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own chariots, and scrupulously left cards if either happened to be out. In the third class are those petty dignitaries, who, as a line must be drawn somewhere, openly maintain the double resolution of only visiting where a man-servant is kept, and a shop is not kept. The former is the grand desideratum. It was once the fashion, says the author of the Tale of a Tub, for all the world to wear shoulder-knots! "That fellow has no soul, exclaims one;-where is his shoulder-knot ?" Exactly thus do their modern imitators doubt whether a man can possibly possess soul fit for their sublime notice, unless there be a tag, rag, and bobtail, flapping from his servant's shoulder That Desdemona should "see the Moor's complexion in his mind," and fall in love with a black, they condemn as unnatural, at the very moment when they are perhaps attaching themselves to a blackguard, because they see a bit of gold lace upon his footman's collar. Last of all come-the rabble-the lower orders, as they are termed, whose social intercourse, if not so refined as that of their superiors, is probably more productive of enjoyment by its freedom, unreserve, and exemption from all heart-burning and rivalry. Knowing that "their miseries can never lay them lower," they exemplify the meeting of extremes, and prove that the only classes who taste the true comforts of fellowship, are the few who are above jealousy, and the many who are beneath it.
Nor is this absurd arrogance by any means peculiar to the country: it exists in full force among the middling classes of London, particularly in the city,
where, indeed, the virus of the disease might be expected to manifest itself with peculiar malignity. Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme is there daily enacted with even more farcical pretension than Molière would have ventured to delineate; and I have often seen substantial citizens, after laughing heartily in the theatre at the representation of High Life below Stairs, return home to perform, in their own persons, the very follies which they had ridiculed in their inferiors. Some may perhaps recollect an awful and august conclave of saltatory civic magnificos, who ycleped themselves the City Assembly, and held their solemn festivities beneath the appropriate roof of Haberdashers' Hall, deep in the labyrinth of some lane within lanes, whose names I have forgotten. It was the Selecta è Veteris, or rather the Selecta è Profanis, of Cheapside and Broad-street: to be a member was the summit of civic ambition, and happy was the mercantile aspirant who could even get a ticket for admission once in the season. Upon the old principle, that to be sociable you must be exclusive, brokers and persons standing behind a counter were, by the rules of the establishment, declared inadmissible, and many a long debate do I remember among these "potent, grave, and reverend signiors," on the important points, whether certain merchant-brokers of indisputable wealth came within the first exception; and whether bankers, though avowedly within the letter, were embraced by the spirit of the second. As Tyre, Sidon, Palmyra, and Carthage, have been swept away, we cannot so much wonder that the
City assembly, with all its plums, diamonds, lordmayors, aldermen, gorgeousness, vulgarity, and pride of dunghill aristocracy, has ceased to exist; or that its equally dull and narrow-minded rival, the London, has shared its fate. But their spirit survives;-"even in their ashes live their wonted fires," and the prostration of mind with which their worthy descendants fall down before any golden calf, would have done honour to the worshippers of Baal. Walking lately with one of these gentry in the City, I was astonished at finding myself suddenly thrust out into the kennel, that we might give the wall to a pompous little porpus, whom my companion saluted with a profound respect. "That," said he, drawing himself up with a proud consciousness of the honour he had received in being noticed, "that is Alderman Calypash; he is worth at least ten thousand a-year." "I am glad of it," I replied, "as, but for that circumstance, he would not be worth any thing whatever." But who shall describe the anxious reverence with which he approached, or the cringing and crawling with which he attempted to win the eye of some high-priest of Mammon, some Croesus of the synagogue, as we elbowed our way through Jews and Gentiles to get a peep of him upon 'Change? "He is worth a million," said my informant, as soon as his feelings allowed him to give utterance to the tremendous word. -"You are still richer," I replied, "for you are satisfied." Among women, where wealth admits of more obvious manifestation by external signs, it attracts a deference equally unqualified, and I have often amused
myself with following an expensively dressed female, and marking the effect of her magnificence upon those whom she encountered. On the faces of the more amiable of her own sex, I have read unaffected admiration of the display, mixed with some shadowings of regret that they could not, by an equally costly style of dress, participate in the happiness which they conceive to be its inevitable concomitant; but it must be confessed that the greater number of countenances expressed an angry scrutiny, that seemed to measure the value, per yard, of every lace and satin, while in the eagerness to depreciate that which they could not hope to rival, I have more than once caught mutterings of "The veil is only a net-lace after all;" or, "The trimming of the pelisse is nothing but cottonvelvet."
One would have thought it hard enough that the insatiable demands of Government should consume so much of our substance, and drink up the very lifesprings of our hospitality; and certainly we might as well have had popery at once as the national debt, for it condemns us to as many fast-days, without affording us any chance of absolution. It is a millstone around the neck of our social system; it compels us, like Dutch malefactors, to pump ourselves to death, that we may keep our heads above water; it has destroyed more good dinners than the worst cook in Christendom; it squats itself in the middle of our kitchen-grate, like a huge night-mare, and with one hand stops the smoke-jack, while with the other it rakes out the fire;-it compels us to shut the door in
the faces of our friends, that we may open them to the tax-gatherer. And yet, as if the bounds of joviality and companionship were not sufficiently circumscribed by this voracious monster, we must voluntarily narrow them still further, by acknowledging the supremacy of a new fiend-the dæmon of Luxury. Enjoyment of our friends' society was formerly considered the rational object of a dinner-party; but you now invite them that you may exhibit your superior magnificence, and, by exciting their envy or anger, do your best towards converting them into A enemies. Sir Balaam's frugal but substantial meals have been long exploded, and the reign of alternate fasts and feasts has been substituted:-servants and horses are half-starved, and friends wholly excluded for a month, that the doors may be thrown open for one day of emulous ostentation. I never sit beside a silver plateau, (too often a compound of meanness and vanity-a showy but sorry substitute for solid fare,) without fancying that I hear the grumbling of the numerous stomachs at whose expense it has been purchased; nor can I be easily brought to acknowledge the wisdom of either giving or receiving one grand dinner where there were formerly five pleasant ones. Here, again, is another pervading cause of the sullenness and unsociability of which we are accused ;conviviality is exchanged for competition-hospitality unless it mean to finish its career in the King's Bench must be frequently niggardly, that it may be occasionally gorgeous, and the apple of discord is thrown down upon every table long before the appearance