“You ask me, my dear Ashley, to give you some advice, and write down my good wishes, if I have any in your direction. Of course I have, my dear fellow, and here goes. My advice first, then, is, never to drink more than three bottles of wine at one sitting—this is enough; and six bottles is, therefore, according to the most reliable rules of logic—which I hate—too much. You might do it if you had my head; but you havn’t, and there’s an end of it. Next, if you want to bet at races, ascertain which horse is the general ‘favorite,’ and as our friend, the ostler, at the Raleigh says—go agin him. Human nature invariably goes wrong; and this a wise man will never forget. Next, if you have the playing mania, never play with anybody but gentlemen. You will thus have the consolation of reflecting that you have been ruined in good company, and, in addition, had your pleasure;—blacklegs ruin a man with a vulgar rapidity which is positively shocking. Next, my dear boy—though this I need’nt tell you—never look at Greek after leaving college, or Moral Philosophy, or Mathematics proper. It interferes with a man’s education, which commences when he has recovered from the disadvantages of college. Lastly, my dear fellow, never fall in love with any woman—if you do, you will inevitably repent it. This world would get on quietly without them—as long as it lasted—and I need’nt tell you that the Trojan War, and other interesting events, never would have happened, but for bright eyes, and sighs, and that sort of thing. If you are obliged to marry, because you have an establishment, write the names of your lady acquaintances on scraps of paper, put them in your hat, and draw one forth at random. This admirable plan saves a great deal of trouble, and you will inevitably get a wife who, in all things, will make you miserable.
“Follow this advice, my dear fellow, and you will arrive at the summit of happiness. I trust I shall see you at the Oaks at the occasion of my marriage—you know, to my lovely cousin. She’s a charming girl, and we would be delighted to see you.
“Ever, my dear boy,
“—— —— ——”
“Ever?” asked Ralph, laughing.
“Such inconsistency!” said Fanny.
“Not a bit of it!”
“Explain why not, if you please, sir! I wonder if—”
“That cloud does not threaten a storm, and whether I am not hungry?” said Ralph, finishing Miss Fanny’s sentence, putting the album in his pocket, and attacking the baskets.
“Come, my dear cousin, let us, after partaking of mental food, assault the material! By Jove! what a horn of plenty!”
And Ralph, in the midst of cries exclamatory, and no little laughter, emptied the contents of the basket on the velvet sward, variegated by the sunlight through the boughs, and fit for kings.