Your cherry-cheeked friend and another, both in the family from childhood, (another good sign of the house,) and looking as if they really were glad—and so they are—to have an opportunity of obliging you, do the servitorial offices of the table; you are sure of a glass of old sherry, and you may call for strong beer, or old port, with your cheese—or, if a Scotchman, for a dram—without any other remark than an invitation to “try it again, and make yourself comfortable.”
After dinner, you are invited, as a young man, to smoke a cigar with the “boys,” as Joe persists in calling them. You ascend to a bed-room, and are requested to keep your head out o’ window while smoking, lest the “Governor” should snuff the fumes when he comes up stairs to bed: while you are “craning” your neck, the cherry-cheeked lass enters with brandy and water, and you are as merry and easy as possible. The rest of the evening passes away in the same unrestrained interchange of friendly courtesy; nor are you permitted to take your leave without a promise to dine on the next Sunday or holiday—Mrs Stimpson rating you for not coming last Easter Sunday, and declaring she cannot think “why young men should mope by themselves, when she is always happy to see them.”
Honour to Joe Stimpson and his missus! They have the true ring of the ancient coin of hospitality; none of your hollow-sounding raps: they know they have what I want, a home, and they will not allow me, at their board, to know that I want one: they compassionate a lonely, isolated man, and are ready to share with him the hearty cheer and unaffected friendliness of their English fireside: they know that they can get nothing by me, nor do they ever dream of an acknowledgment for their kindness; but I owe them for many a social day redeemed from cheerless solitude; many an hour of strenuous labour do I owe to the relaxation of the old wainscotted dining-room at Bermondsey.
Honour to Joe Stimpson, and to all who are satisfied with their station, happy in their home, have no repinings after empty sounds of rank and shows of life; and who extend the hand of friendly fellowship to the homeless, because they have no home!
THE ARISTOCRACY OF TALENT.
“There is a quantity
of talent latent among men, ever rising to
the level of the great occasions that call it forth.”
This illustration, borrowed by Sir James Mackintosh from chemical science, and so happily applied, may serve to indicate the undoubted truth, that talent is a growth as much as a gift; that circumstances call out and develop its latent powers; that as soil, flung upon the surface from the uttermost penetrable depths of earth, will be found to contain long-dormant germs of vegetable life, so the mind of man, acted upon by circumstances, will ever be found equal to a certain sum of production—the amount of which will be chiefly determined by the force and direction of the external influence which first set it in motion.