The Fitz-Boodle Papers
William Makepeace Thackeray
Part 1 out of 2
This etext was prepared by Donald Lainson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE FITZ-BOODLE PAPERS.
by William Makepeace Thackeray
THE FITZ-BOODLE PAPERS.
GEORGE FITZ-BOODLE, ESQUIRE, TO OLIVER YORKE, ESQUIRE.
OMNIUM CLUB, May 20, 1842.
DEAR SIR,--I have always been considered the third-best whist-
player in Europe, and (though never betting more than five pounds)
have for many years past added considerably to my yearly income by
my skill in the game, until the commencement of the present season,
when a French gentleman, Monsieur Lalouette, was admitted to the
club where I usually play. His skill and reputation were so great,
that no men of the club were inclined to play against us two of a
side; and the consequence has been, that we have been in a manner
pitted against one another. By a strange turn of luck (for I
cannot admit the idea of his superiority), Fortune, since the
Frenchman's arrival, has been almost constantly against me, and I
have lost two-and-thirty nights in the course of a couple of score
of nights' play.
* The "Fitz-Boodle Papers" first appeared in Fraser's Magazine for
the year 1842.
Everybody knows that I am a poor man; and so much has Lalouette's
luck drained my finances, that only last week I was obliged to give
him that famous gray cob on which you have seen me riding in the
Park (I can't afford a thoroughbred, and hate a cocktail),--I was,
I say, forced to give him up my cob in exchange for four ponies
which I owed him. Thus, as I never walk, being a heavy man whom
nobody cares to mount, my time hangs heavily on my hands; and, as I
hate home, or that apology for it--a bachelor's lodgings--and as I
have nothing earthly to do now until I can afford to purchase
another horse, I spend my time in sauntering from one club to
another, passing many rather listless hours in them before the men
You will say, Why not take to backgammon, or ecarte, or amuse
yourself with a book? Sir (putting out of the question the fact
that I do not play upon credit), I make a point never to play
before candles are lighted; and as for books, I must candidly
confess to you I am not a reading man.
'Twas but the other day that some one recommended me to your
Magazine after dinner, saying it contained an exceedingly witty
article upon--I forget what. I give you my honor, sir, that I took
up the work at six, meaning to amuse myself till seven, when Lord
Trumpington's dinner was to come off, and egad! in two minutes I
fell asleep, and never woke till midnight. Nobody ever thought of
looking for me in the library, where nobody ever goes; and so
ravenously hungry was I, that I was obliged to walk off to
Crockford's for supper.
What is it that makes you literary persons so stupid? I have met
various individuals in society who I was told were writers of
books, and that sort of thing, and expecting rather to be amused by
their conversation, have invariably found them dull to a degree,
and as for information, without a particle of it. Sir, I actually
asked one of these fellows, "What was the nick to seven?" and he
stared in my face and said he didn't know. He was hugely over-
dressed in satin, rings, chains and so forth; and at the beginning
of dinner was disposed to be rather talkative and pert; but my
little sally silenced HIM, I promise you, and got up a good laugh
at his expense too. "Leave George alone," said little Lord
Cinqbars, "I warrant he'll be a match for any of you literary
fellows." Cinqbars is no great wiseacre; but, indeed, it requires
no great wiseacre to know THAT.
What is the simple deduction to be drawn from this truth? Why,
this--that a man to be amusing and well-informed, has no need of
books at all, and had much better go to the world and to men for
his knowledge. There was Ulysses, now, the Greek fellow engaged in
the Trojan war, as I dare say you know; well, he was the cleverest
man possible, and how? From having seen men and cities, their
manners noted and their realms surveyed, to be sure. So have I.
I have been in every capital, and can order a dinner in every
language in Europe.
My notion, then, is this. I have a great deal of spare time on my
hands, and as I am told you pay a handsome sum to persons writing
for you, I will furnish you occasionally with some of my views upon
men and things; occasional histories of my acquaintance, which I
think may amuse you; personal narratives of my own; essays, and
what not. I am told that I do not spell correctly. This of course
I don't know; but you will remember that Richelieu and Marlborough
could not spell, and egad! I am an honest man, and desire to be no
better than they. I know that it is the matter, and not the
manner, which is of importance. Have the goodness, then, to let
one of your understrappers correct the spelling and the grammar of
my papers; and you can give him a few shillings in my name for his
Begging you to accept the assurance of my high consideration, I am,
Your obedient servant,
GEORGE SAVAGE FITZ-BOODLE.
P.S.--By the way, I have said in my letter that I found ALL
literary persons vulgar and dull. Permit me to contradict this
with regard to yourself. I met you once at Blackwall, I think it
was, and really did not remark anything offensive in your accent or
Before commencing the series of moral disquisitions, &c. which I
intend, the reader may as well know who I am, and what my past
course of life has been. To say that I am a Fitz-Boodle is to say
at once that I am a gentleman. Our family has held the estate of
Boodle ever since the reign of Henry II.; and it is out of no ill
will to my elder brother, or unnatural desire for his death, but
only because the estate is a very good one, that I wish heartily it
was mine: I would say as much of Chatsworth or Eaton Hall.
I am not, in the first place, what is called a ladies' man, having
contracted an irrepressible habit of smoking after dinner, which
has obliged me to give up a great deal of the dear creatures'
society; nor can I go much to country-houses for the same reason.
Say what they will, ladies do not like you to smoke in their
bedrooms: their silly little noses scent out the odor upon the
chintz, weeks after you have left them. Sir John has been caught
coming to bed particularly merry and redolent of cigar-smoke; young
George, from Eton, was absolutely found in the little green-house
puffing an Havana; and when discovered they both lay the blame upon
Fitz-Boodle. "It was Mr. Fitz-Boodle, mamma," says George, "who
offered me the cigar, and I did not like to refuse him." "That
rascal Fitz seduced us, my dear," says Sir John, "and kept us
laughing until past midnight." Her ladyship instantly sets me down
as a person to be avoided. "George," whispers she to her boy,
"promise me on your honor, when you go to town, not to know that
man." And when she enters the breakfast-room for prayers, the
first greeting is a peculiar expression of countenance, and
inhaling of breath, by which my lady indicates the presence of some
exceedingly disagreeable odor in the room. She makes you the
faintest of curtsies, and regards you, if not with a "flashing
eye," as in the novels, at least with a "distended nostril."
During the whole of the service, her heart is filled with the
blackest gall towards you; and she is thinking about the best means
of getting you out of the house.
What is this smoking that it should be considered a crime? I
believe in my heart that women are jealous of it, as of a rival.
They speak of it as of some secret, awful vice that seizes upon a
man, and makes him a pariah from genteel society. I would lay a
guinea that many a lady who has just been kind enough to rend the
above lines lays down the book, after this confession of mine that
I am a smoker, and says, "Oh, the vulgar wretch!" and passes on to
The fact is, that the cigar IS a rival to the ladies, and their
conqueror too. In the chief pipe-smoking nations they are kept in
subjection. While the chief, Little White Belt, smokes, the women
are silent in his wigwam; while Mahomet Ben Jawbrahim causes
volumes of odorous incense of Latakia to play round his beard, the
women of the harem do not disturb his meditations, but only add to
the delight of them by tinkling on a dulcimer and dancing before
him. When Professor Strumpff of Gottingen takes down No. 13 from
the wall, with a picture of Beatrice Cenci upon it, and which holds
a pound of canaster, the Frau Professorin knows that for two hours
Hermann is engaged, and takes up her stockings and knits in quiet.
The constitution of French society has been quite changed within
the last twelve years: an ancient and respectable dynasty has been
overthrown; an aristocracy which Napoleon could never master has
disappeared: and from what cause? I do not hesitate to say,--FROM
THE HABIT OF SMOKING. Ask any man whether, five years before the
revolution of July, if you wanted a cigar at Paris, they did not
bring you a roll of tobacco with a straw in it! Now, the whole
city smokes; society is changed; and be sure of this, ladies, a
similar combat is going on in this country at present between
cigar-smoking and you. Do you suppose you will conquer? Look over
the wide world, and see that your adversary has overcome it.
Germany has been puffing for threescore years; France smokes to a
man. Do you think you can keep the enemy out of England? Psha!
look at his progress. Ask the clubhouses, Have they smoking-rooms
or not? Are they not obliged to yield to the general want of the
age, in spite of the resistance of the old women on the committees?
I, for my part, do not despair to see a bishop lolling out of the
"Athenaeum" with a cheroot in his mouth, or, at any rate, a pipe
stuck in his shovel-hat.
But as in all great causes and in promulgating new and illustrious
theories, their first propounders and exponents are generally the
victims of their enthusiasm, of course the first preachers of
smoking have been martyrs, too; and George Fitz-Boodle is one. The
first gas-man was ruined; the inventor of steam-engine printing
became a pauper. I began to smoke in days when the task was one of
some danger, and paid the penalty of my crime. I was flogged most
fiercely for my first cigar; for, being asked to dine one Sunday
evening with a half-pay colonel of dragoons (the gallant, simple,
humorous Shortcut--heaven bless him!--I have had many a guinea from
him who had so few), he insisted upon my smoking in his room at the
"Salopian," and the consequence was, that I became so violently ill
as to be reported intoxicated upon my return to Slaughter-House
School, where I was a boarder, and I was whipped the next morning
for my peccadillo. At Christ Church, one of our tutors was the
celebrated lamented Otto Rose, who would have been a bishop under
the present Government, had not an immoderate indulgence in water-
gruel cut short his elegant and useful career. He was a good man,
a pretty scholar and poet (the episode upon the discovery of eau-
de-Cologne, in his prize-poem on "The Rhine," was considered a
masterpiece of art, though I am not much of a judge myself upon
such matters), and he was as remarkable for his fondness for a tuft
as for his nervous antipathy to tobacco. As ill-luck would have
it, my rooms (in Tom Quad) were exactly under his; and I was grown
by this time to be a confirmed smoker. I was a baronet's son (we
are of James the First's creation), and I do believe our tutor
could have pardoned any crime in the world but this. He had seen
me in a tandem, and at that moment was seized with a violent fit of
sneezing--(sternutatory paroxysm he called it)--at the conclusion
of which I was a mile down the Woodstock Road. He had seen me in
pink, as we used to call it, swaggering in the open sunshine across
a grass-plat in the court; but spied out opportunely a servitor,
one Todhunter by name, who was going to morning chapel with his
shoestring untied, and forthwith sprung towards that unfortunate
person, to set him an imposition. Everything, in fact, but tobacco
he could forgive. Why did cursed fortune bring him into the rooms
over mine? The odor of the cigars made his gentle spirit quite
furious; and one luckless morning, when I was standing before my
"oak," and chanced to puff a great bouffee of Varinas into his
face, he forgot his respect for my family altogether (I was the
second son, and my brother a sickly creature THEN,--he is now
sixteen stone in weight, and has a half-score of children); gave me
a severe lecture, to which I replied rather hotly, as was my wont.
And then came demand for an apology; refusal on my part; appeal to
the dean; convocation; and rustication of George Savage Fitz-
My father had taken a second wife (of the noble house of
Flintskinner), and Lady Fitz-Boodle detested smoking, as a woman of
her high principles should. She had an entire mastery over the
worthy old gentleman, and thought I was a sort of demon of
wickedness. The old man went to his grave with some similar
notion,--heaven help him! and left me but the wretched twelve
thousand pounds secured to me on my poor mother's property.
In the army, my luck was much the same. I joined the --th Lancers,
Lieut.-Col. Lord Martingale, in the year 1817. I only did duty
with the regiment for three months. We were quartered at Cork,
where I found the Irish doodheen and tobacco the pleasantest
smoking possible; and was found by his lordship, one day upon
stable duty, smoking the shortest, dearest little dumpy clay-pipe
in the world.
"Cornet Fitz-Boodle," said my lord in a towering passion, "from
what blackguard did you get that pipe?"
I omit the oaths which garnished invariably his lordship's
"I got it, my lord," said I, "from one Terence Mullins, a jingle-
driver, with a packet of his peculiar tobacco. You sometimes smoke
Turkish, I believe; do try this. Isn't it good?" And in the
simplest way in the world I puffed a volume into his face. "I see
you like it," said I, so coolly, that the men--and I do believe the
horses--burst out laughing.
He started back--choking almost, and recovered himself only to vent
such a storm of oaths and curses that I was compelled to request
Capt. Rawdon (the captain on duty) to take note of his lordship's
words; and unluckily could not help adding a question which settled
my business. "You were good enough," I said, "to ask me, my lord,
from what blackguard I got my pipe; might I ask from what
blackguard you learned your language?"
This was quite enough. Had I said, "from what GENTLEMAN did your
lordship learn your language?" the point would have been quite as
good, and my Lord Martingale would have suffered in my place: as it
was, I was so strongly recommended to sell out by his Royal
Highness the Commander-in-Chief, that, being of a good-natured
disposition, never knowing how to refuse a friend, I at once threw
up my hopes of military distinction and retired into civil life.
My lord was kind enough to meet me afterwards in a field in the
Glanmire Road, where he put a ball into my leg. This I returned to
him some years later with about twenty-three others--black ones--
when he came to be balloted for at a club of which I have the honor
to be a member.
Thus by the indulgence of a simple and harmless propensity,--of a
propensity which can inflict an injury upon no person or thing
except the coat and the person of him who indulges in it,--of a
custom honored and observed in almost all the nations of the
world,--of a custom which, far from leading a man into any
wickedness or dissipation to which youth is subject, on the
contrary, begets only benevolent silence, and thoughtful good-
humored observation--I found at the age of twenty all my prospects
in life destroyed. I cared not for woman in those days: the calm
smoker has a sweet companion in his pipe. I did not drink
immoderately of wine; for though a friend to trifling potations, to
excessively strong drinks tobacco is abhorrent. I never thought of
gambling, for the lover of the pipe has no need of such excitement;
but I was considered a monster of dissipation in my family, and
bade fair to come to ruin.
"Look at George," my mother-in-law said to the genteel and correct
young Flintskinners. "He entered the world with every prospect in
life, and see in what an abyss of degradation his fatal habits have
plunged him! At school he was flogged and disgraced, he was
disgraced and rusticated at the university, he was disgraced and
expelled from the army! He might have had the living of Boodle"
(her ladyship gave it to one of her nephews), "but he would not
take his degree; his papa would have purchased him a troop--nay, a
lieutenant-colonelcy some day, but for his fatal excesses. And now
as long as my dear husband will listen to the voice of a wife who
adores him--never, never shall he spend a shilling upon so
worthless a young man. He has a small income from his mother (I
cannot but think that the first Lady Fitz-Boodle was a weak and
misguided person); let him live upon his mean pittance as he can,
and I heartily pray we may not hear of him in gaol!"
My brother, after he came to the estate, married the ninth daughter
of our neighbor, Sir John Spreadeagle; and Boodle Hall has seen a
new little Fitz-Boodle with every succeeding spring. The dowager
retired to Scotland with a large jointure and a wondrous heap of
savings. Lady Fitz is a good creature, but she thinks me something
diabolical, trembles when she sees me, and gathers all her children
about her, rushes into the nursery whenever I pay that little
seminary a visit, and actually slapped poor little Frank's ears one
day when I was teaching him to ride upon the back of a Newfoundland
"George," said my brother to me the last time I paid him a visit at
the old hall, "don't be angry, my dear fellow, but Maria is in a--
hum--in a delicate situation, expecting her--hum"--(the eleventh)--
"and do you know you frighten her? It was but yesterday you met
her in the rookery--you were smoking that enormous German pipe--and
when she came in she had an hysterical seizure, and Drench says
that in her situation it's dangerous. And I say, George, if you go
to town you'll find a couple of hundred at your banker's." And
with this the poor fellow shook me by the hand, and called for a
fresh bottle of claret.
Afterwards he told me, with many hesitations, that my room at
Boodle Hall had been made into a second nursery. I see my sister-
in-law in London twice or thrice in the season, and the little
people, who have almost forgotten to call me uncle George.
It's hard, too, for I am a lonely man after all, and my heart
yearns to them. The other day I smuggled a couple of them into my
chambers, and had a little feast of cream and strawberries to
welcome them. But it had like to have cost the nursery-maid (a
Swiss girl that Fitz-Boodle hired somewhere in his travels) her
place. My step-mamma, who happened to be in town, came flying down
in her chariot, pounced upon the poor thing and the children in the
midst of the entertainment; and when I asked her, with rather a bad
grace to be sure, to take a chair and a share of the feast--
"Mr. Fitz-Boodle," said she, "I am not accustomed to sit down in a
place that smells of tobacco like an ale-house--an ale-house
inhabited by a SERPENT, sir! A SERPENT!--do you understand me?--
who carries his poison into his brother's own house, and purshues
his eenfamous designs before his brother's own children. Put on
Miss Maria's bonnet this instant. Mamsell, ontondy-voo? Metty le
bonny a mamsell. And I shall take care, Mamsell, that you return
to Switzerland to-morrow. I've no doubt you are a relation of
Courvoisier--oui! oui! courvoisier, vous comprenny--and you shall
certainly be sent back to your friends."
With this speech, and with the children and their maid sobbing
before her, my lady retired; but for once my sister-in-law was on
my side, not liking the meddlement of the elder lady.
I know, then, that from indulging in that simple habit of smoking,
I have gained among the ladies a dreadful reputation. I see that
they look coolly upon me, and darkly at their husbands when they
arrive at home in my company. Men, I observe, in consequence, ask
me to dine much oftener at the club, or the "Star and Garter" at
Richmond, or at "Lovegrove's," than in their own houses; and with
this sort of arrangement I am fain to acquiesce; for, as I said
before, I am of an easy temper, and can at any rate take my cigar-
case out after dinner at Blackwall, when my lady or the duchess is
not by. I know, of course, the best MEN in town; and as for
ladies' society, not having it (for I will have none of your
pseudo-ladies, such as sometimes honor bachelors' parties,--
actresses, couturieres, opera-dancers, and so forth)--as for
ladies' society, I say, I cry pish! 'tis not worth the trouble of
the complimenting, and the bother of pumps and black silk
Let any man remember what ladies' society was when he had an
opportunity of seeing them among themselves, as What-d'ye-call'im
does in the Thesmophoria--(I beg pardon, I was on the verge of a
classical allusion, which I abominate)--I mean at that period of
his life when the intellect is pretty acute, though the body is
small--namely, when a young gentleman is about eleven years of age,
dining at his father's table during the holidays, and is requested
by his papa to quit the dinner-table when the ladies retire from
Corbleu! I recollect their whole talk as well as if it had been
whispered but yesterday; and can see, after a long dinner, the
yellow summer sun throwing long shadows over the lawn before the
dining-room windows, and my poor mother and her company of ladies
sailing away to the music-room in old Boodle Hall. The Countess
Dawdley was the great lady in our county, a portly lady who used to
love crimson satin in those days, and birds-of-paradise. She was
flaxen-haired, and the Regent once said she resembled one of King
When Sir John Todcaster used to begin his famous story of the
exciseman (I shall not tell it here, for very good reasons), my
poor mother used to turn to Lady Dawdley, and give that mystic
signal at which all females rise from their chairs. Tufthunt, the
curate, would spring from his seat, and be sure to be the first to
open the door for the retreating ladies; and my brother Tom and I,
though remaining stoutly in our places, were speedily ejected from
them by the governor's invariable remark, "Tom and George, if you
have had QUITE enough of wine, you had better go and join your
mamma." Yonder she marches, heaven bless her! through the old oak
hall (how long the shadows of the antlers are on the wainscot, and
the armor of Rollo Fitz-Boodle looks in the sunset as if it were
emblazoned with rubies)--yonder she marches, stately and tall, in
her invariable pearl-colored tabbinet, followed by Lady Dawdley,
blazing like a flamingo; next comes Lady Emily Tufthunt (she was
Lady Emily Flintskinner), who will not for all the world take
precedence of rich, vulgar, kind, good-humored Mrs. COLONEL
Grogwater, as she would be called, with a yellow little husband
from Madras, who first taught me to drink sangaree. He was a new
arrival in our county, but paid nobly to the hounds, and occupied
hospitably a house which was always famous for its hospitality--
Sievely Hall (poor Bob Cullender ran through seven thousand a year
before he was thirty years old). Once when I was a lad, Colonel
Grogwater gave me two gold mohurs out of his desk for whist-
markers, and I'm sorry to say I ran up from Eton and sold them both
for seventy-three shillings at a shop in Cornhill. But to return
to the ladies, who are all this while kept waiting in the hall, and
to their usual conversation after dinner.
Can any man forget how miserably flat it was? Five matrons sit on
sofas, and talk in a subdued voice:--
First Lady (mysteriously).--"My dear Lady Dawdley, do tell me about
poor Susan Tuckett."
Second Lady.--"All three children are perfectly well, and I assure
you as fine babies as I ever saw in my life. I made her give them
Daffy's Elixir the first day; and it was the greatest mercy that I
had some of Frederick's baby-clothes by me; for you know I had
provided Susan with sets for one only, and really--"
Third Lady.--"Of course one couldn't; and for my part I think your
ladyship is a great deal too kind to these people. A little
gardener's boy dressed in Lord Dawdley's frocks indeed! I
recollect that one at his christening had the sweetest lace in the
Fourth Lady.--"What do you think of this, ma'am--Lady Emily, I
mean? I have just had it from Howell and James:--guipure, they call
it. Isn't it an odd name for lace! And they charge me, upon my
conscience, four guineas a yard!"
Third Lady.--"My mother, when she came to Flintskinner, had lace
upon her robe that cost sixty guineas a yard, ma'am! 'Twas sent
from Malines direct by our relation, the Count d'Araignay."
Fourth Lady (aside).--"I thought she would not let the evening pass
without talking of her Malines lace and her Count d'Araignay.
Odious people! they don't spare their backs, but they pinch their--"
Here Tom upsets a coffee-cup over his white jean trousers, and
another young gentleman bursts into a laugh, saying, "By Jove,
that's a good 'un!"
"George, my dear," says mamma, "had not you and your young friend
better go into the garden? But mind, no fruit, or Dr. Glauber must
be called in again immediately!" And we all go, and in ten minutes
I and my brother are fighting in the stables.
If, instead of listening to the matrons and their discourse, we had
taken the opportunity of attending to the conversation of the
Misses, we should have heard matter not a whit more interesting.
First Miss.--"They were all three in blue crape; you never saw
anything so odious. And I know for a certainty that they wore
those dresses at Muddlebury, at the archery-ball, and I dare say
they had them in town."
Second Miss.--"Don't you think Jemima decidedly crooked? And those
fair complexions, they freckle so, that really Miss Blanche ought
to be called Miss Brown."
Third Miss.--"He, he, he!"
Fourth Miss.--"Don't you think Blanche is a pretty name?"
First Miss.--"La! do you think so, dear? Why, it's my second
Second Miss.--"Then I'm sure Captain Travers thinks it a BEAUTIFUL
Third Miss.--"He, he, he!"
Fourth Miss.--"What was he telling you at dinner that seemed to
interest you so?"
First Miss.--"O law, nothing!--that is, yes! Charles--that is,--
Captain Travers, is a sweet poet, and was reciting to me some lines
that he had composed upon a faded violet:--
"'The odor from the flower is gone,
That like thy--,
like thy something, I forget what it was; but his lines are sweet,
and so original too! I wish that horrid Sir John Todcaster had not
begun his story of the exciseman, for Lady Fitz-Boodle always quits
the table when he begins."
Third Miss.--"Do you like those tufts that gentlemen wear sometimes
on their chins?"
Second Miss.--"Nonsense, Mary!"
Third Miss.--"Well, I only asked, Jane. Frank thinks, you know,
that he shall very soon have one, and puts bear's-grease on his
chin every night."
Second Miss.--"Mary, nonsense!"
Third Miss.--"Well, only ask him. You know he came to our
dressing-room last night and took the pomatum away; and he says
that when boys go to Oxford they always--"
First Miss.--"O heavens! have you heard the news about the Lancers?
Charles--that is, Captain Travers, told it me!"
Second Miss.--"Law! they won't go away before the ball, I hope!"
First Miss.--"No, but on the 15th they are to shave their
moustaches! He says that Lord Tufto is in a perfect fury about
Second Miss.--"And poor George Beardmore, too!" &c.
Here Tom upsets the coffee over his trousers, and the conversations
end. I can recollect a dozen such, and ask any man of sense
whether such talk amuses him?
Try again to speak to a young lady while you are dancing--what we
call in this country--a quadrille. What nonsense do you invariably
give and receive in return! No, I am a woman-scorner, and don't
care to own it. I hate young ladies! Have I not been in love with
several, and has any one of them ever treated me decently? I hate
married women! Do they not hate me? and, simply because I smoke,
try to draw their husbands away from my society? I hate dowagers!
Have I not cause? Does not every dowager in London point to George
Fitz-Boodle as to a dissolute wretch whom young and old should
And yet do not imagine that I have not loved. I have, and madly,
many, many times! I am but eight-and-thirty,* not past the age of
passion, and may very likely end by running off with an heiress--or
a cook-maid (for who knows what strange freaks Love may choose to
play in his own particular person? and I hold a man to be a mean
creature who calculates about checking any such sacred impulse as
lawful love)--I say, though despising the sex in general for their
conduct to me, I know of particular persons belonging to it who are
worthy of all respect and esteem, and as such I beg leave to point
out the particular young lady who is perusing these lines. Do not,
dear madam, then imagine that if I knew you I should be disposed to
sneer at you. Ah, no! Fitz-Boodle's bosom has tenderer sentiments
than from his way of life you would fancy, and stern by rule is
only too soft by practice. Shall I whisper to you the story of one
or two of my attachments? All terminating fatally (not in death,
but in disappointment, which, as it occurred, I used to imagine a
thousand times more bitter than death, but from which one recovers
somehow more readily than from the other-named complaint)--all, I
say, terminating wretchedly to myself, as if some fatality pursued
my desire to become a domestic character.
* He is five-and-forty, if he is a day old.--O. Y.
My first love--no, let us pass THAT over. Sweet one! thy name
shall profane no hireling page. Sweet, sweet memory! Ah, ladies,
those delicate hearts of yours have, too, felt the throb. And
between the last 'ob' in the word throb and the words now written,
I have passed a delicious period of perhaps an hour, perhaps a
minute, I know not how long, thinking of that holy first love and
of her who inspired it. How clearly every single incident of the
passion is remembered by me! and yet 'twas long, long since. I was
but a child then--a child at school--and, if the truth must be
told, L--ra R-ggl-s (I would not write her whole name to be made
one of the Marquess of Hertford's executors) was a woman full
thirteen years older than myself; at the period of which I write
she must have been at least five-and-twenty. She and her mother
used to sell tarts, hard-bake, lollipops, and other such simple
comestibles, on Wednesdays and Saturdays (half-holidays), at a
private school where I received the first rudiments of a classical
education. I used to go and sit before her tray for hours, but I
do not think the poor girl ever supposed any motive led me so
constantly to her little stall beyond a vulgar longing for her
tarts and her ginger-beer. Yes, even at that early period my
actions were misrepresented, and the fatality which has oppressed
my whole life began to show itself,--the purest passion was
misinterpreted by her and my school-fellows, and they thought I
was actuated by simple gluttony. They nicknamed me Alicompayne.
Well, be it so. Laugh at early passion ye who will; a highborn
boy madly in love with a lowly ginger-beer girl! She married
afterwards, took the name of Latter, and now keeps with her old
husband a turnpike, through which I often ride; but I can recollect
her bright and rosy of a sunny summer afternoon, her red cheeks
shaded by a battered straw bonnet, her tarts and ginger-beer upon a
neat white cloth before her, mending blue worsted stockings until
the young gentlemen should interrupt her by coming to buy.
Many persons will call this description low; I do not envy them
their gentility, and have always observed through life (as, to be
sure, every other GENTLEMAN has observed as well as myself) that it
is your parvenu who stickles most for what he calls the genteel,
and has the most squeamish abhorrence for what is frank and
natural. Let us pass at once, however, as all the world must be
pleased, to a recital of an affair which occurred in the very best
circles of society, as they are called, viz, my next unfortunate
It did not occur for several years after that simple and platonic
passion just described: for though they may talk of youth as the
season of romance, it has always appeared to me that there are no
beings in the world so entirely unromantic and selfish as certain
young English gentlemen from the age of fifteen to twenty. The
oldest Lovelace about town is scarcely more hard-hearted and
scornful than they; they ape all sorts of selfishness and rouerie:
they aim at excelling at cricket, at billiards, at rowing, and
drinking, and set more store by a red coat and a neat pair of top-
boots than by any other glory. A young fellow staggers into
college chapel of a morning, and communicates to all his friends
that he was "so CUT last night," with the greatest possible pride.
He makes a joke of having sisters and a kind mother at home who
loves him; and if he speaks of his father, it is with a knowing
sneer to say that he has a tailor's and a horse-dealer's bill that
will surprise "the old governor." He would be ashamed of being in
love. I, in common with my kind, had these affectations, and my
perpetual custom of smoking added not a little to my reputation as
an accomplished roue. What came of this custom in the army and at
college, the reader has already heard. Alas! in life it went no
better with me, and many pretty chances I had went off in that
After quitting the army in the abrupt manner stated, I passed some
short time at home, and was tolerated by my mother-in-law, because
I had formed an attachment to a young lady of good connections and
with a considerable fortune, which was really very nearly becoming
mine. Mary M'Alister was the only daughter of Colonel M'Alister,
late of the Blues, and Lady Susan his wife. Her ladyship was no
more; and, indeed, of no family compared to ours (which has refused
a peerage any time these two hundred years); but being an earl's
daughter and a Scotchwoman, Lady Emily Fitz-Boodle did not fail to
consider her highly. Lady Susan was daughter of the late Admiral
Earl of Marlingspike and Baron Plumduff. The Colonel, Miss
M'Alister's father, had a good estate, of which his daughter was
the heiress, and as I fished her out of the water upon a pleasure-
party, and swam with her to shore, we became naturally intimate,
and Colonel M'Alister forgot, on account of the service rendered to
him, the dreadful reputation for profligacy which I enjoyed in the
Well, to cut a long story short, which is told here merely for the
moral at the end of it, I should have been Fitz-Boodle M'Alister at
this minute most probably, and master of four thousand a year, but
for the fatal cigar-box. I bear Mary no malice in saying that she
was a high-spirited little girl, loving, before all things, her own
way; nay, perhaps I do not, from long habit and indulgence in
tobacco-smoking, appreciate the delicacy of female organizations,
which were oftentimes most painfully affected by it. She was a
keen-sighted little person, and soon found that the world had
belied poor George Fitz-Boodle; who, instead of being the cunning
monster people supposed him to be, was a simple, reckless, good-
humored, honest fellow, marvellously addicted to smoking, idleness,
and telling the truth. She called me Orson, and I was happy enough
on the 14th February, in the year 18-- (it's of no consequence), to
send her such a pretty little copy of verses about Orson and
Valentine, in which the rude habits of the savage man were shown to
be overcome by the polished graces of his kind and brilliant
conqueror, that she was fairly overcome, and said to me, "George
Fitz-Boodle, if you give up smoking for a year, I will marry you."
I swore I would, of course, and went home and flung four pounds of
Hudson's cigars, two meerschaum pipes that had cost me ten guineas
at the establishment of Mr. Gattie at Oxford, a tobacco-bag that
Lady Fitz-Boodle had given me BEFORE her marriage with my father
(it was the only present that I ever had from her or any member of
the Flintskinner family), and some choice packets of Varinas and
Syrian, into the lake in Boodle Park. The weapon amongst them all
which I most regretted was--will it be believed?--the little black
doodheen which had been the cause of the quarrel between Lord
Martingale and me. However, it went along with the others. I
would not allow my groom to have so much as a cigar, lest I should
be tempted hereafter; and the consequence was that a few days after
many fat carps and tenches in the lake (I must confess 'twas no
bigger than a pond) nibbled at the tobacco, and came floating on
their backs on the top of the water quite intoxicated. My
conversion made some noise in the county, being emphasized as it
were by this fact of the fish. I can't tell you with what pangs I
kept my resolution; but keep it I did for some time.
With so much beauty and wealth, Mary M'Alister had of course many
suitors, and among them was the young Lord Dawdley, whose mamma has
previously been described in her gown of red satin. As I used to
thrash Dawdley at school, I thrashed him in after-life in love; he
put up with his disappointment pretty well, and came after a while
and shook hands with me, telling me of the bets that there were in
the county, where the whole story was known, for and against me.
For the fact is, as I must own, that Mary M'Alister, the queerest,
frankest of women, made no secret of the agreement, or the cause of
"I did not care a penny for Orson," she said, "but he would go on
writing me such dear pretty verses that at last I couldn't help
saying yes. But if he breaks his promise to me, I declare, upon my
honor, I'll break mine, and nobody's heart will be broken either."
This was the perfect fact, as I must confess, and I declare that it
was only because she amused me and delighted me, and provoked me,
and made me laugh very much, and because, no doubt, she was very
rich, that I had any attachment for her.
"For heaven's sake, George," my father said to me, as I quitted
home to follow my beloved to London, "remember that you are a
younger brother and have a lovely girl and four thousand a year
within a year's reach of you. Smoke as much as you like, my boy,
after marriage," added the old gentleman, knowingly (as if HE,
honest soul, after his second marriage, dared drink an extra pint
of wine without my lady's permission!) "but eschew the tobacco-
shops till then."
I went to London resolving to act upon the paternal advice, and oh!
how I longed for the day when I should be married, vowing in my
secret soul that I would light a cigar as I walked out of St.
George's, Hanover Square.
Well, I came to London, and so carefully avoided smoking that I
would not even go into Hudson's shop to pay his bill, and as
smoking was not the fashion then among young men as (thank heaven!)
it is now, I had not many temptations from my friends' examples in
my clubs or elsewhere; only little Dawdley began to smoke, as if to
spite me. He had never done so before, but confessed--the rascal!--
that he enjoyed a cigar now, if it were but to mortify me. But I
took to other and more dangerous excitements, and upon the nights
when not in attendance upon Mary M'Alister, might be found in very
dangerous proximity to a polished mahogany table, round which
claret-bottles circulated a great deal too often, or worse still,
to a table covered with green cloth and ornamented with a couple of
wax-candles and a couple of packs of cards, and four gentlemen
playing the enticing game of whist. Likewise, I came to carry a
snuff-box, and to consume in secret huge quantities of rappee.
For ladies' society I was even then disinclined, hating and
despising small-talk, and dancing, and hot routs, and vulgar
scrambles for suppers. I never could understand the pleasure of
acting the part of lackey to a dowager, and standing behind her
chair, or bustling through the crowd for her carriage. I always
found an opera too long by two acts, and have repeatedly fallen
asleep in the presence of Mary M'Alister herself, sitting at the
back of the box shaded by the huge beret of her old aunt, Lady
Betty Plumduff; and many a time has Dawdley, with Miss M'Alister on
his arm, wakened me up at the close of the entertainment in time to
offer my hand to Lady Betty, and lead the ladies to their carriage.
If I attended her occasionally to any ball or party of pleasure, I
went, it must be confessed, with clumsy, ill-disguised ill-humor.
Good heavens! have I often and often thought in the midst of a
song, or the very thick of a ball-room, can people prefer this to a
book and a sofa, and a dear, dear cigar-box, from thy stores, O
charming Mariana Woodville! Deprived of my favorite plant, I grew
sick in mind and body, moody, sarcastic, and discontented.
Such a state of things could not long continue, nor could Miss
M'Alister continue to have much attachment for such a sullen, ill-
conditioned creature as I then was. She used to make me wild with
her wit and her sarcasm, nor have I ever possessed the readiness to
parry or reply to those fine points of woman's wit, and she treated
me the more mercilessly as she saw that I could not resist her.
Well, the polite reader must remember a great fete that was given
at B---- House, some years back, in honor of his Highness the
Hereditary Prince of Kalbsbraten-Pumpernickel, who was then in
London on a visit to his illustrious relatives. It was a fancy
ball, and the poems of Scott being at that time all the fashion,
Mary was to appear in the character of the "Lady of the Lake," old
M'Alister making a very tall and severe-looking harper; Dawdley, a
most insignificant Fitzjames; and your humble servant a stalwart
manly Roderick Dhu. We were to meet at B---- House at twelve
o'clock, and as I had no fancy to drive through the town in my
cab dressed in a kilt and philibeg, I agreed to take a seat in
Dawdley's carriage, and to dress at his house in May Fair. At
eleven I left a very pleasant bachelors' party, growling to quit
them and the honest, jovial claret-bottle, in order to scrape and
cut capers like a harlequin from the theatre. When I arrived at
Dawdley's, I mounted to a dressing-room, and began to array myself
in my cursed costume.
The art of costuming was by no means so well understood in those
days as it has been since, and mine was out of all correctness. I
was made to sport an enormous plume of black ostrich-feathers, such
as never was worn by any Highland chief, and had a huge tiger-skin
sporran to dangle like an apron before innumerable yards of plaid
petticoat. The tartan cloak was outrageously hot and voluminous;
it was the dog-days, and all these things I was condemned to wear
in the midst of a crowd of a thousand people!
Dawdley sent up word, as I was dressing, that his dress had not
arrived, and he took my cab and drove off in a rage to his tailor.
There was no hurry, I thought, to make a fool of myself; so having
put on a pair of plaid trews, and very neat pumps with shoe-
buckles, my courage failed me as to the rest of the dress, and
taking down one of his dressing-gowns, I went down stairs to the
study, to wait until he should arrive.
The windows of the pretty room were open, and a snug sofa, with
innumerable cushions, drawn towards one of them. A great tranquil
moon was staring into the chamber, in which stood, amidst books and
all sorts of bachelor's lumber, a silver tray with a couple of tall
Venice glasses, and a bottle of Maraschino bound with straw. I can
see now the twinkle of the liquor in the moonshine, as I poured it
into the glass; and I swallowed two or three little cups of it, for
my spirits were downcast. Close to the tray of Maraschino stood--
must I say it?--a box, a mere box of cedar, bound rudely together
with pink paper, branded with the name of "Hudson" on the side, and
bearing on the cover the arms of Spain. I thought I would just
take up the box and look in it.
Ah heaven! there they were--a hundred and fifty of them, in calm,
comfortable rows: lovingly side by side they lay, with the great
moon shining down upon them--thin at the tip, full in the waist,
elegantly round and full, a little spot here and there shining upon
them--beauty-spots upon the cheek of Sylvia. The house was quite
quiet. Dawdley always smoked in his room--I had not smoked for
four months and eleven days.
. . . . . .
When Lord Dawdley came into the study, he did not make any remarks;
and oh, how easy my heart felt! He was dressed in his green and
boots, after Westall's picture, correctly.
"It's time to be off, George," said he; "they told me you were
dressed long ago. Come up, my man, and get ready."
I rushed up into the dressing-room, and madly dashed my head and
arms into a pool of eau-de-Cologne. I drank, I believe, a
tumberful of it. I called for my clothes, and, strange to say,
they were gone. My servant brought them, however, saying that he
had put them away--making some stupid excuse. I put them on, not
heeding them much, for I was half tipsy with the excitement of the
ci-- of the smo-- of what had taken place in Dawdley's study, and
with the Maraschino and the eau-de-Cologue I had drunk.
"What a fine odor of lavender-water!" said Dawdley, as we rode in
I put my head out of the window and shrieked out a laugh; but made
no other reply.
"What's the joke, George?" said Dawdley. "Did I say anything
"No," cried I, yelling still more wildly; "nothing more witty than
"Don't be severe, George," said he, with a mortified air; and we
drove on to B---- House.
. . . . . .
There must have been something strange and wild in my appearance,
and those awful black plumes, as I passed through the crowd; for I
observed people looking and making a strange nasal noise (it is
called sniffing, and I have no other more delicate term for it),
and making way as I pushed on. But I moved forward very fiercely,
for the wine, the Maraschino, the eau-de-Cologne, and the--the
excitement had rendered me almost wild; and at length I arrived at
the place where my lovely Lady of the Lake and her Harper stood.
How beautiful she looked,--all eyes were upon her as she stood
blushing. When she saw me, however; her countenance assumed an
appearance of alarm. "Good heavens, George!" she said, stretching
her hand to me, "what makes you look so wild and pale?" I
advanced, and was going to take her hand, when she dropped it
with a scream.
"Ah--ah--ah!" she said. "Mr. Fitz-Boodle, you've been smoking!"
There was an immense laugh from four hundred people round about us,
and the scoundrelly Dawdley joined in the yell. I rushed furiously
out, and, as I passed, hurtled over the fat Hereditary Prince of
"Es riecht hier ungeheuer stark von Tabak!" I heard his Highness
say, as I madly flung myself through the aides-de-camp.
The next day Mary M'Alister, in a note full of the most odious good
sense and sarcasm, reminded me of our agreement; said that she was
quite convinced that we were not by any means fitted for one
another, and begged me to consider myself henceforth quite free.
The little wretch had the impertinence to send me a dozen boxes of
cigars, which, she said, would console me for my lost love; as she
was perfectly certain that I was not mercenary, and that I loved
tobacco better than any woman in the world.
I believe she was right, though I have never to this day been able
to pardon the scoundrelly stratagem by which Dawdley robbed me of a
wife and won one himself. As I was lying on his sofa, looking at
the moon and lost in a thousand happy contemplations, Lord Dawdley,
returning from the tailor's, saw me smoking at my leisure. On
entering his dressing-room, a horrible treacherous thought struck
him. "I must not betray my friend," said he; "but in love all is
fair, and he shall betray himself." There were my tartans, my
cursed feathers, my tiger-skin sporran, upon the sofa.
He called up my groom; he made the rascal put on all my clothes,
and, giving him a guinea and four cigars, bade him lock himself
into the little pantry and smoke them WITHOUT TAKING THE CLOTHES
OFF. John did so, and was very ill in consequence, and so when I
came to B---- House, my clothes were redolent of tobacco, and I
lost lovely Mary M'Alister.
I am godfather to one of Lady Dawdley's boys, and hers is the only
house where I am allowed to smoke unmolested; but I have never been
able to admire Dawdley, a sly, sournois, spiritless, lily-livered
fellow, that took his name off all his clubs the year he married.
Beyond sparring and cricket, I do not recollect I learned anything
useful at Slaughter-House School, where I was educated (according
to an old family tradition, which sends particular generations of
gentlemen to particular schools in the kingdom; and such is the
force of habit, that though I hate the place, I shall send my own
son thither too, should I marry any day). I say I learned little
that was useful at Slaughter House, and nothing that was ornamental.
I would as soon have thought of learning to dance as of learning to
climb chimneys. Up to the age of seventeen, as I have shown, I had
a great contempt for the female race, and when age brought with it
warmer and juster sentiments, where was I?--I could no more dance
nor prattle to a young girl than a young bear could. I have seen
the ugliest little low-bred wretches carrying off young and lovely
creatures, twirling with them in waltzes, whispering between their
glossy curls in quadrilles, simpering with perfect equanimity, and
cutting pas in that abominable "cavalier seul," until my soul grew
sick with fury. In a word, I determined to learn to dance.
But such things are hard to be acquired late in life, when the
bones and the habits of a man are formed. Look at a man in a
hunting-field who has not been taught to ride as a boy. All the
pluck and courage in the world will not make the man of him that I
am, or as any man who has had the advantages of early education in
In the same way with dancing. Though I went to work with immense
energy, both in Brewer Street, Golden Square (with an advertising
fellow), and afterwards with old Coulon at Paris, I never was able
to be EASY in dancing; and though little Coulon instructed me in a
smile, it was a cursed forced one, that looked like the grin of a
person in extreme agony. I once caught sight of it in a glass, and
have hardly ever smiled since.
Most young men about London have gone through that strange secret
ordeal of the dancing-school. I am given to understand that young
snobs from attorneys' offices, banks, shops, and the like, make not
the least mystery of their proceedings in the saltatory line, but
trip gayly, with pumps in hand, to some dancing-place about Soho,
waltz and quadrille it with Miss Greengrocer or Miss Butcher, and
fancy they have had rather a pleasant evening. There is one house
in Dover Street, where, behind a dirty curtain, such figures may be
seen hopping every night, to a perpetual fiddling; and I have stood
sometimes wondering in the street, with about six blackguard boys
wondering too, at the strange contortions of the figures jumping up
and down to the mysterious squeaking of the kit. Have they no
shame ces gens? are such degrading initiations to be held in
public? No, the snob may, but the man of refined mind never can
submit to show himself in public laboring at the apprenticeship of
this most absurd art. It is owing, perhaps, to this modesty, and
the fact that I had no sisters at home, that I have never
thoroughly been able to dance; for though I always arrive at the
end of a quadrille (and thank heaven for it too!) and though, I
believe, I make no mistake in particular, yet I solemnly confess I
have never been able thoroughly to comprehend the mysteries of it,
or what I have been about from the beginning to the end of the
dance. I always look at the lady opposite, and do as she does: if
SHE did not know how to dance, par hasard, it would be all up. But
if they can't do anything else, women can dance: let us give them
that praise at least.
In London, then, for a considerable time, I used to get up at eight
o'clock in the morning, and pass an hour alone with Mr. Wilkinson,
of the Theatres Royal, in Golden Square;--an hour alone. It was
"one, two, three; one, two, three--now jump--right foot more out,
Mr. Smith; and if you COULD try and look a little more cheerful;
your partner, sir, would like you hall the better." Wilkinson
called me Smith, for the fact is, I did not tell him my real name,
nor (thank heaven!) does he know it to this day.
I never breathed a word of my doings to any soul among my friends;
once a pack of them met me in the strange neighborhood, when, I am
ashamed to say, I muttered something about a "little French
milliner," and walked off, looking as knowing as I could.
In Paris, two Cambridge-men and myself, who happened to be staying
at a boarding-house together, agreed to go to Coulon, a little
creature of four feet high with a pigtail. His room was hung round
with glasses. He made us take off our coats, and dance each before
a mirror. Once he was standing before us playing on his kit the
sight of the little master and the pupil was so supremely ridiculous,
that I burst into a yell of laughter, which so offended the old man
that he walked away abruptly, and begged me not to repeat my visits.
Nor did I. I was just getting into waltzing then, but determined to
drop waltzing, and content myself with quadrilling for the rest of
This was all very well in France and England; but in Germany what
was I to do? What did Hercules do when Omphale captivated him?
What did Rinaldo do when Armida fixed upon him her twinkling eyes?
Nay, to cut all historical instances short, by going at once to the
earliest, what did Adam do when Eve tempted him? He yielded and
became her slave; and so I do heartily trust every honest man will
yield until the end of the world--he has no heart who will not.
When I was in Germany, I say, I began to learn to WALTZ. The
reader from this will no doubt expect that some new love-adventures
befell me--nor will his gentle heart be disappointed. Two deep and
tremendous incidents occurred which shall be notified on the
The reader, perhaps, remembers the brief appearance of his Highness
the Duke of Kalbsbraten-Pumpernickel at B---- House, in the first
part of my Memoirs, at that unlucky period of my life when the Duke
was led to remark the odor about my clothes, which lost me the hand
of Mary M'Alister. I somehow found myself in his Highness's
territories, of which anybody may read a description in the
Almanach de Gotha. His Highness's father, as is well known,
married Emilia Kunegunda Thomasina Charleria Emanuela Louisa
Georgina, Princess of Saxe-Pumpernickel, and a cousin of his
Highness the Duke. Thus the two principalities were united under
one happy sovereign in the person of Philibert Sigismund Emanuel
Maria, the reigning Duke, who has received from his country (on
account of the celebrated pump which he erected in the marketplace
of Kalbsbraten) the well-merited appellation of the Magnificent.
The allegory which the statues round about the pump represent, is
of a very mysterious and complicated sort. Minerva is observed
leading up Ceres to a river-god, who has his arms round the neck of
Pomona; while Mars (in a full-bottomed wig) is driven away by
Peace, under whose mantle two lovely children, representing the
Duke's two provinces, repose. The celebrated Speck is, as need
scarcely be said, the author of this piece; and of other
magnificent edifices in the Residenz, such as the guard-room, the
skittle-hall Grossherzoglich Kalbsbratenpumpernickelisch
Schkittelspielsaal), &c., and the superb sentry-boxes before the
Grand-Ducal Palace. He is Knight Grand Cross of the Ancient
Kartoffel Order, as, indeed, is almost every one else in his
The town of Kalbsbraten contains a population of two thousand
inhabitants, and a palace which would accommodate about six times
that number. The principality sends three and a half men to the
German Confederation, who are commanded by a General (Excellency),
two Major-Generals, and sixty-four officers of lower grades; all
noble, all knights of the Order, and almost all chamberlains to his
Highness the Grand Duke. An excellent band of eighty performers is
the admiration of the surrounding country, and leads the Grand-
Ducal troops to battle in time of war. Only three of the contingent
of soldiers returned from the Battle of Waterloo, where they won
much honor; the remainder was cut to pieces on that glorious day.
There is a chamber of representatives (which, however, nothing can
induce to sit), home and foreign ministers, residents from
neighboring courts, law presidents, town councils, &c., all the
adjuncts of a big or little government. The court has its
chamberlains and marshals, the Grand Duchess her noble ladies in
waiting, and blushing maids of honor. Thou wert one, Dorothea!
Dost remember the poor young Englander? We parted in anger; but I
think--I think thou hast not forgotten him.
The way in which I have Dorothea von Speck present to my mind is
this: not as I first saw her in the garden--for her hair was in
bandeaux then, and a large Leghorn hat with a deep ribbon covered
half her fair face,--not in a morning-dress, which, by the way, was
none of the newest nor the best made--but as I saw her afterwards
at a ball at the pleasant splendid little court, where she moved
the most beautiful of the beauties of Kalbsbraten. The grand
saloon of the palace is lighted--the Grand Duke and his officers,
the Duchess and her ladies, have passed through. I, in my uniform,
of the --th, and a number of young fellows (who are evidently
admiring my legs and envying my distingue appearance), are waiting
round the entrance-door, where a huge Heyduke is standing, and
announcing the titles of the guests as they arrive.
"HERR OBERHOF- UND BAU-INSPEKTOR VON SPECK!" shouts the Heyduke;
and the little Inspector comes in. His lady is on his arm huge, in
towering plumes, and her favorite costume of light blue. Fair
women always dress in light blue or light green; and Frau von Speck
is very fair and stout.
But who comes behind her? Lieber Himmel! It is Dorothea! Did
earth, among all the flowers which have sprung from its bosom,
produce ever one more beautiful? She was none of your heavenly
beauties, I tell you. She had nothing ethereal about her. No,
sir; she was of the earth earthy, and must have weighed ten stone
four or five, if she weighed an ounce. She had none of your
Chinese feet, nor waspy, unhealthy waists, which those may admire
who will. No: Dora's foot was a good stout one; you could see her
ankle (if her robe was short enough) without the aid of a
microscope; and that envious little, sour, skinny Amalia von
Mangelwurzel used to hold up her four fingers and say (the two
girls were most intimate friends of course), "Dear Dorothea's vaist
is so much dicker as dis." And so I have no doubt it was.
But what then? Goethe sings in one of his divine epigrams:--
"Epicures vaunting their taste, entitle me vulgar and savage,
Give them their Brussels-sprouts, but I am contented with cabbage."
I hate your little women--that is, when I am in love with a tall
one; and who would not have loved Dorothea?
Fancy her, then, if you please, about five feet four inches high--
fancy her in the family color of light blue, a little scarf
covering the most brilliant shoulders in the world; and a pair of
gloves clinging close round an arm that may, perhaps, be somewhat
too large now, but that Juno might have envied then. After the
fashion of young ladies on the continent, she wears no jewels or
gimcracks: her only ornament is a wreath of vine-leaves in her
hair, with little clusters of artificial grapes. Down on her
shoulders falls the brown hair, in rich liberal clusters; all that
health, and good-humor, and beauty can do for her face, kind nature
has done for hers. Her eyes are frank, sparkling, and kind. As
for her cheeks, what paint-box or dictionary contains pigments or
words to describe their red? They say she opens her mouth and
smiles always to show the dimples in her cheeks. Psha! she smiles
because she is happy, and kind, and good-humored, and not because
her teeth are little pearls.
All the young fellows crowd up to ask her to dance, and, taking
from her waist a little mother-of-pearl remembrancer, she notes
them down. Old Schnabel for the polonaise; Klingenspohr, first
waltz; Haarbart, second waltz; Count Hornpieper (the Danish envoy),
third; and so on. I have said why I could not ask her to waltz,
and I turned away with a pang, and played ecarte with Colonel
Trumpenpack all night.
In thus introducing this lovely creature in her ball-costume, I
have been somewhat premature, and had best go back to the beginning
of the history of my acquaintance with her.
Dorothea, then, was the daughter of the celebrated Speck before
mentioned. It is one of the oldest names in Germany, where her
father's and mother's houses, those of Speck and Eyer, are loved
wherever they are known. Unlike his warlike progenitor, Lorenzo
von Speck, Dorothea's father, had early shown himself a passionate
admirer of art; had quitted home to study architecture in Italy,
and had become celebrated throughout Europe, and been appointed
Oberhofarchitect and Kunst- und Bau-inspektor of the united
principalities. They are but four miles wide, and his genius has
consequently but little room to play. What art can do, however, he
does. The palace is frequently whitewashed under his eyes; the
theatre painted occasionally; the noble public buildings erected,
of which I have already made mention.
I had come to Kalbsbraten, scarce knowing whither I went; and
having, in about ten minutes, seen the curiosities of the place (I
did not care to see the King's palace, for chairs and tables have
no great charm for me), I had ordered horses, and wanted to get on
I cared not whither, when Fate threw Dorothea in my way. I was
yawning back to the hotel through the palace-garden, a valet-de-
place at my side, when I saw a young lady seated under a tree
reading a novel, her mamma on the same bench (a fat woman in light
blue) knitting a stocking, and two officers, choked in their stays,
with various orders on their spinach-colored coats, standing by in
first attitudes: the one was caressing the fat-lady-in-blue's
little dog; the other was twirling his own moustache, which was
already as nearly as possible curled into his own eye.
I don't know how it is, but I hate to see men evidently intimate
with nice-looking women, and on good terms with themselves.
There's something annoying in their cursed complacency--their
evident sunshiny happiness. I've no woman to make sunshine for ME;
and yet my heart tells me that not one, but several such suns,
would do good to my system.
"Who are those pert-looking officers," says I, peevishly, to the
guide, "who are talking to those vulgar-looking women?"
"The big one, with the epaulets, is Major von Schnabel; the little
one, with the pale face, is Stiefel von Klingenspohr."
"And the big blue woman?"
"The Grand-Ducal Pumpernickelian-court-architectress and Upper-
Palace-and-building-inspectress Von Speck, born V. Eyer," replied
the guide. "Your well-born honor has seen the pump in the market-
place; that is the work of the great Von Speck."
"And yonder young person?"
"Mr. Court-architect's daughter; the Fraulein Dorothea."
. . . . . .
Dorothea looked up from her novel here, and turned her face towards
the stranger who was passing, and then blushing turned it down
again. Schnabel looked at me with a scowl, Klingenspohr with a
simper, the dog with a yelp, the fat lady in blue just gave one
glance, and seemed, I thought, rather well pleased. "Silence,
Lischen!" said she to the dog. "Go on, darling Dorothea," she
added, to her daughter, who continued her novel.
Her voice was a little tremulous, but very low and rich. For some
reason or other, on getting back to the inn, I countermanded the
horses, and said I would stay for the night.
I not only stayed that night, but many, many afterwards; and as for
the manner in which I became acquainted with the Speck family, why
it was a good joke against me at the time, and I did not like then
to have it known; but now it may as well come out at once. Speck,
as everybody knows, lives in the market-place, opposite his grand
work of art, the town pump, or fountain. I bought a large sheet of
paper, and having a knack at drawing, sat down, with the greatest
gravity, before the pump, and sketched it for several hours. I
knew it would bring out old Speck to see. At first he contented
himself by flattening his nose against the window-glasses of his
study, and looking what the Englander was about. Then he put on
his gray cap with the huge green shade, and sauntered to the door:
then he walked round me, and formed one of a band of street-idlers
who were looking on: then at last he could restrain himself no
more, but, pulling off his cap, with a low bow, began to discourse
upon arts, and architecture in particular.
"It is curious," says he, "that you have taken the same view of
which a print has been engraved."
"That IS extraordinary," says I (though it wasn't, for I had traced
my drawing at a window off the very print in question). I added
that I was, like all the world, immensely struck with the beauty of
the edifice; heard of it at Rome, where it was considered to be
superior to any of the celebrated fountains of that capital of the
fine arts; finally, that unless perhaps the celebrated fountain of
Aldgate in London might compare with it, Kalbsbraten building,
EXCEPT in that case, was incomparable.
This speech I addressed in French, of which the worthy Hofarchitect
understood somewhat, and continuing to reply in German, our
conversation grew pretty close. It is singular that I can talk to
a man and pay him compliments with the utmost gravity, whereas, to
a woman, I at once lose all self-possession, and have never said a
pretty thing in my life.
My operations on old Speck were so conducted, that in a quarter of
an hour I had elicited from him an invitation to go over the town
with him, and see its architectural beauties. So we walked through
the huge half-furnished chambers of the palace, we panted up the
copper pinnacle of the church-tower, we went to see the Museum and
Gymnasium, and coming back into the market-place again, what could
the Hofarchitect do but offer me a glass of wine and a seat in his
house? He introduced me to his Gattinn, his Leocadia (the fat
woman in blue), "as a young world-observer, and worthy art-friend,
a young scion of British Adel, who had come to refresh himself at
the Urquellen of his race, and see his brethren of the great family
I saw instantly that the old fellow was of a romantic turn, from
this rodomontade to his lady; nor was she a whit less so; nor was
Dorothea less sentimental than her mamma. She knew everything
regarding the literature of Albion, as she was pleased to call it;
and asked me news of all the famous writers there. I told her that
Miss Edgeworth was one of the loveliest young beauties at our
court; I described to her Lady Morgan, herself as beautiful as the
wild Irish girl she drew; I promised to give her a signature of
Mrs. Hemans (which I wrote for her that very evening); and
described a fox-hunt, at which I had seen Thomas Moore and Samuel
Rogers, Esquires; and a boxing-match, in which the athletic author
of "Pelham" was pitched against the hardy mountain bard,
Wordsworth. You see my education was not neglected, for though I
have never read the works of the above-named ladies and gentlemen,
yet I knew their names well enough.
Time passed away. I, perhaps, was never so brilliant in
conversation as when excited by the Asmanshauser and the brilliant
eyes of Dorothea that day. She and her parents had dined at their
usual heathen hour; but I was, I don't care to own it, so smitten,
that for the first time in my life I did not even miss the meal,
and talked on until six o'clock, when tea was served. Madame Speck
said they always drank it; and so placing a teaspoonful of bohea in
a cauldron of water, she placidly handed out this decoction, which
we took with cakes and tartines. I leave you to imagine how
disgusted Klingenspohr and Schnabel looked when they stepped in as
usual that evening to make their party of whist with the Speck
family! Down they were obliged to sit; and the lovely Dorothea,
for that night, declined to play altogether, and--sat on the sofa
What we talked about, who shall tell? I would not, for my part,
break the secret of one of those delicious conversations, of which
I and every man in his time have held so many. You begin, very
probably, about the weather--'tis a common subject, but what
sentiments the genius of Love can fling into it! I have often, for
my part, said to the girl of my heart for the time being, "It's a
fine day," or "It's a rainy morning!" in a way that has brought
tears to her eyes. Something beats in your heart, and twangle! a
corresponding string thrills and echoes in hers. You offer her
anything--her knitting-needles, a slice of bread-and-butter--what
causes the grateful blush with which she accepts the one or the
other? Why, she sees your heart handed over to her upon the
needles, and the bread-and-butter is to her a sandwich with love
inside it. If you say to your grandmother, "Ma'am, it's a fine
day," or what not, she would find in the words no other meaning
than their outward and visible one; but say so to the girl you
love, and she understands a thousand mystic meanings in them.
Thus, in a word, though Dorothea and I did not, probably, on the
first night of our meeting, talk of anything more than the weather,
or trumps, or some subjects which to such listeners as Schnabel and
Klingenspohr and others might appear quite ordinary, yet to US they
had a different signification, of which Love alone held the key.
Without further ado then, after the occurrences of that evening, I
determined on staying at Kalbsbraten, and presenting my card the
next day to the Hof-Marshal, requesting to have the honor of being
presented to his Highness the Prince, at one of whose court-balls
my Dorothea appeared as I have described her.
It was summer when I first arrived at Kalbsbraten. The little
court was removed to Siegmundslust, his Highness's country-seat: no
balls were taking place, and, in consequence, I held my own with
Dorothea pretty well. I treated her admirer, Lieutenant
Klingenspohr, with perfect scorn, had a manifest advantage over
Major Schnabel, and used somehow to meet the fair one every day,
walking in company with her mamma in the palace garden, or sitting
under the acacias, with Belotte in her mother's lap, and the
favorite romance beside her. Dear, dear Dorothea! what a number of
novels she must have read in her time! She confesses to me that
she had been in love with Uncas, with Saint Preux, with Ivanhoe,
and with hosts of German heroes of romance; and when I asked her if
she, whose heart was so tender towards imaginary youths, had never
had a preference for any one of her living adorers, she only
looked, and blushed, and sighed, and said nothing.
You see I had got on as well as man could do, until the confounded
court season and the balls began, and then--why, then came my usual
Waltzing is a part of a German girl's life. With the best will in
the world--which, I doubt not, she entertains for me, for I never
put the matter of marriage directly to her--Dorothea could not go
to balls and not waltz. It was madness to me to see her whirling
round the room with officers, attaches, prim little chamberlains
with gold keys and embroidered coats, her hair floating in the
wind, her hand reposing upon the abominable little dancer's
epaulet, her good-humored face lighted up with still greater
satisfaction. I saw that I must learn to waltz too, and took my
The leader of the ballet at the Kalbsbraten theatre in my time was
Springbock, from Vienna. He had been a regular zephyr once, 'twas
said, in his younger days; and though he is now fifteen stone
weight, I can, helas! recommend him conscientiously as a master;
and I determined to take some lessons from him in the art which I
had neglected so foolishly in early life.
It may be said, without vanity, that I was an apt pupil, and in the
course of half a dozen lessons I had arrived at very considerable
agility in the waltzing line, and could twirl round the room with
him at such a pace as made the old gentleman pant again, and hardly
left him breath enough to puff out a compliment to his pupil. I
may say, that in a single week I became an expert waltzer; but as I
wished, when I came out publicly in that character, to be quite
sure of myself, and as I had hitherto practised not with a lady,
but with a very fat old man, it was agreed that he should bring a
lady of his acquaintance to perfect me, and accordingly, at my
eighth lesson, Madame Springbock herself came to the dancing-room,
and the old zephyr performed on the violin.
If any man ventures the least sneer with regard to this lady, or
dares to insinuate anything disrespectful to her or myself, I say
at once that he is an impudent calumniator. Madame Springbock is
old enough to be my grandmother, and as ugly a woman as I ever saw;
but, though old, she was passionnee pour la danse, and not having
(on account, doubtless, of her age and unprepossessing appearance)
many opportunities of indulging in her favorite pastime, made up
for lost time by immense activity whenever she could get a partner.
In vain, at the end of the hour, would Springbock exclaim, "Amalia,
my soul's blessing, the time is up!" "Play on, dear Alphonso!"
would the old lady exclaim, whisking me round: and though I had not
the least pleasure in such a homely partner, yet for the sake of
perfecting myself I waltzed and waltzed with her, until we were
both half dead with fatigue.
At the end of three weeks I could waltz as well as any man in
At the end of four weeks there was a grand ball at court in honor
of H. H. the Prince of Dummerland and his Princess, and THEN I
determined I would come out in public. I dressed myself with
unusual care and splendor. My hair was curled and my moustache
dyed to a nicety; and of the four hundred gentlemen present, if the
girls of Kalbsbraten DID select one who wore an English hussar
uniform, why should I disguise the fact? In spite of my silence,
the news had somehow got abroad, as news will in such small towns,--
Herr von Fitz-Boodle was coming out in a waltz that evening. His
Highness the Duke even made an allusion to the circumstance. When
on this eventful night, I went, as usual, and made him my bow in
the presentation, "Vous, monsieur," said he--"vous qui etes si
jeune, devez aimer la danse." I blushed as red as my trousers, and
bowing, went away.
I stepped up to Dorothea. Heavens! how beautiful she looked! and
how archly she smiled as, with a thumping heart, I asked her hand
for a WALTZ! She took out her little mother-of-pearl dancing-book,
she wrote down my name with her pencil: we were engaged for the
fourth waltz, and till then I left her to other partners.
Who says that his first waltz is not a nervous moment? I vow I was
more excited than by any duel I ever fought. I would not dance any
contre-danse or galop. I repeatedly went to the buffet and got
glasses of punch (dear simple Germany! 'tis with rum-punch and egg-
flip thy children strengthen themselves for the dance!) I went into
the ball-room and looked--the couples bounded before me, the music
clashed and rung in my ears--all was fiery, feverish, indistinct.
The gleaming white columns, the polished oaken floors in which the
innumerable tapers were reflected--all together swam before my
eyes, and I was in a pitch of madness almost when the fourth waltz
at length came. "WILL YOU DANCE WITH YOUR SWORD ON?" said the
sweetest voice in the world. I blushed, and stammered, and
trembled, as I laid down that weapon and my cap, and hark! the
Oh, how my hand trembled as I placed it round the waist of Dorothea!
With my left hand I took her right--did she squeeze it? I think she
did--to this day I think she did. Away we went! we tripped over the
polished oak floor like two young fairies. "Courage, monsieur," said
she, with her sweet smile. Then it was "Tres bien, monsieur." Then
I heard the voices humming and buzzing about. "Il danse bien,
l'Anglais." "Ma foi, oui," says another. On we went, twirling and
twisting, and turning and whirling; couple after couple dropped
panting off. Little Klingenspohr himself was obliged to give in.
All eyes were upon us--we were going round ALONE. Dorothea was
almost exhausted, when
* * * * * *
I have been sitting for two hours since I marked the asterisks,
thinking--thinking. I have committed crimes in my life--who
hasn't? But talk of remorse, what remorse is there like THAT which
rushes up in a flood to my brain sometimes when I am alone, and
causes me to blush when I'm a-bed in the dark?
I fell, sir, on that infernal slippery floor. Down we came like
shot; we rolled over and over in the midst of the ballroom, the
music going ten miles an hour, 800 pairs of eyes fixed upon us, a
cursed shriek of laughter bursting out from all sides. Heavens!
how clear I heard it, as we went on rolling and rolling! "My
child! my Dorothea!" shrieked out Madame Speck, rushing forward,
and as soon as she had breath to do so, Dorothea of course screamed
too; then she fainted, then she was disentangled from out my spurs,
and borne off by a bevy of tittering women. "Clumsy brute!" said
Madame Speck, turning her fat back upon me. I remained upon my
seant, wild, ghastly, looking about. It was all up with me--I knew
it was. I wished I could have died there, and I wish so still.
Klingenspohr married her, that is the long and short; but before
that event I placed a sabre-cut across the young scoundrel's nose,
which destroyed HIS beauty for ever.
O Dorothea! you can't forgive me--you oughtn't to forgive me; but I
love you madly still.
My next flame was Ottilia: but let us keep her for another number;
my feelings overpower me at present.
THE ALBUM--THE MEDITERRANEAN HEATH.
Travelling some little time back in a wild part of Connemara, where
I had been for fishing and seal-shooting, I had the good luck to
get admission to the chateau of a hospitable Irish gentleman, and
to procure some news of my once dear Ottilia.
Yes, of no other than Ottilia v. Schlippenschlopp, the Muse of
Kalbsbraten-Pumpernickel, the friendly little town far away in
Sachsenland,--where old Speck built the town pump, where
Klingenspohr was slashed across the nose,--where Dorothea rolled
over and over in that horrible waltz with Fitz-Boo-- Psha!--away
with the recollection; but wasn't it strange to get news of Ottilia
in the wildest corner of Ireland, where I never should have thought
to hear her gentle name? Walking on that very Urrisbeg Mountain
under whose shadow I heard Ottilia's name, Mackay, the learned
author of the "Flora Patlandica," discovered the Mediterranean
heath,--such a flower as I have often plucked on the sides of
Vesuvius, and as Proserpine, no doubt, amused herself in gathering
as she strayed in the fields of Enna. Here it is--the self-same
flower, peering out at the Atlantic from Roundstone Bay; here, too,
in this wild lonely place, nestles the fragrant memory of my
In a word, after a day on Ballylynch Lake (where, with a brown fly
and a single hair, I killed fourteen salmon, the smallest twenty-
nine pounds weight, the largest somewhere about five stone ten), my
young friend Blake Bodkin Lynch Browne (a fine lad who has made his
continental tour) and I adjourned, after dinner, to the young
gentleman's private room, for the purpose of smoking a certain
cigar; which is never more pleasant than after a hard day's sport,
or a day spent in-doors, or after a good dinner, or a bad one, or
at night when you are tired, or in the morning when you are fresh,
or of a cold winter's day, or of a scorching summer's afternoon, or
at any other moment you choose to fix upon.
What should I see in Blake's room but a rack of pipes, such as are
to be found in almost all the bachelors' rooms in Germany, and
amongst them was a porcelain pipe-head bearing the image of the
Kalbsbraten pump! There it was: the old spout, the old familiar
allegory of Mars, Bacchus, Apollo virorum, and the rest, that I had
so often looked at from Hofarchitect Speck's window, as I sat
there, by the side of Dorothea. The old gentleman had given me one
of these very pipes; for he had hundreds of them painted, wherewith
he used to gratify almost every stranger who came into his native
Any old place with which I have once been familiar (as, perhaps, I
have before stated in these "Confessions"--but never mind that) is
in some sort dear to me: and were I Lord Shootingcastle or Colonel
Popland, I think after a residence of six months there I should
love the Fleet Prison. As I saw the old familiar pipe, I took it
down, and crammed it with Cavendish tobacco, and lay down on a
sofa, and puffed away for an hour wellnigh, thinking of old, old
"You're very entertaining to-night, Fitz," says young Blake, who
had made several tumblers of punch for me, which I had gulped down
without saying a word. "Don't ye think ye'd be more easy in bed
than snorting and sighing there on my sofa, and groaning fit to
make me go hang myself?"
"I am thinking, Blake," says I, "about Pumpernickel, where old
Speck gave you this pipe."
"'Deed he did," replies the young man; "and did ye know the old
"I did," said I. "My friend, I have been by the banks of the
Bendemeer. Tell me, are the nightingales still singing there, and
do the roses still bloom?"
"The HWHAT?" cries Blake. "What the divvle, Fitz, are you growling
about? Bendemeer Lake's in Westmoreland, as I preshume; and as for
roses and nightingales, I give ye my word it's Greek ye're talking
to me." And Greek it very possibly was, for my young friend,
though as good across country as any man in his county, has not the
fine feeling and tender perception of beauty which may be found
elsewhere, dear madam.
"Tell me about Speck, Blake, and Kalbsbraten, and Dorothea, and
Klingenspohr her husband."
"He with the cut across the nose, is it?" cries Blake. "I know him
well, and his old wife."
"His old what, sir!" cries Fitz-Boodle, jumping up from his seat.
"Klingenspohr's wife old!--is he married again?--Is Dorothea, then,
"Dead!--no more dead than you are, only I take her to be five-and-
thirty. And when a woman has had nine children, you know, she
looks none the younger; and I can tell ye that when she trod on my
corruns at a ball at the Grand Juke's, I felt something heavier
than a feather on my foot."
"Madame de Klingenspohr, then," replied I, hesitating somewhat,
"has grown rather--rather st-st-out?" I could hardly get out the
OUT, and trembled I don't know why as I asked the question.
"Stout, begad!--she weighs fourteen stone, saddle and bridle.
That's right, down goes my pipe; flop! crash falls the tumbler into
the fender! Break away, my boy, and remember, whoever breaks a
glass here pays a dozen."
The fact was, that the announcement of Dorothea's changed condition
caused no small disturbance within me, and I expressed it in the
abrupt manner mentioned by young Blake.
Roused thus from my reverie, I questioned the young fellow about
his residence at Kalbsbraten, which has been always since the war a
favorite place for our young gentry, and heard with some satisfaction
that Potzdorff was married to the Behrenstein, Haabart had left the
dragoons, the Crown Prince had broken with the ---- but mum! of what
interest are all these details to the reader, who has never been at
friendly little Kalbsbraten?
Presently Lynch reaches me down one of the three books that formed
his library (the "Racing Calendar" and a book of fishing-flies
making up the remainder of the set). "And there's my album," says
he. "You'll find plenty of hands in it that you'll recognize, as
you are an old Pumpernickelaner." And so I did, in truth: it was a
little book after the fashion of German albums, in which good
simple little ledger every friend or acquaintance of the owner
inscribes a poem or stanza from some favorite poet or philosopher
with the transcriber's own name, as thus:--
"To the true house-friend, and beloved Irelandish youth.
"'Sera nunquam est ad bonos mores via.'
WACKERBART, Professor at the Grand-Ducal Kalbsbraten-Pumpernickelisch
"'Wander on roses and forget me not.'
AMALIA v. NACHTMUTZE,
GEB. v. SHALAFROCK,"
with a flourish, and the picture mayhap of a rose. Let the reader
imagine some hundreds of these interesting inscriptions, and he
will have an idea of the book.
Turning over the leaves I came presently on DOROTHEA'S hand. There
it was, the little neat, pretty handwriting, the dear old up-and-
down strokes that I had not looked at for many a long year,--the
Mediterranean heath, which grew on the sunniest banks of Fitz-
Boodle's existence, and here found, dear, dear little sprig! in
rude Galwagian bog-lands.
"Look at the other side of the page," says Lynch, rather
sarcastically (for I don't care to confess that I kissed the name
of "Dorothea v. Klingenspohr, born v. Speck" written under an
extremely feeble passage of verse). "Look at the other side of the
I did, and what do you think I saw?
I saw the writing of five of the little Klingenspohrs, who have all
sprung up since my time.
. . . . . .
"Ha! ha! haw!" screamed the impertinent young Irishman, and the
story was all over Connemara and Joyce's Country in a day after.
OTTILIA IN PARTICULAR.
Some kind critic who peruses these writings will, doubtless, have
the goodness to point out that the simile of the Mediterranean
heath is applied to two personages in this chapter--to Ottilia and
Dorothea, and say, Psha! the fellow is but a poor unimaginative
creature not to be able to find a simile apiece at least for the
girls; how much better would WE have done the business!
Well, it is a very pretty simile. The girls were rivals, were
beautiful, I loved them both,--which should have the sprig of
heath? Mr. Cruikshank (who has taken to serious painting) is
getting ready for the exhibition a fine piece, representing Fitz-
Boodle on the Urrisbeg Mountain, county Galway, Ireland, with a
sprig of heath in his hand, hesitating, like Paris, on which of the
beauties he should bestow it. In the background is a certain
animal between two bundles of hay; but that I take to represent the
critic, puzzled to which of my young beauties to assign the choice.
If Dorothea had been as rich as Miss Coutts, and had come to me the
next day after the accident at the ball and said, "George, will you
marry me?" it must not be supposed I would have done any such
thing. THAT dream had vanished for ever: rage and pride took the
place of love; and the only chance I had of recovering from my
dreadful discomfiture was by bearing it bravely, and trying, if
possible, to awaken a little compassion in my favor. I limped home
(arranging my scheme with great presence of mind, as I actually
sat spinning there on the ground)--I limped home, sent for
Pflastersticken, the court-surgeon, and addressed him to the
following effect: "Pflastersticken," says I, "there has been an
accident at court of which you will hear. You will send in
leeches, pills, and the deuce knows what, and you will say that I
have dislocated my leg: for some days you will state that I am in
considerable danger. You are a good fellow and a man of courage I
know, for which very reason you can appreciate those qualities in
another; so mind, if you breathe a word of my secret, either you or
I must lose a life."
Away went the surgeon, and the next day all Kalbsbraten knew that I
was on the point of death: I had been delirious all night, had had
eighty leeches, besides I don't know how much medicine; but the
Kalbsbrateners knew to a scruple. Whenever anybody was ill, this
little kind society knew what medicines were prescribed. Everybody
in the town knew what everybody had for dinner. If Madame Rumpel
had her satin dyed ever so quietly, the whole society was on the
qui vive; if Countess Pultuski sent to Berlin for a new set of
teeth, not a person in Kalbsbraten but what was ready to compliment
her as she put them on; if Potzdorff paid his tailor's bill, or
Muffinstein bought a piece of black wax for his moustaches, it was
the talk of the little city. And so, of course, was my accident.
In their sorrow for my misfortune, Dorothea's was quite forgotten,
and those eighty leeches saved me. I became interesting; I had
cards left at my door; and I kept my room for a fortnight, during
which time I read every one of M. Kotzebue's plays.
At the end of that period I was convalescent, though still a little
lame. I called at old Speck's house and apologized for my
clumsiness, with the most admirable coolness; I appeared at court,
and stated calmly that I did not intend to dance any more; and when
Klingenspohr grinned, I told that young gentleman such a piece of
my mind as led to his wearing a large sticking-plaster patch on his
nose: which was split as neatly down the middle as you would split
an orange at dessert. In a word what man could do to repair my
defeat, I did.
There is but one thing now of which I am ashamed--of those killing
epigrams which I wrote (mon Dieu! must I own it?--but even the fury
of my anger proves the extent of my love!) against the Speck
family. They were handed about in confidence at court, and made a
"IS IT POSSIBLE?"
"There happened at Schloss P-mp-rn-ckel,
A strange mishap our sides to tickle,
And set the people in a roar;--
A strange caprice of Fortune fickle:
I never thought at Pumpernickel
To see a SPECK UPON THE FLOOR)"
LA PERFIDE ALBION; OR, A CAUTION TO WALTZERS.
"'Come to the dance,' the Briton said,
And forward D-r-th-a led,
Fair, fresh, and three-and-twenty!
Ah, girls; beware of Britons red!
What wonder that it TURNED HER HEAD?
SAT VERBUM SAPIENTI."
"REASONS FOR NOT MARRYING.
"'The lovely Miss S.
Will surely say "yes,"
You've only to ask and try;'
'That subject we'll quit;'
Says Georgy the wit,
'I'VE A MUCH BETTER SPEC IN MY EYE!'"
This last epigram especially was voted so killing that it flew like
wildfire; and I know for a fact that our Charge-d'Affaires at
Kalbsbraten sent a courier express with it to the Foreign Office in
England, whence, through our amiable Foreign Secretary, Lord
P-lm-rston, it made its way into every fashionable circle: nay,
I have reason to believe caused a smile on the cheek of R-y-lty
itself. Now that Time has taken away the sting of these epigrams,
there can be no harm in giving them; and 'twas well enough then to
endeavor to hide under the lash of wit the bitter pangs of
humiliation: but my heart bleeds now to think that I should have
ever brought a tear on the gentle cheek of Dorothea.
Not content with this--with humiliating her by satire, and with
wounding her accepted lover across the nose--I determined to carry
my revenge still farther, and to fall in love with somebody else.
This person was Ottilia v. Schlippenschlopp.
Otho Sigismund Freyherr von Schlippenschlopp, Knight Grand Cross of
the Ducal Order of the Two-Necked Swan of Pumpernickel, of the
Porc-et-Siflet of Kalbsbraten, Commander of the George and Blue-
Boar of Dummerland, Excellency, and High Chancellor of the United
Duchies, lived in the second floor of a house in the Schwapsgasse;
where, with his private income and his revenues as Chancellor,
amounting together to some 300L. per annum, he maintained such a
state as very few other officers of the Grand-Ducal Crown could
exhibit. The Baron is married to Marie Antoinette, a Countess of
the house of Kartoffelstadt, branches of which have taken root all
over Germany. He has no sons, and but one daughter, the Fraulein
The Chancellor is a worthy old gentleman, too fat and wheezy to
preside at the Privy Council, fond of his pipe, his ease, and his
rubber. His lady is a very tall and pale Roman-nosed Countess, who
looks as gentle as Mrs. Robert Roy, where, in the novel, she is for
putting Baillie Nicol Jarvie into the lake, and who keeps the
honest Chancellor in the greatest order. The Fraulein Ottilia had
not arrived at Kalbsbraten when the little affair between me and
Dorothea was going on; or rather had only just come in for the
conclusion of it, being presented for the first time that year at
the ball where I--where I met with my accident.
At the time when the Countess was young, it was not the fashion in
her country to educate the young ladies so highly as since they
have been educated; and provided they could waltz, sew, and make
puddings, they were thought to be decently bred; being seldom
called upon for algebra or Sanscrit in the discharge of the honest
duties of their lives. But Fraulein Ottilia was of the modern
school in this respect, and came back from the pension at Strasburg
speaking all the languages, dabbling in all the sciences: an
historian, a poet,--a blue of the ultramarinest sort, in a word.
What a difference there was, for instance, between poor, simple
Dorothea's love of novel reading and the profound encyclopaedic
learning of Ottilia!
Before the latter arrived from Strasburg (where she had been
under the care of her aunt the canoness, Countess Ottilia of
Kartoffeldstadt, to whom I here beg to offer my humblest respects),
Dorothea had passed for a bel esprit in the little court circle,
and her little simple stock of accomplishments had amused us all
very well. She used to sing "Herz, mein Herz" and "T'en souviens-
tu," in a decent manner (ONCE, before heaven, I thought her singing
better than Grisi's), and then she had a little album in which she
drew flowers, and used to embroider slippers wonderfully, and was
very merry at a game of loto or forfeits, and had a hundred small
agremens de societe! which rendered her an acceptable member of it.
But when Ottilia arrived, poor Dolly's reputation was crushed in a
month. The former wrote poems both in French and German; she
painted landscapes and portraits in real oil; and she twanged off a
rattling piece of Listz or Kalkbrenner in such a brilliant way,
that Dora scarcely dared to touch the instrument after her, or
ventured, after Ottilia had trilled and gurgled through "Una voce,"
or "Di piacer" (Rossini was in fashion then), to lift up her little
modest pipe in a ballad. What was the use of the poor thing going
to sit in the park, where so many of the young officers used ever
to gather round her? Whir! Ottilia went by galloping on a
chestnut mare with a groom after her, and presently all the young
fellows who could buy or hire horseflesh were prancing in her
When they met, Ottilia would bounce towards her soul's darling, and
put her hands round her waist, and call her by a thousand
affectionate names, and then talk of her as only ladies or authors
can talk of one another. How tenderly she would hint at Dora's
little imperfections of education!--how cleverly she would
insinuate that the poor girl had no wit! and, thank God, no more
she had. The fact is, that do what I will I see I'm in love with
her still, and would be if she had fifty children; but my passion
blinded me THEN, and every arrow that fiery Ottilia discharged I
marked with savage joy. Dolly, thank heaven, didn't mind the wit
much; she was too simple for that. But still the recurrence of it
would leave in her heart a vague, indefinite feeling of pain, and
somehow she began to understand that her empire was passing away,
and that her dear friend hated her like poison; and so she married
Klingenspohr. I have written myself almost into a reconciliation
with the silly fellow; for the truth is, he has been a good, honest
husband to her, and she has children, and makes puddings, and is
Ottilia was pale and delicate. She wore her glistening black hair
in bands, and dressed in vapory white muslin. She sang her own
words to her harp, and they commonly insinuated that she was alone
in the world,--that she suffered some inexpressible and mysterious
heart-pangs, the lot of all finer geniuses,--that though she lived
and moved in the world she was not of it, that she was of a
consumptive tendency and might look for a premature interment. She
even had fixed on the spot where she should lie: the violets grew
there, she said, the river went moaning by; the gray willow
whispered sadly over her head, and her heart pined to be at rest.
"Mother," she would say, turning to her parent, "promise me--
promise me to lay me in that spot when the parting hour has come!"
At which Madame de Schlippenschlopp would shriek, and grasp her in
her arms; and at which, I confess, I would myself blubber like a
child. She had six darling friends at school, and every courier
from Kalbsbraten carried off whole reams of her letter-paper.
In Kalbsbraten, as in every other German town, there are a vast
number of literary characters, of whom our young friend quickly
became the chief. They set up a literary journal, which appeared
once a week, upon light-blue or primrose paper, and which, in
compliment to the lovely Ottilia's maternal name, was called the
Kartoffelnkranz. Here are a couple of her ballads extracted from
the Kranz, and by far the most cheerful specimen of her style. For
in her songs she never would willingly let off the heroines without
a suicide or a consumption. She never would hear of such a thing
as a happy marriage, and had an appetite for grief quite amazing in
so young a person. As for her dying and desiring to be buried
under the willow-tree, of which the first ballad is the subject,
though I believed the story then, I have at present some doubts
about it. For, since the publication of my Memoirs, I have been
thrown much into the society of literary persons (who admire my
style hugely), and egad! though some of them are dismal enough in
their works, I find them in their persons the least sentimental
class that ever a gentleman fell in with.
"Know ye the willow-tree
Whose gray leaves quiver,
To yon pale river?
Lady, at even-tide
Wander not near it,
They say its branches hide
A sad, lost spirit!
"Once to the willow-tree
A maid came fearful,
Pale seemed her cheek to be,
Her blue eye tearful;
Soon as she saw the tree,
Her step moved fleeter,
No one was there--ah me!
No one to meet her!
"Quick beat her heart to hear
The far bell's chime
Toll from the chapel-tower
The trysting time:
But the red sun went down
In golden flame,
And though she looked round,
Yet no one came!
"Presently came the night,
Sadly to greet her,--
Moon in her silver light,
Stars in their glitter.
Then sank the moon away
Under the billow,
Still wept the maid alone--
There by the willow!
"Through the long darkness,
By the stream rolling,
Hour after hour went on
Tolling and tolling.
Long was the darkness,
Lonely and stilly;
Shrill came the night-wind,
Piercing and chilly.
"Shrill blew the morning breeze,
Biting and cold,
Bleak peers the gray dawn
Over the wold.
Bleak over moor and stream
Looks the grey dawn,
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