption he had hitherto dreamed of. He hinted caustically that golfing did not seem to require any large amount of brain-power. Intelligence was even a positive disadvantage to the player, he urged, whose best qualification was a dull insensibility to pleasure or mortification. Exultation over a lucky stroke begot self-confidence and consequent failure ; irritation over misfortune too often presaged a broken club—if nothing worse. Under such circumstances we could hardly expect brilliancy from the golfer, as a class; we were fortunate, he concluded, to obtain as much as common decency.
Hopkins asked the Poet what he thought of the frequenters of this magnificent Home for Incurables-so he was pleased to designate them. The Poet told us a good deal. We heard of the indefatigable secretary, the captain (who had won the last monthly medal with a record scratch score of eighty-one), and numberless other heroes who nightly aired themselves in the club rooms. Their conversation, he admitted, was not particularly intellectual, but what of that? Neque semper arcum tendit Apollo—as the new-fledged M.P. delights to preface his volume of travels, published in the recess. He himself, he assured us, had received much benefit to a mind something overstrained by hard thinking from these uneventful evenings.
The evening closed with a quiet rubber, at the Poet's request, during which he narrated to us the story of the only game he ever played at the club-house. Players were scanty that evening, and he had been politely asked to “make a fourth.” The politeness seemed, according to his account, to have stopped there. The old general with whom he played did not quite appreciate the niceties of our friend's method. It was in vain that the Poet (who is certainly not wanting in resource on an emergency) endeavoured to explain his leads at the end of each game; it was but too evident that his partner had formed a very low estimate of his abilities. An unlucky revoke at a critical moment towards the end of the rubber settled the matter, and a new player happening to come in, the Poet was fain to leave the board. I am afraid he had a poor time that evening.
MORE LEAVES FROM MY DIARY.
DEW men could recall, off-hand, who was the most beautiful woman
T he had ever met in his life, and when or where this meeting was. I can recall some such vision very distinctly, and under circumstances rather bizarre. Once hurrying from some of the “Badens," making for Strasburg, I arrived at the station just as the train was starting. I had only time to jump in, when I found myself in the presence of a sort of golden-haired divinity-a most brilliant being indeed. She had been at the window looking out for something, or somebody, and was now in sad agitation-disappointment or distress. I had time to note the masses of hair of the rare and wonderful “old gold” tint, with a fine, richly coloured Rubens face. Presently, growing tranquil, she unfolded to me that her husband had rushed back to the station to change a ticket, and had been left behind. The train was a fast one, and would not stop for an hour or more. Duly sympathising with this sad state of things, I did my best to console, and suggested topics of comfort—he might be in the train, after all : he had jumped into some last carriage, or, better still (this sotto voce), there would assuredly be a slow train following, by which he would come on. Having settled all these points to our satisfaction, we then got on other and more general topics : when, in the midst of an animated conversation, the train stopped. At the next moment the door was opened, and a hearty, genial, blackbearded man entered joyfully. He had, exactly as I had said, jumped into the last carriage. Before he explained this portion of the adventure, the golden-haired one told him what I had prophesied, so that an impression of respect for my sagacity was left on the pair. For the rest of the day we travelled on most pleasantly : he was a friendly, agreeable man, “something in the city,” and we were altogether certainly an agreeable little party. As the day became excessively sultry, she most naturally took off her hat, and thus found an excuse to display her splendid treasures of golden locks, for the benefit of the stranger. They tumbled down in gorgeous magnificence ; the husband looked on with a sort of pride. “She's not
For the first “ Leaves," see “Gentleman's Magazine " for January, 1892.
badly provided in that way,” he said. By evening we had reached Strasburg. We put up at the same hotel, and dined together, during which time we became what are called “sworn friends.” After dinner we walked about and looked at the town. The pair were now anxious that I should travel with them on the morrow, but alas ! I had to get on to Paris that night. And so, about eleven o'clock, we made our adieus. There were the usual pie-crust promises, and assurances of meeting again. “I must come and see them in town.” Cards were interchanged. The lady arranged or rearranged, for the last time, her golden locks. But “business is business,” and at last I finally took my way to the station. I must conclude as I began-she was really the handsomest woman I have ever seen. But I never saw her again. ...
One of the most charming and original spots in London is the riverside Terrace at the Tower. As we promenade it here, it is delightful to watch the river beside us, the passing steamers, the bustle, the general air and tone of “the Port." It is a curious feeling to sit and look down at the entrance channel below, at the arched "Traitors' Gate," while above rise the “Towers of Julius." It is only recently that this has been opened, or reopened, to the public.
The worthy beefeaters have been shorn of their scarlet glories and appear in a dark undress. A rare entertainment is it to go round with one of these—the honest rustics gaping with delight, and devouring his words of wisdom. I recall a touch of character here that “entertained me mightily." One of these burly veterans, who displayed a huge bushy beard, with many medals, was standing close by when a party of French passed- men and women-and made their way to the Terrace. He called them back in rough tones : at this time it was forbidden. One of the party, a young Frenchman, spoke English fairly, and, in a moment, I noticed them all grouped round the warrior, the young Frenchman speaking deferentially. The beefeater stood in the centre, erect and gruff. I next saw the young man take up the medals that lay on the capacious chest with a sort of delicate reverence, which he exhibited to the Frenchwomen, who showed admiration by various little cries of rapture. The beefeater only half liked it, but he was clearly flattered by the familiarity. He condescended to some short, blunt particulars as to his campaigns, gave the party also some directions as to what they were to see, then strode majestically away, followed by their admiring eyes. Suddenly he stopped and called out abruptly, “And, I say! If ye likes, ye can walk along the Terrace yonder!” The blunt, halfashamed way in which this courtesy was bestowed was delightful.
The French went their way, clearly pleased with their little victory, and the spectator learned a valuable lesson from this trifling incident. Manner will do everything. Give a young fellow, on setting out in life, a good manner, and he will want neither meat, drink, nor clothes. “I like that lad,” you hear some old person say; “he has such nice off-hand manners.” The late Henry Doyle—“Dickey's" brother—got on in the world on the strength of his admirable manner. It is an astonishing, potent gift. So let us all pray for Manner. . . . London is quite as well stored with “curios” as any foreign town, but they are little known. For years I have found delight in exploring and studying not only the material London, but its phases of life. I lament the disappearance of the old tavern life—a link with Johnson and his days. Of a winter's night how often have I sat in one of the mahogany “boxes” of the old “Cock” in Fleet Street, the kettle on the hob, watching the strange solitary characters that came in—old dry solicitors, barristers from the Temple. There were the pipes, and the screw of tobacco, and the excellent chop. After a time you began to feel like one of Dickens's characters. Not long since I took an agreeable lady on a voyage of discovery about London—it was a “personally conducted ” affair—and a pleasant day it was. First we visited the Garrick Club, and its wonderful show of dramatic pictures. Here you require someone to do “showman,” and pick out the best pictures. Next to the older inns, Clifford's, Staple, Barnard's, then to the beautiful Ely Chapel close by, thence to the old Roman Wall, next to Crosby Hall, thence on to the old “ Brewers' Hall” in Addle Street, a truly astonishing place from its fine old oaken chambers, deserted kitchens, &c. I could lay out half a dozen mornings of this pattern, guaranteeing each to be full of entertainment ; for instance, a morning among the old churches—All-Hallows, St. Bartholomew the Great, St. Mary Woolnoth, St. Giles Cripplegate, and many more. A curious hour or two could be spent in the bizarre Soane Museum. . I find in my diary much about the late Cardinal, whom I knew intimately, and who was certainly one of the most interesting of men, with something of fascination about him. We had many a talk, chiefly at the club to which we both belonged. We have so few picturesque figures on our public stage that we can but ill spare any of the list. They can be counted upon the fingers. These are the sympathetic and interesting, who have a charm in their bearing, voice, and utterances ; we look after them in the street; they say a few words to us, which linger in our ears.