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a segment of existence, after all ?

If there is any truth in the doctrine of Final Causes, while everything in Nature has its function and its scope, man has a maimed, dwarfed, and imperfect existence. There are possibilities of happiness never achieved ; germs of goodness never elicited by pure skies and dews; embryonic powers and faculties never developed, and even never suspected. Can it be that the shadow and evil, the death and the disappointment are correlative to some unknown good; that those 'who sow in tears shall reap in joy’? «One knows.'

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Five-o'clock tea.

THE institution of five-o'clock tea is certainly one

of the pleasantest and most sociable of modern life. Practically, ladies have always had tea at five in the afternoon. Our fashionable late hours are in reality wholesome country hours. They dine in the middle of the day, then they have their tea at five, and the dinner is practically a supper, more plentiful and more wholesome than an avowed supper, because it is taken at an earlier hour. We have all heard the legend of the country clergyman who dined at lunch, took five o'clock tea, and went to bed as the gong sounded for dinner. A few hours after the established lunch, ladies like tea for its freshening and reviving qualities. It is really the same with men, only the men prefer to say that the tea gives 'a tone' to the dinner, as if it was another form for sherry and bitters. It was a lady's gracious and sociable thought that she would not take a solitary selfish cup of tea; but she would let her friends know that, when at home, she invariably took tea at five, and that there

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was tea for all who chose to come. The great drawback is, that until ladies have ‘their day,' as in Paris, you may go to a nice house and be disappointed of your cup of tea, as your hostess is herself taking tea with a friend. When the day has been fixed and invitations given, the afternoon tea is transformed into a kettledrum. That subtle domesticity, which is the peculiar charm of a five-o'clock tea, is lost. The refreshments are elaborate, and the music is that of a regular matinée. When it is not a concert, it is a conversazione of a limited kind. Either is good in a way, but the way is not so good as that of the five-o'clock tea pure and simple.

We prefer it even to the Parisian day. Because when you go to see your charming hostess there is a constant stream of guests through the glittering salon, You see a great many people, but you do not see your friend the hostess. Now, it is the happiness of the English institution that you are asked to drop in at five o'clock, because you are appreciated by your hostess and her set. At a large party she must distribute her attentions impartially ; but unrestrained conversation is possible in the afternoon, and you really want to see something of your pleasant hostess and her home party. It is a liberal education to know her; she is just the kind of person whom Lord Chesterfield wanted his son to know, and any Lady Chesterfield would like her daughter to know.

She has sense

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and wit. And if you store away anything of the kind yourself, she will be able to elicit such dormant electricity. Of course there are many men who 'drop in,' but you are always sure that there will be a predominance of ladies at the ladies' peculiar meal. Husbands who have anything to do, and overworked men generally, cannot often be present. There is a system of order and counterbalancing in the nature of things, and men who are thrown incessantly in the company of men, in courts, in clubs, in committees, cannot do better than amend their character and retrieve their fate by the five-o'clock tea. all the babble of the town, the freshest and brightest stories, the touches of character, the essence of public questions, the current criticisms of books and pictures, the secret history of the times. We do not say that there is too much of this kind of conversation in London or anywhere else; but it is sometimes to be met, very often to be met approximately, and never oftener than at tea-time. We know one great lady who retains the lost art of conversation in all its grace and grandeur. A music passes away when she ceases to speak; and in leisure moments we put down her thoughts and recollections on our tablets. This great lady—of course there were a peculiar set of circumstances-once had fifteen hundred callers within three days. There was a river of tea each afternoon. But once we received an invitation to tea in common with six thousand other ladies and gentlemen. We did not mind it once in a way; it was a curiosity in social life of a very big sort, but we should not care to undergo that crush of crushes again.

Tea itself is a subject that admits of more discussion and variety than might be expected.

Sometimes you get a very wonderful tea which has been sent by private friends from China. Sometimes you get a tea which has been brought from Russia, and which came to Russia by the overland route. There is all the difference in the world between tea and tea. It is not that the overland tea is better than the tea which comes by sea, but that the latter is subjected to preparations which are thought likely to be beneficial during a long voyage.

We think that the Russian mode of having tea is exceedingly pleasant. At the Paris Exhibition every one had the ambercoloured tumbler with lemon. It is a very pleasant change from the received method. We try to get it, but housewives are very conservative in their notions. Still, as we have the dinner à la Russe, why should we not have the tea à la Russe as well ?

Tea and conversation are exactly the things that go so well together. It is just the gentle stimulant that produces the required effect. Indeed, we have got hold of a really scientific formula in the matter : it is good tea that makes good talk, and as the tea deteriorates so does the talk weaken in exactly the same proportion.

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