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WHY THE MEN DON'T PROPOSE.*
“ Why don't the men propose," indeed ?
I wonder why they do!
Such benefits accrue;
Their many score of beaux,
Why don't the men propose ?”
At revel or at rout;
Their fairy forms about.
The youthful rev'ller knows;
“ Why don't the men propose ?"
Is studied but by few;
And thinks herself“ a blue.''
In poetry and prose!
Why don't the men propose ? "
And bills (of course) abound;
All steadier thoughts confound.
One's fortune to a close,
Why don't the men propose ?"
Would play the constant beau,
angry accents, “ No,"
(That ev'ry body knows);
Why don't the men propose ?"
To think of such a thing ;
More miseries would bring?
That mars man's daily doze !
“Why don't the men propose ?"
J. E. C.
* Intended as an answer to “ Why don't the men propose ?" by T. H. Bayly.
BUBBLES FROM BRUSSELS,
WITH A PUFF FROM CALAIS
BY THE OLD LADY.
“Would you forget the dark world we are in only taste of the bubble."- Moore.
It was on the last day of July that I again seated myself in my elbow chair, after“ my trip to the Continent,” (it is thus I always speak of my brief visit to Boulogne-sur-Mer), and having despatched the "Bubbles which were its literary result, to Mr. Henry Colburn, I awaited his reply with an anxiety natural to one who for the first time ran a risk of being published !
On the following day I received a letter, written in a most businesslike hand; I put on my spectacles, and then ascertained beyond a doubt that my
* Bubbles” had produced a sum of money which not only sufficed to pay the expenses of my trip, but actually left a surplus sufficient to enable me to purchase a muff and tippet for winter's wear. I felt myself at once a literary character-a regular Trollope; and I longed, like that lady, to go tripping again, making (and at the same time earning) more notes. And why not do it, thought I to myself? Summer is certainly past, but do not all travellers rave about the tints of autumn? It is but the 3rd of September, and in three days I'll be off.
So again I packed up my two trunks and my bandbox, and left London in an early Dover coach. On British ground I of course profess to blow no bubbles, nor will I trouble the reader with the troubled waters I met with in my progress to the French coast; I proceed at once to the landing-place, and put my foot upon the ladder.
A disembarkation at Calais is very dissimilar to that which I have attempted to describe at Boulogne. No beauty,
No beauty, no fashion attended to witness my arrival ; the appearance of all about me was thoroughly business-like, and though the emissaries of the different hotels did certainly rather vociferously announce their respective claims, and one in particular did (as Henry Lytton Bulwer says)" nearly scratch my nose with M. Meurice's eard,” still I must candidly acknowledge that when I first stepped upon the pier at Calais, I encountered less annoyance than might have been my lot on arriving per coach at the Gloucester Coffee-house, Piccadilly.
Never did I see so triste a place as Calais. There were many welldressed men about the streets, who had evidently seen better, and far more agreeable, days: they had about them a London look, but their raiment was seedy, and their countenances sad.
The Grande Place seems to be the general resort of these forlorn ones; there they loitered and lounged, and smoked, and yawned, and read papers, and talked, and longed for the hours to pass, though every hour was like its predecessor, and each new day a counterpart of that which went before it. I was told that at the play I should be sure to see all the elite of the place, so at seven o'clock I seated myself in the very small, but neat theatre. There was a good house, and being near a person who knew " who was who," I made a few inquiries, the answers to which were enough to make an elderly body like myself wish that the earth would open and swallow her. For instance :
“ That is a handsome woman in the stage-box, who is she?"
“ Oh! the celebrated Mrs. Pokey, who was, you know, divorced from her husband some years ago."
“ Indeed! and that gentleman who is talking to her?"
“Oh!” said I, pretending not to mean the person I first pointed out, " the one in the centre box?"
“I beg your pardon;that is the notorious Lady Blank, who—"
I had heard quite enough of Lady Blank, and therefore hastily turned the conversation, determining at the same time to ask no more questions.
The next morning I got into the Lille diligence, and set off on my journey towards Brussels. Now some few of my English readers may possibly not know what a French diligence is like; I will endeavour to describe it. It is as unlike an English light safety-coach, licensed to carry four inside, as possible. I may be wrong, and, if so, I am open conviction ; but I do conscientiously declare, that I believe the diligence in which I left Calais, was licensed to carry nineteen people, not including the conducteur. It was a huge building, consisting internally of three apartments: the front division held three people, and here most for tunately I obtained a seat; in the centre of the vehicle was a large apartment holding six, and behind that again an inferior chamber, in which were stowed away six more living beings. Thus fifteen were imprisoned within the bowels of the machine; the others were on the roof, with a prodigious quantity of luggage, and when at last the lumbering vehicle was set in motion, the noise that it made exceeded all description.
By my side sat a fat Englishwoman with her maid, who said she was going to Brussels to stay with a married sister. I never discovered the exact quality of my companion ; but from her conversation, I decided that she was something very low, aspiring among strangers to appear something particularly high.
“For my part,” said she, “ these public vehicles will be the death of me; but posting alone, without a smattering of the lingo of the place, is very ill convenient."
This I readily admitted; but added, that "lumbering and tedious as the diligences certainly were, the pleasure of travelling amply repaid me for entering them."
“ Ay; so people says," she replied, “but for me, and the like, who has one's comforts at home, these numble-cumtumbles won't do; but travelling's all the fashion now, and that's one reason I'm come. What sweet books they writes on the subject! pray, ma’am, have you seen the * Diarrhyar of an Invalid ?' that's quite the true thing, I assures ye; I shouldn't wonder, ma'am, if you were to make your little reminiscences, and all I begs is, that you won't go and put me into
I of course expressed my surprise that she should suppose an old woman like me had any idea of printing my tour; and as to putting her
, or any other individual into my book, the very suspicion was an insult.
The fortified towns in France and Belgium quite astonished me, every town of consequence was a fortified town, and we penetrated gateways, traversed ramparts, and crossed draw-bridges, until they became as familiar to me as milestones and turnpike-gates.
At Gravelines, an exceedingly prettily-situated town, we passed sentryboxes, great guns, and fortifications; and rattled over the loose boards of bridges until I began to fancy myself in a besieged city; and here commenced the rigid examination of my passport.
Nothing can be more annoying than this scrutiny at the end of every half-dozen or dozen miles; I was sure to have mislaid my little important document, and in my confused search after it, I was always considering what would be the consequence if in the end it was not forthcoming. Dunkerque was our next resting-place; a handsome, clean, busy town, where I am told they manufacture most excellent gin. From thence we journeyed along a lovely road, partly on the banks of a canal, and then between avenues of fine trees, until we arrived at Cassel; and now I am truly at a loss to give any idea of the loveliness of that spot on a bright summer's day. It is built upon a hill, and the view equals, if not exceeds, any inland prospect that I am acquainted with in our own little island.
I will not compare it with Richmond, for there is no river ; but the view from the Malvern hills is not to be named with it. Near this place is a monastery of La Trappe, which I made up my mind to visit; but having discovered that I had no chance of gaining admittance, unless, like Rosalind,
“I did suit me all points like a man;" and this not exactly suiting an old lady's prejudiccs, I gave up the point.
Tournay is a very fine fortified town, and Ath scarcely less formidable. Lille, celebrated for its manufactures, is a large, cheerful, dirty, Bristollike city ; but its merchandise being silken sheen, and not rums and sugars, the shop-windows are particularly gay, full of shawls and scarls, silks and satins.
At length we arrived at Brussels, and established ourselves, not at the nominally first hotel, the Belle Vue, but at the Hotel de l'Europe, its opposite neighbour in the Place Royale.
I never saw a more deserted-looking place, (it is in the month of September that I write.) London, at the same period, when no one that you meet acknowledges that he intends remaining four-and-twenty hours, can scarcely be more desolate!
What adds immensely to the sombre appearance of Brussels in the summer, is the near approximation of ruins to its most splendid palaces, and most cheerful haunts. The Royal Palace is beautiful, and next door to it is the late palace of Count Crockenburg, in a state of ruination; it having been knocked about his ears at the period of the revolution. The park, formerly surrounded with gilded rails, is now hurdled in, like an extensive piggery; and though all this uproar and mutilation happened three years ago, not one blemish has been as yet repaired!
Many English families have left the town since that period of commotion, and we cannot wonder at their flight, as some friends of mine, who lived in the centre of the most disturbed quarter, had their marble chimney-piece forced by a cannon-ball into the centre of their drawingroom, and they lived upon hashed mutton, cooked in the garret, during the whole disturbance.
Those who delight in giving Boulogne a bad name, call her the refuge for the destitute; but there appeared to me to be more notoriously bad
English at Brussels : it seemed, indeed, to be the last refuge of the infamous on a grand scale. These notorious personages would find Boulogne much too quiet a place for them; and pot having a chance of admission into good society, they would have no public amusement to occupy their time. Boulogne has indeed her club, where, as I walked up the Grande Rue in summer-time, I heard laughter and billiard balls
, and saw men sitting without their coats, with the backs out of the drawing-room windows. But this club is, I believe, a harmless sort of tittle-tattle place, where an old lady like myself might pass away an hour talking over the demerits of her neighbours, without seeing anything to shock her eyes. Up-stairs, three stories high, I believe, they have a little snug play; but on the drawing-room floor, billiards, newspapers, and gossip, form the indulgences of the subscribers. Now, this would never do for the notorious absentees of Brussels; something more exciting is required by these well-whiskered, honourable gentle
I have before observed that I have only seen Brussels out of seasons ; and the new town consequently looked like a desert : of the old town, I can, however, give a different account; it is full of pretty shops, and exhibited sufficient bustle and animation.
Some distingué women were to be seen, but very few smart men. The men, indeed, appeared to be strangers in what they called "travelling dresses ”—blue blouses and cloth caps ; looking more like butchers
' boys than gentlemen. Oh for the old school! (an old lady may be pardoned the exclamation.)-Oh for the days when a gentleman could be distinguished at a glance from a barber's 'prentice !-Oh for the days of embroidery and ruffes ! Alas! revolutions came (in dress, as well as graver matters,) and then people left off their ruffles, and took to cuffs!
To Waterloo, of course, I went; and the guide as usual picked up from among the rubbish the bullet he had yesterday buried there: the crop of bullets is inexhaustible.
But it is of bubbles, not of bullets, that I write; and though I might expatiate by the hour together respecting persons and things beyond my comprehension, yet there would be no novelty to the reader, so many travellers have trod the same path, and done the same thing.
I know very little about pictures, and therefore I have never alluded to the various collections which (though in ignorance) I enjoyed at Brussels and at Antwerp. But at the table d'hote at the latter place
, I met my old companion of the diligence, who talked to me with much animation about the shay drivers of Ruby's, and the specimens of Dominie Sampsons. But autumnal breezes began to roar very like the winds of winter, and the leaves were rapidly falling from the trees: it therefore became necessary for me at once to pack up the two trunks and the bandbox, and hasten homewards, or else to take a lodging and tarry the winter at Brussels. I soon seated myself again in the diligence, once more made my appearance at the long table at Roberts’s hotel at Calais, and after bubbling rather uneasily across the channel, I landed at Dover, and advanced by easy stages to London. Next summer my bubbles from the crater of Vesuvius will astonish everybody. At present I am comfortably established by my own fire-side, and wish during the winter months to think of no bubbles but those which emanate from the tea urn.