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Lady Hester Stanhope to Lieut.-General Oakes.
Rebeck upon the Bosphorus,
My dear General, As the answer from France is not yet come, I am going straight to Egypt; therefore send all letters you may receive for me to Mr. Maltoss, at Alexandria. I am so hurried just now, I have not time to write but a few lines, but you will hear of me from Mr. Manutz, our late consul at Bussorah, and from Mr. Taylor, who brings you a letter from his brother the delightful colonel. I have talked to Mr. Taylor about you and about Malta, but to no other person; he perhaps can be of use to you, as he has been all his life used to intrigue, though in himself a plain straightforward man. To say how I lament that you should be losing your time and your health at such an infernal place, has grieved me for some time; and I wish you would take my advice, and if you can get leave to quit Malta and all its horrors, do visit the Morea, it may be so useful to you hereafter, for things will not always remain as they are in that quarter; it must sooner or later fall into the hands of the French or English. Mr. Taylor is not only prepared to like you, but to serve you in any way in which you may put it into his power; and at all events for a man of his character to be able to state how things stood exactly is always an advantage, for persons cannot praise themselves, or tell their own story, with the same effect as it can be told by others. You shall hear from me again as soon as I get to Alexandria: in the mean time, may every good wish I make for you be realized.
Adieu, my dear General,
Having received no letters from England for an age, I have none to send just now.
Dr. Ch. Lewis Meryon to Lieut.-General Oakes.
Rhodes, December 2, 1811.
Sir, Finding an occasion presents itself for Malta, I cannot forbear writing to your excellency, to apprize you of a nisfortune that has happened to Lady Hester Stanhope and her party; and which, though (thank God!) it has not proved a fatal one, has yet been so serious, as to make me apprehensive lest it should come misrepresented to your ears, and cause, by that means, an unnecessary
Your excellency probably was aware that her ladyship had left Constantinople for Egypt. A ship of about 250 tons (as I guess) had been hired, and commodiously fitted up for the voyage. Scarcely had we quitted the canal of the Bosphorus when a storm arose, and detained us seven days behind the Princes' Islands; so that, at setting out, the weather was against us. This subsided, we made shift, by degrees, to reach Scio, where we were detained ten days more by a second, not less furious than the first, though intermitting occasionally. A fair wind at last sprung up, and reaching the port of Rhodes on the evening of Saturday the 23d, we took our departure thence at midnight, and by Monday afternoon had crossed more than halfway towards
Alexandria. I think it was about sunset that a sirocco sprung up, and by the next morning had become so furious as to oblige us to wear ship and retrace our road. On Tuesday and Wednesday the gale continued, acquiring every hour fresh strength and as Rhodes, for which we were making, required the ship to go with the wind on her beam, our progress had not been so rapid as to bring land in sight. Thursday, about eight o'clock, the ship rolling tremendously, her foremast slipt out of its step, and made a hole through her bottom. In a quarter of an hour there was a foot water above the ballast, and the leak was then first discovered. The pump was immediately manned, but proved to be useless. All hands were then set to work with buckets, but the leak evidently gained upon us, and the crew, exhausted with fatigue, were on the point of giving themselves up to their fate, when, at two in the afternoon, Mr. Bruce's servant discovered land. The man's emotion was so great that he fell into an hysteric fit whilst the rest, borrowing a little fresh vigour, renewed their baling, in hopes of being able to last out till we reached what was now known to be the southern point of Rhodes. It is not for me to make the eulogium of her ladyship's courage during these awful moments. What little I had myself, I borrowed from the serenity of her looks. At three o'clock we came abreast of the point, but found we were unable to fetch the shore. The vessel was water-logged, and we were three miles off. An anchor was let go, but did not hold; and we were told now that our only hope was the ong-boat. No time was lost, and each person with only the clothes he had upon his back, got into her, making in all twenty-four. The sea ran mountains high; and trying to reach the land, it was found that the boat made no head against it. Fortunately, under our lee, there was a rock, about a mile from us. We made for this, and in half an hour reached it, all wet from head to foot, and the boat hardly out of the water. But here things wore a worse aspect than ever. The rock produced nothing eatable, had no inhabitants, and no water and from having fasted two days, owing to sea-sickness, our hunger and thirst were now pretty severe. We stopped here twenty-four hours, in expectation of starving, when the wind subsiding a little the boat succeeded in crossing to terra firma, and brought us back water and bread. The same night we all embarked, and reached a village on the sea-shore.
Thus, your excellency will see, that excepting our lives, every thing has been lost; as the ship probably went to the bottom an hour after we left her. Lady Hester, Mr. Bruce, and a gentleman by the name of Pearce, who is of her party, remain until to-morrow at the spot where we landed; I have come forward here to prepare a house for their reception. Not wishing, as I before observed, that any false account of our shipwreck should reach your excellency's ears, I write this letter without her ladyship's knowledge: persuaded that if you will pardon the trouble I give you she will approve of what I have done. I am happy to say that under all this fatigue and wetting her health has not suffered in the least.
I have the honour to be,
With the greatest respect,
Your Excellency's most obedient humble servant,
(To be continued.)
CH. LEWIS MERYON.
BY W. T. MONCRIEFF, ESQ.
Or the great comedian, ROBERT WILLIAM ELLISTON! who acted quite as much when off the stage as he did when on it, a thousand pleasant anecdotes might be recorded. Giving at all times a free vent to the sly humour, the goodnatured satire, and keen enjoyment of a joke, that were natural to him, his whim, eccentricity, readiness, and talent, gave to many of the adventures in which he was engaged an air of comedy, farce, or extravaganza, sufficiently dramatic; rendering them quite as amusing as one-half of the entertainments now produced on the stage. As the original raconteurs of these pleasantries (principally persons engaged in them) die away, so will the stories them
The present attempt to preserve some of these humorous scenes ere they are quite forgotten, may not prove displeasing to the general reader, nor unacceptable to the lover of theatricals. They must necessarily lose much of their raciness, pungency, and whimsicality, in being committed to paper: but the reader's imagination, who was at all acquainted with Elliston, will readily supply the writer's deficiencies.
A few solitary anecdotes, purporting to be of Elliston, have from time to time stolen into print, but they have hardly done justice to the Prince of genteel Comedy, representing him as a drunkard, a trickster, or something worse-but he was none of these, but a bon vivant, a wag,
A fellow of infinite jest, and most excellent fancy,
and one who has" often set the table in a roar.”
CONJURER AND NO CONJURER.
ELLISTON pursued every thing for the time being with an ardour that often led him into very inconvenient extremes. Whatever it was, business or pleasure, working or playing, speculating, building, acting, drinking, or gaming, he engaged in it for the moment to excess, carried away by the strength of his animal spirits. A well-authenticated anecdote may be related in exemplification of this peculiarity, and fifty others of the same kind might easily be brought forward.
One evening, during a short engagement in the pleasant town of Marlborough, he had retired from the theatre after the fatigues of the night to "take his ease in his inn,"-" The Roebuck," the then principal hostelry of the town-in company with Brunton and De Camp, both of them engaged there at that time as well as himself. "The Roebuck" was then a pleasant inn on the roadside, near the entrance of the town, overlooking in front the open country.
As it was impossible for Elliston at any time to remain wholly inactive, he proposed to his companions a rubber of whist by way of relaxation. Cards were accordingly produced, and Elliston taking dummy, put himself in array against his brother comedians. Fortune favoured him, he always turned up an honour when he dealt, had trumps at command, and got all the points of the game in his hand. As it was not by any means his practice to play for love, he very soon emptied the pockets of his friends. Flushed with success, he pursued
his advantage till their broaches, watches, and rings, had severally been staked against his broad pieces, and had shared the fate of their purses. Having now nothing to stake but their words which Elliston declined to take, as he also did lending them the "sinews of war," to use against himself, things came to a stand-still. At length, about two in the morning, the despoiled sons of Thespis departed for their trucklebeds, in no very pleasant mood, leaving their reckonings as unsatisfied as themselves.
Elliston did not, however, follow their example. The itch for play was upon him, and budge he would not. It was in vain the waiter made fifty excuses to come into the room, inquiring, par parenthèse, if there were any further orders, gently hinting at the same time that the family wished to retire to rest.
Potential in all things, Elliston authoritatively said, they need not sit up, that he should stay breakfast, desiring the waiter to bring up a fresh supply of candles, and put two or three bottles of madeira on the sideboard, and then go to bed.
Knowing his customer, John did as he was desired. Being once more left by himself, Elliston recommenced playing. Placing before him the spoils of victory, that is, the watches, and jewellery of his unfortunate friends: then carefully dividing their money into two equal portions, one of which he put into his right hand breechespocket, and the other into his left, he began to play at double dummy, duly filling a glass for each of his mute antagonists, transferring the stipulated sum for which he played from one pocket to the other, according as the supposed party to whom it was appointed won, or lost, drinking at the same time very gravely for each of the presumed players.
The break of day overtook him in this very pleasant pastime, and to enjoy the fresh air of the morning, he threw open the old-fashioned capacious bay-window that looked out from the front of the apartment in which he was sitting, and took a survey of the wide expanse before him. The novelty of the scene pleased him, for the break of day in the country he had seldom witnessed, though it had generally found him its votary in town, and he repeated the soliloquy of RichardThe air's refreshing,
And the ripe harvest of the new-mown hay
Never having, as he remarked to himself, gone through the scene with such natural properties; the neighbouring cocks crowing to a miracle: when all at once a merry voice was heard at some distance on the road carolling the well-known song,
The southerly wind, and a cloudy sky,
In an instant Elliston was all eye, as well as all ear. Eagerly stretching his neck out of the window, he perceived an individual coming briskly along dressed in a scarlet-coat, leathern inexpressibles, and top-boots, with a small wallet or knapsack strapped to his shoulders.
"It is some country squire; yes, there's his hunting-dress," thought Elliston, "going to join the hounds; he must step up, and take a glass of wine to help him on the road-perhaps he'll like a rubber."
"How do you do, sir-how do you do?" he bawled out; "good morning to you."
"Good morning," replied the red-coated gentleman, in a strong broad accent, very good-humouredly.
"A fine morning, sir, for hunting," said Elliston.
"Very," said the red-coated gentleman.
"Step up, and take a glass of wine, sir, it will help you on your road. I can let you in-free man's key, sir.'
"I doant care if I do, sur!" retorted the other.
No sooner said than done, the complaisant comedian descending to the front door, the complying stranger was soon admitted.
Free and easy as Elliston invariably was, he found his freedom and ease outdone by those of the stranger, whose familiarity was such, that it could not have been greater had he known Elliston all his life. A fresh bottle was soon uncorked, clean glasses produced, and filled and emptied on both sides with great celerity and good will. Elliston now thought it was a good opportunity to break the ice, accordingly he ventured to remark that it was a capital morning for sport.
"You are sure of plenty of game, sir," said he. "Talking of game, do you ever play at cards, sir?" carelessly taking in his hand the pack that was lying on the table, "ever do any thing in this way?” "Sometimes," said the stranger, with a smile; but what do you call these?" taking the cards from Elliston, and after a short examination, jerking them out of the window. "I always play with my own cards, then I knows no tricks can be practised that I am not up to." "A very wise precaution, sir," said Elliston, who now very decidedly smelt a customer; perhaps you'll have no objection to take a hand-we'll not play for much, only guinea points."
"Just as you loike, sir," replied the red-coated gentleman. "I never plays at cards wi' any one unless I be challenged, then you knows they can't grumble arterwards."
Very true," replied Elliston, with a knowing wink; "you are lucky at cards, perhaps."
Yes; I generally wins," said the stranger drily.
"I'm rather fortunate myself," said Elliston, with a self-satisfied smirk. Come, sir, we'll commence operations at once.
Lay on, Macduff,
And damned be he that first cries, hold, enough !"
"With all my heart," replied the red-coated gentleman, making the cards, as it is termed, with a dexterity of shuffle and cleanness of cut, scarcely to have been expected from one of his uncouth appearance. Elliston stared for a moment in astonishment, but soon recovered his self-possession.
"We'll e'en to it like French falconers," said he, and to it they
But, alas! poor Elliston soon found he had got his match-that he had a perfect master of the game to contend with-the cards seemed to know his adversary's touch, to obey his very wish, to play into his hands. If he wanted a particular trump he had it, every thing turned up in his favour-he was literally covered with honours, and scored every point.
Surprising" said the discomfited Elliston, as be parted with guinea after guinea.