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Chapter 12

----This is the very barn-yard,
Where muster daily the prime cocks o' the game,
Ruffle their pinions, crow till they are hoarse,
And spar about a barleycorn. Here too chickens,
The callow, unfledged brood of forward folly,
Learn first to rear the crest, and aim the spur,
And tune their note like full-plumed Chanticleer.
_The Bear-Garden._

The Ordinary, now an ignoble sound, was in the days of James, a new
institution, as fashionable among the youth of that age as the first-
rate modern club-houses are amongst those of the present day. It
differed chiefly, in being open to all whom good clothes and good
assurance combined to introduce there. The company usually dined
together at an hour fixed, and the manager of the establishment
presided as master of the ceremonies.

Monsieur le Chevalier, (as he qualified himself,) Saint Priest de
Beaujeu, was a sharp, thin Gascon, about sixty years old, banished
from his own country, as he said, on account of an affair of honour,
in which he had the misfortune to kill his antagonist, though the best
swordsman in the south of France. His pretensions to quality were
supported by a feathered hat, a long rapier, and a suit of embroidered
taffeta, not much the worse for wear, in the extreme fashion of the
Parisian court, and fluttering like a Maypole with many knots of
ribbon, of which it was computed he bore at least five hundred yards
about his person. But, notwithstanding this profusion of decoration,
there were many who thought Monsieur le Chevalier so admirably
calculated for his present situation, that nature could never have
meant to place him an inch above it. It was, however, part of the
amusement of the place, for Lord Dalgarno and other young men of
quality to treat Monsieur de Beaujeu with a great deal of mock
ceremony, which being observed by the herd of more ordinary and simple
gulls, they paid him, in clumsy imitation, much real deference. The
Gascon's natural forwardness being much enhanced by these
circumstances, he was often guilty of presuming beyond the limits of
his situation, and of course had sometimes the mortification to be
disagreeably driven back into them.

When Nigel entered the mansion of this eminent person, which had been
but of late the residence of a great Baron of Queen Elizabeth's court,
who had retired to his manors in the country on the death of that
princess, he was surprised at the extent of the accommodation which it
afforded, and the number of guests who were already assembled.
Feathers waved, spurs jingled, lace and embroidery glanced everywhere;
and at first sight, at least, it certainly made good Lord Dalgarno's
encomium, who represented the company as composed almost entirely of
youth of the first quality. A more close review was not quite so
favourable. Several individuals might be discovered who were not
exactly at their ease in the splendid dresses which they wore, and
who, therefore, might be supposed not habitually familiar with such
finery. Again, there were others, whose dress, though on a general
view it did not seem inferior to that of the rest of the company,
displayed, on being observed more closely, some of these petty
expedients, by which vanity endeavours to disguise poverty.

Nigel had very little time to make such observations, for the entrance
of Lord Dalgarno created an immediate bustle and sensation among the
company, as his name passed from one mouth to another. Some stood
forward to gaze, others stood back to make way--those of his own rank
hastened to welcome him--those of inferior degree endeavoured to catch
some point of his gesture, or of his dress, to be worn and practised
upon a future occasion, as the newest and most authentic fashion.

The _genius loci_, the Chevalier himself, was not the last to welcome
this prime stay and ornament of his establishment. He came shuffling
forward with a hundred apish _conges_ and _chers milors_, to express
his happiness at seeing Lord Dalgarno again.--"I hope you do bring
back the sun with you, _Milor_--You did carry away the sun and moon
from your pauvre Chevalier when you leave him for so long. Pardieu, I
believe you take them away in your pockets."

"That must have been because you left me nothing else in them,
Chevalier," answered Lord Dalgarno; but Monsieur le Chevalier, I pray
you to know my countryman and friend, Lord Glenvarloch!"

"Ah, ha! tres honore--Je m'en souviens,--oui. J'ai connu autrefois un
Milor Kenfarloque en Ecosse. Yes, I have memory of him--le pere de
milor apparemment-we were vera intimate when I was at Oly Root with
Monsieur de la Motte--I did often play at tennis vit Milor Kenfarloque
at L'Abbaie d'Oly Root--il etoit meme plus fort que moi--Ah le
beaucoup de revers qu'il avoit!--I have memory, too that he was among
the pretty girls--ah, un vrai diable dechaine--Aha! I have memory--"

"Better have no more memory of the late Lord Glenvarloch," said Lord
Dalgarno, interrupting the Chevalier without ceremony; who perceived
that the encomium which he was about to pass on the deceased was
likely to be as disagreeable to the son as it was totally undeserved
by the father, who, far from being either a gamester or libertine, as
the Chevalier's reminiscences falsely represented him, was, on the
contrary, strict and severe in his course of life, almost to the
extent of rigour.

"You have the reason, milor," answered the Chevalier, "you have the
right--Qu'est ce que nous avons a faire avec le temps passe?--the time
passed did belong to our fathers--our ancetres--very well--the time
present is to us--they have their pretty tombs with their memories and
armorials, all in brass and marbre--we have the petits plats exquis,
and the soupe-a-Chevalier, which I will cause to mount up

So saying, he made a pirouette on his heel, and put his attendants in
motion to place dinner on the table. Dalgarno laughed, and, observing
his young friend looked grave, said to him, in a tone of reproach-Why,
what!-you are not gull enough to be angry with such an ass as that?"

"I keep my anger, I trust, for better purposes," said Lord
Glenvarloch; "but I confess I was moved to hear such a fellow mention
my father's name--and you, too, who told me this was no gaming-house,
talked to him of having left it with emptied pockets."

"Pshaw, man!" said Lord Dalgarno, "I spoke but according to the trick
of the time; besides, a man must set a piece or two sometimes, or he
would be held a cullionly niggard. But here comes dinner, and we will
see whether you like the Chevalier's good cheer better than his

Dinner was announced accordingly, and the two friends, being seated in
the most honourable station at the board, were ceremoniously attended
to by the Chevalier, who did the honours of his table to them and to
the other guests, and seasoned the whole with his agreeable
conversation. The dinner was really excellent, in that piquant style
of cookery which the French had already introduced, and which the
home-bred young men of England, when they aspired to the rank of
connoisseurs and persons of taste, were under the necessity of
admiring. The wine was also of the first quality, and circulated in
great variety, and no less abundance. The conversation among so many
young men was, of course, light, lively, and amusing; and Nigel, whose
mind had been long depressed by anxiety and misfortune, naturally
found himself at ease, and his spirits raised and animated.

Some of the company had real wit, and could use it both politely and
to advantage; others were coxcombs, and were laughed at without
discovering it; and, again, others were originals, who seemed to have
no objection that the company should be amused with their folly
instead of their wit. And almost all the rest who played any prominent
part in the conversation had either the real tone of good society
which belonged to the period, or the jargon which often passes current
for it.

In short, the company and conversation was so agreeable, that Nigel's
rigour was softened by it, even towards the master of ceremonies, and
he listened with patience to various details which the Chevalier de
Beaujeu, seeing, as he said, that Milor's taste lay for the "curieux
and Futile," chose to address to him in particular, on the subject of
cookery. To gratify, at the same time, the taste for antiquity, which
he somehow supposed that his new guest possessed, he launched out in
commendation of the great artists of former days, particularly one
whom he had known in his youth, "Maitre de Cuisine to the Marechal
Strozzi--tres bon gentilhomme pourtant;" who had maintained his
master's table with twelve covers every day during the long and severe
blockade of le petit Leyth, although he had nothing better to place on
it than the quarter of a carrion-horse now and then, and the grass and
weeds that grew on the ramparts. "Despardieux c'dtoit un homme
superbe! With one tistle-head, and a nettle or two, he could make a
soupe for twenty guests--an haunch of a little puppy-dog made a roti
des plus excellens; but his coupe de maitre was when the rendition--
what you call the surrender, took place and appened; and then, dieu me
damme, he made out of the hind quarter of one salted horse, forty-five
couverts; that the English and Scottish officers and nobility, who had
the honour to dine with Monseigneur upon the rendition, could not tell
what the devil any of them were made upon at all.

The good wine had by this time gone so merrily round, and had such
genial effect on the guests, that those of the lower end of the table,
who had hitherto been listeners, began, not greatly to their own
credit, or that of the ordinary, to make innovations.

"You speak of the siege of Leith," said a tall, raw-boned man, with
thick mustaches turned up with a military twist, a broad buff belt, a
long rapier, and other outward symbols of the honoured profession,
which lives by killing other people--"you talk of the siege of Leith,
and I have seen the place--a pretty kind of a hamlet it is, with a
plain wall, or rampart, and a pigeon-house or so of a tower at every
angle. Uds daggers and scabbards, if a leaguer of our days had been
twenty-four hours, not to say so many months, before it, without
carrying the place and all its cocklofts, one after another, by pure
storm, they would have deserved no better grace than the Provost-
Marshal gives when his noose is reeved."

"Saar," said the Chevalier, "Monsieur le Capitaine, I vas not at the
siege of the petit Leyth, and I know not what you say about the
cockloft; but I will say for Monseigneur de Strozzi, that he
understood the grande guerre, and was grand capitaine--plus grand--
that is more great, it may be, than some of the capitaines of
Angleterre, who do speak very loud--tenez, Monsieur, car c'est a

"O Monsieur." answered the swordsman, "we know the Frenchman will
fight well behind his barrier of stone, or when he is armed with back,
breast, and pot."

"Pot!" exclaimed the Chevalier, "what do you mean by pot--do you mean
to insult me among my noble guests? Saar, I have done my duty as a
pauvre gentilhomme under the Grand Henri Quatre, both at Courtrai and
Yvry, and, ventre saint gris! we had neither pot nor marmite, but did
always charge in our shirt."

"Which refutes another base scandal," said Lord Dalgarno, laughing,
"alleging that linen was scarce among the French gentlemen-at-arms."

"Gentlemen out at arms and elbows both, you mean, my lord," said the
captain, from the bottom of the table." Craving your lordship's
pardon, I do know something of these same gens-d'armes."

"We will spare your knowledge at present, captain, and save your
modesty at the same time the trouble of telling us how that knowledge
was acquired," answered Lord Dalgarno, rather contemptuously.

"I need not speak of it, my lord," said the man of war; "the world
knows it--all perhaps, but the men of mohair--the poor sneaking
citizens of London, who would see a man of valour eat his very hilts
for hunger, ere they would draw a farthing from their long purses to
relieve them. O, if a band of the honest fellows I have seen were once
to come near that cuckoo's nest of theirs!"

"A cuckoo's nest!-and that said of the city of London!" said a gallant
who sat on the opposite side of the table, and who, wearing a splendid
and fashionable dress, seemed yet scarce at home in it--"I will not
brook to hear that repeated."

"What!" said the soldier, bending a most terrific frown from a pair of
broad black eyebrows, handling the hilt of his weapon with one hand,
and twirling with the other his huge mustaches; "will you quarrel for
your city?"

"Ay, marry will I," replied the other. "I am a citizen, I care not who
knows it; and he who shall speak a word in dispraise of the city, is
an ass and a peremptory gull, and I will break his pate, to teach him
sense and manners."

The company, who probably had their reasons for not valuing the
captain's courage at the high rate which he himself put upon it, were
much entertained at the manner in which the quarrel was taken up by
the indignant citizen; and they exclaimed on all sides, "Well run,
Bow-bell!"--"Well crowed, the cock of Saint Paul's!"--"Sound a charge
there, or the soldier will mistake his signals, and retreat when he
should advance."

"You mistake me, gentlemen," said the captain, looking round with an
air of dignity. "I will but inquire whether this cavaliero citizen is
of rank and degree fitted to measure swords with a man of action;
(for, conceive me, gentlemen, it is not with every one that I can
match myself without loss of reputation;) and in that case he shall
soon hear from me honourably, by way of cartel."

"You shall feel me most dishonourably in the way of cudgel," said the
citizen, starting up, and taking his sword, which he had laid in a
corner. "Follow me."

"It is my right to name the place of combat, by all the rules of the
sword," said the captain; "and I do nominate the Maze, in Tothill-
Fields, for place--two gentlemen, who shall be indifferent judges, for
witnesses;--and for time--let me say this day fortnight, at daybreak."

"And I," said the citizen, "do nominate the bowling-alley behind the
house for place, the present good company for witnesses, and for time
the present moment."

So saying, he cast on his beaver, struck the soldier across the
shoulders with his sheathed sword, and ran down stairs. The captain
showed no instant alacrity to follow him; yet, at last, roused by the
laugh and sneer around him, he assured the company, that what he did
he would do deliberately, and, assuming his hat, which he put on with
the air of Ancient Pistol, he descended the stairs to the place of
combat, where his more prompt adversary was already stationed, with
his sword unsheathed. Of the company, all of whom seemed highly
delighted with the approaching fray, some ran to the windows which
overlooked the bowling-alley, and others followed the combatants down
stairs. Nigel could not help asking Dalgarno whether he would not
interfere to prevent mischief.

"It would be a crime against the public interest," answered his
friend; "there can no mischief happen between two such originals,
which will not be a positive benefit to society, and particularly to
the Chevalier's establishment, as he calls it. I have been as sick of
that captain's buff belt, and red doublet, for this month past, as
e'er I was of aught; and now I hope this bold linendraper will cudgel
the ass out of that filthy lion's hide. See, Nigel, see the gallant
citizen has ta'en his ground about a bowl's-cast forward, in the midst
of the alley--the very model of a hog in armour. Behold how he prances
with his manly foot, and brandishes his blade, much as if he were
about to measure forth cambric with it. See, they bring on the
reluctant soldado, and plant him opposite to his fiery antagonist,
twelve paces still dividing them--Lo, the captain draws his tool, but,
like a good general, looks over his shoulder to secure his retreat, in
case the worse come on't. Behold the valiant shop-keeper stoops his
head, confident, doubtless, in the civic helmet with which his spouse
has fortified his skull--Why, this is the rarest of sport. By Heaven,
he will run a tilt at him, like a ram."

It was even as Lord Dalgarno had anticipated; for the citizen, who
seemed quite serious in his zeal for combat, perceiving that the man
of war did not advance towards him, rushed onwards with as much good
fortune as courage, beat down the captain's guard, and, pressing on,
thrust, as it seemed, his sword clear through the body of his
antagonist, who, with a deep groan, measured his length on the ground.
A score of voices cried to the conqueror, as he stood fixed in
astonishment at his own feat, "Away, away with you!--fly, fly--fly by
the back door!--get into the Whitefriars, or cross the water to the
Bankside, while we keep off the mob and the constables." And the
conqueror, leaving his vanquished foeman on the ground, fled
accordingly, with all speed.

"By Heaven," said Lord Dalgarno, "I could never have believed that the
fellow would have stood to receive a thrust--he has certainly been
arrested by positive terror, and lost the use of his limbs. See, they
are raising him."

Stiff and stark seemed the corpse of the swordsman, as one or two of
the guests raised him from the ground; but, when they began to open
his waistcoat to search for the wound which nowhere existed, the man
of war collected, his scattered spirits; and, conscious that the
ordinary was no longer a stage on which to display his valour, took to
his heels as fast as he could run, pursued by the laughter and shouts
of the company.

"By my honour," said Lord Dalgarno, "he takes the same course with his
conqueror. I trust in heaven he will overtake him, and then the
valiant citizen will suppose himself haunted by the ghost of him he
has slain."

"Despardieux, milor," said the Chevalier, "if he had stayed one
moment, he should have had a _torchon_--what you call a dishclout,
pinned to him for a piece of shroud, to show he be de ghost of one
grand fanfaron."

"In the meanwhile," said Lord Dalgarno, "you will oblige us, Monsieur
le Chevalier, as well as maintain your own honoured reputation, by
letting your drawers receive the man-at-arms with a cudgel, in case he
should venture to come way again."

"Ventre saint gris, milor," said the Chevalier, "leave that to me.--
Begar, the maid shall throw the wash-sud upon the grand poltron!"

When they had laughed sufficiently at this ludicrous occurrence, the
party began to divide themselves into little knots--some took
possession of the alley, late the scene of combat, and put the field
to its proper use of a bowling-ground, and it soon resounded with all
the terms of the game, as "run, run-rub, rub--hold bias, you infernal
trundling timber!" thus making good the saying, that three things are
thrown away in a bowling-green, namely, time, money, and oaths. In the
house, many of the gentlemen betook themselves to cards or dice, and
parties were formed at Ombre, at Basset, at Gleek, at Primero, and
other games then in fashion; while the dice were used at various
games, both with and without the tables, as Hazard, In-and-in,
Passage, and so forth. The play, however, did not appear to be
extravagantly deep; it was certainly conducted with great decorum and
fairness; nor did there appear any thing to lead the young Scotsman in
the least to doubt his companion's assurance, that the place was
frequented by men of rank and quality, and that the recreations they
adopted were conducted upon honourable principles.

Lord Dalgarno neither had proposed play to his friend, nor joined in
the amusement himself, but sauntered from one table to another,
remarking the luck of the different players, as well as their capacity
to avail themselves of it, and exchanging conversation with the
highest and most respectable of the guests. At length, as if tired of
what in modern phrase would have been termed lounging, he suddenly
remembered that Burbage was to act Shakespeare's King Richard, at the
Fortune, that afternoon, and that he could not give a stranger in
London, like Lord Glenvarloch, a higher entertainment than to carry
him to that exhibition; "unless, indeed," he added, in a whisper,
"there is paternal interdiction of the theatre as well as of the

"I never heard my father speak of stage-plays," said Lord Glenvarloch,
"for they are shows of a modern date, and unknown in Scotland. Yet, if
what I have heard to their prejudice be true, I doubt much whether he
would have approved of them."

"Approved of them!" exclaimed Lord Dalgarno--"why, George Buchanan
wrote tragedies, and his pupil, learned and wise as himself, goes to
see them, so it is next door to treason to abstain; and the cleverest
men in England write for the stage, and the prettiest women in London
resort to the playhouses, and I have a brace of nags at the door which
will carry us along the streets like wild-fire, and the ride will
digest our venison and ortolans, and dissipate the fumes of the wine,
and so let's to horse--Godd'en to you, gentlemen--Godd'en, Chevalier
de la Fortune."

Lord Dalgarno's grooms were in attendance with two horses, and the
young men mounted, the proprietor upon a favourite barb, and Nigel
upon a high-dressed jennet, scarce less beautiful. As they rode
towards the theatre, Lord Dalgarno endeavoured to discover his
friend's opinion of the company to which he had introduced him, and to
combat the exceptions which he might suppose him to have taken. "And
wherefore lookest thou sad," he said, "my pensive neophyte? Sage son
of the Alma Mater of Low-Dutch learning, what aileth thee? Is the leaf
of the living world which we have turned over in company, less fairly
written than thou hadst been taught to expect? Be comforted, and pass
over one little blot or two; thou wilt be doomed to read through many
a page, as black as Infamy, with her sooty pinion, can make them.
Remember, most immaculate Nigel, that we are in London, not Leyden--
that we are studying life, not lore. Stand buff against the reproach
of thine over-tender conscience, man, and when thou summest up, like a
good arithmetician, the actions of the day, before you balance the
account on your pillow, tell the accusing spirit, to his brimstone
beard, that if thine ears have heard the clatter of the devil's bones,
thy hand hath not trowled them--that if thine eye hath seen the
brawling of two angry boys, thy blade hath not been bared in their

"Now, all this may be wise and witty," replied Nigel; "yet I own I
cannot think but that your lordship, and other men of good quality
with whom we dined, might have chosen a place of meeting free from the
intrusion of bullies, and a better master of your ceremonial than
yonder foreign adventurer."

"All shall be amended, Sancte Nigelle, when thou shalt come forth a
new Peter the Hermit, to preach a crusade against dicing, drabbing,
and company-keeping. We will meet for dinner in Saint Sepulchre's
Church; we will dine in the chancel, drink our flask in the vestry,
the parson shall draw every cork, and the clerk say amen to every
health. Come man, cheer up, and get rid of this sour and unsocial
humour. Credit me, that the Puritans who object to us the follies and
the frailties incident to human nature, have themselves the vices of
absolute devils, privy malice and backbiting hypocrisy, and spiritual
pride in all its presumption. There is much, too' in life which we
must see, were it only to learn to shun it. Will Shakespeare, who
lives after death, and who is presently to afford thee such pleasure
as none but himself can confer, has described the gallant Falconbridge
as calling that man

----' a bastard to the time,
That doth not smack of observation;
Which, though I will not practise to deceive,
Yet, to avoid deceit, I mean to learn."

But here we are at the door of the Fortune, where we shall have
matchless Will speaking for himself.--Goblin, and you other lout,
leave the horses to the grooms, and make way for us through the

They dismounted, and the assiduous efforts of Lutin, elbowing,
bullying, and proclaiming his master's name and title, made way
through a crowd of murmuring citizens, and clamorous apprentices, to
the door, where Lord Dalgarno speedily procured a brace of stools upon
the stage for his companion and himself, where, seated among other
gallants of the same class, they had an opportunity of displaying
their fair dresses and fashionable manners, while they criticised the
piece during its progress; thus forming, at the same time, a
conspicuous part of the spectacle, and an important proportion of the

Nigel Olifaunt was too eagerly and deeply absorbed in the interest of
the scene, to be capable of playing his part as became the place where
he was seated. He felt all the magic of that sorcerer, who had
displayed, within the paltry circle of a wooden booth, the long wars
of York and Lancaster, compelling the heroes of either line to stalk
across the scene in language and fashion as they lived, as if the
grave had given up the dead for the amusement and instruction of the
living. Burbage, esteemed the best Richard until Garrick arose, played
the tyrant and usurper with such truth and liveliness, that when the
Battle of Bosworth seemed concluded by his death, the ideas of reality
and deception were strongly contending in Lord Glenvarloch's
imagination, and it required him to rouse himself from his reverie, so
strange did the proposal at first sound when his companion declared
King Richard should sup with them at the Mermaid.

They were joined, at the same time, by a small party of the gentlemen
with whom they had dined, which they recruited by inviting two or
three of the most accomplished wits and poets, who seldom failed to
attend the Fortune Theatre, and were even but too ready to conclude a
day of amusement with a night of pleasure. Thither the whole party
adjourned, and betwixt fertile cups of sack, excited spirits, and the
emulous wit of their lively companions, seemed to realise the joyous
boast of one of Ben Jonson's contemporaries, when reminding the bard

"Those lyric feasts,
Where men such clusters had,
As made them nobly wild, not mad;
While yet each verse of thine
Outdid the meat, outdid the frolic wine."

Sir Walter Scott