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phenomenon ;—then nerving himself for the deed, he resolutely seized the dangerous animal, and, extricating it from the hook, threw it into its native element. Lamb has in one of his essays observed, how would men like if some superior being were to go out manning, and, letting down a hook through the air towards the earth, baited with a beefsteak, draw a man up to heaven, roaring like a bull, with a hook in his gills.
Our friend was cordially welcomed by the fish releaser, and finding several of his old friends, rambled about the grounds, chatting first with one, and then another, until he felt all the vulgar sensations of hunger. It was now five o'clock, and no symptoms of the dejeuner ; he had unfortunately breakfasted early, and had purposely abstained from lunching, his knowledge of fashionable French being so limited as to translate erroneously the word “ dejeuner," to mean a meal of that kind. At eight o'clock in the evening the lunch bell rang, and a nonchalant rush was made towards the house. The blaze of light ushered them to the room where all was laid out in the perfection of Gunter's best manner ; but judge our famished friend's dismay, when a rapid survey, like a Napoleon's glance, discovered only the elegances of eating, the ornaments of the appetite, and not its substantialities. Jellies in the shape of crystal mounds ; cakes battlemented like the baronial dwellings of feudal tyrants. Trifles light as air, swelling over Chinese dwellings, crimson flushed with vermilion sweets ; piles of bon-bons and scented crackers, gorgeously gilded and rainbow colored. At each side were flesh-colored masses of ice creams, flanked by a regiment of infinitesimal mince pies, raspberry tarts, and triangular cheese-cakes. At solemn intervals were Maraschino, Curaçoa, Noyau, and other liqueurs, confined in small decanters, about the size of Eau de Cologne phials, while scattered around were goblets to drink out of, about the size of overgrown thimbles. It was a diabolical improvement (so far as starvation went) on the feast of Tantalus. A glass of water would have had a gigantic look in our friend's eyes perfectly titanic. A narrower scrutiny discovered to his longing sight two dishes, one a tureen of palish, green-looking water, where there were a few diminutive new potatoes, swimming for their lives, and trying to escape, which they did with ease, from the abortive efforts of our friend, who, with a ladle, was doing his best to capture one, to satisfy the cravings of his appetite.
The other dish was one of fritters, and presented the appearance of having been made out of Sir Edward's kid gloves dipped in batter, and then elaborately fried. We must draw a veil over our friend's sufferings. After securing a spoonful of jelly-one of the afore-named small forced-meat balls— a portion of truffle, evanescent and shadowy as mist—(not half so substantial as a good wholesome London November fog, which at times is so thick that it can be easily cut clinging to the knife)—and a glass-thimbleful of maraschino—our friend drove home in his gig through the chill evening air, with his teeth chattering to themselves, and trying to console his importunate gastric juice and empty stomach.
He astonished his wife and household on his return home by eating seriatim everything in the house in the way of flesh, from a haunch of mutton down to a ham bone, and from the new bread down to the stale crust.
Mr. Willis's productions very much resemble Sir Edward's
déjeûner : elegant, tasteful, and unsubstantial, they offer but poor satisfaction to the wholesome appetite of a healthy guest.
Mr. Willis leaves on us the impression that he is not in earnest; that he has no fixed principles, except a fastidious, but very artificial taste. There is a want of healthiness about his mind, which leaves robustness altogether out of the question. The color on the cheeks of his muse is not the rosy freshness of health, but the carmine of the dressing-room ; her attitudes are the result of the dancing-master, and not of native grace; there is more of the Aspasia than the Vestal in her manners and discourse, always deducting the wit of the celebrated Grecian beauty. It has always appeared to us that foreign travel, which steadies and consolidates the true poet, has a deteriorating influence on the mere man of elegant susceptibilities. To be sure, every true poet has a taste, but it is a natural relish for truth, and not a craving for excitement. The palate of health can derive delight and sustenance from a crust and a draught from the crystal spring, and does not require its appetite to be provoked by the ragouts of Paris or the curries of the Indies. In short, the attraction of Mr. Willis's muse proceeds rather from the hectic of consumption and disease, than from the blushing glow and grace of buxom health : its energy is the effect of stimulants, and not the result of symmetrical elasticity and genuine cheerfulness.
To produce an effect by contrast let us create the opposite of the being personified by Collins, and we have the female Frankenstein muse of Mr. Willis.
“ When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
Her bow across her shoulder flung,
Her buskins gemmed with morning dew,
The hunter's call, to Fawn and Dryad known;
Satyrs and sylvan boys, were seen
Brown Exercise rejoiced to hear,
We cannot avoid mentioning as a peculiarity in Mr. Willis's writings the singular fact that the majority of his illustrations proceed from articles of female clothing. When we read with the intention of noticing this peculiarity the effect is very comical; first one allusion, then another, until at length a roar of laughter follows the experiment, and convinces us we have proved our point.
There is also at times a most inappropriate use of “ adjectives, such as these,“ porphyry eyes,”—or likening a lady's bosom to “a shelf of alabaster.” Indeed Mr. Willis would be nothing without his adjectives.
Some humorous poet wrote once,
“Without black velvet breeches, what is man?”
A critic might substitute “ adjectives” for “velvet smalls,” and exclaim in like manner.
It is related of Nollekens, that once when his wife, who was proverbially a passionate woman, was so angry as to stop in the midst of her vituperation, he cried out during her speechless trance: “If you are short of adjectives, my dear, swear, it will ease you so !”
The author of “Rural Letters” never allows his deficiency to carry him into the realms of abjuration, but we sometimes involuntarily think of the sculptor's wife when we read his characteristic productions.
In person, Mr. Willis is tall and elegantly made. His manners are courteous, and he has the polish of high-breeding ; his hair is light brown ; and altogether he leaves the impression of the English gentleman, refined by travel and observation. He is an elaborate dresser, and is estimable in his private relations.