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trouble of getting to and getting from. Yet the sight of stars and ribbons still pleases me, and one hears things at political drums which one does not hear elsewhere. I recall such a drum in the spring of 1881, when a Liberal wirepuller said, with eager delight, to the wife of a Liberal leader: Old Dizzy is very ill!' And the lady replied, with a wink of complacent intelligence, 'Oh, yes, I know. Dying!' Such are the festive topics of political society.

When drums have followed balls into the region of things which once were enjoyable and are so no longer, we find our social enjoyments practically reduced to dinners for nobody who is well constituted in mind or body goes out to luncheon. February is pre-eminently a month of dinners, if for no other reason, because it brings Parliament together, and Parliament Men' are notoriously fond of dining. Come and dine at 8-potluck, you know. Don't dress.' That hospitable formula recalls a genial knight who dwelt in Berkeley Square, and, applying his whole mind to the subject of dinners, attained to high perfection in the art of giving them. Two benevolent practices of his invention linger pleasantly in the memory. He caused each course to begin at a different point at the table, so that every guest in turn got the first chance at a dish. He dealt out the asparagus like cards, an equal number of pieces to each guest; and if, on the completion of the deal, he saw that any one had got smaller pieces than his neighbours, he used the residue to redress the inequality. Surely such are those actions of the just which smell sweet and blossom in the dust.

'The undevout gastronomer is mad,' and I am as thankful as ever was Thackeray, that typical Londoner, to the hand which feeds me, whether it proffers those 'ortolans stuffed with truffles and truffles stuffed with ortolans,' which are the daily bread of the helots in Park Lane; or confines itself to the roast mutton and apple tart of my own lowlier sphere. By far the wisest of the Prince Consort's recorded sayings was that things taste so much better in small houses.' In praising dinners, I praise, not magnificence, but comfort-and conversation.

The opening of Parliament brings of course a certain influx of parliamentary gossip into conversation. It begins on the eve of the Session at a ministerial drum. 'Why are you in uniform?' 6 Oh, I've come from Balfour's dinner.' 'Oh, do tell us. What's in the Queen's Speech?' 'Oh! only just what one knew

already.' From this illuminating commencement, it flows on during the earlier weeks of the Session, touching in turn on A's good speech, B's palpable falling off, C's chance of office, and the mess that D is making of his work at the Circumlocution Office---till summer comes with its asparagus and plovers' eggs, and we all settle down to the serious pursuit of pleasure.

People say that parliamentary 'shop' is dull, and I don't contradict; but I feel that it delivers one from worse bores. If it had not been for the opening of the Session, we should still be arguing about the Englishwoman's Love-letters, which did so much to desolate December and January. Mystery did for that book what Puffery has done for others. We all remember novels of which the appearance was heralded by announcements that they would make Christianity henceforth impossible, or put the relation of the sexes on a permanently altered basis. The Love-letters came, as far as I know, unpuffed; but the mystery did its work. Every literary lady in London was saddled with authorship, and numbers who were not known as authoresses were whispered to have written a great deal anonymously. Every one looked interesting and conscious, and repudiated the authorship with suggestive embarrassment. Then, again, the mystery gave great scope to man, poor man, dressed in a little brief anonymity. Well-no, he hadn't written them-couldn't indeed say much about them. But one had been in a position to know certain things-and well-when the authorship was disclosed it would surprise us all. This did very well for a time, and a good many absolutely virtuous people enjoyed a temporary reputation for impropriety on the strength of a book which they had neither written nor read. But gradually the mists cleared away. When the critics began to pronounce the book tedious, the claimants for the authorship rapidly dwindled; and the reproach of vulgarity terrified many who would have gloried in riskiness. Presently all the conflicting rumours 'crystallised' in a circumstantial story about an imaginative widow and an unfrocked priest. The bubble of mystery burst; and people awoke to the consciousness that they had been making a grotesque fuss about a thoroughly mediocre performance.

It takes some time for a literary revolution to make its way to the quarter, eminently genteel but not central, where I live; and when we found that we had been admiring the wrong book, the discovery was a heavy blow to our parochial conversation. Ours

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is a very sociable parish. The vicar's wife had what is called 'a little money,' is At Home on Thursdays, and has her drawingroom walled with Morris's pomegranate paper. The vicarage is the social circle of a considerable square, and at least six circumjacent streets. The vicar (privately educated'in boyhood) is of King's College, Cambridge. His admirers say that he is a typical King's man,' which, being interpreted, means a Cambridge man who tries to be like an Oxford man. His academical career culminated in an Ægrotat in Botany; but he loves culture and ensues it. There are dark rumours in the parish that the smoking flax of his faith was nearly quenched by Robert Elsmere,' but quickened into fresh life by the opportune publication of 'Lux Mundi.' He repudiates the old-fashioned designations of High, Low, and Broad; but, if pressed, coyly avows himself of the Deep Church.' In externals he cultivates what may be described as Milliner's Ritual, and his preaching is garnished with quotations from the more familiar poetry of Robert Browning and Matthew Arnold. The name of our National Bard is often on his lips; Jowett's 'Plato' is on his study-table; and he has been heard to speak gushingly of 'dear old Aristotle.' But his chief desire is to be in the movement, and to keep abreast of the latest thinking. Last Advent he held us spell-bound with a course of lectures on 'The Theological Aspects of Mr. Swinburne's Poetry;' and his Christmas sermon on The Master-Christian' was found, by the ladies of his flock, to be very teaching.' To such a one, the Love-letters were a very treasure-trove, and we were not without hope that they might furnish material for some Lenten lectures which should rival Sir Barnes Newcome's celebrated course on Mrs. Hemans and the Poetry of the Affections.

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Before the Lectures

But alas for the cussedness of things! can be delivered, the Letters have gone out of fashion, and, from a remark dropped at the vicarage last Thursday, I gather that we are to have some conferences on the Spiritual Life of English Statesmen, as illustrated by the biographies of Cromwell, Lord Rosebery, Mr. Chamberlain, and Sir John Mowbray.

An incongruous figure has been added to the cultured circle of the vicarage by the introduction of the new curate. This strapping youth played football for his college, and even a year at Wells has failed to eradicate certain secular tendencies. He is large and loud, and cheerful and boisterous: whereas the vicar is grave and soulful, and tender and winning. The curate smacks

one on the back, when the vicar would lay a lily hand caressingly on one's shoulder. The vicar recites mystical morsels of Rossetti, and the curate, without much pressing, sings

With a ladder and some glasses,

You could see the 'Ackney Marshes,
If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between.

His frank avowal that he thought Hendrik Ibsen a fair old rotter' caused a painful sensation at the vicarage tea-table, nor did he mend matters by his story of the little boy who confessed to his uncle that he had taken a surreptitious sip out of his whiskyand-soda, and, thinking it nasty, had 'put it all back again.'

The curate laughed immoderately at his own anecdote. The vicar smiled a smile which was deprecating even to the verge of sickliness; and the vicar's wife hurriedly turned the conversation to the poetry of Mr. Stephen Phillips. At this juncture I made arrangements to leave, and in the street was overtaken by the curate, who asked if I happened to have got a smoke about me, and promised (quite unsolicited) to look me up the first time he came my way.

VOL. X.-NO. 56, N.S.






IT was Tignonville's salvation that the men who crowded the long white-walled room, and exchanged vile boasts under the naked flaring lights, were of all classes. There were butchers, natives of the surrounding quarter whom the scent of blood had drawn from their lairs; and there were priests with hatchet faces, who whispered in the butchers' ears. There were gentlemen of the robe, and mechanics, rich merchants in their gowns, and bare-armed ragpickers, sleek choristers, and shabby ledcaptains; but from all, gentle or simple, rose the same cry for blood, the same aspiration to be first equipped for the fray. one corner a man of rank stood silent and apart, his hand on his sword; the working of his face alone betraying the storm that reigned within. In another, a Norman horse-dealer talked in low whispers with two thieves. In a third, a gold-wire drawer addressed an admiring group from the Sorbonne; and meantime the middle of the floor grew into a seething mass of muttering, scowling men, through whom the last comers, thrust as they might, had much ado to force their way.


And from all under the low ceiling rose a ceaseless hum, though none spoke loud. Kill! kill! kill!' was the burden; the accompaniment such profanities and blasphemies as had long disgraced the Paris pulpits, and day by day had fanned the bigotry already at a white heat-of the Parisian populace. Tignonville turned sick as he listened, and would fain have closed his ears. But for his life he dared not. And presently a cripple in a beggar's garb, a dwarfish, filthy creature with matted hair, twitched his sleeve, and offered him a whetstone.

Copyright, 1901, by Stanley J. Weyman, in the United States of America.

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