Some Private Views
by James Payn
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In the case of the fair sex, however, it may be urged that they have not the same chances; they have no whist clubs, and the majority of them entertain the extraordinary delusion that it is wrong to play at whist in the afternoon. One may talk scandal over kettle-drums, and go to morning performances at the theatre, but one may not play at cards till after dinner. There is even quite a large set of male persons who, 'on principle,' do not play at whist in the afternoon. In seasons of great adversity, when fortune has not given me my 'fair chance' for many days, I have sometimes 'gone on strike,' as it is termed, and joined them; but anything more deplorable than such a state of affairs it is impossible to imagine. After their day's work is over, these good people can't conceive what to do with themselves, and, between ourselves, it is my experience, drawn from these occasional 'intervals of business,' that this practice of not playing whist in the afternoon generally leads to dissipation.

It is sometimes advanced by this unhappy class, by way of apology, that they play at night; which may very possibly be the case, but they don't play well. There is no such thing, except in the sense in which after-dinner speaking is called 'good,' as good whist after dinner. It may seem otherwise, even to the spectators; but having themselves dined like the rest, they are not in a position to give an opinion. The keenness of observation is blunted by food and wine; the delicate perceptions are gone; and what is left of the intelligence is generally devoted to finding faults in your partner's play. The consciousness of mistakes on your own part, which he is in no condition to discern, instead of suggesting charity, induces irritation, and you are persuaded, till you get the next man, that you are mated with the worst player in all Christendom. Moreover, that 'one more rubber' with which you propose to finish is generally elastic (Indian rubber), and you sit up into the small hours and find them disagree with you. If I ever write that new series of the 'Chesterfield Letters' which I have long had in my mind, and for which I feel myself eminently qualified, my most earnest advice to young gentlemen of fashion will be found in the golden rule, 'Never sit down to whist after dinner;' it is a mistake, and almost an immorality. If they must play cards, let them play Napoleon.

With regard to finding fault with one's partner, I have no apology to offer for it under any circumstances; but it must be remembered that this does not always arise from ill-temper, or the sense of loss that might have been gain. There are many lovers of whist for its own sake to whom bad play, even in an adversary, excites a certain distress of mind; when a good hand is thrown away by it, they experience the same sort of emotion that a gourmand feels who sees a haunch of venison spoilt in the carving. In such a case a gentle expression of disapproval is surely pardonable. And I have observed that, with one or two exceptions (non Angli sed angeli, men of angelic temper rather than ordinary Englishmen), the good players who never find fault are not socially the pleasantest. They are men who 'play to win,' and who think it very injudicious to educate a bad partner who will presently join the ranks of the Opposition.

What is rather curious—and I speak with some experience, for I have played with all classes, from the prince to the gentleman farmer—the best whist-players are not, as a rule, those who are the most highly educated or intellectual. Men of letters, for example (I am speaking, of course, very generally), are inferior to the doctors and the warriors. Both the late Lord Lytton and Charles Lever had, it is true, a considerable reputation at the whist-table, but though they were good players, they were not in the first class; while the author of 'Guy Livingstone,' though devoted to the game, was scarcely to be placed in the second. The best players are, one must confess, what irreverent persons, ignorant of the importance of this noble pursuit, would term 'idlers'—men of mere nominal occupation, or of none, to whom the game has been familiar from their youth, and who have had little else to do than to play it.

While some men, as I have said, can never be taught whist, a few are born with a genius for the game, and move up 'from high to higher,' through all the grades of excellence, with a miraculous rapidity; but, whether good, bad, or indifferent, I have not known half a dozen whist-players who were not superstitious. Their credulity is, indeed, proverbial, but no one who does not mix with them can conceive the extent of it; it reminds one of the African fetish. The country apothecary's wife who puts the ivory 'fish' on the candlestick 'for luck,' and her partner, the undertaker, who turns his chair in hopes to realise more 'silver threepences,' are in no way more ridiculous than the grave and reverend seigneurs of the Clubs who are attracted to 'the winning seats' or 'the winning cards.' The idea of going on because 'the run of luck' is in your favour, or of leaving off because it has declared itself against you, is logically of course unworthy of Cetywayo. The only modicum of reason that underlies it is the fact that the play of some men becomes demoralised by ill-fortune, and may, possibly, be improved by success. Yet the belief in this absurdity is universal, and bids fair to be eternal. 'If I am not in a draught, and my chair is comfortable, you may put me anywhere,' is a remark I have heard but once, and the effect of it on the company was much the same as if in the House of Convocation some reverend gentleman had announced his acceptance of the religious programme of M. Comte.

With the few exceptions I have mentioned, whist-players not only stop very far short of excellence in the game, but very soon reach their tether. I cannot say of any man that he has gone on improving for years; his mark is fixed, and he knows it—though he is exceptionally sagacious if he knows where it is drawn as respects others—and there he stays till he begins to deteriorate. The first warning of decadence is the loss of memory, after which it is a question of time (and good sense) when he shall withdraw from the ranks of the fighting men and become a mere spectator of the combat. It was said by a great gambler that the next pleasure in life to that of winning was that of losing; and to the real lover of whist, the next pleasure to that of playing a good game is that of looking on at one.

Whist has been extolled, and justly, upon many accounts; but the peculiar advantage of the game is, perhaps, that it utilises socially many persons who would not otherwise be attractive. Unless a player is positively disagreeable, he is as good to play whist with as a conversational Crichton. Moreover, though the poet has hinted of the evanescent character of 'friendships made in wine,' such is not the case with those made at whist. The phrase, 'my friend and partner,' used by a well-known lady in fiction, in speaking of another lady, is one that is particularly applicable to this social science, and holds good, as it does, alas, in no other case, even when the partner becomes an adversary.


It is a favourite utterance of a much 'put-upon' Paterfamilias of my acquaintance, when he finds his family more than usually too much for him, and cynically confesses his own shortcomings, that 'children cannot be too particular in their choice of their parents, or begin their education too early.'

But not only are children a necessity—that is, if the world of men and women is to be kept going, concerning the advantage of which there seems, however, just now, to be some doubt,—but when they have arrived, they cannot, except in very early life, be easily got rid of. In this respect they differ from the relations whose case I am about to consider, and also possess a certain claim upon us over and above the mere tie of blood, since we are responsible for their existence. The obligation on the other side is, I venture to think, a little exaggerated. If there is such a thing as natural piety, which, even in these days, few are found to deny, it is the reverence, it is true, with which children regard their parents; but their moral indebtedness to them as the authors of their being is open to doubt. That theory, indeed, appears to be founded upon false premises; for, unless in the case of an ancestral estate, I am not aware that the existence of children is much premeditated. On the contrary, their arrival is often looked upon, from pecuniary reasons, with much apprehension, or, at best, till they do arrive, they may be described, in common phrase, as 'neither born nor thought of.' I am a father myself, but I wish to be fair and to take a just view of matters. If a mother leaves her child on a doorstep, for example, the filial bond can hardly be expected to be very strong. In such a case, indeed, the infant seems to me to have a very distinct grievance against its female parent, and to be under no very overwhelming obligation to its father. 'Handsome is as handsome does' is a principle that applies to all relations of life, including the nearest; and if duty never absolutely ceases to exist, it is, at all events, greatly moulded by circumstances.

Patriotism, for instance, is very commendable, but your country must be worth something to make you love it. It is next to impossible that an inhabitant of Monaco, for example, should be patriotic. He can at most be only parochial. The love of one's mother is probably the purest and noblest of all human affections; but some people's mothers are habitual drunkards, and others professional thieves. Even filial reverence, it is plain, must stop somewhere. That is one of the objections which, with all humility, I feel to the religion of M. Comte. The worship of my grandmother would be impossible to me, unless I had reason to believe her to have been a respectable person. Her relationship, unless I had had the advantage of her personal acquaintance, would weigh I fear, but little with me, and that of my great-grandmother nothing at all. The whole notion of ancestry—unless one's ancestors have been distinguished people—seems to me ridiculous. If they have not been distinguished people—folks, that is, of whom some record has been preserved—how is one to know that they have been worthy persons, whose mission has been to increase the sum of human happiness? If, on the other hand, they have been only notorious, and done their best to decrease it, I should be most heartily ashamed of them. The pride of birth from this point of view—which seems to me a very reasonable one—is not only absurd, but often very reprehensible. We may be exulting, by proxy, in successful immorality, or even crime. Our boastfulness of our progenitors is necessarily in most cases very vague, because we know so little about them. When we come to the particular, the record stops very short indeed—generally at one's grandmother, who, by the way, plays a part in the dream-drama of ancestry little superior to that of that 'rank outsider,' a mother-in-law. 'Tell that to your grandmother' is a phrase that certainly did not originate in reverence; and even when that lady is proverbially alluded to in a complimentary sense, her intelligence is only eulogised in connection with the 'sucking of eggs.'

It so happens that I have quite a considerable line of ancestors myself, but only one of them ever distinguished himself, and that (he was an Attorney-General) in a doubtful way; and I confess I don't take the slightest interest in them. I prefer the pleasant companion with whom I came up in the train yesterday, and whose name I forgot to ask, to the whole lot of them.

And if I don't care about ancestors on canvas (for their pictures, of course, are all we have seen of them), I have good cause to be offended with them on paper. My favourite biographies—such as that of Walter Scott, for example—are disfigured by them. When men sit down to write a great man's life, why should they weary us with an epitome of that of his grandfather and grandmother? Of course, the book has to be a certain length. No one is more sensible than myself of the difficulty of providing 'copy' sufficient for two octavo volumes; but I do think biographers should confine themselves to two generations. For my part, I could do with one, but there is the favourite theory of a great man's inheriting his greatness from the maternal parent, which I am well aware cannot be dispensed with. It is like the white horse, or rather the grey mare, in Wouvermanns's pictures; you can't get rid of it any more than Mr. Dick could get Charles I. out of his memorial. For my part, I always begin biographies at the fourteenth chapter (or thereabouts)—'The subject of this memoir was born,' etc.; and even so I find I get quite enough of them. In novels the introduction of ancestry is absolutely intolerable. When I see that hateful chapter headed 'Retrospective,' I pass over to the other side, like the Levite, only quicker. What do I care whether our hero's grandfather was Archbishop of Canterbury or a professional body-snatcher? I don't even care which of the two was my own personal friend's grandfather, and how much less can I take an interest in this imaginary progenitor of the creation of an author's brain? The introduction of such a colourless shadow is, to my mind, the height of impertinence. If I were Mr. Mudie, I would put my foot down resolutely and stamp out this literary plague. As George III., who had an objection to commerce, is said to have observed, when asked to confer a baronetcy on one of the Broadwood family, 'Are you sure there is not a piano in it?' so should Mr. M. inquire of the publisher before taking copies of any novel, 'Are you sure there is not a grandfather in it?'

Again, what a nuisance is ancestry in our social life! It cannot, unhappily, be done away with as a fact, but surely it need not be a topic. How often have I been asked by some fair neighbour at a dinner-table, 'Is that Mr. Jones opposite one of the Joneses of Bedfordshire?' One's first impulse is naturally to ask, 'What on earth is that to you or me?' But experience teaches prudence, and I reply with reverence, 'Yes, of Bedfordshire,' which, at all events, puts a stop to argument upon the matter. Moreover, she seems to derive some sort of mysterious satisfaction from the information, and it is always well to give pleasure.

A well-known wit was once in company with one of the Cavendishes, who had lately been to America, and was recounting his experiences. 'These Republican people have such funny names,' he said. 'I met there a man of the name of Birdseye.' 'Well, and is not that just as good as Cavendish?' replied the wit, who was also a smoker. But the remark was not appreciated.

Ancestral people do not, as a rule, appreciate wit; but, on the other hand, it must be admitted that this is not a defect peculiar to them alone. I once knew a man of letters who, though he had risen to wealth and eminence, was of humble descent, and had a weakness for avoiding allusion to it. His daughter married a man of good birth, but whose literary talents were not of a high order. This gentleman wrote a letter applying for a certain Government appointment, and expressed a wish for his father-in-law's opinion upon the composition. 'It's a very bad letter,' was the frank criticism the other made upon it. 'The writing is bad, the spelling is indifferent, the style is abominable. Good heavens! where are your relatives and antecedents?' 'If it comes to that,' was the reply, 'where are yours? For I never hear you speak about them.' Nor did he ever hear him, for his father-in-law never spoke another word to him.

Nothing, of course, can be more contemptible than to neglect one's poor relations on account of their poverty; but it is very doubtful whether the sum of human happiness is increased by our having so much respect for the mere tie of kindred, unaccompanied by merit. Other things being equal, it is obviously natural that one's near relatives should be the best of friends. But other things are not always equal. Indeed, a certain high authority (which looks on both sides of most questions) admits as much. 'There is a friend,' it says, 'that sticketh closer than a brother. The connection, with its consequences, is somewhat similar to a partnership in commercial life. If partners pull together, and are sympathetic, nothing can be more delightful than such an arrangement. The tie of business clenches the tie of social attraction. For myself, I am not commercial; but I envy the old firm of Beaumont and Fletcher, and the modern one of Erckmann and Chatrian. But if the members of the firm do not pull together? Then, surely the bond between them is most deplorable, and a divorce a vinculo should be obtained as soon as possible.

One of the greatest mistakes—and there are many—that we fall into from a too ready acknowledgment of the tie of kindred is the obligation we feel under to consort with relations with whom we have nothing in common. You may take such persons to the waters of affection, but you cannot make them drink; and the more you see of them the less they are likely to agree with you. Not once, nor twice, but fifty times, in a life experience that is becoming protracted, I have seen this forcible bringing together of incongruous elements, and the result has been always unfortunate. I say 'forcible,' because it has been rarely voluntary; now and then a strong, though, I venture to think, a mistaken sense of duty may lead a man to seek the society of one with whom he has nothing in common save the bond of race; but for the most part they are obeying the wishes of another—the sacred injunction, perhaps, of a parent on his death-bed. 'Be good friends,' he murmurs, 'my children,' not reflecting, in that supreme and farewell hour, how little things, such as prejudice, difference of political or religious opinions, conflicting interests, and the like, affect us while we are in this world, and how perilous it is to attempt to link like with unlike. I am quite certain that when relations do not, in common phrase, 'get on well with one another,' the best chance of their remaining friends is for them to keep apart. This is gradually becoming recognised by 'the common sense of most,' as we see by the falling-off in those family gatherings at Christmas, which only too often partook of the character of that assembly which met under the roof of Mr, Pecksniff, with the disastrous result with which we are all acquainted.

The more distant the tie of blood, the less reason, of course, there is to consider it; yet it is strange to see how even sensible men will welcome the Good-for-nothing, who chance to be 'of kin' to them, to the exclusion of the Worthy, who lack that adventitious claim. The effect of this is an absolute immorality, since it offers a premium to unpleasant people, while it heavily handicaps those who desire to make themselves agreeable. To give a particular example of this, though upon a large scale, I might cite Scotland, where, making allowance for the absence of that University system, which in England is so strong a social tie, there are undoubtedly fewer friendships, in comparison, than there are with us; this I have no hesitation in attributing to clanship—the exaggeration of the family tie—which substitutes nearness for dearness, and places a tenth cousin above the most charming of companions, who labours under the disadvantage of being 'nae kin.'

Again, what is more common than to hear it said, in apology for some manifestly ill-conditioned and offensive person, that he is 'good to his family'? The praise is probably only so far deserved that he does not beat his wife nor starve his children; but, supposing even he treated them as he should do, and, moreover, entertained his ten-times removed cousins to dinner every Sunday, what is that to me who do not enjoy his unenviable hospitality? Let his cousins speak well of him by all means; but let the rest of the world speak as they find. I protest against the theory that the social virtues should limit themselves to the home circle, and still more, that they should extend to the distant branches of it to the exclusion of the world at large.

Of Howard, the philanthropist, it is said—and, I notice, said with a certain cynical pleasure—that, notwithstanding his universal benevolence, he behaved with severity ta his own son. I have not that intimate acquaintance with the circumstances which, to judge by the confidence of their assertions, his traducers possess, but I should be slow to believe, in the case of such a father, that the son did not deserve all he got, or was not forgiven even to the seventy times seventh offence. There is, however, no little want of reason in the ordinary acceptation of the term, 'loving forgiveness.' He must be a very morose man who does not forgive a personal injury, especially when there has been an expression of repentance for it; but there are offences which, quite independently of their personal sting, manifest in the offender a cruel or bad heart, and 'loving forgiveness' is in that case no more to be expected than that we should take a serpent who has already stung us to our bosom. 'It is his nature to,' as the poet expresses it, and if that serpent is my relative it is my misfortune, and by no means impresses me with a sense of obligation. Indeed, in the case of an offensive relation, so far from his having any claim to my consideration, it seems to me I have a very substantial grievance in the fact of his existence, and that he owes me reparation for it.

It is perhaps from a natural reaction, and is a sort of unconscious protest against the preposterous claims of kinship, that our connections by marriage are so freely criticised, and, to say truth, held in contempt. No one enjoins us to love our wife's relations, indeed, our own kindred are generally dead against them, and especially against her mother, to whom the poor woman very naturally clings. This is as unreasonable in the way of prejudice, as the other line of conduct is in the way of favouritism. It is, in short, my humble opinion that, if everyone stood upon his or her own merits, and was treated accordingly, this world of ours would be the better for it; and of this I am quite sure—it would have fewer disagreeable people in it. I am neither so patriotic nor so thorough-going as the American citizen, who, during the late Civil War, came to President Lincoln, and nobly offered to sacrifice on the altar of freedom 'all his able-bodied relations;' but I think that most of us would be benefited if they were weeded out a bit.


It has always struck me as a breach of faith in Charles Lamb to have published the fact that dear, 'rigorous' Mrs. Battle's favourite suit was Hearts: and is in my eyes, notwithstanding Mr. Carlyle's posthumous outburst, the only blot on his character. His own confession, though tendered with a blush, that there is such a thing as sick whist stands on totally different grounds; it is not a relaxation of principle, but an acknowledgment of a weakness common to human nature. One of the most advanced thinkers and men of science of our time has frankly admitted that his theological views are considerably modified by the state of his health; and if one's ideas on futurity are thus affected, it is no wonder that things of this world wear a different appearance when viewed from a sick bed. It is not difficult to imagine that whist, for example, played on the counterpane by three good Samaritans, to while away the hours for an afflicted friend, differs from the game when played on a club card-table. Common humanity prevents our saying what we think of the play of an invalid who may be enjoying his last rubber; and if the ace of trumps is found under his pillow, we only smile and hope it will not occur again.

On the other hand, literary taste would, one would think, be the last thing to vary with our physical condition; yet those who have had long illnesses know better, and will, I am sure, bear me out in the assertion that there are such things as sick books. I do not, of course, speak of devotional works. I am picturing the poor man when he is getting well after a long bout of illness; his mind clear, but inert; his limbs painless, but so languid that they hardly seem to belong to him; and when he regards their attenuated proportions with the same sort of feeble interest that is evoked by eggshell china—they are not useful, still it would be a pity if they broke.

Then it is that one feels a loathing of the strong meats of literature, and a liking for its milk diet. As to metaphysics, one has had enough and to spare of them when one was delirious; while the 'Fairy Tales of Science' do not strike one just then as being quite so fairylike as the poet represents them. As to science, indeed, there is but one thing clear to us, namely, that the theory of evolution is a mistake; for though one's getting better at all is undoubtedly a proof of the survival of the fittest, we are well convinced that we have retrograded from what we were. It would puzzle Darwin himself to fix our position exactly, but though we lack the tenacity, and especially the colour, of the sea-anemone, we seem to be there or thereabouts in the scale of humanity. When last prostrated by rheumatic fever, or its remedies, I remember, indeed, to have been inclined to mathematics. When very ill I had suffered agonies in my dreams from the persecutions of an impossible quantity, and perhaps the association of ideas suggested, as I slowly gathered strength, a little problem in statics. It had been taught me by my dear tutor at Cambridge, whom undergraduates have long ceased to trouble, as a proof of the pathos that dwells in figures; and I kept repeating it to myself, with the letters all misplaced, till I became exhausted by tears and emotion.

As a general rule, however, even mathematics fail to interest the convalescent. 'Man delights not him; no, nor woman neither;' but Literature, if light in the hand, and always provided that he has his back to the window, is a pleasure to him only next to that of his new found appetite and his first chicken. His taste 'has suffered a sick change,' but that by no means implies it has deteriorated. On the contrary, his critical faculty has fled (which is surely an immense advantage), while he has recovered much of that power of appreciation which rarely abides with us to maturity. He is not on the outlook for mistakes, slips of style, anachronisms; he derives no pleasure from the discovery of spots in the sun, but is content to bask in the rays of it. He does not necessarily return to the favourites of his youth, though he has a tendency that way, but the shackles of convention have slipped away from him with his flesh, and he reads what he likes, and not what he has been told he ought to like. He has been so long removed from public opinion, that, like a shipwrecked crew in an open boat, it has ceased to affect him; only, instead of taking to cannibalism, he takes to what is nice. As his physical appetite is fastidious, so his mental palate has a relish only for titbits. If ever there was a time for a reasonable being to 'dip' into books, or to enjoy 'half-hours with the best authors,' this is it; but weak as the patient is, he commonly declines to have his tastes dictated to; perhaps there is an unpleasant association in his mind, arising from Brand and Liebig, with all 'extracts;' but, at all events, those literary compilations oppress and bewilder him; he objects to the extraordinary fertility of 'Ibid,' an author whose identity he cannot quite call to mind, and prefers to choose for himself.

Biography is out of the question. Long before he has got through that account of the hero's great grandmother, from whom he inherited his talents, which is, it seems, indispensable to such works, he yawns, and devoutly wishing, notwithstanding its fatal consequences to the fourth generation, that that old woman had never been born, falls into fitful slumber.

Travels are in the same condemnation; he has not the patience to watch the traveller taking leave of his family at Pimlico, or to follow his cab as he drives through the streets to the railway station, or to share the discomforts of his cabin—all necessary, no doubt, to his eventual arrival in Abyssinia, but hardly necessary to be described. Moreover, the convalescent has probably travelled a good deal on his own account during the last few weeks, for the bed of fever carries one hither and thither with the velocity, though not the ease, of the enchanted carpet in the 'Arabian Nights.' The desire of the sick man is to escape from himself and all recent experiences.

He thinks he will try a little History. Alison? No, certainly not Alison. 'They will be proposing Lingard next,' he murmurs, and the little irritation caused by the well-meant suggestion throws him back for the next six hours. Presently he tries Macaulay, whom some flatterer has fulsomely called 'as good as a novel,' but, though the trial of Warren Hastings gives him a fillip, the rout of Sedgemoor does away with the effect of it, and, happening upon the character of Halifax, he suffers a severe relapse. As a bedfellow, Macaulay is too declamatory, though, at the same time, strange to say, he does not always succeed in keeping one awake. To the sick man Carlyle is preferable; not his 'Frederick,' of course, and still less his 'Sartor Resartus,' which has become a nightmare, without head or tail, but his 'French Revolution.' One lies and watches the amazing spectacle without effort, as though it were represented on the stage. The sea of blood rolls before our eyes, the roar of the mob sounds in our ears; we are carried along with the unhappy Louis to the very frontier, and just on the verge of escape are seized and brought back—King Coach—with him to Paris, in a cold perspiration.

Some people, when in health and of a sane mind (Mr. Matthew Arnold one knows of, and there may be others), take great delight in 'Paradise Regained;' all we venture to say is that in sickness it does not suggest its title. It is said that barley-water goes well with everything; if so, the epic is the exception which proves the rule. Milton is tedious after rheumatic fever, Spencer is worse.

'"Not from the grand old masters, Not from the bards sublime, Whose distant footsteps echo Through the corridors of Time,"'

murmurs the invalid, 'I can't stand them.' He does not mean anything depreciatory, but merely that—

'Like strains of martial music Their mighty thoughts suggest Life's endless toil and endeavour,'

which he is not fit even to think of. He cannot read Keats's 'Nightingale,' but for quite another reason. What arouses 'thoughts too deep for tears' in the hale and strong is to the sick as the sinking for an artesian well. 'The Chelsea Waterworks,' as Mr. Samuel Weller observed of Mr. Job Trotter (at a time when the metropolitan water supply would seem to have been more satisfactory than at present), 'are nothing to him.' On the other hand, Shelley's 'Skylark,' and the 'Dramatic Fragments' of Browning, are as cordials to the invalid, while the poems of Walter Scott are like breezes from the mountains and the sea. In that admirable essay, 'Life in the Sick-room,' the authoress justly remarks, speaking of the advantage of objectivity in sick books, 'Nothing can be better in this view than Macaulay's "Lays," which carry us at full speed out of ourselves.'

But it is not always that the invalid can read the poets at all; like Mrs. Wititterley, his nerves are too delicately strung for the touch of the muse. His chief enjoyment lies in fiction, to the producers of which he can never feel too grateful. I remember, on one occasion when I was very reduced indeed, taking up 'Northanger Abbey,' and reading, with almost the same gusto as though I had been a novelist myself, Miss Austen's defence of her profession. She says:

'I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom, so common with novel-writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances to the number of which they are themselves adding, joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely even permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she accidentally takes up a novel, is sure to turn from its insipid pages with disgust. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers; and while the abilities of the nine-hundred-and-ninety-ninth abridger of the history of England are eulogised by a thousand pens, there seems a general agreement to slight the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them.'

I had quite forgotten till I came upon this passage that Miss Austen had such 'a kick in her,' and I remember how I honoured her for it and sympathised with her sentiments. 'When pain and anguish wring the brow,' we all know who is the comforter; but next to her, and when the brow is getting a little better, we welcome the novelist.

With our face aslant on the pillow, we once more make acquaintance with the characters that have been the delight of our youth, and find they delight us still, but with a difference. The animal spirits of Smollett and Fielding are a little too much for us; there is not sympathy enough in them for our own condition; they seem to have been fellows who were never ill. Perhaps 'Humphrey Clinker,' though it drags at the end, and the political disquisitions are intolerable, is the funniest book that ever was written; but the faculty of appreciation for it is not now in us. We turn with relief to Scott, though not to 'Scott's Works,' in the sense in which the phrase is generally used, as though they were a foundry from which everything is issued of the same workmanship and excellence; whereas there is as much difference between them as there was in her Majesty's ships of old between the gallant seventy-four and the crazy troopship. The invalid, however, as I have said, is far from critical; he only knows what he likes. Judged by this fastidious standard, he finds 'Waverley' somewhat wearisome, and, as to the first part of it in particular, wonders, not that the Great Unknown should have kept it in his desk for years as a comparative failure, but that he should have ever taken it from that repository. 'The Antiquary,' which in health he used to admire, or think he did, exceedingly, has also a narcotic effect; but 'Rob Roy' revives him, and 'Ivanhoe' stirs him like a trumpet-call.

What is very curious, just as the favourite literature of a cripple is almost always that which treats of force and action, so upon our sick-bed we turn most gladly to scenes of heroism and adventure. The famous ride in 'Geoffrey Hamlyn,' where the fate of the heroine, threatened with worse than death from the bush-rangers, hangs upon the horse's speed, seems to us, as we lie abed, one of the finest episodes in fiction. 'Tom Cringle's Log,' too, becomes a great favourite, not more from its buoyancy and freshness than from the melodramatic scenes with which it is interspersed.

In some moods of the sick man's mind, his morbid appetite tends, strange to say, to horrors. He 'snatches a fearful joy' from the weird and supernatural. I have known those terrible tales of Le Fanu, entitled 'In a Glass Darkly,' which for dramatic power and eeriness no other novelist has ever approached, devoured greedily by those whose physical sustenance has been dry toast and arrowroot.

The works of Thackeray are too cynical for the convalescent; he is for the present in too good a humour with destiny and human nature to enjoy them. He prefers the more cheerful aspects of life, and resents the least failure of poetic justice.

Taking the tenants of the sick ward all round, indeed, I have little doubt that the large majority would give their vote for Dickens. His pathos, it is true, is too much for them. Their hearts are as waxen as though Mrs. Jarley herself had made them. They are just in the condition to be melted by 'Little Nell,' and overcome by the death of Paul Dombey. They read 'David Copperfield' with avidity, but are careful to avoid the catastrophe of Dora and even the demise of her four-footed favourite. The book that suits them best is 'Martin Chuzzlewit.' Its genial comedy, quite different from the violent delights of 'Pickwick,' is well adapted to their grasp; while its tragedy, the murder of Montague Tigg—the finest description of the breaking of the sixth commandment in the language—leaves nothing to be desired in the way of excitement. But here we stray beyond our bounds, for 'Martin Chuzzlewit' is not a 'sick book;' or rather, it is one of the very few productions of human genius on the merits of which the opinions of both Sick and Sound are at one.


Even poets when they are on their travels feel the depressing influence of bad weather. Those lines of the Laureate—

'But when we crossed the Lombard plain, Remember what a plague of rain— Of rain at Reggio, at Parma, At Lodi rain, Piacenza rain,'

are not among his best, but they evidently come from his very heart. When he used prose upon that journey his language was probably stronger. It is no wonder, then, that ordinary folks who have only a limited time in which to enjoy themselves, free from the fetters of toil, resent wet days. They are worst of all when we are touring on the Continent, where it is a popular fallacy to suppose the skies are always smiling, but at home they are bad enough. In Scotland, nobody but a Scotchman believes in fine weather, and consequently there is no disappointment; in England the Lake District is, perhaps, the most unfortunate spot for folks to be caught in by rain, because if there is no landscape there is nothing. Spectare veniunt, and when there are only the ribs and lining of their umbrellas to look at, their lot is hard indeed.

Wastwater is a charming place in sunshine—almost the only locality in England where things are still primitive and pastoral; but in rain! I hate exhibitions, but rather than Wastdale in wet weather, give me a panorama. Serious people may talk of 'the Devil's books,' but even a pack of cards, with somebody to play with you, is better under such circumstances than no book.

There is no limit to what human beings may be driven to by stress of weather, and especially by that 'clearing shower,' by which the dwellers in Lakeland are wont euphemistically to describe its continuous downpours. The Persians have another name for it—'the grandmother of all buckets.' I was once in Wastdale with a dean of the Church of England, respectable, sedate, and a D.D. It had poured for days without ceasing; the roads were under water, the passes were impassable, the mountains invisible; there was nothing to be seen but waterfalls, and those in the wrong place; there was no literature; the dean's guide-books were exhausted, and his Bible, it is but charitable and reasonable to suppose, he knew by heart. As for me, I had found three tourists who could play at whist, and was comparatively independent of the elements; but that poor ecclesiastic! For the first few days he occupied himself in remonstrating against our playing cards by daylight; but on the fourth morning, when we sat down to them immediately after breakfast, he began to take an enforced interest in our proceedings. Like a dove above the dovecot, he circled for an hour or two about the table—a deal one, such as thimble-riggers use, borrowed, under protest, from his own humble bedroom—and then, with a murmurous coo about the weather showing no signs of clearing up, he took a hand. Constant dropping—and it was much worse than dropping—will wear away a stone, and it is my belief if it had gone on much longer his reverence would have played on Sunday.

The spectacle that the roads of the district present at such a time is most melancholy. Everyone is in a closed car—a cross between a bathing machine and that convenient vehicle which carries both corpse and mourners; all the windows seem made of bottle glass, a phenomenon produced by the flattening of the noses of imprisoned tourists; and nothing shines except an occasional traveller in oilskin. In such seasons, indeed, oilskin (lined with patience) is your only wear. Ordinary waterproofs in such a climate become mere blotting paper, and with the best of them, without leggings and headgear to match, the poor Londoner might, I do not say just as well be in London (for that is his aspiration all day long), but just as well go to bed at once, and stop there. 'But why does he not go home?' it may be asked: a question to which there are several answers. In the first place (for one must take the average in such cases) because he is a fool. Secondly, like the rest of the well-to-do world, he has suffered the summer, wherein warmth and sunshine are really to be had, to slip by, and has only the fag end of it in which to take holiday. It is now or never—or at all events now or next year—with him. All his friends, too, are out of town, flattening their noses against window panes; his club is under repair, his house in brown holland, his servants on board wages. Like the young gentleman in Locksley Hall, he is so absolutely at the end of his resources, that an 'angry fancy' is all that is left to him. Of course, under its influence he sits down and writes to the Times; but, if the humblest of its correspondents may venture to say so without offence, even that does not help him much. That suicides increase in wet autumns is notorious; but that murders should in these sequestered vales maintain the even tenor of their way is a feather in the cap of human nature. In lodgings, where the pent-up tourist has no one but his wife and family to speak to, where Dick and Tom will romp in his only sitting-room, and Eliza Jane practises all day on the crazy piano, this forbearance is especially creditable.

Even in hotels, however, there is great temptation. On the north-eastern coast, in particular, when the weather has, as the phrase goes, 'broken up,' and the sky and sea have both become one durable drab, the best of women grow irritable, the men morose. At the table d'hote, which even the most exclusive are driven to frequent for company, as sheep huddle together in storm, Dislike ripens to Hate with frightful rapidity. Our neighbour, who always—for it seems always—gets the last of the mushrooms at breakfast, or finishes the oyster sauce at dinner before our very eyes, we are very far, indeed, from loving as ourselves. Our vis-a-vis, the man on his honeymoon, is even still more offensive. We resent his happiness, which is apparently uninfluenced by the state of the weather, and our wife wonders what he could have seen in that chit of a girl to attract his attention. To ourselves she seems a great deal too good for him, and in our rare intervals of human feeling we regard her with the tenderest commiseration. The importance attached to meals, and the time we take over them, have no parallel save among the Esquimaux. The least incident that happens in the hotel is of more moment to us than the overthrow of Empires. The whispered news that a fellow guest has been taken seriously ill, and that a medical consultation has been held upon the case, is a matter to be deplored, of course, but one which is not without its consolations. 'Who is it? What is it? Nothing catching I do hope?' (this last uttered with genuine anxiety) are questions that are heard on every side. The general impression is that some lovely young lady of fashion on the drawing-room floor has been seized with pains in her limbs—and no wonder—from exposure to the elements. Her mother comes down every morning and selects dainties for the sick-room from the public breakfast table; those who are near enough to do so inquire in dulcet tones, 'How is your invalid this morning?' The reply is, 'Better, much better,' which somehow falls short of expectation. Even the most giddy and frivolous of girls has no excuse for frightening people for nothing.

At luncheon one day a very fat, strong boy makes his appearance, and is supplied with soup. All his neighbours who have no soup are wild with envy, though they are well acquainted with that soup at dinner, and know that it is bad. 'What is the meaning of it? Why this favouritism?' we inquire of the waiter furiously. 'Well, you see, sir, he is better now; but that is the invalid.' The delicate, attractive creature we have pictured to ourselves with pains in her limbs turns out, after all, to be a hulking schoolboy, probably bilious from over-eating. The public indignation is excessive, while the subject of it, quite unconscious of the fact, has another plate of soup.

The wild weather out of doors is not, of course, confined to the land, and the sea would be a fine sight if it was not invisible. The waves, indeed, are so high that the fishing-boats which have remained out all night are often warned off, or, as it is locally termed, 'burned off,' from the harbour bar. A tar barrel is lighted for this purpose on the headland, and it is the only thing which the eternal rain cannot utterly squelch and extinguish. Occasionally we venture down upon the pier to see the boats make the harbour, which, not a little to our disappointment, they never fail to do. There are huge buttresses of stone against the pier-head, behind which the new comer imagines he may crouch in perfect safety, till the third wave comes in and convinces him to the contrary. No one ever dreams of 'burning' him off—giving him one word of warning of that unpleasant contingency; for to behold a fellow creature more drenched and dripping than ourselves is very soothing. As to the dangers of maritime life, we are all agreed that they are greatly overrated; and some sceptics even go so far as to suggest that the skeleton ship, half embedded in the sands, which so impresses visitors in fine weather, is not a genuine wreck at all, but has been placed there by the Town Corporation to delude the public.

Now and then we splash down to the quay to see a few million of herrings sold at four shillings a hundred, which will presently induce philanthropic fishmongers in London to advertise 'a glut this morning,' and to retail them at threepence apiece. At rare intervals we explore the dripping town. It is amazing what a fascination the small picture-shops, to which at home we should never give a glance, afford us; even the frontispieces to popular music have unwonted attractions; while the pottery-shops, full of ware made from clay 'peculiar to the locality,' are only too seductive to our wives, who purchase largely what they believe to be great bargains, till they find on their return home the identical articles in Oxford Street, at half the price. In London we never visit the British Museum itself, unless to escort some country cousin, but at Barecliff-on-Sea, in wet weather, the miserable little local Institute, with its specimens of strata, its calf with two heads in spirits, and its petrified toad, is an irresistible temptation. The great event of the day, however, is the wading down to the railway-station (which is in a quagmire) to meet the express train which brings more victims, 'unconscious of their doom,' to Barecliff, and who evidently flatter themselves that the pouring rain is an exceptional phenomenon; it also brings the London newspapers, for which we fight and struggle (the demand being greatly in excess of the supply) and think ourselves fortunate if we secure a supplement. It is true there is a Times in the smoking-room of the hotel, but it is always engaged five deep, is the cause of terrible quarrels, and every afternoon we expect to see it imbrued in gore.

In the evening, when one does not mind the wet so much—'its tooth is not so keen because it is not seen'—there are dissipations at 'the Rooms by the Sea.' Amateur charitable concerts are given there, in which it is whispered that this and that lady at the table d'hote will take part, who become public characters and objects of immense interest in consequence. Thither, too, come 'the inimitable Jones,' from the Edgware Road Music Hall, with his 'unrivalled repertoire of comic songs;' the Spring Board Family, who have been 'pronounced by the general consensus of the medical faculty in London to be unique,' as having neither joints nor backbone; and Herr von Deft, 'who will repeat the same astounding performances which have electrified the reigning families of Europe.' The serious people (for whom 'the glee-singers of Mesopotamia' are also suspected of dropping a line) are angled for by white-cravatted lecturers, who enhance their statistics of conversion by the exhibition of poisoned arrows, and of clubs, on which, with the microscope, may be detected the hairs of missionary martyrs. In fine weather, of course, these attractions would be advertised in vain; but the fact is, our whole community has been reduced by the cruelty of the elements to a sort of second childhood; the rain which permeates everything is softening our brain.

This is only too evident from the conversation in the hotel porch where the men meet every morning to discuss the topic of the day—the weather. A sullen gloom pervades them—the first symptom of mental aberration. Those, on the other hand, who express their opinion that it 'really seems to be clearing a little' are in more advanced stages. We who are less afflicted shake our heads, and murmur painfully, but also with a considerable touch of contempt, 'Poor fellows!'

The piano in the ladies' drawing-room is always going, but it excites no soothing influence; there is an impression in the hotel that the performers are foreigners, and should be discouraged. But there is one instrument hanging in the hall on which everyone plays, native or alien, and every note is discord. It is the barometer. People talk of the delicacy of scientific instruments; if they are right, the shocks which that barometer survives proves it to be an exception. Batter it as we may, and do, the faithful needle, with a determination worthy of a better cause, maintains its position at 'Much Rain.' The manager is appealed to vehemently, coarsely; he shrugs his shoulders, protests with humility that he cannot help the weather, or affirms it is unprecedented—which we do not believe. Other managers—in the Engadine, for example—the papers say, are providing excellent weather; what does he mean by it?

At last one morning, wetter than ever, some noble spirit, the Tell of our liberties, exclaims, 'Who would be free, himself must strike the blow.' His actual words (if one was not writing history) are, 'Hang me if I stand this any longer,' and they strike the keynote of everybody's thought. He goes away by the next train, and his departure is followed by the same effects as the tapping of a reservoir. The hotel company—I mean the inmates; the company goes into bankruptcy—stream off at once to their own homes. That journey through the pouring rain is the happiest day of our wet holiday. How beautiful looms soaking, soppy, smoky London! In that excellent town who cares for rain?

'Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! You cataracts and hurricanoes spout.'

Pooh! pooh! Call a cab—call two!


It was held by wise men of old that adversity was the test of friendship, but as his Excellency the Minister of the United States has observed, per Mr. Biglow, 'They did not know everything down in Judee;' and among other subjects of which those ancient writers were necessarily ignorant was that of Continental travel. The coming to grief of a friend is unquestionably very inconvenient; as a millionaire of my acquaintance observes (under the influence, as he confidently believes, of benevolent emotion), 'One likes to see one's friends prosperous;' but even when they are not so, it requires some effort to follow the dictates of prudence and cast them off. And, after all, the man, even though you may cut him, remains the same; as fit for the purposes of friendship as ever, except for his pecuniary condition. There is no such change in his relation to oneself as Emerson describes in one of his essays; his words I forget, and his works are miles away, but the man he has in his mind has in some way fallen short of expectation—declined, perhaps, to lend the philosopher money. 'Yesterday,' he says, 'my friend was the illimitable ocean; to-day he is a pond.' He had come to the end of him. And some friends, as my little child complains as he strokes his black kitten, 'end so soon.'

There are no circumstances, however, under which friendship comes so often to a violent and sudden death as under the pressure of travel. It is like the fate which the Scientific ascribe to a box sunk in the sea; after a certain depth, which varies according to the strength of the box, the weight of the superincumbent water bursts it up. It is merely a question of how deep or how strong. Our travelling companion remains our friend for a day, for a week, for even a month; but at the month's end he is our friend no longer. Our relations have probably become what the diplomatists term 'strained' long before that date, but a day comes when the tension becomes intolerable; the cable parts and we lose him. Unfortunately, not always, however; there are circumstances—such as being on board ship, for example—when we thus part without parting company. A long voyage is the most terrible trial to which friendship can be subjected. It is like the old sentence of pressing to death, 'as much as he can bear, and more.' It is doubtful, for example, whether friendship has ever survived a voyage to Australia. I have sometimes asked a man whether he knew So-and-So, who hails, like himself, from Melbourne, and he has replied, 'We came over in the same ship'—'Only that, and nothing more,' as the poet puts it; but his tone has an unmistakable significance, and one perceives at once that the topic had better not be pursued.

A very dear friend of mine once proposed that we should go round the world together; he offered to pay all my expenses, and painted the expedition in rose-colour. But I had the good sense to decline the proposal. I felt I should lose my friend. Even yachting is a very dangerous pastime in this respect, especially when the vessel is becalmed. In that case, like the sea itself, one's friend soon becomes a pond. Conceive, then, what it must be to go round the world with him! Is it possible, both being human, that we can still love one another when we have got to Japan, for instance? And then we have to come back together! How frightful must be that moment when he tells us the same story he told at starting, and we feel that he has come to the end of his tether, and is going to tell all his stories over again! This is why it so often happens that only one of two friends returns from any long voyage they have undertaken together. What has become of the other? A question that one should never put to the survivor. It is certain that great travellers, and especially those who travel by sea, have a very different code of morals from that which they conform to at home. Human life is not so sacred to them. Perhaps it is in this respect that travel is said to enlarge the mind. That it does not sharpen it, however, whatever it may do for the temper, is tolerably certain. In their habits travellers are singularly conventional. They are compelled, of course, to suffer certain inconveniences, but they endure others, and most serious ones, quite unnecessarily, merely because it is the custom so to do. In crossing the Atlantic, for example, a man of means will submit to be shut up in a close cupboard for ten days with an utter stranger, though by paying double fare he can get a cabin to himself. This arises from no desire for economy, but simply because he does not think for himself; other travellers do the like, and he follows their example. Yet what money could recompense him for occupying for the same time on land a double-bedded room—not to say a mere china closet—with a man of whom he knows nothing except that he is subject to chronic sickness? A pleasant sort of travelling companion indeed, yet, strange to say, the commonest of all. Where there is a slender purse this terrible state of things (supposing travel under such circumstances to be compatible with pleasure at all, which, for my part, I cannot imagine) is not a matter of choice; but where it can be avoided why is it undergone?

There is nothing that convinces me of the folly of mankind so much as those advertisements we see in the summer months with respect to travelling companions, from volunteers of both sexes: 'Wanted, a travelling companion for a few months on the Continent, etc. The highest references will be required.' The idea of going with a stranger upon a tour of pleasure must surely originate in Hanwell, and the adventurer may think himself fortunate if it does not end in Broadmoor. References, indeed! Who can answer for a fellow-creature's temper, patience, unselfishness, during such an ordeal as a protracted tour? No one who has not travelled with him already; and one may be tolerably certain his certificate does not come from that quarter. It is true some people are married to strangers by advertisement; but their companionship, as I am given to understand, does not generally last for months, or anything like it.

Imagine two people, as utterly unknown to one another, except by letter (and 'references'), as the x and y of an equation, meeting for the first time at the railway-station! With what tremors must each regard the other! What a relief it must be to X. to find that Y. is at least a white man; on the other hand, it must rather dash his hopes, if they are set on pedestrianism, to find that his compagnon de voyage has a wooden leg. Yet what are his mere colour and limbs compared with his temperament and disposition? If one did not know the frightful risks one's fellow-creatures incur every day for little pleasure and less profit, one would certainly say these people must be mad.

But if instead of X. and Y., it is even A. and B., men who have known one another for years, and in every relation but as fellow-travellers, there is risk enough in such a venture. One night, after dinner at the club, they agree with effusion to take their autumn trip together; they are warm with wine and with the remembrance of their college friendship—which extended perhaps, when they afterwards come to think about it, a very little way. What days they will have in Switzerland together! What mornings (to see the sunrise) upon mountain-tops! What evenings on Lucerne! What nights in Paris! A. thinks himself fortunate indeed in having secured B.'s society for the next three months—a man with such a reputation for conversation; even T., the cynic of the club, has testified to his charm of manner. By-the-bye, what was it—exactly—T. had said of B.? A. cannot remember it at the moment, but recalls it on the night before they start together. 'B. is a charming fellow, only he has this peculiarity—that if there is only one armchair in a room, B. is sure to get it.'

B., on the other hand, congratulates himself on A.'s excessive good sense, which even T. had knowledged. What was it—exactly—T. had said of A.? He cannot remember it at the moment, but recalls it on the night before they start together. 'A. is such a thoroughly practical fellow; he has committed many follies, and not a few crimes, but he can lay his hand on the place where his heart should be, and honestly aver that he has never given sixpence to anybody.' Full of misgivings, and with demonstrations of satisfaction that are in themselves suspicious, they meet at the terminus. A. has a little black bag, which contains his all; it frees him from all trouble about luggage, and (especially) from the necessity of paying a porter. He is resolved not to lose a moment, nor spend a sixpence, in a Custom-house. To his horror, he perceives that B., whose one idea is comfort, has a portmanteau specially designed for him (apparently upon the model of Noah's Ark), and which can scarcely be got into the luggage-van. This article delays them twenty-four hours at every frontier, because the ordinary authorities decline to open it upon the ground that it contains an infernal machine, and have to telegraph to their Government for instructions.

Again, B. is no doubt a charming conversationalist—in English; but he does not know one single word of any other language. He requires every observation of their alien fellow-travellers to be translated, and then says 'Oh!' discontentedly, or 'It seems to me that foreigners have no ideas.' And not for one moment can A. get rid of him. If there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, it is the Travelling Companion who is dependent upon you for interpretation. It is needless to say that under these circumstances the glass of Friendship falls from 'Set Fair' to 'Stormy' with much rapidity. After A's fourth quarrel with a waiter about half a franc, B. calls him a 'mean hound,' and takes the opportunity of returning to his native land with a French count, who speaks perfect English, and robs him of his watch and chain and the contents of his pocket-book on board the steamer. A. and B. meet one another daily at the club for years afterwards, but without recognition.

Their case, of course, is an extreme one; but that of C. and D. is almost as bad. They are men of prudence, and persuade E. to go with them, as a makeweight. 'If we should ever disagree,' they say, 'as to what is to be done—which, however, is to the last degree improbable—the majority of votes shall carry it'—an arrangement which only delays the inevitable event—

'Three little nigger boys went the world to view, The third was left in Calais, and then there were two.'

They find the makeweight intolerable before they have crossed the Channel, and, having agreed to cut their cable from him, are from that moment never in the same mind about anything else. It is a modern version of the three brigands who stole the Communion plate. C. and D. push E. over the precipice, and C. stabs D. at a supper for which D. has purveyed poisoned wine.

The only way to secure a really eligible travelling companion is to try him first in short swallow-flights, or rather pigeon-flights, from home. Take your bird with you for a few days' outing near home; then, if he proves pleasant, for a week's tour in Cornwall; then for ten days in Scotland, where, if you meet with the usual weather, and he still keeps his temper and politeness, you may trust yourself to him anywhere. Out of twenty failures there will, perhaps, be one success. In this manner I have discovered in time, in my dearest and nearest friends, the most undreamt of vices. One man, F., hitherto much respected as a Chancery barrister, has, as it has turned out, been intended by nature for a professional pedestrian. His true calling is to walk 'laps' round the Agricultural Hall or at Lillie Bridge, with nothing on to speak of save a handkerchief round his forehead. 'Let us walk' is his one cry as soon as he becomes a travelling companion. And he is not content to do this when he arrives at any place of interest, but insists upon walking there—perhaps along a dusty road, or over turnip-fields. I like walking myself in moderation—say a mile out and a mile in; but not, certainly not, twenty miles at a stretch, and at a speed which precludes conversation. This class of travelling companion is very dangerous. If he does not get his walking he becomes malignant. My barrister, at least, being denied the opportunity of drawing out marriage-settlements, conveying land, or otherwise plundering the community, took to practical jokes. Having a suspicion of his pedestrian powers, from the extreme length of his legs, I took G. with us, a man whom I could trust in that respect, and who fancied he had heart complaint. G. and I took our exercise alone together in a fly. One day we took a long drive—four miles or more—to a well-known bay. The vehicle could not get down to the sea, so we descended on foot, leaving it at the top of the cliff, with the strictest orders to the man not to stir till we came back. When we returned the fly was gone. How we reached our hotel, Heaven knows! but we did arrive there, in the last stage of exhaustion. The driver of the carriage, whom we met next day, informed us that a gentleman had been thrown from his horse on the cliff-top and had broken his leg, and that, under the circumstances, he had ventured to disobey our instructions and take the poor fellow home. Years afterwards I discovered that nothing of the kind had happened, but that the fiendish F. had given the driver a sovereign to play that trick upon us. F. is a judge now, and has been lately trying election cases. I wonder what he thinks of himself when he rebukes offenders for the heinous crime of bribery!

Again, I always thought H. a pleasant fellow till we went together to Cornwall. He had gone through the first ordeal of a few days nearer home to my satisfaction, but at Penzance he broke out. He was so dreadfully particular about his food that nothing satisfied him—not even pilchards three times a day; and the way he went on at the waiters is not to be described by a decent pen. The attendant at Penzance was not, I am bound to say, a good waiter. He said, though he habitually put his thumb in every dish, he 'hadn't quite got his hand in,' and was not used to the business.' 'Used! you know nothing about it!' exclaimed H., viciously. Then the poor fellow burst into tears. 'Pray be patient with me, good gentlemen,' he murmured. 'I do my best; but until last Wednesday as ever was I was a pork-butcher.' One cannot stand a travelling companion who makes the waiters cry.

The worst kind of fellow-traveller is one who, to use his own scientific phrase for his complaint, suffers from 'disorganisation of the nervous centres.' At home his little weaknesses do not strike you. You may not be on the spot when he flies across Piccadilly Circus, pursued, as he fancies, by a Brompton omnibus which has not yet reached St. James's Church, and is moving at a snail's pace; you may not have been with him on that occasion when, in his eagerness to be in time for the 'Flying Dutchman,' he arrives at Paddington an hour before it starts, and is put into the parliamentary train which is shunted at Slough to let the 'Dutchman' pass; but when you come to travel with him you know what 'nerves' are to your cost. On the other hand, this is the easiest kind of travelling companion to get rid of; for you have only to feign a sore throat, with feverish symptoms, and off he flies on the wings of terror, leaving you, as he thinks—if he has a thought except for his nervous centres—to the tender mercies of a foreign doctor, to hireling nurses, and to a grave in the strangers' cemetery.


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