The Book of Anecdotes and Budget of Fun Part 8
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MY DEAR MR. BULL,--Having often heard travelers lament not having put down what they call _memorybillious_ of their journies, I was determined while I was on my _tower_, to keep a _dairy_ (so called from containing the cream of one's information), and record everything which recurred to me--therefore I begin with my departure from London.
Resolving to take time by the _firelock_, we left Montague Place at 7 o'clock by Mr. Fulmer's pocket thermometer, and proceeded over Westminister Bridge to _explode_ the European Continent. I never pa.s.s Whitehall without dropping a tear to the memory of Charles the Second, who was decimated, after the rebellion of 1745, opposite the Horse Guards--his memorable speech to Archbishop Caxon rings in my ears whenever I pa.s.s the spot. I reverted my head and affected to look to see what o'clock it was by the dial, on the opposite side of the way. It is quite impossible not to notice the improvements in this part of the town, the beautiful view which one gets of Westminster Hall and its curious roof, after which, as everybody knows, its builder was called William Roofus.
Amongst the lighter specimens of modern architecture is Ashley's _ampletheatre_, on your right, as you cross the bridge (which was built, Mr. Fulmer informed me, by the Court of Arches and House of Peers). In this ampletheatre there are Equestrian performances, so called because they are exhibited _nightly_ during the season.
The toll at the Marsh Gate is _ris_ since we last came through--it was here we were to have taken up Lavinia's friend, Mr. Smith, who has promised to go with us to Dover--but we found his servant instead of himself with a _billy_, to say he was sorry he could not come, because his friend, Sir John Somebody, wished him to stay and go down to _Poll_ at Lincoln. I have no doubt that this _Poll_, whoever she may be, is a very respectable young woman, but mentioning her by her Christian name only in so abrupt a manner had a very unpleasant appearance at any rate.
Nothing remarkable occurred till we reached the _Obstacle_ in St.
George's Fields, where our attention was arrested by those great Inst.i.tutions--the school for the _Indignant_ Blind, and the _Misanthropic_ Society for making shoes, both of which claim the grat.i.tude of the nation. At the bottom of the lane, leading to Peckham, I saw that they had removed the _Dollygraph_ which used to stand upon the declivity to the right of the road--the Dollygraphs are all to be superseded by _Serampores_.
When we came to the Green Man at Blackheath, we had an opportunity of noticing the errors of former travellers, for the heath is green and the man is black. Mr. Fulmer endeavoured to account for this, by saying, that Mr. Colman has discovered that Moors being black, and heaths being a kind of moor, he looks upon the confusion of words as the cause of the mistake. N. B.--Mr. Colman is the _itinerary_ surgeon, who constantly resides at St. Pancras. As we went near Woolwich, we saw at a distance the Artillery Officers on a common, a firing away in mortars like anything. At Dartford they make gunpowder--here we changed horses. At the inn we saw a most beautiful _Roderick Random_ in a pot covered with flowers--it is the finest I ever saw, except those at Dropmore. When we got to Rochester, we went to the Crown Inn and had a cold _collection_--the charge was _absorbant_. I had often heard my poor dear husband talk of the influence of the Crown, and the Bill of _Wrights_, but I had no idea what it really meant, till we had to pay one.
As we pa.s.sed near Chatham, I saw several _Pitts_, and Mr. Fulmer shewed me a great many buildings--I believe he said they were _fortyfications_, but I think there must have been fifty of them; he also showed me the Lines at Chatham, which I saw quite distinctly, with the clothes drying on them. Rochester was remarkable in King Charles's time, for being a very witty and dissolute place, as I have read in books.
At Canterbury, we stopped ten minutes to visit all the remarkable buildings and curiosities in it, and about its neighborhood; the church is most beautiful. When Oliver Cromwell conquered William the Third, he _perverted_ it into a stable--the stalls are now standing. The old _Virgin_, who shewed us the church, wore buckskin _breaches and powder_--he said it was an archypiscopal sea--but I saw no sea, nor do I think it possible he could see it either, for it is at least seventeen miles off. We saw Mr. Thomas a Beckett's tomb--my poor husband was extremely intimate with the old gentleman, and one of his nephews, a very nice young man, who lives near Golden Square, dined with us twice, I think, in London. In Trinity Chapel is the monument of Eau de Cologne, just as it is now exhibiting at the _Diarrhoea_ in the Regent's Park.
It was late when we got to Dover. We walked about while our dinner was preparing, looking forward to our snug tete-a-tete of three. We went to look at the sea--so called, perhaps, from the uninterrupted view one has when upon it. It was very curious to see the locks to keep the water here, and the _keys_ which are on each side of them, all ready, I suppose, to open them if they are wanted. We were awake with the owl next morning, and a walking away before eight, we went to see the castle,--which was built, the man told us, by Seizer, so called, I conclude, from seizing everything he could lay his hands upon. The man said moreover that he had invaded Britain and conquered it, upon which I told him, that if he repeated such a thing in my presence again, I should write to the Government about him. We saw the inn where Alexander the _Autograph_ of all the Russians lived when he was here--and as we were going along, we met twenty or thirty dragons mounted on horses, and the ensign who commanded them was a friend of Mr. Fulmer's--he looked at Lavinia and seemed pleased with her _Tooting a.s.sembly_--he was quite a "sine qua non" of a man, and wore tips on his lips, like Lady Hopkins'
poodle. I heard Mr. Fulmer say he was a son of _Marrs_; he spoke as if everybody knew his father, so I suppose he must be the son of the poor gentleman who was so barbarously murdered some years ago, near Ratcliff Highway--if he is, he is uncommon genteel. At 12 o'clock we got into a boat and rowed to the packet; it was a very fine and clear day for the season, and Mr. Fulmer said he should not dislike pulling Lavinia about all the morning--this, I believe, was a _naughty-call_ phrase--which I did not rightly comprehend, because Mr. F. never offered to talk in that way on sh.o.r.e to either of us. The packet is not a _parcel_, as I imagined, in which we were to be made up for exportation, but a boat of very considerable size; it is called a cutter--why I do not know, and did not like to ask. It was very curious to see how it rolled about--however I felt quite mal-a-propos--and instead of exciting any of the soft sensibility of the other s.e.x, a great unruly man, who held the handle of the s.h.i.+p, bid me lay hold of a companion, and when I sought his arm for protection, he introduced me to a ladder, down which I _ascended_ into the cabin, one of the most curious places I ever beheld--where ladies and gentlemen are put upon shelves like books in a library, and where tall men are doubled up like bootjacks, before they can be put away at all. A gentleman in a heavy cap without his coat laid me perpendicular on a mattra.s.s, with a basin by my side, and said that was my birth. I thought it would have been my death, for I never was so ill-disposed in all my life. I behaved extremely ill to a very amiable middle-aged gentleman, who had the misfortune to be attending on his wife, in a little bed under me. There was no _symphony_ to be found among the tars (so called from their smell), for just before we went off I heard them throw a painter overboard, and directly after they called out to one another to hoist up the ensign. I was too ill to inquire what the poor young gentleman had done; but after I came up stairs, I did not see his body hanging anywhere, so I conclude they cut him down--I hope it was not young Mr. Marr, a venturing after my Lavy. I was quite shocked to find what democrats the sailors are--they seem to hate the n.o.bility--especially the law lords. The way I discovered this _apathy_ of theirs to the n.o.bility, was this--the very moment we lost sight of England and were close to France, they began, one and all, to swear first at the Peer, and then at the Bar, in such gross terms as made my very blood run cold. I was quite pleased to see Lavinia sitting with Mr.
Fulmer in the traveling carriage on the outside of the packet; but Lavinia afforded great proofs of her good bringing up, by commanding her feelings. It is curious what could have agitated the _billy ducks_ of my stomach, because I took every precaution which is recommended in different books to prevent ill-disposition. I had some mutton chops at breakfast, some Scotch marmalade on bread and b.u.t.ter, two eggs, two cups of coffee, and three of tea, besides toast, a little fried whiting, some potted char, and a few shrimps, and after breakfast I took a gla.s.s of warm white wine negus and a few oysters, which lasted me till we got into the boat, where I began eating gingerbread nuts all the way to the packet, and there was persuaded to take a gla.s.s of bottled porter to keep everything snug and comfortable.
Yours truly, DOROTHEA JULIA RAMSBOTTOM.
[*] This jeu d'esprit is attributed to Theodore Hook.
SOME one asked a lad how it was he was so short for his age? He replied, "Father keeps me so busy I haint time to grow."
THE English are a calm, reflecting people; they will give time and money when they are convinced; but they love dates, names, and certificates.
In the midst of the most heart-rending narratives, Bull requires the day of the month, the year of our Lord, the name of the parish, and the countersign of three or four respectable householders. After these affecting circ.u.mstances, he can no longer hold out; but gives way to the kindness of his nature--puffs, blubbers, and subscribes!--_Sydney Smith._
IN some of our towns we don't allow smokin' in the streets, though most of them we do, and where it is agin law, it is two dollars fine in a gineral way. Well, Sa.s.sy went down to Boston, to do a little ch.o.r.e of business there, where this law was, only he didn't know it. So, soon as he gets off the coach, he outs with his case, takes a cigar, lights it, and walks on, smoking like a furnace flue. No sooner said than done. Up steps a constable and says, "I'll trouble you for two dollars for smokin' agin law, in the streets." Sa.s.sy was as quick as wink on him.
"Smokin'!" says he; "I warn't a smokin'." "O, my!" says constable, "how you talk, man! I won't say you lie, 'cause it aint polite, but it's very like the way I talk when I fib. Didn't I see you with my own eyes?"
"No," says Sa.s.sy, "you didn't. It don't do always to believe your own eyes, they can't be depended on more than other people's. I never trust mine, I can a.s.sure you. I own I had a cigar in my mouth, but it was because I liked the flavor of tobacco, but not to smoke. I take it don't convene with the dignity of a free and enlightened citizen of our almighty nation, to break the law, seein' that he makes the law himself, and is his own sovereign, and his own subject, too. No, I warn't smokin', and if you don't believe me, try this cigar yourself, and see if it aint so. It han't got no fire in it." Well, constable takes the cigar, puts it into his mug, and draws away at it, and out comes the smoke like anythin'. "I'll trouble _you_ for two dollars, Mr. High Sheriff's representative," says Sa.s.sy, "for smokin' in the streets; do you underconstand, my old c.o.o.n?" Well, constable was taken all aback; he was finely bit. "Stranger," says he, "where was you raised?" "To Canady line," says Sa.s.sy. "Well," says he, "you're a credit to your broughtens up. We'll let the fine drop, for we are about even, I guess. Let's liquor," and he took him into a bar and treated him to a mint julep. It was generally considered a great bite, that, and I must say, I don't think it was bad--do you?--_Sam Slick._
THEODORE HOOK, when surprised, one evening, in his arm-chair, two or three hours after dinner, is reported to have apologised, by saying: "When one is alone, the bottle _does_ come round so often." It was Sir Hercules Langrishe, who, being asked, on a similar occasion, "Have you finished all that port (three bottles) without a.s.sistance?" answered, "No, not quite that; I had the a.s.sistance of a bottle of Madeira."
WHEN Horne Tooke was at school, the boys asked him "what his father was?" Tooke answered, "A Turkey merchant." (He was a poulterer.)
He once said to his brother, a pompous man, "You and I have reversed the natural course of things; you have risen by your gravity; I have sunk by my levity."
To Judge Ashhurst's remark, that the law was open to all, both to the rich and to the poor, Tooke replied, "So is the London tavern."
He said that Hume wrote his history, as witches say their prayers--backwards.
LAMB AND ERSKINE.
COUNSELLOR Lamb, an old man when Lord Erskine was in the height of his reputation, was of timid manners and nervous disposition, usually prefacing his pleadings with an apology to that effect; and on one occasion, when opposed, in some cause, to Erskine, he happened to remark that "he felt himself growing more and more timid as he grew older." "No wonder," replied the witty, but relentless barrister; "every one knows the older a _lamb_ grows, the more _sheepish_ he becomes."
THE TRUTH TOLD BY MISTAKE.
I SHALL not easily forget the sarcasm of Swift's simile as he told us of the Prince of Orange's harangue to the mob of Portsmouth:--"We are come," said he, "for your good--for _all_ your _goods_." "A universal principle," added Swift, "of all governments; but, like most other truths, only told by mistake."--_Ethel Churchill._
TALLEYRAND being asked, if a certain auth.o.r.ess, whom he had long since known, but who belonged rather to the last age, was not "a little tiresome?" "Not at all," said he, "she was perfectly tiresome."
A gentleman in company was one day making a somewhat zealous eulogy of his mother's beauty, dwelling upon the topic at uncalled for length--he himself having certainly inherited no portion of that kind under the marriage of his parents. "It was your father, then, apparently, who may not have been very well favoured," was Talleyrand's remark, which at once released the circle from the subject.
The Book of Anecdotes and Budget of Fun Part 8
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