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wealth, and are regarded by every one as people of consequence; yet I will venture to say that they spend within two-thirds of an income which is not more ample than Frank Clermont's, who finds the whole of his to be insufficieent to procure him the common necessaries of life.
What constitutes wealth? is not an unamusing speculation-perhaps no two people have ideas alike on the subject. A poor man, who is obliged to support a wife and a large family on a pound a week, imagines that a hundred a year would procure every luxury that his heart could desire; while a hundred a year with gentility attached to it, is considered to be a most miserable pittance.
Yet there are those who can be "Passing rich with forty pounds a year," or even less; but then they possess that "wealth of the mind," that true independence, which makes riches or poverty alike a matter of indifference to them. Mr. a man of profound erudition, was lately employed by some literary friend to write a work of great research, which was likely to occupy him at least for a year. As he was completely without resources of his own, they asked him what remuneration he would require for so much time and labour. He replied, that half a guinea a week would amply supply all his wants! And I have somewhere read of another man of learning, though I cannot vouch for the fact, who supported himself comfortably on a halfpenny a day! But I
fear few are capable of arriving at such an enviable state of refinement.
Though had realized a million long before he died, he was often heard to say that he should not consider himself to be a rich man till he had doubled his capital; but yet, where his own interest was not concerned, his ideas of "What constitutes wealth" were narrow enough:
he thought, for instance, that he amply provided for his four maiden sisters by leaving them five hundred pounds each; and even inserted in his will, that if they were not able to live on this sum, they were not fit to live at all, and that more would only leave them a prey to fortune hunters.
Many a rich man deems a guinea, dealt from "his pocket's avaricious nook," to be an inexhaustible sum. L, who can command many thousands a year, lately visited an old school-fellow on the brink of ruin, from recent extensive losses in trade. All his latent feelings of sympathy were roused by witnessing the sufferings of his old friend, (who till within the last month had been a rich man ;) and in the most soothing tone he offered assistance. Poor B.'s countenance beamed with gratitude. He saw himself at once saved from bankruptcy, and again established with credit, by a prospect of such seasonable help. But what was his astonishment, when he beheld a purse drawn forth, and a guinea, one guinea, tendered to his acceptance!
SONNET,-WRITTEN AT A CONCERT.
Is void of soul, come, gaze upon her here;
As music sheds its wild resistless charm,
And the soft soul beams melting in her eye,
'Tis better here to mark each bosom swell
*It is a part of the Moslem's creed, that women are destitute of souls.
THE WILD BEASTS' BANQUET.
OF all the banquets on record or not on record, Reuben,-from those of the heroes in Homer downwards,--commend me to the banquet of the beasts at Exeter 'Change! The Lord Mayor's feast is a fool to it; and the coronation banquet itself (seeing that there was no Queen present at it) was but a half-crown ordinary in comparison !
I disclaim all insidious or invidious allusions; but let me ask, what alderman of the whole corporation can preside in so portly a manner, feed so cleanly, or consume so much at a meal, (and this latter qualification I take to be the measure of merit in the matter of eating, and the point to which the palm must be conceded,)which of them all, I say, can in these particulars pretend to compare with alderman Elephant, who takes off a cart-load of carrots by way of dessert -washes them down with a washingtub of water-and then wipes his trunk on a truss of hay by way of a towel, and eats it afterwards? And as for the late banquet at Westminster Hall,—it would, to be sure, not be legitimate to look upon that merely as an affair of eating; but I should be glad to know how it can be compared, even in other respects, with the one I am about to describe to you? Which of the peeresses, in the plenitude of her plumes, (borrowed from the ostrich upstairs) could compete in beauty with the panther, who sits down to dinner in puris naturalibus? The lords may boast of their furred robes, for each of which they are indebted to whole hecatombs of innocent little ermines; but the leopard may laugh at them all,-for his furred robe is furnished him by Nature herself, and would put to shame the workmanship of all the robemakers-royal in Christendom; and he can afford to wear it every day, because he gets a new one from the same source every year, without paying any thing for it.
But do you twit me with the lionskings at arms, the champions, and the royal epicures themselves, who graced and glorified the banquet that I am,
by comparison, depreciating? It shall go hard but, in reply, I will furnish you with worthy pendants for them all, and more, from among the company that grace our banquet. What royal epicure, though he were descended from Heliogabalus himself, would dare to dine on a liege subject of England, and he a captain of grenadiers,-as did the cousin-german of the royal tiger that is here? And as for the champion, who had the courage to ride into the hall on horseback in the presence of his lawful sovereign,-I fancy he would not have waited to ride out again backwards, if his royal master had insisted on his putting his head into a lion's mouth-as the man does here!
And now, Reuben, since I can perceive, by the significant looks of all the circle, that they are somewhat scandalized by these profane parallels of mine, and are moreover not prepared properly to appreciate the merits of the feast that I would introduce them to-that good Aunt Silence would be horrified at seeing the great serpent swallow a live chicken, though she allows the cat an extra cup of milk for every mouse he catches-that Rose would be petrified at the roar of the lion, and Phoebe actually faint at the idea of the no-better-than cannibals (as she would call them) eating their meat so underdone-and that, as for Frank, he had rather be present at the petit souper of a pack of hounds than a whole wilderness of wild beasts;all this, I say, being evident, let you and I go by ourselves: so on with your wishing cap-that is to say, fancy yourself here in the Middle Temple with me—and as the Temple clock is now striking half-past seven, we'll sally forth, and shall just reach the place of our destination in time to look about us before the elephant rings for his cloth to be laid for supper.
Having received the awkward obeisance of the mock beef-eater at the bottom of the stairs, and followed the direction of the be-written walls, which tell us at every turn that "this is the way to the wild beasts," we reach the
pay-place, and deposit our three and sixpences, nothing loth, in the hands of a pretty demure-looking maiden who sits confined there like a bird in a cage; remarking, by the by, that but for her pleasant looks, we should somewhat object to the high price of admission.
that here is another cogent reason for the said repeal for which, as in duty bound, your petitioners will never pray," &c.
This room contains a great variety of other birds; among which are some beautiful Belearic cranes, with crests on their heads in the form of crowns; two extremely curious eagles of a description not to be found in books of natural history; and some birds that you will remember to have heard of at school, Reuben. "Rara avis in terris, migroque simillima Cygno." Night, however, is not the time to see this part of the show; so we will just glance at a few of the other objects in this room, and then pay our respects to Bob, and the great boa constrictor, in the next. Here is the bison, a relative of whom, under the feigned name of the bonassus, lately enlivened every dead wall in the metropolis and its environs, and the whole fraternity of whom we consequently abhor almost as much as we do "Warren's Blacking" for the same reason. Next door neighbour to the above is a pretty animal that they dignify with the name of a wild horse; but which you, Reuben, would desire nothing better than to mount, on an open common, without saddle or bridle; and I'd back you to keep on him at least as well as Mazep pa did by the aid of all his cords. It has the head and neck of a zebra, but in other respects "would make a clever hackney for any timid elderly gentleman in want of such a horse."
The only other animals we will stay to notice in this room are two beautiful little creatures of the antelope tribe, with spiral horns, and eyes like Mahomet's houris; and another of the same species, called the lama, used in the Peruvian mines.
But hark! the clock strikes eight, and the elephant hears and replies to it; so that we shall but just have time to take a look at the next room, and then repair to the more noisy attrac tions of the banquet below. This room contains a vast variety of the smaller species of foreign birds, and a few small animals-such as monkies, &c. But what we have come to see is shut up in that great deal press, the front of
As we are to see the whole of this extraordinary exhibition, we will comply with the pretty money-taker's desire, and "please to walk up stairs first"-reserving the great banquetting-room for the bonne bouche. The first room we enter is long and low, and lighted (or rather not lighted) by one dismal lamp; and its inhabitants are chiefly birds. We will therefore not give much time to it; for of all caged creatures, one would suppose that the bird is the least able to bear its lot patiently-and of all birds, an eagle-of which there are several here. Not that we come here to lament over the condition of the objects
meet with ;-and for my own part, I doubt whether any of them were ever better off than they are at present. At all events, we will leave our friend P― to institute a comparative inquiry of this kind, and to concoct an eloquent and pathetic paper on the subject, for the New Monthly Magazine, in which he will doubtless determine the exact effects producible on the animal mind by a transfer of the body to which it is appended, from "native forests, boundless deserts, and trackless skies," to a wooden cage three feet square. In the mean time, we will proceed to our examination,-admitting, however, by the way, that there is something bordering on the melancholy in the appearance of an eagle under the condition in which we find him here-that, as some one has compared a poet under certain circumstances (I forget what) to 66 a sick eagle gazing at the sky," so we can scarcely refrain from returning the compliment, and comparing the great eagle that sits moping here, to a poet confined in the King's Bench, without either pens, ink, or paper! This comparison, however, will be applicable only when the present Insolvent Act is repealed; so
which lets down with hinges, and leaves the whole interior, with its contents, exposed to the view and even the touch of the spectators-for it is not found necessary to interpose any safeguard before this most terrific looking of all the animal tribe. And it is lucky that this is the case; for Bob, who has the care of this animal, has made such good use of the buonamano's he has received in the course of the day, that he is not in the best condition to protect us in case of danger. But Bob has too strong a sense of natural justice to forego what has, time out of mind, been "his custom always of an afternoon,"-merely to accommodate the idle habits of other people. If you visit him and his charge at a proper hour, you'll find him in the proper condition to do the honours of the visit; and this is all that can in reason be required of him. But I believe I need not have made this apology for him. I've heard it whispered in your village, Reuben, that the Vicar's steed knows as well, if not better, when his reverend burthen is tipsy, than the said burthen does itself; and I rather think it is the same with Bob and the Boa. You see he has by this time let down the side of the serpent's house, and taken off the blankets which covered him; and there the monster lies, black, twisted, and self-involved, like one of your late writing-master's flourishes. I question whether any one ever looked at this extraordinary creature for the first time, without feeling a cold shudder creep through every part. It is a sort of object that (for what reason I know not) we never form an adequate conception of beforehand. The one before us is fourteen feet long, and is entirely covered with a brilliant coating of black, picked out with a sort of whitish yellow; the whole varnished like the face of a pic ture. The head and neck are much smaller, and of lighter colour, than the rest of the body-the largest part of which is perhaps a foot and a half in circumference-and the tail diminishes in size almost to a point. But perhaps the most striking part of this singular creature, and the sight of
which affects the spectator in the most extraordinary manner, is the tongue; which, at the approach or touch of any person, it puts out of its mouth (without appearing to open the latter) and moves about with a quick flickering motion, accompanied by a low hissing noise. The part that it puts out of the mouth is about an inch and a half long, and divided into two about half way down from the extremity-each portion being about the thickness of a small quill. Bob (whose word, by the by, I would not take for so much as Hamlet offered to take the Ghost's) told me, the last time I saw this creature, that it had the day before eaten three live fowls, "feathers and all," and ten pounds of beef. Though I don't know why I should suspect him of exaggeration in this, when he adds that it never eats more than once in a fortnight, and sometimes not for months together. It is perfectly harmless and quiet-never attempting to move out of the case or cupboard in which it lies; and the only indication it ever gives of the kind and degree of power that it possesses is when you place your hand between the side of its box and any part of it that happens to be lying there-in which case it presses against your hand, and if you were not prepared to slip it away immediately, would crush it. But we are spending more of our time here than we intended, or can afford; so taking leave of Bob and his charge, without waiting for his "true and particular account" of its "life, character, and behaviour," we will at once descend to the great room which we came principally to
This room does really contain a magnificent collection of objectssuch a one as was probably never before collected together in modern times. The whole of the hither end is occupied by the huge bulk of the elephant, which reaches from side to side, and from the floor to the ceiling, and is divided from the rest of the room by solid beams of wood banded with iron, which cross each other in the form of a grating. At the opposite side is the great lion, gazing around him with the air of an imprisoned empe
ror, and swinging his tail about "as a gentleman swishes his cane." All along the right-hand side of the room are dens containing seven or eight other lions, male and female, of different ages and species, besides tigers, leopards, panthers, hyenas, porcupines, &c. And on the left side is a fine Arabian camel. They are all at this time on the qui vive; but there is an air of doubt and uncertainty about them all, as they have not yet heard the signal (or a blow on the gong), which immediately precedes their feeding. At length that signal is given, outside the room, and unexpectedly by the visitors; and then the scene which instantly takes place has in it a most extraordinary mixture of the terrific and the agreeable. A huge discordant roar bursts from almost every den at the same moment; and the inhabitants of each rush against the bars, rampant, and with their eyes flashing fire, and seem on the point of tearing their way into the open space where the spectators are standing. And yet in the midst of all, we feel that pleasantest of all securities, which exists in the presence of, and almost in contact with, danger and death. We are here surrounded, and as it were, looked upon, by death under its most frightful form; and yet we hold our life as securely as if we were seated by our own hearths. I know of no other situation of the kind that can be compared with this. In other cases, if we would feel the sense of danger we must encounter danger; we cannot feel it without fearing it; but here we can enjoy all the stimulus of the one, without suffering the debasing and counteracting effects of the other. To have experienced a storm at sea, or been present in a great battle, and escaped from them, are fine things doubtless; but who who would risk the danger for the after pleasure? The situation nearest to the one before us is that of sailing on a calm ocean, and feeling that there is nothing between us and the fathomless abyss below, but a deal plank. Or perhaps the standing in a coal-mine in the midst of the firedamp, and holding in one's hand a
lighted safety-lamp, is a still stronger example of the presence of danger and safety together, or rather of the actual contact of them; for there is actually nothing intervening between the light of the lamp and the matter which it is to act upon-nothing but a stratum of that matter itself, which is not sufficiently heated to permit the communication of the flame. But in both these instances, though the danger is there, we do not see it, and therefore do not feel it-we only, or chiefly feel the safety. But here, the danger is visible to our eyes-it rings and rattles in our ears-it actually moves our whole frames;-for the roarings and rampings of the beasts shake the very building in which we stand. And yet here we stand, as if it were a mere performance that we were witnessing-an imitation, and not the real thing. But that it is the real thing, is the secret of the plea sure, or whatever else it is to be called, that we derive from it. In fact, it is sought after on the same principle that we go to see a public execution; and if I might venture to say so much in the presence of ladies, I would add that the measure of the satisfaction to be derived from exhibitions of this nature is, the degree of healthful strength of nerve in the deriver of it. If the habits of modern life had not wasted away the nerves of our nobility and gentry to mere gossamers, and thus rendered nervousness an indispensa ble qualification for a fine lady, changing "disease for a commodity,"
-we should have combats of gladia tors and athletæ, and battles of wild beasts, as they had in days of old; and the ladies would distribute the prizes at them! But the looks of some of the said ladies warn me that I am treading on tender ground! so I return to my descriptions.
The gong sounds—the beasts (losing all sense of courtly decorum) seem ready to burst from their dens-and a man with an iron hand, who acts as carver to the royal banquet, apportions out the different meats on the sideboard, and proceeds to deliver them in the order of precedence which the guests seem naturally to claim:-the