This gentleman says, the most remarkable, or rather the only act of gaiety he met with in London, was an harangue made for an hour in the House of Lords, previous to the trial of Lord Byron; and that, as he afterwards understood, it was made by a drunken member of parliament. He says it made him and every body laugh exceedingly; but he laughed only (I presume) because every body else did, and relates the story, I fear, merely to make it a national laugh; for the harangue was certainly very ill placed, and the mirth it produced, very indecent, at a time a Peer of the realm was to be brought forth, accused of murder; and the untimely death of a valuable and virtuous young man, revived in every body’s memory.
This is the unfavourable side of what the gentleman says of the first people in England. Of the peasants and lower order, he observes, that, though they are well fed, well cloathed, and well lodged, yet they are all of a melancholy turn.—The French have no idea of what we call dry humour; and this gentleman, perhaps, thought the English clown melancholy, while he was laughing in his sleeve at the foppery of his laquais.
These observations put me in mind of another modern traveller, a man of sense and letters too, who observes, that the ballustrades at Westminster bridge are fixed very close together, to prevent the English getting through to drown themselves: and of a Gentleman at Cambridge, who, having cut a large pigeon-hole under his closet door, on being asked the use of it, said, he had it cut for an old cat which had kittens, to go in and out; but added, that he must send for the carpenter, to cut little holes for the young ones. His acute visitor instantly set up a horse laugh, and asked him whether the little cats could not come out at the same hole the big one did? The other laughing in his turn, said, he did not think of that.