Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 129.djvu/62

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delicious dream of cream, dashed out with an amazing splutter. During the sojourn of this excited stranger her life was a series of rude shocks. She was partly consoled by the appearance of supper. It was a supper good for cats and men. Under its benign influence the world grew brighter. When it had vanished, and the drowsy perfume of fresh tobacco was stealing through the room, the troubled spirit of Mr. Carter was soothed. After much silent smoking, he broke the meditation of his friend by observing that after all there was something beautiful in the association of gentle women for good works. This led to some remarks on the religion of women, and its excellence when it nourished a wide human sympathy instead of an unnatural celibacy.

"It is," he said, "in a Protestant nunnery that a sufferer may find the kindest sister, a worker the most helpful wife."

As the two young men were going upstairs to bed, Martin suddenly grasped Christopher by the hand, wrung it to the verge of pain, and cried, "My dear fellow, you don't know what I owe you!"

"No, I don't," said the other, almost moodily.

"I feel as if it would be all right," proclaimed the enthusiast, with flashing eyes; "I can't tell why. I felt almost melancholy this afternoon. It is rather inconsistent."

This was one of his rare moments of illumination. When this impatient spirit had long been lulled to rest, Christopher still sat by his window looking at the stars.

From All The Year Round.


Facing the Green Park, and only a few doors from Park-lane, is to be seen a remarkable porch, consisting of two tall pillars, without the usual steps, perched upon what looks like a small coach-house, or the entrance to a wine-vault. This mansion belongs to a well-known nobleman, and the arrangement was made about seventy years ago, to suit the infirmities of a disreputable old patrician, who, seated in his chair, was let down by machinery from the high level of his parlour to the street. It was, in fact, "old Q." himself, whom some London old gentlemen may still recollect.

"Old Q" was the last Duke of Queensberry, and, it may be added, the last of the frightful old roués, whose aim seemed to be to scandalize both heaven and earth by their excesses—the coterie that enjoyed "Hellfire Clubs" and "Medmenham Abbeys," that "had to go to Paris" to get a waistcoat fit to put on, and who brought back a couple of dozen copies of Crébillon's newest romance for sale among friends. He was of the set that included Wilkes, Sandwich, Hall Stevenson, Gilly Williams, Hanger, Barrymore, and a host of others.

It is recorded that even when a schoolboy (he was born in 1725) he was "distinguished by his escapades in the capital," such was the pleasant newspaper phrase. Lord March, the title "old Q." then bore, soon became conspicuous in the town. He was a spirited, clever young man, with an extraordinary store of vivacity; and certainly it must be said that in writing a letter the roués of his times excelled. The letters of the fast young men of our day are conspicuous for a halting, feeble style, and the roundabout "flabbiness" that is found in such documents contrasts unfavourably with the good English, straightforwardness, liveliness, and even wit, of the epistles of Lord March, Williams, Storer, and Lord Carlisle. Such, however, does not compensate for the scandal these gentry occasioned, but which were thus extenuated by the prints of the day. "The situation of a young nobleman, when he first starts in life, may be said to be peculiarly painful, for being brought up to no useful or honourable profession, occupations of a more gay and volatile nature frequently engross his attention." Of such a kind were these fantastic wagers, which made us doubt whether the wagerers were so much "volatile" as weak in their heads. One of these made quite a reputation for his lordship, on account of the energy and anxiety he brought to bear on the result. He made a bet with an Irish gentleman that he would drive a carriage nineteen miles in an hour. The Irish gentleman, we are told, "was usually known by the appellation of Count O'Taafe," in which, considering that he had no other name, there was nothing unusual. The wager arose out of a discussion at a sporting-meeting; and the question was thrown out as a sort of speculation, by his lordship. As, however, he was considered one of the most knowing persons on the turf, and placed no reliance whatever upon jockeys, but trusted all to himself, it is probable that this was in the nature of what is called "a put-up thing." Preparations were accordingly made, Mr.