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taste. And many a fair maid among the gathering guests would not be ill pleased were the owner of so much beauty to call her "sister."
Wine is handed round, after each guest has received from the slaves the usual courtesies of water, ointments, lotus-garlands, and sweet nosegays. The wine, and that undressed cabbage in a glass dish, are to stimulate the appetite; and even dainty female lips do not refuse their provocatives.
The banquet passes, while singers trill out their sweet melodies, and buffoons repeat their merry tales and racy jests; while jugglers perform their magic feats, and dancing girls flit like young goddesses about the halls; while mirth and gaiety, love and beauty, enchant the dazzled senses, those grave staid guests carry out their hours. Oh, believe me well, life in Ancient Egypt, despite all the gravity of the nation, was filled with the same passions and allurements as now! We do but change the fashion; the thing remains the same.
And hours pass on, until the near approach of the evening and the latest meal separates the revellers. Some are bound homeward to the still duties of domestic life, in strong contrast to the pleasures tasted now; others to scenes perhaps more free, more burning in their delights than these. Our dandy is one of this class. Another banquet made up as this has been of wine and perfumes and dainty meats, of sweetmeats, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, of music, the dance, and the song, and the jest, and, dearest of all, of women's beauty and of woman's love, succeeds the departure of his guests, and closes the day so deliciously spent. And then our Egyptian commends himself to his gods, to the Ibis and the bull, and the cynocephalus, and the crocodile, and the onion; and once more sleeps beneath the scented linen of the chased bronze bedstead, to rise on the morrow, and pursue the same round of vacant pleasure.
He sleeps. Hush! let the gods of his faith, nay, let the One God of the Universe watch over him; for he is man, therefore equal participator with all men in the love of the Awful Name. Let his sins of frivolity in a life so full of earnest things be pardoned; let him sleep, to waken in another world to a truer knowledge of the value of being. Gently leave his bed. Vain and harmless, a thing of folly not of crime, we may well spare thee, frail son of Khemi! Thou hast nobler brethren-men whose lives are of thought and action-men who know what life demands, and of what awfulness are its requirements-men who have left behind them eternal monuments of their power and majesty ; but even among all this majesty, all this power, we have space in our regard and place in our love for thee! Sleep! sleep! thou art the child of our common Father; and though erring, blind, and wandering now, thou hast long since wakened to the light of truth and to the reality of the hereafter!
* A synonome with wife; perhaps from the early customs of fraternal marriages.
BY DOCTOR DRYASDUST, F.S.A.
It was my fortune a few years ago to be on terms of intimate acquaintance with a French gentleman of high literary attainments and some singularity of character. He had fully developed the first in the arduous prosecution of severe antiquarian studies, the reward for which had at length reached him in the shape of a professorship of languages at one of the royal colleges in the South of France; and whoever was thrown much into contact with him became perfectly satisfied of the existence of the last. Similar pursuits at a former period had led to a regular correspondence, which, however, related entirely to literary subjects. We were in the habit of communicating any matter of interest to our mutual pursuits; the discovery of a curious manuscript, the progress of a long-undertaken work, what the philologists of this place were engaged in, and what occupied the antiquarians of another, asking occasionally for the collation of certain passages and, in short, going through a complete interchange of literary civilities.
It was many years since we had met, and the whims and oddities of my friend never exhibiting themselves on paper, save when he pushed some favourite theory a little too far (a pardonable eccentricity to which we are all somewhat prone), I had forgotten how frequently he used to excite my surprise by the adoption of the most out-of-the-way projects, when one morning about the beginning of the year 18-, as I was seated at breakfast, leisurely discussing my muffins and coffee while my eye wandered over the pages of the metrical version of "Le Roman du SaintGraal," then only just published, I heard the postman's double knock at the door of my chambers, and found that he was lingering for the payment of a foreign letter. This was an unusual occurrence, for we whose pursuits are antiquarian generally contrive to find an official medium of communication, an ambassador's bag, the Minister of Public Instruction, or some such channel, a most justifiable evasion of the tax on letters, as all who are familiar with the nature of our correspondence will at once admit. Here, however, was a letter of this description unpaid, and the address was in the hand-writing of my learned friend Professor Panurge of Bordeaux. With something akin to a sigh, I dropped the amount into the postman's hand and returned to the breakfast-table, inwardly speculating on the cause of this unaccustomed mode of proceeding.
It is, I believe, within everybody's experience, if the superscription of a letter be in an unknown hand, how, instead of at once opening it and satisfying one's curiosity as to the writer, one turns it over and over, examining first the seal and then the postmark, and wondering all the while who it can possibly come from. I was in no such doubt about the missive from Professor Panurge, but I acted much in the same way with respect to its contents.
"What can possibly have made him write again so soon?" I asked myself; "it is only a month since I heard from him; he can't have finished his essay on the long-toed shoes of the fifteenth century in which he clearly intends to prove that the Vidame de Chartres could not possibly have worn the poulaine when he gave the Damoiseau de Soubriac that famous kicking which was one of the most striking events of the history of that time; has he settled the disputed question about the Reine Pédauque,
(who in my opinion was called "goose-foot" because she waddled in her gait); or has he discovered the precise period when pocket-handkerchiefs were first introduced, subjects which, I know, interest him deeply? I wonder what he can have written about ?"
So saying, I replaced my spectacles, and holding the letter at arm's length, as is my custom when I read MS., I broke the seal and perused its contents.
Had any body been by at that moment he would have seen that I was considerably agitated by them. It was, however, no interesting discovery that was the cause; it had reference neither to the Vidame de Chartres, nor the Reine Pédauque, nor in fact to any of the themes which were at once my study and my delight. Instead of an elaborate disquisition closely written and accurately punctuated, as was his wont, I beheld only two or three brief sentences which ran as follows:
"No. 10 Aux Fossés Rouges à Bordeaux "Ce 14 Fevrier 18-.
"Mon cher ami,-Ce petit mot est pour vous avertir que vers le 20e. de ce mois débarquera au port de Londres, une jeune personne, bien née et parfaitement instruite, en route pour l'Ecosse où elle va se fixer pour soigner l'éducation de la famille d'un riche propriétaire de ce pays.-Son séjour à Londres ne sera par de longue durée, mais, dans tous les cas, je compte sur votre amiabilité de lui être utile et en même temps de lui offrir ce qu'il y a d'agrémens dans votre belle ville.-Cette jeune personne n'est pas avide du plaisir,-cela ne conviendrait pas à son état,-seulement elle est passionnée pour le spectacle. Vous en êtes amateur, ainsi, je ne pourrais m'addresser mieux qu'à vous. D'ailleurs, vous êtes le seul homme que je connaisse en Angleterre dont le cœur répond à l'esprit, Toujours à vous, "THEOPHILE PANURGE, "Bachelier ès lettres."
Like the unhappy Marino Faliero, "the misty letters vanished from my sight" and the epistle itself dropped from my hand as I came to its close. Here was I-a quiet, unobtrusive, studious, middle-aged man (of fifty), suddenly hampered with the care of a volatile, frivolous Frenchwoman, "not greedy of pleasure but passionately fond of theatrical amusements," I, who never went near a theatre-except it were the remains of a Roman one, in the shape of some questionable embankment on the Yorkshire hills or Wiltshire downs, and then only for the sublime purpose of discovery-and to be thus called upon to act as cavalière servente to a strange sort of God knows what, with every kind of illegitimate temptation about it! The very idea made me shudder.
The care-hardened man of the world may, perhaps, sneeringly ask, why the thought of the lady's arrival should cause me so much embarrassment? I might, if I pleased, refuse to answer, but I will not entrench myself behind the simple austerity of my position as a man of letters, and let that suffice; I will at once state why the intimation conveyed by Professor Panurge was of a nature peculiarly distressing.
At the period of which I am now writing, that excellent individual and most enlightened companion, the present Mrs. Dryasdust (she is hemming and felling one of my most intimate garments on the opposite side of the table at this very moment), was then the object of my most sedulous attention; not, I can assure the reader, on account of the three
per cent stock of which she was the owner, but for personal and mental graces which, apart from the setting, rendered the stone of unapproachable value.* It was my daily practice to devote not only every evening to that fair lady's company, her tea-table being enlivened by a genial, and, it may be, instructive conversation, but a considerable part of each morning was also placed at her service, when we either walked in the parks, or beguiled a few hours at the British Museum, Westminster Abbey, the Museum of Economic Geology, or some other equally lively place of amusement; so that I was by no means a free agent, even had it consorted with my inclination to dance attendance upon this perilous importation-to say nothing of the consequences if I had been caught in the manner.
I do not mean to say, that the mere fact of paying the ordinary attention to a letter of introduction would have been productive of any thing unpleasant, but to accompany a strange lady to the play, and that lady a Frenchwoman-the thing was an absolute impossibility. I inwardly devoted Professor Panurge to all the gods he did or did not worship.
After the first shock occasioned by his letter was over, I began to consider the case more calmly. It was just possible the vessel from Bordeaux might never reach London. I said to myself, with Shylock, "Ships are but boards-there are the perils of waters, winds, and rocks;" and, however unchristian the thought, I confess I should not have been inconsolable if the entire venture had gone to the bottom. The date of Panurge's letter put it wholly out of my power to write to him to prevent the threatened visitation; in all probability the vessel had already sailed when he wrote, and if his calculations were correct, in forty-eight hours or thereabouts, her precious freight would be on my hands. Nothing, therefore, was left for me but to "entertain my fate and die with decency."
The next two days were rather anxious ones. I tried to console myself with Lady Macbeth's philosophy, that "things without remedy should be without regard;" but in spite of every effort, the vision of a smart, coquetish damsel, with an extremely neat chaussure-" cheveux peignés et lissés avec soin-(as is, I believe, the custom with French governesses) a very winning smile, dark eyes, brilliant teeth, and what they call a tournure ravissante, would keep floating before my eyes, very much to the exclusion of every other object, and greatly to the surprise of my intended, who could not at all understand the cause of my abstraction. I explained as well as I could that my mind was occupied by a very difficult inscription, which had been forwarded me to decypher from the Royal Academy of Sciences at Heligoland, and that I was uncertain whether the characters were Runic or Persepolitan ;-(had this been true and the letters arrow-headed, they could scarcely have given me more pain than Panurge's communication). My explanation was somewhat coldly received, the only observation made by the present Mrs. Dbeing, that "there was a time for all things."
The 20th of February came,—and went as it came,—with nothing to disturb me but the vague apprehension by which I was haunted. It was an odd thing, but during this period of expectation I could by no means settle to my usual occupations. I abandoned the glossary I was writing to a new edition of "The Ship of Fooles," to think of the ship that was
Note to the Printer.-Set this paragraph out in as conspicuous type as you can, that it may catch Mrs. D--'s eye-but take care not to print this instruction at the same time, as she frequently has a fancy for reading my articles.
on its way from Bordeaux, and instead of the books to which I commonly resorted for recreation, such as Dugdale's "Monasticon," Rymer's "Fœdera," and such like, I found myself constantly engaged in the perusal of a handful of French novels, which I had procured from my friend Mr. Jeffs, of the Burlington Arcade, - amongst which were "La Jolie Fille du Faubourg;" "La Pucelle de Belleville;" "Jenny la Bouquetière;" and "L'Amoureux Transi," of Paul de Kock; "Le Mariage et l'Amour," by Madame Elise Voiart; and "Une Liaison Dangereuse," by Jules Lacroix.
For what purpose I read these volumes I could not satisfy myself, but I had a kind of idea that by doing so I should probably acquire a style more suitable in conversation with a modern French woman than the Norman French of "Percival le Gallois," "Gerard de Nevers," or the "Chevalier au Cygne," with which my studies had made me more intimately acquainted than with the lighter productions of the day. Upon whatever terrain we were to encounter, it behoved Dr. Dryasdust to meet his fair antagonist. Fair did I say? Why should my thoughts revert to outward embellishments? Did not a thousand personal graces (to say nothing of mental ones) adorn my Tryphæna (the baptismal name of Mrs. D.)?
There is a strange inconsistency in the nature of man; the 21st, the 22nd, and the 23rd of February arrived, and there were still no signs of the consignment which had been promised me, I began to be impatient -must I add,-disappointed! "O navis sighed I; "quid agis?" and I added emphatically: "Fortiter occupa portum." Had the cargo been the best vintage from Pauillac, and destined for my own cellars, I could scarcely have felt more anxiety. This, of course, was occasioned merely by common feelings of humanity, lest the vessel should have foundered. My sentiments had strangely altered,-I trust no one will believe for the worse!
However, on the 24th of February,—a day as memorable in lendar, as in that of certain high personages, the expected event took place. I had slept rather uneasily,-a circumstance I ascribe to the fact that the "Liaison Dangereuse," which, I was reading the night before, had slipped from under my pillow and got between my shoulders,—and it was only as the morning drew on that, having removed the book, I fell into a sound slumber, though not so sound as to prevent me from dreaming. To say the truth, as nearly as I can guess, about half-past eight, A.M., I was in the act of enjoying a very agreeable vision, such a one as Virgil feigns issues from the ivory portal, when a smart rap at my bed-room door awoke me. To my inquiry, "Who was there ?" the voice of Mrs. Lynx, my laundress, made answer :
'If you please, sir; there's a forring lady wants to see you. She can't speak no English, but has got your name plain enough from a bit of paper she's a holding in her hand!"
"Ah! c'est ici la porte !" exclaimed a shrill voice almost before Mrs. Lynx had ended," je suis bien heureuse de l'avoir trouvé chez lui !"
Her hand was already on the handle of the door, and in another moment she would have penetrated into my sanctorum! I darted out of bed just as I was, and rushed to the door, shouting, with all my might, "Mais, madame,-mademoiselle,-on ne peut pas entrer!"
"Pourquoi ça, monsieur !" demanded the shrill voice.
"Parceque-parceque, mademoiselle,-je n'ai pas encore mis monenfin, je ne suis pas habillé."