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certain great captain does. Besides the above, we sat down to table with Captain Goff, late of the Highlanders; the Rev. Lemuel Whey, who preaches at St. Germains; little Cutler, and the Frenchman, who always will be at English parties on the Continent, and who, after making some frightful efforts to speak English, subsides and is heard of no more. Young married ladies and heads of families generally have him for the purpose of waltzing, and in return he informs his friends of the club or the cafe that he has made the conquest of a charmante Anglaise. Listen to me, all family men who read this! and never let an unmarried Frenchman into your doors. This lecture alone is worth the price of the book. It is not that they do any harm in one case out of a thousand, heaven forbid! but they mean harm. They look on our Susannahs with unholy, dishonest eyes. Hearken to two of the grinning rogues chattering together as they clink over the asphalte of the Boulevard with lacquered boots, and plastered hair, and waxed moustaches, and turned-down shirt-collars, and stays and goggling eyes, and hear how they talk of a good, simple, giddy, vain, dull Baker Street creature, and canvass her points, and show her letters, and insinuate never mind, but I tell you my soul grows angry when I think of the same; and I can't hear of an Englishwoman marrying a Frenchman, without feeling a sort of shame and pity for her.1
To return to the guests. The Rev. Lemuel Whey is a tea-party man, with a curl on his forehead and a
1 Every person who has lived abroad, can, of course, point out a score of honourable exceptions to the case above hinted at, and knows many such unions in which it is the Frenchman who honours the English lady by marrying her. But it must be remembered that marrying in France means commonly fortune-hunting: and as for the respect in which marriage is held in France, let all the French novels in M. Rolandi's library be perused by those who wish to come to a dicision upon the question.
scented pocket-handkerchief. He ties his white neckcloth to a wonder, and I believe sleeps in it. He brings his flute with him; and prefers Handel, of course; but has one or two pet profane songs of the sentimental kind, and will occasionally lift up his little pipe in a glee. He does not dance, but the honest fellow would give the world to do it; and he leaves his clogs in the passage, though it is a wonder he wears them, for in the muddiest weather he never has a speck on his foot. He was at St. John's College, Cambridge, and was rather gay for a term or two, he says. He is, in a word, full of the milk-and-water of human kindness, and his family lives near Hackney.
As for Goff, he has a huge, shining, bald forehead, and immense bristling, Indian-red whiskers. He wears white wash-leather gloves, drinks fairly, likes a rubber, and has a story for after dinner, beginning, "Doctor, ye racklackt Sandy M'Lellan, who joined us in the West Indies. Wal, sir," &c. These and little Cutler made up the party.
Now it may not have struck all readers, but any sharp fellow conversant with writing must have found out long ago, that if there had been something exceedingly interesting to narrate with regard to this dinner at Frank Berry's, I should have come out with it a couple of pages since, nor have kept the public looking for so long a time at the dish-covers and ornaments of the table.
But the simple fact must now be told, that there was nothing of the slightest importance occurred at this repast, except that it gave me an opportunity of studying Mrs. Berry in many different ways; and, in spite of the extreme complaisance which she now showed me, of forming, I am sorry to say, a most unfavourable opinion of that fair lady. Truth to tell, I would much
rather she should have been civil to Mrs. Muchit, than outrageously complimentary to your humble servant; and, as she professed not to know what on earth there was for dinner, would it not have been much more natural for her not to frown, and bob, and wink, and point, and pinch her lips as often as Monsieur Anatole, her French domestic, not knowing the ways of English dinner-tables, placed anything out of its due order? The allusions to Boodle Hall were innumerable, and I don't know any greater bore than to be obliged to talk of a place which belongs to one's elder brother. Many questions were likewise asked about the dowager and her Scotch relatives, the Plumduffs, about whom Lady Pash knew a great deal, having seen them at court and at Lord Melville's. Of course she had seen them at court and at Lord Melville's, as she might have seen thousands of Scotchmen besides; but what mattered it to me, who care not a jot for old Lady Fitz-Boodle? "When you write, you'll say you met an old friend of her ladyship's," says Mrs. Berry, and I faithfully promised I would when I wrote; but if the New Post Office paid us for writing letters (as very possibly it will soon), I could not be bribed to send a line to old Lady Fitz.
In a word I found that Berry, like many simple fellows before him, had made choice of an imperious, ill-humoured, and under-bred female for a wife, and could see with half an eye that he was a great deal too much her slave.
The struggle was not over yet, however. Witness that little encounter before dinner; and once or twice the honest fellow replied rather smartly during the repast, taking especial care to atone as much as possible for his wife's inattention to Jack and Mrs. Muchit, by particular attention to those personages, whom he helped to everything round about and pressed perpetu
ally to champagne; he drank but little himself, for his amiable wife's eye was constantly fixed on him.
Just at the conclusion of the dessert, madame, who had bouded Berry during dinner-time, became particularly gracious to her lord and master, and tenderly asked me if I did not think the French custom was a good one, of men leaving table with the ladies.
"Upon my word, ma'am," says I, "I think it's a most abominable practice."
"And so do I," says Cutler.
"A most abominable practice!
Do you hear that?" cries Berry, laughing, and filling his glass.
"I'm sure, Frank, when we are alone you always come to the drawing-room," replies the lady, sharply.
"Oh, yes! when we're alone, darling," says Berry, blushing; "but now we're not alone-ha, ha! Anatole, du Bordeaux!'
"I'm sure they sat after the ladies at Carlton House; did n't they, Lady Pash?" says Dobus, who likes his glass.
"That they did!" says my lady, giving him a jolly nod.
"I racklackt," exclaims Captain Goff, "when I was in the Mauritius, that Mestress MacWhirter, who commanded the Saxty-Sackond, used to say, 'Mac, if ye want to get lively, ye'll not stop for more than two hours after the leddies have laft ye: if ye want to get drunk, ye 'll just dine at the mass.' So ye see, Mestress Barry, what was Mac's allowance-haw, haw! Mester Whey, I'll trouble ye for the o-lives."
But although we were in a clear majority, that indomitable woman, Mrs. Berry, determined to make us all as uneasy as possible, and would take the votes all round. Poor Jack, of course, sided with her, and Whey said he loved a cup of tea and a little music better than
all the wine of Bordeaux. As for the Frenchman, when Mrs. Berry said, "And what do you think, M. le Vicomte?"
"Vat you speak?" said M. de Blagueval, breaking silence for the first time during two hours; "yaseeh? to me you speak?"
"Apry deeny, aimy-voo ally avec les dam?"
"Comment avec les dames?"
Ally avec les dam com a Parry, ou resty avec les Messew com on Onglyterre?"
"Ah, madame! vous me le demandez?" cries the little wretch, starting up in a theatrical way, and putting out his hand, which Mrs. Berry took, and with this the ladies left the room. Old Lady Pash trotted after her niece with her hand in Whey's, very much wondering at such practices, which were not in the least in vogue in the reign of George III.
Mrs. Berry cast a glance of triumph at her husband, at the defection; and Berry was evidently annoyed that three-eighths of his male forces had left him.
But fancy our delight and astonishment, when in a minute they all three came back again; the Frenchman looking entirely astonished, and the parson and the painter both very queer. The fact is, old downright Lady Pash, who had never been in Paris in her life. before, and had no notion of being deprived of her usual hour's respite and nap, said at once to Mrs. Berry, "My dear Angelica, you're surely not going to keep these three men here? Send them back to the dining-room, for I've a thousand things to say to you." And Angelica, who expects to inherit her aunt's property, of course did as she was bid; on which the old lady fell into an easy chair, and fell asleep immediately, so soon, that is, as the shout caused by the reappearance of the three gentlemen in the dining-room had subsided.