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However, we must brave it, I suppose. There is now no possibility of retreat."
While this colloquy was in progress, a very cheerful-looking personage, who had advanced beyond the rest, was smiling, bowing, and addressing the new-comers. This was Monsieur Andrea Consett, the proprietor of the establishment, who came to offer his services. He was supremely fortunate-so his Italian phrase ran-happiest among the happy-to be able to tell the travellers that by an event which was little less than miraculous, at that particular season, he happened to have two apartments in which the Signori could be lodged.
Richard Stubbs and Signor Tomkins stared at each other, and then transferred their gaze to the countenance of the voluble landlord, whose speech, stare as hard as they might, they were totally unable to comprehend. They, however, drew the right inference from his gestures, his smiles, and the frequent repetition of the word "felice"-a word which more than once had fallen on the ears of Signor Tomkins in other daysit gave him a sharp pang to hear it now-but more than all they comprehended his meaning when they saw two sturdy porters shoulder the heavy baggage of one traveller and the light knapsack of the other, and march off with both into the hotel. Their difficulty in this matter would have been somewhat less if Monsieur Consett-who, like most Swiss landlords, was a general linguist-had spoken to them in French, with which polite medium for the interpretation of thought they were, as we have seen, so thoroughly conversant; but his mistake arose from the fact of seeing the directions on Signor Tomkins's trunks set forth in choice Italian-and naturally inferring that Signor Tomkins-whichever he might be-would understand him.
The Gordian knot was cut, however, no matter in what way-and, marshalled by Monsieur Consett, the English visitors entered the building, still closely scanned by the bevy of dark-eyed dames assembled near the door. Richard Stubbs was very much sunburnt, so probably no betrayal of his feelings appeared in the heightened colour of cheek or brow,-but Signor Tomkins visibly blushed beneath the green veil which he had lowered for his own safety,--perhaps, also, for other safety than his own! Having thus run the terrible gauntlet of feminine scrutiny, the travellers were conducted by Monsieur Consett to their sleeping apartments-he pointing out all the accommodations of his house as he went, and Stubbs wondering what strange atmosphere they were breathing, for of the fact that the Baths of Le Prese were sulphur-baths he was not yet
It so chanced that the rooms allotted to Stubbs and Signor Tomkins were close together, with a door of communication between, so that full freedom of intercourse was allowed-a convenience which they greatly appreciated and took immediate advantage of, by setting the door wide open and talking from one room to the other.
"The perfumed air of Italy!" exclaimed Signor Tomkins, as he strode across his chamber and opened what he called his "latticed casement," in other words, threw back the persiennes, which had been closed to keep out the noon-day heat. "Is it the orange-flower or the myrtle that I inhale! How delicious is the odour of this clime!"
"You must have a queer sort of nose if you call this delicious," cried
Stubbs, as he took off his coat and gave it a good shake to get rid of the road dust, preparing, also, with bare arms for ablution. "Instead of orange and myrtle, the smell here seems a deuced deal more like gunpowder! I should like a sniff of eau-de-Cologne, but I have not got any -have you?"
"Eau-de-Cologne? Of course I have. I never go anywhere without it. As soon as I can get at my dressing-case you shall have some. And, now you mention it, the odour is rather pungent."
"I believe you! I was half choked by it as we came up the staircase. There's a whiff now-comes just like a rush of steam. If this is the perfumed air of Italy,' as I heard you say just now, I shall take refuge in a pipe. You don't mind my smoking, I hope?"
"Not at all! I'often indulge in a cigar. When gloomy thoughts oppress me-you know, Stubbs, to what I allude,-I am often found, as Byron holding dark communion with the cloud.' I felt I should want that solace when I left home, and stopped the cab as I drove by Hudson's to get a supply. They will be useful here to help me to tear me from myself, when at midnight I sit gazing on the stars reflected in yon azure lake!"
A sharp tap at the door interrupted the friends' conversation. It was a waiter, who came to know if " ces messieurs"-he being a Frenchman -intended to join the evening table d'hôte.
Now 66 Table d'hôte" is an institution the meaning of which an Englishman is soon taught to comprehend-or rather he learns it instinctively and Stubbs, hearing the word, at once shouted out, "Kell Oor?"
Sept heures," said the waiter.
"This, hey?" cried Stubbs, coming forward with soaped face, and holding his outstretched hand above his head.
"Non, monsieur-sept!" he replied, imitating Stubbs's pantomime, but with the addition of two fingers of the other hand.
"Oh, seven! That's what you mean by 'set.
Ah, I recollect-I only put five, and they call that sink.' I say, Tomkins, the table d'hôte is at seven o'clock, he says. What time is it now ?"
Signor Tomkins referred to a very elegant gold watch, from which a rich gold chain and a handful of charms were pendent.
"Half-past four," he replied. "I shall have time to make my toilette !"
"I should think so," said Stubbs. "For my part I can be ready in five minutes. Now my face and hands have had a good scrubbing, I've only to brush my hair and whip my coat on, and there I am!"
"Good gracious, Stubbs! You surely mean to dress for dinner!" "How can I? Except a few shirts and so forth in this pack of mine, I've got nothing but what I stand in.”
"You astonish me, Stubbs! No black coat and trousers-no dress waistcoat-no polished boots-no white choker!"
Nothing of the sort, I assure you. Where was I to stow all the things you talk of ?"
But, Stubbs, you shall meet with ladies.
"I can't help that!
should have considered. At the table d'hôte we
Signor Tomkins turned to the waiter, who still lingered in the room for the definite answer of "ces, messieurs."
"Combang de persons o tabbledote ?" he inquired, with a fine air, as if he were speaking the French of Blois.
"Je ne saurais vous dire exactement, Monsieur. Trente ;-trentecinq, peutêtre."
"Oh, oui! Beaucoup de dames, Monsieur! Alors, vous viendrez tout deux, n'est-ce-pas ?"
And, taking the reply for granted, he straightway disappeared. "There, Stubbs! I was sure of it! He says there will be no end to ladies. What a lucky thing for me I came abroad well provided. what will you do?"
"Do! As I said before, I shall go down as I am. There's no remedy for it. But tell me, Tomkins, how came you to think of making yourself such a swell? I fancied you had had enough of ladies."
"I have not sought them, Stubbs! They lie in my path, you see. I wish you were nearer my height, Stubbs!"
"I could lend you all you want."
"Thank you-but you're at least six inches taller than I am. Nothing of yours would fit me.”
"I am afraid not," observed Signor Tomkins, in a desponding tone, as he sat down on a carpet-bag.
"You're not ashamed of me, I hope," said Stubbs, resolutely. "If so, I can make it quite square: dine by myself at a side-table, and cut the whole concern to-morrow."
Signor Tomkins rose from his seat, put out both hands, and grasped those of Stubbs.
"Injure me not, my friend," he said, "by unworthy suspicions. Ashamed of you! No! I was only anxious to be of service. I would not that our compact should be so soon, so lightly broken!"
Beg your pardon. I was a little warm. I meant no harm. I'll stick to you as long as it's agreeable. In the mean time, while you're dressing, if you don't mind, I'll go and take a stroll, and see how the land lies."
This was assented to by Signor Tomkins, who then proceeded to take out his things and dress. He had not miscalculated the time it would take, and had only just given the finishing curl to his whiskers when Stubbs returned, just as a gong in the hall below was loudly intimating that the evening meal was served.
"By George!" said Stubbs, examining his friend's elaborate costume, "you have come it strong! You look as if you had just got out of a bandbox."
"I hope I shall do," replied Signor Tomkins, taking a last look in the glass. "What did you make of it outside ?"
"I had some jolly good fun! But I'll tell you all about it at dinner. Let's go down."
On this invitation, Signor Tomkins, not without design, linked his arm in that of Richard Stubbs, and they descended together.
BEN JONSON'S MOROSE:
BY FRANCIS JACOX.
WE (ἡμεῖς, ἵνα μὴ λέγωμεν ἔγω) must own to a sneaking kindness for Ben Jonson's Morose, on the one ground (with which alone we here propose to deal) that he is, by his author's preliminary definition, "a gentleman that loves no noise." Odious and ridiculous he may be, from first to last. But it is only with his horror of noise that we have any concern, in this typical tractate; and it so happens that a deranged physical economy gives us an unwelcome intensity of sympathy with the poor man's dread of din,-which fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind to his characteristic infirmity.
Poor Morose-butt and laughing-stock of all that compass him about. He walks abroad with a huge turban of nightcaps on his head, buckled over his ears, to muffle the sounds of traffic and street bustle. He has been upon divers treaties with the fish-wives and orange-women, to abate their clamour, and articles have been propounded between them. To his sore vexation, the chimney-sweepers will be drawn in. To his great discouragement, the broom-men stand out stiffly. He cannot endure a costard-monger, but swoons if he hear one. A brazier is not suffered to dwell in the parish, nor an armourer. A trumpet frights him terribly, and the hautboys-out of his senses. The waits of the city have a pension of him not to come near that ward. He hath chosen a street to lie in so narrow at both ends, that it will receive no coaches, nor carts, nor any of these common noises. A bearward is prompted, one day, to come down with the dogs of four parishes that way, and cries his games under Master Morose's window; till he is sent crying away, with his head made a most bleeding spectacle to the multitude. Another time, a fencer, marching to his prize, has his drum most tragically run through, for taking that street in his way. The infliction of church bells, perpetually ringing, has made him devise a room, with double walls and treble ceilings; the windows close shut and caulked; and there he lives by candle-light. He turned away a man, last week, for having a pair of new shoes that creaked. And his present fellow waits on him in tenniscourt socks, or slippers soled with wool: and they talk to each other in a "trunk." At his first entry on the stage, he appears with a tube in his hand, followed by Mute, his man,-and begins asking himself, "Cannot I, yet, find out a more compendious method, than by this trunk, to save my servants the labour of speech, and mine ears the discord of sounds? . . . Is it not possible, that thou shouldest answer me by signs, and I apprehend thee, fellow? Speak not, though I question you. You have taken the ring off from the street-door, as bade you? answer me not by speech, but by silence; unless it be otherwise [MUTE makes a leg.]-very good." And Mute has fastened on a thick quilt, or flock
* Namely in Act II. of "The Silent Woman."
bed, on the outside of the door; that if they knock with their daggers, or with brickbats, they can make no noise.
The Turk, in this divine discipline, Morose pronounces admirable, exceeding all the potentates of the earth: still waited on by mutes; and all his commands so executed; yea, even in the war, and in his marches, as Morose has heard, giving his charges and directions mainly by signs, and with silence: "an exquisite art! and I am heartily ashamed, and angry oftentimes, that the princes of Christendom should suffer a barbarian to transcend them in so high a point of felicity." His wife must be a Silent Woman-not taking pleasure in her tongue, which is a woman's chiefest pleasure. She must be, quite literally, an inexpressive she.
Poor Morose-hardly put upon, and sharply practised against. In the last act of the play, he gives some account of the training that has brought him to this pass. His rationale of the peculiarity that besets him, is not utterly irrational. His father had been wont to advise him, it seems, that, in order always to collect and contain his mind, he should endear himself to rest, and avoid turmoil; which cultivation of ataraxia is now grown to be another nature to him. "So that I came not to your public pleadings, or your places of noise; not that I neglect those things that make for the dignity of the commonwealth; but for the mere avoiding of clamours and impertinences of orators, that know not how to be silent.
"And for the cause of noise," he piteously appeals to his persecutors, "am I now a suitor to you! You do not know in what a misery I have been exercised this day, what a torrent of evil! my very house turns round with the tumult! I dwell in a windmill: the perpetual motion is here, and not at Eltham."
Poor Morose! again say we (ueis, iva μǹ Xéywμev ëy)-recognising with Sir Dauphine a plain confederacy to abuse a gentleman. Just as we say poor Malvolio, in a concatenation accordingly. It is like Mr. Babbage's neighbours, feeing the organ-boy and brass band to perturb the calculations of that harassed philosopher. And our sympathies are entirely with Mr. Babbage; our antipathies clean against the brass band. Would that every sitting magistrate were but of the same mind! Verily, for every sufferer like master Morose or Professor Babbage,
Il faudrait, dans l'enclos d'un vaste logement,
If in a city such temperaments must live, it should be in such a city as Mr. Disraeli pictures in Venice not yet fallen; where "all was stirring life, yet all was silent; the fantastic architecture, the glowing sky, the flitting gondolas, and the brilliant crowd gliding about with noiseless step -this city without sound—it seemed a dream!"†
For our part (μeis, ïva μù déywμev eyw), thanks to a morbid temperament, we own to something like tolerance for that else intolerable Sybarite in the "Woman in White," who licenses no sound to be heard on the premises. His home ought to have been within the Castle of Indolence, under the protection and patronage of that enchanting wizard, whose programme of attractions included this comforting stanza:
* Boileau, sat. vi.
† Venetia, book v. ch. viii.