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FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
THE TABLE D'HOTE. No. IV.
Mineral waters. I hope I do not deceive myself, when I anticipate very salutary results from the introduction of the mineral waters so generally into our cities. I indulge the pleasing hope that they will have a strong tendency to check the use of ardent spirits, which, it is lamentable to perceive, have been for years extending their baleful influence on society, and even in those ranks which a high sense of delicacy ought to have preserved from the dire contagion.
With many men, I make no doubt, here and in the West Indies, the dreadful habits of intoxication owe their origin to the intense heats of the summer weather. At that period, exercise in any great degree, excites thirst. This at first is appeased perhaps by lemonade-then by punch-then weak grog succeeds the strength of the grog is gradually increased, till at length the water is totally banished-and pure Holland, Cogniac, or Jamaica, closes the scene, and swallows up the ill-fated victim in the yawning gulf of perdition.
When we look round, and examine minutely, we shall see numberless evidences of this regular progression in turpitude. It is lamentable to reflect how many young men, of the most respectable talents, with every advantage of family and education, are degraded by this groveling vice, only fit for the practice of the rudest savages.
Ill habits gather by unseen degrees,
I have no hope that professed drunkards will afford much encouragement to the new establishment. To expect such an event were to be a dupe to one's own credulity. But I think that those whose taste is not depraved by the use of strong drinks, will, when thirsty, gladly have recourse to an elegant, sa fe, and wholesome beverage, and thus escape the temptation to fall into the deplorable habits to which I have referred, and whose deleterious effects are mourned by many a suffering family.
French leave. The advantages of persons who retire from companies, large or small, more particularly the latter, taking French leave, that is, withdrawing without the ceremony of bidding adieu, are so great, that I am astonished it does not prevail universally. The tastes, inclinations, arrangements, and views of different perons are widely different. To some it may be perfectly agreeable to remain till twelve, one, or even two o'clock in the morning. To others eleven appears late; to others even ten. As happiness or enjoyment is the object people have in view in going into company, is there any way in which it can be better promoted, than by following one's inclination, in every case where it can be done without offering violence to the inclinations of others? If I wish to retire at ten, why should I by very ceremoniously taking leave of every person in the company, admonish them that it is time for them to separate?
Geographical illustration. Mrs. Piozzi informs us that an ignorant young man having asked Dr. Johnson, “what and where Palmyra was?” as he had heard somebody the evening before talking of the ruins of Palmyra. “ 'Tis a hill in Ireland,” says the doctor, “ with palms growing on the top, and a bog at the bottom; and so they call it Palm-mira."
Men more susceptible of fattery than women. 'Travelling lately with a numerous company, among whom were some elegant and intelligent ladies, flattery became the topic of conversation. One of the ladies declared that it was her opinion that men were more susceptible of, and more easily duped by, this master key to the human heart, than women. The gentlemen present were quite surprised at such an attack upon the understanding of their sex, and instantly called for proofs of this very paradoxical opinion. The lady, a Miss L , of Boston, said that men were so little accustomed to flattery, that they generally devoured it with greediness, whenever it was tendered to them, however coarse or gross it might be: but that it was so very lavishly bestowed upon women, that they received it as a mere matter of course, and paid it very little attention. This argument silenced if it did not convince her male auditors.
Female labour. The low rate of female labour is a grievance of the very first magnitude, and pregnant with the most mighty ills to society. It demands the most serious consideration of those whose situations in life give them influence upon manners and customs. This unjust arrangement of remuneration for services performed diminishes the importance of women in society-renders them more helpless and dependant-destroys in the lower walks of life much of the inducements to marriage Land of course in the same degree increases the temptations to licentiousness. It is difficult to conceive why, even in those branches where
in both sexes are engaged, there should be such an extreme degree of disparity in the recompense of labour as every person acquainted with the subject knows to exist.
Hoaxing. It is not easy to imagine any act of common occurrence, of which the law takes no cognizance, that more completely characterises a ruffian than the base unfeeling one, called hoaxing, which, translated into plain English, means torturing the feelings of some person, male or female, unable to resist the insult. I am not ignorant that this vulgar trick is often practised by those who suppose themselves, and are sometimes by others admitted to be, gentlemen. And such they would be, were it in the power of fine clothes to fix the character of gentlemen. But it requires little knowledge of the world to be satisfied that there are occasionally to be met with, men in elegant habiliments who have not more refinement, delicacy, or humanity, than persons i the most humble grade of society.
There is something peculiar in the manners, ludicrous in the countenance, outré in the dress, or eccentric in the turn of mind of a man, or woman, and for this very powerful reason the individual is singled out as an object of ridicule by one of these fashionable “ hoaxers,” who is countenenced by those in company whose duty it is to interpose a shield to protect the injured person. To such as distinguish themselves in this very reprehensible manner, it may not be amiss to mention that those who can, and do not, prevent wickedness are equally responsible for its turpitude with the perpetrators.
American Slaves. In the narrative of the voyage of Americus Vespucius, written and published by himself, a copy of which is in the possession of a literary gentleman in this city, he states that he brought some hundreds of the aboriginals of this country with him to Spain, and sold them as slaves in the market place of, as far as my memory serves me, the port of Cadiz.
Twins. Some time since died in London, two twin sisters, Margaret and Judith Hodges, maiden ladies, aged 53 years. They expired, as they were born, within a few minutes of each other. I have heard of several instances of the death of twins occurring in this manner; and one of them in which the parties werein different nations. To a philosophical mind a circumstance of this kind affords room for curious speculaWitches. ! It affords a mortifying reflection to human pride, that so lately as the year 1657, an unfortunate woman was tried before that illustrious Tuminary, sir Matthew Hale, for witchcraft, found guilty, and actually executed.
Sound arguments and exemplary urbanity. Niebuhr, the Danish traveller in Egypt, had some conversation on religious topics with a Mahometan, to whom he happened to mentión the truth of the Christian religion. This exasperated the Mussulman so completely, that he rase in a fury, exclaiming, “ they who believe in any other divinity but God only, are oxen and asses.” After he had thus so ably refuted all the arguments of his opponent, he walked off with a becoming dignity, without deigning to wait for a reply:
Egyptian toleration and kindness towards Christians and Jews.
In Cairo no Christian or Jew dares to ride on horseback. They ride only on asses; and are obliged to alight on meeting even the most inconsiderable Egyptian lord. These lords rarely, if ever, go abroad but on horseback, and always have a servant before them, who, with a staff in his hand, warns the riders on asses to show due respect to his mastės; crying aloud, “ Get down.” If the mandate be not instantly obeyed, the staff is nimbly plied about the shoulders of the refractory master of the long-eared animal.
The Christians and Jews are also obliged to alight from their asses, when they pass the house of the chief cadi, also at about twenty other houses, where justice is distributed, before the gate of the janissaries, and before several mosques.
Elegant Fashions. The Arabian women in Egypt, according to Niebuhr, wear large metal rings in their ears and noses. They sometimes hang small bells to the tresses of their hair, and the young girls fix them to their feet. Some paint their hands yellow, and their nails red, and imagine that these disfigurations of nature give them irresistible charms.
Let both speak at once. Dr. Johnson highly disapproved of a ridiculous practice that prevails with many parents, who exhibit the talents of their children to every visitor, often in the most disgusting manner. He was once with a friend who proposed that his two children should repeat Gray's elegy alternately, that he might judge which had the best cadene. “No VOL. III,
pray sir,” says the doctor to the astounded father, " let the dears both speak at once-more noise will by that means be made-and the noise will be the sooner over."
Sound advice, worthy of the most serious attention. When Dr. Johnson was about commencing his career in the world, one Ford gave him the following excellent admonition: “Obtain some general principles of every science; he who can talk only on one subject, or act only in one department, is seldom wanted, and perhaps never wished for; while the man of general knowledge can often benefit, and always please.”
Vertu. Dr. Johnson, according to Mrs. Thrale, had so little taste for paintings, that she heard him say he could sit very quietly in a room hung round with the works of the greatest masters, and never feel the slightest disposition to turn them, if their back were outermost, unless it were to inform the owner that he had seen them.
Tripolitan Fashion. When the ladies of Tripoli go to assemblies, or the splendid entertainments which are given them by fashionable people, their slaves accompany them with coffers, containing the chief part of their wardrobes. After a lady has danced for a few minutes, she passes into the next apartment, where she changes the whole of her dress, not retaining even her slippers. She then returns in new habiliments, and dances again; and afterwards changes in like manner, which process is sometimes repeated ten times in one night. Niebuhr relates these circumstances on the authority of a friend settled at Tripoli.
A man of taste. Boyce, the writer of the Pantheon, was a most thoughtless, extravagant, and miserable creature. At one period of his life, when he was almost perishing with hunger, a friend gave him some money to rescue him. He purchased a piece of beef, but was so great an epicure that he could not eat it without pickles, and laid out the last half guinea he had for truffles and mushrooms, which he ate in bed, for want of clothes, or even a shirt wherewith to cover his wretched carcase.
The mountain in labour. A person in Dr. Johnson's company, entered very largely into the natural history of the mouse, on which he expatiated so long that he quite disgusted the doctor. "I wonder," says he drily to a person