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February From a personal year the same lady, with some point of view we are in the want of tact, suggests that habit of regarding Anno Domini partridge - driving in January not as a master, but as a serv- or wading a trout-river in April ant to be employed upon con- is not altogether a good thing venient occasions.
for our rheumatism, we feel “Going to the play to-night, justly aggrieved. Our rheuold fellow ?
matism, as a lady of her experi“Oh, no; I am much too old ence might have gathered, is for theatres.
part and parcel of our Anno Anglicè. “I have got some- Domini, a sort of deus thing better to do to-night.” machind to be invoked when
“Going to Mr A's party?” we want him, and we most
“No; I'm afraid I'm rather certainly do not require his past that sort of thing." services when there are par
Anglicè. “No fear: I went tridges to be shot or trout to one of Mrs A's parties last to be caught. It is not, we month, and there wasn't a feel, as if we had invited her to decent - looking woman in the come out and carry our carroom."
tridges, or to shiver on the bank “Coming to play cricket at with our landing-net, and thus Woolwich next week ?”
to occupy a position analogous “No, no; that's a little be- to that which we are expected yond me, you know –I can't to assume in the afternoonget down to them now. calling business.
Anglicè. “Catch me playing “But,” we seem to hear the at Woolwich again till they lady say, “I do like watching have relaid the ground. I got you fishing when you catch cut over here twice last week, anything. and that is enough for one
dear creature, season."
have on occasions hardened my “ Would you like to come heart to pay an afternoon call at and call with me at the B's a select house where I have been to-day ?”
sure that there will be no new This from the wife of our baby either in esse or in posse. bosom.
We knew a man in the flesh, “Well, no, dear; you see, not so many years ago, who I've got a touch of that silly elected to celebrate after a rheumatism, and I am rather fashion of his own the festitaking care of myself.”
val of Anno Domini about Anglicè. “ What an
extra- once in every six months. ordinary question ! Did
Most active both in mind and woman ever really know a man body on all other days in the who liked paying calls ? What year, on
these solemn occais the good of a wife if shesions he posed for four-andcannot leave her man's cards twenty hours as being very, for him?"
very old, old enough to be When at another time of his own great-grandfather, and
* And I too, my
indulged himself in that iso- Most men, however, seem to lation from society which we view the advance of age from have heard ladies with High- what we may call an objective Church tendencies describe as point of view, critically studya Retreat.
ing the performances of their We had occasion to notice elders or contemporaries, and that he was sufficiently weather- regulating their own line of wise to select for the purpose conduct accordingly. We know one of those days which a fisher- one man, for instance, who for man's almanac might specify years past has never omitted to as being good for neither man greet our own appearance in nor beast. On such a day, the cricket-field with the same wrapped up in a dressing- remark, slightly personal, but gown before a comfortable fire, always well-meant -“Awfully he would invite the respectful glad to see you playing here sympathy of his family, who to-day, old fellow; you know quite entered into the spirit that you are
so much of the thing and understood older than I am.” And this that the master of the house puts us upon our mettle at expected to be cosseted, pos- once. For do we not feel that seted, and
generally made we are for the nonce serving as much of. Brandy - gruel and an object-lesson, and that there favourite titbits were admin- is somebody on the ground who istered at seemly intervals, and is, if possible, even more keenly though we do not remember interested in our success than that straw was laid down in we are ourselves? And we can the street or that the door- go home and sleep the sleep of knocker was muffled, a dis- the just that night, buoyed up creet parlour-maid was careful by the conviction that while to whisper her
to others may have noted inquiring visitors with all the shortcomings, and possibly regravity due to so solemn an sented the presence of an old occasion.
fossil on the side, one man at “It is one of master's bad any rate has been equally ready days, sir, and I am afraid you to observe any redeeming feacannot see him.”
tures in our play. There is a The visitor had no cause for species of satisfaction even in being unduly anxious. Experi- the thought that we have one ence would have taught him trumpeter surviving; for that if the next day was fine know that for months to come and bright the phonix would he will find in our humble self rise from its ashes, and a re- a precedent for not giving up juvenated Æson would gladden all semblance of juvenility, and the hearts of his countrymen by that if any contemporary less discarding the dressing - gown energetic than himself ventures and resuming the ordinary garb to suggest that cricket is a and habits of a vigorous nine- young man's game, an answer teenth-century Englishman. will be ready on his tongue.
“ Too old to play cricket ? perly, when the catches are What nonsense! Why, I met dropped and the ball will perold What's-his-name playing the sist in going between our legs, other day, and he got a heap of when, as a climax to our misruns, and he's years older than fortunes, some volatile young I am.”
gentleman is kind enough to If the pair of us, the veterans run us out—who so grieved as of our side, have been fair sub
our trumpeter? In the fall of ject for criticism on the part of Hector—this reads rather as if our juniors, how shrewdly in there were two trumpeters, but our turn have we watched the
we must pose as his Hector just performances of the youngsters, for this once—he foresees the half fancying that in our prime ruin of Troy, in our discomwe were better men than they fiture he recognises his own fate, are now ; sure in our own mind and that night he
home that in the years to come few of very sorry - for himself. We them will feel as vigorous as we will hope that he may feel ourselves to-day, sceptical comfort in the thought that we perhaps as to the absolute really, after all, are "years superiority of young steel over older than he is, and so thinkold iron. And if it so happen ing, may postpone the sale of that by any chance Ulysses, his bat and pads for a period, favoured by the goddess, tem- at all events. porarily seems to regain his But Anno Domini has also, pristine strength and to bend from the objective point of the bow with more ease than view, a sadder tale to tell. Telemachus, how sweet the Some ten years ago we sat up triumph, how unbounded the smoking well into the small satisfaction to feel that there is hours of the night in the comsome life in the old dog yet? pany of an old
army man, who We are both of us on the best had received his commission in of terms with Anno Domini for or about the year that ‘Maga' weeks to come, and so far from first saw daylight. Time had feeling oppressed by weight of dealt kindly with him; he was years, inclined to give ourselves upright as a dart, in full poscredit for more of them than we session of all his faculties, a are really carrying.
brilliant pianist, and a most But to reverse the picture, cheery and interesting comand regard the object-lesson panion. Suddenly, in the from another point of view. middle of a story of On those bad days which come adventure he had met with only too often, when time and early in the century, he intereverything else seems to be polated, almost by way of thoroughly out of joint, when apology, “Of course, all those the wind blows from the east fellows are dead now. or the ground is slippery, when devilish odd thing, sir, but the eye is faulty, and the you've no idea how many of muscles refuse to work pro- my contemporaries are dead;
VOL. CLXV.—NO. M.
quite extraordinary, I call it.” we may be thankful that we do And as if the remark had set not see ourselves as others see him thinking, he shortly re- Sometimes, however, we lapsed into silence, and we got come perilously near the brink no more stories out of him that of so doing. Absorbed in our night.
work or amusements, we On our own shoulders Anno apt to grow, happily, unconDomini may seem to sit lightly scious of the flight of time, and enough, the decay of tissue that possibly for months together must be going on in our bodies nothing special or untoward may be unaccompanied by any occurs to remind us that we disquieting symptom; but when are not so young as we were. we watch the narrowing circle Then comes a rude awakening. of our contemporaries, and miss One day we suddenly run up the faces of those “who have against an old friend whom we toiled and wrought and fought” have lost sight of for many with us, we cannot help asking years. When we had last met ourselves the question why the him—alas ! a very long time one should have been taken and ago—we had regarded him as the other left.
embodiment manly “Jam proximus ardet Ucale- strength and beauty, a veritgon,” the blaze, if the wind sets able king of men-one of those this way, will reach our own marvellous athletes to whom no hearth next, and there will be feat of physical strength and enyet another gap in the circle. durance seemed to come amiss. It may be that, as the years Now he is nothing but a very roll on, our sense of pain, as ordinary mortal : there is abof pleasure, grows less acute, solutely nothing about his apand we become, comparatively pearance to suggest that he was speaking, callous; but it is only ever at any period of his existcallous, comparatively speaking, ence comely to behold. The after all, and to most of us, springy gait has become an un
we look round in vain gainly shuffle; instead of the for the old familiar faces, will lithe figure which we once adcome home the words in which mired, we now shudder at a roKingsley describes the feelings tundity of form which might of the Argonauts when they awake the envy of Mr Weller landed on the shores of their senior; the well-favoured face beloved Hellas : “ And their has become muddy - complexjoy was swallowed up in sor- ioned, and scored with deep row while they thought of their lines; when he laughs we see youth, and all their labour, and the gaps in the “ivory palace,” the gallant comrades they had when he takes off his hat we lost. Apart from this, there note the baldness. Even his is yet another way in which clothes and he used to dress Anno Domini is in the habit of so well, and we happen to know forcibly reminding us of his pres- that he is not a poor manence, It is an old saying that are vilely made and vilely put
In short, the disillusion is it, a marvellous memory for complete.
facts, at once pounces upon the Our first feeling is one of year. genuine sorrow : it is a lament- “ And old J.,” he adds, “ got able misfortune, we say to our- a third in history the year selves, that a fine figure of a after. Well, you know, old man should have run to seed man, you and I are not quite like that so early in life. Pre- so young as we were. I should sently we proceed to impart our imagine that J. is very likely thoughts to some one else. We thinking that you are aged a have a cup of tea at the club bit !” with a mutual friend, a man of No need to say anything more. the same standing as ourselves
“ Thou art the man. The and our fallen idol, but a man, truth has come straight home be it remembered, whom we are to us at once; we do not require constantly in the habit of meet- to be told a second time that J. ing. To him we unburden our has observed the change in oursoul.
selves quite as readily as we “I ran up against old J. to- noticed the deterioration in day,” we remark, “and hardly him. knew him ; in fact, should not “Saw old A. to-day," we have known him at all if I had seem to hear J. telling some not been told who he was."
“ horrible old crock he “Why, I always thought that looks now : quite sad to see you prided yourself on your him.” memory,---never forgot a face, It is, we will venture to hope, and all that sort of thing." only when a rencontre of this “Well, I very seldom do for- type has
temporarily disget a face”—this rather hotly; organised our nervous system,
or when a touch of liver has so altered: you would caused us to feel out of charity not know him yourself if you with mankind in general and met him in the street."
ourselves in particular, that we "Oh yes, I should; I happen go to bed at deadly feud with to see him pretty often, and our old friend Anno Domini. I stay with him occasionally. For that one night at least we Perhaps you have not met him feel that we have a legitimate lately?”
ground for complaint against To that proposition we cordi- him. He has been altogether ally assent. We admit that we too much in evidence, and has have not met old J. for a long elected to bring the unpleasant time, never, in fact, since—since fact of his existence before our -how the years do fly, to be eyes in an over-obtrusive and sure !—why, never since we took wholly unfriendly manner. Now our degree; and how many years at last we seem to have viewed ago was that?
him not as in a glass darkly, Our companion, who has, but face to face in all his hideous though he does not boast about naked reality. We court sleep
you never in