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in low and nervous tones.  Great
people the Banglesthe Bangles of Tiffin
Villasonce in the East India linenow
retired.  Needless to say, they were the great
people of the entertainment.  Bangles was
liverless; but his words dropped wisdom.  Mrs.
Bangles, too, was —. More desperate cannonading,
more influx.  "Mr. and Mrs. MARJORAM!! "
behind whom entered softly, and
without announcement, Jones, my Boy.

  Decent interval for further interchange of
more barometrical notes: and the Corinthian
waiter appears abruptly with tidings that the
Lioness is served, which is the signal for uprising,
general rustle, and cruel bewilderment.
The old Lion has had instructions to take the
men aside, and appoint each to his companion;
but has lost his head, and has mated wrong
parties: which being all set straight by the
prompt energy of the Lioness, the procession
defiles slowly down.

  The dinner was laid out after what Mr.
Bowles styled "the Rooshian system," presenting
a pleasing prospect of dried fruits
and candied preparations.  The baked meats
that do so coldly furnish forth tables, were
kept studiously out of view, according to
the Muscovite practice.  Bangles looks with
unconcealed disgust at the whole thing.
The Misses Bangles are not inclined to be
so severe.  One has been paired with the
Reverend Alfred Hoblush, Curate of Saint
Stylites, a young person of tender thought
and delicate susceptibilities, and looks on the
"Rooshian" programme with favour.  Her
sister, too, who has been joined with Captain
Starkie (Royal Allonby Fusiliers), was so
absorbed, that it was found afterwards that
she had not so much as noted the peculiar
feature of the entertainment.

  But Jones, my Boy, who had been invited
specially to give a sort of sprightliness to
the feast, was proved to be a miserable
failure: his jokes, being damp, went off lamely.
There was a low familiarity about the man,
the Lioness was heard to say afterwards, that
made her blood boil.  In truth his humour
jarred painfully on the Indian nerves of Mr.
Bangles.  There was a rude boisterousness
in his quips, which made that Nabob shrink
away, as from an easterly wind.

  Meantime the dinner made progress slowly:
with a dismal stateliness suggestive of a
funeral feast.  It might indeed have been
such a melancholy occasion, with the funeral
games to succeed immediately.  There was a
sadness in Mr. Bowles's demeanour quite in
keeping; and a mournful cut about his raiment.
The stiff silver side-dishes associated
themselves with coffin decoration, and the
screen behind the Reverend Alfred Hoblush
might have stood for a tremendous
headstone.  It went forward slowly and
sadly, that Muscovite dinner; now halting,
now moving on spasmodically, chilling all
hearts.  Now it would be suspended indefinitely,
beyond all hope, attendant mutes
passing in and out uneasily.  An unforeseen
casualty had taken place below, gelatinous
confectionery having collapsed suddenly,
and become a mere pool.  Sounds of
unseemly wrangling would be heard outside,
attendants striving with fierce contention who
should bear in the head dish.  So it went
forward through many weary hours with long
dead pauses and unnatural silences, as though
the public outside were perpetually walking
over the guests' graves, silence only broken by
waiters' monachal chaunt of " Hocksherry
claretmadeira! " whispered confidentially.  So
the Russian feast staggered on ruefully, until
it came to the time for the ladies to pass
away; and the whole burden is thrown upon
the poor British Lion: he has been aground
long since, having drained himself utterly, for
Mrs. Bangles; so he can but draw in his chair
nervously, and keep passing the wine eternally,
until he become a pure unabated
nuisance, and positively drive his guests to
the drawing-room.  There the weary join
with the weary again, and hold halting converse
together.  The men wander about
gloomily, and look absently at stereoscopic
views.  The funereal coffee is presently
brought in.  At last Mrs. Bangles rises, and
goes her way with her family.  Then does it
all become a pure rout, an utter sauve qui
peut.  No one can be gone fast enough.

  How long, I ask again, is this to be endured?
How long, I say, is life to be made a burden
to wretched father-o'-families by reason of this
monstrous system?  As a British Lion, and
speaking for brother lions, I say again and
again, it is a nuisance, a monster nuisance!
Rouse yourselves, my brethren, and devise
a remedy!  Revive even the old Roman
system.  Give each invited a mappa or napkin,
and let him take away with him a portion of
the baked meats, or such as he may fancy:
but let him not consume it on the premises.
The Roman, the Greek, the Hindoo,—any
system but the present.  The pot of rice upon
the floor, common to all fingers, a more
cheerful repast.  Let us agitate, agitate!


On THURSDAY EVENING, APRIL 20th, his " Cricket on
the Hearth."

On THURSDAY EVENING, MAY 6th, his "Chimes."

On THURSDAY EVENING, MAY 13th, his " Christmas

Each Reading will commence at Eight exactly, and
will last two hours.

PLACES FOR EACH READING :—Stalls (numbered and
reserved), Five Shillings; Area and Galleries, Half-a-
crown; Unreserved Seats, One Shilling. Tickets to be
had at Messrs. Chapman and Hall's, Publishers, 193,
Piccadilly; and at St. Martin's Hall, Long Acre.