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A Night with the Anthological.

“ Wreathe the bowl

With flowers of soul,
The brightest wit can find us !"



ONE evening we were discussing the ideas of the various nations and ages of the world concerning second marriages, in which the old Knight, our president, being a widower himself, took a lively interest, you may be certain.

It was on this occasion that the Indian military doctor, who returned from the East not long since covered with decorations won in the campaigns of the Sutlej, China, and the Mutiny, and blessed with an ample pension to preserve them, told us the following, which he said was from the Persian.

Taking a pinch of snuff from a gold box, which he declares he received from the Shah, although others say it was acquired either at Pekin or Delhi, he looked round at us all, and with the gravity of an eastern fakir, began :

Emancipated from the body of a Syrian, who had just died of cholera, a human soul flew up to the gates of heaven. Knocking gently on the golden portals, which swung round on their ivory pillars on the instant, it gently asked for admittance.

«• Where do you come from?' demanded the angel with the beautiful but impassive countenance, who guarded with a flaming sword the entrance of Paradise.

“. From Aleppo,' answered the Syrian.
«• What were you?'
66 A merchant.'

Tell all, and conceal nothing,' continued the angel, ‘for all is known up here.'

“If all its actions were known, thought the poor soul, it was an extraordinary thing to ask it to recount them. But it did not dare express its surprise nor endeavour to dive into the inscrutable.

“ With great equanimity and scrupulous exactness the soul of the Syrian went through the history of its career in the flesh.

“The merchant, Abdalla, had purchased as cheaply and sold as dearly as he could, troubling himself very little on the one side or the other with the follies or neccessities of mankind. The world was a vast bazaar, in which buyers and sellers alike did their best for their respective




interests, which were, to get the better of each other. He had visited most of the ports of the Mediterranean in pursuit of his business; he had been up and down the wondrous Nile; he had wandered amongst the stupendous ruins of Thebes, and ascended the mightiest of the Egyptian pyramids. He had sailed to the Persian Gulf

, and down the Red Sea, and across the Indian Ocean. He had been to the diamond valleys of India, and to the far-off regions of North Asia where the mountains teemed with gold. If his means and power to do good were not as great, his thoughts were as generously inclined as Haroun Alraschid's; and if he had not gone through as many adventures, he travelled over as much of land and sea as Sindbad the sailor.

“And is that a full and true account of your doings upon earth ?' inquired the angel.

“A full and true account, to the best of my belief and recollection, of all that is worth relating.'

“But you have not said a word about your domestic deeds and relations. Were you ever married ?'

“« Ah ! I once passed that Rubicon, certainly, with a sigh, said the soul of the merchant.

“Pass in, afflicted soul,' said the angel, and join the noble army of martyrs and confessors.'

“ And the soul of the Syrian passed in, singing a joyful canțicle of thanksgiving, not improbably like Tom Moore's lay of the enraptured Peri who had been kept so long waiting in the same neighbourhood :

“• Joy, joy for ever! My task is done!

The gates are past and heaven is won!'

“The gates were about to be closed by the angel when another soul having arrived during the latter part of the foregoing conversation, requested to be allowed to pass through.

"The angel subjected the new comer, which was a male soul also, to the usual examination, concluding with the same question as in the former case, whether it had been married or single. This foolish soul, thought that if the one which had been just passed in, and whose confession it had overheard, was deemed worthy of being admitted into the regions of bliss for having married one woman, he might justly claim admittance for having married two. He said so therefore, without hesitation, confident of being deemed a doulde martyr and rewarded accordingly. The angel, however, on hearing the words twice married' uttered, cried out in a voice of mingled anger and contempt: Begone, silly soul! Paradise receives the unfortunate, but has no place for fools !'”

“The thought is not a very good-natured one, nor is it quite

original,” observed our host; “I remember well an old French proverb which says, Mari qui a pris une femme mérite une couronne de patience : mari qui en a eu deux en mérite deux de folie.” 1

“Which doubtless was taken from the Persian,” said the Doctor, “ as the best of our European proverbs have come from the East.”

The gallant old Knight, as might have been expected, changed the conversation, and we had en revanche an anthological round, more to the honour of the ladies and more in consonance with the general feeling than the Doctor's Persian story. The following, out of nearly a dozen, for every one present was obliged to give something, already composed or extempore, I thought not unworthy to be taken home with me and inserted amongst my jottings:


Tell me, Love, where is thy dwelling—2

In my lady's looks divine,

Or in this fond heart of mine?
Love, oh Love! there is no telling:

If thy lustre I admire,
In her bright eyes is thy nest;

If I feel thy piercing fire,
Thou art coiled within my breast !
Love, in miracles excelling,
Change, oh change thy mystic dwelling:

To my eyes thy fire impart!
Burn within my lady's heart !


Whoe'er thou art, thy master see'!
He is, he was, or ought to be.3

1 The husband of one wife deserves a crown of patience: the husband of two wives a crown of folly.

? Dov'hai tu nido Amore-
Nel viso di ma donna, o nel mio core !

tu sois, voici ton maitre !
Il est, le fut, ou le doit être.
(An inscription by Voltaire for a statuette of Love.)


Qui que

Two fair girls, and now another;
A boy you prayed for, lovely mother.

Of hope be not forlorn.
Venus's a similar case is.
Did she not produce the Graces

E'er her boy Love was born ?
The lady said, “Pray, don't be stupid ;"
And her next one was a Cupid.

To your beauty, dear lady, a sonnet

I'd write with a heart and a half;
But such verse as I'd perpetrate on it

Would only provoke you to laugh.
If but one Muse alone would inspire me,

Her divine inspiration I'd prove;
Though I'll swear the whole Nine could not fire me

Half so much as your bright eyes with love!

Love's religion universal
Needs no neophyte rehearsal.
With the dogma all agree
Of Love's infallibility.
The reason is, for either sex
Nature is Love's Grand Pontifex.1

When it came to the Doctor's turn, who had not been very well pleased at the manner in which his Persian story had been received, he gave us the following fling at the beau sexe, from a bit of paper which he drew from his cigar-box, condescending to give us at the

Si les mystères de l'amour trouvent partout tant des croyants c'est que l'amour est une religion dont le grand pontife est la nature.- ADOLPHE RICARD.

same time the authorities from whom he drew his inspiration. One of the company proposed giving it the title of

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Captain Daly, an Irish dragoon, who had been at Stonyhurst with Roger Tichbourne, and escaped being trotted out by the AttorneyGeneral, said he could cap the Doctor's little bit of caustic with something like a triad, and gave us the following quaint rendering of one of Martial's best epigrams. The original was happily quoted by Lord Palmerston in Parliament on a celebrated occasion. The Captain roundly asserted that if the Romans had been smokers they would have never thought of bathing. At all events, they would not have thought it worth their while to write verses about it.

Oh! 'tis Venus and Bacchus

And smoking that rack us,
And poison the springs of our life.

But life's business, I'm thinking,

Is smoking and drinking,
And we wind it all up with a wife.3

The old Knight wound up the evening with the following racy anecdote; and he was not, as indeed he never is, long about it.

“I perceive,” said he, “that a correspondent of the “Notes and Queries,' declares that Dick Milligan's old song of The Groves of Blarney,' is a plagiarism from the still older one of 'Castle Hyde;' but what I'm going to tell you about them is original-every word of it.

“One night, at the wind-up of one of the pleasantest of the pleasant

1 Il y a trois choses que les femmes jettent par la fenêtre: leur temps, leur argent, et leur santé.—MDME. GEOFFRIN.

? Trois choses meuvent puissamment les femmes : l'intérêt, la vanité, et le plaisir.-DIDEROT.

3 Balnea, vina, Venus, corrumpunt corpora nostra ;
Sed faciunt vitam-balnea, vina, Venus.


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