+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

use. The sort of reviewing I have illustrated,
is the sort I like; and what I feel that
Shakespeare missed no little in losing.

             MY BED AND BOARD.

A GREAT writer has somewhere told a
story of a man about townCrockey Doyle
was, I think, his namewho became very
popular in society through the talent he
possessed for making apologies. He would
give offence purposely, and be in the wrong,
advisedly, in order to be able to make,
afterwards, the most charming retractations in
the world. No one could be long angry
with a man who apologised so gracefully; so
he became popular accordingly, was asked
out to dinner frequently; and was eventually,
I dare say, popped into a snug berth in the
Tare and Tret Office.

I have not the easy eloquence of Crockey
Doyle. I am not popular. My most frequent
Amphytrions are Humphrey, Duke of
Glo'ster, or the head of the great oriental
house of Barmecide and Company. And no
one, I am sure, would ever dream of giving
me a place. Yet I am for ever making
apologies. Like the gambler's servant who
was "always tying his shoe;" like Wych
Street, which is always vehicle-obstructed;
like a friend of mine, who, whenever I meet
him, is always going to his tea, and never,
seemingly, accomplishes that repast; I am
always apologising either for the things I
have done, or for the things I ought to and
have not done. I have apologised in England,
and in France, and in Germany; here I am
again, a self-accusing clown apologising in
St. Petersburg of Russia; and I have little
doubt that if I live I shall be apologising
in Pekin, or New Orleans, or the Island of
Key West.

My apologies in the present instance are
due to my readers, firstly, for having loitered
and lingered outside the door of Heyde's, and
for having described everything concerning
that hotel save the hotel itself. Secondly,
for having placed the words Hand-Bell in the
large capitals without offering the slightest
explanation as to why that diminutive
tintitinabulum should be so suddenly promoted
in the typographical scale.

Touching the first, though you might have
put me down merely as a boretelling you
of things that did not interest you, or desirous
of spinning a lengthened yarn out of one
poor threador as a simpleton, nervous and
ashamed, who lingers long in the vestibule of
a mansion in which there is a feast prepared,
and he invited thereto, and takes his goloshes
off and on, instead of going upstairs boldly,
and making his bow to the hostess:—though
this may have been your conviction, I had, in
truth, a deep-laid and subtle design to impress
you with a notion of what an opposite
a Russian is to an English or a continental
hotel, and how fundamentally oriental are
the habits and manners of the people I am
cast among. The Russian hotel is, in fact,
nothing more than a Smyrniote or Damascene
caravanseraivast, lonely, unclean, thickly
peopled, yet apparently deserted,—the same
caravanserai, into whose roomy courtyard
you bring your camels, your asses, and your
bales of silks, and drugs, and pipes, and
Persian carpets; in whose upper chambers
you may have equivalents for pilaff and rice,
may go to bed afterwards armed, for fear
of thieves, and for want of them fight with
vermin. Heyde'stell it to all nationsis
clean; and Heyde's, internally, is German;
but its exterior arrangements have been
Russianised against the Heydian will; and
its inferior valetaille are all Muscovite:
hence the difficulty of entrance; hence the
listlessness of the outer domestics; hence the
necessity of the HAND-BELL I am about to
apologise for presently, and which is nothing
more than a substitute for the hand-clapping
which, in the East, brings the cafegi with the
coffee and chibouks, and in the Arabian
Nights' Entertainments, the forty thousand
black slaves with the jars of jewels on their

In the worst town's worst inn, I will not say
closest to the mere territorial Russian frontier,
but in German Russiasay in Riga or
Mittauthere is, instantly on the arrival of
the modestest bachelor traveller, with the
compactest of valises, a tremendous hurry-scurrying
to and fro of porters, boots (hausknechts,
the Germans call them,) chambermaids,
waiters, and even landlords. The carillon of
a great bell summons all these hotel myrmidons
from the vasty deep of the billiard-
room and the corridors as soon as your cab-
wheels are heard in the courtyard. The
landlord advances with the stereotyped grin,
and the traditional hand-rubbing peculiar
but common to all hotel landlords, from mine
host of the Garter in England to mine host
of the H├┤tel de Londres at Riga. The
hausknecht shoulders your luggage, and
disappears with it before you say whether you
mean to stop at the hotel or not; the
portier (pronounce porteer: tremendous men
are German porteersTitans with gold
aiguillettes on their shoulders, and selling on
their own private account cigars the choicest,
for those who like them), the portier pays
your cab, asks your name, and says there are
no letters for you as yet (he has never seen you
before in his life), but he rather thinks there
will be, next post. The waiter, or waiters,
skimmer about undecidedly, but ready for
everything, from an order for champagne to
an order for a sheet of letter-paper; the
chambermaid immediately converts herself
into a Mont Blanc of towels and a hot spring
of Iceland, in the way of cans of boiling
water; the very white-vested and night-
capped cook peeps through the grated
window of his kitchena prisoner in no respect
connected with Chillonand beams on you