Imágenes de páginas


traband, for yourself or others. A necessity for concealment causes a perpetual anxiety, and has a tendency to destroy that openness of manner, which is often very serviceable in getting

Avoid also commissions, except for particular reasons ; they are generally very troublesome and encumbering. When the weather will permit, avail yourself of opportunities of quitting your carriage to take exercise; as, whilst the horses are changing, walk about, or walk forward, taking care only not to get into a wrong road, of which sometimes there is danger. If you pay yourself, a great deal of your comfort will depend upon management. I once posted a considerable distance through France, with a Bohemian courier, who did not understand paying, so I undertook it for my companion. As I wished always to walk forward on changing horses, it was an object to me to save time, and the course I pursued was this : I took care to have a constant supply of change of every necessary denomination, and to ascertain what it was usual in the different parts of the country to give the postillions. Before arriving at each post-house, I calculated by the post-book the charge for the horses, and on arrival I had the exact sum ready, which I put in the postillion's hand, saying, with a confident air, so much for the horses, so much for driving, and so much to drink. The consequence was, I lost no time; the money was received without any objection, and almost always with thanks. By a less decided or less accurate method, the trouble and vexation are great, and you have to do with a set of people who are never satisfied. If you do not know what the amount is, or hold your purse in your hand, or exhibit any hesitation or doubt, you are immediately attacked and pestered in the most importunate and tormenting manner. It has a great effect, I believe, with the postillions, to separate their gratuity into the driving, and the drink-money. They consider it, I was told, as a sort of attention, and certainly I found the observance of the rule very useful. A certain sum for driving, with four or five sous to drink, will elicit thanks,

when a larger amount, not distinguished, will only excite importunity. I am speaking of what was the case fifteen years since, and I think it was the same in Italy. Decision of manner in paying has universally a very good effect, but then it is necessary to make the best inquiries as to what is right.

An Englishman in foreign countries need have no fear that any courtesy he may be disposed to show, will not meet with an adequate, or more than adequate, return. A foreigner connects with his idea of an Englishman, wealth, freedom, and pride. The two former qualities inspire him with a feeling of his own inferiority, whatever he may profess to the contrary, and the last has the effect of preventing him from hazarding the first advance, or if he does venture, it is generally with caution and distrust. For the same reason he will not unfrequently receive an advance with a degree of suspicion, which has the appearance of dislike; but the moment he feels any thing approaching to a confidence of courteous treatment, he is eager to meet it more than half way. English reserve and this foreign suspicion' combine to keep up a distance, and sort of alienation in appearance, which do not exist in reality, and which it is in an Englishman's power to dispel whenever he pleases. All things considered, it is next to impossible that foreigners should not feel that Englishmen enjoy a decided superiority, and it is useful in travelling to bear in mind this fact, not for the purpose of gratifying pride, but of showing a disposition above it. English courtesy bears a high premium everywhere, and the more so, because it has universally the credit of being sincere. An habitual exercise of it in travelling is an excellent passport. I do not at present recollect any other observations on the Art of Travelling, which are not commonly to be met with, but I feel confident that the few I have given, if attended to, may be of considerable service.


I shall begin this article with stating that the dinner at Blackwall, mentioned in my last number, was served according to my directions, both as to the principal dishes and the adjuncts, with perfect exactness, and went off with corresponding success. The turtle and white-bait were excellent; the grouse not quite of equal merit; and the apple fritters so much relished, that they were entirely cleared, and the jelly left untouched. The only wines were champagne and claret, and they both gave great satisfaction. As soon as the liqueurs were handed round once, I ordered them out of the room; and the only heresy committed was by one of the guests asking for a glass of bottled porter, which I had not the presence of mind instantly to forbid. There was an opinion broached that some flounders water-Zoutched, between the turtle and white-bait, would have been an improvement,-and perhaps they would. I dined again yesterday at Blackwall as a guest, and I observed that my theory as to adjuncts was carefully put in practice, so that I hope the public will be a gainer.

In order to bring the dinner system to perfection according to my idea, it would be necessary to have a room contrived on the best possible plan for eight persons, as the greatest number. I almost think six even more desirable than eight; but beyond eight, as far as my experience goes, there is always a division into parties, or a partial languor, or sort of paralysis either of the extremities, or centre, which has more or less effect upon the whole. For complete enjoyment a company ought to be One; sympathizing and drawing together, listening and talking in due proportions—no monopolist, nor any ciphers. With the best arrangements much will depend upon the chief of the feast giving the tone, and keeping it up. Paulus Æmilius, who was the most successful general, and best entertainer of his tiine, seems to have understood this well; for he said that it required the same sort of spirit to manage a banquet as a battle, with this difference, that the one should be made as pleasant to friends, and the other as formidable to enemies, as possible. I often think of this excellent saying at large dinner parties, where the master and mistress preside as if they were the humblest of the guests, or as if they were overwhelmed with anxiety respecting their cumbrous and pleasure-destroying arrangements. They appear not to have the most distant idea of the duties of commanders, and instead of bringing their troops regularly into action, they leave the whole army in reserve. They should at least now and then address each of their guests by name, and, if possible, say something by which it may be guessed who and what each person is. I have witnessed some ridiculous and almost incredible instances of these defects. I remember once at a large dinner-party at a great house, the lion of the day not being called out once, and going away without the majority of the company suspecting who he was. On a similar occasion, as a very distinguished man left the drawingroom, a scarcely less distinguished lady inquired who that gentleman was, who had been so long talking to her, though she had sat opposite to him at dinner. It appears to me that nothing can be better contrived to defeat its legitimate end, than a large dinner-party in the London season-sixteen, for instance. The names of the guests are generally so announced that it is difficult to hear them, and in the earlier part of the year, the assembling takes place in such obscurity, tbat it is impossible to see. Then there is often a tedious and stupifying interval of waiting, caused perhaps by some affected fashionable, some important politician, or some gorgeouslydecked matron, or it may be by some culinary accident. At last comes the formal business of descending into the diningroom, where the blaze of light produces by degrees sundry recognitions; but inany a slight acquaintance is prevented from being renewed by the chilling mode of assembling. In the long days the light is more favourable, but the waiting is generally more tedious, and half the guests are perhaps leaving the park, when they ought to be sitting down to dinner. At table, intercourse is prevented as much as possible by a huge centre-piece of plate and flowers, which cuts off about one-half the company from the other, and some very awkward mistakes have taken place in consequence, from guests having made personal observations upon those who were actually opposite to them. It seems strange that people should be invited, to be hidden from one another. Besides the centre-piece, there are usually massive branches, to assist in interrupting communication ; and perhaps you are placed between two persons

with whom you are not acquainted, and have no community of interest to induce you to become so, for in the present overgrown state of society, a new acquaintance, except for some particular reason, is an encumbrance to be avoided. When the company is arranged, then comes the perpetual motion of the attendants, the perpetual declining of what you do not want, and the perpetual waiting for what you do, or a silent resignation to your fate. To desire a potato, and to see the dish handed to your next neighbour, and taking its course in a direction from you, round an immense table, with occasional retrograde movements, and digressions, is one of the unsatisfactory occurrences, which frequently take place ; but perhaps the most distressing incident in a grand dinner is, to be asked to take champagne, and, after much delay, to see the butler extract the bottle from a cooler, and hold it nearly parallel to the horizon, in order to calculate how much he is to put into the first glass to leave any for the second. To relieve him and yourself from the chilling difficulty, the only alternative is to change your mind, and prefer sherry, which, under the circumstances, has rather an awkward effect. These and an infinity of minor evils are constantly experienced amidst the greatest displays, and they have from sad experience made me come to the conclusion, that a com

« AnteriorContinuar »