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And did he whisper, from yon star,
That tie amid our being wrought ?
Alas! it is not mine to know ;
MRS. ACTON TINDAL.
CLUB-CROTCHETS AND CHEAP COMFORTS ;
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WHITTINGTON FUND.
No. IV.-OUR BEHAVIOUR. A Few paragraphs on the behaviour of full-grown men and women, may be thought by some to savour more of the fopperies of Aywyos, with his precepts how to sneeze, which leg to put foremost, what compliments suit teens, and what belong to ties, &c., than befits the plainness of the Shilling Magazine, or the dignity of a popular assembly, like our Cheap Club. And yet, seeing that men and women are to meet in it on somewhat new terms, and that not merely their personal comfort, but also the well-being of the establishment it is their interest to support, depends on the manner in which they comport themselves, my wisdom about the matter may not be quite so superfluous as it seems to those who fancy every man that pays his debts must be a Grandison, and every woman unwilling to elope on false pretences, a Harriet Byron.
Considerateness without conventionalism ! Here are longer words than I like to use ; but they state the matter more briefly than, perhaps, it is possible to do in “ pure Saxon.” To reconcile the two is not a very easy business. Still it is not a science, for the teaching of which cottages should be built ; nor are all the niceties and fastidiousness involved in it, which some upholders of good manners would have us believe. For, in our Club, considerateness is not bound to meet the unreasonable whims and fancies which spring up—a hydra crop-in proportion with the attempts made to satisfy them. Persons, for instance, who demand quietness, can have the demand met, until no silence is dead enough to content their impatience of sound-save it be the stillness of a vacuum ! Now, as doors must be shut, and individuals of all sizes and all thicknesses of shoe-leather go (not creep) up and down stairs, it would be hopeless to pass through our club-life in an atmosphere of dread or deprecation of their bitter looks. The unfitness, the incivility (if there be any in the case) lies with them, for trying to trouble the average “ Israel" of civilised folk, by their morbid peculiarities. Whether, even in domestic intercourse, the “studying,” or “humouring” of these, is a virtue when carried to excess— -whether it be not a mean and cowardly deprecation of wrath and irritability fraught with its own punishment-are questions I am often tempted gravely to ask, and closely to argue.
In a miscellaneous company, at least, to think of the feat is absurd, because to accomplish it is impossible.
Yet the freedoms, of which every man's club experience must remind him—the hardy and obtuse disregard of time, place, and person, one has been called upon to endure (supposing one is not, by nature, a person of spirit,” alias a Resenter,) are to be referred to in yet more emphatic notes of warning. Shall I ever forget the tall gentleman, close buttoned to the chin, frowning with his own importance, lowering with weighty thoughts, who
used to select the library of the as the theatre for the exposition of his opinions on politics, religion, metaphysics, the natural sciences, and the fine arts, in a voice as loud 'as Lablache's, but as slow in its sound as the hammer of a sleepy paviour ? Shall I ever forget the deliberate and menacing history of his law-suit with his mother's brother, by a second marriage, which he would begin, continue, and end, in despite of furious looks, coughs, the emphasis of which there was no mistakingnay, and an impatient exit or two—at the very moment when I was first making acquaintance with dear Mrs. Nickleby ? “ What I said, and what Orger advised—and what principle forbad niy acquiescence in—and how the case was a very complicated oneand the sacrifices I was prepared to make-and what the opposing party had put forward,” &c., &c., &c., &c., with a general dissertation on English law by way of “ground," (as the embroiderers phrase it) and a particular encomium on every sepa
scrap of good nature or liberality, or willingness to accommodate, which himself the plaintiff had shown . Yet Boreworth was a just and cultivated man, and passed as wellbehaved, failing only in that self-distrust which might have whispered to him, that the Boreworth Cause was not the matter which the entire world was waiting and wanting to hear about ! Was the rule of silence put into his hands, by the waiter, sharply rung up for the
purpose, its authority lasted but for a poor five minutes ; so far as the interrupting of the Great Case—its History, went—and, after that, the intolerable man was
“Swinging slow, with sullen roar," as ponderously as ever : difficult to interrupt, and impossible to impress. The Club was for Him, and He for the Club; and the Committee of Ten, and the entire list of five hundred members, might legislate and rage as much as they pleased : there was no hope of bringing him into form and order! He had never learned at home, or at college, or in church, to consider others !
But two such persons (happily, I hope and trust, there is only one in the world at a time !) would be sufficient to rend asunder the entire time-honoured Fabric of Club-Society " from China to Peru.” Well might the day of his quitting the haunts of Bachelor Men for domestic pleasures-of his confining his conversation to one poor, injured woman, be celebrated by à House Dinner which is yet spoken of, throughout every metropolitan association, as the most jovial in the annals of Clubdom.
There is, again, that terrible creature, immortalised by Mr. Poole -whose fixed idea is the investigation of abuses, and having his uttermost money's worth for his money : the man who memorialises against his mackerel as “ too small in the roe,” and his half-pint of wine as scantier, by a few drops, than the half-pints of all his neighbours—and who seats himself, purposely, at a central table that he may see how much better used they are than he is, and profit, moreover, by all their secrets !-I know not, in all the Natural History of Human Trumpery, a more unprepossessing specimen than this !-Bad is the fanaticism of self-denial; but the epicureanism of consummate selfishness is worse. It is apt to grow, too, on those, who, leading lives of much toil, imagine that their leisure affords no duties to be performed, save that of snatching, or snaring for themselves, as much comfort, at the cost and contribution of every one else, as is practicable. Let me speak a word, seriously, to the middle-aged, and unmarried, of my own sex: especially to those who pique themselves upon their knowledge of life: and sometimes, in a sort of vapouring pride, are apt to begin that pursuit of personal indulgences which ends in a craving that an Eldorado could not satisfy. One meets these dismal and homeless creatures in every place of public resort-hard, unloving, and unloved : querulous in proportion as strength and spirits fail them: and disgusted when they perceive a younger world rising up around them, which disregards their maxims, despises their egotism, and will have its own share of pleasure and accommodation. A thankless child is a racking pain for old age ; but a thankless bosomguest, such as indulged selfishness may become, is worse-a duller, slower, more hopeless malady, from the symptoms of which bystanders may well recoil with aversion rather than pity!—I do not write, recollect, as one impatient of the prime places given to the mature—because he is younger: or jealous of influence he can no longer secure, because he is older, than they: but with a middleaged man's lively, daily, and hourly feeling of the encroachments which what are called “ tastes” and “notions of comfort” may make upon the sound judgment, the kindly heart, the free-will. Perhaps it is nothing better than the terror of the most doublerefined selfishness which makes me exclaim, “Let me never grow a spectre, a scarecrow, an incubus upon those who are to lay me in the grave!”
And yet it is not a mere battle with shadows, here, to dwell on the danger and misery of this foible: inasmuch as Club life, beyond
all others, may tempt those of small fortunes, with few other means of variety, to this hardened and hardening self-consideration.—To make a Club or Hotel a school or place of penance for Old Bachelors, were absurd : in truth, a species of adult instruction which would mix oddly with every man's own “ ease in his inn.”--But it is a crotchet of mine, to warn all who are past thirty-five of “their own chair
their own table”-of the “ bubble too much ” as indispensable to cookery, or the one particular temperature they must exist in, which is sure to be too hot or too cold for some one else. At forty-five these little propensities are no longer to be passed off with a laugh! they are then serious. At fifty-five, they are necessities. At sixty-five, they may be offences ; and at seventy-five, the Club join in a general Te Deum when ague or asthma keeps the Good Liver at home : no longer to monopolise the corner in winter and the window in summer-no longer to keep the Myrmidons in fretted though submissive waiting on his whimsies.—Who would like such an old age ?
Take it not amiss, then, Brother Member, if I remind you, that to read the newspaper quickly on the day after an interesting debate, is a courtesy, which may be of value to many of your party : that by not outrageously dawdling over your solitary drop or draught, after dinner, you may be expediting the repast of some hungry man : that you may have a neighbour who can't help following your Devil's tattoo, to the utter dissipation of his powers
of attention : and that if three people are sitting round a fire, two may be sensibly afflicted if you poke it up into a blazing heat which only makes for yourself a change of pretty dream-pictures ? There is great geniality in one's own jollity, no doubt : there is some in not utterly destroying, in not frivolously disturbing the jollity of others. And this may be shown, in a thousand ways, without fuss, or finicality, or sacrifice of a single indulgence, save those which Time will convert into burdens !
Nor must I overlook what seems to me a point of importance considerateness for the servants of our Club, shown in some form or other such as shall befit a cheap and popular assembly. Let it never be said of us- —what is urged, I fear too often with justice, against those who are loudest in raising their voices against the luxurious insolence of the aristocratic—that we are harsh and tyrannical masters, who would be served most to our own liking by steam creatures ! Let us never hear the plea, that those who wait upon us are in the plight of the “ skinned eels” so familiar to