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GEORGE CULPEPPER's ambition has been at length gratified. He has become acquainted with a Captain of Dragoons. Captain Augustus Thackeray and he happened to go in the same steam-vessel, the Majestic, to Margate, on a certain Saturday; they, moreover, returned together on the Monday following. While sojourning at that populous watering-place, they dined in the same coffee-room.
Mutual ennui produced mutual acquaintance. They discussed the weather and the price of mackarel ; the Upper and the Lower Pier ; the Light-house, and the North Foreland; the forward state of the harvest, and the scarcity of fine women at the last night's assembly at Howe's. It has even been rumoured, that, on their return by the Eclipse, they danced upon deck with two young ladies from Cranbourne-passage. This, however, they both resolutely deny ; and I own that the rumour lacks confirmation. George, on his return to Savage-gardens, talked much of his new acquaintance, and dropped a hint about inviting him to dinner. The elder Culpepper discountenanced the idea. For his part, he observed, he had not much opinion of the army. Whenever he walked up St. James's-street, which, he thanked his stars, was only twice a year, to receive the rent of a house in Great Ryder-street, he observed three officers in uniform, arm in arm, lounging up and down upon the foot-path, and thrusting the women and children either through the shop-windows, or into the gutter. This, he continued, might be good manners at Boodle's, but it would be voted vulgar at Tom's or John's. Nay, he had a much weightier objection to a red coat. A young puppy in scarlet, one ensign Tibbs, had run up a bill with him, some eighteen years ago, of thirty-six pounds, for slops, and the devil a shilling of the money had he been able to touch from that time to this. George, Clara, and Mamma, pronounced this to be illiberal: they had known many officers who paid their way, and behaved very much like gentlemen, and they had no doubt that Captain Thackeray was one of the number. Well, well!" ejaculated the old gentleman,“ do as you please: if any thing turns out contrary-ways, I wash my hands of it." Captain Thackeray was invited to dinner on the following Wednesday.
On the morning of the last-mentioned day, a consultation took place upon the subject of wine. George and his sister said that no decent people ever sat down to dinner without two long-necked black bottles in the centre of the table, charged with hock and champaign. Old Culpepper offered to produce the key of his cellar-door, and told his son that he was at liberty to drink all the hock and champaign it contained. “It may be bought,” said the son.
“ Then buy it," said the father. This did not suit ; so a bottle of gooseberry and another of perry were settled as the substitutes.
Five precisely was the time written upon the card. The clock struck five-no Captain; it chimed a quarter-still no Captain. Culpepper senior now began to wax fidgety. He looked at his watch-wondered what people could mean by keeping people fasting. People should consider,
that, though some people have no appetite, other people have. “La Papa, don't be fussy," was the consolation administered by Clara, as the clock chimed half after five. “I'll not wait another moment, roared the vender of slops; and was in the act of applying his grasp to the bell-rope, when eleven raps in quick time and seven in slow, proceeding from the ponderous street-door knocker, announced the arrival of the military visitor. The tremendous din echoed to the most distant recesses of Crutched Friars : Miss Patterson, the neighbouring old maid, started from her half-sipped Bohea, and craned her long neck through the casement, to ascertain the phenomenon. Even old Andrew Dixon drew the pipe from his mouth, and " spread his broad nostrils to the wind” like the stag in “Marmion." "Jack, the foot-boy, rushed up breathless from the kitchen to "answer the door;" and finding that the officer carried at his left side a tremendous iron-shod sword, the end of which clattered on the floor; and finding also that a countless quantity of strap, buckle, belt, leather, and chain, commonly called a sabre-tash, hung down intermingled with the weapon, obligingly lent all his strength to aid the sufferer, in bearing a load under which Baron Trenck himself might have fainted ; and as the visitor entered the parlour, could not avoid exclaiming, in a pitiful tone, “Lord ! Lord ! Captain, what have they tied you to?".
The appearance of Captain Augustus Thackeray might indeed have appalled a stouter heart than that which beat in the bosom of Jack the foot-boy. His age appeared to be about twenty-three ; that is, judging from his figure :—for his face was so enveloped in whisker, mustachio, and chin-tuft, that he might have been sixty-three for any thing which that denoted to the contrary. On his head he balanced a mass of fur, like a Patagonian lady's muff, from the apex of which hung a large piece of scarlet cloth edged with gold lace. From his shoulder bung negligently, behind, a blue jacket in the half-on and half-off fashion, decorated with countless loops and buttons of gold, laced with the same material, and edged with sable. Every rib of his body was coated by an external rib of golden filigree, insomuch that he bore the appearance of Harlequin Skeleton turned trooper. His pantaloons of white elastic silk were embroidered by a deep broad seam of scarlet, edged with lace. The above-mentioned sword banged the calf of either leg as he marched toward the fire-place, and might, in time, have bruised those parts of his body, had not each of them been protected by a hussar boot of yellow leather, topped with scarlet, heeled with the same colour, and ornamented in front with a tassel of gold. George Culpepper rose a foot taller from the consciousness of such an acquaintance; Mrs. Culpepper took out her sal volatile; her spouse could scarcely ejaculate, “Glad to see you, Sir;" and Clara was actually thunderstruck with delight. The conversation of the illustrious stranger was as enigmatical as his aspect. That, however, I reserve for another Epistle.
THE YOUNGER BROTHER.
'Tis a warm night, but you can feel the air
But where is Lady Mary's matron grace ?
The gentle Lady Mary scolds her maid,
Inferior ringlets are at last arranged :
your looks express
The knocker now its pealing thunder rolls
And, really, every body comes so late!”
The room shines out, with gay progressive state
But here and there, with sweet Madonna grace
Alas! how vain those glances at the door,
He then displays his trinkets, rich and rare,
wins those who hear, to wish his stay;
Almack’s fair Adelina loses, and French plays,
She wish'd to hide, and yet not quite offend. ** Les principaux traits de l'histoire Grecque et Romaine sont brodés dans mes mouchoirs, pour l'instruction de ma fille,” said a scientific Parisian belle.
Mamma recovers-Can disease withstand Retirement --darkness-ice-and Doctor Bland ? Attackd with vigour thus, her cold gives way; To see the Duke at last she names a day; And deigns that morn her drawing-room to grace, Envelop'd in light folds of Brussels lace ; Beneath her dimpled chin is part confined, The rest falls lightsomely—a veil behind.
'Tis two o'clock-he cannot yet arrive ! “No, Ma! he never visits till past five." “ Then give my notes-now to my daily taskThis perfumed seal is Cupid in a mask, I fear 'tis some petition for Almack's; The strangest people make such bold attacks ?”
She reads--she trembles--and she looks aghast, Like some unhappy merchant, when a blast Has wreck'd the stately ship before his eyes, Where all his hope of earthly treasure lies. No Duke of Nimini, alas ! has won Fair Adelina—but a younger son, Detested name! comprising all the faults That can offend a mother's tender thoughtsHis Grace's brother-ay, and four betweenAbominable-odious-unforeseen. After some nonsense about love and truth, Resistless charms, and unresisting youth, Thus closed the flippant Dandy's foolish note, One more unwelcome never lordling wrote :
“ You see I but deserve a mild rebuke, I never, never said I was the Duke : When first you met me riding, after dark, Your La-ship then mistook me, in the Park ; And feeling that my name, for conquest known, Might fright an infant Cupid from his throne, I mask'd the glories I have fairly won In Love's campaigns. As on a rising sun Shaded by mists, those eyes securely gaze, That might be dazzled by his cloudless rays, I wore my brother's title as a shade ; But now Love's blossoms fully are display'd, Disguise, as useless, may be laid aside. To-day I come to claim my beauteous bride."
The guilty paper, in a thousand scraps, Lies torn and trembling in the ladies' laps. “ Mamma, my dear Mamma! what can be done?" “ Ah, what indeed, my Love!-a younger son !"
From pique, shame, anger Lady Mary wept : Contagious softness on her daughter crept: With noiseless step, amid this shower of tears, Gay, confident, and bright-Lord John appears : The truth he could not doubt, nor they deny, While drops were glistening in each fair one's eye. He made his farewell bow, with easy grace; She dried her tears, lest they might spoil her face; Short were her sorrows-for she still was free, And still might wed the Duke of Nimini.