Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

as to be lamented. She was her whole life happy in an uninterrupted health, and was alwaxs honoured for an evenness of temper and greatness of mind. On the roth instant that lady was taken with an indisposition which confined her to her chamber, but was such as was too slight to make her take a sick bed, and yet too grievous to admit of any satisfaction in being out of it. It is notoriously known that some years ago monsieur Festeau, one of the most considerable surgeons in Paris, was desperately in love with this lady. Her quality placed her above any application to her on the account of his passion: but as a woman always has some regard to the person whom she believes to be her real admirer, she now took it in her head (upon advice of her physicians to lose some of her blood) to send for monsieur Festeau on that occasion. I happened to be there at that time, and my near relation gave me the privilege to be present. As soon as her arm was stripped bare, and he began to press it in order to raise the vein, his colour changed, and I observed him seized with a sudden tremor, which made me take the liberty to speak of it to my cousin with some apprehension. She smiled, and said, she knew Mr. Festeau had no inclination to do her injury. He seemed to recover hiniself, and smiling also proceeded in his work. Immediately after the operation, he cried out that he was the most unfortunate of all men, for that he had opened an artery instead of a vein. It is as impossible to express the artist's distraction as the patient's composure. I will not dwell on little circumstances, but go on to inform you, that within three days it was thought necessary to take off her arm. She was so far from using Festeay as it would be patural for one of a lower spirit to treat him, that she would not let him be ab

gent

and

sent from any consultation about her present condition, and on every occasion asked whether he was satisfied in the measures that were taken about her. Before this last operation she ordered her will to be drawn; after having been about a quarter of an hour alone, she bid the surgeons, of whom poor Festeau was one, go on in their work. I know not how to give you the terms of art; but there appeared such symptoms after the amputation of her arm, that it was visible she could not live four-and-twenty hours. Her behaviour was so magnanimous throughout the whole affair, that I was particularly curious in taking notice of what passed, as her fate approached nearer and nearer, and took notes of what she said to all about her, particularly word for word what she spoke to Mr. Festeau, which was as follows :

Sir, you give me inexpressible sorrow for the anguish with which I see you overwhelmed. I am removed to all intents and purposes from the interests of human life, therefore I am to begin to think like one wholly unconcerned at it. I do not consider you as one by whose error I have lost my life; no, you are my benefactor, as you have hastened my entrance into a happy immortality. This is my sense of this accident; but the world in which you live may have thoughts of it to your disadvantage; I have therefore taken care to provide for you in my will, and have placed you above what you have to fear from their ill-nature.'

" While this excellent woman spoke these words, Festcau looked as if he received a condemnation to die, instead of a pension for his life. Madame de Villacerfc lived till eight o'clock the next night; and thongh she must have 'laboured under the most exquisite torments, she possessed her mind with so wonderful a patience, that one may rather say she ceased to breathe, than she died at that hour. You, who had not the happiness to be personally known to this lady, have nothing but to rejoice in the honour you had of being related to so great merit; but we, who have lost her conversation, cannot so easily resign our own happiness by reflection

upon hers.

I am, sir, your affectionate kinsman,
and most obedient humble servant,

Paul Regnaud.

STEELE.

No. 371.

THE HƯMOURIST'S FEAST. I SHALL communicate to my reader the following letter for the entertainment of this day. Sir, You know

very

well that our nation is more famous for that sort of men who are called whims and humourists, than any other country in the world; for which reason it is observed, that our English comedy excels that of all other nations in the novelty and variety of its characters.

Among those innumerable sets of whims which our country produces, there are none whom I have regarded with more curiosity than those who have in. vented any particular kind of diversion for the entertainment of themselves or their friends. My letter shall single out those who take delight in sorting a company that has something of burlesque and ridicule in its appearance. I shall make myself understood by the fol. lowing example. One of the wits of the last age, who was a man of a good estate *, 'thought he never laid out

* Villars, the last duke of Buckingham, and father of the late lady Mary Wortley Montague.

his money better than in a jest. As he was one year at the Bath, observing that in the great confluence of fine people there were several among them with long chins, a part of the visage by which he himself was very much distinguished, he invited to dinner half a score of these remarkable persons who had their mouths in the middle of their faces. They had no sooner placed themselves about the table, but they began to stare upon one another, not being able to imagine what had brought them together. Our English proverb says,

' 'Tis merry in the hall
When beards

wag

all.'

It proved so in the assembly I am now speaking of; who seeing so many peaks of faces agitated with eating, drinking and discourse, and observing all the chins that were present meeting together very often over the centre of the table, every one grew sensible of the jest, and gave into it with so much good humour, that they lived in strict friendship and alliance from that day forward,

The same gentleman some time after packed together a set of oglers, as he called them, consisting of such as had an unlucky cast in their eyes. His diversion on this occasion was to see the cross bows, mistaken signs, and wrong connivances, that passed amidst so many broken and refracted rays of sight.

The third feast which this merry gentleman exhibited was to the stammerers, whon he got together in a sufficient body to fill his table. He had ordered one of his servants, who was placed behind a screen, to write down their table-talk, which was very easy to be done without the help of short-hand. It appears by the notes which were taken, that though their conversation never fell, there were not above twenty words

spoken

[ocr errors]

spoken during the first course ; that upon serving up the second, one of the company was a quarter of an hour in telling them that the ducklings and asparagus were very good; and that another took up the same time in declaring himself of the saine opinion. This jest did not, however, go off so well as the former; for one of the guests being a brave man, and fuller of resentment than he knew how to express, went out of the room, and sent the facetious inviter a challenge in writing, which, thoug . it was afterwards dropped by the interposition of friends, put a stop to these ludicrous entertainments.

“Now, sir, I dare say you will agree with me that, , as there is no moral in these jests, they ought to be discouraged, and looked upon rather as pieces of unluckiness than wit. However, as it is natural for one man to refine upon the thought of another, and impossible for any single person, how great soever bis parts may be, to invent an art, and bring it to its utmost perfection ; I shall here give you an account of an honest gentleman of my acquaintance, who, upon hearing the character of the wit above mentioned, has himself assumed it, and endeavoured to convert it to the benefit of mankind. He invited half a dozen of his friends one day to dinner, who were each of them famous for inserting several redundant phrases in their discourse, as, “d'ye hear me, d’ye see, that is, and so, sir.' Each of the guests making frequent use of his particular elegance, appeared so ridiculous to his neighbour that he could not but reflect upon himself as appearing equally ridiculous to the rest of the company. By this means, before they had sat long together, every one talking with the greatest circumspection, and carefully avoiding his favourite expletive, the conver

« AnteriorContinuar »