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The little beau, who has now forced himself into my intimacy, was yesterday giving me a minute detail of the intended procession. All men are eloquent upon their favourite topic ; and this seemed peculiarly adapted to the size and turn of his understanding. His whole mind was blazoned over with a variety of glittering images; coronets, escutcheons, lace, fringe, tassels, stones, bugles, and spun glass. “Here,” cried he, “Garter is to walk; and there Rouge Dragon “ marches with the escutcheons on his back. Here “Clarencieux moves forward; and there Blue Mantle “ disdains to be left behind. Here the aldermen “march two and two; and there the undaunted cham“pion of England, no way terrified at the very nu“merous appearance of gentlemen and ladies, rides forward in complete armour, and with an intrepid air throws down his glove. Ah,” continued he, should any one be so hardy as to take up that fatal glove, and so accept the challenge, we should see fine sport; the champion would show him no mercy; he would soon teach him all his passes with a witness. However, I am afraid we shall have none willing to try it with him upon the approaching occasion for two reasons: first, because his antagonist would stand a chance of being killed in “ the single combat ; and secondly, because if he “escapes the champion's arm, he would certainly be hanged for treason. No, no, I fancy, none will be so hardy as to dispute it with a champion like him inured to arms; and we shall probably see him prancing unmolested away, holding his bridle thus in one hand, and brandishing his dram cup in the other.”
Some men have a manner of describing, which only wraps the subject in more than former obscurity; thus was I unable, with all my companion's volubility, to form a distinct idea of the intended procession. I was certain that the inauguration of a king should be conducted with solemnity and religious awe; and I could not be persuaded that there was much solemnity in this description. If this be true, cried I to myself, the people of Europe surely have a strange manner of mixing solemn and fantastic images together; pictures at once replete with burlesque and the sublime. At a time when the king enters into the most solemn compact with his pecple, nothing surely should be admitted to diminish from the real majesty of the ceremony. A ludicrous image brought in at such a time throws an air of ridicule upon the whole. It some way resembles a picture I have seen, designed by Albert Durer, where, amidst all the solemnity of that awful scene, a Deity judging, and a trembling world awaiting the decree, he has introduced a merry mortal trundling his scolding wife to hell in a wheelbarrow. My companion, who mistook my silence, during this interval of reflection, for the rapture of astonishment, proceeded to describe those frivolous parts of the show, that mostly struck his imagination; and to assure me that if I staid in this country some months longer I should see fine things. “For my own part.” continued he, “I know already of fifteen suits of * clothes, that would stand on one end with gold lace, “ all designed to be first shown there ; and as for “ diamonds, rubies, emeralds and pearls, we shall see * them, as thick as brass nails in a sedan chair. And then we are all to walk so majestically hus; this foot always behind the foot before. The ladies are * to fling nosegays; the court poets to scatter verses; the spectators are to be all in full dress; Mrs. Tibbs in a new sacque, ruffles, and frenched hair; look where you will, one thing finer than another; Mrs.
“ Tibbs curtsies to the 1)utchess; her Grace returns “ the compliment with a bow. Largess, cries the “Herald. Make room, cries the Gentleman Usher. “Knock him down, cries the guard. Ah!” continued he, amazed at his own description, “what an “ astonishing scene of grandeur can art produce “from the smallest circumstance, when it thus ac“tually turns to wonder one man putting on another “man’s hat.” I now found his mind was entirely set upon the fopperies of the pageant, and quite regardless of the real meaning of such costly preparations. Pageants, says Bacon, are firetty things; but we should rather study to make them elegant than exfensive. Processions, cavalcades, and all that fund of gay frippery, furnished out by tailors, barbers, and tirewomen, mechanically influence the mind into veneration: an emperor in his hight-cap would not meet with half the respect of an emperor with a glittering crown. Politics resemble religion : attempting to divest either of ceremony is the most certain method of bringing either into contempt. The weak must have their inducements to admiration as well as the wise ; and it is the business of a sensible government, to impress all ranks with a sense of subordination, whether this be effected by a diamond buckle or a virtuous edict, a sumptuary law or a glass necklace. This interval of reflection only gave my companion spirits to begin his description afresh ; and as a greatco inducement to raise my curiosity, he informed me of the vast sums that were given by the spectators for places. “ That the ceremony must be fine,” cries he “is very evident from the fine price that is paid * for seeing it. Several ladies have assured me, they “ would willingly part with one eye, rather than be “ prevented from looking on with the other. Come,
“ come,” continues he, “I have a friend who for my “ sake will supply us with places at the most reasonable rates; I will take care you shall not be imposed upon; and he will inform you of the use, finery, rapture, splendour, and enchantment of the whole ceremony better than I.” Follies often repeated lose their absurdity, and assume the appearance of reason: his arguments were so often and so strongly enforced, that I had actually some thoughts of becoming a spectator. We accordingly went together to bespeak a place ; but guess my surprise, when the man demanded a purse of gold for a single seat: I could hardly believe him serious upon making the demand. “ Prithee, friend,” cried I, “ after I have paid twenty pounds for sitting “ here an hour or two, can I bring a part of the coro“ nation back o’ Wo, Sir. “How long can I live upon “ it after I have come away :" Wot long, Sir. “Can “ a coronation clothe, feed, or fatten me?” Sir, replied the man, you seem to be under a mistake : all that you can bring away is the fileasure of having it to say, that you saw the coronation. “ Blast me,” cries Tibbs, “if that be all, there is no need of paying for that, “ since I am resolved to have that pleasure, whether * I am there or no " I am conscious my friend, that this is but a very confused description of the intended ceremony. You may object, that I neither settle rank, precedency, nor place ; that I seem ignorant whether Gules walks before or behind Garter; that I have neither mentioned the dimensions of a lord’s cap, nor measured the length of a lady's tail. I know your delight is in minute description; and this I am unhappily disqualified from furnishing; yet upon the whole I fancy it will be no way comparable to the magnificence of our late emperor Whangú's procession, when he was
married to the moon, at which Fum Hoam himself Presided in person. Adieu.
-----LETTER CV. TO THE SAME'.
IT was formerly the custom here, when men of distinction died, for their surviving acquaintance to throw each a slight present into the grave. Several things of little value were made use of for that purpose ; perfumes, reliques, spices, bitter herbs, chamomile, wormwood, and verses. This custom however is almost discontinued; and nothing but verses alone are how lavished on such occasions; an oblation which they suppose may be interred with the dead, without any injury to the living. Upon the death of the great, therefore, the poets and undertakers are sure of employment. While one provides the long cloak, black staff, and mourning coach, the other produces the pastoral or elegy, the monody or apotheosis. The nobility need be under no apprehensions, but die as fast as they think proper, the poet and undertaker are ready to supply them; these can find metaphorical tears and family escutcheons at half an hour's warning; and when the one has soberly laid the body in the grave, the other is ready to fix it figuratively among the stars. There are several ways of being poetically sorry on such occasions. The bard is now some pensive youth of science, who sits deploring among the tombs; again he is Thyrsis complaining in a circle of harmless sheep. Now Britannia sits upon her own shore, and gives a loose to maternal tenderness; at another time, Parnassus, even the mountain Parnas
- Vol. IV. M