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darkened and the wind is risen, I go back squelched and dejected. Some nights afterwards I met her at a brilliant party. We got into a very confidential chit-chat, and I ventured to tell her of my little bit of insanity the other night. She listened with a pleased and amused countenance.
'But, Mr. Jones, there was nothing so very extraordinary in that. You say you were on the lawn at midnight, gazing at my window. Did I ever tell you of Mr. Percy Giles?'
But I never had heard of Mr. Giles.
'Oh, Percy Giles used to come regularly every night and serenade me under my window. He did it beautifully. It was so nice, and used to send me to sleep deliciously.'
'But what became of Mr. Giles? I don't remember ever to have met him at your place.'
'Oh, no! one night, poor fellow, it was very rainy, and he caught the rheumatic fever and died.'
And she said the words with all the nonchalance of a Roman maiden, who would point her thumb downward and bid the gladiator perish.
There she is! My photograph expands into a book of beauty now, and here is a whole bevy. This first page is devoted exclusively to my Maries. There are five of them. This particular Mary has the place of honour in the centre. Let me say to her credit that she makes a most excellent wife-only to the wrong man. Like Lord Byron, of whose poetry my own youthful muse was a remarkably good imitation, I had almost an idolatry for the name of Mary. And don't ask me what's in a name?' for names and entities go together in a remarkable way. Your Mary is a sensible, modest, clear-headed, nice girl. She has not so much spice about her as your Kate, but then she has infinitely more than a Susan. A Madeleine puts you a little too much in mind of the unfavourable origin of the name. So does Helen, according to the derivation which old Eschylus gives of it. A Margaret is always a Pearl.
O rare, pale Margaret!
What lent you, love, your tearful dower, Like moonbeams on a falling shower?" And a tricksome Caroline reminds us of Bon Gaultier's lines
Pinch, oh pinch these legs of mine,
Your girls with the out-of-theway names are always doing outof-the-way things. Now here's a Maud, who is always a great puzzle to me.
She was young, and pretty, and clever, and rich, and yet she married a man, old and ugly, and stupid and poor. On what theory of elective affinities can you account for such an extraordinary arrangement? Then an Emily flirts; Jane is sentimental, earnest, and tender; Lucy is simple and matter-of-fact; Adelaide is lady-like and fantastical; Laura is passionate and vindictive. Of course this is a very partial induction. I have known one or two of the sort; each one has suggested a hasty, and doubtless an unsafe generalisation. Don't suppose that I have been in love with all these young ladies; but still I have been a little épris with most of them. There are some familiar lines which an old aunt used to quote to me,
'I love twenty,
And could adore
As many more;
There's nothing like a plenty.' But as an American author says, Though the moon sees many brooks, yet the brook sees but one moon.' And it makes a great deal of difference, whether you happen to be a moon or a brook. And I really think that the humble, steadfast brook has the best of it. I grant that, to a candid mind with a cultivated sense of beauty, a great many young ladies will appear equally charming and agreeable, and it becomes an invidious office to make a selection; and if a man tells me that he veritably believes that he has secured the Rose of the World for himself, well, I honour him for his devotion, but I set him down as an idiot. But then all the moral qualities come into play at this point. When a man has settled
his roving fancy in one direction, there he should abide from every consideration of tenderness, loyalty, and chivalry. That is an unstable, worthless nature that is lured away by the next fair face, because for a moment he thinks that it is a shade fairer than the one familiar to him. And I do not deny that these men, of whom I have known several, and whose phizzes adorn this book, who deliberately lay themselves out for a series of twenty years' flirtations, get through a great deal of time very pleasantly, and with an amount of variety of which a poor beggar of a Benedict can form no conception; yet I do assert that there are moral feelings sweeter even than of victorious love, of which they, in fact, have no conception, and that, though the clouds are held back through their long bright day, yet they gather very swiftly and very darkly towards the evening; and the heart that loves constantly, even though it should have to break in the process, has perhaps a not unhappy lot after all, if we could take the true measure of such things.
I keep the photographs of these two girls because they remind me of an amusing adventure in days when adventures were possible to me. I was, when a senior student, at the famous museum of a great city, and I espied there a perfect lout of a very junior student, whom I regarded with some amount both of dislike and contempt, but who did me the honour of looking upon me, in virtue of my seniority, with a considerable amount of positive veneration. To my astonishment this satyr was accompanied by two nymphs than whom Oreads and Dryads were not more charming, to whom he was idiotically attempting to explain the objects of more prominent interest. I advanced with an air of easy affability towards my Boeotian acquaintance and grasped his hand warmly, I may even say affectionately. Alleging an acquaintance with the museum, I am sorry to say, more close and accurate than was really the case, I volunteered to become their cicerone. When knowledge failed invention came to my
aid; any unknown picture was unhesitatingly assigned to Cuyp or Clande; a chance end of a rope, which I richly deserved myself, was extemporised into the cord which was tied round the neck of Eustace St. Pierre, the patriotic burgher of Calais; and a mere arrow into that which pierced the eye of Philip of Macedon. The maidens had pretty heads, but marvellously little in them, or they would have detected my flagrant impostures. When the hour for closing came, the young ladies included me in the invitation to their friend to come home to a tea-dinner. I had just managed to have a few words of conversation with the loon, and he had told me that they were two twin orphan girls, lately come of age, who had just come up to the city to take possession of a house and property left them by an aunt. The two sylphs, the moke and myself, got into a fly and drove off, but I did not catch the address. It was a pretty detached villa, with a pleasant garden around it, and the Miss Maclagans treated us with the utmost hospiality, and played and sang delightfully. At nine o'clock the natural took his leave, making some idiotic remark about having to play a game of whist at some man's rooms. about an hour I also departed, being fortunate enough to carry away this portrait as a souvenir of a very pleasant evening. But now comes the oddest part of the adventure-that I never saw any of those people again. I went out a few days afterwards to pay a morning call, but I was utterly unable to identify the place. All the houses had a uniform appearance, pretty villas surrounded by trim gardens, but no Misses Maclagan were anywhere discoverable. There were one or two houses now empty, and it might have been at one of those, or a stupid servant may have only known the house as belonging to the defunct aunt, or the young ladies may have thought that they had acted imprudently, and so have stopped matters by this process of mystification. If it had not been for this photograph I should have thought the whole affair a dream.
I never set eyes on that imbecile of a junior student again; but I saw a queer account of a suicide that might have been his. A man, with his clothes on, deliberately walked into a river. 'Halloo, master,' shouted a working man, 'dost_thee want to drown thyself? There bain't two feet of water there.' 'Where is it deep enough?' answered the man. Wal,' answered the countryman, treating it all as a high joke, by yon tree there's the deepest hole in 't river.' 'Thank you,' said the stranger; 'much obliged,' and forthwith pops into the hole and gets drowned. I thought this might have been my interesting young friend who had disappeared, but I never had the curiosity to inquire.
It is very odd to think of the differing destinies that have happened to these young creatures. Here is La Belle Fanny, as we used to call her, who seemed only to live for amusement, flying about to parties, to the opera, to the parks, and the whole round of such things, and now she is settled down in a provincial town, married to a professional man, I am afraid with rather a hard life, but doing her duty nobly in it, and not wasting a thought or a regret on those old days. A very different woman is Julia here. Julia hooked a rich fool for her husband, and by means sufficiently disreputable. She and her mother-a genuine Comparini that mother in the Guido version-invited the golden youth to a champagne dinner. The three sat alone at a round table. The champagne was excellent, Koch Als best; and the youth, if he had been dining with a ruler, ought to have put his knife to his throat, for he was a man much given to appetite. Julia was there, in robes very splendid but of extreme lightness, and according to our insular fashion, with bust revealed.
The youth took a full share of champagne and heavier wines after dinner, and then to him, flushed with wine and excitement, came the artless Julia, telling him that coffee was ready, and caressingly hanging over his shoulder with innocent abandon. To these, as they say in the plays,
enter her mother, who clasps her hands and turns up the whites of her maternal eyes, demanding an explanation. Before he was quite sober he was a helplessly-engaged man. He came to me next morning with tears in his eyes, asking me how he could be helped out of the scrape, but in the issue their hold on him proved to be too tight. And these little games are still played in the nineteenth century of our highlycivilised state of society. That's Julia's portrait. Fine girl, isn't she?
Here are a few of my literary friends, Tennyson, Browning, Carlyle. You object that they are public portraits, and wonder why I should include them in a collection that professes to be so particularly private. But let me tell you, my dear sir, that no three of my nearest relations have ever had such influence over me as have had these illustrious men. They haven't got the pleasure of knowing me, but I know them quite intimately in their writings; and feeling under an immense load of obligation to them, I gratefully enrol them among my closest Penates. Now here are some groups. First, a group of schoolboys, in days when photographing was fresh. We are in costume as cricketers. It was just after we had beaten the Dimsdale eleven, and then we all had a glorious dinner together in the Castle ruins. We eleven never met altogether again after that day towards the end of the half; but I managed, being adhesive in my attachment, to get nine of the lot on the next page, and five of us in a group, after we had been to Lord's. Two of us had dropped in the way. One was a sweet, angelic boy, another in every respect exactly the reverse, but they are both alike taken. Pass another decade of years, and two more have dropped, and I have not been able to get the photographs of all the survivors, but we have all of us come to our seventh lustrum, and so at least are half way home. One of those two passed away lingeringly of a phthisis at Torquay, the other fell suddenly in an Indian massacre. This dear old beard went quite grey,
in consequence of an infinitude of troubles, in the course of a single fortnight. Now there's another fellow I've known, who also in the course of a single fortnight was called to the bar, became bankrupt, married a girl with large property, and dropped into a peerage. And he really appears to me to be looking all the better for this series of vicissitudes.
I have gone through the book now; and indeed it is so dark that at the last I could hardly see. I think I will play over the Pastoral Symphony. In the gloom I almost see kind, tender eyes, almost hear mysterious tones and echoes of
silenced voices. O friends! O dear, lost friends! from all other images I turn to yours, gratefully and remorsefully, wishing I had known and loved you better-wishing that words and acts of mine had always been good and helpful, and in nowise harmful to you. How sweet and soothing is this 'solemn music!' what supernatural cheerfulness and courage it breathes! Let all be well!
The servant enters with candles, my evening dress is laid out, and I am going to Lady Julia's party? Telle est la vie. I lock up my book of photographs, and go off to where I shall meet at least a few of the live originals.
AT THE OPERA.
MUSES! all the Nine inspire me, now, if ever, to be lyrical:
In telling of the Opera, 'tis right that I should sing
In sweet and flowing fashion, though I've boasted friends satirical
That, in spite of cruel speeches, I'll attempt it, and rehearse
Never yet has Mistress Fashion set her foot in such a Garden,
Like to Jove, in high Olympus, sits Arditi in the middle
Of a happy heav'n of harmony, or swelling sea of sound,
Ah! the jewels are resplendent on the necks of alabaster,
And the air with rare exotics round the corridors grows faint;
From the stalls and from the boxes grows a flower-bed of beauty,
Meeting daughters accidentally with mothers on the stair.
Now the overture is over, and the future Paganinis,
At a sign from the enchanter, stop the tremble of the bow,
At the Opera! there's music in the intervals of acting,
Who can tell? it may be marriage that the Countess is contracting,
Very likely eyes, long parted, meet again and meet too often,
Listen! there's the rolling organ! baby orchestra! he's grander,
Over now! the music's over, voices hushed and all is ended;
Lights are one by one extinguished, very dreary 'tis-she's gone. Come along! how can it matter through what street her carriage wended?
She is dozing-may be dreaming-and at present you're alone!
POPPIES IN THE CORN;
OR, GLAD HOURS IN THE GRAVE YEARS.-No. VII.
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE HARVEST OF A QUIET EYE,' &c.
CRICKET GENERALLY, AND A DAY AT LORD'S GROUND IN PARTICULAR.
F course I am an Oxford man.
Odon't say this with any im
plied disparagement of Cambridge. I only mean that for the man of either University, the feelings, the ideas, the sympathies, the preferences, the associations, are so utterly and entirely wedded (in this case none may forbid the banns) to our particular alma mater, that we could not, in our wildest imagination, realize the belonging to her sister, and, always in some measure, her rival. There
fore, if you are an Oxford man, of course you are an Oxford man: how could it have been otherwise? And vice versû, obviously, with Cambridge. The same, too, with the public schools. While at school, and full of its eager emulation, ay, and later, even throughout life, could a Harrow boy conceive the possibility of his being or having been an Eton boy; or the Etonian become in idea a Harrovian; or Winchester change across with