Imagens das páginas

naturally indolent, and, moreover, a confirmed hypochondriac, he hardly ever left his own fireside from one year's end to the other. To accommodate his valetudinarian whims about cold, the company subjected themselves to the risk of being melted by a tremendous fire, in addition to the naturally oppressive heat of so crowded a place. But the good gentleman was so universal a favourite, that every inconvenience was cheerfully submitted to, rather than lose the

gratification of having Sir Alisander to preside over their revels. Such was the Baronet's apprehension of cold, and sifting airs, that, notwithstanding the quantum of culinary heat he was now exposed to, he sat with his great-coat on, a large flannel roller round his neck, and a red night-cap on his head, surmounted by his small gold laced cocked hat.

Next to Sir Alisander sat his shadow, Julius Cæsar Macflae, a spare figure in black velvet breeches, whose tout ensemble bore a strong resemblance to those memento moris who walk before funeral processions, known in Scotland by the name of saulies. His long thin neck, bound tight by a narrow white stock and buckle, showed over his collarless coat like the shank of a mushroom. His head was thinly sprinkled with straggling hairs, with great difficulty collected from different quarters into a tiny pig-tail behind, so as to leave two chevaux de frise of bristles, rising on each side over his ears, which were so large as to resemble the orifices of two vast conchs. A toupee in front had once existed, but had long since disappeared, leaving his brow to exhibit all the effects of a West Indian sun, shaded gradually off into the polished yellow of his bald pate. His mouth was of size corresponding to that of his ears, but the smelling organ was so little developed, that it was hardly more prominent than the nose of an old-fashioned barber's block, its site being only ascertained by the appearance of two black perforations resembling nostrils. His eyebrows projected remarkably, and were so very bushy, that they seemed to have monopolized all the hair that should have adorned his head. They almost covered his eyes, which, when narrowly inspected, were of that greenish, watery, mis-shapen appearance, presented by a bursten gooseberry after rain. Notwithstanding the sounding names

of this person, he was the son of a parish schoolmaster, who, being very desirous that his boy should become a hero and a scholar, thought it prudent, on the Shandean principle, to bestow upon him praenomina suitable to the deeds he should one day achieve, as well as corresponding to his future literary eminence. Nor did Julius altogether baulk these fond paternal hopes, for, after having acted as tutor to Sir Alisander, he procured a situation in the West Indies, where he actually held a commission in the Kingston Volunteers, and where he, moreover, made some figure in a debating club. Having realized a little fortune, he returned to repose under his laurels, and having built a snug, upright-gabled house in his native village, he became the humble, but inseparable companion of his former pupil.

The seats in the neighbourhood of the chair were occupied by the Lairds of Blutterbog, Whinnyshaw, Blawweary, Crazletap, Windlestrawlee, and Windygoul, individuals having so little particularly striking or characteristic about them, as to require no minute delineation.

After them came Bailie Sparrowpipe the mer

cer from the neighbouring borough, a tall, thin, spindle-shanked man about forty-five or fifty ; a sort of dandy of the day, with white thread stockings, large brass buckles, short-knee'd black serge breeches, yellow waiscoat, and cinnamoncoloured coat, of the old cut, pale face, and small pinking eyes, which had enough ado to see beyond a long sharp-pointed nose, and his hair peaked up in a toupee before, and tied in a silk bag behind. His body was bent forward at about half its altitude, in an angle so acute, that his nose and toes always entered a room several seconds before the rear-guard of his person. This conformation, in the opinion of many, was bestowed originally upon them by nature; but it was more generally believed, that he owed it partly, if not wholly, to the obsequious bows he made over the counter to the ladies who frequented his shop.

Next to Sparrowpipe sat Deacon M.Candy the grocer, a thick-set round-bellied vulgar little man, with a bluish red face and fiery eyes, betokening a lurking violence of temper, capable of occasionally rousing him from that natural apathy indicated by the stupidity of his countenance.

On the opposite side of the table to him sat Dr Partenclaw, who prided himself upon his vocal powers, and who had been leader of the catch. He was a little man with a large jowl, pig's eyes, red hooked nose, sack belly, spindle thighs, cased in dirty leather breeches, and limbs bound in a sort of black leather greaves, fastened with iron clasps.

Besides these, there were some inferior persons, who, as they seated themselves there for no other purpose than to assist in emptying the hogshead, to fill up the chorus of the songs, or to join in the roar or laugh, are hardly worth particularizing

« AnteriorContinuar »