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During the last ten years of his life Simon's mode of life was systematic, though far from regular. He shunned utterly the garish eye of day, which suited neither his appearance nor his avocations. He rose by evening twilight, discarded breakfast as an idle ceremony, and mizzled down to the Constitution, where he perhaps looked at some dinner, but rarely, from want of appetite, partook of any; then set to at the whiskey-and-water, sad and silent for awhile; like a hedgehog, he never opened until he was wet: but a sprinkling answered for his buoyant spirit. The two "goes " sufficed to enable him s'orienter: and then he blazed out for the evening like the Figaro of Beaumarchais. He transferred himself from the Constitution to Offley's thence to the Cider-cellars — thence, perhaps, to the Finish, until six o'clock in the morning. He divided a bed in a court off Great Russell Street, with a slater. He had to wait for his share of occupancy until the slater rose to his work. Then Simon turned in; and used to expatiate upon the advantage of being preceded by an animated warming-pan. Threepence a man they paid for their usufruct of this harbour of rest. Their threepence per diem constituted the whole of Sim's personal expenses. The generous public of the night-taverns provided him with everything else. And right good value he gave: he was a delicious singer alike of the Melodies, and of outrageously convivial songs. No man who ever heard the flowing melody
"You boarding-school misses, who spend all your lives,"
will ever forget his powers. Simon, whilst I knew him, was not alone a great artist, but he carried with him
"The monumental pomp of age,"
and, fallen as he was, all who knew him could not refrain from regarding the poor monomaniac with the feelings "tender and true.” Latterly he was expelled from Offley's: and most unfairly, I must say. The captain was supping with some old Peninsulars. Offley took the opportunity of dunning him for an old debt. Sim consigned his soul to the usual keeping, and, strong in the countenance of his military friends, offered to box Offley for the money. The old fellow was three parts screwed and the fourth sulky; the challenge was accepted; and the fight came off. The publican had all the best of it, and did terrible execution on Sim's visage. The captain was upon the very point of " being knocked into immortal smash," when he bethought him of butting like a ram: he ran right into Offley's stomach, and completely disarranged its internal economy by the shock. Offley cast up his accounts in general, while by the same act he forfeited all claim to Sim's in particular, for he was much too busy to come to time. The vanquished had to be removed by his own waiters. The victor triumphed, and great was the glorification thereof. But in the morning the mandate went forth, and Simon was for ever excluded from the Offleian mansion. He was seized with his last illness at the Cider-cellars. It was early in the morning: he was conveyed thence to the parish workhouse, where in a few hours he died. The men who would have spared no expense to procure him the best medical aid knew nothing of his illness till he was no more. By those who knew him, one and all, it was felt
"We better could have spared a better man."
DIARY OF A DINING-OUT MAN.
BY ALBANY POYNTZ.
So, here we are in the season again.-Goodness be praised!—Those country houses take too much out of a man, in return for what he extracts from them. It is well enough in those where one has the ear of the house, as well as the run of the house, remaining a fixture, while successive parties of guests appear and disappear; for the same bon mots and good stories serve to amuse his Grace on Friday, which were tried upon the country-neighbour party with success, the preceding Monday, as inoculation was attempted upon criminals, before the royal family were submitted to the prick of the lancet. More particularly when the whole set has been renovated. It is a bore to have some single gentleman, or stationary souffre douleur cousin, on the watch for the point of every well-worn anecdote, like people at a pantomime, familiar beforehand with the tricks.
Still, even when one makes a hit, the wear and tear of the thing is prodigious. One goes through the work of three dinners per diem;to wit, breakfast, luncheon, and dinner,—and all without refreshment! In town, one has the chance of the clubs and morning visits to brighten one; but in a country house, where one can only rub up per aid of the new works and periodicals lying on the table, or visits shared in common with the rest of the party, one must fall back on one's own resources, and the effort is prodigious.
This is the third Christmas I have spent at K― Park; and decidedly, I must provide for myself elsewhere next winter. Lord K. is such a bore, with his everlasting relations !—that eternal brother and sister-in-law, and the neighbours Sir John and Lady Wiseacre, seem as completely established there, as the family plate; and it is too much to expect a man to do the agreeable, year after year, to the same people. I saw a smile exchanged between K and Lady Theresa, when began my famous story about Perceval and Michael Angelo Taylor, as much as to say, “WHAT, AGAIN?"-And the Wiseacres, who are as rude as all the rest of the Shropshire squirearchy, told me in plain terms one morning at breakfast, on my attempting to hitch in poor Copley's capital pun about Vale Royal, that they had been circulating it all over the country ever since they heard it from my lips, five years ago!
Rebuffs of that description are like a blow with a pole-axe. Next Christmas, I will try Yorkshire. Yorkshire is unbroken ground. They are hospitable people, with a good hearty, wholesome laugh at one's service, and a strong capacity for being amused. There is something exhilarating in a fresh audience of that description.
I am sadly afraid, meanwhile, that K― Park was a failure!-I did not do what was expected of me, or what I expect of myself. Several of the dinners were flat as the turbot; and the Duke yawned fifty-four times during the two short days he was there. I saw Lord K― look at me reproachfully, as much as to insinuate that it was my fault; and I have no doubt he said to Lady Theresa, "I would not have invited Prattles, if I had known how dull he was growing;" whereas had not Lady Theresa and her husband been there, I should
Wilmot K is the dullest fellow breathing; s cold steadfast eye chills one like a nightmare!— good story of Lady Theresa's English nursery-maid, ghtmare" the "coach-mare," having caught the m the French bonne.)
- Park.-It would be the deuce and all if a rumour t our party was fiasco. I had been foolish enough near, that I was going. It has always a respectable Christmas after Christmas, to the same country se yawns of the Duke's, therefore, get into circuay cut me out of pleasant dinner-parties without decidedly to cut K Park next year, I have a the initiative, and proclaim that the party was a be laid to the Kennedys, who were there for the st Christmas, nothing could be more brilliant than is so universally admitted to have been the life and hat I was to be invited to all Lady Hunchback's solely on the strength of K― Park.
dys shall answer for it. They are vulgar, pushing ything that false finery will do, to climb into good t do. There is nothing in either of them congeess haut ton of the great world. I heard Lady the Duke one evening, "I never saw one of Lord rn out so ill. Too much quince in the apple-pie ys in the menagerie!-One keeps fancying that se people were invited to entertain, had sent excuses. 1orus; but the soprano and prima donna are absent
ed by one of his best-executed yawns! -And after ted one to be agreeable !—
er! Parliament has met, and the dinners are bee country-house work till Easter, except for foxnuse them, heaven be thanked, no one ever dreams ation men. The whipper-in suffices.
the commencement of the season is to look over my sowing cards for the dinner-crop, and a melancholy r three of my best dowagers are pretty sure to have terval, as is the case this very year. There is se, in Berkeley Square, whose cook was really a mea fellow who will one day rank with the Udes and illed at the door the other day, to inquire what was nd find that one of the executors has bribed him off is a public loss. Besides which, the man himself is chat description requires an enlightened audience. ely up to more than roast and boiled. It is throwwine to give them such a man as Survilliers, who l inspiration.
ooked forward to many more pleasant dinner parties e's. There was no more occasion for that woman to enty-three, she was strong as a seventy-four-(mem. might have lived to be a hundred. It was entirely She would go dining out, when, with such a cook as her duty to dine at home. And then she called cary, instead of adhering to Sir Thomas, who never
does anything, so that his patients have some chance of getting through. I don't mean to be ill-natured; but if I were a man of sufficient consequence for my funeral to figure in the Morning Post, with a list of the mourners,-"third mourning coach, the medical attendant of the deceased Earl, John Pillbox, Esq."-I would not employ a young apothecary, who knew that his connection in business might be established by such an advertisement.
Poor Lady Fivecourse!-What a capital set one used to meet at her house! It was one of the places where I most enjoyed myself. Nothing but quiet, humdrum, mediocre people, who understood nothing but eating, and for whom one's oldest stories had the charm of novelty. I remember at a dinner in Berkeley Square, last April, setting the table in a roar with an anecdote, which originally set me up as a dining-out man, in the time of George the Fourth! It was a story of Jekyll's; but he never did it justice, his imitation of the brogue being wretched. It improved in my hands. There are some stories, like some wines, which grow mellow with travelling. I never told it better than that day at Lady Fivecourse's, for I was taking pains. Lord Grangehurst was there; and I was wild to get an invitation to his new house, with the style and splendour of which the newspapers had been boring one for the last year. The spec. prospered. I dined with him three times after Easter, and was asked to Grangehurst for the battue. But, on the whole, I was not satisfied. His cellar is not what it ought to be. No man ought to pretend to Hock who is not certain that his grandfather saw it in bottle.
Good lord! what a sorry life should I have led, but for the lucky chance which gave me a cast in the Marquis of Woodsbury's postchaise, on our transit from Oxford on quitting college!-Both were in high spirits, bursting forth like a fresh-opened bottle of champagne; and my companion fortunately mistook spirits for wit. The mistakes of a young nobleman in the enjoyment of thirty thousand a-year are sure to find imitators. The women who wanted Woodsbury, whether for themselves or their daughters, protested that I was a charming creature; and after Woodsbury married, they did not think it decent to swallow their words, as they had swallowed mine.
During the scene of his bachelorhood I was invited everywhere. It disarmed suspicion,—that is, the pretty creatures fancied it disarmed suspicion to say, "Mr. Prattles, are you disengaged on Friday?-We shall be delighted to see you at half-past seven. Lord Woodsbury, will you do me the favour to meet Mr. Prattles?"-though if, after my acceptance, it turned out that Woodsbury had a prior engagement, they took care to make my venison, mutton, and my claret, ordinaire. They were practising on my inexperience, and I upon their cunning; for it was at the expense of these manoeuvres I learnt almost all I know of the ways of the world.
I was such a boy, that they talked freely before me; making it tolerably clear that, according to the code of fashionable hospitality, nobody must expect to be entertained who cannot entertain in their turn, either by their invitations, or their power of shedding grace upon the invitations of others.
This was a cruel lesson. Chambers, I knew, were my destiny. I was as likely to have a mitre to give away, as a dinner. I had no alternative, therefore, but to abjure the lordly haunch and luscious pine, and stick to loins of mutton carved haunchwise, and meally apples by
way of dessert, or study to become amusing. I am convinced that any person of even moderate abilities may become anything he chooses, perforce of earnestness of purpose,- a stay-maker, or a Chancellor, or an opera-dancer, or a conjuror, or a quarterly reviewer,-no matter what! It is only the enervation of indolence that causes one to lag in the van. Before the Woodsbury spec. was over, I had run over my part, and was almost perfect. I watched the conversation men of the day; studied their very studied mode of being unstudied in their wit.—I discerned the most natural mode of lugging in impromptus made at leisure. Mademoiselle Mars at sixty-five enacts the part of the ingénue, or simple young girl, better than all the little misses of sixteen on the Parisian stage. So the skilful professional wit throws out bait for his own puns, as Anthony sent divers into the river to attach fishes to his hook, when angling in presence of Cleopatra.
There were giants on the earth in those days. There were some capital dining-out men on the pavé. From punning Caleb Whiteford to racy Joseph Jekyll, from polished William Spencer to unrivalled Sharpe, from Colman to Canning,-from Brummell to Alvanley,from Copley to Ward, there was talking going on in London every day, between six and nine, which it did one's heart harm to hear; so envious did it make one of their colloquial tactics.
To attain high eminence as a diner-out, something more is required than the mere power of conducing to the amusement of the company. A very entertaining fellow, who was nothing but an entertaining fellow, and known to be in want of a dinner, might be asked once or twice, by way of lion, but would never be tolerated as a regular dinner guest in our best houses. In the first place, the diner-out must eat like an epicure, and not like a glutton. A hungry man is not sufficiently at ease in his body, to be at ease in his mind. To be able to dispose of his own faculties, he must be in circumstances to appreciate the merits of the entrée he is tasting, while the party is tasting his bon mots, but not to be engrossed by their excellence. His responsibility to his host must preponderate over the exquisiteness of his palate.
People do not like to throw away a first-rate menu upon a man who does not know quenelles de veau from sweetbreads, any more than on a fellow who sends his plate half a dozen times to the joint on the side
On this head, I had nothing to fear. I possessed what is called "a genteel independence;" I was certain of my roast and boiled, fish and soup, at my own expense, all the three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. But what a prospect! Roast and boiled from the 1st of January to the 31st of December, when so many stew-pans were simmering in the aristocratic kitchens of Great Britain! I felt that I had done nothing to deserve such a sentence at the hand of destiny. I felt myself predestined to the salmi and the capilotade; and, by dint of following up my vocation, can safely say, that for the last six seasons, not a man in this gastronomical metropolis has enjoyed a more universal acquaintance with the sauce-boats of the great world.
A vulgar-minded man, incapable of seizing the lights and shadows of social life, thinks it enough to push on straight to the mark; and, with a predetermination to be entertaining, begins to open his budget before the soup is off the table. Whereas there is scarcely more art required in dressing the dinner, than in addressing those who are invited to eat it. There are certain appointed epochs of a dinner, differ